Each week in this column, you’ll find my favorite pivot plays on the DraftKings main slate. This isn’t to say to eat some of the chalk, sometimes the chalk is the chalk for good reason, and you should use those players in your lineups. I’ve based the pivot plays off the FTN Ownership projections but remember, never pivot off of a good play to a bad play just because they’re projected to be lower owned. That’s stupid. The move is to find the good, low owned players and pivot on to them. For my favorite NFL prop bets, Brad Evans and I go back and forth on FTN Bets each week.
Derrick Henry, RB, Tennessee Titans ($8,000)
In this week’s edition of “Let’s Come Up with Reasons Not to Fade the Very Obvious Best Play,” I present Derrick Henry. Since the you, your mother, her postman, his cat and all its feline friends have simply started their teams with Dalvin Cook at $9,000, it’s made Henry a completely overlooked RB on the DraftKings main slate. At $8,000, Henry seems too expensive to pair with Cook yet still too much of a salary sucker to consider starting with in lineups that fade Cook (or Alvin Kamara). He’s just on this weird salary island, and the boats sailing by don’t even see it. This is great news however, as there are two players you always want to use when the public looks elsewhere: Henry and Tyreek Hill. The difference between Henry and the top two RBs is consistency. Devoid of a role in the Titans passing game, Henry’s weekly floor is considerably lower than his more expensive peers.
These are tournament plays, though, and floor is irrelevant at this price; if Henry doesn’t have a vintage 150-yard, two-touchdown outing, you’re unlikely to get there anyway. Henry has those games in him, and the best time to leverage that is when no one else wants to click next to his name.
The matchup isn’t specular, but Baltimore’s run defensive isn’t some impenetrable unit. They give up almost 20 DraftKings points per game to running backs and have yet to deal with a power back like Henry since Week 1 when both Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt both averaged over 5.5 YPC. Fortunately for the Ravens, they got ahead by so much, Cleveland couldn’t keep running the ball in the second half. Henry is like the rich-man’s Chubb as he possesses far more touchdown equity. Henry is currently eight red-zone carries (33) clear of the next closet player this season (Ezekiel Elliott, 25). Plus, the Ravens D is pretty banged up. I’ve always been led to believe that’s a negative over a positive. I may have that wrong, however, I tend to get confused.
Using Henry in lieu of Cook immediately makes your roster unique. Now, if still want to use Cook, pair him with Henry and have the Mega Powers of RBs. It’s clearly expensive, but there’s enough pay-down options at other positions to find your Miss Elizabeth where you can get away with that tandem and still have enough salary remaining for a few other reasonably priced picks. It may mean targeting a cheap stack, or using Adrian Peterson, but it’s doable.
As the week progressed, I just assumed ownership would begin to gravitate around Hockenson. Like most things I think, that was incorrect. Maybe there will be late stream on to the Detroit TE as people come to their senses, but not enough to make up the value gap. Somehow, devoid of Travis Kelce, Darren Waller and Rob Gronkowski on this main slate, Mark Andrews has emerged as the most popular option at the position. That’d be fine if his biggest attribute wasn’t dropping touchdowns.
Look, Andrews is a fine play and it’s somewhat jarring to see his salary below $5,000, but Hockenson is simply better. He’s cheaper, expected to be lower owned by a pretty substantial margin, and has a stat line that is very comparable to Andrews’. They’ve both garnered six end-zone targets on the year. Andrews has hauled in four, compared to just two for Hockenson. Some would say this is because Andrews has better hands; this, however, is a pro-Hockenson piece, so obviously this is very clearly a case of Hockenson getting unlucky. It’s strange how one truly terrible week slashed his price so dramatically.
Down to $4,200, the Lions big man has a glorious opportunity against the Panthers to soak up a far bigger share of targets and air yards than normal. Kenny Golladay, OUT. Danny Amendola, OUT. Marvin Jones, IN, but gimped up. All these factors could get Hockenson inching toward are a 30% target market share from Matthew Stafford, in a potentially pass-happy gamescript with the Lions underdogs in Carolina. It’s simple to look at the passing options on the sideline and project more opportunity for Hockenson. If I’m making these connections, it must be fairly obvious. It’s the D'Andre Swift injury that may actually be the most relevant to Hockenson’s upside, though. At just around a 12% market share of targets for the season (and much higher lately), the Lions don’t have a replacement for the actual routes game planned for Swift.
Adrian Peterson and Kerryon Johnson are going to be targeted out of the field through osmosis. They’re going to be on the field, eventually dump offs are going to occur. I’d be difficult to imagine either being used in a similar capacity as Swift in terms of actual routes run. That appeared to be a role in the offense exclusive to Swift. Presumably, Amendola would be the primary benefactor of the regular Swift targets, but he’s sidelined as well. Thus, Hockenson should be tasked to pick up that slack in the passing game as he has a far lower aDOT than expected receiving replacements Marvin Hall (20.48-yard aDOT) and/or Quintez Cephus (11.0 yards). Even a two- to three-target increase, along with Hockenson’s meaty role in the red zone, provides the bang for your dollar at the position, and the best part: No one seems interested in playing him.