Originally posted: November 29, 2017
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After veering from the normal Thur/Sun/Mon lineup building last week in favor of cover the popular three-game Turkey Day slate, it’s back to normal this week. None of this week’s Thursday Night Football game participants cracked the lineup below, but one of Pittsburgh’s studs from the Monday Night Football game did.
A four-player stack from the same team comprises the backbone of the team, and one of those “players” is a high-priced, high-upside defense. I also swerve from the bargain bin at kicker this week and reached the top of the heap to pluck this roster’s selection.
Philip Rivers (LAC): $8,000 vs. Browns
Cleveland features one of the better run defenses and ranks second in run defense DVOA, per Football Outsiders (FO). Their stellar run defense is undermined by their awful pass defense that ranks 27th in DVOA. The Chargers should attack them through the air, and with Rivers locked in of late and coming off of carving up the Cowboys on Thanksgiving like a turkey — sorry, not sorry — for 434 yards and three touchdown tosses, there’s little reason to believe they won’t.
Rivers has thrown multiple touchdown passes in three straight games, in four of his last five games, and in six of his last eight. Since tossing just three touchdowns against four interceptions in his first three games of the year, he’s rattled off 17 touchdown passes compared to only three picks.
The Browns are tied for the eighth most FanDuel points allowed per game to quarterbacks, and the Chargers have an implied team over/under total of 28.25 points, per Pinnacle. Both the matchup and total support using Rivers.
Le’Veon Bell (PIT): $9,400 @ Bengals
Bell narrowly missed a 100/100 game in the bright lights of the Sunday Night Football game last week rushing for 95 yards and hauling in 12 passes for 88 yards. Even without reaching pay dirt, he totaled 22.3 FanDuel points. Bell’s far and away the biggest workhorse in the game with 313 touches this season — no one else has even cracked 250 touches.
Predictably, he also leads the way in yards from scrimmage with 1,377. In Week 7 at home against the Bengals, he rushed 35 for 134 yards and caught all three of his targets for 58 yards. Heavy workloads are the norm for Bell, but Ben Roethlisberger’s road struggles enhance the likelihood of Bell being force fed the ball at an insane rate.
The dual-threat back is often busy through the air, and this week’s matchup sets up nicely for him since the Bengals are tied for the second most receptions (68) allowed to backs this year. The Steelers are 5.5-point favorites with an implied team over/under total of 24.5 points, and Bell’s well worth paying the highest salary in the player pool to roster.
Marshawn Lynch (OAK): $6,200 vs. Giants
The Raiders lost Michael Crabtree early last week to an ejection, and he’s serving a one-game suspension this week. Amari Cooper was also knocked out of the game in the first half when he suffered a concussion. He’s in the concussion protocol. Without Crabtree and Cooper, Lynch was thrust into his heaviest workload of the year.
Lynch played a season-high 47 offensive snaps and set single-game highs for the year in rushes (26) and yards from scrimmage (111). The stout run defense of the Broncos held Lynch to only 67 yards rushing at 2.58 yards per carry, but he bolstered his yards from scrimmage total with three receptions for 44 yards. Lynch also punched in a score on the ground.
After drawing a tough matchup last week, he gets a favorable this week. FO ranks the Giants 25th in run defense, and they’ve allowed the third most rushing yards (1,225) to running backs this year, per Pro-Football-Reference. The Raiders have moved to 9.5-point favorites in the aftermath of Eli Manning being replaced at starting quarterback by Geno Smith, and the game script should be ideal for Lynch toting the rock a bunch again this week.
Keenan Allen (LAC): $8,100 vs. Browns
Allen has blown up in his last two games. Over the last two weeks, he’s hauled in 23 of 27 targets for 331 yards receiving and three scores. Jason McCourty grades out as the sixth-best cornerback at Pro Football Focus (PFF) and frequently plays shadow coverage, but PFF doesn’t show McCourty following Allen into the slot in three-receiver sets. Cleveland’s slot corner Briean Boddy-Calhoun is no slouch earning the 18th best grade at corner at PFF, but he represents a better matchup for Allen and cedes three inches to the taller wideout. PlayerProfiler.com credits Allen with running 36.5% of his snaps from the slot, so Allen should see some of McCourty when he lines up outside, but Allen’s excellence paired with his volume of targets makes him a matchup-proof stud with a sky-high ceiling.
Brandin Cooks (NE): $7,600 @ Bills
Cooks has been on a tear with Chris Hogan out, and with no news on Hogan’s injury, my assumption this early in the week is that he’s unlikely to go. If Hogan begins practicing this week and trending in the right direction, Cooks is still a fine play but one who’s a bit less exciting. Getting back to Cooks’ performance in Hogan’s absence, the former Saint has hauled in 18 of 27 targets for 306 yards receiving and two touchdowns in three games.
Rarely utilized in the red zone earlier in the year with Hogan healthy, Cooks’ red zone targets have jumped from three through eight games to seven through 11 games, according to Lineups.com. Cooks has at least one red zone target in each of the last three games. Cooks is also fully capable of using his blazing speed to rip off a long touchdown.
The Patriots are 7.5-point favorites in Buffalo this weekend, and their implied team over/under total is 28 points. Cooks represents a high-ceiling piece of that juicy total.
Dede Westbrook (JAC): $4,700 vs. Colts
One rookie receiver, Corey Davis, failed to take advantage of his plus matchup against the Colts last week. Gamers who go back to the rookie receiver well with Westbrook have a chance at being handsomely rewarded. Through two games, Westbrook has quickly earned looks from Blake Bortles with 16 targets.
He’s turned the 16 targets into only 76 yards on nine receptions, but the frequent looks create a high ceiling. The Colts have coughed up the eighth most FanDuel points per game to receivers this year, and they’ve also surrendered the most 20-plus yard receptions (48) this season, according to NFL.com. Westbrook has yet to show off his big-play ability in the regular season, but last year’s Fred Biletnikoff Award winner averaged 19.1 yards per reception in his senior year at Oklahoma, and he averaged 22.2 yards per reception on 13 grabs in the preseason.
The already suspect secondary of the Colts will also be without top corner Rashaan Melvin, adding to the appeal of using a Jaguars’ pass catcher, namely Westbrook, against them. At just a couple hundred above the minimum salary for a receiver, Westbrook doesn’t have to do much to hit value, but he has the upside to absolutely smash it and should be one of the more popular value plays this week.
Hunter Henry (LAC): $5,400 vs. Browns
Henry’s sporadic usage in the passing game has resulted in some ugly lines, but this matchup is too good for the Chargers not to exploit. The Browns have allowed the most receptions (67), are tied for the most touchdown receptions allowed (nine) and tied for the eighth most receiving yards allowed (621) to tight ends this year.
FO ranks the Browns dead last defending tight ends. Cleveland’s inability to keep tight ends out of the end zone is especially noteworthy for Henry since he has nine red zone targets this year.
Greg Zuerlein (LAR): $5,300 @ Cardinals
The Rams lead the way in field-goal attempts with 34, and Zuerlein has successfully banged through 32 of them including five of six from 50-plus yards. Greg the Leg has also nailed all 33 of his point-after attempts. He doesn’t need any sales pitch beyond that, but he’s tied to an implied team over/under total of 26 points and doesn’t have to deal with bad weather thanks to the retractable roof at University of Phoenix Stadium.
Chargers D/ST (LAC): $5,300 vs. Browns
The Chargers are massive 14-point favorites at home against the westward traveling Browns. Cleveland’s implied team over/under total is just 14.25 points. In other words, they’re projected to nearly be doubled up by the Chargers. Wow.
The spread sets up a game script of predictable passing situations for the turnover-prone and sack-allowing Browns. Cleveland has the most turnovers (28) in the NFL by four, and they’re tied for the third most sacks allowed (36). The Chargers are tied for the fifth most turnovers forced (19) and tied for the fourth most sacks (32). They’ll add to both of those totals this weekend.
Source: Fantasy Pros
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