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 7.
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
Andrew Luck - The public is backing off Andrew Luck with "The Greatest Shoe on Earth" failing to meet expectations. Sidebar: that was such a bad nickname anyways. However, even in a week where Luck didn't play his best football and looked bothered by his shoulder, he still accounted for 312 yards and three scores through the air against New England. This week, the Colts welcome the Saints into Lucas Oil, a team that just can't stop the pass. The Saints allow the fourth most quarterback points per pass attempt in the NFL, and only have a 6.0 percent sack rate. Luck should finally get a matchup here where he can sit comfortably in the pocket and pick apart a porous secondary.
Carson Palmer - The Cardinals meeting with the Ravens is quite the matchup for the Arizona passing players. Baltimore simply cannot stop the pass, allowing the third most passing yards in the league and a touchdown on 5.0 percent of the attempts against them. They just got taken to task by Colin Kaepernick in Week 6. If you watched last night's 49ers game you know how bad that is. Returning home after a bad loss to Pittsburgh, Palmer and the Cardinals are set for a blowup game.
Philip Rivers - The Chargers starter is the safest quarterback this side of Tom Brady in 2015. Rivers leads the league in passing yards, attempts and efficiently creating touchdown throws. He has a host of weapons in the aerial game, and the Chargers can't build a foundation running game. The Raiders don't scare us off riding the highest volume passer in the NFL at all.
Ryan Fitzpatrick - He keeps breaking his value, and exceeding expectations the last several weeks. The Patriots secondary struggles to hold down opposing wide receivers, and Fitzpatrick players with two of the league's best in Brandon Marshall (69.8 percent catch rate) and Eric Decker (15.4 percent touchdown rate). His value, and easy stack-ability with his top two target hogs makes him a great play.
Top running back plays
Adrian Peterson - He was a heavy-handed play for us last week, and we got burned with a 27 touch, 57 total yard day. That stung, but it creates an even bigger opportunity to capitalize on this week. With Peterson leaving DFS players dead in the water in Week 6, the public is almost completely off him, and his ownership percentage dropped to a meager 4.0 percent on the Thursday slate. The Lions rank 23rd in fantasy points allowed per rush attempt, and give up a touchdown on 6.0 percent of the carries against them (31st in the league). With so much chalk and higher ownership around so many popular backs this week, a great matchup and Peterson's great pedigree is hard to pass up as a contrarian play.
Devonta Freeman - The Falcons running back just keeps doing it, averaging 27.25 touches and 34 FanDuel points over the last four games. His ownership percentage is indeed getting out of control, 49.4 on the Thursday slate, so that is dangerous. However, it's just impossible to fade him with that volume and efficiency. The Titans allow 4.34 yards per carry, and the Falcons should control this game.
Latavius Murray - The Chargers are one of the most generous teams to running backs in the NFL. They allow the highest yards per carry average and the second most fantasy points to running backs per carry. The Raiders passing game won't be firing on all cylinders with Jason Verrett likely shadowing Amari Cooper. Oakland came out of their bye talking as if they'll recommit to feeding Latavius Murray, after injuries and mistakes hampered him prior to the week off. He's in a good value range as you look to shift to mid-tier players.
Lamar Miller- Another recommitment, the Dolphins actually started giving the ball to their best player. What a novel concept. Miller saw 20-plus touches in Dan Campbell's first outing as a head coach, and all signs point to that being a theme with this staff. The Texans only allow 3.7 yards per carry, but still get burned by running backs. The team gives up .713 points per touch to running backs, and give up a touchdown on 6.1 percent of the running back targets against them. I'll want to get a little bit more exposure to Miller before his value creeps back into a range more reflective of what he brings to the table.
Danny Woodhead - With Melvin Gordon in the doghouse, and the running game sputtering, the Chargers will lean on Woodhead against Oakland. With Rivers leading the league in pass attempts, the passing down back's role in the offense is secure. All four of the red zone touches went to Woodhead last week, when the Chargers were trying to beat the Packers as time expired. The Raiders are pretty stout against the ground game this year, but give up an 88.6 percent catch rate to running backs. Most of the running backs to score big points against them (Matt Forte in Week 4) did so through the air.
Top wide receiver plays
Deandre Hopkins - Much like we've mentioned with other studs, Hopkins graduated to a level where you shouldn't need someone to tell you to get some exposure to him every week.
Julio Jones - After two quieter games from Jones, the public is backing away. He had an ownership percentage pushing 30 percent before this hamstring flare-up, but now sits at a manageable 9.7 percent from this Thursday's slate. For good reason, everyone will be on Hopkins at the high-range value receivers, but that creates a good pivot opportunity to Jones. Titans starting right cornerback Perrish Cox won't play against Atlanta, and to quote Rotoworld, "We love it when Blidi Wreh-Wilson comes into our lives." He was one of the league's worst corners last season, and should see plenty of Julio this week. Jones could go berserk against Tennessee.
