What is this column? Each week I’ll be listing the best and most-interesting plays of the week, grouped by position, and ranked and tiered in some sort of descending order. 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
How to play this slate for GPPs…
Favorite game-stacks / QB-stacks to target (in order):
[email protected] has the highest over/under of the slate (51.0), and yet there’s very little DFS interest in this game, despite Jonathan Taylor, Derrick Henry, and Michael Pittman popping as top-5 values on DraftKings (per the DFS SuperModel)… And A.J. Brown is top-5 on both sites per our projections. He has a pillow-soft matchup against a Colts defense that has surrendered the 2nd-most schedule-adjusted FPG to opposing WR1s (+5.0)… Wes Huber loves the coverage shell matchup for Tannehill, who had his best fantasy outing against Indianapolis in Week 3, despite A.J. Brown playing on just 12% of the team’s snaps.
Buffalo has dropped at least 31 points on Miami in each of their last six meetings. Allen scored only 17.7 fantasy points against them in Week 2 (a 35-0 beatdown where he attempted only 33 passes), but had 20.0-plus in all 6 of their previous meetings. If adjusting for the fact that Allen didn’t even play in the second-half of one of these games, he averages 30.7 fantasy points per four quarters in his career against Miami… With the highest implied point total of the slate (31.5) there’s going to be a lot of Allen stacks this week. And for good reason. Miami also ranks 3rd-worst in schedule-adjusted FPG to opposing QBs over the last five weeks (+3.9)… Stefon Diggs will be shadowed by Xavien Howard, who has struggled of late. And in two career shadow games against Howard, Diggs averages 10.7 targets, 90.7 yards, and 20.4 fantasy points per four quarters. Cole Beasley’s matchup against Nik Needham is a little softer than Emmanuel Sanders’ matchup against Byron Jones, but Sanders has more upside and is the superior play. He ranks 13th among all slate-eligible WRs in FPG (0.9 off Diggs), but is just the WR26 (DK) and WR18 (FD) by salary… DeVante Parker, Jaylen Waddle, and Mike Gesicki are all in play for the bring-back. Parker is just too cheap on FanDuel, but I’d prioritize Waddle over Parker on DraftKings, in the more advantageous matchup in the slot. (Waddle is averaging (roughly) 9.3 targets, 75.7 receiving yards, and 20.9 fantasy points per four quarters with his former Alabama teammate Tagovailoa under center.) But Gesicki over Waddle, for reasons Wes Huber outlined here.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are the league’s most pass-heavy team versus expectation, throwing 13% more often than gamescript plus down and distance would imply. And that’s nearly 2X more than the next-closest team (Kansas City, 7%). Enter New Orleans, a top pass funnel defense for three straight seasons. And, with Antonio Brown out, and given Marshon Lattimore’s historical dominance against Mike Evans, this becomes a far more highly-concentrated passing attack… Evans scored three times last week, but maybe, in Week 8, those touchdowns go to Rob Gronkowski who has two touchdowns in three of his last four games. And seven-plus targets in three of his last four… Chris Godwin ranks 14th (DK) and 13th (FD) in salary, and (among all slate-eligible WRs) 11th in both XFP and FPG. New Orleans is giving up the 12th-most FPG to opposing slot WRs. He’s maybe the single-best WR play of the week on DraftKings.
Teddy Bridgewater is pretty badly mispriced, and we absolutely love Jerry Jeudy as a lock-button play this week. Bridgewater’s arm looked super cooked in his last game, but should be healthier after the bye. That thesis, if true, will be important for Courtland Sutton who is seeing the bulk of his value (40% of his receiving yards) come on the deep ball. Since Week 2, he averages 3.0 deep targets (most), 17.4 XFP (11th), 16.9 FPG (16th), and 87.5 YPG (6th). If Jeudy is out or limited, he’s the easy pivot. Both he and Jeudy have top-2 matchups this week. Noah Fant’s matchup is probably fringe-top-10 (he’s a solid value on FanDuel if Albert O is still out)… Bridgewater has multiple touchdowns in 5 of his 6 full games this year, averaging 18.2 FPG (QB17). Washington ranks worst in schedule-adjusted FPG allowed to opposing QBs (+5.8), implying a 24.0-point expectation, which would be about 4.4X value on DraftKings… Terry McLaurin and Ricky Seals-Jones would be the bring-backs.
Jalen Hurts is easily your best cash game QB play of the week on DraftKings. He doesn’t need to be stacked but probably should be in tournaments. And we like Devonta Smith and Dallas Goedert quite a bit. I prefer Smith, as he’s clearly the team’s top weapon and WR1, and Detroit is giving up the 6th-most FPG to opposing WR1s. They’re also giving up the most YPG to opposing WRs on deep passes (94.4). So, Quez Watkins is also vaguely in play, averaging 1.4 deep targets per game (0.3 less than Smith). D’Andre Swift is the preferred run-back, though T.J. Hockenson is in consideration as well.
Justin Herbert has flashed slate-busting upside in a few games this year, after a historically great rookie season, and he’s easy to stack with. So, that’s the simple argument for him in a slightly below average on-paper matchup. But this game also offers the 2nd-highest over/under of the slate (49.5), though it projects to go under-owned. Austin Ekeler is seriously hurt, which will help consolidate the offense, and may actually be a benefit to Herbert overall. He averaged 27.3 DK FPG (low of 20.4) in the six games Ekeler missed last year. Herbert is Graham’s favorite QB-play for GPPs, though Wes Huber wrote him up as an “avoid” here.
Given our fondness for Cordarrelle Patterson, Kyle Pitts, and Calvin Ridley, we should consider gamestacking CAR @ ATL. With a 3.0-point spread, this game offers shootout potential. Matt Ryan has finished top-5 in PFF grade in three straight games, while Sam Darnold has finished bottom-5 in three straight. So, the concern is Darnold implodes again. But, luckily, Darnold’s biggest problem is he sees ghosts more often than the kid from Sixth Sense, and that shouldn’t be an issue this week. Atlanta not only ranks 3rd worst in opposing passer rating (109.9) but also worst in pressure rate (24%) and 2nd-worst in PFF pass rush grade. D.J. Moore is the obvious bring-back, and he’s a great one.
Darren from Discord smashed last week, fading Darrell Henderson (probably the highest-owned player of the slate this week as well), running out a Matthew Stafford dub-stack. That could be the play again this week.
Given my love for Diontae Johnson and Najee Harris, and my “like” for Chase Claypool, perhaps Ben Roethlisberger is in play, as gross as it may seem, (ideally) healthier off of the bye. Given Harris’ target volume (7.8 per game) he can be played stacked with Roethlisberger. And it’s a far more favorable matchup than most would suspect — Cleveland ranks 3rd-worst in schedule-adjusted FPG allowed to opposing QBs (+4.1)… Nick Chubb would be the bring-back.
Joe Burrow ranks 11th in FPG, but feels like a pretty big negative regression candidate (8.0 TD%, league high 13.4 yards per completion). There’s also serious gamescript concerns, favored by 10.5. And Burrow averages only 28.8 pass attempts in wins (in contrast to Tom Brady’s 41.3). And, the Jets are extremely vulnerable against the run… But, that being said, the Cover-1-heavy matchup is just about perfect for Burrow. He should be able to do whatever he wants against this pass defense, but, unfortunately, I’d bet on (as Wes Huber put it) the RBs stealing his Halloween candy.
For cash, play Jalen Hurts on DraftKings and Josh Allen on FanDuel.
Though, you can also punt the position this week. There’s some decent values. I like Teddy Bridgewater and Carson Wentz quite a bit.
For tournaments, we just broke that down.
Jalen Hurts, QB, Philadelphia Eagles
[DK: QB5, FD: QB2]
This season, Hurts ranks 3rd among all QBs in FPG, averaging 25.0 FPG. And he’s hit at least 21.5 FPG in every game thus far. For his career, Hurts averages 24.5 fantasy points per four quarters and 25.2 FPG in games started and finished. So, why aren’t we viewing him exactly as we would Lamar Jackson (24.3 career fantasy points per start)? I don’t know, but he’s not at all priced like Jackson on DraftKings, as just the QB5 ($7,500).
And this should be his best matchup of the season, against a Lions defense that ranks dead-last in both opposing passer rating (114.5) and passing fantasy points allowed per pass attempt (0.65). The game environment is excellent as well, as the close spread (-3.5) implies shootout potential.
Josh Allen, QB, Buffalo Bills
[DK: QB1, FD: QB1]
Josh Allen, the QB1 in fantasy football so far this year, is playing at home with the highest implied team total of Week 8 (31.5). Over the last two seasons, Allen has played in 11 games with a team total above 27.0, and has averaged 27.7 DraftKings FPG and 26.5 Fanduel FPG in those instances. For reference, those numbers (if over a full season) would constitute the 2nd-greatest fantasy QB season in NFL history. The Bills clearly want to put the ball in Allens’ hands and have been aggressive throwing the ball yet again in 2021, passing 4.6% more than expected (7th-most). That shouldn’t be a surprise given Allen’s outstanding ceiling, as he’s scored more than 34.5 fantasy points in 23% of his games over the last two seasons.
And Allen gets a strong matchup against Miami, who have allowed the 6th most FPG to opposing QBs (21.5) and rank 3rd-worst in schedule adjusted FPG allowed to opposing QBs over the last 5 weeks (+3.9). It’s easy to see why Allen is our highest-projected QB of Week 8, and our top QB value on both DFS sites.
Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Denver Broncos
[DK: QB17, FD: QB13]
From Wes Huber’s Advanced Matchups:
I follow a singular approach to Teddy Bridgewater exposure consideration. If the defense features Cover 1, INVEST! In all other scenarios, easy fade. Dramatic drum-tapping intro: survey says… Washington is still featuring Cover 1 at the 10th-highest rate. That’s all we need to know. During the last three campaigns, Bridgewater ranks third-best among all QBs with 0.56 FP/DB vs. Cover 1. It’s a 53% climb to his overall average (second-highest), and the scheme he’s generated a 114.3 passer rating against (third). On only 21% of dropbacks facing Cover 1 during those previous three years, Teddy has thrown for 38% of his total TDs.
Darrell Henderson, RB, Los Angeles Rams
[DK: RB11, FD: RB10]
RB usage leaders from the last 2 weeks:— Jake Tribbey (@JakeTribbey) October 28, 2021
1. Fournette - 24.3 XFP per game
2. Swift - 21.0
3. Henry - 20.1
4. Henderson - 18.9
5. Herbert - 17.2
Henderson currently ranks 10th in touches per game (18.5), 5th in snaps per game (50.8), 4th in routes per game (26.0), 6th in goalline carries (7), but just 12th in FPG (17.1). Henderson’s usage, especially over the last few weeks, suggests we are dealing with a mid-tier RB1. Fortunately for us, Henderson is the RB11 (by salary) on DraftKings and the RB10 on Fanduel this week with the Rams as 15.0-point favorites against Houston. Henderson was Week 7’s highest owned RB, and he scored just 6.4 fantasy points on 18 touches. That brutal performance is sure to have soured some DFS players on Henderson, and could lower his Week 8 ownership relative to what we saw last week despite another great matchup. Plus, I’m not sure anyone expected the Lions to come out the way they did — kicking a surprise onside kick in the first quarter, faking two punts, and playing incredibly aggressive up front defensively. That Lions’ game plan essentially stole the positive gamescript we all anticipated from Henderson and this Rams’ offense.
Houston, however, is a different story. They lack the kneecap biting intensity and aggression that has flooded the veins of Dan Campbell’s Lions, and instead have largely rolled over for their opponents, losing their last three games by an average of 19.0 points (worst), and giving up 157.3 rushing yards per game in the process (worst). And Houston ranks 6th-worst in PFF rushing grades (48.9 team rush defense grade) and 4th-worst in Football Outsiders rush defense DVOA (-0.2%). This is an outstanding matchup for a RB who is seeing strong enough usage to warrant being priced in the RB4-RB7 range on both DFS sites. Henderson will be one of the most popular RBs of Week 8, but arguably, he should be the highest-owned RB for the second week in a row given his current usage profile.
D’Andre Swift, RB, Detroit Lions
[DK: RB7, FD: RB9]
In Week 7, D’Andre Swift led all RBs in XFP (22.2) and fantasy points scored (28.4). This marked the fifth time through seven weeks Swift has finished top-6 at the position in XFP.
And he continues to receive more and more work at Jamaal Williams’ expense. His share of the backfield XFP has jumped to 78% over the past two weeks (76% Snap%) after averaging just 62% over the first five weeks of the season (66% Snap%). He now ranks 4th among all RBs in both XFP per game (19.3) and FPG (19.6).
Swift is averaging 13.3 receiving FPG, which, on just that alone, would be good enough to make him the RB19 / WR34. He also leads his team and all RBs in yardage share (22%). And as such, he should be viewed almost no differently than Alvin Kamara and Austin Ekeler moving forward.
He’s an easy top-3 play this week, priced as just the RB7 (DK) and RB9 (FD), against an Eagles defense that ranks 5th-worst in schedule-adjusted FPG allowed to opposing RBs (+5.3).
James Robinson, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars
[DK: RB10, FD: RB7]
From the Week 8 XFP Report:
In Week 6, prior to the team’s bye, Robinson played on 85% of the team’s snaps (2nd-most), handling 17 of 17 carries and 4 of 5 targets out of the backfield. Over the past five weeks, he averages 17.3 carries, 4.0 targets, 2.5 10-zone opportunities (3rd), 17.3 XFP (9th), and 21.7 FPG (5th).
Meanwhile, Carlos Hyde’s snap share has declined in three straight games (33% to 26% to 13%). No other RB played a single snap in Week 6.
So, Robinson is now looking like a full-on bell cow and, as such, should be viewed no differently than the James Robinson of 2020. Over the past two seasons, and despite abysmal gamescript (see: Jacksonville’s 2-20 record), Robinson ranks 6th among all RBs in FPG (17.8), behind only Alvin Kamara, Derrick Henry, Dalvin Cook, Austin Ekeler, and Aaron Jones (min. 7 games).
He’s woefully mispriced this week, as just the RB10 on DraftKings ($6,300), up against a Geno Smith-led Seattle team that ranks 3rd-worst in schedule-adjusted FPG allowed to opposing RBs (+8.1).
Cordarrelle Patterson, RB, Atlanta Falcons
[DK: RB13, FD: RB10]
Patterson was only moderately productive last week (scoring 14.1 fantasy points), but his volume was excellent. On a season-high 74% snap share, he earned 14 of 19 carries while out-targeting the other RBs 5 to 0. That represents an 88% share of the backfield (in terms of XFP), up from a prior high of just 56%.
So, although the production really wasn’t there (his second-lowest score of the season), I’m now more bullish on Patterson than ever before. Over his last two games, he’s averaging a 65% snap share (up from 35%). He’s also now being used as a true RB/WR hybrid and not just as a scatback. Over his last two games, he’s averaging 20.0 WR routes per game (up from 6.8). And, over his last three games, he’s averaging 37.3 air yards per game, up from -6.7.
Since Week 2, Patterson ranks 10th among all RBs in XFP per game (16.3) and 5th in FPG (21.4).
On paper this matchup is brutal, the Panthers are giving up a league-low 15.4 FPG to opposing RBs. But I don’t think that really matters much for Patterson, who — as was just established — shouldn’t really be viewed as a true RB. So, start him this week as a low-end RB1 or mid-range WR1. It doesn’t matter which, so long as you start him. (SB)
Cordarrelle Patterson’s routes run at WR:
Week 1 – 3
Week 2 – 9
Week 3 – 4
Week 4 – 11
Week 5 – 17
Week 7 – 23
So, not only is he getting more RB work – he's out-carried Mike Davis 28 to 17 over the last two games – Patterson is also getting way more burn as an actual WR.
— Graham Barfield (@GrahamBarfield) October 26, 2021
Elijah Mitchell, RB, San Francisco 49ers
[DK: RB20, FD: RB29]
Mitchell was the unquestioned lead back for San Francisco in Week 7, handling 75% of backfield opportunities on a 66% snap share. Given that the 49ers have had a top-4 backfield by total fantasy production in each of the last two seasons, it’s safe to say Mitchell is in an excellent spot to succeed. Last season, the 49ers RB1 averaged 14.5 FPG - a number that would rank 13th-best among main slate eligible RBs this week. And yet Mitchell is the RB17 (by salary) on DraftKings and the RB29 (!) on Fanduel. Now Mitchell gets a Bears’ run defense that ranks 8th-worst in PFF run defense grades, and has given up 135 rushing yards to Packers and 171 to Bears backs over their last two games. He’s a solid play for DraftKings tournaments but an elite play on Fanduel, where he can be safely used in cash games.
