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.
To start the season, Dak Prescott has scored 125.2 fantasy points, which ranks most by any QB through the first four weeks of a season all-time. Kyler Murray’s 108.3 ranks 13th. Patrick Mahomes’ 108.2 ranks 14th. Lamar Jackson ranks quite a bit lower, but last year finished with the most FPG by any QB in any season all-time. All of these QBs are priced in line with where DraftKings or FanDuel would typically rank a top-5 QB. But all are egregiously mispriced if counting them as borderline-historically great options, which, I think they are.
Although there’s not as much value this week as last, don’t be afraid to move up to a higher-priced QB if you can afford it. Over the past few years (2019 Lamar Jackson excluded), I’d usually recommend chasing value at the QB position, but we’re seeing volume, 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.
Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs have a 34.5-point implied point total, which is one of the highest I ever remember seeing. Lamar Jackson (32.0) and Dak Prescott (31.75) aren’t too far behind, though Kyler Murray is (27.5). However, in each instance, the spread is so wide (-13.0, -13.0, -9.5, -7.5) I have trouble imagining any of these QBs will need to keep their foot on the gas for very long. Working in Mahomes’ favor is the fact that Andy Reid has long been the most pass-heavy coach in the league when playing with a lead (and even when leading by 10.0 points or more). Although Las Vegas’ defense is quite a bit better now, Mahomes has historically dominated the Raiders, averaging 25.6 FPG on just 33.8 attempts per game. He also offers leverage off of Clyde Edwards-Helaire chalk.
Over the past four weeks, your best bet for tournaments has been full-on game stacks – a QB+Receiver+Receiver+Opposing Receiver game stack has won the Millionaire Maker in 4 straight weeks. So, maybe that’s how we should be viewing these QBs for tournaments. Split ownership, and then on each individual lineup go all-in or not at all.
Deshaun Watson has been a massive disappointment to those who were drafting him top-6 over the summer. He ranks 17th in FPG (19.1), and maybe worse yet, just 17th in rushing YPG (14.5). However, this would be a great get-right spot for him. Jacksonville gave up 300-yard games to Philip Rivers in Week 1 and Joe Burrow in Week 4. And across Weeks 2-3, Ryan Tannehill and Ryan Fitzpatrick combined for 7 total touchdowns on just 8 incompletions. In total, the Jaguars rank bottom-6 in passing fantasy points allowed per pass attempt, pressure rate, and passer rating allowed. Though they may be just as vulnerable on the ground as through the air, given Houston’s inability to run the football (3.81 YPC, 59.0 rushing YPG), I suspect Watson is still the primary beneficiary. Behind the 4th-highest implied point total of the slate (30.25), and against a Cover-1/Cover-3/Cover-3-Seam defense (which Watson historically obliterates, as Wes Huber told us here) Watson is one of the better plays on the slate. Will Fuller is the obvious stack, though Brandin Cooks is also in play, as is either James Robinson or D.J. Chark on the run-back.
With the 3rd-highest Over/Under of the Slate (53.5, opened at 51.0), both Matt Ryan and Teddy Bridgewater deserve some serious consideration. Matt Ryan has the pedigree, but Bridgewater has the matchup – Atlanta ranks worst in schedule-adjusted FPG allowed to opposing QBs (+7.7) and also ranks worst in FPG allowed, opposing passer rating allowed, and passing fantasy points allowed per pass attempt. Carolina ranks highly in all of these stats (2nd-best in schedule-adjusted FPG allowed), and Ryan’s expectation would take a hit if Julio Jones sits out. Bridgewater’s track record is also somewhat worrisome – he’s hit 21.0 fantasy points just 4 times in 21 career starts. However, given his projected ownership (highest among QBs), I don’t expect to have him in very many tournament lineups.
Daniel Jones is probably the best pure value at the position, but I’m still not as in love with him as the rest of the field seems to be. Here’s what I had to say about him in DFS Values:
Jones is by no means a safe play, or an exciting play, but he is a pretty good value. He comes out of a brutal stretch of schedule, up against the 1st, 2nd, 5th, and 18th toughest defenses by passing fantasy points allowed per pass attempt. His output in those games: 9.1, 8.7, 11.1, and 19.4 fantasy points. But he has a great matchup this week -- Dallas ranks 2nd-worst by the same stat and 4th-worst by passer rating allowed (111.8).
