Kevin Jairaj

Fantasy Football: Which Patriots should you start/sit vs. Falcons?

WEEI
October 20, 2017 - 6:29 pm

By Pete Davidson

Welcome to Week 7. I’m feeling saucy after a strong Week 6, that is, unless you played Mike Gillislee. I’m sorry about that one. In my defense, it was a hedge play, so hopefully none of you went overboard to the point of being overweight.

While this week’s matchup is not a divisional game, it’s certainly an opponent that the Patriots know well. Based on how these two teams are playing, this game has the potential to be high scoring. Yes, the Falcons handled Brady and company pretty well until their Super Bowl collapse, but that was without Rob Gronkowski playing. I think the dynamic could be very different this time around, at least as far as the Patriots offense is concerned.

As always, if you are looking for takes on players not listed in this space, feel free to consult my free weekly lineup rankings at rotobahn.com.

For the freshest takes on all the Week 7 action, tune in to the Fantasy Football Hour, this Sunday morning right here on 93.7. Jim Hackett and I will take your questions (via text) and get you ready for Sunday. To keep pace with all of our fantasy content, follow me on Twitter @Rotobahn.

I did not include any Falcons in this week’s recommendations, but I will have a few ideas for you on Sunday morning, so tune in!

QUARTERBACKS

Tom Brady, Patriots vs. Falcons, $8,000

He’s likely to have a big day, but the applications for using him are somewhat limited as the Patriots are not part of the main slate on DraftKings. And, even if I am playing the two game slate for Sunday night and Monday, I’ll probably be inclined to roster a Monday quarterback because the Sunday game usually sets the tone in terms of ownership. Still, Brady is my top QB this week so he’s viable—even at this high cost. Stacking him with Danny Amendola makes some sense given the matchups and the Falcons strength on the outside corner spots. Rob Gronkowski also makes sense in that vein.

Marcus Mariota, Titans at Browns, $6,900

This game sets up well for him. The risk is that he could conceivably aggravate his hamstring injury, but since he played through it last week, I am inclined to accept said risk. This is a great matchup for the pass and Mariota has weapons everywhere. Whether he is throwing to his receivers, tight ends or running backs, Mariota is getting the ball to a playmaker and that ought to be Tennessee’s approach this week. Get the ball out of the quarterback’s hand and let the playmakers work against the Browns’ porous defense. For GPPs, I like Eric Decker ($4,300) as a stack option. I’m also ok with Rishard Matthews ($5,500) if you have a gut feeling. He’s just a tad more pricey relative to Decker. Be careful with Delanie Walker, who is now questionable to play with a strained calf.

Russell Wilson, Seahawks at Giants, $6,400

I’m a fan of using Wilson on the road. He tends to run more in close games and he has some good matchups this week when he throws the ball. All he needs to do is be careful about attacking Janoris Jenkins. Based on the numbers (thank you, Mike Clay), Tyler Lockett ($4,100) will spend the most time being covered by Eli Apple, so he is the receiver I want to stack here. Lockett has had a slow start to 2017 and he’s likely to be infrequently rostered in tournaments this week. It may sound risky, but the low cost of this stack ($10,500) allows me to load up with some legit studs at other positions. I like the vertical scoring potential in large GPPs.

RUNNING BACKS

Dion Lewis, Patriots vs. Falcons, $4,700

If you are playing a slate that includes Sunday night, then Dion is a very interesting option. Is he risky? Yeah! I mean, he’s a Patriots running back, right? They are a nightmare in seasonal leagues, where the cost of missing can be a playoff spot. In DFS however, you are not engaged in a 50/50 paradigm. Only about 15 percent of DFS lineups bank. Taking chances is part of the game. Lewis played 29 snaps last week, a season high. Now, anybody who watched the game understands that Mike Gillislee’s fumble led to extra snaps for James White and Lewis, but there’s also a pattern for Lewis, who, little by little, has been more involved as we move through the schedule. So maybe they planned on getting him involved anyway. Perhaps most important is that Lewis played very well—gashing the Jets on several occasions. The strength of the Falcons defense is strong corner play and disruption up front. Lewis is a player who can help to blunt both of those strengths. So, while trying to get out in front of Bill Belichick’s brain is always a chancy endeavor, I’m liking this one. Just don’t go overboard and have some diversity if you are playing multiple lineups. James White ($5,000) will be the popular play and for good reason. A lot of people watch the Super Bowl, right? So this is a way to go against the grain. Having said that, if you go with White, I can’t say that I blame you. He’s getting a lot of targets every week.

Mark Ingram, Saints at Packers, $6,700

This feels too easy doesn’t it? Ingram is firmly established as New Orleans’ lead runner. He’s ceding plenty of snaps to rookie Alvin Kamara, but he’s the guy who will pound the rock most of the day. That being said, Ingram does more than pound the rock. He’s been getting regular targets and they have led to an average of four receptions per game. That’s a nice thing since DraftKings uses full PPR scoring. With no Aaron Rodgers in this game, there’s a good chance that Ingram will be running often in the second half. He has a good shot at 100 yards plus in the rushing department. He’s also a decent bet to score. I’m not one to chase last week’s points and I am not doing that here. Yes, Ingram went nuts in Week 6—the Saints first game without Adrian Peterson. This is about the matchup and Ingram’s role. He’s not super expensive and he offers as much ceiling as any back outside of the top two. I’ll be starting him in plenty of lineups this week.

Derrick Henry, Titans at Browns, $5,500

The key here is DeMarco Murray. My guess is that Murray sits this week out to rest his balky hamstring. While the Titans have shown a penchant for allowing Murray to play though the injury, I’m guessing that the team’s Week 8 bye will be used as a way to finally get him right for the stretch drive. The fact that the Browns are eminently beatable is also a factor. If the game goes according to form, Henry will close things out with some bonus fourth quarter carries—a job he is a great fit for. There is potential for a monster game here. So make sure Murray is not starting and then make the move, because with no Murray, Henry becomes a factor in passing situations—a role usually left for the veteran.

Chris Ivory, Jaguars at Colts, $4,800

This is a contingency play. It sounds like Leonard Fournette’s sore ankle could cost him a game, and if he sits out, Ivory is a strong bet for high volume in a game I expect the Jaguars to win. Ivory is a back who gets worn down, but he’s seen very reasonable workloads all year long. One high volume week could pay plenty of dividends, and his cost opens up other positive lineup possibilities. Keep your head on a swivel here. If Fournette plays, Ivory becomes a bad option very fast. The Jaguars play at 1pm, so you should have this information early enough to act on it.

Christian McCaffrey, Panthers at Bears, $6,100

With Greg Olsen out and with Kelvin Benjamin banged up and potentially out or limited for Week 7, the Panthers should be forced to use McCaffrey a bit more than they have on typical weeks. Benjamin has swelling in his troublesome knee and he has yet to practice fully this week. Assuming that Benjamin sits, the Bears would then be able to shadow Devin Funchess with Kyle Fuller. Not that Fuller is a shutdown guy, but he can match Funchess’ physicality because he’s a big athletic corner. In this scenario, I see the ball flowing to McCaffrey, who has been as advertised as a receiver. He has the potential to catch ten balls in a situation like this. If he can find the end zone, you could be looking at a big day. Not bad for 6,100 units. If Benjamin ends up playing, I still like this play, but will probably decrease my shares just a bit.

WIDE RECEIVERS

Danny Amendola, Patriots vs. Falcons, $5,600

He should be matched up with slot cornerback Brian Poole for most of the day and that’s the best receiver matchup Brady has this week. I won’t be going too heavy on this one, but it’s my preferred Patriots matchup at the position this week because the outside corners for the Falcons are solid and they have the speed to cope with Brandin Cooks, who tends to light up slower corners. My favorite Patriot this week is coming up in the next position group. You’ll never guess who.

Dez Bryant, Cowboys at 49ers, $7,800

The 49ers have nobody to cover him. Moreover, the Cowboys balanced attack makes it tough to double Bryant consistently. You have a stud running back and a running quarterback to contend with. On early downs, they will have a shot at targeting Bryan in advantageous situations. I see big plays—a few of them. Dez has been solid this year, with three touchdowns in five games—largely against stiff competition. This game screams breakout to me and breakouts are what we crave in GPPs.

Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals at Rams, $7,300

He’s hot right now, but it’s the matchup that has me excited to play him this week. Fitzgerald should see very little of Trumaine Johnson, the Rams top corner. This is because Fitzgerald plays the bulk of his snaps in the slot—a place where Johnson is rarely deployed. Johnson will be running downfield with John Brown and J.J. Nelson most of the game. Expect Fitzgerald to be heavily targeted once again. The future Hall of Famer is averaging over ten targets per game so far. He’s a great for DraftKings’ PPR scoring.

Nelson Agholor, Eagles vs. Washington, $4,900

He’s winning consistently from the slot and he’s getting some snaps outside when the Eagles use two receivers. His price on DraftKings feels low considering what he can do on a single play and considering that his targets are increasing as the season progresses. Agholor already has four touchdowns this year and I like his chances of adding another score in this game. The downside with Agholor is that he is not available on the main slate. He plays Monday.

TIGHT ENDS

Rob Gronkowski, Patriots vs. Falcons, $7,300

He is always a reasonable play in DraftKings tournaments because he gives you the kind of upside that most tight ends simply cannot. It’s not much more complex than that. I also like this week’s matchup because, to me anyway, he’s the best matchup on the board for Tom Brady. As I already mentioned, Atlanta is strong at cornerback. This makes Gronk even more compelling. This could be Gronk’s first ten target game on the season, and that puts him over 100 yards receiving by my math. He’s obviously a great bet to score any time he suits up. Whether I have Brady in my lineup or not, I am very likely to have Gronk rostered.

Hunter Henry, Chargers vs. Broncos, $4,200

He is my bargain play at the position this week. As I have been saying for two weeks, the Chargers are finally making the move to their young stud tight end. Antonio Gates is finally playing a clear second fiddle to Henry, who is a very good player. The thing I love this week is the matchup. Denver creates what I would term an inside funnel. Meaning their remarkably strong corners force passes to the tight ends and to the running backs. Even slot receiver Keenan Allen will have his hands full this week with Chris Harris, Jr.. Henry has had 15 targets the last two games and I suspect he will see a lot of them in Week 7. Philip Rivers is no dummy. He’ll usually find the path of least resistance, and this week, that path leads to Henry.

Evan Engram, Giants vs. Seahawks, $4,400

Volume. With so many key Giants either on IR or questionable to play, Engram is the one target who Eli Manning can really count on. He’s also a dynamic weapon who can make plays all over the field. The matchup is certainly tough, but Engram could see around ten targets and that’s a solid value at his current price. He’s also lining up as an inline tight end or slot receiver on most occasions, so he’s unlikely to see Richard Sherman in coverage.

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