Eli Manning, QB New York Giants
Manning had his coming out show Monday night against San Francisco. Now, I know he did not encounter one of the most ferocious of defenses, but New York hosts the Bucs and their 32nd ranked pass defense against quarterbacks, allowing a 122.3 QB rating this season. It’s not out of the realm to expect Manning to have another impressive fantasy performance. He’s not short of weapons around him, and if the lineup front repeats their performance, expect a big game from Manning and the Giants offense.
Dion Lewis, RB Tennessee Titans
Lewis is taking control of what was supposed to be a dominant 2-headed rushing attack for the Titans this season. Derrick Henry has been disappointing, to say the least, and Lewis started off slow but has come on strong of late. This week, he has a favorable matchup with the Colts, who allow 19.3 fantasy points per game to opposing running backs, 19th in the NFL. One thing the Colts do well is score, and Lewis is the primary back when the Titans are playing from behind or in a close game. Start Lewis with confidence this week.
Build the best lineups with the power of The Machine for Daily Fantasy Sports
John Brown, WR Baltimore Ravens
No matter who may be quarterbacking for the Ravens, Brown will provide excellent fantasy upside this week. In a matchup against the Bengals, who rank 29th in the NFL allowing 27.8 fantasy points per game to opposing wide receiver groups, he should be able to get behind the defense on more than one occasion. When it comes to fantasy value, the volume is the most important metric, and Brown will get plenty of opportunities to make a big play (or two) this week.
Austin Hooper, TE Atlanta Falcons
Hooper has been coming on very strongly of late, outperforming his opponent’s “fantasy points against” number five games in a row. Coming into a favorable matchup against the Cowboys who allow 8.3 fantasy points per game, ranking 19th in the NFL. In addition to that, after a poor performance last week in Cleveland, I expect the Falcons to come out firing Sunday at home. With a lot of the defensive scheming likely to be planning for Jones/Ridley/Coleman, expect Hooper to have plenty of space to roam the secondary.
Kirk Cousins, QB Minnesota Vikings
Cousins has stumbled upon a rough patch, failing to exceed 20 fantasy points in a game since Week 4 against the Rams. It won’t get any easier this week against the Bears. Chicago has allowed just 12.3 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks in the past three contests, and just 16.0 points allowed for the entire season. On top of that, Cousins has failed to surpass his opponent’s “fantasy points against” for three straight games, averaging just 14.3 fantasy points in that stretch.
Jordan Howard, RB Chicago Bears
On the other side of the field, the Vikings have been excellent against opposing running backs this season. They’re 8th in the NFL, allowing just 15.8 fantasy points per game to the position. When you have to account for the fact that Tarik Cohen will likely get his as well, that takes away from what Howard can offer. Cohen has been the most used back in close games, as Howard is used as the bruiser to control clock when ahead. This is a game that should feature more of Cohen, leaving Howard as a potential fantasy disappointment.
Calvin Ridley, WR Atlanta Falcons
Dallas has been mediocre in virtually every aspect of the game this season except one metric; they have surprisingly excelled at defending opposing wide receivers. Currently, they’re 4th in the NFL allowing just 18.1 fantasy points per game to opposing wide receiver groups. When you’re dealing with Atlanta, you have to assume Julio Jones will get the majority of the work in the passing game. Where does that leave Ridley this week? Preferably on your fantasy team’s bench.
Evan Engram, TE New York Giants
This is more of an instinct play than a statistical one. Engram has as good a matchup possible against a Buccaneers team that allows 11.1 fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends, 31st in the league. The downside is Engram hasn’t been taking advantage of the targets he’s received. Over the past three games, he’s caught just 11 of 18 targets (61.1 percent), including a few on third downs that could have extended drives. With Odell Beckham, Jr., Saquon Barkley, and Sterling Shepard, it’s very possible that Eli Manning starts to look to those guys more often as they’ve shown more reliable hands.
Follow Joe on Twitter: @joebuttgereit