RealTime DFS Strategy: Week 10

Fri Nov 8 1:21pm ET
By MIKE BARNER
Contributing Writer

Brees is a top DFS target


We have a tricky slate of DFS ahead of us for Week 10 with six teams on a bye. With the Texans, Patriots and Eagles among the teams who won’t play, we will be missing several of the top options at various positions. With that being said, that doesn’t mean you can’t still come out of it a winner. Here are some players to consider at various price points, as well as some to avoid, while creating your entry.

QUARTERBACKS

Top-tier option: Drew Brees, NO vs. ATL ($6,500): Brees wasted no time making an impact in his return from a thumb injury, completing 34-of-43 passes for 373 yards and three touchdowns in Week 8 against the Cardinals. The only other full game that he played this season came against the Texans in Week 1 when he threw for 370 yards and two touchdowns. Those are two teams who have struggled to defend the pass, which has certainly helped Brees’ cause. He’ll get another great matchup out of the bye with the Falcons tied for the third-most touchdown passes allowed (19) in the league.

Cheap target: Daniel Jones, NYG at NYJ ($6,000): We saw the good side of Jones in Week 8 when he torched the Lions for 322 yards and four touchdowns. However, turnovers have mostly been a problem since he took over for Eli Manning. He again struggled in that department against the Cowboys last week, fumbling twice and throwing an interception to go along with only one touchdown. Rookie quarterbacks can be inconsistent like that, so Jones is no sure-fire option in DFS. However, facing a Jets team that just allowed three touchdown passes to Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Dolphins last week is awfully enticing.

Player to avoid: Baker Mayfield, CLE vs. BUF ($5,700): The Browns have lost four straight games and enter this contest as one of the more disappointing teams in the league at 2-6. Mayfield isn’t the only reason for their struggles, but it hasn’t helped that he hasn’t thrown for more than one touchdown in a game all season. Facing a Bills team that has allowed the third-fewest passing yards per game likely won’t help matters.

RUNNING BACKS

Top-tier option: Christian McCaffrey, CAR at GB ($8,600): At this point, the only reason not to deploy McCaffrey in your lineup is if you’re looking to be a contrarian in tournament play. He had another monster game last week against the Titans, rushing 24 times for 146 yards and two touchdowns. He already has 13 total touchdowns this season to go along with 881 rushing yards and 363 receiving yards. The Packers have allowed the ninth-most rushing yards per game and are tied for the third-most rushing touchdowns allowed. Buckle up and enjoy the ride. 

Cheap target: David Montgomery, CHI vs. DET ($6,000): The Bears have finally unleashed their promising rookie, giving him 41 carries and nine targets over their last two games. He’s rewarded their faith in him with 223 total yards and three touchdowns. With Mitchell Trubisky struggling, the Bears would be wise to keep feeding Montgomery, especially considering the Lions have allowed the sixth-most rushing yards per game.

Player to avoid: Joe Mixon, CIN vs. BAL ($5,800): The Bengals are shaping up to be the worst team in the league with their offensive line being one of their many weaknesses. They haven’t opened many holes for Mixon, who has only 320 yards on 101 carries. While he does have three receiving touchdowns, he is still looking for his first rushing score of the season. The last time he faced the Ravens, they held him to 10 yards on eight carries. Considering they have allowed the second-fewest rushing yards per game, overall, things are once again looking bleak for Mixon.

WIDE RECEIVERS

Top-tier option: Michael Thomas, NO vs. ATL ($8,000): A Brees/Thomas stack will eat up a significant portion of your budget, but it will be difficult to resist in cash contests. Even with Brees sidelined for most of the season, Thomas has 73 receptions for 875 yards. His volume has been off the charts with at least 11 targets in six of his eight games. Don’t expect the Falcons to be the team that slows him down.

Cheap target: Christian Kirk, ARI at TB ($5,000): Kirk might be one of my favorite cheap targets at any position. Throw his two catch, eight-yard performance last week out the window. He was facing the 49ers, who have one of the best defenses in the league. Now he’ll take on the Bucs, a team that has allowed the second-most passing yards per game. The Cardinals have shown a propensity for wanting to get the ball in Kirk’s hands, giving him at least eight targets in four of the six games he has played.

