Simply put: you’re going to want to check in here each week before setting your DraftKings lineups. That’s because I’ll be helping you sift through your DFS options without spinning my wheels talking fantasy scoring.
No, my goal will not be to opine to you on the highest scoring plays of the week’s slate; that’s a semi-fruitless task, and one you’re swarmed with on any other DFS advice site. Rather, I’m going to be reporting to you on the value of your options – their scoring abilities relative to their salaries. You’ll be filled in on the results of two weekly measures:
DK Points is the player’s DraftKings projection for the week, rooted in the offense’s and defense’s performances over the last three weeks. Please note that the goal of these projections is NOT to predict an exact point total; I’m not interested in supernaturally conjuring visions of A.J. Green’s next 40-point explosion. Rather, I’m keeping a tight view of a player’s capabilities and seeking the likely outcome of his matchup – in a sense, I’m seeking out his probabilities of reaching a certain scoring level. As a result, these projections are generally geared toward cash contests, where conservative estimates of player floors, not ceilings, rule the roost.
H-value is an attempt to reconcile a player’s scoring projection with his per-dollar value. You can’t fill a lineup with exclusively high-salaried players, and you’d never load up on just cheap, low-ceiling options. H-value brings the two together, marrying a player’s projected scoring and salary to lay out his true meaning to a DFS roster. The formula is simple:
(DK Pts^1.73205 / DK Sal) * 2,000
Please note that H-value is calculated based on my projections, which are rooted in recent performance in similar games. Despite the conservative nature of my model, we often see surprising outliers, especially when a guy is projected based on just one or two games. As a result, my H-value numbers serve as a guideline to my rankings, as opposed to generating my final list all by itself. Context is key, which is why you may see H-value numbers that don’t match my priorities. For my purposes, H-value is a generalized mapping of the slate’s value, a starting point from which common sense asks me to deviate a little.
On to my Week 11 DraftKings plays:
Marcus Mariota (51.57 H-Value)
Andrew Luck (54.85)
These two face off in Indianapolis Sunday and will be very widely owned in cash games. Las Vegas projects 53 points between the teams, who have combined to throw 15 touchdown passes over their last 3 games. By any measure, Mariota is the stronger pick: he’s $500 cheaper, and he’s accounted for 9 of those 15 scores himself. Mariota has developed into an elite big-play passer (13.71 yards per completion over that span) and TD producer (a better dark zone TD rate over his two seasons than his counterparts in New England and Green Bay). Considering his likely ownership, you can hardly go wrong plugging and playing him in the hopes of hitting a too-low 20-point value marker. He’s hit that in five of his last six games. Across the field, Luck is also set up for success, though he hasn’t cashed in on that opportunity as often as DFSers have hoped. Still, the Titans defense is very burnable, and Luck’s Colts are favored – and favored QBs tend to produce noticeably better than underdogs. If the Colts reach Vegas’ expectation of 28 points, there’s an excellent chance they do so on Luck’s arm and legs.
Kirk Cousins (65.95)
He’ll draw an awful lot of chalk this week – I’d expect around 25% in cash contests – thanks to his combination of matchup and salary relief. It’s hard to argue: the Packers have allowed their last 3 opposing QBs to average 288 yards and throw 8 touchdowns along the way. All told, their banged-up secondary has allowed the sixth-most net yards per attempt and the seventh-most passing TD. Cousins’ midlevel salary only requires around 17-18 points to cash, and he’s exceeded that in 7 of 9 games thus far. And he’s done it against stronger pass defenses (Minnesota, Cincinnati, Philadelphia, and the N.Y. Giants) than this one.
Aaron Rodgers (54.55)
The Green Bay offense isn’t “back,” at least not yet. Rodgers and his receivers are still struggling to turn volume into efficiency, and this is clearly not a no-questions-asked DFS play. But you can’t quibble with all of that volume – Rodgers projects to tie (with Carson Palmer) for the second-most attempts this week, and no one projects to more touchdown success. Always a supreme red zone passer, Rodgers has posted excellent TD numbers of late as the clear and unchallenged offensive engine while the team has spun its wheels on the ground. All in all, Rodgers’ salary, while high, makes for a very palatable cash marker (21-22) in a game Vegas projects to 50.5 points. He carries a great shot at the 300-yard bonus, having thrown for 294+ in 4 of his last 5, and he’s thrown multiple TDs in 8 of 10 games overall. He’s also running quite a bit, boosting both floor and ceiling even further.
Tyrod Taylor (67.76)
Another week, another No. 1 ranking for Taylor in my DraftKings projection model. That’s because his dynamic legs simply won’t quit; Taylor has run for 35+ yards in 4 straight games, finding the end zone in 3 of them. As a result, he’s reached 4x, 4.4x, 3.5x, and 5.4x value in those matchups. And even if I were to scale back Taylor’s rushing projection – giving him, say, 20 yards and no touchdowns – he’d still register as a top-5 QB value. After all, he just threw for 289 yards in Seattle. As a passer, Taylor will only need around 175 yards and a touchdown to reach 4x, assuming his rushing potential holds true.
Tom Brady (47.50)
He’s pricey, thanks to his reputation and a date with a 49ers defense that’s allowed its last 3 opposing QBs to average 323 air yards. But there’s too much QB value this week to need Brady in cash games. Similar floors are available for much cheaper, and there’s always the very real possibility the Patriots coast to victory on LeGarrette Blount’s legs and Brady plays caretaker. He fits best as a tournament option with a semi-murky outlook for this salary, but clear potential to hit 30 points in this matchup.
LeGarrette Blount (80.12)
Here’s where much of your contests’ chalk will reside. Blount has been phenomenal as a ground game producer all year, and his date with the 49ers (and a 13-point Vegas spread) all but guarantees heavy, heavy ownership. His lack of receiving production is always glaring, but his salary reflects that dip; Blount can easily hit cash value by finding the end zone and reaching 100 rushing yards. And it’s fairly hard to envision Blount falling below 100 yards Sunday. Consider the 49ers’ opponents’ rushing totals dating back to Week 2: 176, 127, 194, 172, 313, 249, 248, 80. Given Blount’s usage, the spread, and the Patriots’ projection of 32 points, I’m quite comfortable Blount blends into the camp that’s dominated this defense all year.
David Johnson (60.63)
That’s quite a salary deflation to come after a 27.1-point performance. Johnson was priced wildly last week in preparation for a delicious matchup with the 49ers, and even though he delivered, this is a much more sensible cost. And while his rushing effectiveness has waned (just 3.10 yards per rush over his last 3 games), Johnson still carries the floor of a safe play near $8,000. He just has so many different avenues to cash value. If the Cardinals struggle, Johnson will be used heavily in the passing game. If they excel, he’ll be a big reason for it and will also help grind the clock down late. If he fails to produce in the running game, he’s likely to make up for most or all of it with receptions. And through it all, Johnson remains an elite touchdown play based on his dynamism and short-yardage dominance. Simply put, his opportunity (30.4 carries-plus-targets per game over his last 5) and explosiveness are among the best in the business, and he comes at a discount from some of his peers. The floor is strong, and the ceiling is almost incalculable.
Le'Veon Bell (61.26)
It’s a toss-up here in terms of production; the only reason I recommend Johnson over Bell is the $900 discount. Like Johnson, Bell is a dual-threat wonder with a clear RB1 floor and a ceiling that’s somewhere in the clouds. He locks down nearly 90% of the Steelers’ run game and over 20% of the target share, so it’s nearly impossible to envision him landing below 25-27 carries-plus-targets. And that might even be a conservative guess; early Cleveland weather reports call for snow and wind in the 30MPH neighborhood on Sunday. With that stable backdrop in place, it’s perfectly palatable to pay up and chase the monumental upside we all know and love. In fact, “palatable” probably isn’t strong enough here, considering the amount of chalk he’ll carry in every contest DraftKings has to offer.
C.J. Prosise (42.60)
Prosise is the clear back to own in Seattle after Christine Michael’s release. Thomas Rawls’ return to the lineup is noteworthy, though it probably won’t cost Prosise much work; he handled 24 carries-plus-targets in last week’s game. His dual-threat potential makes for a strong fit when the Seattle offense goes pass-happy and uptempo. There’s indeed a little concern over Rawls’ presence and the matchup – the Seahawks are heavy favorites in a low-projected game, so Rawls could conveivably be the bell cow. But it’s unlikely enough that DFS players should target Prosise first and foremost here. His floor isn’t great, but his cash value marker (12.6 points) is solid. He should catch at least 3-4 passes every week.
Ryan Mathews (110.68)
That H-Value is, of course, inflated after his monstrous Week 10 and DraftKings’ refusal to price him appropriately. Still, if early indications among my fellow Footballguys hold true, Mathews will be surprisingly low-owned in Week 11. That’s despite his Week 10 eruption (32.9 points) and his propensity to produce on the goal line (8 touchdowns across just 95 carries). Doug Pedersen is shuffling his backs wildly, but Mathews is the sensible choice to lead the team in rushes each week, so there’s probably a better floor in play than many are giving him credit for. And he’ll need a modest 16-17 points just to hold GPP value. It’s hard to imagine him falling short if given 15 rushes and finds the end zone. And while the Seattle defense is a fine deterrent, they’re being run against like crazy near the goal line.
Rob Kelley (46.90)
He’s not sexy, but he’s backfield-dominant and productive thus far. The undrafted rookie has locked down the Washington workload, with 55% of snaps and 73% of touches over the last 2 weeks. He’s averaged 4.23 yards per rush over that span, and while he’s not being thrown to, he’s the only Washington runner to see a dark zone opportunity over that span. He’s probably priced too low for his floor as a clear-cut lead back, needing 18 points to reach tournament value against the Packers’ overrated run defense. Offenses willing to commit somewhat to the run have had success against them of late.
LeSean McCoy (38.78)
He’s coming relatively cheaply, needing less than 28 points for GPP value, a mark he’s hit twice this year. Some of that is due to Tyrod Taylor stealing a chunk of his thunder, and some because McCoy has gone touchdown-less in four of his last five games. But he remains a volume stud and is at or near full health, as evidenced by his 26 carries-plus-targets in Seattle last week. Boasting 6.47 yards per rush over his last 3 games and entrusted with 75% of the team’s short-yardage rushing, McCoy is in prime position to erupt for 4x value. The matchup is sexy, too – Cincinnati has been gashed lately by running games both strong (Dallas) and weak (Washington, N.Y. Giants).
A.J. Green (61.40)
Green enjoys a nice discount from Antonio Brown, despite a similar floor and ceiling. As a result, he’s likely to be both the chalk and value leaders at the position this week. He needs a very doable 24-25 points to cash, a mark he hit in back-to-back games before last Monday’s 19.8. Green’s usage is always better alongside Tyler Eifert, and he’s drawn an ungodly 37.4% of Bengals targets since the tight end’s return to the lineup. His awesome efficiency (9.68 yards per target) and big-play prowess (recipient of 4 of Andy Dalton’s 9 long completions) over that span make him look like deep-fried gold. And that doesn’t even account for matchup; the Bills have allowed a league-high 7 pass plays of 50+ yards thus far this year. Green should remain a volume monster, and his potential for yardage and touchdowns is off the charts.
Tyreek Hill (39.84)
Jeremy Maclin (groin) isn’t practicing and looks likely to miss his second straight game. As a result, Hill jumps from “nice novelty play” to “value prince” at just $4,500. That means a 13.5-point cash marker, and Hill could even see more targets than that. He drew 13 last week, catching 10 and providing 5.3x value despite fumbling twice. Kansas City is serious about manufacturing offense for him in a number of ways, and he’s been as explosive as they come, producing 4 touchdowns across just 32 catches. Given a steady diet of 10+ targets and a handful of carries, he seems like a foregone conclusion to produce chunk yardage and touchdowns. Honestly, that 13.5-point mark seems like a conservative floor here. Work him into your cash and GPP lineups and bask in the savings.
Julian Edelman (37.24)
Edelman has not been a high-impact guy this year, but he’s been targeted consistently and should see even more work in Week 11. Rob Gronkowski (lung) seems unlikely to play, making Edelman even more likely to top 10 targets. He’s drawn 10, 8, and 9 over the last 3 weeks, and 7 and 10 with Gronkowski sidelined over the first 2 weeks. And obviously, his reception rate and general efficiency are strong enough to maximize a heavy workload. To reach cash value, he wouldn’t need more than 70ish yards, provided he can catch 6 balls and get into the end zone. And considering his opponent and Vegas’ 32-point New England projection, it might be easier to list Patriots who won’t score touchdowns.
Alshon Jeffery is shelved for four games (suspension), so someone has to step up for this anemic passing game to survive. Daily players are looking closely at two options at WR:
- Eddie Royal – His volume tends to border on the steady, and he’s always been a strong dark zone producer. The questions are effectiveness – Royal typically struggles to produce yardage with his usage – and in-game health. Still, at his miniscule $3,400 salary, he doesn’t need to do more than serve as a nominal No. 2 or 3 wideout, catching 4-5 balls, to hit cash value.
- Cameron Meredith – He was dominating targets from Brian Hoyer, and it hasn’t carried over to Jay Cutler’s return. Still, with such a gutted depth chart, he’s likely to step heavily into the rotation this week. What he’ll do with them while trying to catch Cutler’s passes – and dealing with an elite secondary – is anyone’s guess. There could be enough volume on his side to threaten 12 points for cash purposes, but I’m not too interested.
Jordan Matthews (57.10)
His ownership will be lower than it should be, and you should pounce in maybe 10-15% of your GPP lineups. Richard Sherman won’t be following him into the slot; rather, Matthews will see a steady diet of coverage from Jeremy Lane, a mediocre cover man who’s been exposed in the slot. Another 20-point outburst would bring tournament value, and the volume will be there – Matthews has drawn 15, 10, and 10 targets in the last 3 games. Carson Wentz is struggling, but Matthews has held up fairly well.
Odell Beckham Jr Jr. (31.12)
It’s fair to be put off by his relatively disappointing season, but take heart going forward. Beckham remains a volume hog (25.9% of Giants targets over the last 3 games), and his efficiency has nowhere to go but up. Beckham’s 2016 yards-per-target sits at a good-not-great 8.49, but his career mark (9.57) is elite and should resurface, if only in quick bursts. This week he dances with a Bears pass defense that’s been a bit underrated, but has allowed huge recent games to Davante Adams, Stefon Diggs, and T.Y. Hilton. It wouldn’t be a bit surprising to see Beckham post one of his best 2016 lines Sunday.
Robert Woods (75.52)
Woods is in play with that massive H-Value, by virtue of a salary ($4,900) that doesn’t jibe with his usage. Over his last 3 full games, he’s averaged 8.7 targets and 85.3 yards, with more receptions of 20+ yards (6) than anyone. With the profile of a target semi-dominator and chunk-play producer, Woods slots nicely into GPP lineups where the cap is spent at quarterback and running back.
Obviously. This H-Value comes from a skewed projection and doesn’t capture his true, massive value. Not only will Bennett see a hefty usage bump if Gronkowski misses, he’ll also dominate the chalk in just about any contest you play. He’s bordered on the awesome for most of the year, and he shredded the Seahawks last week, so DFSers will flock to him. There are plenty of value plays on the slate, but you don’t want to be one of the 50% or so caught without him in your cash contests.
Delanie Walker (60.26)
Here’s my favorite higher-dollar play. Walker has been given 8+ targets in 3 of his last 4 games (and 5 of his last 7), so you know there’s plenty of floor to provide 17 points. He’s hit that mark in 5 of those 7 games, and the other two were oddball games. It helps, of course, that only two teams have allowed more DraftKings points to TEs than the Colts, who have been flayed in recent weeks by Travis Kelce, C.J. Fiedorowicz, Zach Miller, and even Richard Rodgers. Oh, and Walker himself, who hung 7 catches, 84 yards, and a touchdown on them 4 weeks ago.
Zach Miller (56.29)
See above: The Bears need warm bodies to cradle Jay Cutler’s errant passes, and they carry few options. Miller’s usage has fluctuated this year, with 7+ targets in 5 of 9 games, but he should land on the upper level of that with Alshon Jeffery out. But he’s priced near his floor this week, needing just 11 points to cash. None of us expect much efficiency from the Bears’ passing game, but if Cutler is able to complete 15-17 balls, it’s likely at least 4-5 will go to Miller. That would all but guarantee cash value, and anything further would be gravy.
Jason Witten (60.14)
Witten is rarely exciting, but he’s playing some of his most efficient football in years alongside Dak Prescott. Over the last 3 weeks he’s drawn 21% of team targets, notched 3 catches of 20+ yards, and even produced some in the dark zone, where he’s never been much of a factor. Needing only 13 points for GPP value, he’s a fine punt as he projects to 14.3.
Jordan Reed (51.75)
Reed is always an intriguing GPP play because his price point often fails to capture his full ceiling. And that ceiling, of course, is a world-beater. He’s routinely the top target for Kirk Cousins, sometimes in dominant fashion – he’d drawn 27.4% of looks over his last 3 games prior to last week’s stumble. Reed has slipped below $6,000 this week, so a 23-point game should land tournament value, and Reed has hit that twice in the last 4 games.
They’ve been a much-improved unit of late, notching 10 sacks and 6 takeaways over the last 3 games – both second-best on this slate. The fact that they’ll take on quarterback Jared Goff in his first career start makes this the hands-down play of the week. Most importantly, though, DraftKings priced Miami before the Goff news was announced, so they have just an 8.7-point marker to cover for cash value. They’ll almost certainly hit it, and they’ll be the mega-chalk play as well.
Kansas City (13.34)
The boom-or-bust Kansas City defense comes underpriced and probably underowned, once DFSers load up heavily on the Dolphins, Seahawks, and Giants. They’re a sack-and-takeaway machine and have topped 10 DraftKings points in 5 straight games. If you’re playing cash and need to diversify from the Dolphins, here’s your window.
N.Y. Giants (12.67)
The play the Bears.
They’re not as fantasy-dominant as we’re used to, but they’re still strong, and they’ve posted strong DFS totals against a few good offenses. This week they’ll match up with the Eagles, whose offense projects by Vegas to just 19 points. The Seahawks are the week’s top salary, but it’s under $4,000 and manageable.
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