5 NFL FanDuel Value Plays to Target in Week 18
There isn't a better starting point for unearthing values for FanDuel NFL contests than numberFire's projections tool.
Users can easily view the entire player pool or sort by position to see statistical projections for all players. Additionally, the column for value provides a sortable way to view which players offer the most bang for your buck, showing users the player's points per thousand dollars of salary.
But, of course, factors such as a team's implied total and the game's spread are integral for decision-making. Fortunately, you can peruse the heat map for that information and a wealth of other goodies.
Nevertheless, other considerations help inform my selection. So, this is your home for finding the five FanDuel values I'm targeting weekly for their main slate. Check this week's picks below.
Brock Purdy, QB, San Francisco 49ers ($6,900)
Things looked bleak when the San Francisco 49ers lost Jimmy Garoppolo to a season-ending injury, but Mr. Irrelevant, Brock Purdy, has exceeded the wildest expectations for a player selected with the last pick in this year's NFL Draft.
Purdy's been rock-solid in traditional measures, as well. According to Pro Football Reference, the rookie has averaged 230.0 passing yards per game, completed 67.3 percent of his pass attempts, tossed eight touchdowns, and thrown only two interceptions in four starts. Purdy's thrown multiple touchdown passes in each of his starts -- and one relief appearance. He's even scored one rushing touchdown.
The 49ers are playing for playoff seeding this week. Thus, Purdy should play until the game is completely in hand. The former Iowa State Cyclones' quarterback can continue his stellar play in a mid-pack matchup against the Arizona Cardinals.
Additionally, San Francisco's 27.25-point implied total is the second-highest on FanDuel's main slate this week, enhancing the appeal of using Purdy as a value choice.
James Cook, RB, Buffalo Bills ($6,000)
First and most importantly, I wish Damar Hamlin a healthy recovery and extend heartfelt best wishes to his family, friends, loved ones, teammates, and anyone associated with the young man. This is Hamlin's fundraiser for toys for kids if you feel inclined to donate.
Football is an afterthought, but the Buffalo Bills are scheduled to play against the New England Patriots this week. James Cook was critical to Buffalo's offensive success in the first AFC East meeting against the Patriots this year, totaling 105 scrimmage yards on 14 rushes and six receptions.
Cook had a 36.43 percent snap share in his previous three games. Still, the dynamic rookie running back had more than 100 scrimmage yards or scored a touchdown in three of his last four games. The speedy Cook has also shined in the efficiency metrics. Namely, Cook is tied for the 5th-highest Rushing NEP per carry out of 49 running backs who've carried the ball at least 80 times this year, and he's 8th in Reception NEP per Target among backs targeted at least 30 times this season.
Sadly, the matchup isn't inviting at a glance. However, according to The 33rd Team and data from Sports Info Solutions, New England allowed the fourth-most receptions per game (6.4) and eighth-most receiving yards per game (45.4) to running backs since Week 11.
Meanwhile, Cook has been a superior pass-catching back to teammate Devin Singletary. According to Pro Football Focus (PFF), Singletary ran 97 routes, and Cook ran 64 in Buffalo's previous five completed contests. However, Singletary had only 12 targets, 7 receptions, and 59 scoreless receiving yards, and Cook had 17, 12, 78, and 1.
As a result, Cook is a better stylistic fit for this matchup, and his efficiency awards him a path to paying off as a value selection, even if he isn't force-fed touches.
Christian Watson, WR, Green Bay Packers ($6,900)
Christian Watson gutted out his ankle injury last week after entering warm-ups as a legitimate game-time decision. The freakishly athletic wideout was third among the Green Bay Packers' wideouts in routes, but Watson's 17 were only one behind Randall Cobb's 18 and were five more than Romeo Doubs' 12. Watson could see his role expand this week if his ankle is healthier, and the Packers will be going for broke in a win-and-in Sunday Night Football contest against the Detroit Lions.
Watson's upside is undeniable, and his matchup is mouthwatering. Among 79 wideouts targeted at least 50 times this year, Watson is tied for third in Reception NEP per Target. Further, per PFF, he's 13th in yards per route run (2.11 Y/RR) in the same sample of wide receivers. Watson's a big play waiting to happen, and the Lions are lousy when defending wide receivers.
According to Football Outsiders, No. 1 wide receivers have averaged the most receiving yards per game (90.2) against the Lions this season. In addition, per The 33rd Team, Detroit's permitted the fifth-most FanDuel points per game to perimeter wide receivers and the third-most to slot wide receivers. According to PFF, Watson's played 67.9 percent of his passing snaps aligned wide and 30.6 percent in the slot. Regardless of where Watson aligns, the matchup is dreamy.
Since Week 10, Watson has averaged 6.4 targets, 3.7 receptions, and 59.9 receiving yards per game and scored 8 touchdowns (7 receiving and 1 rushing). Therefore, he's built to burn the Lions. Watson's case for usage on FanDuel rosters will be more compelling if he can log full practices this week, but he's a viable high-upside pick even if he remains limited.
Rashid Shaheed, WR, New Orleans Saints ($5,800)
The New Orleans Saints have struck gold in the undrafted free-agent market.
Rashid Shaheed has been quite the find. He played his college ball at Weber State and has emerged as a weapon in the professional ranks. Shaheed had a pair of explosive touchdowns earlier this season in a part-time role. However, the rookie has emerged as a full-time player.
In his last five games, he's had at least 41 scrimmage yards and bested 55 scrimmage yards four times. During that five-game stretch, Shaheed had an 18.9 percent target share, 19 receptions, 333 receiving yards, 239 air yards, 3.11 yards per route run, and 1 touchdown. Shaheed has also had alignment versatility, playing 23.0 percent of his snaps in the slot and 76.1 percent wide in New Orleans' last five games.
Still, it's optimal he played more snaps aligned wide since the Carolina Panthers have been barbecued by perimeter wideouts. In fact, the Panthers have allowed the second-most FanDuel points per game to receivers aligned wide since Week 11. As a result, I'm enamored with Shaheed on this week's main slate for a bargain salary.
Steelers, DEF, Pittsburgh Steelers ($3,900)
Deshaun Watson has been dreadful since returning from a suspension. In fact, Watson is 37th in Passing NEP per drop back out of 39 quarterbacks who've dropped back at least 150 times this year. Further, per Pro Football Reference, he has an 8.4 percent sack rate and a 2.1 percent interception rate. Those marks would rank as the 10th-highest and tied for the 17th-highest among qualified quarterbacks if Watson played enough to meet the threshold for qualification.
Conversely, Pittsburgh's defense has been excellent this year when T.J. Watt was healthy. In the superstar edge rusher's nine games this year, the Steelers have allowed an average of 17.2 points per game and forced 16 turnovers while recording 25 sacks.
A lot is working in Pittsburgh's favor this week, making them a steal at a sub-$4,000 salary in a must-win contest.
Joshua Shepardson is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Joshua Shepardson also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username bchad50. 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.