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Creating Your FanDuel Core – Week 9

Michael Dubner highlights the players he’s considering for his core FanDuel lineup in Week 9.


  • Link to Week 8 FanDuel Core
  • As we predicted in last week’s article, the cash lines were once again high (around 129 in most double-ups). With these inflated cash lines, we continue to need ceiling in our lineups, even in cash.
  • Todd Gurley still reached value despite his ludicrous price tag. However, with James Conner, Joe Mixon, and other RBs predictably posting big games last week, Gurley wasn’t an optimal play. He’ll always have the highest floor and ceiling, but on weeks with other strong RBs available, I’m fine leaving Gurley off my FanDuel core.
  • Even with the high cash lines, it was almost as if every roster had at least one dud in their lineup – Jameis Winston (benched; 35 percent owned in most double-ups), David Njoku (0 targets; 40 percent owned), Jordy Nelson (1.9 points; 53 percent owned). The key was avoiding multiple duds in the same lineup.


I’m primarily a cash game and single-entry tournament player, and have the vast majority of my money (80 percent) on one lineup. Playing one team forces me to make the optimal lineup. Below are the primary players I’m considering for my FanDuel core in Week 9.


Kenny Golladay ($6,000) is a clear beneficiary of Golden Tate’s vacant 27 percent target share. This is somewhat similar to Jared Cook who we identified as a core play last week after the Amari Cooper trade: both pass-catchers have had games where their targets spike or hit the floor, but the condensed opportunities gives us confidence that they’ll see targets on their upper range of outcomes.

Screen Shot 2018-11-01 at 6.37.54 PM

Golladay’s recent one and two target games are fresh in our minds, but he also has four games with seven-plus targets. While Tate’s low depth of target opportunities (6.5 aDOT) won’t all necessarily go to Golladay, who sees a higher aDOT (12.3), his workload should still be more reliable moving forward.

If you think #MatchupsMatter, the primary concern for Golladay is the Vikings allowing the third fewest fantasy points per game to opposing WRs. Additionally, the Lions seem committed to a more run-centered offense (23rd in pass-to-run ratio since Week 5), further supported by trading their top YAC WR. However, this should be a game where the Lions are forced to pass as they are 5-point road underdogs and the Vikings are allowing just 3.6 yards per carry against (fourth).

With the condensed opportunities, Golladay has a safe target floor so he’s unlikely to fail, but also has a higher probability of hitting his target ceiling and thus having a ceiling game.


Much of the above thought process applies to Sutton as well. The Demaryius Thomas trade opens up 6.75 targets per game (19-percent target share) and the trade also adds the narrative that the Broncos are clearly ready for Sutton to break out. While Sutton has seen just 13 percent of the targets, his 22-percent market share of the Broncos’ air yards is just behind Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders’ 25 percent each. He has 50-plus yards or a touchdown in five-of-eight games, and obviously has an increased role as the No. 2 WR.

You can certainly make the counterargument that Sutton is risky, as he’s attached to Case Keenum, his highs in receiving yards are 78, 58, and 51, and he inherits a role that Thomas has failed to convert into much production. Still, I’ll find it difficult to keep Sutton off of my main roster considering the expanded usage and what the savings opens up for the rest of your roster, as he’s priced as the WR48 on FanDuel.

Just like Golladay, Sutton should put together a points per dollar game, and while a ceiling game isn’t guaranteed, it’s more probable with the condensed target share.

D.J Moore ($5,300) is also intriguing as a salary saving option coming off a 15-point game, provided that Torrey Smith sits again.


Travis Kelce ($7,600) and Zach Ertz are in a tier of their own in all major statistical categories, with each of them ranking top-two in fantasy points, targets, receptions, yards, air yards, and WOPR — the Weekly Stats “Leaders” tab shows this. Kelcealso  ranks fourth in red zone targets (12) and second in touchdowns (four). Even though I usually pay down at TE, there’s certainly enough value on the FanDuel Week 9 slate where it makes sense to just lock in the player who’s clearly the class at his position.

If paying down, I’m willing to go back to the well on David Njoku ($5,200). Even after a zero target game, Njoku is just so cheap and has six-plus targets and 50-plus yards in his previous four games. The Chiefs are allowing the sixth most fantasy points to TEs.


Newton’s fantasy appeal first starts with his rushing ability, as he’s averaging eight fantasy points per game from rushing alone. But he’s also getting it done as a passer, with multiple paTDS in seven-of-eight games and just one multi-interception game.

We’ve been picking on the Buccaneers defense all year, and we shouldn’t stop here. Not only is the Bucs’ defense atrocious – allowing the most fantasy points to QBs – but their high powered offense (28.7 points per game) forces weekly shootouts. The Panthers are home favorites with an implied team total of 31 points – all checkboxes that increase our confidence in Newton.

The DFS Lineup Optimizer also loves Newton this week, where he has the top raw projection and ranks as the second best value.

