DraftKings Plays: Week 6
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.
The 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. While not every selection will meet each threshold, the quest for a high statistical floor will be a common theme.
Week 6 Cash Game Lineup
QB: Eli Manning ($7,800) at Philadelphia Eagles (50.5)
Much has been made of the Eagles awful pass defense, and it isn’t good – but the real reason they’re ripe to be plucked by opposing quarterbacks is sheer volume. At 6.4 Net Yards per pass attempt, Philadelphia is only 17th-worst, and they are PFF’s 15th-best graded coverage unit. Yet they’ve faced the most pass attempts in the NFL (204) and haven’t allowed fewer than 71 snaps this year. Manning offers a super-high floor this week. He’s fantasy’s third best passer over the last three weeks and will throw more than usual due to a stout Eagles run defense and Rashad Jennings’ injury.
RB: Matt Forte ($8,800) at Atlanta Falcons (53.5)
Second only to DeMarco Murray in PPR points among running backs, Forte has five fewer rushing touchdowns. Also, he has zero rushing touchdowns – something that will change this week against a Falcons defense that’s allowed 10 of them (four more than second place). Atlanta has PFF’s 19th-graded run defense (-10.4), but that mark is -16.6 against non-Buccaneer opponents. Forte has nine more targets than the running back with the next highest total (Fred Jackson; 31), and Giants runners caught all four targets against them last week (35 yards).
RB: LeSean McCoy ($6,000) vs New York Giants (50.5)
As the eighth-priciest running back, McCoy is a surprising value play. Three of Philly’s five starting linemen are in place and all received positive marks in Week 5. McCoy averaged over 1.7 yards per carry and forced a missed tackle (2) for the first time since Week 2. Baby steps, to be sure – but he’ll find more success against the Giants through the air anyway. Since Jon Beason’s toe injury, New York has surrendered 26 receptions on 30 targets to opposing running backs, for 329 yards and a score. He’ll at least return value on this price, and remains a high-touch volume play, in a high play volume matchup.
WR: Golden Tate ($6,300) at Minnesota Vikings (45)
After riding him the previous two weeks, an in-practice hamstring strain was enough to fade him in the Week 5 cash lineup, where safety is paramount. It’s time to get back on the horse against a defense that’s surrendered 27.7 points to wideouts over the last three weeks, which would rank as the second-most on the year. He’ll see plenty of Captain Munnerlyn, who we’ve been picking on repeatedly in this space. Obviously we’re in good company because the Captain is giving up a 154.2 quarterback rating (league-worst) on throws into his slot coverage.
WR: Roddy White ($4,800) vs Chicago Bears (53.5)
Perhaps because he’s currently the 43rd-highest scoring PPR wideout and has been targeted the 34th-most at his position, White’s the 33rd-most expensive receiver this week. Of course he was hobbled by injuries to his hamstring, which cost him a game, and knee. Completely healthy now, he’s still averaging nearly eight targets per game (7.8) and will face off with either Tim Jennings – who’s struggled badly – or career special teamer Sherrick McManis. Julio Jones has a slightly gimpy ankle and will mostly see Chicago’s best corner, Kyle Fuller, in a likely shootout that sports this week’s highest over/under by a good margin.
WR: Allen Robinson ($3,700) at Tennessee Titans (44)
This is a value pick that allows the rest of the lineup to trot out studs, especially at running back. Increasingly integrated into the offense, Robinson is eighth in targets and 11th in receptions over the last three weeks – as he’s moved from a 70, to a 91.2 snap percentage. He’ll be roasting the arguably worst cornerback in the league, Blidi Wreh-Wilson. The Bleeder is PRR’s 102nd-graded corner, which is a neat trick since he’s missed a game and still rolled up a -10.3 cumulative mark. The Titans allow the seventh-most snaps per game and the Jags should have more success throwing than running.
TE: Owen Daniels ($4,300) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (43.5)
Daniels has received 13 targets in the two full games since starter Dennis Pitta was lost, as Gary Kubiak’s offense will involve tight ends no matter what. Tampa Bay surrenders the ninth-most fantasy points to the position, and even that ranking isn’t representative of how badly they get torched. If their blowout at the hands of the tight end-less Falcons is removed (full offense to Levine Toilolo intended), the Bucs are allowing 9.3 receptions, 94.8 yards, and 0.5 touchdowns per game to the position. Daniels offers an affordably safe floor at a position marked by scoring volatility.
FLEX: Andre Ellington ($5,100) vs Washington Redskins (No Line)
I also considered Fred Jackson ($5,000) here, but the combination of his gimpy ankle and Ellington’s neon-blinking price tag won the day for the Cardinals’ feature back. It appears as if Carson Palmer will once again sit out and while that may reduce the efficiency of Ellington’s touches, it should increase the volume. Last week he had 16 carries (12th-most) and seven targets (6th), which tied for the fifth-most total opportunities among running backs. Washington’s ranking as tough on fantasy running backs is skewed by a low-snap Week 1 game against Houston, followed by their demolition of the Jaguars.
DEF: Denver Broncos ($3,100) at New York Jets (47.5)
The 12th-most expensive defense, Denver should have no trouble containing a mistake-prone offense that’s even had trouble executing their bread-and-butter running game. The Jets are the 10th-worst run blocking unit (-12.7) and the Broncos are ninth-best at shutting down ground games (+18.1). New York is going back to their scatter-armed turnover machine, Geno Smith, and even if they were sticking with Michael Vick it wouldn’t matter – as neither has the weaponry or skill to threaten this ascending defense. The Broncos, a 9.5 point favorite, are relatively cheap to roster considering the upside.
Total Salary: $49,900
Those in search of a deserted island from which to throw darts at a large field tournament can do worse than hopping aboard a recently vacated bandwagon. Blake Bortles let a lot of smart people down last week and right now is slightly more popular than hemorrhoids. He’s facing a Titans team that’s given up the seventh-most plays, the fifth-most touchdown passes (tie), and just lost the only starting member of their secondary to grade positively in pass coverage (Bernard Pollard). We touched on The Bleeder above, and his league-worst play should allow for a sneaky stack of Bortles and Robinson. The Jaguars offensive line has picked up its pass blocking of late, while continuing to run block like Chinese figure skaters.
Gaining exposure to the Giants/Eagles matchup, with its high projected point total and anticipated snap volume, is more desirable than it is easy. Both passing attacks spread the ball around, so going cheap with a dart-throw is a good approach. Odell Beckham ($4,200) played 38 of 71 snaps in his debut (53.3%) and acquitted himself well. Philadelphia will use weekly burn victim Cary Williams to cover the rookie when he lines up on the left side, which he did on a hefty 68 percent of his Week 5 snaps. Rueben Randle ($4,600), who sees more snaps and targets, is also an inexpensive bet to produce – but will be more widely-owned in tournament lineups.
Finally, an (admittedly long-odds) strategy that can pay off big in a field of 92,400 is to roster the direct backup of a running back with a matchup against a weak run defense or in an anticipated blowout, or (ideally) both. It’s the approach I took last week in the Millionaire Maker, where I faded Rashad Jennings and used Andre Williams. It was fairly successful, although obviously not because the anticipated blowout came to fruition. It did, however, have me in position to take advantage of the inherent fragility of the running back position.
Some Week 6 options are Ka’Deem Carey ($3,000), who has averaged 4.3 yards on 18 carries as the only other halfback to play a snap behind Forte this year, and Robert Turbin ($3,000) of the Seahawks. They face a tightrope-walking Cowboys team with a pregnable run defense, who could easily fall into a negative game script that renders moot their ball-control attack. It’s not a strategy for the faint of heart, and it was probably suboptimal to attach my one entry to this approach last week, but there are a couple ways that it can pay off. For what it’s worth, Williams helped me to a 482nd place finish (186.5).
Good luck this week to everyone that’s been reading the column, and I really do appreciate the positive feedback that it’s received. Cheers, degenerates!
Last Week’s Lineup
Philip Rivers (22.82) – Despite the week’s 22nd-most passing attempts, he scored the sixth-most points.
DeMarco Murray (27.20) – The most carries and second-most targets fueled the DeMarco Express.
Rashad Jennings (9.20) – He only played one-third of snaps and still turned in a usable fantasy day.
Antonio Brown (13.40) – The targets were there (12) but the efficiency vanished – and he still had 84 yards.
Kelvin Benjamin (5.80) – Speaking of inefficiency, KB had just three catches on nine targets (17.3 aDOT).
Andrew Hawkins (5.70) – This is becoming a theme. Three grabs on eight targets. Hey, process over results…
Travis Kelce (9.50) – The 10th-best tight end score on just three targets and 19 routes. Maybe the bye week will wake Andy up?
Matt Forte (36.60) – Frankly he saved all of our cash investments from a receiver inefficiency apocalypse. An absolute machine.
Denver Broncos (4.00) – Six hurries, four QB hits, three sacks, and two crappy Cardinals passers just doesn’t earn as many points as you’d imagine.
Total Points Scored – 134.22
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