Onto the next battle. Since we're still early in the season, here's a bullet point list of what you'll find in 'Value Plays' article each Friday ...
- Each position features three players that I believe are strong value selections for the upcoming weekend, plus the reasoning behind the choice.
- The price tag indicated in parentheses is what you will find over at DraftKings.com.
- Following a quick write-up of why each particular player is a solid value, I'll offer a suggestion on where you should then take your money savings. This works to provide a run-down of the more highly-priced guys that I do like for the upcoming weekend.
- At each position I will also list the highest-priced player in that spot, alongside a 1-10 score which references how confident I would be in that player earning back their cost (10 being a guarantee).
Of course, when you're dealing with a salary cap structure, a good portion of the players I recommend do not correlate to top-notch starting options in season-long play. About half the time, a DFS recommendation is not a thumbs' up for that same player in your season-long set-up
Before I jump into the Week 12 DFS value plays, here's a look at the Week 11 Report Card ...
- Seemingly without fail, the Quarterback position continues to offer massive returns. Russell Wilson came in with a top 4 showing, Matthew Stafford was 7th overall, and, even, Mark Sanchez was in the upper-half of the QB spot with more than 19 points.
- Jonathan Stewart posted a 6th consecutive game of at least 20 carries and answered with a top 10 showing. Charcandrick West was on his way to another good week before pulling up lame. Meanwhile, Joique Bell, didn't find any running room in a surprisingly low-scoring affair with Oakland.
- Everyone's 'It Guy,' Danny Amendola, came through with ease. Stevie Johnson ended up as a top 30 pass-catching option. But, Wes Welker got pounded in the Case Keenum-led debacle and finished with an underwhelming final stat line.
- Coby Fleener was so-so, Zach Ertz left early, and Jacob Tamme was a bomb. Not good.
- Tampa Bay was a total dynamo versus Sanchez and the Eagles, finishing with a top-2 effort. Chicago settled for middle-of-the-pack, yet still came in as a huge value based off their dead-last cost. On the other hand, San Diego, finished almost exactly where the cheap price tag indicated they would.
Overall Week 11 Grade - B+
Marcus Mariota ($5,500) vs. OAK - Mariota has run hot-and-cold (as expected) in his rookie season. In Week 1, he slung four TD throws on just 15 pass attempts. That was the start of a flame-throwing start in September as he finished the month an 8:2 TD:INT ratio. But, since then, it's been a battle for the Titan centerpiece. In addition to missing a pair of games, Mariota has been shut out on the touchdown front in three of five. In fact, the only game that even stands out in the least since the start of October was the four touchdown explosion at New Orleans. I lay all that out so you realize what you're embracing with the up-and-down talent. He can just easily go for 250 and 2 as he could go 180 and 0. With Oakland opposing him, the odds lift a little more in his favor. The Raiders did handle Matthew Stafford in Week 11, but overall, they're an extremely pockmarked unit. In effect, the biggest knock on them is that nearly every opponent puts together a game plan that calls for pass after pass. Check it out ... 418 passes against this season. No team in the entire NFL has been facing more throws than the Silver and Black. I don't expect to see Mariota throwing 40+ times, but 35 is a good target with another half-dozen scrambles thrown in.
If you save here, spend here - Delanie Walker ($5,400) vs. OAK
Josh McCown ($5,000) vs. BAL - McCown gets the call for Cleveland this weekend after Johnny Manziel proved again that immaturity and off-the-field problems usually demolish any chance at an NFL career. The mid-week decision to pull the plug on party-goer came late enough that McCown will still only cost you what you would expect to pay for a full-fledged back-up. Before ceding his job because of injury, McCown had actually been in the midst of a very good season. He has completed nearly 2/3's of his 254 passes, while managing 11 scoring throws to just four turnovers. He has little to fear in the matchup with Baltimore. The Ravens are seemingly banged up all the way from Player 1 to Player 53. Their pass defense has shown some backbone of late, but I'm not buying it. I'm more interested in the 457 yards that McCown covered versus the Ravens earlier this year. Half of that total would make this a bountiful DFS selection.
