.Well that was an exciting way to kick off the week. The Vikings and Rams had almost hit the over by halftime, and we saw the first QB score a perfect QB rating this season. As fun as that game was to watch, unfortunately, it may have put you in a hole fantasy-wise, season-long or DFS. Here is yet another advantage of the DFS format, as you can still cash out by being smart and managing risk. With the lecture over now, we can move on to some of the best value plays this week.
DFS Targets: Week Four
Eli Manning, vs NO ($5600)
So right away I’m recommending Eli Manning, and you might be thinking this is a strange risk. Certainly, there are more popular options this week around this same price, like Andy Dalton or Ryan Tannehill. Well, I’m avoiding them here for a couple of reasons.
First, I’ve already recommended them recently and while I think they are good plays that are part of the problem. This leads me to the second problem with those two specifically: they are very good and very obvious plays this week. So let’s take a closer look at Eli and why he’s the play.
At $5600, Eli is tied with several other starters at QB13 in DK. This is actually the second highest salary Eli has posted this year, but the QB position as a whole is still priced down. He’s bunched in with a few guys, not on the main slate (Keenum and Flacco), one QB on IR, and others with tougher road games or worse skill position players.
Even with a minor price bump for him, he’s a bargain given his recent production. Eli is a definite GPP play this week as his name and inconsistent reputation will drive his ownership down, despite some of the other things going for him.
Speaking of his production, Eli has been pretty good lately. After a rough start to the season against a fully healthy Jacksonville Jaguars squad, Eli has averaged 17.7 points in his last two games. Playing on the road against Dallas and Houston, two top 12 pass defenses, Eli looked good, averaging 288 yards and 1.5 TDs while also not throwing a pick.
He’s improved his yardage and TD production in every game this season and the only offensive weapon missing on Sunday is TE Evan Engram. Rookie RB Saquon Barkley is more than able to fill the role of safety valve for Manning, as we saw in Week 2 when he leads the team with 16 targets. Odell Beckham Jr. and Sterling Shepard are both ready to go and are set to feast against their opponent Sunday, the New Orleans Saints.
Looking at the Saints coming into this game, everything is in place for a potential shootout. The Saints are coming off an 80 point affair in Atlanta and surrendered 374 yards and five TDs to Matt Ryan. Aside from holding the Tyrod Taylor-led Cleveland Browns to 234 yards passing, the Saints’ secondary has been a problem.
NO is currently giving up the most points per game to QBs (34.6) and WRs (66.3) while surrendering the 4th most passing yards and most TDs. Aside from a shaky secondary, the pass rush can also take some of the blame for the Saints’ defensive struggles. Thus far NO has only managed 6 sacks, which isn’t enough pressure to rattle Eli.
OBJ will most likely see star CB Marshon Lattimore shadow him, but Evans was able to take advantage of him in Week 1 and he got worked against Julio Jones last week too. Eli trusts OBJ, even with tight coverage on him, to come down with the ball and won’t shy away from feeding his receivers.
Eli is 11th in AGG% per Pro Football Focus, which measures the percentage of throws made with a defender within one yard of the intended receiver. I’ll talk more about Sterling Shepard later, but spoiler alert, he’s got a really good matchup this week.
There is real shootout potential here, given the offense of the Giants but also the defensive players missing for NY and Drew Brees having a typically excellent Brees season. Take. Advantage.
Aaron Jones vs BUF ($4100)
Jones makes his first appearance here coming off of his first game action of the season last week. It didn’t take him long to remind Green Bay fans and fantasy players alike of the kind of production he is capable of and offered a tease of his potential in this offense. He’s not the starter, yet, but that should and could change this week.
With a bargain price of $4100, Jones is all the way down at RB46, right next to Derrick Henry and Tarik Cohen. While Jones doesn’t have a clear path to an RB1 workload, he has the skills to out produce this spot.
After serving his suspension to open the season, Jones was priced at $4300, and despite being the most productive back for GB in a loss to the Washington Redskins, he saw his price drop. Fitting Jones into your lineup builds a ton of salary flexibility to use for some premium players elsewhere.
With one game, Jones brought back memories of his first two career starts at RB. Back in 2017, Jones turned his first to starts into huge fantasy days, rushing for 125 and 131 yards with TDs in both games. His efficiency was on display as he did that damage on less than 20 rushes in those two games.
Last week, Jones was again very productive on limited touches, going for 42 yards on 6 carries, while also catching his only target for another 5 yards. If the game script turns in Green Bay’s favor here, which is likely, Jones could thrive and see double-digit touches.
Stepping in for Jamaal Williams, it was clear that Jones the more dynamic running style of the two. In his three games as the starter and main rusher, Williams has avoided as many tackles as you and I, zero, per Pro Football Focus, and has been one of the easiest runners to take down. Jones is much more elusive, already causing two missed tackles on his six carries. QB Aaron Rodgers talked about how different he was and was clearly pining for more of Jones on the field, and in GB, Rodgers gets what he wants.
As tempting as it might be to look at Buffalo and say they are a good defense, that just doesn’t seem to be the case. Buffalo has benefited from a combination of weird game scripts and games against teams with sub-optimal rushing attacks. Week 1 saw them blown out by the Baltimore Ravens who have seen starting RB Alex Collins struggle early.
Week 2 was another big loss to the Los Angeles Chargers, who took an early lead and took their foot off the gas. They still gave up 105 yards rushing and another 59 receiving to LAC’s top two backs, while also allowing Melvin Gordon to score three times. Week 3 was another fluke of a game, where turnovers shifted the game script away from the run game. This is a beatable defense, and I expect Green Bay’s offense to have no problems moving the ball.
On the other side, I don’t think Josh Allen will be able to match scores with Aaron Rodgers. Allen showed some flashes, especially last week, but he is still an incredibly raw rookie QB who has not addressed any of the concerns about him heading into the season. Nathan Peterman will likely go down as a living punchline, and yet he clearly outperformed Allen throughout the preseason.
Allen Robinson vs TB ($5900)
Wide receiver offers lots of good high-end plays this week and is probably the best place to roster the upper tier guys. Despite that, there are plenty of values available as well. These two players are here as exactly that, value plays that should pay off well.
Robinson is firmly in the middle tier of WRs this week. He is ranked WR24 in DK, around lower end WR1s like Chris Hogan, John Brown, and Alshon Jeffery. Robinson also saw a $500 price increase despite having his least productive game of the season. This is a nice indicator of how productive DraftKings thinks he can be.
After a week of poor production against the Arizona Cardinals, Robinson is still a beloved figure among the fantasy community. Why? Allen Robinson has the ninth-best Weighted Opportunity Rating (WOPR) so far this season, and of the players ahead of him, only Corey Davis has scored fewer actual fantasy points.
We are now at the point of the season where the components of WOPR (target and air yard share) begin to stabilize, making for a nice predictive model of production. Robinson leads the Bears in receiving yards, targets, air yards, the average depth of target, target share, and WOPR. He is ready to break through with a high-end WR1 day any minute.
That breakthrough is very likely to happen this week, based on a great matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Tampa is giving up the second most points per game to WRs (51.1) in DraftKings, behind only NO (more on them in a minute). The Bucs allow the most receptions to WRs, while also being in the top 7 or better in yards and TDs. Of their CBs, only Ryan Smith has allowed a passer rating lower than 96.7.
Brent Grimes, their top man in coverage, has been particularly bad, allowing a perfect 158.3 rating. Chicago will be playing at home and will have to contend with Fitz-magic, so expect scoring to be up compared to Chicago’s other games.
Sterling Shepard vs NO ($4900)
Shepard is priced crazy low for a productive WR2, especially one as talented as him. Buried down at WR45, he only needs a mediocre game to hit value and is a good bet to go way beyond that. After his season-best outing last week his price increased $400. The major concern with Shepard this week, besides an appearance from Bad-Eli, is his ownership. But, this pricing is begging for usage, and his scoring potential is too good to pass up.
Shaking off a slow start, Shepard was able to heat up last week with his best game of the season. He caught six of seven targets for 80 yards and the eventual game-winning TD. The third-year WR (remember when everyone went nuts for third-year WRs?) is set up nicely here with Engram out and Barkley drawing attention from the defensive front seven.
The Giants are the OBJ and Shep show as far as WR production. Shepard is second among WRs on NY in targets, yards, air yards, target share, and WOPR. He also leads in Receiver Air Conversion Ratio (RACR). His 0.89 RACR means that he is very efficient at turning his air yards into actual yards. Which is important for him considering his aDOT is under 10. Keeping his efficiency in mind, production stands to be substantially higher based on his matchup.
Okay, I’ve teased this enough. As I mentioned in the Eli section above, NO is not good at pass defense, but PJ Williams has been especially brutal. With CB Patrick Robinson on IR, PJ Williams will be tasked with covering Shepard. He was torched last week by Calvin Ridley and Mohammed Sanu and, like Brent Grimes, has surrendered a perfect 158.3 passer rating. On 10 targets he has allowed 8 receptions and 3 TDs.
Shepard will have plenty of room to operate with OBJ drawing Marshon Lattimore and Barkley being someone who needs to draw attention at all times. Start Shepard in DFS this week.
Eric Ebron vs HOU ($3600)
Ebron is one of many low-priced TEs of interest. This week there are only three TEs priced above $4500, making most of the position a potential bargain. Ebron is actually priced below fellow Indianapolis Colt Jack Doyle, who has already been ruled out this week. Similar to Allen Robinson, Ebron saw a price increase after his least productive day of the season, up $200 after his let down in Week 3.
Ownership here could be depressed since so many people were on him last when he only scored 8.3 points. He’s a risk, but so is every one of the TEs outside of the top 3.
The main appeal to Ebron is his red zone usage, as he scored in Week 1 and 2. With Doyle out, the target split we saw the first two weeks is also not in play. In Week 3, Ebron actually led the team in targets with 11. He just wasn’t able to convert them into production. He still managed to score 8.3 points to avoid total disaster. But, if his target share remains that high he has to be used.
There has been some concern in fantasy circles about QB Andrew Luck’s shoulder and it impacts on his receivers. Oddly enough, Ebron leads the Colts in aDOT at 10.2, and is the only Colt in double digits. He’s second in air yards and WOPR and leads in TDs. With a rushing attack ranked near the bottom, the passing game seem to be Indy’s best bet to move the ball. This puts Ebron in great shape in a home game against the Houston Texans.
Houston has not gotten off to the start many envisioned with a healthy Deshaun Watson and JJ Watt coming back. The defense has been mediocre at best sitting in the middle or bottom in several categories. Against TEs, the Texans have been even worse. They rank dead last in Defense-Adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA) and allowing the 8th most points per game to TEs (15.5).
Houston’s given up two TDs to TEs already and Ebron is ready to make that number increase. Plug him in. Just remember that paying down for TE is always a risk, but he’s a safer bet than most.