Daily Fantasy Football: Sannes' Situations to Monitor in Week 4

Part of our process in filling out daily fantasy football lineups is going to naturally be player evaluation. If a guy stinks, he's probably going to be inefficient, and that will lower his appeal from a DFS perspective. We care far more about volume, but player evaluation is going to creep into the fold at some point.

The only problem is that player evaluation is hard. And if you're not accounting for a player's situation, you're going to lead yourself down the wrong path.

Take Jared Goff as an example. Goff in his rookie season was surrounded by a hideous array of talent and a coaching staff that was stuck in the '90s. Not shockingly, dude looked terrible.

The very next year, with some new toys around him and Sean McVay calling plays, Goff helped lead one of the most efficient offenses in the entire league. Goff himself (unless the Los Angeles Rams pulled a fast one on us) didn't change; it was still the same guy putting on those shoulder pads. But the situation around him was different, meaning the 2017 version of Goff was -- at least for our purposes -- not the same person we saw in 2016.

That's going to be a factor on this week's main slate. With Saquon Barkley out due to an ankle injury, Wayne Gallman steps into the New York Giants' lead back role. At $5,800 on FanDuel, we're going to want to go at that pretty hard.

But if you look at Gallman's stats, you may think he's a bad player who is unworthy of love as a popular DFS asset. It's hard to blame you for coming to that conclusion.

But Gallman's stats are tainted by playing in a different situation with different surrounding talent. So let's take a deeper look at him before we dive deeper into other situations impacting the main slate.

Can Wayne Gallman Take Advantage of Volume?

From a usage perspective, Gallman is a no-brainer in cash games, so we don't need to talk much about him there. The bigger dilemma comes in tournaments, where staying away from a popular player who busts gives us a leg up on the field.

The best argument for not using Gallman is that he could stink. We've seen plenty of high-usage backs fail in the past because they were inefficient with their touches, and Gallman -- if there's no talent at his disposal -- could be more likely to fall in that bucket.

But in reality, we don't know if Gallman is good or not. Because the last time he got major volume, he was in a much worse situation.

One way to account for a player's surrounding talent is by comparing him to what his teammates did within the same offense. They're running behind the same offensive line and dealing with the same quarterbacking issues, so this can help account for situation, at least to an extent. So, a look at Gallman compared to his teammates would give us a potential glimpse at that.

Gallman finished 2017 with 111 carries, which is a pretty decent sample. He didn't do much, but he definitely did more than his teammates. The table below compares the two. Rushing NEP per carry is Rushing Net Expected Points per carry, which shows the expected points added or subtracted on each carry throughout the season. Because rushing is generally inefficient, a negative number there is pretty common. "Success Rate" is the percentage of carries that increase the team's expected points for the drive.

In 2017 Yards Per Carry Rushing NEP Per Carry Success Rate
Wayne Gallman 4.29 -0.05 45.05%
Other Giants RBs 3.91 -0.07 33.98%

Gallman had a better-than-average Rushing Success Rate and blew the doors off his teammates in that department, as well. It's only one metric, but it did paint Gallman in a more positive light.

Additionally, Gallman got work in the passing game that year, netting 49 targets. On a half-PPR site like FanDuel, each target is worth twice as much as a carry, so hypothetical involvement in the passing game is huge.

All of this is not to say that Gallman is comparable to Barkley. Hell to the naw. Here are Barkley's numbers in his career compared to Gallman in his career and what they've done relative to other running backs who have been on the Giants' rosters since 2017.

From 2017 to 2019 Yards Per Carry Rushing NEP per Carry Success Rate
Wayne Gallman 4.04 -0.03 43.20%
Saquon Barkley 5.19 0.05 39.53%
Other Giants RBs 3.86 -0.08 33.95%

Barkley is #goodatfootball, and losing him is a downgrade for the team. But Gallman is better than other guys they've had running in the same situation.

There's also just not a lot else on the depth chart outside of Gallman. Elijhaa Penny and recently promoted Jonathan Hilliman are the only other guys on the roster, which means Gallman's super likely to get volume. He played 63.1% of the snaps last week even though Barkley didn't leave until the end of the first half, which should translate to a hefty snap rate in Week 4. The rushing volume wasn't there, but the Giants entered the second half trailing by 18 points. You're not going to get a rush-heavy script there.

Basically, Gallman is the clear lead back on a team that is a 2.5-point home favorite, has a good offensive line, and might have good quarterback play. Gallman didn't have that Daniel Jones, Nate Solder, Will Hernandez, or Kevin Zeitler the last time he got lots of work, so it's an entirely new situation. Toss in that he's likely to get work both as a rusher and a pass-catcher, and that's an asset we can go overweight on in tournaments even when they'll be popular.

Gallman might not be a good football player. But the data on him isn't as bad as it seems, and his current situation is pretty good. Until we get a reason to do otherwise, it seems like we should be using Gallman aggressively in all formats.

Tracking LeSean McCoy's Role

LeSean McCoy re-aggravated his ankle injury last week, but after getting in a limited practice on Wednesday and a full one Thursday, he seems ready to rock and roll in Week 3. In the game with the highest total on the board, this situation is one that we'll need to track closely.

By the end of the game, Darrel Williams had more carries, targets, and snaps than McCoy. But it's important to remember that McCoy left that game early. Here's how the touches had been divvied when McCoy exited.

Before McCoy's Injury Carries Targets
LeSean McCoy 8 3
Darrel Williams 4 4

Williams was mixing in before McCoy got hurt, but McCoy was still the top dog.

It's also important to remember that McCoy didn't practice last Wednesday and was limited in pre-game warmups. This week, he was out there on Wednesday, meaning he's operating ahead of his previous schedule. That's a plus for him.

This should likely be enough to shove us off of Williams unless you're trying to get really weird. It should also make us interested in McCoy.

Despite leaving both games early due to injury, McCoy has three targets each of the past two games. The Chiefs like to get their backs work in the passing game, and a target from Patrick Mahomes carries quite a bit of juice. If the extra health for McCoy this week gets him up to five targets (Damien Williams had 11 total the first two weeks), he should be able to pay off his salary.

Given the murkiness around McCoy's injury and his role, we can safely avoid him in cash games and instead turn to guys like Gallman. But for tournaments, McCoy makes sense. It seems like they want to use him ahead of Williams, and McCoy might be healthier than he was last week. At $6,300 in this offense, that's enough to justify him as a decent part of our tournament lineups.

Kerryon Johnson's Expanded Role

On the other side of that game, though, is a running back whose role may be a tad more secure than McCoy's, and his salary is pretty similar. That's Kerryon Johnson, and he saw a pretty dramatic shift in his usage last week.

In the first two weeks of the season, the Detroit Lions -- for some reason -- insisted on giving C.J. Anderson volume. It didn't work. Eventually, Anderson got cut, making Johnson and rookie Ty Johnson the two main pieces left in the backfield.

It would have been reasonable to expect Ty Johnson's role to expand given how good he has looked since joining the Lions. Instead, Kerryon got most of Anderson's old workload.

Kerryon Johnson's Workload Carries Targets Snap Rate Routes Run
Week 1 16 2 57.1% 22
Week 2 12 3 55.0% 13
Week 3 20 1 77.0% 18

The total routes run were down from Week 1, but Matthew Stafford also had 48 drop backs there compared to 32 in Week 3, meaning Johnson actually ran a route on a higher percentage of drop backs in Week 3 (56.3%) than he did in Week 1 (45.8%). Doing that while setting a new career high in carries and logging the second-highest snap rate of his career is pretty noteworthy.

Given that the Chiefs rank dead last in scheduled-adjusted rush defense through three games, per numberFire's metrics, the Lions should be able to run the ball effectively, and when they do, it'll be Johnson carrying the ball. It's just a question of how long they'll be able to run.

If the Chiefs get out front early, the Lions may need to abandon the run and try to play catch-up. Detroit had control of the game throughout Week 3, so we still don't know what Johnson's workload will look like in a negative game script, meaning he's not someone we should flock to in cash games.

But there's also a scenario in which the Lions either win or hold a lead in the second half, in which case Johnson should see numbers similar to last week. That's advantageous at just $6,500, and he would be a good play in that scenario. He also could stay on the field when they're trailing, and we should account for that scenario, as well.

This all adds up to make Johnson a fairly attractive tournament target whether you're stacking this game up or not. He also has a better role than McCoy and is just a hair more expensive. So between the mid-tier running backs in this game, Johnson should likely sit higher on our lists, though neither seems to be a must-target asset in cash games.

The Colts (Potentially) Without T.Y. Hilton

As of now, we don't know if T.Y. Hilton will suit up for the Indianapolis Colts. With that said, he did re-aggravate his quad injury in Week 3 and miss practice both Wednesday and Thursday. As a result, we should at least make plans for how to handle this team if Hilton can't go.

We don't have much sample on the Colts without Hilton this year, but he did miss two games last year. And the team's performance -- and play-calling -- predictably changed without him out there, as you can see via The Quant Edge's injury tool.

The Colts in 2018 Pass Rate Yards Per Pass Attempt
With T.Y. Hilton 66.3% 7.51
Without T.Y. Hilton 48.9% 6.93

The dip in efficiency is predictable with how good Hilton is. But the number that should stand out most is the pass rate.

What makes it even more noteworthy is that the Colts have already been pretty run-happy this year. Ben Baldwin of The Athletic noted on Twitter that the Colts are throwing at the second-lowest rate in neutral situations through the first three weeks. In the first half of last week, they did throw 66% of the time on early downs, which was the sixth-highest mark, but that was also the half that Hilton played.

If Hilton sits, we should expect this to be a run-heavy team. That's good for Marlon Mack's value, even though the team's efficiency could decrease with such a big play-maker on the sidelines. Mack is cash-game viable at $7,300 despite that.

The potential rush-heavy script should lower our incentive to chase the secondary pieces on this team. The Colts threw 10 times without Hilton in the second half last week, and nobody had more than two targets. They've been rotating their receivers behind Hilton, and it's possible someone like Deon Cain or Parris Campbell could emerge with Hilton sidelined, but it'll be hard to predict who benefits most. As such, we should likely stick almost exclusively to Mack when targeting the Colts if Hilton does sit.

The Patriots' Touch Distribution

In general, Sunday's game between the New England Patriots and Buffalo Bills is pretty unappealing for fantasy. Both defenses have been elite this year, and the total has dipped to 42.5 from 43.5. There are better games at our disposal. But the volume on the Patriots' side may be concentrated enough to justify investment.

Julian Edelman and James White are both trending toward playing this weekend while Antonio Brown is out the door, meaning we've essentially got the same personnel in New England that they had for Week 1 (minus left tackle Isaiah Wynn, who is on injured reserve). That means we can look at that Week 1 matchup to see if there's an edge to be had.

If they do go that route, Edelman will be in play for DFS despite a poor game environment. He led the team with 11 of 37 targets, 2 of which were at least 16 yards downfield. The Bills have bled targets to Jamison Crowder and Tyler Boyd in the slot this year, so Edelman makes sense at $6,900, though he'd likely rank behind Sammy Watkins in a far more intriguing game.

The other guy to consider here would be White. Rex Burkhead out-targeted White, eight to seven, in that one, and he added eight rush attempts. But it's also important to remember that that game was a bloodbath, and the Patriots were up 20-0 at halftime. All seven of White's targets came in the first half compared to five for Burkhead.

Edelman and White combined for 13 of 26 targets in the first half of that game, meaning they're the guys we'd want to target here, especially with Josh Gordon likely to see coverage from Tre'Davious White. James White does cost you another swipe at a potential higher-upside back, which is something to keep in mind, but if you want to go at the Patriots, he and Edelman stand out the most.

Chris Carson's Dangerous Dance

Rashaad Penny missed practice again on Wednesday but returned to a limited session Thursday. If he plays, things change pretty drastically. But that's not a given, and if he sits, we should be into Chris Carson for a juicy matchup, right?

Based on Week 3, that's a risky proposition.

In that game, Carson lost another fumble, his third in three games. He also kept slipping during plays due to a consistent rain early on, and it basically led to his benching.

After Carson's fumble -- which was returned for a touchdown -- he had just five rush attempts the rest of the game compared to four for C.J. Prosise. Prosise added four targets while Carson had none, and Prosise actually wound up playing more snaps than Carson, as well. Part of this was likely due to game script, but the fact that the volume flipped right after Carson's fumble is probably not some strange coincidence.

This week, Carson slipping shouldn't be an issue given that there is a retractable roof (and if that game gets wet, we've got bigger issues). But we don't know what his role will look like here following all the issues.

The team has backed Carson all week, and it sounds like he's not fully in the doghouse yet. Because of that, it's worthwhile to get at least some exposure to him if Penny sits. But how much is a far different discussion.

It's a dream spot for Carson, so this is a situation you'll want to give extended thought. If you believe that Pete Carroll will be true to his word and let Carson "tear it up," then it's worthwhile to buy in at $7,000. But if you -- like me -- have some reservations about whether they truly trust Crisco Carson, it's more than okay to focus on the other guys with more firm roles, instead, and use Carson more just as a sprinkle play in tournaments.

Will Dissly Chalk Week

If you look at FanShare Sports' player tags for the week, you'll see that there's only one guy getting more love this week than Daniel Jones; that's Will Dissly. The chalk this week isn't hard to identify.

The case for Dissly is easy to make. He has three touchdowns the past two games and is facing a Cardinals team that has somehow given up at least 75 yards and a touchdown to three tight ends already this year. The team also traded Nick Vannett this week, and Vannett was taking snaps from Dissly through the first three weeks. Objectively, this play makes sense.

The problem is that Dissly plays a position that tends to disappoint.

Last year, popular tight ends failed to reach 1x value 27.5% of the time, the largest number for any position. They also hit 3x value and 4x value at the lowest rate. Seems good.

The other thing to consider here is that the Seahawks are not a pass-happy team, and this could be a game where they grab an early lead. Even the past two weeks, Dissly has just 14.8% of the Seahawks' targets, and his touchdown last week came on a free play at the end of the game where the Seahawks had no chance at winning. We should expect the target and snap shares to increase, but there's definitely a path to a down game here.

So, how should we handle Dissly?

For cash games, you can definitely justify him. Again, he'll get an expanded role for a great matchup, and he costs you just $5,400. That's worthy of consideration.

For tournaments, you have to play him based on your individual process. If you're cool with swallowing chalk, Dissly is a good play in a vacuum. But if you're averse to situations like this, we're not going to have the popular plays be this obvious often this year. Now would be the time to fade.

Personally, I plan on using Dissly at times in tournaments because he is objectively a good play, but I will likely have much less than the field. Travis Kelce is only $7,600, Evan Engram just got a quarterback upgrade, and both Delanie Walker and Vernon Davis can serve as pivots off of Dissly in a similar salary tier. I'll likely mix and match at the position rather than focusing on Dissly, which will just naturally make me less exposed to him than others will be. But this is a situation where you have to decide where your individual process takes you and act accordingly.

Scary Terry's Hairy Situation

Early in the week, I was getting all jazzed about using Washington's offense, which sounds absurd given how terrible they were on Monday night and a seeming lack of talent across the board. But Terry McLaurin is legitimately good, and the Giants' defense is legitimately a heaping pile of garbage, so we were going to get a little frisky.

Then McLaurin was limited in practice on Thursday.

In a vacuum, being limited in a Thursday practice is no biggie. But when that guy wasn't on the injury report on Wednesday, it could mean he got injured during practice, so that tweet sent up some red flags.

McLaurin could wind up being fine, though, so let's prepare for that situation. This would be a good spot for him and potentially for other players in the offense if we were to get it.

Through three games, McLaurin's overall market share is 19.7%, which won't make anybody's jaw drop. But he has nine deep targets and six red-zone targets, and those marks account for 62.5% of his overall looks. The overall volume might not be huge, but every look is carrying a huge amount of weight.

If we were to get that against the Giants' defense, we'd be pretty ecstatic, even at $6,300 at what is likely to be elevated ownership. McLaurin's presence would also even put Case Keenum in play, and he could help drag the aforementioned Vernon Davis into touchdown-scoring opportunities. McLaurin is now a pretty critical piece of the offense.

If McLaurin can't go, we can probably jump ship here and focus on just the other side of the game. So keep an eye on Friday's injury reports, and if we get a thumbs up on McLaurin, feel free to have a few lineups invested in this Washington offense.

Shockingly, the Chargers Are Hurt. Again.

Weird, right? Who would have guessed that?

This time, it's Justin Jackson and Mike Williams, both of whom are on Thursday's injury report. Williams was out for the second straight day, and Jackson popped up with a calf injury. As mentioned with McLaurin, mid-week additions to the injury report are firmly sub-optimal.

Melvin Gordon is with the team, but head coach Anthony Lynn said Thursday he didn't expect Gordon to play this weekend. That means that if Jackson can't go, Austin Ekeler could get all he can handle against a wretched Miami Dolphins team.

Ekeler has averaged 12.7 carries and 6.7 targets per game, which is already enough to justify his salary at $8,100. But Jackson's snap rate hit a new season-high last week, and it came a week after Ekeler lost a critical fumble against the Lions. Now, we may not need to worry about that.

Ekeler's in play no matter what, but he becomes an elite option if Jackson has to sit.

As for Williams, an absence for him would have the biggest impact on Philip Rivers. The Chargers are already a slow team that likes to run when they're ahead, and they could just try to nurse themselves to victory here. That's before even mentioning that they're a West Coast team playing a 1 pm game on the East Coast, potentially lacking two of their top three pass-catchers (counting Hunter Henry). The wind speeds are projected at 16 miles per hour, which is another potential reason the total has fallen to 43.5 from 45. We know Keenan Allen will get fed, and this won't change that. But Williams being out could lower the upside of the entire offense, souring us a bit on their guys across the board.

Monitoring Chris Godwin

One of the potential shootouts on the Week 4 main slate is between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Rams. There are lots of great plays on both sides of this one. But one of those great plays is now in danger of sitting.

If Chris Godwin can't go, it would certainly be a downgrade to Jameis Winston while funneling extra targets to Mike Evans. Not that Evans needs those after his explosion last week.

The other injury to monitor there is to center Ryan Jensen. He also missed practice both Wednesday and Thursday, which is not what you want when some guy named Aaron Donald is lining up on the other side of the ball. Keep an eye on that one because an absence for Godwin or Jensen -- especially both -- would constitute an upgrade for the Rams' defense and special teams.

The Browns' Nightmare Start

The Cleveland Browns have been a full-on poopshow this year, failing to move the ball against anybody outside of a battered New York Jets defense back in Week 2. Two of their mediocre performances came in primetime, meaning the whole world saw it, and they now go on the road to face the Baltimore Ravens. If you've got a panic button, it's time to bash that sucker hard.

But it also doesn't mean we should completely bail on pieces tied to this team.

A big part of that is that the Ravens' defense isn't as nasty as it once was. In fact, they'll be the worst pass defense the Browns have faced this year with the Tennessee Titans in 4th (by numberFire's schedule-adjusted metrics), the Rams sixth, and the Jets 14th. The Ravens are down in 19th.

We can write off what Patrick Mahomes did to them last week, but Week 2 is an interesting study. There, Kyler Murray, behind what is likely the second-worst offensive line in the league -- one worse than Cleveland's -- managed to throw for 349 yards on 40 attempts while taking three sacks. Murray finished with 0.19 Passing NEP per drop back, which is actually above the league average of 0.14.

With Za'Darius Smith and C.J. Mosley gone and Jimmy Smith and Tavon Young injured, this defense -- as of right now -- isn't one to be feared. Defensive coordinator Wink Martindale has a knack for fixing things like that, so we shouldn't consider it a permanent state, but the Browns may be catching them at the right time.

Baker Mayfield has been a major culprit in the Browns' struggles, but if the pass rush doesn't get to him, and he can hang in the pocket, he's capable of picking this defense apart. But the team is unlikely to carry any ownership this weekend given the high-profile nature of their flops.

Potential life out of the Browns would be extra interesting because it would also increase our desire to use pieces on the Ravens' offense for a shootout scenario. The beauty of both of these teams is that you know exactly where the ball is going.

The table below looks at the market-share data for the top guys on each team over the past two games. We're looking at just the past two to account for Marquise Brown's spike in snaps in Week 2 and David Njoku's injury early that same week.

Past 2 Games Overall Share Deep Targets RZ Targets
Marquise Brown 30.1% 38.5% 0.0%
Mark Andrews 21.9% 15.4% 37.5%
Odell Beckham 28.8% 41.2% 9.1%
Jarvis Landry 24.2% 35.3% 36.4%
Nick Chubb 16.7% 0.0% 9.1%

Those are fairly concentrated target trees. It means we should feel pretty good about investing in Brown, Odell Beckham, and Jarvis Landry. Brown gets a major boost if both Denzel Ward and Greedy Williams were to sit after both missed practice again Thursday, but Beckham and Landry are in play regardless.

Mark Andrews missed practice both Wednesday and Thursday, but that's after he never got in more than a limited practice last week. He still managed to play 52.4% of the snaps in Week 3 (in line with his mark in Week 2), so as long as he's able to practice Friday, we should consider him a bounce-back candidate at $6,100.

As for Nick Chubb, he doesn't fit the default process where we target running backs who are heavy favorites. But last week, he played a whopping 97.2% of the snaps, up from 60.9% the previous week, and got seven targets. He was used like a bellcow, and as a result, he managed to score 15.1 FanDuel points without a touchdown. That's something we should covet at just $7,300.

That's not to say you should use Chubb -- or anybody from this game, really -- in cash games. This is more of a tournament angle where we can buy low on an offense that is facing a defense that isn't as good as perception. Feel free to take some stabs at the struggling Browns and also game stack this one with either quarterback.

David Johnson's Usage

In a similar vein to Chubb, we have David Johnson down at $6,800. His workload is of someone whose salary should be closer to $8,000, even when you account for his team's deficiencies.

Johnson missed time in Week 2 due to a wrist injury, so we can write that one off. Here's the work he has gotten in the other two games. "Adjusted opportunities" is just carries plus two-times the player's target total because -- as mentioned earlier -- a target is worth twice as much as a carry to a running back in a half-PPR scoring setting.

Johnson in 2019 Carries Targets Adjusted Opportunities Snap Rate
Week 1 18 7 32 86.5%
Week 3 11 9 29 86.7%

Johnson's 30.5 adjusted opportunities per game would rank second on the slate behind Christian McCaffrey if it were his full-season number. No matter how bad the offense is, it seems like he should cost more than $6,800.

Outside of a touchdown in Week 1, Johnson hasn't gotten targeted downfield, which is a pretty major bummer. But even that Week 1 game shows that a long target is within his range of outcomes, and we should at least keep that in mind.

But Johnson's getting massive usage on a team that is pumping out big play volume. That volume could get capped this week because they're playing a Seahawks team that tries to play keep-away, but that was also true of the Cardinals' opponent in Week 1. Johnson isn't a must-use for cash games, but he's definitely in that discussion, and he's a great play for tournaments despite his team's inefficiencies.

A (Potentially) Thin Falcons Backfield

Ito Smith returned to practice Thursday after suffering a concussion last week, which means he could be good to go this week. If he is, we should assume this backfield will be the same 60-40 split in favor of Devonta Freeman that it has been all year. But if Smith misses, Freeman could get some extra work, which is enticing as a four-point home favorite.

Given Freeman's injury history, it seems likely the Atlanta Falcons would funnel extra work to Brian Hill even if Smith is out, but Freeman would get a larger piece of the pie. This is for a guy who already had four targets in each of the first three games, helping mitigate some of his inefficiencies as a runner.

It's worth noting again that the Titans' defense is good, and they were able to bottle up Leonard Fournette despite heavy volume last week. But Freeman should be on our radar if Smith can't clear concussion protocol by Sunday.

Heavy Winds in Denver

When wind speeds get to 10 miles per hour, I start to monitor things closely because it does make a big impact in DFS. The average wind speed for wide receivers in perfect lineups last year was 5.6 miles per hour, and none of them came from games with wind speeds higher than 15 miles per hour.

It's not exactly a shootout in Denver, but current wind speeds there are projected to be 19 miles per hour as the Denver Broncos host the Jacksonville Jaguars. This should lower our interest in Emmanuel Sanders and Courtland Sutton, even with Jalen Ramsey sidelined.

You could consider the running backs here because all three of Leonard Fournette, Phillip Lindsay, and Royce Freeman have gotten fairly heavy target loads this year. And they're all cheaper than $7,000, so it's not a bad idea to give them a look.

The one thing to note there, though, is that the wind may have an impact on their ceilings, as well. If teams can't throw deep, it's harder to move the ball quickly, which means it's likely to be a lower-scoring game. That impacts the running backs, as well.

But the volume for those guys is good enough to keep them in play despite that. We'll just want to be a bit wary of the other pieces in this game given the unfavorable conditions.