Every NFL week is odd in its own way. As we enter Week 7, the weirdness comes via an incredible amount of injuries. It seems like half the league is questionable, and not in a Belichick sort of way, either - lots of key players are legitimately questionable to play just 24 hours before lineups lock for Sunday kickoff.
As game time approaches, here's how I see things as I contemplate Week 7 lineups on DraftKings.
Injuries = Narrower passing trees. Golden Tate exploded in Week 6 to the tune of 8-165-1, exceeding his total yardage and touchdowns from the prior five games combined. Old man Boldin got in on the act as well, posting 8-60-1 on 9 targets at just $3,900. In retrospect, it's easy to see why this happened: Eric Ebron and Theo Riddick were both inactive, leaving Matthew Stafford few options in the passing game.
So who are this week's version of Tate and Boldin, i.e. guys who will get more usage because of injuries around them? That's the question I'll be asking myself until 1pm Sunday.
If LeSean McCoy is inactive, Mike Gillislee is a borderline must play in cash at minimum salary. He's a virtual lock for 15(+) touches on the NFL's best rushing offense.
Jamaal Charles was severely out-snapped by Spencer Ware last week and tweaked his knee in practice. Even if Charles plays, Ware has a great home matchup against the Saints 30th-ranked rush DVOA, but it's a truly fantastic spot if Charles is inactive.
Ebron and Riddick are out again, and I'd think Josh Norman will shadow Marvin Jones (who is overpriced at $7,000 anyway), so Tate ($4,900) and Boldin ($4,000) are both sold options. Boldin is the antithesis of sexy, but he's a nice pivot off of Tate with the public chasing last week's points.
The Lions D is last in DVOA, so with the public's attention on SD/Atl and KC/NO, a Wash/Det stack may be sneaky. Jordan Reed is out again, but Vernon Davis ran a route on all 35 of Kirk Cousins' passes last week. At just $2,900 and facing a Lions D that has given up nearly a TD per game to opposing tight ends over the past two years, Vernon is playable in cash and GPPs. So is Pierre Garcon at $3,700, especially if Desean Jackson doesn't play. But my favorite play from this game might be Matt Jones at just $4,200. Jones won't do much in the passing game, but 18 carries behind a terrific offensive line against a terrible Lions defense is going to yield 20(+) DK points. Even with all the value at RB this week - Gillislee, DeMarco, Quizz, Ware - I see Jones as an option in cash.
SD-ATL has the highest O/U of the week at 53, so we know points are coming. But from where? Julio Jones always has the potential to explode, but I'm nervous about rostering him for $9,200 given his targets per game - 8, 5, 7, 15, 6, 9 - that's far less than other top wideouts. Plus, there's a real possibility Atlanta runs all over the Chargers (21st ranked rush DVOA). That makes Devonta Freeman is GPP viable at $5,900, particularly in a week where most folks will go stars and scrubs; mid-range guys are a way to differentiate.
Travis Benjamin is questionable, and if he's out, the Chargers are down to Tyrell Williams, Dontrell Inman, and Griff Whalen at receiver. Yuck. In that scenario, look for stud corner Desmond Trufant to take Williams out of the game (something he's done to every WR1 he's faced this year), pushing lots of targets to talented rookie HunterHenry, just $3,600, as the Chargers run lots of 2-TE sets. Williams is only $4,400, but I actually like him more if Benjamin plays. Consider Inman a GPP flyer at $3,300 if Benjamin sits.
Gillislee will be highly owned, so if you want to fade him in GPPs, Charles Clay at $3,000 is a nice pivot. Robert Woods seems unlikely to play and Sammy Watkins is dead (sigh), so somebody has to catch balls for Buffalo. Plus, Rex Ryan helped Clay go off in his first matchup against his old Dolphins team a couple of years ago; unlike most coaches, the #RevengeGameNarrative seems to matter to matter to Rex.
