Greetings and welcome to Week 11! What follows is a weekly strategy guide covering the main slate of FanDuel guaranteed prize pools (GPPs). It will be available every Friday from now until the Super Bowl. Each section includes a short description, and to make things easier for those short on time, every player covered in this column will be listed directly below with full analysis found in their corresponding sections.
For those that want nothing but the facts, here is every player covered in this column with a quick note on each. For those that want full analysis, keep reading.
- Drew Brees – potential fade candidate even though he’s one of a few quarterbacks that can maintain elite efficiency.
- Carson Wentz – a solid play despite his projected roster percentage. One of the best matchups on the board.
- Eli Manning – looked better last week and ranks seventh in yards per game since Week 5. Great matchup.
- Dak Prescott – quietly climbing fantasy ranks as the Cowboys offense stabilizes.
- David Johnson – great matchup but will he be needed as much as last week? Cardinals offense could disappear at any moment.
- Ezekiel Elliott – the engine of the Cowboys’ offense.
- Saquon Barkley – basically WR2 for the Giants. Best matchup on the board.
- Alex Collins – great matchup. Has as many touchdowns since Week 5 as Hunt, McCaffrey, and Johnson.
- Michael Thomas – ridiculous number of targets and gets another soft secondary this week.
- DeAndre Hopkins – since Week 5, no team has allowed more fantasy points to receivers than Washington.
- Odell Beckham Jr – trails only Adams in FanDuel points per game since Week 5.
- Amari Cooper – has hogged 26.8% of team targets and WR16 since joining Cowboys.
- Golden Tate – betting on matchup and assuming he gets more involved this week.
- Demaryius Thomas – great pivot from Hopkins. Was immediately plugged into offense two weeks ago.
- Zach Ertz – ranks second in FanDuel points per game since Week 5 among wide receivers and tight ends.
- Evan Engram – an afterthought last week but too go to ignore in a great matchup this week.
- James O'Shaughnessy – site-minimum player of the week.
Thoughts on Chalk
Even though creating roster uniqueness has long been the default strategy for GPPs, there’s a reason why certain players hold the confidence of the public. Remember that fading a player simply because he’s popular checks in as one of the worst processes. You wouldn’t build a lineup full of chalk; nor should you ignore a great situation in the name of contrarianism. With that said, this section will be dedicated to finding reasons why you might consider fading the players listed below. Keep in mind that all of these players are expected to have big games, so outright fades are never recommended, and be sure to check out Steve Buzzard’s percent rostered projections.
QB: Drew Brees - $8,500
Since Mark Ingram II’s return in Week 5, Brees’s pass attempts per game have dropped to 30—ranking 25th among quarterbacks. That’s a stark change of offensive play-calling compared to the first four weeks of the season when he averaged over 40 attempts per game. But despite lack of volume, he still ranks sixth in FanDuel points over that stretch thanks to elite touchdown numbers. His 13 passing touchdowns since Week 5 are more than all but three other quarterbacks. Brees is the type of quarterback that can maintain what most would consider an unsustainable efficiency, but it’s worth at least noting that touchdowns can come and go on any given Sunday.
The matchup this week doesn’t offer much support either. The Eagles offer a middle-of-the-road defense that has faced a dynamic mix of passers, from the low end of the spectrum (Dak Prescott, Blake Bortles, Eli Manning) to the high end (Kirk Cousins, Andrew Luck, Cam Newton, Ryan Fitzpatrick). The results yield the league’s 10th friendliest defense for passers. More importantly, the Saints’ defense has been shredded more often than not and the Eagles’ offense, though inconsistent, has the weapons in place to turn this game into a shootout. That hope is perhaps the best reason to roster Brees. And it doesn’t hurt that the Eagles’ defense has put the clamps on most running backs. Brees should be good for a couple of passing scores but tournament upside, due to lack of volume and yards, isn’t there this week. You’re better off rostering the other quarterback in this matchup and saving $800 (you eat chalk either way).
