Week 13 Daily Fantasy Games Value Report December 4, 2011  |  Josh Carey


Daily (or weekly) fantasy football games like those found on FanDuel (FD) and DraftStreet‘s (DS) websites are all about exploiting matchups. Finding players with an easy path to a big day can get you to the top of the leaderboard. Since winning is more fun than losing, we bring you this breakdown of the players with the best matchup at each position, along with some players with upside even if the schedule doesn’t align as favorably. Then we’ll break down which of those players has the biggest opportunity to lead you to a big payday.

Before we get to this week’s analysis, let’s look at some general strategy based on the lessons learned from an up-and-down effort from Week 12.

All things being equal, limit the player pool.

Unless you’re in a larger contest where the rules are specifically laid out otherwise, finding a game with a smaller player pool can decrease variance and increase your winnings. That’s why this breakdown is avoiding the single Thursday game. What we know throughout the week changes, so why make decisions for Sunday by the Thursday game, three days earlier than you otherwise have to? It’s also a great case for participating in Sunday-only contests on FanDuel that ignore the Monday Night game. Anyone who watched Drew Brees or Victor Cruz turn their win into a loss last week can understand why a smaller player pool is better (so long as there are still enough games in the contest to exploit matchups and other opportunities).

Situation is important.

Matt Forte looked to have a solid matchup and solid opportunity last week to put up big numbers. Only one thing could foil that: Caleb Hanie (or Mike Martz, if you prefer). Percy Harvin seemed like a decent play, rather than an incredible one. Yet he continued to get the ball as Adrian Peterson sat on the sidelines. Matchups are the first key to the puzzle, but paying appropriate attention to these other context clues is a way to see what players might be undervalued in these contests.

Look for and use every penny.

This certainly doesn’t mean you have to spend an extra $200 on a player you like less just to get all the way to the maximum dollar value allowed. But if you have $800 left over in a FanDuel contest, you can probably upgrade somewhere. The second part of this is to use every penny wisely. Each week there’s usually a $5,000 defense on FanDuel that will put up more than 15 points. Kickers are a similar phenomenon. Saving $1,000 in those two spots could move you from a fringe option to a solid value play at your WR or RB spot, for example. That could be the difference between winning or losing.

Now let’s take a look at this week’s values, excluding the Thursday game.

Quarterbacks

First-Tier Matchups
Tim Tebow (vs. Minnesota: $8,200 FD, $14,247 DS)
Dan Orlovsky (vs. New England: $5,000 FD, $3,774 DS)
Christian Ponder (vs. Denver: $7,000 FD, $11,188 DS)
Matt Moore (vs. Oakland: $6,700 FD, $11,759 DS)
Tom Brady (vs. Indianapolis: $9,600 FD, $21,348 DS)
Eli Manning (vs. Green Bay: $7,800 FD, $16,050 DS)

Second-Tier Matchups
Matt Hasselbeck (vs. Buffalo: $6,500 FD, $12,129 DS)
Matt Stafford (vs. New Orleans: $8,700 FD, $17,322 DS)
Blaine Gabbert (vs. San Diego: $5,400 FD, $7,627 DS)

Value Plays
Aaron Rodgers (vs. New York Giants: $9,900, $21,600 DS)
Drew Brees (vs. Detroit: $9,200 FD, $18,481 DS)
Caleb Hanie (vs. Kansas City: $5,900 FD, $10,149 DS)

FanDuel Analysis: This is not a terribly impressive group this week, though you have to love it any time the numbers spit out a ranking with Tim Tebow at the top. Do you really want to trust a team you’re putting money on with the Denver quarterback? Consider that Minnesota is middle-of-the-road in fantasy points allowed to running backs.

Ponder, Moore, and Gabbert are all in that group of signal-callers it’s hard to trust, since you can never really expect a big day out of them no matter who the opponent is. Middle tier options like Stafford and Manning could end up benefiting from being involved in shootouts, much in the same way Eli did on Monday night.

Still, the lack of a clear alternative is what makes Brady such an outstanding play at home against a much-maligned Colts’ defense. Expect Brady to benefit from excellent field position more than once and capitalize for a big day. Rodgers and Brees are always options, even if the matchups aren’t top-notch.

