This article is part of our DraftKings NFL series.
The first thing that stands out about Week 12's 10-game slate is that only one game has a total higher than 50. That means the Buccaneers-Colts matchup will certainly be a popular target. Aside from that, I expect the three afternoon games to garner the most attention. MIN-SF, LAC-DEN and LAR-GB have the next three highest totals and feature appealing options on every team. Targeting any of the other six matchups would be an easy way to get some leverage. As things stand, there isn't much for obvious value like we've seen throughout the season. The chalky options don't look quite as good this week, partly because the games themselves aren't as appealing. That makes it a good slate to take some chances on. Roster the best chalk in cash-games and get different in tournaments. Good Luck!
Note: All prices listed come from DraftKings, but most of the logic can be applied to other sites across the DFS industry. Discussion is limited to players from the "main slate" of games kicking off at 1 p.m., 4:05 p.m. and 4:25 p.m. EST on Sunday. The strategy below is meant for large-field tournaments, where payouts typically are limited to ~20 percent of lineups, with the vast majority concentrated at the very top.
|44.5||New York Jets||21||Houston Texans||23.5|
|44||Tennessee Titans||18.5||New England Patriots||25.5|
|45.5||Philadelphia Eagles||24.5||New York Giants||21|
|45||Pittsburgh Steelers||20.5||Cincinnati Bengals||24.5|
|53||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||28||Indianapolis Colts||25|
|42||Carolina Panthers||22||Miami Dolphins||20|
|46||Atlanta Falcons||24||Jacksonville Jaguars||22|
|48||Los Angeles Chargers||25.25||Denver Broncos||22.75|
|47||Los Angeles Rams||24||Green Bay Packers||23|
|49||Minnesota Vikings||22.75||San Francisco 49ers||26.25|
These are the players with the best projections relative to their salaries — good plays both for cash games and large-field tournaments. While we don't want our GPP lineups to look like cash-game lineups top to bottom, there's nothing wrong with using a few chalky plays. These players, along with a couple passing-game stacks, tend to form the core that remains fairly consistent throughout my lineups.
- RB James Robinson vs. ATL ($6,200)
Robinson has fallen victim to negative gamescripts lately. The Jaguars have gotten down early against teams with good defenses and have been forced to play catch-up through the passing game. He's also been banged up but seems to be trending in the right direction, health wise. Despite all this, he still has seven TDs in his last seven games. Sunday's matchup against Atlanta is a much better spot. The Falcons were awful against the Patriots on Thursday and have now been outscored 68-3 in their last two games. The Jags have a good chance to play in a neutral to positive gamescript and that bodes well for Robinson, who's also affordably priced.
- WR Brandin Cooks vs. NYJ ($5,800)
Cooks drew only three targets last week as the Texans played with a comfortable lead but saw 14 the week before when Tyrod Taylor returned from injury. He had 21 targets in Weeks 1 and 2 with Taylor behind center. Cook's salary has dropped to less than $6K and Sunday's matchup at home against the Jets is about as good as it gets. There are no clear-cut options in the mid-range at WR, and I can understand not being thrilled about rostering Cooks. If that's the case, consider Jaylen Waddle ($5,900) or Jerry Jeudy ($5,500).
Other Cash-Game Options
QB Tom Brady at IND ($7,600)
QB Jalen Hurts at NYG ($7,300)
QB Justin Herbert at DEN ($6,600)
QB Cam Newton at MIA ($5,600)
QB Tyrod Taylor vs. NYJ ($5,300)
RB Christian McCaffrey at MIA ($9,000)
RB Leonard Fournette at IND ($6,800)
RB Saquon Barkley vs. PHI ($6,300)
RB Darrell Henderson at GB ($5,800)
RB Myles Gaskin [LOGO vs. CAR ($5,600)
WR Cooper Kupp at GB ($9,600)
WR Davante Adams vs. LAR ($8,600)
WR Deebo Samuel vs. MIN ($7,900)
WR Keenan Allen at DEN ($7,400)
WR Chris Godwin at IND ($7,000)
WR Diontae Johnson at CIN ($6,600)
WR Jaylen Waddle vs. CAR ($5,900)
WR Michael Pittman vs. TB ($5,600)
WR Jerry Jeudy vs. LAC ($5,500)
WR Tee Higgins vs. PIT ($5,400)
WR Marvin Jones vs. ATL ($5,300)
WR Nick Westbrook-Ikhine at NE ($4,000)
TE Dallas Goedert at NYG ($4,800)
TE Rob Gronkowski at IND ($4,400)
TE Pat Freiermuth at CIN ($4,300)
TE Dan Arnold vs. ATL ($4,000)
D/ST Houston Texans vs. NYJ ($2,300)
D/ST Jacksonville Jaguars vs ATL ($2,200)
Stacks are the centerpiece of tournament lineups, seeking to take advantage of positive correlations between players. It rarely makes sense to use a quarterback without one or two of his pass catchers, even if the player in question scores a decent portion of his fantasy points with his legs. Ideally, a stack also includes a pass catcher from the other side of the game, hoping to take advantage of a back-and-forth shootout. (Implied team totals are listed in parentheses.)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (28) at Indianapolis Colts (25)
Tampa Bay has the highest implied total on the slate. Tom Brady ($7,600) is the top projected quarterback. We've already seen him put up 30-plus fantasy points five times in 10 games this season. The Bucs likely will rely on the passing game against the Colts, who are one of the better teams in the league at stopping the run. Mike Evans ($7,200) returned to practice Friday after missing a couple days to rest a back injury. He's in a great spot against an Indianapolis secondary that struggles on the outside. Chris Godwin ($7,000) averages 22 DK points in five games without Antonio Brown. With Brown ruled out again, Godwin will continue to see increased target share. Rob Gronkowski ($4,400) stands to benefit as well. He's drawn eight targets in three of five games this season and caught multiple TDs twice in that span. Leonard Fournette ($6,800) is a viable option at running back based on his receiving upside. He caught 14 of 15 targets the last two games.
The Colts success on the ground in recent weeks has limited Carson Wentz ($5,800). Nevertheless he's still put up 20 fantasy points in three of his last six games. There's a good chance he'll have to throw more against the Bucs, who have arguably the league's best run defense. There's also a decent chance the Colts are playing from behind. For those reason's I'll fade the red-hot Jonathan Taylor ($9,100), especially after his bump in salary. Of course he's still viable after scoring five TDs last week and topping 20 DK points for the eighth consecutive game. I'd rather take a chance on Michael Pittman ($5,600), who's seen a significant drop in salary after a couple down games. He has considerable ceiling potential at that price as we've seen him eclipse 20 fantasy points four times already this season.
- Favorite Stack: QB Brady + WR Godwin + WR Pittman + TE Gronkowski
Los Angeles Rams (24) at Green Bay Packers (23)
The Rams have struggled in consecutive games with losses to the 49ers and Titans. Matthew Stafford ($7,100) has thrown four interceptions with only two touchdowns in that span. Fresh off a bye, expect him to fair better against a Packers team that was torched by Kirk Cousins last week and that's still missing their top two defenders. Cooper Kupp ($9,600) has established himself as the best WR in DFS. He's drawn double-digit targets in all but one game (in which he had nine) and has topped 20 fantasy points in eight of 10 while putting up 30-plus four times. The inflated salary is a steep price to pay, but it means getting Kupp at considerably lower rostership than we're used to seeing. It's the first time this season that he can be considered somewhat of a leverage play. Van Jefferson ($4,900) stepped into the No. 2 WR role in the absence of Robert Woods. Jefferson has seen at least six targets in four consecutive weeks and has big play upside as Stafford's main deep threat. Odell Beckham ($5,000) only played 15 snaps in his Rams debut but should be more familiar with the offense after the bye week. He's worth the gamble based on his cheap salary but I prefer Jefferson. Darrell Henderson ($5,800) has seen a significant drop in salary after failing to reach 10 fantasy points in three of his last four games. Now he looks like a bit of a bargain when you factor in the receiving upside. Tyler Higbee ($4,200) is the cheapest he's been in seven weeks. Likely because he's only scored 12-plus DK points once this season and has yet to top 15. He's viable in large-field GPPs but I'd rather roster other TEs, even in stacks.
I was a bit surprised to see this matchup with only a 47-point total. It probably makes sense when you consider that the Packers are one of the slowest teams in the league and consistently fall below average in terms of number of plays run. The plan has been to get a lead and then slow it down with the running game. Usually that doesn't bode well for stacks but that plan goes out the window if it's the Rams who go ahead early. We saw Aaron Rodgers ($6,900) throw for 385 yards and four TDs last week as the Packers played catch-up against the Vikings. Davante Adams ($8,600) caught seven balls for 115 yards and two scores. Long thought of as the top WR in DFS, it's hard to believe he's $1,000 cheaper than Kupp. Jalen Ramsey hasn't shadowed WRs. Adams had nine catches for 66 yards and a TD when the two teams met in the playoffs last season. Marquez Valdes-Scantling ($4,100) had four catches for 123 yards and a TD last week. His 10 targets were just as encouraging. Aaron Jones returned to practice this week and is listed as questionable. If he misses, AJ Dillon ($5,900) would rank as one of the top point-per-dollar running backs on the slate. If Jones plays, I wouldn't have much interest in either player.
