I know. This one is very popular. The truth is, I wanted to include him last week (and should have). The rookie caught seven passes (on nine targets) for 83 yards and a touchdown against the Colts and appeared to make further inroads in terms of his overall role in the offense. As ESPN.com's Matt Bowen pointed out, Kittle made two key grabs (including the touchdown catch) on the 49ers fourth quarter drive to send the game to OT and he has the route running skill set to produce as the "move" tight end in Kyle Shanahan's system. Indeed, he appears to be well on his way to becoming Brian Hoyer's favorite downfield target not named Pierre Garcon. Adding to the intrigue this week -- in addition to his price ($3400 on DraftKings, $5300 on FanDuel) -- is the fact that only the Cleveland Browns and New York Giants are giving up more fantasy points to tight ends than the Niners opponent this week, the Redskins, who give up an average of 18 points per game to the position. And if you're looking for a more off-the-radar play at tight end, I'll suggest Houston's Ryan Griffin, who is even cheaper on FanDuel ($4500) and who has an even better matchup against the Browns.
With the Buccaneers heading to Arizona this weekend, Patrick Peterson is ready to put the clamps on Mike Evans. The good news? As the Eagles demonstrated last week, the rest of the Cardinals secondary is suspect at best (which explains their 20th-ranked pass defense). As ESPN's Mike Clay noted, DeSean Jackson is the primary beneficiary here. Clay expects D-Jax to feast on Justin Bethel throughout the game. Despite Peterson's strong play, Arizona has allowed the seventh-most fantasy points to wide receivers this season. Players lined up across from Bethel have found the end zone four times, which is tied for most in the league. But Jackson's price ($5800 on DraftKings, $6400 on FanDuel) and the matchup are sure to put him in many a lineup. That being the case, those looking to differentiate (and spend up at other positions), might want to check out Humphries. As ESPN's Eric Karabell noted this week, the Bucs' third receiver boasts three consecutive games with at least 50 receiving yards and has averaged more than 11 DraftKings points in that span. Humphries ranks third on the team in targets with 22 over the last three games (for a 17.9 percent share) and last week he was on the field for the same number of snaps as Jackson (52).
As ESPN.com's Courtney Cronin noted earlier this week, the No. 1 thing the Vikings did not want to lose when Dalvin Cook went down with a season-ending knee injury was the rookie's ability to create explosive plays. In Minnesota's first game without Cook, McKinnon showed why he can be called upon to fill that void. McKinnon stepped in and assumed the biggest role in the running game against the Bears, rushing 16 times for 95 yards, including a 58-yard touchdown. McKinnon's touchdown run was not only the longest rushing play for Minnesota this season, it's the longest play by a Vikings player since McKinnon broke off a 68-yard touchdown run against the Giants in Week 16 of 2015. So he's a capable home-run hitter. And the Bears are no pushovers. Through five weeks, Chicago's defense has allowed 3.9 yards per rush. The Vikings averaged 5.1 per running play against them. As Cronin noted, McKinnon's versatility is a big asset to the Vikings. He excels in running routes, finding cutback lanes in space and using his agility to side-step defenders and change speeds. The running back's athleticism is critical for Minnesota, which hopes to keep creating these explosive plays. And based on what we saw in his first start as a Viking, Latavius Murray doesn't bring anything close to McKinnon's play-making ability to the table. Still, McKinnon is dirt cheap ($4100 on DraftKings, $5600 on FanDuel) and he goes up against a Green Bay defense that's the 12th-most generous to fantasy running backs, giving up an average of 27 fantasy points per game (as well as 1.2 RB TDs per game, tied for third-worst). I'm not looking to chase points here. I see an opportunity to build on them.
Thomas, Michael WR, New Orleans Saints
Evans' matchup against Peterson is worrisome and Xavier Rhodes could spend a lot of time tailing Jordy Nelson, there's another matchup that seems to be problematic this week: Thomas against Detroit's Darius Slay. According to Clay, when these teams met in Week 13 last season, Slay shadowed Thomas on 35 of his 40 routes. Thomas managed only four catches for 42 yards on five targets in the game, including two catches for 24 yards on three targets against Slay. Go ahead and assume Slay draws Thomas again. And even if he fares better this year than last, Thomas' price ($7300 on DraftKings, $8500 on FanDuel) -- which is higher than Evans and Nelson on both sites -- requires that be the case when the final whistle blows. I'll concede that Slay wasn't as impressive against the Panthers last weekend as he had been up to that point (and Drew Brees has a strong history coming off bye weeks), but I'll be spending up at other positions this week.