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…
This is a super bizarre and seemingly gross slate. 7 of the top-10 XFP/G leaders are off of the main slate or are inactive this week. And 2 of the 3 who are eligible will have a backup QB under center.
On Thursday, this was probably my least favorite slate of the season. By Friday, it became my favorite.
This was initially my toughest week in terms of finding players I really liked enough to write up. And that seems to be an industry-wide sentiment. For this reason, I think it’s wise to lean even heavier on the work of the great Wes Huber. No one in the industry is better than he is at finding off-the-wall plays; super contrarian punts, overlooked stacks, plays that all of the other sites (with more simplistic projections systems) will miss, etc. And, on this point, this will probably be a really bad week for the SuperModel.
The four highest implied point totals go to: Buffalo (31.5), Dallas (29.75), Kansas City (27.75), and Baltimore (27.5).
My favorite games to stack are:
[email protected] is by far my favorite, (mostly) for reasons Wes Huber outlined here. I’ll have heavy exposure to some combination of Lamar Jackson stacked with Marquise Brown and Justin Jefferson. You can also sprinkle in some Rashod Bateman (questionable) or Sammy Watkins (questionable), though I probably won’t if both are active. I do also like Tyler Conklin quite a bit.
Josh Allen stacks are obviously a great play this week, but know that this will likely be the highest owned stack of the week.
I like Justin Herbert+Keenan Allen+Dallas Goedert stacks a lot. And I like Austin Ekeler more than just about any other RB on DraftKings, so he’s in play as well… Justin Herbert historically smashes Cover-2 and Cover-6 defenses. Philadelphia is highly vulnerable in the short-to-intermediate and middle of the field. That sets up nicely for Allen and Ekeler, but WIlliams will have a much tougher draw against Darius Slay’s shadow coverage… I think Chris Harris Jr. shadows DeVonta Smith this week, while Goedert leads the team in targets and receiving yards (for what would be the third-straight week in a row).
Ezekiel Elliott will probably be the highest-owned RB of the slate, so I like Dak Prescott stacks a lot. Though slightly less now with all three WRs questionable. Otherwise it’s a “much better than it looks” matchup against Denver, who will be without their two linchpins on defense: Bryce Callahan and Von Miller… Jerry Jeudy and Albert Okwuegbunam would be the potential bring-backs. Denver is the 2nd-most pass-heavy offense when trailing (74%) and they’re 10.0-point underdogs this week.
[email protected] has massive slopfest potential. Which is to say two bad teams playing an ugly but fast-paced, pass-heavy, high-scoring affair. DeVante Parker’s absence makes me like it a lot less, however. Still, the stacks are obvious: Brandin Cooks on Houston’s side, and Mike Gesicki and/or Jaylen Waddle on Miami’s side.
Some of my favorite one-off plays for tournaments are:
- Tyreek Hill
- Kadarius Toney or Devontae Booker
- Austin Ekeler or Keenan Allen
- Marquise Brown (possibly stacked with Justin Jefferson)
- Jarvis Landry
- Jerry Jeudy
- Mike Gesicki or Jaylen Waddle
- Ezekiel Elliott or Amari Cooper or Dalton Schultz
- Rondale Moore or Brandon Aiyuk
- Stefon Diggs or Emmanuel Sanders
Oh, and, by the way, RB is really gross this week, so I’d probably recommend playing a WR in your flex spot.
I think, for cash, you’re really only looking at Josh Allen or Lamar Jackson all the way at the top or Jordan Love and Tyrod Taylor all the way at the bottom.
Truthfully, they all feel like coin flips to me. So, I’d suggest saving that position for last, and playing whichever one you feel gives you the best lineup. The way I’m leaning right now is: go cheap on DraftKings, pay up on FanDuel. I think I like Taylor more than Love in a vacuum, but if I think I need the extra $600 in savings I’d be happy to play Love. And maybe just because I’m going to have so much exposure to Jackson in GPPs, I’d like to get my exposure to Allen in cash.
The Bills have the highest implied point total of the slate, up against a Jacksonville defense that ranks worst in opposing passer rating (113.5) and 5th-worst in schedule-adjusted FPG allowed to opposing QBs (+3.2). Josh Allen led all QBs in fantasy points per start last year (25.7), and again leads all QBs this year (27.0). The only concern is gamescript, as the Bills are favored by 14.5-points. That said, the Bills have ranked top-3 in pass rate over expectation in each of the past two seasons. Allen has split carries inside the 5-yard-line 4 to 4 with the RBs, and 9 to 15 last season. Further, the Bills have won five games by 15 or more points this year, and Allen averages 28.4 FPG in those games. So, I don’t really see gamescript as being a significant concern at all.
We’ll get to Lamar Jackson after the jump.
Last week, we saw four backup QBs finish as QB1s: Mike White (QB3), Geno Smith (QB7), Davis Mills (QB9), and Cooper Rush (QB12). I don’t think Jordan Love is particularly good (he was inactive in every game last year), but I trust his supporting cast, and he does have a great matchup; Kansas City has given up the 2nd-most FPG to opposing QBs (23.5). And, most importantly, he’s exceedingly cheap. At just $4,400 on DraftKings, he needs just 17.6 fantasy points to reach 4X value.
Tyrod Taylor is just $600 more than Love on DraftKings, averaging, remarkably, 26.7 fantasy points per four quarters (37.0 rushing yards) along with a 122.9 passer rating. The Dolphins have given up the 2nd-most passing FPG to opposing QBs (20.3).
Lamar Jackson, QB, Baltimore Ravens
[DK: QB5, FD: QB3]
The #Ravens are officially a pass-first team:— Graham Barfield (@GrahamBarfield) November 4, 2021
Over their last four games, Baltimore is 59% pass-heavy on early-down, non-redzone plays (ninth-highest rate).
