For the uninitiated, playing daily games on DraftKings can be an enjoyable experience, but equally sobering is the fact that season-long knowledge does not always translate to success in the daily space. Footballguys will bring you a series of value- and strategic-based selections from a number of seasoned daily veterans throughout the NFL season. Herein is another edition of “Tipandpick’s Tips and Picks,” where we will examine the salaries of players at each position on DraftKings and make value-based recommendations for both your cash games and tournaments.
Below you will find a list of recommended players for both formats. GPP players generally have high-upside, but are too risky for cash games; cash game players are consistent with high fantasy floors. In some instances, the value for a player is so strong, he may fall into both categories…let’s have a look.
In order to help you build winning rosters, let's walk through some of the observations that I have made while doing my research for DraftKings this week. As you build out your lineups on DraftKings, try to consider the following commentary, which revolves around game strategy and how we will want to take advantage of what the masses are doing when they construct their own lineups.
CASH GAME TIPS
EXPENSIVE RBs: At the upper echelon of pricing this week, you will be forced to decide between several elite running backs to anchor your cash game lineups. Le'Veon Bell ($9.8K) tops that list with a juicy matchup against the Colts as a 10-point road favorite. There is a sizeable ~ $1K drop to the next tier of running backs that includes Todd Gurley ($8.7K) against the Texans as 12-point chalk, Leonard Fournette ($8.4K) versus the Chargers' leaky rush defense as short home favorites, and LeSean McCoy ($8.3K) at home against the Saints. Of the four, it feels OK to toss McCoy to the GPP-only pile because of the fact that he is the only running back in that tier who is not projected to play with a lead; a counterargument could be made that upgrades him due to his role in the passing game, but that feels a bit thin when the other options have less questions surrounding their situations. That leads us to the decision point between Gurley and Fournette for cash game consideration. Of those two options, Gurley feels safer because he is a 12-point favorite against the Texans, whose 6th ranked DVOA rush defense looks suspect given that they have played only two elite running backs (Leonard Fournette and Kareem Hunt) all season and allowed both of them to surpass 100 rushing yards. Meanwhile, Fournette has a plus matchup against the Chargers, whose defensive weakness is defending the run. However, the Chargers are entering must-win territory and I suspect they will play Jacksonville extremely tough this weekend, potentially pulling off the surprise victory; even if they do not win, I think this game will amount to a slower-paced, rush-heavy contest that limits the fantasy floor of all offensive players. Of all the options, I like Bell's floor the most, for reasons I describe in his write-up (below), followed by Gurley, Fournette, and McCoy, in that order; perhaps not surprising is the fact that is also how DraftKings decided to price those players.
RECENCY BIAS: If you have been playing DFS for some time, you are assuredly aware of recency bias and how it can affect your play. For those of you who are somewhat new to the DFS world, recency bias is a cognitive bias that occurs shortly after a given player puts up a particularly strong or weak performance; DFS players tend to favor recent history when making decisions about whether to roster those individuals, which leads to skewed numbers in ownership that are not commensurate with their matchup or implied value. For tournament play, understanding (and avoiding) recency bias can be an extremely valuable skill, as those who can objectively analyze player situations without letting recent history obscure their analysis is more difficult than it may otherwise appear. Looking over fellow Footballguy Steve Buzzard's projected ownership table for DraftKings this weekend, a couple of names stand out: Dak Prescott is the highest-priced quarterback on the site and will likely be one of the top-owned at the position despite Ezekiel Elliott's suspension, Dez Bryant looking less than complete, and despite averaging 23% less fantasy points on the road over the course of his career. For these reasons, I will definitely be underweight on Prescott against the Falcons on Sunday. Elsewhere, Alvin Kamara is the 5th-highest priced running back on the Week #10 slate, largely because of his recent onslaught of touchdowns (three over his previous two games); yet, Kamara is, at best, splitting carries with Mark Ingram II and, at worst, a 3rd-down specialist, neither of which substantiates his salary or his lofty ownership projection (currently at 19%). One more example for the sake of clarity: JuJu Smith-Schuster. JuJu was impressive a few weeks ago as the WR2 for the Steelers; he scored on a 97-yard touchdown that turned out to be a difference-maker for Pittsburgh and his 7/193/1 stat line was also a difference-maker for DFS players who rostered him that week at a discounted price. This week, his salary has jumped by 40%, Martavis Bryant will return to the field to steal a few looks, and, yet, Smith-Schuster will be one of the highest-owned receivers. In all of these cases, I will be exposed to these players at levels lower than the field to capitalize on the collective mistake of over-owning them; likewise, I will be overweight on a few players whose ownership is too low and some of those players are outlined in the "Picks" section hereafter. Best of luck to you this weekend!
Let's take a deeper look into some of the players who I will be targeting for my cash game and tournament rosters this weekend. There is little difference in terms of strength of selection between those players who have text to justify their appearance in this article versus those in the "also eligible" section; all are strong plays in their respective categories, but time and space restrictions do not allow for expansive written summaries of every player listed.
CASH GAME PICKS
Matthew Stafford (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $6,800). With the second-stingiest defensive front seven in the NFL (2.96 yards allowed per carry), the Cleveland Browns force their opponents to throw the ball to beat them. And their opponents have been successful on that front, as the Browns enter this weekend with the 28th ranked DVOA pass defense that has allowed 75% of opposing quarterbacks to throw for multiple touchdowns this season; they are allowing an average of 19.3 DraftKings points per game to the position, which ranks them 23rd in the league. This all bodes well for Matthew Stafford because the Lions have continued to stumble on the ground again in 2017 (79.9 rushing yards per game; 3 rushing touchdowns) after finishing 30th in the league in rushing in 2016 (81.9 rushing yards per game; 9 rushing touchdowns). In other words, if the Lions are going to come close to the 27.3 implied point team total bestowed upon them by Vegas oddsmakers, it would appear that Stafford will be the offensive lynchpin who makes it happen. He enters this game red-hot with three consecutive 300+ passing yard performances and an average of 23+ DraftKings points per game over that span; expect him to continue to target Marvin Jones Jr and Golden Tate with regularity against young, but susceptible, secondary.
Eli Manning (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $5,100). It might feel wrong to be considering Eli Manning for cash games, particularly given that the Giants have only one win on the entire season, but he has a pristine matchup against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday. The Niners field the league's 27th ranked DVOA pass defense that has allowed no less than 14.2 DraftKings points to every opposing quarterback this season. If possible, the last few weeks may have actually rendered this questionable pass defense even worse; the Niners traded CB Rashard Robinson to the Jets at the end of October and then proceeded to lose two safeties to injured reserve (Jimmie Ward and Jaquiski Tartt, both with broken arms), leaving a number of holes in an unproven and relatively untalented defensive backfield. Meanwhile, the Giants returned Sterling Shepard to the field last week and he quickly returned to form with 5 catches for 70 yards on 9 targets against a stingy Rams secondary (3rd DVOA pass defense); having Shepard on the field upgrades the entire Giants offense, as Manning has more than just Evan Engram to target, which should yield dividends for the veteran down the stretch with plenty of passing gamescripts on the horizon. This matchup is particularly appealing, as both teams run extremely quick offenses, but field lackluster defenses, which should result in a lot of scoring opportunities for both offenses and sneaky shootout potential. For these reasons, Eli Manning is a value-based cash (and GPP) play to help enable you to slide some of the pricey running backs into your rosters.
Also eligible: Ryan Fitzpatrick ($4,900)
Le'Veon Bell (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $9,800). There is not a running back in the NFL who is used more heavily than Le'Veon Bell. Over his previous three games, Bell has an astounding 92 touches. Sure, he is expensive at $9.8K, but there is enough value on the site this week to enable spending nearly 20% of your salary on a player like Bell (or his teammate, Antonio Brown). This is a smash spot for Bell against the Colts, who field the league's 21st ranked DVOA rush defense and have allowed 13% more production to opposing running backs than league average; the Colts have allowed six different running backs to score 20 or more DraftKings point this season. On weeks were they were beaten soundly (> 10 points), they allowed an average of 37.1 DraftKings points to the position; rested and coming off a bye-week where the Steelers are projected to win by double-digits and the backup running back (James Connor) is not a danger to steal touches (9 total over the past month), all signs point to Bell putting up some monstrous numbers in Indianapolis.
