Welcome to week 14, AKA playoffs week! Many of us are out of it, but this daily fantasy becomes our fantasy football refuge. While this is meant to provide you some winning options, you may be torn between them at some point, but perhaps the red zone data below can help you with tie breakers.
Drop Stacks on…
On this week’s main slate there aren’t that many top tier priced options, so the threshold of where we pay up versus save has been lowered for this week. For this week, $6000 is the mark where we will consider selections to be budget conscious.
Philip Rivers – $6800 vs Redskins
Many of the top priced QB options are playing outside of the main slate, so only Philip Rivers intrigues me in the upper tiers of price. Last week, he didn’t exactly dazzle us in a good match up against Cleveland, but he did throw for almost 350 yards plus a touchdown. Washington (Rivers’ next opponent) has gotten gashed recently by QBs allowing three 20+ point performances to the position since week nine, and given Rivers’ three straight weeks with a passer rating over 100 perhaps he will continue to produce for us against a Washington defense that gives up the yards in one place or another over their last six games except when they faced the Giants.
Alex Smith $6500 vs Raiders
The signal callers on both sides of this projected 47-point game are both interesting as both defenses have shown a propensity to give up lots of fantasy production. There is somewhat of this being a trap since their last meeting was such a nice game for fantasy (125 PPR points between four players), and I continue to have flashbacks to the Giants – Saints rematch a while back where many daily fantasy players were duped into thinking it would be a repeat of the previous. Let’s not let fear cause us to ignore the data though. Oakland is dead last in pass DVOA, giving up the 9th most points to passers, and ranked no higher than 21st in DVOA against all receiver types. The perception is there that the Chiefs are reeling, but it must be noted that Smith has posted passer ratings over 100 all but 4 games this season, and his last rating against Oakland was 127.3.
Derek Carr $6400 @ Chiefs
The Chiefs have given up the 2nd most passing yards and passing touchdowns on the season along with 20+ point performances numbering six to signal callers and seven to wide receivers. Crabtree’s return to the lineup is encouraging and maybe Cooper makes it through the concussion protocol for another receiving option against this horrible defense. Looking at Carr’s history against the Chiefs before this year calls for some caution, but it is really hard to pass up this opportunity.
Russell Wilson $6200 @ Jaguars
To be honest, there are no numbers in support of this option, but he is simply listed here for your consideration specifically for tournaments. Wilson wasn’t supposed to be a good option against the Eagles last week, but as we all found out, he eliminates the pass rush with his ability to escape backwards. The Jaguars are awesome, but they probably aren’t prepared to deal with the scramble drill that the Seahawks seem to have mastered at this point. Also, Blaine Gabbert put up almost 250 yards and 2 TDs against the Jaguars in week 12 so why not the scramble king, Russell Wilson? This will be the toughest match he has faced yet, but perhaps a he is a low-owned play that can be exploited.
Pinch Pennies With…
Josh McCown – $6000 @ Broncos
Let’s be real… Josh McCown has been legit this season and the Denver Broncos are a team reeling lately being unable to stop the run or the pass. McCown has six TDs and over 600 yards over his last two with one of those opponents being Carolina who has been stingy with fantasy points to QBs (10th least). This seems like the best option for the price and the potential upside. Many owners may be concerned about this match up which could impact his ownership, but don’t be scared and take advantage of this one.
Tom Savage – $4800 vs 49ers
This is not chasing points, but rather chasing opportunity. Savage is “bottom-of-the-barrel” cheap and he is throwing to one of the best targets in football in DeAndre Hopkins. While Savage is hardly the most inspiring name, we have to be inspired a little by the competition he faces. San Francisco gives up the third most points to passers and ranks 29th in pass DVOA. The 49ers also rank no higher than 25th in DVOA against all receiver types except the tight end. This is a straight-up dart throw, but the metrics indicate this could be a favorable spot in which to pinch pennies.
Many of of our favorite expensive options are busy playing in prime time this week so they will not be available to us this week. While there is only really one running back to consider paying up for, the penny pinching options allow us to spend up at receiver for which there are some pretty tasty options. As I said, there is one option I would consider paying up for in the right conditions.
LeSean McCoy $7200 vs Colts
Indy is dead last in DVOA vs pass catching backs while giving up the 6th most points and 3rd most yards to running backs. If Tyrod plays, this should be a no-brainer as the Colts have allowed four 20+ point performances to RBs and Shady has been able produce the same so far this season.
Lamar Miller $5800 vs 49ers
San Francisco is 10th worst in rush DVOA, 3rd worst in DVOA vs pass catching backs, and giving up the 2nd most rushing yards and fantasy points to the position. My trenches metric indicates they have the 4th best match up on the main slate. Andre Ellington did get a couple of carries, but he will likely be filling in more of a slot receiver role due to receiver injuries. Miller has been seeing around 19~ touches per game over the last three so the opportunity is there. Miller’s production has been down overall during this span, but consider that two of the last three opponents have been top 10 in rush DVOA and top 12 in stingiest defenses to running back fantasy points.
