First, let me take a second to wish Dak Prescott a healthy and speedy recovery and an eventual return to the league in which you were and still are an ever rising star. Best wishes Dak.
Ok – tonight we have a Monday Night Football game that should deliver a lot of excitement. On the one side we have the wily veteran Drew Brees, on the other the rookie upstart Justin Herbert. On one side we have arguably the most dynamic running back in the league Alvin Kamara and on the other we have a raw rookie talent in Joshua Kelley. Lastly we have two defenses that have had their bright moments and weaknesses both shown over the last 4 weeks – which will prevail? We shall see.
Last night in my article about the Sunday Night Showdown I noted that due to the concentrated amount of touches on the offensive side of both teams, there really wasn’t much to discuss on strategy outside of knowing those 6 players would be found in nearly every lineup and to cash you needed to find contrarian pivot points that carried upside to the game. Did you grab Will Dissly at $600 on Draft Kings? Did you grab Greg Olsen at roughly 20% ownership? I’m sorry if you grabbed David Moore but if he had caught that 60 yard Touchdown Bomb I suppose I’d be asking too if you grabbed him. Did you pair any of these three with the extremely chalky DK Metcalf and Russell Wilson and Dalvin Cook? Did you use a defense with your offensive players? No? Did you use a kicker in place of another piece in your lineups? No? Did you have a shot on Alexander Mattison?
Let’s take a look at a winning Single Entry lineup last night in a single entry tournament that I played in. First place here took home $416 on a $1 entry. Not a bad return. Captain DK Metcalf (37% Owned), Russell Wilson (74% Owned), Adam Thielen (37% Owned), Chris Carson (60% Owned), Alexander Mattison (15% Owned), Freddie Swain (16% Owned). I show you this to point out two things. First, in Showdowns and really in DFS it’s not enough to “play good players” – everyone is doing that. It’s also taking chances on players that aren’t the “popular play” and pairing them with your studs. Because if one player – in this case Alexander Mattison goes off and you have him at 15% ownership, you just took a leg up on 85% of your opponents. Then you need the studs in your lineup to carry you home. Does this make sense?
Another thing you will note is that player faded the extremely chalky Tyler Lockett who was owned by 65% of the field. Turned out to be a smart move. That smart move also helped in aiding this player’s win, there is no doubt – but you also had Freddie Swain in that lineup that also had under 5 fantasy points last night. The difference (besides the obvious) was that only 15% ate the 3.5 points while 65% at the 4.5 points Lockett scored and more than likely one of the other pieces of the winning lineup couldn’t have been in the lineup due to the expensive nature of Lockett’s price tag too. So yes, there is luck involved. However if you factor in what you can control more than “I need to be lucky” you will find yourself building better lineups. Optimizer programs can help you with that, I encourage you to check one out.
You didn’t need me to tell you or repeat what many in the industry had probably already told you about DK Metcalf and the stud he was. If you are a football fan, you know. What I wanted to do is to make sure you didn’t forget Alexander Mattison or Will Dissly and don’t overlook them if you are making multiple lineups. The winning lineup I displayed above certainly did not.
Tonight, there is more variance in where targets will go tonight and more distribution of touches overall… so while you do have a couple key pieces on either side, we have more room to find contrarian plays with upside. I know, it’s a lot to unpack – so let’s get into it.
Editor’s Note – Draft Kings pricing that I discuss below will reflect a player’s Flex pricing. Should you choose that player to be a Captain on DK, please note his price will go up 1.5x – however you also collect 1.5x that player’s fantasy points. FanDuel factors that increase in scoring that their MVP seat offers in their overall pricing and that is why FanDuel Pricing will always be higher – but your also have $10,000 more of Salary Cap to use on FanDuel.
