Welcome to the Week 7 FanDuel Primer, brought to you by RotoGrinders. I’ll be breaking down a number of our stat pages/tools that we feel are solid predictors of success from a daily fantasy standpoint.
Before we get deep into the targets/percentage of workload analysis, let’s start things off with our Defense vs. Position page. This page gives you an idea of how each team defends a particular position. This is one of my favorite tools to use each week, and I rely on it more each week as the sample size continues to grow. Since we’re still not working with a huge sample, considering the caliber of opponents faced is important when analyzing this data. All player salaries listed below are from FanDuel.
Quarterback – Carson Palmer ($8,200) vs. Baltimore (32nd vs. QBs)
The Ravens have had a surprisingly tough time against the pass this season. They have some fairly talented corners, but have been gashed by the pass all year long, something that will very likely continue on Monday night. Baltimore is one of just four teams that’s allowing over 300 passing yards per game against them, and the Ravens allowed the most FPs to opposing QBs through six weeks. Arizona has a strong team total of 28, meaning Vegas expects them to have little trouble finding the end zone. Also working in Palmer’s favor is the fact that Baltimore’s defense is much stronger against the run, giving Bruce Arians every reason to attack early and often through the air.
Running Back – LeSean McCoy ($7,700) vs. Jacksonville (29th vs. RBs)
Since everyone and their mother is recommending Todd Gurley this week (for good reason), I’ll give you a nice tournament pivot if you’re inclined to play the fade. McCoy returned from a two-game absence and didn’t look hampered by his hamstring injury. He ended up with his best rushing output of the season (90 yards and a TD), but I think he tops it this week against a Jags run defense that can be worn down. Jacksonville has allowed the fourth-most FPs to RBs to this point, and if Buffalo is able to drain the clock with an effective ground game, McCoy should finally crack the 20-carry mark for the first time all year. Game flow should play in McCoy’s favor (the Bills are 5.5-point favorites) and Rex Ryan clearly wants to establish his best playmaker with Sammy Watkins and Percy Harvin out of action.
I just can’t pass up on a chance to talk about Todd Gurley. You’ll hear a lot about him this week thanks to the elusive trio of talent, matchup and price all synching together beautifully. Cleveland has allowed the most rushing yards per game this year, and Gurley’s workload has taken off in his last two outings. Look for Gurley to pick up his first NFL touchdown in a game in which he will be utilized heavily. He’s a cash game staple across the industry, but an interesting tournament fade if you want to differentiate at RB.
With Ladarius Webb questionable, it’s tough to peg what the individual matchups will look like, but both of these guys are attractive options this week. The Baltimore secondary as a whole has struggled all year and will face one of their toughest challenges to date on Monday night. People have been a little slow to react to how poorly the Ravens have played against the pass since they are traditionally thought of as a stout defense, but we know this isn’t the case in 2015. Baltimore has allowed the second-most receiving yards to WRs and is tied for third in TDs allowed to the position. Fitz is the best cash game play amongst the Arizona wideouts, while Brown (who is also cash game playable at the right price) and even Michael Floyd are nice tournament plays.
Tight End – Antonio Gates ($5,800) vs. Oakland (32nd vs. TEs)
Last time I profiled the Raiders opponent in this space, it worked out terribly. It was Owen Daniels a few short weeks ago, who did see multiple red-zone targets but finished with a goose egg. However, saying that Antonio Gates is more involved in his team’s offense is a massive understatement. Gates’ snap count rose last week (he saw just over 75% of the team’s offensive snaps compared to 56.5% in Week 5) and he’s had no issues being on the same page as Philip Rivers. Gates is averaging nine catches and 13.5 targets per game through his first two weeks (keep in mind Rivers attempted 65 passes last week), and is still vastly underpriced at $5,800. Oakland has allowed far and away the most points to opposing TEs, and Gates may be the most talented one they’ll face through seven weeks. You’re likely going to want to continue to pick on this defense with TEs throughout the year.
Let’s transition to the Targets page, where you’ll find a breakdown of touches, targets, red-zone targets and percentage of workload, among other stats. 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. Instead of hand-picking a few players to touch on, I’m going to give a general overview of what’s happened through six weeks. I will not be including any players on bye weeks in the breakdown below, since they aren’t DFS relevant this week.
Wide Receivers that have averaged at least 10 targets per game through six weeks:
DeAndre Hopkins – 14.83
Julio Jones – 12.00
Keenan Allen – 11.83
Brandon Marshall – 10.60
Jarvis Landry – 10.20
Calvin Johnson – 10.17
DeAndre Hopkins is finally priced like the elite receiver he is. His price has been bumped up on both major sites, but he’s still the safest option at the position this week. Playing the fade in GPPs makes some sense, but it’s tough to pass up the safe points he provides in cash games. Julio Jones should be fresh after a ten-day layoff, not that the injury slowed his target count down too much. He’s a solid target in any format against a mediocre Titans secondary. Keenan Allen should be good to go this week (he missed practice Wednesday, so track his status), fresh off of a 14-catch game in which he missed most of the second half. If not for a four-target game back in Week 2, Allen would be challenging Nuk Hopkins for the top spot on this list.
