The Week 13 main slate on FanDuel kicks off at 12:00 ET and features 16 games. Our breakdown will highlight core plays, which are cash game options and also players to build our GPP lineups around. We will also discuss some other players worth consideration for GPPs. As always, hit me up on Twitter with questions or comments (@hindery).
We don’t have any obvious shootouts and this is the first main slate in recent memory with no game totals over 65 points. There are minor blowout concerns at the top, with Clemson and Alabama each favored by 24+ points with their conference championship games on deck next week.
This is the weakest main slate of the season at the quarterback position, at least at the top. We don’t have a single game with a total of over 65 points, so there isn’t an obvious shootout to target. We don’t have anyone who you feel good about getting 30-50 points from (like Kyler Murray most weeks). The quarterbacks at the top project more in the 20-35 point range, with Tua Tagovailoa leading the way.
There are two consequences of the lack of truly elite quarterback options: (1) we can target passers without rushing upside and feel better about that lack of upside than most weeks, and (2) we can aggressively explore the cheaper quarterback options without too much of fear of the elite quarterbacks going nuts and killing our bargain quarterback lineups outright. The Texas Tech quarterback (whoever it ends up being) is an especially intriguing cap-saving option.
Texas Tech Quarterback
This is the one spot on the slate where we should have a value option to potentially exploit. Texas Tech averages 362 passing yards per game and is loaded at wide receiver. The matchup is fantastic against a Baylor defense that ranks 90th against the pass. This game also has the highest total on the slate (65 points) and the Red Raiders are 6.5-point home favorites. Whoever starts will have a good shot of hitting value.
The problem is we don’t yet know who will get the start because each of the top three quarterbacks is injured. Alan Bowman ($9,500) would be the clear #1 if healthy but suffered a collapsed lung earlier this season and looks doubtful. Jett Duffey ($8,400) has injuries to both his foot and knee and rumors have circulated he has been on crutches all week. McLane Carter ($7,500) has missed most of the season with an ankle injury and is again questionable. Fourth-stringer Colt Garrett ($5,000) may actually end up getting the call. His salary would make him a solid play even though we have no idea what to expect. Garrett is a walk-on who has only attempted one pass in his career (late in a 77-0 blowout). There would be clear risks in playing him but in this offense and at that salary, the potential rewards would seem to outweigh the risks.
The good news is that this is a noon eastern kickoff, so we should know who is starting at least a half hour before kickoff and have the ability to adjust our lineups accordingly. The most likely candidates are Duffey and Garrett and both are strong options at their price points.
Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama ($9,900)
Tagovailoa remains the overwhelming favorite to win the Heisman and a signature performance in the Iron Bowl would really put him over the top. Auburn’s defense is ranked 14th overall and 15th against the pass (S&P) but the Crimson Tide are still expected to put points on the board. In fact, their implied team total of 38.5 points is second-highest on the slate. While this probably isn’t a spot where Tagovailoa will go off for a huge performance, he should at least be solid. He’s had 20+ points in 9 of 11 games this season and arguably has the highest floor of any quarterback on this slate. While a solid performance is the most likely outcome, you can’t ignore Tagovailoa’s upside. It wouldn’t be a shock if Alabama really put it on Auburn and if Tagovailoa hits a couple deep balls early and gets a rushing touchdown, he could be a slate-winner.
Also Worth Considering
Taylor Cornelius, Oklahoma St. ($10,500)
Cornelius may be the most popular quarterback on the slate and it is easy to see why. He has been prolific as a passer over the last two weeks, with 839 yards and 8 touchdowns. The recent uptick in his passing numbers has made him a fantasy force because Cornelius has been consistently productive as a runner, with rushing touchdowns in five of his last six games.
The matchup does give cause for concern, however. Cornelius’ big games the last two weeks came in shootouts that had Vegas totals of 80 and 73.5 points. Even after hitting the over in both of those games, the total is just 56 points this week. TCU’s pass defense has been very good — ranking 19th in S&P, allowing just 6.7 yards per attempt, and 204 passing yards per game. TCU also went into an extremely slow-paced, run-heavy offense in a win last week and will likely try to replicate the success this week. You can’t ignore what Cornelius has done and he is in play due to the lack of elite options on this slate. However, if there is a week to fade him, this might be it.
