Boy, the early games were rife with numbers for me, with Aaron Rodgers, Jordy Nelson, and Jarvis Landry rocking the point world, and moving me up among the top teams. Unfortunately, the Steelers defense (-1) were destroyed by the Eagles.
Apparently Michael Beller saw no such attractions in Fout Wars, where the Touts stage a weekly DFS on DraftKings. Beller's squad went big with Ryan Tannehill (24.96), Christine Michael (28.1), and David Johnson (26.1), who helped contribute to a 167.36 week that gave the S.I. writer top honors in a week where the bulk of teams performed well. Jeff Erickson (160.46), riding big days from Landry and Johnson, but also Michael Crabtree (21.2) and DeMarco Murray (29.5) while third place this week went to Brian Walton (156.2) who exploited Rodgers and Landry, but then got great days from Charles Sims (24.4) and Mike Evans (32.2)
To show how things have tightened, though, my squad, which finished tenth, with 143 points. Oh what a difference a pick six by the Steelers would have made. But, sometimes grass don't grow, and sometimes the wind don't blow.
You can check out the entire league Scoreboard here: Fout Wars Google Doc.
So, who am I looking at for Week 4? Let's look.
Christine Michael (RB, Seahawks): Considering the roundabout manner in which Michael even got a start last week, let alone took advantage of the opportunity, we just have to take a look at the RB who bagged a pair of scores, a pair of catches, and 106 yards. Michael has to move ahead of Thomas Rawls on the depth chart, at least for the coming week, and if you have an RB void.
Tevin Coleman (RB, Falcons): Coleman, paired with Devonta Freeman remind me of the old Raiders who had Napoleon Kaufmann grabbing the yards and Zach Crockett scoring the TDs. Not thinking of Coleman as a potential weekly producer like Michael can be, but he could be a fun bye play and DFS bargain, meaning track the guy and his match-ups.
Everson Griffen (DE, Vikings): Griffen was dynamite, sacking Cam Newton three times while bagging three tackles for losses, and leading what looks to be a pretty solid defense and pass rush. If your league plays individual defense, Griffen is this week's guy.
Dorial Green-Beckham (WE, Eagles): Every week we seem to have an Eagle on the list, and Green-Beckham is in the spotlight this time. A second-round pick in 2015 Green-Beckham caught three passes last week for a modest 33 yards, but, he was in on half the team's snaps, and just looks to have an increasing role. (Do note the Eagles are on their bye week.)
Cameron Brate (TE, Bucs): The Harvard grad stepped right into the Bucs breech, and collected a pair of TD passes over the past week, giving him 11 catches for 92 yards, and making Brate another player to track and maybe stash, thinking injuries and byes.
One week of Fout-Wars, the Tout Warriors foray into serious DFS Football at DraftKings, Jeff Boggis bagged the top team honors, scoring a massive 186.26 points largely on the arms and legs of Derek Carr (25.36), Spencer Ware (35.9), Jordan Matthews (27.4) and Amari Cooper (24.7). And, even though those were the obvious big scorers for Jeff, aside from the Cardinals defense--and defense is always iffy--Marvin Jones Jr., with 12.5 points, was at the bottom of his point scoring food chain.
As it is, Ware might seem like a subtle play, but one-third of the Touts purchased the rights to the Chiefs running back, even though second place finisher Zach Steinhorn did not roster Ware. But he did milk Brandin Cooks and his 36.4 (Zach also had Carr and Jones, Jr.) to finish second with 171.86. Third placer Jeff Erickson bagged 167.1 points via Ware and Cooper, but milked Matthew Stafford for 29.1 points to take bronze if we had medals, or gave them out for third place.
As for me, I died in the 14th slot thanks in part to Keenan Allen's short day, Russell Wilson's weak day, and the Raiders defense's two-point non-existent day.
