My FanDuel lineups got severely altered by the late-breaking news that Calvin Ridley was out. Ridley was my most-used player across both sites, and so pivoting away from him had a ton of ripple effects and frankly, I just didn’t have the time to get everything perfectly refocused. Some good came of it as I ended up over the field on Deebo Samuel and Joe Mixon, both of whom had strong games, but the overall effect was too much Kyle Pitts and a lot of lineups that were not as well put together as I would have liked. Overall, I booked a loss for the week, and the FanDuel bankroll drops to $48.89.
The Draftkings lineup also featured Ridley, but the nature of a single entry is it was easier to put more thought into how to pivot off him. I went from Ridley, D.J. Moore, and Dan Arnold to Cordarrelle Patterson, Jerry Jeudy, and Mike Gesicki. Patterson was fine, but Jeudy and Gesicki were not good. Moore struggled as well, so in all likelihood, this ended up being a wash, but the process to land on Jeudy and Gesicki doesn’t feel great. I liked Arnold and getting off him only to see him succeed was tough. Jeudy was being worked back in from injury, and it was way too optimistic to expect him to fall right back into his old role. The bigger issue was that the stack completely flopped. The Eagles didn’t need to throw the ball at all, and even with Jamaal Williams ruled out D’Andre Swift was unable to produce a big game. Another miss on Draftkings, and the bankroll drops to $36.
Buffalo Bills, team total of 31.5
Another week, another slate where the Bills look like one of the best teams to stack. Josh Allen ($8200 on Draftkings/$9000 on FanDuel) is expensive but has shown all season that he’s worth paying up for. Allen has thrown for multiple touchdowns every week since Week 1, has at least six rushing attempts in four straight games, three rushing touchdowns on the season, and should have all day to throw since the Jaguars have struggled to generate pressure. Allen accounts for such a large portion of Buffalo’s offense, even relative to other quarterbacks, and has a real chance at four or more touchdowns given their slate-leading implied total of 31.5.
Stefon Diggs ($7700/$7600) is priced too low on FanDuel and is the preferred option to stack with Allen on both sites. Diggs has disappointed by his standards but his underlying numbers continue to be strong. He has a 25% target share to go with a healthy 11.4 aDOT. He hasn’t had a true ceiling game yet this season but if he continues to see double-digit targets, as he has in four games already this season, he’ll get there eventually. Emmanuel Sanders ($5600/$6500) put up a big zero last week, but he still leads the team in air yards as the primary deep threat. Last week broke a four-week streak of double-digit fantasy points and should depress Sander’s popularity. Cole Beasley ($5400/$6300) is questionable heading into the week but is in play assuming he suits up. He’s a low aDOT receiver that’s unlikely to break a big play, but he has a target share of over 21% which puts him in play on Draftkings. I would avoid him on FanDuel, which puts a bigger premium on yards and touchdowns. If Beasley sits, Gabriel Davis ($3500/$5000) would become one of the better values. He already stepped into a bigger role with the absence of Dawson Knox and should work as the number three receiver if Beasley can’t go.
From the Jacksonville side, there’s not a whole lot to get excited about as a bring back. Marvin Jones ($5700/$6000) is likely to draw the most defensive attention and the Bills have been strong against tight ends which makes it tough to spend on Dan Arnold ($3400/$5100). Jamal Agnew ($4300/$5200) led the team last week with 12 targets, and while he only turned that into 38 yards he’s cheap enough that that type of volume should let him pay off his salary. This is a spot where I wouldn’t mind not using a bring-back, as I don’t think the Jaguars need to score to motivate the Bills to be aggressive.
Baltimore Ravens, team total of 27.5
Lamar Jackson ($7300/$8300) has as high a ceiling as any quarterback but comes at a discount of almost $1,000 from Allen. Jackson is still getting it done with his legs, rushing for at least 50 yards in all but one game. He’s also flashed some improved passing but has had some bad touchdown luck through the air.
Part of that bad luck has been Marquise Brown ($6000/$7700) dropping what should be easy touchdowns, which should correct itself as the season goes on. Brown is almost too expensive on FanDuel but is very playable on Draftkings, and his big-play ability should be a factor against a beatable Vikings defense that should struggle to cover him. Rashod Bateman ($4000/$5400) has quickly emerged as the second receiver in this offense, earning six targets in both of his starts. He’s currently questionable but assuming he is good to go he is trending towards a breakout. This isn’t the best matchup for Mark Andrews ($5500/$7100) but he has a 22.5% target share and a 21% share of the team’s air yards. He’s tied for the team lead in targets inside the 10-yard line with Brown and should always be in consideration in Ravens’ stacks.
