Instead of strictly going through player ranks, I am going to dive into the actual players that I am personally playing in lineups at FanDuel and DraftKings this week that are priced outside of the top shelf at each position.
For our pricing thresholds, we are looking at quarterbacks that are below $7,500 at FanDuel and $6,000 or lower on DraftKings. At running back, $7,000, and below at either site. Wide receivers at $7,000 on FanDuel and $6,000 and lower on DraftKings. Lastly, tight ends that are $6,000 and lower on FanDuel and $5,000 and lower on DraftKings.
Pick out your own values and add these to your pool if they make sense to you. I will not be highlighting players like Dalvin Cook and Deshaun Watson in Week 10, options that will be the crux of our actual weekly core, so find out where these players fit in around the top-shelf ticket items that you want to pay up for.
I do not have enough space to talk about every player in my complete player pool this weekend, so make sure you check out the Week 11 Worksheet to see my full thoughts on every player this week. Also make sure to cross-reference those thoughts with weekly rankings in the Sharp Football rankings hub.
Kalen Ballage ($5,800/$5,600)
This might be the most telling thing about the state of 2020, but here we are. Ballage checks all the boxes of three-down back on a huge home favorite that we look for.
Ballage played 46 snaps last week compared to just 17 for Joshua Kelley and zero for Troymaine Pope last week, who both were active. Ballage did not waste the opportunity as he turned those snaps into 23 touches for 102 yards with his second consecutive top-15 scoring week. The Jets are 26th in rushing points allowed per game to backs (15.5) and 21st in receiving points allowed per game (11.4) to the position, giving Ballage another runway to a productive week on a Chargers team that is a nine-point favorite at home with an implied total of 28 points.
Chase Claypool ($6,400 FanDuel)
FanDuel priced all three of the Pittsburgh wideouts right next to each other, but my favorite on the site is Claypool. He has nine touchdowns in nine games and has seen his role solidify. Over the past three games, Claypool has nine, 13, and 10 targets. Over that span, he leads the team with 32 targets and 39% of the air yards. He also leads the team with three end zone targets over that span.
From a league-wide angle, he is tied for second among all wide receivers and second in air yards. The Jaguars are thin at boundary cornerback and just placed rookie C.J. Henderson on injured reserve.
Diontae Johnson ($5,900 DraftKings)
While I do prefer Claypool on FanDuel, Johnson is the cheapest Pittsburgh wideout and his volume is geared towards DraftKings in the first place. Johnson has played six full games and has accrued double-digit targets in five of them with five games posting six or more receptions. At $5,900, Johnson has had games of 10.7, 23.2, 29.0, 1.6, 14.1, and 23.6 in his six full games played.
I did not mention JuJu Smith-Schuster ($6,500/$6,400) here because he is the most expensive of the trio slightly on both sites and the Jaguars have been a bit worse on the outside than inside versus wideouts. The Steelers have swerved into the short passing game as their running game has struggled of late, giving all of them viability, but Claypool and Johnson are the preferred value plays.
Jakobi Meyers ($4,900 DraftKings)
Pressed into action due to injuries, Meyers has easily become the most effective wideout this season for New England. Over the past four weeks, Meyers is second among all NFL wideouts in team target share (38%) and is first in weighted opportunity. Meyers has now been targeted on 30.5% of his routes, which trails only Davante Adams (32.8%). Not just target opportunity, Meyers has posted 10.2, 13.8, 28.9, and 15.9 points on DK over that span. Newton has not thrown a touchdown pass this season to a wide receiver, so Meyers is a touch better on DraftKings than FanDuel ($6,000) if that trend continues.
Taysom Hill ($4,500 FanDuel)
With tight end eligibility on FanDuel, Hill becomes an intriguing play there in the wake of the Drew Brees injury at near minimum salary since the team has declared him a starting quarterback. That is a surprise to a degree since they have not asked him to drop back and play traditional QB in the NFL.
