What is this column? Each week I’ll be listing the best and most-interesting plays of the week, grouped by position, and ranked and tiered in some sort of descending order. Keep in mind, we’re looking only at the players available on the main slate for both DraftKings and FanDuel.
This article is long. It’s going to be long every week. Ideally, it’s all you should need to know to be able to profit playing DFS in any given week.
Be sure to also watch our DFS livestream every Thursday Night at 7:30PM EST. Be sure to get in our Discord – if you’re not already in there, you’re missing out on a lot of important news updates as well as personal guidance and advice from our experts. And, most importantly, be sure to check back on Sunday mornings for the “Sunday Morning Update” – basically a TLDR version of this piece along with any injury-related updates we might need.
Anyway, let’s dive in…
Note: Some of you really hate reading, I get that. Or, “Just tell me who to play. And keep the list short.” I get it. That’s what Sunday morning’s article is for. We’ll narrow today’s article down to just the top-10 or so plays of the week.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, Miami Dolphins
[DK: QB24, FD: QB15]
Fitzpatrick is egregiously mispriced as just the 24th-highest-priced QB of the slate on DraftKings. Since Week 12 of last season, he actually leads all QBs in DKFP. (Yes, even above Lamar Jackson, Patrick Mahomes, Russell Wilson, etc.) And he provides a solid cash-game floor, averaging 26.3 rushing yards per game over this span, which ranks 5th-most and just 2.9 behind Josh Allen. He draws a dream matchup this week, against a horribly-depleted Seattle defense that’s giving up the 2nd-most FPG to opposing QBs (30.7). They’ll be without S Jamal Adams, CB Quinton Dunbar, LB Jordyn Brooks, and maybe also CB Shaq Griffin, CB Neiko Thorpe, S Lano Hill. Legitimately, they’re likely to be starting practice squad-caliber players in the secondary this week. Fitzpatrick was hyper-efficient last week (160 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs, 2 incompletions) but didn’t need to keep his foot on the gas in a 31-13 blowout. Look for good efficiency again, along with much better volume as Miami plays catch-up with Seattle’s juggernaut offense. Key Stack: WR DeVante Parker
Matthew Stafford, QB, Detroit Lions
[DK: QB14, FD: QB14]
New Orleans @ Detroit has massive shootout potential with CBs Janoris Jenkins (shoulder) and Marshon Lattimore (hamstring) both ruled out. These are two of the best perimeter CBs in the NFL, and the heart and soul of New Orleans’ defense. They’ll also be without leading edge rusher Marcus Davenport. Even with all of those guys healthy, New Orleans was already a top pass-funnel defense to target, ranking bottom-5 in passing FPG allowed and passing fantasy points allowed per pass attempt. Fitzpatrick is glaringly the top value on DraftKings, but he was already a close second to Stafford even before we got news both CBs might miss this game. Graham Barfield spent a bit more time on him here, calling him his favorite tournament play this week.
Key Stack: WR Kenny Golladay
Cam Newton, QB, New England Patriots
[DK: QB10, FD: QB7]
Newton burst onto the scene in Week 1, rushing 15 times for 75 yards and two scores against Miami’s man-heavy defense. In Week 2, Seattle forced New England to keep their foot on the gas, and Newton exploded in a big way – throwing for 397 yards and scoring another 16.7 fantasy points on the ground (11 carries). In Week 3, New England played down to their banged-up opponent and went slow-paced and run-heavy against the Raiders. Newton didn’t do much, while the RBs combined for a whopping 56.7 fantasy points. New England won’t have that luxury this week, as 7.0-point underdogs against the Chiefs. Instead, look for volume similar to what we saw from Newton in Week 2, and maybe a little bit less efficiency against the tougher defense. Newton leads all QBs in rushing attempts (35) and designed runs (31), and ranks 3rd among all players in carries inside the 10-yard-line (9). Key Stack: WR Damiere Byrd
- To start the season, Russell Wilson has scored 103.0 fantasy points, which ranks most by any QB through the first three weeks of the season all-time. Josh Allen’s 94.9 ranks third-most. Pat Mahomes’ 87.9 ranks eighth-most. Dak Prescott’s 86.9 ranks ninth-most. All of these QBs are priced in line with being the No. 1, No. 2, No. 3, etc. QB of the slate. But all are egregiously mispriced if counting them as borderline-historically great options, which, I think they are. In a week with a lot of value, don’t be afraid to move off Fitzpatrick/Stafford’s guaranteed value to a higher-priced name. That’s was generally the approach we’ve usually taken with QB, but we’re seeing usage (primarily rushing usage) and efficiency at a rate we haven’t seen before from the top options. In DFS, we have to be quick to change with the times and attack these sorts of trends when we spot them.
