What is this column? Each week I’ll be listing the best and most interesting plays of the week grouped by position. 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 Preview livestream every Friday at 3PM EST. Be sure to get in our Discord — if you’re not in there already, 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…
TLDR: Too Long, Didn’t Read (BEN, SPELL HEINICKE RIGHT)
How to play this slate (GPPs)
Yeah, this is a fairly difficult slate. There’s a lot of great plays at the top, but not a lot of value. And there’s a ton of injury news and notes we’re going to have to wait on. That’s why you need to read the Sunday AM Update. We’ll go more in-depth on all this tomorrow, but here’s what we’re looking at right now:
- Packers RBs Aaron Jones (ankle) and A.J. Dillon (back) have been limited in practice this week, but both are expected to play.
- Washington RB Antonio Gibson is listed as questionable with a shin injury, but is expected to play after getting in a limited practice on Friday.
- Titans WRs A.J. Brown and Julio Jones have been ruled out, which means Nick Westbrook-Ikhine now rivals (or, probably, exceeds) Anthony Miller, Curtis Samuel, and Kadarius Toney as the top punt-WR of the slate.
- Steelers WR Chase Claypool did not practice on Friday and is listed as questionable. If he’s out, bump up Diontae Johnson and Najee Harris.
- Broncos RB Melvin Gordon is questionable, but expected to play. If he’s (surprisingly) out, Javonte Williams becomes a must-play.
- 49ers TE George Kittle and RB Elijah Mitchell are both legitimately questionable. RB Trey Sermon isn’t a great play, but he’s definitely an option for tournaments.
- Giants WRs Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton have already been ruled out. Kadarius Toney (3 targets, 66% snap share last week) is a fine punt, with Kenny Golladay getting shadowed by Marshon Lattimore. And Evan Engram gets a slight bump up in our projections.
- Panthers RB Christian McCaffrey is out, as expected.
- Rams RB Darrell Henderson is expected to play. Or rather, HC Sean McVay has said he “expects him to be available Sunday.” Maybe there’s no difference between those two statements, but maybe not. To me, I’m reading that as he’s probably not going to resume a full-workload, and, as such, I don’t like him nearly as much as I did earlier in the week.
- Vikings RB Dalvin Cook is questionable, but “should” play. If he’s out, Alexander Mattison becomes a top-5 RB play on DK and a top-3 play on FanDuel.
- Bears QB Andy Dalton will be a gametime decision. Bump down Darnell Mooney, Allen Robinson, and David Montgomery if Fields is the starter. Which, per Adam Caplan, is what we should expect.
- Seahawks TE Gerald Everett is doubtful.
In tournaments, as always, get weird, get creative, have fun. The QB position is always more about the stack (and the leverage you’ll gain if that stack hits) than the individual QB-play itself. But in cash…
On FanDuel, I think you’re really only looking at Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen. Both are phenomenal plays; basically a coin-flip. Though if forced to choose, I slightly prefer Mahomes, and our projections agree (3.02X vs. 2.93X). There are some weather concerns in Buffalo, you can easily run on Houston (and we’ve seen Buffalo’s RBs involved more this year), and I don’t think Buffalo is going to take this matchup too seriously (favored by 17.5 with Kansas City on deck). Matthew Stafford is your third-best option and is certainly a fine play if you love your lineup and need the extra $700-900 in savings.
On DraftKings, your best cheap option is Taylor Heinicke. Wes Huber made an extremely compelling argument for him here. But still, I’d rather pay up on DraftKings this week — just not all the way up. I think you’re looking at either Matthew Stafford or Dak Prescott. Again it’s basically a coin-flip but our projections prefer Stafford and so do I.
Expensive Running Backs
Derrick Henry. A.J. Brown, and Julio Jones are questionable. Tennessee has no one else to give the ball to. The Titans are favored by 6.5 points. Henry leads all running backs in carries with 82. That's 29 more than the next-closest slate-eligible RB. Henry also ranks 12th among RBs in receptions and 8th in receiving yards, with 2 and 43 more than Alvin Kamara. He averages 32.0 FPG over the team’s last seven wins. Yeah, just play him.
