DFS Football, Week 11: RGIII returns to relevance and Rob Gronkowski is still a no-brainer

rob gronkowski

This week, Mitch and I agree that Rob Gronkowski is worth his massive DFS price tag as a potential league-winner – as usual.  And that, while Robert Griffin III didn’t set the world ablaze with his return, his price tag and matchup make him a studly play this week.

Launching into it…

FanDuel Plays/Fades

by Justin Howe, DFS Editor/Content Manager

QUARTERBACK

HIGH-DOLLAR BOYS

PLAY WITH CONFIDENCE  You don’t need me to tell you that Tom Brady (@IND, $9,500) is likely looking at a shootout this Sunday.  And you shouldn’t be scared off by the Colts’ overachieving defense; Brady has laid waste to the last two good secondaries he’s faced (vCIN and vDEN).  Deploy him if you feel the need to pay an exorbitant salary for your QB.

FADE WITH GLORY  The sun has clearly set on Ben Roethlisberger’s (@TEN, $8,300) astounding run of success.  Yes, he topped 300 yards through last week’s garbage time, but his game was shaky from the start – as was Todd Haley’s stale gameplan.  The Steelers struggle mightily against doormats like the Titans, so the volume should be there, but the offense just isn’t nearly as consistent as you need from the ninth-salaried quarterback.

FROM THE BARGAIN BIN

Robert Griffin III (vTB, $7,400) – Lost amidst all the talk of Griffin’s awfulness and the grossly exaggerated play of his backups is the fact that Griffin is still a borderline QB1.  Even his disastrous 2013 produced 16.2 FanDuel points/game – and that was a season that somehow produced nary a rushing TD over 86 rushes.  He’s now in a system designed for him to pump the ball down the field, and he’s posted 267 and 251 yards in his full 2014 games.  Suddenly flush with skill-position talent, Griffin has a good shot at turning things around – and an even better shot at obliterating the god-awful Buc defense at home.

Matt Ryan (@CAR, $7,800) – The Falcon offense looks to be getting back on track.  That’s to say, Ryan is throwing a buttload of passes to Julio Jones again.  Ryan’s 15.7 FanDuel points weren’t sexy, especially against an awful Tampa defense, but his receivers again looked like themselves – a great sign for this cake matchup.  Carolina was torn to shreds by Mark Sanchez Monday night, and their talent-starved secondary now ranks as Pro Football Focus’s worst in coverage.

CHEAPER THAN DIRT

Teddy Bridgewater (@CHI, $6,600) – As much as I hate to play a rookie QB on the road – especially a struggling one who’s not throwing TDs – this is such a sexy matchup for the week’s 23rd-salaried passer.  The Bears are in complete disarray, and the Viking defense has overachieved greatly, which should result in plenty of scoring opportunities for Bridgewater’s breakout.

RUNNING BACKS

PLAY WITH CONFIDENCE  I hate asking you to do this.  Really, I do.  But don’t let recency bias scare you away from LeSean McCoy (@GB, $7,700).  The Packers are a soft defense up the middle, allowing 142.6 ground yards/game (third-worst in the NFL) and 4.6 YPC (fifth-worst).  But their solid cover corners are likely to push Chip Kelly into a run-oriented gameplan, and McCoy could benefit as his banged-up line continues to get healthy.  His #11 salary and top-three ceiling make him an excellent play.

FADE WITH GLORY  Le’Veon Bell (@TEN, $8,600) may be the league’s best young back, but his usage is troubling and he’s trending in the wrong direction.  The Steelers are loath to utilize Bell near the goal line; he’s taken just nine rushes from inside the ten all year and hasn’t run for a TD since Week One.  While his floor is very high due to his supreme passing-game skills and usage, his FanDuel scoring has declined for three straight weeks as the team has leaned even more on the pass.  There are better GPP options at or below Bell’s salary.

From the Bargain Bin

Jeremy Hill (@NO, $6,500) – Giovani Bernard will likely sit again, making Hill a borderline RB1 option and a steal as the week’s #23 salary.  (FanDuel clearly holds his miserable Week 10 against him, perhaps unfairly; the entire Bengal offense imploded last week and Hill saw just 13 touches in a blowout loss.)  You need to temper your expectations here, as game flow could again cripple his opportunity as the team continues to slide.  But he’s priced like a mid-range RB2 with a solid floor and a sexy ceiling against a mediocre run defense.

Shane Vereen (@IND, $6,500) – Game plan and matchup dictate Vereen’s usage, but not his role as the backfield leader.  Since Stevan Ridley’s injury, he’s seen 65.2% of New England’s snaps; up from just 48.2% before, and comfortably ahead of Jonas Gray (just 29.0%).  His touches may vary, but a back who never leaves the field on passing downs is always a nice play in a likely shootout.  This has the look of one of Vereen’s 90-yard, six-catch, RB2 type of games.  And you should be further encouraged by the fact that he’s taken three rushes from inside the five over the last two weeks, compared to just one for Gray.

CHEAPER THAN DIRT

Charles Sims (@WAS, $4,700) – Another dirt-cheap dice roll for Sims, who saw eight rushes and caught both of his targets.  That represents his absolute floor going forward as he continues to eat into the nominal Bobby Rainey’s workload.  It’s encouraging that Sims’ third-quarter fumble didn’t affect his usage; the team has been sky-high on him since the preseason, and he could start to make his presence truly felt this week against Washington’s soft front seven.

WIDE RECEIVER

PLAY WITH CONFIDENCE  Like last week, Julio Jones (@CAR, $8,200) is grossly underpriced for such a dazzling wideout in such a tantalizing matchup.  Jones burst back onto the scene with an 8-119 line in Tampa, narrowly missing on a 48-yard TD pass that was misthrown by Matt Ryan.  And the Panther secondary is extraordinarily burnable.  A WR has topped 90 yards with at least one TD in seven of their last nine, and WRs in general have hauled in a stunning 14 scoring passes over their ten games.  Julio looks like an amazing bargain at his #11 salary.

FADE WITH GLORY  Also like last week, I’m loaded with questions about Jeremy Maclin’s (@GB, $8,700) role with Mark Sanchez under center.  On Monday night, he took a clear backseat to rookie Jordan Matthews (who told you to play him again?), posting a meager 3-38 line on seven targets.  Maclin’s not a red zone receiver, so he needs a steady diet of looks between the 20s to maintain his WR1/2 status.  I can’t imagine paying this wild salary to a guy like that, especially when that diet probably isn’t forthcoming.

FROM THE BARGAIN BIN

Keenan Allen (vOAK, $6,400) – Allen has disappointed fantasy owners in his sophomore campaign, but it’s not from lack of opportunity; he’s actually seeing a larger target share than he did as a rookie.  He’s just not generating yardage or scoring TDs – trends that could easily reverse against the pathetic Raider defense.  Oakland has allowed opposing passers to complete a scintillating 67% of their passes this year, an encouraging mark for possession studs like Allen.  With the run game still grounded (wordplay!), Philip Rivers is likely to pepper the Raider secondary with footballs, and Allen looks like a good bet to capitalize with FanDuel’s #31 salary.

Kelvin Benjamin (vATL, $6,600) – Benjamin’s rookie season has been an explosive mixed bag, with phenomenal go-up-and-get-it catches balanced with lackadaisical play and boneheaded drops.  None of this is a surprise; it was all plain as day on his college tape.  But what’s made Benjamin a sometimes-great fantasy play is the unexpected volume of balls thrown his way (85 through ten games, good for eighth in football).  Sweetening the pot is his plummeting price tag, #27 on FanDuel this week.  You just have to love the volume + matchup combination, which makes him a real threat to find the end zone.  He’s a higher-end WR2 this week and priced markedly lower.

