NFL DFS Week 13: Hot Sizzle Taeks
I hope you guys enjoyed your Thanksgiving, as I was in a food coma all week and barely even functioned on Sunday. Someone told me Julio Jones got 200+ receiving yards and Alvin Kamara broke the slate. That's nice.
Time to drudge forward into the abyss as the NFL season starts to wrap up, leaving all of us cold and yearning for the days when football made sense. I'm old enough to remember when Dez Bryant was a TD machine. It's actually been 90 years since his last touchdown, so forgive me if I start to fall asleep again in my old age. Anyhoo, let's go ahead and dive into another heart-wrenching NFL slate that should contain well over 5 thousand backup QBs to choose from at your ripped heart's content. OK, I've been eating at Arby's all week. Sorry. Let us win! Positivity! Love! Even a robot can win the rigged game of NFL DFS! GO DINKBOT GO GO GO!
Anyways, onto the NFL DFS Week 13 picks!
Top Play – We've got several top-tier options to choose from – Rivers against the abysmal Browns, Cam Newton vs a depleted Saints secondary, and Thomas Edward Patrick Brady Junior against a Bills team that's now given up the most points over the last 4 games. Yeah, seems like an easy choice for me. Brady's arguably been the league MVP thus far, carrying a continually injured Pats team to the best record in the AFC (tied with Steelers). Over the past month, Brady has thrown 11 TD passes with only one interception while amassing over 1k+ passing yards. He'll get a plummeting Bills defense that just got absolutely torn to shreds by the Chargers (54 points given up) and the Saints (47 points!). The win against the Chiefs shouldn't account for much, as the Chiefs are now scoring the least points of any team in the past month while crumbling apart at the seams. Brady's offense is the league leader in offensive snaps per game while operating at the 5th fastest pace. Add in some historical splits between NE and BUF over the past few years, and you'll notice a pattern of repeated shootouts – competitive or not.
The Bills won't be able to slow down the offense in any way, running at the 3rd fastest pace in the NFL. Even if LeSean McCoy gets going, it likely won't chew the clock and limit possessions for Brady. The Bills' once-vaunted pass defense has started leaking, dropping from a top 5 unit to outside of the top 10 DVOA-wise while their run defense has now bottomed out as the 27th worst in the league. That allows Brady to essentially pick apart the Bills with any kind of game-plan he wants, attacking with play-action to take advantage of an already weak run defense. Letting Brady make any call he wants without fear of a stingy pass rush or exotic blitzes? Too easy.
Value Play – With the news of Famous Jameis Winston making his return as the starting QB for the Bucs off his shoulder injury, I'm sure he'll pop up on plenty of lineups – or lines as the youngins and computer nerds say. Nah, let's pick the QB on the opposite side of the match-up. Brett Hundley's past few starts have been emotional roller-coasters, both showcasing his big-play potential that made him a star in college and his frustrating habit of turning the ball over on terrible decisions. McCarthy has now started giving Hundley the reins to the offense, running at a higher no-huddle percentage in the past few games compared to when Rodgers first got hurt. That's been great news for Hundley, as his numbers while orchestrating the no-huddle offense has significantly been much better than while running the regular offense. Facing a Bucs pass defense that's not only surrendered the most passing yards to opposing QBs, they're also by far the worst pass-rushing team in the NFL with the least amount of sacks. That's a clean pocket for Hundley to operate out of for the majority of the game. At a still remarkably low price tag, Hundley should be a lock as the value play of the week against a team that just let Julio Jones drop 253 receiving yards on them. Ouch.
HOT TAEK – I remember when Alex Smith was more like Alex Rodgers, spinning the ball down the field repeatedly for incredible results. Smith used to be one of fantasy's best QBs, consistently throwing for 300+ yards and dominating in TD numbers. He was even the highest scoring QB through two months at one point! Now, the Chiefs have fallen off a cliff, losing to a dysfunctional Giants team and a Bills team that thought Nate Peterman was the answer at QB despite being in playoff contention. Smith won't exactly get a tantalizing fantasy match-up as a bounce-back game, as both teams are near the bottom in pace and snaps per game. Still, it's a Chiefs offense that once was the highest scoring team in the NFL with a balanced attack of Hunt, TyFreak, and Kelce smashing opposing defenses. There's still some hope for Smith against the Jets, namely the inconsistent pass defense that's giving up the 12th most points to opposing QBs and the 6th most passing touchdowns. It comes as no surprise considering their run defense has started to tighten up over the past month, forcing teams to be more pass happy. The Chiefs were already one of the pass-happiest teams (nearly 60% pass), so a pass-funneling Jets defense could be just what Smith needed. Sometimes you just have to take a chance in ugly-looking match-ups to find fantasy gold. Or coal.
