FantasyDraft: NFL DFS Week 12 – Winston is a Road Warrior

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FantasyDraft week 12, welcome to the final quarter of the regular season. This week we are taking a calculated risk in not paying up for WR Michael Thomas or RB Christian McCaffrey. They will both likely continue to play at a high-level, but by avoiding their top price we were able to put together a very balanced lineup. We also discovered some very unique split stats that weighed into our lineup construction.

The DFS Fantasy Foreplay podcast will be posted at the top of this article sometime on Saturday.  Both will be entered into the FantasyDraft Week 12 Hooters $250 K ($35k to 1st) Main Event.

QB (Salary on FantasyDraft)

QB Jameis Winston ($11,200) is the third-leading passer with 3,078 yards. With 19 TDs, Winston is tied with the fourth-most passing TDs. While Winston has racked up gaudy stats, he has been a far better QB while on the road this season. Winston’s biggest downside is his propensity for throwing INTs and leads with 18. Here is the interesting thing: 15 of the 18 INTs have come in home games where his passer rating is a poor 65.5. Winston’s passer rating on the road is very respectable at 99.1. Winston has also thrown more TD passes on the road at 11. Here is another oddity: 13 of the 19 TD passes have come in losses. Winston is on the road against the Falcons who have allowed 22.6 fantasy points to QB, tied for sixth-most. This game has the highest over-under at 51.5 and the Falcons are 4.5 favorites. In an arguably unusual way, all of the stats point to Winston having a big day.

Alternative QBs (Salary on FantasyDraft)

ATL QB Matt Ryan ($12,300) has thrown for more than three hundred yards in seven of nine games. Ryan is at home to face the Buccaneers who have allowed the second-most passing yards (3,034), passing TDs (25), and fantasy points per game (25.9). Matty Ice is similar to Winston in that he played better on the road than at home where he is this week. Ryan has one less passing TD (18) than Winston and 15 of those 18 TDs have come on the road. The stat line continues in the same fashion for wins vs. losses, 12 of Ryan’s TD passes have come in losing efforts. Despite being at home and the favorite to win in the highest projected over-under of the week, the better and cheaper play appears to be Winston over Ryan.

QB Dak Prescott ($10,900) appears to be a value at his price. We are avoiding Prescott because he faces the Patriots who have allowed a league-best just 10.0 fantasy points a game to QBs. The current forecast also calls for rain which typically does not bode well for QBs.

DET QB Jeff Driskel ($10,500) has performed well from a fantasy perspective in his two starts (19.06, 27.46). Driskel hasn’t lit it up through the air with only 478 (269, 209) combined yards and three (2,1) TDs in those games. Driskel has added to his overall performance with his legs by rushing for a combined 88 (37,51) yards and a TD. Driskel matchup against the Redskins is above average. Washington has allowed 19.3 fantasy a game.  Driskel may not light up the scoreboard, but he has an excellent opportunity to provide at least a 2X return and provides value at his price.

WRs (Salary on FantasyDraft)

TB WR Mike Evans ($14,500) and ATL WR Julio Jones ($15,000) faceoff and offer an intriguing alternative cheaper to NO WR Michael Thomas ($17,600). When the two last played in Week 17 last year, Evans scored 31.60 points, and Jones scored 31.80. The Buccaneers and Falcons pass defense are both among the league-worst. The Bucs are the league-worst at 49.3 points a game allowed, and the Falcons are the seventh-worst at 40.4 points. Evans faces off against CB Isaiah Oliver who has a 65.5% catch rate and 1.95 points per target. Jones faces off against CB Sean Murphy-Bunting who has allowed a 55.6% catch rate and 2.17 fantasy points per target. Evans and Jones are listed together, but we are going with Evans because of the stack with Winston.

NYJ WR Jamison Crowder (11,700) has scored a TD in three straight games and has been targeted 23 times in that stretch. Crowder has a great opportunity to extend his scoring streak this weak against the Raiders in his matchup against OAK CB Lamarcus Joyner. “Joyner has been covering the slot and not doing a good job at it,” wrote Mike Woellert in his weekly WR vs CB Matchup column at 4for4. “Joyner has been responsible for two scores and has given up 237 yards in coverage, resulting in 1.9 fantasy points per target.”

