Welcome back to our FantasyAces feature article, wherein we identify value plays in both cash games and tournaments. The process we use starts with the statistical method described here, which results in a percentage that represents the likelihood a given player will achieve value based on his salary, his projection, and historical variation in scoring at his position. From there, we take a look at statistics related to his individual matchup, as well as any other situational factors that might affect his value likelihood (e.g., injuries, coaching tendencies, game scripts, ownership rates, etc.). This combination of stats and context allows us to narrow things down to a select group of players worth fully recommending.
Note: With no Thursday Night Football this week, we don't have ownership information from FantasyAces' Thursday-Monday GPP, so commentary is based on the other factors mentioned above.
Below are every quarterback's probabilities of achieving value in cash games and GPPs:
|Russell Wilson||SEA||6800||21.6||58.3%||Russell Wilson||SEA||6800||22.4||20.3%|
|Aaron Rodgers||GB||7750||23.2||49.7%||Connor Cook||OAK||5200||15.9||19.8%|
|Eli Manning||NYG||6200||17.8||44.4%||Eli Manning||NYG||6200||18.6||14.2%|
|Ben Roethlisberger||PIT||7300||20.9||43.2%||Brock Osweiler||HOU||5500||15.8||14.2%|
|Connor Cook||OAK||5200||14.4||41.7%||Aaron Rodgers||GB||7750||24.3||12.3%|
|Brock Osweiler||HOU||5500||14.1||34.0%||Ben Roethlisberger||PIT||7300||21.8||10.0%|
|Matthew Stafford||DET||6500||17.0||33.2%||Matt Moore||MIA||5700||15.2||9.4%|
|Matt Moore||MIA||5700||12.7||22.4%||Matthew Stafford||DET||6500||17.9||8.1%|
With the least expensive options -- Connor Cook, Brock Osweiler, and Matt Moore -- being priced correctly, this is definitely a week to pay up at quarterback. So let's break down the five higher-priced quarterbacks.
At the top of the value charts in both formats is Russell Wilson, and for good reason. He'll be facing a Lions defense that's allowed the third-most FantasyAces points allowed to opposing quarterbacks and ranks dead last in efficiency both overall and against the pass (per DVOA). Ben Roethlisberger's matchup isn't as good as Wilson's, but he's at home against a Dolphins defense that's allowed the sixth-most quarterback points. And while Miami may rank 14th in pass defense efficiency, they rank 19th in overall defense efficiency, which correlates more strongly with quarterback fantasy points.
Then there are two sneakier -- dare I say, contrarian -- options for value, especially in tournaments. The first is Eli Manning, who, although on the road, faces a Packers defense that's ranked 28th in quarterback points allowed, 20th in overall efficiency, and 22nd in efficiency against the pass. Furthermore, although it may be a running joke that Manning's read progression starts and ends with Odell Beckham Jr., that won't be a bad thing when facing a defense that a) ranks dead last in wide receiver points allowed, and b) doesn't have a "shutdown" cornerback with which to shadow him. The only thing working against Manning is that the forecasted temperature at game time in Green Bay on Sunday is 14 degrees, which falls squarely in the zone where passing efficiency drops off according to Brian Burke's statistical analysis.
The other, even-more contrarian value play in tournaments is Matthew Stafford. Yes, he's on the road against Seattle's defense. However, the current state of said defense isn't what it once was. Specifically, after finishing third or better in pass defense efficiency each of the past four seasons, the Seahawks dropped to 13th in 2016. Obviously, much of that has to do with Earl Thomas' injury in Week 13. But Thomas isn't walking into that huddle on Saturday, and Seattle allowed the only two competent quarterbacks they've faced since then -- Carson Palmer and Aaron Rodgers -- to both throw for over 10 yards per pass attempt. One final factor working in Stafford's favor is the potential for a positive game script: Detroit's an 8-point underdog and they had the third-highest pass ratio in the NFL this season this season.
Rodgers is the one expensive quarterback to avoid this week even though his exploits over the past six weeks have oftentimes seemed superhuman: The Giants rank second in quarterback points allowed, second in overall defense efficiency, and fourth in pass defense efficiency.
Below are every running back's probabilities of achieving value in cash games and GPPs:
|LeVeon Bell||PIT||6800||23.1||58.3%||LeVeon Bell||PIT||6800||23.7||40.8%|
|Zach Zenner||DET||4550||13.8||50.7%||Zach Zenner||DET||4550||14.3||34.2%|
|Lamar Miller||HOU||4950||11.8||34.8%||Lamar Miller||HOU||4950||12.8||23.1%|
|Jay Ajayi||MIA||5800||13.3||32.6%||Jay Ajayi||MIA||5800||14.0||19.7%|
|Ty Montgomery||GB||4650||9.6||26.3%||Ty Montgomery||GB||4650||11.0||18.8%|
|Rashad Jennings||NYG||4550||8.5||21.0%||Alex Collins||SEA||4300||9.7||16.7%|
|Alex Collins||SEA||4300||7.9||20.1%||Rashad Jennings||NYG||4550||9.4||13.2%|
|Latavius Murray||OAK||4800||8.7||19.7%||Latavius Murray||OAK||4800||9.6||12.1%|
|Paul Perkins||NYG||4850||8.8||19.6%||Jalen Richard||OAK||3500||6.5||9.8%|
|Jalen Richard||OAK||3500||5.3||12.6%||Paul Perkins||NYG||4850||9.0||9.7%|
|Thomas Rawls||SEA||4750||7.1||11.9%||Thomas Rawls||SEA||4750||7.9||6.9%|
|DeAndre Washington||OAK||4300||5.9||9.3%||DeAndre Washington||OAK||4300||6.1||4.0%|
|Aaron Ripkowski||GB||3900||4.6||5.9%||Aaron Ripkowski||GB||3900||5.4||3.7%|
|Damien Williams||MIA||3500||3.8||4.4%||Damien Williams||MIA||3500||4.3||2.3%|
|Alfred Blue||HOU||4400||4.3||3.0%||Jonathan Grimes||HOU||3000||3.6||2.1%|
|Jonathan Grimes||HOU||3000||2.6||1.9%||Alfred Blue||HOU||4400||4.8||1.4%|
|Marcel Reece||SEA||3300||2.5||1.1%||Marcel Reece||SEA||3300||3.5||1.3%|
|Kenyan Drake||MIA||3900||2.3||0.3%||DeAngelo Williams||PIT||3500||2.9||0.4%|
|DeAngelo Williams||PIT||3500||2.1||0.3%||Christine Michael||GB||4000||3.1||0.3%|
|Christine Michael||GB||4000||2.3||0.3%||Dwayne Washington||DET||3900||2.9||0.2%|
|Dwayne Washington||DET||3900||2.0||0.1%||Kenyan Drake||MIA||3900||2.9||0.2%|
|Jamize Olawale||OAK||3000||0.6||0.0%||Bobby Rainey||NYG||3500||1.7||0.0%|
|Bobby Rainey||NYG||3500||0.6||0.0%||Jamize Olawale||OAK||3000||1.0||0.0%|
|Akeem Hunt||HOU||3500||0.2||0.0%||Akeem Hunt||HOU||3500||0.6||0.0%|
Based on the statistical matchups, there are two clear value options this week, and one clear "value" option. Starting with the latter, LeVeon Bell may be setting a record this week with respect to how much more expensive he is than the next-most expensive running back, but the game script is favorable being a 10-point favorite, and Miami's defense ranks in the bottom half of the NFL with respect to both FantasyAces points allowed to running backs and run defense efficiency (per DVOA).
Removing the air quotes, Lamar Miller and Alex Collins have both the price and statistical matchups to qualify as value options this week. Miller will be at home against a Raiders defense that's ranked 23rd in running back points allowed, 18th in run defense efficiency, and 23rd in pass defense efficiency on running back targets. He also plays on a team with such a bad quarterback that Bill O'Brien's offensive game plan will almost certainly feature Miller early and often. Meanwhile, Collins has played more snaps than Thomas Rawls lately and will be at home as an 8-point favorite against a Lions defense that ranks 23rd in run defense efficiency and 29th in pass defense efficiency on running back targets.
Regarding who to avoid, the list is two deep. Although near the top of the table, Zach Zenner will be on the road as a 10-point underdog against a Seahawks defense that's allowed the 4th-fewest running back points, ranks 5th in run defense efficiency, and ranks 13th in pass defense efficiency on running back targets. Even worse, although Ty Montgomery may be intriguing given his salary, the Giants defense has given up the second-least points to running backs, ranks second in run defense efficiency, and rank second in pass defense efficiency on running back targets.
Below are every wide receiver's probabilities of achieving value in cash games and GPPs:
|Antonio Brown||PIT||6600||18.8||46.3%||Antonio Brown||PIT||6600||20.5||33.5%|
|Odell Beckham Jr||NYG||6700||17.9||42.1%||Odell Beckham Jr||NYG||6700||19.6||29.9%|
|Doug Baldwin||SEA||5100||13.5||41.7%||Doug Baldwin||SEA||5100||13.7||25.1%|
|Jordy Nelson||GB||6300||16.1||39.4%||Jordy Nelson||GB||6300||16.2||22.8%|
|Michael Crabtree||OAK||4800||11.2||33.7%||Michael Crabtree||OAK||4800||12.3||22.6%|
|DeAndre Hopkins||HOU||4900||11.2||32.1%||DeAndre Hopkins||HOU||4900||12.5||22.4%|
|Jarvis Landry||MIA||4900||10.8||30.3%||Amari Cooper||OAK||4800||11.2||18.2%|
|Davante Adams||GB||5300||11.4||28.5%||Jarvis Landry||MIA||4900||11.2||17.3%|
|Amari Cooper||OAK||4800||10.0||26.7%||Davante Adams||GB||5300||11.6||15.5%|
|Sterling Shepard||NYG||4600||9.3||25.4%||Paul Richardson||SEA||3000||6.5||15.1%|
|Kenny Stills||MIA||4500||9.1||25.2%||DeVante Parker||MIA||4450||9.6||14.9%|
|Paul Richardson||SEA||3000||5.9||24.1%||Golden Tate||DET||5200||11.2||14.8%|
|DeVante Parker||MIA||4450||8.6||22.9%||Sterling Shepard||NYG||4600||9.8||14.4%|
|Golden Tate||DET||5200||9.9||21.9%||Kenny Stills||MIA||4500||9.5||14.1%|
|Marvin Jones||DET||4550||8.5||21.2%||Eli Rogers||PIT||4400||8.9||12.5%|
|Eli Rogers||PIT||4400||7.8||18.7%||Marvin Jones||DET||4550||9.1||12.1%|
|Jermaine Kearse||SEA||3900||6.8||17.8%||Jermaine Kearse||SEA||3900||7.4||10.4%|
|Will Fuller||HOU||3900||6.7||17.3%||Anquan Boldin||DET||4250||7.9||9.8%|
|Anquan Boldin||DET||4250||7.2||16.9%||Will Fuller||HOU||3900||7.0||8.8%|
|Seth Roberts||OAK||3500||5.2||11.8%||Seth Roberts||OAK||3500||5.5||5.8%|
|Victor Cruz||NYG||4250||5.4||7.2%||Darrius Heyward-Bey||PIT||3500||5.0||4.1%|
|Cobi Hamilton||PIT||3300||3.4||3.4%||T.J. Jones||DET||3500||4.8||3.6%|
|Geronimo Allison||GB||3500||3.3||2.6%||Victor Cruz||NYG||4250||5.8||3.5%|
|Randall Cobb||GB||4500||4.1||2.2%||Randall Cobb||GB||4500||5.8||2.8%|
|T.J. Jones||DET||3500||3.1||2.0%||Cobi Hamilton||PIT||3300||4.2||2.7%|
|Keith Mumphery||HOU||3000||2.3||1.1%||Geronimo Allison||GB||3500||3.5||1.0%|
|Sammie Coates||PIT||3500||2.0||0.3%||Keith Mumphery||HOU||3000||3.0||1.0%|
|Tanner McEvoy||SEA||3000||1.5||0.1%||Sammie Coates||PIT||3500||3.4||0.9%|
|Wendall Williams||HOU||3500||1.8||0.1%||Tanner McEvoy||SEA||3000||2.4||0.3%|
|Darrius Heyward-Bey||PIT||3500||1.7||0.1%||Wendall Williams||HOU||3500||2.7||0.3%|
|Roger Lewis||NYG||3000||1.3||0.1%||Roger Lewis||NYG||3000||2.0||0.1%|
|Andre Holmes||OAK||3500||1.4||0.0%||Andre Holmes||OAK||3500||2.3||0.1%|
|Andre Roberts||DET||3500||0.7||0.0%||Andre Roberts||DET||3500||1.3||0.0%|
|Kasen Williams||SEA||3000||0.3||0.0%||Kasen Williams||SEA||3000||0.8||0.0%|
|Johnny Holton||OAK||3000||0.2||0.0%||Johnny Holton||OAK||3000||0.5||0.0%|
|Jeff Janis||GB||3700||0.2||0.0%||Jeff Janis||GB||3700||0.5||0.0%|
|Tavarres King||NYG||3500||0.1||0.0%||Tavarres King||NYG||3500||0.3||0.0%|
This is basically a "set it and forget it" week at wide receiver: Despite what may very well turn out to be large ownership rates, roster Antonio Brown, Odell Beckham Jr., and Doug Baldwin; and focus on finding value elsewhere. Why? First and foremost, they have the highest value probabilities. Second, they have the best statistical matchups. Brown will be facing a Dolphins pass defense ranked 26th in FantasyAces points allowed to opposing wide receivers. Similarly, Beckham will be facing a Packers pass defense that's ranked dead last in wide receiver points allowed. Finally, Baldwin will be facing a Lions pass defense that's ranked dead last in efficiency and ranked 23rd in wide receiver points allowed.
And if you're wondering why I didn't extend this Top 3 to a Top 4, it's because Jordy Nelson -- in weather unfriendly to passing -- will be facing a Giants pass defense ranked fourth in efficiency and sixth in points allowed to wide receivers. Furthermore, according to Pro Football Focus, Nelson is the only wide receiver this week projected to be seeing shadow coverage from a shutdown cornerback (i.e., Janoris Jenkins). Given how reliably bad this situation is, and given Nelson's price, it's advisable to look elsewhere -- for example, the three wide receivers mentioned in the previous paragraph.
Below are every tight end's probabilities of achieving value in cash games and GPPs:
|Jimmy Graham||SEA||4900||10.6||22.7%||Jimmy Graham||SEA||4900||12.7||15.8%|
|C.J. Fiedorowicz||HOU||3800||7.7||18.2%||C.J. Fiedorowicz||HOU||3800||8.7||9.9%|
|Eric Ebron||DET||4450||8.2||13.0%||Jared Cook||GB||4000||8.5||7.2%|
|Jared Cook||GB||4000||7.0||10.4%||Eric Ebron||DET||4450||9.4||7.0%|
|Will Tye||NYG||3900||6.8||10.3%||Ladarius Green||PIT||4300||7.8||3.4%|
|Dion Sims||MIA||3800||5.0||2.8%||Will Tye||NYG||3900||7.0||3.2%|
|Ladarius Green||PIT||4300||5.1||1.6%||Jesse James||PIT||3900||6.9||3.0%|
|Ryan Griffin||HOU||3500||3.6||0.7%||Dion Sims||MIA||3800||5.6||1.1%|
|Jesse James||PIT||3900||3.9||0.6%||Richard Rodgers||GB||3500||4.1||0.2%|
|Clive Walford||OAK||3800||3.8||0.6%||Ryan Griffin||HOU||3500||3.9||0.2%|
|Mychal Rivera||OAK||3000||2.8||0.3%||Mychal Rivera||OAK||3000||3.1||0.1%|
|Luke Willson||SEA||3300||2.8||0.2%||Clive Walford||OAK||3800||3.9||0.1%|
|Richard Rodgers||GB||3500||2.7||0.1%||Luke Willson||SEA||3300||3.3||0.1%|
|MarQueis Gray||MIA||3000||2.0||0.0%||MarQueis Gray||MIA||3000||2.4||0.0%|
|Jerell Adams||NYG||3000||1.4||0.0%||Jerell Adams||NYG||3000||2.2||0.0%|
|Stephen Anderson||HOU||3000||0.2||0.0%||Stephen Anderson||HOU||3000||0.5||0.0%|
|Matthew Mulligan||DET||3000||0.1||0.0%||Matthew Mulligan||DET||3000||0.3||0.0%|
There are really only two viable value options this week, and they reside in the top two spots on both sides of the table. I've been advising you to pay up at tight end all season, so Jimmy Graham is a must-play in both formats; but at the very least in cash games, as Detroit's pass defense has allowed the fourth-most FantasyAces tight end points, ranks dead last in efficiency (per DVOA), and ranks 29th in efficiency on tight end targets. But if you're leaning towards an alternative for uniqueness- or salary-related reasons, there's C.J. Fiedorowicz. He's $1,100 cheaper, will probably be avoided due to his quarterback, and will be going against a Raiders pass defense that ranks 24th in tight end points allowed, 25th in efficiency, and 23rd in efficiency on tight end targets.
Below are every defense's probabilities of achieving value in cash games and GPPs:
|Houston Texans||HOU||2750||11.8||76.7%||Houston Texans||HOU||2750||12.2||59.8%|
|Oakland Raiders||OAK||2600||9.7||64.8%||Oakland Raiders||OAK||2600||9.9||45.9%|
|Pittsburgh Steelers||PIT||2800||10.2||64.0%||Green Bay Packers||GB||2750||10.2||43.5%|
|Green Bay Packers||GB||2750||9.9||63.2%||Pittsburgh Steelers||PIT||2800||10.2||41.8%|
|Seattle Seahawks||SEA||3300||11.0||58.5%||Seattle Seahawks||SEA||3300||11.0||32.5%|
|Detroit Lions||DET||2500||6.8||43.8%||Detroit Lions||DET||2500||7.0||26.8%|
|NY Giants||NYG||2800||7.4||41.4%||NY Giants||NYG||2800||7.4||21.7%|
|Miami Dolphins||MIA||2650||5.7||31.7%||Miami Dolphins||MIA||2650||5.9||16.6%|
This week is pretty easy with respect to identifying value, at least from a cash game standpoint: Pick a side in the Houston-Oakland game. The Texans' offense ranks 30th in overall efficiency (per DVOA) and 18th in FantasyAces points allowed to opposing defenses. Meanwhile, although the Raiders' offense ranked in the Top 8 for most of the season, Derek Carr's broken leg changed that, and Matt McGloin's concussion changed that even further. This week, Oakland's reduced to starting a rookie...in the playoffs...really. Granted, Houston's defense isn't Denver's (i.e., Oakland's Week 17 opponent), but still.
If you're looking for value alternatives to the obvious in tournaments, then the two clear options are Green Bay and Pittsburgh. The Packers will be playing at home in offense-averse weather conditions facing a Giants offense ranked 22nd in efficiency and 15th in points allowed to defenses. The Steelers will also be playing at home against a mediocre-at-best offense -- at least statistically. Of course, unlike the Giants, the Dolphins will be starting a backup quarterback. In addition, although they don't "technically" play in a dome, I can attest as a Miami resident that the recent stadium renovations have produced as close to a dome as a non-dome can be; which therefore introduces into the conversation Brian Burke's dome-at-cold statistical effect.