The games this week are looking a little light on the high-scoring appeal, but there's always a few decent looking options in there. Picking Tampa Bay at Atlanta may be a little surprising due to the Falcons' recent ineptitude on offense (in the passing game specifically) and the fact that this means counting on Jameis Winston, but both teams have QBs who are willing to throw, really good running games and strong #1 WRs. That counts for something. The other two options are pretty obvious choices, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't trust them. Between the Giants' and Saints' two terrible defenses and the Bengals and Steelers having two of the best offenses in the NFL, they shouldn't disappoint.
As per usual, these are just a few of the games that I think will provide the best circumstances/situation for all fantasy players involved. They should all host the highest number of fantasy relevant players of all the games this weekend (at least that's the hope). Of course there will be other great fantasy players this week, but these games set up the best for all the players taking part in the them.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Atlanta Falcons - Nov. 1 1:00 p.m. ET, Over/Under: 48.5
Tampa Bay: Rookie QB Jameis Winston has put up a couple decent fantasy performances this season -- 19 points or more in 4 of 6 games -- most of them against fairly weak defenses. I know the Falcons have been better on D this year than in the past, but they're 25th in the league in passing yards allowed per game. It helps that I think the Falcons will put up points here and Tampa has the weapons to at least make it a shootout. Winston is an interesting play as a cheap DFS tournament option here.
Has anyone (excluding that Freeman guy he's playing against this week) been running as well as Doug Martin lately? He's put up a 3-game stretch of 19, 33 and 16 fantasy points in standard leagues in which time he's averaged almost 5.9 yards per carry (ypc). And it's not like Martin wasn't playing well early in the season, the team just couldn't give him enough work due to game-flow. Atlanta has actually been pretty good against the run -- 2nd in rushing yards per game allowed -- but have given up 10 TDs on the ground, tied for the most in the league. Martin in a RB1, use him with confidence.
Some of the weapons I was referring to earlier were WRs Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson. Evans had his first huge game last week, going for 8 catches, 164 yards and 1 TD against Washington. The Falcons has been stingy against opposing WRs this season, but you have to think that Evans is such a mismatch that Winston will have to force him the ball some here in a possible comeback effort. I like Evans as a Top 10-12 guy this week. Jackson has been pretty quiet since Week 4 and hasn't been practicing this week with a knee injury. Keep your eye on his status throughout the week, as Jackson could put up some good numbers as the #2 WR in this offense if the Falcons' pass defense focuses on Evans. TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins could be another one of those weapons for Jameis Winston if he could get back on the field after suffering a shoulder injury in Week 2. We all saw some of Seferian-Jenkins' potential in Week 1, when he put up 5 catches for 110 yards and 2 TDs. This is an especially tasty match-up as the Falcons are 26th in fppg given up to TEs. If he's able to play, he'd be a great play in DFS tournaments and is a good guy to add in your leagues going forward.
Atlanta: The Falcons had a horrible offensive performance in Week 7 against the Titans, barely outlasting them 10-7. Matt Ryan hasn't looked good in a while, although he was able to get Julio Jones some decent stats last week (9 catches for 92 yards and a TD). Hopefully he can get right against the Bucs' defense, as they're either mediocre or flat-out bad in pretty much every defensive category. They've given up the 4th most fantasy points per game (fppg) to opposing QBs this season despite being ranked 5th in the league in passing yards per game allowed, mostly due to the fact that they are tied for the second most with 15 passing TDs against them. Ryan has never really lived up to expectations in fantasy, as he's basically always been a low-end QB1 rather than the Top-5 guy people wanted him to be. He remains a low-end QB1 here.
Besides Jones, the only other offensive standout for the Falcons in Week 7 was, of course, Devonta Freeman. He may not have scored a TD, but he was still able to rack up 116 yards on 25 carries and 2 catches for 14 yards. Freeman is either the #1 or #2 RB going forward and you're starting him in all leagues/formats. The Buccaneers 15th ranked rush defense wouldn't scare you off anyway.
It was nice to see Julio Jones have a good game last week, as he had been held without a TD and hadn't had double-digits in fantasy points since Week 3. The Bucs have allowed the 7th most fppg to opposing WRs, so hopefully Jones can get over 100 yards to break another streak he's got going since Week 3.
Other than the big there listed here, there aren't really any other guys to be excited about here. Roddy White looks old and isn't that involved in the offense and Leonard Hankerson has been banged up and hasn't looked as good as he did early in the season. TE Jacob Tamme isn't a reliable option and the Bucs aren't terrible against TEs anyway (14th in fppg). If you have to pick one of these guys, I'd go with Hankerson, but only if he's healthy and exclusively in DFS tournaments.
