DraftKings Daily Fantasy Football Helper: Week 14
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The purpose of this article is not only to help you understand some of the more popular plays on the slate, but also to highlight some overlooked ones that pop in our projection models and might go otherwise overlooked on Sunday. There's usually even more clarity provided to the context of the slate on Saturday night and Sunday morning. But, overall, many of the main decision points become clear by Thursday afternoon and Friday evening, giving you ample time Saturday to build your lineups with useful information.
Week 14's slate of games is one of the biggest main slates we've seen in a while. The great part about that is it rewards those who dig the deepest to find the best value, and ownership will be more spread out than ever with so many plays on the slate. That being said, there aren't a ton of high totals on this slate either, which means the digging is being done with a spade rather than an excavator. Here's what we dug up:
Patrick Mahomes ($7000): If we're going all the way up at quarterback this week, despite what Lamar Jackson has done the past 7 or so weeks, the spot looks to be just a little more favorable for Patrick Mahomes taking on a New England Patriots defense that has struggled in facing off against some higher-powered offenses the past couple weeks. Mahomes tops our projection system in both raw projected fantasy points (25.9) and point-per-dollar value (3.59). His past two games against New England have resulted in fantasy point totals of 32 and 25 points. And with the Chiefs struggling to stay healthy at running back, this sets up as an excellent opportunity for Mahomes to do work through the air.
Sam Darnold ($6,000): In an early Christmas to all New York Jets fantasy owners, it's Miami Dolphins week for New York. With Miami most recently throttled by almost all of the Philadelphia Eagles' skill position players, Sam Darnold gets a great bounce-back spot versus a D that has allowed the second-most fantasy points to quarterbacks over the past four weeks (24.7). He's at home, with capable pass catchers in Robby Anderson, Jamison Crowder, Ryan Griffin, and Le'Veon Bell. And even though Gang Green's offensive line stinks, the Dolphins' defensive line ranks dead last in adjusted sack rate by Football Outsiders. After Darnold's stinker in a great spot against Cincinnati last week, there's a chance his ownership will be depressed. But rest assured this week, he's about to light up the Fins like the Rockefeller Christmas Tree.
Kyle Allen ($5,700): A lot of people left Kyle Allen for dead after he put up a clunker against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 8 and was perfectly average for the following three weeks. But he's started to come on a bit the past two weeks despite his team being on a losing skid. He's posted DraftKings points totals of 23 and 25 in the last two games, and he gets a tasty matchup against an Atlanta Falcons defense that (despite playing a teency bit better the past few weeks) has still allowed the sixth-most points to opposing quarterbacks (21.6) over the past four weeks. Allen has a nice set of weapons in D.J. Moore, Curtis Samuel, and Run CMC. As of now, the total for this game is only 47.5, but in a dome, with two defenses that are struggling, this game could easily turn into a shootout.
Christian McCaffrey ($10,300): At this point in the season, you don't really need anyone to tell you that Christian McCaffrey is a great play every week. But this week, because of salary limitations, you'll most likely have to decide if you want to play McCaffrey or Dalvin Cook, who is in a smash spot against the Detroit Lions. While they are both great plays, I lean CMC for a couple of reasons. First, Dalvin got banged up last Monday night, and while he claims he will be close to 100% for Sunday, with the Lions as bad as they are, you can very much envision a scenario where Cook and Alexander Mattison split more work than usual as they try to preserve Cook for more important upcoming contests. We don't have to guess at CMC's usage (98% of the running back snap share over the last four weeks). And second, McCaffrey is having a rare season where he has the chance to break all-time records for scrimmage yards, and having come this far, it's hard to envision a scenario where the coaching staff lessens his usage with him being so close to that mark. Think George Kittle last year when he was close to the tight end single season receiving yards record. Jam in CMC.
Le'Veon Bell ($7200): Bell has been spectacularly underwhelming this year. Whether it's been because of his bad offensive line or the fact that he's getting up there in age, he just hasn't been his explosive self, and we haven't seen a ceiling game from him. But he's still a running back who got 85% of his team's running back snaps last week and has seen 83% snap share on the season. And he gets one of the best matchups you could ask for in the Dolphins, who are allowing the third-most points to opposing running backs this season. Miami is seventh-worst versus the run, dead last in DVOA to pass-catching running backs, and second to last in defensive line adjusted line yards by Football Outsiders. We haven't seen the patented Bell ceiling game yet this season, but this might be the spot.
