Here’s a breakdown of one-game DFS contests for the Week 5 Monday Night Football matchup featuring the Cleveland Browns at San Francisco 49ers at 8:15 p.m. ET on ESPN.
Cash Game Strategy
Jimmy Garoppolo leads the way in floor, median and ceiling projection in our DraftKings Showdown Models, with Baker Mayfield and Nick Chubb clocking in right behind. All three are projected close enough that I think you split Captain spot exposure equally between them if playing multiple contests.
The return of Tevin Coleman (ankle) creates uncertainty around the backfield rotation for Kyle Shanahan, but Coleman (6) and Matt Breida (5) handled 11 of the team’s 14 backfield carries in the first half of the only game both have been active, so those two make for the safest cash game tandem this week.
That leaves $2,900-$3,200 for the final spot depending who your Captain is, in which case the top projected remaining players no matter the scenario would be a tie between Browns RB Dontrelle Hilliard and TE Ricky Seals-Jones, who each found the paint in last week’s 40-25 romp of the Ravens. Hilliard played 25 snaps with six carries and three targets last week, while RSJ played 20 snaps, ran 15 routes, and saw three targets, so I would lean Hilliard, who has a slightly higher (albeit negligible) floor projection and serves as insurance over what’s sure to be a highly owned Chubb.
FanDuel’s scoring makes it so that there is clear separation between the median projections of both Jimmy G (17.7) and Mayfield (16.3) relative to Chubb (14.6), but those three still comprise the optimal core. With the $16,500 left over, it makes sense to go with George Kittle and a punt over Breida and a punt or any other combination, as Kittle is projected for 4.3 points more than Breida. Kendrick Bourne is the top projected player that fits in the final slot. Bourne is averaging 20.7 snaps, 2.3 targets and 0.67 red-zone targets per game.
Core GPP Plays
Note: These are in addition to the players already mentioned in the cash write-up and generally has a focus on pass-catchers. On FanDuel, QBs generally make for the top plays in the 1.5x slot because the half PPR format creates a wider gap in scoring between QB and RB/WR/TE; on DraftKings, a RB/WR/TE who hits the 100-yard bonus is the ideal play.
RB Nick Chubb, Browns: Chubb is fourth in the league in rushing yards per game (99.4) and is averaging 23.0 touches per game overall. The 49ers have graded out as a middling run defense (16th per Pro Football Focus‘ team grades), but are excellent in coverage (third), so Chubb figures to be the centerpiece of Freddie Kitchens’ game plan yet again.
WR Odell Beckham, Browns: Beckham has lined up on the left for the majority of his snaps, meaning that for most of the night he will avoid a matchup with Richard Sherman, who lines up on the offensive right 98% of the time, and instead do battle with second-year undrafted free agent Emmanuel Moseley as he makes his first NFL start in place for Ahkello Witherspoon (foot, out). OBJ is the highest-ceiling pass-catcher in our models. With Jarvis Landry having a monster game last week (8-167-0) while OBJ barely registered a peep (2-20-0), the pendulum is likely to swing back in the other direction this week.
TE George Kittle, 49ers: The Browns rank 25th in Pass Success Rate allowed to tight ends (52%) compared to second vs. running backs (24%) and ninth vs. wide receivers (49%), per Sharp Football Stats. Kittle also leads the 49ers in red-zone target share (36.4%). Wide receivers Deebo Samuel, Marquise Goodwin, Dante Pettis and Co. are dart throws relative to Kittle.
- Seibert-Browns DST +0.97
- Mayfield-Seibert +0.75
- Chubb-Seibert +0.60
- Mayfield-Higgins +0.49
- Chubb-Browns DST +0.39
- Mayfield-Callaway +0.27
- Mayfield-Beckham +0.18
- Mayfield-Chubb +0.15
- Mayfield-Browns-DST +0.12
- Mayfield-Landry +0.09
- Browns QB-Opposing QB -0.02
- Chubb-Landry -0.10
- Chubb-Higgins -0.16
- Chubb-Callaway -0.20
- Chubb-Ratley -0.37
- Browns RB1-TE1 -0.39
- Mayfield-Ratley -0.44
- Chubb-Beckham -0.50
- Beckham-Landry -0.78
Mayfield’s big games tend to involve his complimentary receivers, which could ring even more true in the absence of starting tight end David Njoku (elbow, IR). In a small sample, OBJ and Landry have a strong negative correlation, so a higher-leverage strategy for Mayfield stacks could be to go with one of the top two paired with some combination of Antonio Callaway, Rashard Higgins (knee, questionable) and Damion Ratley (if Higgins is out).
