NFL DFS, Week 14: Play Eddie Lacy and you’ll both be smiling

eddie lacy

That ultra-slow start Eddie Lacy threw up in September?  Yeah, it’s over.  And since the DFS sites still don’t entirely trust his output, he makes for a gorgeous value play in Week 14.

Week 14 DFS Plays & Fades

QUARTERBACKS

HIGH-DOLLAR PLAY: Drew Brees vCAR ($9,100 DraftKings, $9,400 FanDuel) – Brees hasn’t been his usual dominant Superdome self this year, but the combination of volume, production, and matchup is tantalizing here.  Over his last four games, he’s throw 41+ passes in three of them – and in the other, he still tossed five TDs in a blowout win.  And you have to love the matchup: since Week 3, only two opposing QBs have failed to reach 255 yards against the Panthers, and only three failed to throw 2+ touchdowns.  Brees is a perfect play that falls outside the Big Three Salaries.

FADE WITH GLORY: Andrew Luck vCLE ($9,700 DraftKings, $10,300 FanDuel) – The price tag is incredibly steep, and as I’ve told you, it’s not wise to go chasing top-three QB numbers at top-three salaries.  While Luck threw five TDs last week, the Colts’ recent red zone struggles suggest it would be unwise to expect a repeat, especially with Joe Haden likely to shadow top downfield target T.Y. Hilton for much of the game.  Luck won’t implode, of course, but the numbers don’t forecast a repeat of last week.

FROM THE BARGAIN BIN

Jay Cutler vDAL ($7,200 DraftKings, $8,300 FanDuel) – Cutler hits all three key DFS criteria this week – volume, production, and matchup.  He’s averaging 38.8 attempts over his last four games, reaching 272+ yards in three of them, and he faces a defense that’s been scorched by the pass over the last seven weeks.  In a likely shootout with most of his weapons shining, Cutler makes for an ideal play in any DFS format.

Andy Dalton vPIT ($6,000 DraftKings, $7,900 FanDuel) – They allllll throw on the Steelers.  Dick LeBeau’s once feared unit is in shambles, having allowed 2+ TD passes in each of their last six games (16 in total over that span).  Dalton is anything in the world but a sure thing, but all you’re looking for at this salary is a 250-yard, two-TD game to keep pace in your non-cash games, and that looks likely.  Spend those savings on a more predictable difference-maker.

Kyle Orton @DEN ($5,600 DraftKings, $7,300 FanDuel) – Orton makes for an intriguing GPP play, particularly on DraftKings, due to the Bills’ probable passing volume.  As Buffalo’s starter, he’s averaged 42 attempts and 268 yards in five games the Bills have lost or won close.  And this trip to Denver sure looks like a loss, so I’m expecting a heavy passload as the Bills play catchup.  Orton isn’t a cash play, of course, but that yardage total plus a couple of scores would make him a high-end QB2 (or better) at a steep discount.

RUNNING BACKS

HIGH-DOLLAR PLAY: Eddie Lacy vATL ($7,800 DraftKings, $8,500 FanDuel) – Lacy should probably be more expensive.  He’s notched 114+ scrimmage yards in five straight games and six of his last eight, and his passing game involvement – 24 targets over his last five games – creates a favorable fantasy floor.  And there’s still room for improvement: Lacy has run for just three TDs over that eight-game span despite seven carries from inside the 10.  The touchdowns should come, and there are few better places to start than a matchup with the Falcons, who have allowed a league-high 15 ground TDs on the year.

FADE WITH GLORY: Mark Ingram vCAR ($6,500 DraftKings, $7,700 FanDuel) – Ingram doesn’t look like a bad play this week, but he isn’t the safest one either.  The Panther defense has tightened of late, holding their last four opponents to 105 rush yards or fewer.  And while Ingram tallied 100 yards and two short TD plunges in their last meeting, it took a wheezy 30 rushes to get there.  In fact, Ingram hasn’t found the end zone in four games since, despite eight carries from inside the 10.  (He’s also been held under 2.5 YPC in two of those games.)  Add his relative lack of passing game volume, and Ingram’s floor is dropping along with his ceiling.

FROM THE BARGAIN BIN

Joique Bell vTB ($5,500 DraftKings, $6,800 FanDuel) – Bell didn’t quite snap out of his season-long funk with his big Thanksgiving, but he scored twice and maintained his stranglehold on the Lion backfield.  He boasts strong volume, notching 17+ looks (carries + targets) in six of his last seven games.  The return of Reggie Bush shouldn’t scare you away; Bush is more of a threat to Theo Riddick’s pass-game role than to Bell’s.  And the fact that Bell is a major part of the gameplan inside the 10 boosts his floor.  Play him in cash leagues as a rock-solid RB2 type – and note that on FanDuel, he comes at the #19 RB salary.

