The Reid Option: Week 14

Somehow, it’s Week 14 already, and there are only four weeks left in the regular season. It feels like it’s come fast; seems like just yesterday that the Zero-RB truthers were drafting Darrell Henderson, Darwin Thompson, and Tony Pollard in the single-digit rounds of their seasonal leagues. But as quickly as it seems like the first three quarters of the season have passed, when I look back at the DFS season it feels like it’s been going on forever.

We’ve been through so many phases: The Austin Ekeler chalk weeks of the first quarter, the Sammy Watkins chalk of midseason, and of course, the painful Brian Hill chalk weeks that just happened. Remember that time Christian Kirk went for 6-138-3 at $5200 on DK? Or that time that Will Fuller went 14-217-3 for $4500? Or how ‘bout that time that Chase Edmonds went for 150 yards and 3 touchdowns when we all thought David Johnson was gonna play, and then the next week he was the chalk when DJ sat out and he had 13 total yards before leaving with an injury? Man … that all happened.

As we get into the final stretch of the season, it’s fairly common to suffer from some decision fatigue. This is the phenomenon of making so many tough decisions over a stretch of time that your subsequent decision-making suffers, since your mind is fatigued from making all of the previous tough choices. It’s the same reason why students get more questions wrong at the end of a test than at the beginning, why judges in court have shown to have made lower-quality decisions in cases in the late afternoon, and why car dealerships throw so many options at customers at the end of the car-buying process.

As it relates to DFS, we’ve all made a ton of tough decisions every week for the past three months, and we need to be cognizant of our mental state down the stretch. I can feel some of the fatigue in myself every time I open a new slate; the right plays are taking a little longer to come into focus and I’m usually not looking at pricing until Wednesday to give my mind a break, whereas earlier in the season I’d be balls deep into it on Monday morning.

The reality is that the last quarter of the season is immensely important – for most players, it will decide whether we have a winning or losing DFS season, and it’s our last few shots at NFL GPP glory before shop closes up until next fall. Do what you need to do to stay mentally strong, be self-aware about your mental state, and resolve to give all the focus you have to these slates down the stretch. And while others wear out, you’ll be the one taking advantage. Let’s get started.

(As always, all odds are accurate at the time of publishing, and may shift throughout the week. The Reid Option focuses exclusively on the daily fantasy football main slate.)

QUARTERBACK

The bad news is, the QB position is a steaming pile of dung this week. The good news is, we won’t be tempted to include too many options in our players pools! Glass half full, and all that.

So where do we go? In cash games, Ryan Tannehill is the only sub-$6k QB (DK) backed by an implied team total over 24 points. I love the matchup vs Oakland and his rushing floor (35+ rush yards in three of his past four games), but I despise the anemic volume (22 or fewer attempts in three straight games). I may just say screw it and play Drew Brees at home, despite the terribad matchup against the 49ers. While Brees hasn’t been amazing this season, he’s still averaging 335.5 passing YPG in the Superdome, albeit against soft competition (vs HOU, ARI, ATL, and CAR).

In GPPs, my highest-owned QB is likely to be Jameis Winston, despite the deep emotional distress that rostering him causes me. Unfortunately for my blood pressure and general well-being, the numbers back Jameis up: The Bucs are at home and have an implied team total of 25 points, and Jamies has attempted the 2nd-most passes in the league with over 600 more air yards than any other QB. Under-discussed are Winston’s fantasy contributions on the ground; he’s a top-10 QB in rushing yards and has at least 20 in five of his past six games. The Colts also feature cheap bring-back options in Bucs stacks, which plays well against their philanthropic defense.

RUNNING BACK

Pretty much every week I simply write some version of, “hey Christian McCaffrey is really good and you should play him”, and am done with it. And every week it’s true, but I just want to expand a bit and tell you that I rarely play CMC in GPPs. “Why, are you some sort of fish?”, you might ask. And while the answer may or may not be yes, the idea is that while his floor is extremely high – which is his huge appeal for cash games – his ceiling is not that great in relation to his price tag, IE it’s nearly impossible for him to 5 or 6x his salary when it’s so high. And when you consider that his high ownership percentage means that you’re not gaining leverage on a large portion of the field even when he smashes, he’s usually a guy I leave out of my large-field GPP lineups.

