Hello and welcome to the Week 10 DFS Breakdown. Hopefully by now you know the deal. Each week I’ll be writing up my Tier 1, Tier 2, and Tier 3 favorite plays at each position, and listing them in some sort of order.
The Tier 1 plays are the best plays. I hope that’s obvious. You’re not going to be building 19 different lineups? Cool. Feel free to ignore everyone listed in Tier 3.
Essentially, this article should be everything you need to know in order to profit in any given DFS week. But make sure you’re also watching the Cashing Points Livestream. Be sure to check out our ownership projections (powered by FanShare), and all of our other cool tools and articles each week.
And be sure to read the Week 10 Sunday Update (out early tomorrow morning). Each week I’ll be providing analysis on all relevant late breaking news, and updating that article until lock. I’ll also dive in a bit deeper into the macro-level analysis on the slate. I’ll talk a bit more about how I’m looking to leverage the field in tournaments, and some low-owned plays I like. And, most importantly, I’ll also be providing my cash-game core.
Here we go….
Mike Davis, RB, Carolina Panthers
[DK: $4,000, FD: $5,400]
With Christian McCaffrey out for Week 10, Davis isn’t just a top value, he’s arguably the single-best value we’ve had all season. As per the SuperModel, he’s mispriced by $2,471 on DraftKings and $1,694 on FanDuel.
From Weeks 3-8, without McCaffrey, Davis ranked 8th in XFP per game (18.2) and 6th in FPG (17.6). Over this span, he averaged 13.8 carries and 5.8 targets per game on 80% of the snaps, and against the league’s 2nd-toughest RB schedule (-3.51). Unfortunately, he gets another brutal matchup this week, as Tampa Bay ranks 3rd-best in schedule-adjusted FPG allowed to opposing RBs (-5.3), but that still barely moves the needle when considering his salary – he ranks 44th among RBs in price on DraftKings ($4,000) and 38th on FanDuel ($5,400).
Aaron Jones, RB, Green Bay Packers
[DK: $7,100, FD: $8,800]
Jones ranks 3rd best in XFP per game (20.7), 4th-best in XFP% (26.6%), and 4th-best in FPG (21.3). He gets a dream matchup this week, behind the highest implied point total of the slate (31.25), and against a Jaguars defense that ranks 3rd-worst in schedule-adjusted FPG allowed to opposing RBs (+6.2). With Christian McCaffrey out, Michael Thomas back (capping Kamara’s upside in the passing game), and Dalvin Cook off of the main slate, it’s hard to argue against him as the overall RB1 of the week. And yet, he’s just $7,100 on DraftKings, about $2,000 cheaper than where the typical RB1 (on any given week) might be priced.
Miles Sanders, RB, Philadelphia Eagles
[DK: $6,400, FD: $7,700]
Miles Sanders has reached at least 75 yards from scrimmage in 5 of 5 games, averaging 105.0 per game (6th-most). He ranks 11th in FPG (16.3) and 12th in XFP per game (15.9), though both of those numbers are somewhat skewed due to injury. (He played on 42% of the snaps in his last game due to injury, but averaged 79% across his other 4 games.) Favored by 3.5-points, he gets a Giants defense giving up the 9th-most FPG to opposing RBs, and the 2nd-most receiving FPG to opposing RBs. Keep in mind, Sanders ranks 7th among all RBs in targets per game (5.2).
He’s a glaring top value on both sites, ranking 3rd among slate-eligible RBs in our projections (17.1), but just 9th in salary on DraftKings ($6,400) and 6th on FanDuel ($7,700).
Duke Johnson, RB, Houston Texans
[DK: $5,000, FD: $5,800]
According to our projections, Duke Johnson is popping as a top-2 RB value on both sites. Here’s what we had to say about him in Start/Sit:
David Johnson played just 7 snaps before exiting early due to injury (concussion). In his absence, Duke Johnson played on 50 of 55 snaps, earning 16 of 16 carries and 4 of 4 targets. That’s elite bell-cow usage, typically good enough for any league-average talent to flirt with RB1 production. His Week 10 matchup against the Browns is somewhere between neutral and slightly below-average, but start him with confidence as a high-end RB2 this week if David Johnson sits out.
Chase Edmonds, RB, Arizona Cardinals
[DK: $6,300, FD: $7,100]
If Kenyan Drake plays, Edmonds is maybe a Tier 4 play. But if Drake gets ruled out, Edmonds would be an easy Tier 1 play, slightly above Duke Johnson. Unfortunately, Drake is looking like a true game time decision, and with that game starting at 4PM EST, that makes him tricky to build with. He’d be an ideal late-swap option, and it might be worth building lineups with that in mind, but I’m hoping we get something more definitive by Sunday morning.
