FanDuel Single-Game Daily Fantasy Football Helper: Week 9 Monday Night (Ravens at Saints)
The final matchup of Week 9 is expected to be a close one, with the visiting Baltimore Ravens favored by just 1.5 points over the New Orleans Saints. A solid 46.5 over/under suggests that this game could have some back-and-forth potential, though both teams are dealing with a plethora of injuries.
For those unfamiliar, single-game slates feature five flex spots with identical scoring to the main slate. However, kickers are included in these contests, and there is an "MVP" roster slot. The MVP receives 1.5-times his total fantasy points, making this spot crucial.
Our Brandon Gdula has done a deep dive on single-game strategy, and we have projections for the single-game slate if you select the game from the slate tab. It's worth checking out both of those things before you make your lineups.
Lamar Jackson ($17,000) leads numberFire's projections, but the truth is that production has really tailed off since back-to-back outbursts of 40-plus FanDuel points in Weeks 2 and 3. Jackson has fallen below 20 FanDuel points in four of his last five games, averaging only 177.2 passing yards while tossing 5 touchdowns to 4 interceptions.
That should give us some pause with rostering Jackson as an MVP, particularly because he'll still be a popular play regardless. It also doesn't help that he'll be missing pass-catchers Rashod Bateman and Mark Andrews, leaving him thin on weapons.
The good news is that Jackson continues to be the gold standard as a runner, averaging 9.4 carries and 69.1 rushing yards per game. Not only is that the highest per-game rushing yardage among quarterbacks, but it's the league's 13th-highest clip across all positions.
Even if Jackson doesn't produce much through the air, he could still lead the slate in scoring with a big night on the ground.
The other chalk MVP choice will be New Orleans' Alvin Kamara ($15,500), who's projected for the second-most FanDuel points. After failing to hit paydirt all season, positive touchdown regression finally came all at once for Kamara in Week 8, with the dynamic back tallying three scores (one rushing and two receiving) on his way to 38.3 points.
After dealing with a rib issue early in the season, Kamara has now averaged 17.8 rushes and 8.5 targets over his last four games, and he's converted that into 194, 124, 105, and 158 scrimmage yards over that span. The volume alone could lead to another high score, and as an added bonus, the Ravens rank 22nd in schedule-adjusted rush defense, per numberFire's metrics.
After those two, there's a fairly big drop-off to Andy Dalton ($15,000), but he rounds out the top three in our model.
While Dalton has predictably been an unspectacular fantasy play this season, he did score 29.54 points in a shootout versus Arizona, so you never know. That being said, he threw the ball 47 times in that game, and that isn't a likely outcome in a matchup that rates as one of the week's worst in both pace and pass rate.
Perhaps Dalton can be considered at MVP strictly as a way to avoid the mega chalk of Jackson and Kamara, but he's better suited as a flex play in most scenarios.
Instead, Chris Olave ($13,000) is arguably the top non-Kamara Saints option to roster at MVP.
He leads the team in both target share (26.3%) and air yards share (42.2%), averaging 5.6 downfield targets (10-plus air yards) per game. Although Olave hasn't had that massive fantasy week yet, he's seen double-digit targets three times and has recorded at least 80 receiving yards or a touchdown in five of seven. He doesn't have much competition, either, as Michael Thomas is out for the year, and Jarvis Landry ($7,500) is questionable and hasn't played since Week 4.
Of Baltimore's healthy pass-catchers, it's actually Isaiah Likely ($7,500) who could be the best MVP candidate as the fill-in for Mark Andrews. With Andrews bowing out early in Week 8, Likely would go on to play a season-high 66.2% of the snaps and catch 6 of 7 targets for 77 yards and a score. He would ultimately lead the team in air yards share (35.2%) and downfield targets (4).
A hyped-up player in the preseason, Likely could be a direct one-for-one replacement for Andrews tonight, giving him intriguing upside.
Duvernay and Robinson will be the top two wideouts, and in the three weeks that Bateman has missed all or most of, Duvernay has garnered a 17.2% target share while Robinson has been at 16.1%. Neither one has accumulated much yardage this season, so they would presumably need to find the end zone to crack the optimal lineup. Note that Robinson is questionable, though, so keep an eye on his status.
Gus Edwards isn't expected to play, leaving Drake as the lead back. He's logged 10-11 carries three times this season, and that's roughly what he's being projected for tonight. Justice Hill ($7,000) should also see some work in what should still be a split backfield.
For a dart throw, Baltimore wide receiver James Proche ($5,000) could also be considered after logging a 62.2% snap rate and 68.3% route rate in Week 8. Given all the injuries, if DeSean Jackson ($6,000) is active, you might toss him into a large-field tourney lineup just in case he's still capable of busting out for a long touchdown.
Hill is a complete wild card as always, averaging just a 22.0% snap rate but capable of rushing, receiving, or throwing a touchdown on any given night. In Week 8, he logged 10 carries, 2 targets, and 1 pass attempt, and perhaps he will benefit from Mark Ingram being out.
All the non-Olave pass-catchers are tough to predict, and even more so if Landry is back. Prior to his ankle issue, Landry saw a 19.4% target share in the first two weeks, but he could see a reduced role initially. Smith might be the most reliable option by default, as Callaway saw a reduced snap rate last week, and Johnson will now have to share tight end duties with Adam Trautman ($5,000).
With both teams battling injuries, we could certainly end up with a lower-scoring game, leading to high outputs from kickers Justin Tucker ($10,000) and Wil Lutz ($9,000). In fact, Tucker is projected for the fifth-most FanDuel points, which is telling in and of itself.
Given that this could also be a run-heavy game, the defenses aren't quite as appealing. But in a lineup build that assumes the Ravens get out to a big lead and force Dalton to air it out, the Baltimore D/ST ($9,500) becomes more attractive.