Simply put: you’re going to want to check in here each week before setting your DraftKings lineups. That’s because I’ll be helping you sift through your DFS options without spinning my wheels talking fantasy scoring.
No, my goal will not be to opine to you on the highest scoring plays of the week’s slate; that’s a semi-fruitless task, and one you’re swarmed with on any other DFS advice site. Rather, I’m going to be reporting to you on the value of your options – their scoring abilities relative to their salaries. You’ll be filled in on the details of two weekly measures:
DK Points (DK Pts) is the player’s DraftKings projection for the week, rooted in the offense’s and defense’s performances over the last three weeks. (For the first few weeks, the model fills the gaps with my per-game projections for each player.) Please note that the goal of these projections is NOT to predict an exact point total; I’m not interested in supernaturally conjuring visions of A.J. Green’s next 40-point explosion. Rather, I’m keeping a tight view of a player’s capabilities and seeking the likely outcome of his matchup – in a sense, I’m seeking out his probabilities of reaching a certain scoring level.
H-Value (DK H-Val) is an attempt to reconcile a player’s scoring projection with his per-dollar value. You can’t fill a lineup with exclusively high-salaried players, and you’d never load up on just cheap, low-ceiling options. H-value brings the two together, marrying a player’s projected scoring and salary to lay out his true meaning to a DFS roster. The formula is simple:
(DK Pts^1.73205 / DK Sal) * 2,000
On to my Week 6 DraftKings plays:
He’ll again represent a ton of chalk, and again he projects as a top-two scorer. This week, however, he’s also the top QB value on the board. Balk at his $7,700 price tag and fade if you wish, but you’re likely to find yourself behind your cash-game field, which will probably own him at or above 20%. And note that Brady tends to excel regardless of game script; he threw for 400+ yards and three scores in three quarters of play last week, and no team throws more with a big lead than the Patriots.
This could be the week. Wilson hasn’t wowed a DFSer on earth yet this year, but he’s kept up his trademark efficiency – his completion rate and net yards per attempt either exceed or match his career averages. And he’s in position to deliver strong cash value Sunday. He’ll need just 19-21 points to do so, a mark he easily surpassed two weeks ago in dismantling the Jets’ pathetic secondary. This week’s matchup is almost as rosy: Falcons opponents have thrown for 280+ yards in four of five games, and all four tossed 3+ touchdowns. Even without vintage rushing numbers (just 15 rushes for 28 scoreless yards), Wilson seems destined for cash value.
By virtue of NFL scheduling – Palmer draws the Jets this week – it would be a notable upset should he fail to hit his 18-point cash marker. His last two games failed to reach, but brought 287 and 288 yards, weighed down by a 1:6 touchdown-to-turnover ratio. Adjusting those variables accordingly would guarantee a 3x or 4x day. Four of the Jets’ five opponents have topped 300 yards with comfortable wiggle room, and their 11:2 ratio bodes well for Palmer’s bounceback odds.
No, Hoyer isn’t this good (three straight 300-yard performances), and defenses will catch up to his extreme dink-and-dunk game soon. But in the meantime, he remains underpriced by DraftKings in an attractive home matchup. He needs 23-24 points to deliver GPP value, and has hovered around or exceeded that in all three starts. This matchup isn’t great, but it comes at home, and Hoyer isn’t being asked to play heroically anyway. Another steady diet of quick, underneath throws should set him up well to approach 4x scoring.
Of course the bulk of Taylor’s appeal comes from his running, and those returns have been iffy thus far. He’s only topped 28 ground yards once in 5 games after doing so in 9 of his 14 starts last year. But I’ll still drop him into a deeper GPP somewhere. If he can reach 50 ground yards, he’d likely only need 200 yards and 2 scores through the air to hit his GPP marker. (He’s reached each of those passing milestones twice, for the record.) Facing a pace-up game with the pitiful 49ers, this may be Taylor’s brightest outlook of the year, and therefore a fine time to roll the dice.
It’s hard to ever really fade the guy in a cash portfolio, even when his salary reaches these heights ($7,900). That’s because we’ve yet to really identify a game script in which Bell isn’t at least a 75/25 bet for a 23-point floor. Obviously, by my model he’s the week’s No. 1 overall play by DraftKings H-value, with a 73.09 score that’s not even at his ceiling. Last week, I pointed out that Bell often struggles to hit cash value when the matchup is prohibitive to yards per carry, and there probably is something to that. But that may not matter much, as his usage has taken a shove into “overwhelming” status. He’s on a pace that would extrapolate to 304 rushes and an eye-popping 112 catches over 16 games. And in the case of Bell, whose versatility and workload ceiling has risen steadily over his four seasons, it feels foolhardy to expect much regression from those lofty numbers. He’ll be utilized until the wheels come off, and he carries a cash-game floor and ceiling that are unrivaled league-wide. You won’t want to be caught without him in cash contests, where he’ll be 25% owned or more, so don’t overthink this. There’s plenty of low- and mid-dollar value elsewhere to fit him in.
McCoy will almost certainly stand alongside Bell as the week’s chalkiest options, and why not? He’s a true bell cow for a Vegas favorite, and he’ll see a bump in pace against Chip Kelly’s 49ers, who have faced the second-most rushing attempts thus far (33.4 per game). As a result, his floor for touches sits between 22-25, which alone makes him a cash-game cog; the 49ers’ pathetic run defense just boosts him into the value stratosphere. They’ve allowed 172+ ground yards in three of the last four games, and opposing lead backs have averaged a staggering 28 DraftKings points in them.
The 49ers are a mess, indeed, but Hyde doesn’t seem bothered. In fact, by my model, he’s the week’s No. 2 overall play in terms of DraftKings H-value (70.07). He’s not posting much efficiency, but he’s boasting usage that belies his team’s 1-4 start. Through five games, he’s drawn 34.7% of 49ers looks (rushes + targets); that’s an impressive rate that bests those of Eddie Lacy and Ryan Mathews, both workhorse backs for winning teams. The 49ers have lost three times by double digits, and Hyde has managed to draw 17, 22, and 28 looks (rushes + targets) in those contests. This matchup isn’t quite as daunting as it looks, and Chip Kelly’s pace-up scheme boosts Hyde’s floor noticeably, to the point that his 15-point cash marker seems almost a given. He’s recorded 14.9 or better in four of five weeks.
He’s proving everyone wrong, dominating the Titans backfield thoroughly and posting great efficiency in the process. Murray has racked up 119+ scrimmage yards in each of his last four games, as his high receiving usage has provided an unassailable floor. He’s also been a dark zone king, taking eight of the team’s nine rushes and a RB-high five targets from there. His cost has climbed steadily, to the point that you’re better served coughing up an additional $200 for Le’Veon Bell. But cash players with multiple lineups will need to cede at least a little exposure.
The book on Freeman’s 2016 is that Tevin Coleman is vulturing too much of his usage, but that’s not really the case. Freeman isn’t the every-snap workhorse he was last year, but he’s still commanding 63% of the pair’s carries and has double-lapped Coleman in rushing efficiency in the process. He boasts a 5.26 yards-per-carry mark, generating long runs at an elite rate, and has registered 93+ scrimmage yards in three of five games. The matchup is dreadful, of course, but that will serve keep his ownership in the bottom tiers (well under 5%). Besides, Freeman was in top form against the Broncos’ swarming defense last week; his typical usage with a handful of splash plays mixed in again makes for appealing potential. Carlos Hyde managed that to provide just three weeks ago against the Seahawks.
My model loves Gore’s outlook, even in a tough matchup in Houston. He projects to 20 carries and 4 targets, which speaks to a floor that belies the Colts’ pass-dominant reputation. His tournament appeal comes from a strong touchdown outlook; the Colts are flailing, but they’re getting to the dark zone, and only the Saints are run against from inside the 10 than the Texans. Gore could easily see 2-3 goal line touches, which could result in a multi-TD game to pair with that robust usage.
Across the field, Miller has been behind some table-pounding among the Footballguys staff this week. It’s easy to see why: in GPP portfolios, DFSers need to be seeking out options of only moderate attractiveness but with signs of positive regression coming. Miller has been a workhorse as a Texan, but doesn’t have a touchdown to show for it, nor a 100-yard game since Week 1. The Colts are allowing more fantasy points to RBs than any other team, so this could be the week Miller bucks his trends and posts the line we’ve all been expecting. He needs about 25 points for tournament value, a perfectly fair expectation for a bell cow facing the Colts.
This one is speculative; Rainey may or may not have a real role upon Rashad Jennings’ possible return. But he’s the only Giants back to have displayed a specialty, or any utility whatsoever, through five games, so the team would be wise to keep him rolling. The third-down specialist has caught 13 balls during Jennings’ two-week absence; if we can project 5 receptions this week, he’ll reach his near-minimum GPP value easily. This looks like solid salary relief, provided the ineffective Jennings doesn’t burgle his workload.
It’s hard to tell whether we just witnessed the breakout of the Bears’ next target hog or a fluky 130-yard game he’ll never repeat. What we do know is that Alshon Jeffery is not a major part of the Brian Hoyer-led offense, and that the team’s flanker has dominated targets over the last three weeks. Kevin White drew 23 of them over his two games starting with Hoyer, and Meredith stepped in last week to garner a team-high 12 of his own. But whether Meredith is the team’s top WR target going forward or a mere piece of the puzzle, his $4,100 salary just begs us to roster him and find out. A line around 6 catches and 60 yards brings cash value without even needing a touchdown,
We all want Coates this week, provided his lacerated finger allows him to play. He did not practice Wednesday, but played through the injury last week and hung 139 yards and two scores on the pitiful Jets secondary. (Just think of what could have been: hampered by the injury, Coates dropped four balls against the Jets, including an easy touchdown.) Despite the eruption, his DraftKings cost didn’t soar, settling at $4,700 – a cost I’d be happy to pay in GPPs even if Coates were nothing but a deep threat. His ascension to Ben Roethlisberger’s No. 2 option (8 and 11 targets over the last two weeks) shoves him forcibly into “dynamite cash play” status. Coates could absolutely hit 14 points against the Dolphins’ blah secondary, even if he doesn’t find the end zone with one of his inevitable long balls.
Hilton gets another nod here, mainly on the back of his volume as the Colts’ only real game in town. Since Donte Moncrief’s injury, Hilton sits 6th in the league with 32 targets, and he’s tied with Antonio Brown for the lead in receptions over those three games. He’s taking on a prohibitive pass defense, but one that just lost J.J. Watt and numerous cornerbacks and was promptly shredded last week by Adam Thielen. Hilton will be highly owned and heavily targeted; a cash-game selection means you’re betting on him matching Thielen’s efficiency and finding the end zone, which he’s done for three games straight. This isn’t a great week to pay up for elite wideouts, so Hilton finds himself in a meaty value situation at $7,700. He’s soared past that 23-point marker twice in the last three weeks.
Robinson hasn’t yet erupted like we’ve hoped, but he’s come close. Most importantly, he’s continuing his 2015 stranglehold on the Jaguars passing game, with 41 targets (26% of the team’s total) through four games. In a relatively even matchup with Chicago, Robinson looks primed to truly erupt. Robinson is costly and will need 23 points to cash, but that’s well within his range. The Bears had overachieved against WRs prior to T.Y. Hilton’s 10-catch, 171-yard evisceration last week. Color me stunned if Robinson doesn’t record at least six catches and find the end zone.
I’m not as into Maclin as some of my fellow Footballguys, but I do think he’ll be highly owned in a matchup with the Raiders’ thoroughly burnable cornerbacks. Rostering Maclin allows us to follow the chalk and chase a big day in the process – Oakland has managed to allow six 100-yard peformances through five games, and Maclin is Kansas City’s only real threat to reach that point. Maclin hasn’t even sniffed his 18-point marker since Week 1, but this is just a golden opportunity to erupt.
Despite his miniscule $4,500 price tag, Brown carries a nice ownership outlook for a GPP contest. Cardinals wideouts tend to “split the vote,” often leaving Brown less than 8% owned even in great situations. It doesn’t get much better than this one: the Jets’ much-maligned secondary has allowed well over 300 air yards in four of five games, and deep threats in particular have reached value against them consistently. Sammie Coates Jr, Marquise Goodwin, and even Tanner McAvoy can attest to that. Brown has relegated Michael Floyd to a near-afterthought, so both his volume and big-play outlooks are potentially sexy.
Thomas may be on the verge of becoming the Saints’ more consistent, predictable weapon. While Brandin Cooks and Willie Snead IV have seen their roles fluctuate, Thomas’ has only grown, and his 20 targets have led the team over the last two weeks. Just as importantly for GPP purposes, he’s also developing into an intriguing dark zone threat. Over those two games, he’s drawn 3 looks from inside the 10; the team clearly values his underneath playmaking near the goal line. The Panthers secondary is clearly in flux, and Brees (and his targets) have a clear path to a studly fantasy day. Thomas is the cheapest, but he’s also got the clearest path to his GPP value marker (17 points).
You won’t feel sexy doing it, but chasing one of these opponents’ low GPP markers (16-17 points) looks shrewd this week. Kerley became Blaine Gabbert’s preferred choice by default, and it is indeed a question as to whether Colin Kaepernick will value him similarly. But at just $4,000, it probably doesn’t matter – Kerley won’t need another 13-target day to reach value. My H-value projections adore him, as he’s PPR gold and just about all the 49ers have at wideout. Woods fell on his face last week against a strong Rams secondary, but caught six and seven passes in his previous two games. And he gets a pace-up this Sunday, further clearing his path to a value-filled line. Woods doesn’t really need a touchdown for value; a mere six or seven catches should do the trick.
There’s been a common perception since the middle of last season that the Graham Experiment has failed in Seattle. Compared to Seahawks skill position flops like Percy Harvin and Sidney Rice, Graham has been maligned as a trade bust. But no one’s told Russell Wilson: Graham has had Wilson’s eye since Day 1 (a 20.9% target share as a Seahawk), and he’s re-emerged as an elite downfield playmaker. When healthy, few carry a ceiling on the level of Graham’s, and he’s priced perfectly for his floor. The position is rich in cheap value, but Graham will find his way onto most of my two-TE rosters.
Everyone and their mothers will be rostering Bennett, who last week indicated with a six-catch, three-touchdown line that his hefty role in the offense is not illusory. Bennett has played at least 79% of Patriots snaps since Rob Gronkowski’s return – he’s virtually a starter and carries no real volume concerns as the No. 2 tight end. You’ve got the greenlight to include him heavily in your cash portfolio, especially now, while his price tag has yet to catch up.
Walker draws the Browns this week, the prototype for a tight end defense to target. Over their three matchups with elite TEs, they’ve somehow allowed five touchdowns and 100.1 DraftKings points to the position. That aligns things for Walker, who’s seeing nearly a quarter of Titans targets and producing yardage on an elite level. The Titans don’t project to much passing this week, but 16.5 points are well within Walker’s wheelhouse.
Barnidge is again a free space in cash games this week, and he makes for a fine GPP option as he blends in with the crowd in terms of ownership. He’s still priced far too low – his GPP marker is just 13 points, and he’s been within a half-point of that three weeks in a row. He looks locked into a consistent and semi-prominent role, drawing 6+ targets and topping 56 yards for three straight weeks. His salary relief opens up a lot of possibilities.
In three games with Brian Hoyer, Miller has picked up where his surprising age-31 breakout of last year left off. He’s drawn the second-highest share of Hoyer’s targets, and he’s dominated in the dark zone (four targets, three touchdowns). For whatever reason, DraftKings’ pricing isn’t impressed, but I still see plenty of value margin here. Miller only needs to catch a handful of balls to return value in any format.
With Minnesota on bye, Buffalo takes the reins as the Week 6 value leader. Over the last three weeks, they sit second behind the Vikings in sacks (12) and tied for the league lead in takeaways (9). You might consider fading them due to a higher-paced date with the 49ers, but that’s classic #NarrativeStreet – the facts tell us these 49ers are running more plays than the average but still a mid-pack amount.
There will also be chalk all over the Titans, whose improved unit takes on the Browns at home. Their numbers are unexciting, but Cleveland struggles to move the ball consistently and has topped 20 points just once in five games. It’s also a fair bet they’ll lose their starting quarterback mid-game to a shoulder injury.
I can see the contrarian appeal in ditching those two options for the Lions, who draw Case Keenum at home. They may get back pass rusher extraordinaire Ezekiel Ansah, too, which would boost a pass rush that’s provided multiple sacks in all five games thus far.
What the Steelers’ outlook lacks in splash plays, it makes up for in dysfunction of opposing offense. Ryan Tannehill hasn’t topped 175 yards in two weeks, and the offense has found the end zone just twice over that span. Most importantly, they’ve allowed 12 sacks over that span, second-most in the league. Pittsburgh’s floor isn’t great, but the ceiling sure is.