Najee Harris, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers
[DK: RB5, FD: RB3]
Harris’ on paper matchup isn’t great. Cleveland ranks 2nd-best in rushing FPG (8.3) and YPC allowed (3.63) to opposing RBs, though they’re more vulnerable through the air. Still, he’s a top-3 overall value on DraftKings by volume (XFP) and a fringe-top-play overall.
From the Week 8 XFP Report:
Ladies and gentlemen, Harris is now your new XFP leader (23.1). Yes, ahead of Derrick Henry (22.2).
With Ben Roethlisberger looking 2015 Peyton Manning-levels of cooked, and with Pittsburgh’s offensive line playing about as poorly as we all anticipated (3rd-worst in PFF run block grade), Harris is understandably a little inefficient (-2.8 PAR). But that doesn’t really matter much at all, given the elite levels of volume he’s seeing.
Harris has three top-3 XFP finishes over his last four games. Over this span, he ranks 4th in carries per game (20), 1st in targets per game (9.8), 4th in XTD per game (0.88), 1st in XFP per game (27.3), and 2nd in FPG (24.2, just 0.16 off of Henry for the lead). Across the full season, he ranks 1st in snap share (87%), 2nd in XFP market share (28%), and 1st in XFP positional market share (93%).
Basically, he’s like a slightly less efficient (healthy) Christian McCaffrey. Or, a more consistent and gamescript-proof but less efficient Derrick Henry. Or, a deeper cut for loyal XFP devotees, if 2019 Leonard Fournette were allowed to score touchdowns. Which is to say, he’s an elite bell cow and an easy top-3 RB at least until McCaffrey and Saquon Barkley return from injury.
Damien Harris, RB, New England Patriots
[DK: RB14, FD: RB15]
The Patriots are 5.5-point underdogs, so Harris has legitimate gamescript concerns, but otherwise the on-paper matchup is just about perfect. The Chargers are one the league’s biggest run funnel defenses, with teams electing to run +4.5% more than their gamescript-based expectation (2nd-most). Los Angeles also ranks worst in YPC allowed (5.29) and worst in rushing FPG allowed (21.2). And Harris, outside of his two games against the league’s toughest- (Tampa Bay) and 2nd-toughest run defenses (New Orleans), averages 17.8 DK FPG, hitting double-digit fantasy points in 5 of 5 and 100 rushing yards in 3 of 5. Add it all up, and in spite of the gamescript concerns, we like him as a high-end RB2 this week.
Other / Notes
- On paper, Joe Mixon is arguably the best RB play of the slate on FanDuel and a top-5 play on DraftKings. The Bengals are 10.5-point favorites against a Jets defense that ranks worst in schedule-adjusted FPG allowed to opposing RBs (+12.4). Mixon averages 15.9 FPG in non-injury games this year, and 17.5 FPG in wins. Since 2018, he averages 22.2 FPG in wins. So, if the Bengals are a lock to win and he’s guaranteed 100% of the backfield we should expect him to score, what?, 28.3 or 29.9 or 34.6 fantasy points this week… But that’s the big question this week: what share of the backfield will Mixon see this week? Samaje Perine was the primary pass-catching back last week, earning a 42% route share (1 target) to Mixon’s 34% (0 targets). Perine was also the closer, earning the final 8 carries of the game. But even before the fourth quarter (when Mixon’s snap share dropped to 33%), Mixon had only played on 60% of the team’s snaps through the first three quarters of the game… Mixon was a bell cow prior to his Week 5 ankle injury, earning an 81% share of the backfield by XFP, but post-injury that’s fallen to 59%… Johnny says Samaje Perine + CIN DST is in play for large field tournaments…
- Derrick Henry is a great play, like he is every week. Maybe not a cash game lock, but a top play for tournaments at lower than typical ownership. I don’t think much more needs to be said here, for the RB leader in FPG (by +4.3)… He’s had at least 100 rushing yards in four straight games against Indianapolis, and has 100 rushing yards in five of his last six games. Darrynton Evans is out. The Titans aren’t favored, but it’s at least close (+2.5), and this game offers the highest over/under of the slate.
- Jonathan Taylor is also an exceedingly strong GPP-play, favored against a Titans defense that ranks 6th-worst in YPC allowed (4.60). Over the last four weeks, he averages a whopping 28.0 DK FPG. Through the first three quarters of last week’s game (before the game got well out of hand), Taylor had played on 80% of the team’s snaps. He played on 69% of the team’s snaps in total, after 65% the week prior (another lopsided victory, 31-3), the 2nd- and 5th-best marks of his career. If Indianapolis spends most of this game trailing, he will probably bust, but if not he could be a slate-buster, earning a much larger workload than anyone else seems to suspect.
- Nick Chubb is a phenomenal GPP-play, now fully off of the injury report. When Hunt missed time in 2019 (suspension), Chubb averaged 19.3 carries, 4.0 targets, and 18.9 FPG on a 74% snap share. The on-paper matchup isn’t great, but he’s mispriced and ownership projects to be far lower than it otherwise should be… That said, coming off of injury, I think it’s more likely than not D’Ernest Johnson plays the Kareem Hunt role, capping his upside.
- The injury concerns with Austin Ekeler pushes him out of consideration for me.
- You can just copy and paste my write-up on Leonard Fournette from last week. He’s a fringe-top-play and strong leverage off of Chris Godwin, Rob Gronkowski, and Tomy Brady.
