After two slow weeks, I had more success with the featured lineups last week. On FanDuel I booked a win, and on Draftkings I had a solid lineup undone by injury. This week sets up as an interesting one, with no clear values really emerging yet. There’s still time for a surprise inactive to open something up, but for now, it seems like this week will be a little tougher to build than the prior weeks. Still, there’s plenty of opportunities to build basically any style of roster construction you want this week if you’re willing to lock in some uncomfortable plays. These are my favorite types of weeks, where roster construction matters more than just playing the best plays, so hopefully, we can find some good ways to build lineups a little different than the rest of the field.
FanDuel went well last week, thanks in large part to being way over the field on Alexander Mattison. Once the news broke that Dalvin Cook was out, Mattison became the clear best play on FanDuel, but the news came late enough that most of the field didn’t use him. Going overweight on Mike Williams, Justin Jefferson, and DK Metcalf was also a big help, and while Alvin Kamara didn’t have a monster game I was really happy to get around five times more exposure to him than the field in a game where he easily eclipsed 20 touches. Lastly, playing Josh Allen was great, and I was able to play him a lot after Mattison opened up some value, but having him tied to Stefon Diggs kept any of those lineups from truly hitting their ceilings. Coming in under the field on both Justin Herbert and Cooper Kupp also kept me out of the very top percentage of the leaderboard, but a win is a win and I’m happy to take it after starting the season with two losses. The FanDuel lineups cashed for a combined $10.49, for a net of $2.49. That brings the bankroll up to $59.24.
Draftkings didn’t go as well, but probably still would have cashed if not for a Sterling Shepard injury. When news came out Sunday that Kenny Golladay would be on limited snaps I decided to drop him and just run a stack of Shepard with Daniel Jones, a quarterback I’m fine single stacking because of his rushing upside. Shepard got hurt, Jones was fine but unspectacular as the game ended up being low-scoring, and the bring back of Calvin Ridley was a bit of a disaster. The other letdown was Robert Woods, who not only took a back seat to Kupp again but also came in way more popular than I expected, and if I’d known he’d be that popular I wouldn’t have played him. Those letdowns ended up sinking what was otherwise a pretty strong lineup. I opted to avoid Mattison because he was more expensive on Draftkings and while he was undoubtedly a good play I was determined to play D’Andre Swift, who was $200 cheaper, and a higher-end option since I was playing a cheap stack. That turned out to be Austin Ekeler, which was fine but, similarly to Woods, Eekler was more popular than I would have liked. Mark Andrews gave me a nice mini-stack with Swift and had a great game that was only missing a touchdown. Lastly, when I pivoted away from Golladay I landed on Ja’Marr Chase and got lucky to get two touchdowns from him despite the limited volume. Despite the mistakes, this lineup missed cashing by under five points even with Shepard getting hurt. That drops the Draftkings bankroll to $51 and keeps me winless for another week.
Arizona Cardinals, team total of 29 at Los Angeles Rams, team total of 25
This game features two high-powered offenses that play fast and should be the most popular game to stack for DFS this week. From the Cardinals’ side Kyler Murray ($7800 on Draftkings/$8200 on FanDuel) is matchup-proof and deserves consideration every week. This is a tough matchup on the road, but Murray’s combination of rushing ability and passing volume should be enough to overcome it. Choosing who to stack him with is a bit trickier this week than normal due to DeAndre Hopkins’ ($7700/$7600) seemingly very limited last week while dealing with a rib injury. Hopkins also probably isn’t in a great spot for a ceiling game, because if he’s going off early then it’s likely the Rams will shift Jalen Ramsey onto him if he doesn’t just shadow him for the whole game. Hopkins can win in that matchup, but probably not frequently enough to be worth his salary this week. Christian Kirk ($5300/$6000) and AJ Green ($4500/$5600) picked up the slack last week, and both are in play again this week. I prefer Green for the discount and the more favorable defensive matchup. Rondale Moore ($4600/$5300) has seen his price fall after a disappointing follow-up to his early-season break-out. His targets may fluctuate a bit as he is the clear fourth receiver, but if the Cardinals are throwing as much as expected he should be on the field enough to get his chances to break a big play. Chase Edmonds ($5500/$6100) catches enough passes that he can be stacked with Murray and provides a way to stack the Cardinals in a more unique way. He should see the field more if the Cardinals are trailing, as they’re expected to be in this game.
