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.com. 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 still be relying on last season’s data to an extent, but I’ll certainly be positioning most of the recommendations below based on different things we saw the past three weeks. We’ll start Week 4 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 5.5 targets through three games:
DeAngelo Williams – 7.0
Giovani Bernard – 6.67
T.J. Yeldon – 6.0
Williams is no longer fantasy relevant with Le’Veon Bell back in the fold, but we can fully expect Bell to pick up where Williams left off. Bell was one of the most heavily involved players in the league last season and that isn’t going to change while he’s healthy. He’s one of the top overall plays at the position this week. Gio Bernard is more game-flow dependent than we’d like. He’s seen exactly five carries in each of the first three games, and a 12 target game against Pittsburgh – which will probably be his highest total of the season – is skewing his target per game numbers. The leader among RBs in red-zone targets is none other than DeMarco Murray (five, tied with Bilal Powell). His draw against Houston isn’t a good one, but Murray is at least involved enough in the passing game that his floor still remains fairly high. Especially with Delanie Walker banged up, the Titans just don’t have any better options. Theo Riddick disappointed his Week 3 owners despite racking up 17 touches, his highest total in a game over his entire career. His nine targets had a lot to do with the Lions playing catch-up all afternoon, although we shouldn’t expect his usage to drop off too much. Dwayne Washington has seemingly earned a big chunk of early-down work, which caps Riddick’s ceiling, but he’s not a bad bounce back candidate.
T.J. Yeldon’s DFS relevance lies solely with the status of Chris Ivory. Despite coming up with two new ailments in his return last week, Ivory practiced on Wednesday in a limited capacity, which does suggest he has a decent shot to suit up. If he does, Yeldon isn’t an option. David Johnson has kept right on rolling despite several other members of the passing game struggling through the first few weeks. Despite the fact that Arizona got down early (which doesn’t bode well for RBs), Johnson was still able to find the end-zone twice and finished with a healthy 22 touches. He remains an elite DFS option in any format heading into Week 4. The other Johnson – Duke – has finally started to get involved in the Browns Offense after a very slow start. He racked up 15 touches Sunday (he had a total of 13 in the first two games) and with the Browns looking for any kind of offensive spark behind Terrelle Pryor, Johnson may continue to see in the neighborhood of 10-15 touches.
WRs averaging at least 9.5 targets through three games:
Antonio Brown – 13.33
Mike Evans – 12.33
Jarvis Landry – 11.67
T.Y. Hilton – 11.33
Larry Fitzgerald – 11.0
A.J. Green – 10.67
Odell Beckham – 10.0
Antonio Brown was able to bounce back after an abysmal Week 2 despite the Steelers scoring just three points. He was targeted 18 times with Pittsburgh playing from behind for basically the entire game, and while he wasn’t able to find the end-zone, he turned in a solid 12-140 line. It’s not exactly what you want when you pay the big FanDuel price tag for Brown, but it’s not something we can complain about. The Bucs are going to continue to feed Mike Evans the ball as often as possible with a banged up running game. He’s seen a whopping 30 targets over his past two contests and has scored a touchdown in each game to start the year. It’ll be tough sledding in Denver against a very stout Broncos Defense, which makes it very hard to pay the $8.0K price tag at FanDuel. Anyone seeing this much work is playable in GPPs any given week, as he doesn’t even have to be all that efficient in order to be productive. T.Y. Hilton and the Colts play the early game in London, so those of us playing on the main slate won’t be able to acquire his services. Hilton saw a fair amount of Jason Verrett (the Colts played fewer three-WR sets, which left Hilton on the outside as opposed to the slot), but promptly burned him and the Chargers secondary for 8-174-1. He’s seen at least 11 targets in each game so he’s been remarkably consistent, and those totals aren’t likely to drop with Donte Moncrief on the shelf. Fire him up confidently in any format.
