So, last week’s “stack the Saints” suggestion didn’t exactly go according to plan. There were some respectable fantasy performances, but overall, the upside was severely lacking. Brees started the game hot, but fizzled out down the stretch. Consequently, Jimmy Graham followed that pattern as well. Khiry Robinson was granted a healthy number of touches, but Pierre Thomas ended up with the all-important rushing TD. Even after all that, I’m sticking with the “All Saints’ Day” theme once again. Call me stubborn or foolish, but fading one of the best offenses in the league against a subpar Dallas defense is not something I want to be a part of this Sunday.
While the Saints’ offense could provide the foundation for your daily fantasy lineups, there are some “can’t miss” value plays (particularly at RB) that make paying Drew Brees and Jimmy Graham’s vast price tags a reality. More on that in the write-ups below, but first comes the obligatory disclaimer:
As the title implies, this article breaks down the “must plays” in FanDuel’s daily fantasy salary cap games. Each player is categorized by price, with their respective FanDuel salary included. Some of these picks may seem obvious, but that’s essentially what this article is trying to shed light upon. Outlining these “must plays” should give you a nice starting point for constructing head-to-head and 50/50 style lineups, while it may be beneficial to work in some underrated sleepers for the larger tournaments.
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Top-dollar options who will justify their hefty price tag.
MUST PLAY: Drew Brees (QB) - NO - $9,100
He didn't exactly live up to his "must play” status last week, but a welcoming matchup against a Cowboys defense propels him to the top of the weekly QB rankings. Oh, and it doesn’t hurt that Peyton Manning is on a bye. Some people may glance at Brees’ game log, notice his middling fantasy performances, and decide not to pay the high premium. That would be a mistake, as the Saints line up as the highest projected scoring team of the week. Dallas gave up the second most fantasy points to opposing QB’s in 2013, and that ineptitude was on full display as Austin Davis racked up 327 yards against the ‘boys last Sunday.
BORDERLINE: Le’Veon Bell (RB) – PIT - $8,800
Bell has been fantastic this season against some pretty solid run defenses, and now he will line up against a Bucs team coming off a historically bad performance. The Steelers are heavy favorites in this home game, so it’s safe to assume that Le’Veon could see his usual 20-25+ carries, especially if Pittsburgh is protecting a lead down the stretch. Given his incredible 5.2 yards per carry, that should provide plenty of looks to amass 100+ yards for the third time in four games.
The only reason he’s a “borderline must” comes in the form of opportunity cost. There are several attractive RB’s hovering around the same price range (DeMarco Murray and Eddie Lacy), but if you are looking to spend on a reliable top shelf option, Le’Veon is the cream of the crop.
Players priced in the “second-tier”, but could easily boast top flight numbers.
MUST PLAY: Jimmy Graham (TE) – DAL - $8,200
You don’t need me to write a 100+ word paragraph explaining how the best TE in the game is an elite play vs one of the worst defenses against that position. However, I wrote one up anyway, just in case you aren’t sold on Graham’s fantasy prospects quite yet:
I know I have recommended Graham several times in this column, but I truly believe this is most opportune time to deploy him in your FanDuel lineups. For starters, he has an A+ matchup against a Cowboys defense that has allowed three straight big games to TE’s (Vernon Davis, Delaine Walker, Jared Cook). On top of that, finding reliable value at running back (more on that later) and wide receiver makes it comfortable to work in his substantial price tag.
BORDERLINE: Julian Edelman (WR) – NE - $7,200
I’m convinced that Edelman is the “snuggie” of the NFL fantasy world. He’s not a flashy commodity you’ll brag to your friends about, but he offers a warm and fuzzy sense of security that is so elusive in daily fantasy football. He is far and away Tom Brady’s top receiving option, exemplified by his 37 targets in three games. For a fraction of the cost to the high-end receivers, I’ll take that type of capability every single week. Expect Edelman to nickel and dime his way to another solid fantasy line in a non-threatening Monday night matchup against the Chiefs.
Mid-range picks with favorable prices and situations.
MUST PLAY: Donald Brown (RB) – SD - $6,300
Even though his salary places him in the silver category, Brown should be fantasy gold this weekend. With Danny Woodhead and Ryan Mathews out, Brown is staring at a heavy workload, which was confirmed by a whopping 31 carries last week. I’ve said it many times before, but the key to fantasy football is “supply, supply, supply”. Brown certainly has that element covered, and the matchup angle looks promising too. The Chargers are large home favorites over the lowly Jags, which should inspire plenty of second-half touches for Brown to put the game away and bolster his fantasy totals.
BORDERLINE: Lamar Miller (RB) – MIA - $6,900
Miller is in a somewhat similar situation as Brown, but the marginally higher price tag has me deferring to the San Diego back. Actually, it may be a viable strategy to fill your RB slots with Miller and Brown, then spend on QB, WR, and TE. Food for thought.
Miller looked great in a start vs Kansas City, piling up 100+ yards (7.2 ypc) and adding 4 receptions. Now he’ll take on an Oakland team that has given up a multitude of long runs throughout this young season.
The best of the bargain bin.
BORDERLINE: Golden Tate (WR) - DET - $5,500
The Jets makeshift secondary is one to target, as Aaron Rodgers and Jay Cutler exhibited in the past few weeks. Under normal circumstances, Calvin Johnson would be a de facto must play, but an ankle injury has him questionable for this game. Either way, Tate should churn out solid production for this cheap price, and his upside could sustain a nice boost if Megatron’s injury sends more passes his way.
BORDERLINE: Khiry Robinson (RB) – NO - $4,700
Mr. Robinson was a borderline bronze selection last week, and he patched together a good, but not great performance. However, his 18 carries showed promise, as New Orleans decided to feature him in their “run-heavy” mode to milk the 4th quarter clock. Robinson should see that same type of workload against Dallas’ generous defense that allowed the most fantasy points to running backs last season. I fully acknowledge the plethora of running back value this week (deciding on two is tough!), but don’t completely write off Khiry, especially for this near-minimum price tag.
Kicker, Defense, and a few honorable mentions.
KICKER: Shayne Graham - NO - $4,500
I'm going to make this one real simple: Minimum priced kicker, playing in a dome, for the highest projected scoring team of the week. Enough said.
DEFENSE: Detroit Lions - $4,700
The Lions defense has been surprisingly good to open 2014, giving up only 28 total points in the first 3 games. Geno Smith has looked improved at times this season, but he’s still extremely turnover-prone. Detroit’s strong defensive line is fully capable of shutting down New York’s rushing attack, promoting a nice little value play for $4,700.
BEST OF THE REST: Julio Jones (WR) – ATL, DeMarco Murray (RB) – DAL, Colin Kaepernick (QB) – SF, Eddie Lacy (RB) – GB, Andre Johnson (WR) – HOU, Michael Crabtree (WR) – SF, San Diego (DEF), Allen Robinson (WR) – JAC