There are a whole fistful of really strong plays at good prices this week. Still, some of our opponents in cash games (heads up, 50/50, double up) are going to try to get fancy. They’ll talk themselves out of “the chalk.” Don’t be one of those people who overthinks these elite plays and falls victim to FPS (fancy play syndrome). A big part of our edge comes from capitalizing on others’ mistakes rather than our own brilliance.
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. Jordan Reed against the Bucs
Through the first four games of the season, Jordan Reed was on pace for 134 targets – four more than Rob Gronkowski led the tight end position with last year. Reed had at least five catches in each game, averaging 6.0 receptions for 69.5 yards and scored one touchdown. Then another concussion came and we assumed he’d be out for a long time given his history of brain injuries. Not so fast. Reed has been cleared for Week 7 against the Bucs and he’s a great bet to immediately resume his 80-percent of the snaps role.
Reed isn’t exactly a bargain as his $4200 price is significantly higher than punts like Zach Ertz ($3200. But the matchup against Lovie Smith’s Tampa-2 that wants to push passes between the hashes as well as DeSean Jackson’s (hamstring) continued absence gives Reed a higher floor. If we can’t go Antonio Gates (knee) Sunday, Reed is right there with Travis Kelce and Ladarius Green for cheaper pivots.
2. Rams D/ST against the Browns
This is a very difficult spot for the Browns. They left it all on the field in Week 6, when they dropped a nailbiting overtime game to the undefeated Broncos. Now they have to go on the road to a Rams team that is coming off their bye. It’s an especially brutal matchup in the pass game, as the Browns have taken 22 sacks this season, third-most in NFL. Meanwhile, the Rams elite front has produced 19 sacks, tied for third-most even though they already had their bye. At just $2400, this D/ST is essentially free.
SITUATIONS TO CAPITALIZE ON
1. Julio Jones at low ownership in a plus matchup
DeAndre Hopkins was 33 percent owned across DraftKings last week. Given that he went off once again and has another plus matchup (at Dolphins), he’s going to be around 30-35 percent in Week 7 as well. This is a case where we have two elite players at similar price points with similar projections – yet one of them will have a fraction of the traffic. I suspect Julio Jones will be somewhere around 7-10 percent for his matchup with a Titans defense that has solid numbers against the pass, but still lacks talent in the secondary. Julio’s hamstring issue is apparently behind him as he’s not on the injury report and has had 10 days off to get it right. The cherry on top is Titans RCB Perrish Cox (hamstring) looking doubtful, pushing 2014 DFS MVP candidate Blidi Wreh-Wilson into action.
2. Dolphins committing to the run under Dan Campbell
New coach Campbell has a far different attitude about football than predecessor Joe Philbin. He’s less about the thinking and more about the smashmouthing part of the game. The dude looks/sounds like he wants to put his head through a brick wall to win. That kind of attitude lends itself to run-first gameplans, something Lamar Miller is not accustomed to. Last week, Miller got 15 first-half carries and recorded 19 carries overall in the blowout of the Titans despite sitting out the majority of the fourth quarter. Note that Miller averaged 9.2 carries per game this year and 13.5 per game last year. His salary reflects that previous usage, as he remains just $4600. With a career 4.60 YPC and a safe 15-20 carry projection, Miller is a strong play despite a tougher matchup (vs. Texans) this week. A change in philosophy means we’re not “chasing” here.
CONTRARIAN GPP PLAYS
1. Rob Gronkowski vs. Jets
Gronk is overpriced on DraftKings and has been all year – even when he scored three touchdowns in Week 1. Although he’s a dominant touchdown scorer, players that cost $8100 should be getting more than the 8.6 targets per game he was at last year and certainly more than the 7.6 he’s at this year. So after three straight games of performing under expectation, with an elevated price and in a tough matchup, no one is going to want to touch Gronkowski. This is a spot I’d love to be on him in tournaments as we pay up to be contrarian for a player with legit three-TD upside – the Patriots opened with a team total of 29.5 (it’s now down to 28). Expect ownership in the 4-8 percent range.
1. Stefon Diggs against the Lions
Last week was the time to be on Stefon Diggs. Charles Johnson (ribs) was ruled out, the Vikings were facing a league-worst Chiefs secondary and Diggs cost just $3500. Now things are getting murky. First and foremost, Johnson is now healthy. There have been conflicting reports out of Minnesota regarding who will hold down the “X” position (Mike Wallace is the Z, Jarius Wright is the slot). Meanwhile Norv Turner is telling us to pump the brakes on Diggs despite what the game tape says. And of course, there’s going to be a ton of people on Diggs even though the matchup is tougher, his price is now $4200 and we have usage questions. Willie Snead, Leonard Hankerson, Mike Wallace, Michael Crabtree and Martavis Bryant are all around the same price and are higher-floor plays right now.
WHO I’M CONSIDERING IN DRAFTKINGS CASH GAMES
(No particular order)
QB: Carson Palmer, Philip Rivers, Cam Newton
RB: Todd Gurley, Devonta Freeman, Lamar Miller, Arian Foster, Latavius Murray, Le’Veon Bell
WR: Julio Jones, DeAndre Hopkins, Larry Fitzgerald, John Brown, Donte Moncrief, Martavis Bryant, Michael Crabtree, Willie Snead, Michael Floyd
TE: Antonio Gates (if healthy), Ladarius Green (if Gates is ruled out), Jordan Reed, Travis Kelce, Greg Olsen
D: Rams, Redskins, Chiefs, Patriots, Cardinals