DraftKings Plays: Week 8
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 (GPPs). 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 8 Cash Games Lineup
QB: Nick Foles ($6,300) at Arizona Cardinals (48)
Coming off of a bye week and following an uninspiring Week 6 performance, Foles’ salary has plummeted. The 17th-most expensive quarterback faces a defense that has the 31st-ranked pass rush (-17.4) and 24th-best coverage grade (-18.8), but stops the run (+16.2; 10th). Philly rips off the third-most plays (68.3) and Foles attempts the fourth-most throws per game (39.5). His passer rating is 43.3 points lower when he’s under pressure, which won’t be an issue against the Cardinals’ flaccid pass rush.
RB: Marshawn Lynch ($7,100) at Carolina Panthers (44)
Despite last week’s disappointing results, Lynch saw his third-highest carry total of the season and a couple of passing targets. Expect that trend to continue as Seattle gets back to what they do best, against a defense that’s one of the worst at defending it. Carolina has allowed 5.6 yards per carry and seven rushing touchdowns over the last five games. They’re five-point underdogs at home, and Lynch should be salting away a late lead.
RB: Joique Bell ($4,800) in London vs Atlanta Falcons (46.5)*
Bell is the PPR RB14 during the four weeks he has gotten 15 or more carries. He’s the 19th-most expensive back this week, and with Reggie Bush missing practices with an ankle injury, Bell can expect the Lions’ share of backfield touches. He’s averaging more than four targets per game and will get goal line work for a team currently bereft of other options down there. The Falcons give up the most fantasy points to running backs and, to be frank, their defense sucks.
WR: Dez Bryant ($6,900) vs Washington (49.5)
He’s seen double-digit targets in each of the last three (12.3/game) and caught nine in both of the contests in which Richard Sherman wasn’t covering him. Bryant will see a lot of PFF’s 72nd-“best” coverage corner, David Amerson – who hasn’t graded positively since Week 2 against the Jaguars. Dez is cranking up one of his patented hot stretches, Tony Romo is playing lights-out, and Dallas may ease DeMarco Murray’s workload against a stingy run defense after he pulled up a bit lame last week.
WR: Sammy Watkins ($5,700) at New York Jets (40.5)
The Bills have passed 68 percent of the time under Kyle Orton, versus 56 percent when they were hiding E.J. Manuel. While catching passes from Orton, Watkins is the 9th-best PPR wideout and his target volume has spiked. Considering Buffalo’s running back troubles, that’s not about to regress. New York’s opponents have a 1.53 pass-to-run ratio (8th-highest), even with a lot of late-game clock-grinding against their 1-6 clownshow. They can stop the run (+43.7; 1st) but can’t cover anyone (-19.8; 25th).
WR: Michael Floyd ($4,900) vs Philadelphia Eagles (48)
To this point Floyd has profiled as a GPP play and certainly qualifies as one again this week. However, he’s been the PPR WR19 when Carson Palmer plays, despite moderate target volume (5.3 per game). That will change against the Eagles, who allow 71.7 plays per game to opponents (2nd-most) and give up the seventh-most fantasy points to wideouts. Last year Floyd caught passes against all three of Philly’s current starting cornerbacks on his way to a five-catch (nine-target), 99-yard, one touchdown day.
TE: Rob Gronkowski ($5,900) vs Chicago Bears (50.5)
After averaging six targets and 20.8 pass routes run through Week 4, Gronk is getting 9.3 looks and 37 routes per game. His steadily rising snap percentage broke 90 last week, and he’ll have had 10 days off between games. He’s still the TE3 in PPR leagues over the past three weeks despite only scoring once. In the last two games that the Bears have faced an offense that prominently features a tight end, they’ve allowed 14 catches for 179 yards and three scores to the position.
FLEX: Jerick McKinnon ($4,900) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (42)
This is a defensive play because he’ll be widely owned at this price. He broke 20 touches for the first time last week and is averaging 4.7 targets (3.7 receptions) in the last three games. His 4.8 yards per carry mark in the last two contests have come against a pair of run defenses in PFF’s top-five. Tampa allows the fourth-most plays to opponents (69.3) and the most points per snap (0.49). After the last two games, gashing the Bucs’ league-worst run defense (-30.2) will feel like a walk in the park.
DEF: Detroit Lions ($3,400) in London vs Atlanta Falcons (46.5)*
The underdog Falcons have allowed 36 hurries and seven sacks in the last two games, and the Lions have accumulated 45 hurries and 11 sacks in their last two. Matt Ryan has been pressured at the league’s sixth-highest rate (36.3%), and his passer rating with a clean pocket (106.6) is 47.7 points higher than when he’s feeling a rush. Steven Jackson and his many understudies won’t be of assistance, as Atlanta’s run blocking (-27.6; 31st) will get steamrolled by Detroit’s rush defense (+26.5; 5th).
Total Salary: $49,900
*- If you were unable to open cash games before Thursday night you will not be able to use Lions and Falcons players, unless DraftKings adds more contests before the early London game on Sunday. In that case, using Ben Tate ($4,600; more on him below) and the Miami Dolphins defense ($3,300) would be a recommended pivot. That would also allow a move to Carson Palmer ($6,500; more on him below), if Foles makes you feel squeamish.
I’m going to enter that cash lineup in a couple of GPPs because, in addition to what hopefully is a safe statistical floor, it offers plenty of upside. DraftKings awards three-point bonuses for 300-yards passing and 100-yard rushing and receiving performances. We occasionally get cash games tunnel vision on high-floor players (like Andrew Hawkins), and reduce our chances to realize that extra juice. I’m not advocating using obvious boom-or-bust options in cash lineups, although Floyd may appear to be one – but am recommending we stay mindful of needlessly capping our points ceiling.
Palmer is a really strong play, as are most quarterbacks when they face the Eagles. He’s the QB10 in the three games he’s started and will be chucking it against a defense that can stop the run. One of the reasons I chose Foles over Palmer is Connor Barwin (7 sacks in last three games) almost single-handedly wrecked Eli Manning’s Week 6, and could give right tackle Bobby Massie fits. That risk is more digestible in GPPs than in a cash lineup, even if it seems a small worry.
Tate’s ownership will be lower after he took a flamethrower to his investors’ lineups last week (4.4 PPR points). The matchup against Jacksonville looked juicy, but they’d been quietly turning their defense around for a few weeks, and losing standout center Alex Mack (+5.1 run block grade) had a negative cascade effect on their line’s interior. Fortunately they get a brutal Oakland run defense and are favored by a touchdown at home. He’s a rarely seen lineup diversificator with a strong matchup.
John Brown should pop a couple against an Eagles defense that’s allowing the seventh-most fantasy points to wideouts. Larry Fitzgerald will bite the bullet (Brandon Boykin) in the slot while Brown blows by Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher on the outside. Both passing games will have success in this high snap volume matchup, and Brown ($3,300) is a cheap way to get exposure. Floyd, at $1,600 more, is a surer thing but will obviously be owned quite a bit more.
It will be interesting to see how Philly divides up their tight end workload coming out of their bye. Brent Celek saw 78 percent of snaps (season-high) in each of their last two contests, and Zach Ertz got 41 percent in both of those games (season-low). Ertz’s pass routes have fallen to the point where they’re in the same range as Celek’s. Considering Arizona’s allergy to covering tight ends, both could meet their dirt cheap price – and one of them is trendy while the other won’t be owned.
Last Week’s Lineup
Aaron Rodgers (24.30) – The third-most quarterback points, on the 28th-most pass attempts, left us in need of a cold shower.
Marshawn Lynch (9.10) – His three runs that totaled 38 yards and a touchdown, but were called back due to penalties, would have been….helpful.
Justin Forsett (9.50) – He did tally the third-most rushing attempts, but got zero targets or touchdowns.
Brandon Marshall (10.80) – Seven of his 10 targets were catchable (8th-most), but Miami simply defended well and only allowed Chicago 51 snaps. Hat tip to them.
Brandin Cooks (4.30) – I don’t even want to talk about it.
Wes Welker (14.00) – The 23rd-most PPR points for a dirt-cheap price looks like a win, but in reality we got lucky that one of his three targets yielded a 39-yard touchdown.
Larry Donnell (14.00) – When Larry Donnell is one of the most recognizable names on the weekly top-10 tight end scoring list, then …well I really don’t know what the hell that means.
Le’Veon Bell (28.50) – He led all running backs in targets and broke his scoring drought. Unfortunately he helped most by making the score look minimally respectable.
Washington Defense (6.00) – Chaz Whitehurst was under pressure on almost half of his dropbacks (45%; 3rd-most), possesses the agility of a drunk Drew Bledsoe, and was only sacked once. Good times…
Total Points Scored – 120.50
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