NFL DFS Week 4 Picks
Week 4 was a bloodbath for the majority of survivor pools, with Josh Allen doing his best Michael Vick impersonation and running roughshod on the hapless Vikings. I, too, was a victim of incorrectly picking the Vikings to beat the Bills in my survivor pool. What a fool I am. Never again will I believe in the powers of Captain Kirk for as long as his ship remains tattered by faulty wires and missing panels! That’s an analogy comparing Cousins’ offensive line to a dilapidated spaceship, in case that went over your head. Survivor pool rant over.
With another NFL week in the books, the DFS landscape was an interesting one with some low priced WRs making bank for those who decided to take a stab on them. Tyler Boyd, Jakeem Grant, and the Week 3 darling of the week Calvin Ridley were some of the best bang for your buck in salary relief. It’s a reminder that on any cheaply priced player can go off at any given week, so be sure to do your research and exploit the best matchups! Screw the data! Ok, don’t do that. Try to hedge your no data taeks with some semblance of logical and sensible explanations. Let the DailyRoto optimizer guide you on your spiritual journey to find the answers to the world’s questions that have plagued mankind for centuries.
Do I play Julio Jones or Michael Thomas?
Pick one of the 2v2 – Kamara/Alfred Morris or Gurley/Clement?
Why is Antonio Brown not projected for 200 points?
Yes, all very important and valid questions to ask incessantly. Now let us begin our deep dive into Week 4 that is littered with vital and sometimes obscure injuries that can have varying impact on the main slate. As always, I will try reading the tea leaves and post pertinent information that the masses should know about. Sure, sometimes it’s irrelevant and mostly about DOLPHINS TO THE SUPER BOWL BABY!!!! THE ROAD TO THE SUPER BOWL GOES THROUGH FLORIDA! Ahem. A fly got caught in my throat.
With the Giants already ruling out both CB Eli Apple and DE Olivier Vernon, the matchup continues to look like gold for Drew Brees. Not only does Brees pop as the best value play on the opto, he’s also projected for the most points among QBs. That’s a rare combination that only comes a few times a season. Brees currently sits at an astounding 80.6% completion rate, a 122.2 passer rating (third best), and a sparkling 8 TDs to 0 INTs passing line. The man has been a machine and gets a woeful Giants defense that just let Deshaun Watson get back to his rookie numbers with two touchdowns and 385 passing yards. Woof. That should alleviate any worries of a bottom five pace Giants offense sucking up the clock and not allowing Brees to pepper them with tight spirals for touchdowns. As long as Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas are full-go for the Saints, Brees will continue to operate at an elite pace. Don’t miss out!
While I do like Deshaun Watson‘s matchup and ceiling, I do worry about the Colts being able to keep up with how lousy their dink-and-dunk offense has been despite gunning at a high pace with an elevated no-huddle rate at home. I will deviate from the opto and go with Philip Rivers as my next top QB play of the week. He’ll get the decimated 49ers secondary that won’t have Richard Sherman alongside several key starters, including not one but two starting safeties. Rivers has just been as good as Brees, ranking fifth best in passer rating and 69.4 completion percentage. Nice. While there may be some valid concern about Keenan Allen‘s knee, returning back to practice was a good sign for both Allen and Rivers. As long as the 49ers continue to pump out offensive plays (third most given up) and the Chargers pass at an elevated pace, Rivers will always be in play every week. This just so happens to be one of his best matchups on the season. Sure helps that he’s found his TD machine in Mike Williams. Remember that Malcom Floyd guy? Yeah, good times.
Ah, the moneymaker position for the past couple weeks. The optimizer has thus far spit out tremendous value plays in consecutive weeks, with Matt Ryan and Watson smashing last week. Let’s see what the roulette wheel stops on. Clickety-clack! Clack! Clickety-clunk! The number is…..Matt Ryan again?!? As much as I do enjoy having the opto do my job regarding values, I’m gonna have to mix it up this time around. Let’s look at the opposing QB that will battle Ryan for the best value of the week, the inglorious Red Rifle Andy Dalton! He gets a down-trodden Atlanta defense that continues to nurse their injuries with both starting safeties out for the season. They’ve given up the seventh most plays per game, rank third worst overall DVOA, and are giving an absurd 15 targets to opposing running backs. That last part is a good thing for Dalton as that means checking it down is actually a viable strategy against the Falcons. That should bolster his floor a little bit, and the return of A.J. Green from his groin injury increases his ceiling as well. It’s a matter of when, not if, for a Dalton explosion in a high pass volume game between two of the more pass-oriented offenses in the NFL. Heck, you could just run both QBs in that game as your best values and feel okay about it. FULL GAME STACK!
