Daily Fantasy Football is the ultimate week-to-week test of acumen. There is worry about bye weeks or injured players like in season-long formats. FanDuel offers a variety of cash and tournament contests consisting of a single week of matchups. Projecting player ownership to build lineups is an integral strategy to long-term success. Here are the key players for Week 13 of the 2016 season:
*Ownership Ranges to be added on Friday*
THE CHALK PLAYS
Drew Brees (vs DET), $9,300: Brees at home is a near auto-play. His home-road splits in New Orleans are strong. Also, this is (rightly) the highest Vegas over/under of the week. The Lions are a target pass defense matchup (No.30 overall by ProFootballReference) allowing by far an NFL-high 74% completion rate and strong ancillary metrics. Detroit appears on the upward track in terms of getting better on defense the last five weeks, but it is a mirage of the schedule. The Lions have faced Brock Osweiler, Sam Bradford twice, and Blake Bortles over the span. Look for 300 yards and at least two touchdowns for Brees in the choice matchup. Expect Brees to be owned in close to, or surpassing, 20% of lineups.
Russell Wilson (vs CAR), $7,700: The Panthers on the road have been lit up by Derek Carr (even with an injured hand), Case Keenum, and Drew Brees their last three matchups. Wilson had a dud performance at Tampa Bay last week but was on a hot streak of three straight games of 3.3x or better FanDuel showing previously. Outside the top-10 in salary for the Sunday slate this week, Wilson is the best non-Brees value on the board. Expect 10-15% ownership for Wilson.
David Johnson (vs WAS), $9,200: Death, Taxes, and David Johnson. The motor of the Arizona offense, who has struggled overall this season, has been a rock-solid DFS play all year. Despite sky-high salaries every week, Johnson has hit 3.5x value or better three times and at least 1.4x value in every game. Regardless of game script, Johnson is heavily used on the ground or as a split out receiver. The only remotely similar running back Washington has faced this season is Ezekiel Elliott (twice), who has logged touchdowns in both outings and 120 total yards in Week 12. Washington is allowing an NFL-high 16 rushing touchdowns as the second-highest yards-per-carry (4.7) this season. Expect Johnson to be the No.1 back in ownership, beyond 30%.
Jordan Howard (vs SF), $7,400: Like David Johnson, Howard has been consistently strong on a lackluster pass game offense. The 49ers are the crown jewel of run game matchups, allowing an NFL-high 5.1 yards-per-carry and are dead last in ProFootballReference metrics. San Francisco's game log is a near-lock for an opposing running back to hit 100 total yards (only Todd Gurley and Jay Ajayi have failed to hit the threshold, but Ajayi found the end zone in Week 12). Howard is a touchdown regression candidate himself, held without a score the last three games, totaling 50 carries. Howard is likely in the top-3 of ownership at 15-20%.
Julio Jones (vs KC), $8,300: Jones' season has been one of intermittent dud performances like the Week 12 stat line of 4-35-0 against Patrick Peterson. This week offers Jones' lowest salary of the season and 14 receptions since his last touchdown. The Chiefs can rush the passer well, but are beatable on the back end. Kansas City has been a strong matchup for opposing receivers over the last three weeks, allowing quality games to Carolina, Tampa Bay, and Denver units. Jones is a strong bet to be the No.1 owned receiver, north of 25% this week.
Brandin Cooks (vs DET), $6,800: Cooks is one of the bounce back plays of the week. After seeing elite receiver attention from the Los Angeles secondary last week, Drew Brees carved up the Rams with Michael Thomas and Willie Snead IV instead. Detroit struggles to cover anyone for long and Cooks is a 'squeaky wheel gets the grease' situation and offers a salary drop of $600 to boot. Detroit struggles to rush the passer (just two sacks over the last three weeks), which will allow Drew Brees time to explore deep routes to Cooks this week. Cooks projects in the 15% range of ownership.
Jimmy Graham (vs CAR), $6,400: With Jordan Reed and Rob Gronkowski dealing with injuries, Graham is the tight end cash game play of the week. Graham's salary is his lowest in two months and the rangy tight end has logged three lackluster games in a row. The targets are steady with Graham (just two games with less than five targets since Week 1) and a rebound Seattle passing effort after a dud effort in Tampa Bay last week is a strong bet. Graham is a top-3 ownership tight end this week, north of 10%.
Wil Lutz (vs DET), $4,800: The highest Vegas team total of the week, in a dome, and the kicker is not the highest salary. The combination is too easy for Lutz as an optimal play. The Lions and Saints allow scores on at least 40% of their drives against this season (top-10 in the NFL), expect plenty of field goal chances for Lutz if Drew Brees stalls before the end zone.
