Week 9 is the official midway point of the NFL season, with half the season in the rear view mirror and half in front of us. As usual, DraftKings is opening contests and releasing salaries for the week ahead on Sunday evening. In the fast-changing landscape of the NFL, that leaves plenty of time for obvious value to appear.
Let’s take a look at a few players who stand out for Week 9, using the early projections in our NFL Player Models. Of course, these models update frequently. Things will likely change between now and Sunday, but it’s still good to have a plan of attack.
If there’s news between now and lock — and there will be — the models will update to reflect that.
As always, they’re powered by Sean Koerner — the most accurate fantasy ranker in the industry from 2019-2021.
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NFL DFS Quarterback Values
Justin Fields ($5,300) Chicago Bears (+5) vs. Miami Dolphins (44 total)
Fields may have turned a corner lately, at least as a fantasy quarterback. From Week 4 on, he’s increased his DraftKings scoring every week, culminating in over 50 points between Weeks 7 and 8. He’s still yet to top 27 pass attempts in a single game, but his rushing output is finally living up to the potential that made him a first-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Impressively, those two strong fantasy performances came against the Cowboys and Patriots — two top-eight overall defenses by DVOA. While it doesn’t always work out this way, he’s in a much better spot in theory against the Dolphins.
Miami ranks 25th in overall DVOA and 29th against the pass through Week 7. Don’t expect that number to get much better after allowing Jared Goff to throw for 321 yards in Week 8.
There’s a case to be made for some legitimate upside through his arm, with his ever-present rushing floor making him a safe price-considered option.
He’s in play for cash games and tournaments in Week 9, and he leads the position in DraftKings Pts/Sal projection.
NFL DFS Wide Receiver Values
Sammy Watkins ($3,600) Green Bay Packers (-3) at Detroit Lions
If there’s ever a spot for the sputtering Packers offense to get right, it’s a game in Detroit. The Lions have allowed 32.1 points per game this season, five more than the next worst team. Considering they’ve “only” allowed 27 points per game on the road, those numbers are considerably worse at home.
That could portend a breakout game for the Packers’ passing attack in general, and perhaps Watkins specifically. The Lions should do enough offensively to keep the Packers aggressive, and they have to find somebody to catch passes from Aaron Rodgers.
This will be Watkins’ third game back since missing four weeks with an injury, so he should hopefully be back to full strength. While he hasn’t been the focal point of the passing attack, given the play of Romeo Doubs and the absence of Randall Cobb, he could be the Packers’ best option at wideout. For just $3,600, it’s worth it to find out.
He’s tied for the lead in Pts/Sal at the position, but his range of outcomes is wide. For that reason, he’s better suited for tournaments.
NFL DFS Running Back Values
Travis Etienne ($6,300) Jacksonville Jaguars (+1.5) vs. Las Vegas Raiders (47.5 total)
While it’s just a one-game sample size, it’s looking promising for Etienne since the Jaguars traded James Robinson to the Jets. Etienne failed to top 14 carries in a game with Robinson on the roster and saw 24 in Week 8 against the Broncos.
He’s adding an additional 3+ targets per game, giving him a true workhorse role. Given his involvement in the passing game, even a negative game script shouldn’t hinder his opportunities much.
The Jaguars are just 1.5-point underdogs as of Tuesday, though, so we could see another 20+ carry performance if this game stays close. The Raiders rank 18th in rushing defense DVOA, so a hefty workload should translate into another 100-yard game for Etienne.
His salary has already risen quickly over the past three weeks when it bottomed out at $5,000. We’ll probably have to pay north of $7,000 for him by the end of the season, so now is the time to take advantage of his changing workload.
He trails only Joe Mixon and Josh Jacobs in Pts/Sal projection.
NFL DFS Tight End Values
Evan Engram ($3,300) Jacksonville Jaguars (+1.5) vs. Las Vegas Raiders (47.5 total)
Engram ranks third in Pts/Sal projections for Week 9, but he’s my preferred option among the cheaper tight ends. After frustrating DFS players for years with the Giants, he’s emerged as a legitimate threat this season in Jacksonville,
Engram ranks 10th in target share and eighth in air yards share at the tight end position and has at least six targets in each of the last four games. He’s exceeded salary-based expectations in each of them.
While we haven’t seen a true ceiling game from Engram yet, he’s a multi-touchdown game away from a massive score relative to his salary. Las Vegas has the second-highest Opponent Plus/Minus allowed to tight ends on the slate, so his odds of doing so are improved in Week 9.
Engram is an excellent cash game punt with an off chance at GPP-winning upside.