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First of all, a hearty “congratulations!” and slap on the back to those of you who made it through the roster attrition of the regular season in good enough shape to make the playoffs in your year-long leagues. Survive and advance! For the rest of you whose season is over – or even if it isn’t — there’s no better way to extract some positivity out of the 2018 campaign than through some DFS winnings just in time for holiday shopping. So let’s get to the Week Catorce value plays.
A quick disclaimer: It seems counter-intuitive that two high-priced/future Hall of Fame/all-time great fantasy quarterbacks can also be DFS values, but hear me out. First off, both are coming off complete disasters in Week 13, thus lowering their price tags – not too much, though, given the matchups.
Drew Brees, Saints (at Tampa Bay) — $13,800
We’ll go out on a limb here and suggest the league hasn’t suddenly “figured out” how to slow down the Saints offensive juggernaut. The bed-soiling against a very good Dallas defense will prove to be an outlier and certainly can’t be repeated against the Buccaneers’ miserable unit. Had the Brees train not left the tracks last week, his price tag would likely be a few hundred dollars higher, as it was in Week 12 against the Falcons. Shaving any money off his price makes him a very intriguing play in cash games despite the fact he is this week’s most expensive quarterback on Fantasy Draft. Spend the extra money on him for your 50/50 or Double-Up lineups. Vegas has the Saints with the highest implied total this week, not surprisingly, and when these teams met in September, Brees threw three touchdown passes as part of a season-high 439 passing yards.
Aaron Rodgers, Packers (vs. Atlanta) — $12,500
With Mike McCarthy gone, might Rodgers feel as if the anchor has been lifted from the Packers offense and – more importantly – that his super-agent has satisfactorily completed his investigation into the burning bathroom towel incident that left the wall charred? None of this can be ruled out. Aaron could not ask for a much softer match-up against which to bounce back and salvage his sagging statistical output. Only the Bengals are allowing more fantasy points per game to quarterbacks this season than are the Falcons. Factor in the impact that a 20-degree game on the tundra will have on a dome team from the South, and this looks like an easy one on paper for the Packers’ signal-caller (who will likely have more of a say in what plays are run the next four games). Of course, nothing has come easy for Green Bay this season but Rodgers is worth the slight risk as the fourth-most expensive quarterback on Fantasy Draft this week.
Lastly, the other big reason you can afford to spend on high-priced-yet-still-a-value quarterbacks this week: the ridiculously affordable running back options in play…
Jaylen Samuels, Steelers (at Oakland) — $8,900
James Connor will miss this week’s game with a sprained ankle, leaving Samuels to lead a running back committee with Stevan Ridley (who might be darn near free on every DFS site… I didn’t even bother looking) in a favorable match-up against the 31st-ranked run defense in the NFL (the Bengals have given up exactly one more rushing yard than the Raiders). No team has allowed more rushing yards to running backs this season than Oakland. Are you picking up what I’m putting down for you here? Not only does Samuels have a terrific opportunity in terms of volume, but the match-up and likely game script are very positive. All that for less than $9,000 feels like stealing. The only pitfall here is that Samuels will be in a large percentage of DFS lineups.
Justin Jackson, Chargers (vs. Cincinnati) — $8,300
And now, a Mad Libs fantasy football analysis…
Melvin Gordon will (likely) miss this week’s game with a knee injury, leaving Jackson to lead a running back committee with Austin Ekeler in a favorable matchup against the 32nd-ranked run defense in the NFL (the Bengals have given up exactly one more rushing yard than the Raiders). Are you picking up what I’m putting down for you here? Not only does Jackson have a terrific opportunity in terms of volume, but the match-up and likely game script are very positive. All that for less than $9,000 feels like stealing. The only pitfall here is that Jackson will be in a large percentage of DFS lineups.
Jeffery Wilson, 49ers (vs. Denver) — $7,400
The Mad Libs format could almost have been extended to Wilson. Almost. The opportunity is here for Wilson because the fragile Matt Breida has already been ruled out with an ankle injury. Wilson should be the lead back in whatever committee the 49ers cobble together but the game script isn’t quite as favorable as that of the aforementioned Samuels or Jackson. The difference with Wilson is the price tag. Samuels and Jackson are inexpensive, but Wilson is hundreds of dollars cheaper.
Curtis Samuel, Panthers (at Cleveland) — $7,800
Between Curtis Samuel, Jaylen Samuels and Justin Jackson, just think of all the $%#^&%$# Samuel L. Jackson combinations you could unleash on the DFS world this week. Not only could it be effective and thrifty, but what a $%#^&%$# fun thing to do! Samuel had a season-high 11 targets last week against the Buccaneers, finishing with a team-high 88 yards on six receptions. With Greg Olsen out for the season, that volume will continue. Samuel has found the end zone four times in his past five games now and will continue to draw secondary attention from the Browns defense, which will be more occupied with Cam Newton, Christian McCaffrey, DJ Moore and Devin Funchess (when he’s on the field). And for only $7,800? Sign me up.
Tre’Quan Smith/Keith Kirkwood, Saints (at Tampa Bay) — $9,900/$7,000
Michael Thomas is worth considering as your high-priced stack with Brees for cash games this week but Smith is the tournament stack to consider. That is, unless you’re feeling particularly frisky and want to roll with the uber-cheap Kirkwood. There are obvious concerns here – Smith’s goose eggs in two of his last three games, Kirkwood’s lack of volume — but that’s what makes both of them low floor/high ceiling tourney players in combination with Brees. Kirkwood has touchdowns in two straight games and Smith flashes big-play potential if/when he gets targets.
Courtland Sutton, Broncos (at San Francisco) — $8,500
The 49ers defense represents a neutral match-up for passing games if all you look at is their passing yards allowed. However, some of that stems from game script. Moreover, a second look reveals the Niners are allowing 12.0 yards per reception, which is tied for 26th in the league, and have given up 27 passing touchdowns, tied for 29th. Of those 29 touchdowns, 19 have been by wide receivers, which is the most in the NFL. After hauling in a season-high four catches on a season-high seven targets for a season-high 85 yards (and a touchdown) last week against the Bengals, Sutton has all the traits a high-upside play at this price against this defense.
Rob Gronkowski, Patriots (at Miami) — $9,900
Because he is Rob Gronkowski, his Fantasy Draft price has been north of $10K pretty much all season. He’s done little to warrant the cost, but he’s still Gronk (supposedly) so some people were gleefully paying for him regardless of price. Speaking of which, this is his second-lowest price tag on Fantasy Draft this season. The only lower price point was $9,700 against the Jets a few weeks ago in his first game back from injury. Why bother using him again? The Dolphins have allowed eight touchdowns to tight ends over their past seven games, including a trio of two-touchdown performances to tight ends. Might we see a Gronk spike or two this week as the Dolphins load the box to prevent another James Develin goal-line vulture? At this price, it might be worth finding out. The ceiling is formidable.
David Njoku, Browns (vs. Panthers) — $7,200
Our smart friends at Fantasy Labs have Njoku pegged as their No. 2 value at tight end for cash games on Fantasy Draft this week behind only Travis Kelce (duh!). Njoku has eight catches and one touchdown on 11 targets over the last two games, which isn’t bad. What is, in fact, bad is the Panthers’ defense against tight ends this season. Carolina has coughed up nine touchdowns to tight ends, which is tied for the most in the league — and Cameron Brate came a whisker away from getting a 10th in Week 13. As the 13th-priced tight end on Fantasy Draft for Week 14, Njoku is in play for cash game lineups that have one of those high-priced quarterback-wide receiver stacks hogging budget.
New York Giants at Washington — $4,900
Fantasy Labs had the Giants rated as a lesser value for this game prior to Colt McCoy breaking his leg on Monday night. With Mark Sanchez under center for Washington now, all bets are off. Just checked: recoveries of butt fumbles will net the same amount of points as just your garden variety fumble on all DFS platforms. Nonetheless, this is a great value at under $5K. No, making fun of the butt fumble will never get old.
New York Jets at Buffalo — $4,000
As Frank would say, “It’s up to you, New York, New York.” If you’re not using the aforementioned New York football Giants defense, consider their neighbors. There are only four cheaper defenses than the Jets this week despite the fact the Bills are allowing the second-most fantasy points to opposing defenses this season. That doesn’t add up. And if you don’t know who Frank is, ask someone older and cooler than you are.
Good luck this week and Merry Christmas!
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The Fantasy Football Party is recorded each week by John Tuvey, Bo Mitchell and Anthony Maggio. Subscribe to the podcast and never miss an episode by clicking here for iTunes or here for Android.
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