Houston Texans at Atlanta Falcons 1 p.m. EST
I had predicted that the Texans would improve his season, but this is a bit shocking. It all starts with QB C.J. Stroud and how athletic, poised, and accurate he is. Who would have thought the passing game was going to be the Texans’ major strength? WR Nico Collins leads the way but may be limited here vs. corner A.J. Terrell, who held Jaguar WR Calvin Ridley to just two catches. Expect WR Tank Dell to have a six-catch 70-yard performance, and maybe he can reach the end zone. TE Dalton Schultz was more involved and will be in several of my DFS lineups as Atlanta struggles vs. the tight end. RB Dameon Pierce is getting better and better, is involved in the passing game, and is a great buy-low option for seasonal leagues. The Falcons are good against the run, though, and I would think next week is a good time to start sending trade offers for him.
Atlanta has tailed off a bit, losing their last two games. Teams realize that QB Desmond Ridder will not push the ball down the field, and until this happens expect eight-man boxes. The Texans though, don’t have a great run defense and RB Bijan Robinson should flourish for 20+ fantasy points minimum, with a chance at being the top-scoring back. RB Tyler Allgeier should be used as a bye-week replacement, and I could see him reaching the end zone. WR Drake London could get a deep ball or two off of play action if the running game is successful so he could reach the end-zone. I have moved on from TE Kyle Pitts, as he is just not getting the ball.
Carolina Panthers at Detroit Lions 1 p.m. EST
The Panthers have to feel like they left a win on the table last week. They were the better team for three quarters. They were on the verge of a two-score lead when a disastrous strip-sack fumble return gave the Vikings a late third-quarter lead that they would not relinquish. It appears that it will get much more difficult vs. a stout Lions’ defense that gets after the passer. QB Bryce Young was sacked five times last week and harassed via the blitz. The Lions get after the QB better than Minnesota, making their defense a priority, and they will find many of my DFS lineups. The only Panther offensive option I would think about is WR Adam Thielen, who has had three good games in a row. I expect the run game to be mediocre at best, making RB Miles Sanders a desperation play. I will be shocked if the Panthers score more than 13 points unless they get a late garbage-time TD.
I do expect the Lions to win this game convincingly and they should do it with an effective running game. The Panthers are 28th vs. the run and just gave up six YPC vs. Minnesota. RB David Montgomery is the showcase back at the moment, and 100 yards and a touchdown should be well within his reach. RB Jahmyr Gibbs can also eat and would be a great DFS bargain if he can score his first NFL touchdown, which I think he may get on Sunday. WR Amon-Ra St. Brown (if healthy) and TE Sam LaPorta are definite starts in seasonal leagues, but I don’t know if either will have a huge enough game to take down a DFS tournament. WR Jameson Williams could play as he came off suspension this week, but HC Dan Campbell has said that Williams will be limited if he does suit up.
Tennessee at Indianapolis Colts 1 p.m. EST
Watching the Titans’ offense is almost torture, even when they score 20+ points. It’s just boring but sometimes boring is good. I wrote last week not to freat about Derrick Henry’s volume as better games were coming, and he didn’t disappoint. He faces a solid Colts front this week, so breaking 100 yards may be difficult, but I think he can make it into the end zone. The Titans need to attack the Colts’ below-average pass defense. I expect WR DeAndre Hopkins to have his best game as a Titan and he will be in many of my DFS lineups as I think he can get 100 yards. Nick Westbrook-Ikhine could be a sneaky option, but it feels like we are chasing points. TE Chigoziem Okonwo was more involved last week, but he is going to be touchdown-dependent and I would look for better options.
The Colts’ offense enters this week with one big question. Is RB Jonathan Taylor playing this week? It’s anyone’s guess, as the Colts have three weeks to activate him. If he doesn’t go, then RB Zack Moss is the starter. Whether it is Taylor or Moss, they have a difficult matchup vs. a stout Titan run defense, and expecting a ton of fantasy points is unrealistic. Either would have to make major contributions in the passing game to be viable. I do expect a ton of fantasy points from QB Anthony Richardson who has a great matchup vs. one of the league’s worst pass defenses. He is also going to get at least 50 yards rushing as the Titans love to rush the passer which will give him plenty of chances to run. WR Michael Pittman should be in line for a very good game. They need contributions from either WR Alec Pierce or WR Josh Downs to win this one. I have a feeling one of them scores, being a great DFS sleeper, and I give the edge to Downs.
