Daily Fantasy Football: Sannes' Situations to Monitor in Week 7
Back when Adam Gase had his introductory press conference as head coach of the New York Jets, we all clowned him for looking bug-eyed and wild up on the podium. And memes are fun, so it's cool to get your jokes off.
But I gotta admit... I had a full-blown case of Gase face when I looked at the injury report for Week 7.
We've officially hit the point in the season where if you're practicing on Wednesday, you're probably the lone ranger patrolling the field by yourself. Everybody's got dings and dents, and it means we've got to be on our toes in daily fantasy. Every injury impacts a team's situation and context, and failing to account for that will have us overlooking great spots and getting overconfident in sure-fire traps.
But on the flip side, we're also deep enough into the year where guys who were previously injured are now returning to the lineup. That also requires a reevaluation of the team as they'll likely impact the efficiency of the offense and the market shares of those around them.
We get a situation like that this week with the New York Giants, and it could not come at a better time. They're facing the Arizona Cardinals in what appears to be one of the two best games on the main slate. This means we've got to check out the Giants in their current state and figure out how we'll handle them.
Let's start there and begin things on a happy note. Then it'll take a sharp turn to darkness as we discuss some injuries on the negative side of the spectrum. Which situations are impacting the main slate, and how should we account for them when filling out DFS lineups? Let's check it out.
The Giants' Return From the Grave
We haven't seen the Giants at full-health for all of 2019. Golden Tate missed the first four games to suspension, Evan Engram and Sterling Shepard both sat out Week 6 (and Shepard missed Week 2, as well), and Saquon Barkley hasn't seen the field since Daniel Jones made his debut in Week 3. Trying to predict this offense has been aiming at a moving target each week.
We might be the closest to a full complement of characters we've had all year.
Barkley, Engram practicing fully for Giants https://t.co/gpOHRq5XSK
— Rotoworld Football (@Rotoworld_FB) October 16, 2019
Both Barkley and Engram practiced in full Wednesday, meaning it's pretty much a lock that they'll be ready to rumble on Sunday. Shepard was limited in practice and is still in concussion protocol, and it seems like he is on the wrong side of questionable. But even getting Barkley and Engram back would be a major upgrade for an offense in need of it.
We like to joke about running backs not mattering, and it's true a large chunk of the time, but whew, boy, did the Giants struggle without Barkley. Here are his advanced numbers this year compared to other backs on the Giants' roster. "Rushing NEP per carry" is the number of Net Expected Points added on a per-carry basis this year, and Success Rate is the percentage of carries that increase the team's expected points for the drive.
|In 2019||Yards Per Carry||Rushing NEP Per Carry||Success Rate|
|Other Giants RBs||3.44||-0.21||38.2%|
A rush by Barkley has been worth as many expected points as a drop back by Tom Brady this year. A rush by the other Giants running backs is equivalent to a drop back by Ryan Fitzpatrick. Those numbers would likely drift closer to league average over a larger sample, but it's fair to say that getting Barkley back legitimately is a lift for the offense.
As far as Barkley himself, his practice habits should give us a good amount of confidence in using him this week. Prior to sitting last week against New England, Barkley was able to get in limited practices all three days, and he followed that up with full practices this week. We can basically assume he's back to full health and sliding back into his old role. In this spot, he's arguably the best running back play on the slate at $8,600 on FanDuel.
The other passing-game options are a bit tougher to dissect. If Shepard were to play, he'd likely see quite a bit of coverage from Patrick Peterson, and that would make Shepard risky. So he's a tough sell whether he plays or not.
Let's assume for a second that Shepard does wind up sitting. That means we'd have one higher-end receiver (Tate this time) paired with Engram in a plus matchup. That's similar to the scenarios we had in Jones' first starts in Weeks 3 and 4, meaning we can at least get a guesstimate on what to expect by looking at those two games.
Here's how the targets were divvied up between those two contests with a "deep" target being any target at least 16 yards downfield.
|Weeks 3 and 4||Overall Targets||Deep Targets||RZ Targets|
Jones has been fully willing to throw to backs, whether it has been Barkley or Wayne Gallman, so that should further bolster our interest in Barkley.
Engram didn't get a deep look in those two games, and he had just one in Week 5, but that could very easily have been just variance. Especially with Shepard potentially out, we should be super into Engram, even though he'll be abundantly popular due to the matchup.
Tate is unlikely to get the same usage as Shepard. Shepard is a young, talented player, and Tate is coming off a suspension. So we shouldn't be expecting him to hop right into Shepard's role.
