JOHNNIE WALKER BLUE LABEL (TOP SHELF PLAYS)
Andrew Luck ($9,700) - Last week’s King for a Day coverboy was a huge letdown in a home matchup with Jacksonville, posting his first sub-20 fantasy point game of the season. I’m taking the (relatively) lousy performance in stride, and paying up for him again this week in another plus matchup with Washington (seventh most fantasy points allowed to opposing QBs). Luck wasn’t helped by his receivers (Reggie Wayne should have had a 70 yard TD), or his offensive line (five sacks allowed) last week, and still managed a respectable performance. He should have no problem getting back to his usual top-five QB numbers, at home, against a Washington team allowing 1.9 passing TDs per game (fifth worst in the NFL).
Ben Roethlisberger (7,600) - You’ll be hard pressed to find home-road splits more drastic than Ben Roethlisberger’s this season. In five games at Heinz Field, he’s averaged 363.6 passing yards, 3.4 TDs, and 35 fantasy PPG, compared to 243 passing yards, one TD, and 15.35 fantasy PPG in six road games. The Saints defense isn’t scaring anyone - they allow the third most yards per completion (13.2) in the league, and over 250 passing yards per game. Vegas is calling for 27 points for Pittsburgh, which bodes well for Roethlisberger and his receivers.
Arian Foster ($8,800) - The Titans’ run defense is an abomination. After surrendering a preposterous 717 rushing yards in their previous four games (7.54 YPA!), to go along with seven rushing TDs, Tennessee has now given up the second most fantasy PPG to RBs this season. It sounds like Foster will be ready to go for this one, and while the threat of an in-game injury is frightening, he’s worth the risk in this matchup. When the Texans played the Titans in Week 8, Foster exploded for 20-151-2 on the ground, and 4-22-1 as a receiver.
Jamaal Charles ($8,600) - Denver ranks as a top-six run defense, but Charles is an automatic play at home, regardless of matchup. A few weeks back, I endorsed Charles against Seattle at Arrowhead, noting his drastic home/road splits, and string of great performances against top-10 rush defenses. You’ll recall he tuned up the Seahawks that week for 20-159-2, and paid huge dividends in GPPs (~5% ownership on DraftKings). This week’s game script sets up similarly for Charles. Vegas has Kansas City as a one point underdog. The only way the Chiefs can keep up with Denver is to put the offense on Charles’ capable shoulders.
Eddie Lacy ($7,300) - Lacy comes into this game as both the the PPR RB4 over the last four games, and the fourth most expensive RB on DraftKings. To return value in tournaments, Lacy will have to hit his ceiling, but he should get close this week. Lacy has gone over 26 fantasy points in three out of the last four games, and you have to figure the Packers’ game plan will include establishing the run to keep Tom Brady off the field. New England has stiffened up against the rush in their last three games, but still represents a top-12 matchup for opposing RBs on the season. Lacy’s involvement in Green Bay’s high powered pass offense buoys his value on PPR sites. He’s averaged four receptions, 62.25 receiving yards, and .75 receiving TDs in his last four games. New England has allowed six receiving TDs to RBs this season, which is the most in the NFL.
Antonio Brown ($9,000) - Not surprisingly, Brown’s stat lines - like Roethlisberger’s - have been significantly better at Heinz field. His fantasy points per game increase by nearly 48% when he plays at home. New Orleans ranks 30th in pass defense DVOA at Football Outsiders, and 29th at defending opposing WR1s. Brown is your top cash game WR, and has proven multiple times this season he’s capable of returning 4x tournament value at this price.
Julio Jones ($7,200) - I’m not sure Julio will outperform Jordy Nelson, Josh Gordon, A.J. Green, or T.Y. Hilton, but he possesses the same ceiling and costs at least $1,000 less than each of them. The matchup against the Cardinals is less than ideal, even if it does come at home. Since Jeremy Maclin embarrassed them for 12-187-2 back in Week 8, Arizona hasn’t allowed an opposing WR to top 59 receiving yards (Calvin Johnson in Week 11). To make matters worse, it looks like Jones will draw Antonio Cromartie in coverage on the majority of his routes (Cromartie is ranked as the seventh best CB in pass coverage by PFF). But despite the tough matchup, this game still sets up nicely for Julio. Atlanta averages 93.1 rushing yards per game, seventh worst in the league. They won’t keep this game within two points, as Vegas is predicting, running the ball on Arizona's top ranked run defense. Jones (28.2% target share) should see a ton of volume, making him a nice differentiator in tournaments.
Rob Gronkowski ($7,800) - Gronk is your Johnnie Walker Blue Label TE selection until further notice. He’s especially appealing this week with the over/under in the Green Bay-New England game hovering close to 60 points. Roll him out in both tournaments and cash games.
Miami Dolphins Defense ($3,200) - Is there anyone out there (besides maybe John Idzik) that believes the move back to Geno Smith will end well? I usually like my DFS defense to be playing at home, as a heavy favorite. Miami qualifies as neither, and I don’t care. Every year around this time, a team emerges (submerges?) as the one dumpster fire to rule them all - and the Jets are it. New York allows 3.3 sacks per game and are nearly tied with Oakland for the worst turnover margin in the NFL. Geno completes a disgusting 57.6% of his passes, third worst among qualifying QBs. As soon as one of those errant passes gets picked off, the home crowd will let him have it, and this game is going to get ugly. Also consider the Rams and Colts at the same price.
JACK DANIELS (MODERATELY PRICED PLAYS)
Ryan Tannehill ($6,900) - Tannehill has more top five QB finishes (3) than both Ben Roethlisberger (2) and Drew Brees (2) this season, and he’s favorably priced in a matchup with the league’s worst secondary. The Jets have allowed multiple passing TDs in every game but one this season. A tournament lineup constructed around Tannehill and one of his low priced receivers, carries upside and allows for great roster flexibility.
Andre Ellington ($6,200) - Since Carson Palmer was lost for the season, Ellington has averaged a pathetic 1.89 YPA. Quotes like these from head coach Bruce Arians, and this week’s signing of veteran Michael Bush don’t suggest the coaching staff is very confident Ellington will get it turned around either. The good news is Ellington’s recent poor play is reflected in his cost this week. There isn’t another RB available at a comparable price who’s handled anything close to Ellington’s 48% share of his team’s total touches. Volume should win out in a matchup with Atlanta, who surrenders the most points fantasy PPG to opposing RBs.
Denard Robinson ($6,000) - Since Week 7 (the first week he received double digit carries) Robinson is the PPR RB11. He’s in a good spot to return at least 3x value against the Giants, who rank behind only Atlanta and Tennessee in fantasy PPG allowed to RBs on the season. Things have gotten worse for the Giants recently - over the last three weeks, they’ve allowed over 53% more fantasy PPG to RBs than the league average. Robinson has had to battle through negative game scripts to earn his fantasy points this season, but for once that shouldn’t be a problem. The Jags are at home, and Vegas lists them as just a two point underdog.
Odell Beckham Jr Jr. ($6,800) - I’m certain Beckham will be widely owned after having a monster game (and making arguably the greatest catch ever) on national TV last week, but it’s tough to fade him at this price. He hasn’t gone below 93 receiving yards, or 15 fantasy points for four straight weeks, and it doesn’t get much better than a matchup with Jacksonville. The Jaguars rank dead last at defending opposing WR1s per Football Outsiders. In their last two games, they’ve been eaten up by Dez Bryant (6-158-2) and T.Y. Hilton (4-122-1).
Brandon LaFell ($6,100) - You can’t go wrong with pretty much any wide receiver playing in the Green Bay-New England game, but I like LaFell the most on the Pats’ side of the ball. He’s a more explosive option than Julian Edelman ($6,200), as well as the more efficient red zone receiver (33% conversion rate RZ compared to Edelman’s 14%). LaFell has finished as a weekly top 12 WR three times this season (the same number as Mike Evans, Julio Jones, and T.Y. Hilton), clearly demonstrating he possesses the high upside you look for in a tournament play. In a game that should rain fantasy points, LaFell has the potential to return 4x his salary.
LIMOUSINE LIQUOR (DIRT CHEAP PLAYS)
Andy Dalton ($6,100) - Tampa Bay has been playing better pass defense in their last three games, but still rank as a bottom-15 unit on the season. Dalton’s splits against bottom-half pass defenses are downright silly this year (as they have been throughout his career) - he’s averaging 22.22 fantasy PPG against them compared to just 6.9 fantasy PPG against the rest of the league. With A.J. Green back to playing at a high level (especially on the road where he historically dominates), the Dalton-Green stack is one of my favorites this week.
Daniel Herron ($5,000) - Is he the starting running back on a team that’s a large favorite? Boom. Is he playing at home? Boom. Does the game have a high over/under? Boom. Is his platoon mate horrible at football? Boom. Does he get a bump on DraftKings due to his PPR friendly game? Boom. Is he tied to one of the best QBs in the game? Boom. Fantasy friendly nickname? Boom. Low Price? Boom. Give me all the Boom Herron this week.
Tre Mason ($4,600) - I like Mason this week for many of the same reasons I like Herron. He’s affordable, playing at home, and his team is expected to win by a touchdown, which bodes well for his chances of seeing 20 carries. Since Week 7, Mason has accounted for 80% of the Rams’ rushing attempts, so worries about a crowded backfield are way in the rear view. The matchup against the Raiders is the cherry on top - Oakland has allowed the fourth most fantasy PPG to RBs this season.
Mike Wallace ($4,600) - Wallace has taken a back seat to rookie Jarvis Landry ($5,400) in the last month, but he’s still a big part of the game plan (seven targets per game in the last four games, and two TDs in his last three) and represents the better $/Point value. It’s probably best to create two variations of the Tannehill stack - one with Wallace and one with Landry - just to be safe, but Wallace (thrown to 20 or more yards down field on a healthy 22.5% of his targets) is the one capable of taking the top off the Jets’ lousy defense.
Kenny Stills ($4,800) - Stills has quietly been one of the league’s most efficient receivers this season. His 76.5% reception rate ranks second in the NFL, and he averages 13.6 yards per target, which is good for fifth in the league (minimum 50 targets). In his first game without Brandin Cooks, Stills saw a significant increase in high percentage targets (his aDOT was 7.3 last week compared to 12.5 the first 11 games), and was predictably the Saints best receiver (8-98-0 on nine targets). Fortunately for us, the Saints played Monday night last week - too late for Stills’ performance to be factored into this week’s price. It’s a situation to exploit regardless of matchup, but the Steelers secondary can be accommodating.
Charles Johnson ($4,000) - As a big fan of scouting metrics, it’s been fun to see Johnson take advantage of his opportunity in Minnesota. The size/speed freak out of small school Grand Valley State has more or less the same physical profile as Julio Jones. Over the last two weeks, Johnson has seen over 28% of Minnesota’s targets (typically a sweet spot for elite production), and responded with nine receptions, 139 receiving yards, and one TD. This week, he figures to match up with Panthers’ CB Antoine Cason, who is just terrible. PFF ranks Cason as the NFL’s second worst CB in pass coverage.
Charles Clay ($3,400) - Amazingly, Clay has the most red zone targets in the entire NFL over the past month, despite missing last week’s game with knee and hamstring issues. If he plays this week (he missed Friday’s practice, but reportedly expects to return) he’s a great bet to find the endzone against the Jets. New York has allowed more than one passing TD per game to TEs this season. If Clay sits, backup Dion Sims becomes an interesting flier for the minimum.
New York Giants Defense ($2,800) - The Giants defense hasn’t exceeded five fantasy points on DraftKings since Week 4, but I do believe they’ve found their huckleberry. Jacksonville has given up the most sacks, most INTs, and second most TDs to opposing defenses. All told, defenses playing against the Jags average 13.36 fantasy PPG. No D/ST has a higher fantasy floor from week-to-week than the team playing the Jags.
RUBBING ALCOHOL (MINIMUM PLAYS)
Shaun Hill ($5,000) - In the only home game Hill has finished this season, he put up 13.8 fantasy points on DraftKings against the Broncos defense. It doesn’t seem like a stretch to assume he can get to 15 points in St. Louis, against the awful Raiders. Fire him up in cash games, and enjoy the extra stud RB or WR his low price allows you to squeeze in.