RB: David Johnson - $7,900
It seems the Cardinals’ have finally committed to utilizing Johnson the way he deserves to be utilized. He ran 26 receiving routes last week—the seventh most of all running backs—drew nine targets (most among running backs), handled 28 touches, and turned in 183 total yards and two total touchdowns. Since Week 5, no running back has earned a higher share of red zone opportunities, only one has a higher share of team carries, and only eight have produced more total yards.
Next up is a home date against a cratering Oakland Raiders club that has permitted the fifth most total yards per game, and 10th most touchdowns to running backs. Most recently, Melvin Gordon III smashed this defense with 165 total yards and one touchdown on 23 touches. Before that, Raheem Mostert and Matt Breida combined for 133 yards and a score. Before them, Marlon Mack and Nyheim Hines combined for 234 yards and two touchdowns. Before them, Nick Chubb and Carlos Hyde combined for 187 yards and three touchdowns… you get the point.
Johnson feels grossly underpriced considering his talents, recent usage, and current situation. His projected roster percentage makes a ton of sense. But if you’re looking for a reason to come in under the crowd, consider the fact that the Cardinals’ offense still shouldn’t be trusted. Despite his usage, Johnson logged only one game with over 20 FanDuel points until his eruption last week. This is a “bet on talent” situation as always. And the value he offers can’t be ignored. But this offense could disappear on Sunday, especially since they won’t be pressured by the Raiders like they were last week against the Chiefs.
WR: Michael Thomas - $8,800
Checking in as the second-most expensive player on the slate, Thomas ranks third in yards per game and sixth in FanDuel points per game among wide receivers since Week 5. The only thing more impressive than his ridiculous target numbers over the Saints last three games (29, tied for second most among all players) is his league-leading 86.2% catch rate. He’s as reliable as ever and a valuable focal point of one of the NFL’s best offenses.
He gets another soft matchup this week against the Eagles, who have allowed the fourth most receiving yards and FanDuel points per game to wide receivers. Even though we should have our concerns with Brees’s volume, those concerns don’t translate to Thomas, whose efficiency and high-floor justify his price. If Carson Wentz and Co. manage to spring this game into a shootout—a realistic possibility—Thomas will return a massive game, even though he’ll have red zone competition with both Kamara and Ingram. But unlike his teammates, Thomas’s value isn’t tied to scoring touchdowns. His floor remains one of the highest among all players, and his ceiling is always in play as a slate-breaker. Feel free to join the crowds and roster a heavy amount of Thomas.
TE: Zach Ertz - $7,600
Even when you normalize their strength of schedule, the Saints come out as one of the toughest defenses for tight ends. They’ve allowed the fifth fewest points to the position, the fourth lowest completion rate, and the seventh-fewest yards. None of that, of course, matters because Ertz is an elite tight end who runs more receiving routes than some team’s WR1 (he ranks 13th in that category among all players).
Since Week 5 only two players have earned a higher market share targets, no one has logged more receptions, and his 17.1% market share of red zone opportunities ranks ninth among tight ends and wide receivers. He’ll be insanely popular this week and even comes in a bit underpriced, so fading him makes for a sound GPP strategy. Unfortunately, there aren’t many quality alternatives, which adds significant risk to such a strategy. You can justify it by assuming Golden Tate earns more snaps and therefore more targets. But Ertz still makes for the most likely red zone option in what could end up being a high-scoring game. Combine that with the fact that he ranks second among wide receivers and tight ends in FanDuel points per game since Week 5, and we’ve reached a firm “fade at your peril” status.
Core players need no explanation: they are the meat and potatoes of lineups. Developing a list and building around them is DFS Strategy 101.
QB: Carson Wentz - $7,700
Since Week 5, Wentz has logged the fifth most passing yards per game and the 11th most passing attempts per game. He mirrors Brees’s efficiency with 12 passing touchdowns to only two interceptions and adds value with his abilities as a scrambler. This week, he’ll get to cut into the Saints’ busted secondary that may get better as Eli Apple gets more familiar with the playbook, but on the season have provided one of the friendliest defenses for opposing quarterbacks. To the game logs!