Of course, the loss of Saquon Barkley hurts (defenses don’t have to worry at all about the running game). The offensive line is an issue. The receiving corps is an issue. So maybe he’s just a tournament dart throw, but maybe he’s one of the better ones on the slate. He’s flashed a high ceiling before, exceeding 32.0 DKFP four times over the past two seasons, which is tied with Josh Allen and more than Pat Mahomes and Aaron Rodgers.
Still, Jones makes me nervous, so maybe the better play is Darius Slayton who is averaging 7.3 targets per game and ranks 10th in air yardage market share (37%). Dallas ranks 4th-worst in FPG allowed to opposing outside WRs (where Slayton runs 86% of his routes), and are giving up the 4th-most FPG to opposing WRs on deep passes, which is Slayton’s role in this offense. He ranks as our 7th-best WR value on DraftKings, as per the DFS SuperModel.
At a similar price-tag, Jimmy Garoppolo is at least somewhat intriguing with all of his receivers healthy, but his RBs still hurt, up against a Miami defense that’s giving up the 4th-most FPG to opposing QBs. San Francisco has the 5th-highest implied point total of the slate (29.75).
And then, if you really want to go cheap, Kyle Allen is firmly in play on DraftKings at just $4,100. While Mahomes will need 23.1 DKFP to hit 3X expectations, Allen needs only 12.3 (essentially 160 passing yards and 1.5 passing touchdowns). The matchup is below-average at-best, and his supporting cast is among the worst in the league, but he is cheap – and unlike Dwayne Haskins, at least he knows the offense.
Buried the lede: All of this being said, the best tournament play of the slate might be Joe Burrow (2.8% projected ownership). Wes Huber made one of the most compelling arguments I’ve ever read for that being the case here, predicting a top-5 finish in a game that should well exceed the Over/Under. I’m in agreement, and of course, that would also mean Lamar Jackson should be higher on our radar. Though, he is dealing with a knee injury and did miss two practices this week (one due to a stomach illness), which means Burrow might still be the better play with everything else (price / ownership) factored in.
Ultimately, it seems like the games (and game stacks) drawing the most ownership will be NYG/DAL and CAR/ATL. As evident by the analysis above, I’m likely to be a lot lower owned on those games than the rest of the field. KC/LVR, BAL/CIN, and HOU/JAX are far more intriguing to me.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB, Kansas City Chiefs
[DK: RB5, FD: RB5]
Edwards-Helaire is far and away the top value of the slate on DraftKings, mispriced by about $1,300 as per the DFS SuperModel. He’s also the top overall value as per our DFS Projections (3.40X), and, believe it or not, our highest projected non-QB (23.1 FKDP). He’s also the top value RB on FanDuel as per the DFS SuperModel ($650) and our projections (2.59X). Here’s what I had to say about him in Start/Sit:
Edwards-Helaire has seen terrific usage this season, and growing usage in each game, playing on a season-high 73% of the team’s snaps last week. He now ranks 6th in carries per game (17.75), 9th in targets per game (4.75), and 5th in XFP per game (20.6). Though he ranks just 16th in FPG (15.8) that’s bound to regress – he’s gotten a little unlucky in the touchdown department, scoring only once for the 9th-highest-scoring team in the league, despite 7 opportunities inside the 5-yard-line (4th-most) and an 88% snap share in the red zone. Look for a big game this week – the Chiefs are 13.0-point favorites with the highest implied point total of the week (33.5) against a Raiders defense that is giving up the most FPG to opposing RBs (38.0), ranking 4th-worst in YPC allowed (5.34), 3rd-worst in rushing FPG allowed (21.9), and 4th-worst in receiving FPG allowed (16.2) to opposing RBs.
Wes Huber also spent a great deal of time hyping Edwards-Helaire in his article, which you can find here. So yes, Edwards-Helaire is probably the best overall on-paper play of the week, but factoring in ownership projections, maybe he’s not.
Game Theory Sidebar: In large-field tournaments, you’re almost always overpaying for the optimal plays. The best RB play on a slate may have a projection only 4.0 points higher than the next-best RB, or only a 7% better chance at a slate-busting game, but might still draw 3X that next-best player’s ownership because everyone wants to play the “best” or “optimal” plays. Factor that in, and oftentimes you’re better off playing a still very good but slightly less-optimal play at lower ownership than the highest-owned “optimal” play. All of that being said, Edwards-Helaire’s current ownership projection (22-23%) is actually significantly less than what I expected (probably somewhere around 35%). If it remains at this level, I might go higher-owned than the rest of the field. If it creeps up to 35% (our ownership projections adjust throughout the weekend, so keep an eye on them) I might pivot a larger percentage of my lineups to Mahomes and his receivers.
Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Dallas Cowboys
[DK: RB2, FD: RB1]
Elliott is by no means cheap, but he is a top value, mispriced by about $1,200 on DraftKings. Fully expecting this, I went out of my way to spend a great deal of time on Elliott in the Week 5 XFP Report. Here’s what I had to say:
Elliott is seeing unreal usage. Usage comparable only to the best seasons from Christian McCaffrey, LaDainian Tomlinson, Le’Veon Bell, and Marshall Faulk. Through the first four weeks, Elliott has finished 7th, 1st, 1st, and 4th among RBs in XFP. He leads all players in XFP per game (26.3), ranks first among RBs in snap% (88.7), and is averaging 17.5 carries and 7.5 targets per game.
Elliott is a true bell cow – as evident by the 88.7% snap share and 7.5 targets per game – and as such will not be game script-dependent like a Kenyan Drake (16.8 carries, 1.3 targets per game), he’ll still be productive in losses but he will still be much better off in games with positive game script. (Unless you’re as capable of a receiver as Christian McCaffrey or Austin Ekeler, it is better for a bell cow to play behind positive game script. Over the past three seasons, winning teams average 26.6 fantasy points per game at the RB position. Losing teams average 20.8.)
All this to say Elliott has been disadvantaged by negative game script thus far, with Dallas leading on just 2% of their offensive plays. Their defense may be apocalyptically bad, but it’s still bound to regress. He’s also gotten a little unlucky in the touchdown department, totaling just three rushing touchdowns vs. an expectation of 5.5. That’s also bound to regress. And this would be a great week for it, favored by 9.5 points against a Giants team that ranks dead-last in points scored per game (11.8).
The key takeaway is this – Elliott is easily now one of the most valuable assets in fantasy, maybe the most valuable asset in fantasy. And we haven’t yet seen him reach his true potential in an offense that ranks 2nd in net yards per drive (41.6) and 1st in plays per game (77.2). He’s my top regression candidate to target in DFS this week, and my top regression candidate to target in season-long via trades.
He's hard to afford, but I do foresee a slate-busting game this week. But if that doesn’t happen, it’s hard to imagine Dak Prescott, his receivers, and maybe Daniel Jones, fail to hit the high-end of their range of outcomes. But that’s also part of Elliott’s allure, he offers terrific leverage off of Darius Slayton, Dak Prescott, and Prescott’s receivers.
Mike Davis, RB, Carolina Panthers
[DK: RB10, FD: RB11]
If Christian McCaffrey were starting this week, he’d probably be our highest-projected player of the week. Of course, Mike Davis isn’t Christian McCaffrey, but he is seeing McCaffrey-level usage, and as such needs to be ranked as a low-end RB1 at worst. Over the last two weeks without McCaffrey, Davis is averaging 22.7 FP, 23.3 XFP, 3.0 opportunities inside the 10-yard-line, 14.5 carries, and 7.5 targets per game. And that was with Reggie Bonnafon (now on IR, Trenton Cannon is the only other active RB on the roster) siphoning off 7.0 touches per game. Those numbers rank 5th-, 2nd-, 2nd-, 17th-, and 3rd-best among RBs over this span. That last stat might be most important. Atlanta has been stout against the run, ranking 8th-best in YPC allowed (3.60), but they’ve given up the most receiving FPG to opposing running backs (19.4) and rank 10th-worst in total FPG allowed (29.6). This isn’t a new trend either -- they’ve ranked bottom-5 in receiving FPG allowed to RBs in 5 of Dan Quinn’s 6 seasons as HC.
