We’re headed down the home stretch, with only four weeks left in the regular season. This week I’ll only be covering the Sunday day games, as FanDuel has left the night game off of their main slate because of their fantasy championships this weekend. All plays will be recommended for FanDuel and DraftKings unless I mention one as site specific. When referencing fantasy points, I’ll use DraftKings scoring.
Week 14 is an interesting one. There are a lot of tough matchups out there for the top quarterbacks, which may leave us looking at guys we don’t typically consider. Quarterback to me is the most difficult. We’re missing guys like Brady, Roethlisberger, Ryan and Brees on the main slate, so we’re going to have to be creative to find our QB. Let’s go ahead and jump straight into this week’s plays.
Blaine Gabbert – Arizona Cardinals
This is the first time all year I cringe a little at the first play in my writeup. Bare with me though. I mentioned above, QB isn’t great this week, so my strategy is going to be to save at the position. Gabbert is the 23rd highest priced QB on FanDuel and tied for the 26th most expensive on DraftKings at just $4,800. That’s egregious. There are non-starters ahead of him on the price list. Gabbert has actually been serviceable as a starter. In his first game, he put up 21.58 DK points against Houston in a great matchup. The last two weeks, he’s faced the Jaguars and the Rams, who are allowing the fewest and fourth fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks, respectively. In those tough matchups, he scored 19.34 fantasy points against the Jags and 12.04 against the Rams.
This week, he faces the Tennessee Titans, who allow the 12th most fantasy points to QB’s. We know Bruce Arians loves to game plan through the air, and I think that’s what we’ll see here. Gabbert should throw the ball 35-40 times and I think 250+ yards and two touchdowns is very reasonable. Gabbert also has a little rushing upside that could help tack on a few extra points. For his price, I think he’s the play at the position for me.
Jimmy Garoppolo – San Francisco 49ers
Garoppolo faired pretty decent in his first start with his new team, throwing for nearly 300 yards and a touchdown. That was against the Chicago Bears, who play grind it out, slow football and aren’t a terrible defense. This week, he gets the matchup of all matchups, against the Houston Texans. The Texans have allowed huge numbers to quarterbacks all season long and I don’t think we see that stop here. Garappolo is a good bet to cross the three hundred yard threshold and I wouldn’t be surprised to see 2-3 touchdowns on top. Hopefully you’re starting to see why I’m interested in paying down at the position.
Right now, that is my quarterback pool for the week. I just strongly feel like they’ll both be right there as a top 10 fantasy quarterback this week and you get a heavy discount on both. If I end up gaining interest on anyone else through the weekend, I’ll provide an update. I will say that if I had to pick from the higher priced guys, I do like Alex Smith and Derek Carr in their matchup. I just feel like Gabbert and Garoppolo can have similar games for much less.
Giovani Bernard – Cincinnati Bengals
To Gio or not to Gio, that is the Week 14 question. If Joe Mixon ends up being ruled out Sunday, which is likely, Bernard will be the bell cow back. At just $3,100 on DK and $5,100 on FD you almost cannot afford to fade him. After Mixon went down on Monday night, we saw the vintage big play Gio, as he rushed 13 times for 77 yards and caught two balls for 19 yards. So how does the matchup look? Well, the Bears have allowed 100+ yards rushing in four of their past five games. The only team that didn’t rush for 100 yards against them was the Lions, who haven’t had a 100 yard rusher in 40 something games. I wouldn’t fault you for deciding to fade him in tournaments, but man, you can really put together a solid lineup with him in there.
LeSean McCoy – Buffalo Bills
There should be a lot of volume for McCoy this week. With Nathan Peterman likely starting for the first time since his five interception debacle, the Bills would be wise to lean on McCoy in this one. Against the Colts, they should be able to find success in the running game. McCoy’s price is really high, but on this slate, I think you can afford him and he’s got as much upside as anyone. There is a little concern for me, because the Colts aren’t completely horrible against the run. They’ve allowed over 100 yards per game on the season, but they’re only allowing 3.9 yards per carry. As long as McCoy gets the carries, he should have a great game. Hopefully we see 18+ carries with four or five targets.
Carlos Hyde – San Francisco 49ers
Hyde quietly continues to produce, and we didn’t see too much of a dip with Garoppolo under center last week. He struggled to run the ball, but he did get 17 carries, which ties his second most of the season. He also saw 5 targets in the passing game. Last week’s opponent, the Bears, are a fairly solid rush defense, and in my opinion, they’re better than the Texans. People tend to think of the Texans are a good rush defense, but I think there is some noise in the numbers. First off, they allowed no more than 63 rushing yards in a game in Weeks 2 through 4. That really skews the rest of the season numbers. Last week, Demarco Murray and Derrick Henry had no problem moving the ball on the ground, combining for 175 yards rushing. The week before that, the Baltimore rushing attack ran for 97 yards and two touchdowns. If we keep going back, they’ve had two good games against the run the past six weeks. Those were against the Seahawks who are horrible at running the ball (with running backs), and the Cardinals, who average the fewest yards on the ground of any team in the league. Hyde has a great chance to put up a solid game Sunday.
Peyton Barber – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
I’m not going to spend too much time here. I was hoping that Doug Martin would be ruled out again, but it appears he is on track to play. If Martin ends up being out or we get word that Barber will get the bulk of the carries, he’s a great play. Take it from the Lions fan, you want to play running backs against this team right now. They’ve allowed 131.5 rushing yards and 1.5 rushing touchdowns per game over the last four weeks. That is the third worst over that span.
Jamal Williams – Green Bay Packers
Williams has been exceptional as the lead back in Green Bay. In his last two games, he’s rushed for 179 yards and two touchdowns and caught eight balls for 79 yards and a touchdown. I think Aaron Jones will cut into his workload a bit here and that’s what worries me. If we get word that Williams will be the bell cow back again this week, then fire him up. The Browns defense has slowly started loosening up against opposing running games, so don’t worry about their early season successes.
DeAndre Hopkins – Houston Texans
Hopkins is the play again this week. I will be locking him in to any lineup I build. He’s going to continue to see a massive amount of targets, after seeing 63 over his past five games. I think people might skip over him this week after he had an average game by his own standards last week. His matchup this week is exceptional. According to Pro Football Focus, his primary defender, Dontae Johnson, is ranked 104 out of 115 eligible cornerbacks. There’s no need to over analyze this or give you a smorgasbord of stats. We’ve saved money at other positions, so pay up to get Hopkins.
Larry Fitzgerald – Arizona Cardinals
I’ll be stacking Fitz with Gabbert this weekend. He should continue to get double-digit targets and if I think Gabbert has a big game this week, it is highly likely that Fitzgerald is a big part of that. The Titans hemorrhage fantasy points to opposing receivers, allowing 30+ fantasy points to opposing receivers in eight of their 12 games this season. In the four games they didn’t, the quarterbacks they faced were: Brissett (twice), Kizer, and Cutler. Of those other eight games, they actually allowed 38 or more fantasy points in seven of them. They’ve allowed especially big performances to opposing slot receivers. This is just a great spot for Fitzgerald to be the focal point of this offense.
Josh Gordon – Cleveland Browns
Let’s go ahead and get this one out of the way by starting with the pros on Gordon. He returned last week after a three-year absence and he looked like he never missed a beat. He played over 70% of snaps and he saw 11 targets. He turned those targets into four catches for 85 yards. That was in one of the toughest matchups for opposing passing games, the San Diego Chargers. Casey Hayward, who is PFF’s number one rated cornerback on the season, said after the game that Gordon was the toughest receiver he’s faced all year. That says something. Gordon is still underpriced and should get plenty of looks. With his play-making ability, he has as high of a ceiling as anyone.
Now let’s go over the cons. He will be very chalky this week. As scary as it is to fade him, I may do just that. There is supposed to be 20+ mph winds in this game. There is a scenario where the already inaccurate DeShone Kizer can’t complete a pass in these conditions. Couple that with the fact that both of these teams lean run heavy and that increases the chances that Gordon actually sees a target regression this week. The matchup is there, but the conditions and the pace of the game could cause him to take a step back in this game with a line along the lines of 3-48-0 on eight targets.
Sterling Shepard – New York Giants
With Eli back under center, I think Shepard is in an excellent position to smash against the Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys have given up a ton of production to opposing slot wide receivers on the season. When healthy and with Eli as his QB in Weeks 9 and 10, Shepard saw 22 targets, catching 16 balls for 212 yards. Shepard should see 10+ targets in this game and I don’t see any reason that he couldn’t top 100 yards and find the end zone. I think he’ll be overlooked this week, and that’s a mistake. He will be my pivot off of Gordon if I decide to fade.
Marvin Jones Jr. – Detroit Lions
This one is simple. If Stafford is fully healthy in this one, play Jones Jr. He has been excellent this season and now gets the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who really have no chance to stop him. I am worried about Stafford though. While he should play, his accuracy concerns me. He played through injury last year and wasn’t the same quarterback as when he is healthy. We need definitive news here that Stafford is fully healed and has no issues with throwing, gripping, releasing, or any other thing he may need to accurately throw the football.
Marquise Goodwin – San Francisco 49ers
Here is your stacking partner with Garoppolo. A lot of very sharp people are talking about Goodwin this week and for good reason. In his first game with Garoppolo under center, he saw eight targets and caught all eight balls for 99 yards. Against the Texans who get beat deep on the regular, Goodwin has a monster ceiling. It wouldn’t be surprising if he beats this secondary deep twice for something like 130 yards and two touchdowns. And I’m meaning he does that on just two home run catches. That doesn’t count the other four to six balls he could catch. He has the upside to be the highest scoring wide receiver on the slate.
Tyreek Hill – Kansas City Chiefs
The last receiver I have some interest in is Hill. His play-making ability is just too much for these Raiders defenders. That was evident in Week 7 when Hill went 6-125-1 against them. The Chiefs have made it a point to put the ball in Hill’s hands more over the past three weeks, as he’s seen 27 targets over that span. He saw a bit of a price jump after his explosion for 6-185-2 last week, but that’s not enough to scare me off, because the matchup is even better this week.
Travis Kelce – Kansas City Chiefs
Kelce is the guy I’m most likely locking in this week. I’m tired of hanging my hat on the cheaper more volatile guys. Jared Cook has burned me in two great spots the past two weeks, so perhaps I just have a bad taste in my mouth. Whatever the reason, I’ve got the money this week, so I want to spend it for the volume and upside that Kelce brings to the table. The Raiders have been a door step for opposing tight ends for quite some time now and that has continued this season. They have allowed the third most fantasy points to opposing tight ends over the past four weeks and seventh most on the year. You get what you pay for here and that’s the best tight end on the slate in a really good spot.
Hunter Henry – San Diego Chargers
If I did want to save money from Kelce, Henry is an option. He’s finally seeing consistent targets and it’s paying off. I wrote him up last week and mentioned that in games against defenses that are bad against tight ends, he excels. Well, last week that rang true against the Browns, where he caught seven balls for 81 yards. This week he get’s another excellent matchup against the Washington Redskins. The Redskins give up the fifth most fantasy points to opposing tight ends. Kendall Fuller is projected to cover Keenan Allen and he is PFF’s ninth ranked cornerback on the season. That should help funnel more looks to Henry.
Stephen Anderson – Houston Texans
This is your free square play of the week. It doesn’t come without a little risk, but if you didn’t catch what Anderson did last week, you might want to take notice. With C.J. Fiedorwicz going down, Anderson stepped in and saw 12 targets, turning them into five catches for 79 yards and a touchdown. He’s minimum priced on FanDuel and only $3,200. With Fiedorwicz out this week and Bruce Ellington making his way to the IR, he could have another healthy amount of targets. The only thing that dampens my expectations a little is that Will Fuller is looking likely to play. He might siphon a few targets, but Fuller hasn’t shown much rapport with Tom Savage. On Fanduel, you have to make the decision to go up to the top in Kelce or dig from the bottom of the barrel with Anderson. On DK you can pair them together with one in the flex.
Ricky Seals-Jones – Arizona Cardinals
This is a cheap play in big tournaments. Seals-Jones isn’t playing a ton of snaps, but when he is on the field, he’s running routes, and being targeted a large percentage of those routes. To put it in simple terms; when he’s on the field, he’s in there as the first read. He’s not a bad extra stacking option with Gabbert and Fitzgerald.
Defense is really tough this week and I think that nailing the right defense is going to be important for a big cash, because lineup construction is going to be somewhat chalky across the industry. I want to pay up this week, but there are some tough matchups at the top. On top of that, DraftKings did a good job of pricing up the teams that are in good matchups that we may have tried to look at for value.
San Diego Chargers
The Chargers are my favorite defense of Week 14. They have averaged right at 16 fantasy points over the last six weeks. They only averaged 5.5 fantasy points over their first six games. They’ve also been nearly three points better at home on the season. They’ve averaged over 20 FP’s over their last three home games. Their opponent, the Washington Redskins, are down to one starting lineman from the beginning of the year. That’s not a recipe for success against a defense as good as the Chargers have been. The Redskins are coming off of a game in Dallas where they got stomped by a team that hadn’t been able to score or stop anyone for weeks. All signs point to the Chargers being the best overall defensive play on the slate.
The Bengals are my next favorite defense after the Chargers. They are the perfect mix of discounted price, decent matchup, and a little upside. In case you weren’t aware, the Bears are coached by John Fox. He’s just not a good coach, so that’s also working in our favor. This game is in Cincinnati, so that’s one more feather in our cap as Mitchell Trubisky won’t have the friendly confines of Soldier Field behind him. It’s not that I think the Bengals are a lock, but with what we have to choose from, their one of my top point per dollar options.
The Jags are the easy play every week. The problem is they’re facing Russell Wilson and the Seahawks. They could still have a big game here, it’s just not as much of a smash spot as we’re used to with them. The reason it’s still somewhat enticing is because the Seahawks are still not very good outside of Wilson. That’s why he’s likely the MVP. You take him off that team and their one of the worst offenses in the league in my opinion. Anyways, the Jags should be able to get plenty of pressure on Wilson; it just remains to be seen whether they can bring him down or not. They have scored double digit fantasy points in all but two weeks and they’re the fourth highest priced defense on Draftkings and second on FanDuel.
If you’re playing FanDuel, do yourself a favor and play Zuerlein. The guy is having one of the best seasons all time for a kicker. There’s a lot of volatility at the position, but paying for the player with the highest floor and upside is the smart play. On the season, he has seven games with 17 or more points and he’s eclipsed that mark in five of his last six. Lock him in before you do anything else, so you won’t be tempted to try and save money at the position.
That’s it for this week. Because of new information and a better gauge of ownership, I may add updates here through the weekend, so be sure to follow me on Twitter at @mrclutchdfs so you don’t miss any additional recommendations.
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