NFL DFS Week 6 Picks
Boy, the Falcons are really bad at covering anybody. That’s just a fantasy gold mine for the rest of the season. Too bad the Buccaneers don’t have a reliable RB to trod out there against that putrid defense. They do, however, have a guy who likes to eat big ol’ wins and steal crab legs. It’s the return of Famous Jameis, taking over the now-defunct Bank of Fitzmagic and his bearded associates. Can he keep up the Bucs’ frenzied offensive pace and give us a stack-able game? Who knows, but my money’s on Evans either way.
It’s a brand new week full of gorgeous match-ups like the one above, but here’s the thing – the public will start following the new season trends and sites will start pricing accordingly. That’s when finding the right game that everyone overlooks becomes crucial. It’s a matter of pivoting off known high ownerships and landing on a player that has a great matchup but may be less talked about due to recency bias. I have at times fell victim to that very same recency bias, so it’s nice to have an optimizer that could care less about the prior games. An emotionless being, a robot that simply cares about real data with the occasionally terrible pun. Yes, it is a wonderful optimizer with just a little bit too much snark at times. Still a great tool! After all, it’s made several DailyRoto subscribers millionaires and gave Drewby a chance to finally buy diapers in bulk at a real store. Success! Let’s begin the weekly deep dive into NFL DFS! Don’t forget to bring your snorkels. Onto my NFL DFS Week 6 picks.
Matt Ryan is probably the clear top QB play of the week, playing against the worst DVOA graded defense in the comforts of the Georgia Dome. Ryan has been significantly better at home compared to the road, rocking a 136.6 passer rating at home while nearly half of that on the road. The home/road splits for the Falcons have been drastic enough to warrant jamming in the Falcons’ offense in every home game. It certainly helps that the Bucs defense just simply has been unable to slow down opposing passing offenses, surrendering the 4th most passing yards and tied for most passing touchdowns given up. Remember, that’s including a Tampa Bay bye week in Week 5. Ryan at home is the new Roethlisberger at home but not on the road. Recency bias? What’s that?
The other top QB play of the week that jumped out to me was Kirk Cousins and the pass-heavy Vikings offense. He’ll get a surprisingly well-graded Cardinals defense that just gave up a whopping 92 offensive plays to Beathard’s 49ers. The reason why I don’t care for the Cardinal’s 8th overall DVOA grade is that they’re still giving up the 2nd most snaps per game and their offense has been unable to stay on the field long enough (fewest offensive snaps) to keep opposing offenses stuck firmly on the bench. That means Cousins and his condensed offense of Thielen and Diggs should get ample opportunities to fly all over an exploitable defense. Since the Cardinals benched Jamar Taylor and played Bene’ Benewikere, they’ve been pretty decent against the pass. The problem is they still have holes in their defense that teams still have been able to scheme against, namely their nickelback, strong safety, and LB coverage. That matches up Thielen (61% in slot) against Budda Baker (105 passer rating on throws his way) and Rudolph against Bethea (127 passer rating) and Josh Bynes (150 passer rating!). Great matchups for an offense that’s predominantly spread across three main weapons – Thielen (5 straight 100+ yard games), Diggs, and Rudolph (top 10 in every TE receiving category). This feels like an overlooked match-up due to DVOA statistics and the continued strong play by 2nd best graded Patrick Peterson. I won’t be fooled though. Stack Cousins with Thielen and Rudolph!
The DailyRoto projections love Jameis Winston, and it’s hard for me to disagree with it. He’s facing a bottom five Falcons defense while coming off a bye and has the coach’s confidence in potentially bringing back a faster tempo with more no-huddle snaps. Still, a part of me thinks Winston might need a few more games to get into a rhythm before he can fully optimize a powerful Bucs offense. That’s why I prefer Jared Goff at a surprisingly low price against a Broncos defense that just got torched by Sam Darnold.
For whatever reason, the Broncos defense just hasn’t lived up to expectations from their past defensive dominance years. A big part of that reason has been their crumbling defense during their three-game losing streak, giving up an average of 433 total yards to 339.5 in the two games prior and 29 PPG to 21. That includes a whopping 512 total yards given up to the J-E-T-S, a powerhouse of an offense. The Rams have been an unstoppable offense thus far, rating as the number one overall offense with a three-headed monster at WR (Kupp/Cooks/Woods). Granted, two of their top WRs are battling concussions but all seems well at the time of the writing. Goff is 2nd best in PFF’s adjusted completion percentage, coming at 83.2% that’s only bested by Brees’ 84.1. The Rams have been running from 11 personnel (3 WR 1 RB 1 TE) 97% of the time, allowing Gurley to run free away from typical 8 man boxes. That’s also allowed Goff to attack base nickel defenses and pinpoint bad match-ups whenever he likes. Goff even has the highest YPA (10.4) among qualified QBs, not counting the Bank of Fitzmagic (10.5). The guy is a stud in a high flying offense that has been firing on all cylinders. He’s at a massive value price against a spiraling Broncos defense. He’s sitting pretty as the third best QB value on the optimizer. Easy.
Seattle is the 2nd run-heaviest team in the NFL, engage in a moderately slow pace, and give up an average number of offensive plays (14th fewest). It’s also a London game. So why am I picking Derek Carr as my sleeper pick? Well, it’s quite simple. HE’S TOO DAMN CHEAP!!! It’s also because the Seahawks have been rather lackluster in their run defense, ranking 17th DVOA. That means Oakland can then unleash Marshawn Lynch on the Seahawks to help set up the play-action that Carr did so well with earlier in the season. There’s been a trend with Carr in regards to a good Lynch script – when Lynch has received at least 20+ touches, Carr has thrown for an average of 356.6 yards compared to 285.5 when Lynch goes well below 20 touches. Six of Carr’s 7 total touchdown passes have come in the 20+ touches Lynch games. Basically, bad Lynch = bad Carr. Seattle has given up the 4th most rushing yards with the 7th highest yard per carry average (4.7). Another boon to Carr’s fantasy outlook is the increased playing time of deep threat Martavis Bryant, adding another wrinkle to an underrated offense that already has a top tier TE in Jared Cook, an improving Amari Cooper, and the undying Jordy Nelson. It feels like a good Lynch week, which means Carr is bound for an explosion as well.
Todd Gurley should have a big day against a Denver defense giving up 5.2 yards per carry, but that game may be more of a Goff explosion than a typical 50 TD Gurley day. He’s still worth a heavy consideration with his league-leading 40 red zone opportunities that have put Gurley on a LaDanian Tomlinson-like TD pace. If you’re looking for a pivot off Gurley in a reasonable match-up, look no further than the poor man’s version of Todd Gurley in Melvin Gordon.
It’s another match-up that may get overlooked due to surface stats such as a 2nd overall DVOA Browns defense that’s 8th versus the run. But look closely and you’ll notice the Browns have given up the 5th most rushing yards to opposing RBs and have been fairly average in RB coverage, giving up 28/250/0 in the last five weeks. Melvin Gordon has been installed into the passing game at a career-high rate this season, collecting 28 catches for 261 yards and 3 touchdowns on 38 targets. He’s got a 22% target market share, 35% of the RZ touches (3rd most opportunities in NFL), and has converted the 2nd most touchdowns out of those red zone touches. That’s only behind…..Todd Gurley! Gordon’s also ran the 11th most routes out of the backfield, with the 4th highest yards per route run among RBs with at least 50 route run. Number one would be his fellow teammate Austin Ekeler, confirming the notion that the Chargers are imposing their dynamic RBs through the air on purpose. The Browns may be an up and coming defense, but the workload and safe floor through his receiving numbers make Gordon a top play every week.
This might be a really good week to double down in the mid-tier for RBs. As mentioned before, Marshawn Lynch looks poised to get another 20 touch game in a favorable match-up/game script. He’s still always going to be dependent on TDs, so he may be better on FanDuel rather than DraftKings. For a PPR back, Bilal Powell might have to merit some consideration after Crowell showed up on the injury report with an ankle injury. He’s been out-snapping and getting more touches than Crowell despite getting washed in total yardage. A hobbled Crowell would mean even more touches for a known PPR demon against a depleted Colts defense that has ran a similar scheme to Atlanta against opposing RBs. That means they allow shorter routes to develop and give up multiple dump-offs, but mitigate the run-after-catch on said dump-offs. Darius Leonard was a perfect example of executing that gameplan, having given up 34 catches for 401 yards on 36 targets in FOUR games. He missed last week with an injury but seems on pace at returning to the starting lineup. Big boon for Powell on the 5th run-heaviest Jets offense on the heels of a Crowell injury.
Ignoring the Devonta Freeman injury news, I’m kind of interested to see how Dion Lewis shapes up against a tough Ravens defense. It’s more about anticipating the Titans being forced to pass more often than they usually do (52%/48% pass/run split) due to a fierce Ravens run defense that ranks 4th best DVOA and has given up the 7th fewest total rushing yards. The good thing about the Ravens is that despite a strong defense, they’re still giving up plenty of snaps (13th most) since their offense just seems to ignite a higher paced game. Ravens are the 2nd fastest paced team with the most offensive snaps, so if they start to build an early lead then Lewis would end up getting more work than usual. Lewis has the 2nd best market share of the team’s targets, 14th most routes run among RBs, and has been consistently out-snapping/out-touching Derrick Henry all season. At his DraftKings price, all he needs is a good receiving line to pay off and Ravens tend to be a good jump start for plodding offenses due to their brisk offensive pace.
