Welcome to NFL Week 7 friends! Let’s recap what we’re doing here. This is a weekly piece on DFS plays for Draft Kings with a focus on GPPs, in particular, the main slate. The articles will indicate who I think will be the chalk plays, who some pivots or contrarian plays are to get off the chalk, and some punt plays that could either save on salary or are just so far below the radar they might be tournament winning plays if all goes well. Instead of saying “Player A” is chalk, pivot to “Player B,” there will be a chart showing my data for the match-ups with the chalk/pivots/punts listed after that. In this article, pivots can be a pivot from one player to another player at the same position, from one position to another, or just a way to pivot to the other side of a game that everyone else might be stacking.
Simply put, the pivots will not always be direct pivots, more like other ideas to consider in the macro-view of the slate. Each game will have a brief write up and will include the team’s projected point total and spread as of the time of writing. Without further ado, let’s have a look at the Sunday main slate.
Above is the Vegas implied totals and lines for each game, as well as match-up data I have compiled for pace, opponent fantasy points allowed, and raw Yards & TD data vs. the positions we are looking at for building our DFS rosters. Red is bad, orange is beware, yellow is more neutral, and green is good. The dark green shade is better than good.
Below is my Chalk, Pivots, and Punts Chart based on my opinion of the slate and what the field will likely be on this week.
Websites I use to research are:
- Daily Roto for Snaps, Targets, Carries, and Red Zone Opportunities (Promo code: “grid10” Save 10%)
- The Quant Edge for WR/CB Match-Up Data (Promo code: “gridironexperts” Save 10%)
- Pro Football Focus for WR/CB and OL/DL Match-Up Data
Plus I have a spreadsheet of my own that I use to keep track of defensive points by position (ie. WR1, WR2, Slot, etc) and multi-TD games allowed.
Now, let’s dig into each game and see what the good chalk is, where to pivot, and if there are any good punts on the slate. Note, in previous weeks I had the games listed in order as they appeared on the Draft Kings slate. Games are listed in order of Vegas implied point totals since the higher scoring games are where we tend to focus our attention first when constructing rosters.
Los Angeles Rams (31.25/-9.5) at San Francisco 49ers (21.25/+9.5) [52.5]
Here we have a game of pupil versus teacher. Sean McVay started his career under Jon Gruden as an assistant WR coach in TB, then went to a college WR coaching job. Upon his return to the NFL, he was hired by Kyle Shanahan as his assistant TE coach in Washington. As the years went on and Shanny left the Skins, McVay eventually ascended to Offensive Coordinator under Jay Gruden, keeping much of the same concepts he learned under Shanahan. If you like play action football, this game will be right up your alley. The Niners defended the Packers play action game well on Monday night, but coming off a short week with that defensive game plan on tape, they’re going to have to ramp it up again this week to beat McVay’s Rams. With Kupp likely out of this game, a couple of punt options on the Rams side are Josh Reynolds ($3500) and Gerald Everett ($2700). Everett got 3 of his 4 targets last week after Kupp went to the locker room, while Josh Reynolds got the very next target – but only saw 1 more after that, which was intercepted. Rams are talking up Reynolds as an every down WRs though, so they’ll go back to the drawing board and scheme some stuff up for him on the outside, while Robert Woods ($7000) is likely to fill in at slot receiver. Woods will likely be chalky this week, but I also like Brandin Cooks ($7100) in this one. The Niners have trouble with speed at times, and Cooks could be in for a couple of big plays. Jared Goff ($6600) and Todd Gurley ($9800) are also going to be chalky this week, but they are in great spots so if you can afford to, play them.
After watching the Niners stay in the game all the way up to the C.J. Beathard ($4800) interception to end it, it would seem that Shanahan is capable of getting production out of anyone on this roster. At $4800 Beathard isn’t the worst idea for a punt. This game has the highest total on the slate, after all. Marquise Goodwin ($4600) had an explosive first half against the Pack, and since that game was on MNF his price was already set this low before it happened. It feels like point chasing, but he’s the most dynamic threat at WR for the Niners, and he will be heavily involved in the game plan. George Kittle ($5000) had a bit of a quiet Monday night, but he is also a focal point in this offense and should see plenty of looks against a team that let Jared Cook go for 27 points against them in their last trip to the Bay Area. Matt Breida ($5300) is the best bet at RB and with a somewhat depleted RB pool this week, he has to be considered.
Cleveland Browns (23.25/+3.5) at Tampa Bay Bucs (26.25/-3.5) [50.5]
Scott Barrett of PFF posted a stat showing yards allowed by each defense to WRs that ran routes from the slot. The Bucs were #2 on that list, allowing 109.2 yards per game to slot receivers. Since this was posted on Twitter by a prominent member of the fantasy community and most people are aware of the Bucs struggles against WRs, Jarvis Landry ($7300) would seem to be heading for chalk status this week – despite the burn marks he left on DFS rosters last week. If for some reason you don’t want to spend up for Landry this week, Tampa is dreadful against the TE position as well allowing 26.5 points per game to the position while at home – worst on the slate. David Njoku ($4200) has seen 23 targets come his way the last two weeks and should be busy in this one with a lack of healthy and trustworthy targets left on the roster. He’ll probably be chalky, but the match-up is ripe. Also, with Tampa giving up 9.0 yards per attempt and 355 yards per game at home this year, Baker Mayfield ($5800) is definitely on the short list of QBs I’m high on this week. I suspect many others will be on him too at this price in this match-up. A punt option here would be Damion Ratley ($3600) who saw 8 targets last week. If Antonio Callaway ($4300) keeps dropping the ball, Ratley is going to start seeing more targets.
Jameis Winston ($6300) appears to be picking up where he left off last year and throwing for either multiple TDs per game or over 300 yards. His OC Todd Monken has the Bucs throwing for the most yards per game at 10 yards per attempt this year, giving Winston a high floor to start with. If this game shoots-out, he should be in the top 3 or 5 QBs this week. Having so many good targets to throw to helps Winston, but is tricky for DFS players to peg which one to roster each week. Mike Evans ($7700) started out on fire but has cooled off the last few weeks. He’ll likely draw a lot of coverage from rookie stud Denzel Ward, which will be a good match-up for both of them. Desean Jackson ($5800) had two monster games to start the year, but has remained a little more consistent than Evans and will likely be taking his routes against burnable replacement CB T.J Carrie, which is the best match-up for the Bucs WRs in this one. Jackson and Chris Godwin ($4600) are sharing that #2 WR role, so that puts Godwin in play as well. Godwin is leading the team in red zone targets and has caught a TD in every game but one this year. His floor seems fairly safe if that continues, but he has the lowest ceiling of the trio. The TEs become a bit of a headache now with Winston back as Cam Brate ($3100) tends to draw a lot of red zone looks from Winston, but O.J. Howard ($3600) is the more talented player of the two. Howard did out target Brate in the red zone last week 2 to 1, but Brate was the one who caught the TD. Howard has a better shot to produce since he gets more targets and plays more snaps. His price is manageable, and the Browns are another team that struggles with good TEs. Peyton Barber ($3800) finally got his wheels on the tracks last week and put up 20 points. He’s a fine punt play this week, since the Browns have the most green boxes for rushing on the match-up chart. He’ll help you squeeze in the Thielens and Gurleys onto your roster.
New England Patriots (26.5/-3.5) at Chicago Bears (23.0/+3.5) [49.5]
The Bears defense is the only team in the league not to allow a rushing TD yet this year, so the way to attack them will be through the air. Slot receivers Cobb, Lockett and Amendola have all found success against the Bears, which puts Julian Edelman ($6600) on my radar for Patriots WRs. Edelman led the team with 3 red zone targets last week. However, Josh Gordon ($5600) has been getting more involved in the offense. Gordon led NE in targets last week (including 1 in the back of the end zone), and adds a deep threat element they haven’t really had yet this year. He’s very reasonably priced and seems to be on the verge of an explosive game in the next week or two. A combo that interests me quite a bit in this game is going to be the discounted pair of Tom Brady ($6100) and Rob Gronkowski ($6000). The Match-Up chart shows the Bears as a team you can target with TEs, and if the Bears get back to their usual M.O. and shut down the run game, then Brady will be dealing in this one. The Pats backs are priced outside of my comfort level for what to expect here, so I’ll probably leave them out of my pool. Michel is too TD dependent and CHI doesn’t allow those, and White will need 10+ targets to reach value, which he can do.
Aside from Danny Amendola (narrative shut-down?) the Patriots are consistently giving up 13 to 24 points (average of 18 points a game) to slot WRs. Anthony Miller ($3400) becomes an intriguing punt option at that price with that type of data in his favor. Tarik Cohen ($5100) has caught 7 balls each of the last two games and has been producing excellent value. His price is still manageable, so I’ll have some interest there. The Pats are pretty average in terms of rushing yards allowed stats, but are tough on allowing rushing TDs. Jordan Howard ($5500) could be in a good, under-the-radar spot to have a breakout game here. Howard will likely be low owned if you’re looking for a pivot.
New Orleans Saints (23.75/+2) at Baltimore Ravens (25.75/-2) [49.5]
Sean Payton has had an extra week to try and figure out how to move the ball on Wink Martindale’s defense. Not many have figured that out yet this year, especially when the Ravens are at home. Drew Brees ($5700) is priced way down from what we’d normally see because of this. We’re also dealing with Drew Brees away from the Superdome, where he’s not the same QB. Drew Brees has also struggled in his 4 meetings against the Ravens, going 0-4 with one of the worst A/YA of his career while facing them. It’s going to be really hard to trust a lot of the offensive players for the Saints this week, and the one with the highest probability of meeting value is the 2nd highest priced WR on the slate, Michael Thomas ($7900). For as hard on the pass as the Ravens appear, they’re just as tough against the run. And with Ingram back in the fold, both RBs look to cut into each other’s production this week. You can make a case for Alvin Kamara ($8500) catching a lot of passes in this one if they can’t run the ball, which seems likely. Kamara is pricey and in a perceived bad match-up, so he might go lower owned than usual. If you can afford him as a contrarian play, it could work out well. With Teddy Ginn going on IR, it will open up some opportunity for the new guys to the Saints receiving corps to get themselves established. Cam Meredith ($3800) and Tre’Quan Smith ($3700) make for a couple of low floor/ high-risk punt options, but should probably be left on the shelf for at least another week. Kamara is pretty much the only one I’ll have an interest in here.
Joe Flacco ($5400) is in a really good spot here. The Saints are tough against the run, and if the Saints offense gets going, then Flacco is going to have to throw to keep Baltimore in it. The Saints on the road are allowing the highest average of points to QBs on the slate and the second highest YPA. The two WRs that stick out for me here are going to be deep threat John Brown ($5700) matched up with Ken Crawley and Willie Snead ($4000) against P.J. Williams. Snead has the revenge game narrative going for him as well. The Ravens passing game also creates a cheap stack to open up salary to spend elsewhere.
Detroit Lions (24.75/-3) at Miami Dolphins (21.75/+3) [46.5]
The Lions are fresh off a bye week, and should be getting stud RG T.J. Lang back. Now, let’s hope they figured out how to use Kerryon Johnson ($4500) correctly with the extra time to self-evaluate. The Dolphins are allowing the most points per game on the slate to RBs and are one of the weakest teams versus pass-catching backs, which isn’t Johnson’s #1 calling card but he is averaging 3 targets a game this year. If pass-catching specialist Theo Riddick ($3800) were to miss this game (seems like he will), Johnson will be the main beneficiary in this regard (unless Ameer Abdullah is activated). Johnson and Riddick each average 26.8 snaps a game, so if Theo is out Johnson should absorb most of those snaps while Blount takes his usual 15-20. The scenario could also make Johnson chalky this week. Golden Tate ($6400) could also benefit from running routes into the line-backing corps and against a banged up Bobby McCain (if he plays). None of the Dolphins corners should be avoided, so fire up Tate, Kenny Golladay ($6000) and/or Marvin Jones ($4900) as you see fit this week. I do have concerns about rostering Stafford though, especially if DET is able to impose their will in the run game. Stafford’s pass attempts have declined for 4 weeks in a row now, and the Lions have run under 55 plays each of the last 2 games. There plays per game is high variance though, so this could be a get back on the horse game for Stafford. Considering the shootout Miami just played last week, anything can happen.
