The byes are over which means more options for us from here until week 17, however some of our favorite options have already played on Thanksgiving Day. Last week’s recommendations had some hits and some duds, but hopefully you ended up with the good picks on winning DFS lineups last week. The compiled red zone math is available for your consumption below:
This is probably another week to go chalk with Tom Brady in a game against the Dolphins boasting the biggest spread of the slate at 17 and a half points. Brady has also generated seven 20+ point performances this season, so why doubt him now? Another heavily favored team is the Eagles by 14.5 points. Carson Wentz could be a chalk option as well having put up five 20+ point performances himself, even though the Bears have only given up 13.5 points per game to QBs (that includes holding the Panthers to 3 points and the Steelers to 17 points). These are also the two most expensive QBs on the slate, but the way they are playing right now is otherworldly which makes for easy ways to not overthink the position. There are a few other intriguing options that could save a little money, but still provide some solid upside.
Russell Wilson – $7000 @ 49ers
On name value alone Wilson vs the 49ers probably looks like the chalkiest of plays well suited for your cash games. Wilson has put up two passing TDs in his last three games and at least 77 yards on the ground in two of those last three. His floor is pretty safe and considering he is facing San Francisco who is 7th worst in DVOA against the pass, giving up the 4th most points to QBs, and has given up three 20+ point performances this season make this is a beautiful match up for us. We could play him is tournaments too because of the upside. Even though Seattle is favored by more than a touchdown, analysis of his history vs the 49ers shows he struggles curiously against the 49ers. “Struggle” is defined as only scoring multiple TDs in 2 of the 11 games against San Francisco since he entered the league in 2012. This history could cause many to fade him in DFS, but in those two games he had at least 3 TDs. Remember, this time he won’t have the full Legion of Boom to keep the score low so he may be pressed to put up points.
Andy Dalton – $6000 vs Browns
Dalton surprised many of us last week with a 3 TD performance against Denver. This week Dalton is matched up against a Browns defense that has given up an average of 30 points per game over it’s last three. The Browns are 6th worst in pass DVOA and give up the 11th most points to QBs. Keep in mind that the last time these teams faced off Dalton dropped 4 TDs against them and that was as a visitor. According to the red zone data, Cincinnati has the best expected TDs per attempt. Now they get a juicy match up at home, and this is your contrarian play this week.
Tyrod Taylor – $5800 @ Chiefs
While the Bills QB situation is still up in the air, we all know what the right choice is at QB based on last week’s evidence. There is no way on Earth that McDermott should have Peterman start another game while there are playoff hopes alive in Buffalo. Such a move is made when the math dictates, and coaches really shouldn’t try to get cute when there is a chance at the post season. We shall see what he does, but if he makes the right decision we can fire up Tyrod Taylor on our lineups. The Chiefs have given up the 9th most fantasy points and five 20+ point performances to QBs. Red zone data shows that Kansas City is tied for fourth in red zone TDs allowed and the Bills are tied for 5th most expected red zone TDs this week. Although the data suggests the Bills will favor the run in red zone situations, we know that Tyrod likes to pass it to Shady in this area of the field too. Remember that Tyrod has that solid floor based on he propensity to rush it into the end zone himself. Keep an ear to the ground, because if Tyrod is starting this should be a solid low owned play that could win some GPPs by allowing you to spend elsewhere.
Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram were #1 and #3 last week which is insane for a single team. You almost can’t go wrong as they have both been top 10 running backs at the same time on 3 different weeks since Adrian Peterson left town. My experimental “trenches” metric shows they have the absolute best O-line vs D-line matchup this weekend, providing further confidence to pay up for them. The metric may become available once vetted, but this week Ingram and Kamara are the definition of “free square”. This is especially true this week as they are matched up against the Rams who have allowed the most 20+ point performances with six this season. Play them in this game projected to have 53+ points between the teams. We should probably be playing at least one of these two, but the question is what other options would you pair with them for a winning lineup?
Kareem Hunt – $8000 vs Bills
This has got to be the week that we see Kareem Hunt return back to form, doesn’t it? I know that he disappointed anyone who invested the $8k price in him last week, but the Bills have allowed an average of 3.6 TDs per game over their last three. That “trenches” metric mentioned earlier has Hunt with the third best matchup this week. The reason many are likely to fade this favorable match up is due to Hunt’s lack of TDs since week 3, but that’s just what we like in GPPs. Add to that Hunt’s “meh” performance last week in another match up that looked favorable and his ownership is sure to be at rock bottom for the season. Give me Hunt in GPP against the 2nd worst rushing defense in DVOA and points per game to running backs. Let’s also hope for some positive TD regression.
DeMarco Murray – $5200 @ Colts
Murray hasn’t been the consistent fantasy producer, but he has been the most utilized running back on the team, especially in the passing game. DeMarco’s ability in the passing game should provide more opportunities being that the Colts are the worst team in DVOA against pass catching running backs. On top of that they give up the 7th most points to the position as well. While people may be fading him the last time he played the Colts he put up 87 total yards including 4 receptions and a TD which is good for 18 points. While this is a little short of the 20+ points that we normally look for, this could be the play that ensures a solid floor for your lineup with a 3 TD upside that we saw two weeks ago against Cincinnati.
Dion Lewis – $4800 / Rex Burkhead – $4300 vs Dolphins
This feels like a total coin flip to figure out which back will have the bigger day, but the red zone data suggests that New England will run it the most of any team this week in addition to having the most overall red zone success this week. All of this makes sense in the context of a 47.5 total. Lewis seems like the more sure bet given that he has seen at least 10 carries per game since week 6. Rex fumbled last week which has been perceived as the kiss of death in a Belechick offense, but he did return to the field after putting one on the ground. This could swing touches in favor of Lewis in this contest against the Dolphins who have allowed three 20+ point performances to running backs, rank 21st in DVOA against the pass and pass catching backs, and give up 23.5 points per game to the position as well. In the trenches, the New England O-line has the 4th best match up this week. My money goes to Lewis, but it could just as easily be Burkhead that performs better.
A. J. Green – $8000 vs Browns
We already discussed what happened last time the Red Rocket Andy Dalton saw the Browns. Green had a decent day against them in week 4 as well posting a 5 reception game for 63 yards and a touchdown. Of the passing TDs scored on the Browns this season, 25 % of them have gone to the #1 option on the team. Cleveland is 27th against the pass and 2nd worst against WR1s in DVOA. Green is more expensive than Julio and Mike Evans, but it is understandable as Green has been more productive in the red zone with four TDs compared to one and three respectively. A little bit of caution with this option as Cleveland has allowed the 7th least fantasy points to receivers.
T.Y. Hilton – $6700 vs Titans
Hilton hasn’t had a great season with regard to consistency, but he has had three really big games against sub par defenses including a 175-yard, 2 TD performance against Houston. While Hilton didn’t have a game like that in their first meeting with Tennessee, they now get to play at home where two of Hilton’s three big performances have occurred. Jacoby Brissett has been on a steady climb in passer rating since week 4 with a slight, but expected, dip in passer rating against Jacksonville. This is Brissett’s second meeting with the 9th worst pass DVOA who gives up 37.2 points per game to receivers, so he should be able hit Hilton for a few big plays. This selection will provide true WR1 upside at a WR2 price. The cherry on top of all the other metrics: Tennessee is tied for the most 20+ point performances to receivers with 6 on the season!
Devin Funchess – $6100 @ Jets
Since the Kelvin Benjamin trade Devin Funchess has put up 178 yards and 2 TDs which makes it look like Carolina’s attempt at “addition by subtraction” has been a success when looking at the two games for the Panthers prior to the trade. The primary benefactor of the trade has been Christian McCaffrey, but we have seen the trust that Cam has in Funchess for those deeper throws. This gives Funchess a lot of upside, being matched up against a team giving up the 10th most points to the position. Since week 7 the Jets have given up nine passing TDs and five 20+ point performances to receivers, and Funchess has the capability of being the sixth.
Corey Davis – $4900 @ Colts
Davis has averaged more than 7 targets per game since his return, but he hasn’t had that blow up game as the primary target yet. This is probably due to the defense he has faced in the Steelers (5th in pass DVOA, 4th in points to WRs), Ravens (3rd, 2nd), and Bengals (15th, 3rd). This week we should see more opportunity for Davis as he faces the 8th worst pass defense in DVOA and points to receivers. This should be a solid low-owned option to fill out your GPP lineup.
With the goal of finding players with the best chance of posting a performance of 20 points or greater, it becomes especially hard when trying to find TEs with that kind of potential. This week we do have a few prime choices in the main Draft Kings slate.
Jared Cook – $4700 vs Broncos
The Broncos have given up six TDs to tight ends so far this season and 2 20+ point performances (tied for worst with CLE, PHI, HOU). Jared Cook is averaging 6 targets per game and hasn’t averaged less than 14 yards per reception since week 7. This is one of the better match ups that Derek Carr will have in the passing game with Denver ranked 24th vs TEs in DVOA.
Tyler Kroft – $3900 vs Browns
This is a nice pivot play if you buy into Cleveland giving up the 7th least points to the wide receiver position. Cleveland is 2nd worst in DVOA vs TEs and gives up the 3rd most points to the tight end. When the Bengals last visited the Browns, Kroft went 6 catches for 68 yards and two TDs. Being that Cleveland has given up two 20+ point performances to TEs this season, this could be the match up to exploit.
In selecting a defense this week we look at the Over/Under as always for the lowest implied totals. This week that would point us to the Eagles, Steelers, and Bengals. The Steelers are the chalk choice given that they have held each of their last 5 opponents to 17 points or less. Also Hundley and Green Bay scare no one. Let’s look at the other two options.
Philadelphia Eagles – $3600 vs Bears
The Bears have been able to run the ball well, but that’s it. Trubisky is still trying to find his way and the Eagles have been victimizing less-than-stellar QBs all season. The Eagles have held sub par QBs and their offenses to 16 or less points (Osweiler, Beathard, Palmer). Trubisky has potential to be awesome in the future, but he’s not ready yet. This defense has held its last three opponents to less than 240 yards of total offense and had at least 2 turnovers in each of those games. This selection provides us an opportunity to save money but access to the same potential as Pittsburgh or Cincinnati who are the 2nd and 3rd most expensive options. Full disclosure: I have a little bit of bias being a fan who bleeds green so keep that in consideration.
New England Patriots – $3400
Please, please, please look at how the Patriots have performed over their last 6 games. No opponent has scored more than 17 points in these games. Set aside the “fantasy points against” stats and the DVOA here as the Patriots are looking more and more like the 2016 version of the defense. Those season-long stats are deceiving and likely to drive ownership down giving this selection the possibility of being contrarian. The only concern is that Matt Mooreis probably more competent than Jay Cutler, but this season he has only proven he can put up points against legitimately bad defenses, and the Patriots no longer qualify.
Have fun on this Turkey Day weekend!