Friday, October 2, 2015

Dissecting DraftKings for NFL Week 4

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Three weeks are in the books in the NFL, and we're starting to get a better idea which teams are good, which are bad and which are somewhere in between. The same goes for individual players and matchup data, which makes it slightly easier to project player performance. I say slightly because, if it were easy, we'd all be millionaires. Alas, that just isn't the case, and some data is still skewed by one good or bad performance.

There will be a slight adjustment to the format of this post for this week, and hopefully it's the last one and this can stay as is from here on out. Who knows, though, my brain may continue to come up with new ideas. I cashed in all my cash games last week for a nice, healthy double up, so hopefully you used some of my picks!


Cash Games

1. Aaron Rodgers ($7,900) at SF
2. Russell Wilson ($7,100) vs. DET
3. Tyrod Taylor ($5,800) vs. NYG 

In general, I tend to pay up at quarterback in cash games. A value bust at RB or WR is usually palatable because those plays cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $4,000. A QB bust at $5,000 or $6,000 does far more damage to your cash lineups. Just ask Nick Foles. That leads me to Aaron Rodgers.

Rodgers may not be playing at home, but he gets to face a 49ers secondary that has been destroyed by Ben Roethlisberger and Carson Palmer over the past two weeks, albeit away from San Francisco. Palmer would've had a much bigger statline than 311 yards and two touchdowns had the game not been decided early. Rodgers is as safe as they come this week, but I'm not sure the upside is there for tournaments at his price point.

Russell Wilson has a nice matchup against the Lions, whose defense hasn't been the same without Ndamukong Suh this season. Like Rodgers, Wilson doesn't quite have the per-dollar upside we want in a tournament play, but his rushing ability (137 yards in three games) adds almost five points per week to his floor. Detroit is 25th in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks through three games.

Picking Tyrod Taylor goes against my general cash-game strategy, but he's the only quarterback this week who checks every box when it comes to a potential high-scoring game, a great matchup and an appealing price point. LeSean McCoy and Sammy Watkins may be hurt, but Karlos Williams (more on him later) shouldn't have a problem picking up the slack on the ground, and Watkins has been mostly quiet this season. Taylor is another QB whose rushing ability (96 yards in three games) helps buoy his floor.


1. Tyrod Taylor ($5,800) vs. NYG
2. Andy Dalton ($5,900) vs. KC
3. Derek Carr ($5,300) at CHI

Taylor's appeal was just stated, and he's also a top-notch tournament play this week. Pair him with tight end Charles Clay or wide receiver Percy Harvin, or both if you're feeling real frisky. Andy Dalton gets a Chiefs secondary that has been decimated this season, and while they get Sean Smith back, he may be limited and they lost Phillip Gaines to a season-ending injury. Dalton still has plenty of weapons, and he'll be in great position to use them. Both A.J. Green and Marvin Jones are good options for a stack with Dalton.

Derek Carr is the cheapest option of these three, and present similar upside as Dalton and Taylor against the Bears' secondary. The Raiders historically haven't traveled well, but Carr and company rolled the Browns on the East Coast last weekend and could be on their way to bucking that trend. Carr and Amari Cooper make for an outstanding tournament stack.

Running Back

Cash Games

1. Karlos Williams ($3,400) vs. NYG
2. Frank Gore ($4,700) vs. JAX
3. Melvin Gordon ($4,900) vs. CLE
4. Devonta Freeman ($5,200) vs. HOU
5. Eddie Lacy ($6,900) at SF

Karlos Williams will be the chalk play at RB this week, and he's nearly unfadeable, creating the highest RB score in my algorithm so far this season. I wasn't a huge fan of his talent coming out of Florida State, but he's performed nicely in Buffalo in a change-of-pace role and gets a brutal Giants' run defense this week as a home favorite. He checks all the boxes

Frank Gore is another runner who checks all the boxes, just with a higher price. Even if Andrew Luck sits out Sunday, it's tough to see the Jaguars being able to stop Gore even with a heightened focus on him. His volume will only rise, and a second straight 20-point fantasy performance isn't outside the realm of possibilities. Gore is an excellent play whether or not Luck is on the field.

Melvin Gordon is another top play this week, as the Chargers host the Browns, who have allowed a 90-yard rusher in every game this season, including Dexter McCluster in Week 2. Yes, Dexter McCluster. A 100-yard game with a touchdown isn't far-fetched for the explosive Gordon, although Danny Woodhead will remain involved in the offense.

