Every week of the season, Ricky Sanders will break down NFL GPP tournaments with his core plays, intriguing plays and hot takes. Take home all the money!
NFL GPP Core
Here are the players who will be in a majority of my NFL GPP tournament lineups in Week 14:
Patrick Mahomes – Recommending Patrick Mahomes is obvious and is like recommending readers continue to breathe air but, still, sometimes people need to be reminded of simple things. Since there is plenty of value at both the running back (RB) and wide receiver (WR) positions this week, Mahomes is not incredibly difficult to fit despite his $8,100 cost on DK and $8,900 cost on FD. Recently, the Dolphins defense has been priced amongst the most expensive units in daily fantasy, but that has been largely based on their matchups with quarterbacks (QBs) like Brandon Allen, Sam Darnold and Drew Lock. The Dolphins have been a force defensive unit because they have forced a turnover in 18-consecutive games, but Mahomes is not exactly a turnover machine, as evident by his two interceptions thrown in 2020. If the Dolphins are going to rely on turning Mahomes over, it is going to be a long afternoon, and all the top QBs have torched this defense. Sure, the defense has not faced a competent QB in a while, but Kyler Murray dropped 41 DK fantasy points on this defense, Russell Wilson threw for 360 yards and two scores, and Josh Allen threw for over 400 yards and four TDs. Mahomes is arguably a tier above all three of those studs and should feast in this spot.
Russell Wilson – How is the Jets collection of subpar corners going to limit the production of D.K. Metcalf and company? Well, likely similar to the way they have fared against virtually everyone else: poorly. Those who have worried about opponents running up the score against the Jets potentially limiting the production of the QBs have not fared so well as of late. Dating back to Nov. 11, the only QB who has failed to reach 24.5 DK fantasy points versus the Jets has been Ryan Fitzpatrick. Hell, even Cam Newton approached a ceiling game against this team, and he is on the verge of getting benched. Otherwise, Derek Carr, Justin Herbert and Patrick Mahomes have all exceeded 30 fantasy points versus this team over the course of their last five games alone, and they have depreciated to dead last in passing DVOA. Russell Wilson versus a porous defense is obviously a massive mismatch, and he has been relatively quiet for over a month now. Hopefully, the recent poor performances keep his roster percentage down because this is the perfect bounce-back spot for the entire passing offense.
Tom Brady – As you can probably tell by now, this is not a week to spend down at the QB position, as most of the relatively expensive options are impossible to overlook. Both defenses in this game have allowed a heavy percentage of passing TDs, as the only team with a higher passing TD percentage allowed than either the Vikings or Buccaneers is the Saints. Basically, this is the perfect game environment to turn into a pass-a-thon simply due to the constructs of the defenses, and the Vikings allow the seventh-most passing yards per game. Most of Brady’s struggles have come when throwing the ball downfield, and this Vikings team will easily be Brady’s worst opponent of the season in terms of explosive pass play percentage allowed (more analysis on this fact to come in later tidbits). The weather in Tampa Bay should be amongst the most ideal conditions on the slate, and the team implied total is approaching 30-points, so there is really no reason to fear this spot. In a game where Brady should finally hit some receivers over the top, the ceiling is there for the 43-year-old.
Myles Gaskin – After receiving 75-percent of the team’s carries in Week 13, Myles Gaskin will now face the 30th ranked DVOA rushing defense. Of course, it needs to be noted that Gaskin was only targeted twice in a week where Lynn Bowden Jr. and Patrick Laird were the only other backs to receive touches, but that was in a game flow where the team led for almost the entire second half. Honestly, the rushing work alone may be enough to pay off the $5,600 price point against a defense that has allowed 1,281 yards rushing to the RB position, including a whopping 5.7 yards per rush to the position over the course of the last two weeks combined. The one issue with the matchup versus the Chiefs is the fact offenses are often playing from behind against them and, consequently, 66-percent of the TDs produced against them have come via the air. Still, Gaskin’s 5.3-percent target share was likely an outlier on the low side, considering his 14.4-percent target share over the entirety of the season. Not only does Gaskin make logical sense as the run-back in Patrick Mahomes lineups, but he is easily cheap enough to easily fit alongside any elite QB on the slate (and still have enough money to spend at other positions). UPDATE: Gaskin was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list. DeAndre Washington is now a solid dirt cheap target instead of Gaskin.
J.D. McKissic – Speaking of cheap options at RB, J.D. McKissic has become sort of the Austin Ekeler of the East, as he was targeted 10-plus times for the third time in five weeks last game. For the first time all year, McKissic caught double-digit passes, and it coincidentally was his first game playing without backfield mate Antonio Gibson. Due to a painful case of turf toe, Gibson will sit out Week 14 as well, leaving McKissic as the team’s top back in a game where they are 3.0-point underdogs. According to Vegas, there is a decent chance the Football Team is playing from behind in this one, which is the perfect game flow for a back so heavily-reliant on catching passes. Sans Gibson, McKissic played a season-high 73.6-percent of the snaps, with Peyton Barber only making it on the field for 33.3-percent of the snaps. At $4,900, McKissic is essentially a high-volume WR2 who also garners around one-quarter of the rushing market share (at least he did in the one-game sample without Gibson). Combined, that is plenty of volume to warrant the cheap price point, and he should be a point-per-dollar dandy on Sunday.
Aaron Jones – The sole reason Aaron Rodgers is not included in the core this week is because Aaron Jones exists. Overall, the Lions defense ranks dead last in DVOA, and they rank in the bottom five against both the pass and the run. As of Saturday, the Packers are listed as more than full TD favorites, which means this game possesses the potential to get out of hand for the Lions. With the Packers likely playing from ahead, Jones should factor quite heavily into the game-plan, and he is coming off a week in which he out-touched Jamaal Williams 18-7. The 11-touch discrepancy was the largest touch differential between the two in a month and could signify a larger workload this week. It only took 15 rushes for Jones to rack up 130 rushing yards last week, and he has topped 5.0 yards per carry (YPC) in back-to-back games…and that is prior to facing this porous Lions run defense. Jones finding the end zone will likely cut into the ceiling of Rodgers, and that is my main concern for playing a very chalky Packers QB. On the other hand, do not be afraid to pair Jones and the team’s top receiver, Davante Adams, in the same lineup that does not include Rodgers (because of the slate-high implied total from a multi-dimensional Packers offense).
Davante Adams – To put Davante Adams’ season into perspective, the man has failed to reach 26 DK fantasy points just twice over the course of his last seven games, and the two outlier low performances bottomed out at 18.1 DK fantasy points. Amazingly, he has averaged 27.9 DK fantasy points per game (FPPG) in 10 games this season and has already caught a whopping 13 TD passes. The Lions corners are amongst the worst in the league, and somehow Adams’ first game against the Lions proved to be his worst overall output of the entire season. Contextually, this outcome makes little sense, as the Lions rank 25th in DVOA versus number one receivers, and they have only shadowed opposing receivers twice all season with minimal success. Roster percentage be damned here because it is beyond unlikely this awful Lions secondary is able to keep him quiet twice in the same season.
D.J. Chark – Titans cornerback Malcolm Butler has graded about as well as any of the Titans corners, but that is not exactly saying much. When targeted this year, Butler has allowed a 94.1 QB rating, including 1.31 yards per coverage snap. Butler’s strength is playing up on receivers but struggles when receivers are able to get behind him. In other words, the matchup versus D.J. Chark is a brutal one for him, as Chark is a 98th percentile 40-yard dash, 96th percentile speed score sort of receiver, per player profiler. Chark’s ability to take the top off the defense is basically Butler’s kryptonite, and he should be doing so in a game where the Jaguars are expected to be playing from behind. Opposing receiving corps have combined for over 45 DK fantasy points versus the Titans in eight of the last 11 games against them (including the first game where the Jaguars played the Titans this season). Of course, Gardner Minshew will not be the man under center this go-around, but Mike Glennon still displayed a willingness to target Chark early and often last week (seven total targets). In a come-from-behind game script this week, look for Chark to see both quality and quantity in the target department.
Tee Higgins – Unfortunately, all Bengals receivers have depreciated in raw targets per game since the injury to Joe Burrow. Naturally, without the star youngster in action, the team has shifted to not being as pass-happy as before, and the lack of volume has hurt the productivity of the receivers. Still, that does not exactly mean the receivers are dead, as Tyler Boyd/Tee Higgins have combined for 11-plus targets each of the two weeks Brandon Allen has started. Notably, both those games came against much more competent defenses than the upcoming matchup versus the Cowboys, and most will probably just straight up overlook this game. Higgins leads the team in targets since the switch to Allen, and he has shown a much smoother connection with Allen than Boyd. While Boyd has only caught 40-percent of his targets in Allen’s two starts, Higgins has caught 77.0-percent of his, and he has out-targeted Boyd 13-10. A sub-20 point implied total leaves much to be desired, but Higgins appears to be emerging as Allen’s top option, and the Bengals are expected to be playing from behind. This offense is brutal to the point I would roster at most one Bengal in any lineup, but Higgins is definitely my preferred member from the team.
Mike Evans – Volume has not been the issue for Mike Evans as of late, as he has been peppered with 29 targets over the course of the past three weeks combined. Instead, the issue has been Tom Brady’s depreciation in the downfield passing game, as he went a three-week stretch without completing a downfield pass (he was 0-19 from weeks 8-11 with a 0:3 TD:INT ratio). Overall, Brady leads the league in deep yards and completions, as well as drops on passes 20 yards downfield (Evans is tied for 18th in the league with five drops already this season). Luckily for a QB willing to take deep shots and a WR with the skill set to catch passes downfield, this will be the most susceptible defense to downfield passes that the team has faced all year long. Thus far, the Vikings defense has allowed explosive pass plays at a 10-percent rate, which puts them 28th in the league. Through 12 games, the worst defense the Buccaneers have faced in explosive pass play defense has ranked 25th (Bears), and Evans went 5-41-1 (on nine targets) in that contest. Amazingly, Evans has only failed to score in three games so far, and only one team has yielded more receiving TDs to the WR position than the Vikings (Cowboys). Since there are three receivers to choose from on this team, Evans is unlikely to be popular despite the matchup jumping off the page for many reasons.
Travis Kelce – Big surprise here, but the best tight end (TE) in the league by a wide margin is a play in daily fantasy football. People in the industry are going to cite the quiet game from George Kittle against the Dolphins defense as a reason to fade Travis Kelce, but there is a lot more to the analysis than the simple straight line. Unlike the 49ers offense from earlier in the year, there are multiple elite players on the Chiefs offense, and it should be noted the 49ers starting QB suffered an injury midway through that game against the Dolphins. A healthy Patrick Mahomes is very different than the Jimmy Garoppolo/C.J. Beathard duo, and the offensive talent can succeed against any defense. The Dolphins rank as nothing more than a league-average defense versus passes to the middle of the field, so there is no reason to believe they are a unit that should simply blank Kelce. Especially in Mahomes lineups, there is no reason to pray for one-yard TDs in the cheap TE tier, so just go ahead and take the guaranteed Kelce production.