Kareem Hunt, RB, Cleveland Browns[DK: RB7, FD: RB8]
Hunt rushed 11 times for 71 yards and 2 scores in last week’s game, but that amounted to just 28% of the team’s total rushing attempts. Hunt didn’t touch the ball until Nick Chubb suffered a game-ending injury on the final drive of the 1st Quarter, and then spent the rest of the game (21 snaps) in a full-on 3-way committee with D’Ernest Johnson (17) and Dontrell Hilliard (15). The threat that this happens again is real and hinges totally on Hunt’s health – he barely practiced at all last week due to a groin injury and practiced only in a limited capacity until getting a full practice in on Friday.
Sure, Hunt’s health is a legitimate concern, but if it wasn’t, he’d probably be neck-and-neck with Edwards-Helaire as the clear top value of the slate. Cleveland’s RBs are averaging an absurd 35.0 touches, 33.6 fantasy points, and 200.8 yards from scrimmage per game. Hunt is averaging 5.50 YPC and ranks 9th in FPG (17.4), despite playing on just 41% of the team’s snaps thus far. So, the analysis is simple – imagine if that snap share doubled with Chubb out, which seems to me like a realistic expectation if he were operating at full health, and maybe he is.
James Robinson, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars
[DK: RB6, FD: RB13]
There are only 3 running backs earning at least 90% of their team’s carries and at least 10% of their team’s targets: Ezekiel Elliott, Christian McCaffrey, and James Robinson, who ranks 9th in FPG (19.2). Robinson’s usage is very good, but it hasn’t been as great as these numbers might imply – he ranks 20th in XFP per game (13.6), and fellow Jaguars RB Chris Thompson has run more routes on the season (76 vs. 62). However, usage tilted far more towards Robinson’s favor last week, running 27 routes to Thompson’s 13 on a 76% snap share. That’s highly encouraging, as is the fact that Robinson ranks behind only Alvin Kamara in YPRR (2.60).
For DFS this week (he’s badly mispriced on FanDuel), one of two things will happen –
1) Robinson and his 94% carry share will smash against Houston’s wimpy run defense, which ranks 3rd-worst in YPC allowed (5.38) and worst in rushing FPG allowed per game to opposing RBs (25.3).
2) They’ll get behind early as Vegas seems to imply they might (6.5-point underdogs), limiting his rushing expectation, while he cedes at least some percentage of routes to Chris Thompson. He can succeed even if the game goes that way (he did in Week 3), but just note (as we outlined in the Elliott section) negative game script is almost always less favorable than positive game script, even for bell cows.
Other / Notes
- Last week, Antonio Gibson ranked 5th in fantasy points (22.8) and 11th in XFP (18.4), earning 13 carries, 5 targets, and 3 opportunities inside the 5-yard-line. That’s the good news, but he was still just a part-time player in Week 4, playing on only 44% of the team’s snaps. That’s the concern, but he is exceedingly cheap. Unfortunately, playing Gibson feels like a leap of faith. He’s a dynamic play-maker, but (82 receiving yards last week aside) still isn’t being featured in the passing game. At least not to the degree that we’d expect from a converted-WR who is actually (are you listening, Ron Rivera / Scott Turner?) better in the passing game than he is in the running game. But maybe Kyle Allen – who targeted Christian McCaffrey on 22% of his attempts last year – will remedy that concern. As 7.5-point underdogs against the Rams, they’d need to. (Graham Barfield wrote him up in more detail from a contrarian angle here.)
- James Conner at minuscule ownership (3% projected) is very interesting to me. He’s averaging 17.0 carries, 3.5 targets, and 25.5 DK FPG over his last two games (on 71% of the snaps). The matchup isn’t great, but game script should work in his favor (-7.0), and it always has -- in a big way -- throughout his career.
