Welcome to the Week 13 FanDuel Primer, brought to you by RotoGrinders. I’ll be breaking down a number of our stat pages/tools that we feel are solid predictors of success from a daily fantasy standpoint.
Before we get deep into the targets/percentage of workload analysis, let’s start things off with our Defense vs. Position page. This page gives you an idea of how each team defends a particular position. This is one of my favorite tools to use each week, and I rely on it more each week as the sample size continues to grow. All player salaries listed below are from FanDuel.
Quarterback – Cam Newton ($9,000) vs. New Orleans (32nd vs. QBs)
There’s really no need to get cute at the quarterback spot this week. Both Newton and Tom Brady are in excellent spots against teams that have struggled mightily against the pass, and the Patriots (30) and Panthers (28.5) have the two highest team totals of the week. You will likely be happy with the results both players put up, but I’m leaning towards Newton for a few reasons – his game is less likely to get out of hand early, his weapons are healthy (Brady will be missing Gronk and Edelman, with Amendola still dinged up), and he takes on a pass defense that has allowed more FPs per game to opposing QBs (24.4) than Brady, the league’s best QB, has averaged (23.9) this season. The Saints have been a popular streaming target with QBs in recent weeks and there’s no real reason to think it won’t continue to breed success. Newton himself has a strong role in the Saints unfathomably poor DvP rating, throwing for 315 yards and three TDs (on 31 attempts) and adding 7-33-1 on the ground in the first meeting between these teams. If you want to find a chalky play to avoid in tournaments this weekend, pick another one.
Running Back – Jeremy Hill ($6,600) vs. Cleveland (26th vs. RBs)
This is not a play I trust in cash games, but Hill has GPP-winning upside against the Browns this week. He hasn’t been talked about much early in the week, but Hill couldn’t be in a much better spot on Sunday. Cleveland will be starting Austin Davis at QB against a 9-2 Bengals squad, and RBs tend to fare well when their team is a heavy favorite. It doesn’t hurt that the Browns have allowed more rushing yards per game (126.73) to RBs than any team in the league. Hill’s workload has picked up over his last six games (he’s had fewer than 13 carries just once), and I wouldn’t be shocked to see him finish with 20+ carries on Sunday. His floor will always be low with Giovani Bernard healthy, but I prefer him David Johnson, who will carry a much higher ownership percentage in Sunday GPPs.
Wide Receiver – Alshon Jeffery ($7,700) vs. San Francisco (28th vs. WRs)
Jeffery appears to be about as healthy as we could hope for heading into Sunday, and his recent down performances (some due to injury) has brought his price down. He is an elite receiver when he’s healthy and will consistently lead the Bears in targets when he’s on the field, something you couldn’t say about him when he was priced in this range last season. San Francisco’s defense has been a shell of what it was last year, and Jeffery won’t struggle with the likes of Tramaine Brock (the only 49ers CB to grade out well in coverage, per PFF metrics), Kenneth Acker and Jimmie Ward. Jeffery lines up all over the field and the 49ers corners are stationary for the most part, so he’s likely to do battle with all three throughout the game. He’s playable in any format at $7,700 on FanDuel.
Tight End – Greg Olsen ($6,400) vs. New Orleans (31st vs. TEs)
Why not pair Newton with his favorite weapon? Olsen was a big part of the game plan when these teams met earlier this year (8-134-2 on 11 targets) and he should be Cam Newton’s most heavily targeted pass-catcher again this week. The Saints Defense is showing consistency in just about the worst way possible – they’ve managed to allow more FPs per game to opposing TEs (16.2, FanDuel scoring) than Rob Gronkowski has averaged (16.0) per game this season. What I’m telling you is that over the course of this season, you could have rostered Brady and Gronk (both of whom are the best players at their position) together every week, taken their combined total and you’d still be losing to the guy who streamed QBs and TEs against the Saints. What I’m now telling you is to play Newton and Olsen, who together in this match-up equate to a juiced up version of Brady and Gronk, with confidence.
Let’s transition to the Targets page, where you’ll find a breakdown of touches, targets, red-zone targets and percentage of workload, among other. 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. Instead of hand-picking a few players to touch on, I’m going to give a general overview of what’s happened through 12 weeks. I will not be including any players from Thursday’s game.
