Thursday, September 24, 2015

Dissecting DraftKings - NFL Week 3

Photo credit: nydailynews
Week 2 was wild, and nothing went as planned, particularly the "shootout" between the Cowboys and the Eagles. It's a wonder I still managed to cash in almost half my games and tread water with such a heavy dose of Sam Bradford, but playing Allen Robinson when few others did certainly helped. Anyway, on we go to Week 3.

With two weeks of data, we have a general idea of which defenses to target and which to avoid, although it will be fluid for another few weeks. For more on what criteria I look for when choosing players, hit this link. And remember, these lists usually don't include the top players at each position. It's a way to build a team so you can afford those high-priced studs.


1. Nick Foles ($5,200) vs. PIT
2. Cam Newton ($6,800) vs. NO
3. Carson Palmer ($6,600) vs. SF
4. Russell Wilson ($7,000) vs. CHI
5. Aaron Rodgers ($8,000) vs. KC

Nick Foles as the No. 1 quarterback? Am I positively crazy? Nope, and let's not forget that these rankings take price into account. With that being said, Foles gets a brutal Pittsburgh secondary at home in a game with a 47.5 over/under, and Todd Gurley will be back to take some pressure off the passing game. At near-minimum salary, he's a very interesting tournament option, although not one to trust in cash.

Cam Newton, Carson Palmer and Russell Wilson are excellent cash options, although paying up for Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady isn't something I'll dissuade anybody from doing against the Chiefs and Jaguars, respectively. Newton and Wilson both have great matchups, and their rushing stats give them a solid fantasy floor even if they don't top 200 passing yards or throw for multiple scores. Palmer gets a 49ers defense that finally took their expected step back against the Steelers last week, and it's tough to see them slowing down the Cardinals' potent passing game. If you want to spend a little more at RB and WR, these guys are nice alternatives to Rodgers and Brady.

Rodgers, on the other hand, is rarely a bad play in DFS, especially at home. The Chiefs' secondary isn't anywhere near as bad as some in the NFL, but they aren't one to be feared against a player of Rodgers' caliber either. He's probably the chalk play at QB this week, although Brady is a close second for $300 less.

Running Back

1. Justin Forsett ($6,000) vs. CIN
2. Dion Lewis ($4,200) vs. JAX
3. David Johnson ($4,000) vs. SF
4. Jonathan Stewart ($4,900) vs. NO
5. Danny Woodhead ($4,400) at MIN
6. Latavius Murray ($5,800) at CLE
7. LeGarrette Blount ($4,000) vs. JAX
8. Isaiah Crowell ($4,500) vs. OAK
9. Matt Jones ($4,000) at NYG
10. James Starks ($3,000) vs. KC

To address the elephant in the rankings room, yes, both Dion Lewis and LeGarrette Blount are on this list. No, they are not both top-seven plays this week. But, someone is going to eat in the New England backfield. I've long been a fan of Lewis' talent since his days at Pitt, but I'm loathe to trust Bill Belichick. The script sets up perfectly for LeGarrette Blount, but after playing just seven snaps in his return from suspension, it's hard to tell if he's in the doghouse. Both are tournament plays and untrustworthy in cash, but if you pick the right one, you could find yourself with an RB1 game for an RB3 price.

Justin Forsett is another back with some risk, as Lorenzo Taliaferro played just seven fewer snaps than Forsett last week. Working in Forsett's favor, however, is that the Bengals defense has allowed 21 receptions to opposing running backs this season, including seven to Latavius Murray and six to Danny Woodhead. With few options in the passing game and an offense led by Marc Trestman, Forsett feels like a lock for five or six receptions, which would pay off more than half of his price assuming even five yards per catch. He's not the safest cash play, but those are tough to find outside of the top few backs this week.

David Johnson is another tournament play, as the running back position has been shaky this season in terms of reliability. The best move this week might be to pay up at QB and WR and hope you can hit a couple cheap RBs. If they miss, you didn't spend much, and your passing game can carry you. Johnson is set to receive more work, according to Bruce Arians, and he's much more talented than the current version of Chris Johnson. The chance for a return touchdown doesn't hurt, either.

Jonathan Stewart gets a juicy matchup with the Saints this week and has been handling the majority of work in the Carolina backfield. Cam Newton can always steal a TD, but that's priced into Stewart's salary, which is just 24th-highest among RBs this week. Danny Woodhead is a matchup nightmare against Minnesota's poor linebackers and with at least 16.4 fantasy points in both of his game so far this season, even a performance half as good would not qualify as a cash-game disaster.

Latavius Murray's involvement in the passing game has eliminated any game-script concerns he may have had, and he's still somewhat cheap for an RB whose proven to be one of the most reliable in the early weeks. James Starks will be a no-brainer chalk play if Eddie Lacy is ruled out before Sunday, but with the Packers playing on Monday night, there's some risk to the pick, even at minimum salary. He would be worth a shot in tournaments even if Lacy plays, however, as he'll still likely see 10-15 carries. If Lacy is out, it might be tough to build a winning tournament lineup without Starks.

