Daily Fantasy Football: Sannes' Situations to Monitor in Week 12
I'm never going to complain about time off of work, especially not during what has been such a wild year. But this whole Thanksgiving thing could have been timed better.
The Week 12 main slate has some massively fun games to stack. We get the afternoon showdown between the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers in addition to potential shootouts between the Buffalo Bills and Los Angeles Chargers along with the Atlanta Falcons and Las Vegas Raiders. That's finger-lickin' good for those of us who start our lineup-building process with game stacks.
The problem is that every single one of those games has injury questions. And this happens in a week when our ability to pay attention to news takes a hit.
Because this pupper is going up on a Wednesday, we're not going to have the benefit of injury reports when mapping things out. As such, we'll have to make contingency plans based on how things break later in the week so that we know how to handle things once we get answers. It's not ideal, but this green bean casserole ain't gonna eat itself. Our divided attentions are just something we have to deal with.
So let's start our discussion of the slate around those games and the open questions facing them. Then we'll dive into other situations impacting the main slate.
Waiting for Sammy Watkins
Admittedly, of the injuries impacting our shootouts, this is the most minor one. We're getting jazzed about Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce no matter what. Sammy Watkins' availability would just dictate what level of jazzed we can justify.
Watkins sat out Week 11 after getting injured in practice on Thursday. However, he was able to get in a limited session on Friday, seemingly implying he could be back out there this week. But it's a big enough question mark where we need to figure out how to handle the Chiefs in each scenario.
Our sample on the team with Watkins isn't all that large. We're limited to just the first four weeks as Watkins was limited to 26 snaps in Week 5. The reason this is worth discussing is that Watkins got quite a bit of work in that time. Here, a "deep" target is any throw at least 16 yards beyond the line of scrimmage.
|First 4 Games||Overall Targets||Deep Targets||RZ Targets|
Obviously, Kelce and Hill still have good roles, especially in a high-volume, efficient passing offense where they get most of the money looks. But their shares with Watkins sidelined have been delicious.
|Past 5 Games||Overall Targets||Deep Targets||RZ Targets|
Getting that many looks in a potential shootout is the stuff dreams are made of. It's why Hill is the highest-salaried player on the slate. And if we get him without Watkins to gobble up the underneath stuff, he's worth that.
If Watkins does play, the floors for Hill and Kelce will still be rock solid. We do need to lower their ceilings a tiny bit, though, leading to some lower exposure levels on a slate where every dollar of salary matters.
Watkins spoiling the party would be a bummer, but we can instead just save some salary and turn to the other side of this game if need be.
|Past 3 Games||Overall Targets||Deep Targets||RZ Targets|
Evans has been getting the red-zone volume all year, putting on his best Jordan Howard impression. The overall targets are new, though, and it should get us back in on him at $7,100 on FanDuel.
It's true that Tom Brady has struggled in this stretch, posting -0.01 Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per drop back. NEP is the expected points model we use at numberFire, and Passing NEP includes deductions for expected points lost on negative plays such as sacks, incompletions, and interceptions. The league average is 0.14, so Brady's output has been -- in scientific terms -- butt.
That doesn't mean it'll stick, though. You've probably seen stats about how much Brady has struggled with the deep ball. But those stats are based on throws 20-plus yards downfield. If we shift that to intermediate throws between 10 and 19 yards downfield, Brady is 21-of-26 in this time with 0.90 Passing NEP per attempt. If anything, he's just due for progression on the long balls, meaning this is actually a good thing.
Brady has flashed a ceiling this year, topping 30 FanDuel points three times. One of those was actually in this three-game split where he allegedly can't hit the long ball. He's not as appealing as Patrick Mahomes in this same game, but Brady seems to be the best option among those with a salary lower than $8,000.
Monitoring John Brown
Before the Bills' bye, John Brown was really hitting his stride. Then he hurt his ankle again, and he's still not healthy yet.
