News & Analysis

Fantasy Football: Hartitz Week 7 DFS Deep Dive

Oct 18, 2020; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Carolina Panthers running back Mike Davis (28) with the ball in the second quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

DFS is objectively awesome. You submit a lineup, sweat out a slate, and by the end of the day you know whether you’ve won or lost money. Great times.

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Of course, there are a lot of sharks out there in the DFS streets. You, yes you reading this, you’re busy. Probably don’t have time to grind through every single piece of football information out there, but who doesn’t want to have some extra skin in the game by the time kickoff rolls around?

What follows is a breakdown on basic DraftKings cash-game and tournament strategy for the Week 7 main slate. I won’t be spending too much time on breaking down why a dude is in a great spot or has upside; you can check out the following articles for full matchup and workload thoughts on pretty much every fantasy-relevant player.

Cash-Game Strategy

The stack I want to build around is the Chargers. Rookie Justin Herbert ($6,400) has been nothing short of phenomenal all season long.

Herbert is the QB8 and QB9 in fantasy points per game and dropback, respectively. He’s demonstrated two essential fantasy football musts at the QB position: 1) being able to offer some level of rushing ability, and 2) proven ability to still put up production in comeback mode. The rookie has started his career off with four consecutive tough-to-average matchups against the Chiefs, Panthers, Buccaneers and Saints. Now he gets a Jaguars defense that has allowed 30-plus points in five consecutive games and truly hasn’t come close to slowing down the opposition.

I get the desire to try and pay up for Russell Wilson ($8,000), Josh Allen ($7,700), Patrick Mahomes ($7,400), Kyler Murray ($7,100) or Deshaun Watson ($6,800). Even Cam Newton ($6,300) is a viable non-stack candidate. Still, Chargers-Jaguars has sneaky-shootout potential in its own right, and the more affordable nature of stacking Herbert with Keenan Allen ($6,200) and Mike Williams ($4,700) allows us to get up into the upper end of the pricing at sharper-priced positions.

Paying up at RB seems essential this week. My lock-button RB is Alvin Kamara ($7,900), who enters a cozy matchup with proven ability to rack up comeback-mode points if Drew Brees and company happen to struggle. Kamara’s price still seems $1,000 too low; CMC was regularly flirting with five-digit salaries in 2019, and the Saints’ RB1 is on pace to break McCaffrey’s reception record.

It’s also tough to get away from Aaron Jones ($7,200). The potential for LT David Bakhtiari (chest) to be sidelined is troubling, but this Texans defense has been railroaded on the ground by Derrick Henry (22-212-2), Clyde Edwards-Helaire (25-138-1), Dalvin Cook (27-130-1) and James Conner (18-109-1) alike. Jamaal Williams is annoyingly involved, but Jones is still one of just 10 backs averaging more than 20 combined carries and targets per game.  

The Cowboys’ outrageously banged-up offensive line and general ineptitude without Dak Prescott under center has me hesitant in trusting Ezekiel Elliott ($7,800) against the Football Team’s never-ending group of monsters on the defensive line. Similar issues are present for Derrick Henry ($7,500), who will face the league’s single-stingiest defense in PPR per game allowed to the position without LT Taylor Lewan (ACL, IR).

Because of this, I like locking in the Washington D/ST ($2,500) as the cheapest viable option. Andy Dalton was incredibly erratic in Week 7 both in terms of decision making and with handling pressure. 

I wanted to also go with Kareem Hunt ($6,800) at the start of the week. We’ll have to see how serious the rib injury is that limited him in practice. Hunt has dominated snaps and touches alike without Nick Chubb (knee, IR), but cramps in Week 5 and the Steelers massacring Baker Mayfield in Week 6 prevented us from seeing one of the game’s most-talented backs get a true 25-plus touch workload. The Browns did split reps more evenly between Hunt and No. 2 RB D’Ernest Johnson in Week 4 when the former back was dealing with a groin injury, so the potential for limited reps means we’re better off attacking this potential smash spot in tournaments.

The likes of D’Andre Swift ($5,200), David Johnson ($5,300), Justin Jackson ($4,900) and Kenyan Drake ($4,800) are viable cheaper options. My issues: Swift is still playing fewer snaps and likely to see less early-down work than Adrian Peterson; Johnson as well as Drake continue to get minimal pass-game work; and Jackson (knee) is banged up.

Obviously we’re going to need to save some money. I originally wanted to go with Breshad Perriman ($3,700). Each of Jamison Crowder (89% snaps), Perriman (89%) and Jeff Smith (85%) were full-time players in Week 6, but Perriman was easily the preferred downfield threat. Overall, Perriman’s 131 air yards were the eighth-highest mark in Week 6, as Joe Flacco routinely missed available opportunities. Still, Sam Darnold (shoulder) is seemingly back, so who knows if Perriman will see these same sort of high-variance targets anyway. The real target might just be rookie Denzel Mims ($3,000), who is not just expected to play this week, but he’ll reportedly be taking Smith’s spot in three-WR sets. The potential for Crowder (groin) to be limited further helps matters. I know, I know: the Jets. But just having a viable $3,000 option opens up the rest of the lineup in a big way.

The available salary remaining allows us to lock in the slate’s highest-projected TE Travis Kelce ($6,300) and also land on target-hog Terry McLaurin ($5,800), who is set up brilliantly against the Cowboys’ Swiss-cheese defense and at his lowest price since Week 1 despite seeing 12 targets last week.

Tournament Strategy

We’ll want to form much more stack-heavy lineups in GPP-style games. Be careful about rostering chalky RBs, WRs or TEs in tournament games; a single flameout is enough to tank your lineup, and dodging a bust greatly helps differentiate your lineup. This is key in tournaments featuring thousands of entries. We want to have a first-or-last approach. Finishing in the top-51st percentile in cash-games will win us some money; not so much in tournaments.

The following stacks are my favorite tournament-worthy situations to build around:

  • Russell Wilson ($8,000) — D.K. Metcalf ($7,200) — Tyler Lockett ($6,600) — Christian Kirk ($4,900): The NFL’s most explosive passing game trio brought back with the Cardinals’ big-play receiver facing off against the league’s single-worst defense in yards allowed to the position.
  • Josh Allen ($7,700) — Stefon Diggs ($7,000) — Bills D/ST ($4,700) — Jamison Crowder ($5,900): Allen is in a prime bounce-back spot against a defense that didn’t come close to covering Diggs in Week 1; bring it back with a defense with plenty of potential to create turnovers, but don’t expect the NFL’s leader in targets per game to go quiet
  • Aaron Rodgers ($7,000) — Davante Adams ($7,900) — Marquez Valdes-Scantling ($4,100) — David Johnson ($5,300): The Packers’ passing attack should have every chance to get back on track in this potential shootout, while Johnson’s terrible luck 1) inside the 5-yard line, and 2) in regards to better-ball TDs, should turn around at some point.

Consider filling out stacks with some of the following pivots off of projected high-owned players at each skill position.

The week’s top-four highest-projected backs are Aaron Jones ($7,200), Alvin Kamara ($7,900), Kareem Hunt ($6,800) and Chris Carson ($6,400). The reality that Ezekiel Elliott ($7,800) and Derrick Henry ($7,500) are pretty much always looking at 20-plus touches and multi-score upside makes them great tournament pivots off of Jones and Kamara (if you’re feeling frisky) despite their respective rough matchups. The same can be said for James Conner ($6,700) in regards to Hunt. Finally, moving up from Carson to Mike Davis ($6,600) makes sense considering the Panthers’ featured back is expected to (again) lead all RBs in total snaps played. I also think Antonio Gibson ($5,000) as well as Josh Kelley ($5,100) are going a bit under the radar with the likes of David Johnson ($5,300) and Justin Jackson ($4,900) being so cheap.

Week 7’s top-four highest-projected receivers are Davante Adams ($7,900), Tyler Lockett ($6,600), Keenan Allen ($6,200) and Terry McLaurin ($5,800). Moving off the latter receiver in favor of D.J. Chark ($5,500) makes sense; nobody had a higher difference between air yards and receiving yards than the Jaguars’ No. 1 WR last week. Additionally, Calvin Ridley ($7,300) and Julio Jones ($7,100) join Kenny Golladay ($6,700) and (maybe) Marvin Jones ($4,400) as solid tournament options in a potential shootout. Finally, avoiding Allen and Lockett in favor of Tyreek Hill ($6, 400) and A.J. Brown ($6,300) at their affordable price tags could pay off if the latter receivers can thrive in their respective tough matchups. Finally, I also like taking shots at Tim Patrick ($4,600) and Jerry Jeudy ($5,100) thanks to their potential for bunches of fantasy-friendly targets from DGAF-gunslinger Drew Lock.

Travis Kelce ($6,300) and George Kittle ($6,500) are the only tight ends with projected ownership above 10%. Hunter Henry ($4,500) is certainly a viable stacking partner with Herbert and company, but I prefer going after Hayden Hurst ($4,400), Darren Fells ($4,100, if Jordan Akins remains sidelined) or Robert Tonyan ($4,600, if healthy) in their respective potential shootouts.

Top salary-saving options priced within $500 of their position-floor are as follows:

I’m slightly changing the helicopter pick criteria moving forward. After whiffing on Odell Beckham in Week 6, I was surprised to see that the only players that met the helicopter criteria of 100-plus yards and multiple scores (Julio Jones, D’Andre Swift, Justin Jefferson) had ownership over 5%. Thus, there literally wasn’t a qualified helicopter winner last week.

Well, that’s stupid. I’m not here to make life easy on myself, but the goal is to identify low-owned studs with tournament-winning potential. Clearly any of Jones, Swift and Jefferson would’ve been fantastic players to have in tournaments last week, even if their projected ownership was a bit above 5%.

For this reason, the new criteria is as follows: non-top-five salary, projected ownership under 10% and upside for triple-digit yards and multiple TDs. We’re looking for low-owned studs with tournament-winning potential:

  • Justin Herbert ($6,400): talented rookie meeting his easiest matchup yet with a healthy crop of receivers.
  • Mike Davis ($6,600): most-used back in the league on a per-snap basis can thrive regardless of the game script.
  • David Johnson ($5,300): overdue for positive TD regression against league’s single-worst defense in PPR per game allowed to the RB position.
  • D.J. Moore ($5,600) and Robby Anderson ($6,000): *both* Panthers WRs rank among the position’s top-15 WRs in target share and air-yard share alike.

Thanks for reading and best of luck to everyone in Week 7!

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