Last week was rough for any of us who bought into Marvin Jones or any assests in the Jets @ Bucs game. Jared Goff didn’t disappoint and Kirk Cousins exceeded expectations as the top QB of the week against one of the better overall defense in Minnesota. Maybe there was a little bit of overthinking on my part so this week I will keep it simple.
Cash Stack of the Week
This is probably a stack that many are staring at right now as one of the juiciest match ups of the week. How can we not invest in Kansas City’s playmakers after C.J. Beathard put up a top 5 performance on the New York Giants. Given what the Giants have showed us the last couple of weeks, the trend looks like it is going to continue. In nine games this season the Giants have only held two opponents to less than 24 points, and the last two weeks they have given up and average of 41 points per game. From a fantasy perspective in their last three games they have given up a top 10 fantasy performance to 3 signal callers, 2 receivers, 2 tight ends, and 1 running back.
The question regarding this possible stack is, “How crazy do you feel?” because it seems we can go with Smith, Hill, Kelce, an Hunt in this match up. The Giants are worst in giving up fantasy points to quarterbacks and the tight end which makes Alex Smith ($6700) and Travis Kelce ($7300) obvious components of this stack. While there may be less expensive options to add to this stack it may be worth considering adding Kareem Hunt ($8000) or Tyreek Hill ($7100). For Hunt, keep in mind that the Giants may not have Damon “Snacks” Harrison and they have given up 174 yards per game on the ground over their last two. This looks like a recipe for Hunt to have a big game. As for Hill, he appears to be on this interesting rhythm of performances with “boom” weeks and “meh” weeks. Hill has literally been great on odd NFL weeks and not on even NFL weeks. While this is not the most dependable predictor, it is an curious one. Keep in mind that kick and punt return production count in Draft Kings and the Giants are allowing the worst return yards per attempt (12.9). Do we roll the dice? That is up to you, but in the end I think this expensive 3-way stack of Smith, Kelce, and Hunt is a great one for cash games.
Carson Wentz would have made this section, but he is on the primetime slate in a juicy match up against the Cowboys. Fire him up in your primetime match ups against this defense that wasn’t really great at all this year and it is now likely they will be missing Sean Lee. Matt Ryan and Russell Wilson will be compelling on the primetime slate as well given Atlanta’s underwhelming defense and Seattle’s recent misfortune of losing Sherman in week 10.
Derek Carr – $6400 vs Patriots
Tom Brady visits a bad Oakland defense in what looks to be a high-scoring affair according to Vegas (52 point total). Even though Brady and the Patriots are favored by a touchdown, taking the side that will be chasing points and thus have to throw the ball makes sense. We know that Carr is more than capable of taking advantage of bad passing defenses especially at home. He had 3 TDs each when the Jets and Chiefs visited Oakland, and the Patriots are 2nd worst vs QBs and 3rd worst versus WRs in per ESPN’s fantasy points against (FPA). Football Outsiders DVOA metric shows the Patriots defense to be 30th against the pass and 29th against the run.
Kirk Cousins – $6100 @ Saints
How on earth is Cousins way down here at this price? People may fade any QB going into the Superdome, but lets look at who the Saints have played in their last four games. Brett Hundley, Mitch Trubisky, Ryan Fitzpatrick, and Tyrod Taylor (who just got benched for Nate Peterman) are the quarterbacks that they have faced….. hardly inspiring competition. Before facing Hundley, they saw Matt Stafford who put up 3 TDs on them (Sam Bradford and Tom Brady did the same). Kirk Cousins has been getting it done as recently as last week against the Vikings who are no slouches in defending the pass. Cousins has been up and down a bit this year, but remember the Redskins had some significant offensive line injuries plaguing them until last week. Cousins has generated five 20+ point performances this season and New Orleans has only given up two such performances so far, but remember most of the competition they have faced. Most are going to fade Cousins this week which should make him a solid pivot play for GPPs.
- Eli Manning ($6500) vs Chiefs – Chiefs have given up the following 20+ point performances: 5 to QBs, 6 to WRs, and 2 to RBs. Chiefs have also yielded more than 27 points in 2 of their last three (Denver 19 points) and 7 passing TDs over that span.
- Blake Bortles ($5200) @ Browns – Cleveland’s seemingly solid defense on the ground could force Bortles to increase his attempts per game for the third week in a row. The Browns have given up the following 20+ point performances: 4 to QBs, 4 to WRs, and 2 to TEs. Browns have also given up the 7th most fantasy points to QBs.
Until further notice, running backs Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara are “free squares” meaning that you can play them with confidence, but so will everyone else. The only way to play a little contrarian with this backfield safely is to select Kamara over Ingram and hope the game plan swings in his favor. Somehow they are only the 4th and 8th most expensive running backs on Draft Kings, probably due to the fact that they could conceivably eat into each other’s production. Jay Ajayi at $5300 might be an intriguing play as well against Dallas in a high-scoring primetime game, and don’t sleep on Tevin Coleman‘s ($5800) opportunity with Devonta Freeman likely out. Let’s focus on inexpensive backs in the main slate to pair with studs.
