MadPicks.com will be bringing you the top Daily Fantasy options each week through the regular season and into the playoffs. We have a small sample size of which offenses look good to target and others we should avoid until further notice. As for who should be in your lineups, here are the top value plays of the week, with an eye toward low ownership and high upside.
Philip Rivers, Los Angeles Chargers at New England Patriots ($6,300 DK, $7,500 FD)
This is a sensational week to grab all the main pieces of the Chargers, as the Patriots will be without defensive stalwart Dont’a Hightower the rest of the season. The Chiefs, Saints and Texans blew up the Pats with Hightower off the field early in the season and Rivers will put the ball in the air plenty. He might be chalky because of his relatively cheap price tag, but that low price affords differentiating your lineups elsewhere. There is 30-point upside here in a potential shootout.
Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers ($6,600 DK, $7,800 FD)
Cam has been somewhat off his game the past two weeks, but the Buccaneers have been a get-well defense for quarterbacks, rivaling the Patriots as one of the league’s worst allowing points to QBs. Hopefully Newton’s interception binge the past two weeks keeps his ownership low, because his touchdown upside here is immense.
Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals vs. Indianapolis Colts ($5,700 DK, $7,600 FD)
The Colts are another dreadful defense and the Bengals will be looking to right the ship after a bad loss to the Steelers last week. Dalton gets John Ross back in the lineup this week, to go along with the rest of his passing weapons against a decimated secondary.
Josh McCown, New York Jets vs. Atlanta Falcons ($5,600 DK, $7,300 FD)
McCown had a pair of 25-point games in the past two weeks and it does not appear to be a fluke. The Falcons are reeling right now, having lost three in a row, and aren’t showing a lot of signs of pulling out of it. Maybe there would be some trepidation if the game were in Atlanta, but McCown at home for a team that still has postseason aspirations against a team in the full throes of a Super Bowl hangover is a nice recipe for success.
Discount Darling: C.J. Beathard, San Francisco 49ers at Philadelphia Eagles ($5,100 DK, $6,300 FD)
Let’s forget that dud last week and remember that the Eagles secondary is nothing special and points are on the table to be scored. Beathard does not need to do too much to justify his low salary, and he should be able to approach 15 points, especially if the 49ers fall way behind, which is likely.
Avoid: DeShaun Watson, Houston Texans at Seattle Seahawks ($6,400 DK, $,8000 FD)
This was a bad spot for Houston even before the team was plunged into turmoil by the owners’ comments this week. Maybe this episode will rally the Texans to deliver an inspired performance, but most likely the rookie quarterback facing the tough Seattle defense in a hostile environment will be too much to overcome for a team distracted by off-field rancor. Stay away from all Texans this week.
Also consider: Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints; Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders; Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks.
Melvin Gordon, Los Angeles Chargers at New England Patriots ($8,100 DK, $7,900 FD)
Gordon is listed as questionable, but is expected to play. He has a chance to run wild against the Hightower-less Patriots run defense. Let’s hope for some recency bias here after Gordon laid a 5-point egg against the Broncos last week. The two weeks before that he had 37 and 36 DK points, which is the range he is capable of reaching against the Pats.
Devonta Freeman, Atlanta Falcons at New York Jets ($7,200 DK, $8,000 FD)
Just imagine what Freeman could do if they actually gave him the ball. Freeman has been averaging six yards per carry the past two weeks, but only has 21 carries combined. The Falcons are desperate for a win and Freeman might be the best route to get them there. The hope here is they let Freeman drive the bus this week with 15-20 touches and a 100-yard game carries forth.
Christian McCaffrey, Carolina Panthers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers ($6,200 DK, $6,300 FD)
The way to attack the Bucs is through the air, and as long as the Panthers are passing, McCaffrey is going to have value. The rookie has 23 targets over the past two weeks and a double-digit game seems in the offing this week against the soft Bucs defense.
Alvin Kamara, New Orleans Saints vs. Chicago Bears ($5,900 DK, $6,400 FD)
Kamara’s 16 touches last week (9 rushing, 7 targets) were a season high. His role in the offense gets more defined with each passing week and his increase in carries has been a direct result of the Adrian Peterson trade. In a terrific home matchup with the Bears, Kamara has blow-up potential.
Discount Darling: Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals vs. Indianapolis Colts ($4,700 DK, $5,900 FD)
Mixon is the rookie version of Freeman. He averaged seven yards per carry last week, which was awesome, except he only got seven carries. If the Bengals play with a sizeable lead, as expected, perhaps Mixon can get into double figures, which might lead to triple figures in yards.
Avoid: Doug Martin, Buccaneers vs. Panthers ($5,400 DK, $6,500 FD)
Luke Kuechly is back, which makes an already tough Carolina run defense that much tougher. The Tampa passing game is viable, and maybe Martin can excel as a pass-catcher, but he is a risky proposition.
Also consider: LeSean McCoy, Buffalo Bills; Dion Lewis, New England Patriots; Marlon Mack, Indianapolis Colts.
Keenan Allen, Los Angeles Chargers at New England Patriots ($7,300 DK, $7,800 FD)
Clearly there is a trend to this article. All the Chargers! The smash potential is just so high with this capable offense against a defense that has struggled so badly this season and has lost a key piece to the puzzle. The Pats will likely sell out to stop Allen, but Rivers is not going to shy away from his top guy, so the targets are going to be there.
Kelvin Benjamin, Carolina Panthers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers ($6,400 DK, $6,600 FD)
All the Panthers! I think you can stack the Chargers and Panthers this week and enjoy the show. The Bucs pass defense is just as bad as New England’s and in particular against outside guys like Benjamin, who had 13 targets and nine catches against a similarly-challenged Eagles secondary two weeks ago.
Pierre Garcon, San Francisco 49ers at Philadelphia Eagles ($6,100 DK, $6,700 FD)
Did I mention the challenged Eagles secondary? Last week was a bummer for the 49ers, but this is a get-well spot for the passing game against a team poised for a letdown after a big win on Monday night against a division rival. If C.J. Beathard was able to recover physically and mentally from last week’s loss to Dallas, Garcon has a chance for a big game.
DeSean Jackson, Buccaneers vs. Panthers ($5,100 DK, $6,100 FD)
The Panthers get Luke Kuechly back this week, but he’s a linebacker, not a corner, and the Panthers have been vulnerable to the home-run ball, which makes Jackson an intriguing option and a nice pivot off teammate Mike Evans. Jackson has been averaging 14 DK points over the past three weeks, so he’s a nice salary saving option this week.
Discount Darling: Brandon LaFell, Cincinnati Bengals vs. Indianapolis Colts ($3,700 DK, $4,600 FD)
Talk about saving salary. Here’s what you need to know here: LaFell leads the team in red-zone targets and has 15 overall targets over the past two weeks. He is the legit No. 2 in a passing attack going up against one of the worst pass defenses in the league. John Ross’ return could complicate things a little, but not enough to dissuade plugging in this crazy-cheap option who needs only to deliver on one of those red-zone targets to pay off his salary.
Avoid: DeAndre Hopkins, Houston Texans at Seattle Seahawks ($7,500 DK, $8,000 FD)
It’s just way too hard to know where Hopkins’ head is after boycotting practice on Friday in the wake of disparaging comments made by the team’s owner. The whole team almost walked out, but Hopkins was the one who actually did it. This was already a huge challenge for a rookie quarterback on the road against this defense, but this new development makes all Texans players radioactive in fantasy this week.
Also consider: Amari Cooper, Oakland Raiders; Brandin Cooks, New England Patriots; Devin Funchess, Carolina Panthers.
Hunter Henry, Los Angeles Chargers at New England Patriots ($4,800 DK, $5,500 FD)
Yep, one more Charger. The Patriots allowed touchdowns to Coby Fleener and Ryan Griffin in Weeks 2 and 3, when Dont’a Hightower missed the entire game. Henry has been coming on strong the past three weeks. It’s a perfect storm of DFS goodness.
Jordan Reed, Washington vs. Dallas Cowboys ($4,700 DK, $6,100 FD)
Maybe the toe is feeling better. Reed shredded the Eagles on Monday night for eight catches and two touchdowns. The Cowboys are hardly a shutdown defense against the tight end position. Assuming Reed is still feeling good, he should be the prime passing option for Kirk Cousins on Sunday.
Jason Witten, Cowboys at Washington ($4,200 DK, $5,400 FD)
Don’t look now, but Witten is back to being a potent weapon in the Dallas machine. He had 10 targets against Green Bay in Week 5 and found the end zone with a nifty one-handed catch last week in San Francisco. Zach Ertz torched Washington on Monday night, so the opportunities should be there for Witten. He’s probably going to go overlooked, which is just what we want to happen.
Nick O’Leary, Buffalo Bills vs. Oakland Raiders ($3,100 DK, $4,900 FD)
O’Leary has been a serviceable replacement for Charles Clay in an offense that utilizes the tight end pretty much out of necessity. The Raiders have allowed some big games to the tight end position this season, so O’Leary should continue to put up nice numbers at a discount price.
Discount Darling: Tyler Kroft, Cincinnati Bengals vs. Indianapolis Colts ($3,000 DK, $5,700 FD)
Kroft found the end zone last week for the first time since his big breakout game in Week 4. The entire Bengals passing game is viable here, and Kroft offers a nice exposure at a low price.
Avoid: George Kittle, San Francisco 49ers at Philadelphia Eagles ($3,600 DK, $4,900 FD)
Kittle has curiously been phased out of the offense the past two weeks after his huge game in Indy. There doesn’t seem to be any apparent reason for it, but until we see Kittle back in the mix, he’s best to be avoided.
Also consider: Zach Ertz, Philadelphia Eagles; Jimmy Graham, Seattle Seahawks; Jared Cook, Oakland Raiders.
Philadelphia Eagles vs. San Francisco 49ers ($3,800 DK, $5,400 FD)
Cincinnati Bengals vs. Indianapolis Colts ($3,600 DK, $4,800 FD)
Seattle Seahawks vs. Houston Texans ($3,200 DK, $5,100 FD)
Buffalo Bills vs. Oakland Raiders ($2,900 DK, $4,600 FD)
Discount Darling: New York Jets vs. Atlanta Falcons ($2,200 DK, $4,300 FD)
Avoid: Falcons at Jets ($3,100 DK, $4,600 FD)