I Like The Way This Looks
One day there will just be no introduction, but I like the way the piece looks with the brief intro and I’m not ready to let go. I don’t have anything special to tell you, but it just didn’t feel right diving right into Kirk Cousins without at least saying something.
Quarterback: Kirk Cousins
Projected Ownership: 13-16 percent (FD)
As I mentioned last week, I don’t think that we need to pay too much attention to quarterback ownership when it is spread so thin. There are plenty of ways to differentiate your lineup at other positions, so simply taking the quarterback who best correlates with your lineup is a fine strategy if you are differentiating elsewhere.
However, per Cousins’ FantasyLabs Player Card, he has the strongest correlation (0.80) with tight end Jordan Reed, who currently has a FantasyLabs ownership projection of 13-16 percent. If you decide to go with the Cousins-Reed stack, you are certainly going to want to differentiate elsewhere, as it is likely to be a popular pairing among those who stack Cousins with one of his pass catchers.
Redskins wide receivers DeSean Jackson (five to eight) and Jamison Crowder (two to four) are both projected to be in a lower percentage of lineups than Reed currently is. Per Bryan Mears’ Week 4 Market Share Report, Crowder, Jackson, and Reed have each independently accounted for 19.3-20.2 percent of the team’s receiving targets through the first three games.
Jackson offers big-play potential: He has the highest percentage of his team’s Air Yards (29.9 percent), but Crowder has averaged 1.31 red-zone opportunities per game over the past 16 months, 0.93 more than Jackson has averaged over that same time. Whichever way you decide to go, both options are solid ways to gain some lower-owned upside to pair with Cousins this week.
Running Back: Melvin Gordon
Projected Ownership: 31-40 percent (DK)
Gordon’s improved role in the Chargers offense has now resulted in not only a massive ownership projection but also the second-highest positional Salary Change of +$1,700. Gordon is not the only Charger currently projected to be popular this week. Take a look at some of his teammates and their FantasyLabs ownership projections, as found in our Player Models.
• QB Philip Rivers: 13-16 percent
• WR Travis Benjamin: 17-20 percent
• WR Tyrell Williams: 13-16 percent
• TE: Hunter Henry: 13-16 percent
Prom King Gordon still leads the popularity contest in San Diego, and he offers the most value in terms of Projected Plus/Minus with a current mark of +6.7 points. Benjamin, Williams, and Henry do offer slight leverage off of Gordon, but I think there is another option if you really like multiple players from this offense. As each of the aforementioned Chargers is relatively cheap compared to his projection, going all in on the offense will leave you with enough salary to differentiate your lineup with lower-owned options at your remaining positions. Although it is expected that a lot of people will be on the Chargers this week, not all that many DFS players are likely to stack three or four of them in the same lineup.
Vegas currently has the Chargers implied to score a slate-high 28.75 points as four-point favorites over the visiting Saints, who currently have the slate’s seventh-highest implied team total (24.75). Drew Brees is less Brees-esque when he is away from the NFL’s version of Coors Field, but he is currently projected to be in only two to four percent of lineups. If the Chargers get a lead early, the game script will tilt toward not only Gordon but also the Saints passing attack.
If you must roster Gordon, it could be worth pairing him with a stack on the other side of the ball. Rostering Brees with Willie Snead and/or Brandin Cooks could offer low-owned upside, as each player is currently projected to be in less than five percent of lineups.
Also, the 4:25 pm ET start of this game makes it easier to stomach Gordon’s colossal ownership projection. If the early games leave you in a situation in which you need to come off of Gordon, you could potentially late-swap to C.J. Anderson at only $200 more. The Broncos are currently three-point favorites versus the Buccaneers, and at this time Anderson has a FantasyLabs ownership projection of only two to four percent.
Wide Receiver: Antonio Brown
Projected Ownership: 31-40 percent (FD)
Antonio is awesome, and there is no denying his level of awesomeness. (Shout out to me for the top-notch analysis.) But how awesome does one need to be to warrant 31-40 percent ownership at $9,400? Roughly Antonio-level awesome.
Still, I can’t blame you for wanting to look elsewhere, despite the ongoing 12-game stretch in which he has at least 10 targets per game, seven 100-yard performances, 10 touchdowns in total, and four games with at least 30 FD points.
Brown’s teammate Le’Veon Bell returns from his three-game suspension this week to face a Chiefs defense that allowed the second-lowest Opponent Plus/Minus (-1.4) to RBs in 2015. However, Bell did well against this defense last year when he caught all four of his targets and ran for 121 yards on 17 carries. In the FD Sunday Million that week, Bell was in only 9.1 percent of lineups, and all of the value at the RB position this week has him currently projected to be in only 13-16 percent of lineups. By no means will Bell be a sneaky play, but he offers upside comparable to Brown’s and some leverage off of him at what could be half the ownership.
If you’re looking to pivot off of Antonio to another wide receiver, then it is hard not to take a long look at Julio Jones. As Editor-in-Chief Matthew Freedman points out in this week’s WR Breakdown, Julio’s salary has dropped down to $8,500 for the first time since 2014. Jones is coming off of a disappointing game versus the Saints in which he managed to haul in only one of his seven targets for a grand total 16 yards and 2.1 FanDuel points. Julio currently has the second-highest WR ceiling projection and a FantasyLabs ownership projection of only five to eight percent.
Tight Ends: Zach Miller & Hunter Henry
Projected Ownership: 13-16 percent (DK)
Henry and Miller are the two chalk TE options this week, with each having a position-high 13-16 percent FantasyLabs ownership projection. There might not be a reason to fade either of them, as both are priced at $2,700 and have Projected Plus/Minus values over +6.0, but it is important to select how to roster them if you are running out multiple lineups this weekend. Henry could be used as cheap access to the San Diego offense if you were deciding to fade Gordon. He could also be a member of a Chargers-Saints game stack. Also, if you’re game-stacking, you might consider the idea of playing both Henry and opposing TE Coby Fleener, who is currently projected to be in nine to 12 percent of lineups.
Miller is currently carrying a slate-high nine Pro Trends into his matchup with a Lions defense that has allowed TEs to score an average of 4.7 points above their salary-based expectations over the last 16 games. Miller, who has a 92 percent Bargain Rating and Projected Plus/Minus of 6.1, is also coming off of a game in which he caught eight of nine targets for 72 yards and two touchdowns. Going with Miller may feel like you are chasing his performance from last week, but he projects similarly to Henry and could help you minimize your Chargers exposure in other lineups.
Best of luck this weekend!
The Week 4 NFL Dashboard
For more information on other Week 4 plays, see the positional breakdowns and team previews on our NFL dashboard.
After this piece is published, FantasyLabs is likely to provide news updates on a number of players herein mentioned. Be sure to stay ahead of your competition with our industry-leading DFS-focused news blurbs: