It feels like the season just started yesterday, but here we are, with only three weeks left of the regular season. We have football on Thursday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday this week, but I will be focusing on the 11-game main slate throughout this article.
Injuries struck again this past weekend, as we lost Carson Wentz for the season. These injuries have opened up some value, though, and it’s all about locating the best cheaper plays as a result. Let’s get into my top picks for FanDuel, DraftKings, and DRAFT.
Cash Game Targets
Tom Brady @ Pittsburgh Steelers
This game has the highest implied total on the slate, and the Patriots have the second-highest implied team total on the NFL odds board. With the loss of Shazier, this Pittsburgh defense is going to struggle over the middle. Pittsburgh also ranks 29th in DVOA against pass-catching backs, and the Patriots have three great ones. Brady struggled against the Dolphins on Monday night, but I’m expecting a bounce-back game in this spot. He is averaging 37 passing attempts per game, which is the second most among quarterbacks this season, and he's also averaging 297.2 passing yards and 186.1 air yards per game, which are both the most in the NFL. If you’re paying up at quarterback, I think Brady is the safest option on the slate, as he gives you a lot of upside in what should be a high-scoring game.
Nick Foles @ New York Giants
If you’re looking to save money at quarterback, I think Foles against the Giants makes a lot of sense. The Giants are allowing the most fantasy points per game and have surrendered the most passing touchdowns to opposing quarterbacks this season. They also have a 5.8% adjusted sack rate, which is 23rd among all teams. They’ve struggled with getting pressure on the quarterback, and that’s resulted in allowing a lot of passing touchdowns. Foles will be making his first start of the season this weekend, but he couldn’t have asked for a better matchup. I could see fading Foles in tournaments, but I do think he’s a good, cheap option for cash games.
Jimmy Garoppolo vs. Tennessee Titans
I wrote Garoppolo up in this article last week, and he looked great, that is until he got into the red zone. He threw for 334 yards on 33 pass attempts against Houston last week, and has now thrown for 293 and 334 yards in his first two starts with the 49ers. If Garoppolo plays better in the red zone this weekend, we’re looking at the potential for multiple passing touchdowns in this spot. The Titans rank 23rd in DVOA against the pass this season, and that's after having some favorable matchups over the last three weeks. I like this situation a lot for Garoppolo, and I think he’s an excellent pivot off Foles in tournaments.
Cam Newton vs. Green Bay Packers
When we get to this point of the season, we know which teams are fighting for playoff spots. Carolina is in a good spot to make the postseason, but they need to keep winning if they want to win the NFC South. This is a must-win game for the Packers too, and with Rodgers coming back, I’m expecting a high-scoring affair. I think Newton will be low owned this weekend, and he has enough upside to win you a GPP in this matchup. Green Bay has allowed at least one passing touchdown in all but one game this season, and Kizer just threw for three passing touchdowns last weekend against this defense. The Packers rank 20th in DVOA against the pass, and they’re allowing 17.78 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks. Newton has rushed for at least 50 yards in four of the last five games, and his rushing upside gives him a nice ceiling this weekend.
Cash Game Targets
Le’Veon Bell vs. New England Patriots
The Le’Veon Bell we know and love is back, and he’s coming off another big game against Baltimore. Bell has at least 29 DraftKings points in three straight games, and he’s getting WR1 type of work to go with workhorse-back carries. He’s had 41 targets over the last four games and now faces a New England team that is ranked 21st in DVOA against pass-catching running backs. Bell leads all running backs in opportunity share and carries per game, and he’s also second in targets and first in receptions. With this game having the highest total on the slate, I’m paying up for Bell as much as I can this weekend, in all formats.
Kenyan Drake @ Buffalo Bills
Everyone was concerned when the Dolphins traded away Ajayi, but Drake has looked great over the last two weeks. And, with Williams questionable to play again this weekend, I think Drake is a lock-and-load play against the Bills. Buffalo ranks 24th in DVOA against the run, but they’re allowing the most fantasy points per game to opposing running backs. The Bills have allowed over 100 yards rushing in five of the last six games, while surrendering 11 rushing touchdowns in that span. Ever since the trade of Marcell Dareus, this run defense has struggled, so if Williams is out, Drake becomes a top play in all formats for me.
Todd Gurley @ Seattle Seahawks
It was amazing to me that Coach McVay said he needed to get Gurley more involved after the game against the Eagles. This is a running back that already has a 35.3% dominator rating this season, which means he’s very involved in this offense. He’s third in rushing yards and second in receiving yards among running backs. Gurley also leads all running backs with 13 total touchdowns this season. If they’re going to get him more involved this weekend, he makes for a fantastic tournament play against the Seahawks. Seattle has only allowed over 100 yards rushing in three games this season, and the Seahawks allow the third-fewest fantasy points per game to running backs. That said, this defense is beatable over the middle, so Gurley has high upside with his pass-catching abilities this weekend.
Samaje Perine vs. Arizona Cardinals
I really like the Washington side of this game, and I think game flow will be in Perine's favor here. The Arizona offensive line is beat up right now, so Washington should be able to create some pressure on Gabbert. If this happens, we could see Perine get 20+ touches and potentially have some excellent field position because of the defense. With Thompson, Kelly and now Marshall on the IR, Perine will be a three-down back for the rest of the season. I love his price on DraftKings this weekend, and after two mediocre games, I love his chances for a bounce-back game.