Week 13 is upon us and many of you are making your final playoff push this week. If you are out of playoff contention in your seasonal leagues, perhaps it is time to turn your focus to the daily slates available on Draft Kings and other platforms to win some cash. Based on some feedback I have changed the format of the DFS post a little. In an effort to simplify what should be done with the recommendations, I present to you two categories of picks: “Drop Stacks” and “Pinch Pennies”. These categories sound obvious, but to elaborate “Drop Stacks” indicates the price is worth the play, and “Pinch Pennies” indicate these are the high-upside options that save cash to make your budget work. Of course I will continue to include the red zone data below.
The QB landscape on the main slate is without some of our favorite options like Wentz, Wilson, Roethlisberger, and Cousins unavailable. There are some intriguing options, but here is what I am looking to do at QB this week….
Drop Stacks On…
Tom Brady – $7800 @ Bills
It’s Brady…. I mean come on we know he is going to do work against a Bills defense that has struggled in recent weeks. Box score scouting may indicate that the Bills defense is bouncing back if you look at the week 12 game against the Chiefs, but remember the Chiefs haven’t been the dominant team we saw early this season for a long time. The Bills seem to get beat to death on the ground or give up 300+ passing yards most of the time. Derek Carr, Jameis Winston, and Andy Dalton have averaged 338 pass yards between them against this defense, and none of these guys hold a candle to what Tom Brady can do. Looking at the last couple of weeks we can see that two different receivers have put up 20+ point performances (Michael Thomas, Keenan Allen) and 3 different pass catching RBs have done the same (Kamara, Ingram, Forte). Red zone data suggests that NE has the top expected red zone touchdowns this week, and Vegas has them with the highest implied total of the week. Knowing that this defense can be had by solid offenses just tells me to fire up Brady who has slaughtered bad defenses through the air all season long.
Philip Rivers – $7000 vs Browns
While Rivers is the only other main slate QB in the $7000 range, it should be worth paying up for him given his recent performances. In his last 4 games he has been almost a touchdown and 50 passing yards better. Considering the emergence of Keenan Allen and the fact that the Browns have lost defensive players in the trenches over the past few weeks, and we should be able to expected a more balanced offensive attack allowing the Chargers to dominate this game. Stafford and Deshaun Watson put up 21 and 23 points respectively when facing this defense which makes for a good selection for us.
Pinch Pennies With…
Case Keenum – $6000 @ Falcons
Looked at the splits for games matching the conditions of this contest in Atlanta and Case Keenum only has one matching game. For Case Keenum, this game boasts a road game with a 47 point over/under where the opposing defense is 18th in pass DVOA and dead last in rush DVOA, and in the last game with similar conditions resulted in almost 30 points, including 2 TDs. This defense gave up a 30 point performance to Russell Wilson in week 11, and with the way Keenum and Thielen have been connecting lately this performance looks juicy. This recommendation comes with caution however as the split data comes from a very small sample size of one. Still looking at Atlanta’s last 3 games against Dallas, Seattle, and Tampa Bay, only the Seahawks were able to put up more than 20 points. At this point, the Minnesota offense appears to be better than the Seattle offense. Given that he doesn’t make the top 10 in QB mentions on social media per FanShare, he could be a low owned option in a match up with favorable conditions.
Josh McCown – $5500 vs Chiefs
Staying with the AFC east, McCown has had a surprising season with 7 games of 100+ passer rating and 6 games with multiple TDs. Some might say that he has been taking advantage of bad defenses, and they would be right! However, Kansas City has been a bad defense recently. People may be tempted to fade McCown because the Chiefs have held their last two opponents to less than 17 points, but these were also struggling offenses. The Chiefs give up the 11th most points to quarterbacks and the 3rd most to receivers which makes this low cost option so juicy. Add to that the potential for the Jets to keep the offense balanced against a defense ranked 20th in DVOA against the pass and dead last in against the run, and we can see the potential for an unexpected big weekend for McCown.
Drop Stacks On…
Alvin Kamara – $8400 vs Panthers
The Panthers have not given up a 20+ point performance to a running back all season and they are ranked higher than any defense against which Kamara has produced a 20+ point performance, so why should we pay up for him? New Orleans is favored and at home with a 48 point total projected for this contest. While the Saints expected red zone TDs are middle of the pack, their expected TDs per red zone attempt is tied for third with the Rams and Texans. Ownership could be down looking at all of Carolina’s numbers against the rush, but the Saints are the only team that has generated more than 110 rushing yards against the Panthers (149). What’s to say they can’t do that again, especially on the Saints’ own turf? These teams know each other well and even if rushing the ball gets ugly we can bet on a future hall-of-famer moving the ball through the air via Kamara as the more specialized pass-catching back in New Orleans.
Jordan Howard – $6500 vs 49ers
Don’t over think this because of the terrible performance on Sunday against the Eagles. San Francisco has allowed 10 rushing TDs this season, and the Bears will be looking to get back to what they do best. The 49ers who give up the most points to running backs should be a juicy match up that we can exploit this week. Add the fact that San Francisco has attempted to defend the most red zone plays this season plus Howard’s usage in this area and we can start to visualize the fantasy points that are forthcoming. Ownership should be lower than normal, giving us an opportunity to be contrarian.
Pinch Pennies With…
Rex Burkhead – $5000 @ Bills
Much like the Saint’s backfield, I like choosing the cheaper option in backfields I expect to produce if the difference is $500 or less. In this case, the more productive back from last week happens to be less expensive. While Dion Lewis had one more opportunity in the red zone than Burkhead, Burkhead was more effective to the tune of two TDs. The Bills are bad against the rush having allowed 16 rushing touchdowns which explains how they are giving up the 3rd most points to the position and 2nd worst in rush defense DVOA. See the section above on Tom Brady if more convincing is necessary.
Adrian Peterson – $4800 vs Rams
A nice cheap contrarian play with a ton of upside, AP provides us a steal of an opportunity. He is getting the touches with 24 total last week (including 4 receptions for 20 yards) and when you combine this opportunity with a bad run defense in the Rams at this price, it’s an ingredient for your GPP victory! The Rams give up the 2nd most points to running backs, are 19th in rushing DVOA, and have given up seven 20+ point performances to backs this season (including 2 since week 9). Now the last time these teams met, they lost Carson Palmer in the first quarter who was replaced by Drew Stanton, completely changing the game script. This time the Cardinals are at home with a halfway decent looking QB in Blaine Gabbert who passed for almost 250 yards and 2 TDs against the #1 pass defense in the Jaguars. The Rams will not be able to simply stack the box, making Peterson an interesting play this week.
Jamaal Williams – $4700 – vs Buccaneers
This has to be an absolute steal based on volume alone. Jamaal Williams has had an average of 22+ touches per game since taking over for the injured Packers RBs. He has been playing like he knows his lead back opportunity is limited. He is making his case with the opportunities given by averaging over 100 scrimmage yards per game and cashing in for two TDs last week against the vaunted Steelers defense. The Bucs have given up over 400 yards of total offense to opponents seven times this season, so there is no real reason to doubt Williams’ opportunity to further make his case to be lead back here. Now that Montgomery is on IR I would expect his ownership to rise, but given the number of times Tampa Bay has given up a 20+ performance to ball carriers (6) this still feels like a selection on which we should not pass.
Drop Stacks On…
Brandin Cooks – $7500 @ Bills
Tom Brady…. Bills defense…. I could stop there, but looking at Cooks’ recent production he’s had at least 7 targets, 6 receptions, and 74 yards since the bye (averaging 9-6-102 per game line). He has also found the end zone in two of his last three games. This is an expensive stack at 30% of your budget if you plan to pair Cooks with Brady, but reading Brady’s section above gives you so many indicators for success it is hard to pass on this opportunity to drop stacks on this stack.