There were some plays who might be under-valued, and who look like interesting plays in the coming week:
Dak Prescott (QB, $5800): Rookie QBs dominate my list this week, not that they are any kind of a sure thing (see Jared Goff), but Prescott was cool as a cucumber, and totally in charge even though his team fell just a bit short of the Giants. Prescott used his resources well, and like all three signal callers discussed here, did not seem prone to trying to force a play a la Jay Cutler. A young QB who is willing to either eat the ball or throw it away rather than make a risky play is a good thing. Prescott goes up against long-time rival Washington, and I think he is at worst a safe play. At $5800, he is a cheap safe play.
Carson Wentz (QB, Eagles): Because Philly is playing on Monday Night, he is not part of the DraftKings schema, but Wentz's first game was just fine, with 278 yards and a couple of scores. If you need a Bye Week QB in your season-long league, look at Wentz, who goes up against the Bears this week, making him another good play and potentially under-the-radar FAAB pick-up.
Willie Snead (WR, $5800): Snead bagged 968 yards last year but still fell in most drafts to the sixth and seventh rounds. But, his 172-yard Sunday, hooking so well with Drew Brees, suggests the WR could have a great year playing off Brandin Cooks (who is $8000).
Trevor Siemian (QB, $5200): Another youngin' who handled the ball very well his first time out, Siemian threw for a modest 178 yards and one TD against a very good Panthers team. The Colts, with the second worst defense during Week 1, are up next. Nothing fancy, and not necessarily a DFS play, but like Wentz, perhaps a player to stash on your reserve list for a bye week and see how he develops.
Will Fuller (WR, $4200): Another cheap play, who should get some shots against the Chiefs this coming week, Fuller got 11 targets, caught five, and racked up 107 yards and a score last week, and at $4200, as a #3 WR, well, such a deal. Similarly, if Fuller is floating around your free agent pool for some reason (he was a first-rounder), stash the kid.
This week, $200 will buy you a 1 in 5988 shot at $150,000. Who wants some? We’re entering Week 16 and the fantasy season is just about to come to a close. The following aren’t necessarily the BEST plays, but they are options that might exceed their required salary on Fanduel.com.
Kirk Cousins ($7,000 vs. Dallas) acquitted himself well in his first start of the season, throwing for 381 yards and three touchdowns. The Cowboys secondary is beatable and they can put up points. This is very important and bears repeating because half of the battle is having a quarterback that NEEDS to score points, particularly after halftime. Philip Rivers owners experienced this pain Thursday night, when scoring wasn’t a top priority of the San Diego Chargers offense. First and foremost in offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt’s mind was milking the clock, running and keeping the ball out of Peyton Manning’s hands. Rivers completed only five passes for 77 yards in the 2nd half. He only attempted one pass in the fourth quarter that was incomplete (and wiped out by a penalty). By contrast, San Diego rushed 24 times. That translates to fantasy death for your starting QB.
Others worth a look: Jay Cutler ($8,000 at Philadelphia) and Ryan Fitzpatrick ($7,700 at Jacksonville). If Case Keenum is out and Matt Schaub ($6,500 vs. Denver) gets the nod, the frequent interception machine will likely be playing from behind and forced to throw against Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos. There’s a decent chance he will crash and burn, but if you’re looking for the cheapest possible play with upside, he has eclipsed 20 points thrice this season and has Andre Johnson as a target.
Dennis Johnson ($4,500 vs. Denver) has speed to burn and is a big play waiting to happen if the Texans can just get the rock to him in space. Ben Tate aggravated his rib injury and Johnson would be a bargain if he gets the start.
Matt Asiata ($5,800 at Cincinnati) demonstrated that merely getting touches is the most important part of the fantasy equation, finding pay dirt three times against the Eagles. Owners chasing last week’s touchdown barrage might get burned. Remember Bobby Rainey’s lackluster follow-up after he stampeded the Falcons? The Bengals defense is rather stingy on the ground (27th in fantasy points against) but if both Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart are out, Asiata will get another start at a relatively inexpensive price.
Other cheap options: Montee Ball ($5,100 at Houston), Jordan Todman ($5,800 vs. Tennessee – if Maurice Jones-Drew is inactive), Joique Bell ($6,600 vs. New York Giants), Andre Ellington ($6,000 at Seattle), Rashad Jennings ($7,500 at San Diego).
