As we near the mid-point of the 2015 NFL season, injuries start to play a bigger role in weekly lineup building. Monitoring news up until kickoff on Sunday starts to become much more important than it was in previous weeks. With that in mind, here are some quarterbacks and running backs to take a look at on FanDuel this week.
*Note – FanDuel prices in parentheses
Five to target
1. Tom Brady, New England Patriots ($9,000)
2. Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals ($8,000)
3. Eli Manning, New York Giants ($7,800)
4. Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals ($7,600)
5. Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions ($6,900)
The Patriots are probably going to score their usual allotment of points this week, but pegging where that production is going to come from might be a little more difficult than normal. The “power backs” for the Patriots have a long history of success against the Colts, which worries me a little bit about how to handle Dion Lewis. In addition, there’s a good chance that Vontae Davis might cover Rob Gronkowski, though he might see a lot of Edelman as well. The safest route to go is to consolidate all the production through Tom Brady. It’s a prime-time game against a big rival, and I think Brady is the easy choice as the top overall quarterback of the week in all formats.
Believe it or not, Carson Palmer and the rest of the Arizona skill players are evolving into safe options on a weekly basis. Palmer’s numbers have been held in check over the past few weeks because Arizona has actually been winning by too much in games. This road game against Pittsburgh should be a bit more competitive (the Cardinals are favored by three on the NFL odds board), and the Pittsburgh defense is definitely beatable through the air. Arizona should have one of their bigger passing days of the year in this one, and that makes Palmer a fine play at a price tag of $8,000 on FanDuel.
Should you choose to go to the mid-tier at quarterback, look no further than…Eli Manning? Despite the preconceived notions many players have against Manning, he has actually been a top-five quarterback this season. He ranks fourth in the league in passing yards through five weeks, and he has a sparkling 10-to-2 touchdown-to-interception ratio. He has a special weapon at his disposal in Odell Beckham (assuming Beckham plays this week), and the Giants draw a nice matchup against the fantasy friendly Eagles this week. Buy in on Manning as his price tag is bound to rise next week.
The pricing algorithms still aren’t buying into the early season success for Andy Dalton. Like Manning, he has surged in the early going, and his overall stats are better than Eli’s. They include an average of 304 passing yards per game, and he has 11 touchdown passes to just two interceptions on the year. A road matchup against the Bills doesn’t look favorable on the surface, but teams have called passing plays on 70% of downs against the Bills so far this year. The way to attack them is through the air, and there’s no reason to avoid Dalton at this cheap price tag.
Matthew Stafford could be my favorite tournament-only play of the week. Calvin Johnson has yet to have a big game this season, and the Lions have been flat-out atrocious in almost every aspect of the game. A lot of it has been poor line play, with a bit of tough luck thrown in there. Remember, Johnson was 1/2 yard from a touchdown against Seattle. The Lions have also had some tough matchups in the early going. There is a chance that the Stafford-to-Johnson connection ignites this week against a very beatable Bears Defense. Stafford’s price has gotten cheap enough, and I think this is the week that he pays dividends. In addition, you can certainly pair him with Calvin Johnson for a high-upside GPP combination play.
Two to avoid
1. Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers ($8,000)
2. Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins ($7,700)
Cam Newton derives a lot of his fantasy value from his ability to run, and that generally makes him a safe play most of the time. However, a road game in Seattle is not the place to expect production. Seattle’s defense is more formidable with Kam Chancellor back in the fold, and they are definitely better at home. I will have no exposure to Cam Newton in Week 6.
The Dolphins are simply a mess right now. They lost to the Jets in London two weeks ago, they fired their head coach, and now rumors are swirling that Ryan Tannehill was berating practice squad players on the team. Stay far away from this offense, even in what appears to be a somewhat favorable matchup against the Titans.
Five to target
1. Le’Veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers ($9,000)
2. Matt Forte, Chicago Bears ($8,400)
3. DeMarco Murray, Philadelphia Eagles ($7,600)
4. Charcandrick West, Kansas City Chiefs ($6,200)
5. Danny Woodhead, San Diego Chargers ($6,000)
In terms of gross fantasy point projections, it’s hard to argue against Le’Veon Bell in any week. The Steelers will lean on him as much as they can, especially for as long as Michael Vick is the starting quarterback. They even lined Bell up in a wildcat formation for the winning touchdown on Monday night in San Diego. Bell is their whole offense right now, and he has major upside every week. Arizona has had a tough time containing some of the upper-tier running backs this season, and Bell should have a solid game as long as this one stays close.
Given the price difference between Bell and Matt Forte, it’s very possible that Forte could be the best value on the dollar this week. The Bears have won two in a row and are trending in the right direction, and now they get to face the winless Lions at Ford Field. Forte is the true workhorse running back for Chicago, and his ability to catch passes makes him a great play in daily fantasy. Fire him up as an elite option at a reasonable price tag of $8,400 on FanDuel.
After a lackluster performance against the Redskins which became his second game of the year with just eight carries, DeMarco Murray voiced his displeasure about not getting the ball enough. Chip Kelly responded by giving him 20 carries last week against New Orleans, and Murray parlayed that into 83 yards and a touchdown. He also caught seven passes for 37 yards. The Eagles look as though they are going to start leaning on him more, especially since it resulted in a dominating win a week ago. The middle tier of running backs is full of questionable players this week because of injuries. I don’t love Murray, but at this point he is the safest option in his price range.
The hot new commodity of the week is Charcandrick West for the Chiefs, who appears poised to become the lead back in Kansas City with Jamaal Charles out for the rest of the season. West received seven carries last week compared to just two for Knile Davis, so it’s no secret who Andy Reid plans to use more. In addition, Davis logged just two rushing yards on those two carries. West will be one of the most popular value plays of the week, but he doesn’t need to do much at $6,200 to pay off his price tag. Feel free to use him in any game format and differentiate your GPP rosters elsewhere.
It is sometimes difficult to trust Danny Woodhead on a daily fantasy roster, because he is never anointed with a “starter” tag. His workload is rarely ever set in stone. However, he plays a valuable role and has been a sneaky-good fantasy start for much of this season. This week projects as a “Woodhead game” for the Chargers, as they are on the road against a good Packers team. They are likely going to be playing from behind in the second half, and that should mean more snaps for Woodhead. He certainly carries more value in full PPR formats, but at this cheap price tag, I will have him on some FanDuel tournament lineups as well.
Two to avoid
1. Justin Forsett, Baltimore Ravens ($7,600)
2. Eddie Lacy, Green Bay Packers ($7,300)
The Justin Forsett fade this week is not a result of performance, but rather an injury-related note. Forsett was a popular pick last week, and it worked out well for his owners. However, he has yet to practice this week because of a sprained ankle. He would likely be popular again this week if healthy, but as of now his chances of playing on Sunday afternoon look bleak.
A consensus top-five pick in season long drafts, there haven’t been too many bigger disappointments in 2015 than Eddie Lacy. He has been banged up throughout the course of the season, he doesn’t seem to have the burst that he showed late last year, and he has been losing significant amounts of snaps to James Starks. He remains overpriced on FanDuel right now, especially if he is still not at 100% health. Stay away until Lacy shows some signs of life.