When I’m looking into the DFS slate each week, I like to go game by game and identify players or situations that intrigue me. In every game, on every team, there’s a situation that’s relevant for DFS purposes, either positive or negative reason. It informs us of how we should be attacking each slate.
I can’t possibly talk about David Johnson again this week – it’s too much. Christian Kirk ($3,700) has seen his raw targets, target share, air yards, and weighted opportunity rating (WOPR) increase each week. We know that we should avoid reading too far into small samples. But I’m going to do it anyway because it’s all we have on Josh Rosen ($4,500). In his eight dropbacks at the end of the game last week, he targeted Kirk three times. The Cardinals seemed to make a conscious effort to increase his usage as they targeted him everywhere from behind the line of scrimmage to 20-plus yards downfield. Kirk posted the 11th-best WOPR for a WR in Week 3. They face off against a Seahawks defense that has given up big games to Emmanuel Sanders and Allen Robinson already this season.
It appears that the Falcons again may be without Devonta Freeman. If that’s the case Tevin Coleman ($5,900) makes sense for a couple of reasons. For one, Atlanta is a five-point home favorite. The Bengals defense is fresh off of giving up 184 yards to Christian McCaffrey. Coleman didn’t put his best foot forward last week, but that game script is different from what Vegas is expecting this week. The game theory reason is simple. Many people will be rostering Giovani Bernard ($6,300) if Joe Mixon is out again in Week 4. Most DFSers, for better or worse, are hesitant to roster two running backs from the same game and they’re similarly priced. Dave Caban’s projections in the Weekly Stat Explorer are almost identical for both players, so why not roster the lower owned option?
Note: Devonta Freeman has officially been ruled out for Week 4.
It’s almost unfathomable that the same Bills who were embarrassed for the first two weeks of the season could bounce back and end up with the result they had last week in Minnesota. I don’t see how they go into Lambeau Field and repeat that performance. The Bills are 10-point underdogs and will be forced to throw. Unfortunately, there aren’t any encouraging trends as far as usage goes for their receivers. There isn’t a single receiver who has seen more than 3 targets each week so far this year. You could do worse than Kelvin Benjamin ($3,600) at his price this week, but it’s a team I’m largely staying away from this week as they are only implied for 18 points.
Allen Robinson ($5,900) is still below $6,000. He’s currently ninth in red zone targets (9), 14th in air yards (320), and 10th in WOPR (0.70). The only thing holding him back, other than his QB, is that he hasn’t found the end zone. That could change this week. Their opponents this week, the Buccaneers, haven’t been great at stopping anyone through the air. Here are the receivers who have scored double-digit points on Tampa Bay through the first three games:
- Michael Thomas
- Nelson Agholor
- JuJu Smith-Schuster
- Ted Ginn
- Antonio Brown
- Ryan Switzer
Giovani Bernard ($6,300) was in on 57-of-65 snaps last week and saw 21 opportunities. Those 21 opportunities accounted for 100 percent of the RB touches for the Bengals in Week 3. Bernard projects to be one of the top two or three owned backs this week and is a difficult fade in any format if he’s going to see that high of a usage rate. Even when Atlanta is at full strength on defense, which they aren’t, their scheme is perfectly happy allowing running backs to catch the ball. Alvin Kamara and Christian McCaffrey caught 15 and 14 balls on them, respectively. Bernard is in a “Don’t Overthink It” spot this week.
We have an interesting set of decisions to make at the top of the WR price range. Four of the eight guys above Jarvis Landry’s ($7,400) have some sort of injury designation.
Using just Landry’s games as a Cleveland Brown, his median projection for this week is 18 points with a 25-point ceiling, according to the WR Game Level Similarity app. He’ll probably come in around 10 percent owned, and I like being slightly overweight in GPPs.
The Cowboys are 3-point favorites at home against the Detroit Lions. At below $8,000, Ezekiel Elliott ($7,700) is firmly in play. He’s seen at least 19 opportunities each week and doesn’t have much competition from any other skill position. Elliot is the focal point of this offense, and Sunday won’t be an exception. He has a relatively flat production profile, compared to what you’d expect thanks to the fact that he’s averaging six targets per game. The Lions have already had two RBs drop 20+ point games on them through the first two weeks.