Alfred Morris $5500 @ Giants
Finally, Dallas has shown some sense and they stuck with Morris last week to the tune of 28 touches for 128 total scrimmage yards and a touchdown. His performance against Washington does give me a nudge to consider playing Melvin Gordon this week, but as for this week Morris faces the Giants. Morris should have no problem producing behind the Dallas offensive line against the 25th ranked defense in rush DVOA, and Dallas has the 5th best trenches match up on the main slate. Teams have averaged 144 rushing yards against New York over the past 5 games, so there is no reason to think that this o-line won’t be able to dominate in this game especially being tied for the second most expected red zone TDs this week.
Peyton Barber $4500 vs Lions
Detroit has allowed the second most rushing TDs on the season and 2 rushing TDs in each of their last five contests (GB, CLE, CHI, MIN, BAL), so why not Peyton Barber who had 27 touches for 143 scrimmage yards when being trusted with the rock last week against Green Bay. The Packers give up the 5th most points to running backs, and this week that situation improves for Barber as Detroit is giving up the 4th most points to ball carriers, has the 9th worst rush DVOA, and has allowed the most red zone touchdowns this season. Also take into consideration that Matthew Stafford sustained an injury to his throwing hand. This injury could make him less effective, thus providing more offensive opportunities to Tampa Bay. The only concern for Barber is if Doug Martin returns.
Jay Ajayi $4500 @ Rams
Ajayi hasn’t done much yet except a few big runs, but facing Rams who are 19th in DVOA versus the rush and pass catching backs while giving up the third most points to RBs. Additionally, they have allowed seven 20+ point performances to RBs, and the Eagles are tied for the second most expected red zone TDs per attempt this week. There is risk that Blount could eat into his carries, but the cost versus upside here is hard to pass up. Against Seattle, Ajayi had his most touches yet as an Eagle which is a change from what we had seen over the past couple of weeks. Perhaps the shift moves more in Ajayi’s direction in this juicy game which boasts one of the highest totals of the week.
As indicated in the running back section, this week is the week to spend up at receiver. Since we have so many options to be frugal at the running back position, it just makes sense to spend up here and hopefully maximize our point potential.
Drop Stacks On….
DeAndre Hopkins $8500 vs 49ers
If you buy Savage against the 49ers, then you must believe in his best receiving option. We should always by stock in any receiver getting 11.5 targets per game, especially in opportunities where that same receiver faces a defense that is 29th in pass DVOA and 27th in DVOA versus WR1s. Somehow the 49ers are giving up the 13 least points to the receiver position, but Hopkins should be able to dominate this defense that has five members of its secondary on IR.
Keenan Allen $8300 vs Redskins
If there is a way to play both of these options, I am all about it. Allen has had at least 13 targets in his last 3 games, and he has turned those opportunities into 145 yards per game and at least a touchdown. As for his opponent, Washington has given up two 20+ point performances to receivers of similar caliber since week 8. Josh Norman hasn’t been traveling, but even if he had been it wouldn’t be a concern because he seems to be a shell of himself before the rib injury. Allen should be worth that money we probably saved on running backs.
Tyreek Hill $7100 vs Raiders
Last time Hill saw the Raiders was when he was burning them on their field for 125 yards and two touchdowns. Is it too much to think that he can’t have a repeat performance at home? Sure the Raiders are middle of the pack in fantasy points to receivers, but we know there is no one on this secondary that can deal with Hill’s speed and growing route running ability. If we believe in Smith, then you have to believe in the capability and opportunity Hill has in this projected 47-point game. Of course this could very well be a Travis Kelce game, but Oakland has to be expecting that so maybe there could still be opportunities for Hill to give us a solid baseline for our GPP scores. Hill’s volatility makes him a tournament play that may allow you to set your lineup apart.
Pinch Pennies With…
Michael Crabtree $6700/Amari Cooper $5800 @ Chiefs
This divisional is a divisional game that I hope has the fireworks of the first meeting. Crabtree returns from his suspension after getting his chain stolen for a second time, and just maybe he is playing with a giant chip on his shoulder for this one. This is a great comeback game since Kansas City is giving up the second most points to receivers which includes seven 20+ point performances to the position (2 such performances since week 9). Cooper has cleared the concussion protocol, and just maybe something about the Chiefs brings another crazy performance out of him. He is still dealing with an ankle injury though, and if he doesn’t then I may look to pinch even more pennies with Johnny Holton or Cordarrelle Patterson.
Larry Fitzgerald $6500 vs Titans
Since week 9, the Titans have given up three 20+ point performances to receivers with the following names: Antonio Brown, A.J. Green, Brandon Lafell. Larry Fitzgerald is just as notable a name and, based on recent weeks, I imagine he will join this list of mostly esteemed names. Larry has been quite the target hog since week 10, averaging 10+ targets per game. Larry has also been quite the producer with 9 receptions and around 100 yards in 3 of the last 4 games and a score in 2 of the last 4 games. It’s clear that Gabbert is building chemistry with his best receiver, and this is the type of connection and production we can take to the bank. The Titans will provide plenty of opportunity as they are giving up the 7th most points to receivers.
Josh Gordon $5500 vs Packers
Due to expected ownership this is probably more of a cash game play, but how on earth can one consider passing on an opportunity to play Josh Gordon. The one word that comes to mind watching last week’s game against the Chargers is “chemistry”. That’s not to say that chemistry exists between Gordon and Kizer, but if chemistry is building, this could be a potentially sneaky stack against a Packers defense that is giving up the 4th most points to receivers. Green Bay gives us more confidence for the potential here being ranked 30th and 27th in DVOA against WR1s and WR2s respectively. Kizer hyper-targeted Gordon last week at 7.73 air yards per attempt, which is at least one air yard more than one of the top receivers in the game in DeAndre Hopkins. Keep in mind Gordon’s competition last week was against one of the better pass defenses in the game, which should remove all inhibitions to playing Gordon this week, especially at this price
Sterling Shepard $5300 vs Cowboys
This could be a potential steal here if he plays. Eli should be returning to the lineup, and with Eli, Shepard hasn’t seen less than 9 targets per game since his return from injury. While he didn’t score any touchdowns, it should just be a matter of time. In this divisional game, the competitive juices should be flowing, and Eli has shown in the past that he can beat defenses like this one in Dallas, currently boasting a pass defense ranked 26th in DVOA and giving up the 3rd most points to receivers. Since week 9, the Cowboys have given up two 20+ point performances to receivers for an average of 25 fantasy points.
Trent Taylor $3300 @ Texans
And at the bottom of the bargain bin we have Trent Taylor. We have a 1-game sample size with Garoppolo as the signal caller, but for Trent Taylor to make sense we must remember who Garoppolo learned under: Tom Brady. Brady consistently used Edelman in the same way Taylor was being used against the Bears. Taylor is no Edelman, but his stature, quickness, and skillset are all similar. Perhaps this is the beginning of a long term relationship between quarterback and possession receiver. Taylor had 6 receptions for 94 yards, which would be good for 15 fantasy points, or roughly 5x the value. That’s great return on fantasy investment as we normally rate good value as 3x value. The Bears were middle of the pack in fantasy points given up to receivers, but the Texans are much worse giving up the 9th most points to backs and the 2nd most points to QBs. Trent Taylor is sure to be low-owned providing opportunity for your GPP lineups.
Drop Stacks On…
Travis Kelce $7400 vs Raiders
If we plan to target this game based on the points of its last iteration, we have to take a close look at Kelce who has had five 20+ point performances this year. Oakland has given up two such performances, they currently rank 25th in DVOA to tight ends, and give up the 7th most points to the position. We know that this offense runs through three people: Smith, Hill, and Kelce, so if we are buying into these points (47-point total) then he is the clear choice when paying up.
Evan Engram $6000 vs Cowboys
Eli‘s return to starting status is good for Engram’s value as well. He was able to produce with Geno Smith last week against Oakland (inspiring for Kelce), so he should be able to produce against a defense giving up the 6th most fantasy to tight ends. In week 9, Kelce scored 20 points against the Cowboys, so that also gives us some level of comfort in this selection.
Pinch Pennies With…
Austin Seferian-Jenkins $3600 @ Broncos
No More Almost-Touchdowns Please! ASJ seems to have had numerous TDs stolen from him via penalties or reviews. We have seen the potential that ASJ offers, and Denver happens to give up the 3rd most points to the position. Denver has given up two 20+ point performances to tight ends this year, perhaps ASJ can be the third while winning us a GPP!
Los Angeles Chargers $3600 vs Redskins
Washington has shown an ability to score, but the Chargers have held their last two opponents to 10 points or less. Add on top of that the injuries sustained on the Washington offensive line, and there is an opportunity for the Chargers D to get some pressure. Looking at the last few games for each team, Los Angeles has generated at least two turnovers over the each of the last four games, and the Redskins have turned over the ball three times in their last two games. Turnovers forced and the low amount of points allowed by the Chargers seem like a recipe for a good defensive fantasy outing.
Seattle Seahawks $3100 @ Jaguars
Given last week’s performance against one of the better offenses in the league, the Seahawks held the Eagles to 10 points. Red zone data indicates that the Jags are tied for the second least expected red zone TDs. How is it that the Seahawks are priced as though they cannot handle Blake Bortles? Bortles has played way better than he has in recent years, but it’s hard to say that he has truly leveled up. Bortles will face a different type of pressure this week, and it is likely this pressure will have him regressing back a little bit. Seattle should be able to get a few picks and some sacks too. Take advantage of this lower-priced opportunity.