Week 6 DFS Targets
This article is intended to help NFL DFS players find an edge in lineup construction on the DraftKings main slate. All referenced strategies and player salaries are intended for use in conjuncture with DraftKings scoring and pricing.
This week’s batch of QB options is the deepest of any slate so far this year. Deshaun Watson (6700) is projected to be the chalk this week, and deservedly so. The rookie looked great so far, showing excellent chemistry with both DeAndre Hopkins (8100) and Will Fuller (5200). This week Watson gets a juicy home matchup with the Browns, who are not suddenly a good defensive team as some people suggest.
Aaron Rodgers (7300) and Matt Ryan (7000) are two elite QB’s who I will gladly take the risk of fading. The reason I am so comfortable fading two of the league’s best is because of opportunity cost. I simply can’t allow myself to miss out on the monster game that is coming from either Tom Brady (8300), Drew Brees (7200), or both. Two future Hall-Of-Famers coming into games with extra time to prepare, backed by genius coaches? Where do I sign? When it comes to QB’s 7K and above, I have more confidence in Brady and Brees than I do in Rodgers and Ryan.
As mentioned, quarterback is extremely loaded this week. Dropping down to the mid-tier is certainly still an option, and as usual, we have at least one extreme salary saver option that appears viable. Kirk Cousins (6800) is coming off a bye week and facing the 49ers, who are playing in their second straight road game. Certainly, the cards are stacked in Washington’s favor, as Cousins could end up having a big game. The question with Cousins revolves around game theory. If you think the 49ers can hang with the Redskins to some degree, Cousins is a fantastic play. A shootout type of game would upgrade Cousins, while a blowout would only increase the likelihood of Washington sitting on the ball and trying to run the clock out.
Philip Rivers (6600) and Matt Stafford (6500) find themselves in potential shootouts as well, but I won’t be pulling the trigger. Both QBs are viable tournament options and you can likely get them at low ownership. An interesting note on ownership: With so many good quarterback options this week, deciphering ownership numbers is actually a trap. Ownership will be very spread out at that position; I recommend focusing on finding the best play, rather than trying to leverage the field.
Here’s where things get really interesting. A very intriguing option this week is new Browns QB Kevin Hogan (4600), who steps in for DeShone Kizer. I don’t need to strongly endorse Hogan as a great QB in order to endorse him as a great play. At only 4600, he merely needs to score in the 15-point range to pay off his salary and meet value. Anything over 15 points would be icing on the cake, but it comes to down to opportunity cost. You must ask yourself if you’re going to be capping your upside by settling for Hogan, as this may be a week where it is crucial to have your QB be one of the top scorers. Hogan certainly has a chance to flirt with 20 points, and he could very well smash his price tag. Fading him probably means that you expect one of the elite QBs to score 30+, making them a better play regardless of point per dollar upside.
The extremely clear chalk this week is Vikings running back Jerick McKinnon (4100). McKinnon is coming off an electric Monday night game, in which he scored 23.6 DraftKings points. For me, McKinnon is a player I am strongly considering completely fading. We’ve seen this same movie for a couple years now, as McKinnon has often been expected to string together multiple big games in a row, while pretty much always failing to do so. McKinnon relies on big plays to pad his stat line, as he is not an effective between the tackles runner and doesn’t get much red zone work at all. When you add in the fact McKinnon could see ownership north of a whopping 40% in some tournaments, I feel more comfortable fading him than I do matching the field.
In that same price range, we have a slightly less level of chalk with Saints RB’s Alvin Kamara (4500) and Mark Ingram (4400). Both players make fantastic plays in both cash games and tournaments alike, for obvious reasons. Adrian Peterson’s departure is an overblown narrative, however there will still be plenty of volume to go around for these two. My preference is Ingram, but I will have exposure to both. You can even play a lineup that has both Saints’ RB’s if you want to hedge ownership in a unique way.
