The signature aspect of the Week 9 slate is price inflation. Christian McCaffrey at $10K, Dalvin Cook $9,500, Le’Veon Bell $7,700, Hunter Henry $6,000 and Kenny Golladay $7,700 are just a few examples of good players whose price tags give us at least some pause. Overspending by a bit to get guys we love is fine, but we just need to realize the penalty on the bottom end is now more severe.
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.
MATCHUPS TO EXPLOIT
1. Tyler Lockett against the Buccaneers
The Buccaneers have one of the best run defenses we’ve seen in recent memory. They’ve faced Tevin Coleman/Matt Brieda, Christian McCaffrey twice, Saquon Barkley, Todd Gurley, Alvin Kamara and Derrick Henry. Yet they’ve allowed a measly 68.6 rush yards per game on 3.0 YPC (best in NFL). It sets up one of the biggest pass funnels ever as the Bucs are first in rush defense DVOA and 26th in pass defense. Lockett ($7,500) and Russell Wilson are the NFL’s most efficient duo in all matchups — let alone this ridiculously ideal one. Lockett is 35th in wide receiver targets per game yet 18th in fantasy points per game. If Jameis Winston can grab a lead or turn this game into a shootout, Lockett and the Seahawks’ wideouts are set to feast.
2. Allen Robinson against the Eagles
Yes, Mitchell Trubisky has regressed sharply. And yes, Robinson is a bit overpriced at $6,800. But in terms of raw matchup, it doesn’t get much better than this spot for A-Rob. The Eagles have allowed eight passing plays for 40+ yards, third-most in the league. Their sixth-ranked DVOA rush defense funnels volume to the air, where they’re getting hit for 7.1 yards per pass attempt (18th in the league). But most importantly, the Eagles have no one who can keep Robinson from getting open. He’s managed to catch at least five balls in 6-of-7 games and is coming off a couple of tougher matchups against Casey Hayward/Marshon Lattimore. Jalen Mills and Ronald Darby are a welcome sight.
SITUATIONS TO CAPITALIZE ON
1. Keenan Allen’s return to health
Allen was limited by a hamstring in Week 8, playing on just 68% of the snaps. He ran 25 routes but was targeted on a whopping 10 of them. It’s the fifth time in eight games Allen has been targeted 10+ times, and he’s third in the Air Yards — only Mike Evans and Julio Jones have seen more. The hamstring issue appears to be behind Allen as he practiced in full Thursday. Note that unlike many other elite players on this slate, Allen’s price has sunk down to just $6,400 after topping out at $7,600 a few weeks back. That’s only $400 more than Hunter Henry and $1,800 more than inconsistent teammate Mike Williams. Allen’s volume expectation is not in line with his price.
2. Dalvin Cook in a projected close game
Cook ($9,500) is playing on only 68% of the snaps and handling 67% of the RB carries. That’s a bit misleading, however, as the Vikings rarely have been in two-score games in the fourth quarter this season. This week’s game at Arrowhead projects to be close, particularly if Matt Moore draws the start for Kansas City. That will mean a full four quarters of Cook, allowing us to project closer to 80% of the RB touches for fantasy’s second-best asset. It certainly doesn’t hurt that the Chiefs are 30th in rush defense DVOA and fourth against the pass. We don’t need to ask hard-headed run-game proponent Mike Zimmer twice to be all-in on making Cook a centerpiece.
CONTRARIAN GPP STACKS
1. Josh Allen, Devin Singletary and John Brown
Allen ($6,500) still hasn’t topped 22 DK points in a game all year, and Brown ($6,100) hasn’t gotten above 16 since Week 1. It’s a bit fluky as Brown is ninth in the entire league in Air Yards while playing with one of the league’s most aggressive quarterbacks. Ownership on this stack projects to be held in check by price tag — considering their season results to date, it’s eye-opening that Allen is the sixth-most expensive QB on the slate and Brown is the 15th-most expensive WR. A home matchup against a pathetic Redskins defense ranked 24th in DVOA is a great place to find a ceiling. Note that Singletary ($4,700) out-snapped Frank Gore ($4,300) 40-17 last week and ran a route on 31 of Allen’s 43 dropbacks.
2. Sam Darnold to Robby Anderson
Yes, ghost-seeing Darnold ($5,900) has been atrocious the past two weeks. He also has had two extremely difficult spots against the Patriots’ dominant secondary and at the Jaguars’ overwhelming pass rush. Now Darnold finds one of the softest spots he’ll see all year against the minor-league Dolphins, who have shut down top CB Xavien Howard. The Dolphins are 32nd in yards per pass attempt allowed, 32nd in pass rating allowed and T29 in touchdown passes allowed. Jamison Crowder, Demaryius Thomas and Le’Veon Bell all will be heavily involved, but it’s Anderson ($5,500) with the biggest ceiling relative to price. He’s seen a massive 38% of the Jets’ Air Yards this season, the 8th-highest rate in the league.
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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.