#Bills WR John Brown and TE Dawson Knox are not practicing Tuesday
— Joe Buscaglia (@JoeBuscaglia) November 24, 2020
If Brown is able to go, we keep the status quo. That's with Josh Allen as one of the top quarterbacks on the slate, Stefon Diggs as a desirable stud receiver, and Brown as the team's value option at $5,700. If not, it puts Cole Beasley in play at $5,400.
The Bills have had four games this year in which Brown has been out or limited. In those, Allen's Passing NEP per drop back has decreased to 0.16 from 0.36 with Brown fully healthy. That doesn't take from Allen's fantasy ceiling -- he had 32.24 FanDuel points with Brown limited in Week 3 -- but it would take his floor down a peg.
Even with Allen's efficiency dipping, Beasley pushed out good performances thanks to a healthy target load.
|With Brown Out or Limited||Overall Targets||Deep Targets||RZ Targets|
Although Beasley wasn't bathing in deep targets, he still topped 100 yards in two of those games, and he did so again in Week 10 with Brown playing. Beasley gets us low-salaried access to one of these stacker's delights, so if Brown can't go, we should lower Allen a smidge but can wipe our tears by making Beasley a borderline core play.
A Potential Return for Austin Ekeler
Halt your Twitter searches and amateur sleuthing, everybody. We finally have an update to the timeline on Austin Ekeler.
The #Chargers plan to designate RB Austin Ekeler for return from injured reserve this week, per source. Not yet clear if he’ll play Sunday against the #Bills, but Ekeler will practice for the first time since a significant hamstring injury in Week 4.
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) November 24, 2020
As Tom Pelissero notes there, this doesn't mean that Ekeler will play. In fact, it seems more likely that he sits this week, in which case Kalen Ballage would be back as a core play at $5,500 after his 16-carry, 9-target outing last week. But we should at least have the discussion around Ekeler.
Ekeler would likely be limited this week as he works his way back, given all the conditioning time he has missed. That keeps him from being a core play if he does go. But two things could keep us interested for tournaments.
The first is that Ekeler's salary is just $6,500. There's a fairly massive falloff after the mid-$7,000 range on the main slate, and everyone after that range has imperfections. We'll likely need at least one player in this range if we're going to get to Dalvin Cook at $11,000, upping the incentive to roll the dice on Ekeler.
The second is that the Chargers need him pretty badly. They've filtered through all of Joshua Kelley, Justin Jackson, Troymaine Pope, and Ballage since Ekeler went down, and nobody has provided the same spark that Ekeler does when he's healthy. The performance of guys like Kelley should up the assumed workload for Ekeler once he comes back simply because he actually could be a difference-maker on this team.
The safe route with the Chargers is to load up on the passing game. Justin Herbert grades out behind Allen but certainly works if you want to stack this game, and Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, and Hunter Henry all are attractive at their respective salaries. But if we get some positive sentiment from the team around Ekeler by the end of the week, exposure in game stacks would be warranted.
Another Julio Jones Injury
Unfortunately, we have a large sample of what to expect when Jones is out. Even more distressing is what the offense has done in that time.
|Ryan in 2020||Passing NEP/P||aDOT|
|With Jones Healthy||0.41||7.9|
|With Jones Out/Limited||-0.06||9.2|
Clearly, the offense takes a massive, massive step back when Jones is out. That saps the value out of Matt Ryan, and it does lower the shootout upside of this game. But two things can keep us in on pieces here and on the Las Vegas Raiders' side.
First, those four games came against tough defenses. They're all currently ranked 14th or better against the pass whereas the Raiders are 23rd. They should be more competent here than they have been previously.
Second, Ryan's still willing to chuck it deep, as evidenced by the aDOT there. We also know where those long balls are going.
|4 Games Without Jones||Overall Targets||Deep Targets||RZ Targets|
When Jones is out, this is Calvin Ridley's offense. Ridley is $8,100, which will be hard to get to in lineups with Cook, but he's clearly worth it.
