For those who are new to the FanDuel primer this season, I’ll be breaking down the week ahead using a variety of research tools available on RotoGrinders. This column will evolve as the season wears on and will highlight different research tools and statistics that I use when building my own DFS teams. We’ll start Week 10 with our Targets Page, where you’ll find a breakdown of touches, targets, red zone targets and percentage of workload. It’s an invaluable tool that can help you find players who are in the best positions to succeed; it’s no secret that you want players on your fantasy team who are heavily involved in the offense, especially those that are also key cogs in the red zone. Thursday players or those on a bye week will not be included here.
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We’ll start Week 11 with our Targets Page, where you’ll find a breakdown of touches, targets, red-zone targets and percentage of workload. It’s an invaluable tool that can help you find players who are in the best positions to succeed; it’s no secret that you want players on your fantasy team who are heavily involved in the offense, especially those that are also key cogs in the red-zone. Players on a bye week will not be included here.
RBs averaging at least 4.50 targets through ten weeks:
Le’Veon Bell (0.83 RzTar/Gm) – 9.33
David Johnson (0.78 RzTar/Gm) – 6.89
Theo Riddick (1.14 RzTar/Gm) – 6.57
Duke Johnson (0.30 RzTar/Gm) – 5.40
James White (0.33 RzTar/Gm), Darren Sproles (1.00 RzTar/Gm) – 5.22
Ty Montgomery (1.33 RzTar/Gm) – 5.00
Giovani Bernard (0.67 RzTar/Gm) – 4.78
DeMarco Murray (1.20 RzTar/Gm)– 4.60
Facing off with a Cleveland defense that is allowing the second-most rushing yards per game, Le’Veon Bell is the top overall play at the RB spot. It’s hard to rival the 49ers’ ineptitude against the run, but Cleveland is close. They allow a shade under 130 yards per game on the ground (to RBs only), including an average of 1.2 rushing TDs per game. Bell has remained remarkably consistent even with a dearth of TD production, but it’d be surprising not to see him to find the painted grass at least once on Sunday. No back on this slate has a higher floor or ceiling. David Johnson may not agree with that statement, but it’s only his matchup with Minnesota’s defense that makes it true. They’ve allowed the fifth-most FPPG to RBs, but they have shown more vulnerability of late and are about league average in terms of rushing yards allowed. The volume will remain, so this isn’t a poor spot by any means; it’s just not as much of a cakewalk as Bell’s. Johnson is a fine GPP target with Bell and DeMarco Murray likely to be more popular DFS plays, but I don’t love the idea of playing any Cardinals in cash games, especially with them traveling east for an early start.
Theo Riddick’s passing volume took a dive in the Lions’ Week 8 matchup with Minnesota (they’re coming off a bye). He finished with just one catch on three targets, but hadn’t recorded fewer than four receptions or five targets in a game prior to that. Considering that he’s still the lead dog in Detroit’s backfield, Riddick remains a viable GPP target but isn’t a recommended cash game play on a .5 PPR, TD-heavy site. Jacksonville has also held opposing RBs to the third-fewest receiving yards per game, but most of that simply has to do with the fact that they’re constantly trailing. The Eagles draw with the Seahawks sets up better for Darren Sproles than it does Ryan Mathews, but I’m not pulling the trigger on either of the Philly RBs this weekend. I don’t expect any facet of the Eagles Offense to have much success, and Sproles’ role will be in flux week-to-week. Speaking of RBs that may be on the wrong side of a time share, Ty Montgomery isn’t going to benefit from a healthy James Starks or the signing of Christine Michael. Starks played the majority of Green Bay’s snaps in Week 9 and figures to continue to do so against a Washington defense that been gashed on the ground this year (third-most rushing yards allowed per game). Montgomery’s sickle-cell issue doesn’t help matters. Scoring at least 16 FD points in nine of his 10 games, DeMarco Murray is firmly in play in any format. He’s 2nd in the league in rushing yards, fourth in receptions and fifth in receiving TDs, and hasn’t finished a game with fewer than 19 touches. It’s clear that he’s a massive part of the Titans Offense each and every week, so there is no reason not to play him against a Colts Defense that allows the second-highest YPC (4.7).
