On one of my FFPC Main Event teams, I lost three elite studs in one afternoon. The onslaught commenced early on as I tuned into the Vikings/Ravens duel just in time to see Adrian Peterson writhing on the ground in pain. Awesome. Only a short time thereafter, I lost Rob Gronkowski to a torn ACL and a torn MCL. Sweet. He’s out for the season. Later on that afternoon, the good times continued to roll when Wes Welker was concussed and was forced to leave against the Titans. He is likely to miss Thursday’s bout against the Chargers. But you know what? That doesn’t really get me down. Injuries are part of the game. I’ve been through enough of them that it’s like water off a duck’s back. What really gets my goat is misinformation, and the Motor City has taken pride in disseminating it each and every time there is an opportunity. Fifteen minutes prior to kickoff, I received word that Reggie Bush may have tweaked his calf during warm-ups. Great. What is an owner competing for $250,000 to do? Based on precedent (he was benched at Heinz Field for fumbling, field conditions or a minor injury, depending on which source you believe), I decided to bench him for Justin Hunter. Three minutes before kickoff, multiple tweets were cautiously expressing optimism, stating that he ran through the tunnel with the team, had his helmet on, AND that reports from the sideline said he was going to try and play. Visions danced through my head of all the times I’d benched a player in this exact situation, only to have him blow up with his best game of the year whilst on my bench. Fantasy Football is not for the faint of heart. One click can, and often does, make the difference between winning up to a million dollars or winning nothing and pounding sand.
Obviously, you want to check weather reports. It’s a starting point. Though sometimes, weather reports are about as accurate as injury information coming from the Detroit Lions. Remember how many times they said Jahvid Best had recovered from his concussion and was 100 percent? The report from Philadelphia was winds from 5 mph to 8 mph and occasional light flurries. Instead, what I saw looked closer to a blizzard for a good 90 minutes. If you’re serious about competing in High Stakes Leagues, then DirecTV Sunday Ticket is a must. It doesn’t come on until five minutes prior to kickoff, but on their multi-game view channel, at least you can see first hand what the weather looks like just before the game commences.
If you’re looking for a stack, San Diego at Denver and Baltimore at Detroit figure to put the most fireworks on display. If Aaron Rodgers returns, add Green Bay at Dallas to that list.
Some Fanduel plays worth a look this weekend:
Running Back – Zac Stacy ($6,700) vs. St. Louis, Shane Vereen (targeted 17 times with Rob Gronkowski out) ($7,600) at Miami, Marcel Reece ($6,000) vs. Kansas City, Montee Ball ($5,300) vs. San Diego, James Starks (if Eddie Lacy is inactive) ($4,500).
Wide Receiver – Alshon Jeffery ($7,800) at Cleveland, Jordy Nelson (if Aaron Rodgers is back) ($6,300) at Dallas, Torrey Smith ($6,300) at Detroit, Cordarrelle Patterson ($5,600) vs. Philadelphia, Justin Hunter ($5,400) vs. Arizona, James Jones (if Aaron Rodgers is back) ($4,900) at Dallas, Doug Baldwin ($4,800) at New York Giants.
Tight End – Jordan Cameron ($6,300) vs. Chicago, Charles Clay ($6,100) vs. New England, Greg Olsen ($5,800) vs. New York Jets, Dennis Pitta ($5,700) vs. Baltimore, Tony Gonzalez ($5,300) vs. Washington.
Le'Veon Bell ($7,500) – The rookie out of Michigan State posted 4.6 yards per carry against the Ravens defense on Thursday night. He was also targeted nine times and reeled in seven of them. You have to see the games to realize just how well he is running. He’s a balanced runner, good at just about everything. When I first watched him, the former Spartan didn’t jump off the screen, but the more I see him the more impressed I become. He has good strength and vision and decent burst. Todd Haley has Bell line up in the slot quite a bit and Big Ben Roethlisberger has narrowly missed connecting with #26 for a big play a number of times. The talented rookie is shaping up to be a late 1st round pick in redraft leagues next year and is a solid value play this week against the Dolphins as long as he passes concussion tests heading into Sunday.
Andre Johnson ($7,800) – The installment of Case Keenum as the Houston Texans starting quarterback has revived Andre Johnson’s fantasy production back up to elite levels. In fact, since Week 9 Andre ranks second only to Josh Gordon among wideouts. Yes, he’s outproduced Megatron. Oddly enough, he remains a risk-reward player against the Jaguars, who held him to just two catches a couple of weeks ago. Keenum is still learning how to recognize blitz packages and handle pressure. When defensive coordinators turn up the heat, the rookie struggles mightily. Therein lies the risk. On the other hand, the mighty Brandon Weeden connected with Josh Gordon ten times for 261 yards and two scores. Johnson possesses a high ceiling and low floor.
Some inexpensive WR’s worth a look – Torrey Smith ($6,600 vs. Minnesota), Riley Cooper ($5,900 vs. Detroit), Doug Baldwin ($5,200 vs. San Francisco), Andre Holmes ($5,100 at New York Jets), Keenan Allen ($6,500 vs. New York Giants), Rod Streater ($4,800 at New York Jets).
Jordan Cameron ($5,400) – Bill Belichick and the Patriots usually focus on one offensive weapon and remove that threat from the attack. It doesn’t always work out that way (here’s looking at you, Andre Johnson 8-121), but I have to think that Josh Gordon’s 24 catches for 498 yards and three touchdowns the last two weeks alone has got Bill’s attention. For all intents and purposes, Jordan Cameron and Josh Gordon are the only two real offensive weapons the Cleveland Browns possess. My bet is that Belichick has Aqib Talib shadow Josh Gordon and gives him help in the form of bracket coverage. The Browns running game is ineffective, to be kind. They have nobody in their backfield who can make the Patriots pay for added attention given to Gordon. If Josh posts another 200+ yard day, I’ll just call him Superman and call it a day.
Jared Cook ($4,900) – Philadelphia tight ends Zach Ertz and Brent Celek combined to put up nine catches for 97 yards and three touchdowns against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 12. The Cardinals are yielding the most fantasy points to tight ends over the course of the season.
This has been the most difficult position to nab consistently week to week. It’s all fine and dandy to look at the lowest rated rushing defenses and the teams that have given up the most fantasy points to running backs and then select backs that face those particular defenses. This can also be a trap if you’re not careful. It’s not a bad thing to do, you almost have to as a starting point in assessment, but those stats are skewed by so many factors that may no longer be all that relevant on a particular week. When it comes right down to it, even the “worst” run defense can usually shut down the ground game if they completely sell out to stop it. I feel the biggest correlating factor to success is number of carries. Not that what’s happened in the past is guaranteed to repeat, but it’s a starting point.
Zac Stacy ($7,400) – has received 88 touches the last three weeks. He’s averaging just over 4 yards per carry and has 3 touchdowns over that span. It doesn’t hurt that the Bears visit St. Louis, giving the rookie a nice matchup on paper.
Bobby Rainey ($6,500) – toted the rock 30 times against the Falcons. In Week 10, Tampa starter Mike James had 5 carries before giving way to Brian Leonard (20 carries that game) due to an injury. In Week 9, James carried the mail 28 times. Tampa has got it going on, on the ground.
Reggie Bush ($7,700) – wasn’t benched for fumbling, if you believe the Detroit Lions coaching staff. Fact is he had only 12 carries (2nd lowest total of the year) and will likely have a little extra motivation this week, plus Joique Bell is supposedly a little dinged up.
Wes Welker ($7,400) – is making progress in his recovery from a concussion last week and is on track to play Sunday night. His divorce from the Patriots wasn’t on the warmest of terms, despite what the PR machines might say. I expect a chip on his shoulder when he enters Gillette Stadium, making him an attractive play.
Nate Burleson ($4,500) – is not for the risk averse. He has been out for weeks and could be on a limited snap count, but the somewhat injury prone wideout is on track to return this week while Megatron draws Darrelle Revis. In Week 11, Revis shadowed Roddy White and Harry Douglas caught 6 passes for 134 yards and a score. In Week 10, it was Mike Wallace getting all the attention while Rishard Matthews turned 14 targets into 11 catches for 120 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Emmanuel Sanders ($5,600) – is another number two that could benefit from a number one shadow. Joe Haden will focus on Antonio Brown this week. Marlon Brown had two TD receptions in Week 9 while Haden blanketed Torrey Smith. Check the injury reports Sunday morning as Sanders had to leave Week 11 against the Lions due to a foot injury and he may not be 100%.
Peyton Manning ($11,000) is clearly the best play this week but you have to pay through the nose to get him. A lot of people will roll with Mike Glennon ($7,100) due to weaknesses in the Lions secondary. That might work out, but keep in mind Tampa has been running a lot more lately. Eli Manning ($6,300) is cheap and gets the Cowboys. Case Keenum ($6,100 vs. JAX) and Scott Tolzien ($6,000 vs. MIN) are options for players looking for a true blue light special.
Here are a few Fanduel bargains at Running Back and Wide Receiver as we look forward to Thanksgiving weekend. Take it easy on the tryptophan.
Bilal Powell ($4,500) – Chris Ivory is dealing with an ankle sprain and test results were not available at “press time.” If the former Saint is inactive, Powell becomes a very inexpensive source of touches against a Dolphins team that is yielding 4.28 yards per carry on the season and 4.59 yards per carry over the last 5 games.