Hayden Hurst – Preseason darling Hayden Hurst has not had the Austin Hooper-esque season many of us were probably hoping for, but his volume in the passing game has remained remarkably consistent with/without Julio Jones. Hurst has remarkably been targeted exactly 5.67 times per game when Jones has played and 5.67 times per game in the three games in which Jones has not played. It all comes down to matchups for Hurst, and the Chargers rank 26th in DVOA versus passes to the middle of the field and 27th in DVOA versus the TE position. Essentially, the matchup is bordering on elite this week, and 26-implied points is a big number for a Jones-less Falcons offense (especially on the road). Most playing Herbert stacks will run them back with Calvin Ridley, but Hurst is a lot more affordable and has received four end-zone targets over the course of the last three weeks. Crazily, Hurst has one fewer end-zone target than Jones has this season (mind you, Jones has been hurt), and this is the perfect defense for him to excel against.
Intriguing Plays of the Week
CeeDee Lamb – It feels weird to harp on a game with just a 43-point total, but the field is not on this game at all, and it has some pieces to help us differentiate. With Dak Prescott under center, Amari Cooper was leading the receivers in targets per game, but that has since changed with Andy Dalton. In the seven games playing alongside Dalton, Lamb leads the receiving core with 8.3 targets per game, and yet he has only scored one TD with all the targets. Bad luck and just an overall poor offense can be blamed for the struggles, but now the team will face another one of the worst defenses in the league. Receivers have already caught 14 TDs against the Bengals, and the focus of top corner William Jackson III will almost assuredly be Cooper. The Bengals have held their own against number one receivers but have struggled against the others, and I do not like defensive coordinators scheming Lamb as if he is the team’s top option. Consequently, he should thrive here, and yet he is another cheap option that opens up enough salary to potentially fit the elite QBs alongside Davante Adams, Derrick Henry, etc.
Jamison Crowder – After only one down game from Jamison Crowder playing alongside Sam Darnold, analysts (myself included) gave up on him last week but, props to EliteFantasy’s C.J. Kaltenbach, because he remained bullish on Crowder last week…and he delivered in a big way (two TDs). In four games with Darnold this year, Crowder has averaged 8.75 targets per game and has scored thrice, while his targets per game dropped by 1.5 in the four games without him. No defense has defended the middle of the field worse than the Seahawks, who rank dead last in DVOA versus passes in that direction. Naturally, slot receivers spend most of their time in the middle of the field, so, while playing from behind, expect Darnold to continuously look his way.
Giovani Bernard – After the Cowboys allowed 200 rushing yards to the Ravens RBs alone last week, it is surprising to see the lack of buzz surrounding Giovani Bernard this week. Again, the Bengals are a max one player from their squad situation for me this week, but Bernard has to be towards the top of the list given the Cowboys rank dead last in rushing DVOA. Sure, Bernard’s raw touches have been down as of late, but Cincinnati ranks second to last in time of possession over the course of their last three games. Now, against a Cowboys defense that rarely finds a way to leave the field, they should possess the football for around 30-minutes, even in a worst-case scenario. More offensive opportunities will help Bernard’s cause, as he still has handled 53-plus percent of the rushing workload over the course of the last month and has garnered a 12.6-percent target share during that span. Although that does not make him a true workhorse, it is certainly close enough against the league’s worst rushing defense.
Mike Williams – This one is simple: funnel-to-the-pass defense and Mike Williams is $3,000 cheaper than the much more popular Keenan Allen. With Austin Ekeler as the team’s main back, this is a team committed to the pass, and the underdog Chargers will undoubtedly be throwing throughout. Williams is both huge and fast, so he can both stretch the field and receive targets in the red zone. What else is there really to say here? Oh, by the way, he costs just $4,700.
QB Pool in 150 Lineup MME Set
Russell Wilson – 25%
Patrick Mahomes – 20%
Tom Brady – 20%
Justin Herbert – 20%
Aaron Rodgers – 5%
Matt Ryan – 5%
Mike Glennon – 5%
QB Underweight Play of the Week: Anyone not in the QB pool
RB Underweight Play of the Week: James Robinson/David Montgomery
WR Underweight Play of the Week: Adam Thielen
TE Underweight Play of the Week: Darren Waller
Potential Slate Edges: Mike Evans/D.J. Chark
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