Perfect DraftKings Lineup: Defensive and Other Lineup Construction Trends

This five-part series concludes with notable defensive trends as well as some overall lineup construction trends.  While it may not feel or look like it, defense still has a vital role in the league; look no further than Super Bowl 53 when Brian Flores completely shut down Sean McVay’s octane offense.  Defense does win games even in a league that is predicated on offense nowadays as this first trend illustrates.

NO DEFENSE IN THE PERFECT LINEUP LOST ITS GAME

The first two weeks hilariously contained defenses in the perfect lineup that played to ties.  However, coming as no surprise from Week 3 on, the perfect defense won their game straight up.  By predicting who will win games, it can eliminate half of the available pool of defenses to select from.  It’s very rare that the top defense in a week lost its game to the point that it hasn’t happened in fantasy football since Week 4 of 2015 when Detroit amassed 24 fantasy points in a loss to Seattle.

11 OF THE 17 DEFENSES WERE FAVORITES

Like the fans, Vegas is still learning about the 32 teams early on that for as bad as the Bills were offensively in the first half of 2018, they possessed a competent defense that everyone in suicide pools and DFS discovered as 17-point underdogs in Week 3.  Go back to Week 1 in 2017 and Jacksonville made the perfect lineup as six-point underdogs against an awful Tom Savage that ultimately gave DeShaun Watson the starting job.  

Once the first few weeks play out, Vegas has a better pulse on the teams and it shows as no defense heading into their respective perfect game was worse than 3.5-point underdogs.  This trend is an extension of the one listed above and further reduces the pool of suitable options.  It would take balls to start a double-digit underdog as a fantasy defense, the type of balls that less than a percent of people in the Milly Maker had who started the Bills as 17-point dogs.

15 OF THE 17 DEFENSES WERE PRICED NO MORE THAN $3000

Two viable defensive strategies proved effective in 2018.  Rostering the Bears defense each week would have given you nine double-digit fantasy point performances, the most in the NFL.  The other option was rostering the defense against a Cardinals offense that allowed a league-high 10 double-digit fantasy point performances.  Implementing these strategies would be costly as most weeks, the Bears or whoever the Cardinals dueled with were the priciest defenses on the board.

Luckily the best defense on the main slate was over $3000 just twice, demonstrating that paying down at that position can be just as effective as paying up for what are considered to be the top defensive options heading into the week.  Chiacgo and Miami were the top two defenses on the Week 9 main slate with a difference of $1300 in salary and three fantasy points.  That extra salary could find better use in helping to pay up for some top-tiered talent at other positions.  Especially when the top-priced defense was never the perfect defense at any point in 2018.

13 OF THE 17 DEFENSES HELD THEIR OPPONENT UNDER THEIR TEAM TOTAL

In its simplest form, the primary goal of a defense is to keep another team off a scoreboard.  Targeting games with low game totals is one way to go about this process.  Like running back, there is a stronger correlation in utilizing the team totals by rostering defenses against opposing offenses not expected to generate much offense.  The Cardinals were dead last in a variety of offensive categories and metrics last season that it made them a weekly piñata as they only exceeded their team total three times.  

Of course just keeping opponents off the scoreboard won’t be enough to earn a spot in the perfect lineup.  Pitching a shutout nets 10 fantasy points but every defense needed an additional boost to get on the exclusive list.

15 OF THE 17 DEFENSES FORCED MULTIPLE TURNOVERS

Ultimately, the goal of selecting a fantasy defense is identifying the one that has the best chance to hold an opposing offense to as little points as possible while scoring a defensive touchdown.  Forecasting which one will register a pick 6 or special teams touchdown can be as much of a science as meteorologists trying to predict the weather.  Even with the increase in technology and tools, you’d think that they be able to give an accurate report on a daily basis.  Selecting a defense can feel the same way as there have never been more databases and tools for fantasy players to access.  Yet, there are so many variables in 60 minutes of football that determine success and failure for fantasy defenses.  

Let’s not forget the low frequency of defensive/special teams touchdown that occur year after year.  There were 83 occurrences in 2018, an average of 5.18 per week.  Let alone trying to predict who’s going to return a kickoff or punt to the house will be enough to drive one bonkers and is simply not a viable option.

The best course of action in finding a defense that can score a touchdown is selecting ones that best create opportunities to allow that to happen.  12 of the 17 perfect defenses sacked the quarterback at minimum three times, all opportunities that force precious turnovers that increase the opportunity for a defensive score.  In the 15 games in which a defense forced multiple turnovers, nine of them did so in games they scored a defensive touchdown.

Playing on the road, inclement weather, backup quarterbacks, porous offensive lines, and increased wind speeds are just some of the variables that can influence turnovers.  If cognizant of these factors, it can help place you in the best spot to roster the best defense in what can be tough position to project.

OTHER NOTABLE TRENDS

15 OF THE 17 PERFECT LINEUPS FEATURED GAME STACKS

Each main slate featured at least one team stack and that was nearly identical for game stacks as only two of them didn’t feature one.  Of the 21 game stacks that occurred, the most common was an RB+WR which occurred four times followed by an RB+TE and WR+WR stack happening twice.  A variety of other game stacks from WR-WR+WR to QB-RB+WR found their way into the perfect lineup as well as unusual combinations from WR+DEF to RB+DEF.

Stacking as many players from both teams in matchups with low spreads and high game totals is a commonly applied strategy.  Regular season matchups like the Saints-Rams, Chiefs-Rams, and Chiefs-Patriots come to mind though the former two unfortunately weren’t on the main slate.  Like Al Zeidenfeld cleverly professes in these situations, “Play all the dudes.”

Ryan Fitzpatrick and DeSean Jackson formed a stack along with an opposing, underpriced stack of Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara at a Mercedes-Benz Superdome known for some shootouts in Week 1.  The following week saw another shootout where Jesse James and JuJu Smith-Schuster slaughtered a Chiefs defense that hardly played any in 2018 against a Steelers defense that had no answer for the duo of Mahomes and Kelce.  

More often than not, you will have the two or three-player game stacks that frequent the perfect lineup.  The RB+WR variety makes sense in that a running back slaughters a team on his own while the opposing offense utilizes a wide receiver in an effort to play-catch-up; Ezekiel Elliott and Golden Tate in Week 4 are the perfect illustration of this theory.  When the stars align and both offenses are clicking, nothing beats having pieces of both teams in a lineup and watching the DK points accumulate.

THERE WERE ONLY SIX INSTANCES OF BACK-TO-BACK ENTRIES IN THE PERFECT LINEUP

Recency bias plays a factor each and every week in any cash game or tournament.  The competition gets gitty when an Amari Cooper or a Tarik Cohen goes off the week before and then is highly disappointed when these players fail to meet the expectations bestowed upon them from the prior week’s performance.  

Observing from a macro level, taking all of the fantasy positions in 2018 other than the kicker, there were 28 occurrences in which a top-3 performance was duplicated the following week.  This doesn’t include perfect lineup figures but encompasses all of fantasy football players in full-point PPR leagues last season.  Of those 28, just three of them stretched multiple weeks with Todd Gurley posting top-3 performances at his position four weeks in a row along with Drew Brees and Zach Ertz doing so in three-week stretches.  