As a result, Lamar Jackson averaged 34.5 passes per game which is miles ahead of his career average (25.9). 🚀🚀 🚀
There is (no hyperbole) no one better in the fantasy industry at in-depth matchup analysis than Wes Huber. And based on Huber’s analysis, there’s probably not a better game to stack than [email protected] I’ll be reposting his analysis on Marquise Brown and Justin Jefferson elsewhere, but here’s what he had to say about Jackson:
Lamar Jackson just doesn’t enjoy facing Cover 1 defenses. He’s always been far more successful punishing zone schemes. If we handpicked a coverage match suited to his history of success, we’d end up with high rates of Cover 2 and Cover 6 for L-Jax. Minnesota is fielding the sixth-highest rate of Cover 2 and third-highest of Cover 6. During his career, Jackson has produced 0.36 FP/Db (ninth-best), a 103.3 passer rating (seventh), and with a 32% increase in his YPA (second) against Cover 2. When he’s gone up against Cover 6, Jackson has generated 0.35 FP/Db (12th-best), a 107.1 passer rating (fourth), and with a 23% jump in YPA (third). When a QB is bringing 8.0 pure rushing FPG to the table, the knowledge that he’ll enter a smash spot to attack with his arm is reason for excitement.
Austin Ekeler, RB, Los Angeles Chargers
[DK: RB3, FD: RB3]
Notes: RB Justin Jackson is out.
No RB has exceeded their usage-based expectation quite like Austin Ekeler, who is averaging 21.9 FPG (most among all slate-eligible RBs) and 16.8 XFP per game. He’s exactly what Scott Barrett said he was in the 2021 Bell Cow Report — a hyper-efficient scatback on steroids. And his efficiency is borderline unmatched, and maybe only comparable to Alvin Kamara with Drew Brees under center.
Among all players with at least 50 carries, Ekeler’s 1.31 fantasy points per touch ranks 2nd-best, behind only Cordarrelle Paterson while Ekeler’s 0.48 fantasy points per snap ranks 4th among all RBs. And Ekeler ranks top-10 among RBs with at least 50 carries in yards after contact per attempt (3.27), YPC (5.0), PFF rushing grade (80.0), PFF elusive rating (72.8), avoided tackles per rush attempt (0.23), and total EPA (9.8). If it weren’t for Cordarrelle Patterson, Ekeler would indisputably be the most efficient RB in football.
Now Ekeler gets a matchup with Philadelphia, a team that’s allowed the 4th-most FPG to opposing RBs (28.5) and the 3rd-most schedule-adjusted FPG to opposing RBs over the last 5 weeks (+8.3). Ekeler currently ranks 4th among RBs in targets per game (6.1), and the Eagles haven’t defended pass catching RBs well, allowing the 8th-most receiving yards and 4th-most receiving TDs to opposing RBs. For a player like Ekeler, this is an ideal matchup.
Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Dallas Cowboys
[DK: RB7, FD: RB6]
Elliott probably has the best touchdown upside of any player on the slate, but he’s massively chalky in spite of the fact that Tony Pollard appears locked into 8-10 touches on a weekly basis. I think I prefer Austin Ekeler on DraftKings, and there’s merit to being underowned relative to the rest of the field in tournaments, but he’s no doubt a top-2 RB play on both sites.
Update: And he’s an especially phenomenal play now with TE Blake Jarwin out, and WRs Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb, and Michael Gallup all questionable.
Among slate-eligible RBs, Zeke ranks 3rd in touches per game (19.7), 1st in XTD per game (0.9), 2nd in XFP per game (18.2), and 5th in FPG (17.8). Still, he’s the cheapest he’s been on both DFS sites since Week 5, despite a solid matchup against Denver and the slate’s 2nd-highest implied team total (29.75), providing Zeke with arguably the best TD upside of the slate.
The Broncos rank 7th-worst in Football Outsiders rush defense DVOA (-4.9%), just lost one of their best run defenders in Von Miller (83.0 PFF rush defense grade), and have given up 4.8 YPC over their last 3 games (9th-worst).
Not to mention Zeke has historically performed quite well in similar scoring environments, averaging 23.2 DraftKings FPG and 20.2 Fanduel FPG in his career when the Cowboys are favored by 7.0-points or more. If extrapolated over the full season, those numbers would currently rank 2nd among all RBs. There is valid concern over Tony Pollard eating into Elliott’s workload, but Zeke ranking top-3 on the slate in both touches and XFP should dissuade any serious concerns. Zeke is clearly a top-3 RB option on the Week 9 main slate, but just isn’t priced like it as the RB7 (by salary) on DraftKings and the RB6 on Fanduel.
Cordarrelle Patterson, RB, Atlanta Falcons
[DK: RB11, FD: RB13]
CPat ranks 26th among RBs in total touches (96), but 6th in FPG (19.2) largely due to his receiving role and outstanding red zone efficiency. Patterson has scored 0.6 more TDs per game than expected, the most of any RB. But, it may not be just pure luck, as Patterson is the 4th-most efficient runner in NFL history (5.6 career YPC) and has been playing outstanding football (87.7 overall PFF grade). Plus we have never seen a high-volume CPat — he’s already eclipsed his career high in touches, and it’s only Week 7. We need more data points to know for sure, but Patterson is looking like a Tyreek Hill- or Derrick Henry-type of player, as in we can actually rely on him to consistently exceed his usage-based expectation.
His 5.9 targets per game rank 5th among RBs, and unlike almost all other RBs, Patterson is running WR routes — as his 3.5 aDOT and 25 targets from WR alignments leads the position. With Calvin Ridley out indefinitely, it’s fair to assume Patterson is the No. 2 pass catcher on this team, on top of the 12.3 carries per game he had been seeing. In fact, Patterson has averaged 4.7 more touches per game in the two games Ridley has missed this season. The 17.5 touches per game he has averaged in Ridley’s absence would rank 12th among all players this season, ahead of Aaron Jones, D’Andre Swift, Austin Ekeler, Leonard Fournette, and James Robinson.
