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 11.
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 nine 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
Cam Newton - As mentioned last week, having at least a little exposure to a Cam Newton/Greg Olsen stack every week is a wise move. With the way Newton is passing the ball right now combined with his rushing ability, he has a tremendous safe floor. This week against Washington, it's also a good week to chase his ceiling.
Derek Carr - Relative to his current level of play, Carr is still a relative value on FanDuel. To illustrate that, he's coming off a game where he threw for 300 yards and two scores, but many view it as a down week. That's how well he is playing. Going against a Lions defense that allows the highest completion percentage in the NFL, no one should be surprised if Carr ends up as the highest scoring quarterback of the week. The best part about using Derek Carr is how easy he is to stack with the weapons in his offense. Oakland is one of the more highly concentrated passing games in the NFL, with Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree owning a combined 48 percent share of the team's targets. He was the most popular quarterback on the FanDuel Thursday slate (16.1 percent owned) but he'll anchor most of my lineups, as well.
Top running back plays
Adrian Peterson - The VikingsHall of Famer leads in the NFL in both negative plays, and runs over 10 yards. However, his season is trending more towards the latter than the former after two straight games with 20-plus points. Minnesota welcomes Green Bay to their home field in game that will decide who emerges the NFC North division leader going into Week 12. In a massively important game, the Vikings are sure to ride their best player early and often. Going back to 2011, Peterson has been a Packer killer. He averages 140 rushing yards and a touchdown per game against Green Bay, and 98.15 yards and .72 touchdowns against all other opponents in that span. For the second straight week, Peterson should prove a week-changer.
Lamar Miller - Since the Dolphins coaching change, not many running backs have the secure volume of Lamar Miller. His role in the passing game makes him game script independent, and he's playing pristine football at the running back position. He has a touchdown in every game since Miami's bye week. The Cowboys rank inside the top-five in terms of running back receptions and yards allowed. Their front seven is getting worse at defending running backs, and currently ranks 30th in fantasy points allowed per touch. Miller showed us in this stretch he RB1 overall upside in any given week, and is a must play in DFS this week.
Jonathan Stewart - Surprisingly the public isn't on Jonathan Stewart this week, as he was just 7.0 percent owned on the Thursday FanDuel slate. After a slow start to the season, Jonathan Stewart has been steady lately, averaging 22 carries, 88.4 yards and 0.8 touchdowns per game since coming off his bye. Playing at home as against Washington, Stewart set ups for a big week against a defense that lets up 4.8 yards per carry. Stewart has more touchdown upside than usual this year, as he is second in the NFL behind Devonta Freeman in red zone carries with 31.
Darren McFadden - In his four games as the starting running back, McFadden averages 26.25 touches per game. Per NextGen stats (distance run/yards produced), his efficiency has decreased in each of those last four weeks, but he faces a matchup with the Dolphins where he can get right back on track. The Dolphins rank 28th in fantasy points allowed per touch, and let up 190 total yards to running backs in each of their last three games. McFadden's volume is hard to ignore, even with Tony Romo set to play his first game since Week 2. Players in their first week back are often hard to trust in fantasy, and Dallas may lean on McFadden even more than usual.
Top wide receiver plays
Mike Evans - With most of the high-end receivers in less than ideal spots, Mike Evans is the top play of the week if you're shooting for the stars at wide receiver. Since Tampa's bye week, Evans owns a 45 percent share of Jameis Winston's passing targets. The rookie quarterback only has eyes for Evans right now, and with the state of the other members of the offensive arsenal, he doesn't have much of a choice. Evans' target volume in a matchup with the Eagles secondary that ranks 22nd in wide receiver touchdown rate, and gives up 98.4 yards per game to opposing No. 1's, is the perfect blend for the upside you need in DFS.
Larry Fitzgerald - With both John Brown and Michael Floyd dealing with hamstring injuries, and the latter looking seriously questionable at best, you almost have to lock in Fitzgerald for 10 to 13 targets on Sunday. It's not the best matchup, and you should consider fading other members of the Cardinals offense, but Fitzgerald's projected usage should bring a safe floor to his DFS users.
Danny Amendola - At a value proposition, and with a big increase in his projected role, Amendola was the highest played receiver in Thursday contests at 27.1 percent ownership. With Julian Edelman likely out for the duration of the regular season, common thinking has Amendola dropping right into his role. He did lead the team in targets last week when Edelman went down. While Amendola may not have the ceiling of the player he is replacing, but he makes for a fine bargain play this week against a Bills pass defense that is best attacked in the short areas in a "death by a thousand paper cuts" approach.
