DFS players around the world cherish the opportunity to win copious amounts of money every Sunday. Taking down the DraftKings Millionaire contest, or any other massive tournament for that matter, would objectively be awesome.
One must be bold in order to win a large-scale DFS tournament. Fading a chalky stud who busts in favor of an under-the-radar talent who goes off can be the difference between finishing in the middle of the pack and making a push at a top spot.
I like to call these under-the-radar selections “helicopter picks.” The criteria for inclusion is as follows:
- Player pool is restricted to Sunday main slate contests (doesn’t include night games).
- Cannot be among top-five highest-priced players at position.
- Cannot have a projected ownership over 5% on DraftKings.
- Prediction for RB/WR/TE must be at least 100 total yards and two scores; QB is 300 total yards and four scores.
These events don’t occur all that often. Through four weeks there have been just 25 helicopter performances from the league’s RBs, WRs and TEs. The majority of these occurrences have understandably been talented options in good spots that didn’t meet the salary or ownership requirements. Alas, we press onward.
We’re looking for undervalued studs with sky-high upside. What follows is a breakdown on my four finalists for the Week 5 helicopter play of the week listed in no particular order. I’ll drop down to name the winner via Twitter shortly after midnight on Saturday.
CLEVELAND BROWNS WR ODELL BECKHAM ($6,400)
A healthy version of Beckham is going to be a problem for any defense to deal with. However, 50-yard rushing scores are going to be tough to come by every week, and the Browns’ No. 1 WR is posting the second-worst efficiency marks of his career in yards per target and yards per route run behind only last season’s train wreck.
Beckham literally said himself a few weeks ago that overwhelming production likely isn’t on the way in 2020:
“For me, one of my biggest growths has come in acceptance in a sense and for me knowing it’s probably not going to be that kind of season [with huge numbers]. Like I always say, my goal is always going to be my goal, and I don’t feel like I’m ever going to fall short of it. Like I said, learning and acceptance, so you set new goals.”
Still, Beckham also said he feels stronger and faster than last year. It’s tough to argue with him.
Holy hell OBJpic.twitter.com/Ii7wtCRP8T
— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) October 4, 2020
Only Adam Thielen (47%) has accounted for a larger rate of his team’s air yards than Beckham (45%). He has 10, six, six and eight targets this season. High-end efficiency is going to be needed to put up big numbers, but the Browns are at least feeding him fantasy-friendly looks. Overall, OBJ’s 16-yard average target depth far surpasses his previous-high marks in 2019 (13.6) and 2017 (14.2).
Volume is an issue; we’re going to need to attack spots that Beckham can make the most out of his opportunities. At first glance, the Colts don’t appear to be that team; only the Chiefs (462) have allowed fewer receiving yards to opposing WRs than Indy (507) this season.
And yet, they’ve hardly faced the league’s most-elite passing games in the Jaguars, Vikings, Jets and Bears. Allen Robinson (7-101-1), Darnell Mooney (5-52-0) and Adam Thielen (3-31-0) are the only WRs with more than five targets against this defense.
A closer look at these cornerbacks reveals there isn’t much of anything to fear. Credit to Xavier Rhodes, who is presently PFF’s No. 3 highest-graded corner just one season after being roasted repeatedly in Minnesota. Rhodes was a bottom-10 CB in PFF grade and passer rating allowed in 2019 and one of just seven players to rack up double-digit penalties. I’m not buying a complete resurgence just yet, but either way Rhodes isn’t traveling with a single WR so the Browns can unleash OBJ vs. either Kenny Moore or Rock Ya-Sin if they wish. The expected absence of CB T.J. Carrie (hamstring) to go along with S Malik Hooker (Achilles, IR) certainly doesn’t help matters.
Last week, Beckham was chalky and cashed in. This week, most of the projected ownership in his price range is going to Will Fuller ($6,600), D.J. Chark ($6,500), CeeDee Lamb ($6,000), D.J. Moore ($6,000) and Robby Anderson ($5,900). Matchups against the Jaguars, Texans, Giants and Falcons are certainly more appealing, but it’s not a stretch to say Beckham is the most talented of the group, and the present disparity in projected ownership might be unwarranted given his proven upside in a spot that could force the Browns to throw the ball a bit more than usual.
BALTIMORE RAVENS TE MARK ANDREWS ($6,200)
Lamar Jackson (knee) didn’t practice on Wednesday or Thursday. ESPN’s Adam Schefter said the knee injury is not considered serious and he was held out for “precautionary reasons.”
Perhaps the issue leads to more dropbacks and less emphasis on Jackson’s mobility. Perhaps not. Either way, Andrews remains one of the league’s top talents at the TE position and is due for more usage. Through four weeks he’s had six, three, eight and three targets, good for an average of just five targets per game. Last season, Andrews led the Ravens with an average of 6.5 pass-game opportunities per contest.
Up next is a matchup against a secondary he boat-raced for 6-99-0 and 6-53-2 performances in 2019. They’ve been better in 2020, although Zach Ertz (7-70-0) and Hunter Henry (5-73-0) didn’t exactly struggle. Throw in the reality that the Bengals will likely continue to be without CB Mackensie Alexander (hamstring) in addition to Trae Waynes (pectoral, IR), and it’s clear this isn’t a secondary to fear.
(Check out my Week 5 Mismatch Manifesto for more matchup-specific stats from around the league.)
I’m cheating a bit because Andrews is a top-five priced player at his position, but 1) Andrews spends 60% of his snaps in the slot or out wide anyway, and 2) TE pricing is relatively lower than any other position. The Ravens’ No. 2 (at worst) pass-game option is worthy of FLEX consideration this week in this smash spot, and the likes of George Kittle ($6,600), Travis Kelce ($6,400) and Darren Waller ($5,900) are all pulling in enhanced projected ownership. All four of the week’s highest-projected TEs are in solid enough matchups; don’t be afraid to go after the lowest-owned one that is always plenty capable of lighting up the scoreboard.
Unfortunately, Andrews (thigh) popped up on the injury report Thursday with a limited practice. Make sure to monitor his progression on Friday before rolling the dice here.
WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM RB ANTONIO GIBSON ($5,000)
At some point Gibson is going to fully take over this backfield.
Give Antonio Gibson the ball and good things happen pic.twitter.com/fZ2i9dpHtt
— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) October 6, 2020
Gibson’s 13-46-1 rushing and 4-82-0 receiving lines against the Ravens showed off the rookie’s tantalizing dual-threat ability. He was truly the second-best player on the field for the Football Team aside from Terry McLaurin.
Preseason expectations for Gibson revolved around the idea that he’d serve as the lightning to Barber or Bryce Love’s thunder. However, the rookie has already taken over the majority of the offense’s early-down and goal-line work, and McKissic’s stranglehold on the starting and pass-down roles seems to be slipping by the week.
Gibson’s ceiling is as a near every-down back with 20-plus combined carries and targets per game. Ron Rivera likened Gibson to Christian McCaffrey, and now the same QB that helped CMC break the position’s reception record is under center.
This was still a committee in Week 4:
- RB1: J.D. McKissic (54% snaps, 2 carries, 8 targets)
- RB2: Gibson (44%, 13, 5)
- RB3: Peyton Barber (7%, 3, 1)
(Check out my Week 5 RB committee breakdown for thoughts on the projected backfield splits around the league.)
Still, it’s a matter of when, not if, Gibson takes over, and we’re not going to see him this cheap once that happens. The Rams are hardly a pushover, but each of Miles Sanders (131 total yards), Ezekiel Elliott (127) and Devin Singletary (121) still managed to put up big performances. Throw in the reality that the Rams have numerous linebackers banged up ahead of Sunday, and it’s fair to call this a winnable matchup.
Perhaps Gibson would be getting more attention if David Johnson ($5,200) wasn’t so cheap. Either way, the Football Team’s RB1’s floor of ~15 touches and ceiling of 25-plus opportunities can’t be ignored at this low of a price point. The reality that nobody seems to be concerned with Gibson this week makes him an excellent tournament target.
MIAMI DOLPHINS WR DEVANTE PARKER ($6,400)
Ryan Fitzpatrick has fed the following players more than five targets through four weeks:
- Parker: 29 targets
- Isaiah Ford: 24
- Mike Gesicki: 21
- Myles Gaskin: 20
- Preston Williams: 15
- Jakeem Grant: 9
Parker is the only fantasy-relevant option as long as this offense remains in slow-motion mode. The only FitzMagic that Ryan Fitzpatrick has provided this season is making his trademark YOLO-ball attitude disappear for whatever reason. Overall, only Drew Brees (5.4%) and Daniel Jones (5.4%) have a lower deep-ball rate than Fitz (5.6%).
Parker has caught 24 of 29 targets and is the PPR WR21. The 49ers defense has remained stout despite being all sorts of banged up, but the same can be said for Parker as he’s continued to play through an ankle injury.
(Check out my Week 5 WR/CB matchups breakdown for thoughts on the best and worst matchups on the outside around the league.)
Ultimately, Parker is playing on a near every-snap basis, he’s averaging a robust 9.6 yards per target, and he’s in a potential high-volume spot against a secondary that truly hasn’t faced a high-end passing game through four weeks. Fitzpatrick isn’t guaranteed to be an upgrade as a passer over Kyler Murray, Sam Darnold, Daniel Jones or Carson Wentz, but it’s certainly in his range of outcomes.
Parker is getting overshadowed by the likes of CeeDee Lamb ($6,000), D.J. Moore ($6,000) and Robby Anderson ($5,900). The reality that Parker’s CB matchups shouldn’t be all that much more difficult, combined with his projected higher-end volume, makes this a situation worth attacking in fantasy land.