Daily Fantasy Football: Sannes' Situations to Monitor in Week 13
In daily fantasy football, we need every edge we can get. One of those edges can be utilizing proper context.
We all have access to baseline player performance, and it's not difficult to suss out performance in certain situations. For example, we know what Alexander Mattison has done for the full season, and we know what he has done when Dalvin Cook has been sidelined this year, as he will be this week.
That information is readily available, and all of our competitors will use it. But if a deeper context alters our view of those surface-level numbers, that's where we can find an edge over the public.
There are lots of things that could fall under the context umbrella. Matchups, teammate availability, weather, and offensive-line health are just a few that could alter those basic outputs without being in place for future situations.
That's what we'll try to do today: identify the proper context and lay out how it alters our view of players for Week 13's main DFS slate. We might not get it all right, but the upsides of having a different view than the public are big if we do properly assess the context of past performances.
Alexander Mattison as a Non-Value
We've already seen Mattison step in for Cook this year. And his role will make you salivate.
There are some key differences this time around, though, and those should factor into how we view him this week.
First, let's run through said workload. In two games without Cook, Mattison has averaged 25.5 carries and 7.5 targets, parlaying that into 162.0 yards per game. He has also had 47.4% of the team's red-zone opportunities. He topped 20 FanDuel points in both games despite scoring just one total touchdown.
Unfortunately, those performances led to the first key difference: FanDuel jacked his salary to the moon with Cook getting hurt. Mattison checks in at $8,700, trailing just three healthy backs on the slate. We're not in the bargain bin anymore, Toto.
The second key difference is the alternatives in the backfield. For both of those games, Ameer Abdullah was the only other active running back. Kene Nwangwu was on injured reserve for both but has since returned.
This is concerning for two reasons. First, Nwangwu has shown he's got some serious juice with two kickoff return touchdowns. That led to Mike Zimmer saying that Nwangwu had earned a shot to get work on offense, as well.
Zimmer didn't have an update on Dalvin Cook's injured shoulder but hinted at the running back having to miss time when asked about Kene Nwangwu. "I think there’s a chance he might end up getting some more playing time," Zimmer said about Nwangwu.
— Courtney Cronin (@CourtneyRCronin) November 29, 2021
If Mattison were tearing it up as a back, this wouldn't be an issue. But that brings us to our second concern: Mattison's efficiency.
Mattison enters Week 13 ranked 38th in Rushing Success Rate out of 39 backs with at least 80 carries. Success Rate shows the percentage of carries that increase the team's Net Expected Points (NEP) for the drive. NEP is numberFire's expected-points metric, meaning it accounts for the difference between a two-yard rush on 3rd and 1 versus a two-yard rush on 1st and 10. Just 31.8% of Mattison's rushes have increased the team's expected points for the drive, making him one of just two backs under 34% in that metric. His -0.14 Rushing NEP per attempt is also 38th.
In other words, we've got an inefficient, high-salaried running back who now may have greater competition for touches than he had before. So, what do we do with that?
For me, it means I'm going to just lower Mattison's volume projections from where they were before. Abdullah netted just six carries and zero targets in his two games without Cook, and Nwangwu is likely to earn more than that. So, we can downgrade Mattison's workload.
That, by itself, isn't enough to make Mattison undesirable. The Minnesota Vikings are seven-point favorites against the Detroit Lions for a reason, and they should be able to move the football effectively. And even a downgraded Mattison may still have the best workload on the slate.
It's moreso to say that we shouldn't allocate our exposures under the assumption that Mattison simply picks up where he left off. There's a wider range of outcomes in his workload than you may think. The upsides keep him firmly in the conversation in that upper register. We just have to consider that volatility when deciding whether to use Mattison or to save salary on backs still in the mid-range.
Juicy Mid-Range RBs
Part of the reason we can afford to be skeptical of Mattison is that the mid-range at running back this week is ultra-tempting.
Here, we'll call the mid-range backs with salaries between $6,000 and $7,500. You could make at least a somewhat decent case for using 10 guys in that range.
As such, it's important that we dig into the options and figure out how to prioritize them.