For the Rams, any conversation has to start with Cooper Kupp ($7800/$8600). Kupp is finally priced like the elite receiver he’s been to start the season but it’s hard to argue with paying up for him given his production. He’s probably not going to maintain an almost 40% target share for the whole season, but it’s clear he’s the primary option here and it’s really hard for a defense to take away a slot receiver like Kupp. Robert Woods ($5300/$6200) has a 23% target share, he just hasn’t hit any big plays and the Rams haven’t passed enough for him to get there on volume. If the Cardinals force the Rams to throw more than they have so far, then Woods should be able to get there this week. Hopefully, he comes in a little less popular this week after posting another disappointing score last week. Tyler Higbee ($4600/$5900) is one of the few tight ends that is actually a part of his team’s passing attack. Similarly to Woods, his production has been limited by the Rams just simply not having to pass that much, but unlike Woods Higbee plays at a position where he doesn’t have to do much to be one of the top options. Darrell Henderson ($5600/$6000) sounds like he’s returning from injury, and if he returns to his role of playing almost 100% of the snaps he would be one of the top plays on the slate against a run defense that has struggled to start the year. There’s some risk that the Rams try to ease him back in, but it’s a risk that will depress his popularity and make him an excellent tournament play. Lastly, Matthew Stafford ($7000/$7800) is obviously in play as the leader of one of the most efficient and explosive offenses so far this season. His salary is a little high on Draftkings for a quarterback that doesn’t run at all, but I’m willing to pay it in any matchup where the Rams can’t just get out to an early lead and coast.
Kansas City Chiefs, team total of 30.25
The Chiefs have moved the ball well this season, but turnovers have been killing their efficiency. At 1-2, they should come into this game motivated to right the ship against a very beatable Eagles team. The Eagles’ defense looked solid to start the season, but last week the Cowboys showed that if you can at least credibly threaten to go deep you can open up the middle of the defense. There is no better deep threat than Tyreek Hill ($8000/$8200), and there is no better tight end to take advantage of single coverage than Travis Kelce ($8100/$8200). Patrick Mahomes ($8100/$8700) has struggled by his lofty standards, but his larger body of work suggests he’ll bounce back in a big way sooner rather than later. I expect the Eagles to continue their approach of limiting big plays, which leads me to lean towards a single stack of Mahomes and Kelce, but Tyreek Hill can light up any defense on any given week and his ceiling is unmatched. The tertiary receiving options are all fine, but none stand out as especially strong plays. Clyde Edwards-Helaire ($5400/$6700) is still pretty cheap and should also benefit from the Eagles keeping two safeties high to contain Hill. He hasn’t shown enough involvement in the passing game for me to feel great playing him with Mahomes, but he was a prolific receiving back in college so it wouldn’t be a complete surprise to see him factor in as a receiver this week.
For options to bring it back from the Philadelphia, side we have Devonta Smith ($5700/$5900) and Jalen Reagor ($4700/$5500). Smith leads the team in air yards and target share, while Reagor offers a nice discount on Draftkings and isn’t far behind Smith in those metrics. Smith is too cheap on Fanduel and would be the preferred option on both sites, but Reagor is viable on Draftkings if you need the savings. Jalen Hurts ($6900/$7900) deserves a mention as a piece to fit into a Chiefs stack. He provides some salary relief compared to Mahomes and offers enough rushing upside to play him without any of his receivers. If you expect all of the Chiefs offense to flow through Kelce or Hill, Hurts allows you to afford both and has as high a ceiling as any quarterback.
Buffalo Bills, team total of 32
The Bills are huge favorites this week, which may scare away some DFS players as they fear a blowout. Blowouts aren’t a reason to be scared though, because for a team to be up enough to pull its starters they have to have scored a lot of points, and in the Bills’ case that likely means their passing offense has already had a monster day. Josh Allen ($8000/$8500) reminded everyone last week how great a fantasy quarterback he is, and his price has come back up to reflect it. Still, he should be able to do whatever he wants against the Texans and his combination of passing volume and rush attempts around the goal line give him an incredible ceiling. Stefon Diggs ($7600/$8000) hasn’t broken out yet this season, but all the peripheral stats are still there. He has a healthy target share of over 26%, is third in the NFL in air yards, and continues to see the most valuable targets for his offense. The breakout is coming, and I’d much rather continue to be early than be late. Emmanuel Sanders ($4900/$5800) has been an effective deep threat and also gets some use in the red zone on routes designed to take advantage of his still-impressive speed. The 34-year old doesn’t appear to be slowing down, and his price hasn’t caught up to his role in one of the most pass-happy offenses in the league. Cole Beasley ($5400/$5900) is a little expensive for his low aDOT role, but his almost 25% target share and red zone role keep him in consideration. The Texans only really offer one option to finish the stack. Brandin Cooks ($6400/$6900) just continues to produce regardless of the talent around him. He leads the NFL in air yards and Davis Mills appears to only have eyes for him.
