FanDuel Friday: Danny Woodhead has become a DFS darling


FanDuel Friday: Danny Woodhead has become a DFS darling

Danny Woodhead is the new king of garbage time. 

The little engine that could in the Chargers backfield put up ridiculous numbers in the final few minutes in Week 7, when the game was already in hand and there was no chance of San Diego coming back to win. He finished with 11 catches for 75 yards and two TDs and has become a valuable fantasy commodity despite just 188 rushing yards on the season. 

[MORE: Get all your Fantasy Sports coverage for the week here]

Woodhead also has to be the inspiration for Weird Al's spectacular postgame presser parody, right?

As we enter into the world of Week 8 daily fantasy games, Woodhead is just too enticing for some of us to pass up.

John "The Professor" Paschall

I'm all about the Big Blue connection this week between Manning and OBJ, who is making his return to New Orleans after becoming a star with LSU. This game could end up being a shootout with OBJ going off and Manning throwing it almost 40 times. 

Everyone, and I mean everyone, will be playing Gurley (rightfully so with that matchup) so either join the club or be a hipster and go against the flow. Woodhead is one of my favorite plays of the week because of how much the Chargers love to throw the football. They'll do it again on Sunday against the Ravens who are horrible against the pass and not too shabby against the run. 

Because I went cheap with Wright (slightly riskier play with Mariota out but still the team's top target) and the Titans D (seriously, they are second in the NFL in passing yards per game) I was able to get Antonio Brown who should return to his monster ways with Big Ben back.

Scott Krinch

You can't put a price on greatness and in my mind that's what the future holds for St. Louis Rams running back Todd Gurley. The rookie is already drawing comparisons to Pro Football Hall of Famers Eric Dickerson and Marshall Faulk after just four NFL games. With at least 159 total yards in each of his last three games, Gurley needs to be in your FanDuel lineup each week. It should be smooth-sailing for the former Georgia Bulldog when he goes up against a putrid 49ers run defense in Week 8. While his price tag has grown to $8100, he is still worth every penny. 

Gurley isn't the only rookie who was a must-own for me this week. Vikings speedster Stefon Diggs (19 receptions and 324 yards in his last three games) is going up against a Bears secondary which hasn't stopped too many receivers this season. For a reasonable price of $6700 you shouldn't think twice about using Diggs in all of your lineups this weekend.

By using Ronnie Hillman ($6100) as my second running back I was able to splurge on both Julio Jones and Keenan Allen as my final two wide receivers. The pair of No. 1 wideouts should help push my lineup into the green. Eli Manning and his $7300 price against the Saints, the second-most generous defense to opposing quarterbacks, is a no-brainer. Finally, look for Ladarius Green to easily out-perform his low price with Antonio Gates likely sidelined against the Ravens.


Mike Smith

Well, the San Diego Chargers made us look pretty smart last week, and I see no reason to do much different this week.  The Bolts play in the game with largest over/under total, making both the Chargers and Ravens good plays this week. From San Diego I have Phillip Rivers, Danny Woodhead and Ladarius Green in my lineup.  Antonio Gates hasn’t practiced in over two weeks now, and when he didn’t play last week Woodhead and Green combined for 15 catches and all 3 of Phillip Rivers’ touchdown passes.  On the other side of the ball, the Chargers have allowed the 2nd most rushing yards in the NFL and are 15th in total yards allowed.  At only $6,900 and $6,700 respectively, Justin Forsett and Steve Smith Sr. are two of the best values on the board.

[ROTOWORLD: Your home for all the latest Fantasy Football news]

Rounding out my lineup I love the matchups both Julio Jones and Alshon Jeffery have going.  There are very few players in the league capable of covering Julio Jones and none of them play for the Buccaneers.  Jeffery is coming off his first 100 yard receiving game of the year before the bye week, and now gets to square off against Xavier Rhodes who has really struggled for the Vikings this year.  The Vikings haven’t won in Chicago since 2007, and if that trend is going to continue it will be because of Jeffery, Matt Forte and Jay Cutler.