DraftStreet Analysis: In a game where you start two quarterbacks, you almost have to start Orlovsky, don’t you? Tyler Palko was able to put up 236 yards on the New England secondary, even if it did come with three picks and no scores. If the latest Colt to try running the offense can send the ball into the front of the endzone (rather than running it out the back end) he could be in line for a ten point day. That’s reasonable for the price. Consider part of Orlovsky’s points the extra production you get from having $10,000 to spend on upgrades elsewhere in your lineup. Hasselbeck also becomes a more attractive option, as does Eli after getting a more drastic discount off the “top-tier” rate.

Running Backs

First-tier Matchups:
LaGarrette Blount (vs. Carolina: $6,800 FD, $13,128 DS)
BenJarvus Green-Ellis (vs. Indianapolis: $6,500 FD, $10,767 DS)
DeAngelo Williams (vs. Tampa Bay: $6,200 FD, $9,190 DS)
Jonathan Stewart (vs. Tampa Bay: $6,500 FD, $10, 371 DS)

Second-tier Matchups
Frank Gore (vs. St. Louis: $7,900 FD, $13,815 DS)
Chris Johnson (vs. Buffalo: $8,200 FD, $12,858 DS)
Reggie Bush (vs. Oakland: $7,000 FD, $12,250 DS)
Matt Forte (vs. Kansas City: $8,800 FD, $16,123 DS)
James Starks (vs. New York Giants: $8,200 FD, $8, 489 DS)
Ryan Grant (vs. New York Giants: $5,300 FD, $3,734 DS)
Kevin Smith (vs. New Orleans: $6,100 FD, $11,781 DS)
Maurice Morris (vs. New Orleans: $6,100 FD, $9,232 DS)
Ahmad Bradshaw (vs. Green Bay: $8,400 FD, $11,601 DS)
Brandon Jacobs (vs. Green Bay: $6,400 FD, $8,075 DS)

Value Plays
Willis McGahee (vs. Minnesota: $6,200 FD, $9,911 DS)
C.J. Spiller (vs. Tennessee: $5,600 FD, $7,084 DS)
Cedric Benson (vs. Pittsburgh: $7,300 FD, $8,836 DS)
Ben Tate (vs. Atlanta: $5,900 FD, $4,578 DS)

FanDuel Analysis: Blount has a lot of questions surrounding him, but he also has the ability to put up monster numbers (including two straight 100 yard efforts the past two weeks). Even if Freeman sits, Josh Johnson is not a significant downgrade (not the way Freeman has been playing anyways), so the running game shouldn’t see the drop off Chicago’s did with a quarterback change last week. The possibility of Green-Ellis punching in a few scores in a blowout win is very possible, but understand he’s a high-risk, high-reward play. It’s hard to say one Carolina back will have a huge day based on the presence of the other back, so it’s probably best to avoid the entire backfield there this week.

Beanie Wells showed what a matchup against the Rams rushing defense can do for you, so Frank Gore needs to be considered a strong play. Give him a pass for last week against a stout Ravens front. As for Chris Johnson, run with him if you’re convinced he can exploit a big matchup, otherwise he’s far too expensive. The rest of the list poses questions about scheme, health, or ability, so it’s probably best to stay near the top options this week.

DraftStreet Analysis: Those pesky Flex spots on DraftStreet are where you want to consider the Value Plays this week. Low-cost starters are at a premium in those slots, so it might be worth it to ignore some challenging matchups in search of assured carries. Ben Tate works as an option that could grab ten points for a very low cost. With T.J. Yates taking the helm of the Houston offense, the running game should see plenty of action, even the backup.

Wide Receivers

First-tier matchups
Reggie Wayne (vs. New England: $6,700 FD, $7,275 DS)
Pierre Garcon (vs. New England: $6,200 FD, $8,067 DS)
Eric Decker (vs. Minnesota: $5,900 FD, $9,812 DS)
Hakeem Nicks (vs. Green Bay: $7,900 FD, $11,840 DS)
Victor Cruz (vs. Green Bay: $7,000 FD, $13,779 DS)
Mario Manningham (vs. Green Bay: $6,200 FD,

