Point/Counterpoint: DraftKings Week 14 Strategies
By Megan Shoup and Steve Shoup:
Every week of the season for daily fantasy brings new debates about core plays, fades, game stacks, and more. For fantasy purposes, it is best to read about both sides of the argument and decide which side, data, and analysis YOU agree with.
For the NFL season, our series of Point/Counterpoint will be a back-and-forth discussion between siblings Megan Shoup and Steve Shoup about the slate strategy, stacks, core plays, and fades for that week.
So let’s get to Week 14 strategy talk!
The first thing I notice about Week 14 is that it is mostly divisional games/rivalries on the main slate. Typically, and especially this season, division games go under the total so it may be hard to find some higher-scoring games on this slate.
Which games stick out to you the most? Which QBs will you have the most exposure to?
This is an intriguing slate with the last week of byes we are back down to a 10-game Main Slate. In addition to some key division match-ups, we have some tough defensive match-ups for some of our favorite teams we love to target.
Josh Allen and the Bills face off against the Jets again, where Buffalo scored a season-low 17 points. Allen was able to salvage his fantasy day with 2 rushing TDs, but that is certainly not something you can count on. I think Buffalo will score more in this game and maybe with the move to Mike White, there is a little pushback that forces the tempo to go up. Still, it’s a high price to pay for this stack when the ceiling seems muted at best.
Jalen Hurts plays a Giants defense that has for the most part been pretty good. The Lions and Cowboys managed four TDs against them (31 and 28 points), but most teams barely crack 20 points. Can the Eagles’ offense overcome this absolutely, but you will need a great run out.
Mahomes and company face a bad Broncos offense, but a great Denver defense. Despite everything that has gone wrong this year for Denver, only the Raiders twice (32 and 22) and the Panthers (23) scored more than 20 points against them. Maybe Mahomes and Kelce are pissed after a bad loss to the Bengals, but this is tough to get excited about.
Unlike the previous cases where the defensive match-up seems limiting, I think Dak Prescott and the Cowboys have an even tougher match-up this week as they play the Texans. This is not because the Texans’ defense is particularly good, but the concern is whether the starting Dallas offense will even need to be on the field beyond the 2nd quarter. The Texans have given up 5 defensive or special teams TDs over the past three games, and they now face what may be the best defense at causing those types of plays. The Cowboys’ defense had 1 defensive TD Sunday night against the Colts, but they easily could have had 3 or 4.
With all of these top plays in some questionable ceiling spots, I’m looking to focus more on the mid-range for hopefully a breakout performance. Both sides of the Lions-Vikings game intrigue me. The first time these teams met ended up not being a great fantasy spot, but we’ve seen both defenses struggle late. We also have an elite WR on each side we can play and hope for a shootout. I favor Kirk Cousins, but we saw Jared Goff be a top fantasy QB this past week. Though it comes with more risk, the Jaguars-Titans game also features a pair of defenses that are routinely shredded by opposing QBs. Unlike Cousins and Goff, I doubt Lawrence and Tannehill see much ownership. I’m not sure if I’m willing to attack this game yet, but it’s one worth considering. Finally, I like going to Tyler Huntley for the Ravens. The Steelers’ defense has played better of late, but Huntley has slate-breaking upside with his rushing ability and is very low-priced. I do expect him to get very popular, but it might be worth eating the chalk.
How about you, what QBs/games are you interested in?
You make excellent points on the upsides and downsides of all these games and stacks. I really agree with the Cowboys and will try to pay up for their defense, and I rarely pay up for defense. But we’ve seen a trend where the only piece you want from the Texans game is the opposing defense and because of that, no offensive pieces. Maybe the Cowboys pour it on like they did Sunday night, but you would think protecting their stars’ health in a playoff run is more important.
I think the games I’m most interested in targeting are Vikings/Lions, Bengals/Browns, Steelers/Ravens, and then one-sided, the Chiefs and Seahawks. So QBs I’m looking at (still deciding) are Kirk Cousins, Joe Burrow, Tyler Huntley, Patrick Mahomes, and Geno Smith.
How about core plays? RB seems particularly tough to me this week. Who are your favorite plays at RB, WR, and TE?
