FanDuel Daily Fantasy Football Helper: Week 7
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 7.
Patrick Mahomes ($8,800 on FanDuel): Five teams have implied totals of 28.00 points or higher, but the Chiefs are the only one of the five favored by less than a touchdown (4.5 points over the Titans), suggesting they're the team least likely at risk of a blowout. This game also has far and away the slate's highest total (57.5).
Of course, this doesn't come as a great shock because of how wretched their defense has been in 2021. According to numberFire's schedule-adjusted metrics, Kansas City ranks 3rd in total offense and 31st in total defense, a combination that always makes them ripe for shootouts.
All of this bodes well for Mahomes, who continues to lead all quarterbacks in FanDuel points per game this season (27.0). Mahomes got off to a slow start versus Washington last week, but he ultimately threw for 397 yards and 2 scores, helping him to 25.0 FanDuel points. Were it not for Darrel Williams punching in two red-zone scores, we likely would've seen Mahomes surpass 30 points for the third time this season.
And while Mahomes has uncharacteristically thrown eight interceptions, he's made up for some of that with encouraging production on the ground, as he's fifth in rushing yards among quarterbacks (184).
He and Kyler Murray ($8,700) are neck and neck for the slate's top quarterback, per numberFire's projections.
Lamar Jackson ($8,400): Jackson is actually coming off his worst fantasy performance of the year, but that had more to do with three different Ravens running backs stealing away all the rushing scores in a blowout win over the Chargers' shoddy rush defense.
Perhaps we get a more competitive affair against the Bengals, where we find the Ravens as 6.5-point favorites. While Cincinnati ranks 3rd in schedule-adjusted rush defense, they're just 17th against the pass, and Baltimore is tied for the 6th-best implied total.
Although much of Jackson's passing production came in Week 5, it's still telling that he rates well in numberFire's passing efficiency metrics. Among starting quarterbacks, he ranks seventh in Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per drop back and sixth in Passing Success Rate. The rushing upside is where he shines, but he should still be able to hurt the Bengals plenty through the air, too.
While Jackson's fantasy results have been up and down, he holds two of the eight top quarterback scores of the year, and he's always a threat to be the top-scoring signal-caller on any given slate.
Jalen Hurts ($8,300): We haven't yet seen Hurts crack 30 FanDuel points, but Patrick Mahomes, Tom Brady ($8,000), and Kyler Murray are the only quarterbacks averaging more FanDuel points than him on the slate.
Admittedly, Hurts' passing has left a lot to be desired, often needing garbage time to pad his stats, but he continues to boost his weekly outputs by averaging 8.8 rushes for 50.0 yards per game. Among quarterbacks, Hurts is tied with Sam Darnold for the most rushing scores (five), and only Lamar has more rushing yards.
This should be a fantasy-friendly game environment for Hurts, too, as this Eagles-Raiders matchup is tied for the third-highest total (48.5) and Las Vegas is favored by just 3.0 points.
Derrick Henry ($11,000): Henry is averaging the most FanDuel points per game across all positions and has scored 30-plus in half of his games. It's no wonder his salary has ballooned lately and is now a full $2,000 above any other healthy player this week.
While I can't say he's a must at such a sky-high salary, another spike week could easily be on tap against Kansas City's 32nd-ranked schedule-adjusted rush defense, and points should be in abundance in what's projected as the week's highest-scoring game.
Henry's usage has been off the charts, averaging 33.0 adjusted opportunities per game (carries plus 2x targets), a mark that's pretty much unmatched.
Darrell Henderson ($8,000): In Henderson's three games without any injury issues (Weeks 1, 4, and 6), he's logged 18.0, 26.0, and 27.0 adjusted opportunities, with those latter two marks coming most recently. Across those weeks, he's earned an elite 87.8% snap rate and 73.0% route rate, both of which would lead all running backs over the full season.
So that's great and all, but then we also see that the Rams have a slate-best 33.50 implied total and are 16.5-point home favorites over the Lions. While perfect lineup data suggests that blowouts can put a dent in the ceilings of even running backs, Henderson otherwise checks just about every box, and his salary is a significant step below Henry's.
Leonard Fournette ($7,000): Fournette has firmly established himself as the lead back in Tampa Bay, and even with Gio Bernard back the past two games, Fournette has recorded 22.0 and 34.0 adjusted opportunities. His salary hasn't caught up to his present role, and he rates highly as a running back value in numberFire's projections.
Much like the Rams, the Bucs are expected to steamroll their opponent, favored by 12.5 points at home over the Bears. Although Chicago ranks highly as a pass defense in numberFire's metrics, they're just 20th against the run, which bodes well for Fournette's chance of cashing in with a touchdown -- something he's done three times the past two weeks.
Darrel Williams ($6,700): While Clyde Edwards-Helaire's role in the Chiefs' offense left a lot to be desired in DFS, that may not be the case with Williams. In Week 6, he racked up 29.0 adjusted opportunities, and that most notably included four red-zone carries, which helped him to two scores. If Williams is getting this kind of volume and getting that lucrative red-zone work, he's an easy value in one of Sunday's top game environments.
Devontae Booker ($5,800): I'm skeptical of Booker's ceiling on a team that's getting crushed with injuries and has an underwhelming 20.00 implied total versus Carolina, but he might be worth considering if you're searching for extra cap space in certain lineup builds. The Panthers are only 3.0-point road favorites, so the Giants ought to be able to keep things more competitive than they have the past couple of games (against the Cowboys and Rams).
What we can feel fairly confident in is that Booker should see volume after averaging a 78.8% snap rate 22.0 adjusted opportunities over two games since Saquon Barkley was injured early in Week 5. Perhaps the dearth of healthy weapons for Big Blue leads to extra looks his way, as well. Booker projects as the top point-per-dollar value back in numberFire's model.
Tyreek Hill ($8,500): It's Davante Adams ($9,000), Cooper Kupp ($8,800), and Hill who form a pretty clear "big three" at wide receiver in terms of both their high salaries and projections. All three are enjoying fantastic usage, and all three are on teams expected to score a boatload of points this week.
But Hill is the one in the game with the most shootout potential, and he tops numberFire's projections despite having the lowest salary of the trio. Tennessee ranks just 23rd in schedule-adjusted pass defense.
The one thing to monitor is Hill's injury status, as he missed practice on Wednesday and Thursday, though he did return on Friday.
Calvin Ridley ($7,300): With the Falcons coming off their bye and facing a Dolphins team coming off a London game, this really ought to be a spot where Atlanta performs well despite generally underwhelming up to this point.
And speaking of underwhelming, that pretty much sums up Ridley's campaign -- at least in terms of fantasy results. Ridley's 11.3-point average on FanDuel ranks just 19th among wideouts on the slate.
But his usage has remained quite encouraging, averaging 10.5 targets per game over that span with a 26.9% target share and 47.7% air yards share. Matt Ryan took more deep shots in their last game together (Week 4), too, which is another encouraging sign moving forward.
Based on volume alone, better days should be ahead for Ridley, and this is a prime spot for him to cash in against a Miami pass defense that ranks 27th in our metrics and has struggled against wide receivers.
A.J. Brown ($7,000): While Ridley has been a bit underwhelming, he's nowhere near the fantasy disappointment Brown has been to this point as Brown hasn't even cleared 13 points in a game yet. Some bad luck has certainly played a part, with Brown dealing with a hamstring injury earlier this year followed by a bout with food poisoning that's still bothering him this week.
But assuming he plays through it, he's in the ultimate get-right spot as the obvious bring-back option in Kansas City stacks. In his four full games, Brown has enjoyed a 26.7% target share and 39.9% air yards share, and this isn't likely to be a game where the Titans can just sit back and rely on Derrick Henry to single-handedly carry them to victory.
Additionally, Julio Jones is dealing with a hamstring issue, and while he did get in a limited practice on Thursday, he may not be at 100% even if he plays. Keep tabs on Brown's status, but if he's good to go, he's an intriguing "buy low" option this week.
DeVonta Smith ($5,800): If you're rolling with Hurts at quarterback, Smith continues to be the logical pass-catcher to pair with him. While Hurts' erratic passing has, uh, hurt Smith's fantasy bottom line, the rookie remains the go-to guy with a 22.1% target share and 39.2% air yards share on the season.
The Raiders don't have a particularly noteworthy pass defense, and this game could have underrated fantasy potential due to its solid total and tight spead. Among wideouts with a salary below $6,000, Smith rates as the best point-per-dollar value in numberFire's projections.
Darren Waller ($6,800): Similar to wide receiver, three guys form the top tier at tight end, and the names won't surprise you -- Travis Kelce ($8,200), Mark Andrews ($7,500), and Waller. Kelce is the crown jewel, as always, and his lofty projection reflects that.
But Waller will be the easiest of the three to fit into lineups, and he's a good piece on the other side of Eagles stacks. While Kelce, Andrews, and Waller all see remarkably similar usage, Waller just barely bests the group as the position leader in both target share (24.1%) and air yards share (25.8%) this season. Waller also has a healthy lead over the field in route rate (88.8%).
We really haven't seen a spike week from Waller since Week 1, but his consistent volume should lead to another one sooner rather than later.
Tyler Higbee ($5,500): Generally speaking, when we're dipping into the value range at tight end, we're looking at players who pretty much need to score a touchdown to hit value, as their roles are less likely to lead to high yardage and catch totals.
Well, what better way to hunt for touchdowns than targeting someone from the offense with the slate's highest implied total? The Rams are expected to score in bunches, so Higbee could get in on the fun.
While his 12.6% target share leaves much to be desired, he's fourth at the position in route rate (78.8%) and third in snap rate (89.4%). He's played 100% of the snaps in three of his six games, including just last week.
That means he'll be out there more often than not when the Rams are in close, and he leads the team with five targets inside the 10-yard line.
Tampa Bay D/ST ($4,400): The Bucs' defense checks in as the best point-per-dollar play in numberFire's projections as a heavy home favorite over the Bears. The inexperienced Justin Fields will likely be forced to throw, which was the thought process between rostering the Green Bay D/ST against Chicago last week.
While that game didn't quite go according to script due to a sluggish start from the Packers, the Green Bay defense still ended up tallying four sacks and an interception versus Fields, who threw a season-high 27 times.
Those pass attempts figure to go way up with Tom Brady and friends likely to get out to a lead, and Tampa's tough run defense typically forces opponents to throw anyway. Among starting quarterbacks, only Zach Wilson has been worse than Fields in Passing NEP per drop back.
Atlanta D/ST ($3,900): It's hard to feel great about any of the defenses below $4,000 -- they're at those salaries for a reason after all -- but for as dreadful as Atlanta has been on defense, their spot against Miami -- at least theoretically -- sets up well for them.
As noted earlier, the Falcons have had two weeks to prepare for this opponent, while the Dolphins are coming off their deflating loss in London without a bye. The game is at Miami, which doesn't help, but it's telling that Atlanta is still favored. The Dolphins are also dealing with several injuries to their wideouts, which includes Will Fuller remaining out.
Again, the Falcons have struggled across the board this season, and they've done a poor job of getting to the quarterback. But if there was ever a time for them to come through, it could be this weekend under these unique circumstances.