FanDuel Daily Fantasy Football Helper: Week 6
Welcome to our weekly FanDuel NFL primer, where we give you an overview of the Sunday main slate to help you get started on your research.
As always, we recommend checking out all of numberFire's daily fantasy tools at your disposal. In particular, our weekly projections can help you nail down who might be the slate's top scorers and best values, while the heat map is a great way to get a general overview of the slate's implied totals and every team's strengths and weaknesses.
Now, let's run through some of the top plays in Week 6.
Patrick Mahomes ($9,000 on FanDuel): Mahomes is coming off a disappointing performance that included three turnovers in a loss to the Buffalo Bills -- yet he still put up a respectable 20.98 FanDuel points because, you know, he's Patrick Mahomes.
Mahomes is still averaging more FanDuel points per game (27.37) than any other signal-caller on the slate, and despite uncharacteristically already throwing six interceptions -- he had six all of last season -- he still leads the league in passing scores (16) and is tied for sixth in Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per drop back among starting quarterbacks.
He's also been a pleasant surprise as a runner thus far, too, ranking fifth in rushing yards at the position with one rushing touchdown.
Finally, to top it all off, Mahomes is in a great spot to bounce back with a ceiling game. Kansas City is a 6.5-point road favorite over Washington, and this contest has a tantalizing 54.5 total -- tops on the slate.
Lamar Jackson ($8,200): After posting an absurd 41.88 FanDuel points for all to see on Monday Night Football, Jackson will almost certainly be the most popular quarterback on the slate, particularly considering his salary is $800 below Mahomes'.
Jackson is doing it all so far this season. While he predictably leads all quarterbacks in rushing attempts and rushing yards -- averaging 11.2 carries and 68.2 yards per game -- he's also getting it done through the air, ranking second in Passing NEP per drop back after barely performing above league average in 2020. He's also fourth in adjusted yards per attempt (9.2).
Of course, four of his eight passing touchdowns came in that last game, so perhaps we should expect Jackson's passing efficiency to level off a bit over the long haul. But even so, with two FanDuel performances of 30-plus points already under Jackson's belt, it's easy to be excited with his rest-of-the-season potential.
A potential shootout opposite Justin Herbert ($8,000) -- who's also a fun play after a 40-plus-point FanDuel performance of his own -- could be on tap with the Chargers and Ravens combined for a 51.5 total. Due to salary discount off of Mahomes, Jackson rates as the best point-per-dollar play at the position, per numberFire's projections.
Taylor Heinicke ($7,300): Kansas City continues to be the perfect opponent to attack, as their combination of elite offense and horrific defense is the perfect cocktail to produce weekly fantasy bonanzas. According to numberFire's schedule-adjusted metrics, the Chiefs rank 1st overall in total offense but are 31st in total defense and 29th against the pass.
Furthermore, Washington's play increases the chance of a shootout, as well. While not quite as dramatic as Kansas City, the Football Team has also displayed a sizable gap in performance between their offense and defense, which rank 10th and 26th, respectively, per numberFire's numbers. This game also rates as the slate's second-best game in terms of pace, per our Brandon Gdula.
All of this is arguably enough to put Heinicke on our radar, someone you probably haven't considered much in DFS yet this season.
Heineke's been middle-of-the-pack as a passer, but he does bring some rushing potential, averaging a solid 5.5 carries and 27.5 rushing yards over his four full games. He's produced 20-plus FanDuel points in three of his four starts, and his season-high of 27.90 points suggests he could have a higher ceiling than you might expect from a quarterback with just the 10th-highest salary.
Austin Ekeler ($8,400): Christian McCaffrey ($10,000) remains a shaky bet to play this week, while Dalvin Cook ($8,800) got a full practice in on Thursday, which is a great sign that he could return at his usual workload.
But you can also skip past those two for Ekeler, who has been excellent in 2021 and could be in a fantastic game environment versus Baltimore.
Since Ekeler's surprise zero-target game in Week 1, he's averaged 6.3 targets over the last four games, helping him to 25.5 adjusted opportunities (carries plus 2x targets), which ranks fourth-best among backs over that span.
Ekeler's also seeing more red-zone work than in past years. He's already tallied 18 red-zone rushes (fourth-most) after notching just 17 in 10 games last season. He's top 10 in carries inside the 10-yard line (8) and inside the 5-yard line (4).
Only Derrick Henry is averaging more FanDuel points per game than Ekeler this year, and there's little reason to think Ekeler won't keep the good times rolling in Week 6.
Ezekiel Elliott ($8,300): Admittedly, I've been reluctant to roster Elliott this season, but there's no denying that he's been quite productive lately.
With a rough Week 1 matchup against Tampa Bay now in the rear-view mirror, he's tallied a solid 23.0 adjusted opportunities over the past four weeks, helping him to 20-plus FanDuel points in his last three outings. Even with Tony Pollard getting double-digit opportunities regularly, Dallas has been the fourth-most run-heavy team in 2021. So Elliott is still seeing a high workload, and he remains the top option in the red zone.
A matchup against New England might not seem ideal at first glance, but the Cowboys are slight road favorites in a game with an inviting 50.5 total. Additionally, it might surprise you that this one also rates out as the best overall game in pace, per Gdula's numbers.
The cherry on top is that the Patriots' defense has been awful against the run, placing 29th in our adjusted rankings.
Darrell Henderson ($7,300): Henderson's Week 5 workload doesn't jump off the page, with 19 adjusted opportunities and a 65.7% snap rate. But when you factor in that he missed most of the second quarter due to injury and otherwise dominated touches in the other three quarters, it sure seems like the Rams view him as the workhorse back we saw when he returned from injury in Week 4 (26 adjusted opportunities; 89.1% snap rate).
This also sets up as a good game script and matchup for Henderson. The Rams are 9.0-point road favorites against a Giants team that's 29th in total defense and 28th against the run in our adjusted rankings. New York is also dealing with a ton of injuries across the board, but Daniel Jones is likely to return, which would actually be a plus so that this game potentially remains competitive.
With Friday's news of Nick Chubb being ruled out and Joe Mixon ($7,000) being healthy enough for a "full workload," Mixon and Kareem Hunt ($7,400) are other possibilities in this salary range, as well.
Of that group, I lean towards Booker and Herbert, who have the most assured workloads, whereas Williams' role might not be as lucrative as we'd like. We've seen time and again how Clyde Edwards-Helaire's usage leaves a lot to be desired in fantasy, and it wasn't like Williams blew up in a handful of games as a lead back in 2020. For that reason, Williams might be best relegated to Chiefs stacks.
Meanwhile, Booker looks like he's inheriting Saquon Barkley role in full, which is pretty incredible at this salary. With Barkley going down early in Week 5, Booker went on to lead all backs in snap rate (87.5%) while notching 24.0 adjusted opportunities. His outlook is a lot rosier now with Daniel Jones expected to be back.
Lastly, Herbert is the last man standing for Chicago with Damien Williams out due to COVID-19. This could be a poor game environment for Herbert as a 5.5-point home underdog to Green Bay, but he recorded 18 carries with Williams healthy last week, so we can expect that number to grow this time around. He projects as one of the top running back values in numberFire's model.
Davante Adams ($8,500): And speaking of Green Bay, Adams leads our wide receiver projections, and with Tyreek Hill ($8,700) suddenly looking iffy after missing back-to-back practices, Adams could ultimately end up with a sizable lead over the field.
As noted, this game against the Bears is pretty meh (44.5 total), but that simply might not matter when it comes to Adams, whose voluminous role is virtually unmatched. He boasts a 38.1% target share and 45.7% air yards share this year, and if you remove the Packers' outlier Week 1 faceplant, those marks jump up to an even more ridiculous 42.5% target share and 52.7% air yards share.
Terry McLaurin ($7,400): If you're stacking the Kansas City-Washington game, McLaurin should be a primary play as the clear number-one option for the Football Team. McLaurin's usage may not be on Adams' level, but he owns a hefty role himself, soaking up a 30.4% target share and 44.8% air yards share while almost never leaving the field (94.4% snap share).
Against one of the worst pass defenses in the league, McLaurin is a no-brainer at his mid-range salary. However, he missed practice on Friday due to a late-week hamstring injury, making him questionable for Sunday.
Keenan Allen ($7,100): With Mike Williams ($8,000) popping off for monster games seemingly every week, he's stolen the spotlight away from Allen. But Allen is still quietly seeing a rock-solid 26.5% target share and 28.4% air yards share, so it's not like he can't have a spike week himself at some point.
Given his usage, Allen should probably have more fantasy points than we've seen so far, and perhaps this could be his time to shine in what may be a back-and-forth game versus Baltimore. Additionally, Williams has missed practice so far this week, and if he's out, that could further add to Allen's volume.
Jakobi Meyers ($5,800): We really haven't been in the business of rostering the Patriots much at all this year, but Meyers is easily the best bring-back option if you're stacking the Cowboys.
Meyers is inexplicably still looking for his first career NFL touchdown, and you've got to think it's coming soon given that he's the lone New England wideout getting consistent looks. Meyers enters the week with a 24.6% target share, 28.5% air yards share, 94.2% snap rate, and 95.6% route rate, leading all Patriots skill position players in those categories.
Hunter Henry ($5,600): There are no surprises at the top of our tight end projections, where we find Travis Kelce ($8,500), Darren Waller ($7,000), and Mark Andrews ($6,300) as a "big three." Kelce naturally bests the field as always -- and he could see even more volume if Tyreek Hill is out -- while Andrews is the top point-per-dollar value at his much lower salary.
We also shouldn't forget about Dalton Schultz ($6,500), who's really separated himself from Blake Jarwin on the Cowboys and has now garnered a 29.1% target share over the last three weeks. Unfortunately, he's at a premium salary these days, but he's a nice pivot off Andrews at what should be lower popularity.
But it's nice to save at tight end when we can, and if we flip to the other side of that Dallas game, Henry is someone to consider.
While Henry's season-long usage isn't exciting, he's been consistently running more routes than Jonnu Smith, and it finally paid off in the box score in Week 5, as Henry saw season-highs in targets (8), receptions (6), and yards (75), helping him to his best FanDuel score of the year (16.5 points). He's also scored touchdowns in back-to-back games.
While it's possible that last week turns out to be an outlier rather than a sign of things to come, this isn't a bad spot to speculate, as Mac Jones will likely need to pass early and often to keep pace with Dallas' high-powered offense. The Cowboys have also struggled to defend tight ends thus far.
Ricky Seals-Jones ($5,000): While it hasn't shown up in the box score, Seals-Jones has pretty much been a one-for-one swap for the injured Logan Thomas, logging a 95.7% snap rate and 81.8% route rate over the past two weeks. He got up to nine targets in Week 5, so we can hope for more of the same in this week's shootout against the Chiefs.
McLaurin's late addition to the injury report could also lead to a bigger pass-catching role for Seals-Jones, too.
Green Bay D/ST ($4,200): The Indianapolis D/ST ($4,700) and Los Angeles Rams D/ST ($5,000) are the top defenses in our projections, which comes as no surprise considering both teams are massive favorites.
But next up is Green Bay, and their salary is much more manageable. While the Packers are on the road, they're favored by 5.5 points, and if they get out to a lead as expected, we may see Justin Fields forced to pass more often than the Bears would like him to.
Fields hasn't thrown more than 20 passes in any of his three starts, so he'd very much be taken out of his comfort zone, and among players with at least 80 drop backs, Fields ranks second-to-last in Passing NEP per drop back and last in Passing Success Rate.
Minnesota D/ST ($3,700): It might surprise you that Minnesota ranks second in sacks and has the second-highest pressure rate, per Pro Football Reference. While Sam Darnold's had plenty of positive moments to start the season, he's been shaky over the past two games in losses to the Cowboys and Eagles, throwing a combined five picks while taking eight sacks.
The Vikings' defense rates as the best point-per-dollar value in our projections.