Fun fact: There are only two RBs in the league this season who have accumulated 200+ rushes and 60+ targets: CMC and Fat CMC, Leonard Fournette. Fournette has only two games with fewer than 6 targets – and he had 29 rush attempts in both of those games – and incredibly he’s the RB4 in PPR formats this season despite being the NFL’s largest touchdown under-performer (just 3 total TDs). Of course, we’re playing a weekly game, not a seasonal, but the point is that Lardy Fournette is an elite volume player who’s price tag has stayed out of the CMC/Cook range because of a lack of touchdowns – something that is mathematically likely to regress in a positive direction moving forward. This is all a long way of saying that Fatnette is one of the true values left in a season where pricing has been very sharp, and you should be taking advantage of it while you can.

The two middle-tier RBs I’ll be considering in GPPs are Melvin Gordon and Devonta Freeman. But why, you might ask, when MG3 is washed like mob money and Freeman is dustier than Martha Stewart’s undercarriage? In Gordon’s case, it’s because he’s averaging 19 rushes and 3.3 targets per game over the past month, and he has 8 carries inside the 5-yard line (12th in the NFL) despite missing the first four games of the season. The truth is that there are very few guys with this sort of volume at his price point, and he’s perpetually under-owned because of a general negative perception about him.

When it comes to Freeman, I’ll admit that this one’s a bit off the rails. There’s no denying that Freeman is #bad, but I don’t care about all that noise. What I care about is that he handled 81.5% of the team’s backfield opportunities in his first game back from injury, and that this week he gets a home matchup, backed by a 25.5-point implied team total, against a Carolina defense that has allowed the third-most rushing yards and the most rushing touchdowns to villain RBs. Let the public fade him because of his lack of skill, and let the sharps play him because of high-level usage and game situation combined with low price and low ownership.

That all brings us to our Laird and savior, Patrick Laird. Make no mistake, playing him this week is thinner than the margins on a checking account interest rate, but hey, sometimes you’ve got to take a leap of faith. Laird does rate to be the lead back for Miami with Kalen Ballage mercifully put out to pasture, and he’s shown solid receiving chops thus far, garnering 12 targets over the past three games whilst playing limited snaps. Last week, however, he was in there on 60% of the team’s offensive plays, and even if he simply equals that number this week, he’s playable at a punt price. If the Laird somehow finds the endzone this week, my friends, it will be hallelujah indeed.

WIDE RECEIVER

What Michael Thomas is doing this season cannot be ignored by anyone with more than a half dozen brain cells; he’s on pace for 147 receptions, which would be the most in NFL history. He has exactly one home game this season where he’s scored fewer than 25 DraftKings points, and if you think that I’m fading him at a discounted price because of a “tough matchup”, you’re completely out of your skull. Certainly there are other options in GPPs, but MT’s cash game floor is unparalleled.

Chief among the high-priced GPP options is Tyreek Hill, who is everything we want in a tournament WR. He can make huge plays, as we all know. He’s 4th in team air yards share over the past four weeks, and ranks 7th in weighted opportunity rating. And while I’m not the best judge of ownership, I’m guessing that the “@NE” next to his name will serve to keep his ownership in check, even though KC/NE has the highest over/under on the main slate.

I continue to be smitten with Tyler Boyd when he’s under $6k on DraftKings and Andy Dalton is under center. Boyd’s targets with Dalton: 12, 10, 11, 6, 14, 7, 14, 9, 10 for an average of 10.3 per game and a team target share of 25%. Courtland Sutton is another mid-priced WR I’m eyeing, and he profiles best in GPPs where his merely decent target numbers (7.2 per game since Emmanuel Sanders was traded) are outshined by his huge air yards numbers (46% team air yards share in that timeframe is 2nd in the NFL).

