Week 4 Daily Fantasy Football: Piecing Together the Optimal Lineup
Every week daily fantasy football gamers tinker their lineups, fretting over which cheap value plays to consider, which high priced chalk plays to use and when/where to go contrarian.
Playing the matchup game can often backfire, studs can bottom out and those cheap plays can often come off just as they appear – as unreliable duds.
It’s a dicey game, but the ultimate goal is to come away with that perfect combination that results in your optimal daily fantasy football lineup. What “optimal” means to each specific person can be different, but the idea is always the same; how do we get the best plays of the week mixed in with some sneaky sleepers that won’t kill us?
The goal is to always aim high for big money in GPPs, so join us as we take a look at what an optimal lineup looks like to use for the week four main slate at DraftKings:
QB: Kirk Cousins – Redskins ($6.5k)
My favorite quarterbacks for week four are Cam Newton and Andrew Luck, but Luck isn’t on the main slate and both of those guys are pretty price. Instead, I’m seeking some value here in Kirk, who has been progressing from a fantasy perspective after a horrific week one showing.
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) September 21, 2016
Cousins put up 23 and 19 fantasy points in his last two outings and with all the weapons he has, it feels like a big game is just around the corner. That could be this week against the Browns, who are giving up a ton of production through the air and are just 21st against quarterbacks in 2016.
Cousins does come with risk, but he has a loaded supporting cast that can spring big plays against a bad defense. He’s also historically quite good at home, and that’s where he’ll be in week four.
RB: Carlos Hyde – 49ers ($4.2k)
Hyde is not exactly a safe play, but he’s a logical one. A home date with the Cowboys isn’t an unbeatable matchup, plus it seems like he may be matchup proof when you look at his production last week (28.5 fantasy points) in a blowout loss to a good Seattle defense.
The idea here is that Hyde is a terrific combo play because he’s a strong talent, he has a huge role, he’s at home and he’s super cheap.
Carlos Hyde has 98 percent Bargain Rating on DraftKings. https://t.co/zci3iqWkAc
— FantasyLabs NFL (@FantasyLabsNFL) September 28, 2016
Hyde has top shelf upside after producing two 20+ fantasy point efforts in his first three games. If he doesn’t meet those expectations, that’s fine, seeing as we’re paying very little to roster him. Ideally he’ll get 15+ fantasy points, but as long as he can top 10 we’re probably fine.
RB: Todd Gurley – Rams ($6.7k)
Gurley finally got it going last week, as he piled on 80 total yards and a score to finish with a solid 21 fantasy points.
— DraftKings (@DraftKings) September 25, 2016
He’s still not where he needs to be, but a solid price drop and the fact that he has a (perceived) difficult matchup in Arizona makes him very interesting.
The fact that Gurley could be contrarian this week and also that he’s such a nice price, means he is a must-try in GPP tournaments. Gurley could absolutely struggle on the road against a talented defense, but the Cardinals actually have not been elite against the run so far this year.
LeSean McCoy just absolutely shredded the Cards last week and overall in 2016 they’re just a middling unit against running backs. It’s also worth noting that Gurley’s first big game of his career came last year when he trounced this AZ defense. That’s not a lock to happen again, but it feels like he’s gaining momentum and could be in for another big day. It’s a risk, but for GPPs, you need to take a gamble or two to differentiate yourself.
WR: DeSean Jackson – Redskins ($6.2k)
Some of the elite wide receivers are either hurt or have tough matchups on paper this week, so it makes good sense to target some intermediate value. D-Jax fits the bill, as he poured in a solid 20 fantasy points last week and gets a really bad Cleveland defense in week four.
The Browns have seriously not done well, as they’ve allowed average fantasy quarterbacks like Carson Wentz, Joe Flacco and Ryan Tannehill to post strong numbers. They’re even worse against wide receivers, as they’re actually dead last in the NFL at defending wide receivers through the first three weeks.
Jackson is always a threat for a deep ball or two, so it won’t take much for him to pay off in week four. Even if he doesn’t score, we could see several balls come his way. A 5-96-0 line is pretty realistic (and conservative) and would get us a solid 14.6 fantasy points. We’ll naturally be pulling for a score, however.
WR: Travis Benjamin – Chargers ($5.9k)
One of the huge keys in building an optimal DFS NFL lineup is to not paint yourself into a corner. That means not reaching for studs just because they’re big names and it also means not passing on solid intermediate value just because they had a down week.
It’s possible some could be off of Benjamin this week, as he didn’t score in week three and only climbed in price. We won’t shy from him, however, as he’s still a good price and this week he gets an awful Saints defense at home.
Benjamin is another speedy receiver who can take it the distance at any time – something that should be bad news for a Saints defense that ranks just 23rd against wide receivers and has allowed 30+ points two out of three games in 2016.
WR: Demaryius Thomas – Broncos ($6.7k)
For those DFS gamers that are balking at us not rostering an elite wide receiver here, here you go. DT has been off to a slow start, but Denver’s passing game finally woke up last week as he put up a very strong 24 fantasy points. His connection with quarterback Trevor Siemian has been great, too, potentially being a sign of things to come:
— PFF Fantasy Football (@PFF_Fantasy) September 28, 2016
Thomas was nicked up to start the year, but he looks plenty healthy now and rides into a solid week four matchup at a good price. This week he gets the Buccaneers, who have been just the 30th best defense against wide receivers. That bodes well for DT.
TE: Dennis Pitta – Ravens ($3.9k)
Tight end is tricky this week, seeing as there are a ton of good options. Rob Gronkowski could be more involved in his second game back, Jordan Reed and Greg Olsen look like high level locks to produce and there remain solid value plays like Zach Miller, Dwayne Allen, Jimmy Graham and others.
We don’t need to pay up for production at tight end, however, and Pitta is a value play. Pitta has been a nice find in his return from two hip issue, as he’s been targeted a whopping 20 times over the past two weeks, suggesting he’s very much a big part of Baltimore’s passing attack again.
Role, talent and price all check out here, plus Pitta is at home against a Raiders pass defense that has struggled badly all year. Oakland isn’t very good against tight ends, either, as they’re just 24th against the position for fantasy purposes. Game flow could mess this up for us, but after not scoring in week three, we think Pitta uses a nice matchup at home to post a strong line. Something like 5-55-1 would work just fine.
FLEX: Le’Veon Bell – Steelers ($7.5k)
Remember what we said about not forcing things when building our daily fantasy football lineups? The Flex spot is usually great for a fourth wide receiver, but we needn’t put ourselves into any one box. Instead, we don’t love the other options with this much cash left over, so we’re left wanting Bell as he returns for his first game following a three-game ban.
His return comes against a tough Chiefs defense, but Mike Tomlin already said we’re going to see “a lot” of Bell, who was not so surprisingly quite good the last time he returned from an absence in 2015.
Mike Tomlin on Le'Veon Bell's workload coming off suspension: "Rest assured, you're going to see Le'Veon Bell and a lot of him Sunday"
— Michael Fabiano (@Michael_Fabiano) September 27, 2016
Bell is a total monster, at home, and we’ve actually seen this KC defense get torched on the ground at times this year.
Bell’s role is the safety net here, as he’s always super involved in the passing game and once the offense gets close to the goal-line, he’s the preferred option. Bell closes out the week strong in the last game on Sunday Night Football for the main slate, too. As long as he doesn’t come up lame, he could be the perfect cherry on top for one sweet DFD optimal lineup.
DEF: Baltimore Ravens ($2.4k)
The idea of an optimal defense is to get value and stability, while also promoting upside. I’m not sure why everyone is so scared of the Ravens, seeing as they’ve been nothing but stout through three weeks.
I do see the danger in playing them against a good Oakland offense, but this game is in Baltimore and we just saw the Raiders get stifled by the Titans in week three. For this price, Baltimore doesn’t even need to be amazing, which is arguably the best part.
Overall, we’re looking to get a few elite difference-makers (at value, if possible) and also seek value that is fairly reliable but also carries some upside.
Each pick here seems to meet those guidelines, with Gurley, DT and Bell operating as truly elite picks and guys like Cousins, Hyde, Jackson, Pitta and Benjamin being solid and hopefully stable intermediate values.
You’ll notice we’re not diving for any crazy cheap guys below $4k this week, and there’s a good reason for that: there aren’t that many that are catching our eye. There’s sure to be some random freak plays that pan out, but we’re not diving down the rabbit hole. This team should have a solid shot at placing in the green in week four, regardless of what daily fantasy football contest you enter it in.
Hopefully our optimal lineup helps you out this week or can at least assist you in going in the right direction. Regardless of whether or not that is the case, we wish you luck in your week 4 DFS NFL contests!
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