My first few seasons playing DFS, I got crushed. Lineup after lineup, slate after slate, I just couldn’t do anything right. I was hemorrhaging my hard-earned money, and I really didn’t have much to spare. Just like those late-night infomercials, I had to find a better way!
I was making far too many mistakes to list them all here, but what I really needed then was a guiding hand, a voice (or an article perhaps?) that could, at the very least, help me understand who the best plays were, and more importantly — why?
This is that article.
Once I found FantasyPoints, and this article, everything changed. With a deeper understanding of which players are values (and why) I was able to make great strides in my own DFS play. And now, I’m writing this article.
Derrick Henry, RB, Tennessee Titans (AT NYJ)
DK: +$686, 3.08 / FD: 2.36X
The argument for Derrick Henry as the no-brainer RB1 of the week is simple: he’s playing the Jets. The Titans are 6.5-point favorites, and, over the last three seasons, Henry has averaged an astounding 26.3 DraftKings FPG and 23.3 Fanduel FPG in the 11 games the Titans were favored by 4.0 or more points. If extrapolated over a full season, both of those numbers would have led all running backs last year. And Henry’s ceiling in these games is just absurd, as he’s eclipsed 39.0 DraftKings points four(!) different times (36%). Henry leads all running backs in carries with 82. That's 29 more than the next-closest slate-eligible RB. He ranks 12th in receptions and 8th in receiving yards, with 2 and 43 more than Alvin Kamara. He averages 32.0 FPG over the team’s last seven wins.
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. And AJ Brown and Julio Jones are both out, adding a significant boost to Henry’s already league-leading rushing expectation. He’s the definition of a lock-button play in every format.
Aaron Jones, RB, Green Bay Packers (VS. PIT)
FD: +$712, 2.04X
Jones is a favorite of the Supermodel this week, and that’s hardly surprising given Jones has averaged 21.1 Fanduel FPG when playing at home with a team implied total of over 25.5 over the last three seasons (13 instances). 21.1 Fanduel FPG would’ve ranked 3rd among all RBs last season, yet Jones is just the RB7 by salary. Jones is also 2nd among all players in opportunities inside the 10 yard-line, averaging 3.0 per game. Jones has arguably the best ceiling of any RB, as he’s been responsible for 4 of the top 12 highest scoring RB fantasy performances since 2019. Only two other players (Alvin Kamara and Christian McCaffrey) show up in the top 12 more than once, and combined, Kamara and McCaffrey have the same number of top 12 performances (4) as Jones.
Similar to Derrick Henry, Jones can single handedly put 1st place out of reach (in tournaments) with a monster performance. He’s certainly a mispriced value and a strong play, but not quite one I can put my full faith in as this matchup is tough and he’s currently dealing with an ankle injury that’s left him questionable (although he’s expected to play).
Jonathan Taylor, RB, Indianapolis Colts (AT MIA)
DK: +$171, 2.48X / FD: +$788, 2.37X
Taylor’s start to season has been sub-par to say the least, as he’s averaged just 10.7 FPG (RB31). Granted, he’s been seeing RB1 volume, ranking 8th among all RBs in XFP per game (18.3), and as was noted in the Week 4 XFP Report is the “No. 2 positive regression candidate on the season” due to his massive discrepancy (-7.6) between expected and actual fantasy production.
Taylor is leading the league in expected touchdowns (3.9 total) but hasn’t scored, creating the biggest gap between actual and expected TDs of any player. And since we know that touchdown efficiency is more of a function of luck than skill, Taylor’s bound to turn more of his league leading 2.3 touches per game inside the 5 yard-line into TDs. In fact, if Taylor was perfectly average in touchdown efficiency, he would be RB6 (by FPG), rather than RB31 where he currently stands. Not to Mention Marlon Mack will be inactive again in Week 4 (as the Colts look for trade partners), which fully secures Taylor’s role as Indy’s early down workhorse.
