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:
NFL DFS Quarterback Picks
Top Ceiling: Patrick Mahomes at Minnesota Vikings – $8,200 on DraftKings, $9,200 on FanDuel
After a down night for the Chiefs offense last Sunday against the Jets, Patrick Mahomes returns to the main slate with the highest ceiling, median, and floor projections using THE BLITZ projections on both DraftKings and FanDuel. Chris Raybon also gives Mahomes the clean sweep, while the FantasyLabs projections give a slight edge to Jalen Hurts in ceiling projection due to his rushing touchdown potential. In the three-way aggregated projections (with a third to each of those three sets of projections), Mahomes is the clear choice on both FanDuel and DraftKings.
The main reason Mahomes looks so good for a bounce-back performance this week is his great matchup against the Vikings. Minnesota ranks in the top 10 for points allowed to QBs this season, even though they have had a relatively soft schedule that included Bryce Young and Baker Mayfield. They gave up huge games to Jalen Hurts and Justin Herbert in their two contests against tougher competition, and Mahomes should be able to put up a big total against them Sunday afternoon in the Twin Cities.
Mahomes threw multiple touchdowns in each of his first three games of the season before last Sunday night’s tough matchup on the road against a good Jets defense. He averaged 267.7 yards per game over those three contests, with a high point of 305 yards in the Chiefs’ road win over Jacksonville in Week 2.
One slightly sometimes overlooked part of Mahomoes’ production is his rushing yards. He had seven carries for 51 yards and could have added a rushing score if he hadn’t opted to slide at the goal line late in the game. He has run for more than 25 yards in each of his four games this season, averaging 38.5 rushing yards per game.
The Chiefs have the second-highest implied team total on the slate. Playing indoors at U.S. Bank Stadium, they could end up in one of the highest-scoring games of the week, so pay up for Patrick if price is no problem.
Top Value: Matthew Stafford vs. Philadelphia Eagles – $5,600 on DraftKings, $6,800 on FanDuel
On DraftKings, Matthew Stafford has the highest Projected Plus/Minus of all QBs in the FantasyLabs projections and Raybon’s projections, and the veteran lands third in Projected Plus/Minus behind only Mahomes and Hurts at the position in the three-way aggregated projections. Even at less of a discount on FanDuel, he’s also in the top five of Raybon’s, Labs’, and the three-way aggregate in Projected Plus/Minus.
Stafford has started the season strong with over 300 yards passing in three of his four games and an average of 41.5 pass attempts per contest. He has averaged 17.5 DraftKings points and 15.3 FanDuel points in his four games, even though he hasn’t thrown for multiple touchdowns in any contest yet. His volume and yardage should eventually lead to more touchdowns and bigger overall numbers in a system that Sean McVay has designed to play to Stafford’s strengths.
This week, Stafford could get a boost from the return of Cooper Kupp as well. Kupp will join the emerging Puca Nacua and Tutu Atwell to form a solid group of wide receivers for Stafford to work with. If Kupp is back, that will make Stafford an even stronger play, although he has been playing well even without one of the top receivers in the NFL.
This matchup with the Eagles has the second-highest point total on the slate with an over/under of 50.5. The Eagles defense has looked strong against the pass the last two weeks, but that was against Mayfield and Sam Howell, who they did let throw for 290 yards. In Week 2, Kirk Cousins had four touchdowns and 364 yards, so there is the potential for a big game if Stafford’s volume stays high and he converts more red zone opportunities into passing touchdowns.
NFL DFS Running Back Picks
Top Ceiling: Bijan Robinson vs. Houston Texans – $7,700 on DraftKings, $8,200 on FanDuel
With Christian McCaffrey facing the Dallas defense in primetime, players will have to build around a different star running back for the main slate. Both FantasyLabs and THE BLITZ identify Bijan Robinson as the right option at the top of the salary structure with the highest median and ceiling projection on the slate for both DraftKings and FanDuel.
Robinson has exceeded salary-based expectations in three of his four games this season, posting over 20 DraftKings points and over 16 FanDuel points in each of those three games. Last week in London, Robinson posted his second career game with over 100 rushing yards and added five catches on five targets for 32 more yards. Robinson has only found the end zone one time all season, but his yardage and his average of 4.75 catches per game have kept him producing at a good rate. If he can get back into the end zone against the Texans, he should be able to deliver one of the top running back scores for the week.
Houston has allowed five running back touchdowns on the season and at least 100 rushing yards to running backs in each of the last two weeks. They also allowed opposing running backs to catch at least six passes in each of the last two weeks, so Robinson should be very involved again as a dual threat.
Other running backs that show well near the top of the model include David Montgomery, Joe Mixon, and Derrick Henry.
Top Value: Alvin Kamara at New England – $6,300 on DraftKings, $7,100 on FanDuel
The question mark around Kamara for the past few seasons has been his inconsistent workload, but in his first week back from suspension, he played 100% of the snaps for the Saints and had no lack of volume. If his workload continues this week, he is set up to be one of the best values on the board.
Using THE BLITZ projections, Kamara has the highest projected Plus/Minus of all running backs on the DraftKings slate, along with the highest Pts/Sal at the position this week. On FanDuel, he’s a little pricier but still ranks in the top three in each category in those projections. FantasyLabs projections are also very high on Kamara this week.
In his first game after serving a three-game suspension, Kamara had 11 carries and 13 catches in the Saints’ 26-9 loss to the Bucs. While he only managed 51 rushing yards and 33 receiving yards, the workload is still an extremely positive sign. Derek Carr made Jalen Richard a usable option due to all his action in the checkdown game, and it looks like he’ll do the same for Kamara after feeding Kamara 14 targets in his first game.
Whether Kamara is running a lot because the Saints are ahead or catching a lot of passes in a pass-heavy game script, he should be set up for success Sunday against the Pats. New England has given up at least five receptions to opposing running backs in every game this season and allowed four running back touchdowns and an average of 81.7 rushing yards to the position over the past three weeks.
NFL DFS Wide Receiver Picks
Top Ceiling: Justin Jefferson vs. Kansas City Chiefs – $9,400 on DraftKings, $9,200 on FanDuel
Justin Jefferson and the Vikings will have to try and keep up with Mahomes and the Chiefs in that potentially high-scoring late game in Minnesota. As a result of his high expected usage, he has the top ceiling projection and median projection in the three-way blended projections on both DraftKings and FanDuel. He’s actually not the most expensive receiver on FanDuel, but I trust him more than Tyreek Hill, who always brings a high ceiling as well.
Even though he’s always so pricey, Jefferson has outproduced salary-based expectations in each of the first four weeks of the season. He had at least 149 yards in each of the first three weeks of the season, and last week when he only had 85 yards, he hauled in two touchdowns to compensate and still post a massive total. He has averaged 28.3 DraftKings points per game with an Average Plus/Minus of +5.24 DraftKings points per game.
Jefferson is also the only wide receiver that matches nine Pro Trends on FanDuel, and he’s tied for the slate lead with six Pro Trends on DraftKings.
Jefferson is averaging 11.75 targets per game, with 1.25 targets per game in the red zone. That volume makes him almost matchup-proof, especially with the total for this game so elevated. Jefferson should be ready to keep his red-hot start to the season going even though his team has stumbled a bit out of the gate.
Using the three-way blended projection, Jefferson actually brings the highest Projected Plus/Minus of all receivers on FanDuel and ranks in the top five in that category on DraftKings.
Top Value: Robert Woods at Atlanta Falcons – $4,000 on DraftKings, $5,000 on FanDuel
Using the three-way blended projections, Woods has the third-highest projected Plus/Minus of the week on FanDuel and the second-highest on DraftKings. Woods leads the position in projected Plus/Minus and Pts/Sal on both sites using the FantasyLabs projections.
In his first season in Houston, Bobby Trees hasn’t had a breakthrough week yet, but he has been heavily involved in the vastly upgraded Texans’ offense behind C.J. Stroud. Stroud has targeted Woods more than any other pass-catcher over the past three weeks, giving him a 19.4% target share over that span. Woods is also tied for the team lead this season in red zone targets, even though he hasn’t found the end zone.
In his four games, he has averaged 4.5 catches for 47.8 yards per game but has plenty of room for positive regression since he’s drawing 7.75 targets per game.
This matchup with Atlanta should be a good place for the veteran to break through with a big game. The Falcons have given up four receiver touchdowns and an average of 130.3 yards per game to opposing wide receivers over their three most recent games.
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NFL DFS Tight End Picks
Top Ceiling: Travis Kelce at Minnesota Vikings – $7,600 on DraftKings, $8,700 on FanDuel
The top two tight ends go head-to-head as Travis Kelce and the Chiefs take on T.J. Hockenson and the Vikings. There’s really no question who had the higher ceiling, though, since Kelce has the top ceiling and median projection across on the projections for this slate. The question is just whether you can find enough bargains in other spots to make his steep salary work under your salary cap.
Kelce missed Week 1 but has had at least eight targets in each of the three games he has played this season. He found the end zone in Week 2 and Week 3 but only managed six catches for 60 scoreless yards last weekend against the Jets.
He and Mahomes should be able to get back on track against the Vikings. Minnesota gave up two tight end touchdowns to the Chargers two weeks ago but hasn’t been very tested aside from that, playing teams with iffy tight end production. Like Jefferson, Kelce’s volume makes him almost matchup-proof, and he will likely be busy again this week against Jefferson’s Vikings in one of the most entertaining games of the week, bursting with good fantasy options.
Top Value: Zach Ertz vs. Cincinnati Bengals – $3,500 on DraftKings, $5,100 on FanDuel
Using the three-way aggregated projections, Ertz has both the highest Projected Plus/Minus and the highest Pts/Sal of all tight ends this week on both FanDuel and DraftKings. He has the sixth-highest ceiling projection of all tight ends in the aggregate projections but is priced just barely in the top 10.
Ertz has out-performed salary-based expectations on DraftKings in three of his four games this season and has shown a strong connection with Joshua Dobbs. On the season, Ertz has a 24.4% target share and ranks second among all tight ends in targets and fourth in catches. He caught 6-of-10 targets for 51 yards last week in the Cardinals’ road loss to the 49ers, and he came close to his first touchdown of the season but couldn’t quite squeeze a red zone target from Dobbs. He has six red zone targets on the season and remains one of Dobbs’ go-to options around the goal line.
The Bengals should be a good matchup for Ertz since they have given up the fourth-most DraftKings points to the position this season. They allowed a tight end touchdown in three of their four games this year and over 50 receiving yards to tight ends in each of the last three weeks.