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 6 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 5.0 targets through five weeks:
Theo Riddick (7 RzTar) – 6.4
Duke Johnson (2 RzTar) – 5.6
Josh Ferguson (0 RzTar) – 5.0
Riddick had a big Week 5 thanks to securing multiple red-zone touchdowns through the air, and he is now tied for the league lead in red-zone targets among RBs. He’s just not involved enough in the ground game, and that won’t change with Dwayne Washington expected back this week and Justin Forsett now in the fold. Especially with Riddick’s ankle ailing him (he missed Wednesday’s practice), the Lions backfield as a whole is worth avoiding unless more than one of them is inactive. Giovani Bernard isn’t in a great spot against a Patriots Defense that has been stingy against the run, although they have allowed 6.2 receptions per game to RBs. Jeremy Hill looks to be more likely than not to suit up after leaving Week 5 early, but if he sits it’ll make Bernard a much more intriguing option. He’d still carry a relatively low floor but would have a shot at finally seeing a carry near the goal line.
Speaking of goal-line work, Derrick Henry is the only RB with as many carries (34) as Bernard without seeing a tote inside the ten. DeMarco Murray has been heavily utilized in the red-zone and actually has more red-zone targets this season than he had in the previous two seasons combined. He’s a very strong play in any format, as he’s eating up a ton of Tennessee’s offensive production and this will be one of the few times that the Titans are decent sized favorites on the NFL odds board. David Johnson is the only back to gain a higher percentage of his team’s yardage than Murray. Johnson’s matchup doesn’t look good against a stout Jets run defense (fourth fewest rush yards against per game), but much like Le’Veon Bell last week, Johnson will rack up his yardage whether it comes through the air or on the ground. He’s also a big part of the Cardinals red-zone plans, so while he might not be as attractive of a play as he usually is, Johnson still has plenty of GPP appeal. He’ll get passed up for guys like Le’Veon Bell, DeMarco Murray and LeSean McCoy in cash games, all of whom should also carry higher GPP ownership percentages.
WRs averaging at least 9.5 targets through five weeks:
Antonio Brown (4 RzTar) – 11.2
T.Y. Hilton (7 RzTar) – 11.0
Brandon Marshall (10 RzTar) – 10.8
A.J. Green (5 RzTar) – 10.4
Allen Robinson (6 RzTar) – 10.25
Jordy Nelson (11 RzTar) – 10.0
Antonio Brown is an every-week DFS option regardless of matchup, and he doesn’t have a bad draw this week – Miami has allowed the fourth most FPPG to WRs and they’ve been having considerable issues at the CB spot. The only worry is how dreadful Miami’s offense has been. They shouldn’t be able to hang with Pittsburgh, but it’s likely that Brown leaves his mark as they build a lead. He’s still the top overall play at the position. T.Y. Hilton has been an absolute monster with Donte Moncrief on the shelf for most of the season, and his heavy usage is likely to continue against Houston. The Texans have been tough on receivers this year and they’re easier to beat on the ground, but Andrew Luck is still going to maintain his volume which figures to afford Hilton a chance to continue his streak of double-digit targets. He’s the only receiver in the league to see at least ten in every game this season. Patrick Peterson will likely be following Brandon Marshall around the field, which doesn’t look good on paper. Peterson is PFF’s sixth highest rated CB, and the Cardinals overall have been very tough against the pass. Still, the Jets figure to continue attempting to feed Marshall, and his league-leading 11 red-zone targets certainly give him a nice ceiling. He’s going to carry a very low ownership percentage in Sun-Mon leagues, making him a nice contrarian option. Allen Robinson figures to go overlooked as the second most expensive WR on FanDuel ($8,600), but he’s well worth considering against a Bears secondary that hasn’t given up a ton of production due to how often teams have been running against them. The Bears are actually favored in this game, and Robinson will have a very favorable WR/CB draw regardless of where he lines up. I’m not sure I can pull the trigger in cash games, but I’ll be overweight on him in GPPs. The Jags throw the ball a ton in the red-zone.
