Okay. So, we’ve gotten some complaints about the word-count on this bad boy, so we’ve decided to cut it short. This week I’ll just be writing up my Tier 1 and Tier 2 favorite plays at each position. I’m really just focusing on what I think are the best plays at each position.
Johnny is always telling me, “DFS is evolving, and we need to evolve with it.” DFS cash has gotten exceedingly more difficult. Tournaments are looking like a completely different game. As projections and DFS players have gotten better, knowing who the best plays are is becoming less and less important in contrast to game theory (how to then leverage off of those best plays). We’ll have a section on that at the end of the article.
Here we go….
Quarterbacks / Gamestacks
Cash is tough this week. Derek Carr is probably your best cheap option. And then in the middle tier, you have a tough choice between Justin Herbert and Deshaun Watson. I’m not totally sure of my lean at the moment, but I’ll offer more clarity in the update tomorrow. And, don’t forget – stacking an expensive QB with his RB is always in play as a means of lifting your floor, and there are a few different options (e.g. Deshaun Watson and David Johnson) if you want to go that route this week.
For tournaments… Oh boy…
All we’ve talked about on podcasts and livestreams is the importance of game theory, leverage, and stacking. And really, that’s what’s most important with the QB position. Who do you play? Whoever makes the most sense for your lineup. Make sure you’re optimally stacking, and don’t be afraid to full-on gamestack.
Derek Carr, QB, Las Vegas Raiders (DK: 4.8%, FD: 4.9%) / Justin Herbert, QB, Los Angeles Chargers (DK: 10.0%, FD: 9.9%)
Relative to price and ownership expectations, this might be my favorite game to gamestack. This game offers the 3rd-highest over/under of the slate (52.0) along with a close spread (+/- 1.0), implying shootout potential.
Here’s what I had to say of Carr earlier in the week:
….We should probably throw out last week’s game for Carr – Las Vegas and their opponent (Cleveland) had little success throwing the ball in a game with 25 mph sustained winds and gusts of up to 40 mph. This came after three-straight games hitting 20.0 or more fantasy points, despite tough matchups against the Bills, Chiefs, and Buccaneers. Coming into last week’s game, Carr ranked 14th among QBs in FPG (19.4), and that’s in spite of the league’s toughest QB schedule. His schedule has been worth 3.6 FPG below expectation, which, if added back to his (pre-Cleveland) average, would push him up to 23.0 FPG (would rank 7th-best). Los Angeles is the softest matchup he’s faced thus far, and worth an additional +3.3 points above his expectation (4th-most), which would push his per game up average even further to 26.3 fantasy points. While that’s probably still way too optimistic, he should be started with confidence as a low-end QB1 this week.
The Herbert argument is easier. Since Week 4 – his 3rd career start – Herbert ranks 2nd in FPG (28.3), scoring 24.0, 27.4, 38.5, and 23.2 fantasy points. He’s had the 3rd-toughest strength of schedule to-date, but Las Vegas profiles as a perfectly neutral matchup. Los Angeles appears to have finally taken the training wheels off, and he has absolutely no business being priced as just the 7th-highest-priced QB of the slate (on both sites).
Russell Wilson, QB, Seattle Seahawks (DK: 12.8%, FD: 13.4%) / Josh Allen, QB, Buffalo Bills (14.0%, FD: 14.1%)
Allen has long been one of the most matchup-sensitive QBs in fantasy football. Here’s what we had to say in the offseason: “Since entering the league, Josh Allen averages 25.8 FPG against bottom-12 defenses (by FPG allowed). If over a full season that would rank 6th-most all-time, comparable to Peyton Manning’s famed 2013 season (26.3).” That trend has remained true this year as well, though he’s faced just one opponent ranking bottom-12 in schedule-adjusted FPG, and owns our 4th-toughest QB schedule to-date (-1.9). This week? He gets the ultimate QB matchup, against a Seattle defense that’s allowing opposing QBs to exceed their per-game average by a league-high 7.9 FPG.
And then, what’s the argument for Russell Wilson? Well, he’s only $600 (DK) or $800 (FD) more expensive than Allen, and he’s Russell Wilson. He’s averaging 30.3 FPG, which not only leads the league, but it’s the most by any QB through his first 7 games of a season all-time. And his matchup is also attractive – Buffalo ranks 7th-worst in schedule-adjusted FPG allowed to opposing QBs (+2.1).
