Week 9 Contrarian DFS Angles


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Week 9 Contrarian DFS Angles

Unlike last week where the slate was littered by bad games with weather concerns, Week 9 is shaping up to be an incredible layout. There are two games in particular that I’m all-in on and that’s where we’ll start this column…

Note: All ownership projections referenced in this article is from our dashboard, which is powered by FanShare. These are updated constantly throughout the weekend.

Lock and the Broncos in a smash spot

The Falcons have been a fantasy football carnival this season. Everyone has fun against them. Outside of their two divisional matchups against the Panthers, their six other games have all combined for at least 45 points with four contests going for at least 56 points. Atlanta is getting absolutely ripped to shreds through the air — they’ve allowed at least 300 yards to every QB they’ve faced except Teddy Bridgewater last week, who got hurt — but are quietly solid against the run (9th-best in YPC allowed; 8th in Run Defense DVOA; 2nd-best in EPA/carry).

On offense, the Falcons throw a ton and get off a ton of plays to try and make up for their terrible pass defense. So you combine a bad secondary with a fast-paced offense and you get pass-heavy shootouts. Which is exactly what we’re looking for in DFS. Opposing teams are 63% pass-heavy against Atlanta (fourth-highest rate) and their defense is facing 37.9 passes per game (third-most).

Now, enter a cheap, lightly-owned Drew Lock ($5,200 DK; $7,200 FD) who has Noah Fant, Tim Patrick, and Phillip Lindsay all back healthy and we’ve got a recipe for an amazing game stack. Lock only needs 15 DK points to “pay off” his salary and this matchup alone is worth a +7.4 boost in expected fantasy points. On a week where salaries are fairly tight, Lock has 25+ point upside and absolutely no one wants to play him even though he’s so cheap on DraftKings and this game environment is so ripe for points. What’s more, the Falcons are going to be down their top-two pass rushers with Dante Fowler and Takk McKinley both out. We have Lock projected for just 5% ownership.

My lean on this game is to pair Lock with Noah Fant ($4,600 DK; $5,800 FD) for sure, then possibly one of his two receivers in Jerry Jeudy ($4,700 DK; $5,700 FD) or Tim Patrick ($4,900 DK; $5,300 FD) and bring it back with Julio Jones for a full game stack who is in line for a massive target share with Calvin Ridley (foot) likely out.

Vegas is all over this game, too, as the over/under has been on the rise all week. The total opened at 47.5 but is now up to 50, which is fifth-highest on this slate.

The Chargers are still underrated

In his first six starts, Justin Herbert is averaging 24.5 fantasy points per game, or the most all-time for a rookie quarterback. That’s right. Herbert is averaging more FPG than Deshaun Watson (24.1), Cam Newton (23.1), or Robert Griffin (21.2) did in their historic rookie seasons.

Still only priced as the QB7 on DraftKings ($6,800) and FanDuel ($7,900), Herbert’s salary still hasn’t fully adjusted for how incredible he’s actually been. And on DraftKings specifically this week, I think we’ll catch Herbert and Keenan Allen ($7,000) at slightly lower ownership than they should be just based on the options around them. Herbert should be on around 10-12% of rosters with Russell Wilson ($7,600), Deshaun Watson ($7,100), and Josh Allen ($7,000) all looking like popular plays while Allen is sandwiched in between what should be a 25-30% owned Julio Jones ($7,200) and Tyler Lockett ($6,800).

One way to generate leverage in DFS is just by taking advantage of these types of pricing decisions. A lot of players think along the lines of “Why would I play Herbert when Watson is only $300 more?” or “Why would I play Allen when Lockett is $200 cheaper?” If people flock on to Watson against the Jaguars or either Wilson / Allen in Seahawks-Bills, both Herbert and Keenan Allen are going to go under-owned.

And honestly, I think Herbert-Allen is the top pairing on this week’s slate.

If we throw away the one game where he got hurt, Keenan Allen has gone for 7/96, 13/132/1, 8/62, 10/125, and 9/67/1 in five full games with Justin Herbert. Allen has seen 65 targets in these five contests with Herbert. That’s 13 per game. And this week, Allen faces a Raiders defense that is allowing the 10th-most fantasy points and eighth-most yards on a per game basis to opposing slot receivers. Oh, baby.

For all tournament sizes (150-max, 3-max, and single entry) a full-on Chargers QB-RB-WR team stack will go lightly owned. Justin Jackson is only $4,900 on DraftKings even though he clearly took over as the team’s lead back last week over Joshua Kelley. Now in three games without Austin Ekeler, Jackson leads this backfield by a decent margin in snaps (48%), targets (17), and carries (37). If Troymaine Pope (concussion) can’t clear the league’s protocol in time to play, we’ll see Jackson as the clear-cut lead over Kelley who has looked like just a guy so far. Pope actually out-snapped Kelley last week.

This matchup on the ground for Jackson is excellent, too. The Chargers are running out of 11-personnel (3 WRs on the field) 60% of the time while the Raiders nickel defense has been terrible against the run. When the offense has 3 WRs on the field, Vegas is giving up the league’s second-highest success rate (55%) per SIS. Only the Bills run defense (60% success rate) has been worse against the run in 11-personnel.

Derrick Henry is setting up as leverage off of Dalvin Cook…

After everyone missed out on his 4 TD, 51.6-point burger last week, Dalvin Cook ($8,200 DK; $9,300 FD) is projected as the second highest-owned RB on this slate (30%) behind Chase Edmonds ($6,800 DK; $6,700). And for good reason! Cook is a very strong play against what has been a particularly bad Lions front-seven.

But with Derrick Henry ($7,900 DK; $8,900 FD) slightly cheaper and projected for about half of the ownership, he’s an amazing play in tournaments. If you fade Cook and he just has an average game — think 18-22 points — and Henry hits his ceiling at half of the ownership, you’re golden. Over the last two years, Henry is averaging 23.2 carries, 124.8 yards, and 1.3 TDs on a per game basis in Titans victories. Coming off of two disappointing games offensively, the Titans should lean on Henry heavily as 6.5-point home favorites.

… And CMC is setting up as leverage off of both Cook and Henry

I think a Cook fade may be warranted if his ownership projection ends up holding. Derrick Henry is just as good of a play at half the ownership while it seems like everyone is scared to play Christian McCaffrey in his first game since Week 2. The Panthers have been incredibly careful with CMC and have given him a full six weeks to recover from his high ankle sprain. All indications are that McCaffrey is fully healthy and ready to go at full speed.

I’m also not buying the speculation that Mike Davis is going to cut into CMC’s role, either. Davis performed admirably in CMC’s absence, but his effectiveness has been falling off of the cliff over the last few weeks. Over the Panthers last three games, Davis has averaged just 3.4 yards per carry and 3.8 yards per target. In his first three starts without CMC, Davis was much more explosive (4.9 YPC; 5.3 YPT).

Even if McCaffrey gets 75-80% of his usual role, he’s still a tremendous tournament play at his $8,500 price point on DraftKings. It’s a little tougher to pay $9,500 for CMC on FanDuel, but the logic behind a Cook fade still applies. We have CMC projected for just 6% ownership on both sites.

Edmonds vs. Conner on DraftKings

Scott, Proctor and I talked about this on the livestream, but Chase Edmonds ($6,800) vs. James Conner ($6,900) is an interesting debate on DraftKings this week. We all agreed that if Conner ends up being lower owned than Edmonds, he’s the tournament play. Well, our ownership projections have Conner (22%) under-owned compared to Edmonds (32%) as of Friday morning.

Conner has been one of the most game-script sensitive running backs in the league over the last few years and this game obviously sets up well for him to smash. Since the start of 2018, Conner averages 38% more fantasy points per game in wins compared to losses and the Steelers are monster 14-point favorites even though they are on the road in Dallas. And since their COVID-induced bye in Week 4, Conner has handled a bell cow-like 75% of Steelers’ carries and 69% of the snaps. Granted, Edmonds should handle a similar type of role with Kenyan Drake out — but you have to keep in mind that Kyler Murray could vulture all of the rushing scores. In fact, Murray has handled 5 carries inside of the five yard line this year while Drake got 6.

Conner is the play.

One-off contrarian plays…

Justin Jefferson vs. Lions

If you want to fade Dalvin Cook in favor of Derrick Henry or Christian McCaffrey and generate even more leverage for your lineups, Justin Jefferson ($6,100 DK; $6,800 FD) makes for a phenomenal play in tournaments. The Lions play man coverage at the league’s third-highest rate while no receiver has averaged more yards per target against man this year than Jefferson. We need Matthew Stafford to play for this game to be competitive and it sounds like he’s trending in the right direction for Sunday. Our ownership projections have Jefferson pegged at 6% on DraftKings and 2% on FanDuel.

D’Andre Swift at Vikings

With ownership centering around DeeJay Dallas ($5,000 DK) and Justin Jackson ($4,900 DK), D’Andre Swift ($5,000 DK) is going to end up being like 1-2% owned on DraftKings. After being frustratingly lightly involved in the opening month, Swift’s usage is finally trending in the right direction. Since coming out of their bye, the Lions have split carries between Adrian Peterson and D’Andre Swift 31 to 29 over their last three games. The Lions couldn’t run the ball at all last week, but Swift’s usage continued to be encouraging as he set season-highs in snaps (63%) and routes run (26). You just have to understand that Swift only roughly has a 20% chance of out-scoring both Dallas and Jackson.

Evan Engram at Washington

I haven’t considered rostering Engram once this year, but now that his salary is at a season-low $4,300 on DraftKings, I’m a little bit interested in him at what will be minuscule ownership in this spot. Hayden Hurst ($4,100) and Hunter Henry ($4,000) are slightly better plays on paper than Engram, but that is exactly why he makes for an intriguing play in tournaments. The Giants have finally started targeting Engram more often and on deeper downfield routes over the last two weeks after OC Jason Garrett used him in a Jason Witten-like role to start the season. Plus, the Football Team has been particularly bad against tight ends this year and have allowed the fifth-most fantasy points per target to the position. Only the Jaguars, Falcons, Vikings, and Vikings have been worse.

Graham Barfield blends data and film together to create some of the most unique content in the fantasy football industry. Barfield is FantasyPoints’ Director of Analytics and formerly worked for the NFL Network, Fantasy Guru, and Rotoworld.