Exploiting FBG Tools for DFS Success: Week 14

Using the various research tools included with a Footballguys Insider Pro subscription to uncover top DFS values.

It took three quarters of the season, but we’ve finally covered every Footballguys tool that can be used to supplement your weekly DFS process. But fear not -- just because there isn’t a new Footballguys DFS tool to cover this week, it doesn’t mean the end of the Exploiting Footballguys Tools series.

From here on out, I’ll be giving you my top tournament plays at each position, and showing you how (at least) one of the previously covered Footballguys tools helped me arrive at those players. If you haven’t been following this season, here are links to the previous articles in this series that will show you where to find our DFS tools and how to use them, or you can click here for our complete Video Training Library.

Data Dominator Interactive Value Charts Snap Counts
Vegas Value Chart Target Stats Game Log Dominator
Normalized Strength of Schedule eVALUEator Historical Stats
Site Projections Game Predictor Custom Fantasy Points Allowed

Moving onto the Week 14 slate…

Quarterback

Kirk Cousins - If you were to look only at fantasy points allowed, or pass defense metrics like Football Outsiders DVOA, it would appear Cousins’ matchup with the Eagles is a terrible one. But the season-long data masks the fact Philadelphia’s defense has fallen off a cliff recently, due in large part to their defensive backs. Leodis McKelvin, Nolan Carroll and rookie Jalen Mills have been getting absolutely flamed by opposing receivers lately, which opens the door for a big day for Cousins and his pass catchers.

Since Week 7, only Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees have scored more FanDuel points than Cousins, yet he’s still priced way down at QB17 on the Thurs-Mon slate. While it’s true the Eagles defense has been strong at home this season, the Game Log Dominator shows they’ve been carved up by Aaron Rodgers (313-2-0) and an A.J. Green-less Andy Dalton (332-2-0) in their last two games.

Vegas has Washington as a short road favorite in Philadelphia, with an implied team total of about 24 points, which leaves room for three offensive touchdowns. Cousins had thrown for 10 touchdowns in his previous four games prior to last week’s road matchup with Arizona’s third-ranked pass defense (DVOA). 70% of the touchdowns the Eagles have allowed this season have come via the pass, which ranks 27th in the league. Considering the recent struggles of Philadelphia’s secondary, it should shock no one if Cousins passes for at least two touchdowns this week, to go along with his usually stellar yardage totals.

Colin Kaepernick - Kaepernick’s ownership will be sub-5% after he lit everyone’s money on fire last week. I’m willing to forgive the unmitigated horror that was Kaepernick’s Week 12 due to the four consecutive 20+ point fantasy performances he had posted prior to last week’s debacle in the snow.

The 49ers travel back to sunny California this week to face the Jets, who have allowed the eighth-most normalized fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks. Ordinarily, I wouldn’t be too enthused about Kaepernick’s passing matchup regardless of opponent due to his accuracy issues, but this isn’t an ordinary spot.

Every year around this time, we see a team blatantly pack it in for the season. Given their listless performance against the Colts in a 41-10 home loss on Monday night football, and decision to turn the reins of the offense over to Bryce Petty for the remainder of the season, the Jets have clearly called it quits on 2016.

The 1-11 49ers are favored to win a game for just the second time all season. 75% of the yardage the Jets have allowed this season has come via the pass, and Kaepernick has the highest rushing yardage upside of any quarterback. If San Francisco puts up close to 24 points, as the Vegas line implies, it’s a safe bet Kaepernick will be instrumental in those drives, whether it’s with his arm or legs.

Kaepernick’s price on FanDuel dropped $500 from last week. He would need 21.9 points to reach a 3x salary multiple -- a mark he had eclipsed in three of his previous four games before last week’s high profile meltdown. There’s a big enough sample of Kaepernick being fantasy-viable that it’s safe to throw out a snow game in which his team had five pass attempts through the first three quarters. Given the Jets propensity for allowing huge plays downfield, a contrarian stack featuring the big-armed Kaepernick and Torrey Smith makes some sense.

Running Back

LeVeon Bell - Taking nothing away from the unfadeable David Johnson and his matchup against the Dolphins 22nd ranked run defense, I prefer Bell as my RB1 in Week 14. Johnson’s (well deserved) $9,700 price tag on FanDuel is tied for the highest we’ve seen on any player all season. Constructing a roster with Johnson, another chalk running back, and middle tier upside plays at wide receiver and tight end has been a tournament winning recipe this year, but it’s tough to pull off this week with Johnson priced so much higher than the other top plays.

Bell has a matchup in Buffalo against a rush defense he should have no problem exploiting. The Bills rank 14th in fantasy points allowed to opposing running backs, but Normalized Strength of Schedule shows they’ve allowed the third-most rushing attempts, and fourth-most rushing touchdowns when adjusted for quality of opponent. In fact, 50% of the touchdowns Buffalo has allowed this season have come via the rush, which is the highest rate in the league.

No matter who Pittsburgh is playing, we know what we’re getting from Bell -- a league leading seven receptions and 27 total touches per game. The Steelers have ridden him for as many as 36 touches in a game this season. Bell’s unmatched volume combined with the multi-touchdown upside the matchup brings, gives him the potential to outscore Johnson at a significant cap savings.

Todd Gurley - It’s probably best to place a clothespin on your nose before clicking on Gurley’s name this week. The most disappointing player in fantasy football hasn’t done much recently (or at all in 2016) to inspire confidence he possesses the ceiling we’re after in GPPs. But Gurley is a workhorse running back in a home matchup against one of the worst run defenses in the NFL, and therefore deserves our attention.

Historical Stats show no player in the league has accumulated a greater share of his team’s backfield touches than Gurley’s 84.1%. Of course there’s a chance the Falcons blow the doors off the Rams, which would limit Gurley to less than 15 rush attempts (a scenario that played out in each of the last two weeks against the Saints and Patriots), but LA has generally kept their home games close this season, with only one loss coming by more than a touchdown.

Even if Atlanta does smoke LA, Gurley has higher than normal upside as a receiver out of the backfield. Since Week 4, Gurley has seen a respectable four targets per game, while Atlanta has allowed the most receptions, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns to opposing running backs on the season.

Gurley isn’t really in play on FanDuel at $6,900, but the eVALUEator shows he’s a much better value on DraftKings at just $5,000. Priced in Bilal Powell territory and in a matchup that doesn’t get much better, Gurley is worth risking as an affordable, low-owned RB2 or flex.

Rob Kelley - To be clear, this is a week I’d prefer to pay up at both running back spots on FanDuel, but that probably means the rest of the crowd is thinking the same way, making the affordable Kelley another interesting cost saving option for contrarian roster construction.

Kelley is coming off back-to-back subpar games, but he was in near-impossible spots on the road in Dallas and Arizona. Washington was forced to play from behind for the majority of each game, and the Cowboys and Cardinals are two of the three stingiest defenses against fantasy running backs.

While the Eagles secondary has been atrocious lately, their defensive front remains a strength. Philadelphia boasts a top-10 run defense (DVOA) and have allowed only one 100 yard rusher all season (incidentally Washington’s Matt Jones in Week 6).

But when game scripts have allowed Kelley to rack up volume, he’s been able to deliver against tough run defenses, including Minnesota in Week 10 (22-97-0) and Green Bay in Week 11 (24-137-3). As previously mentioned, I expect Kirk Cousins to have success sustaining drives, which would generate more rushing opportunities and scoring chances for Kelley.

If the game goes according to script, Kelley should see at least 20 carries, making him the best projected dollar per touch value of any sub-6K running back on FanDuel, and he has a realistic shot at finding the end zone.

Wide Receiver

T.Y. Hilton - Hilton’s 9-146-0 line on Monday night against the Jets suggests he is over the back injury that hampered him before the Colts bye week and ready to resume the production that has made him the cumulative WR6 on FanDuel this season.

Hopefully, Houston’s reputation as a solid pass defense keeps Hilton’s ownership somewhat in check. While the Texans have talented players in their secondary, they’ve allowed at least 100 yards and a touchdown to an opposing wide receiver in three of the last four games. Houston will also be shorthanded in their defensive backfield after Johnathan Joseph left last week’s game with cracked ribs and a bruised lung, and they waived his replacement, Charles James, on Monday. It looks like Al-Hajj Shabazz, a former undrafted free agent who was claimed off the Steelers practice squad Wednesday, could see significant cornerback snaps for Houston against the Colts.

Hilton looking in peak form Monday night and the current state of the Texans pass defense are good enough reasons to roster him this week, but if I’m being totally honest, I’m still (stupidly) chasing Hilton’s player vs. team splits from over two years ago. The memories of Hilton having the two best games of his career vs. the Texans in 2013 (7-121-3) and 2014 (9-223-1), are forever etched into my brain. Of course, the only similarity between the Houston defense the Colts will face on Sunday and the ones Hilton burned more than two years ago is the color of their laundry, but nothing dies harder in fantasy football than our cognitive biases, and I’m not too proud to admit it.

Julian Edelman - The Ravens have the best defense in the league outside of Denver, yet New England is still favored by a touchdown and expected to score 26.25 points -- the second-highest implied team total on the Sunday-Monday slate. Clearly, Vegas expects Tom Brady and Bill Belichick to have a working plan to move the ball on Baltimore. Why not the path of least resistance?