They held the A.J. Green-less Bengals in check last week but have allowed at least 19 FanDuel points to five of their nine opponents (six if you combine Dalton and Driskel). Only three teams have allowed a higher adjusted net yards per pass attempt, only four have allowed a higher completion percentage, and no team has allowed more FanDuel points per game to quarterbacks. As mentioned, Ertz makes for an elite play and with Tate likely earning more snaps to attack the slot, all signs point to Wentz turning in a solid afternoon. It helps that the Saints funnel production to passing attacks thanks to a solid defensive line that locks up running backs. This game offers the highest over/under of the slate (56 points) and he’ll challenge Brees as one of the chalkiest quarterbacks, but pencil in Wentz as one of your core plays and stack him with one or two of his teammates.
QB: Eli Manning - $6,700
You know it’s going to be a fun week when Manning gets touted as a core play and ranks near the top of everyone’s projections. We do have to serve some honesty to ourselves and recognize how bad his offensive line is and how poorly his decisions have come across in most games this season. But recently, he at least has shown signs of a fantasy quarterback worth rostering in most formats. Since Week 5, he ranks sixth in passing attempts and seventh in passing yards per game. He has logged three 300-yard games over that stretch and registered his first three-touchdown game last week. The risk of interceptions, of course, remains alive and well. But a soft matchup this week upgrades his ceiling, especially considering his price tag.
The Buccaneers, as always, provide a great opponent for quarterback streaming. You’ve likely heard all the stats but here’s just a quick refresher: no team has allowed more passing touchdowns, every team has logged more interceptions, no team has allowed a higher completion rate, only three teams have allowed more yards per game, and only three teams have allowed more FanDuel points per game. They’ve also logged the 10th lowest sack percentage and the second highest adjusted net yards per attempt. You add that to Manning’s recent performances and the talent he’s surrounded by, and you end up with a GPP viable quarterback who happens to be priced as the fourth cheapest passer of the slate. Plug your nose and lock him in.
RB: Saquon Barkley - $8,800
Barkley’s production has tumbled a bit lately thanks to an offensive line that can’t pass protect and certainly doesn’t create yards for running backs. He ranks 15th in rushing yards since Week 5 and has failed to score a touchdown over his last two games. But his abilities and usage as a receiver continue to secure his floor. He owns the second most targets and receiving yards among running backs since Week 5. Those numbers are good enough to push his yards per game to 132.6—the fourth most at the position. He comes into Week 11 with the fifth most FanDuel points per game on the season despite scoring only seven touchdowns.
Touchdowns, however, should make a presence on Sunday when he gets to chew into a Bucs’ run defense that has allowed the second-most total scores to running backs this year. They’ve prevented backs from churning out rushing yards, but with injuries downgrading an already questionable defense, they’re clearly vulnerable to elite rushers. Just two weeks ago, Christian McCaffrey ripped them for 157 yards, 78 of which were via the pass. The week before that, Joe Mixon crushed them on the ground with 123 yards and two touchdowns. And in Week 7, Chubb logged a respectable 80 yards and one touchdown. Barkley is as good or better than all of those players and essentially plays the WR2 role in his respective offense. He makes for a fine stacking-mate with Manning.
RB: Ezekiel Elliott - $8,400
It seemed Elliott’s value was plummeting along with the Cowboys’ bland offense, but then he trampled the Eagles on the road with a combined 187 yards and two touchdowns on 25 touches. The entire offense runs through him and now he gets a Falcons’ defense that most recently handed Chubb a 34-point performance last week. It wasn’t the first time Atlanta’s defense provided fantasy gold. James Conner smashed them for 185 yards and two scores back in Week 5. Kamara failed to score but logged 26 points anyway thanks to 190 combined yards in Week 3. McCaffrey also failed to score but managed 139 combined yards. Even Giovani Bernard pieced together a solid game on the back of two touchdowns in Week 4.
Not that you needed any of those numbers to justify rostering Elliott regardless of his ownership projections. A more valuable exercise is trying to find reasons to fade him. Those reasons barely exist outside of the Cowboys untrustworthy offense. Said offense has managed the eighth-fewest points and fourth-fewest yards on the season. That lack of production has dropped Elliott’s rank among running backs to 12th since Week 5. And it’s worth noting that the Falcons’ defense is getting healthier and have recently held both Adrian Peterson and Barkley in check before getting destroyed by the Browns. So, Elliott is obviously not without risk.
