Onto the next battle. Since we're still early in the season, here's a bullet point list of what you'll find in 'Value Plays' article each Friday ...
- Each position features three players that I believe are strong value selections for the upcoming weekend, plus the reasoning behind the choice.
- The price tag indicated in parentheses is what you will find over at DraftKings.com.
- Following a quick write-up of why each particular player is a solid value, I'll offer a suggestion on where you should then take your money savings. This works to provide a run-down of the more highly-priced guys that I do like for the upcoming weekend.
- At each position I will also list the highest-priced player in that spot, alongside a 1-10 score which references how confident I would be in that player earning back their cost (10 being a guarantee).
Of course, when you're dealing with a salary cap structure, a good portion of the players I recommend do not correlate to top-notch starting options in season-long play. About half the time, a DFS recommendation is not a thumbs' up for that same player in your season-long set-up
Before I jump into the Week 9 DFS value plays, here's a look at the Week 8 Report Card ...
- Ryan Fitzpatrick never got a chance to prove me correct as he went down on the opening drive. Both Jay Cutler and Brian Hoyer were upper-half scores.
- I got spot-on bulls-eye hits with both Jonathan Stewart and C.J. Anderson. Chris Johnson was over 100 yards, but didn't find the end zone and fumbled twice. A wash.
- Neither Marvin Jones nor Stevie Johnson showed up and settled for duds, but Ruben Randle found himself in double-digits and came very close to a massive game. Really? No TDs in a game where his QB threw a half-dozen?
- Delanie Walker was a Tight End-1. Ben Watson was a monster. And, Ladarius Green, came up injured. A solid week.
- As expected, it was a rough week to go cheap with your team defense pick. Oakland (despite five fantasy points), Chicago, and San Francisco were mostly non-factors.
Overall Week 8 Grade - B
Tyrod Taylor ($5,300) vs. MIA - After missing most of the past month with a knee injury, Taylor is due back on the field for a key game with the Dolphins. Way back in Week 3 of the season, Taylor posted his finest showing as an NFL'er versus Miami as he sailed his way to three passing TDs while completing 21-of-27 throws. On the flip side, that was one of just two games (in five starts) where Taylor failed to top 40 yards rushing. That feature is what will always make him of interest in fantasy play and, if his knee is truly healthy, Taylor should be back over that number this weekend. Plus, the Bills are set to have Sammy Watkins (ankle) back on the gridiron and LeSean McCoy is another week past his early-year injury. Taylor's fantasy numbers for '15 should have his price tag up above six-grand. Instead, you're getting him at a discount because of the October time missed.
If you save here, spend here - Demaryius Thomas ($7,500) @ IND
Jameis Winston ($5,200) vs. NYG - First off, Winston is not Drew Brees. But, he does get to face the defense that was sliced and diced all Sunday long last weekend in New Orleans! And, my suggestion doesn't mean I'm calling for, well, seven TD passes. I'll take a pair! Winston is coming of a good real life effort in a win over Atlanta that didn't equate to a good fantasy world performance. Still, look at some of the growth we've seen since his four-pick effort in the first week of October ... 3 games, a completion percentage of nearly 65%, five total TDs with NO interceptions, and an overall QB rating near 111. That's good stuff. And, it should cost more than $5,200, especially against a defense such as New York. The Giants were a weak all around pass defense before getting rolled by Brees. Now, they're truly an embarrassment in the NFL rankings (dead last in passing yardage allowed).
If you save here, spend here - Dovanta Freeman ($8,000) @ SF
Kirk Cousins ($5,100) @ NE - Most weeks, we come across a few players who make this column because of assumed game flow. That's where we're at with Cousins for Week 9. Washington has a near-zero chance of upsetting New England in Foxboro, but they do have an excellent chance of getting lit up on the scoreboard. All of that means a 2nd-half full of drop-back's and passes for Cousins and the 'Skins. The quarterback is no stranger to 40+ passes, having done so in four of the previous five games (he fired 32 in the lone game where he came up short). Beyond the quantity argument, there's also a bit of a quality one ... both DeSean Jackson and Jordan Reed, critical components to any pass-game success, should be in pads and ready for late-game trash points.