Edmonds scored just 11.8 fantasy points on 28 touches and 96% of the snaps in Week 9. Or, for more clarity, 11.8 fantasy points on a 16.8-point expectation (XFP). He saw 25 carries and 3 targets, but 0 opportunities inside the 10-yard-line. This was always the concern for Edmonds – we knew he’d see a true bell cow workload, but his touchdown expectation wasn’t nearly as high as it is for most bell cows, with Kyler Murray often vulturing rushing work near the end zone. Still, this was just about the worst-possible outcome, and one of the lowest XFP outputs you’ll find from a 28-touch game. If Drake sits out, look for a big bounce-back – the Cardinals are 2.5-point favorites behind the 2nd-biggest implied point total of the slate (-2.5), and the Bills rank 11th-worst in schedule-adjusted FPG allowed to opposing RBs (+1.7).
Alvin Kamara, RB, New Orleans Saints
[DK: $8,200, FD: $9,000]
I asked Johnny for his thoughts on Kamara yesterday, and he summed it up nicely: “Kamara is a great play, he’s just like the ‘5th-best’ RB play.” He’s not a better play than Miles Sanders, who is $1,300-1,800 cheaper, but he does have a sky-high ceiling and there is a very good chance he goes far more under-owned than he should. Michael Thomas’ return will help scoring potential, but that will be more than offset by the reduction he’ll see in the passing game. Still, he’s a good-to-great play in a week with a lot of value.
Giovani Bernard, RB, Cincinnati Bengals
[DK: $5,400, FD: $6,200]
In Week 7, without Joe Mixon, Bernard played on 75% of the snaps, earning 13 of 14 carries, 5 of 6 targets, and 3 of 3 opportunities inside the 10-yard-line. In Week 8, without Mixon again, Bernard played on 64% of the snaps, earning 15 of 25 carries, 4 of 5 targets, and 2 of 4 opportunities inside the 10-yard-line. Gross. Why is Samaje Perine a thing in 2020? I have no idea. Still, Week 8 was an 11-point win – game script better suited for Perine – and it’s unlikely Cincinnati wins this week, as 7.0-point underdogs. The matchup is tough on paper, but he’s still a very strong value.
Nick Chubb, RB, Cleveland Browns
[DK: $6,800, FD: $8,200]
Nick Chubb is back, fully healthy off of the bye, and so is PFF’s highest-graded guard Wyatt Teller (94.4). Chubb has played in just 3 full games all year, and in the 2 victories hit 29.3 and 27.0 DKFP. He could go nuclear again this week in a dream matchup. The Browns are favored by 3.0-points behind the 6th-highest implied point total of the week (28.0) against a Houston defense that ranks worst in YPC allowed (5.44) and worst in rushing FPG allowed (22.0) to opposing RBs. The price-point isn’t perfect, and he’s always going to be pretty boom-or-bust and volatile week-to-week, but I like him quite a bit on DraftKings for tournaments and he should go lower-owned.
James Robinson, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars
[DK: $6,600, FD: $7,300]
James Robinson saw his snap share jump from 61% (Weeks 1-6) to 90% in Week 7 with Chris Thompson out. With Thompson back in Week 9, after their bye, his snap share was somewhere comfortably in between (73%). Robinson saw 25 of 26 carries and 2 of 6 targets out of the backfield. Keep in mind, this was in a game Jacksonville trailed throughout (better suited towards Thompson’s skillset as the scatback). If Robinson isn’t yet quite a true game script-proof bell cow, he’s at least very close. He’s seen at least 16 touches in every game thus far, averaging 19.9 per game. He finished 5th in XFP last week (17.2), 2nd in Week 7 (22.0) prior to the bye, and ranked top-20 in each of his prior 5 games. Green Bay is favored by 13.5-points which is typically pretty discouraging, but Robinson has reached 30 DKFP in 2 of the team’s 4 losses of 10 or more points. And it’s a dream matchup on paper. The Packers are giving up the 2nd-most FPG to opposing RBs (33.5), ranking worst in receiving FPG allowed (15.3) and 3rd-worst in rushing FPG allowed (18.2). He’s a solid upside-bet for tournaments, but he’s not without warts.
