The chalk hit hard this past week.  I thought I was killing it in my DFS cash games before I realized that we need over 200 points to make money these days.  That just speaks to the insane offensive output we are seeing in today’s NFL.  Passing games and scoring is way up and we need to find every edge possible to come out on top.

Before we get into this week, I just want to reiterate that this is not a start/sit column.  I simply preview the games and give advice on what matchups should be exploitable and who I expect to have big games.  When I say that Davante Adams doesn’t have a great matchup this week, that doesn’t mean I think you need to bench him.  It just means that he might struggle this week, so I’m not expecting much from him.

Without any further ado, here are my favorite matchups and ones I am avoiding this week in fantasy football!  Best of luck to everyone in the upcoming week!

 

Colts at Patriots

From Manning vs. Brady to Deflategate.  This rivalry is always a fun one.  It should keep the exciting Thursday Night Football matchups going.

 

Favorite Matchups

Rob Gronkowski should be healthy enough to suit up in this game.  He left last week early against the Dolphins, but it was likely just as a precaution.  When he took his last snap his team was up 17-0 and was driving.  He walked off the field under his own power and didn’t even have a noticeable limp.  I think he’s fine.

 

Julian Edelman should man the slot for Chris Hogan and will see Quincy Wilson in the slot.  Wilson has played so poorly that he was a healthy scratch last week, but with Kenny Moore out with a concussion, he’ll be forced to play the slot.  He is giving up a 146.9 passer rating in coverage.

Nyheim Hines will see most of the snaps facing a negative game script.  He should rack up the targets with the Colts weapons looking barren.

We are starting to see a 2015-style Patriots backfield.  If they are a lock to win, we should play Sony Michel.  If they are probably going to win, we should play James White.  They are a lock to win in this one.

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Matchups to Avoid

Andrew Luck will be without T.Y. Hilton and Jack Doyle in this matchup.  His line is still banged up.  They are traveling on a short week and trying to take on the Pats in Foxborough.  I’ll pass.

I’m interested to see if Chris Hogan is completely droppable, or if he kicks Philip Dorsett to the bench.  Dorsett has seen more targets, but I really think Tom Brady hates him.  They never seem to be on the same page and Brady has that kind of pull in an offense.

 

Broncos at Jets

The Jets have cooled off considerably after Sam Darnold’s hot start to the season.  They’ll be back at home in this one after two tough road losses against the Browns and the Jaguars.  The Broncos are no pushover team on defense, but this game should be much more manageable for them.

 

Favorite Matchups

Buster Skrine has (attempted to) cover the slot for the Jets and has given up 20 receptions, 281 yards, and two touchdowns on the season.  He’ll be matched up with Emmanuel Sanders, who has dominated sub-par slot corners thus far.

Broncos tight end Jake Butt was lost for the season, leading to a spike in snaps and routes for tight end Jeff Heuerman.  He had four receptions for 57 yards against the Chiefs on Monday night and could be a super cheap guy to plug in if you’re desperate and could see even more work if the perimeter receivers keep struggling for Denver.

The Jets have given up five total touchdowns to opposing running backs on the year.  The Broncos duo of running backs have evolved into quite the one-two punch.  I would feel good about starting either of them.

 

Matchups to Avoid

Quincy Enunwa will always be a high-floor player because of his solid target share and 50 percent slot rate.  This allowed him to avoid A.J. Bouye and Jalen Ramsey last week, but it will put him up against Chris Harris in this game.  He’ll probably get to 10 PPR points on volume, but I would be concerned with his ceiling.

Sam Darnold’s top weapon will likely be taken away in this game.  Couple that with the pressure he’ll be facing from the Broncos pass rush and this adds up to a matchup to avoid in fantasy.

 

Packers at Lions

This might be the shootout to target in DFS for this week.  There are very defined target distributions on both teams and injuries to Randall Cobb and Geronimoooooooo Allison could lead to some super cheap guys getting solid targets.

 

Favorite Matchups

The Packers have been very beatable on the edge and the Lions have two studs out there.  Marvin Jones has a history of dominating the Packers and has 10 end zone targets on the year, second in the NFL among receivers.  He is also under $5000 on Draft Kings.

Golden Tate was noticeably slow and still managed 132 yards and two touchdowns on eight catches.  His 26 percent target share gives him a massive floor and his always-elite yards-after-the-catch ability gives him a great ceiling.

The Lions are struggling in run defense, giving up over 6.0 yards per carry to start the year.  You know who just averaged over 6.0 yards per carry last week?  Packers running back Aaron JonesAaron Rodgers has publicly touted his skills and what he brings to that offense.  I think he completely takes over the backfield this week.

The Lions slot corner Jamal Agnew has allowed an 87.5 percent catch rate and is giving up an almost-perfect 149.5 passer rating when targeted.  I think Packers wide receiver Marques Valdes-Scantling will take over the slot duties for the injured Cobb and be a big part of the game plan.

 

Matchups to Avoid

Davante Adams will be squaring off with Big Play Darius Slay.  He has been one of the true shut-down corners of 2018 and will travel with Adams, who has only gone to the slot on 11 percent of his snaps.  Adams always has touchdown upside, but he hasn’t exceeded 79 yards receiving in seven career games against the Lions.

 

Giants at Panthers

The Panthers have had an extra week to prepare for this game while the Giants just got boat raced by the Saints.  I think SuperCam puts the team on his back.

Favorite Matchups

Alvin Kamara just piled up the yards in the second half of the Saints-Giants game.  Christian McCaffrey is the closest thing to Kamara that any team in the NFL can get with his pass catching ability and big-play upside.  McCaffrey also just saw 28 carries before his bye week solidifying his role as the bell cow that the Panthers want.  He should have a massive game.

Guess who has given up the most rushing yards to opposing quarterbacks on the year?  I hope you didn’t guess the Panthers because there is no way this is a plus matchup for Eli Manning.  That’s right, the Giants have given up a league-high 150 rushing yards to opposing quarterbacks, and it’s not like they’ve played against vintage Mike Vick.  Cam Newton has a very high floor and an infinite ceiling in this game.

The Panthers are giving up over 5.0 yards per carry to opposing running backs and Pat Shurmur said he wants to get Saquon Barkley more carries.  He has scored over 20 fantasy points in every game this season and could be in line for a bigger workload.

 

Matchups to Avoid

Odell Beckham was shut down by Marshon Lattimore in the first half of the game.  James Bradberry and Donte Jackson have become a solid bookend duo for the Carolina Panthers, combining for four interceptions and giving up just one touchdown.  Odell is notoriously “cornerback immune” though, so maybe he catches his first touchdown of the season?

Eli Apple and Co. have been liabilities for the Giants as second cornerbacks.  The only problem is that we don’t really know who the second receiver is for the Panthers.  First-round rookie D.J. Moore isn’t seeing the field enough to warrant fantasy football consideration and journeyman Jarius Wright has only seen 13 targets on the year.  Neither of these guys can be trusted despite the solid matchup.

 

Titans at Bills

Marcus Mariota is throwing the most effective ducks I have ever seen.  He is clearly not fully back from the nerve damage that is giving him grip issues, but he was able to connect on enough balls to defeat the Super Bowl champions.

 

Favorite Matchups

This has to be the game where Derrick Henry reestablishes himself as a dominant runner in the league.  Total gut call, but I feel like the Titans get up big and then lean on him in the second half where he routinely breaks a 50-yard touchdown to ice the game.  This might be one of his only usable weeks in fantasy.

Dion Lewis also provides plenty of fantasy value in this game.  He caught nine passes against a stout Eagles defense and now faces the Bills who have given up 29 receptions to running backs, fifth-most in the NFL.

The Titans have given up the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers and Josh Allen has attempted the highest percentage of throws traveling 20+ yards in the NFL.  Maybe Kelvin Benjamin could be useful this week.  Probably not, but I wouldn’t mind playing him if I needed to.

Taywan Taylor didn’t necessarily become a focal point of the offense, but he did see the second-most snaps and routes of the Titans wide receivers with Rishard Matthews officially being released.  With Corey Davis locked up with Tre White, I could see the Titans orchestrating plays for Taylor.

 

Matchups to Avoid

Tre White shut down Stefon Diggs two weeks ago and then limited Davante Adams when covering him.  Corey Davis finally had his massive breakout game against the Eagles, but I think his follow-up performance will be a dud.

The Titans have yet to give up a score to a running back and give up the fifth-fewest fantasy points to the position.  I was very high on LeSean McCoy last week, but he confirmed that he is a borderline-unusable fantasy asset until further notice.

 

Falcons at Steelers

Another day, another massive over/under involving the Falcons.  This game might set records in scoring, which obviously means we should all want a piece of it.

 

Favorite Matchups

Antonio Brown should dominate the Falcons cornerbacks.  Desmond Trufant actually kicked inside on Tyler Boyd for a big chunk of last week, leaving Robert Alford on the perimeter to try to handle A.J. Green.  If that happens again this week, Brown will impose his will on Alford.

Julio Jones quietly paces the NFL in receiving yards with 502.  All the talk is about Calvin Ridley and his six touchdowns, but Julio is still the top-dog in Atlanta and it isn’t close.  The Steelers have given up the second-most fantasy points to wide receivers so far.

James Conner has not been good since week 1.  But the Falcons have been bad against running backs since week 1 of 2015.  I’m riding Conner in this game and hoping he stays involved in the passing game.

These quarterbacks are going to wreck your fantasy box scores.  Just pray you aren’t playing one of them.

