In this weekly article, we’ll use the early betting lines from Vegas to take a deeper look at which games to target and avoid for NFL DFS. Implied team totals have positive correlations with fantasy output, especially for quarterbacks. Plus, we’ll highlight some potentially under the radar teams with high implied team totals despite a lower over/under. Note that these lines will probably change over the course of the week, which is why we call it ‘starting’ points.
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Kansas City at Washington, Total 55.5
When the two defenses allowing the most real points and fantasy points face off, there’s going to be interest. With only 10 games on the main slate, expect this to be a popular one to target. Even as the Chiefs got destroyed by Buffalo, Patrick Mahomes managed over 20 fantasy points, and all of Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill and Mecole Hardman were in the double digits (half-PPR). Of all the injuries in the Sunday night game, only Clyde Edwards-Helaire is projected to miss time. Darrel Williams will be a risk/reward bargain option. Hardman saw 12 targets in the game, just one fewer than Hill. For around half the salary (one third on Yahoo), expect to see more about Hardman in the bargain article this week. Assuming Kelce comes through the week without an injury designation, he’ll be the safest TE play on the main slate, though some folks will choose to save with Mark Andrews (see below). Darren Waller and Dalton Schultz have tough matchups on tap for their salary tags. Hill has been extremely boom or bust this season with two games over 31 fantasy points and three games of 11 or fewer fantasy points. I’m reserving him for tournaments only given his salary and downside.
For the Football Team, you can also consider Taylor Heinicke for your GPP lineups. He’s coming off his worst effort as the starter against New Orleans, but previously had three straight games of at least 22 fantasy points. Kansas City is currently the best fantasy matchup for QBs (Washington is second). Terry McLaurin is an obvious choice in this high scoring, pass-heavy game script game, and though not cheap, should be worth his salary in this one. DeAndre Carter is a cheap name to keep your eye on this week, considering injuries to several Football Team receivers. He saw eight targets in Week 5 and was about as effective as anyone else in the poor showing from the pass game. Ricky Seals-Jones could also be a sneaky TE option this week, but shouldn’t be trusted in cash game lineups. Antonio Gibson was the lone bright spot for Washington in Week 5, but has quietly been putting together a quality season (13th among RBs in half-PPR scoring). He’s playable in any format this weekend.
Arizona at Cleveland, Total 50.5
Cleveland is coming off an impressive loss to the Chargers in Week 5, in which their typically conservative game plan just barely didn’t pay off. Kareem Hunt and Nick Chubb combined for three touchdowns, and David Njoku was a perfect 7-for-7 with a score. It was Baker Mayfield’s best game of the season but he still only attempted 32 passes and ended with about half of Justin Herbert’s fantasy output. This game sets up a lot like last week’s with Cleveland facing a Top 5 scoring offense but I’m still shying away from Mayfield and the pass game. Give me both Hunt and Chubb in cash games – no one’s been able to stop them yet (Chubb’s 84 rushing yards in Week 3 is the low mark for either) – but let someone else trust Odell Beckham Jr. or Rashard Higgins, whose best games look like Chubb’s worst.
On the Cardinals side, Kyler Murray is now QB6 with an average of 25 fantasy points per game. He’s coming off his worst game of the season, a conservative win over San Francisco in which he threw only one TD pass. In fact, he has only three total touchdowns in his last two games, but his rushing floor is still generally enabling him to reach value. I expect a nice bounce-back from Murray this week and trust him in any lineup. The Browns have been brutal to opposing running backs this season, and it’s tough to trust either James Conner (five scores) or Chase Edmonds (23 catches) against them. As for the receivers, DeAndre Hopkins has a slight edge in targets and fantasy points over Christian Kirk, Rondale Moore, and A.J. Green, but it’s not enough to justify his far higher salary. This is a case where I’d rather go with a solo Murray. He just has too many receiving options to predict who’s going to have the big day, and frankly, since Week 1, only Moore has a 20-plus fantasy point game. It’s truly a spread offense.
LA Chargers at Baltimore, Total 50.5
Justin Herbert will enjoy more than his fair share of roster percentage this weekend coming off the 42-fantasy point win over Cleveland. As the fourth or fifth most expensive option on all sites, it’s a fair play. He’s basically tied with Murray with 25 fantasy points per game, and has had three great games in a row (12 TDs, no INTs). The Ravens have been a middle-of-the-road defense, certainly not a matchup to avoid. Not knowing the game status for Christian McCaffrey or Dalvin Cook, Austin Ekeler might be the most expensive running back option on the slate. Finally. He deserves the recognition, but if you’ve been playing him for value, that might be over. Still, you have to love him this weekend as the Ravens have given up the sixth-most fantasy points to the position this season, and Ekeler is the go-to guy for the Chargers. Mike Williams continues to out-shine Keenan Allen in the endzone (six receiving TDs) and in the big-play department (what he’s known for), but Allen is still slightly out-targeting Williams. Both guys are worth a roster spot on Yahoo, but I love Allen’s salary on DraftKings and FanDuel this weekend.
The Ravens put on a show on MNF, orchestrating a come-from-behind overtime victory vs. Indianapolis. Lamar Jackson and Marquise Brown have both been exceptional at home this season (and last year too) and in what should be another high scoring game, they should both be on your radar. I’m fine with using them both along with Mark Andrews, who gets a nice on-paper TE matchup (fifth-best for fantasy). Andrews, as noted, saves you a bunch of salary over Kelce, but remember, he has had only the one great game. With last night’s explosion, he is now fantasy’s TE2 with a league-leading 400 receiving yards among TEs. That says more about the state of the TE position than it does about Andrews’ likelihood of repeating in Week 6. Still, for the cost, he should be solid in this game. The Ravens’ running backs, on the other hand, are a quagmire best avoided. The Chargers were run on by the Browns last weekend, but there’s no reason to expect a breakout from Latavius Murray, Ty’Son Williams, or Devonta Freeman.
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Houston at Indianapolis, Total 43
I’m not going crazy with the Colts just based on this spread. Houston has given up the sixth-most points per game this season, but the fantasy matchups have not been great. In fact, they don’t rank in the Top 10 to any position except TE (where they’re first), or overall. Unless you’re Mo Alie-Cox’ biggest fan, you’re probably not keen to trust any of the Colts’ pass game. I mean no offense to Carson Wentz, who has been fine, he just is hard to get excited about in a game that shouldn't be close. Where I do see value here is in the Colt’s underperforming defense. Widely expected to be one of the best this season, they have not lived up to it. Against Davis Mills and company, they should make a statement. In fact, the turnover battle could be brutal: Indy is averaging almost two takeaways per game (nine) while Houston is turning the ball over just under twice per game (eight). Mills was ok in his first start for the Texans, and that was the Patriots' defense he faced, so he might surprise us. The Colts are generally priced for the matchup, but still a bargain compared to the Rams (on DK especially). Jonathan Taylor's salary was set prior to his 30-fantasy point game Monday night, so he'll probably find his way into several of my lineups this weekend as well.
LA Rams at NY Giants, Total 48
This one isn’t even fair. The dominant Rams and the limping Giants shouldn’t even have to play this out (at least it will be hidden in the early slot). First things first, the Rams D/ST is severely mis-priced on Yahoo ($13) and should be 100 percent rostered there in all formats. Daniel Jones is questionable, Saquon Barkley is doubtful, and every receiver except my favorite John Ross is somewhere between questionable and doubtful. It’s hard to imagine a Giants team that is already scoring at a low rate to mount any kind of offense against a Rams’ D that’s been pretty stout against everyone but Arizona.
So, is it worth paying for Matthew Stafford, Cooper Kupp, or Robert Woods? I kind of doubt it. My favorite way to approach this game is the Rams D/ST and RB correlation mini-stack. Darrell Henderson has been very consistent since missing Week 1, with 14-16 fantasy points per game. The Giants rank eighth in fantasy points allowed to RBs, giving Henderson a little bit of upside here too.