This is the best DFS week that we’ve had all year. With the Seahawks-Cardinals moved back to Sunday Night and DraftKings and FanDuel keeping that game and Buccaneers-Raiders on the main slate, we have a jam-packed 12 game week that features eight games with game totals of 49 or more points. Sunday night sweat is back! (At least for one week.) Plus, we have plenty of injury angles that have opened up a ton of value across the board.
Note: All ownership projections in this column come from our projections powered by FanShare.
Let’s get to it all…
Leverage stacks with tournament-winning upside
With so many intriguing games/plays this week, we’re going to see some teams go completely under-owned despite being in favorable matchups. Here are a few:
Joe Burrow and Tyler Boyd and/or Tee Higgins along with Kareem Hunt
Since Joe Mixon (foot) is out this week, everyone is going to flock onto Gio Bernard ($4,500 DK; $4,800 FD) as the top value running back. One way to generate leverage off of what will be a very popular Bernard is to stack a cheap Burrow ($5,500 DK; $7,100 FD) with one or both of his top receivers. Tyler Boyd has seen at least 20% of the team’s targets in four-straight games and draws the best matchup on the Browns this week against this Bengals secondary that is allowing the seventh-most fantasy points and eighth-most yards per game through the slot. After clearing 60 yards or scoring a touchdown in four-straight games, Higgins is just a glaring value on FanDuel ($5,700)
Burrow is way overdue for scoring progression, too. And it may just come in this spot. While Burrow is first in pass attempts (246), but he’s a lowly 29th in passing touchdown rate (2.9%). The Browns have allowed multiple passing scores in 4-of-6 games this season with only Philip Rivers (dust) and Ben Roethlisberger (only threw it 22 times) failing against them.
Kareem Hunt will be the highest-owned running back on both sites this week and if he dominates on the ground and the Browns hold a lead throughout the game, the Bengals will have to throw a ton to keep up. A Bengals stack plus Hunt is an easy way to play what may be the best running back on the slate and have a unique roster.
Ryan Tannehill and A.J. Brown along with James Conner, Chase Claypool or Diontae Johnson
I wrote about Steelers-Titans in Pace Points and highlighted how this game has sneaky shootout potential. Matchups may not matter to the Terminator Derrick Henry, but this is arguably the toughest one he’ll face this season. Pittsburgh is No. 1 in FootballOutsiders run defense DVOA and has allowed the fewest rushing fantasy points per game to opposing backfields — so if the Steelers front-seven can indeed slow Henry down, the Titans will have to rely on their passing attack to win. It also doesn’t help that the Titans will be without LT Taylor Lewan (ACL).
Pittsburgh’s secondary hasn’t really been tested in three of their five games against the Giants, Broncos, and Browns, but they’ve quietly allowed the third-most fantasy points per game to outside wide receivers which is where A.J. Brown runs the majority of his routes. Outside of Russell Wilson, no quarterback is hotter than Ryan Tannehill. Since taking over as the Titans starter, Tannehill has scored 19 or more fantasy points in 11-of-16 games while Brown is averaging 4 receptions, 72 yards, and 0.6 TDs per game in this span. Our projections have Tannehill pegged for 3% ownership and Brown at 5%. Oh baby.
On the Steelers side, Chase Claypool and Diontae Johnson are too cheap on both DraftKings and FanDuel and are easy candidates to fully stack this game. Claypool’s price just hasn’t increased nearly enough for his role while Johnson’s price has cratered after he’s basically missed all of the last three games due to injury. Johnson has to be back close to 100% since he’s practiced in full all week. Meanwhile, James Conner is going to catch sub-5% ownership on Sunday with so many great running back options in play. Anytime we can get a bell-cow at low-ownership and in a great matchup, it’s always going to be a sharp play. Conner has played on 68% of Steelers snaps over his last four games — which is the ninth-highest rate among RBs — while the Titans front-seven has been leaky against the run (second-most YPC allowed; second-highest explosive run rate).
Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs
On DraftKings, Allen’s price is juiced up at $7,700 despite coming off of two “bad” games where he scored 18.3 and 16.1 fantasy points. With Russell Wilson at $8,000, Kyler Murray at $7,100, and Deshaun Watson at $6,800 — Allen is going to go overlooked as the majority of people will focus on other games. That’s a mistake. This isn’t groundbreaking news, but the Jets defense is 31st in FootballOutsiders’ pass defense DVOA metrics, they’ve allowed the second-highest completion rate (72.5%), and the fifth-most explosive gains of 15+ yards through the air. And with John Brown out this week, Allen will rely even more heavily on Stefon Diggs as his main target. An Allen to Diggs stack has 60-point upside this week and both will come in under 10% ownership.
