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This week is an interesting one for DFS, with most of the top running backs being off the slate or injured. That means there is a lot of room for creative roster construction, and that the way you approach the non-running back positions may be more important than it usually is. Below are my recommendations for both cash and tournament plays, with cash plays typically being safer options and tournament plays a little more focused on finding lower-owned players with the upside to take down a contest with a lot of entries.
Cash Game Option:
Matt Ryan, ATL ($10,600) vs TEN
Only $600 above the minimum price for quarterbacks, Matt Ryan is my preferred cheap option for cash games this week. The Falcons have not gotten much of a running game going so far, and that has led to Ryan throwing for over 300 yards and at least two touchdowns in each of his first three games this season. The matchup against the Titans is not one I normally target, but with Ryan playing at home he is simply too cheap at this price point. Ryan is averaging over 25 fantasy points a game and will be a home favorite, so his floor for this week is pretty safe. Ryan ranks eighth in the NFL in air yards thrown and has two big-play receivers in Calvin Ridley ($9,300) and Julio Jones ($14,600) which gives Ryan access to a high ceiling every week. At this price, Ryan has room to come in below his averages and still provide value, and this is not a tough enough matchup to justify his reduced price.
Cash Game/Tournament Option:
Jared Goff, LAR ($12,000) vs TB
Playing at home with the third-highest team total of the week, Jared Goff finds himself in a great spot against a Tampa Bay defense that was just lit up by Daniel Jones in his debut. Goff has gotten off to a bit of a slow start this season, but two of his games have been on the road where he has struggled thus far in his career. Last season, Goff averaged almost 100 yards more per game at home while throwing 12 more touchdowns and six fewer interceptions compared to his starts on the road. Goff is priced up a little for this matchup, so I prefer him in tournaments, but his floor is stable enough for cash if you have the space for his salary. For tournaments, Goff’s ceiling is as high as any quarterback on this slate but he offers a nice discount from the top-priced options.
Baker Mayfield, CLE ($10,200) at BAL
Baker Mayfield and the Browns have been one of the biggest disappointments so far this season, but this seems like a great opportunity to buy-low on their offense and especially on Mayfield himself. Just $200 above the minimum, Mayfield showed us as a rookie that he was capable of big fantasy outings, and has been a more productive fantasy quarterback on the road so far in his career. The Browns are seven-point underdogs against a Baltimore offense that can put up points quickly, so this should be a game environment that forces Mayfield to throw often. Cleveland’s offensive line struggles may limit his ability to push the ball downfield, but Baltimore could be without both of its top cornerbacks due to injury. There is plenty of risk here, but after two bad performances in prime-time games, this is a chance to buy a talented quarterback with good weapons at the lowest price he will be all season. The Ravens gave up over 300 passing yards in each of their games against teams that weren’t the possibly-tanking Dolphins, so this matchup does not seem difficult enough to warrant the steep discount we can get Mayfield for this week. Odell Beckham Jr. ($12,900) is also priced down a lot for this spot and makes for a perfect high-upside stack for tournaments.
Cash Game Option:
Tyler Lockett, SEA ($12,000) at ARI
The Arizona Cardinals have a bad defense and play at a very fast pace, which means all of the Seahawks are in play this week. The top option is Tyler Lockett, as he averages over nine targets a game and is 11th in the NFL in air yards. Lockett’s targets provide a solid floor while being cheaper than the other top receiving options that see a similar target share. The favorable matchup against a week secondary combined with a high-paced game environment gives him a strong ceiling for this week as well. The only downside to Lockett is he is coming off a monster game, so he should attract a lot of ownership from players trying to chase last week’s points. For that reason, I prefer his teammates in tournaments, but for cash games, Lockett is the only Seattle receiver with a target share worth trusting.