Donte Moncrief - When Andrew Luck is in the lineup, Donte Moncrief is at worst the Colts No. 1A receiver. At this point, it's a hard trend to ignore, as both he and T.Y. Hilton both average 9.25 targets per game when Luck plays. We like Moncrief better because he's the superior value on the DFS sites, and he's been a far more efficient touchdown scorer. Moncrief has an 8.2 percent touchdown rate to Hilton's 1.7 on 10 fewer targets. The Colts face a Saints secondary this week that allows the 11th most fantasy points to wide receivers per target.
Willie Snead - We have three weeks of data supporting the claim that Snead is New Orleans' most valuable and involved wide receiver. He's still a better value than Brandin Cooks on DFS sites. The matchup with the Colts is fine one, as Snead should run a vast majority of his routes in the slot and away from Vontae Davis. In the first six weeks, Indianapolis allowed slot receivers to burn them for 53 catches, 636 yards and two touchdowns, ranking in the top-five highest of all three categories.
Michael Crabtree - San Diego used top corner Jason Verrett to shadow Antonio Brown two weeks ago, split snaps with Flowers against Calvin Johnson in Week 1 and shadowed A.J. Green in Week 2. Those three, all among the NFL's top tier of receivers, totaled eight catches, for 129 yards and a single touchdown in their games against Verrett. If the Chargers give Raiders rookie Amari Cooper the Verrett treatment that frees up veteran Michael Crabtree to do work against Brandon Flowers. - Per Rotoworld's Graham Barfield, Flowers gave up .314 fantasy points per snap in the first six games, which is the second most among cornerbacks that played at least 119 snaps.
Crabtree actually led the team in passing targets through the first five weeks over Cooper. Offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave indicated this week, "We just want to keep building his role in the offense." He's heavily involved in the red zone offense, but hasn't produced a score inside the 20s yet. The matchup dictates there's a good chance that changes this week.
Top tight end plays
Rob Gronkowski - I was imagining this would be a week I don't go heavy on Gronk with other high-end plays I want to chase, but then I saw his Thursday ownership percentage. The New England tight end was only owned in 4.4 percent of Thursday lineups. Perhaps it's just everyone chasing Antonio Gates, or recency bias after two relatively quiet game for Gronk standards, but that's just way too low. Todd Bowles' defenses in Arizona were always gashed by tight ends, because they play so much man coverage outside and aggressively blitz the line of scrimmage.
Antonio Gates/Ladarius Green - We know all about the Raiders weakness against tight ends. Oakland gave up career outings to multiple players, and allow a touchdown on a league-leading 12.5 percent of the tight end targets against them, and that includes their shutout against a finished Owen Daniels. Gates is a great play this week, but his 32 percent ownership on the Thursday slate makes him almost unplayable in DFS tournaments. Not to mention, Gates tweaked his knee against the Packers late in the game, and hasn't practiced this week. For this reason. I strongly recommend being contrarian and pivoting to Ladarius Green in daily tournaments. Green played 68 percent of the team's snaps compared to 67 percent for Gates the last two weeks. He also snagged eight catches for 85 yards and a touchdown. The team still wants to keep Green involved, and used him out of the slot on a ton of routes against Green Bay last week. With Gates in the lineup, Green is a great pivot play in DFS. If Gates sits, Green becomes a candidate for a top-five tight end scoring week.
Delanie Walker - The Falcons just gave up a 10-catch career day to Benjamin Watson in his 12th year in the NFL. The linebackers on that team get torched in pass coverage against tight ends and pass catching running backs. Walker should be the direct beneficiary of that this week, as none of the Tennessee backs are reliable. The veteran tight end produced last year with Mettenberger in the lineup, so Mariota sitting out isn't a worry. Walker is a DFS value play, and only 2.4 percent owned in the Thursday slate.
Top defense plays
Rams DEF - Their easy stack-ability with Gurley adds some extra appeal and will be a mainstay in some of my lineups. Josh McCown morphed back into a bit of a pumpkin last week, turning the ball over in the mind-numbing variety we're used to. The Rams pass rush is far fiercer, and the entire defense faster, when they play at home. They'll probably be my anchor.
Washington DEF - This is my favorite play of the week. They are at home in a game against Jameis Winston, who averages 1.6 turnovers per game. Adding to the appeal, Washington should be able to play their brand of football on offense; control the clock with a power run game. Alfred Morris and Matt Jones are both slated to play in this contest, against a front that can be run on. Even if Doug Martin plays well in this spot, a few turnovers can make Washington a week winner.
