We have teams on their bye this week, so the main DraftKings slate consists of only 10 games. According to DraftKings Sportsbook, three games have an O/U of at least 50 points while the Colts (-9) and Rams (-10.5) are the heaviest favorites. Unfortunately, two of the teams with the highest implied totals are off the main slate - the Bills (30) and Buccaneers (29.5).
These are my early thoughts, but much of my lineup construction will depend on projected ownership numbers at the end of the week. That said, here are my studs and values for Sunday’s main DraftKings fantasy football slate.
Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs at Washington Football Team, $8,300 — This game has the highest total on the slate at 55.5 points, so it’s not going to get overlooked. There’s a chance, though, that the ownership levels get slightly depressed. Mahomes did not look good last week while Lamar Jackson ($7,400) was unbelievable. Recency bias! Mahomes is $900 more expensive than Jackson and the Ravens face the Chargers, a team that went bananas last week and rewarded those who stacked that game. More recency bias! The Ravens-Chargers game has a healthy O/U of 52.5 and Justin Herbert ($7,300) is $1,000 cheaper. I’m thinking this game will be the one that most flock to.
So why Mahomes?
Well, first off, he is Mahomes. Second, for all the chatter about how teams have figured out the Chiefs (yes, teams are playing more coverage and forcing the Chiefs to methodically march down the field) Mahomes has thrown two, five, three, three, and three touchdowns this season. He’s thrown at least 250 yards in each contest and has gone over 300 twice. That’s translated to 36.28, 28.02, 24.9, 32.72, and 21.98 DKFP.
Mahomes now gets to face a Washington team that has had major struggles in the back end of their defense. They are 29th in pass defense DVOA and 30th in pass coverage according to PFF. They just allowed Jameis Winston to throw 30 times for 279 yards and four touchdowns. Jameis Winston! The same Winston who Sean Payton wasn’t comfortable enough with to let him chuck it more than 20 times in a game.
The Chiefs are 2-3, and like Stella, are looking to get their groove back. This should be a nice bounceback game for the offense.
With all that said, this is not a slam dunk by any means. It’s football and weird things happen. The Washington Football Team is second in pass rush, and what if the secondary fixes their communication issues? It’s within the range of outcomes that this game is not a shootout. Therefore, the projected ownership numbers will be huge in deciding whether to go with Mahomes or not.
Other Options – Lamar Jackson ($7,400), Justin Herbert ($7,300)
Taylor Heinicke, Washington Football Team vs. Kansas City Chiefs, $5,800 — The Chiefs will likely score a ton of points, which will force the Football Team to respond. Ron Rivera is not known to turtle up and plays to win. Heinicke has two games with over 40 pass attempts this season.
The Chiefs are 31st in pass defense DVOA and 24th in coverage according to PFF.
Heinicke also brings rushing prowess to the mix as he’s carried three, four, eight, five, and five times this season and produced at least 40 yards in each of the last two games.
Other Option – Joe Burrow ($6,300)
Austin Ekeler, Los Angeles Chargers at Baltimore Ravens, $7,900 — I haven’t looked at any projected ownership numbers yet but Ekeler will likely be the most popular running back on the slate. And for good reason.
He’s scored at least 30 DKFP in each of the last two games, rushed for three touchdowns and caught two touchdowns. While he’s only carried 17 and 15 times in the last two games, Ekeler has received at least five targets in each of the last four games and the red-zone usage has been fantastic. He has 10 red-zone rushes in the last three games and has received at least one red-zone target in each of the last four games.
While the Ravens are 19th in rush defense DVOA, they are 20th in DVOA against receptions to running backs.
Rostering Ekeler will come down to projected ownership and roster construction.
Antonio Gibson/J.D. McKissic, Washington Football Team vs. Kansas City Chiefs, $6,500/$4,800 – I haven’t started constructing lineups yet but it could be viable to play both WFT running backs this week. The Chiefs are dead-last in rush defense DVOA and also rank 28th in DVOA against receptions to running backs. So there’s a scenario in which both can hit - Gibson punching it in from the red zone while McKissic racks up catches since the Football Team will likely have to match the Chiefs' offensive prowess.
