Each week I plan to give you what I feel are the best FanDuel plays at each position, as well as the plays that I am staying away from. My DFS methodology is a little different than the typical player. I don’t make separate cash and tournament lineups. I simply make the best possible lineup that I can, period. I feel like it distracts me too much to make different lineups for different contest types. I end up splitting up plays I really like for the sake of qualifying a guy as cash or tourney. Therefore, I put together the best lineup I can with the best plays, and that’s what you will see reflected in this article. With that said, I primarily enter GPPs, with anywhere from one to four lineups each week on with a mix of my core plays.
If you’re looking for DraftKings plays, check out Neil’s GridIron Gang article which posts every Thursday.
Week 6 NFL FanDuel Plays
My top overall quarterback this week is Cam Newton ($8,900). That is assuming he clears the leagues concussion protocol. At this point it looks like he will. Newton has a dream matchup against the New Orleans Saints in a dome. I shouldn’t need to convince you that Newton is a good play this week. He’s in the highest over/under, against the Saints porous defense. From a raw fantasy points perspective, Newton is head and shoulders above the rest in just about every projection model I’ve looked at this week. Just play him.
The next two quarterbacks on my list, I prefer naked. Hopefully you’re aware of the new fad of using the term “naked” when describing quarterbacks in DFS and didn’t just label me a perv. If you’re not, it basically means using them alone, and not pairing them with one or more of their receiving options in a stack. Anyways, those two guys are Tom Brady ($9,000) and Drew Brees ($8,500).
The angry Brady narrative has almost become so real that it could be considered fact. He wasted no time doing work, but surely we all knew that would happen against the Browns. He threw for over 400 yards and 3 touchdowns and it barely looked like he was trying. This week he faces a decent team in the Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals aren’t great at any one thing, but their scheme can slow down an opponent’s primary weapons. The problem with their matchup this week against the Patriots is that there are a lot of weapons. They have the obvious weapons, Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman, but Brady has made a career of making average joe’s into excellent NFL players. If the Bengals focus on shutting down those two, Brady still has Chris Hogan, James White, and Martellus Bennett. My point is, there are a lot of places for Brady to beat the Bengals, and who knows where the production will come from – we just know it will start with Brady. That is why I prefer him naked this week.
It’s a very similar situation for Brees. I’ve featured him on both sides of this column this year, but at home in a game where he’s going to have to play keep up, we can predict he’ll be forced to throw a lot. The Panthers have been beatable through the air. The volume should be here for Brees, and with more opportunity comes more expected fantasy points. Brees has used a ton of weapons this year, and I don’t feel good trying to pinpoint who he will lean on here, so I’m fine just using him and hoping he throws five touchdowns to five different receivers.
I have a gut feeling that Brock Osweiler ($6,900) is going to break out of his slump this week. I don’t know if I’ll actually be able to stomach Osweiler come Sunday, but something about the matchup, and the weapons he has available, leads me to believe that he will have a good game at a cheap price. The Indianapolis Colts are one of four teams that are giving up over 300 yards per game through the air. They also don’t generate pressure, as they have a total of 7 sacks through 5 games. That lack of pressure allows a quarterback to make better decisions, which shows, as they’re tied for a league low one interception on the season. Osweiler should have plenty of time to find an open receiver and he has excellent receivers to find.
This week I’ll probably be looking to pay up at both running back spots. I’ve thought the same thing early in the week a few times before, but typically find myself going with a cheaper RB2. I think this will finally be the week that my final roster will have two of the higher priced running backs.
Of course that all starts with Le’Veon Bell ($9,300). I may end up skipping over Bell to save money, but that doesn’t change my mind that he’ll be a solid play. I will be more likely to get my exposure to Bell on DraftKings. While I think a lot of people will be looking to the Pittsburgh passing game, Bell actually is in the best spot. The Miami Dolphins are dead last in rush yards per game against at a tick over 150. We have the most talented back in the league against the worst rush defense through five weeks. Get as much exposure to him as you can.
You can save $500 and roster DeMarco Murray ($8,800). Murray had his worst FanDuel fantasy points output of the year last week, and he had 27 rushes for 127 yards and also caught 5 balls for 16 yards. Not a bad “worst game” huh? His usage is pretty much set in stone. Murray is right there alongside Bell as one of the safest plays of the week. A matchup against the Cleveland Browns should entice you to roster him that much more. The Browns are bottom-10 in the league in rushing yards per game against, but that doesn’t begin to tell the story of how bad they are.