If you save here, spend here - Rob Gronkowski ($8,000) vs. WAS
Top of the Chart - Tom Brady ($8,500) vs. WAS - 9.4
C.J. Anderson ($4,100) @ IND - Anderson got the tap in this space a week ago and proceeded to go over 100 yards when most expected Ronnie Hillman to be the lone horse in the Bronco backfield. Now, Hillman still got his fantasy points (two touchdowns), but the more salient point is that Anderson and Hillman will likely be tag-teaming all season long. That doesn't mean you shouldn't use Anderson. Remember, he was the starter coming into the season and after his Week 8 effort, we could see Denver trending back in his direction. Facing off with Indianapolis is another feather in his cap. The Colts have been non-existent versus the rush this year, permitting a terrible 1,000 yards in just eight games. Denver should hit at least 150 rushing in this one and Anderson should be in the 80-100 range.
If you save here, spend here - DeMarco Murray ($6,400) @ DAL
Jeremy Langford ($4,000) @ SD - This is a value play that everyone and their grandmother will be in on for Week 9. Matt Forte is out for this game and others to come and Chicago has done nothing to damper any of the excitement surrounding the rookie. Reports out of the Windy City indicate that the team has no qualms with giving him 20+ touches this week. Obviously, there are slim pickings when it comes to figuring out what kind of player Langford is ... he has all of 27 carries in his NFL career. This selection comes down to what type of DFS player you are. Do you jump on Langford so that if you go down, everyone will go down with you? Or, do you prefer another, more certain runner (say, Anderson ...) who many will pass on despite a similar price tag?
If you save here, spend here - Philip Rivers ($6,900) vs. CHI
Antonio Andrews ($3,600) @ NO - Andrews is slowly moving up the charts. He turned in a slightly-better-than-ordinary showing with 16 totes in Week 8. Over the previous days, the Titans have expressed an interest making Andrews their 'horse' for the foreseeable future. Heading down to the Bayou for a road game with the Saints, you would expect Tennessee to plan a run-heavy, time-consuming attack to keep the Saint offense off the field. It's, admittedly, a dangerous assumption. After all, the Titans could find themselves in a two touchdown hole by intermission. Yet, this price is very, very cheap. The lowest price for an RB that you'll find at DraftKings is $3,000 and a large portion of those guys won't even see a uniform, let alone a carry, on Sunday.
If you save here, spend here - Antonio Brown ($8,100) vs. OAK
Top of the Chart - Devonta Freeman ($8,000) @ SF - 7.9
Michael Crabtree ($4,900) @ PIT - Quietly, but completely, Crabtree has successful rejuvenated his career making the move to the East Bay. The vet has not had fewer than four catches in any of his seven games as a Raider. And, overall, he's averaging 5.5 catches on 9.8 targets per game. His listed price for this week is usually too high for our purposes, but this weekend, the buffet of options is lighter than usual. Crabtree is in play as the Raiders head to Heinz Field for a date with Pittsburgh. The Steelers have actually been stronger than expected against opposing WRs, but the Raiders passing attack has been overly consistent all season, no matter who the opponent (in four of the past six games, they've been over 280 yards passing). Working opposite of Rookie of the Year candidate, Amari Cooper, has relieved some pressure off Crabtree all season. Expect more of the same in Week 9.
If you save here, spend here - Adrian Peterson ($7,300) vs. STL
Rishard Matthews ($4,500) @ BUF - Matthews registered a princely total of 12 targets last week at New England. That was just his second game of the year where he hit double-digits in that category. The other? Week 2 versus Buffalo when he turned 10 targets into a half-dozen catches, 113 yards, and a pair of touchdowns. I wouldn't go so far as to predict a repeat showing, but it should be obvious that whatever worked then, could also work now. Beyond the head-to-head, Matthews is averaging a very solid, 73 yards receiving per game. He's easily the second option behind Jarvis Landry and should have an above-average shot for a TD catch against a defense that has allowed the 5th-most in the entire league.
If you save here, spend here - Tom Brady ($8,500) vs. WAS
Dontrelle Inman ($3,000) vs. CHI - The season-ending injury to Keenan Allen (lacerated kidney) moves everyone up in the Chargers' pecking order. Price-wise, both Malcom Floyd and Stevie Johnson are relative 'gets' for Week 9, but if you'd like to delve further down the ladder, you can take a shot on Inman. He will definitely be on the field more than usual and in a semi-similar chance at the end of last season, he turned in a line of 12-158-0. One drawback for Inman's immediate future is that the Bolts still sport an arsenal of pass-catchers and Inman may only get a few real chances. At this cost, you could play the wildcard and, in effect, blow the budget on a high-end QB, WR, and RB, in making up your roster.
If you save here, spend here - Julio Jones ($9,300) @ SF
Top of the Chart - Julio Jones ($9,300) @ SF - 7.5
Vernon Davis ($2,800) @ IND - First off, Davis has been a constant bust for a year-and-a-half. He's turned in a few noteworthy efforts, but the vast preponderance of his work has been hideous. But, earlier in the week, Denver made a rare deadline move to bring in Davis, hoping to strengthen their options for a dipping Peyton Manning. It's difficult to expect an immediate pay off as soon as this weekend, but Davis arrives to a good head-to-head versus Indy. He actually managed six receptions just last week for San Francisco (albeit for a measly, 24 yards!), so it's not as if Davis hasn't shown glimpses of what once made him so popular. The value is definite, but the actual selection is chancy with just three days to get ingrained in the Denver offensive system.
If you save here, spend here - Atlanta DEF ($3,400) @ SF
Heath Miller ($2,700) vs. OAK - Ben Roethlisberger's return proved to be an immediate lift for Miller. He piled up a massive effort against Cincinnati with 10 catches and over 100 yards. As we've been noting all season, Oakland has had a rough go of it versus tight ends, but they have actually escaped the ratings basement in that category (the Giants are allowing a load more catches and yardage for the season). Still, as the Steelers prep for life without Le'Veon Bell, Miller figures to be involved in a big way for a second consecutive week.
If you save here, spend here - Eli Manning ($6,900) @ TB
Vance McDonald ($2,500) vs. ATL - So, Davis is out in San Francisco and ... well ... who is in? We thought that it would be Garrett Celek, but he's suddenly a question mark for the weekend, trying to get clearance from a concussion. If he's cleared and starting, you can possibly think about placing his name in this spot. But, if he's not set to go, then McDonald jumps up as a total cheapie add. Of course, he's also a total cheapie player. Perhaps the arrival of Blaine Gabbert into the 49er starting lineup enlivens everyone a smidge. This is a total shot in the dark, but in all reality, just four catches by McDonald would make an owner happy. Or, should I say, it ought to make an owner happy.
If you save here, spend here - Odell Beckham, Jr. ($8,800) @ TB
Top of the Chart - Rob Gronkowski ($8,000) vs. WAS - 8.1
Philadelphia ($2,700) @ DAL - Once again, we have a suggested play because of who the defense is battling. Namely, the Eagles get to tee off on Matt Cassel this week. While the Eagle offense has been the concern of so many, the defense and their numbers have gone unnoticed. They've forced a very nice total of 19 turnovers this year. They've also shut down two straight QBs, keeping both Eli Manning and Cam Newton under 200 yards passing in the last two weeks. Cassel should be raw meat.
If you save here, spend here - Charles Clay ($4,200) vs. MIA
New Orleans ($2,200) vs. TEN - How in the world is it possible to recommend a defense that is coming off a contest where they allowed 49 points?? Look no further than the fantasy production of the team they played last week ... the team that allowed an inhumane 52 points. The New York Giants defense was throttled and, yet still (thanks to a pick-6), they came out with positive fantasy points. It's a major flaw in fantasy football, but it's one that you have to consider. 'Points allowed' do matter, but not very much. Turnovers are what you're gunning for. The Saints have forced seven of them in the past three games. They'll tackle the challenge of a returning, Marcus Mariota, this Sunday. In five career games, he's fired five picks and fumbled the football five times.
If you save here, spend here - Greg Olsen ($6,500) vs. GB
San Francisco ($2,100) vs. ATL - There's just something about Matt Ryan that has been disappointing this year. He has not been bad, per se, but he has not really gone off. At the same time, San Francisco's defense is coming off a relatively solid effort on the road in St. Louis last week. Now, they're back in front of (what's left of) their home fans. That's relevant because the team hasn't allowed over 20 points in any of their first four home games this season. And, that mark hasn't come against a collection of offensive slouches, either (Green Bay, Seattle, Baltimore, and Minnesota). They've allowed under 355 total yards at home versus an average of over 450 in their four games of road play.
If you save here, spend here - Ben Roethlisberger ($6,600) vs. OAK
Top of the Chart - St. Louis ($3,500) @ MIN - 7.7
You can hear Kyle, Monday-Thursday from 8-10 ET and Friday's from 10-midnight ET, on 'The SiriusXM Fantasy Drive', on Sirius 210, XM 87.