FanDuel Daily Fantasy Football Helper: Week 12
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 the top plays in Week 12.
Jalen Hurts ($8,400 on FanDuel): Between three Thanksgiving games, a pair of teams on bye, and the usual island games, we're left with a 10-game main slate and one that's missing several of the high-end quarterbacks we usually target. That could leave things a bit more wide open at the position this weekend, but that doesn't mean we can't find upside amongst this group.
With the Eagles' shift to a more run-heavy approach in recent weeks, it was fair to wonder whether Hurts' lack of passing volume would sap him of his fantasy ceiling in spite of all his rushing ability. After all, he failed to crack 20 FanDuel points in three straight games across Weeks 8-10.
But then Week 11 came around, and all Hurts did was post his best score of the season (30.78 points) by running all over the Saints for 69 yards and 3 touchdowns on 18 carries. Who needs to throw when you can post rushing numbers like that?
Hurts is doing a pretty good Lamar Jackson impression this year, averaging 10.4 carries and 56.2 rushing yards per game, and after this latest outburst, he's pulled away for the position lead in rushing touchdowns (8).
Philadelphia should be able to stick with their rushing strategy versus the Giants, who rank 31st in schedule-adjusted rush defense, per numberFire's metrics. Perhaps the firing of Giants offensive coordinator Jason Garrett could jump-start a struggling offense and can help keep this game competitive, too.
According to numberFire's model, Hurts is projected for the second-most FanDuel points among quarterbacks this week.
Tom Brady ($8,200): Of course, Brady is pretty much the opposite of Hurts, relying solely on his arm to rack up FanDuel points. On a per-game basis, he leads the league in passing attempts (42.3), passing yards (317.7), and passing scores (2.9). He also leads all quarterbacks on the slate in FanDuel points per game (24.2).
As you would expect from that production, Brady's been pretty efficient, too, ranking fifth with 0.26 Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per drop back among quarterbacks with at least 100 drop backs. For context, that's more than double the NFL league average (0.11).
Tampa Bay's matchup versus Indianapolis checks in with a slate-high 51.5 total, and a tight spread suggests a back-and-forth contest. The Bucs' pass-happy attack matches up well against this Colts defense, too, as Indianapolis ranks 4th in schedule-adjusted rush defense but just 27th against the pass.
Justin Herbert ($7,800): Herbert's defined boom or bust this season, scoring 30-plus FanDuel points four times while also failing to crack 20 five times. But those "booms" should keep us interested in him as a weekly go-to in tournaments.
Herbert is coming off one of those spike weeks after posting 35.28 FanDuel points versus the Steelers, and while the passing numbers were impressive, the most notable takeaway was his production on the ground. Herbert carried the ball 9 times for a career-high 90 rushing yards, and even though we obviously shouldn't overreact to one game, knowing that kind of rushing output is in his range of outcomes is an exciting prospect.
Although the Chargers are on the road at Denver, they're slight favorites with the slate's fourth-best implied total (25.00), and the Broncos are closer to middle of the pack in schedule-adjusted pass defense (13th).
Unfortunately, the Broncos do play at a fantasy-deflating, sluggish pace, which adds risk to this spot. That said, the Chargers rank second, per our Brandon Gdula, so if they're able to dictate play by getting out to an early lead, they could force Denver into a pace-up spot.
At his salary, Herbert projects as the top point-per-dollar value at the position this week.
Jonathan Taylor ($9,800): We all know Christian McCaffrey ($9,700) is fantastic, and he leads numberFire's running back projections as usual. But how can we not look at Taylor after his absurd five-touchdown performance in Week 11?
Sure, five scores is an outlier performance among outlier performances, but Taylor's now tallied at least one touchdown in eight straight games and leads all players in rushing-plus-receiving touchdowns (15). Over that span, he's also exceeded 100 yards from scrimmage in all eight weeks, and he leads the league in that category this year, too (1,444).
Best of all, this gaudy production has led to an uptick in snaps and opportunities. Over the past two games, Taylor's averaged a league-best 37.5 adjusted opportunities (carries plus 2x targets) and an 82.8% snap rate. If Indianapolis keeps feeding Taylor like this, plenty more spike weeks are ahead.
