The Player Models are the lifeblood of our NFL DFS product. They house our projections for each player, but that’s just the beginning of what you’ll find inside. After all, a projection is just part of the equation: salary, ceiling, and projected ownership all factor into which players stand out as the best plays each week.
Let’s dive into our models and look at a few players with the highest ceilings and values for this week’s slate.
Note: Projections and Leverages Scores/Ratings may change throughout the week after this article is posted. Consult the Player Models directly for any updates as we get closer to lock.
Finally, make sure to check out all the projections available for purchase (Chris Raybon’s come included with a FantasyLabs subscription) within the FantasyLabs Models. Subscribers now have the option to purchase Derek Carty’s THE BLITZ from our Marketplace. Projections from One Week Season and Establish the Run are available if you’re a subscriber to those specific sites (our optimizer is a separate add-on feature).
You can also combine them to create your own aggregate projections:
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NFL DFS Quarterback Picks
Top Ceiling: Joe Burrow vs. Houston Texans – $6,800 on DraftKings, $8,200 on FanDuel
Even with several elite quarterback options off the main slate in primetime matchups or on bye weeks, there are several intriguing options at the top of the quarterback projections. Lamar Jackson always brings a high ceiling but is in a tough matchup vs. the Browns, Dak Prescott has been on fire but the Cowboys could blow out the Giants, and Justin Herbert goes head-to-head with Jared Goff in a fascinating matchup as well. However, in my top spot this week, I’m rolling with Joe Burrow, who has the Bengals looking back in playoff form after a slow start.
Burrow has the highest median projection and floor projection in both the FantasyLabs projections and THE BLITZ projections on DraftKings. He also has the top median, ceiling and floor projection in Chris Raybon’s projections on both DraftKings and FanDuel.
Since coming back from their bye week, Burrow and the Bengals have beaten the 49ers and the Bills in two tough games. Burrow was exceptional in both contests, completing 28-of-32 passes against San Francisco for 283 yards and three touchdowns and following that up with a season-high 348 passing yards last week against Buffalo with two more scores. He didn’t turn the ball over in either contest and exceeded salary-based expectations in both wins.
This week, he’ll look to keep rolling against a much-improved Texans defense. However, much of Houston’s defensive improvement has come vs. the run, while they have still allowed the 11th-most DraftKings points per game to opposing quarterbacks. It should be a good scheme fit for Burrow to attack since the Texans like to blitz with their secondary, and Burrow usually excels in that situation.
The availability of Ja’Marr Chase (back) will be key news to monitor for Burrow, but especially if he has his top playmaker, he should be set for a big week at home against Houston. The Bengals have the second-highest implied team total on the slate, and this game has the second-highest over/under. If Cincinnati is putting up points as expected, Burrow should again end up one of the top quarterbacks on Sunday’s slate.
Top Value: Baker Mayfield vs. Tennessee Titans – $5,100 on DraftKings, $6,600 on FanDuel
The Bucs came up just short against the Texans last week, but Baker Mayfield continued his solid first season in Tampa. Mayfield has exceeded salary-based expectations with multiple touchdown passes in each of the past two weeks and is averaging a solid 17.2 DraftKings points and 16.9 FanDuel points per game on the season.
Sometimes to bring added clarity and incorporate more data, it is helpful to blend multiple projections together (as highlighted above). Using an evenly split three-way blend of the FantasyLabs projections, Chris Raybon’s projections, and THE BLITZ, Mayfield emerges as the top value quarterback option on Sunday’s slate with the highest Projected Plus/Minus and Pts/Sal of all quarterbacks on the slate. On FanDuel, Mayfield is a little more expensive but still brings the second-highest Pts/Sl and Projected Plus/Minus of all quarterback plays under $7K.
While the Bucs have dropped four straight, Mayfield struggled in the first two games of that stretch against the Lions and Falcons. Even though the results have been the same, Baker has been better the past two weeks.
This home matchup against the Titans should be a solid spot for Mayfield to continue his strong form. Tennessee typically slows down the game and limits opponents’ opportunities but they have given up a passing touchdown in three straight weeks.
The other strong contender for this spot is Geno Smith, who gets a better matchup as the Seahawks host the Commanders, but Smith has struggled lately and failed to meet salary-based expectations in six straight weeks. He could bounce back and the matchup gives him a high ceiling, but he’s a higher risk than Mayfield. Mayfield has a strong group of receivers led by Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, and I think they’ll be too much for the Titans’ secondary.
NFL DFS Running Back Picks
Top Ceiling: Christian McCaffrey at Jacksonville Jaguars – $9,200 on DraftKings, $10,500 on FanDuel
Christian McCaffrey is the most expensive running back on the slate this week, but he also brings the top ceiling, median and floor projection on both DraftKings and FanDuel in all three of the projection sets used for this post. CMC and the 49ers dropped three straight games heading into their bye week, and they come out of their bye with a tough road game against the Jags.
McCaffrey still brings a high ceiling in this matchup, though, and hopefully will get back to his early-season workload. He had at least 18 carries in each of the first five games of the season, all 49ers victories. He had 15 or fewer carries in each of the three games the 49ers lost. Throughout that stretch, though, he stayed very relevant and productive for fantasy with his work as a receiver out of the backfield.
The Jaguars have been good against the run this year, but they have given up the most receptions to running backs. In each of their last three games, the Jags have given up at least nine running back receptions, so it could be another busy day out of the backfield for McCaffrey.
McCaffrey’s ability to get into the end zone is what makes him a great fantasy option almost every week. He has 13 total touchdowns in his eight games this season and can post a monster game with multiple scores in any matchup.
Top Value: Najee Harris vs. Green Bay Packers – $4,900 on DraftKings, $6,500 on FanDuel
Especially on DraftKings, Najee Harris‘s salary has dropped to the point where he now represents great value. His salary has not been under $5K on DraftKings in any other week this season, and he started the season with a salary over $6K. On DraftKings, Harris has the third-highest Projected Plus/Minus and the fourth-highest Pts/Sal of all running backs using the three-way blended projections.
A big part of his drop in salary is that Harris has fallen into a timeshare with Jaylen Warren, who actually costs a little more than Harris on DraftKings this week. Despite his reduced workload, though, Harris has been able to exceed salary-based expectations on DraftKings in four of his last five games and each of his three most recent contests. In those three games, he has an Average Plus/Minus of 5.03 DraftKings points despite tough matchups against the Jags and Titans in the past two weeks.
Harris is still getting slightly more than half the workload and is especially active near the end zone. He has scored two rushing touchdowns in the last two weeks and also had multiple receptions in each of those three contests, totaling 10 catches on 12 targets for 64 yards.
This week, the Steelers and Harris host the Packers, who have allowed an average of 96.3 rushing yards and 35.4 receiving yards per game to opposing running backs this season. They have six running back touchdowns on the season but just one in the last three weeks. Overall, they have allowed the eight-most DraftKings points to opposing running backs this season.
This should be a good spot for Harris to return value from his salary under $5K and is a great chance to “buy the dip” on Harris on DraftKings, where he has an impressive 97% Bargain Rating.
Harris is still more expensive on FanDuel, so if you need a different value play, the three-way aggregate projection identifies Bijan Robinson with the highest Projected Plus/Minus on the slate and Tyjae Spears with the best Projected Plus/Minus of any running back with a salary under $6K.
NFL DFS Wide Receiver Picks
Top Ceiling: Amon-Ra St. Brown at Los Angeles Chargers – $8,600 on DraftKings, $9,000 on FanDuel
Coming back from a bye week, St. Brown and the Lions will head to the West Coast and take on the Chargers in the late window. St. Brown brings the second-highest ceiling projection in the three-way aggregate projections on DraftKings and the third-highest on FanDuel. The only option that ranks ahead of him in most of the projections is Ja’Marr Chase, who definitely brings a high ceiling but is also very volatile with his back issue.
St. Brown has been one of the most consistent options at receiver all season. Before getting a week off, St. Brown posted his third straight game with over 100 yards and raised his average to 95 yards per game this season. He has 77 targets in his seven games and has found the end zone three times.
Since missing Week 5’s game against Carolina, he has exceeded salary-based expectations on DraftKings in three straight games.
On FanDuel, St. Brown matches seven Pro Trends, the most of any wide receiver on this slate, and on DraftKings, he matches six Pro Trends which is tied for the third-most of the receivers in action.
St. Brown is also a relative bargain on FanDuel, where he has a 91% Bargain Rating. He also has the third-highest Projected Plus/Minus at receiver on FanDuel.
The Chargers are on a short week after beating the Jets on Monday and have given up the fourth-most fantasy points to wide receivers this season. Opposing receivers have scored nine touchdowns in eight games while posting an average of 191.2 receiving yards per game.
Top Value: Tank Dell at Cincinnati Bengals – $5,500 on DraftKings, $6,400 on FanDuel
The Texans’ turnaround under new head coach DeMeco Ryans has been lots of fun to watch this season. The offense has shown dramatic improvement under rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud, and he appears to have a go-to playmaker to grow with him in Tank Dell. After they took Stround No. 2 overall, the Texans snagged Dell in the third round out of Houston.
Dell caught two touchdowns in his first three games and emerged as a big-play threat, although he was still a little buried on the depth chart. He suffered a concussion and missed Week 6 before the team’s bye week, but since returning, he has shown he can be a regular contributor in a growing role.
Last week, Dell went off for a monster game and helped the Texans rally past Tampa Bay. The rookie hauled in six catches on a career-high 11 targets and produced his first multi-touchdown game in the NFL. It was his third ceiling game of the season in which he exceeded salary-based expectations by at least 13 DraftKings points.
He should be in a good spot to continue putting up good points as he faced the Bengals, who rely on sing-high safety coverages. If they try that against Dell, he could take the top off the defense and break away for a big play or two. Opposing receivers have posted over 150 receiving yards in six of the Bengals’ eight games this season, including in each of their three most recent contests.
In the Texans’ receiver room, both Robert Woods (foot) and Nico Collins (calf) have been limited this week by injuries. If either or both are sidelined, there would be even more targets available for Dell. Using the blended projections, Dell has the highest Pts/Sal and Projected Plus/Minus of all receivers this week on FanDuel and the sixth-highest on DraftKings.
On DraftKings, it’s really tempting to take a flier on Rondale Moore at just $3K. Moore should get a boost from getting Kyler Murray back at quarterback and always brings play-breaking speed to put up huge numbers when given the right chance. Since we don’t know how good Murray will be in this offense or if Moore will get enough looks, it’s a high-risk play, but there’s definitely a high ceiling to consider as well.
Other good options to consider as values at wide receiver this week include Diontae Johnson, Jaxson Smith-Njigba and the tandem of Tyler Boyd and Trenton Irwin for the Bengals who will have to fill for Tee Higgins and a possibly even for Ja’Marr Chase, depending on how his injury progresses.
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NFL DFS Tight End Picks
Top Ceiling: Sam LaPorta at Los Angeles Chargers – $5,700 on DraftKings, $6,500 on FanDuel
I’m very surprised that Sam LaPorta has only the third-highest salary of tight ends on DraftKings and the fourth-highest on FanDuel. In the three-way blended projections, LaPorta has the highest ceiling projection of all tight ends on both sites. He falls just behind T.J. Hockenson in terms of median projections, but he brings more upside since he has a strong connection with Jared Goff and a great matchup against the Chargers.
The Chargers have given up the fourth-most fantasy points to tight ends this season. Opposing tight ends have averaged 6.6 catches for a nice 69.0 yards per game. Travis Kelce faced the Chargers just a few weeks ago and went off for one of the biggest games of any tight end this season, and LaPorta will look to find the same gaps in coverage. To be clear, no one is Kelce, but LaPorta may be one of the closest comps in the current NFL.
The rookie has averaged 7.4 targets per game in his eight contests and led the team in catches and targets in their last game before their bye while finishing only behind St. Brown on the team for receiving yards. He and St. Brown are a great 1-2 combo for the Lions attack and can be a good stack this week with Goff in your QB spot or can be used independently.
LaPorta has at least 47 yards in six of his seven games since his NFL debut and has found the end zone three times in his last four games. He’s reliable and productive and also comes very affordable in this smash spot.
Top Value: Trey McBride vs. Atlanta Falcons – $3,500 on DraftKings, $5,100 on FanDuel
Two value plays jump off the page at tight end this week–Trey McBride of the Cardinals and Even Engram of the Jaguars. Both are great plays, but I’m going to go back to McBride in this spot after passing on him last week due to the Clayton Tune factor. This week, McBride should get much better quarterback play with Murray’s expected return after offseason knee surgery. Since it’ll be Kyler’s first action this season, the whole Cardinals offense is high-risk, so Engram is a safer alternative if you want to go that way.
McBride has been very involved in the offense since even before the injury that landed Zach Ertz (quad) on IR. McBride broke out in the first game that Ertz missed, going off for 10 catches for 95 yards and two touchdowns against the Ravens. Those numbers came with newly-minted Vikings’ legend Joshua Dobbs at quarterback, and last week he had a solid three catches on five targets for a modest 22 yards as the Cardinals offense was shut out by the Browns.
With Murray back, McBride has a very high ceiling, especially against the Falcons. Opposing tight ends have scored three touchdowns against Atlanta while averaging over 50 yards per game. Last week, Hockenson had seven catches for 69 yards in the Vikings’ win.
McBride has the highest Projected Plus/Minus and Pts/Sal of all tight ends in the three-way blended projections on FanDuel and DraftKings. His margin is especially wide on DraftKings, where he has a 64% Bargain Rating and matches six Pro Trends.