This article is part of our DraftKings NFL series.
We have zero games on Sunday's 13-game slate with a total over 49.0, with that high mark coming to us thanks to the Chiefs (+3) against the Patriots in Foxboro. There are a few injury situations that need to be monitored because they could open up some excellent value that will be highly owned, but otherwise we have some really tough choices to make this week because of too many choices at running back and not enough at quarterback and tight end.
Christian McCaffrey, CAR at ATL ($10,300): McCaffrey comes in $200 cheaper than last week after posting his second-worst game of the season, scoring 17.2 fantasy points at home against Washington to push his season average down to 31.3 fantasy points per game. He also failed to score a touchdown against Atlanta in Week 11, a 29-3 Falcons win in Charlotte, though fantasy players surely forgave that because he rushed 14 times for 70 yards and caught 11 of 15 targets for 121 receiving yards to finish with 33.1 fantasy points. With one of the highest game totals of the week, McCaffrey is surely in play again, particularly in cash games, as he is third in the NFL with 235 rushing attempts, second with 1,167 rushing yards, tied for first with 12 rushing touchdowns, and he leads all running backs in targets (95) and receptions (75) while sitting second in receiving yards (644) and third in receiving touchdowns. He has the highest and safest floor in the NFL, and fading him in cash games means you better nail the other pay-up options, who have mostly failed to reach McCaffrey's average level this season.
Leonard Fournette, JAX vs. LAC ($7,800): McCaffrey is the gold standard for fantasy running backs this season, and while Fournette is not in the same tier, his volume is still excellent, as McCaffrey is the only running back in the league with more targets than Fournette's 81, while McCaffrey and Austin Ekeler ($6,300) are the only ones with more receptions than Fournette's 65. Additionally, only six players have more rushing attempts and rushing yards than Fournette, who has scored at least 12.2 fantasy points in every game this season. He now faces a Chargers defense that's allowed the ninth-most fantasy points to running backs, including multiple touchdowns in two of their last three games. Derrick Henry ($8,200) and Nick Chubb ($8,000) are also viable expensive running back options, though neither of them play as big of a role in the passing game. For those looking for some salary savings, Alvin Kamara ($7,000) could be lower owned because of his tough matchup against the 49ers, though the Saints still have an implied total of 23.5, while Melvin Gordon ($6,400) finally looks like he could be in line for a blowup game, as he's gotten at least 20 rushing attempts in three of his last four and faces a Jaguars that's allowed the seventh-most fantasy points to running backs.
Devonta Freeman, ATL vs. CAR ($5,400): Getting the starting running back for the team facing a defense that's allowed the second-most fantasy points to the position at this price seems like an absolute slam dunk until you realize that puts Freeman firmly on the fantasy radar. He has yet to score a rushing touchdown this season, though he does have three through the air (they came in two games), and he's been getting enough targets to surely be a consideration in cash games. The other cheaper options all have some negative that likely puts them behind Freeman, such as Phillip Lindsay ($5,300) against Houston, Benny Snell Jr. ($6,100) at Arizona, Derrius Guice ($4,900) at Green Bay or James White ($5,500) against Kansas City. There is also continued talk about the Dolphins' Patrick Laird ($4,100), who I should love because of his name but simply don't because you're fully relying on his work in the passing game, and the reason you want pass-catching running backs is because they can have success rushing the ball AND catching passes. The problem with Laird is that the Jets are allowing only 2.96 yards per carry this season, only the Buccaneers and Saints have allowed fewer rushing yards, and they haven't allowed more than 60 rushing yards since Week 8. Even if Laird gets seven targets, he needs to do enough with those opportunities to potentially make up for a horrific rushing day, and you are taking up a roster spot for a position that's deep with solid options this week.
Lamar Jackson, BAL at BUF ($7,400): Simply put, Jackson is producing strong running back floor numbers while also possessing the upside to throw three, four or five touchdowns. The Buffalo defense isn't as good as the 49ers one Jackson faced last week, though that game was at home whereas Sunday's game is in upstate New York. He's the most expensive quarterback on the slate, but that's probably not enough for people to fade him, especially with Patrick Mahomes ($7,000) playing in arguably the toughest quarterback matchup in the league: on the road in Foxboro. If you really don't think Jackson is worth it, Kirk Cousins ($6,700) is facing a Lions defense that's allowed the seventh-most fantasy points to quarterbacks, while Aaron Rodgers ($6,800) could have his way at home against Washington.
Sam Darnold, NYJ vs. MIA ($6,000): Darnold is the poster boy this week of bad (fantasy) quarterbacks in plus matchups, as he faces a Dolphins defense that has allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks this season. Meanwhile, Ryan Fitzpatrick ($6,000) on the other side of the game faces a Jets defense that has been poor against the pass and will be without starting slot corner Brian Poole and safety Jamal Adams, players who were active and on the field when Fitzpatrick carved them up for 288 yards and three touchdowns in Week 9. Meanwhile, no team has allowed more fantasy points to quarterbacks than the Cardinals, who will face Devlin Hodges ($5,900) this week, while Jacoby Brissett ($6,100) faces the second-worst defense against quarterbacks, Kyle Allen ($5,700) the third-worst and Drew Lock ($5,100) the fourth-worst. (See a pattern here?) The issue here is that you're playing the matchup more than the quarterback, but with so many in potentially good spots, we've got a perfect recipe for creating multiple lineups and team or game-stacking until we get the right fits.