Odell Beckham is fresh off his first game with a TD this season, but was inefficient with just five catches on 12 targets (he’s caught eight balls on 21 targets over the last two games). Baltimore has been tough on receivers, allowing the fourth fewest receiving yards per game to the position, and I don’t like the draw for Eli Manning. I’ll be leaving him off of my Week 6 rosters. Even with his bye week passed, Jordy Nelson still leads the league in red-zone targets and hasn’t missed a beat since sitting out all of last season. With that said, I don’t usually like targeting receivers against the Cowboys. Jeremy Kerley has racked up the highest yardage total against them (88) through five weeks – they’ve held A.J. Green, Odell Beckham and Alshon Jeffery to fewer than 75 yards and no scores. They also have dominated time of possession this year, although Green Bay’s stout run defense should help in that regard – they’ve somehow managed to not allow a 40-yard rusher on the season. Nelson is best utilized as a GPP play. Nelson joins T.Y. Hilton as the only receivers with at least 25% of their team’s targets in each game this year. Larry Fitzgerald will likely face off primarily with Buster Skrine, who has been the Jets best CB this season. I don’t buy it – Skrine was roasted repeatedly out of the slot last season and it’s not like the Jets have been shutting down aerial attacks. They’ve allowed over 1,500 passing yards already this season and with their run defense being much tougher to penetrate, expect the Cardinals to air it out plenty. Fitzgerald has been exceptionally consistent when taking into account the erratic play at QB he’s had through the first five games. After seeing at least ten targets in each of his first four games, Jarvis Landry saw just three looks in Week 5. He’s a solid bounce-back candidate in what should be a very favorable spot for him against Sean Davis, who ranks 106th out of 115 CBs ranked by PFF. No one on the Miami offense is viable in cash games, but Landry is certainly a tournament option given his typically consistent target totals. His limited red-zone usage is concerning, but it’s not like the Dolphins have made many trips inside the 20 this season.
TEs with at least 6.5 targets per game through five weeks:
Greg Olsen (6 RzTar) – 10.6
Jordan Reed (5 RzTar) – 9.2
Dennis Pitta (0 RzTar) – 7.4
Travis Kelce (8 RzTar) – 7.25
Coby Fleener (1 RzTar) – 7.0
Jason Witten (8 RzTar) – 6.8
Delanie Walker (2 RzTar) 6.75
Greg Olsen is far and away the top overall play at the TE spot, and he also happens to be the top dollar per point play per our projections at RotoGrinders despite his $8,100 price tag. He’s running away with the target lead at the position and given how heavily the Saints have struggled with TEs dating back to last season, he should be targeted confidently in any format. Over his last three meetings with the Saints, Olsen has racked up 27/335/3, giving him an average line of 9/112/1. After entering the NFL’s concussion protocol yet again, Jordan Reed is very unlikely to suit up against the Eagles. They’ve been a really tough draw for TEs early in the season anyway, so his leftover targets should gravitate towards DeSean Jackson and the slumping Jamison Crowder on intermediate and short routes. After seeing an identical target total to Reed over the first three games (25 apiece), Crowder has seen six targets combined over the past two games. It’s fairly amazing that Dennis Pitta is still without a red-zone look despite having a productive season otherwise. His path to targets would improve if Steve Smith sits out, and the Giants linebackers are vulnerable against TEs. Julian Edelman and John Brown are the only players with more targets that have also yet to score a touchdown. Pitta leads TEs in routes run over the past two games with 82 – Greg Olsen is second on the list at 69.
Fresh off his bye week, Travis Kelce is in a great spot against an Oakland defense that is still managing to get shredded by TEs. They have been awful against the position dating back multiple years, and this season alone have managed to allow the second most receiving yards to TEs despite ranking 14th in targets against. I’d prefer to pay up for Olsen in cash games, but Kelce is a fine option if you’re really pressed for cap. With the Saints back at home against what has become a beatable Carolina defense, it’s all systems go for the offense. That includes Coby Fleener, who has been inconsistent on the year but has begun to show an improved rapport with Drew Brees. Carolina has allowed the sixth most FPPG to TEs despite ranking in the bottom half of the league in targets against (6.2). They’ve also faced a relatively underwhelming group of TEs so far this season. Jason Witten isn’t on my radar this week despite his numbers looking decent considering his cheap price tag ($5,600). He’s yet to find the end-zone this season and his target totals have been all over the map week-to-week. Delanie Walker on the other hand is a fine play against a Browns Defense that has been by far the worst against the TE spot this year. They’re allowing an average of 100 yards per game and 1.0 TDs to the position on 10.8 targets through five weeks, setting Walker up as an option in any format.
