In doing my research for this week’s slate, one thing became quite clear: it’s a good week to spend up at running back. With players such as Adrian Peterson, Marshawn Lynch, Lamar Miller, and even Chris Ivory all in good to plus matchups, combined with the quarterback and receiver positions being more attractive in the mid to low range, it makes much more sense to allocate your funds on higher priced running backs, who we can more easily predict workload for. And, although he’s the highest priced back on the slate, Devonta Freeman might be the best one to pay for.
Freeman ticks all the boxes this week: he’s getting the usage (no fewer than 19 touches/week since becoming the full-time starter in week 3), his team is a home favorite (-4), he’s coming off of a bye week, and he’s facing a team in the Colts who rank 22nd against the run. Additionally, getting back to the usage, he might be in line for even more this week due to the fact that Atlanta’s only other source of offense, Julio Jones, will likely be shadowed by one of the best corners in the league, Vontae Davis.
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Due to the projected workload, you can feel confident in Freeman’s very high floor, making him a cash game lock. If you’re more of a tournament player, while he’ll likely be relatively highly owned, you can still deploy him because of his chances of finding the end zone a couple of times.
Let’s explore who else you can consider when building your lineups this week
Philip Rivers/$6,900 vs. Kansas City
If you’re one who’d rather spend for a more reliable signal caller, you’d be hard pressed to find one better in week 11 than Rivers. Last time we saw him he underwhelmed against Chicago, but he’ll be at home and coming off of a bye against a Chiefs secondary, who, despite what they did against Peyton Manning in week 10, have struggled mightily at times themselves. As usual, Rivers will be counted on to carry the Chargers offense.
Matthew Stafford/$5,400 vs. Oakland
Stafford highlights a handful of cheaper options at the position this week, and it’s likely he’ll find himself atop most – if not all my lineups. It’s pretty simple: Oakland’s secondary is ranked 31st against the pass, and Detroit couldn’t run the ball if they wanted to. I expect Stafford to sling it 35-40 times in a game with a fairly high over under of 48.
Tyrod Taylor/$5,200 @ New England
The Monday night matchup between the Bills and Patriots is the early leader in the clubhouse for the highest over/under on the slate at 49 points. The Bills are going to find themselves playing from behind quite a bit in this one, and will need some “Tygod” magic if they are to keep pace.
Other Considerations: Cam Newton/$6,900 vs. Washington, Derek Carr/$6,300 @ Detroit
Russell Wilson/$5,900 vs. San Francisco
There’s no getting around it, the Seahawks offense has been a mess most of the year. I’m not here to assess blame, but I will take advantage of a highly talented player with a depressed price tag. The matchup against San Francisco is a dream spot this week, but with the Hawks favorited by 10 in a game with the lowest over/under (39) makes Wilson a GPP play only for me. This game
could should be over quick, but he could very well be the reason it is.
Adrian Peterson/$6,800 vs. Green Bay
In a flash of the eye last Sunday against Oakland, as Peterson burst through the line and galloped for an 80-yard touchdown, we were reminded that, despite some young guns bursting on the scent this year, that he’s still probably the best running back in the game. For whatever reason he’s still a little underpriced heading into a terrific matchup at home against a reeling Green Bay team.
Darren McFadden/$5,000 @ Miami
As if we needed more confirmation about the legitimacy of McFadden this season, on Tuesday afternoon the Cowboys parted ways with troubled running back, Christine Michael, who was likely the only one who could’ve threatened to eat into DMC’s workload. Tony Romo is set to return this week, which means Miami won’t be able to stack the box like they would’ve done against Matt Cassell. That should leave McFadden with clearer running lanes against a team that is currently 31st against the run.
Charcandrick West/$4,500 @ San Diego
Since taking over for Jamaal Charles in week 7, West has received no less than 24 touches per game. He’s clearly not JC “Superstar”, but Andy Reid is trusting him with a very similar workload. I don’t expect that to change against San Diego this week. The Chiefs are three point dogs in this one, but West has proven to be at least a capable asset in the passing game, so game script shouldn’t get away from him even if they fall behind.
Other Considerations: Marshawn Lynch/$6,700 vs. San Francisco, Lamar Miller/$6,200 vs. Dallas
Legarratte Blount/$5,000 vs. Buffalo
With so many attractive options on the slate this week, I have a hunch Blount might fly under the radar. The Patriots are losing playmakers left and right, and if this game against Buffalo goes to script the Pats may just lean on Blount even more as they try to close out the game.
Calvin Johnson/$7,200 vs. Oakland
I’ve already stated that Stafford is one of my favorite plays this week, so naturally I’d like to pair him with his top target. On the season, “Megatron” has failed to record five or more catches just once (week 1 against San Diego), so you can trust that his amount of targets will keep his floor fairly high. And, his ceiling is through the roof in this matchup against one of the worst secondaries in the league.
Amari Cooper/$6,800 @ Detroit
You’re probably sensing a theme here, as this game will be a popular one to target given the high point total. It has the makings of a shootout, and you’ll want to – at the very least – have one pass catcher from this game. Cooper has hovered around this same price range all year, and rightfully so given the nature of his up and down rookie campaign. But the targets are there and no one in the Detroit secondary can handle his route running skills. For the record, If you’d rather drop down some in price and still get a piece of this game, Cooper’s running mate, Michael Crabtree makes for an excellent target as well.
Brandon LaFell/$4,300 vs. Buffalo
Even though he wasn’t written up in this column last week, I too fell victim to the allure of LaFell in my cash games last week. With the loss of Dion Lewis, it just made sense that LaFell would see an increase in targets, thus making him a safe cash game play. I’m rolling the dice again this week, only this time the Pat’s hand might be forced with the loss of Edelman.
Other Considerations: Sammy Watkins/$4,800 @ New England, Stevie Johnson/$3,900 vs. Kansas City
Dez Bryant/$7,700 @ Miami
In the coming weeks Dez will undoubtedly regain his elite status and can be deployed once again in cash games as Tony Romo shakes the rust off, but he’s more of a tournament play for me this week. He’s worth rolling out in some GPP’s for the low ownership and the chance that Romo is better than expected in his first week back.
Rob Gronkowski/$7,700 vs. Buffalo
I normally begin this part of the column by saying “If you’re not paying up for Gronk…”, but this week I almost definitely will be, so I thought I’d say a few words. And it’s quite simple, really: last week we thought he’d see a few more targets with no Dion Lewis and he ended up with only seven. This week, with no Lewis or Edelman, the offensive workload falls squarely on the shoulders of Gronk, LaFell, Blount, and maybe Amendola. Buffalo will try to take him away, but if he can see 8-10 targets he should have no trouble making value.
Travis Kelce/$4,700 @ San Diego
Kelce has been a major disappointment for the most part this year, but if there’s one ray of light it’s that he’s caught at least five balls in all but two games. San Diego employs a talented secondary, but they do lack the size and speed and the safety and linebacker position to keep up with Kelce. I wouldn’t be planning on a break out, but if he catches his usual five or six passes then he should pay off his price tag.
Jacob Tamme/$3,600 vs. Indianapolis
If Vontae Davis does indeed slow down Jones to the point where Matt Ryan has to look elsewhere when he drops back, Tamme will likely be who he looks for. He’s seen 16 targets over the past two games, so, while it’s still not much, he is beginning to carve out a small role in the offense. The Falcons will be in the red zone several times in this one, and Tamme could easily find himself on the end of a few Ryan touchdown passes.
Seahawks/$4,000 vs San Franciso
Not too much analysis needed here. Blaine Gabbert will be the starting quarterback for San Francisco…on the road…in Seattle. Plug and play.
Carolina/$3,400 vs. Washington
This game has a higher over/under than I anticipated (46), but Carolina is a seven-point favorite, and I don’t think Washington’s offense with thrive two weeks in a row. Josh Norman and that secondary should be able to feast off of Kirk Cousins.