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For the uninitiated, playing daily games on DraftKings can be an enjoyable experience, but equally sobering is the fact that season-long knowledge does not always translate to success in the daily space. FootballGuys will bring you a series of value- and strategic-based selections from a number of seasoned daily veterans throughout the NFL season. Herein is another edition of “Tipandpick’s Tips and Picks,” where we will examine the salaries of players at each position on DraftKings and make value-based recommendations for both your cash games and tournaments.
Below you will find a list of recommended players for both formats. GPP players generally have high-upside, but are too risky for cash games; cash game players are consistent with high fantasy floors. In some instances, the value for a player is so strong, he may fall into both categories…let’s have a look.
In order to help you build winning rosters, let's walk through some of the observations that I have made while doing my research for DraftKings this week. As you build out your lineups on DraftKings, try to consider the following commentary, which revolves around game strategy and how we will want to take advantage of what the masses are doing when they construct their own lineups.
CASH GAME TIPS
WELCOME TO DFFC PRICING: In case you did not know, DraftKings is hosting their "World Fantasy Football Championship" (WFFC) this weekend in New York City, where 180 qualifying entrants will compete for their share of a $10 million prize pool with the winner receiving $2 million. In keeping with tradition to avoid massive overlap within their marquee tournament, DraftKings has tightened up their salaries this weekend, which means that building cash game rosters just became that much more difficult. There will be no chalk quarterback in cash games this weekend because of how well DraftKings priced them; of course, there is always an edge to be had and I think that I have identified some players in good situations who can reach value on their respective salaries (those players are identified in the "Picks" section below). At running back, David Johnson and LeVeon Bell continue to take massive shares of their respective teams' offenses, but they are going to cost you nearly 40% of your overall salary cap space if you want to roster both of them, which is possible with the appropriate strategy (see "Stars & Scrubs" below). Wide receiver is where things get dicier because there is very little value at the position, which means that you are going to have to plant your stake on a few players and hope that your read on their situations was accurate. Ditto for the tight end position. From a high-level overview of the week, it might be advisable to back away a bit from cash games and focus a bit more on tournament play than usual; if you are not comfortable with focusing a bit more on tournament play, my advice is to run at least two, possibly three, cash game lineups to diversify your player exposure and avoid excessive risk associated with the tighter Week #14 pricing.
STARS & SCRUBS: For cash games this week, I think that I am taking a 'stars and scrubs' approach to roster construction, whereby I am locking David Johnson and/or LeVeon Bell into my lineups alongside value players at other positions. The thought process here is that Johnson and Bell should finish with 45 to 60 points between them; if I can muster ~ 100 points from the remaining players on my lineup, I should be in good shape to hit the 150-point mark needed to cash in most weeks on DraftKings. After slotting in Johnson/Bell, you are going to be left with only ~ $30K to spend amongst the seven remaining players (~ $4.5K per position); at the lower end of the scale, you can save salary with Robby Anderson ($3.0K), a cheap tight end (Jason Witten at $3.1K or Jermaine Gresham at $2.5K), and a team defense. In saving a few dollars with those cheap, but seemingly reliable players, you then should be able to round out your rosters with $5K+ players who you perceive to be in plus situations. Of those $5K+ options, my recommendation is to not take any chances at quarterback, where variance occurs least often; if you have a strong take on the position, even if you are paying a premium, pull the trigger on that quarterback because the likelihood of a single-digit performance from your quarterback is far less than at any other position. When employing a 'stars and scrubs' strategy, your 'stars' must perform well or the entire roster could be sunk...which is why building around a foundation of David Johnson, LeVeon Bell, and a good QB feels like the safest strategy entering Sunday's slate.
