Continuing from last week, the big question is to stack or fade the Cowboys game? Their game environments have been on another level from the rest of the NFL, and is something to consider right away this week with roster construction. I will leave that up for you to decide. In this piece, I will be highlighting players that stand to benefit from matchups and recent trends. Also a few players to consider fading.
This will be a source for you to get all the necessary information that you might not recognize quickly looking through the slate early in the week. The goal of this first look is to help leave no stone unturned before the week kicks off. Being able to project for different potential outcomes of players and games is a crucial trait to have as a DFS player. Here is my first look and deep dive on the Week 4 slate:
Game Script Targets
Dolphins +7 (vs. SEA)
TE Mike Gesicki
WR DeVante Parker
The Dolphins have one of the clearest paths to fantasy passing and receiving production. The Seahawks have been a pass funnel defense allowing the 2nd fewest rushing yards (200) and most passing yards (430 yards/game). A stack of Mike Gesicki and DeVante Parker will give you exposure to 37.1% of their team target share this year. Gesicki has one of the best weekly ceilings at the tight end position. His five red-zone targets are tied for the third-most among TEs. In his last five games including the end of last year, he has two games where he got over 25 fantasy points (TE2 and TE3). Parker should be the healthiest he has been all year, and gets Shaquill Griffin who has allowed the most yards in coverage of all CBs (318 yards/ 2 TDs).
Bengals -3 (vs. JAX)
RBs Joe Mixon
The start to Mixon’s season has been reminiscent of last year. He is averaging 3.2 yards per carry and has yet to find the endzone. However, I think that changes this week. The Bengals come in as 3-point favorites against the Jaguars and the positive game script will up his snap count and touches. Last week in a more neutral game script, he saw a 72% snap share. Over the past three seasons in a 3+ point favorite spot, Mixon has averaged 22.1 fantasy points (5 games). He has dominated the Bengals backfield with 52 of the 54 RB carries and sets up for a breakout performance here.
Browns +4.5 (@ DAL)
The game environment for Cowboys’ games has been a fantasy scoring paradise. That is expected to continue here against the Browns with the highest over/under on the slate at 55.5 points. With the Cowboys running at such a fast pace (1st overall and 1st neutral specific), there will be more opportunities for Odell and Jarvis Landry to reach their ceilings. It has been put on display already with the Cowboys allowing the 2nd most FPPG to WRs. It has been specifically prominent in the deep passing game. Against the Cowboys last week, DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett had 3 catches for 138 yards and 2 TDs on five 20+ yard targets. Odell had the ninth most 20+ yard targets last year and has four of those deep targets this year. He will have his chances to expose that weakness. Landry and Odell are a cheap stack considering the matchup and have 41% of the team target share thus far.
WR CeeDee Lamb (DAL, vs. CLE)
CeeDee Lamb was somewhat a disappointment last week. The Seahawks/Cowboys game was the most popular game to target for good reason and Lamb’s production was not up to par. Ownership could shy away from him with that considered, and he draws the best matchup of the Cowboys WRs this week. He will primarily see Tavierre Thomas, who has the worst PFF coverage grade and has been targeted the most of the Browns cornerbacks despite seeing fewer coverage snaps. In this fast-paced offense, Lamb will continue to run a lot of routes and has run the 6th most routes among all WRs. Amari Cooper will see the most of Denzel Ward, who has allowed just 90 yards in coverage through 3 games (15 targets). Cowboys should look to feature Lamb and Michael Gallup here.
WR Kenny Golladay (DET, vs. NO)
A pass funnel defense that offers upside to the opposing receiving options is the Saints. Most recently, Allen Lazard (6/146/1) and Darren Waller (12/105/1) have taken advantage of that. Now comes the Lions with 35-year-old Adrian Peterson as their leading ball carrier. They should struggle to have any success running the ball (Saints w/ 3.4 YPC allowed) forcing them to be more pass-heavy. It is also a potential positive game script for Golladay and the Lions passing attack (4-point underdogs). The player to target here is Golladay. Golladay will draw Marshon Lattimore in coverage and based on name value alone, you may think that it is not that great of a draw. Lattimore did fare well against hobbled Mike Evans in Week 1, but since then has allowed 8 receptions for 138 yards and 1 TD (8 targets). Golladay will see an uptick in targets due to the pass funnel Saints defense and game flow.
