DraftKings Chalk, Pivots & Punts: Week 14
Welcome to NFL Week 14 folks! 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 is 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. This week i have also included my projected plays and pass/run ratios into the grid.
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.
New Orleans Saints (32.0/-9.5) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (22.5/+9.5) [54.5]
While the Saints are trying to lock up home field advantage for as much of the playoffs they can, Tampa is actually still in the hunt for a wild card spot. The odds are long, but they will fight hard in this game. Tampa surprised everyone by going into New Orleans in week 1 and winning the first meeting between these teams by a score of 48 to 40. The Saints will look to return the favor here. The first position group that stands out to me when the Saints hit the road is their running backs, since they tend to skew play calling that way (50% road run ratio compared to 46% at home). Alvin Kamara ($8100) and Mark Ingram ($5700) are both in a good spot here. Last week, 20.5 of CMC’s points against the Bucs defense were from receiving stats, while 13.6 came from the rushing stats. Kamara will see more of that receiving volume than Ingram, but as we can see, both can have a good game here and it’s not out of the question to play them both. Last week the Bucs gave up a 300-yard passing game and 2 TDs to Cam, so Drew Brees ($6600) is obviously an option here. His salary is QB3 for this slate, making him a tougher buy if you’re trying to cram in 3 stud RBs, which almost makes him a pivot play to leverage against the folks paying up for RBs this week by paying up for QB and pass catchers. Michael Thomas ($8600) has a WR2 salary, and would complete the pivot stack. I was playing around with a full stack of Brees, Thomas, Kamara, Ingram, and pricing is not so tough as you can put that stack together and still like the rest of your line-up. If you want to pay down and take on a little more risk with the Saints WRs against the Bucs JV secondary, there’s Keith Kirkwood ($3500) and the enigmatic Tre’Quan Smith ($4500). Word of warning with Brees is he tends to produce less appealing stats in outdoor road games. The weather is supposed to be windy and rainy in this one, so Brees may be someone to fade – or use as a contrarian play knowing the Saints are still going to be playing for the win against another prolific offense.
The Bucs still have something to play for on multiple fronts. The team is still chasing a wild card spot and the coaches are trying to save their jobs. Jameis Winston($6200) is playing to prove he belongs in Tampa next year, and has had a very solid two games in a row now. In both of his last two games, Winston has thrown for 2 TDs and hasn’t turned the ball over. OC Todd Monken is calling more conservative game-plans that are allowing Winston to hit high percentage throws and keep the offense on the field to hide the defense. Guys like Chris Godwin ($4900) and Adam Humphries ($4900) are benefiting from the modified scheme the Bucs are running now, and they will continue to be featured as long as Desean Jackson ($4800) is out. Mike Evans ($7500) continues to be boom or bust. His last game was pedestrian, and there are two cheaper options at WR for the Bucs that the field can flock to and get exposure to this game with making Evans a pivot option in the higher range of WR pricing this week. Evans has a 30+ ceiling every week, and hit that ceiling the last time he played the Saints. Marshon Lattimore has stepped his game up since he shadowed Evans in week 1, so this could be a bit tougher of a match-up, and the weather concerns may force shorter throws (Evans is not known for his run after catch yards). Cameron Brate ($3500) is a TD dependent, security blanket for Jamies, but the Saints are tough against TEs making him a risky play.
Atlanta Falcons (23.5/+4.5) at Green Bay Packers (28.0/-4.5) [51.5]
The Falcons head north to take on a team that just fired their 13-year tenured head coach. Typically, this will fire a team up. Maybe it will get the Packers riled up, but it seems more like a relief as they gently play out the rest of the season and look forward to next year. I would expect Rodgers to play better which could lead to more scoring by Green Bay which would require more scoring from the Falcons. Matt Ryan ($5600) is a nice value pivot in this game if it shoots out. In which case he should get back up into the 300-yard bonus territory and throw for a couple of TDs. His upside receivers are Julio Jones ($7900) and Calvin Ridley ($5200) as they take turns avoiding Jaire Alexander’s coverage. As a fun anecdote, the last time Julio played in Green Bay he went for 259 yards. I would expect GB to focus on him heavily, which makes Ridley a nice pivot play here. Austin Hooper ($4300) may be able to find some extra room with Ibraheim Campbell going to IR. Hooper has been a bit of an underrated fantasy asset this year that can pop off for solid games fairly often. His price has been raised to reflect how DK views his role and production, so he might be one to wait on when he’s priced back down again.
