Week 4 DFS Targets

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This article last updated 9/27/2018 – Featured image AP Photo/David Richard

Week 3 was pretty solid. I had a lot of Calvin Ridley and a fairly decent amount of Tyler Boyd. I did use too much Latavius Murray, even though I didn’t feel great about him all weekend, because it just seemed like too good of an opportunity for him to fail as badly as he did. I also had a fair amount of Kirk Cousins, Adam Thielen, and Stefon Diggs. I, along with the rest of humanity, did not expect the Bills to curb stomp the Vikings the way they did. Looking back and evaluating my decision-making process for last week, I’m not sure that I can see a way that I would have done things differently. Maybe I should have trusted my gut more in regards to how I felt about Murray. I had the same gut feelings about Corey Clement, Tevin Coleman, and David Johnson, and I’m happy with my low exposure to all of those guys.

I wrote a very short lineup review article on Monday that showed my best lineup against the one that took down the NFL Sunday Million on Fanduel last weekend. I truly believe that I was one pivot away from winning that contest. If I had submitted another lineup, it may very well have been Robert Woods in place of Will Fuller on that lineup, which would have shuffled the other dominos into place automatically to give me the winning lineup. We can’t dwell on the past though! We must trust our process and move forward to week 4!

Check out my Sunday Morning Final Thoughts for Week 4 DFS!

Click below to see how my thought process evolved over the weekend as I finalized my roster construction and chose contests to enter. If you find my content helpful, please share! Thanks for reading. Good luck this week!!

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Before I did any research of any kind, my gut feeling was that Baker Mayfield could be the top scoring QB in week 4, not just in pt/$ production, but in total fantasy points. When he came into the game last Thursday, he energized the entire team (offense AND defense) and the stadium, and really the entire city of Cleveland. He’s got a soft matchup against a Raiders team with no pass rush to speak of since they decided to ship off Khalil Mack, and he has 10 days to prepare. As I’ve dug in a bit, I realized that maybe the Raiders matchup isn’t quite as soft as I thought. They were able to hold Jared Goff and Case Keenum in check, and it is a cross-country road game. My plan this week is to concentrate the majority of my volume onto 3 tournament lineups, with maybe a handful of extra NFL Sunday Million entries. I think Baker makes 1 of those 3 lineups because I do believe he has a path to success, but I think there are other options to consider this week as well.

The two games that look most appealing to me this week from a fantasy perspective are the New Orleans Saints visiting the New York Giants and the Cincinnati Bengals at the Atlanta Falcons. I love all 4 of these offenses this week and from a QB perspective, I like all 4 pretty well. I definitely lean more towards Matt Ryan and Eli Manning than Andy Dalton and Drew Brees, but I don’t hate any of them. Ryan was one of my favorite picks in season-long because it just seemed like people were forgetting about him. He was dropping down to rounds 12-15 in most drafts that I saw, and I just thought he was a tremendous value that late. He had a pretty weak game in the 1st week of the season but in week 2 he was the 5th ranked QB in fantasy points production with 31.68 FD points, and in week 3 he moved up to 2nd place in fantasy production with 40.16 FD points, barely behind Brees (because of an overtime TD run that should have gone to Alvin Kamara…) — Now in week 4 he’s playing at home again against a Bengals team that consistently allows top 10-15 QB production in what is projected to be a high-scoring game (52.5 O/U). Devonta Freeman is still out, so Ryan is going to be airing the ball out, and I like his chances to be a top 5 QB again this week.

Eli Manning is also playing at home in a game with an over/under at 50.5, and he’s a home underdog against the Saints. The game script will likely force him to put the ball in the air, and the Saints have allowed more points to QBs than any other team to start the season. On the other side of the ball, I really like Brees in this spot too, I just don’t think he will be better enough than all of the other quarterbacks to justify the price premium to get to him. He’s the most expensive QB on the slate on FD and third most on DK, and you have to spend a lot more of your salary dollars to get to him than any of the other QBs I’m mentioning here. Brees also historically does not perform as well on the road (especially in outdoor venues) as he does at home in the Superdome. I like him a lot, but I don’t think I’ll get to him in any of my main 3 lineups.

My main 3 lineups will most likely have Baker Mayfield, Matt Ryan, and either Andy Dalton or Eli Manning. Dalton threw 46 passes for 352 yards and 2 TDs last week after throwing 42 passes for 265 yards and 4 TDs the week before that. The Falcons are losing members of their secondary like crazy, and I expect this game to be a shootout, so I like Dalton’s chances for a big game here, but I am concerned that he also threw 4 interceptions last week and already has 5 on the year through 3 games. Those factors combined with a bit of uncertainty about AJ Green‘s health will probably leave Dalton on the outside looking in for my top 3 lineups.

There are definitely a few other QBs that I have interest in and will keep on my radar as I build my lineups this weekend… Check back on Sunday morning for my final thoughts to see if I’ve moved any of them up my board and into my top 3, but here are the others that I’m looking at:

  • Aaron Rodgers – Because of recency bias, Rodgers may come in with much lower ownership than he would normally see against the Bills. Their team looked like a juggernaut last week against the Vikings, and Rodgers is coming off of pedestrian-by-his-standards performances the last 2 weeks. The thing is, he’s been playing hurt and went up against two stout pass defenses in the Washington Redskins (where Rodgers scored only 19.9 FD points and ranked 12th amongst QBs on the main slate) and the Vikings (where Rodgers scored only 16.04 FD points and ranked 17th amongst QBs on the main slate). Despite the Bills shocking the world last week, though, they still aren’t a great pass defense and Rodgers is still one of the greatest QBs in the NFL. If you can get him against a defense that isn’t great at low ownership, you can gain an edge on the competition.
  • Philip Rivers – The 49ers defense has been bad this year. According to PFF, they have a 47.9 total defense grade season-to-date, which is the worst in the league. Their coverage grade of 35.7 is dead last in the league, their tackling grade of 32.2 is second-to-last in the league, and their pass rush is in the bottom 12 as well. Rivers, on the other hand, is off to a great start! He was the third best fantasy QB on the main slate in week 1 and was solid in weeks 2 and 3 as well. Assuming Keenan Allen is healthy (I think he is, but he has been limited in practice this week) I really like that stack this week.

Running Back

I’ve been saying it all year and I’ll continue to say it: Saquon Barkley is a monster of a human. The fact that his FD price is only up $500 since the beginning of the year is kind of crazy to me, but it’s only because he hasn’t QUITE exploded yet. It’s all there, though. Through 3 games, he’s had 20 touches, 25 touches, and 22 touches. He’s got 21 receptions and 46 carries for a total of 353 yards from scrimmage. He’s only scored twice, which is why his salary hasn’t increased very much, but if you’ve watched any of the Giants football games this year… It looks like he could score every time he touches the ball. Even on 3-4 yard carries, it seems like he is making a few guys miss every time. He is getting a large percentage of the Giants’ offensive volume, and they’re using him well. I like Barkley this week with or without Eli.

While we’re still talking about this game, it’s going to be hard to ignore Alvin Kamara a week after he received 20!! pass targets in another high-scoring affair against a Giants defense that has been torched by receivers out of the backfield to start the year. I have zero reasons right now to tell you not to play Kamara this week. I have been ahead of the field on my ownership of Kamara each of the first 3 weeks, but I believe that I’ll be below the field this week. I have a bad feeling about him right now. He’s been limited at practice with a knee injury. I doubt it’s serious, but it is a point of concern. As Sunday approaches, I may talk myself back into using Kamara. This is the last opportunity for him to soak up all the backfield usage with Mark Ingram set to return from suspension for their next game, and it is another juicy matchup, I just don’t have a great feeling about it at the moment.

Tevin Coleman and Giovani Bernard will once again provide value in the backfield this week, and they happen to be playing against each other. Neither of these guys are elite talents, but they both project to get high volume in a high-scoring game against average defenses. I’m not overly excited about Coleman or Bernard right now and will continue to seek value throughout the weekend, but they pop off the page as decent salary savers for now.