Top Play – Alvin Kamara is now the highest priced RB on the DK main slate. My goodness. He's not the top RB play of the week though, as I'll be bypassing the seemingly better options of Todd Gurley, Melvin Gordon, and Leonard Fournette for a guy who might not be considered a top-tier play. That man's name is Jordan Howard of the Chicago Burrrrrrrrrs. He gets a 49ers defense that's just bad at everything you can imagine. Howard has one of the elite workloads among starting RBs in the NFL, as the John Fox-led Bears prefer to keep the ball on the ground for as long as possible. They even won a game with only 7 total passes! Embarrassing! Howard generally has great days in plus match-ups that allow Mitch Trubisky to be able to somewhat keep the offense moving in short yardage situations, feeding Howard and Cohen as they rumble and tumble towards the end zone. Howard not only owns a massive, massive 36% market share of the RZ opportunities, he has an absurd 65% share of all the carries including in the RZ! The 49ers are giving up the MOST fantasy points to opposing RBs, the second most combined rushing yards, and the 2nd most offensive snaps per game! Point blank, if you want a top-tier RB without paying up for the aforementioned RBs, Howard is the peanut to your jelly.
Value Play – And now, here comes the other RB in Jordan Howard's match-up, Carlos Hyde. The 49ers have decided to finally start their potential franchise QB in Jimmy Garoppolo, which might be a gigantic boon to Hyde's fantasy outlook. Similar to Howard, Hyde also has an absurd percentage of the team's total carries and red zone usage (61% carries, 35% RZ opportunities). The difference between Hyde and Howard is Hyde doesn't need a good rushing day to be fantasy relevant, as his pass-catching duties have actually kept Hyde at a high floor all season long. He's now allocated for 17% of the team's total targets, with the team lead in targets and 27 total targets over the past 4 games. Crazy numbers for a running back not named Le'Veon Bell. There's nothing out of the ordinary about the Chicago defense, sitting at around or near the league average in most categories. That doesn't really matter when it comes to Hyde, whose value comes from the immense workload he receives (literally and figuratively). It figures that a Jimmy G operated 49ers offense show allow more freedom for Hyde at the line of scrimmage, seeing less stacked boxes and easier running lanes. I much prefer rostering Hyde over the various sub 5k options as Hyde has both a high floor and a sky-high fantasy potential simply from being the de-facto number #1 WR for the 49ers offense.
HOT TAEK – Remember when Adrian Peterson was a thing? When he got 37 carries against the 49ers? Pepperidge Farms remembers. Peterson has now fallen off the DFS landscape since that 49ers game, averaging a paltry 2.1 YPC with no touchdowns over the following 3 games. Despite the lackluster fantasy performances, AP still received an elite workload in that span as he carried the ball 55 times. The absence of Andre Ellington has sort of made AP the receiving back of choice for the Cardinals, which resulted in a 5 target game for a 4/20 stat-line last week. Will that trend continue? Probably not, but it's a good thing that Peterson is still considered their top weapon at RB regardless. He'll get a Rams defense that's giving up the 2nd most fantasy points to the position, 3rd most rushing touchdowns, 2nd most total rushing yards, and the 3rd highest yards per carry. Granted, the Rams probably will stack the box against a Blaine Gabbert-led Cardinals offense, but it's still a very plus match-up for a Hall of Fame RB. Everyone likely will have forgotten about AP in favor of guys like Jamaal Williams, Alex Collins, and Kenyan Drake. But just like the Milanos of old, Pepperidge Farms will always remember when you stole that condom from your father's wallet. Despicable
Top Play – With the Killer Bees playing on MNF, I'll have to pick between Deandre Hopkins, Keenan Allen, and Brandin Cooks as the best options for the top spot. Hopkins doesn't seem to be affected by a sloth-like creature at QB and already owns the Titans historically. Allen has had two monstrous games in the past month and gets a dilapidated Browns defense. Both are great options, but I prefer to have a QB stack for those double whammy points. Cooks has also been on a tear over the past month, having scored in 3 of the last 5 games. The yardage hasn't quite been up to the level of Allen and Hopkins, but it's still elite enough to warrant some consideration in what could be a big game for the Patriots. In fact, one of Allen's huge games was against the Bills with a 12/159/2 stat-line. The elite #1 WRs have fared well against the Bills defense, with numbers like 9/117 from Michael Thomas, 7/88/1 from Mike Evans, and 7/189/1 from A.J. Green. It's conceivable that Cooks joins that group and drops 150+ yards in a match-up many may gloss over due to skewed DVOA numbers. Don't fall for it! Get that Brady/Cooks connex!