TIGHT PRICING? ADVANTAGE: FOOTBALLGUYS: At first glance, it might not seem like a lot of fun composing lineups on DraftKings when the salary algorithm has tightened so dramatically from last week to this week; however, this is the type of week where a sharp player can really separate themselves from the masses because groupthink is at a minimum. When players are mispriced and ownership levels on those players surpass 30%, you are forced to make a decision about fading that popular play that seems entirely reasonable (if not attractive) or rolling with the masses at ownership levels approaching the point of ridiculousness. We should have none of those issues this week with the WFFC pricing in place, which means that you can use your Footballguy prowess to identify key players in good spots while getting them at reasonable ownership levels. Knowing that the pricing is tighter than normal, keep the following GPP lineup-building tips in mind: 1) Never roster a player in tournaments who is incapable of scoring two touchdowns, 2) Related to Point #1, seek players capable of reaching 4x value on their salaries unless their salary is $4K or lower; in those instances, you want 5x return on your investment, 3) Always stack your favorite quarterback with your favorite receiver from that same team to 'double-dip' on touchdowns to that receiver, 4) Roster defenses against quarterbacks who are known to turn the ball over--holding a team to 10 points scored, but not collecting points for sacks, turnovers, or defensive scores will rarely provide enough upside to win a tournament, and 5) If you feel entirely comfortable clicking 'submit' on that tournament roster, it probably is not a good tournament roster (because the only time you should feel 'safe' about a roster is in cash games, which rarely have enough upside to win tournaments).
MASS MULTI-ENTERING TOURNAMENTS: Mass multi-entering (MME) tournaments is generally a taboo subject amongst the casual player. Many believe that MME confers an unfair advantage to those who partake in it because those individuals are able to cover more combinations of players than somebody who is submitting a single roster. While that aspect of MME cannot be denied, there is very little mathematical basis for the premise that MME is more profitable than single-entry tournament play. That said, I do not want to get into those granular mathematical details because it would require another 5,000 words to work through them adequately; instead, I wanted to discuss how you might try MME for yourself, so that you can feel the excitement of watching 150 rosters slide up and down the leaderboard on your DraftKings app. Doing so will require several steps: First, determine your player pool for the entire week (i.e., any player who you think fits the parameters I describe in the paragraph above...I have 105 players in my pool this week). Next, assign an ownership percentage for each of those players that you would like to end up with; the caveat here is that you want the sum of all players within a given position to add up to a certain number. For quarterbacks and defenses, that number is 100%...for running backs, it is between 200-300%...for wide receivers, it is between 300-400%...for tight ends, I try to limit it to 125-150%, depending on the week. After you have assigned desired percentage owned to each player, you will likely need to use a lineup generator, which takes into account your projections and desired ownership before spitting out the massive number of rosters you request, all of which are supposed to be based on those numbers. Gaining access to a lineup generator will cost you a few dollars and there are a number available, including FantasyCruncher and RotoGrinders. After you generate your rosters based on your parameters, the lineup generator will dump them into a CSV file that can be uploaded on DraftKings' lineups page. From there, navigate to the landing page and enter whatever GPP you so desire. If it is your first time MME'ing, I recommend starting with the Quarter Arcade, which costs a quarter per entry, so you can try your luck for only $42.50 and have $1K upside. Take your time with this approach, as it is a learned skill, but a worthwhile skill to hone if you find that you are having success in GPP's on DraftKings (or other sites).
Let's take a deeper look into some of the players who I will be targeting for my cash game and tournament rosters this weekend. There is little difference in terms of strength of selection between those players who have text to justify their appearance in this article versus those in the "also eligible" section; all are strong plays in their respective categories, but time and space restrictions do not allow for expansive written summaries of every player listed.
CASH GAME PICKS
Russell Wilson (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $6,600). Appearing to be 100% healthy for only the past month, Russell Wilson has generated back-to-back stinker fantasy games resulting in a hair over 28 DraftKings points. In the first game, Wilson had a solid matchup in Tampa Bay, but the Bucs generated a tremendous pass rush that afternoon that resulted in six sacks; in last week's matchup, Wilson led his offense to a 40-7 trouncing of the Panthers, which did not necessitate much passing in the second half. Prior to those games, however, Wilson lit up the scoreboard with three consecutive 25-fantasy point performances against defenses far better than the one he will be squaring off against this week. That opponent, the Packers, field the league's 22nd DVOA pass defense that has allowed an average of ~ 24.0 DraftKings points per game to opposing quarterbacks over their previous four contests. Over the course of his career, Wilson has been very successful against this Dom Capers' defense that struggles to contain mobile quarterbacks. In three games against the Packers, Wilson has averaged ~ 20 DraftKings points per contest; the defense he will face this Sunday is far less talented without shutdown cornerbacks Casey Heyward and Sam Shields locking down his primary receivers. If the Packers have a strength on defense, it is in defending the run (7th DVOA rush defense; 3.8 yards per carry allowed), which could also funnel the Seahawks offense to the passing game, further bolstering Wilson's fantasy prospects. To reach value, he needs to achieve his aforementioned ~ 20 point average against this team, a threshold that he should hit at least 75% of the time against this porous secondary.
