Week 7 Overview
We have an interesting slate this week. Injuries have wreaked havoc on the running back position and opened up some strong value plays. Derrick Henry’s salary is such an outlier on this slate that deciding whether or not you want to roster him is a good starting place if you are hand-building your lineups. Those who pass on Henry will have plenty of attractive pay up options in the passing game. We have a number of elite quarterbacks and pass catchers on this slate and it is simply a matter of figuring out which are most likely to explode this week because we have the cap space to fit a number of them into our lineups (if we are not playing Henry).
FanDuel pricing at quarterback continues to come in a narrow range. There are relatively small gaps between the mid-tier options and the elite plays. We are left with a situation in which each of the top point-per-dollar plays is in that upper tier of pricing. This is also leading to more concentrated ownership on the elite quarterbacks. The numbers, both in terms of value and ranges of outcomes, point to the idea that the optimal play is to continue focusing on the elite quarterbacks each slate. The cost premium is negligible and you can look to add uniqueness elsewhere.
Top QB Plays
Patrick Mahomes II ($8,800) Kansas City at Tennessee
This one is a layup. We have the NFL’s best quarterback playing at home in a game that should shoot out (57 game total). The Tennessee pass defense ranks 27th in DVOA. The Vegas props for Mahomes are massive (326.5 passing yards and an implied total of 2.7 passing touchdowns). On top of that, Mahomes has rushed for at least 26 yards in four straight games. Due to the way FanDuel prices players, it takes very little sacrifice elsewhere to get to Mahomes. The median and mean prices for starting quarterbacks on the slate are both roughly $7,500 so you are paying only a small premium to get up to the top option.
Kyler Murray ($8,700), Arizona vs. Houston
My gut feeling is that Murray comes in with less ownership than many are expecting. There is such an emphasis on game environment and shootout potential when it comes to DFS quarterbacks that we could see Murray come in at under 10% ownership despite a tremendous projection. One of the reasons why Murray is especially intriguing this week is that the Cardinals top running back, Chase Edmonds, is nursing a shoulder injury. We could see more James Conner than normal but this still does not profile as one of those games where Arizona would try to protect a lead by just running Conner over and over. Aside from the worry that the game will be a blowout, what other reason is there to not play Kyler Murray? He is the top projected scorer on the slate overall. He has only one game below 19.5 fantasy points all season and we have seen multiple 30-plus point ceiling games.
Lamar Jackson ($8,400) Baltimore vs. Cincinnati
Jackson has looked like the guy who won MVP and dominated the NFL in 2020. He has averaged averaged 303 passing yards and 49.8 rushing yards per game over his last four. The only thing that has kept him from going nuclear in fantasy is that he has not scored a rushing touchdown since Week 2. You have to assume it is only a matter of time until that changes.
The quality of the spot for Jackson may be the most interesting aspect of the decision whether or not to play Jackson. On the one hand, he has slayed the Bengals defense in recent years. In his five starts (all wins) against Cincinnati, Jackson has rushed for 436 yards (87.2 per game). Making those numbers even more impressive, he barely played in the second half of one of those games because the lead was so big and in another he was banged up and rushed for just three yards. In the three games he was healthy and played all four quarters, he rushed for an average of 122 yards. If you are of the mind that this is the “same old Bengals,” then you almost have to play Jackson here. The other side of the coin is the fact that this Cincinnati defense on paper is much improved. The Bengals are only giving up 16.4 Fanduel points per game to opposing quarterbacks (sixth-fewest) and have nearly as many interceptions (five) as passing touchdowns allowed (six).
Other QBs to consider:
Matthew Stafford ($8,100), LA Rams vs. Detroit
As explained ad infinitum in recent weeks, the lean is towards rostering mobile quarterbacks because we probably need a rushing touchdown from our quarterback to win a big GPP. If we are playing a more traditional pocket passer, we probably need something like 400 passing yards and 4 touchdowns. Stafford has that sort of realistic upside in this matchup if either 1) Jared Goff is able to keep it close or 2) Sean McVay and Stafford decide they want to pour it on the Lions.
Jalen Hurts ($8,300), Philadelphia at Las Vegas
Hurts is projected to be one of the most popular plays on the slate but is one of the few chalky options I will be happy to fade. He is the opposite of Lamar Jackson in that he is due for some negative rushing touchdown regression. His saving grace the last two weeks has been his four rushing touchdowns, which have somewhat covered up the fact that Hurts has struggled badly as a passer.
If you are single entering on this slate, your biggest question is whether or not to play Derrick Henry. It has to start there and then you choice has a major cascade effect on the rest of your lineup. At $11,000 Henry is priced $2,000 higher than any other player on the slate. Within the running back pool, he is priced $4,700 more than the fourth-most expensive running back. Outside of Henry, there is very little star power on the slate at the position. You could go with someone like Aaron Jones, D’Andre Swift, or Joe Mixon in mediocre matchups. Or you could focus on situation and opportunity and look for value with injury replacements. That has been the winning move in recent weeks and may be the optimal way to approach this slate as well.
Top RB Plays
Darrel Williams ($6,700) Kansas City at Tennessee
On first blush, this may look like a lot to pay for Darrel Williams. He is priced above Antonio Gibson ($6,600) and in the same range as players like D’Andre Swift ($7,100) and Joe Mixon ($7,200) who most would agree are better players. However, if there is any lesson we should take from recent weeks it is that we should focus on the opportunity (potential volume) and team situation more than we should the individual runner. Last night’s Browns game where D’Ernest Johnson was every bit as productive as Nick Chubb likely would have been serves as a fresh reminder.
So let’s ignore the name and just focus on the team situation and opportunity. This running back played 71% of the snaps last week, carried the ball 21 times, and ran 21 routes. He is playing on a team that is a home favorite and carries a massive 31-point implied team total. Considering the game situation and projected usage, the Chiefs RB1 should be priced above $8,000. From that perspective, Williams is actually vastly underpriced and one of the strongest plays on the slate regardless of position.
Chuba Hubbard ($7,300) Carolina at NY Giants
Let’s stick with our them of team situation and opportunity. If Christian McCaffrey was healthy and playing this weekend, he would be priced over $10,000. Hubbard is not quite getting the same usage as McCaffrey typically has but he is in the same ballpark. Over the last two weeks, he has averaged 20 carries and 4.5 targets per game. Very few running backs are getting that many touches per game this season.
The situation also looks great. The Giants are 27th in DVOA against the run and are giving up an average of 25.2 FanDuel points per game to opposing running backs. The Panthers are banged up at wide receiver so in addition to a strong rushing projection, we should continue to see Hubbard get solid usage as a pass catcher as well.
Devontae Booker ($5,800) NY Giants vs. Carolina
Let’s add one more backup running back to our preferred player pool. Booker has stepped into Saquon Barkley’s role and is getting similar opportunities to what Barkley would be getting if in the lineup. Booker played 90% of the snaps in Week 5 and 69% last week. In those two starts, he has averaged 14 carries and 4 targets per game. Those aren’t massive numbers but that is rare usage for a back we can actually roster at sub-$6K prices.
We didn't have Saquon Barkley for most of last week, and he wasn't active today. In those games, Devontae Booker has averaged a running back rush share per game of 82.1% and a target share per game of 9.6%.— JJ Zachariason (@LateRoundQB) October 17, 2021
Other RBs to consider:
Derrick Henry ($11,000), Tennessee vs. Kansas City
Early in the year, we talked about the idea that we should be way heavy on shares of Henry whenever he is not a popular play. That is no longer a viable strategy because Henry is going to be an extremely popular play every single week given his ridiculous usage (27 carries and 3 targets per game) this seasons. Over the past five weeks, Henry’s FanDuel point totals were 44.7, 17.9, 24.7, 31.0, and 34.6. If he had been on the main slate for all of those games, you would have been drawing dead in at least three of those weeks if you did not have him in your roster. It is simply a question of how many sacrifices you are willing to make to fit his salary in and whether you can still make a unique lineup. His salary is such an outlier at his position, that the rest of your lineup will inherently look more similar to those of the other Henry owners because you are fishing in a different salary pool than the rest of the entrants.
Joe Mixon ($7,200), Cincinnati at Baltimore
If taking a shot at a less popular running back (projected ownership in the neighborhood of 5%), Mixon is the player to target. Baltimore has a reputation as a stellar rush defense but has allowed 23.3 PPG to opposing running backs. Mixon was also excellent in the passing game last week (5-59-1) and the Bengals would be crazy not to keep giving him more and more chances as a pass catcher.
Those who do not roster Derrick Henry are likely going to find their way up to one or two of the elite plays at wide receiver. Tyreek Hill, Cooper Kupp, and Davante Adams are going to be amongst the most popular plays on the entire slate and you can make a strong case for any as your WR1. DeVante Parker, DeVonta Smith, and Jakobi Meyers will be the popular WR3 plays. The pass catchers priced in the mid-tier could go relatively under owned. A.J. Brown, Calvin Ridley, D.J. Moore, Ja'Marr Chase, and Chris Godwin are some of the mid-tier players who could win you a tournament if they produce on par with the guys at the top of the salary bracket.
Top WR Options
Calvin Ridley ($7,300), Atlanta at Miami
We know Calvin Ridley is a very talented player who has been extremely productive throughout his career. For his career, he has 9.0 yards per target and had a touchdown rate of 7.3% of targets. This season, he has averaged only 6.1 yards per target and a 2.4% touchdown rate. We should expect both of those numbers to start trending heavily towards his career rates, which makes Ridley the ideal buy-low candidate. The opportunities are going to be there given that Ridley is averaging 10.5 targets per game.
Calvin Ridley ranks ninth in targets-per-route.— Context Matters (@dwainmcfarland) October 21, 2021
Everything about his utilization and historical production screams buy-now before it is too late.
Falcons' offense quietly improving.
Third in plays & dropbacks last two games. ADOTs at 11.5 and 8.0 (around 5 first three games).
Davante Adams ($9,000), Green Bay vs. Washington
Adams is good chalk pretty much every week. He just has a different ceiling than any other wide receiver in the NFL right now. He has had multiple games with 16-plus targets. We have seen him explode for 25-plus FanDuel points eight times since the start of the 2020 season. Above and beyond his every week tournament viability, this matchup adds to the case for Adams. He leads the NFL in explosive pass plays (over 15 yards) with 16 in six games. Washington’s defense has allowed the most explosive pass plays in the NFL (41). Washington’s outside cornerbacks have struggled and they are left to get exposed by the defensive scheme that is not giving them enough help. It is a perfect recipe for Adams to rack up 25-plus FanDuel points for the ninth time in the past two seasons.
Davante Adams last 10 bounce-back performances following a non-injury-impacted game in which he failed to score a TD:— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) October 20, 2021
D.J. Moore ($7,700), Carolina at NY Giants
The Panthers-Giants game is much more attractive for fantasy purposes than the typical 43-point total game. The main reason is that injuries have further concentrated the projected workload and raised the projections for the few healthy players left. Moore had a massive 31% target share last week and there is no reason to think he will not get a similar piece of the pie again this week with Christian McCaffrey out and Terrace Marshall Jr banged up. Moore has seen 11-plus targets in four of the past five games and has a catch rate of 67% or higher in all but one of his outings. This is a spot where it appears Moore will go overlooked with more expensive players like Tyreek Hill and Cooper Kupp likely to end up with 4X the ownership. Hill and Kupp are both great plays this week in their own right but when you factor in price and popularity, it is easy to get excited about Moore as a pivot off of the chalk.
Other WRs to Consider:
Sterling Shepard ($6,500), NY Giants vs. Carolina
We need to keep an eye out for injury updates since he landed back on the injury report after Thursday’s practice. If Shepard is good to go, he is a great play for the same reasons outlined above for DJ Moore. Given the other injuries to Giants skill position players, Shepard is easily the most talented healthy player on this offense. It is hard to imagine him not again seeing 25% or more of the targets again this week after he was targeted 14 times last week.
Cooper Kupp ($8,800), LA Rams vs. Detroit
Kupp has been consistently great this season. He has seen 10-plus targets in every single game. He has had 7-plus catches and 90-plus receiving yards in all but one game. In addition to the huge floor, he has shown massive upside. Kupp has scored multiple touchdowns in half of his six games. The only real drawbacks here are pricing and popularity.
There are three or four tight ends who profile as relatively chalky this week. Kansas City stacks will be extremely popular and Travis Kelce is always popular, regardless. Darren Waller has been on a cold streak but he is going to be difficult for people to resist now that his price has dipped to $6,800. Dallas Goedert and Mike Gesicki should be the two most popular mid-tier options.
Top TE Options
Mark Andrews ($7,500), Baltimore vs. Cincinnati
Sandwiched in between Travis Kelce at $8,200 and Darren Waller at $6,800, Andrews is likely to go relatively overlooked this week. Expect the other two top tight ends on this slate to be 2-to-3X as popular. When looking at recent usage and production, Andrews has a strong case to be considered the overall fantasy TE1 right now. He has five straight games with at least 5 catches and 57 yards, which gives him a very solid floor. He has flashed a massive ceiling as well, averaging 24.5 FanDuel points per game over his last two. Over his last four games against the Bengals, Andrews has averaged 8.0 targets per game and scored three touchdowns.
Dallas Goedert ($5,900), Philadelphia at Las Vegas
With Zach Ertz in Arizona now, Goedert finally has a chance to take the TE1 role and run with it. Ertz’s departure will free up Goedert to take more snaps in the slot and he should emerge as a more consistent threat in the passing game. The price savings with Goedert is especially helpful this week given how attractive it is to either roster Derrick Henry or multiple elite wide receivers.
From Fri: Why the Eagles traded Zach Ertz, what it means for Dallas Goedert, and more...— Zach Berman (@ZBerm) October 18, 2021
- Expect Goedert to play 80+ % of the offensive snaps
- Eagles likely to play even more 11 personnel
- A lot of Tyree Jackson excitement in building https://t.co/3b83iqJUyH
Other TEs to consider:
Darren Waller ($6,800), Las Vegas vs. Philadelphia
Since his Week 1 explosion, Waller is averaging a pedestrian 6.8 targets per game. There are two ways to look at this. First, the emergence of Henry Ruggs III, Hunter Renfrow, and others have decreased Waller’s role enough that he is no longer an elite tight end option every week. Or it is just a blip on the radar and Waller is due to start seeing the 9-plus targets per week we had become accustomed to him getting. Where you fall on that spectrum should inform how heavily you want to invest in Waller this week.
Tampa Bay ($4,400) vs. Chicago
The Buccaneers stop the run and force teams to throw the ball, which gives them more opportunities to score fantasy points (sacks and interceptions). While the secondary is still banged up and some of the season-long numbers are not good, the defense has been much better the last three weeks. Over that recent three-game stretch, the Buccaneers are allowing under 20 points per game and have had multiple sacks and an interception in each outing. Making the Bears one-dimensional and forcing Justin Fields to have to beat them could lead to some turnovers and maybe even a defensive score.
NY Giants ($3,600) vs. Carolina
When targeting a lower-priced defense, it is typically best to target one that is playing at home against a mistake-prone quarterback. After recent weeks, we probably need to include Sam Darnold in that category until proven otherwise.