FanDuel Daily Fantasy Football Helper: Week 13
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 the top plays in Week 13.
Lamar Jackson ($8,500 on FanDuel): Jackson is coming off two straight disappointing passing performances, but we know the rushing upside is there every week. Despite the divisional matchup, this isn't a bad spot to turn things around against the Steelers, who have allowed 41 points to the Chargers and Bengals in back-to-back weeks. This isn't the stout Pittsburgh defense of past years, ranking 17th in pass defense and 27th in rush defense, per numberFire's schedule-adjusted metrics.
As for Jackson, Jalen Hurts ($8,000) is the only other quarterback who can hang with him as a runner, yet Jackson still leads the position in rushing yards (707) despite playing two fewer games than Hurts. On a per-game basis, Jackson is averaging 12.3 carries and 70.7 rushing yards.
Despite his recent struggles, Jackson is the slate's top quarterback in numberFire's projections.
Justin Herbert ($8,200): While Herbert hasn't been the most consistent fantasy performer from week to week, he's demonstrated a tournament-winning ceiling multiple times with four games of more than 30 FanDuel points.
He hasn't necessarily been uber-efficient as a passer, but he's in an offense that loves to chuck it, averaging the league's third-most pass attempts (39.8) per game and fourth-most passing yards per game (293.6). Herbert's even shown some juice as a runner, too, ranking seventh at the position in rushing yardage.
This Chargers-Bengals game is tied for the highest total on the board (50.5), and the Bengals are a middle-of-the-pack pass defense in numberFire's schedule-adjusted rankings (15th). There's the risk that Cincinnati just runs all over this Los Angeles defense and squashes the overall fantasy potential of this game, but if Herbert and friends can jump out front and force the Bengals to pass, it could lead to some shootout possibilities.
Tom Brady ($8,100): Tampa Bay's offense had a strong showing against Indianapolis last week, except it wasn't Brady who came away with all the fantasy points as Leonard Fournette ($7,700) rumbled his way to three rushing touchdowns while also catching Brady's lone passing score.
Although that sort of outcome can't be ruled out with the Bucs sitting pretty as 10.5-point favorites over the Falcons, this offense still goes through Brady as one of the league's most pass-heavy teams. On a per-game basis, Brady ranks first in pass attempts (41.5), second in passing yards (309.4), and first in passing touchdowns (2.7) this season.
And if Atlanta can keep this even remotely competitive, we could have one of the week's better fantasy game environments on our hands. This game has a high total (50.5), is being played in a dome, and rates well in both combined pass rate and pace, per our Brandon Gdula.
Jonathan Taylor ($10,500): With elite running backs dropping like flies, Taylor has emerged from the carnage as fantasy's top remaining back, and his lofty salary reflects that. While a tough Buccaneers run defense managed to hold Taylor under 100 yards from scrimmage last week -- the first team to do so since Week 3 -- Taylor still extended his touchdown streak to nine games, helping him to a solid 17.7 FanDuel points.
Taylor saw a slight dip in adjusted opportunities (carries plus 2x targets) due to the matchup (26), but he saw 37 and 38 in the two weeks prior, and that ought to be closer to where he ends up against the Texans this week. Indianapolis is a 10.0-point favorite, and Taylor shouldn't have any trouble steamrolling a Houston defense that ranks 21st in schedule-adjusted run defense, per numberFire's metrics.
Taylor is the top projected back in numberFire's model, and no one comes particularly close to him.
Joe Mixon ($9,400): Mixon has seen his salary steadily rise over the last couple of weeks, but it's come with an ample rise in volume, too. Since the Bengals' bye, Mixon has averaged 33.0 adjusted opportunities, a giant leap over what he was getting across his previous eight games (22.4). Positive game scripts in back-to-back easy wins have likely contributed to this extended workload, but Cincinnati's sudden commitment to Mixon is promising for his usage moving forward.
The Bengals figure to stick with this game plan as home favorites against the Chargers, a team that ranks 32nd in schedule-adjusted rush defense.
Mitchell is another intriguing name, seeing as he's coming off a whopping 39 adjusted opportunities last week and should continue to be leaned on heavily with Deebo Samuel out. Despite being a wideout, Samuel was averaging 6.3 rushes over the past three games while scoring a total of four rushing touchdowns. His absence is a sizable boost to Mitchell's scoring potential.
Pass-catching back JaMycal Hasty did return to practice on a limited basis, though, and his return would be a threat to Mitchell's receiving work. That said, Mitchell out-targeted Hasty 5-4 in their last game together, and Mitchell's growth as a receiver is still a fairly new development, so there's no guarantee that Hasty fully returns to the third-down role he previously had.
The 49ers face the Seahawks, who have suffered three straight losses since Russell Wilson returned from injury and have failed to move the ball with any consistency on offense. Should that trend continue, San Francisco will be able to impose their typical run-heavy strategy as 3.5-point road favorites, allowing Mitchell to pile up the touches yet again this weekend. And considering the other notable names in this salary range, he may not see a high roster percentage, too.
Antonio Gibson ($6,200): After averaging a somewhat underwhelming 20.0 adjusted opportunities across his first 10 games, Gibson blew up for an absurd 43 adjusted opportunities in Week 12, earning season-highs in both carries (29) and targets (7). The passing-game usage was especially notable because Gibson hadn't seen more than three targets in a game since way back in Week 1.
And on top of all that, Gibson's main competition in the backfield, J.D. McKissic, has been ruled out with a concussion this week. That should only further solidify Gibson's passing-game role against the Raiders.
In a matchup with a 49.5 total and a tight spread, this could turn into a back-and-forth, fantasy-friendly spot, too. Gibson rates as a top value in numberFire's running back projections.
For another value play, we can also look to Jamaal Williams ($6,500), who should hold a voluminous role with D'Andre Swift sidelined. Additionally, Sony Michel ($5,300) will shoot up the list if Darrell Henderson ($7,500) is unable to play after missing practice on Wednesday and Thursday this week.
Justin Jefferson ($8,000): As we've come to expect, Cooper Kupp ($9,000) has the top projection at wide receiver, and it's by a wide margin. Of course, his salary well exceeds the field, too, and it's tied for the third-highest across all positions. Just keep in mind that he needs to have one of those smash weeks to really pay off in tournaments.
Therefore, if you'd rather spend that cash at another position, you can drop down to the next-best option in our projections, Jefferson, at a full $1,000 cheaper. You're hardly skimping on upside with Jefferson, as he's in a delectable spot against a Lions defense that ranks 31st against the pass in our schedule-adjusted metrics.
Furthermore, Jefferson's volume has been fantastic ever since the Vikings publicly acknowledged he needed more looks following curiously low target totals in Weeks 8 and 9. Over the past three weeks, the star wideout has enjoyed a 29.7% target share and 45.5% air yards share.
With Dalvin Cook sidelined, it's possible Minnesota relies more on their passing game this week, too, which could further enhance Jefferson's outlook.
Chris Godwin ($7,600) and Mike Evans ($7,400): The return of Rob Gronkowski ($7,000) has led to far shakier floors for Godwin and Evans, but all three offer plenty of upside as Brady's top pass-catchers. Over these past two games, it's actually Gronk who leads the way with a 22.2% target share, followed by Evans (19.8%), and Godwin (13.6%).
Clearly, Godwin's been the biggest loser with Gronkowski back, but I wouldn't read too, too much into the small sample. We've seen all of Brady's weapons (including Antonio Brown when available) alternate big games throughout the season. It just means that as they get healthier, it becomes more difficult to predict which pass-catcher will blow up if Brady has a big game.
Ultimately, all three should be considered in Tampa stacks, and the matchup is pristine against Atlanta, which ranks 28th in schedule-adjusted pass defense. If you're making just a few lineups, perhaps it's best to pick whomever you think will see the lowest roster percentage.
Despite the dip in target share recently, Godwin still draws the highest projection of the trio in numberFire's model.