The Cardinals crashed back to earth Sunday in Buffalo after dismantling the Bucs in Week 2. That doesn’t really sit on the shoulders of Fitzgerald, who finished with 7-60-0 on 12 targets. He’s very likely going to continue being the most heavily targeted receiver on most weeks, especially with Michael Floyd ailing. I don’t envision him being very popular in GPPs, but his usage keeps his ceiling high relative to his price tag. He’ll square off with Lamarcus Joyner, who is the Rams highest-graded corner (per PFF), but it’s not something I’m concerned about. If the Dolphins had trouble with the Browns passing attack last week, they could be in for a long night on Thursday. A.J. Green is far and away the most talented WR they’ll have faced all year, and with just Tyler Boyd and Brandon LaFell behind him in the pecking order, Green’s looks should stay consistent. Tyler Eifert isn’t expected back this week, so Green’s red-zone usage (four targets) should also remain. Allen Robinson finally got going in the touchdown department, racking up two in Jacksonville’s loss against Baltimore. His five target game against San Diego can be credited in part to Jason Verrett’s coverage, and while Robinson may very well see plenty of Vontae Davis, he’s still likely to see in the range of ten targets. I won’t be rostering him this week – not only does the potential match-up with Davis loom, but Robinson racked up just five catches for 84 yards combined in the meetings between these teams last season. Now looking like more of a 5-star talent instead of just a WR, Terrelle Pryor has a very high floor given that he’s contributing in nearly every facet of the game. He’s not likely to account for more than a handful of pass attempts and it’s safe to assume that he’s not going to see much rushing volume, but if he continues to act as the goal-line QB with Cody Kessler under center, it’s going to keep him viable every week until the Browns get healthy. He’s not a value play by any means priced at $7.0K, but that price does seem accurate given his current circumstances. I’m not considering him in cash games on FanDuel, but his GPP upside is big. Pryor has seen 24 targets over the past two games and will continue to be the most heavily targeted member of the passing game.
The Giants will face one of the toughest defenses in the league on the road, and Beckham is likely to tangle with Xavier Rhodes for at least a decent chunk of Monday’s game. I’m not rostering him in any format. Marvin Jones is your #1 fantasy WR through the first three weeks, and he’ll step into another plus draw with a Bears secondary that is still very banged up. Jones’ big Week 3 was boosted by the fact that the Lions were down big early on, but he only saw eight targets (his lowest total of the season) so it’s not like things were all that skewed. He’s a good bet to match his season average in targets and is still priced a tier below where he belongs, so I’m fine with deploying him in any format. Jeremy Maclin has sandwiched a 15 target game between two games with seven targets, but his season average is about what we’d expect from him on a weekly basis. He’s in a marginally good spot on Sunday night so I can’t recommend a fade, but he’s not a guy I’ll have much exposure to. Both Denver WRs had their most productive games of the season last weekend, with Emmanuel Sanders finding the end-zone twice. I’m still having a very tough time justifying paying up for either Sanders or Thomas, as the Broncos aren’t interested in throwing the ball more than 30-35 times unless they really need to. Amari Cooper is going to be a nice buy-low candidate if his TD drought continues much longer. I don’t love the match-up with Baltimore (Cooper and Jimmy Smith should face off fairly often) so I’ll probably wait another week on Cooper.
TEs with at least seven targets per game through three weeks:
Greg Olsen – 9.0
Kyle Rudolph – 8.67
Jordan Reed – 8.33
Dennis Pitta – 8.0
Coby Fleener – 7.67
Travis Kelce – 7.0
The Falcons have been dreadful against opposing TEs this year and will now have to face off with one of the top options at the position Sunday. Olsen has seen the highest target count among TEs to date, and there isn’t any reason to expect a drop-off in this spot. If you are comfortable with value at other spots, he’s well worth a spot in your cash game lineups, and can be utilized freely in tournaments. Kyle Rudolph has been somewhat of a surprise in terms of how involved he’s been in Minnesota’s passing game, although they don’t have much depth behind Stefon Diggs as far as pass catchers go. The Giants are a great team to target with TEs so I have absolutely no issues deploying Rudolph in tournaments, and in prime-time leagues he can be used in any format. I still don’t think he’ll end up being this heavily targeted over the course of the season, but this is a great spot for the Vikings to lean on him. It’s been a notably slow start for Jordan Reed through three weeks, and with a multitude of mouths to feed in Washington, he may not be as involved as he was last season. Still, he’s one of the premier plays at the position and if his red-zone usage picks up a bit (three targets through three games), he’ll definitely have his share of big weeks. I’ll be leaning towards Greg Olsen if I’m paying a high price tag for a TE.