While the Ravens defense doesn’t have many holes, they have been vulnerable to slot receivers, including Jarvis Landry (11-87-0 on 14 targets) last week. The slot happens to be where Tom Brady is looking most in the wake of Rob Gronkowski’s back injury. Over the last three games, Edelman is averaging over 13 targets per game.

A lack of touchdowns has capped Edelman’s upside on sites that don’t use full PPR scoring, but he should begin finding the end zone soon. Of the 18 wide receivers who have accumulated at least 100 targets this season, only Jarvis Landry and Edelman have less than four touchdowns (they each have two). Unlike Landry, Edelman is at least involved in the game plan when his team gets in close. Edelman’s 11 red zone targets lead the Patriots, and he should see a slight uptick in scoring chances with Danny Amendola -- New England’s second-leading red zone receiver (18.4% target market share) -- likely to miss the rest of the regular season.

Edelman going for 8-10 catches and 80-100 yards feels like one of the safest bets on the slate. If this is the week he finally sees some overdue progression in the touchdown department, a 3x salary multiplier is likely.

DeSean Jackson - I’m not entirely comfortable with Jackson being my favorite GPP wide receiver play on the slate, but here we are. At least I have my reasons:

  1. He’ll run the majority of his routes against Leodis McKelvin, the cornerback Pro Football Focus lists as giving up the most fantasy points per route defended this season.

  2. Only the Titans have allowed more fantasy points per game to opposing wide receivers than the Eagles since Week 8.

  3. Washington leads the NFL with 37 pass plays of 25+ yards. Jackson is second in the league with 11 receptions of 25+ yards. Philadelphia has allowed the second-most plays of 25+ yards (28).

  4. Jackson has been both productive and a big part of the Washington game plan since returning from a shoulder injury in Week 11. In Weeks 11 and 12, he combined for 14 targets, 169 receiving yards and two touchdowns. With the exception of the 59-yard bomb he caught last week against the Cardinals, Jackson was erased by Patrick Peterson. But the splash play and an unlikely target on a third down goal line fade route provide cause for optimism headed into a cupcake matchup.

  5. This one is pure narrative, but there’s been buzz this week the Eagles will make a push for Jackson in the offseason, and the interest is apparently mutual. If Jackson is truly interested in a free agent contract with his former team, you know he’d love to put on a show in front of Philadelphia’s coaching staff and home crowd.

Tight End

Cameron Brate - Only five tight ends have scored more FanDuel points this season than Brate, who has a touchdown reception in four of his last six games. Tampa Bay has the highest implied team total of the week (26.75 points) and the sixth-highest passing touchdown percentage on the season (73%).

Brate may have the greatest touchdown expectation of any tight in Week 14. Jameis Winston has targeted Brate seven times from inside the 10-yard line this season, which ties him with Travis Kelce and Jordan Reed for the league lead at tight end. The 6’5’’, 235 pound Brate has converted five of those looks into touchdowns, which is the most of any tight end. New Orleans is a neutral matchup against the position, but they have given up touchdowns to Lance Kendricks and Vance McDonald in recent weeks.

Keep an eye on the status of Tampa Bay slot receiver Adam Humphries, who returned to practice Thursday but remained in the league’s concussion protocol. If Humphries scratches, Brate figures to see additional targets, vaulting him into the Jimmy Graham/Tyler Eifert tier of tight ends at a significant discount.

Ladarius Green - Rostering Green is going to feel like point chasing after he went for six catches, 110 yards, and a touchdown against the Giants, but the breakout is real. Pittsburgh was starving for a second viable downfield target since Martavis Bryant was suspended, and it’s clear they intend to use Green in that role.

While some of Green’s performance last week was matchup driven (many teams have chosen to attack the Giants linebackers with their tight ends this season), it’s impossible to ignore he led Pittsburgh with 11 targets, despite only playing on 48% of the snaps (up from 26% in Week 12). It’s clear when Green is on the field, his job is to run routes and Ben Roethlisberger is going to look for him.

Buffalo has the 26th ranked defense against tight ends (DVOA), and the Game Log Dominator shows they’ve particularly struggled against athletic pass catching tight ends Martellus Bennett (5-109-0), Rob Gronkowski (5-109-1), and Jimmy Graham (8-103-2). It’s premature to say Green is on the level of those players, but his career efficiency stats suggest he could get there now that it looks like he’s earned a feature role in one of the league’s best offenses. Green’s 9.24 yards per target average over his five NFL seasons is in the same ballpark as Gronk’s elite 9.88 and significantly higher than Graham’s 8.20.

It’s also worth noting Green has twice as many red zone targets as the next closest Steelers pass catcher since returning to the lineup, despite last week being the first time he exceeded 26% of the snaps in a game. A super-athletic tight end running vertical routes and hogging red zone opportunities while defenses are forced to pay more attention to Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell is a player you want in your fantasy lineups, whether you believe in Green’s Week 13 breakout or not.