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One-quarter of the football season is in the books and a picture is beginning to take shape. The Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes are the real deal, the Rams are the new bullies on the block and C.J. Beathard ain’t no roody poo—but the Chargers are still built for comebacks on Philip Rivers’ arm and Melvin Gordon’s legs. Here are some DFS recommendations to help you get paid.

Teams have been separated into four tiers: untouchable elites, better than okay, aggressively mediocre and “off to a rough start.” All four types of teams can help you to loot your DFS pool, as long as you choose wisely. Sidestepping the overvalued while exploiting the underestimated is the recipe for success.


Premium Playmaker – Jared Goff Vs. Seattle Seahawks

Yeah, the Seattle secondary looked bad when Earl Thomas was still involved—now, the Legion of Bums is that much poorer. I think that Los Angeles’ defense is going to feast on Russell Wilson and I think that Goff capitalizes with an embarrassment of riches for his fantasy owners. The rivalries in the NFC West are particularly bitter and I don’t think that the Rams are likely to ease off the accelerator, even with a big lead. I think Goff might throw the ball fifty times in this game, which makes him an opportunity monster.

Other options: Philip Rivers Vs. Oakland Raiders

Bargain Baller – Marcus Mariota Vs. Buffalo Bills

It’s almost gotten to the point that anyone Vs. the Bills makes for a good pick, but too many people are sleeping on the Music City. Mariota turned an important corner last week and the Titans have stood tall against some of the NFL’s toughest teams. The Bills are not one of those teams. The Bills’ defense is better than their offense, but even an elite defense can’t last if the offense can’t sustain a drive. The Titans’ D is going to feast, which will mean more opportunities for Mariota to flex his three working fingers and maybe step on somebody’s neck if he gets the chance.

Other options: C.J. Beathard Vs Arizona Cardinals, Blake Bortles Vs. Kansas City Chiefs

Running Backs

Premium Playmaker – Melvin Gordon Vs. Oakland Raiders

So far the Raiders’ defense—minus Khalil Mack, hasn’t looked equal to slowing even mediocre offenses. The Chargers are better than mediocre and Gordon has proven to be the most exciting weapon in both the run and pass games. Gordon has proven himself indispensable to the San Diego offense and seems to rack up the points whether they win or lose. I’d invest in Gordon in 2018 like a time traveler investing in Apple in 1992.

Other options: James Conner Vs. Atlanta Falcons, Ezekiel Elliott Vs. Houston Texans

Bargain Baller – Kareem Hunt Vs. Jacksonville Jaguars

This is more of a “hot hand’ play than a matchup play because the Jags’ defense is for real. Their pass rush and their secondary are elite status, which I think will leave opportunities for Hunt in the flats. Teams have rushed successfully on the Jags and when Patrick Mahomes gets flushed from the pocket I think that he’s going to find Hunt open as a check down.

Other options: Dion Lewis Vs. Buffalo Bills, Matt Breida Vs. Arizona Cardinals

Wide Receivers

Premium Playmaker – Julio Jones Vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers have been vulnerable downfield and the scouting report on Calvin Ridley is out. I think that the Steelers are going to cheat Ridley’s way often enough for Julio to get behind the safeties on a couple occasions. Matt Ryan has been enjoying his newer weapons, but against a Steelers team already notorious for late comebacks, I think he goes back to his favorite weapon more often in week 5.

Other options: Deandre Hopkins Vs. Dallas Cowboys, Michael Thomas Vs. Washington Redskins

Bargain Baller – Tyler Boyd Vs. Miami Dolphins

Especially in PPR formants, Boyd has proven to be a reliable and capable foil to A.J. Green—not to mention a fantasy fixture. The Miami offense is going to bounce back after getting shut down by the Patriots, but the Bengals’ offense has the weapons to keep pace with Joe Mixon returning to the backfield. Boyd may be the cheapest way to add a hundred or so yards and a touchdown into your lineup.

Other options: Amari Cooper Vs. Los Angeles Chargers, Larry Fitzgerald Vs. San Francisco 49ers

Tight Ends

Premium Playmaker – Zach Ertz Vs. Minnesota Vikings

So far the Vikings’ defense hasn’t lived up to its preseason hype. The Philadelphia defense has been similarly underwhelming. I like both defenses to bounce back this week, but I like Carson Wentz and Ertz to find opportunities against the blitz.

Other options: Travis Kelce Vs. Jacksonville Jaguars, Jordan Reed Vs. New Orleans Saints

Bargain Baller – Jared Cook Vs. Los Angeles Chargers

The Chargers have played above average defense this season, but they have been especially vulnerable to tight ends and got gouged by George Kittle last week. This is another bitter, divisional rivalry and Cook has shown up as an integral part of the Raiders’ offense. Cook creates matchup problems all around the field and will likely need to keep scoring to fend off the Chargers.

Other options: George Kittle Vs. Arizona Cardinals, C.J. Uzomah Vs. Miami Dolphins.

Defense/Special Teams

Primetime Player – Los Angeles Rams Vs. Seattle Seahawks

The Seahawks are bad and getting worse. This is one of several ugly NFC West mismatches that will become a theme by the end of the season. Elite defense against an inexcusable offense. Any given Sunday, sure—but on paper, this is as lopsided as matchups get.

Other options: Carolina Panthers Vs. New York Giants, Tennessee Titans Vs. Buffalo Bills

Bargain Baller – Houston Texans Vs. Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys found their identity last week and looked the best they have all year, but that was entirely due to Ezekiel Elliott’s performance. I think that the Texans have the beef up front to keep a semi-reasonable lid on Elliott and Dak Prescott falls short of his potential. The Cowboys are still short on offensive weapons and if they fall behind early, they haven’t shown a ton of explosive, comeback potential.

Other options: New Orleans Saints Vs. Washington Redskins, Atlanta Falcons Vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

Sports Al Dente 2019

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