Week 4 Breakout Player Model: Top Contrarian NFL DFS Plays
One of the biggest advantages you can deploy in daily fantasy is buying low on a player who has fallen out of favor with the rest of the field but is set up for a smash week. The 4for4 Player Stat Explorer is home to a model created by Sam Hoppen that compares a fantasy player's actual fantasy output with their expected fantasy output, based on their usage and historical data. The goal is to highlight players that have had the requisite usage (snaps, targets, air yards, etc) to produce big fantasy outcomes, but due to the natural variance of the sport have yet to do so. Many times, those underperforming players will be low-owned in DFS and make for fantastic contrarian plays, which this article will highlight.
* PPR Points/G: PPR fantasy points per game, x-Fpts/G: expected PPR fantasy points per game, FPOE/G: fantasy points over expectation per game
QB Kyler Murray, Cardinals ($7,800 FD/$7,600 DK)
Kyler checks in with one of the highest negative fantasy points over expectation per game, meaning he should be scoring a lot more fantasy points based on the usage statistics. If you've watched any Cardinals games, you've probably noticed that they seem to flounder around for three quarters then Murray and the offense play at a frenetic pace for the final quarter which includes him scrambling around, sometimes for half a minute, to find a target.
Murray's stat lines are interesting because he has done things well in each game, he just hasn't put together a complete game. Last week, he threw for 300 yards but didn't get in the end zone or rush the ball. In Week 2, He scored a rushing touchdown. In Week 1, he threw for multiple touchdowns but didn't rush the ball much or rack up a ton of yards. This week against the Panthers isn't a spot where people are going to flock to him in tournaments. There is enough solid usage here, mainly the fantasy points over expectation model, that points to a breakthrough soon for Murray—I want to try to be on it before everyone else is
WR Davante Adams, Raiders ($7,900 FD/$8,300 DK)
It's promising that Adams has scored every week, which indicates he's still an important part of the red zone usage for the Raiders as he was for the Packers. He's playing 97% of the red zone snaps and 90% of the snaps overall. We've seen what the ceiling looks like for Adams, as well—in Week 1 he lit up the Chargers for 10/140/1.
This week he gets a home matchup with divisional foe Denver. They have the big bad red number one next to their name for WR fantasy points allowed. Don't get me wrong, they have a solid secondary, but they've faced the likes of Geno Smith, Davis Mills, and Jimmy G. I think that rating is a tad inflated. Adams should continue to get his near 30% target share and 35% air yard share and is primed to break out again after two somewhat disappointing games. The best part is he won't be too popular in tournaments.
WR Brandin Cooks, Texans ($6,400 FD/$5,800 DK)
A number of people rostered Brandin Cooks in cash last week and were severely disappointed in his 2/20 stat line. Despite two pretty meager weeks of fantasy production, Cooks is still dominating the usage on the Texans. He is averaging 10 targets a game which is good for a 28% target share and a 34% end zone share.
The most appealing part of this game is going to be the need for the Texans to keep pace. Fresh off a game in which they were blown out, the Chargers should be motivated to get right. Much of last week's issues stemmed from Herbert still not being 100%. Nonetheless, the Texans being pushed in this game will make a difference. They've played in two slugfests against the Broncos and the Bears where neither team could really do much offensively. My hope is that the Chargers push the pace and Cooks racks up enough targets to realize his fantasy ceiling.
WR, D.J. Chark, Lions ($5,700 FD/$5,000 DK)
Chark missed practice Thursday, which isn't a great sign, but he remains on this breakout list because I feel a big game is coming from him. Pay close attention to his status for Sunday and what the beat reporters are saying about his injury status.
However, He's averaging over 100 air yards per game and has a wild 18-yard average depth of target. While Amon-Ra St. Brown, who is out, is working the short-to-intermediate routes, Chark is the guy Goff is taking deep shots to. He's also seeing 40% of the end zone targets which is coming out to an average of more than one target per game inside the box. In a home game against the Seahawks in which the main target hog is out, I'm going to take a gamble that Chark and Goff connect on one of the deep shots they've been feeding him. Overall he has enough production throughout the game that one long touchdown can get him to a ceiling performance.