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.
Patrick Mahomes, QB, Kansas City Chiefs (AT TEN)
DK: 3.65X / FD: 3.15X
One of the trickiest questions of the Week 7 slate is which of the high-total games to stack for GPPs. And thus, which QB to play.
You can make a compelling case for Matthew Stafford and Kyler Murray whose teams are actually projected to out-score the Chiefs. But, to us, the decision is obvious. Just play Mahomes, who is projected at 3.65X value on DraftKings and 3.15X value on FanDuel, as the clear QB1 of the week.
Mahomes has one thing going for him that Stafford and Murray (and Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers) do not, ideal gamescript. Kansas City is favored by only 4.5-points, implying a pass-heavy shootout. But the Rams (-16.0), Cardinals (-17.5), Buccaneers (-13.0), and Packers (-7.5), are all projected to win in positive blowouts, implying run-heavy gamescripts. Throughout his career, Mahomes averages 31.8 DK FPG and 29.7 FPG in the 9 games his opponent was implied to score 26.0 or more points (Tennessee is at 26.5 this week).
Mahomes is averaging 27.0 FPG this season, which +1.1 more than the next-closest slate-eligible QB (Tom Brady), and ranks as the 5th-best start to a season (first six weeks) by any QB in any season all-time. He’s hit at least 21.0 fantasy points in every game thus far, and at least 20.0 DK fantasy points in each of his last 14 games. Oh, and he’s rushing more now, which raises both his ceiling and floor.
QB Leaders by Rushing Yards (Last 4 Weeks)— Scott Barrett (@ScottBarrettDFB) October 21, 2021
1. Lamar Jackson, 199
2. Patrick Mahomes, 163 👀
3. Jalen Hurts, 156
4. Josh Allen, 135
5. Trey Lance, 131 👀 (1.5 games)
6. Sam Darnold, 104
6. Taylor Heinicke, 104
12. Kyler Murray, 65 👀
In addition to good gamescript, Mahomes’ on paper matchup is flawless. The Titans rank 3rd-worst in schedule-adjusted FPG (+4.0). So, based on his FPG average (27.0), and his schedule to start the year (-2.3, 3rd-toughest), we should be expecting 33.0 fantasy points this week. (SB)
Derrick Henry, RB, Tennessee Titans (VS. KC)
DK: 3.04X / FD: 2.27X
Since Week 14 of 2018...— Scott Barrett (@ScottBarrettDFB) October 19, 2021
Rushing Yards Leaders
1 Derrick Henry (4,934)
2 Nick Chubb (3,384)
3 Dalvin Cook (3,360)
4 Ezekiel Elliott (3,142)
5 Lamar Jackson (2,897)
Rushing TD Leaders
1 Derrick Henry (50)
2 Dalvin Cook (33)
3 Aaron Jones (28)
4 Nick Chubb / Alvin Kamara (25)
Henry might be the greatest RB of all-time. And even if he’s not, he’s definitely putting together one of the greatest RB seasons of all-time. Henry is currently on pace to average the 2nd-most touches per game all-time (29.7), the 6th-most rushing YPG all-time (130.5), and to tie with LaDainian Tomlinson for the most rushing TDs in a season all-time (28). Henry has 587 yards after contact this season, more yards than the No. 2 rusher on the year has total (Nick Chubb, 523). Henry’s current pace of 1,663 yards after contact this season would be the most all-time (data only dates back to 2006) and, incredibly, would be the 42nd best standalone rushing season ever, just ahead of Tiki Barber’s 2006 season (1,662 rushing yards) and just behind 1997 Jerome Bettis (1,665). And, most importantly for this article: Henry’s on pace to have the 6th-best fantasy season all-time (28.4 FPG).
