Everybody who has played fantasy football knows a PowerBall player. That player who has a ridiculous unexpected performance, like Eddie Royal in Week 2 of 2013 and Josh Gordon or Antonio Brown in Week 3.
These players seemingly come out of nowhere. But they do end up in a couple lineups after an early Sunday free agent add. They win games at sites like FanDuel and Fantasy Kings too. Is there a way to determine a PowerBall play before they blow up on the field?
I devised a formula that worked pretty well last week. It’s only been one week so it might be an accident, but I’m going to follow it again in Week 4.
These are the defenses I targeted last week, with the most targeted at the top, and a few notes about how their opposition performed:
Joique Bell accumulated 132 total yards from scrimmage and scored a touchdown and Nate Burleson, pre-pizza-saving-broken arm, caught six for 116. Both were extreme values. Bell was probably in 50 percent of my FanDuel leagues last week, my best of 2013 so far.
Jake Locker threw for 299 and a score and rushed for 68 and a score. He earned decent money for my FanDuel teams in Week 3. Nate Washington also had 8 catches for 131 on 10 targets and Kendall Wright (6-for-71 with a 25-yard catch called back because of a Kenny Britt penalty) and Justin Hunter (1-35-TD) provided some decent points per dollar.
Until we learn otherwise, start any defense facing the Giants. Eli Manning was sacked six times in the first half against the Panthers last week. With that kind of mess, the opposing offense is going to be on the field a lot. Cam Newton was awfully inaccurate in the first half, but by the time the dust had settled he had thrown for 225 and 3 TDs and rushed for 45 yards and another TD. Ted Ginn was 3-71-1 and Brandon Lafell scored twice on 3 catches for 53 yards. Carolina’s D scored 23 fantasy points.
Despite the Browns having Brian Hoyer at QB and the Trent Richardson trade, I still played Jordan Cameron in multiple leagues and played Josh Gordon in one. Gordon wasn’t quite the PowerBall play of the week, but his 10 catches, 146 yards and a touchdown for 27.8 fantasy points ($197.84 per point at FanDuel) lost out only to Antonio Brown and Santonio Holmes. Cameron caught 6 for 66 and 2 touches. Hoyer, of course, went off for 321 and 3 TDs. He was also picked 3 times. It’ll be interesting to see what he does against a capable defense.
Russell Wilson threw 4 TD passes. Sidney Rice caught two of them and added 5-79. Doug Baldwin caught a 35-yard TD. TE Luke Wilson caught 5-for-76 and Golden Tate added 5-for-88. Marshawn Lynch was having a good game, but the score got out of hand so fast the second team put the game away.
It’s odd to put the 49ers D on here, but through two weeks they showed no ability to stop the run. The Colts took note. They rushed 39 times for 179 yards and three different players — Andrew Luck, Ahmad Bradshaw and Trent Richardson — scored touchdowns. Bradshaw finished with 111 yards from scrimmage. While they ground it out trying to keep the ball out of Colin Kaepernick‘s hands, Darrius Heyward-Bey still caught 5 for 59 yards.
NOTE: The formula also picked Green Bay, Baltimore, Philadelphia and Indianapolis. With the exception of Houston’s flop against Baltimore, there were two or three standout performances against each of those defenses.
So, the formula can’t tell us which exact players to pick, but it can give us some good targets.
Here are Week 4’s top PowerBall targets according to the formula. I’ve also included notations for the weakest parts of those defenses. The formula was good at picking defenses (Nos. 1, 3, 5 and 6 in fantasy points last week) and last week’s top kicker, Ryan Succop, but was otherwise mediocre at picking kickers. But I still think any team with a +K/D means the matchup is good opportunity for kickers and defenses:
OAK vs. WAS
Washington is by far the best target overall target. They can’t stop anything, but they are especially inept against the pass. +K/D
IND vs. JAX
We probably won’t see the same thing as last week out of the Colts, but Jacksonville is poorest against the run. +K/D
DAL vs. SD
The stars have aligned for a big day out of Tony Romo, Jason Witten, Dez Bryant and ???. Miles Austin has a sore hammy. TE Gavin Escobar (13.3) and Terrence Williams (12.0) lead the team in yards per catch. And they cost the minimum $4,500 at FanDuel. Just saying.
KC vs. NYG
The Chiefs defense has been tearing it up. It’ll be a warm knife through butter situation this week. That means a lot of carries/catches for Jamaal Charles, but he may not be needed after halftime if the Giants flop again. +K/D
PIT vs. MIN
The last tape the Vikings wanted to see coming into this week was that aerial highlight show between Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown. Either defense in this contest is a worthy play. +K/D
SF vs. STL
The 49ers defense should be a nice play this week, but it’s hard to recommend them at their current price and their average 4 fantasy points per game. If I’m going to pay top dollar for a defense it’s going to be for the Bears or Seahawks. Besides giving up a lot of points, the Rams are also poorest at stopping the run, meaning there could be a big day in store for Frank Gore and his $6,700 sale price. +K/D
WAS vs. OAK
SHOOTOUT WARNING. No. 1 PowerBall target + No. 7 PowerBall target = PowerBall winner?
Players from the following teams might also be good PowerBall plays in Week 4: Ravens (especially running vs. Bills), Lions (especially passing vs. Bears) and Bills (especially passing vs. Ravens)
Other posts in this series
More advanced FanDuel tips and tricks