Daily Fantasy Football: Sannes' Situations to Monitor in Week 6
When a team is playing without its quarterback, all data goes out the window. Their play-calling tendencies change, their efficiency shifts drastically, and the team may even operate at a slower pace to mask its vulnerabilities.
When the quarterback comes back, then, it means that we essentially have to reset all expectations for the entire team and start from square one. That's what we have to do with the New York Jets this weekend.
Sure, Sam Darnold might not be at his optimal conditioning after missing a month due to mono, and that matters. But he can't be worse than Luke Falk, which means this entire team gets a lift, and it could present a buying window in daily fantasy.
We've got to dig into each of the Jets' skill-position guys now and see how we should be viewing them with Darnold back in the fold. If Darnold's absence led to depressed salaries for the backs and receivers -- spoiler alert: it did -- we'll have to assess if that discount is enough to justify diving in right away.
Let's start with the Jets and how Darnold's presence impacts them and the opposing Dallas Cowboys. Then we'll dive into some other injuries and situations that could have a big impact on the main slate.
The Revitalized Jets
In order to fully grasp how big of a difference Darnold makes in his return, we first have to look at how much Falk struggled. Don't let the kids see these numbers.
Falk's 90 drop backs resulted in -50.70 Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per drop back. NEP is numberFire's model for tracking the expected points gained or lost on each drop back, including deductions for expected points lost on sacks and interceptions. Falk lost 0.56 NEP per drop back, which was 0.18 worse than any other quarterback with at least 50 drop backs and 0.46 worse than any quarterback who doesn't play for the Miami Dolphins. Every drop back lowered the team's expected point total for the drive by half a point, which is monumentally hideous.
This isn't all Falk's fault; he was thrust into the fire in a bad situation, and he had to play last week without the benefit of all the first-team reps in practice. It was a bad situation for sure, and not all of that will be alleviated with Darnold being back. But it can't get any worse.
In Darnold's lone game this year, he did struggle, finishing with -0.19 Passing NEP per drop back. That's a tough number, but it's also better than what both Andy Dalton and Tom Brady did against the Buffalo Bills' defense this year. The Bills are a legit unit, and we shouldn't penalize quarterbacks who falter against them.
The Cowboys are a bit of a different story. They enter this week ranked 20th against the pass, according to numberFire's schedule-adjusted metrics, even allowing Case Keenum to rack up 0.25 Passing NEP per drop back against them. They're not actively bad, but they're also not a unit we need to avoid.
Darnold is only $6,700 on FanDuel, and it may be a bit too cute to use him off the long absence, but he's not entirely off the map. He also has the best surrounding talent among quarterbacks below $7,000, so it wouldn't be insane to use Darnold. But the main attraction here is really the skill-position group.
Because even a limited Darnold should be an upgrade over Falk, the touchdown equity in each player in this offense gets a shot in the arm. With how heavy Le'Veon Bell's usage has been, that's all he needs to be one of the best values on the board at $6,800.
We can view Bell's past three games with a bit of skepticism because the Jets -- understandably -- wanted to lean on him rather than Falk when they could. But even when Darnold was healthy in Week 1, Bell had 17 carries and 9 targets, one of which resulted in a touchdown. He's going to be a bellcow for a competent offense, meaning Bell is a great play for both cash games and tournaments.
Things at receiver are a bit less definitive. In Week 1, Jamison Crowder had a whopping 17 targets, but the Bills' outside corners have proven to be elite options, funneling work inside. Robby Anderson still had seven targets in that one, and two of Darnold's four deep throws went Anderson's way.
Crowder is $5,400, and Anderson is $5,300. You can make a case for either pretty easily. Both should grade out below Bell, and both come with tons of risk. But in tournaments, it's not a bad idea to take a shot at this passing game.
The other ripple effect of Darnold's return is that it should increase our interest in the Cowboys' offense. If the Jets are now better able to keep things competitive, it'll force Dak Prescott to keep slinging it deeper into the game. That obviously benefits Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup, but it's also good for Ezekiel Elliott, whose role in the passing game has been muted so far this year.
Elliott enters this week with 10.9% of the Cowboys' targets. That's about half of where he was in relevant games after Cooper joined the team last year. A target is worth twice as much as a carry in half-PPR scoring settings, so that dip is a significant one, and it hurts Elliott's value for DFS. That's why we don't necessarily need to shovel him into cash-game rosters this weekend.
But Elliott is also a talented player, and his muted passing-game role is not necessarily fixed. For tournaments, Elliott is in play at $8,500.
Volume is less of an issue for Cooper and Gallup. In fact, theirs has been elite in the three games they've played together. Here's a breakdown of the target distribution in the three games Gallup has played with a "deep" target being at least 16 yards beyond the line of scrimmage.
|With Gallup Playing||Overall Targets||Deep Targets||RZ Targets|
Cooper has nine deep targets in those three games alone, and Gallup has a strong 27.6% overall target share. Both players lose a bit of juice in moving outdoors and going on the road, but especially with Gallup down at $6,100, the volume here is nice enough to give them heavy consideration.
David Johnson's Barking Back
One of the better games on this week's slate is the matchup between the Arizona Cardinals and Atlanta Falcons. The total is 51 points at FanDuel Sportsbook and even higher at other books, according to oddsFire, and both defenses are pure dumpster slush right now. We want to get exposure to this game.
Unfortunately, the availability of one of the better assets within it is very much in question.
In open part of #AZCardinals practice, RB David Johnson, LB Haason Reddick and S Charles Washington worked on the side. Didn't see LB Dennis Gardeck, LB Terrell Suggs, LB Ezekiel Turner. Practicing were WR Christian Kirk, WR Damiere Byrd, CB Tramaine Brock. Basically no changes.
— Darren Urban (@Cardschatter) October 10, 2019
David Johnson missed practice on Wednesday, as well, meaning there's a decent chance he has to sit. Johnson's workload is far better than most backs at $6,800, meaning we'd want to bathe in shares if he were healthy. That could still wind up happening, and if he gets in a full practice on Friday, feel free to load up. But if Johnson can't go, then Chase Edmonds basically becomes a free square.
When a value running back pops up in DFS, you have to ask two questions:
1. Will this player get the bulk of the volume?
2. Will they get work in the passing game?
As mentioned with Zeke, a target is worth twice as much as a carry in half-PPR settings, so that second question is a big one, and it's going to play a role in a couple of other discussions on this slate.
We'd be able to answer "yes" to both questions if Edmonds were to play over Gurley.
The reason we can have such confidence in this is that we saw it last week. Johnson's back tightened up during their game with the Cincinnati Bengals, and Edmonds stepped in to play 35.1% of the snaps. He has played at least 10% of the snaps in each game, and he hit 40.0% in the game where Johnson dealt with a wrist injury. There is no question who the team's second option is at running back.
The passing-game work was there for Edmonds, too. He finished the Cincinnati game with four targets and ran seven routes from the slot, according to Pro Football Focus. Edmonds has lined up as a receiver for 25 total snaps this year, so there should be no doubt that he'd log a good number of targets.
Because we know that Edmonds would likely play at least 70% of the snaps and get work in the passing game, he'd be a no-brainer cash-game play at $5,200. He'd also be an elite tournament play.
There's a good chance that Edmonds would wind up being the most popular play on the slate, which could push some to look elsewhere. But running backs in last year's perfect lineups were on an average of 20.95% of lineups in the FanDuel Sunday Million, meaning the chalk at the position was often profitable. Only three running backs last year were on more than 50% of rosters in the Sunday Million, meaning that if you go hard at Edmonds, you'll likely be overweight relative to the field, giving you a leg up should he go off. Sometimes, chalk is chalk for a reason, and that'd be the case with Edmonds. This would be a spot where you wouldn't want to overthink it and just plug him in.
Using Edmonds also shouldn't stop you from using pieces of the Cardinals' passing offense. He'd stack well with Kyler Murray at $7,700 due to the passing-game work. Additionally, a running back was paired with either a wide receiver or tight end on his own team in the perfect lineup seven times last year, which is a pretty high rate for a 17-week sample. This is even more palatable when you consider that both Larry Fitzgerald and Christian Kirk are just $5,600, so it is mighty fine to load up on Arizona whether Johnson plays or not.
Atlanta's Touch Distribution
Before we dive into another potential value back, let's talk about the other side of the Cardinals versus the Falcons. Given the Cardinals' defensive woes and fast-paced offense, we're going to want pieces of the Falcons. We just have to figure out which ones fit best.
The simple route for doing so is Matt Ryan. Ryan has at least 300 yards in each game, three passing touchdowns in three of those, and the Cardinals' defense has bled points to quarterbacks all year. He and Murray are two of the best -- if not the best -- quarterback plays on the slate.
The pass-catchers all have upside, as they have taken turns showing this year. We just have to decide which one we want this week.
Here's the target distribution for the Falcons through the first five games, along with each player's FanDuel salary to help in the decision-making process.
|In 2019||FD Salary||Overall Targets||Deep Targets||RZ Targets|
An important context to keep in mind is that the Falcons are chucking it a ton, so a 20.5% market share here is far different than what it would be on the Minnesota Vikings. This does help paint a picture of how we should handle each player, as well.
Julio Jones returned to practice Thursday after missing Wednesday's session, so he should be good to go. But the volume hasn't been quite as good this year as it was in 2018. Last year, his 28.5% target share equated to 10.6 overall targets and 3.6 deep targets per game; this year, he's down to 8.8 and 2.8 per game, respectively. That's a non-negligible difference.
This means that we probably shouldn't target Jones in cash games, even in an ideal matchup. Instead, we should allocate that salary to spendier running backs, who will almost always possess the better floor than a receiver because they touch the ball more often.
For tournaments, it's a different story. In the first three games this year, Jones scored four touchdowns, and he topped 100 receiving yards twice. He's just hit a bit of a lull since then. That lull shouldn't push us off a guy who arguably has the best ceiling of any receiver in football, so he'll be a key part of game stacks here. It's probably best to just look elsewhere in cash.
The one guy you could consider on this team in cash games is Austin Hooper. His target share is lower than Jones', but that's to be expected at such a thin position. Hooper's target share ranks fifth on the main slate at tight end, and he's fourth in salary. Given the pass-heavy nature of this offense and Hooper's matchup, he's a great cash-game stack with Ryan if you decide to go that route, and Hooper's solid for tournaments, too, despite what we can assume will be elevated ownership.
The reason that Ridley has had some dud games this year is that his target load is super volatile. Of his 32 targets this year, 11 have been at least 16 yards downfield, and those are going to come with a lower catch rate and higher variance. Variance can be annoying when you hit the low end, but Ridley has shown several times that he can also hit the high end, topping 14 FanDuel points three times in five games. Ryan is a good deep-ball passer, they're playing indoors, and Ridley is capable of hauling the bombs in. That means his odds of hitting his ceiling are pretty solid.
Using Ridley means accepting the risks that he could bust, but with how spread out the targets are in this offense, that's true with everybody. That variance is also baked into his $5,500 salary, making him the cheapest way to get access to this offense. That's a pretty fine proposition, so Ridley is shaping up to potentially be the most attractive way to tie yourself to this side of the shootout.
At running back, Devonta Freeman has gotten plenty of work through the air this year, netting at least four targets in every game. We desperately want that from a running back. But his role still isn't as great as we'd like.
In the four games in which Ito Smith hasn't gotten hurt, Freeman's maximum snap rate is 62.5%. Smith's snap rate hit a new season-high last week, potentially because of the grotesquely negative script, but it could also be due to ineffectiveness by Freeman. His 22.4% Rushing Success Rate (the percentage of rushes that increase the team's expected points for the drive) ranks dead last among running backs with at least 50 carries, and nobody else is lower than 32.1%. Can you blame the Falcons for shoveling a few more looks Smith's direction?
There is a path to a good game for Freeman because the Cardinals are so atrocious and the Falcons figure to light up the scoreboard. But the same is true for other pieces in the offense, and three of them (Jones, Hooper, and Ridley) likely have higher ceilings without costing you a valuable running back slot on your roster. It's fine to use Freeman when stacking this game, but even in an ideal script, he's far from being someone we need to prioritize.
Todd Gurley's Quarrelsome Quad
Last week, Todd Gurley played a season-high 93.1% of the snaps, and he finished with 15 carries and 5 targets. That was a legit workload, and it was the best we could have potentially felt about Gurley all year. But -- as you know -- happiness is a fallacy, and the darkness will consume us all.
Rams RB Todd Gurley was a DNP today with a quad injury.
— Steve Wyche (@wyche89) October 9, 2019
Gurley wound up missing practice on Thursday, too, putting his status very much up in the air for Sunday. Sweet! Fun! Neat!
This is likely enough for us to avoid Gurley in what would have been a tough matchup with the San Francisco 49ers' stout defensive line. But if Gurley winds up sitting, we have to give long thought to Malcolm Brown.
As with Edmonds, we know that Brown is the next man up should the primary back miss time. Brown has played at least 24% of the snaps in each game except Week 5, and he was the back they put in bubblewrap alongside Gurley in the preseason. We know Brown is going to play a bunch of snaps if Gurley sits, making him similar to Edmonds in that sense.
The difference between the two is that Brown may not be guaranteed passing-down work, and that matters quite a bit.
On the season, Brown has just three targets (again, Edmonds had four last week alone). The Rams' offense, in general, just hasn't pumped volume to the running backs with only 11.3% of their targets going to backs for the full season. And with guys like Cooper Kupp, who can blame them?
Brown has, at least, been running some routes and lining up outside of the backfield. He has averaged nine pass routes per game, according to Pro Football Focus, and he has lined up either in the slot or outside 11 times. That means targets would likely come if he were to play the full game. They just aren't as big of a lock as they are with Edmonds.
The targets here are especially key, too, because of the matchup. It seems unlikely that the Rams will be able to generate a push on the ground, given the 49ers' defensive line and the struggles the Rams' guards have had this year. If Brown weren't getting work as a receiver, he'd likely provide a lot of hollow volume, and we're not looking for that, no matter what the salary may be.
Because we don't know what Brown's passing-game work will look like, we do need to view him as being an inferior value to Edmonds (assuming both Johnson and Gurley sit). With that said, passing-down work is still within his range of outcomes, and if he gets that, he'll be almost a lock to pay off at $4,800, no matter what the matchup may be.
So keep an eye on Gurley's status this weekend. If he can go, we can potentially just avoid this Rams backfield as a whole. But if Gurley sits, we can definitely get a bunch of exposure to Brown, as long as we're not quite as high on him as we are on Edmonds.
The Chiefs' Depleted Offense
No practice again today for Sammy Watkins. Also Chris Jones, Eric Fisher, Andrew Wylie among others
— Adam Teicher (@adamteicher) October 10, 2019
Additionally, Tyreek Hill is practicing, but there's no word yet on whether he's been cleared for contact. There's a legit chance the Chiefs face the Houston Texans without their top two receivers, their left tackle, and their left guard.
This would be fairly damning for pretty much any team in the league, but the Chiefs are a different breed. Mahomes struggled on Sunday night against the Indianapolis Colts, and we definitely need to downgrade him if all those players wind up missing. But do we need to avoid him entirely?
Mahomes is $9,200, and no other quarterback on the slate is more expensive than $8,400. Matchups don't matter much for Mahomes, but the Texans do rank 12th against the pass, based on numberFire's metrics. As scary as it may be, this might be a decent week to look elsewhere at quarterback, unless one of Hill or Sammy Watkins can find a way to suit up on Sunday.
That's not to say we have to avoid the Chiefs entirely, though. The losses of Watkins and Hill would open up volume in this offense, and we care less about efficiency for skill-position players than quarterbacks.
That's where Travis Kelce enters the discussion at $7,500. Kelce has 22.5% of the team's targets this year, and 16 of his targets have been at least 16 yards downfield. When those deep throws are coming via Mahomes, that means even a bit more.
Touchdowns have been sparse for Kelce this year, but that has allowed us to overlook the absurd yardage totals he's posting. He has had at least 70 yards in each game, and he has topped 85 yards in all but one. Kelce's in play no matter who suits up for the Chiefs, and we should expect touchdown regression to hit for him soon.
The receivers are a bit tougher to diagnose, especially with Hill and Watkins up in the air. We do have last week's game as a bit of a blueprint, though, with Watkins leaving that one early. Here's how the targets and snaps were divided among the healthy players there.
|In Week 5||Snap Rate||Overall Targets||Deep Targets||RZ Targets|
Robinson's snap rate has consistently been high since Hill's injury, and he may slide over into the Watkins role if Hill does return. His market share from Week 2 on is 16.3%, which isn't huge, but it helps when those targets are coming from Mahomes. Among the receivers, his role seems the sturdiest.
Pringle came out of nowhere last week after logging no more than 5.3% of the snaps in any of the first four games. But he made good use of the snaps he saw, getting both a decent number of overall looks and high-leverage targets. We'd certainly be taking a risk on him at $4,500, but as long as both Hill and Watkins sit, it's not a terrible idea to include him in game stacks.
The interesting name on that table above is Damien Williams. He returned from a knee injury last week, and his nine carries and four targets won't knock your socks off. But there's enough under the hood to get us to buy in at $6,600.
Because of the game script, they had just 14 total rush attempts in the game, and Williams' nine were the only ones by a true running back. LeSean McCoy was held to a 22.2% snap rate because of issues in pass protection, and if Eric Fisher is out again, it seems unlikely they'd put someone they don't trust in that department out on the field. That bodes well for Williams as he gets another week removed from his injury.
The other fun aspect of Williams is the way the Chiefs use their running backs in the passing game. Williams has 15 targets in the three games he has played, and three of those targets have been deep looks. Running backs don't typically get that type of usage, and it gives targets for Williams more weight than they'd carry in most other offenses.
Williams isn't a cash-game play at $6,600, and we shouldn't need to go there, anyway, with Bell and potentially Edmonds and Brown available as cheaper options. But for tournaments, Williams has the upside we want, and he gives us cheap access to a potentially fun game. That should be enough to justify throwing him into a good number of lineups.
Overall, we do need to downgrade Mahomes and our expectations of the Chiefs if all the injured guys wind up sitting. But it would also open up volume elsewhere, and the salaries on those players are low enough for us to still be jazzed even with a potentially hobbled offense.
Assessing the Texans' Receivers
Sticking with that game, we've got to decide how to handle Will Fuller and DeAndre Hopkins. Fuller blew the lid off the slate last week, but Hopkins has been among the best receiving options in the NFL for a long time now. So, whom should we favor here?
If you're multi-entering for tournaments, the obvious answer is getting shares of both. But let's pretend for a second that you've got just one tournament lineup. Then it's a tougher discussion.
Both Hopkins and Fuller have been healthy all season long, meaning we can take a zoomed-out look at their usages in 2019. Here's how those targets have been divvied through the first five weeks.
|In 2019||Overall Targets||Deep Targets||RZ Targets|
Nobody else has more than 9.8% of the targets this year, meaning it really has been a two-man show. That could change if Kenny Stills gets back after missing last week to a hamstring injury, but even in the three full games he played, his target share was at 13.8%.
With that said, it may not be a coincidence that Fuller's huge game happened in the one full game Stills missed. In other words, if Stills were to return, it could put a dent in Fuller's deep target share, which is a fairly marketable asset within his profile.
That -- and Hopkins' strong overall usage -- is enough to push us toward paying up for Hopkins when we can at $8,400. He's still getting the targets, and he had 111 yards and 2 touchdowns back in Week 1. It's also not as if Hopkins busted last week as he still turned his 8 targets into 88 yards; he just didn't find the end zone. Between the two, Hopkins is very much the safer asset.
The return of Stills should not, however, push us completely off of Fuller. His market share numbers above are strong, especially for a player who is $6,600 in a potentially pass-heavy script. He'll also have a massive speed advantage over the Chiefs' cornerbacks, and we saw two other speedsters in D.J. Chark and Chris Conley shred the Chiefs' secondary back in Week 1. From a pure matchup perspective, Fuller is going to be the one with the biggest advantage.
This means you need to apply your own individual process to this situation. If you want to avoid the chalk, Fuller's probably a fade this week as DFS players tend to point-chase aggressively. But if you want to go with the better straight-up process play independent of ownership, Fuller has the edge due to his salary and speed advantage. It's a bit of a cop-out to say, "Decide for yourself," but not everyone plays the same way, and your individual process should determine how you handle the two. Regardless, both are fine options, and you'll want to give this one some thought before lock on Sunday.
A Coaching Change in Washington
Jay Gruden is a free man. No longer is he tied to one of the most hideous franchises in all of the sporting world; he is now allowed to walk the Earth, rid of the stench that is Washington's allegedly professional football franchise.
With Gruden out, in comes Bill Callahan as interim head coach. And Callahan made his intentions for the offense clear right from the jump. They're gonna pound that rock, baby.
So Bill Callahan takes over as interim head coach of the Skins. A source told me that Callahan felt the team needed to run the ball more this season & told some players last week he was hard-pressed to remember a time when he coached on a team w/ so few rush attempts to start.
— ig: josinaanderson (@JosinaAnderson) October 7, 2019
Normally, we could write this off as it being a coach who wants to run before the game inevitably gets out of hand, forcing them to go back to the aerial attack. But Washington is facing the Miami Dolphins here, and that changes the equation a bit.
The Dolphins are hot garbage in every aspect of the game, and that's true against the rush, as well. They've allowed the fourth-highest Rushing Success Rate to opposing backs this year, according to numberFire's Brandon Gdula, and their games lend themselves to lots of rushing volume. So Callahan's approach may actually work out, at least this week.
That's where Adrian Peterson enters the fold. Peterson's snap rate hasn't gotten higher than 46.8% this year, but Callahan stressed that Peterson needs to be more involved going forward. So, at $5,300, what does this mean for us in DFS with regards to Peterson?
If we get both Edmonds and Brown as value plays, Peterson will grade out as being well below both of them. He's not going to be a bellcow in his offense as Chris Thompson would seemingly still get passing-down work, and his offense isn't as dynamic as either the Rams' or even the Cardinals'. Those two would be full tiers ahead of Peterson in the value discussion if both were their teams' starters.
The lack of passing-down work means that Peterson needs to absolutely blow up on the ground to make you regret not using him. Even if he scores two touchdowns, he'd still need 50 rushing yards to hit 17 FanDuel points, a mark David Johnson has surpassed the past two weeks without scoring in either game. We talk about how targets boost a running back's floor, but they're a key for a ceiling game, as well.
In last year's perfect lineups, only one running back made the cut without the benefit of a catch. That was Adrian Peterson in Week 3 when he popped off for 120 yards and 2 touchdowns. Could Peterson hit that again this week? Sure! It's the Dolphins, after all. But that's the sort of day you need in order for Peterson to pay off without getting work as a receiver.
There is a very narrow set of circumstances in which Peterson is a good play in DFS. This game against Miami happens to fit within those parameters, so you can certainly give Peterson a look. But we need to view him well below Edmonds and Brown if they start, and we should be careful not to have too much exposure in case things go awry.
The big loser in this situation is Terry McLaurin. McLaurin has already proven himself to be a legit threat, but his big games came when Washington was chucking it 40 times a game the first three weeks. That seems pretty unlikely now.
In McLaurin's four healthy games, he has 20.8% of Washington's targets. He has gotten almost all of the high-leverage work, which is what we want, but the overall volume here could be pretty disappointing. McLaurin has a path to a big day if Washington falls behind, but we do need to downgrade him here given the new offensive philosophy.
Josh Rosen's Time to Shine
We may not get many chances to dabble in the Dolphins this year, but Washington ranks 28th against the pass, according to numberFire's metrics, the Dolphins are at home, and they're coming off a bye. Let's make some bad decisions.
The positive with the Dolphins (yes, those exist!) is that we have an idea of what the gameplan will look like with Josh Rosen at quarterback. And that gameplan involves a whole lotta Preston Williams. Here's the target distribution in the two games Rosen has started.
|With Rosen as Starter||Overall Targets||Deep Targets||RZ Targets|
We're dealing with small samples as the Dolphins haven't exactly taken up residence in the red zone this year. But Williams is getting a lot of overall volume, and he's getting almost all of the high-leverage looks.
Williams and McLaurin actually have some similarities. Both have quarterbacks willing to throw it deep, and both have flashed some legit talent. But Williams is $5,600 whereas McLaurin is $6,400, and Williams' team hasn't stated its need to establish the run. That makes Williams a decently attractive tournament target at his salary.
One thing to note here is that wind speeds are projected at 14 miles per hour, and if they were to stay that high, it would necessitate a slight downgrade to both Williams and McLaurin. But if that can inch back down to around 10 miles per hour, we can certainly give them a look.
The other guy who should pop on that table above is Kenyan Drake. Drake is only $300 more than Peterson and is a lock to get more passing-game work, averaging 5.5 targets per game in the two contests Rosen has started. He hasn't scored a touchdown yet because the Dolphins' offense is atrocious, but this is likely to be the best spot they'll have all year. So if you want a running back in this game, it's not crazy to think that Drake is the preferred target over Peterson with the way he gets his touches.
Cleveland's Offensive Woes
There is no doubt that Baker Mayfield and Freddie Kitchens are struggling in their first full year in command of the Cleveland Browns' ship. Mayfield ranks 33rd in Passing NEP per drop back out of 37 quarterbacks with at least 50 drop backs, besting Ben Roethlisberger, two Dolphins, and the aforementioned Falk. It has been a hot mess.
That's not to say we should expect this to be the new norm for Cleveland, though. They have major issues they need to work out, and some of those issues won't resolve themselves quickly. But even between struggles this year, the team has still been able to hit highs.
Mayfield has finished three games this season with a negative Passing NEP mark. But the week after that, he was able to bounce back with at least 300 passing yards and a better-than-average Passing NEP per drop back mark each time. One of those was on the road against the Baltimore Ravens after Mayfield looked lost just a few days earlier against the Rams.
This does not mean Mayfield will have another bounceback this week. Patterns like this are super fluky, and buying into the "even-week narrative" would end in destruction. But it does show that even with the struggles the Browns have had, they've still been able to hit highs at times. They're a volatile team, and we should start treating them as such.
That's a long way of saying we shouldn't write the Browns off in DFS. We do need to lower expectations because their lows are abysmal, and that matters. Additionally, they're on short rest while the opposing Seattle Seahawks played last Thursday, and the wind could be an issue (currently projected at 16 miles per hour). But for tournaments, it's not a terrible idea to give these guys a sniff.
The Seahawks' defense enters the week ranked 23rd against the pass, which is actually the second-best matchup the Browns have had all year. The best one was the Ravens, and we saw what Nick Chubb and company did there.
Chubb has had workhorse-esque usage for a while now and ranks sixth on the slate in adjusted opportunities (carries plus two-times the back's target total) per game over the past three weeks. That's despite getting just one target in last week's blowout to the 49ers. Chubb's not cheap at $7,800, but we should keep him in mind in tournaments.
|In 2019||Overall Targets||Deep Targets||RZ Targets|
Keep an eye on the wind. If it does settle down a bit and get closer to 10 miles per hour, we can give either of those guys a run.
As for Mayfield, he is yet to have more than 16.78 FanDuel points this year and is coming off a game in which he scored the exact same number of points as you. There's a chance he could put up a similar dud again this week. But his touchdown rate is also just 2.5%, less than half his 5.6% mark last year, meaning he's due for some regression in that column. We probably shouldn't go near this team in cash games, and we need to be cautious in tournaments, too, but we should look to take advantage of their volatility when others are writing them off completely.