Colin Kaepernick (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $5,800). Try to wipe last week's game in Chicago from your memory and consider Colin Kaepernick as a cash game quarterback this week against the Jets' dreadful pass defense. Against the Bears in snowy conditions last Sunday, Kaepernick dropped back ten times and was sacked on half of those snaps; in the other half, he completed a single pass before getting pulled from the game by Coach Chip Kelly for Blaine Gabbert, who finished the day with 4 completions on 10 passing attempts for only 35 yards. Some people will be reluctant to pull the trigger on Kaepernick after seeing him get pulled, but Gabbert's relief performance was arguably worse and we have already seen this offense flounder with him at the helm. For these reasons, Kaepernick's job does not appear to be in jeopardy and the likelihood of him getting pulled again for Gabbert is minimal. To reach cash game value on his modest $5.8K salary, Kaepernick needs only ~ 18 DraftKings points to justify his place on your rosters; prior to last week's debacle, Kaepernick scored 18 or more fantasy points in five out of six games (the lone exception being a 16.1-point performance against Tampa Bay in Week #7). The matchup against the Jets is pristine, as they will be forced to travel 3,000+ miles to the Bay area on a short week with a secondary that has yielded nearly 50 DraftKings points to Andrew Luck and Tom Brady over their previous two games.
Also eligible: Aaron Rodgers ($6,400)
David Johnson (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $9,800). With double-digit targets in three consecutive games and 100+ all-purpose yards in every game this season, David Johnson remains the foundation of cash game lineups entering Week #14. Some will be apprehensive about paying nearly 20% of the salary cap for a single player on a week where the cap is so restrictive, but Johnson has scored 25 or more DraftKings points in seven of the Cardinals' previous eight games--there is no more consistent player in all of fantasy football, which is why he makes a weekly appearance in this section. Matchups have been irrelevant for Johnson this season because he just assumes a role as a receiver when the yards are tough to come by on the ground; with 96 targets this season, Johnson is currently the 20th most targeted player in the NFL, leading the next closest running back (LeVeon Bell) by nearly 20 targets. There is no reason to suspect that his usage in the passing game will be on the decline moving forward because, outside of Larry Fitzgerald, the Cardinals' receiving corps has been underwhelming at best. With that in mind, his matchup against the Dolphins is attractive because Miami allows 4.7 yards per carry and 130.3 yards per game on the ground this season (30th in NFL) and will be without three starters on their defensive front including linebackers Jelani Jenkins and Kiko Alonso, as well as Mario Williams, who is known for his ability to stop opposing rushers. If you can slot him into your cash game rosters without the opportunity cost being too high (i.e. punting another position altogether), be sure to do it.
Jerick McKinnon (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $3,600). If you require some salary relief due to slotting David Johnson and Mike Evans into your cash game lineups, Jerick McKinnon might represent the savings you need to help round out your roster(s). McKinnon is the type of player nobody likes to roster because his usage in the redzone is very limited, with Matt Asiata playing the role of vulture too often. That said, McKinnon contributes in both phases of the Vikings' offense and has added value on a full-PPR site like DraftKings. His usage has quietly, but continually, trended upwards since the Vikings' Week #8 bye; in that time, McKinnon has seen his share of offensive snaps double from ~ 35% to almost 70% last Thursday against the Cowboys. And while it might be folly to expect a ~ 70% share of the Vikings' offensive snaps again this week, even 50% keeps him in play at his $3.6K salary against the Jaguars, whose 18th-ranked DVOA rush defense has taken a step back this season (22.2 DraftKings points per game allowed to running backs). Since becoming a starter in Week #3, McKinnon is averaging 19 touches per game in victories, but less than half that number (nine) in losses; as 3-point favorites over the Jags on Sunday, McKinnon could be in line for substantial usage at a bargain-basement price.
