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2016 NFL DFS: Week 4 DraftKings and FanDuel Breakdown

Below you’ll find discussion of the players that are “in play” at each position for the Week 4 main slate DFS contests on DraftKings and FanDuel (aka the 12 Sunday games beginning 1:00 PM ET or later). Players are arbitrarily listed in descending order of FanDuel salary and are not ranked in order of preference given differences between the sites and the varying types of contests you might be playing.

Quarterback

Cam Newton — @ ATL — DK: $7,800 — FD: $9,300

Carolina has the third highest implied team total in Vegas, and they’re a three-point favorite this week in Atlanta. As has been mentioned here each week, QBs of teams that are favorites (albeit preferably home favorites) with an implied total of 24+ are ideal. Cam’s matchup with Atlanta is excellent as the Falcons rank dead last in Football Outsiders’ defensive DVOA and are equally bad against the pass and the run. The problems with rostering Cam are price and ownership level. His price makes him less than ideal for cash games where the cheapest playable option is preferable, and his likely high ownership level doesn’t make him an ideal GPP play. The game situation variables are working in his favor, but some DFS variables are not.

Philip Rivers — vs. NO — DK: $6,900 — FD: $8,500

San Diego has the highest implied total of the weekend by a full two points over any other team. They’ll host New Orleans who ranks 30th in defensive DVOA. There’s really not much else to be said. Rivers is obviously a good play this week. But because he’s so obvious, it would not be a bad idea to look elsewhere in GPPs. The question in cash games is whether there’s a cheaper option you’re comfortable with. There are viable cheaper options on both sites that we’ll get to in a moment, but it’s certainly acceptable to settle on Rivers in cash.

Carson Palmer — vs. LA — DK: $6,300 — FD: $8,000

Before we get to those cheaper cash game candidates, Palmer makes for a nice GPP target. In part because he struggled so much last week, he should be very sparsely owned this week. Don’t get hung up on last weeks four picks and keep in mind that he’s averaging 287 yards per game (10th in the league) and had five touchdowns and zero picks in the first two weeks. Perhaps more importantly, don’t overlook the favorable Vegas variables as Arizona is an eight-point favorite at home with an implied total of 25.5. The Rams rank 13th in pass DVOA and 20th against QBs in 4for4.com’s Schedule-Adjusted Fantasy Points Allowed (aFPA). It’s not the best matchup, but it’s certainly not prohibitive.

Joe Flacco — vs. OAK — DK: $5,900 — FD: $7,700

Flacco is the cheaper alternative on DK that might keep you from rostering Rivers in cash. The Falcons are a 3.5-point favorite at home with an implied total of 25 as they host the Raiders who rank 28th in pass DVOA. If you’re looking for the cheapest cash option on DK, this is probably it. He also shouldn’t be too highly owned, so he’ll work for GPPs as well.

Kirk Cousins— vs. CLE — DK: $6,500 — FD: $7,600

Over on FD, it’s Cousins that represents the cheaper alternative to Rivers in cash. Washington is an eight-point favorite at home with an implied total 26.75, which is the second highest of the weekend. They’ll host the Browns who rank 18th in pass DVOA and 19th in aFPA, so the matchup is good but maybe not as good as you thought. Cousins can be had for about 10 percent less than Rivers on FD. Cousins will be a popular play, so look elsewhere in GPPs.

Dak Prescott — @ SF — DK: $5,700 — FD: $7,200

The absence of Dez Bryant isn’t ideal, but Prescott remains in consideration thanks to a good matchup with San Francisco and his ability to run for scores. San Francisco ranks 23rd against QBs in 4for4.com’s Schedule-Adjusted Fantasy Points Allowed (aFPA), and Dak has two rushing scores already. Dallas is a three-point favorite with an implied total of 24.5, so the Vegas numbers support Prescott as an option. He won’t be highly owned, so if you want to go cheap in a GPP, consider Dak.

Behind the paywall you’ll find the rest of our Week 4 NFL DFS breakdown.

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Running Back

David Johnson — vs. LA — DK: $7,800 — FD: $8,700

Spending on running backs isn’t some thing I generally advise, but the pricing on FD is soft enough that you can make it work most weeks if you’re so inclined. Ignore Johnson on DK, but on FD feel free to roster him if you have money to burn. With the Cardinals being an eight-point favorite at home, game flow could set up well for Johnson. But he’s only an option in cash as he’ll be too popular for GPPs.

