DraftKings Daily Fantasy Football Helper: Week 11
The daily fantasy football games offered on FanDuel and DraftKings have many similarities, but one distinct difference is that DraftKings uses full PPR scoring. Much like you would in season-long leagues, that means we must evaluate players slightly differently on each site. In this space, we'll help you on the DraftKings side of the equation.
Be sure to pay attention to inactives prior to Sunday's games. Similar to late scratches in the NBA, injuries can have a huge impact on playing time, and great values can open up for you at the last minute. At a position like running back, a low-priced backup can suddenly find his way into a feature role and become an excellent play.
Also, check out numberFire's premium tools at your disposal. In particular, the heat map is a great way to get a general overview of the slate's implied totals, and every team's strengths and weaknesses.
Now, let's run through this week's top plays on the DraftKings main slate.
Tom Brady ($7,400): Last week, Tom Brady and the New England Patriots came out of the bye with a vengeance, routing the normally stout Denver Broncos defense for 41 points on the road. Now, imagine what Brady and friends might be able to do in Mexico against the Oakland Raiders, who rank dead-last against the pass by numberFire's schedule-adjusted Net Expected Points (NEP) metrics. The Raiders also sit at the bottom in sacks (13), and Football Outsiders' adjusted sack rate. The Patriots have the highest implied total on the board (30.5), and Brady hasn't scored below 17 DraftKings points since Week 1. You're going to want a piece of this offense this week, and excluding price, Brady is the slate's top overall quarterback.
Alex Smith ($6,700): If you can't get up to Brady, then ol' Alex Smith is hardly a bad consolation prize. The Kansas City Chiefs are coming off their bye, and as you may have heard, Andy Reid's teams are 16-2 coming out of bye weeks. If that wasn't enticing enough, the Chiefs get the listless New York Giants, who just coughed up 31 points to the then-winless San Francisco 49ers in Week 10. The Giants rank 27th against the pass by numberFire's metrics, and the Chiefs have a robust implied team total (27.75). Shedding the "game manager" label this year, Smith has already thrown more touchdowns than all of last season (18), and has as good a shot as any of being the top-scoring fantasy quarterback this week.
Blake Bortles ($5,200): In the bargain bin, we find Ryan Fitzpatrick and Blaine Gabbert as viable value plays in good matchups, but the safest one is arguably, gulp, Blake Bortles. Although the Jacksonville Jaguars typically like to "hide" Bortles by running the ball at the highest rate in the league, the matchup against the Cleveland Browns should lead to a more pass-heavy approach, as they rank 5th against the run and 30th against the pass by numberFire's marks. As crazy as it sounds, Bortles has actually shown a reasonable floor lately, surpassing 16 DraftKings points in three straight games, and he's also usually good for a couple points on the ground, averaging 21.2 rushing yards a game. And it's not like Bortles hasn't shown a little upside on occasion, throwing for 330 yards against the Indianapolis Colts, and tossing 4 touchdowns against the Baltimore Ravens in London.
Kareem Hunt ($8,000): The Kareem Hunt hype train has slowed down considerably, but now is the time to hop back on board. We've learned over the course of the season that despite Hunt's involvement in the passing game, he's still a game script dependent running back, and the Chiefs will elect to go with Charcandrick West if they fall behind. This was no more apparent than in Week 9's loss to the Dallas Cowboys, where Hunt saw a disappointing season-low 54% of the snaps and 13 touches. All that being said, with the Chiefs sitting pretty as 10.5-point favorites over the Giants, negative game scripts isn't something we should be worrying about against the Giants. Hunt has averaged 23 touches in the Chiefs' wins, and is a good bet to end his scoring drought.
Mark Ingram ($8,100) and Alvin Kamara ($7,500): The New Orleans Saints running backs made mincemeat of the Buffalo Bills in Week 10, with both Mark Ingram (34.1) and Alvin Kamara (27.8) putting up ridiculous DraftKings scores. The Washington run defense isn't the turnstile that Buffalo's is, but the Saints are 7.5-point home favorites with a 29.25 implied team total, and both of these backs are seeing enough work to keep rolling them out. Since the Adrian Peterson trade, Ingram has held a substantial edge in touches per game (23.6) compared to Kamara (14.4), which gives him the nod in cash games, but both remain strong plays. It's worth noting that Ingram has only seen 1 target over the last two games, which is a slight concern after averaging 5.4 targets over the previous seven.
Melvin Gordon ($7,600): Speaking of the Bills, that's who the Los Angeles Chargers get this week, which puts Melvin Gordon on the table. Considering last week's disaster against the Saints, it won't surprise you to learn that the Bills are the worst-ranked defense against the run by numberFire's schedule-adjusted marks. Despite the tantalizing matchup, Gordon isn't without his concerns. He's inefficient as a runner, with just a 31.3% success rate -- on par with the likes of Ameer Abdullah and C.J. Anderson -- and backup Austin Ekeler has been nipping at his heels lately, seeing 15 touches and 33% of the snaps in Week 9 against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Still, even with Ekeler beginning to infringe on his territory, over the last three games Gordon has seen a strong 37.1% of the carries and targets for the Chargers, and should see plenty of volume and scoring potential as a 4.0-point home favorite.
Rex Burkhead ($3,600): It feels like practically every Patriots running back has had his time in the sun at some point this season, and Rex Burkhead is the latest one to see his stock rise. With Mike Gillislee inactive last week, Burkhead saw a season-high 51% of the snaps and 13 touches, all the while showing the kind of versatility Bill Belichick loves, which should keep him heavily involved in the game plan. Of course, Dion Lewis and James White aren't going anywhere, so Burkhead's ceiling remains capped, but he's cheaper than both, and is the most likely to see reliable work in both the running and passing game. Burkhead is one of the best values on the slate, and gives you easy exposure to the Patriots offense.
Mike Evans ($7,900): As the highest-priced wide receiver, Mike Evans is more suited for tournaments, but he's in the ideal spot to bounce back following a Week 9 dud against the Saints and last week's suspension. The Miami Dolphins did their best Giants impression in Week 10, getting knocked around for 45 points by the Carolina Panthers, and sit as the 29th-ranked pass defense by numberFire's marks. Even with Ryan Fitzpatrick at the helm, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers should be able to get things going on offense. Evans has seen at least 8 targets in all but one game, and is one of team's top red zone threats.
Brandin Cooks ($6,600): Seeing 8 or more targets in four of the last five games, with Chris Hogan out against Denver, Brandin Cooks saw 30% of the team's targets and 45% of the air yards last week. We should expect to see more of the same against a leaky Oakland defense, and Cooks makes for a nice pairing with Tom Brady.
Sterling Shepard ($6,300): The Giants may be a dead team walking, but the good news is we know exactly where the targets are going to go. In the two games since Sterling Shepard returned from injury, he's seen target totals of 9 and 13, and is coming off a huge performance against the San Francisco 49ers with 11 receptions and 142 yards. The Chiefs have allowed the most fantasy points per game to wide receivers, and Eli Manning will likely be looking Shepard's way early and often as the Giants try to keep up with the vaunted Kansas City offense.
Jamison Crowder ($4,300): Jamison Crowder has risen from the dead like everyone's favorite Undertaker gifs, and has now seen a whopping 24 targets over the last two games. That, my friends, is fantasy gold, and Crowder is priced under $5,000. He's benefited while Jordan Reed has been out, who is still hobbled and looking like a game-time decision this week. The Saints are no longer pushovers on defense, but Crowder will avoid their tough perimeter cornerbacks out of the slot, and Kirk Cousins should be throwing often in a game with an appealing 51.0 over/under.
Bruce Ellington ($3,000): Grabbing a piece of the Houston Texans offense might feel a little scary these days, but Bruce Ellington has seen 8 targets in each of the last two games, and coach Bill O'Brien has said Ellington could see a bigger role against the Arizona Cardinals with Will Fuller out of action. Considering DeAndre Hopkins will have his hands full with Patrick Peterson, it wouldn't be surprising to see Tom Savage turn Ellington's way more often, and at the bare minimum salary, he won't need to do much to hit value.
Travis Kelce ($7,300): The Giants are 30th in yards allowed per game to tight ends, and have given up a touchdown to the position in every game this year, including to not-so-household names like Jeff Heuerman, Tyler Higbee, and Garrett Celek. Actual household name Travis Kelce is a prime candidate to keep it going as the Chiefs' leader in red zone targets. One of the top tight ends in the game, Kelce will almost certainly be heavily-owned in cash games, and you probably don't want to be on the outside looking in. Of course, from a game theory perspective, that makes the likely lower-owned Rob Gronkowski an appealing guy to pivot to in tournaments at nearly the same price.
Evan Engram ($6,000): Given that there's no player priced over $8,400 on the slate, you probably don't need a bottom of the barrel punt tight end to fit in your favorite plays like other weeks. But that doesn't mean you can't find value in a pricier guy like Evan Engram, who, like his teammate Sterling Shepard, is affordable for his role in the Giants offense. Since New York's wide receiving corp was decimated in Week 5, Engram has averaged 9.5 targets a game, and he leads all tight ends in targets this season. You can even consider using him in the flex spot, as his price matches up well with wide receivers in the same range.
Jacksonville D/ST ($4,000): Yes, it's a hefty price to pay for a defense, but if you have the extra cash, the Jaguars are in a prime spot to do damage against Cleveland's DeShone Kizer, who leads the league in interceptions (11). Jacksonville is numberFire's top-ranked overall defense, and are at the top of the leaderboard in sacks (35).
Los Angeles Chargers D/ST ($3,000): With the surprising news that the road-tripping Bills are going with fifth-round draft pick Nathan Peterman at quarterback over Tyrod Taylor, the Chargers defense should be popular this week, and with good reason. The Chargers are tied for second in the league in sacks (29), and rank third in adjusted sack rate -- not exactly what a rookie wants to hear in their first NFL start. For just $200 more, you can also opt to attack Tom Savage with the Arizona D/ST, which has become a worthwhile weekly exercise.
Kenyatta Storin is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Kenyatta Storin also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username yatters. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in his articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.