With scoring down this season across every position and with a mulititude of injuries across the league, roster construction has been hit and miss thus far. The most consistent scoring through the first nine weeks came from top-end running backs. Meanwhile, the wide receiver and tight end positions are marked with higher variance and inconsistency, atypical of most NFL seasons. Maybe it’s injuries; maybe its teams’ willingness to roll out the likes of Tom Savage on a weekly basis or maybe it’s something else. Regardless, I’m here to help you separate the wheat from the chaff.
In this article, I’ll give you the players I’m targeting on Fanduel this week and why.
We’ve got a really interesting week of roster construction on the main slate with lots of value plays all over the board.
Matthew Stafford, $8,200
Stafford is the first quarterback to target. At his best, he is a top-three QB in the NFL and this Monday Night’s game proved that. Detroit is eighth in points per game, (25.8) and Cleveland’s defense is 25th in points given up per game at 25.2 ppg. With a 43.5 overall Vegas total, you can deduce that this offense will score the majority of those points, with the Lions share (pun intended) of those coming through the air.
Because of the Lions inability to run the ball effectively, you can further deduce that these points have a good chance of coming from Stafford to one of his many pass catchers. At $8,200 on FD, Stafford is in great position to reach triple his value.
Ben Roethlisberger, $7,600
The Colts just released their ex-starting cornerback, Vontae Davis after he opted for season-ending groin surgery. The Colts give up the second-most pass yards per game and the most pass yards per attempt on the season. This is a defense that is susceptible to the big play – as we saw when the Texans came into town – and Big Ben loves to throw it deep. The Steelers have an embarrassment of riches at WR with Antonio Brown, Juju Smith-Schuster, and Martavis Bryant.
The Colts, well, they have an embarrassment of issues in the defensive secondary without Davis and big-time rookie Malik Hooker. The Colts are in a veritable pick your poison situation, and it does not end well in either scenario. At only $7,600, Big Ben is a bargain. Rostering him will allow you to pay up at other positions like tight end to pick up Rob Gronkowski. I’d even do a Steelers’ triple stack with Big Ben, Le’Veon Bell, and Brown.
Josh McCown, $7,400
As JJ Zachariason from Numberfire pointed out, McCown is averaging more fantasy points per game than Marcus Mariota, Phillip Rivers, Derek Carr and Matt Ryan. McCown consistently puts his team in position to win games this season with his arm, and even his legs with two rushing touchdowns in his past three games. This offense churned out 34 points against a Buffalo Bills defense that has been one of the best so far this season. Against the lowly Tampa Bay Buccaneers, things could get ugly.
Eli Manning, $6,700
Eli is in prime position to put up three-plus TDs and 300-plus yards against a San Francisco 49ers defense that is decimated by injuries. This game sets up to be a high-scoring contest between two of the league’s worst teams. We like that because it allows us to roster players from this game for a low price, allowing us to spend up at other positions.
Jordan Howard, $7,200
The Bears are home favorites this week, making Howard a very nice play at a reasonable price. Chicago is sixth in rushing yards per game and seventh in attempts per game. To shield their rookie quarterback, the Bears rely on their workhorse to move the sticks. Although Howard has not scored in four games, I would expect some positive touchdown regression this week at home against a Green Bay Packers defense that gives up the 10th-most rushing yards per game.
Carlos Hyde, $6,700
The New York Giants surrender an average of 125 yards on the ground and rank 28th in football outsiders’ Defensive DVOA. Last week, the Giants looked totally unprepared and uninterested in playing a modicum of defense against the L.A. Rams as they got beat continuously by big plays. That makes Carlos Hyde a very nice value play this week at this price. Make no mistake, the 49ers’ offense is not good. But, Hyde is seeing the volume that exceeds his FD pricing. Last week, Hyde caught nine balls for 84 yards and has caught at least four passes in his last five games. With Pierre Garcon on injured reserve and George Kittle out this week, you can roster Hyde with confidence.
Orleans Darkwa, $5,300
The 49ers allow the most rushing yards per game in the league. This defense is bad in every facet of the game right now because of the ever-present injury bug. Darkwa is the lead back in a Giants’ offense that is without its best pass catchers. At $5,300, you will not find an RB who gets more work and has as good a matchup as this one.