Justin Hunter ($5,000 at Jacksonville) posted over 100 yards and a touchdown both in Week 12 and again in Week 14. He violated team rules and as a result was a surprise inactive on Sunday. I love motivated, talented players with something to prove in situations like this.
Pierre Garcon ($7,300) has 154 targets on the year (3rd in the NFL), so it’s not as though Robert Griffin III has neglected him. The problem though is that in truth, this year it does seem that he ignores him most of the time on most plays. I’m not impressed with RGIII’s progressions. He so frequently fails to go through his reads. When he’s not throwing to Garcon, it’s obvious that he’s not going to throw to him. He’s been wide open for big plays more than I can count, and yet, on those particular plays it’s apparent the sophomore from Baylor has no intention of targeting Garcon. Instead, he’s going to force it to someone on the opposite side of the field, because he’s not looking anywhere else. The defense picks up on this and I have to think that it has led, in part, to his 11.9 yards per catch average (compared to 13.5 and 14.4 the last two years).
Jimmy Graham’s two catches for 25 yards reminds us that any player at any position can usually be shut down merely by the defense willing it so. Graham was double and triple teamed all night. He still remains the clear-cut number one option at tight end and will only cost $7,700 this week against the Panthers, against whom Graham caught six passes for 68 yards and two scores just two weeks ago.
Well, last week wrapped up the season for six-digit grand prizes, but if you need one last fix, Fanduel is offering a $20,000 contest for those willing to pony up a $535 entry fee. This week should prove to be a veritable mine field with eliminated teams packing it in and other teams with little or nothing to gain because they have a postseason birth and/or a playoff seed clinched. You’ll want to steer clear of players that might play one quarter or one series and then get taken out for the duration. I’m staying away from most of the 4:00 pm games as the outcome of some of the 1:00 pm matchups could put certain premier players out of commission. That means that few Broncos, Raiders, 49ers, Cardinals, Chiefs, Chargers, Rams or Seahawks will be on my rosters. The Sunday night division showdown to determine the NFC East title is the best stack on the docket.
Kyle Orton ($5,000 vs. Philadelphia) – Tony Romo’s back injury will put him on the shelf for awhile, so the Cowboys will place all of their playoff hopes at Kyle Orton’s feet. I have to assume that the Eagles will open up a big lead, forcing Orton to air it out to catch up. Is he up to the task? I don’t know. Matt Cassell was. Jay Cutler wasn’t. I’ll pay 5k to find out.
LeSean McCoy ($9,400 at Dallas) – Slim Shady has been the second most productive fantasy running back this season, the Cowboys are giving up the second most fantasy points on the ground and the Eagles will most likely be playing with a lead.
Matt Forte ($8,500 vs. Green Bay) – The Bears blinked and found themselves down three touchdowns in the 1st quarter. As a result, Matt Forte was filtered out of the game plan early. Don’t expect a repeat when Chicago heads back home to the windy city to face the Pack in a battle for the NFL North title. Matt Flynn has improved but he is no Nick Foles. Eddie Lacy aggravated his ankle injury and at this point should be considered questionable to suit up on Sunday. Even if he plays, he won’t be 100%. The Bears have the edge here. Look for Forte to bounce back with a vengeance.
Antonio Brown ($7,600 vs. Cleveland) – What can Brown do for you? In his Week 12 showdown with sometime shutdown corner Joe Haden, Big Ben connected with Brown on 6 of 10 targets for 92 yards and a touchdown. Haden left Sunday’s contest in the fourth quarter and is questionable for the season finale. The Steelers are still mathematically alive and Brown is an elite WR1 play at a thrifty price.
A.J. Green ($9,000 vs. Baltimore) – The Bengals need a victory and some help (a Patriots loss to the Bills) to secure a first-round bye, a bye they will most certainly need if they are to make any noise in the playoffs. The last time Cincinnati faced Baltimore, Dalton targeted A.J. 15 times and the 3rd year player out of Georgia hauled in eight of them for 151 yards and a score.
