It may be championship week, but every week is championship week when DraftKings is concerned. Time to go get your crowns and earn your cash!
All values are subject to DraftKings’ prices and scoring format. All ownership data is courtesy of Pro Football Focus.
Fire ‘em up
Justin Herbert vs. ATL, $6,800 (Projected ownership: 4.9 percent)
It’s not the first time I’ve put Herbert as my “fire ‘em up” hero. It won’t be the last as long as people keep underusing the rookie signal caller.
Atlanta’s defense has made big strides in recent weeks, as has the team under Raheem Morris. But those improvements have come in the run defense. Since Week 8 the Falcons have allowed the second-least amount of points to the running back. But thankfully they’ve yet to improve significantly in the secondary, where they remain a bottom half unit in that same span. Herbert certainly looked like a rookie last week but that was due to the sheer amount of pressure Bill Belichick’s Patriots were able to summon, constantly affecting Herbert’s play. The Falcons have done a good job of pressuring the quarterback themselves, but have not registered many sacks. They cannot finish plays and the Chargers can make them pay with quick throws to Austin Ekeler and Keenan Allen before hitting Mike Williams over the top. He’s well worth the price tag and should be seen as a must-play in all formats.
D’Andre Swift vs. GB, $6,500 (Projected ownership: 3.6 percent)
Green Bay cannot stop the run. Swift is a very good running back.
It’s pretty simple, and this ownership percentage will certainly rise when Swift is officially active. Regardless, I’m locking in Swift. He’s game script proof thanks to his usage in the passing game and we saw how toothless the Lions offense was without him. Before his injury, Swift broke out the last time he played, logging a season-high 73 percent of snaps while finishing as the RB5 in standard and half-PPR formats. Meanwhile Green Bay has allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to running backs. With no Kenny Golladay (hip) the Lions will force-feed Swift on the ground and through the air to the tune of a top fantasy finish.
Allen Lazard @ DET, $5,000 (Projected ownership: 4.2 percent)
It’s easy to forget the early season success Lazard had. While he’s been slow to produce in recent weeks, he’s been working back from a devastating core injury that he beat the timetable on. His snaps have been rising over the past three weeks, logging 69 percent in Week 13, and now, against a weak Detroit defense, he’s ready to strike. The Lions allow the eighth-most fantasy points to wide receivers and Lazard has the ceiling I love to see in DFS. The Packers have been trying to find a complement to Davante Adams and with Lazard seemingly ready to jump into the high 70s in terms of snap count, he has a real opportunity to shine in a divisional tilt.
Plus it was his birthday on Friday. And Detroit’s about to host his birthday bash.
Jonnu Smith @ JAX, $3,900 (Projected ownership: 1.4 percent)
Ugh. I don’t want to take the Smith train any more than you guys do, but hey, it’s Jacksonville.
Smith has fallen off the map with a healthy A.J. Brown, but we all know what matters to tight ends in fantasy football — touchdowns and matchups. The Jaguars allow almost a touchdown a game (0.8) to tight ends, pretty much guaranteeing a solid floor with an athletic tight end who does offer some ceiling. The Titans missed Smith last week when he missed the game with a knee injury but has since practiced in full. He should be all systems go — in real life and in fantasy football.
San Francisco 49ers vs. WAS, $2,700 (Projected ownership: 6.5 percent)
It’s a testament to defensive coordinator Robert Saleh about how well this unit has performed despite sweeping injuries to their defensive line and secondary. They face off against a Washington team that just beat the previously undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers. But the 49ers will not sleepwalk into this game like the Steelers did before, and without Antonio Gibson (toe) this offense will not score nearly enough points to hurt those playing the 49ers DST. Smith has thrown two interceptions in his last three games, and that trend could easily continue against a 49ers unit that has forced 1.5 interceptions per game over their past three weeks.
Colder than ice
Matt Ryan @ LAC, $5,700 (Projected ownership: 7.1 percent)
Ryan cannot be played without Julio Jones. Plain and simple.
Even without his star receiver out, Ryan’s clearly lost a step. Ryan hasn’t been inside the Top 10 since Week 6, and while the matchup looks good, he’s had good matchups in the past. Recently, Ryan shouldn’t even be owned in redraft formats, finishing as the QB26, QB17, and QB26 again in the past three weeks. Factor in the addition of Todd Gurley, who should steal red-zone touches, and there’s plenty of reasons to avoid Ryan despite a reasonable price.
Leonard Fournette vs. MIN, $4,500 (Projected ownership: 6.1 percent)
Hold up, why are people playing Fournette? Sure, the price is attractive but Fournette is the clear backup to Ronald Jones. People may be overreacting to Fournette leading the team in snaps, which has been due to the Buccaneers trailing in recent weeks. That won’t be the case against Minnesota, where Jones should be involved early and often. Also, remember what Fournette is and always has been — a running back who has succeeded BECAUSE of volume, not in spite of it. That hasn’t changed and it won’t this weekend against the Vikings.
Breshad Perriman vs. SEA, $3,900 (Projected ownership: 6.9 percent)
I originally liked Perriman this week. Seattle allows over 300 passing yards per game on average and the Jets will be likely without Denzel Mims (personal) and Jamison Crowder (calf).
So why is he a cold pick? Well, he simply has no connection with Sam Darnold. We have seen plenty of weeks with and without Crowder and Mims, with and without Darnold. Perriman’s best games have come with Joe Flacco, who loves to throw his deep ball. Meanwhile Darnold keeps it short and sweet, a perfect match for Crowder. Perriman’s ownership keeps shooting up as a cheap option in a good matchup but this has “trap play” written all over it. Consider Braxton Berrios as a sneaky option with Crowder out, but Perriman is set to struggle and disappoint DFS owners in Week 14.
Dalton Schultz @ CIN, $3,500 (Projected ownership: 3.2 percent)
The ceiling has not been there for Schultz — plain and simple. If you want a steady six-to-eight points a week, he’s your man. But Schultz hasn’t been a top five option since Week 4 with Dak Prescott. He simply lacks the ceiling to be a reliable DFS play, and owners shouldn’t be enticed by the matchup. Schultz has scored just once since that aforementioned Week 4 tilt — counting on that to change would be wishful thinking.
Cincinnati Bengals vs. DAL, $2,300 (Projected ownership: 5.6 percent)
However, that doesn’t mean you should be looking to play Cincinnati this week. The Cowboys have looked better offensively over the past couple weeks as they begin to find their groove with Andy Dalton. Dallas has struggled with injuries to their offense line which has led to constant pressure on Dalton. Luckily for them the Bengals rank dead last in pressures (78) and sacks (13). Regardless of the Cowboys’ faults, the Bengals simply have more. Don’t look to them as your cheap sleeper option this week.
Tua Tagovailoa vs. KC, $5,400 (Projected ownership: 2.1 percent)
We haven’t seen the ceiling for Tagovailoa yet, which has prevented him from being a DFS darling. But it could easily come against the Chiefs who could force Tagovailoa to play from behind for the first time all year. It’s feasible that the Chiefs can overpower a normally stout Dolphins defense, which will lead to immense passing volume for the rookie. At an incredibly cheap price tag with a low ownership he’s worth a shot. The offense also gets dynamic weapon Malcolm Perry (chest) back, who is a DFS dart-throw himself.
Todd Gurley II @ LAC, $4,800 (Projected ownership: 3.4 percent)
Gurley has dealt with some late-season maintenance, no surprise given his ailing knee issues. But he’s off the injury report and practicing in full, and head coach Raheem Morris expects him to resume his normal workload. That workload could do wonders against a Chargers defense that was run over to the tune of 165 rushing yards and two scores by the Patriots. Gurley could be in for a multi-touchdown day at a cheap DFS price with an even lower ownership. His production is entirely touchdown dependent, but hey — that gets the job done in this matchup within this high-scoring offense.
Tim Patrick @ CAR, $4,200 (Projected ownership: 3.7 percent)
One of the most slept on players this year, Patrick is quietly having a terrific season as the Courtland Sutton fill-in for Drew Lock. Patrick just scored two touchdowns against a tough Kansas City secondary and while that’s likely not to replicate, the production will. The Denver wideout saw six or more targets in all but one game from Weeks 6 to Week 11. Week 12 was the game where the Broncos didn’t have a quarterback and last week, well, he did well. Patrick can take advantage of a weak Carolina secondary that can certainly be beaten. At a cheap price tag and a low projected ownership, why not take the shot on Patrick?
Jordan Akins @ CHI, $2,900 (Projected ownership: 4.1 percent)
It didn’t happen last week but that was against a tough Colts defense. Consider Akins a post-hype sleeper against the Bears, who allow the third-most fantasy points to the tight end. Akins should man the slot and could function as the No. 2 option in this passing game where Deshaun Watson always finds a way to get the ball out to his guys. Chicago allowed both T.J. Hockenson and Robert Tonyan to be top seven options over the past couple weeks, a trend Akins can continue as the volume voided by Will Fuller’s suspension.
I’ll tell you what — it won’t be Chad Hansen again. Not against Chicago.
Arizona Cardinals @ NYG, $2,700 (Projected ownership: 6.7 percent)
Danny Dimes is back! And so are his many fumbles!
The Giants may be rolling but they face a tough test against the Cardinals this week. It’s not necessarily a top defense but the Giants can turn the ball over and score a finite number of points — perfect for a cheap DST. It’s not without its risk — the Giants offense is playing well — but if Jones isn’t totally healthy off of his hamstring issue, this could be a reckoning for the Giants as the Cardinals face a must-win game to end their slump.