Pierre Garcon (vTB, $6,500) – Yes, he’s burned you this season, as Jay Gruden’s offense doesn’t relentlessly target the X like Mike Shanahan’s did.  And Garcon had an underwhelming reunion with RG3 on Sunday, posting a 3-15 line on a paltry five targets.  But this is a guy who saw 201 targets from Griffin over their 22 games together from 2012-13 – a stunning 30.3% share of his throws.  Deep burner DeSean Jackson may have become the focal point of Gruden’s vertical offense, but I think there’s a good chance Garcon regains Griffin’s trust as a possession guy down the stretch.  And what better point for DFSers to take that gamble than this?  I’ll take a shot on Garcon as the #28 salary as he takes on a Tampa pass D that holds a -37.9 rating at Pro Football Focus – third-worst in football.

CHEAPER THAN DIRT

Jordan Matthews (@GB, $5,500) – I’m no huge fan of Matthews, and I hate telling you to play a rookie wideout against Green Bay’s imposing secondary.  (Especially the oft-injured but All Pro-caliber Casey Hayward, whose frequent dings have kept him from national notoriety thus far.)  This is mainly a price-tag play: despite his monstrous Week Ten line, Matthews carries FanDuel’s #53 WR salary.  Whuck?  Matthews and Mark Sanchez reportedly have a particularly strong connection, dating back to their time together as #2s in OTAs, and it really showed last week.  The matchup is daunting, but the price tag is a travesty, so take advantage.  Sadly, his Monday breakout makes it likely that many of your tournament competitors will be carrying him as well.

TIGHT END

HIGH-DOLLAR BOYS

PLAY WITH CONFIDENCE  Any chance Rob Gronkowski (@IND, $8,100) lands below 8-100-1 against a Colt defense allowing 10.2 FanDuel points/game to TEs?  No, no chance.  Play him.  If you’ve listened to me about the value at other positions, you can afford it.

FADE WITH GLORY  As awful as Atlanta’s defense is – and it is really, truly that – they’ve been limiting TE production all year some way or another.  The big guys are averaging just 39 yards/game, with just two TDs in nine games.  It could well be the result of a soft TE schedule or some other strange phenomenon, but it’s enough to make me fade Greg Olsen (vATL, $7,000) slightly.  He’s a fine TE, but if I’m able to spend $7,000 on him, I’ll almost definitely be able to afford a few hundred more for a no-questions-asked option.

FROM THE BARGAIN BIN

Jordan Reed (vTB, $5,200) – Like Garcon, Reed was made into a production machine by RG3 last year, only to post a disappointing line in their Sunday reunion.  But don’t lose sight of the true talent Reed is – a dynamic slot/seam target who turned 59 targets into a 45-499-3 line over half of 2013.  Since returning from injury in Week Six, Reed’s been used solely as a checkdown target, as evidenced by his meager 9.4 YPC.  But if given even 75% of last year’s volume, Reed is a mid-range TE1.  Lock him in this week at his teeeeeny salary as he takes on a Buc defense that’s letting TEs rackup 70 yards/game.  He won’t be cheap once his (newest) breakout comes.

Travis Kelce (vSEA, $5,900) – Baby Gronk has posted some quiet weeks since his Week Four breakout, but keep the faith.  Matt Rittle wrote an excellent piece on Kelce’s outlook, and while I agree with his conclusion that patience is required, things may be on an immediate upswing.  Last week, Kecle saw his highest snap percentage of the year and his second-highest route total.  He didn’t set the world on fire – actually, he posted an unusable 2-19 – but the days of Kelce rotting on the bench for half the game may well be over.  And his matchup this week is a juicy one, at home against a struggling Seattle defense that’s allowed TDs on a whopping 68% of its opponents’ red zone trips.  They’ve also given up a stunning ten TDs to opposing TEs.