Bilal Powell (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $4,000). Likely the highest-owned player on the entire slate in Week #10, Bilal Powell feels like a 'free square' on a bingo board at only $4.0K. Powell has started only two games this season: one against the Browns, where he left early due to a calf injury and another against the Jaguars, where he gouged them for 190 all-purpose yards and a touchdown en route to 32.0 DraftKings points. Without Matt Forte in the lineup, Powell should get plenty of opportunity against the Buccaneers' 22nd DVOA rush defense that has allowed 3 different RB1s to score 28+ DraftKings points over the previous four games. While it is unlikely that Powell will finish in that stratosphere, his $4.0K salary necessitates only ~ 12 points for cash game value, a threshold that could feasibly be met by halftime without Forte splitting carries. It would be folly to expect Powell to receive all of the carries out of the backfield with Elijah McGuire consistently getting about a dozen touches per game, but there is little reason to let that dissuade you from rostering Powell, who should see 20+ touches and any passing down work, which is most valuable on DraftKings' full-PPR scoring format.
Golden Tate (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $6,800). Outside of two games where he saw superior coverage this season (Janoris Jenkins and Xavier Rhodes), Golden Tate has been a model of consistency in the Detroit offense. In those remaining six games, Tate has been targeted no less than seven times and collected 15 or more DraftKings points in all games but one (versus Carolina). On Sunday, Tate will continue to run out of the slot and will avoid ProFootballFocus' #2 overall coverage cornerback, Jason McCourty, who will be isolated on the outside and dealing with either Marvin or T.J. Jones. Some might be scared away by nickel cornerback Briean Boddy-Calhoun's surprisingly high rating on PFF (13th overall), but the Browns have not played many opponents with a strong slot receiver; when they have, they have yielded some elevated stat lines including a 5/98/1 to Adam Thielen last week and 7/153/1 to T.Y. Hilton back in Week #3. As described in the Matthew Stafford write-up (above), the Browns have a stellar defensive front that forces opponents to throw the ball and Tate is the focal piece of the Lions' passing game, which makes him interesting for both cash and GPP formats when one considers the 27.3 implied point team total currently assigned to the Lions.
Sterling Shepard (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $5,500). In Week #5 against the Chargers, the Giants lost all three of their primary receivers to ankle injuries. Odell Beckham and Brandon Marshall will both miss the remainder of the year with ankle injuries, while second-year phenom Sterling Shepard missed almost a month before returning last week against the Rams. In his return, Shepard appeared to be 100% and was a welcome vision for Eli Manning, who had been throwing the likes of Roger Lewis, Tavarres King, and Travis Rudolph for the month of October. Shepard gets an excellent personnel matchup against a depleted and defeated San Francisco secondary that enters Week #10 with the 27th ranked DVOA pass defense. Looking over the Niner defensive game logs against the wide receiver position, it appears that they have been adequate, if unspectacular, against the position this season; that said, opposing offenses have not needed to throw the ball against the winless Niners because they have built early leads and run the ball against their 25th DVOA rush defense thereafter. Given the ineptitude of the Giants defense that allowed 51 points to the Rams last week, the likelihood of New York building (and maintaining) an early lead is minimal, which should keep Shepard involved throughout the matchup. As the only healthy NFL-caliber wide receiver remaining on the roster, Shepard should see double-digit targets against one of the league's worst coverage cornerbacks, K'Waun Williams (rated 113 out of 114 on PFF).
Kyle Rudolph (Primarily cash games, Salary: $4,600). The Washington Redskins enter Week #10 with the 29th DVOA against opposing tight ends, which has resulted in them allowing the 4th most fantasy points to the position (16.9 fantasy points per game). On the outside, the Skins boast Josh Norman and the underrated Bashaud Breeland, who tend to minimize production from the "X" and "Z" receivers, Stefon Diggs and Laquon Treadwell, in this case. That plus coverage on the perimeter tends to funnel action across the middle on underneath routes, where the Redskins have struggled this season--they have been steadily beaten by slot receivers (looking at you, Adam Thielen) and tight ends. Of course, that brings us to Kyle Rudolph, who is tied with Adam Thielen for the most redzone targets on the team (8). Over the Vikings previous four games, Rudolph has pulled in 22 catches for 162 receiving yards and a pair of touchdowns on 32 targets, ranking him at the TE10 over that period of time. If you are spending up at the tight end position, he is one of the stronger plays on the DK main slate.
Garrett Celek (Primarily cash formats, Salary: $2,500). This recommendation will not require a lot of justification. The New York Giants have allowed eight consecutive tight ends to score touchdowns against them. Eight. In fact, they have allowed nine touchdowns to tight ends over that period of time. Garrett Celek is next in line and he is offered up at the site-minimum $2.5K price point because George Kittle has already been announced as inactive due to an ankle injury. After signing the perennial blocking tight end, Logan Paulsen, to a one-year deal earlier this week, we can safely assume that Celek will inherit the receiving role during Kittle's absence and it could not have come at a more opportune time. Given that Pierre Garcon is out for the season (neck) and Marquise Goodwin will be dealing with Janoris Jenkins on the outside, we should see plenty of Celek on Sunday at a price point that allows you to load up elsewhere.
Also eligible: Jack Doyle ($5,200)
Lions (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $3,800). Hue Jackson's merry-go-round of quarterbacks appears to have landed on DeShone Kizer for the second consecutive week. In the three games Kizer has started (and finished) this season, opposing defenses are averaging 12.7 fantasy points against the Browns. The reasons for that level of success are plentiful: First, Kizer is careless with the football; he has thrown 11 interceptions in only 213 attempts (5.2% of passes) and fumbled twice. Next, Kizer tends to wait too long for plays to develop, leading to sack opportunities for opposing defenses (15 times in limited play this season). Lastly, Kizer is completing only 52.1% of his passes, which obviously causes the offense to stall too often. For their part, the Lions have posted double-digit fantasy points in five of their eight games this season, a number that is the direct of five defensive touchdowns. As 11-point home favorites, look for the Lions to jump out to an early lead, force Kizer to try to make plays, and pick up some additional scoring opportunities on sacks, turnovers, and possible scores.
Bears (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $3,000). Since Aaron Rodgers' injury in Week #6, the Packers offense has been a dumpster fire of underperformance due to inadequate play by Todd Hundley. After starting the season 4-1 with Rodgers at the helm, the Packers have lost three straight and appear to be in a total freefall entering this weekend's matchup against the Bears. The blame has to be directed squarely towards Hundley, who is averaging only 5.0 yards per attempt and logging a single passing touchdown (versus four interceptions) in 97 passing attempts; names like Jordy Nelson and Davante Adams have become afterthoughts in fantasy circles because no Packer receiver has surpassed 60 receiving yards since Hundley went under center a few weeks ago. This all suggest that the Chicago Bears' 10th ranked overall DVOA defense should be in a good spot for fantasy production as 5.5-point home favorites on Sunday. The Bears average 2.9 sacks per game and the Packers' offensive line has allowed 3.4 sacks per contest and will be without key lineman, Bryan Bulaga, who will miss the remainder of the season with a knee injury. Add in a negative gamescript and a hostile environment and the Bears are this week's most attractive cash game option at a modest $3.0K price point.