Week 9 ushers in a tougher matchup against New Orleans, but Patterson’s ‘positionless’ nature makes him less likely to succumb to the Saints outstanding run defense (18.3 FPG allowed, 4th-best) than pure RBs like teammate Mike Davis. Patterson could easily be priced about $1,000 higher on both sites, and he should be quite popular in Week 9 given the price discount relative to his production.
Nick Chubb, RB, Cleveland Browns
[DK: RB9, FD: RB7]
Chubb was Johnny’s favorite GPP-play of Week 8, and though it didn’t materialize in a tough matchup, he’s a strong GPP-play again this week (in a much softer matchup).
Chubb didn’t exactly impress in his first game back, scoring just 6.9 fantasy points. Granted, that poor performance did come against one of the league’s toughest run defenses in Pittsburgh, who have allowed -5.7 schedule-adjusted FPG to opposing RBs this season (3rd-best). And Chubb still earned 17 total touches, showcasing the consistent volume Chubb is locked into with Kareem Hunt still on IR. Chubb was also out-carried in the red zone 2-1 by D’Ernest Johnson, which is something I wouldn’t anticipate going forward as Chubb leads the Browns, and ranks 6th in the NFL with 25 carries inside the red zone.
Week 9 ushers in a favorable matchup for Chubb, as Cincinnati has allowed the 5th-most schedule-adjusted FPG to opposing RBs (+5.1). It is worth noting that the Browns are actually 2.5-point underdogs in this game, something that makes Chubb a tournament only play. Since entering the league in 2018, Chubb averages 18.6 DraftKings FPG and 16.3 Fanduel FPG in Cleveland wins, compared to just 14.3 DK FPG and 12.5 Fanduel FPG in losses. I’ll have most of my Chubb exposure on Fanduel, where his $7,600 salary is $275 cheaper than his average salary over the last 8 weeks, and he won’t suffer nearly as much from his lack of receiving work.
Elijah Mitchell, RB, San Francisco 49ers
[DK: RB16, FD: RB12]
Notes: I liked Mitchell more earlier in the week, and especially if stacked with San Francisco’s DST. And I would have liked him even more now with TE George Kittle back to help the run-game… But this quote from HC Kyle Shanahan is a little concerning. Basically, Mitchell’s rib injury might limit his usage, and perhaps RB Jeff Wilson returns this week. So, keep an eye on Wilson’s status on Sunday morning.
The 49ers are the 5th-most run-heavy team versus expectation. Mitchell has seen at least 18 touches in 4 of 5 games this year, along with an 83% carry share (4th-most) and a 5.3 YPC average. The Cardinals have allowed a healthy 4.77 YPC average to opposing RBs (4th-most) and are dead-last in explosive runs allowed (16%). With Vegas favoring San Francisco over the fast-paced Cardinals (by 2.0-points), expecting Kyler Murray to sit, he could be in line for his best workload yet. He’s risky, with near-zero pass-game involvement, but he’s also hit 16.0 FD fantasy points and 19.0 DK fantasy points in 3 of 5 games. He’s a strong GPP-play, ranking 16th (DK) and 12th (FD) in salary.
Josh Jacobs, RB, Las Vegas Raiders
[DK: RB12, FD: RB11]
Jacobs suffered a chest injury in Week 7, causing him to sit out for the entirety of the second-half. But he’s off the injury report following the bye, and should be started this week as a high-end RB2.
Since returning from a separate injury (ankle) in Week 4, Jacobs has averaged 15.1 carries, 4.3 targets, 16.8 XFP (RB10), and 16.7 fantasy points per four quarters (RB14). From Week 4 until his final touch of Week 7, he’s handled a bell cow-like 81% of the carries and 70% of the targets out of the backfield (on 68% of the team’s snaps). And he’s run a route on 48% of the team’s dropbacks (up from 38% last year). All of this is especially impressive considering the Raiders trailed on 61% of their offensive plays over this stretch. And Jacobs has long been one of the most gamescript-sensitive players in fantasy. Throughout his career, Jacobs averages 20.0 FPG in wins but only 10.5 FPG in losses.
So, in addition to seeing what looks like the best usage of his career, Jacobs also gets a top-10 matchup this week. The Raiders are favored by 3.0-points, and the Giants rank 6th-worst in YPC allowed to opposing RBs (4.53) and 9th-worst in schedule-adjusted FPG to opposing RBs (+2.4).
Zack Moss, RB, Buffalo Bills
[DK: RB22, FD: RB25]
Truthfully, I almost never play Moss. I just don’t trust that he has week-winning upside, and the threat of Josh Allen as a goal-line vulture always concerns me. But, he is cheap, and (for tournaments) does offer significant leverage off of Allen and his chalky pass-catchers.
Moss has seen at least 14 touches in every game the Bills have won by multiple scores. And this week they play Jacksonville, as a 14.5-point favorite. The Jags have given up the 6th-most rushing FPG to opposing RBs (15.7), and the 4th-most TDs (8). Moss is the undisputed leader for Buffalo inside the red zone, leading the team (and ranking 8th in the NFL) with 4.0 opportunities inside the 20 yard line per game. That’s reflected well on Moss’ TD expectation, as he also ranks 13th among RBs with 0.6 XTD per game. That usage in a game environment where the Bills should face plenty of positive gamescript suggests immense TD upside. Moss isn’t in play for cash games, but he is an ideal tournament play, especially on Fanduel where he’s the RB25 (by salary), as a multi-TD performance is absolutely within reach.