Alternative WRs (Salary on FantasyDraft)

NO WR Michael Thomas ($17,600) has caught at least five passes in every game he has played this season. Five receptions were the low for Thomas in Week 3 against the Seahawks and in that game he still scored 16.40 fantasy points which were also his lowest fantasy production.  Thomas has not scored less than 25.10 points in the last four games and that came against a good Bears defense in Week 7. This week, Thomas faces a Panthers defense that has allowed a fifth-most 41.3 fantasy points a game against WRs.

PIT WR James Washington ($9,300) could be a great value play because he is likely to see more targets and has a great matchup against CIN CB B.W. Webb. “JuJu Smith-Schuster is not expected to play this week, so an extra six or seven targets have opened up for the Pittsburgh receivers,” wrote Woellert. “Mason Rudolph already seems to favor Washington based on their history together. The Bengals are a really bad defense, so is it unreasonable to think Washington can grab eight targets this week? Webb allows chunks of yardage, allowing 21.6 yards per catch. Although Webb has only given up one score, he’s allowing 2.5 fantasy points per target. If Washington receives eight targets and can haul in six or seven and a score, that’s a nice fantasy day.”

TE (Salary on FantasyDraft)

Jared TE Jared Cook ($7,700) has scored a TD in three of the last four games and his lowest fantasy score in that span was 11.3 points against the Buccaneers last week. The matchup is not ideal against the Panthers who have allowed just 8,6 fantasy points a game to TEs, third-best. Cook does offer a decent floor at a low price with TD upside and that upside may be higher than most who play the Panthers because of the Saints’ high-powered offense.

Alternative TEs (Salary on FantasyDraft) 

PIT Vance McDonald ($6,200) frequently appears in the FantasyPros optimizer this week. McDonald has a reception in every game going back to when the FantasyDraft game logs start in Week 6 of last season. He has had at least three receptions in each of the last four games. He faces a Bengals defense that while generally is poor, is near the center of the pack against TEs. The Steelers offense should be able to move the ball against Cincinnati. McDonald will help between the 20s and provides a nice red-zone target at a cheap price.

RBs/Flex (Salary on FantasyDraft)

NO Alvin Kamara ($15,900) rushed 13 times for 75 yards and caught all 10 of his passes for additional 47 yards against the Buccaneers. His role as a pass-catcher combined with his rushing attempts is most reflective of CAR RB Christian McCaffrey is used. Kamara has a much better matchup than McCaffrey. Kamara faces a Panthers defense that has allowed a fourth-most 28.6 fantasy points a game to RBs, The Panthers have allowed the most rushing TDs at 15. The Saints allow the fourth-least at 17.8 points and only three rushing TDs. Despite the defenses, McCaffrey may still score more points than Kamara in this matchup between the RBs. The matchup suggests that Kamara has a legitimate shot to score more than McCaffrey and the Saints defense should at least limit McCaffrey’s ceiling. The $3,300 in savings for Kamara, vs. McCaffrey, allows for a more balanced lineup.

TEN RB Derrick Henry ($12,900) ran 23 times for 188 yards and two TDs against the Chiefs in Week 10 to score 36.10 points. Henry racked up 24.90 points against the Panthers in Week 9.  Now after a bye, Henry is well-rested and facing a Texans team that is missing a player on defense and has struggled against the run in recent weeks

“After losing defensive tackle Marcell Dareus a few weeks back, they’ve allowed the Texans and Colts to combine for 409 yards on 56 carries (7.30 yards per carry) with three touchdowns, and that doesn’t even include the nine receptions for 123 yards through the air,” wrote Mike Tagliere in his weekly column The Primer for FantasyPros. “Truth be told, they’ve been struggling against the run all year, but it’s intensified over the last few weeks. The 5.41 yards per carry they’ve allowed this year is 0.36 more yards per carry than any other team. Henry totaled just 44 yards on 17 carries in their first matchup, though it’s important to remember they didn’t have starting left tackle Taylor Lewan for that game. Remember last year when Henry had that game where he totaled 238 yards and four touchdowns? That was against the Jaguars. While that won’t happen again, you should be banking on a massive game out of him here. Over their last two games, the Jaguars have allowed five top-24 PPR running backs. He’s a high-end RB1 this week and a great DFS play.”

CLE Kareem Hunt ($8,900) may be the only player that costs less than $9,000 who offers a solid floor while also offering a high ceiling. While teammate RB Nick Chubb rightfully is still receiving the bulk of the carries for the Browns, Hunt has 10 (4,6) carries and 13 (6,7) receptions since his return two games ago. The receptions provide a solid floor at about 1x value. Hunt’s 13.10 average is near 1.5 x return. Hunt has yet to score a TD which would have greatly increased his return to value.  Hunt faces a Dolphins defense that has allowed a seventh-most 28.0 points a game to RBs. If the Browns continue to use Hunt as a pass-catcher, in the same way, they have over the last two weeks, then Hunt has a reasonable opportunity to break off a big play for a TD.