Dennis Pitta has seen 20 targets over his past two games, and even with Mike Wallace and Steve Smith commanding targets on the outside, Pitta is a great safety valve for Joe Flacco. Those two have had success together in the limited time that Pitta has been healthy over the past few years. The $5,400 price tag attached to Pitta is too low. After an awful season-opener, Coby Fleener appears to have worked his way into Drew Brees’ good graces. The two connected quite a bit on Monday night (Fleener finished with 7-109-1) with Fleener seeing 11 targets, and if he stays in the 8-9 target range consistently, he’ll end up as one of the top fantasy TEs in the league over the year. I’ll be targeting him more often at home (the Saints have drastic home/road splits). The Steelers have been picked on heavily by opposing TEs so far, but they haven’t given up much in the way of production. They have struggled more with shorter routes which bodes well for Travis Kelce, who is second among TEs in percentage of workload. I really like him as a GPP play, but will probably either pay up for Olsen or go super cheap in cash games.
Let’s shift our attention to the Usage page, which is new to RotoGrinders this season. It takes things like snap counts and target percentages into account to give us a usage rate – if you are familiar with NBA DFS, it’s a very similar statistic. I’ll handpick a few plays at each position (WR, TE) that are higher on this list than most would expect. Especially this early in the season, we should be able to find some players who have underperformed relative to their workload.
Wide Receiver: Kevin White (24.06%, 13th highest among WRs) – If you look at the names surrounding White on this list, you’d think he have had a much more productive start to the season. He hasn’t been very efficient with his targets (13 receptions on 27 targets), and the Bears current QB situation isn’t likely to help that much, but it’s hard to argue with the price ($5,500) considering the workload. White doesn’t need to do much in order to hit value at that price. His 14 targets last week are skewing things somewhat, but with Alshon Jeffery banged up, White should continue to be heavily involved. He’s one of the better punt plays at WR this week.
Wide Receiver: Allen Hurns (17.90%, 32nd among WRs) – If I’m targeting one of the Jags WRs this weekend, it’ll be Hurns. He’s yet to post double-digit FD points in any of the Jacksonville’s three games, which should keep the public off him, but he torched this defense last year and should have the much better CB draw compared to Allen Robinson, who is likely to see plenty of Vontae Davis. After seeing just five targets in Week 1, Hurns has seen a total of 18 over his past two games and with defenses clearly fearing Robinson, he should benefit. Hurns and Robinson were priced similarly for most of last year, but Robinson is now over $2K more expensive.
Wide Receiver – Jamison Crowder (16.72%, 36th among WRs) – I mostly wanted to point out that Crowder has the highest usage rate among Washington WRs, but it is worth noting that DeSean Jackson is right behind him on the list. It’s still surprising to see Crowder so involved with Jordan Reed, Pierre Garcon and Jackson all healthy. Crowder also happens to rank 2nd among WRs in red-zone targets (7, tied with three others), and has seen at least seven targets in each game so far. He’s certainly on the GPP radar at $6,000.
Tight End: Zach Miller (16.04%, 6th among TEs) – With the Bears looking like one of the worst teams in the league, they should be doing plenty of throwing. They rank dead last in rushing attempts per game through three weeks. Miller did almost all of his damage in Sunday night’s game against the Cowboys (8-78-2 on nine targets), but he had very tough draws to start the season (HOU, PHI). He’s still priced at just $5,000 on FanDuel and against a Lions Defense that was shredded by TEs last season, I can get behind Miller in any format. Detroit allowed a combined four TDs to TEs to Jack Doyle, Dwayne Allen and Delanie Walker through the first two weeks of the season.
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: Dak Prescott
Potential GPP QBs at or under $7,500: Sam Bradford
There isn’t much to like as far as cheap QBs this week. Brian Hoyer may be an option at $6,000, but I just don’t like his ceiling enough to target him in GPPs. Dak Prescott is far and away the top option under $7,500, especially considering his match-up with Chip Kelly’s fast-yet-inefficient offense. Per Rich Hribar’s Worksheet, just 7.7% of Prescott’s FPs have come from passing touchdowns, the fewest among all QBs. Even with that, he’s still just off the fringe of a top-10 QB on the season. San Francisco plays at a very fast pace which should also add a couple of extra possessions for the Cowboys. They’ve managed to allow 300 passing yards in back-to-back weeks. As for Bradford, his fantasy upside is tied to his touchdown production. The Vikings don’t throw the ball a ton, but they have really struggled to move the ball on the ground and assuming that continues, Bradford’s ceiling should rise some.
