Some of us tried to hold on to our hold ideas and the result was nil. Therefore, this week, this is a “HEY, DON’T PLAY THIS GUY!” article, but an “if you wanna jam in all of the guys you love, play this guy to allow you the salary cap room to do so” article.
The two main rules to this week are:
- Pay attention to Twitter on Sunday morning. The Rotoworld NFL feed is a great way to do so while nursing the NYE hangover.
- Value plays are site-dependent. FanDuel and DraftKings have more differences than just the half point per reception versus the full point. The flex on DK instead of the kicker completely changes roster construction, giving you more versatility in how we choose to utilize value. FantasyDraft has the same scoring as DK and pricing algorithm, but they give you two flexes, making it much easier to play a ton of high-priced players by using the extra spot for more cheap plays. And Week 17 is a great week for cheap plays because of all the second stringers getting massive volume or additional run.
Finding value starts by knowing who is not playing, looking at who is playing, analyzing the situation (surrounding dependent pieces, Vegas lines, coaching philosophy, #narratives surrounding the teams) to try to figure out their usage, and, then—after all that—looking at matchups. Matchups are not irrelevant, but three things can conquer matchups:
- Offensive line talent for RBs, quarterback talent for WRs;
All of that said, I don’t think we really need to reach too far to find cheap plays with questionable matchups.
Tom Savage vs TEN (6.6k/10.6k)
Savage killed it in the preseason and is already doing what all successful young QBs do: give their best WR the ball more than anything. There is nothing worse for an offense led by a young QB than turnovers or getting bullied by the #1 wideout. DeAndre Hopkins is getting around 35% of the targets with Savage under center.
The Texans are locked into the playoffs, but they wasted so much time with Brock Osweiler being terrible that I am sold on the narrative that Savage needs more in-game reps. If anything makes me wonder how long the starters play, it is the Vegas line.
Houston is a 3.5-point underdog, but that is likely because defensive players are highly likely to rest and Lamar Miller will sit out to let his knee heal. The source of fear is the low over-under of 40.5. Can we really start a QB whose team is projected by Vegas to score fewer than 20 points, let alone as little as the Browns (18.5)?
Yes, and this is why:
|Quarterbacks vs TEN, 2016|
The Titans are a hot mess. Two 325-plusers for Blake “I Prefer to Throw to the Other Team” Bortles with a three TD game in there. Matt “Five INT” Barkley (FIVE!!!) had a 300 and three in there. Cody “I Lost My Job to RG3” Kessler went for 336 and two. Earlier this year, Brock “I Lost My Job to Tom Savage” Osweiler threw for 254 and two.
At 6.6k on FD and 10.6k on Draft, you can get 18 points from a 250 and two, still affording yourself to absorb an INT. The upside is literally in the ballpark of 330 and three, which smashes value on all sites.
I was all-in on Bortles last week against the Titans in cash and GPPs, so why not Savage?
My only reservation is not that Aaron Rodgers (8.8k/14.5k) is the best QB is football right now against a Lions team sitting with the worst DVOA against the pass or that no team total comes close to Matt Ryan (8.7k/14.4k) and the Falcons (31.75). My concern is that this “just too cheap” logic to playing Savage can be applied to playing:
- Landry Jones (6.0k/10.0k) against a Browns squad which is 30th in DVOA against the pass and 31st in fantasy points allowed to QBs at the absolute minimum on Draft; and
- E.J. Manuel (5.0k/10.0k) at the absolute minimum on both sites, facing another used-up condom in a Jets squad which ranks 31st in DVOA against the pass.
Jones and the Steelers have a really nice team total of 24.5 (by comparison, the Saints, in the most coveted game of the week, are implied at 24.75); Manuel and the Bills are implied to score 22.75; he was great in the preseason, has a history with Sammy Watkins, and has a lot to prove. Manuel is a single digit fantasy game away from doughnuts in a bunk bed with JaMarcus Russell becoming his new Sunday tradition.
My reservation with those two is volume. I trust the Steelers and Bills to run heavy with Deangelo Williams/Fitzgerald Toussaint and LeSean McCoy/Mike Gillislee a whole hell of a lot more than I can trust the Texans to make Sunday an Alfred Blue game.
Am I, personally, going to go the cheap route over Rodgers and Ryan? Not sure. Honestly, considering just meeting in the middle with Russell Wilson (7.6k/12.7k) to make myself feel better about Doug Baldwin (7.1k/13.7k) not making the cut in a lineup because I had to spend down to Michael Thomas (6.7k/12.6k).