- Deshaun Watson is coming off of three-straight brutal matchups to draw a bottom-5 defense (that has two starting and one backup perimeter CB all on the injury report) is also firmly in play, although maybe not a top play. Houston’s implied point total this week is nearly 10 points higher than their per game scoring average.
- If looking for a sneaky contrarian play, Wes Huber is very high on Tom Brady, who is projected to be just 1% owned this week… He’s also (I’m sure) extremely high on Joe Burrow (as he is every week), who will go overlooked this week, despite a great matchup against the Jaguars. Over the last two weeks, against Jacksonville, Ryan Tannehill and Ryan Fitzpatrick combined to total 7 touchdowns and 8 incompletions. They rank dead-last in fantasy points allowed per dropback while Burrow leads the league in dropbacks per game. Of course, this should be a Joe Mixon game, but if it’s not, Burrow should smash…
High Priced RBs
There is no more valuable asset in fantasy (season-long or DFS) than the every-down bell cow RB, which sees extensive usage in both the run game and the passing game. And DFS price fixers are typically aware of this, pricing those types of RBs around $9,000 or more. But that’s not the case this week, with Ezekiel Elliott and Alvin Kamara.
Even if Christian McCaffrey -- the archetypal bell-cow -- were fully healthy, I’m not sure I’d have him above either Elliott or Kamara this week. And neither RB is priced anywhere near McCaffrey’s typical salary.
Alvin Kamara ranks 10th among all RBs in rushing fantasy points and fourth among all receivers in receiving fantasy points. He ranks third in XFP per game (23.5) and first in fantasy points per game (35.8, +12.9 more than Elliott). Of course, that sort of differential implies a massive regression to the mean (he’s scored 6 touchdowns on just a 2.7 touchdown expectation). But XFP is based on how many fantasy points a perfectly league-average player would score on identical volume, and Kamara is far more talented than the league-average player. In fact, he’s arguably the most fantasy-efficient RB of all-time. And, unlike last year, he’s finally healthy. With Michael Thomas ruled out, look for Kamara to continue to see unreal usage again this week – basically high-end slot WR / Thomas-esque usage as a receiver along with 8-15 carries with some of that coming in the red zone. He draws a great matchup on paper, against a Lions defense that ranks dead-last in YPC allowed (6.10) while also giving up the 10th-most FPG to opposing RBs (28.1).
Ezekiel Elliott leads all RBs in Snap% (92.5%), Carry% (93.5%), and ranks behind only Kamara in Target% (21.3%). His 27.5 XFP per game leads all players, with +3.9 over the next-closest. He hasn’t been as productive (22.9 FPG) as his good volume would imply, but knowing Elliott, that’s bound to change. The matchup isn’t amazing on paper, but Dallas (favored by 4.5) has the third-highest implied point total of the slate (30.25).
In Cash, if you can only pick one, lean Kamara. But I don’t want to only pick one. I want to play both.
