Week 13 daily fantasy advice: Previewing the week in DFS
Thanksgiving’s three-game slate brought with it high scores and some fantastic DFS lineups. Sunday’s main slate brought tough sledding. Here’s the stat that sums it all up: Drew Brees scored five total touchdowns at home, but Brandin Cooks scored no fantasy points. Okay, then!
Despite the difficulties of Week 12, we’re back at it for Week 13’s DFS action. As usual, this column will provide some thoughts on players, salaries, matchups or anything else I find noteworthy in my initial pass through the players on DraftKings and FanDuel for Sunday’s main slate.
If you are thinking of playing the Thursday-Monday slate, this is definitely a worthwhile week. Ezekiel Elliott, Dak Prescott, Dez Bryant and Stefon Diggs are all available on the Thursday night game, while (hopefully) Andrew Luck, T.Y. Hilton, Frank Gore, Donte Moncrief, Matt Forte and Brandon Marshall are all playing on Monday night.
The Cleveland Browns and Tennessee Titans are also, strangely, on bye this week. Terrelle Pryor, Marcus Mariota, Delanie Walker, Rishard Matthews and DeMarco Murray owners weep.
Even with two teams on bye, we still have a 13-game main slate to get us through Week 13, with eight early games, four late afternoon games, and the usual Sunday night showdown — this time between the Carolina Panthers and Seattle Seahawks.
Below are my early-week musings in DFS for Week 13.
(Note: I’m providing only DraftKings and FanDuel salaries as I live in Florida, where Yahoo does not operate.)
Drew Brees is the most expensive quarterback on both DraftKings ($7,600) and FanDuel ($9,300), but he could be worth the extra cash — particularly on DraftKings, where he really isn’t much more expensive than other top-tier quarterbacks. Brees draws a home game against the Detroit Lions, who have given up the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks so far this year. That stat is even worse when you look at who the Lions have played. Since Week 4, the only good quarterback the Lions have defensed was Kirk Cousins (Week 7).
I’m interested in going back to Russell Wilson this week. He’s the 11th-most-expensive quarterback on both DraftKings ($6,300) and FanDuel ($7,700). Most will be off of him after he fizzled up as a chalk play in Week 12. But he’ll be playing at home against the Carolina Panthers, who have given up the sixth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks so far this year. Wilson also found his legs in Week 12, racking up 80 rushing yards on eight attempts. From Weeks 1 to 11, he gained 79 total rushing yards.
Alex Smith is only $5,400 on DraftKings and $7,000 on FanDuel — near the bottom of quarterback pricing on both sites — and he has a juicy matchup against the Atlanta Falcons in a dome, but I still don’t think I can bring myself to start him, even in tournaments. This is basically a best-case scenario for Smith, so the fact I’m still leery of him essentially means I’m unwilling to play him at all for the rest of the year. He has only two games with 20-plus DraftKings points and four games with fewer than 10.
If you are looking for savings, Tyrod Taylor remains undervalued. He’s $5,700 on DraftKings and $7,400 on FanDuel. He has logged at least 15 DraftKings points in all but one game since Week 2, and he has scored 18-plus points in five of his last six. He’s a great bet to return at least 3x value on his small salary.
David Johnson is just an instant-start at this point. It doesn’t matter who he is playing. It really doesn’t. But he does get a fantastic matchup against the Washington Redskins in Week 13, who have given up the sixth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs this year. Johnson will be the chalk (again), but it’s not a train I’m willing to miss. He’s not even the most expensive running back on FanDuel.
I’m a little annoyed that Jordan Howard is overpriced on both sites. He’s the sixth-most-expensive running back on FanDuel ($7,400) and the fifth-priciest on DraftKings ($6,900). He has a fantastic matchup against the San Francisco 49ers — and I want to play him — but I think he’s been priced out of my range. He’s been a high-volume guy with little touchdown upside. It’s hard to pay top dollar for that.
I’m secretly hoping everyone goes back to Thomas Rawls on DraftKings this week at $5,900, because I want to play Theo Riddick at $5,800. Riddick will be playing on the fast track in New Orleans, and he has retained his high floor throughout the season thanks to his work in the passing game. He has 57 targets this year, tied for third among running backs. I think this is a good spot for Riddick to hit his impressive ceiling.
Scavenging for savings at running back appears difficult this week. Philadelphia’s Wendell Smallwood and Darren Sproles are options, but it’s difficult to recommend one over the other at this point. My eyes ultimately land on Jeremy Hill, who is $5,800 on FanDuel and $4,300 on DraftKings. With Giovani Bernard sidelined, Hill picked up a ton of extra receiving work — and that wasn’t necessarily a given, so it was nice to see. He caught six of six targets last week. He had seen six targets in his previous five games combined. The Eagles have been strong against the run all season, but they have given up rushing scores in two straight games. Hill is not a fantastic play, but he’s definitely one of the more viable cheap running backs this week.
Put Julio Jones into your lineup and then forget about it. And if you’re worried about Marcus Peters, don’t be. He plays LCB and hasn’t shadowed once this season. Jones only runs about 28 percent of his snaps from the RWR position. The other roughly 70 percent of the time, he’ll be free from Peters. Also, Jones is better than Peters, so I’m not worried about him on those 28 percent of snaps either.
Give me Odell Beckham Jr. this week as well. He’s the second-priciest option on FanDuel ($9,000) and the fourth-most-expensive on DraftKings ($8,500). His matchup also commands the ominous red “5th” next to his name on DraftKings, indicating that it’s a supposedly tough draw. The combination of his price and the red “5th” might keep some people away. If the Steelers don’t shadow (which they haven’t done in the majority of games this year), then Beckham should see his fair share of Artie Burns, who has given up 0.38 fantasy points per route run against him this year, one of the 15 worst rates in the league.
I’m willing to go back to Brandin Cooks this week. He’s $6,400 on DraftKings and $6,800 on FanDuel. He’s a tournament-only play for me, but nobody is going to own him after he wasn’t even targeted in Week 12. But it’s essentially the same situation this week as it was last week, and he was the chalk last week: It’s a home game against a burnable secondary. I’m going back to the well, albeit will a little less exposure than I had in Week 12.
Kenny Britt is in play against the New England Patriots in Week 13. He’s $5,000 on DraftKings — a $400 drop in salary from last week — and $6,900 on FanDuel, a $200 drop. I’m much more interested in him on DraftKings, because he’s so much cheaper. Britt has seen 27 targets in his three previous games, and the Patriots have been scorched by passing attacks all season long. Britt is also 6-foot-3, over two inches taller than any starting Patriots corner and a full four inches taller than Malcolm Butler.
Jimmy Graham is the top tight end play this week. Jordan Reed is banged up and playing against the Arizona Cardinals, who have been brilliant against tight ends this year. Rob Gronkowski is also banged up and playing the Los Angeles Rams, who have been a top-10 team against tight ends this year. Reed and Gronkowski are virtually matchup-proof, but their question marks — coupled with Graham’s fantastic matchup against the Carolina Panthers, who have given up the second-most points to the position — make it easy for me to pass on the top tier and settle on Graham.
If you’re making multiple tournament lineups, you should also consider Travis Kelce. I know I said I’m off Alex Smith, but I am most definitely on Kelce. Since Week 8, Kelce has seen 46 targets, 30 receptions and 399 yards. He leads all tight ends in those three major categories. In fact, his 46 targets rank sixth in the league in that span, regardless of position. And the Atlanta Falcons have given up the fifth-most fantasy points to tight ends this year.
If you can’t pay up for tight end — which, admittedly, might be a hard thing to do this week — then you can consider going way down the line to Will Tye in tournaments. He’s minimum-priced at $4,500 on FanDuel and he’s only $3,000 on DraftKings. The Steelers have been slightly below average against tight ends this year, and they gave up a score to the position in Week 11 and over 100 yards to tight ends in Week 12. Since taking over as the Giants starting tight end in Week 9, Tye has run 118 pass routes (about 30 per game). He’s averaging just over five targets per game in that span. Tye is not a safe bet, but he’s a worthwhile dart throw.