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DFS Week 7: Thursday night picks for Broncos-Browns matchup

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By Jeff Hicks, 4for4

Special to Yahoo Sports

Yahoo has expanded their daily fantasy football options with a single-game option, with a roster construction of one ‘Superstar’ that scores at 1.5 times while the remaining four spots accumulate points at the normal rate. This is half-point PPR scoring and the ‘Superstar’ salary does not change from the Utility. All scoring and rules can be found here.

The fantasy football gods are smiling down upon us. The Denver Broncos head to Cleveland to take on what is left of the Cleveland Browns and their offense.

It is vital to remember that single-game slates are not simply a “max salary, play as many big names as possible, and submit” format, especially in larger tournament fields. We need to identify players who can be pieces in their offense’s success, whether in the lead or trailing, as well as the players who could be focal points in a neutral game script. The ability to then take those players and identify which will succeed in the single-game format will put us in a better position to succeed as daily fantasy players.

For up-to-the-minute and Sunday morning updates, be sure to join the 4for4 DFS subscription-only Discord channel.

Vegas Total and Spread

Cleveland is favored by two with an over/under of 40.5 points. The Browns have an implied team total of 21.25 points, while the Broncos have an implied team total of 19.25 points.

Potential Game Flow Scenarios

The bad news for the Browns is that Baker Mayfield’s left shoulder is getting worse. The good news is Case Keenum ($20) has a successful track record playing under head coach Kevin Stefanski in Minnesota. Play-action passes, successful runs, and short, easy passes are what led Keenum and the Vikings to a 12-3 record in 2017. The problem with that is Keenum could be without his top two receivers and offensive tackles, starting center, and will be without his top two running backs. Alas, Keenum did not have a healthy Dalvin Cook in 2017 but thrived with Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen. If Jarvis Landry (knee, $17) is activated from IR and Odell Beckham (shoulder, $23) can play through pain, the receiving depth will go a long way to helping Keenum on a short week.

Cleveland Browns quarterback Case Keenum (5) looks to pass during an NFL preseason football game against the New York Giants, Sunday, Aug. 22, 2021, in Cleveland. The Browns won 17-13. (AP Photo/David Richard)
Case Keenum takes over at quarterback for the Cleveland Browns, and is the stone minimum in DFS salary at $20. (AP Photo/David Richard)

Donovan Peoples-Jones ($13) and Rashard Higgins ($12) are more than respectable as secondary receivers but against a tough Broncos defense ($17), would be ineffective. The Broncos defense is ranked 9th and 12th in schedule-adjusted fantasy points against (aFPA) to opposing quarterbacks and wide receivers, respectively.

D'Ernest Johnson ($15) gets his first career start at running back and will also have tough sledding against a top-10 run defense. Johnson has never rushed for 100 yards in a game but has also only topped 10 carries once in three seasons. His backup rookie Demetric Felton ($12), has seen time in college and the pros as a wideout and is integral in Keenum’s success on short-yardage plays.

The Broncos are dealing with injuries at the linebacker level, which plays into Keenum’s wheelhouse.

[Play in Yahoo's $100K Single Game Baller for DEN vs. CLE]

The Broncos are not without their own injury issues on offense. Teddy Bridgewater has a quad and foot injury that could limit his production. Drew Lock is also an option at QB for Denver but it appears Vic Fangio and company prefer Bridgewater at less than 100%. The difference between Bridgewater’s health concerns and Keenum’s is Bridgewater still has his best backs and three of his four best receiving options. Melvin Gordon ($19) and Javonte Williams ($19) continue to run as a two-headed backfield with the duo splitting carries 50-50 the past two weeks and 50-47 in favor of Gordon for the season. Gordon also has a slight edge in receiving work. That means no matter the situation, Gordon or Williams could be on the field.

Courtland Sutton is the best receiver in Denver and is the team leader in targets, air yards, and receiving fantasy points. Noah Fant and Tim Patrick follow in the ranks and form a tight trio of options no matter the signal-caller. The Browns defense ($16) has taken a step back in 2021, ranking 31st against quarterbacks, 20th against receivers, and 12th against tight ends according to aFPA. Those numbers could look worse if DEs Jadeveon Clowney and Malik Jackson, and LB Malcolm Smith miss Week 7 due to injuries.