New York Giants at New Orleans Saints - Nov. 1 1:00 p.m. ET, Over/Under: 49
N.Y. Giants: Eli Manning has been, well, Eli Manning. In what looked like two good match-ups in the past two weeks, Manning has put up exactly 18 fantasy points...total. That includes 12 points in Week 6 at Philadelphia and 6 (6!!!!) against Dallas last week. This week, he gets an even better match-up against the Saints' secondary, which is 26th against the pass and has allowed the 2nd most fppg to opposing QBs. He's gotta put up a big game sometime, right?! Might as well be now. Manning is a great choice in DFS tournaments, as he'll likely have a low ownership percentage, and I think he's a QB1 this week.
Who? What's his name again? That's right, none other than Orleans Darkwa led the Giants in carries last week, finishing with 8 for 48 yards and a TD. Sure, you can pick up Darkwa as a flier in your leagues, but you all know you're not starting him yet, right? I know, I know..."But his name is Orleans and they're playing the Saints! It's like the universe is trying to tell us something!" If he goes off this week against the Saints terrible rush defense, then he should be doing so on your bench. After that, sure, I wouldn't blame you for putting him in your lineups if you're desperate. It's just how it has to be. That basically means you're staying completely away from the Giants' run game until someone really takes hold of the job. They just don't seem to really like any of the guys they have -- which includes the likes of Rashad Jennings and Andre Williams -- as the main running downs back. Shane Vereen will get a few draw plays and catches, but isn't the guy either. This is why Darkwa got his shot last week, but I wonder if the Giants will just use whoever has the hot hand every week. Like I said, you can't use any of these guys until you see one have a couple solid games in a row.
So, the Saints' defense is pretty terrible everywhere. They're 18th in fppg allowed to WRs and 29th against TEs. That's good news for Odell Beckham Jr., Rueben Randle and any other Giants' WRs that might be relevant in this game. Beckham has had a strange habit have one bad game followed by two good ones this season and last week was a bad one (4 catches for just 35 yards). Let's hope that trend stays true here! Beckham is a Top-5 WR. Randle had one big game in Week 3 and has been pretty quiet otherwise. He's not a reliable option but is still interesting here because the Saints could put up some points themselves and their pass defense is so porous. He's a very cheap tournament option in DFS. The wait for Victor Cruz to make his debut continues this week, as he's listed as questionable with that lingering calf injury. Even if Cruz gets on the field this week, you shouldn't be starting him in your standard leagues, but he'd be another very interesting play in DFS due to his likely low ownership and price.
TE Larry Donnell hasn't had over 38 yards receiving in a game yet this year and only has two TDs. The Saints are so bad against TEs that you want to find a way to exploit that weakness, but you just can't trust it in seasonal standard leagues. This is why DFS tournaments exist, so you can play guys like Donnell for nothing but upside. That's the only way you're using him.
New Orleans: Drew Brees hasn't been what fantasy owners expected him to be when they drafted him in the 4th-5th round this season. But that should have been expected when the Saints traded away Jimmy Graham, their best receiving threat in not only the red zone, but from anywhere on the field. Brees has still put up yardage, but when New Orleans gets close to the end zone they're running the ball. The Giants are actually strong against QBs from a fantasy perspective (10th in fppg), but are 30th in passing yards allowed per game, showing that they are still weak against the pass but haven't given up a lot of TDs. If you have Brees you're probably starting him and I think the Saints are going to put up points in this game. He's a low-end QB1.
Really Sean Payton? You just had to let Khiry Robinson vulture Mark Ingram from inside the 10, didn't you? TWICE?! C'mon! Ingram had a huge game last week with 143 yards and a TD on only 14 carries, but it could have been monstrous if he'd been allowed to finish off a couple drives that he helped to set up. Ingram had been a reliable option in fantasy up to last week, when he finally blew up with a big game and he's now the #2 RB in fantasy to this point. You're definitely not sitting him against a Giants' defense that is 22nd in fppg to RBs and he's a Top-5 option this week. The previously mentioned Robinson got by far his most carries in a game this season, matching Ingram's 14. However, despite getting those 2 rushing TDs, he wasn't very effective and was only able to pick up 2.0 ypc. If you're an Ingram owner you should probably be paying attention to the workload split between these two -- although Robinson won't be pushing Ingram off the field or anything -- and it might be in your best interests to handcuff him with Robinson, as he'd get by far the most work if something were to happen to Ingram.
WR Brandin Cooks had his first game this season with double digit targets (13) but still only came up with 6 catches for 81 yards and no TDs. I don't think I need to keep going on about him, but Brees just hasn't been able to connect with Cooks for enough big plays down the field. Until that happens, Cooks really won't be worth starting in standard leagues. Willie Snead had his worst game of the season (2 fantasy points on 3 catches for 25 yards) in Week 7, but I'd look for him to have a solid three week stretch until the Saints' bye in Week 11, as they play the Giants, Titans and Redskins in their next three games. He's been Brees' most reliable pass catcher so far and their chemistry should continue to grow. He's a WR3 this week.
TE Benjamin Watson did come back to Earth last week and finished with 4 catches for 59 yards after his 18 point performance in Week 6 against Atlanta. Still, 5 fantasy points isn't terrible at the TE position and Watson could be a decent starter this week against a Giants' defense that has given up the 5th most fppg to opposing TEs. He should be a Top-10 option this week.
Cincinnati Bengals at Pittsburgh Steelers - Nov. 1 1:00 p.m. ET, Over/Under: 48.5
Cincinnati: Andy Dalton has been spectacular for any fantasy owners who have actually picked him up and decided to use him over whoever they drafted, as he's the #4 QB so far. Only Dalton and the inhuman Tom Brady are in the Top-5 and have already had their bye. Dalton is coming off that bye this week and has all of his weapons at his disposal going up against a Steelers' defense that has given up the 6th most passing yards per game to opposing QBs. His lowest fantasy point total (in standard leagues) of the year in any game is 19 and he's had 22 or more in every other game. If you haven't already, it's way passed time to believe in Dalton as an every week starter.
While Dalton has flourished, second-year RB Jeremy Hill has greatly disappointed his owners thus far. Hill has had two big games -- 18 fantasy points in Week 1 and 24 in Week 4 -- and another decent one -- 12 points in Week 6 -- but all of it has been dependent in on touchdowns. In Weeks 1 and 4, Hill combined to have 5 rushing TDs and has none in his other four games. His Week 6 performance was mostly as a result of 13 yard TD catch. In short, you can't trust Hill as an every week starter and you don't know when his big games are coming. You still have to hold onto him and hope that he regains his form from his rookie year. His running mate, Giovani Bernard, has stepped up his game and is the more reliable fantasy option of the two. Bernard has had at least 7 fantasy points in every game this year and has averaged 5.6 ypc. If you have both of these backs (and hopefully you do) you should be playing Bernard at this point and although the Steelers have been very strong against the run -- 3rd in fppg and 8th in rushing ypg -- he should be able to put up points through the air at the very least.
There's two main options in the passing game that you're definitely starting here and a third that you should consider. A.J. Green and Tyler Eifert are obvious every-week starters. Green is a well known commodity who has been great since he came into the league and although he hasn't been quite as good so far this season as we expected, you still have to play him every week because we all know how good he is. Eifert was on some radars coming into this season and has definitely made some who believed he was a great sleeper pick look good. He's the #3 TE this season and that's only because Gronk is #1 and #2 Gary Barnidge hasn't had his bye yet. He's also an every week-starter and it could be a big week, as Pittsburgh has allowed the 4th most fppg to TEs. The third option I mentioned was WR Marvin Jones. At the beginning of the season, Jones was making his way back from an injury that kept him out most of last year and seems to be very involved in the offense. He's had 10 or more fantasy points in three games and has 8 and 12 targets in his last two weeks, respectively. The Steelers' are middle of the pack against WRs in fppg, but really aren't scaring anybody. Jones is a good option as a WR3 and in DFS.
Pittsburgh: Huzzah! It legitimately sounds like Steelers' QB Ben Roethlisberger will be back in action this week, which makes sense because this is an important division game. Roethlisberger is an every-week starter when he's active and this week isn't an exception, as the Bengals are only middle of the pack in basically every defensive category. We all just have to hope that Big Ben is able to get into a rhythm and doesn't have to knock off any rust after missing four games.
Le'Veon Bell has really been what we expected since he came back from his 2-game suspension to start the season, as he's averaged over 20 carries (at 5.0 ypc) and 4 catches per game. The Bengals are giving 4.9 ypc on the season and you're not sitting Bell regardless, but I'm just saying I wouldn't downgrade him because I think points are going to be scored early and often here.
You know who is REALLY excited about Big Ben coming back? Antonio Brown and his fantasy owners! Brown was visibly frustrated numerous times in the games that Michael Vick started and although Landry Jones allowed Brown to make more of his usual plays -- 6 catches for 124 yards -- his chemistry with Roethlisberger can't be understated. After three weeks of very subpar performances, especially by his standards, Brown should be back to being a Top-3 WR every week. Even with below average starters at QB, Martavis Bryant has been every bit of the explosive player we expected him to be after returning from a five game absence to start the season. Bryant is a WR2 and is another every-week starter, especially with Big Ben back.
Good luck in Week 8!