Week 6 NFL DFS Starting Points: Vegas Lines
You know that targeting the highest scoring games and particularly the teams with the highest implied totals makes sense in fantasy football. This analysis will highlight exactly which situations are the best to take advantage of and which you might want to avoid within those games. We’ll also highlight a couple games to use caution with as well as some less obvious targets. All salaries listed are for FanDuel.
The high scoring games:
Detroit at New Orleans, Total 50.5
This is the only game with a point total over 50 this week, and that means it’ll be a popular one for DFS. The stars are priced accordingly, so it will be key to navigate correctly to optimize your opportunity for fantasy points. Most interesting is the $100 price difference between Drew Brees and Matthew Stafford. Brees has been as consistent as ever, with eight touchdowns and zero interceptions through four games, and as expected, his lone 300+yard passing game came at home. He should be a solid cash game play. Stafford, on the other hand, limped around the field Sunday afternoon as the Lions ultimately lost to a red-hot Panthers team. I’ll be watching the injury news closely, but if Stafford gets in a few full practices, he will be the lower-owned, high upside contrarian QB play this week at $8500. It’s worth noting that his up and down fantasy scoring this season has come against some tough secondaries (e.g. Minnesota, Arizona, Giants), and if healthy, he has already shown 4-TD upside. Despite the tough matchups, he hasn’t thrown an interception since Week 1.
Michael Thomas has looked like the 2016 version of himself the past two games, catching a touchdown in each and improving his catch rate on his 8-11 targets per game. He’s expensive, but like Brees, makes for a strong cash game play given that volume. Rather than deciding between Brandon Coleman, Willie Snead and Coby Fleener, who will largely make each other irrelevant for fantasy on a weekly basis, look to Brees’ new favorite receiving weapon, RB Alvin Kamara. Still priced just under Mark Ingram, who is also becoming less relevant for fantasy with his reduced workload and lack of red zone production, Kamara looks like the real deal. Maybe he won’t catch 100 percent of 10 targets every week, but he should have earned Brees’ trust with that Week 4 performance and be able to continue playing a critical role in an elite offense.
For the Lions, you can roster either Golden Tate or Marvin Jones Jr. on the receiving side, with Tate looking something like a bargain at $7600 after a disappointing Week 5. He’s been up and down all season, but this is a matchup he can take advantage of providing Stafford can make the throws. Jones Jr. is a good bet for a touchdown—I won’t be chasing Darren Fells’ 2-TD game or expecting something more from Eric Ebron—and Jones is coming off an eight-target game vs. Carolina. Ameer Abdullah could be in line for more work if Stafford is less than 100 percent, but you’ll have to deal with the occasional Zach Zenner touchdown snipe and his inefficiency. I think we can do better at RB.
New England at New York Jets, Total 47.5
Both of these teams are tied with the Bills at 3-2, making the AFC East an unexpected rivalry this season…for now. The Patriots limited the Buccaneers to just 14 points Thursday night, but Jameis Winston became the fifth straight quarterback to throw for over 300 yards against them, and Doug Martin had a banner day on the ground. That is all to say, the Patriots are still the league’s most generous passing and rushing defense for fantasy. The Jets aren’t far behind, allowing the fifth-most fantasy points to running backs, and giving up a total of nine passing touchdowns to several quarterbacks who don’t throw a ton of them (e.g. Jay Cutler, Blake Bortles, Kevin Hogan, Tyrod Taylor…). Derek Carr threw three against them in Week 2, and I expect much the same from Tom Brady this week. At $9500, he’s the top priced option by a lot. I don’t necessarily think he’ll be significantly better than Brees, and think there are enough bargain QB options that I’ll own little, if any, Brady this weekend.
Brandin Cooks seems to have integrated a little more into this offense, with eight targets in Week 4, but it’s still Chris Hogan scoring touchdowns. I don’t see that letting up as he has accounted for five touchdowns and at least 60 receiving yards on an average of eight targets per game over the last four weeks. His price has come up but with this team total, Vegas thinks the touchdowns are coming and I think at least one comes to Hogan again. Rob Gronkowski isn’t a lock to play, but with so much rest since the Week 4 TNF game, I’d plan on seeing him out there. Follow the news and if you can fit him in at $8K, he’s a fine option. Against the Jets (in eight games where he was healthy), Gronk has seen double-digit targets in five of them, scored six touchdowns, and caught over 60 percent of his targets. If Gronkowski is healthy, it’s a downgrade for both Danny Amendola and James White.
The Pats backfield continues to frustrate. It’s a great week for Mike Gillislee to get back in the endzone, but his FanDuel salary is still $6200 after three games with fewer than six fantasy points. He’s a risk/reward play.
