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2016 NFL DFS: Week 7 DraftKings and FanDuel Breakdown

Below you’ll find discussion of the players that are “in play” at each position for the Week 7 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

Matt Ryan — vs. SD — DK: $7,200 — FD: $8,700

Chalk! The Falcons have the highest implied total in Vegas at 30.5, which is one of the highest implied totals we’ve seen all year, if not the highest. Atlanta is also at home and the favorite, which is ideal for quarterbacks. The matchup actually may not be as good as you think it is as the Chargers rank 16th in 4for4.com’s Schedule-Adjusted Fantasy Points Allowed (aFPA) and ninth in Football Outsiders’ pass defense DVOA. Another thing working against Ryan is the likely high ownership percentage that keeps him from GPP consideration. But he’s definitely a cash option with that huge implied total.

Andy Dalton — vs.CLE — DK: $6,000 — FD: $8,100

Cincinnati is the biggest favorite of the day Sunday as a 10-point favorite home to Cleveland. The Bengals also have the third highest implied total, so Dalton is in a great spot. His matchup is excellent as the Browns rank 31st in aFPA and 30th in DVOA. Dalton is definitely a cash game option, and he shouldn’t be so popular to remove him from GPP consideration. But while he’s an option in both contest types, he’s really only a DK option as he’s priced much, much better there.

Philip Rivers — @ ATL — DK: $6,500 — FD: $7,800

The Chargers are on the road and an underdog, which typically isn’t a situation you want a quarterback you roster to be in. But the Chargers still have a healthy implied total of 24 that keeps Rivers in play. Rivers has a nice matchup as the Falcons rank 28th in aFPA and 23rd in DVOA. Rivers feels a bit more like a GPP play than a cash play a) because his team is a dog on the road and b) because there are cheaper playable options you could use in cash games.

Blake Bortles — vs. OAK — DK: $6,200 — FD: $7,400

Bortles is an example of a cheaper cash option that makes Rivers more of a GPP play, though Bortles himself is also a GPP option. The Jags are a slight favorite at home against the Raiders who rank 24th in aFPA and 28th in DVOA. You’ll see both of Bortles’ main receivers below, so this is definitely a play I like this week. On either site, Bortles is an option in either contest type.

Kirk Cousins — @ DET — DK: $5,900 — FD: $7,300

Cousins and the Redskins are a slight underdog on the road, and their implied total (23.5) is a little low. But I’m including Cousins anyway because his price on DK is excellent, and he has a spectacular matchup against Detroit. The Lions rank 32nd in aFPA and 31st in DVOA, so the matchup literally couldn’t be much better. So if you want to fire up Cousins in a GPP on DK, go for it. Of his receivers, Jamison Crowder is the guy I’d be most likely to pair with Cousins. Vernon Davis is also an option with Jordan Reed out again.

Alex Smith — vs. NO — DK: $6,100 — FD: $7,200

Smith represents the cheapest playable option on FD. He should be low-owned enough for GPP use, and with KC being a six-point home favorite with the second highest implied total of the day he’s also a cash option. New Orleans ranks 17th in aFPA and 26th in DVOA.

Behind the paywall you’ll find the rest of our Week 6 NFL DFS breakdown.

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Running Back

DeMarco Murray — vs. IND — DK: $7,200 — FD: $8,700

This is chalky as hell, but Murray has the best matchup possible against the Colts who rank dead last in aFPA vs. RB and in rush defense DVOA. Murray is seeing a ton of volume as he ranks third in the league in touches. He should be able to do plenty of damage with all that work in this plush matchup. He could be used in GPPs if the rest of your lineup is very contrarian, but he’s probably best reserved for cash game use. That said, there are several very cheap running backs that are going to get full workloads this weekend, so you may not need to spend on backs in cash games.

David Johnson — vs. SEA — DK: $7,400 — FD: $8,500

Johnson is nothing more than a GPP play this weekend. He obviously has a tough matchup against Seattle who ranks fourth in DVOA and second in aFPA. But Johnson should still get a ton of volume, and he’s talented enough to have a big day against any opponent, even though it’s less likely he goes off against this opponent. He’ll be very low owned, so he’s worth considering in tournaments.

Melvin Gordon — @ATL — DK: $6,400 — FD: $8,000

Game flow in this one likely works more in Rivers’ favor than Gordon’s as the Chargers are the underdog in this game. But the Falcons are a nice matchup for running backs, and Gordon is another high volume guy. Atlanta ranks 27th in aFPA and 22nd in DVOA, and Gordon ranks sixth in the league in touches. The game flow concerns keep Gordon from cash consideration, but he should be low-owned enough to be worth a look in GPPs.

Spencer Ware — vs. NO — DK: $5,800 — FD: $7,000

Jamaal Charles’ return is still a bit of a concern with Ware, but it wasn’t a problem last week as Ware racked up 26 touches while Charles only saw nine carries. And this matchup is too good to let concerns about Charles keep Ware out of consideration. The Saints rank 31st in aFPA and 30th in DVOA. The biggest problem with Ware is where to use him. He’s priced reasonably on both sites, but it’s contest type that’s tricky. As mentioned, there are several very cheap running backs that should get heavy workloads, so he may not fit into cash lineups. And while he won’t be heavily owned, he’s not going to be the most contrarian play. In the end I’d say he’s an option on both sites and in both contest types, though there may be too many other appealing options to keep him out of your lineups.

Terrance West — @ MIA — DK: $4,800 — FD: $6,900

West has a really tough matchup with the Jets that removes him from cash consideration. But he’s priced very reasonably for the amount of work he’s likely to see. He’s not going to be highly owned, so he could be a cheap GPP option as a contrarian, high volume guy.

Jacquizz Rodgers — @ SF — DK: $4,300 — FD: $5,600

Rodgers is the first of the aforementioned cheap running backs likely to get a heavy workload this week. With Doug Martin not quite ready to return and Charles Sims on IR, Quizz is the guy in Tampa. Rodgers carried the load in Week 5 and got a whopping 35 touches en route to 129 yards from scrimmage. He’s got an excellent matchup against San Francisco who ranks 29th in aFPA and 28th in DVOA. He’s going to be heavily owned, so he’s only a cash option unless he’s part of an otherwise contrarian lineup.

Mike Gillislee — @ MIA — DK: $3,000 — FD: $5,300

There’s been some talk that LeSean McCoy will be a game-time decision, but there’s a very good chance that Gillislee is going to be the guy on Sunday. If he is, he’ll be a superb value in terms of dollar spent per expected touch. He has a bad matchup if you look at Miami’s rank of sixth in aFPA, but they rank 24th in run DVOA, so let’s call his matchup middling. Like Rodgers, Gillislee is going to be heavily owned, so he’s a cash only option unless your other RB in a GPP lineup is more contrarian.

Mike Davis — vs. TB — DK: 3,000 — FD: $4,500

Davis is another minimum priced guy, though he’s at the minimum on DK and FD. That said, he’s not quite as appealing as Gillislee since Shaun Draughn is still around in San Francisco. Davis is supposedly going to be atop the depth chart, but Draughn proved himself competent last year when Carlos Hyde was out. And Draughn should still see a fair amount of work in the passing game even if Davis does see the majority of the work.  As a result, Davis is more of a GPP option than cash.

Wide Receiver

Julio Jones — vs. SD — DK: $9,200 — FD: $9,200

This isn’t a great matchup on paper as alluded to above in the Ryan blurb. But it’s also not a prohibitive matchup on a team level, and on an individual level it’s not like the Chargers have a corner on Julio’s level. Julio is going to be heavily owned, so he’s definitely someone you can fade in tournaments. But he makes plenty of sense for cash games, especially on FD where his salary is more reasonable.

Antonio Brown — vs. NE — DK: $9,300 — FD: $9,000

Brown is going to be very lightly owned this week with Landry Jones at QB, but Jones doesn’t automatically exclude Brown from consideration. In Landry’s one regular season start last season, Brown was targeted eight times and racked up 124 yards on six receptions. The bigger deterrent for me would be New England’s ability to take away an opponent’s best weapon. But it’s not like you’re considering Brown for cash games, so the matchup factor doesn’t keep Brown from being a GPP option.

A.J. Green — vs. CLE — DK: $8,600 — FD: $8,500

Green’s matchup wouldn’t be intimidating even if Joe Haden was going to play Sunday, but Haden is not likely to play, so this matchup goes from good to great for Green. Like Julio, Green is going to be very heavily owned, so he’s another guy you can fade in tournaments if you want to. But he’s another excellent cash option. And you can probably live with one of these chalk receivers in a GPP lineup if you’re contrarian enough elsewhere.

Allen Robinson — vs. OAK — DK: $7,300 — FD: $8,400

Allen Hurns — vs. OAK — DK: $5,000 — FD: $6,000

As mentioned above, Oakland is a good matchup for opposing passing games, and the Raiders don’t have a strong corner on either side that will present a tough individual matchup for ARob or Hurns. Both guys are definitely in play this week and on both sites. Hurns saw a healthy 11 targets last week, but ARob has been the more targeted receiver on the season, so he’s the cash option of the two. Hurns should be lightly owned and makes for a nice GPP play. ARob is priced very well on DK, which makes him even more attractive for cash there, but it should drive his ownership up and leaves his GPP worthiness to FD only.

Mike Evans — @ SF — DK: $7,800 — FD: $8,000

Adam Humphries — @ SF — DK: $3,000 — FD: $4,900

San Francisco ranks 20th in aFPA against receivers, and they rank dead last in DVOA against #1 receivers. To sweeten the matchup even more for Evans, Rashard Robinson has been limited in practice with a concussion and he’s by far the best member of San Francisco’s secondary. If Robinson ends up being out, Evans will be an excellent, excellent play. He’ll likely be the third most heavily owned receiver behind Jones and Green, so he’s another option to fade in tournaments, though Jones and Green could draw enough ownership away.

Another note here is that Adam Humphries is a really nice value at the minimum price on DK. Vincent Jackson is on IR, so Humphries should see a nice amount of work for someone priced at the minimum. Use him as salary relief if you need it.

Jeremy Maclin — vs. NO — DK: 6,700 — FD: $6,800

New Orleans has actually been good per DVOA against #1 receivers while struggling against #2’s and slot receivers, but it’s hard to say why that’s the case since they don’t have any scary individual corner matchups. If I trusted Chris Conley at all, he’d be listed here instead of Maclin, but Maclin is the much safer cash play given that he averages 2.6 more targets per game. Conley is a GPP option, but if you need a WR in cash in this price range, Maclin is in play.

Michael Thomas — @ KC — DK: $4,700 — FD: $5,700

I’m of the opinion that Brandin Cooks is going to get a Marcus Peters shadow on Sunday, leaving Thomas with an excellent matchup against KC’s weaker outside corners. He’ll work as salary relief on either site in both cash and GPPs.

Tight End

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.

To that end, Jack Doyle (@ TEN, DK: $2,500, FD: $4,700) looks like an excellent cheap option this week with Dwayne Allen out. In terms of dollar spent per projected target, Doyle is the best value on the board. Tennessee ranks 18th in aFPA against tight ends and 14th in DVOA against them, so the matchup certainly isn’t prohibitive for Doyle.

Vernon Davis (@ DET, DK: $2,500, FD: $4,500) is another cheap tight end that looks like a nice value thanks to the guy on front of him on the depth chart being out (Jordan Reed). Davis has an excellent matchup against the Lions who rank 30th in aFPA and 23rd in DVOA. Doyle has been an end zone option for Andrew Luck this year, so he’s the preferred option but only slightly. Davis figures to be lesser owned, though being contrarian isn’t something to worry about as much at this position.

On the more expensive side of things, Rob Gronkowski (@ PIT, DK: $7,200, FD: $8,500) has a nice matchup with the Steelers who rank 22nd in aFPA against tight ends, but I just can’t justify paying his price tags. He’s also going to be heavily owned, so I have no issue fading him in GPPs. However, in cash, it shouldn’t be too hard to fit him in if you want to with several cheap running backs to choose from this week.

The other tight end I’m considering is Travis Kelce (vs. NO, DK: $5,300, FD: $6,300). As you could probably tell in the Maclin blurb above, I’m not sure who to stack with Smith. Kelce may be the correct answer given his heavy usage in the red zone. His eight red zone targets to date is tied for the league lead among tight ends.

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 that criteria this week are the minimum priced Ryan Succop (Tennessee) and Jason Myers (Jacksonville). Tennessee has a implied total a bit better than Jacksonville’s so Succop is the preferred play. Both guys figure to be fairly lightly owned. If you have an extra $100 left over for some reason, upgrade to Cincinnati’s Mike Nugent at $4,600, And if you have an extra $200 left over, you can go up to Matt Bryant at $4,700. Nugent and Bryant are going to be more popular plays, so only upgrade to them in cash games.

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

The chalk this week is Minnesota. They lead all defenses in fantasy scoring by a significant margin, and they rank second in Football Outsiders’ DVOA. They don’t have an elite matchup against an Eagles team that has allowed the eighth fewest fantasy points per game to opposing defenses. But it’s not an intimidating matchup either as the Eagles only rank 16th in FO’s offensive efficiency, and Philly has the second lowest implied total in Vegas. The Vikes will surely be heavily owned, so they may not be a great GPP play, but they’ll certainly work in cash games. They’re probably most “affordable” on FanDuel.

The other chalk option is the opposite of Minnesota. Whereas Minnesota is a great defense with a mediocre matchup, Cincinnati is a bad defense with a great matchup. The Bengals rank 25th in FO’s DVOA, so they’re clearly not an elite unit. But they don’t need to be necessarily against the Browns who allow the fifth most fantasy points per game to opposing defenses. The Browns have the lowest implied total of the day at 17.5, and they’re a 10-point underdog on the road. This is exactly the set of circumstances we’re looking for where a defense will face a team that is likely to have to throw the ball a lot. The Bengals best price tag is on Fantasy Aces, and they’re also priced well enough on FD. They should be a fairly popular play, but they probably won’t be as highly owned as Minnesota.

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 in Week 7 is Arizona. The Cards rank third in FO’s DVOA and second in fantasy scoring, yet they don’t seem like they’re going to be too highly owned this weekend. That makes some sense as their matchup is middling against Seattle. The Seahawks rank 17th in offensive efficiency and allow the 12th fewest fantasy points per game to opposing defenses. But it’s certainly not a horrific matchup. And the Vegas variables are working in Arizona’s favor as they’re a home favorite facing the team with the sixth lowest implied total. Given their talent on the defensive side of the ball and their likely low ownership, the Cardinals D makes for a good GPP play this weekend.

Value Options

If you’re looking to go as cheap as you can at defense, each of the three sites presents a different option. None of them figure to be highly owned, so they would all make for good GPP plays.

On DK, Tennessee is about as cheap as you can go. They’re a three-point home favorite against the Colts who have a slightly below average implied total in Vegas. The Colts have allowed the eighth most fantasy points per game to opposing defenses, so they’re a decent matchup. And Tennessee’s defense ranks ninth in FO’s DVOA, so they’re a solid unit.

On FD, New York is the cheapest possible option. The Jets are NOT a good defense as they rank 30th in DVOA and 28th in fantasy scoring. But the Vegas variables are very much in their favor. They’re a home favorite against Baltimore, and the Ravens have the third lowest implied total on Sunday. The Ravens rank 27th in offensive efficiency, so they’re clearly not an intimidating matchup.

And finally, on Aces, Kansas City is probably too cheap. The Chiefs rank eighth in DVOA and seventh in fantasy scoring, yet 10 of the defenses playing on Sunday are more expensive than KC. The Chiefs definitely have a tough matchup against New Orleans who ranks seventh in FO’s offensive efficiency and who have allowed the sixth fewest fantasy points per game to opposing defenses. But the Saints have a below average implied total, and Kansas City is the favorite at home. That makes KC a nice GPP play, especially on Aces.

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