NFL Reid Option: Week 13
Each week, Sammy Reid will break down each position in detail, pinpointing his favorite plays at various salary ranges. Who should we be focusing our core on this week? Read below to find out!
We thought we were so enlightened. We went about our business with an aura of arrogance, certain in the knowledge that we were at the top of the evolutionary mountain. All that had come before us, those that did it the old way, were beneath us.
By we, I mean online poker players. Sure, the godfathers of the game had cut their chops on real felt, and it was expected of us to speak about players like Doyle Brunson and Johnny Moss with reverence. But the truth was that while we respected what they had done for the game, we didn’t respect the antiquated way they played anymore. They were dinosaurs destined for extinction.
Really, poker was a completely different game online than it was live. Sure, the rules were the same, but it was so much more sophisticated on the virtual felt. Online players balanced frequencies and sizing on all of their betting lines. Playing game theory optimal and understanding the intricacies of the ICM chip model in tournaments was standard practice. We studied our opponents’ 3-bet percentages and aggression factors. If you didn’t know this stuff, you’d get smoked in even a $1/$2 game online. Meanwhile, you could beat the $5/$5 live games at your local casino as long as you weren’t a complete donkey.
Even within the online poker community, there was a division between groups. Cash game players looked down upon the tournament players, because cash games were seen as more deep and intricate, and luck played less of a role in the final outcome. Even if you played both formats, chances were that you identified more with one group or the other.
Not surprisingly, I see the same thing happening in Daily Fantasy. For the most part, DFS diehards look down on the season-long game. Of course, the outcomes of seasonal fantasy are certainly more prone to the whims of chance, and the people who play are generally not as sophisticated about the game as their daily counterparts. I know I never dove into WR/CB charts or spent hours studying pace of play and snap counts on Football Outsiders before I started playing DFS.
I still play in two season-long keeper leagues. One of them, Scrawny By Nature, started back in 2002 among a group of my friends in college, and it’s my favorite fantasy league that I’ve ever been a part of. We play with two QBs, IDPs, and a FAAB waiver system. The message boards are active, the smack-talk is scathing, and the team names are (mostly) clever and constantly updated. I keep a spreadsheet of all the historical data and the conclusion of every season, I do a write-up called “A Brief History of Scrawny Football”, which is not exactly brief – it’s a full historical recap of all seasons’ worth of records, facts, and tidbits. We only have one owner who wasn’t part of the original 2002 group, and all the guys remain tight even though we’ve all grown up and are scattered around the country.
The buy-in for Scrawny: Zero dollars. We play exclusively for pride.
This past week, I needed my buddy Sid to lose to keep my hopes of finishing 1st in the regular season – and earning an automatic bid to the championship game – alive. I also had 100% exposure to Alex Collins in the Primetime slate, but I needed him to play poorly for Sid in Scrawny. When the Monday night game started, do you know what I was rooting for? You’re damn right – I was rooting for him to choke! It actually wasn’t even a question. Maybe it’s lame of me to care more about a free season-long league than I do about a hundreds of American dollars (I imagine most Daily Fantasy players would think so). That’s ok though. Just because someone enjoys something in a different way than you do doesn’t mean that they’re wrong or ignorant.
I’ll tell you something that is wrong: When one group’s sense of fantasy elitism ruins the game for the other group. I know plenty of DFS players who also dabble in season-long, but abandon their teams as soon as things start going poorly for them. They either don’t realize or don’t care that dead teams destroy the competitive balance of a league by giving certain teams free wins, affecting the playoff race for every other team. If you don’t care about a league, just don’t play in it. I’ve actually heard multiple people claim, “I didn’t even want to be in this league, but they kept hassling me about it until I gave in. So they can’t be mad when I dip out after Week 5.” Child please, that’s the mother of all weak excuses. You always have a choice. Don’t be the guy that ruins everyone else’s fun.
