Fri Oct 23 9:52am ET
By MIKE BARNER
Murray is setup for big numbers
Offense might not be hard to come by in Week 7 with seven games having an over/under of at least 50 points. That leaves us with a lot of options to wade through in DFS, so let’s get right to it and discuss some players to consider at various price points, as well as a few to possibly avoid.
Kyler Murray, ARI vs. SEA ($6,700): Murray has turned into a touchdown machine. His 10-passing touchdowns through six games might not seem great, but he also has six rushing touchdowns, which brings him to another level. He had 544 rushing yards during his rookie season and he’s set to blow past that mark with 370 rushing yards already this year. In a great matchup against a Seahawks team that has allowed the most passing yards per game in the league, Murray could thrive.
Justin Herbert, LAC vs. JAC ($5,900): If you don’t want to spend a ton at quarterback, Herbert is a great option. He’s fresh coming off of a bye and he’s thrown seven touchdown passes over his last two games. He’s faced some tough opponents in his rookie campaign with two of his four starts coming against the Bucs and Chiefs, who rank eighth and ninth in the league, respectively, in terms of fewest points allowed per game. This matchup is at the other end of the spectrum with the Jaguars allowing the eighth-most points per game and the seventh-most passing yards per contest.
Player to Avoid
Jared Goff, LAR vs CHI ($6,000): The Bears are off to a surprising 5-1 start, in large part, because of their defense. They have only allowed 19.3 points per game with the Falcons being the only team to score at least 30 points against them. They have been particularly adept at stopping the pass, allowing just four passing touchdowns all season. That’s not good news for Goff, who has also thrown an interception in three of his last four games. Considering Herbert’s salary is $100 cheaper, taking a chance on Goff seems unnecessary.
Aaron Jones, GB at HOU ($7,600): It doesn’t get much better than this for Jones. He’s already been racking up touchdowns in bunches, totaling seven of them through five games. The Texans have not only allowed eight rushing touchdowns, but they’ve also allowed the most rushing yards per game in the league. In what could be a high-scoring game between two struggling defenses, Jones could be left with a couple of opportunities to find his way into the end zone while also generating plenty of yards on the ground.
Justin Jackson, LAC vs. JAC ($5,900): The Chargers aren’t likely to get Austin Ekeler (hamstring) back anytime soon. With him sidelined, Jackson and Joshua Kelley will split the duties out of the backfield. Jackson looked like the far superior option in their last game against the Saints, finishing with 94 total yards on 15 carries and six targets. Meanwhile, Kelley only had 38 total yards on 11 carries and one target. Jackson’s ability to be a dual threat makes him an extremely appealing option at such a reduced salary.
Player to Avoid
Josh Jacobs, LV vs. TB ($7,300): This was already slated to be a tough matchup for Jacobs with the Bucs allowing fewest rushing yards per game. To further complicate matters, it’s unclear how many of the Raiders’ starting offensive lineman will be available for this game after Trent Brown was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Even if Brown is the only one that can’t play, his absence alone would still be huge. Given that their salaries are so similar, it doesn’t make much sense to roll with Jacobs over Jones.
Kenny Golladay, DET at ATL ($7,500): Targeting the Falcons’ defense is usually a sound strategy. They have allowed 30.7 points per game and the second-most passing yards per contest. On top of that, they have allowed 18 touchdown passes. That could all add up to a huge afternoon from Golladay, who has 224 yards and two touchdowns in only three games. It should also help his cause that the Lions’ defense has also played poorly, which could make this game a shootout.
Mike Williams, LAC vs. JAC ($5,500): As far as players who are available at a cheap salary, few are as appealing as Williams, regardless of their position. He’s coming off of his best performance of the season, torching the Saints for 109 yards and two touchdowns Week 5. Talent has never been a question with him, but his inability to stay healthy has been a problem. Now fresh coming off of a bye, Williams could feast here.