But the offense looked great last week and Amari Cooper’s addition should flatten out the way defenses approach the Cowboys. One way or the other, this game looks like it will produce a lot of offense so long as Dak Prescott can find some consistency (and his coaches find some modern offensive play-calling). And even if the offense falls back into their losing tendencies, note that Elliott ranks fourth among all players in total yards on the season, which verifies his secured floor. His price has barely budged all season despite his usage. Take advantage of his salary and match the crowd’s exposure.
RB: Alex Collins - $6,000
No one is going to touch Collins this week for more reasons than worth listing here. What’s important is to note that we don’t know for sure who his quarterback will be, and we don’t necessarily know how much action Ty Montgomery figures to earn, but we can say, without a doubt, that this is a fine game for the Ravens to adopt a ground-and-pound approach. The Bengals have been crushed by running backs of all shapes and sizes. They most recently allowed both Kamara and Ingram to combine for 47.9 points. Peyton Barber turned in one of his best of the season against them in Week 8. Kareem Hunt smoked them for 34.6 points. James Conner logged almost 27 points. And even Kenyan Drake scored 21.
Collins, of course, hasn’t done squat despite being a hotly touted draft pick in season-long leagues over the summer. He enters the week ranked 26th among running backs in total touches and has only 498 yards to show for it. The Ravens can’t seem to move defenders backward or provide lanes for any of their runners. But the Bengals may just do that for them, which sets up nicely for Collins, even if he ends up with only 12 or so touches. He saw his highest snap-share last week (51%) and has been consistently used as their main red zone option. Since Week 5, he has as many rushing scores (four) as Hunt, McCaffrey, and Johnson. Collins isn’t in the same league talent-wise as those guys, but he has a great matchup and an interesting quarterback situation headed into Week 11. A box score along the lines 45 yards and two touchdowns wouldn’t be surprising, which puts his salary in play for tournaments.
WR: DeAndre Hopkins - $8,600
Commanding a league-leading 34.3% market share of targets, Hopkins checks in as one of the safest options at wide receiver and offers plenty of slate-breaking upside. His 451 receiving yards since Week 5 rank only 10th among wide receivers, but five of the players above him aren’t available on the main slate, and despite averaging “only” 90.2 yards per game over that stretch, he’s made regular visits to the end zone (five touchdowns in his last four games). He’s also played some tough defenses. The Cowboys, Bills, Jaguars, Broncos, and even the Dolphins (his last five opponents) have presented a difficult path to fantasy points for wide receivers. Things get a lot easier this week when the Texans head to Washington, where they’ll face a secondary that has been crushed by receivers lately. To the game logs!
|Odell Beckham Jr||8||8||136||0||17.6||8500|
Since Week 5, no team has allowed more FanDuel points per game to wide receivers than Washington. Jones and Beckham Jr.’s stat lines are especially encouraging since they profile as elite wide receivers similar to Hopkins. Priced as WR3, he doesn’t offer us a discount in salary, but he does project to come in under-owned among the masses. He’s worth double the exposure of the crowd.
WR: Odell Beckham Jr - $8,500
Trailing only Davante Adams in FanDuel points per game since Week 5, Beckham storms into Week 11 after going off against Atlanta in Week 7 (11 targets, eight catches, 143 yards, and one touchdown), Washington in Week 8 (11/8/136/0), and San Francisco last week (11/4/73/2). He has drawn at least 10 targets in every game minus his nine-target effort in Week 2. He has seen at least 11 targets in six of his nine games, and at least 100 yards in five of nine. On the season, only two players boast a higher market share of targets, only five have more receiving yards, and only seven wide receivers have scored more FanDuel points per game. His lack of touchdowns is the only reason he ranks as low as WR7. He found pay dirt twice last week to bring his season total up to a measly four.
Sure to help those numbers is a home date with the Bucs’ defense, who have been picked on ad nauseam in this column. They’ve allowed more wide receiver touchdowns than every other team except the Saints (both teams have allowed 15), their 75.7% completion rate is the highest in the league, and their 36.7 FanDuel points per game rank second. Beckham figures to be one of the highest rostered players of the week, and for good reason. Feel free to join the crowd, even if it means rolling out a Giants stack of Manning/Barkley/Beckham for all or none of the monies.
WR: Amari Cooper - $6,600
If you buy into the idea that the Cowboys’ offense showed life last week and it’s a sign that they’re about to get hot, then you should absolutely roster Cooper and his salary-saving price tag. Since making his Cowboys’ debut in Week 9, he ranks 16th among wide receivers in FanDuel points, eighth in targets, 11th in receptions, and has hogged 26.8% of team targets. The matchup this week could be challenging when he ends up in Desmond Trufant’s coverage, but as a unit, the Falcons have provided a soft spot for wide receivers, ranking seventh in FanDuel points per game and sixth in touchdowns allowed to the position. This game has the makings of a shootout, yet Jones and Elliott are the only two players drawing much attention. That makes Cooper a solid tournament play since he doesn’t need a massive game to hit value, has massive-game upside, and won’t end up on a lot of rosters.
TE: Evan Engram - $5,800
Engram didn’t exist in last week’s game until late in the fourth quarter when he logged three catches on four targets for 46 yards. That seems to be the trend this year. He doesn’t get much going until the Giants fall behind and are forced into a heavy passing attack late in games. But this week ushers in the best matchup he’ll have all season. The Bucs have allowed the most yards and second-most FanDuel points per game to tight ends. Engram is far too talented to not be a prominent feature of the Giants’ struggling offense. His price isn’t friendly but he makes for a solid play this week.
Arizona Cardinals - $4,000
The Cardinals rank third in sack percentage on the season and managed to hold the best offense in the league to 26 points and 330 total yards last week. This week, they welcome Derek Carr and a broken Raiders team that has scored nine total points over their last two games, and 40 points over their last four. Carr has been sacked a ridiculous 17 times across that stretch. He is protecting the ball well (by throwing it away at the very sight of pressure) but the Raiders look like one of the worst offenses we’ve seen in years. This is a great spot for the Cardinals’ defense to show their teeth and reward us with a bundle of sacks and fantasy points.
Pittsburgh Steelers - $3,800
The Steelers 31 sacks on the season tie them with the Packers, Vikings, Chiefs for the most among all teams. They’ve allowed the eighth-fewest yards and the 10th lowest adjusted net yards per attempt to quarterbacks. Unfortunately, those numbers haven’t translated into turnovers—only 11 on the season. But Blake Bortles, who has eight interceptions on the season, could certainly help improve those numbers. The Jaguars have committed the fifth most turnovers on the season while scoring the fourth-fewest points. It’s never comfortable taking a road-defense who faces a team that just got its best offensive player back in the lineup, but the Steelers rank seventh in FanDuel points on the season and offer a fair price against a turnover-prone team.
Similar to sleepers, contrarian players are those the crowd has completely mispriced and undervalued. In some cases, it’s a player coming off an injury or facing a difficult matchup but still carries a heavy price tag. In other cases, it could be a player that has struggled recently and therefore deemed untrustworthy. In all cases, guard your exposure to players listed in this section but get them in at least a few lineups.
QB: Dak Prescott - $7,400
Believe it or not, Prescott has climbed his way into a QB13 ranking in FanDuel points per game since Week 5—QB12 if you eliminate Jameis Winston. His fantasy numbers beat out the likes of Jared Goff, Tom Brady, Deshaun Watson, Philip Rivers, and Kirk Cousins. Most of Prescott’s production has come via his legs, where he ranks third among quarterbacks in rushing yards and has logged the most rushing scores at the position since Week 5 (three). On tap is a tasty matchup against a defense that has been blasted by quarterbacks all season. All but three passers have managed at least 300 passing yards, and all but two (Alex Smith and Nick Foles) have managed at least 20 FanDuel points against the Falcons. They’ve also allowed the fourth most rushing yards to passers, which immediately boosts Prescott’s outlook.