Montee Ball ($4,500) – The Denver Broncos have a tough matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs this weekend, but with Knowshon Moreno nursing a bone bruise, his prospects for playing in this contest are sketchy. If he’s inactive, Ball (only 3.49 YPC) becomes a bargain even against the Chiefs run defense due to volume in Peyton’s offense alone. Ball found the end zone twice in Week 11.
Andre Brown ($7,100) – Brown is still relatively cheap despite averaging 23 carries and 4 targets per game. Washington is giving up the second most fantasy points to running backs and Eli Manning has been ineffective moving the Giants offense through the air.
Dennis Johnson ($4,600) – We talked about Johnson as a waiver pickup a couple of weeks ago for regular leagues. Think Andre Ellington with a better offensive line. The Patriots are giving up 4.36 yards per carry. Houston figures to be trailing for most of the game, which will likely force the Texans to abandon the run at some point, so don’t expect a ton of carries. DJ has plenty of speed and is very capable of the big play.
Benny Cunningham ($5,800) – The injury hits just keep on coming. Zac Stacy left Sunday’s game against the Bears due to a concussion and his status for Week 13 is not known. This rookie from Middle Tennessee State eclipsed 100 yards against the Chicago Bears porous run defense. Unfortunately, the Rams travel to San Francisco, so the sledding may be tough even if Stacy is out.
Rueben Randle ($5,100) – The Giants’ third wide receiver had 7 targets against the Cowboys with Hakeem Nicks inactive. The Redskins are on tap next. Randle is worth a roll of the dice even if Nicks is active.
Justin Hunter ($5,300) – The rookie from Tennessee caught all 6 of his targets for 109 yards and a touchdown against the Raiders. The Colts secondary has struggled and Hunter has the athleticism to make things happen after the catch.
Percy Harvin ($5,700) – You could argue that someone with only 19 snaps as we head into December is risky at this price, and you’d be right. On the other hand, the Saints put up points, and the Seahawks will have to air it out to follow suit. A fair portion of that responsibility will be put on the shoulders of Russell Wilson. Harvin should be the most targeted Seahawk receiver if healthy.
Mike Wallace ($6,400) – Wallace has been feast or famine this year with an emphasis on famine. He posted just his third 100-yard game of the season against the Panthers, so if you’re chasing last week’s stats you may be disappointed. That being said, he and Ryan Tannehill get the Jets this weekend. Antonio Cromartie left Sunday’s match against the Ravens with a hip injury and may not make this week’s bout against the Dolphins, leaving a weak secondary even weaker.
Tavon Austin ($6,300) – By now, we all know the drill with Austin: low snap count with explosive potential. In contests with 100+ entrants, you need to shoot the moon. Austin can help you get there…or crash back down to earth Kenny Stills style.
There's only 5 more seats left in FanDuel's Daily Fantasy Baseball Championship Tournament. A total of $1 Million in prizes will be awarded with a grand prize of $200K. But to participate, you need to win a qualifying tourney such as the $10 entry fee DFBC Qualifier tonight! The winner gets a free trip to Vegas to compete for $200K!
Click on the HERE or on the FanDuel logo below to enter your squad. Here's mine.
P Gio Gonzalez SDP@WAS $8,600 - There are some interesting cheap options but I don't want to fall short with my pitcher so I'll go with a high priced home option facing a weak opponent. I'm guessing Gio will be a popular choice so I will have to pick a couple of hitters I expect no one else will. Well, very few anyway.
C Wilson Ramos SDP@WAS $2,500 - I'll need to make sure Ramos is in the lineup but since it's an early game, the info will be available on DFSEdge (you may recognize one of the writers over there). If Ramos is sitting this one out, I'll pick whichever Reds' catcher is playing since they are facing Aaron Harang and cost $100 less so they will both fit under the cap.
1B Joey Votto SEA@ CIN $4,100 - LHB versus RHP at home in a great park. And the RHP is Harang!
3B Pablo Sandoval LOS@SFG $2,400 - This is trying to take advantage of Panda's reduced price as he's been struggling since he returned from injury. I'm hoping his scuffles keep others away while he snaps out of his funk. Plus, we fat guys stick together.
SS Josh Rutledge COL@ARI $2,600 - Rutledge is my biggest risk since there is no guarantee he'll play and the game is a late one so the rosters will lock before the lineups are announced. I'm hoping a solid effort last night earns him consecutive starts. The opposing hurler is rookie Tyler Skaggs, so I'll take my chances.
OF Mike Trout BOS@LAA $5,500 - This one hurts since Trout will be facing my hometown squad that is becoming increasingly likable again, but 200K is 200K and I like Trout's chances against Felix Doubront. Plus, I don't expect that many will want to fit in the highest priced player in the outfield.
That's my starting nine - what say you?