Welcome to the Daily Fantasy Roundup where we'll cover every inch of what you need to set a great FanDuel lineup every week. If you've been following this column all year, you should be absolutely pumped for Week 10.
We're now in the portion of the season where the good players rise to the top. We have a strong foundation of process, and finally own a concrete understanding of what these teams are. We know how many snaps most players will get, and we don't have to guess on who will get the most targets. Quality of opponent is easier to predict now, as defensive efficiency numbers and metrics are much more solid with at least five games worth of data on all these teams. The NFL is always unpredictable, and football DFS carries such high-variance with the season being so short, but the ground we stand on is growing ever more firm.
With that being said, there are a number of plays, DFS theory concepts and matchups I'm excited to exploit this week. Let's get after it.
All ownership percentage numbers come via Footballguys' Justin Bonnema. Follow him for more great DFS information.
Top quarterback plays
Aaron Rodgers - It'd be an even better play if Rodgers hadn't saved his fantasy day in the last few drives of the Carolina game, but he was still just the sixth-highest played quarterback on the FanDuel Thursday slate. After dropping back-to-back games against the NFL's top defenses, this home tilt with Lions is Green Bay's get right game. Detroit gives up the highest completion rate in the NFL, which should help make this an efficient outing for Rodgers.
Kirk Cousins - Everyone's favorite value quarterback this week, the apeall around Cousins is obvious. New Orleans has sniffed the bottom of nearly every tangible defensive stat ranking this season, and they're getting worse as time goes on. They rank 31st in yards allowed per completion, 32nd in touchdown rate allowed and fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks per pass attempt. Additionally, Washington welcomes the Saints into their building this week. This season, Cousins is a far superior quarterback in the friendly confines of FedExField, scoring 9.05 more fantasy points at home than on the road. Cousins was only 7.0 percent owned on the Thursday slate, but it's likely that number goes up as the week goes on for the Sunday contests.
Top running back plays
DeAngelo Williams - He averages 25 touches in his three starts this year, and Williams is playing some of the best football of his career. Only Dion Lewis and Lamar Miller average more points per touch among starting running backs. No team has more rush attempts against them than Cleveland, and they allow the third-highest yards per touch to running backs. Hot knife, meet butter.
Mark Ingram - The Saints starting running back was a heavy play last week, that didn't reach his ceiling. The touchdowns and fantasy points weren't there, but the project workload came through with Ingram handling 26 touches. Washington was a defense at season's onset that we approached with caution for our running backs, and they're still currently ranked 15th in points allowed per touch. However, that trend is on the downturn, with the last four running backs to face Washington going for 153-1, 146-1, 136-0, 129-1. With his usage, and Washington's spiraling run defense, Ingram is back near must-play territory, especially with recency bias taking the public off him.
Darren McFadden - In Week 9, the only running back to see 100 percent of his team's touches was Darren McFadden. It's just hard to say no to that kind of volume, especially when he's playing well behind a Dallas offensive line finally living up to its billing. Tampa Bay ranks seventh in Football Outsiders stuff rate, and scores well in other fantasy efficiency metrics, but their lighter personnel could struggle to get through the bigger Dallas line. He's just too much of a value relative to his workload to pass up.
Doug Martin - After a dominant run just a few weeks ago, Martin's last two games were rather quiet. He did not top 80 rushing yards, and struggled to get going with Jameis Winston and Mike Evans as the focal points of the offense. However, Dallas' front seven started to leak the last few games, and ranks 30th in points allowed per touch. With his value dropping in concert with slower games, Martin is a strong candidate for a bounce back this week.
Giovani Bernard - The Texans have some trouble with receiving backs, allowing the second-highest touchdown rate to pass-catching running backs. Their run defense in general isn't great, allowing 4.43 yards per carry and ranking 27th in points allowed per touch. The Texans could sneakily give the Bengals a good fight on Monday night, leading to a pass-heavy game script. That brings Gio into play as a value, especially given he's listed behind the always more highly discussed Jeremy Hill.
Top wide receiver plays
Dez Bryant - Not only does he have a great matchup, but Bryant was the lowest owned (3.7 percent) of the elite tier of receivers on the Thursday slate. Perhaps there's some concern over Bryant missing practice this week, but all indications are he will play. A Matt Cassel/Bryant stack makes for an interesting combination.
Demaryius Thomas - Narrative Street alert. For the first time in his entire life, Demaryius Thomas will play football with his mother watching live after her release from a halfway house. In a tremendous story worth your time to research, Thomas credits his mom with much of his athletic journey being realized. If the narrative doesn't sell you, perhaps Thomas' out of whack 1.1 touchdown rate reversing will. Manning is well-known for getting receivers involved after a quiet stretch and it could be Thomas' turn. Emmanuel Sanders is a game-time decision, and Thomas could dominate the target share as a result.
Randall Cobb - If the Packers are going to beat the Lions through the air, much of it will come through Randall Cobb. He started to bounce back last week, despite only four catches. For the second week in a row, he should be in position to face the opposition's worst cornerback. The Lions are playing a late-round rookie as their slot defender right now, and the entire defense struggles to stop receivers from gaining yards after the catch.
Top tight end plays
Jordan Reed - We wish Reed's ownership (16.8 percent on the Thursday slate) was a bit lower, but if Cousins is going to take advantage of this great matchup, it will be through Reed. New Orleans allows the most yards per game (80.6) to the tight end position, and cedes a 9.7 touchdown rate.
Zach Ertz - This is a mere punt play to provide some relief with so many intriguing high and mid-tier quarterbacks, receivers and running backs in good spots this week. It's also a play on touchdown regression, as Ertz's complete lack of end zone trips on 48 passing targets is pretty unsustainable, especially considering he plays 73 percent of the snaps.
Top defense plays
Eagles DEF - With everyone looking for a new way to fire Chip Kelly every week, not many mainstream analysts point out how well the Eagles rebuilt defense is playing. The Dolphins offense has been an up-and-down affair since Dan Campbell took over. Philadelphia's DEF is the highest upside play of the week, and easy to pair with their running back.
Stack of the week
Blake Bortles/Allen Robinson - There aren't many good reasons to turn away from a top-10 fantasy quarterback and top-10 fantasy receiver playing in a tremendous matchup. The fact that both Bortles and Robinson are still values relative to their season-to-date performances just makes this an even better pick. Baltimore's secondary ranks 30th in points allowed per pass attempt, and dead last in wide receiver points per target. With an inconsistent pass rush, and all their cornerbacks underperforming, they bleed yards to wideouts. Their touchdown rate of 7.7 is also the third-worst in the league, while Robinson scores on 7.5 percent of his targets. The aforementioned wideout did solid work on his route against Darrelle Revis and the other Jets cover corners last week, and is an every-week fantasy stud. With Allen Hurns potentially out, Robinson could push for 15-plus targets. The Baltimore vs. Jacksonville game has the makings of a surprising shootout, so you want fantasy assets from both side of this game. You should start that endeavor and anchor most of your lineups with the Bortles/Robinson stack.
Best contrarian play
John Brown - After "burning" sensitive fantasy owners with an active tag but zero-snap game the week before his bye, the public is almost completely off John Brown. He was merely 0.8 percent owned on the Thursday slate. The matchup with Seattle likely compounds the desire to pivot off him, but reports hold that Richard Sherman, who does more shadowing than ever this year, may trail Larry Fitzgerald in this game. This means that Brown should see at least a handful of routes against Cary Williams, in a matchup that strongly favors the smaller speed receiver. He's still a great value relative to the upward trajectory of his season. Arizona is going to score points in this game, and Brown is one of the better candidates to run the pass offense through if Fitzgerald is tied up with Sherman.
Best obvious play
Rob Gronkowski - None of the other tight ends really stand out as tremendous ceiling plays this week, and if there was ever a week to go Gronk-heavy, it's this one. His ownership continues to hover under 15 percent, and he faces a matchup where he could just go absolutely nuclear. The Giants allow a 72 percent catch rate, the second-most yards per game and rank 22nd in fantasy points allowed to tight ends. There's also been a number of near misses against them this season, but their slow linebackers and banged up safeties can't cover the positon. This could be one of those three-touchdown Gronk affairs we all chase in DFS.
My near 100 percent exposure player
DeMarco Murray - The Dolphins had a solid stretch early in the Dan Campbell era, but overall this season, they haven't stopped the run well at all. They just allowed both Bills running backs to go for over 100 rushing yards in Week 9. On the season, they rank 29th in running back points allowed per touch, and cede 4.51 yards per carry. The Eagles are insist on feeding DeMarco Murray, and he's picked up his play and production while running in more favorable calls for his skill set. He's averaged 23.75 touches over the last four weeks. He's under the high-end value of running backs, but makes for a safe anchor with multiple-touchdown upside in Week 10.
Cheat code of the week
Kamar Aiken - This will be Aiken's first true burn as the No. 1 receiver in Baltimore's offense, and we have some evidence to think he can succeed. Last week, after Steve Smith went down in the second half, Aiken caught five of his six Week 9 receptions for 59 yards, confirming he is indeed the guy now. In the four games where he's seen at least seven targets this year, he averaged 66.5 yards and scored two touchdowns. While that's nice, the value is the real appeal here. You don't find many wide receivers with double-digit target upside in potential shootouts in Aiken's Week 10 range. The Jaguars' pass defense has regressed the last few weeks, meaning Aiken should have some room to roam. He's a great candidate to give you some relief while squeezing high-end players into your lineup.