JOHNNIE WALKER BLUE LABEL (TOP SHELF PLAYS)
Andrew Luck ($9,700) - Luck went for 370-4-0 in the Colts 44-17 Week 3 win over the Jaguars, which should alleviate concerns about his ability to post huge stats in a blowout. At the rate the Colts run offensive plays (league leading 72.3 per game) and throw passes (league leading 43.6 per game), Luck’s opportunity should never fall into question anyway. You can’t do better in cash games than a guy who hasn’t gone below 19.88 fantasy points all season. Given the matchup with Jacksonville, I feel comfortable rolling with Luck in tournaments as well, despite his prohibitive cost. He’s been a top five QB option in eight out of 10 games played this year.
Jay Cutler ($7,700) - Cutler’s price didn’t budge from last week, despite his 28.3 point performance against a poor Minnesota defense. He shapes up as a nice value this week against the Bucs, who literally have zero chance at defending his receivers. Tampa ranks in the bottom three of nearly every pertinent pass defense category - opponent completions per game, completion percentage, yards per game, and TDs per game (OK they’re fourth worst in that last one, but you get the point). Cutler’s struggles in recent weeks have had more to do with lousy game flow than lousy play. I don’t see negative script becoming a problem against Tampa Bay, at Soldier Field. Brandon Marshall ($7,100), and Alshon Jeffery ($7,200) are both clear plays this week as well. Just make sure to check the weather report before plugging in your Bears and Bucs - early forecasts were calling for heavy winds in Chicago, which would be a drain on both team’s passing games.
DeMarco Murray ($8,500) - The Giants are now officially the most favorable matchup for opposing RBs, and Murray tuned them up for 28-128-1 back in Week 7. You have to figure the bye week helped Murray, who’s seen a league high 53.5% of his team’s total touches this season (for what it’s worth, he says he feels recharged). Simply put, Murray is far and away the best RB option on the board this week, especially with Jamaal Charles playing on Thursday. Pay up for him in cash games.
Eddie Lacy ($7,300) - The last time Green Bay played Minnesota, Lacy totaled 132 yards from scrimmage and two TDs. He comes into this game on a heater, scoring over 20 fantasy points in each of his last three games. I’m a little spooked by Lacy’s home/road splits (six out of his seven TDs this year have come at home, and he averages about 23 less rushing yards per game away from Lambeau), but Vegas has the Packers as a near double digit favorite. He projects to have plenty of opportunity against a defense that’s allowed the ninth most fantasy points to opposing RBs. Lacy’s floor is also boosted on DraftKings thanks to his recent involvement in the receiving game. Over his last four games, he’s averaged 4.5 receptions, 61.5 receiving yards, and .5 receiving TDs.
Dez Bryant ($8,100) - Dez destroyed the Giants back in Week 7, catching nine passes for 151 yards - and that was back when CBs Prince Amukamara and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie were healthy. With Amukamara out, and DRC struggling with lingering injuries, I don’t see a defensive back on the Giants’ roster capable of hanging with Dez. Bryant’s 30.72% share of his team’s targets ranks second behind Andre Johnson (32.62%), and only Rob Gronkowski is a safer bet for a multi-TD game in any given week. Since the start of the 2011 season, no player has caught more touchdowns than Dez Bryant.
T.Y. Hilton ($7,600) - Luck/Hilton is my preferred stack this week. I’m hoping the combination of Luck’s price, and Hilton’s Week 11 dud in a tough matchup with New England (3-24-0), throw enough shade to keep the duo from being heavily owned. Hilton is a great play any time he’s at home (last season 66% of this receiving yardage came at Lucas Oil Stadium), and I especially like him this week with Vegas projecting 32 points for the Colts, against a Jacksonville defense ranked dead last at defending opposing WR1s (per Football Outsiders).
A.J. Green ($7,300) - Last week’s Kings for a Day coverboy predictably returned to form in a plus matchup with the Saints (27.7 points on DraftKings). This week he’s on the road to face the Texans, who have gotten annihilated by wide receivers all season long (second most fantasy PPG allowed). Unlike Hilton, Green is a player you want to target on the road. In 26 career games away from Paul Brown Stadium, he’s averaged 6.73 receptions for 104.69 yards, compared to 4.22 receptions for 59.96 yards in 27 games at home.
Rob Gronkowski ($7,900) - In a week where the Patriots ran the ball on 13 of their 15 red zone opportunities, Gronk did stuff like this to remind us why he needs to be penciled into this space each and every week. The odds of New England taking a run-heavy approach against the Lions’ top ranked rush defense (3.0 YPA allowed) are incredibly low. Detroit is a neutral matchup for TEs, but Gronk carries unrivaled multi-TD potential into any matchup. As hard as it is this week, I’ll be doing my best to fit him into every lineup.
Philadelphia Eagles Defense ($3,400) - Zach Mettenberger - a statuesque QB with a five sack game on his resume - travels to Philadelphia on a short week to take on the Eagles, who average 3.3 sacks per game. Philadelphia is favored by 11, which means Mettenberger should be forced into plenty of low percentage throws when the Titans go into catchup mode. Through three starts, Mettenberger has completed a Kirk Cousins-esque 61.9% of his passes. This one has multiple turnovers written all over it.
JACK DANIELS (MODERATELY PRICED PLAYS)
Josh McCown ($6,600) - After back to back 20+ point fantasy performances against the Falcons and Redskins, we’re out of reasons to fade Josh McCown in favorable matchups. This week’s meeting with the Bears (most fantasy points allowed to QBs) certainly qualifies as favorable. With Mike Evans doing his best 2013 Josh Gordon impersonation, I’d be shocked to see McCown finish with less than 250 passing yards and two TDs (incidentally the Bears have given up 256 yards and 2.4 TDs per game to QBs this year). Give McCown an extra bump this week if you enjoy media narratives - he’ll be playing in familiar surroundings against his former team.
Colin Kaepernick ($6,500) - I’ve rostered Kaepernick enough to know this probably won’t end well, but if there were ever a week his production could amount to triple his price tag, we’re in it. Washington had two weeks to prepare for Josh McCown, and somehow allowed him to pass for 288 yards on just 15 completions in Week 11. Now their beleaguered pass defense and turnover prone QB travel West to face the 49ers, who own the fourth best turnover margin in the league. I expect the San Francisco defense to gift Kaepernick with terrific field position all afternoon, giving him a great shot at his first multi-TD passing performance in over a month.
LeSean McCoy ($6,200) - Following yet another uninspiring performance, it’s getting tougher and tougher to get excited about using Shady. But did you see what Le’Veon Bell just did to the Titans’ defense? Bell’s monster 33-204-1 stat line came on the heels of Arian Foster going for 20-151-2 against Tennessee in Week 8, and Justin Forsett burning them for 20-112-2 in Week 10. McCoy’s workload is never in question - he’s seen 40.8% of the Eagles total touches this season, which ranks him inside the top five most heavily used RBs in the league. Game flow should be on his side in this one too. Philadelphia are 11 point favorites at home against Tennessee, so we should see plenty of McCoy when it’s time to salt away the game.
C.J. Anderson ($6,000) - This price is too low for any RB who plays 93% of the snaps in a Peyton Manning offense. With both Ronnie Hillman and Montee Ball out of the way, Anderson is Denver’s clear bell cow in a game Vegas projects them to win by more than a TD. Even if the game script goes completely off the rails for a second straight week, Anderson’s proven ability as a receiver (combined 12 catches for 159 yards in the last two games), will more than keep him afloat on DraftKings (full PPR). Miami has been tough to run on this season, but they’ve been fairly generous to RBs who catch passes out of the backfield. Four different RBs have caught at least five passes against the Dolphins this season, and five have eclipsed 35 receiving yards. Miami’s four receiving TDs allowed to RBs ties them for fourth worst in the league.
Rashad Jennings ($5,100) - Between Jennings’ multi-week knee injury and uneventful return in a tough matchup with the 49ers (18-59-0), I’m hoping he slips by the crowd unnoticed. If you were to look only at full season numbers, the Cowboys have been a tough draw for opposing RBs. However, the majority of those stats were accumulated during Dallas’ hot start, when they were dominating time of possession every week. In the last three weeks, the Cowboys run defense has been exposed as fraudulent - they’ve allowed over 40% more fantasy points to RBs than the league average over that span. Vegas is calling for a close game between the Giants and Cowboys (Dallas -3.5), and the over/under is fairly high at 47. Jennings could easily return four times his salary in this matchup.
Odell Beckham Jr Jr. ($6,100) - Sticking with the Giants, I like Beckham to outperform his WR18 pricing this week. Since returning from injury in Week 5, ODB is easily the Giants leading receiver (463 yards), despite seeing eight targets per game to teammate Rueben Randle’s 10.7. Beckham averages six receptions for 98 yards at home, compared to 4.3 receptions for 57 yards on the road, and should see Cowboys’ CB Brandon Carr in coverage on the majority of his routes. PFF rates Carr as the 10th worst CB in pass coverage this season.
Sammy Watkins ($5,600) - With news the Buffalo-New York game won’t be played in post-apocalypse Buffalo, Watkins is officially a screaming value. I’ll be paying attention to how much the over-under climbs with the game being played on turf in Detroit (it opened at 40 points - the week’s lowest total), but Sammy is back in play either way. By game time, Watkins will be 11 days removed from the groin injury that hampered him last Thursday against the Dolphins, and he’s matched up against the same nameless, faceless Jets secondary he scorched for 157 yards and a TD back in Week 8.
Coby Fleener ($5,200) - With the Colts projected to score the most points this week, I’m all in on Andrew Luck and his weapons. Fleener is coming off a monstrous 144 yard performance, in which he hauled in all seven of his targets, and looked every bit as good as his stat line would indicate. 49% of Luck’s red zone passes have gone to Ahmad Bradshaw (14 RZ targets), Dwayne Allen (8 RZ targets), and Fleener (9 RZ targets) this season. Only one of those players will be suiting up against the Jags, who have been routinely burned by tight ends this season.
San Francisco 49ers Defense ($3,100) - I believe I already made the case for the 49ers defense in the Colin Kaepernick blurb above, but you should also consider that RGIII has been sacked on a league leading 6.79% of his snaps this season, and it will be tough to for him to connect on many deep plays against the 49ers, who allow only 6.1 yards per pass attempt, fourth lowest in the league.
LIMOUSINE LIQUOR (DIRT CHEAP PLAYS)
Blake Bortles ($5,600) - The Jaguars are a two touchdown underdog in a game with the week’s highest over/under. Blake Bortles will be forced to pass about 40 times, and while that will undoubtedly lead to an interception or two, it also places his floor around 15 fantasy points, which is an acceptable return in cash games. There’s upside here too. The Colts have allowed 10 passing TDs in their last three games, and that number would likely be higher had the Patriots not taken such a run heavy approach against them last week.
Torrey Smith ($5,400) - Smith comes out of the bye week on a nice roll. He’s scored five TDs in his last five games, and the Ravens finally seem committed to getting him looks (15 targets in the last two games). This week, Smith will be matched up against Saints’ CB Corey White on the majority of his routes. PFF ranks White dead last out of 112 qualifying CBs in pass coverage.
Trent Richardson ($4,900) - You’ll have to hold your nose for this one, but Richardson is in a great spot for production. The Colts are Vegas’ biggest favorite this week (13.5 points), which means there should be plenty of clock that needs to be killed late in the game. With Ahmad Bradshaw lost for the season, 12.8 touches per game are up for grabs in Indy. Even if Richardson only handles five more touches this week over his season average (15.2), you’ve got to like his chances against the Jaguars, who have allowed 5.8 YPA, and three touchdowns to RBs in their last three games. You won’t find another RB available this cheap that carries Richardson’s multi-TD upside.
Jerick McKinnon ($4,500) - Between McKinnon’s yawn inducing fantasy lines (he’s scored nine points in each of the last three games), and Minnesota’s high profile Ben Tate signing, I expect the rookie from Georgia Southern to appear on very few rosters this week. But with Matt Asiata in the concussion protocol, I like McKinnon as a low priced GPP differentiator. McKinnon received an endorsement from Norv Turner as the lead back earlier this week, and Asiata’s absence would open up an additional 3.8 targets in the passing game, as well as goal line opportunities. Even if the Vikings plan to utilize Tate heavily as a runner (not likely this week), those plans will go out the window if the game goes according to script (Green Bay is a 9.5 favorite). Minnesota will rely on McKinnon (a much better pass catcher than Tate) when they’re forced into comeback mode, which sets him up for a nice PPR day.
Isaiah Crowell ($3,800) - Trying to project the distribution of carries in the Cleveland backfield is DFS Russian roulette, but if we operate under the assumption possession is nine tenths of the law, Crowell (who played on 66% of snaps last week) is a nice value. Two things we know for sure are that Cleveland wants to run the ball (2nd in team rushing attempts per game), and Atlanta can’t stop the run (2nd most fantasy points allowed to RBs). If Mike Pettine and company finally figured out Crowell (4.6 YPA) does more for the offense than Terrance West (3.6 YPA), a 20+ point game is not out of the question. And even if West and Crowell split carries down the middle, he can still pay off his modest salary in this matchup.
Martellus Bennett ($4,000) - Lovie Smith’s Tampa 2 scheme leaves the middle of the field wide open for tight ends, making Bennett a nice play this week. While the black unicorn’s targets have dipped recently, he still owns a solid 19.63% target share on the season, which is fourth best of any TE. Bennett has the same number of top five PPR fantasy performances (4) as Rob Gronkowski, Julius Thomas, and Jimmy Graham this season, so his ceiling is certainly high enough for GPP play.
RUBBING ALCOHOL (MINIMUM PLAYS)
Austin Seferian-Jenkins ($3,000) - ASJ raised the hopes of fantasy owners in Week 10 with a promising 5-30-1 performance against the Falcons (eight targets), only to burn them with 1.7 fantasy points against Washington last week. Despite the scary low floor, Seferian-Jenkins is worth a minimum flier in this week’s matchup in Chicago. The Bears allow the most fantasy PPG to opposing TEs, and have allowed a whopping eight TDs to the position in their last four games.