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 15 DFS value plays, here's a look at the Week 14 Report Card ...
- Two out of the three were successful. Ryan Fitzpatrick was a huge success, Ryan Tannehill gave a solid showing, but Jameis Winston was shockingly ineffective against the Saints.
- Matt Jones produced a double-digit points' weekend, but neither Mike Tolbert nor C.J. Spiller were able to pay off on big opportunities.
- Tyler Lockett showed up as a stellar choice, finishing with a top-5 showing at his position. Dorial Green-Beckham was OK, but DeVante Parker turned in a pure dud.
- Once Rob Gronkowski became a surprise active for Week 14, Scott Chandler was relegated to junk bond level. Austin Seferian-Jenkins came up a tad short versus the Saints, but Will Tye was a bulls' eye by providing a TD catch in Miami.
- I can't do much better with a value push than Jacksonville who rolled to nearly 20 points, finishing 2nd at the team defense position. Elsewhere, San Francisco was middle of the back and Tampa Bay was near the bottom of the rankings.
Overall Week 13 Grade - B-
Philip Rivers ($5,500) vs. MIA - Injuries and missing parts all around have finally carved up Rivers in 2015. His price tag for this week is a giant drop-off from the usual levels. Seriously, he's been running in the mid-6K range all year before dipping to this flat line mark. Of course, after last week's disastrous effort in Kansas City (no touchdowns and just 263 yards), the price punishment is not out of line. This weekend, there's a decent shot that Dontrelle Inman is back in the lineup and Stevie Johnson is a 50/50 bet to return. Regardless, Rivers gets to face a Dolphin defense that is playing on a short week of prep after losing to the Giants last week. Plus, they have to make the cross-continent trip to San Diego. Oh, and did I mention that they're truly weak against the pass (6th-most yards allowed per attempt and the 4th-most passing touchdowns against)? Rivers is a quantity-machine, leading the league in pass attempts and pass completions, and those guys never come in at this cost, against this kind of competition.
If you save here, spend here - Seattle ($4,200) vs. CLE
Teddy Bridgewater ($5,100) vs. CHI - As we near the final stretch of this 2015 season, Bridgewater is close to finishing up as one of the more disappointing players in the entire league. Unlike others, he's been healthy, but he's shown no statistical improvement in his 2nd season. In fact, in a lot of aspects, he's regressed. Still, there has been a bit of a light at the end of this tunnel. He's coming off his best game of the year in a battle that saw him facing a good Arizona defense on the road. He should have few issues against a Bears' pass defense that is very ordinary (don't be misled by their #2 ranking vs. the pass ... they've faced the 6th-fewest passes this year). Unlike Rivers, Bridgewater does not have explosion potential ... but 250+/2/0 is a possibility and worth going for if you want to blow the budget on the great wide receivers available this week.
If you save here, spend here - LeSean McCoy ($6,300) @ WAS
T.J. Yates ($5,000) @ IND - Yates steps in for the injured Brian Hoyer and arrives with a friendly, December tilt against Indianapolis. Obviously, it's a cold-weather game in a dome ... that's a plus. Having DeAndre Hopkins to flip the ball to ... that's a plus. He's up against the 4th-worst pass defense in football ... that's a plus. Yates also performed well in his only other start this year, going for 230/2/0 versus the Jets ... that's a plus. And, finally, the dirt cheap cost ... that's a big plus. This is a critical AFC South game for both teams and I think that will lead to some loose, air-it-out play-calling. After all, neither team is having success on the ground, right now. It's very risky, but it's a difference-making call if Yates pans out.
If you save here, spend here - Adrian Peterson ($7,100) vs. CHI
Top of the Chart - Tom Brady ($7,800) vs. TEN - 8.8
Joique Bell ($4,100) @ NO - Coming down the stretch, the Lions have begun planning for 2016. One of the largest developments on that front is the extra look for rookie, Ameer Abdullah. The lift in workload hasn't done a whole lot for Abdullah's prospects, though, and Detroit is still finding a way to find work for a guy like Bell (at least nine touches in each of the past three games). I actually think that Abdullah will get a little more work than Bell this weekend, but I feel that Bell, even with fewer opportunities, will perform much better and more efficiently. Last week, he was good for 75 yards against St. Louis and this week, the Lions would be smart to run early and often against the 31st-ranked Saints' rush D.
