So, this isn't a great week for fantasy-loaded NFL games. Of course there's always a few and I like the two games I've laid out here, but the few other games that looked good earlier in the season have lost their luster for one reason or another, whether it be due to injuries, better than expected play by defenses or worse than expected play by some offenses.
The Lions-Packers game would have been a prime candidate, but the Packers' offense hasn't been the same without Jordy Nelson and Eddie Lacy has been invisible, while the Lions have been just plain bad. The Dolphins-Eagles looked pretty good too, but the Eagles' offense has under-performed and the defense has over-performed, while the Dolphins have really been a huge mess for most of the season. Either way, certain guys in those match-ups will just not be reliable for one reason or another and what we're looking for here are guys we can count on to be part of a back and forth offensive game and get a piece of that large fantasy point pie.
Let's go ahead and take a look at the couple games I like this week. As always, these games should involve a large number of fantasy relevant players and are the most attractive games for players on both teams in terms of fantasy match-ups. There will be some big weeks by players in other games of course, these are just the ones I like best for both sides and all involved. Good luck to everyone in Week 10!
New Orleans Saints at Washington Redskins - Nov. 15, 1:00 p.m. ET, Over/Under: 50
New Orleans: Drew Brees has been on fire, scoring 11 total TDs (10 passing, 1 rushing) and racking up 892 passing yards in the past two games. It looks like New Orleans has finally figured out what their offense is supposed to look like and Brees looks like his old-self. With the help of this two week explosion, Brees is now the #3 QB in standard fantasy leagues and I don't think he's slowing down anytime soon. The Saints' remaining schedule sets up nicely for Brees and the only match-up that looks even a little iffy is the game against Carolina in Week 13, but even that is a home game for New Orleans. Brees should be viewed as a Top-5 QB the rest of the way, including this week against a Redskins' defense that isn't scaring anybody off.
The three primary options in this passing game are all useful fantasy options. WR Brandin Cooks has actually put up back-to-back double digit fantasy games the past two weeks (not surprising with Brees' numbers) and has gotten into the end-zone in both games. Since Brees is expected to keep up his hot-streak, Cooks has to be expected to do the same. He's a WR2. Willie Snead has been a reliable option for Brees this season and he's another guy you shouldn't really get away from at this point, especially if he's your WR3 or flex. Snead has been on the injury report this week and is questionable for Sunday with a knee injury, so if you plan on having him in your lineup make sure to check-in on his status. The cog that has seemed to make this offense really go has been TE Benjamin Watson. In his last 5 games, Watson has 9, 18, 5, 20 and 6 fantasy points. While a few of those totals aren't amazing, he's been very involved and got at least 5 targets in all of those games. Watson has solidified himself as a TE1 at this point and should be an every-week starter unless you have a Top Tier guy.
RB Mark Ingram has been one of the most consistent and reliable players in fantasy this season, scoring single-digits in fantasy points only twice so far. One of those times was last week again the Titans (9 fantasy points), when Ingram had a whopping 22 carries but could only manage 54 rushing yards for 2.5 yards per carry (ypc). The Titans' rush defense is better than it's given credit for, so I wouldn't be concerned about Ingram. With Khiry Robinson out for the year, Ingram will continue to see a ton of touches in this high-powered offense and C.J. Spiller has really been a non-factor. Washington is way down at 29th in the league in rushing yards allowed per game and are giving up 4.8 ypc. Ingram is a RB1 again this week.
Washington: Until further notice the Saints vs. [Insert Team Name Here] will be a game that you should be interested in starting any player involved in it. The past two weeks have shown that you can really start any player going up against the New Orleans' defense and feel pretty good about it, as they've given up almost 900 total yards combined in those two games...and yes, this week one of those guys you can start is Kirk Cousins. I know that seems like crazy talk, but hear me out. Most people won't have to use Cousins because they'll have a more steady option, but if you're into the streaming game at QB or want to have a really cheap play in DFS, he's a great option and here's why: the Saints have given up a league worst 112.0 passer rating to opposing QBs, are 30th in passing yards allowed per game and have given up 24 passing touchdowns, 5 more than the second worst team (the Buccaneers). Oh, and they're allowing the most fantasy points per game to QBs at 24.5 ppg. I mean, they let Eli Manning and Marcus Mariota throw for 10 combined TDs in the past two games. Like I said, don't be afraid to start Cousins here, as he could actually be useful to your fantasy teams.
