Mason Rudolph – PIT ($4800)
Your chances of fantasy success with a bottom priced QB aren’t great, but there are decent odds that Rudolph outplays his price and even a glimmer of hope that one of the league’s better backups becomes an excellent starter. If the latter comes true, you basically have this week and this week only to take advantage of that possibility. Priced as the 31st most expensive QB on DraftKings, he’s almost as cheap as you can go, but a far cry better than Carolina’s Kyle Allen and Miami’s Josh Rosen, particularly because of the situation is better. Although one-score dogs, Pittsburgh doesn’t have a particularly bad matchup. San Francisco is on the stingier side allowing DK points to QBs, but Pittsburgh retains one of the best offensive lines in the league with talented skill positions. Rudolph played admirably coming in cold off the bench, and now he just may shine.
Jameis Winston – TB ($5400)
I’ll have my share of more expensive QBs, but if I need to save money and want decent security, I’ll look Winston’s way, who is playing the Giants at home as one-score favorites. Winston has been atrocious as a fantasy QB so far, but price-drops and a good matchup give owners the opportunity to buy low. We know Winston’s potential and this game is projected to be one of the higher-scoring games. With over 93 passes already thrown in two games, Winston is bound to produce more than he has. He has had top-five opportunity, now he just needs to convert that to playable fantasy production.
Ezekiel Elliott – DAL ($8900)
Zeke is bound to be one of the top owned plays this week, but that doesn’t give you reason to shy away. Take him both for his high floor and stratospheric ceiling as this game opened with a three-score line in favor of the Cowboys. Winning teams produce winning RBs. Dominant teams produce dominant RBs. We’ve only been through two games, but it’s clear that Miami is in trouble and is currently giving up the second-most DK points to RBs.
Todd Gurley – LAR ($6700)
This is a good week all around to spend up on RBs and it’s possible I’ll submit lineups with two RBs priced over $7000, though that does make the deeper positions much more difficult to hit. If you want to stay near the top and spend down a little, you should swing for Gurley who will not draw nearly the same ownership as the names around him. 2019 Gurley looks a lot worse than 2018, but he’s not necessarily playing bad football. His total snap share is down, but a lot of his fantasy opportunity was lost to Malcolm Brown on the goal line. This matchup against the Browns will be one of the higher scoring and leans slightly in favor of the visiting Rams. The Browns have given up over 34 DK points per game to RBs and I think the TD luck starts swinging back around.
Frank Gore – BUF ($4400)
An ideal price for a flex spot, the news of Devin Singletary’s injury could provide loads of opportunity for Gore on the ground against the year’s worst team against RBs, who are surrendering seven more points per game to RBs than the next worst team. Buffalo doesn’t exactly inspire fear in the enemy, but Cincinnati is hot garbage and Buffalo is favored by an ideal six points.
Other Targets: Philip Lindsay ($4300) has been quiet, but Dalvin Cook torched the GB defense a week ago in a loss. LeSean McCoy ($5000) could absolutely eat now that Damien Williams is out. Miles Sanders ($3900) is scoreless on the year and has scored about 73% of the points players with similar opportunity have; if he finds his first TD, he’ll pay off easy. Sony Michel ($6000) The Patriots are going to win big; ‘Nuff said.
JuJu Smith-Schuster – PIT ($6900)
Owners are going to shy away from Smith-Schuster this week and for fairly good reason. Normally I chase the defense of a team playing an unproven quarterback, but I’m switching gears this game to expose myself to a low-ownership play with high potential. I’ll admit that Smith-Schuster has had disappointing opportunity and efficiency compared to our expectations, but when Rudolph came out, the game changed. While it’s definitely not safe to say that Rudolph is better than Roethlisberger, he did play better last week with slightly better than pedestrian numbers. Not coming off the bench cold, Rudolph has had the opportunity to prepare and he’s honestly one of the better backup QBs in the league. Although the situation is not particularly similar, I’m reminded of TY Hilton’s November 5th, 2017 game against the Texans in which backup Brissett targeted Hilton nine times for 175 yards and two TDs. Will Smith-Schuster pull that off? Not likely, but developing quarterbacks with the raw talent often single out the big names.
Allen Robinson – CHI ($5600)
Affordable as a WR2, Allen Robinson has been peppered with (errant) targets on the season. He hasn’t found the endzone and is coming off a bad week against one of the toughest pass defenses in the NFL, but he managed to put up a hundred-yard game against Green Bay, and if he can do that, he can put up another hundred AND score against the atrocious Washington defense who are giving up the most DK points per game to wide receivers. I’m not confident in this play for cash, however, as he could see shadow coverage from Josh Norman. The upside is huge for Robinson, but the floor is extremely high for the rest of the receivers. If you’re strapped for cash, feel free to flex Anthony Miller for $3800 instead.
Devin Smith – DAL ($3400)
You have to expose yourself to Cowboys and Patriots this week, as both are projected to win by three scores. Smith is more my pivot play away from Cobb and Cooper. Smith gets a bump up in opportunity with the injured Tavon Austin. We should be a little cautious with this play and steer clear in cash games. Smith only has three targets on the year yet he has three receptions, seventy-four yards, and a score. Yeah, those numbers are coming down, but efficiently play does tend to lead to more playing time. With one of the lowest playable prices, he’s a cheap dart throw that could pay off big in tournaments, although we have to expect fairly high ownership.
Other Targets: Mike Evans ($6600) hasn’t flashed anything in 2019, but the TD luck has swung the wrong way so far. Marquise Brown ($5900) has the opposite problem as Evans, but Lamar Jackson is legit elite and this is a plus matchup. Randall Cobb ($4600) Pay up a few dollars for more safety than Devin Smith.
Zach Ertz – PHI ($5700)
The number two tight end is $1400 cheaper than the number one. Kelce is amazing and often worth the price, but this is technically a discount for Ertz, especially considering his whopping twenty-three targets (ten more than Kittle, six more than Kelce). He’s never had the same nose for the endzone that other tight ends have, but his volume is absurd. He comes with both a high floor and a high ceiling. Although I’ve seen plenty of other industry endorsements for Ertz as a DFS play, I don’t think he’ll draw high ownership, especially when owners see the glaring red “4th” for opponent rank against tight ends. Yes, Detroit has not been kind to tight ends, but Ertz is a no brainer for solid production with a slight chance of explosive play. More of a cash pick.
Greg Olsen – CAR ($3700)
This could go south in a hurry without Cam Newton on Sunday, but nobody is allowing as many points to tight ends as Arizona and it’s NOT EVEN CLOSE. I’m not too worried about QB play in this one. While Christian McCaffrey’s skill, depth of target, and use as a safety valve for the inexperienced QB could draw targets away, Olsen should fulfill enough of that role to more than produce on what I discovered was about the optimal price for a “cheap” tight end. He won’t explode like Kelce, but double digits are possible and you can spend up on that second RB1.
Defense / Special Teams
New England Patriots – ($3800)
While I don’t expect a repeat of last week, on paper this is technically an easier matchup than Miami a week prior. No game is expected to swing so heavily in favor of one team than in this game, and they’re priced just a bit lower than the Cowboys (who will draw the highest D/ST ownership). The Jets are in… trouble… if you haven’t been paying attention to their QB situation. Capitalize on that.
Pittsburgh Steelers – ($2300)
I’ve discovered that one of the most successful D/ST strategies is to not listen to any expert because nobody really knows what’s going to happen. I’m not expecting the Steelers to have a big game or anything, but if you’re strapped for cash and want to scrape the bottom of the barrel, I think this is the best chance of a team on the bottom to eke out a win. See above on both Rudolph and Smith-Schuster and you’ll see why I think the Steelers can pull off a win, letting you capitalize on a play with about -1% ownership. Absolutely not for cash lineups.
Bonus: Cowboys ($4300) Especially if you’re playing Zeke and want a stack.
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