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WRs averaging at least 9.50 targets through ten weeks:
Mike Evans (1.11 RzTar/Gm) – 11.78
Antonio Brown (1.11 RzTar/Gm) – 11.56
Larry Fitzgerald (1.44 RzTar/Gm) – 11.11
A.J. Green (1.11 RzTar/Gm) – 11.00
Allen Robinson (1.56 RzTar/Gm) – 10.44
Stefon Diggs (1.00 RzTar/Gm) – 10.13
Jordy Nelson (2.22 RzTar/Gm), Odell Beckham (1.00 RzTar/Gm) – 10.11
T.Y. Hilton (0.89 RzTar/Gm) – 10.00
DeAndre Hopkins (0.56 RzTar/Gm) – 9.89
Amari Cooper (0.89 RzTar/Gm) – 9.78
After holding a decent lead over his counterparts in the targets department, Mike Evans’ five-target Week 10 has cost him some ground. He should get rolling again this week even against a slow-paced Chiefs team – while they do a great job at slowing tight ends, Kansas City can be exploited with wide receivers. They’ve allowed the fifth-most FPPG to the position and should cause Jameis Winston to funnel targets to Evans with Cameron Brate and the running game in unfavorable spots. I’ll have more exposure to Le’Veon Bell, but Antonio Brown won’t be far behind. He’s remained productive even in games when the rest of the offense isn’t clicking (Week 9 for example) and seems to thrive regardless of the conditions. As is the case most weeks, he’s playable in any format. The fact that Larry Fitzgerald runs most of his routes out of the slot should help him avoid Xavier Rhodes, and that’s enough for me to consider pulling the trigger in GPPs. He’s involved near the goal-line and hasn’t seen fewer than seven targets in a game this year, giving him a very high floor at a $7,000 price tag. A.J. Green has seen a combined 29 targets over his last two games and with the Bills being beatable through the air, the workload shouldn’t drop off much on Sunday. The Bengals passing game runs through Green and it doesn’t hurt matters that the Bills are allowing 8.8 yards per target to receivers, third-worst in the NFL.
His slow start has scared people away lately, but Allen Robinson has gotten back on track over the last two games with a combined 16-183-2 line on 25 targets. He’s gone at least three straight games with 12 or more targets and is in another spot where the Jags should be forced to throw often, not that their ineffective ground game doesn’t help that cause. Darius Slay could be looming – it’s possible he makes a return this week – but the volume keeps Robinson on the GPP radar. The change at offensive coordinator for the Vikings has paid huge dividends for Stefon Diggs. He’s seen 29 targets over the past two games and has reeled in 26 of them, but hasn’t managed to find the end-zone. Getting Diggs the ball on quick-hitting throws now seems to be the Vikings’ preferred method of attack offensively, and even with Patrick Peterson expected to follow him in the slot, Diggs is too big a part of this offense to be ignored at $6,800. He’s fifth among WRs in percentage of workload. The NFL’s leader in red zone targets is none other than Jordy Nelson. He saw 18 passes come his way this past weekend and even with Josh Norman looming, Nelson’s touchdown upside makes him a viable target in any format. I’d prefer to pay a little extra for Mike Evans or A.J. Green in cash games.
Odell Beckham is arguably the top overall play at the WR spot this weekend. As Eli Manning’s touchdown numbers have started to pick up, so has Beckham’s production. He’s scored six times over the past five games and has yet to see fewer than eight passes in a game this year, so a matchup with the Bears’ secondary makes him a fine target across the board. It’s not a great sign that he’s been held to fewer than 50 yards in three of his last six games, but that has occurred in a string of bad draws. Donte Moncrief’s return does dampen the upside of T.Y. Hilton, yet it certainly doesn’t take him out of play. Opposing No. 1 WRs have put up some big numbers against the Titans, including Hilton himself who torched them for 7-133-1 on 12 targets back in late October. A combined 14 targets in the two games before the bye isn’t something we want to see, but it may help to keep his GPP ownership in line. The Raiders have fortunately made their duo of lead receivers fairly predictable in the sense that they’ve utilized whoever has the better CB matchup more frequently. Amari Cooper figures to have that draw this week, running most of his routes against Jonathan Joseph. Those playing in prime-time contests will likely want to go a bit heavier on Cooper compared to Crabtree, but the nature of two-game slates will make lineups featuring both more than viable.
TEs with at least 6.25 targets per game through ten weeks:
Jordan Reed (1.00 RzTar/Gm) – 9.00
Dennis Pitta (0.67 RzTar/Gm) – 7.33
Kyle Rudolph (1.11 RzTar/Gm) – 7.22
Eric Ebron (0.50 RzTar/Gm) – 7.17
Jason Witten (1.33 RzTar/Gm) – 7.00
Delanie Walker (0.67 RzTar/Gm) – 6.89
Zach Miller (0.78 RzTar/Gm) – 6.78
Jimmy Graham (0.78 RzTar/Gm), Travis Kelce (1.33 RzTar/Gm) – 6.44
Tyler Eifert (1.01 RzTar/Gm) – 6.33
I was a bigger fan of Jordan Reed than most this past week, but at least his 2-41-0 (4 targets) game helped to drop his price. At $6,900, I’m having a very tough time not heavily targeting Reed in GPPs, and even with Martellus Bennett looking like the top dollar-per-point play at the position, Reed is a viable cash play. Green Bay has had their fair share of struggles with athletic tight ends (Delanie Walker highlighted that last weekend, as did Julius Thomas in Week 1) and Week 10 was Reed’s first game with fewer than 10 targets since September. As nice as Pitta’s consistent targets are, he’s acting as a safety valve and isn’t giving you yardage or touchdown upside. I’m not going back to the well against Dallas, who dominates the time of possession battle. If Stefon Diggs is slowed by Patrick Peterson at all, Kyle Rudolph would be one of only a few potential players to benefit. Still, I’m not making it a point to roster him – having exposure to one Sam Bradford pass catcher is enough for me to stomach. With 18 combined targets over his past two games (at least 7-79 in each game), Eric Ebron remains one of the better deep GPP plays at the TE spot if you’re going cheap. The touchdown production hasn’t been there (nor have the red zone looks to date), but Ebron’s size and ability to win in small spaces should help drive more looks in his direction.
After dismantling the Packers Defense, Delanie Walker steps into another plus draw against the Colts. Indy is allowing the sixth-most FPPG to TEs – an average line of 6.44/75.22/0.44 – and Walker has already hung a 7-84-1 line on this unit in 2016. Walker didn’t get off to a hot start this year, but has warmed up along with Marcus Mariota over the last month and should stay on track Sunday. Without Alshon Jeffery in the fold, Zach Miller figures to see a bump in usage along with Cameron Meredith and Eddie Royal. He’s seen 17 targets over the past two games so it’s clear that Cutler’s presence isn’t going to have a negative impact, and the Giants are definitely not a defense we need to avoid with TEs. With about 10 targets a game to be distributed between Meredith, Miller and Royal, it’s safe to project Miller for 7-9 targets on Sunday. Jimmy Graham took a back seat to Doug Baldwin (3 TDs) in Week 10, but things could reverse course a bit on Sunday against the Eagles. This isn’t a plus spot for Graham by any means – the Eagles have been the second-toughest draw for TEs – but none of the Seattle skill-position players are necessarily in a ‘favorable’ draw. I’m not making it a point to pay for Graham with Jordan Reed available at a very similar price tag.
It’s looking like Jeremy Maclin isn’t going to suit up in Week 11, which sets up well for Travis Kelce. The Chiefs TE has let DFS owners down in back-to-back weeks which bodes well for those willing to take a chance in GPPs, but the nature of Kansas City’s passing attack (i.e. low volume and relatively unpredictable) makes him an easy guy to ignore in cash games. Kelce has seen double-digit targets in just one game this year, with some early-season TD production keeping his season-long numbers stable. Tyler Eifert’s game logs have been all over the map since his return. Things should start to normalize now that he’s playing regular snaps, and a matchup with a Bills Defense that struggles against both receivers and tight ends puts Cincinnati’s top two weapons in great spots. A heavy dose of A.J. Green in GPPs may limit how much I play Eifert, but both of Dalton’s elite weapons are well worth close consideration in any format.
