Matt Gajewski dives deep into the Monday Night Football NFL DFS slate for DraftKings + FanDuel, including analysis for Steelers – Giants and Titans – Broncos.
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Pittsburgh vs. New York Giants NFL DFS Picks
Pittsburgh Steelers (25.5 Team Total)
Injuries – David DeCastro (OUT)
Last year, the Steelers ran 58.6 plays per game (31st) and passed 57.84% of the time (23rd). This was mostly due to Ben Roethlisberger’s injury. In 2018, they passed 67.39% of the time (second) and ran 66.1 plays per game (fourth). The strength of this Giants team should be their defensive line with Leonard Williams, Dalvin Tomlinson, Dexter Lawrence and Markus Golden. Their secondary is weak in comparison. The Giants just signed Logan Ryan. He mainly plays slot corner, but the Giants could use him outside. He allowed 92 catches and 1,098 yards on 92 targets last year in his coverage. James Bradberry is their other boundary corner. He allowed 47 catchers for 655 yards on 80 targets, with a passer rating of 77.9. The last corner is up for debate. The Giants recently traded for Isaac Yiadom. He struggled a bit last year, allowing 39 catches and 558 yards on 54 targets. Corey Ballentine allowed 31 catches for 392 yards on 43 targets (131.2 passer rating). They also have fourth-round rookie Darnay Holmes. They don’t seem completely comfortable with him despite a good camp.
NFL DFS Analysis
Ben Roethlisberger ($7,000 DraftKings/$7,800 FanDuel) – Roethlisberger is arguably the top quarterback on the slate after throwing for 5,129 yards in his most recent extended action. He probably will not throw a league-leading 675 times again, but his volume should be fine against a questionable New York defense.
James Conner ($6,400 DraftKings/$6,800 FanDuel) – The Steelers have a revamped offensive line. Ramon Foster is out of the picture, and DeCastro is out for this game. This leaves Matt Feiler to make his first starts at guard and some combination of Stefen Wisniewski or Zach Banner to play right tackle. This doesn’t look great for Conner, but his workload is secure. Conner handles a three-down workload when healthy, and he posted 55 catches on 71 targets in 13 games in 2018.
JuJu Smith-Schuster ($7,200 DraftKings/$7,100 FanDuel) – Smith-Schuster had a 17% target share and a 23% air yards share when healthy last year. He plays primarily from the slot and should bounce back to his 2018 form when he had 1,426 yards and seven scores. He is the top stacking option with Roethlisberger.
Diontae Johnson ($4,400 DraftKings/$5,900 FanDuel) – Johnson plays a role as Pittsburgh’s possession receiver. He finished with 59 receptions, 680 yards on 92 targets last year. However, he only had 843 air yards. Johnson looks like more of a safe play than a GPP-winning play on the two-game slate.
James Washington ($4,000 DraftKings/$5,100 FanDuel) – Conversely, Washington provided a spark to Pittsburgh’s offense last year with his down-field ability. He finished 44 receptions, 735 yards on 80 targets last year. He provides GPP-winning appeal at a low price.
Eric Ebron ($4,300 DraftKings/$5,000 FanDuel) – Coming over via free agency, Ebron projects to play a role as a receiving tight end in Pittsburgh. The Steelers expect to employ more two tight end sets this year, potentially elevating Ebron’s role. Ebron makes sense as a cheap attachment to Roethlisberger here.
Vance McDonald ($2,700 DraftKings/$4,400 FanDuel) – McDonald disappointed last year with only 38 catches for 273 yards and three scores last year on 55 targets. However, with Pittsburgh expected to play two tight ends, he is a dart throw consideration.
New York Giants (20 Team Total)
Last year, the Giants ran 63.2 plays per game (18th) and passed 64.23% of the time (third). However, they get a new coaching staff this season with Joe Judge at head coach and Jason Garrett at offensive coordinator. The Steelers ranked No. 1 overall in adjusted sack rate last year, and they enter 2020 without any major free agent departures on defense. T.J. Watt should terrorize this Giants’ offensive line. Andrew Thomas is a promising rookie at left tackle. Will Hernandez and Kevin Zeitler are solid at the guard positions, but Cameron Fleming or rookie Matt Peart will guard Daniel Jones from the right tackle position against Watt. Pittsburgh also has a solid secondary with Joe Haden allowing 70.0 passer rating in his coverage and five interceptions. Mike Hilton allowed a 92.9 passer rating and only allowed 36 catches for 426 yards on 59 targets. He will play in the slot. Steven Nelson allowed a 73.3 passer rating in coverage. This is a solid unit.