- If Raheem Mostert sits out again, Jerick McKinnon becomes very interesting. In Week 4, McKinnon led all RBs in Snap% (92%) and ranked 6th in XFP (21.2). He’s seen at least 14 carries and 4 targets in each of his past two games, and Jeff Wilson didn’t damper his touchdown expectation too much (they’ve both scored twice over this span). Still, game script (-8.0) projects to be closer to Week 3 (Wilson had 15 touches) than Week 4 (4 touches). Maybe McKinnon is just their bell cow now, but that’s tough to bank on. And of course, if Mostert does play, he deserves consideration. Game script works in his favor, and he’s averaging an absurd 15.3 carries, 4.7 targets, 172.0 yards from scrimmage, and 21.7 fantasy points per four quarters this year. Even more absurdly, he’s averaging 6.05 YPC throughout his career, which ranks above any other RB to ever see as many carries. Still, if he plays at all, he’s likely to be limited.
- If wanting to get weird for tournaments, Miles Sanders, Joe Mixon, and Josh Jacobs are volume plays in tough matchups. They’ll draw very little ownership, but the matchups are bad. I like Mixon the best (at 3.5% projected ownership), coming off of a game in which he dropped 42.1 fantasy points while seeing true bell cow usage. He earned 83% of the snaps (4th-most on the week), while receiving 25 carries and 6 targets on 25 routes. Giovani Bernard, meanwhile, had just 2 carries and 0 targets on just 5 routes. If that sort of usage continues this week, even as 13.0-point underdogs in a bad matchup, he could be a slate-buster two weeks in a row.
- Similarly, no one will want to play Kenyan Drake after he flopped last week against Carolina, but he is averaging 16.8 carries per game and the Cardinals are favored by 7.5 points. He’s a bit banged up, but HC Kliff Kingsbury did say getting Drake back on track was a focal point for the offense this week. Matchup-wise the Jets are actually pretty good against the run (it’s the one thing they do well), so this game should look quite a bit like their game against Washington in Week 2 (22 touches, 95 yards, 11.5 fantasy points). But he’s not really a good play on paper – his floor is minuscule, and his ceiling is totally touchdown-dependent.
Robby Anderson, WR, Carolina Panthers
[DK: WR18, FD: WR18]
You may have drafted D.J. Moore as a top-10 WR this summer, but Anderson is looking like the clear WR1 on this team. Moore ranks 20th in XFP per game (13.9) and 41st in FPG (11.7). Anderson, meanwhile, ranks 15th in XFP per game (14.6) and 13th in FPG (18.0). Priced as just the No. 18 WR of the slate on FanDuel, and against Atlanta’s pass funnel defense (behind the 3rd-highest O/U of the slate), he’s a clear top value.
It’s also noteworthy to me, that when talking to my two go-to tape experts, both immediately brought up Anderson as a player who has impressed him and who is likely to go off this week. And for further validation, Wes Huber spent a great deal of effort trying to sell you on him here.
Marquise Brown, WR, Baltimore Ravens
[DK: WR13, FD: WR20]
Could it… Could it finally be Hollywood Brown week? We’ve waited all summer for Brown to go nuclear in the right spot. Graham Barfield seems to think so -- here’s what he had to say about Brown in Start / Sit:
Welcome to Hollywood week. Brown is a great buy-low candidate right now if any of your leaguemates are afraid of his somewhat slow start ahead of this potential eruption spot. This year, Brown has taken on a much larger role in the Ravens offense as he’s commanded 27% of Lamar Jackson’s targets and 43% of his air yards. Last year, Brown saw 19% of targets and 23% of air yards (when healthy). Brown is getting true WR1 volume this season and has a pristine matchup this week against this Bengals secondary that is allowing the second-most fantasy points per game to receivers aligned out wide. That’s where Hollywood runs 81% of his routes.
Brown is a top-10 value on FanDuel, mispriced by about $600 as per the DFS SuperModel. The only concern with him is the same concern we’ve had all season – as 13.0-point favorites, there’s little need for Baltimore to keep their foot on the gas. Still, a slate-busting game is always within his range of outcomes, and, as should already be obvious, we’re quite optimistic on Baltimore/Cincinnati being more competitive than the rest of the field seems to think.
