We’ve got just three weeks left until the playoffs, and this week we have a reduced main slate on Sunday because NFL on Saturday will officially kick off this week. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been giving you a rather large player pool of options. That set up kind of shifted once I began writing up plays for both DraftKings and FanDuel a few weeks back. I’m going to try and narrow that down this week, as my thought process all season long has been to give you THE main plays you should target.
I’ve got some strong gut feelings about this weekend, and I’m really going to lean on them. Sometimes you can dive too deep into the analytical aspects of a slate that you venture away from using what you actually see on the field. I’ve caught myself a handful of times this year on a player on Sunday morning that I hadn’t been on all week, mainly because some shiny stat popped up that was too good to overlook. Not that the analytical side is bad; it should just be used in context. Therefore, I’m going to stick to my gut plays this week and try to use the analytics to confirm what I’m seeing on the field of play.
With that said, let’s dive into the plays. Once again, the list might be shorter this week, but these are the plays I’m very high on and will be the core of any lineup I build.
Russell Wilson – Seattle Seahawks
If you don’t play Wilson, good luck. The run he is on is absolutely incredible. He threw three interceptions last week against the stalwart Jacksonville Jaguars defense. Fantasy owners could care less though, because he also had 24.84 DraftKings points.
This week he faces a divisional opponent, the Los Angeles Rams. The Rams actually held Wilson to his second worst fantasy performance of the season earlier this year. It still doesn’t matter at this point, as Wilson has hit his late season form, and I don’t know if it’s possible for him to have a bad game. After all, he’s played seven games since the last matchup with the Rams and has had 19 or more DK points in all of those, with six of those games at 24 or more.
I may very well just lock Wilson in any lineup I make this week.
Cam Newton – Carolina Panthers
Newton is the other QB I’m considering. We know that he has the upside to win a tournament for DFS players. Newton has averaged nearly 62 yards rushing over his last eight games with three rushing touchdowns. You get all of that rushing goodness on top of a cupcake passing matchup against the Packers.
With Aaron Rodgers back, this game could turn into a shootout. The Packers have allowed nine passing touchdowns over the past three weeks, and this could be a game where you look up when it’s all said and done and see Newton has four total touchdowns to go with 275 passing yards and 75 rushing yards.
Before I even dive into the running back plays I like, just know that LeVeon Bell is a great play. Did you see what Kenyan Drake did to this Patriots defense on Monday night? Yeah, he’s a great play if you can fit him in, I shouldn’t have to tell you that.
Kenyan Drake – Miami Dolphins
Speaking of Drake, he has looked like a really good real life and fantasy running back over the last couple weeks, especially without sharing the backfield with Damien Williams. He has touched the ball 56 times over the past two weeks. You can’t find that type of volume at his price on both sites. He’s turned those touches in to 334 total yards (both games he topped 100 yards rushing). This week, he get’s the nuts matchup against the Bills. We’ve targeted the Bills here time and time again lately. They are dead last in fantasy points allowed to running backs. There’s not much else to say here. He’s one of the plays I mentioned above, where the eye test meets the analytics.
Alex Collins – Baltimore Ravens
Collins falls into that same category as Drake, as he’s passed the eye test with flying colors lately. He has five touchdowns over his last four games and has seen at least 15 carries and two receptions in every one of those games. While the Browns were stout against the run to start the season, the wheels have finally started to fall off, as they’re just bad in general. The Ravens want to run the ball and Collins will have plenty of chances to break off the big plays and find the end zone. The savings available on Collins is another feather in his cap, as he’s priced well below where he should be. This is one of the few weeks this season where I feel good paying down for two running backs and know that we’re getting two guys with realistic upside.
Leonard Fournette – Jacksonville Jaguars
Fournette saw a monster workload last week while seeing his snaps jump back up, which was a welcome site. He’s priced a bit below the other stud running backs on the main slate, but gives you similar upside. The only hesitation here is that he’s popped up on the injury report late in the week with a quad issue. I’m hoping that it’s just a small issue. If we get the feeling that he’s 100% going into the game Sunday, I will strongly consider having him in my lineup. His team is a huge favorite and he should approach 25 carries.