New York Giants at Miami Dolphins 1 p.m. EST
The Giants are a mess right now. The offensive line is abysmal, ravaged by injuries. QB Daniel Jones has no time to throw, and he will take on a big blitz. I know that RB Saquon Barkley should be back and will give the offense a boost. They need to feed him early to keep the Dolphins’ offense off the field. The game script will be key here for his volume. I do think the Giants have a DFS Gem in WR Wan’Dale Robinson, especially if playing from behind. He had five catches for 40 yards last week and would have had a ton more had Jones not been sacked 11 times. I would expect at least six catches for 60 yards, and if he reaches the end zone, he’s in the million-dollar lineups. Update: Robinson is listed as questionable, but I think it’s just for precaution. Expect him to play.
On the other side, the Dolphins should have their way with the Giants. It’s just a matter of who you pick in that offense. QB Tua Tagovailoa is a start in seasonal, but his production is decreased now that the running game is an explosive one-two punch. I like RB De’Von Achane over Raheem Mostert as I think Achane will get more and more touches, but there is no guarantee. Receivers Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle are also explosive with both due for a big week. If I had to choose, I would go with a Tua, Hill, and Achane stack with maybe another stack involving Waddle. Regardless of how you choose, the Dolphins should put up close to 30 points in this one.
New Orleans Saints at New England Patriots 1 p.m. EST
I’m not going to get involved much in this game. Both these teams pair relatively strong defenses with offenses that often struggle. I don’t expect much from either offense in this one. Start Saints WR Chris Olave and Patriots RB Rhamondre Stevenson in seasonal, but their production could be limited. RB Alvin Kamara did have 13 catches last week, giving him value as he may get another 10 catches this week. I don’t think QB Derek Carr is 100% with his shoulder injury, and checking it down may continue to be his go-to play. A Kamara TD would make him a DFS stud at low ownership.
Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers 1 p.m. EST
The Ravens were able to put up 28 points vs. the Browns despite only having 296 yards of total offense. They made the most of two long drives and were set up by a dominating defense. This week, they may not need to be rolling offensively vs. a Steeler team that has struggled to score. QB Lamar Jackson is a must-play and can break the slate on any given Sunday. The Steelers are awful vs. the pass and I expect WR Zay Flowers to have a huge game and score his first NFL touchdown regardless if receivers Rashod Bateman or Odell Beckham are back from injury. TE Mark Andrews could also flourish and a stack of him, Lamar, and Zay could give you leverage. I worry that the Steelers may not put up enough fight for the Ravens to push for more offense.
The Steelers’ offense, meanwhile is worse than I hoped or expected. There isn’t one player I feel comfortable playing. QB Kenny Pickett is dealing with a knee bruise; if he doesn’t play, then it’s Mitch Trubisky. RB Najee Harris runs are very predictable, and he needs to get more involved in the passing game. The root is that the offensive line isn’t very consistent and they don’t spread opposing defenses out. It’s very obvious when they are going to hand the ball off. I think the best play is to stick with the Ravens’ defense in all formats.
Cincinnati Bengals at Arizona Cardinals 4:05 p.m. EST
What a disappointing performance by the Bengals’ offense last week vs. the Titans! They marched down the field on the opening drive for a FG and then nothing afterward. It is apparent that QB Joe Burrow is having trouble stepping into his throws because of his calf injury, causing the ball to sail at times. He is also unable to step into his throws because he doesn’t have a clean pocket. His offensive line is allowing teams to get in his face play after play. He should have a better week vs. a Cardinal defense that doesn’t have the same pass rush as Tennessee. WR Tee Higgins is dealing with a fractured rib but still wants to play. If he doesn’t play, then expect increased production from WR Tyler Boyd. WR Ja’Marr Chase would also become one of my top DFS options. Seasonal owners are praying that I am right, as Burrow and Chase stacks are killing teams. RB Joe Mixon could have a huge game as well as long as Cincinnati is committed to the run. Arizona is second to last vs. the run and a 100-yard day seems likely. A good running game will soften the pass rush, but some coaches just stick to their game plan.
The Arizona offense has been much better than expected. They have been able to move the ball against some very tough defenses. QB Joshua Dobbs has averaged 22 fantasy points over his last three games and would have been a bit more had TE Zach Ertz not dropped a layup TD in the waning seconds last week. Receivers Marquise Brown and Michael Wilson are wild cards and I could see one of them having a good game. They are dirt cheap in DFS and can fill a lineup pending roster construction. TE Zach Ertz looks young again and he is a tight end I am trying to trade for in seasonal leagues. He missed a big weak by dropping a perfect pass for a TD as mentioned. So the passing game for the Cardinals is going to be steady going forward. This week though, I think this could be a RB James Conner week as I think the Cardinals try and run the football against a Bengal defense that allows over five yards per carry.