Steve Johnson/Kamar Aiken - These two are listed together as they present a similar proposition. Neither has a particularly high ceiling or must play against matchup. However, both Aiken and Johnson are near locks for eight to 10 targets and come in the punt play range. They can offer you some good relief with a safe floor if you're chasing high-end plays elsewhere.
Top tight end plays
Travis Kelce - If these Chiefs plan to move the ball through the air, it must come via Travis Kelce. After bemoaning his lack of targets for what feels like eight years now, the fantasy community must be pleased to see he owns a 29 percent share of the pass offense in each of the last two weeks. The Chargers rank 29th in fantasy points allowed per target to tight ends and give up the third highest touchdown rate to the position. Kelce has both a high ceiling and floor this week.
Eric Ebron - The talented Detroit tight end hasn't been a consistent part of the offense the last two weeks, but has only topped 60 yards twice this year. However, he draws a matchup with the Raiders this week, who continue allowing touchdowns to the tight ends, even if it's been trending to the backups lately. Ebron comes at a bargain, and has touchdown upside at only 3.9 percent owned in the Thursday contest. The Raiders vs Lions game should be one of the highest scoring matchups of the week, and you'll want multiple pieces of exposure to it.
Top defense plays
Eagles DEF - Jamies Winston has played better football of late, but still carries the potential for multiple turnovers in a game. Philadelphia gives up the lowest rushing touchdown rate in the NFL, and a sub-4.0 yards per carry average. With the game firmly in a traveling Winston's hands, the Eagles underrated defense could have DFS winning upside.
Stack of the week
Matthew Stafford/Lions pass catchers - You'll want to stack both the Raiders and Lions passing games together, as the two poor defenses should struggle to keep down both aerial assaults. With Stafford outside of the top 13 quarterbacks on FanDuel this week, and only 4.7 percent owned on Thursday, he makes for a great tournament play. The Raiders allow the fifth most passing yards in the league, and just lost pass rusher Aldon Smith to a suspension. The real question is who to stack Stafford with. The previously mentioned Eric Ebron makes for a good value stack piece, and could even be a good throw on for a Lion triple stack. None of the Raiders cornerbacks present a frightening proposition. T.J. Carrie and David Amerson could help bring back Calvin Johnson (who has topped 86 yards just once this season) of old memories. However, D.J. Hayden has moved into the clot corner position for the Raiders of late, and will square off with Golden Tate. The Lions No. 2 receiver is a serious regression to the mean candidate with no 100 yard receiving games despite seeing eight targets per game. Both should get over, but Tate may in fact be the more optimal choice so you can chase some of the high-end plays at running back.
Best contrarian play
Russell Wilson and the Seahawks passing game - There is not a more depressing offense to watch than Seattle's this season. Completely hamstrung by an offensive line that can singlehandedly derail a drive, Russell Wilson lead the NFL in sack rate, and topped 20 fantasy points just once this season. However, as such, his value is down to the mid-range of quarterbacks and the public is off him (just 2.0 percent owned on Thursday). He also draws a wonderful matchup with the 49ers pass defense who has been just abysmal on the road:
With those kind of splits, it's at least worth exploring Russell Wilson stacks in a few tournament lineups. At some point, Wilson will have a game akin to the nuclear outings he posted last year on the regular. Though he is hard to trust, many of the sharps are on Marshawn Lynch this week for a two score kind of upside game against San Francisco. The game script does set up that way, but the contrarian play is to play Wilson in hopes he takes advantage of a pristine matchup, and finally has a big game with his legs. Jimmy Graham makes for a pure upside stacking candidate, while Doug Baldwin makes for a safe choice. Graham is finally seeing the target share (32 percent the last three games) that we all imagined he would. He had a poor game last week, but is a strong candidate for a blowup game with Wilson. This could finally be the week where this duo destroys in DFS, with the matchup and ownership projections pointing to a major exploitable point on the slate.
DeAndre Hopkins - It's hard to imagine one of the top three receivers in fantasy is a contrarian play, but a Sunday date with both T.J. Yates and Darrelle Revis involved has the public scared off DeAndre Hopkins. A regular candidate for a 15 to 25 percent ownership at a minimum, Hopkins was just 3.8 owned on the Thursday slate. At that low of a use by your DFS peers, and Hopkins' individual upside, you almost have to explore playing him in tournaments. Not to mention the Yates and Revis factors may not be as limiting as previously believed. Yates followed the Just Throw it to Your Good Players philosophy and pummeled Hopkins with targets upon entering the game, including his gorgeous touchdown reception. Hopkins is a freak who can certainly beat an aging Revis, who is not what he once was. Allen Robinson beat Revis at least twice for dazzling plays in their meetings, and Sammy Watkins toasted him a few times last. The latter should have posted a bigger game if he didn't misplay at least two of his targets. You won't get many chances to use a player like this in a contrarian fashion, so take advantage.
