TLDR (Too Long, Didn’t Read)
Basically, I’m pretty sure this slate comes down to the following question: “Dalvin Cook or Derrick Henry?” Because that is such an important question to answer, I’m still trying to figure out my best answer. Hopefully I’ll have something definitive for you tomorrow in the update. I’m going to leave them off the chart for now. Just know at least one of them would probably be somewhere around the top. But, here’s everyone else:
All of this is subject to change. For instance, if Gaskin is out, you would completely ignore him and bump up the other salary-saver RBs. If Tua Tagovailoa is starting, you’d take off Ryan Fitzpatrick and DeVante Parker. If Darnell Mooney and Allen Robinson are reportedly fine, Anthony Miller would drop a sizable distance. If Robinson is not fine, he’d get a bump down. I’ll have all of these notes in the update.
Also, note that this chart is sorted basically by the best value plays. So, that doesn’t mean Davante Adams is a bad play. It’s just hard to pop as a top value-play at $9,000. So, really, you should be using this chart as a means of getting value into your lineup so you can afford potential slate-busters like Adams, Henry, Cook, etc.
And as you can see, there’s really a ton of value this week. That only makes the “Dalvin Cook vs. Derrick vs. neither (James Robinson?)” argument all the more important.
And, lastly, remember lineup construction is just as important as knowing who to play. Justin Jefferson is a great play, but he just missed the cut. Are you playing Kirk Cousins? You’d probably want Jefferson in those lineups.
Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers
[DK: QB5, FD: QB3]
Rodgers has been an absolute monster this season, ranking as PFF’s highest-graded QB (93.1). He also ranks 2nd (behind only Kyler Murray) in fantasy points per dropback (0.66). He’s scored at least 22.5 fantasy points in 9 of 11 games, and ranks 4th among all slate-eligible QBs in FPG (23.9). He has what looks like a tough matchup on paper, but it’s only tough on paper. Adjusted for strength of schedule, Philadelphia is giving up the 11th-most FPG to opposing QBs (+0.8), and they may also be without top CB Darius Slay (calf) this week. Behind the 3rd-highest implied point total of the slate (28.5), Rodgers is a massive value as just the 5th-most expensive QB on the slate on DraftKings ($6,500), $700 cheaper than his average since Week 6. For good reason he’s our top QB value on both sites according to our projections.
Kirk Cousins, QB, Minnesota Vikings
[DK: QB7, FD: QB12]
Here’s what Wes Huber had to say in The Bottom Line:
“Not only has Kirk Cousins continued his dominance of man coverage schemes, he’s been one of the top five QBs in both fantasy and reality for well over the last month:
“Unfortunately for some, nowhere near enough attention is being paid to Cousins in DFS. I’ll admit that I’ll still need to see a bit more success from him when facing featured Cover 2, Cover 4, and Cover 6 defenses. But he has shown strides this season toward correcting those improper zone reads. The NFL recently recognized his work facing one of those defenses:
“What I simply cannot stress enough is that “Captain Kirk” is a MUST start whenever we see him face a team with man coverage rates around 35 percent or more. For the kids at home, 13 NFL teams fit that profile. One of those happens to be Jacksonville, who Minnesota will host at U.S. Bank Stadium. Depending on where you look, Cousins’ projected ownership can be found as low as four percent, and as high as 8.5 percent -- that latter number can actually be found at Fantasy Points, which I think is a tad higher than we’ll see.
“The Bottom Line: I’ll repeat this for everyone: during 28 games since the start of 2019 opposed by Cover 1, Cousins ranks first overall with 0.56 FPDb, first with a 112.8 passer rating, and in conjunction with a 20 percent increase in YPA. On 22 percent of dropbacks over that same time, he’s accumulated 29 percent of his yardage, and 35 percent of his total TDs. The Jaguars have played with the seventh-highest rate of Cover 1 shells this season. Coming in as 10-point home favorites, the Vikings’ passing offense does risk being shut down early if the score gets away from the Jags. However, OC Gary Kubiak passed along that Dalvin Cook is currently “beat up” and that they will need to get him “freshened up” this week. HC Mike Zimmer further stated:
“Even with Cook expected to play, we can expect to see a reduction in his touches. Alexander Mattison simply does not live on Planet Elite with Cook, very few do. Do not hesitate to fire up Cousins wherever possible!”
- Ryan Tannehill is popping as the top QB value on both sites per the DFS SuperModel. The Titans have the 2nd-highest implied point total of the slate (29.5), and though the spread is in their favor, the game should be close (-5.5). The Browns are giving up the 13th-most schedule-adjusted FPG to opposing QBs. Over the past 2 seasons, Tannehill ranks 7th in fantasy points per start (21.3) and 2nd in fantasy points per dropback. He’s a strong value and a safe play for cash.