The month of Brocktober continues as Brock Osweiler ($4700) will get another start in place of the injured Tannehill. Brock is not good, and the Detroit secondary is better than Chicago’s, so I wouldn’t reach for him as a punt this week chasing last week’s numbers. Kenyan Drake ($4900) and Frank Gore ($3800) are interesting options due to Detroit’s struggles against the run. Detroit allows the most rushing yards, most yards per carry, and are giving up the highest points per game to RB1s on the slate. The snap share between Drake and Gore is about 60/40 in Drake’s favor, making him the higher upside target. Gore has more carries per game than Drake but Drake smokes him on targets, and they are equal in red zone opportunities with 8 apiece. Drake is the third highest targeted player on the team with 31, only one less than another guy we should be looking at this week who is now the team leader in targets, Albert Wilson ($4000). Wilson went bananas last week against the Bears, and now has two games over 20 points this year. Stills and Amendola are still out-snapping him by a good margin, but Wilson is hitting on the big plays for this offense. Stills has been quiet since his big week 1 game, and was only targeted twice by Brockenstein in over 4 quarters last week. Amendola saw 11 targets, but DET is tough on slot receivers, so I wouldn’t expect much there. Drake and Wilson are the plays here, if you must use any Phins.
Minnesota Vikings (25.25/-4) at New York Jets (21.25/+4) [46.5]
Adam Thielen ($8600) has become the safest WR option the year, and he’s still priced cheaper than he should be. His lowest target total this year is 10 and his lowest yardage total is 102. He’s also caught TDs in 4 out of 6 games. It’s obvious he’s the apple of Kirk Cousins’ eye ($6400). Going back to that Scott Barrett Twitter post the Jets are right there with Tampa in allowing 109 yards to slot receivers this year, indicating this is a smash spot for Thielen. He’ll be massive chalk, but he’s almost a lock for roster construction this week. Stefon Diggs ($7200) will probably see Mo Claiborne following him around this week. Claiborne leads the league in pass break-ups and has a couple of INTs on the year making Diggs a less appealing target for Cousins should he shadow him. The Jets have shut down every TE they’ve faced except for Ebron last week, so I won’t be looking at Rudolph here. Carlos Hyde is the only RB to go over 20 points against the Jets stingy run defense, but if Cook sits again (which seems likely), you have to consider Lat Murray ($5000). Murray dominated snaps and touches out of the backfield last week, and should do the same here.
That 21+ point total seems a bit high for the Jets this week. Other than the Rams game and Davante Adams, the Vikings have been shutting down opposing WRs. Goff, Wentz, and the Josh Allen surprise game are the 3 games over 20 points by a QB this year. Jeremy Bates is no offensive guru, so I have no interest in the Jets passing game this week, and really no interest in this offense as a whole. You’ll have to be trying some really contrarian stuff to roster any of these guys. If you did, you could punt with the most likely target hog in Enunwa’s absence – Jermaine Kearse ($4100).
Carolina Panthers (20.25/+5) at Philadelphia Eagles (25.25/-5) [45.5]
This game seems like it should be higher for the total implied points. Both teams are good against the run and bad against the pass. Cam Newton ($5900) was able to run the ball on the Eagles defense last year to the tune of 71 yards and a TD, but that was in Carolina, and now the Eagles will be paying attention to that. With no real deep threats (Cam wouldn’t be accurate enough with them anyway), it’s going to put a lot of pressure on the Panthers WRs to win their match-ups. The Eagles bleed points to #1 WRs, but Devin Funchess ($5300) is hard to trust in this clunky offense. If the Panthers use Christian McCaffrey like the Giants used Barkley last week, he could be in for a pretty good day. Barkley was targeted 12 time and ran the ball another 13. I don’t expect CMC to match what Barkley did exactly, but he could get over 20 points in this one.