Tampa Bay would normally be a shy-away matchup, as they rank fifth in schedule-adjusted rush defense, but after Taylor's slate-breaking performance against a top-notch Buffalo defense, he could be turning into a matchup-proof back.
That said, do keep an eye on the status of Tampa defensive lineman Vita Vea, as his return would make Taylor's path to greatness more difficult this week.
Austin Ekeler ($8,400): Although Dalvin Cook ($8,100) projects as the better all-around value over Ekeler at this salary range, I do worry about Cook's ceiling against a 49ers team that loves to grind it out on the ground and shouldn't have trouble enacting that game plan versus the Vikings' 29th-ranked adjusted rush defense.
Ekeler's 23.9 adjusted opportunities per game may not pop like other elite backs, but his pass-catching role makes for a perfect pairing with Herbert if you're stacking the Chargers, allowing you to potentially capture all of the team's touchdowns. Only McCaffrey is projected for more targets than Ekeler at the position.
Although Denver is a solid defense, they rank 20th in schedule-adjusted rush defense, so this isn't a bad matchup for Ekeler on the ground, too.
A.J. Dillon ($6,900): Dillon's 12.7 FanDuel points in Week 11 was a disappointment given that the Packers scored four touchdowns, but the workload was there as expected, with Dillon logging 23.0 adjusted opportunities and 74.1% of the snaps. Aaron Jones could sit out again this week, so with Dillon's salary actually a smidge lower than last week, numberFire's model likes him as one of the top values at the position.
This Rams-Packers matchup has one of the slate's better totals (47.5), and it ranks as one of the best games in pass rate, per Brandon Gdula, which could give it added shootout potential -- though keep in mind that it's also one of the slowest in pace. Dillon saw a season-high six targets last week, so however the game plays out, the volume should be there for him.
Myles Gaskin ($6,200): Gaskin hasn't been the easiest guy to trust in a meh Miami offense, but he's coming off a whopping 31.0 adjusted opportunities and 74.6% snap rate in a victory over the Jets. That will certainly get our attention at this salary. He's now averaged 24.8 adjusted opportunities over the last five games.
While the Dolphins have a far tougher opponent in the Panthers this week, Carolina is a mere 1.5-point road favorite, so this should be a closely contested matchup. Additionally, while the Panthers are a top-notch defensive unit, they're neutral versus the run, ranking 15th in our metrics.
Gaskin projects as the second-best sub-$7,000 value at the position behind Dillon.
There's no denying Kupp's upside this season, though you pretty much need a huge game out of him to pay off, as his salary isn't far off from elite running backs like Christian McCaffrey and Jonathan Taylor. Meanwhile, Samuel's salary may be comparatively more appealing, but he's seen his target share dip with the return of George Kittle ($6,700), and his raw volume is risky in a run-focused offense.
Therefore, Adams might hit the sweet spot of the three, and we know his usage is never in question. Adams boasts a 33.9% target share and 42.3% air yards share, averaging 10.6 targets per game. The Rams also haven't been as stout on defense as expected, ranking just 22nd in adjusted pass defense.
Even with the high salary, numberFire's projections think Adams is worth it as a point-per-dollar play.
Chris Godwin ($7,600) and Mike Evans ($7,500): Adding Rob Gronkowski ($6,500) back in the mix muddies the target share waters a bit, but as noted previously, no one is attempting more passes per game than Tom Brady, which means there are usually more than enough opportunities to go around when this pass attack is clicking. Antonio Brown seems unlikely to return this week, so Godwin and Evans remain the most likely guy to blow up against Indianapolis.
In the past four games without Brown, Godwin and Evans have averaged 9.3 and 7.0 targets per game, respectively, with Godwin having the edge in target share (23.1%) and Evans getting more air yards (29.9%). Godwin has averaged a robust 93.3 yards over this span, whereas Evans has racked up 6 total touchdowns.
Any way you slice it, these two are producing, and one or both could come away with an elite score in a game with a slate-high total.
