Here’s hoping that you all made it to your semifinals! The good thing is that DFS and DraftKings cares not — it’s here for you all the same. Here are the players to fire up and cool down as you set your lineup for Sunday’s slate.
All values are subject to DraftKings’ prices and scoring format. All ownership data is courtesy of Pro Football Focus.
Fire ‘em up
Jalen Hurts @ ARI, $5,900 (Projected ownership: 7 percent)
He could very well be a much higher owned player, but this seems like a no-brainer. Hurts has a high ceiling and a high floor with his rushing ability in a great matchup against the Cardinals, who allow the eighth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks. Hurts played well last week against the Saints, who have been dominant on defense, finishing as the QB13. He will smash that finish this week.
Kenyan Drake vs. PHI, $5,500 (Projected ownership: 9.1 percent)
It might be a higher owned play, but Drake has a ridiculously high ceiling this week. The matchup isn’t perfect, but Chase Edmonds is a game-time decision, who seems to lean on the inactive side. Drake should have goal line work and receiving work as the sole bell cow with Edmonds out. Last season Drake saw a vast majority of the snaps and thrived, finishing as the RB1 several times. If Edmonds is out Drake could see that once again — the possibility is worth the price.
Terry McLaurin vs. SEA, $6,600 (Projected ownership: 7.4 percent)
I do not buy three poor weeks of production in a row for McLaurin. It’s a matter of talent.
But the return of Dwayne Haskins actually helps McLaurin a great deal. Alex Smith loved to dump it down to J.D. McKissic, but Haskins has a long history of hypertargeting McLaurin dating back to Ohio State. They face Seattle who allow about 295 passing yards per game, which leads the league. That leaves a lot of room for McLaurin to do his thing, which combines fantasy production with real-life “wow” plays. After burning owners for two weeks with a seemingly expensive price tag, he should also be a relatively lowly owned guy.
Irv Smith vs. CHI, $3,600 (Projected ownership: 2.9 percent)
Chicago doesn’t allow much to the wide receiver, running back or quarterback. But they ooze points to the tight end, something Jordan Akins almost took advantage of last week when he dropped the easiest touchdown imaginable. Smith is a much more talented player and has the opportunity yet again with Kyle Rudolph (foot) inactive. He stepped up last week when he caught all four of his targets for 63 yards and a score. Smith can repeat that this week against the Bears.
New England Patriots @ MIA, $3,000 (Projected ownership: 5.8 percent)
Miami is simply out of weapons. Mike Gesicki, Jakeem Grant and Myles Gaskin are all set to miss Sunday’s game against a formidable Patriots defense. DeVante Parker could miss as well, or at the very least be limited by his hamstring injury that forced him out of last week’s game. The Patriots will not be beaten by Mack Hollins and Lynn Bowden, which makes New England an attractive play. They could be a highly owned option, but you avoid paying a premium for a great matchup. Pick your poison.
Colder than ice
Jared Goff vs. NYJ, $6,300 (Projected ownership: 6.9 percent)
Special shoutout to Matt Ryan, who is still expected to be played in over five percent of lineups. I can’t choose him every week, people. Stop.
Goff is the unlucky recipient of the “Colder than ice” award as he faces off against the Jets who have continued to look as bad as ever. The Rams defense will not take this day off and should smother the Jets offense (if you can even call it that) to ruin the game script for Goff. Factor in Cam Akers’ emergence, which involves a heavy rushing scheme, and Goff should be viewed in the same vein as Baker Mayfield. He needs extreme efficiency to succeed for fantasy in negative game scripts, and most of the time that will not happen.
Since Akers took a larger role three weeks ago, the Rams have faced the 49ers, the Cardinals and the Patriots. The 49ers and Patriots have the most comparable offenses to the Jets in terms of points per game, and Goff averaged 28 attempts for a mere 10.6 fantasy points in those games. It simply won’t happen for Goff this week as the offense changes around him to accommodate Akers’ breakout.
Leonard Fournette @ ATL, $4,500 (Projected ownership: 11.9 percent)
The matchup is misleading here. On the season Atlanta has allowed the ninth-most fantasy points to running backs, but since Week 8 Atlanta has allowed the third least. The unit has improved by a great margin and you, as a savvy fantasy owner, are now aware of that. Despite Ronald Jones’ absence (finger) Fournette is a trap play this week you should avoid at all cost. Factor in the possibility that he splits reps with LeSean McCoy and Ke’Shawn Vaughn, particularly on passing downs, and the cheap price tag becomes even less appealing.
