Week 9 DraftKings Breakdown
By: Nick Zylak
This is going to be one of the chalkier cash game weeks we’ve seen on the season. With DT and Tate changing teams we have some low priced value options in nice spots. We also have underpriced options in the Bucs game, and some of the softest pricing I’ve seen in a while.
All of these factors are going to translate into lots of overlap in cash and single entry GPP’s…but will lead to some plays that are far lower owned than they should be in tournaments. I’m going to continue to structure this article the same way I have over the past few weeks, but I’ll add some low owned tournament options at the end.
Keep in mind that I often play one main lineup, therefore most of these plays are the “best plays” assuming you are attempting to construct one optimal lineup. The tournament plays will be less optimal, but carry massive upside for their price.
Top RB Plays
Todd Gurley - $9,500
I feel like I’m going to need to start out this article with Gurley every single week. Last week was a perfect example of the trap you can fall into when rostering Gurley, and why it’s occasionally optimal not to play him, even when he goes off. In week 8 we had 7 elite RB plays, and 6 of them ended up working out. We knew that Conner was a lock, and that we really wanted to play Hunt. That left us essentially with one of Gurley, Mixon, Mack, KJ and Lindsey. Going into Sunday morning I had Lindsey in the FLEX spot…but pivoted to Gurley once the Anthony Miller value opened up. Miller scored a TD and Gurley went off…but it still wasn’t the right play. Jamming in Conner/Hunt/Gurley/Howard/Winston/Steelers left me with thin WR plays, in a week where the value was with cheap RB plays. The best move there would have been to go cheaper at RB’s and to pay up for safety at WR.
So why do I bring this up? Well because sometimes we fall into the trap of jamming in the top plays, even when that position has enough value to get bye. We need to think of our rosters a unit and not individual plays. Every roster decision effects the rest of the roster, so if there is a wealth of value at one position, then paying up for points there usually isn’t a smart move.
So where does that leave us this week?
First lets start with the matchup. It’s brutal. The Rams travel to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome to take on the Saints top ranked run defense. The Saints have allowed an impressive 3.2 YPC and have FootballOutsiders second ranked rush DVOA. The Saints are your typical “pass funnel” in that they have an elite run defense and a not so elite pass defense. They have also been solid at defending receiving backs (something that has secured Gurley’s floor this season…well…that and his 15 TD’s).
There’s also Cooper Kupp. Kupp has missed a few games since going down with a knee injury in week 6. This is most notable in terms of Gurley’s TD expectancy. Kupp has 11 red zone targets and 3 red zone TD’s, even though he’s only played 5 full weeks. This TD expectancy issue is almost fully mitigated due to the current 60 point over under. The Rams are implied to score 28.75 at the moment so there should be plenty of TD’s to go around.
I’m going to need to do the rest of my breakdown before deciding whether or not I’m recommending you play him.
Kareem Hunt - $7,700
Hunt has the exact opposite matchup as Gurley. The Chiefs travel to Cleveland this week as 8 point favorites, implied to score 30 points. The Browns are a funnel defense, but unlike the Saints, they funnel production TO the RB. The Browns are FootballOutsiders top ranked pass defense, but their 27th ranked rush defense. They are certainly not the best pass defense in the league…but they’re just so bad against the run that teams don’t need to pass against them. As a result, they’re bottom 10 in YPC allowed and have given up more rushing TD’s than any other team. Only 2 RB’s have more carries inside the 10 yard-line this season, and just 3 have more carries inside the 5. So he’s a massive favorite, the Chiefs are expected to score around 4 TD’s, he’s heavily involved close to the goal line, and the Browns are the worst team in the league at defending RB’s close to the goal line. Sign. Me. Up.
Alvin Kamara - $7,300
This is purely a pricing play as Kamara is far too cheap. On just a per touch basis this is actually too expensive of a price point. I would expect Chubb to out touch him this week, but as we know, not all touches are created equal. These are the snap and touch count’s by week since Ingram has returned from his suspension:
Ingram: Snaps - 36, 35, 23___touches - 18, 14, 16
Kamara: Snaps - 35, 43, 41___touches - 9, 19, 20
The first thing I want to point out is the week 5 game. Kamara was a bit banged up and they had their bye the following week. They ended up crushing Washington at home, so they were able to rest him and make sure he was fully healthy coming off the bye. We can expect Kamara to be around the 20 touch mark in this game. 20 touches for him likely means 5-7 receptions from the ultra accurate Drew Brees…with red zone work. Kamara is SECOND IN THE LEAGUE with 22 carries inside the 10 and LEADS THE LEAGUE with 20 red zone targets. I fully expect Kamara to find the end zone in a game where the over under likely finishes in the 58-60 range.
Lamar Miller - $5,200
This is the first time I’ve recommended Miller as a play, so I fully expect him to bust this week.
What does Miller have going for him? Well to start no one ever plays him. Even when he’s in a solid spot there is just always a reason not to play Lamar Miller. This week that reason might be all the other great plays, but if I need a guy in this range then Miller is who I've been looking at. He’s quietly posted back to back 100 yard and 1 TD performances and now he gets to face the Broncos in a game I’m genuinely excited to watch. Denver holds the honor of being the leagues 28th ranked rushing defense in terms of DVOA. They’ve also allowed a laughable 5.1 YPC…only behind the Chiefs. Miller has been a bit unlucky with TD’s over the season. He has 10 carries inside the 10 yard line and 4 carries inside the 5, but those carries have only resulted in 2 rushing TD’s on the year. With a 22.5 point implied point total, Miller has a decent shot at a TD this week.
The issue with Miller, and the reason I’d personally prefer to go elsewhere, is the floor. With my main lineup I try and get as high of a floor as possible. Upside is great, and something that for sure needs to be taken into account. But the main concern needs to be a player’s floor. Miller has a floor of 4 points this week. He’s not very involved in the passing game, he’s splitting even early down work with Blue, and he could certainly fail to get into the end zone. I have a good feeling that there will be enough value where I won’t have to go here this week. But If I am left in this range, I’ll be pulling the trigger.
Nick Chubb - $4,500
Speaking of awesome matchups…let me introduce you to Chubb. The Browns have a home tilt against a pathetic Chiefs defense in a game with a 52 point implied total. The Chiefs have allowed a league worst 5.4 YPC, and have proven to be much worse defensive team on the road than at home over the past few seasons. If, and it’s a big if, the Browns can keep this game close…Chubb will be the reason and is going to have a good game. His issue is how dependent he has been on rushing yards and TD’s. He, like Miller, has a scary floor if game script gets away from him. There is also the risk with the changing OC. Whenever play callers change there is elevated risk that they do something different and unexpected. I’m trying to avoid uncertainty in my lineups.
With all of that said, here’s why I want to play Chubb this week. Chubb is really good…and he’s faced a brutal set of defenses to start his career. We all know how amazing he looked whenever he touched the ball early in the season. He was seemingly busting off long TD runs on every snap. Then he gets the starting job and has posted two fairly mediocre weeks in a row. The Bucs and Steelers are both elite run defenses…and yet he’s still posted respectable performances against both. Now he gets a dream matchup against the worst run defense in the league. If the new regime has any sort of intelegence then they will see that Chubb is the only way they can win this game. They need to dominate on the ground, avoid turnovers, and keep the ball out of Mahomes hands.
Just for fun you can see who my algorithm determines Chubb’s most comparable players to be. He’s essentially a mix of David Johnson and Charles Sims. This is a great matchup and a great price point. I might decide to go with three higher end options…but if I don’t…then Chubb will be in my lineup.
Top WR Plays
For the second consecutive week, WR is not jumping out to me this week. There are a ton of good plays, with no one being a must play. As a result, I’ll give the exact same advice. Build the rest of your lineup how you want it to look…and then fill in the WR position. With that being said, the following plays stand out as my favorite so far.
Adam Thielen - $8,900
How much would you be willing to pay for a guaranteed 9/100/1 stat line? Thielen has been the most consistent we’ve seen in recent memory, and has been a cash game staple for over a month now. This week he faces a mediocre Lions defense that will likely have Slay shadow Diggs. The addition of Snacks Harrison should, in theory, lead to more pass attempts for Cousins. Cook is likely to have a very small role, and Lat is fine, but not an above average RB. Expect Thielen to get around 12-14 targets and smash again.
Cooper Kupp - $6,000
The Rams said that if it were a playoff game that Kupp would have been able to play last week. This week he doesn’t carry any sort of injury designation. Hopefully the Q next to his name stays there until Sunday because that always seems to sway people off of great plays. And Kupp is a great play. He’s massively involved in the red zone and gets the best matchup against the absolutely embarrassing P.J. Williams. Williams, and really the entire Saints pass defense has been a complete disaster this season. You can read more about my love for the Rams when we get to Goff, but Goff to Kupp stacks will not be owned as much as they should be. This isn’t a knock on Cook or Woods as they have great matchups as well. But at $6,000 Kupp is just such a good play.
D.J. Moore - $4,300
Week 8’s hair on fire play of the week has turned into week 9’s chalk. What a world we live in. Well, Moore is once again too cheap for his combination of role and matchup. He gets the dream Bucs matchup…made even more appealing with Fitzmagic back under center for the Bucs. This game currently has the third highest over/under on the slate and it’s expected to stay relatively close. The Panthers are implied to score over 30 points, and although TD production is difficult to pin down on the Panthers, Moore has a decent chance of finding the end zone this week. He carries PFF’s 5th best WR/CB matchup and has seen target counts of 4/5/5/6 over the past month. They have actively been trying to get the ball into Moore’s hands recently, so last week might just be the beginning. I’m going to have a very hard time passing on Moore this week.
Courtland Sutton - $3,900
Sutton is another great pay down option at WR this week. I pointed out last week that he was the second best WR on the Broncos, and I will stand by that call. Sutton has been great this season, he’s just been on the wrong side of TD variance. He has 5 consecutive weeks of between 8 and 11 DK points, but he should post his best game of the season this week after the DT trade. I do want to make things clear though. It’s not like the Texans are a smash spot for WR’s. Also Sutton should see more targets, but it’s not like he’s going to be getting double digit looks every week now. His targets have come deeper down the field, and thus, come with more variance. I expect him to see about 6-8 targets in this game, which puts him at about 4-70. If he can find the end zone then he will crush his price. If he doesn’t then I highly doubt he sinks you…but I wouldn’t expect him to win you anything. There is enough value that you don’t have to go here this week. I like the play a lot, since I like the player a lot. But he’s not a lock. Make sure to keep an eye on ownership and experiment with some builds with and without him.
Top QB Plays
Patrick Mahomes - $7,100
These are Mahomes DK game logs this season: 28/42/28/26/21/32/37/30
That includes a game against the Chargers, two against the Broncos, and one against the Jaguars. He is the definition of matchup proof. Most weeks, my issue with paying up for QB is the opportunity cost. Usually you can find a QB with a similar projection to the top guys for $1,000 to $1,500 less. This week I haven’t felt the need to do that. There is so much value at WR and RB that I want to pay up for safety at QB (this has nothing to do to me missing the cash line by 1.5 points with Winston last week). On the surface, his matchup looks difficult against the Browns top ranked DVOA pass defense. But let’s be honest. Mohomes is going to crush per usual.
Jared Goff - $6,000
If Mahomes doesn’t tickle your fancy then how about some Jared Goff. Goff takes on the aforementioned Saints pass funnel defense. With Kupp returning from his knee injury this passing offense is back to full strength. I cannot overstate how much of a smash spot this is for Goff. The Rams are likely to score 3-4 TD’s in this game. The Saints are missing their best pass rusher, and have already been horrible in stopping opponents in the red zone. This game line has dropped 1.5 points from 60 to 58.5 as I’m writing this. I would smash the over at that line. This game sets up very closely to the Chiefs-Pats game we saw a few weeks ago. With the Saints allowing exactly zero individual RB’s to go over 70 yards this season, I expect 300+ yards and multiple TD’s as a floor for Goff…and yet he’s the 6th highest priced QB of the week. It doesn’t get a whole lot easier than this…again…unless you want to play Mahomes.
Cam Newton - $6,600
Newton rounds out the three stud QB’s for week 9. I’ve yet to decide which one I’ll be playing, but my lean right now is to rank them Newton/Goff/Mahomes. The allure with Newton is two fold. First is of course the matchup. The Bucs can’t guard a high school offense at this point so Newton should be able to find open receivers all game. The second part is his rushing floor. He’s been adding 40-50 rushing yards per game on the ground, with 4 rushing TD’s on the season. His upside is higher than anyone else on the slate since he could legitimately throw for 300 and 3 TD’s while adding another 50 yards and a TD on the ground. 40 rushing yards is the equivalent to adding 100 passing yards, so having that as a floor is just so valuable.
The Paradox of Value
Adam Smith was the first to come up this notion in that defining value isn’t as easy as it may seem. The main premise behind this is that objects may carry differing levels of value depending on what the circumstance is. Ted-ex did a fantastic job of explaining this paradox in a short video you can watch here . In short, the value of a diamond and a bottle of water are going to differ depending on what scenario you are in. If you’re on a game show, then the diamonds clearly carry more value. If you’re stranded in the desert, then you would place a higher value on the bottle of water.
So why do I bring this up? Well…we are stranded in the desert at TE this week…and Travis Kelce is a lifetime supply of water. I almost never pay up for TE on my main team. The position experiences so much variance that I don’t want to spend a large portion of my salary on uncertainty (except for week 1 when we knew Gronk was in a smash spot). Kelce could for sure pull an Njoku and crush our dreams this week, but that would be extremely unlikely. His target counts this season are as follows: 6/10/10/12/8/9/5/10. Since week 1 he’s had double digit PPR points in every game and has 18 or more in 5 of 7 weeks. Cleveland has been good against TE’s this season from a production standpoint, but have yielded the second most receptions per game, so part of the lack of production might be due to variance.
Realistically, your only other options are Olsen, Njoku, Howard, Vance, and Rudolph. And they don’t even come at that much of a discount. I’ll be playing Kelce this week and I highly advise you do the same.
After looking into the TE’s a little more I think that you can play Kelce/Howard/Olsen…in that order. I still love Kelce, but Howard is a great play as well if you need the savings.
Hair on Fire Play of the Week
Last week the player we talked about was D.J. Moore…and he was a key piece in the Martavis Bryant fade. This week we have Elijah McGuire.
For any of you who followed my channel over the summer you know that I’m the biggest McGuire fan there is. I believe that he’s by far the best RB on the Jets roster, and is someone that can produce in fantasy regardless of game script. So what makes him a good play this week? Well for starters it looks like he’s going to make his season debut. McGuire has been on IR for the first 8 weeks of the season while recovering from a fractured foot, leaving the backfield duties to a combination of Crowell, Powell and Cannon. With Powell done for the season and Cannon now relegated to a backup role, the backfield will consist of Isaiah Crowell and a stone minimum Elijah McGuire. Crowell’s stats may look decent from a distance, but if you remove his two monster games then his YPC comes out to a pathetic 2.3. He’s also PFF’s 55th ranked receiving back and has been dealing with a foot injury of his own.
Listen…I’m not going to stand here and declare McGuire the second coming of Marshawn Lynch…but my model is going to do that…and it wants you to play a 5% owned stone minimum RB against a Miami defense that, as per Evan Silva, has allowed a soul crushing 6 consecutive 100 yard performances to opposing backfields, on the tune of 143 carries 752 yards and 5 TD’s over the past 5 weeks. Oh and they just lost their best run stopping DT.
If McGuire gets 15 touches in this game then he might very well win someone $1M. And that someone may very well be me (it won’t be).
Cam Newton - $6,600
Drew Brees - $6,100
Fitzmagic - $5,500
Tarik Cohen - $6,200
AP - $6,000
Mark Ingram - $5,000
DeAndre Hopkins - $8,300
Julio Julio - $7,900
Robert Woods - $7,000
Brandin Cooks - $6,700
John Brown - $5,800
Kenny Golladay - $5,500
Marvin Jones Jr. - $5,300
Sammy Watkins - $4,900
Devante Parker - $4,600
Greg Olsen - $4,700
David Njoku - $4,600
O.J. Howard - $4,300
Vance McDonald - $3,700
Kyle Rudolph - $3,600
Benjamin Watson - $3,200
Chiefs - $2,700
Broncos - $2,300
Bears - $4,100
Cowboys - $2,900