The Player Models are the lifeblood of our NFL DFS product. They house our projections for each player, but that’s just the beginning of what you’ll find inside. After all, a projection is just part of the equation: salary, ceiling, and projected ownership all factor into which players stand out as the best plays each week.
Let’s dive into our models and look at a few players with the highest ceilings and values for this week’s slate.
Note: Projections and Leverages Scores/Ratings may change throughout the week after this article is posted. Consult the Player Models directly for any updates as we get closer to lock.
Finally, make sure to check out all the projections available for purchase (Chris Raybon’s come included with a FantasyLabs subscription) 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:
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NFL DFS Quarterback Picks
Top Ceiling: Jalen Hurts vs. San Francisco 49ers – $8,200 on DraftKings, $9,000 on FanDuel
The Eagles continue an extremely tough part of their schedule as they host the 49ers on Sunday afternoon. They beat the Cowboys in Week 9 before their bye week and then got huge wins over the Chiefs and Bills in the past two weeks. They face the Cowboys on Sunday night football in a dream Week 14 matchup before finishing with some easier matchups. During this difficult stretch, though, Jalen Hurts has continued to rise to the occasion and lock himself in as one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL and for fantasy football.
This week, Hurts is in a tough matchup against the very strong 49ers defense, but he still shows very well in the projections. He has the top median projection of all 20 starting quarterbacks on both DraftKings and FanDuel in the FantasyLabs projections, THE BLITZ projections, and Chris Raybon’s projections. Using a customized three-way blend of those projections, he has the second-highest ceiling projection on DraftKings and the highest at the position on FanDuel. In that aggregate projection, Hurts also has the highest Pts/Sal of all quarterbacks this week on FanDuel.
Hurts is coming off his best fantasy game of the season. He threw for just 200 yards against the Bills on Sunday but threw three touchdowns and added two more rushing touchdowns to go with 65 rushing yards. He has three games with multiple rushing scores this season and has totaled 11 rushing touchdowns to go with his 18 passing touchdowns. He only averages 245.2 passing yards per game, but his consistent touchdowns make him. a strong option every week, and his rushing potential makes his ceiling extremely high, even in a tough matchup.
All season, Hurts and the Eagles have been outstanding at home. In his five home games, he has led the Eagles to a perfect 5-0 record while producing 28.2 DraftKings points and 26.6 FanDuel points per home start.
The matchup is enough of a legitimate reason for concern that many will stay away from Hurts this week, but that actually makes him a great leverage spot since his ownership will be lower. It won’t be an easy game for the Eagles, but Hurts has proven that he can come up large in the biggest spots, and he’ll get another chance to do just that on Sunday before heading to Dallas for their huge divisional showdown next week.
Top Value: Russell Wilson at Houston Texans – $5,700 on DraftKings, $7,400 on FanDuel
While that 49ers-Eagles game will get plenty of attention in the late window, one of the most intriguing games in the early wave of games is the matchup between the Broncos and the Texans. Both teams are making a playoff push after missing the postseason for the past few years. While C.J. Stroud and the Texans’ offense is getting plenty of deserved attention, Russell Wilson is also leading a turnaround in Denver, and the veteran offers a little more value than the rookie, who is also a good play.
Of the 20 quarterbacks set to start on Sunday, Wilson has the highest Projected Plus/Minus and Pts/Sal on DraftKings using the blended projections. He has the third-highest Projected Plus/Minus on FanDuel behind only Stroud and Hurts. On DraftKings, Wilson is much cheaper, with a 67% Bargain Rating. He’s the 10th-most expensive starting quarterback on DraftKings and the ninth-most expensive starting quarterback on FanDuel. His median, ceiling, and floor projections are all higher than his salary indicates, so he seems to be set up for success.
While Wilson hasn’t been running as much as he did earlier in his career, Wilson has at least eight rushing attempts and at least 30 yards in three of his last four games. He added his first rushing touchdown of the season last week with a season-high 11 rush attempts for 34 yards. He also threw a touchdown while completing 13 of 22 attempts for 134 yards against the stingy Browns defense. That touchdown toss gives him at least one passing score in each of his 11 games this season. He has 20 touchdowns and just four interceptions in his 11 games, which is a huge improvement from last season, when he threw 16 touchdowns and 11 interceptions over 15 games. He seems to be settling in nicely to coach Sean Payton’s system.
The Broncos-Texans game has the second-highest over/under of Sunday’s slate, according to our Vegas Dashboard. Even though the Texans have been playing much better as a team, the passing defense has still given up some big games. Opposing quarterbacks have eight total touchdowns in Houston’s last four games and have averaged 297.5 passing yards over that span. Wilson probably won’t get near that yardage total since Denver is running the ball so much, but he should be able to find the end zone multiple times and return great value in this contest.
One thing to keep an eye on is that Jerry Jeudy (groin) and Marvin Mims Jr. (hamstring) have both been limited in practice. Both are big-time weapons for Wilson, so hopefully, they’ll be available for Sunday. Check our news hub for updated statuses leading up to kickoff.
NFL DFS Running Back Picks
Top Ceiling: Christian McCaffrey at Philadelphia Eagles – $9,000 on DraftKings, $9,800 on FanDuel
He’s the most expensive option on both DraftKings and FanDuel by a wide margin, but Christian McCaffrey has established himself as the top running back option to pay up for on a weekly basis. He has the top ceiling, median, and floor projections in the aggregated rankings on both DraftKings and FanDuel, and he also has the second-best Pts/Sal on Fanduel and the sixth-best on DraftKings.
CMC had two touchdowns and ran for 114 yards on Thanksgiving night in the 49ers’ win over the Seahawks. He has scored a touchdown in all but one of his 11 games this season, totaling 16 touchdowns while averaging 85.4 rushing yards and 35.4 receiving yards per game.
Even though he is always highly priced, McCaffrey has exceeded salary-based expectations on DraftKings in four of his last five games and eight of 11 games this season.
CMC is in a tough matchup against the Eagles, who have limited opposing running backs to just two touchdowns all season. Opposing running backs have only averaged 62.7 rushing yards against the Eagles defense this season. The Eagles have been the best team in the NFL at limiting opposing running backs. However, they did give up 116 rushing yards to the Chiefs running backs and 92 rushing yards to the Bills’ running backs in the last two weeks. Buffalo’s running backs also added nine catches for 75 yards. The matchup is still difficult, but there have been signs that there are openings for McCaffrey to find.
Given his volume and his success, McCaffrey is truly matchup-proof. If you have the salary, there isn’t a running back on the slate who can challenge his ceiling or consistency.
Top Value: Zack Moss at Tennessee Titans – $4,600 on DraftKings, $5,600 on FanDuel
Last week, Jonathan Taylor (thumb) was my top ceiling play for Sunday, and he delivered with a pair of touchdowns. While he was able to finish the game, news broke after salaries were released for this week that Taylor needed thumb surgery and would miss multiple games. That opens the door for Zack Moss to be the top value at running back this week by a significant margin. He has the most Pts/Sal and highest Projected Plus/Minus of all running backs in the blended projections on both DraftKings and FanDuel.
Moss showed he could excel as the team’s top running back earlier this season when Taylor was on IR with an ankle injury and ramping up after his return. During a four-game stretch from Week 2 through Week 5, Moss averaged 109.25 rushing yards per game in his first four games of the season. He had four touchdowns during that stretch, with three rushing scores and one more touchdown as part of his eight receptions.
Moss’s strongest game during that stretch came against the Titans, who he’ll face again on Sunday. It was actually Taylor’s first game back, but Moss still carried most of the workload and totaled 165 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries. The Colts won that game at home and will look to complete the season sweep of their division rivals on Sunday in Nashville.
The Titans snapped a three-game losing streak last week by beating the Panthers, but they have allowed four running back touchdowns in the last five weeks. The Colts have been trending in the other direction by relying heavily on their running game. They rank in the top 10 in rush attempts per game on the season, and most of that work should go to Moss in a matchup he already showed he can dominate.
He also has the added bonus of being relatively fresh since he hasn’t had to carry the workload the last few weeks. He has looked strong, though, when he has gotten involved including taking eight carries for 55 yards last week against the Bucs.
He’s such an obvious play that he won’t differentiate your lineup, but he is too good a potential value to pass up. Just be sure to differentiate your lineup at other roster spots.
If you are looking for other value plays, Javonte Williams of the Broncos, Jaylen Warren of the Steelers, and Rhamondre Stevenson are all projected to outperform salary-based expectations. They’re all more expensive than Moss, though, since he is priced with the backups, which was his expected role when salaries were released.
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NFL DFS Wide Receiver Picks
Top Ceiling: Tyreek Hill at Washington Commanders – $9,600 on DraftKings, $10,000 on FanDuel
The Dolphins have the highest implied team total on Sunday’s slate, and the matchup should be a great one for Tyreek Hill to continue his amazing season. Hill has the highest ceiling, median, and floor projections on both DraftKings and FanDuel in the three-way aggregated projections. Especially with Keenan Allen (quad) and A.J. Brown (thigh) battling injuries, there aren’t many alternative elite options to consider.
Hill brings both elite upside and exceptional consistency in his current role as the focus of Miami’s high-scoring offense. He has averaged an impressive 10.9 targets per game this season and has gotten at least 10 targets in each of his last six games. All those opportunities have led to 8.0 catches for 120.4 receiving yards per game for the speedy receiver. He is a constant big-play threat deep down the field but also stays very involved as the team gets into the red zone. He has scored an NFL-leading 10 receiving touchdowns in his 11 games and also leads the league with seven receptions of 40+ yards.
His yardage and touchdown production has been very consistent over the past two months. He has six touchdowns in his last seven games and over 100 yards in three of his last four.
The Commanders are a great matchup for Hill. Washington has allowed 18 receiver touchdowns in their 11 games this season and given up 196.25 yards per game, the second-highest mark in the NFL. Last week, the Cowboys receivers put up three touchdowns and 245 yards against Washington, and Hill will look to attack the same weaknesses this week.