We can also get some salary relief via the other side with Nelson Agholor. Agholor is $5,200, and at first glance, he's not going to seem all that appealing. Agholor has more than five targets just twice this year. But a ton of those targets are high-leverage looks. Here's the team's target distribution since Henry Ruggs returned.
|Past 6 Games||Overall Targets||Deep Targets||RZ Targets|
Clearly, Darren Waller is the top guy here. He's $7,100, which is tougher to swallow on a slate where you have Kelce, but Waller should be included in game stacks. Agholor's the guy with the biggest standalone appeal.
It's true that Agholor has had big volume in just two games. However, one of those big games was last week, and it comes on the heels of some top-notch play. With how well Agholor has played, it would make sense for the Raiders to give him more looks. He's converting on those, and they're the kinds of targets we want. Agholor can be at least a fringe-core play to help you get to Cook, Ridley, and the Chiefs' guys.
The other player who stands out for game stacks in this one is obviously Josh Jacobs. Jacobs has workload issues because of his lack of a passing-game role, but he has 37.9% of the team's red-zone opportunities for the season. If the game features a lot of points, Jacobs is likely to be involved. Even though Jacobs is over-salaried for his role at $8,000, we need to plug him in when stacking this game.
The New-Look Saints Offense
With the calendar flipping to Week 12, we must bid adieu to our sweet prince, tight-end-eligible Taysom Hill. It was fun while it lasted.
For the full season, Kamara is averaging 27.9 adjusted opportunities per game. That ranks third among backs on the main slate and would make him well worth his $8,600 salary.
But in his first game with Hill, that number was just 15. Not great, Bob!
Kamara's 48.5% snap rate was his lowest of the season, and it was his first time under 66% in a non-blowout. This could be due to the injury that had him sidelined at practice last Thursday, but having it come in Hill's first start is reason for panic.
Kamara isn't suddenly someone we must avoid in DFS. However, such a large percentage of his output came in the passing game that if he's not going to get targets from Hill, his value goes in the gutter in a hurry. This game with the Denver Broncos isn't a particularly appealing game environment, putting Kamara low on our list and potentially out of our player pool entirely for Week 12 as we gather more data.
The one benefactor of Hill starting was Michael Thomas, who gobbled up a season-high 12 targets, more than half of Hill's throws. Two of those were deep with four in the red zone, so although Thomas didn't go off, it was in his range of outcomes. He's trending the opposite direction of Kamara.
Game environment matters at receiver, too, and as mentioned, this one isn't necessarily ideal. If you decide you want to use Hill at quarterback -- certainly viable with his rushing volume at $7,300 -- then Thomas is the ideal stacking partner. It's just hard to get jazzed about anybody here with the Broncos potentially struggling to keep pace.
Players in Flux for Vikings Versus Panthers
Teddy Bridgewater and Christian McCaffrey are expected to practice Wednesday but are uncertain to play. On the other side, Adam Thielen is on the COVID-19 list after receiving one positive and one negative test this week. There's a lot up in the air, so let's sort through it.
Bridgewater may be the guy most likely to play here given that he was almost active in Week 11. It's a juicy revenge game for Teddy Two Gloves, and it makes this passing offense desirable against the Vikings' 18th-ranked pass defense.
Although it was DJ Moore who had the big game last week, it seems like our preferred options should be Robby Anderson and Curtis Samuel. Here are the team's market shares since Samuel returned from injury in Week 7.
|Since Samuel's Return||Overall Targets||Deep Targets||RZ Targets|
Moore's deep volume is great, and it's what it allows him to do what he did last week. But Anderson is getting just as many deep looks while getting more overall targets. Anderson hasn't scored since Week 1, making him a prime regression candidate at $6,400.
Scoring hasn't been a problem for Samuel. The table above shows just what he has gotten in terms of targets in this stretch. If you include all rush attempts, Samuel has 27.0% of the team's red-zone opportunities the past five games. No other receiver on the main slate is higher than 22.5% in that department, and only two others have topped 20%. They're making a conscious effort to get him the ball as both a rusher and a receiver in close, and it has helped him top 14 FanDuel points in four of his past five games.