Now Henry gets the Chiefs in Week 7 — a team that's given up 133.2 rushing YPG (6th-worst), 5.2 YPC (3rd-worst) and has allowed +2.9 schedule adjusted FPG to opposing RBs (11th-worst). This game also has the highest total we’ve seen this season, at 57.5. Henry has absolutely crushed high-total games over the last two seasons, averaging 26.0 DraftKings FPG and 23.8 Fanduel FPG in games where the total is higher than 51.0 (12 instances). And his ceiling in these games is just insane, as he’s scored over 39.0 DraftKings points an incredible five times. There’s some reasonable concern that Henry could get gamescripted out of this game, if the Kansas City takes a big lead. Personally, I’m not viewing this as much of an issue. Henry has 98 carries (20 more than the next closest player) when his team is tied or trailing. And when the Titans have been trailing in the 2nd-half of games this season, they’ve still given Henry 48 carries (18 more than the next closest player). He’s gamescript agnostic at this point, at least that’s how the Titans’ coaches are treating him.
He’s an outstanding play on both sites in all formats, and offers arguably the best touch-floor we’ve ever seen from an RB. Don’t overthink this, just play the Tractorcito.
Darrell Henderson, RB, Los Angeles Rams (VS. DET)
DK: +$1469, 2.60X / FD: 2.14X
Darrell Henderson (Week 6)— Scott Barrett (@ScottBarrettDFB) October 17, 2021
- 21 of 30 carries
- 3 of 3 targets
- 5 of 5 i10 snaps
- 54 of 66 snaps (82%)
Conclusion: still a bell cow https://t.co/GESMEqeZwi
Henderson is still a bell cow, even with a fully acclimated Sony Michel in the fold. And Week 7 brings Henderson arguably the best matchup any bell cow could have: Detroit. The Lions are 5th-worst in Football Outsiders rush DVOA (-2.9%), 9th-worst in PFF run defense grades (51.7), and by far the worst in schedule adjusted FPG allowed to opposing RBs (+11.6, 4.3 more than the No. 2 team). And the Rams are favored by 16.5-points, suggesting one of the most run-heavy gamescripts we have seen this season. Needless to say, Henderson is about to get fed. He’s a solid value in all formats, especially on DraftKings where his $6600 price tag would have made him the RB11 last week.
D’Andre Swift, RB, Detroit Lions (AT LAR)
DK: +$1686, 2,38X / FD: 2.01X
Despite being stuck in a 65/35 committee alongside Jamaal Williams, Swift’s volume has been phenomenal. He’s essentially the team’s WR1, ranking 2nd among all RBs and essentially tied with T.J. Hockenson for the team-high in receiving yardage share (19.7%). He ranks 10th in FPG (18.2) and 4th in XFP per game (18.8). But he saw his best usage of the season last week, with the backfield tipping closer to 80/20 in his favor. He hit a new season-high in snap share with 77%, up from 66%. And he hit a new season-high in backfield XFP% with 80%, up from 62%. If he saw an 80% share of the backfield XFP every week, he’d be averaging 23.5 XFP per game, which would lead all players at all positions.
Swift’s on-paper matchup against the Rams is just about perfectly neutral by every metric that matters to me, but he does get an ideal gamescript, as 16.0-point underdogs. He’s a great play on both sites, but an outstanding play on DraftKings as the RB11 (by salary). (SB)
Darrel Williams, RB, Kansas City Chiefs (AT TEN)
DK: +$671, 2.66X / FD: 2.30X
Williams isn’t just a must-start, he’s our No. 7-overall RB on DraftKings and No. 6 RB on Fanduel this the week.
He should be viewed no differently for fantasy than as a richer man’s Clyde Edwards-Helaire. Essentially, CEH if CEH were allowed to score touchdowns. (Williams is the only Chiefs player with a carry inside the five-yard-line, and he has 5 such carries.) Over the past two weeks (minus CEH), Williams has handled 26 of 30 carries and 9 of 13 targets out of the backfield (73% XFP%) while playing on 56% of the team’s snaps. Over this span, he’s averaged 15.6 carries, 5.5 targets, 19.8 XFP (RB4), and 19.2 fantasy points per four quarters (RB6).
Gamescript is strong (favored by 5.5-points), and the matchup is neutral-at-worst, against a Titans defense that ranks 7th-worst in YPC allowed (4.62) and middle-of-the-pack in schedule-adjusted FPG allowed (-0.3). (SB)
Davante Adams, WR, Green Bay Packers (VS. WAS)
DK: 2.94X / FD: 2.58X
Adams is the WR1 this week for great reason: he’s facing a Washington secondary that’s been torched by just about every WR they’ve faced - giving up more FPG (29.0), targets (91), and TDs (7) to outside WRs than any other team in the NFL. And they rank 5th-worst in Football Outsiders pass defense DVOA (26.8%) and 2nd-worst in PFF coverage grades (36.0 team coverage grade). Any way we slice it, this is an amazing matchup.