Sad to say it, but Russell Wilson has dropped out of the elite fantasy QB conversation with how discombobulated the Seahawks offense has been. However, I think they will get right back on track against their divisional rival this week. Pete Carroll seems to have finally shaken off the cobwebs in his head and decided to give the team’s best running back ample touches. The rise of Chris Carson is an imperative one for Wilson, as the Cardinals rank a dreadful third worst graded run defense and give up the fourth most offensive plays per game. That gives Wilson a much-needed matchup where he doesn’t have to orchestrate the entire offense by himself, allowing the Seahawks to run an actual gameplan that allows Wilson to take advantage of play-action passes. The return of Doug Baldwin is also a boon to Wilson’s fantasy potential. Even the Cardinals’ decision to start Josh “Chosen” Rosen should help lessen the painfully ninth slowest pace the Cardinals’ offense had navigated with. A quicker Cardinals offense means less time off the clock and more plays for Wilson to crush at his now bottom-basement price. Jam him in before he climbs beyond the value line!
Alvin Kamara completely blows everyone out of the water from an optimizer point of view, ranking as the best value play with the most projected points. That sure sounds familiar….oh yeah! His partner in crime, Drew Brees, also falls in the same category! While Kamara clearly is heads and shoulder above everyone else, I don’t think it’s a week where you simply lock him in due to limited options. I especially like Saquon Barkley on the other side of the matchup, with both Evan Engram and Cody Latimer out for the game. That pushes Barkley as the likely #2 offensive weapon for old Eli Manning to endlessly target. Remember that 14 catch day he had against the Cowboys? Make that the norm. Not only does Barkley own the second most market share of the team’s targets (24.77%!!), he’s also handling 40% of the team’s red zone touches. Both are huge numbers that should balloon even more against the Saints if the game starts to delve into an old-fashioned shootout as the Saints are prone to. A dead last Saints pass defense that’s getting annihilated by opposing RBs through the air (second worst rated coverage) just smells like a McCaffrey-like line for Barkley. BARK BARK BARK!
Oof. Not a great week for value RB plays. Breida is expected back for the 49ers, so there goes Fat Alfred Morris. Bernard prices as a RB1 is fair, but not necessarily great for salary relief. Some may be off Kenyan Drake after his poor performance against the Raiders, but that was more-so about Raiders keying on Miami’s run game than Drake struggling overall. If you’re struggling to find a solid mid-level RB play, maybe take a gander at Tevin Coleman in a favorable game-script. Coleman was a bit of a dud last week despite a high-scoring affair, but he did amass 17 touches in the process. He should fare better against a middling Bengals run defense that’s coming off their worst performance after Colin McCaffrey ran for 184 yards on them. That’s downright depressing. The Bengals are also giving up the MOST offensive snaps per game. Yum! If the Falcons can manage to sprinkle in more targets for Coleman in the passing attack – and they should against a poor LB coverage unit, then Coleman may end up being the best mid-value play on the slate.
Bear with me here. We all know about the vaunted Lions running game right? The one where they finally got a 100 yard rusher for the first time since ’13? Yeah, that one. Still, it’s worth noting that Kerryon Johnson has continued to pile up on the touches over the past month, churning out an impressive 5.6 yards per carry and getting involved in the passing game with 12 targets for 10/52. Those numbers have steadily increased as the rookie gets more playing time, and now he’ll face a Sean Lee-less Cowboys run defense that seems to always implode whenever their defensive captain is gone. Last season, the Cowboys run defense gave up less than four yards per carry with Sean Lee in. That number ballooned up to nearly five yards a carry (4.71 to be exact) when Lee was sidelined for six games. It’s a trend that has stuck with the Cowboys defense since Lee has become injury prone over the years, which is why I highlight Kerryon here. Always attack that defense whenever Lee is out! The numbers don’t lie!
Once more, the opto has declared the third Saints player as the best value on the board with the most….blah, blah, blah. You get the point. Jam in all the Saints. Anyway, ignoring the Saints nonsense, there are some good WR choices for big games that also contain a safe floor. Odell, Evans, and even Green just to name a few. However, I have my eye on DeAndre Hopkins as the pivot to all of the aforementioned WRs. He’ll likely see lower ownership in comparison and has an under the radar matchup. The Colts have so far boasted a surprisingly adept defense, ranking 12th best overall DVOA despite some injuries. A big part of that has been the spirited play of their front seven, grading favorably against the run behind the play of rookie sensation Darius Leonard. Their pass coverage has not matched their run defense, with Leonard leading the league in catches and yards allowed in his coverage. The other hole in their leaky pass coverage has been the poor play of Nate Hairston, as the transition from playing at nickelback to boundary has not been seamless. He’s now been targeted 18 times through three games, allowing 13 catches for 149 yards and a TD. QBs have had an average of 115.3 passer rating on attempts headed his way. Good news for Nuk, and to a lesser extent Will Fuller. I expect the Texans to exploit that matchup with both WRs, but I think Hopkins has the better pedigree to abuse that coverage matchup with Indy playing back on Fuller’s routes. I mean, the guy is commanding 31% of the team’s targets! Dunk on ’em, Nuk!