DeAndre Hopkins – $7300 @ Titans
This selection comes with a little risk since these teams are familiar foes in this division match up. The only reason Hopkins isn’t way more expensive this week is because he didn’t get in the end zone Monday night. Hopkins opportunity is obvious since he hasn’t seen less than 9 targets since week 6. The Titans are giving up the 6th most points to receivers and have given up six 20+ point performances including three since week 9. The Titans pass DVOA gives us confidence as well being ranked 24th. The over/under isn’t high in this game, but the implied total suggests that Houston will be chasing points, and this favors Hopkins production. It appears his ownership might be high this week, but it is hard to pass with all these indicators of success piling up.
Pinch Pennies With…
Marvin Jones – $6000 @ Ravens
This is the top of the threshold for the “pinch your pennies” category, but I really like what Marvin Jones could do against this defense. Looking at DVOA, fantasy points against, and 20+ point performances allowed by Baltimore, the picture is pretty bleak. However, the Ravens can only play who is on the schedule, and they have only played against two signal callers that are proven (Dalton and Roethlisberger), but even these passers have been shaky at times. The Ravens are 2nd in pass DVOA, allowing the 2nd least points to QBs and 3rd least to receivers. This is a completely contrarian play only to be used if we buy into the narrative that Marvin Jones has been performing well against good pass defenses in Pittsburgh (6 recs, 128 yds) and Minnesota (6 rec, 109 yds, 2TDs). This is a high-risk play, but this upside in combination with significant low ownership is often what wins GPPs. How crazy do you want to get?
Danny Amendola – $5000 @ Bills
If the Brady/Cooks stack is too rich for your blood, it may be worth pivoting to Danny Amendola. Red zone data has already told us that the Patriots have the highest expectation of red zone TDs and Amendola is 2nd among active Patriots in red zone targets (13). Targets are nice, but what has done with these targets? He has converted these juicy opportunities at a rate of 90%, but only two TDs. It appears clear that he has taken over Chris Hogan‘s role in the red zone at least. This option could hold more value because of the red zone potential and the lower price.
Josh Reynolds – $3500 @ Cardinals
This is more of a dart throw than anything else, but last week Reynolds was targeted 6 times and recorded a TD against a Saints defense that was being talked about like one of the best a few weeks ago. Reynolds in place of Robert Woods did have three deep targets indicating he is getting open down the field which is promising given how much Goff was using Woods before the injury. Everyone will naturally gravitate toward Cooper Kupp, which makes sense if we assume that Sammy Watkins will draw Patrick Peterson in coverage. However, the damage to the Cardinals has been done away from Peterson, as Arizona has given up the 4th most points to passers and the 9th most points to receivers. Kupp (#1 among WR mentions in social media per FanShare) is just one of the ways to invest in the Rams offense who currently have the third highest implied total this week, but Robby Anderson (great stack option with McCown) feels like the better prospect being a little less expensive in that price range. Selecting Reynolds over Kupp could give us a very inexpensive, high upside pivot against a defense that has given up 8 TDs to non-#1 receivers this year.
Cordarrelle Patterson – $3400 vs Giants
If I was going to add another category to “Drop Stacks” and “Pinch Pennies” it might have to be called “Lottery Ticket” because that is exactly what Patterson is for us. Seth Roberts also qualifies here as Oakland will have to play these two receivers with Crabtree’s suspension and Cooper’s concussion. With the Giants being 2nd worst against QBs, giving up the 11th most points to receivers, the benching of Eli Manning (implies more Oakland offensive opportunities), and putting Janoris Jenkins on IR, the opportunity for these receivers is grand. The specific case for Patterson is that he is known, and was drafted, for his straight line speed which could translate to several downfield targets. Patterson has a little extra value in extra touches via end-arounds or jet sweeps on which he has scored twice. Patterson has more red zone targets than Roberts, however Roberts has a TD in this area this season. In a pinch to make your salary cap work this is a truly high-upside play.
Drop Stacks On…
Rob Gronkowski – $7300 @ Bills
This week it may be wiser to simply pinch pennies because even though the top two tight end choices have each produced four 20+ point performances on the season and converted 33% of their red zone targets for touchdowns, they both face teams that have each only given up one 20+ point performance to the position.
Gronk (15 red zone targets) is probably the better “pay up” option being that the Chiefs have been bad lately, but we must consider that the Bills (New England’s next opponent) did contain Kelce (12 red zone targets) to three receptions for 39 yards last week. This could be attributed to either the reeling offense or good tight end defense (ranked 16th in fantasy points against and 12th in DVOA vs tight ends).
The Jets are 4th in DVOA, but 10th worst with 12.4 points per game to tight ends. We know that Travis Kelce is almost as capable as Gronk in dominating on the field, and when Gronk faced the Jets last, he put up 6 recs, 83 yards, and 2 TDs against them so there is some potential here for a big outing. However, at the end of the day, we should pay up for Gronk (only $300 more) if we are bent towards dropping stacks on the position for the same reasons that we are inclined to play Brady. The implied point total, the recent defensive struggles of the Bills, and the red zone data all favor Gronk.
Pinch Pennies With…
Delanie Walker $5600 vs. Texans
Walker has averaged 7 targets and almost 14 fantasy points per game over his last four. At this point, he seems to be the most reliable option in the passing game for Mariota. The Texans give up the 6th most points to TEs at 14.4 points per game. For some reason or another, social media has been quiet regarding the opportunity he has. According to Fan Share data, he hasn’t made the top ten of mentions for tight ends. This could be a solid pivot away from the next guy we discuss … Jared Cook.
Jared Cook $5400 vs Giants
In the $5k price range, Delanie Walker seems like he would be more popular as a selection, but we must not overlook the opportunity that may be available for Jared Cook here. Crabtree is suspended for this game, and we don’t know if Cooper will make it back from the concussion protocol in time for the weekend, which could mean more targets for Cook. The Giants have given up 8 TDs to tight ends and 17.8 fantasy points per game (dead last). Also Janoris Jenkins was just put on IR which should weaken their secondary altogether.
Hunter Henry $4500 vs Browns
Even with the resurgence of Keenan Allen over the last few weeks, Hunter Henry has seen two 5 target games. While it is a far cry from an elite amount of targets, we must consider the competition they face this week. The Chargers have The Browns are bad against the tight end, giving up the 2nd most points to, and ranking dead last in DVOA against, the position. Henry’s performance appear to be on a steady rise as well given his performance against Dallas. Red zone data suggests that the Chargers are tied for the 5th best expected red zone TDs per attempt and Henry is second on the team in red zone targets. This should be a favorable week for him and save us some money at the same time.
Jacksonville Jaguars – $4500
The Colts couldn’t take advantage of a good match up against Tennessee so we should have every expectation that Jacksonville will dominate in this match up. The last time these two teams met the Colts were shutout on their own field. The Colts are giving up the second most points to defenses and they have produced less than 300 total yards in each of their last two games. It’s totally a chalk choice that makes sense if you have the budget for it.
New England Patriots – $3300
Save a bit of cash and buy into the rise of the Patriots defense who face the reeling Bills. Held to less than 300 total yards in 2 of their last three, the Bills now face a Patriots team that has held opponents to an average of 13 points since week 5. The QBs this defense has faced have included some poor QBs during that span, but it has also included some decent passers that are arguably better than Tyrod Taylor at this point. DFS players are likely to continue fading the Patriots if looking at DVOA (31st) and fantasy points against (5th most to QBs, 2nd most to WRs, 10th most to running backs, and 13th most to tight ends), but we must consider these types of rankings in the context of more recent and detailed statistics to give us a better picture. This picture is looking real positive for the Patriots.