The Jets are not a team I’m using heavily in DFS this year for obvious reasons. Austin Sefarian-Jenkins can be a decent option in good matchups, which this is, and he’s the guy I’d pair with Josh McCown in a tournament lineup. McCown could easily be the first 2017 QB to pass for fewer than 300 yards against New England, but almost exactly two years ago he set a Browns record by passing for 300+ yards three games in a row, so it’s possible…
Elijah McGuire could be the highest owned running back of Week 6 if both Bilal Powell and Matt Forte are out, given the matchup. Jermaine Kearse is the top receiver for the Jets, but I don’t think he has enough upside to warrant use in tournaments. Consider him a decent cash game option in his $6K price range.
The low-scoring games:
New York Giants at Denver, Total 40.5
One of several large spreads this week, Vegas hates the Giants in Denver. Of course, they have zero weapons in the pass game, and Denver is the league’s worst fantasy matchup for running backs. New York is a complete fade; even lone half-healthy receivers Sterling Shepard and Roger Lewis will be in for a miserable day with Chris Harris and Aqib Talib at their sides.
Denver’s Trevor Siemian is in a great spot this week, at home facing a Giants’ defense that has allowed 10 passing touchdowns (and the 10th-most fantasy points per game to QB). He is a safe play at $7500 and I like both Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders with him. You likely have your favorite Denver WR, so go with it. The tight end time share between Virgil Green and A.J. Derby is seeming to go in Derby’s favor after Week 4. At $4600 apiece, they get the top TE matchup for fantasy as the Giants have allowed six touchdowns to tight ends so far this season. The strong play of Janoris Jenkins and Landon Collins has perhaps forced teams to feed their tight ends, particularly in the end zone, a trend that is likely to continue. Derby is the play for me.
Chicago at Baltimore, Total 41.5
The Mitch Trubisky debut started out great, as the rookie made some terrific throws in the first half of Monday’s loss to Minnesota. But most rookie QBs aren’t perfect (see below), and that Vikings defense was a tough introduction to the league. The Ravens won’t be much easier, as they are allowing the third-fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season. Zach Miller was the only Bears player I used in DFS in Week 5 and I’m not even touching him in Week 6. The fluky touchdown was nice, but not to be counted on. I was disappointed to not see the Bears get the ball to Tarik Cohen in space more often Monday night, something that could (should) happen more this weekend. Cohen is cheap enough to take a tournament flier on, but the Bears team total is so dismal it’s impossible to trust any of them.
The way to use this game, in my opinion, is a Ravens defense/running back stack. Javorius Allen and Alex Collins are both usable, but Allen has the greater volume and is more likely to be targeted in the pass game. After seeing Jerick McKinnon break out vs. the Bears Monday night, I do think Collins will have some chances at big plays like he’s shown over the past two weeks. Allen for cash games, Collins in tournaments?
High team totals you might miss:
Cleveland at Houston, Total 44.4
It’s unusual to be so excited about the Houston Texans’ offense. The loss of J.J. Watt is awful on so many levels, but this is a team that hasn’t been a defensive powerhouse this season anyway. Rather, they are one of the best offenses behind rookie superstar DeShaun Watson and DeAndre Hopkins. In fact, Watson leads the league with 12 passing touchdowns and also has two with his legs while Hopkins is second in both touchdowns (5) and receptions (35) among wide receivers. This looks like a can’t-fade stack for Week 6, given that the Browns have given up big fantasy days to just about everyone (fourth-most fantasy points per game to QBs). Will Fuller V is still just $6000 on FanDuel, making him the tournament play for Houston. He won’t score two touchdowns every week…or will he? Lamar Miller is involved, but he’s touchdown dependent for fantasy value and that discourages his use in cash games for me. The Texans defense is an obvious play if you can afford them.
On the Browns side of things, the one player I like is Duke Johnson Jr. who has over 15 fantasy points in each of the last three games even in FanDuel’s 0.5 PPR scoring format. He’s proven to be a nice option regardless of which quarterback is under center.
San Francisco at Washington, Total 46.5
There’s no denying the poor 49ers defense, and we’ve seen Kirk Cousins do well against better this season. Coming off the bye week, the Redskins should be in top form at home. Cousins has a solid 7:1 TD:INT ratio, but this team feels like it should be better. Jamison Crowder and Jordan Reed should be fully healthy for Week 6, and I like both as tournament fliers. Neither has shown much this year, but both are capable of a big game. Production and/or price will keep their ownership low. The running back situation is one to avoid as it seems likely that Samaje Perine, Rob Kelley and Chris Thompson will be active.
The 49ers are coming off a big loss to the Colts in which Brian Hoyer and George Kittle led DFS lineups straight to the top of the big tournaments in Week 5. Let others chase those Hoyer/Kittle/Pierre Garcon points, as the Washington defense has gotten to the quarterback (12 sacks in four games) and created seven turnovers in their four games so far. Traveling across the country with an implied team total of 18.5 points is not a place to rely on the SF passing game. Furthermore, the 49ers admitted that they will use the hot hand at running back, making both Carlos Hyde and Matt Breida hard to trust in this game.