Second-tier matchups
Wes Welker (vs. Indianapolis: $8,500 FD, $16,011 DS)
Deion Branch (vs. Indianapolis: $6,400 FD, $8,519 DS)
Dez Bryant (vs. Arizona: $7,000 FD, $10,230 DS)
Laurent Robinson (vs. Arizona: $6,400 FD, $10,316 DS)
Calvin Johnson (vs. New Orleans: $8,500 FD, $16,061 DS)
Greg Jennings (vs. New York Giants: $8,100 FD, $13,669 DS)
Jordy Nelson (vs. New York Giants: $7,000 FD, $12,040 DS)
Brandon Marshall (vs. Oakland: $7,300 FD, $12,272 DS)

Value Plays
Percy Harvin (vs. Denver: $6,800 FD, $12,012 DS)
Darrius Heyward-Bay (vs. Miami: $5,600 FD, $6,897 DS)

FanDuel Analysis: While Orlovsky could have a day that isn’t an unmitigated disaster, it’s hard to pin your hopes on any specific receiver having a big day. Is it the steady hands of Reggie Wayne or the speed of Pierre Garcon? The speedster is probably the better bet, but neither is encouraging. Decker has that whole issue of Tim Tebow being his quarterback, so six targets would be something for his fantasy owners to throw a party over. That’s why investing in the Giants receiving corps instead could pay dividens.

Call the Chiefs game an anomaly and use Welker if you can afford his salary this week. The same holds true for Calvin Johnson. Laurent Robinson gets another start with Austin once again out, so he remains an excellent value this week. It’s also hard to argue with getting a piece of the Packers’ talented wideouts, no matter who the opponent is. Harvin is an intriguing option based on his recently increased role in the Vikings’ attack.

DraftStreet Analysis: Wayne (and to a lesser extent Garcon) become better values on DraftStreet, where their relative costs plummet. Nicks becomes the more intriguing play out of New York as Cruz’s price tag shoots up. Heyward-Bay also could be worth a flier with so many of Oakland’s playmakers on the sidelines.

Tight Ends

First-tier matchups
Antonio Gates (vs. Jacksonville: $7,400 FD, $10,221 DS)
Todd Heap (vs. Dallas: $4,500 FD, $3,046 DS)
Scott Candler (vs. Tennessee:  $5,100 FD, $6,651 DS)
Jake Ballard (vs. Green Bay: $5,100 FD, $5,589 DS)

Value Plays
Rob Gronkowski (vs. Indianapolis: $7,500 FD, $13,667 DS)
Jimmy Graham (vs. Detroit: $7,300 FD, $13,567 DS)

FanDuel Analysis: It’s hard not to look at one of the elite options this week. Gates is worth playing, certainly, but it’s hard to get away from Gronkowski or Graham no matter who they face. Those options are likely best, though Ballard could be a sneaky way to profit. Chandler is more risky considering the struggles from Buffalo’s offense.

DraftStreet Analysis: Gates becomes an even better option with the reduced price tag, while Ballard is an excellent cheaper option.

Kickers

First-tier matchups
John Kasasy (vs. Detroit: $5,300 FD)
Matt Prater (vs. Minnesota: $5,100 FD)
Nick Folk (vs. Washington: $5,000 FD)
Ryan Longwell (vs. Denver: $5,000 FD)
Stephen Gostkowski (vs. Indianapolis: $5,300 FD)
Dan Bailey (vs. Arizona: $5,300 FD)

FanDuel Analysis: All of these options are relatively cheap, so it might be worth the $200 upgrade to get into the Kasay/Gostkowski/Bailey range. Folk is likely the best of the lowest-cost options, as the Jets could struggle to find the end zone against a decent Redskins defense.

Team Defenses

First-tier matchups
San Francisco (vs. St. Louis: $5,400 FD, $6,157 DS)
San Diego (vs. Jacksonville: $5,000 FD, $4,243 DS)
New England (vs. Indianapolis: $5,000 FD, $6,609 DS)
New York Jets (vs. Washington: $5,100 FD, $5,603 DS)

FanDuel Analysis: San Francisco has to strongly be considered. When one of the top defenses in football goes up against one of the weakest offenses (possibly even starting a backup quarterback), it’s a recipe for a fantasy buffet. All three other defenses could also put up solid totals for a slightly smaller cost.

DraftStreet Analysis: Here you might want to stay away from New England, which gets penalized for recent success. Being cheaper also makes the Chargers’ squad a more reasonable option than on FanDuel.

Good luck out there this week!

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