And Adams is an amazing player. Since the start of last season, Adams has averaged 24.3 FPG, which would constitute the 9th-best fantasy WR season all-time. This year, Adams leads all WRs in target share (36.5%), and ranks 4th in FPG (20.8) and XFP (20.3). Among the WRs with more than 25 targets, Adams ranks 1st in YPRR (3.48) and 1st in PFF receiving grade (92.4). We simply can’t afford to underestimate a talent like Adams in a matchup this good, and that’s why we have him projected as far and away the top WR value on both DFS sites. Adams can be safely played in cash, and should only be faded in tournaments by those worried about astronomical ownership.
Tyreek Hill, WR, Kansas City Chiefs (AT TEN)
DK: 2.71X / FD: 2.39X
Tyreek Hill is on pace for career high marks in targets per game (10.5), red zone targets per game (3.7), XFP per game (19.5), and FPG (23.0). He’s seeing the best volume of his career. For a player who has always historically outperformed their expectation, that’s absolutely huge. Hill, a consistent WR1 despite seeing WR2-levels of volume, is now seeing a workload on pace with that of Davante Adams (11.0 targets per game). This is how an overall WR1 season, and potentially the best fantasy season of Hill’s career, comes to fruition.
And Week 7 brings in a dream matchup against a Tennessee secondary that’s allowed the most schedule-adjusted FPG to opposing WRs (+11.3), and ranks 6th-worst in Football Outsiders pass defense DVOA (23.1%). Perhaps, more importantly, the Titans are giving up a league-high 33.9 FPG to opposing WRs on deep passes (1.96X the league-average rate), while also ranking worst in fantasy points per target allowed on deep passes (4.23). And, not to mention this is the best scoring environment of the slate, with a 57.5 Over/Under (+7.5 more than next-closest). In his career, Hill has played in 7 games with a total higher than 56.0, and in those games he’s averaged 31.5 DraftKings FPG and 25.8 Fanduel FPG. If sustained for an entire season, those numbers would constitute the greatest WR fantasy season of all-time. This is about the best possible situation you could drum up for arguably the most explosive WR in NFL history. Hill’s a strong play in all formats, but can be considered a potential lock-button play in tournaments given his unmatched upside.
Calvin Ridley, WR, Atlanta Falcons (AT MIA)
DK: +$580, 2.48X / FD: +$439, 2.25X
Ridley hasn’t been this cheap on DraftKings since Week 1 of the 2020 season. And he’s $850 cheaper than his average Fanduel salary over the last 14 weeks. The reason for this epic salary dip is unfortunately obvious: Ridley is massively underperforming his expectation. Ridley currently ranks 3rd among WRs in XFP per game (20.5), 5th in air yards per game (132.5), and tied for 5th in red zone targets per game (1.8), yet just 26th in FPG (14.6).
Is Ridley, the 26 year-old who was favored to lead the league in receiving yards preseason, and the player who was last season’s WR4 averaging 18.8 FPG, completely dust? No, I think he’s just a major positive regression candidate, and that this could be the peak ‘buy-low’ opportunity on Ridley this season. The chances his price continues to dip on this kind of volume is just astronomically low.
Week 7 brings a plus matchup, with the Miami secondary giving up +5.8 schedule-adjusted FPG to opposing WRs (5th-most) and ranking 7th-worst in Football Outsiders pass defense DVOA (22.5%). Ridley is seeing top-5 usage and has a top-5 matchup this week, yet he’s priced as the WR7 (by salary) on DraftKings and the WR12 on Fanduel. Ridley is a great play in all formats (especially on Fanduel), but I’m most interested in playing him in large-field tournaments on DraftKings, where I’m expecting somewhere in the realm of 10% ownership - clearly far too low given the circumstances.
Chris Godwin, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (VS. CHI)
DK: +$831, 2.01X / FD: +$622, 1.77X
Godwin is the cheapest he’s been on DraftKings since Week 11 of last season, and the cheapest he’s been on Fanduel since Week 17 of 2018 (!). The value here is obvious: Godwin plays on the best offense in football, and currently ranks 2nd on the team in targets (43), 1st in routes (264), 1st in red zone targets (17, 5 more than the next closest player), and tied for 1st in end zone targets (4). After averaging 16.7 FPG in his first 14 regular season games with Tom Brady, Godwin’s DFS salaries took a dive after he averaged 10.6 FPG over the last three weeks. Against a Bears’ secondary that’s PFF’s 3rd-worst graded coverage unit and has given up 18.3 FPG to opposing slot WRs (3rd-most), I’m ready to #BuyTheDip. Especially on Fanduel, Godwin may not be this cheap again this season. He’s the top value among the Bucs' WRs this week, and is an outstanding tournament play on both sites with the potential to be cash viable on Fanduel.
Amon-Ra St. Brown, WR, Detroit Lions (At LAR)
DK: +$557, 2.05X / FD: 1.56X
Over the last three weeks, St. Brown ranks 20th among WRs in total targets with 23 (8, 8, 7), 36th in FPG (12.0) and 23rd in XFP per game (13.9). Yet, he ranks as the WR43 (by salary) on DraftKings and Fanduel. And this is ahead of a matchup where St. Brown figures to have arguably his highest-volume outing of the season with the Lions as massive 16.5-point underdogs. The Rams have allowed 13.8 FPG to opposing slot WRs (14th), and rank 11th in PFF coverage grade, so we are looking at a neutral or maybe slightly below average matchup here. Regardless, the team-leading 22% target share that St. Brown has earned over the last three weeks makes him a stellar play should that volume continue, as this could easily be the Lions’ most pass heavy game this season.
Rashod Bateman, WR, Baltimore Ravens (VS. CIN)
DK: +$1034, 2.46X / FD: 1.58X
With Baltimore throwing the ball at a 7% higher rate than in 2019 and 2020, there may be room for a third fantasy-relevant pass catching option in this offense. Enter Rashod Bateman. In his first NFL game this past week, Bateman tied with Mark Andrews for the team lead in targets (6), ran the 3rd-most routes on the team (22), and finished 3rd on the team in receiving yards (29). Granted, this did come with Sammy Watkins (hamstring), who appears unlikely to play again in Week 7, out of the lineup. Still, given the draft capital the Ravens have invested, and that Bateman only has one game under his belt, it’s reasonable to assume his usage has nowhere to go from here but up. Should Watkins sit out Week 7, Bateman’s median projection (10.6, WR38) makes him a clear value on DraftKings as the WR63 (by salary), and he’s still a value, albeit much less of one, on Fanduel as the WR46 by salary and the WR42 in our projections. It’s worth noting that his target volume and ceiling will likely be limited with the Ravens still being one of the most run-heavy teams in the NFL. I’ll have some exposure on DraftKings given the stellar projected points per dollar value, but certainly won’t be going overboard, especially in GPPs, given the questionable ceiling.
Nick Westbrook-Ikhine, WR, Tennessee Titans (VS. KC)
DK: 2.58X / FD: 1.63X
Julio Jones (hamstring) just logged a limited Thursday practice while A.J. Brown was absent due to an illness. Potentially just as important, Chester Rogers, the only other Titans WR to regularly play in the slot, also missed Thursday’s practice due to a groin injury. Nick Westbrook-Ikhine could be the Titans’ No. 1 WR heading into Week 7, or, at the very least, the full time starting slot for Tennessee (assuming Rogers is out, which looks likely) in a game with the highest total of the season (57.5) as a 4-point underdog.
This is on the tougher end of slot matchups with Kansas City only allowing 9.0 FPG to opposing slot WRs (3rd-best), but that’s something I’m more than willing to overlook if the trio of Jones, Brown, and Rogers are all ruled out, as Westbrook-Ikhine’s target expectation could near double-digits in the best scoring environment of the season. Not to mention in Week 4, with both Jones and Brown out (but Rogers still playing), Westbrook-Ikhine played 52 of 81 snaps outside, and saw 8 targets for 17.5 XFP. So that poor slot matchup may end being far less relevant than it appears on the surface. And he’s only $300 more than the minimum price on DraftKings ($3,300), and $700 more than the minimum price on Fanduel ($5,200). He’s just far too cheap given the circumstances. Depending on the health of Jones, Brown, and Rogers, Westbrook-Ikhine could absolutely end up as a lock-button play, and an easy stack with Mahomes. Just be sure to keep an eye on the injury report.