But he really doesn't have to. Tate is $6,100 in a favorable matchup and game environment, and his offense is good enough to give him some touchdown juice, as well. We need to downgrade the matchup a bit with Peterson back, but that should be a bigger issue for Darius Slayton than it is Tate, again assuming that Shepard is out.
We should rank Tate a couple tiers lower than Barkley and Engram because they are more assured to get heavy volume, and we know they both have gobs of talent. But if you want to get some decently cheap exposure to this offense, Tate's not a bad route at $6,100.
Uncertainty Around Christian Kirk
The other side of this game is pretty tasty, too. The Giants have numberFire's 21st-ranked schedule-adjusted defense, and the Cardinals' offense has been clicking of late. We just don't know yet which pieces within that offense will be at our disposal.
Christian Kirk has missed the past two games for Arizona, and he's still limited in practice this week. Head coach Kliff Kingsbury has said that Kirk won't play until he's back to full strength, and he was able to practice last week, as well. So the "limited" tag here is not as promising as it usually would be.
With how good Kirk's usage was before his injury, we would want to buy into him if he were to play. It would eliminate any secondary assets here and whittle the tree down to Kirk, David Johnson, and Larry Fitzgerald.
But the more likely scenario -- based on what Kingsbury said earlier in the week -- seems to be that Kirk sits, so let's figure out what we should do in that situation.
We've got a two-game sample on this offense with Kirk on the sidelines, and the passing efficiency has still been really solid. That means we should happily dabble in Kyler Murray again. He has 22 rush attempts the past two weeks, giving him a top-end floor-ceiling combination, and he's one of the better quarterback options available. Daniel Jones has rushing upside, as well, and is certainly in play, but Murray shapes up as the better target between the two within this game.
As far as with whom we should stack Murray or prioritize as a stand-alone play, here's where the targets have gone in Kirk's absence.
|Past 2 Games||Overall Targets||Deep Targets||RZ Targets|
For a running back, Johnson's usage is a fever dream. Assuming the ankle issue that held him to being limited in practice Thursday is merely load management, he's one of the top running back plays on the board.
Those two factors are why Johnson should be our top stacking partner with Murray. The productivity has been there for Johnson, and he's getting high-leverage volume. Fitzgerald is still in play at $5,600 because he's still getting looks, but we should treat him as being a secondary option behind Johnson.
The other Johnson -- KeeSean Johnson -- would be the one other guy we could consider here if Kirk were to sit. He's still only $4,600, and he's getting involved of late. As you can see, he hasn't gotten many deep looks with Kirk out, but he was the target on three deeper throws the first two games. That means there's some upside there. We should keep expectations in check because he's not some young burner, but with his snap rate and salary, it's not a terrible idea to give him a look in tournaments.
The Rams' Rebuilt Secondary
In Week 5, Marcus Peters, Aqib Talib, and John Johnson all played at least 89% of the Los Angeles Rams' snaps on defense. Two weeks later, they will combine to play exactly zero with all three either on injured reserve or on the Baltimore Ravens. But they did add a new toy to the collection to help patch things up a bit.
Can’t spell Ramsey without Rams.
Let’s get to work, @jalenramsey‼️
— Los Angeles Rams (@RamsNFL) October 15, 2019
It seems like Jalen Ramsey is on track to suit up this week and make his Rams debut, which means we've got a whole brand spankin' new secondary. What does this do to the Atlanta Falcons from a DFS perspective?
It definitely shouldn't push us off of them. Ramsey will help numb the loss of Talib, and he'll definitely make life a lot more difficult for Julio Jones on Sunday. But there are still big holes in the secondary.
Johnson being out should open up some space for Austin Hooper, who has already been a monster thus far in 2019. He has 20.2% of the targets in a high-volume passing offense that has an efficient quarterback slinging the rock. Hooper's close to Engram in salary at $6,600, but we shouldn't overlook him here.
This also sets up well for Calvin Ridley. If Jones has to contend with Ramsey while Nickell Robey-Coleman locks up Mohamed Sanu, Ridley's the one who will likely be in the best spot to feast. His workload is volatile, but he has multiple deep targets in every game except for one, so Ridley's upside at $5,500 is something we should covet in such an explosive game.
Because the Falcons have so many ways they can beat you, Matt Ryan should still be able to move the ball well enough to be in play at $7,900. We should likely be more interested in the guy on the other side of this game -- more on him in a second -- but Ryan has at least 300 passing yards in every game this year and has multiple passing touchdowns in all but one. His floor and ceiling remain elite even in a mid-level matchup.
As for Jones, we don't need to completely avoid him just because he's squaring off with Ramsey. Whether it was due to a back injury or trade demands, Ramsey hasn't played since September 19th, and if he has any difficulty in shaking off that rust or transitioning into a new defense, Jones could light him up. We should rank Jones lower than Hooper and Ridley on our priority list, but he's still someone we'll want to get exposure to in tournaments.
Potential Clarity in the Rams' Backfield
If we had entered Week 7 with the same Rams backfield we had last week, it would have been a nightmare. Malcolm Brown played the most snaps but struggled while Darrell Henderson flashed a bit and got more work in the passing game. It would have been frightening to diagnose. Thankfully, it looks like Todd Gurley is going to save us from that treachery.
#Rams coach Sean McVay on Todd Gurley: “He’s going to participate in a limited fashion. I think he’s on a good pace to hopefully be able to play on Sunday.” https://t.co/MwnK1ts1qo
— D. Orlando Ledbetter (@DOrlandoAJC) October 17, 2019
At this point, we can assume Gurley's going to lace 'em up on Sunday. We just have to figure out how heavy his workload will be.
In that Week 5 game against the Seattle Seahawks, Gurley played a season-high 93.1% of the snaps; he had never topped 76% prior to that game. He had five targets there, upping his target share to 13.7% in the previous two games. He had just seven total targets the first three games combined. If Gurley had escaped that game healthy, we likely would have been the highest we've been on him all season.
Then the quad injury happened. There's a very real scenario in which that injury scares the Rams out of pushing Gurley's workload back as high as it was in Week 5, and Henderson's explosiveness in Week 6 certainly doesn't nudge those odds in the right direction.
It means our baseline expectation for Gurley should likely be a reversion back to the role he played the first four weeks, though even that was variable. But he played about 75% of the snaps, logged roughly 15 carries per game, and would get a couple of targets per game. In a lot of matchups, we'd be able to ignore that.
But the Falcons are so bad that we can't just write Gurley off. He'll carry touchdown equity in the offense, and he was running enough routes early on to give us hope at an expanded role in the passing game. At $7,100, he's not a priority on the main slate, but he is someone we can filter in, especially when stacking this game.
With Gurley, we have a bit of a guessing game going on. That's not really the case with the receivers, which may wind up making them the more palatable ways to get exposure to this offense.
Here's a look at the target shares for the Rams' receivers so far this year. Because Brandin Cooks left Week 5 early due to a concussion, that game has been excluded from the totals.
|Outside of Week 5||Overall Targets||Deep Targets||RZ Targets|
Clearly, Cooper Kupp stands above the rest here. He gets tons of overall targets, and he's the go-to guy close to the end zone. At $7,800, it's hard to find reasons not to dig Kupp.
But this could be a really solid game for Cooks. His overall market-share numbers aren't great this year, but he's getting the large majority of the deep looks. The one problem is that Jared Goff hasn't been all that aggressive this year, throwing deep just 13.4% of the time, down from 19.9% last year. But some of that could be due to the opponents they've faced.
Through six games, the Rams have already faced four opponents in the top nine in Football Outsiders' adjusted sack rate. The Rams still have the sixth-best sack rate on offense, meaning Goff has done a nice job of side-stepping that pressure, but he has had to make some adjustments to do so.
Goff's average time to throw is down to 2.78 seconds, according to NFL's Next-Gen Stats. It was 2.95 last year and 2.93 in 2017, and when you can't hang onto the ball as long, it makes sense you'd have to settle for shorter throws more often.
The Falcons, though, rank dead last in adjusted sack rate. They're not getting after anybody. Goff may finally get to sit in a clean pocket and let 'er rip, and nobody would benefit more from that than Cooks.
Opposing quarterbacks have a 65.4% Passing Success Rate on deep throws against the Falcons this year, and they average 1.55 Passing NEP per attempt. The league-average marks in those categories last year were 42.2% and 0.49, respectively. If Cooks is ever going to blow up, this is the weekend for it to happen.
Cooks is $6,700, which is a major discount from Kupp, but it also comes with a drop in floor. As such, if you can get up to Kupp, you should try to do so. But with all the tasty high-salaried running backs on this slate, those savings are pretty attractive, making Cooks a top-end tournament play and an ideal stacking partner with Goff.
As for Robert Woods, he doesn't get the same number of deep targets as Cooks nor the red-zone targets of Kupp, meaning he doesn't fit easily into a certain box. But he's still an involved member of the offense, and that's basically all you need to be viable against the Falcons' defense in its current state. So Woods is another very solid option within this offense, but we'll likely want to put him below both Cooks and Kupp in the pecking order.