If looking to “get weird” for tournaments, consider Dalvin Cook. Our projections actually have him above Elliott this week (21.1 FP to 20.5). As 3.5-point underdogs, game script is a concern, but the on-paper matchup is phenomenal – Houston is giving up a league-high 167.3 rushing YPG to opposing RBs. He’ll be far less owned than Elliott or Kamara this week at a similar price-tag…
Josh Jacobs is projected to draw contrarian levels of ownership this week (4-9%), but among all slate-eligible RBs ranks 4th in XFP per game (19.8) and 4th in FPG (20.0). On DraftKings, he’s just the 9th-highest-priced RB of the slate. Although I’m less bullish, Wes Huber loves the matchup and wrote him up as one of his favorite plays…
Among all slate-eligible RBs, Jonathan Taylor ranks 5th in our projections (17.6) and 4th according to expert consensus rankings on Fantasy Pros. And yet, he ranks just 10th (DK) and 7th in salary (FD) this week. After disappointing DFS players in back-to-back games, he’s projected to go overlooked in terms of ownership (5-9%) this week. Chicago ranks 8th-worst in both YPC allowed (4.93) and rushing FPG allowed to opposing RBs (18.0). I’m confident Taylor is a far better talent than his stat sheet currently implies…
Also consider Nick Chubb, with Kareem Hunt listed as questionable. If he’s out, he’ll see the bell cow workload he saw last season, prior to Hunt’s return from suspension. Over that span, he averaged 18.9 carries, 4.0 targets, and 19.3 FPG (5th-most). However, like with Cook, game script is a concern (4.5-point underdogs). He’s projected at just 5-7% ownership, and, as we’ve seen before with late news, I don’t expect that to climb much higher if we get news on Sunday that Hunt is out. But if Hunt suits up, look elsewhere.
Medium Priced RBs
This is tough. There are just way too many amazing value plays at RB this week.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire ranks 12th among RBs in salary on DraftKings, but 4th among all players in XFP per game (22.8), averaging 18.3 carries and 5.3 targets per game. A lot can happen in this game, but recent history suggests Bill Belichick sells out to stop the pass, content to let Kansas City try to beat them via the run. In Mark Schofield’s words, they’ll “dare them to run.” If that happens, Kansas City will beat them via the run, and Edwards-Helaire will post a monster game. Damien Williams missed their Week 14 meeting last year, but across their two previous games, Kareem Hunt averaged 37.6 FPG.
Kenyan Drake’s usage isn’t quite in line with where we were drafting him just a month ago. He’s averaging 18.0 carries per game, which is great, but he’s not a true bell cow, ceding some passing-down work to Chase Edmonds. (Edmonds out-targets Drake 11 to 5, with Drake running a route on only 48% of Kyler Murray’s dropbacks.) On top of that, his touchdown expectation has taken a hit, with Murray scoring 4 of the team’s 5 rushing touchdowns thus far. All of this being said, he’s the top value on DraftKings this week, as per the DFS SuperModel, and rightfully so. Drake has handled 82% of the team’s carries out of the backfield, and, as 3.5-point favorites, seems locked into 20-plus touches in a dream matchup against the Panthers. Carolina gave up the most FPG to opposing RBs last year (30.1), and, somehow, they’ve been even worse this year (43.5). Since the start of last season, Carolina ranks dead-last in both YPC allowed (5.27) and rushing FPG allowed to opposing RBs (23.1, 31% more than next-closest). DeAndre Hopkins and Christian Kirk are true game-time decisions, and I’m not sure what that would mean for Drake if he sits out. Less red zone drives, or even more volume?
At first look, it appears Darrell Henderson was Los Angeles’ featured RB in Week 3, out-touching Malcolm Brown 21 to 7, and 5 to 1 inside the 10-yard-line. He was also (clearly) the more effective RB, scoring 19.0 fantasy points to Brown’s 1.9. But digging deeper, Henderson only saw one more snap than Brown (33 to 32) while running 7 fewer routes (17 to 10). Still, it’s encouraging Henderson saw 20 carries in a game Los Angeles trailed throughout. There might be some concern for future weeks that Henderson gets pulled for Brown on passing downs, but not this week. Favored by a whopping 13 points, look for Henderson to run all over the Giants. With Cam Akers still out, and getting a big vote of confidence from Sean McVay, he’s rightfully going to be mighty chalky this week.