Aaron Rodgers ($6000) won the power struggle and got McCarthy fired. Another 50 pass attempts incoming. Rodgers is one of my favorite QBs on the slate, as he has something to prove after ousting McCarthy. His ego is going to want to show off that he was right, and that they are better off without Mike. I would expect him to heavily target Davante Adams ($8400) who should be in for a big game, too. The Falcons defense has been a gold mine for opposing RBs, which puts Aaron Jones ($7200) in a great spot this week. We’ll see how much Rodgers calls his number though. Rodgers likes him, which is good, and maybe this will increase his pass catching role which is already pretty solid at around 5 targets a game over the last 5 games. Marquez Valdes-Scantling ($4400) has seen a decent amount of opportunity since Allison went to IR. His price is reasonable and he should be able to get the better of Brian Poole in the slot, but he’s not a priority play on a 13 game slate.
Pittsburgh Steelers (30.75/-10) at Oakland Raiders (20.75/+10) [51.5]
As noted in this article when the Steelers went to Denver a few weeks ago, Ben Roethlisberger ($6800) is pretty average when coming out west, and Denver proved that point. Oakland does not have the defense or altitude of Denver, but the Steelers will still be put to the test with their feature back set to miss this game. There are still players from the Steelers side that are intriguing though. The Raiders defense plays tough on the boundaries and forces everything to flow toward the middle of the field. Vance McDonald ($3800) is one of two value plays I will be looking at to pivot off the outside guys who may be challenged more than people think. Our handy little match-up chart above shows the Raiders don’t bother to stop TEs, and McDonald is an athletic player for the position who could be in for a big day. The other guy I like here is Jaylen Samuels ($3700). Sure, Tomlin said this is going to be a time share, and that’s fine if it is. Samuels is the pass catching component of this time share, and if Ryan Switzer ($3600) who is in the concussion protocol misses this game, then Samuels is going to be busy catching all the underneath stuff. Samuels is a cheap play against one of the worst defenses against RBs on the slate, which means he’ll be chalky.
The Steelers defense leads the league in sacks and the Raiders offense has allowed the 5th most sacks per game. Queue up the Steelers DST ($3000) in this one and fade pretty much all of the Raiders offensive pieces. The only Raider of interest here would be Jared Cook ($5200), but he is priced way up. He is pretty much all the Raiders have at this point though, so he could see a ton of targets. His match-up gets even better if Morgan Burnett cannot play.
List of beat writers by team: https://t.co/NTLDb6BZY9
— Jess (@majesstik1) April 23, 2018
Follow me on Twitter
Baltimore Ravens (22.0/+7) at Kansas City Chiefs (29.0/-7) 
This will be an interesting match-up. The Ravens are currently in the playoffs as the final wild-card team, and they get a chance to face off against the team many expect to win the AFC. How much do you show here if you’re the Ravens? You have to play to win to maintain your playoff spot, but you also have to consider how much you put on tape for them to digest in case you meet again in the post-season. Ultimately, winning take precedence, so the Ravens will do everything they can here. The Ravens defense is going to have to dig in and keep their team in it, as Morninghweg tries to call as many run plays to shorten this game as possible. The Ravens may have to lean on Lamar Jackson ($5700) as a passer more in this game, if the Chiefs start building a multi-score lead. We haven’t seen what that looks like yet, but his salary has that uncertainty built in. The Chiefs have a great pass rush, which Morninghweg will try to negate with the threat of Jackson as a runner, or with his ability to break the pocket on a pass play and get up field or find a receiver breaking coverage. If the Ravens can figure out how to keep Houston, Ford, and Jones off Jackson, he has a chance to put up some solid numbers. The RB situation is muddled with 3 guys right now, with perhaps Ty Montgomery ($4000) as the most playable of the trio due to his pass catching skills, which can also help slow down the rush with quick screens to him. Gus Edwards ($4500) is TD and yardage dependent and not really on my radar. John Brown ($4200) is dirt cheap and has the explosive ability to change the game for the Ravens if they need it. He’s a reasonable punt option capable of picking up 20+ points. Most of the field will look at his recent box scores and fade, but I’m keeping him in my player pool. As a last note for the Ravens, there is a concern in the back of my head that of they get down too far and need to pass to get back in the game, it’s conceivable they bring in Joe Flacco to air it out and spark a comeback, which makes Jackson a riskier play than it might appear.
