November is upon us, and the playoffs are sneaking closer. The season is grinding on, and about this time, things can get tough. The repetition of the fantasy grind can wear on anyone. In DFS, this can lead to bad decisions for the sake of variety. Try not to fall into this trap, regardless of your outcomes. For most players, DFS is a roller coaster ride, and even “experts” can have bad weeks. Don’t forget that a lot of success can hinge on contest selection. Larger games offer the lure of higher payouts, but your margin for error can be much smaller. Just trust your process and be sure to learn from mistakes if you can. Anyway, my fantasy pep talk is over so let’s move on to this week’s targets.
For anyone new, thanks for stopping by and here’s a quick breakdown of what you are about to read. This article isn’t meant to be chalk plays at a given position. What I offer here are a small group of players that can help you build some higher priced players into your lineups while, hopefully, not sacrificing production. I’m talking about value plays that likely will have low ownership and some inherent risk. I wouldn’t use all of these players together, but they can be helpful to keep in mind when you build your lineups. Enough stalling, here we go.
DFS Targets: Week 10
Josh Rosen, @KC ($4,800)
We’re starting off with a real leap of faith this week. Rookie QBs are typically prone to some outcome variance, and Rosen is no exception. This low-end pricing has him down as QB25 in the full Thur-Mon slate. This is tied for his highest price this season and is only $300 above his lowest price. Rosen hasn’t done much to move his pricing, but there have been flashes of competence in every game. This pricing could also be the lowest he will be in the immediate future, given recent developments with his offense.
Recently, Arizona made the decision to replace offensive coordinator Mike McCoy with Byron Leftwich. This was an interesting move, and many were curious to see how Leftwich’s time spent under former coach Bruce Arians would affect his own play calling. So far, so good. In one game, Rosen set new career highs in completions, attempts, passing yards, and TDs. Against San Francisco in Week 8, Rosen went 23/40 for 252 with two TDs and one INT.
Looking a bit hesitant early, Rosen was able to heat up in the second half, when he passed for both of his touchdowns. Both passes came in the red zone, which made for slightly tighter windows to squeeze a pass in. The first was to Larry Fitzgerald and Rosen dropped it in over the linebacker in the middle and in front of the defensive back trailing Fitz on the play. The second was to Christian Kirk who had his defender slip, but Rosen still had to fire it in to beat the safety coming over to help. Even more impressive was the fact that it gave Arizona the lead with just 0:34 seconds left. If Rosen can continue to build on a successful first outing with Leftwich, then his backup QB pricing could be met with an average QB return, and the potential exists for more.
Much of that potential comes from Rosen’s opponent this week. While Rosen having a career day against the San Francisco 49ers might not sound impressive, the Kansas City Chiefs haven’t done much better this year. KC has allowed 13 fewer points but has also given up almost 700 more total yards. On the season, the Chiefs give up an average of 302.7 passing yards per game, one of just five teams allowing more than 300 yards per game. A big part of that has to do with the big hole that KC’s offense puts their opponents in. There’s nothing Arizona can do defensively to slow down KC, so expect them to be down and needing to throw to catch up.
Once Arizona is behind, Rosen will be throwing against mostly the same group of players that have been getting shredded by opposing QBs. Game-changing safety Eric Berry is officially doubtful, but still has yet to practice and will not be back this week. KC is also likely to be down two LBs, including the team’s leading tackler, Anthony Hitchens. While Justin Houston is expected to play, he has been out the last four weeks with a hamstring injury. Houston was limited in practice all week so there’s no real way to know how effective he’ll actually be. The Chiefs get up big and teams have to chase. The points Rosen accumulates might not be high leverage, but they will count the same down 20 as they will in a tie.
Duke Johnson Jr., vs. ATL ($4,700)
The return to prominence for Duke Johnson Jr. has finally arrived, and all it took was nine weeks and the removal of head coach Hue Jackson and offensive coordinator Todd Haley. Although this price matches Duke’s season high from Week 1, he is still a relative bargain priced as RB26 in the full Thursday to Monday slate. Duke’s current price is a hefty $900 increase from Week 9, but he can still produce with this price.
It’s been a disappointing season for Johnson. Expectations were high after Johnson finished 2017 with over 1,000 total yards, 74 receptions, and seven TDs. Even with the additions of Carlos Hyde via free agency and Nick Chubb in the draft, many were hoping for a repeat performance from Johnson. So far, Duke has only had three double-digit point games, including last week’s breakout 29.6 point game. Unfortunately, in the other six games, Johnson’s high score is 5.9 points, so there is some risk here.
Despite that, there are many things working in Johnson’s favor here. The running back committee has already been thinned with Hyde being traded to Jacksonville. New offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens was able to do what Jackson and Haley were either unable or unwilling to do. Get Duke the ball. In Kitchens’ first game as the OC, Duke had nine catches on nine targets and had a single carry as well. Those receptions went for 78 yards and his first two TDs on the season, contributing to his season-high 29.6 points. That was a career high for Johnson, but at this price, he would have hit value nine times last year. If his production can settle into what he was last year he will be in great position to significantly outproduce his price.