We'll do this by looking at their expected workload and their respective game environments. The workload we'll specifically focus on is their "adjusted opportunities," a number that takes a player's target total and doubles it because a target is worth twice as much as a carry for a running back on FanDuel.
The table below lays out the key info for each back in their most relevant sample. The framework for that most relevant sample is laid out in the far right-hand column. I've included Darrell Henderson for now and omitted the Philadelphia Eagles' backs with so much up in the air.
|Player||Salary||Rush||Targets||Adj. Opp.||Yards||RZ Share||Sample||Spread||Total|
|Darrell Henderson Jr.||$7,500||14.2||3.8||21.8||82.0||28.2%||10 games||-13||48|
|Cordarrelle Patterson||$7,400||12.4||5.6||23.6||103.6||37.2%||5 full games w/ snaps up||+10.5||50.5|
|James Conner||$7,300||17.3||5.0||27.3||112.0||43.5%||3 games w/out Edmonds||-7||43.5|
|Saquon Barkley||$7,200||13.8||5.3||24.3||85.5||38.5%||4 games w/ > 60% snaps||+4.5||40.5|
|James Robinson||$7,100||13.7||2.7||19.0||79.0||29.4%||3 games since injury||+13||48|
|Josh Jacobs||$7,000||13.6||4.4||22.4||72.9||39.0%||7 full games since return||-1.5||49.5|
|David Montgomery||$6,500||16.1||2.1||20.4||82.7||37.7%||7 games||+7||43.5|
|Jamaal Williams||$6,500||15.0||5.0||25.0||83.0||0.0%||Week 12||+7||46.5|
|Myles Gaskin||$6,400||16.7||3.7||24.0||63.7||37.7%||6 games w/out Brown||-4.5||40.5|
|Antonio Gibson||$6,200||24.0||3.0||30.0||106.3||52.6%||3 games since bye||+1.5||49.5|
|Devonta Freeman||$6,100||13.8||3.5||20.8||70.3||31.3%||4 games as lead back||-4.5||44|
Let's dig into some of the key standouts here.
In (basically) three games without Chase Edmonds, Conner has averaged 112.0 yards per game thanks to work both as a rusher and a receiver. That has helped him rack up at least 13.9 FanDuel points in each game with an average of 23.4.
But here's the key thing with Conner: all of those games were without Kyler Murray, who is expected to return this week. Not only does Murray boost rushing efficiency by being a threat himself, but he also figures to generate more trips to the red zone. Given Conner's role there, that's a big boon. Conner's on the high end of this range, but he's one of the bigger priorities at any position on the slate.
Gibson's appeal was obvious on Monday night. They've turned to him heavily since the bye, and he set or tied career highs in carries, targets, and yards from scrimmage in that game. Plus now the team may be without J.D. McKissic.
Not at practice for Washington: Landon Collins (foot), Wes Schweitzer (ankle), J.D. McKissic (concussion), Benjamin St-Juste (concussion).
Sam Cosmi (hip; IR) and Montez Sweat (jaw; IR) are on the side field with trainers.
— Nicki Jhabvala (@NickiJhabvala) December 2, 2021
Gibson's salary is $6,200, and he's playing in one of the highest-total games on the slate. It's clear that Gibson is just under-salaried, putting him second on the list behind Conner.
After Swift left on Thanksgiving, Williams had 9 of 10 running-back carries and 23.5% of the team's targets. Williams' second-half snap rate was 66.7%, per Next-Gen Stats. Basically, he played the role Swift typically has.
If Swift's salary were $6,500 against a beat-up Vikings rush defense, we'd be all over it.
The reason to potentially rank Conner and Gibson above Williams is overall offensive expectations. All three project to be featured backs for their respective teams, but the Detroit Lions' implied total is 4.25 points lower than Washington's and 5.5 lower than the Arizona Cardinals'. That pushes him below those two, but you could easily justify just shoving all three into the same lineup, allowing you to splurge elsewhere.
The other guys in this range all have some sort of draw-back. Cordarrelle Patterson has a tough matchup, Saquon Barkley may have Mike Glennon as his quarterback, and Myles Gaskin has lacked yardage upside all year. The one who might be more appealing than his surface numbers tell you is Josh Jacobs.