The Chiefs are looking for a win to stay ahead of the Patriots and Texans atop the AFC. This will not be an easy out for them, as the Ravens defense has smothered just about everyone. Pat Mahomes ($7000 – QB1) has had two home match-ups against comparably tough defenses this year (JAX & ARI), and both times produced his lowest two scores of the year – which for Mahomes is still a 20 point game. However, that’s a concern with his $7k salary. Are we paying for 20 points here? Can we buy 20 points elsewhere for cheaper? Maybe instead of paying up for Mahomes, we should be looking at paying up for Tyreek Hill ($8000) and/or Travis Kelce ($6700) who were both marked down in salary for this match-up, with Hill seeing a significant $1100 discount. Tyreek Hill has shown he is capable of breaking a slate this year and coming off a down week against the Raiders might mean he’s already due again. He has 40 point potential any week, and no one on the Ravens will be able to run with him, so he has to be high in your player pool. Tony Jefferson missed last week’s game and I sent out a tweet saying Austin Hooper was in a good spot. If Jefferson misses again (looks like he will) Kelce will be in a smash spot. From a talent and match-up perspective, Kelce is the top TE on the slate, as usual. The Chiefs running backs didn’t look impressive enough against the Raiders soft front to warrant consideration for me here.
Indianapolis Colts (22.75/+4.5) at Houston Texans (27.25/-4.5) 
The Colts just went into Jacksonville and got skunked. This game doesn’t get any easier for them with the way the Texans have been playing on defense lately. When these teams played in Indy back in week 4, Nyheim Hines ($4200), Eric Ebron ($5700), and Chester Rogers ($3000) had good games. That was also the game T.Y. Hilton ($6300) got hurt and would miss the next two games after. Hilton still managed 115 yards before bowing out. If you replace the now-defunct Rogers with a healthy Hilton, I think we have our most likely trio to have an impact in this game. Marlon Mack ($4600) wasn’t playing yet when these two last met, so he could throw a wrench in Hines’ value if the Colts use him as the pass-catching back. That’s probably not going to happen though. Hines is coming off a 9 target game (he also had 9 targets against the Texans) and Mack hasn’t seen more than 2 targets in a game since week 8. More than likely Mack and Hines will cancel each other out as fantasy options this week and neither does anything noteworthy. At WR, the Texans are coming off a game where both Landry and Higgins scored 16 on them, and Corey Davis scored 23 the week before. The Colts will figure out a way to get Hilton open and he should be the most productive player for them in this game, unless it’s Ebron. The Texans went into last game allowing “fantasy stalwarts” Jeff Heuerman, Jonnu Smith, and the corpse of Jordan Reed to put up two 20 point games and a 14 point game (Smith) against them before holding Njoku to pennies on the dollar. I wonder what Ebron can do? He put up a 15 point game without Jack Doyle in the week 4 meeting. Seems to be a likely scoring area he’ll land again here. For $5700 though, I’ll pass on the 2.6x value per dollar. He’s going to need around 23 points to hit 4x value, so you have to consider whether that is achievable to roster him. Due to the nature of the Texans defense, the Colts will be forced to pass. They won’t be playing on an outdoor, natural grass surface subject to weather concerns in this one so Andrew Luck ($5900) has some intrigue as a pivot play in the mid-range of QB salaries this week. However, I’d rather roster the QB on the other side.
