Before digging in to this week’s games and GPP options, take a moment to refresh yourself on the tips for short slate tournaments covered in this space last week. Game theory trumps player and matchup knowledge in large fields most weeks, but this is particularly true on four-game slates.
INDIANAPOLIS @ Kansas City
|Opening Vegas Implied Total||25.75||31.25|
|Points Per Game||26.7||35.3|
|Opponent Points Per Game||20.6||26.3|
|Situation Neutral Pace Rank||2||6|
You want exposure to these guys, but so do most of your opponents.
- Patrick Mahomes II ($7,000) - Mahomes has exceeded a 4x multiple of his current salary in 63% of his games played this season -- a rate that will probably double his slate-high ownership percentage at quarterback. DraftKings’ unwillingness to elevate his price makes it impossible to argue against using Mahomes in GPPs, especially in a paced-up home game with a 57-point over/under. Just realize when you begin your lineup with a Mahomes stack, so are one-third of your opponents. You’ll have to go out of your way to differentiate your Chiefs stacks, and even your Chiefs-Colts full game stacks, as more ownership will concentrate on this game than any other on the slate.
- Andrew Luck ($6,200) - What we saw last week in Houston (18.84 DraftKings points) is more or less Luck’s fantasy floor, which makes him this week’s safest quarterback outside of Mahomes. There is a strong chance Luck is forced to throw the ball 40+ times to keep pace with the Chiefs. With the exception of a Week 13 meltdown in Jacksonville, Luck has scored at least 23.5 fantasy points (and as many as 39.66) in each of the six other games he’s exceeded 40 pass attempts this season. At only $500 more than Philip Rivers, Luck is a relative bargain and belongs on about 20% of your rosters.
- Damien Williams ($5,100) - Williams might be the most intriguing player on the slate. He’s blatantly mispriced relative to his production since taking over as Kansas City’s starter. The question is whether the crowd is eager to take the discount on Williams if Spencer Ware is declared active. We should be crossing our fingers Ware plays and Williams’ percent rostered dips as a result. Ware did nothing to earn snaps in his brief audition as a starter while Williams generally picked up right where Kareem Hunt left off before getting waived. Assuming Andy Reid wants to continue using his full playbook, Williams will see the majority of the backfield touches against the Colts. If Ware is active, as expected, make Williams one of your top exposures.
- Marlon Mack ($5,800) - Mack was a far better GPP play last week against Houston at about half of his current projected ownership rate. While he’s still a fine play against a rush defense that allowed 27% more fantasy points to opposing running backs than league average this season, playing at Arrowhead as a 5.5-point underdog is an altogether different game environment than the one he excelled in on Wildcard Weekend. Rostering Mack and expecting another 26 carries implies the Colts getting out to an early (and perhaps commanding) lead, which is not a likely outcome. This is a spot to fade recency bias, even if Mack has proven himself an elite touchdown producer and viable workhorse over the last month.
- T.Y. Hilton ($6,700) - Hilton is clearly playing at less than full health, which is reason enough to fade him as Luck’s preferred stacking partner. But as long as he continues gutting it out, you want him in at least 25% of your lineups. Despite his mounting injuries, Hilton has at least one catch of 38+ yards in every game since Week 14. The Colts’ offensive line has a significant advantage over Kansas City’s defensive front, suggesting Luck and Hilton will have plenty of time for downfield plays to develop. If Hilton gets a few cracks at Chiefs cornerback Charvarius Ward, an undrafted rookie free agent making his third NFL start, it’s feasible he leads all wide receivers in fantasy points.
- Tyreek Hill ($7,400) - Hill’s price is the lowest it has been since Week 10, which screams buying opportunity. Indianapolis’ defensive backfield has quietly been one of the best in the league, especially in the season’s second half, but Hill isn’t particularly matchup sensitive since he’s almost always the fastest player on the field. Lined up across from a group of Colts cornerbacks who each run the 40-yard dash in the 4.5-range, Hill is more than capable of taking a short pass to the house this week. With three running backs over $7K on the slate to pay up for, and both Hilton and Michael Thomas in the same price range, Hill will be popular but his ownership shouldn’t be prohibitive.
- Travis Kelce ($7,000) - Kelce will be the go-to stacking partner for Mahomes, which will make him one of the chalkiest players on the slate despite a relatively deep pool of top-shelf tight ends to choose from. Like Hill, Kelce doesn’t need a strong matchup to reach 30+ DraftKings points, but he should have a decisive edge over the Colts in this game. Indianapolis has allowed 70% more fantasy points to enemy tight ends over the last five weeks and Evan Engram (6-6-87-0) was the only notable one they faced. Zach Ertz and Eric Ebron are capable of making up Kelce’s production at a lower price, but they don’t share his probability of leading all tight ends in scoring. The only reason to consider a fade is unique lineup construction.
- Eric Ebron ($5,500) - The Chiefs allowed more fantasy points to opposing tight ends than any other defense this season, including 68% more than league average over the last five weeks. The matchup will be there for Ebron, especially if safety Eric Berry can’t make it back for the Chiefs, and so should a pass-heavy game script. Considering the drop off at wide receiver after Brandin Cooks at $5,600, it could be a rare week where two-tight-end lineups have enough upside to win a tournament.
If the implied game script goes wonky or the chalk busts, these guys can lead you to a win.
- Spencer Ware ($4,500) - Assuming Ware is active, the most likely result is your opponents getting off Damien Williams to some degree and barely rostering Ware at all. Logic would dictate Williams gets the majority of Kansas City’s backfield touches due to his explosive performances in recent weeks. But this is the NFL where logic doesn’t always rule. A small chance exists Ware splits work evenly with Williams and (unfortunately) that chance is probably greater than Ware’s projected roster percentage. Even if Williams does handle most of the work on base downs, Ware could still pay off his salary (at minimal ownership) if he’s gifted passing-down work and/or goal line duties. Don’t exceed 10% exposure, but don’t come up empty either.
- Nyheim Hines ($3,300) - Hines cratered as a trendy play last week, putting up a goose egg against the Texans. If your bankroll survived to live another day, this is actually a positive development for his tournament value. Now $200 closer to the site minimum and unlikely to clear double-digit ownership, all the reasons we were excited about Hines in the Wildcard round remain valid. If the Colts fall behind early, we won’t see Hines game-scripted out like he was in last week’s zero touch anomaly. Prior to the Colts dominant Week 18 win in Houston, Hines had been targeted at least five times in five straight games, which included decisive wins against Dallas and Tennessee.
- Dontrelle Inman ($4,800) - Inman found the end zone for the third consecutive game last week and has outscored T.Y. Hilton in back-to-back games. This isn’t to say Inman is the preferred play over Hilton, only that there are viable ways to stack the Colts passing game besides using Hilton and Ebron. Box score chasers will make Inman more popular than he was last week, but he has established himself as a reliable option opposite Hilton and could be the mid-range glue guy you need to balance out some of your high variance plays.
IN THE MIX
These guys come in above the “click and a prayer” cutoff line.
- Sammy Watkins ($4,500) - If Watkins is able to make it back this week, rostering him on more than 10% of your lineups is asking for trouble due to the risk of re-injury and likelihood he plays limited snaps. His upside at $4,500, however, is tantalizing. Watkins exceeded a 4x multiple of his current salary in one-third of the full games he appeared in this season.
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