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: Lamar Jackson at Arizona Cardinals – $8,100 on DraftKings, $8,800 on FanDuel
With no teams on bye weeks, there are plenty of options to choose from on this week’s main slate. Of the 26 quarterbacks expected to start, Lamar Jackson has the highest ceiling and median projection using an evenly split three-way blend of the FantasyLabs projections, Chris Raybon’s projections, and THE BLITZ projections. Blending projections together can help aggregate data and lead to clear conclusions.
In those blended projections, Jackson also brings the highest Projected Plus/Minus of all quarterbacks on FanDuel and the second-highest on DraftKings, where he has a 96% Leverage rating due to a low ownership projection. Jackson is the third-most expensive quarterback on both sites but definitely has the potential to lead all quarterback scorers if he can carry over his momentum to this favorable matchup.
Last week, Jackson and the Ravens dominated Detroit. He had his best fantasy day of the season, totaling 37.9 DraftKings points by throwing for 357 yards and three touchdowns and running in a fourth score as part of his 36 rushing yards. It was an impressive win for the Ravens in a “measuring stick” game against the Lions, and Baltimore has now won three of their last four.
Jackson gets a good matchup this week against the Cardinals. He has the fourth-highest Opponents Plus/Minus of the quarterbacks on this week’s main slate. Arizona has allowed 260 passing yards a game this season and a total of 14 quarterback touchdowns in seven games.
Playing Jackson gives your roster a very high ceiling due to his ability to add rushing yardage and scores on top of his growing comfort and productivity in new Offensive Coordinator Todd Monken’s system.
Top Value: Kenny Pickett vs. Jacksonville Jaguars – $6,000 on DraftKings, $6,500 on FanDuel
With so many elite options on the board this week, pivoting to a cheap QB is a high-risk strategy, but it’s also one that will make your lineup stand out. From a pure cost perspective, Sam Darnold is hard to pass up on DraftKings since he comes so cheap. However, there’s still a chance Brock Purdy will play, so I’m not quite ready to roll with Darnold yet.
Both THE BLITZ and FantasyLabs point to Kenny Pickett as the best value QB option. He has the fourth-highest Projected Plus/Minus at the position on DraftKings in the FantasyLabs projections and the third-highest using THE BLITZ projections. He also brings the highest Pts/Sal on DraftKings in the three-way blended projections (aside from Darnold, who is a major outlier).
Pickett got a boost to his receiving corps last week with the return of Diontae Johnson and the continued emergence of George Pickens as a top option. Pickett threw for 230 yards while leading the Steelers to a road win against the Rams. He didn’t throw a touchdown but did get one on a sneak. He has thrown for between 220 and 235 yards in all but one of his six games this season and has totaled six touchdowns in six games. There are signs of growth in the young passer, though, who had his best completion percentage of the season against L.A. and stayed interception-free for a second straight week.
The Jaguars have given up the second-most DraftKings points to opposing quarterbacks this season. They allowed 10 passing touchdowns and two rushing touchdowns to quarterbacks in their seven contests, along with an average of 284 passing yards per game. The quarterbacks of the Bills, Colts, and Saints all reached 300 yards passing against them in the last three weeks, and Pickett will hope the matchup can help him put up his best performance of the season this week at home.
NFL DFS Running Back Picks
Top Ceiling: Alvin Kamara at Indianapolis Colts – $7,300 on DraftKings, $8,300 on FanDuel
Since there are still question marks around Christian McCaffrey and who his quarterback will be, this week might be a good week to look at a different ceiling play. Alvin Kamara has made a strong case to be a building block option since returning from his three-game suspension. He has the second-highest ceiling projection on both FanDuel and DraftKings in the aggregated projections and the second-highest floor and median projection on DraftKings.
Even though he’s not cheap, he’s projected to bring good value as well. He’s tied for the highest Pts/Sal in the aggregated projections on DraftKings and tied for the second-most on FanDuel.
Kamara has clearly been the focus of the Saints offense since returning from missing the first three games of the season. In his four games, he averaged a massive 26 touches per game and churned out 109.5 rushing + receiving yards. In his four games, he has had a pair of games with at least 12 catches, including last Thursday against the Jaguars, when he put up a season-high 29.3 DraftKings points. That huge production came without even scoring a touchdown.
Even though he has only played four games, he leads all running backs in targets. He has exceeded salary-based expectations in all four of his games with an Average Plus/Minus of 9.2 DraftKings points and 5.3 FanDuel points.
With Derek Carr continuing to rely on him heavily as a check-down option, Kamara brings both a high ceiling and a high floor due to his expected volume this week against the Colts. The Colts allowed three running back touchdowns last week to the Browns and have given up 10 running back touchdowns in their seven games this season, along with an average of 93 rushing yards and 33.9 receiving yards per game to opposing running backs. This should be a spot for Kamara to continue to deliver based on his role and his upside.
Top Value: Isiah Pacheco at Denver Broncos – $6,100 on DraftKings, $7,400 on FanDuel
For the second straight week, I’m landing on Isiah Pacheco as my value play at running back. This week against the Broncos, he brings the second-highest Projected Plus/Minus in the aggregated projections on DraftKings and the fifth-highest on FanDuel. He is also tied with Kamara for the second-highest Pts/Sal on FanDuel and the top spot on DraftKings.
Pacheco has become the primary option for the Chiefs in the backfield and has exceeded salary-based expectations on DraftKings in each of his last five games. Last week, he had a quiet game on the ground with just 32 yards on 13 carries, but he saved his fantasy day with his first NFL receiving touchdown. He has 10 targets in the past two weeks, and his growing role as a receiver out of the backfield raises his ceiling even higher.
Pacheco faced the Broncos two weeks ago and had 15.8 DraftKings points and 12.8 FanDuel points while running for 62 yards on 16 carries and adding six catches for 36 more yards. He should be able to do even better in this rematch since the Broncos have been a mess against the run this season. Denver has allowed an average of 143.6 rushing yards to running backs this season, along with 12 total touchdowns in just seven games.
This AFC West matchup is tied for the highest over/under on the slate at 47 points, and the Chiefs have the third-highest Implied Team Total. If they play from ahead as expected, it could mean plenty of work and production for Pacheco.
If you need a bargain play at RB, Emari Demercado stands out on FanDuel, while Chuba Hubbard is also a viable option on DraftKings. Both Breece Hall and Rhamondre Stevenson seem to be good values in the midrange if you don’t want to spend just a little less than Pacheco.
NFL DFS Wide Receiver Picks
Top Ceiling: Tyreek Hill vs. New England Patriots – $9,500 on DraftKings, $9,500 on FanDuel
On this week’s jam-packed slate, Tyreek Hill is the most expensive option at receiver, but he also has the best projections at the position across the board. In the aggregated projections, he has the highest median projection on FanDuel by almost two full points and the highest ceiling projection by a margin of 2.5 points. He actually has the highest Pts/Sal of any receiver on FanDuel, showing he actually represents value despite the cost. On DraftKings, he also has a comfortable cushion before the rest of the field, although there are other elite values as well.
Hill has put together an outstanding season so far, getting to the end zone seven times in seven games and averaging 128.9 yards per game. Hill matched his season-high with 11 catches last week in Philadelphia and should have had a second touchdown except for a tough drop.
In his seven games this season, Hill has exceeded salary-based expectations five times, including each of the last three weeks. He was held in check by the Patriots back in Week 2, but since then, the New England secondary has suffered injuries, and the Dolphins offense has gotten even stronger. The Dolphins’ offense can take things to another level at home, and Hill can go off with a big play and a big game in any matchup in any situation.
The Dolphins have the highest implied team total of the day, and since Hill is the focus of their offense, he’s worth paying up for if possible.
Top Value: Brandon Powell at Green Bay Packers – $3,200 on DraftKings, $4,700 on FanDuel
One way to save some salary to buy the studs listed above is to go cheap with a receiver or two. Especially on DraftKings, there are some great values set up for this week, and Brandon Powell is at the top of the list. Powell leads the way in Projected Plus/Minus using the three-way aggregated projections on DraftKings, and he’s second in that stat on FanDuel, even though he’s priced much higher.
Powell is barely more than the minimum on DraftKings, but he should be able to deliver a good stat line as he continues to help the Vikings fill in for the absence of Justin Jefferson. Powell has been playing more and more snaps each week and worked up to a 62% snap share last week on Monday night against the 49ers. Since salaries were out, they haven’t yet adjusted to his big game. He hauled in 4-of-5 targets for 64 yards in his best game of the season.
Over the past three games, Powell has totaled 11 catches on 15 targets for 127 yards. He will likely stay the team’s third receiver but should get enough looks to be a viable punt play in the Vikings’ visit to Green Bay. The Packers have given up a wide receiver touchdown in every game but one this year, along with an average of 127 receiving yards to wide receivers per game. Especially if Jaire Alexander focuses on Jordan Addison, it may be Powell who ends up finding space in Green Bay’s secondary this week. Green Bay has given up big games to second receivers like Jakobi Meyers, Josh Reynolds, and Michael Thomas in their past few matchups.
Some of the other cheap plays to consider based on the projections include Michael Gallup of the Cowboys, Kendrick Bourne and Demario Davis of the Patriots, Zay Flowers of the Ravens, and Rondale Moore of the Cardinals.
Be sure to check out all the pick’ems Sleeper has to offer with Sleeper Fantasy promo code LABS1 for a $100 deposit match.
NFL DFS Tight End Picks
Top Ceiling: Travis Kelce at Denver Broncos – $8,400 on DraftKings, $9,000 on FanDuel
We can probably just call this the Kelce spot for the rest of the year. He has been incredibly dominant all season and continues to prove to be an unstoppable force for the Chiefs. Not only does he have the highest ceiling, median, and floor projections, but he also brings the most Pts/Sal on FanDuel. Some of the bargain options catch him on DraftKings in Pts/Sal, but he is still by far the safest play if you can afford him.
Last week, Kelce had his best game of the season with a season-high 12 catches for a season-high 179 yards. He has exceeded even his lofty salary-based expectations in three straight games.
He should have no trouble at all against the Broncos, who have struggled against tight ends all season and allowed Kelce to haul in all nine of his targets two weeks ago for 129 yards. If you have the salary available, there’s really no question which tight end brings the most potential on any given week.
Top Value: Trey McBride vs. Baltimore Ravens – $2,800 on DraftKings, $4,700 on FanDuel
Using our three-way blended projections, McBride has the highest Projected Plus/Minus at the position on DraftKings and the second-highest on FanDuel. McBride is also near the top of Pts/Sal for tight ends, especially ones that come at such an affordable price.
McBride will likely be working with Kyler Murray (be sure to monitor news about Murray’s status) as he steps in for the injured Zach Ertz (quad), but Murray’s potential return gives the whole offense a much higher ceiling. The system in place in Arizona heavily utilizes tight ends, and Murray has used tight ends extensively as well. Before the game in which he was injured, Ertz averaged 4.0 catches on 6.5 targets per game. McBride was already creeping into his playing time, though, and out-performed salary-based expectations in each of his last two games, totaling seven catches on 11 targets for 91 yards.
Given the change at quarterback and a new role for the second-year tight end, he is a risky play against Baltimore. However, I love his upside for such a small investment and think he brings a nice ceiling along with his significant savings.
If you decide to go with Pickett as a value QB, Connor Heyward is an interesting punt tight end play that could give some nice correlation in a Steelers stack.