Week Three 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.
KEY: Lamar Jackson
I’m just kidding! Lamar is, of course, the best play of the week and the most stackable (Brown, Andrews, bring it back with DeMarcus Robinson and Sammy Watkins, boom an insta-stack). We have more pressing matters to attend to.
KEY: Jameis Winston
Jameis has not had his best-ever start to a fantasy football season but finds himself with one of the best team totals of the week and is playing against a defense that got absolutely scorched by Josh Allen and Dak Prescott. Dak had a perfect passer rating against the abysmal Giants defense and Josh Allen averaged 9.1 adjusted yards per attempt. In the least sophisticated way possible: the Giants suck.
Jameis is below his career baseline in both yards per attempt and adjusted yards per attempt. I am not suggesting that he will somehow turn into an MVP candidate overnight but we have a four-year sample of him playing better than he has through the first two games of the season.
Perhaps the biggest reason to play Winston this week is not his individual projection but the projections and ownership of all his primary wide receivers. Chris Godwin is at his highest price in his short NFL career, Mike Evans is priced below him and might come in at 1% owned and O.J Howard is $3,800 on DraftKings after coming off of a bagel on Thursday night against Carolina.
By creating a rule where you have AT LEAST two of Godwin/Evans/Howard, you are guaranteeing a lineup with a high ceiling and access to one of the highest team totals of the week and also ensuring a unique lineup construction.
With Daniel Jones starting at quarterback for the Giants on the other side of this game, there is more logic in trying to create a traditional game stack. I am not interested in using Jones in any lineups but there is certainly logic in creating a double-key for Jameis wherein you use at least one of Evan Engram, SaQuon Barkley or Sterling Shepard (if active).
Minimum 1: Christian McCaffrey, Dalvin Cook, Austin Ekeler
If you have been building GPP lineups using optimizers for a long time, you know that the biggest issue you will have when creating over 100 teams is “clumping”. The Daily Roto optimizer has a ton of tools to deal with this issue, wherein the best plays are all lumped together and then the descending lineups all feature worse and worse plays without balancing themselves out with good plays.
Last week, my rule was a minimum of one JuJu/Watkins/Amari. That ended up being a good rule only in theory because Smith-Schuster and Watkins were disappointments relative to their projections. After evaluating the wide receiver pool this week, I think it makes more sense to create this rule at running back than wide receivers. There seem to be a plethora of good/playable wide receivers and unique game stacks whereas the RB pool is a bit smaller.
When the value is concentrated at running back, I don’t personally believe there is a ton of value in being contrarian. CMC, Dalvin Cook and Austin Ekeler are to me, the very clear best plays at RB. You could add Ezekiel Elliot to this rule if you wanted but I am a little less interested in playing him than I am these three. In early runs, I was still getting a reasonable amount of Elliot even with this rule in place.
Even without Cam Newton at quarterback, we expect CMC to come close to leading all players in touches and snaps and against an Arizona team that has faced more plays than any other through two weeks, McCaffrey can even deliver value without a touchdown.
Cook has a perfect game script for what Minnesota wants to do, which is run the ball until there isn’t any air left in it. Cook has 41 rushing attempts through two games and as a massive home favorite, we can project him for around 20 carries yet again.
Finally, Ekeler is the best running back play on the board. He is playing around 75% of the Los Angeles Chargers total snaps, he has 13 targets through two games, is their leading touchdown scorer and often the first option at the goal line. He is everything you could ever want out of a running back play and he is the cheapest of these three players.
Don’t Be Afraid: Mike Evans, Juju Smith-Schuster, D.J Moore
If I could ever empart any wisdom to you on how to build tournament lineups for NFL DFS, it would be to not allow fear to be any part of your decision making. Evans, Smith-Schuster and Moore are all clear cut WR1’s on their team (maybe some debate between Evans or Godwin but I am firmly #TeamEvans).
Smith-Schuster has seen eight targets in each Steelers game (and had over half of his production with Mason Rudolph in at QB in Week 2). San Francisco gave up a big week to John Ross last week despite the overwhelming victory. That sort of Ross-ian statline could be Smith-Schuster’s this week and he is coming in at what might be his lowest price of the year at $6,900. I understand that there are many out there who think that JJSS might not end up having the mammoth target share we assumed at the beginning of the year but if that is the still belief you hold (like I do), then you should pretty strongly consider him as a play here despite the low team total.
Moore is in a very similar situation to Smith-Schuster, with an even better matchup. Arizona has given up WR1 days to Danny Amendola and Marquise Brown while also laying down for Greg Olsen and T.J Hockenson. Even if Cam Newton is not able to play for the Panthers on Sunday, Moore will still be in my player pool. He has 24 targets through two games and is the clear top option in their passing game. Kyle Allen might be horrible but I am unsure how much worse he could be than Cam Newton has been for the last two games.
Finally, Mike Evans. He has 13 targets through two games and actually leads the Buccaneers in Air Yards. It doesn’t make that much sense to me that he and Godwin flip-flopped in price except for the fact that Godwin has been the one who was able to score touchdowns and Evans hasn’t yet. Given our five-year sample of Evans scoring a touchdown for roughly 18.25 targets, we would assume that his number is going to be called sooner rather than later. He will be a core play for me in tournaments on DraftKings in Week 3.
Of course, the only choices you make aren’t going to be which games you stack. KC-Baltimore, Indy-Atlanta, and Houston-Los Angeles Chargers are three of my favorites but you cannot just play every single guy from those games. These three wide receivers are all guys who are going to be in my GPP pool at an overweight percentage to help fill out stacks.
This Arizona offense is almost everything I imagined, except for the touchdowns. Kirk is averaging over 100 Air Yards per game, has 20 targets through two games and looks like he is going to be the primary wide receiver for the fast-paced Cardinals spread offense. Larry Fitzgerald is a viable one-off as well. The Cardinals just run so many plays that Fitz/Kirk’s chances of getting there on a full PPR site are too good to ignore. Before playing guys like Kirk and Fitzgerald in cash or single-entry, we needed to see a baseline of competency from Kyler and the coaching staff. Now that we have seen that, we can trust the projected volume and deploy as needed.
No Achilles, no problem. Sanders now has seven and 13 (!!!) targets through two games including the tough game last week against Chicago. Denver is such a bad team overall that they are going to be forced to throw more than they want, even at home. This game against Green Bay brings the pretty heavy potential for the Broncos to be trailing as they are currently massive eight-point dogs. If their run-pass ratio from last week carries over, Sanders will be one of the best values of the week.
The fact that Devin Smith ended up on the Cowboys at all is a bit of a minor miracle in and of itself. Smith flamed out with the New York Jets and hasn’t played in the NFL since 2016 (which means he missed two entire seasons). Now, he is the starting wide receiver opposite Amari Cooper for the Dallas Cowboys. Smith was one of those weird Ohio State prospects who caught a touchdown every 3 receptions but never topped 1,000 yards and was tremendously fast at the combine. The organization seems to be ready to trust him to replace Michael Gallup in the short term and I am ready to do the same. In single entry/three max, I am a little more comfortable with Randall (especially because he will in the slot) but Smith is unquestionably the deep threat and space creator for this offense now.