Fri Nov 8 1:21pm ET
By MIKE BARNER
Brees is a top DFS target
We have a tricky slate of DFS ahead of us for Week 10 with six teams on a bye. With the Texans, Patriots and Eagles among the teams who won’t play, we will be missing several of the top options at various positions. With that being said, that doesn’t mean you can’t still come out of it a winner. Here are some players to consider at various price points, as well as some to avoid, while creating your entry.
Top-tier option: Drew Brees, NO vs. ATL ($6,500): Brees wasted no time making an impact in his return from a thumb injury, completing 34-of-43 passes for 373 yards and three touchdowns in Week 8 against the Cardinals. The only other full game that he played this season came against the Texans in Week 1 when he threw for 370 yards and two touchdowns. Those are two teams who have struggled to defend the pass, which has certainly helped Brees’ cause. He’ll get another great matchup out of the bye with the Falcons tied for the third-most touchdown passes allowed (19) in the league.
Cheap target: Daniel Jones, NYG at NYJ ($6,000): We saw the good side of Jones in Week 8 when he torched the Lions for 322 yards and four touchdowns. However, turnovers have mostly been a problem since he took over for Eli Manning. He again struggled in that department against the Cowboys last week, fumbling twice and throwing an interception to go along with only one touchdown. Rookie quarterbacks can be inconsistent like that, so Jones is no sure-fire option in DFS. However, facing a Jets team that just allowed three touchdown passes to Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Dolphins last week is awfully enticing.
Player to avoid: Baker Mayfield, CLE vs. BUF ($5,700): The Browns have lost four straight games and enter this contest as one of the more disappointing teams in the league at 2-6. Mayfield isn’t the only reason for their struggles, but it hasn’t helped that he hasn’t thrown for more than one touchdown in a game all season. Facing a Bills team that has allowed the third-fewest passing yards per game likely won’t help matters.
Top-tier option: Christian McCaffrey, CAR at GB ($8,600): At this point, the only reason not to deploy McCaffrey in your lineup is if you’re looking to be a contrarian in tournament play. He had another monster game last week against the Titans, rushing 24 times for 146 yards and two touchdowns. He already has 13 total touchdowns this season to go along with 881 rushing yards and 363 receiving yards. The Packers have allowed the ninth-most rushing yards per game and are tied for the third-most rushing touchdowns allowed. Buckle up and enjoy the ride.
Cheap target: David Montgomery, CHI vs. DET ($6,000): The Bears have finally unleashed their promising rookie, giving him 41 carries and nine targets over their last two games. He’s rewarded their faith in him with 223 total yards and three touchdowns. With Mitchell Trubisky struggling, the Bears would be wise to keep feeding Montgomery, especially considering the Lions have allowed the sixth-most rushing yards per game.
Player to avoid: Joe Mixon, CIN vs. BAL ($5,800): The Bengals are shaping up to be the worst team in the league with their offensive line being one of their many weaknesses. They haven’t opened many holes for Mixon, who has only 320 yards on 101 carries. While he does have three receiving touchdowns, he is still looking for his first rushing score of the season. The last time he faced the Ravens, they held him to 10 yards on eight carries. Considering they have allowed the second-fewest rushing yards per game, overall, things are once again looking bleak for Mixon.
Top-tier option: Michael Thomas, NO vs. ATL ($8,000): A Brees/Thomas stack will eat up a significant portion of your budget, but it will be difficult to resist in cash contests. Even with Brees sidelined for most of the season, Thomas has 73 receptions for 875 yards. His volume has been off the charts with at least 11 targets in six of his eight games. Don’t expect the Falcons to be the team that slows him down.
Cheap target: Christian Kirk, ARI at TB ($5,000): Kirk might be one of my favorite cheap targets at any position. Throw his two catch, eight-yard performance last week out the window. He was facing the 49ers, who have one of the best defenses in the league. Now he’ll take on the Bucs, a team that has allowed the second-most passing yards per game. The Cardinals have shown a propensity for wanting to get the ball in Kirk’s hands, giving him at least eight targets in four of the six games he has played.
Player to avoid: D.K. Metcalf, SEA at SF ($6,200): Metcalf is coming off the best performance of his young career after catching six passes for 123 yards and a touchdown versus the Bucs last week. While Kirk might benefit from that matchup in Week 10, Metcalf has to face the same 49ers team that shut down Kirk and the Cardinals’ offense. Add in Metcalf’s rising price tag and this might not be the week to add him to your entry.
Top-tier option: Austin Hooper, ATL at NO ($6,100): It looks like we are finally experiencing the Hooper breakout campaign that many of us have been yearning for. Last season was the most productive of his career, but he’s on pace to blow past those numbers with 52 catches and 591 yards through eight games. He’s already hauled in five touchdowns, which is one more than all of last season. In a position that has a lot of volatile options, Hooper’s consistency is extremely appealing.
Cheap target: Mike Gesicki, MIA at IND ($3,300): If you want to spend elsewhere, taking a chance on Gesicki isn’t that crazy of an idea. He is coming off of his best performance of the season, catching all six of his targets for 95 yards against the Jets in Week 9. The Dolphins lost one of their top wide receivers in Preston Williams (knee) during that game, who has since been placed on IR. With the potential for an expanded role in the offense moving forward, Gesicki is at least an option in tournament play.
Player to avoid: Jimmy Graham, GB vs. CAR ($4,500): There’s not a lot to see here with Graham. While he’s had an impressive career, he’s a shell of the player that he once was. He’s posted 20 or fewer receiving yards in three of his last four games and has caught more than four passes in a game only one time all season. I’d argue that Gesicki has similar upside, so I can’t justify spending the extra $1,200 for Graham.
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.
Free-agent defensive end Jadeveon Clowney isn't close to signing with a team in free agency, according to a few sources. A growing thought around the league is that Clowney could wait a while to find his new team, perhaps into training camp this summer. He hasn't gotten offers anywhere close to what he wants, which is a multi-year deal in the $20 million a season range. Instead, the consensus is that the Seahawks' offer to re-sign him was in the $13-15 million per-year range. The pass-rusher had only three sacks in 2019 and has a long injury history, which makes things more problematic with the current restrictions on physicals due to the coronavirus. Clowney can be a difference-maker when healthy, but he's a wild card because of his injury history and lack of a double-digit sack season.
The Dallas Cowboys agreed to a three-year deal with a base value of $7.5 million with former Los Angeles Rams kicker Greg Zuerlein on Friday, according to sources. Zuerlein will reunite with special teams coach John Fassel. The signing is bad news for Kai Forbath. Greg the Leg had a down year in 2019 because of a foot injury, making 24 of his 33 field-goal attempts (72.7 percent). He made just five of his 11 tries from 40-49 yards but did make all 42 of his extra points. The 32-year-old has one of the strongest legs in the league and should be able to rebound if healthy in a great environment where he'll get to kick indoors for at least half of his games. Zuerlein has made 82 percent of his field-goal tries in his eight seasons in the league.
The Philadelphia Eagles exercised tight end Zach Ertz's option for the 2021 season on Thursday, according to a source. Ertz will count for $8 million in 2020 and $8.25 million in 2021, and extension talks with him and the team will likely pick up in the coming months. The 29-year-old has proven to be one of the most valuable pass-catching tight ends in the NFL since he was drafted in the second round in 2013. Ertz caught 88 passes for 916 yards and six touchdowns in 15 games in 2019, and he's made the Pro Bowl each of the last three seasons. He's had 70-plus catches and at least 816 yards the last five seasons, culminating in 1,163 receiving yards and eight TDs in 2018. He's a high-end TE1, but the emergence of Dallas Goedert is starting to make him a little bit more risky.
The Minnesota Vikings re-signed running back Ameer Abdullah to an undisclosed deal on Friday. Abdullah, a second-round pick of the Lions in the 2015 draft, only had 23 rushing attempts for 115 yards (5.0 yards per carry) and no rushing scores in his first full season with the Vikings in 2019. He added 15 receptions on 21 targets for 88 yards and one touchdown. Behind Dalvin Cook, Alexander Mattison and Michael Boone on the running back depth chart, Abdullah is unlikely to move the needle in fantasy once again in 2020 unless Minnesota's running backs are hit hard by the injury bug.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians said that the team will look to bring in a "pass-catching back" in free agency and/or the draft to complement running back Ronald Jones II. Jones was brutal in his rookie season but stepped up in his sophomore campaign to run 172 times for 724 yards (4.2 yards per carry) and six touchdowns in 16 games (nine starts). He was splitting time with Peyton Barber, although he was the much better back for most of the season. He corralled 31 passes for 309 yards in the passing game, but his pass blocking still leaves a lot to be desired, and Tampa can't afford mistakes with Tom Brady under center in 2020. If Jones is sharing touches once again, especially through the air, it'll significantly lower his fantasy ceiling. Just because Brady is in town won't necessarily mean that Jones will break out. Don't overpay.
The Green Bay Packers are expected to re-sign running back/return man Tyler Ervin on an undisclosed one-year deal. Ervin was picked up off waivers midway through last season and gave the Packers a boost in the return game. The 26-year-old had 11 punt returns for 106 yards and also returned six kickoffs for 160 yards in four games in Green Bay in 2019. He did next to nothing on offense, though, carrying the ball just one time for 10 yards and catching two passes for 11 yards. He's strictly a special teams guy and is behind Aaron Jones, Jamaal Williams and Dexter Williams on the running back depth chart.