Potential Cash RBs at or under $6,500: Jordan Howard
Jordan Howard now has the Chicago backfield mostly to himself with Jeremy Langford out for at least the next month. Ka’Deem Carey is still not practicing, which leaves practice-squad call-up Raheem Mostert and recently signed Joique Bell as the only backs behind him in the pecking order. The Lions haven’t been particularly tough against opposing RBs, and with Howard likely see at least 15 touches, he’s a steal at his current price. If the match-up was better, Sims would also find himself in cash game territory. I’m a little nervous about his draw with Denver, although Sims is usually at his best when the Bucs are playing from behind given his role in the receiving game, so I’m perfectly fine with him in GPPs. Even after a productive Week 3, he’s not likely to be popular. Cameron Artis-Payne is going to be the Panthers lead back again this week, but with Fozzy Whitaker and Mike Tolbert still around to sieve touches (not to mention Cam Newton’s presence as the goal-line option), Artis-Payne’s upside isn’t all that great. With that said, he’s still dirt cheap, so if he’s able to find the end-zone he’ll be a steal. The Browns are looking for any type of spark they can find behind Terrelle Pryor, which led to an increased workload for Duke Johnson in Week 3. He saw more touches last week than in Weeks 1 and 2 combined, and should be a good bet for 10-15 touches again this week.
Tyrell Williams and Travis Benjamin are both likely to be popular plays with the Saints Defense coming to town. Both of them disappointed owners last weekend, but the Chargers have very little depth behind them. Williams racked up a season-high nine targets against Indianapolis and should end up in a similar range this week, albeit with better production. I’m higher than most on Crabtree – I much prefer his CB match-up compared to Amari Cooper, who should see Jimmy Smith for the majority of the game. Shareece Wright hasn’t been good in coverage this season and I’d expect Crabtree to finish with more targets than Cooper assuming the WR/CB match-ups hold up. Quincy Enunwa has been one of the bigger surprises of 2016, and since he’s still priced under $6,000, he’ll be a fine target if Eric Decker is forced to miss Sunday’s game. The draw with Seattle isn’t great, but the Jets are going to have to move the ball somehow.
Instead of Dorsett breaking out with Donte Moncrief on the shelf, T.Y. Hilton proceeded to go nuts despite Jason Verrett shadowing him for most of the afternoon. Dorsett is in a pretty nice bounce back spot here against a Jacksonville secondary that has been rather friendly to opposing WRs so far. His four targets last week are definitely concerning, but he could very well double that mark on Sunday. With Dez Bryant out, Cole Beasley is inching closer to cash game territory. He’s averaging a shade under nine targets per game and has been a consistent option in the short passing game for Dak Prescott. I’m expecting around 8-9 targets again this week, giving him a nice floor relative to his price.
I’ve already touched on most of these guys. Hunter Henry will be a very nice punt play assuming Antonio Gates sits again this week. The Saints were dead last against TEs last year, and actually managed to allow more FPPG to TEs than the leader at the position (Rob Gronkowski) averaged last season. They have still been friendly to the position over the first few games of 2016 and if Henry can see in the neighborhood of 7-9 targets Sunday, it’ll be tough for him not to be productive considering he’s priced at the minimum. Eric Ebron has seen his target count climb each week and given that he’s one of the Lions best bets towards the goal-line, I don’t mind him at all as a GPP play against a vulnerable Bears Defense. With Austin Seferian-Jenkins shipped out of town, Cameron Brate took the reins at TE and responded with a ten target game, finishing with a 5-46-2 line. He’s tied for the lead among TEs in red-zone targets (5) and while we shouldn’t expect him to hit double-digit targets again, he’s a sneaky upside play against a Denver defense that is friendlier to TEs than WRs or RBs.