You know it’s been a brutal fantasy season when I have to put David Johnson here as a sleeper pick instead of a value play, where he truly belongs. Alas, being stuck on the 4th slowest team with the least offensive snaps per game can do that. Johnson is still being utilized as a true RB1 despite the constant obstacles he has to overcome on a haphazard Cardinals offense, owning the highest red zone market share in the NFL. He’s converted 13 of his RZ opportunities into 4 touchdowns, which honestly is really good all things considered. He gets a slumping Vikings defense that just hasn’t lived up to their preseason hype, ranking a paltry 26th DVOA overall with the 19th run defense. Johnson is starting to finally see more targets over the past few weeks, but it’s still not enough for an RB of his caliber, hence why Johnson is still going to be considered a sleeper despite his skill-set. It’s just a matter of whether or not the Cardinals can muster up solid offensive drives and allows DJ to get into 20+ touch territory since it’s very apparent that once they hit the red zone, it’s all David Johnson. The stars could align for the Red Tide this week against a mediocre run defense. Or it could be a shutout. Even odds on that.
I think it’s finally time. Julio Jones is going to get his FIRST TOUCHDOWN OF THE SEASON! He’s at home with a QB that’s been on fire in the dome against a defense that gave up 7/104/2 to Taylor freakin’ Gabriel! Julio has the 7th highest air yards per target average, 2nd highest yards per route run among WRs with at least 20 targets, and has the 9th most targets in the NFL. The guy has to score sometimes, right? He’s at a gorgeous price in a smash match-up that could end up being under-owned for what he brings due to a lack of touchdowns and Calvin Ridley being you know, Calvin “I Only Catch TD Passes” Ridley. I’m not gonna overthink this, and neither should you. Lock him in!
Adam Thielen also has an excellent match-up as I surmised in the Cousins piece and should be able to carry on his 100+ yards streak to six games. Deandre Hopkins also is poised to have a fantastic game against the Bills who might end up without their best coverage CB in Tre White due to a mid-week injury. White had been shadowing opposing team’s #1 WRs, shutting down most of them in the process. With White out, that would leave the Bills in no man’s land against Nuk, a desirable match-up with his target volume (5th most targeted) and a Texans offense that’s shown a preference to the pass at home (63% to 56% home/away split). As long as Watson suits up, Hopkins should gather another 10+ targets and possibly the top score of the day.
If that’s not enough top WR plays for you, how about checking out the Bengals/Steelers match-up? A.J. Green versus Antonio Brown! A classic! Who will prove themselves as the true elite WR in the AFC North? Let’s take a look at their individual match-ups. Brown should see plenty of coverage against Dre Kirkpatrick and William Jackson, who have both combined to give up 5 touchdowns and 320 yards. Pretty good. On the other end, Green will get Joe Haden and Artie Burns’ coverage, with both combining for 4 touchdowns given up and 335 total yards. Looks like they both have fairly strong match-ups in an expected shoot-out. However, both teams have had very good safety help over the top and generally are soft up in the middle of their coverage. That may mean both Boyd and JuJu Smith-Schuster have the easier path to a big game than Brown/Green. I’m also a little hesitant on the offensive potential of the game, as the Bengals have ran at a slower, more deliberate pace with Mixon compared to when Gio Bernard was the starter. The Steelers also run at a lower tempo on the road, which might dampen the fantasy expectations for the big two receivers. Play at your own risk.
Who’s the leading WR in air yards per target? John Brown! That’s my value WR play of the week! He’s on a Ravens team running the most offensive plays at the 2nd fastest pace while only two behind the team leader in targets. He’s been a demon on go-routes, which has meshed very well with Flacco’s affinity for the long pass. It’s been a match made in heaven thus far, and I expect the honeymoon to continue against a Titans secondary that’s been plagued by explosive plays. Malcolm Butler, the big free agent pick-up by the Titans, has been downright bad all season long. QBs throwing into his coverage have had an average of a 140 passer rating, with an egregious stat-line of 23/405/4 on 32 targets given up in Butler’s coverage. I’m going to lock in a deep bomb TD from the real Brown as he tramples over Butler for his third dunk of the day.
