FanDuel Daily Fantasy Football Early-Slate Helper: Week 14

The Week 14 NFL DFS early-slate on FanDuel has nine games, all kicking off at 1 p.m. EST. Every matchup has a total over 41.0 and under 48.0, so there should be plenty of variance across the slate.

The numberFire NFL DFS Matchup Heat Map will be referenced for all implied totals and spreads throughout this article, so be sure to check it out.

Let’s look at the best plays at every price point on the slate.

High Priced Studs

Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina Panthers ($11,000)

Even on his worst day since September, Christian McCaffrey still got DFS gamers 13.7 points. He continues to be the safest play for cash games with tournament-winning upside, and this week he draws an Atlanta Falcons defense that ranks 27th in Adjusted Defensive Net Expected Points (NEP) per play. McCaffrey had a season-high 15 targets, 11 catches, and 121 receiving yards against this defense in Week 11. The fact that the Carolina Panthers only scored three total points and CMC still hit 24.6 fantasy points in that matchup means he has the ability to explode if things break right for him.

The firing of Ron Rivera may have some concerned, but McCaffrey is still having a season for the record books and Norv Turner remains with the team. Coaching changes coupled with McCaffrey's recent dud of a game should only suppress his ownership, giving sharp players a high-leverage situation with a fantasy stud.

Dalvin Cook, RB, Minnesota Vikings ($8,700)

Dalvin Cook sustained a shoulder injury against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 13 that knocked him out of the game. He's been limited all week, but is expected to play and be near 100 percent. If he suits up, Cook should be an excellent play, as the Detroit Lions rank 24th in schedule-adjusted run defense and 29th in total defense.

Cook could cede second-half clock-killing duties to Alexander Mattison if they get up big, but there's no reason to think that the first half won't run through him. He's been dominant on the ground, leading qualified running backs (min. 100 carries) with 0.10 Rushing NEP per carry while adding 0.57 Reception NEP per target, which ranks fifth in that group. Minnesota has the highest implied team total at 28.25, so Cook has massive touchdown upside. And if he were to be a surprise inactive, Mattison ($5,100) would be a lock in his place.

Alvin Kamara, RB, New Orleans Saints ($7,600)

Through the first two seasons of his career, Alvin Kamara had totaled 31 rushing and receiving touchdowns in the New Orleans Saints offense. This season, he only has two despite a similar workload and efficiency, making him a positive touchdown regression candidate.

While there is a good chance touchdowns are coming, most people won't expect them against a San Francisco 49ers defense that ranks second in schedule-adjusted total defense. But that is the exact reason to play him.

New Orleans creates the most adjusted line yards, according to Football Outsiders, and Kamara also evades the second-most tackles on a per-touch basis, according to PlayerProfiler. That is obviously a recipe for success. Not only do we get a price discount based on the tough matchup, but we'll also get one of the best running backs in football at low ownership that dominates through the air and should score more touchdowns. Our projections have him as the best value per dollar running back on this early slate.

Courtland Sutton, WR, Denver Broncos ($7,300)

It's time we start considering Courtland Sutton for the elite tier of wide receivers. Among receivers with at least 30 targets, Sutton ranks 12th in Reception NEP per target. And that figure could be even higher, as he's only seen a catchable target 71.4 percent of the time. That ranks 84th among receivers, according to PlayerProfiler. If only he could see decent targets from his quarterback carousel of Joe Flacco, Brandon Allen, and Drew Lock, Sutton would likely land among the top.

Sutton gets to face Johnathan Joseph and a Houston Texans defense that ranks 19th in schedule-adjusted pass defense. They also struggle to generate pressure, ranking 28th in adjusted sack rate, so Lock should have clean pockets to work with.

Mid-Priced Upside Plays

Devonta Freeman, RB, Atlanta Falcons ($6,000)

With Brian Hill unable to impress in his starts, Devonta Freeman returned from his two-week absence and stepped right back into his typical role. He only put up 64 total yards against a stout Saints defense, but his 21 touches were a great indication of how the Falcons intend to use him the rest of the way.

The efficiency should return against the Panthers this week, as they dead-last in Adjusted Defensive Rushing NEP per play. Atlanta should also be getting back Julio Jones and Austin Hooper, so they'll be operating at full strength. This should lead to more sustained drives and red zone trips, which would obviously help Freeman find paydirt. If you're fading some of the pricier running backs, he offers a nice combination of workload and matchup at a cheap price.

Robby Anderson, WR, New York Jets ($6,400)

Robby Anderson has sprung to life over the last two weeks, totaling 187 yards with a touchdown on 15 targets. Granted, he posted those stats against the Oakland Raiders and the Cincinnati Bengals, but at least he's capable of smashing bad teams.

He'll have a chance to do it again, as he draws the Miami Dolphins this week. He was a dud against them earlier this year, catching only two balls for 33 yards, but his recent success should indicate more consistent targets in the future. Plus, Miami ranks 30th in explosive pass rate, allowing a completion of 15-plus yards on 12 percent of attempts, according to Sharp Football.

Look for Anderson to hit deep against this defense that ranks 32nd in schedule-adjusted pass defense.

Jack Doyle, TE, Indianapolis Colts ($6,300)

With Eric Ebron on IR and T.Y. Hilton out last week, Jack Doyle was set up to crush his price tag against the Tennessee Titans. He did just that, catching six balls for 73 yards and a score. That performance led to a big salary increase -- $5,000 to $6,300.

Doyle is still a great play against the Bucs this week, as they allow the third-most fantasy points per game to tight ends. The Indianapolis Colts are likely to be without Hilton again, meaning Doyle should be a key target for Jacoby Brissett on Sunday. His price hike will turn off many DFS gamers, but he still presents a solid floor with a good ceiling against this pass-funnel defense.

Bargain Bin Prospects

Parris Campbell, WR, Indianapolis Colts ($4,800)

If you're looking for a dynamic tournament option that's flying under the radar, look no further than Parris Campbell. The rookie receiver is set to return from his hand injury that cost him the last month of the season, and it couldn't be in a better matchup.

The Buccaneers have allowed the most receptions and yards to opposing wide receivers thus far, and Campbell should see plenty of opportunities given the lack of weapons at Indianapolis' disposal. They made an effort to get their speedy rookie more involved before his injury, giving him five targets through the air and three rushes on the ground in Week 9. This team is in need of a spark on offense, and Campbell could very well be that.

Ian Thomas, TE, Carolina Panthers ($4,000)

Ian Thomas hasn't had a chance to show what he can do this season, as Greg Olsen was having a great season. But the veteran sustained a concussion in Week 13 and is trending down for Week 14. With Olsen very likely to miss, Thomas would be the stone-minimum lock-button play of the week.

Thomas started down the stretch of 2018, compiling 25 receptions, 246 yards, and two scores in five games. If he gets a similar role this week, he could smash his price given a matchup with Atlanta's 30th-ranked schedule-adjusted pass defense.

Jonathan Taylor Smith is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice Jonathan Taylor Smith also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username Jtsmittyyy. 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.