It’s definitely Week 14 when names like Jaylen Samuels and Jeff Wilson become chalk plays and the Sanchize has returned to the conversation.
The most difficult thing about late season NFL DFS is deciding just how much of the obvious chalk to use in guaranteed prize pools. For example: Spencer Ware was a fantastic leverage fade in GPPs last week, but it was very hard to imagine not playing him. Now this week Wilson, Samuels and Austin Ekeler (in the event Melvin Gordon doesn’t play) are all very chalk and tough fades, but provide leverage if you can identify superior plays.
Patrick Mahomes, QB, Kansas City Chiefs
A player as good as Mahomes is not dictating his performance based on matchup, especially at home.
Mahomes is the second-highest rated quarterback in our Tournament Model and for good reason. He’s had fewer than 30 DraftKings points once since Week 5 against Jacksonville, when he still had 20 DK points without throwing a touchdown pass.
Even if we concede the fact that Baltimore’s defense could be good enough to impact DFS projections, the Ravens are not good enough to keep Mahomes’ reasonable ownership under 10%. Going overweight on Mahomes in tournaments this week is one of the best ways to create a high-upside and unique roster.
Aaron Jones, RB, Green Bay Packers
Nothing really changed with Jones last week. We always knew that the Packers coaching staff is not strictly rational and we also know that Aaron Rodgers generally doesn’t go out of his way to get running backs fantasy points.
I don’t expect the change from Mike McCarthy to Joe Philbin dramatically impact the Packers offense, but I do think it’s clear that Rodgers prefers Jones over Jamaal Williams in the backfield and that last week’s poor fantasy output was more about the offensive environment than it was about Jones. He ceded some extra snaps to Williams but still had four targets and a goal-line carry he converted into a touchdown.
NFL GPPs 101 is going back to a high-ceiling running back who burnt the public as a chalk the week before.
Nick Chubb, RB, Cleveland Browns
Cleveland will be competitive with Carolina in this game. The Browns are playing at home against a Panthers team that just got beat by the Buccaneers while turning the ball over four times.
Even in losses, Chubb has one of the best rush shares of any player in the league: Despite spending six weeks as the third-string running back in Cleveland, he has 53% of the teams’ rushing touchdowns and 48% of their rushing yards. His success rate of 48.9% is very impressive for a running back who is playing with a rookie quarterback, an interim head coach and on one of the five worst teams in the NFL.
Chubb has scored in four straight weeks and is one of the few non-stud running backs who has legit 100-plus rushing yards, two-plus TDs upside and will fit unique lineups because his salary range is fairly dead on DraftKings.
Tyreek Hill, WR, Kanas City Chiefs
Hill had what was easily his worst game of the season last week. He managed to turn 128 air yards on six targets into only one reception for a mere 13 yards. His first deep target on which he burned Gareon Conley and was five yards clear of the nearest defender was disappointing — it was just a momentary lapse in judgement that caused the incompletion.
However, Hill offers us two things we know to be true: Air yards are incredibly predictive of future DFS results, and casual DFS players massively overrate matchup. If we’re interested in playing Mahomes in GPPs (and we certainly are), then we should also be interested in playing his weapons. Hill has a 22% target share of the Chiefs offense, which is a respectable WR1 number in the 2018 version of the NFL. He also has 7 PRO trends in his favor this week while being projected at only 9-12% ownership.
DaeSean Hamilton, WR, Denver Broncos
Emmanuel Sanders is out for the season, and the only active WR/TE with more than 22 targets is Courtland Sutton. The three wide receiver sets for Denver will feature Sutton, Hamilton and Tim Patrick with Matt LaCosse as the primary tight end. Hamilton projects as a pure slot wide receiver at this level, and while Sutton becomes the chalk in large field tournaments, I’m interested in Hamilton for tournaments. Historically, Case Keenum has been better throwing to slot receivers, and Hamilton will be owned one-fifth as much as Sutton will be.
This is what Keenum said about Hamilton after Sanders was injured in Wednesday’s practice: “I think [Hamilton is] a guy that we’ve been trying to feature more and more over the last couple of weeks. It’s going to be exciting to see, the last quarter of the season and the end of this year to see how he continues to develop.”
Hamilton’s snap counts had already been trending up. Now he fills the most valuable role in the Denver offense.
Jared Cook, TE, Oakland Raiders
Cook has become my fall back in tournaments this season. No matter how poor the Raiders’ team total is and no matter how bad it seems that Derek Carr is going to play, Cook remains one of the most consistent volume tight ends there is in the league.
Cook has a 17% market share of the passing game in Oakland, which is among the best of any tight end. He also has an absurd 33% market share of the team’s passing touchdowns. The Raiders will of course be trailing the Chargers for much of this game, which will increase their pass attempts and increase the odds that Cooks sees more targets.
If you removed the name or even team from Cooks’ game logs, he would be one of the higher owned players in DFS. Yet we’ve got him projected for only 5-8% ownership.
Pictured above: Patrick Mahomes
Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports