Week 4 of the NFL season is here, and we have started to gain clarity in the DFS space. Three weeks of production gives us a substantial set of data upon which to base our weekly projection.
Each week, I will bring you an early look at which players to target and fade for the upcoming Sunday DFS slate on DraftKings and FanDuel. I’ll do this by using our large suite of analytical fantasy tools, most specifically, our FantasyLabs Player Models.
Keep in mind that a lot can change between now and when lineups lock. Our Player Models update in real-time to help make quick lineup decisions before rosters lock.
This is a wonderful time of year, so let’s take a deep dive into which players to target and avoid in the third week of the 2021 NFL season.
Jalen Hurts ($6,900 DK, $7,900 FD)
I have been critical of Hurts’s efficiency as a passer, but he is set up for a smash spot at home against Kansas City. In a game with the highest over/under on the Sunday slate, Hurts is going to need to generate offensive production for Philadelphia to stay competitive in this game. Kansas City is coming off two consecutive losses and never lost three consecutive games in the Patrick Mahomes era. The Eagles just allowed five total touchdowns to Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott, providing a DFS floor for this game that is very enticing.
Hurts has battled his way to fantasy production even in games where his passing efficiency has faltered. His late-game surges are Blake Bortles-esque. Per PlayerProfiler, it’s easy to see that Hurts versatility has garnered three consecutive overall QB10 or better finishes regardless of passing efficiency:
Hurts will face a Kansas City defense that has allowed the second-most fantasy points to opposing signal-callers, including the most rushing yards to fantasy quarterbacks. In Week 2, Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson generated the overall QB2 performance with just 239 passing yards. Hurts has a similar skill set to Jackson, with improved offensive weaponry.
Hurts is our top-rated DFS quarterback on both DraftKings and FanDuel. He has the second and third-highest Ceiling Projections on each site per our FantasyLabs Models. Yet, Hurts is only the fifth-most expensive quarterback on FanDuel and seventh-most expensive on DraftKings for the Sunday main slate.
Like Justin Herbert last week, Hurts is an explosive quarterback play facing the Chiefs with a nice price discount. Sometimes, the most obvious play is the right play.
Aaron Rodgers ($6,800 DK, $7,600 FD)
Don’t look a DFS gift in the mouth. Aaron Rodgers returns home to face a Pittsburgh defense that is a shell of its former self. The Steelers have allowed the sixth-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers and have allowed five passing touchdowns to Derek Carr and Joe Burrow in the last two consecutive home games. Now, they travel to Lambeau Field to battle an Aaron Rodgers-led offense that has posted 65 total points in the last two games.
The Steelers bring a pass defense that ranks just 23rd in DVOA per FootballOutsiders. Since 2018, when Rodgers has faced a bottom-half pass defense, he has produced elite fantasy stat lines.
His average of 25.2 fantasy points would place him as the current QB4 behind only Kyler Murray, Tom Brady, and Patrick Mahomes. The Steelers expect All-Pro linebacker T.J. Watt (groin) to play but is unlikely to be close to 100%. Historically, the Steelers have been very competitive as a road underdog under Mike Tomlin. If this game stays close, it will be because Pittsburgh was able to post points against a substandard Green Bay defense.
Rodgers is the QB8 on both sites, which is the precise discount we want for a quarterback that has the overall QB1 performance definitively in his Week 4 range of outcomes.
Running Back Target
David Montgomery ($5,800 DK, $7,500 FD)
I like this play better on DraftKings, as Montgomery is $1,700 cheaper than on FanDuel. Montgomery is only the 16th-most expensive running back on DK, priced lower than Carolina’s Chuba Hubbard and Cleveland’s Kareem Hunt.
Montgomery is certainly getting the usage, as illustrated by his 34.6% Dominator Rating on PlayerProfiler, third-highest among all running backs. He ranks fifth in snap share (71.9%), sixth in carries (46), and fourth in rushing yards (203). He now returns home to face a Detroit defense that has allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs.
This is a great buy-low spot for Montgomery, who is coming off consecutive RB24 and RB38 performances, triggering his lower price.
Montgomery is getting the volume and would really benefit if rookie Justin Fields is under center. In that situation, the likelihood of a conservative game plan combined with improved rushing lanes would give Montgomery a ceiling game.
Montgomery is still only the seventh-highest running back on FanDuel, but his rock bottom value on DraftKings is exquisite.
Running Back Fade
Saquon Barkley ($6,700 DK, $6,900 FD)
Barkley’s price is still too high to play in this week’s matchup against New Orleans. The Saints stifled a Patriots rushing attack in Foxboro, despite New England’s elite offensive line.
In his career, Barkley has not fared well against elite defenses. Despite his immense talent, he has always dealt with a poor Giants offensive line. This season is no different, as the Giants rank second-worst in adjusted line yards, only ahead of the Pittsburgh Steelers. (Football Outsiders).