CHEAPER THAN DIRT

Brent Celek (@GB, $4,500) – Celek turned back the clock about four years on Monday, hauling in a shocking 5-116 line from new starter Mark Sanchez.  Different QBs, different priorities, I guess.  Now, until Celek posts another noteworthy game, I’m certainly not suggesting you treat him much better than the minimum-salaried TE3 type he is.  But he is fresh off his season high in every category including targets, so maybe there’s an upper-tier TE2 week coming.  It’s a dangerous gamble, especially in a cash game, but this is coming from the guy who used this space on Jared Cook last week.  I saw that 59-yard score coming.

KICKER

Mason Crosby (vPHI, $4,800) – As usual, it’s wise to scour the Vegas point totals to make a smart kicker play.  High-scoring games produce scoring opportunities, and don’t get bogged down TOO much on red zone conversion rates, which can be fickle from game to game.  These two teams are going to be in the red zone a lot, giving their kickers high floors and ultra-high ceilings.

Shayne Graham (vCIN, $4,700) – As always, I want you to play Graham.  He’s cheap, his offense scores beaucoup points, and he spends this week kicking in a dome in a game projected to produce 49 points.

DEFENSE

Cleveland (vHOU, $5,200) – The Browns have been playing excellent defense lately.  They’ve allowed just 33 points over the last three weeks and forced 12 turnovers over the last four.  On Sunday, they’ll tee off against the green Ryan Mallet in his first career start.

New Orleans (vCIN, $4,700) – If you watched Thursday Night Football, you saw Andy Dalton set the QB position back 25 years.  I don’t think the Superdome is where he’ll right the ship; the Saints have registered 12 sacks and forced six turnovers over their last three.

Washington (vTB, $5,000) – I love this matchup, as Washington hosts the shaky Josh McCown with their revamped, high-pressue defensive scheme.  Since turning up the blitzes in Dallas two games ago, this unit has racked up seven sacks, and it’s always easy to forecast a handful of turnovers when McCown is under center.

LAST WEEK’S ROSTERS

dfs10main

Obviously, Kelce’s disappearing act and McCoy’s shakiness – not to mention whiffing badly at kicker – kept me from an even bigger week, but I was fairly profitable overall.  I squoze great production of the discounted Lynch, Forsett,  Jordy, and Julio, then took a cheap flier on Matthews that panned out beautifully.  I had a feeling he’d have a big game from screens and quick red zone routed with Mark Sanchez under center, but he exploded down the field as well.  Rivera came on in garbage time, owning the Raiders’ final drive and capping it with a touchdown.  Riding the “who’s playing the Bears and their dysfunctional offense?” train netted me a big day from the Packer D.

dfs10worst

My worst lineup of the week couldn’t weather McCoy’s suckitude.  Forte was a non-factor in a blowout loss, and Hunter no-showed after seeing a promising ten targets in Zach Mettenberger‘s debut.  All of the meaningless K-Benj TDs in the world couldn’t spin this one into gold.

 

DraftKings Plays/Fades

by Mitch Jahnke, DFS Writer

QUARTERBACK

HIGH-DOLLAR BOYS

PLAY WITH CONFIDENCE:  If there’s one guy I am going to play this week in most of my lineups, it’s Aaron Rodgers (vPHI, $9,400).  He’s coming off of a six-touchdown performance… in the first half.  Yes, you read that right: six touchdowns in the first half.  Rodgers gets to face the Eagles, who are giving up the second-most points to opposing QBs this year.  I don’t think they force the turnovers they have been forcing all year against one of the premier passers in the league.

FADE WITH GLORY:  The one quarterback that I am staying away from this week is Cam Newton (vATL, $6,700).  He’s banged up, his offensive line is struggling, and he isn’t running the ball like he has in previous years.  I think Newton has a decent day, but I just don’t see him having one of his big “SuperCam” lines.  I will be shying away this week.

FROM THE BARGAIN BIN

Robert Griffin III (vTB, $6,300) – In his return last week, Griffin played well enough for me to roll the dice again this week.  And he gets a great match up against Tampa.  Griffin should run wild and throw the ball deep to his favorite target, DeSean Jackson.

