Fri Sep 11 10:19am ET
By MIKE BARNER
Josh Allen is setup for success
The NFL is back! There was a lot of uncertainty surrounding this season because of COVID-19, but the league moves forward this week as planned, although many games won’t have fans in the stadium. With the return of football comes the return of DFS. Let’s try to start out the season on a high note with a winning entry. Here are some players to consider for your entry at various price points, as well as a few to possibly avoid.
Josh Allen, BUF vs. NYJ ($6,300): The appeal with Allen is obviously his ability to contribute with his legs. Across his first two seasons in the league, he’s rushed for 1,141 yards and 17 touchdowns across 28 games. The Bills added to his weapons in the passing attack when they brought in Stefon Diggs, so he could be more productive through the air this season, as well. Look for him to take advantage of a Jets defense that traded away safety Jamal Adams and has lost linebacker C.J. Mosley, who decided to sit out the season.
Cam Newton, NE vs. MIA ($5,800): It’s going to be weird seeing someone other than Tom Brady at quarterback for the Patriots. They will begin a new era with Newton under center, who like Allen, has been a major contributor on the ground during his career. Expect the Patriots to play to his strengths against a Dolphins team that allowed the sixth-most rushing yards per game last season.
Player to Avoid
Baker Mayfield, CLE at BAL ($6,000): This is a pretty easy pass for me. Playing the Ravens on the road is about as tough as it gets. Their defense is loaded, which helped them hold opponents to the sixth-fewest passing yards per game last year. Across two games against them last year, Mayfield had only three touchdown passes to go along with two interceptions.
Christian McCaffrey, CAR vs. LV ($9,100): Not much of an argument needs to be made for adding McCaffrey to your entry, regardless of opponent. He can dominant a game either on the ground or in the passing game and will once again be the focal point of the Panthers’ offense. While his salary will eat up a significant portion of your budget, his ceiling is as high as any player at any position.
Chris Thompson, JAC vs. IND ($5,100): The Jaguars running back situation is a mess. They released Leonard Fournette, creating a massive void at the position. They will also be without Ryquell Armstead, who is on the reserve/COVID-19 list for at least Week 1. That could lead to plenty of passing down work for Thompson, who is basically only battling with James Robinson for snaps at the position. At this cheap salary, Thompson could be worth a look in tournament play.
Player to Avoid
Le’Veon Bell, NYJ at BUF ($6,600): It seems like the relationship between Bell and the Jets is going to end badly. He has clashed with head coach Adam Gase and struggled last season, rushing for 789 yards and three touchdowns across 15 games. That was the lowest rushing total of his career outside of when he played just six games in 2015. Starting off this year in a bad offense against what is expected to be one of the better defenses in the league could spell trouble.
Keenan Allen, LAC at CIN ($7,200): The Chargers will be undergoing a significant change of their own at quarterback with Tyrod Taylor taking over for Philip Rivers. Expect them to deploy a run-heavy offense, but that doesn’t mean that Allen can’t be productive. Fellow wide receiver Mike Williams (shoulder) is listed as a game-time decision, although it was previously reported that he could be out for most of September. If he does indeed sit, Allen should be busy with very little depth behind him at the position.
Henry Ruggs III, LV at CAR ($5,300): The Raiders badly needed to add talent at wide receiver, so drafting Ruggs in the first round was a no-brainer. He will now be thrust into an even more prominent role with Tyrell Williams (shoulder) out for the season. Rolling with a rookie wide receiver in Week 1 in a year when there were no preseason games is risky, but at this salary, Ruggs is still worth considering.
Player to Avoid
Amari Cooper, DAL at LAR ($7,000): Cooper is looking at a matchup with cornerback Jalen Ramsey, who is one of the best in the league. The Cowboys have plenty of other weapons around Cooper, so this might be a game that quarterback Dak Prescott focuses more on getting the ball to Michael Gallup and/or CeeDee Lamb. Allen has a much better matchup and his salary is only $200 more, making it difficult to justify taking a chance on Cooper.
George Kittle, SF vs. ARI ($6,100): Kittle missed one of the 49ers two games against the Cardinals last season, a team that allowed the second-most passing yards per game. He played well in the one game that he did face them, catching six of eight targets for 79 yards and a touchdown. The 49ers could be really thin at wide receiver with Deebo Samuel (foot) and Brandon Aiyuk (hamstring) both battling injuries, so look for Kittle to be busy in this contest.
Jack Doyle, IND at JAC ($4,500): Everything is lining up nicely for Doyle to get off to a hot start. First, Rivers has a history of developing successful connections with tight ends. Second, Eric Ebron departed during the offseason for the Steelers. Lastly, fellow tight end Trey Burton (calf) has been placed on IR. If you need to save money at the position, Doyle might be your man.
Player to Avoid
Austin Hooper, CLE at BAL ($5,000): Hooper cashed in on a productive 2019 campaign by signing with the Browns. While the move may have been good for his wallet, it might not be for his production. The Browns who two excellent running backs to go along with wide receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry, so there might not be nearly as many targets available for Hooper compared to his time with the Falcons. This matchup isn’t doing him any favors, either.
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.
Five Sleepers: Week 7
The Las Vegas Raiders defense has been statistically one of the worst defenses in the league this season. They are averaging under two fantasy points per game and face an ascending Buccaneers offense this week. Tom Brady is currently fourth in the league in passing touchdowns, and this Tampa Bay offense is ascending after hanging 31 offensive points on Green Bay in Week 6. The Raiders rank 27th in scoring defense and 24th in yards allowed. There is nothing to suggest they will have a good performance this week and should be kept on the bench or dropped entirely.
Las Vegas Raiders tight end Darren Waller has a tough test against the Buccaneers this week, but he should be able to produce a solid fantasy performance. Waller has been great at home this season, with 21 catches, 193 yards, and a touchdown in two games. The Buccaneers have one of the league's best defenses, but the Patriots are the only team to hold Waller under five catches so far this season. He currently ranks third in fantasy points per game among tight ends, and he leads the Raiders in targets. The Buccaneers rank sixth in the league against tight ends, but fantasy owners should feel comfortable starting him based on his performances so far this season.
Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Henry Ruggs III will have a tough matchup against a good Buccaneers secondary in Week 7. Ruggs had a breakout performance in his last game against the Chiefs, but his value rests with the deep ball at this time. That is not great news considering the Buccaneers are one of the best defenses against the deep ball, ranking third in the league in allowing receptions of over 20 yards. He was able to get loose in the Chiefs secondary with a 72-yard reception in the first half but caught just one other pass the rest of the game. Ruggs' big-play potential makes him a fringe flex option in deeper leagues, but don't expect a lot of targets for the rookie this week.
Las Vegas Raiders running back Josh Jacobs will face one of the league's best run defenses this week in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Buccaneers are allowing just three yards per carry and rank second in the league in total rushing yards allowed. Jacobs is having a productive year and is certainly a must-start option, but he is averaging just 3.6 yards per carry on the season. Jacobs has just one game this season where he has rushed for over four yards per carry. With that being said, he is still seventh in points per game among running backs. It will not be an easy day for Jacobs, but fantasy owners should feel encouraged that he can put up a solid fantasy performance despite a difficult matchup.
Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr will have one of his most difficult tests of the year against a great Buccaneers Defense. The Buccaneers defense has allowed just seven passing touchdowns and have grabbed eight interceptions in their six games this season. Opposing quarterbacks have a passer rating of 82 against this Todd Bowles defense. They confused Aaron Rodgers and made him uncomfortable, so this will not be an easy day for Carr. With that being said, Carr has thrown for almost 600 passing yards with five touchdowns and no interceptions in two home games this season. The Raiders are coming off a bye, and Carr is having a career year. However, he is likely a bench option this week due to the matchup.
The New Orleans Saints Defense faces a middle-of-the-pack matchup against the Carolina Panthers in Week 7. It's a date with former Saint Teddy Bridgewater, who started five games for the team in 2019. New Orleans' defense is finally starting to get healthy after a rash of injuries, as they will get Janoris Jenkins (shoulder) back and essentially be at full strength. This unit may start to put together some good performances, starting with this week. They can be used as a starting option.
New Orleans Saints kicker Wil Lutz faces a favorable matchup in Week 7 against the Carolina Panthers. Lutz is perfect on the season, having made all nine field-goals and all 18 extra-points. Carolina ranks 22nd in fantasy points allowed to kickers, making this a juicy matchup for Lutz. Expect strong fantasy numbers from the 26-year-old.
New Orleans Saints tight end Jared Cook could see more opportunities in Week 7 against the Panthers. Cook had one of his better games against the Chargers, catching two passes for 52 yards and a score. New Orleans is down two of it's best pass-catchers- Michael Thomas (ankle, hamstring) and Emmanuel Sanders (COVID-19)- heading into the contest against the Panthers. The veteran tight end should see more targets, making him a good start as a TE1 in Week 7.