NFL DFS Analysis
Daniel Jones ($6,000 DraftKings/$7,200 FanDuel) – He only completed 61.9% of his passes last year, throwing 24 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. However, he has huge upside with his legs, rushing for 279 yards last year. While the matchup is a concern, the Giants project to throw while playing from behind.
Saquon Barkley ($8,000 DraftKings/$9,000 FanDuel) – There is not much to say about the league’s premier bell cow back. When healthy, Barkley projects for more touches than any other runner in the league. He also can’t be game scripted out of the Giants’ gameplan. As a rookie in 2018, Barkley recorded 91 receptions. Barkley is a safe play with massive upside.
Sterling Shepard ($5,200 DraftKings/$5,700 FanDuel) – Shepard’s offensive role depends somewhat on Tate. Last year, Shepard had a 22% target share and a 26% air yards share when healthy. He projects to play on the outside with a healthy Tate, but he could slide into the slot if Tate sits. He draws a tough matchup either way, but he enters the 2020 season as Jones’ top receiver.
Golden Tate ($4,700 DraftKings/$5,600 FanDuel) – Tate will primarily play in the slot if healthy. If he sits, Damion Ratley could see an opportunity bump. Beat writers seem very concerned with Tate’s status, making him a risky play even if he suits up. Potentially playing on a pitch count, Tate looks like a player to avoid.
Darius Slayton ($5,000 DraftKings/$5,300 FanDuel) – Slayton erupted last year for 84 targets, 740 yards and 1,197 air yards. Most of his opportunity came with other receivers hurt, but Tate’s potential absence could thrust Slayton into an elevated role again this year.
Evan Engram ($5,400 DraftKings/$6,300 FanDuel) – Engram had a 22% target share and a 17% air yards share when healthy. He looks like the top tight end play, despite a tough matchup. Pittsburgh ranked top six in tight end defense last year. However, with Tate potentially out, Engram could run more routes from the slot.
Damion Ratley ($3,200 DraftKings/$4,500 FanDuel) – Ratley would play on the outside in Tate’s absence. He played 49.8% of Cleveland’s snaps last year and only 19.2% came from the slot.
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Tennessee Titans vs Denver Broncos NFL DFS Picks
Tennessee (21.75 Team Total)
Last year, the Titans ran 58.8 plays per game (30th) and passed 51.21% of the time (30th). Denver possesses a weak secondary and pass rush deficiencies without Von Miller. They have A.J. Bouye locked into one of their boundary corner positions. He performed poorly last year, allowing 52 catches, and 772 yards on 80 targets (103.8 passer rating). Bryce Callahan will play. He sat out last year. Fangio said he hasn’t determined whether he will defend the boundary or the slot. He was very good in 2018. If Callahan defends the perimeter, we could see Essang Bassey in the slot. He is an undrafted free agent from Wake Forest, but Denver gave him some first-team slot reps in their scrimmage. If Callahan plays slot, third-round rookie Michael Ojemudia or Davontae Harris probably play outside. Either way, the secondary is a weakness for Denver. Denver ranked middle of the pack in run defense last year, and Derrick Henry should be just fine. The Broncos did add Jurrell Casey to help their run defense.
NFL DFS Analysis
Ryan Tannehill ($5,700 DraftKings/$7,000 FanDuel) – Lowest volume passer on the slate. He only eclipsed 30 pass attempts three times last year. He also only eclipsed 300 yards passing on three occasions last year. He provides some dual-threat ability with 185 rushing yards last year, but he is a low-upside option tonight.
Derrick Henry ($7,500 DraftKings/$8,400 FanDuel) – Evans is hurt and Henry should never come off the field. Henry ceded third-down work to Dion Lewis for most of last year. However, Henry looks competent as a receiver, securing 18 of 24 targets last here. He absurdly averaged 11.4 yards per reception.
A.J. Brown ($6,000 DraftKings/$6,700 FanDuel) – Brown emerged throughout the season, finishing with 52 catches and 1,051 yards on 84 targets. He had a 19% target share and a 29% air yards share. Still, Brown only eclipsed six targets one time last year. Entirely depended on efficiency, Brown’s target projection falls below some cheaper receivers on this slate.
Corey Davis ($3,400 DraftKings/$5,000 FanDuel) – Banged up throughout the week, Davis practiced fully on Friday. While he should play, he is in danger of losing snaps to Adam Humphries. Humphries spent most of 2019 injured, but Davis’ continual lack of production won’t do him any favors. He is a GPP dart throw.