- Chuba Hubbard is a decent value on both sites, earning a 75% share of the backfield (by XFP) since Christian McCaffrey went down with an injury. Over this span, he averages 16.0 carries, 4.4 targets, 15.4 XFP (RB13), and 13.3 fantasy points per four quarters (RB20). He ranks just 15th (DK) and 17th (FD) in salary, against a Falcons defense that ranks 4th-worst in schedule-adjusted FPG allowed to opposing RBs (+5.7).
- David Johnson is a viable punt-play on DraftKings, with Mark Ingram now in New Orleans. Ingram leaves behind 10.5 XFP per game, which, if added to Johnson, would make him the RB7 by XFP per game (18.4). Or, even if just 65%, the RB14 (14.8). He averages just 3.9 carries per game, but has played on over 50% of the team’s snaps in three of his last four games (two games with six-plus targets).
- Zack Moss + BUF D as a leverage play is solid. Think of him like James Conner with a few extra targets per game. Graham Barfield wrote him up here.
Jerry Jeudy, WR, Denver Broncos
[DK: WR34, FD: WR31]
All of myself (below), Jake Tribbey (here), and Wes Hubere (here) wrote up Jeudy as a top play this week; a highly encouraging sign. If he were 100% healthy, he’d be maybe the overall top play of the week. The issue is, he missed practice on Friday. Maybe it’s take-lock and wishful thinking, but I’m still not too worried. Per Broncos beat writer Nick Kosmider, “[It’s] worth noting Denver had 4 straight practices this week because of the mini bye as opposed to the typical 3, so probably some load management there, to steal NBA term.”
But if Jeudy is limited or out, pivot hard to Courtland Sutton.
From the Week 8 XFP Report:
Jerry Jeudy suffered a high-ankle sprain in Week 1, which kept him off the field for the team’s next six games, but he will (confirmed) be back this week against the Washington Football Team.
Jeudy’s injury came early in the third quarter, capping him at just 47% of the team’s total snaps. But he still walked away with a team-high 72 yards, catching 6 of 7 targets. (So, on pace for 171 receiving yards.) And he ran 78% of his routes from the slot, up from 30% a season ago. That’s equally encouraging, as that’s his natural position.
Saban makes it clear at the end, that - though Jeudy is also capable on the outside - he prefers him in the slot. Though, that will most certainly be KJ Hamler's role in Denver. https://t.co/14p9N99NZk— Scott Barrett (@ScottBarrettDFB) April 28, 2020
This week Jeudy gets a Washington defense that ranks worst in total FPG allowed to opposing WRs (51.0). They’ve given up the most FPG (27.4) to opposing outside WRs and the 2nd-most (18.1) to opposing slot WRs. He’s egregiously mispriced on DraftKings this week, as just the WR34 ($4,900).
Chris Godwin, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
[DK: WR14, FD: WR13]
With Antonio Brown doubtful for Week 8, we are looking at another week of excellent usage for both Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. Given that Godwin is $600 cheaper than Evans on DraftKings and $300 cheaper on Fanduel, he’s the focus in this article as the superior value. In Week 7 Godwin saw a team-leading 11 targets and 34 routes, for a team-leading 111 yards on (yet again) a team-leading 23.3 XFP. This may surprise some people, but it’s Godwin, not Evans, who leads TB players in usage near and in the end zone. He leads the team (and is tied with Cooper Kupp for the league-lead) with 2.3 targets (1.0 more than Rob Gronkowski) inside the red zone per game, and Godwin leads the team (and is yet again tied for the league-lead) with 1.3 end zone targets per game.
And he’ll be matched up with Saints’ slot corner Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, who’s abysmal PFF coverage grade of 46.8 suggests a strong matchup for a talent like Godwin. At the very least it's a significantly better matchup than teammate Mike Evans, who will be shadowed by Marshon Lattimore, and Lattimore shadows have resulted in a 19.3% reduction to a WR’s FPG average over the least two seasons. The usage leader on the best offense in football is in a plus matchup and is only the WR14 (by salary) on DraftKings and the WR13 on Fanduel? Yea, sign me up. Godwin is worthy of cash game consideration and is an excellent tournament play, assuming ownership remains reasonable.
Diontae Johnson, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
[DK: WR11, FD: WR7]
From the Week 8 XFP Report:
FantasyPoints-favorite Diontae Johnson remains an absolute monster. And, I assure you, he is still being severely underrated.
Over the past two seasons, Johnson has played in 20 games with Ben Roethlisberger under center. He's been hurt in five of those games and was once benched for drops. Including the two injury games this season, but removing the other four games, Johnson has hit double-digit targets in 15 of 16 games, averaging 12.1 targets, 79.7 receiving yards, and 19.6 FPG.
And he’s even more of a monster this season, hitting at least 14.5 fantasy points in 5 of 5 games (despite 2 injury games). He's finished top-10 in XFP in 4 of his 5 games this year. You can contrast that to the position leader in XFP Cooper Kupp, who has 3 top-10 finishes in 7 games.
On a per game basis, he ranks: 10th in FPG (20.9), 3rd in deep targets (2.6), 2nd in targets (11.6), 2nd in XFP (20.9), and 3rd in XTD (0.74). So, keep in mind, Johnson's usage is not only significantly better, but he's being used in an entirely different way. He's jumped 2X in deep targets per game and 2X in XTD per game from his numbers last season.
Coming off the bye, Johnson gets an ideal matchup against the Browns, who rank worst in schedule-adjusted FPG allowed to opposing WR1s (+7.5). His DFS salary, for the millionth week in a row, is embarrassingly low, priced as just the WR11 on DraftKings ($6,700).
D.J. Moore, WR, Carolina Panthers
[DK: WR7, FD: WR4]
In spite of Sam Darnold’s exceedingly poor play over the last three weeks (165.0 YPG and 0.67 touchdowns per game), I’m still viewing Moore as an every-week WR1. And, this week, as a mid-range WR1.
Moore ranks 6th in targets per game (10.9), 10th in air yards per game (121.3), 8th in XFP per game (18.6), 6th in XFP% (23%), 7th in YPG (83.7), and 13th in FPG (17.8). He’s seen double-digit targets in 5 of his last 6 games, while also hitting at least 70 receiving yards in 6 (most) of 7 games this year.
And both Moore and Darnold draw favorable matchups this week. Darnold shouldn’t be seeing any ghosts this week as Atlanta not only ranks 3rd worst in opposing passer rating (109.9) but worst in pressure rate (24%) and 2nd-worst in PFF pass rush grade. Against outside WRs, Atlanta ranks 6th-worst in FPG allowed (25.4). And that’s in spite of the fact that they’ve faced only two outside WRs who rank inside the top-30 by FPG — Mike Evans (24.5 fantasy points) and Terry McLaurin (30.3).
A.J. Brown, WR, Tennessee Titans
[DK: WR9, FD: WR5]
The most significant factor benefiting Tannehill in Week 8 is A.J. Brown, at least on appearances, playing at full health. Consider that over the last six quarters of play, Tannehill has fed AJB with a 15/224/1 receiving line and 46.4 FPs on 17 targets. Going up against an Indianapolis defense utilizing Cover 3 on nearly 40% of snaps, Brown posting 0.52 FP/Rt the last three seasons when facing the scheme will certainly come into play. He’s also fabricated 2.80 YPRR (fifth-highest) and 12.4 YPT (third). The alignment numbers will place him across from Xavier Rhodes on just under half of his routes. Rhodes is indulging 1.52 YPCS (55th), 0.26 FP/CS (37th), 0.29 AY/CS (35th), and an 86.1 TPR (26th). The data tells us that, when you attack Indy’s secondary, you do it on the perimeter since it's where they are permitting 19.5 FPG (sixth-most).
Ja’Marr Chase, WR, Cincinnati Bengals
[DK: WR5, FD: WR2]
In his first seven games, Ja’Marr Chase has more receiving yards (754) and fantasy points (146.2) than any other rookie WR in their first 7 games in NFL history. That’s despite the fact he’s only been targeted 51 times - the 27th most targets by a rookie WR in their first 7 games all-time.
So Chase is destined to come back down to earth given he isn’t seeing the usage to justify these incredible numbers, right? That’s possible, but with each passing week it seems more and more likely that Chase is a truly generational player and that he and Joe Burrow have what we can only call a ‘magical’ connection.
Scott Barrett noted just how magical in the Week 8 XFP report, saying:
Chase isn’t just having the best start to a rookie season all-time, he’s having one of the best seasons of any fantasy player all-time. Chase has out-scored his expectation by a league-high +8.1 FPG, with 64% of his fantasy points coming on efficiency rather than volume (most). You can contrast that to the 2nd-most efficient player in fantasy football, Cooper Kupp, at +5.5 (25%). Or last year’s league-leader, Davanete Adams, +6.1 (31%) in an all-time great season (5th-most FPG by any WR all-time).
Chase’s 2.87 fantasy points per target average currently ranks 3rd-best since targets became a stat in 1992. His PAR (points above replacement) of +8.1 (or 64%) would be the most by any player at any position in any season since at least 2008.
Should we really be that surprised? Per Scott Barrett’s rookie model, Chase was the top WR prospect to come out since at least 2015. At just 19 years old, Chase was more productive than the WR who broke the modern rookie receiving record (Justin Jefferson), and on 13 fewer targets. Not to mention he reunited with his Heisman trophy winning QB, after the duo had combined for the greatest college receiving season on throws of 20+ yards since at least 2014, with Chase pulling down a record 14 TDs and earning 860 yards (2nd-most since 2014) on deep targets.
And that’s exactly what we are seeing (again) at the next level, as Chase has caught a league-leading 9 receptions of 20+ yards, resulting in a league-leading 375 yards and 4 TDs on deep targets. Encouragingly, Cincinnati has also started throwing more, as Graham Barfield noted in his weekly Stat Pack that Cincinnati’s neutral-situation pass rate has increased 10% (from 55% to 65%) in Weeks 4-6. And last week against Baltimore, Cincinnati chose to throw the ball 77% of the time in neutral situations. With the Bengals offense throwing more, Chase should see better usage, and his hyper-efficiency through the first 7 weeks of the season suggests that better usage from here would cement him as a top-3 fantasy WR for the foreseeable future.
Chase is our 2nd-best projected value at WR on DraftKings this week and our 3rd-best WR value on Fanduel. He’s an elite value anyway we chose to look at it, and while I don’t tend to bet on hyper-efficiency in cash games, I absolutely will in tournaments. Thus, Chase is one of my favorite GPP plays on both sites, assuming projected ownership doesn’t get out of hand.
Michael Pittman, WR, Indianapolis Colts
[DK: WR28, FD: WR19]
In order for a Tannehill-AJB stack to reach into its ceiling, some kickback from the opposing offense will be needed. The ground game of the Colts seems to be hitting its stride, and Michael Pittman Jr. has emerged as the WR1 for Carson Wentz. During the previous six games, Pittman is averaging 16.5 FPG. If we remove his poor output from the 31-3 drubbing of the Texans in Week 6, he’s averaging 18.6. And don’t buy into the narrative that T.Y. Hilton took over with his 4/80/0 line in Week 6. Hilton collected 65% of that yardage on a 52-yard reception. And Pittman only saw one fewer target in a game where little was asked of the Colts’ passing offense.
Is it possible Hilton overtakes Pittman? Absolutely. But the consistent flow of evidence in front of us points to a solid relationship between Pittman and Wentz. With the Titans playing last-man-standing at cornerback, Pittman is going to see a lot of reps against Greg Mabin, a recent free agent signing. Mabin submitted a solid performance last week, but he managed to avoid any coverage snaps on Tyreek Hill — most likely by design. However, Mabin struggled in coverage last season with Jacksonville. And, even if Mabin is plastered with splash allowances, Tennessee doesn’t have anyone better to take his place.
Other / Notes
- Stefon Diggs is, simply, embarrassingly mispriced on FanDuel. He’s the No. 1 WR-play of the slate over there. Wes spent more time on him here.
- Cooper Kupp has the most fantasy points by any WR through the first seven games of a season all time. We should be viewing him exactly as we would 2020 Davante Adams. Houston is actually pretty tough against slot WRs, but I’m not sure how much that matters. He’s a top-5 play on both sites, and I don’t think much else needs to be said.
- Keenan Allen ranks 13th (DK) and 16th (FD) in salary this week, but 6th among all slate-eligible WRs in XFP per game (18.6). He ranks just 15th in FPG (14.5), but he’s also had a league-high 75 receiving yards negated due to penalty. He has a phenomenal matchup, against Jonathan Jones’ backup in the slot, while Mike Williams has the tougher draw, in shadow coverage against J.C. Jackson. He’s a terrific high-floor play… Mike Williams remains a great play for tournaments, just because he’s been a monster all year when healthy. I won’t have many one-offs, but will have him on a lot of Herbert lineups.
- Calvin Ridley should be viewed similarly to Keenan Allen, as another phenomenal volume-related value and glaring regression candidate. (I might trust Allen more for cash, but I prefer Ridley’s ceiling for tournaments.) Ridley ranks 12th (DK) and 15th (FD) in salary, but 3rd among all slate-eligible WRs in XFP per game (19.9). He gets an excellent matchup, against a Panthers defense that ranks 3rd-worst in FPG allowed to outside WRs (26.9).
- Most other sites have had Tee Higgins written up as a lock-button play for three straight weeks. And in three straight weeks he’s flopped. I’m still not quite fully on board (especially if he’s going to be chalky), but I do like him quite a bit more this week. I spent more time on him here, and Graham wrote him up in Start/Sit here.
- I feel like I keep waiting for the Brandon Aiyuk of 2020 to return, but maybe it’s time we just fully embraced Deebo Samuel as an elite high-end WR1. Through seven weeks, only Cooper Kupp is averaging more FPG (22.8) and YPG (108.0) than Samuel. And Samuel is just the WR6 (DK) and WR3 (FD) by pricing, 22% (DK) and 18% (FD) cheaper than Kupp… And this doesn’t feel too flukey, as that’s about in line with his volume — 7th in targets per game (10.8), 6th in XFP per game (18.9), and 4th in XFP% (26%) — and he’s hit 50 receiving yards and double-digit fantasy points in every game thus far. On paper, this week’s matchup is no worse than neutral, even if Jaylon Johnson shadows.
- DeVonta Smith is not only the team’s clear No. 1 receiver (with Goedert as the No. 2). Smith has led the Eagles in XFP in 5 of 7 games, averaging 14.7 XFP per game. That ranks 27th best among WRs (16th among slate-eligible WRs, just behind Higgins), though he ranks just 50th by FPG (11.2). He’s due for a regression, and there’s a good chance that hits this week. Detroit is giving up the 6th-most FPG to opposing WR1s. They’re also giving up the most YPG to opposing WRs on deep passes (94.4), and Smith leads the team in deep targets per game (1.7).
- Jakobi Meyers (against Chris Harris Jr.) is tempting, looking at his salary in contrast to the volume they’ve been seeing, but I’m more inclined to fade him given this tough matchup…
- You can say the same thing for Brandin Cooks against the Rams, but I’d say it’s only 35/65 Jalen Ramsey actually shadows. And if he doesn’t, this matchup might be a lot better than most people realize. The Rams rank (shockingly) 3rd-worst in schedule-adjusted FPG to opposing WR1s (+5.0) and they rank middle-of-the-pack against outside WRs. Among all slate-eligible WRs, Cooks ranks 12th in XFP per game (16.3) and 16th in FPG (14.5). Though, he ranks just 23rd (DK) and 33rd (FD) in price. It’s hard to pass up that sort of value. So, I’ll just say, he’s a great boom-or-bust play for tournaments, although I do expect Rams DC Raheem Morris to go out of his way to shut him down.
- Jamal Agnew is Wes Huber’s GPP punt of the week (here), and I must say, I don’t hate it. Earlier this week, Urban Meyer called Agnew the team’s best separator, and the matchup is perfect. The Seahawks are the league's top slot funnel defense, with a league-high 49.5% of their total WR production allowed going to slot WRs.
- Chase Claypool is probably more DFS-viable than most think. He ranks just 35th in FPG (13.2) but 19th in XFP per game (15.6). The bulk of his value comes as a deep threat, averaging 2.2 deep targets per game (8th-most). Of course, Ben Roethlisberger has been woefully inaccurate on deep passes, completing just 29% of his deep throws (4th-worst). And Johnson is being used more as a deep threat (2.6 deep targets per game, 3rd-most), and more often than Claypool. But, I guess, who knows. Maybe Roethlisberger’s arm strength and accuracy will be a little bit better this week coming off of the team’s bye.
Kyle Pitts, TE, Atlanta Falcons
[DK: TE1, FD: TE1]
Kyle Pitts totaled 163 yards in Week 7, second only to fellow “generational prospect” and rookie Ja’Marr Chase. That was his second consecutive 100-yard game, and just the second time in NFL history a rookie TE posted back-to-back 100-yard games.
Among TEs, and over the past four weeks, Pitts ranks 2nd in targets per game (9.7), 1st in air yards (117.0), 1st in XFP per game (18.6), and 1st in FPG (19.7). Among wide receivers, he’d rank 14th, 16th, 9th, and 9th.
Oh, and there's quite a bit of points being left on the table. Pitts is our No. 2 touchdown regression candidate at any position, scoring only once despite a 3.2 XTD.
So, the question I’ll pose to you this week is: Should we be treating Pitts exactly as we would Darren Waller, or maybe even as Darren Waller-plus? Because although he’s the highest-priced TE on the Week 8 slate (with Travis Kelce and Waller both off the main slate), he’s $950 (DK) / $350 cheaper (FD) than Waller’s average salary this year.
Carolina ranks best in receiving FPG allowed to opposing RBs (Cordarrelle Patterson), 12th-best in schedule-adjusted FPG allowed to opposing WR1s (Calvin Ridley), but 12th-worst in schedule-adjusted FPG allowed to opposing TEs.
Rob Gronkowski, TE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
[DK: TE8, FD: TE2]
Mike Evans faced off against Marshon Lattimore in shadow coverage three times last season, averaging just 23.0 YPG in those contests. Antonio Brown is out. And Gronkowski is back. Well, hopefully… If he does suit up, he’s tough to trust coming off of injury, and might see a reduced workload. But outside of that (which, granted, is big), he’s a great play.
Gronkowski has seven-plus targets in three of his last four games. And, more impressively, two touchdowns in three of his last four games. Among all TEs, and despite missing some time in Week 3, Gronkowski ranks 8th in targets per game (7.0), 5th in air yards per game (73.7), 4th in XFP per game (13.3), 1st in XTD per game (0.67), and 1st in FPG (19.5). He ranks just 8th in salary on DraftKings this week ($4,600).
Tyler Higbee, TE, Los Angeles Rams
[DK: TE9, FD: TE12]
Tyler Higbee, the Higbeast, hasn’t quite lived up to the lofty expectations we had for him coming out of Week 1. But the usage that had us so excited is still there — on one of the most potent offenses in football, he’s a full-time receiver, running a route on 82% of his team’s dropbacks (4th-most among TEs). The volume and production hasn’t been quite as good, ranking 9th in XFP (14th per game) and 13th in fantasy points scored (17th per game). But, given the matchup, we can view him as an easy low-end TE1 this week. The Texans are giving up the 2nd-most schedule-adjusted FPG to opposing TEs (+6.8), and rank much better against WRs (12th-best), and especially slot WRs (6th-best) which is where Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods run the plurality of their routes (72% and 45%, respectively).
Dan Arnold, TE, Jacksonville Jaguars
[DK: TE28, FD: TE19]
If you’re desperate for a TE, you can do a lot worse than Arnold. After running a route on just 39% of the team’s dropbacks in his Jacksonville debut (Week 4), that number has jumped to 70% over his last two games. Over this span, he averages 7.5 targets (tied for most on the team), 11.5 XFP (~TE9), and 8.6 FPG (no touchdowns) over his last two games. And he now returns from the bye, ideally, more acclimated and familiar with the offense. His matchup this week is pillow-soft, against a Seattle defense that ranks 5th-worst in schedule-adjusted FPG allowed to opposing TEs (+3.7), and 3rd-worst over the last five weeks (+6.3). He’s rostered in just 3% of ESPN leagues, but we like him as a mid-range TE2 this week.
Other / Notes
- Over the past three weeks, with Logan Thomas out, Ricky Seals-Jones has played on 100% of the team’s snaps, averaging 7.3 targets and 12.0 FPG. If including plays negated due to penalty, he’s averaging 8.0 targets, 66.7 receiving yards, and 14.4 FPG. He’s a bell cow TE and an easy mid-to-low-end TE1 until Logan Thomas returns… He’s still very mispriced on DraftKings, though he gets a bottom-6 on-paper matchup against Denver.
- Dallas Goedert is still mispriced. His usage last week was great, running a route on 88% of the team’s dropbacks (3rd-most), but the volume (four targets) and production (70 yards but only 10.0 fantasy points) wasn’t quite there. Though, I’d expect that to climb. Historically (since 2019), the absence of Zach Ertz was typically worth a bump in target share from 11% (TE20) to 16% (TE9), but last week he was at just 12%. This week’s game environment is excellent, though the matchup is slightly below average on-paper.
- T.J. Hockenson is a fringe-top-5 play on DraftKings and a fringe-top-3 play on FanDuel. He’s hit 8-plus targets in 5 of 7 games, and Philadelphia is most vulnerable over the middle and in the short-to-intermediate range where Hockenson does most of his damage. The Eagles are giving up the 7th-most schedule-adjusted FPG to opposing TEs (+4.2), implying a 16.4-point expectation this week.
- With Jakobi Meyers in a bottom-1 matchup against Chris Harris Jr., and Jonnu Smith banged up, Hunter Henry becomes a very viable GPP-play against a Chargers defense that has given up the 2nd-most FPG to opposing TEs (19.3). The #NeighborNarrative has hit in four straight weeks, with Mac Jones and Henry connecting in the end zone in all four games. And maybe he’ll give us a little more than that this week to further validate the #RevengeGame narrative. Graham Barfield spent more time on him here.
- Jared Cook is in play, though I’m not really about it. The on-paper matchup is brutal, and he’s seen declining usage (by route share) in four straight games.
- Pat Freiermuth is a viable punt on FanDuel with Eric Ebron out.