Devonta Freeman exploded last week and is still priced reasonably, although a matchup with the Texans' solid run defense limits his upside. He stills contributes in the passing game and has a high touch floor, but his matchup is the reason he's not higher on this list.

Eddie Lacy escaped Week 3 fully healthy after splitting the load with James Starks; don't expect him to give up another 17 carries this week. The Packers are favored and the 49ers' run defense is just a porous as their pass defense, plus Lacy's price has dropped $600 from Week 1. He's the same player he was then, so take advantage of the injury discount while it's there.


1. Karlos Williams ($3,400) vs. NYG
2. Melvin Gordon ($4,900) vs. CLE
3. Frank Gore ($4,700) vs. JAX
4. Mark Ingram ($6,000) vs. DAL
5. Lance Dunbar ($3,600) at NO

There are many situations where I like to fade the chalk play in tournaments, especially when I'm not a huge fan of the player. Williams is not one of those situations this week, and you'll likely see his name all over the top 25 teams in any tournament. I have Gordon at No. 2 even though 20 touches may be his ceiling, because he could turn that into 150 yards and two touchdowns. If Luck misses Week 4 though, you could justify Gore over Gordon.

I often mention "checking all the boxes," and Ingram is a player that does just that, although it's muted this week. The Saints are a small home favorite in a game that projects to be slightly higher-scoring than average, he's still a bit underpriced and Dallas got gashed by Freeman last week, who's an inferior runner to Ingram. I'm also expected him to go somewhat underowned, and a 100-yard, two-TD game could be in the cards as long as Drew Brees plays. If he doesn't, Ingram is not a recommended contrarian play.

Sticking with the Cowboys-Saints game, the game script outlined above also benefits Lance Dunbar, who turned 10 receptions into 100 yards last week. Brandon Weeden will likely rely heavily on Dunbar once again thanks to his uninspiring receiving targets, and the Saints linebackers aren't a group that is likely to be able to hang with Dunbar out of the backfield.

Wide Receiver

Cash Games

1. Randall Cobb ($7,400) at SF
2. Donte Moncrief ($5,000) vs. JAX
3. A.J. Green ($7,600) vs. KC
4. Amari Cooper ($6,300) at CHI
5. Stevie Johnson ($4,400) vs. CLE

Randall Cobb is in play as a cash-game target almost every week, as his floor is high with Rodgers at quarterback and consistent involvement in the red zone. He also gets to face off with Tramaine Brock, who has allowed 13 receptions for 180 yards and a touchdown on 18 targets this season. Cobb will also move around the formation, and this isn't the game to expect him to slow down. His price should settle in around $8,000 eventually but until then, ride the wave.

Donte Moncrief is in play only if Luck plays Sunday, as he won't be a high-floor option with Matt Hasselbeck running the show. With Luck in the lineup, though, Moncrief has hit value every week this season and doesn't face a tough task this week against the Jags. For all the Colts' talk of getting Andre Johnson more involved, it's doubtful any of that will take away from the vastly superior talent in Moncrief. That was weird to say.

A.J. Green was high on my list last week and if you played him, you most likely won your games. He's a big reason why my cash teams did so well last week with 10 receptions for 227 yards and two touchdowns and a relatively low ownership percentage. This week should be no different, as the Chiefs have nobody that can stop Green. Few teams do. Expect another big week, but more people will be on him.

Amari Cooper has at least seven receptions and 109 yards receiving in his past two games against the beatable Ravens and Browns' secondaries. Heading to Chicago this week, the Bears' don't pose any more of a challenge than the last two teams the Raiders' burgeoning offense has faced. Cooper will be chalk this week, but it's easy to see why.

Stevie Johnson doesn't have a ton of upside, but his floor at $4,400 is appealing as cash-game filler. Even in a poor three-catch, 46-yard game last week, his 7.6 fantasy points weren't far off value for his price tag, and he draws a better matchup this week against Cleveland rather than Minnesota. Joe Haden will be shadowing Keenan Allen, who is prone to disappearing, which may lead Philip Rivers to look Johnson's way a bit more often.


1. Donte Moncrief ($5,000) vs. JAX
2. James Jones ($5,300) at SF
3. Marvin Jones ($3,800) vs. KC
4. Allen Hurns ($3,900) at IND
5. A.J. Green ($7,600) vs. KC

Again, Moncrief is 100 percent dependent on Luck's status. Even though he's a chalky play, every tournament-winning team you see usually has about half their roster filled with chalk. Sometimes the best plays are just that, and don't require any overthinking.

