What a week it is. President-Elect finally, elected and not one, not two, but three “starting quarterbacks” are not starting. How does any and/or all of this effect DFS Strategy? Well let me start off by addressing just that!
Cowboys: Andy Dalton is out Garrett Gilbert will be under center. Zeke Elliot is also likely to be out so enter Tony Pollard. While ownership will likely be down for all of the Cowboys, I will be fading them completely against a top ranked Pittsburgh Steelers Defense. If it beats me, it beats me.
Lions: Matthew Stafford is likely to be out and Chase Daniel is likely to be under center. Kenny Golladay is also out for Week 9. Marvin Jones will be likely be under 15% owned in tournaments while TJ Hockenson will likely be under 10% owned. So utilizing either man in your lineup may be a contrarian play to consider especially as you can’t help but like their chance against the terrible Minnesota Defense. I think if you really want to be contrarian, take a shot on Deandre Swift or even Adrian Peterson. The negative game script for the Lions will keep ownership way down on these two, but both will have a role. I like Swift more than AP but both guys are in play for me.
Jaguars: Gardner Minshew is out Jake Luton is in. While on paper this is still a plus matchup against the Houston Texans, I prefer taking my shots on the Texans Defense than I do with any Jacksonville pass catchers. However, ownership on DJ Chark projects at under 5% and if I was a rookie QB, I’d be looking for my best pass catcher early and often – just sayin’.
SO I have been trying different approaches to this article recently in the hopes of giving you guys a different look into attacking each DFS Slate. Today though I am going to switch it up to a format that I will be using rest of season – hope you like it. What I am going to give to you today are the 4 Games that I will be pulling the most players from in my lineups today. These 4 Games will feature some of the best offenses in the leagues as well as some of the worst defenses in the league (great for offense) and I will explain how I am attacking each one from a DFS Perspective. I will conclude with other picks that I have stemming from the other games that can be used as one offs in your lineups or in some cases, lower owned stacks. So let’s get into it.
Core Play Game 1: Buffalo Bills vs Seattle Seahawks – Over/Under 55
It probably comes as no surprise that I am choosing this game as one of my building blocks to build around. It isn’t just about the high projected point total, it is that the matchup is just so good for fantasy points.
Let’s start with Quarterbacks. Russell Wilson has been lights out this season, I don’t need to tell you that. Coming into this game with 26 Touchdown Passes to his credit – it’s easy to see that Russ has been Cookin’. He is the third most expensive Quarterback on DK and second most on FD. However you have to like Russ here. He has two of the most explosive Wide Receivers in the game and The Bill’s defense hasn’t really shown any reason to be scared when it comes to passing (outside of Tre’davious White). He of course also offers running upside in any matchup too. Wilson also has the second highest projected Ceiling for points (second only to Patrick Mahomes). The only thing that slightly concerns me is the Seattle running game (which will not be led by Chris Carson today). If the Seahawks can’t establish the run early, the play calling may become a tad predictable for the Bill’s Defense- but then again, it’s Russell Wilson. In Russ we Trust. I like Wilson a lot on Sunday.
On the other side of the ball you have Josh Allen who has had his struggles of late. However now he faces a Seattle Defense that is giving up the MOST fantasy points to opposing Quarterbacks and giving up an average of 366 passing yards per game. Could this be a ‘Get Right’ game for Allen? Well his ownership projection seems to indicate many believe it will be. Allen projects to be the highest owned QB on the slate. What I really like about Allen though is his rushing – particularly his rushing Touchdown upside, which isn’t great for his running backs but that’s ok. While I do like Russ a bit better here, I think Allen is a fine play too but you will need to get a little contrarian elsewhere in your lineup if his ownership holds.