Adam Humphries ($3,500 DraftKings/$4,900 FanDuel) – Humphries missed most of 2019 with an injury. He plays a slot only role, which doesn’t gel with Tennessee’s offense. Tennessee often deploys two tight ends, leaving Humphries off the field. Similar to Davis, he is a GPP dart throw.
Kalif Raymond ($3,000 DraftKings/$4,600 FanDuel) – He probably functions as the fourth wide receiver here. He had 12 targets last year and becomes a dart throw is Corey Davis sits.
Jonnu Smith ($4,000 DraftKings/$4,900 FanDuel) – A price play on this slate, Smith finished with 44 targets last year. He managed 35 reception, 439 yards and three scores. For those looking to save at tight end, Smith makes some sense.
Tennessee used tight ends at the fourth-highest rate last year (29%). Anthony Firkser ($2,500 DraftKings/$4,200 FanDuel) was the main receiving weapon with 24 targets. However, MyCole Pruitt ($2,500 DraftKings/$4,100 FanDuel) also plays and he recorded eight targets last year. Pruitt played 44.8% of snaps, Firkser played 25.1%.
Denver Broncos (18.75 Team Total)
Last year, the Broncos ran 59.6 plays per game (29th) and passed 57.13% of the time (24th). The Titans have a lot of injuries, including two of their defensive studs. Luckily, they added Jadeveon Clowney to bolster their pass rush. Tennessee’s offensive line continues to improve with Garett Bolles and Dalton Risner as two recent early draft picks. They also added Graham Glasgow this offseason, bolstering this unit. However, Ja’Wuan James opted out, leaving Elijah Wilkinson to play tackle. I have significant concerns about Lloyd Cushenberry starting at center. Aside from Clowney, Tennessee has a couple monsters in Jeffery Simmons, DaQuan Jones and Harold Landry up front. Their secondary will consist of Malcolm Butler, Johnathan Joseph, and rookie Kristian Fulton. Butler allowed a 98.4 passer rating in his coverage, and Joseph was downright dreadful last year.
NFL DFS Analysis
Drew Lock ($5,400 DraftKings/$6,700 FanDuel) – Lock passed for 300 yards against Houston’s horrible defense and otherwise never eclipsed 208 yards. He also doesn’t offer any rushing upside with just 72 options last year. He is a poor option, but game script favors him here.
Melvin Gordon ($5,100 DraftKings/$6,600 FanDuel) – The Broncos backfield projects as a complete timeshare between Gordon and Phillip Lindsay. Gordon has handled at least 162 carries in each of his NFL seasons. He also has at least 41 catches in four straight seasons. He can catch passes if Denver wants him to. With three other studs on the slate, Gordon isn’t a recommended option.
Phillip Lindsay ($4,900 DraftKings/$5,500 FanDuel) – Lindsay projects to spell Gordon periodically throughout the game. He stands just 5-foot-8, 190 pounds, but Denver reportedly will use him a good amount tonight. He is a dart throw here with Henry, Barkley and Conner projecting as the top three backs.
Jerry Jeudy ($4,200 DraftKings/$5,200 FanDuel) – With Sutton questionable, Jeudy stands to benefit from an increased target share. If Sutton misses this game, Jeudy immediately becomes one of the top price-adjusted plays on the slate. With Tennessee banged up in the secondary, Jeudy looks like a strong play in his debut.
Courtland Sutton ($5,600 DraftKings/$6,900 FanDuel) – Sutton is a game-time decision, and Fangio ridiculously said the test for his shoulder will be 10 jumping jacks. While it does test his range of motion, how ridiculous is that? Sutton could play a limited role if active, making him a risky proposition. He also plays in the later game, increasing his risk. In low-risk contests, avoiding Sutton makes sense.
Tim Patrick ($3,700 DraftKings/$4,600 FanDuel) – If Sutton sits, Patrick is expected to play in two-wide sets. Denver is going to use some weird formations, but Patrick is a dart throw.
DaeSean Hamilton ($3,300 DraftKings/$4,800 FanDuel) – Dependent on both Sutton on K.J. Hamler sitting, Hamilton is only the deepest of considerations. He functions as the slot receiver in 11 personnel.
Noah Fant ($4,600 DraftKings/$5,400 FanDuel) – Fant had 40 catches for 562 yards on 66 targets. Tennessee was bottom 10 in yardage allowed to tight ends in 2019, but they’re healthier this year. The better matchup is on the outside for these Denver receivers, but Fant should play a major role in Denver’s offense in 2020.
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