Safety is the name of the game in cash games, but FantasyDraft also pays out at least 25 percent of the field in every single contest, including tournaments, as well. This should motivate users to lean towards safe options in all formats on a site that puts #PlayersFirst. Without the top-heavy nature of tournaments, single entrants do not have to go with a “YOLO (you only live once)” mindset in tournaments, but can play for a solid cash instead. That makes life a whole lot easier.
Here are the “safe bets,” or players who can be inserted into lineups without fear of a dud, heading into Week 9:
Sam Bradford, Vikings, $10,000 – Legitimately all of the upper-echelon QBs draw beatable matchups this week so spending up at the position is enticing but Sam Bradford presents a strong counterpoint. Instead of paying up for the likes of Andrew Luck, Aaron Rodgers or Cam Newton, Bradford allows you to roster an upside QB and pair him with their weapons. Assuming you believe Luck will target T.Y. Hilton a healthy amount of times, or even throw him a TD, well each reception and/or TD produced by Hilton awards him more points than Luck according to scoring system. Meanwhile, Bradford is literally listed at minimum cost for the position and will face a Lions team that has allowed the most passing TDs of any defense (19) and has intercepted only four passes. As if that were not enough, the Lions rank 29th in Football Outsiders’ defense-adjusted value over average (DVOA) against opposing number one WRs and 27th against opposing TEs which are both of Bradford’s favorite targets in his own offense (Stefon Diggs and Kyle Rudolph). With Adrian Peterson done for the season, Bradford’s running game is unreliable from week-to-week and really does not provide him with much assistance. Therefore, he should be forced to throw and easily compete for the lead in terms of fantasy-points-per-dollar at the QB position…even after his terrible performance on Monday Night Football.
Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys, $14,900 – What is wrong with Ezekiel Elliott? After eclipsing 130 yards rushing in four consecutive games, he only rushed for 96 yards last week. Of course, I am being facetious as Elliott faced a stout rush defense and still put up 18.80 fantasy points. This week, the Cowboys will square off against a Browns team that has surrendered the third most fantasy points to opposing RBs including 12 total TDs (second most of any team). Sure the team just added linebacker Jamie Collins via trade but he is not going to cure all the defense’s woes by himself. Led by a dominant offensive line, Elliott is an explosive player who simply presents a mismatch to a weak opponent this week.
Devontae Booker, Broncos, $12,000 – Devontae Booker will “go through some more tests” but he anticipates he will be fine for Sunday’s tilt against the Raiders who rank 27th in rush defense according to DVOA. To this point, the Raiders have allowed the third most yards per carry (YPC) of any defense (4.8) and the fifth most rushing yards per game (125.0). With news C.J. Anderson will miss the remainder of the season due to a torn meniscus, Booker is clearly the lead back moving forward. It does not matter that his price tag rose by almost double because this week’s tag is much closer to fair value than last week’s (which is why he has 80-plus percent owned across all formats). The chalk from the week before always ends up under-owned the following week and I expect Booker to follow that trend. Although he only averaged 2.9 YPC last week, his workload is solidified enough (especially in the passing game) to the point where there is no need to worry about him totally flopping (barring injury).
Antonio Brown, Steelers, $16,700 – With Ben Roethlisberger slated to make his return this weekend, it is time to fire up old reliable: Antonio Brown. When Roethlisberger is healthy, Brown is worth a price tag of at least $18,000 (like Julio Jones was priced last week) and yet he comes at a nice discount from that true WR1 fair value. In 77 career games with Roethlisberger under center, Brown has averaged 6.83 receptions (RECs) per game and 19.45 fantasy points compared to just 4.57 RECs and 11.2 fantasy points per game with someone else starting at QB. The over/under opened at just 43.5 but it should be expected to rise as the week goes on and the prospects of Roethlisberger playing become clearer. Ravens beat writer Jamison Hensley reports the Ravens believe Roethlisberger will play on Sunday and he participated in Monday’s practice so all signs point to him suiting up. If so, Brown returns to must-start status as per usual.
T.Y. Hilton, Colts, $14,300 – On Sunday, T.Y. Hilton suffered a hamstring injury but returned to the game and fought through it. When all said and done, Hilton only reeled in 1-6 targets for a measly 20 yards. Assuming he rests it this week and returns to practice later in the week, I would not be afraid to go back to the well in Week 8 against a banged up Packers secondary. Sure Julio Jones was just slowed down by them but he too suffered an injury mid-game and fought through it. Had Jones been full strength for the entirety of the afternoon, there likely would have been a totally different outcome. Even so, Mohamed Sanu enjoyed a monster game against this secondary to the tune of nine RECs (on 10 targets) for 84 yards and a TD. What does he have in common with Hilton? Both move around the formation quite a bit but primarily play out of the slot. In what should be a shootout on Sunday (projected 54 point over/under) between the Colts and Packers, Hilton should be targeted heavily…especially if the Colts get down early (and only 23-percent of the early public betting money is going towards the Colts). Expect a bounce-back performance from the star caliber receiver.
Kyle Rudolph, Vikings, $7,800 – Short rest is never ideal for a player but six days rest becomes a whole lot easier when squaring off against a cupcake defense. Yes, Kyle Rudolph will draw the dream matchup against the Lions this week who have become the Coors Field of TEs. Literally every single week a TE gets it done against them and they have now allowed 20 TDs to the position over their last 24 games including allowing back-to-back TE4 or better performances to Vernon Davis and C.J. Fiedorowicz. As noted in the Monday Preview, only Greg Olsen and Jason Witten have been targeted on a higher percent of their respective teams’ red zone targets than Rudolph and only Martellus Bennett and Jack Doyle (four) have scored more TDs than this three. Essentially, he has emerged as a true TE1 in this offense and the defense will have no answer for him. Fading him in cash games is probably a grave mistake this week.