Leonard Fournette (8000) has one of the safest floors of any running back, not to mention his obvious upside. It comes down to point per dollar as his salary is all the way up to 8K now. He is a potential lock as a cash game play, and absolutely warrants GPP exposure. The only two running backs above him this week in terms of price, are Kareem Hunt (8200) and Le’Veon Bell (9600). Many people will click on Fournette’s name and stop this week, failing to consider the potential of either Hunt or Bell. When you can possibly count on Bell to have extremely high usage and come in at low ownership, it is hard not to put him in some of your lineups, even with a sky-high price tag. Kareem Hunt remains in play as well, for the same reasons as Bell, although he isn’t nearly as likely to see 30 touches as Le’Veon is. Todd Gurley II (7700) could be in for a nice bounce back game in a road matchup against Fournette. The Rams surely learned from their mistakes last week when they failed to maximize Gurley the way they did in weeks 3 and 4.
In the 5K range, Jordan Howard (5900), Javorius “Buck” Allen (5400), Mike Gillislee (5500), and Andre Ellington (5300) stand out as my preferred choices if I were limited to this tier. Howard is flying under the radar this week, and has a better matchup than many think. When Baltimore plays without defensive lineman Brandon Williams, they are far less intimidating when it comes to stopping the run. With the Bears using a rookie QB, they could opt to lean on Howard. Other running backs in this range that are worth GPP consideration are James White (5200), Duke Johnson (5100), Tevin Coleman (5000), Chris Thompson (5000), and Ameer Abdullah (4900).
Arguably my favorite running back on the board this week is DeVonta Freeman (7400). Freeman has several factors in his favor: the Falcons are coming off a bye week, Mohammed Sanu is set to miss the game, and we aren’t sure if Julio is 100%. Throw in Freeman’s home/road splits and the fact that the Dolphins are just plain bad, and we find ourselves all over this play this week. Many people will be drawn to a lineup build featuring Fournette and McKinnon. Pivoting to Freeman and pairing him with Gurley, Bell, or Hunt could be very potent and rewarding in tournaments.
The chalk this week at receiver seems to be somewhat obvious. Julio Jones (8300),DeAndre Hopkins (8100), and Michael Thomas (7300) project to lead the field in ownership. These players will be chalky for a reason, as all of them boast the potential to have outstanding games. This very well could end up being “Julio week”, where he absolutely dominates, forcing DFS players to regret not playing him in such an obvious smash spot.
Chris Hogan (7000), Golden Tate (6800), Larry Fitzgerald (6800), Jarvis Landry (6600),Pierre Garcon (6000), Adam Thielen (6000), Danny Amendola (5600) and Davante Adams (5700) should carry somewhat decent ownership, but they are all in above average spots. I will look to have exposure to all of these players, some more than others. Out of the bunch, I prefer Hogan, Tate, Garcon, and Thielen. Tate has a history of burning the Saints, having gone off against them in their last three meetings. Garcon wraps up his revenge tour against the Redskins, after besting the Colts last week. Thielen’s usage is bound to increase with Stefon Diggs already ruled out for this game.
If you’re looking for some salary relief, my favorite three targets are Sammy Watkins (4100), Jamison Crowder (4000) and Ricardo Louis (3900). Crowder and Louis should be able to meet value due to their likely PPR upside, while Watkins will be basically unowned and can pop off in even the toughest of matchups. Watkins is GPP only, and it isn’t the craziest idea ever to play Crowder or Louis in cash games this week.
I have my eyes on a group of wide receivers this week who could be lightning rods in tournaments this week. Antonio Brown (9300) leads the pack with his absurd priced—which believe it or not—is exactly why I like him. Nobody will want to pay that price tag, leaving him vastly under-owned, just like his teammate Le’Veon Bell. We all know Brown is capable of lighting up the box score in any matchup, including this week 6 trip to Arrowhead Stadium. Nobody seems to be talking about Keenan Allen (7900) who has a great matchup against a banged-up Oakland secondary.
