Perfect DraftKings Lineup: Defensive and Other Lineup Construction Trends

This five-part series concludes with notable defensive trends as well as some overall lineup construction trends.  While it may not feel or look like it, defense still has a vital role in the league; look no further than Super Bowl 53 when Brian Flores completely shut down Sean McVay’s octane offense.  Defense does win games even in a league that is predicated on offense nowadays as this first trend illustrates.

NO DEFENSE IN THE PERFECT LINEUP LOST ITS GAME

The first two weeks hilariously contained defenses in the perfect lineup that played to ties.  However, coming as no surprise from Week 3 on, the perfect defense won their game straight up.  By predicting who will win games, it can eliminate half of the available pool of defenses to select from.  It’s very rare that the top defense in a week lost its game to the point that it hasn’t happened in fantasy football since Week 4 of 2015 when Detroit amassed 24 fantasy points in a loss to Seattle.

11 OF THE 17 DEFENSES WERE FAVORITES

Like the fans, Vegas is still learning about the 32 teams early on that for as bad as the Bills were offensively in the first half of 2018, they possessed a competent defense that everyone in suicide pools and DFS discovered as 17-point underdogs in Week 3.  Go back to Week 1 in 2017 and Jacksonville made the perfect lineup as six-point underdogs against an awful Tom Savage that ultimately gave DeShaun Watson the starting job.  

Once the first few weeks play out, Vegas has a better pulse on the teams and it shows as no defense heading into their respective perfect game was worse than 3.5-point underdogs.  This trend is an extension of the one listed above and further reduces the pool of suitable options.  It would take balls to start a double-digit underdog as a fantasy defense, the type of balls that less than a percent of people in the Milly Maker had who started the Bills as 17-point dogs.

15 OF THE 17 DEFENSES WERE PRICED NO MORE THAN $3000

Two viable defensive strategies proved effective in 2018.  Rostering the Bears defense each week would have given you nine double-digit fantasy point performances, the most in the NFL.  The other option was rostering the defense against a Cardinals offense that allowed a league-high 10 double-digit fantasy point performances.  Implementing these strategies would be costly as most weeks, the Bears or whoever the Cardinals dueled with were the priciest defenses on the board.

Luckily the best defense on the main slate was over $3000 just twice, demonstrating that paying down at that position can be just as effective as paying up for what are considered to be the top defensive options heading into the week.  Chiacgo and Miami were the top two defenses on the Week 9 main slate with a difference of $1300 in salary and three fantasy points.  That extra salary could find better use in helping to pay up for some top-tiered talent at other positions.  Especially when the top-priced defense was never the perfect defense at any point in 2018.

13 OF THE 17 DEFENSES HELD THEIR OPPONENT UNDER THEIR TEAM TOTAL

In its simplest form, the primary goal of a defense is to keep another team off a scoreboard.  Targeting games with low game totals is one way to go about this process.  Like running back, there is a stronger correlation in utilizing the team totals by rostering defenses against opposing offenses not expected to generate much offense.  The Cardinals were dead last in a variety of offensive categories and metrics last season that it made them a weekly piñata as they only exceeded their team total three times.  

Of course just keeping opponents off the scoreboard won’t be enough to earn a spot in the perfect lineup.  Pitching a shutout nets 10 fantasy points but every defense needed an additional boost to get on the exclusive list.

15 OF THE 17 DEFENSES FORCED MULTIPLE TURNOVERS

Ultimately, the goal of selecting a fantasy defense is identifying the one that has the best chance to hold an opposing offense to as little points as possible while scoring a defensive touchdown.  Forecasting which one will register a pick 6 or special teams touchdown can be as much of a science as meteorologists trying to predict the weather.  Even with the increase in technology and tools, you’d think that they be able to give an accurate report on a daily basis.  Selecting a defense can feel the same way as there have never been more databases and tools for fantasy players to access.  Yet, there are so many variables in 60 minutes of football that determine success and failure for fantasy defenses.  

Let’s not forget the low frequency of defensive/special teams touchdown that occur year after year.  There were 83 occurrences in 2018, an average of 5.18 per week.  Let alone trying to predict who’s going to return a kickoff or punt to the house will be enough to drive one bonkers and is simply not a viable option.

The best course of action in finding a defense that can score a touchdown is selecting ones that best create opportunities to allow that to happen.  12 of the 17 perfect defenses sacked the quarterback at minimum three times, all opportunities that force precious turnovers that increase the opportunity for a defensive score.  In the 15 games in which a defense forced multiple turnovers, nine of them did so in games they scored a defensive touchdown.

Playing on the road, inclement weather, backup quarterbacks, porous offensive lines, and increased wind speeds are just some of the variables that can influence turnovers.  If cognizant of these factors, it can help place you in the best spot to roster the best defense in what can be tough position to project.

OTHER NOTABLE TRENDS

15 OF THE 17 PERFECT LINEUPS FEATURED GAME STACKS

Each main slate featured at least one team stack and that was nearly identical for game stacks as only two of them didn’t feature one.  Of the 21 game stacks that occurred, the most common was an RB+WR which occurred four times followed by an RB+TE and WR+WR stack happening twice.  A variety of other game stacks from WR-WR+WR to QB-RB+WR found their way into the perfect lineup as well as unusual combinations from WR+DEF to RB+DEF.

Stacking as many players from both teams in matchups with low spreads and high game totals is a commonly applied strategy.  Regular season matchups like the Saints-Rams, Chiefs-Rams, and Chiefs-Patriots come to mind though the former two unfortunately weren’t on the main slate.  Like Al Zeidenfeld cleverly professes in these situations, “Play all the dudes.”

Ryan Fitzpatrick and DeSean Jackson formed a stack along with an opposing, underpriced stack of Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara at a Mercedes-Benz Superdome known for some shootouts in Week 1.  The following week saw another shootout where Jesse James and JuJu Smith-Schuster slaughtered a Chiefs defense that hardly played any in 2018 against a Steelers defense that had no answer for the duo of Mahomes and Kelce.  

More often than not, you will have the two or three-player game stacks that frequent the perfect lineup.  The RB+WR variety makes sense in that a running back slaughters a team on his own while the opposing offense utilizes a wide receiver in an effort to play-catch-up; Ezekiel Elliott and Golden Tate in Week 4 are the perfect illustration of this theory.  When the stars align and both offenses are clicking, nothing beats having pieces of both teams in a lineup and watching the DK points accumulate.

THERE WERE ONLY SIX INSTANCES OF BACK-TO-BACK ENTRIES IN THE PERFECT LINEUP

Recency bias plays a factor each and every week in any cash game or tournament.  The competition gets gitty when an Amari Cooper or a Tarik Cohen goes off the week before and then is highly disappointed when these players fail to meet the expectations bestowed upon them from the prior week’s performance.  

Observing from a macro level, taking all of the fantasy positions in 2018 other than the kicker, there were 28 occurrences in which a top-3 performance was duplicated the following week.  This doesn’t include perfect lineup figures but encompasses all of fantasy football players in full-point PPR leagues last season.  Of those 28, just three of them stretched multiple weeks with Todd Gurley posting top-3 performances at his position four weeks in a row along with Drew Brees and Zach Ertz doing so in three-week stretches.  

In terms of frequency, the running back position saw the most with 12 posting top-3 performances in consecutive weeks while the wide receiver had just two in Michael Thomas and Tyreek Hill.  With bell cow backs making up a majority of the 12, this reinforces two ideas that were discussed earlier regarding paying up for the top-tiered running backs and paying down at the wide receiver position with the inconsistency at the top of the fantasy point leaderboard for receivers each week.  

There are some variables that impact the low number of back-to-back top-3 performances in the DraftKings perfect lineup.  First, playing on Thursday, Sunday, or Monday night removes those respective players from eligibility on that week’s main slate.  That number of six back-to-back top-3 performances could certainly be higher if the main slate wasn’t limited to just the Sunday afternoon block of games.  Second, salary increases to those who excel the prior week make it more difficult to insert them the following week and still put together the best possible lineup.  Of those six repeat perfect lineup occurrences, running backs represented four of them (Barkley, Gurley, McCaffery, Mixon) while the wide receiver (Thielen) and tight end (Kelce) made up one each.

This teaches us the importance of when the masses zig in one direction, zag in another one.  Naturally it’s easier to go with what’s comfortable and select the player that had an incredible performance the prior week vs the contrary that didn’t post double-digit fantasy points.  If the same players kept repeating their dominant performances, fantasy football would be so easy and predictable that fantasy football analysts wouldn’t be needed and everyone would be printing money in DFS. Another way to understand recency bias is why pay an additional $600-$1000 in salary for a player that excelled the prior week that more likely than not will come back to earth or fall way short of projections? 

THE AVERAGE COST OF THE FLEX POSITION WAS $4135

8 of the 17 perfect flex spots went to running backs who averaged 22.5 touches at an average cost of $4587.  $203.86 per touch isn’t too shabby for trying to squeeze in a player with the last remaining salary available.  Tarik Cohen made it twice as a flex option while those that were in the fantasy playoffs in redraft leagues may recall Derrick Henry’s two games of dominance, one which landed him as a perfect flex off 34 touches and a steal of a $5000 salary in Week 15.

Double tight ends had its spots as five occurrences featured two tight ends making the cut.  Being that it was the most recent main slate, no one would have expected Blake Jarwin’s three touchdown performance in Week 17.  He paired with George Kittle as Kyle Shanahan did whatever it took to feed Kittle towards a record.

Four wide receivers were perfect flex options with two of them pairing with an opposing receiver to form game stacks.  DeSean Jackson and Michael Thomas both went off in a Bayou shootout that saw the Bucs shock the Saints to open the season.  Kenny Golladay has his way with the Panthers secondary while D.J. Moore did his best to duplicate that performance in Week 11

Back around 2015 when both FanDuel and DraftKings invested heavily in television advertising, DK’s commercial would ask who your million dollar player would be.  That commercial referred to the flex position and that low-rostered player that would be the difference maker.  It came in the form of Jesse James, Calvin Ridley, Maurice Harris, and Blake Jarwin at various points of last season.  That commercial still holds credence to this day as 13 of the 17 main slates had one player, not including the quarterback or defense, that was priced under $4000.  

CONCLUSION

While this series was intended to serve as an aid in roster construction, don’t treat it as gospel as these trends as well as offensive and defensive philosophies are subject to change each season.  The NFL is very much a copycat league as those who were looking for a head coach this offseason were trying to find the next Sean McVay.  By the end of the 2019 season, teams with coaching vacancies could be looking for the next Frank Reich or Brian Flores or whoever is the hot name enjoying success and implement their philosophies.

What we know heading into 2019 is that the NFL has become a passing league with quarterbacks and wide receivers posting record numbers in 2018.  While rushing attempts decreased, running backs experienced great success with their utilization out of the backfield which in effect has taken a toll on the tight end position as illustrated in part four of the series.

We can take this knowledge and gear our first few lineups of 2019 towards these trends.  After the first few weeks play out, we can reassess those trends and adjust our lineup construction philosophies if need be.  Staying flexible is an important attribute to have as some of the trends I described may change when I compose this writing following the 2019 season.  As long as we remain keen to what is transpiring on the field, we can remain prepared to generate the best possible lineups in an effort to build the perfect one.

Perfect DraftKings Lineup Tight End Trends

We continue our five-part series with the fourth installment that analyzes a tight end position that leveled out after a horrendous 2017 season.  As many in redraft and dynasty leagues can attest, finding a reliable tight end was quite the endeavor in 2018 after the position was already a dumpster fire the year before.  In fact, 2015 saw 15 tight ends maintain an average of double-digit fantasy points in PPR scoring but that number has dropped to only 13 of them in 2016 to just eight and nine in 2017 and 2018, respectively.

While overall tight end targets and touchdowns have decreased each season since 2015, overall tight end receptions and yards saw a slight bump in 2018 after experiencing the same decreases as the aforementioned targets and touchdowns.  There were 209 tight end touchdowns in 2015 and since that season, that number hasn’t eclipsed 200.

As we discussed in part two of this series, the running back has been integrated more and more into the passing game over the last few years.  Receiving touchdowns from the running back have increased from 94 in 2016 to 108 and 120 in 2017 and 2018, respectively.  Circa back to 2016 when total running back and tight end receptions were nearly identical with 2,516 of them at running back and 2,484 at tight end.  Since that season, running back receptions are up an average of 242 per year while tight end receptions are down an average of 169.  