If Cooks/Kupp were to miss time this week, then Robert Woods would have been a top value play based on target share alone in an offense that has a high fantasy ceiling. Of course, I am not a fortune teller, so let’s focus on healthy players. There aren’t too many options below the 5k tier on DraftKings, but if you want to ignore the Week 4 snap count then Chris Godwin’s your man. He had scored in three straight games before a disaster of a game against the Bears. Godwin had been a red zone phenom and one of the Bucs’ most consistent receivers before mysteriously only getting less than 50% of the snaps against the Bears. If that scares you off, then check out rising rookie WR D.J. Moore of the Panthers. His snap counts have steadily increased over the past few weeks, and now he may finally play on more than 50% of snaps going forward. He had a solid Week 5 game with 4/49 and an 18-yard run, but the more important thing is he may end up nearing Torrey Smith’s snap count soon enough. The opportunity is there for Moore to replace Torrey and his worthless 4/16 on 7 targets production. Could be too early on Moore, but the signs are there.
Speaking of signs looks like Moncrief just might end up being the WR1 for the Jaguars after getting 15 of Bortles’ errant passes last week. That puts Moncrief at 37 targets on the year, leading the Jags in total targets and market share. That’s a good sign going forward, but the reason why I put him here is that the Dallas defense has been a little bit of a pass-funnel. They’re the 5th best rated run defense but rank 24th DVOA for their pass coverage. That’s curious considering they currently have the number 1 graded CB in Byron Jones. Bortles has been known to toss up 300+ yard games in games Fournette misses (376.5 average w/o Fournette), so it might end up going all to Moncrief based on the Byron Jones match-up alone. Moncrief figures to see plenty of Chidobe Awuzie’s coverage, and it’s a favorable match-up since Awuzie has now given up 358 yards and two touchdowns on 25 catches. Half of that yardage came in the last two weeks, so Awuzie’s been slipping lately. Good timing? Yep. Jacksonville has also been passing at a higher clip without Fournette, cranking up the attempt at a 67% clip over the last three games. While the Cowboys are in a free fall, the Jags will be looking to tack on another 300-yard day from Bortles and Moncrief should be a big part of that.
No Gronk? No problem! It’s been a strange season for the hardest position to predict in NFL fantasy, but at least we’ve got some decent options this week. Jared Cook has been phenomenal for the Raiders, ranking 4th in targets and market share among TEs. He’s also got the 2nd most RZ opportunities among his peers, making him one of the better gambles as a top play for his TD equity alone.
It’s an Eric Ebron week yet once again with Doyle and Hilton unlikely to play. Ebron has been one of the most surprising stories this NFL season, as he’s now a legitimate TE1 with the most targets in the last three weeks among TEs. He’s turned that into 19/178/3 on 36 targets with an astounding 10 red zone targets in the same span. Sad thing is, that could have easily been better had Ebron simply learned what catching means. Luck has made Ebron his WR1 over that time span, and considering the Colts have just gave up on the run while forcing Luck to uncork it 50x a game, Ebron will always be a TE1 play until Doyle returns to action. It doesn’t matter the match-up or the strengths of the defense as long as Ebron gets 10+ targets while receiving a ridiculous amount of red zone work. He’s even game script proof, since he has to play in garbage time anyway. Dunk on ’em!
MAKE CAMERON BRATE AGAIN! With O.J. Howard out for the game, all eyes are on Cameron Brate against a susceptible Atlanta coverage. A few years back, Brate was a red zone savant with Winston, dunking eight times in 2016 with 17 red zone targets. Great, great numbers. Tremendous. If it wasn’t for an unfortunate ankle injury, Tyler Eifert was well on his way to a gigantic day with a 4/38/1 stat-line before exiting in the early 3rd quarter. I expect Brate to double those numbers against a woeful Falcons coverage that’s been incredibly soft in the middle and on short routes. It’s such an easy play that you’d have to be a donkey to second-guess it. What’s that, you say? Vance McDonald? McDonald’s, Old MacDonald had a farm, Donald Duck, it don’t matter Brate in 6.
Blurgh. How am I supposed to make a sleeper pick in a wasteland? OK, fine! I have the perfect sleeper for you! The Browns offense has unsurprisingly been a coherent one since Baker Mayfield was named the starter. Among the beneficiaries of having a real QB run the offense, David Njoku appears to be the biggest winner. He’s now tallied 11/111 on 18 targets in Baker’s two starts, making him a TE1 already. Just kidding, but those numbers may as well be at a dead position. Njoku will get a fairly ugly match-up on paper, facing the #1 DVOA TE coverage unit that’s giving up the 11th fewest yards to opposing TEs. But hey, targets! You asked for a sleeper pick, damn it! This is the best I can do! Just play Brate already!