A.J. Green, $7,900
Green might go off for 200 yards. After putting hands and feet on Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey last week, he’s going to be fired up against a Tennessee Titans’ defense that has faced mediocre passing offenses all season outside of the Oakland Raiders, Seattle Seahawks and the Deshaun Watson-led Houston Texans. Each team had their way with the Titans’ defense. Expect Green to be targeted early and often.
Marqise Lee, $6,000
I’ve watched the Jacksonville Jaguars games for the last few weeks and outside of Leonard Fournette, Lee is the best player on this offense. He’s electric with the ball in his hands and he makes outstanding plays in one-on-one situations. He’s been targeted 28 times in the last three games as well. Last week. he saw 12 targets and caught 8 of them for 75 yards and a score. With so much attention placed on stopping the Jaguars’ run game, things open up for Lee to make big plays. He and Blake Bortles have clearly established a rapport. Roster him with confidence this week as the Los Angeles Chargers play tight ends well, which will funnel targets to the outside.
Marvin Jones Jr. $6,400
With 11-plus targets and no fewer than 15 FD points in the last three games, Jones is an incredible value this week against a Cleveland defense that is 29th in opponent touchdown passes surrendered per game. He is criminally undervalued on Fanduel this week and it behooves you to take advantage of that. The Browns are surprisingly strong against the run, ranking fourth in opponent rushing yards per game (84.2 ypg). The Detroit Lions are unsurprisingly awful at running the ball only gaining 79.9 yards per game, good for 29th in the league. Look for Jones to find the end zone this week.
Robby Anderson, $6,500
Here is a player that is coming into his own at 6’3” with 4.3 speed in what has turned into a fun Jets offense. Robby is on a three-game touchdown streak and scored no fewer than nine FD in his last four games. With Jeremy Kerley suspended, Anderson has shown his value to McCown. Against a very soft Tampa secondary, Robby could easily go for six catches, 100-plus yards, and a touchdown. He’s an incredible value this week.
Evan Engram, $7,400
Without the likes of Odell Beckham Jr., Engram has become a target monster in this offense averaging 10 targets a game for the last three weeks and scoring a touchdown in each game. He’s a guy that can stretch the field with his 4.4 speed and is a matchup nightmare for linebackers and safeties. It just so happens that the 49ers’ two starting safeties are on IR and will not play this game. Stack Engram with Manning for a low-priced, high-ceiling duo.
Austin Sefarian-Jenkins, $6,000
People will look at ASJ’s stats over the last two weeks and not want to roster him against a Tampa Bay Buccaneers team that he resents for giving him the ax and not standing by him while he was going through a rough time. ASJ’s been on the wrong side of calls with two touchdowns called back in his last three games that would likely have him much higher priced this week. I’m all over the revenge narrative in this game and see ASJ scoring at least once in the red zone.
Eric Ebron, $5,300
Ebron’s hands are made of granite dipped in stone. He hasn’t been able to hold on to anything, let alone his starting spot. However, the Lions face the Browns this week and they’re the worst team in the league at a lot of things, but especially at defending tight ends. Based on that alone, Ebron sets up to be a decent play that will almost surely have a low ownership percentage in GPPs.
Lions D/ST, $5,300
The Lions defense has been granted the privilege of going up against a Browns offense that showers opposing defenses with many gifts throughout the game from interceptions to sacks. I could honestly stop right there and that would suffice, but I’ll continue. The Browns change quarterbacks more than my girlfriend changes clothes before we go out, and guess what? None of their quarterbacks are good. The Browns lost Joe Thomas for the year and he is one of the best offensive linemen in the NFL. The Browns will get down early, and then start to air it out which will lead to sacks and interceptions. Lock in Lions defense without worry.
Jets D/ST, $4,600
The Jets defense has come alive the past few weeks led by their monstrous defensive line led by Muhammad Wilkerson and Leonard Williams and two standout rookies, Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye, in the secondary. Facing a Buccaneers team without Jameis Winston and Mike Evans, I fully expect the Jets’ defense to dominate this game by pressuring and intercepting Ryan Fitzpatrick.
This Bears defense is priced mind-bogglingly low this week. They are playing very well this year and find themselves at home against a Brett Hundley-led Packers’ offense that looks inept without Aaron Rodgers. The Howard/Bears’ defense stack is a great correlation play this week.
This week provides versatility in roster construction. My way construction this week begins with paying up at running back, finding value at WR and QB and going mid to high at TE. Ownership levels should be a bit more varied this week with no one being as clearly chalky as previous weeks. Good look out there and as always, have fun!