The holidays are upon us, and who doesn’t need a few extra bucks to spend on their loved ones? There’s nothing like spreading holiday cheer with a well-needed fantasy win, especially if you have been knocked out of your season-long leagues and really need to save face.
Injuries hurt twice as bad when you are in the middle of a fantasy playoff run, and with all the starters at running back out this week you don’t want to just bank on the waiver wire. You can make your own luck on Daily Fantasy sites like FanDuel, and it’s so easy to create lineups that you can do it while watching Elf or How the Grinch Stole Christmas.
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”.
It’s frustrating when you pass up a riskier, more expensive, option like Cam or Carson, who I mentioned last week, just to watch them blow up. There are once again some expensive options with good matchups, high floors, and crazy high ceilings. The top-5 QB’s on FanDuel have matchups against teams within the top-9 most points allowed to the position, so I’m not avoiding spending money here this week nearly as much as in the past.
However, if you are looking to save a lot of your budget, you can limit your risk while still reaching target CPP with a guy like Blaine Gabbert. He did fall a little short of my expectations last week, but he seems to be one of the safest low-priced quarterback options. He’s averaging 17.8 points since taking over for the 49ers, and although the Bengals have allowed the 3rd fewest points to the position, his price ($6,300) has built in plenty of room for the matchup. Also, the Bengals were allowing 15.5 standard points to quarterbacks before the bye week (Week 7). Since then they have taken advantage of the injured, replacement, and generally bad quarterbacks of Pittsburgh (twice), Cleveland (twice), Houston, and St. Louis. He only needs 13.7 FanDuel points this week to meet value, and he has yet to fall short of that mark.
I know he isn’t under $7,000, but I’m willing to make an exception for Alex Smith yet again. When the top player at the position costs $2,500 more, he is still a steal and can save you a ton. He plays a Ravens defense that has allowed the second most points to fantasy quarterbacks this season. I’ve talked about his safe floor due to his rushing yards, but he also has the ability to surpass his value and makeup for other shortcomings in your lineup. See why here.
*Jay Cutler can be streaky, but he scored 19.5 points against Minnesota last month. At $6,700 he only needs 14.5 to reach target CPP.
Well, it’s not as simple as it was before in terms of proven production at the low prices, but there are a lot of cheap running backs, most filling in for injured starters. While the workload may not be guaranteed for all these guys, I still much prefer putting my trust in the low-price, low-risk, options over the more expensive backs with less than favorable matchups.
It scares me to put Lamar Miller in my lineups, normally, but now that he has fallen to $6,700 I am confident in using him, especially against the Chargers (allowing 5th most points to running backs). He does have his inconsistencies, based mostly on his coaching staff going away from him despite his success. See my rant here about his outputs. While he isn’t seeing as many receptions as he did with the coaching staff earlier in the season, they seem to be making a point to give him the ball out of the backfield, at least in the first half of games. His 32 carries in the last two weeks are the most he has seen in back to back weeks this entire season.
Unfortunately, David Johnson played in the Thursday game last week, so I didn’t get to talk him up as much as I would have liked. However, it is becoming clear, if it wasn’t before, that he is the go-to-guy with the other Cardinals backs injured (24 touches in each of last two weeks). At $6,500, Johnson is well worth the price even if he doesn’t find the endzone, making him a high upside play if he does manage to get a score. He only needs 14 FanDuel points to reach value, which he has averaged over the last two weeks even without his touchdown. I would be surprised if he doesn’t continue getting in the endzone with this offense, especially against the Eagles defense that is giving up the 12th most fantasy points to running backs.
Even if his yards per carry weren’t impressive, Tim Hightower took full advantage of his new lead-back position with Ingram out, racking up 28 carries for 85 yards and a touchdown. That’s way more than I could have dreamt up last week, and while the Buccaneers may not have been the best matchup, Hightower still managed 16 points. This week he gets the Lions, who are allowing the 11th most points to the position. I doubt he gets 28 carries again, but he should have plenty of chances to score in what looks to be projected as the highest scoring game of the week. Enjoy his $6,300 price tag, as he will only need 13.7 points to reach value.
*You are going to want Denard Robinson ($6,300) in a lot of lineups, especially as he fills in against the Falcons defense that is allowing the 3rd most points to the position.
Maclin’s price actually dropped after last week to $6,700, despite his 9 targets, 9.6 FanDuel points, and having the best matchup this week in terms of points allowed to receivers (Ravens). You can see from last week why I think he is trustworthy, and in a week where he only needs 14.5 points to reach our needed CPP, the point remains.
Kamar Aiken has stepped in as one of the safest cheap receivers since his team’s Week 9 bye, with only one week under double digits. He has averaged over 12 points over that same stretch, while playing both the Rams and the Seahawks, top-6 teams in fewest points allowed to receivers. The loss of Flacco doesn’t appear to be hurting his fantasy stock, as he is averaging 10 targets per game. This week he is listed at $6,300, and he gets the 5th most favorable matchup in terms of points allowed to receivers in Kansas City.
I also like the Cardinals receivers this week, especially John Brown. They are playing the Eagles, allowing the 2nd most points to fantasy receivers, and Brown only costs $6,300. He is averaging 13.8 points over the last four games, exactly what he needs to reach value, but two of those games were against the Bengals and the Rams, who are top-10 in fewest points allowed to receivers. He does not fit my usual description for most cash game receivers, as he thrives on big plays (better for tournament play), but in 8 of his last 9 games he has exceeded 12 points, making him one of the safest receivers available under $7,000 to reach double digits.
*Golden Tate is receiving a high volume lately, even when Megatron struggles. His Week 15 game, as I mentioned on Hightower, is the highest projected total of the week.
Well, at least Gronk is back and looks healthy. However, we have yet another week where almost every other option at tight end is a huge discount by comparison. The next highest player costs $1,700 less, so this is a great spot to try and save some money if you decide not to use that monster.
Greg Olsen once again is under $7,000 and gets a favorable matchup. At $6,800, the Panthers go-to guy appears to be back to practice and ready to take advantage of the Giants defense, currently allowing the third most fantasy points to tight ends. I would monitor him as his game gets closer, but despite his disappointing week last week, he has still been very consistent lately. See my notes from last week on why he’s well worth the price.
Gary Barnidge has also been consistent, while averaging 13.4 points over the last four weeks. He only costs $6,400 this week, and although he needs 13.9 points to meet our needs, he plays the Seahawks this week (7th most points allowed to tight ends). He is drawing 8.5 targets per game over the last four weeks, giving him enough volume to crack double digits even without a touchdown, but if he can get a touchdown, he will likely thoroughly exceed value.
*Benjamin Watson has the 5th most favorable matchup in terms of points allowed this week, and he only costs $5,600. Remember the potential for a high-scoring game here?
My column here.
Per usual, stick to the top streamers. I’m definitely a fan of using the top few options again this week, but I also like the Jets against Dallas if you need to save money. The Jets defense is only $4,900 this week.