 

Matchups to Avoid

Imagine saying to avoid Calvin Ridley.  Yet here I am.  Ridley hasn’t played more than 64 percent of the Falcons snaps and has a 15 percent target share.  His production has come on chunk plays against awful secondaries that were focused on the elite wide receiver standing next to him.  He’ll probably have a nice game against the Steelers, but six touchdowns in three games?  C’mon.

Word on the street is that Devonta Freeman will play in this game.  This is awful for fantasy football.  They’ll revert back to a 60-40 split, with Coleman likely ahead of Freeman, and everyone’s fantasy stock will decline.  In addition to that, the Steelers defense can only seem to limit opposing running backs.  They give up less than 4.0 yards per carry and the second-fewest receiving yards to the position on the year (which would be first if Carolina had played more than three games).

 

Ravens at Browns

The Ravens offense has been completely transformed with its new weapons.  Joe Flacco is almost elite Joe Flacco again.  The Browns single win was a great story, but they aren’t getting one this week.

 

Favorite Matchups

John Brown’s deep skill set is the perfect fit for Joe Flacco.  He hasn’t had a guy like this since his Super Bowl run.  The Browns also just got torched by Derek Carr and Amari Cooper.  He’s the best Brown in the AFC North and is a great play.

Jimmy Smith returns from suspension this week, but Jarvis Landry still plays over 60 percent out of the slot.  Looking at last year’s numbers, Smith traveled to the slot on 3 percent of his plays.  Landry will avoid him and feast on Tavon Young, who is giving up a 141.7 passer rating in his coverage per thequantedge.com.

Alex Collins has now fumbled multiple times at the goal line and cost his team scores.  We have seen Buck Allen as the preferred goal line back in recent years, and I think he takes over that job.  Allen is honestly the better fantasy back from this point on.  He’s the one involved in the passing game and he’ll be getting the red zone touches.  He is a solid play against the Browns.

 

Matchups to Avoid

Everyone will probably be on Baker Mayfield, but his team is still too committed to the run game.  His team needs to open up the playbook and put the entire offense on his shoulders because he is just that good.  This is a tough matchup with the Ravens with their pass rush and now they get cornerback Jimmy Smith back from suspension.

 

Dolphins at Bengals

I didn’t mention it last week, but Ryan Tannehill had a 9 percent touchdown rate on the year before playing the Patriots.  That was the same as Deshaun Watson and greater than Carson Wentz last season.  Regression didn’t even wait until the end of the season to hit him hard, as he completely flopped against the Patriots and didn’t even score a fantasy point.

 

Favorite Matchups

The Bengals have been weak at slot cornerback with Darqueze DennardWilliam Jackson and Dre Kirkpatrick have performed well on the outside, so I think the targets will funnel to the inside.  Now that basically leaves us with three options, as Danny Amendola plays 80 percent of his snaps out of the slot, Kenny Stills plays 28 percent, and Albert Wilson plays about 40 percent.  I would bank on Stills to be the one that shines in this contest.  He is the most explosive playmaker they have in that offense.

This lines up as another great play for Tyler Boyd.  A.J. Green will be up against shutdown corner Xavien Howard, while Boyd will be against Bobby McCain’s replacement, Torry McTyler.  We haven’t seen much from him, but I’m going to assume that Andy Dalton will test him early and often with how hot Tyler Boyd has been.

Assuming Joe Mixon is healthy, I think he’ll slide right back into his workhorse role.  Giovanni Bernard hasn’t practiced and Mixon has practiced in full.  The Miami defense was sliced and diced by the Patriots running backs last week, and Mixon is a better talent than both of them.

 

Matchups to Avoid

A.J. Green will have his hands full with Xavien Howard in this game.  He is still an elite receiver and his quarterback is red hot, but I would avoid the matchup.

Kenyan Drake was out-snapped by Frank Gore last week despite being in a major deficit for a majority of the game.  Drake’s every-down role that we hoped for the summer was clearly blown out of proportion.  You just can’t trust his workload.

 

Jaguars at Chiefs

This will be one of those “unstoppable force against an immovable object” type of games.

 

Favorite Matchups

Leonard Fournette will miss this game, giving Blake Bortles the opportunity to sling it as many times as he wants.  He has sneaky athleticism and his rushing gives him a solid floor.  Plus, the Chiefs defense is the most exploitable matchup you could ask for.

 

Tyreek Hill is really fast.  Jalen Ramsey thinks he can press him to jam him up at the line.  Jalen Ramsey also gives up a 143.5 passer rating when playing man coverage giving up 100 yards and a score on nine targets.  Ramsey may be the best corner in the game, but this will be a spot where you can get the most explosive receiver in the NFL at incredibly low ownership in DFS.  I’m not afraid of this matchup.

