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Daily Fantasy Football Strategy: Week 9 DraftKings Breakdown

Below is a breakdown of Sunday’s Week 9 NFL contests on DraftKings along with player rankings. Keep in mind that price has a huge impact on a player’s ranking.

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Quarterback

  1. Philip Rivers – $6,900 – San Diego Chargers
  2. Ben Roethlisberger – $6,600 – Pittsburgh Steelers
  3. Tyrod Taylor – $5,300 – Buffalo Bills

Philip Rivers is on a remarkable five-week run of consistency. His low output in that stretch was 24.6 DK points, and he is averaging 28.48 DK points in that time frame. He’ll have an excellent chance to keep the streak going against Chicago this week. The Bears rank 26th in 4for4.com’s schedule-adjusted fantasy points allowed (aFPA) against quarterbacks and 24th in pass defense DVOA. In cash games, he’s really tough to fade, even without Keenan Allen. But in GPPs, he’s too popular amongst the masses. Rivers, Tom Brady and Drew Brees were the three most highly owned quarterbacks in Fanduel’s Thursday night contests. For that reason, I’d look elsewhere in tournaments. For more ownership levels from Thursday contests, click here and here.

Your ‘elsewhere’ options are Ben Roethlisberger and Tyrod Taylor. Roethlisberger is also an option for cash games. He’ll face the Raiders who rank 22nd in aFPA against quarterbacks and 16th in pass DVOA. Big Ben wasn’t overly efficient in his return from injury last week, but he did play the entire game and come out of it with no reports of injury concerns. Without that risk, I’m comfortable enough with him in cash games. As for his tournament viability, he was the fifth or sixth most owned quarterback in the Thursday contests with an ownership rate somewhere in the mid-single digits. He’s not massively contrarian play, but he’s not chalk either.

The contrarian play is Taylor. He is returning from injury just this week, so he has that added element of risk. His matchup with Miami is similar to Roethlisberger’s as the Dolphins rank 15th in aFPA against quarterbacks and 23rd in pass DVOA. When Taylor faced Miami in Week 3 he went 21-for-29 with 277 yards passing and three touchdowns, good for 24.3 fantasy points. That’s not to say we can expect him to repeat the performance, but if he comes anywhere close to doing so, he’ll be a massive value. Even production in the high teens would represent solid value at his price point. He was somewhere in the range of the 8th-12th most popular quarterback in the Thursday contests with an ownership rate a tick below three percent.

Running Back

  1. Devonta Freeman – $8,000 – Atlanta Falcons
  2. Jeremy Langford – $4,000 – Chicago Bears
  3. Darren McFadden – $4,300 – Dallas Cowboys
  4. Lamar Miller – $5,000 – Miami Dolphins
  5. Jonathan Stewart – $4,300 – Carolina Panthers

There was some thought in the Twitter-sphere that Devonta Freeman‘s ownership levels would slip as he’s been something less than incendiary the last two weeks and as Todd Gurley has been hotter than two mice copulating in a wool sock on a tin roof in August. But I wasn’t buying the idea that Freeman would be anything other than extremely popular this week. For one thing, he still had 18 and 19.1-point performances the last two weeks with over 200 rushing yards in those games, he just didn’t find the end zone. Second, everyone can see that Freeman has a sweet matchup against the 49ers who rank 30th in aFPA (against backs in PPR leagues) and 28th in run DVOA while Gurley faces the Vikings who are eighth in aFPA, though they are 26th in run DVOA. Sure enough, Freeman was the most popular back in the Thursday contests along with DeAngelo Williams. I’m not on Williams, but I find Freeman hard to pass up. I might even have a tough time passing on him in GPPs.

As for some lesser-owned backs, Jeremy Langford and Darren McFadden had ownership rates in the high single digits and were towards the back end of the top 10 most highly owned backs. That’s a low enough ownership rate for GPP consideration, even if it’s not completely contrarian. As for their cash game viability, I have a hard time recommending McFadden in cash against an Eagles team that ranks first in aFPA and seventh in run DVOA. But McFadden did manage 113 yards from scrimmage on 26 touches last week in a tough matchup against Seattle. Langford, on the other hand, has a matchup that is as safe as it can be against the Chargers who rank dead last in aFPA and run DVOA. I’m actually surprised he was not more highly owned in Thursday contests. Perhaps there was some thought Thursday that Forte might be able to play. But he has now been ruled out, so I would not be surprised to see Langford’s ownership rate rise on the weekend.

Even lesser-owned options include Lamar Miller and Jonathan Stewart who were owned by less than five percent of the teams in the Thursday night contests. Miller will face the Bills who rank 15th in aFPA and 24th in run DVOA, while Stewart has the Packers who rank 23rd in aFPA and 25th in run DVOA. Their ownership rates obviously make them tournament options, but those matchups also make them secondary cash game options if you a) can’t or won’t pay up for Freeman or b) don’t feel comfortable using Langford.

Wide Receiver

  1. Antonio Brown – $8,100 – Pittsburgh Steelers
  2. Alshon Jeffery – $6,700 – Chicago Bears
  3. Stevie Johnson – $3,200 – San Diego Chargers
  4. Michael Crabtree – $4,900 – Oakland Raiders
  5. Martavis Bryant – $5,500 – Pittsburgh Steelers
  6. Mike Evans – $6,800 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  7. Demaryius Thomas – $7,500 – Denver Broncos
  8. Odell Beckham – $8,800 – New York Giants
  9. Malcom Floyd – $3,900 – San Diego Chargers

Alshon Jeffery, Odell Beckham and Malcom Floyd were the three most highly owned receivers in the Thursday night contests. Because of that, I have a hard time thinking Beckham and Floyd are options in either cash games or tournaments. They’re obviously not great tournament plays given their popularity, but there are reasons not to like them in cash games. The main issue with Beckham is price. He’s got to get 23-24 points to earn his price tag, and there’s not a ton of value potential if he has to go above and beyond 25 points to be a big value. I’m OK paying big to be contrarian in tournaments, but it doesn’t make sense to me in cash.

As for Floyd, it’s a simple matter of liking Stevie Johnson better. They have a great matchup against the Bears who rank 24th in aFPA (against receivers in PPR leagues) and 24th in pass DVOA. And they both have great individual matchups with individual advantage scores of 31 and 33 according to PFF’s WR/CB matchup chart ($). But the projections I like (4for4 and PFF) both project Johnson for more production, and he’s cheaper than Floyd.

Going back to Jeffery, he’s not a tournament play with his popularity, but he is a cash game option with a good-not-great matchup against the Chargers. San Diego does rank 4th in aFPA, but they rank 25th in pass DVOA. The Chargers also rank 28th in DVOA against #1 receivers, and Jeffery’s individual matchup is slightly above average per the WR/CB matchup chart.

My favorite play of the day is Antonio Brown. Things didn’t exactly go to plan in Big Ben’s return last week as Brown has just 47 yards, but he did find the end zone. As mentioned, the matchup with Oakland is much better than last week’s matchup with Cincinnati, so I like the Pittsburgh passing game to rebound this week in what could turn into a bit of a shootout against Derek Carr and the Raiders. Brown also has a nice individual matchup per the WR/CB chart. His teammate, Martavis Bryant, has a nice individual matchup as well and was less popular than Brown in the Thursday night contests. Brown was about the fifth most popular receiver, while Bryant was more on the back end of the top 15. Brown is the safer cash game play, but Bryant or a Roethlisberger/Bryant stack makes sense in GPPs.

As mentioned, Pittsburgh-Oakland could be a bit of a shootout. The over/under on the game is 48, which is the fourth highest total of the weekend’s 12 games. Both Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree were among the ten most highly owned receivers in the Thursday contests, so they are not contrarian plays. Cooper has one of the best individual matchup scores of the weekend, and Pittsburgh ranks 22nd in DVOA against #1 receivers. But Crabtree is quite a bit cheaper and provides salary relief if you need it.

Tight End

  1. Antonio Gates – $4,700 – San Diego Chargers
  2. Heath Miller – $2,700 – Pittsburgh Steelers
  3. Delanie Walker – $4,200 – Tennessee Titans

Here are more reasons to like Rivers and Roethlisberger as your cash game plays. If you’re keeping count, I’ve ranked three pass catchers from both the Chargers and Steelers. For GPPs, pick a quarterback and pair him up with a couple of pass catchers. And given Rivers’ popularity, that means pair Roethlisberger with a couple of them.

Gun to my head I’d prefer Gates to Miller. He played through his knee issue last week and came out of Saturday’s practice well for their Monday night game. Playing on Monday night perhaps makes him a bit risky, so if that scares you off, look elsewhere. But reports indicate he’ll play in that game against the Bears who rank seventh in aFPA (against tight ends in PPR leagues) but 25th in DVOA against tight ends. Gates was the third most popular tight end in Thursday contests, so he’s more of a cash game play than GPP.

As for Miller, he was owned in about five percent of Thursday contests, so he he is a bit more contrarian. The Raiders rank 31st in aFPA and 16th in DVOA against tight ends, so his matchup is solid. But if you want a better matchup and you want to go more contrarian, Delanie Walker is your man. He’ll face the Saints who rank 28th in aFPA and 32nd in DVOA against tight ends. He averages almost six receptions per game and has failed to reach at least 55 receiving yards in just one game this year. His only touchdown of the season came in Week 1 from Marcus Mariota, and Mariota is expected to return from injury this week. Walker was virtually unowned in Thursday contests, so he’s as contrarian as it gets.

Defense

  1. Denver Broncos – $3,000
  2. Buffalo Bills – $2,900
  3. Philadelphia Eagles – $2,700
  4. New Orleans Saints – $2,200

As soon as I finish this post, I’m headed down from my casita at the resort I’m staying in just outside of Cancun to drink beer on the beach. That said, I’m not overly motivated to write up each one of these defenses. So I’ll just say to fill in the rest of your lineup as you like and use the highest ranked defense that you can afford. Adios!

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