Week Eight NFL DFS AutoMattek Absolutes
Times have changed in DFS. When I first started writing the AutoMattek Absolutes six years ago, cash games were all anyone wanted to talk about. A majority of players considered themselves cash game grinders and tournaments were secondary to the 50/50’s, head to heads and double-ups.
That is no longer the case. Tournaments are the primary source of discussion and interest for both the casual and serious DFS players. As such, the content has to evolve with time. Throughout the 2019 NFL season, the AutoMattek Absolutes will be a hybrid GPP strategy/individual plays highlight column to help you get prepared for the Sunday main slate of tournaments.
The Running Back Desert
We have been spoiled with options at running back this season but there will be difficult choices to be made in large-field tournaments this week. The Drew Brees/Alvin Kamara/Michael Thomas triumvirate is going to be popular both on their and separately. It will not be surprising at all to see Kamara and Thomas as two of the five highest owned players of the entire slate. So do you chase that chalk and not care about the pOwn? I think you probably do. I will not make any effort to limit Kamara in my runs other than the total ownership constraint in the optimizer.
Where things get interesting are with Chris Carson. He has been a strict workhorse back for each of the last three weeks, even with Rashaad Penny back in the lineup. He has tallied more 25+ touch games than anyone other than CMC and Leonard Fournette. He is also the highest projected owned running back of the slate and the highest projected owned player overall. If Carson was a WR, I would make a rule in the to limit Carson to only game stacks but he is such a good play that I am going to let him and Kamara flow.
Then, you have the question of Leonard Fournette and Christian McCaffrey. CMC has been the best player in fantasy and is averaging over six fantasy points per game over every other running back. He also faces San Francisco which has been the best defense by DVOA throughout the season. Should you look at a single-digit ownership projection on CMC and feel glee? We have a slightly positive value projection on McCaffrey, even at his elevated price tag in the worst possible matchup. The answer has to be yes. There are not many occasions to roster players with 40 point ceilings at single-digit percentages.
Two running backs who I normally hate are Sony Michel and Devonta Freeman. Michel, for the first time in his career, is being used as both a pass-catcher and a goalline back with Rex Burkhead out. The team did just trade for Mohamed Sanu and is using Ben Watson as a real tight end and not just a blocker so things could change over the next few weeks but as of right now, Michel is priced at $5,200 despite being a legit three-down back (in terms of plays/formation usage, not total snaps).
Freeman is another guy who I legitimately hate but we have to acknowledge is a fantastic play this week. Ito Smith has already been declared inactive, Mohamed Sanu vacates 42 of the teams’ 282 targets and the Falcons will be in a pass-heavy game script as they trail yet again. Freeman has three, three, five and nine targets in the last four games for the Falcons and with Ito out of the lineup, there is a chance that he will regain some of the goalline work that once made him the top running back in fantasy.
Side Arm Stafford SZN
The New York Football Giants,,,,,they are bad. They have allowed over 400 total yards in four of their six games played and Arizona probably could have racked up 500 total yards against them if they had any reason to try but Daniel Jones was too busy fumbling over his own feet to force them to score points. Matt Stafford, on the other hand, is playing the best football of his career. His eight yards per attempt is the best season of his career and he is top five in the NFL in deep throws (passes that travel 20+ yards past the line of scrimmage.
The fact that Kerryon Johnson is now on the IR makes the Lions project a little more pass-heavy as well. Ty Johnson is a late-round draft pick who was not always a starter at the University of Maryland and J.D McKissic was a waiver wire pick up from the Seattle Seahawks. It would not surprise me, even in a handy win, for the Lions to have a 60/40 pass to run split.
My guess is that Johnson and McKissic are not going to be popular adds with Stafford but they both have passing game chops. McKissic has 59 career targets to 65 career rushes and is cheap enough to be in a GPP winning lineup with only one touchdown. Johnson is a bit more expensive but also has been a functional pass-catcher thus far and is a more explosive athlete.
I might not include bring-backs with my Stafford lineups this week as I think there are enough purely great values as “stack fillers” at the wide receiver position but there is no denying that the Giants have usable options, including one of the only playable tight ends of the week.
Barkley probably won’t make my player pool this week as he is too expensive and there are too many other plays that rate as better values in the optimizer but he does correlate with Stafford in the sense that they are both better in this spot if the game stays competitive.
Ways To Get Weird With Wideouts
The ownership projections for Michael Thomas and DeAndre Hopkins are just absurd. Both are clearly the best plays of the week at wide receiver as Hopkins should earn a larger target share with Will Fuller on the sideline and Michael Thomas will be getting Drew Brees back as he heads to play the woeful Arizona Cardinals defense. However, one of the things we know about WR production is that it has a much larger range of outcomes than running backs because their total number of interactions is lower. Therefore, it does make sense to try and find other high ceiling players at the position that will not be owned at a high clip.
Julian Edelman has been one of the few constants in the Patriots offense. He has seen 12, 15 and 9 targets in his last three games and is still a key part of New England’s offense even when they are winning games handily. On a full PPR site like DraftKings, where touchdowns matter a little less and catches matter more, he should almost never be single-digit owned in GPP’s.
Robert Woods has a single-digit ownership projection and if that holds, I just do not see any way that I can not play him. Historically, he has been one of the best and most consistent targets in the Rams offense and has the most targets of any player without a receiving touchdown in the NFL (though he does have a rushing touchdown). The Rams have the highest team total of the week and their pass catchers should be involved in your GPP lineups both as stacks and one-offs.
Allen Robinson has an ownership projection of under 5% but has seen at least seven targets in every game this year and is coming off of a 17 target game. Yes, his quarterback is horrible but he has a 27% target share of the Bears offense and is second in the NFL in WOPR. If you buy the argument that opportunity is all that matters, you need to have Robinson in your GPP mix.
Finally, Mike Evans and Chris Godwin will both be players that I try to get double the field on. Evans is second in the NFL in total Air Yards coming off of his bye week and Godwin has been one of the most efficient per-target wide receivers in the NFL. The crowd is likely to be off of Godwin and Evans because this game against the Titans is a “meh” game but they are two of the highest ceiling players of the entire slate.