Welcome to the Week 12 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 – Brian Hoyer ($7,100) vs. New Orleans (32nd vs. QBs)
If you’ve spent any time watching the Saints Defense over the past two months, you know exactly why Hoyer is listed in this space. New Orleans has been unfathomably bad against the pass, allowing at least 300 yards passing in every game since Week 6. They’ve been carved up by Eli Manning, Kirk Cousins and Marcus Mariota over their last three games, which prompted Rob Ryan’s firing. Even with a new coordinator running the show, I’m not expecting things to improve much in the Saints secondary. Hoyer is an excellent GPP target at this price, and the savings you get with him can be allocated towards his favorite target, DeAndre Hopkins.
Running Back – T.J. Yeldon ($6,500) vs. San Diego (32nd vs. RBs)
One of the big reasons Blake Bortles has been so valuable this year is that he’s frequently eating up the red-zone touchdowns in Jacksonville. For as much work as Yeldon has seen, it’s strange that he’s only found the end zone once on the ground all year. The touchdown numbers will start to come (barring the Jaguars inexplicably giving Denard Robinson goal-line touches) and that could begin this week against the league’s friendliest matchup for RBs. The Chargers have allowed the most FPs to opposing RBs through 11 weeks and Yeldon should be a big part of the Jaguars game plan. Allen Robinson will most likely see a lot of Jason Verrett (one of the league’s best shadow corners) and Allen Hurns’ matchup, while better, is still not ideal either. Expect around 20 touches for Yeldon, giving him a high ceiling relative to his $6,500 price tag. Both Thomas Rawls and Javorius Allen were more popular plays in Thursday contests, and I absolutely love the idea of swapping Rawls shares for more of Yeldon, who is in a much better spot this week (Pittsburgh, Rawls’ opponent, has allowed the fewest FPs to RBs).
Wide Receiver – Larry Fitzgerald ($7,400) vs. San Francisco (28th vs. WRs)
Not only has the Arizona passing attack been very hard to stop this season, but the 49ers pass defense has fallen far from where they were at this point last year. They haven’t been able to get much pressure on opposing QBs (they rank 26th in sacks) and have thus made it hard on the secondary, which isn’t playing as poorly as their DvP ranking suggests. Both outside CBs (Tramaine Brock and Marcus Cromartie) have graded out slightly above average (per PFF grading), but the slot corner, Jimmie Ward, has been a weak spot. Guess where Fitzgerald runs most of his routes? The slot. Fitz is playable in any format this week, with Michael Floyd and John Brown (both practiced on Friday) also usable in tournaments.
Tight End – Delanie Walker ($6,100) vs. Oakland (31st vs. TEs)
The Raiders are out of the cellar as the worst TE defense in the league after a dreadful start to the season, but they are still a unit we want to target with the position. Eric Ebron put up a goose egg against this defense last week, although he had a touchdown pass fall right through his hands and wasn’t involved much after that. Walker is a much bigger part of the Titans Offense than most of the TEs in the league, and he actually leads the position in terms of percentage of workload. Kendall Wright is expected to return this week, but the lack of talent at WR in Tennessee forces Walker into a more pivotal role as a pass-catcher. Mariota seems to have a large amount of trust in him and will likely look his way 7-10 times on Sunday. He’s the most popular TE in Thursday contests which makes him an interesting tournament fade, but he’s a very nice target in cash games.
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 11 weeks. I will not be including any players on bye weeks (or those that played on Thanksgiving) in the breakdown below, since they aren’t DFS relevant this week.
Wide Receivers that have averaged at least 9.5 targets per game:
DeAndre Hopkins – 13.50
Julio Jones – 13.40
Antonio Brown – 11.40
Demaryius Thomas – 11.10
Brandon Marshall – 10.60
Odell Beckham – 10.40
Mike Evans – 10.33
DeAndre Hopkins is the top play at the WR spot this week. The Saints secondary has been brutal over the past few games and despite a change at defensive coordinator, I’d expect them to have a really tough time with Hopkins. He’ll see plenty of Delvin Breaux which isn’t ideal, but Hopkins is matchup proof. He’s burned elite corners on multiple occasions and I don’t expect that trend to stop this week. He’s worth paying up for in any format. Julio Jones is right behind Hopkins as an elite play. He’ll likely run most of his routes against Xavier Rhodes, who has been a big disappointment this year after a strong rookie season. Jones is always appealing when he plays at home and he should have another big performance on Sunday. Antonio Brown obviously benefits from Ben Roethlisberger being healthy enough to play, but he’s in a rough spot on Sunday. His target total should remain high and he’s a worthy GPP play given that his ownership should be much lower than it usually is, but he’s not a recommended cash game option. Expect the Seahawks to focus on making things difficult for him.
Demaryius Thomas is a GPP-only play this week against New England. Emmanuel Sanders is probable and New England will likely stick Malcolm Butler on Thomas, a matchup we want to avoid in DFS. Butler has graded out very well this season despite some tough assignments. Brandon Marshall is a weekly GPP option, but his production has tailed off a bit as of late. He’s had more than five catches just once in his last five games, although he did tear through the Miami secondary earlier in the season (7-128-0). He definitely has contrarian appeal in tournaments. Odell Beckham is in a great spot this week against a weak Redskins secondary that he posted a 7-79-1 line on earlier this year. Beckham lines up all over the field and the Redskins aren’t likely to shadow him (they’ve yet to shadow an opposing WR this season), but his CB matchup will be a good one regardless of where he’s lined up. Bashaud Breeland has earned the best PFF grade of the group, but he’s not thought of as anything close to resembling an elite corner. ODB is targetable in any format. Allen Robinson has really broken out this year as one of the league’s best receivers, but his matchup this week makes him tough to consider outside of GPPs. Jason Verrett will likely be asked to shadow him, and the Chargers are an easier team to beat on the ground. A few down performances will keep Michael Crabtree’s ownership percentage down this week. He’s in a nice spot to bounce back against the likes of Blidi Wreh-Wilson and Coty Sensabaugh. Jarvis Landry definitely benefits from Darrelle Revis’ absence, as Revis spent time shadowing him in the meeting between these teams earlier in the year. Landry is among the league leaders in percentage of workload and red-zone percentage of workload, making him a nice target in tournaments, especially on full-point PPR sites.