Tyler Lockett @ WAS, $6,700 (Projected ownership: 7.3 percent)
Don’t get me wrong; I won’t blame anyone for playing Lockett. He still possesses a high ceiling that could win you some DFS money.
But Washington is a tough matchup, a team that has steadily been a fortress against fantasy wide receivers all year. They’ve allowed the seventh fewest fantasy points to wide receivers. Meanwhile Lockett has played a clear second fiddle to D.K. Metcalf. Lockett hasn’t surpassed 70 yards since his blow-up game in Week 7 against the Cardinals and has scored just once in that span. He’s not worth the high price tag that comes with his reputation.
Jordan Akins @ HOU, $2,800 (Projected ownership: 3.6 percent)
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, though… that’s not going to happen.
Akins should have been a top play last week but couldn’t catch a wide-open touchdown, as mentioned above with my Irv Smith excitement. He won’t get a second chance to redeem himself against the Colts who allow the third least amount of fantasy points to the tight end. Akins played them two weeks ago, without Will Fuller, and recorded just two receptions for 10 yards. His snaps also dipped by about 20 percent last week, which could be a sign that the Texans have simply seen enough. Don’t buy into the cheap price tag again — let another hopeful fantasy owner be let down.
Baltimore Ravens vs. JAX, $3,800 (Projected ownership: 7.2 percent)
This Ravens team was just destroyed by the Cleveland Browns, and while the defense could be fueling for a bounce back, it’s not a one-game slip. The Ravens are the DST25 since Week 8 and the Jaguars have switched back to Gardner Minshew, who is the best of a bad group of signal callers in Jacksonville. This isn’t a defense worth paying up for — it’s honestly not even a DST worth playing in your DFS lineups.
Drew Brees vs. KC, $5,900 (Projected ownership: 3.6 percent)
Last week Tua Tagovailoa owned this spot, and delivered, finishing as the QB4. The same logic can be applied to Brees here, who has the same matchup. It’s fair to note that he will be without Michael Thomas, which definitely will hurt the future Hall of Fame quarterback’s ability to move the chains. But Alvin Kamara is capable of making the most of every touch and the Chiefs have struggled to cover the tight end, making Jared Cook an intriguing option. ESPN reporter Diana Russini revealed that the Saints knew all week Brees was going to be good to go. The Saints are ready to set up Brees for success in a potential shootout.
Gus Edwards @ JAX, $4,400 (Projected ownership: 3.3 percent)
The Ravens backfield is always an enigma of sorts, but after 14 weeks of football we can confidently establish that Mark Ingram is out of the rotation. The veteran has been phased out, logging one snap and with no touches in last week’s win against the Browns. It’s just J.K. Dobbins and Edwards, and we all know there’s going to be a split. Edwards could see a lot of garbage time against the Jaguars who have allowed almost 30 points per game to their opponents, fifth worst in the league. That allows for plenty of touchdown upside against a Jaguars defense allowing the third most fantasy points to running backs. He could also see a lot of garbage time work — you love to see it.
Danny Amendola @ TEN, $4,000 (Projected ownership: 1.7 percent)
Amendola has been a sneaky option this season when he’s healthy, especially in PPR formats. He’s been working his way back from a hip injury that caused him to miss two games and should continue to jump up in snaps. He was Detroit’s leading receiver last week and faces off against the Titans, who allow the sixth-most fantasy points to wide receivers. There’s a lot of PPR value here for Amendola who could benefit from the game script when the Titans inevitably take a lead.
Jared Cook vs. KC, $3,400 (Projected ownership: 5.2 percent)
I had this penciled in before the Michael Thomas news, and while his inactive status could rise Cook’s ownership, he’s still a smart play. He’s cheap at $3,400 and plays a Chiefs unit that has struggled to cover the tight end all year. Since their bye the Chiefs have allowed the second most points to the tight end, only behind the Jets. Cook hasn’t performed the way many hoped this year, but the Saints will need to air the ball out, and Cook is the matchup the Saints should be targeting given the Chiefs matchup.
Minnesota Vikings vs. CHI (Projected ownership: 5.8 percent)
Raise your hand if you think Mitch Trubisky goes another week without an interception.
No one? Is this thing on? (Editor’s note: 😑)
The Vikings are not the greatest team, but they have steadily improved as the year has gone on, like many Mike Zimmer teams before them. Since Week 8 the Vikings have allowed just 85.5 total fantasy points per game, the 10th best mark in the league. Meanwhile, Trubisky has turned the ball over seven times in six games. It’s an under-the-radar play that could pay out well relative to their low ownership and low-price tag thanks to the defense’s slow start to the year.