No need for a long intro this week, as this slate is a relatively calm one pending any last-minute news. There are some clear value plays at running back, viable cheap quarterbacks, and plenty of studs to pay up for. And thankfully, Cordarrell Patterson plays in London this week and so cannot hurt us in the main slate.
Cordarrelle Patterson broke the slate with three touchdowns and given that I played him in 0% of my FanDuel lineups that made it a pretty tough week. The other major misstep that killed my lineups was playing a ton of Travis Kelce. Not only was Kelce bad, but he kept my exposure to Tyreek Hill, who also scored three touchdowns, a lot lower than it otherwise would have been. Specifically, in my Jalen Hurts lineups, there was a disproportionate amount of Kelce compared to Hill. The results were bad, but I don’t regret either decision. Patterson had a ridiculous game playing just 30% of the snaps and Kelce could have easily had a monster game instead of Hill as the Chiefs were doing whatever they wanted. I took a loss of $4.12 to drop the FanDuel bankroll to $55.12. Treading water isn’t the worst way to start a DFS season, but it’s been a slow start for sure.
The Draftkings lineup discussed last week suffered a similar fate, as the Jalen Hurts stack was a good idea but I had the wrong parts of the passing games. Tyreek Hill and Devonta Smith both went off while I had Travis Kelce and Jalen Reagor. Ezekiel Elliott was a good play, but paring him with the cheap Terrace Marshall Jr. instead of D.J. Moore was not. I liked Moore but wanted to use the savings to get up to a one-off Stefon Diggs play. Diggs had a fine game, going for over 100 receiving yards, but in retrospect, it seems like a mistake to sacrifice one of the mini-stacks to jam Diggs in. D’Andre Swift saw a season-high in snap percentage, but the touches just were not there. Darnell Mooney went off at just $3900, going for 21.5 Draftkings points, but it wasn’t enough to save the lineup. The Draftkings bankroll drops to $48.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers, team total of 28.75
Tampa Bay is in a great spot this week taking on a Dolphins team that has looked a little lost to start the season. Since starting the season against Mac Jones making his NFL debut, the Dolphins have allowed at least 27 points in three straight weeks. And it’s not like Tom Brady ($7400 on Draftkings/$8400 on FanDuel) needs a super favorable matchup to produce, but it certainly helps. It also helps that both teams play at a pretty fast pace, and Tampa Bay’s secondary is dealing with some injuries and looks very beatable which should help Miami score often enough to keep the Buccaneers throwing. After throwing just one touchdown the past two weeks this is a good spot for Brady to bounce back to more of what we saw the first two weeks when he threw for nine touchdowns. Mike Evans ($6800/$7000) has seven more targets than Chris Godwin ($6300/$7600) on the season as well as almost double the air yards so he’s the preferred play, although both project well. Antonio Brown ($5200/$6500) offers a discount from the other two receivers and has the highest aDOT of the three, and Cameron Brate ($3300/$5000) stands out as one of the best tight end values on the slate.
From the Miami side, there are three standout options to bring it back with. DeVante Parker ($5400/$5700) is dealing with a shoulder and a hamstring injury, but assuming he’s healthy enough to suit up he’s the main downfield threat for the Dolphins. He leads the team in target share and has accounted for almost 40% of the team’s air yards. Jaylen Waddle ($4800/$5400) offers a nice discount on Draftkings, where his high-volume low-aDOT style fits better. He should see plenty of targets and has the speed to break the game open, which makes him a great fit inside of a game stack. Mike Gesicki ($4200/$5600) is operating as a slot receiver, but playing him lets us fill the tight end position that otherwise looks pretty weak on this slate.
