Unlock More Content Like This With a Footballguys Premium Subscription
"FBG is the best fantasy football advisory service anywhere."
Nigel Eccles, Co-Founder, FanDuel
What can we expect from Josh Harris if Le'Veon Bell is inactive? Would Bell's absence help or hurt the rest of the Steelers' offensive players' stats?
Jeff Haseley: The unknown commodity in Josh Harris and the veteran Ben Tate that two teams have given up on this year. We don't know much about Josh Harris, other than he's a capable back but nowhere near the caliber of Bell. My guess is that Pittsburgh will run their offense with Harris in Bell's spot. How well he does is anyone's guess, but he should get touches and that gives him some value. He knows the offense better than Tate and he's my pick to be the team's primary rusher this week. We saw him break off a long gain on his first attempt in the game last week, but it was called back due to a holding penalty. I don't expect Harris to be the next Alfred Blue (replacement game hero), but he is an adequate DFS play this week considering his lower salary. I'd be willing to take a gamble on him, despite the tough draw against the Ravens run defense.
John Lee: It will be interesting to see how Mike Tomlin uses his backfield on Saturday evening. I expect to see the offensive snaps distributed as follows: Harris = 60%, Archer 30%, and Tate 10%. As the NFL veteran, Tate will get a very limited set of plays because he was only signed on Tuesday. Archer is just too small to get an extensive workload, so I expect to see him on gimmick plays, passing situations, and behind FB Will Johnson in the "eye formation." After Tate's and Archer's touches, Harris will likely get 12-16 carries on Saturday, which could be enough to reach value for cash games, but I am not too bullish on his prospects as a GPP play because his upside is likely limited by the Ravens' strong defensive front and Roethlisberger's propensity to pass the ball.
If you have to choose between Murray and Dez Bryant at approximately the same price in a GPP, which player do you prefer this weekend?
Jeff Pasquino: On FanDuel I would consider Murray more (due to 1/2 PPR), but even there I would probably lean more towards Dez Bryant at these price points. Dez Bryant should feast on the Detroit secondary, and I like him to have a bigger upside in a tournament lineup. In a cash game, I would lean to Murray just towards volume, but I fear he may not be reaching value if he doesn't find the end zone.
Mark Wimer: I agree with Jeff, I'd go with Bryant if I were deliberating between these two high-ticket guys.
Phil Alexander: DeMarco Murray played six games against Top-10 rush defenses this season. His averages in those games - 22 carries, 108.8 rushing yards, .66 rush TDs (and that's saying nothing of his involvement as a receiver). While the matchup is less than desirable, Dallas has proven they can run the ball on anyone behind their top rated run blocking offensive line (per Football Outsiders). Suh avoiding suspension doesn't help, but with Dallas favored by a TD in this game, Murray should see his usual hefty workload. Considering Le'Veon Bell is in doubt for Saturday night, Murray is the safest bet on the board at RB this week (though probably not the best $/Point value).
Even though I like Murray, I'd still lean towards Dez on either site, but the decision is much easier on DraftKings where it's full PPR scoring, and he's $300 cheaper than Murray. Bryant enters this game on a heater, averaging a 5-95-2 line in his last three games. Over the past five weeks, the Lions have let up over 21% more fantasy PPG to wide receivers than the league average. In that same span, they've allowed three multi-TD performances to a single receiver. Bryant (as you're well aware) can't be matched in terms of multi-TD upside - he caught a touchdown on a studly 11.76% of his targets this season, and had the second best TD market share in the league (43.24%) behind only Mike Evans. In tournament play, you're chasing ceilings - and Bryant's is as high as any player's on the weekend slate.
Jeff Haseley: Considering the Lions have a tough run defense it seems logical to look in Dez Bryant's direction, as opposed to DeMarco Murray. However, Detroit's run defense may be good, but Murray and the Cowboys offensive line has been spectacular this year. Personally I think both Murray and Dez have a good chance to score this week. If I had to hitch my wagon to one, I'd choose Murray and his 12 games of 100+ yards rushing, 13 touchdowns and 57 receptions. It's difficult for me to discount Murray's season long ability to gash opposing teams. Murray is my choice. I'd be surprised if Dallas didn't lean heavily on him regardless of Detroit's impressive run defense.
John Lee: Ordinarily, I would say Dez Bryant because his ownership would be lower, but Detroit has been downright stingy against opposing teams' WR1 this season; in fact, Football Outsiders ranks them as the #2 team in defending the WR1 position. In fairness, Dez is as matchup-proof as a receiver comes, but I do not trust Romo to target him if Romo perceives him to be tightly covered. Murray, therefore, becomes the default answer to this question...
...however, I think the smartest GPP move might be to avoid both of these players and roster different players entirely. Murray should have a decent day, but reaching GPP value at his salary against this strong Detroit defense could prove to be difficult; on the limited game slate, he will be highly-owned, which is a prime time to take a chance and roster a different player at the RB position. Some guys I'm looking at (for GPP) are Jeremy Hill, Justin Forsett, Joique Bell, and Josh Harris.
Sticking with the discussion of elite options, there are seven RB/WRs who are priced in the highest tier going into this weekend (Murray, Le’Veon Bell, Bryant, Antonio Brown, Calvin Johnson, T.Y. Hilton, A.J. Green); which 2 of these 7 players would you most like to build your Week 1 Playoff Tournament lineup around?
Jeff Pasquino: I would scratch Bell, which means Pittsburgh is going to have to throw to win - and Big Ben had 6 touchdowns against the Ravens earlier this year. I would go with Brown for that reason alone. I also don't like guys coming off of injury, so scratch AJ Green and TY Hilton. That points me squarely at Calvin Johnson or Dez Bryant. I lean slightly to Calvin as he's hot (so is Dez) and Detroit is going to have to throw the ball to win - while Dallas might take the air out of the ball if they get a lead and emphasize Murray. So - Antonio Brown and Calvin Johnson are my two.
Mark Wimer: Regarding the seven options mentioned as high-ticket guys, Bell and Green are off my board due to their current, rather severe injuries - even if they play, they won't have had much practice, and the Ravens in particular have a very tough, hard-hitting defensive front (especially when they play Pittsburgh). Ben Roethlisberger is good enough to win the game in the passing phase (especially against the lame Baltimore secondary), and for his own sake I'd keep Bell out of this one at less than 100% healthy - there is the rest of this playoffs (and his career) to consider. The guy can barely walk as of Monday.
I agree with Jeff on Hilton - he'll be rusty and perhaps playing at less than 100%, and at his high price I'm avoiding him.
I see the Pittsburgh game as a likely QB duel/shoot out between Roethlisberger and Flacco, so I agree that Antonio Brown is the #1 wide receiver available this week that I'd want to roster. Ditto Roethlisberger. Stafford's lack-luster play in December has me off Calvin Johnson in favor of Bryant in the list-of-seven above, so I'd be on Brown/Bryant for Wild Card Weekend.
Phil Alexander: Antonio Brown at home against Baltimore's lousy secondary is the DFS play of the week. Brown was far and away the best fantasy receiver this season, finishing as the league leader in receptions (129) and receiving yards (1,698), while tying Jordy Nelson for second in TD catches (13). His ludicrous home splits included per game averages of 10.8 targets, 7.3 receptions, 108 receiving yards, and one TD. Those numbers will certainly play against the Ravens, who employ street free agents in the secondary. When Pittsburgh and Baltimore met in Week 9 (after Jimmy Smith's season ending injury), Brown lit up the Ravens in Baltimore to the tune of 11-144-1.
I'll also take Calvin Johnson by a hair over Dez Bryant. If you're looking for tournament upside, pay a little visit to the game log dominator to see what happened last time Calvin faced off with Dallas CB Brandon Carr. I'm not suggesting we'll see a repeat 329 yard performance, but Megatron should see a healthy dose of Carr again in this one. Opposing QBs have a 116.7 QBR when throwing into Carr's coverage, the ninth worst ranking in the league.
Jeff Haseley: For me it would be Antonio Brown and if I had to choose another blue chipper, DeMarco Murray (or the lower priced Jeremy Hill). I also am intrigued by Martavis Bryant, as a cheaper option. I love Pittsburgh's passing game for several reasons. One, Ben Roethlisberger threw six touchdowns against the Ravens earlier this year. Two, Antonio Brown's floor is extremely high - his worst statistical day this year was 5 receptions for 84 yards. He should have a field day against the Ravens secondary that is among the worst in the league. I strongly expect the Steelers to take advantage of it. The uncertainty at running back for Pittsburgh is also a big reason why I am all-in on the Steelers passing game. Martavis Bryant should see at least one long target behind the Ravens defense and if he connects for a score, he most certainly exceeds his relatively low price tag.