That's why Anderson and Samuel should sit atop our list if Bridgewater goes. Moore -- again -- can definitely pay off, as he has shown. But the high-leverage looks on the others are too good to ignore.
As for McCaffrey, it seems most likely that he sits this week despite the potential for him to practice.
Panthers’ HC Matt Rhule considers Christian McCaffrey week to week with his shoulder injury, but it is considered unlikely that the Pro Bowl RB will play Sunday vs. the Vikings, per source.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) November 23, 2020
The Carolina Panthers have a bye in Week 13, so it shouldn't be a shock if they hold McCaffrey out. If McCaffrey goes, that means he's healthy enough to play, and he'll likely be on the field a bunch. We'd rank him below Cook, but McCaffrey would be a secondary option at running back in the same tier as guys like Nick Chubb, Derrick Henry, and Josh Jacobs.
If McCaffrey sits, it could put us back on Mike Davis at $7,200. Davis got back on track last week with a rushing touchdown. But there were still lingering red flags in his profile.
Primarily, Davis still wasn't getting targets. He had just two there, giving Davis 23 adjusted opportunities for the game. He hasn't had more than 24 since all the way back in Week 5, and as a result, his max FanDuel output in that time is 14.9 points. He's losing some red-zone rushes to Samuel, and they're now willing to work in Rodney Smith as a rusher, as well. Davis' role still isn't what it was before.
As a result, this might be a good week to be underweight on Davis in tournaments if he projects to be popular. There are a couple of paths to failure, and the odds he burns you for not using him have gone down. He's not out of play on a slate where running-back options could be slim, but he's far from being a priority.
The outlook for Thielen is completely unknown. If he plays, it's status quo on the Minnesota Vikings' passing game. You can feel great about Thielen and Justin Jefferson if you think the Panthers score enough points to keep it close, which they very well could with Bridgewater starting. If Thielen sits, it would likely be a downgrade for everyone.
Earlier in the year, when Jefferson had yet to emerge, this Vikings offense struggled. Cousins averaged -0.06 Passing NEP per drop back in those games because Thielen was the only talented pass-catcher on the field. We'd have a similar situation here if Jefferson were by himself.
So, yes, Jefferson's target share would get a bump with Thielen out. However, the odds the offense completely craters would also increase. That would be a negative not only for Jefferson but also for Cook. It wouldn't be enough to push them out of play -- especially not Cook -- but it would prevent us from going all in on them despite the increased volume.
Enticing Mid-Range Options for Colts Versus Titans
This Indianapolis Colts versus Tennessee Titans game is a divisional rematch from just a few weeks ago, and those situations can often lead to disappointment. But there are still some fun plays here, especially in the mid-range.
The obvious one there is Jonathan Taylor, who is $6,400. We had effectively sworn Taylor off, but then last week, he racked up 30 adjusted opportunities, tying a season-high. It was his first time with more than 20 since Week 2, so this was a big shift.
That's enough to make Taylor an option at his salary. If he gets that volume again, the odds he puts up a big game are high. We just have to acknowledge that we don't know if this will happen.
The first time the Colts played the Titans, it was Nyheim Hines who got the big volume. In Week 8, Jordan Wilkins was the guy who got 20 carries. They're willing to ride the hot hand, and it makes the floor for each of these players effectively zero. Although we should be most willing to believe in surges for Taylor given his pedigree, we've already seen that those surges may be blips rather than trends.
Taylor's someone we can rotate in for tournaments due to the potential for a big workload. But we'd be wise to keep him out of our core at running back, and he shouldn't be in a cash-game roster despite his tempting salary.
The same thing can be said about Taylor's teammate, Michael Pittman Jr. There are some big flaws here still, but Pittman can be a rotational tournament play at $5,700.