Davante Adams, GB vs. WAS ($8,000): The case for Adams is pretty easy: he's had double-digit targets in five straight games, he's the no. 1 receiver for the team with the second-highest implied total and he's facing a team that's allowed multiple wide receiver touchdowns in two of the past three games. The Saints' Michael Thomas ($8,300) continues to get a high number of targets, but the matchup against the 49ers will surely push some people away, as only two teams have allowed fewer fantasy points to wide receivers and 10 teams have a higher implied total. Meanwhile, the Chiefs' Tyreek Hill ($8,100) is facing the team that's allowed the fewest fantasy points to wideouts, and Kansas City has a lower implied total than the Saints. It all lines up for Adams to be highly owned, which means we won't see as much with the guys above him or key contributors below, in terms of salary, such as Stefon Diggs ($7,600), Julio Jones ($7,500), DeAndre Hopkins ($7,400), Chris Godwin ($7,300), Mike Evans ($7,200), Julian Edelman ($7,100), D.J. Moore ($7,000), DeVante Parker ($6,900) or Kenny Golladay ($6,700).
Parris Campbell, IND at TB ($3,200): Campbell hasn't played since Week 9 because of a broken hand, but he was solid in that last game, catching all five of his targets for 53 yards while also rushing three times for 27 yards. The Colts continue to deal with a plethora of injuries, most importantly to top wideout T.Y. Hilton (calf) and tight end Eric Ebron (ankle), leaving targets to be had against a Buccaneers defense that is elite against the run but has allowed the most fantasy points to wide receivers by a decent margin this season. The return of running back Marlon Mack ($6,000) would theoretically push the Colts from having to throw more than they want to, but the Buccaneers defense is strong enough there that it's silly not to test their secondary. Zach Pascal ($5,500) also figures to be popular because of the matchup, but Campbell provides excellent salary savings and lower risk if the Colts' passing game doesn't work out. Otherwise, the pay-down options include Cincinnati's Auden Tate ($5,000) at Cleveland, Jacksonville's Chris Conley ($4,000) against the Chargers or possibly Kelvin Harmon ($3,700) at Green Bay, with the expectation that Washington will have to throw a bunch of catch up.
Mike Williams, LAC at JAX ($4,500): No wide receiver on the slate has more targets (68), receptions (38) or receiving yards (778) while failing to score a touchdown than Williams, who had 10 touchdowns on 66 targets (43 receptions) last season. He's certainly not a high-volume receiver, but he's shown a nice track record of completing long plays, with at least one catch of more than 40 yards in each of his last five games. We'll be arguing about positive touchdown regression until he actually finds the end zone, but his lower salary is enough of a hedge if this is another week he fails to hit pay dirt. Otherwise, you're left paying a little more for guys like Curtis Samuel ($4,900), Robby Anderson ($5,100), Jamison Crowder ($5,300), A.J. Brown ($5,300) or Marvin Jones ($5,400).
Ian Thomas, CAR at ATL ($2,500): With Greg Olsen ruled out because of a concussion, Thomas figures to run most of the tight end routes after catching all four of his targets for 24 yards last week against Washington. New head coach Perry Fewell said Friday that the Panthers will use a committee of Thomas, Chris Manhertz and fullback Alex Armah as options to cover Olsen, though Manhertz has run only 19 routes all season while Armah hasn't been targeted since Week 5. Given the way Olsen was used in the offense, not to mention his minimum salary, Thomas will surely be popular in cash games.
Darren Waller, OAK vs. TEN ($5,800): I don't think this is a week where it's worth paying up for a tight end, but if the money is there, Waller makes the most sense given his high volume (recently, at least) plus a matchup against a Titans defense that's allowed the eighth-most fantasy points to the position, including touchdowns in two of the last three games. Some of the cheaper options we've seen over the past few weeks are not nearly as cheap, with Jack Doyle now $4,600 at Tampa Bay, Vance McDonald $4,300 at Arizona, and even Mike Gesicki is $4,000 at the Jets. With so many of these guys feeling over-priced, we're pushed even more towards paying down for Thomas.
Colts at TB ($2,400): Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston has turned the ball over at least once in seven straight games, including multiple turnovers five times in that span. Meanwhile, the Colts are coming off a Week 13 game against Tennessee when they recorded a season-high six sacks and two fumble recoveries, and they now face a quarterbacks who has fumbled the second-most times (12), thrown the most interceptions (20) and taken the second-most sacks (40) this season.