2023 Week 9 DFS Early Look

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2023 Week 9 DFS Early Look

Week 8 of the NFL regular season just wrapped up, and that means Week 9 is just around the corner. As my readers likely know, DFS is the best version of fantasy football, and since DraftKings and FanDuel have released their Week 9 prices, it’s time to track down the obvious values and best plays.

Here are the plays that jumped out to me for Week 9 DFS.

Gardner Minshew, QB, Indianapolis Colts (@ CAR)

DraftKings: $5,200 (QB16) | FanDuel: $6,500 (QB21)

This is an incredibly thin slate from both a QB and scoring perspective. There are only two games with a total over 43.0, and no implied team totals over 25.0. That means we can be more willing to get weird with our QBs (and stacks).

And it doesn’t get much weirder than the guy who spends his offseasons in an old prison van. Gardner Minshew is averaging 18.1 DraftKings FPG in the five games he’s thrown over 20 passes, and 19.9 DraftKings FPG in his four starts this season. Among slate-eligible QBs, those marks rank 7th- and 4th-best, respectively.

The Colts tout a top-5 implied team total (23.5) on this slate, and game (44.0) offers the 2nd-highest total of the slate. Sure, Carolina is a bottom-8 schedule-adjusted matchup for opposing passers – but we don’t have anything resembling a great QB play on this slate. Minshew pops as one of the top QB values on arguably the grossest slate of the season.

Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants (@ LV)

DraftKings: $7,900 (RB2) | FanDuel: $8,600 (RB2)

Barkley’s usage has been absurd since he returned from a high ankle sprain in Week 6. Over the last three weeks, he’s earned 84% of snaps and 22.6 XFP/G – marks that rank 1st and 2nd (by +3.8 XFP/G) among slate-eligible RBs.

That said, his viability in a top-6 schedule-adjusted matchup against Las Vegas will come down to QB health. Daniel Jones has been medically cleared for contact, and the game’s spread (New York +3.0) does suggest Jones will play. It’s difficult to roster any RB on an offense as bad as New York’s, but Barkley’s usage is the best it’s ever been. And if we assume Jones can start, the Giants' implied win probability here is 42%; Barkley averages 20.0 FPG in wins since the start of last year, and his usage over the last three weeks is 27% better than his usage in 2022.

If the Giants can manage offensive competency and steal a win in Vegas, Barkley should post a tournament-winning score.

Chuba Hubbard, RB, Carolina Panthers (VS. IND)

DraftKings: $5,000 (RB21) | FanDuel: $6,500 (RB16)

You wouldn’t think much of Hubbard’s Week 8 performance if you only saw his fantasy score (7.4 fantasy points). But his underlying usage was phenomenal. He easily led the backfield with a 66% snap share, and his 17.4 XFP was 76% of total backfield usage. That means we can call Hubbard Carolina’s bell cow until further notice.

This backfield isn’t worth a ton for fantasy purposes, averaging just 16.1 FPG (5th-worst). But Hubbard’s price and this game environment easily make up for it. This slate features almost no offensive firepower – this contest offers the slate’s 2nd-highest total. And how often do we get to roster a player who appears locked into 75% of backfield work at just $5,000? Hubbard is a screaming value this week.

AJ Brown, WR, Philadelphia Eagles (VS. DAL)

DraftKings: $8,600 (WR1) | FanDuel: $9,000 (WR1)

In the six games since Brown was caught yelling at Jalen Hurts on the sideline: Brown leads all players in receiving yards (831), targets (68), receptions (49), and FPG (27.0). He’s exceeded 125 receiving yards in all 6 games and has scored over 32.0 DraftKings points in half of those contests.

His usage and production have been incredible. So good, in fact, that Brown is now on pace to break Calvin Johnson’s single-season receiving yardage record. And if Brown were to sustain the 23.0 FPG he’s averaged over the entire year, his campaign would go down as a top-25 fantasy WR season all time.

If there’s one thing we know about players having all-time great fantasy WR seasons, it’s that they should be priced above $9,000 on DraftKings – especially on a relatively thin slate.

The Cowboys are a tough matchup for WRs, sure, but all-time great WRs are borderline matchup-proof. And that’s what we are looking at with Brown in the best offensive environment on the slate (46.5 total).

Chris Olave, WR, New Orleans Saints (VS. CHI)

DraftKings: $6,300 (WR13) | FanDuel: $6,900 (WR16)

If we exclude Week 4 (Derek Carr was severely injured and couldn’t throw downfield) and Week 5 (Olave came into the game questionable and New Orleans won 34-0), Chris Olave is averaging 11.0 targets per game, 83.5 receiving YPG, and 18.8 XFP/G. That’s mid-range WR1 volume, but Olave is priced as a WR2 on a 10-game slate that features minimal offensive upside.

And Olave should give us some fantasy upside soon. He’s 2nd among all players in air yards (1,061), and he leads all players with 21 targets of 20 or more yards. We just saw Rashid Shaheed go for 153 yards and a TD on just 3 receptions, so it’s only a matter of time before Olave and Derek Carr are able to connect, given Olave’s drastically better volume.

I’ll keep taking shots on Olave until he posts a tournament-winning score, which could absolutely happen this week in a neutral matchup.

Demario Douglas, WR, New England Patriots (VS. WAS)

DraftKings: $4,000 (WR36) | FanDuel: $5,400 (WR41)

Kendrick Bourne is done for the season with a torn ACL, and DeVante Parker is in the concussion protocol. New England is left with Demario Douglas, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Tyquan Thornton, Kayshon Boutte, and Jalen Reagor at WR for a Week 9 matchup with Washington.

That’s… one of the worst groups of WRs I’ve ever seen. And that should mean elite usage for Demario Douglas. Over the last two weeks, Douglas has earned a 79% route share, 6.5 targets per game, and 15.8 XFP/G. Over the full season, 15.8 XFP/G would rank 16th-best among WRs – and Douglas earned that usage with Bourne and Parker in the mix.

There’s no reason to overthink this, Douglas is arguably the top WR value of the slate in a top-3 matchup by schedule-adjusted FPG allowed.

Logan Thomas, TE, Washington Commaders (@ NE)

DraftKings: $3,500 (TE13) | FanDuel: $5,600 (TE7)

Thomas has averaged 10.7 DraftKings FPG in his six full games this season, scoring over 16.0 DraftKings points in two of his last four. Over the full season, 10.7 DraftKings FPG ranks 4th-best among slate-eligible TEs.

The game environment here (40.0 total) is roughly average for this slate, and Washington should be forced to throw as 3.0-point underdogs. Crucially, the Patriots are a bottom-6 schedule-adjusted matchup for opposing WRs, but a top-6 matchup for opposing TEs. We know New England focuses on taking away a team’s No. 1 offensive weapon, and that should funnel volume to Thomas.

Playing a TE like Logan Thomas is never sexy, but he’s a great DraftKings value on a relatively thin slate.

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.