Keenan Allen ($7,000) and Mike Williams ($6,600): The good thing about stacking a team like the Chargers is we know where the targets are going, and Allen and Williams have appealing salaries, as well.
For the year, Allen is showing a 27.6% target share and 31.2% air yards share, and Williams has marks of 20.3% and 32.0%.
Allen's settled in as the more consistent option, while Williams is the more volatile boom-or-bust choice. Allen has double-digit FanDuel points in 8 of 10 games but has failed to crack 18 points in any of them. On the other hand, Williams has hit 18 five times but has otherwise been held to single-digit outings.
If you think the Chargers can force the Broncos into a pace-up game, both plays are worth a look. numberFire's projections like Allen as one of the slate's better values at the position.
Kadarius Toney ($5,600): Finally fully healthy again, Toney is coming off a 12-target game (33.3% share) on Monday night, which is hopefully a sign of things to come. While we obviously don't know how this offense will change post-Garrett, you'd like to think that they will continue to try to get the ball in Toney's hands.
We're still waiting for Toney to flash the upside we saw in Week 5 (24.6 FanDuel points), but these recent developments look to be a step in the right direction. If you're rostering Jalen Hurts at quarterback, you could do worse than take a chance with Toney as a bring-back option.
Kyle Pitts ($6,600): At tight end, Pitts and Kittle are the only players on the slate projected for double-digit FanDuel points. While Pitts continues to see consistent volume, playing in a poor Atlanta offense has limited his upside, and it wasn't especially surprising to see him completely neutralized by the Patriots in Week 11.
Still, in five games without Calvin Ridley, Pitts has averaged 7.0 targets with a 21.9% target share and 32.0% air yards share, and he should have a far easier time getting things going against the Jaguars. Jacksonville ranks 30th in schedule-adjusted pass defense and 29th in adjusted FanDuel points allowed per target against tight ends.
Pitts has also been unlucky in terms of touchdowns, scoring just one all season despite ranking third at the position in yardage (635). Due for touchdown regression in a plus matchup, perhaps he finally bounces back and at potentially less popularity after his string of modest results.
Dan Arnold ($5,100): Arnold entered Week 10 averaging just over seven targets over his last five games -- only to see zero against the 49ers. Cool.
While that doesn't exactly inspire confidence, the good news is that Arnold's snap rate (65.9%) and route rate (78.6%) still fell in line with what he was seeing prior to the dud, so it's not like his usage was otherwise any different than usual. The Jaguars also just lost Jamal Agnew for the rest of the season, which should only further solidify Arnold's role in the passing game.
Trevor Lawrence has failed to throw for 200 yards or touchdown in three straight games, so it's understandable if rostering any Jacksonville player makes you a bit queasy. But if ever there was a spot for the Jaguars to get this offense back on track, it's against the Falcons. Similar to Jacksonville's own shoddy defense, Atlanta is 29th in adjusted pass defense and 25th against tight ends specifically, per numberFire's metrics.
New England D/ST ($5,000): I don't often list a high-salaried defense here -- let alone the highest one -- but this Patriots defense is beginning to look more and more like the stuff of nightmares for opposing offenses. They're up to third overall in numberFire's rankings, and they're also third in adjusted sack rate, per Football Outsiders. They've scored double-digit FanDuel points in five straight games, and over that span, they've allowed 13, 24, 6, 7, and 0 real-life points.
While several of those recent results came against weak opponents, a banged-up Titans offense that just got embarrassed by the Texans may not be up to the task, either. New England is the biggest favorite on the slate (6.0 points), and they sit atop numberFire's defense projections.
They're a 4.5-point home favorite against Pittsburgh, and Ben Roethlisberger's aging arm doesn't exactly scare us anymore. While Roethlisberger has managed to keep turnovers to a minimum, he has the eighth-worst Passing Success Rate (43.68%) among quarterbacks with at least 100 drop backs this year.
numberFire's model projects Cincinnati as a strong value if you're looking to spend down. For what it's worth, their best fantasy performance came when they faced the Steelers in Week 3 (12.0 FanDuel points), notching four sacks and two picks against Big Ben.