Week 8 was not very kind to our fringe plays.
Game stacks of the Buccaneers-Bengals matchup were ruined by Andy Dalton not having a great game, and by Jameis Winston and Ryan Fitzpatrick splitting up Tampa Bay’s passing stats. Then there was Jarvis Landry, who continued his run of getting insane targets and zero production.
We are heading back to the NFC South for a good number of our selections this week. Let’s get it!
Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
FitzMagic has the highest intended average air yards of any quarterback to play this season and, for whatever reason, seems to be a better fit for the Todd Monken fever dream offense than Winston.
Fitz is surrounded by the best offense of his career with Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson, Chris Godwin and two quality receiving tight ends. The quarterback’s salary is also down to $5,500 on the road against the Panthers.
Even in a three-interception game against the Steelers, Fitz was able to grind to 30 DraftKings points. While it might be ugly overall, I’m all about targeting a quarterback with these weapons and these intended average air yards — especially if he’s going to have one-fifth of the ownership of the quarterback he’s facing (Cam Newton).
This is a great game to stack, but people will be too heavy on the Carolina side.
James Conner, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers
Conner’s worst game of the season came against the Ravens at home. Why would we even consider playing him in this horrible matchup?
Well, we’re learning by the day that defenses matter less and less than previously thought when it comes to a player’s fantasy production. The Ravens have given up good games to Christian McCaffrey and Alvin Kamara in back-to-back weeks, and Conner has better workloads than both running backs. Conner has played 158 of the Steelers’ 356 offensive plays and has nine of their 24 offensive touchdowns. He has three straight games of 19 or more carries, and has seen 13 targets over the past two games.
Conner has a truly elite Melvin Gordon/Todd Gurley-type work set, and isn’t priced that way on DraftKings this week. Fade him in tournaments at your own risk.
Tevin Coleman, RB, Falcons & Jordan Howard, RB, Bears
I’m lumping Coleman and Howard together because I think their values are very similar.
If they don’t score one touchdown, they have no value, and they’re probably only winning you a tournament if they get two score.
This matchup against the Bills is the best that Howard will have all season based on how the Bears have chosen to use him, which is basically as a backup to Tarik Cohen. It makes little sense for the Bears to rush Cohen into the line 12 times in a game that they’re massive 10-point favorites in as of writing (see live odds here). On the same hand, Howard is still the primary goal-line rusher and should have several cracks at a touchdown here.
Meanwhile, Coleman is now splitting backfield work with Ito Smith, but had more carries and the same number of targets as Smith did in the Falcons’ first official game with Devonta Freeman on Injured Reserve.
We would’ve rejoiced to see Coleman at $4,800 on DraftKings four weeks ago. I think it’s unwise to ignore him in tournaments for this current tag.
Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons
I’m waiting for the week when Jones is not an option for this column.
I want him to be chalk. I want him to score touchdowns. But it is just not happening.
Jones still leads the NFL in air yards, which would make him a play for less than $8,000 on DraftKings. Jones has the most Pro Trends going for him that I have ever seen, with a massive 11 in his favor this week. He also has one of the highest leverage scores of the entire week at 92% and exceeds the value expected from his salary at a 60% clip.
Last week, Odell Beckham Jr. had a great fantasy day against Josh Norman. It’s hard for me to call this a true “explosion spot.” What I do know is that Jones’ target profile suggests that he’s running the worst on touchdowns of anyone in the NFL. Regression will hit at some point.
Michael Crabtree, WR, Baltimore Ravens
While John Brown is the air yards All-Star for the Ravens, our projection models like Crabtree’s value proposition better.
Crabtree has the second-highest score in our Tournament Model and has a ceiling projection of 24. His target share was lowered last week against Carolina, but he had nine, nine and 12 in the weeks before that. His individual matchup against the Steelers is mostly fine, but I think this Steelers-Ravens game is likely to over the total of 47.5, and my read on that brings Crabtree squarely into play at this price.
Much like Jones, Crabtree has some touchdown regression coming his way. He only has two touchdowns on a team-leading 69 targets, and if I am indeed right about this game going over the total, Crabtree should be involved.
Ben Watson, TE, New Orleans Saints
When you start going through the game with the highest over/under of the week (and the season), it’s hard to find guys who are not going to be owned.
Jared Goff, Gurley, Drew Brees, Kamara, Mark Ingram, Brandin Cooks, Tre’Quan Smith, Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp are all projected for more than 10% owned, and many of them for more than that.
So what is the contrarian or low-owned way to attack this game? Watson is coming off a zero-targets-for-zero-catches game against the Vikings. The Saints’ offensive value was artificially deflated last week by turnovers, but Watson had 10 combined targets the two weeks before that. He’s unlikely to be the highest-scoring tight end of the slate, but he does make sense in a game stack.
Pictured above: James Conner
Credit: Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports