FanDuel NFL Week 6: In-Depth Player Pool With Expert Analysis
My three-week FanDuel winning streak came to an end last week. I had some great performances by extremely low owned players but struggled to put together a complete lineup. The most glaring example was my Miami stack of QB Ryan Fitzpatrick (0.3% ownership, 27.6 points) and WR Preston Williams (0.2%, 18.6 points) combined for 46.3 points at the cost of $12,200. A near 4X stack at combined 0.5% ownership is a recipe for winning a GPP. Unfortunately, DAL WR Amari Cooper ($7,800, 3.1 points) and SF TE George Kittle ($7,100, 6.4 points) combined for 9.5 points. Who saw that coming? Chiefs RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire ($7,900, 9.5 points) and ATL WR Olamide Zaccheaus ($4,800, 1.8 points) also unperformed.
I did have two winning FanDuel lineups, but they were not the ones I was most confident in and played in the higher-priced single-entries. I was most confident in my Dallas stack of QB Dak Prescott and Cooper, which clearly did not materialize. My second most expensive entry was on the Fitzpatrick/Williams stack.
The FanDuel Main Slate for this week is dramatically different in that it is missing several high performing QBs. Josh Allen (BUF), Patrick Mahomes (KC), Kyler Murray (ARI), and Russell Wilson (SEA) are not on the slate.
Lamar Jackson (BAL, $9,000) is on the FanDuel Main Slate, but our fear that an ailing knee would limit his run game was realized last week when he only had two attempts for thee yards. At the time of writing, he no longer carries an injury designation, but I’m going to take a wait and see approach with him. Cam Newton (NE, $8,000) is the last upper-tier options, but he performed poorly against the Raiders when he last played in Week 4. The Patriots will be playing the Broncos, who are missing playmakers, so the game script may not be there for a shootout to force Newton’s number into the above 3X range.
Aaron Rodgers (GB, $8,400) and Deshaun Watson (HOU, $8,200) are high priced options but are not particularly good matchups. I will use them, but I don’t have the highest confidence in those lineup builds.
I’ve also decided to play four QBs less than 8K, who have had an excellent chance of a 3X performance this week.
I’ll continue to focus’ on WRs who see a high percentage of their team’s targets and are in very positive CB matchups.
Research, The Mikes
As regular readers of my column, you will not only see my research of stats but the analysis of some of the best experts in the industry (If you can’t beat them, join and credit them). Mike Tagliere of FantasyPros and Mike Woellert of 4for4 are quoted frequently.
Tagliere’s weekly column, The Primer, is the most compressive look at Fantasy Football. It’s typically about 20,000 words and had well thought out information on every fantasy-relevant (and not so relevant) player. Tagliere takes into account defensive injures, schemes, matchups, and historical numbers. I admire Tagliere’s work. This article is somewhat modeled after The Primer but reduced to only the players I’m using.
Woellert is an expert at WR vs CB matchups. He continually finds low owned undervalued players that have huge weeks. When spending up at W.R., it’s great to know they are in advantageous situations. As the season progresses, patterns emerge, and it becomes clear which C.B.s should be exploited. Our goal will be to play W.R.s covered by C.B.s, who average near or above 2.0 fantasy points per target.
While my articles give you free exposure to a sliver of the information, at FantasyPros and 4for4, I would recommend subscribing to help with your research.
Aaron Rodgers (GB, $8,400) is a high priced stud QB on the FanDuel Main Slate that I’m willing to pay up for. Rodgers has averaged 303.5 yards per game, 25.9 fantasy points a game, and has 13 total TDs. That’s why he projected to do well this week despite a relatively tough matchup against the Buccaneers, who have only allowed a fourth-best 14.70 fantasy points a game to QBs. “Despite getting his bye out of the way, Rodgers currently sits as the No. 6 quarterback in fantasy,” wrote Tagliere. “His “screw you for forgetting me” tour has taken the league by storm, racking up 13 touchdowns without a single interception. Despite losing his top-two receivers for a lot of time, he’s completed 70.5 percent of passes with 8.7 yards per attempt.
The Bucs are going to present a challenge, though. They’ve held 4-of-5 quarterbacks outside the top-20 quarterbacks for the week, with the lone exception being Justin Herbert, who continually beat them over the top while throwing for 290 yards on just 25 attempts. It’s worth noting that Rodgers has thrown the ball deep on a league-high 21.6 percent of his pass attempts. It’s also worth noting that the Bucs suffered a massive loss on their defensive line when they lost Vita Vea for the year. He’s been one of the best interior linemen in the NFL over the last three years and a big cog up the middle. It’ll affect their run defense, but it’ll affect their pass rush as well. They’d pressured the opposing quarterback 38.4 percent of the time (second-highest mark in the league) and sacked them on 8.67 percent of dropbacks (fifth-highest). Rodgers hasn’t been under pressure much through four games and has been sacked just three times. If the Bucs can find a way to pressure him, Rodgers has looked human when that happens, posting just a 68.8 QB Rating under pressure. But if the loss of Vea limits that pass rush, Rodgers will carve them up with his 141.1 QB Rating in a clean pocket. You can’t consider sitting him with the way he’s played, even in what’s been a relatively tough matchup for quarterbacks this year.”
Deshaun Watson (HOU, $8,200) appears to be heating up. His fantasy performance has increased for three straight weeks (Week 2 at 15.07, 18.06, 20.9, and 26.86). Watson has thrown for 300 or more yards in consecutive weeks. This week’s matchup against the Titans is relatively difficult as Tennessee has only allowed an average of 18.31 fantasy points a game to QBs. The Titans are playing on a very short week after a highly unusual Tuesday game. The Titans will be missing CB Kristian Fulton and DT Jeffrey Simmons due to COVID. The shortened week and depleted depth of the Titans may provide Watson an opportunity to continue his streak of good performances.
Ben Roethlisberger (PIT, $7.600) has had quality fantasy production in every game he has played this season, and he has done it against some opponents who have been good against the pass. Here are Roethlisberger’s numbers: 22.06 vs. NYG (9th ranked against the pass), 19.24 vs. DEN (7th), 19.18 vs. HOU (21st), and 21.36 vs. PHI (12th). This week the Steelers play the Browns, who have allowed the 8th most fantasy points a game to QBs at 20.87. Roethlisberger should again be in the high teens to low 20s range.
Ryan Fitzpatrick (MIA, $7,300) has been one of the most constant QBs this season after a rough Week 1 against a tough Patriots defense. Here are Fitzpatrick’s numbers since Week 1: 24.32 points vs. BUF (8th), 24.7 points vs. the JAC (22nd), 23.3 vs. SEA (31st), and 27.6 vs. SF (5th). This week Fitzpatrick faces the Jets that are right in the middle of the pack against QB at 19.76 fantasy points a game allowed. Fitzpatrick has an excellent shot at another 3X performance.
Matthew Stafford (DET, $7,300) is coming off his best fantasy performance of the season by scoring 23.34 against a good Saints pass defense. The yardage wasn’t terribly impressive as he completed just 16 of 31 passes for 206 yards, his lowest in both completed passes and yardage on the season. The points came with three passing TDs, and 21 yards rushing. Staford faces the Jaguars, who have allowed the eighth-most fantasy points a game to QB at 21.35, fifth-most passing yards at 1,421, fifth-most passing TDs at 11. “Three quarterbacks have thrown for 300-plus yards against them, including Philip Rivers,” wrote Tagliere. “No quarterback has averaged less than 7.9 yards per attempt, either. Stafford should present a solid top-15 floor but could present a top-five ceiling if the Jaguars can keep this game semi-competitive.”
Kirk Cousins (MIN, $7,100) will be a very popular value play at QB. Cousins faces the Falcons that have allowed a league-worst 30.14 fantasy points a game to QBs. That’s 5.86 points more than the Seahawks, who are the next worst. Cousins has only averaged 15.2 points a game and got basically that with 15.16 points against the Seahawks last week. It’s hard to project him at 3X despite the matchup. Nevertheless, the game has the second-highest over/under at 54.5 with Vikings favored by 4, and that gives them the highest projected score at 29.5. Vegas believes the Vikings are going to score some serious points, and if this happens, Cousins will likely have a much game than his recent performances.
Take a Side
Davante Adams (GB, $9,000) is back! Remember him? Adams caught 14 of 17 targets for 156 yards and two TDs against the Vikings in Week 1 to score 34.6 fantasy points. Adams then exited Week 2 with a hamstring and hasn’t played in a month. Adams should be covered by TB CB Carlton Davis, who has allowed a 59.3% catch rate and 1.58 fantasy points per target. Those are respectable numbers, but Adams has shown he is a force to be reckoned with no matter who covers him.
Calvin Ridley (ATL, $8,600) doesn’t have an off the chart CB matchup to exploit, but with his 25% target share of the Falcons offense, it’s good enough. Ridley should be covered by Vikings CB Mike Hughes, who has allowed a 58.3% catch rate and a high 1.86 fantasy points per target. “The Falcons have been a bit of a mess recently, but it’s nothing a visit from the Vikings—who are ranked 28th in aFPA to the WR position—can’t help,” wrote Woellert. “Even with a potential Julio Jones return, I like Ridley’s matchup against Mike Hughes this week. . . . Hughes has been dinged up this season and made his return in Week 5 after missing the previous two weeks. He’s given up a score and is yielding 1.86 fantasy points per target. I could see Ridley hitting the endzone at least once this week.”
Adam Thielen (MIN, $7,400) leads all WRs on the FanDuel Main Slate for team target share this season at 31.2%. Only DeAndre Hopkins has a higher share at 31.4%. Thielen has one of the best CB matchups on the slate. ATL CB A.J. Terrell has allowed an 88.9% catch rate and 2.87 fantasy points per target. “Terrell was activated off the COVID list and appeared in 64 snaps last week,” wrote Woellert. “Although he saw three targets, he allowed all three to be caught. He’s going to have trouble with the sure-handed Thielen this week. Terrell has allowed an 89% catch rate and is giving up 2.9 fantasy points per target. Although Justin Jefferson is emerging, Thielen has received 10 or more targets in consecutive weeks.”
Kenny Golladay (DET, $7,200) missed the first two games of the season with a hamstring injury. Since returning, he has faced two above-average pass defenses in the Cardinals and Saints and put up similar numbers scoring 14.7 and 14.2 fantasy points with a TD in both games. This week Golladay has a good matchup in Jaguars CB Chris Claybrooks. “Over the last two weeks, Claybrooks has been on the field for over 50 snaps,” wrote Woellert. “Opposing QBs are throwing his way a lot, as he’s been the target on nearly 13% of their throws. Although Danny Amendola leads the Lions in target, Golladay has a slightly higher target rate (15.2%). Claybrooks is allowing 72% of the balls thrown his way to be caught and is allowing 2.7 fantasy points per target. I like Golladay this week in a shootout and advantageous matchup.”
JuJu Smith-Schuster (PIT, $7,100) is the Steelers WR that I will use to stack with Roethlisberger. Smith-Schuster’s ownership will likely be lower than it should be with the performance of teammate WR Chase Claypool ($5,500), who scored 39.1 fantasy points last week on four TDs (three receiving, one rushing). A good chunk of fantasy players will chase Claypool’s lower price because of last week’s production. Claypool took advantage of an opportunity when WR Diontae Johnson left the game after taking a hit to the back. Claypool will get more playing time this week with Johnson out but should be covered by CLE CB Terrance Mitchell who has only allowed a 52.9% catch rate and 1.17 fantasy points per target. Smith-Schuster has the best CB matchup of the Steelers WRs. He should be covered by Browns CB Kevin Johnson, who has allowed a 100% catch rate and a relatively high 1.70 fantasy points per target.
Jamison Crowder (NYJ, $6,600) is a great option for an opposing WR in a Dolphins stack. Crowder should be covered by Dolphins CB Nick Needham, who has allowed a 60% catch rate and 1.70 points per target. “It’s hard to trust anyone on the Jets’ offense, but Crowder is hogging all of the targets, with 11 per game and a 20% target per snap rate,” wrote Woellert. “Nik Needham has moved back to the nickel corner and has been targeted 10 times and is allowing 19 yards per reception. Le’Veon Bell is gone, and Crowder looks to be one of a few offensive pieces which can move the ball.”
A.J. Brown (TEN, $6,500) injured his knee in Week 1 and didn’t play until Tuesday against a good Bills pass defense. It was a triumphant return as he hauled in seven of nine targets for 82 yards and a TD. Brown has a plus matchup this week against Texans CB Bradley Roby who has allowed a 60% catch rate and 1.90 fantasy points per target. Brown did miss practice on Thursday, so there is some concern. However, he also missed practice last Thursday before playing. If he plays, Brown has an excellent shot at repeating Tuesday’s performance.
DeVante Parker (MIA, $6,400) has the seventh-best CB matchup in terms of fantasy points allowed per target. Parker should be covered by Jets CB Pierre Desir, who has allowed a 78.3% catch rate and 2.71 points per target. Parker is coming off his lowest target share of the season at just 11.1%, but he had a tough CB matchup while teammate Preston Williams had the best CB matchup possible. Parker still has a season-long average of 19%, and the two weeks prior, he was targeted 25% and 26.7% of the time. Parker should return to that range this week and is one of Woellert’s top picks.
Justin Jefferson (MIN, $5,900) should certainly be considered an additional piece to a Vikings stack. Jefferson has the sixth-best CB matchup on the Main Slate in terms of fantasy points per target allowed. Jefferson should be covered by Falcons CB Isaiah Oliver, who has allowed a 63% catch rate and 2.51 fantasy points per target.
Laviska Shenault (JAX, $5,800) is a great option for an opposing WR to Matthew Stafford. Shenault has an excellent matchup with Lions CB Jeff Okudah, who has allowed a 75% catch rate and 2.11 fantasy points per target. “This game has a healthy 54.5 total with the Lions implied total at 29,” wrote Woellert. “If this game is a shootout, the receivers are going to be involved heavily. Shenault has received a steady diet of targets over the last three weeks, with nearly seven per game and a 13.5% target per snap rate. Coming off the bye, Desmond Trufant isn’t practicing due to hamstring. In Week 4, Trufant allowed a TD and 3.7 fantasy points per target. As of now, it appears Jeff Okudah will matchup opposite Shenault. Okudah has given up chunks of yards, 18.2 yards per reception.”
Brandin Cooks (HOU, $5,700) had become almost fantasy irrelevant with a slow start to the season. Until last week, he caught 8 of 12 targets for 161 yards a TD to score 26.1 fantasy points against the Jaguars. Cooks has an excellent opportunity to keep things going this week against the Titans. Cooks has the third-best CB matchup in terms of fantasy points allowed per target. Cooks should be covered by TEN CB Joseph Allen, who has allowed a 60% catch rate and 3.09 fantasy points per target. “Joseph has had the benefit of favorable matchups, but in Week 3, was abused by Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson, burned for 117 yards and two scores,” wrote Woellert. “Cooks has the big-play potential and speed to give Joseph fits this week.” I’ll have multiple shares of Cooks.
Darrius Shepherd (GB, $4,500) is my sneaky, albeit risky, play of the week. Shepard has the BEST POSSIBLE CB matchup on the Main Slate in terms of fantasy points allowed per target. Shepherd should be covered by who TB CB Sean Murphy-Bunting has allowed an 83.3% catch rate and a whopping 3.29 fantasy points per target. Shepherd will not see a ton of targets with the return of Davante Adams, but with Adams back, Shepherd will likely be on an island against Murphy-Bunting. Shepherd caught two of three targets for 21 yards against the Falcons last week and was tackled just short of the goal line on his second reception. I’ll have one share of Shepherd stacked with Rodgers/Adams/Jones. Shepherd’s minimum price will allow me to round out the rest of the build with solid plays despite his teammates’ high price.
Mark Andrews (BAL, $7,500) and Jonnu Smith (TEN, $5,800) are tied with their offense’s highest target share at 25% of the TEs on the Main Slate. Only Raiders TE Darren Waller (28.1%) and Chiefs TE Travis Kelce (23.9%) have seen a greater share of their team’s targets. Andrews has a better matchup than Smith in facing the Eagles, which has allowed the fourth-most fantasy to point a game to TEs at 18.72. Smith faces the Texans, who are in the middle of the pack at 12 points a game allowed. Smith has outscored Andrews with a 15.27 fantasy points a game, while Andrews has a 12.24 average. Smith, at $1,700 cheaper, provides a great value option, and I will be playing an equal mix of the two.
RB Aaron Jones (GB, $8,500) has averaged an outstanding 23.6 fantasy points a game. Sure there is 40-Burger in there when he scored 43.6 points against the Lions in Week 2, but the lowest is 15.6 points, and he has done that twice. The matchup this Sunday against the Buccaneers is one of the more difficult ones he has had. Still, it may not be as tough as you imagine. “(The Bucs) allowed a criminally-low 1,118 yards on 385 carries (since the start of 2019), which amounts to 2.90 yards per carry,” according to Tagliere. “That is just stupid. However, there’s a light in this tunnel. The Bucs lost interior lineman Vita Vea for the season just last week, a 350-pound defensive tackle who’s PFF’s No. 2 interior lineman on the season. He’s one of the best run defenders in the game and will create a void up the middle of the field. Not only is that good news, but so is the fact that they’ve allowed the fourth-most receptions (38) and the fourth-most yards (286) to running backs through the air. The matchup has been brutal, but it’s less brutal, and Jones has overcome tough matchups over the last two years. Keep plugging him in as a high-end RB1 every week.”
Mike Davis (CAR $7,500) has stepped into Christian McCaffrey‘s shoes. He has performed at such a high level that over the course of a full season, it would project to being the second-highest fantasy scorer for RBs last season at 400.5 points, trailing only McCaffrey, according to Tagliere. The question remains is Davis matchup-proof like McCaffrey has shown to be? “The Bears have allowed just 0.78 PPR points per opportunity to running backs, which ranks as the ninth-lowest mark in the league,” wrote Tagliere. “They have allowed a rather-high 4.55 yards per carry on the ground, but that’s not really where Davis has made his mark. Through the air is where running backs have truly struggled against the Bears, averaging just 4.65 yards per target and 1.14 PPR points per target (third-lowest mark in the league). This is pretty consistent with Jim Irsay’s defense from last year, as they allowed the sixth-fewest points per target to running backs last year. Going back to the start of last year (21 games), they’ve allowed just two running backs to top 36 receiving yards. Still, Davis’ opportunity is through the roof, as he ranks behind only Alvin Kamara and Ezekiel Elliott in average opportunity this season.”
Alexander Mattison (MIN, $7,000) will probably be one of the more popular plays on Sunday. Mattison steps into the feature back role with Dalvin Cook (groin) likely not going to play. Mattison played well when he jumped into the role against the Seahawks last Sunday. He carried the ball 20 times for 112 yards and caught all three of his targets for another 24 to score 15.1 fantasy points. This Week Mattison faces the Falcons that have allowed an eighth-most 29.30 fantasy points per game. The Falcons have particularly struggled against the pass-catching RBs and have allowed a league-worst four receiving TDs to RBs. It makes sense to stack Mattison with QB Kirk Cousins.
Jonathan Taylor (IND, $7,300) is the third-highest projected RB on 4for4 at 18.5 points. I felt that was high based on Taylor’s production thus far and reached out to Woellert for his opinion, who is also an expert on individual defensive players. Woellert pointed out that although Vonn Bell is a good safety against the run, the Bengals LBs are generally poor tacklers, which could allow Taylor to break off a bid run. Tagliere also addressed Taylor and the Bengals run defense. “There’ve been five running backs who’ve hit at least 75 yards on the ground alone against them. The 5.26 yards per carry they’ve allowed is right in Taylor’s wheelhouse, as most of his production has come on the ground. Teams have also averaged a solid 25.0 carries per game against them, so the volume should be there in a game they’re favored by eight points. Taylor should be started as a low-end RB1 in this contest.” Taylor is $1,200 cheaper than Aaron Jones and $1,700 less than Derrick Henry with similar projections on 4for4.
Todd Gurley II (ATL, $6,800) carried the ball 14 times for 121 yards and a TD and caught four of five targets for 29 yards to score 23 fantasy points against a decent Panthers run defense last week. The third week in a row, Gurley saw his fantasy production increase: 14.7, 18.8, and 23. This week Gurley faces the Vikings in the middle of the back against the run with 25.28 fantasy points a game allowed to RBs. With Gurley seeing an increased workload, it’s reasonable for him to have a similar performance this week as he did last.
James Robinson (JAC, $6,800) might be a sneaky FanDuel play this week after coming off a very disappointing 7.8 fantasy performance against the Texans. Robinson had 13 carries for 48 yards and caught five of seven targets for 22 yards. That’s still 19 total touches. Robinson has had 17 to 21 touches in his other two games this season. It’s reasonable to expect the same workload this week against the Lions, who have allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to RBs at 32.58 per game. It should be a bounce-back week for Robinson.
David Montgomery ($5,900) has the best possible matchup in the Panthers, who have allowed a league-worst 36.02 fantasy points a game to RBs. “We’re only through five weeks of football, yet they’ve already allowed four different running backs to post top-three performances against them,” wrote Tagliere. “This is incredibly hard to do. Keep in mind that Leonard Fournette and Todd Gurley were two of those running backs, and they did it while combining for just 26 carries.” While Montgomery has only had 10 carries in each of the last two games, he has racked up 14 targets in the passing game. Based on the matchup, Montgomery should see at least 20 touches in this game, and that should put him on the road to a 3x performance.
Ronald Jones II ($5,800) may be an overlooked value play at RB. Jones touched the ball 29 and 22 times in the last two games, including nine catches of 14 targets. He didn’t score a TD, but his fantasy production was 15.8 and 14 points. That’s not bad considering his price point. If he had gotten a TD, he would be approaching 4X performance based on this week’s price. Jones faces a Packers defense that has allowed a second-most 35.55 fantasy points a game to RBs. The Packers have allowed seven (five rushing, two receiving) TDS to RBs in just four games. Despite one game less played than most, the Packers have also allowed the sixth-most receiving yards to RBs at 281 and tied for the ninth most receptions at 31. This is a strong indication that Jones is game script safe and may actually perform better if the Bucs are trailing.
Myles Gaskin (MIA, $5,700) provides an intriguing cheap FanDuel addition to a Miami stack. Gaskins saw 18.5% of Fitzgerald’s targets last week and a high of 25% in Week 3. Gaskins is coming off his best fantasy performance of the season with 16 carries for 57 yards and a TD and caught all five targets for 34 yards to score 17.6 fantasy points against the 49ers. This week Gaskin faces the Jets, who have allowed fourth-most 30.90 fantasy points a game to RBs, and are in the bottom third defending the pass against RBs.
FanDuel Lineup Build
There isn’t an exact science in what a winning FanDuel lineup looks likes. However, they should tell a logical story, and certain elements are frequent.
When building a FanDuel lineup, I’ll try to check off most of the criteria:
1) QB stacked with a WR: This allows for a double score when the two connect.
2) Opposing WRs: A recent analysis of big tournaments winners found a high percentage were constructed with two WRs in the same game from both teams. This combination makes sense because high scoring shootouts allow for opportunity on both sides of the ball. Based on matchups, some of our builds incorporate this.
3) RB stacked with Defense: There is a strong correlation between an RB performing well with their team’s defense. That’s something to factor in when choosing a reason, but in reality, it’s often the perceived best available defense with money left from the build that gets plugged in.
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