Stack of the week
Landry Jones/Martavis Bryant - This is a purely Danger Zone level stack, but we're doing it. The Steelers offense actually resembled the attack we were so excited to see manned by Ben Roethlisberger with Landry Jones under center replacing an ineffective Mike Vick. However, it was Martavis Bryant who made all the difference. The Alien took a simple slant from Landry Jones 88 yards to the house against the Cardinals for his second score of the day. This week, we want to explore using a value stack for multiple reasons. One, there are so many high-end plays at running back and receiver we want in our lineups. Secondly, if your stack doesn't take much to fit in, you're less reliant on it to hit big to field a winning lineup. The matchup is perfect for these two players to reach value, while offering you lineup flexibility. The Chiefs allow the most yards, receptions and fantasy points to wide receivers. Jones isn't likely to show-out on his own, but he has three more than capable weapons to boost him to meet value at a bargain proposition. I'm going down with the ship on this one. If you're punting the quarterback position, I feel better going with Jones than the more highly publicized Zach Mettenberger.
Best contrarian play
Washington running backs - I've cautioned against this situation all year in season-long, but I'm sniffing around it in DFS tournaments this week. Washington is at home, and a popular favorite to win against a Tampa team with a light defensive front still struggling to find its way. Washington's defense isn't perfect, but their opponent should allow for a game script where they can control this game. That's normally all the ingredients we look for in chasing a DFS running back pick. Chris Thompson likely being out brings a small dose of clarity here, but still, picking Matt Jones or Alfred Morris is where this play gets tricky. Jones missed last week, but all signs point to him playing in Week 7. The game script favors Morris, but we know the coaching staff favors their younger draft pick over the veteran. Both backs are a value and under one percent owned on the Thursday slate, so there's no factor there to help us decide. I'll probably sprinkle a little of both in my lineups, and hope to catch lighting in a bottle with one, because the way this game flow sets up, I won't be shocked if one of the highest scoring lineups of the weekend has a Jones or Morris/Washington DEF stack.
Best obvious play
Cardinals' receivers - Larry Fitzgerald continues to hold pace as the team's top red zone threat, and reliable possession receiver. However, the tide is turning to John Brown lately. He leads the Cardinals in targets, red zone targets, catches and yards over the last three games. Either makes for a great play this week against a ravens secondary that allows 1.29 fantasy points per target to wide receivers, and a steady 8.88 yards per target. Brown and Fitzgerald are knocking on the door in the conversation for best receiver tandem in the NFL. While those two will be highly-owned popular plays, Michael Floyd might be my favorite of the bunch at 2.2 percent owned on the Thursday slate. We had him as the punt play at wide receiver last week, and Floyd delivered with a touchdown at a bargain value. He has a great chance to shatter that again, as the site did not adjust Floyd's standing for Week 7. His snap share continues to trend upwards, and he almost snared two more touchdowns last week. Just like last week, he's far more talented than other receivers in his range and playing in a great offense, but this week the matchup is even better. Ignore Floyd at your own risk.
My near 100 percent exposure player
Todd Gurley - This one is just too easy, and the public knows it. Todd Gurley was an eye-popping 35 percent owned in the Thursday slate, trailing only Devonta Freeman, but I still can't fade him. The Rams are fully committed to him as their offensive centerpiece. He averaged 25.5 touches over the last two games, and frequently showed off his all-world talent. He saw 30 carries last game out in a negative game script. That's just too much locked in volume to fade. Not to mention, he's seen all those touches, but hasn't found the end zone. Talk about an obvious regression to the mean candidate. His matchup against the Browns is just about perfect, too. No team gets run on more than Cleveland, and they give up the second-highest yards per carry figure in the NFL. To top it all off, Gurley is still quite the value. He's only the eighth ranked running back on FanDuel for Week 7. Everything is screaming to you to play Gurley, and you'd be foolish to ignore it.
Cheat code of the week
Dorial Green-Beckham - All the talk out of Tennessee this week projectsDorial Green-Beckham for more work. Harry Douglas is trending toward missing this matchup with the Falcons, and that would provide the needed open snaps to make room for Green-Beckham. I was a big believer in the player's talent, and hold fast to the idea that he has all the ability to dominate in the NFL. As for this week, he makes for a good value punt play with upside. Zach Mettenberger carries the unflinching gunslinger attitude to just launch the ball downfield to this big target. Green-Beckham's less than one-percent ownership in the Thursday slate makes this too tempting to not chase.
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