The elephant in the room here is that Michael Thomas is healthy again – but will be a healthy scratch tonight due to disciplinary reasons. I will not discuss the stories surrounding this, but it needs to be noted – if the Saints began the week with Thomas back and practicing to then suddenly have to switch gears, I feel for the team. This is a very GAME Chargers team coming to play tonight and so I need to again stress – this is 2020 and ANYTHING can happen. Any evidence you need to show this further can be seen in the Miami San Francisco game yesterday. Ok let’s start.
Drew Brees ($10,400 DK, $14,500 FD) has had a rocky start to the season. It is clear that he has missed Michael Thomas, quite similarly to what we have seen from Deshaun Watson without Deandre Hopkins quite frankly. However, Brees is a future hall of fame quarterback and one that has legendary sight when it comes to being under center and while Brees will be a volatile, yet popular, play tonight I think that he will ultimately be a key to winning lineups tonight. There are a lot of questions on Brees’ shoulders to consider. First and foremost, can the Saints really take over games the way that they have done so often in recent history and finish games too – without Michael Thomas? Plus, there is a lot of analysts that are saying perhaps Brees’ time has come to hang up the cleats. Here are the real stats though. Brees has already thrown for just over 1,000 yards this season. He has thrown 8 touchdowns and yes, two picks. Tonight he takes on a defense allowing an average of 263 passing yards thus far and 374 total yards per game. While Brees needs to be considered and paired with his main targets tonight in stacks, I am less inclined to play him as Captain or MVP. The reason for that is simple – I think the upside in those seats in your lineup can be hit with a Running Back or Wide Receiver more so than Brees. It is less about the stats and more about the game flow that I think we will see. Without Thomas, we know Alvin Kamara will be heavily involved and to that same point Latavius Murray. Additionally Tight End Jared Cook still is questionable and he has proven to be a safety net for Brees on more than one occasion, where will those targets go should he not suit up? It appears Tre’Quon Smith has helped to fill the target void filled (finally) but despite his best efforts, Smith is no Thomas or Cook when it comes to big play making ability. The same can be arguably said for Emmanuel Sanders, who thankfully does seem to now be on the same page as Brees. My point is I think the Saints will take a stance to try and get out early and run the ball and keep the Chargers Offense off the field and I don’t know if Brees hits the kind of Ceiling Score you want in the Captain seat and I’m also not convinced he will need to pass for 300+ yards considering he has only done that one other time this season. 300 Passing Yards gives a QB bonus points on Draft Kings.
Justin Herbert ($10,200 DK, $14,500 FD) I do have to say I am surprised he is priced so closely to Brees. This has nothing to do with the player, his talent or his record. It more has to do with it is a sign to me that both DK and FD are realizing there are “smart” players in these tournaments. Look for the Chargers, they want a shootout tonight. The reality is they know that Brees is at Home and at Home traditionally means a better Brees – but tonight the Superdome will be empty, no crowd. Does that make Brees vulnerable to attack? Maybe – but more importantly if their defense can slow the Saints down and force them away from the run, it creates a better opportunity for Herbert and his team to make big plays happen and I am certain that is the atmosphere the Chargers want – opportunities. I would LOVE Herbert tonight if he was even $1,000 less than Brees, but it isn’t like I won’t have my share of Herbert in some lineups. However, unlike Brees I do like Herbert a bit more as Captain and MVP. First – let’s take a look at Week 3 against the Buccaneers in what was a shootout type game. While it was the first time Herbert didn’t break 300 yards (he ended with 290) he threw for 3 touchdowns in that game and he also rushed for 14 yards. If the Chargers are able to get this game into a shootout, I like Herbert to take more chances and that just makes for a fine DFS Play. Taking Chances.
