After two weeks of dumpy performances, I got a few combinations right last week. It was good. I hope you found similar success thanks at least in part because of something you read here.
I also had a decent Thanksgiving. I’m not ready to retire, but the numbers went up and I only had a few dollars in play. I hope that bodes well for this weekend’s slate.
Our formula is not perfect, but it’s pretty good. I feel like I’m on the cusp of a huge win because some part of my research always pushes me toward one unconventional play or two.
One of these weeks it’s all going to fall in line. I hope you feel the same way and I hope it pays off for you as well.
However it’s important to keep a few things in mind:
- Only play 10% of your bankroll. Your bankroll is the amount you are going to play with this year. Wagering more than 10 percent sets you up to go bankrupt before the end of the season. Only wager more if you play a lot of cash games and have found success there.
- Always follow rule No. 1, unless you find some serious overlay. And even then, don’t go overboard. We’re all going to have bad weeks, even when we do everything right. Don’t spend so much that you can’t recover from it the following week. This allows us to brush off a bad week and move on to the next.
OK, let’s get to this weeks sleepers and values at Draft Kings. I will reference Defense-adjusted Value Over Average a lot, it is a Football Outsiders’ metric which can be a better predictor of future success than fantasy points allowed. All team rankings and yards allowed to receivers are referenced from Football Outsiders’ Defense Efficiency page.
Week 12 daily fantasy: Draft Kings sleepers | FanDuel sleepers | Thanksgiving special
Brian Hoyer, HOU vs. NO, $5,000 — The Saints probably made a couple careers — or at least a couple big contracts — this season. They’ve been epically bad against just about everyone on defense. That bodes well for minimum-priced Brian Hoyer, who throws to the best wide receiver in the game.
Blake Bortles, JAC vs. SD, $5,900 — Bortles burned most of the industry in a great spot a few weeks ago. That means some people get a little indigestion when they see his name. That’s good news for you, because it’s another great spot for Bortles. The Jaguars throw the ball in the red zone too much and San Diego has been too bad on defense for us not to have some exposure to Bortles.
Eli Manning, NYG at WAS, $6,500 — If this game was at home, an advantage for Hoyer and Bortles, Eli would probably be my most owned quarterback this week. It still should be a fine game against the Redskins, who are seventh-worst in the NFL against the pass, according to DVOA, but I can’t go all-in here.
Russell Wilson, SEA vs. PIT, $6,000 — Pittsburgh has been torched by No. 1 and No. 2 receivers this season. Their defense funnels to the passing game. Seattle isn’t a pass-happy offense, but they may be forced to throw more than usual and Wilson’s price is so depressed, this makes an excellent play.
Carson Palmer, ARI at SF, $7,100 — Palmer is essentially matchup proof at this point. Even though he’s on the road, we should still consider him. On the road against a rancid 49ers defense, it should be huge spot for Palmer even though the projected score indicates a blowout. The only real concern here is that Arizona overlooks SF, but even then I’m not sure the 49ers will be able to take advantage.
Josh McCown, CLE vs. BAL, $5,000 — One of three minimum-priced quarterbacks on the list this week, McCown is the starter because Johnny Manziel is a dunce. It’s also worth noting McCown is at home and that he torched the Ravens for 457 yards and two passing touchdowns and a rushing touchdown in Baltimore earlier this season. McCown has been better than a lot of people realize and he may slip under the radar.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, NYJ vs. MIA, $5,000 — Here’s our third minimum-priced quarterback. After giving up a combined 629 yards and seven touchdowns to Tom Brady and Hoyer in back-to-back weeks, the Dolphins have been solid against mostly sub-par quarterbacks for three weeks. This week might prove whether they’ve improved or if it’s a mirage. Fitzpatrick is throwing to two stud wide receivers in Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker. This isn’t the safest play on the slate, but I’ll have some exposure to Fitzpatrick in tournaments.
Marcus Mariota, TEN vs. OAK, $5,500 — This is probably my favorite play of the week. I’m not sure I can pull the trigger on a ton of cash games with the rookie quarterback, but I’ll definitely have a couple tournament lineups with him. He’s shredded bad defenses a couple times already this season. The Raiders are an uncommon opponent with a bad defense and Mariota is at home. Those are all the ingredients we need to make the right choice. You want more? The Raiders gave up 265 passing yards and two touchdowns to Geno Smith this season.
Adrian Peterson, MIN at ATL, $7,300 — Atlanta has been decent against the run, but Peterson is matchup proof. The Falcons may also struggle in the keepaway battle because of Devonta Freeman’s injury. Peterson’s salary is also still too low.
T.J. Yeldon, JAC vs. SD, $4,800 — You can make an awful lot happen when someone at $4,800 is a viable starter at running back. Yeldon is in a potentially huge spot against the worst run defense in the NFL, according to DVOA. The biggest issue is Jacksonville’s reliance on the pass in the red zone.
Thomas Rawls, SEA vs. PIT, $4,500 — The Seahawks expected to win at home is a recipe for a huge running back week. Pittsburgh has been decent at stopping the run, but Rawls should get more than enough action to pay off his meager price.
Doug Martin, TB at IND, $5,800 — I just can’t figure Martin out. On the weeks I want to play him he does squat. The weeks I avoid him he goes bananas, like last week. Indianapolis is one of the tougher run defenses in the NFL, according to DVOA, but we have to consider Martin following last week’s performance.
LeSean McCoy, BUF at KC, $5,300 — Fifty-what-hundred? No way McCoy’s price should be this deflated. He’s been too good. KC’s DVOA does suggest it could be a rough week for McCoy, but I’ll consider him in tournament games this week. Opportunity is more important than matchup when it comes to running backs.
Javorius Allen, BAL at CLE, $4,600 — Speaking of opportunity, Allen has loads this week after Justin Forsett broke his arm. Of course, there’s always a chance Allen could drop a stinker on us. I, however, will have a good mix of Allen in my daily fantasy lineups this week, against one of the worst run defenses in the league. There’s just so much value.
Giovani Bernard, CIN vs. STL, $4,500 — Bernard is so low-priced and has been so much better than Jeremy Hill we have to consider him every week. This week, however, the Bengals are favored by a large margin at home against an uncommon opponent, the kind of team QB Andy Dalton has torched so far this season. Bernard is effective as a runner and as a receiver, which means he’ll get run whether they need to run or pass.
Mark Ingram, NO at HOU, $6,400, — It’s no guarantee, but this could be a bounceback game for Ingram against a Texans defense that has been significantly better at defending the pass.
Todd Gurley, STL at CIN, $7,500 — The Rams defense has been one of the best in the NFL — third in both run an pass DVOA — but the Bengals are also an uncommon opponent for the Rams. Gurley proved earlier this season that he i good enough to provide fantasy points even in a bad matchup.
Chris Johnson, ARI at SF, $4,600 — The 49ers rank 30th in run DVOA and 31st in pass DVOA. Johnson should have value in both phases of the game, but more importantly should grind at the end of the game with the Cardinals well in the lead.
Antonio Andrews, TEN vs. OAK, $3,700 — Oakland’s defense has been bad in both phases, but they’ve allowed 64 receiving yards per game to running backs, one of the highest totals in the NFL. Andrews has been a good PPR option this season and we’d have to consider him this week. But on top of the matchup, Dexter McCluster is likely to miss 2-3 weeks, which means Andrews should get more touches.
Shaun Draughn, SF vs. ARI, $3,800 — Any time we can roster a starting running back for less than $4,000, we have to consider it. Draughn has an eight-catch game this season and has proven serviceable for a downtrodden 49ers offense. It’s not a great matchup, but Draughn is at home and is practically the only thing going in SF.
Danny Woodhead, SD at JAC, $5,200 — Much has been written about the Chargers woeful running game and about how they use short passes to Woodhead and the tight ends as a running game. Jacksonville allows 55 receiving yards per game to running backs, one of the highest averages in the NFL. Philip Rivers and the pass-heavy San Diego offense should take advantage.
Julio Jones, ATL vs. MIN, $9,400 — As I’ve said in the past, we use a couple formulas and sort a couple different ways to come up with our value rankings. The spreadsheet just spits out players expected to produce well based on their price. Jones fits the bill almost every week because he is so much better than most of his peers. Minnesota is not a great matchup for No. 1 wide receivers, but they don’t often face top teams who scheme to get their top WR 14 targets a game.
DeAndre Hopkins, HOU vs. NO, $9,100 — Another salary-buster at the top, but another absolute beast of a wide receiver. If Hopkins is playing he’s a threat to score multiple touchdowns, regardless of quarterback and matchup. This week he gets the Saints defense, the worst in the NFL against the pass, according to DVOA. I’m surprised he didn’t come in first.
Steve Johnson, SD at JAC, $4,500 — Johnson disappointed a lot of people last week, underperforming as the Chargers No. 1 wide receiver. Jacksonville’s defense funnels to the passing game, which likely means more pass attempts for Philip Rivers and more targets for Steve Johnson. Because of his poor performance last week, don’t’ be surprised if Johnson goes underowned this week.
