This week in the NFL DFS playbook is a rather tough one with two division matchups on the books. I actually believe both sets up games will be high scoring, so that bodes well for us. The game tonight will have much more fantasy value than people realize, so I have no problem going heavy with the Browns and Ravens. There is some great value to be had as well, so building a lineup with studs will be easier than most weeks.
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I feel like I’m losing my sanity by recommending McCown, but I’m also not too proud to use a guy who can easily throw for over 300 yards and two scores. Johnny Manziel is done for the year because he’s an idiot, so McCown is the one to lead the ship for the Browns the rest of the season. Before Manziel took over for two weeks, McCown was averaging over 300 passing yards and threw for at least two scores in all but one game. The Ravens are plagued by injuries and don’t have a defense really stop anyone. I love McCown this week and am starting him with confidence.
It’s a weird world we live in where Aaron Rodgers will probably be lower owned than Matt Stafford on Thursday. That’s actually why I’m favoring Rodgers here, even with the higher salary. With the reemergence of Eddie Lacy, I expect the Packers to rely on the run to set up the pass. Rodgers averages over 250 yards and 2 touchdowns in his career versus the Lions. I think that’s a nice baseline for a guy who can easily go for 300 yards and 3 scores Thursday night with lower ownership.
Stafford will be all the rage this week after his 5 touchdown performance on Thanksgiving. Don’t get me wrong, it’s impressive, but I think it had less to do with Stafford playing great and more to do with Eagles defense being bad and giving up on Chip Kelly. Still, there’s no denying that Stafford has played very well as of late. Any quarterback that has Calvin Johnson to throw to is never one to sleep on.
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Buck Allen is going to be over 60% owned tonight. One of the misconceptions about NFL DFS is that you always have to be contrarian in order to win. Well there’s a big difference between being different and trying to be the smartest person in the room. Allen has a cheap price tag and a great matchup tonight. Joe Flacco is out for the season, so having a backup quarterback in there means they will rely on the run more. Everything shapes up for being a great matchup for Allen, especially when considering that Justin Forsett and Lorenzo Taliaferro are both on IR for the reminder of the season.
Fat Eddie finally looks like he’s back, even with all the extra trips to the buffet line. He missed the previous matchup against the Lions in week 9, but since then he’s reached the century mark on the ground in back-to-back games. James Starks doesn’t appear to be eating into his carries, and his price tag still haven’t caught up to his recent production. Even with the high ownership he’ll have this week, Lacy is almost a must start in cash games.
Riddick is my “go big or go home” play this week. The Lions backfield is a mess with so many mouths to feed, but Riddick has been the 3rd down back for the majority of the season. Riddick has averaged about 10 points per game in a PPR so far, and I think that’s about right where he’ll end up on Thursday night. If the Lions get down big, Riddick will be used even more in the passing game. It’s always a risk to throw him in a lineup, but it could pay off big time if game flow goes the right way.
Three touchdowns last week means Calvin’s ownership will be higher than ever with people chasing those points. But like I mentioned earlier, the reemergence of Matt Stafford chucking the ball up to Calvin means good things for fantasy. Calvin is averaging 10 targets per game this season, and that number has been more consistent with Jim Bob Cooter doing the play calling. The Lions will need another big game from Calvin if they want to make that final push for the playoffs and beat the Packers.
Benjamin has hit a lull it seems after a hot start to the season. But there seems to be a common misconception that Benjamin is better suited for Johnny Maziel under center, but the numbers prove otherwise. Benjamin has played his best football when McCown is chucking the rock. He’s less of a homerun threat and more of a possession receiver. That is sets up nicely this week against a terrible Ravens defense that ranks near the bottom in every defensive passing category. If you’re going with McCown as your QB this week, I think Benjamin makes for a nice mini-stack.
The thing about backup quarterbacks playing is they have better chemistry with second team receivers. Aiken started the season behind Steve Smith and Marlon Brown, so he already has some chemistry with Matt Schaub. He’s playing nearly every snap on offense as well and that means more opportunities for Aiken to be involved in the offense.
Cobb has been one of the biggest disappointments in fantasy football this season. He’s had his big games, but he disappears when the Packers need him most. The good news is that Cobb is still getting a lot of looks from Rodgers every week. Hopefully those targets will turn into more production from Cobb. Darius Slay was covering James Jones last matchup so Cobb should be even more involved this week.
Gary Barnkowski is only relevant with Josh McCown under center. He’s his favorite target and needs to be in all cash lineups. It’s as simple as that.
Gillmore is my sneaky play along with Riddick this week. He’s coming off a big game last week with over 100 yards receiving. If there’s one thing about Matt Schaub, he loves to look for his tight ends. With not much else in the Ravens passing game, I love Gillmore this week as a GPP play.
Defense is a dumpster fire this week. If I had to pick one, it would be the Packers because of the upside of the offense forcing the Lions to be one-dimensional. The rest of the defenses are all in play if you want to save some cash and be contrarian.
Crosby is the obvious play because of the offense. Tucker is one of the best in the league, and is about as accurate as they come at the position. Neither price tag is going break your lineup, so it’s all about fitting in the other players on your roster. I’d go Crosby by default, but no issues going Tucker either.
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