I feel like this week could be one of those weeks that when people look back on it, we should have realized some of the obvious plays but we just missed them. It is one of the most unpredictable weeks of the season so far, even though there are some powerhouses that players should be looking at every week such as McCaffrey and Michael Thomas. The real trick is finding the value plays on this slate, and trying to find the players who most people overlooked when locking in their lineups. The good news is that there is also some value plays that should allow you to fit in these powerhouses into your lineups. Brian Hill may be the closest thing to 100% owned on this slate in cash games that we have seen all year at only $5,900 salary and I will probably buy into that hype as well. This slate should be extremely fun and unpredictable and I wish everyone out there good luck this week!
Matt Ryan $7,600 Matt Ryan came back from an injury last week and although the Falcons ended up beating a red-hot Saints’ team, Ryan did not produce for fantasy as high as DFS players may have wanted him to. He ended the game with roughly 15 points on FanDuel which was so low because the Falcons were trying to hold onto a lead and ran the ball more than they normally do. This week the Falcons take on the Carolina Panthers who have been pretty good so far against the pass this year. The reason to play Ryan this week is that the Falcons have been throwing the ball more than any other team in the league this year with 44.4 passing attempts per game. The Falcons should not be ahead like they were last week against the Saints, so they more than likely will be forced to throw the ball more. Ryan also is priced down to $7,600 which is a mid-tier price and is great for a quarterback who is going to see a ton of passing volume in this game.
Josh Jacobs $8,000 Josh Jacobs and the Oakland Raiders are taking on the Bengals this week. Now I know what everyone is saying, $8,000 for Jacobs seems like a high price tag to pay for a player that doesn’t even catch the ball. There are a couple of reasons that Jacobs will be almost 100% owned in my cash game lineups this week. First of all, pass catching is not as important for running backs on FanDuel because it is only 0.5 ppr. This is why running backs that see an immense amount of volume and score touchdowns are better plays on FanDuel than a site like DraftKings. Secondly, Jacobs has seen a lot of volume since taking over the backfield and the good news is that the Raiders have been surprisingly good this year which creates more scoring opportunities for their running backs. Jacobs has had 168 carries this year which is #9 in the league, and he also has 34 red zone touches so far this year which is #6 this year. The last reason I will be playing Jacobs this week is that the Raiders take on the Bengals. I am fully convinced that the Bengals are the worst team in the NFL this year, and have no chance of winning this game. This means that the Raiders should have positive game script and will be able to give Jacobs an enormous amount of touches to kill the clock.
Jamison Crowder $6,500 Jamison Crowder is a solid mid-tier receiver that you can rely on to score enough fantasy points to put your lineups in a good position to cash. Crowder has been Sam Darnold’s go-to target since Darnold came back from injury in week six. Crowder plays the possession receiver role in a Jets’ offense that more often than not dinks and dunks the ball down the field. Since Darnold came back, Crowder has been a top 20 wide receiver in three of their last five games and has also topped 80 yards in all three of those games as well. He did have some hiccups against New England in week seven and the Jaguars in week eight, but those are two great defenses that can shut down any wide receiver. Luckily, DFS players will not have to worry about Crowder being shut down this week as they take on the Washington Redskins who have allowed plenty of production to wide receivers so far this season. Crowder is also always a threat to take a short pass for a big gain and possibly a touchdown as he has 222 yards after the catch which is #12 in the league at the position.
Jared Cook $6,000 The tight end position so far this year has had somewhat of a roulette feel to it week to week. There has only been four or five solid tight ends every week so far this season, and more than likely you are going to be paying $6,500+ on FanDuel to be able to play those guys. Realistically, I would much rather be paying more money for my running backs and wide receivers than trying to pay a high salary for a guy like Mark Andrews. This is where Cook is going to be great for DFS players trying to fit players like McCaffrey into their lineups. Cook is only $6,000 this week which is still somewhat pricey to fit into your lineups, but it is also a value for a tight end who has scored more than 10 points the past three weeks on a great offense. Jared Cook may not have much upside, but most DFS players are going to understand that when putting him into their lineups. Cook is seeing 5.3 targets per game, but has seen 6 or more in the last three of four. You should not expect Cook to score you 20 points this week, but it is safe to expect a floor of at least 8-10 points against the Buccaneers who are a poor defense against the pass.
