For the uninitiated, playing daily games on DraftKings can be an enjoyable experience, but equally sobering is the fact that season-long knowledge does not always translate to success in the daily space. FootballGuys will bring you a series of value- and strategic-based selections from a number of seasoned daily veterans throughout the NFL season. Herein is another edition of “Tipandpick’s Tips and Picks,” where we will examine the salaries of players at each position on DraftKings and make value-based recommendations for both your cash games and tournaments.
Below you will find a list of recommended players for both formats. GPP players generally have high-upside, but are too risky for cash games; cash game players are consistent with high fantasy floors. In some instances, the value for a player is so strong, he may fall into both categories…let’s have a look.
In order to help you build winning rosters, let's walk through some of the observations that I have made while doing my research for DraftKings this week. As you build out your lineups on DraftKings, try to consider the following commentary, which revolves around game strategy and how we will want to take advantage of what the masses are doing when they construct their own lineups.
CASH GAME TIPS
CHOOSE YOUR PRICEY RUNNING BACKS: There are quite a few questions at wide receiver this week. Antonio Brown is $9.2K and will have his hands full with the likes of high-end cornerbacks, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Janoris Jenkins, all afternoon. Meanwhile, the weekend's highest-scoring game between the Saints-Lions is chock full of legitimate receivers, which makes pinpointing a particular top-performer a difficult endeavor. The Washington-Arizona has a lofty 48-point total, but identifying a safe receiver in this matchup is difficult because the Cards field a solid defensive backfield, while Carson Palmer's rapid demise gives pause to rostering any of the Cardinals' receivers. Taken together, these facts will likely align the masses to spend the bulk of their $50K salaries on the running back position, where there are multiple high-end options that confer far less risk. David Johnson, LeVeon Bell, Melvin Gordon, and Jordan Howard should all be in line for 20+ touches and provide a level of safety that cannot be obtained at the wide receiver position this week. For this reason, it makes a lot of sense to identify your favorite high H-value running backs, slot them into your cash game rosters, and subsequently fill in the gaps with the best high-floor options you can find at the remaining positions. If you keep reading, you will see who I have identified as the most likely candidates to help you achieve 150+ points on DraftKings in Week #13.
MULTIPLE ROSTERS WITH WR DIVERSITY: If you perform any amount of DFS research this week, it will not require a lot of time to come to the conclusion that David Johnson is the obvious play at the running back position for both cash games and tournament play. In cash games, an argument could be made to have 100% exposure to Johnson for the reasons outlined in the "Picks" section of this article, but the depth at the RB position this week affords you the ability to build diversity across multiple cash game rosters so that you can avoid potential pitfalls while maximizing the likelihood of a positive ROI week. For that reason, I might recommend that you build several rosters, some with David Johnson and Jordan Howard, others with Melvin Gordon and Jeremy Hill (or combinations therein), so as to create diversity to avoid potential disappointing performances. The risk is not so much involved with these running backs, but with the wide receivers that are available this week. There are very few wide receivers in situations where we can be confident that they will provide 3x on their salaries, which generally means that hedging with player diversification is necessary. For this reason, I will be rolling out two, possibly three, cash game lineups on DraftKings this weekend and having no more than 67% exposure to any wide receiver. In doing so, I feel strongly that I will minimize risk, while maximizing my ability to cash across all rosters.
HOW TO ATTACK THE DET/NO GAME: The most interesting game of the weekend is the game being played in New Orleans between the Lions and the Saints. The folks in Vegas see this game as being a shootout, pinning a 54-point total on the game at the beginning of the week (it has since fallen to 52 points). Early ownership projections on this game include Drew Brees at 20%, Matthew Stafford at 15%, Theo Riddick at 20%, Michael Thomas at 20%, and Willie Snead/Brandin Cooks/Golden Tate/Marvin Jones all clocking in around 15%. Suffice it to say that this game is going to have a lot of ownership, which means that GPP's are going to be won and lost with how you handle this game. Brees is the obvious play because of his dominance at home (see "Picks" before for more), but pairing him with the correct receiver is always a shell game. Last week, Michael Thomas excelled with a pair of touchdowns while Brandin Cooks was not targeted a single time; Cooks has gone on record that he is unhappy with his current role in the offense and could be in line for some 'compensatory' targets from Brees. Meanwhile, Coby Fleener saw only 18 snaps last week, his lowest total of the season, but Josh Hill, traditionally a blocking tight end, enjoyed 58 offensive snaps. Add in Willie Snead's appealing matchup against the beatable Quandre Diggs with Brandon Coleman's recent redzone resurgence and it becomes clear that identifying the receiving options in New Orleans is going to be an uphill battle. Lest we forget that the Lions are extremely susceptible to the run (28th DVOA rush defense; 4.2 yards per carry allowed), so both Mark Ingram and Tim Hightower are also contenders for a piece of the Saints' scoring pie. The take-home message here is that Drew Brees-focused stacks are going to be popular, but could be fool's gold for the bulk of the DFS-playing population, as identifying his primary receiver from week-to-week is always a tough task.