Keenan Allen ($7,300): While Mike Williams ($6,500) was the big story early in the year, but as time has gone on, Allen's emerged with the far more bankable role. In the five games since the Chargers' bye week, Allen boasts a 30.7% target share and 37.2% air yards share, compared to clips of 15.9% and 22.4% for Williams. Allen's averaged 8.4 receptions and 95.2 yards per game over this span, and only a lack of touchdowns (1) has prevented him from posting even bigger fantasy scores.
Hunter Renfrow ($6,400): Renfrow isn't exactly a guy who screams upside, but with Darren Waller getting injured on Thanksgiving, Renfrow went on to catch 8-of-9 targets for 134 yards. Waller is considered week-to-week, so Renfrow figures to be Derek Carr's go-to pass-catcher again this weekend against Washington.
The emergence of deep threat DeSean Jackson in the box score last week is also a plus for an offense that's struggled to replace the production of Henry Ruggs. His presence is arguably a net positive for Renfrow, and while Jackson missed practice on Thursday, it's reportedly a minor issue.
Although Washington's defense has held its own during their three-game win streak, this is still a unit that ranks 30th against the pass in our metrics and has struggled against wide receivers specifically.
According to numberFire's model, Renfrow rates as the top value among wide receivers with salaries below $7,000.
Van Jefferson ($5,800): The Rams are tied for the highest implied team total on the board (30.50), so getting exposure to them probably isn't a bad idea, and Jefferson is an easy way to get there.
Despite the addition of Odell Beckham ($6,000), Jefferson's maintained a vital role in this offense. In the Rams' first game with Beckham playing a full complement of snaps, Jefferson logged a 23.1% target share, 40.7% air yards share, 98.4% snap rate, and 100% route rate. His 9 targets barely trailed both Kupp and Beckham, who each saw 10.
It looks like there's room for all three receivers to excel in this offense, and Jefferson could see even more targets this week, as Beckham is now looking iffy for this matchup against the Jaguars. Jefferson is in play either way, but should Beckham sit out, then he's an even better value against Jacksonville's 29th-ranked schedule-adjusted pass defense.
Mark Andrews ($7,300): Andrews comes in with the slate's highest tight end salary, but we shouldn't underestimate that role he's enjoyed since the Ravens' Week 8 bye. Over the last four weeks, Andrews leads all tight ends in both target share (25.3%) and air yards share (37.6%), averaging 9.5 targets per game.
While there are better point-per-dollar values, Andrews is about as reliable as they come at a position where the floor can be next to zero for most.
Foster Moreau ($5,000): With Darren Waller expected to be out this week, Moreau is the next man up, and he should see a huge spike in snaps. Moreau played 89.5% of the snaps last week, and he logged a 100% snap rate when Waller missed Week 7.
The increased playing time didn't amount to much this last game, but his Week 7 result is why we should be intrigued, as Moreau caught 6-of-6 targets for 60 yards and a score in that one. Inheriting a potentially Waller-esque role, Moreau is a no-brainer value at this salary.
Tampa Bay D/ST ($4,300): Most of the other heavy favorites predictably have high salaries, so it's a rare treat to find a double-digit favorite like Tampa Bay sitting at this more palatable mark. While the Bucs haven't exactly been a stone wall on defense lately, they still rank eighth in numberFire's schedule-adjusted rankings and sixth in quarterback pressures per drop back.
Perhaps most importantly, they're up against a struggling Matt Ryan, who has failed to hit 200 passing yards in four of his last five starts and has thrown seven interceptions over that span.
Miami D/ST ($4,000): The Dolphins have been a pretty forgettable defense for much of the season, but they've held their last four opponents to 9, 10, 17, and 10 real-life points, and they've scored double-digit FanDuel points in three of those contests. They're now up to a not-so-terrible 17th in schedule-adjusted total defense and rank 7th in quarterback pressures per drop back.
The Dolphins are in a great spot to post another fantasy-friendly score as 4.5-point home favorites over the Giants, a team that ranks 27th in schedule-adjusted offense. The cherry on top is that Daniel Jones has been ruled out, so backup Mike Glennon will draw the start.