Ryan Finley, NC State ($9,300)
Finley isn’t an exciting option due to his lack of rushing upside but he does look like one of the safest plays on the slate. In seven ACC games, he has put up 20+ points in all but one (Clemson being the exception). NC State has a solid 33-point team total and has done almost all of their damage offensively through the air this season. The rushing offense is broken — averaging just 3.6 yards per carry — so everything is put on the shoulders of Finley and his talented corps of wide receivers. Against a mediocre North Carolina pass defense (86th in S&P), Finley is a good bet for 300 passing yards and at least 3 touchdowns. Just check the weather before going all in on Finley. It could be an issue on Saturday.
Running back is far and away the strongest position on the slate this week. I’m starting my lineup building at running back and picking two (or three using the Superflex spot) of my favorites and figuring out how to afford it later. If there’s a problem, it is that there are so many elite options. It’s like picking your favorite child, you can’t because you love them all so much. Benny Snell, AJ Dillon, D’Andre Swift, Dexter Williams, and Eno Benjamin standout slightly from the pack and are highlighted below. You also can’t go too wrong with guys like Travis Etienne, Karan Higdon, J.J. Taylor, David Montgomery, or Miles Sanders.
Benny Snell, Kentucky ($10,000)
Snell should see a massive workload and has an amazing matchup. Louisville is allowing 273 rushing yards per game, 5.9 yards per carry, and ranks 127th in rushing S&P. Snell has had 20+ touches in all but one game this season and 26 touches in each of the last two games. He is basically immune to game script. For example, even in a blowout loss last season, Snell rushed 29 times for 211 yards and 2 touchdowns against Louisville. The game script does set up perfectly for him, though. Kentucky is a 17-point favorite with a 34-point team total.
AJ Dillon, Boston College ($9,500)
If anyone projects for more touches than Snell, it is AJ Dillon. He had a whopping 37 carries last week against Florida State, rushing for 116 yards and 2 touchdowns. While Syracuse isn’t nearly as bad as Louisville, it is still an above-average matchup — Syracuse is allowing 169 rushing yards per game. In this matchup last season, Dillon ran for 193 yards and 3 touchdowns on the road. The Eagles are 7.5-point home favorites and could see a few extra snaps against a Syracuse team that is allowing 73 opponent snaps per game.
D’Andre Swift, Georgia ($9,100)
Last week, Swift and the Georgia starters didn’t play much in a blowout of UMass. The two weeks before, Swift was dominant. He put up 31 fantasy points against a pair of extremely tough rushing defenses— Auburn and Kentucky. The super talented sophomore got off to a slow start this season while playing through an ankle injury but has looked like perhaps the most talented back in the nation in November. Georgia Tech has the 82nd ranked (S&P) run defense and Georgia ran for 243 yards and 3 touchdowns against them last season.
Dexter Williams, Notre Dame ($9,800)
In seven games this season, Williams is averaging 24 fantasy points per game. He has locked down the lead role in what has become a very good rushing offense. The Saturday night game against USC will be Notre Dame’s final game of the regular season. With a win, they will guarantee a spot in the College Football Playoffs. As such, there is no reason to hold anything back and Williams should see as many carries as he can handle. The recent history of this rivalry points to the possibility of the Irish running all over the Trojans. In each of the last three matchups against USC, Notre Dame’s lead back ran for 140 or more rushing yards. Last season, Notre Dame rushed for 377 yards and 5 touchdowns.
Eno Benjamin, Arizona St. ($10,200)
Benjamin is an absolute workhorse. He has 27 or more carries in seven of his last eight games. On the season, he has a whopping 256 carries. Benjamin is also consistently involved as a pass catcher, catching 31 of his 40 targets. Arizona’s defense is 62nd against the run and a bit worse versus the pass, so it’s not a dream spot for Benjamin but there’s not much to worry about here either. Add Benjamin to the long list of elite backs on this slate who should score 20+ points and has the potential for 40.
Also Worth Considering
Emari Demercado, TCU ($6,500)
With both Darius Anderson and Sewo Olonilua banged up, Demercado is in line to get the first start of his career. He was solid in relief last week, rushing for 60 yards on 15 carries. With the Horned Frogs down to their third quarterback as well, the expectation is a run-heavy approach against a mediocre Oklahoma State defense that is allowing 173 rushing yards per game. We can plug in Demercado as a price-saver who should see 20 carries. The question is whether or not we need to find savings at running back. There may be better value options elsewhere, which makes Demercado more of a tournament dart to differentiate your lineup.
The priority this week is to find the money to fit the elite running backs in. We will probably need at least one value option as our WR3. However, there is potentially enough value at quarterback to fit in one or two of the top receivers without too much pain.
N’Keal Harry, Arizona St. ($9,200)
Harry has been outstanding this season and projects as an early-round pick in the NFL draft this spring. He has five straight games of 90+ receiving yards and is the clear top targets in Arizona State offense. In fact, he has 107 targets this season and nobody else on the roster has more than 48. Harry has a fantastic matchup this weekend against Arizona’s 88th-ranked passing defense, which allows 270 passing yards per game. On what looks like a low-scoring slate, this in-state battle is one of our best bets for a shootout. The 64.5-point total is the second-highest on the slate. Plus, in recent years this matchup is always a shootout. The two teams have combined for 72 or more points in six straight games. While Harry isn’t cheap, he does come in a full $1,000 lower than Tylan Wallace and that savings is a tie-breaker when choosing between the two.
Tylan Wallace, Oklahoma St. ($10,200)
Over the last four weeks, Wallace has 35 catches for 626 yards and 7 touchdowns. He has been the hottest big-school wide receiver in the nation and should succeed despite a tough matchup against TCU’s 19th-ranked pass defense. Price is the main sticking point with Wallace. If forced to choose, it makes sense to pay up at running back instead of wide receiver this week. However, if some value opens up at quarterback (like Colt Garrett), we suddenly have enough under the cap to pay up at both running back and WR1.
Lawrence Cager, Miami ($5,400)
Cager stands out as the top value option under $6,000. Putting him in as WR3 makes building the rest of your roster a breeze. Cager ranks third on the Hurricanes in targets this season (41) behind Jeff Thomas and Brevin Jordan. However, Thomas was dismissed from the program on Monday and Jordan will be out with an injury he suffered last week. Thus, Cager instantly bumps up two spots is now the top target in the Miami passing offense. This isn’t a prolific passing attack (181 passing yards per game) and Cager could certainly bust in this spot. Still, the bargain basement salary makes the risk tolerable. Rostering Cager makes it easy to fit in a pair of elite running backs, which is where we want to get to this week. Mike Harley ($5,600) bumps up to the #2 spot in this pass offense and is in play four tournaments as well.
Dillon Stoner, Oklahoma St. ($6,700)
Stoner has a nice floor for a sub-$7,000 wide receiver. He has averaged 5.5 receptions per game over the last four and has seen his involvement in the offense creep up each of the last five weeks, culminating in a 9-catch, 127-yard performance last week. His 11 targets tied Tylan Wallace for the team lead. The only negative with Stoner is that he has scored just one touchdown this season and his low touchdown expectation dampens enthusiasm somewhat. Still, locking in a decent floor at a bargain price could be a winning strategy this week and Stoner is a nice candidate to do so. Stoner has similar upside to Cager but has a higher floor.
Also Worth Considering
Kelvin Harmon, NC State ($9,600)
Harmon has been nearly as hot as Tylan Wallace over the last month. He has 37 catches, 518 yards and 4 touchdowns over his last four games. He has a nice matchup this week against North Carolina’s 86th-ranked passing defense. Check the weather on Saturday before locking Harmon in. It looks like it could be wet and windy and the game total has fallen a few points from where it opened.
T.J. Vasher, Texas Tech ($8,600)
Vasher has a solid floor. He’s put together five straight games of 5+ catches and 9+ fantasy points. Vasher is also the go-to option for the Red Raiders in the red zone, so he has decent touchdown upside. Vasher’s not nearly as exciting as some of the top options but if you can’t find the extra salary to get up to the top guys, Vasher is a nice consolation prize and stands out amongst the mid-priced WR2 options.