Hello friends, and welcome to this (new) tradition, certain to be unlike any other, the NoTicket Sports Daily Fantasy Football Primer for DraftKings and FanDuel. Each week, the intent of this column will be to breakdown the NFL slate position by position, and provide you with the players that you should be targeting in your cash games and tournaments.
DraftKings has done a tremendous job with adjusting their pricing model, which makes for a very tough lineup build this week with very little value emerging as of 9:00AM on Sunday morning. So, it is damn near impossible to pay up at quarterback on DK. On FanDuel, do whatever the hell you want. Their pricing is still very soft, and you can fit in virtually anyone you try to. On DraftKings, I’ll be looking the way of Kirk Cousins and Colin Kaepernick in cash games (and tournaments). Captain Kirk will be traveling to Philadelphia and offers one of the highest floor/ceiling combinations on the slate, as well as one of the best point-per-dollar projections of any quarterback. Cousins is firmly in the mix to lead the league in passing yards this season, gets a dream matchup against the Eagles’ burnable secondary, and has a bevy of receiving weapons at his disposal. I’m very confident that Kirk can eclipse 300+ yards passing and throw for multiple touchdowns.
After being benched mid-game in Week 13, it’s tough to swallow rostering Colin Kaepernick this week, but his savings are very much needed on DraftKings, his rushing equity gives him to have a very high floor, and he gets to face the New York Jets who have all but quit on the season. Kaep won’t “wow” you with his passing game, but his rushing floor/upside combination is very intriguing if you’re in desperate need to save some extra salary from Cousins. There are some legitimate weather concerns across the country today, which will likely lead me away from quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, Ben Roethlisberger, and Eli Manning. Monitor the weather reports closer to lineup lock for updated information if you plan on taking a shot with any of these guys in your games.
Instead of risking the weather situations, Andrew Luck is in a great spot at home against the Texans, who have been getting absolutely flamed by opposing quarterbacks over the past month. Luck looked incredible on Monday night against the Jets, and now gets to return home with his offensive weapons at virtually full strength. “The Year of” Jameis Winston continues as the Bucs will host the porous Saints secondary in Week 14. Winston to Mike Evans will likely be one of the highest owned QB/WR stacks in tournaments, and for good reason. The sneakier (I hope) quarterback of this bunch will be Philip Rivers as the Chargers head to Carolina to face the Panthers. It looks like the Panthers are just about ready to call it a season after their performance in Seattle on Sunday night, and their secondary remains incredibly exploitable. Rivers will continue to chuck the ball for four quarters, as he’s done all season, and I like his chances of hooking up with Tyrell “The Gazelle” Williams for a big game.
This is not an automated message. Jam David Johnson and Le’Veon Bell into your cash games. You’re locking in a floor of 50 points between these two, with the upside for 65+. They’re basically running back/wide receiver hybrids with how much usage they’re receiving in both the rushing and the passing games. They’re target monsters, offer massive touchdown equity, and are both involved in games that have weather concerns that will affect their team’s passing games. While they’re expensive, there is some very nice low-end wide receiver value to pair them with in cash games. In tournaments, I think it’s wise to only play one of them, as your upside can be capped by spending such a large amount on two running backs.
As for the rest of the running back lot, I’m a fan of a lot of the high-end plays, some mid-range plays, and very few low-end plays. This is a week where you want to be spending up on running back and mixing in your wide receivers accordingly. Zeke Elliott in a snowy game against the Giants? Yes, please. We know the Cowboys game plan is to manage the clock, run the ball with Zeke, and win games. Look for a heavy dose of that tonight. He’s a great pivot off of the two aforementioned studs. LeSean McCoy should have his usual high usage workload against Pittsburgh this afternoon, however, he has absolutely lost goal-line duties to fellow RB Mike Gillislee, which severely caps his upside. Shady will still be fed the ball, a lot, but that two touchdown upside is more unlikely without the goal-line work. Melvin Gordon will likely fall through the cracks this week with so many great high-end running back plays, but he shouldn’t. He remains a usage monster, gets fed the ball on the goal-line, and he’s involved in the receiving game. This Chargers/Panthers game has sneaky shootout potential, making Gordon a fantastic high upside tournament play. DeMarco Murray is the Titan with the best matchup against the Denver Broncos elite defense. You cannot throw outside the numbers on Denver, but you can effectively run the ball, and receiving running backs have had great success versus Denver, as well.
