Fri Oct 18 10:05am ET
By MIKE BARNER
Engram poised for big Week 7
With the Browns, Panthers, Steelers and Buccaneers all on a bye for Week 7, we are missing some of the most impactful players in the world of DFS. However, that doesn’t mean there still aren’t a lot of great options to consider. Let’s break down each position and discuss both some players to target and some to keep out of your lineup-making process.
Top-tier option: Jared Goff, LAR at ATL ($6,100): Goff might not be the most expensive quarterback on the slate, but he’s certainly one of the most appealing ones. Despite compiling just 78 passing yards last week against the 49ers, he can be productive in the right matchup. Case in point, he had 517 passing yards and two touchdowns in Week 4 against a bad Bucs’ secondary. The Falcons have been almost as dreadful, allowing the sixth-most passing yards per game in the league and 15 touchdown passes.
Cheap target: Gardner Minshew II, JAC at CIN ($5,800): I had Minshew here last week, as well, but he flopped with 163 yards and a pick against the Saints. Don’t let one bad performance get you down on Minshew Mania. This is a prime spot for him to bounce back with a great stat line considering the Bengals will likely be without two of their top cornerbacks in Dre Kirkpatrick (knee) and William Jackson (shoulder).
Player to avoid: Teddy Bridgewater, NO at CHI ($5,800): Minshew wasn’t the only quarterback to have a quiet performance in that Saints-Jaguars game. Bridgewater wasn’t as bad, but he finished with only 240 passing yards and one touchdown. He’s thrown for 240 yards or fewer in three of his four starts and has two games with one or no touchdown passes. Facing a Bears’ defense that is one of the stingiest in the league is not the time to deploy Bridgewater in DFS.
Top-tier option: Leonard Fournette, JAC at CIN ($7,200): The secondary won’t be the only area of concern for the Bengals. They have been chewed up by opposing running backs, allowing the most rushing yards per game and the most rushing touchdowns. Fournette has been a workhorse with 115 carries and 36 targets, leaving him with a tremendously high floor in this matchup.
Cheap target: Devin Singletary, BUF vs. MIA ($5,700): Singletary hasn’t been on the field since going down with a hamstring injury in Week 2. The good news is the bye week seems to have helped him since he’s been listed as a full participant in practice. While he’ll still have to share the workload with Frank Gore, being priced this low makes him a viable target against a Dolphins defense that has allowed the second-most rushing yards per game.
Player to avoid: Melvin Gordon, LAC at TEN ($6,700): It hasn’t been pretty in two games since Gordon returned from his contract holdout. The Chargers have given him 20 carries, but he’s only turned that into 49 yards while failing to find his way into the end zone. Austin Ekeler will continue to steal some snaps from him and the Titans have only allowed three rushing touchdowns this season, so I’m not taking a chance on Gordon at this price. Pay the extra $500 and roll with Fournette.
Top-tier option: Cooper Kupp, LAR at ATL ($7,100): With Goff tanking last week, Kupp had only four catches for 17 yards on six targets. Considering he had at least 101 receiving yards in each of his previous four contests, I’m largely ignoring last week’s dud. With the Falcons’ struggles to defend the pass already detailed, a Rams stack with Goff and Kupp has a great chance to be profitable.
Cheap target: John Brown, BUF vs. MIA ($5,600): The addition of Brown to the Bills’ offense has been seamless so far, catching 28 of 39 targets for 390 yards and a touchdown through five games. He hasn’t received fewer than five targets in any game, reaching at least 10 targets two times. The Dolphins have allowed 14 touchdown passes and the seventh-most passing yards per game, leaving Brown with plenty of upside at this reasonable price.
Player to avoid: Terry McLaurin, WAS vs. SF ($5,600): If there is someone to be excited about on the Redskins, it’s McLaurin. The rookie looks like one of the building blocks for the franchise, posting 23 catches, 408 yards and five touchdowns through five games. However, the 49ers defense has been excellent, resulting in them allowing the fewest passing yards per game. There will be plenty of weeks down the road in which you’ll want to target McLaurin, but this isn’t one of them.