John Lee: Antonio Brown and Calvin Johnson are my two core players this week. Brown has been virtually unstoppable this year and has not been slowed down by this Cincinnati Bengals' secondary that is otherwise solid; in his two games against Cinci this year, Brown has amassed a combined stat line of 16/245/1 with two 100-yard receiving efforts. Without Le'Veon Bell in the lineup to steal 25+ touches, Brown's floor should be 8 receptions for 100 yards and a touchdown this weekend.
Calvin Johnson is a great play based on both gamescript and matchup. First, Vegas feels that the Lions will be playing from behind, which means that Johnson will get plenty of targets; he is averaging nearly 10 targets per game on the season and that would appear to be the minimum he will see in this matchup. Next, he will line up against Brandon Carr, who is allowing an opposing QB rating of 116.6 when they throw in his direction this season...and Carr has not faced a single receiver who is as physically dominant and talented as Megatron.
Which one or two QBs are you targeting for GPPs this weekend?
Jeff Pasquino: For GPPs, I'd stack with my wideouts, so Stafford and Roethlisberger. If I get a third, I would target Romo, but he's a distant third.
Phil Alexander: If you're going to squeeze two of Antonio Brown, Calvin Johnson, and Dez Bryant onto a roster this week, you'll need some cap relief, and Joe Flacco brings it on DraftKings ($6,700). Before running into Alex Smith and prime time Andy Dalton to close out the year, the Steelers had allowed a Top-12 fantasy performance to a QB in eight consecutive games. One of those games came against Flacco, who posted 303 yards and two TDs against Pittsburgh in Week 9. Stacking Flacco with Torrey Smith (the cumulative WR13 over the last 11 weeks) is affordable and carries some upside against Pittsburgh's suspect CBs. Leaving salary out of the equation, I'd prefer a Big Ben-Antonio Brown stack.
Jeff Haseley: Ben Roethlisberger for the win. He's the best quarterback option at the lowest price of the premier quarterbacks. Cam Newton is someone I'd take a chance on, but I don't like the Vegas Over/Under of 39 points. I'd rather hitch my wagon to the Steelers passing game and live and die by Ben Roethlisberger's ability to gash the Ravens secondary.
John Lee: Both Matthew Stafford and Joe Flacco are quarterbacks on my GPP radar this weekend. Stafford gets the nod because he will be extremely underowned after last week's dismal performance at Lambeau. This week, he travels to Dallas, who cannot legitimately boast a home-field advantage at 4-4 this season. That said, the Cowboys are slated to be playing with a lead, which means that Stafford will be asked to throw often against a Dallas secondary that has shown susceptibility to plus passing games this season. Historically, Joe Flacco is a very good playoff quarterback and he gets a plus matchup against a Steelers' secondary that has allowed either 300 yards passing or multiple passing touchdowns in every game over the past month. Add in the fact that this game could evolve into a shootout without a Steelers' running game and Flacco is an excellent boom-or-bust GPP play.
Baltimore-Pittsburgh, Cincinnati-Indianapolis and Detroit-Dallas all have Vegas Over/Unders between 47 and 49. Which of the three games do you think is most likely to go over the total and produce big fantasy numbers?
Jeff Pasquino: I think Indianapolis and Cincinnati has the most likely high score. Detroit has a good defense, and Dallas can run the ball and take time off the clock. Baltimore and Pittsburgh have been battling for years and they tend to play tighter games (although I think Pittsburgh wins by a good margin here), but the Colts and Bengals are my pick because of game flow. I think that the Bengals will run the ball early and work a little play-action to get the scoring going and to try and keep Andrew Luck off of the field. If Cincinnati achieves early success, this could look a lot like Kansas City vs. Indianapolis last year where it was a back-and-forth shootout.
Mark Wimer: PIT/BAL is most likely to be high scoring IMO. I can see IND/CIN being high scoring, but I can also see IND winning a 28-3 type-blowout (Andy Dalton's playoff history feeds that suspicion on my part).
Phil Alexander: The total has gone over the number in six of Pittsburgh's eight home games this season, including the aforementioned Week 9 meeting with Baltimore (66 points). I'm a little worried about how Pittsburgh will look sans Le'Veon Bell, and even more concerned about how Baltimore's offense looked with two rookie tackles starting on the offensive line last week, but I'd still give BAL-PIT the best shootout odds, followed by CIN-IND, and DET-DAL in that order.
Jeff Haseley: Baltimore-Pittsburgh would be my first choice with Detroit-Dallas coming in second. Joe Flacco has proven to be a success in the playoffs and Pittsburgh has the offense to keep pace or set the pace. Either way, both teams could easily reach point totals in the 20's in what should be a back and forth battle.
John Lee: I am going to take a step back and eliminate one of them: Cinci/Indy. After watching Indianapolis play the last few weeks, they seem uninspired; this week, they will face a very good Cincinnati Bengals' secondary, which could very well slow down the Colts' strength: their passing game. On the other hand, the Bengals are very bad in defending the run, so I actually expect to see a decent dose of Daniel Herron this weekend...the Colts should not need to throw to win this game. Likewise, the Bengals will likely keep the ball on the ground because Andy Dalton is not a good enough quarterback to find A.J. Green in coverage against Vontae Davis, which means that Jeremy Hill should see plenty of action. With two teams heavily-invested in the running game, I think this game maxes out around 42 points. So, if you're going to stack players from (passing) games, I would avoid this one.
Jeff Pasquino: By the way, with John's point about Cincy defense stepping up of late - they are a reasonable contrarian (GPP) defense. Most everyone is going to target the Panthers, followed by Dallas. I expect CIN to be less used - and they are the cheapest option this week.
Justin Bonnema: It looks like rain is pretty much a lock for the Steelers/Ravens game. Any reason to worry about the field conditions should it rain a lot? Heinz Field is known for being one of the worst and sloppiest when weather moves in. Even Torrey Smith made note:
Mark Wimer: This is a factor to keep in mind, for sure. The forecast I saw early in the week called for up to 20 MPH winds (but that was on Tuesday). I will check a shorter-term forecast on Friday - if the weather service is still calling for a strong storm in the evening I may have to juggle my entire roster...
Jeff Pasquino: Winds usually die down at night, so I wouldn't worry too much about it. Weather has really been a non-factor most of this season, remarkably.
Mark Wimer: The forecast is still for wet, but the wind speed prediction dropped to 10-15 MPH. With the news that LeVeon Bell is definitely out, I'm still rolling with Roethlisberger and Brown as the anchors to this week's GPP lineup...
Which lower priced players and/or sleepers are you targeting this weekend?
Jeff Pasquino: The backup RB for Pittsburgh (Josh Harris) has to be on some radars, but I do not expect much from him. I would consider Cody Fleener at TE for the Colts and Dan Herron for Indianapolis as well, as both are good receiving options for Andrew Luck and I think the Colts will have to throw. I also expect a lot of passing from the Steelers (hence I don't like Steeler RBs) with Bell likely out, so all of the receiving options are in play for Pittsburgh, especially Martavius Bryant and even TE Heath Miller.
Mark Wimer: Cole Beasley is a guy who has worked his way into the progressions in Dallas, and given that they need to throw to beat DET I like him as a cheap option who could easily go 2x on his modest salary. For a long-shot option who likely won't be on many rosters, I'm thinking of Philly Brown, who has gained Cam Newton's confidence during the second half of the season and is usually seeing at least one long pass per game - last week Newton only completed 10 passes, but one went to Brown for 28 yards. Brown may get a long TD pass (he did so against Atlanta in Week 11, Minnesota in Week 13, and handled 3/42/0 vs New Orleans in Week 14). However, he hasn't scored a TD for four weeks, so will likely NOT be on a lot of other Daily Owners' teams - something I look for when I roll the dice on a long shot. See Here for his complete game log. Also the ham-handed performance of Kelvin Benjamin last week in Atlanta increases Browns' shot at a long TD IMO.
Jeff Paquino: Nice pick on Beasley, Mark. He's been on my radar for weeks in DFS, and he's been very productive out of the slot. Given Detroit's weakness (secondary) I like his upside, especially if the Lions focus on Dez.
Mark Wimer: Thanks Jeff - I've been impressed with Beasley's sneakiness over the second half of the season - the guy is reminding me of Welker in his ability to find the soft spots in coverage, and his rapport with Romo has definitely taken off. All four of his receiving TDs this year have come since week 12, and he's put up more points than his $5600 salary on FanDuel (this week's price) as follows: Week 12: 13.6; Week 13: 6.1; Week 14: 17.7; Week 15: 6.2; week 16: 9.9; Week 17: 8.7.
I think he'll have a realistic shot at ~3x his salary in this game (say 7/60/1 which would work out to 15.5) If he goes off for two TDs (which he has done once in the last six weeks) then he easily crushes 3x.
At Beasley's modest salary I'm able to fit in Antonio Brown, Torrey Smith, and Cole Beasley at wide receiver on the single GPP roster I'm working up for FanDuel this week. I'm waiting to see IF Dwayne Allen makes it through the week of practices without a setback to decide on a tight end, so the roster isn't set yet but Roethlisberger, J. Hill, J. Stewart, Brown, Smith, Beasley, Suisham and the Carolina D are all locked in for me - that leaves me $5500 to spend on tight end (and I may tweak the kicker up to Bailey depending on who I go with at Tight End).
There is only one available tight end on FanDuel I can't consider (Greg Olsen at $6400) and he burned me last week so I was shy of him anyway.
Phil Alexander: I echo Jeff's sentiments on Josh Harris (not much upside and will be widely owned at $3,500 if Bell is out). If A.J. Green (concussion) can't get cleared by game time, Mohammed Sanu ($4,200 on DK) will fit nicely into your lineups. You'll recall Sanu averaged a 5.5-95-.5 line in four games without Green earlier this season. I'm also with Jeff on Boom Herron - at $4,700 he makes it easy to fit top tier WRs into your lineup. Dwayne Allen is due back this week, and I'd gladly play him over Coby Fleener at a $1,200 discount. Allen and Fleener have received an identical share of Andrew Luck's receiving TDs this season (19.51%) despite Allen missing three games and seeing 42 less targets. Lastly, the Bengals defense costs only $1,900 on DraftKings (by comparison Baltimore is $3,100), which seems much too low. Cincinnati is averaging three takeaways per game over their last three, while Andrew Luck has turned the ball over 10 times since Week 12. If you're going to punt a position, you might as well make it the most difficult one to predict.
Jeff Paquino: Sanu is another excellent name to drop. I fully expect him to be the WR1 for Cincinnati this week.
Markus Wheaton on DraftKings is another great target. The offense will flow through the air in PIttsburgh, and he has great upside of a big day.
Both players are cheap on DraftKings, right near $4K.
Jeff Haseley: Martavis Bryant, Reggie Bush and Mohamed Sanu, throw in Jeremy Hill as an elite running back at a non-elite price. Bryant is the number two option for Ben Roethlisberger behind Antonio Brown, plus if LeVeon Bell is out, those targets will go elsewhere. I like Bryant especially with a marquis match up against Baltimore's struggling secondary. It's hard for me to put all of my eggs in Reggie Bush's basket, but he finally is healthy and the Lions know he can be a difference maker on offense. Mohamed Sanu gets my vote especially if A.J. Green (concussion) is not cleared to play. Someone will need to catch the ball for Cincinnati and when Green was out earlier this year, Sanu handled that role with success.
John Lee: Daniel Herron matches up well against a Cincinnati Bengals' front seven that FootballOutsiders ranks as a bottom three defense against the RB position (using their DVOA system). His historical usage is not enough to make most DFS players feel comfortable rostering him, but he needs only ~ 11 fantasy points to reach value for cash games (and ~ 14 to 16 points for GPP's), which is entirely reasonable based on his usage in this offense. On a limited game slate, I am comfortable with him in both formats.
Another guy who is interesting is Markus Wheaton. In an offense that features Le'Veon Bell, Antonio Brown, and newcomer Martavis Bryant, Markus Wheaton is the forgotten man. Wheaton, however, still plays more offensive snaps than Bryant and is a possession receiver who can easily reach GPP value based on his salary on the major sites this weekend. His touchdown potential is modest at best, but, without Le'Veon Bell, the Steelers will be forced to throw the ball more often than possible against a Ravens' secondary that is very porous at this juncture; he will be low-owned and carries minimal risk because of his low salary.