We’ve made it to the final week of regular season, when the biggest question concerning your lineups should be: “Why does Player X care at this point?”
There are some scenarios in which it’s obvious players either won’t be used or won’t be used heavily. For example, the Dallas Cowboys are 6-point road dogs against a clearly inferior New York Giants team as of writing (see live odds here), so we can infer that Ezekiel Elliott, Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper are not going to play enough to be used in DFS. In other cases, such as with Davante Adams, players have record-chasing reasons to play well.
We need to evaluate players’ motivations on a case-by-case basis and rely on real-time updates from industry sources for an idea of how much players will play.
Jared Goff, QB, Los Angeles Rams
A Rams loss to the Niners would be fairly devastating to Sean McVay and Co. We should probably expect the Rams to play a full game with their healthy starters against a team that they posted 39 points against in Week 7.
Without Todd Gurley fully healthy — or maybe even inactive — I believe it’s reasonable to boost the Rams neutral-game script passing ratio, which should benefit Goff.
It’s true that Goff hasn’t posted a guaranteed prize pool-winning score since Week 11, and in general, he’s better in games in which the Rams are playing from behind or in a neutral script. However, the player pool is so narrow at quarterback, and we’ve seen Goff post elite fantasy points before.
Jeff Wilson Jr., RB, San Francisco 49ers
When Matt Breida is hurt, Wilson is really the only game in town for the Niners. Despite the fact that he is not very #good, his sheer volume at his price tag of $4,400 gets my attention.
The 49ers are massive 10-point road dogs, which means that our ownership projection for Wilson is between only 5-8%. On a more normal slate, where the value is difficult to come by, Wilson would be closer to an actual chalk play — but that won’t be the case in large field tournaments this week.
With Breida injured in Weeks 13 and 14, Wilson had 11 targets and 38 carries. He wasn’t particularly efficient, but the Niners coaching staff did show they were willing to feed Wilson and not feature Alfred Morris or Matt Dayes, which is a boon to Wilson’s value.
Sony Michel, RB, New England Patriots
When the Patriots are massive home favorites — like by 13.5 points against the Jets — there’s no more record chasing. There’s no more stat padding. This version of the Patriots with a 41-year-old Tom Brady, an ancient Rob Gronkowski and a general lack of explosive playmakers means that when they play these lowly AFC teams at home, the game script is going to call for a lot of rushes.
Michel had 18 carries last week with a rushing touchdown, Rex Burkhead had 13 carries and even James White had eight against the Bills in a game that the Patriots didn’t even cover. The idea behind playing Sony on DraftKings, a PPR site, is that he has very good equity of getting the 100-yard bonus. And with a 29-point Vegas team total, we should project a reasonable chance at a multiple touchdown game.
DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Houston Texans
The Texans are one of the few teams guaranteed to go all out to win. They’ve already clinched a playoff spot, but at the very least, they’re playing for the AFC South title with a chance at securing a first-round bye … if a combination of other games fall their way.
Lucky for them, the Texans have a fairly cushy and winnable matchup against the Jaguars. Demaryius Thomas (Achilles) is on Injured Reserve, Keke Coutee (questionable) hasn’t played since Week 12 and none of their tight ends average more than a 10% market share of the offense.
Davante Adams is getting most of the publicity for target volume and record-chasing this week, but Hopkins has both an insane market share of his teams’ targets (32%) and the Texans actually need to win this game, which should be a great combo for large-field GPPs.
Kendrick Bourne, WR, San Francisco 49ers
You know things are getting quite thin in San Francisco when two of Niners make this write-up as 10-point road dogs with a 19.5 team total.
Dante Pettis is out and Marquise Goodwin (questionable) has been playing limited snaps. As such, their starting wide receivers are Bourne, Richie James and Trent Taylor. Bourne was an undrafted free-agent out of Eastern Washington with, to be frank, a horrible size/speed profile but a very good breakout age in college (19 years old). He’s received more playing time than James has this season.
Bourne seems likely to inherit the slot role that was profitable for Pettis, and that sort of high volume role is viable for DFS. The risk here is relying on Nick Mullens and Bourne for points when neither are great players. But Bourne — and even James — are cheap enough that I think they’re good overweight plays with a lot of projected pass volume.
Gerald Everett, TE, Los Angeles Rams
A switch flipped for the Rams last week in their blowout win over the Cardinals. Their WR3 (Josh Reynolds) played a season-low 51% of snaps. No doubt the run-heavy game script played into that, but Everett had a season-high snap share.
Everett played 85% of the teams snaps and ran 16 routes while being targeted on six of those. His ability to pay off his tag in a blowout win over San Francisco is easier than Brandin Cooks/Robert Woods, and in what is always a thin position, I really like his upside this week relative to other cheap/mid-tier tight ends.
I’m leveraging off the fact that the Rams do need to win this game, Gurley might be inactive or limited and Goff is in my quarterback GPP player pool.