Thursday brings another island game puzzle with plenty of twists and turns. The 47.5 projected point total is likely a couple of points lower than it would be if all the key participants in this matchup were at full health. Uncertainty and guesswork often favor those who are most prepared, so do not lament about having additional variables in play.
Heading into NFL Week 4 Thursday Night Football, Stokastic is bringing plenty of NFL DFS tools and information for all of the different slates, game formats and sites.
This column will provide free analysis for the single-slate action on DraftKings and FanDuel. It includes team capsules, player rankings, comments and NFL DFS picks. There is loads of information and NFL DFS Showdown analysis to get into for both DraftKings and FanDuel on this Week 4 Thursday Night Football slate featuring the Miami Dolphins at Cincinnati Bengals.
NFL DFS Showdown Picks: Week 4 Thursday Night Football
Currently listed as questionable with back and ankle injuries that seemed awfully similar to a concussion when they occurred, Tua Tagovailoa is expected to give it a go tonight. Those of you who saw the replays of Tagovailoa looking dazed and confused after taking a hit are likely to be skeptical of his current injury designations.
If the third-year signal-caller is under center tonight, we should operate under the assumption that he will not have any limitations. There is no reason for the Dolphins to rush him into action as they are the last remaining undefeated team and it is a long season ahead.
The Stokastic projections currently have Tagovailoa as the QB10 in the full Week 4 rankings. Cincinnati is ranked in the top-10 for both rushing and passing DVOA, though Miami counters with dynamic duos at both the running back and wide receiver positions.
The Miami backfield is in a full-blown committee with both Raheem Mostert and Chase Edmond splitting time equally. Fullback Alec Ingold is likely to be on the field for around 30% of the snaps and he could always luck into a touchdown or a 15-yard draw or bubble screen.
The three backs have been active in the passing game with Edmonds getting eight targets, while Mostert has six and Ingold has five. On the season, Mostert has 24 carries for 78 yards, while Edmonds has 23 for 79 yards and a pair of rushing touchdowns last week. Ingold has one carry in each game thus far. Edmonds is more expensive on DraftKings ($1,800) and FanDuel ($2,500), though both players have similar projected popularity and Edmonds is 10% higher from a fantasy point perspective.
Jaylen Waddle has 30 targets, though 19 of them came in a wild Week 2 game against Baltimore. Off-season acquisition Tyreek Hill has 29 targets, though he has a more evenly distributed opportunity share with 12 targets in Week 1 and 13 in Week 2. Week 3 was a bizarre outcome with Miami winning at home, despite Buffalo running 90 plays and rolling up 497 yards to just 39 plays and 212 yards for the home team, which came out on top 21-19.
These players are options 1a and 1b in the Miami passing game with the rest of the receivers and tight ends combining for only 23 targets. Trent Sherfield has seen the most time on the field of the remaining receivers, though that works out to about half of the snaps. Cedrick Wilson has been dinged up, otherwise, he would take over some of Sherfield’s routes. Finally, there is former Washington State Cougar River Cracraft, who has played on just 35 snaps and seen two targets, yet managed to score on two and 11 yards catches.
Last season, Mike Gesicki was an excellent fantasy option as he spent most of his time in the slot or split out as a receiver. That is no longer the case and the coaches have openly said they are expecting more blocking from this position. Gesicki has gone from playing 70% of the snaps last year to just under half this season with only six targets.
Durham Smythe played a season-high 74% of the snaps in Week 3, though he too has only six targets on the season and is a far less accomplished receiver than Gesicki.
Cincinnati has allowed 15 sacks this season, though just two interceptions. Miami has six sacks and four turnovers, though, with a mediocre point total, the Dolphins are in play even on the road in the single-game format.
Joe Burrow has had two strong games and one dud in Week 2 on the road in Dallas. All three of his wideouts are healthy as is his tight end. The Dolphins somehow survived last weekend despite 63 pass attempts from Josh Allen and 90 offensive plays. That is a lot of work and a short recovery time, so it would not be a surprise to see them looking a step slow after the second quarter.
Burrow has two dynamic receivers as well as a steady outlet option and the luxury of a strong running game. While his coaches and the front office would prefer that he not run, he does have 15 carries and 73 rushing yards through three tilts.
Joe Mixon is one of the few remaining running backs who command a convincing share of the backfield touches. He has 108 more plays this season than back Samaje Perine, while third-stringer Chris Evans has been on the field for only three snaps.
Mixon is second on the team with 20 targets, though that is only one more than Tee Higgins, who missed some time in the opener. Anything less than 100 combined yards and a touchdown will be disappointing for the former Oklahoma star. Perine is a capable backup, though he is not getting enough of a discount from Mixon to make him more than a lottery ticket in the hopes he lucks into a touchdown for a second straight week, or something unfortunate befalls Mixon.
JaMarr Chase has been getting heavy targets, though the yards have not yet followed, aside from his 129 yard performance in Week 1. Do not despair, he will be on track soon enough and will benefit from a healthy Higgins playing alongside him.
Tyler Boyd works the short and intermediate routes, though he does have the luxury of single coverage working in the shadow of two Pro Bowl caliber teammates. Mike Thomas is the only other receiver to get any looks from Burrow and that was only in the opener after Higgins was dinged up. Thomas did catch a two-point conversion last week, though that is incredibly tough to count on again.
Hayden Hurst was dealing with a sore groin last week, but he is not on the injured report. This season, he has 17 of the 21 tight end targets and he is by far the best pass catcher over Drew Sample and Mitchell Wilcox.
The Bengals are adequate on defense, though not particularly stout. They have tallied six sacks and five takeaways, and are an average fantasy option in this matchup.
Thursday Night Football Single-Game NFL DFS Strategy
The rankings below are best utilized for building out single-entry and three-max lineups, and for head-to-head and three-man formats. They provide a nice barometer for player value. However, those taking the MME approach should remember that correlation is key. This means matching a receiver or two with a quarterback in the Captain/MVP slot. That also works conversely, pairing a Captain/MVP pass catcher with their quarterback.
Week 4 Thursday Night Football NFL DFS Rankings
Top 10 NFL DFS Showdown Picks
- Joe Mixon: Solid production on the ground and through the air, lots of red zone competition does curb some of his upside.
- Ja’Marr Chase: Can score from anywhere on the field and he is capable of rolling up 100 yards in a half.
- Tyreek Hill: Would get the nod over Chase if his quarterback were 100%. Shares punt return duties with Waddle.
- Joe Burrow: There is a case for him to be in the multiplier slot, though if any of his receivers were to get two touchdowns, they would easily outproduce him.
- Tee Higgins: Just a $2,000 discount compared to Chase on FanDuel keeps him a few notches below. The $1,800 difference on DraftKings is a better percentage discount, however, it also raises his popularity to match that of Chase.
- Jaylen Waddle: Questionable with a groin injury, though expected to play. Keep tabs on any updates regarding the severity or potential limitations.
- Raheem Mostert: Ridiculous $4,400 salary on DraftKings should keep his popularity increasing up to kickoff. Also returns kickoffs.
- Tua Tagovailoa: Slight downgrade for his various injuries. Of course fortune tends to favor the bold.
- Chase Edmonds: Salary more appropriate for someone getting two-thirds of the work instead of an even split.
- Evan McPherson: Great kicker and an even better surname! Leads the league with nine field goal attempts, 11-of-13 from 50 or more yards over the last two seasons.
Secondary NFL DFS Showdown Picks
- Tyler Boyd: Always in play for a touchdown, but they will be sporadic throughout the season. Excellent possession receiver on a team filled with pass-catching options.
- Hayden Hurst: Played just 38% of the snaps last week, but is no longer on the injured list.
- Jason Sanders: Only two attempts this year, has averaged 1.8 field goal attempts per game since the start of the 2019 season with Miami.
- Cincinnati D/ST: Slight nod for being at home, if Tagovailoa is dinged up, they could easily end up with a handful of sacks or even better, a pick-six or scoop and score.
- Miami D/ST: Really needs a touchdown to be a difference maker.
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Lottery Ticket NFL DFS Showdown Picks
- Mike Gesicki: Last year he easily would have been at the top of the above section. NFL really does mean not for long.
- Trent Sherfield: Gets his own line with Wilson dinged up.
- Samaje Perine: $7,400 salary on DraftKings and $9,000 on FanDuel is daunting on his expected half-dozen touches.
- Durham Smyth, River Cracraft, Cedric Wilson, Alec Ingold and Mitchell Wilcox: Mix and match pool for those playing 100 or more lineups. All will see the field to varying degrees.
- Trent Taylor and Chris Evans: Return men for Cinci, unlikely to see any offensive snaps.
- Devin Asiasi, Mike Thomas, Salvon Ahmed and Myles Gaskin: Just say no!
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