DFS Early Look: Week 4

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DFS Early Look: Week 4

Another week of NFL football is in the books, which means that more NFL football is right around the corner. With both Fanduel and DraftKings having released their Week 4 DFS pricing, it’s time to look ahead to next Sunday’s DFS slate.

Here are the most glaring values I’ve found after analyzing pricing.

Kyler Murray, QB, Arizona Cardinals (AT LAR)

DraftKings: $7,800 (QB3) | Fanduel: $8,200 (QB3)

Prior to this Sunday, Kyler had averaged 30.6 FPG in his last 11 healthy games (suffered a Week 10 shoulder injury last year), and hadn’t scored less than 21.7 in any individual start during that stretch. Well, until this week, when Kyler had his worst healthy game of the last two seasons, scoring 18.7 fantasy points. This was also the first time (at full health) that Kyler failed to rush for more than 20 yards, or throw a touchdown, snapping an 11-game streak for both metrics.

That performance, and a perceived difficult matchup against this Rams’ defense resulted in a price dip for Kyler, who went from QB1 on both sites to QB3, despite playing in the highest total game of the Week 4 main slate (54.5) against the Rams. Throughout his career, Kyler has averaged a completely insane 29.6 DraftKings FPG and 28.7 Fanduel FPG in games with an over/under above 52.5-points. Both of those numbers would’ve ranked first over a full season last year. And even if we include last week’s down game, he still averages 26.6 FPG over his last 12 healthy games, a mark that would rank 3rd-best all time if sustained over a full season. He’s simply a steal as the QB3 in the slate’s best scoring environment.

Derrick Henry, RB, Tennessee Titans (AT NYJ)

DraftKings: $8,800 (RB1) | Fanduel: $10,200 (RB1)

Derrick Henry is the RB1 this week for good reason: he’s playing the Jets, as a 9-point favorite. Over the last three seasons, Henry’s averaged 26.3 DraftKings FPG and 23.3 Fanduel FPG in the 11 games he’s played when the Titans are favored by 4.0 or more points. If extrapolated over a full season, both of those numbers would’ve ranked 1st last year. And Henry’s ceiling in these games is just incredible, as he’s scored more than 39.0 DraftKings points four (!) times (an absurd 36% of instances).

He’s one of maybe half a dozen NFL players who can completely break a DFS main slate, and he’s playing in an ideal game environment. Unless ownership gets ridiculous here (which it could) this is likely too good of a situation to fade entirely, or even at all.

Saquon Barkley RB, New York Giants (AT NO)

DraftKings: $6,700 (RB8) | Fanduel: $6,900 (RB13)

Saquon Barkley saw a very Saquon Barkley-esque workload in his first game removed from the injury report since tearing his ACL (Week 2 of the 2020 season), ranking 2nd among all Week 3 RBs in snap share (86%) and earning 16 carries and 7 targets, finishing the day with 21.4 fantasy points. (For perspective there were only 14 instances of a RB reaching at least 16 carries and 7 targets in a single game last season.) The efficiency wasn’t great (3.2 YPC) but Barkley is back, at least from a usage perspective. Last season, just six RBs averaged 20 or more touches a game, and none of those players averaged more than 4.2 targets per game. A fully healthy Barkley should surpass both marks, essentially making him the closest thing we have to Christian McCaffrey.

Maybe Barkley’s efficiency stays #Bad, but even if he is 2019 Todd Gurley-levels of backfield incompetence (which I don’t think he will be), the Giants have far too much invested in Barkley to not give him the CMC-lite treatment. A top-3 workload, at Barkley’s price tags of RB8 and RB13, is always going to be a value in DFS, regardless of player efficiency.

Chuba Hubbard, RB, Carolina Panthers (AT DAL)

DraftKings: $5,900 (RB17) | Fanduel: $6,300 (RB19)

Hubbard is sure to be a crucial piece of the Week 4 DFS puzzle as the fill-in RB for Christian McCaffrey, who suffered a hamstring strain this past Thursday night. After CMC’s departure, Hubbard played on 40 of 51 (78%) remaining snaps, while Royce Freeman played the other 11 (22%) — resulting in 11 carries and 5 targets for Hubbard, and another 6 touches for Freeman. When in the game, Hubbard also encouragingly ran a route on 91% of Carolina’s pass attempts, and while I’d expect that to regress, it’s certainly reasonable to expect Hubbard to rank top-10 in RB route share these next few weeks given Freeman’s pitiful career 0.86 YPRR.

Going forward, the bull-case argument for Hubbard (which I’m more partial to) is that he’ll essentially be 60-80% of CMC until McCaffrey returns. Over his last 20 healthy games, McCaffrey has averaged 28.8 FPG, so 60-80% for Hubbard would lead to between 17.3-23.0 FPG. Last year, that would’ve ranked in the range of RB7-RB3, just ahead of Jonathan Taylor and just behind Dalvin Cook. That obviously presents incredible value in DFS this week, which should make Hubbard one of the the chalkiest players of Week 4.

While I hate to bring everyone down, the bear-case argument is also worth exploration here. Royce Freeman, who didn’t join the team until September 2, could become more familiar with the offense, and carve himself out a significant (30-50% snap share) role. Hubbard could be tremendously inefficient, which would harm both his FPG and likely his playing time. The Panthers have also explored signing pass-catching specialist Duke Johnson, who could surely cap Hubbard’s PPR value and add more competition for backfield snaps. Those are all very real possibilities, but for Week 4, I’m viewing Hubbard the same way I did Saquon Barkley last week: he might be #bad, but there isn’t another player on the slate projected for more touches per dollar of salary.

Calvin Ridley, WR, Atlanta Falcons (VS. WAS)

DraftKings: $7,000 (WR9) | Fanduel: $7,200 (WR13)

Ridley’s disappointed fantasy owners and DFS players alike this season, averaging just 14.5 FPG (WR27). The good news is that Ridley’s underperformance has nothing to do with a role reduction, as he’s still averaging 9.7 targets per game and has run a route on 96% of Matt Ryan’s dropbacks. For Week 4, Ridley faces a Washington defense that’s given up the 4th-most passing YPG to opposing offenses (307.0) and is PFF’s 4th-worst graded coverage unit (45.7 team coverage grade). And this game has the fourth-highest total (48.0) of the Week 4 main slate. It’s understandably difficult to go back to the well on a player who’s underperformed relative to expectations through the first three weeks, but with no real competition for targets within this Atlanta WR room, Ridley remains a top-8 fantasy WR, he just isn’t priced like it anymore. On Fanduel, specifically, Ridley will absolutely be in the conversation for cash game teams, as he’s exceeded 10.0 Fanduel points in 14 of his last 18 games.

Brandin Cooks, WR, Houston Texans (AT Buffalo)

DraftKings: $6,400 (WR16) | Fanduel: $6,900 (WR17)

Through three weeks, Brandin Cooks is tied with Davante Adams as the overall WR6 (20.6 FPG). And he ranks 2nd among all players in team target share (37.6%), just behind Adams. In the 7 games Cooks has played with the Texans absent Will Fuller, he’s averaged 21.7 FPG, 10.4 targets per game, and 107.6 receiving yards per game. Last year, those numbers would’ve ranked 3rd, 1st, and 1st among WRs over the full season.

For Week 4, Houston offers up the biggest spread of the season as 17-point underdogs in Buffalo. Cooks has proven that he will get fed targets no matter the situation, but with Houston this outmatched, it’s hard to dream of a better scenario for a player with a 30%+ target share. The passing volume will be plentiful, and that should make Cooks one of the highest owned players of the slate.

DeSean Jackson, WR, Los Angeles Rams (VS. ARI)

DraftKings: $3,800 (WR69)

D-Jax was the only Ram with an ADoT over 10.0 on Sunday, as his 4 total targets came an average of 24.3 yards downfield. Despite ranking fourth among LAR WRs in routes with just 16, Jackson led the team in receiving yards (120) on just 3 receptions. That’s the power of DeSean Jackson: incredible fantasy scores on well below-average usage.

And now the Rams play Arizona in the highest-total game of Week 4 (54.5). Jackson’s clearly only viable in tournaments as he carries massive risk (21% average snap share through 3 weeks), but this game environment, combined with Jackson’s skillset and price point, undoubtedly make him a fantastic tournament play Sunday. Ownership will be something to keep an eye on here, but there’s no way I’m entering the Week 4 main slate with 0% DeSean Jackson exposure — that would just feel like DFS suicide.

Evan Engram, TE, New York Giants (AT NO)

DraftKings: $3,000 (TE23) | Fanduel: $5,100 (TE15)

Engram ran a route on 71% of Daniel Jones’ Week 3 dropbacks, seeing 4 targets and catching 2 for 21 yards in his first game of the season. Crucially, both Darius Slayton and Sterling Shepard suffered injuries Sunday, and if they miss Week 4, Engram will have the inside track to becoming New York’s No. 2 pass catcher.

Absent both Shepard and Slayton, I still wouldn’t expect serious ownership for Engram, as many in the fantasy community have written him off as being ‘dust’ after a down year in 2020 that saw him average 8.9 FPG. FantasyPoints’ own injury expert Edwin Porras warned us last year, “Lisfranc injuries reduce NFL offensive players’ on-field production by an average of 21% in the first season following surgery. This production seemed to level off after the second year and returned to baseline.” Engram’s 2019 baseline was 13.7 FPG — a mark that made him the TE7 by FPG. If we assume Engram will land somewhere between his 2020 output (TE20 by FPG) and his 2019 output (TE7), with the potential for added usage should the Giants be missing Shepard and Slayton, then he profiles as an obvious value as the TE23 on DraftKings, and a sneaky tournament option as the TE15 on Fanduel.

Jake Tribbey is a recent college graduate and lifelong football fan obsessed with extracting every edge possible from NFL DFS, Best Ball, and player props/futures.

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