DraftKings Plays – Week 3
Free to non-subscribers!!Pat Thorman constructs an optimal lineup for cash games on DraftKings, and gives thoughts on upside plays for use in tournaments.
DraftKings Plays – Week 3
Each Friday this column will offer a lineup tailored for play in cash games offered by DraftKings (Head-to-Head, or 50/50 contests), followed by some thoughts on higher-variance upside shots for use in tournaments (GPP). The previous week’s recommended cash game lineup will be reviewed at the bottom.
Players in the cash games lineup are chosen primarily with strong salary value, significant projected touch volume, and favorable matchups that occur in games with a high Vegas over/under. The quest for a high statistical floor will be a common theme.
Don’t forget to check out our customizable Daily Fantasy Tool, available to Gold subscribers through a link on the weekly projections page. It quickly combines PFF Fantasy’s weekly projections with DraftKings and FanDuel pricing to give a head start when setting your lineups.
Cash Game Lineup
QB: Drew Brees ($8,900) vs Minnesota Vikings (49)
A pair of relatively quiet statistical road games have kept his salary in check, and now that he’s back in his domed stomping grounds it’s time to ride Brees. Our Daily Fantasy Tool has him pegged at an affordable $377.10 Cost/Pt figure, and he’s projected to deliver nearly 24 points. With the third-highest quarterback salary that’s actually something of a bargain. The Vikings gave up the most points to fantasy quarterbacks last year, and their deficiencies have been masked by odd game flow against New England, and odd quarterbacks in St. Louis.
RB: Khiry Robinson ($3,900) vs Minnesota Vikings (49)
Staying in the bayou so we can pick Viking carcasses clean, the dirt-cheap Robinson keys the rest of our lineup. He also allows us to cover just about any game script, likely or not. Once the Saints are salting away their blowout, Robinson will be getting the work, a la Stevan Ridely in Week 2 (25 att., 101 yards, 1 TD). He’s ninth in yards after contact per attempt (2.86) and now owns the closer role. If by chance Minnesota hangs in, leading to more second half passing volume, we have Brees to collect the excess. Robinson will be involved there too, as he’s an underrated pass-catcher.
RB: Zac Stacy ($5,600) vs Dallas Cowboys (45)
Dallas hasn’t gotten stampeded on the ground yet, and it’s obscured the fact that their run defense is pathetic. Godsend linebacker Rolando McClain is likely sitting out, so they’ll be even softer up front than their -7.4 run defense grade (24th) would indicate. Despite giving up the eighth-most yards per carry, they’ve faced the eighth-fewest attempts. That will change dramatically when Jeff Fisher’s run-committed crew hammers them with Stacy. With workload concerns over Benny Cunningham’s role diminishing, Stacy is an affordable high-floor/ceiling combo play this week.
WR: Pierre Garcon ($5,800) at Philadelphia (50.5)
Garcon boasts the cheapest Cost/Pt ($351.50) of any projected top-10 wideout and matches up against a defense with issues covering perimeter receivers. Unsurprisingly, the Eagles have surrendered the fifth-most snaps in the league (2013 NFL-high 1150 defensive snaps). Tied for the 15th-highest receiver salary, Garcon should be a target monster and deliver the volume we crave. In nine career games with Kirk Cousins as his quarterback Garcon averaged 10.3 targets. While Philadelphia appeared strikingly soft against the run mainly because Trent Richardson averaged more than 2.9 yards against them, Washington will still need to throw often.
WR: Golden Tate ($5,000) vs Green Bay Packers (52)
Tate gets us exposure to one of the few projected Week 3 shootouts at an affordable price point. He’s been running shorter routes (8.0 aDOT vs. 10.8 in 2013), helping him catch his 13 targets at very high rate (85%). Yet Tate still has a yard per reception mark in line with last year (13.6), and has already forced five missed tackles. He’s started 63.4 percent of his 82 routes from the slot, an area in which the Green Bay defense has failed the few tests it’s had. Tramon Williams, Morgan Burnett, and Micah Hyde have combined for 39 slot coverage snaps and allowed nine of the 10 targets they’ve seen to be completed.
WR: Larry Fitzgerald ($4,800) vs San Francisco 49ers (42)
Rookie slot cornerback Jimmie Ward is going to be a good pro, but he received a hard lesson at the hands of Brandon Marshall last week and has allowed a 143.2 quarterback rating. While Fitzgerald is no Marshall anymore, he can still bring it and will see plenty of Ward when lined up in the slot (42.4% of snaps). After a quiet Week 1 where he caught just one of four targets from Carson Palmer, Fitzgerald saw 10 looks from backup Drew Stanton – nearly scoring on one. Even if Fitz doesn’t hit paydirt, his projected volume and reasonable price make him a high-floor lineup differentiator.
TE: Martellus Bennett ($5,200) at New York Jets (45.5)
We couldn’t say with certainty that the Jets secondary is a sieve after a Week 1 exhibition game against the Raiders, but last week confirmed it. What’s still flying under the radar is New York’s inside linebackers can’t cover anyone. David Harris (-3.2; 42nd-best 2013 ILB coverage grade) and Demario Davis (-8.1; 51st), were regularly roasted last year. They’ve already combined to allow 12 completions on 14 targets, for 103 yards and a score. The Black Unicorn (3rd in TE targets; 18) will be heavily involved in a high-volume passing game, and is well worth the eighth-highest Week 3 tight end salary.
FLEX: Giovani Bernard ($7,300) vs Tennessee Titans (44)
Gio isn’t going to hold up to a 20.5 carry and seven targets per game workload, but right now that’s not our problem. Until he breaks down or Hue Jackson dials back his usage, Bernard offers a safe floor with upside that was evident Week 2 when he posted 27.9 points. Despite whispers that A.J. Green will play, Cincinnati’s running backs will again take center stage against a defense that was undressed by DeMarco Murray last week. With the current dearth of available short-to-intermediate targets on the Bengals offense, Gio can once again expect to get the ball coming and going.
DEF: New England Patriots ($3,500) vs Oakland Raiders (46.5)
The Patriots are a huge favorite (-13), get their first home game and a rookie quarterback along with it. Derek Carr has faced pressure on 42.3 percent of his dropbacks (4th-most), is well-known to struggle while under a rush (59.3 Acc. %; 24th), and will be facing a defense that hit its stride a week ago. New England leads the NFL in completion percentage (54.4%) and quarterback rating allowed (54.8), has the most interceptions (5), and is fourth in sacks. Oakland left tackle Donald Penn is going to have Chandler Jones nightmares for a month. They cost the most this week and are worth it.
Total Salary: $50,000
For some reason, probably because the quarterbacks he’s faced are stiffs, DeAngelo Hall has been targeted as infrequently as Richard Sherman (15.8 cover snaps per target; 1st). Hall isn’t good. He’s given up 11.3 yards per reception on three catches (4 targets), and was PFF’s 85th-“best” graded cornerback (-5.4) a year ago. He’ll see a lot of Jeremy Maclin on Sunday in a projected shootout. Another reason Hall’s been spared is his partner, David Amerson, is even worse. He’s been targeted once in every four coverage snaps (3rd-highest), and is surrendering 1.63 yards per cover snap after giving up 1.60 last year (12th-most).
Nick Foles is the sixth-most expensive quarterback ($8,500) and $400 more than Jay Cutler. Both have good matchups, but most GPP entrants are going to save cash with Cutler after the two passers left opposite impressions in primetime games last week. Using Foles and/or Maclin will help to differentiate a lineup, and offers considerable upside against a thus-far quietly porous secondary.
Shane Vereen’s six-carry, two-target workload was presumably due to a Belichickian dog-housing after an opening drive miscue. Yet he’s been limited all week with a shoulder injury, has never been the picture of sustained health, and the Patriots are probably going to beat the Raiders so badly that Al Davis feels it. This one has Stevan Ridley-game script written all over it, especially after 25 (fumble-less) carries in a similar situation last week. Oakland has the 29th-graded run defense (-13.4) through two games, their coach is already in trouble, and the veteran stop-gaps they imported are just cashing checks. Two scores for Ridley should surprise nobody.
Captain Munnerlyn turned in a strong 2013 season for the Panthers (+10.9; 10th-best cornerback), but he’s not in Carolina anymore. He’s in Minnesota, although this week he’s in New Orleans – where he’s tasked with covering Marques Colston. You may recall Colston from his zero target Week 2 stat line, but the 5-foot-8 Munnerlyn will remember him as the ornery 6-foot-5 behemoth who got right during their Week 3 matchup in the slot. Colston has run 63.6 percent of his routes from the slot, where Munnerlyn has a 154.2 quarterback rating against on 40 snaps (NFL-worst). Colston’s snap percentage (85.5% Week 1; 58.3% Week 2) is a concern, so it’s best to save him for GPP lineups.
Travis Kelce is the only non-quarterback on the Chiefs who’s played more than three snaps and has a positive passing game grade. Andy Reid probably doesn’t look at PFF marks, but it must’ve dawned on him by now that his offense is entirely punchless. The encouraging news is Kelce’s snap count rose from 19 to 32 in Week 2, and his routes run went from 14 to 23. Other than Knile Davis’ eight, Kelce saw the most targets against Denver (6). He was still inexplicably not on the field at the end of the game, but a feeling of a pending eruption is palpable. The Dolphins gave up the fifth-most fantasy points to tight ends last year, and seven catches for 55 yards and a score Week 1 against New England. Baby Gronk is the 20th-most expensive tight end this week.
Last Week’s Lineup
Peyton Manning (21.58) – Just 46 snaps for Denver and the 26th-most throws were volume-stat anchors.
Or Aaron Rodgers* (32.64) – Hopefully you chose “QB Option 2” and tons of up-tempo snaps (55.9%).
Marshawn Lynch (16.30) – Another volume victim, he was done in by the 43rd-most rushing attempts.
Giovani Bernard (27.90) – I love it when a plan comes together. The lone perfect projection of Week 2.
Demaryius Thomas (17.20) – Seven targets were disappointing, although his touchdown saved the day.
Marques Colston (0.00) – No points is mind-melting enough, but zero targets makes you question life itself.
T.Y. Hilton (12.50) – The volume was there (7th-most targets), but a long of 16 yards muted his impact.
Charles Clay (10.10) – The matchup was right, and he caught seven passes – but was hampered by his knee.
Fred Jackson (7.10) – With the Bills running fewer plays, and his target volume fading, FJax isn’t currently playable.
Or Frank Gore* (15.50) – Your weekly reminder that Greg Roman hates fantasy, sticking with what’s working,…and you.
Denver Broncos (3.00) – Alex Smith threw a lot, but a 7.6 aDOT (vs 10.9 Week 1) led to fewer mistakes.
Total Points Scored – 115.68 (135.14*)
Pat Thorman is a Lead Writer for PFF Fantasy and was named 2013 Newcomer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. You can follow him on Twitter at @Pat_Thorman