The QB I prefer to roster in this game will be Deshaun Watson ($5900) who is priced exactly the same as Luck, but has a rushing floor to push his upside higher. The downside with Watson comes from the defense scoring TDs and playing so well he doesn’t have to do a ton to win games. That should change here as the Colts are fighting for their playoff chances and would be 2 losses behind the Texans for the division title with a win. Watson may need to put up 2 or 3 TDs in this one again (he had 3 in Indy), and he may need to get yards running the ball. He’s not a priority play but is someone to think about. DeAndre Hopkins ($7800) had himself a nice day in Indy, in fact, it was his best game of the season so far. The Colts are a tough match-up and haven’t allowed a WR to crack 20 points since Hopkins, so he’s a bet on talent play in a home game that his team needs to win to keep their playoff positioning secure in their chase for the #2 spot and a first-round bye. Overall, this game has the look of a lower scoring affair than the previous game, so I won’t invest heavily in it, but it’s worth grabbing a piece here or there in case it does go for another 60+ points. This would be an ideal contrarian game stack scenario, actually.
New England Patriots (28.0/-8) at Miami Dolphins (20.0/+8) 
The Patriots have had issues beating the Dolphins down in Miami over the past 5 seasons, but that could change here. The Phin’s best CB (Xavien Howard) is going to miss this game, so Tom Brady ($5800) and company should be able to bounce back and put up some points in this game. Josh Gordon ($6000) should be the primary beneficiary of this loss for the Dolphins, and the duo of Brady and Gordon could be a real nice low owned stack for this slate. The Dolphins have had 2 games in a row where they look like they have improved against the running game, but the Patriots have a strong running game they will look to unleash here. Sony Michel ($5900) and James White ($6600) combined for 48 points in the Foxborough match-up between these teams this year. I would expect more of the same, with White looking at another 6-9 targets against a team that cannot cover running backs. Julian Edelman ($7100) also has an exploitable match-up against Bobby McCain in the slot.
The only 2 players on the Dolphins I would consider this week are Kenyan Drake ($4500) against a beatable Patriots linebacking corps, and Ryan Tannehill as a deep punt option. Tannehill is capable of getting 16-18 points in this game if you find points at other positions you think will make up for the shortage at QB.
Carolina Panthers (24.5/-1.5) at Cleveland Browns (23.0/+1.5) [47.5]
With so much value on the slate, it’s going to be hard to come up with an excuse not to roster Christian McCaffrey ($9300), even if he is the most costly player this week. The Browns defense is easy for a good RB to destroy (see: Hunt, Gordon, Mixon, Conner), and with the volume CMC gets he should be able to post a 30+ point game here. He’s going to be the first guy I plug into rosters and build from there. He may be chalky, but the high salary may force some folks off and keep ownership somewhat moderate. Cam Newton ($6300) is nursing a sore shoulder, but should be a go in this one. The shoulder issue only amplifies the opportunities CMC should see as a short option in the passing game, and possibly allow him to get a few more goal to go carries to prevent Cam from getting hurt any further. The Panthers still have a shot at the playoffs, and need to protect Cam and win as much as possible. Ian Thomas ($2700) will likely be a popular RB punt people will look to as they try to squeeze in the high priced lock plays on the slate. He’s not a bad option, but you won’t gain any leverage by using him.
Baker Mayfield ($5800) is back at home after coming back down to earth last week. Mayfield is a good pivot option in a game against a team with a solid run defense that begs you to pass on them. The Panthers are allowing 2.33 passing TD per game and have allowed multiple passing TDs in 5 of 6 games on the road. Both marks are the second highest on the slate. The receiving option they have had the most problems with is at TE, where David Njoku ($3900) is banged up but is a great option this week. Mayfield tends to spread the ball around, but Njoku, Jarvis Landry ($5800), and Antonio Callaway ($3900) seem to be the top three targets. Of the three, only Njoku’s target volume is appropriate for their position comparatively. A Mayfield/Njoku stack will be a solid salary saving pivot stack.
