Week 10 for DFS and (in a lot of ways) Fantasy on a whole was a bit of a dumpster fire. Players that we thought would excel really didn’t, unexpected curve balls were thrown that no one anticipated and games that were supposed to be high scoring underwhelmed. Look if you read my DFS articles regularly (first THANK YOU) you need to understand I can only give you the best takes based on data and historical information available. I heard from someone upset I recommended DK Metcalf yesterday after he put up a total dud – largely due to Jalen Ramsey’s shadow coverage. Here’s the thing – Jalen Ramsey has rarely been a shadow corner and since being on the Rams – he hasn’t ever before. If you heard interviews with him leading into the game and listened to what he was saying he basically was describing Cover 2 zone coverage on how to play him. So yes, based on historical and what data was available, Metcalf was a good play. However what did we learn here. A reminder that Players and Coaches often lie to the press so they don’t show their hand and also that (especially in DFS) you need to do you own research and trust your gut on plays. I am not making excuses. I am only saying that what I am trying to do here every week is to give you an insight on what I am seeing and what I am thinking in regards to a DFS Slate and how I am going to attack it. I hope it helps more time than not, I am sorry if it didn’t yesterday.
It should have last night though. For my showdown article last night I gave you the thoughts I had including my gut saying that it might be a Rex Burkhead type of game. Why. A couple reasons. His style of smash mouth running in a bad weather game. His propensity for the end zone. His snap share which is just a tick under ⅓ and his cheap price tag. That was my gut talking. I also had a gut feeling on Willie Snead that I mentioned. Why. Lamar has not been breaking any records by passing volume, which means most of his throws are coming underneath. Next was the bad weather likely limiting down the field throws which favor Hollywood Brown and would likely cause Snead and Mark Andrews to see more targets. That’s it. They both hit. Let’s look at a winning lineup from last night as I think it can help us to build a better lineup tonight. Here is the winning lineup in last night’s Millionaire Maker tournament on DK:
Captain: Willie Snead
Flex: Lamar Jackson
Flex: Cam Newton
Flex: Jakobi Meyers
Flex: Rex Burkhead
Flex: Gus Edwards
Now look if you read my article, you should have been on all of these plays. It is putting it together correctly that matters and if it wasn’t going to be a windy rainy game, strong likelihood Willie Snead and Rex Burkhead wouldn’t have been in this lineup. So let’s dissect this a bit further. First the lineup is an even 3 and 3 from each team, which sounds like it should be optimal in every Showdown but in truth it is a bit rare for this to happen. However one reason why it did work is you happen to have two quarterbacks with rather targeted approaches to who they are targeting. On the Ravens side it really is a three headed monster outside of the running backs. Brown, Andrews, Snead. Last night we saw the Rookie Dubernay see some targets (also mentioned in my article) but what we see in the optimal is that looking cheap at Gus Edwards made more sense. First, it was expected he would see a good amount of touches with Ingram likely coming back from injury. Second the matchup. The Patriots have not been great against running backs. So even if he saw 6 touches but averaged 5 or more yards per touch, he likely would outscore a receiver seeing 5 targets and catching 4 of them for 10 yards each. The savings allowed you both quarterbacks in the lineup – also the two chalkiest players on the slate and the difference makers, not just because of the points but because of low ownership were Snead and Burkhead. By looking at last night’s winning lineup I think it can help us tonight. Here’s how:
The most interesting storyline in tonight’s game for me is the Chicago Backfield. David Montgomery has been ruled out. So on the one hand, when he exited the game the most explosive back on the field was Ryan Nall who caught all 4 of his targets for 35 yards and a touchdown. Interestingly though, he didn’t rush the ball once. You did see Cordarelle Patterson get 3 snaps under center, but he usually does see some work in a running back role per game. It is tough to say if the Bears will lean on Patterson tonight as the primary runner however and for Draft Kings part they have Nall priced as if he will lead the backfield. The question marks though land on two additional names. Rookie Artavis Pierce, recently called up from the practice squad but yet to see a snap and longtime journeyman vet Lamar Miller who also has been called up from the practice squad but hasn’t seen an NFL Snap since 2019. The Bears have yet to declare who will get the starting nod tonight but I think we need to keep each of these guys on our radar and pay attention to the reports coming before kickoff. I think we can lean on history to say Patterson will be involved and perhaps his 3 snaps as a running back goes up to 5 or 6 tonight. I think we have seen a more defined role for Nall as the passing down back – especially when the team is in Hurry Up. So could he get more work on first and second down? Definitely possible. But what about Pierce and Miller – especially Miller. We did see the Seahawks yesterday quietly elevate Veteran Alex Collins last night and he saw more snaps then either of the other two backs, one of which was a rookie – so could we see the Bears use the veteran Miller tonight similarly? It will be tough to really figure this out. The Vikings are in the bottom half of the league against the run. So there is a good chance one of these guys breaks out. Unless we get more clarity from the Bears, I am likely not using any as a Captain or MVP due to the volatility of the scenario – but I certainly think all 4 are in play for Flex spots especially if you are multi entering. This is just my gut talking here but if we see the Bears make Pierce inactive I think we will see a lot of Lamar Miller tonight. Again – just my gut.
