Living in the daily game world for any sport requires a lot of work with little reward for the casual player unless the stars align for one magical day. Most daily owners need to decide whether to be a grinder or a swing for the fence player. One path keeps you alive for more days of action with the idea of building your bankroll slowly. The other has a donation feel while offering a pot of gold at the end of a distant rainbow.
Since the daily sites started offering the million-dollar overall prize, I’ve been trying to find my get-out-of-jail-free card. The goal is to handicap the main football slate on Sunday and invest in the best possible combination of foundation players. If my key players have success, I will be in the hunt with many teams. Each football season, I expect to be in the mix in four or five weeks.
All players listed are for the main slate of games on Sunday.
Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills
Follow-through is the critical ingredient needed to take down a massive overall prize in the daily space. The Bills are 16-point favorites against Houston at SI Sportsbook, pointing to a one-sided game. Allen broke out of his early-season slump with the best Week 3 QB performance (367 combined yards with five touchdowns). His top wideout (Stefon Diggs) earned a top-three billing at his position after a masterful showing (127/1,535/8) in his first year in Buffalo. He’s on pace for 108 catches for 1,082 yards and five scores over a 17-game schedule while only ranking as a bottom-tier WR2 in PPR leagues.
I expect the Bills to play aggressively on offense vs. the Titans with an eye on ending this game by halftime. Buffalo’s defense ranks highly against the run (7th) and the pass (4th), leading to them controlling the time of possession.
Houston played better than expected out of the gate on both sides of the ball, but the drop to Davis Mills at quarterback invites a dull offensive day on the road. The Texans face a top-tier quarterback for the first time this season, and Buffalo will attack them in the deep passing game.
Allen may be an against-the-grain play with many daily investors taking a position in the Bills’ run game and defense. I expect Diggs to get out of the gate quickly, and I could see Gabriel Davis ending the passing game scoring with a second-half bomb. Allen should steal at least one rushing score, and he projects to pass for 330 yards with four touchdowns.
Best Opposing Options: Brandin Cooks ($6,400), David Johnson ($4,500)
Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks
Last week’s game started great for anyone stacking the passing game for both offenses. Wilson got DK Metcalf rolling early (5/88/1) at halftime while forcing the Vikings to chase on the scoreboard. Unfortunately, Seattle came up empty offensively in the second half, and their defense continues to allow opponents to move the ball up and down the field and control the clock.
This week, San Fran should regain their run game and score plenty of points. This combination puts Wilson back in “teabag mode” – he shines the most when forced to throw late with the game on the line (i.e., in hot water). His 2021 passing stats (895/7) look great, but he has only been on the field for 71 out of a possible 180 minutes (39.4 percent). Last year, Wilson struggled in San Francisco (181/2) while shining at home (261/4).
The 49ers struggled defensively in two of their three games (Detroit – 33 points and Green Bay – 30 points). In Week 1, the Lions beat them with their backs (16/121/1) and tight ends (9/99/1) in the passing game after San Fran jumped out to a big lead. Aaron Rodgers beat them with his top wideout (Davante Adams – 12/132/1).
For someone looking for a low-value hookup, Will Dissly should get the start at tight end, with Gerald Everett landing on the Covid-19 list.
Best Opposing Options: All 49ers’ starters are in play.
Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys
After a tough run game matchup vs. Tampa in Week 1, the Cowboys ran the ball 72 times over their next two matchups. As a result, Prescott only threw the ball 27 and 26 times over the past two contests despite gaining 9.0 yards per pass attempt with strength in his completion rate (83.0).
The Panthers rank highly on defense (2.6 yards per rush and 6.2 yards per pass attempt), with only 30 points allowed. In addition, a ball-control offense (105.5 minutes of possession – 58.6 percent) helped their defense while facing three struggling offenses (NYJ, NO, and HOU).
Dallas has top elite wideouts (Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb), and their tight end usage has been up (22/214/2) after losing Michael Gallup in Week 1.
The loss of Christian McCaffrey does lower the offensive bar for the Panthers. However, Carolina has wide receiver talent, and they will test the Cowboys’ secondary that shows risk over the first two games (17/250/2 and 15/233/1).