In terms of frequency, the running back position saw the most with 12 posting top-3 performances in consecutive weeks while the wide receiver had just two in Michael Thomas and Tyreek Hill.  With bell cow backs making up a majority of the 12, this reinforces two ideas that were discussed earlier regarding paying up for the top-tiered running backs and paying down at the wide receiver position with the inconsistency at the top of the fantasy point leaderboard for receivers each week.  

There are some variables that impact the low number of back-to-back top-3 performances in the DraftKings perfect lineup.  First, playing on Thursday, Sunday, or Monday night removes those respective players from eligibility on that week’s main slate.  That number of six back-to-back top-3 performances could certainly be higher if the main slate wasn’t limited to just the Sunday afternoon block of games.  Second, salary increases to those who excel the prior week make it more difficult to insert them the following week and still put together the best possible lineup.  Of those six repeat perfect lineup occurrences, running backs represented four of them (Barkley, Gurley, McCaffery, Mixon) while the wide receiver (Thielen) and tight end (Kelce) made up one each.

This teaches us the importance of when the masses zig in one direction, zag in another one.  Naturally it’s easier to go with what’s comfortable and select the player that had an incredible performance the prior week vs the contrary that didn’t post double-digit fantasy points.  If the same players kept repeating their dominant performances, fantasy football would be so easy and predictable that fantasy football analysts wouldn’t be needed and everyone would be printing money in DFS. Another way to understand recency bias is why pay an additional $600-$1000 in salary for a player that excelled the prior week that more likely than not will come back to earth or fall way short of projections? 

THE AVERAGE COST OF THE FLEX POSITION WAS $4135

8 of the 17 perfect flex spots went to running backs who averaged 22.5 touches at an average cost of $4587.  $203.86 per touch isn’t too shabby for trying to squeeze in a player with the last remaining salary available.  Tarik Cohen made it twice as a flex option while those that were in the fantasy playoffs in redraft leagues may recall Derrick Henry’s two games of dominance, one which landed him as a perfect flex off 34 touches and a steal of a $5000 salary in Week 15.

Double tight ends had its spots as five occurrences featured two tight ends making the cut.  Being that it was the most recent main slate, no one would have expected Blake Jarwin’s three touchdown performance in Week 17.  He paired with George Kittle as Kyle Shanahan did whatever it took to feed Kittle towards a record.

Four wide receivers were perfect flex options with two of them pairing with an opposing receiver to form game stacks.  DeSean Jackson and Michael Thomas both went off in a Bayou shootout that saw the Bucs shock the Saints to open the season.  Kenny Golladay has his way with the Panthers secondary while D.J. Moore did his best to duplicate that performance in Week 11

Back around 2015 when both FanDuel and DraftKings invested heavily in television advertising, DK’s commercial would ask who your million dollar player would be.  That commercial referred to the flex position and that low-rostered player that would be the difference maker.  It came in the form of Jesse James, Calvin Ridley, Maurice Harris, and Blake Jarwin at various points of last season.  That commercial still holds credence to this day as 13 of the 17 main slates had one player, not including the quarterback or defense, that was priced under $4000.  

CONCLUSION

While this series was intended to serve as an aid in roster construction, don’t treat it as gospel as these trends as well as offensive and defensive philosophies are subject to change each season.  The NFL is very much a copycat league as those who were looking for a head coach this offseason were trying to find the next Sean McVay.  By the end of the 2019 season, teams with coaching vacancies could be looking for the next Frank Reich or Brian Flores or whoever is the hot name enjoying success and implement their philosophies.

What we know heading into 2019 is that the NFL has become a passing league with quarterbacks and wide receivers posting record numbers in 2018.  While rushing attempts decreased, running backs experienced great success with their utilization out of the backfield which in effect has taken a toll on the tight end position as illustrated in part four of the series.

We can take this knowledge and gear our first few lineups of 2019 towards these trends.  After the first few weeks play out, we can reassess those trends and adjust our lineup construction philosophies if need be.  Staying flexible is an important attribute to have as some of the trends I described may change when I compose this writing following the 2019 season.  As long as we remain keen to what is transpiring on the field, we can remain prepared to generate the best possible lineups in an effort to build the perfect one.

Perfect DraftKings Lineup Tight End Trends

We continue our five-part series with the fourth installment that analyzes a tight end position that leveled out after a horrendous 2017 season.  As many in redraft and dynasty leagues can attest, finding a reliable tight end was quite the endeavor in 2018 after the position was already a dumpster fire the year before.  In fact, 2015 saw 15 tight ends maintain an average of double-digit fantasy points in PPR scoring but that number has dropped to only 13 of them in 2016 to just eight and nine in 2017 and 2018, respectively.

While overall tight end targets and touchdowns have decreased each season since 2015, overall tight end receptions and yards saw a slight bump in 2018 after experiencing the same decreases as the aforementioned targets and touchdowns.  There were 209 tight end touchdowns in 2015 and since that season, that number hasn’t eclipsed 200.

As we discussed in part two of this series, the running back has been integrated more and more into the passing game over the last few years.  Receiving touchdowns from the running back have increased from 94 in 2016 to 108 and 120 in 2017 and 2018, respectively.  Circa back to 2016 when total running back and tight end receptions were nearly identical with 2,516 of them at running back and 2,484 at tight end.  Since that season, running back receptions are up an average of 242 per year while tight end receptions are down an average of 169.  

This helps explain some of the reasoning why tight end fantasy production has been on the decline.  The running backs are syphoning work from their tight end teammates, especially when some of them are the best offensive asset on their respective teams and deserve additional work.  It also validates taking a top-tier tight end in fantasy drafts as early as the second round when Zach Ertz, Travis Kelce, and George Kittle all led their offenses in receptions and targets.  The drop off after those three is pretty significant and one can only hope Eric Ebron continues what was an unexpected 2018 season and O.J. Howard rebounds from his season-ending foot and ankle injuries.

This first tight end trend should come as no surprise after reading the intro to this article.  While you were able to find bargains that did pay off, there was safety in paying up for the top options that delivered more than they disappointed.  

12 OF THE 22 PERFECT TIGHT ENDS REPRESENTED THE TOP FIVE IN SCORING AT THE POSITION IN 2018 IN FULL POINT PPR FORMATS

The struggle at this frustrating position could also be felt in the DFS community.  For the first half of 2018, rostering Zach Ertz or Travis Kelce yielded excellent returns as they represented the perfect tight end in five of the eight weeks when both were available on the main slate.  These two continued to dominate in the second half but an injury to Jack Doyle opened the door for the usually unreliable Eric Ebron to post his best season at the NFL level which generated two spots on the list.  Kittle had a December to remember as the top tight end in the final month and one that helped make money for those that rostered him in Weeks 14 and 17.

Ertz, Kelce, Kittle, and Ebron combined to make up half of the perfect tight ends with soon-to-be free agent Jared Cook sneaking into the list in Week 4 to complete the 12 occurrences from the top 5 at the position in 2018.  Pending the Week 1 schedule, the former three should represent the priciest options on the first main slate of 2019.

