Chances are if you had pieces from the New Orleans, Atlanta game, you made out well in week 3. That game reinforces the importance of considering team and game stacks in lineup construction. It was a wild week 3 in the NFL but now we head to week 4 where all of the rookie quarterbacks drafted in the first round with the exception of Lamar Jackson are starting for their respective teams.
The Rams, Vikings, Chiefs, and Steelers are off the main slate, teams with pieces that warrant consideration each week. The Patriots are back on the board before another two weeks of primetime games keeps them off again. It required a little additional research this week but here are some worthy options to consider for week 4.
Tom Brady: vs MIA (DK 6700; FD 8600)
We currently live in a world where the Patriots sit two games behind the undefeated Dolphins heading into this matchup in Foxboro. The Patriots have only had a losing streak of more than two in the Tom Brady era just once, way back in 2002 when they lost four in a row. Whatever happened at Ford Field on Sunday night is in the past; the Patriots know they have to win this game to avoid falling three games behind in the AFC East. In Brady’s last three starts against the Dolphins at home, he’s thrown for 10 touchdowns and is averaging over 20 FPPG in those matchups. A weak Patriots defense against a more competent Dolphins offense than in recent matchups should keep the Patriots from making it a one-sided affair and running the ball in the second half. An angry Brady is a great tournament play against a Dolphins team that has faced a Titans team that isn’t clicking under OC Matt LaFleur, a rookie QB in Sam Darnold, and a Raiders team that is already in disarray under Jon Gruden; this is Miami’s first real test.
Matt Ryan: vs CIN (DK 6100; FD 8100)
The defense was supposed to be the strength of this Atlanta team but season-ending injuries that have become the norm each week have left the defensive unit decimated. Fortunately, the Falcons offense is beginning to resemble what many thought it would become last year under Steve Sarkisian. The addition of Calvin Ridley gives opposing secondaries another vertical threat opposite Julio Jones to worry about. Thus, the combination of a depleted defense, rejuvenated offense, and a dome setting make Matt Ryan appealing again for a third straight week. Not to mention he’s still affordable after a 43 DK point performance and just a $400 salary increase on DraftKings. The Bengals have allowed multiple passing touchdowns in all three games and in a game with the highest total on the board, the path for returning value is certainly there for Matty Ice and even getting to 4x-5x.
Andy Dalton: at ATL (DK 5400; FD 7400)
All of the reasoning listed above for Matt Ryan applies here too; what we get with Andy Dalton is extra salary to invest in other areas. AJ Green expects to play in this game and even with Giovani Bernard filling in for Joe Mixon, the Bengals shouldn’t lose a beat on offense. Whether they use Bernard out of the backfield, the trio of talented receivers, or their tight ends, there are many avenues for Dalton to put together an excellent fantasy performance. With Keanu Neal and Deion Jones missing, the Falcons have allowed the QB7 and QB1 in weeks 2 and 3 respectively, allowing 34.05 FPPG. Returning value shouldn’t be an issue here, 20-25 fantasy points should be the goal given the Atlanta deficiencies on defense.
Melvin Gordon: vs SF (DK 8300; FD 8700)
Jimmy Garappolo is out for the year with a torn ACL which downgrades the whole 49ers offense with CJ Beathard as the new starting quarterback. This bodes well for a Chargers team that needs a win to keep up with the Broncos and Chiefs in the AFC West. Melvin Gordon and his 18.6 touches per game should have plenty of work if the Chargers take an early lead. The 49ers allow 8.66 receptions per game to running backs which is a great compliment to the amount of rushing attempts he will see in a game that the Chargers are 10.5 point favorites.
Ezekiel Elliott: vs DET (DK 7700; FD 8200)
The Lions are giving up an average of 150 yards per game to running backs on the ground through the first few weeks and have allowed 100 rushing yard games to Isaiah Crowell and Matt Breida, something to consider with DraftKings and their yardage bonuses. Ezekiel Elliott would have been more of a FanDuel play for me last year but he’s seeing more targets, including eight against Seattle last week, as there aren’t many reliable passing options in the Dallas offense that he’s now viable on both sites. Detroit is giving up an astounding 6.33 yards per carry and I expect a depleted Cowboys offense to play to that weakness and heavily rely on Zeke in this game.