Player to Avoid
JuJu Smith-Schuster, PIT at TEN ($7,100): For those who play in season-long fantasy leagues, Smith-Schuster has been one of the biggest disappointments at wide receiver. After posting 69 yards and two touchdowns in Week 1, he has 125 yards and one touchdown over his last four games combined. Just as concerning is that he’s received five or fewer targets three straight contests. With Diontae Johnson (back) expected to make his return and Chase Claypool playing extremely well, targets may continue to be hard to come by for Smith-Schuster.
Hunter Henry, LAC vs. JAC ($5,200): A Charger at every position? It’s not all that crazy given the matchup and their salaries. Much like Williams, the only question surrounding Henry has been his ability, or lack thereof, to stay healthy. That hasn’t been a problem for him so far this year, which has enabled him to receive 35 targets across five games. He is also second on the team in red zone targets behind only Keenan Allen.
Logan Thomas, WAS vs. DAL ($4,600): As much as I like Henry, going with Thomas at an even cheaper salary might be a good way to load up at other spots while still receiving intriguing upside from the tight end spot. The Cowboys have allowed 36.3 points per game, so Washington might be more productive than we are used to seeing. Like Henry, Thomas is also a popular red-zone target considering he leads Washington with six of them this season.
Player to Avoid
Tyler Higbee, LAR vs. CHI ($5,100): This is an easy pass. As previously discussed, the Bears have thrived at keeping opposing pass catchers out of the end zone. Higbee scored three touchdowns against the Eagles in Week 2, but he hasn’t scored in any of his other five games. He’s also seen his opportunities to catch passes dwindle, in general, leaving him with four or fewer targets in each of his last four contests.
Mike Barner has been covering fantasy sports since 2007. His work has appeared in Sports Illustrated, Yahoo, SportsLine and RotoWire. Mike was also a finalist for the 2018 FSWA Basketball Writer of the Year award. Follow Mike on Twitter @rotomikebarner.
Five Hot Plays: Week 12
Denver Broncos rookie wide receiver K.J. Hamler has 26 targets in the last three games, which he has turned into 14 catches for 160 yards. Hamler has seen his role increase in the last three weeks, but he has only one touchdown in his rookie season and 25 receptions for 275 yards in eight total games. The 21-year-old from Penn State has seen more production out of the slot and has big-play upside, but Denver is using him as more of a chain-mover than a deep threat. In this inconsistent offense as the third wideout behind rookie Jerry Jeudy and Tim Patrick, it's hard to put much faith in Hamler in single-year fantasy leagues. He'll be a WR4/flex in deeper leagues against New Orleans this Sunday.
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald has tested positive for COVID-19 and will miss Week 12 against the Patriots, according to sources. It's a bad time for this to happen, since Fitzgerald had at least 54 yards in three of his last four games and led the Cardinals with 10 targets in Week 11's loss to the Seahawks. DeAndre Hopkins will still have a tough test against All-Pro cornerback Stephon Gilmore on Sunday, but Fitz's absence should open up more targets for Christian Kirk, Andy Isabella and others. Kirk should see the biggest boost from Fitzgerald's absence against a Patriots Defense that hasn't been nearly as strong as in years past. Kirk will have WR2 upside this weekend.
Denver Broncos wide receiver Tim Patrick had his third 100-yard game of the season in last week's win over the Dolphins, and he's been incredibly efficient considering quarterback Drew Lock's struggles in his first full season as the starter. The Saints Defense, Denver's Week 12 opponent, has been more vulnerable through the air than on the ground this year, but their overall defense ranks third in the league. The Broncos should be forced to pass more than they'd like in this one, which is good news for Patrick and the Denver wideouts. The 27-year-old has impressed in 2020, but he's still more of a WR4/flex in this inconsistent offense while going up against strong cornerbacks Janoris Jenkins and Marshon Lattimore.