On the other side of the ball, Matthew Stafford and the Lions project to be playing from behind, an implied gamescript that sets up well for Stafford and the Detroit passing game. The issue, however, is similar to what we describe above with Brees--who will Stafford target? Over the previous month, Stafford has had three different 'favorite' receivers including Theo Riddick (Week #8 and #11 with 11 and 10 targets, respectively), Golden Tate (Week #9 with 12 targets), and Marvin Jones (Week #10 with 11 targets); lurking in the background is Anquan Boldin, who has 18 targets over his previous two weeks. Furthermore, Detroit has been trying to keep their poor defense off the field by slowing down the game; the Lions have run the second-lowest number of plays from the line of scrimmage this season and are averaging an offensive play every 28.73 seconds, which is fifth-slowest in the league. These observations argue that investing heavily in the Lions could be a mistake, particularly when one juxtaposes these factors against the aforementioned ownership levels.
Quick summary: I love Drew Brees' fantasy prospects, but pairing him with the correct receiver is going to be essential to capitalize on his upside; of Brees' options, I most like Willie Snead because he will line up across from Quandre Diggs and will avoid Darius Slay for the entire game. A contrarian strategy would be to avoid the Saints' passing game and roster your favorite New Orleans running back (Mark Ingram or Tim Hightower), knowing that both will be less than 10% owned against a terrible Lions' defensive front. On the Lions' side of the ball, I think an argument could be made to fade them altogether for the reasons outlined above, but if you must have exposure, I am most fond of a Matthew Stafford-Theo Riddick stack; this is a contrarian approach because it consists of a QB-RB tandem that could theoretically gain exposure to all Lions' touchdowns via the pass or rush.
LEVERAGING OWNERSHIP TO YOUR ADVANTAGE: The term "leverage" means a lot of different things to different people, but in DFS, using leverage to your advantage is a tactic employed to exploit extreme ownership trends in tournament play. For example, David Johnson is likely to be > 35% owned this weekend (for good reason), but his $9.5K salary limits your ability to diversify your rosters elsewhere, meaning that those 35% of people will have very similar roster composition; when that occurs, it makes it extremely difficult to differentiate your roster from the masses for a top-end finish. A leverage play would be to completely fade Johnson and, instead, roster a Carson Palmer-Larry Fitzgerald stack. In doing so, you guarantee immediately that you will have a core that is different than a third of the field and you would be able to build out the remainder of your roster without the same salary restrictions that face David Johnson owners. If Johnson were to stumble (i.e., unexpected poor game or injury), you would bypass a large chunk of the field with that singular personnel decision. With that premise in mind, there are several leverage maneuvers that could be made this week including Mark Ingram/Tim Hightower (over Brees and a receiver), Devonta Freeman (over Matt Ryan-Julio Jones), and Carlos Hyde (over Colin Kaepernick-Vance McDonald). Each of these options comes with a degree of risk, which is why you only leverage players in GPP formats; doing so in cash games is rarely a smart idea, unless you are confident in an angle that you think the masses have gotten wrong.
Let's take a deeper look into some of the players who I will be targeting for my cash game and tournament rosters this weekend. There is little difference in terms of strength of selection between those players who have text to justify their appearance in this article versus those in the "also eligible" section; all are strong plays in their respective categories, but time and space restrictions do not allow for expansive written summaries of every player listed.
