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Cash Game Options:
Lamar Jackson, BAL ($13,500) at CIN
Lamar Jackson is the most expensive quarterback on the slate, but he’s worth paying up for in a matchup with the defensively challenged Bengals. Jackson has rushed the ball at least 14 times in each of his last four games, which gives him a very safe floor and more ways to achieve his ceiling. He has a hand in almost all of his team’s scoring, and the Ravens should score a lot against a Bengals team that will debut rookie Ryan Finley this week at quarterback and appears to have given up on the season. The Bengals have a bad run defense, a bad secondary, and do not generate much pass rush which means Jackson should be able to move the ball and score touchdowns in whichever way he chooses. He’s viable in all formats, but I prefer him slightly in cash games where ownership is not a concern as Jackson should be highly owned this week.
Drew Brees, NO ($12,600) vs ATL
Coming off a dominant return from injury, it is surprising to see Drew Brees as only the sixth-highest priced quarterback this week playing at home against the Falcons. The Falcons defense has been generous, to say the least, surrendering at least 27 in six of their eight games this season. Atlanta’s offense plays fast, so Brees should see plenty of opportunities to attack that very vulnerable defense. The Saints offensive line is one of the best in the league, and the Falcons defensive line is one of the worst at generating pressure. That should lead to a combination of volume and efficiency that makes Brees one of the best plays on the slate. With Alvin Kamara set to return from injury, the Saints will have their offense at full strength again and it’s hard to see a scenario where Brees does not break the 300-yard mark in this one.
Kyler Murray, ARI ($12,900) at TB
Jameis Winston, TB ($12,700) vs ARI
I’m grouping these two together since they’re in the same game and it’s likely that if one succeeds the other will as well. This game has the highest total on the slate, features the most and second-most generous defenses to opposing quarterbacks, and will showcase two of the fastest-paced teams in the league. Kyler Murray is coming off an impressive performance where he scored 23 FantasyDraft points against a very tough 49ers defense and should be able to build on that performance against a Tampa Bay defense that is difficult to run against but gives up passing yards easily. Murray still is not rushing as much as we’d like, but he has shown a willingness to take off when the other team is able to generate pressure and the Buccaneers defensive line should be able to do just that. Normally we do not want to see our quarterback facing a lot of pressure, but if it forces into Murray to run the ball that should more than offset any hit his passing efficiency takes. Targeting this defense has been profitable in tournaments so far this year, and while Murray isn’t cheap he’s worth paying up for and has tournament-winning upside.
Jameis Winston, playing at home and coming at a slight discount to Murray, is also a perfectly viable target for tournaments. Winston has thrown for over 300 yards in five of his last six games, and his willingness to throw the ball downfield makes him an exciting, if highly variant, fantasy quarterback. He’s always capable of having a game where he self destructs thanks to turnovers, but there should not be too much risk of that facing a Cardinals defense that ranks near the bottom of the league in takeaways. If this game turns into a shoot-out, which it’s projected to do, Winston will easily throw the ball over 40 times. That volume against a defense that gives up over 26 points a game and has really struggled to cover anyone is a recipe for a great fantasy day.
Cash Game Options:
Michael Thomas, NO ($15,700) vs ATL
Michael Thomas didn’t miss a beat while Drew Brees was recovering from injury, but their reunion last week was great for fantasy owners. Thomas caught all 11 of his targets for 112 yards and a touchdown last week against Arizona and should be able to post similar production against an equally terrible Falcons defense. He’s averaging over 11 targets a game and is the top target for the Saints in the red zone. Thomas is expensive, and his relative lack of big-play upside compared to other high-priced receivers leads me to prefer him in cash. He is certainly viable in tournaments, but he makes it difficult to pay up elsewhere and probably needs at least one touchdown to have a shot at tournament-winning upside.
Christian Kirk, ARI ($10,200) at TB
Christain Kirk is simply too cheap for his role in the Cardinals offense, especially given the game environment they should be in this week. Kirk has been targetted at least 11 times in half of his six games this season, but he’s only broken the 100-yard mark once. He’s due for some positive regression, in both yards and touchdowns, and it’s definitely better to get be early on his breakout game than being late. He’s a great option to stack with Kyler Murray or as part of a game stack with Jameis Winston, but he also makes sense as a cheap way to get exposure to that game if you only want a small piece of it.
Chris Godwin, TB ($14,000) vs ARI
Chris Godwin has been quiet the last two weeks, deferring to teammate Mike Evans who has been absolutely dominant over the same stretch, but this has still been an incredible breakout season for him. Godwin has four games of over 120 receiving yards, six touchdowns on the season, and has seen at least eight targets in five straight games. The Cardinals have really struggled with defending slot receivers and Godwin has emerged at one of the best in the league. Patrick Peterson will probably shadow Evans, which means the path of least resistance for Tampa Bay should be Godwin. If he sees double-digit targets in this game you’ll probably need him in your lineup to have a chance at taking down a tournament.
Tyler Boyd, CIN ($9,600) vs BAL
The matchup here isn’t great, but with A.J. Green looking less likely to suit up for the Bengals at all this season Tyler Boyd should see as much volume as he can handle as the safety valve for rookie quarterback Ryan Finley. Boyd is the best healthy receiver the Bengals have and has seen double-digit targets five times already this season. For this price, Boyd does not have to be that efficient with that volume to return value and he allows for spending up on the stud running backs. There’s also some upside here as it’s possible Finley is an improvement over Andy Dalton, at least where Boyd’s fantasy value is concerned, and the Bengals should be throwing often in this game as 10.5 point underdogs at home.
Cash Game Options:
Rhett Ellison, NYG ($5,000) at NYJ
The tight end landscape is pretty barren this week as far as cash plays are concerned, which makes a minimum-priced Rhett Ellison really appealing. Ellison will be filling in for the injured Evan Engram, and last time he filled that role Ellison saw seven targets. He’s probably not going to have a huge day, but he doesn’t have to at this price. If he gets a few catches it’ll be worth rostering him in order to pay up elsewhere, and with the question makes surrounding the other tight end options this sets up as a good week to essentially punt the position with a player that is mispriced for his role, even if that role may not offer much upside.
Mark Andrews, BAL ($9,500) at CIN
If you wanted to pay up for a tight end in cash, then Mark Andrews would probably be my preferred target. I would avoid him in cash because of his snap count last week, but there is no denying his upside for tournaments especially in a favorable matchup. Andrews saw at least seven targets every week prior to the last game against New England, and he sees a healthy amount of valuable targets down the field. He projects as the best stack partner for Lamar Jackson and has a good chance of being the highest-scoring tight end on the slate.
Mike Gesicki, MIA ($5,200) at IND
Mike Gesicki came out of college as a highly regarded tight end prospect with incredible athletic measurables, but until last week that had not really translated into production at the NFL level. Last week against the Jets Gesicki caught all six of his targets for a career-high 95 yards, and his role should only increase after Preston Williams suffered a season-ending injury. Normally there’d be a lot of risk in chasing a player the week after their first breakout game, especially when they play in a bad offense, but at just $200 above the minimum it’s hard to see Gesicki sinking any lineups and very easy to picture him breaking a long touchdown that wins someone a tournament. At 6’6 with 4.54 speed and 99th percentile agility, Gesicki doesn’t need many chances to break a big play. With his team expected to be trailing, and in need of someone to step up in the offense to fill the void left by Williams, Gesicki is well-positioned to build on his breakout.