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Fantasy Roundtable: Jimmy Graham, LeSean McCoy, and More

DFW writers had a roundtable chat about hot topics in the NFL this week, read on to see what they had to say.

Q: Is Jimmy Graham the top TE this week?

Danny:

I think yes. The Saints have the highest point projection at nearly 30 and they barely run the ball. The Bucs are Jets like in the sense that they are a much better run defense than pass defense. Graham is always the focal point of the offense and at now under $8000 on FanDuel he seems like a huge bargain.

Nick:

He’s clearly a fine choice, but I don’t think he’s the top choice. The Saints offense is running the ball more with an OL that is controlling the line of scrimmage, they have more weapons with Cooks at WR and Graham isn’t getting nearly as many red zone looks. Graham’s two scores against the Browns came when Joe Haden was covering him one-on-one (size difference) and almsot all of his production against the Cowboys came in garbage time on dinks and dunks when the Cowboys were playing soft zone. As far the Saints standard offense, he’s not getting nearly the looks as he was last year. Part of the reason Graham did so well last year was his 16 TDs and I don’t see him getting more than 11. Plus, while I like several other players around $6,000 (Greg Olsen, Delanie Walker, Larry Donnell), Julius Thomas has a much better matchup in that the Cardinals are terrible at defending TEs while having a fantastic secondary. Thomas also already has 5 TDs and could have more based on his targets.

Max:

I’m in the middle here, while I’m not that high on Graham this week (though I do like him and I think the Saints crush the Bucs this weekend), there aren’t many better options, especially on FanDuel. Sked named Greg Olsen, Walker, and Donnell, who I like, but not for $1,500-$2,000 less than Graham. On DraftKings however, his salary is a lot higher relative to the amount of salary you have to give to position players, and there are viable options like Kelce for $3,000, Olsen (a player I really like in PPR especially) is much more reasonable at $5,300, and Walker is only $4,300.

Nick:

How much cheaper would other TE options need to be for you to realistically like them more?

Max:

I would say if Donnell and Olsen were in the low $5,000s I would definitely be more inclined to use them than Graham. I know it’s a small difference but that $500-$1,000 can make a significant upgrade at another position

Q: Is LeSean McCoy still a top tier running back?

Max:

It’s hard to say, Chip Kelly has stated Mccoy is healthy and there’s no one really taking away from his touches. When you watch him play, you don’t see anything that jumps out besides that there just aren’t very many holes for him. He’s faced some tough run defenses the past couple of weeks but this weekend he faces the Rams who are poor against the run. If he has a bad game this weekend, I’ll be very worried, but I expect him to have a nice game. I think his price is too high on DraftKings but on FanDuel he’s a very reasonable play. Still, I won’t be using him in any of my heads up games.

Danny:

Most NFL fans don’t realize that the Eagles have offensive line injuries to Jason Kelce and Evan Mathis which is hurting them a ton. Evan Mathis has been the best guard in the NFL for half a decade, and losing him has been huge. McCoy is not a power back, he’s not gonna break a lot of tackles, so if there aren’t holes for him to get to the 2nd level and make people miss on one on one scenarios he’s not going to be that good. With that said, the Eagles get tackle Lane Johnson back from suspension who will be a big upgrade for them. And this week they face a really bad Rams run defense. I think we see McCoy have a great game this week. But Week 10 when Kelce and Mathis return, I’m gonna be all over him.

Nick:

Good point Danny, the offensive line needs to get it together, but the answer is yes. The Eagles ran the ball fairly well against the Jaguars and Colts, but they looked terrible against Washington and San Francisco. Washington and San Francisco have good rush defenses, Washington’s banged up secondary was taken advantage of by Nick Foles (McCoy was also knocked out for part of the game) and the Eagles barely had the ball since their three TDs were on defense and special teams. This is too circumstantial for people to panic and abandon McCoy. To be fair though, McCoy still probably won’t be a top three RB since Darren Sproles is getting some of this work. He’s still an $8,000+ RB.

Danny:

Honestly Sked, it seems like Sproles is vulturing on McCoy’s snaps but the data shows otherwise. McCoy last year played 75% of snaps and he’s actually slightly above that mark this year. They are putting Sproles and McCoy on the field together sometimes but for the most part Sproles is just taking the carries Bryce Brown got a year ago. Sproles is so explosive and targeted he can have huge games in only a few snaps.

Nick:

Fair point, but McCoy has been used as a decoy sometimes with Sproles in the backfield at the same time. Since he’s getting a slightly higher percentage of snaps, I’m not sure if he’s still getting the ball as much. Nevertheless, we are essentially on the same page that McCoy is a great play this week.

Q: Will you use Jerrick McKinnon or Matt Asiata this week in your lineups? And if so, who will you use?

