It’s lucky Week 13!
For starters, we finally have a fairly clean week as far as COVID concerns go. As of right now, no games are in jeopardy of being moved and outside of Larry Fitzgerald of DeForest Buckner, there aren’t many players that could potentially miss because of protocols.
This slate also projects to be a little bit lower scoring than usual. Three of the most pass-heavy offenses are in primetime slots as Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs play on SNF while Josh Allen and Ben Roethlisberger both play on MNF. That leaves us with only three games have an over/under set above 50 points on the main slate, one of which is a divisional game (Texans-Colts; 51 O/U); one is a game between two slow-paced offenses (Vikings-Jaguars; 51.5 O/U); and the other features the two most run-heavy teams in the league (Titans-Browns; 53.5 O/U).
Finally, you’ll notice pricing on DraftKings is really tight. And the few value plays that we do have will be very, very popular.
I’m going to change up the flow of this article a bit and take some stands on what should be the highest-owned players this week.
Note: The ownership projections referenced in this article are from our dashboard, which is powered by FanShare. These are updated constantly throughout the weekend.
Let’s start with a few plays that are going to go over-owned and could end up sinking your lineups…
David Montgomery ($5,500 DK; $6,200 FD) — 31% projected ownership
What is DFS all about? … having a good time, that’s right. Now, just a few things to keep in mind… Always stack in tournaments, never fade CMC, and what happens when you play Chalk David Montgomery? “You’re gonna have a bad time.”
Montgomery is going to be the highest-owned running back on both sites. It’s inevitable. As Scott alluded to in his article, Montgomery is mispriced by at least $1,000 in salary on DraftKings and FanDuel and almost everyone will identify him as a glaring value. What's more, running back is kind of a nightmare this week. Both Dalvin Cook ($9,500 DK; $10,500 FD) and Derrick Henry ($9,200 DK; $10,000 FD) are priced like prime Christian McCaffrey and, unlike last week, we don’t have any super cheap backs like Brian Hill, Nyheim Hines, and Wayne Gallman for salary relief that makes it easy to get to Cook or Henry.
Look, Montgomery is a fine play for cash games this weekend — his volume and red-zone role is as secure as it gets — but what is Montgomery’s true ceiling for tournaments? 18 fantasy points? You can make the argument it might be a little higher in this matchup because Detroit is giving up the fourth-most rushing fantasy points per game, but this is still the same Montgomery who has cleared 75 yards rushing just seven times in his 26 career games. And this is still the same Montgomery who, despite the consistent volume he gets, has finished as a weekly RB1 (top-12) four times over the last two seasons.
Who is leverage off of Montgomery?
Allen Robinson ($6,700 DK; $6,900 FD): Most people won’t want to play two Bears in the same lineup and certainly no one will want to stack A-Rob with a cheap Mitchell Trubisky ($5,400 DK; $6,900 FD). Robinson is currently projected to get about half of the ownership that we’ll see from Montgomery this week despite being an even better play. A-Rob has seen 38 targets (29% share) in Trubisky’s four starts this season and is averaging 18.6 fantasy points per game in these games. That would make him the WR5 on the season over Adam Thielen (18.1). Meanwhile, this is one of the easiest matchups Robinson will see. The Lions have gotten rinsed by outside (sixth-most points allowed) and slot (fourth-most) receivers all year long and may be down their No. 1 CB Jeff Okudah. Just keep an eye on an update on A-Rob’s status this weekend. He apparently suffered a minor knee injury in practice on Friday.
Jonathan Taylor ($5,700 DK; $6,400 FD): Taylor is actually more expensive than Montgomery on both sites and no one is going to play him because of it. Our projections have Taylor’s ownership pegged at just 9%. If you play Taylor, you just have to know you’re taking your chances spinning The Colts RB Roulette Wheel. Taylor missed last week because he was in the COVID protocol as a high risk contact, but in his previous outing in Week 11 against the Packers, HC Frank Reich finally unleashed him. Taylor handled 26 touches (Nyheim Hines had 9; Jordan Wilkins had 5) while he played on 55% of the team’s snaps, marking a four-week high. If he gets similar usage again, Taylor has top-5 potential against a Texans front-seven that is yielding a league-high 5.2 yards per carry and 185.7 scrimmage yards per game to RBs.
If he’s activated off of IR… Myles Gaskin ($5,900 DK; $5,500 FD): We’ll see Gaskin’s ownership projection tick upwards this weekend once everyone digests the news. Salvon Ahmed and DeAndre Washington are both doubtful to play with injuries while Matt Breida has COVID and won’t play. This means that if the Dolphins activate Gaskin, he’ll be in a true every-down role with potentially only Patrick Laird behind him on the depth chart. Gaskin will have game-script on his side — the Dolphins are massive 11.5-point home favorites — and should have no problem going off against a Bengals defense that is giving up the third-most YPC (4.9) and seventh-most scrimmage yards (119.8). He is basically a free square on FanDuel, where he’s $700 cheaper than Montgomery.
Brandin Cooks ($5,600 DK; $6,500 FD) and Keke Coutee ($3,500 DK; $4,800 FD) — 25-30% projected ownership
Pour one out for our guy Will Fuller.
Without Fuller for the remainder of the season and after cutting Kenny Stills a week ago, the Texans receiver corps is suddenly extremely thin. They’re down to Brandin Cooks, slot man Keke Coutee, and fifth-round rookie out of Rhode Island Isaiah Coulter ($3,000 DK; $4,500 FD) as their top-3 receivers. Now entrenched as the team’s No. 1 wideout, Brandin Cooks is going to be the most popular receiver on the slate by a pretty decent margin. But what if the loss of Fuller is just a net negative for this offense overall? Because Deshaun Watson’s splits without Fuller on the field are downright scary. For his career, Watson has averaged 8.8 yards per attempt, 281.3 yards per game, and a 7% touchdown rate when Fuller is in the lineup. Without Fuller? Watson’s YPA dips to 7.3, he puts up just 227.1 YPG, and his TD rate falls to 4%.
What are the chances the Colts just sell out to stop Cooks, who is now their only legitimate threat? They could absolutely do it. Indy plays a rock-solid zone coverage that has limited outside wide receivers to just 11.3 fantasy points per game, which ranks third-fewest behind only the Chiefs (11.0) and Rams (10.4).
Coutee has the easier matchup than Cooks, but this is still the same player who only earned four targets after Randall Cobb left after 5 snaps in Week 11 and got just 3 targets last week in a far easier matchup against the Lions. I think we’ll see Watson, Cooks, and Coutee go way over-owned on this slate.
Denzel Mims ($4,100 DK; $5,500 FD) — 23% projected ownership
Honestly, you should be in the habit of fading the Jets 90% of the time this season. Especially when they’re chalk. Denzel Mims has emerged as the team’s No. 1 target with 24 targets over the last three weeks while Breshad Perriman has 19 and Jamison Crowder has 11. But is everyone so desperate for value that it will make Mims this highly owned? I think Mims is a fine play in this elevated role, but not if he’s going to be in over 20% of lineups. If you’re just looking for a punt play, our DFS projections have Anthony Miller tabbed as the better value over Mims and he’s a full $1,000 cheaper on DraftKings.
Being a sharp contrarian player isn’t about fading all of the highly owned plays. It’s also just as foolish to pick low owned plays for the sake of having low owned plays. We can still be contrarian in tournaments by balancing good plays that are highly-owned with either 1) a unique lineup build that most players aren’t thinking of or 2) simply mixing in lower-owned players to off-set the chalkier plays.
And this week, there are a few pretty popular plays that are hard to get away from…
Austin Ekeler ($7,100 DK; $7,000 FD) — 25% projected ownership
Regardless of ownership, I think Ekeler is the best play on this slate. Even if he ends up being 45% owned — which he won’t be — Ekeler is just a lock button at his price. Consider this: In the eight career games he’s played without Melvin Gordon, Ekeler’s touch counts are 18, 24, 16, 23, 20, 20, 23, and 25. In these contests, Ekeler has averaged 24.1 fantasy points per game. Isn’t that crazy? Dalvin Cook is the RB1 this season with 25.1 FPG. At just $7,100 on DraftKings, Ekeler is underpriced by at least $1,500 for his current role. In his first game back, Ekeler led all RBs in routes run (37) last week and led all players in targets (16). In three full starts together, Ekeler has piled up 26 receptions for 224 yards with Justin Herbert under center, scoring 18.8, 31.3, and 23.9 DraftKings points.
Adam Thielen ($7,300 DK; $7,800 FD) and Justin Jefferson ($6,900 DK; $7,700 FD) — 15-20% projected ownership
With Thielen healthy off of the COVID list, Kirk Cousins has his top two receivers back in time to face what might be the worst secondary in the NFL. The Jags’ have been absolutely ripped to shreds by a multitude of different types of receivers in recent weeks, with Keenan Allen (10/125), Will Fuller (5/100/1) and Brandin Cooks (3/83/1), Davante Adams (8/66/1) and Marquez Valdes-Scantling (4/149/1), Diontae Johnson (12/111) and Chase Claypool (4/59/1), and Jarvis Landry (8/143/1) all finding ceilings against them.
What’s interesting is that even though Thielen and Jefferson are both awesome plays, absolutely no one will want to stack them with Kirk Cousins. Our ownership projections have Cousins tabbed at 7%. A Cousins-Thielen-Jefferson pairing would also provide leverage off of what should be a very popular Dalvin Cook and you can bring it back for a full-on game stack with either James Robinson or D.J. Chark on the Jaguars side of the ball. Chark got in a full practice on Friday and should get his usual role back.
Michael Pittman ($4,900 DK; $5,600 FD) — 15% projected ownership
This one is too easy. The Texans not only lost their No. 1 wideout Will Fuller to a PED suspension, but Bradley Roby also got popped for six games. Without Roby, the Texans top cornerbacks are now Vernon Hargreaves, Keion Crossen, and Phillip Gaines. While Hargreaves has allowed the fifth-most yards (527) and Gaines leads all cornerbacks in fantasy points allowed per snap (0.50), Crossen has played just 33 snaps all season. Michael Pittman is a phenomenal value, regardless of ownership.
Stacks that will go under-owned…
Ryan Tannehill ($6,200 DK; $7,800 FD) + Derrick Henry ($9,200 DK; $10,000 FD) + one of A.J. Brown ($7,600 DK; $8,200 FD) / Corey Davis ($5,000 DK; $6,100) / Anthony Firsker ($2,500 DK; $4,600 FD)
Not only does this game have the highest over/under on the slate, the matchup for Ryan Tannehill and the Titans passing attack just got exponentially better this week with Denzel Ward (calf) out for his second consecutive game. Despite Vegas taking pretty even money on both sides of the spread, they are heavily backing Tennessee. The Titans implied scoring total is now up to 29.8, which trails only the Vikings (31) on the main slate. If the books are right about this game and the Titans do score four touchdowns, you can capture all of that scoring equity by stacking Tannehill with Derrick Henry for a completely unique lineup construction. Tannehill’s ownership projection is only 7% this week and virtually no one will think to pair him with Henry. If you want to get even more unique, you can add a third or even a fourth Titan between A.J. Brown, Corey Davis, and Anthony Firsker.
With Jonnu Smith (knee) out this week, Firsker will play nearly every single snap and be heavily utilized in the passing game. At the minimum price on DraftKings and only $100 above the minimum on FanDuel, Firsker is my favorite TE play this week. Firsker has been hyper-efficient on his limited snaps and ranks eighth-best in yards per route run and seventh-best in fantasy points per snap among 29 qualified tight ends. Firkser and Geoff Swaim will now operate as the Titans top two tight ends, but I wouldn’t sweat Swaim too much. He’s been used as a blocker on 77% of his snaps per PFF.
Note: Tannehill is a better play on DraftKings at $6,200. His price on FanDuel ($7,800) is sort of restrictive.
Taysom Hill ($6,300 DK; $7,700 FD) + Michael Thomas ($7,000 DK; $7,200 FD)
Hill flopped against the Broncos as a passer last week, but still got to 18.5 fantasy points because he added 10/44/2 on the ground. With such a high floor because of his rushing ability, Taysom Hill has 30 point upside if he improves a little bit through the air against the Falcons. If Hill is going to hit his ceiling, it will be on the back of a monster game from Michael Thomas — who has been Hill’s No. 1, No. 2, and No. 3 receiver over the last two weeks. Hill has targeted Thomas on a ridiculous 47% of his throws in his two starts. The Falcons getting Julio Jones back drastically improves this game environment, too. Matt Ryan has been a different quarterback with Julio on the field and his presence just increases the chances that the Falcons keep this game competitive and the Saints’ foot on the gas.