- Ryan Fitzpatrick averages 22.5 FPG over his last 14 starts, which would rank 8th-best this year. He was boom-or-bust over this stretch, but offered a phenomenal ceiling for tournaments, hitting 25.0 or more DKFP in 57% of these games. For comparison, Patrick Mahomes is at 52% over the past two seasons. The Bengals are giving up the 7th-most schedule-adjusted FPG to opposing QBs (+1.9), though they’re pretty easy to run on as well. So, bump him way up if Myles Gaskin sits out this week.
- No one will want to play Derek Carr after he flopped last week in a pillow-soft matchup. But this week’s matchup is just as soft, against a Jets defense fielding backups at all 3 CB spots. They’ve given up 27.2 FPG to opposing QBs in their last 4 games, alongside a 114.8 passer rating. No Jacobs also means Las Vegas is likelier to lean pass-heavy. He’s a decent contrarian option.
- I still like Taysom Hill as a contrarian play (potentially stacked with Michael Thomas) for all of the reasons I liked him in the spot 2 weeks ago, when he scored 25.2 fantasy points. I talked about him more in-depth here.
- Justin Herbert too. He ranks 4th in FPG (25.4) since Week 4, and less than 0.4 off of 2nd place. The return of Austin Ekeler should only bolster Herbert’s passing expectation. The Patriots are giving up the 10th-fewest passing FPG allowed, but the 9th-most passing fantasy points allowed per pass attempt (0.496). It’s thin, but he makes sense as a contrarian play stacked with (probably) Keenan Allen.
- Mitchell Trubisky is popping as a value for us. Gross, but I get it.
- Kyler Murray? Russell Wilson? Deshaun Watson? Jared Goff? Yeah, they’re all in play. Just make sure your lineups “tell a story” as Johnny is always saying.
Austin Ekeler, RB, Los Angeles Chargers
[DK: RB7, FD: RB12]
Per the SuperModel, Ekeler ranks as the 2nd-best overall value on FanDuel ($986), and ranks as the 5th-best RB value on DraftKings ($556). On paper, the matchup is slightly better than neutral. Opposing RBs are out-scoring their per-game average by 1.0 FPG when facing New England. But the main attraction with Ekeler is volume. That, alongside price and a long history of hyper-efficiency and sustained success. Here’s what we had to say about him in the Week 13 XFP Report:
“Heading into Week 12, Ian Rapoport reported Ekeler “would not be the bell cow just yet.” And sort of like when he said James Conner would be in a committee in Week 2, or that Christian McCaffrey would be in a committee in Week 9, or that Jalen Hurts would see a major upsurge in usage in Week 12… he was wrong. Yeah, for future reference, feel free to safely ignore any of his reports that are not also backed up by Adam Schefter.
“Ekeler was a bell cow in Week 12, with Kalen Ballage out, playing on 73% of the team’s snaps (5th-most on the week), and earning 14 carries and 16 targets. Better yet, he led all players in XFP, totaling 35.3. He wasn’t very efficient on that good volume, scoring just 23.9 fantasy points, but this was about a week early as it relates to his injury timeline, and he’s long been one of the most efficient RBs in fantasy, so don’t be too concerned in that regard.”
“Through 4 healthy games, Ekeler is averaging 15.3 carries, 8.0 targets, 20.5 XFP, and 21.0 FPG. If over a full season, those numbers would rank 12th, 1st, 2nd, and 4th-best among RBs. In other words, he’s seeing even better usage than he saw through the first 4 weeks of last season during Melvin Gordon’s holdout. Over that stretch, he averaged 26.8 FPG – the only player coming anywhere near Christian McCaffrey during that span. He averaged 71% of the snaps (vs. 67% now), along with 14.0 carries and 6.3 targets per game. From Weeks 5-17, those numbers dropped to 53%, 6.3, and 6.9, respectively. And still, he rounded out that stretch ranking 5th in total fantasy points, averaging 16.8 FPG.
“Might he be a league-winner down the stretch and through the fantasy playoffs in 2020? I think the chances are high.”
Myles Gaskin, RB, Miami Dolphins
[DK: RB18, FD: RB35]
Matt Breida is out for Week 12, while DeAndre Washington and Salvon Ahmed are both doubtful. Gaskin, meanwhile, has not yet been activated despite having practiced in full for two straight weeks. But if he does come back this week, he should return to his pre-injury workload. And what a workload that was! Here’s what we said in the Week 9 XFP Report:
“Through the first 4 weeks of the season, Gaskin averaged 14.1 XFP per game, commanding a 53% XFP share of Miami’s backfield. Over the next 4 weeks (with Jordan Howard ruled a health-scratch in each game), Gaskin averaged 19.7 XFP per game with a 77% share of the team’s backfield XFP. For perspective, that’s the difference between ranking 21st-and 6th-best at the position. He wasn’t super-efficient on that good volume (-2.3) but was good enough to be ranked as a fringe RB1 each week. Unfortunately, he’ll be sidelined for the next 4 weeks with a sprained MCL.”
