The Player Models are the lifeblood of our NFL DFS product. They house our projections for each player, but that’s just the beginning of what you’ll find inside. After all, a projection is just part of the equation: salary, ceiling, and projected ownership all factor into which players stand out as the best plays each week.
Let’s dive into our models and look at a few players with the highest ceilings and values for this week’s slate.
Note: Projections and Leverages Scores/Ratings may change throughout the week after this article is posted. Consult the Player Models directly for any updates as we get closer to lock.
Finally, make sure to check out all the projections available for purchase (Chris Raybon’s come included with a FantasyLabs subscription) within the FantasyLabs Models. Subscribers now have the option to purchase Derek Carty’s THE BLITZ from our Marketplace. Projections from One Week Season and Establish the Run are available if you’re a subscriber to those specific sites (our optimizer is a separate add-on feature).
You can also combine them to create your own aggregate projections:
NFL DFS Quarterback Picks
Top Ceiling: Jalen Hurts vs. Washington Commanders – $8,000 on DraftKings, $8,800 on FanDuel
Without Patrick Mahomes on the main slate, the big three of Jalen Hurts, Justin Herbert, and Josh Allen are at the top of almost all the projections. It’s easy to make a strong case for each of the three of them, but my favorite of the bunch is Hurts, as he takes on the Commanders.
Hurts has the highest ceiling projection of all the QBs using FantasyLabs projections on FanDuel and the highest median projection of all QBs on DraftKings. He has the second-highest ceiling projection in THE BLITZ projections on both DraftKings and FanDuel.
Last Monday, Hurts had his best passing performance of the season, piling up 277 yards while throwing for a touchdown and rushing for a second score on his way to 21.88 DraftKings points and 21.88 FanDuel points. The rushing touchdown was his 29th in 48 career games, which is the most by any QB through 50 career games. In the previous week, he had two of those rushing scores with over 25 fantasy points on each site against the Vikings.
Hurts’ signature move is becoming the one-yard touchdown plunge, which is almost unstoppable in real life and makes him a very productive fantasy option. His rushing production gives him both a high floor and a high ceiling, especially at home, where he typically puts up big games.
Last season, he had three total touchdowns in each of his two games against the Commanders, even though it was Washington that memorably handed the Eagles their first loss last year. Washington’s defense gave up 300 yards and three passing touchdowns to Russell Wilson two weeks ago and was dismantled by the Bills and Josh Allen last week.
While all three of the star QBs have the potential for big weeks, Hurts at home in this home division game is my top option.
Top Value: Jimmy Garoppolo at Los Angeles Chargers – $5,300 on DraftKings, $6,900 on FanDuel
Garoppolo is trending in the right direction as of the time this article is being written, but obviously, this pick assumes that he is able to clear the concussion protocol and start against the Chargers. Jimmy G has the second-highest projected Pts/Sal on DraftKings using the 50-50 blend of THE BLITZ and FantasyLabs projections, and he also has the third-highest Projected Plus/Minus of all QBs.
One of the main reasons that Garoppolo is rated so highly is that he faces a very beatable Chargers pass defense. In each of their three games this season, the Chargers have allowed the opposing QB to exceed salary-based projections. The QBs have an average Plus/Minus of 6.9 DraftKings points in those games and have totaled seven passing touchdowns and one rushing touchdown while averaging 360 passing yards per contest.
While he did throw three interceptions, Garoppolo’s performance last week on Sunday Night Football against the Steelers was actually his best fantasy game of the season. He exceeded salary-based expectations by a comfortable margin in that contest and threw multiple touchdowns for the second time in his three games with Vegas.
Garoppolo has good receiving options to work with in Davante Adams and Jakobi Meyers, and the group should have plenty of space to operate during their late-afternoon matchup in L.A. The game has the second-highest point total on the slate with an over/under of 48.5. The Chargers have been getting into back-and-forth high-scoring games, and if this game follows that same pattern, Jimmy G should be a good value as long as he’s cleared to play.