Deshaun Watson, QB, Houston Texans
DK: 11.4%, FD: 10.7%
Since Bill O’Brien was fired in Week 5, Watson ranks 1st in passing yards per game (334.3) and 4th in FPG (27.7), scoring 20.9, 26.9 (against Jacksonville in Week 5), 32.0, and 24.2 fantasy points. Jacksonville ranks 3rd-worst in FPG allowed to opposing QBs (23.2) and 5th-worst in passing fantasy points allowed per pass attempt. Behind the 4th-highest implied point total of the slate (28.5), there’s no question Houston smashes the Jaguars coming off of their bye, the only question is whether or not Houston will need to keep their foot on the gas, favored by 7.0-points against backup QB Jake Luton. Still, it’s hard to convince me I should be too worried about Ol’ Dusty David Johnson.
Wes Huber dug in deeper here.
Drew Lock, QB, Denver Broncos
DK: 6.0%, FD: 4.3%
I don’t think Lock is good. In fact, I think he’s bad.
But he is exceedingly cheap, in a top matchup, after dropping 248 yards and 3 touchdowns against the Chargers last week. Atlanta ranks 3rd-worst in opposing passer rating (110.0) and 2nd-worst in FPG allowed to opposing QBs (26.1). Outside of last week (a weird weather game), every opponent they’ve faced has reached 300-plus yards against them, averaging 344.4 per game (8.8 YPA). He gives you a lot of salary relief on DraftKings, allowing you to pay up for all of the other top flex-eligible players we’ll hype up later.
Kirk Cousins is Wes Huber’s favorite QB play of the slate. It’s not just that Cousins offers phenomenal leverage off of a chalky Dalvin Cook. In fact, that wasn’t even part of his analysis. He just thinks Cousins goes absolutely nuclear in this soft man-heavy matchup. I’m less bullish, but the argument was very compelling, and he does offer terrific leverage as a bonus.
Want to get weird? It’s not a great matchup, but Lamar Jackson is the cheapest he’s been in a long time, and that’s equally true for top receivers Mark Andrews and Marquise Brown. All are likely to draw contrarian levels of ownership, and we know each week they offer tournament-winning upside.
Or what about Patrick Mahomes or Teddy Bridgewater? These are two very good criminally underrated defenses, but this game also sports the 2nd-highest Over/Under of the slate (53.0). Kansas City’s implied point leads the week at 31.75 (+2.75 more than next-closest), and Mahomes just showed us last week why he should never go lower-owned.
Kyler Murray could be an absolute slate-buster against Miami this week. Russell Wilson’s 2020 season ranks first in fantasy points through 8 games all-time, but Murray ranks 3rd (28.9 FPG). Miami is tough against the pass, but extremely vulnerable against mobile QBs. They run man coverage at one of the highest rates in the league, forcing defensive backs to turn their backs to the QB, creating room for them to run. We’ve seen mobile QBs like Josh Allen (34.5, 33.8, 21.3), Lamar Jackson (33.6), Cam Newton (25.7) dice them up over the past two seasons. (Bill Belichick’s similarly-styled defenses have long had the same problem.) Murray (62.4 rushing YPG, 12.2 rushing FPG) is on pace for the most rushing fantasy points by any QB in any season since the NFL merger.
Ben Roethlisberger is going to be able to do whatever Ben Roethlisberger wants to do against this hapless Dallas defense. There’s a chance he goes nuclear (something we haven’t yet seen from him this season) at low ownership (think Patrick Mahomes last week against the Jets), but I’m betting instead on a big game from James Conner.
Dalvin Cook, RB, Minnesota Vikings
DK: 29.6%, FD: 29.6%
Cook was a slate-buster in Week 8, scoring 48.6 fantasy points on 33 touches in a dream matchup against the Packers. He’ll be chalky in Week 9, but it’s not all recency-bias – he’s also popping as our top overall value on DraftKings, mispriced by about $1,100 as per the DFS SuperModel.
Cook has hit 17.0 DKFP in every game thus far, averaging 28.7 per game, which leads all non-QBs. Minnesota is favored by 4.0-points, playing behind the 4th-highest implied point total of the slate (28.0). And that spread feels low – Matthew Stafford is questionable, and since 2018 Minnesota is 4-0 against Detroit, winning each game by 12 or more points. Detroit is now giving up the 2nd-most FPG to opposing RBs (31.6, 2.0 behind Green Bay), after getting gashed by Indianapolis (44.6) and Atlanta RBs (28.2) over their last two games.
Chase Edmonds, RB, Arizona Cardinals
DK: 30.3%, FD: 29.6%
“Underpriced backup RB now thrust into a starting role” has long been a DFS print-fest, and usually where we find the top overall value in any given week. But Edmonds isn’t exactly cheap, priced as the No. 6 (DK) and No. 13 (FD) highest-priced RB on the slate. Still, he’s glaringly a top value. Here’s what we had to say in Start/Sit:
With Drake out, start Edmonds with confidence as a lock-and-load RB1. The fact of the matter is, Edmonds has fully earned the bell cow workload he’s about to get. Edmonds has played much better than Drake, has looked much better than Drake, and Arizona’s offense has been much better with Drake off the field. Drake and Edmonds are the only Arizona RBs to play a single offensive snap this year, so I’m not expecting much competition for touches from Eno Benjamin or Jonathan Ward. And this week’s matchup is great – Miami is a top run funnel defense, ranking 4th-worst in YPC allowed (4.96) but 4th-best in opposing passer rating (81.7). They’re giving up the 7th-most FPG to opposing RBs, and Edmonds ranks 29th in FPG (12.0) despite handling just 43% of the team’s backfield XFP thus far. Should we just double his FPG and use that as the expectation this week? Maybe.
Bonus Stat: In the Kliff Kingsbury-era, there are 13 instances of an Arizona RB handling 70-plus percent of the team’s snaps. Collectively, Arizona’s RBs average 24.0 FPG in those games. That includes Week 7 of last season when Edmonds scored 35.0 fantasy points on 95% of the team’s snaps.
James Conner, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers
DK: 20.2%, FD: 15.0%
According to our projections, Conner is popping as the top overall RB value on both DraftKings and FanDuel. Here’s what we had to say about him in Start/Sit:
Since 2018, Conner averages 21.5 FPG in wins and ties, but only 11.5 FPG in losses. He averages 24.0 FPG in games Pittsburgh has won by 7 or more points. Good news! The Steelers are 14.0-point favorites, and against a Dallas defense that ranks 3rd-worst in YPC allowed (4.97) and 2nd-worst in rushing FPG allowed (19.9) to opposing RBs. Start Conner with confidence as a mid-range RB1 this week, and especially with potential touchdown-vulture Benny Snell seeing his snap count dwindle to 6 and then 0 over the past two weeks.
Justin Jackson, RB, Los Angeles Chargers
DK: 12.3%, FD: 9.4%
Jackson has seen 15-plus carries and 5-plus targets in 2 of his last 3 games. The other game? Yeah, Week 7 wasn’t great (5 carries, 6 targets). So, Jackson seems to be pretty game script-sensitive – Week 7 was a blowout victory, and the other two big-volume games came in tight losses. Projected game script is a little shaky, but mostly in his favor this week, as 1.0-point underdogs. RB Troymaine Pope – who saw 10 carries and 7 targets last week – is doubtful this week. The Raiders rank 5th-worst in YPC allowed (4.82), 10th-worst in rushing FPG allowed (16.2), 9th-worst in receiving FPG allowed (12.9), and 6th-worst in total FPG allowed (29.1) to opposing RBs. He’s a top value on DraftKings, as just the 20th-highest-priced RB of the slate ($5,900).
David Johnson, RB, Houston Texans
DK: 15.0%, FD: 15.1%
Deshaun Watson is going to be mighty chalky this week, but Johnson is popping as one of our top overall values on DraftKings. He hasn’t at all flashed a ceiling, but he has scored between 11.0 and 20.0 fantasy points in 6 of 7 games. His volume is also a good deal better than you realize. He ranks 5th in XFP per game since Week 4 (18.3), averaging 16.5 carries, 3.3 targets, and 2.3 opportunities inside the 5-yard-line per game. And this is no longer an RBBC – Johnson ranks 3rd among RBs in Snap% since Week 5 (80%), despite mixed game scripts (2 blowout losses, 1 blowout victory) over this span. Game script should be good this week, favored by 7.0-points against a backup QB, and playing behind the 3rd-highest implied point total of the slate (28.5). Jacksonville is certainly bad against the pass, but they’re giving up 6.2 more FPG to RBs than QBs. And they rank 2nd-worst in schedule-adjusted FPG allowed to opposing RBs (+6.6).