Joe Mixon’s usage has been about what we should have expected given game script -- Cincinnati has spent only 19% of their plays leading thus far. With Giovani Bernard stealing 34% of the snaps and out-targeting Mixon 15 to 9, Mixon is still more workhorse than bell cow. Meaning, he’ll continue to be much more productive in victories than losses. But he’s also due for a pretty serious regression, even if game script doesn’t improve. The usage he’s seeing -- 17.3 carries per game and 3.0 targets per game (with nearly all of the team’s near-end zone work) is good volume, worth 15.8 XFP per game (9th-most among RBs). We know he’s far more talented than his -6.2-point differential implies, and perhaps this is the perfect get-right spot, favored by 3.5-points against the Jaguars. Throughout his career, Mixon averages 17.0 FPG in victories and 12.2 FPG in losses.
Mike Davis, filling in for Christian McCaffrey, saw tremendous usage in Week 3. On 76% of the snaps, Davis earned 13 carries, 9 targets, and 3 opportunities inside the 10-yard-line. He ranked 3rd among RBs in XFP (23.6) and 10th in fantasy points scored (23.3). As a (probably) league-average talent we should continue to see around league-average efficiency, but he should continue to put up low-end RB1 numbers so long as he continues to see borderline-McCaffrey-type usage. He’s a bit mispriced this week, as just the 19th (DK) and 16th (FD) highest-priced RB on the slate.
Ronald Jones played on 35 snaps last week, to Leonard Fournette’s 25 and LeSean McCoy’s 11. With Fournette out, it’s possible Jones is staring at a bell-cow role. He’s averaging 12.3 carries and 3.0 targets per game, while Fournette leaves behind 8.0 carries and 2.7 targets per game in his absence. Game script is near-ideal, as 7.0-point favorites, but the Chargers rank second-best in YPC allowed (2.63). He’s definitely mispriced and is projected to draw contrarian levels of ownership (1-3%) this week.
With Tarik Cohen out, is David Montgomery a bell cow now? He might be. He’s seen exactly 3 targets and between 13-16 carries in each game thus far, while Cohen leaves behind a modest 4.7 carries and 3.0 targets per game. Put them both together, and it’s good but still not elite usage for a RB, and especially not for a 3-0 team. And against the sloth-like pace of the Colts, the matchup isn’t great.
Devin Singletary saw 13 carries and 5 targets (121 total yards) last week, in a game they led throughout. He now draws a dream matchup, up against a Raiders defense that has allowed a league-high 44.5 FPG to opposing RBs (along with 5.96 YPC allowed). If Zack Moss sits out again, he’d be a terrific play, but that’s looking unlikely.
Similarly, I was very high on David Johnson earlier in the week, before Duke Johnson was pulled from the injury report. He was seeing terrific usage with Duke Johnson out, earning 90% of the snaps, 85% of the carries, along with a 12% target share. That’s elite usage, but it was hard to tell, coming off of a brutal stretch of the schedule (KC, BAL, PIT). This week’s matchup is terrific, and he certainly could still hit, but I like him less than some of the names we’ve just discussed.
James Robinson and Myles Gaskin are fine plays from within this tier, but I’ve already written like 69,420 words, and I have them both behind a lot of the RBs we’ve just discussed.
Kenny Golladay, WR, Detroit Lions
[DK: WR19, FD: WR7]
Golladay told us last week he’s not quite 100%, but he performed amicably in his return to action, dropping a 6-57-1 line on a team-high 7 targets against the Cardinals. He now averages 17.8 FPG across his last 8 games with Matthew Stafford active, hitting at least 17.0 FPs in 6 of those 8 games. New Orleans, last week, with everyone healthy, allowed Allen Lazard to drop a 6-146-1 line on 8 targets. And now, with Marshon Lattimore and Janoris Jenkins out, are going to be starting backups on the perimeter. In what should be a pass-heavy shootout, he’s way too cheap (WR19 on DK) and projected to be under 10% owned. He’s a lock button play.
