Week 14 Folks! Every year it seems the weeks fly by at a faster pace with this NFL season being no exception. This week we’ll take a look at where our best laid plans could go exactly the way we drew them up, and the unfortunate instances where they may go oh so very wrong. Here are the premium, mid-tier, and value, boom and bust candidates for Week 14.
Premium Play: Christian McCaffrey FD: $9,100 | DK: $9,300
As hard as it is to admit, I’m a “proud” Browns fan. So, this is my attempt to provide some
objective analysis on the week by stating the fairly obvious fact that McCaffrey is a smash play on this slate. The Browns are a much-improved team over prior years but that doesn’t change what elite level running backs have been able to do to this defense. Alvin Kamara, Kareem Hunt, and James Connor have all absolutely feasted against this Browns defense and we shouldn’t expect anything less from CMC in this spot.
McCaffrey has been on an absolute tear as of late and, despite the hefty price tag on both sites, should be able to return plenty of value. McCaffrey is a top Running Back in the league when it comes to raw opportunities and has featured an insane 97% snap share on the season. Gone are the days of Cam Newton simply deciding to break the plane himself, as McCaffrey has also featured 43 red zone touches on the year placing him in the top 5 of all RB’s in that category. There’s a good reason McCaffrey represents the most expensive Running Back option on the main slate this week, if you’ve got the salary to fit him, don’t overthink it.
Mid-Tier Play: Lamar Jackson FD: $7,500 | DK: $5,700
I don’t want to say I told you so, but, I told you so. I’ve been on the Lamar Jackson train since Week 11 and I don’t plan on getting off anytime soon. While John Harbaugh seems reluctant to come straight out and say it, it would appear theirs a new sheriff in town in Baltimore, and that spells opportunity from a fantasy perspective.
Since Week 11, Jackson has posted 19.9, 22.2, and 17.5 DraftKings points and on that site his price just dropped back down! There are so many things I like about this spot for Jackson. First off, the Chiefs defense is terrible, it has been all year long. They make up for this by posting ridiculous numbers on offense but that offensive picture has recently changed. The recent Kareem Hunt fiasco suggests to me the Chiefs game plan is going to consist of chucking the ball down field and seeing just how high they can run up this score.
Jackson will inevitably be forced into the same situation as everyone else who has played the Chiefs this year, and that’s to play from behind. Throwing a huge number of passes, extending plays, and picking up yards with his feet. There is an unbelievable amount of opportunity here from a fantasy perspective, and with so many QB’s priced up this week, this seems like the perfect place to grab a ton of value at a critical position.
Value Play: Chris Conley FD: $4,700 | DK: $3,800
I’m drinking from the same well here and running my Lamar Jackson call back with a Chiefs wide receiver on the other side. As is so often the case with value plays, this depends heavily on injury news. Sammy Watkins is still listed as questionable, dealing with a foot injury that held him out of the Week 13 contest against Raiders. If he’s ruled out on Sunday, then I believe we can go back to Conley who should receive the start in his place.
Baltimore certainly has one of the top defenses in the league this season, and their especially good at halting the opposing team’s rushing game. With Hunt out of the picture, the Chiefs will almost undoubtedly favor their elite passing attack which consists mainly of All Star candidates Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce. Assuming Baltimore’s attention is focused on halting the production of those top two options, this could very likely open up an opportunity for Conley, who represents a potentially overlooked play this week. Conley doesn’t have the most impressive game log, but has demonstrated a 22 point upside game on FanDuel this season. Not the safest play, but Conley is perfect type of tournament flyer who could absolutely explode in a game environment like this.
Premium Play: Todd Gurley FD: $9,800 | DK: $8,800
Todd Gurley as a potential bust candidate, How dare I! Look, if you’ve got Gurley in a season long league, I’m not telling you not to play him. That said, I’m not crazy about it from a DFS perspective this week. The Bears feature the second ranked run defense in the league but have only be able to maintain the 19th ranked passing defense. If the Rams are looking to exploit the Bear’s biggest weakness, they are going to have to do it through the air.
If the Bears get Mitch Trubisky back this week then I would expect this game to stay competitive and force the Rams to keep their foot on the gas. L.A. is headed to Soldier Field, where the Bears have only allowed three rushing touchdowns all season. If the argument is; “well, if anyone is going to get in the end zone against this defense, its Gurley”, that’s certainly fair. But with so many other options on the slate, it’s pretty difficult to justify the nearly $10K price tag on FanDuel in a tough match-up on the road.
Mid-Tier: Jameis Winston FD: $7,500 | DK: $5,900
I’m not buying it. I don’t believe that Jameis Winston suddenly woke up and
remembered how to play football after unceremoniously losing his job to Ryan Fitzpatrick midway through the season. “But Josh, this has all the making of the perfect game to play Winston!” Tampa Bay’s at home, against arguably the best offense in the NFL, so they will undoubtedly be playing from behind, and Winston will be chucking the ball six ways to Sunday. Exactly! Hot take of the week, Jameis throws at least 3 INT’s in this game and absolutely roasts anyone who play him in DFS.
Jameis has done a much better job of getting the ball to his receiver’s in recent weeks, but earlier in the season, relied on his tight end targets OJ Howard (now out for the season) and Cameron Brate to give him a much-needed safety valve. The Saint’s defense hasn’t been strong against top Wide Receivers this season but has been extremely adept at limiting Tight End production and opposing rushing attacks. With no real Tampa run game, Howard out, Desean Jackson questionable, Brate in a tough match-up, and Mike Evans being the picture of inconsistency, I don’t think Tampa is going to be able to keep up with a Saint’s scoring onslaught. I see Winston committing a number of bad turnovers while trying to force the ball to unreliable targets. The Saints capitalize on these mistakes, run up the score like crazy, and run out the clock in a blowout.
Value Play: Zay Jones $5,100 | DK: $4,200
Who is this guy? Why does he have two, 20-fantasy point outings in Buffalo’s last 3 games? Why in the middle of those two games was there a 0-fantasy point outing? Why am I writing about Zay Jones at all? I’m doing this because apparently Zay Jones is the kind of guy that wins you tournaments or ruins your weekend.
Let’s get a couple of things straight. Buffalo is not a good team, Josh Allen is completely unproven, and the Bills have no real semblance of a passing game. That said, Zay Jones has now put up 20 point performances with two different QB’s, and one of those games was against this same Jets’ team just a few weeks earlier. Surprisingly, for as bad as their record is, the Jets actually have a middle of the road pass defense and Jones was still able to torch them by securing 8-11 targets and a TD. It’s for these reasons I think people are going to go back to him, and also for those reasons I want nothing to do with it.
I’m not sure if there is a Zay Jones hype train, but if there is I would stay the hell away from the tracks. I’m not saying it’s impossible for Jones to put up another performance like the one he did this past weekend, but I highly doubt it. The benefit of playing a guy like Jones is banking on low ownership and smoking everyone in a GPP tournament. If he’s highly owned it completely takes away the benefit while still assuming as the risk of a potential doughnut. There are so many other interesting receivers, in this price range and cheaper, that will potentially go overlooked this week and still present the same upside. Chris Conley against Baltimore, Michael Gallup against Philly, and Curtis Samuel against Cleveland are all spots I like infinitely more than this one and are unlikely to carry nearly the same ownership. I certainly understand the match-up argument in this case, but I just can’t justify the risk with so many options in the same tier.
I really like this slate from a contrarian standpoint. I think there a lot of options people will gravitate towards, NO vs. TB being a prime example, that could end up playing out very differently than people will expect. It’s in those types of match-ups that you can find both tremendous value, and potentially sneak a big tournament win. Of course, there’s always the chance that I’ve totally missed the mark with all these calls and this will completely blow up in my face, but then again, that’s what makes DFS fun. Best of Luck Everyone!