DraftKings Chalk, Pivots and Punts: Week 13
Welcome to NFL Week 13 friends! Let’s recap what we’re doing here. This is a weekly piece on Daily Fantasy plays for Draft Kings with a focus on GPPs, in particular, the main slate. The articles will indicate who I think will be the chalk plays, who some pivots or contrarian plays are to get off the chalk, and some punt plays that could either save on salary or are just so far below the radar they might be tournament winning plays if all goes well. Instead of saying “Player A” is chalk, pivot to “Player B,” there will be a chart showing my data for the match-ups with the chalk/pivots/punts listed after that. In this article, pivots can be a pivot from one player to another player at the same position, from one position to another, or just a way to pivot to the other side of a game that everyone else might be stacking.
Simply put, the pivots will not always be direct pivots, more like other ideas to consider in the macro-view of the slate. Each game will have a brief write up and will include the team’s projected point total and spread as of the time of writing. Without further ado, let’s have a look at the Sunday main slate.
Above are the Vegas implied totals and lines for each game, as well as match-up data I have compiled for pace, opponent fantasy points allowed, and raw Yards & TD data vs. the positions we are looking at for building our DFS rosters. Red is bad, orange is beware, yellow is more neutral, and green is good. The dark green shade is better than good. The way the chart is constructed has each opponent’s data split by their home or away data so that we can see what they allow in the split they are currently playing.
Below is my Chalk, Pivots, and Punts Chart based on my opinion of the slate and what the field will likely be on this week.
Websites I use to research are:
- Daily Roto for Snaps, Targets, Carries, and Red Zone Opportunities (Promo code: “grid10” Save 10%)
- The Quant Edge for WR/CB Match-Up Data (Promo code: “gridironexperts” Save 10%)
- Pro Football Focus for WR/CB and OL/DL Match-Up Data
- Twitter for beat writer coverage for each team. Click on the link to go to a team by team list.
Plus I have a spreadsheet of my own that I use to keep track of defensive points by position (ie. WR1, WR2, Slot, etc) and multi-TD games allowed.
Now, let’s dig into each game and see what the good chalk is, where to pivot, and if there are any good punts on the slate. Games are listed in order of Vegas implied point totals since the higher scoring games are where we tend to focus our attention first when constructing rosters.
Kansas City Chiefs (35.5/-15.5) at Oakland Raiders (20.0/+15.5) [55.5]
Kansas City gets to come off their bye week and face a team that has all been rolled over and died in 2018. Patrick Mahomes ($7600 QB1) will no doubt be a popular play in what should be a smash spot. He is priced $1000 higher than the 2nd QB on the slate, which may keep him from going over-owned. The Raiders do a good job of limiting pass volume, but allow high yards per pass attempt and passing TD numbers. Mahomes may not have to do much in this one, but if the Chiefs want to, they can come out and thrash the Raiders early and Mahomes can still meet 3x value in less than 4 full quarters. The easy place to throw on the Raiders is at TE where Travis Kelce ($7000 – TE1) is also priced $1k+ above the next player at his position. Tyreek Hill ($9100- WR1) ($900 above WR2) is just an unstoppable force capable of wrecking a slate for those who don’t roster him. It’s going to be hard to build around the Chiefs if you’re stacking Hill and Mahomes in the same line-up, but the upside is so enormous with those two it has to be considered. The best priced Chief this week is Kareem Hunt ($7800), and he has one of the best possible RB match-ups on the slate against the Raiders defense that forces volume, yards, and fantasy points to the RB position. Hunt’s salary should make him a popular play this week. Only concern would be him coming off the field in 3rd down and hurry up situations for Spencer Ware ($4000). If you’re building several line-ups this week, you’re going to want exposure to the Chief’s foursome throughout your rosters. Sammy Watkins at $5400 is worth a shot as a pivot play from the rest of the group here. The Raiders have been improving on defense, especially around the perimeter, so this may be a game to focus on Hunt and Kelce more than the outside players. However, this is a Chiefs offense that can pretty much do whatever they want to anybody.
A video has surfaced showing Kareem Hunt’s altercation with a woman in a hotel lobby. It is unclear if this will have any impact on Hunt this week, but is something to monitor. Spencer Ware become a terrific play if the Chiefs decide to hold Hunt out. ***Update to the update, Hunt has been release all but assuring massive ownership for Spencer Ware this week.***
The Raiders are projected for 20 points in this one, which is reasonable considering the Chiefs have not exactly been juggernauts on defense and the Raiders have home field advantage. The Chiefs defense is getting healthy though, and have looked better in the past few weeks. Chris Jones, Dee Ford, and Justin Houston, in particular, are going to be a challenge for the Raiders tackles and guards. I would expect the Raiders to try and maintain a run-heavy approach for as long as possible, and a short passing scheme – which they run anyway. This will focus my attention to punt options Doug Martin ($4200), Jalen Richard ($4300), and Jared Cook ($4700) if I’m going to consider rostering any Raiders this week. Derek Carr ($5000) is also an interesting punt play considering he could be in for some garbage time stat inflation. The Chiefs allow the most 20+ yard pass plays per game in the NFL. Not sure the Raiders can take advantage of that, but it adds a plus for Carr, Cook and whichever WR will line up across from Orlando Scandrick on any given play.
Los Angeles Rams (33.0/-10.5) at Detroit Lions (22.5/+10.5) [55.5]
The Rams are another team (like the Chiefs) where match-ups don’t really matter and they have a very condensed core of offensive players that generate fantasy points. The match-up chart indicates the best way to take advantage of the Lions defense is through the air. Jared Goff ($6400) and the receivers should be able to feast here. The trio of Robert Woods ($6900), Brandin Cooks ($7000), and Josh Reynolds ($4900) should be able to take turns running routes away from the Lions only good corner Darius Slay as long as the Lions don’t assign him to a particular receiver for the whole game. If he is assigned to shadow someone it’ll be Cooks or Woods, making Reynolds an interesting pivot option at a very reasonable salary for a Rams WR. Assuming Slay doesn’t follow anyone around, I would prioritize the receivers as Woods-Cooks-Reynolds, but any one of them can go off for a 20+ point game here, maybe more than one. Of course, the Rams also have the best back in the NFL this year Todd Gurley ($9300) who always has to be considered when constructing line-ups. With 13 games on the slate this week, there is more value to go around, so fitting him in shouldn’t be too hard.
The Lions have averaged 16.2 points per game over their last 5 games, winning only one of them, and by 1 point. This is going to be a tough match-up for the Lions on both sides of the ball. How is their offensive line that has been under siege going to hold up against Donald and the return of Suh? I can’t imagine the nightmares Matt Stafford ($5400) and Jim Bob Cooter are having leading up to this one. The Lions have turned into a dink and dunk offense averaging 6.9 YPA, good for 8th lowest in the league. Expect lots of dump offs to Theo Riddick ($4700) and Bruce Ellington ($3500) in this one, combined with as many shots as possible to the only “good” offensive weapon they have available – Kenny Golladay ($6700). The Rams defense can get leaky, so there’s a good chance these guys will post serviceable stat lines. Golladay would be the priority play, with Riddick and Ellington as reasonable punt options.
Carolina Panthers (29.25/-4) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (25.25/+4) [54.5]
Cam Newton ($6600) and Christian McCaffrey ($8800) are going to be chalk for the rest of the year. Both guys offer a safe floor and a ton of upside and are recommended plays every week, regardless of match-up. The match-up data for this game will add Greg Olsen ($4100) to the mix against a defense allowing 17.8 points per game to TEs (4th worst on the slate). The trio of Cam (21.2), CMC (32.7), and Olsen (19.6) all went for 19.6 or more points when these two teams played in week 9. If Devin Funchess ($5000) sits again, then D.J. Moore ($5600) will see high ownership. He was targeted 9 times last week with Funchess on the sidelines, and was targeted 8 times the week before with Funchess playing. Although Moore only saw 2 targets in the last meeting between these teams, he should project for around 6-9 targets this week.
The Bucs and Panthers are both giving up a lot of points to the TE position this year, with Carolina on the road allowing the most points in the NFL to TEs. Cam Brate ($3700) saw 4 targets last week and was the only pass catcher to see a red zone target. Brate converted that red zone target into a TD last week, and could do the same again here, possibly twice. He’s not likely to rack up a ton of yards, unless he gets loose for a big play, but his price is below $4k, making him a likely chalk play this week. O.J. Howard went for over 20 points against this defense last game. Another guy that was very effective for the Bucs against Carolina was slot man Adam Humphries ($4200) . Humphries has had 5+ targets and 14+ points in 4 out of his last 5 games, including his 28.9 point game at Carolina. On a 10 game slate Humphries would see a bump in ownership, but it’s possible he goes lower owned than he should given we’re back to a 13 game slate. Desean Jackson has been ruled out providing us with a nice, low cost pivot play with Chris Godwin ($3900). Jackson has seen around 8 targets per game the last 3 games and Godwin plays the same spot at WR, so some of those targets could mostly add to Godwin’s 3-4 targets per game. Mike Evans ($8100) targets have risen by one each of the last 3 weeks, and he has 2 games over 20 points in that span. His target share should also increase with Jackson out. Evans and Jackson have 21 and 22 targets over the last three weeks, respectively, so with O.J. Howard and Jackson out Evans should see a majority of his targets 15+ yards down the field. Those deeper targets are what he needs to hit a solid fantasy score, since he does not tend to pick up yards after the catch.
Minnesota Vikings (22.25/+5.5) at New England Patriots (27.75/-5.5) 
This game has an opportunity to produce a lot of fantasy gold. These teams only play each other every 4 years, so the lack of familiarity may help increase points. The Vikings have a highly concentrated offense revolving around their top two WRs and Dalvin Cook ($6200), when healthy. Teams have been having success against the Patriots in 3 specific areas this year and that’s through the TE, pass-catching RB, and Slot WR. For the Vikings, that means fire up Kyle Rudolph ($3600), Adam Thielen ($8000), and Dalvin Cook. Kirk Cousins ($5500) is priced too low for this match-up, and should be included in any stack involving this game. Kyle Rudolph got the squeaky wheel treatment last week, just in time to get him ready for this match-up. He should see another game of significant targets as the Patriots try to take away Thielen and Stefon Diggs ($7600). Diggs is likely to see a lot of Stephon Gilmore in shadow coverage this week as Thielen takes most of his reps in the slot where Jason McCourty will track him. Both of those guys are good corners, so the game flow could push more to Cook and Rudolph. Rudolph’s salary makes him an excellent pivot option at TE this week if you need the savings.
Minnesota has no glaring weaknesses on defense, so with the Patriots you have to bet on talent. Vikings’ top CB Xavier Rhodes has a hamstring injury, but Mike Zimmer thinks he will play. Whether it affects him during the outdoor, evening chill of Foxborough is to be seen but I would bet Josh Gordon ($5900) can still have a good game. Gordon has roasted two NFC North defenses for over 100 games already this year.
The Vikings have allowed a few good TEs to beat them earlier in the year, and Rob Gronkowski ($5400) returned last week to lead the Pats in targets with 7. His salary is still not of Gronk proportions, so he’s an easy buy in this game. Someone has to get these guys the ball, so adding Tom Brady ($5800) to this to make a stack makes a ton of sense. Brady hasn’t thrown for 3 or more TDs in a game since week 7 in Chicago, so he’s a bit of a gamble, but if this game shoots out he’s going to get 3 TDs. The backfield will get muddied by the return of Rex Burkhead ($3300) this week, making the salaries of Sony Michel ($6100) and James White ($6500) a bit of a turn off. All three guys will go low owned, and could make for decent contrarian pivots against a tough front seven defense. The backfield also has an additional element with Cordarrelle Patterson ($3300), who will face the team that drafted him but didn’t know how to utilize him correctly. If you’re looking to save salary at WR, then C-Patt makes for an interesting punt option. Julian Edelman ($7100) is a bit of mystery. He was seeing 10+ targets for three weeks in a row, then Gronk came back to lead the team with 7 and the ball got spread out a lot more last week against the Jets. Edelman still caught 4 of his meager 5 targets and cashed one in for a TD. He’s likely to go low owned in this one and draws what could be the best match-up at corner for the Vikings, but that dip in targets is concerning.
Baltimore Ravens (24.0/+1.5) at Atlanta Falcons (25.5/-1.5) [49.5]
This is another match-up of teams that only see each other every 4 years, and has a lot of intriguing pieces to work with. Let’s start with the Ravens backfield which is clouded with injuries, has a newer guy to the team, a guy coming back from IR, a starter that missed last week and may not be the starter anymore, and the guy that has toted the rock 40 times the last 2 weeks. We know we want to attack the Falcons defense with RBs, but as of now it’s unclear who will lead the team in touches and who will see a healthy portion of snaps. The best bet may just to be avoid the RBs and roster the running QB. Eight out of 11 QBs that have faced the Falcons defense this year have posted 20+ points and 3 QBs have gone for 27 or more points against them (Cam, Brees, and Jameis). The Falcons are allowing a slate-high 26.6 points per game (at home) to the opposing signal caller. If Lamar Jackson ($5900) starts and runs another 10+ times at his 5.1 YPC average over the last 2 weeks, we have at least 5 points in rushing yards to rely on, plus any TDs he gets. He could be the “running back” ripping up this defense while also throwing some passes for additional TD opportunities.
If Kenneth Dixon ($3000) gets activated from IR and plays in this game he is worth a long look as a punt option as Baltimore may want to take one more look at him before parting ways this offseason. Ty Montgomery ($3600) is the other guy I have some interest in here. His snap share rose to 40% last week and he was given 8 carries and 3 targets, posting an impressive 6.4 yards per carry and catching all 3 targets for 13 yards. He’s another guy they need to take a look at with so many free agents in their backfield after this year. Gus Edwards ($4800) is likely going to get most of the carries, but his lack of targets keeps him a bit TD dependent to crack the 20 point mark. In Jackson’s starts it has shown to affect the productivity of the WRs, so roster any pass catchers for the Raven this week is a huge gamble. Really, this whole offense is a gamble, and with Dieon Jones set to return this week, I don’t have high interest in anyone but Jackson here, unless I’m entering several line-ups into a contest this week.
The Ravens defense has been very stingy this year, allowing the second fewest yards passing per game, fewest yards per pass attempt, third fewest rushing yards per game, and sixth fewest yards per carry. The Falcons have not been getting great play from their offensive line and their offensive coordinator is not cut out for the NFL. It’s going to be up to Matt Ryan’s ($5600) arm in this one, as it has all season. The Ravens defense should be able to dictate where Ryan goes with the ball, which will limit the upside of all the pass catchers. Julio Jones ($7700) and Calvin Ridley ($5400) would be the best players to roster in this match-up, but are not really optimal plays. Only 4 players have scored 20+ points against the Ravens defense, and two of those came back in week 2 when the Bengals top two WRs took turns torching Tavon Young from the slot. Young has played a lot better from that game on, and Jimmy Smith has also stepped it up lately. The other two players who scored more than 20 were high volume RBs (Conner and McCaffrey). Atlanta doesn’t give their lead back the type of workload either of these guys see. Matty Ice, Julio, or Ridley are reasonable contrarian/differentiation purposes in large field tourneys where you’re creating multiple line-ups, but otherwise, this offense looks like an avoid for this week.
Cleveland Browns (20.75/+5.5) at Houston Texans (26.25/-5.5) 
The Browns are playing loose and with swagger the past few weeks and have won 2 games in a row. They’ll be put to the test against the red hot Texans and their defense this week down in Houston. The Texans defense has been playing very well lately, so digging for gold on the Browns roster will be a challenge. The three guys capable of putting up a 20+ point game are Baker Mayfield ($5600), David Njoku ($4300), and Duke Johnson ($4400). The Texans defensive line should be able to keep Nick Chubb ($7000) to modest yardage totals and his 3 targets a game are not enough to sustain a high floor if he’s not getting TDs or yardage bonuses. The Texans have allowed a total of 8 TDs at home this year, with only 2 coming on the ground, so it’s not a safe bet Chubb scores multiple TDs in this one. I would look for the Browns to try and win this game by throwing the ball, and if they do, then Duke Johnson should see an increase in volume. Unless the Texans correct the issue, or are content letting opposing teams go to the TE, Njoku is the best play from the Browns this week. Over the Texans past three games they have allowed pedestrian TEs Jeff Heuerman, The 2018 version of Jordan Reed, and Jonnu Smith to average 19.6 fantasy points against them, with 2 of those guys clearing the 20 point mark.
