Welcome to the Daily Fantasy Roundup where we'll cover every inch of what you need to set a great FanDuel lineup every week. Last week was a rough week in daily fantasy, but you made it through if you used some of the players in the Week 3 edition, with week-winning scorers like Cam Newton, Devonta Freeman, Latavius Murray and Gary Barnidge among others finding their way into the Roundup.
Last week we talked about how things were tightening up on the site, and that bargains were less readily apparent. Going over the Week 4 slate, I was a bit surprised to see so many value players I liked. It's an important reminder that daily fantasy is a swift and fast changing landscape in even more facets than your normal redraft leagues.
Top quarterback plays
Aaron Rodgers - Perfect example of the value on FanDuel being better than anticipated coming into this week. Remember, the site publishes their following week slate before the previous one's Monday night game concludes. Rodgers' Week 4 ranking doesn't completely take into account his takedown of the Chiefs from Monday. With that being the case, despite his status as the top quarterback on the site, Rodgers is still a good proposition. His value has actually come down from Week 1 when the season kicked off. Rodgers has a great matchup with the 49ers, who allow the third most fantasy points to quarterbacks per pass attempt. Of course, remember that he'll be highly owned (19 percent ownership from the Thursday slate), but he's not worth totally fading.
Cam Newton - Despite plenty of worries to start the season, Cam is firmly in our trust corner. He's carrying the Carolina offense. He's accounted for all of the Panthers offensive touchdowns, and 79.4 percent of their offensive yards gained. As long as Cam keeps this pace up, and continues to see positive matchups, he's an excellent ceiling play in daily fantasy (three touchdowns in both of the last two games). He draws another favorable opponent this week, with the Bucs giving up the eighth most fantasy points to quarterbacks per pass attempt.
Andy Dalton - There's still no tangible reason to shy away from Andy Dalton yet until he gives us a reason to. Best of all, the site hasn't reacted to his recent strong games. He's still only the 12th ranked quarterback on FanDuel's Sunday slate. The Chiefs have been worked over by quarterbacks, allowing the most fantasy points to the position through three weeks.
Derek Carr - The Bears have the worst defense in the NFL on a points allowed per game basis. They've ceded 105 points so far, the most in the league. As such, all Raiders will be in play this week. Derek Carr is sure to be popular player (third highest owned quarterback in the Thursday slate), but his pace and the matchup is hard to deny. After a season in which he averaged 5.5 yards per pass attempts, Carr has torn through two AFC North defenses in consecutive weeks. He's come on strong in his second year, and is currently the QB12 in fantasy leagues. This week he draws one of the best matchups for quarterbacks. The Bears let up a 71.4 competition percentage, and allow the second most fantasy points per pass attempt (.26) to the quarterback position.
Top running back plays
Eddie Lacy - If you're after a top-tier running back, Eddie Lacy has to be your guy this week. He played sparingly on Monday with no setbacks after an ankle injury, and should be fully ready for this game. The Packers are projected to win big over the 49ers, and that means plenty of Lacy as the hammer to seal the deal. We always like power backs playing for big favorites. If this game was at home, we'd go all in on Lacy. For now, he can be your anchor from the group of top-tier running backs. The public isn't flocking to Lacy at the moment, rather chasing the passing game assets, and he was only 5.8 percent owned on the Thursday slate.
Latavius Murray - Despite questions heading into the season, the Raiders are deploying Latavius Murray as their full-fledged featured back. Murray has been handed the fourth most touches among NFL running backs, and averages .7 points per touch. The Bears are bleeding 4.7 yards per carry to a murderer's row of running backs that included Thomas Rawls and Chris Johnson the last two weeks. You probably don't want the Raiders passing game assets in too many lineups with Murray, but you'll need some exposure to both.
Frank Gore - The Colts offense somewhat got back on track last week. They snared a win, and Frank Gore was a big part of that, scoring two rushing touchdowns. We can expect more of the same for the veteran back this week when the Colts host Jacksonville. This is likely Indianapolis' "get right game", and if they win handedly, that means plenty of work for Gore. Remember, we love featured backs on heavy home favorites. If Andrew Luck (questionable) doesn't play, that takes some of the shine off Gore and this entire offense, but he should still garner the workload at home to justify his value as the 13th ranked running back on FanDuel
Devonta Freeman - We're not chasing last week's points here, as much as making a volume play based on value. Devonta Freeman saw the most touches among all Week 3 running backs, and with Tevin Coleman still out, there's no reason for that to drastically change. Freeman also proved he can make good on his chances, finishing as the week's highest scoring running back. Atlanta is at home, facing an inferior team. Their running game should get plenty of chances to get going in favorable situations.
