DFS Three And Out 2019 week 1
Three DFS players I'm investing heavily in for tournament (GPP) play this week. ... And one I'm not.
Lamar Jackson, QB, Baltimore Ravens By all accounts, Jackson, heading into his second season, has improved as a passer, but his explosive running ability adds a dimension that makes him even more difficult to defend. How explosive is that ability? ESPN.com's Jamison Hensley suggested earlier this week that Jackson will set the NFL record for most rushing yards by a QB in a single season. Hensley explained, "Using his electric speed and elusive moves, Jackson will surpass his childhood idol Michael Vick, who is the only quarterback to run for more than 1,000 yards in a season (he did so in 2006). Jackson will also become the ninth quarterback to score double-digit rushing touchdowns. ..." I don't think this is an outlandish take. I also think the roll begins this week. While I'm aware the Dolphins have a new coaching staff -- one that has almost certainly spent considerable time and energy watching film of and game-planning to stop Jackson, Miami's recent history and personnel say that will be difficult. Hensley's ESPN colleague, Tristan Cockroft reminded reader the Dolphins faced Josh Allen, a mobile, division-rival quarterback, twice last season, and in those games Allen totaled 230 yards and two touchdowns on 18 rushing attempts. Given all this, I'm buying tournament shares of Jackson at what seems to be very reasonable prices ($7,400 on FanDuel; $6,000 on DraftKings). One concern here? With Vegas projecting a 37.5-point total, Baltimore's implied total of 22 points isn't ideal. Still, Jackson's rushing ability, the updated scheme designed to maximize his ability, the additional playmakers surrounding him, the matchup and the price will keep me on board.
Dalvin Cook, RB Minnesota Vikings Healthy. Cook is healthy. And that's worth something, because when Cook is right, he's a threat to take it to the house every single time he touches the ball. He demonstrated that in the Vikings' third preseason game. On his fifth and final snap, Cook broke free on an 85-yard touchdown run against the Cardinals. Big-play moments like that have been routine because throughout much of his career. And they will continue to be if he stays healthy. And right now he is. ... But it's better than that. Minnesota shuffled its offensive staff this offseason to create a scheme centered on achieving balance. They didn't want to just bring out the best in quarterback Kirk Cousins, but also build an offense around Cook. As ESPN.com's Courtney Cronin pointed out, in new assistant head coach Gary Kubiak's zone scheme, which offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski will run in Minnesota, aligns with Cook's strengths: Unique vision, patience and acceleration into the second level to generate explosive plays. His preseason TD run was a prime example. With the entire offensive line blocking in one direction, Cook used his vision to strike at the right moment, hitting a cutback lane to split his defenders and break free into the open field. But we shouldn't overlook Cook's receiving ability. He's caught at least three passes in nine of his past 11 games. Nor should we ignore the matchup. As ESPN's Matthew Berry pointed out, Atlanta has allowed the most running back receptions in the league four years in a row. I'm also not ignoring the price ($7,400 on FanDuel; $6,000 on DraftKings). It's pretty reasonable given the high-end play-making ability it's buying you.
Albert Wilson, WR, Miami Dolphins Before I get too far, be careful here. I'll stipulate that Wilson, coming off a hip injury that ended his 2018 season early, is working on a limited basis through the first two days of practice this week. That said, I fully expect him to play against the Ravens this weekend. I also expect him to spend a lot of time in the slot. Here's why the slot role is important in this offense: Per Pro Football Focus' Scott Barrett, over the past decade, QB Ryan Fitzpatrick has targeted a wide receiver running a route from the slot on 26.4 percent of his total passing attempts. That leads all 65 quarterbacks with at least 600 pass attempts over this span and is well above the league-average rate of 19.9 percent. And as the Miami Herald suggested, Wilson should thrive in that role. Last season, in his seven games before the injury, Wilson averaged 13.3 yards after catch per reception, which ranked first of 97 qualifying receivers. Among the 150 NFL receivers with at least 150 passes thrown to them since Wilson entered the league in 2014, Wilson leads all of them in yards after catch per reception (7.78). I'll also remind you that Fitzpatrick is one year removed from becoming the first QB in NFL history to throw for 400-plus yards in the first three games of a season last year in Tampa. So clearly, he's capable of getting hot. Better still, Fantasy Pro's Mike Tagliere expects Wilson to see plenty of 33-year old Ravens cornerback Brandon Carr in this one. Per Tagliere, on 20 targets while covering the slot, Carr allowed 13 catches for 180 yards. Of course, price matters as well. And Wilson ($5,000 on FanDuel; $3,900 on DraftKings) is dirt cheap.
Please Note: It’s Week 1. Volatility will be the norm, so don’t be afraid to try to take advantage of that with cheap dart tosses. Wilson is one. There are others. The Redskins’ Paul Richardson (vs. Philadelphia) and Jacksonville’s Chris Conley (vs. KC) are some examples of wideouts at or near minimum salaries who are well-positioned (in terms of matchups) to produce. You might like others. Whatever the case, go ahead and get jiggy wit it. Now is the time.
Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Dallas Cowboys Elliott is back in the mix after inking a six-year, $90 million contract extension. He returned on Wednesday and has practiced without any reported difficulty since. All involved have been impressed with his level of conditioning. Still, nobody can tell us whether or not the running back will be on a pitch count Sunday. "I think it's too early for any of that," head coach Jason Garrett said. Add Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones to the list of those unwilling to guess what kind of workload Elliott will have against the Giants. So far, the only specific report we have gotten on Zeke's potential workload came from NFL Network's Jane Slater, who suggested on Wednesday that he is slated for 20-25 "reps." Does that mean carries or even touches? Seems unlikely. Snaps? That's not a lot. The bottom line here says it seems like a reach to expect a full workload. The problem for me is, you're paying for a full workload ($9,100 on FanDuel; $9,200 on DraftKings). Look, it's a great matchup (as Tagliere notes, the Giants allowed 11 running backs to finish as top-18 options last year) and Elliott could well smash. But so can Cook. Others too -- all but one of whom (Giants RB Saquon Barkley on FanDuel) will cost you less than Zeke.