FantasyDraft: NFL DFS WEEK 4 – KISS Approach
We had a very solid Week 3, by reaching the FantasyDraft Pay Out Zone four times with three of the four GPP lineups cashing. Unfortunately, the one lineup the narrowly bubbled out was the one from this column which finished with 174.32 points in 6,212th place of the 30,000 in the FantasyDraft Hooters $750 K Main Event. The top 6,000 got paid. While overall it performed well, there was a clear mistake we made in that lineup that will be discussed in the RB/Flex section and is corrected for this week.
Our DFS Fantasy Foreplay podcast lineup for the second time in three weeks finished at about the top-five percent of the Hooters Main Event with a score of 199.52 and won $90. This weeks show should appear at the top of the article by Saturday morning.
As news broke on Sunday morning that Patriots RB James White was unexpectantly inactive to attend the birth of a child, I built a third lineup with NE RB Rex Burkhead ($7,000 for Week 3) as a value play and used DAL QB Dak Prescott and few of the alternative players from this column. That lineup scored 208.84 points and was entered into the $4 Wishbone where it finished 466th of 18,000 for a $16 win, and the $10 Single Entry Scatback tournament where it finished 14th of 600 for a $70 win.
I also played the $25 Sun-Mon Prime Time slate at the last minute when it was apparent that Week 3 was already going to be profitable. That tied for 10th of 80 places for a $67.31 win. I’m not taking too much credit for that one, because I pretty much just used the FantasyPros optimized GPP lineup.
For the Main Slate, it’s not surprising that the later lineup was made, the higher it scored. Just one piece of news can create value for an individual player like it did with Burkhead providing an advantage and dramatically change the overall complexion of any lineup build.
Although this is being written on Thursday, we are still very confident in this week’s lineup because it exploits what we have learned through the first three weeks with clear patterns that have emerged. The Cardinals defense is horrendous against TEs and opposing QBs rack up fantasy points. The Chiefs continue to allow opposing RBs to have big days while otherwise trouncing their opponents.
And the Dolphins defense should be exploited in every way imaginable!!
With this knowledge, we are taking a Keep It Simple Stupid (K.I.S.S) approach to Week 4. This lineup build exploits the Cardinals. Chiefs, and Dolphins weaknesses and fills in the blanks with a few other quality plays.
The lineup in this article and the DFS Fantasy Foreplay podcast will again be entered into the FantasyDraft $700 K Hooters Main Event (100K to 1st). This week the cost has risen from $25 to $28, but the entrants have been lowered from 30,000 to 25,00. The lowest payout is $60 starting at 5,000th place.
QB (Salary on FantasyDraft)
SEA QB Russell Wilson ($11,400) completed 32-of-50 pass attempts for 406 yards and two TDs against the Saints. Oh yeah, he also had seven runs for 51 yards and two more TDs on the ground. He led all QBs with 44.24 FantasyDraft points. While it may seem we are chasing points with Wilson, one only has to look at the matchup to see a potential for a repeat performance. The Cardinals have allowed opposing QBs to average 30.11 FD points against them: DET QB Matthew Stafford ($11,200, 31.60), QB BAL Lamar Jackson ($12,900, 33.38), and QB CAR Kyle Allen ($10,700, 25.34). While another 40 point performance may be expecting too much, Willson scoring over 30 points and approaching 3X performance is within reasonable expectations.
KC QB Patrick Mahomes ($14,400) is playing against the Lions in a dome for the first time ever. That’s correct, Mahomes threw 50 TDs last year without ever playing in a dome which tends to boost QBs performances. If you want to pay up for him, no one will blame you.
LAC Philip Rivers (12,800) is playing against the Dolphins. That all you need to know.
DAL QB Dak Prescott ($12,100) has the third-highest FantasyDraft average this season at 29.53 points per game, just 2.73 points less than Mahomes (32.26) and faces the Saints in New Orleans on Sunday Night. Expect more fireworks from Prescott.
WRs (Salary on FantasyDraft)
LAC WR Keenan Allen ($15,700) leads all WRs in fantasy production with a 31.23 FantasyDraft points per game average. That’s 6.07 points more, or a full TD a game than, ATL WR Julio Jones ($14,600, 25.16). Allen’s average production is better than any RB including MIN RB Dalvin Cook ($15,600, 29.13). Only KC QB Patrick Mahomes ($14,400, 32.26) has a slightly better average. Allen is nearly averaging 10 catches a game with 29 (8,8,13) on the season for 404 yards and three TDs. Allen faces the Dolphins who have allowed a second-worst seven receiving TDs.
“The Dolphins are a sieve to slot receivers and I’m not sure if anyone is going to be able to stop Allen this week,” wrote Mike Woellert wrote in his weekly WR vs. CB matchup column at 4for4. “The Jomal Wiltz experiment didn’t go so well, so it’s Chris Lammons’s turn. Lammons has been a target for opposing QBs on 26.3% of their passes. Allen has received nearly 58% of the receiver targets and has a 23.1% target per snap rate.”
SEA WR Tyler Lockett ($12,000) had a career-high 10 catches in Week 2 and then rose the bar with 11 last Sunday. Lockett has had 26 targets over the last two weeks as the Seahawks slot WR. He faces CB Tramine Brock Sr. who has allowed 20.86 yards per reception. Based on Lockett’s recent workload, it’s easy math to project Lockett for a huge day.
ATL WR DeAndre Hopkins ($14,500) could be this week’s version of what we saw from TB WR Mike Evans last Sunday. Evans erupted on to the 2019 fantasy scene with a 48 point performance against the Giants after only scoring a combined 14.9 points (4.8, 10.1) in the first two games. Evans was in Woellert’s column for Week 3. This week Woellert is on Hopkins as a high-end WR. Because DFS is the ultimate what have you done lately game, Hopkins may not be on too many players radars after scoring a combined 21.7 (9.0, 12.7) points in the last two games.
“If I’m going up in salary for a receiver, I’m looking at Hopkins’s matchup against Donte Jackson,” wrote Woellert. “Even with Will Fuller in tow, Hopkins is still getting 45% of the receiver targets from Deshaun Watson. Donte Jackson has struggled in coverage on this young season, allowing 1.95 fantasy points per target and two scores. Hopkins should be able to take advantage of Jackson’s coverage with his 12.4 average depth of target (aDOT).”
WAS WR Terry McLaurin ($8,800) provides a solid floor and great upside at a discount and a fantastic if you want to get third stud RB in your lineup. McLaurin has 16 receptions for 257 yards and had scored one TD in each game for a total of three.
“I like the way this game is lining up for F1, Terry McLaurin,” wrote Woellert. “McLaurin has the speed advantage over Baker with his 4.3 speed and is producing a 15.3 aDOT. He’s going to find the sledding much easier this week compared to Chicago. Baker is allowing a 73% catch rate and 2.67 fantasy points per target.”
Update: There are reports that McLaurin injured his hamstring in practice on Thursday and is not practicing Friday. Check his status before playing.
Update 2: McLaurin is officially listed as questionable for Sunday. It appears it will likely be a game-time decision.
LAC Mike Williams ($10,300) makes the list due to observation from watching Chargers games. Williams has had a number of near misses in or near the end zone in recent weeks. Williams faces CB Xavien Howard who has allowed a 66.7% catch rate. There is good chance Williams exploits that and get his first TD or two on the season.
Update: Eric Williams of ESPN tweeted Mike Williams, not at practice on Friday.
Update 2: Mike Williams has been ruled out. Chargers TE Virgil Green and RB Justin Jackson have also been ruled out. This looks like WR Keenan Allen and RB Austin Ekeler are in for a ton of targets!! If you want to take a HUGE risk with a player who may actually go off at literally no ownership in many tournaments, look at WR Geremy Davis ($6,000, min. salary). Davis has no career catches, but that should change this Sunday because he is listed as the backup to Williams on the depth chart.
SEA WR DK Metcalf ($9,400) provides an alternative stack with Wilson at a cheaper price that allows for a pay up elsewhere. Metcalf is not likely to see the volume that Lockett has been getting, but he can certainly score from far out.
“Metcalf has been a big-play receiver in the Seahawk offense—he’s averaging 24.1 yards per reception,” wrote Woellert. “He should be running most of his routes on (CB Chris) Jones, who is also allowing 24 yards per catch and 2.2 fantasy points per target. This Arizona secondary is getting beat up bad and it wouldn’t shock me to see Metcalf go for a long TD this week. The Cardinals defense is porous.”
TE (Salary on FantasyDraft)
SEA TE Will Dissly ($6,800) has 11 receptions for 112 yards and three TDs in the last two game. The Cardinals have allowed TEs to catch 23 of 30 targets for 348 and five TDs. The receiving yards allowed is 68 more than the second-worst Buccaneers’ defense. The TDs allowed are two more than any other defense.
“Death, taxes, and fantasy points to tight ends against the Cardinals,” wrote Mike Tagliere in his weekly column The Primer at FantasyPros which breaks down every fantasy-relevant player. “Those are the three things we’re guaranteed in this life. Here’s the finishes for tight ends against them: T.J. Hockenson TE2, Mark Andrews TE1, and Greg Olsen TE2. Those are three of the top-five performances by tight ends all season, and it doesn’t even include one of the tight ends drafted in the top eight rounds of fantasy drafts. Seriously, everything they do versus tight ends is bad. 76.7 percent completion-rate (9th-highest), 11.60 yards per target (most in NFL), and a touchdown every 6.0 targets (most in NFL). All that amounts to a ridiculous 2.93 PPR points per target. That means it’d essentially take three targets to finish as a top-12 tight end against them.
Meanwhile, Dissly has done some damage of his own, hauling in 12-of-14 passes for 124 yards and three touchdowns. After seeing just two targets in Week 1, he moved up to five targets in Week 2, then seven targets in Week 3. Knowing how vulnerable the Cardinals are to tight ends, that number should remain high, and Dissly should be started as a TE1 this week.”
NYG TE Evan Engram ($12,300) caught six of eight passes for 113 yards and TD as he scored 26.3 FD points against the Buccaneers. In Week 1, Engram scored 31.6 points against the Cowboys when he caught 11 passes for 116 yards and a TD. Engram’s only mediocre performance came in Week 2 against the Bills (10.8) who are very good at defending TEs. Engram has emerged as one of the best fantasy TEs because of his heavy usage in the offense. He could easily have another 10 plus catch performance against the Redskins, especially with the Giants missing RB Saquan Barkley (ankle, out).
“The Redskins have only faced 20 attempts to the tight end position but allowed 17 of them to be caught for a very-high 85.0 percent completion-rate, the second-highest mark in football,” wrote Tagliere.
If Engram gets targeted 15 times and catches 85% of those Targets, he is good for 12-13 catches. That’s a huge base in FantasyDraft the rewards one point per reception.
What precludes us from playing Engram is his price jumped from $9,500 to $12,300 this week. At nearly half the price, Dissly could get close to Engram in production. However, you may want to consider playing both. In my lineup that scored 208.84 points, I used Engram (26.3) as the TE and CAR TE Greg Olsen ($7,00 in Week 2, 25.5) in the Flex for a total of 51.8 points. The duo cost a combined $16,500 and returned a 3.13X performance.
RBs/Flex (Salary on FantasyDraft)
DAL RB Ezekiel Elliott ($16,100) had a solid performance against the Dolphins with 19 carries for 125 yards and he caught two passes for 14 yards. The 18.90 FD points Ezekiel earned seemed blase considering there was so much potential for much more. Elliott’s backup, RB Tony Pollard ($9,900) tacked on another 103 yards and a TD on 13 carries. He also caught three passes for 25 yards. With the TD, Pollard outperformed Elliott from a fantasy perspective scoring 24.80 points. Last week, it wasn’t needed for Elliott to do the vast majority of the heavy lifting for the Cowboys to win as they were favored by over 20 points. This week, the Cowboys are only favored by 2.5 points. It far more likely the burden of whether or not the Cowboys win or lose will fall more on Elliott. The other consideration is this is the Sunday Night game and Elliott may be motivated by the prime time cameras.
LAC RB Austin Ekeler ($15,100) had a bit of a down week against the Texans with only nine carries for 36 yards and seven receptions for 45 yards for a total of 15.10 FD points. He still has a 26.26 average on the season and draws the Dolphins this week who have allowed a 5.30 yards per carry and 8.15 per target to RBs, both the third-most. While there is some concern that Ekeler could see his performance limited like Elliott did last week, there is something in play that may increase Ekeler’s role and limit that of RB Justin Jackson ($8,900). Teammate RB Melvin Gordan III ($14,500, out) ended his holdout and reported to the Chargers on Thursday. Gordan will not play this Sunday but likely will quickly resume the lead-back role for the Chargers. Ekeler has done everything the team has asked him in Gordan’s absence. There is a good chance he is rewarded by getting a healthy opportunity to pad his stats against the Dolphins.
Update: Eric Williams of ESPN reports Justin Jackson has a walking boot on.
Update 2: Justin Jackson has been ruled out. Chargers TE Virgil Green and WR Mike Williams have also been ruled out. This looks like WR Keenan Allen and RB Austin Ekeler are in for a ton of targets!!
DET RB Kerryon Johnson ($9,900) price should be higher based on his increased workload and matchup. Johnson is finally emerging as a lead-back for the Lions. Last week, Johnson handled 80% of the RB carries on a career-high 20 carries and was in the game a season-high of 77% of all Lions offensive plays, according to a Tweet by Adam Levitan, Co-founder of Establish the Run. If Johnson continues to see that type of workload against the Chiefs, he should have a great game.
“The Chiefs have allowed a league-worst 6.20 yards per carry,” wrote Tagliere. “Teams haven’t had much of an opportunity to run much against them considering how quickly the Chiefs offense throws points on the board. Still, it says something that they’ve allowed 268 yards on the ground over the last two weeks. Johnson still leads this team in targets, too, making him game script-proof. Any time you have a running back locked into 18-plus touches against the Chiefs, he’s a must-start. There were 10 running backs who hit that mark against the Chiefs last year and nine of them finished as top-24 options, including five top-12 options. The only one who didn’t hit at least 16.0 PPR points was Doug Martin. It’s safe to say Johnson should be considered a borderline RB1 this week.”
MIA RB Kenyon Drake ($7,900) does not have a touchdown and has not done a whole lot to excite fantasy players. His price, however, makes it very easy for him to achieve value. Because his price is so low there is also the potential for 3X or more return. While Drake has only averaged exactly a 1X value at 7.9 points per game, a closer look at his stats and matchup reveal the potential for a higher return. His total touches have increased each week (6,11,15). If Drake were to see a similar increase this week, he would be around 20 touches. With the increased workload, Drake has averaged 9.5 FD points a game for the last two weeks (9.8, 9.2). While meager, that’s a 1.20X return.
Where there is real potential with Drake is as a pass-catcher. Over the last two games, Drake has averaged four catches a game (5,3) for 33 yards. That in itself nearly provides 1X value. Meanwhile, his carries have seen a steady increase in every game this season (4,6,12). Drake faces the Chargers who are in the bottom third against RBs. This game will be played in Miami, which means the Chargers defense has a long flight and three-time zones to adjust to. The Bolts have allowed 289 rushing yards for two TDs and 10 receptions for 79 yards and another TD for an average of 21.6 FD points per game against RBs. If Drake touches the ball 15 to 20 times, there is high likelihood he reaches a 2X performance and 3X is within reason.
Drake is this week’s version of KC Darwin Thompson ($6,000 in Week 3) who we used last week in the Flex. I over projected the opportunity that Thompson may get with the KC RB Damien Williams (knee) missing the game and RB LeSean McCoy (ankle) missing practices. Drake only had three carries for eight yards and earned a pathetic 0.8 points. With that, our lineup still missed the Pay Out Zone by about a point. This week with Drake, we are paying a little more for a player that has known solid workload that is on the rise. It’s highly unlikely Drake will be held to under a point.
CAR RB Christian McCaffrey ($17,700) rebounded off of Week 2 with a typical McCaffrey performance of scoring 30.80 fantasy points. The offense in Carolina runs through McCaffrey. There was a significant debate between members of DFS Fantasy Foreplay about using McCaffrey over Elliott. I only choose Elliott because I didn’t want to pivot off of Lockett or Allen at WR. There is a very good chance McCaffrey is our podcast lineup.
MIN RB Dalvin Cook ($15,600) has rushed for over 100 yards in all three games (11,154,110) and has scored at least one rushing TD (2,1,1). His 29.13 FD average (29.0, 31.1, 27,3) is the highest among all RBs. The only thing that makes us hesitate in paying up for Cook is he has perceived tough matchup against the Bears. The general rule of thumb in DFS is you play the matchup. However, RBs frequently overcome tough matchups and his ownership will likely be lower because of it. If you are playing multiple lineups, it may be wise to have a share of Cook.
JAX RB Leonard Fournette ($10,900) has averaged 20 (19,21) total touches over the last two weeks, but the production has not been there, yet. On 43 carries (14.33 average), Fournette has only rushed for 179 yards (59.66 average). He also has 14 catches (4.67 average) for another 86 yards (28.67 average). Fournette has not reached the endzone this year as either a rusher or a pass-catcher.
Why play him?
Even if Fournette has another average boring day, it’s very easy to project him at about 13.67 points for a smidge less than a 1.25X performance. A performance like that isn’t going to excite you, but it’s also not likely to prevent you from reaching the Pay Out Zone. The bonus with Fournette is he comes with a high upside. It would not be unreasonable for Fournette to have a game against the Broncos where he has 16 carries for 100 yards and caught five passes for 30 yards and in some fashion scores a TD. That performance would generate 27 points for an approximate 2.5x performance. The Broncos have allowed five rushing TDs, one more than any other defense.
LAC RB Justin Jackson ($8,900) is in the same role as DAL RB Pollard was last week. Jackson is capable of having a similar performance as Pollard and is a great Flex play.
Update: Eric Williams of ESPN reports Justin Jackson has a walking boot on. This looks like the Ekeler show!
Update 2: Justin Jackson has been ruled out.
Team Defense (Salary on FantasyDraft)
With each passing week, I’m becoming more of a proponent of removing Team Defense from DFS as many sites have done with kickers. There is too much randomness in defensive scoring. The random defensive scores create a huge luck factor and diminish the argument that the art of winning in DFS is based solely on knowledge and strategy. Last week, we and basically everyone else were either on the Patriots vs. Jets or Dallas vs. Miami defenses that both cost the highest at $7,100. We went with Pats and they performed well enough scoring 14 points in betting the Jets 30-14. Here is the crazy thing, the Jets ($3,800 for Week 3) who lost the game had the highest defensive score of the week on the Main Slate at 16 points because they had two defensive TDs.
If you played the Jets, you got lucky!
While the Patriots defense leads the league with a 20.33 average because they scored a whopping 37 points against the Dolphins in Week 2 and have to allow a TD scored on them, the majority of the rest of the other teams have an average between four and nine points. With that in mind, we will continue to choose defenses that have a perceived better matchup if we can afford them, but are not going to simply pay up for a matchup if it means sacrificing on an offensive player that we want.
This week we had enough FantasyDraft money left over after our build to play the Falcons defense ($5,100) against the Titans. Atlanta has the 10th highest projection this week on 4for4 at 6.5 points.
Put It All Together
If you are playing the FantasyDraft $700 K Hooters Main Event (100K to 1st) contest, please make at least one change from this lineup.
Dan McLellan Rankings
Last week I made a modest gain the rankings, I rose from 104th to 93rd overall. However, I am ranked 3rd overall for TEs. Hopefully, this week I can continue to rise.
Follow Dan on Twitter @sandiegosports.
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