Chris Conley will avoid both A.J. Bouye and Jalen Ramsey with his 60 percent slot rate.  With Sammy Watkins likely out for this game with a hamstring injury, Conley will see an inflated target share and should have a good matchup with D.J. Hayden.

The Chiefs give up the third-most receiving production to opposing running backs.  With Fournette out of the game, I could see T.J. Yeldon having a massive game.  Maybe even take a flier on Corey Grant.

 

Matchups to Avoid

I’ve been on the Kareem Hunt bandwagon the last two weeks and it has worked out, but this will be one of the most difficult matchups for him.  I honestly think this game turns into a shootout despite the Jaguars defense being so dominant.  The Chiefs just have too many weapons and I would be comfortable starting all of them.  Hunt would just rank near my bottom of them.

 

Raiders at Chargers

The absence of Joey Bosa has turned this top-10 defense into a target in fantasy football.

 

Favorite Matchups

Amari Cooper just laughed at my fantasy article as he racked up over 130 receiving yards and a touchdown in his overtime win against the Browns.  Casey Heyward is an elite player, but without the defensive line generating any pressure, it’s difficult to cover receivers for more than 10 seconds.

Melvin Gordon continues to see massive receiving production and has been efficient on the ground to start the season.  I don’t mean to brag, but I was laughed at when I wrote an article on how Melvin Gordon would be a top-3 running back in fantasy.  The Raiders give up over 5.0 yards per carry and the Chargers should be ahead in this game.

I’m praying that Keenan Allen can take a step forward.  I was hammering him all summer long in my best ball drafts and he hasn’t been the guy I thought so far.  He has another insanely good matchup at home against a division rival.  Please play well.

 

Matchups to Avoid

Jared Cook is enjoying his eighth-year breakout campaign, but it might sputter against the Chargers.  They have held opposing tight ends to a less-than-60 percent catch rate and have only ceded one touchdown on the year.

 

Cowboys at Texans

Deshaun Watson regressed hard but is still averaging over 25 points per game.  He is the gunslinger that the NFL wants and needs, but even he can’t save Bill O’Brien’s job.

 

Favorite Matchups

Lamar Miller was supposed to be a high-floor play last week.  He scored four fantasy points.  I continue to be amazed at how bad he is despite his volume.  I’m going back to the Miller Train again, mainly because Sean Lee should be out.

Keke Coutee just won an award for best name.  He has also won an increased target share from one of the most productive quarterbacks in the NFL.  With Will Fuller out, Coutee was thrust into the lineup and caught 11 balls on 15 targets for 109 yards.  The Cowboys have a decent secondary, but he seems to be a 1-for-1 replacement for Fuller while he nurses that hamstring injury.

Dak Prescott is the worst quarterback in football, but the Texans have only forced one interception on the year.  I think he’ll be able to dink and dunk his way down the field to sustain drives and then have some cheap rushing touchdowns on zone-reads when they get near the goal line.

 

Matchups to Avoid

The Texans have done a good job at limited opposing running backs, giving up only one rushing touchdown on the season.  Ezekiel Elliot’s passing game usage is still limited to just screens, but he took one to the house last week.  I would avoid the matchup, but his volume will probably put him at 20 fantasy points regardless.

Until Dez Bryant signs back with the Cowboys, the receivers can’t be relied upon.  Deonte Thompson was leading the team in targets at one point.  Now it’s Cole Beasley.  This weekend it might be someone new.  Nobody really knows.

 

Redskins at Saints

I was at the Superdome for this matchup last season.  It was one of the most amazing comebacks I’ve ever seen.  Now Washington is back for revenge.

 

Favorite Matchups

We just saw the final week of Alvin Kamara’s bell cow role and he went out with a bang to the tune of 40 fantasy points.  Mark Ingram will step in and take some carries away, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Kamara gets even more work as a receiver now.  Neither Cameron Meredith or Tre’Quan Smith have stepped up in the slot, so the Saints could easily just put Kamara in there with Ingram in the backfield.

Here’s a fun fact: In week 11 against the Washington Redskins last season, Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara combined for just under 50 fantasy points and finished as the #2 and #3 running backs that week.

Jamison Crowder will be playing out of the slot where Sterling Shepard just caught 10 balls for 77 yards and a touchdown.

Drew Brees at home in primetime is all you need to know.

 

Matchups to Avoid

I can’t see Adrian Peterson doing much in this game.  I understand the whole “revenge game” narrative, but Chris Thompson will be on the field for a majority of the snaps.  He dominated the Saints last year until breaking his leg midway through the game.

 

Like always, thanks for reading!  I’m very pleased with how most of my predictions have been turning out this year.  Fantasy football has so much variance that I have to celebrate all my small victories.  Be sure to follow me on Twitter @jtaysmith16 and let me know if you have any feedback.

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