FanDuel Daily Fantasy Football Helper: Week 14
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.
Josh Allen ($8,700 on FanDuel): Despite a little more inconsistency of late, Allen is one of just three quarterbacks averaging over 25 FanDuel points per game, and he gets top honors in this week's projections.
This isn't an easy matchup versus the Jets, numberFire's second-best schedule-adjusted pass defense, but the Bills boast the fourth-highest implied team total (26.50) as 10.0-point home favorites, so we shouldn't be too concerned with Allen's ability to put up fantasy points. When the dual-threat faced New York on the road in Week 9, he only threw for 205 passing yards but more than made up for it by rushing 9 times for 86 yards and 2 scores, resulting in 26.8 FanDuel points.
Simultaneously ranking third among quarterbacks in passing yards and fourth in rushing yards, Allen continues to be an elite fantasy option week in and week out.
Jalen Hurts ($8,700): Following back-to-back dominant games on the ground, Hurts reminded everyone that he can sling it a little bit, too, dicing up the Titans for 380 yards and a trio of touchdowns in a blowout victory. Of course, this being Hurts, he still tacked on a rushing score anyway, and despite sitting out much of the fourth quarter, he cracked 34 FanDuel points for the second time this season.
The Giants rank just 22nd in adjusted total defense, per our metrics, and the Eagles enter as 7.0-point road favorites. Seeing as the Giants aren't particularly stout against the run or pass, we could see Hurts get back to his usual tricks on the ground this weekend, too. Not only does he lead all quarterbacks in rushing touchdowns (9) and red zone rush share (43.7%), but he actually has the second-most red zone carries across all positions behind only Jamaal Williams.
Hurts sits just behind Allen in our projections, and you can make a case for either one being the slate's top overall quarterback play.
Joe Burrow ($8,300): Due in part to six teams being on bye, there aren't many high-total games on the menu, but this Browns-Bengals matchup has the slate's second-best mark (46.5), potentially putting Burrow in a solid fantasy-scoring environment.
However, there are more paths to failure than we might like. The familiarity of divisional opponents can often lead to lower-scoring affairs, the Browns are weaker in adjusted rush defense (28th) compared to pass defense (18th), and Deshaun Watson didn't exactly light it up in his Cleveland debut if we're hoping for a shootout.
That being said, this is still a below-average defensive unit, and Burrow has flexed his upside on several occasions this season, scoring 28-plus FanDuel points in four of the last seven games -- and not all of those spike weeks were close contests. Only Patrick Mahomes has thrown for more passing yards in 2022, and Burrow is tied with Allen for the second-most passing touchdowns.
While Burrow may not have the rushing credentials of our previous two entries, he's used his legs to good effect over the last two weeks, rushing for a combined 20 carries, 78 yards, and a touchdown. Overall, he's accrued at least 20 yards on the ground six times this season, and he's actually tied for the third-most quarterback rushing touchdowns (5).
Christian McCaffrey ($8,500): With Elijah Mitchell out of the picture, McCaffrey saw his snap rate jump to 81.0% last week, and with it came 37.0 adjusted opportunities (carries plus 2x targets) and a whopping 146.0 scrimmage yards. This was reminiscent of what we saw from CMC in Week 8 prior to Mitchell's return: an 80.8% snap rate, 36.0 adjusted opportunities, and 149 scrimmage yards.
Although the injury to Jimmy Garoppolo figures to be a net negative for the 49ers' offense, it likely also means that the team can't afford to dial back the snaps of their star running back if they want to keep winning games. While the Buccaneers are a tough matchup for running backs, they are just 25th in adjusted fantasy points allowed per target against the position, which falls right in the wheelhouse of a player who saw a combined 19 targets (28.8% share) in Weeks 8 and 13.
McCaffrey is projected for the second-most FanDuel points at running back.
Joe Mixon ($8,500): Mixon is practicing in full this week, so he should resume his role as the Bengals' lead back against the Browns. He couldn't ask for a better time to return; Cleveland is 28th in adjusted rush defense and has coughed up the third-most FanDuel points per game to running backs.
In his nine healthy games prior to his concussion, Mixon averaged 27.7 adjusted opportunities on a 72.9% snap rate, and he enjoyed a prominent role near the goal line, soaking up 68.2% of the red zone carries.
