Patrick Mahomes: vs BAL (DK 7000; FD 9300)
He’s matchupproof at this point as he’s crushing defenses on a weekly basis and available at a discount on DraftKings. While the rest of the field debates whether to roster Patrick Mahomes against a stingy Baltimore defense, lock him in without hesitation if extra salary remains.
Philip Rivers: vs CIN (DK 6500; FD 8300)
With Patrick Mahomes dominating most of the news and headlines coming out of the AFC West, the Chargers have quietly put together an impressive 9-3 record. Before they square off against the Chiefs in what could be the penultimate game that crowns the division champion, they face a Bengals team that is traveling cross-country and struggling on both sides of the ball. One stat Philip Rivers can claim that Mahomes cannot is that he has thrown multiple touchdown passes in every game in 2018, including three pass touchdown games in three out of five at the Stubhub Center. The Chargers average 30 points per game at home while the Bengals allow 31.8 points per game and multiple passing touchdown games in four of five on the road and it’s a solid expectation for Rivers to have his way against this hapless defense that will not be able to shut down this dynamic Chargers offense.
Jameis Winston: vs NO (DK 6200; FD 7700)
The difference between Drew Brees and Jameis Winston is the possibility that either Mark Ingram or Alvin Kamara score a touchdown on the ground as the Saints have 19 rushing touchdowns compared to the nine posted by the Bucs. With the inefficient running game and Tampa Bay entering the game as 8-point underdogs, it should force Winston to throw at will against a Saints defense that gives up the 4th most FPA to quarterbacks and the most to wide receivers. It’s hard to go wrong with either quarterback option as this game boasts the highest total on the main slate this week but given the choice between the two, give me the quarterback that should register more passing attempts with the better receiving corps.
Christian McCaffery: at CLE (DK 9300; FD 9100)
Had it not been for four Cam Newton interceptions, Christian McCaffery may have been in line for an even better fantasy performance against the Buccaneers. Nonetheless, he is certainly in play again this week as the Panthers travel to Cleveland to visit a Browns team that has been crushed by bell-cow backs all season. The price tag is hefty but certainly worth it for the Carolina running back that is seeing all of the touches and keeping Ron Rivera true to his word back in the summer that McCaffery would be heavily involved. He’s more than proven he’s gamescript-independent as he is averaging 35.15 FPPG during Carolina’s four-game skid and if they fall behind again to the Browns, he will still have plenty of involvement out of the backfield.
Ezekiel Elliott: vs PHI (DK 8600; FD 8800)
A trademark of the 2017 Philadelphia Eagles was their ability to shut down running backs. However, that never carried over into 2018 as in two games against Saquon Barkley and a previous matchup against Ezekiel Elliott in week 10, the Eagles surrendered 558 scrimmage yards and five touchdowns in three games to those feature backs. Adrian Peterson broke off a 90-yard touchdown on Monday Night Football and if the venerable 33 year old can do so, imagine the carnage that a well-rested Zeke could do against a Philadelphia defense traveling to Dallas on a short week. The addition of Amari Cooper has benefitted not just the entire Cowboys offense but Zeke too as he owns a +9.5 FPPG differential in DK scoring since the trade and this week bodes well for another strong showing in a game that the Cowboys can all but seal the division title with a win.
Austin Ekeler: vs CIN (DK 6200; FD 6700)
Rostering running backs against Cincinnati’s putrid rush defense has become a flow chart item as they’ve allowed seven rushing touchdowns in the last four weeks. Austin Ekeler is in a nice rebound spot after being contained in Pittsburgh last week and should receive a bulk of the running back touches on Sunday in a game where the Chargers are two-touchdown favorites. His work out of the backfield gives him a nice floor as he’s seen at least eight targets in the last two games and at this price, it’s hard to find a better bargain at the position other than the next one listed below.
Jaylen Samuels: at OAK (DK 3700; FD 4600)
How long James Conner will be out has yet to be determined as being declared out on the Tuesday morning before a Sunday game is concerning beyond this week. There is certainty that Jaylen Samuels will be the highest-owned player on the main slate in week 14 at his inexpensive salary against an Oakland defense that has allowed 100+ rushing yards in 9 of 12 games. In a blowout win against the Panthers in week 10 and last week against the Chargers, he caught touchdowns in both those games and seems like the favorite to receive the backfield work in what could be a committee at running back. Given the choice between the equally inexpensive Justin Jackson of the Chargers and Samuels, despite Austin Ekeler struggling mightily against the Steelers, Samuels should receive more of the running back touches compared to Jackson and register the required 11.1 DK/13.8 FD points to return value.
Keenan Allen: vs CIN (DK 7400; FD 7900)
His second-half resurgence should come as no surprise as he posted a +9.46 FPPG differential in PPR scoring in the second half of the 2017 season. Now, Keenan Allen has a 9.66 FPPG differential through four games of the second half of 2018 and looks to continue this success against the Bengals. Philip Rivers has thrown for multiple passing touchdowns in every game this year and considering Allen saw nearly 53% of the targets last week and Melvin Gordon will be inactive again, his chances of crossing the pylons are very good in this spot. He’s priced as a bargain after a monster performance as the salaries for this week posted while the Chargers were playing on Sunday Night Football and should be rostered with confidence as a core piece in both cash game and GPP lineups.
Amari Cooper: vs PHI (DK 6600; FD 6900)
The Cowboys offense has become a three-headed monster since Amari Cooper was dealt to Dallas and if it’s not Zeke causing havoc to opposing defenses on the ground, it’s the blossoming chemistry between Dak Prescott and his new favorite target. Cooper has led the team in receptions in four of the five games he has donned the silver and blue and squares off against an Eagles secondary that is battered with injuries and hemorrhages yards to receivers lined up on the perimeter. This game presents a good opportunity for another performance he displayed on Thanksgiving and it comes at an affordable salary on both sites.
Chris Godwin: vs NO (DK 4900; FD 5600)
Jenna Laine, the Tampa Bay beat reporter for ESPN, suggests that it’s “quite possible” the Bucs shut down DeSean Jackson for the remainder of the 2018 season. At the time of this writing, nothing has been confirmed but if he does miss the game against the Saints, it’s time to once again fire up Chris Godwin. Godwin, who was featured in last week’s article, has performed well in DeSean’s absence racking up 15 receptions for 310 yards and two touchdowns in those three missed games. Eli Apple is definitely an upgrade over Ken Crawley but still beatable and given that Vegas has the Saints giving eight points, it suggests that the Bucs will be throwing often and presenting Godwin with ample opportunity to accumulate targets.
Zay Jones: vs NYJ (DK 4200; FD 5100)
The blooming connection between Josh Allen and Zay Jones certainly precipitated the releases of Kelvin Benjamin and Andre Holmes this week. Jones will duel with Buster Skrine and a Jets secondary that is surrendering the 3rd most FPA to slot receivers this year and one that he fared well against back in week 10 to the tune of eight catches for 93 yards and a touchdown. New York has defended extremely well against receivers lined up on the perimeter, giving up the 3rd fewest FPA to outside receivers, which should filter additional targets in the direction of Jones. He’s not the sexiest name on the main slate but one that has accumulated at least 67 yards and a touchdown in two of his last three games and can allocate salary for one or two of the top-tiered running backs.
Travis Kelce: vs BAL (DK 6700; FD 8000)
The Ravens are in the top 10 in fewest FPA to nearly every fantasy position in PPR scoring. However, they are susceptible to opposing tight ends and face arguably the best tight end in football coming off his best game of the season. DraftKings has aggressively priced down players facing tough defenses all year and like Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce should be priced much higher after posting 42.8 DK points against the Raiders. If week 13 is an indication of how the Chiefs offense will operate minus Kareem Hunt, Kelce is not only going to make people money in DFS for the remainder of the 2018 campaign but assist people in winning fantasy championships in redraft and dynasty leagues.
Eric Ebron: at HOU (DK 5700; FD 6400)
The Browns weren’t able to get David Njoku as involved as they needed to against a Texans defense that had really struggled against the position three weeks prior to that game. However, that shouldn’t be an issue for Eric Ebron as only a few offenses target the tight end more than the Colts. It remains to be seen whether Mo Alie-Cox and the recently acquired Clive Walford will be active this week but without those tight ends available for Indianapolis in week 13, Ebron saw a massive 16 targets. Not to mention Jack Doyle also being out for the rest of the season but Ebron should be in line for double-digit targets once again regardless if Alie-Cox or Walford suit up or not.
Vance McDonald: at OAK (DK 3800; FD 5500)
Travis Kelce and Demetrius Harris combined for a 15 catch, 207 yard, and three touchdown slaughtering of the Raiders last week. Enter the Steelers who were already operating in a pass-heavy offense before the James Conner injury as Ben Roethlisberger has 40 or more passing attempts in five of the last seven games. AB and JuJu will certainly get their looks but after the beating the Raiders took from tight ends the previous Sunday, look for the Steelers to implement their tight ends as well. Vance McDonald has seen five targets in four of the last five games and all he needs to hit 3x on DraftKings is three catches for 25 yards and a score which is within his range of outcomes. He’s as cheap as I’m willing to go this week in what has been a tough position to forecast this season aside from the top four or five at the position.
Los Angeles Chargers: vs CIN (DK 3500; FD 4600)
The Bengals have lost both A.J. Green and Andy Dalton for the season and the struggles on offense against the Broncos don’t look to improve in enemy territory, especially with Jeff Driskel under center. The Chargers have forced at least one turnover in 10 of 12 games and are positioned well to make it 11 of 13 this weekend.
Buffalo: vs NYJ (DK 3200; FD 4200)
Sam Darnold and his 15 turnovers in 9 games returns as the starter against a Bills defense that held the Jets to 10 points in their previous meeting in week 10. Buffalo is forcing 1.5 turnovers and sacking the quarterback 2.5 times per game in their last four.
New York Giants: at WAS (DK 2500; FD 3500)
Though it dates back to 2014, in the 10 games that Mark Sanchez has started, he’s turned the ball over 16 times. In typical Sanchez fashion, he threw a pick in Monday night’s game while filling in for Colt McCoy and the odds of him turning the ball over this week are very favorable as he’s been prone to doing so throughout his career.
Each week, I will identify what players are bargains based on the salary cap percentage difference they represent on the respective site. Here are the notable week 14 bargains from both sites:
NOTABLE DRAFTKINGS BARGAINS
TE Chris Herndon: 3.16
TE Ian Thomas: 2.76
NOTABLE FANDUEL BARGAINS
RB Christian McCaffery: 3.24
WR JuJu Smith-Schuster: 3.9
WR Michael Thomas: 3.34