Devonta Freeman ($5,400): Last week was Freeman's first week back from injury after being sidelined for a few games, and it was a tough matchup against the New Orleans Saints, who have been pretty tough against the run this season (eighth-best by our numbers). However, this week he draws the best possible matchup as the Carolina Panthers are the stone worst against the run. Everything lines up here. Good matchup: check. Catches passes (4.3 receptions per game): check. Solid snap share (66% last week): check. Discounted price: check check. He lit up the Cardinals, who are equally terrible on defense, earlier in the season for 27 DraftKings points, so we can pair a solid floor with an achievable ceiling and get fantasy goodness.
D.J. Moore ($7,000): Of the receivers who are higher priced than D.J. Moore on DraftKings for the main slate, here's the list of receivers who have more targets than him over the last four games: . (I didn't forget the list. There are none). And he is still grossly underpriced for his usage. There's no reason to look more expensive than Moore this week when hunting for volume, and the matchup is favorable as well as the Falcons sit third-worst versus the pass, per our models. Kyle Allen has played better recently, and that could lead to a shootout between these two teams with Swiss Cheese defenses. More points equals Moore points (see what I did there).
Robby Anderson ($5,100): In the season-long list of "You Love to See It," Robby Anderson rekindling his connection with Sam Darnold is near the top of that list. He's an electric player with 4.41 wheels who can dust any corner in the league as long as he gets the looks. And Sammy's lookin'. Robby has a 47% market share of the team's air yards over the past two weeks and a 19% target share, both the highest on the team over that period. Of course, the matchup is a dream, too. Miami is 31st in fantasy points allowed to number-one wide receivers, according to our stats, allowing 5.2 points above the NFL average to number-one receivers (20.1). If Miami's poor D gives us another shootout, Robby will be squarely in contention for the top scoring fantasy receiver on the week.
Allen Lazard ($4,200): This play is a bit thinner than I usually recommend, but we are a bit starved for value this week at wide receiver. Here's why I think Lazard is a decent play. He's second on the team in weighted opportunity rating and air yards since the Green Bay Packers' Week 11 bye (per AirYards.com), with a massive average depth of target of 21.8 in those two weeks. Washington ranks 31st in DVOA to number-two wide receivers, allowing 14.1 points per game to them, which is 3.3 points over the NFL average to the position. The volume hasn't been great for Lazard, but it really only takes one big play for him to hit value. He's proven he's more than capable of that.
Vance McDonald ($4,300): Enter the #FlowChart. Vance was one of the more talked up tight ends in the preseason as a breakout candidate, but after the injury to Ben Roethlisberger, his season has been disappointing to say the least. He can make all that disappointment disappear by being one of the many tight ends who rise to glory from out of nowhere against the Arizona Cardinals. Look, the volume piece of this equation just isn't there. But Vance has flashed a ceiling at times in his career, and the Cardinals are notorious for allowing tight ends to reach their ceiling. They're dead last in all usable metrics versus the position: DVOA to tight ends, defense versus role in our Advanced Stats, fantasy points allowed, and so on. It's riskier than usual because of Vance's elevated price, but it's also as safe a play as any given the matchup.
Jack Doyle ($4,600): If you aren't feelin' the #FlowChart this week, Jack Doyle is an extremely viable pivot at close to the same price point. He's in a beautiful matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who rank 29th against tight ends . Doyle's usage spiked last week after Eric Ebron was put on IR. He played 94% of the team's snaps, saw 11 targets (3 of which were in the red zone), and converted one of them for a score. Doyle also played 25 snaps in the slot or out wide, and Tampa's pass-funnel D gets torched in both spots.
Pittsburgh D/ST ($3,500): After their big win against Cleveland, the Steelers have to travel across the country to face an Arizona team that struggled last week. The Los Angeles Rams sacked Kyler Murray six times in that contest as their inept offensive line was pitted against the likes of Aaron Donald and company. The spot isn't much better for the Cardinals' struggling offensive line, a group which has allowed the fifth-most sacks in the league this season, against the Steelers' D-Line that is second in adjusted sack rate. Sacks should be aplenty, and the constant pressure by players like T.J. Watt could lead to some Kyler turnovers.
Tampa Bay D/ST ($2,300): This game sets up well for the Tampa Bay defense, which has been playing better recently. After a solid performance against the Falcons in Atlanta (16 DraftKings points), they followed up with another impressive road domination of the Jacksonville Jaguars for 23 DraftKings points. The strength of the Colts' offense is their ability to run the ball, but the Bucs excel in stopping the run. The Bucs' weakness is in their secondary, but Indy's wide receivers have been decimated by injury. Now Tampa is back at home against a hobbled Indy offense, and plugging in the Bucs saves us some much needed salary on a slate currently devoid of free squares.
Others to consider: Washington D/ST ($1,700)
Justin Manuel is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice Justin Manuel also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username JMIZZLE08. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his/her personal views, he/she may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his/her personal account. The views expressed in his/her articles are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.