NFL DFS Deep Dive: Week 4

Week 3 Review

As one might expect when searching for DFS value plays, we had some real boom-bust moments in Week 3. A good reminder of how hard it can be to dive deep and come up with pearls. Closer to the surface we hit big with Justin Herbert and Kirk Cousins both returning almost five times their cost/points ratio. Justin Fields hurt many of us in the DFS community, along with plenty of my best ball teams. In the run-up to last week I bought into the idea that Matt Nagy would script a good game for Fields in his full debut. Sadly it seems like Nagy is intent on getting fired this season and didn’t use Fields in any way that would benefit the rookie. 

Alexander Mattison was a smash play for me, despite some negativity in the fantasy community I believed strongly the upside was in the details of previous starts and he rewarded us with an RB4 overall performance. Javonte Williams had a fantastic week that came oh so close to an incredible one. Fumbles inside the five-yard line aren’t going to make anyone happy though and with Melvin Gordon still playing well, the breakout may take time. Ty’Son Williams’ unexpected touch share of 37.5% seemed like a strange decision by the Ravens in a spot that looked nailed on for a good game. 

At wide receiver, injuries got Sterling Shepard, Marquise Brown played with butter on his gloves and Darnell Mooney managed just one catch on four targets. A complete letdown was avoided by Marvin Jones putting up 12.2 points. 

Lastly, tight end continued to be a tricky position to pay down for, with Hockenson and Pitts combining for just 8.5 points. On Twitter, on Sunday afternoon I remarked that I was cooling on Hockenson with Jimmy Smith returning to the Ravens defence. I held firm though and played him in my cash lineup and between that and Justin Fields, it led to a disappointing score. Thankfully the Play of The Week, Tyler Higbee, came in strong with 15 points, good enough for TE5 at just $4000. 

Great plays (3x$) – 16

Good plays (2x$)- 6

Bad plays (below 2x$) – 20


Week 4

Looking at this slate as a whole it’s clear to see the games that will attract ownership. Particularly the Rams taking on the Cardinals looks like one that people will have to approach strategically. Derek Henry is the highest-priced RB at $8800 and is attainable. The receiver position is stacked with lots of big names on the slate. I’d expect people to aim for four-wide receiver builds a majority of the time. With nine games in the early window, try to consider pivot points for players in the later games if your team is in a pinch and needs that low owned hail mary play to rejuvenate it. You can check out my Stack of the Week article on my site, nflbestball.co.uk, where you can also follow along with my $100 Bankroll challenge.

Quarterbacks

Jalen Hurts $6900 vs Kansas City Chiefs – 54.5 over/under

Of all the surprises this year has brought, the Chiefs defence stinking has definitely caught me off guard. According to Football Outsiders DVOA (defence value over adjusted), the Chiefs rank dead last in both pass and run defence. Until they prove otherwise we have to approach the Chiefs matchups as a defence to target. I haven’t been a huge believer in Jalen Hurts to date, but the Chiefs were gashed by Lamar Jackson on the ground for 6.7 yards per carry and if the Eagles wish to run a dual-threat system, it’s time to make defences suffer. Through three games Hurts averages 8.3 rush attempts per game and a healthy 6.8 per attempt, he leads the league in scrambles with 15. I would love to see him challenge the Chiefs like this whilst also testing a secondary that outside of Tyrann Mathieu, offers little to stop the passing game. Hurts has four quality options in Smith, Reagor, Goedert and Ertz, the throws he makes to them result in good plays and it shows in how he’s leading the NFL in yards after the catch per passing attempt with 7.8. A strong performance here would go a long way to quieting critics, including myself.

Sam Darnold $6000 @ Dallas Cowboys – 50.5 over/under

In Week 1 I wrote up Sam Darnold taking on the Jets and stated that I didn’t believe we’d be looking to play him too many times this year. Well, Sam Darnold isn’t the Sam Darnold of the New York Jets anymore. Free of Adam Gase’s woeful management Darnold appears to be discovering a new lease of life in Carolina, where he ranks as QB11 in points per game. Darnold has thrown for more yardage through three games than any three-game spell in New York. Not only that but Sam Darnold is tied for the lead in rushing touchdowns through three games. It seems fair that we approach Darnold’s games with an open mind going forward. The Cowboys have so far been as expected, an entertaining team who might just lack the pieces on defence to go all the way. Their high rate of play has seen them have the sixth most plays in the league so far and they rank top in situational pass rate at 62.2%. The Panthers defence has also been tough against the run allowing just 22.8 fantasy points to running backs through three games.

Matt Ryan $5400 vs Washington Football Team – 47.5 over/under

The Falcon’s have yet to live up to the hopes of many of us who spent the off-season loading up on best ball shares of Calvin Ridley and Kyle Pitts. Arthur Smith hasn’t seemed to figure out the best way to use this team yet. Smith seems to still want to use play-action heavily (joint fifth-highest rate in the league) but isn’t enjoying the same success minus a Derrick Henry type in the backfield.

Matt Ryan features in my Stack of The Week over on nflbestball.co.uk – and here’s an excerpt from that article. 

“Certain situations are worth targeting in DFS and fantasy football and this game ticks boxes for me. Washington is a pass funnel defence, ranking 12th best against rushing attempts, whilst only ranking 30th in the league against quarterbacks. In other words, they’re good at stopping the run, but not good at stopping the pass. The Washington defence has also allowed a league-high 59% of opposition drives to result in a scoring play and they rank bottom seven in points allowed per game (30.7)”

Honourable Mentions

Jameis Winston $5700 v NYG – I like Jameis’s matchup and the idea of this play but all my notes led me away from it. “(Saints 2nd fewest plays in league), conservative play calling. Only completing 41% of deep ball shots. Lowest targets per game (20.3). Leads the league in pass attempts on non-1st downs needing more than 7 yards (52.4) i.e, they’re not moving the ball.”

Dak Prescott $6700 V Panthers – Love Dak, each and every week. “Carolina defence has allowed the fourth-fewest points to QB’s but hasn’t faced tough opposition. Above league average 36.3 targets per game. Mond says playing up-tempo helps the team – good sign it will continue.”

Running Backs

Nyheim Hines $4900 @ Miami Dolphins42.0 over/under

* Play of The Week *

The Miami defence is coasting on reputation despite having given up healthy yardage to running backs over the last three games, despite not facing any studs. I like this matchup for both Jonathan Taylor and Nyheim Hines but it’s Hines’ price and opportunity that stands out. I don’t put a huge amount of stock into Hines out-snapping Taylor in Week 3, but the team has increasingly used Hines in the Red Zone whilst Jonathan Taylor has been one of the worst running backs in the league in that area, posting negative yardage on nine attempts. Hines, well known for his pass-catching ability, faces a Dolphins defence that has allowed 28 running back targets through three games, ranking 5th most in the league. Whilst Taylor saw seven targets in week one since then Hines has out targeted him 8-4. The Colts pass to backs at the fourth-highest rate in the league and I like Hines chances of dominating in that facet this week.

Melvin Gordon $5500 vs Baltimore Ravens – 45.0 over/under

I’m a firm believer in Javonte Williams and have tipped him in this space previously to have good weeks, including last week’s 14.9 points against the Jets. What’s become increasingly clear however is that Melvin Gordon has been motivated to hold onto the RB1 role and the team are in no rush to move him away from it. Whilst Williams eats into the workload each week, Melvin Gordon remains an incredibly efficient back. Out of running backs to start all three games, Gordon ranks 9th in yards per game, averaging 64.3. Furthermore, evidence of his efficiency is his 4.6 yards per carry, which ranks seventh overall for RB’s with 30+ attempts. Gordon also has the eighth-most rushing yards at the position and the team’s confidence in him is clear from the 14 rush attempts per game he averages, which ranks 12th amongst backs to have started all three games. Whilst I don’t often like to belittle my Baltimore Ravens, the tackling this season has been awful. John Harbaugh put it down to a lack of padded practices, due to playing Monday Night Football, Sunday Night Football and then one regular Sunday game. Whether that’s true or not, the Ravens have allowed the 11th most points to running backs in three games. That figure is slightly inflated by last week’s game against Swift and Williams, but if the Broncos can keep this close, Gordon can build up yardage. 

Elijah Mitchell $5400 vs Seattle Seahawks52.5 over/under

I’ll admit it, I could have done with a Trey Sermon breakout last week. My home league is super RB thirsty (Michael Carter went 5.11 in our keeper format). I needed him to break out and save a semi-zero RB type build that I have high hopes for. Unfortunately, just like my plans for Trey Lance, Kyle Shanahan has other ideas. In a week that seemed primed for Sermon with Mitchell missing out due to injury, Kyle Juszczyk out-snapped Sermon, seeing 68.6% of the snaps to Sermon’s 58.6%. Whilst that’s not an entirely fair comparison with Juzczyk often playing blocking duties whilst other backs were involved, there’s no denying that Sermon wasn’t being unleashed by Shanahan and if Mitchell can return this week, he’s in a fantastic matchup. The Seahawks catch a lot of attention for how bad their passing defence is against wide receivers, but really they’re just a terrible defence. The Legion of Boom dominating the NFL is so far behind us now it’s unbelievable that we’re still watching the same Seahawks team under Pete Carroll’s tutelage. The Seahawks have allowed a league-leading 248 yards of receptions to running backs. No other team has allowed over 202 (the Giants). Seattle has also allowed 32 targets to the position, which ranks 2nd worst in the league. Elijah Mitchell has seen a 72% opportunity share in the two games he’s played. If he’s healthy, I like his chances to reemerge with a bang. 