Minnesota Vikings, team total of 29.75
The Vikings get the matchup with the Lions this week, which looks to be one of the most favorable ones this season. Detroit’s defense is bad, specifically their secondary after losing multiple starters to injury, and hasn’t been able to stop anyone this year. With Dalvin Cook ($8400/$9000) still nursing an injury, Kirk Cousins ($6500/$7500) should get every opportunity to do some damage through the air. Cousins has multiple touchdowns in three of four games this year and should be able to operate efficiently with Justin Jefferson ($7700/$8000) and Adam Thielen ($6600/$7500) able to easily dominate their matchups. With target shares of 29% and 27% respectively, about half of the Vikings’ passing attack will flow through those two. Jefferson has a comfortable lead in team air yards, while Thielen sees more of the red zone work. K.J. Osborn ($3800/$5200) and Tyler Conklin ($3500/$5100) are cheaper ways to stack this offense, but with how much volume goes to Jefferson and Thielen there may not be enough to go around if the Vikings get it done with efficiency over volume.
Detroit doesn’t have a lot to get excited about, but I’ll be going back to D’Andre Swift ($6100/$6900) again this week. Swift is on the field a ton, and while the rushing touches haven’t been consistent we care more about the passing work especially in a game stack. Swift is tied for the team lead in target share, and his co-leader T.J. Hockenson ($5500/$6400) comes into this game dealing with an injury that has him very questionable to even play. Jamaal Williams ($5200/$6000) is also dealing with a new injury, and if either are limited in any way Swift’s stock would rise dramatically. If you prefer a cheaper option, or just to stack with receivers in general, Kalif Raymond ($4800/$5300) leads the receivers in target share.
Jacksonville Jaguars, team total of 22.25
Trevor Lawrence ($5800/$6500) and the Jaguars have had an interesting week, to say the least, dealing with their coach’s off-field drama. Hopefully, a game against the porous Titans defense is exactly what they need to take their mind off it. Lawrence hasn’t had a great start to the season, but neither had Zach Wilson before lighting up the Titans. Lawrence has seen his rushing attempts rise the last two weeks, and reminded everyone that he can be a weapon in the read-option game. With D.J. Chark on injured reserve, Lawrence’s targets should be concentrated on Marvin Jones ($5700/$6600) and Laviska Shenault ($4800/$5800). Jones already leads the team in target share and he should absorb a lot of Chark’s downfield work. Shenault was being used almost exclusively on short throws, but after Chark went down the Jaguars started sending Shenault on more traditional receiver routes. That’s a great sign for his fantasy value, and both receivers are mispriced this week because they’re still priced as if Chark and his 13% target share will be siphoning away targets. Dan Arnold ($2900/$4800) is still acclimating to the offense, but there’s room for him to have a valuable role here and with tight end looking pretty bleak he’s not the worst punt option.
The Titans present two clear options in Derrick Henry ($9000/$10400) and A.J. Brown ($6500/$6900). Henry is the most expensive player on the slate, but it’s well-earned with how much volume he’s seeing this year. He has traditionally killed the Jaguars, and while the Jaguars have focused on taking away the run this year it’s a lot easier said than done to neutralize Henry. He’ll be popular, likely the most rostered player this week, but if you’re using him with a Jaguars stack that’s probably a good way to use Henry while building a unique lineup. Brown is coming off an injury, but it sounds like he should be close to full-strength. Julio Jones is out, so Brown should get all the targets he can handle against a Jacksonville secondary that stands little chance of matching up with him.
Dak Prescott ($6900/$8100) and Daniel Jones ($6000/$7400) are in the game with the highest total and should both be popular. Dak hasn’t had to pass much the last three weeks as the Cowboys have leaned on the run, but in the last two weeks, Dak has a combined seven touchdowns and 13 rushing attempts. Jones is having a breakout season, scoring at least 22 Draftkings points in three of four games, and is coming off a 400-yard performance while missing two of his top receivers. Jones has at least 27 rushing yards in each week and has done a good job of limiting turnovers. The Cowboys’ defense has been better than expected this year, but they aren’t necessarily a matchup to avoid and Jones seems capable of keeping up in a shootout.