If you save here, spend here - Drew Brees ($6,600) vs. DET
Brandon Bolden ($3,200) vs. TEN - Despite a slew of injuries, the Patriots continue their remarkable season. Their latest set-back is the season-ending hip injury to starting running back, LaGarrette Blount. The assumption (and, it's ALWAYS an assumption with the Pats!) is that Bolden is due the rushing work heading into this weekend. For the most part, the 4th-year player had done zilch until last weekend when he was so-so with 51 yards on 16 carries. So, in other words, quantity may be here, but the production may be slightly underwhelming. As always, game flow should work in the Patriots' favor. With a big lead they would usually turn to Blount, but that option is available for Week 15. James White is not a running running back, so we're left with Bolden to finish off the 3rd and 4th quarters.
If you save here, spend here - Cam Newton ($7,800) @ NYG
Fozzy Whitttaker ($3,000) @ NYG - As each and every one of us understands, touching committee backfields can lead to crushing DFS results. Denver, Detroit, Cleveland, Houston, the Giants, Washington ... on and on and on. They're just not a great spot to be investing in. So with that warning issued ... let's chance it with Whittaker. The Panthers are very unlikely to have the services of workhorse, Jonathan Stewart, for their trip to the Meadowlands, but it's uncertain who will see the most work in his absence. Is it Whittaker, who coach Ron Rivera said would 'start' on Sunday? How about human bowling ball, Mike Tolbert? Or, even the unproven, 1st-year tailback, Cameron Artis-Payne? Even with the warning of 'all of the above,' I'll chance my money on Whittaker. Tolbert is a short-yardage, 5-6 carries, kind of guy. I don't believe that Carolina would risk their incredible undefeated start by giving Payne work for the first time in his career. At least with Whittaker, the Panthers have a guy who's been around the block before. Also, he received a predominance of the work last weekend after J-Stew left early and did well (8 carries, 34 yards, and a TD). New York is a failure on defense, so even with just a dozen carries, Whittaker could pay off.
If you save here, spend here - Tom Brady ($7,800) vs. TEN
Top of the Chart - Devonta Freeman ($7,500) @ JAC - 7.9
Michael Floyd ($4,400) @ PHI - I'm mostly surprised that Floyd is still running at this low cost. Shockingly, he's actually even $500 lower than his teammate, John Brown. Look at the numbers of late ... Brown has been good, but Floyd has been great. In the past 5 games, Floyd has four 100-yard games. Brown has one. Floyd has 24 catches to Brown's 18. Floyd has nearly 450 yards in the past five games and has four scoring catches in that run. Brown is still of interest at his price level, but Floyd is a massive attraction at his cost. The Cardinals head to Philly for Week 15 and will get to feast on an Eagles' secondary that does more missing than hitting. Floyd is red-hot, right now, but the price hasn't caught up for some reason. Take advantage of it.
If you save here, spend here - Rob Gronkowski ($7,300) vs. TEN
Albert Wilson ($3,600) @ BAL - Wilson is coming off his finest game of an underwhelming. He had the only score in the Kansas City-San Diego brawl that ended up as a 10-3 final. In addition to his 44-yard catch and run for a TD, Wilson added another three receptions for another 43 yards. He's never due a flood of targets (hey, he's working with Alex Smith!), but he has shown the ability to turn the short grab into the long play. More so than the interest in Wilson is the interest I have in finding a receiver due to face-off with Baltimore. The Ravens got destroyed by the entire Seattle receiving corps a week ago. The week before that, secondary receiver, DeVante Parker, got loose against the Raven secondary. Overall, Baltimore has shown a hint of improvement in the secondary since some early year problems, but this is still a head-to-head that the Chiefs might actually want to attack. Wilson is a huge boom-or-bust play, but it's a minimal investment for the off-chance of another 40+ yard touchdown.
If you save here, spend here - DeAndre Hopkins ($8,500) @ IND
Devin Funchess ($3,500) @ NYG - If Greg Olsen finds himself on the sidelines for this one, Funchess becomes an absolute temptation. As discussed earlier, New York is a horrendous in almost all defensive aspects and Funchess arrives with a good chance of getting some love in the Panther offense. Olsen is easily their top love in the passing game, so if he's M-I-A they'll need someone to fill the vacuum. Heck, even if Olsen suits up, I think there's a case to be made for Funchess. He continues to make strides on the back-end of his rookie season. He has turned some extra snaps into any real success, but he has been on the field more and more. He's almost like the perfect 'forgotten threat' that the Giants will probably overlook while prepping for Sunday. Remember, we could also see Cam Newton up around 35 pass attempts (a number he's reached in just four games this year) because of the issues in the Panther rushing attack.
If you save here, spend here - Julio Jones ($8,500) @ JAC
Top of the Chart - Odell Beckham ($9,200) vs. CAR - 8.4
Richard Rodgers ($4,300) @ OAK - Rodgers was a near crash-and-burn last week. He followed up his breakout showing in Detroit, with a pitiful one-catch, three yard showing in a win over Dallas. Oh, but he got the touchdown we all crave! And, he's been doing that most of the season. If you look back at that game, the weather did the Packer passing game no favors. In the end, Aaron Rodgers only passed the ball 35 times, which is on the low-end of his usual standards. Most tight ends (especially the ones that I discuss here in the bargain bin) don't bring much consistency to the table. Many times, it's a gut-read, a match-up play, or an admission that a player is seeing more passes head in his direction. Richard Rodgers has a little of all three of those working for him in Week 15, except he's constantly getting love from his QB when they journey inside the red-zone (7 scoring grabs, despite just 49 overall catches).
If you save here, spend here - David Johnson ($5,300) @ PHI
Vernon Davis ($3,300) @ PIT - While the entire offensive system around him seemed to be stuck in a haze, Davis was coming alive last week in the disappointing loss to Oakland. He finished with a Bronco-high seven receptions, while posting his best yardage total (74) of the season. Now, there was some bad with the good as he managed to let a big-gainer slip through his mitts for a dropped pass. Still, the key is that he's fully enshrined in the Denver offense now. That bodes well as the team travels to Pittsburgh to do battle with a Steeler squad that has had some issues holding down opposing tight ends. For a young QB like Brock Osweiler, any connection that proves successful in the early going is usually one that he'll want to rely on. Davis might have become just that sort of guy last week.
If you save here, spend here - Russell Wilson ($7,000) vs. CLE
Will Tye ($3,100) vs. CAR - Tye shows up in this spot for a second consecutive week. Last week, he wasn't a huge payoff, but he did crop up in the box score with the first scoring catch of his young career. Each and every week he's involved in the Giants' passing game. It's never to the extent that he's due six or seven targets, but Eli Manning is giving Tye many of the same chances and opportunities for nice chunks of yardage that he also provided to the injured, Larry Donnell. I would be unwilling to predict another score for Tye this week, but I feel comfortable in calling for plenty involvement as the G-Men try and become the first team to knock off Carolina in 2015.
If you save here, spend here - Alshon Jeffrey ($7,300) @ MIN
Top of the Chart - Rob Gronkowski ($7,700) vs. TEN - 9.0
San Francisco ($2,100) vs. CIN - Guess who's back in front of (what's left) of their home fans this week? It's my favorite team to totally ignore on the road, but embrace at home ... the 49ers. As I've written about throughout the season, San Francisco has been three times the defense in the Bay Area versus everywhere else. To quickly recite the numbers ... in six home games, they've allowed only 95 total points. In their seven road trips, that total hits 220! Cincinnati is a solid offensive unit ... but, that was with Andy Dalton at the controls. With the inexperience A.J. McCarron going under center this Sunday, I'd be happy to take a shot on San Francisco and the two picks they should provide.
If you save here, spend here - Jordan Reed ($5,900) vs. BUF
Indianapolis ($2,000) vs. HOU - As you might have seen at the top of this read, I did push T.J. Yates as a possible value pick at the quarterback spot. The suggestion here of Indy is called, hedging your bets. The Colts get a back-up quarterback, with little running game support, in their home stadium, in a must-win situation. In other words, the defense should be amped to step up and shut-down the visiting Texans' offense. Of course, the reason that they're cost is so tiny is that they've been massacred for nearly 100 points (!) in the past two games. Hey, at least none of your DFS competitors will be in on them this week! They should at least be familiar with all of Houston's tricks ... they play them twice a season and held them to 20 points, while forcing a pair of turnovers, in their first get-together of '15.
If you save here, spend here - Carson Palmer ($7,000) @ PHI
Baltimore ($2,000) vs. KC - The Ravens are not a very good defense. But, the Chiefs are not a very threatening offense. Even when KC is racking up points, Alex Smith never seems to be a threat for 300 and 2, which means that you can easily consider any home defense that is set to welcome the Chiefs to town. Baltimore has been mediocre in pass defense, but actually, fairly stout on the rush side of the coin, allowing a meager 3.8 yards per rushing attempt. That's the 6th-best mark in the entire league. I foresee a low-scoring affair in Maryland this week, with both squads sitting under 20 points. This is the lowest-price defensive unit at DraftKings and with the opposition rolling back-up RBs, the aforementioned Smith, and an underwhelming passing attack ... I think you can argue for the money-saving move here.
If you save here, spend here - Larry Fitzgerald ($7,300) @ PHI
Top of the Chart - Seattle ($4,200) vs. CLE - 8.5
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.