In Advanced Targets we’re going under the hood and using all of the advanced stats generated by the Pro Football Focus game-charters to find the best DraftKings plays this season. I’m also providing the weekly projections from the award-winning minds at PFF Fantasy and occasionally presenting contrarian plays where the advanced stats suggest upside far beyond the official projection.
Brady should be the foundation for most lineups this week. His projection gives him a 2.4-point edge over the No. 2 quarterback. That’s the same gap as between No. 2 and No 14. The Cowboys are allowing 256 passing yards per game (19th overall) and sport a -9.1 PFF grade in pass coverage. Morris Claiborne (-3), Brandon Carr (-1), and Tyler Patmon (-4) all grade out negatively as well. The Dallas secondary must deal with a New England passing attack with a healthy Rob Gronkowski, not to mention easily the most explosive passing down back of the Brady era. Dion Lewis is averaging 1.9 yards per route in the early going this season after Shane Vereen managed only 1.2 last year.
Projected Points: 22.7
We’re going to take our second consecutive shot at the Chicago Bears defense that’s still allowing a 112 opposing passer rating even after holding their own against Derek Carr. Their -5 grade in pass coverage is more indicative than their pass yards allowed. Smith isn’t a sexy weekly play due to his presumed touchdown ceiling, but he currently ranks sixth in the NFL in passing yards and 10th in yards per attempt. With the Chiefs seeing one of the week’s highest projected point totals and Jamaal Charles utilized heavily in the passing game, Smith represents a cheap source of points.
Projected Points: 18.4
Kansas City is better against the run than the pass, but they’ve also struggled with RBs out of the backfield, an area where Forte excels. The Chicago bell cow leads the RB position with 84 carries and also finds himself Top 10 in targets. Running back efficiency rates are notoriously volatile, but Forte is currently a half yard per attempt better than his 2014 rushing average. He appears not to have lost much from a fantasy perspective in going from Marc Trestman to Adam Gase.
Projected Points: 19.8
Gurley looked every bit the future superstar as he toyed with Arizona’s vaunted defense in Week 4. It’s obviously a sample size event, but Gurley currently leads PFF’s Breakaway category by a wide margin. Four of his 25 carries have gone for 15-plus yards. This week he has a dream matchup against a Green Bay defense allowing 4.8 yards per carry and 115 yards per game. There are game script concerns here as the Packers project to lead early and by a wide margin, but Jeff Fisher and company aren’t known for their flexibility in moving from the pregame plan.
Projected Points: 15.1
In his first month as a professional, Yeldon has been as uninspiring as Gurley has been electric. Even if the rookie is one of the league’s least explosive starters, the stars are still aligning this week in the form of a heavy workload, easy matchup, and cheap salary. Yeldon’s 70 carries trail only Forte and Adrian Peterson. He’s also seen 14 targets and caught at least two passes in every contest. That’s the type of volume that can be exploited against PFF’s last-ranked rush defense. Only six defensive units own a grade worse than -10. Tampa Bay sits at -26. Superstar defensive tackle Gerald McCoy still owns an excellent overall grade due to his pass rush presence, but a lingering shoulder injury may be contributing to his negative grade against the run. He ranks No. 38 with a run stop percentage of only 5.6 percent.
Projected Points: 15.0
Thomas has been used with great flexibility this season, seeing 41 percent of his snaps on the left, 34 percent on the right, and 26 percent in the slot. As a result, he figures to see time against Oakland’s trio of flailing corners. His most frequent opponent looks like Neiko Thorpe, a player whose 3.9 coverage snaps per target ranks third worst in the NFL. Thomas has seen no fewer than 10 targets and recorded no fewer than 7 receptions in a game this season. In this matchup, he could easily best his 12-target average, although it’s important to keep in mind that Thomas ran only 26 total routes last week.
Projected Points: 20.5
Robinson’s profile through the first month of 2015 has been weird to say the least. He’s Top 20 in targets (37) and Top 10 in routes (158), but because his average target depth (18.7 yards) is the highest of any receiver with at least 20 targets, he’s managed only a 41 percent catch rate. This week looks like it could offer a return to the 6-155-2 line of Week 2. Robinson has split his time almost equally on both sides of the formation and will see plenty of both Mike Jenkins and Tim Jennings. Jenkins is allowing 1.92 yards per coverage snap, which isn’t in the Darius Butler range, but is very favorable for opposing receivers. Jenkins also represents one of league’s best corner matchups in terms of fantasy points allowed per route.
Projected Points: 15.2
After two performances that brought back memories of peak Fitzgerald, the future Hall of Famer slipped back to a still solid 7-99-0 line in Week 4. He’s now third in receiving yards (4.32) and fourth in yards per route (3.13). Fitzgerald has played 63 percent of his snaps in the slot where he’ll matchup with Detroit slot corner Josh Wilson. Wilson is allowing a 114 opposing passer rating and 1.9 yards per coverage snap when attempting to handle slot receivers. According to PFF’s CB/WR matchup chart, this is the single most favorable combination of the weekend in terms of expected fantasy points per route.
Projected Points: 15.8
In the bargain basement bin, Snead owns the week’s best points-to-salary ratio of any receiver projected in double figures. Not only has Snead gained more yards and scored more fantasy points than Brandin Cooks so far this season, but Drew Brees owns a 133 rating when targeting the sleeper while only a 58 rating when throwing in the direction of this year’s trendy breakout candidate. Snead’s snap percentage has ticked up every week, from 24 percent in Week 1 to 66 percent against the Cowboys. He easily distanced Marques Colston and Brandon Coleman with his 34 routes in Week 4 and could consolidate that advantage this week.
Projected Points: 12
We’ll just assume you’re playing Rob Gronkowski in the tight end position. But if you’ve spent your salary in other ways, the two headliners in the Chicago/Kansas City tilt look like obvious runners up. Coming off of an excellent 2014 season, Bennett may be an even better option this year after the departure of Brandon Marshall. In the two full games with Jay Cutler, Bennett has compiled 19 targets, 128 yards, and 2 TDs. The Chiefs have struggled against all comers in the passing game with safeties Ron Parker (-4.4) and Tyvon Branch (-4.8) as two of the leading culprits.
Projected Points: 12.8
Chicago’s abysmal pass defense looks superficially mediocre against the TE position, but much of that is the result of facing three teams – Green Bay, Arizona, and Oakland – that have no talent at tight end and do not utilize the position. (Jimmy Graham went off against them for 7-83-1.) Kelce currently leads the position with 148 total routes. He was the second most efficient TE on a yardage basis in 2014 at 2.26 yards per route and sits at 1.98 this season. After three scoreless games and an uptick in salary, you may also benefit from a lower ownership percentage this week.
Projected Points: 13.0