Deshaun Watson $8,200 Making the decision to play Deshaun Watson this week in GPPs comes down to the simple fact that I want a piece of this Houston vs. Baltimore game. The reason that I decided to play Watson is that he is cheaper than Lamar Jackson at $8,800 and the Houston side is also going to be so much lower owned than the Baltimore side. Deshaun also provides almost as much upside as Jackson in this game. He may not have quite the same amount of rushing upside, but the best part is that he normally has more passing volume than Jackson does on a weekly basis. Watson has 279 rushing yards so far this season, to go along with 5 rushing touchdowns as well, so there is no reason he cannot provide you with a great ceiling coming from rushing alone. To go along with his rushing upside, he also has thrown for 2432 passing yards and 18 passing touchdowns, which is #3 in the league. This game also has one of the highest totals of the week at 51 ½ which means that there should be plenty of scoring in this game on both sides.
Dalvin Cook $8,600 Cook allows DFS players to jam a high upside play into their lineups at a low ownership percentage. After what we saw last week from McCaffrey, most players are still going to be playing McCaffrey in their lineups instead of Cook to get the guaranteed 25 points. I am going to pivot to Cook in my GPP lineups because of such a lower ownership percentage. Obviously, he may not have the upside that McCaffrey has, but he still is easily one of the best and most productive running backs in the league. Cook is in the midst of a breakout season this year since he took over the workhorse role in the Vikings’ backfield. His workload so far this year has been one of the highest in the league with 203 carries which is ranked #1 in the league, and 40 receptions which ranks #6 so far this season. Cook also is one of the most talented backs in the league with 72 evaded tackles so far this year which is 7.2 per game and is ranked #1 in the entire league. I would project Cook to be no more than 25% owned this week as most people are going to flock toward Christian McCaffrey, and Cook’s matchup against the Denver Broncos is a favorable one for him this week.
Julio Jones $7,800 So far this season, Julio Jones has had a down year so far this season on a struggling 2-7 Atlanta Falcons team. The same point that I made for Matt Ryan in the cash game portion of this article stands with Jones as well. The Falcons have thrown the ball more than any other team so far per game this season at 44.4 times per game. Even on a down year, Jones still has 791 receiving yards and over 1000 total target distance which is #4 in the league. Jones has shown that he can have a giant blowup game at any point, which makes him a great GPP play any week. FanDuel also decided this week that Jones does not decide a price tag above $8,000 which is crazy to me because he is arguably the best wide receiver in the league at this point. The matchup against the Panthers may scare some people because of how good their defense has been lately, but this week the Panthers’ secondary has been banged up which means that Jones may have a favorable matchup instead of having a negative one. I will gladly take advantage of Jones at only $7,800 and would expect him to be somewhat low owned because most players are going to be going after the Tampa Bay receivers or Michael Thomas this week.
Zach Ertz $6,200 Zach Ertz is a scary play this week as the Eagles are taking on the New England Patriots, but sometimes in GPPs you want to look at your lineup and be scared because that usually means that the players you picked will be low owned on the week. Obviously the New England Patriots have been the most dominant defense so far this season in every aspect, but if there is one player on the Eagles’ offense to have a big game, it would be Zach Ertz. He has been the focal offense of the Eagles so far this year on offense, and even though they have not been great, Ertz has still seen 74 targets so far this season which is #2 in the league and he also has 527 receiving yards which is #5 at his position. With that type of volume, he has a chance every week to go off for a high yardage total and a couple of touchdowns. Speaking of touchdowns, that’s where Ertz’s production has fallen off this year is that he has not scored as many touchdowns as last season when he was great for fantasy. Touchdowns are not a predictable stat, and since Ertz has seen so little of them so far this year, there is always the chance that he will see positive regression. He also should be fairly low owned this week even at a discount because he is playing the New England Patriots.