Last week’s slate was unique due to a lack of viable cheap options. That created a situation where we had a lot of ownership on thinner plays such as Josh Jacobs (27.7% owned) and Cooper Kupp (32.7%). We don’t have that problem this week, particularly if Alvin Kamara and David Johnson end up missing. It will be far easier to identify where ownership will go.
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 12 Sunday day games.
SITUATIONS TO CAPITALIZE ON
1. Josh Allen yet to have a ceiling gameJosh Allen ($6,500) finished last season with four games of 24-plus DraftKings points across his final six outings. He hasn’t reached that mark in any of his six games this year. There’s a good chance for Allen to find his ceiling Sunday against an Eagles team which is a weekly burn unit at the cornerback position. They’ve allowed eight completions of 40+ yards already this season, second-most in the NFL. Allen’s willingness to chuck it deep combined with the weekly floor his legs provide is an ideal combo. Note that John Brown’s ($5,900) 14.58 average depth of target is 14th in the entire league and he’s seeing a strong 35% of the Bills air yards.
2. Will Fuller’s absenceWill Fuller’s hamstring injury turns Kenny Stills ($4,700) into an every-down player opposite DeAndre Hopkins ($8,100). It’s a major role is Fuller was fifth in the entire league in Air Yards despite missing virtually all of Week 7. Only Keenan Allen ($6,400), Mike Evans ($6,600), Julio Jones ($7,700) and DeAndre Hopkins have seen more air yards this season than Fuller. Stills is a talented player who had a productive early-career in New Orleans (caught 63 balls as a second-year player) and then was banished to the hellscape of Miami for four seasons. He’s finally back in a plus situation with Deshaun Watson ($7,100) at quarterback and a primary role in a home game against a Raiders defense ranked 31st in yards per pass attempt allowed.
MATCHUPS TO EXPLOIT
1. Corey Davis and AJ Brown against the BucsThe Bucs have sold out to stop the run, ranking first in rush defense DVOA and first in YPC allowed at just 2.9. That’s even though they’ve faced Tevin Coleman ($5,000)/Matt Breida ($4,800), Christian McCaffrey ($9,200), Saquon Barkley ($8,900), Todd Gurley ($7,400), Alvin Kamara ($7,600) and CMC again. Of course, that hasn’t been the wisest move as it’s funneled massive volume to the air, where opponents are destroying their inept secondary. Enter the Titans quietly talented WR duo of Corey Davis and AJ Brown, who got a spark from Ryan Tannehill’s ($5,100) promotion last week. With Delanie Walker (ankle; $3,600) in doubt and Jonnu Smith ($2,800) more of a blocker, even more target share can be pushed to the two talented wideouts. The best part is their prices have not been overly adjusted for matchup – Davis is $4,400 and Brown is $4,100.
2. Calvin Ridley against the SeahawksThe trade of Mohamed Sanu ($4,000) means Calvin Ridley ($5,600) should now play in all of Atlanta’s sets. Previously he was only in on 71% of the snaps and Sanu was the primary slot man. Sanu also held a 14% target share, which Russell Gage ($3,000) is unlikely to replicate. It’s a nice time for the bump in role as the Seahawks and their mediocre pass defense come to town. Of course, the concern is that Matt Ryan (ankle; $6,000) will sit out or be limited. Sixteen-year veteran Matt Schaub ($4,700) is a massive downgrade, but he actually moved the ball well in his final two preseason appearances (20-of-29 for 248 yards) and went 6-of-6 for 100 yards with a TD after Ryan left in Week 7. The floor on Ridley lowers without Schaub, but we know his ownership will crater as well.
CONTRARIAN GPP STACKS
1. Gardner Minshew to DJ CharkPicking on the Jets perimeter corners is going to be a viable strategy. This team is 17th in pass defense DVOA and Trumaine Johnson/Darryl Roberts are 100th/101st out of 122 qualifying CBs in ProFootballFocus’ grades. Chark ($6,000) disappointed at 13.5% ownership last week against the Bengals, but he did get tackled at the 1-yard line and Chris Conley ($3,300) oddly popped up for seven targets. Chark’s chances of a rebound are strong and he’ll likely come in at far less ownership. This stack with Minshew ($5,500) also provides strong leverage against Leonard Fournette ($7,800), who projects as one of the highest-owned players on the entire slate.
2. Ty Johnson and Lions D/STThe Lions currently have four RBs available for Sunday’s home game against the Giants: Ty Johnson ($4,900), JD McKissic ($3,900), Tra Carson ($3,200) and Paul Perkins. I don’t expect Johnson to have a true bell-cow role, but he’s a plus athlete who averaged an absurd 9.1 YPC for Maryland as a sophomore on 110 carries. There’s plenty of big-play potential here, particularly against a Giants defense ranked 23rd in yards per play allowed. While Johnson does have pass-game chops, I suspect McKissic will be used more in true 2- and 4-minute hurry-up situations. So by pairing Johnson with the Lions DST ($2,800), we generate some correlation in the hopes the Lions hold a lead and dominate possession.
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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.