The first thing you’ll notice when you pull up our lovely Vegas dashboard for this week’s main slate of DFS games is that it’s relatively barren of typically “good” fantasy games.
The Chiefs, Saints, Rams and Panthers are all off the main slate, and as such, we’re left with only one game total higher than 50 and only five teams with totals of 26 or higher. What that tells me is that the highest-total game (Patriots-Steelers) will be overwhelming chalk as people struggle to make choices.
The good news? All of that lends itself to finding fringe plays.
Dak Prescott, QB, Dallas Cowboys
Anyone who has a twitter account vaguely associated with football would love to tell you how much they love the Amari Cooper trade and how he’s a great play this week against the Colts after another multi-touchdown game against the Eagles. But Cooper is tied for our third-highest projected owned wide receiver while Prescott is right in the 9-12% range.
There are a few reasons to like Dak this week more than in his median projected week: First, this game has the potential to feature more plays than usual as the Colts have thrown the second-most pass attempts in the NFL through 15 weeks, which extends the game and allows more total plays to be called. Second, Prescott is being used as a runner in the red zone more frequently over the last month of the season than at any point of his career with 10 rushes being called inside the 20 for him.
If you chose to play Prescott in your game stack instead of Andrew Luck, I certainly think Dak’s upside is comparable at what should be a lower ownership rate.
Aaron Jones, RB, Green Bay Packers
The fantasy football community has been clamoring and whining for Jones to be the undisputed starter in Green Bay for almost two years. Well guys, Jones is finally unchallenged in the Packers’ backfield under Joe Philbin, out-touching and out-snapping Jamaal Williams last week. Williams had only four total touches to Jones’ 20, and Jones has now scored six touchdowns over the past five weeks.
Needless to say, the reason that people don’t want to play Jones is that the Packers are facing the Bears and the public is still overvaluing just how much control a defensive team has.
I’ll be deploying the finally-freed Jones in an overweight percentage of my guaranteed prize pool lineups and feeling very good about volume trumping efficiency.
Adrian Peterson, RB, Arizona Cardinals
I’ve resisted rostering, writing or talking about Peterson for DFS purposes for 14 and a half weeks.
Finally, I am giving in.
The reasons to play AP this week are pretty simple. The Cody Kessler-quarterbacked Jaguars have now scored only 22 points in three games; that’s paltry, even by Jeff Driskel standards. Washington, in basically a half of Josh Johnson, scored 16 points.
Now it’s unlikely that either Washington or Jacksonville get to 20 points, and the only Washington player I would play in fantasy is Peterson. He’s likely to be the first, second and third option in a game that has one of the lowest totals of the season. He’s strictly a leverage play and a wager that he can get 20-plus carries, 100-plus yards and perhaps a crack at scoring.
My GPP mix is likely to feature a Joe Mixon/Dalvin Cook/Tarik Cohen rotation at $6,000 — but this really does set up as a 2%-owned spot in which AP could have 25-plus unowned touches.
Davante Adams, WR, Green Bay Packers
The DraftKings dynamic price tag algorithm gives and it takes. Saquon Barkley against the Bears? Not too shabby. Julio Jones against Baltimore? 3.8 insulting DraftKings points.
As you all know, I lean to the distinction that we tend to overrate defensive matchups and that individual WR/CB matchups don’t have a ton of predictive power. There is perhaps no better test for this than Adams (though Jones against Baltimore certainly was a clear example).
Adams is averaging more than 10 targets per game, is less expensive than he was last week and really has no internal competition for targets. He’s the only wide receiver who Aaron Rodgers seems to trust right now, and his target volume is reflective of that.
I feel pretty strongly that getting exposure to Adams this week is a game theory optimal move.
Tyler Boyd, WR, Cincinnati Bengals
Make no mistake about this recommendation: Boyd is still a super risky proposition.
He’s relying on one of the NFL’s worst quarterbacks to deliver value, but the volume is still steady. We give him an astounding eight Pro Trends in his favor this week while projecting him for about 9-12% ownership. Over the last three weeks — also known as the Driskel era — Boyd has an absurd 14.2 average depth of target with a 23% target share and a 55% market share of the teams’ Air Yards.
If you’re a big matchups analyzer, the Bengals will face the Raiders, who has some of the worst and most suspect cornerback play of any team in the league. I plan on being solidly overweight on Boyd’s volume in this spot.
Vance McDonald, TE, Pittsburgh Steelers
The ownership projections for everyone in Patriots-Steelers is way higher than the average high-total game; however, that high total is the oasis in a desert of 44- and 45-point total games, so people are flocking to Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown, Jaylen Samuels, James White and JuJu Smith-Schuster.
We even have Rob Gronkowski at 17-20% ownership. McDonald is projected at 0-1% ownership, and it isn’t even close who I would prefer at their respective ownerships. I expect the Steelers to be a bit more pass happy than they were in last weeks’ loss without James Conner. This game script will call for it, and Samuels is a better pass catcher than pure rusher anyway.
McDonald has had at least four targets in every game since seeing eight against the Browns and is clearly rated higher by the Steelers than Jesse James. I plan on McDonald being my most utilized non-Eric Ebron GPP tight end.