4 Daily Fantasy Football Matchups to Exploit in Week 4
The beauty of daily fantasy football is that, unlike a season-long draft where someone is tied to their top players all year, any top players in the NFL can make their way into your lineup. While that can be a blessing, it can also be a curse.
Although you're able to roster Christian McCaffrey, Dalvin Cook, and Derrick Henry all at once if you want, it is unlikely that all three running backs are optimal plays at their respective salaries for a particular week. There are many elements to decide which players are the best plays, and a large aspect of daily fantasy is the matchup a player has.
While usually encompassed in some respects inside the salary figure, a soft matchup can take a good running back to a great week. On the other hand, a tough matchup can make superstars suboptimal to roster.
Which matchups are lurking in this weekend's games that we can take advantage of on FanDuel?
Packers Passing Attack vs. Steelers Secondary
While all the focus is on the constipated Pittsburgh offense, their secondary has plenty to be concerned about, as well.
Pittsburgh's front seven is as advertised, as they are the third-best rush defense in the NFL in terms of Adjusted Defensive Rushing Net Expected Points (NEP) per play. While one would think that leads to more success against passers in longer third downs, the Steelers have had no such luck. Their 0.28 Adjusted Defensive Passing NEP per play is seventh-worst in the NFL.
That's not ideal with Aaron Rodgers hosting them Sunday.
The Packers' passing attack is not only tremendous, but it is concentrated, and that is incredibly valuable in daily fantasy. Davante Adams is obviously the star of the show, with a massive 37.8% target share, but Marquez Valdes-Scantling also has a respectable 17.9% target share, and most importantly, no other Green Bay pass-catcher is above 9.0%. Adams and Valdez-Scantling combine for an unreal 80.6% of the Packers' total air yards.
A stack of Rodgers, Adams, and MVS can engulf the vast majority of the Green Bay passing attack, and the upside in the overall game can be easily run back with Najee Harris. It is incredibly appealing to not only find a great matchup but also one that fits the conventionally successful stacking process.
Miles Sanders vs. Chiefs Run Defense
The Chiefs overall are going to be fine long-term, but their defense may not be able to say the same.
Kansas City's 0.27 Adjusted Defensive NEP per play is the worst mark in the NFL, and considering nearly every fantasy star they have played has posted their season-high total against them, it seems appropriate. The Chiefs' offense is also going to be competitive enough to keep opponents trying.
That normally would make targeting them in daily fantasy popular, but with the Philadelphia Eagles laying an egg on Monday night, it may curb some of that popularity.
Kansas City has struggled especially against the run, allowing 0.32 Adjusted Rushing Defensive NEP per carry to opposing running backs. Miles Sanders is a talented running back, but like his team, may not be as popular as he should be.
Sanders only saw five touches against Dallas, but his underlying usage was much better. He logged his third consecutive game playing over 60% of the snaps, and his pass-catching usage is miles (no pun intended) better than public perception. Sanders has run 55.3% of the Eagles' total routes compared to just 26.2% for Kenneth Gainwell. This is not a committee.
The masses flocked to roster Austin Ekeler at a 60% snap share and running several routes for the Chargers last week because of this matchup, but because of the name on the back of the jersey, it likely won't be incredibly popular to roster Sanders in the same spot. He still is in a fantastic spot entering this contest where Philadelphia has an implied team total of 23.75.
Cleveland Tight Ends vs. Vikings Linebackers and Safeties
The Cleveland tight end situation is the definition of "too many cooks in the kitchen."
All three tight ends are talented, and therefore, all three are seeing a passable amount of work. Austin Hooper has seen 52.8% of the routes inside the offense, but David Njoku is not far behind at 48.3%, and Harrison Bryant is running enough routes to matter, as well, at 34.8%. Njoku has the highest air yards share (18.5%) by a decent mark, but Austin Hooper has also seen three red-zone looks compared to a combined one for Njoku and Bryant.
Normally, this situation is a total cross-off, but the Vikings may not allow that.
Minnesota is averaging 1.72 Adjusted FanDuel points per target allowed to tight ends. It makes plenty of sense, as they were torched by Maxx Williams for 7 catches and 94 yards, and Gerald Everett saw a noticeably larger workload against the Vikings, too, as he got 5 targets and caught all of them for 54 yards. Cleveland's tight end group is also by far the best Minnesota will see so far.
Crossing Bryant's smaller role off, for the time being, the choice between Njoku and Hooper is a tough one. Consider he is $500 less in salary on FanDuel, the personal selection would be Njoku. That is not only because of his yardage upside, but it is also because of his Week 3 role. Njoku saw two more snaps and one more route than Hooper, and likely because of production, Hooper will carry more popularity.
Saints D/ST vs. Daniel Jones
Is the Daniel Jones turnover issue corrected? Sunday will be an important test.
While Jones has no interceptions in 2021 thus far, he does have three fumbles in three games. That includes two last week against the toothless Atlanta defense. That still places him in the bottom half of the league in turnover-worthy plays.
Jones has also played two games at home, and he draws one of the most difficult road visits in the NFL with the New Orleans Saints for Week 4. The Saints have been one of -- if not the -- best defenses in the NFL thus far, allowing -0.05 Adjusted Defensive NEP per play thus far. They also are turning the ball over at a tremendous rate, with six interceptions and a fumble recovery in just three games.
New Orleans has given Aaron Rodgers and Mac Jones likely their worst performances of the year. Coming off a shaky performance against the Falcons, Jones is entering a hornets' nest. Even at a high salary, and likely to be popular, the Saints are a premium in the defense slot on FanDuel this weekend at $4,800.