Week 13 is the final week of the regular season in most season-long leagues. In DFS, it means you only have four more chances to win the NFL FanDuel Sunday Million.
I think ownership will be pretty level this week, so finding straight-up differentiation plays and avoiding chalk altogether may be difficult. Regardless, here are some guys who will be less popular but still attractive options on Sunday.
Chalk: Philip Rivers ($8,000), Josh McCown ($7,700)
Why: Rivers has the best matchup of the week, hosting a Cleveland team that is historically inept at just about everything. Blow-out potential could limit his upside, but a good three quarters against the Browns is more appealing than four against anyone else. Josh McCown has been inexplicably consistent this year, and against a Kansas City defense that ranks among the worst in the league he will be attractive at that $7,700 price point. I think Cam Newton will get some love against the Saints as well.
Seattle’s defense is eighth best in the league according to FanDuel’s metrics. Without Kam Chancellor or Richard Sherman, though, the Legion of Doom certainly isn’t as frightening as the numbers suggest.
Carson Wentz is the hands-down favorite to win NFL MVP. His 9-0 touchdown to interception ratio over the past three games, and the 22-3 rate since Week 5, are both tremendously impressive, even if he is due for some significant regression in the touchdown department.
Seattle is no slouch, even without its top lineup, so that should keep Wentz’s ownership between 6-8%. But Matt Ryan and Deshaun Watson, the top opponents the Seahawks have faced since the end of October, each posted huge games against Seattle. Their other opponents since Week 6 are Jimmy Garoppolo, C.J. Beathard, Drew Stanton and Eli Manning.
Which side do you think Wentz is on?
Derek Carr has a great matchup on Sunday, but he simply hasn’t been good enough to warrant double-digit ownership in Week 13. Even against a New York Giants team that has surrendered the fourth most passing yards to opponents in 2017, most everyone won’t be able to look past the pedestrian numbers Carr has put up all season.
But two touchdowns and 250+ yards is all Carr would need to be attractive at 5% owned, which he won’t be any higher than. He’s averaging over 300 yards per game over his last five, and that includes matchups against Denver and Miami. The ceiling isn’t high, but the performance doesn’t have to be great for him to hit value on Sunday.
CHALK: Jordan Howard ($7,500), LeSean McCoy ($8,200)
Why: Hard to identify real chalk at running back this week, as you can make a case against just about any of the top tier guys. Howard and McCoy are the best backs with the best matchups, though, and I think they’ll be two of the highest owned players at the position on Sunday. Hard to see Kamara not getting lots of love either, even in a really tough matchup against Carolina.
McCaffrey has at least five targets in every game this season, and he’s averaging eight looks per contest since Week 6. Even when he’s had zero success as a rusher, McCaffrey has been consistently productive as a pass catcher for his entire rookie year.
And that’s where McCaffrey’s appeal comes Sunday. The Saints allowed James White to catch 8-8 targets in Week 2, while Theo Riddick hauled in five catches against them in Week 6. McCaffery also had one of his best games of 2017 in Carolina’s Week 3 matchup with New Orleans, hauling in 9-11 targets for 101 yards and 16.2 FanDuel points.
Vegas set the over/under for this game at 48.5, one of the week’s highest totals. McCaffrey will probably be around 10% owned, but the overall success the Saints have had defensively this year should prevent the number from going any higher than that. He’ll be in all my lineups this weekend, though.
Like McCaffrey, Miller has a relatively tough matchup with an opponent he had a lot of success against earlier in the year. In Week 4, Houston’s lead back rushed for 75 yards and caught 4-5 targets for 56 yards, scoring twice along the way. The 27.1-point performance on FanDuel is by far his best of 2017.
The Titans are fifth in the NFL in run defense by FanDuel’s metrics, having held Le’Veon Bell to just 46 yards in Week 11. None of Tennessee’s other running back opponents were overwhelmingly impressive, though, and Bell could have had a big night if he didn’t have a touchdown questionably overturned late in the game. Miller will be 7-8% owned, but his floor has remained high even without Deshaun Watson. I’m buying in again this week.
CHALK: Keenan Allen ($8,100), DeAndre Hopkins ($8,000), Brandin Cooks ($7,600)
Why: Allen has over 300 yards receiving and three touchdowns over his past two games, and the Chargers host the Browns this weekend.. Hopkins hasn’t slowed down with the loss of Deshaun Watson, and he’s basically a lock for 10+ targets and 100ish yards every week. Brandin Cooks is coming off two huge games in a row, and New England’s matchup with Buffalo is Vegas’s highest over/under of the week (49).
Rollin out a mini-Panthers stack, which I’m okay with given the 48 o/u and 3.5-point spread in Sunday afternoon’s New Orleans-Carolina matchup.
As expected, Funchess has been the biggest beneficiary from Kelvin Benjamin’s departure out of Charlotte. Funchess had 12 targets on Sunday against the Jets, and has been thrown to more than six times in every game since Week 1.
Newton and Funchess clearly have some chemistry – more than Cam ever had with Benjamin – and Funchess’ speed gives him the ability to turn any bubble screen into a score.
The Saints’ secondary has been much improved this year, but without starting cornerbacks and potential Defensive Rookie of the Year Marshon Lattimore and Ken Crawley, the unit has been vulnerable and exposed. It’s no guarantee they’ll be back, but at anything less than 100% I like Funchess’ chances to capitalize on lots of volume and the drop in ownership he’ll get with that early-week questionable tag.
I’m certainly not going to be the only one on Devante Adams in the FanDuel Sunday Million, but this pick is more about his absurdly low price than his ownership.
Adams’ salary – like Jordy Nelson’s – has been cut significantly since Aaron Rodgers went down. But unlike Nelson, Adams hasn’t disappeared without Rodgers. Adams has exceeded 16 FanDuel points in each of Green Bay’s past three games, posting at least eight targets, five catches and 80 yards in every game over that span.
Two of those performances came against Baltimore and Pittsburgh, too, and Tampa Bay’s secondary certainly isn’t on that level. At $6,500 and incredibly safe, I’d roster Adams this week even if I knew he’d be 18% owned. Buy.
CHALK: Rob Gronkowski ($8,100), Travis Kelce ($7,000)
Why: Gronk rebounded in a big way last week and should keep rolling along against Buffalo. Kelce has one of the better matchups of the week, and he’s continued posting good numbers even with Alex Smith returning to his standard pedestrian form.
Graham will probably over 10% owned, but this is a good play regardless.
Gronk, Ertz and Kelce should all be more highly owned, so that alone should make Graham appealing. There are a clear top four at the position, and it’s not particularly close. Getting any of those guys for 10% owned and under $7,000 on FanDuel should be a no-brainer.
Philly is at the top of the NFL in overall defense, but it has faced only a few legitimate tight ends this year. Those it has faced have exploded, too, as Travis Kelce and Jordan Reed each have had 20+ FanDuel point performances against the Eagles in 2017. Graham has found the endzone four times in Seattle’s past three games, and overall he’s scored in six of his last seven games. That ugly start to the season seems like months ago now. Probably because it was.
Walker, like Graham, won’t be anywhere near under 5% owned this week, but he’s still one of the most appealing tight ends on Sunday.
Houston is one of the league’s worst at defending the tight end, where its lack of depth at linebacker is exposed. Walker is coming off his fifth-straight 60+ receiving yard performance, so he’s been able to produce at an acceptable level even as Marcus Mariota has looked like of the worst quarterbacks in football.
At $6,400, he’ll be valuable if he can put up 10 FanDuel points and stay under 8% owned. He should do both on Sunday.