Price and opportunity have essentially pigeonholed cash game lineup construction over the past two weeks, but it appears Week 13 offers a bit of variety among the top tier. We’ve been gifted a few high volume discounts again, just like last week, so let’s jump in to it.
Looking for a different position? Check out the rest of the positional targets:
We’re on to Week 13.
The metrics that I like to utilize have reached a stabilization point so it’s easier than ever to trust the data behind the analysis. Having more actionable in-season data that we can lean on makes the second half of the season a lot of fun. The process of understanding how good or bad a player’s matchup is each week is getting easier and will continue to get easier with each passing week. Most of the stats that I’m referencing here are either opponent or schedule-adjusted, making it easier to contextualize what is actually happening instead of just pulling raw data points.
Thanks to amazing sites like Pro Football Focus, Football Outsiders, and 4for4, there has been a tremendous wave of actionable analytics in football over the past few seasons. The more that you can incorporate them in to your lineup building process, the better off you’ll be.
If you’re new to the daily fantasy community, welcome, you’re in for a whole lot of fun. If you have questions, please find me on Twitter, @RyNoonan.
Cream of the Crop
LeSean McCoy, Buffalo Bills (vs. Houston Texans) -$5,700
The most frustrating thing that I fall victim to at times is when I don’t trust my own process. We discussed this a few weeks back but in short, don’t deviate from a player that you like after doing your homework on that player and situation simply because he’s not being touted enough elsewhere. I really liked the setup for LeSean McCoy last week, mostly because of his role on passing downs, but I barely had 10% exposure in tournaments. I won’t make that mistake again. McCoy’s running mate, Karlos Williams, is likely to sit this one out with a shoulder injury and while Houston’s defense is playing better, Buffalo wants to run the ball and control the pace of play, especially at home. Shady’s pass game usage raises his floor, making him a safe cash game play in Week 13.
David Johnson, Arizona Cardinals (@ St. Louis Rams) -$3,400
The cash game auto-play this week is the Cardinals’ David Johnson. He dazzled earlier this season in limited work and on special teams, but Week 13 brings him a role as the Cardinals feature back. Both Chris Johnson and Andre Ellington were lost to injury in the Cardinals’ Week 12 win in San Francisco, setting the rookie up for 20+ touches at just $3,400. The matchup against the Rams defense is less than ideal, but Vegas has Arizona listed as a 5.5-point favorite here. Don’t over-think this one.
Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings (vs. Seattle Seahawks) -$6,600
We can roster the league’s best back and leading rusher, one that’s scored five times in the past four games, for $700 less than he cost us in Week 12; A week in which he carried it 29 times for 158 yards and two scores. Are you as confused as I am? The pricing algorithm is giving this version of Seattle’s defense too much credit. They’re just 11th in run DVOA on the season, and this is a home game for Peterson, one that Vegas has as a pick’em. My hope is that the Legion of Boom #brand keeps the general public away and that Peterson can be had for a lower-than-expected ownership total in this spot.
DeAngelo Williams, Pittsburgh Steelers (vs. Indianapolis Colts) -$5,600
We don’t know the status of Steelers’ quarterback Ben Roethlisberger yet, but by the time we have to make a decision on this game I’m certain we’ll know. I’m writing D-Will up as if Ben is a full go here. The Steelers elite passing game presents Williams with multiple red zone possessions each game, giving him a higher touchdown upside than most of his peers at the position. The Colts early season success against the run has waned recently due to injuries and I expect Williams will have plenty of room to operate on Sunday. If Ben sits, he’s less cash game viable but would still maintain some tournament appeal.
C.J. Anderson, Denver Broncos (@ San Diego Chargers) -$3,500
You can make the case that Ronnie Hillman ($4,500) is in play here as well, and I think he is, but I’ll lean with the $1,000 savings and dial up C.J. Anderson this week. Not only do the Chargers have the league’s worst home field advantage, they have the league’s worst run defense as well, setting up both Denver backs to build on their improved play of late. Anderson was the hot hand during the second half of Denver’s win on Sunday night and the workload has been shared quite evenly over the past few games. Anderson’s edge here is in his price and his more reliable role in the passing game when compared to Hillman, who’s a great tournament pivot off of the higher-owned Anderson.
Middle of the Pack
Jonathan Stewart, Carolina Panthers (@ New Orleans Saints) -$5,300
I love Jonathan Stewart for tournaments this week. I think Cam Newton is the chalk quarterback play against a leaky Saints pass defense, but their run defense has been just as bad, allowing 164 yards on the ground per game so far this season. That sets up a nice spot for Stewart as a pivot off of Cam, while still allowing you to get exposure to the Panthers offense in this cushy spot. The expected game script works in Stewart’s favor as well, as Carolina looks to continue their undefeated season as 7-point favorites against New Orleans. You can’t find a better spot for a back that’s a lock for 20+ touches on a team with an implied point total of 28.3, the second highest of the week.
Doug Martin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (vs. Atlanta Falcons) -$5,900
The Falcons continue to show themselves as early season frauds and this NFC South tilt is one that few thought would matter back in September. Doug Martin’s recent play has seen him earn a larger share of Tampa’s backfield touches and he’s played really well in games where Tampa has the lead. Vegas only has Tampa installed as a 2-point favorite here and while I think it’ll be close, I expect Tampa will be able to win up front against the Falcons’ 19th ranked run defense.
Devonta Freeman, Atlanta Falcons (@ Tampa Bay Buccaneers) -$8,000
There are a number of reasons that we should be reluctant to roster Devonta Freeman this week. After missing last week’s contest with concussion symptoms, Freeman returns as the most expensive running back on the slate and faces a Bucs run defense that is 2nd in the league according to Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric. You’d think that Freeman’s early season success would solidify his role as the Falcons bell cow back, but Tevin Coleman ($4,800) ran well in his absence and this coaching staff wanted Coleman to be the main guy after the first couple of games. Coleman over Freeman may just be noise, but I doubt we see 90% usage from Freeman like we saw in prior weeks.
Thomas Rawls, Seattle Seahawks (@ Minnesota Vikings) -$5,400
Thomas Rawls was owned everywhere in Week 12 and when that happens and the player doesn’t go off, the public is typically off of him the next week. Rawls played well against a stout Steelers run defense, but Russell Wilson was accounting for all the scores through the air instead of Rawls on the ground. He found pay dirt once though, and his matchup against the Vikings 23rd ranked run defense is a much better spot than against Pittsburgh in Week 12. We’ll also see a lot of players chasing Wilson’s Week 12 performance, making Rawls an intriguing hedge play in tournaments.
Javorius Allen, Baltimore Ravens (@ Miami Dolphins) -$5,400
It was a solid, yet unspectacular debut for Baltimore’s rookie running back Javorius ‘Buck’ Allen in Week 12. His skills in the passing game showed up as he hauled in four balls on five targets, including one for a score. He wasn’t asked to carry the full load as Terrence West chipped in with seven carries, but Allen carried it 12 times for 55 yards as well. I think 16-18 touches is a safe window to project Allen’s usage for Week 13 contest against the Dolphins, a team that’s allowed 163 yards per game on the ground this season.
Todd Gurley, St. Louis Rams (vs. Arizona Cardinals) -$7,300
We saw a troubling trend in Week 12 as far as Todd Gurley’s viability for this week is concerned. He’s slipped in to a role that has him dependent on game flow, and that makes it hard to pay up for him when he and the Rams are 5.5-point underdogs against the Cardinals and their top-7 run defense. Gurley only saw 40% of the snaps last week, with both Tre Mason (27%) and Benny Cunningham (33%) both involved quite a bit when things went south against Cincinnati in Week 12. It’s tough to declare someone as talented as Gurley a non-option, but there are better ways to spend your funds this week.
Rest of the Field
Matt Forte, Chicago Bears (vs. San Francisco 49ers) -$6,900
The matchup against the 49ers is an enticing one but unfortunately Jeremy Langford ($5,300) has made Matt Forte unplayable in DFS right now. The two backs nearly split the snaps and touches on Thanksgiving in Green Bay, with Forte seeing a slight 55% to 45% edge. That edge could increase this week with Forte one more week removed from the knee injury that cost him multiple weeks, but I doubt it’s enough to make him a good play at nearly $7,000.
Mark Ingram, New Orleans Saints (vs. Carolina Panthers) -$6,400
Mark Ingram’s ability to chip in on passing downs helps his cause here, but this is a difficult spot for him as an underdog against Carolina’s third ranked run defense. C.J. Spiller is still not a thing, so no need to worry about that, but Spiller’s usage is the least of Ingram’s issue here. Carolina is allowing just 45 yards per game on the ground this season.
Shaun Draughn, San Francisco 49ers (@ Chicago Bears) -$4,000
Shaun Draughn is intriguing simply because no other 49ers running back touched the football in Week 12 and the injuries that impacted San Francisco’s depth at running back are still an issue in Week 13. Adding to Draughn’s appeal is a matchup against the Bears and their 31st ranked run defense. There’s not a ton of upside here as San Francisco has a team total of just 18 points, but there are worse tournament plays for $4,000.
Chris Ivory, New York Jets (@ New York Giants) -$5,900
Chris Ivory sprinkled in some excellent games early this season, but with Bilal Powell and Stevan Ridley getting healthy over the past few weeks we’ve seen Ivory’s role change quite a bit. He’s slid back into the early down back, someone that’s rarely on the field on passing downs or if the Jets are playing from behind. His touchdown upside keeps him tournament viable, but he shouldn’t be a part of your core this week.
Theo Riddick, Detroit Lions (vs. Green Bay Packers) -$3,500
I imagine some will be rostering a different back in this game, but I’m not on Eddie Lacy ($5,000) quite yet. I do like the cheap floor that Theo Riddick presents in this matchup though. He’s rarely used to carry the football, but Detroit uses him quite often in the passing game and in the red zone, two things that make him intriguing at such a cheap price point.