Down in the mid-range, Devonta Freeman makes for an interesting play on the road against the Rams. We can figure that Atlanta will get up early (possibly with Freeman) and likely try to grind the clock down (likely with Freeman). Julio Jones is questionable as of this morning, and according to reports, will only be a decoy at best if he does suit up. Should be a lot of Devonta this week. Jeremy Hill gets the Browns this week. I repeat, Jeremy Hill gets the Browns this week. He may average 2.0 yards per carry, but he has massive touchdown upside and is a fantastic play this week. Further down, Thomas Rawls looks like a great play in a snowy game against the Packers, Lamar Miller (monitor the health status) has a very plus matchup against the Colts, and Todd Gurley gets to face the Falcons who are ranked dead last versus opposing running backs.
Ready for some analysis? Mike Evans, Odell Beckham, Antonio Brown…all elite plays this week. No, seriously. I mean it. All joking aside, it’s very tough to fit these guys into your lineups this week unless you’re willing to come down off of DJ and Lev Bell. Evans has an amazing matchup against the Saints, ODB is very cheap across the industry and is being targeted relentlessly, and Antonio Brown is always a threat to catch multiple touchdowns no matter which defense he’s facing. I love the spot for T.Y. Hilton, and I’ll be pairing him up with Andrew Luck in tournaments. He’s also being fed the ball at a heavy rate and should continue to see plenty of looks in this high-flying colts offense.
Since I’ll be doing my best to spend up at running back, I’m finding myself taking receivers from the mid-to-low end of the spectrum. As mentioned, I love Tyrell Williams this week against the Panthers. Williams has caught a touchdown in four straight games and appears to have move past his lingering shoulder injury and should be firing on all cylinders this week. Emmanuel Sanders has an egregiously cheap price tag on both DraftKings and FanDuel. He’s the Broncos main red-zone weapon, is seeing 10+ targets per game over the last five weeks, and has an amazing matchup against the Titans secondary. He’ll be a staple in my cash game and tournament lineups. I also love his teammate Demaryius Thomas for the exact same reasoning, he’s just a little more expensive, and every dollar counts this week. The Redskins receiving corps will be at full health this week, but I’ll be taking my shots with the guys who work outside the numbers, DeSean Jackson (revenge game!) and Pierre Garcon. DJax is best suited for tournament lineups only for his boom-or-bust nature, but, Garcon has been receiving a steady enough workload and is cheap enough that he will likely find his way into my cash game lineup. Falcons WR Taylor Gabriel is a tremendous value play with a limited (or out) Julio Jones, and a confirmed out Mo Sanu. Big play ability with a high projected target total could equal fantasy goldmine. For the saucy ones of you out there, Jets WR Robby Anderson has a tremendous report with QB Bryce Petty, received 12 targets from him against the Colts, and he’s the stone minimum price on both sites. Interesting.
Make Cameron Brate Again! Sorry, I couldn’t resist. The Bucs receiving corps is banged up, and we can reasonably project the void to be filled by Mike Evans Cameron Brate. Against the Saints, this guy is a no-brainer. He should be receiving 8-10 targets and be looked at in the red-zone heavily. With the uncertain nature of the Bucs running game, Jameis could be throwing the ball a few more times than normal this week, and I like Cameron’s chances of posting a massive line against my New Orleans Saints. Greg Olsen has been a disaster for fantasy owners over the past month, but he has a fantastic matchup against the Chargers and his price is in a total freefall. Time to buy in. Coby Fleener is on the other side of the ball in the Bucs/Saints game, his fellow TE Josh Hill is out for the rest of the season with injury, and he remains very cheap. Ladarius Green will likely be very popular after posting his massive line against the Giants last week. I’ll likely be going elsewhere. Jason Witten has smashed the Giants in his career, smashed them earlier in the season, and is massively underpriced. Great spot to save salary.
Well, the Vikings are playing the Jaguars. You know what to do. The Lions D/ST has been steadily improving over the past several weeks, and the offense has been playing a keep away style of football, making this matchup a very tasty one against the Bears. The Bengals get to face the Browns in Cleveland this week, so they’re most certainly in play. I like RG3’s chances of stretching the field, but, multiple turnovers is not out of the question. On the cheap end, the 49ers and Bucs both have tasty, turnover prone matchups, but carry a lot of risk.
There you have it, folks! Week 14. Enjoy the football while it’s still here. Plug David Johnson and Le’Veon Bell into your cash games and move on! Pair them up with the mid-range wide receiver options out there like Tyrell Williams, Manny Sanders, Pierre Garcon, and Taylor Gabriel. Paying up at wide receiver is a sure-fire way to differentiate your lineups from the rest of the pack this weekend, so take that into account when you’re building your tournament lineups.
Best of luck in your contests this week, and stay sharp out there.
You can find me on Twitter @_ryanpaulsen for more DFS nonsense.