We’re making the best of a bad situation here, as last week’s injury epidemic has opened up some value on FanDuel. Most notably, the running back position, where DeAngelo Williams and Jeremy Langford will fill in for Le’Veon Bell and Matt Forte respectively. It makes sense to take these value picks in this situation, paying up to stabilize your lineup at other positions. I prefer one over the other this week, but that’s not to say that a Williams/Langford combination is completely out of the picture either, as they both inherit favorable circumstances.
More on that later.
In case you are new to this column, my object is to outline the best picks on FanDuel every week. Most of the time they will be popular for all intents and purposes, as I’m screening for the best combination of salary, matchup, game flow, and opportunity.
These picks should be a primary focus in cash games, while blending some of them with “sneakier” picks for tournaments.
“Where can I find these sneaky picks?” you ask.
My colleague Renee Miller has put together a nice piece on Contrarian Plays earlier this week.
Now back to the FanDuel Must Plays, outlined by priority to your lineups for NFL Week 9:
PLATINUM: Build your lineup around these guys
DeAngelo Williams – RB – PIT (FanDuel Price: $6,500)
I touched on Williams in the introduction, and believe he is the best value running back of this slate, essential to your lineups. Pittsburgh checks in as 4 point home favorites, which could easily establish game flow in favor of Williams on the ground. The perception of this Raiders run defense has evolved over the season, as they have gone from DFS target to stay-away lately. Still, Oakland hasn’t exactly seen the best rushing teams as of late, and Williams will see enough volume running/receiving to put up a respectable fantasy line. Soaking up almost all of the snaps (and goal-line carries) for a high-powered offense firmly cements Williams as a great value commodity.
Mark Ingram – RB – NO (FanDuel Price: $7,700)
Khiry Robinson has landed on the injured reserve, meaning Ingram should be turned loose without any worry about a vulture stealing his goal-line attempts. That’s especially good news in this matchup, as Tennessee ranks in the bottom ten for yards per carry allowed (4.3). Ingram checks all the boxes this week, having volume, game flow (New Orleans favored by 8), matchup, and a reasonable salary to work with. He’s a Tier 1 play that isn’t necessarily priced like one.
GOLD: Next wave to consider, in terms of priority
Antonio Brown – WR – PIT (FanDuel Price: $8,700)
Now is time for Brown to really bust loose. He had a difficult matchup last week vs Cincinnati, and Ben Roethlisberger looked erratic in his first start back from injury. However, a home matchup against a mediocre Oakland secondary looks much more inviting, and I’m expecting Brown and Roethlisberger to get back to early season form (where Brown had three straight 100+ yard games). Antonio is a little bit cheaper than other top-tier wide receivers like Beckham and Julio Jones, yet he could realistically out-produce both of them.
Tom Brady – QB – NE (FanDuel Price: $9,500)
Brady is probably the chalkiest of these picks, as he’s far and away the most expensive QB on the board, averaging a whopping 27 fantasy points per contest this season. I don’t usually recommend top-flight quarterbacks unless you can realistically fit them into your lineup. Needless to say, with the value at running back, you can get Tom Brady into your cash games this week. The Patriots are expected to put up 30+ points again this week, and Brady should be able to torch a Washington secondary that hemorrhaged fantasy production to Ryan Fitzpatrick and Jameis Winston the past two games.
SILVER: Good options that narrowly rank ahead of similar players
Jeremy Langford – RB – CHI (FanDuel Price: $6,400)
Langford was mentioned in the same breath as Williams in the introduction. While I prefer Williams over him, a combination of the two isn’t a bad strategy on FanDuel. Langford has a fantastic matchup against San Diego, as the Chargers have one of the worst rushing defenses in the NFL this season. However, game flow may not be on his side, as the Bears check in as 4 point road underdogs in this Monday Night matchup. He’s a fine salary relief option given the uptick in volume, but Williams narrowly ranks ahead of him, working for a better offense.
Antonio Gates – TE – SD (FanDuel Price: $6,000)
Gates came off injury to post a respectable 4-56 line at Baltimore, which actually was pretty bad by his own high standards. Well, he could get back to that lofty upside against a weak Chicago secondary … Star receiver Keenan Allen is out for the season, and backup tight end Ladarius Green is questionable with an injury. All of this points to Gates seeing more targets for the pass-happy Chargers.
BRONZE: Not 100% necessities, but they mix well into a quality lineup
Michael Crabtree – WR – OAK (FanDuel Price: $5,800)
If you can’t quite reach up for Brady, falling back on Derek Carr is a pretty reasonable strategy for cash games, as he has been very hot over the past few weeks, facing a subpar Pittsburgh secondary. As far as his wide receivers go, Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree are both in nice situations. Crabtree is coming off back to back solid games of 6-63-1 and 7-102-1 against the Chargers and Jets respectively. There will be no shortage of pass attempts for Oakland in this game, as the Steelers are solid against the run, but generous against the pass. Look for the Raiders to take the path of least resistance in that regard, meaning Cooper and Crabtree will see plenty of targets.
New York Jets Defense (FanDuel Price: $4,700)
Blake Bortles has been better over the past few weeks, but that also came against some pretty suspect secondaries. Facing the Jets on the road should be a different story, especially with New York’s defense out for blood after getting toasted by Derek Carr last week. Good matchup, capable talent, and quality circumstances vaults the Jets defense into cash game contention this week.
PARTICIPATION RIBBONS: Fell just short of a featured spot
Amari Cooper – WR – OAK
Darren McFadden – RB – DAL
Derek Carr – QB – OAK
Rob Gronkowski – TE – NE
Steve Johnson – WR – SD
Jordan Reed – TE – WAS