NFL

FanDuel Daily Fantasy Football Helper: Week 14

Welcome to our weekly FanDuel NFL primer, where we give you an overview of the Sunday main slate to help you get started on your research.

As always, we recommend checking out all of numberFire's daily fantasy tools at your disposal. In particular, our weekly projections can help you nail down who might be the slate's top scorers and best values, while 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 some of this week's top plays of the slate.

Quarterbacks

Aaron Rodgers ($9,100 on FanDuel): The highest total on the board belongs to Packers-Lions, which checks in with a tantalizing 55.5 points. Detroit's pass defense ranks 32nd in numberFire's schedule-adjusted metrics, so it's easy to feel good about Aaron Rodgers, who continues to be neck and neck with Patrick Mahomes ($8,900) in Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) pre drop back, with both signal-callers holding a sizable lead over everyone else. The Packers are 7.5-point favorites, so there's some blowout risk, but the hope is that Matthew Stafford ($7,200) can keep things competitive following a promising first game in the post-Matt Patricia era.

Russell Wilson ($9,000): Russell Wilson submitted another disappointing fantasy performance in Week 13, but he gets the perfect bounce-back opportunity against the Jets. New York ranks 31st in adjusted pass defense, per our metrics, and has allowed the third-most FanDuel points per game to quarterbacks. The Seahawks are favored by nearly two touchdowns, so the fear is that they'll ease back on Wilson's pass attempts as they've done in recent positive game scripts. However, the Jets have a pass-funnel defense -- they rank ninth in adjusted rush defense -- so there's a path to all of Seattle's scores going through Wilson, and maybe the Jets even hang in there longer than expected against the Seahawks' own below-average defense. Wilson and Mahomes are essentially tied for the most projected FanDuel points in numberFire's model this week.

Justin Herbert ($8,300): Looking more like the New England defenses of old last week, the Patriots put on a clinic against the Chargers, leading to Justin Herbert's worst performance of the season. He should get back on track versus the Falcons, though, who are 26th in adjusted pass defense and have allowed the most FanDuel points per game to quarterbacks. This game has a solid 49.5 total with a close 2.0-point spread, so a shootout is very much on the table, and Herbert could go overlooked following a poor result.

Running Backs

Derrick Henry ($9,600): With Baker Mayfield and the Browns jumping out to a shocking 38-7 lead over the Titans by halftime, it was pretty much a worst-case scenario for Derrick Henry last week, leading to single-digit FanDuel points for the third time this season. It's the downside we have to live with when rostering Henry, who continues to see limited passing-game work. The good news is he should be able to take advantage of a positive game script this week against the Jaguars, who are 7.5-point underdogs and rank 27th in adjusted run defense. Given that Dalvin Cook ($10,200) is in a difficult matchup against Tampa Bay, and Christian McCaffrey ($10,000) is looking unlikely to play, Henry easily projects as the slate's top back.

Aaron Jones ($8,700): There are arguably better plays in terms of median point-per-dollar value, but the last time Aaron Jones faced Detroit in Week 2, he scored a season-high 43.6 FanDuel points. The Lions rank 29th in adjusted rush defense and have coughed up the most FanDuel points per game to running backs, so another spike week shouldn't be ruled out. Jamaal Williams will get his share of touches, unfortunately, but Jones has still maintained a solid 14.5 rushes and 4.8 targets per game this season.

Austin Ekeler ($7,500): Considering the Chargers got absolutely trucked by the Patriots, it actually says something that Austin Ekeler nearly reached double-digit FanDuel points anyway on 8 carries and 9 targets, showing just how valuable his pass-catching work is even on FanDuel. Targets are roughly twice as valuable as carries, and when you factor that in, Ekeler's workload in his four healthy games with Justin Herbert has actually rivaled that of Dalvin Cook and Christian McCaffrey. Atlanta ranks fifth in adjusted run defense, but that shouldn't concern us given Ekeler's receiving role -- he projects as one of the slate's better point-per-dollar values.

Myles Gaskin ($6,000): And speaking of value, we're seeing a salary bump for Myles Gaskin this week, but it remains too low for his role. While Gaskin didn't put up a massive score in his return (13.1 points), he played on 71.4% of the snaps with 21 rushes and 2 targets. He's now averaged 15.1 carries and 4.6 targets over eight games, which is practically identical to Aaron Jones' marks, and in Gaskin's six starts from Week 3 onward, those numbers come to 17.5 and 4.3. A negative game script could await him against Kansas City, but Miami's defense shouldn't be underestimated -- they rank 7th overall and 2nd against the pass in our metrics, potentially keeping this one close. If that's the case, Gaskin should get fed the ball plenty versus the Chiefs' 32nd-ranked adjusted run defense.

Wide Receivers

Davante Adams ($9,600): Even at a lofty salary of $9,500 last week, Davante Adams cracked the Week 13 FanDuel perfect lineup, marking the third time he's appeared on the main slate perfect lineup this season. Not too shabby. Another huge score is surely in his range of outcomes in a projected shootout against the Lions, and he tops our median wideout projections as usual. Adams is averaging 12.0 targets over nine healthy games and remains the obvious stacking partner in Aaron Rodgers' stacks.

DK Metcalf ($8,600): DK Metcalf remains the league leader in air yards, averaging 120 per game, and he now gets to take on a poor Jets pass defense. Even if this turns into a blowout, all it takes is for Russell Wilson and Metcalf to convert on a deep passing touchdown to put us on course towards a boatload of FanDuel points -- something we could certainly see against a defense that's allowed the fourth-highest Target Success Rate to wide receivers this season. Metcalf projects for the third-most FanDuel points among wideouts in our model this week.

Robby Anderson ($6,500): With D.J. Moore on the COVID-19 reserve list and Christian McCaffrey expected to be out yet again, the Panthers will be short on weapons against the Broncos. But that should also give Robby Anderson an even bigger role than usual, and he already averages 8.5 targets on a 27.3% target share and 36.4% air yards share. Given that this game has a 46.5 total, it doesn't exactly scream "shootout," but at this salary, Anderson projects as an appealing point-per-dollar value. He also rates quite favorably in this week's range-of-outcome projections. Curtis Samuel ($5,900) would also emerge as a value option if he's cleared to play.

Keke Coutee ($5,600): An increased role was anticipated for Keke Coutee with Will Fuller out of the picture, but even the most optimistic expectations likely didn't see him hauling in 8-of-9 targets for 141 yards in Week 13. He actually saw one more target than Brandin Cooks and led the team with a 24.3% target share and 29.2% air yards share. He naturally sees a salary bump this week but remains a fantastic value if this volume keeps up. And while Chicago isn't the greatest overall matchup -- they rank 10th in adjusted pass defense -- Coutee's individual cornerback matchup is a good one.

Tight Ends

T.J. Hockenson ($6,000): At tight end, Travis Kelce ($8,200) is in a tier of his own, followed by Darren Waller ($7,100) -- no surprises there -- and that's reflected in our projections. That being said, both players have tough matchups this week in terms of both FanDuel points and Target Success Rate allowed to the position, so it's possible they fall short of tournament-winning scores. T.J. Hockenson projects for the third-most points among tight ends, and while he's demonstrated a solid if unspectacular ceiling thus far, he could be involved in this slate's best overall game environment. Green Bay hasn't been the best matchup for tight ends, either, but you aren't investing as much salary in Hockenson, and the scoring opportunities should be there -- he leads the team in targets inside the 10-yard line (8).

Hunter Henry ($5,600): Considering the entire Chargers offense flopped last week, we should probably give Hunter Henry a pass after scoring just one FanDuel point. Better days are ahead, and that should start against Atlanta, which has allowed the sixth-highest Target Success Rate to tight ends and the fifth-most FanDuel points per game. Even if we include last week's dud, Henry is tied for the fourth-most targets per game (6.5) at the position.

Defenses

Dallas D/ST ($3,500): The Seattle D/ST ($5,000) and New Orleans D/ST ($4,900) top our defense projections with appealing matchups against the Jets and Eagles, respectively. But it's always nice to find savings at defense whenever we can, and the Cowboys can save us a good chunk of change as the best projected value. It's no secret that Dallas' defense has been awful this season, so this is all about their opponent. The Bengals' offense has fallen off a cliff under Brandon Allen, who has posted -0.37 Passing NEP per drop back in two starts, putting him firmly below poor performers like Sam Darnold and Carson Wentz. If Dallas can force Cincinnati into a negative game script, even a shoddy defense like this should be able to rack up points against Allen.

Carolina D/ST ($3,400): If you're looking for an alternative to the Cowboys, the Panthers also draw a fantasy-friendly defensive matchup against the Broncos. Despite playing in just eight fully healthy games this season, Drew Lock has piled up 13 interceptions, which is the second-most in the league behind Wentz. Carolina could be missing several key pieces to their offense, which could throw a wrench in things from a game environment perspective, but Lock's turnover struggles give us a path to a defensive score.