We’ve hit the second major collection of BYE weeks, and Week 11 marks the fewest games we will see until the playoffs start. With six teams off, cheap value is not as obvious this week as some previous weeks. Looking at the pricing, there are not as many promising, sub $4,000 plays as usual, but the next tier up offers more than usual to compensate. Some of my favorite plays this week settled into the $5,500-$4,000 range this week, and so most of the focus of this week’s targets will be from that area.
Before we get to the targets, just a quick reminder that these aren’t meant to be cash recommendations, although some this week could be used there. The players highlighted here are simply players I expect to hit value and offer some salary flexibility. With that out of the way, let’s move ahead. Good luck this week, and enjoy the potential Super Bowl preview Monday night.
DFS Targets: Week 11
Dak Prescott, @ATL ($5,200)
Viable QB options in this price range are tricky plays. Usually the realm of untested starters, players with a bad match up, or guys running offenses missing key parts to injury, this week there is a legit fantasy option in Dak Prescott. Pricing him as QB20 is too low, especially with some of the other factors I’ll highlight below. He’s actually $100 cheaper than Joe Flacco this week. That’s despite Flacco’s availability being a worse kept secret than the fate of the titular ship in the movie Titanic. If you want the best, cheapest option this week, Dak’s your guy.
After a very rough start to the season, Dak has turned his season around in a big way the last month. In his past four games, Dak has averaged 22.57 points. Compare that production to his first five weeks, when he averaged just 13.51 points. That productive stretch has seen Dak sport a 6/1 TD to INT ratio, his two highest single game passing yard totals, and most importantly, three rushing TDs.
Making Dak even more interesting is the recent addition of Amari Cooper as a true top receiving threat for Dak. In his short career, he has never had a receiver with Cooper’s combination of route running, football IQ, and speed. Dallas has worked to get Cooper involved early and often, and he’s seen 18 targets in his two weeks with the Cowboys. Combining Cooper with Ezekiel Elliot, Dak has his most explosive trio of weapons healthy and heading into a great match up.
The Atlanta Falcons defense has seen better days. They were hit hard by injuries at every level of their defense, losing key parts regularly. As a result, Atlanta finds themselves as the third most QB friendly defense. So far they’ve allowed the sixth most yards, fifth most passing TDs, and fifth best QB rating. All of that production while also maintaining the fourth lowest sack percentage, makes the Falcons a great QB match up. A small bit of relief was supposed to arrive with the potential return of LB Deion Jones, but he’s already been ruled out. Dallas should have no problem running their offense, and lately that’s meant a good day for Dak.
Alex Collins, vs. CIN ($4,400)
Only the RB31 on the full slate, Collins is in a great position of offer significant value this week. This price is actually Collins’ lowest of the year, as he’s seen a slow downward trend drive him into good value territory. As underwhelmed as many Collins’ owners may be by him this year, he’s now priced about where he has been producing. DFS success sometimes dictates looking beyond players you may be comfortable with. Re-evaluating players based on pricing and match ups can be just as important as a players actual talent (more so at this price level), and Collins profiles as a textbook value play. I expect his ownership to be its highest in weeks, but that’s a fair trade for the salary flexibility he brings.
Well, Collins hasn’t quite lived up to expectations. After a breakthrough second season that saw him rack up over 1,000 yards from scrimmage, many thought Collins would be a lock RB2. Instead, we’ve seen him be a victim of poor offensive play and a frustrating RB rotation. What we have seen this year from Collins, is very productive days the two weeks he’s had his most carries. In Weeks 3 and 6, Collins was given 18 and 19 touches and scored 16.4 and 17.4 points. That workload threshold is important for Collins given his current QB situation.
This week, Joe Flacco has been hobbled by a hip injury that is likely to lead to his first missed start since 2015. In his stead, Baltimore will likely turn to a combination of Robert Griffin III or rookie Lamar Jackson. Both of these players would greatly benefit from a healthy run game, given their lack of recent success as NFL QBs. Potential game script changes alone wouldn’t necessarily drive a player to fantasy relevance, but their opponent this week pushes Collins over that edge.
The excitement for Collins this week comes from his match up. In simple terms, the Bengals are bad. On the season they allow the third most points to RBs in DraftKings. Their rush defense has allowed the third most total rushing yards, and the second most yards per game. To just running backs, they’ve allowed the seventh most rushing yards, as well as sixth most rushing TDs. There’s a chance CIN gets Vontaze Burfict back this week, but that might not mean much given other injuries on the Bengals roster.
The continued absence of A.J. Green will again force Tyler Boyd into the WR1 role for CIN. As good as Boyd has been this year, his time without Green hasn’t been kind. Fellow WR John Ross is still being bothered by a groin injury, potentially limiting his best tool-his top end speed. Against Baltimore’s very good defense, missing a player of Green’s caliber can be devastating; especially since the Bengals turnover % almost quadruples without Green. It could be a very tough day for CIN on both sides of the ball, and Collins figures to play a central role.
Amari Cooper, @ATL ($5,400)
We have arrived at one of my favorite values of the week. Amari Cooper is priced as the WR28 in the full slate, but is capable of crushing value at this price. This is a slight bump up for him, and Cooper has actually seen his price increase each week with his new team. His upward price trend isn’t merely a coincidence, as Dallas is using him the way Oakland should have been all year. Even with his third straight week of price increase, he is still a far cry from his season high of $7,300 back in the season opener. Cooper is the WR1 for Dallas, and very soon could produce a fantasy day that justifies his trade price (for one week at least).