Lamar Jackson ($7500/$8000) has a tough matchup on paper, but his matchup doesn’t matter. Jackson is still operating as the primary rusher for his team, and this year he’s pushing the ball deeper down the field while still being efficient. It would help his cause a lot if his receivers could catch the ball, but any week where Jackson isn’t projected to be popular he should look like a great tournament play. Russell Wilson ($7100/$7700) isn’t being allowed to cook, as he’s topped out at 32 pass attempts this season, but he’s matched up with a 49ers team that should score enough to keep the Seahawks passing and has a terrible secondary that shouldn’t be able to hang with either of the elite Seattle receivers.
Justin Fields ($5200/$6400) was a disaster last week, but this week he’s at home against the Lions. The Lions’ defense is not that good, and Fields’ rushing upside should make him viable at this price. Hopefully, Matt Nagy lets go of the play-calling duties because the next man up can’t be worse. Kirk Cousins ($6400/$7500) has been allowed to cook, but he’s still priced like the Vikings don’t want to let him throw the ball. Cousins has thrown for 300 yards twice this season, three touchdowns twice this season, and his low for passing attempts this year is 32. Cousins and the Vikings host the Browns this week and should need to throw to keep up even if Dalvin Cook makes his return.
Jonathan Taylor ($6300/$6600) looks good at getting the goal-line work, but the Colts haven’t been able to keep games competitive consistently enough for him to see an elite workload. Against Miami this week, a defense that Peyton Barber just smashed, the Colts should be able to keep the game close enough to keep feeding Taylor, who is due for some positive touchdown regression. Derrick Henry ($8800/$10200) is the last man standing for the Titans and should be one of the most popular plays this week. He is the focal point of the offense and has seen an uptick in his passing game involvement, which would be enough to justify his salary. Factor in that the Titans are missing the rest of their offense and are playing the lowly Jets, and you get a recipe for a running back that even at $10,200 looks like he might be too cheap.
David Montgomery ($5800/$7500) and D’Andre Swift ($6200/$7700) face off against each other and are both too cheap on Draftkings. The Lions rush defense looks awful, and the Bears should be looking to feature Montgomery a little more to take some of the pressure of Fields. Swift has been almost the de facto primary receiver for the Lions and looks great doing it. If you want to buy into the coach speak this week about the team getting Swift more involved go ahead, but even if you don’t his role thus far has been plenty big to make him stand out at this salary. Ezekiel Elliott ($6500/$7000) isn’t getting the pricing respect he deserves. Tony Pollard may look like the more explosive runner, but it’s Zeke that the Cowboys have been feeding since Week 2. Zeke has back-to-back weeks of at least 16 carries, a snap share of at least 70%, and multiple touchdowns.
D.K. Metcalf ($7200/$7700) finally outproduced Tyler Lockett ($7100/$7900) last week. When both are healthy they’re likely going to alternate big weeks, but with Lockett banged up heading into this week Metcalf should be favored to have the big week. In the same game, Brandon Aiyuk ($5000/$5700) played 55 snaps last week and looks to be fully back from his preseason injury. He saw six targets and isn’t that far removed from being one of the trendiest receivers’ picks in season-long leagues. If he’s truly back then this salary is too low, and I’m willing to risk being early to be there for the breakout. Courtland Sutton ($5700/$6300) is running out of competition in Denver. He’s facing a Baltimore team that should score enough to force Denver to stay aggressive but also doesn’t have anyone healthy enough in the secondary to slow Sutton down.
Odell Beckham Jr. ($5800/$6600) looked to be fully healthy in his debut last week. He saw a strong 31% target share and 146 air yards, numbers he should maintain with Jarvis Landry out and that would put him among the elites at his position once again. Curtis Samuel ($3000/$5300) will be a surprise active this week after coming off of injured reserve, and at the minimum salary on Draftkings represents one of the best values on the slate. It’s unclear how much he’ll play, but presumably, he’ll be heavily involved in the offense when he’s on the field and has the big-play ability to pay off this salary on one play. Kadairus Toney ($3300/$4900) should see an extended run with Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton sidelined due to injury. He should offer a nice floor as he profiles as the type of player his team will manufacture easy touches for.
