FanDuel NFL GPP Lineup Advice: Week 9
This week’s FanDuel GPP lineup is loaded with studs. The backfield features a pair of explosive, do-it-all sophomores. Receiver is headlined by the hottest wideout on the planet. There’s a high-powered quarterback/receiver stack that’s quite affordable. Rounding things out are a pair of rookie receivers, a second-year tight end in a premium bounce-back spot, and a defense that’s licking its chops in anticipation of facing a prolific turnover-machine who’s been forced back into starting duties at quarterback.
Ryan Fitzpatrick (TB): $7,100 at Panthers
Fitzmagic opened the year on fire with three games passing for 400-plus yards and three or more touchdowns. Sure, he had some hiccups in that third game versus Pittsburgh in which he tossed three interceptions, but the good outweighed the bad — especially from a fantasy perspective. Then, he struggled mightily in Chicago against a Bears squad with a healthy Khalil Mack. He was benched in Tampa Bay’s blowout loss, but Jameis Winston has since coughed the job back up to Fitzpatrick. Last week, he shined in carving up the Bengals for 194 yards and two touchdown passes after entering the game down by 18 with just a couple minutes remaining in the third quarter. He actually drew the Bucs back to even with the Bengals before they answered with a game-winning field goal. The journeyman quarterback has been a perfect fit for offensive coordinator Todd Monken’s offense. According to NFL.com’s Next Gen Stats, Fitz and Winston are tied for the highest Average Intended Air Yards (IAY) at 10.9 IAY. While both are airing it out farther than all other qualified quarterbacks, only one of them has done an efficient job of making the deep strikes work. Fitz ranks atop the Average Completed Air Yards (CAY) leaderboard with 10.3 CAY, ahead of Winston (8.5 CAY). The contrast between the two is best illustrated by the Average Air Yards Differential (AYD). Fitz’s -0.6 AYD is the lowest among all qualified quarterbacks, in front of studs Drew Brees (-1 AYD), Russell Wilson (-1.3 AYD), Kirk Cousins (-1.4 AYD), and Jared Goff (-1.5 AYD). The Bucs’ defense is dreadful, and Tampa Bay is a seven-point underdog in Carolina, per Pinnacle, so the onus will be on the offense to keep pace. Game script should lead to Fitzpatrick airing it out early and often, and he and the Bucs have a solid but unspectacular team over/under total of 23.5 points. The matchup looks favorable for the passing attack, too. Football Outsiders (FO) ranks the Panthers 20th defending the pass.
Alvin Kamara (NO): $8,000 vs. Rams
Arguably the most highly-anticipated game of the week is the Saints versus the Rams. What can’t be argued is that the contest has the highest over/under total of the week at an NCAA football-like 60 points with the Saints favored by two. Prior to the Saints’ Week 6 bye, Mark Ingram returned from suspension and had a blow-up game in prime time against the Redskins on Monday Night Football. In that contest, Kamara touched the ball only nine times for 39 yards. The explosive second-year back who came out of the gates on fire this season was a fantasy dud that week, but he’s gotten back on track in two games since the bye. He’s touched the ball 19 times (17 carries and two receptions) and 20 times (13 carries and seven receptions) over the last two games, amassing 109 yards rushing, two rushing touchdowns, 42 yards receiving, and one receiving touchdown. Suffice to say, he’s recaptured an integral role in the offense. Last year, Kamara torched the Rams for a 6-101-1 receiving line and 87 yards and one touchdown rush on five carries. As great as the Rams have been as the NFL’s last undefeated team, they haven’t been a shut down run defense ranking 25th defending the run, per FO. I’ll take the $3,200 discount spinning down from Gurley to Kamara as my RB1 this week.
Christian McCaffrey (CAR): $7,900 vs. Buccaneers
Kamara’s joined by another high-upside, second-year back in a plus matchup. FO ranks the Bucs 15th defending the run, but they rank them just 29th defending backs in the passing game. McCaffrey obviously excels as a receiver and should be a thorn in the side of the Bucs in that regard. The eighth pick in the 2017 NFL Draft has also made great strides as a runner in his second season. He’s averaging 60.4 yards rushing per game at 4.6 yards per carry after averaging only 27.2 rushing yards per game at 3.7 yards per carry last year. A big part of the reason for his success this year has been the success of his offensive line. FO ranks the Panthers eighth in Adjusted Line Yards. Last season, the Panthers ranked 25th in Adjusted Line Yards. In Fitzpatrick’s write-up above I noted that the Bucs are seven-point underdogs in Carolina. While McCaffrey is game-script proof thanks to his well-rounded skill-set, he could see an uptick in work as a runner in this contest if the game goes according to the betting line. He’s touched the ball 13 times or more in all seven games this year and has bested 15 touches five times. I like his odds of making it six times north of 15 touches after Sunday’s contest.
Adam Thielen (MIN): $8,900 vs. Lions
I’ll keep it short and sweet with Thielen. He’s cleared 100 yards receiving in all eight games this year and has scored a touchdown in five straight games and six of eight. He’s caught six or more balls in every game and reached double-digit receptions three times already this year. He’s locked in, and he’s not difficult to squeeze onto rosters. I’ll let others fade him at their own peril.
DeSean Jackson (TB): $6,600 at Panthers
D-Jax wasn’t dealt before the NFL’s trade deadline at 4 PM ET Tuesday despite reportedly requesting to be dealt. A lack of chemistry with Winston was apparently one motivating factor for Jackson requesting a trade, but he has no chemistry issues with Fitz. According to RotoViz’s Game Splits Tool, Jackson has posted per game averages of 6.4 targets, 3.2 receptions, 52 receiving yards, and 0.2 touchdown receptions in 15 games with Winston. In 13 games with Fitz, those numbers skyrocket to 6.69 targets, 4.38 receptions, 70.15 yards, and 0.54 receiving touchdowns per game. D-Jax ranks second among qualified players in Average Targeted Air Yards (TAY) at 19.2 TAY, so it’s not really shocking to see he’s played much better with the better deep-ball thrower. As I noted in Fitz’s write-up above, FO ranks the Panthers just 20th defending the pass, so it should be a favorable matchup for the stack. Furthermore, Carolina ranks fourth defending No. 1 receivers and only 17th defending No. 2 receivers, per FO.
Courtland Sutton (DEN): $5,500 vs. Texans
The aforementioned D-Jax wasn’t dealt before the trade deadline, but Sutton’s former teammate Demaryius Thomas was. Oddly enough, DT was dealt to Denver’s visiting opponent this week, the Texans. The departed veteran wideout ranked second on the Broncos in targets (56), receptions (36), and receiving yards (402) while tying for first in touchdown receptions (three). Sutton stands to benefit from that vacated production, and the rookie receiver has already flashed chemistry with Case Keenum this year ranking third on the team in targets (37) and receiving yards (324) while averaging a robust 19.1 yards per reception with two touchdown grabs. Those two touchdown grabs have come in the last four games, and he’s coming off of a career-high 78 yards receiving last week. Sutton’s going to be super chalky at his cheap salary with an increased role in Denver’s offense, but it’s important to remember you don’t have to be contrarian at every roster spot in order to shoot to the top of a GPP.
David Njoku (CLE): $5,200 vs. Chiefs
I matched Njoku’s target number last week, and I watched the NFL contests last week from the comfort of my couch. That’s not good. Prior to his disastrous outing against the Steelers, though, he’d caught at least four passes and bested 50 yards receiving in all four of Baker Mayfield’s starts. Hell, he’d even entered last week’s game with back-to-back games scoring a touchdown. He’ll look to rebound in a prime bounce-back spot against a Chiefs defense that’s surrendered the fifth-most FanDuel points per game to tight ends this year. FO ranks Kansas City just 27th defending tight ends. The Browns are 8.5-point underdogs against the high-powered offense of the Chiefs, and with Cleveland likely playing catch up much of the day this Sunday, there should be plenty of opportunities for Njoku to make up for last week’s clunker.
Tre’Quan Smith (NO): $5,100 vs. Rams
Smith already demonstrated his massive weekly upside once in New Orleans this year with a 3-111-2 line against the Redskins in Week 5. That game was at home, and Drew Brees has performed considerably better in New Orleans than on the road in his career. The Saints are back home this week after back-to-back road tilts since Smith’s eruption, and he’s in a great spot for another electric effort. One reason I’m bullish on Smith’s stock this week is the matchup with the Rams. No team has coughed up more 40-plus yard passes than the 10 the Rams have allowed, per NFL.com. They’re also tied for the third most 20-plus yard receptions with 32. The Rams’ susceptibility to getting hit with big passes is especially encouraging for Smith’s outlook this week. Ian Hartitz of Fantasy Labs and The Action Network pointed out on Twitter that Smiths’ five deep-ball targets (20-plus yard targets) are one more than Michael Thomas‘ four. One long touchdown grab would be plenty for Smith to provide value at his modest salary, but the upside is there for a bigger effort than that.
Bears (CHI): $5,400 at Bills
The Bears D/ST is $700 more than the second highest priced defense. Of course, the Bears are the only team facing Nathan Peterman. The second-year quarterback has thrown an interception on 11.1% of his passes attempted. The Bills might be better served running the Wild Cat for the entirety of the game against the Bears rather than letting Peterman attempt any passes (I’m only half kidding). The host Bills have a team over/under total of only 13.5 points and are playing on a short week after getting punched in the mouth by the Patriots on Monday night. Khalil Mack missed last week’s game versus the Jets, but he could be back this week. If that’s the case, he’d elevate Chicago’s D/ST’s scoring upside in a game that’s not far from where he played his college ball for the University of Buffalo. Even if Mack is inactive again this week, I’ll be firing up the Bears at defense against Buffalo’s pathetic offense. I mean, the Bills made New England’s mediocre to below-average defense look good last week.