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I also like Ryan Fitzpatrick ($7,100) on the other side of this game. “TB QB” is averaging an astonishing 28.8 points per game (QB1; Patrick Mahomes is QB2 with 27.8 ppg). I would be much more willing lock in Fitzpatrick if we knew the Bucs’ weren’t going to make a QB switch mid-game.


While Mark Ingram will see his fair share of carries, the Saints will be forced to keep their foot on the gas in this week’s shootout against the Rams, which currently has a mouth-watering 60-point total. Besides Ingram’s first game back in Week 5 when the Saint’s limited Kamara’s workload as he was hurt and the team was looking ahead to their Week 6 bye, Kamara has 19 and 20 touches in their past two games. He’s also been the one used more frequently in scoring position, as he has 11 red-zone opportunities to Ingram’s two, helping him find the end zone three times in those two games. Kamara also has 15 and 23 expected fantasy points in those two games, which still puts him towards the top of the position.

Screen Shot 2018-11-01 at 7.38.12 PMCompared to the other high priced RBs not named Gurley, Kareem Hunt ($8,500) offers a higher raw projection but also costs $500 more, I still don’t love rostering players in Seattle (Melvin Gordon, $8,600), the Steelers just aren’t in a good spot in Baltimore (James Conner, $8,000), and Christian McCaffrey ($7,900) still has good usage but it’s not what it was to start the season.


There is no doubt Landry has been inefficient this year. Landry is known as being one of the best possession WRs in the NFL with a 70 percent career catch rate heading into the year, but Landry’s catch rate has plummeted to just 52 percent in his first season as a Brown. But regression is going to hit Landry soon, as he’s smashing in all of the predictive opportunity metrics.

Screen Shot 2018-11-01 at 8.04.46 PM

Landry’s 94 targets only trails Thielen’s 98, his 49 receptions are ninth, despite ranking 26th in yards he’s ninth in air yards per game, that combined target share and air yards share gives him a sixth ranked Weighted Opportunity Rating, heck he even has 15 red zone targets (second). Per the RotoViz Screener, Landry is third in expected fantasy points per game (19), yet his lack of production has forced FanDuel to rank him as the WR22.

The Chiefs have actually managed to be just slightly below-average against WRs this year (19th in fantasy points per game). But the Chiefs will be on the road where they’ve also allowed 32.75 points to opposing offenses compared to just 18.5 per game in Arrowhead.1


I just finished writing up Landry who has all of the opportunity but isn’t converting them into points, well Thielen is one of the few players with even more opportunity.

Screen Shot 2018-11-01 at 8.58.14 PM

The difference of course is Thielen has also been lapping the rest of the field in terms of production.

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I really don’t think I need to make the case for Thielen’s raw production, as his play this season speaks for itself. The fair question is if it’s worth paying the WR1 price tag for him. The DFS Lineup Optimizer has Thielen projected as the WR1 and the second best value at the position.

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I also like the spots for other high priced WRs – DeAndre Hopkins (strong splits without Will Fuller), Michael Thomas (60-point total), and Mike Evans (splits with Fitzpatrick) – but prefer to just lock in Thielen’s production for cash, and there really isn’t much of a price difference.


A good way to discover under-the-radar players you previously weren’t considering is by seeing who pops in the DFS Lineup Optimizer. After blocking a player from the optimizer,2 here’s the optimal FanDuel lineup for Week 9.

Screen Shot 2018-11-01 at 9.25.09 PM

What Pops Out: Melvin Gordon could go under-owned as there isn’t much buzz around him this week, but the Optimizer loves him and he certainly has No. 1 upside every week, making him a good contrarian option. Kenyan Drake is a home favorite and I can see the Jets struggling on the road. Phillip Lindsay can be leverage off of Sutton. Thielen is in my FanDuel core. Cooper Kupp is in a 60-point total and has a large red zone role. Marvin Jones also benefits from the Tate trade and is leverage off of Golladay. Bills D/ST are minimum priced, and defense is volatile.

What I Disagree With: I’d much rather spend the few extra $100s from Mitch Trubisky to play a QB in a better scoring environment. I also won’t roster Ed Dickson over Njoku for $500 more.


  • Just like last week, this is another week with a lot of strong options to consider. But I certainly feel more confident about the WRs than the RBs this week. On weeks like this, I prefer to lock in the few RBs I feel confident about, and then decide which WRs to play based on that roster construction. I will have an easier time finding good WRs in any roster build, so it makes sense to start with the scarcer position of RB.


Below are links to the tools I use for my DFS research every week, which is where the above screenshots come from. Hopefully I am helping you learn how to use these tool, so you can use them yourself to uncover information that gives you an edge to become a winning FanDuel player.

You can follow me @Michael_Dubner, where I’ll provide any updates to my FanDuel core throughout the weekend. Good luck everyone. I hope to see you all at the top of the leaderboards.

  1. Although they’ve played better offenses on the road, this split has been a thing for the Chiefs for years now  (back)
  2. For some reason the Optimizer loves Kapri Bibbs this week, and I just can’t get behind that.  (back)

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