NFL DFS Fire and Ice-Week Four Picks

October 2, 2021

As we head into week four of the NFL season, I have decided to change the data used for making defensive points against analysis from 2020 stats to 2021. I struggled with this decision for fear that three games may not be a large enough sample size to establish trends for best and worst defenses vs each of the four skill positions(QB/RB/WR/TE)

The best team to serve as the poster boy for this concern is the Denver Broncos. In 2020, the Denver defense finished in the Top 13 in giving up the most fantasy points to quarterbacks, running backs, and tight ends. Through three weeks, the Broncos have given up the third-fewest points or better at each of these positions. While the defense may have improved, a schedule of @ the Giants, @ the Jags, and vs the Jets drastically skews numbers. I have attached a link to the 2021 points against below.

https://www.pro-football-reference.com/years/2021/fantasy-points-against-TE.htm

Review of Last Week’s Results:

Last week was another week of mixed results, with Justin Herbert and Chris Carson being my top two selections. Herbert was 26-of-38 for 281 yards and four touchdowns, while Carson had 12 carries for 80 yards and a touchdown. Including two catches for two yards, Carson amassed 16.2 PPR fantasy points. My best “ice selection” was Terry McLaurin, who had four catches for 62 yards. While my other ice selections( Tom Brady/Joe Mixon/Mark Andrews) accumulated massive yards on the day, Mixon and Andrews were held to 10.1 fantasy points and 15.9 points, respectively.

Fire Them UP!!

Quarterback:

Kirk Cousins, Vikings-$6400-vs Browns on the season, Cousins is currently the QB7. He has completed 88-of-119 pass attempts for 918 yards and eight touchdowns (with no interceptions). In Week 4, the Vikings host the Browns and are two point underdogs.

In 2020, the Browns gave up the eighth-most fantasy points to QBs (18th so far this year). With an exploitable matchup and an implied total of 25, look for Cousins to finish as a Top 10 quarterback in Week 4.

Running Back:

Miles Sanders, Eagles-$6400-vs Chiefs: Sanders looked very explosive in Week 3’s 41-21 loss to the Cowboys. The sole issue was volume, with only five total touches. Sanders rushed only twice for 27 yards and added three catches for 28 yards. The Eagles only ran 51 offensive plays (compared to Dallas’ 67), and Jalen Hurts was involved in 48 of them (including nine rushes).

In Week 4, the Eagles face the Chiefs. The Chiefs’ defense gave up the eighth-most fantasy points to RBs in 2020 (4th most this year). In an attempt to slow down the Chiefs’ offense, I look for Sanders to have at least 15 carries in this one. With the touches more prevalent, look for Sanders to be a Top 15 running back this week.

Wide Receiver:

D.J Moore, Panthers-$6600-@ Cowboys: Through three games, Moore has 22 catches (on 31 targets) for 285 yards and a touchdown. Since Christian McCaffrey (hamstring) will miss this week’s game, the onus will be on Sam Darnold and his receiving corps to score points in a projected high-scoring affair.

Facing a Cowboys’ defense that gave up the 12th-most fantasy points to WRs in 2020 (currently fifth in 2021), Moore is in line for another good game. With an implied total of 23, look for Moore to finish as a Top 10 wide receiver.

Tight End:

Logan Thomas, Washington-$4900-@ Falcons: On the season, Thomas has registered 12 catches (on 14 targets) for 117 yards and two scores. Thomas is facing a Falcons’ defense that gave up the third-most fantasy points to TEs in 2020 (seventh-most in 2021). While Thomas’s stat line has been somewhat pedestrian this year, DFS players should view him as a Top eight tight end for week four.

Colder than Ice:

Quarterback:
Ryan Tannehill, Titans- $6300 @ Jets: In the case of “does the current trend make historical sense”, the Jets are allowing the third fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks in 2021 (a year after they allowed the third most). This selection is based more on Tannehill’s year-to-date play (66-of-102 for 756 yards and four touchdowns) and the Titans’ injury report (both A.J Brown and Julio Jones are out). As seven-point road favorites, look for Derrick Henry to have 25 plus carries and Tannehill to finish outside of the Top 15 QBs.

Running Back:

Saquon Barkley, Giants-$6700-@ Saints: In Week 3, Barkley scored 21.4 fantasy points. While scoring a touchdown and hauling in six catches for 43 yards, he had another lackluster game on the ground (16 rushes for 51 yards). Barkley has now amassed a total of 34 rushes for 131 yards (3.4 YPC) on the season.

Facing a Saints’ defense that gave up the fewest fantasy points to RBs in 2020 (sixth-most in 2021), is not a great opportunity to improve those rushing numbers. With an implied total of only 17, Barkley should finish outside of the Top 15 running backs in week four.

Wide Receiver:

Amari Cooper, Cowboys-$6k-vs Panthers: After a monstrous performance in Week 1 at the Bucs (13 catches for 139 yards and two touchdowns), Cooper has struggled mightily over the last two weeks. He has combined for only six catches for 50 yards and no touchdowns. In Week 4, the Cowboys take on a Panthers’ defense that gave up the 12th-fewest fantasy points to WRs in 2020( 8th fewest in 2021). Despite an implied total of 27, look for Cooper to finish outside of the Top 20 WRs this week.

Tight End:

Tyler Higbee, Rams-$4600-vs Cards: On the season, Higbee has 11 catches (on 12 targets) for 116 yards and one touchdown. Higbee has had two five-catch games but was held to one catch for eight yards in Week 2 at the Colts. With the Cardinals’ defense allowing the sixth-fewest fantasy points to TEs in 2020 (fourth-fewest in 2021), this should prove to be a very difficult matchup. Fantasy owners should expect a dip in Higbee’s production this week.

Bargain Bin-Deep Tourney Plays

Quarterback:

Taylor Heinicke, Washington-$5900-@ Falcons: Although Heinicke’s passing stats (48-of-70 for 548 yards) over the last two games have not been chart toppers, he has provided a solid floor with two touchdown passes in each game. With the Falcons giving up the second-most fantasy points to QBs in 2020 (fifth-most in 2021), Heinicke faces a defense that can be taken advantage of. His price tag allows flexibility at other positions.

Running Back:

Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Chiefs-$5400-@ Eagles: After CEH’s game-changing fumble in Week 2, DraftKings dropped his price tag to a rock bottom $4900. Despite having 17 carries for 100 yards in week three, Edwards-Helaire still offers great value at this price tag. Facing the Eagles, who currently give up the 11th most fantasy points to RBs, will be another opportunity for CEH to have another big game. With an implied total of 31, look for him to far exceed the production that his RB22(DraftKings price) suggests.

Wide Receiver:

https://www.nbcsports.com/bayarea/49ers/kyle-shanahan-firmly-clarifies-brandon-aiyuks-situation-49ers

Brandon Aiyuk, 49ers-$5k-vs Seahawks: Partially due to a hamstring injury that occurred right before the final preseason game, Aiyuk has gotten off to a slow start. Through the first two weeks, he had played in only 47 and 54 percent of the plays, respectively. In Week 3, Aiyuk played in 86 percent of the snaps and had four catches (on six targets) for 37 yards and a touchdown.

In Week 4, the 49ers take on a Seahawks defense that allowed the 10th-most fantasy points to WRs (15th-most in 2021). With an implied total of 27, Aiyuk should finish as a top thirty wide receiver this week.

Tight End:

Dalton Schultz, Cowboys-$3400-vs Panthers: Schultz is currently the PPR TE5 on the season, and has recorded 14 catches (on 15 targets) for 143 yards and two touchdowns. Most importantly, Schultz has played in at least 69 percent of the snaps in all three games. Despite allowing the sixth-fewest fantasy points to TEs in 2021, this appears to be a potential anomaly for the Panthers (they allowed the eighth-most in 2020). With an implied total of 27, Schultz has the setup to be a Top 7 tight end this week. Considering he is priced as the TE16, this would provide great value for his DFS owners.

Stack of the Week:

Having used Cousins as my “Fire” quarterback, I won’t use the Cousins/Jefferson combo as the favorite stack. This stack, with a total cost of $13,700, should fully be in play this week and I have used it in several of my lineups. The one I will offer is Russell Wilson/D.K Metcalf ($14,200). On the season, Wilson has completed 63-of-86 pass attempts for 895 yards and seven touchdowns, while Metcalf has recorded 16 catches (on 25 targets) for 220 yards and two touchdowns. Although the matchup isn’t ideal (the 49ers give up the 13th-fewest fantasy points to WRs in 2021), DFS owners should expect a high scoring and competitive game,