The trend this week is top-tier running backs versus the bottom tier run defenses. That gives credence to my strategy to pay up at both RB spots. Next up is LeSean McCoy ($8,200). McCoy’s opponent, the San Francisco 49ers, are 2nd worst in the league, giving up almost 147 yards per game on the ground. McCoy has been another usage monster, with no fewer than 20 touches in any one game. The Bills are most comfortable when Tyrod Taylor doesn’t have to throw the ball more than 20-25 times. In this game, they shouldn’t need to. They will be more than happy to feed McCoy and give him every opportunity he needs to produce a great fantasy outing. For $1,100 cheaper than Bell, it’s tempting to go here instead.
Todd Gurley ($7,900) hasn’t been as good as many expected, but it’s not for not having the opportunities. Gurley has been more involved the last three weeks with 80 total touches. Against the Detroit Lions giving defense, Gurley shouldn’t have as much trouble finding room to run as he has in other games this year. The guy is still an uber talent, he’s just in an offense that doesn’t have much around him. He’ll be overlooked this week and I think that’s a mistake. McCoy and Gurley may very well end up being the two guys I end up on come Sunday, as they have just as much upside as the two above them.
If you forced me to pick a “cheaper” guy this week, it would probably be Giovani Bernard ($5,700). I think the Bengals are going to be playing from behind and therefore, Bernard will be involved in the passing game. He has the upside to help you win a tournament, but his floor isn’t one that you’d feel comfortable with.
While I do like some of the higher priced receiver options, I’m going to need some value if I’m paying up at running back. I’ll go ahead and mention that I do like Allen Robinson ($8,600), but I’m not sure I’ll pay up for him. I also still think that Odell Beckham Jr. ($8,300) is going to have a huge game anytime now, but I will probably cross my fingers and hope it waits one more week. I won’t fault you for playing him this week though.
Where I am leaning towards starting my wide receivers is Kelvin Benjamin ($7,800). He’s the perfect pairing with Newton in a dream matchup. I also think more people will stack Greg Olsen with Newton and overlook Benjamin a bit after a couple of weeks of average games. Benjamin is a freak; he’s fast, athletic, and tall. He’s thousands of dollars cheaper than the top guys, but there’s no reason he can’t keep up with them in terms of fantasy points. He’ll be a big part of a high total and probably get around 10 targets from the highest projected quarterback. He’s a solid play.
The next guy I’m looking at may be my absolute favorite WR play of the week. Amari Cooper ($7,100) saw his price drop after catching six balls on 12 targets, producing 138 yards and a touchdown. That’s probably because he’s facing the Kansas City Chiefs. They have faced three elite wide receivers and a fourth borderline elite receiver who probably only hasn’t reached that level because of injury. Those four, in order they faced them, are Keenan Allen, DeAndre Hopkins, Brandon Marshall, and Antonio Brown. Allen had 6-63-0 before going down for in the 2nd quarter to a season ending injury. Hopkins went for 7-113-1. Brown was 4-64-2, with all of that basically in the first quarter before the Steelers cruised to victory. Marshall was the only one who didn’t have a good game, but that’s the same game Ryan Fitzpatrick threw six interceptions. My point is that against highly skilled receivers, the Chiefs have struggled. For those of us who had really been watching Cooper before last week, we knew he would get things going. He has been winning so many matchups all year by pure skill, size, and speed. He has the tools to be elite, but he’s priced well below that line. I will be all over him until his price corrects itself.
I mentioned above that I didn’t mind Osweiler this week in a Texans stack, but I like Will Fuller ($6,900) with or without the stack. Fuller was horrible against Minnesota last week, but find me a receiver who hasn’t been against the Vikings. In his three home games he has 27 targets, 16 catches, 292 yards and two touchdowns. Now he gets to take on the 4th worst pass defense in the league. Even Vontae Davis hasn’t looked good this year. Assuming Davis gets things figured out, I think he’ll be lined up primarily against DeAndre Hopkins ($8,100) (who I also don’t mind), which will leave Fuller to have his way with everyone else. You can start your wide receivers with Cooper and Fuller and only spend $14,000, while having two guys who could both realistically have 100+ yard and two touchdown games.
NOTE: Fuller is not expected to play tonight.
If you want to really have a sweat on Sunday, roster Tavon Austin ($5,700). The masses are going to be on the next guy I mention, which makes Austin a solid pivot. His floor is next to nothing, but he does contain some upside. We also know that he’s going to get the ball thrown his way, as he’s averaged eight targets per game through five games. Again, he’s not for the faint of heart, but he does have play-making ability and is in a great matchup.
Cameron Meredith ($5,400) is underpriced, so I’m fine with him as my WR3. He wasted no time seizing his WR2 role for the Chicago Bears after Kevin White went to the IR. Brian Hoyer still hasn’t shown any chemistry with Alshon Jeffery, but he showed plenty last week with Meredith. He will probably be popular, but I’m okay with that, as I think he’s the safest play in this range, with an upside that can match anyone (see Week 5). The matchup does scare me a bit, as the Jaguars have been exceptionally good against the pass, only giving up 199 yards per game. I don’t know if they’re as good as the numbers show, so I expect to see them giving up more than that moving forward, and Meredith doesn’t need to set the world on fire to pay off his salary.
In a perfect world we would all just pay for Greg Olsen ($8,100) this week and move on. Olsen has been a beast. His least number of targets in a game this season has been eight, and he’s been targeted 13 times twice. The Saints have been fairly decent against tight ends so far, but they haven’t played anyone near Olsen’s caliber. This will be a popular play with Newton, and for good reason. The problem is roster construction. If we pay up for Newton and Olsen, and also running back, there’s not much salary left. But far and away Olsen is the best play at the position.
The 2nd best play at tight end is Delanie Walker ($6,700). As the week goes on, I’m realizing I don’t think Walker will be very highly owned, which I can’t believe. Walker has a matchup versus the Browns, who have given up 100 yards and a touchdown to tight ends, per game in 2016. He’s much more affordable and has similar upside to Olsen, making him a sharp play.
Just above Walker is Jimmy Graham ($6,900). He has an excellent matchup versus the Falcons. After posting two straight 100-yard receiving games, I think he still might get overlooked after the buy week and due to Walker priced just below him. However, some models I’ve seen have had Graham coming in at higher ownership than Walker, which would entice me to go Walker instead. This will be a situation to keep an eye on as the weekend progresses.
The New York Giants have been pretty good against tight ends, but Dennis Pitta ($5,400) is still getting plenty of looks despite not finding the end zone yet. He’ could end up with something like six catches for 80 yards and a touchdown which would be plenty for his price.
The first defense I’m looking at for Week 6 is the Tennessee Titans ($4,700). They’ve actually been a pretty good defense overall, limiting points against and creating turnovers. There’s no reason they can’t continue that this week against the Cleveland Browns. Opposing defenses against the Browns have had 7, 8, 10, 11, and 12 fantasy points, in no particular order. That’s not setting the world on fire, but not killing you either. I think the Titans should flirt with the high-end of that range, with upside for more.
The 2nd defense I’m considering is the Philadelphia Eagles ($4,500). The Eagles gave up 21 points in their first three games before giving up 21 points in a bad half against the Lions in Week 5. So they had a bad half. They responded in the second half, giving up just three points on the Lions game winning drive. They appear to be a top-tier defense, and the Washington Redskins don’t concern me much. With Jordan Reed appearing to be lost to another concussion this weekend, Kirk Cousins will be without his trusty target. Look for the Eagles to have a solid game.
The last defense on my short list is the Baltimore Ravens ($4,500). The Ravens are another defense that have been playing well, but aren’t getting much respect. They create turnovers and Eli Manning likes to turn it over. The Giants offense seems to be sputtering right now, so the Ravens might make my final roster on Sunday.
While I normally pay down for kicker anyways, this is a week I will have to. Will Lutz ($4,500) will probably be popular in the high scoring game in New Orleans. I’m saying this without backing, but it seems like the Saints tend to end the game with a multiplier of seven quite often when at home, which makes me a little worried about Lutz. Five extra points just won’t be enough this week. The Panthers do have the ability to make some stands, and if they can, Lutz could have a big day.
Nick Novak ($4,500) has had plenty of opportunities so far this year, with 14 attempts through four games and only nine extra point attempts. The Texans offense hasn’t been able to punch it in this year and Novak has benefited. I probably won’t play him if I stack Texans (for the same reason Lutz scares me above), but he may be the guy who ends up in any other lineup.
The guy that may interest me the most is Mason Crosby ($4,600). He has been perfect across the board through four games. He’s 7-for-7 in field goals and 11-for-11 on extra points. It feels weird to say it, but the Dallas Cowboys actually have a fairly decent defense. This could be a perfect spot for Crosby to tip the field goal to extra point ratio back towards the former. If you’ve been reading this column each week, you know I’m an Aaron Rodgers hater. While they should be able to move the ball, the Cowboys are likely to make a few stands on their side of the field, leading to a few Crosby attempts.