So let’s talk Wide Receivers. If it isn’t one, it’s the other. That is the rule that seems to apply for DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett. Two Weeks ago we saw Lockett go off for a 40 burger. Last week it was Metcalf scoring 30+ fantasy points. So who to go with here? Well, the trend I just mentioned isn’t lost on anyone in DFS as Tyler Lockett is the projected Highest Owned Wide Receiver on the slate. It is expected Metcalf will see a lot of the Bill’s star corner Tre’Davious White, while Lockett will operate primarily from the slot – so this could be a day that follows that same pattern. Right now Lockett is projected at over 20% ownership and if that climbs even higher (30 or 40%) I like Metcalf more at sub 15% ownership. Both guys are in play and easy to stack with Wilson, but a sneaky contrarian play here would be to look at David Moore who is severely under priced on Draft Kings at only $3,100. Moore has 3 Touchdowns on the season and is averaging only a handful of targets per game, but if the Bills can shut down Lockett or Metcalf, Moore will be a third option for Wilson. Additionally Moore got some running in last week and with the Seattle Backfield the way it is, he could be in line for a few more rushes against the Bills.
On the other side of this game I think you have to like Stefon Diggs who is the clear #1 Target for Josh Allen. The Seattle Defense is swiss cheese and Diggs could really be a slate breaker in a game that is expected to have a high score. Diggs is right behind Lockett in terms of ownership so you can see that many are expecting a big game from the former Viking. Diggs has 4 100+ yard games on the season but only 3 TDS – I expect positive regression in that department in this game. However if you want to pivot from the Chalk, I’d take a look at John Brown. He is only $4,600 on DK and is projected at sub 10% ownership. Brown is coming off a Knee Injury but he too could have a chance to break out against this defense. I think you can also take a shot on Cole Beasley here but I don’t see his involvement as a safety blanket for Allen being a prevalent part of this game flow. I could be wrong but if you aren’t playing Diggs, I’d play Brown over Beasley.
One of the reasons why I like Allen and Diggs so much is that for all their troubles in the Secondary the Seahawks have been pretty solid against opposing running backs, ranking 10th in the league and giving up just a hair over 100 yards per game on the ground. So I will likely be fading both Singletary and Moss. Seattle’s backfield also worries me. Even though the Bills have shown weakness against the run, with Travis Homer and Deejay Dallas manning the backfield – I don’t have a firm grasp on who will be receiving the majority of work and if they split time evenly you are fairly dependent on a a Touchdown and again – I just don’t now where that will come from here. I’d rather play a pass catcher in this game.
I also should mention tight ends. You should keep an eye on the Questionable tag on the Bill’s Dawson Knox because if he doesn’t play I don’t mind taking a shot on a cheap Tyler Kroft. I also think you can take a shot on Greg Olsen but at a low target share, there may be bette plays at the position.
Favorite Play in this game: Russell Wilson
Top Stacks: Wilson – Lockett, Allen – Diggs, Wilson-Diggs, Allen- Metcalf
Top Plays: Russell Wilson, Josh Allen, Tyler Lockett, Stefon Diggs
Secondary Plays: DK Metcalf, John Brown, Cole Beasley
Contrarian Pivots: David Moore, Greg Olsen, Tyler Kroft (if Knox is out)
Game 2: Denver Broncos vs Atlanta Falcons – Over/Under 49
I expect ownership on this game to be fairly high given the particulars involved, but I will be grabbing pieces of it where I can, starting with Drew Lock. Lock is coming off a two game stretch averaging 40 passing attempts and in his last game against the Chargers he had his first multi touchdown game of the season with 3. While Lock is garnering some ownership, he makes a nice pivot from some of the more chalky QB plays and he comes with the upside of facing the Falcons Defense giving up over 320 yards on average per game.
One of the reasons why Lock becomes particularly appealing is both he and all of his primary pass catchers are very reasonably priced. Lock is only $5,200 on DK and both Tim Patrick and Jerry Jeudy are $4,700. Even Noah Fant is only $4,600. Patrick is carrying a Questionable tag currently but word coming from the coaching staff is that he will play. Right now the highest owned player on the Broncos is Noah Fant at 15%. Jeudy is also seeing some ownership as well, I suspect largely due to the Q tag on Patrick. I think any combination of Lock with his passcatchers is fine, but I particularly like the Drew Lock – Tim Patrick stack to out perform it’s projection and for less than $10,000 on DK, it allows you a lot of flexibility while also being a bit contrarian where most people will use Jeudy or Fant. The Falcons defense stinks, so any of these players have a great opportunity.
