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.
This is it. This is the week that Quintorris Lopez “Julio” Jones ($7,900) finds the end zone. Our very own Michael Dubner wrote a piece in May about predicting touchdowns. Based on his volume, Julio has a 5.4 TD expectation to this point in the season. There are only three other receivers in the league who are even two touchdowns below expectation. Julio is more than 5 TDs below his expectation. Six of the Falcons’ seven games have seen Julio earn over 100 air yards. He’s first in yards per game, WOPR, air yards, and 3rd in targets among wide receivers.
Michael Crabtree ($4,800) dropped a bit with just a handful of targets last Sunday. Leading into that game, he had seen at least nine targets in each of the previous three weeks. John Brown ($5,800) recovered from his disappearing act against the Titans and has seen seven targets in each of the past two games. Brown is seeing the third most air yards per game of any wide receiver in the league on the 27th most targets. The points allowed to WRs don’t look great in this matchup against Pittsburgh but then you look through some of the spike games they’ve given up and you feel better. The Steelers have given up four 20-plus point games, including one to John Brown already this season. Both Baltimore and Pittsburgh run plays at an above average pace, which is good for everyone.
The Bills are hosting the Bears this weekend as 8.5-point home underdogs with an implied team total of 14 points. Nathan Peterman is expected to start. I don’t think there’s a player in a Buffalo uniform that I’d consider playing.
The Panthers face off against the Buccaneers this week as home favorites by a touchdown. They are implied for a team total of 31 in what Vegas believes will be a shootout. My process each week relies pretty heavily on seeing where the Stat Explorer Projections are landing on different plays. Cam Newton ($6,600) is the owner of the third highest ceiling on the entire slate trailing two WRs that we’ll get to later. He has the second highest median projection among QBs, behind only Aaron Rodgers. Cam is averaging over 40 yards on the ground and has four rushing touchdowns on the season. He’s had five 20-plus point games and hasn’t been below 15 all year. The last three weeks, he’s been in the top ten at his position.
The Bears head into Buffalo to take on the Bills this weekend. The only thing capping the upside for Chicago’s skill players this week is the likelihood of pick sixes taking away TD opportunities for the offense. I tweeted out recently that it’s Tarik Cohen ($6,200) season. He has scored at least 18 PPR points in each of his last four games. If you take a look at the Sim Scores App this week, 19 percent of Cohen’s historic comps for this week resulted in 20-plus DK point efforts. Don’t just limit yourself to Cohen, though, any of the Bears’ skill players are worth a look in GPPs.
There’s been some press conference hilarity from the promoted employees in Cleveland. Between Gregg Williams claiming he’s been offered 11 head coaching jobs, to new OC Freddie Kitchens saying he only learned how to make cocktails from Bruce Arians. If you’re looking at his target volume, you’d expect Jarvis Landry ($6,500) to be a bit more productive in the touchdown department. He’s scored just two touchdowns on the year despite having the second most targets of any WR on a per game basis. Landry’s also in the top ten of red zone targets, air yards, and WOPR. He’s seen at least double-digit targets in all but one game this season and the matchup with Kansas City means they’ll be throwing.
Courtland Sutton ($3,900) will most likely be the highest owned WR across most contests. That makes a ton of sense in cash. When ownership gets that high, it’s very hard to fade them. In cash. In GPPs, I would pivot and have a healthy dose of Emmanuel Sanders ($6,400). The SimScores app is pretty bullish on Sanders, with 37% of the most similar historical comps above 20 DK Points.
The departure of Golden Tate seemingly opens things up for Kenny Golladay ($5,500) and Marvin Jones ($5,300). The nine targets per game that left town with Tate aren’t all going right to T.J. Jones ($3,000). Golladay hasn’t seen a red-zone target in three weeks, while Jones hasn’t gone a single game this season without a red-zone target. That isn’t the be all, end all but it should factor into our assumption of a player’s ceiling. Jones will see more valuable targets at a cheaper price with lower ownership.
DeAndre Hopkins ($8,300) should be the beneficiary of a few extra targets following the loss of Will Fuller. He has scored at least 20 PPR Points in four of eight games this season. Hopkin’s targets have dipped a bit over the past few weeks but the last few weeks have been blow out wins where game script played a factor. This week is projected to be a pretty tight matchup with the Broncos in Denver. Hopkins is top ten in per game ranking for targets, red zone targets, receiving yards, touchdowns, air yards, and WOPR.1
Kansas City Chiefs
It seems like a cop-out every week, but it’s hard to choose which play is best from the Chiefs because the ceilings of each skill player are so high. I did some research into contrarian stacks with defenses in the offseason. The dirty little secret about defense correlations is that as teams become bigger and bigger favorites, defense is actually more closely correlated to QBs than to RBs. Stacking up Patrick Mahomes ($7,100) with a skill player and the defense will make for a contrarian stack in GPPs.
Los Angeles Chargers
Melvin Gordon ($8,200) has only been able to get in limited practices so far this weekend. If he were to miss this weekend’s contest, Austin Ekeler ($4,300) would become one of the best plays on the board. The Chargers are traveling to Seattle as two-point underdogs. Whether or not the game goes the way Vegas thinks, the running back in powder blue will see plenty of work in valuable situations. Even after missing the game in London, Melvin Gordon is 4th in red zone opportunities among RBs.
Los Angeles Rams
There are going to be people who don’t play Todd Gurley ($9,500) this weekend. It’s mind boggling. The Rams are heading to New Orleans to face off with the Saints in a game that has a total of 60 points. Los Angeles is the underdog and they’re still implied for 29 points. Gurley is underpriced. You can make the argument that he should be a little over $10,000. He’s exceeded salary based expectations in every single game. Gurley hasn’t slipped below 25 DK Points in a single game this year and this isn’t going to be an exception. He should be the highest owned player on the slate every weekend until further notice.
Every so often, the Stat Explorer projections spit out something surprising. Kenyan Drake ($5,300) is a guy who could easily be forgotten about this weekend. He’s sandwiched between two popular options in Phillip Lindsay and Latavius Murray, creating what I like to call an ownership vacuum. He’s scored at least 18 DK points in three of the last four games. Drake has been used in different ways depending on how the game goes, with at least eight targets or double-digit carries in each of the last four weeks.
In theory, I could just copy paste what I said in the Rams section and swap out Gurley for Adam Thielen ($8,900). He’s on pace for 148 catches on 196 targets for 1,850 yards and 12 touchdowns. That would be right around 400 PPR Points on the season. Nearly 40 percent of the comps in the Sim Scores app scored 20-plus DK points. There’s more than enough value this week to fit him and Gurley into your cash lineups.
New Orleans Saints
Michael Thomas ($7,600) is underpriced this week given the game he’s going to be a part of. He hasn’t seen the target volume we’ve grown accustomed to with Thomas, but he’s caught nearly 90% of his targets. Even if he only sees seven or eight targets, there’s a good chance he’s going to catch all but one of them and put up a good day. This is a ceiling game for Thomas after a couple weeks of taking a backseat.
New York Jets
The Jets couldn’t get anything going on offense last week against the Bears. This week they face off with the Dolphins in Miami as three-point underdogs. New York and their 20.5-point team total aren’t really doing much for us in fantasy this week. Sam Darnold ($4,800) is the cheapest quarterback not named Nathan. According to our Stat Explorer projections, he has a similar ceiling to guys in the mid-$5,000 range and a decent discount.
We’re getting the road ownership discount on the Steelers this week as they travel to Baltimore. The question is, does that make any of these guys worth a look in GPPs? James Conner ($7,200) is going to be low-owned and has a high ceiling again this week. He struggled against this Ravens defense in their first matchup but he only saw 13 opportunities in that game. Since that game, the Steelers have made a concerted effort to get Conner more involved. He’s averaging 25+ opportunities per game over the past three weeks.
Stacking up Russell Wilson ($5,900) and Tyler Lockett ($5,200) makes sense week in and week out. Lockett is always just one play away from a long touchdown to make your week. Russell is getting back to doing Russell things, with three straight games of 19-plus DK points. I know that doesn’t sound as good as 20-plus, but against the Rams he had 19.92. If they can start to realize that Lockett deserves more targets, he could be in an excellent position this weekend.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tampa Bay is going to have to throw this weekend if they’re going to keep up with Carolina. The fact that Ryan Fitzpatrick ($5,500) didn’t play the entire game last week kept his salary down in the DK pricing algorithm and he’s in a great spot here. Game stacks and Bucs onslaughts make a bunch of sense this weekend in one of the higher total games on the slate. Mike Evans’ ($8,100) ownership may be kept down because of a limited practice schedule so far this week. If he plays, GPP exposure is a must. According to our Stat Explorer projections, he has the fourth highest ceiling at WR this weekend. You can even throw in O.J. Howard ($4,300) with the Fitzpatrick connection that seems to be brewing.
Adrian Peterson ($6,000) gets a cushy matchup with the Atlanta Falcons. We think of the Falcons as a team that can be exploited by RBs in the passing game, but they’ve given up plenty of production on the ground as well. Peterson has seen 53 opportunities over the past two games. Per the Sim Scores app, 32 percent of Peterson’s closest comps have resulted in 20-plus DK point games. Chris Thompson ($5,400) sat out of practice again on Thursday but even if he managed to suit up, it shouldn’t affect Peterson’s role.
- That’s pretty good. (back)