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.
Jeremy Maclin (29.81 USG%, 3rd best among WRs)
The Chiefs don’t throw the ball much which causes some large fluctuations in Maclin’s production, but he’s seen at least seven targets in each game this year and is in a plus spot against the Raiders secondary. Maclin has run 45.3% of his routes from the slot this year, where he’ll see D.J. Hayden, who has struggled considerably this year as PFFs 62nd ranked CB. His matchups on the outside won’t be particularly poor either, as he’ll make up what he lacks in size with speed against Sean Smith. David Amerson is probably the only corner with a decent shot at slowing Maclin. Oakland has allowed an average of 219 yards and 1.4 TDs per game to opposing WRs, which sets them up as the best draw in the league. It doesn’t hurt that Maclin hung a super-efficient 12-149-3 line (on just 14 targets) against the Raiders in the two meetings between these teams last year (the Chiefs won them both).
Doug Baldwin (20.96 USG%, 19th among WRs)
Okay, so Baldwin ranking 19th in usage rate among receivers isn’t surprising or noteworthy in any way, but he’s been quiet compared to his second-half of last season. He’s been rotating big and small performances over the first four weeks and is due to boom against a Falcons Defense that is allowing an average of 14.2 catches, 163 yards and 1.4 TDs to opposing receiving corps this year. Baldwin operates most often out of the slot, where he isn’t going to run into Desmond Trufant. It also doesn’t hurt matters that Baldwin’s two big games this season have also been the Seahawks only two home dates. He’s not going to get nearly the love he deserves in terms of ownership percentages, making him one of my favorite GPP plays at the WR spot this week.
Will Fuller (18.86 USG%, 25th among WRs)
His teammate – DeAndre Hopkins – ranks a tad higher on the list, but the two have nearly identical target shares and Fuller is $1,200 cheaper on FanDuel. It also doesn’t hurt that Fuller has proven to be the better big-play threat through five weeks. Fuller relies pretty heavily on his speed, running a 4.32 40-time at the combine, and he’s racked up 69% of his production (per Scott Barrett) this season against corners that run a 4.5 40 or worse. He’ll see a combination of Vontae Davis (4.49), Patrick Robinson (4.46) and Darius Butler (4.46), all of whom won’t be able to hang with him vertically. The Colts have struggled some with receivers in general, allowing the sixth most yards per game to the position through five weeks.
Jimmy Graham (18.20 Tar%, 6th among TEs)
Graham’s actual usage rate is pretty low (10.37%, 19th among TEs), but a lot of that has to do with him being limited in the first few games of the season. He’s picked things up considerably since then, racking up 12 catches for 213 yards and a TD over his last two games after recording just 4/53/0 in his first two contests. Atlanta has also been a total sieve to TEs, allowing an average line of 6/68/1 on nine targets (third most FPPG allowed). Graham has been very efficient with his limited target totals through four games, but he should average out around 7-9 looks per game in what has been a potent offense over the past few seasons. The only tough part here is that Doug Baldwin and Christine Michael are also in favorable spots, so it’ll come down to who ends up finding the end-zone. I’d rank Graham slightly ahead of Delanie Walker, with Greg Olsen being the only play I’d prefer over him.
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: Brian Hoyer
Potential GPP QBs at or under $7,500: Colin Kaepernick
I’d prefer to pay up for one of the QBs in the NO/CAR game in cash, but Hoyer is one of the better $/point plays of the weekend given how that he’s throwing the ball about 40 times a game as a starter. Kevin White’s absence didn’t slow him down at all, with Cameron Meredith stepping perfectly into that role and giving Hoyer another viable receiving option outside of Alshon Jeffery. Eddie Royal and Zach Miller are also fine secondary options, so despite the Bears looking like one of the weaker offenses in the league, Hoyer has some worthwhile weapons. Jacksonville has allowed the seventh fewest passing yards per game, but Hoyer is at home and the Bears throw the ball quite a bit inside the red-zone.
We’ll finally get a chance to see what Colin Kaepernick looks like in Chip Kelly’s offense. I’m tempering expectations given how badly he played last season and the lack of talent around him, but he certainly still has big play upside and can contribute heavily with his legs. Buffalo isn’t a good draw and the 49ers rank second to last in pass attempts per game, so the floor here remains very low. Blaine Gabbert, who doesn’t have the same speed and can’t throw the ball accurately over 20 yards, managed to post two games of over 20 FPs in his five starts, so Kaepernick definitely has a shot to succeed.
The Redskins have allowed at least 100 yards rushing in each game this season and are allowing the most yards per carry to opposing RBs, so they’ll be a matchup worth exploiting in the near future. Philadelphia’s crowded backfield makes it a tougher situation to target, but Mathews finally looked healthy again after missing most of the Eagles Week 3 meeting with Pittsburgh (he had a Week 4 bye to recover). Despite only really seeing action in three games, Mathews ranks fourth in the league in goal-to-go rushes with 10, and he’s not going to lose out on those opportunities unless he re-injures himself. Usage is still an issue, but if Mathews sees 15+ touches in Week 6, he should almost surely hit value against this defense. As for Stewart, he’s criminally underpriced given the matchup if he’s a full go on Sunday. The Saints have allowed the most FPPG to RBs (they did the same last season) and Stewart has ravaged them over the last three meetings, finishing with 5.3 yards per carry over that span with 289 yards and 2 TDs.
I’m not big on Crowell in Week 6, but he’s been very efficient and is probably still the Browns best means of moving the ball. Tennessee has been stout against the run and I don’t really expect that to change here, we’re just hoping that Crowell breaks a big one if we’re penciling him into any GPP lineups. Gore is a different animal; we can basically pencil him in for around 75 total yards against a Houston defense that is more vulnerable on the ground, the only question is if he’s able to find the end-zone or not. His volume isn’t high enough to the point where his day can be salvaged without a TD.
Potential Cash WRs at or under $6,500: Cameron Meredith
There are several viable cash game plays in the $6,500-$7,000 range, but Meredith is really the only option I’m drawn to under $6,500. He caught nine of 12 targets in Week 5 for 130 yards and a TD, but did manage to fumble twice. His $5,400 price tag is a joke given that he’s a great bet to see around 7-9 targets again, especially if defenses key in on a banged up Alshon Jeffery. Meredith gives Brian Hoyer another big target on the outside and the two looked in sync against an Indianapolis defense that hasn’t allowed a ton of production to WRs.
Michael Floyd should benefit from the Jets struggles with the deep ball. They showed that weakness again last weekend with Sammie Coates posting a career day against them, and they’ve allowed the second most receptions of at least 40 yards this season. They’ve also allowed the highest QB rating on the season, so it’s a good spot for Carson Palmer to finally break out, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see Floyd join him. With Jordan Reed likely missing at least a game or two, DeSean Jackson figures to see his target totals begin to rise. He’s as boom-or-bust as they come, but he figures to see an additional 2-3 targets with Reed out and the Eagles have struggled more at the CB spot than anywhere else on defense. With Patrick Peterson expected to key in on Brandon Marshall, Quincy Enunwa would benefit if Fitzpatrick is forced to look in other directions.
Potential Cash TEs at or under $5,500: Dennis Pitta
Potential GPP TEs at or under $5,500: Zach Ertz
Pitta is the only cheap option I’d feel comfortable with in cash games. I’d prefer to suck it up and pay for Olsen if possible and Jimmy Graham is a decent pivot if you can’t pay the $8,100 price tag. Despite being a non-factor in the red-zone, Pitta has seen a big workload and it’s not like the Ravens are actively avoiding him in close. Ertz is a viable bounce back candidate against a Redskins Defense that is very tough on the perimeter. The Eagles best method of moving the ball will be on the ground, but Ertz is probably their best option in terms of moving it through the air.