As I outlined here, Kamara is easily seeing the best usage of his career. And, if you squint hard enough, he might be seeing the best usage of any RB. Or, at least that’s true from a market share perspective, though that doesn’t really mean a lot when the offense is playing at the sloth-like pace it has. Still, he gets a solid matchup this week, against a Giants defense that ranks worst in yards before contact allowed per attempt, 2nd worst in YPC allowed (5.09), and bottom-10 in FPG allowed to opposing RBs (27.6). He’s very much in play, but probably not if you’re forced to choose between him and Henry.
Dalvin Cook has seen phenomenal volume in the two games he’s played, despite both games coming with poor gamescript, averaging 21.0 carries and 5.0 targets per game. Over the past two seasons, he’s hit at least 19.8 DKFP in 75% of his games, averaging 23.4 FPG (27.6 FPG in wins). But projected gamescript (+2.0) is a concern, as is the matchup. Cleveland is looking like a pass-funnel defense, ranking top-5 in YPC allowed (2.96) and rushing YPG allowed (50.3). Though they absolutely embarrassed Justin Fields last week, they gave up 33.3 fantasy points to Mahomes in Week 1 and a combined 23.5 to Tyrod Taylor and Davis Mills in Week 2. I don’t like Cook quite as much as Kamara, and I like Henry significantly more than both.
D’Andre Swift, RB, Detroit Lions
[DK: RB14, FD: RB7]
On Wednesday, HC Dan Campbell had this to say of Swift: “I, certainly, think you’re going to see a lot more of Swift, and he can very easily be out there first play. I think he’s done enough to earn that.”
Swift, who has been dealing with a lingering groin injury, technically hasn’t started in a single game this season. And he’s been stuck in a 60/40 committee backfield alongside Jamaal Williams. Swift is averaging 11.7 carries and 8.0 targets per game (59% of the backfield XFP), but that's only 2.3 carries and 3.3 targets more than Williams (41%). Nonetheless, Swift currently ranks 3rd among all RBs in XFP per game (20.2) and 3rd in FPG (20.0).
So, any type of demotion for Williams would be massive for Swift. For instance, if this committee moves to 70/30 in Swift’s favor, he’d lead all players at all positions in XFP per game (23.7).
On paper, the matchup would be difficult for most RBs. Gamescript is negative (as 2.5-point underdogs against Chicago), but that’s probably good news for Swift, who ranks 3rd among all RBs in target share (19%) and 2nd in targets per game (8.0). And, just last week, Kareem Hunt went 6-74 against the Browns through the air (on 7 targets).
So, yes, start Swift this week as a mid-range RB1. And probably every week moving forward. Congratulations on drafting a probable league-winner.
Wes Huber fully agreed with this take and dug in deeper on the matchup here.
Chuba Hubbard, RB, Carolina Panthers
[DK: RB17, FD: RB19]
With McCaffrey confirmed out, Hubbard is now a top-5 RB-play on both sites. From Start/Sit:
This week’s FAAB darling with fantasy darling CMC out, Hubbard can immediately be trusted as a high-end RB2 for his spot start against Dallas. After Christian McCaffrey went down, Chubba Hubbard played on 39 of 50 possible snaps while Royce Freeman got 11 snaps. More importantly, Hubbard was involved on 20-of-27 passing plays (74%) and got 5 targets so while it’s possible that Freeman steals a few carries – Hubbard has a strong floor based on his usage alone. Obviously, there is upside for Hubbard to hit a RB1 ceiling here with this total sitting at 50 as the matchup ripe with scoring appeal. (GB)
Antonio Gibson, RB, Washington Football Team
[DK: RB15, FD: RB11]
Gibson is dealing with a shin injury, but based on HC Ron Rivera’s recent comments, it doesn’t seem too serious. And hopefully it’s not, because otherwise he’s one of the better values at the position (on both sites).
Gibson’s 2021 usage has been nowhere near as good as we had hoped — 15.7 carries per game and 3.3 targets per game, all on a 62% snap share — but gamescript is a major factor here, with Washington trailing on a whopping 85% of their offensive plays this season. The good news is, Vegas expects Washington to win this week, or at least keep things close, favored by 1.5 points. So, Gibson losing work in (for instance) the two-minute offense doesn’t matter nearly as much this week. And otherwise the matchup is excellent, against Atlanta’s bottom-5 defensive line.
Mike Davis, RB, Atlanta Falcons
[DK: RB30, FD: RB36]
Mike Davis is a massive regression candidate, having fallen 21.4 points below his volume-based expectation. Everything I said about Davis last week seems just as relevant today. Except now the bear-case argument I laid out seems far more likely than the bull-case narrative. In Week 3, Davis’ usage was only barely better than Cordarelle Patterson’s (14.1 XFP to 13.1), who out-targeted Davis 7 to 4. Patterson was also, again, far more efficient than Davis. Through three weeks, Patterson has out-scored his expectation by 11.6 points (4th-best), while Davis has fallen short of his expectation by 21.4 points (2nd-worst)… But at the same time, he still ranks 5th in XFP per game (18.6), and projected gamescript, though not ideal, isn’t too bad (+1.5). And he’s no doubt mispriced as just the 30th (DK) and 36th (FD) highest priced RB of the slate.
I think he’s a strong “technical value” though maybe not a top play. And, for what it’s worth, Wes Huber significantly prefers Patterson.
Darrell Henderson, RB, Los Angeles Rams
[DK: RB20, FD: RB22]
Henderson has been limited in practice all week though the Rams are expecting him to play. However, with their next game on Thursday night, there’s a pretty good chance he doesn’t return to the uber-bell cow usage he saw prior to injury. But still, that might be worth gambling on at his lowly-price tag.
Through Los Angeles’ first 7 quarters of play (so, prior to his fourth quarter injury in Week 2) Henderson was averaging: 16.0 carries, 3.4 targets, 96.6 YFS, and 18.8 fantasy points per four quarters. More impressively, over this span, he saw a 97% snap share and a 69% route share.
Arizona hasn’t given up a ton of production to opposing RBs, but that’s primarily a function of gamescript. They rank 4th-worst in YPC allowed (5.04), and this is by far their toughest matchup, with the Rams favored by 4.5.
Update: Rams RB Darrell Henderson is expected to play. Or rather, HC Sean McVay has said he “expects him to be available Sunday.” Maybe there’s no difference between those two statements, but maybe not. To me, I’m reading that as he’s probably not going to resume a full workload, and, as such, I don’t like him nearly as much as I did earlier in the week.
David Montgomery, RB, Chicago Bears
[DK: RB18, FD: RB8]
Montgomery is quietly seeing phenomenal usage; the same workload he saw towards the tail-end of last season. He played on only 59% of the snaps in Week 1 (he left the game for a stretch due to injury), but that has since climbed to 80%. Over this span he’s handled 30 of 32 carries and 7 of 10 targets (67% route share) out of the backfield. The production hasn’t been there (and Justin Fields is certainly partly to blame), but prior to that, Montgomery averaged 25.7 FPG over 6 games, hitting at least 20.0 fantasy points in all 6. And believe it or not, the Bears are actually favored this week (-2.5), and the Lions rank bottom-10 in YPC allowed (4.56) and FPG allowed (26.9) to opposing RBs.
All of this being said, temper expectations if Fields is starting.
Aaron Jones, RB, Green Bay Packers
[DK: RB5, FD: RB9]
From Jake Tribbey’s Week 4 DFS Values:
Jones is a favorite of the Supermodel this week, and that’s hardly surprising given Jones has averaged 21.1 Fanduel FPG when playing at home with a team implied total of over 25.5 over the last three seasons (13 instances). 21.1 Fanduel FPG would’ve ranked 3rd among all RBs last season, yet Jones is just the RB7 by salary. Jones is also 2nd among all players in opportunities inside the 10 yard-line, averaging 3.0 per game. Jones has arguably the best ceiling of any RB, as he’s been responsible for 4 of the top 12 highest scoring RB fantasy performances since 2019. Only two other players (Alvin Kamara and Christian McCaffrey) show up in the top 12 more than once, and combined, Kamara and McCaffrey have the same number of top 12 performances (4) as Jones.
Similar to Derrick Henry, Jones can single handedly put 1st place out of reach (in tournaments) with a monster performance. He’s certainly a mispriced value and a strong play, but not quite one I can put my full faith in as this matchup is tough and he’s currently dealing with an ankle injury that’s left him questionable (although he’s expected to play).
Jonathan Taylor, RB, Indianapolis Colts
[DK: RB11, FD: RB16]
Taylor ranks just 30th among RBs in FPG (10.7), which, of course, is extremely unideal for those of you who drafted him in Round 1. Carson Wentz’s recent performance, playing on two bum ankles? Also unideal. Only two targets since totaling 60 receiving yards in Week 1 (7 targets), and getting out-snapped by Nyheim Hines last week? Unideal. Week 4’s projected gamescript? It’s close, as only 1.5-point underdogs, but certainly not ideal. (For his career, Taylor averages 17.6 FPG in wins, but only 13.0 FPG in losses.) LG Quenton Nelson and RT Braden Smith are out this week. Also unideal.
The good news is, Taylor’s volume is still fairly strong, ranking 8th in XFP per game (18.3). And he’s a screaming touchdown-regression candidate, currently leading the league in XTD (4.0). That alone — if he was perfectly average in touchdown efficiency, rather than worst in the league — is the difference between him ranking 6th and 30th at the position in FPG.
More good news: This week’s on-paper matchup is very ideal. The Dolphins are giving up the most rushing FPG (20.1) and the 2nd-most total FPG (34.0) to opposing RBs. I mean, for crying out loud, they just gave up 23.2 fantasy points to Peyton freaking Barber.
Other / Notes
- Wes Huber’s No. 1 RB value is Zack Moss. You can read what he had to say here.
- Wes also loves Clyde Edwards-Helaire’s odds of hitting the 100-yard bonus again this week. He’s still mispriced as just the RB23 on DraftKings, and this week’s matchup is phenomenal. Kansas City is favored by 6.5 against Philadelphia’s 4th-worst graded run defense (per PFF), which just gave up a combined 30.1 fantasy points to Dallas RBs last week.
- Nick Chubb remains a phenomenal GPP-play. He’s hit 80 rushing yards in three straight games. The Browns are favored to win (-1.5). And the Vikings rank 7th-worst in YPC allowed to opposing RBs (4.83).
Expensive Wide Receivers
Per the DFS SuperModel, Davante Adams is the No. 1 WR value on both sites, and I have a hard time disagreeing with that. Adams surprisingly flopped in a Week 1 beatdown, in shadow coverage against PFF’s No. 1 CB (Marshon Lattimore). Still, he posted a 42% YMS. In Weeks 2 and 3, Adams was back to his old self, averaging 13.5 targets, 126.5 YPG, and 28.7 DK FPG. And, for some reason, this week (with MVS out) he’s $900 cheaper on DraftKings and $1,000 cheaper on FanDuel than his average salary over his last 13 games.
Calvin Ridley is popping as a top WR-value on FanDuel. He ranks 10th in XFP per game (18.2) but just 28th in FPG (14.5). And though he’s no longer seeing the super high air yardage totals he saw last year, falling from 140.3 (most) to 89.0 (36th), he does have a great on-paper matchup this week. Washington is giving up the 2nd-most FPG to opposing WRs (53.5).
Per the SuperModel, Terry McLaurin is right behind Ridley on FanDuel. And since they’re facing off against each other this week, I like the idea of playing both on the same lineup. Despite the middling competition they’ve faced, Atlanta is giving up 18.0 FPG to opposing outside WR1s (DeVonta Smith, Mike Evans, and Kenny Golladay). McLaurin got shut down by Tre’Davious White’s shadow coverage last week (4-62-0) but smashed in a similarly tough matchup the week prior, posting a 11-107-1 line on 14 targets (with 8-78-0 coming against James Bradberry). He gets a much softer draw this week against (mostly) Fabian Moreau, who ranks 85th of 97-qualifiers by PFF Grade. Per Wes Huber: “As a whole, the Falcons are giving up the second-most FPG to receivers on the outside (23.7). With Isaiah Oliver showing out as one of the top-five slot CBs this season, we can expect to see Taylor Heinicke looking toward Terry McLaurin early and often. The last time we saw F1 McLaurin go up against a Cover 2-heavy defense (Atlanta runs Cover-2 at the league’s highest rate), he submitted an 11/107/1 line on the Giants.”
Tyreek Hill. Yeah, I feel like every week you need at least a little exposure to Hill. Nothing about this matchup stands out. Philadelphia has done a good job of limiting the deep ball (ranking top-10 in yards allowed). Per, Greg Cosell, on our livestream, “They’re built to stop the deep ball, and they’ve done an extremely good job of that this year.” And they’ve held Calvin Ridley, Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, CeeDee Lamb, and Amari Cooper in check… But really, I think it comes down to this. Either Hill gets bracket coverage and he scores 12.5 fantasy points. Or, he gets single coverage and he scores 38.7.
I legitimately love D.K. Metcalf (6th in target share at 29%) who stands out as a top value on both sites per the DFS SuperModel. On paper he’s nowhere near as good of a play as (for instance) Adams, but I can tell myself a compelling story…
Tyler Lockett has a long history of, as Evan Silva would put it, “balling the eff out whenever he’s healthy.” But he has an equally long history of playing through severe injury, and decisively not “balling the eff out” to the degree that he was when fully healthy. Lockett might not even be on the injury report following one of these injuries, and he’ll undoubtedly be on the field, but he probably won’t be anywhere near as productive. For instance, from Weeks 1-9 in 2019, Lockett ranked 3rd among all wide receivers in fantasy points, averaging 19.0 FPG. In his next game, he suffered a “severe” lower leg contusion and was forced to spend the night in the hospital. It’s hard to guess at how long this injury might have plagued him, though he was never even on the injury report, but his numbers certainly suffered until Week 15 (9.0 FPG).
In any case, I think that might be what we’re looking at this week, after Tyler Lockett’s scary knee and/or hip injury last week. Although he returned to play, and caught two passes, I have a hard time imagining he’s close to 100% this week. And as such, I expect Metcalf to see an increase of targets at Lockett’s expense. (TE Gerald Everett is also out, and WR Dee Eskridge is questionable.) On paper, the matchup against the 49ers is fairly neutral, though Adams just dropped 31.2 fantasy points on them. And Metcalf dropped 40.1 against them in their first meeting last year. (Ahkello Witherspoon held him in check in their second meeting, but he’s no longer with the team.)
I might not like him as much as this blurb implies, but he’s a very strong GPP play.
Robert Woods, WR, Los Angeles Rams
[DK: WR33, FD: WR25]
From Jake Tribbey’s Week 4 DFS Values:
Woods hasn’t gotten off the start that fantasy managers hoped he would have to start the season, averaging just 10.4 FPG (WR52). Though his volume has been at least a little better than his production implies, averaging 14.0 XFP per game (WR31). With teammate Cooper Kupp looking like a league-winner, the fantasy community seems to have forgotten about Woods, who is still the WR2 on one of the best offenses in football. More importantly, he’s playing in the best scoring environment of the week (55.0 total), and the Rams have the 3rd-highest implied point total of the slate (29.75). Throughout his Rams’ tenure, Woods has averaged an impressive 17.9 DraftKings FPG and 14.5 Fanduel FPG when LA’s team total is over 27.5. Those numbers would have ranked 11th and 7th among WRs last season, respectively, making Woods an obvious value in this game environment as the WR29 on DraftKings (by salary) and the WR23 on Fanduel. (JT)
Amari Cooper / CeeDee Lamb, WR, Dallas Cowboys
[DK: WR20, FD: WR9] / [DK: WR12, FD: WR11]
Cooper and Lamb are both exceedingly cheap on DraftKings. So, I do really like the idea of stacking both with Dak Prescott. But on non-Dak lineups where you can only pick one, I’m leaning towards Cooper on DraftKings (he’s just way too cheap) and Lamb on FanDuel. Though Wes Huber would probably prefer to play Lamb on both sites. Here’s what he had to say in Advanced Matchups:
Cooper is dealing with cracked ribs and he’ll also have the tougher matchup this week. “Cooper ($6.0K/$7.6K) will face off with the present CB1 of the Panthers in Rashaan Melvin. And Melvin has done an excellent job limiting his coverage to the 11th-fewest YPCS, seventh-fewest FP/CS, and 22nd-lowest targeted passer rating…
Lamb, however, has the matchup to target: "The Panthers took a devastating loss when Jaycee Horn fractured multiple bones in his foot that will force him out of action for 2-3 months. Horn ranked within the top-five at each of the Big 4 corner metrics. It’ll fall on Donte Jackson to fill his shoes on the outside, at least until C.J. Henderson has an opportunity to get settled in Carolina’s system. His first assignment will be no other than CeeDee Lamb. Unfortunately for the Panthers, Jackson is a far cry from Horn’s level of awesome. Jackson ranks 39th in YPCS, 51st in FP/CS, 30th in AY/CS, and 63rd in targeted passer rating. If you’re unfamiliar with Lamb, he was on pace as a top-10 WR until he was only provided with three targets (3/66/0) last week. This matchup will provide Lamb with a get-right opportunity at home."
D.J. Moore, WR, Carolina Panthers
[DK: WR13, FD: WR12]
Moore is a strong high-risk / high-reward GPP-play this week. He’s no doubt mispriced relative to recent usage and production, but it’s also a very difficult matchup. Here’s what I had to say in Start/Sit:
OK, let’s clear this up — Moore is not a “sit.” If you drafted him, congratulations, you probably landed a WR1 at a low-end WR2 price-tag.
Moore leads the league in targets (22, by 5), receptions (17, by 3), and ranks 2nd in receiving yards (231) in the first-half of games. QB Sam Darnold leads all QBs in first-half passing yards (609), but he ranks just 27th in second-half passing yards (279). In other words, Moore and Carolina’s offense are both a lot better than their numbers look. It’s just hard to tell, because, in three straight blowouts, they haven’t at all had to keep their foot on the gas. The good news is: gamescript projects perfectly for Moore this week, as 5.0-point underdogs against a Cowboys defense that has surrendered the 2nd-most passing yards through three weeks (1,043).
The bad news is: Moore’s individual CB matchup is brutal, against Trevon Diggs — PFF’s highest graded CB in coverage this year — in shadow coverage. Through three weeks, Diggs has held Mike Evans, Keenan Allen, and DeVonta Smith to a combined 6 catches for 96 yards and 0 touchdowns. There’s a chance Diggs doesn’t shadow (he didn’t travel with Smith exclusively last week), but even if that is the case, Moore is still likely to spend roughly 40% of his day against him.
Again, don’t sit Moore this week, but do temper your expectations. We have him ranked as just a low-end WR2 this week.
So, this puts us in a precarious position. I think Dallas forces Carolina to keep their foot on the gas, and I have a lot of faith in Carolina’s offense to put up points. So, whom do you play? Chuba Hubbard isn’t a must-play but he is a top-5 RB play on both sites. Moore could still go nuclear despite the tough on-paper matchup. But if Diggs shuts him down, Robby Anderson or Terrace Marshall could be slate-busters. Keep in mind, Dan Arnold (3.7 targets per game) is no longer with the team and Christian McCaffrey (6.8 targets per four quarters) is out. Still, they’re both hard to trust. Marshall hasn’t yet hit double-digit fantasy points and Anderson is averaging 3.7 targets per game.
Odell Beckham Jr., WR, Cleveland Browns
[DK: WR22, FD: WR20]
During our livestream, Graham Barfield called Beckham Jr. a “must-play” on both sites, and I’m in complete agreement. From Start/Sit:
OBJ is back! Or, at least definitely from a usage standpoint. Beckham earned 18.3 XFP in Week 3, which led the team and ranked 17th-best among WRs on the week. In total, he earned 10 targets, 1 rushing attempt, and 175 air yards (3rd-most). He might not be fully healthy, coming back from ACL surgery, but I’d expect volume to remain about as good as it was this week for however long Jarvis Landry remains sidelined. Because, keep in mind, this good usage came in a 26-6 beatdown where the Bears totaled just 68 passing yards. Beckham gets a pillow-soft matchup this week, against a Vikings defense that has given up the 4th-most FPG to opposing WRs and the 4th-most FPG to opposing outside WRs.
Deebo Samuel, WR, San Francisco 49ers
[DK: WR15, FD: WR16]
From Wes Huber’s Advanced Matchups:
My favorite stack of the weekend is some Russell Wilson-DK Metcalf action. And my favorite runback is Deebo Samuel. Let’s not forget that Jimmy Garoppolo will have something the 49ers lacked in both of their matchups with Seattle last season: Deebo. In two games against the ‘Hawks during his rookie season, Samuel averaged 20 FPG. And, after enduring a poor stylistic matchup last week against Green Bay, Samuel is priced to sell as the WR16/WR21. On only 23% of his career routes, Samuel has manufactured 37% of his total receptions, 35% of his yardage, and 20% of career TDs against Cover 3. It only sweetens the pot that Seattle is giving up the ninth-most FPG (23.6) to receivers working out of the slot.
Corey Davis, WR, New York Jets
[DK: WR38, FD: WR37]
After a monster performance in Week 1 (26.7 fantasy points on 7 targets), Davis hasn’t done much. Though he did see 10 targets last week. But, and as bad as the Jets have been, I’m fairly bullish this week. Zach Wilson has been under pressure on 46.7% of his dropbacks (2nd-most), but this week’s matchup looks excellent in that regard, as the Titans rank 6th-worst in PFF pass rush grade. And Tennessee has surrendered the 3rd-most FPG to opposing WRs (50.1), including four performances of 21.0 fantasy points or more. With Elijah Moore out (concussion), and thus leaving behind 6.7 targets per game, we like Davis this week as a high-end WR3 priced like a WR4.
Jaylen Waddle, WR, Miami Dolphins
[DK: WR41, FD: WR47]
From Jake Tribbey’s Week 4 DFS Values:
Waddle ranks 30th among WRs in route share (87%), 29th in XFP per game (14.3), and 31st in target share (20.8%), but is the WR41 on DraftKings (by salary) and the WR48 on Fanduel. His 9.0 targets per game is highly encouraging (WR17), but his 39.0 air yards per game (WR87) is simply pitiful, especially given the volume he’s seeing. Among the 73 WRs with 10 or more targets, Waddle’s 3.7 ADoT is the 2nd-lowest, bested only by Rondale Moore’s mark of 2.7.
So what do we make of Waddle? Well, his lack of downfield routes and targets is certainly a concern, and, at least on paper, harms his game-to-game ceiling. But he’s getting peppered with short targets, and has the elite athleticism necessary to turn short receptions into the big plays that win DFS tournaments. So I’m more willing to write off the ‘limited ceiling due to short routes’ complaints with Waddle than with players like Adam Humphries or Tyler Boyd, who just don’t possess the same game-breaking speed or dynamism.
Week 4 ushers in a matchup with Indianapolis, and while the total (42.5) doesn’t provide much optimism, this game ranked 4th-best in Graham Barfield’s pace and plays model, and Indianapolis is PFF’s 2nd-worst graded coverage unit (40.8 team coverage grade), so we are looking at a far better matchup and environment for Waddle than the Vegas total implies. With that said, the bottom line here is that Waddle’s role as a high-volume slot WR is simply more valuable than his current salary on both sites. (JT)
It’s worth noting, Wes Huber is in complete agreement with this take.
Anthony Miller, WR, Houston Texans
[DK: WR73, FD: WR58]
From Jake Tribbey’s Week 4 DFS Values:
Last week Anthony Miller ran a route on 71% of the team’s dropbacks, earning 8 targets (21%) and 73 air yards. At just $3,700 on DraftKings this week, he’s at least a little interesting. Per my “sources”, Houston (and Chicago) always believed in his talent. But he was traded to Houston, and was inactive Weeks 1 and 2, due to off the field issues (e.g. unprofessionalism, continually showing up late for meetings). He gets a tough on-paper matchup, but, one that projects for about four quarters of garbage-time, as 16.5-point underdogs against the Bills. And though the matchup is tough, it’s much tougher for Brandin Cooks who is likely to draw Tre’Davious White in shadow coverage. Look for Miller to pick up some extra targets at Cooks’ expense. However, if Danny Amendola is active, you should probably pivot, but that seems more unlikely than not at the moment.
Other / Notes
- Cooper Kupp every week? His price has skyrocketed, but he’s still in play on DraftKings, though probably not for cash (behind Derrick Henry, Davante Adams, and Travis Kelce). For tournaments I’m inclined to just pocket the money he’s made me thus far. And instead, cross my fingers and hope one of the Rams’ cheaper receivers (Robert Woods or Tyler Higbee) go off.
- Diontae Johnson every week as a mortal lock to either get hurt or see double-digit targets? Why not? He’s too risky for cash (coming back from an injury), but I like him a lot for tournaments. And especially if he’s going to be as low-owned as we think (projected at 2.5%).
- I had Darnell Mooney and Allen Robinson written up as values but removed them after Adam Caplan told us Fields is likely to start.
- Anthony Miller got a featured write-up, but I don’t like him significantly more than similarly priced punts: Nick Westbrook-Ikhine, Curtis Samuel, and Kadarius Toney.
- Collin Johnson ($3,200 on DraftKings) probably isn’t within that tier, though I considered it… He ran a route on just 45% of the team’s dropbacks last week, but still saw a team-high 7 targets (20%) last week.
Travis Kelce, TE, Kansas City Chiefs
[DK: TE1, FD: TE1]
Kelce is averaging 22.3 FPG, which leads the position and would rank 3rd among all WRs. Over the past two seasons, he’s reached at least 21.5 fantasy points in 76% of his games. The next closest receiver is Davante Adams, at only 53%. Yeah, he’s a freak. Kelce in cash every week? Why not? And he gets a top TE funnel defense this week. The Eagles have given up 16.3 FPG to opposing TEs (8th-most), but 33.2% of their total receiving fantasy points allowed have gone to TEs (2nd-most). He’s a borderline must-play on FanDuel.
Med. Priced Tight Ends
T.J. Hockenson, Noah Fant, and Kyle Pitts are all in play, but I prefer Tyler Higbee the most at cost. Here’s what I had to say after Week 1:
Higbee isn’t just a Week 2 must-start, but he could prove to be one of the most valuable picks you could have made in 2021 fantasy drafts. The upside argument was always easy with Higbee: Gerald Everett is no longer on the team, and the only other time Everett wasn’t on the field (2019, Weeks 13-17), Higbee was a fantasy superstar. He led the league (at all positions) in receiving yards (522). He reached 100 yards in 4 of 5 games, averaging 11.2 targets and 21.4 FPG. Both marks would have bested Travis Kelce’s 2020 season.
What happened in Week 1? Higbee scored 11.8 fantasy points. A decent, but not earth-shattering, game. But let’s look at the bigger picture.
Higbee was targeted on 24% of Matthew Stafford’s throws. That ranked 3rd-best among all TEs on the week. He ran a route on 93% of the team’s dropbacks, which also ranked 3rd-best on the week. That’s up from 53% in 2020 — which ranked just 31st at the position — and represents a career-high (besting his prior career high of 79%).
Throughout his 79-game career, there's only 8 instances of him running a route on at least two-thirds of the team's dropbacks. Those 8 games comprise 6 of the 7, or 8 of the 12 highest-scoring games of his career. In these contests, Higbee averages 9.1 targets (22% target share), 7.0 catches, 85.1 receiving yards, and 18.5 FPG.
Contrast this to Darren Waller’s 2020 season (93% route share): 9.1 targets, 6.7 catches, 74.8 receiving yards, and 17.5 FPG. So, tied or better than Waller in every stat.
Of course, Higbee flopped in Week 2. But he hit in Week 3, catching 5 of 5 targets for 40 yards and a score. And his usage remains as alluring and as promising as it did in Week 1, running a route on 80% of the team’s dropbacks.
Cheap Tight Ends
This is a fairly great week to punt the TE position on DraftKings. The only problem is, we have an abundance of options to pick from.
- Tyler Conklin ($3,500) and K.J. Osborn probably rotate as Minnesota's No. 3 receiver from here on out, but that’s proven to be a valuable role this season. Conklin has seen 4, 4, and 8 targets, and gets a neutral-at-worst matchup this week.
- Dalton Schultz ($3,400) appears to be taking over as the TE1, though it is admittedly still something of a committee. His route share is only slightly better than Blake Jarwin’s (60% vs. 57%). But he’s seen the better volume, earning 6, 2, and 7 targets over the last three weeks. And he’s been far more effective, ranking top-7 in YPRR (2.73) and passer rating when targeted (146.0).
- Yeah, QB-play is a serious problem for Cole Kmet ($3,000), who totals just 3.1 fantasy points over his last two games. But he also ranks 10th in route share (73%) and, I suppose, 19th in target share (12%). The Lions have given up the 3rd-most receiving yards to opposing TEs (245), while also ranking dead-last in fantasy points allowed per target (2.72) to TEs. George Kittle, Mark Andrews, and Robert Tonyan combined to average 14.0 FPG against them, though they collectively average just 7.0 FPG in their other games.
- Evan Engram ($3,000), in his first game back, played on just 56% of the team’s snaps. He caught only two passes for 21 yards, and also lost a fumble. But he did see 6 targets on the day. With Kenny Golladay still banged up (hip), and Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton both out, the Giants likely have little choice but to feature him this week.
- Will Dissly ($2,600) is a legitimately terrific play this week. WR Tyler Lockett is banged up with a hip injury, WR D.K. Metcalf is dealing with a foot injury, TE Gerald Everett is doubtful (COVID), and WR Dee Eskridge is questionable (concussion). Seattle is actually targeting TEs this year and Dissly seems locked in as the No. 3 receiver this week.