It is also important to mention that wind could play a factor tonight. Wind speed is expected to range between 15 and 25 mph, and if the wind sustains speeds of 20 mph or higher than it can have an effect on passing the ball.

Close, low-scoring game

  • D'Ernest Johnson

  • Browns defense

  • Javonte Williams

  • Melvin Gordon

  • Broncos defense

Close, high-scoring game

  • Case Keenum

  • D'Ernest Johnson

  • Demetric Felton

  • Odell Beckham

  • Donovan Peoples-Jones

  • Austin Hooper

  • Teddy Bridgewater

  • Melvin Gordon

  • Javonte Williams

  • Courtland Sutton

  • Tim Patrick

  • Noah Fant

Blowout for home team

  • Case Keenum

  • D'Ernest Johnson

  • Demetric Felton

  • Odell Beckham

  • Donovan Peoples-Jones

  • Rashard Higgins

  • Austin Hooper

  • David Njoku

  • Browns defense

  • Teddy Bridgewater

  • Tim Patrick

  • Courtland Sutton

  • Noah Fant

Blowout for road team

  • Teddy Bridgewater

  • Melvin Gordon

  • Javonte Williams

  • Tim Patrick

  • Courtland Sutton

  • Noah Fant

  • Kendall Hinton

  • Broncos defense

  • Case Keenum

  • Demetric Felton

  • Odell Beckham

  • Donovan Peoples-Jones

  • Austin Hooper

[Visit 4for4, where 92% of subscribers made the playoffs, for more]

Cheap/Unique Stacking Option

Traditional stacks such as QB/WR1 or WR2, QB/TE, and RB/DEF are stacks seen used in winning lineups. The obvious choice is not always the winning choice. Below is a cheap stack with at least one unique quality that could break the slate.

Demetric Felton ($12) and David Njoku ($12)

Njoku has the same target share as fellow TE Austin Hooper and is more than doubling his air yards. Felton’s 0.7 average target depth is perfect for a QB that will be under pressure and needing to find a quick out in the passing game.

Low-Salary Volatile Plays

Donovan Peoples-Jones ($13) and Rashard Higgins ($12)

Even with Jarvis Landry Landry active, his workload could be limited in a potentially ugly game.

Kendall Hinton ($10)

Hinton was the center of one of the most unfortunate stories of 2020 as Denver’s starting QB for one week. We're talking about him as a wide receiver here as he's been running in three-wide sets with injuries plaguing the position. As long as Jerry Jeudy is out for Denver, Hinton has a role and will contribute (five receptions Week 6).

John Brown ($10)

"Smokey" is on the active roster and could be a deep threat if he is allowed on the field.

Austin Hooper ($10)

Case Keenum needs quick routes run, and Hooper has the second-lowest average target depth among Browns receiving options with at least three targets per game.

Felton and Njoku fit this section as well.

Superstar Picks

Case Keenum ($20)

Be. Different. I like his relationship with Kevin Stefanski and it is a revenge game. The wind won’t change how Keenum’s short passes move and if the Broncos get out to a big lead, there is garbage time potential.

Courtland Sutton ($19)

Due to injuries on both teams, Sutton will be the best player on the field Thursday night. He also collected his second 200-air yard game of the season in Week 6, joining Davante Adams in that club.

D'Ernest Johnson ($15)

This game has the potential to be slow, meaning running backs can take center stage. The Gordon/Williams split makes it difficult to roster either at the Superstar slot, and the Browns are slight favorites.

Noah Fant ($16)

Fant is off the injury report (foot) and put up 9/97/1 in Week 6. Fant will get work no matter the QB.

This article originally appeared in its full form on 4for4.com

Jeff has played fantasy sports since 2001. He has covered fantasy and traditional sports at the pro, semi-pro, and amateur level for the better part of a decade. Born in Illinois and currently living where James Robinson made a name for himself in college, Jeff enjoys running (establish it), followed by doing absolutely nothing.

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