FanDuel Daily Fantasy Football Helper: Week 9
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 this week's top plays of the slate.
Josh Allen ($9,300 on FanDuel): Seeing as both Jalen Hurts and Patrick Mahomes are off the main slate, it isn't surprising to see Allen lead numberFire's projections by a country mile. His median projection is nearly 4 points higher than any other player across all positions, and he's fallen below 24 FanDuel points just once all season. Needless to say, he's well worth making room for despite his lofty salary.
It's hard to nitpick just about anything in Allen's fantasy profile. Not only is he efficient through the air -- ranking third in Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per drop back -- but he's part of an offense that ranks second in pass rate over expectation, leading to him averaging the league's most passing yards per game (314.0). He continues to pile up the rushing yards, as well, averaging 7.6 carries and 43.7 yards per game on the ground. Only three signal-callers are running for more yards than Allen this season.
The Bills are 11.5-point road favorites over the Jets, so there's some blowout risk on Sunday. However, Allen's best fantasy weeks have come in easy wins over the Rams (33.48 FanDuel points), Titans (29.68), and Steelers (36.16), all games in which Buffalo won by at least 21 points.
Their first game was a huge letdown from a fantasy perspective -- the teams combined for just one offensive touchdown -- but there was the potential for so much more. The Seahawks had four of their drives result in short field goals, while the Cardinals kicked a 23-yarder and failed to convert three fourth down conversions deep in enemy territory. Murray also had a fumble recovered on Seattle's 19-yard line. Welp.
Perhaps these teams will do a better job of finishing drives this time around, and this game once again looks great on paper, as it's the week's third-best in combined pace.
Murray has been a mixed bag in both fantasy and real life, but he's still the QB6 this season, averaging just over 20 FanDuel points per game. He's running at a healthy clip, averaging 6.4 rushes and 37.4 yards per game, and the return of DeAndre Hopkins is already looking like a significant boost for this offense after just two games.
Despite the lack of production by the Cardinals in the first matchup, the Seahawks still sit just 25th in schedule-adjusted pass defense, per numberFire's metrics.
Aaron Rodgers ($7,000): Rodgers hasn't scored more than 18 FanDuel points in any game this year, so I'm skeptical of his ceiling in this moribund Packers offense. But he projects as the best quarterback value in numberFire's model, and if he's ever going to have a spike week, it's against the Lions.
Detroit ranks 32nd in adjusted pass defense, and they've allowed the second-most FanDuel points per game to opposing quarterbacks, which includes big games by Carson Wentz (28.78), Geno Smith (31.70), and Tua Tagovailoa (29.18).
This is another game displaying an appealing 49.5 total, too, and with Green Bay coming in as a 3.5-point road favorite, they actually have the second-best implied team total (26.50).
Is all of this enough to elevate Rodgers beyond what he's shown to this point? That remains to be seen, but if Allen doesn't go off this week, we may not need an otherworldly quarterback score to contend in tournaments, and Rodgers' salary opens up plenty of possibilities at other positions.
Austin Ekeler ($9,400): The cost to roster Ekeler is really getting up there, but that's what happens when you score 30-plus FanDuel points in three of the last four games.
While his 61.4% snap rate is a bit light for this salary, he's seeing the ball more often than not when he takes the field, averaging 12.0 carries and a whopping 8.7 targets per game. Ekeler actually leads the team in target share (20.6%) and has logged double-digit targets three times already this season.
Add in that Ekeler also leads the Chargers in red zone rush share (52.0%) and is tied for a team-best 21.3% red zone target share, and it's easy to see why he's been racking up the fantasy points. With Mike Williams expected to miss several weeks and Keenan Allen still missing practices, Ekeler should continue to be the focal point of this offense.
This Chargers-Falcons game is the third one with a 49.5 total, and Ekeler should have a good chance of scoring against a team that's 31st in adjusted total defense.
Aaron Jones ($7,800): If you don't feel comfortable messing with Aaron Rodgers, opting for Jones is another way to attack this plush spot for Green Bay. Detroit stinks against the pass, but they're just as bad defending the run, ranking 32nd in adjusted rush defense and allowing the third-most FanDuel points per game to running backs.
While A.J. Dillon is still getting his share of work, the scales have tipped in Jones' favor lately. Over the past two games, Jones has averaged a 70.0% snap rate, 14.0 carries, and 7.5 targets, helping him to a two-touchdown game in Week 7 and 157 scrimmage yards in Week 8.
Jones projects as one of the better point-per-dollar values in numberFire's model this weekend.
Travis Etienne ($7,600): With James Robinson already getting phased out prior to being dealt to the Jets, we've seen Etienne emerge as Jacksonville's workhorse back over the past two weeks, and he's averaged a massive 140.5 scrimmage yards off of a 79.2% snap rate, 19.0 carries, and 4.0 targets. He's also the clear favorite to get touches in the red zone, logging a 68.8% red zone rush share over that span.
We'll take that volume all day at this salary, and this Raiders-Jaguars matchup has a solid 47.5 over/under with a tight spread. While Las Vegas is more vulnerable against the pass, they're still just a league-average adjusted rush defense, so Etienne should be able to have another productive day at the office.
Deon Jackson ($5,000): Jonathan Taylor has already been ruled out this week, so Jackson pops as a no-brainer value at this near-minimum cap hit. Not only is Taylor out, but with Nyheim Hines being traded and newcomer Zack Moss unlikely to play a big role yet, Jackson is being pegged as "the guy" for Week 9.
In his two games playing over 50% of the snaps, Jackson averaged 106.0 scrimmage yards on 12.5 carries and 7.0 targets, and chances are he'll be asked to do that and then some as the last man standing. While there's a question of how well this offense can move the ball against the Patriots with Sam Ehlinger at the helm, Jackson's volume won't be in question this weekend.
Tyreek Hill ($8,700): Hill has emphatically squashed any concerns about his fantasy upside without Mahomes, averaging 120.1 receiving yards and 8.6 receptions off 11.5 targets per game. He leads Miami with a 32.5% target share and 40.8% air yards share, and that includes a hefty 5.8 downfield targets (10-plus air yards) per game. Incredibly, Hill is already nearing 1,000 receiving yards midway into the season.
Hill has hit 20 or more FanDuel points in four of his eight starts -- and that's with him scoring just two touchdowns all year. The Bears sit just 22nd in adjusted pass defense and are unlikely to contain the dynamic wideout. Hill easily tops numberFire's wide receiver projections this week.
DeAndre Hopkins ($8,600): In two games, Hopkins has wasted no time proving that he's still got it, averaging 131.0 receiving yards and 11.0 receptions thus far. With double-digit targets in both weeks, D-Hop has soaked up a 39.1% target share and 53.0% air yards share and has firmly reestablished himself as Kyler Murray's top option. As those air yards would suggest, Murray hasn't been shy about chucking it deep to Hopkins, who has averaged 6.0 downfield targets since returning.
If this Seattle-Arizona turns into a shootout, Hopkins will almost certainly be at the center of it. He has a top-five wide receiver projection for Sunday.
Chris Godwin ($6,700): The Buccaneers and Rams haven't exactly been lighting it up on offense this year, and the result is a middling 42.5 total. However, the good news is that this matchup actually rates as the slate's best in terms of both pace and pass rate, so perhaps there's some hope that these teams can unearth some points.
Despite Tampa Bay's recent woes, Tom Brady leads the league in pass attempts, averaging 42.5 passes and 283.4 yards per game. While some touchdown regression was to be expected entering the season, Brady's touchdown rate sits at just 2.6% through eight weeks, which ranks 29th among qualified starters. With just one multi-touchdown game so far, regression should swing the other way for Brady sooner rather than later.
All of this is to say that the Bucs' pass-catchers could still produce this weekend, and Godwin is an ideal target at his mid-range salary. The wide receiver has seen double-digit targets in three straight weeks, leading the team with a 28.3% target share over that stretch. While he's a distant second to Mike Evans in air yards share (43.9% vs. 26.5%) during this time, Godwin is still seeing his share of chunk plays, averaging 3.7 downfield targets per game.
Joshua Palmer ($6,200): Even with Keenan Allen out for the majority of the season, Palmer has put up modest results in an increased role for the Chargers, but this could be his best opportunity yet with Mike Williams out of the picture for multiple weeks. As is, in his four fully healthy games without Allen, Palmer has logged an encouraging 85.6% snap rate, 92.6% route rate, and 20.0% target share.
Now the de facto number one wideout, Palmer should contend with Ekeler for the team-high in targets, and this is an ideal spot for him to have a breakout performance. The Falcons not only rank 30th in adjusted pass defense, but they've allowed the second-most FanDuel points per game to opposing wide receivers.
Gerald Everett ($5,800): We're once again without Travis Kelce and Mark Andrews on the main slate, so we don't need to worry about allocating a ton of resources toward the position. The Chargers' injuries at wideout could lead to more looks for Everett, who's averaged a respectable 6.4 targets per game (15.2% share). Everett is also third on the team in red zone targets behind Ekeler and Mike Williams, so the absence of Williams should further increase his chances of scoring inside the 20.
Robert Tonyan ($5,000): Tonyan figures to be the chalk value option at the position, and he's the easy way to gain exposure to the Packers' cushy matchup versus the Lions. Outside of a surprise 12-target, 10-catch outburst against the Jets in Week 6, Tonyan's production has left a lot to be desired, but he's seen a slight uptick in snaps over the last three weeks, including a season-best 74.6% clip last week. Overall, he has a 15.5% target share this season, and Detroit has been one of the worst teams at defending tight ends.
Cincinnati D/ST ($4,400): Despite trading away Christian McCaffrey and Robbie Anderson and starting backup quarterback P.J. Walker, the Panthers have shown some surprising fight over the last two weeks and were an extra point (and overtime field goal) away from earning back-to-back wins.
But Walker has been a career backup to this point for a reason, and it's not like he's played behind elite competition. As 7.5-point road underdogs, Walker will likely be forced to throw, and this Bengals defense should be much tougher to convert against than the Falcons' woeful unit.
Although Cincinnati is missing some key pieces in the secondary, this has been a top-10 unit in numberFire's rankings this season, and they're projected for the third-most fantasy points at defense.
Miami D/ST ($3,600): Miami's defense is the standout value by a wide margin, and they should be a popular way to save some cap space.
That's because they're up against Justin Fields, who continues to get sacked at an alarming rate despite playing in a low-volume passing offense. Even while averaging just 19.9 pass attempts per game, Fields leads the league in sacks (31) with a 16.3% sack rate, and he's also tied for the most fumbles (11) and the sixth-most interceptions (6).