This entire slate hinges on a few very big injuries. As of Friday morning, we don’t have a true sense on the status of David Johnson, Todd Gurley, Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins or Kenny Stills. Tracking the status of these players and adjusting correctly will be the key to the slate. That’s true whether the news breaks Friday night or Sunday afternoon.
The point of this column is to use the news, snap counts, usage, matchups and trends to both be a little contrarian and avoid whiffs. Note that I am discussing the DraftKings main slate only, aka the 10 Sunday day games.
SITUATIONS TO CAPITALIZE ON
1. DeAndre Hopkins off four quiet games
Hopkins ($7,400) hasn’t topped 100 yards or scored a touchdown in any of his past four games. It’s time for the pendulum to swing his way, particularly now that he’s priced just $1,400 more than Will Fuller. Hopkins is still ninth in the entire league in Air Yards and this is a perfect time for Hopkins to catch up on his opportunity is in one of the season’s most likely shootouts at Arrowhead.
2. Jets priced for Luke Falk
The Jets offense absolutely cratered while Sam Darnold (mono) was sidelined. But that shouldn’t have been a surprise to anyone — bad teams playing with their third-string quarterback are going to be a disaster. The good news is Darnold returns this week yet the Jets still are priced as if Luke Falk is starting. While we can’t completely throw out the data from the Jets’ three games without Darnold, we also can’t use it as a baseline. So the tags on Le’Veon Bell ($6,400), Jamison Crowder ($4,000) and Robby Anderson ($4,000) stick out. That’s particularly true with Chris Herndon (hamstring) sidelined, turning the tight end spot into a target share dead zone again.
MATCHUPS TO EXPLOIT
1. Kirk Cousins against the Eagles
The common belief is that Cousins is incapable and one of the worst quarterbacks in the NFL. I don’t really care if that’s true in real life, but in fantasy it’s almost certainly a gross overreaction. Cousins remains 10th all-time in career passing yards per game, averaging more than Ben Roethlisberger, Philip Rivers, Carson Wentz and Brett Favre. While the Vikings ideally will keep Cousins’ attempts to a minimum, that’s not always possible. A matchup against an Eagles defense ranked fourth in run defense DVOA, second in YPC allowed and first in rushing yards allowed means we can project more throws. If Cousins can get to 35 attempts against this secondary, he’s likely to show major profit on a $5,200 salary.
CONTRARIAN GPP STACKS
1. Lamar Jackson and Mark Andrews
Most of the slate’s attention likely will be on ATL/ARZ and HOU/KC. That should allow this home run spot for the Ravens to fly a bit under the radar. Note that the Bengals rank 30th in yards per play allowed and the Ravens lead the entire league in plays per game. While we know Jackson ($6,900) always has a massive floor thanks to his double-digit rushing attempt projection, we can engage his ceiling here thanks to the matchup. Andrews ($4,800) continues to nurse shoulder and foot injuries but still is running routes on at least 65% of Lamar’s dropbacks on a weekly basis. Andrews provides max tournament leverage against George Kittle, Austin Hooper and Travis Kelce, who are very likely to dominate ownership at the position.
2. Baker Mayfield to Odell Beckham
The squeaky wheel is in full effect as the Browns continue to unravel. Now Odell’s teammates are calling for him to get more involved as Beckham ($6,800) has a total of 10 catches for 103 yards and zero TDs over the past three weeks. Note that while people still have memories of the Legion of Boom, this Seattle defense is far from that. They’re 19th in DVOA against the pass and 17th in passer rating allowed despite facing Andy Dalton, Mason Rudolph, Teddy Bridgewater, Kyler Murray and Jared Goff so far. Baker Mayfield price has sunk to $5,500 after opening the year at $64,00.
1. Adrian Peterson against the Dolphins
Interim Redskins head coach Bill Callahan is a run-game advocate who wants Peterson to run the ball 30 times. He actually thinks rushing attempts is an indicator of win expectation. But when we play game-flow dependent, pass-game zero Peterson in a full-PPR single-week setting like DraftKings, we take on a ton of risk. Are we sure the Dolphins, playing at home out of a bye, aren’t significantly better than the Redskins? Are we sure this offense can generate scoring opportunities, even against the Dolphins? Can the 36-year-old Peterson sustain for an entire game? There are a lot of paths to failure with any two-down, TD-dependent back at $4,500 — especially one who plays for the Redskins.
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is adamlevitan) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.