Green Bay Packers at Detroit Lions (Thursday, 8:30 p.m.)
Vegas O/U: 46.5 pts, Packers Total: 24.75 pts, Lions Total: 21.75 pts
The Packers' offense has quickly and alarmingly become a DFS fade outside of a couple decent performances from Eddie Lacy, of all people.
Detroit's defense has played much better this month than they did in September and October – when they were continually battered by opposing passing and running attack – making Green Bay players an even iffier proposition in Week 13. Aaron Rodgers, who usually hovers north of 0.50 fantasy points per drop back, has plummeted to 0.36 points per drop back over his past three contests. That's Mark Sanchez territory.
With Rodgers' DFS price hardly budging despite the massive struggles, I don't see how you can construct a cash lineup with Green Bay's signal caller at the top. Detroit's secondary isn't good, but I can't roll with Rodgers here.
Opposing receivers have reached pay dirt just nine times through 11 weeks against the Lions, who have been massacred by enemy runners for much of 2015. Randall Cobb might make a decent GPP option, but the Packers' struggles have taken their best receiver down a few notches. Cobb has eclipsed 11 PPR points in two of his past eight games. That's remarkably terrible for someone who is supposed to be a lynchpin of a potent offense. Even priced at WR18 on DraftKings, I don't have much interest in the small slot receiver.
Detroit has allowed the tenth fewest rushing yards over the past five weeks, as teams have run the ball an average of 22.7 times over that span. They're not the cake matchup they were half a season ago. But with Green Bay's sudden recommitment to Eddie Lacy as the team's primary ball carrier, and Lacy's DFS price still very appealing, I can plug in the burly runner for cash purposes. He has 45 touches over the past couple games. I don't love Lacy's ceiling, but his floor is what we're going for here.
The Packers give up a shocking number of schedule adjusted fantasy points to quarterbacks (19.4, or fifth most in the NFL). He scored a decent 16.8 fantasy points against these Packers three weeks ago. Stafford isn't going to throw five touchdowns like he did on Turkey Day. Still, he helps create some cap flexibility despite a small salary bump after his Thanksgiving performance. Green Bay has given up almost 21 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks over their past three away contests.
Calvin Johnson saw almost 15 percent of the Lions targets the last time these teams met. That's not too far off from his season-long norm, though we'd like to see top-end receivers get at least 20 percent of their team's targets. I think that could happen here with the Lions' renewed focus on getting the ball to Megatron. He's the fourth most targeted wideout over the past month. I'll use him mostly in GPPs, but I think there's cash game viability here with Mega.
Chicago Bears vs. San Francisco 49ers (Sunday, 1:00 p.m.)
Vegas O/U: 43 pts, Bears Total: 25 pts, 49ers Total: 18 pts
Chicago is among my favorite Week 13 defensive plays, at home against Blaine Gabbert and favored by Vegas (a critical factor in finding good defensive plays). The much improved Chicago defense has scored at least seven fantasy points in each of their past four contests, while recording 30 quarterback hits over that stretch. That marks a vast improvement in pressuring the passer, as the Bears hardly hit the signal caller at all in September and much of October.
I love the Bears' fantasy floor here. They'll be in most of my cash game lineups.
Jay Cutler's once safe floor has vanished in two ugly matchups. Cutty has scored 11.5 and 12.9 fantasy points over the past couple weeks, but I like him to get back to his 20-point ways against a bad Niners' secondary that has allowed 19.6 adjusted fantasy points to quarterbacks this season. They've been particularly bad in road games, giving up at least 19 fantasy points to passers in four of those contests through 11 weeks. Cutler is still priced near the minimum on DraftKings, meaning he'll have to do hardly anything to meet his Week 13 cost. Only three teams have given up more passing yardage than the 49ers.
Alshon Jeffery was very close to having a very big outing against the Packers on Thanksgiving night. Jeffery was the recipient of 11 targets – a fairly normal amount of action when he's active this season. The Niners give up more fantasy production to receivers than all but six teams. Usually we'd have to parse what that means for individual wideouts, but with the Bears, we only talk about Alshon. He's seen 11.3 targets per game this year. Alshon has 14 red zone looks in six games. I'm obsessed with his touchdown potential in this matchup.
The Cutty-Alshon pairing is the fourth best QB-WR combo of Week 13, per the stack generator.
As of this writing, it's hard to say who will see the bulk of Chicago's carries. Whoever gets 15-20 touches could put up a considerable state line though. No team give up more adjusted fantasy points to opposing runners than the Niners and game script – barring total disaster – should shape up nicely for Matt Forte or Jeremy Langford. There's also this little bonus: enemy backs are notching 6.3 receptions per game against San Francisco. That just adds to the potential upside of whichever Bears runner gets the call this week. Keep an eye on that backfield situation.
Sean Draughn, as highlighted last week in this space, has become a veritable PPR cheat code. He's soaking up all of the running back action for San Francisco, hardly doing anything in yardage terms, but posting respectable lines week after week as an uber-cheap option. Avoid Draughn in tournaments, but toss him into your cash lineups if you're looking to go big at wide receiver. He'll be a weekly candidate for double digit targets going forward.