The Saints rush defense has held Green Bay’s Aaron Jones (2 receptions, 23 total yards) and New England’s Damian Harris (2 receptions, 11 total yards) to abysmal games as the opposing lead rusher. Even the dynamic Christian McCaffery was limited to just 3.0 yards per carry.
As the sixth-highest running back on DraftKings and the 11th-highest rusher on FanDuel, Barkley still needs substantial production to justify that value. His above average of 15.5 PPR fantasy points per game would not come close to matching value on either site.
Barkley is a talented runner in a terrible situation in Week 4. He’s a hard fade for me.
Wide Receiver Target
Robert Woods ($5,300 DK, $6,200 FD)
It’s Robert Woods week.
Woods has gotten off to a slow start, with only 11 total receptions and 124 receiving yards through three games. He has tallied the WR46, WR44, and WR65 performances, contributing to his reduced price on DraftKings and FanDuel.
Using the Bales Model, Woods is projected as the fifth-best play on FanDuel and the fourth-best play on DraftKings. Woods rates highly in our Floor, Median, and Ceiling Projections.
With a 55-point game total, this Rams-Cardinals game is a very attractive DFS target. There is risk involved, given that Cooper Kupp has dominated the target share and is the current overall WR1 in fantasy. But it’s simply a matter of time before Woods has that big game, and we are betting that it comes in Week 4 at home against Arizona.
Wide Receiver Fade
DeAndre Hopkins ($7,700 DK, $7,600 FD)
In this same game, I’m fading Arizona leading receiver in a challenging matchup against All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey. Despite the high game total, Hopkins is not worth spending the $7,000+ price on both sites, including the fourth-highest wide receiver cost on DraftKings.
Hopkins was questionable in Week 3 at Jacksonville with a rib injury and produced just three receptions and 21 receiving yards for the WR76 fantasy performance. In his short career in Arizona, Hopkins has been limited by the Los Angeles secondary.
While the Rams have allowed decent fantasy production to opposing wide receivers, they have been particularly difficult against the top opposing wideout in their two home games. Ramsey can be stifling on opposing WR1s, as evidenced by Chicago’s Allen Robinson posting just 35 receiving yards in Week 1.
Hopkins is a dynamic player that can post DFS numbers against any team. Still, players such as Davante Adams ($7,900 on DK) and DK Metcalf ($7,700 on FD) are similarly priced and have much higher ceiling possibilities.
With a tough matchup and injury concerns, I’m fading Hopkins this week in Los Angeles.
Tight End Target
Dawson Knox ($3,600 DK, $5,600 FD)
The weekly DFS debate at the tight end position always centers around Travis Kelce. The Kansas City All-Pro is the clear top performer at a shallow fantasy position, but there is a cost that is associated with that level of security. If you are looking for upside at a cheap tight end play, I am going with Buffalo’s Dawson Knox in Week 4.
Knox is the overall TE6 in fantasy points per game, despite receiving only 12 total targets on the season. The key to his season has been extreme efficiency, a direct result of being tethered to the elite quarterback play of Josh Allen. Knox is third among all tight ends with 2.73 fantasy points per target and is one of five tight ends with exactly two touchdowns.
There is a muddled target share after top wide receiver Stefon Diggs, giving Knox an opportunity to find consistent weekly opportunities. We project Knowx for 8.19 fantasy points on DraftKings and is the sixth highest-rated tight end on the Bales Model.
Buffalo faces a Houston team that has allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends, including the second-most receptions. This is despite facing tight end deficient teams such as Jacksonville, Cleveland, and Carolina.
If you are looking for savings, Knox is a great pivot off Kelce, allowing more room to spend up at the running back and wide receiver position.
Tight End Fade
George Kittle ($5,900 ,$6,700 FD)
Kittle has struggled to reach that elite positional tight end production but has still tallied two top-10 performances. He is coming off the overall TE5 stat line against Green Bay with seven receptions, 92 receiving yards, and 17.1 PPR fantasy points.
Many DFS players will be tempted to play Kittle in Week 4, hoping for that big upside play that has not occurred. In this week’s matchup against Seattle, it is difficult to see that big performance occurring.
Seattle has prioritized limiting Kittle’s production in their annual matchups. In seven career matchups with the Seahawks, Kittle has only averaged 8.9 fantasy points per game:
Seattle has only allowed 158 total receiving yards this season and will no doubt focus on limiting Kittle in a game that the Seahawks desperately need to avoid losing three games in a row, falling to 1-3 on the year.
The Seahawks have been gashed on the ground this year, allowing the most fantasy points per game to opposing running backs. Seattle has allowed an average of 155 rushing yards per game, which is the likely offensive schematic for a San Francisco offense that has the eighth-highest rushing percentage of any NFL team. A game plan focused on the rushing attack is going to minimize receiving opportunities for Kittle.