Sony Michel $5200 v Arizona Cardinals – 55.0 over/under

This play is contingent on practice reports for Darrell Henderson. If Henderson plays, I expect both him and Michel to see reasonable workloads, but neither performing as a standout for fantasy. However, if Henderson misses out then we should view Sony Michel as a solid option against an Arizona defence that will allow him more opportunities than a tough Tampa Bay defence did in Week 3. Despite the Buccaneers well earned reputation for stopping the run, Michel posted a not terrible 67 yards. Michel was one of only nine backs to have 70% of a team’s snaps in Week 3 and he picked up five first downs to rank sixth league-wide in that statistic. Michel also equalled his career-high of four targets. Jake Funk had one solitary carry and unless Henderson comes back, Michel will have a good chance to return value here. 

  • Darrell Henderson looks set to play today. If that is the case, I personally won’t be playing Michel. I’d be more tempted by Henderson.

Chuba Hubbard $5900 @ Dallas Cowboys – 50.5 over/under

I’m not overly high on Chuba Hubbard this week, but I wanted to mention him here as I know he’ll be well talked about this week. His usage in Week 3 was encouraging, seeing 11 carries and five targets, in comparison to Royce Freeman’s five carries and one target. Carolina has targeted an RB on 24.8% of throws this season, but it’s fair to ask if that will continue without Christian McCaffery on the end of such targets. My concern is that Freeman will be used more with a long week of practice receiving more reps. The Panthers played Thursday night giving them two extra days of practice before this weekend. Freeman was only signed to the team on September 3rd and I’m always wary of recent additions having more time to integrate and take snaps away. For me, Chuba is a play I won’t be using this week. Keep an eye on practice reports and if insiders suggest he’ll be a workhorse, maybe I’ll revisit. 

The good folks of Underdog expanded on this point excellently in the show below.

Honourable Mentions

Antonio Gibson $6100 v ATL- Like Gibson plenty in this matchup, perhaps a bit expensive for deep-dive value. (73.7 opportunity share). Matched JD in Wk3 for targets. 4th in the league for evaded tackles (via player profiler).

Michael Carter $4500 v Ten The breakout will happen at some point. Ty Johnson saw more snaps 57-43. Carter 12 touches (3 recep) to 8 touches (5 recep). The Jets have no rushing TD’s so far…

Wide Receivers

There’s a great selection of receivers out there this week. I don’t recommend jamming too many cheap options into one lineup unless you really need to, but between the three below and the honourable mentions, one or two should help the construction nicely. 

Robby Anderson $5100 @ Dallas Cowboys – 50.5 over/under

The Cowboys like to play fast and don’t seem to care if they give up points, which in DFS can make them an ideal opponent. Through three games they’ve given up the sixth-most receiving yards in the league to wide receivers (625) and allowed the 8th most targets to the position (67). In Week 3 Sam Darnold locked onto D.J Moore and didn’t seem to get away from him very often. I’m no tape expert but it feels like the Panthers are creating simple routes for Darnold right now and not trying to overload him. The Panthers love Robby Anderson and I can’t believe they plan to keep him out of gameplans for long. Having moved Dan Arnold on to the Jaguars this week more targets and air yards will be available for a player who has a proven connection with Darnold. Despite Terrace Marshall’s hype Anderson still has a far higher average of 65 air yards per game compared to Marshall’s 28. I would expect a lot of people to keep clear of Anderson after last week’s dud, but if you’re playing tournaments and looking for a bring back to a Cowboys stack, I like this differential.

Corey Davis $5000 v Tennessee Titans44.0 over/under

One of these days someone will do a study of revenge game narratives and give us something concrete to base our thoughts upon, until then I’ll continue to give it a moderate amount of attention. Davis’s split from the Titans never felt particularly nasty, the man chose to follow the money as many do and it led to him becoming a team’s out and out WR1. The Titans defence has allowed the third-most yards to wide receivers, giving up 680 through three games, along with the fourth most targets (74). More damning than that for a team coached by a ‘defensive mind’ is the two touchdowns per game average to wide receivers that Tennessee allows. As Adam Koffler (an excellent follow on Twitter – @AdamKoffler ) points out on Twitter, Corey Davis has played very well in games that didn’t feature the Patriots and we shouldn’t be scared of rolling him out here. I like the idea of using him in a correlation with Derek Henry teams. If Henry is seeing lots of work it makes sense that the Jets would be in catch up mode throwing the ball plenty.