The overwhelming lion share of targets and touches that Alvin Kamara ($12,000 DK, $16,000 FD) has seen without Michael Thomas on the field is a little stunning. He has rushed the ball 60 times over the last 3 weeks and has seen 35 targets. The results can speak from themselves but that is a massive share of the offense – and the thing is, he is AWESOME. Kamara is not only (rightfully so) the highest priced player tonight on the slate, but I will predict he will be the highest owned overall play and the highest owned Captain/MVP play (74% as of this writing on DK). The Chargers are allowing 110 yards on the ground and again 374 total yards per game. I would not be surprised if Kamara himself doesn’t account for ⅓ of the total offensive yards for the Saints tonight. Due to his high level of usage, I think it will be very tough to get away from playing Kamara. The reality is he is not dependent on any game script and so whether the Saints are in the lead or trailing, he will be involved. I am hesitant to go all in as my favorite Captain/MVP Play though just simply due to the ownership he will have in that position. Stacking Kamara with Brees and taking a shot on the Saints Defense in the stack could give you a comepetitive advantage with either Emmanuel Sanders or Tre’Quon Smith in the Captain seat and a solid run back with Hunter Henry, Keenan Allen or the Saints pass catcher of your choosing.
Just because Kamara’s volume is massive, it does not mean you will not see Latavius Murray ($4,800 DK, $8,000 FD) however who in his own right is a part of the Saints Game Plan each week. He is a leader in the locker room and quite frankly a solid running back who is a step above the “change of pace” role I think he is incorrectly labeled as. If you are multi-entering tonight, do yourself a favor and have some shots on Murray. I like him as a run back in Charger Stacks and as a pairing with the Saints Defense in those stacks as well.
Opportunity knocks for rookie Joshua Kelley ($8,200 DK, $12,000 FD) and now he is the lead back for the Chargers with Austin Ekeler going on IR. What does that mean. Volume – yes, for sure. Goal line opportunities – yes for sure. Targets in the passing game – yes, they will also be there. So what is the hesitancy I have with Josh Kelley tonight? None, but one thing I will likely not be doing is rostering Kelley in lineups with Alvin Kamara in them and knowing the heavy exposure I think I will have and I think you may need to have to Alvin Kamara, I am concerned I will be underweight on Kelley in tournaments tonight. Why not roster both Kamara and Kelley in the same lineup? Simple, it goes back to something I mentioned last week. Your Lineup needs to have a narrative and if you start your lineup with Kamara than likely the narrative you are writing is that Kamara will help the Saints control the time of possession and the ball and so that would logically mean less of the Chargers run game and more of the Chargers passing attack will be the response. So I’d rather include Keenan Allen or Hunter Henry in a Kamara lineup. But Joshua Kelley will have a lot of opportunity. He is averaging roughly 12 touches per game and an average of 3 targets. I don’t like Kelley as a Captain or MVP but he is likely going to be a key piece if you are stacking the Chargers. I do think he will be very popular but using him in lineups with the Chargers Defense and Kickers may be a unique build to try out.
If Kelley was the Thunder to Ekeler’s Lighting, tonight the Thunder will presumably be provided by long time Chargers backup, Justin Jackson ($4,400 DK, $7,500 FD). In his first game in this role he had 6 touches and 2 targets and while that could paint a negative picture, I think it more points to the Chargers getting used to the division of work between these two very similar players. I would look for Jackson to be a bit more involved tonight and to the point I made about Latavius Murray, he will be factored in the game plan as the #2 in the two man committee that the Chargers ultimately want to run. Jackson will be very popular tonight as the cheapest running back with most likely opportunity. So I would not just assume playing him in a run back to a Saints stack isn’t what thousands of other players are doing and thinking they are being unique. I would use Jackson in lineups without Kelley but in this case, because of his role, I don’t mind including him in lineups that contain Kamara. I also wouldn’t be surprised to see the Chargers give Jackson goal line work tonight either.
One thing to note on both Kelley and Jackson and perhaps something to keep in mind is that the Saints are averaging under 100 yards (97) given up on the ground to opposing backs. With both Kelley and Jackson, I think you are rostering them but mainly for what they also offer in the passing game. So pairing both of them with Justin Herbert would be advised here to get the most out of those targets in your lineup.
I don’t think people are giving Tre’Quon Smith ($7,000 DK, $9,500 FD) enough credit. He was tasked with stepping up when Michael Thomas was unable to play and guys – he has. This is a guy that since being drafted has been labeled at best a DFS Dart Throw and at Worst a forever waiver wire player in Fantasy Football but let’s face facts. Over the last three and a half weeks he has been running better routes. He has been seeing and catching the high probability targets that Thomas left in his wake and last week – he finally got his Touchdown. Look – as sure as we know Brees will be looking for Kamara tonight, we can also be fairly sure too that he will be looking for Smith too, particularly on 3rd and longs or in snaps backed up by penalty. So he will be a natural pairing with Brees – but here is something else to think about when looking at Smith tonight. While yes most DFS tournaments are full of top level DFS players and fans that are savvy to the goings on across the league. However, you may have an advantage knowing about Smith’s involvement on lesser savvy players who will see Smith and remember what he WAS and not what he IS in reference to the role in this offense. So I wouldn’t be surprised to see his ownership come in a bit lower than perhaps it should be. I likely will be overweight on my exposure to Smith. He has seen 18 targets from Brees over the last three weeks and while his yardage isn’t anything to write home about, his two touchdown week last week also shows he can be a scoring threat.
I also think Emmanuel Sanders ($5,600 DK, $10,000 FD) has emerged as a real target for Brees over the last two weeks. This was a necessary thing for the Saints to have happen. Yes he had a touchdown in Week one but he also only collected 15 yards that week. Additionally in week 2 he only had 18 yards to his name – again without Michael Thomas, the Saints needed this connection to happen. Thankfully in week 3 his yardage jumped to 53 and he had another score and last week we saw Sanders hit just shy of 100 yards (93) with 6 catches on 9 targets. I think that is what we should expect to see Sanders at tonight and quite frankly he is coming in UNDERPRICED on Draft Kings and a receiver to attack and build your Saints stacks around. Additionally with his cheap price and clear upside, he makes for a solid pivot pick for Captain on DK or MVP on FanDuel and a pivot from some of the other more chalky plays. While he will be a popular play on DK due to his price, rostering him in the Captains seat will be contrarian where most DFSers will be using the spot for Alvin Kamara or Brees himself. Using Sanders in that spot will allow you to play Kamara and Brees along with other quality pieces due to the salary savings.
The Saints passing volume, when not targeting Kamara, is fairly concentrated between Smith and Sanders, stemming from the last two weeks. So both are firmly in play for me as Captain/MVP options. While still chalky (both players are around 30% ownership right now), they are significantly less owned than Alvin Kamara in the same seat and significantly cheaper than Kamara too. Starting your stack with either Smith or Sanders in the Captain spot on DK will also allow you to include more of the studs you will want, due to the savings that they offer too.
A couple other Saints WRs to keep an eye on and certainly consider cheap, low owned, contrarian pieces are Marquez Callaway ($600 DK, $5,000 FD) and Bennie Fowler ($200 DK, $5,000 FD). While neither have seen a heavy snap or target share, both will see the field and should the Chargers find a way to slow either Smith or Sanders and Jared Cook sits – targets could come their way. Callaway saw and caught his only target last week and Fowler has been called up from the practice squad – but keep in mind that the winning lineup last night I pointed out had low owned, cheap, one target on the night Freddie Swain in it. If you are multi entering, have a share of Callaway and if you want to get real crazy a share of Fowler too. Their price tags will allow you to do so much with the rest of your lineup and should one be in the right place and right time to catch a touchdown pass or a deep bomb from Brees, you could have just separated yourself from every other player who didn’t take a shot.
On the Chargers side of things, you have Keenan Allen of course. Allen is the clear #1 WR for the Chargers and he will likely see a lot of the Saints’ all pro cornerback Marshawn Latimore. This will not be the first time Allen and Latimore have met on the field and if you look at the logs, it is a battle that the results have been 50/50 between these two. Latimore is coming into tonight questionable and if he sits – I love Keenan Allen here especially because New Orleans other stud safety Janorus Jenkins has already been ruled out.
If we look at recency, for a comp to tonight, take a look at Allen’ week 2 game against another decent secondary – the Chiefs. Allen took 7 targets for 96 yards but was held without a score. If that is Allen’s floor tonight, his ceiling came a week later against Carolina – 13 Catches for 132 yards and a score. I will guess tonight against the Saints, who are allowing 30 Fantasy Points on average to Wide Receivers this season, Allen will fall somewhat in the middle and will be popular tonight stacking with Herbert. It may be an advantageous move to double stack Herbert with Allen and another pass catcher along with kicker Michael Badgeley, then build out the rest of your lineup from there. I personally am less likely to use Allen as a Captain or MVP mainly due to ownership (he is the second highest owned play on the slate tonight) but should you choose to, including the Kicker or even the Chargers Defense in you stack could give you enough contrarian edge.
Mike Williams ($5,000 DK, $8,000 FD) carries a questionable tag heading into tonight but all signs are pointing to him returning tonight and if he does, he will definitely be in play. Williams is the field stretcher of this offense and with the Saints secondary dealing with injuries to their starters as I mentioned, I could easily see Herbert and Williams connecting deep down field. Williams will not receive the target share that Allen does but that is ok, because 1 pass for 80 yards and a score gives you the same points as 5 catches for 50 and a score and usually (when healthy, Williams really only needs the 1. Keep an eye on the injury report but if Williams is playing I will be playing him. The questionable tag will have many staying away and if he is a game time decision, he could end up being an extremely low owned player with a lot of upside and a perfect contrarian play to stack with Allen and Herbert.
After Mike Williams went down, another speedster emerged for the Chargers in Jalen Guyton ($4,200 DK, $7,000 FD) who got the start with Williams out. Much like Williams, Guyton needed only 1 target – a 72 Yard Touchdown Bomb from Herbert to put up double digit fantasy points in week 4. If Williams is out, I will have plenty of shots with Guyton at a). his cheap price and b). his 15% ownership currently. Even if Williams suits up, I still think a play like that against the Buccaneers may have opened up the eyes of the Coaching staff on Guyton and he could get in there for some snaps. Worth a flier in my opinion if you are multi-entering. Right now Guyton is seeing around 15% ownership BUT if Williams plays, Guyton’s ownership will drop even further keep in mind. I’ll take 1 target, 72 yards and a score for 14 fantasy points at no ownership any day of the week. If Williams sits, I also like Guyton as a low owned run back on Saints stacks too.
A couple other Chargers to keep on your radar should Williams sit again are Tyron Johnson ($1,800 DK, $6,500 FD) and Jason Moore ($200 DK, $5,000 FD) Again with Mike Williams sitting, opportunity opened up for Johnson who (similar to Guyton) took a 1 target for a 56 Yard bomb from Herbert to the house in Week 4. Again if Williams sits and you are multi entering I would have a few shares of Johnson. I probably like Guyton more here but that 1 play in Week 4 gave Johnson 12.3 Fantasy points and at a cheap price I would take that production at less than 10% ownership. I only mention Jason Moore here because he will be active tonight if Williams sits. Moore technically was on the roster starting in Week 2 but was inactive for weeks 2 and 3. Should Williams sit again, we could see Moore out there and with Herbert’s propensity to find deep targets for 1 yard touchdown bombs, it’s worth mentioning his name. If I had to rank these three it would be Guyton, Johnson, Moore with only Guyton and Johnson worth some exposure if Williams is active.
