We're through six weeks of the NFL season and the standings are starting to make more sense. Everyone has at least one win (even the Browns have two and a half) and all but the Rams have at least one loss. It's a fun point of the fantasy season, where the sample sizes are no longer tiny and we can start to see real trends. If you think you're more on top of the trends than the rest of us, come prove it at the RotoWire FanDuel Fantasy Football Championship!
A quick rules refresher: we're running a $10 contest in each of the first 10 weeks of the season, where the top 150 finishers double their money. Compete against fellow RotoWire readers as well as three experts: Kevin Payne, Jeff Erickson and Derek VanRiper. Beating all three experts in one week earns you a ticket to Week 11's championship round, where the top 120 scores earn a prize and the top score gets $1,000 and a two-year RotoWire subscription. Sign up for this week's contest here.
Meanwhile, the experts here at RotoWire have been running a parallel contest. Tate McIntyre took home last week's contest thanks to big days from Jameis Winston, Melvin Gordon and Todd Gurley. The overall leaderboard through four weeks can be found here. The current top 10 are as follows:
- Andrew Laird (kingmorland) 867.46
- Ken Crites (kencrw) 862.82
- Joshua Fathollahi (jashfath) 851.12
- Scott Jenstad (oaktwonsj) 842.34
- Joel Bartilotta (joelbartilotta) 828.18
- Herb Ilk (joecomma) 816.42
- Eric Caturia (etcat30) 815.28
- Benjamin Donabedian (jd0505) 810.66
- Alex Barutha (UNCLESTOSH99) 810.06
- AJ Scholz (bcswimmer10) 808.06
As usual, a quick reminder to check out RotoWire's lineup optimizer, the best place to go to begin to work out your lineup. Note: the Broncos, Cardinals, Bengals, Chiefs, Giants and Falcons all have played in or will play in primetime games this week, and the Titans and Chargers are playing early in London, so their players are not included on the main slate. Meanwhile, the Packers, Raiders, Steelers and Seahawks have bye weeks.
WR Adam Thielen: Minnesota Vikings at New York Jets
FanDuel Price: $8,700
Thielen vs. teammate Stefon Diggs was an interesting question this draft season. Diggs seemed to have a slight edge in terms of ADP, which looks wrong now, as Thielen has accumulated 20.7 points per game compared to 14.6 for his teammate. Has FanDuel adjusted the balance between them correctly? Time for some quick math. Remember that occupying a receiver slot with a player on the practice squad still costs $4,500, so we need to look at the effective price rather than their sticker price. Thielen currently costs $202.90 ((8,700-4,500)/20.7) per point while Diggs costs $212.33 ((7,600-4,500)/14.6) per point. That suggests that Thielen is the better buy (by a small margin) if you expect their current production levels to continue. It's a close call, but throw in Thielen's nine red zone targets compared to just four for Diggs, and Thielen still seems to be the Viking receiver to play this week despite his increased cost.
TE Zach Ertz: Philadelphia Eagles vs. Carolina Panthers
FanDuel Price: $7,500
With the Chiefs and Travis Kelce playing on Sunday night, we're left with just two elite tight ends on the main slate. Ertz has 67 targets on the season compared to just 35 for Rob Gronkowski and comes in $100 cheaper. Ertz's opponent, the Panthers, have given up five catches per game to tight ends, compared to just four per game given up by Gronkowski's opponent, the Bears. Ertz's numbers look even better since Carson Wentz has returned, scoring 15.5 points per game over the last four contests. It's an easy decision if you're paying up for an expensive tight end.
QB Jameis Winston: Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Cleveland Browns
FanDuel Price: $7,800
Winston put up big numbers in his first game back as the Buccaneers' starter last week, torching the Falcons for 395 yards and four scores. He has every chance to look equally good this week, with Tampa Bay having the second-highest implied point total on the slate. Not many defenses will be able to shut down the Bucs' deep stable of weapons in the passing game, and Tampa's own weak defense should force Winston to keep passing all day. Any of Mike Evans, Desean Jackson, Chris Godwin and O.J. Howard could make good stack options.
TE Eric Ebron: Indianapolis Colts vs. Buffalo Bills
FanDuel Price: $6,800
Ebron is the third most expensive tight end on the slate, but there's such a big drop off in price from the top two to him that it feels justified to call him "mid-price." His 13.9 points per game rank just a hair behind top tight end Zach Ertz (14.0), though they've gotten their production in different ways. Ertz has 18 more catches for 154 more yards, but Ebron has six touchdowns to Ertz's two. Touchdowns can be hard to predict week-to-week, but Ebron's seem relatively sustainable, as he has the fourth most red zone targets in the league this season (14). Andrew Luck loves his tight ends, and with Jack Doyle still out with a hip injury, there's little reason to believe he'll stop looking for Ebron in the end zone this week.
WR Jarvis Landry: Cleveland Browns at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
FanDuel Price: $6,500
Landry's numbers have tailed off in recent weeks, as he's caught just four, five and two passes the last three games, but Baker Mayfield is still looking his way. The possession receiver has seen 10, 11 and 10 targets those three weeks, and he's bound to start converting a higher rate of targets into catches soon. This week seems as good a bet for that to happen as any, as the Buccaneers have been the second-friendliest fantasy defense for opposing wideouts. Landry has just one score on the season, but that should also turn around soon, as he's more or less the Browns' only option in the red zone; he's been targeted there nine times so far this season, while none of his teammates has more than three red zone targets.
QB C.J. Beathard: San Francisco 49ers vs. Los Angeles Rams
FanDuel Price: $6,400
Beathard costs just $400 more than a backup quarterback this week and comes in just $100 more expensive than Derek Anderson. Seems about fair for C.J. Beathard against the Rams, but there are reasons to consider him as a longshot. He's actually put up solid fantasy numbers in his three starts, with his 20.5 points per game putting him ninth among the 20 starting quarterbacks on this week's slate. The Rams defense has been good but not elite against opposing quarterbacks, allowing the 24th-most fantasy points per game. The 49ers will likely be down early and passing, letting Beathard rack up respectable numbers and giving you the option to work one more elite flex option into your lineup.
RB Frank Gore: Miami Dolphins vs. Detroit Lions
The three defenses most fantasy-friendly for opposing running backs (Kansas City, Arizona and Atlanta) are all not part of the main slate this week, making Detroit the defense to pick on. Brock Osweiler did throw 44 passes for the Dolphins last week, but it's hard to envision that being a regular occurance. Gore has 12.7 carries per game over the Dolphins' last three games compared to just 7.3 for teammate Kenyan Drake but comes in $700 cheaper. He should have a solid floor at a cheap price against a leaky run defense.
RB Nick Chubb: Cleveland Browns at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
FanDuel Price: $4,800
Carlos Hyde was shipped off to Jacksonville, leaving Nick Chubb to handle the bulk of carries in Cleveland. Duke Johnson is still around and perfectly capable, but he's only gotten 3.2 carries per game this season, and the plan appears to be for him to remain in a third-down role. The Browns picked Chubb 35th overall (the fourth running back off the board) for a reason, and it was always just a matter of time before he was given the chance to be their lead back. He's had nothing but success in very limited action so far, averaging a ridiculous 10.8 yards per carry on 16 carries so far this season. Take advantage of him while his price remains at backup level against a very weak defense, even if everyone else is doing the same.
RB Mark Ingram: New Orleans Saints at Baltimore Ravens
FanDuel Price: $7,400
If you played Ingram last week, you would have been very happy with the results. He received 18 touches, compared to just nine for Alvin Kamara, and he did a great job with them, finishing the day with 20.3 fantasy points. That won't necessarily be the case going forward, however, as coach Sean Payton has said that he'll be aiming for a more even split in future games. It's tough to justify Ingram having the fifth-highest price on the slate when he may only get 10-12 touches, and that's before considering the fact that he's playing the Ravens, who have been the toughest defense against running backs in fantasy so far this season. Both Ingram and Kamara are tough to play at their prices this week.