Melvin Gordon — vs. NO — DK: $6,300 — FD: $7,600

Again, San Diego has the highest implied total of the weekend at home against a bad New Orleans defense, so pretty much the entire offense is in play. Gordon is an option in cash games on either site should you have the money to roster him but not enough for Johnson (on FD that is). Gordon, like all Chargers, will be popular, so he’s not much of a GPP play. I should say that you could handle one high-owned running back like Gordon in a GPP if you got contrarian with your other RB, but there’s a cheap back yet to be discussed that will be highly owned who needs to be in most of your lineups. Rostering that highly owned cheap back keeps Gordon out of your GPP lineups.

LeSean McCoy — @ NE — DK: $6,700 — FD: $7,600

Even after a big performance last week, McCoy doesn’t seem like he’s going to be a popular play this weekend, presumably because of game flow concerns and/or matchup concerns. Both concerns are misguided in my opinion. McCoy is more than involved in the passing game as he’s tied for the team lead in receptions and second in targets. As for the matchup, New England ranks 18th in run DVOA and 19th in DVOA against RBs as receivers. So if you’re looking for a contrarian RB play, McCoy is a good option.

DeMarco Murray — @ HOU — DK: $6,800 — FD: $7,300

Through three games Houston ranks 22nd in run DVOA and 20th in aFPA against RBs. And that was before they lost J.J. Watt. Murray is seeing plenty of volume as he ranks 11th in touches through three weeks, and he can do some damage with 20-ish touches in this matchup. His price on DK isn’t great, but he’s priced decently on FD where he might be moderately but not highly owned.

Carlos Hyde — vs. DAL — DK: $4,200 — FD: $6,800

Aside from one other guy we’ll get to in a moment, no back on DK represents a better value in terms of dollar per touch. Hyde ranks seventh in touches through three weeks, yet he’s only the 22nd most expensive back on DK this week. Dallas does rank 12th in run DVOA so far, but they only rank 23rd in aFPA against backs in PPR leagues. Other owners will surely pick up on this and Hyde should be a popular play on DK, so he’s only a GPP option if you get conrarian with your other RB. But as a cash game play, Hyde makes too much sense.

Charles Sims— vs. DEN — DK: $5,600 — FD: $6,500

This matchup isn’t nearly as bad for Sims as you think it is. The strength of Denver’s defense is in their pass rush and pass coverage, but they rank 30th in run DVOA through three weeks. They also rank 24th in aFPA against running backs, so you could pretty easily argue this a damn good matchup for Sims. He racked up 19 touches last week with Doug Martin out, and with Martin out again this week Sims should once again get near 20 touches. He will not be highly owned, and he’s not too expensive (though he’s not the bargain he was last week), so he makes for an excellent GPP play.

Jordan Howard — vs. DET— DK: $3,700 — FD: $5,600

Howard is the aforementioned cheap back that you’ll be hard pressed to leave out of any of your lineups. With Jeremy Langford sidelined (and KaDeem Carey as well), Howard is in line to see upwards of 20 touches. He got 13 touches last week due to Langford getting injured, and Howard racked up 92 yards from scrimmage. On both DK and FD he’s unquestionably the best value at this position. He also has a decent matchup with the Lions, but that’s not remotely the point here. The cost is too cheap for the amount of volume Howard should see. He’s an obvious cash game play, and he’s such a value that I’ll use him a lot in GPPs and get contrarian elsewhere.

Wide Receiver

Antonio Brown — vs. KC — DK: $9,700 — FD: $9,400

If you’re concerned about Brown’s matchup with the Chiefs who rank 1st in pass DVOA and ninth in aFPA against receivers, don’t be. The Steelers do not stick Brown on one side of the field and will move him around the formation to put him in better matchups. Yes, he’ll see some of Marcus Peters, but Peters will stick to his side of the field allowing Pittsburgh to get Brown in more favorable spots at times. With a league-leading 40 targets through three weeks Brown’s volume is almost enough to overcome the toughest of matchups, but that’s not the kind of matchup he has this week.

Julio Jones — vs. CAR — DK: $9,200 — FD: $8,500

After a one-catch, 15-yard outing last week and with a seemingly tough matchup with Carolina, Julio should not be highly owned this week. But the individual matchup for Jones isn’t that bad as he should draw rookie James Bradberry who has been targeted heavily by opposing QBs early in the season. Game flow could also work in Julio’s favor as the Falcons are a three-point underdog with a decent implied total of 23.5. Pay up for the volume of Brown in cash games, but Julio makes for a fine GPP option this week.

Mike Evans — vs. DEN — DK: $6,500 — FD: $8,000

Evans is another guy that shouldn’t be too highly owned this week thanks to a tough matchup. Evans’ matchup is more legitimately tough than Julio’s on account of Evans seeing some Aqib Talib in coverage. But the Bucs do move Evans around the formation and will get him away from Talib to some degree. Evans is right there with Brown as an elite volume guy through three weeks with 39 targets to Brown’s 40. That kind of volume and Tampa’s willingness to move Evans into better spots on some plays make him a worthwhile GPP consideration.

Julian Edelman — vs. BUF — DK: $5,800 — FD: $7,200

Edelman is really only an option on DK where he’s priced better and where the full-point PPR scoring suits him better. He should have a nice individual matchup this weekend, and he shouldn’t be too heavily owned.

Emmanuel Sanders — @ TB — DK: $6,400 — FD: $6,900

Sanders has been Trevor Siemian‘s go-to guy in the early going as Sanders has seen a larger percentage of the team’s targets than Demaryius Thomas. The Bucs are not a matchup concern on a team or individual level, so Sanders is very much in play in his price range. He should be moderately but not heavily owned, so he can be used in cash games or GPPs. He’s priced a bit better on FD than DK.

Travis Benjamin — vs. NO — DK: $5,900 — FD: $6,600

We’ve already covered what a great matchup the Saints have this week, so I’ll keep this brief. Benjamin is going to be heavily owned at his price points, so he’s probably not the best GPP option. But he makes all too much sense as a cash option and is an excellent stack option with Rivers should you roster Rivers. Tyrell Williams is also a nice cash option on DK where he’s priced quite well.

Michael Crabtree — @ BAL — DK: $6,400 — FD: $6,500

I’ll take Crabtree over Amari Cooper this week. He’s cheaper than Cooper, and Crab has an excellent individual matchup with Shareece Wright who ranks near the bottom of PFF’s cover grades. Crab is particularly well priced on FD, and he doesn’t figure to be too highly owned.

Steve Smith — vs. OAK — DK: $4,500 — FD: $6,100

If you’re going roster Flacco, Smith is an option to stack with him, though Smith isn’t someone you have to stack if you use Flacco (that’s particularly true in cash games). Smith is seeing a healthier percentage of targets than Mike Wallace is, and Smith represents a better value as a result. Smith is most likely the cheapest receiver I’d roster on either site.

Tight End

I’ll try to keep this brief. At tight end you’re looking for guys on teams with an implied total of 24+, and their team is preferably a favorite (even more preferably a home favorite). In general, tight ends see less volume than receivers, and they do their work closer to the line of scrimmage than receivers do on average, so tight ends are much more touchdown dependent for fantasy scoring. Touchdowns come with much more volatility than targets and yardage do, so it’s not a bad idea to spend less on such a volatile position.

For that reason, Hunter Henry (vs. NO, DK: $2,700, FD: $4,500) is a very appealing option this weekend. He should see plenty of looks filling in again for Antonio Gates (Henry was targeted five times last week), and he’s the best value you can find in terms of dollars per expected target. He’ll be a fairly popular play, but tight end is a position to worry much less about being contrarian. I would be surprised if I end up with too many lineups that don’t include Henry.

The next best value at the position is Dennis Pitta (vs. OAK, DK: $3,900, FD: $5,400). Pitta ranks fourth among tight ends so far in targets, yet he is only the 12th most expensive tight end on FD this week. Pitta makes for a fine cash game option on that site, and he would be a good option on DK if you end up rostering Flacco there.

If you feel the need to be contrarian at tight end, Jesse James (vs. KC, DK: $3,100, FD: $4,500) and Jason Witten (@ SF, DK: $4,500, FD: $6,000) both play for favorites with an implied total of 24 or more. Both guys also figure to be fairly lightly owned. James is a good option if you want to be contrarian and still be cheap, and Witten is a good option if you end up rostering Dak.

