4 Daily Fantasy Football Matchups to Exploit in Week 9
When playing daily fantasy football, we should be matchup sensitive when rostering players. One star player can go from a great play to a horrible one based on his opponents and the specific individual matchup might play a huge role in that. Since we can play any player we want on a given slate, it makes sense to pick players in the best matchups. This will raise both their floor and their ceiling, and should lead to us having some winning lineups.
We have a half-season worth of data to work with now, and it will help us identify the best matchups.
Minnesota's Passing Game against Washington's Pass Defense
The Minnesota Vikings are 6-1 but don't seem to have a lot of hype around them as potential Super Bowl contenders. Their only loss was to the undefeated Philadelphia Eagles, but they perhaps have underperformed in games in which they should have blown out weaker opponents.
If they are going to get a big win this week, it should come through the passing game. Kirk Cousins ($7,900) has been solid but unspectacular this season, ranking as QB12 in points per game. What makes him appealing is the weapons he has to work with.
Justin Jefferson ($9,000) is third in the league in receiving yards despite Minnesota already having their bye week. He is the WR5 in half-PPR scoring but has just one touchdown since Week 1. This should regress, as he is fourth in red zone targets among wide receivers. Adam Thielen ($6,200) has seen seven targets in every game since Week 1 and has 10 red zone targets with just two touchdowns on the season.
The Vikings face off against the Washington Commanders this week. Washington's defense is one that funnels opponents to the passing game. They rank first against the run, according to numberFire's metrics, but 26th against the pass. In adjusted-fantasy points per drop back, they are 29th. If you want to take a walk down narrative street, this will be Kirk Cousins' first game back in Washington after they let him walk in free agency in 2018, and he may still have a chip on his shoulder about how that went down.
Jefferson might get some play, but it's hard to imagine many people going to Cousins or Thielen because they have yet to show a huge ceiling this season. This could be the spot for them both to have their best game of the year.
Green Bay's Ground Game Against Detroit's Rush D
Most of the conversation around the Green Bay Packers is about Aaron Rodgers. He hasn't performed well this season, and Green Bay's wide receivers are lacking stars and have had numerous injuries. This week, they shouldn't need Rodgers to win the game for them.
Probably the most talented Packer in the skill positions is Aaron Jones ($7,800). He's coming off a game where he rushed for 143 yards against a tough Buffalo Bills defense. It was his third 100-yard game already this season. He's very involved in the through the air, as well, with at least three targets in every game and 15 over the last two weeks.
The Packers have leaned on A.J. Dillon ($6,100) more this season than in year's past. He has at least 10 carries in six of eight games and also has 21 targets on the season. If the Packers are trying to salt the game away, they could be doing it with Dillon. The only time they've really been in position to churn out clock was Week 2 against the Chicago Bears, and Dillon saw a season-high 18 carries in that one.
The reason the Packers might be looking to just run the ball for a majority of the second half is because they face the Detroit Lions this week. We are probably going to pick on the Lions every week, as they rank last across the board in all of our defensive numbers. Specifically against running backs, they are 31st in adjusted fantasy points per carry.
Jones has a great ceiling in this game, and his $7,800 salary isn't too restrictive. He's a fantastic play this week, while Dillon is a bit of a longshot play, best reserved for large-field GPPs.
Austin Ekeler Versus the Atlanta Run Defense
With the way things have shaken out going into Week 9, Austin Ekeler ($9,400) might be the Los Angeles Chargers' entire offense. They already relied on him a ton, but now with Mike Williams out and Keenan Allen not practicing all week, Ekeler's volume could be immense.
Ekeler has already seen 65 targets in seven games, a truly mind-boggling number. It's 17 more than any other back, and the Chargers have already had their bye. His 56 receptions are third for any player at any position. He's been finding the end zone, too, with seven touchdowns in his last four games. When a back has this pass-game role and red-zone usage, it's hard for them to fail in fantasy.
This week, the Atlanta Falcons will try to slow down Ekeler. They haven't done a good job of stopping backs this season, as they rank 26th in rush defense and 24th in adjusted-fantasy points per carry. In adjusted-fantasy points per target to running backs, they are 19th. With the number of targets Ekeler sees, that could lead to him having a lot of success.
The Chargers will likely be down to Josh Palmer and DeAndre Carter as their top two receivers. Ekeler figures to be Justin Herbert's favorite target, and when you combine that with his work on the ground, he will probably see loads of opportunities in this game.
New England's Defense vs Indianapolis' Offense
In classic New England Patriots style, they looked horrible in Week 7 and bounced back with a division win in Week 8. That win was largely due to their defense exploiting a young quarterback who was prone to mistakes. This week could be a similar story.
The New England D/ST ($4,900) caused all sorts of problems for Zach Wilson last week. They forced him to throw three interceptions and take two sacks. This defense has at least one interception in every game since Week 2. They also have been getting after the quarterback effectively, ranking second in pressure rate.
The Patriots will face the Indianapolis Colts and Sam Ehlinger, who is making his first career road start. Ehlinger wasn't awful a week ago, but that was against the aforementioned Washington D. And this week, Ehlinger will have to do it without Jonathan Taylor, who will miss this game.
The Colts' offensive line is 24th in adjusted sack rate allowed this season. Now they have to face a defense coached by Bill Belichick, who has a fantastic track record against rookie quarterbacks, and they can't ride their most talented offensive player (Taylor). Things could get ugly for the Colts and Ehlinger.
Using lots of salary at defense is an interesting way to get contrarian in tournaments, and plugging in the Pats' D/ST is a high-upside move 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.