The Vikings offer three main options to run it back with. Dalvin Cook ($7700/$8800) is a top running back option this week and has a favorable matchup against the Ravens. Cook is a big enough part of the passing game that he should still score well even if the Ravens jump out to a lead, and as he gets further removed from his early-season injury he should see his workload increase. Justin Jefferson ($7500/$7600) saw just four targets last week but is well-positioned to bounce back here as the Vikings figure to be trailing in this game. Jefferson is too talented to not earn more than four targets, as evidenced by his 24% target share and massive 41% share of the team’s air yards, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Vikings try to get him going early after neglecting him last week. Adam Thielen ($6900/$7400) has earned at least seven targets in all but one game and leads the team with five targets inside the 10-yard line. If this game turns into a shootout he’s a good bet for a touchdown, and while it seems like he’s slowed down a bit this season he’s still the primary read on a lot of key passing downs.
Cincinnati Bengals, team total of 24.75
The Bengals have taken the training wheels off and are letting Joe Burrow ($6800/$7600) air it out now that he looked fully recovered from his knee injury. Burrow has at least 34 pass attempts in three of his last four games and has at least two passing touchdowns in every game this season. He hasn’t offered much with his legs but he’s made up for it with three straight games of three passing touchdowns. If Cleveland forces the Bengals to pass aggressively for all four quarters Burrow should have no problem throwing for 300 yards and multiple touchdowns.
Ja’Marr Chase ($7600/$7900) has been incredible and his salary has risen to reflect that. Chase has a 25% target share, 40% air yard share, and is getting it done both down the field and after the catch. He’s a clear alpha receiver and he is worth paying up for. Tee Higgins ($5300/$6600) stands out as one of the best values. He has led the team in targets in the games he’s been healthy for, including a 15 target game two weeks ago, and would likely be more expensive if he’d cracked the 100-yard mark last week instead of falling just short with 97. Despite missing two games Higgins is second on the team with three targets inside the 10-yard line. Tyler Boyd ($5000/$5900) has a healthy 22% target share but a paltry 6.7 aDOT. He’s an alright value, but he’s priced so close to Higgins that it’s tough to want to play Boyd. C.J. Uzomah ($3900/$5400) doesn’t rate out well in any volume metric and he isn’t cheap. I won’t be using him, but he makes sense in a Bengals stack a bet on his touchdown upside.
Jarvis Landry ($5100/$5900) is the top receiver in Cleveland now that Odell Beckham Jr. has been removed from the team. Landry has earned eight and 10 targets in his starts since returning from injury and has shown clear chemistry with Baker Mayfield ($5400/$6600). Landry should be a lock for double-digit targets if this game is high-scoring, and while he has a lot aDOT of 8.2 he doesn’t need to do much to pay off his salary. Nick Chubb ($6700/$7600) has seen his price drop and doesn’t have to compete with Kareem Hunt for touches this week. Chubb had three straight weeks with over 20 carries before his injury, and now that he’s another week healthier he should get back to that volume. He’s been a non-factor in the passing game this year, but the matchup with a beatable Bengals’ run defense is appealing.
Patrick Mahomes ($7800/$8500) has been bad by his standards. He’s still Patrick Mahomes though, and I’m willing to bet on him figuring this out sooner rather than later. The Packers’ defense looks like one to target, and with a rookie quarterback on the other side, there’s a solid chance Mahomes gets some extra drives and advantageous field positions. He’s still expensive, but his salary has come down, and now looks like a great time to buy back in on the best quarterback in the league.
Jalen Hurts ($6700/$7800) burned us last week but he is always in consideration thanks to his elite rushing upside. Hurts hit his floor last week and still managed over 11 fantasy points, despite throwing the ball just 14 times for 103 yards and failing to score a touchdown, thanks to his 71 rushing yards. I expect the Eagles will need to throw to keep up with the Chargers, which should mean plenty of drop-backs for Hurts.
Jordan Love ($4400/$6000) is filling in for Aaron Rodgers this week against arguably the worst defense in the league in the Kansas City Chiefs. Love is too cheap and allows you to pay up everywhere else. He hasn’t had the chance to show much as a passer yet, but even if he struggles through the air he is an athletic quarterback who should be able to pay off his salary with his legs, especially against the Chiefs.
Austin Ekeler ($7900/$9000) is getting pricey on FanDuel but is underpriced on Draftkings. He’s got one of the best roles in fantasy football this year, handling a lot of passing work and the goal line carries and should be able to take advantage of a weak Philadelphia linebacker group on his routes out of the backfield.
Josh Jacobs ($6200/$7200) has a favorable matchup against the Giants and has flashed an increased passing game role this season with two games of at least five targets, and a third game with three targets before getting knocked out of the game with an injury. He’s off the injury report and should handle all of the goal line carries.
Zach Moss ($5300/$6000) has been trending towards taking over the Buffalo backfield, earning an impressive seven targets last week, and if he scores any touchdowns that gives you instant leverage over teams that stacked the Bills passing attack. Moss has a real chance at multiple touchdowns against a weak Jacksonville defense and has a higher upside than most of the running backs in his price range.