Tyler Lockett / D.K. Metcalf, WR, Seattle Seahawks
Adjusted for situation, the Seahawks are now the second most-pass-heavy team in the league, after ranking bottom-5 in each of the previous two seasons. With Russell Wilson remaining as efficient as ever on top of this boost in pass volume, and with target volume so heavily concentrated between these two receivers (combined 49.6% target share), we need to be viewing both WRs as top-10 options. And maybe, that’s not even high enough – Lockett ranks second among WRs in fantasy points scored (73.9) and Metcalf would rank 4th (63.8) had he not gotten stripped at the goal-line last week. Lockett’s volume is much better than Metcalf’s averaging 18.4 XFP per game (6th-most) to Metcalf’s 11.7 (32nd-most). He also has the better on paper matchup – Miami is giving up the 8th-most FPG to slot WRs (where he runs 62% of his routes) but the 12th-fewest FPG to outside WRs. But Lockett’s also significantly more expensive, and Wes Huber actually thinks Metcalf has the better CB matchup this week.
DeVante Parker, WR, Miami Dolphins
[DK: WR24, FD: WR20]
The Seahawks have played just three games thus far and have already allowed 4 WRs to reach 130+ yards against them, 6 WRs to reach 100+ yards against them, and 10 WRs to reach 65+ yards. 5 of the 20 highest-scoring WR games thus far have come from teams playing Seattle, with only one other defense making the list more than once. Seattle is simultaneously allowing the most FPG to opposing left and slot WRs, while also allowing the third-most to opposing right WRs…. Okay, okay, you get it.
Why Parker? Well, as Wes Huber outlined here, he has the best matchup of the team’s receivers. But also, he seems to clearly be Ryan Fitzpatrick’s favorite target. Parker left Week 1 early due to injury, but still caught all 4 of his targets for 47 yards. That was on just 12 routes, and despite seeing shadow coverage from Stephon Gilmore (the best CB in the league) on nearly all of his routes. In Week 2, despite getting shadow coverage from Tre’Davious White (the second-best CB in the league), Parker posted a 5-53-1 line on 8 targets. In Week 3, Parker dropped a 5-69-0 line on 5 targets, but considering Fitzpatrick only threw the ball 20 times, that represents a 25% target share and a 43% yardage share. He’s a borderline lock button play on both sites.
Keenan Allen, WR, Los Angeles Chargers
[DK: WR12, FD: WR13]
Here’s what I had to say about Allen in this week’s XFP Report:
Allen was the XFP leader in Week 3, scoring 32.7 fantasy points on a 30.0-point expectation. In total, Allen saw 19 targets (for the second time in his career) on an 8.3 aDOT, and with 3 of those targets coming in the end zone (0.82 XTD). Of course, Allen probably benefited from Mike Williams going down early with an injury, but Allen also saw tremendous usage last season, finishing top-5 in XFP per game and top-10 in fantasy points per game. Ranking 22nd by BestBall10 ADP, I think we all would have agreed he was one of the best values at the position, had we known Justin Herbert would eventually start nearly every game for the Chargers. As long as that’s the case (and I don’t see why Los Angeles would go back to Tyrod Taylor at this point, other than stabbing-related guilt), keep starting Allen as a borderline-WR1.
Allen leads all players in target market share (33%), and totals 29 targets, 20 receptions, 228 yards, and 1 touchdown since the team turned to Justin Herbert in Week 2. WR Mike Williams is still out, and though Tampa Bay’s defense is very good all-around, they’re a little worse against slot WRs than outside WRs, RBs, or TEs. As 7.0-point underdogs, and as just the 12th- (DK) and 13th-highest-priced (FD) WR on the slate, he’s easily one of the best expected volume vs. salary plays of the week.
D.J. Moore, WR, Carolina Panthers
[DK: WR26, FD: WR15]
Moore is just the 26th-highest-priced WR on DraftKings this week, which seems odd considering we were drafting him as a top-10 WR just a few weeks ago. Moore has no doubt disappointed to start the season, but not nearly enough to warrant this borderline-insulting salary. Robby Anderson ($200 cheaper) has been more productive, averaging 18.0 FPG (10th-most) to Moore’s 12.6 (32nd-most), but volume has actually been better for Moore. He ranks 13th in XFP per game (14.7), while Anderson ranks 28th (12.4). The matchup looks tough on paper, but not prohibitive – a banged up Kenny Golladay posted a 6-57-1 line against them last week (on 7 targets), Terry McLaurin tagged them for a 7-125-1 line the week before (on 10 targets), and the 49ers (their Week 1 opponent) don’t really have a WR1. He’s a clear top value this week, though, I will say, if he projects to be highly owned in tournaments come Saturday (our ownership projections refresh until lock), I’ll probably be looking elsewhere.