This helps explain some of the reasoning why tight end fantasy production has been on the decline.  The running backs are syphoning work from their tight end teammates, especially when some of them are the best offensive asset on their respective teams and deserve additional work.  It also validates taking a top-tier tight end in fantasy drafts as early as the second round when Zach Ertz, Travis Kelce, and George Kittle all led their offenses in receptions and targets.  The drop off after those three is pretty significant and one can only hope Eric Ebron continues what was an unexpected 2018 season and O.J. Howard rebounds from his season-ending foot and ankle injuries.

This first tight end trend should come as no surprise after reading the intro to this article.  While you were able to find bargains that did pay off, there was safety in paying up for the top options that delivered more than they disappointed.  

12 OF THE 22 PERFECT TIGHT ENDS REPRESENTED THE TOP FIVE IN SCORING AT THE POSITION IN 2018 IN FULL POINT PPR FORMATS

The struggle at this frustrating position could also be felt in the DFS community.  For the first half of 2018, rostering Zach Ertz or Travis Kelce yielded excellent returns as they represented the perfect tight end in five of the eight weeks when both were available on the main slate.  These two continued to dominate in the second half but an injury to Jack Doyle opened the door for the usually unreliable Eric Ebron to post his best season at the NFL level which generated two spots on the list.  Kittle had a December to remember as the top tight end in the final month and one that helped make money for those that rostered him in Weeks 14 and 17.

Ertz, Kelce, Kittle, and Ebron combined to make up half of the perfect tight ends with soon-to-be free agent Jared Cook sneaking into the list in Week 4 to complete the 12 occurrences from the top 5 at the position in 2018.  Pending the Week 1 schedule, the former three should represent the priciest options on the first main slate of 2019.

15 OF THE 22 TIGHT ENDS WERE PRICED UNDER $6000

Even the better tight end options had some pricing errors that made them so enticing, they couldn’t be passed up.  Travis Kelce was inexplicably priced under $6000 in Week 2 as he went off for 32.9 DK points.  Eric Ebron wasn’t correctly priced until week 13 as the DFS community took advantage of this low cost with Jack Doyle lost for the year.  George Kittle was slightly discounted at $5500 when he destroyed the Broncos to the tune of 210 yards and a touchdown.

As maddening as the position could be, 15 of the 17 weeks in 2018 featured at least one tight end not named Ertz or Kelce that scored 20+ fantasy points; Weeks 8 and 15 had no one eclipse that mark.  Like the wide receiver, this shows there were some perfect options that didn’t require breaking the bank in order to get to the coveted bell cow backs.  Austin Hooper took advantage of a Buccaneers defense that was extremely inept against the position prior to defensive coordinator Mike Smith being fired at the low cost of $3500.  Kyle Rudolph had dominated at Ford Field to the tune of 17.56 FPPG in his last three at that venue prior to the 2018 matchup that saw him continue that trend with a 36.2 DK point performance.  $3400 was the cost to roster his best performance of the year.

THE AVERAGE NUMBER OF RECEPTIONS PER GAME FOR THE TIGHT ENDS WAS 7.73 

This figure is nearly identical to the average number of catches for the perfect receivers.  The ceiling was 16 catches by Zach Ertz who slaughtered the Texans while Eric Ebron needed three touchdowns off as few as four touches to cement his spot in perfection.  There’s no secret here, paying up means obtaining a solid floor of volume while rolling the dice on a cheaper option can pay off but is certainly a riskier proposition; ask those that rostered Matt LaCosse and Anthony Firkser who both posted goose eggs in favorable matchups in Week 13 and 15 respectively. 

HOUSTON, CLEVELAND, OAKLAND, DENVER, AND MIAMI EACH ALLOWED TWO TIGHT ENDS IN THE PERFECT LINEUP

All five of these teams have been repeat offenders in the top 10 in FPA to tight ends since 2017.  Cleveland’s spot on this list should come as no surprise as they’ve been inside the top 10 in FPA in each of the last three years.  The Browns looked to have remedied their issues in the first eight games but allowed 17.81 FPPG in the second half to the position.  Pending where Jared Cook lands in the offseason and Gronk’s decision to continue to suit up or retire, the Browns tight end schedule eases up in 2019 as they would only face two tight ends inside the top 10 in FPPG in 2018 in George Kittle and Vance McDonald.  