CASH GAME PICKS
Drew Brees (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $7,600). If you can afford to take the $7.6K plunge, Drew Brees represents the Cadillac play cash game quarterback this weekend in DFS. Brees is averaging an astounding 30.9 DraftKings points per game at home this season, including 300+ yard performances in in five out of six games (the only exception being against a healthy Seattle defense back in Week #8). This week, Brees will welcome the Detroit Lions' last-ranked DVOA pass defense that is allowing the sixth most fantasy points to the position this season. Some might point out the fact that the Lions are trying to play the role of the Dallas Cowboys by slowing down their offense to keep their less-talented defense off the field. That tactic has worked well against lesser teams like the Vikings, Texans, and Jaguars; it has been an absolute failure against legitimate offenses, which bodes well for Brees' fantasy floor and upside on Sunday afternoon. Barring anything unforeseen, Brees is a virtual lock for 300-yards and pair of touchdowns against the Lions, which should generate a fantasy floor of 23+ points for his $7.6K salary; if the Lions are able to move the ball against the Saints' 25th ranked DVOA pass defense, this game could trigger substantial fantasy production and Brees may easily surpass 4x value.
Tyrod Taylor (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $5,700). The Buffalo Bills are quietly averaging 25.5 points per game this season in spite of missing WR1 Sammy Watkins for the majority of the season and WR2 Robert Woods for the past few weeks. Despite the lack of receiving weapons, Tyrod Taylor continues to manufacture points for the Bills' scoreboard while also padding his fantasy stats. Taylor is only $5.7K this week, which would necessitate ~ 16 fantasy points to legitimize his place on your cash game rosters, a threshold he has achieved in 9 out of 11 games (81.8%) this season. Taylor will lead a Bills' offense that travels cross-country to take on the Raiders, whose offense is locked in and averaging 27.9 points per game this season; assuming Oakland continues that trend, Taylor is going to be asked to keep pace and should be in line to surpass 3x value once again. With an average of 40 rushing yards per game this season, Tyrod generally secures 3-5 fantasy points without needing to throw a pass; if one considers the fact that he has a rushing touchdown in four of his previous five games, it is not difficult to understand why Taylor's fantasy floor rests in the neighborhood of 15-points. This week, however, Taylor's Bills are projected to be trailing in a high-scoring matchup, which should result in 30 passes for only the fifth time all season; when Tyrod has been given that kind of volume in this offense this season, he has averaged ~ 22 DraftKings points, which is 4x value on his negligible $5.7K salary.
Also eligible: Russell Wilson ($6,300)
David Johnson (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $9,500). No need to belabor the justification to get David Johnson into your cash game lineups, so let's keep this one somewhat short. Johnson has 100+ all-purpose yards in every game this season and is averaging 27.3 DraftKings points per game, including 30+ points in each of his previous two games. What makes Johnson an elite DFS play is his involvement in both phases of the Cardinals' offensive attack; Johnson has been targeted at least seven times in his previous five games and three of those games have yielded double-digit targets. His matchup against the Redskins is equally attractive, as they field the league's worst rush defense (FootballOutsiders' DVOA metric) that is allowing 25.0 DraftKings points per game to opposing running backs (7th worst in NFL), including a 26.0-point performance to a similarly-used player in Ezekiel Elliott on Thanksgiving. Sure, David Johnson is going to suck up 20% of your overall salary, but he is almost guaranteed 22-24 touches and his scoring consistency is unparalleled--make him the foundation of your cash game lineups.
Jordan Howard (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $6,900). The San Francisco 49'ers are allowing a league-high 70.4 plays to opposing offenses this season, a number that has resulted in some obscene fantasy performances for their opponents, particularly at the running back position. No team in the league yields more fantasy production to enemy running backs than the Niners (31.9 DraftKings points per game), a statistic that bodes well for the Bears' Jordan Howard at Soldier Field on Sunday. Losers of six out of their previous seven games, the Bears continue to pound the ball with Howard, who has 99+ all-purpose yards in every game where he has been the feature back this season; in the singular game that the Bears won during that span, Howard put together an impressive 33.2 fantasy point performance against the Vikings. On Sunday, the Bears are slight home underdogs to the Niners, but should be able to keep this game close, thereby maximizing Howard's involvement. Further bolstering a role for Howard is the fact that Matt Barkley will be under center again; while Barkley was better than advertised last week against the Titans, Coach John Fox is never going to take a pass-heavy approach with Barkley leading the way. Given that San Francisco has allowed eight 100+ yard rushers this season (out of 11 games), there is no reason to try to beat San Francisco through the air, which means that Jordan Howard should be in line for yet another solid fantasy performance at a very modest $6.9K price tag.
Julio Jones (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $8,700). With 100+ receiving yards and/or a touchdown in 7 out of 11 games this season, Julio Jones is about as reliable as a wide receiver gets in the NFL. In his four subpar games, Jones was shadowed by elite coverage (Patrick Peterson and Aqib Talib) twice and was injured in another game (Week #8 versus Green Bay), leaving only a single clunker over the span of the entire season. Jones should avoid the Chiefs' best coverage cornerback, Marcus Peters, for most of his Sunday, which puts him squarely in play in cash and GPP formats at home where he has averaged 22.1 fantasy points per game this season. At a position where safe options are limited this week, Jones is the premium-priced option that should help anchor your cash game lineups with a 20+ point floor; he should find the endzone soon, as Taylor Gabriel's recent string of touchdowns (five in previous four games) is simply unsustainable for a receiver of his diminutive stature (5'8") and usage (38.3% of Falcons' offensive snaps).
Dorial Green-Beckham (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $3,000). To fit in names like David Johnson, LeVeon Bell, and Julio Jones, you are going to need to find some salary relief somewhere and the Eagles' Dorial Green-Beckham represents that value option this weekend. It seems strange recommending Green-Beckham as a cash game play because he has been a big play, hit-or-miss receiver for his brief NFL career, but the Eagles have thrust him into a borderline WR1 role over the past few weeks because of injuries and overall poor receiver play. Last Monday night, Green-Beckham led Birds' receivers with 10 targets, which was more than double the next closest wide receiver; he finished the evening with a 6/82/0 stat line that resulted in 14.2 DraftKings points against the Packers. Because that game was played after Week #13 salaries were posted, Green-Beckham's salary is probably about $1K too low for the type of volume he is expected to see against the Bengals' 17th-ranked DVOA pass defense. Strengthening the case for Green-Beckham is the fact that Jordan Matthews is highly-questionable to take the field against Cincinnati with an ankle injury suffered on Monday night. If we add in the fact that DGB is the Eagles' most-targeted receiver inside the redzone on a snap-normalized basis, his attractiveness is not limited to cash games, particularly because he will enjoy a 7-inch height advantage over Adam Jones in coverage.
Travis Kelce (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $4,700). On Saturday, it was announced that Jeremy Maclin with miss yet another game with a groin pull. While that is bad news for the Chiefs' prospects in Atlanta this Sunday, it bodes well for Travis Kelce's fantasy output once again. Since Maclin has been out, Kelce has averaged 16.2 DraftKings points per game, including back-to-back 20+ point performances. He should stay hot this weekend because the matchup against the Falcons, who allow 15.0 fantasy points per game to the tight end position (7th worst in NFL), is superb; just last week, Atlanta allowed Jermaine Gresham, whose team rarely uses the tight end as a receiver, to post a 5/35/1 stat line that resulted in 14.5 fantasy points. The Falcons' linebacker corps do not have a single individual who has posted positive grades in pass defense this season and their secondary will be without Desmond Trufant, meaning that whatever backup talent they had will be forced on the perimeters to try to lock down the white-hot speedster, Tyreek Hill. All of these factors set up for another plus game from Kelce, who is averaging a shade under 10 targets per game over his previous five efforts and will be utilized heavily within the redzone. At only $4.7K, Kelce is a high-floor candidate in this matchup, which comes with 5x upside.