Philadelphia Eagles at Los Angeles Rams 4:05 p.m. EST
This matchup figures to be a high-scoring affair with the second-highest total on the board at 50.5. Both teams have solid run defenses but will give up big chunks vs. the pass. All players from both teams are in play, but the player I like the most from the Eagles is WR DeVonta Smith, as I think the Rams pay extra attention to WR A.J. Brown. RB D’Andre Swift has been solid to great over the past three weeks, but the Rams aren’t allowing much to opposing running backs. Expect a nice effort from QB Jalen Hurts, as I see him having to rush for 50 yards plus a TD. TE Dallas Goedert looks slow, but this could be his time to shine as the Rams aren’t very good against the tight end.
The pieces you want from the Rams’ offense all depend on if WR Cooper Kupp plays. He obviously becomes a must-start in seasonal leagues, but I don’t know if I would pay the high DFS price. If Kupp doesn’t play, then WR Puka Nacua is in a smash spot and I will pay the high DFS price. WR Tutu Atwell has been solid as well and can be a DFS sleeper. I am shying away from RB Kyren Williams if I can, as the Eagle run defense is simply outstanding. I realize that many will have to play him in seasonal, but he is a no-no for DFS. TE Tyler Higbee looked fast last week even though he has been dealing with an apparent Achilles injury. He is listed as questionable but expect him to play and be very effective vs. the Eagles who allow a ton of fantasy points to the tight end. I will have my fair shares of Higbee in DFS as a cheap flex play with Kelce as my tight end.
New York Jets at Denver Broncos 4:25 p.m. EST
The Jets may have lost to the Chiefs, but they were able to establish a passing game. Thankfully the Broncos are dead last vs. the pass, and QB Zach Wilson should be able to keep the Jets’ wide receivers fantasy viable in this matchup. The key here is giving him enough pass protection to get the ball out. WR Garrett Wilson owners should feel a little more optimistic going forward, and he has a chance for a big game here. WR Allen Lazard could be sneaky as well as TE Tyler Conklin. If either gets into the end zone, they could be in a bunch of winning lineups. RB Breece Hall is my fantasy GEM of the week. He will be in more than 50% of my DFS lineups as Denver should get gashed here. The Jets’ coach came out and said that Hall is off restrictions and they need to win this game BADLY. 20+ points for Hall.
The Broncos will have a much tougher matchup vs. this Jets defense than they did last week vs. the Bears. I am not expecting much from anyone offensively, as I think the Jets’ front dominates. RB Javonte Williams status is in doubt but rookie RB Jaleel McLaughlin filled in and provided a spark. He should be a player to stash if you have a deep bench. Receivers Courtland Sutton and Jerry Jeudy are seasonal starts but I think we can find much better options in DFS as the Jets’ secondary is very good. I think this is a low-scoring game for the Broncos.
Kansas City Chiefs at Minnesota Vikings 4:25 p.m. EST
This game features the highest total on the board at 52.5 and has all the makings of a shootout. I expect the winning team to reach the 30s, and that team most likely will be the Chiefs. I have no doubts that QB Patrick Mahomes will throw for 300 yards and three touchdowns. The Vikings’ pass defense has been a sieve, and even though they only gave up 204 yards to QB Bryce Young, he still completed 25 of 32 passes. Carolina couldn’t handle the constant Viking blitzing, which the Chiefs will have no problem with. A Mahomes/Travis Kelce stack will dominate my DFS lineups, as I am expecting 20+ fantasy points from the tight end. A receiver is going to step up in this one. I think it will be Rashee Rice, but Skyy Moore or Kadarius Toney could also shine vs. that weak Viking secondary. RB Isiah Pacheco is coming off a big game, but I would expect a little less here as the Vikings have been solid vs. the run except for one game. Teams know the best way to beat them is through the air.
The Vikings would like nothing more than to control the clock and grind it out with RB Alexander Mattison and RB Cam Akers, but the Chiefs’ run defense is solid and I think the offensive line is going to have problems moving the pile for an effective running game. We still want to monitor the touches between them. QB Kirk Cousins is most likely going to have to keep this one close with his arm. He just has to watch out for that pass rush, as I expect the Chiefs to go after him. WR Justin Jefferson will be heavily targeted, and I will have DFS stacks with him as the come-back player with Mahomes and Kelce. Another receiving option has to step up if they want to keep this one close. I expect that option to be TE T.J. Hockenson as I think the trio of Jefferson, Jordan Addison, and K.J. Osborn will give the Chiefs’ secondary a lot to handle, leaving the middle and underneath open for T.J.