Ryan Mathews - By all accounts, DeMarco Murray is slated to play this week, but can the Eagles really put the genie back in the bottle? Ryan Mathews ran better than Murray had in the first two weeks when he replaced the injured starter against the Jets, taking his 27 touches for 18.8 PPR points. The matchup isn't tremendous, but he makes for a good upside play. Mathews was low-owned (2.1 percent) on the Thursday slate and comes at a bargain for Week 4. If you're in a pinch with other top-tier players in your lineups, Mathews is a good flier.
Top wide receiver plays
A.J. Green - Again, we're still not chasing points here, but there's reason to play Green in certain formats after his blowup Week 3. The matchup dictates you can't go completely unexposed, the Chiefs have allowed the most points to wide receivers so far. The Dalton green stack will be popular (22.6 percent Thursday ownership for Green), so we will talk about certain pivot options later on.
Amari Cooper - Another player destined to be one of the weekends' highest owned, 20.3 percent of Thursday lineups featured the Oakland rookie receiver. Again, the matchup with the Bears makes Amari Cooper a player that you'll need some exposure too, but just like Green, there are pivot and differentiation opportunities to explore here.
Jordan Matthews - One of the most popular players to start off the season, Jordan Matthews' quiet Week 3 after two stat lines boosted by fourth quarter splashes has the public shifting off him. However, we're willing to go back to him this week. The entire Eagles offense functioned better when they employed less stretch zone runs against the Jets on Sunday. There's reason to hope the unit is getting back on schedule. Not many are talking up Matthews for Week 4, with Philadelphia's struggles and Washington's defense out performing expectations. Yet, Washington will be without DeAngelo Hall, and more importantly for Matthews, just placed Justin Rogers, their top slot corner, on IR. Matthews is a strong play to return value out of the mid-tier receivers.
John Brown - I know, I know; we've talked about John Brown here every week. However, his value keeps going down, and the positive matchups keep coming. If we are still here waiting for the big game in two more weeks, it's time to let it go. However, with the value presented, against a secondary that likes to gamble, we can give Brown one more roll. Limit your exposure, but he can help you squeeze in high-end players.
Marvin Jones - After a shaky preseason, Marvin Jones has reclaimed the No. 2 receiver job in Cincinnati. He's caught touchdowns in two straight weeks, and played 83 percent of the team's snaps. He's a big-play threat on an improving offense. Given the stats presented in Green's blurb in relation to Kansas City's defense, we like Jones a lot this week. Compounded with his low ownership percentage (3.9 percent) in relation to Green's he makes an excellent pivot play.
Ted Ginn - It's less than fun to say out loud, but Ted Ginn is the No. 1 receiver in Carolina. It's been a rocky ride, but Ginn is getting 22 percent of the team's targets, averaging 8.3 standard fantasy points per game and is on pace for a 1,000 yard season. Opportunity breeds fantasy results, even if those are meager. Like it or not, Ginn is a weekly WR4 and flex option in good matchups. The Buccaneers are the eighth worst team at stopping fantasy receivers with .27 points allowed per quarterback pass attempt. If you go heavy on high-end players, you can do worse than Ginn as your third receiver on FanDuel.
Top tight end plays
Greg Olsen - Another case of popular for a reason. Olsen is tied with Gronk for the lead in tight end targets (28) and second in red zone targets with six. This is a favorable matchup for Carolina's passing game and Olsen is the leader among the receiving targets. He's an obvious play in a week that doesn't look great for value tight ends.
Charles Clay - None of the Bills pass catchers have been as efficient as Charles Clay. He currently ranks 10th in fantasy points per target, and 11th in yards per target among tight ends. He's probably a fringe-starting option going forward, but will have weekly volatility in this offense. The Giants have let up the fourth most fantasy points to tight ends through three weeks, and even that number doesn't do justice to how poor they are at covering those players. Jordan Reed was consistently open on Thursday night, including twice in the end zone, but Kirk Cousins was unable to hit him. Expect Clay to have a big game behind the efforts of a superior quarterback.
Top defense plays
Stack of the week
Aaron Rodgers/Randall Cobb/James Jones - All three Packers players will be popular Week 4 plays. James Jones and Cobb were among the top-six most played receivers on the Thursday slate. However, they're chalky for a reason. Green Bay should take advantage of the 49ers' poor pass defense, which has allowed .34 fantasy points to wide receivers per quarterback pass attempt. If you're going to play them, because of high ownership, I'd recommend stacking Rodgers/Jones/Cobb together to differentiate your lineup from the field while still getting in on the potential point bonanza. It's steep, but there's enough bargains elsewhere to make it work.
Best contrarian play
Andy Dalton/Tyler Eifert stack - We've hammered the point that this Chiefs defense can be had through the air, and we want in on what's happening in Cincinnati right now. Of course, the Dalton/Green stack might be the most popular of the weekend. Adding Marvin Jones to the mix might help, but an even more contrarian move is to stack Dalton with his tight end. After putting up a goose egg in Week 3, the public is backing off Tyler Eifert. His ownership percentage dropped from 11.8 last Thursday to 7.4 this most recent one. If Dalton looks to his tight end more than Green in this game, as he did in the first two weeks, and you stacked Dalton/Eifert, your lineup is going to vault many others.
Derek Carr/Michael Crabtree stack - The Raiders stack of Carr (11.5 percent owned) and Cooper (20.3 percent owned) will be extremely popular. So much so that I'm willing to pivot to Michael Crabtree. His Thursday ownership percentage clocks in at a low 3.5 percent, giving you a massive advantage if he's the receiver who hits for a big game against the Bears. That was the scenario that played out against the Ravens in Week 2. Check a little further down why I like for that to happen again this week.
Jeremy Hill - By all recent surface analysis, there's no reason to play Jeremy Hill in DFS this week. However, I think Hill is a good buy-low for redraft leagues, because his biggest problem is confidence. He's running tentative, afraid to get pulled for fumbles after finding the bench in Week 2. The skills are still there, and despite getting out-snapped 48 to 25 by Giovani Bernard in Week 3, the coaching staff will give him every opportunity to regain that confidence. In daily, we like two-down banger backs when their team is at home and favored to win. Hill and the Bengals check those boxes hosting the Chiefs this Sunday. But mostly, playing Hill is a DFS game theory discussion. Like we mentioned in the Aaron Rodgers section, tracking values across the season is a great way to strike on inefficiencies in the model. Hill is this week's biggest qualifier. His value has dropped 22.1 percent since the start of the season. In the same vein, his ownership on the Thursday FanDuel slate came in at a paltry 0.8 percent. Again, this is the contrarian of all contrarian plays based on recent events. However, there are multiple reasons why it could hit. If you play Hill at this current value, and he finds the end zone just once and has a stable rushing day, your lineup will vault multiple others because next to no one is playing Hill. Proceed with caution, but I'll personally play with the fire in a small sprinkling of lineups.
Best obvious play
Tyrod Taylor - Look, the DFS sites just haven't properly evaluated what's happened with Tyrod Taylor yet. No longer among the ranks of the streamers, he's been a top-five player at the position through the first three weeks. Yet, he checks in as the 13th quarterback on FanDuel in Week 4. Taylor is playing with confidence and did almost all of his work in Week 3 with his arm not his legs. The Giants secondary continues to suffer injury after injury, and looks ripe for picking apart. The combination of his passing and rushing ability gives Taylor a safe floor, and he's displayed his ceiling both in a big loss and convincing win over the past two weeks. You can stack Taylor with his running back (in the next section), Charles Clay or Percy Harvin. Even better, his brand of play allows you to leave him un-paired with a teammate, providing more flexibility in creating lineups. We're not fading Tyrod in any week until matchup dictates, or his play gives us reason to.
My near 100 percent exposure player
Karlos Williams - With McCoy missing this contest, Karlos Williams will ascend to the starting lineup in place of the veteran running back. Through the first three weeks, Williams has been the most efficient back in fantasy football. Of the backs who've toted the rock 20 or more times, Williams has the highest fantasy point per touch figure with 1.58 on his 26 touches. For comparison's sake, the Bills current starter averaged .58 fantasy points (ranking 45th in the NFL) on his 50 touches. Of course, Williams' number would come down if he saw more opportunities. Yet, averaging a whole fantasy point more on his touches, on more than half of McCoy's workload, is quite the feat for this rookie runner. The Giants are a stellar matchup for his first career start, as they allow the second most fantasy points per rush attempt (.32) in the NFL. The impressive and powerful Williams will be a massively over-owned player, and was the most popular running back (26 percent in the Thursday FanDuel slate). However, his value makes him a must-play and you're playing with fire if you choose to fade. He'll be at home, his team is superior to the opponent and he's inheriting a ton of volume in a run-heavy offense. You paid the price if you tried to pivot from the crowd on the popular Devonta Freeman last week. Don't get too cute doing the same with Karlos Williams.
Cheat code of the week
Michael Crabtree - Rarely do you get to play a team's top targeted player going into a perfect matchup at such a bargain like you can with Michael Crabtree this week. No receiver in his range is seeing such a massive share of the passing volume like Crabtree, who is averaging 11 targets per game, which is more than the popular choice of the week, Amari Cooper. More importantly, he leads the team in red zone targets with four, good for 40 percent of the team's opportunities in the scoring area. While the field will be all over Cooper, and he's likely to turn in a strong game, Crabtree could easily out produce him this week. That's exactly what happened in Week 2 against the Ravens. Michael Crabtree was a Reception Perception favorite in the offseason, and he's reviving his career in Oakland. In a pristine matchup, with a target load unparalleled by any other pass catcher at his value, Crabtree is a perfect DFS play this week. Rarely does value, matchup, and being just contrarian enough line up like this.