Two complete GPP only plays are Brandin Cooks (7600) and Amari Cooper (5000). These two don’t need much explaining. Anytime you can get the electric, yet inconsistent Cooks at low ownership, you take advantage of it. His floor is very low, which is why he is only viable in tournaments. However, as we have seen before, Cooks can score 30+ fantasy points at any time. Amari Cooper is the worst receiver of all time if you ask DFS Twitter—but hey, we don’t ask DFS Twitter. Everyone seems so quick to write off a guy who has gone over 1000 yards receiving as a 21 and 22 year-old. The talent and skillset is undeniable. There is virtually no way that Cooper continues to struggle forever. If you think he doesn’t pick it back up for another game or two, his teammate Michael Crabtree (5800) is a very nice pivot. Crabtree is arguably a good play regardless, as both Raider playmakers are drastically underpriced.
If you want to take a long shot on an extreme punt WR, look to JuJu Smith-Schuster (3600) or Ted Ginn (3600).
The more the week goes on, the more I love Rob Gronkowski (6800). The price tag is steep, and I normally hate paying up at tight end, but this just feels like the time we see a couple Gronk spikes. Coming off a long week, the Patriots will surely be prepared for the division rival Jets, and they will look to utilize a healthy Gronkowski. This week is shaping up to be very odd in terms of ownership. Not only will QB ownership be significantly spread out, but I expect the Patriots to be extremely under-owned as I theorize the public won’t be so sure which skill player they want to land on. I want to take advantage of this, as be overweight from the field on Gronkowski, Cooks, and even Hogan, the latter being the highest owned of the pass catching options.
At only 5K, Jordan Reed (5000) is definitely on my radar. However, I think I would rather just find the extra salary to pay up for a healthy Gronk, knowing that Reed still isn’t operating at 100%. It is worth noting Reed hasn’t been this cheap in a long time, so I certainly wouldn’t spend time talking you off of playing him.
A few other tight ends crack my player pool this week, but my most heavily owned tight end will definitely by Gronkowski. Others I have interest in are Hunter Henry (4100), Ryan Griffin (4000), Kyle Rudolph (3800), Austin Hooper (3500), George Kittle (3400), David Njoku (3000), and Zach Miller (2900). If you want to be contrarian, and possibly very clever, give Darren Fells (2500) some consideration at the bare minimum tight end price. We all know how bad Eric Ebron is, and Fells offensive role may be increasing as evidenced by his increased scoring over the last two weeks. If Fells gets lucky enough to score a touchdown—something he did twice last week, he will have easily paid off his price tag and opened up the door for you to fit other players into your lineup with ease.
These are some of the players that I will want to have the most exposure to in week 6. These players have a high floor and significant upside, making them viable in cash games and GPPs.
Rob Gronkowski (6800)
DeVonta Freeman (7400)
Mark Ingram & Alvin Kamara (4400 & 4500)
Julio Jones (8300)
Kareem Hunt (8200)
Todd Gurley II (7700)
Pierre Garcon (6300)
Chris Hogan (7000)
Tom Brady (8300)
Drew Brees (7200)
Some of these guys are tough to justify in cash, but they are firmly in consideration for tournaments. Here are a few of my favorite tournament plays this weekend:
Jordan Howard (5900)
Adam Thielen (6000)
DeSean Jackson (5800)
Brandin Cooks (7600)
Ameer Abdullah (4900)
Jamison Crowder (4000)
Sammy Watkins (4100)
Fades of the Week
I don’t expect these players to necessarily be bad plays, but I do want to take a stand and fade them from my lineups, to try and capitalize on what may be unnecessarily high ownership levels.
Jerick McKinnon (4100)
Melvin Gordon (7800)
Matt Stafford (6500)
Carson Palmer (6100)
Jordy Nelson (7100)
Mike Evans (6900)
The plays and strategies in this article are intended to help aid lineup construction for DraftKings players in week 6. While I will play many of these players myself, I may also use plays and strategies not recommended in this article. Remember to trust your research and let your process guide you to the finish line. Week 6 should be extremely exciting for DFS; be sure to follow injury news and notes up until lock to ensure that you are deploying the best lineup possible. Follow Nathan & The Sports Talk on Twitter for NFL content and more.