Tyrod Taylor (Salary: $6,300). On paper, the New Orleans Saints field a strong secondary. They enter Week #10 with the 4th overall DVOA pass defense and have held five of their previous six opponents to less than 200 passing yards. For sure, rookie sensation Marshon Lattimore is the real deal and not to be taken lightly, but he is the only dominant player in the Saints' defensive backfield and should not be enough to dissuade you from considering Tyrod Taylor for tournaments this weekend. Why should we attack the Saints secondary? First, nickel corner (safety) Kenny Vaccaro will miss this game with a groin injury, which will leave P.J. Williams in the slot to cover Jordan Matthews and Ken Crawley to run with Deonte Thompson on the perimeter (expect to see Kelvin Benjamin get shadow coverage from Lattimore), two matchups favoring the Bills. Next, Charles Clay looks to be returning from a month-long hiatus after suffering a knee injury in early October; prior to that injury, Clay was the clear lead receiver for this Buffalo offense. Lastly, let's not crown the Saints secondary just yet--their recent domination has been against the likes of Ryan Fitzpatrick/Jameis Winston, Mitchell Trubisky, Brett Hundley, Jay Cutler, and the ever-struggling Cam Newton; in their remaining three games, the Saints allowed Sam Bradford, Tom Brady, and Matthew Stafford all to throw for 300+ yards and 3 touchdowns. With his running ability, influx of new receivers, and implied gamescript, Tyrod Taylor is an excellent leverage play against LeSean McCoy, who is expected to be one of the top-owned running backs on the Week #10 slate, making Taylor an excellent GPP option.
Josh McCown (Salary: $5,200). Known more for his downside than his upside, Josh McCown is going to go dramatically underowned on Sunday. Our Steve Buzzard projects McCown's ownership levels to be less than 5%, which is too low given his plus matchup and reasonable salary against the league's 31st rated DVOA pass defense that will be without starting CB Robert McClain (hamstring). McCown has quietly put together a respectable season, given the relative lack of talent around him; Matt Forte has been banged up for most of the season, Austin Seferian-Jenkins missed the first couple games, and the remainder of the Jets receivers would be lucky to see playing time on the majority of NFL teams. Despite that reality, McCown has thrown 13 touchdowns (notwithstanding the two touchdowns unfairly taken from ASJ recently due to poor officiating) against 7 interceptions and has multiple touchdowns in 6 out of 9 games. The Bucs may represent his best matchup to date, as Tampa Bay has allowed the 3rd-most passing yardage in the league (272.4 per game) and an average of 20.0 DraftKings points per game to opposing quarterbacks. With Jeremy Kerley on a four-game suspension due to PED usage, the number of stack partners becomes more manageable, as well; Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Robby Anderson top that small list because of their consistent volume in the Jets offense.
Devonta Freeman (Salary: $6,000). After starting the season with touchdowns in every game for a month, Devonta Freeman has gone ice-cold, averaging less than 10.0 DraftKings points per game over the subsequent month. A deeper look into those performances shows that Freeman has indeed struggled against top-end rush defenses; he disappointed against both Miami and Carolina, both of whom boast top-5 DVOA rush defenses. In another game, Freeman was largely nullified by gamescript when Atlanta turned to passing the ball to catch up to New England; in the last game against the Jets, Freeman put up respectable numbers, but yielded to the hot hand in Tevin Coleman, who averaged nearly 7.0 yards per carry on 14 carries. This week, Freeman will get plenty of opportunity to have a big day against the Dallas Cowboys' 30th ranked DVOA rush defense that is bleeding 4.35 yards per carry to running backs this season. Expect to see Freeman on the field early and often with Coleman getting passing down opportunities and the occasional series to provide a bit of rest for Freeman. At $6.0K, Freeman brings legitimate two-touchdown upside to your rosters on a team projected to score nearly four touchdowns; since 2015, Freeman scored multiple touchdowns in a game six times, an observation that supports the notion that multiple touchdowns are possible against this Dallas squad.
Orleans Darkwa (Salary: $4,500). With Bilal Powell's ownership approaching 40% in DraftKings tournaments on Sunday, Orleans Darkwa offers some amazing leverage against those Powell owners at a similar price point. Game strategy would argue that nabbing Darkwa at 5-fold less ownership is, by far, the shark move. Why? Because if Powell underperforms due to injury, gamescript, involvement from Elijah McGuire, or other unexpected circumstances, a significant portion of lineups could be otherwise dead entering the 4 PM (EST) games; meanwhile, Darkwa owners would have similar roster builds (due to the similar price point) without the dead roster spot shared by 40% of the field. Oh, and it's not a stretch to think that Darkwa is capable of outscoring Powell, as his matchup is arguably better against the Niners whose 23rd ranked DVOA rush defense allows 42% more points to the running back position after normalization for strength of schedule. As short 3-point road favorites, Darkwa's appeal is heightened; in the Giants' only win this season, Darkwa finished the day with 22 touches for 130 all-purpose yards for 17.0 DraftKings points...if the Giants can muster together a winning day and get Darkwa into the endzone as part of that effort, he will easily surpass 5x value with less than 10% ownership.
T.Y. Hilton (Salary: $5,900). After being 30% owned last week and hitting big (you read all the reasons why here), T.Y. Hilton's ownership is expected to drop by about 50% this week because of the reputation of the Pittsburgh Steelers secondary. And to be fair, the Steelers have allowed only one 100+ yard receiver all season (Marvin Jones Jr, in their last contest)...however, the list of passing offenses they have faced this season amounts to a list of bottom dwellers including Cleveland, Chicago, Baltimore, and Jacksonville, among others. In their last game, the Steelers failed the litmus test when they were gashed by Matthew Stafford for 423 passing yards, but people seem to have forgotten that game probably because it was two weeks ago and Stafford somehow did not manage to throw a touchdown. The Steelers are 10-point road favorites and the Colts' running game is largely an afterthought (3.6 yards per carry; 28th in NFL), which favors Jacoby Brissett and T.Y. Hilton. As was discussed in this column last week, Hilton has thrived this season when not subjected to elite coverage--the combination of Artie Burns, Mike Hilton, and an aging Joe Haden does not fit that description. Lastly, Hilton is offered up at $5.9K, the WR12 on DraftKings, which is a bargain for the primary wide receiver on an offense with little competition for targets and a perfect gamescript.
Mohamed Sanu (Salary: $4,900). With Julio Jones missing practice on Wednesday and Thursday and then getting only a limited practice on the books Friday, one has to wonder how much involvement he will have against the Cowboys on Sunday? In the past, we have seen Julio Jones used as a decoy in similar situations, only to open up the offense for less-talented, but entirely capable, receivers like Mohamed Sanu and Taylor Gabriel. Of the secondary receivers, Sanu is the most interesting because he faces a Cowboys' defensive backfield that has exhibited an inability to slow down slot receivers this season; performances from Larry Fitzgerald (24.2 fantasy points), Cooper Kupp (17.0 fantasy points), and Jamison Crowder (25.5 fantasy points) each represent the type of upside one could expect from slot receivers facing this Dallas secondary. For his part, Sanu enters this contest riding as high as he has since joining the Falcons at the beginning of 2016; he has three consecutive games with 12 or more DraftKings points and scored in back-to-back weeks for the first time in Atlanta. Monitor the Sunday morning reports coming out of Atlanta and base your final decision on that information--if it sounds as though Julio Jones is still somewhat gimpy, gain some exposure to Sanu because he will become the de facto WR1 against a suspect secondary.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins (Salary: $4,800). Rarely a fan of narratives, one that I will buy into is the premise that Austin Seferian-Jenkins (ASJ) wants to return to Tampa Bay this weekend and remind them that they made a mistake when they released him after an embarrassing DUI incident in 2016. ASJ has gone on record saying that he believes that Tampa Bay "gave up" on him and that they never believed he could turn around his life to be a successful football player again. All signs indicate that ASJ hit rock-bottom and is now on his way to salvation as a member of the Jets; since serving a two-game suspension to start the season, Seferian-Jenkins has been the league's TE9, but would be TE5 if not for a pair of ticky-tacky penalties that cost him a pair of touchdowns over the past month. On paper, the matchup is not necessarily appealing, as the Buccaneers allow the 4th least number of fantasy points to opposing tight ends, but they have not seen a team with a tight end of ASJ's caliber since they allowed Evan Engram to go for 6/62/0 in Week #3. With Matt Forte missing this game with an injury and Jeremy Kerley serving a four-game suspension, there should be fewer mouths to feed in the redzone and it would not be surprising to see ASJ put together a solid game, given his thoughts on how his opponents gave up on him when times were tough.
