In this article, I’ll be using various FantasyLabs tools and other industry metrics to break down the slate.
Finally, make sure to check out all the projections available for purchase within the FantasyLabs Models. Subscribers now have the option to purchase Derek Carty’s THE BLITZ from our Marketplace. Projections from One Week Season and Establish the Run are available if you’re a subscriber to those specific sites (our optimizer is a separate add-on feature).
You can also combine them to create your own aggregate projections:
NFL DFS Quarterback Picks
The Buffalo Bills offense has hit a roadblock over their past few outings, but they have an excellent chance to get back on track against a road-weary Miami Dolphins team. The Fins will be playing their third straight road game on Saturday, traveling with less rest than usual for a division showdown. That should help Josh Allen reassert himself as one of the NFL’s best.
Allen has five 300-yard passing efforts so far this season. Granted, most of those came early in the campaign; there is a strong relationship between his best fantasy performances and playing at Highmark Stadium. Three of his five 300-yard performances have come in “true” home games, resulting in a passer rating over a dozen points higher in his friendly confines.
Further, Miami’s passing defense is coming off a dismal effort against the Los Angeles Chargers, in which Justin Herbert threw for 367 yards. That status is unlikely to improve on a short week against a Bills passing attack due for a breakout.
Our median and ceiling projections rank Allen as the best option available, and that’s reflected in his salary. The Bills’ gunslinger carries an $8,300 price tag, but he’s worth every penny against the overmatched Dolphins.
Allen has an elite salary on both platforms, whereas Minnesota Vikings signal-caller Kirk Cousins comes in at a more affordable price, particularly on DraftKings. He’s the only quarterback with a positive Projected Plus/Minus and leads the Points/Salary category, making him the preferred value play on the Saturday slate.
There will be no shortage of opportunities for Cousins in the passing game, as the three-time Pro Bowler has at least 35 passing attempts in three straight games. Increased emphasis on the passing game has come at the expense of effectiveness, with Cousins completing more than 75% of passes in two of three outings. That’s yielded more robust fantasy performances as Cousins has surpassed his projected fantasy totals twice over the modest three-game sample.
Further, Cousins has a few trends working in his favor. According to our Trends tool, the Vikings implied team total has moved more than two points, correlating with an improved fantasy effort from quarterbacks. Similarly, he ranks in the top 20% in Projected Points per Dollar, adding to his ceiling.
The Vikings call a higher percentage of passing plays than all but two teams. Cousins and his stable of pass catchers are better because of it, accumulating the eighth-most yards and tenth-most points on the season. Don’t look past the value Cousins brings to Saturday’s non-conference matchup.
Tua Tagovailoa has taken a beating over his past few games, getting sacked nine times since November 27th and falling beneath his projected points total in three straight. Nevertheless, he has a solid fantasy ceiling against the Bills and has the tools to break out of his mini-slump. If the game script goes as planned, the Dolphins may lean into their passing game to keep pace.
Deshaun Watson looked utterly out of sorts in his first action in two years, rebounding with an improved effort last week against the Cincinnati Bengals. Still, the Cleveland Browns offense has scored only one touchdown in two games, with Watson manning the held. The Baltimore Ravens defense will be up to the task, insulating their third-string pivot.
For a good reason, Matt Ryan is one of the lowest-salaried quarterbacks on the Saturday slate. Ryan hasn’t exceeded his already-low expectations since the middle of October.
NFL DFS Running Back Picks
Indianapolis Colts running back Jonathan Taylor has fallen off last season’s All-Pro pace. Still, Taylor remains a top 10 back, rushing for at least 82 yards in four straight games. On Saturday, he’ll have a chance to exploit a Vikings defense that gives up the most yards and eighth-most points in the league.
Although he’s been less productive in yards per game, Taylor’s fantasy value has increased with his ability to find paydirt. The bruising back has crossed the plane in three of his past four outings, helping him eclipse his projected total twice over that span. Lastly, we’ve seen Taylor thrive on the road. The 23-year-old has gone above his median projections just four times this season, with three of those performances coming as the visitor.
Take note of these trends working in Taylor’s favor. The former second-round pick is averaging 3.0 targets per game over his last 16, ranks in the top 20% in Bargain Rating, and has a Projected Plus/Minus above 2.0. When we factor in Taylor’s salary dropping $500 over the past month, it makes him the perfect buy-low candidate.
Minnesota has given up 120 or more rushing yards in consecutive games, highlighting their defensive shortcomings as they race toward the postseason. The Colts will feed Taylor the ball consistently, adding to his fantasy appeal on Saturday. Taylor leads all running backs in median and ceiling projections and is poised for a season-best performance against the Vikes.
We’re going with a true value play in Raheem Mostert as the Dolphins take on the Bills in AFC East action. The weather could play a role in this one, and with Tagovailoa’s play taking a turn for the worse lately, Mostert could have a heavier-than-usual workload at Highmark Stadium.
Although he’s seen fewer targets over the past couple of outings, Mostert adds value in the rushing and passing attack. The 30-year-old played a season-best 73.9% of snaps last week, carrying the ball 11 times for 37 yards. That was his fewest yards per carry since Week 4, setting Mostert up for a rebound performance against the Bills.
Buffalo has allowed lead backs to go over 4.2 yards per rushing attempt in two straight, with Zonovan Knight nearly doubling his projections with 14.7 fantasy points last week. That could be foreshadowing what to expect from Mostert in Saturday’s matchup.
Mostert ranks in the top four in Points/Salary and has a few Pro Trends supporting improved production. Rostering him at his salary will afford DFS players room to splurge on other skilled positions or shoehorn Mostert in as an affordable flex.
Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison elevate the Vikings’ offense against the Colts. Cook has one of the best fantasy ceilings on the slate, while Mattison could exceed implied expectations of his modest salary.
The Watson era is off to a tumultuous start in Cleveland. Thankfully, they can turn to Nick Chubb to take some pressure off the Browns’ quarterback. Chubb has underperformed since Watson took over, but hopefully, Kevin Stefanski has recognized the team’s shortcomings with their new signal-caller. Chubb is averaging 15.0 fantasy points per game this season, failing to meet that threshold with his last two games combined. It could be open season for Chubb as the Browns look to save their playoff hopes.
The knee injury that kept J.K. Dobbins out for seven weeks didn’t limit him in his return last week. Still, the former second-round pick will be hard-pressed to duplicate his effort against the Browns, who rank in the top half of the league in rushing yards allowed over their past three. The rushing-by-committee approach works for the Ravens, limiting Dobbins’ capacity.
NFL DFS Wide Receiver Picks
Legitimately, Justin Jefferson is in the MVP conversation. The third-year wideout leads the NFL with 1,500 receiving yards and could become the first player in league history to break the 2,000-yard benchmark. Jefferson is averaging 115.4 yards per game, needing a slight boost in production to make history.
That bump could come against the Colts, who struggle to contain elite receivers. Most recently, CeeDee Lamb and Davante Adams have blown past their median projections, with each receiver recording a touchdown and at least 70 receiving yards. Arguably Jefferson is the superior receiver and has at least 11 targets in five of his previous six.
Predictably, the Colts allow more passing yards per game on the road. Even with an extra week to rest, it’s unlikely their secondary can limit Jefferson, the only wide receiver with a positive Projected Plus/Minus ranking as the pre-eminent pass-catcher.
There are too many holes in the Vikings’ defense for the Colts not to get an elite fantasy effort. We’re highlighting Michael Pittman Jr. has a value play to exceed forecasted production.
Not only are the Vikings the worst team against the pass, but they’ve also been terrible over their past few games. Minnesota fives up an NFL-worst 287.2 passing yards per game, inflating to 353.3 over the last three weeks. That should open things up for Pittman Jr. to end the day as one of the best wide receivers on the board.
Pittman Jr. leads the Colts in targets, receptions, and receiving yards, with a 22.9% target share.
This contest has the highest total on the Saturday slate, and the Colts’ top performers should help this one live up to the billing. Pittman Jr. could surpass his predicted total for the second time in three weeks.
Dolphins quarterback Tagovailoa has hit a mid-season slump, but that hasn’t impacted Tyreek Hill’s output. The six-time Pro Bowler has 56.7 fantasy points over his last couple of games, surpassing median projections both times. However, Jaylen Waddle‘s play has suffered. The Alabama product has a paltry three receptions for 40 yards while being targeted nine times. His catch rate, yards per game, and receptions per game are deflated. Considering his top-tier salary, the team’s circumstances, and weather forecasts, he’s not worth the risk against the Bills.
Hill and Waddle’s play is analogous to Stefon Diggs and Gabriel Davis. Allen’s been less effective over his recent schedule, but his top receiver continues to thrive. The same can’t be said for Davis, who has fallen below projections since Week 10. If you have to target one wideout, it’s evident that the Diggs is the preferred option.
There’s less of a gap between the Browns’ top two receivers. Last week’s box score suggests that, if you had to choose one receiver, Donovan Peoples-Jones is the way to go. Amari Cooper is $1,000 more on both platforms but only has a slight advantage based on our algorithm. Watson threw Peoples-Jones way 12 times in last week’s loss, going off for 114 yards.
He could be Watson’s safety blanket as he regains his faculties at the NFL level.
NFL DFS Tight End Picks
T.J. Hockenson is 26 yards short of his career-best yardage with four games to play. The former first-round pick has excelled with his new squad and should be a primary contributor against the Colts.
Hockenson has 10 more receptions with the Vikings than he did with the Detroit Lions in one less game. The former Iowa Hawkeye has been targeted eight or more times in four of his six games as a Viking, recording at least 33 receiving yards each time out. Additionally, he has more trends working in his favor than any other tight end on the slate had doesn’t have any “Duds” over the last month.
Despite the solid underlying metrics, Hockenson’s salary has fallen over the past few weeks. We like his ceiling against the Colts, and he’s a tight end worth building around on Saturday.
Bills tight end Dawson Knox has been one of the most consistent producers across the season. He’s got a positive Plus-Minus rating in five of his past seven games, making him a solid value play against the Dolphins.
Knox has eclipsed median projections in two of his last three games, recording 128 yards and one touchdown on 13 catches over the three-game sample. Going back a couple of games further, he has six or more targets in three of his past five, with an above-average 73.9% catch rate over that stretch.
There is no shortage of outlets at Allen’s disposal, but Knox has the second-best Upside among tight ends on Saturday.
David Njoku has the second-best fantasy points per snap among tight ends and has been a focus of the Browns’ passing attack in the second half of the season. Njoku has touchdowns in two straight games and hit double-digit fantasy points in four of his past six. According to our projections, he rates as a top option with a slightly lower salary than Hockenson and Mark Andrews.
Red zone targets amplify tight end fantasy profiles, and Mike Gesicki has some of the most appealing metrics on Saturday’s slate. The fifth-year pro sits fourth in red zone opportunities and red zone opportunities inside the 10, and a 30.8% red zone touchdown per target rating. Gesicki is a big target in goal-to-go situations, making him a low-cost x-factor for Miami.