Helping Johnson to hit his value, is his tremendous match up this week. Atlanta is the top defense for RB points allowed per game (35.8). Much has been made about the rash of injuries that have led to Atlanta’s defense becoming one of the most fantasy friendly. Despite their recent success last week against the Washington Redskins, the Falcons are still a team to target.
Similar to KC, Atlanta has an offense good enough to cause teams to chase points and a defense bad enough to allow them. The Falcons have allowed the most targets, receptions, and receiving yards to RBs this year, and Duke will likely add to those totals. Duke will likely be at his highest ownership this weekend, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore him. The potential for this many points doesn’t come often at this price.
Maurice Harris, @TB ($3,900)
Down in the bargain bin, this will only be Harris’ third time this season being above the minimum pricing for WRs. At just $3,900, Harris is the WR61 on the full Thursday to Monday slate this week. He received a $600 price bump after a career week against the Atlanta Falcons. With pricing this low, you really don’t need much production to justify using Harris, but he profiles as someone in a great spot to score. Most of the players in this range are very hit or miss, so you really need to pay attention to the match up and recent production.
As I mentioned above, Harris is coming off a career day from Week 9 against Atlanta. If you’re anything like me and not an avid Washington Redskins fan, you were probably wondering who Maurice Harris is as you saw the highlights from the Falcons game. He’s not a rookie, having been with the team since 2016, but in that time he hasn’t seen much significant usage. Before this year, he had never had more than 50 yards or three receptions and targets.
Move ahead to this season, and more specifically Week 9, and Harris suddenly has a prominent role in the offense. With the skill position group perilously thin, Harris stepped up with a 26% target share. His final line of 10/124 on 12 targets were all career highs. The 124 yards almost matched his career total of 128 heading into the 2018 season, and it looks like he’ll be needed again. Paul Richardson is on IR, Chris Thompson is out, and Jamison Crowder is questionable. The other two players on the roster with more targets than Harris, Jordan Reed and Josh Doctson, have both been disappointments. Washington needs Harris to be a viable part of this offense.
The best possible match up for Harris is this weeks’ opponent. Tampa has been hemorrhaging yards to slot receivers at a crazy pace. After last week, Tampa is now giving up just over 150 yards per game to slot receivers. Reed had been seeing most of his routes run from the slot, but Harris had 72% of his snaps come from the slot alignment. A good portion of the 48 points per game TB surrenders to WRs come from the slot, and it should be that way again this week. QB Alex Smith has long been known as more of a check down artist, and now his best receiving options will all come from the area Tampa has the hardest time defending.
Evan Engram, @SF ($3,600)
Entering the wasteland of cheap TEs, Evan Engram stands out as an interesting GPP play. Even a cheap price in mid $3,000s puts Engram only as far down as TE16. This is by far his lowest price this year. Prior to this week, Engram’s cheapest salary was $4,300 in Weeks 3 and 8. The bye week seems to have diminished his price, despite scoring his second highest total in the Giants’ last game. The talent is there for Engram to easily outdo his low value score. The combination of the bye week and other TEs gaining ground has led to Engram becoming a forgotten man. Ownership will likely be low here, so there is a good opportunity for some lineup differentiation.
Unfortunately, Engram is far from a safe play. A mix of injury issues and poor offensive execution have led to a bit of a sophomore slump for Engram. This year, Engram has just two games with double-digit points. One of those games was right before NY’s bye week, and in that game he was third on the team with nine targets, trailing Odell Beckham Jr. and Saquon Barkley. Engram finished that game with a 5/25/1 line, with the TD coming from two yards out with just 0:17 remaining on the game clock. Garbage time stats count the same as stats accumulated early in the game, though. This on paper is a game that NY can be competitive in, and QB Eli Manning will likely be playing for his job. I expect that the additional time to prepare will help the offense as a whole produce, despite having to travel to SF for the game.
The 49ers have been okay against the TE this year, only allowing 11.8 points per game to the position. Engram will have the majority of the production from the TE spot. No, Rhett Ellison isn’t a major threat to take work from Engram. What makes this a nice spot for Engram are the other match ups for individual players on his offense. OBJ will be a focus for whoever has him, and will likely take a safety over to his side. Sterling Shepard will occupy the #2 or slot CB depending on where he lines up. Saquon Barkley will draw attention every play. Engram looks to be the forgotten man in this offense, and I would rather force him to beat me than risk OBJ or Barkley ripping chunk yardage plays up and down the field.
While Engram hasn’t been the red zone option he was last year, (he tied for the team lead in RZ targets) he still has a favorable match up. Likely to see Jimmie Ward, Engram has a four inch height advantage and in the neighborhood of 40 pounds on Ward. Eli has become a limited QB, but he has always been able to throw an effective fade pattern into the end zone.
Finally, there are many questions surrounding the 49ers offense heading into this game. Yes, QB Nick Mullens was able to look good against an over matched Oakland Raiders team, but was that a fluke? There’s no real way to know. He will definitely be heading into the game without RB Raheem Mostert and potentially missing Pierre Garcon and George Kittle. NY could certainly use a game to make their offense look right and get everyone back on board for at least one more week. This could be a “get-right” game for the Giants and Engram.