Daily Fantasy Football: Sannes' Situations to Monitor in Week 11
There's a saying about assumptions that you likely know. We'll censor it (#forthekids), but in essence, it's, "Assumptions make a butt out of you and me." The saying makes far less sense when censored, but my delicate eyes can't handle such obscenities.
We don't have a very rosy view of assumptions, nor should we. If I assume that someone else will take the garbage out when it's full, that sweet aroma of rotting food and three-month-old cottage cheese is going to filter throughout the apartment in a hurry. Nobody wins there.
In daily fantasy, it's a bit different. Although assumptions come with risk, they can also allow us to get in front of the crowd and buy into situations (or back off of them) before the market reacts.
Let's say -- for example -- Team A is starting a different quarterback in Week 11 than they did earlier in the year. Prior to the event, we can allocate odds that the new quarterback is an upgrade, downgrade, or a lateral move, and we can probably guess this with a certain degree of accuracy.
But in reality, the result is going to be 100% certain that the quarterback was an upgrade, downgrade, or lateral move. They're not going to be 60% of an upgrade or 30% of a downgrade; they'll either fall fully into one camp or another, and those deviations will have a pretty major impact on the fantasy value of all the players within the offense.
For cash games, building lineups based around assumptions is a harder sell because we do have to play the percentages there and try to maximize the median outcome of our roster. But in tournaments, the upsides of assuming the way things will play out are pretty big, especially if we make an assumption that's different than consensus.
This assumption game has broader implications as you can assume everything from role changes to efficiency shifts to game script. Those are all on the table and should be considered. But this week, it's especially key as the Jacksonville Jaguars turn the keys of their offense over to Nick Foles from Gardner Minshew.
What could Foles' return do to the Jaguars' offense, and how will it affect the other fantasy pieces in that game? Let's check that out now and then dive into more situations impacting the Week 11 main slate.
New Trick Nick
There is no doubt that Foles and Minshew are different quarterbacks. And Minshew was certainly serviceable while Foles was sidelined, but there's also a reason the Jags decided to make this change. The odds that Foles elevates this offense seem decently high.
Although Minshew was able to pull off some pretty slick plays and keep the team afloat, the overall numbers behind him are below average. Minshew is currently 22nd in Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per drop back out of 35 quarterbacks with at least 100 drop backs. NEP is the metric numberFire uses to track the expected points added or subtracted throughout the course of the season, and Passing NEP deducts for expected points lost on sacks, interceptions, and incompletions. Minshew's marks were a bit below the league average as he was one spot below Mason Rudolph.
This means there's a pretty decent chance that Foles comes in and increases the team's passing efficiency. That would increase the team's touchdown expectation, giving a boost to everyone tied to the team, including Leonard Fournette.
The other big thing that could change is the team's plan of attack on offense. In the games Minshew started, the Jaguars threw on early downs in the first half only 53% of the time, according to Sharp Football Stats, down from the league average of 55%.
If this were the 2018 Jaguars, that would make sense. But offensive coordinator John DeFilippo got fired by the Minnesota Vikings last year in part because they were throwing too much. At the time of DeFilippo's firing, the Vikings ranked third in the league with a 61% pass rate on early downs in the first half.
Clearly, this offense doesn't have Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen, so it is a different situation, but they do have talent out wide, and the ground game hasn't really been lighting the world on fire. It's very possible we see them skew more heavily toward the pass now that Foles is back in the saddle.
That would serve a couple of purposes. First, it would obviously increase passing volume, which is good for Foles and the pass-catchers. It would also increase the team's overall efficiency, which is good for Fournette, even if the team does run the ball a bit less. Finally, more passes would help elevate the pace of the offense given that the clock stops for an incompletion, and this would be big with the Jaguars sitting 29th in situation-neutral pace, according to Football Outsiders.
It is a pretty big leap of faith to assume that Foles both improves the offense and leads to a shift in the team's play-calling tendencies. That's why we don't need to go this route in cash games. But in tournaments, we're looking at a team in which no player carries a salary higher than $7,200 on FanDuel, and they could get multiple boosts in the right direction. This is a spot where buying now carries some serious upsides.
As we're going to discuss throughout this piece today, a goal of the main slate is trying to find ways to jam in expensive players like Christian McCaffrey, Dalvin Cook, Michael Thomas, Mike Evans, and Chris Godwin, all of whom are in dreamy spots. We need value plays to help us get there. The Jaguars could be a good outlet for that.
Foles, himself, is only $7,000. Normally, we want quarterbacks in games with more shootout potential, and unless T.Y. Hilton is miraculously able to suit up, we're probably not getting that here. But among the guys lower than $7,500, Foles could easily be the most appealing option. If you need help fitting McCaffrey, Cook, and others in, it's not a terrible idea to roll out Foles.
Fournette's likely the only guy we'd want to consider in cash games. He entered the bye with 17.2% of the team's targets for the full season and has at least six targets in all but two games. His high snap rate helps ensure he'll keep that lofty target total even with Foles calling the shots, so at $7,200, Fournette is an option in all formats.
Which receiver you stack with Foles (or favor as a standalone play) likely depends on whether you believe the narrative that Foles likes to target slot players. If you buy into that, Dede Westbrook is fully healthy off the bye and would work at $5,400, and Foles did pepper Westbrook with targets in the preseason.
However, we've seen DJ Chark emerge this year, and that emergence didn't happen until a couple of weeks into the year. We should account for this when deciding where to go when stacking Foles.
In Week 1, Chark's snap rate was 70.7%, and he finished fifth on the team with just four targets. After a big output in that game, his snap rate jumped to 82.1% the following week, and he has been a fixture in this passing game ever since.
This table shows the team's target distribution from Week 2 on, excluding Weeks 8 and 9 when Westbrook was limited by a neck injury. A "deep" target is a target at least 16 yards beyond the line of scrimmage.
|Weeks 2 to 7||Overall Targets||Deep Targets||RZ Targets|
Westbrook was getting enough raw volume where he does make sense at $5,400, but Chark was getting a huge chunk of the high-leverage work. If he's getting that from an upgraded quarterback, there will be a lot of juice in those looks.
This is why we should drift Chark's way most often when stacking with Foles in tournaments, though Westbrook and Fournette make sense, too. Chark has loads of appeal as a standalone play, as well.
It's worth reiterating that this could all backfire if Foles is actually a downgrade from Minshew or if the team continues to call a conservative offense. But with explosive players being relatively cheap while playing indoors, this is an offense we should at least give extra consideration in tournaments.
The Colts With Brissett but Without Hilton
One of the reasons why it's hard to go completely gaga for Foles is that this game isn't one that projects to shoot out. The Colts are likely lacking their best play-maker with Hilton missing practice again this week. But the re-addition of Jacoby Brissett helps a bit with that discussion.
Thankfully, Brissett has been far more palatable this year, sitting 10th in Passing NEP per drop back. A lot of that is because he's behind arguably the best offensive line in football, but a total dud is far less likely with Brissett being back.
With Hilton likely out, though, we do have to look at this Colts offense and figure out what to expect on Sunday, both from an efficiency and a usage perspective.
Unfortunately, the sample here is small. The Colts have played at home with Brissett and without Hilton only once, and that was back in Week 4. Brissett averaged 0.07 Passing NEP per drop back there, which is a below-average number against a bad Oakland Raiders defense. The efficiency will likely be only middling at best, which keeps the shootout potential here muted.
To add to the ills, the targets have been super spread out in the three games Hilton has missed. Zach Pascal leads the team in market share in that time, but he's all the way down at 17.4% of the overall targets. Pascal does have three deep targets in all three of those games, and he has had big days from a yardage perspective, but there are better options close to him at $6,200 on FanDuel.
One potential angle to play here depends on how much weight you put into what we saw last week. In that one, Eric Ebron's snap rate spiked to 61.4%, the highest it has been all year by 10 percentage points, and he had 12 targets with five being deep and five in the red zone. That's a monster role.
Ebron reportedly met with head coach Frank Reich before the game to discuss his role, so it's very possible this usage was a result of that.
If Ebron were to play that role again this week, he'd be arguably the best tight end play on the slate at $5,200. We just don't know for sure that'll happen.
In tournaments, you can again deploy the assumption game and assume Ebron keeps his Week 10 role, in which case he's a top-flight option. In cash games, though, we've got other value tight ends who are in play, meaning you don't have to shove Ebron in unless Jack Doyle sits after missing practice Wednesday (though his return to practice Thursday makes this seem unlikely).
Potential Value in Atlanta
As mentioned before, we want to jam in McCaffrey and Cook whenever we can, and we're probably going to need help getting there with McCaffrey at $10,500 on FanDuel and Cook at $8,600. We may get some help from McCaffrey's opponent on Sunday, the Atlanta Falcons.
The Falcons are likely to play this game without both Devonta Freeman and Austin Hooper after they left last week's win due to injury. Hooper's injury means we could see additional targets go to Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, and Russell Gage, but the main attraction here is Brian Hill.
Hill is likely to take over the top running back duties with Freeman sidelined, and head coach Dan Quinn said the team believed in Hill during the week. We know he's going to get early-down work, and that's valuable versus a team ranked dead last against the rush, according to numberFire's schedule-adjusted metrics.
Freeman left last week's game at the end of the first half, meaning we actually do have a half of data to look at with Hill running the show while Kenjon Barner and Qadree Ollison were both active. Hill dominated the backfield, handling all 16 running-back carries, and he wound up playing 50.6% of the snaps for the full game. We can allot Hill almost all of the early-down work this week because of that.
The bigger question revolves around how much work Hill will get in the passing game. The Falcons are 4.5-point road underdogs, and despite their defensive showing last week, negative game script is always in play. We have to also ensure Hill will get work if they fall behind before crowning him as a bellcow.
For the full game last week, Hill finished with 10 routes run, according to Pro Football Focus. Part of that is likely because Matt Ryan threw only 17 times in the second half, but Barner ran almost as many routes as Hill (8). That's at least a minor red flag.
We can't say with absolute certainty that Hill is going to operate heavily in the passing game, and even on a half-PPR site like FanDuel, a target for a running back is worth twice as much as a carry. If he's not going to get those targets, there's an easy path to fantasy letdown.
As a result, Hill is far from being a lock for cash-game rosters. If you absolutely need to spend down to $5,900 in order to get to other studs elsewhere, he's at least in consideration. But the floor here may not be as high as it seems.
The ceiling, though, is a different discussion. Hill did get some work as a receiver in college, and he turned one of his two targets last week into a touchdown. If he were to get four targets (Freeman was averaging 4.9 per game before his injury) in addition to what is likely to be plenty of efficient early-down work, Hill would have blow-up potential.
As a result of this, Hill is someone we should feel pretty good about for tournaments, and he can certainly be part of our core. He is not someone you would need to include if you were using a single tournament lineup due to his bust potential, but for the multi-entry tournament players, we'll want to make sure he's firmly in our player pool.
Carolina's Weird Schedule
We're up to seven games of sample on Kyle Allen now, which means -- in theory -- things should be balancing out. You'd think he would have played a fairly balanced schedule, allowing us to look at his overall stats to judge his efficiency.
That's very much not the case. Of Allen's seven starts thus far, five have come on the road, including one over in London. Their two home games have come against the Jaguars and Tennessee Titans, so this Sunday will be the first time all year we've seen Allen at home in a truly plus matchup.
We can be skeptical of Allen's skills, and based on his lack of efficiency thus far, that's likely the correct way to view things. But he hasn't really had a fair shake thus far.
The other plus with Allen is that we've seen him open things up a bit more recently. His first three weeks as a starter, Allen kept things pretty tight to the line of scrimmage. But in Week 6, his average depth of target (aDOT) was 9.5 yards, according to FantasyADHD.com, and it has stayed a bit elevated since then, as well. "Deep rate" is the percentage of Allen's attempts that traveled at least 16 yards beyond the line of scrimmage.
|Allen in 2019||aDOT||Deep Rate|
|First 3 Starts||8.2||18.9%|
|Past 4 Starts||9.2||24.3%|
Throwing the ball deep is huge for the entire offense. It allows the team to move the ball more quickly and pick up yardage in chunks, so Allen's increased aggressiveness should amp up our interest in everybody here. It has also altered the distribution of the team's targets.
In those first three starts, Allen really leaned on McCaffrey, and it's hard to blame him. If you're a new starter being thrust suddenly into the spotlight, why not feed your best player? McCaffrey had a whopping 26.1% of the targets in that time, which is an unsustainable rate. Here's where the targets have gone since then.
|Weeks 2 to 7||Overall Targets||Deep Targets||RZ Targets|
McCaffrey got seven targets last week while playing every single snap, so his role has still been rock solid, and we shouldn't worry about him based on this chart. The main takeaway should revolve around DJ Moore's voluptuous role.
In this four-game stretch, Moore has a minimum of nine targets, and he has three deep targets in all of those games. He's getting a ton of overall volume, and lots of it is high-leverage. You're getting that for $6,000 at home against a leaky defense. It's easy to justify Moore, even in the lineups where you're also using McCaffrey.
Samuel should be a bit more volatile due to the lower overall volume, but he is the one who has had higher productivity in this split. That's why he's the more expensive option at $6,300. We should favor Moore over Samuel, but both have paths to big days.
As for Greg Olsen, he's the top value tight end this week, and that could be true even if Doyle does wind up sitting, vaulting Ebron up the boards. Olsen gives us yardage upside at just $5,100, which is hard to find at this position. As with Moore, it's fully acceptable to have Olsen in the same lineup as McCaffrey, and he'll make affording McCaffrey all that much easier.
Allen at $7,200 is a value option at quarterback to be sure, and his game environment is better than Foles'. The one issue is that he's sure to be popular as Allen has gotten loads of buzz this week, according to FanShare Sports. That won't be a concern with Foles. So if you want to shoot for the guy with the best game environment, Allen is your guy. If you want to try to be different than the field, then it's Foles who deserves your attention.
Injuries Killing the Vibe in Detroit
If we were to get Dak Prescott versus Matthew Stafford Sunday in Detroit, it'd be a delight. They're second and fifth, respectively, in Passing NEP per drop back, and both teams operate at a fast enough pace to encourage a shootout.
It just doesn't look like that's going to happen.
Ty Johnson (concussion) back at practice for the Lions today. Okwara, too.
Stafford, Hand, Walker and Wagner still out.
— Justin Rogers (@Justin_Rogers) November 14, 2019
Our baseline assumption should be that Stafford won't play this week, and that stinks. It basically shoves every Detroit Lions player out of play and helps only Ezekiel Elliott and the Dallas Cowboys' defense and special teams.
Because the Cowboys' passing game has been so efficient, we can definitely still use players here. It's just a shot to each player's ceiling.
Even with that in mind, Prescott is firmly in play at quarterback for $8,100. The Cowboys have won five games by 10 or more points this year, meaning we've got a good sample in games that slant steadily in their favor. In those games, Prescott has still averaged 25.93 FanDuel points per game. Stafford sitting would lower the expected pace, hurting Prescott's ceiling, but we can still consider Prescott if multi-entering for tournaments.
The target distribution for the Cowboys is also pretty interesting. All of their top targets have had fluctuating health this year, meaning full-season market share data is misleading. But we've had four games (Weeks 5, 7, 9, and 10) in which Elliott, Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, and Randall Cobb have had full workloads. Here's where the targets have gone in those games.
|With Full Health||Overall Targets||Deep Targets||RZ Targets|
We'll get to Cooper in a second because his workload has been massive. But the guy who stands out most on that chart is Elliott.
Elliott's target totals in those games are four, seven, zero, and three, respectively. So there is a chance he gets five or more targets, and in this matchup, that'd make him pretty attractive. But the floor of his passing-down work is far lower than what it was down the stretch last year.
Elliott's not someone we need to avoid in tournaments, by any means. He is a quality runner and has a path to a 100-yard, 2-touchdown day. But in cash games, when Elliott is only $200 cheaper than Cook, it's pretty easy to turn elsewhere.
Things are a lot brighter for Cooper, who has had big production in addition to his monster volume. The only two issues with Cooper are that he is close in salary to a bunch of elite wide receivers and that he takes a major dip on the road. Since joining the Cowboys, Cooper has averaged 22.3 FanDuel points per game at home and 7.8 per game on the road (8.7 if you exclude the game against the New York Jets when he left early due to injury). Those splits are enough for us to favor the other high-salaried receivers, but Cooper has been too good to completely ignore.
Gallup's lack of high-leverage volume is definitely disappointing, and when you account for the outside factors in this game, he's far from being a priority at $6,700. If you wind up in that range, though, Gallup is getting enough volume to justify using him, and he has shown the talent to cash in on that volume, as well.
A Potential Return for Will Fuller
Will Fuller has been limited in practice the past two days, so it's not a lock yet that he returns for the most exciting game on the slate. Let's figure out how we should handle it if he does get back out there, though, because this game is ripe for the stacking.
If Fuller were able to play, it would be the fourth time this year in which both Fuller and Kenny Stills have been fully healthy (Stills left early in Week 4, and Fuller left early in Week 7). Here's where the targets have gone in those first three games.
|With Fuller and Stills||Overall Targets||Deep Targets||RZ Targets|
It wasn't until Stills got hurt that Fuller had his blow-up game against the Falcons, and this shows you a bit of why. Fuller's overall volume was muted, so it made him a volatile option. He could still hit his ceiling thanks to the deep targets, and that's why we should be interested in him at $6,300, but Fuller's floor in his return is certainly going to be questionable.
DeAndre Hopkins had a couple of disappointing games in that three-game sample, but his target load was really impressive. In one of the games, he went for 111 yards and 2 touchdowns, and he had tough matchups each time. Getting access to one-third of the targets in a game this tasty is definitely something we should covet, so even with another viable piece in the offense, Hopkins is a guy we can target liberally, and he should be our preferred stacking partner with Deshaun Watson.
Speaking of Watson, it'll be hard not to build around him at quarterback this week. Watson will have all of his receivers healthy, and he's also primed to get both Laremy Tunsil and Tytus Howard back with both getting in limited sessions alongside Fuller. Watson has averaged 5.8 rushes for 31.0 yards per game, so even with the Baltimore Ravens' defense playing much better with additional pieces in the secondary, Watson is one of the best quarterbacks on the main slate.
Dissecting the Ravens' Pass-Catchers
The one guy who can push Watson for being the top quarterback play on the slate is on the other sideline in Lamar Jackson. He's actually still underpriced at $8,800, and you want a piece of that action. Obviously, we don't need to stack Jackson because of his rushing upside, but when we do decide to stack him or run it back when stacking the Texans, we should have a plan for the best route for doing so.
Marquise Brown and Mark Andrews have been the only hyper-relevant pieces in this passing game, so that's where we'd want to go for stacking. But Brown was limited in practice on Wednesday and sat entirely on Thursday. Brown played in Week 9 despite missing practice on Friday, so the odds are high that he'll play. If he doesn't, Andrews is the only palatable option here. But let's chat about what to do if Brown does go.
Brown and Andrews have played seven games alongside each other, giving us a solid sample of what to expect. Here's the target breakdown in those games.
|With Brown Healthy||Overall Targets||Deep Targets||RZ Targets|
The two have basically been dead even. Andrews has the perk of filling your tight end position, but Brown is just $5,600 compared to Andrews at $6,900. Both have their pluses.
If you're multi-entering in tournaments, it's likely wise to just split the two down the middle. Both have paths to big games, and both can also bust. If you have just one lineup, it should depend on which position you need the most help. That's more likely to be Andrews, but both are very defensible and desirable in a game we'll want to stack heavily.
The 49ers' Laundry List of Injuries
Normally, an injury to a skill-position guy will send up a warning sign that we should re-evaluate the outlook of the other players on his team.
For the San Francisco 49ers, they have three skill-position guys and their left tackle all banged up, so they're doing a fireworks display with a flare gun. Everything here is up for grabs.
As of Friday morning, it seems like George Kittle, Matt Breida, and Joe Staley are all slated to miss while Emmanuel Sanders has an outside chance to play. Before discussing what this means for the rest of the team, that's a massive downgrade to Jimmy Garoppolo. Garoppolo finished with -17.39 Passing NEP last week against the Seattle Seahawks with those guys injured, and the Seahawks are a middling 15th against the pass. The Arizona Cardinals are much worse down in 30th, but it's still a leap of faith to roll out Garoppolo at $8,000.
Any decrease in efficiency would also be a negative for Tevin Coleman, who benefits if the 49ers are able to grab a lead, and the odds of that happening go down with all these injuries. We need to keep that in mind with Coleman. Still, he's a viable play at running back.
Coleman's not going to become a bellcow in this offense with Breida down as Raheem Mostert will certainly get volume. Still, Coleman set a season-high with 26 routes run last week, according to Pro Football Focus, and he tied his season-high with four targets. He won't get all the work, but he'll get some extra, and if some of it comes in the passing game, that's even better.
Additionally, bookmakers still seem to believe in the 49ers with the line still up at 10.5 points, though 87% of the money at FanDuel Sportsbook has been on the Cardinals to cover, per oddsFire. That's enough where we can certainly lower Coleman, but the potential for increased volume makes him a high-floor, decent-ceiling option at $6,700.
Sanders left early on in Monday night's game, meaning we can have an idea of what to expect. That seems to be a lot of volume going Deebo Samuel's way.
|In Week 10||Overall Targets||Deep Targets||RZ Targets|
That's a 25.0% target share for Samuel, which we'll take even if Garoppolo isn't forced to throw 44 times in this one. It was 18.2% for Kendrick Bourne and 15.9% for Ross Dwelley, so their overall target numbers seemed to be inflated by the high-volume nature of the passing offense.
Samuel gets us access to a high-pace game for just $5,600, and he has shown several times this year that he can convert his volume into production. He's a cash-game consideration if Sanders sits, and he's a high-quality tournament option, as well.
Dwelley would be interesting if he were $4,000, but instead, he's $4,900. That means he's $200 less than Olsen and Noah Fant, $100 less than Dallas Goedert, and more expensive than the Vikings' tight ends, Irv Smith Jr. and Kyle Rudolph. You can go there for the volume if you want, but the path to upside for a player who ran a 4.95-second 40-yard dash at the combine is definitely foggy.
Ronald Jones' New Role
Before last week's game, we talked about how Ronald Jones had set a new season-high for routes run in Week 9 and how that finally made him DFS-relevant. Having him get that volume seemed like a revelation.
Then Sunday happened.
Ronald Jones catches in:
* High school = 7
* Final year at USC = 14
* Rookie season = 7
* Prior to Week 10 = 8
* on Sunday = 8
— John Daigle (@notJDaigle) November 10, 2019
Yowza. Jones doubled his season-high for targets in a game with eight, and head coach Bruce Arians confirmed this week that it wasn't a one-game blip.
Bruce Arians says RB Ronald Jones can do even more in the passing game, and not just on screens. Jones’s route tree is growing, says Arians.
— Scott Smith (@ScottSBucs) November 13, 2019
Jones still lost early-down work to Peyton Barber, especially after losing a fumble in the second half, but this indicates we should expect Jones to have a bigger role in the passing game going forward. That's huge for him in DFS, though we still need to make sure we keep expectations in check.
Even in that blow-up game, Jones still ran just 23 routes, meaning he was targeted on 34.8% of his routes run. That's a massive number and is unlikely to stay that high (he has been targeted on 23.8% of his routes for the full season, including Week 10). As such, we may have already seen Jones' highest target total for the season.
And as mentioned, Jones still split work with Barber as both had 11 carries for the game. If we could guarantee 11 carries and 8 targets for Jones in future games, he'd be on the DFS radar. We just don't know if that'll be how things settle out.
Jones is $6,400 this week on FanDuel, meaning he didn't get a huge salary hike despite his big day. That's reassuring and means we can look his way for sure. He's just a bit less appealing than Tevin Coleman and Devin Singletary at slightly higher salaries, and we should favor Brian Hill as a cheaper play, as well.
The other ripple effect of more volume to Jones is that it thins things out a bit for Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, and they had to contend with a resurgent O.J. Howard last week, too. Both should still get steady volume, but things did take a bit of a downturn last week.
|In Week 10||Overall Targets||Deep Targets||RZ Targets|
Adding targets onto the plates of Jones and Howard would lower the floors on both Evans and Godwin. But as you can see in that table, they've still got paths to big days.
This is likely enough for us to lower those two in cash games, and they'd be hard to afford there, anyway, if we're trying to jam in McCaffrey and other expensive backs. Tournaments, though, are a different discussion.
This is especially true with Marshon Lattimore likely to sit after injuring his hamstring in Week 10. Lattimore held Evans to no catches on three targets in the teams' first meeting, so taking him out of the equation would free things up in a big way.
Overall this year, Evans has had the edge on Godwin in every relevant target category, meaning he should sit higher on our list for tournaments.
|In 2019||Overall Targets||Deep Targets||RZ Targets|
If we're using Jameis Winston in one lineup (and at $7,600, he's a really solid option), Evans should be the guy we pair with him.
Godwin's still very much capable of generating a ceiling day, and last week's outing showed that with all the looks he got. He's just less likely to hit that ceiling than Evans. If you're multi-entering, you'll clearly want exposure to both, favoring Evans over Godwin.
As for Howard, yes, he did benefit from a majorly plus matchup last week. But he also got a bit of a role change from before his injury.
For the game, Howard ran a route on 76.3% of Winston's drop backs, per Pro Football Focus, his highest rate of the year. He had topped 68% just once the entire season before then.
If Howard is going to see an uptick in his routes, that should give him a steadier target floor than what he showed earlier in the year. He's a talented enough player to convert that into yardage upside, which isn't all that common for a player who is $5,300. He's likely below Olsen among the cheap tight ends, but we can include Howard in our Winston stacks at times.
Getting a Read on the Saints
The New Orleans Saints' Week 10 loss to the Falcons is likely a game we should toss out the window and not let it taint the way we view the team in DFS. Those two teams are massive rivals, and teams have bad games. It happens.
We should not, though, toss the usage data out the window because it does give us options on this slate.
It should go without saying by now that Michael Thomas is a great option, especially in such a delightful matchup. He's up to 32.5% of the team's targets, and that number stays the same even in the two full games he has played with Drew Brees, Tre'Quan Smith, and Jared Cook. Thomas has a massive floor, and his volume helps him generate a ceiling without big plays. Get him when you can.
The other usages in that game were interesting, too, and Thomas is not the only guy in play here.
Because the Saints fell into a hole, we didn't get a firm read on the new dynamic between Alvin Kamara and Latavius Murray. Kamara played 78.3% of the snaps with 4 carries and 10 targets, but we don't yet know what the touch distribution will look like in a more neutral or positive script.
Still, there is reason to expect another game that skews toward Kamara, even with the Saints favored by 4.5. Namely, you can't run on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, which would seem to set up well for Kamara.
The Bucs enter this week ranked first in the league -- by a pretty wide margin -- in schedule-adjusted rush defense. They've allowed 100 yards rushing as a team only twice this year, though one of those times was to the Saints back in Week 5.
An optimal gameplan against the Bucs is to blot the sun with pass attempts, and head coach Sean Payton is very likely aware of this. We can't dig too much into how they played it in Week 5 because Teddy Bridgewater was quarterback, but this time around, we should expect an air-heavy attack.
That would inflate Kamara's target total, and that's the main source of his value in DFS. His floor is low enough where he's off the cash-game radar, and he's not a priority tournament target, but this is still a good spot to utilize Kamara in game stacks and occasionally as a standalone play.
Week 10 was also the first time we got to see Smith and Cook healthy since Week 1. Both guys had big roles.
Cook finished with 10 targets, tied with Kamara for second on the team behind Thomas. Nobody else had more than three targets. That was the first time this year Cook had more than seven targets, so we shouldn't expect such massive usage going forward, but he's clearly an option at tight end at $6,000.
Smith didn't get too many looks with just two targets in the game, but he was on the field plenty. He played more snaps and ran more routes than Ted Ginn Jr., meaning we should now put Smith higher on our list among the tertiary pieces. Smith is only $4,900, which makes it a whole heck of a lot easier to use Evans and Godwin in game stacks. The floor is a goose egg, so don't go crazy here, but he does give us some much-needed flexibility in a game that is pricey to stack.
Tom Brady's New Toy
Then Tom Brady peppered Sanu with 14 targets in Week 9, and that relevance went off the charts.
It might seem like a headache to have to re-evaluate this team once again as they've been in flux all season long, but in reality, that game was a blessing from a usage perspective. Sanu, Julian Edelman, Benjamin Watson, and Phillip Dorsett all played at least 98.5% of the snaps, and nobody else carried a snap rate higher than 41.8%. We can whittle our list down to just those four players.
That group also controlled almost all of the target volume.
|In Week 9||Overall Targets||Deep Targets||RZ Targets|
Not only did Sanu get tons of overall volume, but he got work downfield, too, leading the team with 136 air yards, according to FantasyADHD.com. This means Sanu has both floor and upside, especially against a Philadelphia Eagles defense that ranks 21st against the pass, according to numberFire's schedule-adjusted metrics. The wind speeds are a bit elevated at 15 miles per hour, which is concerning for the game itself, but Sanu deserves to be a core play at wide receiver for $5,800.
Because Edelman is $7,400, increased wind speeds would be a bit more concerning for him as he needs a bigger day to pay off. The volume was still there, though, and the wind speeds could easily come down by Sunday morning. Keep an eye on him and feel free to plug him in if things look a bit more promising.
As for Dorsett and Watson, they are super cheap, and we can consider them, but we have to keep a couple of things in mind. For Dorsett, a potential N'Keal Harry debut would put him on some shaky ground, and for Watson, it's the potential return of Matt LaCosse and Ryan Izzo. Watson was released earlier this year when those two were healthy and later re-signed after they got hurt. The safest route for investing in the Patriots is easily by using Sanu.
More Injuries to Eagles Pass-Catchers
Eagles practicing without Alshon Jeffery Thursday https://t.co/0DC0wdi12D
— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) November 14, 2019
Alshon Jeffery has missed practice both days this week and could easily be out on Sunday. That would leave the Eagles with Nelson Agholor, Mack Hollins, J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, and Jordan Matthews at wide receiver, and it'd be pretty bleak against this secondary.
Jeffery sitting would be a downgrade for Carson Wentz, who was already in a tough spot versus this Patriots defense. It would also be a downgrade for Zach Ertz as it would allow the Patriots' defense to basically focus on shutting him down. It's all bad here.
The lone guy who gets a slight boost from a DFS perspective is Dallas Goedert. Goedert's role was on the rise even before Jeffery's injury with a season-high 78.7% snap rate in Week 9, and he has 17.1% of the team's targets the past 4 games. Goedert is only $5,000, and while the upside is muted in such a tough spot, he has a high enough floor where we can make him a rotational play when multi-entering in tournaments.
One other injury worth monitoring here is Jordan Howard's shoulder. Howard has been limited in practice this week and seems in danger of missing the game.
Doug Pederson on Jordan Howard: Said he sustained a stinger against the Bears. He hasn’t been cleared for contact yet, which isn’t a good sign. #Eagles
— Zack Rosenblatt (@ZackBlatt) November 15, 2019
Darren Sproles is also up in the air after missing Thursday's practice due to a quad injury. If both were to miss, we'd get Miles Sanders in a spot where he'd be primed to get work both as a rusher and a receiver. He's only $5,600, meaning he's cheaper than Hill. We do need to keep expectations in check because of the matchup, but if both Sproles and Howard sit, Sanders would at least be worth consideration in cash games due to what would likely be a meaty role.
Another Likely Absence for Adam Thielen
Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer hasn't ruled out receiver Adam Thielen for Sunday's game against the Denver Broncos, but Thielen has yet to practice this week and seems likely to miss yet again. That opens up usage in the Vikings' offense.
Thielen has missed two of the past four games and played less than 15% of the snaps in the two others. Here's how the targets have been divvied in that four-game sample.
|Past Four Games||Overall Targets||Deep Targets||RZ Targets|
With defenses able to focus on stopping Stefon Diggs, his usage has actually gone down across the board with Thielen out. He'll also have to deal with Chris Harris in this game, so Diggs is a pretty tough sell.
Cook and the tight ends, though, are a different story. Cook is a 10.5-point home favorite getting 17.6% of the team's targets against a middling rush defense. He's not as desirable as McCaffrey even when you account for the salary, but you can make a case that Cook is the second-best running back option on the slate at $8,600.
Irv Smith is $4,700, and Kyle Rudolph is $4,500. They're super cheap, and both have better roles than you'd expect at those salaries. That puts them in play.
The big concern here is that it's hard to project the Vikings to sling the ball a ton in such a rush-heavy script. numberFire projects Cousins at 30.4 attempts, and if we go based on the target shares above, that would put Smith at 5.1 projected targets and Rudolph at 4.9. There's still no steady floor here.
Both guys are threats to score, and Smith seems to have a bit of downfield juice, too. If you need the salary, then these guys are very much available to us. Just be sure not to go too crazy in what should be a game that centers more around Cook.
The Fantasy-Friendly Bills
The Buffalo Bills haven't had a skill-position guy score more than 21.8 FanDuel points in a game all season long. They're not the highest-upside offense by any means. But things have been shifting the past three games with a consolidated touch distribution, and it means one of those breakout games may be on the horizon.
The sample we're looking at here is the past three games, the stretch in which Devin Singletary has played roughly two-thirds of the snaps in each. Here's what the trimmed-down target tree looks like in that sample.
|Past Three Games||Overall Targets||Deep Targets||RZ Targets|
There were reasons to like Beasley earlier in the year because he was getting big target totals. But this is Singletary's and John Brown's rodeo now.
In addition to the targets, Singletary has -- as you know -- gotten more early-down rushing work the past two games. He has 11 of 21 running-back carries on first and second down in that stretch, and he has 28 of 40 overall running-back rushes. Frank Gore still has four of eight carries inside the five compared to two for Singletary and two for Josh Allen, meaning Singletary isn't a bellcow, but this is a really good role.
What we have with Singletary is someone who will split early-down rushing work and potentially get vultured but is going to get about 19% of the team's targets. From a usage perspective, there are lots of parallels there to Alvin Kamara. A lot of Kamara's value comes from his talent and his offense, so Singletary's appeal is lightyears behind Kamara's, but that usage can absolutely play in DFS.
Singletary is $6,500, and he's facing the league's 27th-ranked rush defense. We might not want to go there in cash because Gore and Allen will be involved near the goal line, but Singletary still deserves to be a core tournament play despite that.
As for Brown, while he hasn't had the ceiling, he has sported a lofty floor all season long. He has at least 50 receiving yards in every game and has had 70 or more six times. A blow-up game is firmly in his range of outcomes against this defense, making Brown another top-notch value receiver at $5,900.
The ceiling discussion is relevant for Allen, too, as he hasn't scored more than 25.44 FanDuel points in a game this year. He's due for negative regression from a rushing touchdown perspective, but that doesn't mean he can't whip out a big showing here. Allen has a rock-solid floor at $7,800 and stacks easily with either Singletary or Brown in tournaments.
Thinned-Out Usage in Oakland
What would you have thought on September 1st if someone told you that the Raiders would have the highest implied team total on the slate in Week 11? You probably would have assumed that Antonio Brown was having an MVP-caliber season.
Instead, they're just flat out playing good football and lined up against a putrid Cincinnati Bengals defense. It means we want to dabble in some Raiders for DFS. We just have to decide which to target.
Earlier in the year when both Darren Waller and Tyrell Williams were healthy, those two were handling almost all of the passing-game volume. That hasn't been the case since Williams came back from injury, and it's making this team a major headache.
|Since Williams' Return||Overall Targets||Deep Targets||RZ Targets|
Gross. Hunter Renfrow has gotten enough looks, but he's also $5,700, putting him in the same range as John Brown, Mohamed Sanu, and Deebo Samuel, all of whom seem to have easier paths to upside than Renfrow.
Williams can still generate upside, but his salary reflects that at $6,200. He should be our preferred passing-game option here, but he's far from being a priority with guys like DJ Moore and Curtis Samuel surrounding him.
The tight-end landscape this week is grim enough where Waller certainly makes sense at $6,700. He and Mark Andrews are the lone healthy expensive tight ends available, and both are in tempting spots. However, the ideal route seems to be just spending down in order to allocate more salary to running backs.
This should be clear by now, but the optimal outlet for getting exposure to the Raiders is by using Josh Jacobs, potentially stacking him with the defense. Jacobs has averaged 22 carries per game in the Raiders' five wins this year, and he has been more involved in the passing game of late. Because he's still less involved there than guys like McCaffrey, Cook, and Fournette, Jacobs still has a bit of a cap on his upside, but he is a fringe-core play for tournaments in what should be an easy Raiders win.
Derrius Guice Back in the Mix
If there's one thing we know about Washington interim head coach Bill Callahan, it's that he wants to run the damn ball. He'll get a new outlet for doing so on Sunday.
Bill Callahan won’t reveal his plan for using Peterson and Guice on Sunday. But when pressed on how Guice will be used he said: “he will see a lot of action this weekend.”
— Les Carpenter (@Lescarpenter) November 13, 2019
Derrius Guice is back off of injured reserve, and it sounds like he'll be involved. With his salary at $4,700, that makes him worth discussing.
Before getting hurt in Week 1, Guice had 10 carries and 3 targets, showing that the team was planning on using him at least a bit in the passing game. Chris Thompson is likely still out with a toe injury, meaning Guice should get some targets again this weekend. That's a plus.
There are still some pretty big limitations, though, and they prevent us from getting too jazzed about Guice's return.
The first is that this will likely not be an efficient offense. Dwayne Haskins will start, and Haskins has been less than impressive in his rookie season. That makes it hard to think that this team will hang a big number, even against a bad Jets defense.
The second is that the Jets' rush defense has still been elite, even with Leonard Williams out of the picture. In two games without Williams, opposing running backs have increased the team's expected points for the drive on just 6 of 33 (18.2%) of their carries, netting a whopping 1.5 yards per carry. With Callahan's insistence on running the ball, this further limits the expected efficiency of the offense and lowers the upside of the entire game.
If we get 10 carries and 5 targets out of Guice, that could be enough for him to pay off at $4,700. The problem is that the odds he nets you 20 or so FanDuel points are very low, meaning you'd need to nail every stud in your lineup in order to post a big score. We can definitely give Guice a look, but be careful not to go overboard in what seems to be a low-upside spot.
Washington's desire to establish the run also should impact our desire to use Terry McLaurin despite an elite matchup. In four games since Callahan took over, McLaurin has averaged 5.3 targets per game, maxing out at 7 targets. He can rip off a big play at any time, but we should value game environment at wide receiver, and there are better situations to attack in the $5,000 range at the position this week.