There are two games this weekend that I’m going to have a lot of exposure to: New Orleans at Washington and Jacksonville at Baltimore. There are a couple of things I look at when taking a “birds-eye” view of the games. I look for high Vegas totals (a common strategy), close games where the Vegas line is less than four, and games where both defenses are some of the weaker ones in the league. I want games where there are going to be a lot of points scored and the game is going to be close. All four of these teams are in the bottom half of the league in points per game allowed with Jacksonville and New Orleans as two of the three worst in the NFL.
One note to make is that a lot of people will see the New England at New York Giants game with the highest total of the week and want part of that game. I’ll be staying away for a couple of reasons. One, New England only allows 17.9 points per game which ranks fifth in the league, so that means I’ll be staying away from Giants players except maybe Odell Beckham. Second, the Patriots players are all very expensive and it’s tough to predict which player will be the flavor of the week for New England. Those uncertainties are things I want to stay away from in cash games. Now for tournaments I’ll have more of those player because of their high upsides and because I’ll be making multiple tournament lineups, but for cash games I’ll be staying away.
Blake Bortles ($5600) is a good fantasy quarterback even if he’s not a good NFL quarterback, and he’s in one of the two fantasy games I’m looking at. Bortles has had at least 14 DraftKings points in every game since Week 1, and has had over twenty-five points in three of his last four games. This week’s matchup with Baltimore seems ideal with the Ravens having what’s termed a “funnel defense.” This is a defense that is tough against the run and bad against the pass, so that the ball is “funneled” to the pass catchers. This is exactly the case of the Ravens defense who rank tenth against running backs in fantasy points allowed, but ranks as the second easiest in points allowed to wide receivers and quarterbacks. Bortles situation this week is ideal for cash games, and I’ll be rostering him for sure.
Kirk Cousins ($5200) is another quarterback from one of the two big fantasy games I’m looking at. New Orleans has allowed every quarterback they’ve faced to exceed their salary expected points per game, as well as allowing multiple passing touchdowns in all but two games this season. Cousins does carry some risk since he’s only had one game this year with more than one passing touchdown, but I’m expecting the Saints to be up early forcing the Redskins into more passing situations. New Orleans has a terrible secondary and even a guy like Cousins should be able to have a good day against them.
Tyrod Taylor ($5500) is a guy I’m going to be fading in cash games for a while. When LeSean McCoy and Karlos Williams are both healthy like they currently are, Taylor doesn’t need to run as much. His running ability is what gives him the most value, but with two healthy running backs to do that for him he becomes a pocket passer which is not where he excels for fantasy purposes. Taylor has zero games over 300 passing yards and in half of his games he’s failed to have more than 200 passing yards. Unless Taylor has a really soft passing matchup where the Bills are projected to be down or McCoy and Williams are both banged up, I can’t recommend Taylor for cash games. Neither of those situations are the case this week against the Jets, so stay away.
The DraftKings pricing algorithm clearly devalues pass catching running backs, so when you can get a running back that you know is going to get a large share of the carries, catches a bunch of passes and gets some red-zone work as well as being underpriced you should jump on it. That’s the case with Darren McFadden ($4900) this week. McFadden has had at least twenty carries in three straight games and has been averaging over five targets over his last four games. McFadden’s biggest problem has always been staying healthy, not what he can do when he’s healthy. Right now he’s fully healthy and he’s in a full-time role behind one of the best offensive lines in the NFL. The workload he’s getting for less than 5K is exactly what I want on my cash game lineups.
I’m recommending DeAngelo Williams ($6500) this week and not just because he went huge last week, but because he is in a great spot to produce again this week. With Ben Roethlisberger highly doubtful my thinking is that the Steelers will lean heavily on Williams in order to keep Landry Jones from throwing more than is needed. Going against the Browns who rank as the fourth easiest team for running backs to score fantasy points on, getting Williams a big workload won’t be tough. The Steelers are also playing at home as a favorite with the Browns possibly rostering Johnny Manziel at quarterback. I’m thinking the time of possession will be in the Steelers favor a lot for this game and that has me wanting Williams on my roster.
Justin Forsett ($6000) is checking a lot of the boxes I want to see when rostering a running back. At home, as a favorite, with a team projected to score at least four touchdowns, getting red zone work, having a workload that’s independent of game flow, for a non-elite price. Forsett only has two rushing touchdowns on the year, but I think he has a good shot at getting one this week with the Jags giving up eight rushing touchdowns to running backs on the year. My thinking is that Baltimore will try to run the ball a ton to keep Blake Bortles from passing against their weak defense, which will mean more work for Forsett in this game. He should have no problem having value this week against Jacksonville.