David Njoku (Salary: $2,600). The Cleveland Browns are 11-point road underdogs, which should mean a slew of passing for DeShone Kizer against the Lions' 12th ranked DVOA pass defense. Some combination of Kenny Britt, Rishard Higgins, and Ricardo Louis will take on the likes of Darius Slay, Quandre Diggs, and Nevin Lawson in the defensive backfield, a sizeable advantage to the Lions. Where the Lions are susceptible, however, is across the middle to the tight end position; Detroit currently fields the 31st ranked DVOA defense against tight ends and is allowing 20% more production from the position when normalized for their strength of schedule (27th in NFL). Njoku's usage in the offense is trending the right direction, as his 17 targets over the previous 3 weeks leads the team; likewise, no Browns receiver has more redzone targets and/or touchdowns on the season. At $2.6K, Njoku basically needs to score and he will hit the requisite 4x value multiplier you are seeking to legitimize his spot on your tournament rosters.
Also eligible: Eric Ebron (Salary: $3,100).
Rams (Salary: $3,600). The Rams 4th ranked (DVOA) defense is thriving largely because of the strength of their offense--they are jumping out to early leads and forcing opposing quarterbacks to try to make plays that are just not there. As a result, the defense is picking up sacks at an elevated rate (3.1 per game) and turnovers have recently followed suit (8 over the previous month). Their matchup against the Texans would have been an fascinating fantasy game if only rookie sensation Deshaun Watson had not torn his ACL last week during practice; instead, we are relegated to watch Tom Savage try to assemble some inkling of an offense against the Rams, something he was unable to do against a much worse (26th DVOA) Indianapolis Colts defense at home last Sunday. Prior to Savage taking the job, the Texans struggled to protect Watson (4.0 sacks per game), an otherwise mobile quarterback; with Savage running the offense, the likelihood of those sack numbers increasing is demonstrably higher. The Rams represent the biggest favorite on the Vegas boards at -11.5 points, which is generally a good indication that the opposing team is going to be taking some chances late in the game to try to tighten the gap in score; if/when that happens, this Rams defense has already demonstrated an ability to make big plays, as evidenced by a pair of two-touchdown performances this season (Week #1 versus Indianapolis and Week #6 versus Jacksonville).
Chargers (Salary: $2,700). The Los Angeles Chargers are one of the more intriguing GPP defenses this weekend because of their low price, implied ownership, and upside. No need to explain why the price or low ownership are attractive, so let's discuss the upside. First, Blake Bortles is the opposing quarterback and it is well-established that Bortles is a pick-six machine. The Jaguars have done their best to minimize the need for Bortles to throw this season (only three teams have thrown less than Jacksonville), but he is going to throw the ball at least 30 times and that is enough to justify looking at the opposing defense. In this instance, that opposing defense has scored double-digit fantasy points twice in the past month and managed to hold New England's potent offense to only 21 points on their home turf last Sunday night. No doubt, the Jaguars will try to ram Leonard Fournette down the Chargers' throats, but we should not underestimate this Chargers team, as a whole--they are a 3-5 team that should be 5-3, if not for kicking woes early in the season. Their playoff hopes rest on their ability to pull out some unexpected victories in the second half of the season and this would certainly be one of those games. This game reeks of a slugfest marked by field-position and strong defensive play; at $2.7K, you could do worse than the Chargers in a must-win situation against a quarterback known for lapses in judgment.
Also eligible: Jaguars ($3,900), Vikings (Salary: $3,100).
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