NFL DFS WEEK FOUR: THE RUNNING OF THE BILLS
Welcome to the fourth weekly edition of the Daily Fantasy Rundown with “leonem” and “dinkpiece”. Each week throughout the NFL season our weekly NFL analysis will highlight the best top, value and cheap plays of the week based on the Daily Fantasy Industry’s pricing for salary cap games. Our analysis will help you consistently build winning rosters over the long run.
*DVOA statistics courtesy of Football Outsiders
OUT – Alshon Jeffery (CHI), Tevin Coleman (ATL), Desean Jackson (WAS), Luke Kuechly (CAR), Sammy Watkins (BUF), Lesean McCoy (BUF), Charles Johnson (MIN), Dez Bryant (DAL), Joique Bell (DET)
DOUBTFUL – Vernon Davis (SF), Davante Adams (GB)
QUESTIONABLE – Eric Decker (NYJ), Jordan Cameron (MIA), Jay Cutler (CHI), Arian Foster (HOU), Andrew Luck (IND), Dwayne Allen (IND), DeMarco Murray (PHI), Doug Martin (TB), Ladarius Green (SD), Andre Ellington (ARZ), Marshawn Lynch (SEA)
PROBABLE – Chris Ivory (NYJ), Devonta Freeman (ATL), Allen Hurns (JAX). Jonathan Stewart (CAR), Tyrod Taylor (BUF), Dan Carpenter (BUF), Randall Cobb (GB), Eddie Lacy (GB), Reggie Bush (SF), John Brown (ARZ), Brandin Cooks (NO), Drew Brees (NO)
Devonta Freeman (ATL) – Tevin Coleman is officially ruled out which leaves Freeman with practically all the carries he can handle. A big home favorite in a plus matchup, Freeman is one of the strongest value plays at the RB position. We view Karlos Williams as the primary value followed by Devonta Freeman and Latavius Murray as our cash game value targets.
Martellus Bennett/Matt Forte (CHI) – With Alshon Jeffery OUT and Jay Cutler Questionable there is some hope around the Bears offense on Sunday. If Cutler plays, Bennett will become our primary value target at TE and in the conversation for top overall play at the position. If Cutler doesn’t play, Bennett has quarterback risk but the market share of the passing game should be quite large. Forte is still more of a tournament play for us, but his volume should be immense and with the price tag still down he’s a strong value.
Percy Harvin (BUF) – We’re primarily focused on Karlos Williams and Charles Clay as the beneficiaries of a condensed offense due to injuries, but Percy Harvin and to a lesser extent Robert Woods (BUF) should also benefit. They’re more secondary cash game targets than primary values in our mind.
Odell Beckham Jr. (NYG) – The matchup with Buffalo isn’t ideal and the Giants have an implied team total of just 20-21 points, but we think low ownership coupled with immense volume makes Beckham Jr. a strong tournament target. The Bills don’t move their best CB (Gilmore) to shadow coverage and he’ll likely see a lot of Rueben Randle which will funnel a monstrous number of targets to Beckham.
Colin Kaepernick (SF) – It’s easy to dismiss Kaepernick at first look. He’s been one of the worst quarterbacks in the league this year and the Packers have been pretty good against QBs. However, his upside is immense and his price tag is very cheap. We would never consider him in cash games but the QB position is one where points are typically bunched week-to-week so if you can identify a cheap option with upside to separate themselves with their legs, it’s worthy of consideration. Add in some incredible history against Dom Capers defenses and we think Kaepernick is a solid tournament quarterback at home. To a lesser extent, Anquan Boldin (SF) is also a viable tournament play with Vernon Davis doubtful. He’s not someone we’re actively targeting, but if he fits as a last piece, he’s OK.
Mark Ingram (NO)/Eddie Lacy (GB)/Jeremy Hill (CIN) – These are our three favorite tournament running backs this week. All three are on teams that are strong favorites and facing weaker opposing defenses. We believe Lacy has the highest upside and most consistent price tag around the industry. Ingram is overpriced on FanDuel but attractively priced for tournaments on DraftKings. Jeremy Hill is the opposite with a more appealing price point on FanDuel.
Thomas Rawls (SEA) – Marshawn Lynch is listed as Questionable which introduces Rawls as a potential tournament play. He’s not one of our primary targets as we think he’ll be a bit over-owned with the Lynch news and we’re concerned the split in snaps is more severe against a decent Lions run defense.
Melvin Gordon (SD) – Early in the week we were debating Gordon as a borderline cash game or a pure tournament play. The Chargers have half of their offensive line out or doubtful for this game. This makes Gordon a tournament only option in our eyes.
Other Situations to Monitor
Colts – Andrew Luck (IND) is listed as Questionable and that tag is going to bring his ownership WAY down in tournaments. We think he’s a very strong tournament target as head coach Chuck Pagano has indicated he’s expecting Luck to play. We’d only trust Donte Moncrief (IND) and T.Y. Hilton (IND) if Luck was able to go, so their value is directly tied to Luck. Frank Gore (IND) is sort of tied to Luck as well. We only want Gore in a high powered offense that can generate red zone scoring opportunities. He’s more of a secondary value that doesn’t possess monstrous upside, so he’s falling a bit in roster construction limbo; but if Luck is active he’ll hold his value.
PHI-WAS Weather – As of Saturday are forecast from Mark Paquette is as follows:
“Some light rain at times. Certainly not a wash out. Much of the game could turn out to be dry. Winds sustained at 10-20 mph with numerous gusts past 25 mph”
This is a dramatically improved forecast from some of our worst case scenarios early in the week. The wind is right on that cusp (15 mph sustained) of where wind can really start to deteriorate the passing game. Jordan Matthews (PHI) and Jordan Reed (WAS) tend to run shorter routes closer to the line of scrimmage so I think they’re less likely to be effected. The total on the game still hasn’t recovered (44 currently after opening at 48), so I’m a little more likely to attack this game in tournaments than cash games, but I think it’s OK to have a player in this game in cash games. Sam Bradford (PHI) is back on the radar in tournaments as long as weather is OK.
FanDuel Thursday Ownership notes:
DFSReport.com is doing a nice job with an article covering Thursday Ownership Rates. The link will take you to a pretty comprehensive list. Below are our thoughts:
QB – Really low rates on Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson who rate well in our projection model. We think Wilson is cash game viable so that ownership rate is one to target in tournaments, especially considering it’s five times less than Cam Newton. Sam Bradford and Colin Kaepernick are also getting completely ignored.
RB – Joseph Randle is an easy fade in tournaments. He’s a road underdog who reportedly lost some first team snaps to Christine Michael this week. The 19.4 percent ownership on Thursday shocked us. He’s not on our radar at all. Melvin Gordon, Eddie Lacy, and Jeremy Hill are all strong tournament options on FanDuel given the ownership levels.
WR – Rodgers-Cobb-Jones is going to be the most popular tournament stack on FanDuel this week given the ownership rates of all three. Odell Beckham, Marvin Jones, and Jordan Matthews all look like very strong tournament targets based on ownership here. We generally are in agreement with all the highly owned wide receivers here.
TE – Olsen’s ownership on Thursday night may be inflated due to the lack of clarity on Martellus Bennett (QB) and Jordan Reed (weather). We think it will be down a bit closer to 18-20 on Sunday, still very high and a worthwhile fade given the volatility in tournaments. Tyler Eifert and Travis Kelce really stand out as strong tournament targets based on these ownership levels.
D/ST – Philadelphia, San Diego, and Cincinnati are all solid tournament plays. Paying up for Seattle over Denver/Arizona looks like a good play as well.
Quarterbacks – The featured site for the quarterback position is Fantasy Aces
Top 5 Quarterbacks
1) Aaron Rodgers (GB)
2) Andrew Luck (IND)
3) Russell Wilson (SEA)
4) Cam Newton (CAR)
5) Carson Palmer (ARZ)
Aaron Rodgers (GB) – For the second week in a row, Aaron Rodgers and Andrew Luck rank really closely in our projections. Both teams have an implied team total over 28 points and both quarterbacks represent a rather high percentage of their team’s market share of touchdowns (Rodgers – 91 percent this season, 77 percent last season; Luck – 72 percent this season, 83 percent last season). Rodgers is the better player and the more reliable Fantasy asset. The matchups are similar for both. San Francisco and Jacksonville rank in the bottom five of Football Outsiders defensive DVOA rankings and they rank 29th and 25th respectively in Pro Football Focus’ pass coverage rankings. They’re priced similarly on many sites and without much price gap, we’d choose the safety of Rodgers’ recent play over Luck.