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As part of that experience we at DLF felt it might be of particular interest to our readers to provide them with an optimized lineup that they should be able to plug into a Head to Head or 50/50 game and fully expect to win some money.
Last week’s lineup performed reasonably well with the exception of Brian Hartline, but even he was able to sneak a touchdown in to keep his value from completely bombing our chance out. In 50/50 or head-to-head games, you should have fared reasonably well and might have been able to sneak a little bit of cash out of a GPP depending on which one you entered. This week certainly gets tougher as it’s the first week where bye weeks factor into the equation – it’s truly where the boys and girls get separated from the men and women. This week’s lineup is well rounded and takes advantage of some prime mismatches all around the league.
Let’s take a look!
Quarterback – Matt Ryan – $8,700
[inlinead]This one makes a whole lot of sense from several different angles. First, Atlanta’s offense is absolutely on fire and leads the league in average passing yards per game at 334 yards per game. That number by itself should already have most of you clicking the “+” button next to Matt Ryan’s name. However, Ryan is also averaging a little over two passing touchdowns per game, which is certainly a nice little bonus if you can snag it. Currently, Ryan is only behind Andrew Luck in terms of his average fantasy points per game on FanDuel and doesn’t show any signs of slowing down, especially in a great matchup versus the Minnesota Vikings.
You saw Drew Brees (a quarterback about as similar to Matt Ryan as you’ll find in the NFL in terms of game play) posted a pretty nice game against the Vikings just last week. Brees threw for just a touch under 300 passing yards and added two passing touchdowns against the hapless Vikings and I fully expect Ryan to do at least as well against Minnesota this weekend as the Falcons use the gameplan the Saints laid out to cruise to a win.
Projected Stat Line – 25 completions for 305 yards and two touchdowns
Running Back – Le’Veon Bell – $8,800
I suggested Le’Veon Bell last week and I see no reason to move away from him in a matchup that is technically easier this week than the one he faced last week in Carolina where he threw down 147 rushing yards and two receptions for ten yards. Bell has slowly risen up the running back ranks at FanDuel and is the second most expensive running back this week, only $200 dollars behind DeMarco Murray. This week Bell faces Tampa Bay, a team whose opponents have shown zero respect to their rushing defense and instead have averaged almost 33 rushing attempts per game thus far this season – this has yielded those teams 125 rushing yards on average per game and over a touchdown on average in each of those contests.
Meanwhile, the Steelers have centered their offensive attack around the rush to the tune of 163 rushing yards per game, a number that leads the NFL. Over that period the Steelers have averaged a touchdown per game and averaged six yards per carry which far outpaces the closest team to them by nearly a yard per carry.
Look for Bell to continue his dominance by quickly and firmly establishing the run against a questionable Buccaneers defense and then maintaining that control all game to finish with a nice box score when all is said and done
Projected Stat Line – 20 rushes for 85 yards, three receptions for 30 receiving yards
Running Back – Lamar Miller – $6,900
With the unrest in the Miami backfield in recent weeks I almost feel weird suggesting Lamar Miller this week, but nonetheless here we are. There are a couple of things pointing to Miller having a big week so I’m not totally insane on this call. First, it’s pretty clear Ryan Tannehill is in the hot seat, so it is entirely possible that the Dolphins attempt to reestablish his confidence by getting a win under his belt with minimal effort. It’s funny, when a team wins suddenly no one is calling for each other’s heads, go figure. Second, teams just love running against the Dolphins opponent this week, the Raiders. Oakland has been rushed on an average of 37 times per game this season, a league high, while surrendering 159 yards per game on average, the second most in the NFL. Third, despite some uncertainty in the Dolphins backfield this season, the team has actually been pretty successful running the ball ranking seventh in the NFL for rushing yards per game with 137 yards on average and they come in second in the NFL for average yards gained per rush with 5.2 yards.
Now what if Miami decides to pass after all? Well, Miller should still do just fine. He is averaging three receptions per game for roughly 17 receiving yards and has a receiving touchdown already this season. Now, of course those aren’t huge number but they do provide a nice bump if the Dolphins decide not to completely remove Tannehill from the offense. In any case, Miller is pretty well insulated against a poor performance and shows every sign of well outperforming his $6,900 price tag.
Projected Stat Line – 20 rushes for 108 yards and one touchdown, three receptions for 20 yards
Wide Receiver – Golden Tate – $5,500
Well the trend continues, a Lions wide receiver is once again represented in my suggested lineup and for the third time in four week it’s Golden Tate. The reason I keep suggesting Tate is that despite excellent value his price has remained fairly static. In each of the three weeks of this season, Tate has had five or more receptions and has averaged 67 yards per game. While he has been kept out of the end zone thus far this season, his time in coming and I feel it’s coming very soon. The reason for this is that he will be facing a New York Jets team who is giving up the second most passing touchdowns in the NFL with over two touchdowns being surrendered through the air on average per game.
Tate’s consistency has clearly caught Stafford’s eye as he has been targeted an impressive 21 times and has pulled in well over three quarters of those targets, far outpacing Stafford’s favorite target (Calvin Johnson) who is only catching about 56% of passes thrown his way. Expect Tate to continue his impressive performance streak as Stafford continues to target him heavily. We may even be in store for that elusive first touchdown as a Detroit Lion this week.
Projected Stat Line – Five receptions for 70 yards and one touchdown
Wide Receiver – Jeremy Maclin – $8,000
Remember when everyone feared the San Francisco defense and avoided any matchups they faced weekly? Well, those times appear to have passed – this year’s 49ers defense just isn’t as scary as it has been in the past. A big part of it is due to the missing pieces of Navorro Bowman, Glenn Dorsey and Aldon Smith. Quarterbacks have been able to spend more time in the pocket and find the open receiver. This week I believe Jeremy Maclin will be that open receiver more often than not. A big reason for that is no secret, Philadelphia loves to pass. The Eagles rank second in the NFL for number of pass attempts per game with an astounding 41 attempts on average. As it turns out, some of those passes get completed and when they do they go for a lot of yard as the Eagles are also second in the NFL for passing yard per game with 310 yards gained through the air on average per game. They also rank sixth in the NFL for receiving touchdowns per game with two touchdowns scored through the air on average per game.
On the other side of the ball, San Francisco’s opponents have attempted 35 passes on average per game against their defense this season while the 49ers have surrendered the second most touchdowns through the air to opposing offenses with 2.3 touchdowns scored per game. That statistic is perhaps the most telling as San Francisco only surrendered half that amount in 2013 with 1.2 touchdowns coming through the air on average per game.
Look for Maclin to be used in intermediate routes to move the ball consistently downfield and to be targeted in the red zone a couple of times. As a Rams fan expect me to be loving that as well.
Projected Stat Line – Five receptions for 75 yards and one touchdown
Wide Receiver – Kelvin Benjamin – $6,700
Coming into the NFL, Kelvin Benjamin’s abilities were heavily scrutinized by draftniks all around the map. The common knock on him was that his game may not transfer well to the NFL as many felt he wasn’t physical enough to consistently get open. Those knocks have been proven false thus far as Cam Newton and Benjamin appear to have quite the connection. Part of it, of course, is due to the lackluster talent on the Panthers roster, but more than that, the bond does seem to be developing nicely and appears to be genuine.
Benjamin has managed to haul in an average of five receptions for 84 yards per game and already has two touchdowns over three games – he’s clearly highly utilized by Newton and a significant part of the Carolina offense. This week he’ll be facing the Ravens, a defensive unit that has given up the sixth most passing yards of all active teams this week. Each reception Baltimore surrenders goes for an average of 12 yards, the third most in the NFL and lines up quite well with Benjamin’s 15.8 yards per reception. When you consider the fact that the Ravens rush defense is among the league leaders while the Panthers are dealing with serious issues in their rush game then you’ve got yet another hint pointing you towards a very nice receiving day for Benjamin.
Projected Stat Line – Five receptions for 75 yards and one touchdown
Tight End – Greg Olsen – $6,100
This is basically the ying play to the Benjamin yang play. Olsen should also benefit heavily from a heavy passing attack in which the Panthers will need to abandon the rush early. To further touch on the argument made during the Benjamin write up, the Panthers barely rush in their games, ranking in the bottom five of the NFL for rush attempts per game with roughly 22 attempts a game. Even worse than that Carolina is only gaining 72 rush yards per game on average, the fourth least in the league and they’ve only scored one rushing touchdown in three games thus far.
Meanwhile, Olsen has consistently scored double digit fantasy points via an average of six receptions per game for an average of 75 receiving yards. He has also scored two touchdowns over three games and has long held the trust of Cam Newton in the passing game. Olsen’s consistency coupled with his very affordable price tag of $6,100 make him a very attractive play this week.
Projected Stat Line – Six receptions for 75 yards and one touchdown
Kicker – Shayne Graham – $4,500
Kickers have pretty consistently caused problems for the lineups I’ve suggested, therefore, I’m going to go a different route this week. By that, I mean I’ll actually take a kicker from a high powered offense as opposed to an offense who may get close, but not quite across the goal line. My selection this week is Shayne Graham, kicker for the high powered Saints offense. My selection here is due to the fact that the Cowboys may actually be able to keep up with the Saints offensively for a while and as such New Orleans may look to add points any way they can, including from field goals a touch further than they normally would attempt. He should also have plenty of chances to add points to his total from kicking extra points against a fairly impotent Dallas defense whom I fully expect to get man-handled by the Saints offensive squad. Cross your fingers because kickers have been quite the torn in my side all season thus far.
Projected Stat Line – Three field goals, three extra points
Defense – Detroit Lions – $4,700
When you’re facing the Jets, your defense automatically moves towards the top of my defensive list of play candidates. The Lions give up the second least rushing yards in the NFL, right behind this same Jets team and they also give up the third least passing yards in the NFL. Overall, they are quite a strong squad and have a great matchup in a hapless Jets offense. Geno Smith is only averaging around 220 passing yards per game while giving up a little over two sacks per game and leading the league in interceptions thrown per game with at least one thrown per game.
The Jets should become one dimensional by halftime and at that point Detroit can play the pass almost exclusively. Look for the Lions defense to get several opportunities at interceptions and to capitalize on at least one of those chances.
Projected Stat Line – 13 points against, one interception, three sacks