Oakland and Denver fall victim to facing Travis Kelce twice a year which explains part of their heartache.  Still, the Broncos allowed a tight end playing his first game in the NFL in Will Dissly and an aged Antonio Gates to have their best performances of the season while the Raiders let a cornucopia of Ravens and Colts tight ends destroy them.  The Dolphins will benefit from a retired Gronk if that indeed happens but still deal with Zach Ertz and an Indianapolis offense that almost doubled up every team in touchdowns thrown to the position last season.  The Texans have dates with that same Colts offense and Travis Kelce who the Texans have failed to contain in three of four career matchups.

CONCLUSION

When August comes around and you get to the second round of redraft leagues, you will be faced with the decision of taking one of the big three tight ends or playing the crapshoot at the position.  That’s the same scenario DFS players will face weekly in 2019.   

Playing the defensive matchups can work to your advantage as the last trend indicates where paying down is viable.  However, that’s the headache in what can be an unreliable position.  Will you pay up for the consistent Travis Kelce or Zach Ertz, or let it ride on a cheaper option in a favorable matchup?  Hopefully our struggle is alleviated with the emergence of more reliable tight end options as the 2019 season unfolds.

WEEK 8 DRAFTKINGS/FANDUEL SELECTIONS

QUARTERBACK

Patrick Mahomes: vs DEN (DK 7000; FD 9200)

The Chiefs offense averaged 29 points in Alex Smith’s final five games as the Kansas City starter against the Broncos when the Denver defense was worthy of respect.  Imagine what Patrick Mahomes will do this weekend against this defense that clearly isn’t what it used to be.  300+ passing yards and a 3+ touchdown pass performances in five of seven games as well as 20+ fantasy point performances in six of seven; he has lived up to the preseason hype and shows no signs of slowing down in this high-octane offense.  If the Denver defense still causes concern, Mahomes did throw for 300 passing yards against Jacksonville, arguably the toughest defense he will face in 2018.  The question will be, can you afford to pay up and roster him?

Andy Dalton: vs TB (DK 6200; FD 7800)

Baker Mayfield may have struggled last week but Andy Dalton looks to continue how Drew Brees, Mitchell Trubisky, and Matt Ryan have all performed in home games against a terrible Buccaneers defense on the road.  300 yards and 3 passing touchdowns have been the floor for home quarterbacks against the Buccaneers outside of Raymond James Stadium.  The most recent memory of Dalton was an awful performance against a Chiefs defense that has been burnable all year which may lower his ownership in both cash games and GPPs this week.  He’s in a prime position to rebound from that terrible Sunday Night Football performance; start the Red Rifle with confidence.

Matthew Stafford: vs SEA (DK 5600; FD 7300)

Take a look at the quarterbacks that the Seahawks have faced and it makes sense why they’re the “best” fantasy defense against the position.  They’ve faced Dak Prescott before Amari Cooper became a Cowboy, Josh Rosen in his first NFL start, and Derek Carr who has been pitiful in 2018.  Conversely, when playing teams with a serviceable quarterback and good receivers, notice how Seattle has given up 300+ passing yard games to the Broncos and the Rams.  Detroit has one of the best trios of receivers in football and Matthew Stafford should continue to expose Tre Flowers and Shaquill Griffin on the outside with Marvin Jones and Kenny Golladay.  While the rest of the field looks toward Rodgers, Mahomes, and Roethlisberger, this is a good opportunity to differentiate lineups and save some salary in a good spot for Stafford.

RUNNING BACK

Todd Gurley: vs GB (DK 9800; FD 11000)

FanDuel has finally priced Todd Gurley at an appropriate price as he represents nearly 20% of each site’s respective salary cap for those who roster him.  Even touching the ball just 19 times against the 49ers, his lowest amount all season, he still managed to find his way to 28.6 FD/30.6 DK.  Paying up for Gurley nearly guarantees a floor of 19 touches and 22 FD/25 DK points, all great figures against a Green Bay defense that has been more susceptible to running backs away from Lambeau Field.  As if you needed another reason to roster this elite talent, the Packers allow nearly 10 fantasy points more in full PPR scoring to the running back position on the road.

