Last week was one of the highest scoring weeks in daily fantasy in a long time. I had several tournament teams in the 200s, but they were nowhere near the upper echelon of scores for big GPPs.
The quarterback selections were excellent last week, with Cam Newton having a huge game as my number one play. I hope you guys ended up pivoting off Starks and Lynch and got Peterson into your lineups. Marshall provided amazing value at receiver and tight ends, per usual, were hit or miss for the most part.
As far as injury concerns, running backs lead the way this week. Despite catching a touchdown last week, LeSean McCoy is highly unlikely to play this week with a hamstring injury. This vaults rookie Karlos Williams into must-play territory depending on pricing.
Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch is 50/50 to play on Monday evening, putting us in a tough spot if we consider rostering backup Thomas Rawls. Arian Foster may return this week and will be a game-time decision against the Falcons. Foster isn’t a cash game play, but if he suits up, he would be an excellent tournament option against a leaky Falcons’ run defense.
There are far fewer concerns on the pass catching side. The most notable will be Packers’ receiver Davante Adams, who was sporting a walking boot on Wednesday after injuring himself in last week’s game. Adams’ absence from Sunday’s tilt against San Francisco seems likely.
That would thrust Ty Montgomery into a near every-down third receiver role. He’s minimum priced on DraftKings. Making him a viable punt play, but in all likelihood, Adams’ absence increases the targets for both Randall Cobb and James Jones.
Cash Games and Tournaments
In this article, we’ll go position by position in terms of my favorite picks for the week. I also will be mentioning if I like a player more in cash games or tournaments. This is standard daily fantasy lingo and is simple to understand.
Cash games are contests where you have to beat a few other players, such as head-to-head or 50/50 contests. In these games, you only need to beat your opponent or place in the upper half of the field to cash. Cash games could also extend to 3-man contests or triple ups, or even larger contests. In these types of games, we want players who have an excellent floor of points and aren’t necessarily looking for upside (though, it certainly helps).
Tournaments are large field prize pools that consist of hundreds of players to thousands of players. For example, the Week 1 Millionaire Maker has over 500,000 thousand available entries. In large fields, it pays to be more contrarian. For tournaments or GPPs (guaranteed prize pools), we’re looking for players who are lesser-owned and have high upside or ceilings.
In summation, in cash games, we’re looking for high floors and per point value and in tournaments, high ceilings, and low ownership percentages.
Now, onto the picks for Week 4.
Thursday Night Football
The Steelers are +2.5 underdogs at home against the visiting Ravens as they kick off their AFC North divisional series this Thursday. With Ben Roethlisberger on the shelf for several weeks with an injury, Michael Vick will start at quarterback.
Vick’s low price and rushing upside make him a viable play in Thursday leagues, as he is min priced on DraftKings and extremely low on FanDuel. Le’Veon Bell would also fit into that category, as Pittsburgh will try to heavily rely on the running game.
Though the game has a lower total at 44 points, Joe Flacco is certainly in play as a tournament option considering Pittsburgh’s poor defense and their surprising, above-average run defense so far.
The first of several NFL games in London begins this weekend as the Jets face the Dolphins at Wembley Stadium. New York is a -2 favorite as the “road team” in this one, but the total is extremely low at 41.5.
There is not much to like in this matchup on either side, particularly if Decker suits up for the Jets. The Dolphins have struggled to get it going offensively, and I doubt that begins to happen against a stout Jets’ defense.
Billal Powell might be worth tournament consideration if Chris Ivory can’t give it a go, but overall, I think this game is an easy avoid.
Aaron Rodgers (FanDuel: $9,200 DraftKings: $7,900)
Those who had Rodgers last week had to wait until Monday night for him to take the stage, but he did not disappoint. He roasted the Chiefs secondary, throwing for 333 yards and five touchdowns.
This week, he gets an even better on-paper matchup against the 49ers. This one is away from Lambeau, but Green Bay are still substantial favorites at -8. The total is 48.5 points, with the Packers expected to score around 28 points.