Matt Jones is an option for anybody playing Thursday tournaments, although he'll likely be high-owned with high bust potential if the Redskins don't run the ball 40 times again. Against the Giants, though, they may be in position to do just that. Isaiah Crowell may be pulling away from Duke Johnson in Cleveland, and is worth a cheap tournament shot against the Raiders.

Wide Receiver

1. Allen Robinson ($5,200) at NE
2. Larry Fitzgerald ($5,800) vs. SF
3. Randall Cobb ($7,300) vs. KC
4. Brandon Marshall ($6,200) vs. PHI
5. Jarvis Landry ($6,400) vs. BUF
6. Davante Adams ($5,000) vs. KC
7. Kendall Wright ($5,000) vs. IND
8. James Jones ($4,800) vs. KC
9. John Brown ($5,100) vs. SF
10. Allen Hurns ($3,700) vs. JAX

Seven of these 10 receivers play for just three teams, but that's sometimes how the cookie crumbles in great matchups. The Packers have three on the list against the Chiefs, which tells you a lot about how that game is likely to go. Cobb is a chalky cash play, while Adams and Jones are tournament shots, as both have low floors. Adams' ceiling is probably higher, which is why he's listed first, but Jones likely has a better shot at exceeding value, but by less. Lower ceiling, but more likely to hit it. Make sense? Good.

The Jacksonville Allens are good options this week, even with Blake Bortles at the helm against a Bill Belichick-led defense. Robinson has a high target floor and big-play potential, and New England's secondary has struggled early. Both Robinson and Hurns could be garbage-time gold if the Jags fall behind early, and if they somehow stay close, both will be involved in keeping it that way. Matchup and game flow give both players high upside and a solid floor for their costs this week.

Larry Fitzgerald and John Brown are the final pair of teammates on this list, with Fitzgerald representing the safer cash-game option and Brown serving as the high-upside tournament play. Brown's field-stretching presence has opened up the middle of the field for Fitzgerald, but it just takes one 60-yard touchdown for Brown himself to hit value. A big game is coming, and it wouldn't be shocking to see it come against the 49ers (see: Pittsburgh last week).

Brandon Marshall and Jarvis Landry are also excellent cash plays this week, as Marshall gets his easiest matchup of the season after exceeding value twice already. If Eric Decker sits out Sunday, Marshall should have even more targets funneled his way, and the extra defensive attention shouldn't matter much. Landry has caught eight passes in each game so far this season, and that feels like his floor again this week. The Bills' defense is good, but Landry is still very safe until his price jumps into the high $6000s. Even then, he's still safe.

Kendall Wright will get a bump if Vontae Davis can't play due to a concussion suffered against the Jets, but it's hard to discern whether he's a better cash or tournament play. Marcus Mariota looks like he'll be a QB who spreads the ball around, but also one who can unlock Wright's playmaking potential after the catch with his impressive short and intermediate accuracy, a la Kurt Warner. Wright is probably best suited as a tournament shot, but there are higher-upside options available in that price range like Robinson and Brown.

Tight End

1. Jordan Reed ($3,800) at NYG
2. Jared Cook ($2,800) vs. PIT
3. Heath Miller ($3,500) at STL
4. Jordan Cameron ($3,800) vs. BUF
5. Travis Kelce ($5,800) at GB

Reed is my top play of the week at tight end even with Jon Beason returning to the field Thursday night. He's the only Redskins player I truly trust in my lineup in a game I will be otherwise avoiding for DFS purposes, as Thursdays tend to be disasters. He has six receptions in both games so far this season and possesses legitimate playmaking ability on top of his high target floor.

Jared Cook leads the Rams in receiving through two weeks and if you have the stones to play Nick Foles in a tournament, Cooks is a very cheap way to sneak in some correlation points if he catches a touchdown. Even if he doesn't, it shouldn't take more than three or four catches for him to at least meet value.

Heath Miller has hit double digits in both games so far, although he needed a touchdown to get there on just two targets last week. The weekly floor is somewhat high for Miller but, like many tight ends, he's not 100 percent reliable. Just imagine if he didn't catch a TD last week. He's a decent cash game play this week as he's slightly underpriced and the Rams haven't defended tight ends well this season, but I prefer higher upside for tournaments. Miller is a guy you plug in this week if you choose your tight end last, and he fits under cap, which is likely.

Jordan Cameron has to check out health-wise to be a good play this week and even then, he's more of an upside shot in tournaments. His injury status is a big part of that, and an in-game re-aggravation wouldn't be shocking, but his upside is always high and he could be a quick-hitting option down the seam if Rex Ryan and the Bills bring heavy blitzes.

Travis Kelce will be a good option as long as his price remains around $5,000, and a matchup with Green Bay's injury-ravaged linebacking corps is salivation-worthy. Andy Reid's ever-changing weekly gameplans keep him from being a truly trustworthy option in cash games just yet, but his tournament upside is just as high as Rob Gronkowski's for two-thirds the price.

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