Carson Wentz ($6000) and Zach Ertz ($7100) will account for at least one of my stacks this week, with the probability of adding Alshon Jeffery ($6300) to the stack. Carolina is third on the slate for points allowed to TEs, and Ertz is a beast. I also think Jeffrey can beat Bradberry enough to put up a 20 point game. Carolina has allowed at least two passing TDs in each of the last 4 weeks, and there’s no reason to believe that streak ends here.
Buffalo Bills (17.75/+7.5) at Indianapolis Colts (25.25/-7.5) 
Lesean McCoy ($5600) is the only Bills player I can fathom using, but that price is a no-go. The Bills DST ($2300) has been decent a few weeks this year, and could probably sack and intercept Luck enough times to be a worthwhile punt at defense this week. New QB Derek Anderson ($4300) is an interesting deep punt at QB this week. Hard to believe he can come in after peeling himself off his couch and put up a good enough game to warrant actual consideration, but the price is just so low he’ll be interesting to see what he can unlock in roster construction and if it’s worth it. If there is any silver linings here, it’s that DA has played with Fat Kelvin before, so there is some familiarity there. Whether or not he actually trusts him now is another story.
Andrew Luck ($6200) is throwing a ton of passes this year, creating plenty of scoring opportunity for fantasy points. He’ll be a pivot if you’re looking for lower ownership at QB in this price range. T.Y Hilton ($6200) will be back for this one and will square off a lot with Tredavious White. I have mild interest in TY, but probably won’t pull the trigger on him or anyone else in this game. The Colts DST ($3300) is priced pretty high, but they are facing a lackluster offense that will be lead by a guy that hasn’t played meaningful snaps sine 2016.
Dallas Cowboys (20.25/+1.5) at Washington Redskins (21.75/-1.5) 
This game starts and ends with Ezekiel Elliott ($8100), even in a not so good match-up on paper. Zeke will get his touches and be the focal point of the offense, ensuring a solid floor. However, the Redskins know Zeke is all they have to worry about, and they do have a fairly solid run defense this year. They just faced a similar team last week and shut down the Panthers run game, so paying up for Zeke this week would be a bit on the contrarian side. Cole Beasley ($3900) erupted for 34.1 DK points last week and was a punt option noted in this article for Wk6. Part of the cause for the spike week was based on opponent weakness, exacerbated by familiarity with the particular player Beasley was facing. Jags slot corner was previously a Cowboy, and Beasley ran routes against that guy every week in practice. I don’t foresee a similar outcome versus Fabian Moreau this week. This whole offense is a pass for me this week.
The Redskins offense looks pretty ugly right now, too. The only two players I have any interest in will be Chris Thompson ($5800) if he plays and Jordan Reed ($4800). Crowder looks doubtful, which will increase both of these guys targets with check down machine Alex Smith ($5100) at the controls.
Houston Texans (18.25/+5) at Jacksonville Jaguars (23.25/-5) [41.5]
The Jaguars pass defense is a bear at home, and was able to limit DeAndre Hopkins ($6900) to 18 points in each game last year. Will Fuller ($5500) was out for both games. Hopkins missed Thursday practice with a foot injury, and Fuller is listed as questionable. The guy with the best match-up of the three primary WRs is Keke Coutee ($4300) against Tyler Patmon in the slot. I also like Lamar Miller ($4200) as a punt in this one, since the Jags do allow some room for the run.
The Texans defense is attackable with the QB. Blake Bortles ($5200) is cheap this week and is a viable punt play if you’re looking to pay down at QB. Pass catching backs have also been able to put up points on the Texans, which puts T.J. Yeldon ($6400) on the radar. He’ll probably go low owned because of his price (RB6), but there aren’t a ton of great options at RB this week, so he’s worth a look.
Based on spreadsheet scouting, the top plays this week could be Joe Flacco and Baker Mayfield at QB, Kerryon Johnson and Peyton Barber at RB, Jarvis Landry and Smoke Brown at WR, and David Njoku at TE. Add in the must plays based on talent and volume like Todd Gurley, Adam Thielen, and Zach Ertz, and you should be well on your way to building solid cash line-ups. Take it a step farther and mix in a couple pivots and punts, and you’ve got your GPP line-ups. Good luck this week, and thanks for reading!
Good Luck this week