- It always helps to take in the full fantasy football scene before starting to build your DFS lineups. These five facts will give you the foundation you need for sound roster construction.
With the unfortunate news of Deshaun Watson’s torn ACL, this week’s slate is no longer as simple as “jam in all the Texans.” Here are five things you need to know before locking in your DFS lineups for Week 9.
1. The New Orleans Saints and their opponents average 19.8 more combined points per game when the Saints play at home
The Saints and their opponents have combined to average 59.3 points per game in the three games in the Superdome this season, but just 39.5 points per game in the four they’ve played outside New Orleans. This bodes well for fantasy production all around—the game’s 51.5-point over/under as of this writing suggests as much. What it does not bode well for is the prospects of a Buccaneers defense that is already allowing the second-most schedule-adjusted fantasy points to offenses as a whole. To make matters worse, the Bucs will likely be without their top cornerback, Brent Grimes, who is still nursing a shoulder injury. Feel confident firing up your Saints stacks in tournaments this week.
2. Devin Funchess led the Carolina Panthers in market share of air yards, even with Kelvin Benjamin there
For fantasy and DFS purposes, not all targets are created equal—the deeper downfield a wide receiver gets targeted, the higher his fantasy-point expectation becomes. With Benjamin traded to the Buffalo Bills, Funchess will assume his more natural position as the team’s Z receiver and become a true go-to pass-catcher for Cam Newton. And with Carolina now able to get the speedy Curtis Samuel on the field to stretch defenses in place of the lumbering Benjamin, Funchess might actually have to deal with less defensive attention than he did before. Both this week and going forward, the 6-foot-4, 230-pound Funchess is a good bet for a touchdown, as Benjamin’s departure opens up another 22% of the team’s red zone targets, a portion of which should go to Funchess, on top of the 22% he was already getting. Since Week 3, Funchess has been targeted fewer than eight times only once, and he has an unimposing matchup this week against a Falcons defense ranked 16th in schedule-adjusted fantasy points allowed to wide receivers. Because the Benjamin trade occurred in the middle of the week after DFS salaries had already come out, Funchess is underpriced across the industry.
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3. Jack Doyle averages just 0.1 fewer targets per game than league-leading tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Zach Ertz
Doyle has been a bright spot in what’s been an otherwise luckless season for the Colts—literally. Though the team’s franchise quarterback won’t be on the field this season, backup Jacoby Brissett has taken to targeting Doyle, and the tight end’s target share, already at an impressive 7.9 per game, is trending upward of late. Doyle has drawn 11 or more looks from Brissett in two of his past three games. Among conventional box score stats, targets per game is the most predictive indicator of future fantasy production at the tight end position. Against a depleted Texans defense ranked 20th in schedule-adjusted fantasy points allowed to tight ends, Doyle is the best dollar-for-dollar tight end play on the slate.
4. The Denver Broncos rank 28th in schedule-adjusted fantasy points allowed to tight ends
Denver’s reputation for having an elite defense is mostly well deserved, but fantasy points are scored in every game. Against the Broncos, they’re disproportionately scored by tight ends. In terms of schedule-adjusted fantasy points allowed, Denver ranks first against running backs, fourth against wide receivers, and against versus quarterbacks, with the 28th-place ranking against tight ends the only kink in their armor. This funneling effect is due to extremely high-level play from their cornerbacks, namely Aqib Talib and Chris Harris. This week they’re not facing just any tight end, but Zach Ertz, who has displayed remarkable consistency this season at a position normally fraught with volatility. Ertz has scored double-digit fantasy points in every game this season—even in scoring formats like FanDuel’s, which awards only half a point per reception. Expect the emerging Carson Wentz to lean on his favorite target yet again this week. Paying up for him could get you the unique roster construction you need to differentiate your lineup from the pack in tournaments.
5. Aaron Jones has out-snapped Ty Montgomery, 77% to 22%, since taking over as the Green Bay Packers’ starting running back
If you didn’t already know, the two-game primetime slates can be a lot of fun, and this week you’re going to want to get Jones in your lineups on that slate. Jones has wrested the starting job away from Montgomery by averaging a stellar 5.58 yards per carry, while Montgomery is stuck on 3.10. In Brett Hundley’s first start last week, the team leaned on Jones, feeding him 20 touches on 80% of the snaps. Montgomery managed only five touches on 13% of the snaps. Jones also ranks third on the team with a 15% share of Hundley’s targets, which is notable because Montgomery was thought to have the better receiving chops. Expect the Packers to feature Jones again in Lambeau on Monday night against a Lions defense ranked a middling 16th in schedule-adjusted fantasy points allowed to running backs.