Wide Receivers that have averaged at least 10 targets per game, per Sportradar:
DeAndre Hopkins – 13.00
Julio Jones – 12.80
Antonio Brown – 11.45
Alshon Jeffery – 11.33
Demaryius Thomas – 11.27
Odell Beckham – 11.09
Brandon Marshall – 10.64
Mike Evans – 10.30
Allen Robinson – 10.00
DeAndre Hopkins is about as matchup proof as they come, but he’s going to have to do battle with two tough outside CBs in Buffalo (Stephon Gilmore and Ronald Darby). Both Gilmore and Darby have graded out very well in coverage and while the Bills aren’t a scary target with WRs in general (they’ve allowed the ninth-most FPs to the position), they are better targeted with slot receivers. Cecil Shorts is a nice under the radar play if you aren’t on Hopkins in tournaments. Julio Jones is in a much different situation. The Bucs don’t possess anyone that will give Jones much trouble in coverage, and he can confidently be fired up in any format. Antonio Brown’s individual matchup is unclear, as the Colts haven’t used Vontae Davis as a shadow corner much since Greg Toler’s return. Regardless, Brown will still see plenty of Davis, as he runs 50% of his routes against RCBs, per PFF. Even with the tough matchup, Brown is a viable play in all leagues with Big Ben healthy. His usage in a high-volume passing attack gives him a nice floor.
Someone who I’d expect to see similar usage to the WRs discussed above is Alshon Jeffery, who is available at a much lower price tag. I mentioned him in the DvP section but I’ll reiterate it here – he’s a core play against a weak 49ers secondary. With Darrelle Revis out, look for Odell Beckham to have his way with the Jets secondary. He’s expected to see Antonio Cromartie in coverage more often than not, which is a match-up that leans far in Beckham’s favor. Brandon Marshall is coming off a big week and is a weekly threat to explode, but he’s not someone I’m targeting much in Week 13. Prince Amukamara and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie are both above average cover corners and Marshall may be a little over-owned after last week’s 9-131-2 line. Jarvis Landry draws a very enticing matchup with the Ravens secondary. He’ll run his routes against Ladarius Webb, who has not graded out poorly in coverage, but Landry’s role is so cemented that he’s a safe target almost every week. The Ravens secondary has allowed the fourth-most FPPG to WRs. With Allen Hurns out this week, Allen Robinson should see all the work he can handle. It will allow for defenses to focus even more attention towards him, but Bortles will almost surely give him 10+ looks against Perrish Cox and Blidi Dreh-Wilson. The Jags continue to struggle to run the ball in the red-zone and with 96% of their TDs coming through the air, Robinson is among the best bets at the WR position to find the end-zone.
Top Five WRs in terms of Percentage of Workload (POW, which indicates the percentage of team touches that player has received):
Jarvis Landry – 19.04% (18.60% RZ POW)
Antonio Brown – 17.15% (12.50% RZ POW)
Julio Jones – 16.38% (13.79% RZ POW)
Larry Fitzgerald – 15.06% (12.04% RZ POW)
Tavon Austin – 14.58% (14.58% RZ POW)
Tight Ends that have averaged at least 7 targets per game:
Antonio Gates – 8.67
Gary Barnidge – 7.73
Martellus Bennett – 7.60
Delanie Walker – 7.40
Julius Thomas – 7.29
Travis Kelce – 7.09
Antonio Gates still leads the TE position in targets per game (albeit in a smaller sample size). He’s not an elite target this week against the Broncos stingy defense, but he is in a better spot than the Chargers WRs. Gates is a nice target in large-field tournaments. Jordan Reed continues to be a favorite target of Kirk Cousins and with his red-zone usage (third highest among TEs) remaining high, it’s hard to argue with him in any format, although Olsen is the stronger play if you can pay up another tier. Gary Barnidge will be tough to justify with Austin Davis running the show for the Browns. Davis looked passable on Monday night in relief, but there isn’t much reason to expect a strong effort out of him against the Bengals. Martellus Bennett is healthy and fully expected to play Sunday against the 49ers. His return takes Zach Miller out of play, while Bennett himself is a potential contrarian tournament option. Since lighting up the Raiders for 11-83-1, Bennett hasn’t exceeded 60 yards receiving in any of his last six games and has found the end-zone just once in that span.