If you save here, spend here - Larry Fitzgerald ($7,400) @ SF
Brian Hoyer ($5,000) vs. NO - All signs point to Hoyer suiting up and taking snaps for the Texans this weekend. And, not a moment too soon as he is welcomed back into the starting lineup just in time to face the defensively clueless Saints. Now, perhaps the firing of Rob Ryan as the Defensive Coordinator during the bye week leads to a flip of the script, but I'm more than willing to pay for Hoyer before finding out. Remember that Houston has shown no hesitation in throwing the football this season (no team in the league has thrown more than their 430 passes). There should be every expectation that they do it again for Week 12 ... especially against New Orleans. Hoyer has DeAndre Hopkins, Nate Washington, and Cecil Shorts (Cheap Stack Alert!!), all at his disposal for this game and 30 points appears to be in the cards.
If you save here, spend here - Mike Evans ($7,400) @ IND
Top of the Chart - Tom Brady ($8,000) @ DEN - 7.5
Shaun Draughn ($3,800) vs. ARZ - I sincerely doubt that Draughn has NFL, starting-caliber talent. But, I have no doubt that he's just about the only guy that San Francisco can turn to when they try and run the pigskin. On his 6th team, Draughn has capably filled-in for the hobbling Carlos Hyde in each of the past two games. He's done nothing great, mind you, but he has racked up a load of opportunities. How many guys who cost $3,800 can say that they've reeled off 28 carries with 16 pass targets in the previous two weeks? None. Draughn's match-up is a stiff one ... at least when he runs. Last week, we all saw Gio Bernard continually punish the Arizona linebackers when numerous catches and scampers. Draughn is not to the level of Bernard as a player, but again ... and, this can't be overstressed enough ... he's the guy who will be in there with Blaine Gabbert. He's a big-time safety valve for a QB who constantly has to turn to his safety value. All in all, it's just a lot of expected work in a package that costs under 4-grand.
If you save here, spend here - Jordan Reed ($5,100) vs. NYG
Spencer Ware ($3,600) vs. BUF - As of this writing, Charcandrick West, is still a question mark going into the new weekend. Obviously, if he is unable to go because of his balky hamstring, Ware will become a favorite of the DFS community. Much like Draughn, who I touched on above, Ware isn't an 'exciting' prospect, per se. He's a serviceable back-up that can get you through a week or two. Particular to this weekend, he'll be pounding heads with a Buffalo run D that has allowed 90 or more yards rushing in seven of the past eight games. Even if the Chiefs surpass that mark, I don't know if Ware will get more than 15 carries. KC can go in other directions by possibly activating the disappointing, Knile Davis, using reverse runs with Jeremy Maclin, and even game-planning more rollout zone reads by Alex Smith than usual. If you select Ware, you MUST pair him up with a stud tailback in your RB roster spot.
If you save here, spend here - Doug Martin ($5,800) @ IND
Ahmad Bradshaw ($3,600) vs. TB - I think this is a risk I'd take even if I were certain that Frank Gore (groin) was playing. If he's not out there on Sunday, then this would be a major bargain for obvious reasons. But, let's treat things as if Gore is in uniform and has the pads strapped on. For one thing, he'll be less than 100% and that should mean to a few extra carries for the other vet, Bradshaw. Since returning to the Colt's organization, Bradshaw has slowly, but steadily worked himself back into more opportunities. Last week, he notched his 2015-best total of 13 touches (nine carries, plus four catches), while posting over 50 yards and even a couple of scores. Matt Hasselbeck is not going to be asked to throw the football 40 times. In fact, Indy would like to keep him close to 30. That should play into the hands of Bradshaw who can be right around 12-15 touches in Week 12. He's not a major pop, but he's a worthwhile and, extremely cheap, risky pick to make.
If you save here, spend here - Drew Brees ($7,300) @ HOU
Top of the Chart - Devonta Freeman ($8,300) vs. MIN (7.0)
Doug Baldwin ($3,800) vs. PIT - This name, alone, has often sent me scurrying to the hills in fear. Baldwin has a tradition of posting five or six eye-catching fantasy showings alongside a good half-season of general disappointment. 2015 has been no different. Baldwin got things rolling in the first couple of games 14 receptions, just under 130 yards, and a score. Then, from Week 3 to Week 8, Baldwin never topped three receptions, 70 yards, while tacking on a pair of scores. Suddenly, coming off a Week 9 bye, Baldwin hauled in 13 catches, nearly 200 yards, and a score, in the past two games. So, he's got to fail this weekend, right? Well, admittedly, there's a good chance of that. Frankly, the risk of Baldwin is a similar risk that you will find with anyone located in this price range. Baldwin, though, gets to face off with a Pittsburgh secondary that has delivered big numbers to opposing receivers, across the board. I wouldn't expect a load of catches in this one, but a good 50 yards with a score is quite possible.
If you save here, spend here - Adrian Peterson ($7,300) @ ATL
Cecil Shorts ($3,600) vs. NO - Shorts has been featured in this spot before and the track record of success has been fleeting. But, I just can't let go of this particular head-to-head. As noted earlier in this column, the Saints are more akin to a small-time high school outfit on defense. Houston also throws a ton and not every ball can go in the direction of DeAndre Hopkins. The bet here is that Shorts gets loose for a deep throw and score. Anything beyond that will be pure gravy.
If you save here, spend here - Rob Gronkowski ($7,900) @ DEN
J.J. Nelson ($3,000) @ SF - At the very bottom of the DraftKings price chart, you'll find the bums that cost you just a few thousand. Most of these guys won't be on the active roster come Sunday. Some have been stuck on the practice squad all season. And, still others are out of the league and without a team ('But, hey, Mom, my name is still in the game! Lookie here!'). So, why is Nelson getting a mention this week? Well, quite simply, did you see last Sunday night? Nelson busted loose versus Cincinnati on the national conscious with four big-yardage catches that totaled 142 yards, alongside a 64-yard scoring play. The Arizona coaching staff has been raving about Nelson's raw speed all season and, of late, it's finally showing up in the game plan. Both John Brown and Michael Floyd are 50/50 for this game and that amp's the attraction to Nelson even more. San Francisco has allowed the 6th-most passing yards in the NFL and they are no stranger to the TD pass, having allowed 17 of them this season.
If you save here, spend here - Julio Jones ($9,100) vs. MIN
Top of the Chart - Julio Jones ($9,400) vs. MIN - 8.9
Ben Watson ($4,000) @ HOU - Give credit where credit is due. Watson has resurrected his career and shown some renewed life in 2015. He and Drew Brees have crafted a handful of games this year that make him enticing every week. There was the blow-up of double-digit catches and over 125 yards in Week 6. Week 8 gave nine receptions and just a shade under 150 yards. Bundle it all up and you've got a tight end in his 12th season who has a shot of hitting personal bests in catches, yards, and scores, this year. OK, that's all dandy, but why this week, you ask? First, the vet is coming off a bye and should have his legs back. Secondly, he's hit the point where you have to call him what he is ... a consistent target in the Brees-led offense. And, lastly, Houston does allow more nearly 11 points per week to opposing tight ends. Four-thousand bucks is on the upper end of 'value,' but if you have the dough laying around as you finish off your team, Watson is a name I'd wrap things up with.
If you save here, spend here - Eli Manning ($6,500) @ WAS
Crockett Gilmore ($3,700) @ CLE - Gilmore was a solid match-up play a week ago against the Rams and he came through, finishing with over 100 yards receiving in a much-needed win. Now, the Ravens are in Cleveland and they arrive there without their starting QB, their starting RB, and their ace WR. So, yes, there's a vacuum to fill here! Gilmore should be able to work the same underneath areas against the Browns that he took advantage of in Week 11. The largest hurdle he faces is that with Joe Flacco down for the count, he'll have to be doing his damage with the ineffective, Matt Schaub. Schaub is mostly over-matched at this point in his career and his performance is a big-time wild card this weekend. Still, since he won't be firing the ball deep down the field a whole lot and probably doesn't feature the arm strength to make good on sideline throws, Gilmore could be his intermediate target and find his way to a half-dozen receptions.
If you save here, spend here - Carson Palmer ($7,100) @ SF
Julius Thomas ($3,400) vs. SD - After waiting through injury, we finally saw some form of life in Thomas last week. He pulled in five catches while also scoring in the win over Tennessee. But, let's back things down just a bit, too. Those five catches went for a grand total of 28 yards! Ugly. The Jags would certainly like to keep the vibes going this week as they continue to build a proficient offensive attack. I actually believe Thomas, who has always seemed to be a TD-maker more than an all-around production talent, is a better bet for a score than for 60 yards. His opponent, San Diego, has been pushed around by opposing tight ends most of the season. Heck, for the year, they're granting over 14 DraftKings points per week to them. It's a pretty good match-up, for an involved offensive piece ... and the price is certainly right.
If you save here, spend here - Odell Beckham ($8,700) @ WAS
Top of the Chart - Rob Gronkowski ($7,900) @ DEN - 8.3
Tennessee ($2,200) vs. OAK - Somehow, some way, a mediocre Detroit defense stood up and backed down the Oakland offense a week ago. The Raiders offense was neutralized all afternoon in Ford Field and now the west coasters have to keep things chugging on the road as they stay in the Midwest and face the Titans. Tennessee's record is putrid at 2-8, but they have posted a few fine defensive showings over the 10 games of action. In fact, in addition to ranking 6th in overall defense (total yards allowed), they kept teams to under 20 points in half of their match-ups this year. Facing Derek Carr is not necessarily a 'great' head-to-head this week, but the youngster can be fooled into some overly-aggressive throws. The Titans are in the upper-third for picks this year and they could tack on a couple more this week.
If you save here, spend here - T.J. Yeldon ($4,800) vs. SD
Cleveland ($2,000) vs. BAL - Cleveland is, at best, average on the defensive side of the football. But, this entire play comes down to a pair of things ... 1. They're home and, 2. They're facing Matt Schaub. The reeling Ravens have got to be arriving at the Dawg Pound, just wondering what in the world will happen next. Maybe next is under 14 points, less than 175 yards passing, and no running game to speak of. If that occurs, the Browns defense will be a total bargain grab for Week 12.
If you save here, spend here - Philip Rivers ($6,700) @ JAC
Washington ($2,000) vs. NYG - Admittedly, this is a dangerous spot. The Redskins have been raked over the coals multiple times this year. But, have you noticed that nearly all of those games have happened when they outside of Landover? When you face them at home, you're facing a different animal. In five home tilts this year, the 'Skins have allowed just 91 total points and nearly a third of those (30) came in one single afternoon during a shoot-out win over Tampa Bay. Here's another surprising factoid ... with a win on Sunday, Washington and New York would be tied atop the NFC East division! Surprising, right? There's something to play for here, they've been good at home, and they're up against quarterback (Eli Manning) that they know very well and who is prone to ugly tosses. There's no way that they should be at the bottom of the defensive cost rankings.
If you save here, spend here - DeAndre Hopkins ($9,100) vs. NO
Top of the Chart - Arizona ($3,900) @ SF - 9.0
You can hear Kyle, Monday-Thursday from 8-10 ET and Friday's from 10-midnight ET, on 'The SiriusXM Fantasy Drive', on Sirius 210, XM 87.