Fading the Titans makes sense in Monday-Thursday fantasy football contests, but let me tell you who you SHOULD be using.
Top Pick: Drew Brees (NO), $15,300 @ (CHI)
With a gaggle of cheap options available, DFS gamers can easily roster the most expensive player at each position without rostering trash to fill in the gaps. That means there is little reason to get cute and fade Brees. Vegas Insider currently has the Saints as a three point favorite in a game with a 54 point betting total, a far cry from the 41 point betting total in the Thursday Night Football game. Brees is easily the best of the quartet of starting quarterbacks in these games, and he’s one of the best in the league ranking fourth in passing yards, sixth in touchdown passes, second in completion percentage, and second in Pro Football Focus (PFF) QB Rating. He will face little resistance against a Bears defense that PFF ranks 29th in pass coverage and Football Outsiders (FO) ranks 29th in pass defense.
Value Pick: Jay Cutler (CHI), $13,300 vs (NO)
Cutler will be dueling with Brees in what figures to be a Monday Night Football shootout. Even without Brandon Marshall, and leading the home underdog Bears, Cutler will have a chance at a hearty fantasy point output in large part thanks to a pass heavy attack. He is tied for seventh in pass attempts this year, and he’s parlayed that activity into the ninth highest passing yardage total and 26 touchdown passes (tied for eighth). Like Brees, he’ll be taking aim at a leaky pass defense. PFF ranks the Saints 30th in pass coverage and FO ranks them 28th defending the pass.
Top Pick: Matt Forte (CHI), $14,650 vs (NO)
Forte is the best fantasy player, regardless of position, playing in the two weeknight games and projects to be the highest scorer. His multi-faceted skill-set has helped him tally the third most yards from scrimmage per Pro-Football-Reference. He’s a star in the passing game leading running backs in targets (97) and receptions (86) while ranking second in receiving yards (724). The former Tulane star has even found pay dirt three times as a receiver. His receiving skills will be on full display against the league’s worst defense defending running backs in the passing game, at least per FO. It gets even better. Forte has rushed for only 32 yards the last two weeks combined, but he should roll up plenty of yards on the ground tonight facing a Saints defense that PFF ranks 23rd and FO ranks last stopping the run.
Value Pick: Toby Gerhart (JAX), $4,500 vs (TEN)
The season ending injury to Denard Robinson has opened the door for Gerhart to (somewhat) salvage a forgettable season. On Sunday he was the leader of the backfield committee toting the rock 13 times for 54 yards compared to nine carries for 26 yards rushing from Storm Johnson and Jordan Todman combined. Another back that was having a miserable season, Andre Williams of the Giants, feasted on the Titans in week 14 rushing for 131 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries. I expect Gerhart to get fat against a dreadful Titans run defense that PFF ranks last and FO ranks 28th stopping the run. His cheap cost will make him a very popular option in the Monday-Thursday contests, so don’t end up behind the 8-ball by over thinking things and fading him.
Top Pick: Alshon Jeffery (CHI), $12,800 vs (NO)
The loss of Marshall from the Bears passing attack is Jeffery’s gain. He won’t have to share looks with Cutler’s long time number one wideout, and the supremely talented big wide receiver will be a terror for the Saints. In addition to being bad at defending the pass in general, the Saints are bad at stopping number one wide receivers ranking 21st defending them according to FO. On the year Jeffrey ranks 14th among wide receivers in targets, 11th in receptions, 12th in receiving yards, and he has reeled in eight touchdown grabs. The sky is the limit without having to share looks with Marshall.
Value Pick: Allen Hurns (JAX), $6,500 vs (TEN)
There are a trio of Jaguars wide receivers that are priced within $50 of one another, and all three received consideration before I settled on Hurns. The undrafted rookie wide receiver is arguably the least talented of the bunch, but as I’ve preached on the podcast and in my writing, volume, volume, volume. Of the healthy Jaguars pass catchers, Hurns entered the week tied for the most targets with Cecil Shorts III. Shorts III edged him out in targets on Sunday by a margin of 11 to nine according to ESPN, but Hurns has still seen plenty of work in the passing game. In fact, he leads the Jaguars in both receiving yards (566) and touchdown receptions (six). Since the team’s bye week, ESPN credits Hurns with eight or more targets in three of four contests. The price is right for using him, and there is some upside for Hurns against a Titans defense that PFF ranks 24th in pass coverage and FO ranks 26th in pass defense.
Top Pick: Jimmy Graham (NO), $12,100 @ (CHI)
Brees and Graham feel like a sad missed connections story the last few weeks, but their chemistry is too good for them not to get back on the same page. Even in a down year by Graham’s standards, he’s still one of the elite players at the tight end position ranking fourth in targets, fifth in receiving yards, and tied for third in touchdown grabs. Facing the Bears is the perfect elixir for what ails he and Brees since FO ranks the Bears 31st stopping tight ends in the passing game. It warrants mentioning that even though the absence of Marshall should lead to increased targets for Martellus Bennett, he has a tough assignment against a Saints defense that surprisingly ranks second defending tight ends.
Value Pick: Marcedes Lewis (JAX), $3,700 vs (TEN)
Lewis has been a popular punt pick for me on the podcast, and low and behold, he’s still under $4,000. The bar is insanely low for him to be worth such a pittance. Since being activated from injured reserve, Lewis has played in four games and caught at least one pass in each game. He’s caught two or more passes in three straight, and in the last two games combined he’s hauled in five receptions for 91 yards. Those numbers are far from eye popping, but even if he only matches the two receptions for 22 yards he tallied on Sunday, that would be enough scoring to justify rostering him and spending heavily elsewhere.