Derrick Henry, RB, Tennessee Titans (DK: 17.8%, FD: 11.0%) / Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina Panthers
(DK: 13.0%, FD: 13.1%)
Dalvin Cook is the top RB value on DraftKings, and is really a great play. But he’s also going to be massively owned. McCaffrey and Henry are both strong alternatives while also offering price leverage. Henry averages 23.2 FPG across his last 14 games, hitting at least 19.0 DKFP in 79% of these games and 24.5 DKFP in 57%. Chicago is a below-average matchup on paper, but they’re also one of the league’s top run funnels. McCaffrey’s matchup, however, is far and away the biggest run funnel in the league. Adjusting for game script, teams are running against Kansas City 8% more than what should be expected. They’ve seen the 2nd-most rushing attempts and 3rd-most RB touches, despite routinely leading by a wide margin. McCaffrey is about $1,500 less than his typical price-tag, and, I mean… It’s Christian freaking McCaffrey. Still, there’s a chance he doesn’t quite see his typical 99% Snap%, in his first game back and after Mike Davis’ impressive stay in his absence.
Josh Jacobs, RB, Las Vegas Raiders
DK: 9.4%, FD: 21.0%
The concern with Jacobs is always related to game script. He was one of the most game script-sensitive RBs last year, and has been one of the most game script-sensitive RBs this year. In victories, he’s averaging 22.5 XFP and 21.2 fantasy points per game. In losses, he’s averaging 13.4 XFP and 8.9 fantasy points per game. Basically, that’s the difference between a top-3 RB and a low-end RB3. Game script is a little shaky this week (1.0-point underdogs), but he’s a little too cheap on both sites, and one of our top regression candidates (per XFP) in a soft on-paper matchup. The Chargers rank bottom-6 in YPC allowed (5.49) and FPG allowed to opposing RBs (28.6) since Week 5. He’s a strong value and a top boom-or-bust tournament play.
DeeJay Dallas, RB, Seattle Seahawks
DK: 3.1%, FD: 4.5%
Chris Carson and Carlos Hyde are OUT. It’s looking like Travis Homer (limited in practice Thursday and Friday) will play. If he plays as little as he did last week (7 snaps, 1 touch), which is unlikely, Dallas would be a true must-play. In Week 8, Dallas played on 53 of 67 snaps (79%), earning 18 of 20 carries and 5 of 6 targets. In total, he scored 22.8 fantasy points (3rd-most) on 25.3 XFP (3rd-most), earning 99% of the backfield XFP (2nd-most) and 28% of the team’s XFP (5th-most). I’m projecting something close to a 65/35 split for Dallas this week, but wouldn’t be shocked if he again sees a bell cow workload.
Tony Pollard, RB, Dallas Cowboys
DK: 0%, FD: 0%
Pittsburgh is an absolutely brutal matchup for any RB, and Dallas has the lowest implied point total of the week (14.25, 3.25 less than the Jets). Even so, if Ezekiel Elliott (currently questionable with a hamstring) is ruled out, Pollard becomes a borderline must-play. And if Elliott is active, but severely limited, Pollard becomes a very strong play at-worst. For a few weeks now, Greg Cosell has continually griped on our livestreams that “this does not look like the same Ezekiel Elliott on tape.” I’ll dig deeper into this situation in the Sunday AM Update.
Other: David Montgomery has never hit 25.0 fantasy points in his entire career. Okay, true, but he’s also seeing top-5 usage in recent weeks, and (to my surprise) Greg Cosell has been raving about how good looks on tape (while trashing the offensive line). There are better plays, but he’s a decent value on FanDuel… Antonio Gibson is similarly a little too cheap on FanDuel this week. We keep waiting for Gibson to finally receive the bell cow workload he so rightfully deserves. According to narrative street that typically comes after a rookie RB’s bye week. And as it just so happens, Washington is coming off of their bye, favored by 2.5-points against the Giants… James Robinson has the on-paper matchup on his side, but game script makes me a little queasy. Chris Thompson is back, and they’re 7.0-point underdogs with Jake Luton under center. There’s a chance he returns to the elite bell cow workload he saw in Week 7 before their bye but it’s not a lock…
Tyler Lockett, WR, Seattle Seahawks
DK: 20.0%, FD: 19.1%
Lockett ranks 2nd among WRs in FPG (21.2), but he ranks just 9th in salary on DraftKings this week ($6,800), and it really is just that simple. But wait, it gets better!
D.K. Metcalf is projected to draw shadow coverage from Tre’Davious White, who ranks 7th-best of 104 qualifying CBs in fantasy points allowed per snap in coverage over the past two seasons. And keep in mind, that’s despite routinely shadowing the best WRs in the NFL. In any case, this tough matchup for Metcalf should help funnel targets in Lockett’s direction. And Buffalo has struggled against slot WRs this year. They haven’t really faced many slot WRs of note, but the two they have (Jamison Crowder and Cooper Kupp) both scored between 24.5 and 26.0 fantasy points. They led their team in targets those weeks, as did slot WRs Isaiah Ford (Week 2), Hunter Renfrow (Week 4), Braxton Berrios (Week 7), and Jakobi Meyers (Week 8). In a week without much WR value, Lockett stands well ahead of the rest of the pack on DraftKings.
Stefon Diggs, WR, Buffalo Bills
DK: 15.2%, FD: 20.9%
Diggs has been a quiet revelation in 2020, ranking 4th in XFP per game (16.9) and 12th in FPG (17.7). But he’s No. 1 in our projections this week, in a dream matchup against a historically bad Seattle secondary. Opposing WRs are out-scoring their per-game average by a whopping +23.8 FPG when facing Seattle. For perspective that’s 2.8X as much as the next-closest defense (Cleveland, +8.4). In just 7 games this year, Seattle has allowed 5 different WRs to reach 25.0-plus fantasy points, 8 WRs to reach 23.0-plus, and 11 WRs to reach 20.0-plus fantasy points.
Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons
DK: 16.2%, FD: 16.7%
Jones is averaging 10.3 targets, 132.0 yards, and 24.2 FPG in 4 healthy games this year. Calvin Ridley and his 8.5 targets per game (22% target share) are likely out this week. At the very least, it’s likely he’ll be limited. Denver is one of the top pass funnels in the NFL and a soft WR matchup, giving up the 9th-most FPG to opposing outside WRs (23.9). It’s a soft matchup on paper, but even softer when digging in deep, which Wes Huber did here. Julio Jones historically dominates against Denver’s primary coverage shells (Cover-1 and Cover-3). Picking between Diggs and Jones (and Keenan Allen) is likely going to be one of the most important and difficult decisions of the slate.
Keenan Allen, WR, Los Angeles Chargers
DK: 21.9%, FD: 23.9%
Adjusting for the fact that Allen played in only one quarter in Week 5, he’s averaging 20.2 XFP, 22.7 FPG, 102.7 air yards, and 13.0 targets per four quarters since Justin Herbert took over in Week 2. Even more ludicrously, he’s been targeted on 34% of Herbert’s throws over this span. That’s elite high-end WR1 volume and production. Look for another big game this week against a Raiders slot funnel defense that is allowing the 7th-most FPG to slot WRs but the 4th-fewest FPG to outside WRs. He’s a top value on both sites.
Justin Jefferson, WR, Minnesota Vikings
DK: 9.4%, FD: 5.6%
Wes Huber is all the way in on Jefferson this week, writing him up twice. He just wanted to “make sure that the message for exposure to Jefferson is loud and clear.” I’ll let you read it for yourself (here and here), but Jefferson is a great play, and a strong value on both sites.
Brandin Cooks, WR, Houston Texans
DK: 11.2%, FD: 15.5%
Since the Bill O’Brien firing, Cooks has seen 12, 9, and 9 targets, totaling 30.1, 21.8, and 13.0 fantasy points. Will Fuller has seen 5 fewer targets along with 9 fewer catches and 73 fewer yards, but he has found the end zone in 5 straight games. Lean Cooks this week, who is cheaper, and has the softer matchup, with Fuller likely to see much of Sidney Jones. Wes Huber went in deep on this matchup here.
- Your cheap WR punts are probably (in order): Marvin Hall (backup connection ftw), Marcus Johnson, Danny Amendola, Darnell Mooney, and K.J. Hamler. But truthfully, I don’t expect to roster any of them this week.
- As evident from our write up on Diggs, there’s quite a bit of room to go around for multiple WRs to smash against Seattle. They’re simultaneously giving up the most FPG to both outside and slot (Cole Beasley) WRs. They’re allowing the most FPG to WRs on deep passes (John Brown). They rank bottom-3 in schedule-adjusted FPG allowed to WR1s, WR2s, and WR3s. Cole Beasley has the higher median projection, and is probably the better value, but John Brown has more upside for tournaments. They’re both great plays.
- Allen Robinson is a monster. You know this. He’s always in play. He averages 10.4 targets per game and 17.4 FPG across his last 14 games. Tennessee has no pass rush and a bottom-tier secondary. They’re giving up the 4th-most FPG to outside WRs, and the 7th-most schedule-adjusted FPG to opposing WR1s. There’s a chance Malcolm Butler (the league’s most fantasy-friendly CB since 2018) shadows, after shadowing in each of his last two games, and if he does… Oh boy. Game over.
- After hyping him all offseason, and then touting him in multiple weeks for DFS, Marquise Brown has made me look quite foolish. Still, I believe strongly in his talent and he continues to get open. He’s just not seeing a lot of volume, nor accurate targets. He has a brutal matchup this week, but is a little too cheap on FanDuel, and does have the squeaky wheel narrative working in his favor.
- I like A.J. Brown if he’s likely to go low-owned in a perceived tough matchup. Chicago’s defense is designed to take away anything vertical, while leaving the middle of the field vulnerable to YAC monsters who run horizontal intermediate routes. Brown doesn’t at all run a vertical route tree but is most prolific and dangerous where Chicago is most vulnerable.
- All I’ve heard from film experts this week is how amazing Jerry Jeudy looks on tape. “Bro, he gets open at will. He might already be the best route runner in the NFL.” The lack of volume and production has been alarming, but he is fresh off of a high-volume game, though, with unfortunately little to show for it. In Week 8, he totaled 17.1 XFP (10th-most), on 10 targets, 154 air yards, and 4 deep targets. He only scored 11.3 fantasy points, but, again, this sort of volume is encouraging. If Tim Patrick is out, he’ll stick on the outside, where Atlanta is most vulnerable. They’re giving up the 3rd-most FPG to outside WRs but the 9th-fewest to slot WRs. However, I’d look to pivot if Patrick is back.
- Wes Huber hyped up Mike Williams quite a bit here. He’s an excellent value on DraftKings and a slightly less excellent but still good value on FanDuel.
- Diontae Johnson every week? Diontae Johnson every week! He’s risky, but cheap, and we’ve only ever seen ceiling games when he’s played through the first-half without injury.
- In order… Laviska Shenault, D.J. Moore, and Chase Claypool are all a little too cheap on DraftKings. Claypool, Sterling Shepard, Sheunault, and Robby Anderson are all a little too cheap on FanDuel.
Darren Waller, TE, Las Vegas Raiders
DK: 11.8%, FD: 17.3%
Waller ranks 1st among TEs in XFP per game (15.1), and ranks 3rd in FPG (14.3). Excluding last week’s game (due to weather) and Week 3 against the Patriots (where he was hurt), Waller is averaging 10.2 targets per game and 17.9 FPG. Those numbers would rank 5th- and 11th-best among WRs. And yet, Waller is just the 3rd-highest-priced TE on FanDuel this week ($1,600 less than Kelce), or the 20th-highest-priced WR. Against a Chargers defense that is giving up the 5th-most schedule-adjusted FPG to opposing TEs (+3.0), he’s your top TE value of the week (on FanDuel).
Noah Fant, TE, Denver Broncos
DK: 16.8%, FD: 16.5%
Fant ranks 6th in FPG per game (11.9), 5th in XFP per game (11.9), and 5th in targets per game (7.2), earning between 6 and 10 targets in each of his last 4 games. He’s no longer on the injury report with an ankle injury (which might have impacted his performance over the past few weeks), and he’s now back to his typical 75-80% route share. I’m projecting a blow-up game this week, in a dream matchup against the Falcons. Opposing TEs are out-scoring their per-game average by a league-high 9.4 FPG (over 2x as much as the next-closest defense) when facing Atlanta. Ian Thomas is the only TE who has flopped against them (because, of course), but Robert Tonyan (33.8), Jimmy Graham (24.0), Dalton Schultz (23.8), and Greg Olsen (16.9) all went off for monster games. He’s your best option on DraftKings and your second-best option on FanDuel.
Mark Andrews, TE, Baltimore Ravens
DK: 6.4%, FD: 7.1%
Make no mistake, this is an absolutely brutal matchup, as Wes Huber made abundantly clear here. And, for sure, Andrews is struggling this year, averaging just 39.3 YPG and 11.5 FPG. Still, it’s Mark Andrews, and he’s only $4,800 on DraftKings. And really, that’s just about the only analysis I need. He started off the season at $6,000, and he’s still the No. 3 TE of the week per expert consensus rankings. He’s not a must-play by any stretch, but he also shouldn’t be $4,800.
Travis Kelce, TE, Kansas City Chiefs
DK: 9.4%, FD: 14.4%
Kelce is putting up mid-range WR1 numbers at a position we’ve come to be happy with… what? 9.0 fantasy points? He leads Waller in FPG by +3.8, and then the next-closest TE by +5.9. He’s not cheap by any stretch, and maybe not even a value, but he does offer a sky-high ceiling in a very attractive matchup most others will miss.
Irv Smith Jr., TE, Minnesota Vikings
DK: 2.5%, FD: 1.3%
Smith is far and away your best cheap TE of the week over on DraftKings. Wes Huber made a compelling argument for him earlier in the week in Advanced Matchups. “[O]ver the last three weeks, Smith has run 73, 79, and 83 percent of routes to Rudolph’s 55, 60, and 56 percent. As for target shares, Rudolph has received 5, 13, and 7 percent shares compared to Smith’s very consistent 11, 15, and 14 percent. We only need Smith to cover 8.7 FPs on DK at $2.9K.” He has a great matchup against Detroit’s man-heavy defense, and one in which Kirk Cousins historically dominates.
Hunter Henry, TE, Los Angeles Chargers
DK: 7.9%, FD: 8.0%
Another week, another Hunter Henry write up. Henry continues to underwhelm, in spite of good volume, all while the Los Angeles passing game continues to smash. He’s again at least a little too cheap this week, and on both sites. He saw just 4 targets last week (after seeing 7 or 8 in 5 of his prior 6 games), but led all Week 8 TEs in routes run. Henry is a top TE talent, who has long ranked as one of the most efficient TEs in the game (on a per-target-basis). Regression is coming, I promise you. He’s at least a little too cheap on DraftKings in a perfectly neutral matchup against the Raiders… But Hayden Hurst is a similarly good value, and especially if Calvin Ridley sits – he’s hit 50-plus receiving yards in 4 of his last 5 games, and saw 7 targets in each of his last two games. The matchup against Justin Simmons has me leaning Henry, however. I’ll provide clarity tomorrow in the update.
Current Chalk (Per FanShare Projections)
1. Chase Edmonds (30.3%)
2. Dalvin Cook (29.6%)
3. Keenan Allen (21.9%)
4. James Conner (20.2%)
5. Tyler Lockett (20.0%)
6. Derrick Henry (17.8%)
7. Noah Fant (16.8%)
8. Julio Jones (16.2%)
9. Stefon Diggs (15.2%)
10. David Johnson (15.0%)
1. Dalvin Cook (29.6%)
2. Chase Edmonds (29.6%)
3. Keenan Allen (23.9%)
4. Josh Jacobs (21.0%)
5. Stefon Diggs (20.9%)
6. Tyler Lockett (19.1%)
7. Steelers DEF (18.6%)
8. Robby Anderson (17.8%)
9. Darren Waller (17.3%)
10. Julio Jones (16.7%)
Leverage (for Tournaments)
Cousins (2.0% ownership) stacks are a phenomenal leverage play off of Dalvin Cook. If you trust Wes Huber, who LOVES Cousins, Adam Thielen, Irv Smith Jr., and especially Justin Jefferson, it’s a once or twice per season type of call.
Kyler Murray or one of the WRs is the leverage play off of Chase Edmonds. And it’s not hard to imagine a scenario where he vultures all of the touchdowns, while Edmonds disappoints.
Mike Williams (who Wes Huber also loves, but not necessarily as it relates to ownership) is leverage off of Keenan Allen.
Diontae Johnson or Chase Claypool is the preferred leverage play off of James Conner. Johnson is my lean, but by now you know by bias.
DK Metcalf is a phenomenal leverage play off of Tyler Lockett. Metcalf smashed against Stephon Gilmore, and, if he can do that, there’s nothing he can’t do. Both WRs are extremely negatively correlated this year, and though Lockett is the preferred option, there’s a good chance it’s Metcalf who smashes and not Lockett this week.
A.J. Brown is leverage off of Derrick Henry. And he’s projected to go way too low-owned (3%) in a perceived bad (but not actually bad) matchup. Ryan Tannehill at a lowly 1% is another strong contrarian as well as leverage play.