Top Five WRs in terms of Percentage of Workload (POW):
Jarvis Landry – 17.66% (18.18% RZ POW)
Antonio Brown – 17.63% (13.98% RZ POW)
Julio Jones – 16.86% (15.24% RZ POW)
DeAndre Hopkins – 14.84% (16.25% RZ POW)
Larry Fitzgerald – 14.66% (11.70% RZ POW)
Tight Ends that have averaged at least 7 targets per game:
Antonio Gates – 9.10
Jordan Reed – 8.25
Rob Gronkowski – 8.20
Gary Barnidge – 7.40
Delanie Walker – 7.33
Travis Kelce – 7.10
Gates has been the most heavily targeted tight end on a per game basis, but he’s missed more than half of his team’s games and is currently banged up. The Chargers will also be without two of their starting O-Lineman, which may lead to more blocking for Gates. He’s a GPP only target this week. Reed is not on the Redskins injury report and should be good to go in a big game against the Giants. He’s been a consistent factor in the passing game and is a preferred red-zone target for Kirk Cousins. Reed is an option in cash games and tournaments. Rob Gronkowski is far and away the most appealing option in the Patriots passing game, and it’s very unlikely the Broncos will be able to keep Brady in check. The New England WRs are either banged up or in bad WR/CB matchups, making Gronk a nice upside play in tournaments. Gary Barnidge is another cash game viable option, as he’ll take on a Ravens Defense that has had trouble defending the pass all season. With Josh McCown back at the helm, Barnidge’s value takes a spike in the right direction. Walker is the chalkiest of the TE plays, but he’s also a great one against a Raiders Defense that has been a sieve to TEs most of the season. They’ve been better of late, but Walker is the most consistent option in the Titans passing game and should see plenty of looks on Sunday. Travis Kelce is best avoided this week, as he’s questionable heading into the game and has a brutal matchup with Buffalo’s defense.
Top Five TEs in terms of Percentage of Workload:
Delanie Walker – 11.62% (13.11% RZ POW)
Gary Barnidge – 10.91% (14.12% RZ POW)
Travis Kelce – 10.48% (8.99% RZ POW)
Rob Gronkowski – 10.06% (14.52% RZ POW)
Jordan Reed – 9.73% (14.61% 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 – Josh McCown ($6,300 on FanDuel)
This is a great week to punt the QB position. If the prices were equal I’d prefer Hoyer, but McCown at an $800 discount makes him the preferred target for me on FanDuel. He takes on a Ravens Defense that has been shredded by opposing QBs all season long, and the Browns skill position players are all healthy for the most part. Travis Benjamin makes for an interesting pairing with McCown in tournaments, as does Gary Barnidge. The Ravens have allowed the fourth-most FPs to opposing QBs so far this season. I’d be okay with McCown in any format on FanDuel, and it’s also worth noting he’s the top $/point play at QB according to the RotoGrinders NFL player projections.
Picking the right value RB might be one of the biggest keys to success in Week 12. Thomas Rawls was far and away the most popular option at the position in Thursday leagues, and that’s leading me to play the fade on him in GPPs given his matchup with a Pittsburgh defense that has allowed the fewest FPs to opposing RBs. With that said, Rawls is still very much in play for cash games since his volume will remain high and he has no real competition for touches.
I have Allen slightly ahead of Rawls this week, although I may be on an island with that particular take. Allen takes on a Browns Defense that has allowed the most rushing yards per game (to RBs alone), and with Matt Schaub under center, the Ravens will likely try to go as run-heavy as possible. That will lead to more attention in the box, but Allen’s volume should also be high and he isn’t being pushed for carries by any other back. Ware becomes an interesting target if Charcandrick West is ruled out. It looks like West is closer to doubtful than probable, putting Ware squarely on the DFS radar. He’s going to be much less popular than Rawls, and has a similar ceiling. Buffalo’s front seven can be scary, but Ware should be the main beneficiary if West is ruled out. If you are playing on full-point PPR sites, Shaun Draughn is another viable target with Carlos Hyde already ruled out.
Wide Receiver – Michael Crabtree ($6,500)
Crabtree’s price hasn’t fallen after two down performances, but he’s in a nice spot for a bounce back this week. His ownership percentage in tournaments will surely drop from last week, and he’s not in a much worse spot against a soft Titans secondary. He’ll likely see plenty of Blidi Wreh-Wilson and Coty Sensabaugh, both of whom have graded out poorly in coverage. Not many people are talking about the Raiders passing game after the disaster they put forth in Detroit last week, but you need a short memory in DFS and Crabtree is simply too cheap given his weekly target totals and usage in the offense.
Tight End - Jordan Reed ($5,800)
Reed is really the only TE under $6K that I’d feel comfortable rostering in a cash game. He certainly possesses GPP-worthy upside, but he’s been somewhat touchdown dependent of late, something that caught up with him last week (he also left the game with an injury, but will play on Sunday). Reed is a constant factor in the red zone and his value hasn’t suffered much with DeSean Jackson back in the fold. I’d prefer Delanie Walker in cash games, but Reed is a viable pivot if you really need to save that $300 in cap space. On the season, the Giants have struggled nearly as much as the Raiders have with opposing TEs – New York has allowed the 3rd most FPs to the position this year.