There is going to be a lot of roster overlap in Week 4 lineups on DraftKings. A lot of the guys that have been playing well and getting a ton of usage are also in good matchups and still reasonably priced. I’ll let other people try to overthink these “chalk” plays in cash games. No fancy play syndrome for me there. As for tournaments, we’re going to have to be willing to accept some low-floor outcomes if we want to separate ourselves from the pack.
The point of this column is to use the news, snap count, usage and trends to both be a little contrarian and avoid whiffs.
MATCHUPS TO EXPLOIT
1. Amari Cooper against Alan Ball and Kyle Fuller
Through three weeks, Fuller is PFF’s No. 87 coverage corner and Ball is No. 66 among 95 qualifiers. Opposing quarterbacks have a 150.9 passer rating when throwing at Ball, worst among corners in the league. Fuller isn’t far behind at 137.5. Meanwhile, Amari Cooper has stormed the NFL right out of the gates, posting back-to-back 100-yard games against high-caliber talents Jimmy Smith and Joe Haden while seeing at least nine targets in all three games. Cooper is also getting force-fed the rock, as evidenced by the six passes behind the line of scrimmage he’s already gotten. That will keep his week-to-week floor high and his ceiling in this matchup is humungous – all at a $6300 price tag.
2. Marvin Jones against a funneling Chiefs defense
Back in 2013, Marvin Jones played on 50 percent of the Bengals’ snaps and scored 10 touchdowns. After missing all of 2014 due to injury, he’s back. Marvin’s snap count has gone from 60.3 percent in Week 1 to 80.3 in Week 2 and 87.0 in Week 3. His targets have read 3, 5, 7 during that span. Now Jones and the Bengals get a game against a Chiefs defense that gives up just 3.76 YPC on the ground versus a 101.9 rating to opposing quarterbacks. Even with top corner Sean Smith coming off suspension, the way to beat the Chiefs is through the air. I projected Jones for six targets at just $3800 and he’s a far sneakier GPP stack with Andy Dalton than Dalton/A.J. Green.
SITUATIONS TO CAPITALIZE ON
1. Matt Forte at low ownership in a very plus matchup
The 0-3 Bears are toxic right now in the public’s eyes. That’s why no one is talking about a game-flow independent running back averaging 22.6 touches per game who is at home against a defense that has given up the 13th-most points to opposing RBs this season. I’d throw out last week’s debacle at Seattle as an absolutely impossible spot – the Seahawks were 0-2, it was their home opener and Kam Chancellor was back. The best teams in the league would have gotten waxed in that spot.
So whether it’s Jimmy Clausen or Jay Cutler, the Bears are expected to at least keep this game close – the line is at Raiders -3. And if they can do that and reach their implied team total of 20.5, it’s going to be all about Matt Forte as Alshon Jeffery (calf) is out again. An annual high-ceiling full-PPR monster, Forte caught six passes for 40 yards with a touchdown in Clausen’s lone 2014 start (Week 15 vs. Detroit). The best part is we get him down at $7100 (he opened the year at $7800) and at low ownership as everyone goes cheap at running back this week.
2. Melvin Gordon before the big game (again)
I used Melvin Gordon in most of my GPP lineups last week (as discussed in last week’s Leverage) and it burned me badly. Not using him this week, in an even better spot, would be really results-oriented bad process.
A big reason Gordon has only gotten 14.6 carries per game this season is game flow. The Chargers fell behind 21-3 to the Lions in Week 1, 14-6 to the Bengals in Week 2 and 31-7 to the Vikings last week. If we look closer, Gordon is eighth in the NFL in first-half carries and 25th in second-half carries (via Rich Hribar). So in a game where the Chargers are favored by 7.5 and facing a Browns defense that has already gotten ripped by Chris Ivory and Latavius Murray, Gordon is a great bet to finally record his firs 20-carry game. I’m not on him in cash thanks to a beat-up offensive line and a lack of pass-game role, but the GPP upside is big again at just $4900.
CONTRARIAN GPP STACKS
1. Tygod Taylor and Percy Harvin (without Karlos Williams)
If you’re looking to cash in the Milly Maker or another large-field GPP, Karlos Williams should probably be in your lineup. The most likely outcome is he smashes value with 16-20 touches at $3400. But with an ownership percentage of around 50 percent, not using Williams can quickly catapult you up toward the very top of the standings. Let’s say he gets hurt in the first quarter, grossly underperforms or maybe… Tygod rushes for two scores and throws another two scores to Percy Harvin. It’s not that far-fetched when we consider Sammy Watkins (calf) is out and Harvin has seen 18 targets and four carries through three games. If your goal is to literally win the tournament, leverage plays against the uber-chalk need to be in your arsenal.
2. Sam Bradford and Jordan Matthews (weather permitting)
Hurricane Joaquin is on everyone’s radar at this point. And I think the general public is very aware that high wind speed is an absolutely crushing blow to pass-game stats. But we are still three days away from Sunday and the latest reports have the storm moving well off the coast. I’ve seen predictions as mild as 15-20 MPH winds with light showers.
If that’s the case, I think it’s worth a GPP gamble because we could get 1 percent ownership on Bradford and Matthews in an ideal spot. The Redskins have proven to be almost impossible to run against, while their secondary is both bad and banged up. DeAngelo Hall, Duke Ihenacho and Justin Rogers are all out, and Chris Culliver is questionable. Regular readers know I love funnel defenses, especially when we know where the ball is going on offense. Bradford loves to look over the middle at Matthews.
WHO I’LL HAVE THE MOST OF IN DRAFTKINGS CASH GAMES
QB: Derek Carr, Tyrod Taylor, Andy Dalton, Carson Palmer, Cam Newton
RB: Karlos Williams, Devonta Freeman, Matt Forte, Jamaal Charles, Frank Gore (if Andrew Luck plays), Thomas Rawls (if Marshawn Lynch sits)
WR: Amari Cooper, Randall Cobb, Julio Jones, Larry Fitzgerald, Marvin Jones, Michael Crabtree, James Jones, Donte Moncrief (if Andrew Luck plays)
TE: Greg Olsen, Martellus Bennett, Jordan Reed (weather permitting)
D: Seahawks, Broncos, Cardinals, Eagles