Teddy Bridgewater (@CHI, $5,900) – He has quietly been putting together a solid rookie campaign, and this week he gets to go against the terrible Chicago defense, which was torched last week by the Packers.  Aaron Rodgers threw for six touchdowns, and if Bridgewater can produce just half of that, you will be happy.  I don’t think Bridgewater has a massive game, but I would expect him to gather around 25 points this week.

CHEAPER THAN DIRT

Zach Mettenberger (v. PIT, $5,200) – Garbage time, garbage time, garbage time.  I think The Steelers get up early and the Titans play catch-up all game.  This bodes well for all of the Tennessee pass-catchers and their rookie quarterback.

RUNNING BACK

HIGH-DOLLAR BOYS

PLAY WITH CONFIDENCE:  We still haven’t seen that monster game from Jamaal Charles (vSEA, $7,100), but it has got to happen sooner rather than later. Look the Seahawks aren’t the same defense they were a year ago and offenses are getting major yards against them. I think the Chiefs feature Charles like they have been all year. The good matchup and the odds of him having one of his big games is due to happen sometime. I am rolling the dice that it’s this week.

FADE WITH GLORY:  I am officially done with LeSean McCoy (@GB $6,400).  As I have been saying for the past few weeks, he just doesn’t have what he’s had in previous years.  Also, Darren Sprolesis taking touches away, and you just can’t guarantee me that he is going to get the goal line touches.  I also don’t believe in Mark Sanchez just yet. I am a little worried about the Eagles going forward.

FROM THE BARGAIN BIN

Mark Ingram (vCIN, $6,200) – His price is beginning to rise, and that should tell you something.  I think that price is still at a low enough value that you know what you’ll be getting from him.  Also, if Pierre Thomas and Khiry Robinson miss more time, Ingram’s workload will continue to get heavier.  Last week, the Bengals were torched by the Browns’ rushing attack, and they have a backfield-by-committee approach.  If Ingram is the only guy in the Saints’ backfield this week, he is a must play.

Ahmad Bradshaw (vNE, $5,700) – Bradshaw continues to shine in the Colts’ backfield and is gaining more and more carries from Trent Richardson.  Bradshaw has been playing very well and gets a great matchup this week.  We all remember what he did against the Patriots in the Super Bowl; could we be in line for a repeat performance?  I think yes and can’t wait to see it.

Alfred Morris (vWAS, $5,400) – Listen: he’s the only running back that has any relevance in the Redskin backfield, and he is averaging just under 17 carries a game.  He has also been very active in the passing attack this year, and that just adds to his value. Having Robert Griffin III back has helped Morris a lot, opening up running lanes and spreading the field more to run.

CHEAPER THAN DIRT

Jeremy Hill (@NO, $4,500) –  I am only playing Hill if Gio Bernarddoesn’t go, but it looks as if that will be the case, since he still hasn’t practiced this week.  Hill has already shown us what he can do with a full workload, and with his low price it is hard to pass on him.

WIDE RECEIVER

HIGH-DOLLAR BOYS

PLAY WITH CONFIDENCE:  My high-dollar boy at wide receiver is Calvin Johnson (@ARI, $8,500).  He looked every bit like the Calvin Johnson we all know last week and gets to face a Cardinals defense that is giving up huge numbers to opposing wide receivers.  If Matt Staffordcan find the connection with Johnson again, we could be in for a big day from the former Yellow Jacket.  

FADE WITH GLORY:  The one guy I am staying away from this week is Jeremy Maclin (@GB, $8,200).  I love Maclin’s talent; it is just impossible to predict which Eagle wide receiver will have the big game.  Last week it was Jordan Matthews, and two weeks ago Maclin was the beneficiary of the Eagles up-tempo offense.  It is just too hard for me to go with Maclin and his high price not knowing what I am going to get out of him.

FROM THE BARGAIN BIN

Desean Jackson (vTB, $7,300) – The Redskins’ deep threat has finally got his favorite quarterback back.  Griffin is the only Redskin quarterback that can actually throw it deep enough for Jackson to actually get under it and not be underthrown constantly.  I can see Jackson scoring on long touchdowns all day against the Buccaneers.