Mike Gesicki ($4000/$5400) caught ten of twelve targets last week and is being utilized as a big slot receiver for the Dolphins. His quarterback loves to throw short and inside the numbers, and a matchup with a struggling Colts’ defense should present plenty of opportunities for Gesicki to get loose in the middle of the field. Kyle Pitts ($5000/$5800) continues to have good peripheral stats despite the lack of production. He’s second on his team in air yards and target share, and eventually, the touchdowns and big plays will follow. A matchup with a Washington defense that’s been friendly to opposing tight ends and has a weak secondary overall is as good a spot as any for Pitts to break out. Will Dissly ($2600/$4400) steps into a bigger role with Gerald Everett on the COVID list. Dissly has almost no floor, but he should be on the field the whole game and he’s shown good chemistry with Wilson before. He only needs to fall into the end zone to be one of the better tight end values.
Detroit D/ST ($2200/$4100) will be one of the more popular defenses, which probably makes them a stay-away in tournaments. Still, they’re cheap and in a great spot to produce so they deserve consideration. Their defensive line has done a good job generating pressure, and they get to attack a Chicago offensive line that has the worst adjusted sack rate in the NFL, thanks to turnstile left tackle Jason Peters and Field’s propensity to hold the ball. Minnesota DST ($2500/$3500) doesn’t have quite as good a matchup and they’re a bit more expensive, but their defense has more playmakers and they also get a favorable matchup against a quarterback who’s been holding the ball too long. New York Jets DST ($2000/$3000) are priced at the minimum and host a Titans team whose offensive line has struggled and whose receiving group has been decimated by injuries.
For the Draftkings lineup this week I’m going to go away a little from the stacks highlighted above and actually stack Jalen Hurts with Jalen Reagor and Travis Kelce. I expect Kelce to dominate, and with the other top tight ends either injured (George Kittle) or not on the main slate (Darren Waller) this sets up as a good week for Kelce to completely outpace the rest of his position group. Hurts has been great for fantasy this year and the Chiefs are a great combination of terrible defense and effective offense. They should force Hurts to throw all game, and they probably won’t offer much resistance in the process. At running back I’ll be running two little mini stacks this week. First is D’Andre Swift and Darnell Mooney ($3900/$5200). I love Swift’s role and still feel like he’s too cheap. I also expect some of the running backs near his salary to be popular, namely David Montgomery and Chuba Hubbard, but I think Swift’s ceiling is significantly higher than either of them. Mooney is a cheap receiver with big-play upside, and against a Lions secondary that can’t stop anyone, he should get his chances to catch a deep ball or two. The second mini stack will be Ezekiel Elliott and Terrace Marshall ($4000/$5000). Zeke is still seeing the usage of an every-down back, and until his salary catches up I’m happy to target him in these high total games the Cowboys will be in all season. Marshall hasn’t broken out yet, but he should see an increased role in the offense with Dan Arnold gone to Jacksonville and CMC on the shelf. The Cowboys have been pretty solid against number one receivers so far this season, which should funnel some additional work Marshall’s way. For the last two spots, there are plenty of options, but I’m likely to focus on taking a defense near the minimum and trying to grab one of the elite receivers. Stefon Diggs, DK Metcalf, and Justin Jefferson all deserve some consideration, with Diggs being the current clubhouse leader.
For multi-entry, my strategy is going to revolve around playing as much Travis Kelce as I physically can, and then alternating between paying up for either of the top options from the Packers. I’ll continue to try and get over the field on Alvin Kamara, and I will also be well over the field on Dalvin Cook assuming he is ruled in. Josh Allen has been my go-to at quarterback so far this year, and that won’t change this week. The only other quarterback I’m going out of my way to be over the field on is Lamar Jackson.
My top five plays at each position right now, by how much exposure I have to them:
QB: Josh Allen, Patrick Mahomes, Russell Wilson, Jalen Hurts, Lamar Jackson
RB: Aaron Jones, Alvin Kamara, Jonathan Taylor, Ezekiel Elliott, Dalvin Cook
WR: Davante Adams, Stefon Diggs, DeVtonta Smith, Calvin Ridley, Deebo Samuel
TE: Travis Kelce, Kyle Pitts, Austin Hooper, Noah Fant, Tyler Higbee
DST: Los Angeles Rams, Dallas Cowboys, Green Bay Packers, Miami Dolphins, New York Jets
Good luck this week!
Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire