Week 9 daily fantasy advice: Previewing the week in DFS
Week 8 was wonky. It started on Sunday morning in another country when the Cincinnati Bengals and Washington Redskins played to a tie, and it continued all the way through Monday night, when the Chicago Bears mauled the suddenly bad Minnesota Vikings. Throw in a handful of injuries to the chalk, and the end result was a weird week in DFS.
We’re back at it for Week 9, and as usual, this column will provide some early-week thoughts on players, salaries, matchups or anything else I find noteworthy in my initial pass through the players on DraftKings and FanDuel.
The Thursday night game figures to draw plenty of attention from the DFS crowd. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will play host to the Atlanta Falcons. There could be a ton of scoring in this game. It might be a good week to play the Thursday-Monday slates to get some Buccaneers and Falcons on your roster, while fading the Monday game, which could be a low-scoring affair between the Buffalo Bills and Seattle Seahawks.
For the second week in a row, there are six teams on bye (Cardinals, Bears, Bengals, Texans, Patriots and Redskins), which leaves just 11 games on Sunday’s main slate. Fortunately, there’s not another London game, and the games are actually spread evenly across Sunday. There are six 1 p.m. games and four 4 p.m. games. If you’re a fan of the late afternoon (including Sunday night) slate, this is the week for you.
That’s the topline look at Week 9. It’s time to take a closer look. Remember, this is not meant as a comprehensive, refined list of players I love, like, or hate each week. These are early-week musings.
(Note: I’m providing only DraftKings and FanDuel salaries as I live in Florida, where Yahoo does not operate.)
When searching for savings, I often turn to the quarterback position. But that might not be the case this week, as many of the top-10 options have matchups worthy of the price tag. There are, however, some landmines to avoid among the more expensive options. We’ll go over one of them below.
He’s probably going to be popular, but I really like Andrew Luck as the fourth-most-expensive option on DraftKings ($6,700) and the fifth-most-expensive on FanDuel ($8,000). The Colts will play against the Green Bay Packers in what should be a high-scoring contest. He’s coming off a poor performance in which he threw for just 210 yards — his second-lowest total of the season — but he also had a 45-yard touchdown to Donte Moncrief called back due to penalty, and T.Y. Hilton’s hamstring injury rendered Luck’s top target inefficient.
Speaking of expensive quarterbacks, I’m not a fan of Derek Carr on FanDuel this week ($7,700). He’s the sixth-priciest quarterback, and people may be all over him because of his blowup game last week in which he threw for 513 yards and four touchdowns. But it took Carr nearly five full quarters to compile those stats, and he threw the ball 59 times — the most of his career. Matchups against Denver’s defense always scare me, and doubly so when it’s an expensive player riding a high.
I think I like Marcus Mariota on both FanDuel ($7,600) and DraftKings ($5,900) this week. He has a nice matchup against the San Diego Chargers, who rank 24th in passing defense. For his part, Mariota has thrown 10 touchdowns over the past four weeks, including at least two in every game. Mariota’s Week 8 numbers would have been even better, but there was no reason to keep the foot on the gas against the lifeless Jaguars on Thursday night. He ended the game by completing 18 of 22 passes for 270 yards and two touchdowns. His legs weren’t needed. Against the more competitive Chargers, Mariota could have a big week.
If you’re feeling dangerous but want a bargain, check out Colin Kaepernick on DraftKings ($5,600). The Saints pass defense ranks 29th, and while Kaepernick doesn’t pose much of a threat as a passer — he has completed a laughable 45.3 percent of his passes — he has racked up 17 rushes for 150 yards in just two games, giving him a decent floor. The Saints will score enough points against the 49ers to keep Kaepernick busy all day long.
Choosing running backs will be difficult this week. The most expensive options are obvious, but it’s hard to fit more than one in your lineup. Searching for sure-fire value at the running back spot might be difficult. This could be the week a contrarian running back or two pays dividends.
Ezekiel Elliott is not only the most expensive running back on FanDuel ($9,200), but he’s also the most expensive player across all positions. And it’s probably worth paying up for him, thanks to his matchup against the Cleveland Browns. The Browns have the second-worst run defense in the league. Considering Elliott has feasted on some great run defenses, it stands to reason that he’ll obliterate the Browns. He still leads the league in rushing yards (799) despite playing one fewer game than the likes of DeMarco Murray and David Johnson.
Last week’s favorite bargain running back, Devontae Booker, shot up in price this week. He’s now the sixth-most-expensive running back on DraftKings ($6,400). He’s only 10th on FanDuel. Booker touched the ball 24 times and gained 84 total yards with a score while serving as Denver’s feature back in Week 8, so the jump in price was definitely warranted, but it seems a bit much. He’s somehow pricier than Melvin Gordon, who continues to be force-fed the ball.
Mark Ingram was benched in Week 8, and he saw his replacement (Tim Hightower) carry the ball 26 times for 102 yards. It was a nightmare scenario for Ingram and Ingram fantasy owners. It does, however, open the door for a Week 9 value play. Given how well Hightower played, he likely turned this into a split backfield — but Ingram was never a super high-volume player any way. He is only $4,800 on DraftKings, and if he gets 12-15 rushing attempts, he could score 20-plus points against the feckless 49ers, who rank last in run defense.
I would recommend Don Jackson at only $3,100 on DraftKings and $5,500 on FanDuel against the terrible Colts’ run defense, but Jackson is awful, and I wouldn’t put him in my starting lineups, so I can’t recommend you do the same. This is a value trap.
There are a lot of great wide receiver options this week, ranging from the 10 most expensive all the way down to the players near minimum salary. This will definitely be the most flexible position of the week.
I love Jarvis Landry this week, and I think he’s viable both on DraftKings ($7,100) and FanDuel ($7,600). He’s playing against the New York Jets, who have the No. 1 run defense but No. 32 pass defense. This is the definition of “funnel defense.”
T.Y. Hilton is the eighth-most-expensive wideout on FanDuel ($7,600), which seems to be too cheap. Hilton should roast Green Bay slot man Micah Hyde, and people may be off of him because of his terrible Week 8, in which he caught just one of five targets. Hilton’s hamstring definitely needs to be monitored during the week, but assuming he’s good to go, I’ll definitely have some Luck-Hilton stacks.
I seriously do not understand why Michael Thomas doesn’t get more love on the DFS sites. He has been my favorite player all year, and it looks like that trend will continue in Week 9 when Thomas and the Saints take on the 49ers. He is only $5,800 on FanDuel, despite the fact he has emerged as the best receiver on the Saints. From Weeks 2-8, Thomas leads all Saints receivers in targets, receptions, yards and touchdowns.
Tyreek Hill is only $3,400 on DraftKings and $4,700 on FanDuel, and he’s worth a look in tournaments. Over the past four weeks, he has been Kansas City’s highest-scoring fantasy receiver by a sizable margin. He has caught 13 of 15 targets for 180 yards and three touchdowns in that span. He’s still not seeing enough playing time to warrant cash game consideration (only about 30 percent of snaps), but he has been incredibly efficient. Hill has gained 3.84 yards per route run this season, which ranks first among all receivers who have seen at least 10 targets. He has also scored 1.06 fantasy points per opportunity, which ranks first among all receivers. He is a breakout waiting to happen.
There are some great cheap tight ends worth playing this week — but it completely depends on which DFS site you prefer. Some players are appropriately priced on one site, but criminally underpriced on another, and vice versa. It was hard to find one-size-fits-all tight end evaluations this week; each site truly needed its own take.
Kyle Rudolph is definitely an option on FanDuel this week, where he’s priced at $5,000 as the 15th-most-expensive tight end. There’s no way he finishes worse than TE12 against the Detroit Lions, who continue to be miserable against tight ends. The Lions have given up eight touchdowns to tight ends in as many games. Rudolph started the season hot, and while he has been a plodder recently, he still ranks fifth among tight ends in targets (50). He looks like a great play on FanDuel, where’s he’s severely underpriced. For comparison, he’s the fourth-most-expensive option on DraftKings.
You can and should consider Antonio Gates at $3,000 on DraftKings. Since returning in Week 5, Gates snap rates have been: 34.6 percent, 47 percent, 50.7 percent and finally 67.9 percent last week. Gates has generated 18 targets over the past two weeks, first among all tight ends. Up next are the Tennessee Titans, who have given up 11-129-1 and 12-92-1 lines to tight ends in their last two contests.
I feel gross writing this, but Lance Kendricks also deserves consideration against the Carolina Panthers. He is $2,900 on DraftKings and the minimum $4,500 on FanDuel. He has seen decent volume this year (at least six targets in four of seven games, including three of the past four), and he has at least five receptions in three of his past four outings as well. The Panthers have given up the second-most fantasy points to tight ends so far this year.