Unlike some recent slates we’ve had, this one is not particularly heavy on injuries. We’re going to have to scrape for value in other ways and perhaps build more balanced lineups than we’re accustomed to. With Christian McCaffrey on a bye, it certainly makes balanced lineups more palatable.
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 11 Sunday day games.
SITUATIONS TO CAPITALIZE ON
1. Daniel Jones coming off two bad games
Yes, Danny Dimes has struggled the past few weeks. But if we add in some context, it’s not a referendum on his ability. Against the Redskins he threw just 31 passes, had a 17-3 lead at halftime and didn’t have Saquon Barkley or Golden Tate. Against the Vikings’ top-five DVOA defense, Jones was down to Jon Hilliman at RB. And then the Giants had an impossible short-week spot at Foxboro to take on the Patriots’ historically dominant defense without Barkley, Evan Engram, Wayne Gallman or Sterling Shepard.
So I’m still in on Jones ($6,100) as he preps for a matchup against a Cardinals team ranked 28th in yards per play allowed while operating at the fastest neutral-situation pace in the league. Although Shepard (concussion) missing stings a bit, the weaponry of Barkley, Engram, Golden Tate and Darius Slayton plus Jones’ legs give him big-play ability.
2. A healthy Mark Andrews
Andrews (foot, ankle, shoulder) has missed practice time, been on the injury report and even come down to a true game-time decision in five straight weeks. So it’s notable that for the first time since Week 1, Andrews is not on the injury report. Meanwhile, Marquise “Hollywood” Brown (ankle) is very questionable as of Friday morning, and we know Lamar Jackson is lukewarm on throwing to the secondary receivers. So Andrews ($4,900), who already has a strong 23% target share on the season, projects for even more work Sunday — particularly in a potential shootout at Seattle. And although some people still have visions of the Legion of Boom dancing in their heads, this version of the Seahawks is a middling 15th in pass defense DVOA and 17th in yards per pass attempt allowed.
MATCHUPS TO EXPLOIT
1. Josh Allen against the Dolphins
The Dolphins are 32nd in DVOA against the pass, 32nd in passer rating allowed and 32nd in yards per pass attempt allowed. This is a historically bad defense heading to Buffalo to take on a rested Bills team. Allen’s floor is incredibly high in this spot thanks to both the matchup and his rushing ability. Note that he’s scored at least 18 DK in 10 of his past 12 games and has shown a big ceiling in that span by topping 26 points three times. Allen ($6,500) certainly is not cheap, as he’s $200 more than Matt Ryan, only $100 less than Russell Wilson and just $300 less than Lamar Jackson. But that should keep Allen’s ownership in check Sunday.
2. Leonard Fournette against the Bengals
The Bengals are 27th in rush defense DVOA, dead last in rush yards allowed per game and dead last in rushes of 20+ yards allowed. This is nothing new of course. Last year, they were 30th, 29th and 25th, respectively, in those categories. It sets up well for Fournette ($7,000), whose usage has turned been Christian McCaffrey-esque this season. Fournette has played on 91% of the snaps, handled 91% of the RB carries and seen 92% of the RB targets. Truly game-flow independent, Fournette is on pace to catch 69 passes. That’s more than Devonta Freeman, Aaron Jones, Dalvin Cook and other strong pass-catching backs.
CONTRARIAN GPP STACKS
1. Marlon Mack and Colts DST
I typically only play Mack ($6,000) in tournaments because his range of outcomes is so wide. In games the Colts are winning and generating red-zone opportunities, he’s a candidate for 25 touches. In games the Colts fall behind, struggle to sustain drives and turn to their hurry-up, Mack will leave a gaping hole in your lineup. I am intrigued by stacking him with the wildly cheap Colts DST ($2,000) this week, particularly as the Texans come off their upset in Arrowhead. Deshaun Watson took the most sacks in the NFL last year and has taken the fifth-most this year.
2. Jared Goff and Gerald Everett
Goff ($6,200) somehow threw for just 78 yards last week in arguably the worst performance of his career. Sunday marks a get-well spot as he faces the pass-rush devoid Falcons defense that has turned into a pass funnel. They are 31st DVOA against the pass and seventh against the run. The Rams can’t run the ball, anyway, with a hobbled Todd Gurley and hobbled Malcolm Brown. The gameplan should be to use Darrell Henderson more as part of a pass-heavy gameplan. The most contrarian and money-saving stack is with Everett ($3,700), who was not a part of the passing game last week. Perhaps that was due to the Rams’ offensive line mismatch against the 49ers’ nasty defensive front. In shootouts against weak pass rushes (SEA, TB), Everett showed up with his outlier spike weeks.
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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.