RB Josh Jacobs (LV, vs. BUF)
The Bills run defense was not tested in the first two weeks (Jets+Dolphins), but the Rams’ success against them highlighted a potential weakness (27 carries for 133 yards). A cause of that is key run-stuffer Star Lotulelei opting out of the season. The Raiders can take advantage with one of the best rushing attacks and have a chance to get RT Trent Brown back from injury. There have been no worries with the usage for Josh Jacobs, as he has had the 2nd most touches per game (26). His lack of targets used to be a weekly bugaboo, but has 13 through three games and it is nearly half of the total he saw in his rookie season (27). The bell-cow workload and Bills struggling run defense give Jacobs a legitimate chance of being the top fantasy RB this week.
WR Allen Robinson (CHI, vs. IND)
Nick Foles has added life to the Bears offense and could have people rushing to put Allen Robinson in their DFS lineups. Foles is an upgrade at QB for the Bears, but it is not significant enough to make Allen Robinson’s weekly floor and ceiling drastically change. He ranked 30th in adjusted completion percentage last year (74.1%). Also, this is not a matchup that favors big time fantasy WR production. The Colts are allowing the 3rd fewest FPG to WRs. The most yards they have allowed to a WR is 64 to Braxton Berrios. They most notably limited D.J. Chark to 25 yards and Adam Thielen to 31. The Colts are one of the most zone heavy defenses in the league and this allows them to have success in limiting a team’s top option. Per SIS, they have allowed the 2nd fewest YPA (yards per attempt) in the passing game (6.19).
RB Austin Ekeler (LAC, @TB)
The Buccaneers defense is one that I typically want to avoid for opposing RBs. Similar versatile running backs like Christian McCaffrey, Alvin Kamara, and Melvin Gordon have struggled to be effective. All three had less than 4.1 yards per touch against the Bucs this year. This week it is Austin Ekeler who falls into the tough matchup. He is already a player that is due for some regression. He has caught 100% of his targets (16 for 16) and stands out as an Expected Fantasy Points red flag with the 8th highest fantasy points total above his XFP at RB. The regression should come to a head against a Bucs defense that is built to stop multifaceted backs.
WR Terry McLaurin (WAS, vs. BAL)
This is a week where you will want to leave the McLaren F1 in the garage. The game environment will not be favorable in the slightest. The Ravens have run the lowest neutral game script pace this year and last year. At 13-point favorites, there is a very likely outcome of the Ravens getting up big and chewing the clock limiting McLaurin’s overall routes and targets. The Ravens defense is blitz heavy and will also not allow Dwayne Haskins much time to find McLaurin as well. Per SIS, the Ravens have the 2nd most pressures this year (62). When under pressure, Haskins has the 2nd lowest adjusted completion percentage (31.6%).
Pace of Play
Browns (vs. DAL) - The Cowboys have the fastest overall pace of play and fastest neutral game script pace.
Ravens (@ WAS) - Washington is Top 10 in overall pace and neutral game script specific pace. Ravens have the slowest neutral game script pace so more potential plays for the offense.
Patriots (@ KC) - The Patriots have had the fifth slowest pace of play. They have run on 52% of their plays (3rd most). The Chiefs are more pass-heavy at 59% passing and play at a Top 10 neutral game script pace.
Washington (vs. BAL) - The Ravens have been notoriously slow on offense the past season and so far this year. They have the slowest neutral game script pace and should be run-heavy as the biggest favorite this week (13 point spread).
Chiefs (vs. NE) - The Patriots are likely to press the issue of the running game to test the Chiefs early. In neutral game scripts, the Patriots have the 10th slowest pace. Chiefs overall upside could be limited if the Patriots continue the run-heavy approach.
Projected Fast Pace Game:
Cowboys vs Browns
The Cowboys have been on another level from the rest of the NFL in pace of play. They have the fastest pace at 20 sec/snap and the next fastest is 23.3 sec/snap. In the past 3 seasons, no team has played faster than 24 sec/snap.