Derrick Henry, RB, Tennessee Titans
DK: RB3, FD: RB3
Derrick Henry gets stronger as the season goes on. Opposing defenses wear down, El Tractorcito does not. The Jaguars are giving up the 4th-most FPG to opposing RBs (28.2). In his last 2 winter meetings against Jacksonville, Henry averages an unreal 18.0 carries, 198.5 rushing yards, 3.0 rushing TDs, and 11.0 YPC. Henry has a massive ceiling but also a significantly underrated floor – he averages 23.6 DKFPG over his last 19 games, hitting 30.0 DKFP in 32% of those games and 19.0 DKFP in 68% of games. He’s rightfully a top value on DraftKings, mispriced by $786 as per the DFS SuperModel.
Aaron Jones, RB, Green Bay Packers
DK: RB4, FD: RB4
Last week, unprovoked, one of my go-to tape experts sent me the following on Jones: “He 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.”
What happened a few days later? He played on 66% of the team’s snaps (nearly a season-high) gashing a tough Eagles run defense for 130 yards on 15 carries while also adding 18 yards on 3 catches through the air. After a mid-season lull (perhaps due to injury like our anonymous tape expert suggested), Jones is now averaging 16.0 carries, 2.5 targets, and 119.0 YFS per game over his last 2 games.
Although last week’s matchup was tough – the Eagles came into the game ranking 2nd-best in YPC allowed (3.43) – this week’s matchup couldn’t be any better. The Lions are allowing opposing RBs to out-score their per-game average by a league-high 9.4 FPG. They rank 8th-worst in YPC allowed (4.60), 3rd-worst in rushing FPG allowed (19.3), 2nd-worst in receiving FPG allowed (13.3), and worst in total FPG allowed to opposing RBs (32.5). Included in that, of course, is the 48.6 DKFP Jones scored against them in Week 2.
He’s our top overall value on DraftKings per the DFS SuperModel, and it’s not hard to see why. But also keep in mind Derrick Henry is going to be far more highly owned, although he’s only averaging 0.8 DKFPG more than Jones this season (and in spite of that weird mid-season lull). Ownership excluded, I slightly prefer Henry at cost. Ownership included, I greatly prefer Jones.
David Montgomery, RB, Chicago Bears
DK: RB12, FD: RB17
Here’s what we said in the Week 14 XFP Report:
Montgomery has long been an XFP buy-low / regression candidate – in other words, he’s long seen good volume but has failed to capitalize on it – but he’s finally capitalizing on it. He’s hit 25.0 fantasy points in back-to-back games, but also in back-to-back pillow-soft matchups. These were, respectively, the 2nd-best (25.3) and best (27.1) games of his career. He’s played on 80% of the team’s snaps since Week 5 and averages 17.9 XFP and 16.7 FPG over this span. For perspective, those numbers rank 1st-, 3rd-, and 8th-most over this span. Maybe the recent upsurge in production is all a function of matchup, but, luckily, he gets another soft matchup this week – the Texans are giving up the 2nd-most FPG to opposing RBs (32.2).
He’s rightfully a top value on both sites, ranking 5th- (DK) and 1st- (FD) among RBs according to the SuperModel.
Myles Gaskin, RB, Miami Dolphins
DK: RB24, FD: RB26
Gaskin ranks 6th- (DK) and 3rd- (FD) among RBs in value per the DFS SuperModel. Here’s what we had to say in the Week 14 XFP Report:
Gaskin saw phenomenal usage in Week 13. On a 70% snap share (6th-most), he totaled 19.1 XFP (5th-most) on 23 touches. He was effective – compiling 141 yards from scrimmage – but not effective where it mattered most. He failed to find the end zone despite receiving 6 opportunities inside the 10-yard-line. All this near end zone work was worth an XTD of 1.44, meaning if he was perfectly average in touchdown efficiency (a stat that is far more driven by luck than skill) he should have scored 23.7 fantasy points instead of the 15.1 he ended his day with.
Since Week 5, Gaskin is playing on 71% of Miami’s snaps and averaging 19.5 XFP and 16.6 FPG. For perspective, those numbers rank 4th, 4th, and 10th-best over this span. He’s again glaringly a top volume-related value. He’ll have game script working against him this week, as 7.5-point underdogs against the Chiefs. That’s a concern – coupled with the fact that RB Patrick Laird out-targeted him last week – but the matchup otherwise isn’t terrible on paper. The Chiefs have given up the 14th-most FPG to opposing RBs (24.0) and rank 7th-worst in YPC allowed (4.64).
Austin Ekeler, RB, Los Angeles Chargers
DK: RB7, FD: RB9
In 4 healthy starts with Justin Herbert under center, Ekeler is playing on 66% of the team’s snaps, averaging 12.5 carries, 10.0 targets, 21.8 XFP, and 21.3 FPG. For perspective, 21.8 XFP per game would rank behind only Christian McCaffrey. It’s also far better volume than Ekeler saw in games without Melvin Gordon last year (18.7), you know, when he was the only fantasy option coming anywhere near Christian McCaffrey (26.8 FPG). And it’s significantly better volume than he saw once Gordon returned (13.8), you know, when he was still putting up easy RB1 numbers (16.8 FPG). Ekeler’s 21.3 FPG average would also rank 4th-most among RBs, but if Ekeler remains as efficient as he’s always been, we should be expecting much more. He’s consistently ranked as one of the 3 most-efficient RBs in fantasy football, and ranks as the most-efficient fantasy RB since entering the league. And yet, he’s just the 7th- (DK) and 9th-most (FD) expensive RB on the slate. The only concern with Ekeler is the matchup. Atlanta ranks as the toughest defense against opposing RBs over their last 5 games – opposing RBs are falling short of their per-game average by a league-high 14.8 FPG. That no doubt leaves me a little uneasy, but not enough to keep me from ranking him as one of the top RB plays of the slate.
James Robinson, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars
DK: RB5, FD: RB5
For seemingly the 7th week in a row, Robinson ranks as a top-5 RB value on both sites per the DFS SuperModel. Might this also be (nearly) the 7th week in a row he smashes his salary-based expectation? I think the odds are good. Here’s what we had to say in the Week 14 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 84% of the team’s snaps in Week 13, and ranks 1st in Snap% since Week 7 (83%). 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 18.7 FPG. He ranks 5th in total XFP, averaging 16.4 XFP per game. Since Week 7, he ranks 4th in XFP per game (19.0) and 2nd in FPG (20.0). He’s reached at least 90 yards from scrimmage in each of his 6 games over this span, and has hit that mark in 10 of 12 games this year. Start him with confidence as a top-5 option this week, in a top matchup against Tennessee – the Titans rank 6th-worst in schedule-adjusted FPG allowed to opposing RBs (+3.7).
Jonathan Taylor, RB, Indianapolis Colts
DK: RB22, FD: RB13
Taylor is no doubt risky, but he’s also a top value, ranking (actually) as the 2nd-best overall value on DraftKings (+894). Here’s what we had to say about him in the Week 14 XFP Report:
Jonathan Taylor has reached 12.0 XFP only once since Week 3. That’s the bad news, but the good news is he’s been very productive and efficient in his last 2 games, averaging 19.0 FPG on 12.9 XFP per game. He’s also averaging 124.5 YFS and 5.17 YPC over this span. Still, he’s played on just 51% of the team’s snaps and handled just 50% of the backfield XFP. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s rewarded for his recent productivity and efficiency with a bigger workload in Week 14. But I also wouldn’t be surprised if Frank Reich sticks with the frustrating RBBC we’ve seen all year. But, in any case, he does have a soft matchup this week – Las Vegas is giving up the 5th-most FPG to opposing RBs (27.9). And he is mispriced on DraftKings, ranking as just the 22nd-most expensive RB on the slate.
J.D. McKissic, RB, Washington Football Team
DK: RB35, FD: RB41
With Antonio Gibson banged up, McKissic played on 73% of the team’s snaps (5th-most) in Week 14 (a game they won). Gibson will be out this week, which means Peyton Barber will receive a high-percentage of the rushing work, but McKissic will again receive a massive target share. QB Alex Smith has targeted McKissic on a team-high 49 of his 201 throws (24%). And he’s targeted RBs on 33% of his throws. Those numbers can be compared to Justin Jefferson, who ranks 14th in target share (25%), or Keenan Allen who leads the league (30%). Gamescript should be slightly in his favor this week, which is to say it’s projected negative, with San Francisco favored by 3.0-points. The on-paper matchup is also more in McKissic’s favor than Barber’s – San Francisco ranks 4th-best in rushing FPG allowed to RBs (10.2) but 16th-worst in receiving FPG allowed (10.0).
He’s a strong high-floor value on DraftKings. I like him a lot but he’s not a must-play.
Dalvin Cook, RB, Minnesota Vikings
DK: RB1, FD: RB1
Even with Alexander Mattison still out, I’m not at all bullish on Cook in a brutal matchup. Here’s what I had to say about him in the Week 14 XFP Report:
Cook got banged up in Week 12 (ankle) and practiced only in a limited capacity all week. Because of that, HC Mike Zimmer seemed to imply he’d see a diminished workload in Week 13, telling reporters: “[He’s] kind of beat up… We’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."
What happened in Week 13? Cook hit a new season-high in XFP with 33.8, or the 5th-most by any player in any week this season. Of course, Alexander Mattison popping up a surprise scratch (illness) certainly played a role, but maybe Zimmer was right to talk about reducing Cook’s workload down the stretch (with an eye towards keeping him fresh for the postseason). Although Cook saw phenomenal usage – 32 carries, 9 targets, 3 opportunities inside the 10-yard-line – he wasn’t very efficient with that good volume. He fell 9.9 fantasy points shy of his expectation – by far his worst game of the season. Through his first 7 games, he averaged a PAR of +9.6 without ever finishing in the negative (or below +2.4). In his last 4 games, he’s averaging a PAR of -6.0, hitting negative in each game, with a high of just -3.8.
Duke Johnson, RB, Houston Texans
DK: RB38, FD: RB38
In the 4 games David Johnson missed, Duke Johnson has earned an 81% snap share, averaging 12.3 carries, 3.5 targets, 12.0 XFP, and 11.3 FPG. The snap share is elite, but all of the other numbers are high-end RB3-esque. He’s for sure a value this week with David Johnson out, but he’s still not really high on my radar. The Texans have a lowly 23.25-point implied point total, in what should be a pass-heavy affair, against a Bears defense that ranks 5th-best in schedule-adjusted FPG allowed to opposing RBs (-4.5).
- Chris Carson for all of the same reasons we mentioned last week? He’s again a strong value on DraftKings per the DFS SuperModel. No one expected the Giants to win last week, but there’s no chance Seattle doesn’t dominate the Jets in Week 14. Right? The Jets are a top pass funnel and surprisingly decent against RBs and the run, but they’re also 13.5-point dogs in a game Seattle is expected to score 30.25-points (2nd-most on the week.) However, HC Pete Carroll said several days ago that Carson isn’t really “close to 100%.” Further, Carlos Hyde will be healthier and should see a larger workload than he did last week.
- Arizona has leaned a bit more on Kenyan Drake in recent weeks, as Kyler Murray deals with an AC joint sprain. Drake is averaging 14.8 carries, 3.3 targets, 80.0 YFS, and 16.5 FPG since returning from injury in Week 10. Perhaps most importantly, he’s seen 13 of the team’s 18 carries inside the 10-yard-line over this span. You can argue that the Giants have struggled against the run on a per-attempt basis in recent weeks, but otherwise the matchup and the game environment (including Vegas’ pessimism) look pretty brutal.
- Ronald Jones is pretty interesting. Tampa Bay is favored by 6.5-points behind the 4th-highest implied point total of the slate (29.75). It’s a neutral matchup on paper, but the projected positive gamescript is probably more important. HC Bruce Arians recently talked about trying to get Jones 20 touches in victories. He averages 22.8 DK FPG over his last 4 victories of 3 or more points. He’s a boom-or-bust tournament option who offers leverage off of Tom Brady and his receivers.
- Mike Davis should be back to a bell cow workload this week. Rodney Smith and Trenton Cannon had mixed in quite a bit more in recent weeks but he still feels like a lock for around 16 carries and 4 targets. He should also be a little more effective than he’s been, now healthier off of the bye. Or maybe not because the matchup is brutal. In any case, priced as just the 13th- (DK) and 15th-most (FD) expensive RB of the week, he’s a decent value.
- Melvin Gordon at near-zero ownership and a reduced price-tag in a plus matchup after racking up 142 yards on 16 touches last week? Why not?
- Giovani Bernard is no doubt a gross play, but he is a top value, locked into between 66-75% of the backfield’s snaps and XFP in a pillow-soft matchup.
- Devontae Booker is a fine value on FanDuel. He earned 16 of 23 carries and 1 of 4 targets out of the backfield last week. But he’s risky, in a tough on-paper matchup with projected negative gamescript (+2.5) against the Colts.
- Peyton Barber is in play as a punt option on FanDuel. You likely need Washington to lead throughout for him to hit. It’s not likely (as 3.0-point dogs), but it is possible.
Davante Adams, WR, Green Bay Packers
DK: WR1, FD: WR1
Adams averages 26.3 FPG this year. That’s the 2nd-most by any WR in any season all-time, behind only Elroy Hirsch’s 1951 season (26.5). That’s 113% of Michael Thomas’ production in 2019, and yet, Adams is $600 cheaper than where Thomas finished last year. These numbers are also failing to adjust for injury. Excluding Week 2 and Week 6 due to injury, Adams is averaging 12.3 targets (low of 9), 116.5 receiving yards, 1.6 touchdowns (low of 1), and 32.5 DK FPG (low of 18.1). That’s insane – 4.6 more DK FPG than the next-closest player (Dalvin Cook) and 8.8 more than the next-closest WR (Tyreek Hill). He gets a Jeff Okudah-less Lions defense that ranks 5th-worst in schedule-adjusted FPG allowed to opposing WRs over their last 5 games (+5.5). I absolutely love Adams this week, but I also love Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce. I think I’ll be spending most of the weekend trying to get at least 2 of those players on every lineup.
Wes Huber went into more detail on the matchup here.
Tyreek Hill, WR, Kansas City Chiefs
DK: WR2, FD: WR2
Tyreek Hill might be Exodia. I think I’m all alone on this, but I like him at least just as much as I like Davante Adams. Here’s what we had to say about him in the Week 14 XFP Report:
Somewhat quietly, Hill just posted his worst game since 2018. He saw terrific volume in Week 13, worth 22.6 XFP, but scored just 14.8 fantasy points (-7.8 PAR). But Hill has long been one of the most consistently efficient players in fantasy, so Week 14 would be a great time to jump back on him in DFS and hope recency-bias negatively impacts ownership. Here’s (more or less) what we had to say last week, but with all of the stats updated to account for his disappointing Week 13:
Hill has always stood out as something of an XFP outlier. He’d routinely rank top-5 in FPG, but somewhere around 15th in XFP per game. Numbers like that rarely happen. But then again, players like Hill are just as rare. That’s because he’s inarguably the most efficient WR in fantasy, consistently ranking 1st in PAR. Since entering the league in 2017, Hill has out-scored his per-game expectation by +3.0 (2016), +4.2, +4.0, +2.8, and +5.2 (2020). Collectively, he’s outscored his expectation by +4.0 FPG or by 130% -- in other words, he’s 130% better than a perfectly league-average player. And something like 10% more efficient than the next-closest player.
Clearly, the talent has always been there for Hill. Volume was the only thing standing in the way of him being – I don’t know – let’s say, the most valuable player in fantasy, instead of just a top-3 WR asset. But now he’s finally seeing elite levels of volume.
He’s ranked top-3 in XFP in each of his last 4 games. Since Week 9, he ranks 1st in XFP per game (28.4), with 8.1 more than the next-closest player (Davante Adams). He ranks 1st in FPG over the same span (33.2), with 7.3 more than the next-closest player (Davante Adams). Hill has now seen 57 targets over his last 4 games, hitting double-digit targets in each game. He’d hit double-digit targets in just 4 of his prior 23 games. He’s scored 8 touchdowns over his last 5 games, and has scored at least once in 10 of 12 games.
Will this continue? It’s hard to say. This newfound boost to truly elite levels of volume is highly encouraging. As is the fact that Kansas City ranks as the most pass-heavy team over expectation since Week 7 – passing on 68% of their plays versus an expectation of 51% (accounting for gameflow and down and distance). What’s his upside? His upside is Exodia. If this volume continues, he could be one of those players where it’s nearly impossible to have won your fantasy championship without him. As a worst-case scenario, he just goes back to who he was before – an easy top-5 fantasy WR.
Allen Robinson, WR, Chicago Bears
DK: WR12, FD: WR17
Robinson is going to go massively underowned this week. He’s a top value and a phenomenal play. The only concern with him is a lingering knee injury. Here’s what we said in the Week 14 XFP Report:
Allen Robinson picked up a knee injury in practice late last week, drew a questionable tag, and then somewhat underwhelmed for fantasy, catching 6 of 7 targets for 75 yards. But if he’s fully healthy, he’s a phenomenal play this week. And he gets a big boost with Mitchell Trubisky back under center. Trubisky has targeted Robinson on 27% of his throws this season, compared to Foles’ 22%. 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 12 games with Trubisky, he averages 10.6 targets, 114.5 air yards, 18.6 XFP, and 18.7 FPG. If over the full season, those numbers would rank 3rd, 4th, 2nd, and 5th-best. This week, he gets a Houston defense without Bradley Roby, which pushes this matchup from bottom-10 to top-5. In the 3 games Roby missed (minus 1 snap), Houston has given up monster games to opposing WR1s – T.Y. Hilton (25.0), D.J. Chark (27.6), and Davante Adams (44.6).
And, for the record, Wes Huber is in complete agreement. You can read his more in-depth write-up here.
DK Metcalf, WR, Seattle Seahawks
DK: WR3, FD: WR3
Is Metcalf a clear-and-glaring must-play or a top value in a week that’s loaded with attractive WR plays? Not really. Does he offer massive “bury me” upside? Yes. Metcalf averages 25.9 DK FPG in his 8 best games and 8.9 DK FPG in his other 4 games. I don’t think Tyler Lockett is fully recovered from a knee injury suffered in Week 10. The Jets are starting backups at all 3 CB positions. They rank bottom-5 in FPG and fantasy points per target allowed to opposing WRs on deep passes. Over their last 5 games they’re giving up the 2nd-most schedule-adjusted FPG to opposing WRs (+13.9). There are better on-paper plays, but he makes a lot of sense for large-field tournaments and Russell Wilson-stacks.
Michael Thomas, WR, New Orleans Saints
DK: WR10, FD: WR14
Similarly to Metcalf, Thomas isn’t quite on Adams’ or Hill’s level, but he is a strong tournament option. Darius Slay looks hurt and is playing like it, giving up 382 yards over his last 3 shadow games. This formerly bottom-5 matchup for any WR1 may now be a top-5 matchup. Thomas sports an absurd 36% target share with Taysom Hill under center, and has recorded 9 catches and 100-plus receiving yards 2 of Hill’s 3 starts. Here’s what Wes Huber had to say in Advanced Matchups:
“NFL fields are not recommended as a place of employment for seeking mercy. After falling into a shadow of DK Metcalf in Week 12 and Davante Adams last week, Darius Slay will now be tasked with trailing Michael Thomas. Slay will not be in man on Thomas the entire game, the Eagles will also fall into a Cover 3 in obvious passing situations (around one-fourth of snaps).
Unfortunately, in addition to CantGuardMike’s fifth-highest FPs/route (FPRt, 0.56) average over his last 23 games, Taysom Hill has connected against Cover 3 on both of his career TD passes: linked here and here. That said, the majority (40-plus percent) of routes from Thomas will go against BigPlaySlay in Cover 1. As you can see for yourself, Adams’ lethal double moves (Cover 1) were on full display, and Slay simply couldn’t counter hisphysicality (red zone man). We already saw a similar issue againstMetcalf the previous week.
It’s very possible that the calf and knee injuries he is currently fighting through are significant enough to explain some of his dropoff in performance. Heading into Week 12, Slay had limited his No. 1 shadows to 8.3 FPG. Over his last two, 27.5 FPG. As prefaced, Slay is not going to see any mercy from Thomas. And the physical specimen of Thomas resembles Metcalf more than Adams, albeit with vastly superior route running, and superior hands. Here is an example of Thomas burning the Falcons’ Cover 3 on a crosser in Week 11.
On 26 percent of total routes run against Cover 1 over the last two seasons, Thomas has found a home for 36 percent of his receptions, 33 percent of yardage, and 37 percent of TDs. It is certainly no surprise that he ranks fifth with 3.11 yards/route run (YPRR) against the man scheme — a 21 percent spike to his overall average. Simply not the time for Slay to be struggling or dealing with nagging injuries.”
Corey Davis, WR, Tennessee Titans
DK: WR24, FD: WR20
Since his return from injury in Week 7, Davis is averaging 12.7 XFP per game. Or, +0.8 more than A.J. Brown over the same span. Since Week 7, Davis ranks 15th in FPG (16.5), 7 spots ahead of Brown (16.0). Across the full season, Davis ranks 16th in DKFPG (16.9), not far behind Brown (17.6) who ranks 12th. And yet, Davis is $1,600 cheaper than Brown on DraftKings this week, priced as the 24th-most expensive WR on the slate. He clearly offers a high ceiling – hitting 20.0-plus DKFP 3 times – but also an underrated floor, hitting double-digit fantasy points in 9 of 10 games.
He and Brown both draw a top-5 matchup this week – the Jaguars are starting RCB Tre Herndon, LCB Luq Barcoo, and SCB Josiah Scott at corner. Who? Exactly. Over their past 6 games, the Jaguars have given up big games to: Justin Jefferson (27.3), Adam Thielen (21.5), Jarvis Landry (28.3), Diontae Johnson (23.1), Chase Claypool (15.9), Davante Adams (20.6), Marquez Valdes-Scantling (24.9), Will Fuller (21.0), Brandin Cooks (17.3), Keenan Allen (22.5), and Jalen Guyton (16.4). Both WRs should feast this week.
It’s encouraging to see that Wes Huber is in complete agreement on this call. Though, it’s worth noting that A.J. Brown is still a very strong play, and especially if Davis is likely to go higher-owned. But Davis is also no doubt the better value on paper.
Justin Jefferson, WR, Minnesota Vikings
DK: WR7, FD: WR9
Jefferson isn’t just popping as our top WR value on FanDuel (per our projections), but he’s also our overall WR3 on the week, projected at 1.82 fantasy points. Keep in mind, he’s just the 7th- (DK) and 9th-most (FD) expensive WR of the slate. While I do think that projection is bold), I don’t disagree that Jefferson is a phenomenal value.
Since Week 3 he ranks 5th among all WRs in FPG (19.5). He’s now outscored Adam Thielen in 4 of their last 5 games, averaging 24.0 FPG to Thielen’s 20.0. He’s seen better volume (measured by XFP) in 5 of their last 7 games, averaging 15.4 XFP per game to Thielen’s 13.8. Tampa Bay was a tough matchup on paper, but they’ve given up an absurd 149.6 fantasy points to opposing WRs over their last 2 games. And they’re still likely to be without CB Jamel Dean who missed both of those games, after playing in 11-straight. His absence is pushing Slot CB Sean Murphy-Bunting out of position (to the outside), and his replacement (Ross Cockrell) is a player we’ve long targeted in DFS. Jefferson is rightfully a top value.
Again, it’s highly encouraging that our WR expert Wes Huber is all over Jefferson as well. You can read his more in-depth writeup here. But Adam Thielen is by no means a bad play. According to our projections he’s a top-5 WR value on FanDuel and a top-10 WR value on DraftKings. And he’s likely to be far less highly-owned than Jefferson.
Brandon Aiyuk, WR, San Francisco 49ers
DK: WR27, FD: WR22
Aiyuk is just the 27th-most expensive WR on DraftKings. But since Week 3, Aiyuk ranks 16th in XFP (14.8) and 15th in FPG (16.5). Since Week 7, Aiyuk ranks 5th in XFP (18.2) and 4th in FPG (20.2). Over this span (4 games), he’s averaging 10.0 targets (low of 7), 94.0 receiving yards (low of 75), and 21.0 DKFPG (low of 19.7). And uhh, yeah, wow. That’s crazy. Why is no one talking about that? This week’s matchup against Washington is somewhere around neutral or slightly below-average, but I don’t think that really matters much in light of the other numbers just cited.
And now keep this in mind: Since Week 3, Justin Jefferson ranks 22nd in XFP (14.0) and 5th in FPG (19.5). Since Week 7, he ranks 16th in XFP (14.8) and 9th in FPG (17.9). And, remember, Jefferson is also glaringly a top value this week.
So, at worst (since Week 3) Aiyuk is about 85% of Jefferson. At best (since Week 6), he’s 113% of Jefferson. And yet, his salary is just 73% that of Jefferson’s on DraftKings. And he’s likely to draw about 50% of Jefferson’s ownership. He’s a smash play and will likely go under-owned.
Robby Anderson, WR, Carolina Panthers
DK: WR19, FD: WR27
D.J. Moore is out for Week 14, due to a positive COVID test. Curtis Samuel was ruled as a close-contact and also could miss this week’s game. That’s massive for Anderson, who was already popping as a strong value. He ranks 13th in XFP per game (14.2) and 14th in receiving YPG (76.0). He ranks a bit lower in FPG, due entirely to bad touchdown variance. For the same reason, he’s long ranked as a top XFP- and touchdown-regression candidate. He draws a tough matchup this week, against a Broncos defense that ranks 5th-best in schedule-adjusted FPG allowed to opposing WR1s (-2.7), but he’s still a top value. And, in fact, on FanDuel – where he ranks as just the 25th-most expensive WR on the slate – he’s our top overall WR value (per the DFS SuperModel). And, oh yeah, maybe the matchup isn’t so bad. The Bears are now without starting CBs Buster Skrine and A.J. Buoye.
UPDATE: Curtis Samuel is back and is cleared to play. That makes both of them excellent values. But I think I prefer Samuel at price. Over his last 6 games, he averages 6.8 targets, 2.2 carries, 64.7 YFS, and 17.3 FPG. Over the same span, Anderson averages 8.5 targets, 57.7 YFS, and 12.5 FPG.
- Jets WR Denzel Mims has been ruled out. WR Jamison Crowder failed to practice Friday and is questionable to play Sunday. This makes Breshad Perriman and Braxton Berrios highly intriguing punt options. Perriman averages 5.8 targets and 13.9 FPG over his last 4 games. Berrios averages 7.5 targets, 11.0 XFP, and 13.3 FPG in the 3 games Crowder has missed. This is a best-possible matchup for both WRs. Seattle ranks bottom-2 in FPG allowed to both opposing outside and slot WRs. They’re both really strong plays on DraftKings.
- Michael Gallup is a little too cheap on DraftKings this week. He appears to have switched roles with CeeDee Lamb since the Dak Prescott injury. Gallup has seen his YMS jump from 15% to 21% under Dalton, while Lamb has seen his YMS fall from 22% to 16%. After seeing 8 targets in Week 12, he caught 7 of 11 targets for 86 yards and a score against Baltimore last week. Cincinnati is a top-10 WR matchup on paper, though they’ve been surprisingly good at defending the deep ball.
- DJ Chark is popping as a strong value on FanDuel. In his first game with Mike Glennon under center, he saw a team-high 7 targets last week, but failed to capitalize. It’s a pretty soft matchup, but he’s not a must-play by any stretch.
- Brandin Cooks was chalk for a reason last week. Remember that was always going to be a brutal matchup -- Indianapolis sells out to stop opposing WR1s. This week’s matchup is tough as well, but he’s still a solid play. Chicago is one of the best defenses in the NFL at defending slot WRs, but Keke Coutee is still in play. Though Chad Hansen is cheaper and will draw lower ownership. He caught 5 of 7 targets for 101 yards last week.
- Wes Huber really likes Tim Patrick this week and so do our projections. You can read his full write-up here.
- Marvin Jones is a fantastic value on FanDuel, and a solid play on DraftKings. Jaire Alexander is unlikely to shadow, and he’s seen 12 targets in back-to-back games. Or double-digit targets in 3 of his last 4 games. Over his last 7 games, he averages 8.1 targets, 67.6 yards, and 16.3 FPG. I’m getting (slightly) some Corey Davis Week 13 vibes from him this week.
- KJ Hamler, Bengals WRs, Darnell Mooney, Jakeem Grant, Cam Sims, and Quintez Cephus are a few more viable punts I’m looking at. I’m behind on time today, but I’ll dig deeper and have this sorted out tomorrow.
- We’ll talk Lions RBs tomorrow in the update. We’re still waiting on an update on D’Andre Swift.
Travis Kelce, TE, Kansas City Chiefs
DK: TE1, FD: TE1
Kelce is the 7th-most expensive wide receiver on DraftKings, but he ranks 3rd among all wide receivers in DK FPG (21.3). He’s the 5th-most expensive wide receiver on FanDuel, but he ranks 3rd among slate-eligible wide receivers in FD FPG (16.5). Clearly, he’s a strong value at price, but now we also have to factor in positional value. For instance, on DraftKings, the next-closest TE (Darren Waller) is 92% the cost of Kelce, but provides just 78% of his production. The 5th-most expensive TE (Rob Gronkowski) is 65% and 45%. The 13th-most expensive TE (Jared Cook) is 51% and 36%. You get the point.
Since Week 8, Kansas City has become far-and-away the league’s most pass-heavy offense, throwing on 70.5% of their plays versus an expectation of 52.9%. Over this span, Kelce averages 10.8 targets per game, 122.6 receiving YPG, and 26.7 DK FPG. Tyreek Hill really might be Exodia – no, seriously, read my write-up on him – but Kelce really might be too. And he does have the better on-paper matchup. Over their last 5 games, Miami ranks 7th-worst in schedule-adjusted FPG allowed to opposing TEs (+2.8) but 4th-best against opposing WR1s (-2.8).
T.J. Hockenson, TE, Detroit Lions
DK: TE4, FD: TE4
I’m fairly confident TJ Hockenson is poised for a break-out game. Will it happen this week? I don’t know, but he is a decent value, ranking top-6 on both sites as per the DFS SuperModel.
Hockenson has exceeded 50 receiving yards in 8 games this year, 4 more than Darren Waller. He’s seeing phenomenal target-quality, earning 6 targets inside of the 5-yard-line (4th-most among receivers). But – with Kenny Golladay out – he’s now paired that with good target-volume. Excluding Week 10 (due to injury), Hockenson has seen at least 7 targets in each of his last 5 games. Over this span, he averages 14.1 XFP, 13.7 fantasy points, and 8.4 targets per game. He’s hit double-digit XFP in each of his last 5 games and double-digit fantasy points in each of his last 6 games (Week 10 still excluded). This week’s matchup is tough on paper, but Detroit will also be forced to lean pass-heavy as 7.5-point dogs in a game that offers the highest over/under of the slate (55.5).
Hunter Henry, TE, Los Angeles Chargers
DK: TE7, FD: TE9
Henry is a very solid mid-priced value this week. Here’s what we had to say about him in Start/Sit:
“Herbert was apocalyptically bad in Week 13, and, as a result, so was Henry’s stat line. But before that, he had seen 6 or more targets in 9 of 11 games. Over his prior 3 games, he averaged 7.7 targets and 13.8 FPG. Of course, there was also a gross stretch in the middle of the season where he failed to reach even 40 yards in 6 straight games, but, still, this is the ultimate matchup. Opposing TEs are out-scoring their per-game average by a league-high 4.5 FPG when facing Atlanta. Start him with confidence as a mid-range TE1.”
If you’re punting TE this week, which is typically the recommended approach, you have a plethora of options. In the higher-priced tier you’re deciding between Logan Thomas and Irv Smith Jr. And in the lower-priced tier you’re deciding between Drew Sample and Cole Kmet.
- Logan Thomas has a brutal matchup this week, but he smashed in a brutal matchup last week. Since Week 6, he averages 5.3 targets and 12.1 FPG (6th-most) on a 91% route share.
- Kyle Rudolph caught 7 of 8 targets for 68 yards with Smith out in Week 12. He goose-egged in Week 13 but that might have been due to injury. With him out, you’re hoping for Smith to put together a line like Rudolph’s Week 12. He hasn’t shown us much all year, but the matchup is solid – Tampa Bay has struggled against TEs in recent weeks.
- Drew Sample has a team-high 9 catches with Brandon Allen under center (21% target share). He caught 7 of 7 targets (10.2 XFP) for 49 yards last week.
- Over the past 2 weeks, Cole Kmet has run 21 more routes than Jimmy Graham (53 to 32) and has out-targeted him 10 to 5. He ranked 12th among TEs in XFP in Week 13 (9.9), scoring 14.7 fantasy points on 7 targets.
- Dalton Schultz and Mo Alie-Cox are probably also within this tier, but I prefer the other names. If forced to choose, I’d go (in order) Thomas, Smith, Kmet, Sample.
- I think I like Hunter Henry more than Robert Tonyan this week, but it’s close. (Really, sort of a coin flip if I’m being honest.) The SuperModel actually has Tonyan higher on both sites, ranking as a top-2 TE value overall. We wrote a lot of words about him last week (here) and he didn’t disappoint, scoring 13.9 fantasy points and winding up on the winning Milly Maker lineup. He averages 5.0 targets and 15.7 FPG over his last 3 games. Really, you’re just betting on at least one touchdown from Tonyan, but the odds are good with Green Bay being spotted the highest implied point total of the slate (31.5). He especially works well on lineups that are fading Davante Adams.
Quarterback is absolutely brutal this week. Which is to say there are so many different QBs to like, and no individual name is really standing out. So, this week’s strategy is the usual strategy. For tournaments, play whoever makes the most sense for your lineup. Make sure your lineups are “telling a story.” Make sure you’re stacking optimally. For cash, things are a bit easier I think.
Jalen Hurts, QB, Philadelphia Eagles
DK: QB27, FD: QB26
Last season, at Oklahoma, Jalen Hurts became 1 of just 5 Power-5 QBs to ever reach 3,500 passing yards and 1,000 rushing yards in a single season. Those other 4 QBs were Kyler Murray, Deshaun Watson, Lamar Jackson, and Johnny Manziel. And his 2019 season ranks 5th-best in total fantasy points over the past 15 seasons, ahead of only Jackson, Manziel, and Patrick Mahomes.
On just 4 drives as the QB last week, Hurts dropped back 20 times, attempting 12 passes and rushing 5 times. He averaged 0.52 fantasy points per dropback with a 25% run rate, totaling 109 yards through the air (plus one touchdown and one interception) and 29 yards on the ground. If extrapolated to a full game (11.6 drives per game for the Eagles), we would expect about 84 rushing yards and 30.2 fantasy points. Keep in mind, his 3X expectation on DraftKings is just 15.3 DKFP.
Most rushing yards per game in final season of college:
Okay, that’s a foolishly small sample size. Fair. And this is a tough matchup. But I hope you get the point. Hurts has a massive ceiling and a massive floor for fantasy. The Konami Code advantage is real and it is glorious. He’s popping as our top QB value on both sites (per our projections), and should be the chalkiest QB in cash this week.
For posterity, here’s what my go-to film-expert sent me on Hurts earlier this week: “Scrambled on 25% of his dropbacks Sunday and showed calmness and poise in the pocket, even when the offensive line was breaking down. Showed excellent accuracy in college and natural playmaking abilities with his arm and legs. Has a chance to light up the fantasy world down the stretch.”
Justin Herbert, QB, Los Angeles Chargers
DK: QB7, FD: QB4
Herbert remains mispriced, ranking as just the 7th-most expensive QB on DraftKings. Here’s what we had to say about him in Start/Sit:
Herbert was on an unreal tear from Weeks 4-11, averaging 26.5 FPG and hitting at least 21.5 fantasy points in 7 of 7 games. That ranked 2nd-most over this stretch, sandwiched in between Kyler Murray (29.5) and Patrick Mahomes (24.9). And then he revealed his mortality, falling back to earth in a big way, struggling in a tough matchup against New England (6.4) after a mediocre outing against Buffalo (17.4). But Week 14 represents the ultimate get-right spot, against an Atlanta defense that ranks worst in schedule-adjusted FPG allowed to opposing QBs (+5.2). There’s a narrative that Atlanta might have finally fixed their defensive woes, but that might also just be an overreaction to one brutally bad game from Derek Carr – because, otherwise, they’ve given up big scores to Taysom Hill (26.2, 25.6) and Drew Lock (30.2) in their three most-recent games. And, at the very least, there’s still a steep fall-off from “best possible matchup” to “still a very favorable matchup for any QB.” Start Herbert with confidence as a top-6 option this week, even if he burned you badly in Week 13.
Other / Notes
- Just for the record: Hurts and Herbert got the featured spots because they’re the 2 QBs I’ve already written about. It’s not that they’re glaringly the 2 best plays. Though that’s true for just about all the other positions. I don’t know, I’m about 6,000 words into this bad boy and people only read the TLDR anyway so cut me some slack. But anyway, yeah, I do think Hurts is the best play for cash.
- Aaron Rodgers is PFF’s highest-graded QB this season (94.7). He averages 25.3 FPG over his last 7 games, which is just 0.3 FPG off of 1st-place among QBs. He also offers an unreal floor, hitting at least 22.5 fantasy points in 10 of 12 games. With the highest implied point total of the slate (31.5), against a bad (3rd-worst in opposing passer rating, 7th-worst in passing FPG allowed) and banged up Lions defense, he makes all the sense in the world.
- Matchups don’t matter when you’re the best QB in football. And they especially don’t matter when you’re also (by a landslide) the most pass-heavy QB in football. And maybe the matchup isn’t so bad for Patrick Mahomes anyway. Miami is one of the most blitz-heavy defenses in the NFL, and Mahomes owns the league’s best passer rating (138.8) against blitzes this year. He’s hit 30.0 DKFP a league-high 6 times, more than Rodgers and Deshaun Watson combined.
- Maybe Seattle doesn’t want to “Let Russ Cook”, but there’s a great chance he cooks this week. The Jets are the league’s biggest pass funnel defense, with opposing offenses passing against them on 59% of their plays versus a 53% expectation. They’re also giving up a league-high 9.5 schedule-adjusted FPG to opposing QBs over their last 5 games. We’ve seen a number of blow-up games against them from Patrick Mahomes (36.6), Derek Carr (32.7), Josh Allen (28.2), Justin Herbert (27.7), Kyler Murray (27.3), and Cam Newton (24.6).
- Ryan Tannehill has an easy top-5 matchup and the 3rd-highest implied point total of the slate (30.0). Wes Huber dug in deep here.
- Wes Huber dug in deep on Taysom Hill here. Graham Barfield talked about him here. If you’ve read my work the last 3 weeks, you know where I stand. He’s a strong value and a phenomenal contrarian option for tournaments, and especially if stacked with Michael Thomas.
- Wes Huber has been the “Tom Brady whisperer” this year, correctly forecasting his “booms” and “busts.” He made an excellent and compelling case for him here.
- Since the Bill O’Brien firing heading into Week 6, Deshaun Watson leads all QBs in DK FPG (28.2). Over this span, he’s hit at least 23.5 DKFP in 8 of 9 games. Yeah, that’s crazy. Will Fuller is out, and the matchup is tough. But, again, those numbers are crazy, and he’s just the 6th-most expensive QB on FanDuel.
- Mitchell Trubisky is extremely cheap in a plus matchup. He’s averaging 17.2 FPG in games he started and finished, which is firmly above his 3X expectation on DraftKings (16.8). I don’t know if I have the stones to actually play him, but that’s the argument for him.
- Kirk Cousins stacks? Why the heck not when he’s averaging 27.9 DK FPG over his last 3 games, and Tampa Bay’s defense appears to be falling apart at the seams.