RIght now, Savage is my cash QB, actually, until I find a way to make Rodgers or Ryan work with a RB who cannot be ignored.
Dion Lewis at MIA (5.2k/7.8k)
The Patriots are 9.0-point favorites on the road, suggesting that sharp money sees New England running up the score. Matt Moore has multiple TDs in each of his two starts, but only 236 and 233 yards. The Vegas-implied Dolphins total of 17.75—the lowest, outside of only the Rams against the Seahawks—suggests that Moore’s TD regression is going to hit hard. That is good for the Patriots’ time of possession and, therefore, Lewis.
Lewis has 20 and 17 touches over the last two weeks and has not even been used in the passing game, yet.Last season, he had 50 targets in seven games; this year, he only has 22 in six games. Some of this is James White taking over that role, but I (admittedly) have a bias that this is Belichickian trickery—to use Lewis as a rusher almost every time he is on the field. Belichitrickery, if you will, because Belitrickery would be too easy to pronounce.
The trickery could end this week some receiving work because he is simply an easy checkdown, but the trickery could end by giving him red zone usage to cross the roles even further.
LeGarrette Blount (7.6k/10.6k) is very tempting in a vacuum, but we cannot pay Devonta Freeman (8.0/13.3k) levels of pricing on FD or Ty Montgomery (6.7k/10.9k) levels on Draft for him. Getting exposure to the Patriots team total through Lewis may not be the safest (as safe would only be in Tom Brady, and he is not safe this week), but it is the cheapest.
Rex Burkhead vs BAL (4.5k/7.0k)
If Jeremy Hill is out—and he is expected to be out—it is all systems go on Burkhead in FantasyDraft lineups where the scoring gives us a full point per reception and we have to play two flexes. He and David Johnson together cost 25.6k. On average, that is cheaper than Freeman.
A.J. Green is out, while Tyler Eifert and Giovani Bernard are on I.R. Burkhead is a great way to lock in 14-plus points from seven catches and maybe 10-12 carries with fantasy point upside in the 20s. The Ravens are 24th in DVOA against receiving backs and 21st against short passes. It is a massive funnel spot for Burkhead.
On FD—with no flex, so we can only play two RBs—Burkhead is strictly a low-exposure GPP play to pivot off of Deangelo Williams (4.5k/10.4k), in the case that Williams is highly limited. But, in cash, on FD, where TDs are more important, we have to punt toward a better volume rusher.
The best guy right now may be Williams. It may be Jacquizz Rodgers (5.2k/9.7k) or Chris Ivory (5.3k/8.1k), but it is impossible to know until we know who gets scratched on Sunday morning.
Deangelo Williams vs CLE (4.5k/10.4k)
Buried the lede on the RB section, I guess. On FD, Williams is an autoplay. The Browns are 31st in DVOA against the run. There is a great argument for Darren McFadden (4.5/8.4k) because of the elite Dallas offensive line and the comparable usage he should receive, but...
A dirty, little secret is that the Steelers’ offensive line is giving 0.05 more yards than the Cowboys’ to their RBs with which to work. PIT’s O-line has 4.47 adjusted line yards per carry to DAL’s 4.42 on the season. The matchup is more than a tiebreaker. It should set us over the edge with any comp under 6.0k on FD.
Eli Rogers vs CLE (4.7k/7.8k)
With no Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell, Antonio Brown, Ladarius Green, and likely Sammie Coates, Eli Rogers is the man in this passing game. As is always the concern without Ben, though, what does that mean?
We have seen it usually mean that everything turns to shit, but this is the Browns, who are 30th in DVOA against the pass and against WR1s. If the only concern is Jones getting him the ball, effectively, but still knowing the ball will go Rogers’ way, then, we just plug him in, sweat it out, and spend the freed up salary on David Johnson.
Will Fuller vs TEN (5.1k/8.8k)
Hopkins should be chalky this week and we do not need to go there. Savage can be played naked because Fuller is in a great spot, too.
The Titans are giving up the most yards per game to WR2s and you have the list of teams they have faced on this page. One approach to playing Fuller is to stack him with Savage—especially on FantasyDraft, where they are both free. Another is that you think I made sense above, but cannot bring yourself to rostering Savage.