Start: Tre’Quan Smith, John Ross in DFS
Smith has yet to explode since being given an expanded role and he may eventually lose targets to newly signed Dez Bryant, but he did score last week. He will face off Sunday against Dre Kirkpatrick and a Bengals secondary that’s allowed the most fantasy points to Smith’s primary side over the last month.
Ross is always a risk of a mid-game injury, but he returned to a full practice this week coming off Cincinnati’s bye. He should see increased targets with A.J. Green sidelined. The Saints have a stout run defense, yet have yielded the most fantasy points to wide receivers this season. Ross is a strong flier at just $10.
Buffalo Bills vs. New York Jets
Start: Zay Jones, New York defense
It’s a challenge to find any Bills player worth using, but Jones has the team’s biggest advantage Sunday running from the slot against Buster Skrine. Kelvin Benjamin, meanwhile, produced a worse Passer Rating on throws to him last week than if the QB had spiked it every play.
The Jets may get competent quarterback play with Josh McCown stepping in, they’ve been competent at home this season, and get this week’s nut draw with the Bills matchup. Buffalo may even have to start Nathan Peterman again, but New York is my top defense this week regardless.
Atlanta Falcons vs. Cleveland Browns
Start: Tevin Coleman in DFS, Duke Johnson
It’s usually best not to chase last week’s points, especially with an inconsistent back who shares touches like Coleman, but he gets a funnel run defense in the Browns that ranks second against the pass and 31st versus the rush in DVOA (only the Bengals have been worse against running backs over the last five games).
Johnson played a similar amount of snaps as he had been last week after Cleveland’s coaching changes, but saw nine targets after his previous season-high was four. The offense moved far better with him involved. He gets the NFL’s most inviting defense to face if you’re a pass-catching back Sunday, so I have Johnson as a top-20 RB this week.
Washington Redskins vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Start: Maurice Harris
Sit: Peyton Barber
Harris had 10 catches last week, and he’s someone who may finally be emerging from Washington’s wide receivers. Jamison Crowder may return this week, which would push Harris out of the slot, but Tampa Bay has been burned by wideouts from all positions on the field this season.
Barber is stuck on one score over 104 carries with a lowly 3.6 YPC mark this season, and he’s been limited in practice with an ankle injury. He’ll be tough to rely on even in a plus matchup. Tampa Bay’s defense is an interesting cheap DFS punt with Washington dealing with so many injuries on its offensive line.
New England Patriots vs. Tennessee Titans
Start: Josh Gordon in DFS, Dion Lewis in DFS
Gordon looked good last week, turning a season-high 10 targets into 130 yards and a TD. He was recently taken off New England’s injury report for the first time since joining the team and gets a dream matchup against Malcolm Butler, who’s been lit up for an NFL-high 0.57 fantasy points per pass route. Gordon should go off during Butler’s revenge game.
Corey Davis once again gets a tough draw, this time in shadow coverage from Stephon Gilmore, but Lewis has totaled 277 yards over the last two weeks (catching all 10 of his targets), quickly emerging as a strong RB2 option. The Patriots have allowed the fourth-most receptions and second-most receiving yards to running backs this season.
Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Indianapolis Colts
Start: Donte Moncrief, Jack Doyle
It’s tough advocating any Jacksonville receiver, but Moncrief is getting 21 percent of the Jaguars’ targets and 32 percent of their air yards. No team has been as bad defending wide receivers as Indy over the last five games.
Andrew Luck throws a ton to tight ends, and Doyle reestablished himself as the team’s clear No. 1 before their bye. Jacksonville’s defense hasn’t been as shutdown this season and will be missing A.J. Bouye. Doyle’s still plenty affordable in DFS as well.
Detroit Lions vs. Chicago Bears
Start: Kenny Golladay in DFS, Jordan Howard in DFS
Golladay has somehow seen just seven targets over the last three games, including just four last week with Golden Tate no longer around. He’s too talented for this usage to continue, however (he actually ran more routes than Marvin Jones last week), and Detroit is going to have to score through the air against a Chicago defense that’s yielded just one rushing score on the year. Moreover, the Bears have ceded the eighth-most fantasy points to Golladay’s primary side over the last month. I say roll with Golladay this week in DFS, but my podcast partner Liz Loza disagrees.