Giovani Bernard: at ATL (DK 6300; FD 6400)
Opposing offenses have completed 36 of 47 tosses to pass catching backs against the Falcons, an average of 12 catches on 15.6 targets per game. 6 FD/12 DK is an incredible floor and this Atlanta weakness is not going to be remedied as this has been a continuing issue since 2016. Next on the flow chart is Giovani Bernard who handled 100% of the running back touches against the Panthers in week 3. No thought is required here, roster Bernard and reap the rewards for doing so.
James White: vs MIA (DK 5400; FD 6100)
The injuries to Jeremy Hill and now Rex Burkhead have left the Patriots thin at the running back position. This bodes well for James White who will see additional carries along with his primary strength of lining up in the backfield. He faces a Dolphins team that has allowed the 7th most FPA to receiving backs early on in 2018. With Julian Edelman a week away from suiting up and Josh Gordon still learning the offense, expect Tom Brady to rely heavily on White in a must-win game this week.
Michael Thomas: at NYG (DK 9100; FD 9000)
With Mark Ingram returning from suspension next week, it will be curious to see if this offense operates the way it did last year or if Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas remain the focal points of an offense that is clicking on all cylinders. We’ll worry about the current Saints offense for now as Michael Thomas has seen double digit receptions and targets in all three games thus far. If Eli Manning performs to expectations against a Saints secondary that has given up the most receiving yards and touchdowns to wide receivers, this game has the potential to shootout. The price tag is high but there is a certain comfort in knowing you’re getting the volume you’re paying up for; start Michael Thomas with confidence.
Randall Cobb: vs BUF (DK 5100; FD 6100)
At first glance, 4 catches for 23 yards against the Redskins will deter some from considering Randall Cobb this week. However, he was targeted 11 times in that game and draws a favorable matchup in the slot against a Bills team that is giving up the second most FPA to slot receivers. Kirk Cousins targeted slot receiver Adam Thielen 19 times in an effort to expose Rafael Bush last week and completed 14 of those passes for 105 yards. Davante Adams and Geronimo Allison will see plenty of Tre’Davious White which should filter additional targets to Cobb. By snap count, he’s still playing more than Allison who has been generating some buzz but in this game, Cobb is the receiver to roster.
Sterling Shepard: vs NO (DK 4900; FD 6200)
Evan Engram leaves behind six targets a game as he deals with a sprained MCL. The path to additional targets for Sterling Shepard is a lot more difficult this year with Saquon Barkley in the picture. In games that Odell Beckham missed in 2017, Shepard averaged 9.16 targets versus 5.8 targets when him, ODB, and Engram shared the field. He’s seeing 6.16 targets per game through three weeks and in a game where one of the best slot corners of 2017 in Patrick Robinson is out with a broken ankle, 7-8 targets would be ideal in what will be a favorable matchup. Also add in that OBJ and Cody Latimer will deal with Marshon Lattimore and it makes rostering Shepard even more appealing. No team has given up more yards and touchdowns to the wide receiver position thus far than the Saints and given the salary and potential for increased targets, Shepard makes for a nice play to get to the higher-priced options.
Antonio Callaway: at OAK (DK 4300; FD 4500)
He’s everything you want in a bargain bin player, seeing playing time on 90% of the teams snaps and 10 targets last week. On FanDuel, Antonio Callaway is a free space as he is priced at the bare minimum of $4500. The Raiders secondary was burnable last year and that certainly hasn’t changed this year, giving up touchdowns of 74 and 52 yards. If it wasn’t for two pass interferences calls, Brandin Cooks would have had two deep touchdowns as well in week 1. He’s proven he can be the Cleveland deep threat on that fourth quarter strike in New Orleans and should have had another if not for Tyrod Taylor’s inexcusable inaccuracy last week against the Jets. Baker Mayfield is a gunslinger, one that will be looking in Callaway’s direction in this game.
Rob Gronkowski: vs MIA (DK 7000; FD 8100)
If Brady is your choice at quarterback, then his best pass catching option should be in play as well. Gronk led the team with five targets in an atrocious effort against the Lions in week 3. As Brady has had success against the Dolphins at home, Gronk has also enjoyed that success, to the tune of 20.03 FD/22.36 DK points in his last three against Miami in Foxboro, including four touchdowns. The Patriots offense should improve with the return of Julian Edelman and the gradual integration of Josh Gordon but for this week, trust Gronk in a game that the Patriots need to win.
Trey Burton: vs TB (DK 3900; FD 5600)
If you take away the 75 yard touchdown from Vance McDonald, Tampa Bay would still have allowed the 4th most receiving yards and the most receptions to the tight end position thus far in 2018. Trey Burton should be licking his chops against a Bucs team that has been burned by the position; they have already allowed more than half the yardage to the position in three games than they did all of last year. 7-8 catches is certainly a possibility for Burton in this game and a touchdown on top of that gets us to 4x-5x territory.
Eric Ebron: vs HOU (DK 3600; FD 5500)
He should have performed much better than the five receptions for 33 yard clip would indicate. With Jack Doyle inactive, Eric Ebron saw 11 targets, including four in the red zone, but wasn’t able to deliver against the Eagles in week 3. Doyle is trending towards being inactive again this week against a Texans team that gave up the 5th most FPA to tight ends in 2017 and has allowed two touchdowns to the position this year. Andrew Luck enjoys throwing to his tight ends as past years have demonstrated and the 31% target share to the position in 2018 is 3rd in the NFL. His salary is a steal for the usage that is expected of Ebron in this divisional matchup.
Jacksonville: vs NYJ (DK 4100; FD 5200)
The best defense in the NFL gets a date against a rookie quarterback that has seen what success and failure look like at the next level. Success may be hard to come by in this game for Sam Darnold against a Jacksonville defense that feasts on turnovers and inferior offenses. The Jags are the most expensive defense on both sites for good reason and against a quarterback that has thrown five picks in three games, they are worth paying up for this week.
Green Bay: vs BUF (DK 3500; FD 4300)
With the Bears expected to see high ownership on both sites, this makes for a nice pivot from the field in tournaments. Can a rookie in Josh Allen starting just his second game in the NFL put together two good starts on the road? That’s the question that needs to be asked when considering the Packers defense this week. It was as if the Vikings thought they would show up and win; the Packers certainly won’t be fooled after that stunner in Minneapolis. The hope is Green Bay penetrating a soft Buffalo offensive line that has allowed 14 sacks into turnovers and not allowing Allen to get comfortable in the pocket.
Chicago: vs TB (DK 2600; FD 4300)
Three interceptions including one that was returned for a touchdown, the effects of pressuring Ryan Fitzpatrick. He has been phenomenal as he is the first quarterback in NFL history to throw for three straight 400 yard games but there are plenty of reasons that he has been a journeyman backup in the NFL. Those reasons may be rediscovered at Soldier Field against a tenacious Bears defense that features the best secondary the Bucs will have seen early on in 2018. Especially on DraftKings, expect the Bears D to be the chalk as the price is too good to pass up in a game that should feature some Tampa Bay turnovers.
Each week, I will identify what players are bargains based on the salary cap percentage difference they represent on the respective site. Here are the notable week 4 bargains from both sites:
NOTABLE DRAFTKINGS BARGAINS
QB Andy Dalton: 1.5
QB Matt Ryan: 1.3
QB Drew Brees: 1.3
RB Isaiah Crowell: 3.2
RB Austin Ekeler: 1.9
TE Trey Burton: 1.5
TE Jimmy Graham: 1
DEF Chicago: 1.9
NOTABLE FANDUEL BARGAINS
RB Giovani Bernard: 2
RB Matt Breida: 1
RB Lamar Miller: .83
WR Josh Gordon: 1.6
WR Corey Davis: 1.6
WR Antonio Callaway: 1.1
DEF Los Angeles Chargers: .5