Other / Notes
- Devontae Booker leads all RBs in snap share (83%) since Week 5. Last week that jumped to 93%, and now RB Gary Brightwell is on the COVID list. Over this span, Booker has averaged 14.5 carries, 4.5 targets, 17.8 XFP, and 16.0 FPG while handling 83% of the team’s XFP out of the backfield. If over the full season, and among all slate-eligible and active RBs, the latter three numbers would rank 9th-best, 3rd-best, and best (respectively). And yet, he’s just the 15th (DK) and 20th (FD) highest-priced RB of the slate… The Giants are only 3.0-point underdogs and the Raiders have given up the 7th-most schedule-adjusted FPG to opposing RBs (+4.4). And they rank 7th-worst in both YPC allowed (4.47) and rushing FPG allowed (15.0). He’s a top-3 overall play, and one that I think we’ll get at low ownership.
- Damien Harris averages 21.0 DK FPG over his last three games. He gets favorable projected gamescript this week (favored by 4.0-points), but a brutal on-paper matchup against the Panthers. Our projections love him, but I’m less bullish. Still, he’s a solid GPP-play if stacked with New England’s DST. Wes Huber spent more time on him here.
- You can chase the volume with Joe Mixon on FanDuel. He’s pretty mispriced on FanDuel (RB10) and gets favorable projected gamescript against the Browns (-2.5), though the on-paper matchup is somewhere between bottom-3 and bottom-10. Last week he played on 76% of the team’s snaps, earning 14 of 14 carries, 5 of 7 targets, and 6 of 6 opportunities inside the 10-yard-line. He scored 25.1 fantasy points (2nd-most) on a 28.2-point expectation (3rd-most). And you can make the argument that the only thing holding him back from this sort of full-on bell cow workload was that he wasn’t fully healthy, but clearly is now.
- We were complementary of Chase Edmonds on the livestream, but there’s not really a great argument for him beyond the projected negative gamescript suiting his skillset better than Conner’s and the fact that he’s very cheap on a week without many good RB plays.
- Myles Gaskin is pretty cheap on FanDuel (RB23). Graham Barfield spent extra time on him here.
Tyreek Hill, WR, Kansas City Chiefs
[DK: WR2, FD: WR2]
Hill appears to be back to full health, although I’m not so sure about Travis Kelce. And, thus, perhaps one of the most highly-concentrated offenses becomes even more highly-concentrated. Hill earned 18 targets last week, and was effective despite a tough matchup, catching 12 passes for 94 yards and a score. Patrick Mahomes may not need to keep his foot on the gas against a Jordan Love-led Packers offense, but the Chiefs also rank top-3 in pass percentage over expectation for the third season in a row. And we’ve seen the Jaire Alexander-less Packers give up big games to opposing WR1s in recent weeks (30.9 DK fantasy points to Ja'Marr Chase and 28.2 DK fantasy points to Terry McLaurin).
I have no idea what Hill’s ownership is going to be, but I know I’m going to have more exposure than the rest of the field.
This is the cheapest Hill has been on DraftKings since Week 12 of 2020. And he costs 5.6% less than Davante Adams on Fanduel, despite the fact Hill has been 9.2% more productive. Most importantly, Hill is seeing the best volume of his career, averaging 11.9 targets per game (+2.9 from his previous career high), 3.3 red zone targets per game (+0.4), and 20.7 XFP per game (+3.7).
Given that Hill is a player who has always historically outperformed his expectation, the fact he’s seeing a workload on par with Davante Adams is absolutely huge. If Cooper Kupp wasn’t having potentially the greatest fantasy WR season of all-time, we’d undoubtedly be talking about Hill as the favorite to be the overall WR1 this season.
It’s worth noting that Aaron Rodgers being ruled out for this game did tank the total, which is currently sitting at 48.0. That’s still the 4th-highest total of the Week 9 main slate, so despite Rodgers absence, this remains one of the more favorable scoring environments of the week. And let’s not forget Hill’s absolutely ridiculous upside. He’s had more 40+ point fantasy outings (6) than any other player since 2018, and has two of the top-60 best fantasy performances of the past 20 years under his belt. When Hill goes off, he goes off in a truly slate-breaking way. Hill is the top WR play in tournaments this week, especially on DraftKings where he’s inexplicably priced about $1,000 too low.
Kadarius Toney, WR, New York Giants
[DK: WR28, FD: WR34]
Toney is no doubt risky, dealing with multiple injuries (ankle, hand), but there’s immense upside as well. WR Sterling Shepard (8th in targets per route) is out, and Toney has averaged 11.0 targets, 8.0 receptions, and 137.5 YFS per game in the two games he’s missed. Since Week 4, Toney ranks 2nd in targets per route (0.35) and 1st in YPRR (4.11). If we assume a 90% route share on the 40 dropbacks per game the Raiders are giving up, that would translate to about 14 targets and 165 receiving yards.
Giants OC Jason Garrett gets trashed every week on twitter, but he’s actually done a terrific job scheming up Toney; getting him open in space where he’s most dangerous, via designed plays, screens, pick-plays, etc.
He ranks just 28th (DK) and 34th (FD) in salary, and, I suspect, he’ll be one of my highest-owned players in GPPs this week.
“[The individual CB matchup is tough, but] this particular schematic matchup against a Raiders’ defense featuring the highest rate of Cover 3 simply leans too far in Toney’s favor to ignore. With the cutoff set at 10 receptions for individual coverage qualification, Toney ranks 2nd-best this season with 0.85 FP/Rt, leads all WRs with 5.06 YPRR, stands 7th in YPT (12.46), and 1st in target rate drawn when on the field against Cover 3 (41%). CB Nate Hobbs will be in the vicinity of Toney while he’s doing most of his work and the Raiders will stalk Daniel Jones with the league’s highest QB pressure rate. But my confidence in Toney this week would only be threatened by picking up another injury.”
