Another week of daily fantasy football action is upon us, which means a lot of decisions. There are a ton of studs and interesting value plays to consider, so to get you started, be sure to check out our favorite NFL DFS value picks, as well as our daily fantasy football optimal lineup for week 13.
There’s more to cover, however, so let’s also dive into some of the top sleepers, busts, chalk and contrarian plays for the week:
Top NFL DFS Sleepers
Alex Smith – Chiefs ($5.4k)
Dion Lewis – Patriots ($3.8k)
Brandin Cooks – Saints ($6.4k)
Martellus Bennett – Patriots ($5.1k)
Green Bay Packers ($2.9k)
Week 13 feels like a week to get a little sneaky in daily fantasy football – especially if we want to pay up for the top studs.
One great way to do that may be to roll with Alex Smith, who is averaging a pathetic 11 fantasy points on the road. His week 13 date with the Falcons projects as a shootout, however, and considering they rank dead last against fantasy quarterbacks, we need to consider the upside Smith may have to offer.
Dion Lewis is potentially even sneakier, as he hasn’t even carved out a big role with the Pats and seems a little limited after returning from a torn ACL. However, with Rob Gronkowski (back) on the shelf, Lewis could see his role spike considerably this week.
That could be huge news when he faces the Rams, who have gotten ripped up lately and rank just 28th against running backs over the last four weeks. Even better? They’ve given up 17 catches and three scores to running backs during that span.
Brandin Cooks could dance between sleeper and chalk, depending on who you talk to. On one hand, he recorded zero targets last week. On the other, he’ll be at home against a bad Lions defense.
We’re leaning on the latter holding more water, especially since Cooks expressed his frustration over his role this past week. If the Saints took notice, we should brace for a huge day out of Cooks.
A lot of people will be on Travis Kelce, Jimmy Graham and maybe even Greg Olsen this week, which could potentially leave Martellus Bennett floating somewhat under the radar.
There is no denying his value and upside with The Gronk down for the count, but Bennett is banged up himself and has just 7 total fantasy points over his last two games. Still, the talent, role and price all roll up to make him a fun try against a Rams defense that is just a middle of the pack unit against tight ends.
Lastly, let’s not bypass the Green Bay Packers completely. Their pass rush stepped up when it counted last week (4 sacks) and now they’re at home against Brock Osweiler. Green Bay needs to keep winning to keep pace with the Lions and Vikings and Osweiler’s ineptitude could be a gift-wrapped present for them.
Players to Avoid
Ryan Tannehill – Dolphins ($5.5k)
Jonathan Stewart – Panthers ($5.2k)
Demaryius Thomas – Broncos ($6.6k)
Vernon Davis – Redskins ($3.3k)
Detroit Lions ($2.3k)
There are a lot of guys you could fade this week in daily fantasy football, but one guy I don’t ever trust is Ryan Tannehill. Not only has he failed to hit on 20 fantasy points in seven of his last eight games, but he’ll also be on the road against a good Baltimore defense.
Tannehill did come back to life a bit in week 12, but I’m not feeling him as a top notch option with this matchup.
Ditto for Jonathan Stewart, who routinely gets short touchdowns vultured by Cam Newton and will really have his hands full this week against a good Seattle defense.
Not only do the Seahawks play their best football at home (5-0), but their run defense has been tough all year and ranks 8th against running backs. Considering Stewart has just four games over 10 fantasy points on the year, I’d rather test my luck elsewhere.
All Broncos receiving options have to be downgraded this week, as rookie passer Paxton Lynch makes just his second start ever on the road against the Jaguars.
Jacksonville hasn’t been amazing, but they’re already 6th against wide receivers on the season and the situation feels tough, overall. Needless to say, this isn’t the week to go all in on Demaryius Thomas going off.
Vernon Davis is such a toss-up this week, as there is no denying his killer role with Jordan Reed out, nor his cheap price tag. Unfortunately, he’s a very risky sleeper, as he’ll be on the road against Arizona’s troubling defense.
The Cardinals as a whole have had issues in 2016, but not against tight ends. Arizona hasn’t allowed a single touchdown by a tight end on the year and ranks #1 against the position. Davis feels like fun, but he probably won’t be.