Stacking Hill with Tua Tagovailoa is a good option to consider this week based on this matchup as well.
Top Value: Curtis Samuel vs. Miami Dolphins – $4,100 on DraftKings, $6,200 on FanDuel
On the other side of that matchup in D.C., Curtis Samuel has excellent value potential this week, especially on DraftKings. Samuel has the highest Projected Plus/Minus of all receivers on DraftKings using the blended projections, and he is tied with Hill, Michael Pittman, Courtland Sutton and Elijah Moore for the most Pts/Sal. On DraftKings, Samuel has a 98% Bargain Rating and can be a great way to go cheap in one roster spot to pay up for Hill, CMC, or other stud options.
Samuel had a huge game last week against Dallas, catching a season-high nine passes for a season-high 100 yards. While he hasn’t been a mainstream DFS target, that performance didn’t exactly come out of nowhere, either. Samuel was actually very involved in the Commanders’ passing game early in the season, with at least four catches in seven of the first eight games before being sidelined by a toe injury. He played limited snaps in his return against the Seahawks and was then ejected from his next game against the Giants. Maybe the early departure gave him the rest he needed because he looked fully healthy last week against Dallas and should be ready to roll on Sunday after 10 days off.
The Dolphins allow relatively good numbers to wide receivers since teams are often forced to go pass-heavy to try and keep up with the Dolphins high-scoring offense. If Sam Howell is forced to attempt lots of passes on Sunday, plenty should go to Samuel out of the slot, especially after last week’s showing. Samuel scored two touchdowns earlier this season and has gotten a red zone target in each of the last two weeks. It wouldn’t be surprising if he returns to the end zone this week and posts another good game. At his cheap salary on DraftKings, he doesn’t need the score to return value, though, since as long as he gets the volume, he’ll be a good play at barely over $4K.
Samuel isn’t as much of a bargain on FanDuel, but there are some other solid plays to consider. Josh Downs has the fifth-highest Projected Plus/Minus on the slate and the highest of the receivers priced under $7k. If you have to go even cheaper on FanDuel, Rondale Moore and Marvin Mims are projected to perform well as punt plays. Alternatives to Samuel on DraftKings include Elijah Moore, Diontae Johnson, and rookie Jonathan Mingo, who barely costs more than the minimum despite catching four passes for 60 yards last week in one of his best showings of the season.
NFL DFS Tight End Picks
Top Ceiling: Trey McBride at Pittsburgh Steelers – $4,900 on DraftKings, $6,700 on FanDuel
After he missed practice on Wednesday, Trey McBride was able to return on Thursday and appears to be on track to play this week in Pittsburgh. You’ll want to double-check his status, but if there were any real concern the team would not have let Zach Ertz go earlier this week.
McBride has been a breakout performer in the middle part of the season, and his high volume is projected to continue this week. Using the blended projections, he has the second-highest ceiling projection at tight end on both DraftKings and FanDuel. He’s behind only George Kittle, who has been extremely boom-or-bust and is much more expensive than McBride.
In the Cardinals’ offense, McBride has become a high-volume target which makes him have both a high floor and a high ceiling. Since week 8, McBride has averaged 8.8 targets per week and converted 75% of those targets into 33 catches for an average of 70.2 receiving yards per game.
Last week against the Rams, he had seven more catches for 60 yards and also drew two looks in the red zone. He only has one touchdown on the season and one 100+ yard game, but he has the potential for either or both if things go his way against the Steelers. Opposing tight ends have posted 15 catches for 94 yards and a touchdown in Pittsburgh’s last two games.
Kyler Murray should continue to target Trey for as much work as the second-year tight end can handle. He makes a great option this week, especially on DraftKings, where he matches seven Pro Trends, which is more than any other tight end on the board.
Top Value: Juwan Johnson vs. Detroit Lions – $3,400 on DraftKings, $4,900 on FanDuel
Using the aggregated projections for both DraftKings and FanDuel, Juwan Johnson has the highest Projected Plus/Minus and the most Pts/Sal of all tight ends this week. The Saints’ tight end could end up with a massive workload this weekend since the team is dealing with multiple injuries at receiver.
Both Chris Olave (concussion) and Rashid Shaheed (thigh) left last week’s game against the Falcons. Michael Thomas (knee) is already on IR, leaving the Saints very thin at the position, even in a best-case scenario. With more targets available, Johnson had his best game of the season, catching four passes for 45 yards. He finished second on the team in targets behind Olave.
Even if Olave returns, Johnson should be poised for enough work to be a good play against the Lions. Detroit has been getting into high-scoring games on a regular basis this season, and if this turns into a track meet at the Superdome, the Saints will need Johnson to step up as one of their top pass-catchers. He is an unproven play since he hasn’t had a 50-yard game or a touchdown this season while working with new quarterback Derek Carr. Last year, though, the undrafted free agent from Oregon did flash potential with seven total touchdowns and 508 yards.