10 Definitely Interesting, Possibly Helpful NFL Notes for Week 14
This NFL season, I’ll work to uncover some interesting bits of information that might shed some light on players from that week’s slate of NFL games. This is not a picks column, nor is it a “fun facts” article – it’s something in between.
I hope you enjoy it, and I hope it helps you think about this week’s NFL plays in a new way as you build your DFS lineups. Here are 10 notes for Week 13.
1. Over the past four weeks, DeShone Kizer has put up 28.4 DraftKings points from rushing alone; over that same stretch, that’s more than Leonard Fournette (25.6 DraftKings points from rushing output). While that may say more about Fournette’s struggles than about Kizer, if Kizer has a 5-6 point floor without even factoring in passing output, that makes him a very interesting play in positive matchups. It’s no secret that Kizer loves chucking the ball deep, and he’s getting better at it: his 95.8 passer rating on passes thrown 20+ yards downfield over the past four weeks is tied for ninth-best in the NFL…with Tom Brady. He’s been better than guys like Russell Wilson, Ben Roethlisberger, Jared Goff, and Philip Rivers over that span. In his eight games up to that point, Kizer had posted a 39.9 passer rating on deep throws, second-worst among 32 qualified QBs. This matters, of course, because last week Kizer was gifted with one of the most talented wide receivers in recent memory in Josh Gordon. Against a Packers secondary that ranks 21st in Football Outsiders DVOA against the pass and gives up the sixth-most passing yards per game (260) to opposing signal callers, Kizer’s risk (and make no mistake: there is risk in a guy with six touchdowns against an NFL-high 15 interceptions on the year) is somewhat mitigated, making him very interesting for tournaments.
2. Since Week 8, the Texans have allowed 1,609 passing yards (most in the NFL), 13 TDs (second-most in the NFL), and a 107.4 passer rating (second-worst in the NFL) to opposing QBs. If you pro-rated that out over a full season, that’d equate to 4,296 yards and 35 TDs to go with the 107.4 passer rating, a season that has been accomplished by a QB just 10 times in NFL history. In his Niners debut, Jimmy Garoppolo looked lightyears better than any other San Fran QB has this season. His Week 14 matchup, coupled with the fact that the 49ers play at the fastest pace in the NFL per Football Outsiders, makes Garoppolo a sneaky GPP play at an affordable price tag across the industry.
3. The Oakland Raiders are allowing opposing QBs to post a 108.2 passer rating on the season; if that mark holds, it will be the fourth-worst by any defense in NFL history. They are allowing a 70.1% completion rate; if the season ended today, that would be the third-worst completion percentage allowed of all time. While Alex Smith has his faults as a passer, no one can question the matchup. And no one can question his efficiency, either: his 67.9% completion rate that ranks third in the NFL behind only Drew Brees and Tom Brady. It was this efficiency that allowed him to carve up this historically inept Raiders secondary for 342 yards and three scores back in Week 7, and in Week 14, he’s primed for another big performance. Is it fun to roster Alex Smith? Not usually. But he’s got a few excellent stacking options (Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce), putting him squarely in play for cash games and GPPs this week.
4. Since joining the Bills in 2015, LeSean McCoy is averaging an elite 22.1 DraftKings points per game, which ranks third-best among all backs (trailing only Le’Veon Bell and Ezekiel Elliott); on the road, he’s averaging a much more pedestrian 14.9 DraftKings points, which ranks 12th. While this is in part because of volume – McCoy averages 2.5 more touches when at home during that stretch – he’s been more efficient at home, as well, averaging 5.2 yards per carry and 16 rushing scores, compared to just 4.1 yards per carry and four rushing TDs on the road. In Week 14, McCoy and the Bills will likely be without Tyrod Taylor, meaning McCoy is the only hope the Bills have of keeping their fragile playoff aspirations alive. While McCoy has carry totals of 12, 8, 13, and 15 carries in four of his past games in part due to unfavorable game script, Sunday’s tilt with the Colts should remain close, leaving McCoy with a great chance of exceeding the 20 carries he averaged in Weeks 1-8. It’s a winnable matchup, as the Colts have surrendered the seventh-most DraftKings points per game to enemy running backs, and in a week without any slam dunk high-end running backs, McCoy is arguably the top player to spend up on at the position.
5. Giovani Bernard has seven career games of 20+ touches; in each of those seven games, Bernard has scored a minimum of 15.1 DraftKings points. While 20 touches may be setting the bar a bit high, the fact is that Bernard was on the field for every snap after Joe Mixon left with a concussion in Week 13. At just $3,100 at DraftKings, Bernard is the clear lock-and-load value option of the week, and if he approaches 20 touches, he has a legitimate shot at scoring 6x his salary at DraftKings.
