DFS advice for Thursday's Cardinals-49ers game
It’s been fun watching Thursday night games this year. It seems like the offenses have been bringing their “A” game in most situations, as six of the eight teams (75 percent) that have played on Thursday night have scored 20 or more points. Of course, 26 of 36 teams (72 percent) were able to accomplish that feat last year, so sometimes the Thursday games get a bad rap.
What about Thursday night versus the Sunday and Monday games? Now four weeks in, there have been 118 teams to play on Sunday and Monday, and of them, 72 have been able to score 20 or more points. That is just 61 percent, so the argument that Thursday players underperform doesn’t hold much water.
This Thursday, both teams — the Cardinals and 49ers — will have to put their best foot forward in order to reach the 20-point barrier. The Cardinals have failed to top 18 points in their last two games, and are likely to be without Carson Palmer, while the 49ers have also failed to top 18 points in their last two games. But there are some solid options for DFS purposes in this game, so let’s take a look at them.
Drew Stanton, Cardinals (DraftKings $5,000, FanDuel $6,300, Yahoo $23)
If you play in a superflex league, Stanton might be appealing as a desperation option if you had one or two quarterbacks on their bye week, but in DFS? Probably not. The 49ers would be the ideal matchup for almost any quarterback, as they have allowed multiple passing touchdowns and at least 18 fantasy points to the quarterback position in each of their last three games (Cam Newton, the combination of Russell Wilson/Trevone Boykin, and Dak Prescott). The problem with Stanton is that he’s played with the combination of Michael Floyd, John Brown and Larry Fitzgerald before in 2014, and maxed out at just 19.4 fantasy points. That’s not good for a ceiling, and on top of that, they didn’t have David Johnson to carry the load back then — they had Andre Ellington. It’d be shocking if Stanton throws the ball 30 times in this game, leaving him as a fade in all DFS types.
Blaine Gabbert, 49ers (DraftKings $5,000, FanDuel $6,500, Yahoo $23)
Another unappetizing option at the quarterback position, Gabbert has managed to keep some hope alive in San Francisco (well, at least Chip Kelly’s hope), despite throwing for just 315 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions over the last two weeks combined. Gabbert has shown a steady floor with his legs, as he’s been able to score at least 13.5 fantast points in all non-Seahawks games. The Cardinals match up extremely well against the 49ers, though, considering Torrey Smith will essentially be removed from the equation with Patrick Peterson, and the Cardinals have held every running back not named LeSean McCoy to fewer than 3.3 yards per carry. This will likely be a very slow-paced game, and that does not bode well for Gabbert against this secondary. The Cardinals did allow Tyrod Taylor to run for 76 yards and a touchdown against them, but don’t count on Gabbert to do that. Stay away from the risk of a three-interception game.
David Johnson, Cardinals (DraftKings $7,900, FanDuel $9,000, Yahoo $39)
The price of Johnson continues to go up with each passing week, and rightfully so. He’s been a top-15 PPR running back every single week, and he’s been a top-six running back twice. He was going to be worth his price of admission before Chris Johnson was sent to the IR, but the good news (well, for David Johnson in fantasy at least) just keeps on coming. The 49ers, who have allowed back-to-back-to-back 100-yard rushers, just lost their best interior lineman, DeForest Buckner, who has graded in the top-25 among interior lineman against the run. Even with him on the field for nearly every snap, the 49ers have allowed over 4.6 yards per carry on the year, and just got done allowing rookie Ezekiel Elliott to rush for 138 yards on 23 carries, despite breaking just one tackle all game. Johnson is breaking a tackle once every 3.25 touches and is going to destroy this 49ers defense. Despite being the highest-priced running back on DraftKings, you can actually call him a bargain at $7,900. Get him in every lineup that you can, and expect him to carry you.
Carlos Hyde, 49ers (DraftKings $4,800, FanDuel $7,200, Yahoo $28)
It’s been a lot of fun playing Hyde the last few weeks in DFS, especially last week on DraftKings, where he cost just $4,200 against the Cowboys. Unfortunately for him, he’ll be running into the Cardinals, who are not dealing with any injuries on their front-seven. As a matter of fact, Calais Campbell should be eating up the duo of LG Zane Beadles (who graded as a 54.4 last year, and a 48.3 this year) and Daniel Kilgore (who has played well in 2016, but was a major disappointment in 2015). The Cardinals’ run defense hasn’t been their problem, as they’ve held LeGarrette Blount to just 70 yards on 22 carries, the combination of Doug Martin and Charles Sims to 47 yards on 16 carries, and then Todd Gurley to just 33 yards on 19 carries. The only player to succeed against the Cardinals was LeSean McCoy, and he’s a completely different type of running back. Hyde is an easy fade on FanDuel and Yahoo, priced as a top-13 option on both sites. Despite the fact that Hyde’s price is still low and tempting at just $4,800 on DraftKings, the risk is greater than the reward.
Larry Fitzgerald (DraftKings $7,200, FanDuel $7,200, Yahoo $31); Michael Floyd (DraftKings $4,900, FanDuel $6,600, Yahoo $18); John Brown, Cardinals (DraftKings $4,400, FanDuel $6,500, Yahoo $18)
It’s going to be a chore to rank these three wide receivers every week, but if Palmer is in fact out for this game, it gets a bit easier. Going through the data of these players with Stanton behind center speak volumes. Take a look at how each have performed both with and without him over the last three years.
|with Stanton||without Stanton|
As you can see, the player most clearly affected by the transition to Stanton is Floyd, as he sees a 33-percent drop in his production. Fitzgerald also sees a dip, though his is a moderate 16.7 percent. The real winner here is Brown, who saw just an 11.8-percent dropoff in production.
This all actually aligns with their matchup on Thursday night as well, because Floyd typically lines up on the left side of the formation, which would put him up against Rashard Robinson, who has graded as the 49ers best cornerback, and has allowed a minuscule three catches for 20 yards with three passes defensed on just seven targets. Although it’s a small sample size, he’s the toughest matchup, making Floyd an even less intriguing play.
While it’s hard to recommend any Cardinals wide receiver with Stanton behind center, if pressed, it’d be Brown, considering his history with Stanton, and the matchup against Tramaine Brock, who has allowed a massive 18.3 yards per catch, and has already allowed two touchdowns in his coverage this year. Brown is the GPP option if you’re looking for one of the Cardinals wide receivers, while Fitzgerald likely has the safest floor. It appears as if 49ers slot cornerback Jimmie Ward will miss another week, and the 49ers also just lost their leading linebacker NaVorro Bowman for the year. The middle of the field will be exposed, but again, this should be a David Johnson scoring bonanza, leaving few pass attempts for this wide receiving corps.
San Francisco 49ers
This gets a paragraph because it would be weird to completely ignore a prime position like wide receiver, but come on, you aren’t using anyone here.
As we have witnessed multiple times this year, it’s not wise to start a tight end coming off a week where he’s been injured, and that is precisely the case with Vance McDonald of the 49ers. If he is inactive, it would leave a lot of snaps for Garrett Celek, but there’s not much to get excited for, as the Cardinals have allowed an average of just 2.5 fantasy points to opposing tight ends. And on the Cardinals side … well, no.