Value Play – Man, some of these prices don't make sense at WR. Connor Kupp at over 6k? TyFreak still over 6k? Funchess almost 7k? Even Robby Anderson has risen into the 6k tier! With all of these used-to-be-value WRs, I've decided to keep the QB/WR stack going and will place Hundley's favorite target in Davante Adams here. Ever since Rodgers went down to a collarbone injury, Adams has been the biggest beneficiary of the circumstances as he now leads the Packers in every statistical category. In the past month, Adams has seen 28% of the total team targets with over 40% of Hundley's yards gained. That's a huge number and shows the positive bias Hundley has for Adams. Not only that, Adams has now secured the TD lead for the team after his 5/82/1 stat-line against the Steelers. He's been far and away the highest usage WR for the Packers in every meaningful category, including red zone usage. At a similar price to the aforementioned WRs, Adams has a much better match-up against a bottom-tier Bucs defense. The awfulness of the Bucs defense has already been discussed in the Hundley write-up, but it does bear repeating that the Bucs also give up the 3rd most receiving touchdowns and most receiving yards. It's all smiles from Lambeau Field as the Cheeseheads cheer on Hundley and company, despite Winston trying to sneak in some Wisconsin cheddar with his crab legs.
HOT TAEK – While I do think Keenan Allen can have an explosive day, there's a sneaking suspicion deep inside my brain, beneath the collection of '90s music that won't stop playing on repeat. That suspicion is thinking that Tyrell Williams actually is the Chargers player to own. The main reason for that is how the Chargers generally line up their receivers, as they prefer to rotate Allen, Williams, and Benjamin all over the formations. Allen is still the primary slot option, running 52% of his routes in the slot compared to only 35% for Williams and 40% for Benjamin. The Browns may overall be a pass defense to target against, but two things have remained constant over the season. Jason McCourty and Briean Boddy-Calhoun have been their best secondary players, limiting everything that goes by them for minimal gains. Calhoun still has one of the lowest yards/receptions per coverage snap in the NFL, which may limit Allen's ceiling somewhat. McCourty's been a top CB as well (89 PFF grade) but his coverage duties vary depending on whether or not the Browns decide to use shadow coverage or not. I will assume they do assign McCourty to Keenan on the boundary, leaving Williams alone versus the Browns' biggest weakness in Jamar Taylor. The majority of the Browns' big pass plays given up has been on Taylor's side, leaving me to believe that Tyrell just might have one of those random 100+ yard days at a sub 5% ownership. Don't believe me? Well, no one does anyway. WHO AM I FOOLING? You, of course.
Top Play – Gronk owns the Bills. Like, totally owns them. Check the splits! I'm going to pivot off Gronk though, instead choosing what may be the chalk TE play of the week in Jared Cook. Sure, he's not exactly an elite TE nor has he been on fire over the past few games. His match-up against the Giants is just too damn good, as he'll get the worst TE coverage unit in every possible category. OK, they're only giving up the 2nd most yards to TEs. YOU GOT ME. The Raiders are expected to be without their top two receivers in Crabtree (suspension) and Cooper (concussion), leaving the door swinging wide open for ol' Jared Cook to come through with a 0/0/0 stat-line. Yes, all of those practice sessions with Aaron Rodgers and the fervor of his training camp heroics will finally all mesh together for one glorious day in hell as he literally cooks the Giants defense on his seam routes. Someone's gotta get the damn targets!
Value Play – It's the Seal! BARK BARK BARK! Ricky Seals-Jones has been a gem for the Cardinals over the past 2 games, combining for an impressive 7/126/3 stat-line as the new TE. While his success might be due to the backup connection (Gabbert/Seal-Jones were on the scout team), Seals-Jones has actually looked very legitimate on his routes and could be their future TE if things keep going well. Gabbert clearly prefers the Seal in the red zone as evidenced by the 3 TDs, but the biggest catalyst for the connex has been Gabbert's trust in Seals-Jones. The Seal's production hasn't been coming from short dink and dunks but rather from deep, long developing plays that have helped Seals-Jones maintain an 18 yard per catch average. That's massive for the ceiling of a low-priced value TE. It's not going to be an easy match-up for the Seal as the Rams are very tough against opposing TEs, with the 6th fewest points given up and a 5th rated DVOA TE coverage unit. At that price though? There are very little options in the 3k range for DK with the upside of Seals-Jones, so if you're reluctant at paying up for the 5k-7k TEs, punting the Seal might be your best option.
HOT TAEK – You know who's a TE that basically nobody talks or cares about? Well, I know you're going to wait for me to answer. I will actually wait for your response. This is me waiting. This is you wondering why you took the time to scroll all the way down to this portion. Now, this is me laughing at your inability to discover a trap in waiting. MUAHAHAHA! Also, it's Julius Thomas if you didn't know. Yes, it's a Dolphins pick and you better deal with it! Thomas has seen an emergence in Gase's offense as the safety valve for both Jay Cutler and Matt Moore. Thomas has now seen 23 targets over the past month, turning those errant passes into a respectable 17/174/2 stat-line. We all know the story about the Broncos' defense against tight ends, so you shouldn't be shocked at the fact that they've given up the 3rd most yards and 4th most touchdowns to opposing TEs. Thomas' red zone market share has now risen to 17% of the opportunities as well as 19% of the targets. That's a big number for a low priced TE on all sites. Do you believe in
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