Best Opposing Options: Chuba Hubbard ($5,900), DJ Moore ($6,600), Robby Anderson ($5,100), Terrance Marshall ($4,000)
Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs
Three turnovers by Mahomes over the past three weeks led to a lower ceiling and back-to-back losses. Nevertheless, he has three scores each week while delivering a high floor in yards. Defenses have slowed down Tyreek Hill in Week 2 (3/14) and Week 3 (5/56), forcing the Chiefs to focus on their second wideouts and Travis Kelce (6/76/2, 7/109/1, and 7/104).
The Eagles held quarterbacks to three low games (164/0, 189/1, and 238/3) with strength in the play vs. wide receivers (24/294/2). Their defense held Calvin Ridley (5/51), Deebo Samuel (6/93), CeeDee Lamb (3/66), and Amari Cooper (3/17) to short games.
Stacking the Chiefs’ passing game comes with a price, and this matchup points to Mahomes being a lower percentage own along with Tyreek Hill. Additionally, in most matchups, Philly tends to play their top cornerbacks in the same spots, pointing to Hill avoiding CB Darius Slay.
Best Opposing Options: Miles Sanders ($6,400), Kenneth Gainwell ($4,300), DeVonta Smith ($5,700), Dallas Goedert ($4,800)
Jimmy Garoppolo, San Francisco 49ers
The goal-line calls will determine the playable value for Garoppolo against the Seahawks. He has three top receiving options, but the 49ers want to run the ball in close. This week, George Kittle landed on the injury report with a calf injury, putting him at risk to play on Sunday.
Seattle’s defense can’t get offenses off the field (114 minutes of play), and they have struggled against the run (104/465/3) and the pass (921/5) over the first three weeks. The Seahawks should push San Francisco to score 30+ points, giving Garoppolo a reasonable chance of hitting in the daily space.
Ultimately, I need to see Kittle cleared from the injury report to invest in the 49ers’ passing attack.
Best Opposing Options: Chris Carson ($6,300), DK Metcalf ($7,200), Tyler Lockett ($7,100), Will Dissly ($2,600)
Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals
I almost left Murray off the top-six quarterbacks to stack this week based on his matchup vs. the Rams. In 2020, he struggled in his only complete game (188 combined yards with three touchdowns) against Los Angeles. However, the depth of the Cardinals’ wide receiving corps should help Murray in this matchup, plus an aggressive pass rush could lead to some possible big runs.
The Rams have nine sacks through three weeks, with only Tom Brady having success (432/1). SI Sportsbook set an over/under in this game at 54.5, inviting a high scoring game.
After three games, Murray has 1,075 combined yards with 10 touchdowns while underachieving so far as a runner (17/70/3). Just like Mahomes, Murray should be a lower percentage own in Week 4.
Best Opposing Options: Sony Michel ($5,200), Cooper Kupp ($7,800), Robert Woods ($5,300), Van Jefferson ($3,900), Tyler Higbee ($4,600)
Foundation Core Players
Some of the players (Alvin Kamara, David Montgomery, Stefon Diggs, Keenan Allen, and Darren Waller) listed as foundation options for Week 4 were mentioned in my DFS article on Thursday.
RB Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans
The Titans have a favorable matchup on the road, but they could be without their top two wideouts allowing New York a better chance to stack the ball against the run. After three weeks of action, Henry already has 92 touches while being more involved in the passing game (12/105). He is on pace for 2,595 combined yards (17 games) with 17 scores and 68 catches.
The Jets struggled to defend Christian McCaffrey in Week 1 (187 combined yards with nine catches), but their run defense did play better against the Patriots (24/101) and Denver (37/121) despite allowing four rushing touchdowns.
Henry needs over 150 combined yards with a pair of scores at a minimum to fill his salary bucket this week.
RB Austin Ekeler, Los Angeles Chargers
After entering Week 1 with a slight hamstring issue, Ekeler saw the field for 74 percent of the Chargers’ plays in Week 3. However, Los Angeles continues to give another back short-yardage and goal-line chances, lowering his ceiling. Over the past two games, he gained 222 combined yards with one touchdown and 15 catches on 35 touches. In his only match against the Raiders in 2020, Ekeler gained 79 yards with four catches.
Las Vegas allowed 334 combined yards to running backs over the first three games with five touchdowns and 13 catches. Despite some risk, only Najee Harris (81 combined yards with a touchdown and five catches) delivered a playable game in the daily market (Ty’Son Williams finished with 94 combined yards with a score and three catches on 12 touches).
This game expects to be high scoring, and Ekeler should be active again in the passing game. His key to success is finding paydirt. Note: Ekeler isn’t on the main slate, but I didn’t want to ditch his writeup after doing some research.
RB D’Andre Swift, Detroit Lions
The coach-speak out of Detroit is that they want to get Swift the ball more. He has an elite pass-catching skill set with the ability to make plays in the run game at the goal line. After three games, he gained 289 combined yards with two touchdowns and 19 catches. As a result, Swift sits third in running back scoring (59.90 fantasy points) in PPR leagues while seeing his snap percentage (68, 63, and 56) slide over the past two games.
The Bears struggled against running back out of the gate (452 combined yards with two touchdowns and 11 catches). Most of the damage came last week against the Browns (240 combined yards with a touchdown and eight catches).
Both Jonathan Taylor (knee) and Antonio Gibson (shin) have injury concerns heading into the week, but they should play. Saquon Barkley fits into a contrarian play due to the Saints’ stout play vs. the run (65/181/1 – 2.8 yards per rush).
WR Amari Cooper, Dallas Cowboys
Fantasy owners moved Cooper up to the one/two turn after his monster game in Week 1 (13/139/2 on 17 targets). Unfortunately, his payback came over his next two starts (3/24 and 3/26). He currently sits 18th in wide receiver scoring (50.0), showing how quickly a player’s value can change over a short time frame. Cooper remains a top player at home (6/106/1, 6/88/2, 11/226/1, 11/147/1, 6/100, 12/134/1, 7/79/1, 6/112/1, 4/121) over the past two seasons.
Carolina traded for CB CJ Henderson this week after playing his way out of Jacksonville’s starting lineup. The Panthers will also give CB A.J. Bouye his first playing time of the year. Wide receivers have 31 catches for 380 yards and three touchdowns vs. Carolina while facing three weak receiving corps (NYJ, NO, and HOU). Corey Davis (5/97/2) and Brandin Cooks (9/112) had the most success this season.
Cooper has a sliding salary, and his play and momentum should move back in the right direction in Week 4.
WR CeeDee Lamb, Dallas Cowboys
I won’t double stack the Cowboys’ top two wideouts this week, but I’m confident that one of the two should finish as a top 10 wide receiver this week. Game flow led to Lamb only seeing three targets (3/66) vs. the Eagles. Over the first two games, he caught 15 of his 24 targets for 185 yards and a touchdown. His ceiling remains high while offering a reasonable floor. Lamb needs Carolina to play well offensively this week, which may be a lot to ask with Christian McCaffrey out with an injury.
TE Noah Fant, Denver Broncos
The Broncos already had two injuries (Jerry Jeudy and KJ Hamler) that should improve Fant’s opportunity in the passing game. Over his previous two weeks, he caught six combined passes for 48 yards and a touchdown on nine targets. However, Fant still ranks 11th in tight end scoring (29.00 fantasy points) in PPR leagues.
Baltimore struggled to defend Darren Waller (10/105/1) and Travis Kelce (7/109/1) over the first two weeks. Waller earned his success by volume of chances (19) while the Ravens decided to focus on Tyreek Hill in their defensive game plan (a win for Kelce). In Week 3, T.J. Hockenson finished with only two catches for 10 yards despite two great games (8/97/1 and 8/66/1) to start the year.
Fant falls into the salary savior category, and Denver has enough firepower in the run game and at wide receiver to keep Baltimore from focusing on defending Fant.
RB Zack Moss, Buffalo Bills
The Bills surprisingly had Moss inactive for their first game. In limited snaps (18 – 28 percent) in Week 2, he vultured a pair of goal-line touchdowns in a minimal opportunity game (34 combined yards with two catches on 10 touches). Buffalo gave him the lead running back role against Washington, and Moss responded with 91 combined yards with a touchdown and three catches.
Houston gave up six rushing touchdowns (three to quarterbacks) over the last two weeks. Over this span, running backs gained 352 combined yards with four touchdowns and 10 catches.