The news will come in late, so he’s likely to be severely underowned. If he’s active he’s a great play, severely mispriced and in a top matchup – the Dolphins are favored by 11.5-points against a Bengals defense that ranks 2nd-worst in YPC allowed (5.07).
David Montgomery, RB, Chicago Bears
[DK: RB24, FD: RB19]
David Montgomery chalk week? Gross, I know, but that looks likely to be the case in Week 13. Per the DFS SuperModel, Montgomery ranks as the top-overall value on both DraftKings ($1,284) and FanDuel ($1,207). Here’s what we had to say about him in Start/Sit:
“Montgomery is understandably tough to trust, even coming off of the best game of his career last week, but he is seeing terrific usage. Since Week 5, he’s played on 80% of the team’s snaps, averaging 14.8 carries, 5.3 targets, 18.2 XFP (3rd-most), and 15.0 FPG (13th-most). And he gets an even better matchup this week – the Lions are allowing opposing RBs (collectively) to out-score their per-game average by a league-high 9.3 FPG. They rank worst in total FPG allowed (33.0), 2nd-worst in receiving FPG allowed (13.8), and 3rd-worst in rushing FPG allowed (19.3) to opposing RBs. He’s a high-end RB2 this week.”
He's no doubt a phenomenal value in DFS, but he’s also an easy fade for large-field tournaments if he’s likely to be one of the highest-owned RBs of the slate. The reason is simple – when has a chalky Montgomery ever hit in DFS? The answer is never. Last week’s game against the Packers was just the first 25.0-point outing of his 26-game career.
Devontae Booker, RB, Las Vegas Raiders
[DK: RB24, FD: RB22]
Booker ranks 3rd of 65-qualifying RBs in YPC (5.53). He averages 17.1 FPG in the only 2 games he’s seen 8 or more carries. And now Josh Jacobs is out, after missing practice all week. In the 3 games Jacobs missed last year, backup RB DeAndre Washington averaged 18.0 carries, 6.3 targets, 111.3 yards, and 20.5 FPG. The Raiders are favored by 9.5 with the 5th-highest implied point total of the slate (27.75) up against the lowly Jets, who are giving up 9th-most schedule-adjusted FPG to opposing RBs (+2.6). As just the 24th- (DK) and 22nd-highest-priced (FD) RB of the slate, he’s a strong value this week – better than Brian Hill was last week.
James Robinson, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars
[DK: RB5, FD: RB6]
Ekeler is the SuperModel’s 2nd-favorite RB value on FanDuel, but Robinson isn’t too far behind, and he actually ranks ahead of him on DraftKings. His matchup is a little tougher, but mostly just neutral overall – Minnesota ranks 14th-worst in YPC allowed (4.37) and 14th-best in total FPG allowed (22.9) to opposing RBs. Again, like with Ekeler, the draw with Robinson is all about volume. Here’s what we said in the Week 13 XFP Report:
“Robinson went undrafted in 99% of leagues this offseason, but he’s emerged as a quiet superstar and a likely league-winner for those of you who secured him off waivers early in the season.
“Robinson played on 97% of the team’s snaps in Week 11, and he ranks 1st in Snap% since Week 7 (88%). With Chris Thompson on I.R., he’s now a full-on bell cow, and maybe the best example of a true bell cow we have this year. And, for fantasy, that goes a long way. Jacksonville is terrible, game script is consistently horrible, the offense is bad, and the offensive line is even worse. And yet, I’m confident Robinson continues to produce as a mid-range RB1. Why? Because a bell cow RB is the most valuable asset in fantasy.
“Robinson ranks 4th among all RBs in fantasy points, averaging 18.3 FPG. He ranks 7th in total XFP, averaging 15.9 XFP per game. Since Week 7, he ranks 3rd in XFP per game (18.3) and 3rd in FPG (19.5). He’s reached at least 90 yards from scrimmage in each of his 5 games over this span, and has hit that mark in 9 of 11 games this year. Start him as a top-6 fantasy RB against Minnesota this week.”
Chris Carson, RB, Seattle Seahawks
[DK: RB13, FD: RB5]
Carson was a full participant at practice on Friday, while Carlos Hyde is questionable and Travis Homer is doubtful. Carson played on only 37% of the team’s snaps and earned only 43% of the backfield XFP last week, but these injury designations hint at a return to a full workload. That comes at an opportune time. HC Pete Carroll has fully turned off the burner on the #LetRussCook movement, and the Seahawks are favored by 11.0-points against the Giants and backup QB Colt McCoy. He’s the 3rd-best RB value on DraftKings as per the DFS SuperModel (+663).
Dalvin Cook looks like an amazing play on paper. The Vikings are 10.5-point favorites, behind the highest implied point total of the slate (30.75). The Jaguars are the 4th-best matchup for any RB (+5.1). And Cook has been (easily) the most valuable player in fantasy this year, averaging an astonishing 27.0 DKFPG.
All of this being said, there’s reason to worry this week. He got banged up in last week’s game (ankle), practiced only in a limited capacity all week, and HC Mike Zimmer has said he’s “kind of beat up.” He added, “[W]e’ve got to get him freshened up this week and get him back to being himself… So, we’ll just keep going and try to be smart about how we use him." This could be nothing. Or, it could mean a diminished workload in Week 13, with Alexander Mattison mixing in quite a bit more than we’ve seen from him.
Derrick Henry is an unstoppable juggernaut, averaging 24.5 DKFPG over his last 18 games. Over this span, he’s hit 19.0 DKFP 72% of the time and 23.0 DKFP 56% of the time. Arguably, he’s at his strongest in these waning weeks as wear and tear adds up to opposing defenses, but not the human tractor Henry surely is. He gets a neutral matchup against the Browns, but with good projected game script, favored by 5.5 behind the 2nd-highest implied total of the slate (29.5).
Cook, Henry, or neither. That will likely be the defining question of this week’s slate.
- Benny Snell played on 70% of the team’s snaps in Week 12, earning 16 of 19 carries and 4 of 5 targets out of the backfield. He totaled 93 yards from scrimmage on that good volume, despite the tough matchup against the Ravens. Game script should be good, favored by 7.0 against Washington, but they’re about even with Baltimore in terms of toughness on paper. He’s a fine play.
- Jonathan Taylor is no doubt hard to trust, but he in Week 11 – 26 touches and 114 yards. He comes back after a full week of rest to play a Houston defense that ranks worst in YPC allowed (5.25) and worst in rushing FPG allowed (21.9). The spread (-3.5) and the total (27.25) both work in his favor. And Philip Rivers is pretty badly banged up, so expect Indianapolis to lean even harder on him this week. He’s a very solid play.
- Kareem Hunt is the same solid value play he was last week. He’s a bit banged up with a thigh injury, which likely impacted usage last week, but – were that not a concern – he’d be an easy bet to lead the backfield in snaps. Tennessee is giving up the 13th-most rushing FPG (14.2) but the 6th-most receiving FPG (11.4) to enemy backs. Game script also works more in Hunt’s favor, as 5.5-point dogs. He ranks 18th in salary on both sites.
- Aaron Jones is a decent contrarian answer to the “Dalvin Cook vs. Derrick Henry” debate. The matchup isn’t perfect, but game script should be strong, favored by 9.0 behind the slate’s 3rd-highest implied total (29.0). Volume hasn’t been terrific in recent weeks, but that’s now reflected by a price decrease. Per one of my go-to tape experts: “Jones hasn’t looked like his early-season self, most likely due to injury. Looks like he has lost a step of juice and isn’t breaking tackles at the same rate…up until last week where his burst was back and despite having his lowest fantasy output of the season, which was largely due to the game being out of hand early.” Really, it’s as simple as this – we’ve seen him bust the slate multiple times over the past two seasons, so don’t sleep on him if setting multiple lineups.
- Or better yet, what about Nick Chubb? Is he just now the cheaper version of Derrick Henry? He might be. He also makes sense for Henry-fade lineups, betting on game script to work against him and in Chubb’s favor.
- Frank Gore as a punt? No thanks, but I get it – 38 touches and 157 yards from scrimmage over New York’s last 2 games.
- Kenyan Drake and Latavius Murray are in play. Again, not high on my radar, but I get it.
Brandin Cooks, WR, Houston Texans
[DK: WR24, FD: WR19]
It's hard to look at Cooks’ $5,600 salary on DraftKings and not want to play him. He’s a top-12 overall value on both sites. Here’s what we said in Start/Sit:
“Since the Bill O’Brien firing in Week 5, Cooks ranks 17th in XFP per game (14.7) and 14th in FPG (16.9). With Will Fuller suspended, he should see even better volume now, but there’s a chance that whatever that amounts to (in XFP) gets offset by a reduction in efficiency (due to an increase in defensive attention). He gets a brutal matchup this week, against a Colts defense that – for the 3rd straight season – ranks top-5 in schedule-adjusted FPG allowed to opposing WR1s. Still, Deshaun Watson is rolling, and you should feel safe starting Cooks as a mid-range WR2.”
All of this being said, like with Montgomery, Cooks is no doubt a top value, but he’s also an easy fade for large-field tournaments if he’s likely to be one of the highest-owned WRs of the slate (and he is). This is a brutal matchup. And Deshaun Watson’s splits with/without Will Fuller are fairly alarming. Since 2018, he’s seen a 21% drop in passing FPG when Fuller has sat out. Of course, over the same span, Hopkins saw his FPG average jump from 19.8 to 21.9 without Cooks. But – and though Bill O’Brien may disagree – I’m not so sure Cooks is in the same ballpark talent-wise as Hopkins.
Michael Pittman, WR, Indianapolis Colts
[DK: WR34, FD: WR33]
Pittman ranks 17th among slate-eligible WRs in our projections this week, but he ranks just 34th in salary on DraftKings and 33rd on FanDuel. So, uh, yeah – I think this one’s easy. Here’s what we had to say in Start/Sit:
“Pittman – a Fantasy Points-favorite all throughout Draft season – may have finally emerged as Indianapolis’ true WR1. He flopped last week, but the volume was good, earning 9 targets, which was as much as Zach Pascal and T.Y. Hilton combined. That was the 3rd time he saw 7 or more targets over his last 4 games, averaging 6.8 and 62.8 YPG over this span. Pittman is no lock, but I’m fine starting him as a mid-range WR3 in this dream matchup. Houston was stout against WR1s, using Bradley Roby to shadow, but weak at the other 2 CB positions. When he missed time earlier in the year, WR1s Davante Adams and DJ Chark combined for 72.2 fantasy points in 2 games. Now starting Vernon Hargreaves, Phillip Gaines, and Eric Murray at CB, this is arguably now the best WR matchup in fantasy.”
Breshad Perriman & Denzel Mims, WRs, New York Jets
Both Perriman and Mims are popping as top values (on DraftKings) according to our projections. So, who should you prefer? Both have played in 4 games with Sam Darnold under center. Mims averages 6.3 targets per game and 55.5 YPG within that sample. Perriman averages 4.8 and 44.3. That might have you lean Mims, but Perriman is also on quite the hot streak. Over his last 3 games, he averages 6.3 targets, 78.0 YPG, and 17.5 FPG. Compare that to Mims’ 7.7 targets, 66.7 YPG, and 10.3 FPG. That makes Perriman look like the better option, but Mims has seen better volume and isn’t too far behind in YPG, he just hasn’t scored as many touchdowns. But both no doubt seem awfully mispriced at their lowly salaries – $3,900 for Perriman, $4,100 for Mims.
Though, all of this being said, Jamison Crowder actually has the best matchup, and, truthfully, one of the best matchups of the week. Las Vegas is one of the league’s top slot funnel matchups, which is where he runs 75% of his routes. Las Vegas is giving up the 3rd-most FPG to opposing slot WRs (18.1), but the 7th-fewest to opposing outside WRs (18.8). But he’s hard to trust, averaging just 30.3 YPG over his last 4 games.
I wish I had a better read here, but the truth is I don’t.
Chicago Bears WRs
Anthony Miller and Darnell Mooney are popping as top-3 WR values on DraftKings, while Allen Robinson ranks best overall on FanDuel. That’s according to our projections, but the SuperModel is in near-complete agreement. And the matchup is equally soft for all 3 WRs – the Lions are giving up the 9th to 11th most FPG to slot, left, and right WRs. So, again, who do you prioritize?
Since Week 8, Robinson ranks 10th (17.1), Miller ranks 22nd (13.8), and Mooney ranks 34th (12.8) in XFP per game. Miller – averaging 8.0 targets and 68.3 air yards per game over this span – is safer than Mooney and should probably have the higher median projection. But Mooney has more upside, averaging 7.0 targets and 94.5 air yards per game. Keep an eye on Mooney’s status, as he’s currently listed as questionable. Miller would be a great value if he sits out. He’s also averaging 9.5 targets and 20.3 FPG in his last 2 games against Detroit.
But right now Robinson is the only one I’m excited to play. He also gets the biggest boost with Mitchell Trubisky back under center. Trubisky has targeted Robinson on 28.8% of his throws this season, compared to Foles’ 22.2%. (Miller’s and Mooney’s splits with/without Trubisky were negligible.) Robinson averages just 7.6 targets, 71.2 air yards, 11.8 XFP, and 13.5 FPG over his last 5 games with Foles under center. However, over his last 11 games with Trubisky, he averages 10.9 targets, 118.0 air yards, 19.3 XFP, and 19.2 FPG. If over the full season, those numbers would rank 2nd-, 3rd-, 2nd-, and 5th-best. He’s rightfully the top WR value on FanDuel this week.
UPDATE: Robinson reportedly injured his knee in practice on Friday. He's now questionable for Week 13. Not ideal.
Cooper Kupp vs. Robert Woods, WR, Los Angeles Rams
Kupp and Woods are both popping as top values on both DraftKings and FanDuel. So, who do you play? This one’s tricky.
Woods has hit 80-plus receiving yards in 3 of his last 4 games. He totals 10.3 targets, 1.5 carries, 82.0 receiving yards, and 20.9 FPG over this span. Courtesy of one of my go-to tape experts: “After being an afterthought for 8 games, Woods has now earned double digit targets in back to back weeks. Woods looks like his young self, explosive with reliable hands. This volume seems to be a concerted effort, so he should vault up the fantasy rankings.”
Kupp struggled last week, as he always does against San Francisco. Per Greg Cosell’s notes, it seems clear the 49ers gave him extra attention, bringing help from LB Dre Greenlaw to plug the middle of the field. But before last week, Kupp was averaging 13.3 targets and 101.1 YPG over his last 3 games.
On paper the matchup looks equally soft for both WRs. Arizona is giving up the 4th-most FPG to opposing slot WRs and the 2nd-most FPG to opposing outside WRs. Digging deeper, Patrick Peterson is a threat to shadow Woods, like he did in their last game (Week 17, 2019). Still, Woods walked away with 20.6 fantasy points on 12 targets to Kupp’s 22.9 on 10 targets. This isn’t the Patrick Peterson of old, but it would mean Kupp has the softer matchup. And that’s also who Wes Huber greatly prefers. Kupp historically dominates Cover-1 defenses, which is what Arizona runs at one of the highest rates in the NFL. You can read his full write-up here.
Davante Adams, WR, Green Bay Packers
[DK: WR1, FD: WR1]
I think Davante Adams is a near must-play if Darius Slay sits out. If he plays, he’s easier to argue against. He’s picked up an ankle injury, and Darius Slay has been one of the league’s top shutdown CBs this year. Though, of course, he’s banged up as well, and was absolutely brutalized and embarrassed by DK Metcalf last week. To my surprise, Wes Huber argued that – even if Slay plays – he should be well-worth his exorbitant salary. You can read his full statement here.
DeVante Parker, WR, Miami Dolphins
[DK: WR16, FD: WR16]
Here’s what we said about Parker last week:
“Parker comprised 25% of Fitzpatrick’s total passing yards this year (236.0 passing YPG), but that number dropped to 19% with Tagovailoa under center (120.4 passing YPG). Essentially, we should at least be doubling his yardage expectation based on the news that Fitzpatrick is starting. But he also went nuclear last year with Fitzpatrick once Preston Williams (now on IR) went down, averaging 9.5 targets, 100.3 yards, and 19.3 FPG across 8 games. This is his first game this year with Fitzpatrick and without Williams. He’s a borderline must-play.”
What did he do? He caught 8 of 14 targets for 119 yards. This week’s matchup (likely shadow coverage from William Jackson III) isn’t as soft as last week, but it also isn’t necessarily prohibitive. The Bengals are giving up the 4th-most FPG (26.1) and the 4th-most fantasy points per target (2.18) to opposing outside WRs, but Jackson has been strong in shadow coverage this year. He’s a good-to-great play on FanDuel this week, but only if Fitzpatrick starts.
Justin Jefferson / Adam Thielen, WR, Minnesota Vikings
Here’s what Wes Huber had to say in Advanced Matchups:
“As alluded to above, these are the two WR plays I’m most excited about for Week 13. That shouldn’t come as a surprise at all after explaining the reasons why I’m also on Kirk Cousins. If we even get a hint of the possibility of Dalvin Cook being limited late in the week, we would have the green flag for Cousins-Adam Thielen-Justin Jefferson triple stacks. Since not much has changed to their Cover 1 metrics, go here for specific success analytics against the man coverage shell for Jefferson and Thielen.
“For a perfect representation of how this duo has abused Cover 1, check out these Next Gen Stats’ (NGS) graphics from Week 10 for Thielen, and Week 11 for Jefferson. The keys for both TDs are separation. Thielen is able to separate (0.7 yards) and work to the outside of Buster Skrine’s outside leverage … a big no-no. For Jefferson’s TD, he flows with the direction of Anthony Brown’s outside leverage, toward the single-high safety, but is able to sprint past him for 0.8 yards of separation, and back to the boundary on the fade.
“We may see a couple snaps from Jacksonville within a Cover 2-Man scheme, but these examples will make up the bulk of looks from the Jags. Very specifically, Thielen and Jefferson have utilized go’s, posts, fades, and blaze routes to deconstruct Cover 1 at 20-or-more yards. Inside 20 yards, they’ve gone with outs, crossers, digs, and slants. Regardless of who Jacksonville populates their secondary with, these Vikings’ WRs will have a distinct advantage. It doesn’t hurt that the Jaguars are allowing the eighth-most FPG to WRs this season (40.4).”
He continued in The Bottom Line: “The Jaguars will be without C.J. Henderson, D.J. Hayden, and breakout shadow corner Sidney Jones. Simply the absolute worst time to be shorthanded for the Cover 1 defense. As already explained for Kirk Cousins, Minnesota was intentionally constructed as a lethal Cover 1 annihilator.
“The Bottom Line: Since I’ve already covered analysis on Thielen and Jefferson this week, I’ll keep this very simple. Thielen ranks third among all receivers over the last two seasons with 0.72 FPs/route -- a 55 percent increase -- when facing Cover 1 schemes. On 27 percent of overall routes run, he’s come up with 33 percent of his receiving yards, and 46 percent of his TDs.”
Michael Thomas, WR, New Orleans Saints
[DK: WR10, FD: WR12]
Here’s what our resident WR expert Wes Huber had to say of Michael Thomas and his 44% target share with Taysom Hill under center: “Speaking of WRs whose production from the previous week led to a salary drop, Michael Thomas fits the bill. The odds are stacked against seeing a repeat of what happened with the Broncos’ offense in Week 12. Having the entire Denver QB room forced onto the reserve/COVID-19 list was nothing short of jaw-dropping. To see a player who completely face-planted as a college QB, Kendall Hinton, switching to WR, then using that WR experience to earn a practice squad spot, and ultimately start an NFL game is outlandish. However, that is precisely what took place.
“We ended up with the Saints running the ball on two-thirds of offensive snaps. Increasing that involvement curve, Taysom Hill only attempted 16 passes during the 31-3 blowout. Nobody from either passing offense succeeded from a DFS perspective without supplemental rushing statistics. Although, Thomas did continue his stranglehold of the Saints’ targets with a 46 percent target share. Only adding to our preparation, these teams just met in Week 11. That contest was actually Hill’s first career start, and resulted in Julio Jones’s current hamstring ailment.
“Why should we expect anything different from a second clash between these teams? To be honest, for Thomas’ outlook, nothing needs to change. “CantGuardMike” constructed a 9/104/0 line within the coverage of Darqueze Dennard and A.J. Terrell. A repeat of that result would more than cover floor value on both platforms. But I am anticipating an even better result. Now that Thomas has four-straight games behind him, he’ll be able to call upon his 0.71 FPRt when facing Cover 1 (5th), 0.48 vs. Cover 2 (5th), and 0.53 vs. Cover 3 (8th). Atlanta’s secondary features Cover 1 (34 percent), 2 (20 percent) and 3 (34 percent) shells.”
- Jarvis Landry is pretty badly priced on FanDuel. He’s fresh off of his biggest game of the year, scoring 31.3 DKFP on 11 targets in Week 12. It was a dream matchup and he had done nothing else all year, but this also was basically just his first game without Odell Beckham Jr. and without hellish weather conditions. The Browns are now down to only 3 active WRs, and with KhaDarel Hodge out, Landry should go back to spending a bit more time in the slot. That’s good news for this matchup – the Titans are giving up the 12th-most FPG to slot WRs, but only the 20th most to outside WRs. I don’t know that I totally trust him just yet, but he is a strong value on FanDuel.
- Sterling Shepard is similarly mispriced on FanDuel. He’s seen 6 or more targets in 22 of his last 23 games. Colt McCoy targeted him on 4 of his 10 attempts (40%) last week. Since returning from injury in Week 7, he averages 12.8 XFP to Darius Slayton’s 8.1 and Golden Tate’s 7.8. Seattle is the ultimate WR matchup, allowing opposing WRs to out-score their per-game average by 14.2 FPG when playing them. That’s nearly triple the next-worst defense. He’s a top value on FanDuel, but he’s in play on DraftKings as well.
- D.K. Metcalf on FanDuel? I get it. I don’t have any special insights here, but I get it – he made Darius Slay look like Brandon Browner last week. So, at this point, I think it’s clear he can do just about whatever he wants on the football field so long as Russell Wilson is willing to throw him the ball.
- Adam Humphries shouldn’t be only $3,200 on DraftKings this week. Prior to injury, Humphries was averaging 5.8 targets and 11.2 FPG. Though, granted, much of this came when Tennessee was dealing with WR injuries elsewhere. The Browns are one of the league’s top slot funnel defenses, giving up the 5th-most FPG to slot WRs (17.4) but just the 19th-most to outside WRs (20.4).
- No Will Fuller, no Randall Cobb. Keke Coutee makes sense as a punt option. He saw 3 targets on 63% of the routes last week. Indianapolis is the league’s 7th-biggest slot funnel defense. Don’t expect much but he’s in play.
- Andy Isabella caught 4 of 6 targets for 33 yards last week, running a route on 69% of Kyler Murray’s dropbacks. He’s another viable punt, with a much bigger ceiling than Coutee. Or maybe not, he totaled only 11 air yards last week, so this wasn’t his typical deep-threat / homerun role. The Rams are the 4th-biggest slot funnel defense, which works in his favor.
- Wes Huber made an interesting case for Marquez Valdes-Scantling here.
- A.J. Brown versus a banged-up Cleveland secondary, starting backups at both outside CB spots. He’s scored in 8 of his last 9 games. He’s in play… Julio Jones might not be healthy, and he’d see shadow coverage from Marshon Lattimore if he does play, but he still shouldn’t be only $6,600 on DraftKings. I’ll have something more in-depth for you in the update… Is Keenan Allen always in play? The answer is yes… Calvin Ridley, D.J Chark, Danny Amendola all in play… Tyler Lockett might still be hurt. I don’t know. But he’s always at least somewhat in play…
Anthony Firkser, TE, Tennessee Titans
[DK: TE32, FD: TE27]
Through 12 weeks, Jonnu Smith – believe it or not – has one reception more than Firkser. And now Smith is out. In Week 6, after Smith suffered an injury early in the 2nd quarter, Firkser ran a route on 68% of Ryan Tannehill’s dropbacks (up from his typical 45%). He ended his day with 8 catches for 113 yards and a score (on 9 targets). Up against a Browns defense that’s allowing the 3rd-most schedule-adjusted FPG to opposing TEs (+3.4), he’s a clear-and-glaring value on both sites.
T.J. Hockenson, TE, Detroit Lions
[DK: TE2, FD: TE3]
My typical inclination is to just punt TE every week. Every single week. And that strategy works more often than not. But Hockenson is popping as a top value on both sites.
Hockenson always had target-quality working in his favor, earning 6 of the team’s 8 targets inside the 5-yard-line, along with a team-high 9 end zone targets. But now he’s seeing phenomenal target quantity as well with Kenny Golladay out, and is producing on that good volume. Since Week 7, but excluding Week 10 due to injury, Hockenson is averaging 7.8 targets, 64.0 yards, and 14.0 FPG. If over a full season, those numbers would rank 4th-, 3rd-, and 3rd-best among TEs.
He gets a top matchup as well. Chicago is giving up a league-high 15.8 FPG to opposing TEs, along with a league-high 31% share of their total receiving fantasy points allowed to TEs.
Robert Tonyan, TE, Green Bay Packers
[DK: TE12, FD: TE6]
Tonyan was on fire early in the year, averaging 20.1 FPG across the 3 games Davante Adams was dealing with a hamstring injury. Then Tonyan hit a lull, averaging 6.3 FPG across his next 5 games. But he’s averaging 16.6 FPG across his last 2 games. What’s going on? Can we trust him? Honestly, I have no idea. But he ranks 9th in FPG, or 4th if excluding Week 1 (a game he didn’t start and wasn’t targeted). And yet, he ranks just 12th in salary on DraftKings ($3,700) this week.
He’s probably just your typical “mediocre TE in an elite offense”, meaning, you’re really just hoping for a touchdown, but the chances that happens are pretty good (28.5-point implied total). And the matchup is pretty soft – especially if Darius Slay (calf) plays and shadows Davante Adams – the Eagles are giving up the 10th-most schedule-adjusted FPG to opposing TEs (+1.5). And okay, maybe he’s even a little bit better than mediocre – he was a hyper-athletic (113.6 Speed Score) undrafted small school QB-turned-WR who then converted to TE in the NFL, and he’s played great this season – but I think you get the point. He’s a strong value, a fine play, and, most importantly, he allows you to pay up elsewhere at the other more important positions.
Per one of my go-to film experts: “Tonyan is solid enough as a blocker to continue to stick around and develop. Equally good vs man coverage as he is finding open zones. These attributes matter since we’ve seen TEs flash for a season then disappear and a big reason for that is being such a poor blocker and not being able to beat man coverage. Getting open vs zones takes some skill but largely depends on the defense whereas beating man coverage is a repeatable skill that is dependent upon the receiver. Tonyan has yet to drop a pass this year and has the athleticism be a reliable option for several years.”
- If you’re looking to pay up, Darren Waller makes a lot of sense in an A+ matchup. He’s fine, though I think I prefer Hockenson. And like I said, my preferred approach is just to pay down.
- Jordan Akins has gotten some hype. He’s seen 8 targets (including 2 end zone targets) over his past 2 games. He got blanked in Week 12, but caught 5 balls for 83 yards in Week 11. With Will Fuller and Randall Cobb out, I get the argument but it’s also a brutal matchup. And he’s done little else throughout the entirety of his career.