Julian Edelman is usually a cash game staple for me, but I’m avoiding him this week. He’s slated to see a lot of Darrelle Revis, who has been nearly as dominant as Josh Norman this year. Since Week 2, Revis has allowed 10 (ten!) total yards in his coverage. No other starter has given up fewer than 50 in that span (per Pro Football Focus). Steve Smith is another avoid for me, since he’ll see the coverage of Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu (Peterson should track him on the outside, Mathieu in the slot). It’ll be a fun matchup to watch and Baltimore should be throwing quite a bit, so there is some GPP appeal here.
Brandon Marshall has now crossed the 100-yard mark in each of his last four games, and has already scored four TDs to this point. The Jets will be playing up in pace against New England and should be throwing it plenty when the Patriots inevitably build a lead. Malcolm Butler (who may shadow Marshall) has looked great this year, but Marshall is the superior talent and his volume in the offense should remain high.
Calvin Johnson finally got it going last weekend, but the Lions still aren’t throwing it in his direction as often as they should. He’ll meet with Xavier Rhodes again, who he torched for 7-62-1 back in Week 2 while the two squared off (Johnson had a final line of 10-83-1). Odell Beckham should improve on the eight targets he saw against the Cowboys earlier this year. Dallas didn’t shadow him and it’s unlikely they do so this week, so this shapes up to be a good spot for ODB. Allen Robinson doesn’t have a great matchup against the likes of Stephon Gilmore and Ronald Darby, but the Bills put their opponents into a pass-happy approach. He’ll benefit from high volume and is not only a consistent red-zone target, but a legitimate deep ball threat.
Wide Receivers that have averaged at least 1.5 red-zone targets per game through six weeks:
Anquan Boldin – 2.33
Jarvis Landry – 2.20
Vincent Jackson – 1.80
DeAndre Hopkins – 1.67
Anquan Boldin isn’t in a good spot on Thursday night against Seattle, who should be able to make Colin Kaepernick much more uncomfortable than the Ravens were able to. Considering he plays on Thursday, which will drive up his ownership in those contests, he’s best left alone. The season-to-date numbers look good for Landry, but with the Dolphins likely to attempt to re-commit to the run, Landry’s target totals may suffer. Vincent Jackson steps into a nice matchup with a beat up Redskins secondary, who were beaten badly by Marshall and Decker last week. Washington’s run defense doesn’t have the same types of holes as the secondary, and I have a feeling we’ll see a big game from either Jackson or his counterpart, Mike Evans. Speaking of Decker, he may benefit from extra attention on Marshall. As much as the Jets would like to control the clock with a successful run game, I think they’ll be forced into throwing more than they’d like. He’s a nice GPP target this weekend.
Top Five WRs in terms of Percentage of Workload (POW) through six weeks:
Jarvis Landry – 17.59 POW (22.92 RZ POW)
Julian Edelman – 16.67 POW (14.04 RZ POW)
Keenan Allen – 16.21 POW (11.11 RZ POW)
DeAndre Hopkins – 16.10 POW (20.00 RZ POW)
Larry Fitzgerald – 15.25 POW (12.07 RZ POW)
Tight Ends that have averaged at least 7 targets per game through six weeks:
Antonio Gates – 13.50 (two-game sample size)
Greg Olsen – 9.00
Jordan Reed – 8.50
Charles Clay – 7.67
Rob Gronkowski – 7.60
Julius Thomas – 7.50 (two-game sample size)
Delanie Walker – 7.25
Jordan Cameron – 7.20
Gates and Olsen are my top two cash game plays at TE. The Eagles have been tough on TEs this year, but Olsen is undoubtedly Cam Newton’s favorite weapon and his target numbers shouldn’t drop off despite a rough matchup. He’s priced very fairly on FanDuel, and is a nice GPP target as well given that Gates’ ownership should be through the roof. Jordan Reed also fits that bill if he suits up. The public is typically cautious to target a player fresh off an injury, so his GPP ownership will likely be low. The Redskins will be without DeSean Jackson, and as long as they are content with quick, short routes under Kirk Cousins, Reed will be a consistent target.
Charles Clay should remain the focal point of the Buffalo passing game with Watkins and Harvin slated to miss Sunday’s game. Clay’s usage shouldn’t be affected regardless of who gets the start at QB. In contests that start on Thursday, I’ll have some GPP exposure. Is this the week it pays off to play Gronk in tournaments? Gates will be my primary cash game target, but Gronk’s ownership percentage should be lower than usual this week in major GPPs. The Jets are very stout against the run, so expect Gronk to be a big part of the game plan.
The Bills force teams to throw and the Buffalo outside CBs have played very well to start the year, so it’s possible we see a nice dose of Julius Thomas on Sunday. Thomas practiced in full on Wednesday despite suffering a minor rib injury in Week 6. The Titans QB situation is still up in the air, also keeping Delanie Walker’s appeal somewhat in flux. Zach Mettenberger probably isn’t a big drop-off for Walker even if Mariota can’t go, but Walker isn’t more than a secondary GPP target regardless. Jordan Cameron salvaged Week 6 with a late touchdown, saving him from what would have been another lineup killing output. Considering his poor performance with the target numbers and red-zone usage he’s received thus far, I don’t expect his workload to increase in the coming weeks.
Tight Ends that have averaged at least 1.2 red-zone targets per game through six weeks:
Antonio Gates – 3.50 (two-game sample size)
Rob Gronkowski – 1.40
Heath Miller – 1.33
Scott Chandler – 1.25
Heath Miller is still a very risky option unless Big Ben finds his way back onto the field this week. Landry Jones will improve Miller’s outlook over Michael Vick, but it’s not a big upgrade. Jason Witten is a sneaky GPP target against the Giants. They’ve allowed the third-highest catch-per-game rate and the fifth-highest yardage-per-game total to TEs this year. Matt Cassel under center is a slight upgrade for Witten, who should be the primary red-zone target until Dez Bryant returns.
Top Five TEs in terms of Percentage of Workload:
Jason Witten – 11.86 POW (14.63 RZ POW)
Greg Olsen – 10.53 POW (16.67 RZ POW)
Travis Kelce – 10.51 POW (12.82 RZ POW)
Charles Clay – 10.47 POW (2.56 RZ POW)
Jimmy Graham – 9.83 POW (20.00 RZ POW)
Travis Kelce steps into a great matchup with a Steelers Defense that has allowed the fourth-most FPs to TEs. He’s been fairly quiet since Week 1, but without Jamaal Charles to lead the ground game, Kelce should be relied upon more both in the red zone and between the 20s. He will be a guy I pivot to frequently in lineups where I’m not using Gates.
Welcome to Value town, parts unknown. I won’t be recommending the Tom Bradys 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.
Quarterback – Landry Jones ($6,000 on FanDuel)
Jones had a very solid stat line in his relief appearance last week, but most of that had to do with a great 88-yard catch-and-run from Martavis Bryant. I’m honestly not sure what to expect from Jones, although the bevy of weapons around him makes me confident he can be a viable cash game punt play at QB. The Chiefs secondary has surrendered the most receptions, yards and TDs per game to opposing WRs, setting Jones up to utilize two explosive weapons in Bryant and Antonio Brown. He’s also got the league’s best dual-threat RB lining up behind him, so I have a hard time envisioning Jones not hitting his value threshold.
Jameis Winston is also a viable punt play at $6,500. Washington’s secondary is beat up and currently relying on Bashaud Breeland and Chris Culliver on the outside, which sets up nicely for Winston’s top two weapons. Volume may be an issue for Winston since this is a game in which the Bucs could hang around or even win.
Running Back – Lamar Miller ($6,700 on FanDuel)
After a miserable start to the season, Miller broke out last week against a very leaky Titans run defense. Miami played its first game under its new head coach, and we finally saw Miller receive 20+ touches (19 carries, two catches) for the first time this season. This is another game in which the Dolphins should be able to stick with Miller. The Texans have a league-average run defense to this point in the year and the Dolphins will want to slow down the Texans pass rush as much as possible. Another 20+ touches is in play here, but Miller is a tough guy for me to trust in cash games.
Wide Receiver – Donte Moncrief ($6,500 on FanDuel)
Moncrief bounced back from a very slow Week 5 with 11 targets, which he turned into six catches for 69 yards and a score. The $6,500 price tag is still too low given his upside at home against a very beatable Saints secondary. It’s likely that Moncrief runs the majority of his routes against Brandon Browner, who has fallen off considerably from his days in Seattle and is PFF’s lowest-graded CB through six weeks. The sledding would get much tougher ends up seeing more of Delvin Breaux.
Wide Receiver – Michael Crabtree ($5,900 on FanDuel)
Taking into account his usage in games he’s completed, Crabtree’s $5,900 price tag is far too low. He’s looked great alongside Amari Cooper this season and it’ll be tough for defenses to key in on one of them with both playing at a high level. Crabtree is averaging just south of ten targets per game, something you rarely see from a player priced under $6K.
Tight End – Jordan Reed ($5,400 on FanDuel)
I’m not sold that Reed suits up on Sunday, but he seems to feel pretty confident in his chances. Reed stated that he was at 100% after Wednesday’s practice, with the catch being that he hasn’t cleared the concussion protocol yet. Assuming he suits up, Reed is a solid GPP target as one of the top two options in the Washington offense.