Here we go! For some of you, you are getting ready to make a playoff push in your seasonal or dynasty leagues. For others, you are still striving to hit on that GPP, and I know it’s getting tough out there, especially when we are contending with the NFL trying to imitate the UFC on the field on top of injuries that have unpredictable effects on performance. My job here is to provide you information and insight to make daily fantasy a little more predictable.
What I bring to you this week are just high-cost and lower-cost picks in each positional category. Additionally, I will be providing a graphic based on red zone data being used to focus my suggestions for the week. All pricing will be based on Draft Kings.
Red Zone Math
Below is the graphic mentioned above:
Here is a breakdown of the column headers:
- ExpTDs – The expected touchdowns based on the overlap (average) of the offense red zone touchdowns in the “Team” column and this week’s opponent’s red zone touchdowns allowed in the “Opp” column. This overlap is divided by the average number of games played between the teams in this match up to get a per game expectation.
- ExpAtt – The expected amount of attempts based on the same overlap described above
- OffTDs – Actual season TDs scored by offense
- DefTDs – Actual season TDs allowed by opposing defense
- TDOverlap – The raw average of TDs between the “Team” offense and the opposing defense
- ExpRu% – a ratio of red zone rush attempts by the offense and defensive red zone snaps against a rush by the opposing defense to total red zone plays
- ExpPa% – Same as above, but focused on pass attempts
With this in mind you can utilize the data in this graphic to help make lineup choices.
Games with a high projected total are normally prime hunting ground for a great QB for the week. This served us well last week on the Jared Goff pick where he was the top scoring QB, and I will be going back to the well.
Jared Goff – $6700 vs Texans
This week Goff faces Houston who struggled to stop Brissett (19.5 points) and Hilton (34.5 points). The Rams have looked like a dominant team so far this year, and it is conceivable that McVay keeps the Rams on this tear with the same barrage of scoring we have seen. Vegas seems to agree with this given the Rams have an implied total of 29 points. While he is $1200 more than last week, don’t be phased as the Texans secondary is less than inspiring giving up the 4th most points to QBs and the 10th most to WRs. Solidifying that perception is the fact that the Texans are 16th against the pass in DVOA. Reference the red zone math graphic and you will notice the Rams have the second best expected red zone TDs this week along with nearly 10 expected attempts (about 3 red zone trips). The teams where Goff has scored 2 or more passing TDs have been against teams that are currently all bottom 15 in passing DVOA (Cowboys – 19th, Giants – 26th, 49ers – 27th) so he should be able to do it again.
Dak Prescott – $7300 @ Falcons
Dak is a completely chalk play this week in a game with the highest Vegas-projected total at 50.5. However, the red zone data indicates that this could be a solid match up probably better suited for cash games. At the highest expected red zone TDs and attempts for the week, this has got to be a hit. In 6 of 9 games so far this season he has multiple passing TDs, and 4 of those 6 games included a rushing TD. Now that it looks like Dez is going to play this week, we can start Dak with a lot of confidence. Dez has the most red zone targets this season (15), but the TD conversions are lacking (4 TDs). Dallas is not favored in this game and if the wise guys are right, game script could force Dak to put the team on his back.
Ryan Fitzpatrick – $4900 vs Jets
This may seem like a desperation shot in the dark, but consider this play because it is cheap and we have seen that Fitz can be serviceable, or even surprising, when filling in as a backup. The Jets have yeilded five 20+ point performances to wide receivers and two such performances to QBs. Combine this with a close projected game and we could actually be in for a surprise high scoring affair. What makes this scenario more feasible is the fact that the Jets have given up the 9th most points to receivers and quarterbacks. The red zone data projects almost two red zone TDs for the Bucs, and they should pass close to 60% of the time in scoring position. This may be one side of a solid stack this weekend.
There are many wide receivers to consider all across the price range. My eyes tell me that I like Robby Anderson and Desean Jackson. Match ups dictate that Antonio Brown and Julio could be this week’s free square. Hopkins is attractive especially if he maintains the high amount of targets from Savage. Will Fuller is even interesting as he is tied for first in target/TD reception efficiency (3 TDs on 12 targets) when the line of scrimmage is between the opponent 49 and 20 yard line. Dez should be a solid cash play this weekend in the stack with Dak, but there should be some crazy value in a couple of these lower cost players.
Marvin Jones – $6200 vs Browns
Looking at fantasy points against data the Browns don’t look bad, but rather good against WRs allowing the 8th most points. On the other hand they are 8th worst against QBs. Why is their this perception that we should play WRs against the Browns? DVOA rates them last against the primary receiver, and they have yielded three 20+ point performance so there is reason to expect that Marvin will perform well as the primary outside option. Also consider that the Browns are tied for 2nd worst having given up 17 red zone TDs (Titans and Jets also tied). Detroit has been able to produce a 20+ point receiver five times so far this season, so let’s make this week number 6!
Mohamed Sanu – $5100 vs Cowboys
While Julio looks like the obvious chalk play, consider Mohamed Sanu. The red zone data suggests that Atlanta will get about 2 TDs from this area of the field. Sanu has more targets in the red zone (14) than Julio (13) and his reception rate is crazy with 12. According to Pro Football Reference he has no TDs from here, but you can imagine that Matt Ryan trusts him in this area. Looking at the potential play selection, Atlanta is likely to lean on the pass as well. Dallas has been performing better at stopping the run lately, as they were able to compel Andy Reid to throw the ball rather than trust Hunt to get into a rhythm. Maybe that was just Andy though as Football Outsiders data has Dallas ranked 19th against the pass and 30th against the run. In two of the last three games Sanu had 6 receptions each on 17 total targets between those two games.
Cooper Kupp – $4600 vs Texans
Yes, last week Robert Woods was the better player last week with 4 receptions on 5 targets for 70 yards and 2 touchdowns. But let’s look at the red zone targets. Kupp has 13 red zone targets this year 3 of his 7 receptions in this area have gone for TDs. Woods is more of a big play guy as he only has 4 targets in the red zone. With the red zone data suggesting the Rams will have at least two TDs in this coveted area of the field, I would lean toward players getting the opportunities. Gurley will surely be involved down there, but getting a cheap investment to stack with Goff who has been playing well just makes sense. Houston is 30th versus WR2s and 29th versus slot receivers in DVOA so that is extremely encouraging. Just add to that Houston giving up 10th most points (34.7 ppg) to WRs which isn’t awesome, but it shows this defense can be had.
For running backs this week there are some obvious chalk plays in LeVeon Bell, Zeke (but his suspension has been upheld) as they both face defenses 21st or worse in defensive rush DVOA. Melvin Gordon is intruging being that he faces the 31st ranked rush defense in DVOA, but the challenge is the Jags are top 12 in fantasy points against to the running back. Game script will heavily determine how this pans out for him. Jordan Howard is another intriguing play with the opposite problem where Green Bay is ranked favorably against the run, but in fantasy points against they are 7th worst. Aside from the easy calls everything else seems to have questions, but here are a few options to consider for Sunday’s main DFS slate.
Alvin Kamara – $6900 @ Bills
Last week many of you may have done like me and selected Mark Ingram just to watch your lineup lose all hope of winning a GPP. It’s early to say Kamara has taken over, but he has 100 total touches so far this season. His per game touch rate appears to be increasing as well. Red zone data suggests the Saints will be pretty balanced, but lucky for us Kamara is seeing almost as much play in the red zone as Ingram (16 touches to 21 respectively). The opposition is 20th vs pass catching RBs in DVOA, and ranked 21st in giving up fantasy points to running backs. Given that Kamara and Ingram have all but one marker of a top 5 performance (Favored, 16+ touches per game, 3+ receptions per game, opponent is 17th rush DVOA, and a high implied total) so this is one of the few weeks where I will chase the points.
Alfred Morris – $5500 @ Falcons
With the Zeke news, this is an obvious no-brainer. He is a cheap investment into a Dallas offensive line that has looked almost as good as it did last year. We have seen him flash a few times in relief duty of Elliott. If we remember back to his rookie year in Washington, Morris could be a pretty consistent downhill runner. While he is not as dynamic as Zeke, at this price sign me up for the production that is sure to come. The red zone opportunities should be present as mentioned above when discussing Dak, especially against a defense that is 9th worst (25.2 fppg) against running backs.
Matt Forte – $4400 / Bilal Powell – $4000 @ Buccaneers
Tampa Bay looks like a dumpster fire to my eyes and in DVOA (31st against the pass, 22nd against the run, and worse than 19th against all WR positions) and they are matched up against the surpise that has been the 2017 New York Jets. Josh McCown is getting it done and Forte has shown that he still has it. Powell has been pretty solid at times this season as well and looking at the total touches per game it appears almost like the Jets are alternating who they feature. That would mean that it is Powell’s week to perform. This could be a game where both backs blow up as the Bucs are 3rd worst against fantasy running backs. This game is projected to be lower scoring which seems to favor the running backs if the total holds true. At the same time, McCown and the Jets could continue to surprise and dominate this reeling Bucs team.
If you are playing the prime time slate, please don’t overthink the tight end position as there is only one right choice in Gronk. He has put up a 20+ point performance 3 times this year, and Denver has given up two such performances so far. However, as mentioned before he is not available on the main featured Draft Kings slate.
Eric Ebron – $3100 vs Cleveland
While this may seem gross to many of you, it is worth noting that the Browns have given up two 20+ point performances to tight ends this season. The Browns are also second to last in points given up to TEs, yielding 18.6 fppg to the position. The ducks keep lining up when looking at defense DVOA against the tight end where the Browns are ranked 30th. The real bugaboo is Eric Ebron himself. He has hardly been inspiring this year with only one TD, but he has more red zone targets than a few notable names including ASJ, Evan Engram, Golden Tate, and Jordan Reed just to name a few. As mentioned earlier (see Marvin Jones), Cleveland has given up 17 red zone TDs.
Garrett Celek – $2500 vs Giants
The Giants are the only team worse than the Browns against tight ends at 19.5 fppg. Celek is simply the cheapest option who also happens to have the best match up. San Francisco actually has a solid number as far as expected number of red zone attempts. Since C.J Beathard took over the starting job in week four, tight ends have been targeted 8.2 times per game. Now that Kittle is out, it is conceivable that Celek will receive all of those targets now provided he can work himself open on the field.
For defense selections this week it seems to make sense to leverage the red zone data where it can quickly identify limited opportunities, and thus limited TDs, making our selection quick and easy. Still, we must look at some of these selections in context of other indicators.
Carolina Panthers – $3500 vs Dolphins
Between red zone data and the lowest Vegas-implied team total Carolina should be the selection, but Miami’s offense seemed to regain some life, albeit against the hapless Raiders defense. The Dolphins’ red zone opportunities are projected to be the least of any team this week at 6-7. As the 6th most expensive defense facing an offense that gives up the 6th most points to D/STs, this should be a solid match up. Here’s to hoping that Cutler is himself, chucking up a couple of picks. Unfortunately this match up is not in the main slate.
Chicago Bears – $3000 vs Packers
While Pittsburgh and Jacksonville are the two chalk defenses on this week’s main slate, we must also consider the Bears defense. We all saw Brett Hundley on Monday, and we are probably beyond hope for the Packers’ offense to ever produce anything until Aaron Rodgers returns. The Bears are 5th against fantasy signal callers and 13th against receivers. Honestly, the Bears defense seems to be underrated as they seem to get push in the trenches putting pressure on the quarterback. They should be able to make Hundley uncomfortable and force some errant throws. Hundley has scored 0 TDs since the Minnesota game where he took over for Aaron. At this price we should be able to benefit greatly and make room in the salary cap for other higher priced players.