Cash Game/Tournament Option:
Terry McLaurin, WAS ($8,800) at NYG
Rookie receiver Terry McLaurin has quickly emerged as the number one option for Washington, but his price has not caught up to his production. McLaurin has recorded at least five catches, 60 yards, and a touchdown in each of the first three weeks. While he can’t maintain that touchdown pace over a full season, his eight targets per game and league-leading 46% of his team’s air yards suggest that his receptions and yardage should be safe. This game has the second-highest total on the slate, and the Giants secondary has been routinely exposed to start the season. McLaurin’s target share is high enough to consider him for cash, but he makes an interesting GPP play because of his price and the chance that this game could turn into a shootout. As the unquestioned number one receiver for his team, McLaurin’s price probably will not be this low again so take advantage of it while you can.
Kenny Golladay, DET ($11,000) vs KC
Kenny Golladay is in a good bounce-back spot this week after putting up a disappointing performance against the Eagles. Golladay is averaging nine targets a game, ranks sixth in the NFL in air yards, and gets a home matchup against the Chiefs. The Chiefs will score enough to force Detroit into some aggressive throws downfield, and no one in the Kansas City secondary can match up with Golladay. After burning fantasy owners last week Golladay should come in at lower ownership, especially since Marvin Jones Jr. ($10,600) outperformed him last week and is slightly cheaper. Golladay is averaging almost three targets more per game between the two and is still the number one target on this offense, and he’ll show that this week.
Mike Williams, LAC ($10,300) at MIA
Any player that will see meaningful snaps against the Dolphins is a viable tournament play, especially if they have big-play upside. Mike Williams should go under the radar compared to his more popular teammates, especially Keenan Allen ($15,700) after his incredible performance last week. Williams comes at a discount and has seen his targets increase each week as he gets healthier from an injury he suffered in Week 1. Despite his injury-related limitations in the first two weeks, Williams has seen three red-zone targets and an aDOT of 17.4. The upside for touchdowns and big-plays is there, especially in an incredibly easy matchup against a Dolphins secondary that at times looks lost on the field. Miami’s top corner, Xavien Howard, will probably try to limit Allen which leaves Williams free to dominate whoever the Dolphins send at him. There is some concern here that the Chargers will not need to throw the ball much to win this game, but chances are good that if the Chargers get up that comfortably that Williams was able to contribute and post a nice fantasy outing.
Cash Game Option:
Darren Waller, OAK ($10,900) at IND
Darren Waller’s price has come up a lot since the start of the season, which comes as no surprise given how productive he’s been. Waller is the rare tight end that leads his team in targets, receptions and receiving yards. He’s also third among all tight ends in targets and receiving yards, and is first in receptions. This week he is matched up with a Colts team that plays a lot of soft zone coverage, which means there should be plenty of holes in the defense for Waller to find. The Colts also lost star safety Malik Hooker to injury and will be replacing him with rookie Khari Willis, which makes this matchup even better for Waller. I don’t usually like paying up this high for tight ends in cash, but Waller’s combination of targets and a plus matchup make him worth the price this week.
Delanie Walker, TEN ($8,500) at ATL
Delanie Walker continues to be the number one target for the Titans and should be featured heavily in a road matchup against a beatable Falcons defense. Walker has seen at least six targets every game and aside from Derrick Henry ($11,800), he is the Titan with the best chance of reaching the end zone. Atlanta’s offense should be able to force the Titans into a more aggressive gameplan to keep pace, and as Walker is the only Titan with a reliable share of the passing work that should benefit him the most. It helps that Atlanta’s defense is usually willing to concede short completions to opposing offenses, which is the area of the field Walker typically operates in.
Will Dissly, SEA ($6,800) at ARI
Will Dissly is a tight end playing against the Cardinals, and so far tight ends against Arizona are averaging over seven receptions for 106 yards and just over a touchdown per game. Dissly has three touchdowns already this season, and while he is not a high volume player he is involved enough in the offense to warrant consideration in such a great matchup. Seattle traded backup tight end Nick Vannet this week, signaling their faith in the health and talent level of Dissly. His low target number makes him a bit of a risk, but his price allows for him to not need to have a huge game to return value. He should be able to break a few big plays, which is more than enough to be a positive part of a tournament lineup. If Seattle decides to feature him more than they have thus far he could be in for the same type of huge performance every other tight end has posted against the Cardinals this year, which would make him one of the most valuable players on the slate.
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