Carlos Hyde falls in between Bernard and Coleman price-wise on Fanduel and projects to be another good value option. Coming into the season, it looked like the Browns were going to have a running back by committee situation this season, but Hyde is actually ranked 6th in the NFL this season in touches, and 2nd in total rushing attempts. He also has at least 1 TD in every game this year. The Raiders are in the bottom 10 in the league in rushing defense. I will probably have some Hyde and hope that the birth of his son, Carlos Jr., inspires him to perform.

Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler have made a good 1-2 punch for the Chargers this season. I actually believe that Ekeler is the better football player, but Gordon gets the volume. I wrote last week that I have a blind spot with Gordon, as I just don’t like him, but he does produce fantasy points and I think this is a good spot against the 49ers. I do like the opportunity for the Chargers to succeed through the air in this game more than on the ground, so I’m going to prioritize Rivers and Allen over Gordon or Ekeler, but I may sprinkle in some of this rushing game as well.

Ezekiel Elliott is in a good spot against the Lions this week. The Cowboys offense starts and stops with Elliott. Dak Prescott is not a very good quarterback, and he has no weapons at wide receiver. Elliott is tied with Matt Breida for the league lead in rushing yards and he hasn’t even really had a breakout game. He’s just been steady. There is a decent shot that Elliott gets between 90-120 rushing yards this week and gets in the end zone.

The only other running back currently on my radar is Leonard Fournette. The Jets rush defense has been okay, but not great. Fournette has elite potential if he can get on the field, and it looks like he’ll play this week. I don’t feel strongly about this play, but I’m going to dig into the matchup more over the next couple of days.

As I read back over these running backs, I see that I have some real work to do here. I’ve got a relatively narrow player pool for this position, but I don’t feel too great about over half of these dudes. This may end up being Barkley+Hyde or Barkley+Kamara on all of my lineups, but we’ll see as we go through the weekend.

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Wide Receiver

Let’s go right back to that Giants vs. Saints game. Odell Beckham and Michael Thomas are obvious choices. Thomas has a freaking unbelievable 38 receptions on 40 targets for a league-leading 398 yards along with 3 touchdowns. Beckham is 12th in the league in receiving yards and has two 100+ yard receiving games in the first 3 weeks. He hasn’t gotten into the end zone yet, but I have to believe he will soon. Sterling Shepard is the guy who may fly under the radar, and I think he’ll be the biggest beneficiary to Evan Engram being out. He has had 7, 5, and 7 targets in the first 3 games. At $6200 on FD and $4900 on DK, he’s one of my favorite values at wide receiver this weekend.

TY Hilton loves playing against the Texans. Some of his biggest career games have come against them, and he’s definitely the top option in the Colts’ offense. I’m going to proceed with caution, though, as Andrew Luck just doesn’t seem to be able to push the ball down the field right now. Hilton’s average depth of target is down by almost 5 yards this season compared to his career average, and he is not getting targeted much in the red zone. If I do have any Hilton, I will probably bring it back with a correlation play of either DeAndre Hopkins or Will Fuller, who are both capable of having huge weeks. Fuller has scored in every game he’s played with Deshaun Watson, and Hopkins is good for double-digit targets every week. I do think this game goes under the Vegas total and don’t love either offense, so I’m likely going to fade this game on my main 3 lineups, but these 3 guys are worth consideration at least.

The Buccaneers keep finding themselves in shootouts because their defense is terrible, which is good for both their wide receivers and their opponents’ wide receivers. Mitch Trubisky has not looked good to start the season, but Allen Robinson has been targeted heavily and should be able to find success in this game. He’s also still a good value considering his volume, at $6500 on FD and $5900 on DK. I definitely prefer the value on FD, but he’s playable on both sites. On the other side of the game, Mike Evans has scored in each game this year and is second in the league with 367 receiving yards. He’s at 16 yards per catch versus 10.5 for Michael Thomas, the only guy ahead of him. On FD, you get an $1100 salary discount going from Thomas to Evans, and on DK it’s even more significant with a $1200 discount. Keep in mind that on DK you get a full point per catch, while it’s only 1/2 of a point on FD. This makes Thomas’s 38 catches versus Evans’s 23 much more valuable on DK than on FD. Either way, Evans is certainly worth consideration as he continues to be a top target for the Bucs.

Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, AJ Green, and Tyler Boyd are all good options in the Falcons vs. Bengals game. Ridley and Boyd both saw their salaries increase this week, but they’re still definitely priced appropriately for their skillsets and upside. This will be a popular game to target, though, and lots of folks will be chasing last week’s points. If it looks like ownership is going to be extremely heavy on Ridley and Boyd, and lower than it should be on Jones and Green, it may be an opportunity to pay up to be contrarian and gain ownership leverage over the field. Also, don’t forget about John Ross, especially if it looks like Green’s pelvis injury is going to hinder him or keep him out of the game. Ross has flashed some upside and if he is thrust into an opportunity for more volume, he could turn out to be this week’s low priced sleeper at WR and win somebody a tournament. Just keep an eye on Green’s status.

Jarvis Landry is enjoying a terrific start to the season. He’s no longer just catching short yardage dink and dunk passes like he was in Miami. He’s getting more downfield work and is 10th in the league with 278 receiving yards. He hasn’t scored yet, but I think that changes this week with Baker behind center. I also like Antonio Callaway as a low-priced value option in this game.

Other wide receivers that I am looking into for this weekend include:

  • Keenan Allen
  • Golden Tate
  • Kenny Golladay

Tight End

I don’t like Jimmy Graham very much. I think he’s been on a downward trend for a long time and has lost more than a step. That being said, I like his matchup this week against the Bills, and if I decide to play any Rodgers lineups, I’ll likely be pairing him with Graham.

If you can afford him, Rob Gronkowski is the tight end to spend up on this week. Miami is vulnerable over the middle and Gronk has destroyed them at home over his career. The Patriots are also coming off of an embarrassing loss in primetime against the Lions last week, and I think they’ll be looking to exact some revenge. I don’t think Tom Brady is worth spending up on, but I certainly think Gronk makes sense if you can fit him in with the rest of your lineup.

I think the 49ers, who were already struggling, fall into a downward spiral for the rest of the season now that they’ve lost both Jerick McKinnon and Jimmy Garoppolo for the year. CJ Beathard was college teammates with George Kittle, though, so they’ve already built rapport with one another. I think that Beathard will look to Kittle as a safety blanket, and it opens some opportunity for Kittle to have a big game.

I don’t want to overexpose myself to the Browns offense. I know they won last weekend, but they’ve been the worst team in football for a very long time. I think I like Landry best, but depending on how lineup construction works out, I will definitely be looking at David Njoku. He hasn’t had any volume this year, with only nine catches through 3 weeks, but I think Mayfield is more willing to throw into the middle of the field than Tyrod Taylor was, and I think Njoku sees a huge boost throughout the rest of the season with Baker throwing the ball.

Other tight ends on my radar include:

  • Zach Ertz
  • Trey Burton
  • Tyler Eifert

Defense / Special Teams

I don’t think the Bills are for real. I think they rallied together last week (possibly around Vontae Davis quitting on them at halftime the week before) and played to the absolute top of their potential, but I don’t think they are built for sustained success. The Green Bay Packers rank 14th in the league this season in total team defense and are in a good position to deliver a good D/ST score at a moderate salary this week.

The Chicago Bears are the top-ranked D/ST this season and are priced similarly to the Packers. The Bucs have been putting up some serious numbers so far this season, though, and D/ST is a very volatile spot, so I’m not sure that I’ll want to spend the salary on the Bears in a matchup where they could conceivably give up a lot of points. The reason they’re on my radar, though, is that they’re going to get points from sacks and turnovers. They’ve got 14 sacks, 7 forced fumbles, and 5 interceptions this season. This may be the game that causes the Fitzmagic show to end.

The other D/ST that I’ll be looking at are:

  • Indianapolis Colts
  • Pittsburgh Steelers
  • Cleveland Browns
  • Los Angeles Chargers
  • Jacksonville Jaguars

Those are my thoughts for week 4. I’m sure that as news breaks and I begin to actually build my lineups, some things will change, so be sure to check back Sunday morning for my final thoughts. Here’s hoping we can take down the big one this week instead of just getting close!

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