On the other side of the ball, the Cowboys’ defense has played well, having held six of their nine opponents to 20 points or fewer. But they’ve allowed a healthy 69.7% completion rate to opposing passers—the fourth highest in the league—and haven’t faced an offense as prolific as the Falcons. On the road, expect this defense to struggle and expect Matt Ryan and Co. to consistently move the ball and force Prescott into abnormal passing volume. Helping that volume is the Falcons inability to prevent pass-catching running backs from logging monster games. That’s a great situation for both Prescott and Elliott, who make sense as a nontraditional stack in what smells like a potential barn burner.
RB: Doug Martin - $6,200
We can sugarcoat this plug by lazily throwing out the fact that Martin has produced the 13th most yards among running backs since Week 8, but that sort of fabricates his effectiveness. From a per game basis, he ranks 22nd in yards over the last three while scoring only 8.7 FanDuel points per. But we can excuse some of that because 1) he plays for Oakland, and 2) he gets a sweetheart of a matchup this week. The Cardinals have been destroyed by running backs all year (fourth most FanDuel points allowed per game), and although they’ve cleaned things up lately, they’re still an attractive matchup to exploit.
Martin has averaged a healthy 4.7 yards per carry since taking over as the lead back and looked solid in a bad game script last week. With the way the Cardinals’ offense has looked this season, even after coaching changes, there’s hope that the Raiders can at least keep things close in this one and maybe even capitalize on a few mistakes. Should that happen, Martin may finally find the end zone and make good on his salary-saving price tag. We do, after all, need to log a value play in order to lock in some combination of Elliott, Johnson, Barkley, and Melvin Gordon III. Martin allows you to get two of those guys, along with a decent wide receiver.
You could also consider Kerryon Johnson for the same price (and quite a bit more ownership). He’s a great player in an awful situation. The Lions traded away a major part of their offense and has been dumpster fire ever since. He has a tough matchup at home, but should at least earn the majority of snaps. Unfortunately, there’s no guarantee that he gets pulled on the goal line, something that doesn’t threaten Martin as much.
WR: Golden Tate - $6,600
The ultimate pivot from Ertz, if you roster Tate, you do so under the assumption that he’ll be a lot more involved than he was last week when he played only 29% of snaps. A player of his skill set should quickly get involved, and if he does, he’ll get a juicy matchup against P.J. Williams who grades out as one of the worst slot corners in the league. The Saints have allowed six touchdowns and an 82% catch rate to slot receivers this year. If he gets playing time, this is a blowup spot for Tate. He’s risky, but tournament victories require risk.
FRIDAY UPDATE: We have some coach-speak to hang our hats on regarding Tate's usage this week!
WR: Demaryius Thomas - $5,600
Unlike Tate, Thomas was immediately plugged into the offense in his first game with the Texans. He played 79% of snaps and managed 61 yards on only three targets. After a bye week, he should be even more involved in what sets up as a great spot for Texans’ wide receivers. To reboot: since Week 5, no team has allowed more FanDuel points per game to wide receivers than Washington. Thomas registers as a great pivot from Hopkins and could benefit by playing the WR2 role for the first time in years, especially in the red zone. His price, respective offense, and low exposure make him an intriguing tournament play worthy of your attention.
TE: James O'Shaughnessy- $4,000
Your site-minimum player of the week, O’Shaughnessy has logged 16 targets over his last three games (missed Week 7 and 8) and managed five catches on six targets last week for 46 yards while playing 69% of snaps. The Steelers don’t allow a lot of FanDuel points, but 15.3% of them have gone to tight ends—the third highest rate of all teams. All told, Pittsburgh has allowed the seventh most yards and fifth most fantasy points to the position, placing O’Shaughnessy in firm GPP territory. His price does wonders for lineup builds if you don’t mind punting this position and risking a potential donut.
Def: Houston Texans - $4,200
The Texans are coming off a bye and facing a team that has manufactured the sixth fewest yards and sixth-fewest points. Alex Game Manager Smith protects the ball well but has endured six sacks over his last two games thanks to a Washington offensive line that we now have ranked 31st. If Deshaun Watson puts Washington’s defense on its back and forces Smith into more passes, it stands to reason that the Texans will finally generate some turnovers and maybe even some sacks—two categories that haven’t been a bright spot for a team that normally generates consistent pressure. Their price and situation will likely keep the crowds away. Be sure to get them into a few lineups and consider making them a core building piece.
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