Supermodel Tyra Banks has amassed $95M in earnings throughout her 30-year career.
Similarly, I have a model. It’s super – a true thing of beauty. And, while it hasn’t earned $95M, it has made me quite a bit of money over the years.
That model is the DFS SuperModel. Each week it will highlight the top-25 most mispriced players on both DraftKings and FanDuel. While I can’t tell you what exactly goes into the DFS SuperModel, I can tell you what does not go into it – namely, our projections. For the most part, you should be deferring to those – primarily the FPTS/$ column you’ll find here – or use both together.
That’s what I’ll be doing in this article, using both resources to help me highlight the top main slate DFS Value Plays in any given week. Here’s Week 12:
Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina Panthers (@ MIA)
DK: +$486, 2.52X
McCaffrey is just $9,000 (DK) / $9,700 (FD), which is to say he’s still $500 (DK) / $700 (FD) cheaper than his Week 1 salary. And, keep in mind, I was arguing he was still egregiously mispriced in Week 1.
McCaffrey appears back to full-health and back to his typical workload, playing on 90% of the team's snaps last week, earning 10 of 11 carries and 8 of 8 targets out of the backfield.
If excluding Weeks 3-9 due to injury (38% of snaps in games played), McCaffrey has now finished top-2 at the position (by fantasy points scored) in 9 of his last 21 games (43%). Top-6 in 18 of his last 21 games (86%), And top-8 in 20 of 21 (95%).
McCaffrey has also hit at least 24.5 DK fantasy points in 4 of his 4 healthy games this year, and in all 3 of his games last year. And he hit at least 21.5 DK in 13 of his final 14 games in 2019, averaging 31.6 DK FPG over this stretch.
In other words, when healthy, he’s the most consistent player in fantasy. Maybe the most consistent player in fantasy ever. And his floor is still arguably higher than any other player’s median projection. And so, he’s a must-play in cash every-week regardless of matchup, or at least until his salary gets jacked up by $1,000 or more.
Unfortunately, this week’s matchup does look fairly difficult. Miami ranks best in schedule-adjusted FPG allowed to opposing RBs over the last five weeks (-9.4), though, granted, they haven’t really played anyone of note. Ultimately, McCaffrey has only ever been the most consistent and most-matchup-immune player in fantasy, so I’m not going to over-react to that. And I’m probably just going to lock him into my cash lineups.
Diontae Johnson, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers (@ CIN)
DK: +$363, 2.38X / FD: +$561, 1.92X
Johnson is sort of the McCaffrey of fantasy WRs. Granted, he doesn’t have his slate-busting ceiling, but he is unrivaled at the position in terms of consistency.
(If we exclude a few games from 2020, where Johnson suffered an injury in the first-half, and that one game he was inexplicably benched for drops, then…)
Johnson has seen double-digit targets in an astounding 17 of his last 19 games with Ben Roethlisberger under center. Over this span, he averages 11.9 targets and 19.2 FPG. Over the past two seasons, those numbers would rank: best and 3rd-best.
And he’s seeing even better volume this year. Despite two injury games and one game Roethlisberger missed, Johnson ranks 2nd among all slate-eligible WRs in XFP/G (21.1) and 7th in FPG (17.6).
And yet, he’s always priced no better than a low-end WR1. By salary he’s the WR11 on DraftKings and the WR9 on FanDuel. And this week he gets a Bengals defense he dropped 23.3 DK FPG on last year, and which ranks 6th-worst in FPG allowed to opposing outside WRs (23.7). I suspect he’ll be on nearly all of my cash lineups this week.
Michael Pittman, WR, Indianapolis Colts (VS. TB)
DK: +$940 / FD: +$594
I imagine every DFS player in the world will spend at least 45 minutes debating whether or not they should play Jonathan Taylor. For me, that debate boiled down to something like, “Well, it’s a brutal matchup, against arguably the best run defense in football. But Taylor just dropped 53.4 fantasy points on the Bills, which also looked like a tough matchup on paper. And RB1s have had some success against the Buccaneers in recent weeks — over their last 6 games, Myles Gaskin, Miles Sanders, Khalil Herbert, Alvin Kamara, Antonio Gibson, and Saquon Barkley collectively averaged 18.6 DK FPG against them. And, anyway, I think Taylor is basically the newest iteration of 2018 Todd Gurley, which is to say he should never be lower than 10% owned, and he has the potential to break the slate any week irrespective of matchup.”
A lot of time will be spent debating Taylor this week, but Pittman deserves similar consideration. Especially if Taylor expects to be highly owned in tournaments, when the easiest argument for Pittman is the easiest argument against Taylor. Just fade Taylor and play Pittman. They’re massively negatively correlated together (-0.39), and this is the No. 2 pass funnel defense in football (+5.7%). And he is a top-3 pure value-play of the slate on both sites. Or, at least that’s what the SuperModel says.
Among all slate-eligible WRs, Pittman ranks 19th in XFP/G (14.4) and 15th in FPG (14.8), but 18th (DK) / 15th (FD) in salary. Tampa Bay appears deadly against WR1s, and especially in recent weeks, though they haven’t really played anyone of note (minus Terry McLaurin). Otherwise, the matchup looks extremely favorable, and I think it is, as they’re also giving up the 4th-most FPG to outside WRs (24.3), and no CB is likely to shadow (down two starters in Carlton Davis and Richard Sherman). So, I think that’s the more important datapoint.
James Robinson, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars (VS. ATL)
DK: +$271, 2.79X / FD: 2.08X
Robinson seems to be trending in the right direction health-wise, getting in his first Wednesday practice since Week 8. And with Robinson seemingly nearing full health, I think we should be expecting a full-on bell cow workload this week. And, thus, I think he should now be viewed identically to how we saw him last year — you know, when he finished 5th at the position in FPG, despite his team’s 1-15 record — which is to say, he should be valued as an easy RB1 this week, and throughout the remainder of the fantasy season.
Robinson played on only 63% of the snaps last week, but also handled 12 of 12 carries and 3 of 4 targets out of the backfield (90% of the backfield XFP). Seemingly, only losing empty snaps to Carlos Hyde (30% snap share). And so, it seems he already was a bell cow last week. And he clearly was prior to injury.
If excluding Weeks 8-10 due to injury, then Robinson averages 16.2 carries, 3.8 targets, 16.5 XFP (RB10), and 19.7 FPG (RB6) over his last 5 healthy games. Over this span, he’s handled 84% of the backfield XFP (RB2) on 74% of the snaps (RB5). He also ranks as PFF's 2nd-highest-graded runner (90.1) and 4th-best of 55-qualifying RBs in yards after contact per attempt.
And, in any case, he’s definitely an RB1 this week, probably a mid-RB1, and thus mispriced on DraftKings (RB11). Jacksonville enters as underdogs, but only by 2.0-points (best since Week 1), behind a 22.25-point implied total (best since Week 1). And the matchup is great; Atlanta ranks 5th-worst in schedule-adjusted FPG allowed to opposing RBs (+4.9), and bottom-6 in both rushing and receiving FPG allowed to enemy RBs.
Brandin Cooks, WR, Houston Texans (VS. NYJ)
DK: +$420, / FD: +$378
Cooks ranks as a top-6 overall value on DraftKings (3rd among WRs), per the DFS SuperModel. And well, he’s exactly the same sort of value he was last week, which is to say, he’s probably still too volatile for cash. The threat of bracket coverage is real, even against this dreadful Jets secondary, consisting mostly of practice squad-caliber players. But, though he’s extremely boom-or-bust, a “boom” performance seems more likely than not.
Cooks is the clear focal-point and near-entirety of the Texans’ offense, and is seeing terrific volume, but he’s only modestly productive, is woefully inefficient, and highly volatile. He’s hit 17.5 fantasy points in 5 (6th-most) of his 10 games, but averages just 7.5 FPG the rest of the time. He ranks 7th in target share (26%), 8th in XFP% (23%), 12th in targets per game (9.4), 14th in XFP per game (15.9), and 28th in FPG (13.7). So, fringe-WR1 volume, high-end WR3 production, and bottom-10 levels of inefficiency. I think that seems about right as an every-week expectation moving forward.
However, part of the problem is, Cooks has flopped in back-to-back games. And both games were near-perfect matchups. In Week 9, he scored 11.6 fantasy points against a Dolphins defense that ranks 2nd-worst in FPG allowed to opposing WRs. In Week 11, after his bye, he scored just 3.8 fantasy points against a Titans defense ranking 3rd-worst. Clearly, he’s become very hard to trust and highly volatile.
But, still, I think you have little choice but to add some GPP exposure to him this week. Because this week’s matchup is again incredible. Over the last five weeks, the Jets are giving up a league-high +10.9 schedule-adjusted FPG to opposing WRs, and the 4th-most to opposing WR1s (+4.2).
Cooks ranks 10th among all slate-eligible WRs in XFP/G (15.9), though 19th in FPG (13.7). But in this pillow-soft matchup, he’s a clear value priced as just the 16th (DK) and 17th (FD) most expensive WR on the slate.
Jakobi Meyers, WR, New England Patriots (VS. TEN)
DK: 2.44X / FD: +$244, 1.70X
Meyers got off to a relatively hot start, averaging 13.4 FPG through his first 4 games, but that's fallen to just 9.2 FPG in the 7 games since. Among all slate-eligible WRs, he ranks 23rd in targets per game (7.8), 28th in XFP/G (12.8), and 33rd in FPG (10.2). Obviously the flukey lack of touchdowns are hurting his numbers, but he has been fairly inefficient beyond that as well.
So, what’s going on?
