The great thing about DFS is that every slate is unique and no week is the same. Unlike last week where we had two amazing values at running back in Jamaal Williams and Gio Bernard that opened up the entire slate and resulted in ridiculous scores, Week 8 is totally different. Salary is much tighter this week, we have a handful of gross matchups, and some windy weather concerns in Buffalo, Cleveland, Green Bay, and Chicago.
The weather in particular will be a big news story on Sunday. But how much do windy conditions actually affect fantasy?
Well, since 2014, QBs average -1.8 DraftKings and -1.4 FanDuel fantasy points below expectation (based on salary) when winds are sustained over 15mph according to FantasyLabs trends tools. Here’s how the numbers look at the other positions…
So, what this means is that if you’re projecting a quarterback to score 19.5 fantasy points on DraftKings — we should expect a slight 9% decrease in output when winds exceed 15mph. Also note that pass catchers are barely affected by windy conditions.
On the flip side, running backs get a slight boost in windy conditions. If you’re projecting a running back for 17.5 fantasy points, we should expect an increase of about 14% in output. Kareem Hunt, Alvin Kamara, Derrick Henry, and Jamaal Williams are all playing in windier games but were already fantastic plays regardless of the weather. I’m not sure we should change expectations for those backs all that much.
We’ll know Sunday morning just how bad the conditions are in these games — but by and large, it’s best to not adjust too much on weather. If the public overreacts and stays away from passing attacks in these windier games, it could actually be an edge because the actual difference in output isn’t all that much.
Ok, that’s enough weather forecasting. Let’s get to the rest of this week’s angles.
Note: All ownership projections referenced in this article is from our dashboard, which is powered by FanShare. These are updated constantly throughout the weekend.
Is there leverage off of Kareem Hunt?
As Scott alluded to in his column, Kareem Hunt is one of the biggest values we’ve seen all year. On a slate that is short on bulletproof plays, it’s going to be really hard to shy away from Hunt. There are three running backs on this slate that have the potential to score 35+ fantasy points and Hunt is one of them. He’s $1,000 cheaper on DraftKings and at least $800 cheaper on FanDuel than the other two big ceiling backs — Alvin Kamara and Derrick Henry.
So, we’ve got a completely mispriced bell-cow back on a team that is at home and favored to win and facing a Raiders defense that is allowing the fifth-most scrimmage yards per game to RBs (160.5) and the second-most yards per touch (5.9). How can you fade that?
One way to be a little unique and still play Hunt is to stack the Raiders on the opposite side of the ball. Derek Carr ($5,500 DK; $7,300 FD) and Darren Waller ($5,600 DK; $6,800 FD) are cheap on both sites and project for modest 10-12% ownership on DraftKings despite this being an incredible matchup. The Browns have allowed four top-12 weekly finishes to opposing quarterbacks so far, with Lamar Jackson, Joe Burrow (twice), and Dak Prescott all exceeding 24.5 fantasy points against them. The QBs that have failed against Cleveland were all predictable, too: Dwayne Haskins (duh), Philip Rivers (dust), and Ben Roethlisberger (22 pass attempts).
Considering price, Waller is the best tight end play on this slate and if the public shies away from this game because of weather/wind concerns, he’s going to go under-owned. Waller should carry 25% ownership in this spot but a lot of people are going to look to pay down at tight end and find value with Jonnu Smith ($4,100 DK; $6,100 FD) and Harrison Bryant ($3,200 DK; $5,000 FD).
The Browns have just one good player in their secondary in Denzel Ward and opposing passing attacks are just torching them elsewhere. This week, Henry Ruggs will mostly avoid Ward because Ward only aligns on the left side of the defense. The Raiders move Ruggs all over the field, including into the slot on 43% of his snaps. When Ruggs moves inside, he’ll have the upper hand because the Browns are allowing the fourth-most fantasy points per game (26.8) to slot receivers. Ruggs is a phenomenal tournament play in Raiders stacks along with Nelson Agholor, just to a slightly lesser degree. Ruggs’ 19.9 average depth of target downfield is third-highest among WRs and gives him slate-busting upside even if he only sees a handful of targets. Agholor has been hot (11/218/3 receiving) with Bryan Edwards (foot/ankle) out of the lineup over the last three weeks and it looks like Edwards is set to miss another week.
Will Seahawks-49ers go under-owned?
Saturday Update: It looks like Garoppolo is going to end up being the chalk quarterback on this slate. The weather in Cleveland is looking dicey — cold, wet, and very windy — and it’s going to pull mostly everyone off of a similarly priced Derek Carr ($5,500 DK). Garoppolo is still an amazing play and this game is still the best on the slate for all the reasons outlined below, but just understand you’re going to have to balance out what will be pretty popular 49ers with some lower-owned one-off plays from other games.
As of Thursday night, it looks like Jimmy Garoppolo ($5,400 DK; $6,600 FD) is trending to catch under 10% ownership despite being 1) incredibly cheap and 2) in the perfect matchup for quarterbacks. HC Kyle Shanahan isn’t asking JimmyG to throw downfield hardly at all — his 6.6-yard average depth of target is second-lowest in the NFL behind only Drew Brees (6.2) — but the 49ers should be able to do whatever they want on offense against Seattle. As 3-point underdogs, the 49ers should be forced to keep their foot on the gas on offense all game long as Russell Wilson and the Seahawks dictate the flow of the game and their league-worst secondary gives up yards and points in spades. All six of Seattle’s games have combined to score over 53 points this season and four of them have gone over 63 points.
There are so many ways to stack up this game and the Seahawks side is very simple and concentrated this week. Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf are combining to see 50% of Wilson’s targets and 75% of his air yards while DeeJay Dallas is the minimum price on both DraftKings and FanDuel and will likely see nearly all of the backfield work with Chris Carson (foot) and Carlos Hyde (hamstring) both missing practice all week. Dallas will end up being chalk and for good reason once Carson/Hyde are confirmed out, but I think there is a real chance we see Metcalf ($7,500 DK; $7,800 FD) end up being the lowest-owned piece of this game since he’s coming off of his first bust of the year and with Lockett ($7,100 DK; $7,200 FD) slightly cheaper.
On such a weak slate overall, I’m strongly considering taking four pieces from this game in my lineups — especially if our ownership projections remain fairly light on Garoppolo (7%), George Kittle (14%), Brandon Aiyuk (13%), and Kendrick Bourne (9%). With Deebo Samuel (hamstring) out, the 49ers passing attack is condensed down to just those three pass catchers. Bourne is just $3,500 on DraftKings and averaged 5.3 targets per game with Samuel out of the lineup in Week 1-3. Over the last three weeks, Bourne averaged just 2.7 targets/game with Samuel playing his usual snaps. Bourne could end up being a nice leverage play as one the best cheap receivers on the slate if people flock to play Denzel Mims ($3,200 DK).
Back to Josh Allen stacks?
Last week, Josh Allen dropped back to pass 45 times and handled 11 carries against the Jets — but only managed to score 16.4 fantasy points because he failed to find the end-zone. If you played that game out 100 times and gave Allen the same amount of volume again, he’d probably exceed that 16.4 number 65% of the time.
This week, Allen faces a Patriots secondary he’s struggled against in the past. However, with starting CBs Stephon Gilmore and J.C. Jackson both questionable to play, the Bills passing outlook could look significantly better if Gilmore indeed sits. If the Patriots decide to rest Gilmore and he gets ruled out on Sunday morning, Allen, Stefon Diggs, and John Brown will all become phenomenal tournament plays. The Patriots usually-stout man coverage has shown some chinks in the armor this season and would obviously suffer badly if Gilmore is indeed out of the lineup. New England plays man-to-man more than any team in the league (58%) and they’ve allowed 8.0 yards per attempt in man coverage this season (fifth-highest).
And if the Patriots offense throws up another dud and doesn’t do much to keep this game competitive, it may not matter. All season long, we’ve seen OC Brian Daboll just let Allen control the offense regardless of how the game is going. Allen’s 40.7 dropbacks per game ranks seventh-most among active quarterbacks.
Final thoughts and low-owned individual plays…
Jimmy Graham vs. Saints
Tight end is very interesting this week. Our ownership projections have the most popular plays centered around Jonnu Smith (15%) and Harrison Bryant (12%) at their cheap salaries. We were all over Bryant last week, but I’m hesitant to go back to the well with his ownership likely to double or even triple. Meanwhile, Jared Cook ($4,400 DK; $5,800 FD) will garner ownership once again with Michael Thomas still out. We also might get a cheap Gerald Everett ($3,700 DK; $4,500 FD) if Tyler Higbee (hand) is out again.
You’re mostly playing the TD-or-bust game at tight end when you’re searching for value and at least Graham is getting money looks left and right. Among tight ends, Graham leads all tight ends in red-zone looks and ranks third in end-zone targets. This matchup couldn’t get much better, either, considering that the Saints have been whacked for the fifth-most yards per game to tight ends (18.6) and have allowed a touchdown to the position in 5-of-6 games. Graham is projected for 3% ownership on DraftKings and 1% on FanDuel.
Darrell Henderson at Dolphins
Darrell Henderson ($5,900 DK; $6,100 FD) is projected to see under 8% ownership in quite possibly one of the best matchups he’ll get all year long. Malcolm Brown will remain annoyingly involved — the duo has split snaps 56 to 42 (in favor of Henderson) over the last two weeks — but we do know it’s likely time to turn the lights out on the Cam Akers dream. Akers is on track for the same rookie season Henderson had last year.
The Rams are running the ball a ton — they’re the most run-heavy team in the NFL when trailing and the ninth-most run-heavy when leading — and you better believe HC Sean McVay is going to establish it against this weak Miami front-seven. Through six games, Miami is dead last in rushing fantasy points allowed per carry and are giving up the third-most scrimmage yards per game to opposing backs. Henderson is a much better value on FanDuel compared to DraftKings and will provide leverage off of what should be a very popular Gio Bernard ($5,900 FD) who costs $200 cheaper.
Melvin Gordon vs. Chargers
With Phillip Lindsay (concussion) likely out this week, Melvin Gordon ($5,600 DK; $6,700 FD) will be back in a bell-cow role. In the three games Lindsay missed this season, Gordon handled 74% of Broncos’ snaps and saw 84% of the backfield opportunities (attempts + targets). The Broncos offense has been terrible this year and Gordon has been out-played by Lindsay when he’s healthy — but any time we can get an every-down running back with a realistic shot at 4-5 targets at 2% ownership on DraftKings, he’s always going to be in play in for tournaments.
Saturday Update: It looks like Phillip Lindsay will clear the league’s concussion protocol in time to play.
Diontae Johnson vs. Ravens
After being on the winning millionaire maker lineup last week and scoring 29 DraftKings points at just $4,200, Diontae Johnson’s price has adjusted up to $5,500 this week. It’s still too cheap. Granted, the matchup is much tougher this week but Johnson’s role has been insane this year when healthy. In three full games, Johnson has seen 31%, 32%, and 31% of Steelers’ targets as Ben Roethlisberger’s No. 1 target. Too many people are going to focus on how good Baltimore’s secondary is and not realize that Johnson is still egregiously underpriced for his role and talent. Our ownership projections have Johnson pegged at 3%.