Editors Note: As of Saturday AM, Zach Ertz’s playing status is up in the air. The Eagles have activated TE Joshua Perkins from the practice squad, which is clearly not a positive development. If Ertz is out, it would bring Dallas Goedert squarely into play in all formats. Given the iffy status of Ertz, if he is able to go, his ownership should drop quite a bit, likely to the point of being deeply contrarian.
This is shaping up to be a week where weather could have quite a big impact on DFS ownership, with weather concerns in multiple games with strong fantasy options. Be sure to monitor our new NFL Betting Lines dashboard for game environment updates and tune in to our Sunday Morning Live Stream for last-minute analysis.
Mining Matchups: DFS Nuggets Using Silva’s Column
Some of the most common feedback we get at ETR is how to put the content we offer into practice for DFS. To help with this, our staff has pulled out interesting nuggets from Evan Silva’s Matchups Column and will combine them with DFS-specific insights and analysis. All salaries referred to in this column are on DraftKings. All projected ownership numbers can be found here.
1. Eight of the last ten quarterbacks to face Cincinnati logged top-13 fantasy scores, while DC Lou Anarumo’s unit lacks pass-rush firepower to exploit Gang Green’s leaky protection, ranking bottom two in both sacks (16) and QB hits (44). Sam Darnold’s ceiling is heightened with Andy Dalton rather than soft-tossing rookie Ryan Finley on the other side, raising this game’s high-scoring chances.
Darnold ($6100, 2-4%) has quietly accounted for 12 total touchdowns in his last five games, and is seemingly becoming a better option from a fantasy perspective game by game. The benefit of DraftKings pricing players up accounting for matchups is that it can depress ownership by players just paying attention to value, possibly adding to Darnold’s appeal here. Since he has a bunch of stackable players, he’s not going to go completely overlooked, but Demaryius Thomas ($3600, 2-4%) offers some point per dollar salary relief, while Jamison Crowder ($5600, 5-8%) is a lower-level second tier WR play, and Robby Anderson ($4800, 2-4%) should be contrarian even coming off 86 yards and a touchdown. Ryan Griffin ($4300, 2-4%) is overpriced and we believe not worth the somewhat significant spend.
Andy Dalton’s ($4700, 5-8%) extremely depressed salary brings him into the conversation as a tournament play on its own, but when you look at his stacking options it becomes even more viable. Tyler Boyd ($5500, 9-12%) and Auden Tate ($3800, 2-4%) are both excellent plays from a value perspective. Tyler Eifert ($2800, 0-1%) is almost completely off the fantasy radar but should benefit from having Andy Dalton back in the mix.
2. Greg Olsen faces a Redskins defense permitting the NFL’s eighth-most fantasy points to tight ends. Since Carolina’s Week 7 bye, Olsen ranks fourth in targets (40), fourth in Air Yards (270), and first in routes run (195) among tight ends.
Olsen ($4400, 2-4%) is in a perfect spot to go overlooked in tournaments, given his relatively elevated price, somewhat pedestrian game log over the past two months, and not excellent on matchup as the Redskins have been an adequate on defense. DJ Moore ($6800, 9-12%) has been excellent, but we suspect people may not thrilled about playing him at this price point after he’s been one to two thousand dollars less for most of the season. Curtis Samuel ($4800, 5-8%) is a classic example of is he unlucky or is he bad? He’s very clearly a good tournament play if you believe it’s the former.
Given the inept quarterback play and running back timeshare, Terry McLaurin ($5600, 0-1%) is really only the only viable fantasy play on the Redskins in our opinion, and it’s still a bit of a stretch in this spot and price.
3. Indianapolis’ zone defense can be susceptible to tight ends – it’s allowed the NFL’s tenth-most catches to the position (57) – and Jonnu Smith was fantasy’s TE8 in PPR leagues across Tannehill’s first four starts. Delanie Walker was placed on IR this week.
With the TE position being ugly outside of a few options at the top, Smith ($3300, 0-1%) should be an extremely low-owned option. We don’t like any of the other plays on the Tennessee offense in any format, for reasons that vary. Smith is not a core play, but is an acceptable contrarian piece in a deep-field lineup.
There is more to like on the Colts side of the ball. Jonathan Williams ($5300, 17-20%), Zach Pascal (0-1%) and Jack Doyle ($3300, 9-12%) all represent viable tournament plays, with Pascal being a bit more of a large-field only option. Jacoby Brissett ($5900, 0-1%) just has not flashed any upside this year, with the Colts seemingly wanting to control the clock and having an adequate defense, which will ensure he’s an extremely off the board option. We prefer grabbing one piece of the Colts offense as a contrarian part of a lineup rather than trying to game-stack with Brissett.
4. Nelson Agholor has topped 50 yards once all season, but this should be the week he gets back over that hump. Popping as Week 13’s No. 5 buy-low player in Josh Hermsmeyer’s Air Yards Model, Agholor faces a Dolphins defense that has allowed 8.04 yards per attempt and eight touchdowns on 90 slot targets this year.
This is an extremely ugly spot, but is appealing for large-field tournaments because we think Agholor ($4400, 2-4%) has a good combination of contrarian appeal, upside and value. There are plenty of Eagles that are better on paper plays, but should be a lot more popular as well. Carson Wentz ($5800, 5-8%) has burned a lot of people this year but is setup for a nice week at somewhat reduced ownership. Miles Sanders ($5400, 21-25%) is again coming in as a strong value play even after consistently mediocre performances. And Zach Ertz ($6700, 13-16%), while overpriced, still has slate-breaking upside. All told, the Eagles have a number of strong plays, and their viability comes down to whether you think the field is comfortable disregarding their poor recent outputs. Our view is that Wentz, Sanders and Ertz are all acceptable tournament plays, but not primary building blocks, while Agholor remains an attractive contrarian option.
5. Enemy backs have rocked Green Bay for a clean 5.00 yards per carry, 14 all-purpose TDs, and the NFL’s 11th-most running back catches (62). Still averaging 21 touches over his last five games and coming off a year-high 97% playing-time clip, volume and matchup are working vehemently in Saquon Barkley’s potential breakout-game favor.
Barkley ($7400, 17-20%) is a Top Play this week, so we clearly like him. We caution against expecting his ownership to be low, given his name appeal and that his price has continued to fall. We think he’s viable in any format, and would want to be about even or slightly ahead of the field on his ownership at projected levels. Sterling Shepard ($4900, 26-30%) is coming in as one of the best plays on the entire slate given how thin the Giants are at WR and TE. We love him as a cash-game target, but not as much as a tournament option. We would want at least a couple sub 5-7% ownership type plays in lineups that contain him. Darius Slayton ($5300, 9-12%) is in the prototypical pay up to be contrarian situation being priced above Shepard, which gives him some GPP appeal in our opinion.
Davante Adams ($7000, 31-40%) is in the conversation with Shepard for the best overall WR play on the slate. Adams is obviously a great play, and will be owned as such. We think it makes some sense when trying to be contrarian to consider avoiding Adams and Shepard together and finding other pieces of this game. Aaron Jones ($6800, 5-8%) is the only obviously viable way to do that on the Packers, and as noted above, there are a few options on the Giants. If playing Aaron Rodgers ($6500, 9-12%), we think it’s viable to stack his secondary WR options, as they are priced low enough to where although unlikely, one touchdown and 3-4+ catches will provide a great fantasy output.