Daily Fantasy Football: Sannes' Situations to Monitor in Week 11

AJ Dillon will be popular in Week 11, but his projected role justifies that massive roster rate. Which other situations are impacting the NFL DFS main slate?

Keep it simple, stupid.

It's a reminder we could all use from time to time in daily fantasy football. We spend all week analyzing these slates, and it can lead to our using galaxy-brained moves when we don't need to.

We spent a large chunk of last week arguing about whether it was right to utilize value backs like D'Ernest Johnson and Mark Ingram, knowing that a big portion of the field would also utilize those players. And the thought process makes sense: if that player fails to come through, and you fade them, you're competing against a smaller portion of the field.

But in reality, Johnson was on 44.6% of rosters in the FanDuel Sunday Million, and Ingram was on 22.2%. In other words, had Ingram flopped, you'd still be competing against 77.8% of the field. Sometimes, chalk is chalk for a reason, and when it's at a position where volume is as predictable as it is at running back, it's okay to swallow that chalk and deviate elsewhere.

That same principle will be in place this weekend. We've got some situations where the appeal is obvious, and we know a healthy portion of our competitors will gravitate that way. We just have to decide whether we should ride with them or swerve elsewhere.

What are those obvious situations on the main slate, and how should we handle them? Let's dig in and figure it out.

Just Use AJ Dillon

Last week was simply a trial run with Johnson and Ingram. That's because AJ Dillon is in an even better spot than either of them were last week.

Dillon is likely to shift into the feature-back role for the Green Bay Packers with Aaron Jones dealing with a sprained MCL. Dillon checks every box we want out of an under-salaried running back.

Obvious top option? Check. Even with Jones missing significant time last week, Dillon played 51.4% of the snaps compared to Patrick Taylor's 2.9%.

Early-down and goal-line work? Check. Dillon had 10 of the team's 18 red-zone opportunities last week and racked up 21 total carries, again even with Jones playing a full half.

Passing-game work? Check again. Dillon had just two targets last week but has had four in a game twice this year.

Those are the key pillars for a running back in daily fantasy. If a player is in line to check all three, we can feel confident in them even at heavy roster rates. They will fail -- football is a high-variance sport, and injuries can occur -- but the hit rate of these kinds of plays is very high.

That means Dillon needs to be a priority for us this week at $7,000 on FanDuel. It seems obvious, but again, the obvious answer can be the right answer often.

It's also worth noting we don't need to worry about Dillon's impact on Dalvin Cook. People can -- understandably -- get skittish about using two running backs in the same game as the two positions don't correlate well. But last year, two running backs from opposing teams were in the same perfect FanDuel lineup twice, and it has happened twice already this year, as well. You can happily pair Dillon with Cook, and with the way the two set up against bottom-10 rush defenses, you likely should.

Michael Gallup's Return

The other obvious spot on the slate is that we should game stack this matchup between the Dallas Cowboys and Kansas City Chiefs. It has the highest total on the slate by 5.5 points and features two teams in the top 10 in situation-neutral pace, per Football Outsiders. It's a game-stacker's dream.

It's just hard to predict where the ball will go on the Dallas side.

That's because they're fully healthy, which hasn't been the case most of the year. Michael Gallup returned last week and ran 20 routes on 35 drop backs, according to Next-Gen Stats. If not for the blowout, that number likely would have been higher.

Getting Gallup back is great because it gives us low-salaried access to this game at $5,400. We just have to decide how it alters our view of CeeDee Lamb and Amari Cooper.

The problem is that we don't have a true sample here. Gallup left early in the third quarter in Week 1, and Lamb's snaps were limited late in Week 10 due to the lopsided score.

As such, we can try to cobble together a look by narrowing our scope to just the first halves of those two games. It's a crazy small sample that amounts to four quarters, but it's kinda all we've got right now.

Here's the target distribution in those games with a "deep" target being at least 16 yards downfield.

In This Sample Overall Targets Deep Targets RZ Targets
CeeDee Lamb 32.7% 40.0% 50.0%
Michael Gallup 19.2% 40.0% 10.0%
Amari Cooper 15.4% 20.0% 20.0%

It's very clear that Lamb is still worth his $8,000 salary even with Gallup back, and we can clearly turn to Gallup at a bargain salary. Cooper's numbers, though, are underwhelming.

We shouldn't take that to mean that Cooper is out of play. In fact, it may even make him an elite tournament pivot.