Dante Pettis, WR, New York Giants (VS. CAR)
Dante Pettis may be close to the last man standing in this group of Giants’ pass catchers. Sterling Shepard (hamstring) and Darius Slayton (hamstring) were listed as limited participants in Thursday practice, while Evan Engram (calf), Kadarius Toney (ankle), and Kenny Golladay (knee) were all absent from practice. Last week, with Engram and Shepard as the only other two healthy starters after Toney went down with his ankle injury, Pettis tied with Engram for 2nd on the team in routes (42) and led the team in targets (11) scoring 9.8 FPG on 14.3 XFP. And for Week 7, Pettis is still the stone minimum price ($3,000) on DraftKings. Sterling Shepard will likely be pretty chalky if he plays, but Pettis’ matchup is much better. The Panthers are a premier reverse-slot funnel, giving up the 2nd-most FPG to opposing outside WRs (28.0), but the 5th-fewest FPG to opposing slot WRs (10.1). This is obviously dependent on how the Giants injuries shake out, but the opportunity to grab a potentially full-time starting WR at the minimum price on DK can’t go overlooked, and could present arguably the best value of the slate, especially when his team is expected to face negative gamescript as 3.0-point underdogs.
T.J Hockenson, TE, Detroit Lions (AT LAR)
DK: 1.92X / FD: 1.58X
Hockenson is seeing mid-range TE1 usage, ranking 6th among TEs in XFP per game (12.7), 3rd in route share (85%), 3rd in targets per game (8.0), and 7th in air yards per game (54.8). He’s the TE5 (by salary) on DraftKings and the TE4 on Fanduel, so he’s appropriately priced, right? Well, not quite, given he leads the Lions in target share (19.0%) and they are 15.5-point underdogs - one of the largest spreads of the season. Detroit is going to be forced to throw as much as any team in Week 7, and Hockenson stands to be one of the primary beneficiaries.
In the four games this season that Jared Goff has attempted more than 36 passes, Hockenson averaged 9.5 targets per game, 16.6 XFP per game, and 17.4 FPG. Among TEs, those numbers would rank 1st, 1st, and 3rd this season. And the Rams are a plus matchup for opposing TEs, allowing +3.8 schedule-adjusted FPG this year (7th-worst). With elite usage in pass heavy games and a decent matchup, Hockenson is one of the week’s top projected values and an excellent tournament play on both sites.
Ricky Seals-Jones, TE, Washington Football Team (AT GB)
DK: +$646, 2.24X / FD: 1.54X
Ricky Seals-Jones last two weeks:— Adam Levitan (@adamlevitan) October 18, 2021
* 141-of-142 snaps
* Slot or wide 88 times
* 83 routes on 93 Heinicke dropbacks
* 15 targets for 18.7% share
* 9-99-1 result
RSJ has seen some of the best usage of any TE over the last two weeks. In Weeks 5 and 6, Seals-Jones ranked 6th among TEs in targets (13), 3rd in routes (78), 2nd in red zone targets (4), tied with Mark Andrews for 1st in end zone targets (3), and 9th in FPG (12.5).
The Washington Football Team has trailed on a league-high 84% of its offensive snaps this season.— Mike Clay (@MikeClayNFL) October 18, 2021
Seal-Jones having an 89% route share and playing on a team that’s managed to trail as much as Washington has sets him up as a low- to mid-tier TE1 until Logan Thomas returns from IR. And we can’t forget that Thomas wasn’t cheaper than $4,600 on DraftKings or $5,500 on Fanduel in any healthy game he played this season. Seals-Jones is still underpriced. With Washington as 9.5-point underdogs to Green Bay, a still-underpriced RSJ gets to see more of the negative gamescript that’s helped earn him the 3rd-most routes of any TE over the last two weeks. He’s a solid tournament play on Fanduel, but is an outstanding play yet again on DraftKings, where he should be priced about $800 higher.