The Jaguars' Defense Without Ramsey
The other side of the Ramsey trade is that the Jacksonville Jaguars' defense will now have to play without him for the rest of the year. We've already got a sample on what they look like without Ramsey, and it's a pretty definitive downgrade.
Ramsey played the first three games this year before missing the following three due to
trade demands a back injury. In those first three games, opposing quarterbacks had a 43.1% Passing Success Rate; in the three games Ramsey missed, that number shot up to 51.8%.
That looks bad enough as it is, but additional context just makes Ramsey look even more valuable. The quarterbacks the Jaguars faced in the first three games (where the numbers lagged) were Patrick Mahomes, Deshaun Watson, and Marcus Mariota. The other three were Joe Flacco, Kyle Allen, and Teddy Bridgewater. Jalen Ramsey just might be good at football.
This might not be enough for us to get into Andy Dalton. Dalton's fighting for his life behind a duct-taped offensive line, and the Jaguars can force you to take up permanent residence on your backside. But it means we can definitely slobber over Tyler Boyd.
Boyd is coming off of a game in which he turned seven targets into 10 yards, which is slightly suboptimal. But that down game earned him a salary discount of $800, all the way down to $5,600. This makes him even $300 cheaper than his teammate, Auden Tate.
|Past 2 Games||Overall Targets||Deep Targets||RZ Targets|
There's definitely a bit of a small-sample vibe to the high-leverage target numbers, but getting a dude with a 28.0% market share for $5,600 is hard to pass up. The Jaguars have talent defensively still, but Boyd's a pretty baller play at $5,600. He's someone we should use as a standalone play or potentially in game stacks. Speaking of which...
The Jaguars' Miserable Schedule
Personally, I've had a hard time buying into Minshew Mania so far this year. Even though Gardner Minshew has consistently scored pretty well for fantasy, he hasn't had many games that set up to be high-scoring affairs, and he hasn't had many favorable opposing defenses. As such, when he got his weekly 16 points, he was not doing so on my rosters.
That's going to change this weekend.
The reasoning here is twofold. First, the Jaguars are facing the Bengals, who rank fourth in Football Outsiders' situation-neutral pace. It's a pace-up spot, and we should seek that out for offenses in DFS.
Second, this will easily be the best matchup the Jaguars have had since Minshew became the starter. In order, Minshew's five starts have come against the defenses ranked 11th, 7th, 13th, 4th, and 14th against the pass, according to numberFire's schedule-adjusted metrics. The Bengals are all the way down in 27th, a full 13 spots worse than the best matchup Minshew has had all year.
Even with the tough matchups, Minshew has put up at least respectable efficiency metrics, ranking 23rd in Passing NEP per drop back out of 38 quarterbacks with at least 50 drop backs. He hasn't lit the world on fire, but you wouldn't expect to with the road he has faced.
Minshew is only $6,900 on FanDuel. If we want to jam in expensive running backs, we've got to find some savings somewhere. He and Daniel Jones at $7,200 make that very possible without putting a big dent in your team's upside.
Starting with Fournette, he's up there with Barkley and Johnson as one of the top backs on the slate. Over the past three weeks, he has averaged 34.7 adjusted opportunities (carries plus two-times the player's target total to account for the discrepancy in value between a target and a carry for a running back on a half-PPR site) per game. That's the most among players on the main slate by a wide margin. Fournette also leads in this category for the full season. Basically, what we're saying is that he has the best workload of any running back outside of Christian McCaffrey, and he's in a good matchup. You're going to want a lot of Fournette this week.
As for Chark, he has gone nuts this year despite all those tough matchups. He has 22.3% of the team's targets for the full season to go with 40.6% of the deep targets and 25.0% of the red-zone looks. He has over-performed in the touchdown department, so regression will hit eventually, but that's not a major concern. We're paying $6,600 for a guy who is getting tons of high-leverage looks and now finally gets a soft matchup. We should favor Fournette over Chark because running-back volume is so predictable, but Chark is another rock-solid wide-receiver play in the mid-$6,000s.
Uncertainty Around Alvin Kamara
Alvin Kamara is reportedly dealing with a high-ankle injury, which sounds fairly ominous. He has said he's going to play this week, but he has missed practice the first two days, and the team signed Zach Zenner, so most of the tell-tale signs are pointing to Kamara sitting.
If Kamara does play, we can safely avoid him. This game sucks, even with Mitchell Trubisky back in the saddle for the Chicago Bears, and Kamara's snap rate fell to 59.1% last week while dealing with the issue. That would make things pretty cut and dry here.
The harder situation is what we do with Latavius Murray if Kamara sits. So let's think on that quickly now.
In addition to Murray and Zenner, the Saints do have Dwayne Washington on the 53-man roster, though Washington is yet to play a snap on offense this year. He has been an involved special-teamer, and Zenner is also known for his exploits there, meaning the Zenner signing could free up Washington to play more offense. But either way, it seems clear that Murray would not be the only option offensively if Kamara can't go.
Murray would get the early-down work, and we can say that with pretty extreme confidence. But even with Akiem Hicks out, it's hard to care too much about that. Malcolm Brown showed last week the pitfalls of running backs who don't get work in the passing game, and if Murray doesn't get volume there, it would make him hard to swallow.
The difference between Murray and Brown is that Murray actually has been active in the passing game at times this year. He has 10 targets for the full season and has run 13 routes each of the past two weeks, according to Pro Football Focus. He finished with three targets in that game. So it seems pretty clear that Murray can get work there; it's just a question of whether he will, assuming Washington or Zenner get worked in more.
Murray is $5,300, and there's no obvious answer for how to handle him. If Kamara sits, he'll get good volume, and that matters. But this is an unappealing game with two really solid defenses, and it's unlikely to shoot out. Murray also prevents us from using a slot on someone like Barkley, Johnson, or Fournette, and that matters.
Because of the slight concerns around Murray's passing-game work, he wouldn't be someone we would necessarily need to use in cash games. But if he were to play roughly 70% of the snaps and get 15 carries and 5 targets, it wouldn't be all that hard for him to pay off his salary at $5,300.
That's why Murray would be on the board for tournaments, even with the question marks around his usage and the game. We could make him a secondary core play, putting our exposure to him below the true top-end backs in great games but above purely rotational plays. You can avoid Murray if you want, but if Kamara can't play, there's enough juice here where the best move seems to be making sure you have enough Murray to benefit if he blows up.
Aaron Rodgers All By Himself
Aaron Rodgers has had some rough luck this year. For the first six weeks, he has faced three defenses ranked in the top eight against the pass and four defenses in the top 13. Once you adjust for schedule, the Green Bay Packers' passing offense ranks 10th in the league, which isn't all that bad. And they were finally primed for a breakout Sunday, going up against the 24th-ranked Oakland Raiders.
Then all their receivers got Thanos'd.
#Packers practice: Eight players missing - Adams, MVS, Allison, Graham and Tonyan on offense; Tramon Williams, Clark and Savage on defense. Not sure what’s up with Tramon and Clark.
— Tom Silverstein (@TomSilverstein) October 17, 2019
There's a chance the Packers are without their top three receivers on Sunday. Marquez Valdes-Scantling was able to finish out Week 6 despite suffering an ankle injury, so it seems like he should have a shot to suit up, but Davante Adams and Geronimo Allison seem like long shots to play.
Those injuries should likely be enough to push us off of Rodgers in DFS, unless two of the pass-catchers are able to make miraculous recoveries. This is a bummer given that he's $7,600, but it's hard to put up huge numbers when you're throwing to a bunch of UDFAs.
Those UDFAs themselves, though, are potential values for the main slate.
When Valdes-Scantling was hobbling through the fourth quarter, he was playing alongside Jake Kumerow and Allen Lazard. Prior to that, Lazard hadn't been on the field. But after Darrius Shepherd dropped a ball, leading to an interception, Rodgers requested that Lazard get some run, according to Rob Demovsky of ESPN. And get some run he did.
On just 17 snaps, Lazard had five targets, two of which were downfield, and he turned one into a nice touchdown grab. Those five targets are the same number Kumerow has the past two games combined despite 113 snaps.
Lazard's production in that audition is why we should favor him over Kumerow when looking for a value option within this offense. Kumerow has performed well in the preseason in the past, and Rodgers has also advocated for him previously, so it wouldn't be a terrible idea to use Kumerow; he's just not quite as enticing as the 6'3", 225-pound Lazard.
If Valdes-Scantling is able to get in a full practice Friday, then he would be interesting at $6,300, as well. He has disappointed in two games without Adams, but he left with an ankle injury in one of them. Valdes-Scantling has 31.7% of the Packers' deep targets this year, so if he's able to start and seems in line for a full complement of snaps, we should be willing to take a swing at him for $6,300.
Tanny Time in Tennessee
Normally, a quarterback switch is noteworthy because it means we can expect the offense to shift drastically one way or another.
We've got a pretty good sample on Tannehill and Mariota for their respective careers, and it's hard to view Tannehill as an upgrade. Here's how the two have graded out across their time in the NFL.
|Career Numbers||Drop Backs||Passing NEP||Passing NEP Per Drop Back|
Even if you adjust for era and look at Tannehill's Passing NEP per drop back since Mariota joined the league in 2015, Tannehill stays stagnant at 0.02. There's a reason the Miami Dolphins are opting to tank rather than continue down that path.
You can't blame the Titans for making this move. Mariota was taking a ton of sacks, and the offense was completely stale. So it's not a bad idea to change things up. But expecting it to move the needle in the right direction would be optimistic at best.
Additionally, Mariota wasn't the main issue with the Titans' passing offense for DFS. The issue was that they had spread-out market shares in a run-first offense. Corey Davis and A.J. Brown have combined to have zero games this year with more than six targets. So if you want them to suddenly have fantasy relevancy, you're going to need a philosophy change more than a quarterback change.
It would be great to attack this Los Angeles Chargers defense, which ranks 26th both overall and against the pass this year, according to numberFire's metrics. You could potentially do so by using Derrick Henry at $6,500, but he's game-script dependent and doesn't get work in the passing game, putting a dent in both his floor and ceiling. It may be best to take more of a wait-and-see approach here and react later if Tannehill allows the offense to show any life.
Positive Injury News for the Chargers
Is this, like, allowed? Will the universe actually permit the Chargers to get healthy, or is Philip Rivers flirting with a bout of dysentery on the team's flight? It kinda seems as if the Chargers are suddenly in a much better spot health-wise than they were a few weeks ago.
At various points this season, the Chargers have had to play without Hunter Henry, Mike Williams, Melvin Gordon, and left tackle Russell Okung. They'll still be without center Mike Pouncey, but if Okung is able to go, which seems possible, it'll be the healthiest we've seen this offense all year long.
And it comes at a good time, too. Not only are the Chargers 2-4 on the season, but they're facing a Titans defense that ranks third overall and seventh against the pass. They're going to need all the help they can get.
Henry, Williams, and Gordon are locks to play while Okung isn't, so let's dive in on them and what this offense looks like with a full helping of studs.
We've seen just one game this year in which all of the skill-position guys were healthy, and that was Sunday night against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Clearly, things didn't go to plan there for the Chargers. But here's where the targets went among the main assets in that game.
|In Week 6||Overall Targets||Deep Targets||RZ Targets|
Keenan Allen is going to bounce back eventually. He has had some tough matchups of late, so his dip in production isn't a shock. But he's also $7,500 in a game with a (justifiably) low total, so this might not be the week to chase that rebound.
Williams and Henry are different stories. Williams is just $6,200, and Henry is $5,700. Both of them seem fairly attractive.
Henry is the one we should prefer simply because he is cheap and fills the tight-end position. At that spot, it's hard to turn down a talented player who will get high-leverage volume in a competent offense no matter what the game environment or matchup are. As such, Henry's a cash-game consideration at tight end.
Williams is strictly a tournament play, but he doesn't seem to be a bad one. In two games since coming back from his injury, he has 23 targets, and 8 of those have been at least 16 yards downfield. The dude is getting great overall volume, and a lot of it is of the high-leverage nature. He is five inches taller and 23 pounds heavier than everybody in the Titans' secondary, so the upside is high enough to justify him at $6,200.
Then there's Gordon. He's a tough one to diagnose.
On one hand, he has 10 targets in two games since coming back, and his snap rate increased to 59.7% last week. Those are both good things.
On the other, he's within $1,000 of Chris Carson, David Johnson, and Marlon Mack, all of whom are in better situations than Gordon's. That's not a small gap in salary, but given all the cheap receivers on this slate, you can absolutely find a way to get up to guys like Carson and Johnson if you want.
Gordon's workload is going to spike eventually. If you want to make the assumption that it's this weekend, then you should use Gordon, and there's value in making moves like that to get out ahead of the pack. But there are enough question marks here to make Gordon a low-exposure tournament play, and it wouldn't be a mistake to exclude him from your player pool entirely.
Devin Singletary Back in Buffalo
With the Buffalo Bills being monster favorites of 16.5 points over the Miami Dolphins (and with that number being fully legit), we should want pieces of the Bills' backfield. That's a script that sets up beautifully for some heavy ground and pound the second half.
It's just hard to get jazzed about this backfield now that there are extra mouths available.
Devin Singletary is set to return from a hamstring injury that has held him out since Week 2. The dude was electric when he was on the field, meaning this team will be more fun to watch, but it spreads out the touches quite a bit. Here's how the target and carry totals were divided on a per-game basis the first two weeks of the year.
|First 2 Games||Carries Per Game||Targets Per Game||Adjusted Opportunities Per Game|
Frank Gore never had more than 23 adjusted opportunities in a game with Singletary out, and now he figures to lose at least some volume to the rookie. Even in this script, it's hard to justify Gore at $6,000.
The same is true for Singletary. He's a difference-maker, and against the Dolphins, that means he could pay off on just one touch. But he's also no bargain at $5,800, and his path to a monster game is way tougher than that of running backs who are just a bit more expensive than him (and that path may not even truly exist yet). It's kind of a bummer given the matchup, but this backfield is a no-fly zone in DFS until someone starts to pull away.
You can still get exposure to the Bills, though. Obviously, Josh Allen is in play at $7,700 given his rushing upside. He ran 10 times before the team's bye, meaning that concussion he had in Week 4 isn't going to cut into his easiest path to a big game. Allen doesn't have the same back-and-forth appeal of guys like Murray, Jones, Goff, and Ryan, but we'd be foolish not to have exposure to him when multi-entering for tournaments.
For stacking, the easy answer is John Brown, who has 29.0% of the team's deep targets this year and a higher floor than you'd expect. But Brown has been limited in practice each of the past two days, and his injury history is robust. If he gets in a full practice Friday, then it's full steam ahead, and we'll want to get plenty of him at $5,900. Just keep an eye on reports prior to that.
If Brown can't go or is limited, then Duke Williams hops into the fold at $4,700. He logged a 78.5% snap rate the game before their bye and scored a touchdown on one of his four targets. Robert Foster had to sit out that game due to injury, so Williams is risky enough to avoid if Brown plays. But if Brown can't go, that would likely necessitate Williams' being on the field, putting him on the map.
The final guy worth a look here is the rookie Dawson Knox. You probably know Knox because he once head-butted a guy to Middle Earth.
DAWSON KNOX IS ABOUT THAT ACTION
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) September 22, 2019
Not shockingly, that Adrian Peterson-in-his-prime-esque trucking has earned Knox additional run recently. His snap rate hit a season-high 72.3% in Week 5, and he was tied for the team lead with five total targets. His floor is a goose egg, so keep that in mind, but at $4,800 in this matchup, Knox is far from being an outrageous value play at a hideous position.
Establish the Run Expo in Seattle
Sunday's game between the Seattle Seahawks and Baltimore Ravens is going to be a delight to watch. It's two of the league's most exciting quarterbacks going head-to-head, and neither defense is likely good enough to slow down the opposing side. It has barn-burner potential.
Unless the offensive coordinators have their way.
In daily fantasy, we want lots of play volume, and we want a back-and-forth affair. With a tight spread that has gotten only tighter, we should get the latter. The former is a bigger question mark.
One (fairly rudimentary) way to get a read on a team's philosophy is seeing how often they throw on 1st and 2nd down in the first halves of games. This is before gameflow dictates the script, and it means we're not seeing what they do in desperation mode on third down. The league-average pass rate in these situations is 56%, according to Sharp Football Stats; the Seahawks and Ravens are both at 48%, ranking 30th and 31st in the league, respectively, topping only the Minnesota Vikings. Woof.
Basically, when these two teams have their way, they're going to run the ball until they can't run no more. That's why they both rank outside the top 20 in situation-neutral pace, according to Football Outsiders, and it's a fairly major risk for this game hitting the over.
That's not to say we need to avoid everybody here. Chris Carson has gotten massive volume recently, and Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf could see additional targets with Will Dissly done for the year. But it should make us slightly less ambitious when it comes to game-stacking because there is a path here that ends in complete despair.
Both the quarterbacks are very much options because of the way they score their points. Lamar Jackson has had 14 or more rush attempts in three games this year, and he has had at least eight in all but one. His floor is the best in the game right now. So even at $8,400, we can light him up.
Russell Wilson has been the most efficient quarterback in football so far this year, meaning he doesn't need a ton of volume to pay off. Additionally, if the Ravens get an early lead and force the Seahawks to actually use their talented quarterback, Wilson has blow-up potential. So this isn't a plea for you to avoid this game entirely. It's just a reminder that these two teams want to pound that rock, and that's a pretty easy way to wind up with a disappointing output. Still look at the pieces here, especially Carson and the quarterbacks, but proceed with caution elsewhere.
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Reich
While we're on the subject of running the damn ball, let's talk quickly about the Indianapolis Colts. They also pass at a below-average rate on 1st and 2nd down in the first half despite being pass-heavy in those spots last year. This makes sense with Jacoby Brissett captaining the ship instead of Andrew Luck.
Some of that, though, may be a result of the schedule they've played.
Through their first five games, the Colts have had just one game at home compared to three on the road. For some teams, that doesn't matter all that much. For the Colts, who play on turf beneath a retractable roof, it does.
Last year, Luck averaged 0.35 Passing NEP per drop back at home compared to 0.08 on the road. At home, his efficiency was akin to Drew Brees; on the road, he was more like Eli Manning (who was at 0.10 Passing NEP per drop back in 2018).
Anecdotally, this makes sense. Someone like T.Y. Hilton is going to shred you to pieces when his speed plays up on turf, but on grass, that advantage is less impactful. So these splits aren't a poor reflection on Luck. They're to be expected.
When your expected passing efficiency is lower, and you've got arguably the best offensive line in football at your disposal, it's hard to blame head coach Frank Reich for skewing more toward the run. The efficiency gap between the air and the ground is lower, so it's not poor coaching on his part to lean into the team's strengths.
This week, though, they're at home. So should we expect them to continue to lean on the ground game, or will they open it up a bit more?
So far this year, they've skewed more toward the pass at home than on the road. Here's that split, again via Sharp Football Stats.
|Venue||Early-Down First-Half Pass Rate|
That 58% mark, if it were their full-season number, would rank 12th in the league. So they're not whipping out the air raid, but it's a whole heck of a lot better than ranking 25th based on their road number.
Even that 58% mark, though is a bit misleading. It's important to remember that Hilton missed one of their two home games, and when you're missing a play-maker like that, it would make sense to go a bit more run-heavy. That means our best sample on this Colts team in a situation like they'll have this weekend is what they did in Week 3.
In that game, the Colts threw 66% of the time on early downs in the first half. That would rank second behind the Kansas City Chiefs if it were their full-season mark. Now we're cookin'.
This is a super small sample, and it came against the Falcons, who are dumpster slush against the pass. That certainly matters, and we probably shouldn't expect the Colts to be slinging it quite that often. But they're pretty likely to be more pass-heavy than they've been for the full season, and that matters.
This is a big plus for Hilton. Hilton will get buzz because he has historically taken a flamethrower to the Texans, which is terrible process given how much roster turnover there is across the NFL each year. But Hilton's appeal is far more expansive than just one bad stat.
In the one home game Hilton played this year, he had 10 targets with one deep and three in the red zone. But that wasn't a full game; that was one half. He left due to injury before halftime and never returned. His 65 yards and a touchdown aren't a huge game overall, but in a single half? You'll take that all day.
It's annoying that Hilton's going to get buzz this week based on bad process, but he is objectively a good play. So he's still someone we should target in tournaments this week.
If you want to differentiate a bit with your Hilton lineups, you could pair him with Brissett, who is unlikely to get as much attention. Brissett has topped 20 FanDuel points in both of his home games this year, including one without Hilton, and he has averaged 41.5 attempts per game in those two. He's $7,300, meaning he's a direct pivot off of Daniel Jones, so Brissett is on the tournament radar for sure.
The other ripple effect of the Colts potentially passing more is that it increases the appeal in Deshaun Watson, DeAndre Hopkins, and Will Fuller. Fuller, specifically, is back down to $6,300 after dropping three potential touchdowns last week. This game has paths to disappointment just like the one out in Seattle, but the shootout upside here may be greater than it appears at first glance.
Tevin's Tantalizing Tuddies
But being an extra week removed from that injury made all the difference in the world.
In that pummeling of the Rams in Week 6, Coleman's snap rate spiked to 55.1%, and he ran a route on 16 of 35 drop backs. He was far from a bellcow, but it was a whole heck of a lot better than the previous week.
The work close to the goal line remained, as well. He has all six carries for Niners running backs inside the 10 since returning from his injury, and four of those came inside the five. If they're going to score on the ground, it's probably going to be with Coleman.
He now has three targets in two of three games this year, and he was limited to just 26.5% of the snaps in the opener. So Coleman can get some passing-down work, and he'll punch it in when they're close. It's not as valuable as guys who are legit weapons in the passing game, but it's better than you'll usually find for $6,200.
That goal-line work is a key for this week. The 49ers are on the road, but they're 9.5-point favorites against Washington (though that has dipped from an open of -10 and is down to 8.5 at some books). The Washington offense is a disaster, and the San Francisco 49ers' defense should set the offense up with plus field position on a regular basis. That's pretty drool-worthy.
We have to be cautious with Coleman because he's not a full-blown bellcow and because the team is still missing its starting tackles. There's a path to a bad game within his range of outcomes. But his role is wildly different now than it was just two weeks ago, and in this spot, it's enough to make Coleman -- along with potentially Latavius Murray -- the top running back play below $6,500.