Vance McDonald (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $2,900). At only $2.9K, Vance McDonald has reached cash game value in every game over the past month. McDonald has been Colin Kaepernick's favorite receiver over that period of time, picking up 26 targets en route to an average stat line of 3.5/60.0/0.5 (12.5 DraftKings points). This week should prove to be no different when McDonald takes the field in Chicago. The Bears have been stingy against tight ends for the better part of the season, but have stumbled recently after losing star linebacker, Jerrell Freeman to a PED suspension; this week, things will get worse across the middle when Danny Trevathan watches from the sidelines with a torn patellar tendon, leaving two young linebackers (rookie Nick Kwiakowski and John Timu) to man the inside routes run by Vance McDonald. Having yielded a touchdown to opposing tight ends in each of their previous three games, it is difficult to envision things getting better with these young linebackers cutting their teeth against Chip Kelly's fast-paced offense whose first read is always the tight end. Rostering McDonald in your cash game rosters gives you an expected floor of 7-9 DraftKings points, which is sufficient for his minimal $2.9K salary, a move that affords flexibility at other positions where you will want to pay for pricey options (i.e., David Johnson).
Also eligible: Jimmy Graham ($5,500)
Broncos (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $3,900). If the Broncos were playing at home this weekend, they would be the perfect DFS defense for cash and tournament play. Denver leads the league in sacks (35), has allowed only 10 passing touchdowns (2nd in NFL), and will be facing Blake Bortles, who has thrown a 'pick six' in nearly 25% of his games since entering the league in 2014. Bortles will be without his WR2, Allen Hurns, who will miss this game with a hamstring injury suffered in last week's loss to Buffalo; making matters worse, both Chris Ivory (hamstring) and Julius Thomas (back) will also miss this game, which means that the Broncos will be asked to contain T.J. Yeldon, whose career average 3.9 yards per carry is far from intimidating. On the outside, Marqise Lee will have to contend with Aqib Talib, which leaves Bortles with only Allen Robinson to try to compete against the Broncos. Robinson may get his share of fantasy production via sheer volume and/or garbage time, but this would appear to be a prime spot for Denver to pick up double-digit fantasy points by pressuring a quarterback who has a reputation for making poor decisions when under duress, something that is likely to occur across all four quarters on Sunday.
Patriots (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $3,700). For a few hundred dollars less than Denver, you might consider Bill Belichick's defense against a rookie quarterback making only his third career start. You can bet that Belichick will throw some new defensive looks at Jared Goff, who put together a solid first half last week against the Saints before faltering in a miserable second half with a total of 24 passing yards that was highlighted by an interception and three sacks. The week prior, Goff led the Rams to a 10-point performance against the Dolphins, which is probably the type of game we can expect this Sunday against the Pats in Foxborough. New England is stout up front, allowing less than 100 rushing yards per game (4th DVOA rush defense), which will put pressure on Goff to try to keep pace with the Patriots via the pass, where they are susceptible (28th DVOA pass defense); that said, it is difficult to envision a scenario whereby Jared Goff puts together the type of performance that would result in the Rams being competitive against New England at their home field. Furthermore, the Rams will be without Tavon Austin (chest), who ranks second on the team in both targets (79) and receiving touchdowns (3). Vegas projects Los Angeles to be the lowest scoring team on the Week #13 slate, which makes the Patriots one of the safer cash game plays because the Rams' upside in this matchup is limited, at best.
Ben Roethlisberger (Salary: $7,400). No doubt--the New York Giants boast one of the better defensive backfields in the league this year. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is finally healthy, Janoris Jenkins has been everything the Giants wanted since signing him in the off-season, and even rookie Eli Apple has displayed flashes of brilliance thus far. Entering this weekend's matchup against the Steelers, the Giants boast the 7th best DVOA pass defense on FootballOutsiders. That said, these defensive backs might be hiding a dirty secret: They have consistently bent, but have not yet broken. The Giants have allowed only one touchdown for every 291.2 passing yards allowed this season; as a frame of reference, the league average is one touchdown every 164.8 yards. However, the Giants have faced Josh McCown, Jay Cutler, Andy Dalton, Carson Wentz, Case Keenum, and Joe Flacco over their previous six games...not exactly a Hall-of-Fame lineup of quarterbacks. Yet, these less-than-stellar quarterbacks have averaged a lofty 290 passing yards per game against the Giants over that span, but have somehow managed only four total passing touchdowns. Enter Ben Roethlisberger, whose home/road splits have become something of folklorian proportions; Big Ben is averaging 30.8 DraftKings points at home (versus only 16.0 away) and has 30+ points in all-but-one game at Heinz Field this season. If we consider that Drew Brees is at home against the 32nd-ranked DVOA pass defense at a similar $7.6K salary, Roethlisberger's ownership levels could be too low for the type of upside he will bring to your rosters this Sunday, particularly when Antonio Brown cannot be shut down by even the best of coverage cornerbacks.