The reasons behind playing Taylor this week are as straightforward as they come, he’s seeing top-8 volume, but is the RB10 (by salary) on DraftKings and the RB17 on Fanduel. And he’s facing a Dolphins run defense that’s allowed 136.0 rush yards per game to opposing offenses (6th-worst) this year. He’s an ideal tournament play on DraftKings at what should be low-to-moderate ownership, and a top-3 RB value on Fanduel worthy of cash game consideration.
Davante Adams, WR, Green Bay Packers (VS. PIT)
DK: +$874, 2.16X / FD: +$1017, 2.11X
Adams hasn’t been this cheap on DraftKings since Week 7 of last year, and he hasn’t been this cheap on Fanduel since Week 1 of last year. And how has he performed since then? Only on par with the greatest of all time. Since Week 7 of 2020, Adams has averaged 25.7 FPG, a mark that would rank 5th-best all time over a full season, just behind 1995 Jerry Rice, and better than any fantasy season we’ve seen from a WR over the last 25 years. Yet, Adams is the WR2 on DraftKings (by salary) and the WR3 on Fanduel, despite putting together one of the greatest fantasy stretches ever by a WR.
Week 4 introduces a matchup against a Steelers’ defense that’s given up the 6th-most FPG to opposing WRs (29.3), so Adams shouldn’t have much difficulty finding ways to get open. The Packer’s also have the slate’s 7th-highest implied team total (26.0), and Adams has averaged 23.3 DraftKings FPG and 18.5 Fanduel FPG over the last four seasons when the Packers team total is 25.0 or more (31 instances). In that 31 game sample, Adams has surpassed double-digit DraftKings points 94% of the time, and double-digit Fanduel points 80% of the time. That’s as good of a floor as we can ask for, and Adams ceiling deserves some respect as well, given that he’s surpassed 30.0 fantasy points in 7 games since 2019, the most of any WR. He’s an outstanding play on both sites, and is absolutely worth lock-button consideration on Fanduel.
Robert Woods, WR, Los Angeles Rams (VS. ARI)
DK: +$257, 2.15X / FD: +$261, 1.84X
Woods hasn’t gotten off the start tha fantasy managers hoped he would’ve to start the season, averaging just 10.4 FPG (WR52). Though his volume has been at least a little better than his production implies, averaging 14.0 XFP per game (WR31). With teammate Cooper Kupp looking like a league-winner, the fantasy community seems to have forgotten about Woods, who is still the WR2 on one of the best offenses in football. More importantly, he’s playing in the best scoring environment of the week (55.0 total), and the Rams have the 3rd-highest implied point total of the slate (29.75). Throughout his Rams’ tenure, Woods has averaged an impressive 17.9 DraftKings FPG and 14.5 Fanduel FPG when LA’s team total is over 27.5. Those numbers would have ranked 11th and 7th among WRs last season, respectively, making Woods an obvious value in this game environment as the WR29 on DraftKings (by salary) and the WR23 on Fanduel.
Corey Davis, WR, New York Jets (VS. TEN)
DK: 2.26X / FD: +$461, 1.98X
After a monster performance in Week 1 (26.7 fantasy points on 7 targets), Davis hasn’t done much. Though he did see 10 targets last week. But, and as bad as the Jets have been, I’m fairly bullish this week. Zach Wilson has been under pressure on 46.7% of his dropbacks (2nd-most), but this week’s matchup looks excellent in that regard, as the Titans rank 6th-worst in PFF pass rush grade. And Tennessee has surrendered the 3rd-most FPG to opposing WRs (50.1), including four performances of 21.0 fantasy points or more. With Elijah Moore unlikely to play (concussion), and thus leaving behind 6.7 targets per game, we like Davis this week as a high-end WR3 priced like a WR4. (from Scott Barrett in Start/Sit)
Jaylen Waddle, WR, Miami Dolphins (VS. IND)
DK: 2.33X / +$467, 2.11X
Waddle ranks 30th among WRs in route share (87%), 29th in XFP per game (14.3), and 31st in target share (20.8%), but is the WR41 on DraftKings (by salary) and the WR48 on Fanduel. His 9.0 targets per game is highly encouraging (WR17), but his 39.0 air yards per game (WR87) is simply pitiful, especially given the volume he’s seeing. Among the 73 WRs with 10 or more targets, Waddle’s 3.7 ADoT is the 2nd-lowest, bested only by Rondale Moore’s mark of 2.7.
