DRAFT Daily Fantasy Helper: Week 14
Week 14 has the marking of an interesting slate. James Conner and Melvin Gordon rank among the top running backs, but Conner's been ruled out and Gordon hasn't been practicing. At other positions, injuries to Emmanuel Sanders, A.J. Green, and Greg Olsen further thin the slate.
Either way, with many fantasy owners missing the playoffs or drawing dead due to injuries, weekly snake drafts can serve as an outlet for the fantasy itch.
DRAFT provides a way for people to remain involved with snake or auction drafts, where people pick and choose their own preferred fantasy options each week. Here are this week's notable plays.
Jameis Winston - Through four games played start to finish, Jameis Winston has at least 249 passing yards and 24 rushing yards in each game. In these games, Winston has averaged 330.25 passing yards and 6.75 rushing attempts. Often a mid-to-late round pick, Winston could be the steal of weekly snake drafts.
As a team (Winston and Ryan Fitzpatrick combined), Tampa Bay ranks fourth in the NFL with 479 pass attempts. This week, Winston will throw against a soft New Orleans Saints' defense at home. The Saints have allowed the second-most passing yards this season (3,581), including 377 and 249 to Matt Ryan and Dak Prescott each of the last two weeks. Coming into last week, Tampa Bay had attempted over 1,000 more air yards than the second-highest team, further boosting Winston's outlook.
This game also sits with the highest over/under on the slate (55.5 points). As an eight-point underdog, Winston should throw early and often in this contest. Also boosting the shootout potential in this contest, Tampa Bay's pass defense ranks third-worst, according to our schedule-adjusted metrics. They rank just behind the Saints with the third-most passing yards allowed (3,507).
The Saints are projected to score frequently, so Winston should see elevated usage in the passing game. He provides both a floor and ceiling for one-week drafts.
Baker Mayfield - Over his past four games, Baker Mayfield has averaged 292 passing yards per game and recorded multiple touchdown passes in three of those four games. With the Cleveland Browns' offense surging under new offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens, Mayfield looks like a value in the final rounds on DRAFT.
This week, Mayfield takes on a struggling Carolina Panthers' secondary that has allowed the fifth-most passing yards (1,133) over the last four weeks. They also rank 28th in pass defense on the season, according to our metrics.
The game environment also sets up nicely for Mayfield, with the Browns pegged as two-point underdogs. This game comes in with a modest 47-point over/under, but Cleveland's own pass defense struggles enhance the shootout potential. On the year, they have allowed the fourth-most passing yards to opposing quarterbacks (3,503).
Just last week, Mayfield ripped 397 passing yards, showing his upside as a passer. For those employing a late-round quarterback strategy, Mayfield looks like a solid pick.
Ezekiel Elliott - With Christian McCaffrey, Todd Gurley, and Saquon Barkley usually comprising the top three picks in one order or another, Ezekiel Elliott offers the same upside in the back half of the first round.
Elliott has handled at least 25 touches in each of the Dallas Cowboys' last 4 games, including at least six targets. He also draws a Philadelphia Eagles' defense that has collapsed against the run, allowing the third-most rushing yards over the last four weeks (556). Per our metrics, the Eagles rank 25th against the run.
Playing at home and favored by 3.5 points, game script projects to favor Elliott. Handling a shocking 52.5% of of the Cowboys' touches, Zeke provides one of the top floors in all of fantasy football. Coming at a slight discount, Elliott should remain a fixture on weekly fantasy teams.
Sony Michel - Now playing in a three-man committee with James White and Rex Burkhead, Sony Michel has fallen to the mid/late rounds on DRAFT. However, his usage and projected game script indicate a potential blow-up spot for the rookie.
Since returning from injury, Michel has touch counts of 11, 23, and 18, with his 11-touch game coming in a New England Patriots' loss. Pegged as 7.5-point favorites over the Miami Dolphins, Michel should be in line for 15+ touches in favorable game script. The last time these two teams faced off, Michel notched 112 rushing yards and a score on 25 carries.
On the year, Miami has allowed the fourth-most rushing yards to backs (1,404) and ranks 28th in rush defense, per our metrics. Also noteworthy for Michel, the Patriots used two running backs on a league-high 32% of offensive plays in Week 13, potentially aiding his usage going forward.
Overall, with game script and matchup working in his favor, Michel remains a solid mid-round target at the running back position for Week 14.
LeSean McCoy - Wasting away on a disappointing Buffalo Bills team, LeSean McCoy enters perhaps his only positive matchup of the entire season. Often falling to the final rounds of snake drafts, McCoy provides a solid floor at cost for those looking at cheap running backs.
Quietly, McCoy has 18 touches in each of his last 3 games, averaging just over 70 yards per game over that span. He will also face a New York Jets' team that has allowed the eighth-most rushing yards over the last four weeks (464) and ranks inside the bottom-10 run defenses, per our metrics.
McCoy also has game script favoring his side, which has become a rare occurrence in 2018. Buffalo enters this contest at home and favored by 3.5 points, providing McCoy a path to fantasy success.
With the Jets recently allowing McCoy to rush for 113 yards and 2 scores in Week 10, he should again be targeted this week as a late-round flier at the running back position.
Antonio Brown - Following a "slow" 9-catch, 67-yard game, Antonio Brown again showed his upside, recording 154 yards on 10 catches in Week 13. With the bell-cow running backs dominating the first round of weekly snake drafts, Brown provides a solid contrarian pick, especially with Pittsburgh working with a two-back approach in place of Conner.
On the year, Brown ranks first in targets (134), second in air yards (1,535), and first in touchdowns (12). This volume is boosted by Pittsburgh league-leading 67% pass rate on 539 attempts. Brown also has the benefit of facing a hapless Oakland Raiders' secondary, ranking 31st by our metrics.
The Steelers enter this contest favored by 11-points and implied for 32.25. However, Conner's loss should mean additional attempts for Ben Roethlisberger and subsequently, his pass catchers. With arguably the highest ceiling on the slate, Brown remains a solid first round pick and an auto-selection whenever he slides to the second.
T.Y. Hilton - After posting 8 catches for 67 yards against Jalen Ramsey and the Jacksonville Jaguars defense, T.Y. Hilton enters a bounce-back spot against the Houston Texans. Due to a perceived bad matchup, Hilton often slides to the third or fourth round, creating a potential edge for fantasy.
Since returning from injury, Hilton's target counts have risen on a weekly basis. Since the bye, Hilton has recorded 7,9,10, and 13 targets in his last 4 games. Houston has defended opposing passing attacks well of late, but they have also benefited from three consecutive games against teams in the bottom-half of our pass offense rankings. In two of those games they faced the Washington Redskins and Cleveland Browns, who both rank in the bottom-five.
The Indianapolis Colts already pass at the seventh-highest rate in football (63%) but also enter this contest as 4.5-point underdogs. This bodes well for all of Andrew Luck's pass catchers, and primarily Hilton. Sliding into the later rounds of weekly snake drafts, Hilton provides a nice complement to a running back-centric approach.
Amari Cooper - Sometimes going undrafted, Amari Cooper provides sneaky value against an Philadelphia Eagles' secondary that has been absolutely decimated with injuries.
Since joining the Cowboys, Cooper holds a massive 25% target share and 32% air yards share. While the Cowboys remain a run-focused team, a matchup against Philadelphia looks too good to pass up. Philadelphia has allowed the fifth-most receiving yards over the last four weeks (741) and again project to miss Jalen Mills and Avonte Maddox.
Noted above, the Cowboys come into this contest favored by 3.5 points and implied for 23.25 points. While scoring opportunities could be limited, Cooper's target share and air yards share keep him in play as a late-round dart-throw at the receiver position this week.