Delanie Walker faces the Jaguars again just two weeks after posting a 8-109-0 line against them. While I wouldn’t bank on him matching the reception or yardage total, he’s the Titans best red-zone option and will continue to act as Marcus Mariota’s top option in the passing game. Julius Thomas has just recently come bursting onto the scene. He dealt with injuries early in the year and was beginning to look like a major bust in his first season out of Denver, but he’s posted a combined line of 14-144-2 over his last two games and is showing signs of a revival. The Titans aren’t particularly tough on TEs, allowing the tenth-most FPPG to the position. Thomas still possesses a very low floor, but Allen Hurns’ absence from the lineup should only help his target total. Travis Kelce owns the week’s top match-up in DvP terms, as he’ll face off with the notoriously poor Raiders TE defense. I don’t expect Oakland to be able to stop one of the league’s best options at this position. He’s very volatile and seems to disappoint in plus matchups, but Kelce is very appealing this week.
Top Five TEs in terms of Percentage of Workload:
Delanie Walker – 12.47% (12.50% RZ POW)
Gary Barnidge – 11.34% (13.54% RZ POW)
Travis Kelce – 10.33% (9.47% RZ POW)
Jordan Reed – 10.19% (13.68% RZ POW)
Greg Olsen – 10.17% (12.93% RZ POW)
Welcome to Value town, parts unknown. I won’t be recommending the Aaron Rodgers’ 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.
Quarterback – Jay Cutler ($7,000 on FanDuel)
I’ve discussed Alshon Jeffery in detail and I like Cutler for a lot of the same reasons. He seems to be somewhat of a black sheep in DFS and the last two weeks won’t do anything to change that, but he’s a strong option relative to his $7,000 price tag. His last two games have come against the Broncos (they’ve allowed the least FPPG to QBs by a fairly wide margin) and the Packers (on the road in bad weather), and those poor performances don’t concern me at all heading into Sunday. San Francisco has allowed the ninth-most FPPG to QBs to this point in the year, and the positive outlook in terms of health for Alshon Jeffery and Martellus Bennett only helps matters.
Running Back – Shaun Draughn ($5,900 on FanDuel)
Most of the field will be flocking to David Johnson, but Draughn is just as (if not more) appealing than Johnson for a variety of reasons. First, for those interested in ownership percentages in tournaments, Draughn was 3.80% owned a major Thursday GPP while Johnson came in at 14.90%, third highest among RBs. Next is the fact that Draughn’s workload is more secure, while Johnson’s role is still a little unclear. Draughn played 100% of the 49ers snaps last week, making him the only RB to accomplish that feat this season. He’s seen 20 touches in all three of his starts but has yet to find the end-zone, something that will change given his opportunity. Meanwhile, Johnson wasn’t playing much of a role outside of the red-zone with Chris Johnson and Andre Ellington healthy, and it’s still unclear how much work Stepfan Taylor or potentially Kerwynn Williams could steal. Draughn does play for a far less efficient offense compared to Johnson, but I won’t be at all surprised to see him finish with a better fantasy output.
The Patriots have the highest team total of the week and the Eagles have allowed the most FPPG to the WR position this season, so it’s hard not to like the outlook for Amendola and LaFell this week. They will be the two focal points of the passing game with Rob Gronkowski on the shelf, with Amendola likely to be the most heavily targeted Patriot until Gronk returns. Brandon LaFell owns the stronger matchup in the secondary, as the Eagles outside CBs have been laughably bad this season. LaFell will primarily line up against rookie Eric Rowe, who looked lost after replacing the injured Nolan Carroll last week. LaFell isn’t Calvin Johnson, but he won’t have any trouble beating Rowe and I expect Brady to look his way often. The Eagles struggle less in the middle of the field where Amendola operates, but he’s an elite target at his price against a defense that isn’t a threat to any pass-catcher’s production.
Tight End – Scott Chandler ($5,300)
Continuing on with the Patriots Offense, Chandler is going to be very popular on Sunday, but it’s justified given his price and new role in the Patriots Offense. He’ll almost surely take on Gronk’s job as the primary receiving TE and while he may not see the same type of workload we’re accustomed to Gronk seeing, he’ll be involved. Chandler standing at 6’7 doesn’t hurt his outlook in the red-zone either, which is a place he’s been involved even with Gronk on the field. If you are punting the TE spot in cash games, Chandler is far and away your best bet.