Daily Fantasy Football Bargains and Best Buys: Week 12
I wasn't enough of a homer last week, and it cost me in daily fantasy football. I can't let that happen again.
Ever since I was a young child, I have been a fan of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. One of the first jerseys I ever owned was a creamsicle orange Alvin Harper one, and most of my memories from my childhood involve either the Bucs or Braves (my favorite teams) in some way.
But as an adult, I am able to watch the Bucs with an objective eye and realize how frustrating and bad they are, and that leads me to fade them in fantasy football at times. This past week, despite a fantastic matchup, I didn't use as much Mike Evans as I should have, and that obviously cost me. I won't make that same mistake twice.
Here are nine players I'm targeting this week, broken up into two categories. The first - Bargains - is pretty obvious. These are undervalued players who will allow you to spend more elsewhere. The other category is Best Buys, which includes players who are more than worth a large chunk of your budget.
Keep in mind that these players may or may not be used in our weekly optimal lineups. To see who the algorithms are selecting on the week (and not picks made by a tilting Bucs homer), check out our optimal lineup section, and don't forget to use our custom optimal lineup tool.
Owen Daniels, Baltimore Ravens - If you simply look at "defense versus position" rankings, this doesn't seem like a good matchup at all. The Saints are among the best in the league at shutting down the tight end spot, giving up a very low average points per game to opposing players at the position. But, of course, not every number tells the whole story.
The Saints haven't played Jimmy Graham this year (because he plays for them), nor have they played Rob Gronkowski and Julius Thomas. In fact, they haven't really played any good tight ends outside of Greg Olsen, who they limited along with the rest of Carolina's bad offense. New Orleans does, however, have a bottom-five pass defense according to our Net Expected Points (NEP) data, and that's what we're targeting in this matchup.
Owen Daniels is second on the Ravens in red zone targets, and was thrown to nine times in recent games against Atlanta and Pittsburgh. He's involved in the Baltimore offense, and without a ton of great cheap options at tight end this week, Daniels might be your best bet for a cheap player who finds the end zone this weekend.
Rashad Jennings, New York Giants - Rashad Jennings returned to the field for the Giants this past week in a tough matchup with the San Francisco 49ers, and while his numbers certainly didn't impress, his usage was a reminder of just how badly the Giants need him in the lineup.
Jennings ran the ball 18 times and was targeted on 7 passes despite claims that he would be eased back into the lineup. If that was Jennings being "eased in," then he should be in for a huge day against the division rival Cowboys this week. Dallas ranks 22nd in our Rushing NEP metric as a team, and have allowed a touchdown and decent yardage to opposing team's lead backs for three straight games.
Jennings will be involved if this game is competitive or not, as he's the best runner and receiver at the position in New York. He's priced fairly thanks to his absence, and is a good building block for lineups this weekend.
Vincent Jackson, Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Yes, I'm mentioning a Buccaneer here, and no, it's not just because I ignored them last week. Vincent Jackson and the Bucs take on the Bears, who are a mess on defense, and that's worth targeting no matter the opponent.
Jackson didn't see a lot of work last week, as the Bucs only ran 48 plays against Washington, including only 23 pass attempts. But he has 10 or more targets in five of his last seven games, which spans both starting quarterbacks in Tampa. And he's shifting into an unfamiliar role of being the secondary threat on the Bucs offense thanks to the rise of a rookie receiver on the other side.
The Bears have the sixth-worst defense in the league, according to our data, and have given up some big days to players at the position in recent weeks (apart from last week's game against the inept Minnesota offense, which was also unable to move the ball well against the bad Bucs defense). Jackson is due to score again eventually, and this could be the week he does it against a bad defense.
Zach Mettenberger, Tennessee Titans - Zach Mettenberger and the Titans face the Eagles this week, who despite forcing lots of turnovers and scoring touchdowns on defense, aren't actually very good at defending the pass. Philly has allowed the second-most points to opposing quarterbacks this year, and have only held one opposing signal caller under two touchdowns this season.
Mettenberger hasn't been setting the world on fire with his performances, but he has scored in all of his starts, and posted respectable yardage totals in two of his three games. There aren't a ton of quarterbacks worth paying up for this week, and even fewer worth targeting in the lower price ranges, so this may be a week where a punt play like Mett pays off and allows for a good group of skill position players elsehwere.
DeMarco Murray, Dallas Cowboys - If you do go cheap at quarterback, you almost have to pair that limited upside signal-caller with DeMarco Murray. His price is high, as it should be, but his matchup is fantastic this week against the Giants.
New York has the eighth-worst run defense in the league, according to our metrics, and have allowed the most points to enemy backs so far this season. Murray himself contributed to that a few weeks ago, ripping off big runs against an undisciplined Giants defense.
The Dallas back is coming off of a bye week and should be rested and ready to post another big game against a division foe. He's worth paying up for this week, maybe more than any other top tier player.
Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery, Chicago Bears - Reports of the Chicago Bears' demise were greatly exaggerated, at least on offense. Jay Cutler may have thrown a couple more interceptions than fans would like, but the Bears have been as explosive as ever this season, and they're doing it with their two best receivers leading the way.
The Bucs are on the schedule this week for the Bears, who have the worst pass defense in the league, and have allowed the third-most points to opposing wideouts this season. That's a great matchup for both Chicago wideouts, who are seeing a ridiculous amount of the work in Marc Trestman's offense.
Over his last three games, Alshon Jeffery has 37 targets, including 17 last week, while Brandon Marshall has 40 targets over his last four games, split up evenly with 10 coming in each contest. When you pay up for a receiver in daily fantasy, he better get volume, and the Chicago receivers certainly get enough volume to be worth your salary cap space this week.
Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers - On the other side of that same matchup is Mike Evans, the rookie wideout for the Bucs who has been on fire recently. Don't expect that to slow down against the Bears defense, who I referenced earlier when discussing Vincent Jackson's good matchup this weekend.
Mike Evans has scored in five of his last six games, and has five scores in his last three appearances. That's a level of consistency you don't expect from a rookie wideout, but Evans' size and skill set meant he was destined to find the end zone a ton in the NFL. It just turns out that he didn't have to wait long to hit his stride.
The Bears have been prone to coverage breakdowns all season, and Evans is the most likely recipient of deep throws in the Tampa offense. He has been targeted seven or more times in all but one game this season, and most of those looks are downfield, where he can rack up fantasy points in a hurry. You'll probably want players from both sides of this game in your DFS lineups this week.
Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts - Normally, Andrew Luck isn't a player I target in DFS, because his price is so high, and there are other options at quarterback that I prefer. But without any other good matchups from top-tier quarterbacks this week, and with prices among these elite signal callers leveling out a bit, Luck is a fantastic play this week against the Jaguars.
Luck threw for four scores against them earlier this year, with the Colts allowing him to throw nearly 40 times in a blowout. That's Luck's best quality for fantasy players, as he's given tons of volume and opportunities to score fantasy points. He's not attempted fewer than 34 passes in a game this season, and also runs a decent amount to pick up rushing fantasy points as well.
The Jaguars are in the bottom 10 in points allowed to opposing signal-callers this season, which icing on the cake of reasons to choose luck as your expensive quarterback this week in daily fantasy football.