Olamide Zaccheaus, WR, Atlanta Falcons
[DK: WR84, FD: WR72]
It's not often we get a minimum-priced WR coming off of the type of game Zaccheaus had last week – he saw a team-high 9 targets, catching 8 for 86 yards. The week prior, he caught 4 of 6 targets for 41 yards. With Julio Jones likely to sit out this week, Zaccheaus is firmly in play on DraftKings as one of the best salary-savers of the slate. While I’m not expecting a performance like the one he had last week, or for Calvin Ridley to again score zero fantasy points, it’s hard to imagine he doesn’t at least hit 3X value. Carolina has given up the 14th-most FPG to opposing outside WRs (where Zaccheaus runs nearly all of his routes), though they rank 7th-best against slot WRs and 10th best against TEs. And there should be plenty of scoring potential in a game with the 3rd-highest Over/Under of the slate (53.5, opened at 51.0).
Other / Notes
Listen, I’ll just be real with you – wide receiver is very tough this week. Very few names are popping like they did last week or the week before. But here are my thoughts:
- I already talked quite a bit about Darius Slayton in the QB section, but here it is again for posterity’s sake: “Still, Jones makes me nervous, so maybe the better play is Darius Slayton who is averaging 7.3 targets per game and ranks 10th in air yardage market share (37%). Dallas ranks 4th-worst in FPG allowed to opposing outside WRs (where Slayton runs 86% of his routes), and are giving up the 4th-most FPG to opposing WRs on deep passes, which is Slayton’s role in this offense. He ranks as our 7th-best WR value on DraftKings, as per the DFS SuperModel.” Graham Barfield likes Tate quite a bit from a contrarian angle, but I can’t see myself going that route.
- The high-priced WRs all need to be thought through. Looking at projected ownership, I think, will help make things a little bit easier on us. Tyreek Hill projects to be by far the lowest owned (6%), followed by DeAndre Hopkins (9%), and then Calvin Ridley (13%), and then Amari Cooper (20%). Cooper is averaging an absurd 12.8 targets and 22.8 DKFP per game, while hitting at least 80 yards in every game thus far. He has the toughest matchup of the group, likely to draw James Bradberry (who has been excellent this year) in shadow coverage. Though, it is notable he did see quite a bit of Jalen Ramsey in Week 1, and still walked away with a 10-81-0 line on 14 targets. I suspected Ridley might go low-owned after scoring 0.0 fantasy points on primetime last week, but it’s clear that’s not going to be the case. Prior to that game, he was averaging 11.7 targets and 29.8 FPG, with three straight 100-yard games. Carolina shut down a banged-up DeAndre Hopkins last week, but across their prior two games allowed both Mike Evans and Keenan Allen to exceed 100 yards while also walking away with a touchdown. He’s a very good play, especially if Zaccheus is going to be highly owned (though he’s currently at just 9%). As the highest-priced WR on both sites, Hopkins is fairly off my radar in a game that Arizona should win handily. Hill, however, is the most-compelling to me, and especially given our ownership projections. He’s scored 15.6, 21.8, 21.2, and 16.4 fantasy points this year, but has yet to go nuclear, as he’s been known to do. He’s hit 30.0 fantasy points six times since entering the league, which ranks behind only Michael Thomas. He runs 56% of his routes from the slot, which is where Las Vegas has been most vulnerable, giving up 75% (2nd-most) of their WR production to slot WRs. Behind a 33.5-point implied point total, this could be one of those weeks where we hear on Sunday night: “How’d I do? Not great. Didn’t have any Tyreek Hill.”
- Wes Huber, who has been on fire this year, wrote up Odell Beckham Jr. earlier in the week, but I don’t have the stones for it – Indianapolis’ track record (in the Matt Eberflus-era) against WR1s is too good. Later in the week, he made an extremely compelling case for Will Fuller and Tyler Boyd. I really like both and like both more than Brandin Cooks and Tee Higgins, but I should say (factoring in price and projected ownership), not dramatically more. Cooks is absurdly cheap, and though he flopped last week, it was also because Minnesota was treating him as the team’s true WR1, paying him extra defensive attention. That won’t be the case this week, and he -- believe it or not -- has seen only 4 fewer targets than Fuller through four weeks. Higgins, ranks 12th in XFP per game (15.1) over the last two weeks, totaling 16 targets, 9 catches, 130 total yards, and 2 scores. I like him a lot. And though Huber loves the matchup for Boyd, Marlon Humphrey worries me a bit more, personally.
- I like DeVante Parker for all of the reasons I liked him last week, except this time he’ll be 25% less owned. Adjust for time missed due to injury (Week 1 and Week 4), tough CB matchups (Week 1 and Week 2), and game script (Ryan Fitzpatrick threw only 20 times in Week 3), and it’s clear Fitzpatrick favors DeVante Parker as a true WR1 and is feeding him true WR1 volume. That’s pretty much what he said to reporters following Parker’s 10-110-0 line on 12 targets in Week 4, while also applauding his ability to get open in zone coverage. The 49ers aren’t a tough matchup by any stretch, starting backups at all 3 CB spots, they just haven’t played any WRs of note. But they do run zone coverage at one of the highest rates in the NFL (70%).
- It’s unlikely the Rams will need to pass very much this week, but Robert Woods shouldn’t go overlooked, and he will (6% projected ownership) after his slow start. Woods caught 6 of 8 targets for 105 yards in Week 1, and then faced a brutal CB schedule, drawing Darius Slay, Tre’Davious White, and James Bradberry in shadow coverage. If the targets are there, he could bounce-back in a big way.
- Diontae Johnson and Terry McLaurin are tough plays. I suspect they’ll both draw shadow coverage from one of the best CBs in the league (Darius Slay for Johnson, Jalen Ramsey for McLaurin) but that’s not a given. Still, I’d bet they do get shadow treatment. That makes JuJu Smith-Schuster somewhat intriguing, but I think I’m just bumping exposure to Eric Ebron.
- Dallas WRs Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb, and Michael Gallup rank (respectively), 2nd (20.0), 12th (15.2), and 53rd in XFP per game (10.2). We already touched on Cooper. Lamb is stupidly cheap on FanDuel as just the 23rd-highest-priced WR. If looking for exposure to one of these pass-catchers, he’s your best bet. Gallup isn’t really close, but he showed in Week 3 he has a nice ceiling for tournaments, and that’s sort of the role he’s played thus far (boom or bust, but high-ceiling), ranking 11th in air yards (403). Among main slate WRs, only Calvin Ridley, A.J. Green, Amari Cooper, Marquise Brown, and Odell Beckham Jr. rank higher.
- Some other guys I’m looking at for tournaments who could go lower owned? D.J. Chark, D.J. Moore, Sammy Watkins (gross, I know, but still), Mecole Hardman, Henry Ruggs, and Laviska Shenault.
High Priced Tight Ends
George Kittle is always in play. He’s a superhuman freak of nature, maybe the most valuable non-QB in football, and maybe my favorite player in football. But getting Jimmy Garoppolo back (in addition to Deebo Samuel) actually hurts his expectation, and I just outright think Travis Kelce and Darren Waller are better plays.
On paper, Las Vegas looks strong against TEs, but they also haven’t played anyone of note (CAR/NO/NE/BUF). Through 4 games, Kelce has scored 17.0, 24.0, 14.7, and 10.0 fantasy points, with his lowest output coming against New England (which should have been expected). More than anything, Kelce allows you to get a piece of Kansas City’s sky-high implied point total, which is 5.25 points above the 49ers and 13.0 points above the Raiders. He can also be counted on to put up WR numbers at a position that’s only really been putting up DST-type scores this year.
However, I think I like Darren Waller a little bit more, at a lower salary and lower projected ownership. Through four weeks, we’ve seen the following outputs from Waller: Week 1 (8 targets, 10.5 DKFP), Week 2 (16 targets, 31.5 DKFP), Week 3 (4 targets, 2.9 DKFP), and Week 4 (12 targets, 16.8 DKFP). Week 1 came against Carolina, which ranks as a top-3 defense against TEs over the past two seasons. Week 3 came in a game he entered hurt, and New England sold out to stop him (as they often do against an opponent’s best player). Week 2 and Week 4 were much better matchups against defenses that funnel volume to the TE position. Kansas City should also qualify – over the past two seasons, Kansas City ranks top-5 in schedule-adjusted FPG allowed to opposing WRs but bottom-10 against TEs. He might not have the same touchdown expectation as Kelce or Kittle, but feels like a lock for double-digit targets in a game that should offer Las Vegas plenty of garbage time.
Min. Price Tight End
Adam Trautman flopped in a big way last week, but there will always be credence to punting the TE position outright (on DraftKings) – and especially this season with TE being the absolute wasteland it’s been. (Just 3 main slate TEs cleared 60 yards last week, only 5 reached 11.0 fantasy points.) Punting TE allows us to pay up elsewhere, at the other more important positions that offer more upside. So, who is in play this week?
Trey Burton ($2,900), Harrison Bryant ($2,500), Gerald Everett ($2,500), and Richard Rodgers ($2,500) are all at least vaguely in play, and should at least be expected to eclipse Trautman’s Week 4 output (har har). My favorite among these is Burton, who earned 5 targets on a position-high 17 routes last week in his return to action. We should only expect those numbers to climb as he returns to full health, but he’ll probably remain only a part-time player in Week 5. Indianapolis TEs quietly rank 7th in receiving yards (271), and Frank Reich has a long history of coaxing elite fantasy production from the TE position. From 96 Stats:
2A. Across six seasons as NFL offensive coordinator or head coach, Frank Reich’s TE1 has averaged at least 13.0 FPG five times.
2B. That’s typically enough to rank top-5 or top-6 at the position in FPG.
2C. Last year was the first year Reich’s TE1 failed to average at least 13.0 FPG. Even so, Jack Doyle still led the team in targets.
Other / Notes
- Evan Engram, averaging 7.5 targets and 5.0 FPG, is looking mighty chalky this week. He might have been on my radar, but he won’t be any longer now that he’s projected to be the 2nd-highest-owned TE of the slate. He’s seeing good target quantity, but not good target quality, averaging just 33.8 air yards and 0.2 XTD per game. Further, he doesn’t look good. He doesn’t look quite right. And that’s exactly what we expected less than a year removed from Lisfranc surgery. Injury Expert Edwin Porras warned us about this in May – “Lisfranc injuries reduce NFL offensive players’ on-field production by an average of 21% in the first season following surgery.”
- I’d much prefer Dalton Schultz and Eric Ebron to Engram. Since the Blake Jarwin injury, Schultz is averaging 8.0 targets, 13.6 XFP, and 14.8 fantasy points per four quarters. Those numbers would rank 4th, 4th, and 6th among all TEs. But then again, they’ve gone so absurdly fast-paced and pass-heavy to start the season, and they might not need to go that route this week… Ebron has seen increasing usage in every game, topping off with a 79% route share last week, earning a team-high 7 targets, after seeing 5 the week before. Expect good volume again this week, with Darius Slay likely to shadow Diontae Johnson, who currently ranks 3rd among all WRs in targets per route run (0.28). Through four games, the Eagles have surrendered 13.7 (Logan Thomas), 28.4 (Tyler Higbee), 1.1 (Drew Sample, 1 target), and 40.1 fantasy points (George Kittle) to opposing TEs. He’s one of my favorite plays at the position.
- Zach Ertz is in play for tournaments. He’s done very little thus far, but is averaging 7.3 targets per game. He rounded out the 2019 season averaging 18.6 FPG across his final 7 games, but is averaging just 10.2 FPG this year. Philadelphia’s receiving corps is in shambles, so you’d think Carson Wentz has no choice but to pepper him with targets, but he saw just 5 last week, catching 4 for just 9 yards.
Shout out to the DFS Optimizer, which spit this out as the top DraftKings lineup after making only one change. This is a very strong cash lineup, and would be a great core for tournaments (where, in order to raise your ceiling, you’d want to stack your QB with at least one receiver and maybe also run it back with a player from the opposition):