The Baltimore Ravens announced on Thursday that they wouldn't be signing defensive tackle Michael Brockers after being unable to agree on the terms of a contract after his high ankle sprain from last season was flagged on a physical. Instead, he's getting a three-year, $31.5 million deal to re-sign with the Los Angeles Rams, according to a source. It's a similar deal to what Baltimore had offered. The 29-year-old returns to the only team he's called home since being the 14th overall pick in 2012. He's not much to look at in fantasy in IDP leagues, but he'll return to strengthen the interior of LA's defensive line along with Aaron Donald.
The belief is that Denver Broncos recently signed running back Melvin Gordon III will be the team's bell-cow back in 2020. We have a long way to go before the start of the regular season and Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman will still get their touches in this crowded backfield, but Gordon could be the lead man in this backfield after coming over from the Chargers in free agency. On the surface, Denver's backfield looks like one to avoid in fantasy because of all the bodies in play, and Gordon's signing surely destroys Lindsay's fantasy upside as an RB2. The question now is how much upside will Gordon have and how large of a share will he command in his first season in Denver? He had a weak 3.8 yards per carry alongside Austin Ekeler in LA in 2019, and the Broncos could change up their plans if Gordon struggles out of the gates as the bell-cow.
Free-agent LB Elijah Lee (49ers) agreed to an undisclosed deal with the Detroit Lions Friday, March 27.
Free-agent LB Reggie Ragland (Chiefs) agreed to an undisclosed deal with the Detroit Lions Friday, March 27.
Free-agent RB Tyler Ervin (Packers) is expected to sign a one-year deal with the Green Bay Packers Friday, March 27. Financial terms weren't disclosed.
Free-agent DT Michael Brockers (Rams) spurned an agreement with the Baltimore Ravens Friday, March 27, and he agreed to a three-year deal with the Los Angeles Rams. The deal is worth up to $31.5 million. Brockers' high ankle sprain from late last year was flagged in his physical with the Ravens, and the two sides couldn't agree to contract alterations.
Chicago Bears RB Tarik Cohen picked up a first down on only 18 of his 79 catches in 2019. The resulting 22.8-percent first-down rate was the lowest in the league among all players with at least 50 receptions.
Buffalo Bills WR Stefon Diggs managed 63 catches - the second-lowest mark of his career - and was charged with a drop on 6.4 percent of his 94 targets - a dramatic increase from two percent in 2018 - but he still finished with a career-high 1,130 receiving yards in 2019 with the Minnesota Vikings due in part to averaging 13.1 yards before the catch per reception. That figure was more than double his 5.6 yards before the catch per reception the previous season.
Los Angeles Chargers RB Austin Ekeler hauled in 92 of his 108 targets last season. The resulting 85.2-percent catch rate led the league among all players with at least 50 receptions.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians shut down the possibility of free-agent wide receiver Antonio Brown landing with the Bucs on Thursday. "Theres no room and probably not enough money. Its just not going to happen here. Its not a fit here," Arians said. New quarterback Tom Brady is close with Brown and reportedly wanted him to follow him to his new home in Tampa, but that won't be happening. For one, it's not even known if the NFL will have Brown back amid all of his off-field issues and ongoing investigations. It was mostly a pipe dream all along after Brady and Brown played in one game together for the Patriots in 2019. Having Mike Evans and Chris Godwin as his top two receivers is already a huge upgrade on what Brady was working with in Boston last year.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR Mike Evans picked up a first down on 54 of his 67 catches in 2019, while Miami Dolphins WR DeVante Parker did so on 58 of his 72 receptions. The resulting 80.6 percent first-down rate for both players led the league among players with at least 50 receptions.
Kansas City Chiefs TE Travis Kelce recorded 1,229 receiving yards in 2019, becoming only the fifth tight end in NFL history to top 1,000 yards four times in his career. However, he is the only one ever to do so in four consecutive seasons.
Denver Broncos RB Melvin Gordon is believed to be in line for a bell-cow role in 2020, according to James Palmer of NFL Network Thursday, March 26.
Fantasy Spin: While promising for Gordon's fantasy value in 2020, it's bad news for those with shares of either Phillip Lindsay or Royce Freeman. Gordon is likely to be low-end RB1 or high-end RB2, while fantasy managers will have to choose between the other two as an RB4/5 later in drafts.
Free-agent WR Antonio Brown (Patriots) won't be signing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, according to head coach Bruce Arians Thursday, March 26. 'There's no room and probably not enough money,' Arians said. 'It's just not going to happen here. It's not a fit here.'