Each week, we’ll dive into Fanduel’s main slate to highlight some of the juiciest matchups and situations to exploit. Whether it’s finding the low(er)-owned gems in a popular upcoming shootout or identifying an overlooked clash that DFSers can use to gain leverage over a tournament field, our aim is to provide you the individual plays and overall strategy to consider as you chase profitability in your DFS portfolio. Let’s jump in.
Colts vs. Texans (-4.5, 50)
Will Andrew Luck’s ($7,900) Week 13 stinker linger among DFSers like the remnants of a half-eaten McDonald’s combo? It’s entirely possible as he’ll lead the Colts on the road against another tough defense. He deserves a mulligan though, as his 10.52 FanDuel points marked his first time falling shy of 22 since Week 3 at Philadelphia. All he did in between was deliver eight straight games with three or more touchdown passes. Houston, while strong overall defensively, allows the second-highest percentage of yardage allowed to come through the air. Meanwhile, as you may have come to expect from a team with a franchise quarterback of Luck’s stature, the Colts rely heavily on the pass to move the ball. This matchup represents a chance to roster Luck at below-market ownership and potentially gain leverage over a large tournament field that shies away from a stout opponent.
Giants (-3.5, 41) vs. Redskins
It wasn’t the Week 13 performance we expected from Eli Manning ($6,500), but he gets another look against the hated Redskins on the road. Yes, this is another leverage play that also carries upside thanks to the salary it opens up for you elsewhere. The pass-heavy Giants once again face off against another defense that funnels production through the air. Opposing quarterbacks have lit up the Redskins with more frequency in recent weeks with the likes of Matt Ryan, Dak Prescott and Carson Wentz each turning in great performances spanning back to Week 9. Whether Manning is up to matching that production remains to be seen, but what can safely be presumed is many of your DFS foes will shy away. Furthermore, this looks like a week to stack him with Odell Beckham Jr. as the Redskins give up the most yardage on average to opposing No. 1 receivers.
Jets vs. Bills (-3.5, 38)
Could one of this week’s most exciting plays be hiding within what — at least on paper — appears to be among the most snooze-worthy matchups of the slate? The Bills host the Jets and there isn’t a team in the NFL that relies more on the ground game to move the ball. If you’re looking for a near-free square at the running back or flex position, have a look at LeSean McCoy ($5,700). Just like in real life though, you often get what you pay for, so McCoy isn’t for those afraid of receiving a return commensurate with his price. Even though his production hasn’t been up to par in recent weeks — a 24.3-point performance against these same Jets notwithstanding — McCoy has still received healthy volume with 19, 18 and 27 touches spanning over his last three contests. The more intriguing option, however, is quarterback Josh Allen ($7,400). Some may consider his price tag a bit too steep for someone who has only surpassed 200 passing yards on two occasions, but he’s made up for that with 135 and 99 rushing yards over the last two weeks. Allen has four games with at least eight rushing attempts, including 22 carries coming over the past two weeks. If the Bills are going to allow Allen to continue relying so heavily on his legs, he’ll warrant much more DFS attention than he’ll likely receive for this promising matchup.
Panthers (-1, 47.5) vs. Browns
The Panthers are mired in a brutal skid, they just fired multiple defensive coaches and quarterback Cam Newton is banged up. Carolina needs a win in the worst way and they’ll lean on Christian McCaffrey ($9,100) to lead them to one. Praise McCaffrey with whatever superlative you’d like as he’s simply been outstanding this season, particularly over the last five weeks in which he’s scored over 30 FD points on three occasions. The Browns give up a lot of yardage (third most yards from scrimmage in the league) and allow a third of that yardage to be earned via the ground. McCaffrey will cost you, he owns the second most expensive price tag on the main slate, but there’s enough value elsewhere to roster him along with other quality options.
Lions (-2.5, 40.5) vs. Cardinals
LeGarrette Blount ($5,600) isn’t for the risk averse, but he’s operated as the Lions’ top back in the last two weeks, handling 20 and 16 touches, respectively, in the two contests since taking over the lead role. He scored twice against the Bears on Thanksgiving day and remains one of the game’s elite red zone weapons. If you’re trying to squeeze in an extra high-priced player or two, Blount at his modest salary provides some upside should he get another full workload and, more importantly, find paydirt.
Patriots (-7.5, 48) vs. Dolphins
The Dolphins have traditionally given Brady and Belichick some headaches down in Miami Gardens, but that’s not going to be enough to shy away from this matchup. Not only have the Dolphins given up the fourth most yards from scrimmage in the league, but they surrender 36.1 percent of their allowed yardage on the ground, the fifth highest percentage on the main slate. Enter Sony Michel ($6,900), who has received 41 touches over the past two weeks and stands to see another heavy workload against a porous run unit. Those looking to find a pivot opportunity could also look at James White ($7,200). He’s more expensive than his backfield mate and has been the less-utilized option, but rostering Patriots backs can be a vexing exercise. We never know when Belichick and Co. will completely turn the industry expectation on its ear. Consider White the option if you’re taking an all-or-nothing approach as his ownership virtually promises to be lower than Michel’s.