In this weekly article, we’ll look at the cheaper options that should return good value to your NFL DFS lineups. The bargain threshold varies by site, and position, but generally we’ll aim for our bargain plays to take up about 8-10 percent of your salary cap, except for quarterbacks, which we’ll allow 11-12 percent. A great tool to find bargains is our DFS projection system, which gives a dollar per fantasy point projection for each player. I refer to it often!
Tua Tagovailoa, Miami Dolphins ($6700 FD, $5800 DK, $27 Yahoo)
The sites are reluctant to increase Tagovailoa’s salary, as they were when Justin Herbert started doing well. I believe that with every start, Tua is going to make improvements in his game. The defense is giving them good opportunities and they have been taking advantage. After a fairly slow start, Miami is now the ninth-highest scoring team, while allowing the fifth-fewest points per game. So far, he’s thrown two touchdown passes in each of his starts. His yardage isn’t high, but he’s not making mistakes, either. He feels like a high floor value with the Dolphins favored by three over a decimated Denver defense that is middling at best against the pass this year.
Alex Smith, Washington Football Team ($6600 FD, $5300 DK, $21 Yahoo)
Smith is the cheaper QB value, also in a good matchup with the Bengals this week. One thing I like about Smith for fantasy is that he’s coming off a high-volume, 55-attempt game. Joe Burrow is second in the league in pass attempts (with one fewer game than leader Tom Brady). This could be a faster-paced and higher scoring game than the Vegas total indicates. Smith is averaging over 350 passing yards per game in his last two, which has helped him reach value despite throwing only one TD (with 3 INTs in Week 9). Cincinnati ranks eighth in terms of fantasy points allowed to QBs and WRs, and second to TEs (see below). You could roll with a whole Washington stack, or just save with a solo Smith and stack the skill positions from higher upside games.
Also consider: Joe Flacco
Kalen Ballage, LA Chargers ($5800 FD, $5600 DK, $16 Yahoo)
Ballage pretty clearly looks like the lead Chargers back, which is a valuable role based on team history. This week, LA faces the NY Jets, one of the league’s best overall fantasy matchups (fourth) and seventh-best RB matchup. With concerns about Justin Herbert’s haircut lighting up the fantasy world, Ballage is definitely the safe Chargers play. Kidding aside, the combination of volume and value in this matchup should make Ballage one of the more popular RB plays this weekend.
Nyheim Hines, Indianapolis Colts ($6100 FD, $5200 DK, $19 Yahoo)
Writing up Hines has “trap” written all over it. I’ve been holding out on rostering Colts due to their depth at each position, but Hines continues to rise to the top of the fantasy score sheet. Even considering Jonathan Taylor’s hot start, Hines’ nose for the end zone has him leading all Colts backs in PPR fantasy points. He’s scored four touchdowns in the last three games, and it looks like Philip Rivers has his Austin Ekeler. Making it easier to cave on Hines is the fact that the Colts are facing the Packers, who have been among the most generous rushing defenses, allowing the second-most fantasy points to running backs this season.
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Michael Pittman, Indianapolis Colts ($5500 FD, $4500 DK, $16 Yahoo)
If you’re going one Colt, why not two? There aren’t a lot of cheap WRs I love this week, but Pittman stood out. First, this game has one of the highest point totals of the week, and Indy is a small home favorite. We can expect Aaron Rodgers and the Packers to move the ball well despite Indy’s stout defense, so Rivers could be busy trying to keep pace. Pittman hasn’t had a super-splashy game yet, but is coming off his first 100-yard receiving effort on eight targets in Week 10. That game could represent a turning point and after another one, we won’t see these prices again.
Breshad Perriman, NY Jets ($5700 FD, $4300 DK, $12 Yahoo)
I’m breaking all my rules, including the no Jets one. The logic: 1) Perriman has clicked with Joe Flacco, earning trust with two big touchdown plays in Week 9, 2) LA has not defended the pass well this season, 3) his rostership will be low, especially since he popped up on the injury report Wednesday with a new shoulder issue (which is something to keep an eye on). It could also be Denzel Mims or Jamison Crowder; all three are affordable GPP options.
Hayden Hurst, Atlanta Falcons ($5500 FD, $4400 DK, $17 Yahoo)
Might this game fly a bit under the radar this weekend, with Drew Brees missing the action? It might, but New Orleans should still be a great matchup for Matt Ryan and Hurst. The Saints are great at stopping the run, but allow the fifth-most fantasy points to tight ends. Hurst has four consecutive double-digit fantasy point games in a row now, and I’m betting on him making it five.
Minnesota Vikings ($4400 FD, $3300 DK, $15 Yahoo)
It’s tempting to pick on the Vikings, so if you’re high on Andy Dalton and the Cowboys –they are great values this week—you can’t join me in rostering the Vikings for a cheap defense. The strategy of using the defense facing Dallas, going all the way back to the beginning of the season, is the turnovers. They are second in the league with 20 giveaways. They also allow the QB to be sacked at one of the highest rates, nearly three times per game. Naturally, that’s all a bit baked into their salary but they could still be worth it. If you’re going cheapest defense possible, which I do in order to fit the skill players I want sometimes, good luck. It’s a tough week for it. The best move is to pay up for the Steelers.