This might be the toughest Bargain Bin I've written all season. I think FanDuel should just double the salary cap for the rest of the season so we don't have to use words like Jimmy Clausen or Charlie Whitehurst around here. I know, they're not going to do that...I'm a realist. But the reality is that I want to pay for some top tier guys at QB, RB, and WR this week so I have to find the value plays to make that happen. It's definitely possible...I have an Aaron Rodgers--Le'Veon Bell--Jordy Nelson lineup ready to fire in the Thursday NFL Bomb after all. Let's see who you can save on this week. As always, I've tried to keep these plays below $6500 for QB and around or below $5500 everywhere else. That was impossible to do in good conscience for WR this week, as you'll see.
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Shaun Hill ($6500): Shaun Hill has proven he can play a competent game of football against a bad defense. Going against Denver, Oakland, and Washington he has thrown for five TDs, while against Arizona and San Diego, just one. He gets the Giants Sunday, who are allowing the 10th most fantasy points to opposing QBs. Hill's upside is limited, but I think he is a safe play for this price. The Rams defense has been keeping them in games and providing nice field position on turnovers. I expect Eli Manning to oblige once or twice this week. Hill typically plays a more conservative game, but showed last week that he's not afraid to chuck it, throwing 39 times for 229 yards, an INT and no TD. He really needs the TDs to exceed value, so there is risk, but I think the Rams offense plays well here.
Case Keenum ($5000): I was a Keenum believer last year by default as I was forced to use him in a 2QB league for awhile. Keenum played eight games in 2013, his rookie year for the Texans. They've brought him back in the wake of injuries to Ryan Fitzpatrick and Tom Savage to face the oh-so-kind Baltimore secondary. Will he be this week's Derek Anderson? His stats last year leave a lot to be desired, but for minimum price, 9 TD:6 INT and 220 ypg could be worse. Hopefully he'll have DeAndre Hopkins back...if Hopkins misses the game I'm even less enthusiastic about him. This is nothing more than a minimum salary punt play that will allow you all the studs you want.
Advice: I do like the look of a GPP lineup with a cheap QB this week, though for cash games I think you need to go Rodgers, Brady, or Brees. The middle range QBs are not too enticing, outside of Mark Sanchez vs the Redskins if you're playing a Saturday inclusive slate. I'm not using Jimmy Clausen. I don't care what Mark Trestman whispers in his ear. In fact, I'll be avoiding all the Bears in what I see as a complete debacle against Detroit's top defense.
Pierre Thomas ($5700): Thomas is averaging 0.49 points per opportunity, same as hot new super star CJ Anderson. He's been seeing his role grow as he returns from the shoulder injury and gets the most favorable RB matchup in Atlanta. Of course I expect Mark Ingram to benefit from the matchup too, but NO has every reason to utilize both weapons this weekend. The Falcons have allowed 18 rushing and three receiving TDs to backs this year. Thomas' upside for his price, at home, can't be ignored.
Doug Martin ($5500): This is a tricky one to write. It's a lesser of evils situation down here. Martin is coming off his best yardage game (96 RuYds), most of which was accumulated in the first half. Tampa Bay inexplicably stopped running the ball in the second half, which is part of why Martin is so cheap. He's only scored two RuTDs this year and rates pretty high amongst the biggest disappointments over the past two seasons. He's here because of the workload he's seeing. Green Bay is middle of the pack in terms of both rushing and passing defense so I expect the Bucs to present a balanced offense. The opportunity will be there for Martin. The risk is whether he takes advantage.
Advice: There are a few other situations worth monitoring as far as value RB plays. Shane Vereen ($5500) has had a lot of success vs the Jets and projects well as a pass catching back vs this stout run D. He doesn't make the top spot because he's limited in practice with an ankle injury, and because of Belichick's general RB strategy, but if he plays I'll be using him. Chris Polk ($5000) scored twice last week and was seen taking reps with the first team during practice this week. While LeSean McCoy is expected to remain the primary back, that hasn't meant much in Philly. If Polk is surely getting goal line work, he may be worth a roll if you're playing a Saturday slate. The 49ers situation also looks pretty bleak. Both Gore and Hyde have missed practice so far this week, leaving SF with Alfonso Smith ($4500) and newly signed Philip Tanner (N/A) on the roster. It looks like DeMarco Murray will play this weekend, but could be limited, especially in passing situations. Lance Dunbar ($4500) could see an increase in opportunity as a result. Julius Randle would be the workhorse back if Murray were to sit out.
Davante Adams ($5400): This is really a stretch, but there is no value at WR this weekend. I do love the matchup with the Bucs for Aaron Rodgers, Jordy Nelson, and Randall Cobb this weekend, it's just a question of whether there's enough to trickle down to Adams. I think GB won't be shy about scoring points after being shut down by Buffalo last weekend, at least. Adams is boom or bust. He's caught one pass for 6 yards in each of the last two games, but he has proven a reliable option for Rodgers in the past. You'll be getting either 1 fpt or 10-15 fpts from Adams based on his past history so know that he is not a safe play, but cheap exposure to a potent offense.
Kenny Stills ($6100): New Orleans should be a source of multiple great plays this week home vs Atlanta. This game matters to both teams, and Vegas has it as the highest scoring game of the week with a 56 total. Stills has been the more volatile Saints receiver since Brandin Cooks went out, ranging from 4-25 fpts while averaging about 11 over that span. He's my favorite option on the Saints right now, including Jimmy Graham who just can't be 100% healthy. My podcast cohost @coachesser thinks his shoulder is still preventing him from fully extending both arms for passes.
Advice: I like Stills a lot, but based on the rest of my high priced lineups, I'm fitting in Adams a lot more often. If you're playing a Thursday slate, you have access to all three Jags WR at $5400. I can't recommend any of them. Dwayne Bowe is at $5500, which is dirt cheap for a team's WR1, but I think KC is serious about this no TDs to WRs thing they've got going. He's a little better play in PPR format because the targets are there, but I'm not excited for FanDuel. There's simply nothing good down here, it's kind of a matter of personal preference. The Bills guys are cheap and get a good matchup with Oakland, but I have little faith in Orton. Marquess Wilson ($5600) will be receiving balls thrown by Jimmy Clausen. I just don't see Clausen playing to Wilson's strengths.
Travis Kelce ($5600): Finally an easy one. Kelce has been my darling TE all year and now has back to back successful outings, first a 100 yard game, and then a TD scoring game. I'm not saying he's going to go out and do both, but Andy Reid may just finally be on to something. Kelce's increased targets have not come at the expense of his efficiency, as he is now hauling in 81% of his targets. The Steelers give up the 8th most fantasy points to TE, and Kelce should take advantage.
Advice: There are several TE below Kelce that warrant a mention, so I'll do a brief one on each. Jason Witten ($5300) has kind of shown up lately since Terrence Williams has not, he's averaging 9 fpts/game over the last seven, and the two bad ones were when Romo was banged up. For the same price, both Heath Miller and Owen Daniels are capable of big games. Jace Amaro is surprisingly a top 10 TE in terms of points per opportunity....the problem is the Jets offense provides so few. I'm avoiding Jordan Reed ($4900) vs Philly.
Buffalo Bills ($5100): The Bills defense is really good in both real life and in fantasy. They've had one bad showing, against an angry Patriots team. Otherwise, they've been gold. PFF has them as 4th best, they allow the fewest fpts to TE, second fewest to QB, and are top 10 vs WR and RB. Buffalo is just behind Houston with 30 total takeaways on the season. They face the Oakland Raiders. I'm not concerned about a let down on the part of the defense this week. Not. At. All.
Detroit Lions ($5200): The Lions are in an even better spot, honestly. PFF's #2 overall rated defense gets to face Jimmy Clausen and the hapless Bears. Wow, the Bears. Mistakes will be made in this game, and Detroit will take advantage. They are tied (with Buffalo) for the 2nd most interceptions at 19. As I indicated above, the only upside Clausen brings to the game is in the form of a reasonably priced Lions defense.
Advice: I like a lot of defenses this week. NE against the Jets should feast. The Seahawks are an okay play...I like the cheaper options above better, but if you want to go a little contrarian they should be fine. I feel the same about the Rams against Eli Manning and the Giants. People are flocking to Carolina against Johnny Manziel, which I'm not a fan of. Carolina failed to take advantage of the several turnover opportunities Mark Sanchez laid at their feet a few weeks ago. If you believed in Johnny last week, one game shouldn't sway you so far off of him that you trust a below average defense.