In the five games that Brees missed a year ago, Hill only took two dropbacks, but if he does actually play quarterback on Sunday, he has to be in consideration there. Hill is also a 30-year-old quarterback, too, not some young player that has yet to get an opportunity and grow into something down the line.
If he is the starter, we have to assume that the Saints run some sort of Tim Tebow-esque offense, but if Hill has any pass viability, the matchup is at least good. Atlanta is dead last in passing points allowed per game (21.6) and 30th in yards allowed per pass attempt (8.3 Y/A) while allowing 18 or more fantasy points to quarterbacks in every game but one.
Even if not and it is all smoke, Hill is already playing more in the rushing game this season, surpassing last season’s rushing attempts and yardage through nine games this season. Over the past three games, Hill has set a new season high in rushing attempts in each game. Not only can you pair Hill with Jameis Winston on FanDuel in the event that Hill plays more reps at actual quarterback, but he becomes more viable given the state of the position this week on this slate.
Tight end has been a wasteland all season, but the top two clear tight ends this season still playing — Travis Kelce and Darren Waller — are not available on the slate, eliminating two to-shelf options. If Hill busts, there is a lack of options at the position that can completely bury you.
Joe Burrow ($5,500 DraftKings)
Burrow struggled mightily last week, completing a season-low 52.5% of his passes for 5.3 yards per attempt against the Steelers. His two lowest-scoring games this season have now come against the Ravens and Steelers, who are both top-10 in limiting passing output for fantasy.
Washington is fourth in passing points allowed per game (13.0) but under the hood, they are far worse than that mark. Washington faces the second-fewest passes per game (29.2), but ranks 16th in passing points allowed per attempt (0.45) and 20th in yards allowed per attempt (7.3).
No quarterback drops back to pass more than Burrow at 46.4 times per game, so the volume here can elevate those counting stats Washington has skirted due to the lack of volume they have faced.
Of course, the one real thorn here is that Burrow is averaging 7.6 yards per pass attempt when kept clean as opposed to 4.3 Y/A under pressure and Washington is 11th in pressure rate (24.6%) while 20th in blitz rate (28.7%).
Mike Davis ($6,800 DraftKings)
Davis has not been the plug and play RB1 option that he was filling in earlier in the season. Davis has managed just 55, 36, 77, and 44 yards in his past four games without Christian McCaffrey in the lineup. What has been a downer for Davis is that he is averaging 0.70 yards before contact per carry, the fewest among all running backs with 100 or more carries on the season. He also had just 12 receptions for 50 yards in those past four games as Curtis Samuel has gotten more involved near the line of scrimmage in both the rushing and passing game.
If you want to hold onto something positive, those four games have come against the Bears, Falcons, Saints, and Buccaneers. Three of those defenses are in the top-six in yards per carry allowed to backfields. This matchup is much lighter if Davis can secure a positive workload. Detroit is 28th in YPC to backs (4.8 YPC) while also ranking 32nd in receiving points allowed per game to backs (14.1).
Antonio Gibson ($6,500/$5,800)
Gibson has hit 70 yards from scrimmage in just two games this season, but has managed to find the end zone in six of his past eight games. Gibson did have two third down touches last week after just one all season prior, but was still well behind J.D. McKissic in routes run 40-18. But as a rare home favorite, that split could be much tighter if the game script follows the point spread.
In the last game that Washington was a home favorite Week 7 against Dallas, Gibson handled a career-high 20 touches, while McKissic’s role was not needed as heavily, with McKissic catching just two passes. Of course, going all in on a potential game script as just 1.5-point favorites is no lock. Matchup wise, Gibson draws a Bengals defense that is 31st in yards per carry allowed to opposing backs (5.2 YPC).
Duke Johnson ($6,000/$5,400)
Johnson managed just 54 yards in his first start of the season. The positive news is that Johnson played 95% of the offensive snaps and the other Houston backs behind him totaled just one touch in the game. Added disappointment is that all of his touches came in the rushing game and Johnson had just one target after nine targets the previous two weeks. Getting targets was a problem that David Johnson had as well, but the Patriots are 21st in allowing 139.8 total yards per game to backfields to offer some upside and reason to go back to Johnson indoors this week.
Damien Harris ($5,800 FanDuel)
Harris has rushed for 100 yards in three of his six games this season, rushing for over 5.0 yards per carry in all but one of those games. 74.7% of the touches Harris has have come on first down, the highest rate in the league for all running backs. He is averaging 5.1 yards per carry on those attempts. Houston is allowing a league-high 5.7 yards on first down rushing attempts.
The bugaboo for Harris is that he is all rushing yardage for fantasy output, catching just two passes all season and he does not have a third down touch. He also carries soft scoring potential as he has just one rushing attempt inside of the 5-yard line as Newton has 12-of-16 team carries from that area of the field. His lone rushing score came from 22 yards out.
Justin Jefferson ($6,700/$6,000)
Jefferson is a tournament type of wideout as he lives on oscillating variance. Jefferson has matched or bested Adam Thielen in targets in three of the past four games, but he does not have the touchdown equity of Thielen, receiving just one end zone target this season compared to 13 for Thielen.
That does not give Jefferson the out to save low yardage games brought on by the lack of passing volume this offense has when leading in games. In his seven games since being inserted into the lineup, Jefferson has three top-10 scoring weeks and another three at WR53 or lower. But when Jefferson does hit, he hits big, with four 100-yard games and turning in 18.1 yards per catch.
Three of his best games have also come against obvious passing defenses to attack this season in Tennessee (7-175-1), Houston (4-103-0), and Atlanta (9-166-2). Dallas has allowed a league-high in passing touchdowns on throws over 15 yards downfield, keeping Jefferson as a play on the boom side of being a boom-or-bust wideout.
Brandin Cooks ($6,100/$5,200)
Cooks leads the Texans in targets (66) and receptions (43) on the season while over the past five games Cooks has out-targeted Fuller 47-to-38 and has 33 receptions to Fuller’s 23 over that stretch.
The Patriots face the fewest targets per game to opposing wideouts (15.9), but are 31st in yards per target (9.8) and 27th in points allowed per target (2.05) to the position. Houston targets their wideouts 68% of the time, fifth in the league.
Jalen Reagor ($5,600/$4,300)
Reagor led the team last week with a pass route on 92.7% of the dropbacks, his highest rate of the season. He paired that with a team-high seven targets; the team came out of the bye week with more on the table for the rookie in the passing game. Reagor managed just 4-47-0 and he has yet to manage a top-30 scoring week through four games or best 55 yards in a game, but the usage uptick is encouraging that the Eagles will flow more through him over the second half of the season. The Browns are 10th in yards allowed per target to opposing wideouts (7.9 yards), but have allowed a 5.8% touchdown rate (22nd) and face 23.0 targets per game to the position (29th).
Denzel Mims ($3,300 DraftKings)
This is strictly for the salary savers looking for a reasonable dart throw. Mims ran the same number of pass routes (26) as Breshad Perriman in the last Jets game and had eight targets. In his three games played this season, Mims has run a pass route on 79.3%, 97.1%, and 100% of the team dropbacks. If we are projecting negative game script and a plethora of drop backs for the Jets once again, Mims is in play for those who are trying to jam in higher-priced options elsewhere.
Hayden Hurst ($5,500/$4,400)
Hurst has picked things up after a slow start to the season and has stabilized himself as a back-end TE1 option. Part of that is due to the climate of the position itself, but Hurst has been a TE1 scorer in five of his past six games played while reaching 50 or more yards in five of those weeks. He has at least seven targets in each of his past three games. The Saints have allowed six different tight ends to find the end zone this season and are allowing 5.3 receptions per game to the position (26th) despite ranking seventh in yards per target to the position (6.2 yards).