In this space, we will look each week at players who have strong potential to outperform their price on FanDuel and who we can invite to come on down into our lineups. This won’t be a play all these picks column, but rather a place to uncover value to allow us to unlock massive upside in our lineups.
There is a classic game on the Price is Right called Cliffhanger. You’ve probably seen it. There is this yodeler who climbs up a game-board mountain approaching a cliff he can fall from if you overbid on a series of increasingly depressing and unusable small prizes. The best part about this game is the inherent stress when he starts to approach the cliff, and the will-he/won’t-he game based on random price guessing from the contestants.
Sometimes, you just know what’s about to happen and there is nothing that can save that poor guy, and other times, you are sweating the game out right to the final dollar.
I can’t tell you how many weeks the roster construction puzzle conjures up the exact same feelings. I will be shaping and curating that thing only to plug in the final pièce de résistance and get this jerk staring back at me:
It’s even worse on places like Yahoo where they play with a $200 salary cap and you will be $1 over. Seriously? I will give you a freaking dollar. And as is so often the case, there is a not a player you value just as highly at that $1 Or $100 discount. So what does that mean? Entirely new roster construction and making sacrifices where you don’t want.
When is someone going to create the easy version of DFS? Until then, let’s try to keep that yodeler from falling off the cliff this week.
Deshaun Watson ($7,800) – There are 12 starting QB within $1,100 of one another this week, so finding the right person at a decent price shouldn’t be too much of an issue at the position. However, I will gladly take Watson as the QB with the ninth-highest price. On the surface, Watson’s FD points over the last six weeks that been extremely sporadic – 15.96, 29.4, 11, 20.32, 30.96, 10.86. But these performances have been volume- and opponent-driven more than any performance or lingering health issues. The Texans haven’t played a team with a current winning record since the Cowboys on October 7 and in those game they have skewed heavy towards the run.
Houston ranks 31st in the league in percentage of pass plays at 51.8% and that number bottoms out over their last three where they have passed only 46.4% of the time. I don’t think that’s going to cut it this week against the Colts with an over/under of 48 and an opponent ranked 4th in DVOA rush defense but only 21st in pass defense DVOA. In the first meeting against these two teams, Watson had his second highest number of passing attempts (42) and passing yards (375) on the season while also rushing for 41 yards. These are reasonable expectations for an indoor home game that will clinch the division for Houston.
Jeff Wilson ($5,600)/Jaylen Samuels ($4,600)/Justin Jackson ($4,500) – This trio of value running backs needs to be addressed collectively. Not since Mike D, MCA, and Ad-Rock has a trio been so important to the fabric of our lives. Who do we use? One of them or two? There are choices that must be made.
Wilson, for me, is off the list first on FanDuel. The $1,000 can be so helpful elsewhere and even though Wilson may have the largest role of the three, he is on the worst team with a third-string QB and certainly has nothing guaranteed coming his way knowing the Shenanigans of the Shanahans.
Between Samuels and Jackson, I will lean towards Samuels. Pittsburgh is just so pass-heavy on the year (67.2%, and 77.9% in their last three) and that is where Samuels should excel. Steven Ridley might plod through some short-yardage rushing situations and pass-blocking situations, but when dissecting who will receive the high-value targets, it will clearly be Samuels. It’s well documented that he was a tight end at the college level and has excellent pass-catching abilities.
Samuels already is #12 on the year for fantasy points per opportunity, according to Player Profiler, and that opportunity is about the expand dramatically against the hapless Raiders and their 29th ranked total defense.
Aaron Jones ($7,500) – Owners burned by Jones last week should have no problem going back to the well with the stud running back. After three straight weeks of finally seeing at least 74% of Green Bay’s snaps, Jones was inexplicably on the field for only 51% against the Cardinals. Not to worry, the man responsible for that decision is now in the unemployment line and the best players on this offense are about to be unlocked by Aaron Rodgers.
Honestly, I feel sorry for the Falcons. They have to travel to frigid Green Bay in December and then face a QB who is going to be playing some motivated, inspired football. Finally free from the McShackles, Rodgers (who has been very public in his praise for Jones) should dominate play-calling and situational football here. Interim coach Joe Philbin is frankly in a four-week job interview right now and should be doing all he can to make his situation look impressive. Giving Rodgers and Jones control is step number one.
What I am hoping for (not necessarily predicting, but hoping for) is a return to weeks 11-12 usage where Jones was top two in the NFL in rushing market share AND was a top-ten running back in terms of his team’s target share as well. That is nirvana for this situation and for $7,500 against a defense ranked 29th against the run and 28th against pass-catching running backs, I am fully onboard.
Chris Godwin ($5,600) – Compared to his teammate Adam Humphries ($6,500), I will gladly take the $900 discount on a player with an increasing role in a pass-happy offense. Godwin’s target share has risen from 8% in week 11 to 20% last week as Tampa Bay narrows it’s passing tree with Winston back under center.
There were essentially only four options last week in the passing game – Evans, Godwin, Brate, and Humphries – and while Humphries and Brate dominated the underneath stuff, both Evans and Godwin accumulated 20% of the air yards with Godwin seeing his highest aDOT since week 9.
Why this is important is New Orleans is 22nd in the league at opponents’ yards per play and the Saints give up the sixth most yards per completion and fourth most yards per pass attempt. For an offense such as the Bucs that throw 63% of the time, this is a perfect spot to feature players like Evans and Godwin.