The match-up data for the Browns indicates we will want to focus on the QB, #1 WR, and the lead RB for the Texans. Deshaun Watson ($6100) is in a pretty good spot here, and with his rushing ability should be a solid high floor play. He has only thrown for more than 2 TDs in a game once this year, but this could be a game he clears that mark again (or at least scores 3 total TDs). Cleveland allows an average of 2 TD passes per game and have allowed 2+ TD passes in 4 out of 5 road games this year. The Browns haven’t faced many mobile QBs this year, but have allowed 2 QB rushing TDs to the two they have faced (Driskel/Winston). The browns defense is not able to stop opposing #1 WRs either. Of the five #1 WRs they have faced on the road this year, only Mike Evans didn’t clear 20 points. DeAndre Hopkins ($8200) is in a smash spot and she should high ownership. He just ended a streak of 5 games in a row with a TD, which should get back on track in this game. He’s going to be one of the top scoring WRs on the slate, so roster him where you can. Lamar Miller ($4600) has been inconsistent this year, but does have 3 games over 100 rushing yards. His carry totals go back and forth with Alfred Blue, but when they throw to a back, it’s Miller and he gets the red zone carries when Watson isn’t running them. His salary makes him an attractive play, and he could put up another 100 yard game against a Browns team allowing 131.8 rush yards per game at 4.8 per carry on the road with 4 RBs clearing the 100 yard mark. Mixon (89) and Hunt (91) were close to hitting the century mark as well.
Indianapolis Colts (26.0/-5.5) at Jacksonville Jaguars (20.5/+5.5) [46.5]
The Colts are riding a 5 game win streak into Jacksonville this weekend where the Jaguars (losers of 7 straight) are looking like a broken team. The Jags just fired their OC, benched their starting QB, lost their starting RB to a one game suspension, and appear to be heading towards losing their top CB for this match-up. The Jags defense has allowed 4 straight QBs to post 20+ point games against them, including one from Andrew Luck ($5800) in Indy. Luck is a value on this slate where his pricing seems to be narrative based (playing the Jags defense). Luck has 8 straight games with 3+ passing TDs, including a game 3 weeks ago against this same defense. Now, they have to go outside on the road here, but the Colts offense has proven to be match-up independent. Frank Reich is calling great game plans and his guys are executing perfectly. There are a few injuries (Mack/Ebron) to monitor on the Colts that could make a major impact if some of these guys don’t play. T.Y Hilton ($6000) will likely have to face a lot of A.J. Bouye at corner. Bouye has been playing well, maybe even a little better than Ramsey lately. This could make Dontrell Inman ($3800) a reasonable low priced pivot option. Inman has seen his snap share increase significantly each of the past few weeks and has at least 4 targets every game since joining the Colts. He is familiar with the system from his days with Reich in San Diego, which is probably why they are trusting him more and more over Grant and Rogers who have shown very little this year. He’s not a player profile I’d normally consider, but if the Jags focus heavily on Hilton he could be in for a big day. Also in for a potential big day would be Eric Ebron ($4200), if healthy. Ebron is having a bizarrely efficient and highly productive season, which includes a 3 catch/2 TD performance last time he faced the Jags. His back issue would be the only thing holding him back here. Marlon Mack ($5000) is in the concussion protocol, but returned to practice on Thursday. His return would be a boost for the offense as a whole, but he didn’t have great success against the Jags in their last meeting. The Jags have held every RB they’ve faced to under 20 points, except Saquon. I wouldn’t rely too heavily on Mack in this one. If he were to miss the game, I would have some interest in Nyheim Hines ($4100) as a pass catching weapon coming out of the backfield.
Typically, a team that has just fired a coach gets a solid team effort the next game. While I don’t suspect the Jags pull out a win, I do believe they will play well enough to make this a competitive game. There isn’t really anyone worth rostering for the Jags, except maybe T.J. Yeldon ($4400). Donte Moncrief ($4500) has the second round of a revenge game versus his former team. He had a pretty good stat line in Indy catching 3 of 4 targets for 98 yards and a TD, just missing on the extra 3 points for the 100 yard bonus on Draft Kings.
San Francisco 49ers (18.0/+10) at Seattle Seahawks (28.0/-10) 
The 49ers have so many injuries on the offensive side of the ball and are going into one of the loudest and most notorious home field advantage stadiums in the league – after traveling to nearly the opposite corner of the country last week. Nick Mullens ($4700) crumbled in his first trip away from Levi Stadium, and there were noted communication issues during the last game. I am not expecting him to raise his game here and be an option we need to consider, and I have concerns about how much he’s going to limit the rest of the offense. Matt Breida ($5800) looks great every time he touches the ball and has back to back 100 yard rushing games. The problem with Breida is his snap share. He’s constantly in and out of the line-up forcing him to be super efficient with every touch. Seattle’s defense has been vulnerable to running backs, so this looks like a good play, it’s just one that makes me nervous with the way he used. Those 4 targets each of the last two games are encouraging to see though. The Seahawks have allowed some big games to speedy/quick WRs lately. Unfortunately, Marquise Goodwin ($5200) has been away from the team since the bye week, which started on the same day he lost his premature son last year. That might have something to do with why he is taking some extra time to be with his family right now and sent out the tweet he did. Without Goodwin, the Niners will have to rely on Dante Pettis ($3800) to provide that speed element. He’s in a good spot, as long as Mullens can get the ball out enough times for him to get enough targets to convert. He’s had 6 then 7 targets each of the last two weeks, and for $3800, that’s an easy buy. Saw quite a few sharps on him last week, and his price barely jumped. George Kittle ($5900) is the other play worth considering here. Kittle has had 10 and 13 targets the last two weeks as the only reliable option left in the passing game. The match-up gets a bit tougher for Kittle in this game, making him a bet on talent/volume play.
The 49ers secondary has been struggling for quite some time, but they may have at least one guy with some extra motivation in this one. Richard Sherman returns to Seattle to face the QB he didn’t exactly embrace while he was there. He’s also coming off a game where he got burned a couple of times by Mike Evans and will want to put that behind him. It’ll be interesting to see how often Russell Wilson ($6300) tries to test him in this game. Wilson had a 15 and 23 point game against the Niners defense led by DC Robert Saleh (another former Seahawk employee) last year. The Niners had a better defense last year, but I would still put 15-23 as Wilson’s floor to ceiling projection range for this game, with potential for more. The Seahawks will try to pound the ball on the ground as much as possible, and if successful it could keep Russ in the lower area of that range. The Seattle receivers don’t provide a ton of volume for the position, but that’s built into their pricing. What we need to figure out is who will have the most efficient day of the group. Tyler Lockett ($5800) stands out from a snap count and big play perspective and would be the best bet to eclipse 20 points form this group. He should get his share of routes against the Witherspoon who is getting roasted outside. The Seattle running game is a 3 headed committee that cannibalizes itself. The Niners have a pretty good run defense, making this group less appealing than other options on the slate.
Chicago Bears (24.25/-4) at New York Giants (20.25/+4) [44.5]
The Bears will be without Trubisky in this game, leading to another start for Chase Daniel ($4800). His salary will make him an attractive punt for some, but the Giants have a pretty good pass defense, so I wouldn’t expect much if you roster him. For the most part, I’m really only focused on the running game and the defense for the Bears here. Jordan Howard ($4000) will go overlooked by most, but is in a pretty good spot. Josh Adams, a similarly one dimensional back, just ran all over the Giants defense, mostly all in one half. A full four quarters of Howard and Tarik Cohen ($5600) playing a thunder and lightning type game could be all it takes for the Bears to outscore the Giants and allow their studs on the Bears DST ($3300) to get sacks and turnovers to keep the Giants from winning. A player who could throw a wrench into the backfield rotation could be Taquan Mizzell ($3100) who came out of nowhere last week to steal a few touches and a TD from Howard and Cohen.
Eli Manning ($5000) has taken a league high 38 sacks so far this year and will be under heavy pressure in this one. Odell Beckham ($7800) has already acknowledged he’s going to need to “get open fast” to help his QB. This could help OBJ get some volume, but he’ll need to be able to get yards after the catch to get to the 100 yard bonus – which he is capable of. The Bears defense does a good job of limiting YAC, and tends to force you to go over the top of them more than underneath. Will Eli have time for that though? Evan Engram projects to miss this one, so you could do a little punting at TE this week with Rhett Ellison ($2600) who had 6 targets and put up a serviceable 11.7 DK points last week. The Giants would be wise to study what the Lions did on offense to get Kerryon Johnson and LeGarrette Blount loose in both games they played the Bears. The Detroit backs account for 3 of the 4 rushing TDs allowed by the Bears this year, with Nathan Peterman owning the other one. Besides those two guys, James White is the only other RB to have an impact against this defense. Saquon Barkley ($7900) has proven to be match-up proof and needs to be considered in this one. He should see a ton of passes to go along with whatever success he finds on the ground. He’s a top option at RB this week, even against a tough Bears defense.
Arizona Cardinals (14.75/+14) at Green Bay Packers (28.75/-14) [43.5]
The Arizona offense totals less than 50 run and pass attempts per game on the road, which is the lowest total in the league. There is just not enough talent and volume to work with here. The Packers have been soft against the run this year, so David Johnson ($7400) is as far as I’ll dig into the Cards here.
I keep waiting for “Angry Aaron” Rodgers ($6200) to happen, but since their bye week the Packers offense has mostly been a shit-show. He had two huge games prior to the bye, before they committed to running more, but has been quiet ever since. I would expect them to continue to run based on the success they’ve had doing so, but it sounds like Angry Aaron might be a thing this week, finally. Randall Cobb ($4500) told reports this week Rodgers is getting ready to light everybody up.
“I know with all the noise that’s been said over the past week about him, he’s getting ready to light everybody up this week. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”
I’m buying it…again. Patrick Peterson could potentially follow Davante Adams ($7900) around this week, which is a tough match-up to overcome, so I may focus on rostering Rodgers and Aaron Jones ($6700) and leave the receivers off the stack. The Cards are one of the top teams to pick on with RBs and Jones has been excellent this season. Against the Dolphins (a similarly weak against the run defense that Jones caught at home in Green Bay) Jones went ham carrying the ball 15 times for 145 yards. I wouldn’t expect that lofty of a box score here, especially if Rodgers is set to light it up, but he should project for enough volume and yards per run/catch to be a 20+ point play. Rostering Rodgers and Jones should capture all the TD upside in this game. Given how bad the Cardinals offense is, I would also consider rostering the Packers DST ($2800) here.
Denver Broncos (25.25/-5) at Cincinnati Bengals (20.25/+5) [45.5]
The Bengals have been getting pummeled by opposing rushing attacks, which is where i would expect the Broncos to focus their offense this week. Phillip Lindsay ($5400) has a 4.8 yards per carry average which is 4th in the NFL, per ESPN’s list of qualified rushers, and he is getting around 60% of the Bronco’s RB snaps. He’s in a really good spot this week in a game that both teams have low run/pass play totals and will each like to rely on the run to hide their passing games. Lindsay should see 12-18 carries and 3-5 targets, which should get him somewhere around 100 total yards. Cincy is the 4th worst in red zone defense, allowing teams to score 70% of the time. Lindsay and Royce Freeman ($3600) each handled 5 red zone opportunities a couple games back with them being split 5 targets to Lindsay and 5 carries for Freeman making either guy capable of scoring a TD or two. If not rostering Lindsay, the other main offensive player worth considering is Emmanuel Sanders ($6300). If looking to punt at TE, then minimum priced Matt LaCosse ($2500) is your guy. Heuerman was placed on IR this week, leaving LaCosse as the main target at TE going forward. The Bengals have allowed some good games to TE, and just gave up TDs to Njoku and Fells last week.
Besides LaCosse, this game offers another intriguing value play. Jeff Driskell ($4500) is taking over for Andy Dalton to finish out the season. Driskell is more willing to take some chances with the ball and is a mobile guy – he’s already rushed for 2 TDs this year in limited action. He could easily pick up 30-40 rushing yards and a TD for 9-10 points, plus throw for another 200 yards and a TD, which would add another 12 points. The path to 20 points is within reach here, and only costs 9% of your salary budget. With some expensive high end players on the board, you have to take a long look at what Driskell frees up for you during roster construction. He’ll likely be the chalk sauce in cash games, and that may carry over into high ownership in GPPs, too. He’s got two good WRs to throw to and stack with as well. A.J. Green ($7400) should be back from his toe injury this week, and would benefit from a gunslinger at QB. Getting A.J. Green back should help Tyler Boyd ($6100), who has had to steady the ship at WR for the last few weeks. Boyd’s best games this year have come with AJG on the field, and him working the slot areas is usually an easy find for a QB under pressure, and I am assuming the QB will see plenty of pressure from Von Miller and company against the Bengals depleted OL. Also a friend to back-up QBs is the running game. Joe Mixon ($7300) saw a boost in snaps and usage last week and posted a 22 point game, marking his 4th game over 20 points out of 9 games this year. He should be a good bet to make it a 5th game over 20, as long as he sees that type of target share again in this one.
New York Jets (15.75/+9) at Tennessee Titans (24.75/-9) [40.5]
Jermaine Kearse ($4000) is the only punt on the Jets worthy of consideration this week. The Titans match up well against most positions, and the best spot to target is whoever is likely to draw Malcolm Butler in coverage. Butler is in the concussion protocol, so he may or may not play. Kearse would likely draw him in two WR sets, but will rotate with Enunwa in the slot. Kearse isn’t a great play, and there are other options around this salary range that could have a better game.
The Jets defense has been having a tough time stopping RBs lately, so Dion Lewis ($5300) and Derrick Henry ($3800) would be reasonable pivot options at the position this week. The last time Lewis faced the Jets was week 17 last year and he posted a 31 point game. That was with the Patriots, but he does have familiarity in facing these guys twice a year. It’s hard to know for sure what you’ll get with Corey Davis ($5500), but he is the primary weapon in the passing game. He’s coming off back to back 4 target games after having back to back 10 target games before that. He’ll likely draw the tough match-up against Mo Claiborne, but as we saw when the Titans played the Patriots, they could move him around and take advantage of Buster Skrine in the slot.
Buffalo Bills (18.25/+3.5) at Miami Dolphins (21.75/-3.5) 
Josh Allen ($5300) and LeSean McCoy ($4900) should be able to move the ball on the ground against a struggling Miami front seven. The Bills are auditioning pass catchers to close out the year, so guys like Robert Foster ($3300) and Isaiah McKenzie ($3200) may have another week or few to show they can play in this league. Foster is coming off consecutive games with over 16.5 points and an average of 3.5 targets – 2.5 receptions – 99.5 yards – and 0.5 TDs. He’s a pretty decent option in the lower range of pricing for punt WRs this week.
Ryan Tannehill ($4900) had a pretty decent game on the road in Indy upon his return from injury. He priced like a punt, and is worth consideration, although it should be noted that Buffalo has shut down any non-elite-veteran QBs this year. The run game has had more success against Buffalo than passing, so figuring out how healthy Kenyan Drake ($4600) is will be an idea to keep in mind. He’s more of a contrarian gamble than an optimal play, but he’s capable of a big play from time to time which will help reach bonus yardage points. Miami’s pass catchers are too unreliable to consider, but they are cheap.
It’s kind of crazy having the extra 3 games back on the main slate. Even without some of the elite offenses on the slate, there is still plenty to ponder as you design your roster(s) this weekend. Lot’s of reasonable punt option open up with the added games, so cramming in multiple top tier players is doable. It will also bring ownership down on players that would otherwise be heavy chalk just based on match-up. I wouldn’t worry too much about ownership this week and instead, focus on optimal plays and calculated risks for punts and contrarian pieces to add to large field GPPs and/or contests where you’re going to multi-enter. Best of luck to you this week, and thanks for reading!