Denver Broncos running back Phillip Lindsay and the team's running game showed some much-needed life in the surprising Week 11 win over the Dolphins. Lindsay saw 16 carries (one more than teammate Melvin Gordon) and ran for 82 yards. In Week 10, he had just four rushing attempts for a measly two yards against the Raiders. The 26-year-old is still averaging a healthy 5.4 yards per carry on 73 attempts this year, but he's splitting the offensive snaps nearly evenly with Gordon, limiting his opportunities. And on top of it, he's facing a Saints Defense on Sunday that has been the stingiest against RBs in fantasy all year. Considering that the Broncos will likely be trailing in this one and that Lindsay has just eight targets (two catches) all year, he's an uninspiring RB4 that should be left on benches in 12-team leagues.
Denver Broncos running back Melvin Gordon III got back into the good graces of his fantasy managers in Week 11 by rushing 15 times for 84 yards and two touchdowns in the win over the Dolphins. But those expecting back-to-back solid performances in fantasy might be disappointed. He'll be facing a Saints Defense that has allowed the fewest fantasy points per game to opposing running backs in 2020. On top of that, Gordon saw just 50 percent of the offensive snaps last week, meaning that he'll have to continue to capitalize on his opportunities against a much stouter run defense in New Orleans. Gordon does contribute more through the air, but the Saints have allowed a league-low five total TDs to RBs this year. Gordon's ceiling should be lowered this week as more of an RB3/flex.
The Detroit Lions have declared WR Kenny Golladay, DE Austin Bryant, CB Jeff Okudah, RB D'Andre Swift, DE Da'Shawn Hand, CB Mike Ford and WR Danny Amendola inactive for Week 12.
Detroit Lions rookie running back D'Andre Swift (concussion) has officially been ruled out for Thursday's Thanksgiving game against the Texans. It'll be the rookie's second straight missed game and will leave Detroit's backfield to veteran Adrian Peterson and Kerryon Johnson. Peterson started last week against the Panthers and then split touches with Johnson. They weren't effective at all in the shutout loss, though, with Detroit rushing for 40 yards total in the game. Houston's defense has allowed the second-most fantasy points per game to running backs, so the duo should be more effective, but they are both low-ceiling RB4/flex plays in deeper leagues while they share the workload minus Swift.
Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores said he's not worried about the injury that rookie quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (hand) suffered in practice on Wednesday. "He got banged up a little bit. He's a tough kid. He's going to do everything he can from a treatment standpoint. We'll see. I don't think this is something we're too worried about. ... He's better today. We'll see how it goes," Flores said. Tagovailoa was benched late in the Week 11 loss to the Broncos and hasn't attempted more than 28 passes in his four starts yet. He also hasn't thrown for 250 yards and hasn't thrown for more than two touchdowns. The rookie from Alabama remains the starter and has an excellent matchup with the winless Jets this Sunday, but he should still be considered a low-end QB2 until we see more.
Washington Football Team head coach Ron Rivera and his staff want quarterback Alex Smith back for the 2021 season, according to sources. Smith made an incredible comeback from a broken fibula and tibia and 17 surgeries due to an infection that left him barely able to walk. The veteran QB hasn't said whether he wants to play next season, but he is under contract through 2022. He's set to make $19 million next year as a bridge to Dwayne Haskins Jr., Kyle Allen or someone else acquired in a trade or through the draft. Smith has gone 55-for-80 for 556 yards, a touchdown and an interception in the last two games. Smith should win Comeback Player of the Year easily, but he remains a low-end QB2 for fantasy purposes, even against Dallas' suspect defense on Thanksgiving Day.
Detroit Lions rookie running back D'Andre Swift (concussion), who was listed as questionable for the Thanksgiving game on Thursday against the Texans, is unlikely to play, according to sources. Swift is set to miss his second straight game with the head injury. Fantasy managers need to remove Swift from their starting lineups for the early Thursday game. Veteran Adrian Peterson started in the backfield last week with Swift out and then split carries with Kerryon Johnson. Peterson is probably the better back of the two for fantasy purposes against, but the Texans Defense has allowed the second-fewest fantasy points per game to opposing running backs. Peterson and Johnson should be considered RB4/flex options with a low ceiling in deeper leagues.
Washington Football Team wide receiver Terry McLaurin (ankle) and kicker Dustin Hopkins (groin) are expected to play on Thursday in the Thanksgiving game against the division-rival Cowboys. McLaurin was listed as questionable but practiced in full on Wednesday. Hopkins didn't practice all week, but the team didn't elevate a kicker from the practice squad, indicating that he'll go. McLaurin is the team's leading receiver with 62 catches for 871 yards and three touchdowns and has become a must-start WR1. He put up seven catches for 90 yards in a score against Dallas back in Week 7. Hopkins is off the fantasy radar, however, especially playing through an injury. The 30-year-old made his first field goal beyond 50 yards this season in Week 11.
Washington Football Team PK Dustin Hopkins (groin) is likely to play Thursday, Nov. 26, after the team didn't elevate another kicker
Fantasy Spin: Hopkins is a low-end option, but he's not the safest one with a groin injury that he could aggravate during the game.
Cincinnati Bengals running back Giovani Bernard missed Wednesday's practice with a concussion, according to the team's official injury report. The head injury wasn't reported during last Sunday's game against the Washington Football Team, although Samaje Perine, not Bernard, was on the field for the team's final two drives of the contest. If Bernard can't get cleared from the league's concussion protocol by Sunday, expect Perine to be Cincinnati's lead back with Trayveon Williams mixed in behind him. Perine can be treated as an RB3 in a good matchup against the New York Giants if Bernard sits.
New York Jets TE Chris Herndon (back) is dealing with tightness in his back, according to head coach Adam Gase, who indicated the team was being 'cautious' with the injury.
Chicago Bears QB Nick Foles (hip) is 'day to day' with his hip injury, according to head coach Matt Nagy.
Fantasy Spin: Nagy went on to praise Trubisky, who could get the call Sunday night. No matter who starts they shouldn't be in your fantasy lineup.
San Francisco 49ers CB K'Waun Williams had his two-game suspension for violation of the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing substances rescinded on Wednesday, Nov. 25. The suspension for Williams was originally announced on Tuesday, Nov. 24.
San Francisco 49ers RB Raheem Mostert (ankle) is still considered day to day, head coach Kyle Shanahan said Wednesday, Nov. 25. He remains on the Reserve/Injured list, and the team has 21 days to activate him.
Fantasy Spin: Mostert should be able to step right back into a workhorse role when he is officially activated and able to see game action, as Tevin Coleman, Jerick McKinnon and Austin Walter, among others, have done little to nothing in Mostert's stead. Fantasy owners will likely want to see him make it through a full game without setbacks before plugging him back into the active lineup.
Minnesota Vikings WR Adam Thielen (illness) remains on the Reserve/COVID-19 list, and head coach Mike Zimmer said Wednesday, Nov. 25, that the team will 'wait and see' if Thielen is available for the Week 12 game against the Carolina Panthers.
Fantasy Spin: Fantasy owners are hopeful Thielen will be available, but obviously should be moving to have alternate plans in place. He has 12 grabs for 156 yards and four touchdowns over the past two games on 18 targets, so he is an obvious must-start fantasy option when he is well.
Los Angeles Rams TE Tyler Higbee (elbow) banged up his elbow during the Week 11 game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, which is why he did not practice Wednesday, Nov. 25. Head coach Sean McVay said the tight end is considered 'day-to-day'.
Fantasy Spin: Higbee entered the season with high expectations from a fantasy perspective, but he has really only one impressive game while mostly being equaled or outplayed by Gerald Everett. At this point Higbee is only worth retaining in the deepest of fantasy leagues heading into Week 12 and beyond.
The Atlanta Falcons Defense should stay benched this week when the Las Vegas Raiders come to town. Las Vegas has a capable QB in Derek Carr, along with solid weapons such as Josh Jacobs, Darren Waller, and Nelson Agholor. Meanwhile, Atlanta has allowed at least 20 points in nine of 10 games. The unit has also dealt with injuries throughout the season and that has hindered its overall strength. There are better options to start this week.