In Advanced Targets we’re going under the hood and using all of the advanced stats generated by the Pro Football Focus game-charters to find the best DraftKings plays this season. I’m also providing the weekly projections from the award-winning minds at PFF Fantasy and occasionally presenting contrarian plays where the advanced stats suggest upside far beyond the official projection.
The Colts pass defense has been solid on a per play basis both in terms of yards and interceptions, but they’ve allowed the third most yards per game (280) in part because they’re facing 38.5 attempts per game. Indianapolis doesn’t generate much pass rush – their -12 grade is third worst – which may help explain why opponents aren’t afraid to attack through the air. The decline in performance from Vontae Davis has also played a role in the 24 opponent touchdowns. Antonio Brown exploited Davis for 2 touchdowns a week ago, while running mate Greg Toler was absolutely humiliated. He allowed 126 yards and 2 touchdowns with much of the damage done by Martavis Bryant. Bortles doesn’t have quite the same caliber receiving corps, but no one is hotter right now than Allen Robinson. The Jaguars signal-caller torched the underrated Tennessee secondary for 322 yards and 5 touchdowns a week ago, and may get Allen Hurns back this week as well.
Projected Points: 22.3
The run-oriented Bucs won’t go out of their way to attack a comically bad Saints pass defense, but they’ll still pile up yards against a unit that has allowed 35 touchdowns and a 116 opposing passer rating. Winston welcomed back Austin Seferian-Jenkins in Week 13, and though his tight end failed to corral a potential touchdown, he now has the Triple Towers all relatively healthy. A lot has been made of the lack of volume for Winston, but his 428 drop backs rank 17th. He hasn’t thrown for 300 yards in a game this season, but he’s only been held under 200 yards once. The rookie is also on fire of late with his two best PFF grades coming over the last three weeks, a span in which he’s averaging 7.8 yards per attempt. Even with New Orleans missing Mark Ingram and likely without Brandin Cooks as well, the Drew Brees-led squad is likely to put up points against a Tampa Bay pass defense (-34.9) that grades out almost as poorly as their own. This has all the makings of a shootout.
Projected Points: 18.6
Bill Lazor was fired after Miller saw only 5 carries in Week 12, and Miami’s purported bell cow immediately saw his highest carry total of the season with 20 attempts against Baltimore. Miller has five games with single digit attempts this year, a workload which has somewhat obscured his explosiveness. He’s averaging 3.0 yards after contact per attempt (YCo/Att). Those are elite numbers only being managed by Doug Martin (3.3) and Thomas Rawls (3.1) among current starters. Miller combines home run rush ability with the tenth most targets (46) and ninth most receiving yards (346) among RBs. The Giants aren’t giving up the same kind of yardage volume in the running game as they are against the pass, but they still sport the seventh worst grade in rush defense (-19.6).
Projected Points: 16.2
It would normally be difficult to recommend a running back averaging 3.3 yards per carry on an offense expected to spend very little time around the goal line, but Draughn is a special situation. He’s averaged 14 carries a game since essentially taking over as the lead back in Week 9. That’s not a strong workload until you consider that he’s caught at least 4 passes in every one of those games, giving him a decent PPR floor and locking him in around 20 total touches. Draughn even scored last week against the Bears’ lousy run defense and now gets an even easier matchup against the Cleveland Browns. Mike Pettine spends an inordinate amount of time lamenting Johnny Manziel’s leadership issues, but perhaps he should focus more on his own. The former Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator helms a defense with a -55.6 run defense grade. To put that in context, 22 of the 32 NFL teams have positive grades against the run and only Jacksonville, Tampa Bay, San Diego, and New Orleans have total defensive grades worse than -55.
Projected Points: 14.7
This is a high risk play, but it could pay off handsomely with Mathews primed to return from his concussion. The Eagles were forced to give DeMarco Murray every chance to get comfortable in the offense after giving him the monster contract, but that experiment appears to be nearing its conclusion. It’s easy to blame Chip Kelly for Murray’s travails given the struggles of the rest of the offense, but Mathews’ success undercuts that theory. The No. 12 overall pick from the 2010 Draft has led all backs this season with 5.8 yards per carry (min. 50 attempts) and only Todd Gurley and Doug Martin are creating 15-plus yard runs on a higher percentage of their attempts. Mathews has looked explosive before and after contact. He’s averaging 3.2 YCo/Att, and it’s not a one-time fluke as he averaged exactly that on 222 carries in 2011. This week’s opponent has a strong defensive reputation, but the Bills have been very average against the run. Linebackers Preston Brown and Nigel Bradham have both played at least 745 snaps and rank No. 81 and No. 88 respectively at the position against the run.
Projected Points: 7.4
I’d much rather roster Bryant at $5,700 than Antonio Brown at $8,900. Pittsburgh’s No. 2 receiver has been almost as efficient in terms of yardage per route (2.83 to 2.64) and is scoring twice as often per target. Cincinnati’s starting corner trio of Adam Jones, Leon Hall, and Dre Kirkpatrick may all be out or limited this week. Kirkpatrick’s -18.3 grade ranks No. 114 out of 116 qualifying corners, and assuming he does play, tendencies suggest he will see a lot of Bryant.
Projected Points: 16.7
Landry was fresh off a four-game stretch with 46 targets when last week’s 2-5-0 line happened. He should see his volume return to that level this week in what will be a more high-scoring affair against the Giants. Landry faces off against Trevin Wade. New York’s slot corner gives up a reception every 8.5 coverage snaps (20th among 28 qualifying corners).
Projected Points: 18.8
Watkins will see a lot of Eric Rowe if current tendencies hold. The question is whether we’ll see the emerging star who dominated Keshawn Martin and Brandon LaFell last week – Rowe allowed only 2 of 9 targets to be completed – or the unseasoned and overmatched rookie who allowed 2 touchdowns to Calvin Johnson the previous week. Injuries limited Watkins to 147 yards through the first 8 weeks, but he’s exploded since with three 100-yard games and 4 touchdowns. Buffalo continues to struggle to get Watkins elite volume, but over the last two games he’s averaged 29.7 yards per reception, 20.5 yards per target, and an average target depth of 28.5 yards. To put that in context, those games have corresponded with Doug Baldwin’s superhero turn. Baldwin averaged 21.7 yards per reception, 18.4 yards per target, and only 8.2 aDOT.
Projected Points: 17.9
Kelce has been held under 50 yards in four of the last five games and only managed 2 targets last week, trends that have rendered him very inexpensive versus other elite tight ends. Even with those results, he leads trendy players like Gary Barnidge and Tyler Eifert with 1.92 yards per route. This is a great week to take advantage. The Chargers are awful in all areas, but they’re particularly bad against tight ends. PFF’s Shadow Report suggests Jason Verrett will cover Jeremy Maclin, and while that’s not necessarily a matchup to be feared, it could send a few extra targets Kelce’s way. Prior to Week 13, the Chiefs tight end had been averaging 6.9 targets per game and hadn’t been held below 5 in any given week.
Projected Points: 13.6