James Conner: vs CLE (DK 7500; FD 8000)

The latest seems to be Le’Veon Bell reporting after the trade deadline passes on October 30th.  For at least week 8, James Conner remains the starting running back against a Browns team that has allowed the second-most rushing touchdowns.  He has filled in admirably in Bell’s absence touching the ball 20+ times in games that Pittsburgh either won or tied this season while averaging 25.77 FD/30.52 DK points in those games.  Vegas loves the Steelers as they are 8.5-point favorites following their bye week against a Browns rush defense that has been exposed by Melvin Gordon and Conner himself back in week 1.  Expect him to play a major role in this game as the Steelers may lean on him heavily before he possibly relinquishes the starting duties back to Bell.

Kareem Hunt: vs DEN (DK 7100; FD 8100)

While Tyreek Hill has been more of a focal point in road games, scoring six touchdowns away from Kansas City, Kareem Hunt has been more the focal point in home games as he has crossed the pylons six times at Arrowhead.  A 10-point favorite in a high-powered Chiefs offense at a reasonable cost; Hunt meets all of the requirements for a solid DFS start.  It should no longer be a secret how bad the Broncos have performed against running backs on the ground as they have allowed the second-most rushing yards in the league.  Not to mention he totaled 175 scrimmage yards against Denver back in week 4 and it puts Hunt in an excellent spot to duplicate that performance and perhaps exceed value on both sites.

David Johnson: vs SF (DK 6700; FD 7300)

Things can only go up from here with offensive coordinator Mike McCoy removed from the equation.  Byron Leftwich has witnessed what David Johnson is capable of as the quarterbacks coach under Bruce Arians before his promotion to offensive coordinator.  If anything, he should make the gameplan as easy as possible for Josh Rosen and heavily rely on his prized running back.  Hopefully that starts against a 49ers defense that’s given up the 7th most FPA to the running back position.  The price is low enough to take a gamble on DJ with a Cardinals team that should be reinvigorated after the OC change and 10 days to prepare for this game.

WIDE RECEIVER

Antonio Brown: vs CLE (DK 8500; FD 8800)

From a real-life perspective, the 9th year receiver is putting together another solid campaign.  From a fantasy perspective, there are those that feel like Antonio Brown is having a down year as he has produced 222 fewer yards than last year through six games.  However, the targets and the touchdowns have been there and this week, he faces a Cleveland secondary that has surrendered the 3rd most FPA to receivers lined up on the left side of the ball and the 7th most FPA to receivers lined up on the right side.  The Browns have been effective in shutting down slot receivers which gives JuJu Smith-Schuster the tougher matchup of the two which further bodes well for Brown to put together another strong outing.

A.J. Green: vs TB (DK 8000; FD 8800)

Tyler Boyd: vs TB (DK 6700; FD 6800)

Starting each team’s #1 wide receiver against Tampa Bay has yielded excellent results this year as they are averaging 23.06 FPPG in PPR scoring.  A.J. Green should carve up this depleted Buccaneers secondary rather easily and he is slightly discounted on DraftKings.  M.J. Stewart will be someone we continuously target each week as Jarvis Landry posted a 20.7 FD/25.7 DK point performance last week under Stewart’s coverage.  Tyler Boyd will greatly benefit opposite the struggling slot corner and provides extra salary relief compared to Green.

Doug Baldwin: at DET (DK 5500; FD 6400)

Amazingly, Tyler Lockett is priced high than Doug Baldwin on FanDuel, even after Baldwin played his best game of the year with a 6/91/0 clip.  A lot of fantasy owners and experts in the industry have soured on him as he has dealt with a knee injury that has lingered since the end of the preseason.  After two weeks of rest since the matchup in London, his knee has had additional time to recover and it sets up well as he lines up against Teez Tabor.  Tabor, a cornerback filling in for the injured James Agnew and one that has struggled in his first two seasons in the league, will have his hands full with Baldwin who lines up in the slot on 70% of his snaps.  Don’t let the FanDuel pricing cause confusion, he is indeed Russell Wilson’s preferred receiver and it should show in this juicy matchup.  

