Week 9 NFL DFS Sleeper Picks & Contrarian Plays at DraftKings

Written By Nate Lawson on November 3, 2017

Week 9 DraftKings NFL DFS Pivot, Sleeper, and Contrarian Plays

Week 9 of NFL DFS is upon us, and everyone is looking to cash in on the big money DFS NFL contests at DraftKings. Every week, we’ll take a look at the top pivot plays off the chalk, as well as identify contrarian options and sleepers. And to keep up with all things PlayPicksfollow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook.

As with any daily fantasy sport, the advice below is relevant for fantasy purposes. A player, stack, 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. And if you’re looking for a new way to play DFS, be sure and give DRAFT a try with our promo code that gives you a free $3 entry upon deposit.

Now, let’s dive into our Week 9 pivot, sleeper, and contrarian plays.

CHALK: Mark Ingram ($7.6K) vs. TB
LEVERAGE: Doug Martin ($5.8K) @ NO

Yesterday I wrote about how I am very interested in a Mark Ingram stack with New Orleans D/ST. But I believe there is merit in exploring a leverage play by paying down for Doug Martin, the running back lining up opposite Ingram.

Martin has looked decent thus far in 2017, and he has seen a combined 38 carries in his last two outings. With Jameis Winston’s shoulder injury looming large, Martin should again see a lot of action on the ground. The Saints rank 29th in DVOA against the run and are far more exploitable on the ground than the Buffalo Bills and Carolina Panthers, Martin’s last two opponents. Martin will also likely see his ownership fall as a result of back-to-back unimpressive outings.

But here’s my favorite stat: In their last two games, the New Orleans Saints allowed opponents to score a combined 29 points. Yet in those two games, Aaron Jones and Jordan Howard rushed for 131 and 102 yards, respectively, each man’s team losing to the Saints. This gives me more faith in Martin, considering I am worried about his team scoring. If there’s one thing this Saints defense has showed us, it’s that the opposing team might not score many points, but they’ll likely still find a way to see heavy yardage volume on the ground.

While Martin is a great GPP leverage play, I think you could also consider playing both him and Ingram, considering both get a good amount of work in the passing game. In cash, I much prefer Ingram, but I think I’ll actually have more exposure to Martin in tournaments.

CHALK: Devin Funchess ($5.4K) vs. ATL
PIVOT: Sterling Shepard ($5.2K) vs. LAR
In a shocking deadline move, the Carolina Panthers parted ways with their top wideout, trading Kelvin Benjamin to the Buffalo Bills for a future pick. This leaves Devin Funchess as the clear-cut top pass catcher as long as Greg Olsen remains out. And none of this is priced into his salary this week. It really is a smart play, and there will be extremely heavy ownership.

However, Funchess is not Kelvin Benjamin, no matter how similar their physiques. For instance, Benjamin has 118 more receiving yards this season on one fewer reception and seven fewer targets than Funchess. As such, I believe even with Benjamin’s departure, Funchess has a limited ceiling because, well, he has limited abilities compared to his former counterpart.

That leads me to Sterling Shepard, who is in, more or less, the same situation — being forced to replace an elite receiver prematurely. Fortunately, as home underdogs, the Giants will almost certainly be playing from behind in this matchup. Many DFS players will flock to Evan Engram, which makes some sense considering the rookie’s consistency and growing role within the offense. But Shepard is far and away the best receiving option in New York with Brandon Marshall and Odell Beckham Jr. injured. He’ll almost certainly see the largest share of the WR routes and targets, and I think Shepard could steal at least a target or two from Engram, who had 12 last week while Shepard was out. Consider pivoting here for some differentiation, especially if you’re going chalk QB/RB.

CHALK: Drew Brees ($7.0K), Russell Wilson ($7.3), Cam Newton ($6.3k) 
LEVERAGE: Tom Savage ($4.8K) vs. IND 
Brees and Wilson will be ultra-chalky (and I love both this week if you can make their salaries work) now that Deshaun Watson is off the board, and Cam Newton, I believe, will get a lot of that ownership left behind by Watson’s injury as well. So will Tom Savage. But Watson’s replacement likely won’t garner as much ownership as any of the three aforementioned chalk plays, which makes him a good leverage play while staying contrarian enough.

Look, I don’t have much to back up Savage. He’s played in seven professional games, thrown 105 professional passes, and has exactly zero professional touchdowns. But he does get to play the Indianapolis Colts, a defense that ranks 30th in DVOA vs. the pass. His most appealing attribute, however, is the high floor he provides at just $4.8K. I’m far more interested in paying down at quarterback for a guy throwing to DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller at a rock bottom salary than I am trying to pay down at other, less secure positions. Rostering Savage not only is a bit contrarian, it also gives you leverage over the field by taking the savings at QB, something the majority of the field won’t do. As a result, you’ll have much more flexibility when it comes to rostering guys like Kareem Hunt or Leonard Fournette.

CHALK: Leonard Fournette ($8.4K) vs. CIN
The irony of Mixon’s fumble last week was not lost on Marvin Lewis, I’m sure. After putting his coaches on blast after week 7, Mixon rushed for 18 yards on 11 carries and lost a fumble in week 8, though he did salvage his performance to some degree with more than 90 receiving yards.

Though he did put his big-play potential on display, Mixon will almost certainly be underowned in week 9, given the almost certainly overblown drama he’s created within the organization and his week 8 dud on the ground. But the Jacksonville Jaguars are allowing more yards per carry than any other team in the NFL, while they arguably have the best secondary in the league. Andy Dalton is not going to be able to do much of anything in this matchup, and Mixon is very clearly the future of this Bengals running game (at least, that’s the signal the Bengals are giving). He should see his touches land in the high-teens with upside to break into the 20s.

Meanwhile, Fournette does not have a good matchup as the Cincinnati Bengals rank 10th in DVOA vs. the run. He also hasn’t played a game since 10/15 (after missing one and having a bye week the next). I’m not sure if that’s a good or bad thing, but I’m leaning toward the latter. After a heavy workload in the first six weeks of the season, which saw Fournette tally, on average, more than 21 carries per game, I’m wary of rostering a running back who went from a fairly large workload to three weeks without any live game action. And even if that doesn’t stop Fournette from hitting value, it does limit his upside. I think he’s a good cash play, but consider a pivot to Mixon in GPPs.

SLEEPER: Marqise Lee ($3.9K) vs. CIN
Lee isn’t a wideout that’s easy to get excited about, but with Allen Hurns hurt, he has emerged as the Jaguars’ top WR. He’s seen 16 targets combined over the past two weeks, converting nine of those into receptions for 155 yards. The Jaguars don’t do a ton of scoring, and when they do it’s usually centered around Leonard Fournette.

But Lee is a pitiful $3.9K over at DraftKings, which means he can hit value without scoring a touchdown, given how he performed the past two weeks. He also has pretty ridiculous upside at that price, considering the receiving options in Jacksonville. If you’re trying to stuff multiple elite plays into your lineup, Lee seems like a no-brainer, even if the Cincinnati Bengals have a decent DVOA (15th in DVOA vs. the pass). I’m always interested in a guy in this price range with 10-target upside. And I think he’s a very sneaky sleeper play in a game where most will gravitate to the RBs and D/STs.

SLEEPER: Alex Collins ($4.6K) @ TEN
With the Baltimore Ravens getting 10 days between games, Joe Flacco and co. will get back to work against an exploitable Tennessee Titans defense ranking 21st in DVOA — a defense that has been, frankly, embarrassed on a few occasions this season. While the Baltimore Ravens are extremely inconsistent on offense, they did just torch a Miami Dolphins team by 40 in a shutout win.

In that game, Collins received 18 carries, turning that into a-113 yard game. He also caught two passes for 30 yards. He did all that against a Miami Dolphins team ranking 3rd in DVOA against the run. The Titans are middle-of-the-pack against the run, but that’s skewed partially because they played the Miami Dolphins, Indianapolis Colts, and Cleveland Browns the past three weeks. I think Collins has the upside you want in GPPs at a very reasonable price and low ownership.

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Nate Lawson

Nate began playing DFS back in 2013, focusing on low stakes MLB contests over at DraftKings. Now, the vast majority of his DFS time is spent identifying optimal picks and player exposure for NBA and NFL GPPs, though MMA and eSports are his DFS guilty pleasures. With a focus on constant iteration, Nate spends a lot of his non-DFS time reading books and essays by leaders in finance and entrepreneurship for application to his DFS strategies...with a bit of cryptocurrency trading on the side.

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