DraftKings Week Nine: Top plays, values, and fades for GPP
Week two of ‘byepocalypse’ is officially underway. Six teams get their annual bye weeks, limiting the Sunday slate to just ten games worth of players to choose from. Daily fantasy juggernauts such as Le’Veon Bell, Melvin Gordon, Jordan Howard, and Antonio Brown have the week off, which means it’s time to dig deep to find the best plays for those coveted guaranteed prize pool contests.
Just days after earning his ‘matchup-proof’ label, DeShaun Watson’s remarkable rookie season has been brought to an abrupt halt. Watson suffered a torn ACL from a non-contact injury during the Houston Texans’ Thursday practice. While the entire NFL community is devastated by this loss, the show has to go on. Russell Wilson takes Watson’s place as Sunday’s most expensive quarterback, drawing a hefty price tag of $7,300. The pricing is justified, as Wilson’s 136 fantasy points since week three rank second over that span behind just the rookie phenom. Wilson gets the Washington Redskins at home, who don’t offer a perfect matchup but are vulnerable deep. This games takes place in Seattle, which offers a boost to Wilson, but downgrades Kirk Cousins a little. Cousins remains interesting based on price point alone at $5,700. Cousins is the cheapest he’s been all season, despite a 24.5 DK fantasy points per game average over his last four performances. Ownership should be low too, based on an unfavorable road matchup. That being said, Seattle proved last week they were beatable by allowing four touchdowns through the air to Watson and his volatile group of pass catchers.
The Kansas City versus Dallas game insists high DFS exposure due to its 51.5 point over/under. Both Alex Smith and Dak Prescott are extremely playable in this contest, but the advantage lies with Smith. Since the start of this season, Smith has been dominant in both road matchups and high scoring affairs. Smith is averaging 30.6 fantasy points per game away from Arrowhead Stadium while averaging a gaudy 33.4 fantasy points per game in contests with an over/under above 48.5. Smith will demand a price tag of $6,500, with Prescott just 200 dollars more.
Cam Newton hasn’t delivered over his last two performances, but a home matchup versus the division rival Atlanta Falcons could be just what the doctor ordered. Cam is on the cheaper side ($6,300) for a quarterback with such a high ceiling, especially considering he is playing in a scenario he’s performed tremendously in since the start of his career. In six career home games versus the Falcons, Cam holds averages of 300 combined passing and rushing yards, 2.2 total touchdowns, and 26 fantasy points per contest. Matt Ryan is untouchable in this painful road matchup due to his price point and severely diminished ceiling. He has not scored at least 20 DK fantasy points since week one.
Jacoby Brissett has some value and matchup upside at $5,200 against the demoralized Houston Texans. The opposition will have to start Tom Savage, who was an absolute trainwreck in the minimal two quarters of football he’s played this year. Granted, that game was against the ‘Sacksonville’ Jaguars, who have been the most difficult team to throw on this season. This is a great opportunity for Brissett, given that Houston has surrendered the third-most fantasy points to quarterbacks this year.
Drew Brees could finally be worth the price of admission this week as he draws a situation he’s dominated over the course of his career. Brees’ Saints enter their week nine matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as seven-point favorites with the over/under line drawn at 50.5. Brees has been electric in home contests with an over/under line above 49.9, averaging 334 passing yards and 2.7 touchdowns per game in 39 such instances. Jameis Winston could see some fantasy production in garbage time, and the value is there at $5,800. This New Orleans secondary is extremely underrated, however, so expectations on Winston’s ceiling should be kept in check.
Ezekiel Elliott lives to fight for at least one more week. He’s been granted a temporary stay of his suspension, which makes him eligible for this crucial matchup versus Kansas City. The Chiefs have been awful across the board at stopping the run, allowing the second-most rushing yards and fifth-most rushing touchdowns this season. Zeke has tallied 413 rushing yards and five total touchdowns over the last month, so he’s more than worthy of his $9,000 asking price. Players should pay the $8,600 for Kareem Hunt as well. Hunt’s in a bit of a touchdown drought, but this week he faces a Dallas defense that ranks 30th in rush DVOA this year.
Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara are both great RB1 plays at $7,600 and $6,300 a piece versus the Tampa Bay Bucs at home. Ingram has been the highest scoring PPR running back over the last three weeks, while Kamara ranks tenth over that same span. Ingram has certainly seen higher volume since the start of week six, out-touching Kamara 80 to 38. There’s a narrative going around social media that Ingram could be riding the pine pony thanks to a pair of fumbles last week, but the truth is his team has been too successful since he started seeing this ridiculous volume.
In this same matchup, Doug Martin is cheaper than he should be at $5,800. He’s seen great volume since his return in week five, but no one can deny how great New Orleans has played since trading Adrian Peterson a month ago. Just as well, this Buccaneers offense is transitioning into one of the league’s most pass-heavy attacks. Martin has a safe floor for cash games, but the ceiling isn’t high enough to warrant a start in higher stakes tournaments.
Carrying on with the NFC South theme, Christian McCaffrey has a great matchup against the Atlanta Falcons. Few defenses have struggled to stop tailbacks running out of the backfield, as Atlanta has surrendered 50 catches and three receiving touchdowns to the position this year. Devonta Freeman has been extremely disappointing over the past few weeks, thanks mostly to a diminished workload in the passing game. He’s a fade this week, thanks to a tough matchup versus the Panthers, who rank seventh in rush DVOA this season.
Peterson, Andre Ellington, and Carlos Hyde are great values too at $5,200, $3,900, and $5,600 respectively. Hyde has the toughest matchup of the trio, but he has been heavily utilized in the passing game over the last three games. He’s seen 23 targets over that span, and he always carries touchdown upside with him. Peterson has seen a respectable 38 touches since joining Arizona, and Carson Palmer’s injured reserve status will only make the offense lean on the running game even more. Ellington saw 14 targets and caught nine of them the last time he played San Francisco. He’s questionable this week so monitor his situation closely, but he will be a large part of the Cardinals’ game plan if he’s active.
Rounding out running backs this week, DeMarco Murray is fresh off a bye and is the healthiest he’s been since the preseason. Murray is just too cheap at $5,400 for someone that’s averaged 18.3 touches per contest over his last three games. Murray gets a pedestrian run defense in the Baltimore Ravens that ranks 16th in rush DVOA and 31st in rushing yards allowed this season. This game will take place in Tennessee, where Murray has averaged 17.5 PPR fantasy points per game since the start of last year.
Wide Receivers & Tight Ends
Julio Jones’ usage has been criminal this season, but it’s beginning to trend up based on his 26 targets over the last three games. Jones is cheaper than he’s been all season at $7,800, and he gets a matchup he’s had his way with over the course of his career. In nine career games versus the Carolina Panthers, Julio is averaging ten targets and 105 receiving yards per contest. Devin Funchess is a value in this game at just $5,400, due to the fact Kelvin Benjamin is already with his new team in Buffalo. Funchess has seen almost eight targets per game over the last four weeks, and his matchup couldn’t be much better. Atlanta ranks 25th in the NFL in pass DVOA.
The Tampa Bay at New Orleans contest has the second-highest over/under this week, so exposure to some of the pass catchers is mandatory. Mike Evans has a tough matchup, as he’s projected to see some dangerous shadow coverage from Saints rookie cornerback Marshon Lattimore. Evans has been a bit cornerback sensitive this year. He has not caught a touchdown in shadow coverage all season. The volume upside is always there for Evans, who is part of an offense that ranks seventh in pass attempts and second in total passing yards. On the other side of the field, Michael Thomas is 200 dollars cheaper than Evans and has a much better matchup versus the Bucs. Also interesting in this contest is the speedy veteran Tedd Ginn Jr., who has 275 receiving yards over his past three games. Ginn is a value at just $5,000 in what is sure to be a high scoring affair.
Tyreek Hill ($6,500) warrants all of the exposure this week in the contest that’s been gifted the highest over/under of the week. Hill has logged a staggering 73 percent of his total receiving yards and all of his touchdowns on the road this year. Stack him with his MVP-candidate quarterback Alex Smith for maximum success.
With Savage now under center, it’s best to fade both DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller at their respective price tags of $9,200 and $7,000. The player to own in this contest is Jack Doyle, who despite his deliciously low price of $4,300, has been extremely useful over the last three games. Doyle has caught 25 of 32 targets over that span and has developed some respectable chemistry with quarterback Jacoby Brissett.
Evan Engram is fresh off a bye week and ranks fifth and sixth in tight end targets and PPR fantasy points, respectively. Engram has touchdowns in each of his last two contests and has inherited the number one option role in this injury-depleted Giants receiving core. Jimmy Graham is a better value, however at just $5,000. Graham has been touchdown machine as of late, getting into the end zone four times over his last three performances. The former Saint has a great matchup versus the Redskins, who have allowed the most receiving yards to tight ends this year. Vernon Davis is a value in this contest as well at $4,100, but that’s only if Jordan Reed is forced to sit.
Finally, there’s upside for Bengals tight end Tyler Kroft, who could see a few extra looks in a matchup versus the hostile Jaguars secondary. With wide receivers A.J. Green and Brandon LaFell facing the toughest matchups they’ll see all season, a low priced dart throw at Kroft makes sense.