Kenyan Drake – $4800 @ Buccaneers
This pick is dependent on a prayer that Adam Gase comes to his senses and finally tries to see what he has in this sophomore player. Drake looked pretty dynamic on Monday night against the Panthers who are a pretty stout run defense being ranked 3rd in rush defense DVOA and FPA running backs. Conversely, Tampa Bay is ranked 20th in DVOA and 7th worst against halfbacks FPA. It’s easy to say that we are chasing his big run from last week, but this is a solid GPP play. We know what happens if Gase uses Drake appropriately: he performs well, his price goes up next week, and then everyone is on him. Winning GPP lineups always seem to have that guy that almost everyone doubted. This could be the guy this week.
Ameer Abdullah – $4200 @ Bears
This pick will probably raise some eyebrows because the Lions offensive line, and thus Ameer Abdullah’s production, has hardly been inspiring in run blocking. Taylor Decker is back which should be a solution to the many problems the Lions had running to the left side. Decker’s first game back didn’t look awesome, but if we look at Abdullah’s runs to Decker’s side it appears the running back’s potential is being realized. He broke two big runs to the left side behind Decker and there was also the 8 yard TD run. His total rushing production to the right side was 53 yards on 8 carries for 6.6 yards per attempt. Running to the right against the Browns (2nd in rush DVOA), he had 4 attempts for -1 yard with T.J. Lang out. The previous week he had 16 yards on 5 carries to the right side. If Lang returns from the concussion protocol, he and Decker make Abdullah an intriguing option. Another encouraging observation: Dwayne Washington saw zero snaps in this game, but Abdullah saw three red zone touches. While the Bears appear to be a stingy rush defense, this could be a contrarian option since everyone is still fading Abdullah.
Latavius Murray – $4000 vs Rams
Since week 5, Murray’s carries have been on the rise including two games against teams ranking in the top 10 of DVOA run defense (Cleveland 2nd, Green Bay 8th). The Vikings have produced four 20+ point performances from running backs, and the Rams have allowed 5 such performances (the most of any team playing this week). The Rams are also 5th worst vs running backs in FPA. Some may be worried about Jerick McKinnon and there is good reason to be. The way the Rams are scoring lately, this game could potentially get out of hand and if it does, the Vikings could call up their “catch up” game plan and look to get McKinnon more opportunities to move the ball.
- Melvin Gordon ($7600) vs Bills – The Chargers have produced 5 20+ point RB performances this year and the Bills have given up 4 such performances this season. The Bills are giving up the most points to the running back of teams playing this week. Austin Ekeler is a great handcuff that had a great game, but Gordon is the primary game plan on the ground. Look for him to bounce back big this week.
Oh my how I whiffed on receivers last week. While I still stand by the logic behind those selections, reality continues to prove to us just how much we don’t know. That’s not going to keep me from trying to give you some metrics and thoughts to consider for your Draft Kings lineups each week. Since this post doesn’t really focus on players in prime time contests, here is a quick summary of receivers to consider: Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor @ Dallas, Julio and Sanu @ Seattle without Sherman, and Baldwin against Atlanta. Let’s see what the main slate has to offer.
Michael Thomas – $7400 vs Redskins
As the third most expensive receiver on the slate behind Antonio Brownand Mike Evans, we need to get more out of Michael Thomas this week. Many will fade him if they purely look at high-level statistics, but there could be an opportunity here for him to finally hit the way that we have been expecting all season. Josh Norman hasn’t shadowed anyone all season and plays the opposite side of the formation from where Thomas normally plays. He has been averaging 8.3 targets per game all season, but since week seven he has converted those targets into receptions at least 63% of the time if not more per game. Case Keenum put up four TDs against this defense last week and he is no hall-of-famer so we can imagine what Brees will do this week to this secondary. Thomas could finally blow up this week.
Sterling Shepard – $6300 @ Chiefs
We all saw Shepard show out last week against a 49ers team that happened to muster their first win in this very game. With a lack of options Eli Manning is peppering him with targets. Now, he gets to face the worst defense against receivers in FPA and they also happen to be 6th worst in giving up points to QBs at 19.1 points per game. Shepard has been averaging 8 receptions per game (13.5 yards per reception) since his return to the lineup. With the chiefs at 22nd in DVOA against the pass and a game where the Giants will surely be chasing points due to their own reeling defense he is a solid choice this week.
Amari Cooper – $6000 vs Patriots
Starting with the game with the highest projected score, I want to start with my stack candidate for Derrick Carr. Cooper has been underwhelming since his ridiculous performance against Kansas City, but what has changed for the better is the amount of targets he is getting. Before the Chiefs game Cooper was averaging 6 targets per game, but in the two games since his explosion he has had 9 and 10 targets. Pure box score scouting suggests that Cooper isn’t converting these targets, but looking at the film shows that only one of these 10 unconverted targets was due to a legitimate drop by Cooper. The other missed targets came down to poor accuracy on Carr’s part. With the playoff race heating up it should be expected that a team like the Raiders are trying to make a push since they are only 2 games out of a wild card spot. This could easily be a Crabtree game, but the opportunities are there for Cooper. New England has given up a weekly WR1 performance in 2 of its last three contests at a 21 point per game pace over the same period. The opportunity is there, but the question is can Cooper capitalize on the 30th ranked pass DVOA defense? Looking for Cooper to answer with a huge “YES!”
Josh Doctson – $4000 @Saints
The Saints defense has been talked about like one of the best in the league, but remember what was highlighted earlier: since the Detroit game, the Saints faced three QBs that did not start the season as the starter and one more that just got benched for a rookie (See Kirk Cousins above). The Saints have a little more to prove before we consider them a defense to be feared. There is potential here for a sneaky stack here, even though the box score may indicate otherwise. The stats show that Doctson has averaged 6 targets over the last two contests against Seattle and Minnesota, and he only had 3 and 4 receptions in those games, respectively. However, if we look at the film you see that Doctson should have had a TD on that 38 yard bomb against Seattle which would have put him at ~18 points. Last week, his 4 receptions for 30 yards line against the Vikings would have been much better if there was connection on one or both of those deep shots to him. If he hits on both of those he would have been good for ~26 PPR points. The two misses would have been good for 2 TDs and 58 yards, but one of them Cousins overthrew Doctson as he was wide open, and the other MacKensie Alexander made a diving pass break up in the end zone. These near misses are the only reason that Doctson is still $4000 which makes him a valuable selection in GPP contests.
- Jamison Crowder ($4300) @ Saints – While Doctson has been just a few opportunities away from a couple of monster games, Crowder has seemed to be closer to his old target-happy version with 13 and 11 targets over his last two games. As good as everyone is making this New Orleans defense out to be, they have given up 4 20+ point performances to receivers this season. When facing solid QBs this season, the Saints defense has allowed an average of 352 passing yards per game (vs Bradford, Brady, Stafford).
- Dede Westbrook ($3600) @ Browns – This is a total dart throw being that we haven’t seen him at all in live NFL action, but neither has the Browns defense. With the Allens out, it is possible that he sees some deep shots. How accurate those deep shots are is an entirely different question, but this is the type of player that we often look at in the GPP winner’s lineup and ask, “How on earth did they know that was going to happen? Who selects a guy that has never seen the field?” “Fortune favors the bold,” is the old saying right? This selection could make that very statement true this weekend.
Kelce ($7500) and Gronk ($8200) continue to feel like sure studs this week as they face the 26th (Giants) and 30th (Oakland) ranked teams in DVOA defense against tight end receivers. These could be considered “free square” plays, but at those prices are there any solid pivots? Here are some considerations for this week’s tight ends.
Marcedes Lewis – $2700 @ Browns
With daily fantasy football we want every selection we make to score at least 20 points in order to get paid. Did some digging into ESPN’s weekly scoring leaders to determine what teams have given up the most 20+ point performances to the tight end. Three teams playing this weekend have given up two such performances: Eagles, Browns, and Broncos. Jacksonville plays Cleveland this week and Eric Ebron scored his second TD of the season there. Even though he only had 2 receptions for 29 yards, we have to remember that there are more receiving options in Detroit. Remember back to week 3 when the Jags slaughtered the Ravens? Lewis’ 62-yard, three TD performance had something to do with that. Additionally, the Jags just lost another receiver in Allen Hurns so Bortles could look to Lewis more this week. Cleveland is 2nd to last against tight ends in DVOA, and 3rd worst in FPA versus the position. Sounds like a recipe for success.
Tyler Kroft – $2900 @ Broncos
By the same measure, Kroft has a great match up against the Broncos as they have allowed two 20+ point performances to tight ends this season. Ranked 24th in DVOA vs TEs and 2nd worst in FPA against the position, Kroft should be a solid play at the price given that he has averaged almost five targets per game since week three. Kroft was also targeted deep twice last week, which could potentially be the start of a trend. If so, we want to catch that fire on the rise.
Chargers – $3000 vs Bills
Nate Peterman is starting for the Bills this week, and this is a simple decision to bet against the backup. The Chargers are 6th against the pass in DVOA with 9% sack rate according to Football Outsiders, which is good for third among NFL defensive lines. Additionally, red zone data indicates that the Bills are tied for the 2nd lowest expected red zone TDs. This leans towards it being a poor debut for Peterman, and we shouldn’t let this opportunity go to waste.
Lions – $3600 @ Bears
Many will play the Jags in their lineup against Cleveland, but if you need to save just a few hundred dollars to get one last stud into your lineup for this weekend, take a look at the Lions. Mitch Trubisky sniffed the 300-yard mark for the first time last week against Green Bay, but he still didn’t quite reach it. Prior to this 297-yard passing performance in week 10, his highest yard accumulation was 168 yards. In this same game he was sacked five times bringing his total to 16 on the season. The weather for this game is projected to be cold and windy which makes it a prime game to keep the ball on the ground, thus likely low scoring. While not as awesome an opportunity as the Chargers, there is still solid potential here.