The Week 4 DFS Blue Book
Welcome to the Week 4 DFS Blue Book; your weekly buyer’s guide as a GM in the DFS industry. Each week we will highlight players or match ups that could pay off big based on price, projections, historical performances, and other factors that you need to know about to build a winning roster. Here’s who we’ve highlighted for Week 4 of the 2016 season.
Cam Newton | QB | GPP
Thus far this season, the Carolina Panthers seem to have a bit of a Super Bowl hangover. At 1-2, the Panthers face a borderline must-win game at the Atlanta Falcons. Through Newton’s first three games of his 2015 MVP season, Cam had thrown for 685 yards, 5 touchdowns, and rushed for 144 yards with 2 touchdowns. There is a perception that because the Panthers are struggling, Cam Newton isn’t having a great season. That is wrong. In fact, he has thrown for 809 yards this season with 5 touchdowns and has run for 117 yards with 2 rushing touchdowns. Through 3 games in 2015, Cam had 72 fantasy points (FPs) and this season he has 71 FPs. He has also played against the top 2 defenses in the NFL. Expect Newton to put up huge numbers in this must-win game against a weak defense.
Matthew Stafford | Cash | Cash
Matthew Stafford loves himself some Cooter, Jim Bob Cooter, that is. Since JBC took over as offensive coordinator Stafford has put up amazing numbers. In the 12 games that Stafford has played with JBC calling the plays, he averages 282.5 yards per game with 2.25 touchdowns and merely .5 interceptions. That is an average of roughly 20 FPs per game. With a plus matchup against a beaten up Chicago defense, we expect him to eclipse cash game value.
Ben Roethlisberger | QB | GPP
Over the last two years (2014 & 2015) Ben Roethlisberger has had some great stark home/road splits. In 2014, Roethlisberger threw for 2,174 yards, 9 touchdowns and 5 interceptions on the road. In 2015, his road numbers were even worse. Big Ben had 1,850 yards with 5 touchdowns and 9 interceptions. In comparison, his 2014 home numbers were incredible, throwing for 2,778 yards, 23 touchdowns, and 4 interceptions. 2015 had the same kind of split, with Roethlisberger throwing for 2,008 yards, 16 touchdowns, and 7 interceptions. This week, Big Ben returns home after a rough road outing in Philadelphia. Couple his poor performance with Kansas City’s lights out performance against the New York Jets and this is a great spot to get Roethlisberger under-owned and at home. He definitely has 4 touchdown upside whenever he plays at Heinz Field and the return of Leveon Bell will only help the offense.
Philip Rivers | QB | Cash
At this point, any offensive player can be used in cash against the New Orleans Saints. Maybe there is a touch of hyperbole there but the Saints are a funnel defense. Not in the sense that they funnel the run or the pass, they are a black hole that is not good at a single aspect of defense. Philip Rivers will take the field on Sunday having yet to throw an interception this season and don’t expect that to change. With 5 touchdowns and an adjusted completion percentage (aC%) of 78.9 percent, we are witnessing Rivers elevate those around him by being ultra-efficient. Load Rivers up in cash, or stack him with multiple members of the Chargers offense in a GPP, you can’t go wrong with him this week.
Kirk Cousins | QB | GPP
Kirk Cousins is another QB that has significantly better success at home than on the road. Last season, Cousins was historically good at home. He threw for 2,170 yards, 16 touchdowns, 2 interceptions, an aC% of 82.3 percent, and ran for 4 touchdowns. That is an incredible stat line but one that hasn’t translated to success this season. So far, Cousins has not been performing at that high level but the Cleveland Browns are a quick fix for any offense. Play Cousins in a stack with some of his receiving threats this weekend.
Trevor Siemian | QB | Cash
We would be on Trevor Siemian regardless of his success last weekend against the Cincinnati Bengals. This is because Siemian has a home game against the hapless Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense. The CBs for the Bucs have continually struggled this season which can’t be illustrated any better than Case Keenum throwing for 190 and 2 touchdowns against them. This week, Siemian get that same Bucs defense. At Siemian’s price point, he only needs 16.2 FPs to reach value on DraftKings which would mean a modest stat line of 200 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 20 yards rushing would hit cash value.
David Johnson | RB | Cash
Through 3 weeks of the season, David Johnson is RB2 in GPP FPs. He’s done it on the ground (leads all RBs with 50% of their team snaps in Yards After Contact with 3.4 yards), and through the air (3rd in receiving yards, 2nd in Average Depth of Target or aDOT). Johnson is the most complete back in football. This week, Johnson and the Arizona Cardinals take on the Los Angeles Rams in a must-win for the Cardinals. This is a great matchup for Johnson, the Rams just gave up 24 PPR FPs to Charles Sims who is another back that catches and runs well. Johnson is going to eclipse the hundred-yard mark; the only question is will he do it on the ground or through the air. Build your cash game around him and find out which poison the Rams will pick.
CJ Anderson | RB | GPP
CJ Anderson has had back-to-back underwhelming games. His QB is coming off a career game. That makes Anderson a great GPP play. We still expect his ownership to moderately high but the use of Siemian will drive some people away from Anderson. The game flow looks like it will set up perfectly for Anderson, too, with the Broncos being a road favorite. Anderson should see significant careers in the second half and has 2 touchdown upside against the Bucs.
Ezekiel Elliot | RB | GPP
Raise your hand if you saw Ezekiel Elliot’s breakout game coming last week. Raises hand modestly. That was such a great performance by Zeke last week which was marred by Jason Garrett’s insistence on vulturing Elliot’s touchdowns. This week, he gets the same 49ers defense that just gave up a career performance to Christine Michael. Elliot and the Cowboys offense will see some extra snaps this week due to the 49ers fast-paced offense which makes Elliot one of our favorite plays once again.
Melvin Gordon | RB | Cash
I already went in on the New Orleans Saints defense. I don’t want to beat a dead horse but Melvin Gordon is an obvious cash game play. Last week, Gordon was in for 87 percent of the Chargers offensive snaps. That was good for 2nd among all RBs in terms of snap percentage. With Gordon being the bell cow RB of an offense that is running against the Saints, the sky is the limit. Just last week, the Saints gave up the RB1 and RB2 performances of the week. Yes, Devonta Freeman scored 32 FPs and Tevin Coleman scored 31 FPs. Do I think that the Saints will give up 63 FPs to Gordon? No. But we just witnessed that anything is possible when your RB plays the Saints.
Christine Michael | RB | GPP
Finally. Finally. Finally. Christine Michael has given C-Mike truthers the game that they knew he had in him. With the news of Thomas Rawls being out and Russell Wilson perhaps being unable to go, C-Mike may be the focal point of the offense this weekend. The only problem is he has to be the focal point of the offense against one of the best front-7s in the NFL. We certainly like his ability and his opportunity this week but the matchup is bad. This makes C-Mike a GPP only play for us. If Russell Wilson is able to go and take some pressure off of the run game, we would actually bump Michael in our rankings.
Isaiah Crowell | RB | GPP
Through three games Isaiah Crowell is 3rd in the NFL in rushing yards. He seems to have taken to Hue Jackson’s scheme and although the Browns are a bad team, they did seem to have a lot of fight in them against the Dolphins. The Week 3 game against the Dolphins fell right in line with Week 2 in terms of the snap percentage being almost equal between the Crow and Duke Johnson. This week, I think the Browns may try and shorten the game against the Washington Football Team and that clearly helps Crowell. Thus far in 2016 Crowell is 5th out of all RBs in Points Per Snap (PPS) which indicates how efficient he has been. If the Browns can keep it close this weekend, Crowell will have many opportunities to exploit a suspect Washington run defense.
Carlos Hyde | RB | Cash
Carlos Hyde has had a nice season so far. One of the main factors behind his stats is Chip Kelly’s insistence on establishing the run, even when they are behind. Hyde, who plays about 70% of the offensive snaps has benefitted from Kelly’s coaching style. Hyde’s volume will make him a cash game staple moving forward until his prices rises across the industry. Until then Hyde remains a solid play because he is involved regardless of game script.
These two players are grouped together because they are both rookies with very little statistical data to write about. Howard was very productive in college and Washington is an athletic freak. They both have looked solid on tape, have graded well on PFF, and touchdown upside this week. They can be a valuable source of salary relief should you want to go with the unknown. Just remember it is risky getting in on the ground floor but that kind of speculative investment can also be the most profitable.
Antonio Brown | WR | Cash
In Week 3, Antonio Brown saw a whopping 17 targets. He, in turn, had a great day receiving with 12 catches for 140 yards. This week, Brown will run into one of the premier, playmaking CBs in the NFL, Marcus Peters. The thing about Marcus Peters is, while he leads the NFL in interceptions for a second straight year, he also gives up some big plays. We expect Antonio Brown to see plenty of targets in this game and has 10+ catch ability to go along with yardage bonuses, and touchdown upside. Even with Brown’s high cash game threshold, we believe that he has a great chance to exceed value this week for the Week 4 Blue Book.
DeAndre Hopkins | WR | Cash
Last week, Allen Robinson’s breakout game was palpable. Everyone could see it coming. This week, DeAndre Hopkins is going to have a great performance. In Week 3, there were some positive signs pointing towards a Nuk breakout. First, he had several of his signature highlight reel catches along the sidelines. Second, while he wasn’t overly successful, he did perform well against one of the NFL’s best CBs, Logan Ryan. The week prior, he was shadowed by the aforementioned Marcus Peters. This week, Nuk gets a Titans team who does not have a Marcus Peters or Logan Ryan. Instead, they have Jason McCourty and Perrish Cox, both of whom are below average CBs. With double-digit targets on the horizon and a talent advantage over his opposition, we think Nuk Hopkins is a very safe cash game play.
AJ Green | WR | Cash
It seems like forever ago since AJ Green had his brilliant outing against Darrelle Revis in the opening week. Since then Green has had two pedestrian outings. You know what is a remedy for that? Brandon Browner. This Thursday night AJ Green, a top-5 WR talent, will be shadowed by Browner. Just last week, Terrelle Pryor was able to abuse Browner. This week is one of those rare weeks that we believe there is a cash game worthy player on Thursday night.
Allen Robinson and T.Y. Hilton | WR | GPP
These two have been coupled together because they will face off at Wembley Stadium in London, England. The transatlantic flight, 9:30 am EST game, and different type of crowd all add a fair amount of randomness to the predictability of the game. That said, they both have plus matchups against the opposing secondary. Sure, Vontae Davis and Jalen Ramsey aren’t slouches but this game has an over/under of 50 and these two WRs will likely be involved in the scoring.
Marvin Jones | WR | Cash
Last week, we told you to play Marvin Jones and we hope you listened. It is always nice being on board for a player’s coming out party. It’s almost like owning a stock before it explodes. In Week 4, Marvin Jones looks to continue his hot start against the Chicago Bears. Neither Tracy Porter nor Jacoby Glenn stacks up very well against Jones, the current WR1 in PPR formats. We expect Jones to continue his streak of big plays which makes him a cash game staple.
Demaryius Thomas | WR | GPP
What is most attractive about Demaryius Thomas this week is Emmanuel Sanders’ game last week. This is going to push lots of ownership towards Sanders but a deeper look at the stats show that Thomas is still the Denver WR to target. Sanders has been targeted 10 more times than Thomas but only has 2 more catches. This isn’t from Sanders being a deep threat and Thomas catching screen passes either. In fact, Thomas has the higher aDOT at 9.5 yards in comparison to Sanders’ 8.7 yards. Admittedly, this is a small sample size but so far this season Sanders has been volume dependent whereas Thomas has been steady (maybe even under-utilized.)
These two have been coupled together because one or both needs to be in your cash game lineups if you fade Melvin Gordon. Gordon is our top target for the game because we feel game flow will favor him but it is hard to overlook the value that there still is with Travis Benjamin and Tyrell Williams. In the last two weeks, Benjamin and Williams have combined for 69 FPs (Nice!) and still have very moderate salaries. We expect both to hit cash game value this week.
Stefon Diggs | WR | GPP
Stefon Diggs had the hot start to his season interrupted by a game script that included lots of targets to Kyle Rudolph and strong defensive effort by the Minnesota Vikings. In his Week 3 game, Diggs was only targeted 7 times but he was still on the field for 89 percent of the snaps. This week should be more similar to his Weeks 1 and 2 outputs. Diggs has proven himself to be an elite route-runner with an incredible knack for separating from defenders. We expect Diggs to shine brightly on Monday night and put up big numbers.
Terrelle Pryor | WR | Cash
Week 3 was Terrelle Pryor’s coming out party as a WR which ironically involved him playing QB. Not since the great Frank Gifford had a player caught, rushed, and threw for as many yards as Pryor did last week. Granted some of it was aided by Brandon Browner shadowing him but some of Pryor’s success is duplicable. His 12 targets should be about what he sees each week until both Josh Gordon and Corey Coleman are back. Pryor is also seeing 92 percent of the snaps for Cleveland on offense. That is a huge amount of responsibility for a low priced player with the possibility of garbage time production.
Jamison Crowder | WR | GPP
Jamison Crowder has become one of the rare instances where a slot WR becomes a red zone target in the Washington offense. He has translated that into 16 catches for 175 yards and 2 touchdowns, making Crowder the best WR on Washington. This week, Crowder takes on the Browns and Tramon Williams a week after they were abused by Jarvis Landry from the slot. We think Crowder has the floor to be a cash game target but really like his potential to hit 4x value in GPPs.