Best obvious play
Charcandrick West - Has the former unknown graduated to this level? His recent play suggest he has. West has averaged 25 touches over the last three games, compared to Jamaal Charles' 19.75, and scored at least 19 FanDuel points in each. He's earned the right to be mentioned in that realm, as he's just been tremendous this year. He can make plays in the passing game, looks like an agile athlete, and is a sustaining rusher for a conservative offense. After slicing through the Broncos defense, West is just about matchup proof. Of course, that doesn't matter this week as he faces a Chargers defense that allows over 5.0 yards per carry and ranks 29th in fantasy points allowed per touch. As only the 11th ranked running back on FanDuel for Week 11, West is a must play across all games.
My near 100 percent exposure player
Michael Crabtree - Regardless of whether you deploy Derek Carr, or use a Lions stack, you need to have Crabtree as a game flow passing correlation stack piece. With the two air attacks going off, one of these Raiders' receivers is sure to go bonkers on Detriots defense. The cornerback matchup dictates Crabtree is the most likely candidate. Fretting over cornerback-receiver matchups can cause too much overthinking in fantasy decisions, but this looks like a prudent situation to heavily weigh the situation.
Not many people no his name, but Darius Slay, the Lions top corner, is having a top-notch breakout season. He's been a tremendous lockdown player, and even shadowed Jeremy Maclin (three catches) and James Jones (zero catches) the last two weeks. With the other Lions corners not coming close to Slay's quality, we'd like to know which one wideout the young star may lineup across. Other defenses with a top corner who shadows who faced Oakland (Browns in Week 3, Chargers in Week 7, Jets in Week 8) used their receiver eraser on Amari Cooper. Even if the Lions don't track Cooper with Slay, odds are Crabtree sees less of him anyways.
According to Next Gen Stats cornerback heat map, Slay primarily plays on the outside regardless of what receiver he's tracking:
This would explain why he trailed James Jones last week, and never followed Randall Cobb into the slot. Even some of the best corners rarely travel into the slot, as it's quietly akin to playing a whole new position. The great Josh Norman in Carolina followed T.Y. Hilton around the field three weeks ago when he played outside, but left him alone in the slot, and almost never played across from Randall Cobb in their matchup.
Again per Next Gen Stats, Crabtree accumulated 42 percent of his receiving yards when lined up up in the slot so far this season, compared to just 26 percent for Amari Cooper. Quandre Diggs and an injured Nevin Lawson, the Lions other top two corners at the moment, just won't be able to handle the revitalized Crabtree. In a shootout game script, and facing a cakewalk cornerback matchup, it'll be hard to make a daily fantasy lineup without Michael Crabtree in it.
Cheat code of the week
Case Keenum - If you read my Thursday sleeper column, you already know I'm a Case Keenum truther, for better or worse. For daily fantasy Keenum is one of those rare values at the quarterback position that helps you unlock a highly stacked lineup, and who has a high ceiling on his own. Do not go all in on Keenum as your Week 11 DFS quarterback, but gain some exposure to him and see where it takes you. He needs just two times his value, or 9.6 fantasy points, to return value to your lineup. Keenum is one of the most volatile quarterbacks in the league, with an eye-popping ceiling, but a flooded basement level floor-Think an even higher variance version of Ryan Fitzpatrick. However, his Week 11 opponent should afford him enough space to get you through to a solid DFS scoring line with several stud players complimenting Keenum. The Ravens hold on to a poor 28th ranking in quarterback fantasy points allowed per pass attempt. The defense ranks in the bottom 10 in the NFL in terms of completion percentage, yards per completion, touchdown rate and interception rate allowed this season. With so many tremendous high-end plays at running back and receiver you want to grab this weekend, and the allure of the flexibility you need to get Rob Gronkowski in your lineup, it's hard to pass up the bargain proposition this gun slinger presents you. At the end of the day, watching the Case Keenum who appeared on the exciting Sunday night game in 2013 makes football fun. If that player shows up once again, you'll have a blast with him in your DFS lineup. As my colleague Chris Wessling says, in Week 11 daily fantasy...