Congratulations, you survived Week 3. Last week was one of the strangest in 2022. We expect Week 1 to be challenging, but by Week 3, things tend to balance out and become easier to predict. But when we think we know what’s going to happen, football can throw us for a loop. Unfortunately, this is the nature of the NFL, and that impacts our fantasy and NFL DFS Week 4 lineups.
Two brief examples of how strange the week was: First, I lost my home league matchup with a lineup that included Josh Allen, Austin Ekeler, Saquon Barkley, Justin Jefferson, Jaylen Waddle, and Micah Parsons. A team like that would typically dominate and often does.
Secondly, I had a winning three-person DraftKings Best Ball lineup score 70 points worse than I averaged over the first two weeks.
Here’s how wild Week 3 was
I have a DraftKings Best Ball 3-player sit and go, where I averaged 250 points weeks 1 and 2
In Week 3 I scored the most points with 180, the third place team was at 110
Better days are ahead
— Austin Amandolia (@Austin_FFL) September 27, 2022
So what are we going to do this week?
First off, we’re not going to panic. Don’t go trying to make up any cash you lost this past week by entering extra lineups this week or by trying riskier lineups that you typically wouldn’t attempt. Let’s all take a deep breath together and move forward. And hey, if you need a week off to give yourself the space to come back with a cool head, do it. Just be sure to come back to this column when you return.
This is the nature of DFS. Some weeks we will hit and feel great about the money we made. Others, we’ll lose. It’s inevitable. But how we manage that process will determine both if we continue having fun and our long-term return.
Secondly, we’re going to revisit the mix of contests we enter. For this, I’d like to credit Kyle Borgognoni and Matthew Betz with The Fantasy Footballers, who discussed this in a recent podcast. They addressed the balance of entering head-to-head matchups compared to 50/50 lineups.
In particular, you should consider entering more head-to-head matchups than 50/50 lineups. To understand why, let’s pretend you entered a 20-person 50/50 contest. Imagine you finish 11th, just under the cash line. You still beat nine other people, meaning those are nine people you could have defeated in a head-to-head matchup.
Essentially, the increased variance in head-to-head matchups increases the likelihood that you will come out on top, even if you have an underperforming lineup. With that in mind, I’m going to enter more head-to-head matchups than 50/50 contests. By doing so, I provide myself some insurance when my lineups miss, without compromising my ceiling.
For a real-world example, most of my lineups had Dalvin Cook or David Montgomery last week, which became very challenging once they got hurt. But because I diversified my contest mix, I won 50% of my head-to-head matchups while only placing in 33% of my 50/50 lineups. Those head-to-head wins helped me break even on the week, despite struggling in my 50/50 lineups. So while you ultimately have to decide what works best for your bankroll, I’m aiming to have two to three head-to-head lineups for every 50/50 contest I enter.
Again, don’t stress if last week was rough. Let’s take our lessons from it and press forward. And I’ll be here to share my learned lessons and talk through lineup options. As always, my DMs are open for feedback and questions on Twitter and Instagram.
Cash is in session.
Editor’s Note: Depending on when you are reading this, you may notice the lack of graphics this week. Our staff was affected by the hurricane, and we will add them when we are able to do so.
NFL DFS Week 4
Jalen Hurts (DraftKings: $8,200 / FanDuel: $8,600)
I partially included Jalen Hurts in this section just to talk about how great he has been to start the season. The biggest question about Hurts entering the season was his growth as a passer. And wow, has he delivered!
He has thrown for over 300 passing yards twice through three weeks, hitting the DraftKings bonus. And while he went against some of the bottom defenses in the league, I have no reason to believe his performance will regress this week. Plus, Philadelphia has a 27.5 implied point total, and Hurts could frankly be responsible for all of them.
I would consider paying up for one of the top three quarterbacks this week. While I’ll provide my favorite cheaper options later, I’m not a huge fan of the main slate outside of Hurts, Josh Allen, and Lamar Jackson. Hurts happens to be my favorite because I like the matchup the most, but you can’t go wrong with any of the top three.
Aaron Rodgers (DraftKings: $6,300 / FanDuel: $7,400)
Not willing to pay up for Hurts, Allen, or Jackson? Consider riding with Aaron Rodgers. I know it’s been a rough start to the season, but I think this impacts teams not starting their starters more during the preseason. So let’s throw out that Week 1 performance, just like we did with Rodgers last year. In the previous two games, he has averaged 17.2 DraftKings points, just below the 3x return on value we aim to achieve.
Further, he gets a matchup against a New England defense that has given up the 10th-most points to opposing quarterbacks since Week 14 of 2021 and the fourth most this season. The Packers have a 25 implied point total, and I’m not worried about the game script in this matchup, as Green Bay needs to continue working out its offense. So look for Rodgers as a safe floor play this week.
Khalil Herbert (DraftKings: $5,700 / FanDuel: $7,200)
The Chicago Bears backfield will be closely watched this week as we await confirmation on the extent of David Montgomery’s injury. Montgomery sat out Wednesday and Thursday practice. If he is out, I’m firing up Khalil Herbert. But if he plays, I’m avoiding this backfield for the week. I believe Chicago will return to utilizing Montgomery as they did after his injury last year, but I want to be certain before placing him in a lineup.
If Herbert is the clear starter on Sunday, here’s what you need to know. The New York Giants just gave up a combined 170 rushing yards to the Dallas Cowboys and have given up the ninth most points to running backs since Week 14 of last season. Also, the Bears absolutely refuse to pass the ball, so you can feel sure about Herbert’s usage (again, assuming Montgomery is out). I don’t like Herbert as much on FanDuel, but he is definitely a DraftKings target.
Other considerations to pay down if Herbert doesn’t start include Dameon Pierce, Michael Carter, and Rhamondre Stevenson.
James Robinson (DraftKings: $6,400 / FanDuel: $7,800)
James Robinson has been back with a vengeance this season, and I’m loving it. He has the third-most DraftKings points through three weeks of the season. There are two potential concerns with Robinson, neither of which bother me.
The first is the obvious issue of Travis Etienne. However, Etienne only out-snapped Robinson in Week 1, when both players made their first start since returning from injury (Fantasy Data). Since then, Robinson has been the clear lead back.
Second, they face the Philadelphia Eagles this week, arguably the best team in the NFC through three weeks. But I’m betting on Jacksonville in this one. I think this offense is clicking, and they keep it close enough for Robinson not to get game-scripted out. Notably, the Eagles have given up the second-most points to running backs since Week 14 of 2021 and the ninth most this season. FanDuel is clearly giving him more respect than DraftKings, so you could consider looking elsewhere on FanDuel.
Michael Pittman (DraftKings: $7,200 / FanDuel: $7,500)
If you’re not paying up for Stefon Diggs this week, consider Michael Pittman instead. He is WR22 in DraftKings scoring despite only playing two games and has at least a 25% target share in each game he has started (Fantasy Data). The Tennessee Titans have given up the seventh-most points to receivers since Week 14 of last season and the fifth-most this season. Pittman will continue being a focal point of this offense and is a lineup lock.
T.J. Hockenson (DraftKings: $4,100 / FanDuel: $5,400)
This is a tough week for tight ends. The typical decision I’m making at tight end is whether to pay up or to pay down. But this week, we have no Travis Kelce on the slate, and Mark Andrews goes up against one of the best defenses in the NFL. Additionally, I want to pay up at receiver because I dislike a lot of the matchups we’re getting, so I’m not going to pay up at tight end as well.
But I also dislike the major punt plays. Most of the value tight ends are in systems that have favored heavy, tight end sets, allowing multiple tight ends to get targets, or they have poor matchups. I’m also interested in Tyler Conklin but feel nervous about C.J. Uzomah potentially returning this week.
T.J. Hockenson is here to save us this week, going up against the Seattle Seahawks, who give up the 11th most points to tight ends since Week 14 of 2021. Additionally, Hockenson has averaged six targets per game and would look better on the season if it wasn’t for an unusually low catch rate.
Check the Chalkboard
Saquon Barkley (DraftKings: $8,000 / FanDuel: $8,100)
We finally have the return of Saquon Barkley. Not only has he been efficient, but the New York Giants are leaning on him to make their team successful. Barkley leads running backs in snaps per game and is fourth in target share (Fantasy Data).
He matches up against the Chicago Bear, who are admittedly average against running backs, ranking 15th since Week 14 of last season. That said, they’ve averaged 22.5 points per game allowed during that span. With Barkley getting almost all of those snaps, he can easily get 20+ points, providing your lineup a solid floor to hit the cash line.
Romeo Doubs (DraftKings: $4,500 / FanDuel: $5,900)
This week is filled with tough matchups, particularly for receivers, so I will most likely pay up at receiver and save money elsewhere. But if I’m looking for value, I’m looking for Romeo Doubs. Yes, part of this is buying into the hype.
But also, see everything I just wrote about Aaron Rodgers. This Green Bay offense is finding its footing after a slow start to the season, and Doubs is coming off a 21.3-point week in DraftKings, scoring against a tough Tampa Bay defense. He had his highest snap share on the season, playing 89% of the snaps (Fantasy Data). Lastly, he caught all eight of his targets last week and gets a New England defense that just gave up four passing touchdowns to Lamar Jackson.
I’d also like to shout out to Greg Dortch, who almost made this segment in consecutive weeks. Additionally, if Keenan Allen is out, I’m looking to add Josh Palmer to a few lineups.
Back of the Classroom Studs
Before you set your lineups, be sure to check out Austin and Ryan’s weekly rankings!
Jared Goff (DraftKings: $5,900 / FanDuel: $7,600)
This is an interesting place to discuss the disparity between DraftKings and FanDuel pricing. With DraftKings offering a $50,000 budget and FanDuel a $60,000 budget, if the two sites agree on a player value, they should be priced 20% more on FanDuel than DraftKings. So for Jared Goff, that would mean he should be valued at $7,100 on FanDuel, given the DraftKings pricing.
Similar to comparing ADP between websites during preseason drafts, comparing disparities between DFS sites can provide important context regarding potential value. In the case of Goff, DraftKings thinks he’s poised for a mid-to-low-tier performance this week, whereas FanDuel projects him amongst the top quarterbacks. With Detroit projected to score 27 points based on the betting lines, I like Jared Goff as a solid cash play this week, particularly on DraftKings. On FanDuel, I’d instead go with Rodgers or Hurts but would understand a Goff-led lineup.
Austin Ekeler (DraftKings: $7,700 / FanDuel: $8,400)
I know, I know. Austin Ekeler has been disappointing to start the season. Despite that, he is still RB13 on the season in DraftKings scoring. He has done so without scoring a touchdown through three games. He also leads all running backs in targets. Needless to say, I’m holding strong with Ekeler, particularly against the Houston Texans. They have given up the fifth most points since Week 14 of last season and the third most this season. Time for a bounceback week. Bolt up!
Tyler Lockett (DraftKings: $5,900 / FanDuel: $6,900)
No surprise here. I am targeting a favorable matchup against the Detroit Lions. Mark that on your A List bingo cards. Before the season started, I had Tyler Lockett ranked ahead of DK Metcalf simply because Lockett was targeted more last season with Geno Smith at quarterback.
I’ve officially flipped Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf in my rankings to have Lockett ahead
Small sample size but in three games with Geno as the starter:
Lockett: 30% target share
Rest of season
— Austin Amandolia (@Austin_FFL) August 14, 2022
That has proven true to start the season, with Lockett bringing in 26 targets to Metcalf’s 25. And while that’s not a significant margin, the disparity has increased in the past two weeks, with Lockett recording three more targets than Metcalf over the past two weeks. Additionally, Lockett is averaging almost three more DraftKings points per game, yet Metcalf is priced nearly $1,000 more this week. As a result, I’m targeting the value and starting Lockett.
CeeDee Lamb (DraftKings: $6,700 / FanDuel: $6,800)
I was wrong about Cooper Rush. I thought he would be a dump-off machine, favoring Dallas tight ends and running backs. But he has managed to feed CeeDee Lamb, despite Lamb having a memorable drop on Monday Night Football. Lamb has 23 targets, 162 yards, and a touchdown in two weeks with Rush at quarterback. This week, he goes up against a Washington secondary that is giving up the third-most points to opposing receivers. Lamb is too cheap, given the volume, especially on FanDuel.
Dallas Goedert (DraftKings: $4,500 / FanDuel: $6,200)
Remember how I mentioned how much I dislike the options at tight end this week? Well, Dallas Goedert is one of the few options I’m willing to explore. The Jacksonville Jaguars are surprisingly good against tight ends, giving up the seventh fewest points to the position this season. But they also haven’t faced any tight ends that scare me. Meanwhile, Goedert is averaging nearly five targets and 56 yards per game.
Dallas Cowboys (DraftKings: $3,500 / FanDuel: $4,700)
I’m willing to pay up a bit at defense this week, and the Cowboys have the perfect matchup this week, given their strengths. Through Week 3, Dallas leads the league in sacks, and Washington just gave up an absurd amount of sacks against the Eagles. Plus, Carson Wentz is known to be a risk for interceptions.
Pittsburgh Steelers (DraftKings: $3,600 / FanDuel: $4,800)
The Steelers get the New York Jets this week at home. Additionally, the Jets have several injuries on the offensive line, giving Pittsburgh more opportunities to pin their ears back and record some sacks. This is poised to be a low-scoring affair, so I’ll take my eight to ten points and call it a day.
The great thing about cash lineups is we can score some Bs and still have a successful lineup. Last week was a hit-or-miss week, with plenty of As and Cs and a few Bs scattered throughout. Overall, we scored a B in DraftKings and a C in FanDuel through three weeks. And while it’s not helpful to dwell on “what if,” – Khalil Herbert and Alexander Mattison demonstrated that the process was correct on our picks. If Montgomery and Cook had finished their games, last week could have gone even better.
- A: Scored over three times their price
- B: Scored over two times their price
- C: Matched their price
- F: Scored lower than their price
|Irv Smith Jr||$3,100||5.2||C|
|New York Jets||$2,400||4||C|
|Las Vegas Raiders||$2,500||3||C|
*Left early due to injury
|Irv Smith Jr||$5,000||4.2||F|
|New York Jets||$3,700||4||C|
|Las Vegas Raiders||$3,400||3||F|
*Left early due to injury
Looking for the DFS plays with the best possible matchups? Our Weekly Matchup Report gives you that info every Wednesday.