Gallup is going to catch attention due to his salary. Lamb will get it because he has been tremendous this year and just blew up. Cooper's $7,300 salary is between the two, meaning he's a borderline lock to be the least rostered guy of the group.

If you're turning to the Cowboys in a cash game, Lamb and Gallup are your guys. For tournaments, though, we know Cooper's ceiling is silly. It's not enough where you should favor him over them straight up, but you should still ensure you've got exposure in case he does what he has done so many times in the past.

The bigger takeaway, though, may be that Dak Prescott is dead even with Patrick Mahomes to be the top quarterback on the slate. In the two halves with all three of his pass-catchers, Prescott is at 0.42 Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per drop back. NEP is numberFire's expected points metric, and Passing NEP includes deductions for expected points lost on negative plays such as sacks, incompletions, and interceptions. For context on that 0.42 mark, Prescott currently leads the league at 0.34 for the full season. He's even better than that when all three are healthy.

I've got a formula that uses these efficiency numbers and opposing matchups to project how effective an offense will be. Those projections have Dallas as the best offense on the slate, ahead of the Chiefs. That's why Prescott is tempting to put above Mahomes.

That's not to cross off Ezekiel Elliott, by any means. The Cowboys very well could play bully ball and ground the Chiefs into the Earth, which is why Elliott is someone we can stack with Prescott or use as a bring-back within Chiefs stacks. But with Elliott's salary up to $8,500, we do have better workloads in guys right around him, so Elliott grades out better for game stacks than as a standalone play.

Monitoring the Chiefs' Backfield

The Chiefs' backfield could also be an option this week. We just don't know yet who will be in it.

Clyde Edwards-Helaire has been designated to return from injured reserve and is practicing this week. However, head coach Andy Reid has already said that it's no lock that Edwards-Helaire plays this week. If he sits, we'd be able to roll out Darrel Williams at $6,300.

In 5 games without Edwards-Helaire, Williams has averaged 13.8 carries and 5.4 targets per game. The target number is key as targets are worth twice as much as carries on a half-PPR site like FanDuel. Williams' 24.6 adjusted opportunities (carries plus two-times his target total) would be higher than the relevant marks of guys like Elliott and Joe Mixon, who carry much higher salaries.

As such, if Edwards-Helaire can't go, Williams grades out below Dillon but still as a desirable target at running back.

If CEH does return, we should likely avoid this backfield. They'd be likely to split high-leverage work, and we've got plentiful options at the position.

That would make the backfield muddy. The pass-catching corps is clear as day: it's really just Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce.

Mecole Hardman got demoted last week, running just 17 routes, fewer than four other receivers. The new No.2 receiver -- Byron Pringle -- doesn't seem to have the yardage upside necessary to pay off even at a bargain salary.

Truthfully, this is a blessing, even if it does mean we need to allocate more salary to stack this game. With four viable options on the Cowboys' side, it'd take us more lineups to hit each combination of player pairings if the Chiefs were more spread out. So although it is a headache that four Cowboys could conceivably blow up here, the narrow tree on the Chiefs' side helps level things off a bit.

Another Week of Mark Ingram?

When Alvin Kamara got in a limited practice on Wednesday, it seemed as if he was trending toward returning. Now, that's less definitive.

Kamara could still play if they're simply giving him a rest day after his return to practice. But we should discuss how we'd handle Mark Ingram if Kamara were to sit.

Ingram had a meaty role with no Kamara in Week 10. He finished with 14 carries and 7 targets, which amounts to 28 adjusted opportunities. He also had 6 of 13 team opportunities inside the red zone.

In other words, Ingram would check the exact same boxes we mentioned with Dillon at a salary of $6,800.

A couple factors would prevent us from ranking Ingram above Dillon despite that. First, Dillon is a powerful tank of a human, and Ingram's on the wrong side of 30. Second, the New Orleans Saints could be missing other key pieces with starting tackles Terron Armstead and Ryan Ramczyk both missing practice on Wednesday and Thursday, as well. Armstead was also out in Week 10 while Ramczyk played every snap, but either way, you'd obviously rather have two of the best tackles in the league be healthy.

As such, Ingram is a top-notch play and would be on the radar for all formats again. We just have to make sure we're higher on Dillon due to those two factors.

Awaiting Word on Kyler Murray

The Arizona Cardinals have yet to say whether Kyler Murray will make his return this week. But after he practiced again on Thursday, it does seem as though he's got a good chance to play. So let's figure out how to handle this game if he does.

If Murray does return, he'll be coming back for a divisional matchup with the Seattle Seahawks. Even though both teams can be a little funky, the total here is decently high at 47.5 with a 1.5-point spread. That's what we typically look for with stacking.

It'd give us incentive to check out both offenses. And both do bring something fun to the table.

On the Cardinals' side, that's James Conner. Even in a blowout last week, Conner still played 81.1% of the snaps and finished with 4 targets. Since Chase Edmonds' injury, Conner has 54.5% of the team's red-zone opportunities. When you combine that with 4.5 targets per game -- and tie it to an elite quarterback -- it's easy to get enthused at $7,200.

It's just a question of how we view him relative to Dillon and potentially Ingram. If Murray plays, it'd be easy for me to shove Conner above Ingram just because the overall expectations for the offense are higher while the workloads are similar. I couldn't quite put him above Dillon with how well he projects, but Conner would be a firm second of the mid-range options.

On the Seattle side, yes it was disappointing for them to play so poorly last week. But that disappointment is reflected in their salaries.

DK Metcalf's tag is down to $7,500 while Tyler Lockett's is $6,800. Metcalf is in a range littered with high-ceiling receivers, but Lockett really isn't. Plus, four of Lockett's eight targets last week were deep; he was really close to a huge game.

If Murray plays, this would be a solid place for some mini game stacks. Conner would be the standout on the Cardinals, and you can run it back with either Lockett or Metcalf. The two quarterbacks and Arizona's pass-catchers aren't totally off the map, either, making this a decently fun game if Murray can get clearance.

Cam Newton's Impact on CMC

The Carolina Panthers are fun again. That much we know with Cam Newton likely to start at quarterback.

We just have to ask how it'll impact the one key fantasy asset in this game, Christian McCaffrey.

McCaffrey's back to having viable usage for DFS after last week's 13-carry, 10-target outing that he turned into 161 yards from scrimmage. They're leaning fully on him, and it's tremendous.

The one concern we could have had with Sam Darnold and several offensive linemen out was that the offense would just completely collapse and fail to move the ball. That seems far less likely now with Newton at the helm, which is a bump up for McCaffrey.

The one hypothetical negative is that Newton is a threat near the goal line, something we saw even in limited action last week. It definitely matters because touchdowns are hyper-valuable. But McCaffrey is so good that he can pay off without them.

There have been 4 instances this year where a running back scored 20-plus FanDuel points without a touchdown. Two of those were by McCaffrey. The only games where he didn't top 20 FanDuel points were the two where he was limited by injury. The dude is nuts.

Plus, it's not as if McCaffrey's touchdown projection is zero just because Newton is there. In fact, the aggregate is likely higher because they may generate more red-zone trips than they would have with P.J. Walker. We should account for Newton's role, but it's absolutely better than the alternative.

This is why McCaffrey is firmly in play this week. We don't need to shovel him into every lineup because the total for this game is low and his salary is lofty at $10,000, but we should try to be at least overweight on McCaffrey relative to the field.

Abundant Injuries for Cleveland Versus Detroit

The injury report for the Cleveland Browns versus the Detroit Lions is basically just each team's 53-man roster.

A lot of this is irrelevant in what could be a gross game. Let's run through the ones that matter.

For the Lions, it's Jared Goff and Jamaal Williams. If Goff can't go, it'd be Tim Boyle at quarterback, pushing this entire team out of play.

If Goff plays and Williams returns, it'd be a downgrade for D'Andre Swift. Swift's 33.5 adjusted opportunities per game in 2 games without Williams is a massive increase from his mark of 26.0 per game with Williams, and the yardage was disappointing in that span, too. With so many viable backs on the slate, it'd lower Swift's appeal significantly.

On the Browns' side, the big one is not one on the injury report. That's Nick Chubb making his return after a one-game absence.

Typically, we'd love Chubb in such a dream matchup. This likely isn't the week to load up, though.

Two things push us off. First, Chubb's salary is $9,000, which is wildly high for the role he typically has. Second, because he tested positive for COVID, his conditioning may not be fully ramped up. It's most likely he splits work with D'Ernest Johnson, meaning we should probably steer clear of this backfield despite the opposing defense.

David Montgomery's Meaty Role

With the Chicago Bears having just had their bye week, it's easy to forget just how insane David Montgomery's role was in Week 9. That game puts him on the map even in a tough matchup here.

Despite having just come off of injured reserve for a knee injury, Montgomery actually set a season-high in snap rate at 84.5%. He didn't do a ton on those snaps, but against the Pittsburgh Steelers, that's forgivable.

Montgomery has shown both yardage and touchdown upside. He had 100-plus yards from scrimmage in 2 of his 5 games before the bye, and he has 36.6% of the team's red-zone opportunities in his healthy games. Even against a quality defense, you'll take that at $6,800.

Montgomery's appeal could decline if we get the thumbs up on some value plays elsewhere. But if Kamara and Edwards-Helaire return, Montgomery has the best role of any back below $7,000. That merits usage and consideration in all formats.

Hollywood's Health

It's possible that Marquise Brown's missing practice the past two days was just for maintenance. Let's chat quickly about what to do if he sits, though.

The big thing is that it'd massively downgrade Lamar Jackson. Speed is key, and nobody outside of Brown has more than 17% of the Baltimore Ravens' deep targets this year.

It would, though, give us leeway to consider Rashod Bateman at a low salary of $5,800.

Even while playing alongside Brown, Bateman has earned at least six targets in all four of his games.

Past 4 Games Overall Targets Deep Targets RZ Targets
Marquise Brown 29.3% 51.7% 8.3%
Mark Andrews 20.7% 17.2% 33.3%
Rashod Bateman 18.7% 13.8% 16.7%

The bump in high-leverage looks would be the key. Brown sitting would be a bummer, but it would give us one extra target in a fairly barren $5,000 range at receiver.

The Colts in a Tough Matchup

The Buffalo Bills' defense is scary. They keep blowing teams out, and it's moreso because of their defense than the offense, which is saying something.

Our job is to decide whether that should push us off of a red-hot Jonathan Taylor this week.

Taylor's absolutely blowing stuff up right now. His snap rate increased five games ago, peaking at 83.9% this past week. In that five-game span, Taylor is averaging 143.2 yards from scrimmage per game and has 65.1% of the team's red-zone opportunities.

Hot damn.

In any other spot, he'd be a no-brainer play at $8,800. His workload is more in line with a salary of $9,500.

But this is an outlier defense. The Bills rank second against the pass and first against the rush, according to numberFire's schedule-adjusted metrics. The Bills have let up 20-plus points just 4 times this year, and all were before their Week 7 bye.

It's worth noting, though, that they've faced a bunch of wretched offenses. Six of the Bills' nine games have come against offenses ranked in the bottom third of the league by numberFire's metrics. Only two of those games were against teams in the top half of the league in efficiency.

The Indianapolis Colts are 11th there, meaning this will be the Bills' third such matchup.

The numberFire marks do account for schedule, so they're not a product of the team's they've faced. They're legit. However, in the two games against competent offenses, the Bills did let up 20 and 34 points. They're far from infallible.

That's why Taylor, to me, is fully on the table for tournaments. We saw Derrick Henry shred the Bills for 143 yards and 3 touchdowns, and the Colts have the personnel to make that happen for Taylor, too. You can easily avoid him in cash games, but it's fully within the range of outcomes for Taylor to be the highest-scoring back on the slate even with the tough matchup.

When you do go Taylor, you can roll out a mini stack with either Stefon Diggs or Emmanuel Sanders. It was Diggs who blew up last week, but Sanders' downfield role in games with Dawson Knox playing full snaps is still impressive.

With Knox Healthy Overall Targets Deep Targets RZ Targets
Stefon Diggs 28.6% 34.0% 30.6%
Cole Beasley 18.2% 5.7% 14.3%
Emmanuel Sanders 16.5% 30.2% 12.2%
Dawson Knox 11.3% 7.6% 14.3%

Sanders' role is firmly secondary to Diggs'. But with Sanders' salary at $5,800, we can still turn to him both in stacks with Taylor and as a standalone value option.

The Dolphins' Lofty Salaries

One team that has been victim to the Bills' defense twice is the Miami Dolphins.

This week? The assignment is a wee bit easier.

They'll be going up against the New York Jets, now the league's worst defense thanks to last week's thrashing by the Bills. We've seen the Dolphins in plus spots with Tua Tagovailoa this year, and they've come through. Plus, the volume here is concentrated.

We just won't get these guys at a discount.

