Week 7 DFS Spotlight

Week 7 DFS Spotlight

Nathan Smith

The Sports Talk

This article is intended to help NFL DFS players find an edge in lineup construction on this week’s DraftKings main slate. All referenced strategies and player salaries are intended for use in conjuncture with DraftKings scoring and player pricing.

Running Back

Roster construction is difficult this week with pricing being tighter than it was last week on DraftKings. Top flight running backs are certainly in play this week, but it will be difficult to jam them in and still be happy about the rest of your lineup. I prefer Le’Veon Bell (9100) & Ezekiel Elliot (9000) more than Todd Gurley (8200) this week. I do plan to have some exposure to Gurley, but I view Bell and Elliot as more likely to explode. Leonard Fournette (8600) is not expected to play as the Jaguars take on the Colts, which significantly upgrades Chris Ivory (4800).

Mark Ingram (6700), Jerick McKinnon (6300), and Adrian Peterson (5800) all received significant price increases in week 7. All three are coming off huge games, likely swaying their ownership into the 10 to 20% range. To gain an edge in tournaments, it makes sense to pivot to other running backs in this price tier with more advantageous matchups.

  • LeSean McCoy (7400): McCoy will be chalky and comes with high game to game injury risk. If you can get past those two factors, McCoy should be a clear must play. Coming off a bye week, McCoy steps in to a dream spot at home against a Bucs team that got gutted by Adrian Peterson last week. Considering Buffalo’s lack of offensive firepower and the Charles Clay injury, McCoy’s usage should be as high as ever.
  • Jordan Howard (6400): For a guy with the upside to lead the league in carries every week, Howard never seems to garner very much ownership. With the Bears starting rookie Mitch Trubisky at QB, they will continue to be a run-first offense against the Panthers. This game has a projected game total of 41, with a spread favoring Carolina by 3. This type of game script sets up extremely well for Howard. In a week where hardly any studs are too cheap, it is best to play one when we find one. I won’t be locking Howard, but I will aim to have a good amount of exposure come Sunday.
  • Jay Ajayi (6200): Ajayi is a somewhat frustrating fantasy player to roster for a couple different reasons. He is capable of having a great real-life game with a ton of volume, without it translating to fantasy goodness. The concerns about his surgically repaired knee seem to resurface from time to time as well. However, the reasoning behind rostering Ajayi is because of his immense upside and potential to score upwards of 30-40 fantasy points. Ajayi had mixed results in two games against the Jets last year, but this 2017 Jets run defense is not as good as the previous version. According to Vegas projections, New York @ Miami sets up to be the lowest scoring game on the slate. While this is mildly concerning for Ajayi’s upside, it could suggest a grind it out type of game with continued heavy volume from Ajayi, similar to weeks 5 and 6. If Ajayi can secure another 25-touch game on Sunday, he should be able to pay off his salary based expectations, with a decent chance for a whole lot more.

Other targets I am considering this week at running back:

  • Carlos Hyde (5900)
  • Chris Ivory (4800)
  • Derrick Henry (5500)
  • Christian McCaffrey (6100)
  • Orleans Darkwa (3700)
  • Alvin Kamara (5600)
  • Ty Montgomery (5500)

Quarterback

The higher priced quarterbacks this week boasts options such as Drew Brees (7600), Dak Prescott (7300), Cam Newton (7000), Marcus Mariota (6900), and Russell Wilson (6400). Prescott finds himself in an excellent spot as Dallas heads to San Francisco. Dak gets his running mate Ezekiel Elliot back—for now—which should actually help his fantasy production more than hurt it. The 49ers have been among the league’s worst in coverage numbers on the outside of the field, which suggests Prescott should be able to connect with Dez Bryant early and often.

Tyrod Taylor (5100) is in a great spot coming off a bye week, playing Tampa Bay at home. We can try to capitalize on ownership percentages in a unique way in this game. With LeSean McCoy and Tyrod Taylor both expected to be fairly highly owned, it is worth it to play both of them together in the hopes that must people avoid that specific roster construction. While it may normally seem counter intuitive to play a QB and RB from the same team, it should be an effective strategy in this matchup. With both players having significant usage and a large role on offense, the floor for both of them should be somewhat safe. I feel more confident saying this considering that the Bills are playing at home and coming off a bye week. With two weeks to develop an effective game plan to maximize the skillsets of “TyGod” and “Shady”, I think both Bills make excellent plays this week.

More on Dallas @ San Francisco

Throughout the week, the Vegas game total has increased on this game, which is always an excellent sign. When the projected game total trends upwards, it suggests a higher likelihood of a shootout. With neither defense profiling as elite, a 34-31 type of game is certainly on the list of possible outcomes. The 49ers have now turned to rookie QB C.J. Beathard (4900) to lead the offense after inconsistent play from Brian Hoyer. Beathard is not someone to deploy in cash games, as you will want to use Tyrod Taylor in that price range. However, in tournaments I have a lot of interest in Beathard on the off chance he explodes for 20-25 points.

If you want to take a stroll down narrative street this week, I’ve got a play for you. George Kittle (3600) had a big game in week 5 and almost had another in week 6, if not for 2 drops and getting tackled at the 1 yard line. Kittle and Beathard were college teammates at the University of Iowa, and established a very good connection that they carried over to the pros. Their chemistry was on display in pre-season, and the duo will now get a chance to show it off in Beathard’s first regular season start. The coaching staff is reportedly high on Kittle, as they traded incumbent starter Vance McDonald to Pittsburgh before the start of the season.

The one area of this game I am skeptical to attack is the Dallas middle of the field passing game. The 49ers are surprisingly adept at covering the middle, with their true weakness lying on the outside. Dez Bryant is the obvious play, with Brice Butler and Terrance Williams being deep GPP flyers. Cole Beasley and Jason Witten are the middle of the field options I would stay away from.

All in all, this is a very stackable and intriguing game. I will play around with lineup builder to try and find several different ways to have exposure to different game stacks here. I am all in on this game being higher scoring, so I want to take advantage of the underpriced 49ers to go along with the high-priced Cowboys. If it wasn’t already clear, I love C.J. Beathard’s potential this week. Playing him in the right type of contest and in the right type of way is very important here. In cash games or head-to-head games, a guy like Tyrod Taylor makes much more sense. But Beathard is the exact type of player to use if you are trying to be contrarian and win a qualifier or tournament. It also makes more sense to play him as part of a game stack. While “naked” Beathard is still viable (not pairing him with a San Francisco WR/TE), I love the idea of the game stack in the likely event the game turns into a shootout. If you like this idea, but just can’t pull the trigger on the main slate, consider going heavy on this game on the afternoon slate. Many DFS players often don’t stack games as much on short slates, instead preferring to isolate the best players and play them. This could be something to take advantage of on Sunday, as a somewhat obvious spot for fantasy goodness may surprisingly go somewhat overlooked.

Tight End & Defense  

Witten is generally consistent, but I feel much more confident zeroing in on three tight ends this week. George Kittle (3600),Evan Engram (4400), and Delanie Walker (5800) are my favorite targets this week. Engram’s role and usage has dramatically increased as of late, and Walker is facing the Browns which is reason enough to play a tight end.

There is a decent chance Walker is limited or misses the game against Cleveland, which would upgrade backup Jonnu Smith (2600). With Charles Clay set to miss this game for the Bills, Nick O’Leary (3100) is worth a shot in tournaments as well. He has the potential to score 15 or more points, which could significantly boost your lineup in a week where scores could end up being down across the industry.

Don’t ever be afraid to play two tight ends if it appears to be optimal. Many tournament players shy away from this strategy despite the fact that it often pays off. We can often identify excellent value options around the 3K range or below at tight end, while the same cannot be said at other positions. 

Defenses I like this week:

  • Jaguars (3700)
  • Broncos (3500)
  • Saints (3000)
  • Vikings (3300)
  • Rams (2600)
  • Chargers (2400)

I don’t dislike the Seahawks (4000), Jaguars (3700), or Panthers (3600). However, I have been finding more excuses not to play them rather than reasons to play them. This is a situation where it will come down to two things for me, as I attempt to figure out which defense to rely on in week 7. For starters, I will monitor late breaking injury news and more, in order to get a feel for negative or positive trends and action that may adversely affect a defensive unit. The second variable of course will be roster construction. If I had to ruin a game stack or subtract one of my favorite players just to squeeze in the Jaguars defense, then I’m not interested. With the Jags on the road and missing Leonard Fournette, I’m banking on the Colts being able to do just enough on offense to take the Jags out of the must play category for me. I doubt I completely remove them from my player pool, as they have as good a chance as anyone to snag a pick six or two. With elite talent and slate breaking potential, the Jags are still a solid option, even if not my top option.

Wide Receiver

As we have seen lately on DraftKings, running backs generally play a larger role than receivers in determining how successful you team will be on any given Sunday. In week 7, once again I would encourage a roster build that is geared more towards jamming in your favorite running backs more so than receivers. Of course, there are a few wide outs that profile better to me than others, so I’ll work through some of my top plays:

  • Dez Bryant (7800)
  • Mike Evans (7600)
  • Adam Thielen (6700)
  • Demaryius Thomas (5800)
  • Pierre Garcon (5800)
  • Rishard Matthews (5500)

I would be completely insane not to mention Antonio Brown (8900) and A.J. Green (8300), both of whom would still be in play even if priced $500 more. Surely, at this point we all know that these two target monsters can dominate in even the most difficult of matchups. In week 7, I trust Green a whole lot more than Brown. The Bengals have had two weeks to prepare for this divisional showdown. I would not be surprised if their game plan centered around stopping Antonio Brown. I expect the Steelers’ to have a harder time slowing A.J. Green, who normally shows up in a big way against the Steel Curtain.

I always try and dig deep to find some off the board, boom or bust players at WR. Many times, I come across these plays by following matchup related trends and/or injury related usage increases. With the Rams taking on the Cardinals in London this week, we all know what that means for Sammy Watkins (4400). It is all but guaranteed Watkins will be blanketed by Cards shutdown cornerback Patrick Peterson, forcing the Rams to look elsewhere for production in the passing game. This favors Todd Gurley, who should see an increase in targets out of the backfield. But as far as receivers go, a sneaky play that has gained some traction throughout the week is Robert Woods (4000). On a week with very few value options, Woods stands out as one of the better low-end choices. The Cardinals give up very generous stat lines to #2 opposing wide receivers, as they are often the beneficiary of avoiding Patrick Peterson, and instead facing Justin Bethel. Cooper Kupp (4600) is in play for the very same reasons as Woods, but he comes at a steeper price. To get even sneakier, we can target all-purpose threat Tavon Austin (3100). Austin is far from a safe bet, but he’s the type of player who has a random 25 point or more fantasy game once or twice a year. In a game with Sammy Watkins likely shut down, this is as good a time as any for Austin to shine. If he can shake free for one big scoring play and sprinkle in a couple of catches, then all of a sudden he becomes the play of the day on a slate that was initially thought to have no good value options. If you play Tavon and he is able to put up 15 or more points at 3.1K and microscopic ownership, chances are you’re going to win some money.

Along with the Rams value options, here are a few other cheap WR’s that are worth considering this week:

  • Martavis Bryant (4300)
  • Eric Decker (4300)
  • Tyler Lockett (4100)
  • Jordan Matthews (3700)
  • Marquise Goodwin (3900)
  • Taywan Taylor (3300)

#PlugPlayers of the Week

These are the players I have the most confidence in, heading into Sunday. However, this article should yield plenty of fantasy goodness outside of just these select few players. Check with me on Twitter for updates prior to lineup lock on Sunday morning. 

  • LeSean McCoy (7400)
  • Carlos Hyde (5900)
  • George Kittle (3600)
  • Dez Bryant (7800)
  • Mike Evans (7600)
  • Jordan Howard (6400)

With player pricing being much tighter in week 7, it is crucial to rely on your research. Carefully construct your lineups with a lineup builder tool for the most optimal results. As always, late injury news and notes will heavily factor into last minute roster decisions. Be sure to trust your gut, and follow Nathan & The Sports Talk on Twitter for up-to-date & relevant NFL Content.

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Nathan Smith

I write about the NFL and more for TheSportsTalk Follow me on Twitter: @Nathan___Smith

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