Week 9 NFL DFS Sleepers, Fades, Contrarian, and Pivot Plays on FanDuel
Week 9 of NFL DFS is upon us, and everyone is looking to cash in on the big daily fantasy football money at FanDuel. Every week, we’ll bring you our top DFS NFL picks for each position and recommend them as Cash Game and/or GPP plays. To keep up with all things PlayPicks, follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook.
As with any daily fantasy sport, the advice below is relevant for fantasy purposes. A player or team might be better or worse from a fantasy perspective than in real life due to matchup, price, gameflow, and more. This is important when constructing a roster.
In this article, we highlight the plays that aren’t necessarily obvious and, therefore, may help distinguish you in a contest that features thousands of lineups.
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CHALK: Russell Wilson vs. WAS ($8.5k)
PIVOT(S): Drew Brees vs. TB ($8.3k FanDuel), Dak Prescott vs. KC ($8.2k FanDuel)
We’re often prisoners of the moment when it comes to NFL DFS. The freshest performance in users’ minds is the 79-point shootout between Deshaun Watson’s Texans and Russell Wilson’s Seahawks, which swung GPPs in Week 8 and led to their exorbitant price tags in Week 9.
With Watson sadly done for the season due to a torn ACL, Wilson will likely be the most popular play of this slate. Washington ranks 13th in DVOA defense, but Tampa Bay is 30th, and Kansas City is surprisingly 26th while the Chiefs are giving up the fourth-most FD PPG to opposing QBs this season.
Dak Prescott will become a much more contrarian play with Ezekiel Elliott dodging his suspension yet again, and he could still get into a shootout with the Chiefs’ efficient offense. Shootouts and Drew Brees are synonymous at the Superdome, even if that’s yet to happen this season. He’s due for a big game against a dysfunctional Bucs secondary.
SLEEPER: Jameis Winston @ NO ($7.7k FanDuel)
He’s been completely boom or bust over the last three weeks with a 384-yard, three-touchdown gem in Buffalo serving as an apparent anomaly between two duds. Yet Jameis Winston left that road game in Arizona with his injury, and the Panthers’ defense was flying all around the field last week. While the Saints’ defense has improved, it still remains vulnerable, and Winston has accrued 484 passing yards with three touchdowns over two trips to the Superdome. One of those games was just his second NFL start.
CHALK: Todd Gurley @ NYG ($9.1k FanDuel)
PIVOT(S): Kareem Hunt @ DAL ($9.0k FanDuel), Ezekiel Elliott (8.9k FanDuel)
Todd Gurley is clearly a very safe option given the volume he’s receiving for the run-first Rams. But you never know how the Giants might perform; this is one of those spots where they could surprise while coming out of their bye week. The Cowboys’ defense is riding high after limiting the mediocre Washington squad, but the Chiefs can attack teams in so many ways, all of which are centered upon using Kareem Hunt as a runner and receiver out of the backfield. After facing the top-ranked run defense in the league and failing to top 100 YFS for the first time in his career, Hunt should start a new streak against a Dallas team ranked 30th in DVOA run defense this season.
And now Ezekiel Elliott is cleared to play again and will serve as a high-volume rusher against the Chiefs 31st-ranked run defense.
VALUE: Doug Martin @ NO ($6.7k FanDuel)
The Saints are playing excellent pass defense right now but remain vulnerable on the ground, as they’re ranked 29th in DVOA run defense while giving up 120.3 RuYPG. This, despite facing some really weak competition. The Bucs would like to commit to their ground game, and Doug Martin is clearly the workhorse in that backfield. He’s played on over 58 percent of offensive snaps in consecutive games with negative gameflow for Tampa, so he still has a solid floor-ceiling combination even if the Saints’ offense lights up the Bucs’ struggling pass defense.
SLEEPER: Alex Collins @ TEN ($5.9k FanDuel)
Alex Collins is clearly taking over as the Ravens’ primary rusher ahead of pass-catching specialist Javorious Allen. The rookie played on a season-high 49.2 percent of snaps in last Thursday’s blowout win and compiled 143 YFS on 20 touches while Allen managed just 57 yards on 18 touches. The Titans rank 31st in non-adjusted DVOA run defense, and Baltimore will look to lean on its ground game and rapidly improving defense.
CHALK: Mike Evans @ NO ($8.5k FanDuel)
PIVOT(S): Dez Bryant vs. KC ($7.7k FanDuel), Doug Baldwin vs. WAS ($7.9k)
DeAndre Hopkins goes from the chalk play to an intriguing GPP option now that he’ll be receiving passes from the limited Tom Savage instead of the electric Watson. He’s worth a pivot in his own right. It logically follows that Mike Evans will be the most-owned player as a result of this news. He draws a perceived plus matchup against the Saints, but rookie CB Marshon Lattimore is playing very well, and New Orleans is actually ranked eighth in DVOA pass defense this year.
Doug Baldwin is a GPP-only option against a Washington defense that also has a good reputation in pass defense. But they are just average in DVOA pass defense and struggle most against slot receivers, where Baldwin logs over 60 percent of his snaps. With Wilson playing out of his mind, Baldwin has a great chance to extend his career success at home, where he averaged 13.41 yards per reception and caught four TDs on 56 passes over eight games last year.
Dez Bryant is the more appealing pivot, and he might not be a popular play at all with news that Zeke will in fact play this Sunday. Bryant hasn’t exactly been lighting the league on fire this season, and Prescott hasn’t targeted him as consistently as Tony Romo once did. But this is a potentially great spot for Dez as the squeaky wheel to receive some grease against a struggling Chiefs pass defense.
FADE: A.J. Green @ JAX ($8.2k FanDuel)
It’s simply too obvious where the Bengals want to go with the football when they throw. This allowed the pathetic Colts pass defense to limit A.J. Green to four catches for 27 yards last week. While he saved his DFS day with a touchdown, you can’t depend on him at all in a road tilt against the Jaguars’ top-ranked pass defense, which is led by two absolutely elite CBs in Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye.
SLEEPER: DeVante Parker vs. OAK ($6.1k FanDuel)
The Dolphins used caution in bringing DeVante Parker back, so he should be ready to rock and roll after sitting out for three weeks to rest an ailing ankle. He draws a great matchup at home against a Raiders team that’s given up 11 passing TDs without recording an interception. Oakland ranks dead last in DVOA pass defense this season as a result. Jay Cutler’s simultaneous return bodes well for the 6’5 Parker, who can win on jump balls and was becoming a favorite target for a gambling QB in Cutler.
CHALK: Travis Kelce @ DAL ($7.0k FanDuel), Jimmy Graham vs. WAS ($6.2k)
PIVOT(S): Cameron Brate @ NO ($6.1k FanDuel)
You can put Zach Ertz ($7.6k) in the realm of chalk plays at tight end because, like Jimmy Graham, he’s compiled four touchdowns over his last three appearances. And like Travis Kelce, Ertz has grabbed a share of the spotlight as the league’s top, new oversized target.
Cameron Brate is flying under the radar a bit due to Jamies Winston’s injury-related struggles and the big two-touchdown game from rookie O.J. Howard in Week 7 at Buffalo. But the Harvard product continues to produce, with 10 catches for 124 yards over his last two appearances. He caught touchdowns in seven of his previous nine outings before a two-game scoreless draught and has a great chance to hit pay dirt against a mediocre Saints linebacking corps.
VALUE: Jared Cook @ MIA ($5.5k FanDuel)
Derek Carr and the Raiders should be able to light up the scoreboard in Miami this Sunday night. The Dolphins’ defense sells out to stop the run. With Marshawn Lynch active again and drawing plenty of attention, Jared Cook should be able to leak out on play action plays and could be wide open for a couple of big gains. He followed up a 107-yard performance against the Chiefs with a 57-yard game in a tough matchup at Buffalo last week and can be trusted against a Dolphins team that ranks 28th in DVOA pass defense.