Last week didn’t go quite as planned when it came to my NFL DFS picks. I did have some hits, though, as Blake Bortles, Christian McCaffrey, Antonio Brown and David Johnson were all good to great. Vance McDonald, Chad Williams and Aaron Jones were big misses, however, while Julio Jones yet again failed to deliver.
I’m giving Jones one last chance. He is in an amazing spot at home this week and I won’t be able to take it if he wrecks and I’m off of him. That’s not the only reason I’m suggesting him for daily fantasy football lineups going into week six, though.
With that, let’s take a look at my favorite lineup for FanDuel GPPs:
QB: Jameis Winston – Tampa Bay Buccaneers ($7.5k)
There are some solid quarterbacks up top this week, but the very best options are on bye or simply not on this slate. Matt Ryan, Ben Roethlisberger and Cam Newton are worth using, but what if I can save about $1k and get the same production, if not better?
Nobody likes Jameis Winston as a human being, but he can still put up big numbers and he has a lot going for him here. Not only can Tampa’s speed kill in a dome, but the Falcons remain banged up on defense and have had major issues (29th vs. QBs, 28th vs. WRs) against the pass.
Winston got his lumps out of the way against the Bears two weeks ago and will get to hit the reset button out of a bye. He’s also a good price and as a better talent than teammate Ryan Fitzpatrick, boasts enticing upside considering he gets to go to work with the same explosive weapons.
Oh, and he’s demolished the Falcons in his career. Check his last three games against Atlanta:
- 299 yards, 3 TDs
- 261 yards, 3 TDs
- 281 yards, 4 TDs
History doesn’t tell us everything, but add up all I’ve said with this game’s Total (57.5!) and I find it very hard to believe Winston won’t be pretty darn good this week. I’m sure I’m not alone in that thought and that could make him chalky, but sometimes eating the chalk is the right call.
Alternatives: Matt Ryan – Falcons ($8.3k), Andy Dalton – Bengals ($7.4k)
RB: Christian McCaffrey – Carolina Panthers ($8.4k)
I love Todd Gurley and Melvin Gordon. I said that last week and I’ll say it again. However, much like last week, I see value at running back and I’m not afraid to chase it. C-Mac offers a solid $1.1k discount off of Gurley and while he doesn’t have the same upside, he has an underrated matchup on the road against the Redskins.
McCaffrey feels like a great play simply based on his role. He’s on the field at all times and he is pretty independent in terms of game script. If the Panthers are up, he’ll run the ball and hopefully mash in a score or two. If they’re down, he’ll rack up catches and pile on the yardage and hopefully score in their goal-line packages.
Washington has a good run defense in theory, but their numbers appear to be a bit bloated and Mark Ingram scored on them twice last week. We’ve seen the upside McCaffrey offers (184 rushing yards two weeks ago) and he’s chipped in 17+ fantasy points in each of his last three games. Make it four.
RB: Ezekiel Elliott – Dallas Cowboys ($8.1k)
Give me some Zeke, too. Both Elliott and McCaffrey have would-be difficult matchups, but I think they’ve established the matchup shouldn’t dictate how you use them. They both have massive roles, fantastic upside and are reasonably priced compared to the top two studs on the board.
You’re saving $1.1k to pivot from Gurley to McCaffrey and $700 to drop from Melvin Gordon to Zeke. You’re losing some points, to be sure, but both of these guys are fully capable of matching/besting their running back counterparts and you save cash to spend elsewhere in the process.
Elliott is a threat for 100+ total yards and 1-2 scores in any given week and he’s historically done some of his best work at home (28 fantasy points per game at home compared to 17 per game away this year alone). The best part is you’re getting two studs (saving $1.8k in cash) and you just might get them both at reasonably low ownership.
Alternatives: Todd Gurley – Rams ($9.5k), Melvin Gordon – Chargers ($8.8k), Bilal Powell – Jets ($5.8k), Dalvin Cook – Vikings ($6.3k)
WR: Julio Jones – Atlanta Falcons ($8.5k)
Jones has been the bane of my 2018 NFL DFS existence, but that all ends this week. It has to. This dude is an out of this world talent with a huge role and he’s got a stable quarterback throwing him passes. Yet, he hasn’t score a single touchdown in 2018.
Matt Ryan can’t seem to connect with him, but a showdown with the Buccaneers (31st against wide receivers, 3rd most catching TDs allowed) has to rectify that. Jones has also specifically tormented this defense, while a look back just at 2017 (309 yards and 2 TDs in two games) should tell you all you need to know.
Calvin Ridley could again siphon Julio’s scores, but this drought can’t keep going. Jones is worth paying up for in a likely shootout and I have to take that chance one more time.
Alternatives: Adam Thielen – Vikings ($8.6k), A.J. Green – Cincinnati Bengals ($8.8k)
WR: Tyler Boyd – Cincinnati Bengals ($6.3k)
A.J. Green looks like an amazing pivot play off of Jones on the surface, but with Joe Haden likely shadowing him all game, that might not end up being the case. I’m not saying you can’t use Green, but why force him into your lineups when Jones is in arguably a better spot and teammate Tyler Boyd is $2.5k cheaper?
Boyd has the same fun matchup against a Steelers defense that is getting torched (30th against wide receivers) through the air, while we saw this exact situation play out last week with Mohamed Sanu – not Julio Jones or Calvin Ridley – scoring for the Falcons.
John Ross is banged up, Tyler Eifert is on injured reserve and Green could be blanketed. Take a shot on Boyd and see if he can’t pay off.
Alternatives: Doug Baldwin – Seahawks ($6.2k)
WR: DeSean Jackson – Tampa Bay Buccaneers ($6.5k)
I honestly prefer Mike Evans ($8k) here over D-Jax, but I don’t have the cash. If you can get there, Evans has the better connection with Winston and is probably the better overall play.
I don’t mind Jackson at all, however. For all the reasons I’m into Winston this week, I love his receiving weapons and as you know, few can spring a big play and pay off quicker and easier than Jackson.
The chemistry with Winston wasn’t great in 2017, but the two did still hook up for three scores and Jackson is crushing this year with three 100+ yard outings already. Atlanta is tied for the most touchdowns allowed to pass-catchers in 2018 and this game has an insane Total. If it ends up living up to the hype, you’re going to want a hand in it.
TE: Cameron Brate – Tampa Bay Buccaneers ($4.5k)
I hate the tight end position this week. Eric Ebron leads the way as the most expensive option, but I would much prefer spending my cash elsewhere. There are not true stud tight ends on the main slate at FanDuel, so I’m either rolling out Cameron Brate or considering a full punt.
The news of O.J. Howard practicing this week really curbs Brate’s upside, while it’s not like the Falcons (8th vs. TEs) were the cakewalk matchup everyone wanted them to be. This game is still projected to be a shootout, though, so the odds are good the Bucs will be throwing the ball a lot.
Even if Howard is in action, I’m sticking with Brate. I don’t need him to get 10 targets or 100 yards. He just needs to do what he does best and score a touchdown or two. He has great chemistry with Winston and has hauled in 17 scores from him in his career. He’s also on fire in that department, scoring in each of his last two contests.
I actually like that Howard is possibly back this week. The Brate ownership should take a big hit. There could be risk here, but TE is so bad I don’t really care.
Alternatives: Eric Ebron – Colts ($6.5k), Jeff Heuerman – Broncos ($4.4k)
Update (9:18 am, 10/14): O.J. Howard is expected to play, which really hurts Brate’s reliability and upside. He’s still an interesting GPP dart in a shootout, especially since Howard could always be limited or hurt himself further. I’ll probably be fading him, however. In his stead, I’m still looking to go cheap at tight and and that includes guys like Erik Swoope (Eric Ebron banged up and Colts use a lot of 2TE set either way), David Njoku and Ricky Seals-Jones.
FLEX: Tevin Coleman – Atlanta Falcons ($6.3k)
Devonta Freeman is out this week, so Coleman is looking at a big role in a shootout at home. Tampa Bay has not given up much production to fantasy running backs in terms of yardage, but running backs have still totaled six scores and have racked up the fifth most receiving yards against the Bucs.
Coleman is a featured asset for ATL, as he’ll see the bulk of the early down and goal-line work and should also be used as a receiver. Should the Falcons be nursing a lead at some point, he holds more value to close this one out. He’s also extremely explosive, so the idea of a cheap and low-owned Coleman in this spot is very appealing.
The low-owned part is key here. Coleman is a great price, but at first glance his matchup is not that amazing and most people will focus on the passing weapons in this game. I tend to think just about everyone in this game has a shot at succeeding and I really don’t mind eating the chalk left and right.
Alternatives: Doug Baldwin – Seahawks ($6.2k)
DEF: Baltimore Ravens ($4k)
Miami is sneaky this week at $3.5k as they welcome in a potentially rusty Bears defense. The Dolphins are just too hard to trust and I’d much rather target a dominant Bears defense ($4.5k) in that game. Baltimore feels just as good and are $500 cheaper and they try to coral a very weak Tennessee offense this week.
Alternatives: Bears ($4.5k), Dolphins ($3.5k)
Update: I still love the Ravens, but if you can get to Chicago’s defense, I’d suggest doing so. The Bears were a suggested pivot of mine already, but with word that it could be Brock Osweiler and not Ryan Tannehill starting for Miami this week, the Bears look extremely enticing. They should garner heavy ownership, however, so if you’re looking for a strong but lower owned defense, maybe stick with Baltimore.
I’m eating the chalk this week. This Falcons/Buccaneers game figures to be lit and I want big time exposure to it. If it’s a dud, I’m admittedly in serious trouble. However, sometimes you really just need to nail that one main game stack and the rest can be gravy.
The somewhat contrarian moves with this team are paying down from the top two studs at running back. I don’t think those guys will be super low-owned, but they could be contrarian enough to gain an edge. I’d probably also need one/both of Gurley/Gordon to under-perform, but that’s out of my hands.
Boyd, D-Jax and Brate could be chalky, but there’s logic that they won’t be. The same goes for Tevin Coleman and even Winston. Despite his disappointing production, I am betting Julio will be highly owned. The Ravens should also garner some solid ownership.
I think there’s enough differentiating that if this game stack hits, though, I could be in business.
If you want to gain further leverage, a great lineup pivot could be to drop from the Ravens to the Dolphins, pivot to Heuerman at tight end and get off Julio and use Doug Baldwin. That frees up cash to upgrade over Tevin to Melvin Gordon. If you can shave off a few more bucks, you can get Gurley.
There are a lot of ways to slice things up this week, but I love this lineup. Use it as it stands, consider my alternative picks or just mix and match. Whatever you do, I wish you luck this week. Enjoy the games!