Tony Andracki

True to my word, I have both Antonio Brown and Tavon Austin in my lineup this week. Austin is exactly the kind of boom-or-bust guy that can help you in contests, as his $5,300 price tag is awfully cheap when he's capable of breaking big plays and putting up a huge day at any point. Brown has been over $9,000 most of this year, but with his performance lacking while Ben Roethlisberger has been hurt, Brown's price tag has dropped. Make sure you hop on that this week, with Roethlisberger now listed as probable.

Bridgewater has a nice matchup against a Bears secondary that hasn't intercepted a ball all year and the second-year Vikings QB is a completely different player now that Stefon Diggs is in the lineup. Plus, the money I saved there helped me get two top-flight receivers, adding Jones to Brown in what should be a big week with the Falcons going up against the Bucs.

Justin Forsett is facing the worst run defense in the league right now and I'm going all-in on Lacy returning from the Bye healthy and free for the first time since Week 1. Tyler Eifert has become a stud (and weekly option in DFS leagues, regardless of matchup) while Hauschka and the Jets D/ST are always solid choices at their respective positions. I don't spend much time looking for bargains at kicker or D/ST. The price disparity isn't high and it's just not worth passing up on the top options to save only a few bucks.

How can the Bears make Khalil Mack even better in 2019?

USA Today

How can the Bears make Khalil Mack even better in 2019?

In the midst of Khalil Mack’s All-Pro debut season with the Bears, then-outside linebackers coach Brandon Staley offered a thought of how his star pupil could be even better in 2019. With the benefit of a full offseason of OTAs and training camp, the Bears would be able to move Mack around more within their defense, which would present tougher challenges for opposing coaching staffs trying to gameplan for him. 

Staley left for the Denver Broncos along with Vic Fangio back in January. But a new coaching staff has the same thought: There’s more to what Mack can do than we saw in 2018. And 2018 was pretty impressive. 

“There will be opportunities for him to do a variety of things from a variety of different alignments,” senior defensive assistant/outside linebackers coach Ted Monachino said. “Freedom, he has a little bit. But variety he has plenty. There’s plenty of things that we’re going to try to use him for and to do with him that allow him to showcase the things he does well.”

The No. 1 thing Mack does well, to boil it down, is wreck a game. Every head coach and offensive coordinator around the league has to develop a plan for limiting those game-wrecking abilities. It meant quick throws, the kind that leave the quarterback’s hand before Mack can even set up a pass-rushing move, for some teams. For others, it meant offering extra pass protection support through committing a tight end, running back or both to slowing him down. Mack still found a way to total 12 1/2 sacks and 73 total pressures, all while an ankle injury effectively wiped out four games in the middle of the season. 

“You’ve got a phenomenal, phenomenal athlete, all that stuff” defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano said. “He’s a great football player, but he’s a better teammate. And he’s a better person. He doesn’t say much, but actions speak louder than words. Again, he’s a great worker. He’s a smart guy. He picks things up. Not gonna say much, but out here on the football field he’s going to lead by example.” 

As the 2018 season progressed, the Bears felt more comfortable with having Mack play on the left and right during games, not one spot exclusively (in the season’s first four weeks, 166 of Mack’s snaps came on the left and 25 came on the right, per Pro Football Focus). By the playoffs, the Bears were able to strategically use Mack on either side of their defense to try to counter-act the scheming done by Eagles coach Doug Pederson (Mack played 26 snaps on the left and 26 on the right in that game, per Pro Football Focus). 

But both the previous and current coaching staffs envision Mack being able to do more than just line up on either side of the formation. And Monachino has experience in figuring out the best way to create that variety he talked about, too: He was Terrell Suggs’ position coach in 2011 when the Baltimore Ravens edge rusher won defensive player of the year honors (also: That was the lone year in which Pagano was the Ravens’ defensive coordinator). 

Suggs primarily rushed from various defensive line positions (end/outside linebacker, as designated by Pro Football Focus), but lined up off the ball on a little under 20 percent of his snaps in 2011. An article described him as playing a “hybrid-linebacker” position, which sounds about right. 

Suggs finished 2011 with 14 sacks, seven forced fumbles and two interceptions. 

It’s only May, which means it’s far too early to predict how the Bears will use Mack. Coaches don’t even know the specifics yet. But it’s fair to expect a few different wrinkles for how Mack’s game-wrecking ability is deployed in the Bears’ defense with a full complement of offseason practices — and, too, the coaching minds of Monachino and Pagano. 

“With a player like this, you don’t even have to sit in the offense’s meeting rooms on the other side to know that they have to tend to him on every snap,” Monachino said, referencing Suggs. “They have to know where (former Pittsburgh Steelers safety) Troy Polamalu is on every snap. You gotta know where (Houston Texans edge rusher) JJ Watt is on every snap. This is a guy that you have to do that with. So with Khalil, being able to predict that they’re going to talk about, how do we tend to Khalil Mack on every snap, and then being able to move him into different spots and then to show him in different ways and to do different things with him, it’s going to be really valuable for the defense.”

The Bears are getting a different type of nickel cornerback in Buster Skrine

USA Today

The Bears are getting a different type of nickel cornerback in Buster Skrine

When the Bears’ defense takes the field against Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers on Opening Night, they’ll be returning 9 of the 11 starters that were part of a 2018 squad that was one of the best in Bears’ history. 

One of the few new faces that figure to be among the starting 11 is cornerback Buster Skrine. Gone is Bryce Callahan, who left for Vic Fangio’s Denver team after spending the first four years of his career in Chicago. Though Bears’ scouts have had their eye on Skrine for a few seasons now, it was his more palatable three-year, $16.5 million contract -- compared to Callahan’s three-year, $21 million contract -- that finally got him in house. 

“Me and Buster came out the exact same year, and I’ve watched him,” Prince Amukamara said after OTAs on Wednesday afternoon. “He actually played with my best friend and he would always talk about how fast Buster is -- especially when Buster played gunner. 

“I’ve always watched him, and I feel like he’s very similar to Bryce [Callahan] by being quick and being active. I’m definitely happy with the pick up.” 

Once considered a spot to place the third-best, less-athletic cornerback, no position has seen it's value increase so dramatically over the last decade. Offenses are changing dramatically; no team saw more three receiver sets in 2018 than the Bears’ defense. Per Sharp Stats, opposing offenses lined up in 11 personnel against Chicago 78% of the time. The next closest was the Chiefs at 71%, and the NFL average is 65%. 

“I think nickel is a different ball game,” Amukamara added. “I would say it can be one of the hardest positions on the field, just because you’re on an island, but the receiver has so much room to work with. Plus, it’s a lot of mental gymnastics, so you’ve got to know when you’re blitzing, know when you’re running, and so we put a lot on our nickel.” 

Despite not being considered part of a what teams have traditionally considered base defense, the pass-happy nature of this era in the NFL has all but mandated that nickel corners are on the field for most of the defensive snaps. It’s no coincidence that before breaking his foot against the Rams in Week 12, Callahan was on pace to set a career-high in snap percentage. 

“Nowadays, you see a lot more sub packages,” Bears defensive backs coach Deshea Townsend said. “You’re probably playing 70% in sub during a game now… Otherwise, it hasn’t really changed - he just plays more. That’s the thing - he is technically a starter. He’s probably going to run on the field first in a lot of games, and by rule that’s a starter.

“One thing about the nickel position is that you’ve got to do a little bit of both. You can’t just go out on 3rd down and cover and run the option routes. Now they’re going to hand off the ball and find out where you’re at and you’re going to have to make a tackle. That’s the difference in the position now - it’s a first and second down type of guy that has to be able to do it all.”

While Skrine isn’t considered as good a cover corner as Callahan, Skrine’s pass rush and run defense looks pretty similar. Per Pro Football Focus, Skrine’s run defense graded out significantly higher (80.7) than Callahan’s (57.8). 

“With Buster, it’s about his playing experience,” Townsend added. “He’s a guy who will mix it up in the run. He can blitz, and he’s reliable. He’s tough.”