Will Fuller / Brandin Cooks, WR, Houston Texans
Here’s what I had to say about Will Fuller earlier in the week: “Fuller should be started as a borderline-WR2. That’s about our median projection for him, but, seeing as how it’s Fuller it really feels like we’re saying -- “There’s a 50% chance he scores 3.0 fantasy points and a 50% chance he scores 24.0 fantasy points.” That’s just sort of who Fuller is – very boom or bust – but this feels like a great week for a boom-game. Houston has a 29.5-point implied total this week, which is 10.0 points more than their per-game average this year. So, the scoring potential seems good, as does Fuller’s matchup. He runs 77% of his routes from the outside, while Minnesota (banged up at CB, and with limited practice time this week due to COVID-related complications) is giving up the sixth-most FPG to opposing outside WRs.”
And then Fuller popped up on the injury report. So I wrote this up about Brandin Cooks the next day: “Averaging just 7.9 FPG, Cooks doesn’t seem too enticing (5, 8, and 5 targets), but he’s coming off of a brutal stretch in the schedule (KC, BAL, PIT) to draw a top-5 matchup this week. The Texans have one of the highest implied points total of the week (28.5, 9.5 points above their per game average this year), and Minnesota has their two starting perimeter CBs (Cameron Dantzler, Mike Hughes) and one backup (Kris Boyd) on the injury report. Houston may also be without Will Fuller, or he could be at less than 100%, after popping up on the injury report Thursday with a hamstring injury (something he’s dealt with for a number of years now). And, he’s just way too cheap, as the 50th-highest-priced WR on DraftKings and the 44th-highest WR on FanDuel.”
Fuller is now back off the injury report and expected to be 100% for Sunday’s game. Both are very strong plays, but neither is a must-play by any stretch. One thing I do think is interesting is that Minnesota is especially vulnerable deep, giving up the second-most FPG to receivers on deep passes (19.7). That’s typically Fuller’s bread and butter, but Cooks is the one seeing more work deep this year, averaging 1.3 deep targets per game to Fuller’s 0.7.
From the Week 4 DFS Values column:
At minimum salary on both sites, Damiere Byrd (1.7% projected ownership) is a terrific punt-play who doesn’t really feel like much of a “punt” at all. He’s led the team in routes in back-to-back games, with 6 more than Julian Edelman (who is pretty banged up, or at least, he really looks like it on film) and 11 more than N’Keal Harry. He caught 6 of 9 targets for 72 yards in Week 2, and 3 of 3 targets for 27 yards in Week 3. The Patriots went run-heavy last week against the Raiders (their preference most weeks), but were forced to keep their foot on the gas against Seattle’s more potent offense in Week 2. Expect something similar this week against the Chiefs.
In Week 3, DeAndre Hopkins saw 12 targets on 36 routes (23.7 FP). Larry Fitzgerald saw 3 targets on 33 routes (1.0 FP). KeeSean Johnson saw 7 targets on 29 routes (4.4 FP). Andy Isabella saw 4 targets on 15 routes (20.1). Keep an eye on Hopkins and Christian Kirk, who are both game time decisions. If they both sit out, Isabella may finally get the usage he deserves.
Scotty Miller is banged up but is a fine GPP dart-throw if he suits up… If John Brown can’t suit up (highly unlikely), Adam Caplan-favorite Gabriel Davis would be a pretty solid play… With Parris Campbell and Michael Pittman both out, (2-34-0 on 4 targets last week), Zach Pascal is vaguely in play… Steven Sims is out and Logan Thomas is terrible, so Dontrelle Inman is barely (but probably not at all) in play…
In an effort to save time (to get this article up early on Saturday AM), we’re going to be a little less detailed this week. As is the case every week, there are a lot of players to consider.