The two considerations here are Jaylen Waddle and Mike Gesicki. Both have gotten great volume with DeVante Parker sidelined, but their salaries are up to $6,700 and $6,300, respectively. That's putting them in proximity to other top options at their respective positions, forcing us to decide whether we should use them even in a delightful spot.

Luckily, we do have an idea of what this will look like. The Dolphins have had two games this year with Tagovailoa starting and without Parker, and both were in plus matchups similar to the one they'll have this week. Here's the target distribution in those games.

Weeks 6 and 7 Overall Targets Deep Targets RZ Targets
Jaylen Waddle 24.4% 15.4% 14.3%
Mike Gesicki 19.8% 23.1% 14.3%

The lack of high-leverage looks is what prevents us from getting super enthused about these two. The overall volume, though, was good enough to help Gesicki average 100.0 yards in those 2 games, and Waddle was at 76.5. This means they did at least have paths to good games.

Between the two, Gesicki is the one who grades out better. He's lower-salaried and helps fill tight end whereas Waddle has big-time competition in his salary range. Even with Gesicki, though, there are a bunch of other tight ends just above him in the salary pool, keeping him from being a priority. We can certainly get to these guys, but the salaries here are sharper than you'd like.

Sorting Out the 49ers' Backfield

Despite a broken finger, it seems like Elijah Mitchell has a chance to play this week. But with two missed practices for Mitchell, we should discuss what we'd do were he to sit.

The other key here is that JaMycal Hasty missed last week and hasn't practiced Wednesday or Thursday, either. Hasty is the passing-game back. If he and Mitchell both miss, that opens up a lot of real estate for Jeff Wilson.

Wilson is a back the San Francisco 49ers have trusted in the past in high-leverage situations. Over the final 5 games of last year, Wilson averaged 4.2 targets per game to go with his 15.2 carries, and that came with Raheem Mostert healthy for most of that stretch. He also had a 36.0% red-zone share.

If both Mitchell and Hasty were to sit, Wilson would have the potential to check all three of our boxes as the next man up while getting targets and goal-line work. It's less of a certainty than it is with Dillon, Conner, and Ingram, which keeps Wilson from ascending to the top of our list, but it's fully within his range of outcomes.

As such, if Wilson has the backfield to himself, we need exposure. The uncertainty around his role would put a lid on said exposure levels, but we'd be silly to pass up Wilson given the role he could potentially have.

If Mitchell plays, we can still get exposure to this matchup via the passing game. In two games since George Kittle returned, he has shown that he belongs back near the top of our list at tight end.

Past 2 Games Overall Targets Deep Targets RZ Targets
George Kittle 25.9% 28.6% 28.6%
Deebo Samuel 24.1% 14.3% 0.0%
Brandon Aiyuk 20.7% 42.9% 14.3%

The salary's a bit high on Deebo Samuel, and you'd like more targets before trusting Brandon Aiyuk in a run-first offense. But Kittle absolutely stands out at $6,800.

The Raiders Without Henry Ruggs

Field-stretchers matter a lot in the NFL, so removing Henry Ruggs from the Las Vegas Raiders' offense is a significant change. It should be no surprise that the offense has taken a step back without him.

Early in the year, Derek Carr was letting it rip deep and effectively. In the two games without Ruggs, though, both his aDOT and his Passing NEP per drop back have slid in the wrong direction.

Carr in 2021 Passing NEP/P aDOT
First 7 games 0.28 9.0
Past 2 Games -0.06 6.4

Those games were against the league's 13th- and 24th-ranked pass defenses by numberFire's metrics. We can say pretty definitively that this offense isn't what it was earlier in the year.

That pushes Carr out of play and lowers the appeal of everybody else in the offense. The one guy who still could grade out well is Darren Waller. Waller's volume in this span hasn't been absurd, but it has been fine for his position.

Past 2 Games Overall Targets Deep Targets RZ Targets
Darren Waller 22.5% 23.1% 18.8%
Hunter Renfrow 22.5% 15.4% 31.3%
Kenyan Drake 13.8% 0.0% 18.8%

The yardage upside equation seems to favor other tight ends in the $6,000 range over Waller, but he does have a big game in his range of outcomes still.

The lack of enthusiasm over the Raiders is a bummer given the appeal of the Cincinnati Bengals. You can make a strong case for any and all of Joe Burrow, Ja'Marr Chase, Joe Mixon, and Tee Higgins. Given the high total and tight spread, you should give all of them a look. But if you're looking for a bring-back on the other side, it's basically Waller or bust.