So what do we make of Waddle? Well, his lack of downfield routes and targets is certainly a concern, and, at least on paper, harms his game-to-game ceiling. But he’s getting peppered with short targets, and has the elite athleticism necessary to turn short receptions into the big plays that win DFS tournaments. So I’m more willing to write off the ‘limited ceiling due to short routes’ complaints with Waddle than with players like Adam Humphries or Tyler Boyd, who just don’t possess the same game-breaking speed or dynamism.
Week 4 ushers in a matchup with Indianapolis, and while the total (42.5) doesn’t provide much optimism, this game ranked 4th-best in Graham Barfield’s pace and plays model, and Indianapolis is PFF’s 2nd-worst graded coverage unit (40.8 team coverage grade), so we are looking at a far better matchup and environment for Waddle than the Vegas total implies. With that said, the bottom line here is that Waddle’s role as a high-volume slot WR is simply more valuable than his current salary on both sites.
Darnell Mooney, WR, Chicago Bears (VS. DET)
DK: +$320, 2.51X / FD: +$256, 1.88X
The Chicago offense failed miserably last week, leading to nothing resembling a passable fantasy performance from any player in a Bears uniform, and Mooney was no exception, scoring just 1.9 fantasy points. Still, Mooney leads the team (and is 7th among all players) with a 96.3% route share, and has just one less target (19) than Allen Robinson. It’s looking more and more like Mooney is the 1B to Robinson’s 1A in this WR room. That’s great news for DFS, with Mooney clocking in as the WR66 on DraftKings in a much easier matchup against Detroit. Currently WR47 in our projections, Mooney’s an obvious projected points per dollar value, and while I’m hesitant to recommend him in cash due the Bears’ anemic offensive performance last week, he’s an ideal tournament play at what should be minuscule ownership.
Anthony Miller, WR, Houston Texans (AT BUF)
Last week Anthony Miller ran a route on 71% of the team’s dropbacks, earning 8 targets (21%) and 73 air yards. At just $3,700 on DraftKings this week, he’s at least a little interesting. Per my “sources”, Houston (and Chicago) always believed in his talent. But he was traded to Houston, and was inactive Weeks 1 and 2, due to off the field issues (e.g. unprofessionalism, continually showing up late for meetings). He gets a tough on-paper matchup, but, one that projects for about four quarters of garbage-time, as 16.5-point underdogs against the Bills. And though the matchup is tough, it’s much tougher for Brandin Cooks who is likely to draw Tre’Davious White in shadow coverage. Look for Miller to pick up some extra targets at Cooks’ expense. However, if Danny Amendola is active, you should probably pivot, but that seems more unlikely than not at the moment. (SB)
Evan Engram, TE, New York Giants (AT NO)
DK: +$86, 2.33X
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 neither player has practiced yet this week. 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 ‘dust’ after a down year in 2020 (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 a cash game play as the TE23 on DraftKings, and a sneaky tournament option as the TE15 on Fanduel.
Will Dissly, TE, Seattle Seahawks (AT SF)
DK: 1.79X / FD: 1.06X
Gerald Everett is currently on the reserve/COVID-19 list, and looks likely to miss Sunday’s matchup with the 49ers.
Enter Will Dissly.
Dissly should be headed for nearly 100% of Everett’s role, especially given that the only other TE on Seattle’s roster is Tyler Mabry — an undrafted 2nd-year player who’s only ever played 7 offensive snaps. In his first three games, Everett was the TE11 by route share (70%) and TE19 by FPG (7.2). Dissly isn’t the receiving talent Everett is, but if that 70% route share belongs to Dissly in Week 4, then he’s an obvious steal as the TE33 on DraftKings and the TE36 on Fanduel (by salary). Dissly’s your best bet if Everett is out and you are looking to punt TE.