Welcome to the fourth edition of the FanDuel DFS mail bag. Every week I'll take questions on Twitter pertaining to daily fantasy strategy and particular players on FanDuel. If you'd like to have your question featured, just shoot it to me on Twitter (@MattHarmon_BYB), and it may just find its way into the mailbag.
Something I'll continue to preach this offseason is that when a quality starting offensive player goes down, especially a quarterback and to an even greater degree an elite one, it's a net negative for the entire offense. Of course Antonio Brown will suffer with Ben Roethlisberger out of the picture. However, he's such a consistent producer, sound route runner and possesses the ability to make plays after the catch that he won't bottom out. After all, he's in the discussion for the best wide receiver in the NFL. From a redraft perspective, he'll be fine.
However, for daily fantasy the story is different. Through the first three weeks, Brown and Julio Jones were neck-and-neck for the top scoring receiver honors each week. Their target load made them consistent, and their big-play ability gave them the highest weekly ceiling. With Roethlisberger down, Jones laps Brown in all formats. Until Brown's value becomes more reflective of his downgrade at quarterback, there's no reason to choose him over Jones among the top-tier wide receivers. Especially this week with Brown playing on the Thursday slate, which you always want to fade.
There's almost no reason to play Brandin Cooks this week in daily fantasy, or any for the foreseeable future. Luke McCown is operating a dink-and-dunk passing offense, which means Cooks has little to no chance for a vertical play, and he's back to averaging in the 10 yards-per-catch territory like he did as a rookie. Even with Drew Brees playing, the team never got Cooks involved as an integral part of the core offense.
Allen Robinson is always in play because he's the No. 1 receiver on his team. However, he could easily get the Vontae Davis treatment this week, as the Colts have used Davis to shadow opposing No. 1 receivers this season. It's been a rough stretch of cornerback matchups for Robinson, with improving players like Josh Norman and Malcolm Butler playing him well in Week 1 and Week 3. That should continue this week with Davis in town. He's still a start in season-long leagues, but for DFS, there are receivers I like better.
Both are quarterback stacks that I'll be exploring this week, and both will be highly owned combinations. The Chiefs have allowed the most wide receiver fantasy points this season, and the Bengals are at home making them the safer play. The Derek Carr/Amari Cooper stack will be one of the most popular on the slate this weekend. Despite being the road team, they're projected to win for the second straight week over the destitute Chicago Bears defense. Cooper and Carr will form the best value stack of the week, but again, the sure-to-be popularity around it gives me some pause. One way to combat that would be to insert Michael Crabtree in addition to his two teammates to form the triple stack. Crabtree leads the Raiders in red zone targets, and is sure to convert those chances into touchdowns at some point. Adding a third player will help differentiate your stack from the field, and provide you a strong advantage with Crabtree coming at a bargain.
In order to create unique lineups with a highly owned player, I may stack Tyrod Taylor and Karlos Williams in a few lineups. Taylor has value independent of his passing ability due to his legs. There's some decent correlation between rushing quarterback success and that of their backfield mates. Williams and Taylor can make a unique QB/RB stack that will allow you to differentiate your lineup, despite playing the highly owned Williams.
The same can be said for an Andy Dalton/Tyler Eifert stack. The public will be off Eifert after his goose egg performance last week, and many will chase A.J. Green's major Week 3 line. Green is quite capable of having another blowup game, but the contrarian move would be using Eifert or Marvin Jones with Dalton.
Aaron Rodgers is the top quarterback on FanDuel this week, but he'll still be in consideration for me. One thing that's important to watch is shifts in the site from week-to-week. Last week, Rodgers was also the top quarterback on FanDuel, but he's come down in value from Week 3 to Week 4 despite a massive game on Monday Night Football. Remember, the site publishes their slate before that game concludes. As such, despite being the top quarterback, Rodgers is still a value play because it doesn't reflect his recent performance to the most accurate degree. Nevertheless, I'd still recommend infusing some of your lineups with lesser quarterbacks like Taylor and Carr in order to acquire some exposure to higher-end running backs and receivers that selecting Rodgers won't allow you to.
For starters, yes Karlos Williams will be one of the most heavily owned; I wouldn't be surprised to see it push 30 percent. With LeSean McCoy expected to miss the game against the Giants, Williams comes into focus. He's an insane value as the 32nd running back on FanDuel this week, and he's been ultra-efficient on his opportunities so far this season (1.46 fantasy points earned per touch). With almost every fantasy writer talking him up this week, the secret is out on Williams. However, he's too much of a value to completely pivot away from. I do expect he'll score more than 15 fantasy points, and he creates a ton of lineup flexibility.
Charles Clay is another tight end I'll be on with vigor this week. He's second on the Bills in targets, and should be their primary red zone threat going forward. 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.
It's hard to go with anyone but Karlos Williams for all the reasons mentioned above. Thomas Rawls would be in a similar vein if it weren't for the lack of a late swap feature on FanDuel. One guy who sticks out as another value running back is Ryan Mathews. DeMarco Murray may well suit up against Washington after missing last week's game. However, there may be a "can't put the genie back in the bottle" effect with Mathews after he had 120-plus total yards and a touchdown in place of Murray and his 0.5 yards per carry figure. Washington is a tough run defense, but so are the Jets and Mathews sliced through them in Week 3. It's not hard to argue that Mathews is the better fit for what the Eagles want to do on offense right now.
It's been a little frustrating for Jordan Matthews this season. Most of his production in the first two weeks came when the team was trailing or in garbage time, and he followed that up with an 8.2 yards per catch outing in Week 3. In order to reach maximum fantasy football value, slot receivers have to be placed in a highly-functional offenses or attached to great quarterbacks. The Eagles offense and Sam Bradford do not qualify as either right now. For that reason, Matthews will be much more volatile on a week-to-week basis than his redraft ADP would indicate. He does have a good matchup this week, however. Washington ranks 13th in fantasy points allowed to wide receivers per quarterback pass attempt. They just placed their top slot cornerback, Justin Rogers, on injured reserve and will need to elevate an even more limited player to take his place. With the tenuous nature of the Eagles' offense, I can't recommend going full throttle with Matthews, but there's good reasons he bounces back in this contest.
I prefer Jamaal Charles this week. The Broncos know that the only way that the Vikings can consistently move the ball is with Adrian Peterson. Minnesota's passing offense has more than a few hiccups right now. The Broncos coverage and pass rush is the best in the NFL right now, and Denver can afford to leave more resources in place to defend Peterson and the ground game. Peterson will be fine, but Charles presents a slightly better outlook for more of a value.
There's oh so many good choices, but I'm a particularly big fan of "Bubble." Nothing gets me more pumped to play daily fantasy than bubbles.