There were a few surprises around the NFL last week, but none surprised me more than the Thursday night game against the Rams and 49ers. This game had a 10 to 7 finish written all over it. Instead we saw Los Angeles outlast San Francisco in a 41 to 39 ending. Jared Goff and Brian Hoyer each threw for 290+ yards and multiple touchdowns, both running backs had big games (Todd Gurley absolutely exploded), and the big name receivers all put up strong performances. Let’s take a look around the league and see if we can identify some players that’ll help you put together a winning lineup this week.
Side note: the values and scoring we use are from Draft Kings. I prefer them for two reasons. They utilize PPR scoring and have an additional flex spot on the roster with no kickers. Everyone hates kickers.
Tom Brady – New England Patriots
Value – $8,000
Tom Brady is on a war path, and his price tag reflects that. He’s the most expensive quarterback this week by a fairly large margin, but that’s what happens when you throw for 825 yards and eight touchdowns in the last two games. I’m finding a way to roll Brady out there again this week, even though the Patriots have a tough matchup against the Panthers defense. Drew Brees threw for three touchdowns against Carolina last week, so Brady should be able to put up similar numbers.
Jared Goff – Los Angeles Rams
Value – $5,600
It’s clear that Jared Goff has taken a big step forward in his second year as a starting quarterback in the NFL. It’s also clear to me at this point that a lot of the struggles the Rams had on offense had a lot to do with coaching. Sean McVay has revamped this offense and is determined to get the ball to their playmakers. It helps that Los Angeles added Sammy Watkins and Robert Woods in the offseason. Goff threw for 292 yards and three touchdowns last Thursday night against the 49ers in what was a surprisingly high scoring affair. This offense is balanced to where the Cowboys will have to handle Todd Gurley first and foremost, but Goff has the weapons to make them defend the pass as well. Dallas made Carson Palmer look like a young man last week, so Jared Goff has a decent chance to have another solid game.
Trevor Siemian – Denver Broncos
Value – $5,200
After two impressive weeks to start the season, Trevor Siemian took a step back last week. His yardage total was similar to what we saw in the first two games, but he threw two interceptions and no touchdowns. The running game didn’t do him any favors either as CJ Anderson struggled, although Jamaal Charles did find the end zone for the first time in a Broncos uniform. I think Siemian has a good chance to bounce back at home this week against Oakland. The Raiders are coming off an embarrassing performance against the Redskins and were picked apart by Kirk Cousins. Siemian should outperform his price point of only $5,200.
Deshaun Watson – Houston Texans
Value – $5,100
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t optimistic about Watson last week. We had a rookie quarterback traveling to Foxboro to play the Patriots, and I just didn’t see him being able to string many big plays together. I was obviously wrong as Watson threw for over 300 yards for the first time in his young career and added two touchdown passes. This game came down to the wire, and you have to applaud the rookie for showing the resolve to keep his team in the game. It wouldn’t shock me if he has another big game this week at home against the Titans. Tennessee just allowed Russell Wilson to put up his best stat line of the year by throwing for 373 yards and four touchdowns. While I don’t see Watson performing to that level, a 25 point fantasy performance isn’t out of the question. The fact that he’s only $100 more than the next guy on the list is pretty surprising.
Hail Mary play:
Case Keenum – Minnesota Vikings
Value – $5,000
Yes, I’m adding Keenum this week completely due to what he did against the Buccaneers. Seriously, where in the hell did that come from? Keenum shredded Tampa Bay for 369 yards and three touchdowns after laying an egg the week before against the Steelers. I feel comfortable in saying that I don’t think he does that again. However, if you’re feeling lucky this week Keenum is your guy. He plays at home this week against a tough Lions secondary, but Detroit’s offense is good enough to make the Vikings need to throw the ball. Throw in Keenum and cross your fingers.
Christian McCaffrey – Carolina Panthers
Value – $6,800
Here’s the performance we’ve been waiting for. MacCaffrey had been mostly quiet in the first two games, but I figured he’d have a breakout game sooner rather than later. Cam Newton found himself without both Greg Olsen and Kelvin Benjamin in a comeback effort against the Saints, and he targeted the rookie out of Stanford 11 times. MacCaffrey turned that into nine catches for 101 yards. It’s clear that Carolina is not ready to give this kid much work between the tackles. However, he’ll likely be utilized much like we saw last week when the Panthers fell behind. It just so happens he will face the Patriots this week, so you have to assume New England will be putting points on the board. With no Greg Olsen and a banged up Kelvin Benjamin, MacCaffrey has a very good chance to be heavily utilized once again.
Dalvin Cook – Minnesota Vikings
Value – $6,500
Dalvin Cook has been extremely impressive in the first few games of his NFL career. Minnesota seems intent on feeding him all the carries he can handle, and his involvement in the passing game makes him a true three down back. That’s rare these days. Cook finished with 169 total yards and scored his first touchdown against Tampa Bay last week, and he has been one of the most impressive rookies so far this year. It makes me a little nervous to play Cook against the Lions with Sam Bradford still injured, but Case Keenum looked competent enough last week during his huge performance. The rookie should still see plenty of carries to give him enough opportunity to continue his hot streak.
Chris Carson – Seattle Seahawks
Value – $5,400
I’ll give props to Derrick, the host of the No Huddle fantasy podcast, for his foresight on Chris Carson. Seattle had an incredibly crowded backfield heading into this season, but the rookie seems to be emerging as their early down back. Eddie Lacy was a healthy scratch, Thomas Rawls hardly saw the field, and CJ Prosise is their third down back. Carson wasn’t leaned on as heavily last week and ran the ball 11 times for 34 yards, but he did catch two passes for 18 yards and a touchdown. If that trend holds up, then the rookie could be in line for a big game against a middle of the road Indianapolis defense this week. If Carson has another solid game, then this might be the last time we see him under the $6,000 mark for a while.
Leonard Fournette – Jacksonville Jaguars
Value – $6,700
Apparently this is the all rookie running back edition of our DFS column, which goes to show you how loaded with talent this most recent draft class was. I haven’t even mentioned Kareem Hunt yet either. I’ve said this before, but I wasn’t the biggest Leonard Fournette fan heading into this season. However, Jacksonville proved true to their word and has refocused their offense around the rushing attack. The rookie is averaging 19 carries for 66 yards and a touchdown over the first three games, and he’s even been involved a bit as a receiver out of the backfield. While his 3.5 yards per carry is fairly mediocre for a top tier running back in the NFL, his usage rate is enough to where he should produce consistent stat lines. Fournette will face the 24th ranked defense against running backs this week in the New York Jets, so I expect we’ll see a similar performance to what he’s done the first three games. He’s not a home run play but has a pretty safe floor.
Wendell Smallwood – Philadelphia Eagles
Value – $4,100
It’s hard to tell which Eagles running back will see the largest uptick in touches with Darren Sproles being put on injured reserve, but my money is on Smallwood. He’s the guy that will most likely handle the pass catching duties out of the backfield, which will be useful in PPR formats. Of course I could be completely wrong, and LeGarrette Blount could steal the show. Smallwood received a lot of praise in the preseason and performed decently well this past week. His 12 carries for 71 yards was nothing too special, but he did churn out a healthy 5.9 yards per carry. Again this backfield looks like a committee at this point, but Smallwood has as good a chance as any to break through.
Jordy Nelson – Green Bay Packers
Value – $7,700
It’s hard to bet against Jordy Nelson at this point. Even though he’s an older player, he’s still the favorite target of arguably the best quarterback in the league. In the two games Nelson has played (I’m not counting week two considering he left the game early in the first quarter due to injury), he’s averaged 22 fantasy points a game. That would put him third at his position behind Antonio Brown and Stefon Diggs. While he only had 52 receiving yards against the Bengals last week, he was targeted nine times and scored two touchdowns. The Bears are surprisingly in the top half of defenses against receivers so far this season, but I don’t think they’ll pose much of a threat to Aaron Rodgers and company. Jordy should finish in the top five again this week and won’t put a huge dent in your budget.
Davante Parker – Miami Dolphins
Value – $6,700
I’ll have to go back and double check this, but I believe this is the first time in his career that Davante Parker is priced above Jarvis Landry as a daily fantasy option. Landry has always been the popular fantasy pick in this offense due to his high usage rate and safe floor. However, Jay Cutler is a much different quarterback than Ryan Tannehill and is the type of player that likes big receivers that get open downfield (Alshon Jeffrey anyone?). Parker is averaging just over 80 yards a game through the first two games and found the end zone for the first time last week against the Jets in a surprising loss. Don’t get me wrong, I still like Landry as an option this week. I just feel like Parker has more upside, and he’ll have plenty of opportunity to put up similar numbers to what we’ve seen so far when the Saints bring their high powered offense to Miami. He’s a little pricey considering his recent success, but Miami will have to throw in this game. Especially if Jay Ajayi is limited.
Deandre Hopkins – Houston Texans
Value – $6,400
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have some personal investment in this one. As a proud Deandre Hopkins owner in a number of dynasty leagues, I have been extremely encouraged by Deshaun Watson’s performance and his willingness to feed his best player the ball as much as possible. Hopkins has been very consistent so far this season and has caught seven passes in each game for 204 yards and a touchdown. Those aren’t numbers that jump off the page, but I’m willing to pay for a safe floor of around 15 points. I actually think this might be the week we see Hopkins blow up against the Titans. Tennessee was just shredded by Russell Wilson, and their defense gave up ten catches for 105 yards and a touchdown to Doug Baldwin. It’s clear this team can be beaten through the air, so I like Hopkins this week as a safe pick with a lot of upside.
Allen Hurns – Jacksonville Jaguars
Value – $4,700
Hurns was my pick to take over as the go to guy in Jacksonville’s offense after Allen Robinson was lost for the season. While Marqise Lee has seen more targets over the last two weeks, Hurns is the guy that’s been finding the end zone. Touchdowns are what you’re chasing in fantasy football, and I’ll take the guy that has lower yardage totals but scores over the guy that sees more targets. Calling this a safe pick would be a huge overstatement. We never know how Blake Bortles is going to play. He could throw for three touchdowns and 300 yards one game then turn around and throw four interceptions the next. I’m betting that we see the Bortles we all love this week against the Jets. New York is simply a bad football team that ranks 23rd against receivers. This pick could backfire with Lee seeing more attention from his quarterback, but I’m hedging my bets and going with the guy that’s scored in two straight games.
Cooper Kupp – Los Angeles Rams
Value – $4,300
Kupp was a sleeper pick heading into drafts this year, and those that picked him felt pretty damn smart when the rookie put up 76 yards and a touchdown in the season opener. Unfortunately, it was a short honeymoon. Kupp only has five catches and 50 yards in the two games since, but he has a chance to bounce back. The Cowboys should have been able to shut down Carson Palmer last week. The veteran hasn’t looked like his former self going back to last season but still managed to throw for 325 yards and two touchdowns. I’m not insinuating that Jared Goff will do the same, but Dallas has proved they struggle against the pass. I’d assume that the Cowboys will want to avoid another performance like they allowed to Larry Fitzgerald, so I see them trying to limit Sammy Watkins and Robert Woods. That should leave open looks for the rookie receiver. This isn’t a guarantee by any means, but Kupp is a cheap option this week that could have a big return if Watkins isn’t able to take the field.
Zach Ertz – Philadelphia Eagles
Value – $6,300
Whelp, it finally happened. I said last week that I’d keep playing Ertz until the wheels fell off or until he surpassed the $6,000 mark. The good people at Draft Kings woke up and likely over corrected the price tag on Ertz, because he jumped up $1,300 from last week. He’s currently the second highest scoring tight end so far this season, so I’ll hold true to my word and keep playing him. Unfortunately, this might also be the week that we see Ertz have an off game. The Eagles travel to Los Angeles to face the Chargers, who have the 5th ranked defense against tight ends. He’s worth the price due to his consistency through three games, but this is the first week I’ve not been completely confident in him.
Travis Kelce – Kansas City Chiefs
Value – $6,000
Kelce owners across the nation wept last week when they saw their tight end finish the game against the Chargers with one target, one catch, and one yard. The good news is that Travis Kelce has been in the league for five years and last week was the first time he’s only seen a single target in a game. That might be enough to scare people off from picking him this week against a Redskins defense that’s 26th in the league against tight ends. Kelce is arguably the second best at his position in the NFL, so I consider last week as a total fluke. He’ll put up solid numbers this week in what could turn into a shootout.
Cameron Brate – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Value – $3,800
I was a Cameron Brate believer heading into this season. He was arguably the biggest surprise at his position in 2016, and I wasn’t convinced they’d drop him like a hot potato after Tampa Bay selected OJ Howard in the draft. Tight ends usually take a little time to develop in the NFL, and Brate is a tried and true option in the passing game. This offense suddenly as a lot of mouths to feed, but Brate has the trust of his quarterback. The matchup this week against the Giants could be a high scoring game, and New York is second to last in the league against opposing tight ends through the first three weeks. Brate could struggle to see a lot of targets, but I’m hoping he makes the most of them when he sees them.
Ryan Griffin – Houston Texans
Value – $3,500
The Texans had all three of their tight ends inactive to start the season due to concussions. Last week was the first time Griffin and Deshaun Watson were on the field together, so it was a little surprising to see the two click so easily. Houston has been a team that likes to utilize their tight ends over the last few seasons, so Griffin should be a solid contributor until CJ Fiedorowicz comes back. Griffin finished the day with five catches for 61 yards and a touchdown against the Patriots, and he should continue to see targets come his way this week against Tennessee. The Titans are ranked 20th against tight ends over the first three games, and Houston plays at home. This offense needs another play maker other than Deandre Hopkins, and Griffin could be the guy to step up. At $3,500 there are definitely worse options this week.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins – New York Jets
Value – $3,000
ASJ made his season debut last week after serving his two game suspension to start the year. While he was targeted six times it resulted in five catches for only 31 yards. The fact that he was involved as he was is encouraging, and we all know the Jets could use some additional playmakers on offense. The matchup this week between Jacksonville and New York has to be one of the most unappealing games on the slate, but there will still be football played. Serferian-Jenkins is super cheap, and he has a shot to put up solid numbers against the 29th ranked defense against tight ends.
Who I’m Stacking:
Marcus Mariota/Rishard Matthews – Tennessee Titans
Value – $11,300
We’re still waiting to see that one big performance from Mariota that will get everyone talking about him again. The Flyin’ Hawaiian has been serviceable through the first three games but has yet to put up more than 20 points in a game. I think this could be the week he does it. I realize he faces a divisional opponent on the road, but the Texans have given up 23 points or more twice this season. Tennessee has a lot of mouths to feed on offense, but I like pairing Mariota with Rishard Matthews. Matthews was his quarterback’s favorite targets last season and is coming off a big game. These two could put up big numbers this week.
Eli Manning/Odell Beckham Jr – New York Giants
Value – $14,600
Fair warning: I’m not incredibly confident in this one. For starters, I hate Eli Manning with a fiery passion. It’s just something about his face. Nonetheless, he put on a show in the second half last week against the Eagles and finished the game with 366 yards and three touchdowns. He would’ve scored over 30 points had it not been for the two interceptions he threw. OBJ looks to have recovered from his ankle injury, and he’s the only guy I’d pair with Manning. The duo will face a Buccaneers defense this week that was just torched by Case Keenum and Stefon Diggs. You have to assume Manning has a better chance than Keenum did against this secondary.
Brian Hoyer/Pierre Garçon – San Francisco 49ers
Value – $10,300
Nobody expected the matchup against the Rams and 49ers last week to result in 80 points, but both offenses exploded. Brian Hoyer has been a serviceable quarterback in the past but had struggled the first two games of the season before throwing for 332 yards and two touchdowns. Pierre Garçon is by far the most talented receiver on San Francisco’s roster, so he’s essentially guaranteed to get a healthy amount of targets from his quarterback. Arizona is a tough matchup on the road, but their defense has given up over 27 points twice so far this season. This stack could pay off and is an extremely inexpensive option.
Steals of the Week:
Tarik Cohen – Chicago Bears
Value – $5,500
The Bears barely managed to throw for over 100 yards last week and still ended up getting a win against the Steelers entirely due to Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen. Even though Howard stole the show with his big performance, I’m playing the rookie over him for one reason. The Bears face the Packers this week on the road. Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay offense should be able to put up points in a hurry, and that type of game script should fall in Cohen’s favor. It’s not like he didn’t see the field last week either as the breakout back ran the ball for 78 yards on 12 carries and had four receptions for 24 yards. If the Packers score early and force the Bears to throw, then Cohen should have a big day as arguably the best receiving threat Chicago has.
Marqise Lee – Jacksonville Jaguars
Value – $4,500
This was almost a Hail Mary play for me this week, but I chose to include Lee here as a steal/high risk pick. I wrote about Allen Hurns earlier being the guy that scored touchdowns at wide receiver in the Jacksonville offense with Allen Robinson lost for the season. While touchdowns are key, so are targets and opportunities. In that department Marqise Lee has the advantage over his teammate. Hurns has been targeted ten times in the two games since Robinson’s injury. Lee has seen nearly double that amount with 19 targets and has more yards than his counterpart. For that reason I’m taking Lee this week due to a seemingly safe floor and the idea that he has to score a touchdown eventually. The Jets are 23rd against wide receivers, so Bortles should be able to exploit this defense. $4,500 is cheap for a consistent receiver, and Marqise Lee should see enough targets to remain relevant this week.
I hope you all enjoy reading this as much as I enjoy writing it each week. I’m truly passionate about fantasy football and love any opportunity to share my opinions with you. As always, hit us up @No_HuddleFFB on Twitter for any questions you might have. Get rich this week!!!