Gibson has received at least 20 carries twice this season but exceeded 20 DKFP only once. He’s also received more than two targets only once. That said, he has scored three touchdowns in the last two weeks and housed a screen for a 73-yard touchdown three weeks ago. Gibson also has 10 red-zone carries on the season.
McKissic is a volatile option since he’s scored fewer than six DKFP three times but has gone for 16.9 and 20.3 DKFP in the other two games. He makes his hay in the passing game where he has garnered one, six, two, five and four targets this season. He’s scored one touchdown and has a high of 83 reception yards in a game. He also has four red-zone carries on the season.
Playing both backs is advisable only in a full game stack since you’d need this game to go bonkers but it’s within the range of outcomes and would make your roster unique.
Other Options – Jonathan Taylor ($6,600), Darrell Henderson ($6,000)
Davante Adams, Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears, $9,000 — I was initially going to shy away from Adams since the Bears held him to 16.6 and 18.1 DKFP last season. Then I raised my left arm, used it to grab my right arm, then slapped myself across the face.
Adams leads the NFL with 61 targets and 12.2 per game. He garners a whopping 37.9% target share.
The Bears were great at defending No. 1 receivers last season, as they were second in DVOA against the position. This season? They are 30th.
Other Option – Tyreek Hill ($8,500)
Courtland Sutton, Denver Broncos vs. Las Vegas Raiders, $6,200 – The Raiders are in disarray, and that’s not just due to the Jon Gruden saga. Injuries have decimated the secondary as Trayvon Mullen and Damon Arnette are on injured reserve. That means Amik Robertson will be lining up across from Casey Hayward for the immediate future. Robertson has a 42.9 grade per PFF and Sutton should find himself matched up against him often.
While Sutton has three games under 10 DKFP, he’s scored 27.9 and 28 DKFP in the other two. In those games, he received 11 and 12 targets and went over 100 yards. A similar game could be on the table this week.
At his price range, the ownership should be low since Robert Woods ($6,100) is $100 cheaper while Keenan Allen ($6,400) is only $200 more.
Other Options – Robert Woods ($6,100), Keenan Allen ($6,400)
Mark Andrews, Baltimore Ravens vs. Los Angeles Chargers, $5,200 – Andrews just put up 44.7 DKFP in a primetime game on Monday night. 11 receptions on 13 targets for 147 yards and two touchdowns. It feels so point-chasy but the game environment and matchup were too juicy for me to ignore.
This game has a healthy O/U of 52 with the Ravens favored by only three points. It has a chance to go back and forth.
The Chargers are 29th in DVOA against tight ends and have allowed the second-highest fantasy points to the position on average.
Other Options – Travis Kelce ($7,000)
Jared Cook, Los Angeles Chargers at Baltimore Ravens, $3,200 – Cook is fourth in the passing game pecking order behind Allen, Williams and Ekeler. As a result, the targets have been all over the map - eight, five, three, seven and three.
As mentioned in the Andrews section above, the game environment could be a good one and the matchup is great for Cook as well. The Ravens are 21st in DVOA against tight ends and have allowed the third-most fantasy points to the position on average.
Other Options – Hunter Henry ($3,900)
Rams DST at New York Giants, $4,700 – It’s a high price to pay but the Giants could be without Daniel Jones, Saquon Barkley and Kenny Golladay. For you inquiring minds, Mike Glennon ($5,000) is the backup quarterback for the Giants.
The Rams have three sacks in four of five games. In the other game, they had two sacks. They’ve recovered one fumble and intercepted five passes on the season.
Other Option – Indianapolis ($3,500)
The Panthers are first in adjusted sack rate, 12th in rush defense DVOA and second in pass defense DVOA.
Other Option – Vikings ($2,900)
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