Philip Rivers (Salary: $6,500). With multiple touchdown performances in 7 of 11 games this season, Philip Rivers is always in contention for tournament play. His $6.5K salary is middle-of-the-road, which could keep his ownership levels modest because he does not carry the upside of a high-end quarterback like Drew Brees ($7.6K), but lacks the obvious value of a quarterback like Russell Wilson ($6.3K). Furthermore, a lot of DFS players are going to be apprehensive about rostering Rivers with questions surrounding Tyrell Williams, who suffered a labral tear in last week's win against the Texans; some might think that Rivers cannot thrive without Williams, who has been tremendous in his sophomore season. That said, the Chargers miraculously find a way to move the ball through the air without key players, as evidenced by their continued success without Keenan Allen and Danny Woodhead. Rivers will still have Dontrelle Inman, Travis Benjamin, Antonio Gates, and Hunter Henry, all of whom have big game upside, in addition to Williams, who is a bona fide WR1 if his injury does not affect his range of movement. The fantasy upside is excellent, as the Tampa Bay Bucs will travel cross-country to take on Rivers and the Chargers, who field the league's third-highest scoring offense (28.5 points per game). Many will be scared away because the Bucs have allowed only 32 points over their past three games against the Bears, Chiefs, and Seahawks; closer inspection argues that the Bears were in collapse mode with an injured Jay Cutler and Alshon Jeffery, the Chiefs were without their best receiver, Jeremy Maclin, and the Seahawks had no semblance of an offensive line. Lastly, the Bucs have hemorrhaged fantasy points to legitimate quarterbacks on the few occasions they have seen them this season; on those *occasions, Tampa Bay has allowed an average stat line of 374 passing yards and 3.3 passing touchdowns (30.96 DraftKings points) (*includes Matt Ryan [x2], Derek Carr, and Carson Palmer).
LeGarrette Blount (Salary: $5,500). With the news that Rob Gronkowski will miss the remainder of the season due to a back surgery, the Patriots' entire offense took a major blow. Simply put, Tom Brady is a much better quarterback with Gronk on the field than when Gronk is off the field...the splits support that notion. This week, however, Brady may not have to worry too much about life without Gronkowski because the Patriots are two-touchdown favorites over the visiting Los Angeles Rams, which could mean that we see a lot of LeGarrette Blount. As a home favorite in five games this season, Blount has reached paydirt on seven occasions, only missing the endzone in the Week #4 debacle where Jacoby Brissett was shutout by the visiting Bills. This should be an ideal spot for Blount to shoulder the load for the Patriots against a Rams team that was gouged for 201 yards on the ground and three total scores by Saints running backs last weekend. Many will avoid rostering Blount because of the split workload coming out of the Patriots' backfield, but this is the type of game where Bill Belichick has traditionally leaned on Blount and dared the opposing defense to slow him down. James White and Dion Lewis get more usage when the game is close or the Pats are trailing, which should mean that they are largely eliminated from this gamescript by early in the second half, leaving plenty of late-game action for Blount. Lastly, with Gronk out and Martellus Bennett hobbled, Blount could get a lot of high-value redzone and goalline looks, further supporting a case for him in tournament play.
Carlos Hyde (Salary: $5,300). As discussed above (see Vance McDonald write-up), the Bears will be without both Jerrell Freeman and Danny Trevathan, two key linebackers whose strength is defending the running game; replacing them with a pair of unproven youngsters, the Bears' defense could be in store for a long afternoon defending an elusive quarterback and a running back, in Carlos Hyde, who has faced a top-10 DVOA rush defense and/or a negative gamescript in every game this season. The Bears have the league's 21st ranked DVOA rush defense, which is the worst-ranked unit that Hyde has faced all season (excluding Buffalo); with the aforementioned injuries in the Chicago linebacking corps, the matchup facing Hyde could be even better than what it appears on paper. Since returning from injury in Week #10, the Niners have given Hyde plenty of opportunity (~ 18 touches per game) and progressively used him more often in the passing game (1, 3, and 6 targets, respectively). With Matt Barkley leading the Bears' offense, this would appear to be the 49'ers' best chance of winning a game since Week #1 when they trounced the Rams, 28-0; assuming they keep the game close, Carlos Hyde should see plenty of action, including most (all?) of the goalline carries. Because he plays on the 1-9 Niners and because most people will get their exposure to this team via Colin Kaepernick, Carlos Hyde should be underowned for the type of upside he will bring to your rosters, making him an excellent GPP option.
DeAndre Hopkins (Salary: $6,000). Due to Brock Osweiler's extreme ineptitude, DeAndre Hopkins has failed to surpass 100-receiving yards in all-but-one game this season; that is a striking disparity from last season, where Hopkins logged six 100+ yard games and another three games with 90+ receiving yards. The disappointing game logs that Hopkins has posted with Osweiler at the helm have had an unsurprising effect on his salary, causing it to plummet to $6.0K from $8.8K when the season opened. That depressed salary now confers immense tournament value because DeAndre Hopkins is the type of receiver who can post a pair of touchdowns on any given Sunday, particularly when that Sunday's opponent has allowed a 20+ fantasy point wide receiver in nearly half of their games this season. Enter the Packers and their 23rd ranked DVOA pass defense that allows the 10th most fantasy points to the wide receiver position in 2016: DeAndre Hopkins will face off against Demarious Randall and Ladarius Gunther, both of whom rank in the bottom half of the league in coverage, having allowed nearly 1,000 receiving yards and 6 touchdowns while in coverage this season. With tough personnel matchups in four of his previous five weeks (Casey Hayward, Sean Smith, Prince Amukamara, and Aqib Talib), this is a nice spot for DeAndre Hopkins to experience some positive regression in a plus matchup with a favorable gamescript, all at likely low ownership.
Mohamed Sanu (Salary: $4,400). There may not be a worse coverage cornerback in the league right now than the Chiefs' Phillip Gaines, who mans the slot for Kansas City and will be lining up across from Mohamed Sanu on Sunday. Gaines gave up a whopping 209 receiving yards and a pair of touchdowns in coverage last weekend against the Broncos; the week prior, he was targeted six times in coverage by Jameis Winston and allowed all six attempts to be completed for 87 total yards. That type of performance has been the trend for Gaines this season, which has resulted in him being ranked 118th out of 120 qualifying cornerbacks in coverage by ProFootballFocus. With the plus matchup, Sanu could be in line for a solid fantasy day and will probably be the lowest-owned Falcon receiver behind Julio Jones and Taylor Gabriel, who has been extremely productive as of late; Jones is certainly a viable GPP play, but continuing to roster Gabriel with his small 5'8" frame, rising salary, unsustainable efficiency, and modest usage is lunacy (I will have 0% exposure to Gabriel this weekend). Assuming Justin Houston (shoulder) is active for this game and sack-master Dee Ford (hamstring) makes his return, Matt Ryan could be forced into getting rid of the ball on short passes to avoid being sacked; if that were to happen, Sanu would be the most likely receiving beneficiary. At a modest $4.4K price point, Sanu needs only ~ 14 fantasy points to achieve tournament value, a threshold he has hit in three of his previous four games, all of which were with tougher personnel matchups.
Zach Ertz (Salary: $4,300). The Eagles' receiving corps are a complete mess entering Week #13. The Birds tired of two years' worth of poor play from Nelson Agholor, so they benched him in favor of undrafted free agent rookie, Paul Turner, last week; meanwhile, Jordan Matthews is extremely questionable with an ankle injury that held him out of practice on multiple occasions this week, including Friday. That leaves Dorial Green-Beckham and Zach Ertz as Carson Wentz' only reasonable receivers entering this weekend's matchup against the Bengals. Green-Beckham was discussed previously, but Ertz is also an attractive option against the Bengals, who are the league's 4th fantasy-friendly defense to opposing tight ends (16.2 DraftKings points per game allowed). Ertz is getting plenty of volume from Wentz recently; his eight targets per game over the previous month are tied for the most on the team with Jordan Matthews. If Matthews is unable to go, his 8.1 targets per game will have to be redistributed amongst the remaining Eagles' receivers and Ertz should see at least a few of those additional targets, further elevating his fantasy upside.
Ladarius Green (Salary: $2,800). If you are not watching (or listening to) the Footballguys' Power Grid, a weekly show devoted purely to DFS news and selections, you are cheating yourself of some quality analysis and entertainment each week. On this week's show, I discussed the reasons why I suspect that Ladarius Green could be in store for a big Sunday against the New York Giants. Friend and fellow Footballguy Devin Knotts disagreed and eventually made the bold proclamation that he would shave his head if Ladarius Green reaches 3x value on FanDuel this weekend! If that is not enough reason to encourage you to roster and/or root for Green, allow me to continue...First, the Steelers signed Ladarius Green in the off-season to replace the role of a pass-catching tight end that was vacated when Heath Miller retired last season after ten seasons and 45 career touchdowns; concussion issues impeded Green's progress for much of this season, but he made his return a few weeks ago and has been heavily-targeted by Ben Roethlisberger when on the field. In fact, Green has been targeted on 26.4% of his offensive snaps, a rate that could result in 8+ targets if Green plays 40+ snaps against the Giants this weekend. Coach Mike Tomlin has stated that Green will be on the field more often moving forward, so it's just a matter of how much playing time Green will see this week. The matchup against the Giants is stellar, as their linebackers are poor pass defenders, demonstrated by the fact that three of their previous four opponent tight ends finished their days with at least 12.6 DraftKings points. Furthermore, the Giants boast a strong set of cornerbacks in Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Janoris Jenkins, who could force Roethlisberger to abandon his outside receivers and look for underneath and middle routes run by Green. At 6'6" and 240 pounds, Green should also be a legitimate redzone target if the Steelers decide to look away from Antonio Brown and/or LeVeon Bell; if he does manage to reach paydirt, not only will Devin Knotts be bald for next week's Power Grid, but Ladarius Green will surely reach 6x value on his meager $2.8K salary.
Also eligible: Antonio Gates (Salary: $4,100).
Ravens (Salary: $3,000). In the thick of a playoff race for the AFC North title, the Baltimore Ravens are winners of three of their last four games, losing only to the 11-1 Dallas Cowboys over that span. Baltimore has improved its defense immensely since the beginning of the season, now boasting the league's best overall DVOA defensive unit. At home, the Ravens have allowed an average of only 14 points (versus 23 on the road) and will be facing a Miami Dolphins team this week that is decimated up front with injuries to multiple offensive lineman, including Center Mike Pouncey; since Pouncey went out with a hip injury in Week #10, Jay Ajayi's streak of three consecutive 100+ yard games were replaced with three consecutive games of less than 80 yards rushing. DeVante Parker (back) is also likely to miss this game, which means that the Dolphins are going to have to compete with short passes to Jarvis Landry and deep routes with Kenny Stills, neither of which have gotten them into the endzone often this season (seven touchdowns combined). Next to the Denver-Jacksonville game, there is no lower total on the Vegas board, which means that Baltimore is definitely in play in this matchup; with double-digit fantasy points in 60% of their previous five games, they also bring the necessary upside to pull down a tournament victory.
49'ers (Salary: $2,800). Strictly a GPP play, there is reason to think that the 49'ers' defense could be a high-upside defense against the Bears in Chicago this weekend. This recommendation is based primarily on the fact that Matt Barkley is not as good as was advertised in his first start as a Bear last week; Barkley surpassed 300 passing yards and threw 3 touchdowns, numbers that could have been even better if the Bears' receivers had not dropped eight passes on the afternoon. That performance represented Matt Barkley's ceiling, particularly with a receiving corps that is headlined by the likes of Marquess Wilson and Cameron Meredith; his floor has been on display multiple times in his short career and has resulted in ~ 100 passing yard days with 50% completion rates and multiple interceptions. Even in his breakout game last week, Barkley still managed to throw a pair of interceptions to a Titans' secondary that had four picks on the entire season entering that game. If he continues to exhibit poor decision-making with regards to his passes, defenses are doing to capitalize with multiple turnovers and scores; if San Francisco can manage that task, they will do so with ownership rates well below 10%.
Also eligible: Seahawks ($3,500), Jaguars (Salary: $2,600).