Listen, I’m sorry if you didn’t make playoffs, and I’m really sorry if you missed the fantasy playoffs because you listened to one of us here at Sports Grumble. The good news is, despite your season-long success or failure, you can still win and make money on Daily Fantasy sites like FanDuel.
Last week we made bank by searching for value in areas of high probability and consistency, “playing it safe”. The best part of not being attached to a lineup is that you can target cheap trending players, favorable matchups, and high scoring games throughout the entire league. Plus, you don’t have to worry about Mark Ingram going on the Injured Reserve when your team needs him most.
The key to winning any fantasy-style game is getting the most bang for your buck. Even in season-long leagues the key to success is drafting players with value that are likely to outperform their draft position. That’s where we come in. Each week we will provide you cheaper, high value, options on FanDuel that can help you begin building the perfect lineup, and by spending less on the players we suggest you’ll have budget room for those elite monsters you love like Julio Jones.
When playing 50/50 matchups the best strategy is to play it safe since you only need to outscore half the pool. In order to do this you need to project a safe outcome in terms of Cost Per Point (CPP). For clarity, I like to target around 130 points in Head-to-Head and 50/50 play, which comes out to be around $460 per point ($60,000 FanDuel budget divided by 130 desired points). We are in the business of targeting players likely to come at a cheaper CPP, more “bang for our buck”.
As this season nears its end, almost all the quarterbacks are priced over $7,000, making it difficult to save a lot of budget at the position. It’s tough to leave guys like Cam and Carson out of your lineup, especially when you know they could go off in a big way for more than 30 points, so I can’t blame you for wanting to pay up. However, that will thoroughly deplete your budget.
If you need to save at quarterback, there are still safe low-priced options, starting with Ryan Tannehill. I know he may have let people down last week in a favorable matchup with Baltimore, but Tannehill had three multi-touchdown games in a row leading up to last week. You had the right idea, and this week he plays the Giants, who are allowing 4th most fantasy points to the position. He only needs 15 points to be worth his $6,900 price, something he achieved in each those three games leading up to Week 13. Also, Tannehill has shown capable, against a high ranked Jets passing defense, to thoroughly exceed his value, which is is something we may need if things play out like last week where we saw 50/50 style games in which 130 FanDuel points didn’t get the job done.
The same could also be said for Alex Smith at this point. He has now exceeded 21 FanDuel points two weeks in a row, while also being one of the league’s safest QB’s to reach double digits and value weekly. He’s the perfect example of what you want in a 50/50 style game, very safe. While his matchup may not be as favorable as others’, his continued rushing yards and everything else I mentioned last week make him easily worth his $6,800 price. He may be the quarterback I own the most shares of this week.
My extra player recommendation last week, Blaine Gabbert, has now proven to not only have a floor of 16 FanDuel points but also the upside to put up 25 points. For the fourth game in a row Gabbert has well-exceeded his price in points, and this week against an awful Browns defense (5th most points allowed to the position) he should be able to continue the streak. Not only does he cost less than both of my previous plays, but he appears to be the most likely this week to reach our target CPP. He’s averaging almost 19 points per week since taking over, and he only needs 14 points to exceed value at $6,400.
* Johnny Manziel, Matt Hasselbeck, and Brock Osweiler all have favorable matchups and are under $7,000 as well. They may be a little riskier and suited better for tournament games.
The new trend seems to be low-priced, high volume/workload, running backs on FanDuel. Over the last couple weeks this has allowed owners to buy low at the position and spend big on the favorable matchups of the top-priced receivers. I have no intention of arguing against that strategy, despite the drop in top-tier running backs.
While Lamar Miller has a good matchup against the Giants (11th most points allowed to running backs), he is first on my list because of his inconsistencies. Even at $6,600 he has some risk if you look back at his 12 total carries the two previous weeks before his 20 carry outburst in Week 13. However, other than against the Jets stellar run defense, Miller has routinely proven that good things happen when he touches the ball (4.9 yards per carry). It was great to see him finally get a RB1 workload last week, but I think he could have easily scored more points. He had his fewest receptions since early October, and despite his 113 rush yards, he didn’t find the endzone. If he is getting 20 touches in a game, I think he has a good chance to reach value and maybe the most upside in terms of potential to exceed that value, especially against the Giants.
Latavius Murray does not have as good of a matchup as Miller, going up against the Denver Broncos, but Murray has been getting a consistent workload all season. He has averaged over 19 touches per game this season, and while his upside doesn’t appear to be very high, he seems safe at $6,200 to have one of the best chances of being on the field enough to acquire points or even a score. Denver is really tough against the pass, leading teams to attack them on the ground. Hopefully the Raiders will take this approach, but Murray only needs 13.5 points to meet our CPP goals. If he does find the endzone, he only needs a couple catches and 65 total yards. At his current rushing average, 4.3 yards per carry, that would only take 15 carries.