Week 2 Stay Aways
Back to Aaron Rodgers ($8,800). Can you believe it?! Rodgers finally threw for over 216 yards for just the third time in 13 games, with 259 yards against the Giants in Week 5 during the Sunday Night prime time game. That’s now his 13th consecutive game under 300 yards. I mean, Brian Hoyer has thrown for 300 yards in three consecutive weeks. Rodgers also threw for two touchdowns and two interceptions. That now makes five touchdowns and three interceptions in the seven halves outside of the fluky four touchdown first half against the Lions.
Look, I’m really not a Rodgers hater in real life. I don’t mind the guy at all. It’s just that he’s not an elite fantasy quarterback right now, and who knows if he will be again. Yet, FanDuel continues to price him like he is. Like the last 13 games haven’t happened. It’s eerily similar to the Tiger Woods’ situation. He was elite, but fell off a massive cliff (largely due to injury). For the next two years or so, he was no longer that elite golfer he once was. Simply a shell of himself. Yet the general consensus around Woods was that he was still that elite player and should be in contention every weekend. (Full disclosure: I was one who didn’t want to admit he wasn’t the Tiger I knew anymore.)
If you were willing to say he was in a serious funk, you were in the minority. Well, I’m in that minority with Rodgers. We have a large enough sample size to see that something’s wrong here. Until FanDuel realizes that too, he’s not roster worthy except on your 10th tournament team.
NOTE: Draftkings is starting to catch on and have priced him down a little this week, just not far enough.)
Ben Roethlisberger ($8,700) is the other high-priced quarterback that I’m not too interested in. His home/road splits are substantial, and he’s let us down in a big way after two good games before. Back in 2014, Roethlisberger had back to back six touchdown efforts at home with zero interceptions. He looked unstoppable with over 865 yards in those two games combined. Everyone was on him the next week in another juicy matchup. The only problem was that game was on the road. His home/road split reared its ugly head as he threw one touchdown and two interceptions. He followed that up with a 207 yard one touchdown, one interception game, on the road again. This feels eerily similar to that. He will have quite a bit of ownership and I just think it’s the perfect time to move on to guys who will be less owned in better spots.
Ezekiel Elliott ($8,100) continues to get better and better and I continue to say that each week. He’s been a staple in my plays section, but this will be the week I stay away. Will I be surprised if he has 100 yards and a touchdown or two this week? Absolutely not. However, the Packers rush defense has been elite so far. They have given up 170 yards and one touchdown to opposing RBs, in FOUR GAMES. Granted, they haven’t faced anyone close to Elliott or this offensive line. However, due to the upside and matchups that the other top-tier running backs have, I would rather just take a week off from Elliott.
Jordan Howard ($7,700) has been pretty dang good the past two weeks since his number was called. This is another “stay away” that I don’t hate; there are just extenuating circumstances that will lead me to look elsewhere. First off, I would much rather play Howard on DraftKings, where he’s only $6,200. Due to that price, I’ll go ahead and just play him there and fade him on FanDuel. I’m not ready to put him in that same price tier as the Elliott/Gurley/McCoy’s of the world. Easy for me to just pay from $200-$500 more for those guys.
I’ll gladly stay away from Terrance West ($6,500). I think that ship sailed two weeks ago. Last week he only had 11 carries, and while the game script may favor him more this week, I think Kenneth Dixon will start seeing more carries and cutting into West’s share. Way too low of a floor for me here with what I consider to be a fairly low ceiling.
You may have noticed that I didn’t include Antonio Brown ($9,700) as one of my plays above for only the 2nd time this season. The other time I didn’t include him there, and instead featured him in the “stay aways,” Brown had his worst game of the year, 4-39-0. I hate not playing him because I know it doesn’t matter who he’s playing, where he’s playing them, or whatever else narrative is at play – he could go nuts. However, as I mentioned above, Roethlisberger isn’t the same away from home. I think this is a Bell game and expect a mediocre game from the Steelers through the air. We’re playing with fire here, but I think there are HUGE savings available for wide receivers who can outscore Brown this week.
Well, that’s it for this week. Be sure to follow me on twitter if you want to get any updates from me on which way I’m leaning on some of these plays once Sunday gets here. Follow @mrclutchdfs
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