DEFENSE VS POSITION
Let’s move to the Defense vs. Position page, where you’ll get a clear breakdown of how each defense fares against each offensive position. Now that we’re dealing with over a half-season’s worth of data, this is one of the tools I visit the most when prepping my DFS lineups. All player salaries listed below are from FanDuel, and the DvP rankings are based on FanDuel scoring.
Quarterback – Andrew Luck vs. Tennessee (24th vs. QBs)
Even with Marcus Mariota coming in just $100 cheaper than Luck, I can still see a good chunk of the field rolling with the Titans’ signal-caller. That will not be my method of attack. Luck’s price has fallen over the last month and a home matchup with a vulnerable pass defense makes him my top dollar per point play at the QB spot. Luck has already torched this defense once this year, throwing for 350+ yards on 39 attempts (3 TDs), and that game was played outdoors on the road. Tennessee has been getting torched by QBs over the past month and with Donte Moncrief now healthy, Luck has a full arsenal of weapons at his disposal. T.Y. Hilton is the most optimal pass-catcher to pair him with, but Moncrief’s TD upside also makes him a strong option. Given the upside this passing attack possesses, playing all three together in tournament lineups isn’t out of the question, but I’d rather pair up Luck/Hilton with a guy like DeMarco Murray or Delanie Walker.
Running Back – LeGarrette Blount vs. San Francisco (32nd vs. RBs)
The 49ers have been historically bad against the run. With New England settling in as huge favorites in San Francisco, expect them to hit San Francisco in the mouth with a heavy dose of Blount. This defense has allowed an absurd 160 rush yards per game (to RBs alone) with an average of 1.44 rush TDs per game, making them far and away the best draw for opposing tailbacks. The 49ers offense plays at the fastest pace in the league which sets up their opponent for an extra drive or two each game, so it would be shocking to see Blount finish with fewer than 20 touches in a matchup like this. Blount leads the league with 12 rushing TDs on the season, and he should add to that total Sunday.
Wide Receiver – Tyreek Hill vs. Tampa Bay (30th vs. WRs)
This one is a little off-the-wall, but Hill is one of my favorite sub-$6K receivers on this slate with Jeremy Maclin expected to sit in Week 11. With Maclin out of action in Week 10, Hill saw 13 targets, 10 of which he caught for 89 yards. He did fumble twice which is concerning, but he’s seemed to take the reins as the next-in-line guy behind Maclin (neither Chris Conley nor Albert Wilson have been exciting this year). Hill’s big play ability is welcomed by the Chiefs’ coaching staff given Alex Smith’s limitations at QB, so he should continue to be utilized frequently until Maclin returns. Hill moves around a lot in formations – he hasn’t spent more than 36% of the time in any one spot on the field – so he’ll see a variety of Tampa DBs.
Wide Receiver – Julian Edelman vs. San Francisco (27th vs. WRs)
We know the Patriots are going to put up points, it’s just a matter of determining who will find the painted grass most frequently. Edelman isn’t a great bet for touchdowns – he’s scored just one this year – but with Gronkowski out and the 49ers struggling more with receivers than TEs, I love this $6,100 price tag. Since Brady has returned, Edelman has seen no fewer than seven targets in a game and I highly doubt Brady’s presence has fully been factored into Edelman’s price at this point. Jimmie Ward isn’t a great draw for slot receivers, but the nature of Edelman’s routes make him very tough to cover. If he’s able to score this weekend, Edelman will absolutely blow the lid off his price tag.
Welcome back to Value town, parts unknown. I won’t be recommending the Aaron Rodgers’ of the world here, but instead will highlight a few players with price tags that don’t add up to their level of talent, opportunity and/or matchup. The ultimate goal is to find players at the bottom of the salary chart who have the upside to produce at an elite level. The format will be a little different going forward – instead of picking a player per position, I’ll list out a handful of plays at each position and note which formats I prefer them in (cash plays are also playable in GPPs).