Five of the eight rushing/receiving touchdowns he's scored all came in one game, but as long as he maintains a similar role in his return, more scores should be in his future -- perhaps beginning this week in such a plum spot.
Tony Pollard ($7,500): Since Ezekiel Elliott returned in Week 11, Pollard has logged a mere 51.0% snap rate, but he's still managed to pile up 118.7 scrimmage yards per game. Averaging just 22.3 adjusted opportunities over this span and ceding much of the red zone work to Elliott, Pollard is more susceptible to a clunker than other top backs, yet it hasn't put a dent in his ceiling after scoring 23.6 FanDuel points last week and 33.9 points three weeks ago.
We've seen it's possible for both running backs to eat when this offense is humming, and that should be the case against the Texans. The Cowboys are 17.5-point home favorites, and like in recent weeks, it wouldn't be the least bit surprising to see Dallas rely heavily on their run game if they get out to an early lead as expected. Houston is 20th in adjusted rush defense, and loss after loss has led to them allowing the most FanDuel points per game to running backs.
D'Andre Swift ($7,200): In an injury-marred campaign, the Lions have been reluctant to fully unleash Swift for pretty much the entire season, but we finally saw him get an encouraging bump in volume last week. In his best fantasy performance since Week 1, Swift racked up 111 scrimmage yards and a touchdown off 26 adjusted opportunities, good for 19.1 FanDuel points and a spot in the Week 13 perfect FanDuel lineup. His 14 carries were his most since Week 1, and his 51.4% snap rate was his highest since Week 8.
Professional touchdown vulture Jamaal Williams still punched in a score from the one-yard line -- as he seemingly does every week -- but Swift was actually the preferred back inside the 20, logging five of seven red zone carries.
While it remains to be seen whether this role sticks moving forward, it's worth taking a shot due to his mid-range salary and inviting matchup against the Vikings. The game has the slate's highest total by far (51.5), and these two teams combined for 52 points when they faced one another in Week 3.
Minnesota is vulnerable to pass-catching backs, ranking 24th in adjusted fantasy points allowed per target versus opposing backfields. Swift has seen 14 targets over the last two weeks (22.9% share), and even with reduced snaps for the majority of the season, he's gotten at least 3 targets in every game he's played.
James Cook ($6,100): Rostering Cook requires buying into a one-game sample, but at this salary, he could be worth the risk in such a potent offense.
In Week 13, Cook recorded season-highs in snap rate (44.4%), carries (14), and targets (6), resulting in 105 scrimmage yards and 13.5 FanDuel points. Even more encouraging was that Cook led the team in red zone rushes (44.4%), doubling up fellow running back Devin Singletary 4 to 2.
Ultimately, Cook saw 26 adjusted opportunities to Singletary's 17, and it sure looks like this will be a more split backfield moving forward. However, Singletary played roughly the same number of snaps and isn't going anywhere, so it isn't a guarantee that Cook will see the same workload as other lead backs we might roster.
But if he flirts with a similar number of opportunities and gets the majority of red zone touches again, our faith could be rewarded against the Jets on Sunday.
Justin Jefferson ($9,300): Jefferson has the highest salary on the entire slate, so making room for him won't be easy, but he'll have tremendous upside in this fantasy-friendly spot versus the Lions. Detroit is 28th in adjusted pass defense, and they've given up the fifth-most FanDuel points per game to wide receivers.
Jefferson himself needs little explanation at this point, coming in with a 29.4% target share and 42.8% air yards share and parlaying that into 106.4 receiving yards per game, second in the NFL to only Tyreek Hill. He's hit 20 FanDuel points six times this season and exceeded 30 points twice. Jefferson is projected for the slate's most points at the position.
Amon-Ra St. Brown ($8,600): If you can't make it up to Jefferson, St. Brown is a fantastic consolation prize in that same game, and even as the wideout with the third-highest salary, he still comes at a fairly significant $700 discount to the Minnesota receiver. In his nine healthy games playing over half the snaps, St. Brown has commanded a 31.8% target share and 29.3% air yards share.
The Vikings' pass defense isn't so hot, either, sitting 23rd in numberFire's rankings while getting smoked for the fourth-most FanDuel points per game by opposing wideouts. St. Brown has gone over 100 yards receiving in three of his last four games, and it wouldn't be shocking to see him do so again this week. He's firmly projected for a top-five finish at the position in numberFire's model.