There’s also a lot of value in the Colts wide receiver stable, specifically with Zach Pascal and Parris Campbell. Pascal saw 10 targets last week as the last man standing for Indy, and while Campbell’s return could eat into that target share a bit, Pascal still profiles as the top outside receiving option on the team. Campbell, meanwhile, is likely to see a big boost in snaps and targets in his return with T.Y. Hilton and Chester Rogers out of the mix, and he’s just above minimum price on both FanDuel and DK. You have to love the matchup for both of these cats – the Bucs are an intravenous amphetamine to wide receivers, having surrendered the most targets, receptions, and receiving yards in the league to the position.

TIGHT END

Travis Kelce will be one of my highest-owned GPP TEs, since KC will be one of my highest-stacked GPP teams. We all know that the evil sorcerer Bill Belichick aims to take away the opposition’s top target, and as a predominantly man-coverage unit they’ll usually have one extra defending with which to double-team a KC receiver. I’m not smart enough to know if the majority of that focus will be on Hill or Kelce, but I’ll be stacking Mahomes with one or the other (adding in a little Watkins and Demarcus Robinson in double-stacks since A) they’ll usually be singled up and B) I’m a sick fish).

Jack Doyle has been priced up, but probably not enough. He played 94% of the team’s snaps last week and led the club with a 27% target share, and this week he gets a Bucs D who has about as much interest in covering pass catchers as Roger Goodell does in treating marijuana use harsher than domestic violence.

However, in cash games, I’m likely just paying down as usual. On FanDuel, Noah Fant is far too cheap at $4800; he has a 21% team target share since Emmanuel Sanders left, just three ticks behind Courtland Sutton, which makes him the clear #2 pass-catching option in his team’s offense. And on DraftKings, Ian Thomas is what I got …

Olsen’s dust and Ian’s rising to compete
Light me up that min-price punt and I’ll jam him in this week
Got to ride the szn, Ian’s going long
Got to jam in Ian cuz’s the value’s all gone
In this situation, exposure is set high
I can say the nits are gonna fade him cuz they biased

Well value’s short so jam in what you got
Cuz you might get McCaffery and get Michael Thomas
Never derp like Mattek I just play who’s cheap and best
Nohling breathes with gills he’ll pay for Waller instead
Take a larger sample take a ti-ti-tip from me
Save all of your money, you can spend for CMC
Ian’s what I’ve got, he isn’t a reach
And the high-end’s bomb so save that salary
It all comes down to who gets you positive returns
Try and fade that, you’re gonna get burned
Thomas is hot, this is a smash spot
You’ll feel it when Vance does squat

Ian .. is what I got
I said remember that
Ian .. is what I got
I said remember that
Ian .. is what I got
I said remember that
Ian .. is what I got
I got … I got … I got

DEFENSE/SPECIAL TEAMS

The be quite honest, I kinda hate all the options this week. Obviously we can pay up for the Vikings (at home against David Blough) or the Steelers against Arizona (Pittsburgh has the leagues 2nd-highest adjusted sack rate at 9.9% and the Cards have allowed 42 sacks, the 5th-most in the league).

In the middle tier, the Jets are a GPP standout against a Dolphins team that has surrendered the most sacks (49) in the NFL. Because several Miami players will be popular (Fitzpatrick, Parker, Laird), playing the NYJ DST should also create some nice leverage in tournaments.

Unfortunately, there’s not a cheap defense that I love like there has been in recent weeks. The Bucs at home vs Indy would be the closest to fitting the bill, since they have 11 sacks over their past two games (both on the road, ATL and JAX) and have been good at forcing the opposition to throw; they’ve allowed just 3.4 YPC (the 2nd-lowest mark in the league) and faced 502 pass attempts (the most in the league). This week they’re at home as a 3-point favorite against a Colts team bereft of their top receiver (Hilton) and their top Red Zone target (Ebron). Alright … you’ve talked me into it. Bucs in cash it is!

Thanks for reading, everyone! Let’s go make some money in Week 14.

About the Author

  • Sammy Reid (SammyReid)

  • Sammy is a former online poker professional and Hearts champion who has been playing competitive fantasy sports for more than 15 years. A student of both sports and game theory, Sammy has been grinding DFS cash games since 2013. You can find more of his work in the 2017 edition of Joe Pisapia’s Fantasy Black Book, at FantasyInsiders.com, RosterCoach.com, and the Baseballholics Anonymous podcast.

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