We probably shouldn’t get too cute with our team defense picks, either. Some people see the Lions at a super cheap price and consider throwing caution to the wind. That’s not a good choice against the Saints in New Orleans, however.
Besides, Detroit hasn’t inspired a ton of confidence, haven’t topped 10 fantasy points just once all year.
Drew Brees – Saints ($7.6k)
David Johnson – Cardinals ($9.5k)
Julio Jones – Falcons ($8.7k)
Travis Kelce – Chiefs ($4.7k)
Denver Broncos ($3.9k)
We won’t waste a ton of time with the chalk plays, as they’re obvious and you’re going to want to get a piece of them.
Brees is insane at home (30 fantasy points) and will get a bad Lions defense that hasn’t been great on the road and specifically stinks against fantasy quarterbacks (28th in 2016). Fire him up.
Ditto for DJ, who is ridiculously expensive, but is the most reliable elite option you’ll find. He’s been crushing skulls all year, as he hasn’t had a single week under 15 fantasy points.
You’re paying for the big numbers, though, and he provides that too, with eight 23+ fantasy outings and four weeks of 30+ fantasy points. He’s legit and if you can make room for him, you probably should try.
Julio Jones has been quite good and is considerably cheaper, though, which might make him even chalkier. He’ll be at home this week, where he averages 22 fantasy points per game. Oh, and he’ll get the Chiefs, who rank 31st at stopping wide receivers this year.
Denver is not quite as awesome as they’re pegged to be sometimes, but they get the Jaguars this week. They also know they have to step up their play with usual starting quarterback Trevor Siemian out, so in a game they badly need, I can see the Broncos’ D kicking some serious butt. DFS gamers should note that possibility and use them a good amount.
Brock Osweiler – Texans ($5.2k)
Jay Ajayi – Dolphins ($6.7k)
Amari Cooper – Raiders ($7.3k)
Tyler Eifert – Bengals ($5.3k)
Kansas City Chiefs ($2.8k)
A week ago maybe using Matt Barkley was contrarian. That didn’t look like a good idea, but if you used him, you were pretty pleased when he hung 300+ yards and three touchdowns on the Titans.
That seemed like an impossibility, and yet here is Brock Osweiler, with an even better matchup, supposedly more talented and with more explosive weapons around him.
Osweiler cratered last week (three picks) and has been a failure for the most part in Houston, but it’s never too late to look good in a showdown with an awful Packers defense.
On the flip side, Jay Ajayi has been a bit of a DFS wrecking ball, having offered up two straight 30+ fantasy point performances just a few weeks ago. He’s still stayed the course since, then, as he’s produced 9+ fantasy points in each game since.
Ajayi isn’t getting things so easily now that teams know who he is, and that surely won’t be the case when he faces a Ravens defense that is lights out (#1) against opposing running backs.
That being said, perhaps this is a down game for Baltimore and Miami runs all over them en route to their 7th win in a row.
Cooper going nuts is probably a little more likely, but he disappointed last week and some will be off of him in week 13, fearing he’ll only do so again. The fear is real against a Bills secondary ranking 4th in the league against wide receivers over the last four weeks.
Still, Cooper only needs one big play to pan out and he remains Derek Carr’s most trusted target in Oakland’s passing attack.
Tight end could be tricky this week, too, as injuries really bog the position down and figure to point most to Jimmy Graham or Travis Kelce. Let’s not forget about Eifert, however, as he is going to continue to get work with Bengals top receiver A.J. Green (hamstring) still sidelined.
Eifert doesn’t have a friendly matchup against an Eagles team that ranks 2nd against tight ends, but he did pop off for 17 fantasy points last week. Role and talent win out here, as Eifert still needs to be considered despite the brutal matchup.
Kansas City’s defense might be my favorite contrarian play, as they have the pass rush to mess with anyone, yet many will be scared off by a date with the Falcons.
Facing Atlanta on the road is certainly daunting, but we’ve seen the Falcons get stifled this year already. The Chiefs have also been very reliable as a fantasy team defense, topping 10+ fantasy points six times in their last seven contests.
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