Last week’s Packers-Lions game did feature a surplus of passing, but not from the team that I expected.
Aaron Rodgers and the Packers played like a junior varsity team in the first half, and as such, they got the benefit of 52 passing attempts. Marquez Valdes-Scantling had a huge game, and our Week 5 cover boy Golden Tate was limited to only seven targets as Matthew Stafford threw a mere 26 times.
Fringe plays are almost always subject to the vagaries of game script. We can only hope to be better this week.
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Jared Goff, QB, Los Angeles Rams
Goff is not a public play. Not this week, and in general, not ever.
There is still some holdover bias against him from his rookie season with Jeff Fisher and last season’s playoff debacle. But according to Sports Info Solutions, the Broncos defense is the worst in the NFL on passes farther than 20 yards. Denver has allowed the highest number of passing touchdowns (5), passing yards (439) and completions (13) on passes of at least 20 yards downfield.
While Brandin Cooks and Cooper Kupp are still in the concussion protocol, both seem to have a decent shot to play and are capably backed up by Josh Reynolds and Gerald Everett. The Broncos still get respect as an elite defense, but they aren’t one — and defenses matter less for forecasting than anyone wants to admit.
The Rams have the second-highest team total of the main slate, but Goff is projected for only 2%-4% ownership despite having our highest rating in the Tournament Model.
Nyheim Hines, RB, Indianapolis Colts
Hines is likely to get overlooked for a plethora of reasons. He was not outstanding against the Patriots, even though he led the Colts’ backfield in rushes and targets. The Colts also have only a 21.25 team total. There is no denying that this is what we would call a negative game environment. However, Hines is third on the Colts in targets and second in active targets with T.Y. Hilton not expected to play this Sunday.
No running back on the main slate averages more targets per game than Hines does, and he has received goal-line usage twice this season both as a rusher and a receiver. Hines has at least five receptions in three of four games and 20 targets over the past two weeks.
Were he listed as a receiver, he’d be in cash-game consideration in this spot. With rushing upside, he is my favorite tournament target.
Tarik Cohen, RB, Chicago Bears
What happened in Week 4 is not guaranteed to happen this week. It’s entirely possible that the Bears come back from their bye refreshed with a new emphasis on getting Jordan Howard involved as a pass-catcher and as a goal-line rusher. But now that I’ve seen Cohen used in this light with Matt Nagy as the play-caller, I am inclined to think of Cohen as a weekly sprinkle play.
The last time we saw Cohen, he had 13 rushes to Howard’s 11 and eight targets to Howard’s one. That’s not the season-long trend, but it has a reasonable chance of happening again were the matchup to call for it in Nagy’s mind. Cohen is not a great volume play, but he is a great ceiling play. His ceiling projection is among the best of all players priced below $5,000. The Dolphins are also in the bottom 20% in Plus/Minus Allowed to running backs.
Hines is a better play, straight up, than Cohen. But a guy with demonstrable ability to get more than 30 DraftKings points in the flow of an offensive game plan should make up 5% of your player pool if he’s going to be only1% owned.
Jarvis Landry, WR, Cleveland Browns
I hate to go full tout on all of you, but the war that is happening on Twitter about defenses mattering … well, the side that suggests that defenses don’t matter (or barely matte) is more correct than not.
The Chargers do have a fearsome secondary with Casey Hayward, Desmond King and Derwin James. But if Landry’s volume remains steady, he should be owned at a higher clip than the 5%-8% we have him projected him for. Landry has 34 targets over the Browns’ past three games, but has only one touchdown, which is running lower than expected. He’s in the top five in the NFL in market share of his team’s targets and has more Air Yards than Tyreek Hill.
Baker Mayfield projects like a future superstar (even if he will never be as great as Showtime Mahomes), and Landry is the best and most-targeted receiver on this Browns team. Based on pure volume alone, Landry is underpriced and is the exact type of player we should be targeting in tournaments: High-volume, bad-matchup plays.
Stefon Diggs, WR, Minnesota Vikings
Over the past two games, Diggs has 21 receptions on 26 targets and no touchdowns. If he continues this sustained run of targets and converting them into catches, the touchdowns will follow.
Without Dalvin Cook active, the Vikings have no running game, and I commend them for realizing that. Last week against the Eagles, Kirk Cousins threw 37 passes — more than 50% of which went to Diggs and Adam Thielen — while Latavius Murray rushed only 11 times.
The Vikings are gigantic 10-point favorites at home against the Cardinals — as they should be — they are a much better team. But for a multitude of reasons, the DFS public is less likely to play high-volume receivers when they are a heavy favorite because they project fewer pass attempts. That scripts the game only one way and is a pretty fragile approach to DFS. Diggs has many ways to get a guaranteed prize pool-winning score regardless of the spread, and he has four Pro Trends in his favor.
While not a core cash play, Diggs is a great tournament WR with his combination of heavy-volume role and explosive athletic ability.
Gerald Everett, TE, Los Angeles Rams
If Kupp and Cooks don’t play on Sunday, Everett is one of the sneakiest names on the board. Josh Reynolds is likely to start in Cooks’ role while Everett makes more sense in Kupp’s. Everett is the guy who came in last week in a receiving role with Kupp (concussion) out of the game, and Everett’s play style mirrors how Sean McVay uses Kupp.
Everett is a 10% sprinkle play in that eventuality, but one in which I would feel confident. Everett stands 6-foot-3 and 239 pounds, which is more like a giant wide receiver than a small tight end, and all of his workout metrics are in the 72nd-percentile or better for tight ends.
The Broncos pass defense is #bad, and McVay has proven that any starter in his offense is fantasy relevant. If Kupp goes but not Cooks, Everett is off the board and we’ll focus our GPP TE player pool on David Njoku, Austin Hooper and C.J. Uzomah.
Pictured above: Nyheim Hines
Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports