Rather than rehash my DraftKings’ Perfect Lineup, I’m going to think outside the box for Fanduel this week. This week in the daily games will be Ezekiel Elliott ($9,200), Aaron Rodgers ($9,100), and Charcandrick West ($6,400) will be popular plays based on matchup, opportunity, and price point. I’m going to fade all three players to hopefully gain an edge in ownership.
Elliott failed to score a TD for the second straight game against the Eagles. He finished with 148 combined yards with four catches. Ezekiel had a second high four catches while setting a career high in receiving yards (52). Elliott continues to get elite touches (24.9 per game). Over the last five games, he averaged 132 yards per game. RBs have 12 TDs vs. the Browns while gaining 4.8 yards per rush. Game score leads to a high volume of runs vs. Cleveland (30.25 per game). Over the last five games, RBs have 183 combined yards per game against vs. the Browns with 29 catches. Excellent matchup for Ezekiel with multi TD upside if Dak doesn't steal his TDs.
Rodgers has the 3rd highest scoring average at QB after seven games. Last week he had his best game of the seasons thanks four TDs, 60 rushing yards, a two-point conversion, and 246 yards passing. His completion rate has regained its form over the last three games (73.8, 69.6, and 73.7) to raise his season average to 64.0 percent. His yards per pass attempt (6.3) remains in the shortest area of his career. Aaron is on pace for 39 TDs. Four teams have passed for over 300 yards vs. the Colts, which surprisingly all came at home. QBs have plus completion rate (66.8) against Indy with six team passing for two TDs or more. The Packers have some question marks at WR, but weakness at RB due to injuries. Rodgers should have a floor of three TDs with more upside if Randall Cobb and Ty Montgomery return to action. Moving in the right direction, but Aaron needs to more big plays.
West could be the Week 9 darling if Spencer Ware isn't cleared from his concussion. Last week Charcandrick was on the field for 42 of 74 plays leading to 50 combined yards on 16 touches with two catches. The Chiefs' RBs have 1117 combined yards with six TDs and 38 catches. This works out to about 160 yards with 5.4 catches and 0.85 TDs per game (26.5 Fantasy points per game in PPR leagues). Jacksonville allowed a rushing TD in each game in 2016 (nine total) with failure in their last two games (358 rushing yards and four TDs). In addition, RBs have 37 catches for 188 yards on 56 targets. With Ware out this week, West doesn’t have any competition for snaps. Priced to pay off while being a high percentage own.
By fading Elliott, I’m taking a stance in favor of Dak Prescott ($7,600). The Browns have allowed four TDs a game in six straight contests. Four teams have over 300 yards passing against the Cowboys with teams gaining 8.4 yards per pass attempt. They’ve allowed 19 passing TDs with four teams delivering three TDs in a game.
Dak had a tough time passing the ball last week (48.7 percent completion rate), but he completed a season high five passes for 20 yards or more with Dez Bryant back in the starting lineup. He also had his most success in the run game (7/38/1). Overall vs. the Eagles, Dak had 325 combined yards with three TDs. Over his last four games, Prescott has 10 TDs. The Browns allowed 25 points or more in each game this year with their last four opponents scoring four TDs in each game. They've show some risk vs. the run in their last three games (579 yards and six TDs) so Dallas may just run over Cleveland in this game. The Browns can be beat in the passing game as well (8.4 yards per pass and 19 TDs). Possible breakout game for Bryant.
By playing Prescott, I must place my bet that Dez Bryant ($7,800) will a big part if the Cowboys’ offense as well.
Dak Prescott gave Dez plenty of chances to make plays in Week 8 (14 targets), but he only caught four of his chances. Bryant made Philly pay when he did catch the ball (113 yards and a TD). He now has two games with over 100 yards receiving in four starts with two TDs. Over the last three games, WRs have gained 18.4 yards per catch against the Browns with five TDs. On the year, WRs have 94 catches for 1473 yards and 11 TDs on 159 targets vs. Cleveland. Dallas has a very good shot of scoring four TDs this week so Dez should be in play even if CB Joe Haden plays. High scoring ability, but he needs more playing time to get on the same page with Prescott.
Headed into this week’s game vs. the Chargers, DeMarco Murray ($8,100) has some concern with his playing time due to a toe issue in Week 8. This will lead to him being a much lower own against San Diego.
Murray suffered a toe issue last week, which may limit his upside this week. He still finished with 128 combined yards with a TD and one catch while being on the field for 39 of 60 plays. Over his last three games, DeMarco only has four combined catches compared to 26 over the first five games (5.2 per game). Over his last six games, he has over 100 yards rushing four times. On the year, Murray has eight TDs. San Diego has held rushers to fewer than 100 yards in seven of their eight games, but RBs have 11 rushing TDs. The Chargers have high risk defending backs in the passing game (66/501/2 on 79 targets). His top shelf salary and possible down tick in playing time would lead me to shying away. If healthy, DeMarco will have a reasonable floor with a bump in catches expected in this game.
This is a very favorable matchup with the Chargers’ ranking 31st in the league defending the RB position. Murray has multi TD upside and he should be much more active in the passing.
At RB2, Todd Gurley ($7,600) is a pure gamble. Gurley doesn’t have one rush over 20 yards in 2016.
Gurley has fewer than 90 yards rushing in each game this season. Todd has raised his floor due to a big jump in value in the passing game over his last four starts (10/159 on 21 targets). Overall, Gurley gains only 3.0 yards per rush with three TDs while averaging 22.1 touches per game. The Panthers haven't allowed over 3.6 yards per rush in their last six games with no team rushing five teams rushing for 90 yards or fewer. Carolina showed more risk defending RBs in their last four games (26/217 on 35 targets). Solid opportunity, but he can't make plays with reaching the second level of the defense.
Carolina struggled in Week 1 vs. RBs (181 combined yards with three TDs and five catches). The Panthers have shown risk vs. the pass in three of the last four games (503/4, 465/4, and 363/3), which may lead to a change in philosophy on defense. His touches and improved value in the passing games gives him a chance at 20+ Fantasy points if/when he breaks a long run. I’m investing in him due to opportunity with disregard to matchup and previous failures.
My decisions at the RB position will surely put me in the minority in ownership.
My stance will be the same on my defense this week as the DraftKings’ lineup.
I’m going to run back the Chiefs’ defense. Blake Bortles is prone to make mistakes with 11 Ints and six fumbles recoveries. Their pass rush showed a spark last week (six sacks). Blake has thrown nine Ints while taking 15 sacks. In addition, I like the upside of Tyreek Hill in the return game.
I will tie my defense to the kicker position as I’ve done all year so Cairo Santos ($4,700) will be a kicker of choice in Week 9.
My structure so far leave me with $19,100 in salary to fill my last two WRs and my TE. At TE, I like Kyle Rudolph ($5,000), Jake Doyle ($5,300), and Antonio Gates ($5,500).
After eight weeks, Rudolph is the 6th highest scoring TE. Over his last three games, Kyle has 12 catches for 101 yards on 21 targets. After scoring a TD in each game from Week 2 to Week 4, he's come up empty in the TD department in his last three games. Last season Rudolph had seven catches for 40 yards and two TDs on nine targets in two games against the Lions. Detroit is last in the league defending TEs in PPR leagues with three teams scoring over 20 Fantasy points (7/88/3, 8/91/1, and 10/94/1). TEs have eight TDs vs. the Lions this year. Rudolph will be a popular TE this week.
After two solid games (4/53/1 and 9/78/1), Doyle struggled to get open against the Chiefs (2/36 on three targets). Over his last three games, Jack has been on the field for 87.1 percent of the Colts' plays. On the year, Indy's TEs have 55 catches for 633 yards and six TDs on 74 targets with five games of value (7/88/3, 9/100, 8/58/1, 7/104/1, and 11/129/1). The Packers haven't given up a TD to the TE position in their last five games. Only one team had success vs. Green Bay from the TE position (JAX - 7/112/1). Coin flip, solid opportunity even if Dwayne Allen plays, but the Packers have enough talent to limit his explosiveness.
With Hunter Henry out this week, Gates will have a very good opportunity for success against the Titans. Antonio has a TD in three of his last five games with winning targets in the last two games. His catch rate (53.8) is well below his career average (66.1). Gates needs five more TDs to pass Tony Gonzalez on the all-time list. The Titans have struggled to defend TEs in three of their last five games (7/102/1, 11/129/1, and 12/92/1). Rivers will look his way near the goal line and he has a chance at winning targets.
At DraftKings, Antonio Gates would make the most sense based on his salary and recent targets. Rudolph has the most favorable matchup plus his price point is more favorable at Fanduel. Doyle may offer the most upside due to game score if the Packers jump out to an early lead.
This leaves me with $14,100 in salary for my last two WRs. This are my top four combinations:
Odell Beckham ($8,900) and Kendall Wright ($4,900)
Beckham is battling a hip issue as well and he suggested this week he's not 100 percent even after having a week off to recover. After his breakout game (8/222/2) against the Ravens, Odell only caught five of his nine targets for 49 yards in London. He's averaging 10 targets per game with only three TDs. In 2015 in two games against the Eagles, Beckham had 12 catches for 115 yards and a TD on 15 targets. Philly sits 7th in the league in WR Fantasy defense with 82 catches for 1200 yards and four TDs on 155 targets. Only two WRs have over 100 yards receiving against the Eagles (Dez Bryant – 4/113/1 and Antonio Brown – 12/140). Elite talent with an underlying injury facing an over achieving pass defense.
Wright had his second game of value in three weeks vs. the Jaguars. He caught four of his five targets for 84 yards and a TD, but Kendall was only on the field for 26 of 60 plays run by Tennessee. Over the last three weeks, Wright has been on the field for 85 of 195 plays. With Andre Johnson no longer on the roster, Kendall will have a chance to get more playing time. San Diego hasn’t' allowed a TD to the WR position in their last two games. On the year, WRs have 105 catches for 1395 yards and seven TDs on 190 targets. Best WR option in the Titans with a possession type skill set.