Seattle Seahawks RB Carlos Hyde (shoulder, toe) fully participated in practice Friday, Oct. 23, and is not on the injury report for Week 7.
Fantasy Spin: Hyde will serve as the backup for Chris Carson but should see a handful of touches during the game. Fantasy players should be able to find better options and can keep Hyde on the bench.
San Francisco 49ers RB Raheem Mostert (ankle) did not participate in practice Friday, Oct. 23, and has been ruled out for Week 7.
Fantasy Spin: Mostert is expected to miss multiple weeks because of the injury, so fantasy players should look for other options to use. Jerick McKinnon and JaMycal Hasty likely will share playing time while Mostert is sidelined. McKinnon probably has more fantasy value and can be a flex option in leagues. Hasty should be rostered in leagues and has a chance to be a flex option depending on the opponent.
Los Angeles Chargers WR Keenan Allen (back) fully participated in practice Friday, Oct. 23, and is not on the injury report for Week 7.
Fantasy Spin: Allen has been targeted at least eight times in four of the five games this season and seems to have a good connection with Justin Herbert. Allen can be considered a No. 1 or No. 2 receiver in fantasy leagues.
Arizona Cardinals WR DeAndre Hopkins (ankle) was limited during practice Friday, Oct. 23, and is listed as questionable for Week 7.
Fantasy Spin: Hopkins likely will be able to play despite the injury, but fantasy players will need to check the inactive list for his status. He is a must-start option in all leagues if he is active for the game.
New Orleans Saints wide receiver Tre'Quan Smith faces a tricky matchup in Week 7 against the Panthers. However, matchup concerns are alleviated by the fact that New Orleans will be without Michael Thomas (ankle, hamstring) and Emmanuel Sanders (COVID-19). Smith will be busy against a Panthers Defense that has surrendered the fourth-fewest fantasy points per game to wideouts. With a good chance of finding the end zone, Smith is looking like a high-end WR3 in Week 7, despite the matchup.
Kansas City Chiefs WR Sammy Watkins (hamstring) did not participate in practice Friday, Oct. 23, and has been ruled out for Week 7.
Fantasy Spin: Demarcus Robinson served as the No. 2 receiver for the Chiefs last week and probably will have a similar role this week. He can be a flex option or bye week replacement in fantasy leagues.
New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara gets an excellent matchup against the Panthers Defense. Kamara has offered fantasy managers the safest floor of any running back, particularly in PPR formats, as he's had at least 19 fantasy points in every game this season. He'll go up against a Panthers defense allowing the fourth-most fantasy points per game to opposing halfbacks. The Saints will probably go with a more run-heavy approach, seeing as their top-two wideouts- Michael Thomas (ankle, hamstring) and Emmanuel Sanders (COVID-19)- are out for the contest. Kamara is a must-start in redraft leagues and is well worth the price in DFS formats.
New Orleans Saints running back Latavius Murray has a favorable matchup in front of him against the Panthers in Week 7. Murray has had at least 13 touches in three of five contests this season, with two of those games coming against teams that struggle to stop the run. New Orleans will be without Michael Thomas (ankle, hamstring) and Emmanuel Sanders (COVID-19) against the Panthers' 24th-ranked run defense. Murray is a good bet for 12-15 touches in Week 7, putting him squarely in the flex discussion.
Los Angeles Rams WR Robert Woods (groin) did not participate in practice Friday, Oct. 23.
Fantasy Spin: Fantasy players will need to keep an eye on the situation to see if Woods will be able to play in Week 7. He can be a No. 2 or No. 3 receiver in fantasy leagues if he is cleared to play.
Los Angeles Rams TE Tyler Higbee (hand) did not participate in practice Friday, Oct. 23.
Fantasy Spin: Higbee probably will need to practice Saturday, Oct. 24, if he wants a chance to play in the Week 7 game. He is coming off his best game of the season and would see a few targets if he plays this week. He could be a low-end No. 1 tight end in some leagues.
Los Angeles Rams OT Andrew Whitworth (non-injury) and DT Aaron Donald (non-injury) fully participated in practice Friday, Oct. 23.
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees faces the Panthers in Week 7. Brees will face a sneakily-good Carolina defense without his top two receivers, Michael Thomas (ankle, hamstring) and Emmanuel Sanders (COVID-19). Despite not having Thomas, Brees has thrown for at least 250 yards or two touchdowns in each game this season, giving fantasy managers a solid floor. The Panthers allow the fourth-fewest fantasy points per game to quarterbacks, limiting Brees' upside. However, he should be able to finish as a solid QB2 in Week 7.