My Captain/Flex Picks
I’ll be honest, I am not high on rostering Kurt Cousins in the Captain Spot tonight. My reasons are pretty simple. Regarding Cousins, the Bears have a top 4 Passing defense with a couple dominant players in the secondary including Kyle Fuller. So with low passing volume already, I am concerned he gets there without multiple touchdown passes. He also offers next to nothing from a rushing standpoint. On the other hand I do have some interests in Nick Foles. First there is the situation with the backfield being up in the air, there is a chance that the Bears go more pass heavy vs run heavy. Second the Vikings Defense, while getting a little better as the season has gone on, has been very generous to passing offenses allowing nearly 300 yards per game through the air and with more weapons now at his disposal, I could see Foles paying off in Captain. Both quarterbacks do project to be two of the highest owned players on the slate though behind Dalvin Cook …
So let’s talk Dalvin Cook. What a monster. Two straight weeks of 40 Plus Fantasy Points. Last time he was on the field he went for 246 total yards and 2 touchdowns. The week before, 246 Total yards and 4 touchdowns. Unbelievable. Cook is averaging 20+ touches per game and is projected to be the highest owned player on the slate by a wide margin. Interestingly however is the Bears Defense which is ranked 7th against the run. I don’t know if we can discount that too much seeing as they have played against some stiff competition recently most notably Derrick Henry and Alvin Kamara. However Cook’s overall involvement in this offense makes me want to lean more on the big guy and the offensive line here. At nearly 70% ownership, the play makes sense – but just to be safe, I will have some lineups tonight where I fade him. Not to pop the air out of the balloon but do I see a 40 or 50 fantasy point game out of Cook tonight, I don’t. But a 20 or 30 point game could certainly happen and I think you will want to have a piece. But maybe not as Captain if you are playing the ownership game. It is looking even higher as potentially 80% of lineups will have Cook in Captain/MVP. Use that info as you may…
On the Bears side, the highest owned player is easy to pick out – Allen Robinson. No surprise right? Robinson is questionable but expected to play and for all intensive purposes this is a great matchup for Robinson. He is the unquestioned Target Leader on the Bears team and he is getting to play a team that is 3rd worst in the league against Wide Receivers. How do you not like Robinson Tonight. Honestly the only pump the breaks here is – Nick Foles. Can he be the Nick Foles the Bears need tonight, we shall see. For what it’s worth Vegas favors the Vikings by 3. Either way, Robinson will have a big role tonight and I think he is an interesting pick at Captain over Cook or either Quarterback. You won’t be alone in rostering him there, but I think he has the highest chance to hit a ceiling fantasy score tonight out of anyone on the slate.
My Contrarian picks at Captain may not seem as Contrarian to you but based on how Ownership is shaking out, I like the Vikings Wide Receivers – primarily Justin Jefferson. I don’t think the Vikings will find immediate success on the ground against this Bears defense and I could see a path where Cousins will be forced to throw. While of course Adam Thielen is the #1 Target, I also see a path where the Bears secondary keys in on that and forces Cousins outside to Jefferson. The Bears have been lost a few times on the long balls this season and this is where Jefferson excels. So I am looking at him rather simply as my preferred Captain over Thielen. This isn’t say Thielen isn’t a solid choice as well, I just like Jefferson a smidge better. For what it’s worth neither guy is seeing crazy ownership I suspect due to the matchup and how run heavy the Vikings have gone the last two weeks. So they are good pivots to look at away from the QBs or Cook at Captain/MVP.
