Hello everybody – I’m back after a week off. In this piece, I’ll be focusing primarily on Daily Fantasy (DFS) prices and strategy, giving a brief introduction for each position before diving into some specific players. In season-long, you’re focusing on one or two sit/starts that are pretty straightforward if you look at Sean Koerner’s weekly tiers, but in DFS, there are tons of iterations and decisions involved, with the landscape changing each week depending on pricing. Hopefully some of the DFS sleepers that I mention can also serve as waiver wire pickups for you in season-long, but if you’re unsure, please feel free to reach out on Twitter (@cschwartz18), as always.
Note that both sites are at least half-point PPR – Draftkings (DK) is full – and that injuries and other news can change our outlook dramatically. For example, if I say it looks smart to roster two stud RBs in DFS, but then it’s reported that C.J. Anderson is a healthy scratch in favor of Devontae Booker, you will want to consider Booker at a cheap price all of a sudden. This would allow you to spend more money at other positions. It’s such a dynamic process with tons of news coming all the way until kickoff, so check Twitter and only use this as a guide, not as gospel.
QB strategy depends on which site you’re using. Fanduel (FD) includes Sunday Night Football in its main slate, meaning Russell Wilson is my preferred option (more on that below). On DK, with Wilson out of the picture, it’s a bit cloudier, and cheaper options are more viable. Either way, you should know this about the QB position – below the top two or three guys, it’s a jumbled mix of passers with almost identical projections, and they can move up or down several spots based on things like line movement and weather. So be diligent, and, when in doubt, just go with the cheaper options within a tier.
High-End Play: Russell Wilson, SEA (vs. PHI)
Wilson is almost never a home underdog, but he is this week. It’s largely due to injuries to the Legion of Boom (Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor both are out for the season), which should make this a higher-scoring affair. Wilson will have to produce in order to keep his team in the game, and he may have to do a bit more catch-up than usual. That’s a very scary (good) proposition in fantasy football. On FD, he’s in a virtual tie for the top-projected QB with Tom Brady, but he’s $1k cheaper.
High-End Play: Cam Newton, CAR (@ NO)
Newton finally looks healthier and has been running more. After just six rush attempts per game over his first five games, he’s averaged nine over his last six. This gives him a much higher floor and ceiling, especially in a game where he’ll have to put up points and maybe come from behind. Newton’s inconsistency makes him tough to roster in cash, but he’s my favorite expensive GPP QB behind Wilson this week.
Sleeper: Brett Hundley, GB (vs. TB)
I guess it’s tough to call Hundley a sleeper after a nice game on national TV last week, but he’s a solid cheap option, especially on FD where he’s cheaper. He’s basically priced like Deshone Kizer, but you should expect him to produce more like Matt Stafford against a bad Tampa pass defense. I like him, especially when paired in a stack with Davante Adams, with whom he’s shown good chemistry.
Sleeper: Blaine Gabbert, ARI (vs. LAR)
This is mainly a DK play, as his risk is fully priced into his salary. He’s proven to be capable of producing, to the point where he’s probably better in fantasy right now than real life. He put up points against the elite Jacksonville pass defense last week, and he should have an easier time against the more pedestrian Rams D this week. He and Larry Fitzgerald together make a very cheap and valuable stack on DK.
Fade: Matt Stafford, DET (@ BAL)
Baltimore has allowed the second-fewest passing yards this year and an NFL-low 65.9 passer rating. Those numbers are exaggerated a bit by the pu pu platter of terrible backup-types that the Ravens have faced, but they’ve still allowed just 7.4 fantasy points per game to decent QBs Andy Dalton, Ben Roethlisberger, Case Keenum and Marcus Mariota. Perhaps it’s fair to exclude Dalton’s Week 1 disaster, but they still allowed just 10.9 points on average to the other three guys. They’re certainly a defense to avoid if you have other options. In season-long, you should still start Stafford if he’s your only decent QB, but in DFS, you have plenty of alternatives. Priced like a QB1, he’s a fade for me.
You almost always want at least one elite stud RB in your DFS cash team, and this week is no exception. Below I’ll tell you my favorite of the studs. Beyond that, you may not be able to afford a second star (or on DK a third), so I’ll help you out with a few sleepers. This, as always, is the most volatile position and the one that swings the most on injury news, so stay alert.
High-End Play: Todd Gurley, LAR (@ ARI)
Arizona has a decent defense, which may impact Gurley’s efficiency a bit, but he should still get tons of volume (as always) in a game the Rams are favored to win. Also, projected team totals are low across the league this week (perhaps due to the number of bad QBs), and the Rams’ projected 26 points is on the high side. It’s not usual that Gurley’s Rams project as one of the highest-scoring teams of the week, and this week he’s one of the best bets to find the end zone.
Sleeper: Kenyan Drake, MIA (vs. DEN)
Drake has flashed some decent ability this season, averaging 4.8 yards per carry and catching 15 of his 20 targets. This week, he’s Miami’s workhorse RB by default (due to injuries), and we project him for an RB1-like 17 carries. Even if he averages, say, 3.5 yards per carry against a good (but banged up) Denver run D, he’ll still have produced enough to warrant a RB2 ranking. He’s a solid cash value on volume alone this week.
Sleeper: Alex Collins, BAL (vs. DET)
Detroit grades out as one of our top 10 run Ds to target in fantasy, as they showed last week against Latavius Murray and Minnesota. The return of Danny Woodhead hasn’t stopped Collins’ ascent to RB2 status, as he still touched the ball 18 times last week. Volume, matchup and a cheap price all combine to make Collins a great value in DFS this week.
Sleeper: Jacquizz Rodgers, TB (@ GB)
This is a straightforward punt play at the RB spot. Doug Martin may sit with a concussion, and Rodgers racked up 18+ touches in two of the three games Martin missed to start the season. Maybe he’ll get 60 yards and find the end zone, while being cheap enough to allow you to roster an extra stud.
Fade: Leonard Fournette, JAX (vs. IND)
For the second straight week, I’m listing Fournette as a fade, largely due to his price tag. He’s still priced – up there with Gurley – as a top-three RB option, when he’s probably a step below. His floor is low, as it’s possible he could cede touches to Chris Ivory or T.J. Yeldon if Jacksonville builds a huge lead. Plus, Indianapolis is sneaky decent against the run, allowing just 4.0 yards per carry. I’ll pass again.
Fade: Latavius Murray, MIN (@ ATL)
He’s a point-chasey play this week, but I see him more as a TD regression candidate. Strip away his TD-per-game over the last five weeks, and you’re left with a career 4.0-yards-per-carry guy who isn’t involved at all in the passing game. He’ll eventually stop scoring 1-yard TDs at Shaun Alexander’s pace, and if that happens against Atlanta, with Minnesota potentially needing to pass more, his floor will be quite low. I don’t mind fading him too early instead of too late.
There’s nobody I really dislike value-wise at WR. On FD, I like the value of some of the cheaper guys a bit more, which allows you to roster Wilson there at QB. On DK, with Wilson unavailable on the main slate, you may want to go cheaper at QB, which would allow you to roster an extra WR1 type. If you are comfortable rolling with guys like Drake and/or Collins at RB, then this is definitely an option for you. If you want stud RBs galore (and I prefer Gurley and Alvin Kamara of the bunch), I’ll also point out some sleepers.
High-End Play: Michael Thomas, NO (vs. CAR)
From last week: “At some point, a guy who had nine TDs last year and just two this year will see some positive regression. Until then, I’ll keep mentioning him in these articles.” So, yeah, I’ll keep mentioning him. He has an established high floor and some upside due to TD regression potential. The lack of TDs has served to lower his price, and he’s now one of the best values among WR1. He could burn a Carolina secondary that got lit up by Robbie Anderson and the Jets last week.
High-End Play: Mike Evans, TB (@ GB)
This one’s about pricing inefficiency, as it was announced midweek that Jameis Winston will most likely start once again. He’s still priced like the WR2 who caught passes from Ryan Fitzpatrick and not the elite WR1 who will catch passes from Winston. The matchup is also nice against a burnable Green Bay secondary that we rate as a top-five matchup for opposing wideouts.
Sleeper: Seth Roberts, OAK (vs. NYG)
Roberts should be high-owned, as he has a lot going for him. He’s now his team’s No.1 WR by default, with Amari Cooper injured and Michael Crabtree suspended. The Giants’ No. 1 CB (Janoris Jenkins) was placed on IR. His QB is very capable of producing statistically, unlike seemingly half the QBs starting this week. He’s also very cheap and a virtual must-play in cash on both sites. I like him in GPPs too where he may not be owned as highly as he should be, either because “he’s bad” or because more people roster Jared Cook.
Sleeper: Zay Jones, BUF (vs. NE)
Here’s a season-long recommendation – if you are in a deep and/or keeper league, consider picking up Zay Jones. He’s put up three straight decent games, averaging eight targets over that time with two TDs. If Buffalo falls behind against the Pats, they may very well look to get their high second-round pick even more involved. If so, he won’t be on your waiver wire any longer. In DFS, he makes for a decent GPP punt play.
Fade: Keenan Allen, LAC (vs. CLE)
Okay, he’s not a total fade, and if you put out multiple GPP lineups, you may want him in one of them. I just want to point out that, after several weeks being priced like Cooper Kupp and Emmanuel Sanders, his breakout last week finally pushed his pricing up to WR1 status. Unfortunately, it reversed a bit too much, as he’s now priced like a top 2 or 3 WR. He’s not quite there, and his floor is lower than usual in a game where LA may not have to throw as often as usual.
Fade: T.Y Hilton, IND (@ JAX) and Kenny Stills, MIA (vs. DEN)
I just want to quickly mention a couple guys I’m avoiding. Hilton is on the road against the best secondary in football, so you should pass on him in DFS and consider benching him in season-long. Stills has shown much better chemistry with Matt Moore than with Jay Cutler, and Cutler is back, so Stills is a drop candidate in season-long before a matchup against Denver.
Given the Raiders’ situation – and the “Giants can’t cover TEs” narrative – Jared Cook will be chalk this week. I don’t mind the play, but I’ll also recommend some others; rostering a unique TE who could go off, next to Seth Roberts who could steal Cook targets, gives you a chance to create separation in GPPs.
High-End: Travis Kelce, KC (@ NYJ)
Kelce is still a stud, and he’s shown an ability to bounce back after duds this season. It’s now or never time for Andy Reid, and surely he knows he has to get his Pro Bowlers more involved in order to right the sinking ship. If he emphasizes getting the ball to Kelce, Kelce could – and should – have a monster PPR game. It’s a worthwhile bet and good time to essentially buy low.
Sleeper: Austin Seferian-Jenkins, NYJ (vs. KC)
The other TE in the Jets/Chiefs matchup is also a good value, particularly on DK. His QB looks for him in the Red Zone, and he came close to snapping a three-game TD drought last week (his TD was nullified by a flag). He’s a borderline TE1 in the same tier as Evan Engram, Kyle Rudolph and Jack Doyle this week, but he’s much cheaper than them on DK. That’s not a bad punt play.
Fade: Evan Engram, NYG (@ OAK)
You may have noticed that I just referred to Engram as a “borderline TE1.” It’s sad but true, as a result of Eli Manning’s benching. Manning was good for about 220 yards per game, but we project Geno Smith to barely crack 200. The Giants offense as a whole should stall and therefore see fewer red zone attempts. Throw in the likely return of Sterling Shepard, and Engram now owns less market share of a less valuable passing offense. He’s only a contrarian GPP option now, as he’s still priced like Manning is his QB.