Potential Cash QBs at or under $7,500: None
Russell Wilson could potentially be a cash game QB, but with Andrew Luck priced at $8,100 (Wilson sits at $7,400), I’ll take the higher floor (and ceiling) and pay up for Luck. Philadelphia’s defense remains one of the toughest in the league, and the fact that Wilson still isn’t giving us much in the rushing department caps both his ceiling and floor. The Eagles pass rush could also be a problem, but the upside here is hard to ignore at $7,400. I never feel good about Blake Bortles these days, but at the end of the day he typically ends up producing. Of course, most of that production comes in garbage time, but we’re not concerned with WHEN we get it, as long as it comes. Detroit was being ravaged by QBs earlier in the season, although they’ve stiffened as the season has worn on. In a game where the 49ers should be playing catch-up all afternoon, Colin Kaepernick is still in play at $7,000. I really like the GPP upside he possesses, the only problem is it’s not easy to peg who his leading receiver will be. Quinton Patton – who has recorded 18 targets over the past two weeks – is probably your best bet in terms of players to pair with Kaep.
Potential Cash RBs at or under $6,500: C.J. Prosise
With Christine Michael shipped out of town and Thomas Rawls slowly working his way back from injury, the Seattle backfield figures to belong mainly to C.J. Prosise this weekend. He was a true workhorse in Week 10, racking up 17 carries (66 yards) and seven catches (87 yards) on 24 total touches against New England. If his usage stays anywhere near that range, he’s going to be almost impossible to fade in cash games at $4,900. He does make for an interesting GPP fade against a tough Eagles front-seven.
I’m not enamored with many of the other cheap RB plays this weekend. I’m fine with Frank Gore, but we pretty much know what we’re getting there, and it’s not a terribly high ceiling. Gore will give you about 70-80 total yards, it’s just a matter of whether or not he’s able to find the painted grass. Rob Kelley has fully taken on the lead-back role in Washington, recording at least 20 carries in his last two games. He hasn’t contributed much in the receiving department, but that’s factored into his still-too-cheap price tag at FanDuel. After playing 71% of the snaps last weekend, James Starks is firmly entrenched as a GPP punt play. Ty Montgomery is still dealing with sickle-cell issues and has been limited the last few weeks as a result, so it’s not out of the question for Starks to see 15-20 touches against a vulnerable Washington run defense.
If DeSean Jackson is forced to sit out again in Week 11, I’m perfectly content utilizing Jamison Crowder in any format. Pierre Garcon would become a stronger target in all formats also, but I’ll give the slight nod to Crowder here. Now that Alshon Jeffery will miss the next month for a PED suspension, Cameron Meredith is back in the DFS spotlight. Priced at just $5,600, he’s going to be very popular this weekend and should be the most heavily owned receiver under $6K. I’m fine with this play in cash games, but the GPP fade could be worthwhile. Meredith hasn’t really shown much with Cutler under center to date, but the two also haven’t really had a chance to work together.
He’s been overshadowed by Jordy Nelson and Davante Adams in recent weeks, but Randall Cobb is a nice bounce back candidate in a matchup where he should avoid Josh Norman’s coverage. He’s been limited in practice this week due to a hamstring issue, but should still be good to suit up Sunday night. I really don’t like the idea of playing any of the Eagles skill-position players, but Jordan Matthews should avoid Richard Sherman and is the only even semi-respectable weapon that Carson Wentz has at his disposal. With Markus Wheaton out and Sammie Coates dealing with two broken fingers, Eli Rogers should settle into a normal role with the Steelers until one of those two return to full health. The target totals may be a little erratic, but the upside is well worth targeting at Rogers’ current price tag.
Potential Cash TEs at or under $5,500: Martellus Bennett
With Rob Gronkowski expected to sit, Martellus Bennett becomes a plug and play cash option if you aren’t paying up for Jordan Reed. Delanie Walker is also cash game playable given the matchup, but I’ll likely choose between Reed and Bennett for the most part. San Francisco’s fast-paced offense makes virtually all of the Patriots’ weapons recommended targets.