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 this week's top plays of the slate.


Patrick Mahomes ($9,000 on FanDuel): With this Chiefs-Bengals matchup coming in with slate-high 52.5 over/under that screams shootout, Mahomes is a no-brainer top play on Sunday.

In Week 12, Mahomes and this offense weren't at their best in an inconsistent performance that saw several drives stall in the red zone against the sputtering Rams, yet Mahomes still nearly reached 20 FanDuel points anyway. He threw for more than 300 yards for his sixth straight game, and he even tacked on 36 rushing yards, the third time he's run for 30-plus yards in the last four games.

Overall, Mahomes is easily leading the league in both passing yards and passing touchdowns in an offense that continues to rank first in pass rate over expectation. While Cincinnati has a solid defense, there's little reason to think Mahomes can't reach his ceiling, particularly in what should be a much more competitive spot compared to last week.

We should also consider Joe Burrow ($8,300) as a fantastic option on the other side. With top wideout Ja'Marr Chase expected to be back and the Bengals also owning a top-three mark in pass rate over expectation, Burrow should have elite upside if this game shoots out.

Jalen Hurts ($8,800): Only Mahomes and Josh Allen are averaging more FanDuel points per game than Hurts is, but after rushing for 86 and 157 yards over the past couple of games, Hurts is more than capable of taking the crown by season's end.

While Hurts' 54.3 rushing yards per game trails Justin Fields and Lamar Jackson at the position, he has by far the highest red zone rush share (42.5%), helping him lead all quarterbacks in rushing scores (8).

He's been the more complete dual-threat weapon by being the most efficient passer of the three, too. Hurts is averaging 0.15 Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per drop back -- 11th-best among players with at least 100 drop backs -- well exceeding both Jackson (0.09) and Fields (-0.10).

The Titans have a very capable defense, but they're middle of the pack against the pass, resulting in them allowing the sixth-most FanDuel points per game to quarterbacks. Hurts and Mahomes are neck and neck as the slate's top projected players in numberFire's model.

Justin Herbert ($8,100): Herbert is fresh off his best fantasy performance of the season (28.76 FanDuel points), and he's in a great position against the Raiders to build on that outing.

According to our metrics, Las Vegas ranks 32nd in adjusted total defense and 32nd against the pass, leading to them coughing up the second-most FanDuel points per game to opposing signal-callers. Even better, this matchup has a fantasy-friendly 49.5-point total, and it ranks as the week's second-best in combined pass rate behind only the Chiefs-Bengals game.

Between a soft defense and potential back-and-forth affair, Herbert should be able to pile up fantasy points through the air, and last week's 38-yard rushing effort was a reminder that he can occasionally produce relevant contributions on the ground, as well. The Chargers' quarterback ranks fourth in numberFire's quarterback projections, and his salary comes at a decent discount off the previous two.

Running Backs

Travis Etienne ($8,000): The one high total game I haven't touched on yet is the Jacksonville-Detroit matchup (51.5), and given how flawed both of these defenses are, this looks like a spot we'll want to have a piece of.

Due to injuries, there are a lot of moving parts at running back, and Etienne is no exception after leaving last week's game early with a foot injury. But seeing as he was only held out for precautionary reasons and has practiced on a limited basis this week, Etienne should be ready to go on Sunday.

Assuming that's the case, the Jaguars' running back should slide back into a voluminous role. In his four full games as the lead back, Etienne has logged a 79.2% snap rate while averaging 120.0 scrimmage yards and 25.8 adjusted opportunities (carries plus 2x targets). During this stretch, he's scored more than 18 FanDuel points three times, with the lone dud coming in a negative game script against Kansas City.

We likely don't have to worry about any game script issues against the Lions, and the matchup is delightful against a Detroit D that's 32nd in adjusted rush defense.

Dalvin Cook ($7,600): This isn't the easiest matchup for Cook against a strong Jets defense that ranks eighth against the run in our metrics. But New York has allowed its share of big performances to opposing rushers, so we shouldn't be afraid to deploy the Minnesota running back this weekend.

That's because Cook has enjoyed a fantastic role lately. Since Week 6, he's seen a bump in playing time, averaging an 80.4% snap rate while recording 24.2 adjusted opportunities per game. He's also the obvious top option inside the 20-yard line, boasting a 69.2% red zone rush share over this span. At this point, backup Alexander Mattison is getting only a handful of opportunities every week.

Although Cook is facing a tougher defense, game script should be on his side in what is expected to be a competitive contest. The Vikings are 3.0-point home favorites, and the Jets' recent change at quarterback raises the chances of this game exceeding its modest 44.5 total.

Aaron Jones ($7,400): Although Jones is splitting time with A.J. Dillon, he's getting the majority of the snaps (63.2%) and is still averaging 21.8 adjusted opportunities and 93.8 scrimmage yards per game. Dillon's presence hasn't prevented Jones from showing his usual upside, too, as he's scored more than 17 FanDuel points six times this year and surpassed 22 points three times.

This is the right matchup for a spike week against the Bears, a team that's allowed the sixth-most FanDuel points per game to running backs. It also can't hurt that the Packers are 3.5-point road favorites, pointing to a positive game script for their backfield. With just the 12th-highest salary at the position, Jones is an appealing mid-range value play.

David Montgomery ($7,000): We can also hop over to Chicago's side of the aforementioned game, as Green Bay ranks 29th in adjusted rush defense and has coughed up the seventh-most FanDuel points per game to opposing backfields. With Khalil Herbert sidelined, Montgomery has averaged a 73.8% snap rate and 23.5 adjusted opportunities over the last two games, and he's converted that volume into 121 and 113 scrimmage yards.

Justin Fields is practicing this week, which suggests that he should be back under center -- a net positive for this offense. Considering Fields is coming off a shoulder injury, that could also mean that he runs less often, potentially leading to more opportunities for Montgomery, too.

Wide Receivers

Davante Adams ($8,600): Adams had an underwhelming performance in Week 12 -- at least by his lofty standards -- but that just means we're getting him at a slightly lower salary this time around. He still saw double-digit targets for his fourth straight game and should remain heavily involved in this promising game environment against the Chargers.

Overall, Adams has averaged 11.2 targets per game -- the league's most -- with a 32.0% target share and 41.2% air yards share. While the Chargers are more vulnerable to the run, they've still been merely average against the pass, so there shouldn't be any concerns about Adams' ceiling. He's exceeded 20 FanDuel points five times, and three of those performances came in November.

Amon-Ra St. Brown ($8,000): St. Brown continues to be the most reliable way to get a piece of this Lions offense. In his eight games fully healthy games, he's averaging 10.1 targets per game with a 32.0% target share and 29.1% air yards share, and he's failed to score double-digit FanDuel points just once in those weeks.

The Jaguars are capable when it comes to defending the run, but the same can't be said about their pass defense, which sits 28th in our adjusted metrics. Furthermore, Jacksonville is also 25th in adjusted fantasy points allowed per target versus wide receivers.

Our model also likes St. Brown this weekend, pegging him for a top-three projection at the position.

DeVonta Smith ($6,800): With Dallas Goedert out of the picture, there have been fewer mouths to feed in the Eagles' passing attack, and Smith has been a big beneficiary, leading the team in targets over the last two weeks. His share of the pie has grown to a whopping 37.5% target share and 54.4% air yards share over that span.

This isn't to say that Smith has overtaken A.J. Brown as the team's alpha wideout, but the bump in volume is an encouraging sign that Smith could be a more reliable option while Goedert is sidelined. However, due to Hurts and the run game taking center stage over the last couple of weeks, Smith's bump in usage hasn't resulted in big box score results.

That may change against the Titans, a team that's easier to attack through the air. Tennessee has allowed the fifth-fewest FanDuel points per game to running backs but the second-most to wide receivers. That could lead to Hurts relying more on his arm this weekend, opening the door for Smith to take advantage of his improving role.

Garrett Wilson ($6,600): The Jets' change at quarterback is looking like a huge boost to Wilson's fantasy prospects after he posted his second-best performance of the year in Week 12 (23.9 points). While Mike White spread the ball around between 10 different players, Wilson was the clear favorite, logging 8 targets -- 5 more than anyone else -- for a 28.6% target share and 34.5% air yards share.

Wilson has a golden opportunity to cash in with another lucrative outing. Minnesota not only ranks 24th in adjusted pass defense, but they've allowed the 5th-most FanDuel points per game to wide receivers.

Zay Jones ($6,400): Jones has had nearly an every-down role since Week 6, and it's finally started to show in the stat sheet. He's now seen double-digit targets in back-to-back games, leading to a team-high 31.6% target share and 38.4% air yards share over that span. The result has been two straight performances with double-digit FanDuel points, and in Week 12, he blew up for season-highs in receptions (11), yards (145), and FanDuel points (22).

At the risk of chasing points, Jones is in the right spot for another ceiling game versus Detroit. Trevor Lawrence has logged 40 and 37 pass attempts over the last two games, and it wouldn't be surprising to see him air it out yet again if this becomes the high-scoring affair that we expect.

Tight Ends

Pat Freiermuth ($5,900): Unsurprisingly, Travis Kelce's median projection towers over everyone else's at tight end, and he's the clear top option if you can find a way to fit him in. But if you're looking to save cap space, Freiermuth is one of the better choices.

In the three games since the Chase Claypool trade, Freiermuth has been the main beneficiary, averaging 7.7 targets with a team-best 25.0% target share. While only one of those three games has resulted in double-digit FanDuel points, he's in a good situation to post a big score against Atlanta. The Falcons rank 30th in adjusted pass defense this season.

Harrison Bryant ($4,700): With David Njoku already ruled out, Bryant will be Cleveland's top tight end on Sunday, giving us a viable punt play. In the three games Njoku missed all or most of, Bryant's had a limited impact. But he logged a promising 74.4% snap rate, and the debut of Deshaun Watson could lead to a more potent Browns passing attack. The matchup checks out, as well, against a Houston team that's 27th in adjusted pass defense.

There's no question that Bryant has a low floor, but you could do worse than take a shot on the starting tight end for the team with the slate's second-best implied team total (26.75).


Baltimore D/ST ($4,500): Attacking this dreadful Broncos offense is nothing new, and we aren't paying a premium to do so with Baltimore this week. In addition to leading a historically poor offense that is averaging just 14.3 points per game, Russell Wilson has been sacked the second-most (35) times this season. The Ravens are the slate's biggest favorites (8.5 points), likely forcing Wilson into a pass-heavy game script if they can get out to an early lead. Baltimore leads numberFire's D/ST projections and also shakes out as the best point-per-dollar value.

Washington D/ST ($4,100): This should be a tight game between the Commanders and Giants, but with Washington ranked first in adjusted rush defense, it could force New York to pass more often than they would like, potentially leading to sacks and mistakes from Daniel Jones. Jones is tied with Burrow for the NFL's third-most sacks (33), and he had a two-pick game a couple of weeks ago when he was forced to throw against the Lions. The Commanders' defense is projected for the fourth-most points this week.