Top-tier option: Evan Engram, NYG vs. ARI ($5,900): The Giants sorely missed Engram last week against the Patriots. He’s been one of the staples of their offense, posting 33 receptions, 373 receiving yards and two touchdowns across five games. He hasn’t received fewer than seven targets in any contest and should be back this week for a prime matchup against a Cardinals’ defense that has been destroyed by opposing tight ends. No need to overthink this one.
Cheap target: Hunter Henry, LAC at TEN ($5,000): In need of some help in the passing game, the Chargers finally got some relief last week with the return of Henry. He immediately made his presence felt, catching eight of nine targets for 100 yards and two touchdowns. While the two touchdowns will likely be hard to replicate this week, the target share shouldn’t. With that kind of volume, he can provide value at this price.
Player to avoid: Eric Ebron, IND vs. HOU ($4,400): Since we’re talking about volume, now’s a good time to bring up Ebron. He hasn’t been overly involved in the Colts’ offense with only 20 targets through five games. That has resulted in three games in which he caught only one pass. While he’s always a threat in the red zone, having a healthy Jack Doyle will continue to limit his opportunities. Henry has significantly more upside, and while the $600 price difference is nothing to sneeze at, it isn’t large enough to warrant rolling with Ebron.
Mike Barner has been covering fantasy sports since 2007. His work has appeared in Sports Illustrated, Yahoo, SportsLine and RotoWire. Mike was also a finalist for the 2018 FSWA Basketball Writer of the Year award. Follow Mike on Twitter @rotomikebarner.
The moment could be now for San Francisco 49ers rookie wide receiver Deebo Samuel. With tight end George Kittle (knee, ankle) and wideout Emmanuel Sanders (ribs) banged up in Week 10, Samuel drew a season-high 11 targets, converting them into eight grabs and 112 yards. With both Kittle and Sanders likely to miss Week 11s tilt against the Arizona Cardinals, Samuel is a plug-and-play WR3. Samuel possesses an intriguing speed and burst combination in the 80th percentile and ranks ninth in the NFL with an 86 percent catchable target rate. Although hes battled consistency this season, Samuel has a golden opportunity to embrace the lead dog role against a Cardinals pass defense ranked 26th in DVOA.
Indianapolis Colts tight end Jack Doyle (shoulder) is back at practice on Thursday after sitting out on Wednesday. Doyle should be able to play this weekend in Week 11 against the Jaguars. He has scored in back-to-back weeks but has only 66 yards receiving in that timeframe and has his upside limited while sharing snaps with teammate Eric Ebron. However, Doyle will have more TE2 streaming appeal if T.Y. Hilton (calf) misses another game this weekend with quarterback Jacoby Brissett (knee) expected to return.
Indianapolis Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton (calf) wasn't spotted at practice on Thursday for the second straight day this week. Hilton has a chance to return in Week 11 against the Jaguars, but he'll likely need to get in at least a limited practice on Friday since he hasn't played since getting injured in Week 8. As of right now, you should be planning to be without him for another week. Zach Pascal has been the best bet at wideout for the Colts with Hilton out, with Chester Rogers and Marcus Johnson filling out three-receiver sets. Indy should continue to lean on their ground game with running back Marlon Mack if Hilton remains sidelined. The good news for Pascal owners is that quarterback Jacoby Brissett (knee) is expected back after missing Week 10.
Buffalo Bills rookie tight end Dawson Knox (knee) was held out of practice on Thursday due to a sore knee, but head coach Sean McDermott expects Knox to return to practice on Friday and be fine for Week 11 against the Dolphins. Knox has shown some potential in his first year in the NFL and he has an excellent matchup in Miami this Sunday, but the youngster is still a low-end, touchdown-dependent TE2 in a Bills offense led by inconsistent quarterback Josh Allen.
Baltimore Ravens rookie wide receiver Marquise Brown (ankle) was absent from practice on Thursday after being limited on Wednesday. Brown could be truly questionable for Week 11 against the Texans, so his status on Friday is one to watch. He had a good game in Week 10 against the winless Bengals despite playing limited snaps, so the downfield speedster is truly a boom-or-bust WR3 in his rookie season on limited chances this year. He does have a good matchup against Houston's secondary if he plays, but he could come down to a game-time decision. Tight end Mark Andrews would have a higher ceiling as an elite TE1 if Brown misses this weekend. Baltimore's other receivers haven't proven fantasy relevant when Brown has missed time this year.