I think Meyers has been underperforming due to an outlandishly and outlierishly difficult stretch of schedule. Over his last 8 games, he’s faced 3 teams ranking top-3, 5 teams ranking top-10, and 0 teams ranking bottom-12 by FPG allowed to opposing slot WRs. And that’s an issue, as that’s where he runs 68% of his routes. Luckily for him, he gets his softest matchup yet — the softest possible matchup for any slot WR; the Titans rank worst in FPG allowed to opposing slot WRs (18.8%).
As just the 31st- (DK) and 35th- (FD) highest-priced WR on the slate, he’s a strong cash-play, though I still question his upside for tournaments (due to the lack of touchdowns).
Pat Freiermuth, TE, Pittsburgh Steelers (@ CIN)
FD: +$300, 1.49X
Since Week 6, Freiermuth ranks 6th in targets per game (7.4), 4th in XFP/G (13.6), and 4th in FPG (13.5). He’s seen at least 6 targets in 5 of 5 games over this span, or at least 7 targets in 4 of 5 games. He has 4 touchdowns over his last 4 games, and has also hit double-digit fantasy points in 4 of his last 5 games.
Keep in mind, TE Eric Ebron played in 3 of these 5 games, and when he was out, Freiermuth averaged 17.9 FPG, and his route share jumped from 57% to 70%. With Ebron now out for an extended period of time — potentially the remainder of the season — Friermuth needs to be viewed as an every-week TE1.
And that’s also how he should be viewed this week as well. Cincinnati ranks as an almost perfectly neutral matchup on paper (-0.2), but matchups don’t really matter too much for TEs unless at the polar extreme. So, he’s fairly mispriced on both sites, and especially on FanDuel where touchdowns are so important, as just the TE8 (DK) and TE10 (FD) of the slate.
Keenan Allen, WR, Los Angeles Chargers (@ DEN)
FD: +$594, 2.00X
In Week 6 I was screaming from the rooftops that Allen was a massive buy-low candidate and a top-3 top positive regression candidate. At this point in time, he ranked 4th in XFP/G (19.9) but just 21st in FPG (15.4). Meanwhile, Mike Williams ranked top-6 by both stats.
In the 5 games since, Allen ranks 8th in XFP/G (18.2) and 11th in FPG (18.0). And Williams ranks outside of the top-40 by both stats.
So, Allen now ranks 5th among all slate-eligible WRs in XFP/G (19.1) and 9th in FPG (16.7). And since Week 8, he ranks top-4 in both stats, averaging 20.0 FPG (low of 17.8) and 19.8 XFP/G (low of 18.1). And yet, he’s just the WR6 on DraftKings and the WR10 on FanDuel by pricing.
He gets a great matchup this week, running 62% of his routes from the slot. Denver ranks 11th-worst in both FPG allowed to outside (22.6) and slot WRs (13.8). But digging deeper, the matchup seems to be far more in his favor than Williams’. After losing slot CB Bryce Callahan to IR (knee), Denver has been forced to start Kyle Fuller in the slot, where he’s struggled, ranking bottom-12 in yards allowed per snap in coverage.
Elijah Moore, WR, New York Jets (@ HOU)
DK: 2.54X / FD: 1.79X
Oh boy. Has it finally happened? The true Elijah Moore breakout we’ve long awaited?
Since Week 8, Moore leads all wide receivers in fantasy points scored, averaging 20.9 FPG. Over this span, he ranks 4th in YPRR (2.92) and 2nd in PFF grade (86.7). And he’s been the single most efficient WR in fantasy over this stretch, exceeding his volume-based expectation by a whopping 61%.
He’s now hit double-digit fantasy points in 5 of his last 5 games, and 25.0-plus fantasy points in 2 of his last 3 games. That seems… I don’t know… Good?
But up until last week, Moore’s production felt somewhat flukey. Or at least, hard to trust. Over the prior three weeks, Moore was clearly and inexplicably just a part-time player, running a route on only 51% of his team’s dropbacks. And, keep in mind, the team was without Corey Davis in two of those three games. But last week, Moore’s route-share jumped to 82%. And he looked dominant in that new full-time role, turning a team-high 11 targets into 8 catches for 141 yards and a score (plus 15 rushing yards on one carry).
What took so long? I have no idea.
I’m now back fully on board the Elijah Moore hype-train, but in order for him to come anywhere near Exodia-status, like I dreamed of this offseason, we need competent QB-play from Zach Wilson. We need him to be only Joe Flacco-, Mike White-, or Josh Johnson-levels of bad, rather than “worst QB in football”-bad. Because Moore averages just 5.0 FPG in Wilson starts, but 20.9 FPG without him. So, that seems to be the one thing that could derail the Elijah Moore hype-train and breakout campaign.
But, even with my distrust of Wilson, I’m still going to load up on Moore-shares this week. He gets a near-perfect matchup against a Texans defense that ranks 2nd-worst in FPG allowed to opposing outside WRs (25.8). And he’s pretty mispriced as just the WR18 (DK) and WR20 (FD) on the slate. (He ranks 12th among all slate-eligible WRs in our projections.)
Notes: If Corey Davis is out, that only further boosts Moore in my eyes.