- Favorite Packers Stack: QB Rodgers + WR Adams + RB Henderson and/or WR Jefferson
- Favorite Rams Stack: QB Stafford + WR Kupp + WR Valdes-Scantling and/or WR Jefferson
Other Stacks to Consider
- RB Christian McCaffrey at MIA ($9,000)
In two weeks since resuming a full workload, McCaffrey has 17 catches and is averaging better than 6.5 yards per carry. He has a higher floor than any player on the slate and the Panthers have a favorable matchup against the Dolphins. People will roster Jonathan Taylor ($9,100) for the same salary and there are expensive WRs who will garner significant rostership too. That will lead to McCaffrey being less popular than he should be.
- WR Deebo Samuel vs. MIN ($7,900)
Samuel has put up at least 25 fantasy points in three of his last five games. Already one of the top pass-catchers in the league, he's now been featured as a running back in consecutive games. He had eight carries for 79 yards and a touchdown last week and five carries for 36 yards and a TD the week before. A true dual-threat, he has big ceiling potential in a matchup against the Vikings, who have allowed the league's fourth-most fantasy points to WRs.
Fading the Field
Every week we see at least one or two players who are popular without the backing of a top point-per-dollar projection. Recency bias is often to blame, but in some cases it even makes sense to fade a player with a strong projection, particularly when there are good alternatives at the same position and price range.
- RB Jonathan Taylor vs. TB ($9,100)
Apologies to anyone who read this article last week when I recommended fading Taylor and he went off for five TDs and 56.4 DK points. Oops. He's been incredible this season, topping 20 fantasy points in eight consecutive games. I was fully prepared to back him this week but the expected return of elite run-stopper Vita Vea and the fact that Taylor's salary is more than $9K has changed my mind. The Colts face what is arguably the league's toughest run defense and likely will have to lean on the passing game more than in recent weeks. If you still believe in Taylor, don't listen to me. But I'd rather get maximum exposure to Christian McCaffrey ($9,000) for the same salary.
The Smash Spot
(Players in favorable positions to significantly outperform their salary)
- WR Chris Godwin at IND ($7,000)
Antonio Brown will miss another game. Godwin has averaged 22 DK points in games when Brown sits and he's scored three TDs in the last four weeks. The Buccaneers have the highest implied team total on the slate in a matchup against the Colts that has shootout potential. Indianapolis has been great against the run this season, meaning Tampa Bay likely will feature a pass-heavy attack. Godwin has a high floor in this spot with considerable upside to hit a ceiling.
The Bargain Bin
QB Carson Wentz vs. TB ($5,800)
QB Cam Newton at MIA ($5,600)
QB Trevor Lawrence vs. ATL ($5,400)
QB Tyrod Taylor vs. NYJ ($5,300)
QB Teddy Bridgewater vs. LAC ($5,300)
RB Myles Gaskin vs. CAR ($5,600)
RB Elijah Mitchell vs. MIN ($5,400)
RB Miles Sanders at NYG ($5,100)
RB Dontrell Hilliard at NE ($4,600), if McNichols is out
RB Ty Johnson at HOU ($4,300)
WR Van Jefferson at GB ($4,900)
WR Jamison Crowder at HOU ($4,700)
WR Laviska Shenault vs. ATL ($4,400)
WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling vs. LAR ($4,100)
WR Nick Westbrook-Ikhine at NE ($4,000)
WR Chester Rogers at NE ($3,500)
TE Evan Engram vs. PHI ($3,800)
TE Jared Cook at DEN ($3,000)
TE Donald Parham at DEN ($2,700)
- RB Aaron Jones vs. LAR
Jones is a game-time decision after sitting out last week with a knee injury. If he misses, AJ Dillon ($5,900) becomes one of the better running backs on the slate from a point-per-dollar perspective and would make for a solid option in both cash-games and tournaments. If Jones plays, I wouldn't have much interest in either.
Nothing to be overly concerned about. It will be a little cold in Green Bay, but that's nothing new.