- Mike Evans posted a 7-104-1 line on 10 targets in Week 2 when Chris Godwin sat out. Now, he draws an A+ matchup against the Chargers’ banged-up secondary. Wes Huber covered this matchup in more detail here.
- Stefon Diggs has been on a tear, averaging 9.3 targets and 20.3 FPG. On paper, the Raiders seem tough against WRs and have appeared to fix their long-standing issues defending the deep ball, but they also haven’t really faced any WRs of note. And Diggs (at least from what we’ve seen from him thus far) feels like one of those plays you’re never going to feel comfortable fading.
- Terry McLaurin is looking like he’ll go underowned (6-7%) in a matchup that looks tough on paper. But maybe only on paper. Wes Huber explained here, why this is actually a terrific spot for a blow-up game from McLaurin. Washington will be without Steven Sims, and we’ve already seen McLaurin produce in even tougher spots.
- Marquise Brown was one of my Exodia plays for redraft leagues this year, so, you know I’m just going to keep playing him every week until he goes nuclear. At a reduced pricetag and contrarian levels of ownership, why not this week? Of course, Baltimore won’t need to pass much in a game they’re favored by 14.5, but just note he has slate-busting upside every week and will draw little ownership this week.
- Dallas is still without CB Chidobe Awuzie, CB Anthony Brown, OLB Leighton Vander Esch, and OLB Sean Lee. Through three weeks, they’re giving up the 3rd-most FPG to opposing WR1s. Robert Woods tagged them for a 6-105-0 line on 8 targets in Week 1. Calvin Ridley posted a 7-109-2 line on 10 targets in Week 2. Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf both reached 100-plus yards with at least one TD last week… The Browns will be without DE Adrian Clayborn, LB Tae Davis, and CB Greedy Williams. LB Jacob Phillips, DE Olivier Vernon, and CB Denzel Ward are all questionable… What happens in this game? My guess is Dallas leans fast-paced (they lead in plays per game) and pass-heavy, keeping their foot on the gas, trying to score enough points to force Cleveland to abandon the run. If that happens, Odell Beckham Jr. is reportedly back to 100%, and has seen 14, 9, and 12 targets with 80-plus receiving in each game thus far. He’s a little too cheap as the 7th- (DK) and 9th-most (FD) expensive WR on the slate.
- The only reason not to play DeAndre Hopkins is poor health -- he’s a legitimate gametime decision -- but because of that (DFS players rarely adjust to late news as much as they should), he’ll be a decent contrarian play if he can suit up.
- Tyler Boyd has seen target totals jump from 5 to 8 to 13 last week, with increased production alongside that bump in volume. A.J. Green, meanwhile, underwhelmed last week, as we expected against Darius Slay, but he was seeing unreal usage prior to that bottom-3 matchup. He ranks 10th in XFP per game (17.0), second in air yards (384), seventh in targets (28), first in end zone targets (6), third in deep targets (7), and fourth in XTD (1.95). Jacksonville has been worse against slot WRs than outside WRs, which is better for Boyd, but they’ve been especially vulnerable deep, ranking 4th-worst in FPG allowed on deep passes. And as we just illustrated, Green ranks third in deep targets and second in air yards. Both are in play, but Green is my preferred play when accounting for ownership (projected at 2%).
- Henry Ruggs and Bryan Edwards are out. Hunter Renfrow just dropped a 6-84-1 line against the Patriots (on 9 targets), and now gets a top matchup against Buffalo’s slot-funnel defense. Slot WRs Jamison Crowder, Isaiah Ford, and Cooper Kupp have combined to average 10.7 targets, 99.3 receiving yards, and 21.6 FPG against the Bills, while doing little else in their o. However, it’s notable he (16 of 27 routes) and Nelson Agholor (14 of 33 routes) split time in the slot last week, so this is by no means a slam-dunk play.