SF Tevin Coleman ($10,600) has at least 13 total touches and two receptions in each of the last six games. Coleman’s production has greatly varied, but in that span has demonstrated the potential to be a pivotal piece of winning GPP lineup. In Week 8 against the Panthers, Coleman had 11 carries for 105 yards and three TDs and two receptions for 13 yards and another TD for a total of 40.80 fantasy points. That performance may be an anomaly, but the potential for another solid return exists this week against the Green Bay.  The Packers have allowed the second-most rushing TDs at 11 and third-most fantasy points a game to RBs at 29.6 points.

Alternative RBs (Salary on FantasyDraft)

CAR RB Christian McCaffrey ($19,200) has scored 20 or more fantasy in eight straight games. “He could become the 13th player to reach nine straight this week,” according to the 4for4. Due to his volume of receptions, McCaffrey will likely continue to score an insane amount of fantasy points each and every week. His ceiling may be somewhat capped this week against the Saints who have allowed six (3 rushing, 3 receiving) TDs to RBs all season and have third-best 17.8 fantasy points a game to the position.

CLE RB Nick Chubb ($15,300) is projected by many to be the second-highest PPR RB on Sunday behind McCaffrey. There is an argument to made to play both Hunt and Chubb against the poor defense of the Dolphins.

GB RB Aaron Jones ($12,300) frequently showed up in optimized lineups. Jones is coming off a phenomenal game against the Panthers in Week 10 when he rushed for 93 yards and three TDs on just 13 carries. Jones is now rested coming off the bye. There are some concerns that Jones will continue to roll this week against the 49ers. San Fransico has only allowed three total TDs (all rushing) to RBs this season and a measly 17.3 fantasy points to RBs, tied for second-best.

Team Defense (Salary on FantayDraft)

The Pittsburgh Steelers defense ($6,300) had a tough outing last week against the Browns when they scored just 1 point. In the seven weeks prior, their worst performance was 11 points including a 25 point performance in Week 10 against the Rams. They have a primo matchup this week against the Bengals and will likely return to a double-digit score.

Putting it all Together

FantasyDraft Week 12 Lineup

Photo Credit: FantasyDraft


QB Jameis Winston has a great opportunity to have another 300 yards game with multiple TD passes. WRs Evans and Crowder are both in great matchups and will likely see a 15 to more than 20 combined targets. TE Jared Cook is in a tough matchup but has seen consistent red-zone targets. RBs Kamara and Henry have an opportunity to be among the top-five RBs this week. RBs Coleman and Hunt provide excellent value and are in great matchups. The Steelers defense will likely be among the top-scoring defenses for the week.





Update: On Friday, it was announced PIT RB James Conner (shoulder, $14,300) is ruled out for Sunday. This makes PIT RB Jaylen Samuels ($12,900) a must play against the Bengals defense that has allowed a fourth-most 29.1 points a game to RBs. Samuels is a pass-catcher who has averaged over five receptions a game over the last six.

The Steelers will also likely be without WR JuJu Smith-Schuster (concussion/knee, $12,600), both Samuel and WR James Washington ($9,300) should see additional targets with the absence of Smith-Schuster.

Samuels has replaced ATL RB Tevin Coleman ($10,600) in our lineup. To make create the salary space for that move, Washington has replaced NYJ WR Jamison Crowder ($11,700).

This left $400 on the table and allowed us to move up from NO TE Jared Cook ($7,700) to PHI TE Dallas Goedert ($8,100). Goedert has a far better matchup against the Seahawks who have allowed an eight-most 14.2 fantasy points a game to TEs.

New Lineup

Week 12 Updated FantasyDraft lineup

Photo Credit: FantasyDraft

Mix It Up

To protect yourself from a duplicate lineup, it’s wise to not exactly play any lineup you find on-line. This lineup will be entered into the FantasyDraft Week 12 Hooters $250 K ($35k to 1st) Main Event and likely at least one other contest. If you are playing on FantasyDraft, please switch out at least one player.

Make the right selection with IroniqMedia for all of your DFS coverage.

Follow Dan on Twitter @sandiegosports.

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