Chris Carson is going overlooked… again
Cardinals-Seahawks is the best game on this slate and I think it’ll end up being the most popular as well. And for good reason! Considering the price on DraftKings ($7,100), Kyler Murray is the No. 1 quarterback on this slate by a landslide. Murray has possessed one of the highest floors and ceilings among all players this season, finishing as the weekly QB5 > QB5 > QB10 > QB6 > QB5 > QB3 in his six starts The Seahawks can’t play man coverage and leave massive rushing lanes open for Murray, which will force their defense to stick with zone at an incredibly high rate. In their first five games, Seattle has played zone coverage 79% of the time — and Murray has fared much better against it, averaging 8.5 yards per attempt vs. zone and just 7.0 YPA when defenses are in man coverage.
It’ll be really hard to get away from using Murray to DeAndre Hopkins or Christian Kirk stacks on Sunday.
However, one way to differentiate your Cardinals and Seahawks lineups will simply be to play Chris Carson. With Kareem Hunt sitting at a similar price point on DraftKings and a cheaper price point on FanDuel, he’s going to naturally pull ownership away from Carson. Plus, most people stacking Seahawks will just stick in Tyler Lockett or D.K. Metcalf with Russell Wilson and call it a day. Remember, Carson is being used way more as a pass-catcher this season — he’s caught three or more passes in every game — and if Carlos Hyde (shoulder) misses his third-straight game, he’ll command the lion's share of backfield work. When Hyde missed Week 4-5, Carson handled 75% of the RB opportunities (attempts + targets) and 78% of the expected fantasy points per Scott Barrett.
Outside of the box angle for Falcons-Lions
I’m very curious to see how ownership shakes out in this game. Arizona-Seattle and Green Bay-Houston are going to be the two most popular game stacks, which could potentially leave a few players in Detroit-Atlanta under-owned.
I haven’t played Todd Gurley yet, but this is about as good of a situation we could see this year. The Falcons are at home and favored to win in a potential shootout in one of the best matchups a running back could possibly see. The Lions are absolutely hemorrhaging fantasy points to every runner that has faced them and are allowing the seventh-most rushing fantasy points and second-most scrimmage yards per game to opposing backs. At just $6,000 on DraftKings and $6,600 on FanDuel, Gurley has 2 TD potential at what should be fairly moderate 10-12% ownership.
One way to create leverage in your lineup and play Gurley this week is if you’re stacking Lions on the other side. Why? Well, consider the path that Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, and Calvin Ridley need to take to underwhelm. Wouldn’t it most likely involve a couple of short scores for Gurley?
Detroit has been one of the most annoying teams for fantasy this year because they have turned Matthew Stafford into a game manager at times and refuse to unleash D’Andre Swift and T.J. Hockenson — but if this game does shootout with Atlanta dictating the pace and scoring, it’ll give Stafford and his pass-catchers nuclear upside. The Lions are the sixth-most pass-heavy team in the league when trailing and a few extra pass attempts for Stafford will go a long way against this Falcons secondary that has given up at least 313 passing yards in every game so far this season.
Antonio Gibson in tournaments?
Even though Antonio Gibson ($5,000 DK; $5,700 FD) isn’t seeing the passing down usage that we’d like to see, he is getting all of the work in scoring range. Over Washington’s last four games, Gibson has handled four of Washington’s 5 carries inside of the five-yard line. With everyone on a much cheaper Gio Bernard, I suspect Gibson will be lightly owned in what could be a potential blowup spot. Dallas has already allowed seven rushing scores from inside of the five-yard line (third-most) and they rank bottom-eight in all of the key defensive categories on the ground (YPC allowed, DVOA, and yards per game).
CEH in tournaments?
With Le’Veon Bell making his Chiefs debut, most people are going to shy away from Clyde Edwards-Helaire ($6,100 DK; $7,000 FD) at his depressed price. Edwards-Helaire has suffered from bad touchdown luck unlike any player in the NFL this year despite having an insanely high floor. Through the first six weeks, only Derrick Henry and Alvin Kamara are averaging more scrimmage yards per game than CEH. Keep in mind, has had two touchdowns negated due to penalties in his last three games and has seen 11 carries inside of the 10-yard line and failed to score on any of them. Based on that red-zone volume, CEH should have scored at least three times already. If Bell is only used as a Darrel Williams replacement early on, Edwards-Helaire’s path to 18-22 touches and scoring upside is still fully intact. And, as 8.5-point road favorites over the Broncos, the Chiefs should be in another run-heavy game script this week.
If you want to punt tight end and pay up elsewhere…
… play Harrison Bryant. With Austin Hooper (appendectomy) sidelined this week, the Browns will be down to Bryant and David Njoku as their top two tight ends. Even though Baker Mayfield is a shell of himself, this matchup is fantastic for Bryant — who is priced at the minimum on DraftKings and near the minimum on FanDuel ($4,400). The Bengals are allowing the fourth-most yards per game (67.3) to tight ends and the 11th-most schedule-adjusted fantasy points to tight ends. We can’t expect Bryant to see more than 3-4 targets, but on another fairly weak tight end slate, Bryant opens up the option to spend up on more important positions.
Good luck this week!