NFL

DraftKings Daily Fantasy Football Primer: Week 12

In this DFS preview, I'll focus on the Sunday main slate and group players into two categories based on their DraftKings salaries: players to build around and value plays.

Players to build around are those with high salaries but even higher production ceilings, making them worth prioritizing in your lineup. Value plays are guys with lower salaries and typically come with some risk, but adding them to your lineup will help you afford the more expensive players on the slate.

All references to betting totals and spreads are from FanDuel Sportsbook. All stats are from Pro Football Reference unless otherwise noted.

Players to Build Around

QB Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs ($8,000) vs. TB

Early this season, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were a defense to avoid, but quarterbacks have scored above their average in five straight games against Tampa. On this shortened slate due to Thanksgiving, Patrick Mahomes stands out as one of the only elite quarterback options. The Buccaneers are currently allowing 19.1 DraftKings points per game to opposing quarterbacks, which is 11th in the league. On top of that, they have allowed 20 passing touchdowns this season, which is tied for the fourth-most in the league.

RB Dalvin Cook, Vikings ($9,500) vs. CAR

Since their bye, the Minnesota Vikings have given Dalvin Cook 30.8 opportunities per game. Based on that usage, he needs to be considered for your lineup every week. The Carolina Panthers defense has been steady, but opposing running backs have still done their fair share of damage, posting 27.0 points per game, fifth-most in the league. Cook accounts for 87 percent of the Vikings' running back opportunities since their bye week, so that 27-point mark is a realistic hope for Cook -- a number he's already eclipsed five times.

RB Nick Chubb, Browns ($7,100) vs. JAC

When playing with a lead, the Cleveland Browns run the ball 62 percent of the time, the third-highest rate in the league. With a second-half lead, that rate climbs the 73 percent, the highest rate among teams with least 25 such plays. As 6.5-point favorites against the Jacksonville Jaguars, it looks like the game script will make this an ideal spot to roster Nick Chubb.

WR DeAndre Hopkins, Cardinals ($8,100) vs. NE

The New England Patriots play at a slow pace, which has allowed opposing offenses to run a league-low 57.6 plays per game against them. That trend might diminish the fantasy value for some of the Arizona Cardinals' weapons, however, DeAndre Hopkins is still a safe play based on New England's tendency to give up big plays. So far this season, 21 percent of pass attempts against the Patriots have gone for 15 or more yards, the highest rate in the league. Hopkins has 20 receptions of 15 or more yards, 28 percent of his total. It's likely he'll cash in on a few big plays against this shaky New England secondary.

TE Darren Waller, Raiders ($6,000) vs. ATL

The Atlanta Falcons are giving up an NFL-worst 16.8 fantasy points to tight ends, making Darren Waller an obvious target for lineups. Keanu Neal is Atlanta's most frequent defender lining up in coverage against tight ends and is allowing 10.9 yards per target, according to Sports Info Solutions. This is a mismatch the Las Vegas Raiders should look to exploit often on Sunday.

Value Plays

QB Matt Ryan, Falcons ($5,900) vs. LV

Matt Ryan has struggled without Julio Jones on the field, which is likely the reason his salary has dropped below $6,000 for the first time this year. Jones is considered a "game-time decision" against the Raiders, and was noticeably slowed by a hamstring injury while playing less than half of Atlanta's snaps last week. However, with or without Jones, Ryan may be worth a gamble in this potential high-scoring matchup which carries the highest total on the slate at 55.5 points. Opposing quarterbacks have scored at least 25 points in five of 10 games against the Raiders.

QB Derek Carr, Raiders ($5,700) vs. ATL

This is an incredibly generous salary for Derek Carr going up against the incompetent Falcons' defense. Atlanta is allowing opposing quarterbacks to score 9.0 points above their average, and only one quarterback (Teddy Bridgewater) fell below his average. Carr is averaging 18.4 fantasy points per game, making him a good bet to reach at least 20 points and potentially much more.

RB Salvon Ahmed, Dolphins ($5,100) vs. NYJ

Monitor this situation closely, because Myles Gaskin is eligible to return from the Injured Reserve this week. If Gaskin sits out, however, Salvon Ahmed looks like an ideal option against the New York Jets. In three games as the starter, Ahmed has a 31 percent usage rate when the Miami Dolphins are playing with the lead. With the Dolphins as 6.5-point favorites, the game script should flow in Ahmed's favor.

WR Jerry Jeudy, Broncos ($5,100) vs. NO

It's rare to find a player with Jerry Jeudy's usage rate on a salary so low. Since Week 8, Jeudy has a 25.3 percent target share. He's coming off a rough game against Xavien Howard and the Miami Dolphins, but the New Orleans Saints' secondary should allow Jeudy to bounce back. Jeudy is likely to find himself matched up with Saints' cornerback Janoris Jenkins, who has surrendered 8.2 yards per target over the last five weeks, according to Sports Info Solutions.

WR Michael Pittman, Colts ($5,000) vs. TEN

Over the last three weeks, Michael Pittman Jr. leads the Colts with 18 targets, and he could potentially see an elevated workload in this matchup with the Tennessee Titans. Opponents are averaging 68.1 plays per game against Tennessee this year, the second-most in the league. In their last meeting, Pittman posted a season-high in targets (8) and fantasy points (22.2).

WR Christian Blake, Falcons ($3,000) vs. LV

As previously mentioned, Julio Jones is expected to be a game-time decision. If he's unable to go, Christian Blake is likely to take over his role in the offense. With Jones playing sparingly in Week 11, Blake stepped in and saw four targets. The Falcons have plenty of weapons, so we can't say with any certainty Blake will see a strong workload in Jones' stead. However, he'll likely be matched up with Raiders' rookie cornerback Damon Arnette, who appears to be in over his head. Due to injuries, Arnette has played in just five games and is allowing a 73.9 percent completion rate in coverage and 8.6 yards per target. It would make sense for the Falcons to attempt to exploit this mismatch, regardless of who is lined up across from Arnette.


Ryan McCrystal is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Ryan McCrystal also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username cfbfilmroom. 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.