As mentioned above, Jared Cook ($6,200 DK, $11,000 FD) carries a Q tag that you should keep an eye on. Should he play though I think it is worth noting that many in the industry are seemingly off Cook as a core play with Brees – but I think they are discounting how important a role he plays for Brees on third down and in the red zone. I do think it is important to note too that we only saw Cook, Smith and Sanders on the field for part of week 1 and at that time Sanders and Brees really hadn’t found the groove that they are currently on either. So if he plays, I am wary of his target share tonight. I think it is also fairly telling that with Cook out the Saints used their tight ends mainly for run and pass blocking. Neither of these things are necessarily Cook’s strong suit so if he is out there he will get targets so it will be interesting to see if his presence effects either Smith’s or Sanders’ usage. One way I will be using Cook if he plays is a pivot in some lineups from either Smith or Sanders, both of whom are nearing 40% ownership tonight. If it’s Cook and not Sanders who gets the Touchdown, for instance, I’ll be glad I had some Jared Cook. I do think he is a tad overpriced tonight as a player returning from injury, but still I think you should have some shares of Cook tonight if you are multi-entering or building a Saints ‘onslaught’ style stack with Kamara, Brees and one of the receivers.
If Cook sits, I think it will be pretty tough to trust either of the listed Saints tight ends. First there is Adam Trautman ($1,000 DK, $5,500 FD) who if you ask about 75% of players last weekend about Trautman tonight they may throw up in their mouths. After being listed on the depth chart as the next man up after Cook, Trautman carried 60% ownership and was the highest owned tight end and saw no targets for no points. Don’t step on that landmine again. Josh Hill ($800 DK, $5,500 FD) however I think would be worth a few dart throws if you are mass multi entering. He is touchdown dependent, yes, but Drew Brees likes Josh Hill and he looks for him in the redzone. Even if Cook does play, if you are mass multi entering, having a lineup or two with Josh Hill in it is never a bad idea, especially when the Saints are home. I also need to mention here Sean Peyton’s man crush, gadget man Taysom Hill ($1,600 DK, $6,500 FD) who on a normal slate you will never play because Draft Kings lists him as QB. But in Showdown – go ahead and fire up a few shares of Taysom Hill if you are multi entering. The Saints run enough trick plays with Hill, particularly in some third down situations and in the red zone that I think having Taysom in at least one line up isn’t a bad play – even though it just feels bad. I know, it does.
On the Chargers side of the ball you have big Hunter Henry ($7,800 DK, $9,800 FD) who for his play making ability is coming off his lowest targets and yardage of the season in Week 4. Henry was seeing 7.5 targets per game through the first three weeks but that dropped in Week 4 to only 4 targets. Why that is striking is because in Week 4 the Chargers were in a shootout with the Buccaneers and you would have thought Henry to be more involved. For what it’s worth too, the Saints have been gouged by Tight Ends this season, allowing the second most points to the position in the league. So Hunter Henry Bounce Back? Could be! I like Henry tonight and will like him more if Mike Williams sits. I think he could be a crucial key to a successful Chargers stack tonight as well.
One Tight End who emerged in Week 4 and made the highlight reals is former XFL Standout Donald Parham ($1,200 DK, $6,000 FD) who had a magnificently athletic touchdown grab against the Bucks. Parham is a big man and can be a matchup nightmare ala Mo Alley Cox, young Gronk style. If Williams sits I could see the Chargers going 12 personnel and using and targeting both Henry and Parham. I prefer Henry only because of his history but I will have some shots with Parham in his place stacked with Herbert – what the heck right? If you are multi-entering I think you need some Parham exposure tonight and at less than 5% ownership if he nabs another touchdown or more – he could be a slate breaker ala Chase Claypool (Claypool had 4 touchdown yesterday at 7% ownership on the slate – boom).
I would suggest having exposure to the defenses tonight as we have seen – anything can happen in 2020 and fumbles, interceptions and sacks are all well in the realm of possibility in this game on both sides of the ball. If you think that the Chargers Defense will roll tonight, I’d have no problem rostering them alongside a Chargers running back, Herbert and a Chargers receiver and running the stack back with a Saints receiver – or vice versa. I don’t recommend either as Captain or MVP.
The same goes for Kickers in this game. If you think, like I do, both team will be looking for points however they can get it. So include a kicker in your team stacks and at low ownership it could be a contrarian way for success.
Good Luck in your Contests!