Anthony Miller: vs NYJ (DK 3400; FD 5200)

He saw seven targets which is the most he has seen in a game thus far and played a season-high 63% of the offensive snaps against the Patriots.  It aligns well for Anthony Miller to be a cheap option that can return value with a few catches and a touchdown against a Jets secondary that has been horrendous against slot receivers.  Adam Thielen, Jarvis Landry, and Golden Tate are among a few of the receivers that have feasted on this weakness that has allowed the 3rd most FPA to the slot.  At the time of this writing, Allen Robinson missed Thursday’s practice and if he were to be inactive on Sunday, it puts Miller in an amazing spot to see additional snaps and targets at a bargain bin price.

TIGHT END

Travis Kelce: vs DEN (DK 6800; FD 7300)

The Broncos have been fortunate to play the Jets, Cardinals, and Rams in the last three weeks, all offenses that don’t utilize the tight end as much as the Chiefs.  Travis Kelce shredded Denver in week 4 to the tune of 9/137/1 and is certainly worthy of being the highest-priced tight end on the main slate.  To pay up for him means paying down elsewhere but the Denver defense hasn’t improved from their struggles last year against tight ends.  Kelce should certainly prove this for the second time this year.

David Njoku: at PIT (DK 4600; FD 5700) 

5.5 catches for 57 yards and .5 touchdowns off 8.75 targets; this is what David Njoku has averaged since Baker Mayfield assumed the starting duties back in week 4.   The connection was notable in the preseason and it has blossomed into a reliable weapon for Mayfield.  The Steelers allow the second most targets to tight ends and hemorrhage yardage to the position.  Njoku is right at that point where he will be considered expensive with another solid outing.  While he’s fairly priced on FanDuel, if all goes according to plan, he will be above $5000 and $6000 on each respective site next week against the Chiefs.

O.J. Howard: at CIN (DK 3900; FD 5800)

Jameis Winston has been known to favor the tight end position and that hasn’t changed in the two games since returning from suspension.  O.J. Howard has been the main beneficiary as he has seen 13 targets compared to Cameron Brate’s five and played 60% of the snaps vs Brate’s 38%.  Up next for Howard is a date with a Bengals defense that allows the most targets to tight ends and surrenders the 4th most FPA to the position in PPR scoring.  He’s priced generously on DraftKings and is a solid option to find the end zone and return value as the Bengals have given up four touchdowns to tight ends.

DEFENSE

Chicago: vs NYJ (DK 4100; FD 5000)

Fantasy defenses against the Jets have forced multiple turnovers in all but one game and have scored double digit fantasy points in four of seven games.  Tom Brady has carved up many of the best defenses in his career; don’t let that deter you from starting the best defense on the main slate this week.

Kansas City: vs DEN (DK 2600; FD 3900)

For as bad as the Kansas City defense has performed on the road, giving up 33.25 points per game while averaging 3.25 fantasy points, it’s been much better at Arrowhead, giving up just 17 points per game while averaging 13.33 fantasy points.  While the Broncos have yet to lose a fumble, Case Keenum has been prone to the pick, having thrown at least one in every game thus far.  The Chiefs have won the last six games against their divisional foe giving up an average of 19.33 points.  There’s plenty of defenses in the $2600 and below category on DraftKings this week; this is surprisingly one of the better options.

Pittsburgh: vs CLE (DK 2300; FD 3800)

The Browns are averaging two turnovers a game since Baker Mayfield took over as starting quarterback while the Steelers force 1.33 turnovers per game along with getting to the quarterback 3.5 times.  Pittsburgh comes off a bye and certainly comes into this game angry from an unprecedented tie back in week 1.  

PRICE SHOPPING

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 8 bargains from both sites:

NOTABLE DRAFTKINGS BARGAINS

QB Jared Goff: 2.16

QB Aaron Rodgers: 1.73

WR Anthony Miller: 1.86 

TE O.J. Howard: 1.86

TE Jimmy Graham: 1.26

NOTABLE FANDUEL BARGAINS

RB James Connor: 1.67

RB Joe Mixon: 1.6

RB David Johnson: 1.24

WR Tyreek Hill: 4.2

WR Jarvis Landry: 3.24

WR Mike Evans: 2.6

WR Tyler Boyd: 2.07