DFS 3 and OUT 2017 WEEK 19

By Bob Harris
Bob Harris
Three DFS players I'm investing heavily in for tournament (GPP) play this week. ... And one I'm not.

I'm In:

Brandin Cooks, WR, Patriots

According to The Sporting News, "Tennessee is the ultimate pass-funnel defense" in ranking fourth versus the run and 25th against the pass, with little variance from those rankings over the past three weeks. And as TSN's Matt Lutovsky noted, the Titans especially struggled against speedy receivers like Cooks. We saw it last week when Tyreek Hill repeatedly torched the Titans in the first half. As CBSSports.com pointed out, Hill got open pretty much at will against Tennessee's secondary with drops the only thing keeping him from 100 yards in just the first half. While he'll vanish against some of the better corners, lower-end DB matchups can yield double-digit targets, like against the Jets in Week 17. ESPN's Mike Clay agreed, conceding that while Titans rookie CB Adoree' Jackson's play has progressed with the season, it's not a terribly tough matchup for Cooks. Lutovsky added, "Unlike the Chiefs, the Pats will continue to exploit Tennessee's weakness. Cooks should break off at least a couple big plays and has a chance for a monster game. ..." Remember: Cooks has totally been hit or miss this season. But the hits have been fantastic, including Week 3 against Houston (when he caught five of seven targets for 131 yards and two touchdowns), Week 11 against the Raiders (six catches on nine targets for 149 yards and a touchdown), Week 12 against the Dolphins (six catches on seven targets for 83 yards and a touchdown) and the big Week 17 game against New York (five catches on 11 targets for 79 yards and a touchdown). I'm not arguing that Cooks' seven touchdowns this season represent an impressive output. I'm suggesting instead that he's a boom/bust play with a chance to go boom this week. That said, the Patriots also expect Chris Hogan ($5200 on DraftKings; $6500 on FanDuel), who has only played once since injuring his shoulder in Week 8) to return and he could be a viable play in this one as well, although his lone appearance down the stretch was hardly impressive (with one catch for one yard on five targets in Miami, a game in which didn't seem to be in sync with Tom Brady on some deep attempts). Whatever the case, I'm on board with getting a piece of this passing attack in this matchup and Cooks ($7000 on DraftKings; $7700 on FanDuel) is the first guy -- not named Brady ($7000 on DraftKings; $8800 on FanDuel) or Rob Gronkowski ($7100 on DraftKings; $8500 on FanDuel) -- on my list.

Ted Ginn, WR, New Orleans Saints

The Saints secured their spot in the NFC Divisional Playoff Game on Sunday by beating the Panthers for a third time this season. Ginn was a reason why. He caught an 80-yard pass from Drew Brees giving New Orleans their first touchdown of the game. In total, Ginn was targeted six times, catching four for 115 yards and that score. So the workload is available -- even if Michael Thomas is heavily targeted (as he was against the Panthers when caught eight of nine targets for 131 yards). The issue here is coverages. In Week 1 this season, Vikings shutdown corner Xavier Rhodes held Thomas to just 45 yards on 5 receptions (although this was one of the few games that Rhodes didn't shadow, he did cover Thomas often). Ginn had 53 yards on 4 receptions. As Clay noted, Rhodes has shadowed in nearly every game since then and will this week considering both Thomas' dominant play and Rhodes' recent usage. Clay added: "It's an obviously tough matchup for Thomas. Ginn has been red-hot and has a plus-matchup against Trae Waynes on the other side." Again, I'll remind you that Ginn ($5800on DraftKings; $5900 on FanDuel) is a boom/bust play. But if Rhodes does Rhodes-like thing, Ginn is an explosive (and for our purposes, a cheaper) alternative to Thomas ($7200on DraftKings; $8200 on FanDuel) for Drew Brees.

Marcus Mariota, QB, Tennessee Titans

Mariota had an impressive performance against the Chiefs on Wild-Card Weekend, throwing for 205 yards and two touchdowns. Adding to the fun, one of those touchdown passes was to himself when he caught a batted ball and then ran into the end zone. He also added 46 yards on the ground. While I'm obviously not banking on a repeat of the touchdown pass and catch, more running isn't out of the question. Indeed, as CBSSports.com noted, Mariota has 18 carries the past two weeks as the Titans have let him run more with their season on the line. That number matches the total attempts he had in the previous five weeks. Based on his recent efforts, Mariota is healthier now than he was a couple of months ago when the running element was conspicuously absent from his game. If the Patriots load up the box to stop Derrick Henry, that will afford Mariota more opportunities to make plays with his arm and his feet. Better still, the Patriots have given up the third-most passing yards in the NFL and there's a strong possibility the Titans (nearly two-touchdown underdogs) will be playing from behind, giving Mariota ($5900 on DraftKings; $7500 on FanDuel) plenty of chances to rack up points. As for targets? I'm not as keen on some of the individual receiving/cornerback matchups this week, but if you must, Corey Davis has out-targeted the other Titans wideouts in two of the past three games, averaging eight targets in those two.

Please Note: After going a bit chalky last week (and coming up WAY short), I'm avoiding some of the more obvious names this week. Rest assured I'll have shares of Le'Veon Bell, Leonard Fournette (even though he's struggled of late, it's a great matchup) and Derrick Henry (especially now that DeMarco Murray is officially ruled out) as well as Brady, Gronk and most of the other usual suspects (given the limited slate). But this week, the focus here is on the less obvious.

I'm Out

Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers

In case you missed it, Roethlisberger threw five interceptions against the Jaguars when these teams met in Week 5. While that probably won’t happen again, SI.com's Andy Benoit believes Big Ben actually will face a better Jaguars defense this time around. Benoit explained, "Over the season, this unit stayed healthy and carved out a distinct identity: Cover 3 zone on early downs, and either Cover 4 or, like what they did repeatedly Sunday versus Buffalo, man-free blitz on third downs. Except for some of those blitzes, we’re talking about basic, straightforward strategy, where success comes from the defense simply having more speed and athleticism than the offense. ..." So the Jaguars are still really good. But Pittsburgh's offense is better, too. JuJu Smith-Schuster and Martavis Bryant are more involved in the offense and Le'Veon Bell is rolling. The big concern? Antonio Brown is coming off a calf injury. Most reports indicate the superstar wideout, who finished with 10 receptions (on 19 targets) and 157 yards in the first game against the Jags, will be 100 percent. But Profootballtalk.com's Mike Florio wonders if all the talk about Brown being close to full speed isn't a ruse. He wonders if Brown won't be more decoy than contributor. We'll have to wait until the game is on to find out. Meanwhile, Roethlisberger is also improving. Through the first five games, he had a 75.8 passer rating (37.8 vs. Jaguars) and 102.7 since then. He had six touchdown passes and seven interceptions through the first five and is 22-7 since. His average yards per pass through the first five was 6.51 and 8.15 since. But the matchup and price remain a concern for me. Remember, Roethlisberger ($6200 on DraftKings; $8000 on FanDuel) has thrown multiple interceptions in six of his nine playoff games at home in his career.