If Cousins is going to have a big game, he's gotta have to receivers that will be worthwhile, right? The most reliable receiving option for Washington will be TE Jordan Reed, who has been outstanding as long as he's been on the field. Reed is 8th in scoring among TEs and that's with him completely missing two games due to injury and already having his bye. And guess what? The Saints officially took the crown from the Raiders as the defense allowing the most fantasy points per game to TEs. You know who else the Saints can't defend? WRs. Now, they may not be dead last in fantasy points per game allowed, but they're in the bottom 5. The problem here are the guys you have to choose from in Washington. DeSean Jackson is finally back from a hamstring injury that has kept him sidelined basically all season and you have to think Cousins will get him involved. Against this pass defense, it will only take a play or two for Jackson to make his mark in fantasy match-ups and he's another great start in DFS tournaments. He's still a slightly scary proposition in standard leagues, but he should be started as boom-or-bust WR2 candidate with a lot of boom potential this week. Pierre Garcon was the acting #1 WR for the Redskins in Jackson's absence, but he never really did much with it. I would be more inclined to count on numbers from the #3 WR here, Jamison Crowder, and he'd be especially useful in PPR leagues since he's managed to come up with at least 4 catches in every game since Week 3.
The Saints are also in the bottom-10 against RBs in fantasy ppg allowed, but this backfield is one I'm staying far away from. Chris Thompson has been banged up and Alfred Morris and Matt Jones have been splitting touches, making both of them unusable in all formats. It would be nice if the Redskins' coaching staff would commit to one of those two -- likely Jones since he's the younger guy -- but we just haven't seen it yet. Again, stay away.
New England Patriots at New York Giants - Nov. 15, 4:25 p.m. ET, Over/Under: 54.5
New England: It's the Patriots and the Giants' defense is terrible. How much more needs to be said? Ok, Tom Brady actually had a down game for his standards last week, throwing for only 299 yards and 2 TDs with 1 INT against the Redskins. I expect a normal Brady-level performance in this game against the Giants' 31st ranked pass defense. You know what to do here.
The Giants haven't been completely horrible in allowing fantasy ppg to WRs, as they are middle of the pack in that category. Julian Edelman is an obvious start as a WR1 at this point, as he's the #6 WR on the season in standard leagues. Brandon LaFell made a big impact in his third game back from injury, putting up 5 catches for 102 yards on 9 targets. He's gotten 8, 7 and 9 targets in the three games since returning and the Patriots seem determined to get him involved as the missing deep threat in their offense. As long as he's able to hold onto the ball when it's thrown his way (always a question mark), he should put up some good numbers in this game and is usable as at least a WR3 or flex. Another guy you know what to do with, Rob Gronkowski, should have a big game here after a sub-standard performance, especially for him (4 fantasy points), as the Giants have given up the 3rd most fantasy ppg to TEs this season.
After RB Dion Lewis went down with a season-ending ACL injury last week, we saw Brandon Bolden come into the game and catch a TD pass from Tom Brady. But what should we expect to see in terms of the receiving back role going forward? I'd expect some kind of a split between Bolden and James White and I wouldn't have any confidence in choosing between the two at this point. The truth is that Lewis' injury just hurts the entire offense to some degree (yes, even Brady), as neither Bolden nor White will be able to provide the same type of impact that Lewis did, especially in the passing game. The biggest likely beneficiary from the Lewis injury is LeGarrette Blount, who should see an increase in consistency from game to game. Blount should be a RB1 option in this game against a Giants' defense that is 22nd against the run.
N.Y. Giants: Eli Manning has had one great game (50 fantasy points against New Orleans) and one that was only o.k. (18 fantasy points against Tampa Bay) in his last two match-ups and I expect him to be somewhere in between in this game. The Patriots are going to put up points here, that's a known commodity. So you know that Manning is going to have to do the same if he wants to give the Giants any chance to keep up with Brady and the Pats. I'd use Manning as a QB1 this week without hesitation in a game where he'll likely end up throwing all day, even against a Patriots' defense that has held up pretty well against the pass (16th in passing yards per game).
Odell Beckham Jr. is an obvious start in this and all other games, but if Eli is going to throw as much as I expect then Beckham should see a large amount of targets here. Beckham has been somewhat hit-or-miss this season (although he's still the #4 WR in standard leagues) and has put together his first back-to-back games with over 100 yards this season in the past two weeks. I expect that trend to continue, no matter how much attention the Patriots' defense gives him, as he should get force-fed here. The other receiving options are underwhelming for the Giants, as Rueben Randle and Dwayne Harris combined for just 5 catches last week and the only fantasy points that really mattered came from a TD by Randle. These guys shouldn't be owned, let alone started, but I bet one of them actually does something here. Just because someone besides Beckham will have to if the Giants are going to put up points. The problem is that there's really no good way to find out who it's going to be, so start one of them at your own risk, even in DFS.
Ok, the only Giants' RB that is remotely start worthy here is Shane Vereen. Not only has Vereen been the best fantasy back of this group for the past several weeks, he's also got a match-up that should set up nicely for his skill-set since the Giants could be playing in shootout mode. He's had games of 12 and 9 fantasy points in the last two weeks and I'd expect somewhere in that area here as well, with the upside for a good bit more in PPR leagues. There's also the revenge game factor, which I don't usually think matters, but hey, it's worth at least mentioning here, especially with the recent Super Bowl history between these two teams. The remaining RB trio of Rashad Jennings, Andre Williams and Orleans Darkwa shouldn't be used, regardless of format.