Also eligible: LeVeon Bell ($9,000), Jeremy Hill ($5,800)
Mike Evans (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $8,700). If David Johnson is Mr. Consistency at the running back position, Mike Evans has probably earned the title for the wide receiver position. Evans has double-digit targets in 75% (9 out of 12) of his games this season and has surpassed 100-yards and/or scored in 67% (8 out of 12) of those same games. His poorest performances came against some very solid defenders (Aqib Talib, Sean Smith, and Casey Hayward), but he will be facing a Saints' secondary bereft of talent in 2016. In past years, Delvin Breaux was a name to avoid in WR-CB matchups, but Breaux has been beaten in coverage repeatedly this season by receivers of far less ilk than Evans; just last week, Breaux allowed 100+ yards while in coverage against the Lions, not to mention a touchdown to Kenny Britt in Week #12. Of 123 qualifying cornerbacks on ProFootballFocus, Breaux enters this matchup as the league's 113th-ranked coverage cornerback, which should equate to yet another big day for Evans, who expects to be shadowed by Breaux. With Cecil Shorts (knee) on the IR and Adam Humphries (concussion) still not able to play due to a concussion, Evans could feasibly see even more action than he traditionally does within this offense. Add in the fact that the Buccaneers have the highest implied team total on the Vegas board (27 points), it would seem that Mike Evans should easily finish this game with a stat line of 8/100+/1, which would net him 27 DraftKings points on the low-end of the scale.
Taylor Gabriel (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $4,300). It is with some prejudice that Taylor Gabriel makes an appearance in the cash game section of this article because he does not fit the mold of anything valued within cash game circles--he is not consistent, he does not enjoy a ton of volume in his respective offense, and he is not a prototypical redzone receiver at 5'8". So why is he in this section? Because Matt Ryan may not have anybody else to move the sticks in Los Angeles on Sunday. Mohamed Sanu (groin) has already been announced as 'out' and Julio Jones barely practiced all week after watching a key 4th quarter drive from the sidelines last Sunday. It would not be surprising to see Julio Jones take the field against the Rams to absorb shadow coverage from their best defender, Trumaine Johnson, so as to allow their lesser receivers (including Gabriel) to find space against the Rams' other defensive backs; a Falcons' beat reporter basically implied that Jones would be used as a decoy on Sunday, adding some credence to that line of thinking. If Jones is truly hobbled (I believe that he is), but still takes the field, that should leave ProFootballFocus' 120th-ranked cornerback, E.J. Gaines, to try to cover Gabriel. Gaines has been beaten consistently this season and would line up across from Gabriel over 80% of the time; Gabriel's biggest detracting factor as a player is his height, which should be minimized against Gaines, who is only two-inches taller at 5'10". At only $4.3K, Gabriel needs a 6/60/0 stat line to reach value, which is something he has done in four of his previous five games, all of which included healthier versions of Julio Jones and/or Mohamed Sanu.
Cameron Brate (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $4,100). After Adam Humphries left last week's game with a concussion, Cameron Brate found himself as the number-two receiving option on the Buccaneers, finishing the day with nine targets from Jameis Winston. Brate's role in the Bucs' offense certainly continues to evolve; after starting the season behind Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Brate won the starting tight end job when ASJ was released due to a drunken driving episode (not to mention poor play). Initially, Brate was used primarily in the redzone, but has more recently enjoyed volume between the twenties and his resultant fantasy points per game have underscored that usage; over his previous six games, Brate has double-digit fantasy points in four of them, averaging ~ 12.0 DraftKings point per game during that span. Brate's salary is now sitting above $4K for the first time all season, but it is a deserved bump considering Brate's likely increased usage in a game that will not feature a legitimate WR2 for Tampa Bay; the lack of a WR2 should only bolster Brate's looks from Jameis Winston, who has readily thrown to his tight end since his days at Florida State with Nick O'Leary.