If you need a different cheap option, Kenny Pickett is another option that performs well in the models. I highlighted him in my early look at this slate.
NFL DFS Running Back Picks
Top Ceiling: Christian McCaffrey vs. Arizona Cardinals – $9,200 on DraftKings, $9,700 on FanDuel
Even though he’s the most expensive RB on the slate, Christian McCaffrey brings such a great ceiling that he’s a strong play to build around. He has exceeded his elevated salary-based expectation in every game this season and is the most reliable option at the position due to his consistent volume and outstanding results.
It’s clear that coach Kyle Shanahan has built his entire offensive system around CMC, and the running back is a home run threat every time he gets one of his many touches. He has found the end zone in each of the 49ers’ first three games and has reached 20 fantasy points on both DraftKings and FanDuel in each contest, even though he hasn’t had a multi-touchdown game. In his three games, he has averaged 23.7 touches and 141 total yards per game.
It should be a pretty good home matchup for McCaffrey since the Cardinals are in the top 10 in most fantasy points allowed to RBs. They have allowed four RB touchdowns and an average of 98.5 rushing yards per game to opposing RBs. After their shocking win last week against the Cowboys, a return to form against the 49ers on the road would be understandable, and CMC could break out for a massive total as a result.
The Cardinals have been especially susceptible to RBs operating as receivers, and McCaffrey has also been productive in that role this season and throughout his career.
Top Value: Kyren Williams at Indianapolis Colts – $6,000 on DraftKings, $7,600 on FanDuel
Williams has the highest Projected Plus/Minus of all running backs on DraftKings using the 50/50 blended projections, and he has a 97% Bargain Rating on DraftKings, which is the second-highest of all the RBs on Sunday’s slate. While he’s not quite as much of a steal, he also ranks in the top five on FanDuel using either the 50/50 blended projections or THE BLITZ projections
Williams played 100% of the Rams’ offensive snaps against the Bengals, so his production dip was due to the strong Cincinnati defensive showing rather than a loss of opportunity. After scoring two touchdowns in each of the first two weeks and vastly exceeding salary-based expectations, he came back to earth with just 38 rushing yards and 27 receiving yards. However, he did get seven targets, so again, the opportunities are there.
Due to his bell-cow role for the Rams, he should be a good value play against the Colts, who have given up multiple rushing touchdowns in two of their first three games. When the Rams are in close contests, they rely on him as a rusher, but even when they’re forced to go pass-heavy, they still incorporate Williams enough to make him both a high-floor and high-ceiling play this week.
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NFL DFS Wide Receiver Picks
Top Ceiling: Keenan Allen vs. Las Vegas Raiders – $7,900 on DraftKings, $9,500 on FanDuel
Like at QB, there is a super-elite trio that leads the way at receiver this week: Keenan Allen, Tyreek Hill, and Justin Jefferson. It’s easy to make a strong case for each of the three options, who have all been outstanding this season. My slight favorite of the group based on matchup and opportunity this week is Allen.
Last week, Allen was targeted a whopping 20 times and finished with 18 catches for 215 yards. He didn’t have a touchdown catch but actually did throw a touchdown to Mike Williams (knee), who was lost later in the game to injury. Williams’ absence will open up even more looks for Allen, who already has been a go-to option all season for Justin Herbert.
That big game from Allen was his second straight week exceeding salary-based expectations, and his average Plus/Minus in those two games has been a jaw-dropping +23.03 DraftKings points.
Allen has the second-highest ceiling projection on both DraftKings and FanDuel using THE BLITZ projections. THE BLITZ also gives him the highest projected Plus/Minus at the position on DraftKings by a wide margin. Additionally, he is the only receiver on the entire slate that matches at least seven Pro Trends on DraftKings.
Allen also has a great matchup against the Raiders in the game with the second-highest Vegas point total of the slate. The Raiders have given up double-digit catches and a touchdown to opposing wide receivers each week this season. The Raiders have allowed 12.0 catches for 142.33 yards per game to opposing WRs and let them find then end zone five times in three games.
Allen’s consistent workload with the potential for more after Williams’ injury and his soft matchup are enough for me to give him a very slight edge over Hill and Jefferson this week.
Top Value: Zay Flowers at Cleveland Browns – $5,600 on DraftKings, $6,100 on FanDuel
Using the 50/50 blend of FantasyLabs and THE BLITZ projections, Zay Flowers has the second-highest Projected Plus/Minus this week on FanDuel and also ranks in the top 10 in the blended projections on DraftKings.
With Odell Beckham Jr. (ankle) trending towards missing a second straight week, Flowers is in line to stay the clear top option in the Ravens’ passing game. So far this season, the rookie has a 29.1% Target share, which puts him in the top 10 in the NFL. He has posted double-digit DraftKings points in each of his first three games and averaged 7.0 catches on 8.3 targets for 62.7 yards per game.
His aDOT is low since most of his routes have been over the middle out of the slot, but he has the ability to make plays after the catch and has even gotten at least one carry in each of his three games this season. Two of those carries have come in the red zone, where he has also been targeted five times, although he still is searching for his first NFL touchdown.
Flowers and the Ravens head to Cleveland to take on their division rivals this week. The Browns have been good against opposing WRs this year but part of that is due to the rain against the Bengals in Week 1 and facing only the Steelers and Titans passing games since then.
Like with Williams at RB, Flowers’ volume gives him both a high ceiling and a high floor, and his first NFL touchdown is likely in his near future if he keeps operating as the team’s top WR as well as a rushing option in the red zone.
NFL DFS Tight End Picks
Top Ceiling: George Kittle vs. Arizona Cardinals – $5,100 on DraftKings, $6,300 on FanDuel
Kittle had a quiet first two games of the season but re-emerged with nine targets in Week 3 against the Giants. He hauled in seven catches for 90 yards and exceeded salary-based expectations for the first time this season. Part of his extra work was due to injuries to Deebo Samuel (ribs/knee) and Brandon Aiyuk (shoulder), so if either or both of them are out or limited again this week, Kittle has an even more upside.
Using the blended projections, Kittle has the second-highest ceiling projection on FanDuel and the third-highest on DraftKings. He also ranks in the top three on both sites in median and floor projections at the position.
The Cardinals always seem to struggle against tight ends, and that trend has continued this season. They haven’t given up a touchdown to the position yet, but have allowed at least five gith end receptions in each game while giving up an average of 62.33 yards per game. Especially if Samuel or Aiyuk is out, this could set up as a smash spot for Kittle and a good place to pair him and CMC together in a 49ers stack.
Top Value: Pat Freiermuth at Houston Texans – $3,400 on DraftKings, $5,500 on FanDuel
While I still like taking a flier on Dalton Kincaid (discussed in my early look), Pat Freiermuth is also poised to be a great value option this week. Using the 50/50 blended projections, Freiermuth has the highest projected Plus/Minus at the position on DraftKings and the eighth-highest on FanDuel, where he’s a little less of a bargain. On DraftKings, he brings a 97% Bargain Rating and the eighth-highest ceilig projection despite only having the 12th-highest salary.
Freiermuth has been a favorite target for Kenny Pickett in the red zone, leading the team with four red zone targets, including two touchdowns in his three games this year. His most productive game came last week against the Raiders when he hauled in 3-of-4 targets for 41 yards and a touchdown.
He’s playing the vast majority of Steelers’ snaps this season and gets a good matchup against the Texans. Houston has given up the ninth-most receiving yards to TEs and the tenth-most fantasy points. If you spend up to stack stars in other spots, Freiermuth’s touchdown equity is enough to make him one of the strongest value plays on Sunday’s slate at this salary, especially on DraftKings