It seems like I say this every year, but where did the NFL season go. It just started; yet it’s Week 13. We only have a few more regular seasons slates left, so we have to make the best of them. Let’s not waste any time and get straight to the plays.
Kirk Cousins – Cousins is the only quarterback that I’m listing this week. You’ll see people recommend Cam Newton and Jameis Winston this week, and I like them as well. But Cousins is underpriced, and I love these spots for him. Fresh off of a 342 yard, three touchdown slaying of the Packers, Cousins has another great matchup against the Patriots. This Vikings defense isn’t what it was last year when Case Keenum was finding ways to help the team win, instead of going out and having to put up big games to lead them to victory. In eleven games, the Patriots opponent has thrown 34 or more pass attempts nine times. Of those nine games, they’ve thrown the ball 41 more times in six games. Twice did they top 50 attempts. My bet would be for Cousins to top 40 attempts, which gives him a very solid chance at 300+ yards and multiple touchdowns.
Christian McCaffrey – CMC versus the Bucs defense. Sign me up! There’s not much to break down here. McCaffrey is playing nearly every snap and down the stretch of the season, it seems the Panthers are aren’t afraid to use him as much as possible. He’s topped 19 touches in his last four games, and topped out last week at 28. He torched this same defense for over 150 total yards and two touchdowns in their last matchup, and I expect similar numbers here. He is the top guy I’m paying up for at running back.
Kareem Hunt – Hunt sets up nicely this week against the Raiders. I hear more people around the industry talking up the Chiefs passing game, and for good reason, but Hunt is the piece I like the most. The Raiders have given up 114 or more rushing yards in six straight games and nine of their 11 games on the year. They will have heck trying to slow down Hunt in this offense where they have to devote so much attention to the passing game. My early week roster builds look really juicy with CMC and Hunt anchoring the RB spots.
***UPDATE*** What a difference a day makes. Hunt went from one of my favorite plays on the slate to no longer on a NFL team. We won’t dive too much into it, but I’ll just say Tyreek Hill punched his pregnant girlfriend in the stomach in college and Joe Mixon knocked a woman completely unconscious, also in college. They are both featured players on their teams, ironically Hill on the Chiefs. What Hunt did was wrong, no question, but I can’t wrap my head around the swift action to release him when you have another guy on your team who did something much worse. I digress. Spencer Ware is now near a must play at his price point on both sites. Sure, there’s a case for a fade in large field tourney’s, but I’m just going to lock him in and differentiate elsewhere. This opens up so much salary.
Aaron Jones – It’s definitely Aaron Jones week. Jones has taken over as the lead back in Green Bay. It’s not surprising that it took the Packers coaching staff longer than the fantasy community to figure out he’s their best player back there. Mike McCarthy’s time seems very limited. Anyways, Jones has a dream matchup against the Cardinals, who give up even more fantasy points to running backs than the Raiders. He should see 20+ carries here and he’s priced down below the stud backs, so you’re getting some savings.
Adam Thielen – This is one of the perfect stack spots with Cousins. I also really liked Stefon Diggs to start the week and planned on going with the full Cousins/Thielen/Diggs stack. I’ve discussed this once or twice throughout the season, but these three account for so much of the volume for the Vikings. I’ve stepped back a little on Diggs, because he hasn’t practiced yet this week and that worries me. He has a history of being injured, and I’m not going to put my money on a banged up Diggs. Back to Thielen though. If Diggs does sit out, we should see a couple extra targets filtered Thielen’s direction. Thielen has proven to be a top fantasy wide receiver this season and in a game where I expect to see the Vikings between 40 and 50 pass attempts, he should have plenty of opportunity to produce one of his massive yardage totals to go along with a score.
Tyreek Hill – You probably won’t find a higher ceiling on the slate than with Hill. I don’t think he’ll have to have a big game here, which worries me a bit, but he could top 100 yards and two scores in the first quarter. Oakland doesn’t have anyone to stay with him. He’s up there with Thielen as my top overall receiver, regardless of price.
***UPDATE*** With Desean Jackson out, Chris Godwin is becoming my favorite cheap wide receiver play, over the last three guys below. In fact, I’ve crossed off Pettis and Gabriel altogether. Godwin is a physical freak and what I consider a really good wide receiver, who hasn’t been given enough opportunity. In two games last year that Jackson missed (OJ Howard was out too), Godwin caught 10 balls on 18 targets for over 200 yards and a touchdown. I also don’t mind Adam Humphries, but I think you’re going to get more upside out of Godwin.
I’m really high on all three of Robert Woods, Brandin Cooks, and Kenny Golladay. I expect the Rams to throw the ball a lot in this one, as the Lions are improving against the run with Damon Harrison. Woods should run a lot of routes from the slot and it won’t surprise me to see him end up with 100+ yards and two touchdowns. On the other side, Golladay is a volume play, as the Lions will be throwing a lot and he’s the #1 guy.
Bruce Ellington – Ellington is far from a sexy play. He’s been with the Lions just two games now, but has caught 12 balls on 17 targets. With Golden Tate gone and Marvin Jones on IR, Ellington makes a decent volume-based salary saver play. With Kerryon Johnson out this week, we’re looking at a game where the Lions are going to have to pass the ball a lot. Running the ball with LeGarrette Blount is not going to give them a chance to keep up against the Rams. Again, I don’t love the play. But he could realistically see 10 targets, and you won’t find another guy this cheap with that kind of target share.
Dante Pettis – I’m trying to give you some cheap options this week, as the goal is to spend up at RB. Pettis stepped up last week with Marquise Goodwin and Pierre Garcon out, catching four of seven targets for 77 yards and a touchdown. I would be interested in playing him this week, but only if Goodwin and Garcon are both out again. Taylor Gabriel – Gabriel showed good chemistry with Chase Daniels last week, and we’re trending for another Daniels start. He’s really cheap and has big play making ability. When we start scraping the barrel for cheap receivers, we look for guys with solid upside, and Gabriel fits that bill.
Eric Ebron – Ebron is really a lock button play this week. You can play someone else, but do so at your own risk. He is TE3 on the season behind Ertz and Kelce. That is crazy, seeing as he’s split reps with Jack Doyle for a good portion of the season. Doyle hit the IR this week, which locks Ebron in as THE tight end for the Colts. With that role comes massive red zone opportunity. Despite being TE3 on the year and Doyle out for the rest of the way, Ebron is priced as TE6 on Draftkings and tied for TE9 on FanDuel with Chris Herndon?! Your guess is as good as mine.
Matt LaCosse – LaCosse has been involved in the Denver passing game all year long, but his volume has been low. With Demaryius Thomas out of town, we expected to Courtland Sutton step up and fill the void. That hasn’t happened yet. The Broncos have used their tight ends, mainly Jeff Heuerman. Heuerman had seen 16 targets in the two games before last week, but left last week’s matchup with the Steelers with a rib injury. He is now on the IR, and LaCosse was already trending up before that. He now steps into that volume in a great matchup against the Bengals. It’s scary to fade Ebron, but if you need the salary savings, LaCosse is there for you.
I haven’t settled on a defense yet. It will be the last thing I plug-in. I’m leaning towards the Cleveland Browns at the moment. They are really cheap on both sites, they get a lot of takeaways, and Houston allows plenty of QB pressure and sacks.
The Denver Broncos are another team I’m considering, along with the Kansas City Chiefs.
That’s it for this week. If you have any input about what you like or don’t like about the format, feel free to let me know on twitter @mrclutchdfs. Best of luck this weekend!
Visit Fantasy Rundown for additional DFS picks from some of the top sites on the web.