If you want to really go Contrarian I think looking at the Tight Ends may be a path to an interesting lineup. No one likes to put Jimmy Graham in at Captain but I think it’s not a bad path. He is seeing around 20% ownership but I would suggest that is mainly as a Flex Play and stacked with Foles. But Foles looks for Graham often especially on third down and in the redzone so I think he viable. On the other side with Irv Smith sidelined, Kyle Rudolph should see a few extra targets and – right place right time Rudolph has seen his share of Red Zone targets too. I prefer Graham to Rudolph only because of the defensive matchup but I think having a tight end in the Captain Spot makes for an intriguing leverage play against the field.
Lastly I don’t mind taking a shot on Anthony Miller in Captain. We saw the advantage of a secondary receiver in the Captains spot last night and if due to the injury concern, Robinson is limited in any way – Miller will likely be a beneficiary. Over the last two weeks he has seen a spike in targets: 11 in Week 8, 8 in Week 9. That is up from the average 3 he was seeing per game over the rest of the season. So there is reason to believe he is on the rise in the offense and really he can’t find a better defense to show what he can do than against the Giants.
Flex, Flex, Flex it up!
First – keep an eye and ear on anything you hear from the Bears regarding the running backs. If nothing changes I think all 4 are viable and it is entirely possible the Bears use a mix of Patterson, Pierce and Miller for early down work and Nall for 3rd down and special plays. Or it could just be the Ryan Nall show but the only thing that makes me take pause on that is his lack of rushing attempts once Montgomery went down. If you are multi-entering but if you are playing cash or single entry or three entry type tournaments I may limit my exposure to Nall and Patterson. However, something is just sticking in my craw about the Lamar Miller call up. I’m just saying at $200 on DK it just feels like one of those times no one plays the cheapest RB on the slate and he breaks it …that’s just me talking though. If you are multi-entering and unless you hear otherwise, I’d have a couple shots.
Speaking of running backs, with Dalvin Cook seeing such high ownership I think if you are multi-entering it is a smart play to have a share or two of Alexander Mattison. I would not roster Cook and Mattison together but a couple reasons for Mattison – first if (God Forbid) anything happens to Cook and Mattison sees the volume in relief – well you just passed 70% of your competition in tournaments. Also Mattison has been getting snaps in relief of Cook due to the volume and if the Vikings go up by a couple scores, I could see Cook getting a rest and Mattison seeing more action late in the game. He isn’t a cheap play to the extent of Pierce or Miller but he is seeing under 10% ownership and is an interesting pivot on lineups that don’t contain Cook.
With Irv Smith for the Vikings tonight out you could see some targets go Bisi Johnson technically the #3 Receiver and coming in at extremely low ownership. Johnson also has a nice price, comparable to Pattersons and could be an interesting pivot there. I think there also is a chance Chad Beebe and/or KJ Osborn see some snaps tonight. If Cousins needs to drop back and is looking for an outlet you could see either of these guys get a target. However both of these guys have been handling return duties and a very, very sneaky play is to stack them with the Vikings DST (the ST is for special teams remember) as should a return occur, you can see the benefits. Especially if one or the other even catches 2 balls. Both are the bare minimum salary and projected for under 5% ownership.
On the Bears side, I think if he plays, Tight End Cole Kmet should be in your player pool. He has seen targets from Foles recently and we know Foles likes to look for his tight ends in the Red Zone. If Kmet is out, I don’t mind taking a shot on Demetrius Harris or JP Holtz if you are multi-entering but if Kmet is in I wouldn’t go much further than that. I think the most exciting player to talk about though is Darnell Mooney who has emerged as that X receiver that the Bears desperately need and we have seen Foles not only target him down the field but also nearly hit the target. It certainly stands to reason that tonight’s matchup against the Vikings defense may be the best opportunity these two have seen to connect on a deep ball and I will have plenty of Mooney in my lineups in case that happens. Lastly I don’t mind taking a dart throw at Riley Ripley who did see 2 targets last time out from Foles. Who knows, something could be developing there.
I think taking a couple shots with the Chicago Defense makes sense tonight. The Bears have been solid sources for Sacks, Fumbles and even a couple interceptions and while I think the Vikings do score points, you never know. If you are stacking the Chicago Defense I might suggest an overload type lineup with Foles a pass catcher a tight end and Kicker Cairo Santos. Since this is a showdown I don’t hate either Kicker in your lineups tonight either so I should mention Dan Bailey too.
There is a lot of ways you can go tonight as you have value you can exploit with the Chicago Backfield so I wish you a lot of luck in your builds!
Good Luck in your Contests!