Andre Caldwell ($4,500 at Oakland) – The lone 4:00 pm game on my roster is a bargain with upside. We saw what his ceiling was two weeks ago when he found the end zone twice. Wes Welker will likely be sidelined one more week in order to heal up for the playoffs. No matter what happens, Caldwell isn’t going to be a player the Broncos protect. I need a cheap player here so that I can start elite options at the other positions.
Jason Witten ($5,800 vs. Philadelphia) – Kyle Orton has completed one touchdown pass in a Cowboy uniform and that was to Jason Witten. When backup quarterbacks are forced into action, tight ends are their safety valve, particularly when under pressure. Orton will have to throw a lot and Witten might end up with the most targets.
On one of my FFPC Main Event teams, I lost three elite studs in one afternoon. The onslaught commenced early on as I tuned into the Vikings/Ravens duel just in time to see Adrian Peterson writhing on the ground in pain. Awesome. Only a short time thereafter, I lost Rob Gronkowski to a torn ACL and a torn MCL. Sweet. He’s out for the season. Later on that afternoon, the good times continued to roll when Wes Welker was concussed and was forced to leave against the Titans. He is likely to miss Thursday’s bout against the Chargers. But you know what? That doesn’t really get me down. Injuries are part of the game. I’ve been through enough of them that it’s like water off a duck’s back. What really gets my goat is misinformation, and the Motor City has taken pride in disseminating it each and every time there is an opportunity. Fifteen minutes prior to kickoff, I received word that Reggie Bush may have tweaked his calf during warm-ups. Great. What is an owner competing for $250,000 to do? Based on precedent (he was benched at Heinz Field for fumbling, field conditions or a minor injury, depending on which source you believe), I decided to bench him for Justin Hunter. Three minutes before kickoff, multiple tweets were cautiously expressing optimism, stating that he ran through the tunnel with the team, had his helmet on, AND that reports from the sideline said he was going to try and play. Visions danced through my head of all the times I’d benched a player in this exact situation, only to have him blow up with his best game of the year whilst on my bench. Fantasy Football is not for the faint of heart. One click can, and often does, make the difference between winning up to a million dollars or winning nothing and pounding sand.
Obviously, you want to check weather reports. It’s a starting point. Though sometimes, weather reports are about as accurate as injury information coming from the Detroit Lions. Remember how many times they said Jahvid Best had recovered from his concussion and was 100 percent? The report from Philadelphia was winds from 5 mph to 8 mph and occasional light flurries. Instead, what I saw looked closer to a blizzard for a good 90 minutes. If you’re serious about competing in High Stakes Leagues, then DirecTV Sunday Ticket is a must. It doesn’t come on until five minutes prior to kickoff, but on their multi-game view channel, at least you can see first hand what the weather looks like just before the game commences.
If you’re looking for a stack, San Diego at Denver and Baltimore at Detroit figure to put the most fireworks on display. If Aaron Rodgers returns, add Green Bay at Dallas to that list.
Some Fanduel plays worth a look this weekend:
Running Back – Zac Stacy ($6,700) vs. St. Louis, Shane Vereen (targeted 17 times with Rob Gronkowski out) ($7,600) at Miami, Marcel Reece ($6,000) vs. Kansas City, Montee Ball ($5,300) vs. San Diego, James Starks (if Eddie Lacy is inactive) ($4,500).
Wide Receiver – Alshon Jeffery ($7,800) at Cleveland, Jordy Nelson (if Aaron Rodgers is back) ($6,300) at Dallas, Torrey Smith ($6,300) at Detroit, Cordarrelle Patterson ($5,600) vs. Philadelphia, Justin Hunter ($5,400) vs. Arizona, James Jones (if Aaron Rodgers is back) ($4,900) at Dallas, Doug Baldwin ($4,800) at New York Giants.
Tight End – Jordan Cameron ($6,300) vs. Chicago, Charles Clay ($6,100) vs. New England, Greg Olsen ($5,800) vs. New York Jets, Dennis Pitta ($5,700) vs. Baltimore, Tony Gonzalez ($5,300) vs. Washington.