Broncos (at JAX), $5,000: Jacksonville struggles in terms of allowing sacks and turnovers. An added perk is the Jaguars struggle to establish (and stick with) their run game weekly. Denver is average against the run, but this week offers an optimal spot to thrive with their pass rush and coverage combination. Denver has an NFL-high 35 sacks and has allowed just 10 passing touchdowns (second-lowest) on the season. Expect 25% or higher ownership for Denver.
THE SNEAKY PLAYS
Matthew Stafford (at NO), $8,300: The Saints are playing better on the back-end of late, but a projected shootout and the Saints home dome boost the projection of any incoming opponent. Jared Goff even logged 214 yards and three scores last week in his second career start. Detroit has a near-bye week length layoff from their Thanksgiving win and Stafford has just one touchdown over his last two games, spanning 47 completions. Stafford is a quality 3x value bet for tournament consideration. Stafford falls into the 5-10% ownership grouping for Week 13.
Carlos Hyde (at CHI), $6,700: The best aspects of both Chicago and San Francisco is their run game. Hyde's tape has been better than the box score of late and Hyde has not hit paydirt since early October. Chicago is a neutral matchup for running backs, but the good news is the Bears offense is unlikely to run away and force the 49ers into catch-up extraneously early in the game. Projecting 15-20 touches for Hyde outside of top-12 Sunday slate running back salary gets him on the tournament radar. Expect 10-15% ownership for Hyde, outside the top-5 backs this week.
Theo Riddick (at NO), $6,500: The Saints are strong favorites in a dome shootout this week against Detroit. Riddick sees strong snap counts independent of game script, but offers high upside if Detroit trails in the second half. C.J. Prosise and the Atlanta backs are the notable pass-catching options on the Saints schedule to-date. Atlanta combined for 8-102-1 through the air out of the backfield and Prosise hit 4-80-0 a month ago. Riddick has seen at least five targets in all but one game this season. Expect 10-15% ownership for Riddick.
Jeremy Hill (vs PHI), $5,800: Hill saw quality snap volume in the first half of Week 12 and had 18 touches overall. At a value salary, Hill offers a high volume floor without Giovani Bernard in the lineup. The Eagles offer 4.5 yards-per-carry against and a Vegas line of a near pick 'em game. Hill projects in the 10% range of ownership.
Larry Fitzgerald (vs WAS), $7,000: Fitzgerald sits at his lowest salary of the season after two single-digit FanDuel showings. Fitzgerald is also a strong touchdown regression candidate, tallying six games (spanning 47 receptions) without hitting paydirt. Washington is a top-10 matchup for passing games by ProFootballReference, including the third-highest completion rate allowed (66.9%) in the NFL. With one of the stronger Vegas over/under lines of the week, Arizona's feature receiver (along with David Johnson) is an easy cash game call. Expect 5-10% ownership for Fitzgerald.
Will Fuller V (at GB), $5,600: The Packers have allowed an NFL-high nine wide receiver scores over the past five games and the fifth-most yards. On the season, they are the fourth-worst pass defense by ProFootballReference metrics. Fuller's salary has dropped to a season-low level as his last prominent game was back in early October. With two games under his belt since returning from a leg injury and warming up with 4-60-0 on six targets last week, Fuller is primed to take advantage of a strong matchup against Green Bay. Fuller projects with less than 5% ownership.
Marquess Wilson (vs SF), $5,400: It was Wilson, not Cameron Meredith or Eddie Royal, as the clear lead receiver for the Bears pass game last week. The 49ers struggle to rush the passer with just one game of more than two sacks on the season and turnovers are rarely produced by this defense. Matt Barkley should be serviceable to allocate fantasy production through the air again this week with Wilson offering the best upside to floor ratio for a low WR3 salary. Expect 4-6% ownership for Wilson.
Vernon Davis (at ARI), $4,600: Jordan Reed is a long shot (at best) to play in Week 13, providing another start for Davis. In two games without Reed in the lineup, Davis is averaging a 4-64-0.5 stat line (courtesy of RotoViz) and nearly double the fantasy production when Reed plays. At a bare bones salary, Davis is a strong play with Arizona being stingy on the perimeter of their pass defense. Expect less than 5% ownership for Davis.
Matt Prater (at NO), $4,800: Prater has one of the longest ranges in the NFL and gets a road dome and a projected shootout with the Saints this week. Prater offers a few hundred discount off the top options at kicker.
Chargers (vs TB), $4,500: San Diego is a different defense with Joey Bosa in the lineup. Over the last five weeks, the Chargers lead the NFL in turnovers forced (11) and had three defensive touchdowns, allowing just 89 rushing yards per game. Tampa Bay has been better the last two weeks but still has a susceptible pass protection unit. The Chargers are 4-point favorites at home. Expect 5-10% ownership for the Chargers.
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