Michael Thomas | WR | GPP
Michael Thomas had a really nice game on Monday night and we are looking for him to continue that upward trend in Week 4. Thus far in 2016, Thomas leads the Saints in receptions and has been a part of 77 percent of the New Orleans Saints offensive snaps. What would make Thomas a really valuable GPP play would be if Willie Snead does play. This would drive down ownership levels on Thomas but would not change his role on the team. Regardless of Snead or Brandin Cooks’ roles, Thomas is going to be the big-bodied WR target moving forward which is why he is in the Week 4 Blue Book.
Cole Beasley | WR | Cash
If I told you in early September that Cole Beasley would lead the Dallas Cowboys in targets what would you have thought? I’m guessing that you would have thought their season was already over because everyone else was dead. But that’s not the case, the Beas has actually been performing brilliantly. He’s carved a niche out for himself in this Dak Prescott led offense by running drag route after drag route to the tune of 20 catches for 213 yards. His aDOT isn’t even a short as you would expect as it’s a moderate 7.7 yards downfield. With the Niners quick pace, we really like Beasley as a volume based source of salary relief.
Rob Gronkowski | TE | GPP
Rob Gronkowski will be playing his hometown Bills this weekend. In his last four games against the Bills, Gronk has 20 catches for 315 yards and 2 touchdowns. Take into account that one of the games he barely played due to it being Week 17 and Timothy Wright vulture 2 touchdowns from him in 2014, and you have Gronk the Bills Killer. Vegas currently has this game as a pick’em but is able to play an increased number of snaps, the Bills will be in trouble.
Jordan Reed | TE | GPP
Do you know who is second in the NFL in TE targets behind Greg Olsen? That’s right, its Jordan Reed. The breakout star from 2015 has been quiet thus far in 2016 but that is merely a function of him not scoring touchdowns yet. The keyword there is yet. This week, we expect Reed to regress towards the mean and get into the end zone. Reed has the highest upside of any TE in Week 4 and stacking him with Kirk Cousins is a possible Millionaire Match. Listen to The Owner’s Box to find out!
Greg Olsen | TE | Cash
As I just mentioned, Greg Olsen has been the most targeted TE in the NFL this year. In Week 4, Olsen gets a team that drafted Keanu Neal and Deion Jones because of their woes against TEs in 2015, only to give up 7 catches for over 100 yards to Coby Fleener. This week, Olsen makes for a safe cash game play at TE while providing GPP upside.
Jimmy Graham | TE | Cash
Jimmy Graham as a cash game play is contingent on Russell Wilson’s health. Should Wilson play, you have to like Graham’s chances of returning cash game value. In Week 1, Graham had owner’s panicking by only playing 21 percent of snaps but in Weeks 2 and 3 he has averaged a snap percentage in the 70s. In Week 3, he was able to parlay that into a Top-3 TE fantasy performance. With the struggles at OL and a potentially hobbled Wilson, look for them to try and get the ball out of his hand quickly and into the hands of playmakers like Graham. If Wilson can’t go, Graham would become a GPP play for us. Even with Trevone Boykin at QB, we think Graham has the ability to produce 4-5xs value for the Week 4 Blue Book.
Zach Miller | TE | GPP
Zach Miller was the TE1 in Week 3. He did this by being targeted 9 times in the game which is the exact number of targets Miller had accrued in his previous 2 games. This has created a narrative that Miller has a better rapport with Brian Hoyer than Jay Cutler. We aren’t so sure about that one and think that Miller is a viable play regardless of QB. Some other plays at this price level are Cameron Brate and Hunter Henry.
Arizona Cardinals | DST | Cash
The Cardinals were embarrassed last week by the Buffalo Bills. We aren’t going to take that into consideration this week because of two factors: the Cardinals offense let the defense down with turnovers and no sustained 1st half drives and the Cardinals traveled east for a 1 pm game. This week, the Cardinals are going to come out hungry. Defensive touchdowns or even a shutout are definitely in the range of outcomes this weekend.
Houston Texans | DST | Cash
The Texans are a nice mid-range option at DST this week. They are a significant home favorite against the Titans which makes the Texans our favorite DST. Thus far in his career, Marcus Mariota has proven that the underreported fumbling issues that he had in Oregon have followed him into the pros. Look for Jadeveon Clowney and Whitney Mercilus to really try and swipe at the ball as they pressure Mariota.
San Diego Chargers | DST | GPP
This is kind of out there because the Chargers haven’t been #good at defense in some time. But what they are is a cheap defense that is a home favorite. This makes the Chargers an interesting GPP play. Hypothetically speaking, let’s say the rash of turnovers and defensive TDs stop this week and you play the minimally priced Chargers. You won’t be unbelievably far away from the DST1 in terms of raw points but you will be thousands away from them in salary allocated to the DST position. With so many star players having good matchups, punting DST might be a strategy to use this weekend.