Speaking of opportunity, I think having a piece of the Denver backfield is something you should look to try to do. Philip Lindsey is currently carrying a Q tag and like Tim Patrick the coaching staff believes he can go. Right now due to that he is hovering around 1% owned and if he takes the field at that ownership in this matchup, I will be overweight on my exposure. This doesn’t mean Melvin Gordon is a bad play, but he is seeing around 15% ownership – largely due to the Q distinction on Lindsey. But I much prefer Lindsey, even against the Falcons defense that has been pretty good against the run. He just looks to be the more dynamic player when the two are on the field.
On the other side of the ball you have Matt Ryan who averages 35 passing attempts per game. The Broncos defense, while still pretty good, isn’t one that scares me as they are going up over 250 yard on average in the air and I expect Ryan to once again put this team on his shoulders and fight for a win. We even saw a rushing score last week from Matty Ice and while we can’t predict that, it just shows how much Ryan will fight for his team to win. You gotta like that tenacity.
You also gotta like Julio Jones here. Calvin Ridley hasn’t practiced all week and while he is a game time decision it is looking like he is leaning more towards being doubtful than questionable. This really puts the emphasis on Jones who is averaging 9.5 targets over his last 3 games where he has collected 371 yards and 2 Touchdowns. Jones is the highest owned player in this game at 17% but I do think a game stack with Lock and Julio is an interesting way to approach things.
If Ridley does sit, some value plays will open up. Russell Gage will be a popular pick by many as he is having a pretty good season as the #3 Receiver, but who I am looking at is Christian Blake who is the bare minimum on Draft Kings ($3,000) and after Ridley left the game last week Blake saw 54% of snaps and had a couple catches. If Ridley is out, Blake could be sneaky pivot from Gage who I again expect to be a popular play.
I also think if Ridley sits, you should take a look at Hayden Hurst the Tight End. Hurst has been getting more involved in the passing game over the last two weeks seeing 7 targets in each game and the Broncos are middle of the road against Tight Ends. Hurst is seeing some ownership right now, around 13%, but he makes for a solid pivot from Noah Fant in this same game who is already north of 15% ownership.
The Broncos have been pretty solid against the run all season so while I am not sure how much exposure I will have to Todd Gurley, I do have some interest in Brian Hill. First he is cheaper than Gurley and I really liked how they used Hill last week not only with 11 rushing attempts but also with a handful of targets. The Broncos have been solid against the tackles but have had their struggles with Pass Catching backs and Hill looks to have some upside as a pass catching, change of pace back for the Falcons. I think he is a decent flex play not just because of his price but also because he is currently going virtually unowned.
Favorite Play in this Game: Drew Lock
Top Stacks: Lock – Patrick, Lock – Fant, Ryan – Jones, Lock – Jones
Top Plays: Drew Lock, Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Tim Patrick, Noah Fant, Calvin Ridley (if he plays)
Secondary Plays: Philip Lindsey, Jerry Jeudy, Melvin Gordon, Russell Gage (if Ridley is out)
Dart Throws: Christian Blake (if Ridley is out), Hayden Hurst (if Ridley is out), Brian Hill
Game 3: Houston Texans vs Jacksonville Jaguars – Over/Under 49.5
The last time these two teams met they put up 44 with the Texans scoring 30 points. I would look for this game to exceed that margin with both teams needing a win. Deshaun Watson is the second highest owned quarterback on the slate but that won’t stop me from having him in a few of my lineups. Quietly, Watson has been averaging 35 passing attempts per game and he has yet to have a game this year where he didn’t throw a touchdown pass. He threw 3 of them against the Jags in Week 5. Watson is also running and that is something you have to like in your quarterback. He is averaging 5 rushes per game and roughly 22.5 yards on the ground. I think Watson will come out firing against Jacksonville.
Surprisingly though, Watson’s receivers are not seeing massive ownership. For instance, Brandin Cooks had his breakout game – 8 Catches for 161 and 1 – against the Jags and he is seeing south of 15% ownership. Even more striking is Will Fuller who was very quite in the first meeting, but after a week of trade rumors I would expect Fuller to look to prove a point this go round and he is hovering at 11% owned. You gotta like that opportunity. I think the Watson – Cooks stack will be a popular one, but I have no problem pivoting to Fuller there where he is going largely overlooked. I also think you can take a shot on Randall Cobb here, coming off a 10 target 8 catch 95 yard day the last time out. If you think Cooks and Fuller’s ownership is low – virtually no one is clicking on Randall Cobb right now and he could be a very sneaky play.
I think you gotta like David Johnson here. Johnson took 17 carries for 96 yards against the Jags the last time they met and since then he has been more involved in the passing game including his passing touchdown in week 7. I really like the David Johnson – Texans Defense stack to be a very popular play but one with upside that I don’t mind eating the chalk on.
Why is the Texans Defense the Most Popular DST play on the slate? Well the Jags are starting their rookie quarterback Jake Luton of course. I’ll be honest. I think if you are multi-entering, I’d consider starting Luton on a lineup. He does come with a nice college pedigree (2,700 yards and a 28/3 TD/INT ratio) and he is going into a very soft matchup against a Texans defense ranked 25th in the league against QBs and giving up an average of over 260 air yards per game. Because of the rookie and his recent play, DJ Chark is going virtually unowned and as I alluded to above – if I was a rookie, I’d be looking for my #1 guy early and often. Luton – Chark stack is a very contrarian play that has upside. I also think you can take a shot on Laviska Shenault as I could see the Jags using his versatility with the rookie under center. Keelan Cole is also in consideration but I like Chark better on Sunday. None of these guys are seeing any real major ownership and I think it will be an interesting pivot from the chalky Watson in this same game.
Who I think you really should be looking at in this game though is running back James Robinson. Robinson is a beast – no doubt – seeing 90% of the running back snaps and both on the ground and in the air. He has 2 games already over 100 yards and he has been involved in the passing game too. Last week he had a score on the ground and through the air and against the Texans’s 3rd worst run defense in the league? You have to like the opportunity for Robinson. With the Rookie under center I could see this team going very run heavy in this game. Robinson is pricey at $7,000 on DK but that is also largely helping to keep his ownership down. Right now he projects to be less than 10% owned. Give me a lot of James Robinson here.
Tight ends in this game are a slightly a fade for me. Darren Fells has been a decent option lately, but now Jordan Akins is back and the two are largely splitting the Tight End targets. Tyler Eifert however will be back this week and I could see the rookie leaning on his tight end here. If you really want to go for a deep dart throw, James O’Shaughnessy did show what he could do with Eifert off the field and he could also see some check downs in this game. I like Eifert more due to his Red Zone upside, but really both of these guys are risky plays as we just don’t know where the Rook will go with the ball yet.
Favorite Player in this Game: James Robinson
Top Stacks: Watson – Fuller, Watson – Cooks
Top Plays: Deshaun Watson, Will Fuller, Brandin Cooks, James Robinson, David Johnson
Secondary Plays: DJ Chark, Laviska Shenault, Randall Cobb
Dart Throws: Jake Luton, Tyler Eifert
Game 4: Kansas City Chiefs vs Carolina Panthers – Over/Under 51.5
Christian McCaffery is Back! He automatically clocks in as the most expensive Running Back on the slate and that is ok. He gets to come back against a Chiefs team that has been playing great defense against the run and the pass and that is ok. You are talking about McCaffery here. And by the way – you want a shocker? Christian McCaffery is currently projecting at 6% ownership. This may be the last time you see McCaffery at that low ownership and despite the price, I think you need to consider using McCaffery. He carries no injury distinction and so he walks right back in to 20+ touches per game and 4+ targets? How do you not like McCaffery here – 6% ownership? C’mon now.
During McCaffery’s absence, Teddy Bridgewater and his passing game has stepped up a notch. Despite McCaffery’s return, I don’t think what Teddy has been doing goes away. The nice thing is that due to McCaffery’s return, you are seeing Teddy and the rest of the offense seeing sub 10% ownership as well. The Chiefs have been playing great defense especially in their secondary this season so while I think both Robbie Anderson and DJ Moore are in play, the guy I really like for a tournament play is Curtis Samuel who had a true breakout game last time out. If the Chiefs zero in on Anderson and Moore, Samuel could have a lot of room to move and his explosiveness is something to wonder at.
On the other side of the ball you have Patrick Mahomes who always has upside in any matchup. The Panthers will try to keep Mahomes on the sideline as much as possible but with little to no pass rush to speak of it will be hard to contain Mahomes when he is on the field. I think both Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce are always in play, though I don’t like to play them together – but I also think you should take a look at Mecole Hardman as well. Sammy Watkins has been ruled out and it did appear last week that Hardman may have taken a step or two past Demarcus Robinson as Mahomes’ second WR option. Because of the prices of Mahomes, Hill and Kelce their ownership is always far below than what it should be (outside of Mahomes himself) but almost no one is looking at Hardman here.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire is an interesting name. Yes he is still the Chiefs lead back, however we actually have seen roughly a 10% drop off in Snap Count for with both Lev Bell and Darrell Williams both active. I think CEH though should be in your player pool. If for nothing else the Chiefs could slow this pace down to try and keep McCaffery off the field. Plus we have seen the Chiefs go to CEH on the goal line.
You don’t need me to tell you to play the Chiefs – they are great. What intrigues me though I the diversity of stacks you can build here. Stacking Mahomes and Hill or Kelce will be possible. But what about Game Stacks with Mahomes and McCaffery. Or Teddy – McCaffery – Kelce. For these reasons I really like this game for DFS.
Favorite Player: Patrick Mahomes
Top Stacks: Mahomes-Hill, Mahomes-Kelce, Mahomes-McCaffery, Bridgewater – McCaffery
Top Plays: Christian McCaffery, Patrick Mahomes, Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce
Secondary Plays: Teddy Bridgewater, Curtis Samuel, Robbie Anderson, DJ Moore
Dart Throws: Mecole Hardman
A Couple Other Plays to consider:
Dalvin Cook – Cook is coming off of the biggest games of his career and is in line for another big game against the Lions. One of the reasons I didn’t list this game above is because I think Dalvin Cook has the potential to dominate this game and his offenses’ touches. Cook is the highest owned Running Back on the slate with good reason.
The Raiders vs The Chargers – The only reason why this game wasn’t on my list above is because on a whole this game will be the chalkiest (most owned total) game on the slate. Justin Herbert, Keenan Allen, Hunter Henry, Josh Jacobs, Darren Waller are all north of 15% ownership and will only climb. That doesn’t mean they aren’t fantastic plays – they are! This game has the best potential for a true shootout and you have to love the pieces. I do think Derek Carr is going a little overlooked for the opportunity he has but I think my two favorite plays (outside of Herbert) in this game is Henry Ruggs (5% Owned) and Mike Williams (3% Owned). Both of these guys are the down the field threats for their team and if this game does shootout, they both have potential for monster games.
Trey Burton – Burton is dirt cheap on DK at $3,500 and I could see Phillip Rivers going to Burton often against the stingy Raven;s defense. Burton has touchdown upside and could be a solid pivot from the chalkier tight ends and a bright spot in what is expected to be one of the lowest scoring games of the week.
The Cardinals Offense – I didn’t mention the Cardinals and Dolphins above because I don’t know how this game will play out and I tend to believe that the Cardinals will take control of this game early and I think both Kyler Murray and Deandre Hopkins are coming in underowned. I also like Christian Kirk as a lower owned tournament play with upside… Chase Edmunds is currently the second highest owned Running Back behind Dalvin Cook by the way.
The Steelers Defense – The Steelers play the Cowboys and the Cowboys aren’t looking very Cowboy Lately. Because of the attention the Texans are getting the Steelers D is getting overlooked in a very similar with Dallas also starting a rookie QB. The Steelers are an expensive defense, but it could be worth it and a contrarian pivot from the chalky Texans.
Good Luck in your Contests!