Shaun Draughn, much like his QB, continues to be under-priced. Last week I mentioned how uncomfortable it often makes me to have quarterbacks and running backs in lineups together, but against the Bears last week and the Browns this week, they both have a high probability of meeting our point needs. Draughn actually helps his quarterback and vice-versa, as he has now 18 catches over the last three weeks. His matchup against the Browns, ranked 6th in most points allowed to running backs, is easily the best he has had since the bye week, so it will be interesting to see if he can also add significant rushing yards to his totals. He is only $6,500, thus he only needs to get us 14 points. He had 17 last week with only 36 rush yards. You can count on him.
*Unfortunately David Johnson plays on Thursday, but he is my favorite option if the other Cardinals backs are out still. However, Bilal Powell and whoever fills in for Mark Ingram could be very cheap fill-ins if you want to save even more money.
Have I mentioned the top receivers with favorable matchups enough the last two weeks? Antonio Brown and Odell Beckham Jr are once again worth the money, and I’m not against trying to get them both even in the same lineup. However, there are also some low-priced guys to fill-in with.
Again, I’m pushing another player with a poor matchup. Jeremy Maclin unfortunately plays the Chargers this week, who have allowed the 5th fewest fantasy points to receivers and only gave up 29 yards to Maclin three weeks ago. However, he has averaged 9 catches, 127 yards, and 1.5 touchdowns since that game. Maclin appears to be fully healthy and back on track with quarterback Alex Smith, attracting double digit targets the last two weeks as well. I wasn’t as eager to use him last week, but after two solid weeks in a row, getting him for $6,900 feels like a steal. He only needs 15 points, and if he continues his touchdown streak, he could easily cash in with just 6 catches for 60 yards. Look back at weeks one through five before Maclin got injured, where he was targeted on over 30% of Smith’s attempts, if you need reassurance.
I refuse to learn my lesson. See here why Anquan Boldin should have been safe last week, especially with 13 targets. He continues to be a highly targeted receiver and has the fourth most generous defense in terms of points allowed to fantasy receivers in Week 14 (Cleveland Browns).
Unfortunately, injury has left a lot of questions on who we can trust among the cheaper receivers. While I like players like Travis Benjamin for being highly targeted and having a favorable matchup, he doesn’t have someone like Allen Robinson to draw the defense’s attention away. This is why I’m more likely to trust the players like Allen Hurns. Although he doesn’t get quite as many looks, Hurns has been a consistent endzone threat when healthy this season (7 straight games with a touchdown through Week 10). If he looks healthy coming into Sunday, he might just be the most likely sub-$6,700 receiver to score a touchdown. He can essentially reach target CPP with a touchdown if he catches at least 5 balls for 55 yards.
*He may have a rough matchup against the Cowboys and some of the worst hands in the NFL, but Davante Adams ($6,300) is averaging almost 11 targets per game over his last five games in an Aaron Rodgers-led offense.
Another week potentially without Gronk, and yet all the remaining tight ends are under $7,000. I wouldn’t hesitate to call them discounts, as some of them are far more likely to score touchdowns than wide receivers in their same price range.
I’m pushing Greg Olsen at $6,600 this week. I trust him way more than say Allen Hurns at the same price. He has averaged 13.5 FanDuel points over his last six games and has a Falcons defense in town that allowed an aging Ben Watson to score 23.7 points earlier this season. Olsen has very little competition for targets, leading the second most-targeted player on the team by 27 targets. He’s the safest play at the price, across all positions, and he is a touchdown away from exceeding value weekly. He has 6 touchdowns on the season, and his nearly guaranteed volume getting him to double digits alone makes him worth the risk for extra points if he lands in the endzone.
Averaging 7.6 targets per game over the last three games is impressive, but Julius Thomas has also managed to find the endzone in each of his last three games. This week he plays the Colts, who are currently allowing the 12th most points to the position. The Colts have also allowed 5 touchdowns over the last seven games to tight ends, providing this touchdown driven fantasy asset perhaps the best chance of any tight end this week to score. He’s only $5,900, so Thomas would only need something like 4 catches for 50 yards to meet value with his touchdown. At a position of uncertainty, that may be the best we can ask for.
*Austin Seferian-Jenkins has the most favorable matchup for tight ends in fantasy, New Orleans, and is playing in the game with the highest-projected total score.
Pick kickers in high-scoring good weather games.
I’m paying for the top-3 in almost all lineups this week (Denver, Seattle, and Arizona), but if you run out of budget, I don’t mind taking the Lions against the turnover-prone Rams. Check streaming scores for further analysis on usable defenses.