Running back is in a weird area this week. McCaffrey is a tough call since the Bucs just shut down a similar back in Alvin Kamara Monday night. That being said, with San Fran going with a backup QB, CMC has to be heavily involved if they hope to win. He got nearly 29 DK points without hitting either bonus and only 1 TD this past week. My big question of the week is do we trust Derrick Henry? He’s struggled for 4 weeks now, and still managed a couple of okay fantasy days in that time, but his production has been down. On the flip side, he’s going against a poor Jaguars’ defense. I think I will be playing him some in the hopes that he can have that monster 30-point game.
We typically love playing running backs against the Browns, but with Joe Mixon coming back from a concussion I imagine they won’t feel the need to give him a full workload. Perine has played well in relief so this could be a split backfield situation for a while. Barkley, Etienne, and Pierce all have too tough of match-ups for me to be interested in. Pollard could be good, but he’s priced up now and we know that Zeke will steal some high-value touches.
So for me, I like CMC and Henry up top and then I’m looking for players like Isaiah Pacheco, D’Onta Foreman, Najee Harris, and D’Andre Swift. None of these mid/low-priced guys are locks for me, but I’ll rotate through them as I could see them all being viable for low 20’s DK points.
Receiver is a bit easier with Justin Jefferson, Ja’Marr Chase, Amon-Ra St. Brown, D.K. Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, and Christian Kirk as the guys I want to play. Ideally, I start my builds with two of these six receivers, or three if I paid down at RB and QB. There are a few other value play receivers, and you can make a case up top for say A.J. Brown and Tee Higgins, but they are lower priorities.
For tight end Mark Andrews is a little interesting as most of his slate-breaking games last season came when Lamar Jackson was out. Huntley peppered him with targets last season, so that could be the case again this year. T.J. Hockenson revenge game narrative is interesting as this game has the shootout potential we want. I also have to like that George Kittle saw a price decrease, despite a favorable match-up. Perhaps similar to Andrews last season, Kittle sees a target bump with the back-up QB.
We are pretty much aligned with most of these core plays. I was tempted by one of the Dallas RBs against Houston, but wow have we been burned by that the past few weeks. I may have a little Pollard because of his explosiveness. But I agree CMC and Henry are my two spend-ups and I really like Swift, Najee Harris, and D’Onta Foreman to save salary. What about James Cook? He and Singletary pretty much split snaps 50/50 but at that price it might be worth a shot.
I like all your receiver core plays, those are my favorite WR targets too. I will add Garrett Wilson, Stefon Diggs, and CeeDee Lamb to the pool. And to save money at receiver I like George Pickens, DJ Moore, DJ Chark, Zay Jones, Nico Collins, and Treylon Burks if he plays.
Are you mostly looking to pay down or mid-price at QB, RB, and WR and pay up at WR?
Assuming Harris and Foreman are both a full go they are my favorite cheaper running back plays. I also like seeing that Swift has 14 targets over the past 2 games. I worry about Swift’s ceiling, so I might focus on him more for smaller or midfield stuff. James Cook is worth a shot also in smaller field tournaments as well. Even if he’s getting 16-19 points, you could be okay with him.
I think DJ Moore is a fantastic price and option this week. He’s still priced down well below his talent level. As we’ve seen the Seahawks’ defense has some issues that can be exploited. Burks would be my next favorite cheaper receiver if he does play. It didn’t work last week, but Elijah Moore did have 6 targets, he is at least now involved in this offense with Mike White at QB. The other area I like for cheaper WR value is the Giants pair of Darius Slayton ($5,100) and Isaiah Hodgins ($3,500). Slayton is the Giants’ top WR option, and has averaged about 14 DK points since taking over a starting role 6 weeks ago. Hodgins has now seen 4 and 6 targets in the last two games and now the Giants might be without Richie James as well.
For TE if I’m not paying up, I love both Engram and Okonkwo as the value plays. Cade Otton would be in the mix as well if Brate misses again.
I think I like Hodgins if I’m playing a Giants’ receiver just to save salary, because I don’t have much interest in Giants in general this week. I think we’re on the same page of value plays. For me, its really going to come down to narrowing my QB pool to 4-5 QBs and stacks I really like and building around that. That is still a work in progress, as this slate is a tricky one for me to prioritize my player pool.
What do you think of these strategies for Week 14 DFS on DraftKings? Who are your main game stacks and core plays?