Larry Fitzgerald, ARI at SF, $7,400 — I expect him to score a notch below Julio and Hopkins this week, making his salary — $2,000 less — an extreme value. the 49ers have allowed 99.4 yards per game to No. 1 wide receivers, most in the NFL.
Brandon Marshall, NYJ vs. MIA, $6,800 — Like we said in the Fitzpatrick blurb, the Dolphins have been decent the last few weeks, they have struggled with No. 1 wide receivers this season, allowing 81.9 yards per game to the position. At home, against the Dolphins could be a huge matchup for Marshall.
Antonio Brown, PIT at SEA, $8,700 — Seattle’s defense hasn’t been as good as it’s been in the past, but it’s still better at home. But as long as Ben Roethlisberger is quarterback and Brown is healthy, he’s a threat for at least 8-100-1 each week. The Seahawks have also struggled against smaller, faster receivers like Brown. Brown is an interesting pivot off Julio/Hopkins with a slight discount in price.
Eric Decker, NYJ vs. MIA, $5,800 — Decker has been a catch machine and has far outplayed his salary to date. The matchup (53.9 yards per game) isn’t quite as juicy as Marshall’s on paper, but both have proven they can put up huge numbers in the same game.
Odell Beckham Jr., NYG at WAS, $8,700 — Again, if this game was at home, I’d be all over an Eli-OBJ stack. Instead, I’m going to have some tournament lineups with the duo. Washington has allowed 61.1 yards per game to No. 1 wide receivers this season, on of the lowest totals in the NFL.
Demaryius Thomas, DEN vs. NE, $7,400 — This is one of those situation where you’ll likely never see this wide receiver this low-priced ever again. Thomas is uber-talented and Brock Osweiler has breathed new life into the Broncos passing attack. The one big concern here is that Patriots coach Bill Belichick is known for taking away a team’s top weapon, and DT is that for Denver.
Stefon Diggs, MIN at ATL, $4,800 — Atlanta has allowed 77.2 yards per game to No. 1 wide receivers, that’s upper middle-of-the-road. The emergence of Kyle Rudolph next week and the running of Adrian Peterson should open up more opportunities for Diggs. He feels like more of a tournament play than a cash play this week though.
Mike Evans, TB at IND, $7,400 — The Colts have allowed 89.7 yards per game to No. 1 wide receivers, fifth-most in the NFL. They’ve also allowed 61.7 per game to No. 2 wide receivers, indicating poor play all around. The coverage of Vontae Davis is a concern, even if he won’t be on Evans the whole game. However, the 5-11 tall Davis may struggle in the battle against the 6-5 Evans.
Heath Miller, PIT at SEA, $3,100 — I revealed that Miller would be our top DK TE in our early rankings article. He gets a lot more usage when Ben Roethlisberger is on the field and his price has dropped all the way into the near-free range. On top of that, the Seahawks have allowed 70.1 yards per game to TEs, fifth most in the NFL. Roethlisberger will take advantage.
Rob Gronkowski, NE at DEN, $7,900 — Here’s Gronk at sub-$8,000, struggling because he isn’t getting enough targets. But, as I’ve said twice already this week, wouldn’t it be like Bill Belichick to withhold targets from the big man all season just to let him wreak havoc on the top passing defense in all the land?
Antonio Gates, SD at JAC, $4,700 — This one’s a tournament only play. He only had one catch last week and played in only half the offensive snaps. He is probable this week with hip and knee injuries. However, if he’s healthy he should rack up plenty of fantasy points because the Chargers passing offense is so depleted.
Tyler Eifert, CIN vs. STL, $5,800 — Eifert had a big bounceback last week, now he faces the Rams, whose only weakness in the passing game has been the tight end — 67.1 yards per game, one of the highest totals in the NFL.
Delanie Walker, TEN vs. OAK, $5,400 — If it’s a Marcus Mariota game, it’s a Walker game. Or maybe it’s the other way around. Either way, you want both of them in at least one tournament lineup this week.
Jordan Reed, WAS vs. NYG, $5,100 — Like Mariota, Kirk Cousins’ fate usually hinges on the matchup for his TE, Reed. The Giants are worst in the NFL (79.9 yards per game) at defending the position.
Kansas City Chiefs vs. BUF, $2,800
New York Jets vs. MIA, $3,200
Cincinnati Bengals vs. STL, $3,000
Cleveland Browns vs. BAL, $2,000
Houston Texans vs. NO, $2,500
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at IND, $2,500