It works the other way as well. We’re all aware of the season-long “purists” who would love to see Daily Fantasy go away. Some of them are too closed-minded to even give it a try, while others ventured into DFS and came away bitter because they lost. They go out of their way to let everybody on social media know how dirty DFS is anytime there’s even the slightest hint of impropriety. They complained incessantly about the Daily Fantasy commercials, and many of them view DFS players as numbers nerds who don’t appreciate the game itself. They don’t realize how passionate most DFS players are, or care that so many have invested their livelihoods into it.
Personally, I identify deeply with both of these groups, and there are plenty of other people out there who do as well. I love both forms of fantasy sports for different reasons; I always had a little more pure fun playing live poker and season-long fantasy because of the interactive, social aspect. At the same time, the deep analysis and problem solving – along with the potentially large amounts of money – that go along with online poker and DFS make them the ultimate challenge and test of skill.
I can’t tell you how excited I am for Week 13. In Scrawny, I play heads up against Sid for the #1 spot. Win and I’m almost assured of the bye, lose and I could miss the playoffs. In DFS, time is running out to qualify for the Fantasy Football World Championship in Miami. Regardless of the outcomes, I’m grateful for the journey that fantasy has led me on, in all of its forms. At the end of the day, we all love fantasy sports, and it’s ok if others enjoy them a little differently than you do. Don’t be a fantasy snob. Keep in mind the wise words of the famous international spy Nigel Powers: “There are only two things I hate in this world: People who are intolerant of other people’s cultures … and the Dutch”. Let’s get to this week’s picks.
QUARTERBACK – MODERATE EXPOSURE
Brett Hundley vs TB ($5100 DK, $6400 FD, $10,800 FDRAFT) – You see, unlike my good friend and resident sock-eyed salmon Davis Mattek, I know when it’s #HundleyWeek. And, my friends, the time is now. This isn’t a chase of his sick fantasy performance on SNF in Pittsburgh; a blown coverage and a screen pass taken to the hole are far from predictive of future performance. More indicative is that his 14.97 DK point average over his first five starts has come against four top-15 teams in adjusted fantasy points vs QBs, three of which were top-5 units. This week he gets a home game against the Buccaneers, a squad that ranks 26th in adjusted fantasy points allowed to QBs. Most importantly for the skittish Hundley, the Bucs’ pass rush is the worst in football; their 4.2% adjusted sack rate is .5% lower than the second-worst team. There’s a gaggle of economy-brand QBs available this week, but none of them are worthy of their own hashtag week like my boy Hundley.
Jameis Winston @ GB ($5600 DK, $7300 FD, $11,500 FDRAFT) – Famous Jameis has started and finished six games this season, and in those games he’s averaged 298.7 yards per game, hitting the 300-yard bonus four times. Winston figures to take advantage of a Packers D that ranks 22nd in pass DVOA and has allowed the fifth-most passing yards to villain QBs. I’ll be honest with you – I like the idea of rostering a legit NFL quarterback with strong weapons instead of the shabby NFL fringe others will play (NOT including Brett Hundley obviously) for just a couple hundred bucks more.
QUARTERBACK – GPP PLAYS
Trevor Siemian @ MIA ($4800 DK, $6200 FD, $10,200 FDRAFT) – If you took at Siemian’s career numbers, they’re a dead ringer for the recently exiled Eli Manning’s. The two have nearly identical marks in A/YA (6.5 for Siemian, 6.6 for Manning), QB rating (82.6 to 83.8), completion percentage (59.9% to 59.8%), and YPG started (241.4 to 240.8). Not exactly a glowing endorsement to be sure, but you can be damn sure Eli would be a strong play this week if he had Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders at his disposal, was playing the inept Miami Dolphins, and was a click away from minimum price.
RUNNING BACK – MODERATE EXPOSURE
Carlos Hyde @ CHI ($5900 DK, $7000 FD, $10,800 FDRAFT) – The #1 running back in Scott Barrett’s Actual Opportunity metric on the main slate isn’t Todd Gurley, it’s Carlos Freakin’ Hyde. Hyde’s floor is rock solid on full-PPR sites; he has 6+ targets in eight of his 11 games in addition to an average of 14.3 carries. Someday he’ll be priced sharply, but it obviously isn’t this week.
Jamaal Williams vs TB ($4700 DK, $5700 FD, $10,200 FDRAFT) – It’s possible that either Aaron Jones or Ty Montgomery makes it back this week, in which case there’s a whole lot less jam in Williams’ doughnut. If, however, these two can’t hang in Week 13, Williams is a wealth of cheap volume on an otherwise squalid slate for running backs. Sure, the kid’s been about as efficient as the US Postal Service, but he’s averaging 22.7 touches and 4.0 targets per game over the past three weeks while playing 88% of the team’s backfield snaps. That’ll play at $4700 on DK on a WR-centric slate.
Jordan Howard vs SF ($6500 DK, $7500 FD, $11,700 FDRAFT) – What happens when the guy with the third-most carries in the NFL faces the team that allows the most carries in the NFL? That’s right, a lot of carries. You know what we want out of our running backs? That’s right, we want a lot of carries.
Kenyan Drake vs DEN ($4900 DK, $5800 FD, $8800 FDRAFT) – Since Jay Ajayi’s trade to the Eagles, the Dolphins have split their backfield’s division of labor pretty much right down the middle: Overall Drake and Damien Williams have combined for 16.5 carries and 6.0 receptions per game on 7.3 targets. While Drake doesn’t figure to get 100% of that work, even a 75% share would be good for 16 total touches, including 4+ receptions, plus any goal-line work. Even against a tough defense, that will play at his price.
RUNNING BACK – GPP PLAYS
Marshawn Lynch vs NYG ($4800 DK, $6200 FD, $9000 FDRAFT) – With Amari Cooper concussed and Michael Crabtree busy crying in the car, the Raiders finally fed the beast a full meal in Week 12, serving up 29 touches to him in a home victory. The same situation figures to be on tap in Week 13 – this time against the Giants, a team so dysfunctional the White House looks like the Brady Bunch in comparison. They’ve allowed the second-most carries and the third-most rushing yards while ranking 25th in efficiency against the rush. Even with C-Tree out and Amari doubtful the Raiders opened at 7-point home favorites, so it’s worth the cheap exposure in GPPs in hopes that he balls out again.
WIDE RECEIVER – HIGH EXPOSURE
DeAndre Hopkins @ TEN ($7300 DK, $8000 FD, $14,300 FDRAFT) –
All I can say is that my lineup’s pretty plain
I like watching DeAndre make it rain
And all I can do is join a heads-up game for two
And hope the other dude is just insane
I just want someone to say to me, oh oh oh oh
“I chose fade DeAndre”
You know I’d really like to win my games today
So I’ll stay with Nuk and I’ll have it made
And I don’t understand why I tweet all day
And people start to complain and fade DeAndre
And all I can do is jam him in to stay awake
And fading Nuk this week is a grave mistake
I just want someone to say to me, oh oh oh oh
“I chose fade DeAndre”
You know I’d really like to win my games today
So I’ll stay with Nuk and I’ll have it made
WIDE RECEIVER – MODERATE EXPOSURE
Brandin Cooks @ BUF ($7700 DK, $7600 FD, $13,600 FDRAFT) – For the third week in a row, it’s a jam-in-Cooks week for your boy Sammy. Since Chris Hogan got hurt, Cooks is averaging 9.0 targets per game and a sick 48% share of the team’s air yards, a mark that would be leading the league over the full season. To add to the fantasy goodness, Cooks rates to run the majority of his routes against E.J. Gaines, Buffalo’s worst CB in terms of fantasy points allowed per route (.34).
Davante Adams vs TB ($6500 DK, $6500 FD, $13,400 FDRAFT) – You know how when you get married, you stop looking at other women and only have eyes for your wife? Well that’s what has happened with Brett Hundley and Adams ever since they shacked up; Adams has been given 8.5 targets per game and a 40% market share of Green Bay’s air yards since Hundley took over the QB duties. Adams also has a choice matchup against the Bucs’ secondary, a unit that has added 13.3 fantasy points per game to opposing WR crews’ averages – and specifically against CB Robert McClain, who’s allowed an egregious .41 fantasy points per route run. In case you’re worried about touchdown equity, Adams also ranks 2nd in the NFL in both Red Zone targets (19) and RZ receptions (12). Also … I know you still look at other women, you scoundrel.
WIDE RECEIVER – GPP PLAYS
Michael Thomas vs CAR ($6900 DK, $7600 FD, $12,700 FDRAFT) – Thomas is a true #1 WR who has now fallen under $7k for the first time all season on Draftkings. His usage is elite; MT 7th in the league in targets (102) and tied for 8th in target market share (27%) while tying for 5th in air yards share (41%). Where he’s has fallen short this season is in the touchdown department, but his usage inside the 10-yard line (a team-high 21.1% of targets) belies his meager total of two scores. This week, I’m looking to take advantage of the price drop and the public’s game log scouting.
Josh Gordon @ LAC ($4100 DK, $5800 FD, $10,100 FDRAFT) – If you think I’m going to let a heinously difficult matchup and the fact that Gordon hasn’t played an NFL down in three years stop me from throwing him in a few GPP lineups this week, well then you’ve lost your damn mind.
TIGHT END – MODERATE EXPOSURE
Cameron Brate @ GB ($2900 DK, $5000 FD, $5300 FDRAFT) – In the classic Robert Zemeckis film Cast Away, Chuck and Kelly are in a loving relationship when Chuck’s plane goes down over the Pacific and he gets stranded on a remote island for five years. When he returns, he goes to see Kelly (who thought he was dead) at her home, even though he knows she’s since married another man. While her husband and daughter sleep, Kelly and Chuck kiss passionately in the rain, but ultimately realize they can’t be together anymore.
Obviously, it’s just like the story of Jameis and Cameron. They once shared a deep connection – in the first eight games of the season with Jameis Winston, Brate averaged 4.4 receptions on 6.3 targets for 57.9 yards and .5 touchdowns per game – but then Jameis went down, and no one knew if he’d come back. And this week, miraculously, he has returned. Even if they can’t be together long-term I’m banking on Jameis and Cameron rekindling their passion in Week 13, if only just for old times’ sake.
TIGHT END – GPP PLAYS
Jared Cook vs NYG ($5400 DK, $5500 FD, $9400 FDRAFT) – With Oakland’s two top targets out of commission, many owners will be sitting around, trying to figure out which receiver will step into additional targets. For my money, Cook is as good of a mark as any, considering he’s already garnering a 17% target share (T-10th among TEs) and 18% of the team’s air yards share (T-7th) and is facing a team that has faced the most targets (91) and touchdowns (9) while surrendering the third-most yards (726) to villain TEs.
DEFENSE/SPECIAL TEAMS – HIGH EXPOSURE
Ravens vs DET ($3100 DK, $4600 FD, $6300 FDRAFT) – Sure, I’d like to be able to get up to the Jags or Chargers. And yes, it’s good to want things. But sometimes one must be realistic, especially when there’s strong value at a mid-level price point like this. The Ravens are fearsome at home, averaging 2.6 sacks and 2.6 turnovers at M&T Bank Stadium, good for 15.6 DK points per game. Regardless of venue, the Ravens are #1 in overall defensive DVOA and have the eighth-highest adjusted sack rate, which matches up all nice-like against a team that can’t run the rock and is 23rd in adjusted sack rate allowed.
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