Kicker

All you’re looking for in a kicker is a kicker that plays for a favorite who has an implied total of 24 or more. Preferably the team would be a home favorite, but road favorites are acceptable as well. The cheapest kickers who meet this criteria this week are the minimum priced Josh Lambo and Dustin Hopkins. Lambo’s Chargers and Hopkins’ Redskins have the two highest implied totals of the weekend and are both home favorites, so picking a kicker is a no-brainer this week. Hopkins might be a little less owned if you want to use that as a tiebreaker. For GPPs, I’d go with more of a contrarian option like Chandler Catanzaro. The Cardinals are an eight-point home favorite with an implied total of 25.5. Catanzaro is only $100 more than the minimum price, and Lambo and Hopkins should drive enough ownership away from him.

Defense/Special Teams

I write a DFS D/ST article each week for FantasyAlarm.com, so I’m copy/pasting what I wrote there below.

The key with defenses is finding defenses that will face a lot of passing plays. Fantasy point-scoring events like interceptions and sacks occur exclusively on passing plays, and fumbles actually occur more on passing plays than running plays. Defensive touchdowns are difficult to predict, but they’re also more likely to occur on passing plays with 53 pick sixes last year compared to only 33 scoop ‘n scores.

One of the best ways to identify defenses that will face a lot of passing plays is identifying Vegas favorites, preferably home favorites. And obviously the lower the opponent’s implied point total, the better the matchup for the defense.

Premium Options

Houston and Arizona are two of the biggest favorites of the week, both are playing at home, and they’re facing the two teams with the lowest implied totals in Vegas.

The case for Houston is that they’re facing the team with the lowest implied total, Tennesee, and they’re cheaper than Arizona across the board. The concern is obviously that they’ll be without J.J. Watt. But even without Watt, Houston’s defense is still much better than both the Detroit and Oakland defenses who scored 16 fantasy points combined against the Titans in the last two weeks. The pricing gap between Houston and Arizona on DraftKings is large enough that Houston is an easy choice there.

But on FanDuel and FantasyAces the pricing gap is small enough that it might be worth it to pay a bit extra for the Cards defense that ranks seventh in Football Outsiders’ DVOA and fourth in their DAVE rankings, which factor in preseason projections to filter out some still existing sample size issues. Arizona will face the Rams who haven’t been quite as friendly to oppsoing defenses as the Titans have, but every defense that has faced the Rams has scored at least eight fantasy points. Long story short: if you build a lineup with Houston’s defense and have money left over at the end, you can use it to upgrade to Arizona.

Both teams are going to be popular options this week, so you might look elsewhere in GPPs.

Sneaky Option

This category is reserved for good defenses that may be overlooked in a given week for whatever reason, providing you with the opportunity to roster a really good unit with a lower ownership rate. The team that most fits that bill this week is Baltimore. The Ravens rank fifth in DVOA and third in the DAVE rankings, but they probably won’t be one of the three most highly owned defenses this week. They could crack the top five in ownership rate on DK where they’re priced very well, but they’ll probably be largely overlooked on FD. There’s no doubt that the Raiders present a tough matchup, but the Vegas variables still favor the Ravens D. Baltimore is a 3.5-point favorite at home, and the Raiders have a below average implied total of 21.5.

Bargain Options

Washington‘s defense is also in play for cash games on FD and Aces as they’re cheaper than both Houston and Arizona on those sites. They’re inexplicably more expensive than Houston on DK.

Washington’s defense is not good. They rank 25th in DVOA, which is in line with FO’s preseason projections for their defense. But the Cleveland Browns can cure a lot of ills. Each defense that has faced the Browns so far has recorded positive points on the week, and two of those defenses finished with double digit fantasy points. Washington really struggles to generate a pass rush, but Cleveland could be a cure for that problem specifically as they rank 30th in FO’s adjusted sack rate and have allowed at least three sacks in each game this season.

New England‘s defense is $100 cheaper than Washington’s on FD, so perhaps Washington is really only the cheapest possible option on Aces. New England’s D rates more favorably than Washington’s in the DAVE rankings coming in at No. 16. They’ll host the Bills who have the fifth lowest implied team total of the weekend.

One other cheap contrarian option on DK could be Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh’s defense is going to be more potent from a fantasy perspective as long as Pittsburgh’s offense does what it’s capable of doing. When Pitt’s offense puts up points like it’s capable of doing, the defense can end up seeing a lot of passing plays as the opposition plays catch up. FO’s DAVE rankings still rank Pittsburgh’s offense as the second most efficient in the league. If that holds, Pitt’s defense will be put in situations to score fantasy points. Those situations could happen this week with Pitt being a five-point favorite at home against Kansas City.

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