Justin Jefferson, WR, Minnesota Vikings
[DK: WR6, FD: WR7]
Notes: Baltimore runs Cover-1 at the 6th-highest rate in the NFL. They’ve given up the 4th-most passing FPG to opposing QBs (18.6). Since Week 1 of the 2018 season, Kirk Cousins ranks second among all QBs with 0.58 FP/Db against Cover 1. Built into that number is a 116.7 passer rating (second-highest), 22% jump in YPA (third), and 21% increase in air yard/attempts (ninth). He’s assaulted single coverage with 28 TDs vs. only three INTs…
Justin Jefferson has not reached paydirt since Week 4. We could look at the 23% decline in his YPRR from his rookie season (2.66) as concerning. But I’ve seen nothing on film or in the analytics that raise a red flag. The reason I view JJ as being on a path toward a potential Hall of Fame career is his complete dominance of the two most common NFL coverage schemes: Cover 1 and Cover 3. He’s averaging 2.62 YPRR against Cover 3 and 3.70 YPRR when facing Cover 1 this season. He ranks fourth-best with 0.74 FP/Rt vs. Cover 1 during his career. That’s a 55% increase in production above his overall average (fourth-best). He also ranks second across from single coverage with 4.13 YPRR, third with 13.73 YPT, and seventh by drawing targets on just under 40% of his reps.
When Baltimore lost Marcus Peters for the season, 2018 fourth-rounder Anthony Averett was thrust into a featured role on the outside. With Jefferson running more than half of his routes from the left side, Averett will need to bring his A-game on Sunday. The former Alabama corner is permitting 1.67 YPCS (77th), 0.31 FP/CS (67th), 0.40 AY/CS (66th), and a 75.5 passer rating (17th). With Marlon Humphrey still struggling to emerge from his atypical coverage numbers, even if Martindale were to decide to shadow Jefferson with his star corner, I’d still confidently expose my lineups to a high amount of JJ action.
Marquise Brown, WR, Baltimore Ravens
[DK: WR15, FD: WR5]
Across the full season, Brown ranks 6th in air yards per game (123.3), 26th in XFP per game (14.8), and 9th in FPG (18.6). Over his last 15 games (including the postseason), he averages 17.2 FPG (would have ranked 8th-best last year), hitting at least 12.5 fantasy points in 13 of those 15 games. He currently ranks 5th among all slate-eligible WRs in FPG (18.6), but is just the 15th highest-priced WR on DraftKings.
From Wes Huber’s The Bottom Line:
Notes: Mark Andrews has a brutal matchup against top-3 coverage linebacker Eric Kendricks. The Vikings rank 6th-best in schedule-adjusted FPG allowed to opposing TEs (-3.8)… WRs Rashod Bateman and Sammy Watkins are both questionable…
During Marquise Brown’s career, he ranks third-best among all wideouts with 0.51 FP/Rt when facing Cover 2. That success is fueled by 2.68 YPRR (fourth-highest), 18.7 YPT (first), and with an 18% increase in air yards/attempt (seventh). I check to see if Brown will face enough Cover 2 snaps each week. He’s that good against his favorite coverage. And it just so happens that Minnesota features the sixth-highest rate of Cover 2. With a 50-point implied total, the sixth-highest team total at 28 points, you can imagine my surprise to see that Hollywood will be passed over by ~93% of the field.
The Bottom Line: Running just under 70% of his routes from the right side, Brown will see a ton of reps against Bashaud Breeland, the Vikings’ starter at left CB. Breeland is supporting 1.97 YPCS (81st among 83 qualified outside CBs), 0.44 FP/CS (82nd), 0.33 AY/CS (33rd), and a 118.7 TPR (73rd). For obvious reasons, he’s also been the seventh-most targeted outside corner. The Vikings are promoting sixth-most FPG to opposing WRs this season (40.3), the most over the last two games (63.9). And they are also pacing the league in production allowed to receivers working from the outside (21.5). Need I say more?
Keenan Allen, WR, Los Angeles Chargers
[DK: WR11, FD: WR14]
Allen ranks 3rd among all slate-eligible WRs in XFP per game (18.5), just behind Tyreek Hill and Davante Adams. And yet, he ranks just 11th (DK) and 13th (FD) in pricing this week.
Mike Williams has the tougher draw this week, against Darius Slay’s shadow coverage. Slay ranks 5th-best in PFF grade and 13th-best of 96 qualifying CBs in yards allowed per snap in coverage. In three shadow games (Mike Evans, D.J. Moore, and Henry Ruggs), Slay’s opposing WR1 is averaging just 6.8 FPG. And Philadelphia intentionally sells out to stop the deep ball (ranking 4th-best in FPG allowed to opposing WRs on deep passes), and Williams has scored 38% of his fantasy production on deep passes (vs. 20% for Allen).
Further benefiting Allen (at Williams’ expense), the Eagles are also somewhat of a slot funnel defense (though, by efficiency far more than production). Opposing QBs average a 139.6 passer rating when targeting slot WRs (worst) as opposed to a 84.4 passer rating when targeting outside WRs (5th-best). So, if Herbert has the sort of game Wes Huber suspects, I’m confident at least one of Allen or Austin Ekeler are on a high number of winning lineups.
Jerry Jeudy, WR, Denver Broncos
[DK: WR33, FD: WR30]
Denver is the 2nd-most pass-heavy team in football when trailing (74%), and they’re 10-point underdogs this week. TE Noah Fant is out, and WR Courtland Sutton is likely to draw shadow coverage from CB Trevon Diggs. In other words, Jeudy should be the focal-point of the offense this week.
Dallas surprisingly ranks 13th-best in FPG allowed to opposing slot WRs, but we’ve seen several full-time slots post big games against them: 9/105/1 to Chris Godwin, 4/108 to Keenan Allen, and 10/198 to Kadarius Toney. And Jakobi Meyers would have dropped a 6/69/1 line, had he not had his touchdown-catch negated due to penalty.
Jeudy’s Week 1 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. (In other words, he was on pace for 171 receiving yards.)
In his first game back, last week, he was eased back into the offense playing on 72% of the snaps. And though he tied for the team-high in targets, he saw only four (15% target share), catching all 4 for 39 yards.
Ultimately, the best argument I have is this: Jeudy was one of our top must-draft targets all offseason, he’s going to draw low ownership this week, and he’s just the 33rd- (DK) and 30th- (FD) most expensive WR of the slate. You don’t have to tail me, but know I’m going to have heavy exposure this week.
Amari Cooper, WR, Dallas Cowboys
[DK: WR19, FD: WR15]
Cooper is stupidly mispriced on both sites this week.
With Dak Prescott under center, Cooper hasn’t been cheaper than $6,000 on DraftKings since Week 12 of 2018, and he’s only been cheaper than $7,000 on Fanduel once since the start of 2019. With Prescott likely to play in Week 9, this is an excellent opportunity to grab Cooper at a massive relative discount in GPPs.
Dallas offers an implied team total of 29.25 this week, and Cooper has historically averaged 19.0 DraftKings FPG and 15.6 Fanduel FPG when Dallas has a team total higher than 28.0 over the last four seasons (8 instances). Those numbers would currently rank 10th and 9th among WRs this season, but more importantly, Cooper has borderline unmatched single-game upside. Since 2018, only Tyreek Hill (6) and Davante Adams (5) have more games of 35.0 fantasy points than Cooper (4). Comparable game breaking upside to Hill and Adams, for a roughly 30% salary discount on both sites? Yes please. Cooper is one of the top WR plays in Week 9 tournaments, especially on DraftKings.
CeeDee Lamb, WR, Dallas Cowboys
[DK: WR7, FD: WR8]
Notes: We had some late-week injury news on Lamb (ankle), so check for the update after the jump. But, basically, I’m now just about fully off of Lamb this week.
Wes Huber had this to say of Cooper: “The Cowboys feature the third-highest Cover 1 rate. They are endorsing the fourth-most passing YPG (278.1), 11th-highest YPC (7.35), eighth-highest completion rate on throws of 20-plus yards (17.3%), and 11th-most FPG to QBs (19.3). Amari Cooper ($5.7K/$6.9K) loves working against Cover 1. He ranks 10th-best over the last three years with 0.66 FP/Rt vs. Cover 1. Cooper is going to do well this week.”
But he had this to say about CeeDee Lamb: “If the cards fall as expected, Lamb could post a season-, possibly career-, best performance on Sunday.”
Here’s the full blurb, from Advanced Matchups:
Yeah, all serious DFS competitors already know CeeDee Lamb is a weekly consideration. He ranks 12th with 0.494 FPs/touch, 14th with 11.1 YPT, and ninth with 2.47 YPRR. He’ll face a Denver defense utilizing the fourth-highest rate of Cover 1 and second-highest of Cover 6. The only factor that prevented me from listing Dak Prescott as a Target is the calf strain that forced him to miss Week 8. But Cooper Rush just proved that he can capably feed Lamb, fueling a 6/112/0 line last week against Minnesota. And that result is important for underlining this matchup. The Vikings are using the third-highest rate of Cover 6.
Lamb put up 3/40/0 of his line across from that Cover 6. During his career, Lamb is sixth-best with 0.49 FP/Rt vs. Cover 6. CeeDee ranks sixth-best with 2.61 YPRR, third with 14.9 YPT, and is second in among all WRs over the last three years with two TD receptions against Cover 6. Since Lamb runs nearly two-thirds of routes from the left side, he’ll face Ronald Darby on all of those snaps. Darby is delivering 1.59 YPCS (67th), 0.31 FP/CS (66th), 0.60 AY/CS (77th), and a 112.4 TPR (66th). If the cards fall as expected, Lamb could post a season-, possibly career-, best performance on Sunday.
Brandin Cooks, WR, Houston Texans
[DK: WR14, FD: WR16]
I like but don’t love Cooks this week. Still, Huber makes a compelling case for him here.
And, for the record, I do expect Xavien Howard to shadow, but he’s given up 18.7 FPG in his four shadow games this year (Stefon Diggs x2, Henry Ruggs, and Antonio Brown).
From Wes Huber’s The Bottom Line:
I’ve made my case for rostering his QB. And, in every lineup where I have Taylor rostered, I have him stacked with Brandin Cooks. The alignment rates indicate that Cooks will see the most reps across from Byron Jones. But Cooks’ time is distributed pretty evenly across the formation, so he’ll also see coverage from Xavien Howard, Nik Needham, etc. Even if Miami ends up tailing Cooks directly with Howard, I still see this as must-start territory. Miami is using the second-highest rate of Cover 1, the highest rate of man coverage. If Howard doesn’t shadow Cooks, Jones is permitting 1.15 YPCS (ranked 41st out of 83 qualified outside corners), 0.27 FP/CS (46th), 0.31 AY/CS (52nd), and a 105.0 TPR (53rd). The ‘Phins are kindly distributing the most FPG to opposing offenses (105.9). That includes the fourth-most to QBs (21.6) and second-most to WRs (43.6).
The Bottom Line: Cooks is collecting a 29% target share (fifth-highest), so his 0.46 FP/Rt (17th) and 2.21 YPRR (18th) inform us he has significant room for improvements now that Taylor is back in control of the offense. I am anticipating Houston taking this game on the road. And I see a lot more scoring potential than the 46 implied points. Taylor showed us earlier this season that he is going to drive this offense down the field no matter what the public perception might be. And the Dolphins’ defense is, in my view, at least 75% responsible for Miami’s terrible 2021 season.
Other / Notes
- News Update: WR CeeDee Lamb apparently rolled his ankle on Wednesday. HC Mike McCarthy said he should be okay, and he “feels good” about WRs Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup, though all three are still listed as questionable to play. TE Blake Jarwin is confirmed out… So, yeah, this makes everything a lot more murky. Dalton Schultz deserves a bump in our projections, the size of which may depend on Gallup’s status. And, honestly, probably Ezekiel Elliott too (at QB Dak Prescott’s expense)… As much as Wes Huber likes Lamb, I significantly prefer Cooper. He’ll be pretty chalky though, so if you have confidence in Wes’ projection (in spite of the ankle injury we only got word of after his article was written), you can fade Cooper in tournaments and play Lamb as leverage at a much lower ownership.
- Jarvis Landry is just the 32nd- (DK) and 28th (FD) most-expensive WR of the slate. Since returning from injury in Week 7, Landry ranks 3rd in targets per route (32%). Over the past three seasons, Landry has played in 9 full games without Odell Beckham Jr., averaging 7.4 targets and 15.0 FPG over this span. Or, over his last six full games, 8.2 targets and 19.2 FPG (~WR6). The Bengals are giving up the most FPG to opposing outside WRs (26.7) and the 10th-most FPG to opposing slot WRs (15.1), and Landry has spent equal time outside vs. in the slot in games without Beckham this year… All of this being said, he’s probably still a little banged up, and QB Baker Mayfield surely is. Though, WR Donovan Peoples-Jones and TE Harrison Bryant are both hurt and questionable as well… There’s some risk here, but he's no doubt a phenomenal value.
- I think Rondale Moore is very interesting. Moore was Colt McCoy’s favorite receiver this preseason, earning a target on 23% of his routes with McCoy under center. Moore ranks 15th in YPRR (2.21), tied with Brandin Cooks, but is only a part-time player, running a route on just 51% of his team's dropbacks (though that jumped to 73% last week). He should see an expanded role this week, with WR A.J. Green out and WR DeAndre Hopkins questionable. He’s just the WR52 (DK) and WR60 (FD) by pricing this week.
- Jaylen Waddle has a fairly tough matchup on paper. He typically runs 63% of his routes from the slot with WR Devante Parker out, and, though the Texans rank 2nd-worst in FPG allowed to outside WRs (26.2), they rank 10th-best against slot WRs (10.9). Still, he’s no doubt a mispriced value, as just the WR20 (DK) and WR25 (FD) of the week, coming off of an 11-target day with Parker active (his third game with as many targets)… This season, Waddle was the intended target on 25% of his former Alabama teammate Tua Tagovailoa’s throws (would rank 10th-most among all WRs). He’s averaging 9.3 targets and 16.8 FPG in Tagovailoa’s four full games. Without Parker, that jumps to 10.5 and 22.2 in a small (two-game) sample size. He’s a phenomenal play for tournaments, and maybe Tagovailoa’s injured finger keeps his aDOT low and his eyes locked onto Waddle. But I’d pivot off of him if Tagovailoa is out.
- Cole Beasley is questionable… Stefon Diggs has been consistent this year, but hasn't flashed an upside-game yet, though I keep chasing it. He ranks 5th among all slate-eligible WRs in XFP per game (17.3), but just 11th in FPG (15.8). He gets a terrific on-paper matchup this week, as Jacksonville has given up the 5th-most schedule-adjusted FPG to opposing WR1s (+3.2)… That said, I do think CB Shaqill Griffin shadows him this week. That’s worth a small downgrade (in contrast to the numbers just cited), but only a small downgrade. He’s a much better value on FanDuel this week… WR Emmanuel Sanders should then spend most of his day against CB Tyson Campbell, who (of 83-qualifying CBs) ranks dead-last in both yards- and fantasy points allowed per snap in coverage. Among all slate-eligible WRs, Sanders ranks 20th in FPG (12.9) and 18th in XFP per game (12.7). In other words, he’d be appropriately priced if this were just a neutral matchup, ranking 20th (DK) and 19th (FD) in pricing. But, in this pillow-soft matchup, he’s a great value…
- Every single website in the fantasy industry has at least one Raiders WR popping as a top-5 value. I totally get it, but it feels like Russian Roulette to me, and I’ll probably just be fading the lot. But if forced to choose, give me Hunter Renfrow in a top-5 slot funnel matchup, though I still question his ceiling for tournaments.
- Ah, yes, the weekly Tee Higgins vs. Ja’Marr Chase debate… Higgins has been chalk for four straight weeks now and he’s still yet to reach even 14.0 fantasy points. Meanwhile, Chase has yet to score less than 13.0 DK fantasy points, and averages 28.6 DK FPG in his top-50% of games. So, I’ll just keep rolling with him. I also think the matchup is more in his favor. The Browns are giving up the 2nd-most FPG schedule-adjusted FPG to opposing WR1s (+7.1) and the 6th-most FPG to opposing WRs on deep passes (10.5). Despite whatever volume stats you want to look at, Chase is clearly the WR1 by production, and he also leads all players in FPG scored on deep passes (8.8 FPG, 44%). So, yeah, I’d be leaning more towards Chase… (Notes: Upgrade both if CB Denzel Ward sits out.)
- Brandon Aiyuk is just the 56th (DK) and 43rd (FD) highest-priced WR of the slate. And, importantly, I think he’s finally out of the doghouse. Last week, he saw season-highs in targets (7) and route share (96%), and Shanahan (after two months of weekly roastings) told reporters he thought Aiyuk had his best game of the season… Deebo Samuel appears to be seriously banged up (worse than last week) with a calf injury. And that’s the only reason he didn’t get a featured write-up. I spent a great deal of time praising him earlier in the week (here)… TE George Kittle’s return and QB Kyler Murray’s absence complicate things, but I still really like Aiyuk for tournaments. Afterall, he did do this last year… And this longer piece by Tim Kawakami of The Athletic is a must-read. It’s a narrative-play, but I do think Aiyuk is finally fully out of Shanahan’s doghouse. Of course, he also needs to regain QB Jimmy Garoppolo’s trust (in addition to Shanahan’s) as he ranks 16th-worst of 96 qualifiers in targets per route. But I get the vibe that Shanahan would like to make sure he’s rewarded for his recent string of good practices.
Kyle Shanahan: "Aiyuk’s strung together a number of really good weeks. And that’s what’s been encouraging about him. And just last week, doing just what he had done the previous few weeks, I thought he took his game to another level." https://t.co/H8yOe6es83— Jared Smola (@SmolaDS) November 6, 2021
- Mecole Hardman ranks just 59th in salary on DraftKings this week ($3,900), but he’s reached 60 receiving yards in 3 of his last 4 games, averaging 7.3 targets and 58.8 YFS per game over this span. Tyreek Hill's quad injury likely played a key role in this jump in production, and he looks back to full health (and is off the injury report), but Hardman is still vaguely in play as a punt.
- I’m not going to play him, but I do want to point out that Wes Huber’s coverage shell algorithm loves Tim Patrick, and so does my WR/CB projection model. But, yeah, I’m still not going to play him. So, pour one out for me if he smashes and tanks all of my Jeudy lineups.
Albert Okwuegbunam, TE, Denver Broncos
[DK: TE32, FD: TE28]
If Noah Fant is out (95% probability), Albert O. quickly becomes the best TE play of the slate, just $100 (DK) and $500 (FD) off minimum price. He’s a good bet for something close to the 86% route share Fant saw when he was out. Based on his usage this year (in his 36% route share-role), we should be expecting something along the lines of 6.7 targets, 47.1 yards, and 17.1 FPG (if that jumped to 86%). Obviously, that sort of production is probably far too lofty a goal (though Foster Moreau did just drop 18.0 fantasy points with Darren Waller out), but he’s still woefully mispriced in a top-12 matchup.
Dallas Goedert, TE, Philadelphia Eagles
[DK: TE10, FD: TE6]
Goedert ranks as just the 10th-highest-priced TE on DraftKings this week. And, well, that’s clearly a mistake.
I was very high on him early in the week, but I like him a little less now that the Chargers will be without their two starting outside CBs (Asante Samuel Jr. and Michael Davis). But, then again, I think it’s more likely than not the Chargers kick Hall of Fame slot CB Chris Harris Jr. outside to shadow WR DeVonta Smith full-time.
Dallas Goedert has hit 70 receiving yards in back-to-back games following the departure of Zach Ertz. Over this span, he’s run a route on 86% of the team’s dropbacks, turning a 20% target share into a 41% yardage share. If over the full season, those numbers would rank 2nd-best, 5th-best and best among all TEs, and the latter stat would rank 3rd-best among all receivers. We like him this week as a top-3 option, in a TE-funnel matchup against the Chargers. Los Angeles has given up the 4th-most FPG to opposing TEs (17.3), with a league-high 34.5% of their total receiving production allowed going to TEs.
Tyler Conklin, TE, Minnesota Vikings
[DK: TE19, FD: TE14]
Conklin earned 7 targets last week, eclipsing 55 receiving yards for the second week in a row. He now ranks 16th in route share (68%), 18th in XFP per game (8.4), and 18th in FPG (9.0). So, he won’t rank much higher than as a mid- to low-end TE2 in our rest of season rankings, but we like him this week as a fringe-TE1. Baltimore has given up a league-high 19.5 FPG to opposing TEs, with 29.7% of their total receiving fantasy points allowed going to TEs (2nd-most).
Other / Notes
- Mike Gesicki averages 8.5 targets, 100.0 receiving yards, and 22.0 DK FPG in his only two games with QB Tua Tagovailoa and without WR DeVante Parker. He gets a perfect matchup this week, against a Houston defense that’s given up the most schedule-adjusted FPG to opposing TEs (+5.6). WR Jaylen Waddle’s matchup is a little tougher, running 63% of his routes against a Texans defense that ranks top-10 in FPG allowed to opposing slot WRs (10.9). He’s a phenomenal GPP-play. (Notes: QB Tua Tagovailoa is dealing with a supposedly minor finger injury to his throwing hand. That’s certainly a concern, and if he’s out you can safely pivot off Gesicki.)
- Dalton Schultz averages a 72% route share, a 19.7% target share, and 14.7 FPG over his last five games. (And that’s including his 11-yard performance last week without Dak Prescott). If over the full season, those numbers would rank 12th-, 6th-, and 3rd-best among TEs. Denver is a brutal matchup on paper, but TE Blake Jarwin is out, WRs CeeDee Lamb and Amari Cooper are questionable, and WR Michael Gallup has not yet been activated from IR. He’s another terrific tournament-play.
- Since Week 5, Dan Arnold ranks 5th in targets per game (8.7), 5th in XFP per game (13.0), and 10th in FPG (10.6) on a 71% route share (15th). He’s cheap (TE15/TE16) but is only vaguely in play this week, in a bottom-3 matchup.
- Darren Waller is fully off the injury report, and is a top-3 play on FanDuel. The argument for him is fairly obvious with Henry Ruggs out, and with the remaining WRs (minus Hunter Renfrow) in a bottom-7 matchup.