Jacobs -- like Gibson -- is in a great game environment. We also saw the Las Vegas Raiders lean more on the rush on Thanksgiving, allowing Jacobs to rack up a season-high 22 carries, 30 adjusted opportunities, and 112 yards from scrimmage. If they were to lean on the run again, it'd put Jacobs in a good spot.
It's just tough to put him above the trio of Conner, Gibson, and Williams given how low-upside he has been all year. That's what keeps Jacobs alongside Patterson and Barkley in the "others to consider" bucket. We have to make cutoffs at some point, and in this juicy tier, the true must-plays seem to be Conner, Gibson, and Williams.
More Injuries for the Rams
As of now, it still seems as though Odell Beckham and Darrell Henderson will play for the Los Angeles Rams in their matchup with the Jacksonville Jaguars despite consecutive missed practices. We should discuss what to do if they sit, though.
If Henderson can't go, Sony Michel vaults near the top of the list at running back. The word "near" there may seem odd given that Michel would be a featured back at $5,300 on a team that's favored by 13 points. That's typically lock-button territory. Two things keep him from being the no-brainer top option.
First, we have a lot of good options this week. We don't typically get three backs like Conner, Gibson, and Williams all with salaries below $7,500 while also having elite studs. There's legit competition.
Second, the Rams' ground game has kinda sucked this year. They're 26th in schedule-adjusted rushing efficiency, and it has kept Henderson from racking up more than 116 yards from scrimmage in any game this year.
Those are the downsides. There are still plenty of pluses for Michel. In the one game without Henderson, Michel played 73.0% of the snaps and had 28 adjusted opportunities. We can't turn that down for such a low salary.
As such, Michel would likely slot in behind Conner and Gibson but in front of Williams for me among the non-studs. All four would be delectable options, though, and I can't push back much if you rank them in a different order.
If Henderson does go, we have some reason to be concerned. You're adding an injury to a player who has already been fairly touchdown-dependent this year, and his salary isn't overly forgiving at $7,500. Being a touchdown-dependent play on a team with a 30.5-point team total is fine for sure, but guys like Conner and Leonard Fournette in the same salary tier are also on elite offenses without the yardage issues.
As for Beckham, his injury could just further concentrate targets in an already condensed offense. In 2 games without Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp and Van Jefferson are averaging 11.5 and 8.0 targets per game, respectively, and 3.5 of those targets for Jefferson have been downfield looks (16-plus yards downfield). That makes Kupp fully worth his $9,000 salary, and Jefferson is the best value receiver on the board at $5,800.
If Beckham does play, he'd be near Jefferson in that top value discussion. Beckham earned 10 targets with 3 deep last week, showing he requires no further integration into the offense. The injury allows us to favor Jefferson between the two, but Beckham would still be a top-tier play.
The Depleted Raiders
Things were already tough for the Raiders. They've lost Jon Gruden and Henry Ruggs in-season, and that stuff can add up.
Now it looks like their other big play-maker will be out in Week 13, as well.
No sign of TE Darren Waller at #Raiders practice...CB Trayvon Mullen has returned to practice, though, as his 21-day IR window has opened. pic.twitter.com/ePupKLVB8j
— Paul Gutierrez (@PGutierrezESPN) December 2, 2021
It ain't great. That's likely part of their inspiration for leaning more on Jacobs last week.
We've already seen the Raiders' offense decline with Ruggs sidelined, as you'd expect given his field-stretching abilities. Now, you're removing Waller, as well, and this team is just lacking in talent. It keeps Derek Carr from being in play despite a high total and a tight spread. It could open up enough volume for Hunter Renfrow and Foster Moreau to be viable at their salaries, though.
Renfrow is typically a low-upside slot receiver. With Waller leaving early on Thanksgiving, though, Renfrow turned his 9 overall targets and 2 deep targets into a career-high 134 receiving yards. We shouldn't expect that going forward. Still, Renfrow's salary is $6,400, which isn't too taxing for a guy who will likely lead the team in targets. Renfrow is now at least a consideration whereas previously his lack of yardage upside made him undesirable.
Moreau fills tight end for just $5,000 and gets you a rock-solid role. In his one game filling in for Waller, Moreau had a 17.7% target share and got 2 deep looks with 2 in the red zone. We should be inclined to take that and run when we can. With Moreau and Gibson both being big values, we can get exposure to both sides of this high-total game while saving gobs of salary -- an opportunity we don't get all that often.
Deebo Out, Hasty In
Losing Deebo Samuel -- although rough for the San Francisco 49ers -- was an upgrade for Elijah Mitchell. Samuel was taking away rushing work, especially in the red zone, and putting a dent in Mitchell's workload. So, taking him out of the equation boosted Mitchell's appeal.
Then that upgrade became hazier.
That's because JaMycal Hasty returned to practice this week for the first time since Week 9. It's not a lock that Hasty returns, but if he does, it would put a dent in Mitchell's passing-game role.
Mitchell has had multiple targets in four games this year. All four were games where Hasty was either inactive or left early due to injury. The 49ers seem to like Hasty's work in the passing game, and that does negatively impact Mitchell.
Obviously, Mitchell isn't out of play if Hasty can go. However, it does lower his target projection, and that matters when he has really fun options both above and below him in the player pool. If Hasty plays, Mitchell is more of a rotational play than a core focus.
You can still get exposure to this game, though, as George Kittle and Brandon Aiyuk also get upgrades with Samuel sidelined. Both had been getting steady targets even with Samuel healthy since Kittle returned to the lineup.
|Past 4 Games||Overall Targets||Deep Targets||RZ Targets|
With the 49ers being a run-heavy team, a 24.0% target share won't blow your doors off. But that could go up with Samuel out, making Aiyuk fully viable at $7,000 and Kittle a priority at $6,300.
When you do go there, you can feel free to bring it back with a member of the Seattle Seahawks. Although Russell Wilson has struggled since he returned, he has, at least, been funneling work to just three guys.
|Past 3 Games||Overall Targets||Deep Targets||RZ Targets|
All three of these guys warrant consideration. Tyler Lockett is at 3.7 deep targets per game and has hit 96-plus yards twice. Gerald Everett's salary is just $4,900, putting him alongside Moreau as a trustworthy value tight end. And with DK Metcalf, big games are still within his range of outcomes, and nobody's likely to use him here. Metcalf is a distant third of the trio, but for tournaments, I'm inclined to get some exposure, especially in lineups where I use Aiyuk or Kittle.
The Bucs' Plentiful Weapons
I got lucky last week and had enough Leonard Fournette to benefit from his four-touchdown game.
But most of that was tied to Tom Brady and one of the wide receivers, which effectively nullified the 40-burger. Love to see it.
Although I'd prefer some time to lick my wounds and get over that trauma, the NFL schedule has given me a firm, resounding middle finger. This week, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers face the Atlanta Falcons and carry the highest implied total on the main slate. So, here we go again.
The one saving grace we get is that Antonio Brown is still sidelined with his ankle injury, keeping the Bucs from being at true full health. It also gives us a three-game sample on the Bucs without Brown but with Rob Gronkowski, which is enough to lean on.
|With Gronk, Without Brown||Overall Targets||Deep Targets||RZ Targets|
Gronkowski tops Godwin in both overall targets and deep targets. He also has double the red-zone looks. This means Gronkowski is a tremendous play, even at $7,000, as his workload for the position is top-notch.
The other takeaway here is that we can happily stack Brady with Fournette. Not only did Fournette score four times last week, but he set a season-high in snap rate in games with Giovani Bernard active, and he netted six-plus targets for the third straight game. His workload right now is delicious. It's frustrating that Ronald Jones could score again, and that does ding the Brady-Fournette pairing, but it's still one we should feel comfortable using.
Those factors combine to make Gronk and Lenny the two preferred standalone options on this team. For game stacks, we should still utilize Evans and Godwin.
Players can come through on thin market shares if the efficiency is high enough. That should be the case here with Brady facing a lackluster defense. We've seen that in action as Evans had 106 yards in one of the above games, and he had 73 yards and a touchdown in another. He has had double-digit targets in two-thirds of the sample.
Godwin, meanwhile, has put up yardage totals of 74, 65, and 24. That's underwhelming, and you understand why given the lack of downfield volume.
That does not mean Godwin is incapable of a big game; it's just not his most likely outcome. That keeps Godwin from being a key standalone play, but if this game features a bunch of points, Godwin likely contributes a healthy chunk of the time.
As far as bring-back options on the Falcons, the only players with a pulse are Kyle Pitts and Cordarrelle Patterson. Patterson's rushing matchup is difficult, and he's surrounded by elite plays at the position in Fournette and Conner. As for Pitts, he's still getting good enough target numbers -- especially downfield -- to justify inclusion in game stacks. These two work if you're stacking the Bucs, but you don't need a bring-back for each Brady lineup, and the standalone appeal for these two is muted.
Kyler and Nuk Back in the Saddle
As mentioned when discussing James Conner, it seems like Kyler Murray will be back this week. He may also get DeAndre Hopkins back as he has finally returned to practice.
It's not official yet, but let's discuss what to do in case it is.
The Cardinals are facing the Chicago Bears, which has historically been a brutal spot. However, the Bears rank just 24th in schedule-adjusted pass defense and 22nd against the rush. Khalil Mack is on injured reserve, and Akiem Hicks hasn't practiced this week. They're not a defense we need to fear right now.
That's especially true with Murray, who currently leads the league in Passing NEP per drop back. The Cardinals are the second-best schedule-adjusted passing offense in football despite missing their MVP-candidate quarterback for three games and an All-Pro receiver for basically four. They're an offense we want exposure to, which is why Conner is such a standout.
We do, though, need to hit the reset button a bit. Because this team has been banged up, we haven't seen the band all together in a while. So it's worthwhile to dig back and see what the volume distribution looked like.
Our sample of the Cardinals with Murray, Hopkins, and Zach Ertz is just one game. In that game, Hopkins had nine targets while Ertz and Christian Kirk were tied for second with five. So, Hopkins' role was fine there while Kirk and A.J. Green were more afterthoughts.
If we expand the sample to the first seven games overall, Hopkins' target shares again aren't as bad as they may have seemed.
|First 7 Games||Overall Targets||Deep Targets||RZ Targets|
At $7,200 and tied to an elite quarterback, Hopkins is an option if he and Murray are able to practice in full on Friday.
As for Kirk, Green, and Ertz, there's enough juice in the targets to keep all three in play. That's especially true with all of their salaries in the low-$6,000 or mid-$5,000 range. Their paths to failure are obvious, but all three could produce 100 yards and a touchdown.
If you decide to roll out Murray at quarterback, you can give thought to Darnell Mooney as a bring-back option. It seems as though Andy Dalton is trending toward starting while Allen Robinson sits. In two games without Robinson, Mooney has a whopping 34.3% target share, and Dalton has shown more willingness to chuck it deep in his second stint as a starter. You don't need a bring-back in every Murray lineup, but filtering in some Mooney here does seem wise.
Keenan Allen's Massive Role
Arguably the most appealing game for stacking this week is in Cincinnati for the Los Angeles Chargers and the Cincinnati Bengals. The game isn't appealing just because it's a high total and a tight spread but also because we know where the ball is going.
On the Chargers' side, that's to Keenan Allen.
I've tried to chase Mike Williams at times this year due to his massive ceiling. That ceiling is still in his range of outcomes, so he's not off the map at $6,500. But in five games since the bye, Allen has been a full-on target hog.
|5 Games Since Bye||Overall Targets||Deep Targets||RZ Targets|
It's tough to find a 30% target share anywhere, much less at just $7,300. That's what you get with Allen. Justin Herbert is one of the better quarterback options on the slate, and having Allen there makes him easy to stack.
The second best stacking option with Herbert is likely Austin Ekeler. The target share is great, and you actually do get some double-dip potential with how involved Ekeler has been as a receiver near the goal line. Additionally, the Bengals' defense tends to funnel volume to running backs in the passing game, making Ekeler a high-volume option once again. Williams definitely should be included in these game stacks, but he's a tertiary option behind Allen and Ekeler.
On the other side, the obvious guy to turn to is Joe Mixon. The Chargers are actively hideous against the rush, and Mixon has gotten massive volume recently.
The question is whether this one is too obvious.
For one, everybody knows the Chargers struggle against the rush. That's going to push people in Mixon's direction, especially given that he just blew up last week.
Additionally, Mixon's salary got juiced up to $9,400. That's only $1,100 less than Jonathan Taylor, who is also in a drool-inducing matchup with the Houston Texans. Taylor's yardage upside and red-zone share are unmatched on this slate, meaning he's fully deserving of the $10,500 tag.
So, yes, Mixon is the top bring-back option on the Bengals due to his workload and matchup. But we should give some thought to pivoting to the passing game, even against a Chargers defense that successfully stifles deep throws.
If you do that, this might be a good week to go back to Ja'Marr Chase. Tee Higgins has garnered attention all year, carries a low salary, and finally came through in a big way last week. But Chase is still the lead target since Higgins returned from his injury.
|Past 7 Games||Overall Targets||Deep Targets||RZ Targets|
Chase's role has decreased of late, but with that workload, he can still bust open a slate. If he does it here while others are fixated on Mixon and Higgins, we'll be kicking ourselves on Sunday afternoon.
The Daniel Jones Situation
Typically, we wouldn't care about a game with the lowest total on the slate. But the Miami Dolphins' offense has been decent, and they may bring us a value receiver in DeVante Parker if he comes off of IR.
It's just hard to see this game featuring points given the state of the New York Giants' offense.
Daniel Jones has been practicing through a neck strain this week. That does not mean he'll suit up on Sunday.
Daniel Jones decision is in the hands of the doctors now, per Joe Judge. He’s practicing again Thursday. Judge said he would go to a game-time decision with his quarterback if need be.
— Jordan Raanan (@JordanRaanan) December 2, 2021
If Jones can't go, then this game is fully worthy of it's 40.5-point total. If he does suit up, it at least gives us some reason to consider Parker at $5,400 as it would increase the Dolphins' incentive to pass.
We still don't know if Parker will be activated before the game. But Parker has averaged 9 targets and 83 yards in 2 games with Tua Tagovailoa this year, and neither of those games featured 35 points scored. Parker's only an option because the $5,000 range at receiver is pure booty, but for $5,400, he would at least be an option, especially if Jones can suit up.
The Eagles' Fluid Backfield
Back on Monday, it seemed like Boston Scott and Jordan Howard could be in for the Eagles in Week 13 while Miles Sanders wound sit after aggravating his ankle injury on Sunday. But through Thursday, Sanders is the only guy in the group who has practiced.
No RBs Jordan Howard (knee) and Boston Scott (illness) at #Eagles practice today.
— Jeff McLane (@Jeff_McLane) December 2, 2021
Additionally, Sanders has said he plans to play this week and was a full participant Thursday. So. Yeah.
We can effectively rule Howard out due to the missed practices. Scott, though, seems more likely to play, which means we should dig into what to do should he and Sanders both be active.
Sanders' aggravation occurred on the first play of the second half. In the first half, things between he and Scott were pretty even.
|In First Half||Snap Rate||Carries||Targets||Yards|
Sanders did show burst on the play he dinged his ankle, going for 27 yards, so the yardage isn't as bad as it looks there. But the snaps being so tight is a red flag.
If Scott were to sit, leaving just Sanders and perpetual doghouse dweller Kenneth Gainwell available, then we could turn to Sanders. The matchup is good enough to allow that. But if Scott and Sanders both play, it allows us to lean on the plentiful other alluring backs and pivot to either DeVonta Smith or Dallas Goedert if we want exposure to this matchup.
Elijah Moore: Target Hog
If you do decide to roll out an Eagle, you can justify pairing them with someone on the New York Jets. The total is high enough for the game to not be a cross-off, and the Eagles' defense isn't overly prohibitive.
We are getting a bit clearer of a picture who that bring-back would be, too.
Fast forward to this week, and Davis has yet to practice and seems to be trending toward another week on the inactive list. That's rough for the Jets, but it does keep Moore the focal point of the offense.
Moore has similarities to DeVonta Smith: both command hefty target shares but are in run-centric offenses. It's just that Smith's targets tend to be more efficient than those to Moore. As such, if you're looking for a standalone play, then Smith is the far preferable route. But if you truly cannot find the $200 to get up to Smith or just want a pairing in the same game, there's enough meat on the bone for Moore to be an option.