Cincinnati Bengals (16.5/+14.5) at Los Angeles Chargers (31.0/-14.5) [47.5]
The Bengals have no chance in this one. If you want to play something from their side of the game it’s either Joe Mixon ($6400) or C.J. Uzomah ($3500), but they are contrarian plays in the weaker areas of the Chargers defensive match-ups.
The Chargers have been one of the more efficient and dominating teams in the league this year, and seem to be flying under the radar a bit. The Bengals present a dream match-up for RBs, allowing the most carries and rushing yards per game on the slate. Justin Jackson ($3800) will be a popular play this week due to his low salary and expected workload. Austin Ekeler ($6200) has been a stick in the mud in his two starts replacing Melvin Gordon ($8000) this year, and Jackson outperformed him when finally given some opportunities against a solid Steelers run defense. I would guess the Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn (who is a former RB) would see this and make the shift to Jackson as the lead runner with Ekeler being the changeup and passing down back. But, we can never count on smart coaching in the NFL. Vontaze Burfict is battling a concussion and would be a boost to this backfield if he were to miss the game. As for the passing game, we have two guys playing out of their minds right now. Phillip Rivers ($6500) may not need to do much in this one if the running game is crushing it, but he’s always in consideration. Keenan Allen ($7400) has been terrorizing defenses since the Chargers bye week. He was targeted 19 times last week. While we can’t expect that to happen here in a game that will likely be dominated by the run, we can still project 9-12 targets and a possible 100-yard bonus, or a 5th straight game with a TD. Rivers and Allen are leverage plays if you think the field will be high on Jackson.
Denver Broncos (24.25/-3.5) at San Francisco 49ers (20.75/+3.5) 
The Broncos offense was dealt a severe blow this week with the loss of Manny Sanders. It’s unfortunate for everyone involved, include the first roster I constructed that had Manny in it. The Niners are easy to be through the air, and he is their best WR. Now we have to rely on less proven options like Courtland Sutton ($4500), DaeSean Hamilton ($3000), and Tim Patrick ($3000). I would rank them in that order as well. Based on The Quant Edge and Pro Football Focus data, Sutton lines up the most frequent on Ahkello Witherspoon’s side of the defense which is who we want to target. Sutton is going to be a popular play with the Sanders news, his price, and this match-up. I’m probably still going to roster him because of what it opens up for roster construction, and because he is a potential 4 times value and 20+ point play. Additional research into the TQE WR/CB Match-Up Tool indicates Sutton’s path to success may be in running corner and crossing routes.
An option to leverage against the Sutton field would be to take on a bigger risk and roster Hamilton in the slot. The Niners have been beaten a few times this year by slot receivers. Hamilton is a bigger leap of faith, but really opens up a lot more with salary and you could put all the risk on just him in your line-ups. Broncos OC Bill Musgrave has indicated he’ll see the ball more this week, and not have to be the 6th offensive lineman. Phillip Lindsay ($6300) continues to dominate on an efficiency basis. The guy is averaging 6.1 yards per carry on 154 carries this year, which leads the league. The Niners defense is better against the run than pass, but has allowed lead backs to score about 14 points a game against them over the last 4 out of 5 games. That’s about the middle project range for Lindsay, who could surpass 20 points. The last 3 QBs to face the Niners have averages 22.4 points per game which makes Case Keenum ($5200) an interesting punt option at QB.
Similar to the bad news regarding Manny Sanders, the Broncos also lost their top CB Chris Harris. Former Niner CB Trumaine Brock might miss this one, too. The 49ers are getting back their best WR this week with the return of Marquise Goodwin ($4700). I don’t want to speculate why Goodwin was away from the team, though I have my guess. I will say this could be an emotional game for him. Last year when he came back and played an emotional game he scored an 83 yard TD. Emotion narrative aside, the Broncos don’t have anyone who can run with Goodwin once he puts the jets on. I will have some exposure to Goodwin this week because I think he’s a good play, and I think there may be some extra motivation in his heart for this one. Meanwhile, Dante Pettis ($4400) is coming off of two games where he’s looked great, including a 32.7 DK point effort last week in Seattle. Pettis is another good play in a game where no one has a secondary to stop the other team. The Broncos defense has tightened up against the run the past two weeks, and the Niners are down to their 5th string RB who looked pretty solid running and catching the ball in Seattle last week. Jeff Wilson ($3800) is a cheap punt option at RB here, but may not be able to reach the same pass-catching number to get him over the 20 point hump in this game. Nick Mullens ($4600) started out good his first two games at home in Santa Clara, then had to go on the road. In his second road start ever, he managed to drop 414 passing yards in Seattle. Given that neither team has a secondary, he is an interesting punt option at QB. The Broncos have been hit or miss against TEs, but the one they have faced twice that compares the most to George Kittle ($5500) is Travis Kelce and he’s had a couple 20 point games. It wouldn’t surprise me if Kittle did the same.
This game presents so much value and should reach the implied total, which seems to be climbing as the week progresses. It’s not a bad idea to build your optimal roster using the top plays from the higher scoring games and pull your value plays out of this game.
Philadelphia Eagles (20.5/+3.5) at Dallas Cowboys (24.0/-3.5) [44.5]
If the Eagles can pull off the win in Dallas, they will match records with the Cowboys at 7-6. The last time these two teams played (4 weeks ago) Zach Ertz ($6400) went bonkers and scored 43.5 DK points. The Cowboys will look to correct that in this game. Still, Ertz is a good play any week, regardless of opponent. Golden Tate ($4800) was still new to the team in that game versus Dallas in week 10, and is starting to see more involvement in the Eagles offense including 85 yards and a TD last week. This will be Tate’s third meeting with the ‘boys, with his first coming as a member of the Lions in week 4. Tate dog-walked the Cowboys defense to the tune of 132 yards and 2 TDs. He’s the fist place I’m looking in this pivotal match-up with that salary. Carson Wentz ($5400) is cheap, and he threw for 360 yards and 2 TDs last time he faced Dallas. Another 300 yard game with 2 TDs here is worth 23 points. It’s going to be hard to find a cheaper 23 points at QB this week. The Eagles have faced a lot of tough run defenses this year, which the Cowboys are, and they’ve had some decent success. However, with the return of Sproles, it’s unlikely any one of the backfield trio can reach 20 points.
Dallas only has two guys that warrant weekly fantasy consideration, and they are Ezekiel Elliott ($8600) and Amari Cooper ($6600). The Eagles secondary is decimated by injuries but has stepped up lately. Other than Tre’Quan Smith’s breakout game, no other WR has gone for over 20 points against the Eagles since week 5. It’s possible another rookie WR can catch the Eagles off guard, but not probable. If one does, Michael Gallup ($3700) would be that guy. Gallup has seen his targets increase from 5 to 6 to 7 each of the last 3 weeks, and if Philly keys on Cooper he could get loose.
New York Giants (22.25/-3.5) at Washington Redskins (18.75/+3.5) 
Honestly, you don’t need to tell you Saquon Barkley ($8900) is a match-up proof, elite option that has to be considered at all times. Play him in some of your line-ups. Odell Beckham ($8300) is also an elite player, but he struggled in his match-up with Josh Norman earlier this year. On 68% of his routes, Norman shadowed him and he didn’t catch either target he saw in his coverage. Luckily, the Giants got him away from Norman for the other 32% of his routes and he was still able to put up 24.6 DK points. It might be time to put Sterling Shepard ($4400) on a milk carton. Where the heck is he? The Giants can’t expect to win games with just Saquon and Odell…unless they’re not trying to win anymore and get draft position for a new QB. Still, it’s possible there’s one more Sterling sighting this year and this could be the game for that.
What is it with Redskin QBs and breaking a leg? Sheesh. Also, did we catch the Mark Sanchez ($4000) play last week where he recovered a fumble using his butt? Some things just never change. The Redskins are actually still in the playoff hunt, and with a win here and a Philly win, the NFC East will have three 7-6 teams. The way the Redskins are going to have to do it is with defense and their running backs. The Giants are easier to beat on the ground so we should see plenty of Adrian Peterson ($4800) and Chris Thompson ($5400) in this one. I lean toward Peterson more here, as Washington should be trying to shorten the game with running plays. The Redskins DST ($2300) is also in play as a reasonable punt option against the team allowing the third most sacks in the league. Landon Collins just went to IR for the Giants, perhaps this frees up some room for the corpse of Jordan Reed ($4600) to score more than the 10.8 he put up against the Giants last game.
Detroit Lions (21.75/-3) at Arizona Cardinals (18.75/+3) [40.5]
With Kerryon set to miss another game, this looks like a Blount week. LeGarrette Blount ($3900) steamrolled a terrific Bears defense two weeks ago, then got shut down by the Rams a last week. The Cardinals have a good pass defense so opponents are avoiding that option and instead of calling the most rushing plays against them when they visit the desert birds. Blount is not known for his pass game involvement, so we’re betting on TDs and some yards if we play him. If you’re planning on playing Gus Bus you might want to think about pivoting down to Blount instead. Theo Riddick ($4700) should also be involved, but has a low ceiling and isn’t really in consideration for me here. The Cards don’t often use Patrick Peterson in shadow coverage, but they may consider it here with only one threat left in the Lions passing game. Kenny Golladay ($6400) is sure to see a lot of targets in this one, and if the Lions are smart they will send him on a lot of slants and corner routes if he’s matched up on Peterson. Let’s have another look at the TQE WR/CB Match-Up chart that shows these routes as a strength for Kenny G and a weakness for PP7.
Outside of Golladay and Blount, there are no Lions we need to seriously consider here.
The Cardinals were gifted with a win in Green Bay by Aaron Rodgers who must have been wishing for his HC to get fired for his birthday. Green Bay is a better team than Detroit, and the Cards pulled that win off on the road. The Cardinals offense is a slow paced, protect the rookie QB type outfit. Not a lot to work with from a fantasy perspective under those terms. David Johnson ($6500) has been a season long bust, but has had some games in which he was DFS relevant. This should be one of those games. His increase in usage since Leftwich took over as the OC has been encouraging, but it would be nice to see more targets. The Lions are good on the interior defensive line and they allow the 8th highest percentage of passes to RBs in the league per a chart that Anthony Staggs (@PyroStagg) posts every week on Twitter so we could see those targets come here. The loss of Christian Kirk could also indirectly divert some targets his way. Larry Fitzgerald ($4900) will lead the WR group in targets and has a fantastic match-up against Nevin Lawson in the slot. The Cardinals DST is mispriced this week at $2300, so take advantage of that. The Lions offensive line struggles to stop pressure and sacks from good opposing pass rushes (see: LAR, CHI, MIN) and Arizona is third int he NFL in sacks. The Lions also have the 8th most INTs thrown this year. Arizona DST is in a really good spot here.
New York Jets (17.25/+3.5) at Buffalo Bills (20.75/-3.5) 
According to Anthony Stagg’s chart mentioned in the last paragraph, the Bills are a team opponents target a lot with their RBs. The Jets primary pass-catching back is Elijah McGuire ($3400), though the last two games have seen Isaiah Crowell have more targets come his way. Crowell is questionable in this game, so should he get ruled out, McGuire is a legit punt option. Crowell has been vocal about his frustration with his role in the offense, and he got the squeaky-wheel treatment last week. Maybe they do that again if he plays.
The Jets force you to throw to your WRs, and mainly to the slot receiver. That puts Zay Jones ($4200) in play as a good option form a bad game. The Bills DST ($3200) is also in play, but maybe a bit chalky.
Each week of DFS has been a demonstration of how valuable guys like Todd Gurley, Christian McCaffrey, Saquon Barkley and company are to your rosters. Find a core of elite RBs and/or good ones in a good match-up and use whatever combinations of 3 from that core you can in as many line-ups as you can and plug-in value at the other positions. Three elite RBs is usually a path to 80+ points, then you have to find the 70+ points between your other 6 spots to make sure you cross the cash line these days. Hopefully, we all find the right combos at are fighting for the top of the standings in GPPS this week. Thanks for reading, and best of luck in week 14!