He’s burned me a lot this year but I’ll be going back to Tyreek Hill ($7900/$8500). Hill has a 28% target share and a well-known ability to break big plays, but he’s also struggled a bit with drops this year which has depressed his production. I expect the Chiefs to be able to get back on track against a depleted Green Bay defense this week, and Hill should be a key piece of that.
Mike Williams ($7100/$7300) has struggled the last two weeks after a dominant start to the season, but those games were against tougher defenses than what he’ll face this week. The Philadelphia secondary has performed well the past few weeks, but Williams is talented enough to go off in any matchup and he has slate-breaking upside but won’t come in very popular.
Brandin Cooks ($6100/$6800) gets Tyrod Taylor ($5000/$6900) back this week and has an elite 29% target share to go with a 45% air yard share. Miami has been one of the most generous teams towards receivers and Cooks looked great to start the season with Taylor under center.
Dallas Goedert ($4500/$6200) earned seven targets last week in a game where the Eagles threw the ball just 14 times. He’s trending towards being one of the top fantasy tight ends now that Zach Ertz ($4700/$5500) is in Arizona, but Goedert’s salary has not caught up to reflect that.
Albert Okwuegbunam ($2600/$4500) will get the start with Noah Fant sidelined due to COVID. Albert O. is a 99th percentile athlete in terms of both pure speed and speed score, per playerprofiler.com. He’s the clear best value play at tight end, but he will be popular so plan accordingly.
San Francisco DST ($2800/$3500) looks like they’re going to face Colt McCoy instead of Kyler Murray. Check to see if Kyler is indeed sitting, but assuming he is this is a great spot for the 49ers.
New Orleans DST ($3700/$4700) has a huge advantage in terms of their pass rush versus the Falcons’ offensive line. They should be able to shut down a one-dimensional Atlanta passing attack and generate plenty of sacks and opportunities for turnovers.
Kansas City DST ($2300/$4400) will be the most popular defense play this week, which makes it tough to want to use them in tournaments. But they’re popular for a good reason as they get to face a very inexperienced Jordan Love. The Chiefs have been terrible defensively this year, but they still have guys capable of making plays, and any team facing essentially a rookie quarterback should be on the radar.
I love Tee Higgins this week, so to avoid playing a chalky one-off play at receiver I’m just going to stack him with Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase. I love their touchdown upside and feel like I’m capturing most of the Bengals air yards in a game that should be high-scoring. To run it back I’ll take the discounted Nick Chubb. Chubb has concerningly been giving up red-zone work, first to Kareem Hunt and last week to D’Ernest Johnson, but Chubb’s ability to break off big runs is second only to Derrick Henry and that type of game-changing ability is what I want in a game stack. Austin Ekeler and Myles Gaskin are the other two plays I want to prioritize. Ekeler is explained above, and Gaskin stands to benefit from the injuries to both Malcolm Brown and DeVante Parker. With Brown out Gaskin should function as the primary runner against a bad Houston defense, and with Parker out there should be more targets to go around and more of an emphasis on the short passing game. From there I need three value plays, so I’ll knock out tight end with Albert Okwuegbunam. He’s a great athlete and should have every opportunity to contribute this week. Hunter Renfrow slides in as my last receiver, as I expect the Giants defense to focus on taking Bryan Edwards away and letting Renfrow feast on the weak middle of their defense. That leaves $2,500 for defense and while the Chiefs project as the best option I think they’ll be too popular for this lineup, especially since the rest of the lineup is pretty chalky. For that reason, I’m going to go with the Atlanta DST facing Trevor Siemian. I don’t love the Falcons’ defensive talent, but any team playing Siemian has my attention.
I’ll be taking big stands on Myles Gaskin, Tyreek Hill, Stefon Diggs, and Darren Waller this week. My quarterback exposure looks like it will be pretty flat as of now, though I expect tomorrow to try and get to more Patrick Mahomes and Justin Herbert before lock. I also may look to mix in Jeff Wilson at RB, as it sounds like Elijah Mitchell is dealing with a pretty limiting injury and won’t be close to full-speed tomorrow if he plays at all.
My top five plays at each position right now, by how much exposure I have to them:
QB: Josh Allen, Lamar Jackson, Dak Prescott, Daniel Jones, Joe Burrow
RB: Myles Gaskin, Ezekiel Elliott, Nick Chubb, Devonta Booker, Chase Edmonds
WR: Stefon Diggs, Tyreek Hill, Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, Amari Cooper
TE: Darren Waller, Mark Andrews, Mike Gesicki, Jared Cook, Albert Okwuegbunam
DST: San Francisco, Kansas City, Atlanta, New England, Cincinnati
Good luck this week!
(Photo by Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire)