Week 14 daily fantasy advice: Previewing the week in DFS
We’ve somehow reached Week 14, which means there are only four weeks left of regular-season DFS left this year. Last week featured a mix of ups and downs, with players like Jordan Howard predictably going off but others, like Drew Brees, inexplicably struggling in plus spots.
But we’re putting Week 13 behind us and looking forward to Week 14. 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.
The Thursday-Monday DFS slate features the Raiders-Chiefs tilt on Thursday night, and the Patriots-Ravens game on Monday night. I’m not overly interested in either of these matchups. The Raiders are on the road in a divisional game, and while Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree and Latavius Murray should find success, I don’t feel the need to jam them into a lineup coming off a short week while traveling halfway across the country. Meanwhile, Patriots-Ravens games are typically ugly affairs. I’m staying away and just sticking with the main slate — or playing the Thursday-Monday slate but fading the primetime games.
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We’re all done with bye weeks, so we get a Sunday filled with action, featuring nine early games, four late afternoon games and the usual Sunday night matchup, which this week features the Cowboys and Giants — a game I’m definitely examining. More on that below.
Below are my early-week musings in DFS for Week 14.
(Note: I’m providing only DraftKings and FanDuel salaries as I live in Florida, where Yahoo does not operate.)
I was (mistakenly) on Drew Brees last week, but I’m abandoning ship in Week 14 as the New Orleans Saints travel south to face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Brees should be fine, but as the most expensive quarterback with poor home-road splits — facing a defense that’s better than everyone gives it credit for — he’s not a guy I want much, if any, exposure to. Over the past four weeks, the Buccaneers have given up an average of just 205 passing yards and one passing touchdown per game.
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Cam Newton is a tale of two sites this week. He’s completely unplayable on DraftKings, where he costs an inexplicable $7,200 — second-most among quarterbacks. He’s much more affordable on FanDuel, at $7,800 as the 12th-most-expensive option. I have no real explanation as to why he’s so drastically different on the two sites, but do I know that FanDuel is closer to reality here. Newton has been ugly, but he’s still worth a shot on FanDuel in tournaments because he does still possess immense upside. Plus, the Chargers rank 27th in pass defense, and it’s a home game for the Panthers.
Andy Dalton is in play as a quarterback who should go mostly overlooked despite a fantastic matchup against the Cleveland Browns, who have given up the second-most fantasy points to quarterbacks so far this year. Dalton costs just $7,700 on FanDuel and $6,100 on DraftKings. The loss of A.J. Green has negatively impacted Dalton’s fantasy output — as was to be expected — but the Browns defense should be the requisite remedy. They have given up multiple passing scores in all but two games this year, and have ceded three touchdowns to opposing quarterbacks in seven games, including three of their past four.
Kirk Cousins is another player I’m looking at. He’s an affordable $6,300 on DraftKings and an even more affordable $7,600 on FanDuel. Cousins is averaging over 350 yards and two touchdowns per game over his past six outings. Up next is a home game against the Philadelphia Eagles, a defense that was stout against the pass early in the season but has started to crumble in recent weeks, having given up back-to-back 300-plus yard, two-touchdown games. Cousins gained 263 yards and scored twice when playing in Philadelphia earlier in the year.
I write about him every week, but David Johnson saw such a big price jump on both sites (he’s $9,800 on DraftKings now, and $9,700 on FanDuel) that he’s worth reviewing again. You really can’t ever go wrong with Johnson in your lineup, but I don’t feel the burning need to make it work with him this week. The Dolphins have given up just five rushing touchdowns to opposing running backs this year — tied for fifth-fewest in the league — and have surrendered only two scores to backs through the air as well. This isn’t to say that Johnson is completely matchup-proof (he is); it’s just not a butter matchup. Johnson was much easier to play in Week 11 when he cost just $7,900.
LeSean McCoy is the expensive running back I’m most interested in this week. He’s $8,200 on DraftKings and $8,300 on FanDuel. He’s the fourth-priciest on both sites. McCoy has an excellent home matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers, who rank 29th in rush defense. McCoy scored 29.1 DraftKings points last week, despite the fact he was vultured twice at the goal line. He scored another 32.4 DraftKings points in Week 12. His hand injury is clearly not impacting his fantasy production.
I’m also interested in DeMarco Murray this week. I don’t get the sense that people have caught on to the fact that the Denver Broncos are not good against the run, so this could be a contrarian play as well. He’s only $7,000 on DraftKings — the second-cheapest he has been since Week 4. He’s a lock for 20-plus touches, and against Denver’s 23rd-ranked run defense, he’s one of my favorite early-week contrarian plays.
Looking further down the list, I think Carlos Hyde is an interesting play in Week 14. He’s only $4,900 on DraftKings and $6,900 on FanDuel. Hyde has averaged over 20 touches per week since returning to full health in Week 11, and he’s averaging nearly 4.7 yards per carry in that span. The Jets have been gashed by rushing attacks over the past four weeks, having surrendered 140 yards to the Dolphins, 104 to the Rams, 91 to the Patriots and 109 to the Colts.
Odell Beckham Jr. is always a viable tournament play, and I think I’ll have more exposure to him this week than the field. Not only is he more affordable than the other top wideouts this week — he’s $8,000 on DraftKings and $8,500 on FanDuel — but he has been on a tear over the past five weeks. In that span, Beckham ranks tied for first in targets (54), he’s fifth in yards (385), second in touchdowns (five) and third in PPR fantasy points (103). He has surpassed 20 DraftKigns points in four of his past five games, and five of his past seven. I like him at home against the Cowboys, who have the second-lowest-graded pass rush in the league. That should give Eli Manning plenty of time to find OBJ downfield.
T.Y. Hilton has a daunting red “4th” next to his name, indicating that the matchup against the Houston Texans is tough. That should scare some people away, but I’m rolling with Hilton at home this week. It’s true that the Texans have been strong against receivers on the year as a whole, having given up the third-fewest fantasy points to the position. But there have been cracks in the armor in recent weeks. The Texans have given up 15-170-1, 16-203-2 and 14-170-2 lines to opposing receiving groups in three of their past four games.
Tyrell Williams is one of my favorite plays of the week. He’s only $6,100 on DraftKings and $6,800 on FanDuel. His Chargers take on the reeling Panthers, who have been abysmal against the pass all season long. Williams has a touchdown in four straight games. And despite the fact he caught just two of four targets in Week 13, I’m not concerned: He saw 25 total targets in his two previous games.
Much further down the list is DeSean Jackson, who costs $5,100 on DraftKings and $5,800 on FanDuel. I noted above that I like Kirk Cousins this week, and I think one of my favorite tournament stacks will be Cousins-Jackson. The Eagles have given up the sixth-most fantasy points to opposing wideouts so far this year, and they have given up the second-most receiving yards to the position. Jackson should face Leodis McKelvin on the majority of his routes, and McKelvin has given up the most fantasy points per route run among all cornerbacks this year. And if all of this doesn’t convince you Jackson is a good play this week, there’s always the Revenge Game narrative.
If you roll with Andy Dalton, then you can stack him with Tyler Eifert. Eifert has returned to his touchdown-scoring ways, and he gets the best tight end matchup in the NFL this week against the Cleveland Browns. Not much needs to be said other than, “Play Tyler Eifert. He’s good and the Browns are not.” Eifert has not been as consistent as we’d like — his 29 targets since returning to full health only rank 11th at the position — but he does rank fifth in points per game in that span, and he has scored in three of those five games.
C.J. Fiedorowicz has been tough to pinpoint this year, mostly because he and Ryan Griffin continue to cannibalize each others’ value. However, it’s a plus matchup for the Texans tight ends in Week 14 against the Indianapolis Colts. I like Fiedorowicz more, particularly on DraftKings, where he gets a full point per reception. Since Week 5, Fiedorowicz ranks tied for third among all tight ends with 55 targets. The Colts also gave up a 9-116-1 line to Houston tight ends in Week 6.
Jason Witten put up a goose egg last week, but I like him to bounce back in Week 14 against the New York Giants, who are a below-average team at defending tight ends. The Giants have given up a score to tight ends in two of their past three games, and they were just demolished to the tune of 9-142-1 by Pittsburgh tight ends in Week 13. Witten was targeted a season-high 14 times against the Giants back in Week 1. He’s a strong bounce-back candidate, and he costs only $3,100 on DraftKings and $5,100 on FanDuel.
Antonio Gates is another “old man option” this week. He plays against the Carolina Panthers, who have given up a (tied for) league-high nine receiving scores to tight ends this year. By choosing Gates, you’re making a beeline for a “four catches for 35 yards” stat line, but I’d say there’s also a better than 50-50 chance of him scoring.