Other / Tier 4
- Antonio Gibson is firmly stuck in the lesser-end of an ugly RBBC. He’s touched the ball just once on a 3rd Down all year. Since Week 6, J.D. McKissic has played on 65% of the snaps and handled 49% of the XFP out of the backfield, to Gibson’s 44% and 41%. Gibson is the sexier play, and offers more upside, but both RBs are in play in a near-perfect on-paper matchup. Detroit ranks worst in total FPG allowed (34.5), 2nd-worst in rushing FPG allowed (21.0), 3rd-worst in YPC allowed (5.07), and 4th-worst in receiving FPG allowed (13.5) to opposing RBs. But who is the better play? It likely comes down to how competitive Washington is in this game. (They’re currently 3.5-point underdogs.)
- D’Andre Swift, like Antonio Gibson, is firmly stuck in a frustrating RBBC, but his usage has been pretty good in spite of it. Since the Week 5 bye, he’s averaging 14.5 XFP per game, finishing 10th, 33rd, 16th, and 5th. And that’s despite just handling 52% of the backfield’s XFP over this span. Over this span, he’s averaging 14.0 carries (47%), 6.0 targets (55%), and 2.3 opportunities (54%) inside the 10-yard-line per game. And production was good, averaging 15.0 FPG over this span. Washington is just a neutral to below average matchup on paper, but he is pretty cheap.
- Leonard Fournette deserves some attention. He’s played on 65% of the team’s snaps over the last three weeks, averaging 9.0 carries (54%) and 6.3 targets per game (64%). He’s a decent value.
- Josh Jacobs was one of the league’s most gamescript-sensitive RBs in 2019, and it’s been even more true this year. He’s averaging 19.9 XFP and 19.8 FPG in victories, but only 13.4 XFP and 8.9 FPG in losses. Basically, that’s the difference between a mid-range RB1 and a low-end RB3. The good news is gamescript looks good this week, favored by 4.0-points. The bad news is, Denver is one of the league’s top pass funnel defenses, ranking top-10 in every RB stat and bottom-12 in every major QB stat. Oh, and Devontae Booker has 13 carries and 97 rushing yards over the last two weeks. That’s not good. He’s a slight value and a decent swing-for-the-fences play in GPPs, but not someone I’m super excited about.
- James Conner is in a similar spot to the matchup he had last week – the one where we wrongfully wrote him up as a Tier 1 play. Everything we said last week is true again – he’s very gamescript-sensitive, gamescript should be good, and Cincinnati ranks 2nd-worst in YPC allowed (5.40). Also, Ben Roethlisberger is pretty banged up, so it’s not unlikely they lean harder on Conner this week. Still, I’m concerned. He’s played on only 53% of the team’s snaps over the past two weeks, averaging just 12.0 carries and 2.5 targets over this span.
- Wayne Gallman would be a pretty decent play if Alfred Morris sits out. Johnny brought up this possibility on the Livestream. Feel safe ignoring him for now, as I’ll provide an update on Morris tomorrow in the Sunday AM Update.
Davante Adams, WR, Green Bay Packers
[DK: $9,000, FD: $9,500]
Adams is no doubt expensive, priced at $9,000 on DraftKings and $9,500 on FanDuel. And still, (per our projections), he’s a top-2 WR value for us on both sites.
Through 5 healthy games (Week 2 excluded), Adams averages 25.5 XFP per game and 32.4 FPG. He’s hit 30-plus fantasy points in 4 of 5 healthy games. For perspective, no other player has more than 2 games with 30 or more fantasy points this year.
Adams averages 13.2 targets, 10.0 catches, 127.8 yards, and 1.6 touchdowns per game. Over his last 9 games (Week 2 still excluded), he averages 28.8 FPG. Since 2018, he averages 21.5 FPG, hitting at least 16.0 fantasy points in 82% of these games. For perspective, Michael Thomas averages 20.7 and 68% over the same span.
These numbers are insane. So, I guess some sort of regression seems inevitable, but probably not this week. The Jaguars are giving up the most fantasy points per passing attempt (0.57) to opposing QBs, and they’ve allowed 4 different receivers to reach 80-plus yards and score a touchdown against them over their last two games.
Notes: Keep an eye on the weather in this game. Current projections forecast 28 mph winds.
Michael Thomas, WR, New Orleans Saints
[DK: $7,400, FD: $8,500]
Note the numbers we just cited in the Davante Adams section. It’s been a very close competition between the two of them, battling it for fantasy’s alpha WR1.
Adams is on pace to finish with the most FPG by any WR all-time (28.1), though Thomas’ 2019 season ranks 18th-best all-time over a larger sample (23.4). And Thomas is $1,000-1,600 cheaper, and at least $1,000 off his typical 2019 salary. Here’s what Wes Huber (our resident WR expert) had to say about him in Advanced Matchups:
New Orleans was able to build a 31-0 lead over Tampa Bay Week 9 in Michael Thomas’s long-awaited return. Scoring 10.1 FPs from a 5/51/0 receiving line isn’t going to instill a ton of confidence from the field of DFS degenerates. That’s actually what I am counting on in Week 10. Upon viewing the Week 9 film a second time, Thomas appeared to be near or at full strength while cutting and accelerating on 76 percent of team routes this past Sunday. In spite of the meager results, “CantGuardMike” still garnered a 25 percent target share for a healthy 1.82 YPRR.
