DraftKings Plays: Week 7
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 7 Cash Games Lineup
QB: Aaron Rodgers ($8,800) vs Carolina Panthers (49.5)
The highest-scoring player in a game that’s tied for the second-highest over/under of the weekend, Rodgers’ price offers a small discount on Peyton Manning and a large one on Andrew Luck. The Panthers have surrendered multiple scoring passes in four straight games and allow the ninth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks. This year their poor pass coverage (-12.3; 23rd) hasn’t been masked by a strong pass rush (-0.6; 20th). Rodgers has been fantasy’s third best passer since Week 1, and trails only Philip Rivers on a point per drop back basis. Pay up for reliably safe quarterback production.
RB: Marshawn Lynch ($7,100) at St. Louis Rams (43)
Despite averaging 6.1 yards per carry against Dallas, Lynch was only given 10 handoffs. Like the Cowboys, the Rams haven’t surrendered many snaps (59.4; 6th-fewest), yet they’ve allowed a lot more in their last two contests (68 per game) and are PFF’s 17th-graded run defense (-5.1). Lynch’s target per game rate is higher than in prior years with Seattle (3.4 vs 2.6), and he’s the RB5 in PPR leagues. He has a greater point per opportunity mark than any top-12 back except Ahmad Bradshaw, and Darrell Bevell already implied that Lynch will be fed the rock more – which would mirror his past workload trends.
RB: Justin Forsett ($5,600) vs Atlanta Falcons (49.5)
A week after matching his season-high for carries (14) and setting a new one in rushing yards (111), Forsett faces an Atlanta defense that surrenders the most fantasy points to running backs. He would’ve had a bigger game if the Ravens hadn’t blown it open in the first quarter, as prior to Week 6 his snap percentage had increased for three consecutive games. Forsett has seen the sixth-most targets among running backs, which fits well since the next one Atlanta covers will be their first. He is fantasy’s eighth-highest scorer at his position with a salary that’s the 11th-most costly for the week.
WR: Brandon Marshall ($6,300) vs Miami Dolphins (48)
Fully healthy for the first time since Week 1, Marshall saw nine targets last week – his most since he got 12 in the season opener. With more than half of his routes coming from the slot (52.5%), he’ll see a lot of Miami’s Jimmy Wilson – who’s surrendered nine catches on 10 targets (104.6 QBR against) in his slot coverage. Marshall has five inches and nearly 40 pounds on Wilson. The Dolphins allow the third-most snaps per game, which, combined with the Bears almost exclusively targeting their Big Four, creates a high statistical floor and warm, fuzzy feelings of cash game safety.
WR: Brandin Cooks ($5,800) at Detroit Lions (48)
The last we saw of Cooks he had a ton of opportunities (12 targets, 2 handoffs) but did little with them (6.5 yards per touch; zero scores). Although the 19th-highest receiver salary reflects that disappointment and his subsequent bye week, Cooks did finish Week 5 as the 17th-best PPR wideout. With target monster Jimmy Graham sitting out this likely high-scoring affair, Cooks is in line for another heavy workload. He’s targeted on more than one in every five routes he runs (12th-most), and will return value on his price with a chance for much more.
WR: Wes Welker ($3,700) vs San Francisco 49ers (50)
The Broncos are home, where they rip off no-huddle plays at a 60.7 percent rate – versus 13.8 percent on the road. While the 49ers generally cover well (+20.4; 1st) and rank fifth against the run (+25.2), they aren’t getting after quarterbacks (+2.1; 19th) and struggle marking slot receivers. Welker, who will see a lot of rookie slot cornerback Jimmy Ward (-2.0 coverage grade; 66th), needs to do very little to earn this price tag. Although he saw just one Week 6 target after getting nine in each of his prior two games, he needs to be reintegrated into the offense ahead of huge AFC clashes with the Chargers and Patriots.
TE: Larry Donnell ($3,500) at Dallas Cowboys (48)
After averaging 7.8 targets per game in his first four, Donnell is accounting for just one per contest in the last two. That will change against fantasy’s third-most accommodating tight end defense, especially since the Giants are without Victor Cruz – who saw 7.4 targets per game while healthy. The downtick in production has led to a price that’s too good to pass up, as Donnell has the 16th-highest salary among tight ends and won’t need to do much to return value. Between his and Welker’s near-minimum cost, we are able to load up just about everywhere else.
FLEX: Le’Veon Bell ($6,600) vs Houston Texans (44.5)
Fantasy’s third-best PPR running back is seventh-most expensive at his position this week. Bell ranks that high despite scoring only one touchdown because he’s seeing the third-most pass targets among running backs, averages 5.2 yards on his 105 carries (4th most), and has rolled up at least 100 combined yards in every game. Houston is PFF’s eighth-worst run defense (-16.2), allows the sixth-most snaps to opponents in the league, and will offer a surprisingly efficient running back plenty of volume. If he does finally find the endzone, it’ll be icing on top of an already well-baked cake.
DEF: Washington Redskins ($2,600) vs Tennessee Titans (46)
With defensive scoring being so volatile, it makes sense to go cheap and sink extra money into more predictable assets. Washington has the league’s seventh-best pass rush and faces the 19th-best pass blocking team. The Titans just lost their best lineman in Michael Roos, and will most likely be starting Charlie Whitehurst again. Washington was able to pressure Carson Palmer a whopping 17 times last week, and while their secondary can’t cover a two-dollar bet, at least Whitehurst will take a few sacks (22.9 sack %; 6th-highest). Washington is home and they’re favored by 5.5 points, which lifts their floor.
Total Salary: $50,000
Eli Manning will be lightly owned because he killed many a DFS dream last week, plus he’s facing a team that’s allowed the sixth-fewest fantasy points to passers. That’s being driven by their ball control attack, and New York has the 10th-best run-stopping defense. In the one game that Dallas allowed more than 59 opposing snaps, Austin Davis threw for 327 yards and three scores.
The Texans have allowed 694 yards passing, with five scores, in their last two games. They’re also allowing the second-most snaps over the last month. Ben Roethlisberger has been a sucker’s bet the last two weeks and might be ignored because of it. He’s completed 70 percent of his passes, for 690 yards and four touchdowns, in two home games this season.
Jonathan Stewart is fully healthy for the moment and happens to be facing PFF’s 29th-graded run defense (-19.4). Green Bay gives up the 11th-most points to running backs, but game flow has saved them from hemorrhaging more. Stewart still has some lead in his pencil-like legs, actually ranks second only to Antone Smith in Elusive Rating, and costs just $3,700.
Jerrick McKinnon’s 11 pass blocking snaps last week doubled his season total. The results (4 hurries, 1 sack) weren’t good, but it was progress. So was his 68.1 snap percentage and six catch day. Buffalo gave up 20 receptions inside of 10 yards last week and have bad coverage linebackers. A moderate price and rumor of an Asiata revival may keep McKinnon lightly owned.
Malcom Floyd is set to see a lot of Marcus Cooper. That’s a good thing for Floyd since Cooper, to be kind, really bad at his job. He’s PFF’s 102nd-graded cover cornerback and has given up so many big plays that Cary Williams thinks he sucks. Floyd’s caught 60 percent of his 10 deep targets (4th-best) and carries a price tag of just $4,800 – which is 31st among wideouts.
Other interesting wideouts include Torrey Smith ($4,400) against Robert Alford (-2.9 coverage grade; 75th); Justin Hunter ($3,700) against David Amerson (-2.6; tied-70th); Pierre Garcon ($5,000) versus The Bleeder, Blidi Wreh-Wilson (-7.5; 98th); and although Jordy Nelson costs the most of any wideout, he gets Antoine Cason (-10.4; 103rd), and even Cooper thinks he sucks.
Last Week’s Lineup
Eli Manning (6.34) – His biggest weakness, a pass rush, was mitigated by the Giants’ new offense…until Week 6.
Matt Forte (37.70) – His 51 targets would have him tied for 12th-most if he were a wide receiver. But he’s not. He’s a PPR assassin.
LeSean McCoy (20.40) – Hopefully you bought low on Shady, or potential trade partners didn’t see the truck lanes he ran through against the Giants.
Golden Tate (11.40) – The 12 targets were there, but a 58% catch rate was well below his seasonal mark of 76%.
Roddy White (7.00) – I don’t even want to talk about it.
Allen Robinson (14.80) – Eight catches on nine targets and an aDOT of 6.2 yards sets a bankable floor for cash games – and he’s improving.
Owen Daniels (5.40) – Owen was the overly polite guy who waits for his coworkers to gorge themselves on a free lunch and gets stuck with the veggie wrap.
Andre Ellington (15.30) – He had plenty of carries (19) and targets (9), but did little with them and didn’t score.
Denver Broncos (15.00) – A late-game Geno Special gave this score a lucky bump, and saved a few cash game dollars in the process.
Total Points Scored – 133.34
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