Much like with running back, if you can afford Antonio Brown, by all means lock him in. The run he is on is incredible. It’s almost worth punting one wide receiver spot completely, because a lot of weeks he puts up numbers worth of two mid-priced receivers. With that said, that’s an obvious play, so I’m not spending my time on him here.
Devin Funchess – Carolina Panthers
Funchess has been exceptional since Kelvin Benjamin was shipped out of town. He’s seeing a high volume of targets when the Panthers are facing the blitz and the Packers are one of the most blitz heavy defenses in the league. I don’t see any reason to believe that the Packers, who have allowed the fourth most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers this season, will suddenly be able to slow Funchess down.
Marquise Goodwin – San Francisco 49ers
Jimmy Garoppolo has shown a lot of love for Goodwin over the last two weeks as the starter. When Goodwin gets the targets, he is the kind of player that could break the slate. He’s a deep play threat, and it realistically only takes two catches for him to get 100+ yards and a couple touchdowns. He’s that much of a big play receiver. While that estimation may be a little high, I still think he’ll continue to see around 10 targets and should be able to approach 100 yards and hopefully at least one score with those opportunities.
Dede Westbrook – Jacksonville Jaguars
Westbrook has seen 27 targets over the last three weeks and has caught at least five in all three. This past weekend he had his biggest yardage total at 81 and found the end zone for the first time in his career as well. The Texans have been the doorstep of the league to opposing passing games and Westbrook could realistically build off his performance from Week 14. At his price, he’s one of those gut plays for me. He should see similar volume to some of the higher priced receivers, but gives you some much-needed savings.
Jamison Crowder – Washington Redskins
Crowder has been quiet the past couple weeks, so I don’t think he’ll garner much interest. This is a get right matchup for him though. Slot wide receivers versus the Cardinals have fared well this season. Here’s some of the performances against them: Cooper Kupp (5-68-0), Doug Baldwin (5-95-0), Adam Humphries (6-51-0), Nelson Agholor (4-93-1), Golden Tate (10-107-0). Crowder should see plenty of volume in this game, especially with third down running back Byron Marshall now on the IR. That could lead to a few more dump off targets for Crowder close to the line. One last thing working in his favor is that he’s scored nearly twice as many DK points at home than on the road (14.5 to 7.6).
Zach Ertz – Philadelphia Eagles
Ertz is returning this week after clearing the concussion protocol. He’s just in time for the matchup that would make any tight end salivate. I’m hoping people will shy away from Ertz this week since Carson Wentz is out for the season. However, don’t let this shy you away, because Ertz has plenty of chemistry with Nick Foles. They have played a complete season together in Foles’ first stop in Philly and Ertz had some monster games that year. Tight ends are usually the path of least resistance for quarterbacks to chip away at a defense, and there’s no better matchup for a top three tight end in the league than the Giants.
Charles Clay – Buffalo Bills
This is more of a DraftKings play than FanDuel. I plan on locking in Ertz as my guy this weekend, but Clay is a guy you could consider on DK in the tight end or even flex spot. He’s super cheap at $3,100 and there’s a lot of stuff you can do at other roster spots with him in there. With Tyrod Taylor looking likely to play, Clay see’s his floor and ceiling go up, as Taylor really relies on him in the passing game. This receiving corps has been decimated by injury, and it appears that Kelvin Benjamin is very questionable, possibly funneling even more targets Clay’s way.
The Jags just faced their toughest test and handled themselves respectably against Russell Wilson, picking him off three times. I think they’ll be just fine against T.J. Yates. Seriously, defense is fairly easy this week. They’ll get pressure on Yates, which will create sacks and turnover opportunities.
New Orleans Saints
The Jags are going to cost you this week, especially on FanDuel. I think you can also consider the Saints at home, against a Jets team with Bryce Petty at the helm. They should control every aspect of this game and they provide quite a discount from the Jags.
Greg Zuerlein – Los Angeles Rams
I’ll repeat what I said last week: If you’re playing FanDuel, Zuerlein is the play. He’s having a record-breaking year and no one ever plays him because he’s so expensive.
Justin Tucker – Baltimore Ravens
If you need save a couple hundred dollars (in my early builds I do and he fits perfect), Tucker has been on a tear recently. After producing only 19 points through his first four games of the season, Tucker hasn’t scored less than nine over his last 10 games, with double-digits in eight of those. Cleveland has allowed the third best +/- to kickers on the year.
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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