Outside of Thomas averaging 28.3 FPG during his career when facing San Francisco (18/205/3 combined receiving line), the best part about this matchup is knowing Jason Verrett will always be positioned on the outside -- zero slot coverage snaps in 2020. Thomas splits his time in three between outside right, outside left, and the slot. Even within a Verrett shadow -- which is entirely unlikely, Thomas would play enough in the slot to break free of the seven-year veteran who has only allowed 0.68 yards per coverage snap (YPCS, CB average is currently 1.52), and 0.15 FPCS.
You may be a bit surprised to learn that the 49ers’ secondary has allowed the fourth-most receptions of 20-or-more yards, second-most resulting TDs, and fourth-most TDs of 40-or-more. Many of those holes in the SF secondary are the responsibility of Emmanuel Moseley on the outside opposite Verrett, and Jamar Taylor out of the slot. With K'Waun Williams out once again with a high-ankle sprain, Thomas will have two clear avenues to attack. When it comes to Thomas’ production facing coverage shells, unsurprisingly, he has zero holes within his repertoire.
Tyler Lockett / DK Metcalf, WR, Seattle Seahawks
If I knew the answer to the question “Who will score more fantasy points this week, DK Metcalf or Tyler Lockett?”, I wouldn’t be writing this article. I’d be retired on a tropical island somewhere. The truth is no one knows.
Right now, Metcalf ranks 2nd in FPG (21.2) and Lockett ranks 3rd (19.6). Lockett ranks 4th in XFP per game (16.3) and Metcalf ranks 8th (15.6). Metcalf has been more consistent, hitting at least 14.5 fantasy points in every game thus far. Lockett has been far more inconsistent but offers the higher ceiling – 31.7 FPG in his top-50% of games, 7.4 FPG in his bottom-50% of games.
Lockett has the softer draw this week, with Metcalf likely to spend a lot (or all) of his time against Jalen Ramsey. And Los Angeles has given up 46% of their WR production to the slot (5th-most), which is where Lockett runs 60% of his routes. But, so far, looking at matchups hasn’t helped us much at all – Metcalf hit against Stephon Gilmore and Tre’Davious White, while Lockett flopped in much softer draws. Metcalf probably should have the higher expectation each week, but Lockett will always offer slate-busting upside.
Lockett is $1,100 cheaper than Metcalf on DraftKings and $900 cheaper on FanDuel. And that’s really the extent of my analysis. Pricing made it easy on us – Lockett is the better value, and maybe the best WR value of the slate.
DeVante Parker, WR, Miami Dolphins
[DK: $5,000, FD: $6,000]
On DraftKings ($5,000), Parker ranks as our top overall WR value as per the DFS Super Model (+813), but he’s a top-5 value on FanDuel as well. He averaged 19.3 FPG in 8 games without Preston Williams last year. Here’s what Wes Huber had to say about him in Advanced Matchups:
What makes Parker such a valuable commodity this week? DP is somewhat similar to Stefon Diggs in that he does very well against Cover 1 and a variety of zone coverages.
Parker has hit a wall over his last 25 games when facing zone shells with at least four defensive backs dropping deep: Cover 4 and 6. He’s been better than average against Cover 2, but is simply one of the top WRs in the game when facing a Cover 3 scheme. While he’s not going to give away too much during a post-game interview about Parker’s strengths, here’s what Ryan Fitzpatrick was quoted as saying after Parker set a new career-high with 10 receptions in Week 4 at Seattle:
The loss of Preston Williams to injured reserve will only put additional emphasis on making Parker the centerpiece of the offense. In addition, the Dolphins have reverted to passing on two-thirds of snaps since Myles Gaskin also landed on IR. When Parker has gone against a Cover 3 since the beginning of his breakout 2019 season (21 percent of routes), his FP/Rt has jumped by 21 percent, his YPRR by 47 percent, and his air yards per targets has increased by 10 percent. Parker is simply a no-brainer in Week 10 with value to spare at his current salaries.
Though I prefer Josh Reynolds, Jakeem Grant is a strong punt-play at a meager $3,000 price-tag on DraftKings. Los Angeles has been a slot funnel since losing Chris Harris Jr., and he’ll see more work than he did last week (5 targets) with Preston Williams out.
Stefon Diggs, WR, Buffalo Bills
[DK: $7,500, FD: $7,900]
Here’s what Wes Huber had to say of Diggs (who ranks behind only Davante Adams in XFP per game) in Advanced Matchups:
As much as I loved Stefon Diggsin Week 9, his faceoff with Patrick Peterson in Week 10 is at the top of my must-play list. Looking at the results of Diggs’ first season in Buffalo, three of the four games that stand out the most -- Week 2 at Miami, Week 5 at Tennessee, and Week 8 vs. New England -- all come when facing a secondary featuring man coverages. More specifically, Cover 1 shells. In a Cover 1, the secondary will only drop a single defensive back deep to aid underneath defenders in man coverage. Some of the league’s top WRs take advantage of holes in zone shells for much of their success. When they go up against man coverages, their upside is capped without the ability to generate their own offense.
Not the case with Diggs. While “Diggsy” has struggled a bit when facing Cover 2 and 6 shells, he’s lethal in attack mode on Cover 3 and 4 shells. On top of that, Stefon is one of the top-10 most dangerous WRs in the league against Cover 1. Since every NFL team plays a healthy amount of snaps in Cover 1, Diggs’ upside is almost always among the elite. In Week 10, Arizona will be expected to field the NFL’s second-highest rate of Cover 1 (44 percent).
On 23 percent of routes against Cover 1 over his last 26 games, Diggs has generated 27 percent of receptions, 33 percent of yardage, and 32 percent of TDs. Furthermore, his FPs/route (FP/Rt) increases by 33 percent, yards/route run (YPRR) by 42 percent, and his air yards per target by five percent. This recommendation revolves entirely around Diggs’ upside, not in opposition to Peterson’s coverage ability since it’s very likely Diggs plays significant snaps -- upwards of 50 percent of routes -- outside of Peterson’s coverage.
Keenan Allen, WR, Los Angeles Chargers
[DK: $7,100, FD: $7,800]
Adjusting for the fact that Allen played in only one quarter in Week 5, he’s averaging 23.0 XFP, 19.5 FPG, and 12.6 targets per four quarters since Justin Herbert took over in Week 2. Even more ludicrously, he’s been targeted on 34% of Herbert’s throws over this span. For perspective, those numbers would rank 1st, 5th, 1st, and 1st among all WRs. And yet, he ranks just 6th in salary on both sites. It’s an above average matchup on paper for Allen – Miami ranks 12th-worst in FPG allowed to slot WRs and 13th-worst to outside WRs. Allen runs 45% of his routes from the slot, so an Xavien Howard shadow is unlikely. He’s a terrific play with one of the highest floors at the position.
Los Angeles Rams WRs
Seattle is giving up the most FPG to opposing WRs (59.3, +12.9 more than next-closest). They’re giving up the most schedule-adjusted FPG to opposing WRs (+23.5, +15.1 more than next-closest). They’re giving up the most FPG to opposing outside WRs (36.4, +8.4 more than next-closest). They’re giving up the most FPG to opposing slot WRs (22.9, +2.4 more than next-closest). They’re giving up the most FPG to opposing WRs on deep passes (19.9, +1.6 more then next-closest).
Seattle has played in 8 games this year. 11 WRs have hit 23.0 or more DKFP against them. 15 have hit 17.0 DKFP.
Every Rams WR is in play this week. Robert Woods has had the league’s 6th-toughest CB schedule to date, but this matchup couldn’t be any better. Cooper Kupp saw 20 targets in his last game, but is now dealing with wrist and oblique injuries. He leads the team in XFP per game with 14.2 to Woods’ 11.9 and Josh Reynolds’ 8.0. I slightly prefer Kupp just based on that. Reynolds averages 7.3 targets and 12.0 FPG over his last 3 games. He’s a glaring value, just $500 off the minimum price on both sites, and he has decent GPP upside serving as the team’s vertical threat (7 deep targets over his last 3 games, to Woods’ 4 and Kupp’s 4).
The only reason we don’t have “Los Angeles Rams WRs” in Tier 1 is that it’s hard to project who exactly is going to go off, but really they’re all great high-ceiling values.
D.J. Chark, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars
[DK: $6,200, FD: $6,600]
Chark ranks 15th in XFP per game (14.4) but just 26th in FPG (14.4). That discrepancy is because he’s been disadvantaged by poor QB play – just 67% of his targets were deemed accurate by SIS, the 2nd-worst rate in the league. Jake Luton looked like a significant improvement last week, with that number jumping to 75% despite a corresponding jump in aDOT. Volume was encouraging as well – Luton seemed to key in on Chark (Gardner Minshew was happy to spread the ball around a bit more) while also being more aggressive in trying to push the ball farther down the field. Chark’s 19.3 XFP in Week 9 ranked 9th-most on the week. He scored 27.6 fantasy points on 12 targets, 169 air yards, and a season-high 4 deep targets.
Green Bay’s ferocious CB1 Jaire Alexander is doubtful for this week’s game, bumping this from a bottom-5 matchup to one that’s probably top-10. Kevin King – Alexander’s direct backup – is Questionable, so keep an eye on that as well. It might boost this matchup even further, making it potentially top-5.
Notes: Keep an eye on the weather in this game. Current projections forecast 28 mph winds.
Diontae Johnson, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
[DK: $5,200, FD: $5,700]
On FanDuel, Johnson ranks as the 2nd-best value of the slate (behind only Mike Davis) as per the DFS SuperModel (+928). Here’s what we had to say about him in Start/Sit:
Johnson has played in 7 games this year. In 3 games he exited early in the 1st quarter due to injury (1 he returned but wasn’t necessarily effective or involved after the injury). But he saw at least 10 targets in each of the other 4 games, averaging 12.3 targets, 19.6 XFP, and 19.5 FPG in those games. In other words, when he’s suffered an in-game injury, he’s understandably struggled. When he’s been healthy, he’s put up mid-WR1 production on mid-WR1 usage. In game injuries are pretty fluky and random, and he’s just been incredibly unlucky in that regard. But start him with confidence this week against a Bengals defense that is giving up the 10th-most FPG to opposing outside WRs.
Chase Claypool, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
[DK: $5,800, FD: $6,100]
Everything we just said for Johnson is true, but Claypool ranks right behind him on FanDuel, mispriced by $833 per the SuperModel. He totals 22 targets and 29.5 fantasy points over the last two weeks. And actually, if accounting for plays called back due to penalty, he’s actually seen a league-high 26 targets over this span. By now you all know my biases when it comes to Johnson, but I’m not confident he’s the better play than Claypool. In fact, Wes Huber significantly prefers Claypool this week. He foresees CB William Jackson spending most of his time on Diontae Johnson, leaving Claypool in the far more vulnerable matchup. He dug in deep here.
Terry McLaurin, WR, Washington Football Team
[DK: $6,800, FD: $7,000]
McLaurin is popping as one of the best overall values on FanDuel, though he ranks highly on DraftKings as well. Once again, I’m going to lean heavy on Wes Huber. Here’s what he had to say of McLaurin in The Bottom Line:
Run this through the think-tank: has there been another WR over the last two seasons that’s produced anything close to Terry McLaurin with similarly lackluster QB play? Nothing comparable comes to mind. Rather than delving into all of the reasons McLaurin is an excellent play this week, I’ll detail how teams have contained him. First-and-foremost, elite shadow corners, like most every other WR, have given him fits. Darius Slay held McLaurin to 11.1 FPs in Week 1 with his blanketing man coverage skills. The very next week, “McLaurin F1” threw down 28.5 FPs on Patrick Peterson and Co. In Week 5, Jalen Ramsey came to town within his multiple-zone shadow to hand McLaurin a season-low 5.6 FPs.
Outside of the two games against Slay and Ramsey and a turnover-laden Week 3 from Dwayne Haskins against the Browns, McLaurin has hit at least 85 percent value in the remainder. He’s been fed with at least seven targets -- 10-or-more in four -- in every 2020 game from three different QBs. In Week 10, McLaurin will face off with Detroit’s Cover 1-heavy secondary. No other team can come close to the Lions’ near 50 percent usage of Cover 1. Since Detroit may offer the worst run defense in the NFL, a list of teams have simply run straight at them without ever needing to exploit their equally horrendous secondary.
The Bottom Line: Let’s face facts, the majority of the field will be all over Davante Adams’ historic fantasy production, Stefon Diggs facing an Arizona defense bent on donating FPs to outside WRs, and the WRs in the Seattle at LA Rams game. To be clear, Diggs is my overall No. 1 WR in Week 10 opposed by Peterson. However, McLaurin is a far cry from a terrible pivot. When “Scary Terry” has been opposed by a Cover 1 over his career on 29 percent of snaps, he’s collected 31 percent of his yardage, and 56 percent of his TDs! His FPs/route (FP/Rt) increases by 21 percent and his yards per route run (YPRR) by 10 percent. Did I mention that he’s expected to be rostered in less than nine percent of lineups?
Brandin Cooks, WR, Houston Texans
[DK: $5,600, FD: $6,300]
As much as we loved Will Fuller in the offseason, it might be time to wonder if Cooks is really the WR1 on this team. Since the Bill O’Brien firing heading into Week 5, Brandin Cooks has seen better volume (measured by XFP) than Fuller in 4 of 4 games. Over this span, he averages 15.2 XFP per game (6th-most) to Fuller’s 10.8 (25th-most). Cooks has seen at least 9 targets in every game, averaging 9.8 per game to Fuller’s 7.5. He ranks 6th in FPG (20.6) over this span, while Fuller ranks 14th (18.4). Both WRs have great matchups this week – Cleveland is giving up the 2nd-most schedule-adjusted FPG to opposing WRs (+8.4). Based on the recent uptick in usage I think I prefer Cooks to Fuller outright, but Cooks being $800-1100 cheaper makes it easy. He’s a great play on both sites, egregiously mispriced as just the 25th- (DK) and 24th most-expensive (FD) WR of the slate.
Notes: Keep an eye on the weather in this game. Current projections forecast 28 mph winds.
Dallas Goedert, TE, Philadelphia Eagles
[DK: $4,200, FD: $5,800]
Goedert played a full complement of the team’s snaps in Week 8 prior to the bye (84%), but clearly wasn’t operating at full health, earning just 1 target on the day. Still, prior to injury, Goedert averaged 8.5 targets and 15.6 FPG through two games. Those numbers would both rank 3rd-best among all TEs, and, theoretically, his expectation should be higher now with Zach Ertz out. He’s now off the injury report, and is very badly mispriced on DraftKings ($4,200).
Darren Waller, TE, Las Vegas Raiders
[DK: $5,900, FD: $7,000]
Waller ranks 1st among TEs in XFP per game (15.5), and ranks 3rd in FPG (14.2). Excluding Week 8 (a game that featured 45 mph winds) and Week 3 against the Patriots (where he was hurt), Waller is averaging 10.2 targets per game and 17.1 FPG. Those numbers would rank 4th- and 16th-best among WRs. And yet, in a week without Travis Kelce and George Kittle, Waller ranks just $5,900 on DraftKings… or what would rank just 19th among WRs. He’s a phenomenal value in a neutral on-paper matchup against the Broncos.
Eric Ebron, TE, Pittsburgh Steelers
[DK: $4,400, FD: $5,400]
Ebron has reached at least 11.0 fantasy points in three straight games, while also seeing a significant boost in volume over this span. Over his last three games, Ebron is averaging 6.3 targets per game on an 85% route share. Across his first 5 games, he averaged just 4.8 targets per game on a 73% route share. This boost in volume is coming at an opportune time – Cincinnati is giving up the 2nd-most FPG to opposing TEs (17.8), surrendering 6 touchdowns to TEs over their last 4 games. He’s a terrific value, priced as just the 8th- (DK: $4,400) and 12th-most-expensive (FD: $5,400) TE of the slate.
T.J. Hockenson, TE, Detroit Lions
[DK: $5,100, FD: $6,200]
Since Week 6, Hockenson ranks 2nd in FPG (13.8) and 2nd in XFP per game (15.3). He’s finally seen an uptick in target volume with Kenny Golladay out (recording 18 targets over his last 2 games), which he’ll now pair with phenomenal target quality. He ranks 46th among all players in targets (49) but ranks 1st in targets inside the 5-yard line (6), 2nd in end zone targets (9), and 2nd in XTD per target (0.11). He gets a top-5 matchup this week, against a Washington defense that is good everywhere – everywhere but to TEs, where they’re abysmal. They’re giving up the 6th-most FPG to opposing TEs (15.4), which represents a league-high 32.6% of their total receiving FPG allowed.
He’s badly mispriced on both sites, but apparently is now dealing with a toe injury and is listed as Questionable. I’m not quite sure of what to make of this. I’ll have an update for you tomorrow.
Tier 3 / Other
- We talked about Noah Fant here as one of the top values of the slate, but, again, the lingering ankle injury which he re-aggravated in Week 9 has me nervous.
- Austin Hooper averages 7.7 targets and 11.8 FPG on a 70% route share across his last three games. He’s practiced in full all week. He’s a strong value, but, truthfully, I simply prefer Goedert and Ebron who aren’t much more expensive.
- Hunter Henry remains a top value and the strong regression candidate he’s been for a number of weeks now. Justin Herbert is rolling, and he’s averaging 6.6 targets per game. I’m not sure why the production hasn’t been there, but it certainly hasn’t – he’s failed to reach even 40 yards in 5 straight games. Maybe the regression comes this week in a big way and at low ownership, but he’s just harder to trust than the other names we’ve mentioned.
Kyler Murray, QB, Arizona Cardinals
[DK: $8,000, FD: $8,800]
Murray is basically the Christian McCaffrey of the QB position – a borderline cheat code, offering a massive floor and ceiling due to his rushing expectation, while also being highly competent as a passer. Or better yet, Kyler Murray is basically a rich man’s 2019 Lamar Jackson. He’s finished top-7 among QBs in every week thus far, having scored 240.5 total fantasy points, which ranks most ever by any QB through a player’s first 8 games of the season. He’s a rich man’s 2019 Lamar Jackson, but still isn’t quite priced like 2019 Lamar Jackson, which makes him glaringly the best QB play of the slate, and your best option for cash games on both sites. He gets a neutral at-worst matchup, behind the 2nd-highest implied point total of the slate (29.25).
2019 Lamar Jackson vs. 2020 Kyler Murray, through first 8 games:
- Josh Allen has long been the most matchup-sensitive QB in fantasy, and this is actually his 4th-best matchup of the season. The Bills completely abandoned the run game last week, and they could do it again, as 2.5-point underdogs in a game that features the highest Over/Under of the week (56.0).
- Josh Allen is matchup-sensitive, but Justin Herbert has only ever looked like the good Josh Allen. And that’s in spite of the league’s 4th-toughest QB schedule to-date (-1.1). He gets another difficult but not insurmountable matchup this week, as the Dolphins rank 10th-best in schedule-adjusted FPG allowed to opposing QBs (-1.8). Still, Los Angeles apparently has fully unleashed Herbert, who has eclipsed 40 pass attempts and 20 rushing yards in 3 straight games. Since Week 4, Herbert ranks 2nd in FPG (27.3). Miami is giving up the 4th-most rushing FPG (5.1) to opposing QBs, and, as we talked about last week, that’s wholly a function of scheme. So, Herbert (23.7 rushing YPG) should rack up plenty of yards with his legs if he so chooses. His price is still dumb on DraftKings ($6,600), making him the 2nd-best QB value on the site (behind Murray).
- Outside of his toughest matchup of the season, against Tampa Bay, Aaron Rodgers averages 26.0 FPG, hitting at least 22.5 fantasy points in 6 of 7 games. He gets a pillow-soft draw this week, against a Jaguars defense that is giving up the most passing fantasy points per pass attempt (0.57) of any defense. Green Bay has by far the highest implied point total of the week (31.25), giving them an expectation of around ~4.0 touchdowns. Realistically, Green Bay can do whatever the hell they want this week. Could Rodgers score all of the touchdowns this week and break the slate? Sure. Could Jones instead get 2 of those on the ground? Sure. But as 14.0-point favorites, Green Bay may not need to keep their foot on the gas in the 2nd Half. In other words, he offers a sky-high ceiling in GPPs and a sky-high floor for cash if stacked with Aaron Jones. (Note: Keep an eye on the weather in this game. Current projections forecast 28 mph winds.)
- Wes Huber wrote up Tom Brady right here, who historically eats Cover-3 defenses for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. (He scored 36.5 DKFP against the Chargers in Week 4.) It’s a great matchup for him, but a perceived bad matchup, so he could go far lower-owned than he should after what was possibly the worst game of his career. Though, keep in mind he posted a 17:1 TD:INT ratio across his prior 6 games. And now he gets to pair Antonio Brown with Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and Rob Gronkowski. Oh boy.
- Huber also made an extremely compelling case for Tua Tagovailoa and Drew Brees here. The argument for Tagovailoa was similar to Brady, but thinner. He’s more of a super contrarian play for large-field tournaments. Brees, meanwhile, averages 27.2 FPG across his last 5 games with Thomas healthy, and now draws a brutally banged up and ailing San Francisco pass defense.
- I love me some Jared Goff this week. He isn’t quite as cheap as I had hoped, but he’s still no doubt one of the best QB plays of the slate. I wrote him up here. This game could shootout behind the 2nd-highest Over/Under of the slate (54.5)… The Russell Wilson argument is obvious, though I expect to be lower-owned on him than the field.
- Since the Bill O’Brien firing heading into Week 5, Deshaun Watson leads all QBs in passing YPG (321.0) and ranks 4th in FPG (26.8). He also seems to finally be running a bit more, totaling 88 yards on 17 carries over his last two games. Cleveland ranks 4th-worst in schedule-adjusted FPG allowed to opposing QBs (+3.1). (Note: Keep an eye on the weather in this game. Current projections forecast 28 mph winds.)
- I talked about Derek Carr here. He’s a strong value, but there’s a ton of value this week and I question his ceiling.