Mike Evans (@WAS, $6,800) – He has supplanted Vincent Jackson as the top wide receiver in the Buccaneer offense and is a big-play WR.  He has scored in each of the last five games and I don’t see that stopping this week against the Redskins.  Evans should see numerous targets and eclipse the 100-yard marker with a touchdown.

Odell Beckham (vSF, $6,000) – The rookie continues to make the most of his opportunities with Victor Cruz sidelined.  It’s a tough matchup this week, but I think that Eli Manning will continue to forcefeed Beckham.  We finally got to see his big-play capabilities last week against the Seahawks, and I think those plays become more and more frequent starting this week.

A.J. Green (@NO, $6,000) – Since his return from injury, the Bengals have struggled to get Green the ball.  That may continue this week, but I don’t see it lasting all game.  I see the Saints getting up big early and the Bengals playing catch-up.  Which bodes well for Green and his very nice price.  I think it’s about time we see the A.J. Green we all know.

Kelvin Benjamin (v. ATL, $4,900) – We all saw what Benjamin could do at the snap of a finger last week when he basically took back-to-back catches for touchdowns.  Both were in garbage time, but that doesn’t matter to me.  It actually makes me feel more secure about playing Benjamin, because this week he could be playing in even more garbage time.

CHEAPER THAN DIRT

Davante Adams (vPHI, $3,900) – I think this game is a shootout and the last team to have the ball might just have to score a touchdown.  I think the Packers play a lot of three-wide receiver sets, so Adams will see plenty of snaps and hopefully targets.  He has made the most of his targets this year, showing us what he is capable of doing.  He’s still a lottery ticket, but should get you a decent number of points with the possibility of reaching the end zone.

Justin Hunter (vPIT, $3,100) – If there ever was a lottery ticket play this week, it’s Justin Hunter.  He’s a complete shot in the dark, but I can see the Titans getting down early and having to throw the ball a ton, so I am going with Hunter as my cheap pick of the week.

TIGHT END

HIGH-DOLLAR BOYS

PLAY WITH CONFIDENCE:  The one high-dollar guy that I would consider if I were to pay the high amount is Rob Gronkowski (@IND, $7,900). The Patriots offense is finally back to its normal self and Gronkowski is reaping all the benefits of that. He is fully healthy and just a machine out there.

FADE WITH GLORY:  I’m staying away from Martellus Bennett (vMIN, $5,600) this week.  The Bear offense is off-kilter and I am not trusting anyone on that team right now.

FROM THE BARGAIN BIN

Dwayne Allen (vNE, $4,200) – He is the better tight end in the Colt offense, and this game should be a high-scoring affair.  It seems Andrew Luck has started to form a real connection with Allen this year.  This game might just end up being the tight end show, and If that’s the case, I want Allen in my lineups this week.

Larry Donnell (vSF, $3,900) – The 49ers normally play the tight end very well, but that is usually with Patrick Willis at middle linebacker.  Willis is out for the rest of the year, and I think offenses wi;; attack the middle of the field and Donnell will benefit from it being open.

CHEAPER THAN DIRT

Heath Miller (@TEN, $3,300) – The ageless wonder continues to perform, and perform at a high level.  His price is low enough that you can play him and feel confident in what you are going to get.  If you want to save money at the tight end position, Miller is your guy this week.

DEFENSE

Houston (@CLE, $3,200) – The Texans have been one of the highest-scoring defenses in the league, and I see them getting after Brian Hoyer and company.  Hopefully they can pull together a couple of touchdowns this week; they are more than capable of doing so.

Pittsburgh (@TEN, $3,200) – Having your defense go against a rookie quarterback is always fun, and the Steelers get to do that this week with Zach Mettenberger at the helm.  I definitely see the Steelers forcing multiple turnovers on Monday night.

 

Lead photo: “Rob Gronkowski” by Wellslogan – Reliant Stadium for Patriots vs. Texans. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 via Wikipedia

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