NFL DFS Week 7 Picks
Bye weeks. London. The dreaded two-headed monster that dilutes the player pool to the point where ownership may become heavily concentrated. Alas, we must forge on and continue to find the elusive DFS edge in figuring out player projections. The DailyRoto optimizer has quite frankly been on fire all season with projections, but the main issue for many has been simply lineup constructions. Maybe you had plenty of Melvin Gordon last week but only paired him with duds like Jarvis Landry or T.J. Yeldon instead of spreading it out a little bit more. That’s okay, as long as you learned your lesson. Lineup constructions continue to be the most important part of having consistent lineups that either cash or place high in GPPs. As the season rolls on, the optimizer gets stronger, smarter, and more self-aware. So before it finally snaps and kills the entire human civilization, be sure to check out all the valuable information that gets updated daily. Or else.
The Jets defense is starting to get riddled with injuries, making Kirk Cousins a legitimate top play for the week. The Jets currently have their best CB, best interior DL, and their nickel CB all banged up with missed practices. Some may recover by Sunday, some may not, but it’ll still be a banged up secondary regardless. Cousins has been rather consistent all season long thanks to the elite play of his receiving group, with Adam Thielen once again tallying a 100+ yard day for the sixth consecutive week. Diggs and Rudolph round out his receiving corps, but the most important that should boost Cousins value is the likely return of star RB Dalvin Cook, bolstering an already surprisingly potent play-action game. The Jets have given up the 10th most passing yards and are tied with three others for 9th most passing touchdowns given up. The Vikings ran a 54/46 pass/run split against the Cardinals’ woeful run defense last week, but those numbers should shoot back up to their usual high percentage passing as is customary of the Vikings on the road. It’s a no-brainer play with a scorching Thielen and a Jets defense that may end up starting 4th stringers.
Jared Goff pops as the best QB play of the week in the optimizer, which is no surprise after Aaron Rodgers was able to chuck up 400+ yards on the 49ers defense during MNF. Despite missing Cooper Kupp for the game, the Rams have a dearth of weapons available at Goff’s disposal that should keep the Rams running the 11 personnel at a 95% clip (most in NFL). It’s a 49ers defense that just can’t seem to stay healthy and keep talented DBs on the field, forcing a revolving door at CB/S that makes it difficult for the defense to communicate. The Rams have done an excellent job at playing to their strengths, attacking opposing defenses’ weaknesses/glaring holes as evidenced by a big 200 yard Gurley day against a bottom tier Broncos run defense. The 49ers have been a pass-funnel defense, ranking 26th DVOA for their pass defense but 11th versus the run while giving up the 9th most offensive plays per game. Opponents have been throwing at the third-highest rate against the 49ers, mostly due to the aforementioned injuries to the secondary that has allowed teams to attack vertically with minimal resistance. Sounds like an easy dunk for Goff, unless Gurley just runs for 300 out of nowhere. Very possible, but Goff should still be relatively safe as a top play.
There’s plenty of good value options at QB for the week, with players like Matt Stafford, HAM Cam Newton, and even the likely popular pick C.J. Beathard continuing to double/triple his price point. However, I am rather partial to the Baker Mayfield show against the lowly Bucs defense. Some may be off Baker this week due to a poor performance last week, but he wasn’t fully healthy all game after battling the vaunted First Down Marker Monster early on. It’s still a promising fantasy match-up against the worst ranked pass defense that may end up having their best DL in Gerald McCoy missing the game. The Browns currently operate at the second-fastest pace with the second most offensive plays as well, helping boost their overall snap count against any opponent. The Buccaneers have given up the 2nd most passing yards and tied for the most passing TDs given up despite only allowing the 15th most offensive plays per game. That means their pass defense is so bad, opposing offenses simply shred them apart in no time and rarely need long, grinding drives to do so. Mayfield may not pop on the optimizer or get heavily touted, but he’s a bonafide value play with great upside in a potential shoot-out against Famous Jameis Winston.
I will continue to bang the table for MIGHTY Joe Flacco and his ridiculous 44 pass attempts per game average. I don’t care about the Saints defense giving up the 7th fewest plays or that they shut down Alex Smith’s water-gun. The Ravens are running the most offensive snaps per game, face the number one ranked DVOA run defense, and pass significantly more on the road compared to at home (56/63 home/road pass split). The Saints had a bye week yet still own the 3rd worst ranked pass defense, despite a strong defensive showing against the Redskins. Point blank, The Ravens are going to have to pass it all game, and that’s something Flacco has consistently done all season – even if it all combined for some lackluster numbers. The match-up is there, the price is there, the attempts are there, and the low ownership is there ALL FOR THE TAKING! As a matter of fact, the optimizer has Flacco as the 4th best QB value on the main slate, proving my crazy theory may end up being true. Wacco Flacco gonna smacco the Saints-co! Gun ’em in!
Todd Gurley II has been damn near unstoppable all season long, even when he gets way under 100+ yards rushing. It’s due to his insanely high red zone/TD equity, leading the NFL (or rather, lapping) in red zone opportunities (48), 2nd most RZ market share (53%), most RZ carries (37!), most RZ touchdowns (11), and even is tied for 7th most red zone targets. The Rams absolutely love Gurley in the red zone, and those numbers figure to stick as long as Gurley converts at a high rate. For that reason alone, Gurley should be played regardless of his price point or the match-up as the Rams offense is so powerful they can hit the red zone without Gurley even sniffing 50 total yards. They can then simply hand it off to their touchdown machine, keeping Gurley at possibly the highest floor among all RBs.
With all of that said, let’s try to find some better plays at their price points than Gurley. Ezekiel Elliot seems to be the best secondary option, and the optimizer agrees with the 2nd best-projected points and value among FanDuel/DraftKings RB options. He’ll be facing a Redskins run defense that’s starting to wilt away, plummeting to the 3rd worst DVOA ranked run defense after a promising start. The Cowboys are coming off a dominant performance over the Jaguars, with Zeke gashing the elite Jags defense for 100+ rushing yards and a TD. The Cowboys knows what butters their bread, running at the 3rd highest rate and letting the clock drip down as much as possible. The Redskins may have some elite looking rush defense numbers with the 4th fewest rushing yards allowed, but they’ve consistently graded poorly against the run and have only come away unscathed due to blown game scripts or badly executed game plans (cough, Panthers, cough). Teams have ran at the eighth highest percentage against the Redskins, yet the defense has only faced the second fewest rushing attempts. Strange, right? The Cowboys are unlikely to divert away from a run-heavy game plan, putting Zeke firmly ahead among the rest of the herd. Get your spoons ready!
There are plenty of secondary value plays on the slate, but very few look appetizing as a core to build line-ups around. Powell has to play the Crowell injury game once more, Kenyan Drake has a great match-up but grizzled veteran Frank Gore looms large behind him, and Breida suddenly has Mostert competing for carries in a potentially high volume match-up. You could always go with the dependable workload of Sony Michel and his tied for 2nd most red zone carries, but the lack of pass work limits his reliability on DratKings. Carlos Hyde has a decent match-up if Gerald McCoy ends up missing time, with the passing attack likely allowing the Browns to find the red zone more often than not. He’s still got a hefty RZ market share (45%) with 17 carries (tied for 3rd most) at a very good price point.
A sneaky value play could be Marlon Mack, coming off a 12 carry 89 yards performance that was by far the best rushing game of the Colts season. He only played on 24 offensive snaps but if you look further into the snap counts, you’ll notice that Mack not only out-touched Nyheim Hines but actually out-snapped him in the second half. Robert Turbin was eating up snaps as well, with 13 collected snaps before he exited with a shoulder injury. He is not expected to play on Sunday, boosting Mack’s role further. It’s still a relatively nut-low match-up against a surging Bills defense that has skyrocketed to the 3rd best DVOA overall ranking. Still, an increased workload behind the fastest paced offense at a low price point certainly doesn’t hurt. On a slate with limited true bell cow options, Mack may end up being the best bang for your buck.