The mystery of Cooper’s usage in Oakland is a complicated situation that requires factoring in a QB in crisis, a bad head coach a decade removed from coaching, and an overall underwhelming offense. On paper, the whole enigma becomes much easier to solve. Give Cooper the ball. In the four games Cooper received more than five targets, he has produced as a WR1, averaging 21.18 points per game. Two of those games have been the two games he’s been in Dallas. His last two games in Oakland, he got two targets and caught one for 10 yards. In the second play of his Dallas tenure, Cooper matched that production with an 11 yard reception. Cooper’s second drive with the Cowboys ended with him on the receiving end of a four yard TD pass from Prescott.
In short, Dallas is very committed to making Cooper look good. They are scripting looks to him early and getting him involved, like anyone not tanking a season should be doing. His 18 targets in the last two weeks show that will have a WR1 workload. In that same time, he has the 10th most air yards and ninth best WOPR. He’s been productive, but is capable of much more.
This week could easily be the one that sees his actual production fulfill his potential. As I mentioned above, the Falcons defense is bad, and they allow the 10th most points to WRs in DraftKings. More specifically, Cooper has run the majority of his routes with Dallas split out to the left. This would draw Robert Alford, who is allowing a QB passer rating of over 140 when targeted. If ATL wanted to move Desmond Trufant to shadow Cooper, it would be an improvement, but he has allowed a rating over 94 himself. There’s no good answer the Falcons have for Cooper, which should lead to a big day for him in DraftKings.
Sammy Watkins, @LAR ($5,200)
Not too far below Cooper, is Sammy Watkins at WR33. His pricing this week is the fifth time he has been above $5,000, but still is below his season high of $5,400. What makes Watkins so attractive is the expected shootout with similarly defensively-challenged Los Angeles Rams. If that game comes close to matching the predicted 63.5 point total, Watkins stands to be the recipient of a solid amount of fantasy points. There isn’t much higher upside, factoring in talent and opponent, this week around this price.
Sammy can be a pretty boom or bust guy. In Week 8, Watkins exploded for a season-high 33.7 points, but that was just two weeks removed from a 3.7 point game in the high scoring game against NE. His season scoring average is only 13.3, but that isn’t too far from hitting value for him at his price. Looking at his match up, I’d be willing to bet on his talent to produce another high scoring day for him, well above his season average.
The main thing potentially holding Watkins back this week is a foot injury which caused him to miss the Chiefs’ game last week. He had an interesting set back in practice participation on Friday, after getting in a limited practice Thursday. Monday’s game and the extra day of rest will help Watkins, and the consensus seems to be Friday’s DNP is more of a maintenance thing than a re-injury. KC will need him against LAR, even if it’s only as a decoy. With the talent of Patrick Mahomes, just being on the field gives you breakout potential.
Despite missing top CB Aqib Talib for much of the season, LA 17th in points allowed to WRs. The 37.2 ppg allowed to WRs isn’t amazing, but the 14 TDs allowed to WRs is tied for second most. Really, what is drawing the attention in this match up is that betting total of 63.5 points. That total is considered the highest total ever and everyone will want some exposure to that game. The Chiefs in particular are high priced. Mahomes is QB1, Tyreek Hill is WR4, Travis Kelce is TE2, and Kareem Hunt is RB6. Cheap, high talent exposure for KC starts with Watkins, and his pricing allows for stacking some of those other options.
Mark Andrews, vs. CIN ($2,600)
The tight end position is a fantasy wasteland this year. Premium plays have been mostly solid, but most DFS players are scrambling to hit value on a cheaper play. If you want a super cheap dart throw, Mark Andrews is TE26 this week. Only $100 above minimum pricing for the position, this is around where Andrews has been priced all season. He’s not a bargain, but he could easily hit value this week, like he has in two of his last three games. Andrews is so cheap, that even a zero here can still get you to the cash line depending on how you spend your savings.
In a time share with mostly three other TEs, Andrews has been the most productive. On the team, he leads the TE group in targets, receptions, yards, TDs, air yards, and WOPR. If you worry about the work being split in Baltimore, don’t. There are multiple TEs getting some work, but Andrews is the best of them. He has just had his most productive two-week stretch of the season, totaling seven receptions and 81 yards. A handful of catches gets Andrews to where you want him, and there is potential for more this week. As I mentioned above, QB Joe Flacco will most likely be out this week. Robert Griffin and Lamar Jackson will benefit from having a safe outlet to pass to, and Andrews can provide that. Especially down in the red zone, where he leads the team in targets, Andrews will be a nice target.
Quick refresher for you about the Bengals D: they’re bad. Here are their defensive ranks in terms of points per game allowed to QBs, RBs, WRs, and TEs: 1st, 3rd, 3rd, and 3rd. They are really good at being bad. More specifically, to TEs they have allowed the fourth most receptions, fourth most yards, and fourth most TDs. It would be hard to manufacture a defense more suited to allowing fantasy points while maintaining the facade of trying to win games. Yet, somehow, Marvin Lewis has managed to do it. Feel free to hop in and ride the “Bengals are awful” wave this week.