This is going to be a tough week to really lock in your favorite cheap plays at WR. For now, the only lock for me is Geronimo Allison on the heels of Randall Cobb‘s injury in practice leaving him unlikely to suit up. Things can always change on Sunday, but as of right now I have Cobb out which pushes Allison as a top value WR play for me. He’ll get a Bills pass defense that’s surrendering yards at an alarming rate to anybody that isn’t in Tre White’s way. Case in point – Adam Thielen hauled in 14 of 19 targets for 105 yards while poor Stefon Diggs suffered with a 4/17 line on 10 targets while being shadowed by Tre White. There’s more bad news. Philip Gaines looks to be back into the lineup, but is that an improvement? His season as a Chief in ’17 didn’t fare too well, surrendering 27 catches for 420 yards and 2 TDs on 45 targets with a 105 passer rating. That’s through nine games. Not good. Point blank, opposing receivers have ate up the Bills secondary and often get matched up on out-matched linebackers. Lock.
Let’s discuss our options outside of Allison. I think Mike Williams merits some play with Keenan’s injury possibly either flaring up or causing the Chargers to rest him in a potential blowout. The guy has been on fire in the red zone, converting his three RZ targets into two touchdowns. He’s now owning the third highest MS of the team’s targets, and that number likely goes up to second most soon enough. Very favorable matchup.
Another WR to target for more salary relief that might get overlooked is Taylor Gabriel, who pops a little in the projections. He’s been quietly amassing targets over the past two weeks with 17 total targets in that span. Sure, he’s only coverted 10 of those for a measly 64 yards and no touchdowns, but the volume is there for a salary relief that can allow a fully optimized Saints stack. The Bucs have not been able to stop anyone from passing all over them and continue to be ravaged by secondary injuries. Trubisky simply has to play better than he has, and a 27th DVOA Bucs pass defense just might be what the doctor ordered for a slump-buster. Someone’s gotta have a good game, right? Right? Bueller?
Let’s double down on the terrible Cardinals team! I mentioned Wilson as a potential sleeper against a dreadful Cardinals defense, but what about the offensive side? With rookie Josh Rosen taking over the reins, that could mean a substantial workload for his favorite preseason WR in Christian Kirk. Rosen targeted Kirk three times during his short stint last week when Bradford got benched in the 4th quarter. Kirk also had his best game in preseason with Rosen, so the chemistry might be a budding one. Seattle’s secondary has been largely mediocre outside of a Shaq Griffin smash game against Tebowisky. The matchup I’m highlighting for an explosive Kirk day is against woeful CB Tre Flowers, with an unsightly 11/182/1 on 18 targets stat-line. That is the best matchup to exploit for the Rosen/Kirk connection if they ever want to get out of the hell Bradford got them in. The Kirk pick may end up looking better if Larry continues to be hampered by his hammy injury and ends up playing fewer snaps. Preseason chemistry for the win!
I am an avid and faithful Dolphins fan. I try to keep my opinion unbiased regarding attacking their defense with particular players. This is not going to happen this week. Gronk is going to get shut down. Minkah Island. Howard Island. Reshad Island. Kiko Island. It doesn’t matter. Do. Not. Play. GRONK! Seriously though, with Reshad Jones back in action, that allows Miami to freely play their normal defensive scheme that puts Minkah in a better position to be a playmaker. This typically means less Kiko on TEs, more rotation and bracket coverage from Miami’s safeties. There. Happy now?
My top TE play of the week, ignoring the 800 pound Gronk in the room, will be Jimmy Graham. I refuse to not play TEs against the Bills. They have been unable to cover any warm body at TE thus far, resembling the ’17 Giants in their coverage. Asking their rookie LB Tremaine Edmunds to be their primary defender against opposing TEs has resulted in disaster. Edmunds has now surrendered 23 catches for 242 yards and a TD on 27 targets, the majority of those coming against TEs. Graham dunked on Edmunds’ older brother in preseason, so he’s gotta go ahead and dunk on the whole family now. Family dunk narrative street, baby!
Honestly, TE is such a wasteland these days that picking whoever the opto prefers as value plays is probably your best bet. This week it’s Eric Ebron once more, ready to disappoint his adoring fans with red zone drops while keeping a wide grin on his face. Do you dare suffer yet another week of getting Ebron’d? No? Austin Hooper, maybe? Cincy has given up the most TDs to opposing tight ends. Good enough? Well, FINE! How about Jared Cook? The guy has the team’s second most red zone touches, highest MS of targets, and actually has the best yards per route run (2.71) among the team’s receivers. Cook also plays against the Browns. Works for me.
After last week’s disappointment and getting overshadowed by Cameron Brate, many probably will have forgotten about O.J. Howard at this point. Up until the MNF game, Howard was actually one of the best TEs in the NFL as far as overall grade and production on a per snap basis. Despite Brate eating into Howard’s snaps, that hasn’t deterred Howard from compiling a solid floor of at least 40 offensive snaps per game. He’s turned those snaps into a respectable 11/222/1 stat-line on 14 targets. He even laps the field in yards per route run at a whopping 3.31! It’s a tough matchup against a stingy Bears defense behind a scorching Mack wailing against a putrid Bucs OL. Maybe FitzMagic will have to rely on some orange juice to heal his beaten and battered body on Sunday.