FanDuel Daily Fantasy Football Helper: Week 12
Welcome to our weekly FanDuel NFL primer, where we give you an overview of the Sunday main slate to help you get started on your research.
As always, we recommend checking out all of numberFire's daily fantasy tools at your disposal. In particular, our weekly projections can help you nail down who might be the slate's top scorers and best values, while the heat map is a great way to get a general overview of the slate's implied totals and every team's strengths and weaknesses.
Now, let's run through some of this week's top plays of the slate.
Kyler Murray ($9,100 on FanDuel): No one is averaging more FanDuel points per game than Kyler Murray (29.16), and even if you threw out his passing numbers, he would rank 11th among running backs in rushing yards and 2nd in rushing touchdowns. New England hasn't been a defense to fear in 2020, ranking 19th overall in numberFire's schedule-adjusted metrics and coming off a thrashing by Deshaun Watson (31.36 points). Arizona's fast pace should help offset the Patriots' clock-draining, run-first approach, and the game has a solid 49.5 total.
Josh Allen ($8,600): The Chargers-Bills game has one of the top totals on the board (53.5), so it's not much of a surprise that Josh Allen comes out on top in numberFire's main slate projections. Following a midseason lull, Allen has come through in back-to-back shootouts against Arizona (28.86 points) and Seattle (36.00), and we should expect more of the same this week, with Buffalo favored by just 5.5 points against a Chargers team that seems to always find itself in close games regardless of opponent. Justin Herbert ($8,400) should hold up his end of the bargain on the other side and is also an appealing play as a top-five quarterback in our projections.
Derek Carr ($7,100): It's fair to question if Derek Carr has the ceiling to win us a tournament, as his high-water mark this season is 24.98 points and his next best score is 22.60 points -- both coming against Kansas City. That's just not going to get it done. And yet, if he's ever going to put up a truly big score, it's this week's game against Atlanta, which has a slate-high 55.5 total. Among signal-callers with at least 200 drop backs, Carr is tied for eighth in Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per drop back, demonstrating a high level of efficiency despite limited passing volume in most games. That should hopefully change against a Falcons defense that's tough against the run but ranks 32nd in adjusted passing defense, per our metrics, and has given up the most FanDuel points per game to quarterbacks. Whether it's enough for Carr to hang with the slate's elite fantasy quarterbacks remains to be seen, but he's worth considering as the top projected point-per-dollar value at the position.
Dalvin Cook ($11,000): The salary keeps creeping higher with every week, but in a tough year for running backs, Dalvin Cook pretty much stands alone at the top. Since Minnesota's bye, Cook has averaged 27.3 carries and 3.5 targets over the last four weeks, and excluding a blowout win over the Lions, he's exceeded an 80% snap rate in the three other games. He could have a spike week in store for Carolina, which ranks 22nd in adjusted run defense and has allowed the fifth-most FanDuel points per game to the position.
Alvin Kamara ($8,600): Cook and Alvin Kamara are the only healthy backs averaging over 20 FanDuel points per game, and Kamara's receiving work has given him a fantastic floor for most of the season. The salary difference theoretically makes Kamara the best point-per-dollar play at running back, but the move to Taysom Hill at quarterback could be a hit to his value. In Week 11, Kamara was targeted only once, and Hill also vultured two red zone rushing scores. Kamara played under 50% of the snaps for the first time this season, as well, so perhaps his decrease in usage was health-related after missing practice last Thursday. Clearly, there are more concerns here than usual, but we also probably shouldn't overreact to one game, and if Kamara is practicing in full this week, he ought to be more involved against Denver.
Josh Jacobs ($8,000): If you have your doubts about Carr, Josh Jacobs is another way to gain exposure to the Raiders' sky-high 29.25 implied team total against the Falcons. The trouble is that Atlanta actually has the sixth-best adjusted run defense while allowing the sixth-fewest FanDuel points per game to opposing backfields. This is a pass-funnel defense if ever there was one, potentially capping Jacobs' upside, but he still ought to get plenty of scoring chances, as he ranks third overall in red-zone rushes and is tied for second in carries inside the 10-yard line. Jacobs' lack of consistent receiving work always opens the door for failure, but outside of a Week 9 win when he was at less than 100%, Jacobs has averaged 25.4 rushes in the Raiders' other five victories. A hefty workload should be expected with Las Vegas coming into Atlanta as 3.0-point road favorites.
James Robinson ($7,400): Entering the season, whoever would've thought James Robinson would rank sixth in FanDuel points per game among running backs? The losses keep piling up for the Jaguars, who are now turning to Mike Glennon at quarterback, but they've remained committed to Robinson, as he's averaged 21.8 carries and 3.8 targets over the last four games. Another loss is likely upcoming against Cleveland, but Robinson ought to be able to do some damage against numberFire's 23rd-ranked adjusted run defense.
Kalen Ballage ($5,500): If you're looking for a true punt, Kalen Ballage continues to lead the way for the Chargers after tallying 16 carries and 9 targets against the Jets. Austin Ekeler is finally returning to practice this week but is presumably a longshot to play against the Bills after being out since Week 4. Keep an eye on the news, and if Ekeler remains out, Ballage will be an easy way to gain exposure to this potential shootout. Buffalo is just 25th in adjusted run defense.
