NFL Week 14 features a Monday Night Football contest between the Cleveland Browns and the Baltimore Ravens starting at 8:15 p.m. ET.
If you’re unfamiliar with the single-game NFL DFS format, it differs a bit on DraftKings and FanDuel. On DraftKings, you have one “captain” spot and five flexes. The captain will score 1.5x fantasy points, but he also costs 1.5x salary. That means if you want to roster Lamar Jackson at captain and take advantage of the scoring boost, you’ll have to pay $17,700 as opposed to $11,800.
FanDuel’s single-game format features one “MVP” spot and four flexes. The MVP also scores 1.5x fantasy points, but he doesn’t cost any additional salary. That takes away a bit of the strategy and makes the goal simple: get your highest-scoring player in the MVP spot.
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This is an important game for both teams in terms of playoff positioning. The Browns enter this game at 9-3, which puts them in great shape to qualify for the playoffs for the first time since 2002. One win in their final four games could secure them a playoff spot, and two wins all but guarantees it.
On the other hand, the Ravens are currently on the outside looking in at just 7-5, so they can’t afford to drop any more games. They do have one of the easiest remaining schedules of the playoff hopefuls, but a win in this contest would be massive for them.
The Ravens played well last week vs. the Cowboys, which has had an impact on the betting line. They’ve moved all the way to 3.5-point favorites despite this game initially being listed as a pick ‘em. There also appears to be some sharp activity on the Ravens, which makes them the clear preferred side from a Vegas perspective.
The Ravens’ offense is based around the dual-threat skill set of Jackson. He was mediocre as a passer last week, completing just 12-of-17 passes for 107 yards, but he was more than able to make up for it with 94 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown. He finished with 26.68 DraftKings points, which was his highest fantasy output since Week 6 vs. the Eagles.
He’s in a position to build off that success this week vs. the Browns. They’ve been mediocre defensively this season, ranking 22nd in Football Outsiders’ pass defense DVOA and 19th in rush defense DVOA, giving Jackson an Opponent Plus/Minus of +2.4 on DraftKings. That’s the highest mark for all players in our NFL Models.
Jackson has also historically done some of his best work against the Browns. He’s played four career games against them, and he’s posted an average Plus/Minus of +7.53 (per the Trends tool). He also owns a perfect 100% Consistency Rating thanks to scoring at least 26.48 DraftKings points in all four contests.
On the Browns side, the stud decision comes down to Baker Mayfield vs. Nick Chubb. Both players are coming off strong performances last week, with Mayfield scoring 33.46 DraftKings points and Chubb scoring 17.6.
As good as Mayfield was last week, it’s difficult to trust him vs. the Ravens. The Titans have been a cupcake matchup for quarterbacks this season, and they were also playing without top pass rusher Jadaveon Clowney. Mayfield has scored 18.42 DraftKings points or fewer in 10 of 12 games this season, so that performance looks like a clear outlier.
The Ravens represent a much more difficult matchup. Mayfield owns an Opponent Plus/Minus of -0.7 on DraftKings, and that probably undersells how good this Ravens’ defense actually is. They rank seventh in defensive DVOA this season and limited Mayfield to just 10.86 DraftKings points in their first meeting this season.
Chubb is the more interesting option in this price range. The Ravens have struggled against the run recently, which is not surprising given the injuries they’ve incurred along the defensive line. They could be shorthanded once again this week, with Calais Campbell currently listed as questionable.
Chubb isn’t a true bell-cow back – he splits the RB workload with Kareem Hunt – but the Browns run the ball enough that there’s plenty of work for both of them. Chubb is also the preferred option around the goal line, which gives him the clear edge over Hunt.
This price range features a few players who could very easily be considered stud options.
Jarvis Landry has thrived for the Browns recently, which is not surprising with Odell Beckham Jr. out of the lineup. He didn’t dominate immediately following the OBJ injury, but the Browns played a bunch of games in awful weather conditions. Now that they’ve been able to pass the ball better, he’s scored at least 20.44 DraftKings points in back-to-back weeks. He’s the clear top option in the Browns’ passing attack, but he’s a bit cheaper than the typical alpha receiver.
Mark Andrews also started heating up before missing the past two games due to COVID-19. He finished with at least seven targets in each of his previous two contests, resulting in an average of 16.85 DraftKings points per game. He has been priced up a bit at $8,800 on DraftKings, but his $10,500 salary on FanDuel comes with a slate-high Bargain Rating of 92%.
The Ravens’ backfield is even more crowded than the Browns’, with J.K. Dobbins, Mark Ingram, and Gus Edwards all commanding touches on a weekly basis. That said, Dobbins has emerged as the clear lead back out of this trio. He led the team with 11 carries last week and managed to turn those carries into 71 rushing yards and a touchdown. He entered the league as an elite talent, so it’s not surprising that he’s started to distinguish himself.
Edwards serves as the closer for the Ravens. He typically wears teams down late in games when the defense is theoretically tired, and he did that to perfection last week vs. the Cowboys. He turned a meager seven carries into 101 rushing yards, resulting in 13.1 DraftKings. Still, it’s hard to trust a player with such a minimal workload, especially considering his recent spike in salary. Any reduction in efficiency is going to make it tough for him to return value given his lack of involvement as a pass catcher.
Marquise Brown is another player who has come on strong for the Ravens recently. He’s posted a positive Plus/Minus in back-to-back games, and he’s also seen eight targets in both contests. He only saw at least eight targets in two of his first 10 games, so that’s a nice spike in volume. He is expected to play the majority of his snaps against Kevin Johnson, and Pro Football Focus gives him a sizable edge in that matchup. Even when Brown moves around the field and is covered by someone else, the Browns don’t really have any corners who should scare him.
Hunt has not been able to return value with Chubb back in the lineup recently. He’s posted a negative Plus/Minus in each of his past three games, and he’s scored 9.3 DraftKings points or fewer in four of his past five. That said, his price has actually increased compared to what it was last week on DraftKings, which makes him a tough player to get behind. He should still garner plenty of opportunities, but he seems too expensive given the matchup.
Rashard Higgins was one of the primary beneficiaries of Mayfield’s big game last week. He finished with a season-high nine targets, and he turned those targets into 21.5 DraftKings points. He also led the Browns’ WRs in snaps last week, so he’s a solid option at his price tag.
Finally, Willie Snead will be back in the lineup this week, and he’s operated as the clear No. 2 WR for the Ravens recently. He’s logged at least seven targets in three of his past four games (excluding the two he missed for COVID-19). His path to playing time should only be clearer with Dez Bryant still out of the lineup.
- Donovan Peoples-Jones: $4,800 on DraftKings, $7,500 on FanDuel – Peoples-Jones was one of the top recruits in the country out of high school but failed to live up to expectations at Michigan. Still, he has an appealing combination of size and athleticism and has saw plenty of opportunities for the Browns last week. He played on 57% of the Browns’ offensive plays in Week 13, which trailed only Landry and Higgins at the position.
- Defenses and Kickers – These options are always viable in the single-game format. The defenses don’t really stand out in this matchup, but both kickers are projected for positive Plus/Minuses in our NFL Models.
- Harrison Bryant: $4,400 on DraftKings, $6,000 on FanDuel – Austin Hooper will miss this contest for the Browns, which opens the door for Bryant to start at TE. He’s already dominated in one start without Hooper this season, racking up four catches for 56 yards and two touchdowns. He should be a very popular value option.
- Mark Ingram: $2,800 on DraftKings, $8,000 on FanDuel – This is a tempting salary for Ingram, who was priced at $5,600 on DraftKings just last week vs. the Cowboys. He only saw six carries in that contest, but he did have two red zone carries and one target.
- Devin Duvernay: $1,600 on DraftKings, $6,500 on FanDuel – Duvernay and Miles Boykin both saw spikes in playing time last week with Snead out of the lineup, but both players should return to more reserve roles this week. That said, Duvernay seems like the better option between the two. He’s been playing more snaps the Boykin recently, and he’s also cheaper across the industry.
- David Njoku: $1,000 on DraftKings, $7,000 on FanDuel – The Browns have been using a lot of multiple TE sets recently, so Njoku should see a bump in playing time with Hooper out of the lineup. He finished with 10.0 DraftKings points in the same game where Bryant had 21.6, so both guys have the potential to succeed at the same time.
Pictured above: Quarterback Lamar Jackson #8 of the Baltimore Ravens
Photo credit: Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images