Yes, Yes, Yes! The NFL is back. Christmas is finally here. We have had salaries for more than a month now and the season has arrived just in time because my head is about to explode from information overload. What is the remedy for this? Obviously it is to supply more information. What follows are some thoughts to help you make the best decision for your fantasy rosters this week. I play a balance of Cash games (Head-to-Heads and 50/50’s) and Guaranteed Prize Pool Tournaments mainly on DraftKings. I hate Kickers, therefore FanDuel is not a major focus for me. Regardless, I have a lot of fun doing it and hope that this information helps you when constructing your roster this week. Good luck. Oh, by the way, I have never won a millionaire maker tournament and do not appear on ESPN so don’t get mad if my tips don’t make you all the money. Trust me, if these tips don’t work out, my wife will be much more mad at me then you ever can be. With that said, trust the process and make wise decisions!
The Old Man Still Has It – Larry Fitzgerald is old. He has fallen off each of the last two years as the year wore on. But this is not the end of the year. This is the start of the year. Fitz is not a normal 33 (soon to be 34) year old. He led the NFL in receptions last year with 107. He is a workout machine. He is well-respected. He has great hands. He’s as tough as they get. His quarterback, by all accounts, is playing well leading up to the first game against a bad Detroit secondary. In the first game of the 2016 season, he put up 28 DK pts against New England! His floor is high and he has touchdown upside because of his hands and strength. Besides, Fitz should be going against Quadre Diggs, who was ranked 94 out of 110 cornerbacks (according to Pro Football Focus). Get off my lawn!!! The old man should take the young Lions out to the woodshed like they are Robin Ventura.
It’s Not You; It’s Me – I once had a long-time girlfriend. We got along well for awhile. Eventually, even though we had been through a lot of good times together, she started to get on my nerves. I started to see her flaws more and more so I dumped her. Actually, I told her that it wasn’t anything that she did but that I just needed to work on some things. Eric Decker, Keenan Allen and Danny Woodhead are like my long-time girlfriend. In the past, I played them in DFS whenever I could but now they are damaged goods. They were all so reliable to my DFS lineups (especially cash games). All three are coming off of season-ending injuries which devastated me since I was so in love with playing them in DFS. They are now available but I just don’t think I can pull the trigger. When I broke up with my old girlfriend, I thought I would be okay with her dating someone else but it hurt seeing her with someone else. If Decker, Woodhead, or Allen end up looking good on someone else’s arm (I mean having a great week in DFS), I will be okay with that. Seriously?!? No, I will be ticked. But I can’t do much about it, until, of course next week. Why? Because it’s DFS (not season-long), which means that we might be going steady again next week and they’ll be DFS arm-candy for me.
Free Space – Zach Ertz will be the chalk at Tight End for cash games among the top players. If you are not playing him in your cash games then you probably need to re-examine your process. You can easily fade him in tournaments because his ownership might be too high but not cash. He is too stinkin’ cheap and way too talented to ignore this week. The Redskins allowed the 2nd most amount of catches last year to TE’s. Jordan Matthews is gone and he played a lot in the slot so that part of the field (where a TE is normally hanging out) should be more open. Ertz averaged 10 targets per game in the last 7 games of 2016 as rookie QB Carson Wentz finally started to get comfortable. He also had 24.2 DK pts against Washington last December. Play him. Don’t overthink it. Trust the process!
Fool Me Once, Shame on You … Fool Me Twice, Shame on Me – How many times are we going to fall for the banana in the tailpipe. Todd Gurley is supposed to be in a great position to take advantage of a bad Indianapolis Colts defense. How many times did we play Gurley last year because he was really talented, had a great rookie year and appeared to be in a good situation? It’s still the Rams. His quarterback is still an unproven Jared Goff. “Trent Richardson 2.0” only had one game last year where he had 20+ DK pts. I will wait and see. He needs to prove it. There are other running backs that I trust. Todd Gurley is not in my trust tree.
Stage Five Clinger – Let’s face it, we all like the hot girl that is into us. Even better, we like the hot girl that is into us and is low maintenance. What we don’t like is the hot girl that is CRAZY and is pulling us down into the dark deep relationship abyss. Allen Robinson is that hot girl. He is really attractive (i.e. he is one of the most talented players in the NFL). I watch his YouTube highlights like it’s the hot girl’s Instagram account. I remember him putting a dagger in my heart as a Michigan fan. He is dangerous and yet I can’t get away from him. Last year, he was my #3 season-long draft pick after Le’Veon Bell and Ezekiel Elliott. Please help me not to play him this week even though he is ridiculously low-priced. It’s a new year. Please help me. It could be a fresh start. Please help me. He has a new coach. Please save me from myself. He will ruin my DFS week 1. He will cause me to lose money just like last year. He will pull me into his Blake Bortle-deep abyss. But did I mention he is really talented? Remember, he had 30.2 DK pts last November against Houston? Maybe he won’t be so bad, after all. He’s a bargain and he’s hot (I mean talented). Maybe I’ll give him one more chance because she (I mean he) is hot (I mean talented).
The Wright Stuff – In 2013, Dowell Loggains was the offensive coordinator for the Tennessee Titans when Kendall Wright went for a career-high 1,079 reception yards. Wright averaged 8.7 targets that year. Those are important stats because the pair is now reunited in Chicago. This wasn’t big news until Cameron Meredith went down with an injury a couple of weeks ago. There is now no clear-cut #1 receiver in Chicago. Wright is more of a possession, slot receiver type. At a near-minimum salary of $3,200 he might end up being a free square against a Falcons team that doesn’t have an overpowering secondary. This game also has one of the highest projected totals of the day. Chicago is an underdog and should be forced to throw a lot in the second half. His upside might be limited because he may not be a touchdown machine but he should catch a lot of balls this week.
New Sheriff in Town – The 2016 Atlanta Falcons were an offensive juggernaut. Quarterback Matt Ryan had an MVP-season, Julio Jones was second in the NFL in receiving yards and the running backs accounted for more than 2,500 yards from scrimmage. Offensive coordinator Kyle Shananan was rewarded with a head coaching job in San Francisco. However, for fantasy owners, it was tough to rely on Jones or either of the running backs because Atlanta was so good overall. In fact, 13 different players caught a touchdown pass during the year. Julio Jones is as close to unstoppable as you can get as a wide receiver. He is tall, athletic, fast, has good hands and an incredible work ethic. Besides, he also played for Saint Nick at Bama. But he only had a total of 8 targets in the red zone last year. By comparison, Mohamed Sanu, had 11 targets. Sure, he faced double coverage most of the time but the Falcons choose to go elsewhere, which was good for Atlanta but not for fantasy owners. Steve Sarkisian, the new OC, promises to get Julio Jones more RZ Targets. If this is true then Jones could have a monster season – maybe one for the ages.
99 Problems but a Britt Ain’t One – I really like Jay-Z. I don’t like Kenny Britt. It’s probably because he has gotten in trouble with the law one too many times for my liking. He played for the dismal Los Angeles Rams last season. Yes, he is no longer with the Rams, which should make anyone happy. Except, that he landed with the Cleveland Browns. The mistake on the lake. That is Lake Erie, for those of you that wrote notes during 7th grade Geography class. Britt has been paroled (editor’s note – word choice intentional) to a new team. He now has to play for another bad team with a rookie quarterback starting. This normally is not the optimal situation for a wide receiver, but you see this is familiar territory for Britt. He played on a terrible team with a rookie quarterback last year and still had a career year as he went over 1,000 receiving yards. Cleveland lost their best receiver in Terrelle Pryor. They have to throw to someone and it might has well be Britt. Pittsburgh should manhandle them leaving Cleveland no choice but to air it out in the second half and play catch up. He’s cheap and talented.
Narrative Street – Hurricane Harvey devastated the Houston area. With the carnage still visible everywhere you look, the Texans will play host to the Jacksonville Jaguars in NRG Stadium. JJ Watt raised $27 million for the hurricane relief fund. He is a bad-Bad-BAd-BAD MAN on the football field! He is coming off of an injury that sidelined him last year. He is a caged animal playing for an even bigger cause. The team will have pre-game ceremonies. Much like when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2006, the Texans will be playing for a city! Besides, their defense has averaged 14 DK pts against Jacksonville in the last six games that the two teams have met. Don’t mess with Texas!
