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DFS: With passing games exploding, save on QBs and WRs, spend up on bell-cow RBs

October 12, 2018

It’s hard to believe five weeks are already in the books, but here we are in Week 6.

This middle part of the NFL season is always my favorite. We now have a large enough data set to weed out some of the early-season variance, but it’s still early enough that teams haven’t started to phone it in.

Well, minus the Raiders.

So let’s go over some trends we’re seeing in large-field tournaments.

Not surprisingly, we’re seeing game stacks dominate the leaderboards as fellow Pro Football Weekly editor John Sahly focused on last week.

But there’s something noticeable outside of stacks: players are loading up on bellcow backs and taking chances at QB and WR.

The winner of Week 5′s Sunday Million on FanDuel this week featured Carson Wentz and Odell Beckham Jr. at less than 5 percent ownership with Todd Gurley, James Conner and T.J. Yeldon at RB.

The runner-up paired low-owned Aaron Rodgers with Davante Adams and then stocked up at RB with Gurley, Conner and Saquon Barkley.

The strategy makes sense when you consider how pass happy the NFL has gone this season.

Seven QBs scored at least 30 points in Week 4, and six reached that mark in Week 2. Two teams managed to break 40 points in Week 3.

It’s pretty simple what we’re looking for here. Take the RBs with guaranteed volume and then find ways to be different at QB and WR.

With that in mind, let’s look at some names to target in Week 6.

Kirk Cousins ($6,700 DraftKings/$7,900 FanDuel): The Cardinals’ run defense is awful, so this is theoretically a spot where the Vikings could choose to get their run game going. If Mike Zimmer is smart, however, he’ll let Cousins do his thing until Dalvin Cook is healthy.

Isaiah Crowell ($5,000 DraftKings/$6,700 FanDuel): It doesn’t feel great recommending Crowell, but his price is simply too low (he’s the 19th-priced RB on DraftKings). Crowell can be productive in the right situation, and as a home favorite against the Colts is an ideal spot.

Joe Mixon ($7,500 DraftKings/$7,100 FanDuel): Mixon was supposed to be eased back into the lineup after returning from a knee injury last week. Instead, he was the only Bengals running back to record a carry. As long as Gio Bernard is sidelined, Mixon will remain Cincinnati’s workhorse regardless of gameflow.

Jordy Nelson ($4,900 DraftKings/$5,600 FanDuel): Nelson has come on strong over the past three weeks after a slow start to his Oakland tenure. The veteran is developing a nice rapport with Derek Carr and should have room to work in the middle of Seattle’s hollowed-out defense.

Josh Reynolds ($3,900 DraftKings/$5,100 FanDuel): Cross Reynolds off this list if Brandin Cooks and Cooper Kupp appear likely to suit up, but that’s up in the air after both sustained concussions in Week 5. Reynolds stepped into the lineup last week and flashed upside in limited snaps as a rookie in 2017.

Cameron Brate ($3,700 DraftKings/$4,500 FanDuel): O.J. Howard sapped Brate’s usage in 2017, but Brate still managed six TDs last year after scoring eight times in 2016. Expect Brate’s 2016 usage to return with Howard sidelined with a knee injury.

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