Washington Redskins running back Adrian Peterson (toe) is not practicing on Thursday after being limited on Wednesday. It's a downgrade for AD, but the Redskins could just be resting the veteran with the season entering the second half. After all, interim head coach Bill Callahan has been riding Peterson hard since he took over. Even if Peterson plays, he'll have a lower ceiling as an RB3/flex with Derrius Guice (knee) expected to have a big role for the first time since suffering a knee injury in the season opener. The two running backs could easily cannibalize each other on a low-scoring Redskins offense led by shaky rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins. Stay away if you can. Guice would obviously have more RB3 appeal if Peterson is out or limited.
Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Alshon Jeffery (ankle) missed practice for the second straight day this week on Thursday, putting him on the wrong side of questionable for Week 11's showdown with the Patriots. The Eagles really can't afford to be without Jeffery now that DeSean Jackson (abdomen) is out for the year. That would mean three-wide sets that would likely consist of Nelson Agholor, Mack Hollins and rookie J.J. Arcega-Whiteside. If Jeffery sits, tight ends Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert will be targeted more often, while Agholor might be worth a look as a flex in deeper leagues and in DFS. Jeffery would have greater bust potential if he plays, as he's expected to be shadowed by shutdown corner Stephon Gilmore.
The Falcons Defense surprisingly came off their bye week and thwarted the Saints in Week 10, sacking Drew Brees six times and holding the Saints to just nine points. However, it was a rare gem in a season that's seen the team get lit up time and time again. In Week 11, the Falcons face the Panthers in Carolina. While the Falcons may be able to force one or two turnovers from Kyle Allen and company, they could very well get torched by Christian McCaffrey and see themselves allowing over 30 points in the game. Keep the Falcons defense on the waiver wire this week.
Arizona Cardinals running back Chase Edmonds (hamstring) missed practice for the second straight day this week on Thursday and is on track to miss another game in Week 11 against the 49ers. Edmonds had some fleeting RB2 appeal when David Johnson (ankle, back) was sidelined, but that opportunity has dried up after the team traded for Kenyan Drake. Drake could be the leader in the backfield going forward as long as Johnson struggles with multiple injuries. The Cardinals have their bye coming up in Week 12, so Edmonds is droppable in almost all leagues if you're still holding onto him.
Detroit Lions running back Ty Johnson (concussion) returned to practice on Thursday after sitting out on Wednesday. It's unclear if Johnson has passed the league's concussion protocol, but it's progress nonetheless and gives him a shot to play in Week 11 against the Cowboys. If he's active, expect the Lions to go with a three-headed monster in the backfield that will also include J.D. McKissic and Paul Perkins. Johnson has rushed 14 times for only 55 yards in the last two games, and he'd be a low-upside RB3/flex in deeper leagues if he's playing. McKissic would be on the streaming radar if Johnson is inactive, but this is a situation to avoid if you can, especially since it looks like quarterback Matthew Stafford (back) will miss another game.
Atlanta Falcons rookie running back Qadree Ollison should have an opportunity to receive his first NFL carry this week. The team will likely be without No. 1 running back Devonta Freeman (foot) for the game, making Brian Hill the next-man-up and Ollison his potential No. 2. Ollison is the biggest back amongst the Falcons' core rushers, standing 6'1" and weighing around 230 pounds. He could carve out a role as the team's short-yardage back. He should be on radars in all formats and is worthy of an add in leagues of 14 or more teams if you're thin at running back. He's too risky to consider starting this week as his workload is unknown and Hill is likely to shoulder a heavy load.
Atlanta Falcons tight end Jaeden Graham has an opportunity to carve out a short-term role in the offense this week with Austin Hooper (MCL) sidelined. The team may also be without Luke Stocker (knee), who is dealing with a knee injury. Graham has just two targets on the year and has caught both of them for a total of 32 yards. The Falcons have a prolific passing offense and Hooper established himself as one of the most consistent and reliable fantasy tight ends out there this year. Hooper could miss about a month, which opens up an opportunity for Graham to be a sneaky tight end option in the coming weeks. This week, however, he's too risky to trust as a starter.
Chicago Bears head coach Matt Nagy said that rookie running back David Montgomery (ankle) "lightly rolled" his ankle in practice on Wednesday. The Bears will keep an eye on him before the Week 11 matchup on Sunday night against the Rams. It's a situation to watch, and it could be troubling for fantasy owners with the game on Sunday night if Montgomery winds up being a game-time decision. The good news is that the rookie was limited in practice on Wednesday, so he should be able to play, barring a late-week setback. Montgomery hasn't been all that efficient in his first year, but his workload is building as the season goes on, making him a low-end RB2 despite the tough matchup. Tarik Cohen would be a must-start if Montgomery can't play.
Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (back) remained out of practice for the second straight day this week on Thursday. Stafford is headed towards his second straight missed game after not sitting out since 2010. His absence would be a downgrade for all of Detroit's skill players in a tough matchup against the Cowboys. Jeff Driskel didn't embarrass himself against a strong Bears Defense in Week 10, but he'd be a low-end QB2 if he's forced to make a second straight start. Stafford must at least get in a limited practice on Friday to have a chance at playing this weekend.
Atlanta Falcons kicker Younghoe Koo had a flawless debut for the team in Week 10, converting all four of his field goal attempts, including a 48-yarder, and both of his extra-point attempts. The Falcons face the Panthers in a Week 11 game that should be high-scoring. Even though the Falcons will be without a few of their offensive weapons, they should still be able to put Koo in position for at least a few field goals in the game. He's a low-end starting option at kicker this week.
Atlanta Falcons running back Devonta Freeman (foot) has been held out of practice this week and figures to be sidelined for Week 11 and potentially Week 12 as well. He is dealing with a foot injury that he suffered in Week 10 against the Saints. He is currently listed as doubtful for Week 11 against the Panthers. Freeman has had a bit of a rough year overall, averaging just 3.5 yards per carry. Most of the damage he's done has been in the passing game. The team also recently placed Ito Smith (neck) on IR, which leaves Brian Hill and Qadree Ollison as the Falcons' primary backs going into Week 11. Hill is a must-add in all fantasy formats while Ollison is worth watching and is even a potential add in deep leagues.
Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Russell Gage has earned 14 targets over his last two games. While he hasn't done too much with them from a yardage standpoint, gaining only 81 total yards the past two games, his 11 catches over the past two games certainly inspire hope in PPR formats. To add to the attraction for Gage, the Falcons will be without Austin Hooper (MCL) in Week 11 and likely won't have running back Devonta Freeman (foot) as well. That opens up a lot of potential targets for Gage. Expect him to see six or seven targets in Week 11 against the Panthers, giving him a good chance to catch five passes, warranting a WR3 or flex start in PPR formats.
It's been a roller-coaster type of year for Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley. He was rolling early in the season, but has gone without a touchdown in three straight games, and has failed to top 30 receiving yards in two of those three games. This week, Ridley and the Falcons face the Panthers. The team is going to be short-handed offensively with Austin Hooper (MCL) and Devonta Freeman (foot) sidelined. There's also a chance that quarterback Matt Ryan (ankle) misses the game. Ridley should have an opportunity to step up in the absence of Hooper and Freeman. Expect him to see at least six or seven targets from whoever is quarterback, giving him a good chance to come down with four or more catches and around 70 or 80 yards. He's a solid WR2 option this week.
Indianapolis Colts WR Devin Funchess (clavicle) has returned this week to put in limited work in practice, but isn't likely to play Sunday, Nov. 17. '(The) bone has gotta heal,' Funchess said Thursday, Nov. 14, of his broken collarbone suffered in the season opener.
Fantasy Spin: The Colts, with their banged-up WR corps, and some deeper-league fantasy owners could use Funchess right now, but don't expect him back for a couple of weeks by most indications.
Minnesota Vikings WR Adam Thielen (hamstring) remained out of practice Thursday, Nov. 14, and it appears unlikely he will play Week 11 against the Denver Broncos.
Fantasy Spin: Thielen's chances of returning before the Vikings' Week 12 bye were essentially nixed when he tried to play but quickly re-aggravated things in Week 9, so don't expect to see Thielen until Week 13 at the earliest.