Primetime Preview: Monday-Thursday BONUS Content
Nathan Smith (@Nathan___Smith)
Monday, September 18, 2017
This is a weekly article focusing on DFS strategies for primetime NFL games**
DraftKings scoring and pricing is referenced unless otherwise noted
**BONUS Content today:Today, I preview the Monday (week 2) — Thursday (week 3) two game slate on DraftKings.
This article will continue as scheduled, with weekly previews of the Sunday and Monday night primetime games
- Detroit Lions @ New York Giants (Monday, 8:30 ET on ESPN)
- Los Angeles Rams @ San Francisco 49ers (Thursday, 8:25 ET on NFL Network)
Plug Players of the Week
If you played the Sunday-Monday two game slate last night, hopefully you were able to plug Ty Montgomery, Julio Jones, and Aaron Rodgers into your lineups (see yesterday’s article for details on the Rodgers and Matt Ryan conundrum). Theo Riddick was listed as a #PlugPlayer of the week as well, and he remains on my list today. With this Monday-Thursday slate upon us, we need to identify more #PlugPlayers. At the end of this article, your Monday-Thursday plug players are featured.
Detroit Lions @ New York Giants
After looking into the Giants’ defense and identifying their strengths, we can find a better idea of how Detroit may look to attack them tonight. Due to injury, the Lions will be forced to start Greg Robinson at left tackle as he will be tasked with defending franchise QB Matthew Stafford’s blind side. If you watched any Rams’ games over the last few years, you saw how absolutely terrible Robinson is in pass protection, as he frequently ranked near the bottom of the league across multiple categories. The former number two overall pick has no chance of stopping the Giants’ intimidating pass rush, which is led by Jason Pierre-Paul and Oliver Vernon. Instead, the Lions will want to shift their game plan a bit. Rather than expecting Stafford to have enough time to take seven step drops and find Marvin Jones and Kenny Golladay deep down the field, they will have to take more of a dink and dunk approach. In my lineups, I personally will not be able to confidently play Jones or Golladay.
Rather than conclude research for the Lions offense at that point, it is important to remember we need to translate this information. How does the rest of the offense shift? The answer is that more responsibility is very likely to fall on those that can help out in the short passing game. Offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter (yes that is his real name) knows exactly how to get the best out of his stud quarterback, and should design a game plan that allows Stafford to be effective without slinging the ball downfield the whole time. This logic points me to look at Theo Riddick, Ameer Abdullah, Eric Ebro, and Golden Tate. Let’s break each of their roles down, assuming my suggested game script plays out and the Lions find themselves trying to move the chains bit by bit rather than in chunk plays.
Theo Riddick & Ameer Abdullah
Jordan Raanan of ESPN reported that Giants starting middle linebacker B.J. Goodson is set to miss this game. With linebacker Keenan Robinson already ruled out for Big Blue, the Giants are at a significant disadvantage as they try to slow down Riddick and Abdullah in the passing game. I tend like to Riddick’s upside more for a couple of reasons. While both backs can contribute and be dynamic in the passing game, Riddick’s role is almost exclusively doing such. Abdullah will be counted on more to pound the rock, something I see him not having too much success at. If Abdullah is able to rack up 15-20 carries, then he can absolutely have a good game. I am not recommending a pure fade of him from your lineups, but I do like Riddick much more. Another factor in Riddick’s favor is he is returning home, as he grew up in nearby New Jersey. Cooter isn’t going to go out of his way to feed him the ball solely for this reason, but it never hurts to have some added motivation and #Narrative Street on your side. Use Theo Riddick with confidence, as even if the Lions fall behind, he will continue to get playing time. At only 4500, he isn’t exactly costing you an arm and a leg either. Riddick is a #PlugPlayer of the week, and should easily shatter the expectations that his price tag implies.