While Cobb is the recommended cash-game play in San Francisco, James Jones is the high-upside tournament option in the Packers' offense. It's tough to find 30-point upside in the low-$5,000 range, but Jones had 29.9 last week in a similarly juicy matchup. You can fade Jones too considering he'll be popular with Davante Adams out and has a low floor, but if he goes off, he's the type of guy that makes a profitable tournament team.

Marvin Jones is an excellent stack option with Dalton this week, and I wouldn't even try to push you off a Dalton-Green-Jones stack against the Chiefs. I'm not worried about Dalton laying the egg he's well-known for against a non-division foe, and you won't find a player who can hit 100 yards with multiple scores under $4,000 very often. Dalton's past keeps Marvin Jones below James Jones here, but you can argue for either without being wrong.

Allen Hurns is another under-appreciated player and at a similar price to Jones, he provides the upside for a long touchdown, even if it comes in garbage time. I'd play Hurns regardless of Luck's status, as Vontae Davis should at least hold Allen Robinson down from a huge day. The rest of the Colts' secondary is extremely porous.

Green has as much weekly upside as any receiver in the game, so he's a nice target in the $7,000 range rather than paying up for Julio Jones or Odell Beckham Jr. Cooper isn't listed here, but makes for a great stack if you decide to use Derek Carr in a tournament lineup. Again, chalk isn't always a bad thing in a big tournament.

Tight End

Cash Games

1. Charles Clay ($3,300) vs. NYG
2. Martellus Bennett ($4,500) vs. OAK
3. Jason Witten ($4,400) at NO

Charles Clay is going to be a popular play this week, but he's easily the top cash option on the board. He's paid off his price in every game so far and while his big game last week can be attributed to revenge against his former Dolphins team, he gets a boost this week with Sammy Watkins out of the lineup. The Giants don't defend tight ends well, if at all, so lock Clay in as a cheap top-eight option and move along.

If you don't trust Clay and/or the Bills, Bennett is viable this week even with Jimmy Clausen at quarterback. He only caught four passes for 15 yards last week, but that was against the stingy Seahawks. Last week, Browns tight end Gary Barnidge destroyed the Raiders' defense with Josh McCown at the helm. Bennett is far better than Barnidge, and I'm not sure Clausen is that much worse than McCown; they're both awful. There's a solid floor here.

It's easy to make arguments against Clay and Bennett, more so Bennett, and for those who want to shy away from them, Jason Witten is a good option. He's scored at least 12.5 fantasy points in each of his three games so far, and while Brandon Weeden caps Witten's upside, he might actually raise his floor due to Weeden's inability to do anything well besides check down. The Saints don't have a linebacker or safety to make Witten a risky play.


1. Charles Clay ($3,300) vs. NYG
2. Jimmy Graham ($6,000) vs. DET
3. Greg Olsen ($5,400) at TB

Clay checks in as the top option for both cash games and tournaments, as his high floor comes with good price-point upside as well. Jimmy Graham has a good matchup with Detroit, although the likely return of linebacker DeAndre Levy puts a slight damper on his matchup, although Levy may not see a full complement of snaps.

Greg Olsen could be highly owned after last week's explosion, but many players like to go cheap at tight end and spend up elsewhere. The Bucs have been good against tight ends so far this season, but they've only faced one decent one in Delanie Walker. And Walker had three catches for 43 yards and a touchdown despite not playing the entire game in Week 1.


1. Seahawks ($3,700) vs. DET
2. Cardinals ($3,400) vs. STL
3. Broncos ($3,300) vs. MIN
4. Colts ($2,800) vs. JAX

The Seahawks are easily the chalk cash play on defense this week, with a Lions offense that is struggling with poor line play coming into Seattle. The Cardinals are actually my preferred tournament play, however, as less people will choose them and they have arguably a higher touchdown upside, as seen last week. Nick Foles is known for scoring often for the other team.

The Broncos defense could pitch a shutout of the Vikings if they keep Adrian Peterson in check, and sacks could come in abundance, but Teddy Bridgewater is less likely than Foles or Matthew Stafford to throw a pick-six. The Colts are an option if Luck plays, as they may be playing with a nice lead at home against another pick-six machine in Blake Bortles. Unlike the first three teams listed here, however, they aren't actually a good defense in real life, so this is strictly a tournament play.

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