Marquez Valdes-Scantling $4300 v Pittsburgh Steelers – 45.5 over/under

RULED OUT – Allen Lazard will be low owned and should see an uptick in targets, including more down field. I’d expect Cobb to play closer to the line of scrimmage and Lazard to be moved about more.

Odell Beckham $5800 v Minnesota Vikings51.5 over/under

As a Ravens fan, I still struggle with the idea that the Browns are good, or that we can expect good things from them, but the winds are changing and despite Baker Mayfield being a poor fantasy option, other pieces on this team still require attention. Beckham’s return showed good signs that he’s fully recovered from his ACL injury, seeing two targets in the Browns first three plays and finishing the day with nine targets. Next up he faces a Minnesota defence that is abysmal against the pass. Despite seeing a league-average 16th most targets to receivers, they’ve allowed the 5th most yardage. In other words, they just can’t stop the pass and the Vikings are allowing an average of two touchdowns per game to receivers. Whilst Cleveland has scored 80% of their touchdowns on the ground so far, I like Beckham to capitalise on this poor defence this week. 

Honourable Mentions

Allen Robinson $5800 v DET (Det allowed 11th most passing yards 538 – to WR). Only 21 receptions for 86 yards so far. I struggle to go back to the Bears right now.

Marquise Brown $5400 v Den – 26.1% target share leader over calendar year which ranks 6th in the league. Ravens lead the league in Adot (11.4). Nobody will play him after a letdown.

James Washington $4100 v GB – pass funnel defence ranked 27th v QB’s whilst 8th v RB’s). Pitt 2nd in the league for targets per game, 43.3. WR’s all banged up. Possible dart throw. *With Chase Claypool ruled out Washington should see near every snap usage.

Tight Ends

As per usual, it gets pretty grim quite quickly at the tight end.

Logan Thomas $4900 v Atlanta Falcons – 47.5 over/under

Logan Thomas sees more usage at tight end than any player in the league. Through three games he remains the only tight end to have played on 100% of team snaps. On those snaps, he has run a route on 97% of QB dropbacks and he’s currently PPR TE7. As detailed elsewhere, this Falcons defence is nothing to be remotely afraid of. On average they’ve allowed one touchdown per game to tight end’s. 

Noah Fant $4300 v Baltimore Ravens45.0 over/under

Much was made of the Ravens defence allowing monster games to both Travis Kelce and Darren Waller ahead of Week 3, at which point they promptly shut down T.J Hockenson, allowing him only two receptions for ten yards. However, with the Bronco’s targeting tight ends on 30.1% of all passing plays and Noah Fant seeing five red-zone targets through three games, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him post good numbers this weekend. If you’re looking for a contrarian correlation, Marquise Brown and Noah Fant make an interesting pairing. 

Mike Gesicki $4000 v Indianapolis Colts – 42.0 over/under

During this off-season, I went on The Fantasy Wildcard podcast and told everyone to sell Mike Gesicki before it was too late. Gesicki has been heavily used out of the slot in Miami and with the arrival of Jaylen Waddle, an elite slot receiver, it made sense Gesicki wouldn’t see as much usage. During Tua’s time under centre it played out like that, but now Brissett is taking snaps the team seems to be pushing Gesicki’s usage back into that zone, with 39 of his 44 routes coming there. I’m not all the way sold yet, but for now, I don’t hate the play. 

Will Dissly $2600 vs San Francisco 49ers – 52.5 over/under

I love to pay down at the tight end position if I can’t get the elite tier into my lineup. You’ll be hard pushed to find a cheaper pay down option than Will Dissly. Gerald Everett has been placed on the Covid IR list after testing positive on Wednesday. With Everett out Dissly will have a great opportunity for more TE snaps. Everett has out-snapped Dissly 77% to 52% this season but hasn’t been overly productive with them, gaining 0.18 PPR points per snap to Dissly’s 0.14. Russell Wilson has thrown to Dissly enough in previous years to make me confident in this punt play. 

Honourable mention

Evan Engram $3000 v NO – Engram had 6 targets for 17% share in wk3. Ran routes on 30/39 snaps. 26 from the slot. $3k seems very cheap. *I liked this play before Shepard and Slayton were ruled out. With those injuries this is becoming a very popular shout and will pick up ownership at a budget price.

Sunday Morning thoughts

Wakey wakey, time to start sorting those lineups. A few quick hits to consider.

Titans WR punt plays will be a popular but tricky choice. Nick Westbrook-Ikhine seems to be the most common name people are liking. Personally I’ve always liked Josh Reynolds and in my opinion in tournaments he’s a good shout at $3000.

Tight end has become a candy shop of bargain players. With Engram, Firkser and Dissly all very cheap. Don’t be afraid to try paying up for Kelce etc. as a contrarian play. If everyone is paying down it gives you a clear chance to be different.

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