Player to avoid: D.K. Metcalf, SEA at SF ($6,200): Metcalf is coming off the best performance of his young career after catching six passes for 123 yards and a touchdown versus the Bucs last week. While Kirk might benefit from that matchup in Week 10, Metcalf has to face the same 49ers team that shut down Kirk and the Cardinals’ offense. Add in Metcalf’s rising price tag and this might not be the week to add him to your entry.

TIGHT ENDS

Top-tier option: Austin Hooper, ATL at NO ($6,100): It looks like we are finally experiencing the Hooper breakout campaign that many of us have been yearning for. Last season was the most productive of his career, but he’s on pace to blow past those numbers with 52 catches and 591 yards through eight games. He’s already hauled in five touchdowns, which is one more than all of last season. In a position that has a lot of volatile options, Hooper’s consistency is extremely appealing.

Cheap target: Mike Gesicki, MIA at IND ($3,300): If you want to spend elsewhere, taking a chance on Gesicki isn’t that crazy of an idea. He is coming off of his best performance of the season, catching all six of his targets for 95 yards against the Jets in Week 9. The Dolphins lost one of their top wide receivers in Preston Williams (knee) during that game, who has since been placed on IR. With the potential for an expanded role in the offense moving forward, Gesicki is at least an option in tournament play.

Player to avoid: Jimmy Graham, GB vs. CAR ($4,500): There’s not a lot to see here with Graham. While he’s had an impressive career, he’s a shell of the player that he once was. He’s posted 20 or fewer receiving yards in three of his last four games and has caught more than four passes in a game only one time all season. I’d argue that Gesicki has similar upside, so I can’t justify spending the extra $1,200 for Graham.

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.

Player Notes
Deshaun Watson Jun 6 12:50pm ET

Pro Football Focus rates Houston Texans left tackle Laremy Tunsil as the third-highest tackle in pass blocking among those with a minimum of 300 snaps, having only allowed 29 pressures in 656 pass-protection snaps, including the playoffs. His individual impact in both pass and run snaps combined for the highest win-contribution metric among left tackles by a slim margin. Houston's offensive-line production went from right near the bottom in 2018 to 19th overall last season with the help of Tunsil on the left side. The 25-year-old became the highest-paid left tackle in the league this offseason as a result. The franchise left tackle is tasked with protecting the franchise QB in Deshaun Watson long term.

From RotoBaller

George Kittle Jun 6 12:20pm ET

San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle led the league in receiving yards per route run in 2019 with 3.3, among those that ran a minimum of 100 routes, per Next Gen Stats. He recorded 75.2 receiving yards per game over 14 games, which was the second-highest rate among qualified tight ends, and the fourth-best catch percentage (79.4). But while Kittle is one of the best receiving tight ends in the game, he's also one of the best blocking tight ends in the NFL. The 26-year-old has 2,430 yards and 10 touchdowns in the last two seasons, and he played injured for most of the 2019 campaign. With better health an improved receiving corps around him in 2020, it's scary to think that Kittle could do even more damage. Kittle is in consideration as the top fantasy tight end alongside Travis Kelce.

From RotoBaller

DeAndre Hopkins Jun 6 12:10pm ET

Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins was NFL Network's Cynthia Frelund's highest-rated on- and off-ball receiver in 2019. He ranked third in receiving first downs with 68 (behind just Michael Thomas and Julio Jones). Half of those first downs came on second down (30), and 19 of them were earned on second-and-seven-plus yards, which was the most in the NFL. Hopkins moved from Houston to Arizona this offseason and should be targeted like a true No. 1 wideout by Kyler Murray in the team's spread offense. Competing for targets with Larry Fitzgerald and Christian Kirk might drop Hopkins' elite ceiling just a tad, but he's still a strong WR1 candidate worth considering at the end of Round 1/beginning of Round 2.

From RotoBaller

Michael Thomas Jun 6 12:00pm ET

New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas set an NFL record with 149 catches in 2019, 91 of which netted the team a first down (most in the NFL), including nine touchdowns. Next Gen Stats shows that 97 of his catches came on short passes, which was 35 more than any other receiver. Thomas also caught 68.3 percent of his targets of 10-plus air yards, which was the best rate in the NFL among those with a minimum of 25 such targets. When Thomas wasn't targeted, he ranked third last year in his ability to attract an opponent's best and/or multiple defensive backs. The 27-year-old typically doesn't have massive weekly performances, but he sees a ton of looks from Drew Brees and is the safest receiver option you can find in fantasy. Thomas is worth considering as a top-five fantasy pick as the top wideout off the board in the first round.

From RotoBaller

Ezekiel Elliott Jun 6 7:50am ET

Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott was ranked ahead of Saquon Barkley, Miles Sanders, and Adrian Peterson in a recent Sports Illustrated poll, a list compiled with the assistance of NFL scouts, ranking the best backs in the NFC East. The former Buckeye had one of his best seasons to date in 2019 by finishing with 1,357 yards and 12 touchdowns off of 301 touches. He also added 54 catches and two additional scores while also ranking sixth in YAC. With the 24-year-old also rumored to be more involved in the team's passing attack under new head coach Mike McCarthy, his stock appears higher than ever. While he is slotted behind Barkley in most fantasy rankings, a case can be easily made for Elliott to get picked up as the No. 2 overall draft choice behind Christian McCaffrey in fantasy drafts heading into the 2020 campaign.

From RotoBaller

Christian McCaffrey Jun 5 7:40pm ET

Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey led the NFL in scrimmage yards with 2,392 last year, with the next closest player (Ezekiel Elliott) at 1,777 yards. McCaffrey played 93.4 percent of Carolina's offensive snaps, which was the highest in the league among running backs. His 1,262 scrimmage yards on first down were the most for any player by almost 200 yards -- Derrick Henry came in second at 1,098 -- and he also added nine total first-down touchdowns. McCaffrey averaged 5.0 yards per rush inside the tackles, which was second in the NFL among those with a minimum of 75 inside runs. New head coach Matt Rhule hinted that McCaffrey might not be used as much this year, but even if that's true, the running back is still head and shoulders above the competition because of his capabilities as both a runner and receiver. He should be the first overall pick in all fantasy leagues.

From RotoBaller

Derrick Henry Jun 5 7:30pm ET

Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry earned more rushing first downs on first down (31) than any other running back in the league last season. Henry also had nine rushing touchdowns on first down (second-most in the NFL) and another on a pass. His yards per rush after contact of 4.2 was the best in the league among those with a minimum of 100 rushes, including the playoffs, according to Pro Football Focus. In a run-first offense, Henry was the key cog in Tennessee's machine, helping them to an AFC Championship appearance. The 26-year-old led the league in rushing attempts (303), rushing yards (1,540), rushing TDs (16) and rushing yards per game (102.7). While Henry is an obvious RB1, his lack of involvement in the passing game can make him volatile on a weekly basis.

From RotoBaller

Lamar Jackson Jun 5 7:20pm ET

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson won the 2019 NFL MVP with a blend of exceptional skills, the right play-calling and a supporting cast that helped make the most of his attributes. The second-year quarterback threw for 11 touchdowns and zero interceptions on play-action passes last season, which was the best TD-to-interception ratio in the league, per Next Gen Stats. Jackson also had 24 touchdown passes and only two picks against the blitz, which was 10 more TD tosses against the blitz than any other QB in the league. He's only 23 years old and already set the single-season rushing record for quarterbacks as well. While it might be tough for Jackson to top his 2019 numbers, his elite dual-threat abilities put him in contention with Patrick Mahomes as fantasy's top QB.

From RotoBaller

Todd Gurley Jun 5 7:00pm ET

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan said he's done field work with running back Todd Gurley II "a handful of times" and came away "really impressed" with his new running back. The two have spent time together in recent weeks in Southern California. The Falcons are hoping Gurley, the 2017 NFL Offensive Player of the Year, can help boost a running game that ranked 30th in the league last year with 85.1 rushing yards per game. "I think he's going to be an awesome fit for us," Ryan said of Gurley. "And I'm glad we have him." Ryan's workouts have also included receivers Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley and Russell Gage, tight ends Hayden Hurst and Jaeden Graham and fullback Keith Smith. Knee issues have slowed Gurley in recent seasons, but he still remains an effective back when on the field and could bounce back to RB1 status in his new home in Atlanta.

From RotoBaller

Daniel Jones Jun 5 2:50pm ET

New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones held up quite well under pressure behind a porous offensive line in his rookie season. His numbers under pressure were comparable to Falcons QB Matt Ryan, which is incredibly impressive. Jones had an 8:6 touchdown-to-interception ratio and nearly 1,000 passing yards while under pressure in 2019. The 23-year-old from Duke also posted two of the top-10 single performances by a quarterback last year, which demonstrates the kind of upside he possesses heading into his first full season as the Giants starter under center. With an excellent offensive cast on his side, Jones has a bright NFL future, in 2020 and beyond. Draft him as a high-end QB2 with QB1 upside.

From RotoBaller

Josh Allen Jun 5 2:40pm ET

Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen was the only player on NFL.com's Nick Shook's list of top-10 QBs under pressure to have a negative completion percentage above expectation in 2019, but his passer rating under pressure (80) and TD-to-interception ratio of 5:2 land him at No. 9. He took three and a half seconds on average to get rid of the football when under pressure, something he faced 125 times while completing 87 passes. Allen's legs give him considerable fantasy upside at his position, but if he can improve his decision-making and accuracy down the field, he has realistic top-five upside in 2020. Gaining wide receiver Stefon Diggs as his new No. 1 target certainly won't hurt.

From RotoBaller

Dak Prescott Jun 5 2:30pm ET

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott completed exactly the amount of pressured passes as was expected in 2019, but he also attempted the third-most pressured passes (144) of anyone on NFL.com's Nick Shook's list of top-10 QBs under pressure. He's also one of just two passers on the list to break 1,000 passing yards under pressure. Prescott's 7:3 touchdown-to-interception ratio while under pressure looks pretty good. The young passer is tied with Philip Rivers for the fourth-most TD passes completed under pressure since 2016, with 19. He also has the highest single-season completion percentage above expectation under pressure in a single season since 2016. With or without a long-term contract extension in Dallas this summer, Prescott will likely be the third QB off the board in fantasy drafts behind Lamar Jackson and Patrick Mahomes.

From RotoBaller

Matt Ryan Jun 5 2:20pm ET

Nobody in the NFL faced more pressures last season than Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan with 216. And despite all that pressure, he still managed to post a passer rating under pressure that was more than 12 points higher than the league average of 66.2. Ryan's passer rating under pressure of 87.9 is the highest among QBs in every season combined since 2016. Only Tom Brady has thrown more touchdown passes while under pressure (30) than Ryan (27) since 2016. His 104.9 passer rating from 2016 sits third in the top-five passer ratings under pressure since 2016. Ryan also tied for the third-most TD passes thrown under pressure in a single season with nine in 2018. If Atlanta's offensive line can actually give him more time to throw, the consistent 35-year-old should have top-five QB1 upside in 2020.

From RotoBaller

Matthew Stafford Jun 5 2:00pm ET

Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford played in just eight games last season because of injury, but he remained consistent under pressure when he was on the field. His passer rating of 84.2 while under pressure and his plus-2.2 percent completion rate above expectation are impressive considering that he threw more than 30 percent of his under-pressure throws into tight windows. Stafford's combined passer rating under pressure of 83.8 is the third-best mark of any qualified quarterback since 2016, trailing just Matt Ryan and Alex Smith. The 32-year-old was on pace for a great finish in 2019 if he hadn't gotten hurt, and many expect him to pick up right where he left off in 2020. Stafford is a borderline QB1 and makes for a great fantasy backup.

From RotoBaller

Kirk Cousins Jun 5 1:50pm ET

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins has mostly been successful in the NFL when pressured. While he doesn't face as much pressure as he once did, Cousins remains a top-five QB when under duress. His passer rating (91.5) was fifth-best in 2019, his completion percentage under pressure (58.1) was fourth-best and his completion percentage above expectation (plus-3.8) was in the top five. The 31-year-old is often overshadowed by some of the league's stars at the position, but he also lost his No. 1 receiver in Stefon Diggs and his offensive coordinator in Kevin Stefanski. He could take a step back in 2020 in an offense that will lean heavily on the running game. Target Cousins as a midrange QB2 with a low ceiling.

From RotoBaller

Lamar Jackson Jun 5 1:40pm ET

Not only did Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson set a new single-season rushing record for QBs in 2019, but he also ranked No. 4 on NFL.com's Nick Shook's list of best quarterbacks under pressure. He had a touchdown-to-interception ratio under pressure of 8:3, which means almost a quarter (22 percent) of his 36 touchdown passes came while under pressure. Jackson had less than 470 passing yards under pressure while also completing 49.2 percent of his 65 pressured attempts. His dual-threat abilities as a passer and runner are what made Baltimore's offense so explosive in 2019, and will for years to come. Jackson is an explosive runner and thrives under pressure as a passer. What else do you want as the No. 1 fantasy QB?

From RotoBaller

Derek Carr Jun 5 1:30pm ET

Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr posted the third-best passer rating (103.7) while under pressure in 2019, and his completion percentage of 66.7 under pressure was the best of any qualifying signal-caller in the league last year. Carr's completion percentage above expectation of plus-5.9 had to do with the fact that he targeted open receivers at a rate of 56.9 percent, which was tops in the NFL. There are a lot of knocks on Carr as a passer and his leash might be short in 2020 with Marcus Mariota behind him, but he did find open receivers in the face of pressure last year with regularity. Not many fantasy owners will be targeting him, even as a QB2, but Carr could surprise and hold off Mariota with some new weapons that the Raiders gave him in the draft, mainly wide receiver Henry Ruggs III.

From RotoBaller

Drew Brees Jun 5 1:20pm ET

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees' 105.9 passer rating under pressure in 2019 is the second-best mark in a single season since 2016, trailing only Ryan Tannehill from last season. The future Hall of Famer found success under pressure by getting rid of the ball quickly (3.01 second on average per pressured throw) to nearby targets, averaging 9.6 air yards per pressured attempt. Brees led all quarterbacks on NFL.com's Nick Shook's list with a 41.7 percent success rate on pressured pass attempts. While the 41-year-old is still good despite his age and now has Emmanuel Sanders to lean on, he isn't taking as many deep shots as he once did. Brees' ceiling just isn't as high as it once was, making him more of a low-end QB1 in what will likely be his final season.

From RotoBaller

Daniel Jones Jun 5 1:10pm ET

New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones flashed big potential in his rookie season but was plagued by one key issue: He led the NFL with 18 fumbles. Limiting turnovers will be key if Jones is to take the next step in his development, and he has been working since the season ended with David Cutcliffe, his coach at Duke. If Jones can hold onto the ball, he has big upside for fantasy owners. He averaged 233 yards per game last season and threw 24 touchdowns in 13 games (12 starts). He is currently the 13th QB off the board but has the upside to finish as a top-10 fantasy passer with the weapons he has in New York.

From RotoBaller

Ryan Tannehill Jun 5 1:10pm ET

Although Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill didn't play a full season in 2019, NFL.com's Nick Shook has him ranked No. 1 on the list of the top-10 QBs under pressure last season. The former first-round pick had the only passer rating above 110 in the league while being pressured in the pocket among those with a minimum of 250 total pass attempts. Tannehill also did so while targeting receivers in tight windows on 23.9 percent of such attempts. He became the only qualified passer to average 10-plus yards per attempt under pressure in a season since 2016. It all helped Tannehill become the NFL Comeback Player of the Year while leading his team to the AFC Championship. Tannehill has been efficient as a passer, but the problem is that the Titans don't throw the rock enough to make him anything more than a passable fantasy backup.

From RotoBaller