While most kickers qualify as top leverage plays that tend to siphon production from the team’s other players, Austin Seibert has been good lineup filler material no matter who he’s paired with over the small sample to start 2019.
- 49ers QB-Opposing QB +0.74
- Gould-49ers DST +0.37
- Gould-Garoppolo +0.29
- 49ers RB2-TE1 +0.16
- 49ers RB1-TE1 +0.14
- 49ers QB-TE1 -0.16
- Gould-Kittle -0.28
With Garoppolo having only played three games over the past year and most of the 49ers team correlations over the past year registering in as weak, there’s not much to go on here.
Players whose production would benefit owners more than expensive or highly-owned players. Kickers and D/STs generally make for strong leverage plays, but those who stand out will be highlighted below.
RB Dontrelle Hilliard, Browns: He’s handled half of the team’s carries inside the 5 (2).
RB Raheem Mostert, 49ers: A true wild card as the No. 3 back in what could be a three-man rotation. Shanahan’s No. 3 back — Mostert in Week 1, Jeff Wilson in Weeks 2 and 3 — is averaging 9.3 touches per game.
DST 49ers: The Browns are underdogs, and Mayfield is averaging 2.67 sacks and 1.78 interceptions in losses thus far in his pro career. Mayfield is also 30th of 38 qualifiers in passer rating under pressure, per Pro Football Focus, and as I discussed in our Browns-49ers betting guide, the 49ers are equipped to give the Browns’ O-line fits.
Dart Throw Rankings
Ranking the low-cost, complementary players not already discussed in the leverage section by likelihood of having a worthwhile fantasy stat line.
- WR Deebo Samuel, 49ers: Second on the team in targets (14) behind Kittle.
- WR Marquise Goodwin, 49ers: Second on the team in air yards (127), per AirYards.com.
- RB Matt Breida, 49ers: Averaging 13.2 touches per game since the start of last season.
- RB Tevin Coleman, 49ers: Led the backfield in usage in his only action but hard to know what Shanahan’s plans for him truly are.
- WR Dante Pettis, 49ers: Trending up after playing 50% of the snaps in Week 2 and 42% in Week 3 compared to just three in Week 1.
- WR Richie James Jr., 49ers: Has run 19-20 routes in all three games and is tied for third on the team in targets (8) and fourth in air yards (103).
- WR Antonio Callaway, Browns: Could be used a s a decoy vs. Sherman and split reps with Higgins if Higgins is active.
- WR Rashard Higgins, Browns: Could be used as a decoy vs. Sherman and split reps with Callaway if active.
- TE Ricky Seals-Jones, Browns: Posted 3-82-1 last week despite running fewer routes (15) than Demetrius Harris.
- WR Kendrick Bourne, 49ers: Multiple targets in every game and 0.67 red-zone targets per game.
- FB Kyle Juszczyk, 49ers: Averaging 60% snaps, 1.7 touches per game.
- TE Demetrius Harris, Browns: Has only posted a 3-6-1 receiving line on four targets despite running 76 routes this season.
- WR Damion Ratley, Browns: Likely drops to No. 5 on the wide receiver depth chart with Callaway and Higgins back. Moves into Higgins’ spot in the rankings if Higgins is out.
- TE Pharoah Brown, Browns: Has topped out at seven routes run in a game this season.
- TE Levine Toilolo, 49ers: Has run six routes all season.
- TE Ross Dwelley, 49ers: Has run five routes all season.
- RB D’Ernest Johnson, Browns: Didn’t play a snap last week with Hilliard fully healthy.
- RB Jeff Wilson, 49ers: Likely a scratch with Coleman back.
- WR Taywan Taylor, Browns: Likely a scratch.
- WR Jordan Matthews, 49ers: Likely a scratch.
Pictured above: San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle (85) and quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10)
Photo Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports