DraftKings Week 4 QBs & RBs

At The Fantasy Takeaway, we strive to help our listeners and readers win, and in the spirit of that mission, we've brought on a new member of the team. Brad Moore is a DFS expert, an amazing writer, and a true friend of The Fantasy Takeaway Podcast. Going forward, Brad and I will be providing DraftKings plays to help you in building your lineups each week. Be sure to follow Brad @Bam79x on Twitter for all his DFS tips and awesome curated content. In this installment of this new weekly DFS piece, we'll be running through our quarterback and running back plays by pricing tier with full analysis. Don't miss our wide receivers, tight ends, and DSTs coming later this week.


Top Tier :   

Brad Moore – Matt Ryan vs. Cincinnati Bengals ($6,100)

The Atlanta Falcons have been decimated by injury. Devonta Freeman is out, and they’ve lost arguably their top three defensive players: Deion Jones, Keanu Neal, and Tak Mckinley. How do the Falcons compete?  Matt Ryan. They have little choice but to let ‘Matty Ice’ throw the ball early and often to combat all the injuries, and he’s delivering. Here’s how this matchup looks:

Cincinnati has allowed the 4th most receptions, the 4th most receiving TDs, the 2nd most 1st downs via the pass, and the 7th most receiving yards thus far. Yes, it’s only a 3 game sample size, but those stats were surrendered to:

Andrew Luck: 319 yards, 2 TDs.
Joe Flacco: 376 yards, 2 TDs.
Cam Newton: 150 yards, 2 TDs; 36 yards, and 2 TDs rushing.

Not exactly a ‘murderer’s row’ of passers –  including Luck, who has a league-low ADOT of under 6 yards. Ryan should feast in this matchup that I think will go over the current projected total of 48.5. The outcome of this game will be left up to him, and he has shown that he’s well aware of that, and up to the task.

Joe Pollock – Philip Rivers vs. San Francisco 49ers ($6,500)

Through three weeks, Philip Rivers is seventh in passing yards, eighth in completion percentage, tied for third in touchdowns, and has only thrown one interception; he's currently 2018's number four quarterback in DraftKings scoring. Rivers is an elite play at a slightly less than elite price in Week 4. The Chargers implied total in Vegas is the highest on the Sunday slate at 28.5. The tight pricing coupled with juicy matchups for mid-tier plays like Eli Manning and Andy Dalton should throw Rivers ownership well into the single digits in a slate in which he would otherwise be chalk.

At 25.77 points, the 49ers are allowing the seventh most points per game to the quarterback position, and two of the six teams allowing more play in primetime and thus are left off the main slate for Week 4. Game script could be a concern for Rivers if the Chargers jump out to an early lead, but it's likely rivers hits cash value before the end of the first half.

Mid-Tier :

Brad Moore – Andy Dalton @ Atlanta Falcons ($5,400)

The only QB play I like better than Matt Ryan this week is the guy who’ll be standing on the other side of the field. Dalton is a fantastic play this week, he’s underpriced, and he’s going be under-owned. Early Vegas lines said there were 9 teams with an implied total of 25 or more points; 7 of them are expected to score 27 or more points. The Falcons are one of those latter teams. The Bengals opened at 21.5. I expect this game total to trend upward as the week progresses, but I highly doubt the Cincinnati total will climb high enough to spike interest in the Bengals when there are so many teams with high totals in blow up spots. Aside from the low price and low ownership, why is Dalton a good play?

The Falcons have allowed 85 points through 3 weeks. Here are the teams that have allowed more:  Lions, Niners, Steelers, Bucs, Chiefs, Chargers and Saints… not good company.
They’ve allowed 91 completions, 3rd most in the league, along with a 71% completion rate. They simply can’t defend the pass.

The Bengals will be without Joe Mixon again this week, and will likely be trailing and throwing early and often. AJ Green is expected to play, Tyler Boyd is emerging as a legitimate threat every week, and Gio Bernard, Tyler Eifert, and John Ross will all be looking to get in on the action. I’ll almost certainly have Dalton in my cash and tournament lineups.

Joe Pollock – Eli Manning vs. New Orleans Saints ($5,600)

Brad's pick, Andy Dalton, is my number one quarterback play this week, but there is still more value to be found in the mid-tier options.  Eli Manning is coming off a 297-yard, two-touchdown, 19.78 point performance @ Houston. The Saints have given up 103 points and scored 104; the Giants have scored only 55. Translation: Manning, Beckham, Barkley and the Giants will be playing catch up against what appears to be a very beatable secondary.

The concerns for the Saints defense come not just from how many points they've allowed, but also who's been scoring them. It's more likely than not that two of the three quarterbacks New Orleans has faced (Tyrod Taylor & Ryan Fitzpatrick) wind up a distant second on their respective teams in snaps at the quarterback position this year.

Don't expect a shootout like the one we saw on November 1st, 2015 in the Superdome. Manning won't keep up with Brees in this one. You can, however, expect ample garbage time passing. I'd even consider the triple stack with Manning, Barkley, and Beckham if you can find enough value plays to make them fit. Manning won't be the contrarian play this week by any stretch of the imagination, but he should be an excellent cash play and could easily exceed his tournament value of 22.4 points.

Lower Tier :

Brad Moore – Josh Rosen vs. Seattle Seahawks ($4,500)

I know, I know..”You’re not seriously playing Josh Rosen, are you?” No, probably not, but if I’m looking to jam in Kamara, Michael Thomas, etc, Rosen would be the guy I would play at QB. At $4,500, he has to do very little, at home, against a Seattle defense that isn’t bringing a lot to the table right now. In their two road games, they’ve allowed a combined 529 yards and 5 TDs through the air to Case Keenum and Mitchell Trubisky.

250 passing yards and a single touchdown pass gets him to 3x value. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to suggest he can have that stat line, or better, and if that allows me to pay up at an extra spot, I wouldn’t shy away from it. In tournaments,  you can pair him with Larry Fitzgerald, David Johnson, or even Christian Kirk, and you’ll have a very low-owned stack, and can still afford some high-end chalk plays.

Running Backs

Ezekiel Elliott

Top Tier ($6k-Max):   

Brad Moore –  Ezekiel Elliott vs. Detroit Lions ($7,700)

Elliott is the 4th highest priced RB on the main slate, and he’s in the best possible matchup. Detroit has the worst run defense in the NFL. They’ve given up 149 rushing yards per game over their first 3 games, at a 5.4 yards per carry clip. It is only 3 games, though, right? Maybe they’ve just faced great rushing attacks, right?  Nah. They’re just awful against the run.

Week 1 vs. Jets:  Isaiah Crowell and Bilal Powell combined for 162 rushing yards and 2 TDs and averaged 7.4 yards per carry.
Week 2 @ SF:  Matt Breida and Alfred Morris combined for 186 rushing yards and 1 TD, and, again, averaged 7.4 yards per carry.
Last week vs. the Patriots: Sony Michel and James White combined for 97 rushing yards, averaging 5.4 yards per carry.

Notice that I haven’t even mentioned receiving stats. Elliott will be heavily involved there, too. The Lions gave up 61 receiving yards to the Jets RBs; 66 yards to SF RBs, and 39 yards and 1 TD to the Pats’ James White.  Zeke will end up being a chalk play, in all likelihood, and it’s chalk I will gladly eat.

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Joe Pollock – Giovani Bernard @ Atlanta Falcons ($6,300)

A game-script proof running back in today's NFL is hard to find. In any given week, the guys you can count on whether their team is blowing out their opponent or being blown out themselves typically won't fill up the digits on a single hand. With the injury to Joe Mixon holding him out at least one more week, Giovani Bernard has been thrust into a game-script proof role.

Last week, in a significantly tougher matchup @ Carolina, Bernard tallied 17 touches for 86 yards and a score including five receptions. 19.6 points would be plenty to hit cash value for Bernard this week, but against an Atlanta defense that just gave up 37 points to Alvin Kamara and is yielding an unworldly 37.4 points per game to the running back position thus far in 2018, he could obliterate that total. The injury-riddled Atlanta defense is allowing 5.2 yards per attempt and has surrendered four rushing touchdowns. Both of those numbers rank second-worst in the NFL.

With projected ownership in the high teens, a contrarian play Bernard is not, but at $6,300 he can provide elite production at pseudo-elite pricing leaving room for bona fide elite players like Michael Thomas & Odell Beckham Jr. elsewhere in your lineups.

Mid-Tier ($5k-$5,900):

Brad –  Kenyan Drake @ New England Patriots ($5,200)

The last time Kenyan Drake played a football game in New England was Week 13 last season. He was good. He was very good.  He carried the ball 25 times for 114 yards, and caught 5 of 6 targets for another 79 yards, finishing the day with 27.3 DraftKings points. That’s a huge day for a guy that didn’t find the end zone. Miami won that game 27-20 because of his efforts, and I have no reason to doubt he won’t be leaned on heavily again this week.

His usage has been down, so his numbers certainly aren’t impressive. That works just fine for me. A $5,200 price tag and low ownership for a guy that I expect to be carrying the load against a bad rush defense in a divisional game that Miami has to have to open up a three-game lead over the Pats after four weeks? Sign me up.

Through three weeks, Drake has only touched the ball 39 times – 30 rushes and  9 receptions on 12 targets. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he sees 25 touches this week. New England hasn’t been able to find an answer to stopping the run game in the first three games of the season, and Drake may be better than any of the three RBs they’ve already faced.

Lamar Miller ran for 98 yards on 20 carries; a 4.9-yard average; TJ Yeldon only had 58 yards, but he did that on just 10 carries, and last week, Kerryon Johnson ended the Lions’ 70 games-without-a-100-yard-rusher drought by racking up 101 yards on the ground on 16 carries. That’s 257 yards at a 5.6 yard per carry clip allowed by the Patriots to teams’ top rushing threats through three weeks.  They’ve also allowed another 149 receiving yards to RBs, on 18 receptions. So, an average of 6 receptions for 50 yards through the air per game, as well.

I will have as much Drake in my DraftKings lineups as I can fit in at this price in this spot, at what is likely to be very low ownership.

Joe Pollock – Lamar Miller @ Indianapolis Colts ($5,000)

The Colts are allowing 29.3 points per game to the running back position thus far in 2018. That number wouldn't be outrageous had the Colts faced elite backfields. Last week, Indianapolis allowed 196 yards from scrimmage and a score to an Eagles stable featuring Corey Clement, Wendell Smallwood, and Josh Adams in the absence of Jay Ajayi and Darren Sproles. The week prior, in Washington, Indianapolis yielded 13 receptions and 92 yards to Chris Thompson.

Lamar Miller may not be the prototypical bell-cow, but through three weeks of the 2018 season, he's been on the field for 76.6 percent of Houston's offensive snaps. Only seven backs have a higher snap share to this point. While Miller's production thus far is far from elite, it must be noted that the Patriots, Titans, and Giants rank 21st, 5th, and 9th in points allowed to the running back position respectively. Miller is not a week-in and week-out plug-and-play option, even at his Week 4 price point of $5,000, but this week, he should see adequate opportunity to hit his 20-point 4x value, and his 2.5x cash floor of 12.5 points is all but a foregone conclusion.

Lower Tier (Less than $5k):

Brad Moore –  Austin Ekeler vs. San Francisco 49ers ($4,200)

I always cringe at the thought of playing a guy who doesn’t play many snaps. I cringe harder when he plays less than half as many snaps as the guy who he replaces, and that guy is one of the faces of the franchise. That’s what you get with Austin Ekeler, however, I like him this week based on matchup, first and foremost, and his reasonable price tag. The Chargers are 10.5 point home favorites against a San Francisco team that just lost Jimmy Garoppolo and weren’t exactly lighting it up offensively even with him in the lineup. That’s not even the bad news; the bad news is, their defense is worse.

The Niners are allowing 29.6 points per game. Their schedule hasn’t been easy – Vikings, Lions, Chiefs – but giving up 30 per game is egregious, regardless. Philip Rivers and company should be able to do whatever they want in this game, and it may be long over by half-time. If that’s the case, Ekeler should see increased usage throughout the second half. He’s only seen 64 snaps in three games – 22, 24, and 18 – but I could see his average of almost 22 per game reach close to 30 or more. At his price tag, I won’t ignore that. It must be mentioned that the San Francisco rush defense hasn’t been awful, it’s been decent, but they’ve given up points to pass-catching RBs.

Joe Pollock – Chris Carson @ Arizona Cardinals ($4,600)

Like all plays in the sub $5k range, Chris Carson is a flier. He's the pay-down option that makes pay-up choices like Alvin Kamara, Melvin Gordon, and Saquon Barkley attainable. So what makes Carson a better flier than Marshawn Lynch ($4,800), Sony Michel ($4,500), or Dion Lewis ($4,400)? Volume. There's no guarantee that Rashaad Penny stays in the doghouse as a result of his Week 3 fumble vs. Dallas, but if he does, Carson should see a massive workload.

Last week Carson tallied 34 touches. His efficiency was through the floor, but with a rookie quarterback leading the Arizona Cardinals in his first NFL start, it's relatively safe to assume game-script will favor a run-heavy attack from the Seahawks. Carson may not see 87 percent of the running back touch market share, but even if he gets 60, he'll have an excellent chance to hit value.

Joe Pollock is co-host and of The Fantasy Takeaway Podcast. You can find him on Twitter @HumanStatSheet or contact him by email at Joe@TheFantasyTakewaway.com

Brad Moore is a DFS contributor for TheFantasyTakeaway.com. You can find him on Twitter @Bam79x  or contact him by email at Brad@TheFantasyTakeaway.com

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