Pittman's market share in two games since T.Y. Hilton returned is just 15.7%, and that ain't gonna cut it even at a bargain salary. However, Pittman has shown big talent in that volume, getting 66 or more yards in both games. He had that long touchdown last week, and then the Green Bay Packers' talented corners were able to keep him in check. He won't face the same resistance this week.
Pittman's floor is beneath that of guys like Beasley, Agholor, and Samuel, so he's not the top option under $6,000 at his position. But if you want some mini stacks in this game, Pittman fits, and he's at least in play as a standalone option, as well.
The reason mini-stacking is an option is because we know where the ball is going on the other side. Derrick Henry is fourth on the slate with 27.3 adjusted opportunities per game, and they're likely to lean heavily on him in a big divisional game. Henry's worth it this week despite a rough floor due to the nature in which he gets his volume.
|In 6 Games Together||Overall Targets||Deep Targets||RZ Targets|
It may be a surprise to see Davis on par with -- and even ahead of -- Brown. But in those six games, Davis has outscored Brown in half. This isn't some fluke; Davis is legit.
Because Brown can turn a short pass into a massive gain, he's still firmly in play at $7,500 if you like this game. But Davis is all the way down at $6,000, and we need all the salary we can save this week. He grades out well ahead of Pittman at just $300 extra, and Davis is at least an option for cash games if you wind up in this range.
Mike Glennon Mania
The Jake Luton experiment was fun given his long-ball ways and DGAF nature. But it was time to make a change after his four-pick outing last week.
Jaguars are starting Mike Glennon vs. Browns on Sunday.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) November 25, 2020
Robinson is averaging 25.4 adjusted opportunities per game, a superbly healthy number for a running back at $7,400. This has allowed him to pay off in DFS even when the quarterback play has been lackluster. Now he gets to face a Cleveland Browns defense that won't have Myles Garrett. Robinson isn't in the top tier at running back, but he's at least a secondary option who is on the fringes of being core-worthy.
One option for Robinson is to game stack him with Nick Chubb. Chubb's volume is hyper-flawed due to the lack of targets, and we saw the downsides of that last week. Even though he ran for 114 yards -- and looked great doing it -- he didn't accumulate any points outside of his rushing. He's very Henry-esque in that way.
As such, we should view Chubb similar to the way we view Henry. Figure out the odds he burns you for not using him and allocate your exposures accordingly. Against a Jacksonville Jaguars defense that is likely to fill up the injury report this week, that could be somewhere around 20%, which is high for someone with as many red flags as Chubb.
It may feel weird to stack two running backs on the same team, but it pops up in perfect lineups pretty often. It happened 4 of 17 weeks last year and has happened once in 2020. If this game hits the 49-point total, those two are likely to be involved.
The lower-salaried game stacks with Robinson would be Jarvis Landry and Austin Hooper. The issue with them is that the Browns clearly want to keep the ball on the ground if at all possible, capping the ceiling on both players. Landry's shares since Odell Beckham got hurt, though, are high enough to put him in a similar tier to Pittman at $5,700. Hooper was tied for the team lead in targets last week and is just $5,100. You'll take that at tight end even on a low-volume offense, making Hooper one of the top options there for Week 12.
Buying Low on Kenyan Drake
The reasoning here is that we're now an additional 10 days removed from Drake's ankle injury. He turned 16 carries into 100 yards in Week 10, and then the team played again just four days later. Edmonds out-snapped Drake, but Drake set a season high with five targets, topping the previous mark of just two.
Now that Drake has had more time to rest, it's possible they lean on him a bit more for the stretch run. This week would be a great opportunity to do so.
The New England Patriots' defense has struggled in all facets this year but especially in trying to stop opposing ground games. They rank 29th in Rushing Success Rate allowed to opposing backs. Their main focus defensively is going to be either stopping Kyler Murray or DeAndre Hopkins. It could lead to a heavy dose of Drake here.
Drake is similar to Jacobs: you know he'll be involved when the team is near the goal line. In his full games this year, Drake has 32.2% of the team's red-zone opportunities, and that includes the carries that Murray steals in close. This is enough -- along with the potential for increased work -- to justify taking a chance on Drake at $6,200, especially if Taylor winds up being popular at just $200 more.
A Bounce-Back Spot for the Dolphins
As a Tua Tagovailoa truther, last week was rough. Seeing him struggle and eventually get benched definitely killed the vibe from what he had done the previous two weeks. But there's no better get-right spot than what he has on Sunday.
Last week, the Miami Dolphins were facing the Broncos. Denver ranks third in defensive pressure rate, something that was likely to give the Dolphins' improved-but-still-underwhelming offensive line troubles.
This week? They get the New York Jets. They're second from the bottom in that stat. Giddy up.
This isn't enough to get us in on Tagovailoa himself as the team is too rush-heavy in the games he has started. It can, though, get us in on DeVante Parker at $6,500.
The team has played two full games now without Preston Williams. In those games, Parker's target share is up to 26.2%. He'll be facing a Jets secondary that has roughly five minutes of experience at cornerback, meaning Parker could be primed for a monster outing.
It's also not totally outrageous to give Jakeem Grant a sniff at $4,800. His overall target share is lower at 18.0%, but he is averaging two deep targets per game, and he has a pair of red-zone targets, as well. The team's rush-heavy nature puts him behind Beasley and Agholor as super low-salaried plays, but Grant works if you need an extra $400 to $600 of salary.
In the lineups where you use Parker or Grant, consider running it back with Denzel Mims. The Jets have had two games with their three big receivers healthy, and Mims has a 30.8% target share in those games with three deep targets per game. More importantly, though, the offense has shown life in that span. He was getting a good target load earlier on, but it didn't matter because the offense was so hideous.
Now that they're starting to move the ball and score some points, Mims' targets are less hollow. He's not going to grade out above Agholor or Beasley because of their respective game environments, but Mims definitely has a path to a really solid game, and that's not always the case for guys at $5,600.
The Bengals Without Joe Burrow
The New York Giants' offense went into their bye on a high note, putting up 27 points on the Philadelphia Eagles. They get a plus matchup this week with the Cincinnati Bengals, but it's going to be tough for this game to shoot out.
With Joe Burrow being out, the Bengals' offense is going to struggle. They've decided to roll with Brandon Allen over Ryan Finley after Finley's horrid outing in relief of Burrow last week. But Allen was on the team's practice squad before this for a reason, and it's still going to be a massive downgrade for the entire offense. That also -- in turn -- downgrades the Giants as they may not need to keep their foot on the gas the entire way.
The reason we can still consider the Giants here is because they don't necessarily need ceiling games to come through. Evan Engram and Sterling Shepard both have 24.4% of the targets since Shepard returned from injury, and they check in at $5,600 and $5,400, respectively. Shepard hasn't had more than 74 yards in those games, so he has ceiling concerns beyond the game environment. They're in play, but you should keep their limitations in mind when allocating exposures.
Wayne Gallman would have concerns, too, even if Devonta Freeman can't return. Gallman has maxed out at 22 adjusted opportunities and a 59% snap rate for the season, and it's hard to generate a ceiling on that usage. The floor would be fine, but again, it's the ceiling that should give us pause.
Positive Injury News for the 49ers
It has been a hot second since San Francisco 49ers fans have been able to open the injury report without impulsively vomiting all over the screen. This week looks a bit different, though.
The #49ers officially designated RBs Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson Jr. for return from injured reserve, per the transaction wire.
Meanwhile, CB K'Waun Williams -- who's injured -- was suspended two games for violating the PED policy.
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) November 24, 2020
That's good for them, and we should be stoked those players are healthy. It's just unlikely to lead to DFS goodness.
If Jimmy Garoppolo and George Kittle were healthy, it'd be one thing. But Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson are returning to a team lacking efficiency, and they don't get enough targets to overcome that. If Kittle's eventually able to return, we'll be back in on Mostert as a tournament play. But against this defense and with this supporting cast, it's okay to hold off and wait for signs of life first.