DeVonta Smith ($7,000): The Slim Reaper continues to boast excellent usage with Dallas Goedert out, now showing a 30.2% target share and 42.6% air yards share over the last three weeks. While he was overshadowed by teammate A.J. Brown last week, Smith posted his second-best fantasy score of the season (18.7 points) by catching 5-of-8 targets for 102 yards and a touchdown.
With his salary only seeing a modest bump, Smith remains an easy guy to stack with Jalen Hurts, and the only real question is whether Hurts will provide enough passing volume to produce tournament-worthy fantasy scores for his pass-catchers. Luckily for Smith, the Giants are just 25th in adjusted pass defense, and they could be without their best cornerback, Adoree' Jackson, again, who's missed practice so far this week.
Tyler Boyd ($5,900): While Ja'Marr Chase and Tee Higgins are the preferred plays to attach to Joe Burrow, they both come with hefty salaries, making them difficult to fit in if you're spending coin at other positions like running back.
Therefore, we shouldn't forget about Boyd as a value option in this passing attack. Overall, Boyd ranks third on the team in target share (14.9%) this year, and the expected absence of fourth option Hayden Hurst (doubtful) and his 14.5% target share could further narrow the target tree this weekend.
The slot receiver may not seem like much of an upside play, but he posted 18.5 FanDuel points in Week 3 and 25.5 points in Week 7, both games in which all three wideouts played. A spike week from Burrow could lift up any of his top wide receivers, including Boyd.
D.J. Chark ($5,700): Digging up any value in the Minnesota-Detroit game could be a winning strategy, and Chark might be the answer. Missing much of the season due to injury, Chark has reemerged as the Lions' top deep threat over the last two games, earning a 14.9% target share with a team-high 41.0% air yards share.
Last week was especially encouraging, as he racked up a season-high 98 receiving yards while also notching season-bests in snap rate (85.1%) and route rate (95.3%). Chark's downfield role means that all he really needs to do is cash in on a handful of chunk plays to pay off his modest salary, and that's firmly on the table in this week's potential shootout.
Pat Freiermuth ($5,800): Travis Kelce laps the field in our tight-end projections as always, so it's really more a matter of whether you're willing to dole out $8,000 to pay for his services. If the answer is no, then turning to Freiermuth is an option again in Week 14.
Pittsburgh's top tight end has an encouraging 23.5% target share over the last four games, and while a lack of touchdowns has prevented him from having a true spike week, he does have two games exceeding 70 yards during this stretch.
The Ravens could be the right matchup to get him over the hump; they're 26th in adjusted fantasy points allowed per target to tight ends. Among tight ends below $6,000, our model pegs Freiermuth as the second-best value play.
Greg Dulcich ($5,400): The top tight end value in our projections is Dulcich, who finally broke a streak of dud performances by catching 6-of-8 targets for 85 yards, giving him double-digit FanDuel points for the first time since Week 8. Dulcich's performance was backed by team-bests in target share (38.1%) and air yards share (42.5%), and it should be music to our ears that he's now being utilized more in a "wide receiver role."
Particularly with Courtland Sutton looking unlikely to play, the tight end should garner plenty of targets as the Broncos try their best to avoid getting blown out by the Chiefs. The only downside is that he could be a popular play at such a weak position, possibly lessening his appeal in tournaments if he becomes too chalky.
Pittsburgh D/ST ($3,800): The Steelers pop as the best way to save at defense as they take on backup quarterback Tyler Huntley and the Ravens. In Huntley's four career starts -- all of which came last season -- he threw at least one interception in three of them, and he tossed a pick in relief of Lamar Jackson last week, as well. Additionally, he has a career 8.2% sack rate, which would be a bottom-10 mark among qualified starters this season. Since T.J. Watt returned in Week 10, this defense has scored double-digit FanDuel points in two of the last four games.
Detroit D/ST ($3,100): Are the Lions a good defense? Absolutely not, but at fantasy's most unpredictable position, you could do worse than take a chance on a defensive unit just $100 above the minimum in a game that should feature a lot of passing. In spite of this defense's well-deserved poor reputation, it's actually hit double-digit FanDuel points three times since the beginning of November, and only one of those was aided by a defensive touchdown. While Kirk Cousins has been solid this year, he's tied for the league's fifth-most interceptions and seventh-most sacks.