Brandin Cooks ($7,600) and Stefon Diggs ($6,500)
Cooks has a TD in three straight games, but his production has been short in five of his last six starts (7/68, 2/13, 3/31, 7/173/1, 7/58/1, and 4/44/1). If he didn't hit on a pair of long TDs (98-yards and 87-yards), his season would be rather vanilla. Brandin only averages eight targets per game while being on a pace for 82 catches for 1,211 yards and 11 TDs on 128 targets. He's priced like he's an elite WR1, but his opportunity is well below the best WRs in the game. The 49ers are about league average vs. the WR position in 2016 with two teams scoring over 50 Fantasy points. Overall, WRs have 77 catches for 1000 yards and 13 TDs on 124 targets. If the Saints don’t run multiple TDs in, Cooks should be in line for a winning day.
Diggs was back in top form last week (8/76/1) after coming up short in his previous three games (4/40, 5/47, and 2/18). Last week Stefon had a season high 13 targets. After struggling to defend WRs in Week 4 (20/240/1) and Week 6 (16/234/2), the Lions held WRs to 23 combined catches for 255 yards on 38 targets in the last two games. Detroit's top CB Darius Slay missed the last two games and the Lions have next week off so Slay should be out again this week. Moving back in the right direction with a matchup that offers upside.
Jarvis Landry ($7,500) and Donte Moncrief ($6,100)
With Miami finding their run game in their last two contests, Landry has played second fiddle to the Jay Ajayi in the offensive structure. Jarvis only has one TD in 2016, which came in Week 3. Over his last four games, he has only 22 catches for 258 yards on 30 targets (7.5 per game). Over the first three games, Landry had 45 targets (11.25 per game). Last season in two games against the Jets, Jarvis had 17 catches for 205 yards and a TD on 28 targets highlighted by game in New York (13/165/1). The Jets allow the second most Fantasy points to WRs with two disaster games (19/302/1 and 17/236/3). Overall, WRs have 111 catches for 1583 yards and 10 TDs on 174 targets vs. New York. High salary with low scoring ability, but he has the talent to post a double digit catch game with 100+ yards. He should have an edge over the Jets slot CB.
Moncrief delivered a late TD to save his game in the season long games in his first game back in the starting lineup. He finished with four catches for 41 yards and a TD on nine targets while being on the field for 59 of 66 plays run by the Colts. Donte has a TD in each of his two full games played with 16 combined targets. The Packers continue to battle injuries at CB, but they haven't paid for their weakness in the last four games (133.3 yards per game to WRs with four TDs). Intrigued by his upside, but he needs a bump in targets to deliver impact value.
Kelvin Benjamin ($7,400) and Allen Robinson ($6,700)
Since Week 2, it's been a battle for Benjamin with questions about his health. Over his last five games, Kelvin has 18 catches for 268 yards and a TD on 36 targets. His game doesn’t look far off except for his decline in TD production (none in his last three games). Over the last two games, Benjamin has been on the field for about 71 percent of the plays run by the Panthers. The Rams ranks in the bottom 25 percent of the league in WR Fantasy defense with three bad games (23/275/1, 20/273/1, and 20/248/4), which all came on the road. In their two games in LA, the Rams allowed 17 combined catches for 208 yards and two TDs on 36 targets to the Seahawks and the Bills. Their top CB Trumaine Johnson has missed the last two games with an ankle issue and he's trending toward another missed game. I sense the Panthers are going to make a second half push so Kelvin should have an uptick in production going forward.
Sometimes we carry the candle for a player's previous season's success too long. This is clearly the case with Robinson. After seven game, Allen is on pace for 73 catches for 837 yards and seven TDs on 160 targets. His targets are on a higher pace than 2015 (151), but he has a fade in his catch rate (45.7) and a sharp decline in his yards per catch (11.4 > 2015 - 17.5). Last season Robinson had 31 catches for 20 yards or more compared four catches for 20 yards or more in seven games this season. Blake Bortles doesn't have enough time to get the ball downfield plus his rarely gives Allen a winning window to catch the ball. The Chiefs rank 29th in the league vs. WRs with two disaster games (12/204/4 and 27/285/2) with their biggest risk coming in the deep passing game. The Chiefs have one CB that offers an edge (Marcus Peters), but he tends to lineup on one side of the field. In 2016, Robinson can't catch the ball, Bortles can't make plays in the passing game when under pressure, and the Chiefs will attack the QB position. Against the grain play with most Fantasy owners quickly crossing his name of the Week 9 player pool list so is he your island of choice?
Of these choices, I like the Cooks/Diggs combo the best. I would then struggle with my decision at TE as I may not want to play two Vikings. If I went for Landry/Moncrief, I could move to Gates as TE. The Benjamin/Robinson combo has high upside if both options were playing well with favorable matchups. I’m going with Cooks and Diggs as both players have favorable matchups.
Here’s my perfect lineup at Fanduel: