In this weekly piece we review a handful of inexpensive daily fantasy options, many of whom also happen to be available on most fantasy football league waiver wires.
The Weekly Player Rankings here at PlayerProfiler have Joe Flacco has a top-10 fantasy quarterback this week. We will start there our top streaming option at the position. After throwing a total of 85 passes over the last two weeks, Flacco returns home to face an Oakland Raiders team that will be traveling across the country for a 1:00 P.M. eastern start time. Prior to another poor showing from Marcus Mariota, the Silver and Black gave up a total of seven touchdowns to Drew Brees (423 yards) and Matt Ryan (396 yards) in Weeks 1 and 2. According to the Advanced Metrics currently be tracked by the PlayerProfiler Game Analyst Team, Raiders cornerback Sean Smith is struggling mightily after signing a big contract in the offseason. He’s second in receiving yards allowed and is the sixth-most targeted corner.
If Flacco is not available to you, Alex Smith is the next best streaming option that I’m considering. Smith will be traveling to Pittsburgh in a possible shootout against a Steelers team that plays significantly better at home and will likely have Kansas City pushing the pace. After averaging fewer than 30 pass attempts per game in 2015, Smith is averaging nearly 40 throws a contest through three contests. Kirk Cousins, Andy Dalton, and Carson Wentz each exceeded 300 passing yards in their recent dealings with Pittsburgh, a defense that has only managed one sack thus far.
A number of strong values this week will allow DFS players to pay all the way up for Cam Newton at the Falcons. Meanwhile, those looking to save a little bit at quarterback will often find themselves on Cousins hosting the Browns. To get contrarian I’m going all the way down to the minimum with Brian Hoyer. Jay Cutler (finger) was limited in Wednesday’s practice and sat out Thursday, leading one to assume he’s not going to start. Last week at Dallas, Hoyer came into the game in a relief capacity and completed 30 of 49 passes for 317 yards, highlighted by a pair of touchdowns to Zach Miller once the game was well out of hand. Hoyer is slated will host a Lions defense that surrendered four touchdowns to Andrew Luck in Week 1 and another four aerial scores to Aaron Rodgers last week. Hoyer will never be confused with either of those guys, but his rock bottom price and tasty matchup offers a nice floor with maximum salary relief to load up everywhere else.
It looks like Dez Bryant (knee) won’t make the trip to Santa Clara to face the San Francisco 49ers. His absence instantly puts all of the Dallas wide outs into the streamer conversation. Niners slot man Jimmie Ward (quadriceps) is unlikely to play which is even more good news for Cole Beasley, already the team leader in targets, receptions, and recieving yards. Meanwhile, Terrance Williams caught all four of his targets last week against the Bears for 88 yards, but put the ball on the ground after a 47-yard gainer. If you need to get real deep, check out Brice Butler. His Workout Metrics bar graph at Player Profiler pops off the page, as do the 19 total targets in the final two games of 2015. Site founder Matt Kelley foretold us of Butler’s possible relevance back in July. Listen below.
After abusing the Rams for 132 yards and a touchdown, Mike Evans saw his DraftKings salary drop a whopping $500 for a home game against the dreaded Denver Broncos defense. Aside from Kelvin Benjamin — another big, 6’5″ target — catching six passes for 91 yards and a touchdown in the opener, Denver has been pretty stout to opposing wide receivers. Evans’ 38 targets trails only Antonio Brown and his 40 looks in the pass game. Jameis Winston has thrown the ball 110 times over the last two weeks while trailing for much of those contests. That furious pace as Tampa Bay currently second in the fewest number of seconds per play, trailing only Chip Kelly’s 49ers per Football Outsiders. There are no concerns about opportunities for Evans here. Efficiency has been the issue for him: 50 percent catch rate last year, 55.3 percent this year. If Evans can use his size advantage against Denver like Benjamin did in Week 1, he’s capable of even bigger numbers en route to scoring for a fourth consecutive game.
Streaming a running back in Week 4 is looking like a tall order. However, Rashad Jennings (thumb) will be inactive for the New York Giants. That leaves Orleans Darkwa as the most likely early-down rusher while we see some Bobby Rainey action in passing situations. Darkwa is currently 25 percent owned on both Yahoo! and ESPN, while Rainey is universally free. Unfortunately, this matchup on the road against the Minnesota Vikings is really tough. Their defense is elite and they’ve kept running backs out of the end zone since DeMarco Murray caught a pair of scores in Week 1. You are simply hoping Darkwa gets the bulk of the carries and is able to fall across the goal line at some point.
The other streamer running back is actually a guy worth holding onto, and that’s Detroit Lions rookie Dwayne Washington. For his career, Theo Riddick has exactly 100 carries for exactly 300 yards for a woeful 3.0 yards per carry. Last week against the Green Bay Packers he managed just nine rushing yards on 10 carries, including a long of eight yards. Yikes! Washington’s 38 yards on 10 carries is not impressive by any means, but he’s making the case to get the grinder carries over Riddick while Ameer Abdullah (foot) remains out because Zach Zenner probably isn’t a thing. A 32nd percentile College Dominator Rating caused Washington to wait until the final round to get drafted, but his 76th percentile SPARQ-x Score does offer some optimism. Even though Lions aren’t suddenly going to become a run-first team, Washington should be on more rosters than the 30-something percent ownership levels on the major sites.
David Johnson and the returning Le’Veon Bell will be popular for those paying up at running back. However, the two backs priced right below them on both DraftKings and FanDuel are where I’m going in GPPs. First is Lamar Miller. He’s exceeded 20 carries in all three games, but has yet to score. After being embarrassed on national television by the New England Patriots on Thursday Night Football, Houston will get 10 days to prepare for the Tennessee Titans. On the surface, Tennessee looks pretty good against the run. However, last week the Oakland Raiders recorded a total of 122 rushing yards and a touchdown on 22 carries spread across their three running backs.
The next name is Ezekiel Elliott, whom I touted last week and he came close to an epic performance. Last week against the Chicago Bears, Elliott ripped off 140 yards on 30 carries yet lost out on all three short-range scoring opportunities. After shutting down Todd Gurley in the Week 1, both Fozzy Whittaker and Christine Michael took 100 or more rushing yards from the Niners defense.
A name I haven’t seen or heard being promoted anywhere is Spencer Ware, and I’m not sure why. For starters, he registered 75 yards on 20 carries last week and appeared score a touchdown before it was overturned and ruled a lost fumble. Jamaal Charles (knee) is getting closer to making his debut, although he’s remained limited in practice. Head coach Andy Reid has left the door open for Charles to return this week, but I can’t see that happening until Charles can practice in full. Charcandrick West (ankle) did not practice Thursday, leaving Ware with all the touches against a Steelers defense that just gave up a touchdown to three different Philadelphia Eagles running backs last week while routinely blown off the line of scrimmage. Pittsburgh always makes for a popular stacking option. I’ll be including Ware and Travis Kelce from the K.C. side in an all-out game stack for maximum correlation.
Finally we have LeGarrette Blount. This is New England’s last week without Tom Brady and Rex Ryan is joking about who the Patriots will have under center. His Bills defense has already given up 100 rushing yards and a hat trick to Matt Forte and couldn’t stop David Johnson even while routing the Arizona Cardinals last week. Meanwhile, Blount is currently leading the league with 75 rush attempts, 298 rushing yards, and tied for the lead with four touchdowns. I came into the week thinking Blount was a cash play, but the love for Melvin Gordon against the New Orleans Saints and some value plays that are making David Johnson available in cash are all things working to keep Blount under the radar. I fully expect Bill Belichick to use Blount as an extension of his middle finger as he runs the score up on Rex and Co.
Last year, the Saints were destroyed by opposing tight ends. Thus far they have not been, although the opposing tight ends haven’t exactly been formidable. That said, the Chargers will likely keep Antonio Gates (hamstring) out for a second straight week as they head into a Week 5 bye. Last week at Indy, rookie Hunter Henry caught all five of his targets for 72 yards prior to losing a fumble that halted San Diego’s final drive. The sports books have Saints/Chargers as the highest scoring game on the entire schedule, making Hunter a preferred tight end streamer.
Feel like tempting fade? I have no issues investing in Coby Fleener at tight end in DFS. He’s on the other side of this explosive matchup and comes at a reduced price on DK and FD after opening the season with two stinkers. San Diego has been generous to opposing tight ends, having just allowed a combined nine catches for 100 yards to the Colts tight end duo of Jack Doyle and Dwayne Allen. For what it’s worth, Drew Brees has been talking about his growing confidence in Fleener after recording 11 targets, seven catches, 109 yards, and one touchdown last week against the Falcons.