15 OF THE 22 TIGHT ENDS WERE PRICED UNDER $6000

Even the better tight end options had some pricing errors that made them so enticing, they couldn’t be passed up.  Travis Kelce was inexplicably priced under $6000 in Week 2 as he went off for 32.9 DK points.  Eric Ebron wasn’t correctly priced until week 13 as the DFS community took advantage of this low cost with Jack Doyle lost for the year.  George Kittle was slightly discounted at $5500 when he destroyed the Broncos to the tune of 210 yards and a touchdown.

As maddening as the position could be, 15 of the 17 weeks in 2018 featured at least one tight end not named Ertz or Kelce that scored 20+ fantasy points; Weeks 8 and 15 had no one eclipse that mark.  Like the wide receiver, this shows there were some perfect options that didn’t require breaking the bank in order to get to the coveted bell cow backs.  Austin Hooper took advantage of a Buccaneers defense that was extremely inept against the position prior to defensive coordinator Mike Smith being fired at the low cost of $3500.  Kyle Rudolph had dominated at Ford Field to the tune of 17.56 FPPG in his last three at that venue prior to the 2018 matchup that saw him continue that trend with a 36.2 DK point performance.  $3400 was the cost to roster his best performance of the year.

THE AVERAGE NUMBER OF RECEPTIONS PER GAME FOR THE TIGHT ENDS WAS 7.73 

This figure is nearly identical to the average number of catches for the perfect receivers.  The ceiling was 16 catches by Zach Ertz who slaughtered the Texans while Eric Ebron needed three touchdowns off as few as four touches to cement his spot in perfection.  There’s no secret here, paying up means obtaining a solid floor of volume while rolling the dice on a cheaper option can pay off but is certainly a riskier proposition; ask those that rostered Matt LaCosse and Anthony Firkser who both posted goose eggs in favorable matchups in Week 13 and 15 respectively. 

HOUSTON, CLEVELAND, OAKLAND, DENVER, AND MIAMI EACH ALLOWED TWO TIGHT ENDS IN THE PERFECT LINEUP

All five of these teams have been repeat offenders in the top 10 in FPA to tight ends since 2017.  Cleveland’s spot on this list should come as no surprise as they’ve been inside the top 10 in FPA in each of the last three years.  The Browns looked to have remedied their issues in the first eight games but allowed 17.81 FPPG in the second half to the position.  Pending where Jared Cook lands in the offseason and Gronk’s decision to continue to suit up or retire, the Browns tight end schedule eases up in 2019 as they would only face two tight ends inside the top 10 in FPPG in 2018 in George Kittle and Vance McDonald.  

Oakland and Denver fall victim to facing Travis Kelce twice a year which explains part of their heartache.  Still, the Broncos allowed a tight end playing his first game in the NFL in Will Dissly and an aged Antonio Gates to have their best performances of the season while the Raiders let a cornucopia of Ravens and Colts tight ends destroy them.  The Dolphins will benefit from a retired Gronk if that indeed happens but still deal with Zach Ertz and an Indianapolis offense that almost doubled up every team in touchdowns thrown to the position last season.  The Texans have dates with that same Colts offense and Travis Kelce who the Texans have failed to contain in three of four career matchups.

CONCLUSION

When August comes around and you get to the second round of redraft leagues, you will be faced with the decision of taking one of the big three tight ends or playing the crapshoot at the position.  That’s the same scenario DFS players will face weekly in 2019.   

Playing the defensive matchups can work to your advantage as the last trend indicates where paying down is viable.  However, that’s the headache in what can be an unreliable position.  Will you pay up for the consistent Travis Kelce or Zach Ertz, or let it ride on a cheaper option in a favorable matchup?  Hopefully our struggle is alleviated with the emergence of more reliable tight end options as the 2019 season unfolds.

DFS in Review: Perfect DraftKings Lineup Wide Reciever Trends

Part 3 of the series reviews a wide receiver position that rebounded from a real life and fantasy perspective from 2017.  As a whole, wide receiver receptions, yards, and touchdowns saw sizable increases in 2018.  Also notable, wide receiver rushing attempts and rushing yards had substantial bumps from the prior year.

As you will discover from this piece, the position can be a roller coaster to evaluate each week.  44 different receivers made the perfect lineup out of a possible 55 occurrences.  Compared to the running back and tight end positions that saw 62% and 64% of its respective slots represented by different players, 80% for wide receivers shouldn’t be too surprising.  Especially when you consider there are at least two reliable receivers on most teams vs a single bell cow back or tight end that is heavily relied upon.

Some of these receiver trends aren’t as concrete as those that were presented in the previous two articles of the series regarding the quarterback and running back positions.  The wide receiver position displays more variables that show the fickle nature of the position.  At times, these variables can make it feel rather unpredictable as the trend below and others discussed in this article will illustrate.

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THE PERFECT WIDE RECEIVERS COMBINED FOR A RECORD OF 29-24-2

Tyreek Hill was the WR1 in Week 10 in a win that he did nearly all of his damage when the game was still within reach for the Cardinals.  In opposite fashion, Taylor Gabriel caught two touchdown passes in what already a rout against the Buccaneers.  Remaining cognizant to how coaches and coordinators approach and utilize their passing games in positive gamescript can be critical when a game gets out of hand.  Some may like to keep the foot on the gas while others may be content running the ball and draining clock. 

Negative gamescript can move one from six DK points and WR63 for the week and boost him all the way up to 23 DK points and WR8 on a deep throw in hopes of a late rally.  Of the 50 perfect receivers that did score a touchdown in their respective games, 30 of them did so when their team was trailing.  This isn’t breaking news but sometimes, a reminder of the obvious can be a cure for the overthinking that is possible on a week-to-week basis.  In this case, rostering receivers that are expected to be in a close game or playing from behind.

Defenses that possess a strong competency in stopping the run may be more targeted via the wide receiver.  Take the Saints as they surrendered the fourth fewest FPA to running backs but hemorrhaged the most fantasy points per game to opposing receivers.  These stout rushing defenses can funnel additional passing attempts and create more opportunity for damage through the air, especially when the secondary is a porous one.  The Saints allowed four perfect receivers with their inability to contain the position.

As evidenced, a lot goes into deciding which receiver to choose.  Where the perfect running backs show a positive correlation towards winning their respective games, it’s nearly a 50/50 proposition with their wide receiving counterparts.  Of course, none of this matters if there isn’t opportunity to make a difference on the field.

THE AVERAGE NUMBER OF RECEPTIONS PER GAME FOR THE WIDE RECEIVERS WAS 7.96 

Targets are fantasy gold that create opportunities for wide receivers to produce.  Without them, that receiver serves no purpose in lineups, especially when running backs are seeing increased touches and roles in the offense.  With the limited amount of opportunities they have each week, it is critical for receivers to capitalize on those balls thrown to them.  

For those that achieved perfection, the average number of receptions per game was 7.96 off 10.23 targets.  Michael Thomas saw a perfect lineup ceiling of 16 receptions in Week 1 while Tyrell Williams needed as few as three of them to do his damage.  Of course, Tyrell needed more than three receptions for 118 yards to get on that list by scoring two touchdowns on the day.  It’s no surprise that 50 of the 55 wide receivers on the list posted at least one touchdown. 

35 OF THE 55 WIDE RECEIVERS WERE PRICED AT $6000 OR LOWER

Considering 21 of the 34 perfect running backs, not including flex options, we’re priced over $7000, inexpensive wide receivers needed to be rostered and were available each week.  In fact, at least one perfect wide receiver was priced as low as $5000 in all but one main slate in 2018; Week 2 was the only week that featured all receivers over $6000.  

Needless to say, a wide receiver under $6000 won’t land a team’s #1 option in most cases.  However, a team’s second or third made the perfect lineup in 15 of 17 weeks as 44 different receivers made the list.  Targeting susceptible cornerbacks comes into play in identifying those cheap receivers that have favorable matchups.  P.J. Williams, M.J. Stewart, and Jalen Mills were just some of the corners that were weekly targets in the 2018 DFS landscape.  One secondary fell victim to more perfect receivers than the other 31 teams and resides in a division with strong quarterbacks and receiving corps.

CAROLINA ALLOWED SEVEN PERFECT WIDE RECEIVERS

In one corner sits Matt Ryan with his lethal perimeter receivers in Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley.  In another contains the surgical duo of Drew Brees and Michael Thomas.  Don’t forget about Jameis Winston and his trio of talented receivers in Mike Evans, Adam Humphries, and Chris Godwin; it remains to be seen if DeSean Jackson returns in 2019.  That’s a tall order of firepower for any secondary to endure in 6 of 16 games.  

The damage inflicted upon a Panther secondary that was in the top 5 in FPA to perimeter receivers wasn’t just limited to divisional foes.  Kenny Golladay got the best of them at one point as well as a pair of Seattle receivers in David Moore and Tyler Lockett that both posted 100+ receiving yard games en route to the perfect lineup.  Odell Beckham Jr. threw a touchdown pass on top of the carnage he created opposite James Bradberry and Donte Jackson.

Carolina’s 2019 schedule outside of divisional play features some tough perimeter receiver matchups to include Davante Adams, T.Y. Hilton, DeAndre Hopkins, the Rams duo of Brandin Cooks and Robert Woods, and the aforementioned Tyler Lockett.  For what has been an Achilles heel for this defense the last two years, the Panthers need Jackson to continue to develop as he enters his second year in the league and Bradberry to shut down opposing receivers not just named Mike Evans.

CONCLUSION

DeAndre Hopkins and Antonio Brown were the only two receivers to eclipse 300 fantasy points in PPR scoring in 2017, the fewest receivers to hit that benchmark since 2012 when Calvin Johnson and Brandon Marshall were the only two to do so.  In 2018, five other receivers joined Brown and Hopkins in this club, reiterating the aerial revolution that is sweeping the NFL.

As long as this pass-first mentality continues, the state of the wide receiver shouldn’t bottom out as it did in 2017 and maintain its current upward trend.  Even with the running backs more involved in the passing game, the current household names at the receiver along with the ascension of some younger stars projects a bright outlook for the position for the next few years.

WEEK 16 DRAFTKINGS/FANDUEL SELECTIONS

QUARTERBACK

Baker Mayfield: vs CIN (DK 6100; FD 7700)

Winning.  Direction.  Hope.  These are all words that haven’t been associated with the Cleveland Browns organization in years while the Cincinnati Bengals are heading in the opposite direction of their interstate rivals.  No team allows more fantasy points to quarterbacks than the Bengals and one that Baker Mayfield enjoyed success against in week 12, throwing for four touchdowns.  Cincinnati gave soon-to-be fired Marvin Lewis one last hurrah in front of the home crowd and now winds down the season on the road and may lack motivation in the final two weeks.  Look for Baker to pierce through a porous, uninspired defense in Cleveland’s home finale to begin putting the finishing touches on its most successful season since 2014.

Dak Prescott: vs TB (DK 5700; FD 7300)

Dak Prescott has been lights out in home games since Cooper became a Cowboy, possessing a +7.89 DK point differential at AT&T Stadium and squares off against a Buccaneers defense that surrenders 37 points per road game.  The DFS community may overlook Dak after his dismal week 15 showing which would be foolish considering Dak has eight touchdown passes at home compared to just one on the road since the trade while the Bucs have allowed multiple touchdown passes in all but one road game.  His ability to scramble goes unnoticed at times but one he can utilize as needed as he’s found paydirt five times with his legs.

Nick Foles: vs HOU (DK 4700; FD 6000)

Rostering Nick Foles is like flipping a coin; will he be the quarterback that scorched the Vikings and Patriots en route to a Super Bowl title or will he be the version that struggled immensely against the Raiders on Christmas night and the Falcons in the divisional round?  He will be forced to throw as the Texans defense allows just 66.35 rushing yards per game but has surrendered the 8th most FPA to tight ends this season and the most FPA to perimeter receivers over the last four weeks.  There’s value to be found at other positions this week where you don’t need to necessarily pay down at quarterback.  If your roster construction involves jamming in two expensive backs or inserting as many high-priced options as possible, Foles allows for that strategy in a game where Philadelphia’s success on offense will be predicated on the MVP of Super Bowl 52.

RUNNING BACK

 

Ezekiel Elliott: vs TB (DK 9000; FD 8800)

The last time he didn’t touch the ball at least 25 times was back in week 9 and both DraftKings and FanDuel neglected to raise his salary heading into this juicy matchup.  Ezekiel Elliott has reached 100 scrimmage yards in every game since week 7 and it’s all but a guarantee he will shred a Buccaneers defense en route to another 100 as the last feature back that didn’t reach that mark against Tampa Bay was Nick Chubb back in week 7.  Zeke’s weekly reliability comes at a hefty cost but it’s a cost worth paying up for as he’s returned value in five of the last seven games.

Nick Chubb: vs CIN (DK 7300; FD 7900)

The Bengals have appeared competent against opposing running backs the last two weeks.  Against Nick Chubb, they will revert back to the turnstiles that allowed 100+ rushing yards in seven of the prior eight games.  Running backs against the Bengals have found the end zone with as much ease as Chubb has in the last month, averaging a touchdown per game in his last four.  As 8.5-point favorites (yes, the Browns are favored by more than a touchdown), look for Chubb to have plenty of opportunities to shred this Bengals defense that has been victim to the position throughout 2018.

Marlon Mack: vs NYG (DK 5500; FD 7000)

From a motivational standpoint, the Giants head into Indianapolis with nothing to play for while the Colts need a win to set up a possible showdown with the Titans for the final AFC Wild Card.  Enemy running backs have run for over 100+ rushing yards in six of the last seven against the G-Men and this is a game where Marlon Mack can once again take over as he did against the Cowboys the week before.  The loss of Damon Harrison to the Lions has really taken its toll on a Giants rushing defense that has struggled since the trade and in a game where the Colts are 9-point favorite, Mack will have plenty of touches to manufacture another solid performance.

Jamaal Williams: at NYJ (DK 5400; FD 5800)

At the time of this writing, Jamaal Williams and the recently signed Kapri Bibbs are the only two running backs on the active roster with Williams being the only one familiar with the playbook.  Essentially, you’re getting a running set to play a minimum of 80% of the snaps on a Packers team that is clearly trying to win this game as Aaron Rodgers is expected to suit up in the Meadowlands.  In an offense that is expected to perform much better now that Green Bay doesn’t have to battle with a vaunted Bears defense, this is essentially a free square in a game that the Packers should win for their first road victory of the season.  Williams totaled 97 scrimmage yards and a touchdown on 16 touches in that game at Soldier Field and should see between 18-20 touches this week at a bargain on both sites.

WIDE RECEIVER

DeAndre Hopkins: at PHI (DK 8600; FD 8900)

14.05 yards per reception, the highest target share on the team, the most red zone targets, and a floor of 12 DK points this season; DeAndre Hopkins meets all of the desirable criteria you’d want against an Eagles secondary that is decimated by injuries and can be exploited on the perimeter.  He’s excelled in road games as 7 of his 11 touchdowns and four of his five 100 receiving yard performances have been in hostile territory and it bodes well for Hopkins to continue his road dominance at Lincoln Financial Field.  He’s the second and most expensive option on DraftKings and FanDuel respectively and has a great chance to go off again as he did against the Jets last week.

Amari Cooper: vs TB (DK 7500; FD 7000)

Regression was all but inevitable for Amari Cooper after he destroyed the Eagles in epic fashion.  Like Dak, a good majority of the DFS community will remain sour on Cooper after a disappointing showing in Indianapolis and that’s a scenario to consider rostering him against a Tampa Bay defense that has been killed by wide receivers outside of Raymond James Stadium.  Cooper boasts a +2.17 target differential in games at AT&T Stadium since the trade from Oakland and should feast on a Bucs defense that surrenders a +8.34 FPPG differential in PPR scoring to wide receivers in road games.

Alshon Jeffery: vs HOU (DK 5300; FD 6300)

It lacks logic as to why it may be the case but Alshon Jeffery benefits by having Nick Foles as the starter instead of Carson Wentz.  In 24 games with Wentz under center, Alshon has just one game over 100 receiving yards vs one game over 100 yards in seven Foles starts.  Also, he has a +2.12 FPPG differential in PPR scoring with Foles as the starter, not including the throwaway game in week 17 last year.  These two figures along with a salary that was never adjusted after an excellent performance on Sunday Night Football put him on the DFS radar against a Houston secondary that surrenders the 7th most FPA to perimeter receivers, including the most in the last four weeks.  Given Houston’s proficiency at stopping the run, Foles may be forced to throw more than the 31 passes he tossed against the Rams and Alshon should be the beneficiary of additional targets in a game the Eagles need to win to stay in wild card contention.

Robby Anderson: vs GB (DK 4500; FD 5900)

He leads the team in targets since Sam Darnold returned to action in week 14 and with Quincy Enunwa missing another game against the Packers this weekend, look for Robby Anderson to once again be an integral part of the offense in a favorable matchup.  Anderson will duel with Josh Jackson and Javier Alexander, cornerbacks that are part of a Green Bay secondary that has been hurt by perimeter receivers over the last two months, giving up the 3rd most FPA to receivers on the outside.  It looks like he has recovered from the high-ankle sprain that bothered him earlier in the year and he has another good opportunity to close out 2018 on a good note.

TIGHT END

Eric Ebron: vs NYG (DK 5700; FD 6100)

In two games against Zach Ertz and one game against George Kittle, the Giants surrendered 23 catches for 217 yards and two touchdowns, an average of 15.06 FD/18.9 DK points per game.  The Giants are not as horrid as they were to the position last year but have been burned by the top-tier of tight ends in 2018 and Eric Ebron is in that tier, especially when Andrew Luck throws to the tight end at the fourth-highest rate in the league.  Lower ownership will come into play after a one catch, eight yard performance against the Cowboys and given he hasn’t posted back-to-back single-digit DK point games all season, it correlates well for Ebron to rebound from last week’s clunker.  

Evan Engram: at IND (DK 4600; FD 5700)

On the other side of the ball, Evan Engram has benefitted from Odell Beckham’s absence as he’s seen a +3.79 target differential and +39.29 receiving yard differential in those two games.  Indianapolis has allowed just the 9th most FPA to tight ends largely in part because the defense keeps them out of the end zone.  However, the Colts have allowed the 2nd most receptions and most receiving yards to the position and if ODB misses his third straight game, fire up Engram with confidence as the Giants should be playing from behind as 9-point underdogs.

David Njoku: vs CIN (DK 3800; FD 5300)

Paying up for tight end didn’t prove effective in week 15 on the main slate as neither Kittle, Ebron, Gronk, nor Cook eclipsed double-digit fantasy points.  David Njoku is a nice pivot in a good matchup for those unwilling to pay up again at the tight end position.  He’s seeing a floor of four targets in five of the last six games and faces a Bengals team that has given up eight touchdowns to the position.  He crossed the pylons against them in week 12 and if he’s able to do so again this week, Njoku will certainly be on his way to easily returning value.

DEFENSE

Los Angeles Rams: at ARI (DK 3200; FD 4900)

The Cardinals allowed seven sacks, three turnovers, and a defensive score to the Falcons last week and now get to deal with Aaron Donald on Sunday.  The offense has been held to under 20 points in 11 of 14 games and after this date with the Rams, it will become 12 of 15.

Miami: vs JAX (DK 2700; FD 4400)

Take away the Dede Westbrook punt return for a touchdown and the Jaguars have averaged eight points with Cody Kessler as the starter.  Not to mention allowing five sacks and 1.5 turnovers per game in that two-game span.

New Orleans: vs PIT (DK 2300; FD 3500)

Contrary to popular belief, the Steelers have been sluggish offensively, scoring 21 or less in four of the last five games with Big Ben throwing 1.5 interceptions in his last four games.  Meanwhile, the Saints have forced multiple turnovers and kept opponents under 17 points in five of their last six games.

PRICE SHOPPING

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 16 bargains from both sites:

NOTABLE DRAFTKINGS BARGAINS

QB Matt Ryan: 1.96

WR Chris Hogan: 2.23

TE Dallas Goedert: 3.3

TE Kyle Rudolph: 2.36

DEF Jacksonville: 2.6

NOTABLE FANDUEL BARGAINS

RB Ezekiel Elliott: 3.34

RB Jaylen Samuels: 2.24

WR Amari Cooper: 3.34

WEEK 15 DRAFTKINGS/FANDUEL SELECTIONS


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QUARTERBACK 

Mitchell Trubisky: vs GB (DK 6000; FD 7900)

Glance over the game logs of the Packers and it becomes apparent that they’ve faced weak competition at the quarterback position this season, especially at home.  When removed from the friendly confines of Lambeau Field, they’ve allowed multiple touchdown passes in five of six road games and face a quarterback who has put together three 30+ DK point performances at Soldier Field. 

Not many will start Mitchell Trubisky after posting a dud against the Rams last week but that’s the type of low-rostered individual that can win a GPP if he goes off.  The Packers are in the top 10 in FPA to both receivers lined up on the perimeter and in the slot and with the quality of weapons that he has in his arsenal, expect Trubisky to rebound from his dismal performance on Sunday night.

Tom Brady: at PIT (DK 5900; FD 7900)

The bye week has rejuvenated not just the future first-ballot Hall Of Famer but the New England offense as a whole as prior to the bye, Tom Brady had three 300+ passing yard games along with throwing 1.7 touchdowns and causing .9 turnovers per game in the first 10 weeks.  Since then, he’s thrown for two 300+ yard passing games, six touchdowns, and turned the ball over just once in the last three and duels with a Steelers defense that is stingy against running backs but can be penetrated through the air.  He’s discounted on both sites in a game that has the highest total on the main slate and given Pittsburgh’s effectiveness against running backs on the ground, look for Brady to sling the ball early and often in what could be a high-scoring affair at Heinz Field.

Josh Allen: vs DET (DK 5800; FD 7600)

As long as he continues to use his legs to return value, Josh Allen will be an asset for DFS purposes.  This play doesn’t come without risk as he’s completed just over 50% percent of his throws and turned over the ball five times in three games since returning from injury.  If he can put it all together against a middle of the pack Detroit defense, he is a bargain at his affordable salary.  An Allen, Buffalo defensive stack is in play here as the Lions offense has been anemic with Marvin Jones and Kerryon Johnson absent from action, scoring no more than 17 points in the last three weeks while turning the ball over five times.  

RUNNING BACK

Saquon Barkley: vs TEN (DK 9400; FD 9400)

He’s proving that he is indeed a generational talent as he hasn’t hit the wall that rookies encounter at this point in the season and is comfortably on pace to reach 2,000 scrimmage yards in his first year at the pro level.  Although the Tennessee defense has surrendered the 2nd fewest FPA to running backs and has improved tremendously from prior year against those out of the backfield, I’ll take my chances on Saquon Barkley who has posted 20+ DK point performances in all but one game. 

The Titans bolstered a respectable defense against running backs last year that Todd Gurley destroyed in week 16 to the tune of 44.6 FD/55.6 DK points and Barkley already possesses the ability and skillset to mimic that performance, even with the maddeningly inconsistent Eli Manning under center.  He’s worth paying up for as he’s all but a lock to touch the ball 20+ times and with Gurley, McCaffery, and Kamara all unavailable on the main slate, he’s worth the roster spot while the rest of the field ponders the tough matchup on paper and gets cute.

Ezekiel Elliott: at IND (DK 9000; FD 8800)

He’s touching the ball a ridiculous 32.5 times per contest in the last four and posting 24.42 FD/31.02 DK points in that span.  The coaching staff has succeeded in getting Ezekiel Elliott more involved out of the backfield and this is before he caught 12 balls in week 14 and now he faces a Colts defense that gives up the second-most receptions to pass catching backs, something to keep in mind in DraftKings scoring.  Jamming in Barkley and Elliott is in play with the lack of reliable running back options this week and with a +10.4 DK point differential since the arrival of Amari Cooper, look for Zeke to continue his second-half dominance.

Leonard Fournette: vs WAS (DK 7500; FD 8200)

Prior to the blowout loss against the Titans and the game he was ejected in Buffalo, Leonard Fournette was touching the ball 29.5 times and he should see that volume again in a game that the Jaguars should easily win with Josh Johnson suiting up as the starter. 

The Washington defense has been hemorrhaging yards on the ground as opposing backs are accumulating 154.25 rushing yards per game in the last four weeks and with Cody Kessler under center, expect another run-heavy gameplan against a team that simply can’t stop the run.  He’s a nice pivot in a great spot from the aforementioned expensive backs and will save at least $1000 in salary on both sites.

David Johnson: at ATL (DK 7100; FD 7400)

The Arizona offensive line is in shambles as three rookies are now thrust into starting action last week and it showed as David Johnson was only able to muster a meager 3.26 yards per carry on 15 attempts.  However, Byron Leftwich is trying everything he can to get his best offensive weapon involved as evidenced by his 25 touches per game in the last five weeks and eight receptions out of the backfield against the Lions. 

Even with a makeshift line, DJ is capable of more than the eight catches for 12 yards he generated in week 14, especially against a Falcons team that allows the most receptions to running backs and has been bitten by this weakness for the better part of two years.  He’s more of a GPP play as the Arizona offense has been a question mark all season but if there was a spot for DJ to erupt, this is the one.

WIDE RECEIVER

JuJu Smith-Schuster: vs NE (DK 8000; FD 7800)

The New England defense is in the bottom half in FPA to wide receivers but can be attacked via the slot receiver as defending the slot has been a challenge for the Patriots.  Enter JuJu Smith-Schuster who is leading the team in receptions and receiving yards and is cheaper than Antonio Brown on both sites. 

Recent slot receivers to face the Patriots like Jermaine Kearse and Adam Thielen have seen double-digit targets and a touchdown in two of the last three weeks while JuJu has seen double-digit targets in three of his last four games and crossed the pylons three times in that timeframe.  Getting exposure to the game with the highest total on the main slate is always a viable strategy, more so when this game is the only one that boasts a total over 50 and inserting JuJu is a great way to do just that.

Julian Edelman: at PIT (DK 7200; FD 7200)

Like their opponent, the Steelers have also been victim to the slot receiver, allowing the 2nd most FPA to those lined up in the slot.  Julian Edelman is seeing nine targets per game and it’s a safe assumption he’ll see at least that amount of volume with Tom Brady forced to throw more against a solid Steelers defense against running backs on the ground and Josh Gordon seeing shadow coverage from Joe Haden.  He’s already exceeded his 2016 touchdown total in nine games played this season and expect Brady to look for Edelman in the red zone as he’s seen the most red zone targets since he has returned from suspension.

Tyler Boyd: vs OAK (DK 5700; FD 6700)

His ceiling definitely drops with Jeff Driskel at the helm but this is about opportunity meeting a reasonable price point.  Fellow slot receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster was last seen torching the Raiders and Tyler Boyd is capable of putting together a performance that at least returns value and possibly exceeds it if this game between two terrible defenses generates points on the scoreboard.  As this is the final home game of 2018 and possibly the final time Marvin Lewis coaches at Paul Brown Stadium, expect the Bengals to come out with extra motivation for their head coach and Tyler Boyd to be an integral part of that effort.

Adam Humphries: at BAL (DK 5100; FD 6200)

The Ravens don’t bolster many weaknesses on defense but the two positions that have given them fits are the tight end and the slot receiver.  Baltimore has been lights out against perimeter receivers which should funnel targets in the direction of Adam Humphries who has posted a double-digit fantasy point floor in five of the last seven games.  He’s tied for the team lead with 12 red zone targets, four which he has converted into touchdowns.  Given that Jameis Winston will be expected to throw the ball a ton as the Bucs are 7.5-point underdogs against a tenacious Baltimore defense against running backs, Humphries will be relied upon to move the ball in a tough matchup.

TIGHT END

Eric Ebron: vs DAL (DK 5900; FD 6500)

You could argue he’s still too cheap for the output he’s generated since Jack Doyle went on IR and as long as he remains underpriced, Eric Ebron will be an option worth consideration.  He draws a Cowboys defense that Zach Ertz has carved up twice and the way the Indianapolis offense utilizes the tight end, Ebron should find similar success in a game that could see the teams exchanges blows throughout the afternoon.  He’s as reliable of an option at the position in what has been anything but predictable this year; start him with confidence.

 Rob Gronkowski: at PIT (DK 5800; FD 6900)

His ownership levels are naturally going to skyrocket due to posting his best fantasy performance of the season as well as Kelce and Ertz being off the main slate this week.  However, Rob Gronkowski’s next two opponents are ones that he has crushed throughout his career and it begins with a visit to Heinz Field against a Steelers team that he’s found paydirt eight times in six regular-season meetings while averaging 110.66 receiving yards in those contests.  Tight ends have had their way with Pittsburgh throughout 2018 and an underpriced Gronk on both sites should continue this trend and his dominance of the Steelers.

Anthony Firkser: at NYG (DK 2900; FD 5100)

Even before Jonnu Smith was put on IR, Anthony Firkser has had a solid floor of three catches in the last four weeks.  The only competition he now has for targets at the position are Luke Stocker and MyCole Pruitt, both who have had no more than two receptions in any game in 2018.  Firkser enables the rostering of two or three of the higher-priced options on a main slate where value hasn’t opened up at any of the positions at the time of this writing.  If paying up for Gronk, Ebron, or Cook isn’t an option, Firkser is a punt with upside as he’s shown reliability by catching all 16 passes thrown his way this season.

DEFENSE 

Jacksonville: vs WAS (DK 3400; FD 4800)

Expect a more valiant effort from a Jacksonville defense in front of its fans for the final time in 2018.  With Josh Johnson assuming the starting role for the Redskins, the Jaguars should feast on this backup that saw his first NFL action last week since 2013.

Baltimore: vs TB (DK 3000; FD 5000)

No team has given away the ball more than Tampa Bay’s 31 offensive turnovers through 13 games.  Although the Ravens have forced less than a turnover per game, the chances of multiple Buccaneer turnovers in this game is likely as they’ve turned the ball over multiple times in 9 of 13 games this year.

Chicago: vs GB (DK 2900; FD 3700)

Byron Bell, Bryan Bulaga, and Lane Taylor were all inactive last week en route to Aaron Rodgers being sacked four times against the Falcons.  Taylor could be the only one of the three to suit up for the Packers offensive line which means only good things for a tenacious Chicago defense.  

PRICE SHOPPING

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 15 bargains from both sites:

NOTABLE DRAFTKINGS BARGAINS

QB Aaron Rodgers: 2.1

QB Matt Ryan: 1.8

TE Anthony Firkser: 2.7

DEF Baltimore: 2.33

NOTABLE FANDUEL BARGAINS

RB Ezekiel Elliott: 3.34

RB Saquon Barkley: 3.14

WR Adam Thielen: 3.54

WR Odell Beckham Jr: 2.87




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WEEK 13 DRAFTKINGS/FANDUEL SELECTIONS


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QUARTERBACK

Cam Newton: at TB (DK 6600; FD 8700)

It’s hard to go wrong with the QB1 in fantasy football through 12 weeks in Patrick Mahomes or the 2015 MVP in Cam Newton.  Cam provides salary relief on both sites and at least the Buccaneers can score and keep the game close compared to what should be a one-sided affair in the Chiefs, Raiders matchup.  Don’t let Nick Mullen’s lackluster performance fool you into thinking Tampa Bay can play any semblance of defense because that defensive unit is awful.  The formula remains unchanged and Cam Newton will prove yet again that targeting the Buccaneers against fantasy quarterbacks is still a viable strategy.

Jameis Winston: vs CAR (DK 6000; FD 7500)

He’s thrown for over 300 yards in three of the four games he has started and meets a divisional foe that has given up nine games of multiple passing touchdowns.  Jameis Winston has the weapons on the outside in Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson, and Chris Godwin against a Panthers secondary that is exploitable on the perimeter and is part of a pass-heavy offense that should give the Panthers a run for their money in this potential shootout.  The risk in 2018 has been the rotation at quarterback at a moment’s notice but at this point, Tampa Bay’s front office needs to determine if he will be in their future plans that Winston being benched shouldn’t occur anymore.  He and the quarterback to be described below are two of the better mid-tier priced quarterback options on the main slate this week.

Lamar Jackson: at ATL (DK 5900; FD 7500)

He was still able to return value on both sites despite the Ravens defense keeping the offense off the field by forcing both a fumble and punt return for a touchdown against the Raiders.  Lamar Jackson has averaged an astounding 12.5 fantasy points with just his running ability in his first two NFL starts and now gets a Falcons defense that allows the second-most passing touchdowns and the second-most rushing touchdowns to quarterbacks.  Rostering the quarterback from Louisville comes with risk in the case that he doesn’t manufacture a touchdown which occurred in his first start against the Bengals.  Nonetheless, Jackson’s dynamic ability to scramble out of the pocket, as evidenced by his 39 yard run in the 4th quarter this past Sunday, makes him worth consideration for rostering at his reasonable salary for a third straight week.

RUNNING BACK

Christian McCaffery: at TB (DK 8800; FD 8800)

One of the deterrents in rostering Christian McCaffery this week will be the soaring ownership levels after an incredible 41.2 FD/52.7 DK performance in a loss against the Seahawks.  However, not rostering him can prove detrimental against this Buccaneers team that has allowed 641 scrimmage yards and six touchdowns to the position over the last four weeks.  McCaffery has handled 92.6% of the running back touches in this same timeframe including all of them in week 12.  Simply put, the Buccaneers defense has no ability to slow him down and paying up for CMC gets you the running back that posted three touchdowns against them four weeks ago.

Kareem Hunt: at OAK (DK 7800; FD 8900)

The last time Oakland gave up less than 100 rushing yards to the running back position was way back in week 6 against the Chargers.  If Gus Edwards can log 100 yards on the ground, Kareem Hunt shouldn’t find this task too challenging in a much more efficient Kansas City offense.   Back to his days with Philadelphia, teams led by Andy Reid have performed well following the bye week and against a terrible Raiders team that the Chiefs are favored to defeat by more than two touchdowns, there shouldn’t be any threat of an upset.  As long as that plays out, Hunt will be in line for plenty of work throughout the duration of this game.

Aaron Jones: vs ARI (DK 6700; FD 7600)

Like the Bucs and Raiders, attacking the Cardinals with running backs is in play each week, especially after Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler slaughtered them for 169 scrimmage yards and three touchdowns on the ground.  Enter Aaron Jones who has assumed the bell-cow duties for the Packers following their bye week and it correlates well for him to be a one-man wrecking crew against this Cardinals team that has allowed at least 75 rushing yards in every game this season.  He’s crossed the pylons six times since he was entrusted with the feature back duties and he has one of the highest Week 14 touchdown potentials-with the Packers favored by two touchdowns.

Phillip Lindsay: at CIN (DK 5400; FD 7000)

Andy Dalton is on season-ending IR, the Bengals were defeated by their in-state rivals for the first time in four years, and the inevitability of firing Marvin Lewis looms in the horizon.  The Bengals are a mess and it sets up well for the Broncos to head into Paul Brown Stadium and continue Cincinnati’s downward spiral.  Phillip Lindsay continues to dominate the touches over Royce Freeman and gets a Bengals defense this week that hemorrhages yardages and touchdowns on the ground.  11 carries for 60 yards has been the floor for Lindsay over the last five weeks with five rushing touchdowns in that span.  He has a solid floor that is slightly touchdown-dependent but has a great chance of crossing the pylons this week as the Bengals have allowed at least one rushing touchdown in six straight games.

WIDE RECEIVER 

Adam Thielen: at NE (DK 8000; FD 8100)

The Patriots have fared much better against receivers lined up on the perimeter as of late but are still susceptible to those lined up in the slot.  If New England determines that Stefon Diggs (if he plays) is the bigger threat and focuses on taking him out of the game, it’s going to open up more opportunities for Adam Thielen to slaughter this defense that surrenders the 5th most FPA to slot receivers.  He’s discounted on both sites this week after his 9th 100+ receiving yard game as the Vikings played on Sunday night.  Thielen is seeing 11.27 targets per game and it’s safe to expect double-digit targets again as the Vikings travel to Gillette Stadium as 5-point underdogs and may be required to play catch-up.

Kenny Golladay: vs LAR (DK 6700; FD 7300)

With Marvin Jones and Golden Tate removed from the equation, it leaves Kenny Golladay as Matthew Stafford’s best receiving option for the remainder of the season.  Since the Tate trade, Golladay has been peppered with targets, averaging 10 of them in those four games and now with Jones on IR, that number has a chance to rise.  This young receiver possesses the ability to break off a deep shot for a score against a Rams secondary that has been torched over the last month and one that is tied for last with the Raiders in allowing 12 pass plays of 40+ yards.  Vegas has Detroit as 10-point underdogs at home and it’s safe to say that the Lions could be playing from behind where Golladay will be counted on to get the Lions back in it.

Emmanuel Sanders: at CIN (DK 6300; FD 7000)

Truth be told, he could have done more damage against the Steelers if not for a few drops that he should have brought in.  Nonetheless, Emmanuel Sanders performed well against his former mates and now faces a Cincinnati defense that won’t be able to keep up with his daunting speed.  Recent receivers that have amassed the required 20+ fantasy points to hit 3x this week against this porous secondary include Tyreek Hill, Mike Evans, and Michael Thomas.  Evans ripped off a 72 yard shot for a score, something that is within the skillset of this speedy Broncos receiver who should have his way at Paul Brown Stadium.

Chris Godwin: vs CAR (DK 3900; FD 5400)

This play is certainly contingent on DeSean Jackson being unable to play on Sunday with a thumb injury.  In the final two games that Jackson missed in 2017, Chris Godwin posted 10 receptions for 209 yards and a touchdown in his absence.  Of course, Mike Evans will be the first receiving option but Godwin has shown he can be a reliable option and this weekend will battle opposite James Bradberry and Donte Jackson, cornerbacks that are responsible for Carolina allowing the 7th most FPA to receivers lined up on the perimeter.  If DeSean plays this weekend, it nullifies Godwin’s ceiling as they will eat into each other’s targets.  If he warms the bench, Godwin has the potential to do some serious damage at an inexpensive salary.

TIGHT END

David Njoku: at HOU (DK 4300; FD 5500)

He performed as he should have against a hapless Bengals defense and now faces a Houston one that also has its struggles against tight ends.  The Texans are surrendering a floor of seven catches for 71 yards and a touchdown to the position in the last three games; Jonnu Smith comes to mind as the latest to victimize that defense.  Ideally, more targets would provide more comfort as David Njoku hasn’t seen at least six in a game since week 7.  Yet, if he can continue to capitalize on the targets he does receive, catching 90.9% of since them since that game against Tampa Bay, he can prove viable in this spot at a reasonable salary on both sites.

Eric Ebron: at JAX (DK 4200; FD 5600)

Enjoy his lowest salary for the rest of the season as the week 13 salaries had already posted when Jack Doyle was placed on season-ending IR on Monday.  Eric Ebron benefits from being part of an Indianapolis offense that has thrown the most touchdown passes to tight ends and now that Doyle is out of the picture, he will assume additional snaps and volume.  He averaged 10 targets from week 3 to week 7 when Doyle was inactive vs 3.66 when he was on the field and it bodes well this week against a Jaguars team that had surrendered six touchdowns in three games to tight ends prior to their matchup against the Bills last week.

Matt LaCosse: at CIN (DK 2500; FD 4700)

He’s the bare minimum on DraftKings as Jeff Heuerman will miss the rest of the season but this is anything but a punt play.  Matt LaCosse encounters a Bengals team that gives up the 2nd most FPA to tight ends and allowed both David Njoku and Darren Fells to score touchdowns last week.  He made his presence felt right away by hauling in his first career touchdown against the Steelers when Heuerman succumbed to injury.  Returning value in this spot on DraftKings should be simple for LaCosse as all he needs is a few catches for some yardage against this Bengals defense that is in competition to be one of the worst units in the history of the league.

DEFENSE

Green Bay: vs ARI (DK 2800; FD 4400)

The Cardinals have eclipsed 20 points just twice this year, a perfect recipe for a Green Bay defense that possesses a +9.8 FPPG differential in games played at Lambeau Field.  The Packers have sacked the quarterback multiple times in every home game as well as forced multiple turnovers in three of five, something to keep in mind as Josh Rosen has thrown at least one interception in six straight games.

Denver: at CIN (DK 2700; FD 4500)

Jeff Driskel is now the starting quarterback for the Bengals and we’re not sure which A.J. Green will return Sunday now that he’s declared himself ready to play.  Both of these facts downgrade the Bengals offense against a Broncos defense that forces 1.63 turnovers and three sacks per contest.

Kansas City: at OAK (DK 2500; FD 4300)

The Chiefs have forced at least five sacks as well as multiple turnovers in three of their last four games.  They travel to the Black Hole to duel with an Oakland offense that is scoring 12.25 points per game in the last four weeks and has allowed 4.75 sacks per game in that same timeframe.

PRICE SHOPPING

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 13 bargains from both sites:

NOTABLE DRAFTKINGS BARGAINS

QB Matt Ryan: 2.96

QB Andrew Luck: 2.06

TE Matt LaCosse: 2.86

TE Ricky Seals-Jones: 2.86

DEF Kansas City: 2.16

DEF Denver: 2.1

NOTABLE FANDUEL BARGAINS

RB Christian McCaffery: 3.14

RB Todd Gurley: 2.27

RB Dalvin Cook: 2.07

WR Tyreek Hill: 4.2


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