Golden Tate & Eric Ebron
I cannot say either one of these targets are plug players, but both offer a chance to have a nice game. While the short passing game discussed above does benefit Tate, who operates out of the slot, he still has to contend with the Giants’ elite cornerbacks. Janoris Jenkins, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, and Eli Apple will make things extremely tough for Tate and fellow receivers Marvin Jones and Kenny Golladay. Backed by a ferocious pass rush, the Giants secondary poses more of a threat once JPP and company can pin their ears back and rush the passer. Eric Ebron is very intriguing because of the same reasons that the Riddick and Abdullah pose a threat out of the backfield. With the weakness of the Giants’ defense being their linebackers, that is the area the Lions and DFS players alike, will want to attack. Ebron is far from guaranteed to have a big game, but OC Jim Bob Cooter is no rookie. He will look to attack the Giants’ linebackers and that strongly favors Riddick, Abdullah, and Ebron. The reason that Ebron isn’t a complete lock is because of the imposing presence of All-Pro safety Landon Collins. He seems like the most likely candidate to cover Ebron. If this does happen, Ebron could be taken out of the game completely and/or put up a lackluster box score. It is also possible Collins keys in on pass coverage or on the Detroit running backs as well. It would be a good idea to have exposure to Ebron, but a lineup with Riddick, Ebron, and Tate for instance will likely be too heavy on the Lions pass catchers.
When it comes to Paul Perkins, at only 3800 he is an extremely good value. He should receive a good workload, but my skepticism with Perkins exists due to the possibility of Orleans Darkwa touchdown and the likelihood of Shane Vereen continuing to dominant the passing down work. Deploy Perkins if you want to, but it’s silly to say he is a sure bet at this point. The talented second year player surely has good games ahead of him, including possibly tonight, but he is not a finished product yet. Vereen excites me after a nine-catch week last week in Dallas. Darkwa is nothing more than a 2% owned complete GPP long shot, where you’re hoping for two touchdowns and another RB exiting the game.
Evan Engram will be playing in only his second ever NFL game, and the rookie athletic tight end is difficult to trust in this game. He could shake free for a few targets and/or a touchdown, making him a good GPP play, especially if superstar Odell Beckham Jr. misses tonight’s contest. Speaking of Beckham, if he plays, I will gladly take the risk of playing him. In a two-game slate, I would rather go overweight in comparison to the field, and take the risk that he has the best game of an WR on the two-game slate. Why not? With lackluster options and not many ways to spend your salary, it is easy to endorse playing one of the elite game-breakers in the NFL who will be vastly under-owned. Those rostering Beckham need to be prepared of course for him to score in single digits or be ineffective, as the reason he will be under-owned is because he is far from a guarantee to do well. With recent news pointing towards Beckham’s ankle injury being closer to being healed, I have adjusted my mindset from a couple days ago. In my personal lineups, I will have a set of 5 or 10 lineups, where I have 100% exposure to Odell. I will of course follow updates up until game time to ensure he will indeed suit up.
If Odell sits out, Sterling Shepard is the player I will be targeting the most, other than Shane Vereen. I don’t really want any part of Brandon Marshall, who did not look anything like his old self in a week 1 defeat. Even if Beckham does play, Shepard remains a valid player to target. The Lions are not very good at defending the slot, and were bottom third in the league at doing so last season when they were away from Detroit. Another point to consider on Shepard: if/when news comes that Beckham is playing, many people will likely pivot off of Shepard, leaving his ownership percentage in a weird spot. It is hard to predict what it will be, but it very well could be much lower than it should. All in all, the Giants passing game is definitely an area we want to dig deep on and investigate.
Los Angeles Rams @ San Francisco 49ers
In Thursday night’s game on NFL Network, we have an all-California matchup, with the Rams traveling to The Bay to face the 49ers. The Rams looked excellent in week 1, playing against what might be a bottom three NFL team in the Colts, yet lost to the Redskins in week 2. The Colts didn’t have any weapons that posed a big threat to the Rams, who won convincingly with QB Andrew Luck out with an injury. Against both the Colts and Redskins, the Rams were able to keep the tight ends and receivers in check and didn’t get beat very much in the secondary. I expect the same outcome in San Francisco, which leads us to wonder where the Niners will find their production. The clear choice to me is running back Carlos Hyde. I have a strange feeling he will go mysteriously under owned, compared to what he should be. If Hyde comes in at only 40% for example, I think we can absolutely capitalize by outweighing the field and locking him into our lineups. With immense talent and one of the game’s best offensive minds backing him (Offensive Coordinator Kyle Shanahan), Hyde appears in line for a big game. If we flip back to week 1 last season, we can find this very same matchup. The 49ers dominated the Rams 28-0, powered by a two-touchdown performance from Hyde. I expect more success from the man who was the reason Ezekiel Elliot didn’t start right away at Ohio State.
Marquese Goodwin profiles as an excellent GPP play. He has amazing speed as the former track star at Texas can get downfield in a blink. With gunslinger Brian Hoyer not being afraid in the least to sling it, Goodwin always carries the chance to break off a long 50-80 yard touchdown. At only 3500, Goodwin can win you a tournament if you roster him and he goes off. Buyer beware: he can also get 2 catches for 16 yards and disappoint you. He is extremely volatile, but the reward very well could end up outweighing the risk in this spot.
The Rams good secondary scares me off of Pierre Garcon a bit, but without many options on this slate at WR and his very secure role, Garcon remains firmly in play. I don’t want to play any 49er tight ends or take a chance on any RB/WR other than Hyde, Goodwin, or Garcon. Although, if your research leads you there, never be afraid to trust your gut. I would rather go for players mentioned previously than for backup 49ers.
The Rams look much improved on offense under first year head coach Sean McVay. Quarterback Jared Goff looks to improve weekly on his connection with new teammates Sammy Watkins and Cooper Kupp. Tavon Austin has been a non-factor in the offensive game plan so far this season. The 49ers have a weak defensive backfield, so Watkins is certainly a target of mine and a threat to have his first big game since being traded from the Buffalo Bills. I like rookie Cooper Kupp as well, a player that will mostly operate in the slot and although less likely to break off a big play, already showed in week 1, that he can reach the end zone. These are my main targets in the Rams passing game, but tight end Gerald Everett can’t be ignored.
The player that most people will target is running back Todd Gurley, who is coming off of two solid games to start the year. Gurley is a relatively safe bet, but you would think game flow could potentially force him to receive less carries if the Rams were to play from behind for a large portion of the game. However, the Rams have utilized Gurley much more in the passing game this year and he definitely poses a threat to contribute through the air as well as on the ground. Most people won’t want much exposure in general to the Rams, who have been dreadful on offense over the last decade. Most will subconsciously choose to ignore the fact that the Rams have put a lot of points on the scoreboard over the season’s first two weeks, leading to very few rosters with Gurley and Watkins, or Gurley and Kupp. This is a very sharp tournament strategy if you think the Rams will pound the 49ers.
I will continue to follow the news leading up to the Rams @ 49ers game on Thursday, in case anything happens that changes how this game is shaping up. In the meantime, it’s time to lock and load with my #PlugPlayers of the week.
#PlugPlayers: Mon-Thu 2 Game Slate
- Theo Riddick, 4500
- Carlos Hyde, 5200
- Odell Beckham Jr.**, 8000
BONUS: To close out the bonus article, why not have a couple bonus plays? These players were in high consideration to be plug players, but narrowly missed the cut. However, I still like them a lot, and I will be using them in a lot of my lineups, but not all of them. Other solid GPP targets can be found by dissecting the analysis in this article.
- Todd Gurley II, 6800
- Shane Vereen, 4000
- Sammy Watkins, 5500
- Marquese Goodwin, 3500
**Right after finishing this article, news started to break that Beckham would for sure play Monday night. If you read the Giants’ breakdown from above, you will see my reasoning for using him in lineups tonight.
Primetime Preview will be back in Week 3, as the Redskins host the Raiders, and the Cowboys travel to Arizona.
I write about the NFL and more for TheSportsTalk
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