Howard has scored four touchdowns over the last three games, and while it’s dangerous using a back so game-script dependent, Chicago is nearly touchdown favorites at home against a Lions front seven that’s been gashed for 5.2 YPC and the sixth-most fantasy points to running backs this season.
Arizona Cardinals vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Start: Christian Kirk, Chris Conley
The Cardinals figure to be throwing a ton as 16.5-point underdogs in Kansas City, and Kirk offers more downfield upside than Larry Fitzgerald. He also lines up more outside, where the Chiefs have been more vulnerable.
Fire up all Chiefs obviously, but if you’re looking for a sleeper, it’s Chris Conley. He should see increased action with Sammy Watkins unlikely to suit up. Spencer Ware should see extra work as well if you’re in desperate need of RB help this week.
Los Angeles Chargers vs. Oakland Raiders
Start: Mike Williams
Sit: Doug Martin
The Chargers should have their way against a checked-out Raiders defense that’s giving up more yards per play than any defense in NFL history, and Mike is cheaper in DFS than Tyrell (and also doesn’t get ignored in the RZ like Keenan Allen). Philip Rivers sports a 132.5 Passer Rating when throwing to Williams, who’s gotten the seventh-most fantasy points per target this season.
Martin has comfortably settled into Marshawn Lynch’s old role, but Oakland is beyond a mess. He’s missed practice this week with a hip ailment and he cedes a lot of work on passing downs to Jalen Richard, which should be frequent Sunday with Oakland double-digit underdogs.
Seattle Seahawks vs. Los Angeles Rams
Start: David Moore
Sit: Cooper Kupp in DFS
Moore has scored four touchdowns over the last four games and saw a season-high seven targets last week. Doug Baldwin doesn’t look like he’ll be his old self again this season and gets the tougher matchup in the slot this week, while the Rams’ outside corners have been getting burned lately. The normally run-heavy Seahawks are going to have to throw more than usual to keep up with the Rams’ offense.
It’s always tough predicting which Rams receiver will go off in any given week, but this one presents a Seattle defense that’s allowed the fewest fantasy points to the slot this season. Kupp may take a backseat as a result.
Miami Dolphins vs. Green Bay Packers
Start: Aaron Jones
Sit: Frank Gore
Jones lost a crucial fumble last week and isn’t likely to become someone you can start with confidence each week, but he gets a Dolphins front seven that’s allowed the third-most fantasy points to running backs this season. The game script should be in his favor with Green Bay double-digit home favorites, so I have Jones as a top-15 RB this week. Moreover, Marquez Valdes-Scantling has emerged as Green Bay’s clear WR2. He’s looked extremely impressive and is another strong DFS play in this matchup.
Miami’s committee at wide receiver makes things extra frustrating for fantasy owners, and Gore shouldn’t approach last week’s 20 carries given this setup. The Packers defense makes a strong DFS fantasy play.
Dallas Cowboys vs. Philadelphia Eagles
Start: Amari Cooper, Golden Tate
Dallas immediately treated Cooper as its No. 1 receiver during his debut last week, and he gets a Philadelphia secondary that’s struggled on the perimeter this season, ceding the second-most fantasy points to his primary side.
It’s going to be interesting to see how the Eagles deploy Tate with Nelson Agholor struggling in the slot, but you can bet the team has big plans for its trade acquisition. Alshon Jeffery could see a lot of Byron Jones on Sunday night, and the shutdown corner has yielded the fewest fantasy points (0.13) per pass route this season. Tate should be heavily involved right away.
New York Giants vs. San Francisco 49ers
Start: Nick Mullens, Eli Manning
Mullens remains an unknown as an undrafted free agent with suspect arm strength and just one start under his belt, but Kyle Shanahan can scheme him up once again against a willing Giants defense that ranks 27th in pass defense DVOA. Mullens is a streaming option for those in 2-QB leagues.
The same can be said for Manning, who gets a San Francisco secondary that’s allowed an ugly 18:2 TD:INT ratio in 2018. For such a disastrous year, Manning has actually played well away from home, as he’s gotten 8.9 YPA with a 107.6 Passer Rating on the road this season.