For those who are new to the FanDuel Primer this season, I’ll be breaking down the week ahead using a variety of research tools available on RotoGrinders. This column will continue to evolve as the season comes to an end, and will highlight different research tools and statistics that I use when building my own DFS teams. We’ll start Week 14 with our Targets Page, where you’ll find a breakdown of touches, targets, red-zone targets and percentage of workload. It’s an invaluable tool that can help you find players who are in the best positions to succeed; it’s no secret that you want players on your fantasy team who are heavily involved in the offense, especially those that are also key cogs in the red-zone. Thursday players or those on a bye week will not be included here.
Instead of simply analyzing each player listed in the section below – it can become hard to follow – I’m going to roll out the time tested stop light system. That should be self-explanatory; those labeled green will be playable in all formats, with yellow indicating GPP-only and red recommending an all-out fade.
RBs averaging at least 4.50 targets through thirteen weeks:
Le’Veon Bell (0.78 RzTar/Gm) – 8.56
David Johnson (1.00 RzTar/Gm) – 8.00
Theo Riddick (1.40 RzTar/Gm) – 6.70
Dion Lewis (0.33 RzTar/Gm) – 5.67 (3 games)
James White (0.58 RzTar/Gm) – 5.58
Duke Johnson (0.50 RzTar/Gm) – 5.25
Darren Sproles (0.83 RzTar/Gm) – 5.08
Melvin Gordon (0.67 RzTar/Gm) – 4.67
DeMarco Murray (1.08 RzTar/Gm) – 4.50
Green Light (ranked in order of appearance above)
Le’Veon Bell ($9,000) – Ben Roethlisberger tends to put up bigger lines at home, and with Buffalo being easier to beat on the ground, things are set up nicely for Bell to be fed heavily once again. Even with as amazing as David Johnson has been, Bell still has the higher yardage floor and anything less than 25 touches on Sunday would be surprising. The touchdowns are going to come.
David Johnson ($9,700) – Yep. Not much need to go into detail here, Johnson is the top play on the board and even with a $700 price difference between he and Bell, I’m still doing what I have to in order to roster Johnson. He should be the first player you lock into your cash game lineups.
Melvin Gordon ($8,200) – Gordon accounts for about 50% of the Chargers touches, but I don’t love the draw against Carolina. The Panthers haven’t allowed many rushing scores (6 to RBs) and have allowed the fifth-fewest rushing yards per game. The touches here are so easy to count on that Gordon is still very much a tournament play, but I’d much prefer the two options above if you’re hovering in this price range.
DeMarco Murray ($7,900) – Denver’s defense has been vulnerable against the run this season and Murray is coming off his bye week, so he should be about as fresh as he’s been since the early season. He’s still seeing 20-25 touches a game even when dinged up, and I’d bet that a decent chunk of the public will see the Broncos as the opponent here and immediately avoid Murray. That will be a mistake – Denver has allowed the fourth-most rushing yards per game (to RBs alone) and they’ve also been a plus matchup for receiving backs, only further bolstering Murray’s tournament upside.
Theo Riddick ($6,300) – Not only is he banged up, but Riddick just isn’t involved enough in the ground game to warrant much consideration this week. He’ll still see 5-7 looks in the passing game, but he needs too much to go right in order for this play to work out.
Duke Johnson ($4,900) – He hasn’t seen more than five targets or carries in a game since October.
Darren Sproles ($5,600) – Sproles’ workload isn’t consistent enough. While he’s my favorite back in this offense, the Eagles Offense is in shambles which gives us no reason to target a back in a time-share.
WRs averaging at least 9.50 targets through thirteen weeks:
Mike Evans (1.33 RzTar/Gm) – 11.33
Antonio Brown (0.83 RzTar/Gm) – 10.58
Odell Beckham (1.25 RzTar/Gm) – 10.42
Larry Fitzgerald (1.33 RzTar/Gm) – 10.17
Jordy Nelson (2.00 RzTar/Gm) – 9.83
Stefon Diggs (0.90 RzTar/Gm) – 9.60
Allen Robinson (1.33 RzTar/Gm) – 9.58
Mike Evans ($8,900) – With Antonio Brown on the road and Odell Beckham facing off with Dallas, Mike Evans is the top overall play at the WR spot. The matchup with New Orleans remains a good one, as they’ve allowed the fifth-most receiving yards to the position. It also helps that the Saints have been one of the league’s toughest run defenses over the past month, further bolstering the likelihood of a 10-12+ target game for Evans.