Devin Singletary remains in the mix for touches, and a hot hand could lead to the running back opportunity shifting back to him. With Moss, I’m confident that he will be the goal back while understanding Josh Allen can snipe rushing touchdowns in close. In addition, his value in the passing game puts him at least a 50/50 split, helping his floor. I also view Moss as the closing back who should see most of the action late if the Bills blow out the Texans as expected.
RB Trey Sermon, San Francisco 49ers
The Sermon owners came away from last week’s game with more questions than answers with his role in the 49ers. San Fran fell behind early, taking away any chance of establishing the run game. Despite a dull showing (34 combined yards with a touchdown and two catches), the 49ers had him on the field for 59 percent of their snaps, and his score gave him close to backend RB2 value.
Seattle had already defended 104 rushes over the first three games. They faced the Colts (30/113), Titans (40/212/3), and Vikings (34/140). Much of their defense failure has also come against running backs in the passing game (27/248 on 32 targets).
I don’t see Elijah Mitchell being a factor this week (his status could change with a better injury update), and Kyle Juszczyk won’t see as many chances in this matchup. Sermon should score a minimum of one touchdown even if Trey Lance steals a touchdown at the goal line. Sermon should push toward 20 touches with a healthy game, which works well for his lower salary.
WR Corey Davis, New York Jets
The Zach Wilson to Davis combination shined in Week 1 (5/97/2), but the passing window has been small for the Jets against New England and Denver. Over this stretch, he caught only seven of his 15 targets for 49 yards. New York has already allowed 15 targets, and Wilson has seven interceptions.
Tennessee had significant issues defending the Cardinals (17/246/4) and Seahawks (19/326/2) wideouts over the first two weeks. Their pass defense tightened up against the Colts (194/0), which is more of an Indianapolis offensive issue than a great improvement by their defense.
Davis faced his former team, adding motivation for success. I don’t view him as a target in single lineup entries, but he makes sense in GPPs for owners entering multiple rosters.
WR Brandon Aiyuk, San Francisco 49ers
I’m going to use Aiyuk based on my two-game winning streak theory in the daily games. I’m looking for a player that flashed the previous game while also delivering enough stats to be a difference-maker based on his salary. Last week, he caught four of his six targets for 37 yards and one touchdown. In his only game vs. Seattle in 2020, Aiyuk caught eight passes for 91 yards and a touchdown.
Wideouts have 39 catches for 515 yards and four touchdowns on 72 targets against the Seahawks. Zack Pascal (4/43/2), Julio Jones (6/128), and Justin Jefferson (9/118/1) had the most success.
Deebo Samuel should draw CB Tre Flowers, creating a winnable window for Aiyuk. If George Kittle doesn’t play, his opportunity will rise even more. Last year, we saw him string together multiple good games, which points to a buying opportunity in this matchup.
TE Will Dissly, Seattle Seahawks
For a daily owner looking to punt the tight end position, Dissly should be the lowest tier option to target. The Seahawks have had him on the field for 84 of 161 plays (52.2 percent) while working as their TE2. Gerald Everett should miss this week’s game with Covid-19, giving Dissly a starting opportunity. Russell Wilson delivered 19 touchdowns to his tight ends from 2018 to 2020.
The 49ers struggled to defend T.J. Hockenson in Week 1 (9/99/1), but they kept the Eagles (3/30) and Packers (2/10) tight ends in check over the previous two matchups.
The goal with Dissly is to score at the goal line with a 4/40 type day.
My Week 4 Million Dollar Lineup
I’m happy with my roster structure until I come to the flex position and defense. I saw multiple viable options in a similar range to Robert Woods. I choose to ride the improved Rams’ passing game with the hopes that their WR2 finds his stride against the Cardinals. Unfortunately, the decision to land on him forced me to take one of the weakest defenses on the board. On the positive side, Tennessee would have a downgrade in receiving talent if Julio Jones can’t play after losing A.J. Brown last week.
The gambler in me wanted to roster Gabriel Davis as a second hookup to Josh Allen, which would have put me in range to roster a top-tier defense below the Bills.
More Fantasy Week 4 Coverage:
Senior analyst Shawn Childs is a multi-sport, high-stakes fantasy legend with lifetime earnings in the high six-figures. He has been providing in-depth, analytical break downs for years all while helping his subscribers to countless titles and winnings across season-long & DFS. An inaugural inductee of the NFBC Hall of Fame, Shawn can teach you how to prep like a champ!