Nick:

There is a lot of popularity with McKinnon, but I’m still going with Asiata. The coaching staff said this week that McKinnon will still only be used as a change of pace back, and that he still has a long way to go in other areas. Those include pass-blocking on third down as well as pass catching. Asiata is still clearly the starter, the goal line back and is more in sync with the passing game. Even though Asiata is $1,300 more expensive than McKinnon, he’s much more likely to get TDs and he’ll get more carries. He’s certainly going to get more than 2.5 FPTS than McKinnon on average.

Max:

I would use neither this week. My guess is Mckinnon will be a popular pick against a weak Packers D but as Sked already mentioned Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer has said he sees Mckinnon as a change of pace back. Both are way too expensive and the Vikings are projected to score only 19 points Thursday night. I’d stay away completely. Keep in mind that even though the Vikings looked great against the Falcons, the road teams on Thursday nights (aside from the Giants last week) almost always struggle.

Nick:

I should have mentioned, I like Asiata more than McKinnon, but if Teddy Bridgewater doesn’t play, I definitely wouldn’t play eiter back. If Bridgewater does play, maybe you use Asiata in a GPP or two, but only if you’re making a ton of lineups.

Danny:

I think on DraftKings they are each cheap enough to be worth a play in a GPP, but let’s not overreact to great games against the Falcons, who Vegas seems to think is the worst defense in the NFL. The underwhelming Giants offense is even a top 5 point projection against them. McKinnon certainly has more upside, but Asiata is going to get the goal line carries and vulture TDs. If one of them gets injured or becomes the clear front runner like Asiata has been in the past two weeks, either will be a top play. But right now they’re killing each others value.

Q: Who is your sleeper for this weekend?

Max:

Calvin Johnson. We so easily forget how amazing of a game Megatron is capable of (remember the 329 yard game he had against the Cowboys last year?) and he’s stated he’s feeling a lot better this week. I think he’s used by less than 8% of players this week and should be an amazing play for tournaments.

Danny:

Rashad Jennings. This guy was the main guy for Oakland last season and had a quite good season for being on such a bad team. This year he is on a much better Giants team who have the best offensive line in the NFL according to PFF. They are small favorites, but the Giants have a 27 point projection this week and have a run play percentage that is top 10 in the league. Jennings is somewhat expensive on FanDuel at $7100, but I think he is a top RB this week.

Max:

I’d also like to add to Dannys point that people looking at the box score on Thursday may be worried about Andre Williams taking away his carries but Williams got almost all his carries in garbage time and the Giants seemed to be content resting Jennings when the game was out of reach for the Skins.

Nick:

The Giants DST. Yes, this is not a joke. Put aside the fact that the Giants DST has forced nine turnovers and four sacks the last two games and posted a combined 30 FPTS for now. The Falcons just lost their starting center (Joe Hawley) and starting right tackle for the season (Lamar Holes). Plus, Atlanta is already a significantly worse football team on the road outdoors. Take a look here for the difference in Ryan’s stats from outdoors vs. indoors last year. You’ll find the same is true this season. With the Giants -4 at home and the line trending more in NYGs favor, this defense has tremendous upside this weekend.

Q: Blake Bortles or Teddy Bridgewater?

Max:

Both QBs have negative factors going into their games this week. Bridgewater has an injury and is on the road in a Thursday night game. Bortles is facing Dick Lebeau’s defense that is 18-2 against rookie QBs in their career. I believe Bortles is the better pick here and I love his potential as a franchise QB, but rookies will have their ups and downs. In the end, I think he’s a good GPP play especially at $5,200 on DraftKings.

Danny:

Neither. I have some subjective bias for Bridgewater because I watched him play in college and was very impressed. But both teams have under 20 point projections, so I’m not gonna touch either of them. A lot of people are going to like Bridgewater from last game, but it was against the worst defense in the NFL. I like Bortles moving forward mostly because the Vikings have a running game and the Jaguars do not, so I think were gonna see a lot more passing from the Jags, and therefore more fantasy points from Bortles. Bortles is also cheaper on both FanDuel and DraftKings.

Nick:

This is really tough since I like both guys in general, but for this week I’m taking Bortles. The Jaguars are at home at +6 and the Vikings are +9.5 on the road on a short week. Bortles is healthy, Bridgewater is questionable and his mobility might be limited with his ankle. The Steelers defense is also incredibly banged up without Ike Taylor, Ryan Shazier and Jarvis Jones. I agree with Danny as well, the Jaguars running game is also significantly worse than the Vikings.

View all posts by Daniel Steinberg
Daniel Steinberg

About the Author

Daniel Steinberg Daniel Steinberg is a former bond trader at a multi-billion dollar proprietary trading firm in Chicago. He uses his knowledge of statistics and his creativity from his career as a poker professional to create the most advanced Daily Fantasy statistical analysis that you will find anywhere. Follow him on twitter @DanielSingerS

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