San Francisco has also been fairly decent against the run. Eddie Lacy looks to be back at full health, but most of the points will probably be coming from the air in this one, despite the Packers being a large favorite.
If San Francisco can somehow compete offensively, (not likely, considering the offense’s play as of late) Rodgers could end up with an even bigger line than last week. Either way, he’s an excellent cash game and tournament option.
Tyrod Taylor (FD: $7,600 DK: $5,800)
Tyrod Taylor is easily my favorite option for cash games quarterback this week. To put it simply, he’s criminally underpriced at both FanDuel and DraftKings. The Bills host the Giants this week, where they are -5.5 favorites and are projected to score a solid 25 points according to Vegas.
Taylor, has, at least, tripled his salary on both DraftKings and FanDuel in the first three weeks of the season. New York has been strong against the run this season, but horrible against the pass. Some may doubt him as a passer, but they simply just haven’t been watching him play this season. He should have no issues picking apart the poor pass defense that the Giants have.
Of course, his rushing ability is also excellent. He’s rushed for 97 yards in the first three games on 17 attempts. He didn’t need to do much on the ground last game because the Bills controlled the game from start to finish.
At this price point, Tyrod is an obvious value. If the Bills dominate the game, he may not be asked to do much in the final quarter, but 20 fantasy points seems like a lock at this point.
Derek Carr (FD: $7,000 DK: $5,300)
The Raiders, fresh off a win against Cleveland last week, head to Chicago to take on the hapless Bears. Chicago’s start to the season has been miserable at 0-3. They traded Jared Allen to the Panthers a few days ago and are exploring options to trade other key pieces, like Matt Forte, Martellus Bennett, and Alshon Jeffery.
Derek Carr’s matchup this week is easily his best of the season. He certainly has the upside to roast the Bears this week. Although, I wish the total was a little higher. The Raiders are -3 favorites with a 45 over/under.
Carr is easily my favorite tournament quarterback of the weekend. He makes an excellent pairing with Amari Cooper or Michael Crabtree, but I would stick with Taylor or Rodgers in my cash games. Although, I do like a piece of the Raiders a bit more than Carr and his receivers.
Frank Gore (FD: $7,300 DK: $4,700)
Gore woke up from his first two weeks of slumber with an 86 yard, two touchdown performance last week against the Titans in Week 3. With Andrew Luck struggling, it was also Indianapolis’ first win of the season.
Gore looked great last week after struggling through two tough matchups against the Jets and Bills in the first two weeks. He gets an even better matchup this week against the Jaguars.
Jacksonville’s pass rush has gotten them credit this season, but their ability to stop the run is still desperately lacking. The Colts’ offensive line is subpar unit overall, but they shouldn’t have any trouble opening some big holes for Gore against Jacksonville.
Indianapolis is -9 in a game with a 48 total, which gives them a projection of about 30 points. With Luck struggling so far and their large advantage according to the oddsmakers, I’m guessing we will see plenty of Gore in this one.
The only issue I see here is that Gore may not be the back the Colts use to pound away if they are up by double-digits late, which may limit some of his upside. His price is just too low on DraftKings that he’s almost a must-play for cash, however.
Latavius Murray (FD: $7,500 DK: $6,300)
Murray is one of the few every-down backs left in the NFL these days. More importantly, he’s not priced like one of these every-down juggernauts, not yet anyway. As I mentioned with Derek Carr above, the matchup against the Bears is one to love.
The game projects to be close, however. If this one plays out like the oddsmakers forecast, we should see a lot of Murray in this one. His price hasn’t gotten to elite levels at either site, but another big game or two and he will be right up there.
Murray is the safest play in the game but also comes with plenty of upside due to the number of touches he will receive. He saw 26 rushes last week and one catch. In Week 1, when the Raiders fell behind, Murray chipped in with seven catches for 36 yards in addition to 11 of his rushes.
As long the game is close, Murray will be heavily involved and should see 20 combined touches, at a minimum. Multiple touchdowns are certainly possible given the matchup.
Karlos Williams (FD: $6,300 DK: $3,400)
Karlos Williams is must-play in cash games if LeSean McCoy ends up sitting out this week. That seems extremely likely, considering he hasn’t practiced this week, and Coach Rex Ryan has stated it’s highly unlikely he suits up.
Williams has faced some porous run defenses three games into his NFL career, but it’s hard to deny his 7.2 yards per carry average so far. His price at DraftKings is particularly appealing, where he is only $3400.
If you’re looking to lock down the Bills offense against the Giants, Taylor and Williams are only $9200 combined. This is a negative correlation for tournaments that should be avoided, but it’s a strategy to consider for cash games.
Jordan Matthews (FD: $7,000 DK: $6,600)
Jordan Matthews is probably my favorite play this week on a per dollar level. He seems to have been forgotten a bit by the masses after the Eagles haven’t matched their preseason hype three weeks into the season.
Matthews has an awesome matchup this week, and Philly has a 24 point projection according to the oddsmakers at Washington. The Redskins have defended the run well to start the year, but still have one of the worst pass defenses in all of football.
He (and perhaps rookie, Nelson Agholor) stand to be the biggest beneficiary of this matchup and hopefully, the primary means of ball movement. With the Eagles run game struggling, it’s easy to see him getting 8-10 targets or more in this one and notching a score.
Larry Fitzgerald (FD: $7,400 DK: $6,500)
There’s not a lot left to be said about Fitzgerald at this point that hasn’t already been said. After being tagged as “too old “and “over the hill”, Fitz has responded with three of the best weeks of his entire career.
Shockingly, he’s still underpriced at both FanDuel and DraftKings based on his recent production. The Rams have an excellent pass rush, so I expect Palmer to get the ball out quicker than usual this week.
Fitzgerald is the guy in the short and intermediate passing game for the Cardinals, with John Brown and Floyd offering the deep threat. With that pass rush, I doubt they have time to go deep nearly as often. Fire up one of the greatest receiver of all time without hesitation this week.
Julio Jones (FD: $9,400 DK: $9,300)
Jones is rapidly becoming the best receiver in the NFL. His start to the season has been unbelievable, and it shouldn’t be a shock that I am recommending him in this column. Despite being the highest priced player on both DraftKings and FanDuel, he offers plenty of value this week.
Although the Falcons are favored by -6.5 at Houston, they still have nearly a 27 point projection. We all saw Devonta Freeman explode last week for three touchdowns, but I highly doubt he sees the same success against a much tougher Houston front seven.
The Texans may even be able to build a lead early via their run game, which would be strengthened even more if Arian Foster returns to action this week. Either way, Atlanta is probably going to have to go to the air to score, and that means plenty of Julio.
Jordan Reed (FD: $5,600 DK: $4,500)
Reed is the type of player you want to be targeting when he has a slightly above-average matchup. The Eagles pass defense has been terrible to start the year, and since they run so many plays on offense, the other team simply gets more possessions.
With Eagles’ linebacker Mychal Kendricks set to make his return this week, Reed’s matchup gets slightly worse. However, I still love him as a target monster and the top red zone threat against a Philadelphia team that will force the Redskins to throw.
Jason Witten (FD: $6,000 DK: $4,400)
Witten isn’t flashy and doesn’t have the speed that he showed earlier in his career, but he’s as consistent as they come. Since Romo’s injury, Weeden hasn’t thrown downfield much, as the Cowboys have focused on the running game. If they get behind, they still opt for the dink and dunk passing game.
Luckily, this suits Witten quite well. He’s had at least six catches in every game this year, and Dallas may need to throw this week at New Orleans, particularly if Drew Brees suits up, which it looks like he will. His upside is limited due to the offense as a whole, but he’s an excellent play for cash games.
Martellus Bennett (FD: $5,500 DK: $4,500)
It’s tough to like anyone on the Bears, but the Raiders’ defense of the tight end draws us a bit to Bennett. He’s strictly a tournament option at this price range, but it’s worth noting that Oakland has already given up five touchdowns to tight ends this year. With Chicago likely playing from behind, he’s a nice flier, who is likely to be under-owned to some of the more popular plays.
Author: Joseph Falchetti (twitter)
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