From a real-life football perspective, it’s pretty obvious what the Lions are doing when Theo Riddick ($4,300) or LeGarrette Blount ($3,900) is on the field. Kerryon Johnson ($4,400) has a unique skill set that the Lions should be actively trying to employ. Riddick has over five times more targets than carries. Blount has over nine times more carries than targets. Johnson only has about twice as many carries than targets. The three-headed backfield can be frustrating to deal with, but at $4,400 you aren’t paying for an elite workload. It appears that they’re starting to trust him more, as he was in on just 33 snaps but still managed 19 opportunities. Johnson deserves some exposure in your GPP portfolio this weekend.
Green Bay Packers
Green Bay is a 10-point favorite at home against Buffalo this weekend. The Bills are dead last against WRs and just gave up 25 points to Adam Thielen on Sunday. What is Thielen’s average depth of target (aDOT), you ask? 9.3. What is DaVante Adams’ ($7,800) aDOT this year? 9.3. Over the first three weeks of the season, the Bills have been exposed by mid-range and shorter targets. Randall Cobb ($5,100) also does most of his work closer to the line of scrimmage. If I know this, I’m sure Aaron Rodgers ($6,800) does too. Stack them up however you want in GPPs and Cobb is firmly in play for cash.
It will be very popular, but it’s difficult to fade the Deshaun Watson ($6,300) to Will Fuller ($6,800) stack. The difference in Watson’s performance when he has Fuller at his disposal has been incredible. He sees a jump of about 3.5 yards per attempt when Fuller is on the field. The vertical threat garnered nearly 200 air yards on 11 targets last week. Once you get past about eight yards downfield, the Colts are worse than league average at catch rate allowed for every depth of target.
Speaking of the Colts, they are slight favorites at home against the division rival Texans. TY Hilton ($7,000) is an excellent pivot off of Fuller. Even without ownership consideration, Hilton could outscore Fuller this week. Caban’s projections have Hilton with a median projection of 18 and a ceiling of 25.
Houston hasn’t exactly been a juggernaut against wide receivers either as they have allowed five difference pass catches to score double-digit PPR points, including three 20-point games. Hilton has one of the safer workloads in the league and is only the 10th-most expensive receiver.
Vegas sees this setting up to be the ultimate Leonard Fournette ($7,000) game. While it’s a low total, we like home RBs that are favored by a touchdown or more. Unfortunately, it’s unclear what the usage for Fournette will be, and his situation is worth monitoring as we head towards the weekend. Fournette, Jordan Howard ($6,800), and David Johnson ($6,600) are all projected to have lower ownership than the guys directly above or below them. If he somehow gets in a full practice, I’d be comfortable rolling him out in GPPs as a pivot option from Saquon Barkley ($8,100) or Giovani Bernard ($6,300).
Note: Fournette got in a full practice on Friday and looks to be full-go for Sunday.
Los Angeles Chargers
Melvin Gordon’s ($8,300) price has almost caught up to his usage. In a game where the Chargers are implied for nearly 30 points and are favored by 10-plus points, this is another chance to fire up Melvin. The 49ers are going to be without Jimmy G for the rest of the season, and we saw what happened last year with C.J. Beathard under center. Kareem Hunt found the end zone twice against San Francisco last week. Gordon has the second-most targets on the Chargers. He’s game-script proof and his workload makes him matchup proof. Gordon will likely see over 20 percent ownership in most contests, but don’t let that scare you off of him. Differentiate elsewhere.
The AFC East-leading Miami Dolphins are traveling up to Foxboro to take on the 1-2 Patriots on Sunday. Sorry, I just had to write that sentence. The Patriots are favored by a TD. There are four wide receivers tied for the team lead in targets with Kenyan Drake ($5,200). We saw what an all-purpose back could do against the Patriots when Kerryon Johnson rushed for over 100 yards and added a couple of catches. Drake has been averaging 14 opportunities per game. The argument is there for a low-owned GPP play, but if the game gets away from the Dolphins, it’s easy to see this going south for Drake.
New England Patriots
On paper, it appears that the Dolphins are playing well against the quarterback so far this season. But many defenses will look good when they face guys with last names like Darnold and Carr. All due respect to those gentlemen, but they aren’t Tom Brady ($6,700). I want to say that he’s on the upswing. He’s not. I want to say that there’s some statistical reason for Brady to bounce back. But there really isn’t. It’s all narrative. Brady finishes in the top three at QB this week, and the right stack is going to win someone quite a bit of money.
New Orleans Saints
It’s not fair to give Alvin Kamara ($9,600) and Michael Thomas ($9,100) to Drew Brees ($6,600). Kamara has 30 receptions for 289 yards through three games on 38 targets. Thomas has 38 catches for 398 yards on 40 targets. He’s caught 38 out of 40 balls thrown his way. That isn’t a typo. Thomas is in the top three in targets, yards, and TDs per game. He didn’t score last week and still managed 23 PPR Points. They’re implied for 27 points at the moment against the Giants on the road. It’s difficult to fit them both in, but you need exposure somehow in your GPP portfolio.
New York Giants
After looking like a minor league football team for the first couple of weeks, the Giants’ offense showed some cause for hope. Sterling Shepard ($4,900) appears to be the flavor of the week after we saw what Calvin Ridley did to New Orleans. The Saints have allowed nine different receivers to score at least double-digits through three weeks, including three games of 25-plus. The flexibility from Shepard is important in cash if you want to get to the higher-priced option. You can throw Odell Beckham ($8,700), Eli Manning ($5,600), and Saquon Barkley ($8,100) in any combination you want in GPPs.
New York Jets
The Jets looked like the greatest show on turf in Week 1 and have since stumbled a bit. The backfield is split, which means I’m largely staying away. From a raw target perspective, I’m not sure there are many better plays in the $4,000 range than Quincy Enunwa ($4,300). The matchup might make you nervous, but he’s basically free, especially when you consider that he’s averaging almost 10 targets with a low of 12 expected points.
Coach Gruden is taking it back to the stone age every chance he gets. While that means that there are likely some angry Oakland fans, it’s not the worst thing in the world for DFS purposes. Marshawn Lynch ($4,800) is just sitting there below $5,000 begging to be clicked on. He hasn’t scored fewer than 13 PPR points yet this season. Beast Mode isn’t wowing anyone from a yards per carry aspect, but if he keeps getting opportunities around the goal line, I’m not sure how you fade him. Lynch (14) is only behind Alvin Kamara (28) and Todd Gurley (21) in red zone opportunities at his position. . . For $4,800.
The return of Carson Wentz ($5,800) is upon us. He knocked the rust off in Indy last week and travels to Tennessee for a Week 4 matchup where the Eagles are implied to score 23 points. Zach Ertz ($6,200) is my favorite play from the Eagles, though. It appears that the Titans are great against the TE by the numbers, but none of the TEs they’ve faced have seen more than five targets in a game. Ertz hasn’t had a game where he’s seen fewer than 10 so far this year. A 20-point game isn’t out of the question for him this weekend.
San Francisco 49ers
Going from Jimmy GQ to C.J. Beathard ($4,600) seems like a pretty bad switch. While it might be tough from an NFL perspective, they’re going to have to throw. A lot. He scored at least 14 points in five of six games that he appeared in last season. Beathard averaged over 20 yards rushing and punched a TD in on the ground in half of his 2017 appearances. There are other options at QB for cash, but if you go with Beathard you have the flexibility to do whatever you want at every other position.
Tyler Lockett ($5,100) needs to be fed more targets. Luckily, his aDOT is so high that his looks are of a higher value than a typical target. Lockett has seen 230 air yards on just 16 targets. He already has three TDs, making him a threat even without a bump in volume. He’s a threat to take any of his catches to the house for six. I’ll take a home run hitter like Lockett in a GPP for that price.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
At the time of this writing, there’s still some question around whether the Bucs will stick with Ryan Fitzpatrick or go back Jameis Winston. Either way, Mike Evans ($7,900) has been a stud thus far. He’s tallied at least 6 receptions, 80 yards, and 1 TD in every game this season. The Bears are ranked No. 1 against the WR but have given up at least 15 points to four different players so far.
Note: It appears that the Bucs will roll out Ryan Fitzpatrick for the time being.
If you listen to On The Daily, you know that my co-host Anthony Amico has a bit of a thing for Corey Davis ($5,300). Last week was a wash from an offensive standpoint in Tennessee. Even counting last week’s game, Davis has the sixth-highest WOPR so far this year. He’s seen four total targets in the red zone and is averaging eight targets per game overall. Six different wide receivers have scored double-digit points against the Eagles in 2018. Tennessee will likely be playing from behind, which should mean more targets for the pass catchers overall.