Ryan Mathews vNE ($4,700 DraftKings, $7,100 FanDuel) – Mathews’ return to the lineup has been productive and, more importantly, predictable.  He’s averaging 5.4 yards/rush and being kept fresh by Branden Oliver, who’s not a threat to his workload.  Mathews led the NFL in fantasy points/snap last year and is still the Bolts’ premier runner, so he’s drastically underpriced on DraftKings.  He makes for a fine RB2 play in any DFS format and provides major salary relief.

Frank Gore @OAK ($4,800 DraftKings, $5,700 FanDuel) – Yes, Gore’s production has fallen off drastically – but he’s been predictable and a usable asset with the aid of game flow.  When the 49ers win, Gore posts reasonable RB2 numbers as the 49ers seek to control the ball and keep Colin Kaepernick from throwing the game away.  Gore has seen 19.6 looks/game and in 49er victories – and this week will almost certainly be one.  Plug him in as a GPP RB2 and enjoy the garbage numbers.

Latavius Murray vSF ($3,800 DraftKings, $6,700 FanDuel) – The matchup is tastier than it seems for the talented Murray; San Fran has been gashed for 136+ ground yards in three of its last four.  While Tony Sparano is likely to rotate Murray with his two dead-on-their-feet veteran backs, the upside here is monstrous for such a cheap DraftKings price tag.  The chief concern is game flow, as the Raiders are an abomination who could fall out of this game quickly, but their opponents are also in turmoil and Murray plays at home.  Murray’s dirt-cheap DraftKings cost makes him a great play over there, though I’d steer clear on FanDuel, where he holds the #23 salary.

WIDE RECEIVERS

HIGH-DOLLAR PLAY: Demaryius Thomas vBUF ($8,800 DraftKings, $9,400 FanDuel) – Simply put, Thomas is a matchup-proof sure bet for WR1 numbers.  Last week’s 18.3-point DraftKings performance was his first dip below 20.3 since his trip to Sherman Island in Week 3.  He leads the league in targets and sits second in catches, yards, and touchdowns.  The Buffalo secondary is coming together nicely, but no defense presents much challenge for the Peyton-to-Demaryius connection.  On FanDuel, Thomas holds the highest salary, so I recommend looking for similar yet cheaper options there.  But no wideout in football has a better situation, more security, or a higher floor.

FADE WITH GLORY: Golden Tate vTB ($7,500 DraftKings, $7,800 FanDuel) – FanDuel has the right book on Tate: he’s a fantasy WR2 when Calvin Johnson is in the lineup full-time.  I’ll refer you to the following breakdown:

 GmTgtRecReYdReTDDKPt/Gm
w/out Johnson511.87.8119.80.625.8
w/ Johnson78.15.976.70.014.3

With Megatron healthy and dominating scoring opportunities, Tate is a major fade on DraftKings (#11 salary), and a risky proposition on FanDuel (#17).

FROM THE BARGAIN BIN

Odell Beckham, Jr. @TEN ($7,700 DraftKings, $8,200 FanDuel) – Possibly the most gifted receiver in the greatest WR class in history (I’m calling it), Beckham has emerged as the sheer backbone of the Giant passing game.  He’s caught 6+ passes and racked up 90+ yards in each of his last five, shredding three very good pass defenses (IND, SEA, and SF) in the process.  The matchup is sexy, too: Tennessee has been gutted by Mark Sanchez and Ryan Fitzpatrick over the last two weeks.  Beckham will showcase his wares against starting CBs who have allowed the third- and fourth-most yards/coverage snap in football according to Pro Football Focus.  Play him at his reasonable salary (#10 DraftKings, #12 FanDuel) and salivate when you see him lined up against Blidi Wreh-Wilson, who’s allowed six TDs and the league’s third-worst YAC total.

Jarvis Landry vBAL ($5,600 DraftKings, $6,900 FanDuel) – He’s in the process of usurping Mike Wallace as Ryan Tannehill’s go-to guy.  Landry has won the target battle 27-22 over the last three weeks, catching three TDs in the process.  He’s no game-breaker, but he’s a steady, versatile chain mover who excels in the red zone.  The Raven secondary is a trainwreck, especially in the slot, from where the ho-hum Eddie Royal posted a 9-81-1 line last week.

Stedman Bailey @WAS ($4,300 DraftKings, $6,300 FanDuel) – Bailey’s coming-out party is in full swing, as he’s turned a team-high 15 targets into a 12-189-1 line over the last two weeks.  An absurdly productive college receiver, he’s already the Rams’ most reliable target by a mile, and QB Shaun Hill has surely taken notice.  What makes Bailey a studly play is the fact that DraftKings has yet to notice or appreciate his breakout.  He’ll cost you less than non-entities the likes of Eddie Royal, Malcom Floyd, and Doug Baldwin.  Bailey will adorn all of my DraftKings lineups, both cash and GPP, end of story.

Charles Johnson vNYJ ($4,300 DraftKings, $6,000) – Like Bailey, I’ve written quite a bit on Johnson already, so I’ll keep this brief.  He’s a big, freakishly athletic prospect who seems to have grabbed the reins as Minnesota’s WR1.  Johnson has drawn 22 targets over the last three weeks, and likely would’ve seen more had the Vikings not shifted into protect-the-lead mode last Sunday.  He’s a dice roll, but the matchup raises his floor considerably, and that price tag is very pretty.  I prefer the similarly-priced Bailey, but Johnson makes for an intriguing GPP option.

TIGHT ENDS

HIGH-DOLLAR PLAY: Jimmy Graham vCAR ($6,500 DraftKings, $7,100 FanDuel) – Last week’s target-free effort was eye-catching, and Graham’s targets have indeed been down since his Week 5 injury.  He’s still an elite play because his price tag reflects that drop in usage.  He presents the same realistic upside as Rob Gronkowski, but with a $1,500 DraftKings discount.  The Panthers do a solid job of containing TEs, but with the position in such dice-roll status this season, Graham is a potential week-winner every time he laces up.  Besides, is there really a matchup or cold streak that will make you doubt Graham’s very real 9-100-2 chances?

FADE WITH GLORY: Coby Fleener @CLE ($5,700 DraftKings, $6,400 FanDuel) – Fleener has been on a tear lately, racking up 366 yards and three TDs over the last four weeks.  But his dud against Jacksonville – without Dwayne Allen in pads – proved that he’s a wildly limited player and an extremely inconsistent fantasy option.  Allen is likely to return this week, rendering Fleener and his outrageous salaries far less relevant; he’s a TE2 again.

FROM THE BARGAIN BIN

Jordan Reed vSTL ($4,600 DraftKings, $5,300 FanDuel) – Examine this chart, please:

QuarterbackGmTgtRecReYdReTDDKPt
C. McCoy29.08.581.50.017.7
Someone else45.34.046.30.08.6

Reed is a gifted TE with supreme athleticism, but only Colt McCoy has been willing and able to harness it this year.  What that chart indicates is that Reed has produced well on a per-target basis with all three Washington QBs, but only one has consistently given him that opportunity.  With McCoy likely to start down the stretch, Reed is a surefire TE1 with weekly top-three upside.  Enjoy what will likely be the last week you can snag him at these salaries (#10 DraftKings, #14 FanDuel).

Delanie Walker vNYG ($4,200 DraftKings, $5,400 FanDuel) – A former WR and KR, Walker has become a dangerous big-play TE who excelled with Jake Locker under center.  Zach Mettenberger doesn’t share quite the same affinity for him as Locker did, but he’s targeted Walker nine times in two of the three full games they’ve played together.  (In one of the others, Walker saw five targets before being bounced with a third-quarter concussion.)  Walker’s price tags have submarined, making him a fantastic value play in any format as a playmaker with solid volume.  Walker will fight for the target lead on a team that’s averaged 272.2 passing yards and just lost Justin Hunter.  (Also note that the Giants have allowed 57 yards/game and seven TDs to tight ends this year.)

Charles Clay vBAL ($3,400 DraftKings, $5,200 FanDuel) – Clay has rebounded nicely from a horrendous early-season slump and is definitely seeing targets – 23 over his last three games, more so than any other non-Gronk tight end.  His price tag is low because he’s not doing much with his looks, topping 58 yards only once all year with a RB-like 8.9 YPR.  But DraftKings is a full-PPR platform, so a 6-50 game will return you a ton of value.  And there’s plenty of TD upside; Clay has seen seven targets from inside the 10 over his last three games.

DEFENSES

Saints vCAR ($3,000 DraftKings, $4,800 FanDuel) – The Panther offense has bottomed out, scoring just 14.5 points over their last six.  Pro Football Focus grades their pass blocking line as the league’s worst, so they’re sitting ducks against a defense that harassed Cam Newton into an atrocious 10-28-151-0-1 line a month ago.  And the Saints are hosting, making them my top play in either format – there’s a strong top-three likelihood at a comically low salary (#15 DraftKings, #21 FanDuel).

Vikings vNYJ ($3,400 DraftKings, $5,000 FanDuel) – Hosting Geno Smith and the Jets has become a huge weekly boon to fantasy defenses.  Yes, he of the 11 INTs and seven fumbles in just seven full games and chunks of three others.   You don’t need me to elaborate on the turnover potential in this one, which features Vegas’ lowest-scoring projection of the week.

Giants @TEN ($3,100 DraftKings, $5,000 FanDuel) – While I’m typically loath to start a defense on the road – especially that of a bad team – the Titans present a sexy matchup for the 14th-salaried defense, regardless of their starting QB.  They’ve coughed up 14 turnovers and absorbed 19 sacks over their last six, making them eminently targetable.

Lead photo credit: “Eddie Lacy” by Kyle Engman is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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