Antonio Brown ($8,800) – I’d still rather roster Evans, but Brown probably has the higher floor. He’s seen just 13 combined targets the past two weeks after receiving double-digit looks in the four previous games, so it won’t be long before he’s back to being one of the most oft-targeted receivers in the league. Brown and Big Ben are more desirable plays at home, and the Bills haven’t given up many GPP-winning performances to receivers (especially lately), so it’s not an “all in” spot.
T.Y. Hilton ($7,600) – Andrew Luck is probably the quarterback that I’ll have the most exposure to, so naturally I’m interested in his weapons. Hilton should draw the coverage of Charles James while he lines up in the slot – he’s spent 57% of his snaps in that spot and is likely to spend even more time there while Donte Moncrief is on the field. James is one of PFF’s lowest-graded CBs and the fact that this game is played in Indy boosts the appeal of both Hilton and Luck.
Odell Beckham ($8,500) – I’ll have GPP exposure to Beckham, but he’s behind Evans and Brown which slots him in here. He hasn’t had much success against this defense outside of his rookie year, and with Dallas’ tendency to dominate the time of possession battle, the floor isn’t all that high. The good news is that Beckham has recorded 45 targets over his last four games and you know he’ll get up for a primetime game against the Cowboys.
Larry Fitzgerald ($6,800) – The price had me considering him as a green light play, but he’s probably not a guy I’ll play across the board given the amount of exposure I’ll have to David Johnson. Fitz has seen at least seven targets in 11 of his 12 games and given that he hasn’t scored in seven straight games, expect some positive touchdown regression soon.
Jordy Nelson ($7,100) – If you ever wanted exposure to the Green Bay passing attack at low ownership percentages, you’ll get your chance this weekend. Nelson is the only receiver I’m considering and I don’t think I’ll have much (if any) exposure to Rodgers, but Nelson is so involved in the red-zone and has received double-digit targets in four of his last five games. Earl Thomas’ absence is going to hurt – how much remains to be seen – but at $7,100 it’s hard to argue with the quality targets Nelson receives in a pass-happy offense.
Emmanuel Sanders ($5,900) – This is as cheap as we’ve seen Sanders in quite a while. I won’t have exposure if Paxton Lynch remains under center, but if Siemian is able to return things would look brighter. It’s amazing that we’re considering Siemian a stark upgrade. With all that said, Sanders the cheapest receiver seeing at least 9.50 targets per game and his 1.33 targets per game in the red-zone definitely help matters. Tennessee’s defense has also been burned repeatedly by wideouts.
Terrelle Pryor ($6,700) – There is a little GPP appeal, but I won’t be looking in his direction.
TEs with at least 6.25 targets per game through thirteen weeks:
Jordan Reed (1.22 RzTar/Gm) – 9.00
Greg Olsen (0.83 RzTar/Gm) – 8.08
Kyle Rudolph (1.08 RzTar/Gm) – 7.50
Dennis Pitta (0.75 RzTar/Gm) – 7.25
Antonio Gates (1.67 RzTar/Gm) – 6.78
Zach Ertz (0.80 RzTar/Gm) – 6.70
Jason Witten (1.36 RzTar/Gm) – 6.64
Jimmy Graham (1.17 RzTar/Gm) – 6.58
Delanie Walker (0.73 RzTar/Gm) – 6.55
Zach Ertz ($5,700) – As you can probably judge based on Ertz’s appearance here, it’s not a pretty week at the TE spot. The Eagles have fallen apart as a whole over the last month, but they’ve been trailing so often that it’s led to some big target totals for Ertz. Jordan Matthews’ absence last week also helped matters, and while Matthews is expected to return this weekend, Ertz draws a Washington defense that has allowed the fourth-most receptions per game to the position.
Jimmy Graham ($6,600) – Graham is neck-and-neck with Tyler Eifert as my top cash game play at TE. Eifert is a little safer and I slightly prefer Doug Baldwin’s matchup to Graham’s which will probably lead to me being more heavily exposed to the Bengals TE. Still, Graham is in a fine spot against a Green Bay defense that allows the second-most receiving yards and sixth-most receptions to the TE spot.
Greg Olsen ($6,400) – It’s been quite a fall from grace for Olsen. He’s been needed more as a blocker which has led to a small-yet-still-meaningful drop in routes run, although that lack of production is now factored into his price to a degree. Cam Newton has completed fewer than 50% of his passes in the Panthers’ last three games, a trend that isn’t going to continue, so now could be a good time to hop aboard the Olsen train in tournaments.
Delanie Walker ($6,200) – The matchup with Denver appears scary on paper, but it’s actually not a bad draw for tight ends and running backs. The Broncos have given up big chunks of rushing yardage and while they are consistently able to limit production to receivers, they aren’t quite as stout against tight ends. Tennessee’s offense is well set up to attack the few weaknesses on the Denver side. I’ll be consistently sprinkling in Walker and Murray across tournament lineups.
Antonio Gates ($5,200) – He’s almost as good of a bet for a touchdown as any option at the TE spot, so he’ll remain on the GPP radar. Hunter Henry’s presence doesn’t bode well but the rookie saw just one target last week and hasn’t seen more than four looks in a game over his last five.
Jordan Reed ($7,000) – Bump him up to a yellow light play if he’s not limited in any way against the Eagles, but I’m really not sold that his health isn’t going to be an issue.
Dennis Pitta ($4,900) – How nice of Pitta to finally break out after we’ve given up hope? The targets are still there, but his yardage ceiling is low and I’m not considering him outside of primetime-only formats.
Jason Witten ($5,100) – Witten saw 14 targets against this defense back in Week 1 so I understand if you want a modest amount of GPP exposure, but he’s exceeded double-digit FD points just once since that game.
Defense vs Position
Let’s move to the Defense vs. Position page, where you’ll get a clear breakdown of how each defense fares against each offensive position. Now that we’re dealing with almost a full season’s worth of data, this is one of the tools I visit the most when prepping my DFS lineups, but it’s still worth looking into the exact opponents each team has faced. All player salaries listed below are from FanDuel, and the DvP rankings are based on FanDuel scoring.
Quarterback – Russell Wilson ($7,900) vs. Green Bay (22nd vs. QBs)
Wilson definitely has a worthwhile ceiling and given the Seahawks struggle to run the ball with any consistency, the passing attack has been forced to carry more of the load. I’d much prefer for this one to be played in Seattle – Wilson isn’t a terribly safe option on the road in Green Bay – but it’s not like many of the QBs priced above him are in plus spots. Both Jimmy Graham and Doug Baldwin find themselves in favorable matchups and as long as Wilson can exploit that, he should be just fine at $7,900. There is merit to playing the fade in tournaments given that he’ll likely be one of the most popular plays at the positon against a Packers team that typically wins the time of possession battle.
Running Back – Matt Forte ($7,700) vs. San Francisco (32nd vs. RBs)
Here’s your weekly reminder to play RBs against the 49ers. With how poorly the Jets have looked in recent weeks, this is actually a situation where we can get a back against them at a relatively low ownership percentage. The RotoGrinders Projected Ownership page has him coming in at a 6.0% clip in large-field FanDuel GPPs, which is considerably lower than we’d expect. San Francisco has lost 11 straight games and they’re allowing far and away the most FPPG to the RB spot. They also allow an average of over 20 more rushing yards per game to the position than the next closest team (Cleveland). Now that Bryce Petty is under center, expect the Jets to try to get the ground game going early and often.
Wide Receiver – Tyrell Williams ($6,800) vs. Carolina (29th vs. WRs)
Outside of a couple bumps in the road against Denver – a combined 5.2 FD points in two games – Williams has been outstanding this season. He’s recorded a touchdown in each of his last four games, averaging a healthy 9.0 targets per game over that span, giving him the ceiling he needs to remain a solid GPP play at $6,800. It doesn’t seem like the San Diego passing attack is getting much love this weekend, but both Williams and Philip Rivers make for strong GPP plays. Williams is on the cash game radar given that he should spend most of the game away from James Bradberry’s coverage.
Tight End – Tyler Eifert ($6,700) vs. Cleveland (28th vs. TEs)
Eifert just missed the cut-off for the Targets section, but he’s my favorite play at the TE spot in Week 14. A.J. Green’s absence gives him an elite ceiling, especially against a Cleveland defense that ranks in the bottom five against both QBs and TEs. The two targets against Philly are concerning, but it’s worth noting that came in a game the Bengals controlled from the start, and Eifert did still corral a touchdown. The Browns have allowed the third-most TDs, seventh-most receptions and seventh-most receiving yards to the position this season.
Welcome back to Value town, parts unknown. I won’t be recommending the Drew Brees’ of the world here, but instead will highlight a few players with price tags that don’t add up to their level of talent, opportunity and/or matchup. The ultimate goal is to find players at the bottom of the salary chart who have the upside to produce at an elite level. The format will be a little different going forward – instead of picking a player per position, I’ll list out a handful of plays at each position and note which formats I prefer them in (cash plays are also playable in GPPs).
Potential Cash QBs at or under $7,500: Colin Kaepernick
After completing just one pass for four yards in this past week’s game against Chicago, I don’t expect the masses to flock back to Kaepernick. That game was played with consistent snowfall and neither passing game was able to generate anything remotely effective. The Jets have allowed 575 yards and six scores through the air over the past two weeks, and they haven’t had much success at any point this season.
I’m more likely to pay up into the $7,800-$8,200 range in GPPs, but I’ll run out a few Palmer-Fitzgerald stacks in the hopes that the TDs fall their way as opposed to landing in David Johnson’s lap. At $6,200, there is merit to rolling out Griffin in tournaments. He’s not a sure bet to make it through the game healthy and the floor is really low, but you can load up at other spots while still giving yourself somewhat of a ceiling at QB.
Potential Cash RBs at or under $6,500: None
Rawls is looking like a cash game play for some around the industry, but I’d rather pay up for the elite options at RB and save cap at the WR spot. It would be nice if we could count on some production in the passing game from him, and that factor ultimately gives him a low floor week to week. If game flow doesn’t work in his favor, he’ll have a very tough time. I’ll have some tournament exposure, but that’ll be the extent of it. Frank Gore isn’t a name that pops off the page, but anytime you can pencil in someone for 18-23 touches at this price, there is upside. If he can nab a couple of goal-to-go looks…
Jamison Crowder has scored at least 11 FD points in ten of his 12 games this season. He’s the most complete receiver Washington has and he continues to impress week after week. Crowder’s target total should remain high against an Eagles Defense that has been gashed for at least 26 points in five of their last six games. Even with as poor as Carson Wentz has looked recently, Jordan Matthews should still be locked into 8-12 targets at $5,900. That’s type of floor is hard to argue with in cash games.
Cooks bounced back with nine targets last week after a zero-target outing against the Rams. He’s just off the cusp of a potential cash game play, but it’s always a bit risky to roster one of Brees’ many weapons in a road game. With A.J. Green on the shelf, both Brandon LaFell and Tyler Boyd remain viable punt plays. LaFell is the higher ceiling option with better touchdown potential, but Boyd does figure to draw more of Tracy Howard and less of Joe Haden. With Julio Jones looking like a potential decoy if he’s able to play on Sunday, Taylor Gabriel’s upside is immense against St. Louis, but he’s not viable in cash games given the erratic snap/target totals.
C.J. Fiedorowicz hasn’t seen fewer than five targets in a game since September, and while the Texans passing game is one of the weakest in the league, he’s a viable red-zone target with a considerable workload at $5,100. I’d prefer to pay down slightly for Vance McDonald, who should bounce back along with Colin Kaepernick after a dreadful Week 13.