I like the setup for A.J. Green at $8,600 and Andy Dalton at $6,000. Cleveland has been torched by opposing quarterbacks all year, and I've regularly profited by picking on them in DFS. That said, I have two hesitations about stacking them in cash: (1) Tyler Eifert may return, and even if it's on a limited basis, chances are those touches will come in the red zone; (2) this feels like the game Jeremy Hill - a viable GPP play in his own right at just $4,000 - might finally break out.
Joe Flacco wins the lottery this week, getting to face the Jets dumpster-fire of a pass defense. But he missed two practices with a sore shoulder, and Steve Smith seems likely to sit. Mike Wallace is a bit pricey at $5,800 but has 30 targets the past three weeks (yes, as many as Julio) and will be low owned as the public avoids the mid-range WRs. Breshad Perriman is unpolished but will score from deep eventually; this week is as likely as any (think Sammie Coates versus Jets). I'll have exposure to Perriman at $3,500.
Ryan Fitzpatrick was finally taken out to pasture, but do we really trust Geno Smith to get the ball to Brandon Marshall? I do, actually, particularly if Jimmy Smith is inactive. Remember, it was only after Smith got hurt last week that Odell Beckham, Jr. went off. Marshall is expensive at $7,600 but will be low owned, and I expect Geno to lock onto him all game.
The Tampa/SF game confounds me. Jacquizz Rodgers at $4,300 will be massively owned, as will Mike Evans at $7,800. Plus there's Cameron Brate at $2,900, Adam Humphries at minimum salary, and Jameis Winston at $5,900. And maybe that's the problem. Are the Bucs good enough to justify all of these DFS options, particularly on the road, heading out west, against a 49ers D that plays much better at home (think Week 1 shutout vs Rams)? I'll have less exposure to Rodgers than the public will.
Gerald McCoy is one of the NFL's best defensive tackles; his expected return from injury pushes me off whatever poo-poo platter the Niners intend to throw out at running back. It also makes me think a Colin Kaepernick - Torrey Smith stack is GPP viable, but Smith is, like the rest of the league, questionable. Can Quinton Patton finally justify some of his preseason hype at just $3,000? He did see 7 targets last week in Kaep's return to the lineup, and Tampa is 22nd in pass DVOA. It's too bad Kaepernick has drawn so much attention to himself from the national anthem stuff, as that alone will drive up his ownership.
All this talk and no Oak/Jax? There are lots of great options at WR in cash (Julio, Green, and Evans are the chalk), but I'm trying to fit Allen Robinson into my lineups. The Raiders are 28th in pass DVOA and 26th against #1 WRs, so this should be A-Rob's long-awaited breakout. With the public hopping aboard the Amari Cooper train again, it may be time to go back to Michael Crabtree for $1,300 less, particularly with talented rookie Jalen Ramsey covering Cooper. I've heard some Marquis Lee talk this week at just $3,200, and he has averaged 6.5 targets the past 4 games. But if I'm taking a flyer in Jax, give me Chris Ivory for $3,400; I can see him posting a 2-TD game against the Raiders, who are just 29th in rush DVOA.
The Colts defense is atrocious. DeMarco Murray is a plug and play in cash at $7,200. I'm actually glad he struggled last week; maybe that will scare off some folks.
With Terrelle Pryor questionable, I'm generally fading Cleveland. If you insist on a full game stack, add Gary Barnidge at $3,200 to your Dalton/Green stack.
Everyone is ignoring Vikings/Eagles, and I understand why. But Jerrick McKinnon is talented enough to be part of a winning GPP formula at just $4,300, and I have yet to hear his name mentioned by anyone in the industry this week.
Andrew Luck leads the NFL in sacks taken, and the Titans are among the league leaders in sacks. Hello, Titans D/ST, at home, for just $2,500.
Will New England need to keep the foot on the gas against Landry Jones? Nobody is talking about LeGarrette Blount, but this could easily be a Blount/Pats D kind of week. Even if it's not, the Pats passing tree is so broad - Gronk, Edelman, Hogan, White, Bennett - that it's hard to justify playing any of them in cash given all the value elsewhere.
Follow me on Twitter, @MarkStopa, where I'll be eagerly awaiting more injury info before 1pm on Sunday.