6. Keenan Allen has double-digit receptions, 100 yards, one or more touchdowns in three straight games; the last player to do this was Calvin Johnson in 2012, and only two others in NFL history (Andre Johnson in 2008, Brett Perriman in 1995) have posted a 10/100/1 line in three consecutive games. While we know that these types of streaks can’t go on forever, Allen’s usage in San Diego’s offense is off the charts: his 41 targets since Week 11 is eight more than the 33 of second-place A.J. Green and DeAndre Hopkins. One other selling point on Allen: the Chargers need to win, and this is the time of year that it’s wise to begin prioritizing players on teams with something to play for. The Redskins have given up some huge games to slot receivers this year (7/108/1 for Doug Baldwin in Week 9, 8/166/1 to Adam Thielen in Week 10, a combined 10/150/2 for Nelson Agholor in Weeks 1 and 7). The positive matchup puts Allen neck-and-neck with DeAndre Hopkins for top overall wide receiver play of the week.
7. Since Week 6, only one wide receiver has five games of 18.5 DraftKings points or more, and it’s not Antonio Brown, or DeAndre Hopkins, or Julio Jones, or Keenan Allen. It’s Detroit’s Marvin Jones. It’s true that Brown, Hopkins, Jones, and Allen have more total DraftKings points than Jones over that stretch, Jones has consistently shown a high ceiling and isn’t typically considered a part of the upper echelon at the position. In Week 14, Jones is in an elite matchup, as the Bucs are allowing 42.8 DK points per game to WRs, the most in the NFL, and while he’s seen a price bump, $6,800 is a fair (and maybe even good) price for the deep threat on a pass-heavy offense against the league’s worst passing defense. The worry, of course, is that “(player-popup #matthew-stafford)Matthew Stafford”:/players/matthew-stafford-11613’s bruised hand will limit his ability to find Jones deep. It’s worth monitoring, and if reports emerge before game time stating that Stafford’s hand is fine, Jones is an amazing GPP play.
8. Of players with at least 276 pass routes run on the year, only three players have a higher end zone target share than Michael Crabtree’s 45.5% (those three players, by the way, are DeAndre Hopkins, Dez Bryant, and (kind of surprising in its own right) Zay Jones). For a few years, Crabtree has been a favorite of Derek Carr’s when the Raiders are deep in enemy territory, and his 23 touchdowns since 2015 are fifth-most among wideouts (trailing only AB, Odell, Baldwin, and Hopkins). With Amari Cooper potentially out with an ankle injury, and with Jared Cook looking more and more Jared Cook-ish by the week (in the past three weeks, he’s tied with Gerald Everett for 42nd among TEs in yards per route run…of 42 qualifiers), Crabtree should make up for lost time in a cake matchup against the Chefs (Not a typo. Just click the link…you know you want to). Even before losing top corner Marcus Peters, Kansas City ranks 31st in DVOA against WR1s, not to mention allowing 99.1 yards per game, most in the NFL. Crabtree is a priority play in the mid-tier, even in a week with plenty of solid options at wide receiver.
9. In Josh Gordon’s last 16 games (including his four-catch, 85-yard performance in Week 13), he’s posted a line of 90 catches, 1,605 yards, and 7 touchdowns. Here is the complete list of NFL players who have accomplished that line in a single season: Antonio Brown (twice), Julio Jones, Demaryius Thomas, Calvin Johnson, Torry Holt, Randy Moss, Jerry Rice, Isaac Bruce, Herman Moore. Now, the counterpoint is obvious: Gordon’s “16-game stretch” took place over somewhere around four years. But by all indications, the dominant 2013 version of Josh Gordon is still in tact. And even more importantly, the Browns are apparently content to pretend the Gordon-less 2014, 2015, and 2016 seasons didn’t exist and feed their new #1 wideout the ball. Last week, Gordon was targeted 11 times, and the 210 air yards he reached had only been reached 10 other times all season entering Week 13. While Gordon will be one of the most popular plays of the week in a plus matchup against Green Bay’s weak secondary, the best approach might be going over the field while Gordon is still (severely) underpriced.
10. In Week 13, Travis Kelce posted 94 yards receiving (not to mention two scores), which was his 12th game of 94+ yards since 2015; no other tight end has more than five such games. Kelce is in a pristine matchup against a Raiders defense that ranks 27th in DVOA against the tight end position and that has allowed 75+ yards to a tight end five times this year, most in the NFL. Recently, they were torched by Evan Engram for 99 yards and a score in Week 13, and that feels like a realistic outlook for Kelce this week. With Rob Gronkowski suspended, Zach Ertz likely out with a concussion, and Delanie Walker still having not practiced as of Thursday, Kelce should draw massive ownership. However, as we’ve seen, he’s got the same upside as any of the top wideouts on the board, making his $7,300 price tag at DraftKings very fair. Like every week, going over the field on Kelce seems like the right move in an elite matchup.
Thanks for reading! Stats from this article were pulled from RotoGrinders’ Daily Research Console, AirYards.com, Player Profiler, Pro Football Focus, Football Outsiders, NFL.com, and Pro Football Reference.
Check back for more “10 Notes” NFL articles throughout this football season, and feel free to drop a comment below if you want to leave any feedback or keep the discussion going!