On the other side of that Marlon Mack match-up resides the frozen body of LeSean McCoy, regulated to being the battering ram of an inefficient, abysmal Bills offense. That has still led to a voluminous workload for the elder McCoy, gathering 45 touches in the past two games and turning it into 202 total offensive yards but no touchdowns. McCoy’s lack of touchdowns (zero all season) obviously keeps him from ever being a real viable option in cash line-ups, but the increasing dependency on McCoy to thrust their offense forward away from the incomprehensible decision making of whoever the current QB is. Derek Anderson is now the new Bills QB, which can only mean even more touches for McCoy against the Colts. Could that turn into a good thing? Maybe, maybe not. As the kind people of DailyRoto would tell you, volume is king. The Colts play at a high pace and will (hopefully) force the Bills to follow suit, and if Derek Anderson can muster up a few check-downs while leading the Bills offense more efficiently that his predecessors, then perhaps McCoy could end up breaking his TD drought. Perhaps Peterman will come to the rescue once more and toss a few picks for his troubles. Poor Bills. What a dumpster fire.
Both Robert Woods and Brandin Cooks should have the most exploitable match-ups among WRs this week, facing a 49ers secondary that may end up with 4th and 5th stringers at cornerbacks. Thus far this season, Richard Sherman has been targeted only 10 times, giving up a 2/28 line with a 39.6 passer rating (lowest among qualified CBs). QBs simply do not throw his way, which leaves the rest of the field for easy pickings. That means incumbent slot receiver in Woods (38% in slot for the season) and Cooks (54% of snaps on other side of Sherman) will likely be the concentrated targets for Goff. With Kupp out, the already high slot snaps for Woods should increase, which may explain why he now pops as the best overall WR play on the slate. Cooks isn’t too far behind though, with his big play potential and essentially playing the Davante Adams role to give a good comparison. Both also have high yards per route run and air yards, hovering at above 2.5 YPRR and 10+ air yards per target. Big numbers. The Rams stack is an extremely viable strategy this week as they should torch a vulnerable secondary that may be forced to play MNF scapegoat Greg Mabin once more. Delicious.
With Higgins still injured and likely out, Antonio Callaway should continue to see full snaps as the #2 WR. He’s still at a discounted price and should have another high volume target day, regardless of how unlucky the Landry/Callaway duo were last week. Callaway is still averaging eight targets per game over the last four games and has an extremely favorable match-up against a dead last Bucs pass defense. If Callaway is still on your blacklist after last week’s 2/9/0 performance, then check out my other favorite value play in Jermaine Kearse. With Quincy Enunwa already ruled out, Kearse’s workload has suddenly skyrocketed as the de-facto slot WR. Robby Anderson is also dealing with a hammy injury and has to yet practice, furthering the narrative on a Kearse smash day. Let’s look at his match-up first before we jump to conclusions.
Since returning full-time to the Jets line-up in Week 4, Kearse has seen his slot snaps rise to 78% on the season and his snap count percentage steadily rise every week. He’s collected 19 targets in that span, with his best game coming last week after Enunwa left the game with an ankle injury (9/94/0 on 10 targets). He’ll be facing a Vikings defense that just lost its primary nickelback in Mike Hughes to a torn ACL. That puts Mackensie Alexander as the new nickel, and that appeared to go very badly for the Vikings. Alexander surrendered 7 catches for 77 yards on 10 targets after replacing Hughes in the line-up. Seems like a pretty good exploitable match-up for Kearse who may end up having to shoulder the load at WR with multiple injuries to the Jets’ current receiving corps.
While this won’t be a sexy pick, I’m mostly going by valuable match-ups and a battle of trenches that could force more targets towards his way. Who am I talking about? Devin Funchess, of course! How could you not guess that? Funchess has been the most consistent WR for Newton not named Christian McCaffrey, hauling in 20 of his 31 targets for a combined 271 yards and two TDs. Respectable numbers in a run-first offense (56/44 pass/run split), but the Panthers will be facing a ferocious Eagles front that could be too physical for the Panthers OL to handle. While the Eagles grade decently well in both pass and run defense, they’ve often turned into a pass-funnel defense in match-ups against strong rushing offenses. It’s why both starting Philly CBs get targeted so heavily, with Darby being the most targeted CB in the NFL (54) and Jalen Mills not too far behind (41). As a duo, they have combined to give up 59/750/3 on 95 targets. Funchess should see nearly 100% of his coverage in between those two CBs, so if Newton can handle the Philly pass rush then he very well could hand Funchess his first 100 yard day of the season. It’s more of a gut-feeling based on how Philly has generally attacked run-first teams and the soft coverage of both starting Eagles cornerbacks. Maybe McCaffrey still runs all over the Eagles and lowers Funchess’ ceiling, but more than likely the Panthers will have to win the game through the air.
Yet another week to ponder whether or not to spend up at TE for an elite workload. Ertz has been the best TE this season, ranking 1st in nearly every category with the highest price point. Feels gross to me. Sure, he’s basically the WR1 for the Eagles and is super reliable, but blehhhhhhhhh. 7,100 on DraftKings? WHEW! What about Gronk? Bears defense? Urgh. Why can’t they just give us 2011 Gronkowski once more? Even Njoku has risen into the high tier! WHAT CAN WE DO? Well, the honest answer is pick between paying up for Ertz or pick your poison among the upside TEs a tier below such as Njoku, Kittle, Reed, and good ol’ Ebron. I personally don’t have a top TE play for the week, as I’ll likely punt the position and pepper in some Njoku/Ebron shares simply due to volume/match-ups. I don’t feel too great about the current TE prices, but it is what it is. Eliminate the position just like the kickers! START THE PETITION!
I mean, come on. You expect me to tell you which bare minimum price player is worth playing? Really? Okay, then. Kyle Rudolph is one of the more consistent TEs that actually isn’t priced too badly and will always maintain a solid TD equity on a high-volume passing offense. Outside of him? Yuck. O.J. Howard came back from a sprained MCL last week and seemed to show no ill effects from the injury, dunking on the Falcons for 4/62/1. It was still around a 60/40 split between Howard and Brate, but I imagine Howard should clear 70% of the team’s snaps going forward. Good enough for me in a shoot-out.
Other options? Yeah, right! Howard and Rudolph are likely your best mid to low tier options! Bugger off! Cough, Geoff Swaim isn’t a bad option either if you can stomach a potential two target game with minimal yards. After all, he was averaging five targets a game before last week’s dud. He had combined for 141 yards and a touchdown in that span, which would equate into elite numbers at his current price on FD/DK. It’s not a great match-up for him, as the Redskins have only allowed the 5th fewest yards to opposing TEs. Hey, I didn’t say it’ll be all sunshine and flowers! You take what you can get at TE!
Guess which teams have given up the most touchdowns to opposing TEs? Houston, New England, and Chicago have all given up 4 touchdowns on the season. Now before you start clamoring for more Gronk in your line-ups, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the Bears also have allowed the 3rd fewest yards to opposing TEs. Womp, womp. Good news is the Pats are near the top 10 in yards given up, which makes Trey Burton an appealing option in an offense that’s made up some really creative plays to get Burton into space and into the end zone. Nagy is a big proponent of the U role for the TE, a role Travis Kelce played for him last year to raving success. It is essentially a WR/TE hybrid that allows the U (Burton) to move around freely in the offense, something the Bears have mostly done near the red zone. Still, eventually, Nagy has to open up the playbook and let Burton loose with all of his athletic potential. The Pats game could the perfect opportunity to unveil that potential since he’ll be able to take advantage of slower linebackers like Kyle Van Noy, or physically dominate much maligned nickelback Jonathan Joseph and his 5’9” stature. This feels like a game where the Bears will have to attack the middle of the Patriots defense since they don’t have a Tyreek Hill to blow the top of the offense (No, Gabriel is not a Tyreek Hill). Just another gut call but as I keep saying, the TE position is just an utter wasteland. You have to throw darts at this point of the season. Burton’s a very sharp dart.