Baker Mayfield

The theme of the Week 12 slate is a lack of viable cheap options. There weren’t very many impactful injuries in Week 11, so it naturally follows that we’re scraping hard below $5,000. As a result, I’d expect winning scores to be a bit lower this week than average. We’ll simply have to take on more risk than usual when it comes to price-considered floors.

The point of this column is to use the news, snap counts, usage, matchups and trends to both be a little contrarian and avoid whiffs. Note that I am discussing the DraftKings main slate only, aka the 12 Sunday day games.


1. Derrick Henry against the Jaguars

Since Ryan Tannehill ($5,300) took over four games ago, Derrick Henry’s ($6,900) usage has been trending up. He’s handled a massive 94% of the RB carries and also run 61 routes on 139 Tannehill dropbacks (44%). Coming out of a bye with playoff hopes on the line, we can safely expect that strong usage to continue. While the Jaguars do have a talented defensive line, running the ball at them has been no problem. They’re 30th in rush defense DVOA, dead last in yards per carry allowed and 27th in rushing TDs allowed. We just have to understand the risk in Henry – he’s not game-flow independent. If the Titans get into a hurry-up situation, he won’t be on the field.

2. Julio Jones against the Bucs

The Bucs are the biggest pass funnel I can remember. They are 3rd in YPC allowed despite facing Alvin Kamara ($8,200) twice, Christian McCaffrey ($10,500) twice, Chris Carson ($6,700), Saquon Barkley ($7,900), Todd Gurley ($6,000), Derrick Henry ($6,900) and Tevin Coleman ($6,200)/Matt Breida ($4,900). Meanwhile, their corner play is among the worst in the league on a weekly basis and they’ve sunk to 30th in pass defense DVOA. In the last three weeks alone, they’ve been ripped by Michael Thomas ($9,300) for 28.4 DKFP, Christian Kirk for 34.8, Tyler Lockett ($7,600) for 43.2 and DK Metcalf ($6,300) for 30.0. Enter Julio Jones ($8,000), who is only $1,500 more than Calvin Ridley ($6,500). Julio (foot) practiced full Thursday and remains third in the entire league in Air Yards despite a somewhat underwhelming game log.


1. Baker Mayfield finally getting a plus matchup

The Browns have had arguably the toughest schedule this season in terms of pass defenses faced. In the last seven weeks alone they’ve faced the Steelers, Bills, Broncos, Patriots, 49ers and Ravens. Those teams rank 5th, 9th, 15th, 1st, 2nd and 3rd in pass defense DVOA. While Mayfield ($5,900) and this offense has struggled plenty in those spots, he’s still scored at least 17 DKFP in three straight and now has a James White-esque back in Kareem Hunt ($5,600). Enter a matchup with the Dolphins, who are dead last in pass defense DVOA and 29th in yards per pass attempt allowed. The last time Baker had a matchup this strong was way back in Week 2, in which he went for 325 pass yards and a TD against the Jets. That was also Odell Beckham’s ($7,000) only difference-making game of the year as he went 6-161-1.

2. Seahawks scraping at tight end

The Seahawks are down to what feels like Plan Z at tight end. A cluster of injuries at the position, most recently a new one to Luke Willson and a setback for Ed Dickson, have left them barren. As of Friday, Jacob Hollister was the only healthy tight end on the active roster. We can expect the Seahawks to call up practice-squadder Tyrone Swoopes and use T George Fant as a blocking TE, but Hollister is staring an every-down role in the face. That’s intriguing because he’s actually a legit pass-catching prospect. Hollister has 12 catches in his last two games with the Seahawks, and he had a 7-116-0 game for the Patriots during the 2017 preseason. He has 4.64 speed and a 36.5-inch vertical at 6’3/239. Hollister being priced at $4,300 (oddly more than Greg Olsen ($4,100), Noah Fant ($3,900) and Dallas Goedert ($3,700)) will keep his ownership in check.


1. Jets/Raiders game stack

This matchup sets up well for play volume because both teams should employ pass-centric gameplans. The Jets are 2nd in rush defense DVOA and 21st against the pass. The Raiders have struggled against the run lately, but that’s still where their talent is. So we have two competent but not sexy quarterbacks to choose from and the pricetags on their weapons are not inflated like many others on the slate. Jamison Crowder ($6,200), Demaryius Thomas ($3,800), Ryan Griffin ($4,200), Le’Veon Bell ($6,400), Darren Waller ($5,700(, Tyrell Williams ($5,900) and Hunter Renfrow ($4,500) are all viable plays. And that’s what we’re looking for in a contrarian game stack – pass centric, price-sensitive options and paths to a shootout despite a lowish game total.

2. Naked Josh Allen

A few years ago, going back to the players who broke the previous week’s slate would be foolish. It would be over-owned and more expensive. But in the current state of the DFS evolution, going back to Josh Allen ($6,400) projects as contrarian. This is a difficult macro setup for the Broncos, who are dead at 3-7 and in a back-to-back road game situation for an 11 a.m. mountain time game at Buffalo. We know that Josh Allen’s legs plus vertical-style are exactly what we look for in tournaments. And while Allen’s favorite weapon John Brown ($6,700) is overpriced and likely to be shadowed by Chris Harris, we know he has slate-breaking ability.

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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is adamlevitan) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.