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Welcome to Week 4 of the football season. I’ll be providing you with some DFS content, covering Running Backs and Defenses. We’ll take a look at some potential cash-game plays as well as some pivots that could be used in tournaments. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to reach out in the comments section below.
Cash Game Options:
Chris Carson, SEA ($10,200) at ARI
I’m not going to write about the elite options such as Ezekiel Elliott and Christian McCaffrey. Those guys are obvious if you can get to them. There aren’t any low-priced lock button running backs this week as of now. With the caveat of Rashaad Penny missing this week (missed practice Wed), Carson should get a full workload facing a team that wants to push the pace as much as possible. Arizona has the fastest situation neutral pace, which means that Seattle should naturally run more plays than usual against them. Carson has had trouble holding onto the ball this season, fumbling four times in three games. If Penny misses, his price allows us to get to some of the more expensive options on this slate. I’m looking for high expected volume out of my running backs, and Carson has had 21,18, and 16 touches through three games.
Leonard Fournette, JAX ($10,900) at DEN
Fournette hasn’t been overly efficient this year, but his volume is what I am after in this game. He has had 13,15, and 15 carries in his first three games and at least six targets each game. He has the number one market share of running back carries plus targets for his team in the entire league. He has yet to find the endzone this season which is due for some positive regression his way. It is also worth noting that stud defensive lineman Derek Wolfe did not practice Wednesday. His absence would be a big loss for this Broncos run defense that is only ranked 22nd in adjusted line yards according to football outsiders. Fournette is the 15th most expensive running back but has top-three expected usage on the week, and I want that volume in my cash lineups.
David Johnson, ARI ($10,400) vs SEA
Johnson is priced in the no man’s land between the elite options and the high volume mid-range running backs. This should lead to a bit of depressed ownership for him as people want to find the extra room for the elite guys and drafting Johnson makes that harder to accomplish. In his two games that he didn’t leave with an injury, Johnson had 17 and 24 touches including six receptions in each game. As noted above, the Cardinals like to push the pace of the game which leads to more snaps and volume for everyone on the offense. Seattle is pretty banged up along the defensive line with three guys missing practice Wednesday or limited. Johnson is also facing a loaded box (8+ defenders) on a minuscule 5.6% of his carries. This combination gives Johnson the ceiling to help you win a tournament.
David Montgomery, CHI ($10,000) vs. MIN
Montgomery has quietly been taking over this backfield more and more each week. His snap percentage out of the running backs has been 38%, 44%, 67%. Being home favorites correlates well for running backs and should lead to a good game script for Montgomery, as opposed to trailing and Tarik Cohen being on the field more due to more passing situations. The Vikings quietly haven’t been very good against the run. They rank 29th in the league in adjusted line yards per football outsiders and have given up a healthy 4.4 yards per carry. Montgomery is also second in the NFL in goalline carries with four. It is nice to know the Bears don’t trot Mike Davis out there for all of the goalline situations. Things are trending right for Montgomery, and he will for sure come in at low ownership.
Cash Game Option:
New England Patriots ($6,400) at BUF
It has been said around the fantasy community that this may be the best Patriots defense in the Tom Brady era. They are top two in QB hits and sacks and their pass defense has six interceptions while not allowing a touchdown. They now get to face exciting but turnover-prone Josh Allen. Allen has been sacked five times, fumbled four times, and has thrown three interceptions through three games. For defense in fantasy, we want our opponent to be passing the ball a lot so that we have more opportunities for large point making plays (sacks/turnovers/defensive touchdowns). The Bills are seven-point underdogs right now. The assumption is the Patriots should control this game meaning more dropbacks for Allen than usual. The Pats’ are the fifth most expensive defense, and you should be able to get them in your cash lineups this week.
Baltimore Ravens ($6,800) vs CLE
The Ravens defense only has seven sacks on the year which is middle of the pack. However, they lead the league in QB hits with 28 so far. Now Cleveland comes to town; their offensive line has already given up 11 sacks and two of their starters are on the injury report for the week. Opposing quarterback Baker Mayfield hasn’t been very good this year, only completing 56% of his passes to go along with five interceptions and a fumble. Ravens come in as a seven-point home favorite, meaning oddsmakers believe they will control this game. As a result, the Browns will be forced to throw more while playing from behind, giving us the situation we want for our fantasy defenses.
Carolina Panthers ($4,300) at HOU
The Panthers are tied for third in the league in both QB hits and sacks through three games. They do have some injuries upfront that I will be monitoring, Bruce Irvin and Kawann Short for sure. Then they face the Texans who have the third-highest adjust sack rate, Deshaun Watson being sacked on 11.4% of dropbacks. The Texans left tackle Laremy Tunsil was limited to start the week in practice with ankle and toe injuries. The Panthers play at the second-fastest total pace in the NFL, just behind the Cardinals, while the Texans are in the bottom half of the league in pace. If the Panthers can speed up the Texans, that would mean more pass attempts for Watson and a better chance for sacks/turnovers/defensive scores for our defense.