Buffalo Bills vs. Houston Texans (Sunday, 1:00 p.m.)
Vegas O/U: 41.5 pts, Bills Total: 22.25 pts, Texans Total: 19.25 pts
The vast improvement of the Houston defense has been quite the fantasy downer for Brian Hoyer and most of the Texans' offense. They're not finding themselves trailing by multiple scores anymore, so offensive snaps are down, drop backs are down, and opportunity has been squashed for Hoyer. Last week was the game script nightmare scenario for those who went with Hoyer in cash games. I think we'll see a lot more of that in December.
Buffalo allows 13.7 schedule adjusted fantasy points to signal callers. Hoyer is a big red fade this week.
LeSean McCoy has been fairly steady with his recent production, as he's seeing a healthy 19.7 touches per ball game, including a nice 4.3 targets per contest. McCoy's price hasn't jumped enough to feel queasy about going in on the Bills' back, especially with Karlos Williams expected to miss Week 13. I think we've seen enough of Shady's usage in Buffalo to know that he doesn't need to go off for 100 yards and a score on the ground to be a DFS value. I think McCoy's floor looks solid against Houston, which gives up the seventh most adjusted fantasy points to runners.
Sammy Watkins has 15 targets over the past couple weeks. He's clearly Tyrod Taylor's go-to guy, even if his production has been scattershot. Watkins' Week 13 matchup hardly leaves us salivating, but his WR20 price on FanDuel could be tempting for DFS gamers investing heavily in two top-tier pass catcher this week. I'm not wild about Watkins in cash because I don't believe he has anything close to a reliable floor against this much improve Houston defense. He makes for a decent GPP option though because he remains the Bill's lone deep ball threat.
Maybe we'll finally see DeAndre Hopkins' DFS ownership down after a devastating stat line in Week 12. Remember though: Houston packed it in after halftime, feeling no need to score points with the Saints' offense squashed by the suddenly potent Texans' defense. Hopkins is now priced as WR4 on FanDuel and WR3 on DraftKings.
We saw Jeremy Maclin go bonkers against this Buffalo secondary that has given up more than 200 yards to opposing wideouts five times in 2015. Hopkins, with his customary 10-12 targets, should be just fine here. The memory – and the possibility – of a game script disaster looms large though.
I'm into the idea of a Hopkins-Watkins correlation stack. Deploying that combo is hoping that this game goes well over its Vegas projection.
Miami Dolphins vs. Baltimore Ravens (Sunday, 1:00 p.m.)
Vegas O/U: 43.5 pts, Dolphins Total: 24.25 pts, Ravens Total: 19.25 pts
Matt Schaub, that parody of his former self, went ahead and caused a Twitter meltdown with his customary pick six against Cleveland on Monday night. Here's what might be lost in Schaub's first game as Baltimore starter: the washed-up veteran didn't look half bad in a favorable matchup. I think his performance can give us some hope that pieces of that Ravens' offense can be fantasy viable for the remainder of 2015.
Kamar Aiken, the team's No. 1 wideout, saw nine targets from Schaub against the Browns, turning in 80 yards and a score on six grabs. Not bad at all. Aiken is the beneficiary of the third best WR-CB matchup of Week 13, per the Pro Football Focus matchup chart, as he goes up against Jamar Taylor. The Dolphins' cornerback has been burned time and again in 2015. Aiken is WR31 on DraftKings. He would need about 10 PPR points to meet his Week 13 cost. I like his chances to double that amount against a Miami secondary that has given up six receivers touchdowns over the past two weeks.
Javorious Allen looked like everything we could've hoped for and more as Baltimore's starter against the Browns on Monday night. Any Marc Trestman running back is going to be a potential PPR monster, and right on cue, Allen saw five targets, scoring 12.9 fantasy points through the air. He tacked on 55 rushing yards.
The listless Miami defense doesn't seem all that interested in stopping opposing rushers, as we saw with Chris Ivory in Week 12. The Dolphins, who have given up 100 rushing yards seven times this season, are being gouged to the tune of 30.7 adjusted running back points through 12 weeks. Allen's DFS price was locked because he played Monday night. He's once again a screaming value and a cash game lock.
The Dolphins are a total, unmitigated debacle, but we can't ignore that the Baltimore secondary continues to give up chunks of fantasy points to enemy passers and pass catchers. The Ravens, fresh off allowing a combined 21 fantasy points to the combination of Josh McCown and Austin Davis, are a target for good reason.
Jarvis Landry, who rode an unbelievably friendly game script to a monster Week 12 performance, has seen a whopping 18 red zone targets this season. Only Brandon Marshall and DeAndre Hopkins have more. Even though Landry's average depth of target (6.5) is Welkerian, he has commanded volume that we cannot ignore. Running 73 percent of his pass routes from the slot, Landry will see primary coverage from Ladarius Webb, who has been a target of opposing passing attacks all season. The matchup is right, the Miami implied total is good, and Ryan Tannehill has bombarded Landry with targets of late. I'm a much bigger fan of Landry in cash games on DraftKings due to price and full PPR scoring.