FanDuel NFL Week 9: In-Depth Player Pool With Expert Analysis
Week 8 in FanDuel was awesome! Thanks in large part to the performance of Dalvin Cook, who I had as the top-ranked RB for the week, seven of my eight GPP lineups cashed. Five of eight weeks have seen a positive cash flow. Week 8 also represented back-to-back winning weeks.
Let’s continue to the winning streak by using players who have high projected scores, are expected to have a solid return to value, and are in great matchups to exploit.
For the last few weeks, I have built around eight QBs. This week, I’m focused on six. By playing two fewer lineups, I will afford one additional higher priced single-entry while protecting my bankroll.
As I mentioned last week, we are now at the point of the NFL season, where it is critical to check the weather before adding a player to your lineup, no matter how good the matchup is. NFLWeather.com is a great source. At the time of writing, there are no games where the weather appears to be a concern.
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 WR, it’s great to know they are in advantageous situations. As the season progresses, patterns emerge, and it becomes clear which CBs should be exploited. Our goal will be to play WRs covered by CBs, 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.
Week 6 FanDuel Player Pool
Patrick Mahomes ($9,300) is the top projected QB at 4for4 at 24 points. The thing to keep in mind is that about six points less than last week’s projection, and his price has gone up by $100. The relatively low expectations are due to the Panthers’ defense, which has been eighth-best against QBs, having allowed an average of 15.69 fantasy points per game. I will again have exposure to Mahomes, but the Kansas City lineup will be entered into a lower cost single-entry because I feel there is value this week at spending on RBs than QBs.
Russell Wilson (SEA, $9,000) the second-highest projected QB at 4for4 at 22.8 points. Tagliere has Wilson ranked 1st. The Seahawks face the Bills, who are in the middle of the pack against QBs, having allowed an average of 19.12 fantasy points a game. What makes Wilson a much more intriguing option than Mahomes is that the game has the highest over/under projection of the week at 55 points, and the Seahawks are favored by three. That gives Seattle the highest score projection at 29. This game could be a thriller where we will want to have multiple players involved.
Kyler Murray (AIR, $8,600) is the third-highest projected QB at 4for3 at 22.8 points. The Cardinals face the Dolphins, whose defense has dramatically improved this year and are ninth-best against QBs at 15.83 points per game. The other concern with this game is the Dolphins played super conservatively after their DST established a lead with two scores. That’s likely not going to happen again, but the Dolphins could slow down the game if they can get a lead.
Deshaun Watson (HOU, $8,300) is $1,000 cheaper than Mahomes but is projected to score just 1.5 fewer points at 22.5. Houston faces the Jaguars, who have allowed a third-most average of 22.50 points a game to QBs, or exactly what Watson is projected to score at 4for4. Watson is an above-average QB, so there is reason to believe that the projection may be on the low side, and it would not be a shocker if he ended up as QB 1 for the week.
Josh Allen (BUF, $8,200) is next on the list of projected points at 23.3 and gives you the opposing QB to Russell Wilson. In Week 3, when Wilson scored 36.8 points against the Cowboys, Dak Prescott (IR) scored 27.48 fantasy points. There is an opportunity here for both Allen and Wilson to be north of 30 points.
Justin Herbert (LAC, $7,700) may not be winning games, but he sure is scoring fantasy points. Herbert has averaged 25.3 fantasy points a game, with his lowest performance coming last week at 23.22 against the Broncos. Herbert has averaged 303.33 passing yards a game and 17 total TDs (15 passing, two rushing). Herbert faces the Raiders, who have allowed an eighth-worst 20.80 fantasy points per game. Las Vegas is tied for third-worst three rushing TDs to QBs. There is a chance that Herbert could again reach the 30 point range if he rushes for a TD and throws for a couple more.
Derek Carr (LVR, $7,000) provides the opposing QB to Herbert. This is another game that has the potential for a lot of scoring. The game has a relatively high over-under at 51.5, with the Chargers favored by 1. That means Vegas thinks there is a decent shot that not only that this game could turn into a shoot out, but it may also go into overtime, providing additional fantasy scoring. Carr has performed well over the last month despite very tough matchups. Last week’s 12.54 fantasy score can be thrown out due to poor weather. The three weeks prior, Carr faced the Buccaneers (ranked 3rd best against QBs at 14.10 points per game), Chiefs (6th at 15.17), and Bills (17th at 19.12). In those games, Carr’s fantasy scores were 20.26, 24.98, and 20.44. Carr averaged 21.89 points against defenses that, on average, have allowed 16.3 for a plus 5.76 points from opponents average. The Chargers have allowed a third-worst 22.59 points a game to QBs. That provides an outside opportunity for Carr to score 30 points. At his $7,000 price, this Raiders lineup build could allow for in inclusion of both RBs Dalvin Cook and Christian McCaffrey.
D.K. Metcalf (SEA, $8,100) and Tyler Lockett (SEA $,7400) could actually both go off in the same game. Metcalf should be covered by Bills CB Tre’Davious White, who has allowed a 55% catch rate and 1.85 fantasy points per target. Lockett should be covered by Taron Johnson, who has allowed a 72.2% catch rate and 1.53 fantasy points per target. Instead of using both WRs in the same lineup, because I plan to build lineups with both QB Russell Wilson and Josh Allen, I likely will use the cheaper Allen with more expensive Metcalf for an opposing WR to Allen. I will then use the cheaper Lockett to stack with the more expensive Wilson.
Stefon Diggs (BUF, $7,600) will likely be one of the highest owned WRs on the Main Slate, and for a good reason. Over the last four weeks, Diggs is tied with WR Cooper Kupp (LAR, not on the slate) for most targets among all players at 44, according to the 4for4 Target App. Diggs should be covered by SEA CB Shaquill Griffin, who has allowed a 69.8% catch rate and 2.16 fantasy points per target. I will have the most exposure to Diggs of any WR. In essence, I’m treating him as an elite RB at a small discount.
Keenan Allen (LAC, $7,500) remains the obvious stack with Herbert due to his massive share of the Bolts offense. Allen has a solid matchup to exploit against Raiders CB Lamarcus Joyner, who has allowed a 64% catch rate and 1.66 fantasy points per target. I will have Allen in both my Herbert and Carr builds. “Coming into Week 9, Allen ranks second in the NFL with a massive 30.9 percent target share, and that’s despite missing a full half of that game against the Saints,” wrote Tagliere. “He’s the No. 8 wide receiver in points per game since Herbert took over. There’s very little reason to doubt Allen as a bonafide WR1 in fantasy right now. The Raiders matchup is going to be an interesting one considering they’ve faced minimal wide receiver targets. Wide receivers have just a 51.0 percent target share against the Raiders, which ranks as the third-lowest mark in the league. That’s allowed them to hold receivers to the 13th-fewest points per game against them. However, when you look on a per-target basis, they’ve allowed the 11th-most fantasy points per target (1.89), which is right next to the Seahawks.”
DJ Chark (JAC, $6,400) is a great option for an opposing WR to Deshaun Watson. Chark has plus CB matchup against Bradley Roby, who has allowed a 66.7% catch rate and 2,19 fantasy points per target. “My only concern with Chark is the QB situation,” wrote Woellert. “The Texans’ secondary can be exploited, and while I think James Robinson gets 20 touches, Jake Luton is going to throw, and I can see him targeting Chark. In the two games heading into the bye, Chark was on the field for 88% of the snaps and received 21 targets, so the volume is there. Bradley Roby should spend most of the day covering Chark.”
Mike Williams (LAC, $6,200) is again a great additional piece to add to a Herbert/Allen Chargers stack. I suggested the same last week when Williams had a positive matchup, and he scored 18.5 fantasy points against the Broncos. Williams should be covered by Raiders CB Nevin Lawson, who has allowed a 68.2% catch rate and 2.11 fantasy points per target. “Williams has been targeted at least eight times in the last three games,” wrote Woellert. He’s also been on the field for at least 80% of the snaps. This is another game with an over of 50 points. The Chargers have an implied total of 28. Keenan Allen is dominating the market share of targets, but Williams is right behind at 15.6%. Lawson is giving up 9.1 yards per target, but Williams’ average depth of target is 17.2 yards. Lawson is allowing 2.4 fantasy points per target and is going to have some trouble with Williams.”
Christian Kirk (AIR, $5,900) and Larry Fitzgerald ($5,000) provide an intriguing cheap double stack opportunity with Kyler Murray as opposed to DeAndre Hopkins ($8,800), who most will use to stack with Murray. Hopkins has an absolutely brutal matchup against Dolphins CB Byron James, who has allowed a 42.1% catch rate and measly 0.87 fantasy points per target. Both Kirk and Fitzgerald are coming off an eight target game. Kirk should be covered by CB Xavien Howard, who has allowed a 46.9% catch rate and 1.64 fantasy points per target. Fitzgerald should be covered by CB Nik Needham, who has allowed a 64% catch rate and 1.64 fantasy points per target. Murray/Kirk/Fitzgerald’s reasonable low price at $19,500 provides another possible opportunity to squeeze McCaffrey and Cook into the same FanDuel lineup build.
Mecole Hardman (KC, $5,600) has the best matchup for Chiefs WRs for the second week in a row. Last week, I recommended Hardman as a stack with Mahomes, and he scored 19.1 fantasy points against the Chiefs. Hardman should be covered by Panthers CB Donte Jackson, who has allowed a 62.5% catch rate and 1.82 fantasy points per target. Hardman’s low price allows for TE Travis Kelce to a Chiefs stack despite the high price of Mahomes.
Hunter Renfrow (LV, $5,100) has a mouth-watering matchup against Chargers CB Tevaughn Campbell, who has allowed a 100% catch rate and 1.73 fantasy points per target. Renfrow can be used in Chargers and Raiders build and just a cheap WR/Flex to fill out a build.
Three of the QBs used this week have TEs that are heavily targeted. My FanDuel lineups will be using a mix of them.
Travis Kelce (KC, $8,000) leads all TEs for targets (44) and fantasy points a game average at 11.9. Kelce faces a relatively difficult defense for TEs. The Panthers have allowed an 11th best 10.84 fantasy points per target. Kelce is the top projected TE at 4for4 at 14.4 points, but that is less than a 2x return. I definitely will stack Kelce with Mahomes, but not sure if I will have additional exposure.
Darren Waller (LV, $6,400) has the second-most targets for TEs on the season at 45 and has the eighth-best scoring average at 7.6 fantasy points per game. He faces the Chargers, who have allowed a 10th worst 14.77 fantasy points a game to TEs. Waller has the second-highest projection on the week at 11.7 points at 4for4.
Hunter Henry (LAC, $5,600) sixth-highest touches a game average for TEs at 4.1. Henry faces the Raiders who are above average against TEs at 11.34 fantasy points a game allowed. Henry has the eighth highest projection at 9.0 fantasy points at 4for4. Henry $2,600 cheaper than Kelce, but is projected to score just 2.7 points less. The extra salary can likely be spent on an RB who more likely to obtain a 3X return. That’s something to keep in mind when doing your lineup builds.
Christian McCaffrey (CAR, $9,500) is projected to play his first game since suffering an ankle injury in Week 2. Some, including myself. are concerned that McCaffrey could be eased back in with his backup Mike Davis ($7,800) having played well in his absence. Tagliere doesn’t believe that will be the case. “We should have back the No. 1 pick in fantasy drafts for this game, which is great news for all football fans,” wrote Tagliere. “For those who wondered about a potential timeshare with Davis playing as well as he was, the last three weeks likely brought you back down to earth. You don’t pay McCaffrey the money they did to be part of a big timeshare. . . . He totaled 53.3 PPR points through the first two games, which included a game against the Bucs. Meanwhile, the Chiefs have allowed 153.5 total yards per game to running backs. Many will look at their ranking as the team who’s allowed the 11th fewest fantasy points to running backs, but that has a lot to do with lack of touchdowns, as the 4.66 yards per carry and 6.59 yards per target they’ve allowed to running backs are both above the league average. Also, let’s not pretend that McCaffrey won’t score. Get him back in lineups as an elite RB1 and expect results.”
Dalvin Cook (MIN, $9,300) provides a solid case that Tagliere’s McCaffrey assessment is spot on. Cook returned last week after missing two weeks with a groin injury and exploded for 226 combined yards and four TDs to score 46.1 fantasy points. Cook’s performance at less than 10% ownership propelled me to such a great week. Cook’s ownership will undoubtedly go up this week, as he has an opportunity to be the RB 1 again. Cook faces a Lions defense that has a lowed a second-worst 32.13 fantasy points a game. All of my lineups will have either McCaffrey or Cook with at least one with both. I’ll likely have a higher share of Cook than McCaffrey.
James Robinson (JAC, $7,300) has the opportunity to also put up monster numbers at a discounted price to Cook and McCaffrey. He is coming off a 29.7 points performance against the Chargers where he carried the ball 22 times for 119 yards and a TD, and four of six targets for another 18 yards and a TD. Robinson faces the Texans, who a third-worst 31.29 fantasy points a game to RBs.
Chase Edmonds (AIR, $6,700) is an outstanding mid-range option. Edmonds has taken on the lead back role for the Cardinals, enabling him to see in the neighborhood of 15 to 20 touches. Many of that will likely come as a pass-catcher as last week he caught all seven targets for 87 yards. Edmonds faces a Dolphins defense that has allowed a seventh-worst 26.33 fantasy points a game. The Dolphins have also allowed a 12th worst 343 receiving yards to RBs. Whether I use Edmonds or Robinson may be on what defense I can get. This week, I’m looking to pay up for the Steelers ($5,000) defense against the struggling Cowboys offense.
DeeJay Dallas (SEA, $5,100) is a fantastic cheap option and a great addition to the Seahawks stack to offset higher-priced players. Last week against the 49ers, Dallas took on a workhorse role, which he will have again this week against the Bills. Dallas rushed 18 times for 49 yards and a TD and caught all five of his targets for 18 yards and another TD to score 20.3 points against San Francisco run defense that has allowed the second-lowest fantasy points a game at 18.62 fantasy points a game. The matchup this week against the Bills is more favorable, as Buffalo has allowed 23.61 fantasy points per game.
Jordan Howard (AIR, $4,500) is at the minimum price and is set to be the workhorse in the Cardinals high scoring offense. Howard faces the Cardinals, who have allowed a 10th most 25.09 fantasy points per game to RBs. If you are looking to use both McCaffrey and Cook, Howard is a great way to make that happen. As I mentioned earlier, the Cardinals stack of Murray/Kirk/Fitzgerald is $19,500. Add in Howard as an opposing player for that stack, and the total is $23,000.
FanDuel Lineup Build
There isn’t an exact science in what a winning FanDuel lineup looks like. 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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