Every week in DFS is a different puzzle to try and solve and this week might be the most unique puzzle we’ve gotten yet. It’s like if a Jackson Pollock painting were turned into a 1,000-piece jigsaw.
Taysom Hill, not Jameis Winston, is going to be the Saints starter in place of Drew Brees and that throws a massive wrench into the entire slate. Hill is listed as a minimum-priced tight end on FanDuel which basically makes him a free square on that site. Meanwhile, Hill is priced at his correct position on DraftKings — but he’s only $4,800. That’s the same exact price as P.J. Walker, who could start in place of the injured Teddy Bridgewater (knee).
Hill is now the biggest value on this slate and he should be a cornerstone in cash game lineups on DraftKings. Playing Hill will allow everyone to pay up for what will be an extremely popular Dalvin Cook ($9,000 DK; $10,500 FD) and that is where we’ll start this week’s piece…
Note: The ownership projections referenced in this article are from our dashboard, which is powered by FanShare. These are updated constantly throughout the weekend.
Cowboys + Cook is the ultimate leverage in tournaments
With Hill priced at the stone minimum on FanDuel and near the minimum at QB on DraftKings, everyone is going to have the salary to pay up for Dalvin Cook in what is just another chance for him to crash his ceiling. Cook has 35-40 point upside against this Cowboys front-seven that is giving up the second-most yards per carry (5.2) and the second-most rushing fantasy points per game to RBs (14.1). The Vikings are 7-point home-favorites, which means that they should be able to stick to their script and pound the rock with Cook in what is clearly one of the best matchups he’ll see all season.
Cook hasn’t necessarily been game script-dependent this season — the Vikings are going to feed him regardless — but historically, he has posted his best performances when his team wins. Over the last three years, Cook has scored 6.6 more fantasy points per game in wins compared to losses.
So, play this game out in your head. If you think Vegas is right and the Vikings are going to dominate the game and control it with Cook, that would mean that the Cowboys are going to have to throw a ton to keep up. Right?
Well, literally no one will want to play Andy Dalton ($5,300 DK; $6,900 FD). Especially with Taysom Hill at $500 cheaper, Dalton is projected for 2% ownership on DraftKings. But that is exactly why Dalton is a phenomenal tournament play: he allows you to have a perfectly correlated game-stack with Cook on the Vikings side and have a unique roster build. Plus, Dalton’s top two pass catchers — Amari Cooper ($5,400) and CeeDee Lamb ($5,000) — are both inexplicably cheap on DraftKings. (I prefer Lamb to Cooper by a decent margin on FanDuel for his price savings).
Dalton was just plain bad in his first start of the year against the Cardinals and then got knocked out of their game against Washington after running for his life that entire game. Keep in mind, the Cowboys didn’t have his best offensive linemen when they played The Football Team. G Zack Martin is back this week. With Martin healthy coming out of their bye, the Cowboys passing offense is in a tremendous spot against what has been a brutally bad Vikings secondary that is bottom-5 in passer rating and passing fantasy points per attempt allowed. Wes Huber also wrote up this matchup as a strong spot for Dalton.
This spot is particularly great for Lamb because the Vikings slot coverage is arguably the worst in the league. Their secondary has been rinsed for 27.5 fantasy points per game by slot wideouts, which is third-most. In fact, a league-high 67% of the Vikings total fantasy production allowed to WRs has come through the slot and that’s where Lamb lines up 93% of the time. Lamb is going to run circles around Vikings slot CB Jeff Gladney, who is allowing the fifth-most fantasy points per snap among qualified CBs. Lamb is projected to see just 3% ownership according to FanShare.
There are a lot of ways to play this game between Dalton + Cooper/Lamb + Cook, Cousins + Cook + Jefferson/Thielen + Cooper/Lamb in what should be a shootout between two bad defenses. If you’re all-in on Cook (and you should be), just keep in mind you have to find different angles to build around him for tournaments. Playing Dalton with one of his pass-catchers is certainly going to be a unique way to get there.
Derrick Henry is the contrarian play off of Cook
If you can stomach a Cook fade, then Derrick Henry ($8,000 DK; $8,200 FD) is the leverage play. With Alvin Kamara ($9,200 DK; $9,700 FD) likely to garner 15-20% ownership too, it’s going to leave Henry under-owned at a far cheaper price tag than Cook and Kamara.
Now, I am by no means saying Henry is a better play than Cook. But the two do have similar 150-yard, 2 TD ceilings. The Ravens have sort of become a “run funnel” where opposing offenses are finding it easier to run on them than to pass. Over their last four games, Baltimore has quietly been crushed for the third-most yards per carry (5.5) and they may be without run-stuffing DT Brandon Williams. DE Calais Campbell also hasn’t practiced this week. Our Greg Cosell mentioned on the Matchups livestream that the Titans are going to struggle to throw the ball well this week, which would make the Titans rely on Henry even more.
Henry is projected for 8% ownership on DraftKings and 12% on FanDuel.
Big Ben double stacks?
On DraftKings, Ben Roethlisberger ($6,700) is sandwiched right in between both Justin Herbert ($6,800) and Deshaun Watson ($6,500). Both Herbert and Watson are currently projected to catch slightly more ownership and both are phenomenal plays with clear-cut stacking options for tournaments. I mentioned on the livestream with Scott and Proctor that I think Herbert is the QB1 on this slate considering price and Scott has him graded out at his top value this week.
However, if Watson and Herbert both end up being more popular, Roethlisberger makes for an interesting pivot off of those two for tournaments. This matchup couldn’t possibly get much better for the Steelers passing offense. The Jaguars have allowed six QB1 (top-12) scoring performances against them this season, which is tied for most in the league. They’ll also be without their top CB C.J. Henderson (IR) this week and were already giving up a league-high 0.58 fantasy points per pass attempt with him healthy.
Big Ben is going to be able to do whatever he wants against this secondary and may have more untapped upside that is being unaccounted for. The Steelers can’t run the ball effectively or consistently right now and it’s causing their passing volume to spike. Over his last four games, Big Ben has attempted 40 or more passes three times as Pittsburgh is tied with Kansas City as the second-most pass-heavy team in this span (69%).
Of course, the concern in this game is simple. Can the Jaguars score enough points to keep the Steelers foot on the gas offensively? The Chargers have the same concern in their game with the Jets, maybe to an even larger degree. On a positive note for his outlook, Big Ben threw the ball 46 times last week against the Bengals in a game that was never particularly close throughout.
For as long as Roethlisberger wants, Diontae Johnson ($5,900 DK; $6,400 FD) and Chase Claypool ($6,100 DK; $6,400 FD) are going to be able to get open at will against this completely over-matched secondary. I’d look to stack up Roethlisberger with at least two of his pass catchers to capture all of the upside in this offense because Johnson, Claypool, and JuJu Smith-Schuster each individually have the potential for 80+ yards and 2 TDs. And both Johnson and Claypool are still way too cheap. Don’t forget about Eric Ebron ($4,000 DK; $5,400 FD) either! He will come in at the lowest ownership out of the Steelers pass catchers and would obviously make sense in Big Ben stacks along with one of Claypool, Johnson, or Smith-Schuster. The Jaguars have been terrible against tight ends, allowing the second-most fantasy points per target and the fifth-most yards per game to the position. Ebron is projected for just 6% ownership.
Some pass catchers that are going to go under-owned…
D.J. Chark ($5,700 DK; $6,200 FD) and Chris Conley ($3,000 DK; $4,900 FD) vs. Steelers — 3% projected ownership for Chark; 1% for Conley
Chark (4/56 receiving) and Conley (4/43) flopped in a windy, messy game last week in Green Bay, but this is a nice potential bounceback spot here. The Jaguars are 10.5-point underdogs this week which will lead to Jake Luton dropping back and airing it out plenty. With Laviska Shenault (hamstring) out again, the Jaguars are going to have a very condensed target share this week between Chark and Conley. Over the last two weeks, Chark (17 targets) and Conley (16) have combined for 46% of Luton’s passing looks. Between A.J. Brown (6/153/1), Corey Davis (6/35/1), Willie Snead (5/106), CeeDee Lamb (4/71/1), Amari Cooper (5/67), and Tee Higgins (7/115/1) Steelers have allowed plenty of production to wideouts for four-straight games. Chark obviously has a higher ceiling than Conley, but at minimum price on DraftKings, Conley is the best punt wide receiver on this slate. Michael Gallup ($3,700), K.J. Hamler ($3,600), Jakeem Grant ($3,500), and Denzel Mims ($3,300) are also in play if you need salary relief.
Calvin Ridley ($7,000 DK; $7,800 FD) at Saints — 3% projected ownership
Coming off a missed game because of a foot injury and the Falcons bye, Ridley is trending to be extremely lightly owned in a potential shootout with the Saints. Outside of his donut against the Packers in Week 4 and when he left early in Week 8, Ridley is averaging 6.7 receptions and 102.5 yards per game in his six other games. You beat New Orleans on deep throws and that’s exactly where Ridley is used. The Saints are allowing the sixth-most fantasy points per game to receivers on throws of 20+ yards downfield and Ridley leads the league with 19 targets of 20 or more air yards. Marshon Lattimore (abdomen) missing would obviously boost Ridley’s outlook if he were to miss, too.
T.J. Hockenson ($4,200 DK; $6,000 FD) at Panthers — 6% projected ownership
With Kenny Golladay and Danny Amendola both out this week, the Lions are going to have to rely on Hockenson, Marvin Jones, and Marvin Hall as their top three pass catchers against Carolina. Hockenson had his first bad game of the season last week (2/13 receiving) but Amendola’s absence is a sneaky nice boost to Hockenson’s outlook. In his three starts without Golladay in the lineup, Amendola saw 7, 7, and 10 targets as the Lions slot receiver. In theory, a few of those interior looks should shift Hockenson’s way this week. Plus, this matchup is awesome for Hockenson. The Panthers have been crushed by TEs recently, allowing 7/54/1 to Bears TEs, 3/32/1 to Jared Cook, 5/54 to Hayden Hurst, 10/1159 to Travis Kelce, and 5/82/2 to Buccaneers TEs over the last five weeks.
Tee Higgins ($5,900 DK; $6,500 FD) at Washington — 9% projected ownership
Higgins is producing like a WR1, but he’s priced as a high-end WR3 on DraftKings. It makes no sense. Over the last five weeks, Higgins is the WR7 in fantasy points per game (19.1) trailing only Davante Adams, Julio Jones, Keenan Allen, Tyreek Hill, Terry McLaurin, and Tyler Lockett in this span. Higgins is simply under-priced for his role and talent.
Good luck this week!