Never Get Involved in a Land War in Asia – Could also be called “never go against a Sicilian when death is on the line” or “don’t ever argue with your wife” . . . all classic blunders. Playing running backs other than Le’Veon Bell or David Johnson is not optimal. You may not be able to fit both in, but for the love of everything we hold dear, please don’t be that guy that thinks he is smarter than everyone else and fades BOTH!!! You won’t find a running back (and definitely not two) who has a higher floor or ceiling than these two. Don’t make the amateur mistake. Don’t over think it. The Detroit Lions were 29th in the NFL last year at defending running backs through the air. If David Johnson caught 80 passes for 879 yards and 4 touchdowns … as a running back. Those statistics would have ranked him as a top-35 fantasy WR. Overall, he averaged 26.6 DK pts last year. In his final six games that he was healthy, he earned 30+ DK pts four times. His matchup with Detroit is juicy. Le’Veon Bell averaged 28.0 DK pts last season, including dropping 37.1 on the Browns. He might even be a better receiver out of the backfield than DJ (if that is possible) since his average depth of target was -0.1 and he averaged 6.9 yards per target. In other words, he usually caught the ball behind the line of scrimmage and gained at least 7 yards. That is remarkable. You hear that sound? It is the dinner Bell ringing because Le’Veon is gonna eat against the Browns.
Princess Leia Lineup of the Week – I was 7 years old and Leia was not only a Princess but a goddess. She was my first crush. I fell madly in love with her at first sight. She was beautiful and could work a laser blaster as well as anyone in the galaxy. I was in love with Princess Leia but I didn’t end up marrying her. On Sunday nights, I always make out an early cash game lineup that is based on finding the best balance of players without doing extensive research. Typically, I love my first lineup that I create but don’t end up using it completely in my cash games (which I won at a 60% clip last year, btw, #humblebrag). Here is my early lineup that I probably won’t end up marrying:
QB: Tyrod Taylor ($6,200) – He was the QB for my season-long fantasy championship team last year so I am partial to him. Tyrod also doesn’t need good receivers to score points. He can get things done with his feet. Tyrod earned 25.3 DK pts in week-2 last year against the Jets. New York isn’t much better this year. Overall, Tyrod averaged 18.8 DK pts last year.
RB: Le’Veon Bell ($9,800) – Really?!?
RB: David Johnson ($9,400) – Seriously?!?
WR: Jarvis Landry ($5,400) – He is a cash game staple for me because he is a target monster, though there are some questions about his role with new QB Jay Cutler. He had double-digit targets in his first four games last season.
WR: Cameron Meredith ($5,000) – Averaged nearly 22 DK pts in his last four games of last season. Projected to be the top receiver for the Bears this year against a suspect Atlanta defense.
WR: Robby Anderson ($3,800) – He is a preseason stud but this is the regular season. But, this is also a Jets team that got rid of their top three receivers from last year. They have to throw to somebody, right? He averaged 8 targets per game in the last five games of last season.
TE: Zach Miller ($2,800) – I usually start at the bottom of the Tight End salaries and work my way up until I find a TE that I can stomach. Before his early November injury, Miller was averaging 12.0 DK pts. He is solid and goes against a suspect defense in Atlanta at home.
FLEX: Jacquizz Rodgers ($4,900) – I typically play a RB in the flex because you can most accurately predict their touches (carries). It’s the Quiz Show all day long. In the five games that he was the featured back last year, he averaged 21 carriers and 2 receptions per game. Miami doesn’t have a great defense.
DST: Green Bay Packers ($2,500) – They scored 19 DK pts against Seattle last year. The Packers are not necessarily a good defense but they have the upside to create turnovers and get pressure on the QB. Scoring real-life points doesn’t matter as much getting sacks and creating turnovers. They are cheap with upside. I like to pay down at DST.