When building main slate lineups for your FanDuel NFL Picks in Week 4, one should use the principle of KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid)! This week three elite WRs are facing three defenses that bleed points to WRs. I’m playing three lineups. All will have New York Giants WR Odell Beckham Jr., Minnesota Vikings WR Stefon Diggs, and Arizona Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald. The separate lineups will be stacked with a QB for the WRs, each of whom threw for over 300 yards last week.
WR Odell Beckham (NYG, $9,100 on FanDuel) should have a monster game against the Buccaneers defense that has allowed by far a league-worst against WRs surrendering an average of 36.87 Fantasy Points Per Game (FPPG), according to fantasy.nfl.com. The Bucs also have allowed a league-high of two passing TDs to WR per game. Last week, Beckham had nine receptions for 79 yards and two TDs against the Eagles.
QB Eli Manning (NYG, $7,000) is no longer good enough to play in a high school powder puff game. At least that is the popular opinion heard when listening to fantasy sports talk radio. Yeah, without Beckham, Manning struggled the first two weeks (7.7, and 12.6 FanDuel points).
Last week with Beckham Jr., Manning threw for 366 yards and three TDs with two INTs against the Eagles. I will be pleased if Manning is that bad again this week and only scores 24.6 FanDuel points. It may happen, considering the Bucs have allowed an average of 19.30 FPPG to QBs, and the two passing TDs per game.
WR Larry Fitzgerald (ARI, $6,700) can still flat out play. Barring a catastrophic event or injury, there are two things that are guarantees come Sunday: NFL will play games and QB Carson Palmer will throw the ball to Fitzgerald. His target average of 11.3 is third in the league, according to FantasyPros.com. Fitzgerald’s five red zone targets are tied for second, according to rosterwatch.com. The Cardinals will play the 49ers who have allowed an average of 27.30 FPPG to WRs. and are tied for a league high of allowing five TDs to WRs.
QB Carson Palmer (ARI, $7400) is dead to me now that he doesn’t have RB David Johnson (knee) as a weapon, was also spouted by a fantasy sports expert. The problem with that logic, without Johnson or anything resembling a decent run game, Palmer has to throw the ball.
He has thrown it so often, that he has passed for over 300 yards in every game and is third in the league in passing with a 308.5 average. His TD to INT rate is not good having thrown four of each. Because of the four INTs, he has a poor passer rating of 76.2, but he is putting up yards and finding the end zone which racks up fantasy points. That should continue this week. The 49ers defense have allowed six TDs to QBs (tied for fourth worst) and only have one INT.
WR Stefon Diggs (MIN, $7,200) may be one of the most undervalued players in fantasy, all he seems to do is score points. Diggs has a solid 8.3 target average. He is the third leading receiver with 293 yards and leads the league with four TD receptions. Yet, he only has three red zone targets. When the ball is thrown at him in the end zone, he catches it and lands in bounds. The Vikings will play the Lions who have allowed a whopping league-high 638 yards to WRs, three TDs, and second most 27.67 FPPG.
QB Case Keenum (MIN, $6,800) is the backup to Sam Bradford and hasn’t performed constantly, but is coming off of a monster game. Last week, he completed a career-high 369 yards and three TDs against the Bucs (makes the Manning play look good).
On paper, this does not like a good matchup this week for Keenum. While Detroit bleeds fantasy points against WRs, they have been strong against QBs because they have seven INTs (second most). Keenum, however, is outstanding at protecting the ball and has not thrown an INT in two games this year. If he can continue to avoid the interceptions against Lions, then he could have a performance that resembles last week.
If you want to lower your risk and broaden the WRs you use this week, also consider: Keenan Allen (LAC, $7,300), DeAndre Hopkins (TEN, $7300), Marqise Lee (JAC, $6,200), Rishard Mathews (TEN, $6,000), and Emanuel Sanders (DEN, $6,900).
RBs, two of three
RB Todd Gurley (LAR, $8,000) has an excellent opportunity to lead the league in fantasy points scored by RBs. He is a workhorse that is getting the ball both as a runner and a receiver. Gurley has 242 rushing yards rushing with four TDs, and 140 receiving yards with two TDs.
The matchup against the Cowboys isn’t fantastic, but it’s also not horrible. Dallas is about the middle of the pack with 18.70 FPPG to RBs and has allowed two rushing TDs. Elite RBs tend to perform well against average defenses and Gurley is a lock to get plenty of opportunities that will give him a high floor.
RB Dalvin Cook (MIN, $7,500) is another workhorse. Cook is second in the league in rushing with 288 yards, and has 10 receptions for 82 yards. Cooks will likely continue to see pass catching opportunities with QB Sam Bradford (knee) not playing because he is a safe option for Keenum. The Jets defense has allowed a seventh worst 20.97 FPPG to RBs.
RB Christian McCaffrey (CAR, $6,400) maybe a bit of a gamble, but is one that I’m willing to take. Last week, McCaffrey hauled in nine catches for 101 yards and added another 16 yards on the ground on four carries. I’m banking that this was not an anomaly and McCaffrey will play a heavy role as a pass catcher virtually assuring he will make value. If he gets a TD then he could have a huge day. QB Cam Newton turned to McCaffrey when WR Kelvin Benjamin (knee) went down. The Panthers lost their elite TE in Greg Olsen (foot) the week before.
Thin at pass catchers, McCaffrey became a viable option. This will likely continue because Newton (shoulder) is not playing well, and McCaffrey is a safe option instead of throwing deep. McCaffrey may not be a TD machine, but if he gets that many opportunities there is a good chance he breaks one for a huge fantasy play. The opportunity may be there this week with the Patriots defense which has allowed a league-high 26.93 FPPG to RBs and has given up four TDs (two rushing, two receiving).
The biggest concern in playing McCaffrey is the Patriots HC Bill Belichick will make him the focal point of their defense. With a low price and likely high volume in the passing game, it’s still likely McCaffrey makes value. I’m also using McCaffrey because he allows me the opportunity to afford a high-end RB in Gurley or Cook.
RB Ezekiel Elliott (DAL, $8,300) should also be considered. He has a phenomenal matchup against the Rams who have allowed a second worst 26.63 FPPG to RBs, and a league high of five rushing TDs. Elliott, however, has only one rushing TD and is $300 more expensive than Gurley who has three more total TDs. When deciding between performance vs matchup, I went with Gurley who has proven to get the job done on a more constant basis so far this year.
TE, pick one
Finding a reliable and healthy TE in a good position this week is virtually impossible. With that said, the field was narrowed to two viable options.
Jesse James (PIT, $5,100) was targeted eight times in week 1 against the Browns who are dreadful at covering TEs. James had six receptions for 41 yards and two TDs against Cleveland. Then over the next two weeks James was largely ineffective suffering an ankle injury in Week 2, and shoulder injury in Week 3. James fully practiced on Friday and is expected to play. This week, James faces the Ravens who are statistically the worst at covering TEs. Baltimore has allowed four TDs and an average of 14.37 FPPG to TEs, both a league high.
Evan Engram ($5,200) is cheap and a safe bet that he will provide some points at the TE position. Engram has become a regular part of Giants offense with 13 catches for 138 yards and a TD. Last week, he caught five passes for 45 yards. The Buccaneers have allowed a fourth worst FPPG average of 10.87. Tampa Bay has only played three games, but has allowed a second worst three TDs to TEs.
McLellan’s Week 4 FanDuel NFL Picks
Keenan Allen (alternate)
DeAndre Hopkins (alternate)
Marqise Lee (alternate)
Rishard Mathews (alternate)
Emanuel Sanders (alternate)
Ezekiel Elliott (alternate)