Jason Witten (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $3,100). If you caught this week's edition of the Footballguys' PowerGrid, you undoubtedly saw fellow Footballguy, Devin Knotts (ohiostate241 in DFS circles) with a shaved head due to a bet we made about Ladarius Green's fantasy prospects last weekend. I suspected Green was in line for a solid game because of increased usage and because the Giants tend to funnel passes to the middle of the field due to their excellent exterior coverage cornerbacks; indeed, Green finished the day with a 6/110/1 stat line that boosted many of my tournament lineups, but resulted in a much more "streamlined" version of Devin for this week's show! For these same reasons, I am recommending Jason Witten as a cash game play this weekend. Witten is a sure-handed, future Hall-of-Famer who will get open across the middle, collect receptions, and move the chains to help his offense. His upside is limited because of his complete lack of speed at the age of 34, but his $3.1K salary is the cheapest that we have seen it all year, necessitating only ~ 9 points to reach cash game value; if Witten were to find the endzone on a Dak Prescott pass, he would easily achieve 5x value (or more) on that modest salary. After several subpar performances, including a goose egg against the Vikings last week, it might be a difficult pill to swallow, but the opportunity cost to get Witten into your lineups is low and the matchup is excellent against a Giants' defense that has allowed double-digit fantasy points to every tight end they have faced over their previous seven contests (except Gary Barnidge in Week #12).
Also eligible: Jimmy Graham ($5,500)
Vikings (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $3,900). After starting the season with four double-digit fantasy performances in their first five games, the Minnesota Vikings have faltered in their subsequent seven games, logging double-digit fantasy points only once during that span. A deeper look into those contests shows that the Vikings' upside was capped by some of their competitors, including a conservative Lions' team led by Matthew Stafford (twice), a ground-heavy Cowboys' offense, and a low-scoring Monday Night affair against their divisional foe, the Chicago Bears. This week, however, should be different, as Minnesota will square off against the Jaguars' and their interception-prone quarterback, Blake Bortles. In his short career, Bortles has thrown an astounding 50 interceptions of which 11 have been returned for touchdowns, a breakneck rate that is catapulting him towards the top of a list that is chock-full of quarterbacks who have played careers spanning more than a decade. As short road favorites over the Jags, the Minnesota Vikings' 5th-ranked overall DVOA defense will be on full display against Jacksonville in a gamescript that could include more heavy volume for the mistake-prone Bortles. With 12 interceptions on the season (4th in NFL), the Vikings' secondary, headlined by veterans Terence Newman, Captain Munnerlyn, and Xavier Rhodes, could be in line for an uptick towards the league lead after this matchup; add in a lot of pressure from a defensive front that has the 3rd most sacks in the league (31) entering this contest and Bortles could feasibly throw yet another pick-six to help solidify your DFS lineups.
Bengals (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $3,500). The Bengals are not your prototypical cash game play, but exceptions can be made when they are playing a team who is currently on pace for exactly zero wins. The Cleveland Browns average 16.4 points per game (31st in NFL) entering this week's contest and have surpassed 20 points only three times this season; oddsmakers are predicting more of the same on Sunday, as the Browns have a projected team total of only 17.5 points, lowest on the Vegas board. Robert Griffin III III is the wild-card, however, as he will make his return from a Week #1 shoulder injury that saw him miss over three months of football. After missing the entire 2015 season, he opened the season as the Browns' quarterback in a 29-10 loss against the Eagles in Philadelphia; with only four quarters of live football in nearly two years, Griffin will likely need some time to build some chemistry with his offense. Not helping his case will be his offensive line, who have allowed a league-leading 45 sacks on the season. Lastly, the weather is not going help either offense in this game, as Winter Storm "Caly" is expected to dump several inches of snow on Cleveland, which could further hamper any notion of Griffin being able to help this punchless offense.
Carson Palmer (Salary: $5,700). The Miami Dolphins have quietly allowed the 6th most fantasy points to the quarterback position this season. Over the past month, they have allowed at least three passing touchdowns to every quarterback they have faced who was not named Jared Goff. Enter Carson Palmer, who consistently logs solid box scores despite using only two primary receivers, one of whom is a running back. Palmer has five 300+ yard games and is a top-10 NFL quarterback in total yardage this season; his fantasy production has been consistent, although his upside has been capped by David Johnson's continued dominance in the ground game, where he has 11 rushing touchdowns across the Cardinals' 12 games. Palmer is an excellent leverage play (for a refresher on leverage plays, check last week's column) that will differentiate your roster from the masses because of David Johnson's continued hefty ownership. In the $9 DraftKings' Slant last week, Johnson was 32% owned and paid dividends on his $9.5K salary with 38+ points; with his continued success, you can expect similar ownership levels in tournaments this week. A sound game strategy move would be to roster Palmer in lieu of Johnson, so as to zig when a third of the field is zagging with Johnson; if Johnson has a poor performance or even a mediocre game at $9.8K, it could mean that Palmer had a big game, which would set your roster(s) up for a high-end finish. At a pedestrian price point, Palmer needs only ~ 20 fantasy points to reach tournament value, which is precisely the number of points he has averaged over the past month.
Eli Manning (Salary: $5,500). Outside of the 49'ers, no offense runs a quicker pace than the New York Giants, which sets up an interesting story line on Sunday when they host the league's slowest-paced offense, the Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys, at 12-1, will be looking forward to revenging their only loss of the season, a 20-19 nail-biter on opening weekend; they enter this game with a 12-game winning streak and 10-days of rest, neither of which should make Coach Ben McAdoo excited about playing them, but the Giants actually match up well against the Cowboys from a personnel perspective. The Giants field the league's 5th DVOA rush defense, which will be one of the better rush defenses the Cowboys' offensive line has gone against this season (only the Ravens were better and Ezekiel Elliott finished that game with 16.7 fantasy points); likewise, the Giants' boast the league's 7th best DVOA pass defense, which should limit what Dak Prescott is able to do with Dez Bryant and company. If their defense plays up to par and forces Dallas to punt more often, it will force the Cowboys to expose their weakness: their pass defense. Dallas currently sports the 27th ranked DVOA pass defense, one that has allowed two 400+ yard passers over the past month and is desperately missing Morris Claiborne. The Giants are projected to score ~ 22 points in this affair and it is difficult to envision them coming from the likes of Rashad Jennings or Paul Perkins, neither of whom should be expected to perform well against a defensive front seven that is allowing only 82.2 rushing yards per game (2nd in NFL); for these reasons, Eli Manning is a sneaky GPP salary saver who can be paired up with Odell Beckham Jr and/or Sterling Sharpe, both of whom have double-touchdown upside in this NFC East showdown.
Todd Gurley (Salary: $5,000). Who would have thought that last year's rookie sensation and DFS darling, Todd Gurley, would wind down the season as a fledgling $5K running back GPP option? Whether we believed it would happen or not, that is exactly where we find ourselves in Week #14, as Gurley's $5K salary sits squarely between an injured Lamar Miller and Rashad Jennings. For much of the season, Gurley has not been mentioned in this column because his surrounding cast is untalented and because he has been facing a never-ending gauntlet of negative gamescripts. This week, however, it may not matter because Gurley should become the de facto bellcow running back when Benny Cunningham misses this game due to a neck injury. With Gurley seeing all the looks in the offense and primed with a plus matchup against the Falcons, who yield the 2nd most fantasy points to the position, all signs point towards that long-awaited 'big day' for Gurley. The Rams have done their best to get the ball into Gurley's hands as much as possible, but 4-8 teams do not run the ball as often as winning teams, which has limited Gurley's snaps on passing down situations; Jeff Fisher will be forced to keep Gurley on the field in this matchup, which can only help his floor and upside. If Gurley gets 20+ touches, the likelihood of a score is high, particularly given that it will be against a defensive front that has allowed five touchdowns to the position over their previous three games.
Ryan Mathews (Salary: $4,000). The Wendell Smallwood Experiment is over in Philadelphia after the diminutive running back averaged a smidge over 3.0 yards per carry in his two starts while Ryan Mathews missed with an MCL sprain. This week, Mathews should regain his role as lead running back for the Birds and he will do so at a fair $4.0K salary. Head Coach Doug Pederson has been a tough read with regards to usage of Ryan Mathews this season, claiming that Mathews was his lead running back for over half the season, but feeding Darren Sproles more than Mathews for much of that time. Just when we thought that Sproles was usurping the RB1 role, Pederson pulled the rug out from the fantasy community and gave Mathews 20+ touches against Atlanta back in Week #10 and he responded with a 32.9-point performance. The one consistent theme with Mathews all season has been his usage inside the redzone; Mathews has 28 rushes inside the redzone, almost double that of Sproles (15), despite missing time with the aforementioned knee injury. With these facts in mind, Mathews could be in a great spot for a stellar fantasy day against the Redskins, who have been gouged by opposing running backs this season (26.8 DraftKings points per game allowed). Over their previous six games, the Redskins have yielded nine touchdowns to opposing running backs, including three games with multiple touchdowns allowed to a single back. Assuming Ryan Mathews resumes the redzone role he had prior to his injury, he has immense tournament value in this matchup, particularly if Pederson gives him the ball inside the twenties, too.
**SUNDAY MORNING UPDATE: ESPN's Adam Schefter has announced that Wendell Smallwood will be the "lead back" for Philadelphia today. That information downgrades Mathews' fantasy upside to some degree. The issue is that Smallwood tends to come off the field inside the redzone, which is why Mathews was a great play; however, the Eagles' backfield is a mess to interpret in the 11th hour, so my recommendation is to cut in half whatever exposure you previously had to Mathews.**
Odell Beckham Jr (Salary: $8,000). Fresh off a week that saw him the beneficiary of a league-high 16 targets against the Steelers, Odell Beckham Jr has a stellar matchup against the Cowboys' 27th ranked DVOA pass defense. The Cowboys have done a fantastic job of controlling the time of possession to limit the amount of time their questionable defense is on the field, but when they have been on the gridiron, Dallas has struggled to slow down (or even contain) opposing WR1's; the Cowboys have allowed the 3rd most fantasy point to the WR position, including 20+ points to seven different WR1's this season. Since CB Morris Claiborne went down with an injury back in Week #8, the Cowboys have yielded some lofty fantasy box scores including Antonio Brown (37.4 points), Steve Smith (23.9 points), and DeSean Jackson (24.8 points); lesser receivers (Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen, Jamison Crowder, etc.) also performed admirably against this secondary, which bodes well for ODB, who most resembles Antonio Brown in terms of usage and ability. With the high anticipated ownership of David Johnson and Mike Evans, Beckham's salary will be prohibitive, causing him to go somewhat underowned for the type of upside that he brings to the party.
Davante Adams (Salary: $5,500). The Packers continue to throw the ball at a torrid pace, completely ignoring their ground game, which has been hampered by a general lack of production all season. This weekend, Green Bay will host the Seahawks and their 6th ranked DVOA pass defense, an intriguing scenario that sets up the rhetorical "irresistible force versus the immovable object." Jordy Nelson is going to see shadow coverage from Richard Sherman, which is going to limit him to some degree and Aaron Rodgers might be inclined to go through his reads to his secondary receivers, namely Randall Cobb and Davante Adams. Cobb has not been himself for most of the season due to a nagging hamstring injury, a fact that has led to Adams collecting more targets than Cobb to this point in the season. To his credit, Adams has pieced together a decent fantasy season, logging 20+ DraftKings points on five different occasions, a plateau that would justify his place in your GPP roster at his current $5.5K salary. Adams will have his work cut out for him, though, as he will square off against DeShawn Shead, whose skillset is too often overshadowed by Sherman's reputation; that said, Adams has performed well on weeks where Jordy has struggled, which sets the stage for another potential 20+ effort in this matchup.
Tyler Eifert (Salary: $6,000). No tight end in the league brings more upside to the table than Tyler Eifert. In his coming out party of 2015, Eifert had four multi-touchdown games and another four games with a single score; he finished the season with 13 touchdowns, leading the league at the position despite playing in only 13 games. We could see more of the same on Sunday if the Bengals choose to beat the Browns through the air because Tyler Eifert is the Bengals' most likely candidate to score with A.J. Green continuing to nurse a hamstring injury; in fact, Eifert has scored in both games that Green has missed with the injury. In the first game, Eifert receiving a whopping 11 targets against a stingy Ravens' defense, pulling in 5 of them for 68 yards and a score (17.8 DraftKings points); in last week's game, the Bengals trounced the Eagles early, force fed Jeremy Hill, got away from the pass, and Eifert only saw two targets, but still managed to get into the endzone (10.5 DraftKings points). An argument could be made that the Bengals will go ground-heavy again this week, which is why Eifert does not qualify as a cash game target, but he continues to carry multi-touchdown upside against the Browns, who have yielded the 3rd most fantasy points to the position this season, including three touchdowns over the past month. With the tight nature of this salary cap, a lot of people are going to look to save salary at the tight end position, which should keep his ownership levels far too low.
Antonio Gates (Salary: $3,800). The Panthers will, once again, be without star linebacker, Luke Kuechly on Sunday due to a concussion sustained back in Week #11. Since that time, Carolina has allowed three consecutive tight ends to find the endzone, a trend that bodes well for Antonio Gates heading into Week #14. Gates has logged back-to-back poor performances, including a goose egg two weeks ago against the Texans, but that should not keep you away from him in this matchup against the league's 4th friendliest defense to the tight end position (16.3 DraftKings points per game allowed). Looking deeper into the game logs, Gates is not losing any snaps to rookie Hunter Henry, nor is he losing his role as a pass catcher; in fact, Henry appears to be commanding the blocking tight end role, as he has run only 16 pass routes over the past two weeks versus 46 pass routes for Gates. For these reasons, Gates would appear to be a buy-low candidate for an impending big performance against a susceptible defense that is lacking their best player. With that all-time tight end touchdown record looming for Gates, do not be surprised if Philip Rivers feeds him heavily as the season winds to a close.
Also eligible: Jermaine Gresham (Salary: $2,500).
Lions (Salary: $3,600). Fresh off an impressive victory against the Saints on their home turf last week, the Lions are red-hot winners of six of their previous seven games and should be in line for another win against Matt Barkley and the Bears on Sunday at Ford Field. As touchdown favorites, the implied gamescript suggests that Barkley could be dropping back more than Coach John Fox might otherwise desire, as the Bears are certainly a better team if they can focus on the run; last week against the Niners, the Bears fed Jordan Howard the ball as much as possible to keep it out of Barkley's hands and it was the first time all season that Barkley did not throw a pair of picks. If the Lions jump out to an early lead in this contest, Barkley is certainly prone to poor decision-making, which can lead to pick-sixes and DFS tournament wins. The Lions have not allowed an opponent to score more than 20 points in six consecutive games and they enter this matchup with double-digit fantasy points in two of their previous three contests; if they are able to build an early lead against the Bears and force Barkley's errant arm, double-digit fantasy returns could be waiting once again.
49'ers (Salary: $2,600). Strictly a GPP play, the 49'ers are intriguing against Bryce Petty and the Jets' woeful offense on a short week of preparation. Petty is taking over for the much-maligned Ryan Fitzpatrick and will finish out the season as the Jets' quarterback, while they assess their needs for 2017. In limited action this season, Petty has completed a shade over 50% of his passes, but has been picked off three times in only 59 attempts; furthermore, Petty will be without his veteran starting center, Nick Mangold, who was placed on injured reserve this week after suffering an ankle injury last Sunday. Flying 3,000+ miles on a short week of rest after an embarrassing loss to the Colts on Monday Night Football, the Jets could be entering shutdown mode; if that were to happen, the Niners' defense will be extremely underowned and are amongst the cheapest on the DraftKings' board in Week #14. Limit your exposure, but get a piece of them if you are entering multiple GPP rosters.
Also eligible: Broncos ($3,800), Rams (Salary: $2,500).