Jalen Hurts ($7000/$8100) just continues to rack up fantasy points regardless of the situation. With at least seven rushing attempts every game this year he has a solid floor from his legs, and his passing has been a pleasant surprise for the many that thought he would struggle as a passer. Philadelphia has focused their offense almost entirely on Hurts, using the running backs sparingly so far, and even in a tough matchup against the Panthers Hurts should be able to get there, either in a competitive game or through garbage time. Kyler Murray ($8000/$8500) is off to an MVP-caliber start and deserves consideration every week. This week he gets the 49ers, who have both a weak secondary and a defense that has struggled to contain rushing quarterbacks. He’s expensive, but on a slate where Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson, and Josh Allen are all unavailable Murray has a clear path to being the top-scoring quarterback.
Nick Chubb ($6700/$7500) is still getting the work, and is still producing the yards, he just hasn’t had much luck with touchdowns the last two weeks. Chubb doesn’t get any receiving work so his floor is always going to be shaky, but the Chargers are vulnerable on the ground and if Chubb gets close to 20 carries he has a chance to break the slate. He doesn’t project to be very popular right now, which makes him a great tournament play. Damien Williams ($5600/$5800) should be very popular, but it’s tough to argue against playing him as he steps into David Montgomery’s vacated every-down role. Williams is a capable receiver out of the backfield and should see enough volume to pay off his salary even if he’s not particularly efficient.
Chase Edmonds ($5900/$6200) is questionable but it sounds like he’s more likely to play than to sit. Assuming he plays, he’s a strong play this week thanks to his 17% target share in an explosive Arizona offense. Edmonds is being slightly out-carried by James Conner but Edmonds holds the edge in targets 22-3. Edmonds has 63 touches this season without a touchdown so he’s due for some positive touchdown regression. Chuba Hubbard ($6000/$6700) gets another week of filling in for CMC, and his matchup with the Eagles is a good one. Hubbard lost some work last week once the Panthers had to play catch-up after falling behind by several scores, but as home favorites that shouldn’t be an issue this week. His price still doesn’t reflect what his workload should be without CMC in a positive game script, and this is likely the last week to take advantage of that.
Davante Adams ($8200/$8200) will be very popular but it’s hard to ignore his salary relative to his projection, especially on FanDuel. Adams has a 33% target share, is second in the league in air yards, and we know his quarterback loves to feature him especially coming off a lackluster performance. D.J. Moore’s ($7500/$7900) salary presents some sticker-shock this week, but it’s tough to argue that he hasn’t earned it. Moore has a target share of over 30%, has almost 38% of his team’s air yards, and is establishing himself as one of the clear alpha receivers in the league. He can be considered matchup-proof at this point, but in particular, this week is a very favorable matchup against a bad Eagles secondary that we just watched get lit up by Tyreek Hill.
Keenan Allen ($6500/$7200) is priced curiously low for a receiver that has at least eight targets in every game and at least 11 in three-of-four. It’s a difficult matchup this week, but Allen is the rare receiver that can be the focal point of his offense but is priced this low. Similarly, CeeDee Lamb ($6200/$6900) is priced like his breakout season isn’t happening. Lamb has had consecutive disappointing weeks as the Cowboys haven’t had to throw much, but I’m willing to bet that he won’t be out-targetted by his tight ends very many more times as the season progresses. When the Cowboys have had to throw, Lamb has led the team in targets and is dangerous as both a downfield target and as a runner with the ball.
Travis Kelce, Mark Andrews, and George Kittle are unavailable for this slate, which leaves the tight end position pretty thin. Darren Waller ($7300/$7400) is relatively expensive on Draftkings while being more affordable on FanDuel, but on either site he’s the premier option at the position. He’s expensive, but he’s basically a number one receiver on one of the pass-happiest offenses in the league. Waller is in the top ten for air yards among all receivers, and his target share of almost 25% is uncomparably elite compared to the other options this week. Noah Fant ($4900/$5900) is the closest to Waller in terms of usage and may be in line for an increased target share if Courtland Sutton, currently a game-time decision, is unable to go.
Houston DST ($2300/$3200) isn’t good, but they’re at home against a rookie quarterback who will be playing behind an offensive line missing four starters. Jacksonville DST ($2100/$3300) is at home against a Titans team that plays like it’s missing starters and just gave up seven sacks to the Jets and has generally struggled with pass protection all season. Arizona DST ($2900/$4700) has played well this season and now faces a rookie quarterback making his first start. Trey Lance may be great for fantasy, but it would be unfair to expect him not to struggle to adjust in his first game. The Cardinals have a good pass rush and plenty of playmakers capable of forcing turnovers, and with Lance expected to be pretty popular, I love Arizona as a way to differentiate lineups.
Starting this week with a Jaguars stack seems like a good way to avoid some of the chalkier plays. Trevor Lawrence is priced right next to Trey Lance, and by bringing it back with A.J. Brown I can hopefully distance myself from the Derrick Henry lineups if Brown can steal away enough production. Marvin Jones and Laviska Shenault are easy choices to stack with Lawrence, and they’re both cheap enough to allow for some roster flexibility. Davante Adams is the other player projected to be very popular, so rostering Aaron Jones provides a similar path to getting an advantage on the Adams lineups as long as Jones gets the touchdowns instead. Jones’ price is depressed a little bit because the Packers didn’t need to lean on him much last week in a comfortable win, but I like the Bengals to be able to keep up with Green Bay. Speaking of the Bengals, I want a piece of their passing game with Joe Mixon banged up and the Packers missing their top cornerback. Tee Higgins is returning from injury, and before missing time, he seemed like the go-to option for Joe Burrow near the goal line. Since I’ve hopefully gotten some unique plays into this lineup, I’m fine with taking on a little bit of chalk. Leonard Fournette appears to have a bell-cow type role in Tampa Bay, and while I expect their passing attack to be effective this week Miami is a team that can be attacked on the ground. More importantly, Fournette’s salary just doesn’t reflect an every-down role. Mike Gesicki is my favorite tight end, aside from Darren Waller, and adds some correlation with Fournette. That leaves me with $4900 for a DST, which normally would be way too much but this week that allows me to pay up for the New England DST. Normally, I never pay up like that at defense so I’ll be looking at other options to spend that salary if I pay down at defense. But for now, the Patriots are one of the rare defenses that might be worth paying up for. They face a rookie quarterback that has struggled mightily, failing to crack 200 yards yet this season, and seems more than happy to turn the ball over. The Patriots typically feast on rookie quarterbacks, and their opportunistic defense has a great chance at multiple turnovers, which equates to a better chance of a defensive touchdown.
This week my lineups will be mostly built around paying up at receiver and tight end. Mike Evans, Davante Adams, and Justin Jefferson just project much higher than the other receivers, and their prices aren’t prohibitive by any means. Ditto for Darren Waller, who isn’t priced high enough to reflect the gap between him and the rest of the tight ends. Quarterback-wise, I’ll mostly be targeting Tom Brady, with a relatively flat exposure to the rest of the quarterbacks. At running back I’ll mostly be attacking the mid-tier options, although I can’t resist trying to overweight the field on Alvin Kamara for another week with how many carries he’s getting. If the receiving work ever comes back, Kamara is poised to smash.
My top five plays at each position right now, by how much exposure I have to them:
QB: Tom Brady, Justin Herbert, Daniel Jones, Dak Prescott, Kirk Cousins
RB: D’Andre Swift, Leonard Fournette, Chase Edmonds, Najee Harris, Alvin Kamara
WR: Mike Evans, Davante Adams, Justin Jefferson, CeeDee Lamb, Antonio Brown
TE: Darren Waller, Mike Gesicki, Jared Cook, Cameron Brate, Evan Engram
DST: Carolina, Houston, Philadelphia, Las Vegas, Minnesota
Good luck this week!
Photo by David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire