DraftKings Plays: Week 9
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 9 Cash Games Lineup
QB: Colin Kaepernick ($7,000) vs St Louis Rams (44)
The 49ers will find more success on the ground than a few weeks ago, when the Rams held them under three yards per attempt. Yet attacking through the air will be easier against a defense that ranks 25th in pass coverage (-24.2) and has just six sacks (32nd-most). On a per game basis, the Rams have allowed the ninth-most plays over the last month after surrendering the fewest in September. That’s an ominous trend considering that they give up the most points per snap (0.49).
RB: Ronnie Hillman ($5,600) at New England Patriots (54.5)
The RB6 in PPR leagues since taking over three weeks ago, Hillman is getting just under 20 carries (19.3) and just over four targets (4.3) during that time. He was allowed to pass block 10 times last week and is yet to allow a Pressure of Peyton. A year ago, Bill Belichick famously dared Manning to repeatedly hand-off by using ultra-light fronts, and would probably be okay with a repeat of Knowshon Moreno’s 37-carry, 224-yard, one touchdown day if it meant another win. So would we.
RB: LeSean McCoy ($5,200) at Houston Texans (48.5)
Philly’s offensive line is nearly fully operational, and McCoy’s three largest rushing attempt and yardage totals have come in his last three outings. He’s forced 11 missed tackles in the last two, is just 14th-most expensive at his position, and will face Houston’s pregnable run defense (26th; -17.0). The Texans have received run defense grades totaling -16.8 against the NFC East’s other inhabitants and are surrendering per-game averages of 5.6 catches (6.8 targets), 52.3 yards, and 0.5 scores to running backs.
WR: Antonio Brown ($9,100) vs Baltimore Ravens (48)
His seven catches for 90 yards in Week 2 can be viewed as a floor – one that still supports the highest salary among wideouts. This time he won’t have to worry about Jimmy Smith, who held him to six yards on four targets. Brown hasn’t seen fewer than 10 targets since Week 1, less than 84 yards all season, and averages just under a touchdown per game (0.9). Baltimore is surrendering the seventh-most fantasy points to wideouts and Vegas projects Pittsburgh to score roughly 24 points.
WR: DeAndre Hopkins ($5,400) vs Philadelphia Eagles (48.5)
The week’s third-highest over/under features the league’s most up-tempo offense against one that’s run the second-most no-huddle plays during the last two weeks. Philly allows the second-most snaps and the fourth-most points to receivers. Hopkins has recorded 20 targets and 203 yards in the last two weeks (both 7th-most) and will match up against Bradley Fletcher (-3.8 coverage grade; 84th). His price is depressed (17th-most expensive WR) in part because all three of his touchdowns came in September.
WR: Andrew Hawkins ($4,900) vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers (43.5)
The over/under is low, but Vegas projects the Browns to score roughly 25 points and Hawkins is a huge part of their offense – especially with Jordan Cameron out and the run game sputtering. The Browns’ primary slot receiver is averaging 8.7 targets, 7 catches, 81.7 yards, and 0.3 touchdowns when Cameron plays fewer than 35 percent of snaps. Baby Hawk should feast on coverage that’s allowed 25 catches (30 targets), for 260 yards and two scores to slot receivers (125.0 QBR).
TE: Julius Thomas ($5,600) at New England Patriots (54.5)
The Patriots only give up the 14th-most fantasy points to tight ends, but that’s deceiving considering their opponents. Martellus Bennett ripped them for 21.5 PPR points and Travis Kelce similarly had his way. Like last week, expect Belichick to concentrate on outside threats that can score quickly. Thomas missed 2013’s regular season meeting, but the Patriots still gave up six catches for 50 yards and a score to his fellow tight ends. Thomas got them for 85 yards and a touchdown on eight catches in the playoffs.
FLEX: Jeremy Hill ($4,000) vs Jacksonville Jaguars (43.5)
With news that Giovani Bernard is unlikely to play, Hill will be widely owned because of his price and matchup. The Bengals have the 10th-best run blocking offense (+32.6) and the Jaguars’ run defense ranks 27th (-64.1). Like the rest of the Bengals, Hill looked better in the first three games (5.1 yards per carry) than the last four (2.6 YPC). The hope is, with A.J. Green set to return, a rising tide lifts all ships. The Jags have been feisty of late, but this is a defensive play that allows us to roster Antonio Brown.
DEF: San Francisco 49ers ($3,200) vs St Louis Rams (44)
Everyone loves Austin Davis but, even if he’s really a thing, the kid has no chance. The Rams rank 31st in pass blocking (-32.5) and have allowed 23 sacks (tied 4th-most) – seven of which came last week when Davis faced pressure on more than 60 percent of his dropbacks. Plus they lost Jake Long during that flaying in Kansas City. They’re again big road underdogs (+9.5) and will face a well-rested defense that ranks eighth against the run, second in pass coverage, and sacked Davis five times just three weeks ago.
Total Salary: $50,000
The bloom was off Eli Manning after the Giants’ primetime flop in Philadelphia, but he did manage to bounce back with the fifth-best fantasy quarterback performance in Week 7. It feels a bit forgotten after New York’s bye, despite their Week 9 opponent having been beaten like a rented mule less than a week ago. It would be a stretch to call him a contrarian play, but his usage may be surprisingly low.
Ryan Fitzpatrick is a contrarian play because, well …nobody thinks FitzMagic is cool. But he is cheap, and most bargain hunters will be drawn to the identically-priced Alex Smith. While Smith will be busy against the Jets, the Chiefs game has an over/under of a full touchdown less than the Texans matchup with the Eagles. If big-time fireworks are going to be launched by either of these $5,700 men, it’s likely to be the Amish Rifle.
I see Marshawn Lynch as more of a GPP than cash game play not because he’s taken a flamethrower to bankrolls the last two weeks, but because it’s tough to accurately project his workload. His own performance hasn’t fallen off, and he can go off at any moment – but in an expected blowout (Seattle is favored by more than two touchdowns), twenty-plus touches are far from guaranteed.
Lynch is averaging 68 percent of Seattle’s snaps, a mark he failed to meet on four occasions last season. The average margin of victory was 26.8 points and he saw 18.3 carries per game. During the 10 games in 2013 that Lynch attempted 18 runs or fewer, he averaged 59.8 yards and 0.5 touchdowns. Add in the fact that the 3.3 receptions he averaged in his first four 2014 games have fallen to 1.3 during the last few.
Of course in those four 2013 blowouts, he scored four touchdowns – so I’ll play him this week, but only in a GPP.
Jeremy Maclin went nuclear last week (45.70 points) and will be heavily owned as gamers chase his points. He’s also sits at the edge of a huge salary cliff, with a $1,200 drop into a Sanuvian abyss that also includes a gimpy A.J. Green, Washington’s wideouts, and Brandon LaFell. Maclin ($7,600) is the cheapest option in the more desirable neighborhood where Dez Bryant, T.Y. Hilton, and Emmanuel Sanders reside.
Maclin does have a cherry matchup against Jonathan Joseph, whose coverage grade is -5.6 over the last five weeks after he got off to a +4.0 start. Since Week 3, he’s allowed 31 catches for 462 yards (14.9 YPC), and two scores. Maclin isn’t a bad tourney play, but keep in mind that he’s going to attract quite a crowd.
Although this is a heavy bye week, it’s hasn’t really thinned the tight end crop – other than The Unicorn, of course. Larry Donnell stands out in his matchup against a Colts defense that allows the sixth-most points to his position, and makes a tidy stack with Manning. However the stars are aligning for Travis Kelce to pop, despite his thus far mind-melting workload. They’ll have to score the Vegas-projected 25.5 points somehow, right?
The Jets can’t cover anyone, but find tight ends particularly tricky. They allow the fourth-most fantasy points to the position, including nine touchdowns in their last six games. While Kansas City does have wideouts on their roster, they might as well be extra punters for as often as they’re used. The Chiefs won’t be running much either, as the Jets can at least do one thing right (+59.9; top-graded run defense).
Betting that Andy Reid will be rational has been known to cause seizures, smashed furniture, and voracious day-drinking …but this is the week Kelce Truthers finally say “Oh Yeah!”
Last Week’s Lineup
Nick Foles (26.84) – Rarely pretty, but at least he’s always got the volume turned up.
Marshawn Lynch (7.40) – Everything but pretty, and useless when the volume is down (14 carries).
Ben Tate (10.40) – A late touchdown saved his fantasy day from disaster, and we’ll take it – but not feel great about it.
Dez Bryant (12.00) – Romo’s injury, Washington’s blitzes, better-than-expected cornerback play, and a rough drop conspired to cap Dez.
Sammy Watkins (27.70) – He’s the new frontrunner for ‘coolest thing Orton’s ignited as Bills quarterback.’
Michael Floyd (0.00) – I don’t even want to talk about it.
Rob Gronkowski (44.90) – Remember when Gronk was just inches shy of scoring four times in 60 minutes? That was awesome.
Jerick McKinnon (9.20) – 15th in carries and yards per attempt, but a season-low one target capped the value play’s upside.
Miami Dolphins (28.80) – Before the game we’d have thought Bortles throwing three touchdowns would’ve been a bad thing.
Total Points Scored – 167.24
*- If you didn’t have games open from Thursday that included the London matchup, you were (thankfully) able to avoid using Joique Bell (8.10) and the Lions Defense (4.00), in favor of Tate and Miami. That would have saved 27.10 points, and been the difference between winning and losing most cash games.
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