Darren Waller, TE, Las Vegas Raiders
[DK: TE5, FD: TE3]
In a tough matchup in Week 1, Waller posted a 6-45-0 line on 8 targets. In a dream matchup in Week 2 (against New Orleans), Waller posted a 12-105-1 line on 16 targets. Last week, coming into a brutal matchup against the Patriots, and banged up on a short week of rest, Waller totaled only 2.9 fantasy points on 4 targets. Waller was a full participant in practice all week, and Las Vegas will have little choice but to feature him this week without Bryan Edwards and Henry Ruggs. Like Week 2, this is another dream matchup for Waller up against Buffalo’s slot and TE funnel defense. We saw Miami lean heavy on TE Mike Gesicki against the Bills in Week 2 (8-130-1 on 11 targets), while their slot WR Isaiah Ford also posted a big game (7-76-0 on 9 targets), and I’m expecting similar lines from Waller and Hunter Renfrow this week.
Adam Trautman, TE, New Orleans Saints
[DK: TE43, FD: TE46]
Trautman was just a 3rd Round pick and the 5th TE selected in the 2020 Draft, but the Saints also traded literally all of their remaining picks (a 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th round pick) to move up to get him. So it’s clear they liked him quite a bit more than draft capital may imply – GM Mickey Loomis actually told reporters the team had him as a top-40 player overall in the class, and my prospect model liked him quite a bit as well.
After Jared Cook suffered a game-ending injury in the 3rd Quarter of last week’s game, Trautman ran a route on 16 of the team’s final 17 dropbacks, with fellow TE Josh Hill running only 3 routes. With Cook out this week, Trautman could earn a full-time role in his absence. With just 2 targets last week, and 3 targets total on the year, we shouldn’t expect much. But we wouldn’t be playing Trautman for what we expect him to do. Rather, at a minimum price-tag on both sites, he allows us to pay up elsewhere at the other more important positions.
T.J. Hockenson, TE, Detroit Lions
[DK: TE8, FD: TE9]
Here’s what I had to say about Hockenson on Wednesday:
Hockenson saw a massive uptick in usage and volume in Week 3, as target volume rose from 4.5 (Week 1-2) to 7, and route share increased from 63% to 89%. In addition to this new more valuable role, Hockenson also draws an ideal matchup against New Orleans’ TE funnel defense. The Saints have given up a league-high 27.3 FPG to opposing TEs this season which represents a whopping 40.9% of their total receiving fantasy points allowed (most by a landslide). And that’s in spite of the fact that their opponents’ TEs are averaging just 10.0 FPG in all other games (would rank 14th-most). Because New Orleans is so stout on the perimeter (thanks to CBs Marshon Lattimore and Janoris Jenkins), Matthew Stafford will likely have little choice but to pepper Hockenson with targets this week.
The issue now, however, is New Orleans is looking like way less of a TE funnel defense now with Lattimore and Jenkins out. He’s a good play, but no longer an amazing play.
- With TE being the wasteland it's been this year, I’m fully content to narrow down my options to just paying up for Waller or punting the position outright (Trautman or someone similar) but there are a few other intriguing plays. - With Seattle’s injury-ridden secondary in shambles, Wes Huber foresees a big game for Mike Gesicki. DeVante Parker will draw heavier ownership, but Gesicki is a terrific play in his own right, so don’t let him go neglected. - Don’t laugh at me, but Jimmy Graham is legitimately intriguing. Fantasy Points Insider Adam Caplan hyped up Graham’s role in this offense multiple times throughout the offseason, and though it felt out of place at the time, it seems pretty apt now. He ranks 16th (DK) and 10th in salary (FD), but ranks 6th in XFP per game (13.1) and 8th in FPG (12.8).
- Since the Blake Jarwin injury, Dalton Schultz is averaging 8.0 targets and 13.9 fantasy points per four quarters… The volume is there for Logan Thomas, but he’s hard to trust after flopping in back-to-back dream matchups… On an 82% route share, Hunter Henry is seeing terrific usage, earning 8, 8, and 7 targets with 50-plus receiving yards in each game… Mo Alie-Cox is sort of intriguing if Blake Jarwin sits out again. Wes Huber wrote him up here…