Keenan Allen ($8,200): Keenan Allen sure didn't disappoint against the Jets, earning himself a spot on the Week 11 FanDuel perfect lineup with 26.5 FanDuel points after getting peppered for 19 targets. It probably doesn't surprise you that Allen leads the league in targets, and only he and Davante Adams are averaging over 11 per game. Allen will also have an inviting matchup when he goes into the slot -- where he lines up the most -- further adding appeal to utilizing him in this fantastic game environment. Mike Williams ($6,100) is the more volatile Chargers receiving option, but he leads the team in air yards by a wide margin in his healthy games, and he's another way to tap into this attack.
Stefon Diggs ($7,900): The Chargers haven't been a lucrative matchup for wideouts this season, allowing the eighth-fewest FanDuel points per game to the position. But that shouldn't sway us from rostering Stefon Diggs, who's projected as the slate's top point-per-dollar wideout. Diggs has hogged a 29.8% target share and 39.3% air yards share this season, so we know where Josh Allen will be looking early and often. John Brown ($5,700) has missed practice so far this week, and if he's ultimately unable to play, Cole Beasley ($5,400) gets a boost as an intriguing value play.
Justin Jefferson ($7,000): It sounds like Adam Thielen ($7,800) has a chance to come off the reserve/COVID list and play this weekend, but his status remains very much in flux. If he's out, Justin Jefferson would see an uptick in volume, and with Teddy Bridgewater expected to be back for Carolina, there could be some back-and-forth scoring in a game with a solid 48.5 total. But even if Thielen plays, we've seen Jefferson demonstrate enticing upside despite his inconsistent targets on a run-first team -- he's posted 175, 166, and 135 yards in his best performances. And while Carolina hasn't given up a ton of FanDuel points to receivers this season, they actually rate as a middle-of-the-road pass defense and are 15th in Target Success Rate allowed to wideouts.
DeVante Parker ($6,500): The Jets have the second-worst adjusted pass defense, and that was on full display last week, with Justin Herbert carving them up for 366 yards and 3 touchdowns. This presents the perfect bounce-back opportunity for Tua Tagovailoa, and DeVante Parker ought to be one of the main beneficiaries. In two weeks without Preston Williams, Parker leads the team with 16 targets (26.5% share), well ahead of Jakeem Grant ($4,800) and his 11 (18.5%). Grant could have some intrigue as a punt, though, as he leads the team with a 32.0% air yards share over that span.
Nelson Agholor ($5,200): Yeah, it's awfully hard to trust Nelson Agholor, but that's already baked into this modest salary, and he's shown he can occasionally pop with a pair of 9-target games helping him to 19.2 and 17.8 FanDuel points this year. Outside of Darren Waller, he's arguably the only Raiders' pass-catcher we can have any real faith in, as Henry Ruggs ($5,500) saw one target last week, and Hunter Renfrow ($5,100) hasn't been a factor while Ruggs is healthy. The Falcons have allowed the third-most FanDuel points per game to wide receivers.
Travis Kelce ($8,000) and Darren Waller ($7,100): There's no Taysom Hill tight end easy button at our disposal this week, so we'll probably have to pay up if we want to find that kind of upside this time around. But if you can make room, we have both Travis Kelce and Darren Waller available, who are one-two in targets among tight ends by a sizable margin and are playing in high-total games. Kelce's pretty much in a tier of his own these days, averaging easily the most FanDuel points per game at the position (16.3) and hitting at least 19 points in 6 of 10 games. Although Waller can't make such lofty claims, he has the more palatable salary and gets the better matchup against Atlanta's porous pass defense. The Falcons have coughed up the most FanDuel points per game to tight ends and rank 32nd in Target Success Rate allowed to them.
Austin Hooper ($5,100): Austin Hooper hasn't done much since returning to play the last couple weeks, but much of that can be blamed on the poor weather Cleveland keeps running into. Of course, the Browns are always content to rely on their run game as is, and chances are they'll do so again as 6.5-point favorites over Jacksonville. Still, they have the fourth-highest implied total (27.75) on the board, so we could certainly see Baker Mayfield toss a couple of touchdowns against the 26th-ranked adjusted pass defense. Hooper was tied for the team lead in targets (five) last week and projects as a top value.
Miami D/ST ($5,000): It's always difficult to pay up at defense, but there's little question that the Dolphins have appealing upside against the winless Jets. New York's offense remains dead last in numberFire's metrics, while Miami's defense ranks sixth overall and first against the pass. The Dolphins are favored by 6.5 points, so the Jets figure to be playing catch-up as usual, and last time the two faced off, Miami posted 15 FanDuel points in a Week 6 shutout. It really doesn't matter whether Joe Flacco or Sam Darnold is starting, but if Darnold is able to return, it could actually be a downgrade, as he's averaged a horrendous -0.25 Passing NEP per drop back this season, which is easily the worst mark among quarterbacks with at least 200 drop backs.
New York Giants D/ST ($4,300): It feels odd to say the Giants' defense is the top projected unit of the slate, but that's entirely due to their matchup against the Bengals and Brandon Allen, who will start in place of the injured Joe Burrow. Considering Burrow was sacked the third-most times before his season-ending injury, it's really hard to see Allen getting by unscathed, who was just called up from the practice squad. He performed poorly by just about any statistical measure in three starts last season for Denver, averaging negative Passing NEP per drop back -- meaning he actually hurt his team more often than not when he dropped back to pass. Cincinnati has the slate's lowest implied team total.