This is the most unique DFS slate of the year. On DraftKings, we have an insane amount of value at running back and a few standout plays that are too cheap at receiver and tight end. Figuring out the right running back values is the biggest question of this week and that’s where we’ll start this column:
All the RB value
Most DraftKings lineups will start around Alvin Kamara ($8,000) or Ezekiel Elliott ($7,800) and then center around picking two more backs from the $6,500 - $4,500 range this week. For tournaments, there are going to be at least two great RB plays that go under-owned simply because there are so many value options to choose from.
Going through our ownership projections (powered by FanShare), Kamara and Zeke are going to absorb 20-30% ownership followed by:
Mike Davis 18%
David Johnson 16%
Kenyan Drake 16%
James Robinson 13%
Joe Mixon 10%
Devin Singletary 10% (Should be lower if Zack Moss plays)
Myles Gaskin 9%
Ronald Jones 3%
For cash games, it’s really hard to get off of Kenyan Drake this week. The Panthers have been the worst run defense in the NFL for back-to-back years now and have opened up this season allowing Josh Jacobs to finish as the RB1 in Week 1, Leonard Fournette was the RB3 in Week 2, and Austin Ekeler hit them for an RB3 performance last week. Drake should have no problem getting to 16-20 carries in what should be a positive game script -- the Cardinals are favored by 3.5 -- but his ceiling is hurt by both Chase Edmonds and Kyler Murray. Through three games, Edmonds has seen more targets than Drake (12 to 5) while Murray and Drake are splitting red-zone carries (8 to 5 in favor of Drake).
On a week with so much value, it won’t be hard to find the extra salary to get up to Clyde Edwards-Helaire at just $6,400. With Drake, Mike Davis ($5,700), David Johnson ($5,600), Joe Mixon ($5,800), and Darrell Henderson ($5,800) all absorbing 10-20% ownership at lower prices, it’s going to leave Edwards-Helaire under-owned. As a 7-point home-favorite, CEH’s touchdown upside is only rivaled by Kamara and Elliott on this slate. Edwards-Helaire has gotten unlucky in the red-zone this year and should have at least 1-2 more TDs, too. A total of 16 players have seen six more carries inside of the 10-yard line and Edwards-Helaire is the only one without a touchdown (on 8 carries). While Bill Belichick sells out to slow Patrick Mahomes, the Patriots defense are going to dare Kansas City to run the ball. I’m going to be all-in on CEH in tournaments.
James Robinson is somehow $100 more than Edwards-Helaire on DraftKings, so if you’re looking to get exposure, he’s a much better value on FanDuel ($6,600; priced as RB12).
David Montgomery also looks like a fantastic leverage play at 3-5% ownership on both DraftKings and FanDuel. Tarik Cohen (ACL) is out for the year, which opens the door for David Montgomery to be a true bell-cow. Cohen and Montgomery were previously splitting passing down work (Cohen: 54 routes; Montgomery: 50) but after Cohen got injured, Montgomery hardly left the field over the Bears final four drives in the fourth quarter. According to PFF, Montgomery played on 19-of-21 snaps once Cohen was ruled out last week. Montgomery’s role was already pretty strong -- he has seen 16 or more opportunities (carries + targets) in 14 of his 19 career games -- and it should be even better with only Cordarrelle Patterson and Ryan Nall around to steal snaps.
We’ve got Montgomery projected as our RB10 this week, ahead of both Joe Mixon and Darrell Henderson.
Mixon vs. Henderson is a really interesting debate. Ownership aside, I prefer Henderson slightly 1 vs. 1. The Rams are going to crush the Giants this week -- they are up to 13-point favorites -- and Cam Akers (ribs) is out once again, making this just a two-man backfield. The Rams are the sixth-most run-heavy team in the league when leading (58%), giving Henderson incredible upside as the Rams new lead back. Henderson just moves at a different velocity than Malcolm Brown and HC Sean McVay knows it. Henderson has gotten an opportunity (carry or target) on 60% of his snaps while Brown has seen a carry or target on just 25% of his snaps over the last two weeks. Henderson has also seen more red-zone carries than Brown in this span (8 to 3).
Both backs project for very similar volume (15-20 carries and 2-3 targets), but I'm giving Henderson the edge because the Rams are such a better team and will go incredibly run-heavy this week.
Leverage in the four best games
Browns vs. Cowboys
For good reason, the Cowboys will continue to draw heavy ownership across their offense while I suspect Odell Beckham ($5,800 DK; $6,600 FD) will be among the highest owned receivers. The Cowboys are No. 1 in pace (seconds per play) and should force the Browns to the air way more if Dallas gets out to a lead. However, CeeDee Lamb ($5,400 DK; $5,600 FD) is shaping up to be an amazing tournament play. After disappointing as chalk last week, Lamb is projected for just 6% ownership against this Cleveland secondary that is allowing the ninth-most fantasy points per game to slot receivers (25.4). Lamb has run 91% of his routes from the slot so far.
Saints vs. Lions
There are a ton of great quarterback plays this week, but considering price and his straightforward stacking options, Matthew Stafford is my favorite play in tournaments. The Saints allowed Tom Brady (20.5), Derek Carr (23.7), and Aaron Rodgers (24.5) all to clear 20+ fantasy points against them to start this year and the Saints secondary is in even worse shape this week with starting CBs Marshon Lattimore (hamstring) and Janoris Jenkins (shoulder) both out. Stafford is projected for just 3-5% ownership this weekend.
Kenny Golladay got through last week with no setbacks and is way too cheap on DraftKings ($6,000). I think he’ll end up being pretty popular, but that doesn’t make him any worse of a play at all. I don’t think Golladay will end up being too chalky since we’ll see DeVante Parker and D.J. Moore draw ownership at slightly lower prices.
T.J. Hockenson makes a great leverage play off of what will be a very highly-owned Darren Waller on DraftKings. (We have Waller projected for 20% ownership while Hockenson is at 9%). This is an amazing spot for Hockenson after the Saints allowed Buccaneers’ tight ends to combine for 6/47/1 in Week 1, Waller ripped them for 12/105/1 in Week 2 on MNF, and even the Packers tight end group combined for a monster 9/104/1 line against New Orleans last week. Hockenson’s usage -- routes run per dropback -- has increased every week so far this year (59% > 67% > 90%), too. Hockenson is a borderline free square for FanDuel cash games at just $5,400, which is $1,300 cheaper than Waller and $700 cheaper than Hunter Henry. He’s just a tremendous play.
This game sets up extremely well for a Lions stack (Stafford / Golladay / Hockenson) and then running it back with Kamara on the Saints side. With Michael Thomas (ankle) still sitting out, Drew Brees will continue to funnel the offense through Kamara.
Seahawks vs. Dolphins
Even at their elevated prices, Russell Wilson, Tyler Lockett, and D.K. Metcalf are still amazing plays. Miami is playing man coverage at the sixth-highest rate in the league and Wilson should have no issue exposing it. At just $5,400 on DraftKings, I think we’ll see Ryan Fitzpatrick heavily owned in cash games -- especially since Seattle’s already terrible defense will be without S Jamal Adams (groin). DeVante Parker is projected to be the second-highest owned receiver on DraftKings and for good reason since he’s just $5,700.
The real leverage play in this game is Myles Gaskin, who is far too cheap on both sites (DK: $5,000; FD: $5,400). Gaskin could get annoyingly vultured by Jordan Howard near the goal-line, but it’s pretty clear Miami is content using Gaskin as a bell-cow back. His snap rate has increased in every game so far this year (63% > 65% > 75%) and Gaskin can be stacked with Fitzpatrick because of his usage in the passing game. Gaskin and Alvin Kamara are the only two backs to have four or more receptions in every game so far.
Vikings vs. Texans
With Kamara and Zeke going off as massive chalk, Dalvin Cook is projected to see just 10-15% ownership on FanDuel and DraftKings. Is that a mistake? Sure, the Vikings are underdogs in this game, but only by 3.5 points. The matchup couldn’t possibly be any better for Cook against this Texans front-seven that has gotten shredded by Clyde Edwards-Helaire (25/138/1) in Week 1, Ravens RBs (21/176/1), and James Conner (18/109/1) to start this season. Cook possesses tournament-winning upside at low ownership.
Some final thoughts…
Proctor mentioned on the livestream that Keenan Allen is going overlooked this week with Mike Williams (hamstring) out. The volume should certainly be there. With Justin Herbert under center over the last two weeks, Allen has seen a monster 37% of the Chargers targets and 45% of their air yards.
For all the same reasons as Allen, Mike Evans is also a fantastic tournament play in that game. Evans saw 10 targets back in Week 2 when Chris Godwin sat out as HC Bruce Arians moved him into the slot more to get mismatches. When Godwin missed two weeks ago, Evans ran 47% of his routes from the slot according to PFF and the Chargers will be without their slot CB Chris Harris Jr.
With DeAndre Hopkins (ankle) a true game-time decision and Kenyan Drake highly owned, I think we’ll see Kyler Murray go off at his lowest ownership of the season. Murray is projected for just 5-10% ownership on both sites and is priced in no man’s land on DraftKings sandwiched between Russell Wilson, Dak Prescott, and Deshaun Watson.