4 FanDuel NFL Studs to Target in Week 9

Josh Allen has been fantasy's best quarterback on a per-game basis, and now, he faces one of worst defenses in the league. What other studs are worth spending salary on in Week 9?

Spending your available salary in any DFS lineup on a stud can make or break your lineup. These high-salaried players will take up the majority of your budget, so it’s critical to carefully consider which ones you’ll want for each slate. Whether it’s trying to capture a safe floor in a cash game or chasing a huge game to help you win a tournament, nailing the expensive players is one of the keys to making winning NFL lineups on FanDuel.

Week 9 sees some of the best offenses in the NFL return to the main slate. So that should give us better options at the top of the salary ranks at each position.

Josh Allen, QB, Buffalo Bills

FanDuel Salary: $9,000
Projected Points: 27.6

Last year, Josh Allen finished as the QB1 overall, and it came as a huge surprise to many people. This year, people expected him to be good again in fantasy, but maybe not as good as he has been. He is once again the number one quarterback in fantasy points per game. This week, he'll get perhaps his easiest matchup yet.

The reason Allen exploded into an elite fantasy quarterback last season was a change in the way the Buffalo Bills ran their offense. They were a run-heavy, defensive team in Allen's first two seasons, but that shifted in 2020. They decided to pass a lot more, increasing their pass rate from 55% in 2019 to 61.7% in 2020. They've kept this up in 2021, as they are fifth in the NFL pass rate when the game is close. Allen was already fantasy-relevant because of rushing, and that has continued, as he has run for at least 26 yards or a touchdown in every game this season.

The Bills play the Jacksonville Jaguars this week in a dream matchup. Jacksonville ranks 32nd in schedule-adjusted pass defense, according to numberFire's metrics. They just allowed Geno Smith to complete 20 out of 24 passes, throw two touchdowns, and run for another. This could be a precursor to what we see Allen do on Sunday.

The Bills carry the highest implied team total on the slate, the only team implied to score more than 30 points. Allen's 27.6-point projection is one of the highest we have seen all season. He's a great option in all formats in all Week 9.

Austin Ekeler, RB, Los Angeles Chargers

FanDuel Salary: $9,000
Projected Points: 16.3

It seems like Austin Ekeler was receiving a lot of hype in the offseason, but during the season, he has flown under the radar a bit.

The talk this summer was about whether or not he would get the goal line work -- he has. He is seeing 53% of the team's red zone rushes, up from 20% last year. He hasn't had any problems finding the end zone either with eight touchdowns in seven games.

There were also concerns about Ekeler's pass-game involvement after he didn't see a target in Week 1. Those concerns have evaporated, as he has since seen at least five targets in every game. Since that Week 1 game, he has at least 48 yards or a touchdown through the air, and he continues to be one of the best pass-catching backs in the league.

All of this has quietly ranked Ekeler as the RB2 in half-PPR points per game this season. There is a belief that on half-PPR sites like FanDuel, pass catching doesn't matter as much as scoring touchdowns. With Ekeler, you get the upside for both.

The Los Angeles Chargers will face the Philadelphia Eagles in an effort to get their season back on track after two straight losses. Ekeler should be able to find some success; the Eagles rank 25th in schedule-adjusted rush defense. With concerns around the New Orleans Saints offense with their quarterback situation. and Dalvin Cook facing a tough Baltimore Ravens run defense, there's an argument to be made that Ekeler is the best running back on the week.

Deebo Samuel, WR, San Francisco 49ers

FanDuel Salary: $8,000
Projected Points: 15.2

There have been a lot of disappointments on the San Francisco 49ers this season, but Deebo Samuel cannot be considered one of them. He exploded for six catches and 171 yards in Week 8 -- his fourth game with over 100 yards. He may not be getting the same hype as a true number one receiver, but all of the numbers tell us that he should.

Samuel is getting the usage of an elite wide receiver at the very least. He has 33.0% of San Francisco's targets this season, which compares similarly to Cooper Kupp's 32.7%. There were concerns over where he gets his targets, as his average depth of target was just 2.3 yards last season. This year, it's up to 7.9 yards, and he's seeing 34.1% of the team's air yards. That's right where we want a top receiver to be.

Deebo has been a model of consistency that many receivers are not. He has seen at least eight targets in every game this season and has scored under 13 FanDuel points just once. He is also third in rush attempts for a wide receiver and had a rushing touchdown in Week 5. All of this adds up to Samuel being second in half-PPR points for wide receivers this season.

The 49ers will face the division-leading Arizona Cardinals. This isn't an easy matchup for Samuel, and it's the second time these two teams have played. Samuel had his worst receiving game of the season on that day, but that was the only game that rookie Trey Lance has started. Lance struggled in that game. With Jimmy Garoppolo playing, he's sure to target Samuel often and be more accurate than the inexperienced rookie.

Samuel's projection trails only Tyreek Hill on the Week 9 main slate, but it seems likely to go overlooked as a lot of fantasy players. There is definite "sticker shock" seeing Samuel all the way up at a justified $8,000.

Darren Waller, TE, Las Vegas Raiders

FanDuel Salary: $6,800
Projected Points: 13.6

The tight end position once again let us down last week. Kyle Pitts was a popular option and looked set for a breakout with Calvin Ridley out of the lineup, and he produced just 2.3 FanDuel points. Even Travis Kelce disappointed with just 2.7 points on Monday night. Darren Waller returns from a Week 8 bye and an injury in Week 7 but should be good to go this week.

Waller has seen at least five targets in every game this season and leads the team with 53 targets on the season. He could see more targets with Henry Ruggs no longer on the team. His target share last season was 27.7% last season as Ruggs struggled, but it is only 21.2% this year.

Waller's role in the scoring area was still good with Ruggs. He is seeing 25% of the team's red zone targets this season, and he's also seeing his targets further down the field; he has an aDoT of 9.9 this season compared to 7.8 last season. That number compares favorably to many tight ends, including Kelce's 7.9 aDoT.

Waller and the Las Vegas Raiders have a healthy implied team total of 24.5 as they take on the New York Giants this week. The Raiders surprisingly rank fourth in adjusted pass rate this season, so they'll likely keep throwing the ball even if they get a comfortable lead.

Our projections have Waller with the most fantasy points for a tight end this week, even though he has a lower salary than Kelce and Mark Andrews. This makes him the top play at the position this week.

Nicholas Vazquez is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Nicholas Vazquez also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username hbyanksman. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his/her personal views, he/she may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his/her personal account. The views expressed in his/her articles are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.