The Fake Football DFS Optimizer & Cheat Sheet, Week 14 (UPDATED)
December 10, 2017 | Ian Goldsmith
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Note: Like I do every week I write the cheat sheet, I like to get it posted early so that you can play around with the optimizer. Throughout the week, I’ll be posting injury news, picks, and post lineups. These will lean more towards the main slates on the weekend, but I will make some comments about Thursday’s matchup between New Orleans and Atlanta.
Sterling Shepard PLAYING.
Marcus Peters OUT. (I forgot to mention earlier that he was suspended for one game.)
Adrian Peterson OUT. Kerwynn Williams starts.
Greg Olsen PLAYING.
Alex Collins PLAYING.
Donte Moncrief OUT.
Kelvin Benjamin PLAYING.
Doug Martin PLAYING. Poor Barber.
Will Fuller PLAYING.
Tyrod Taylor OUT. Colts become an interesting tournament play with Peterman starting.
Ameer Abdullah OUT. Theo Riddick is an awesome play on full PPR sites like DK.
Matthew Stafford PLAYING.
Chris Hogan PROBABLE. He’ll get a heavy load of targets on Monday night. He’s worth a tournament play if you are on a Monday slate.
Amari Cooper PLAYING. Oakland is an interesting contrarian stack today against the Chiefs’ terrible pass defense (especially without Peters).
Orleans Darkwa PLAYING.
Joe Mixon OUT. Fire up Gio Bernard. Who cares if he’s chalk for $3,100 on DK.
Damien Williams OUT. Drake is a go.
Charcandrick West PLAYING.
Vontaze Burfict OUT.
Zach Ertz OUT. The biggest beneficiary is Nelson Agholor.
Delanie Walker and Rishard Matthews PLAYING.
Jordan Reed OUT….in the least surprising news.
Eddie Lacy OUT.
INJURY & SUSPENSION REPORT
Note: These aren’t official injury tags. These are our best guesses based on news.
JuJu Smith-Schuster SUSPENDED. He’s out for his hit on Burfict on Monday night. Martavis Bryant steps in as the WR2 for the Steelers.
Rob Gronkowski SUSPENDED. He leveled a brutal head hit after a play was dead. Truly awful. Dwayne Allen will start, but I expect most of the short-yardage work to go to the running backs.
Adrian Peterson QUESTIONABLE with a neck injury. Kerwynn Williams would start again, after a 97-yard effort last week.
John Brown QUESTIONABLE with turf toe.
Alex Collins QUESTIONABLE with migraines. Ugh, no good. Buck Allen and Terrance West would get most of the rushing work, while Woodhead is still in play in the receiving game.
Jimmy Smith OUT. This is a huge loss for the Baltimore defense, especially going against Antonio Brown and the Steelers. Look for Pittsburgh to exploit his absence.
Jordan Matthews OUT for the season with a knee injury. He has fewer than 300 yards in 10 games for Buffalo this year.
Kelvin Benjamin QUESTIONABLE. They need someone to catch passes. This should be a winnable game, but who are they going to throw to?
Tyrod Taylor QUESTIONABLE. He’s more doubtful here, but the Bills have a winnable game against the Colts and could use him if they want to make a run for the 6th seed. Peterman would start if Taylor is out.
Greg Olsen PROBABLE. Woot!
Joe Mixon QUESTIONABLE with a concussion. Gio Bernard would get the work in his absence.
Vontaze Burfict QUESTIONABLE. JuJu laid him out, which ended up with Burfict being carted off. I’d imagine Cincy plays it safe here and leaves him out, especially in a winnable matchup against Chicago.
Aqib Talib PLAYING. He’s back from suspension.
Michael Crabtree PLAYING. He’s also back from suspension.
Dak Prescott PROBABLE with a bruised hand.
Matthew Stafford QUESTIONABLE with a bruised hand. It’s a great matchup against the Bucs, but the Lions may have to start Jake Rudock at QB. Yeesh.
Ameer Abdullah QUESTIONABLE. He was out last week, and Theo Riddick stepped in and played well.
Charcandrick West QUESTIONABLE. Whatever, I’ve given up on my Chiefs. The running game gets zero touches anymore, it seems.
Will Fuller QUESTIONABLE. There is really little reason to rush him back at this point of the season. Braxton Miller would fill in as the WR2 with a good matchup against San Fran.
Mike Williams DOUBTFUL. He’s been a wasted pick so far for LA and has no fantasy value right now.
Robert Woods DOUBTFUL. He has an outside chance at playing, but I’d imagine they sit him once more, which would favor Cooper Kupp.
Damien Williams QUESTIONABLE. If he’s out, Kenya Drake gets bumped up again, though his matchup this week (Pats) is noticeably tougher.
Chris Hogan DOUBTFUL. He still hasn’t practiced, so I don’t see him playing this week in a very winnable matchup against Miami.
Marshon Lattimore QUESTIONABLE. He was held out last week, but the Saints’ passing D held its own. He practiced last week, so he could well be a go against the Falcons.
Mark Ingram QUESTIONABLE. He was limited Monday and didn’t practice Tuesday. He needs to get in a practice Wednesday for us to be certain of his status.
Amari Cooper QUESTIONABLE. He’s still dealing with concussion symptoms. Crabtree is back this week and gets the biggest bump if Cooper is out.
Zach Ertz QUESTIONABLE. He’s also dealing with concussion symptoms.
Ryan Shazier OUT. He suffered a bruised spine Monday, and he’s fortunate that is all that happened. Get well soon, Ryan!
Doug Martin QUESTIONABLE. He’s also dealing with concussion symptoms. Ugh. Peyton Barber was fantastic in the lead role and benefits most here if Martin is out.
Delanie Walker QUESTIONABLE with an ankle injury. He’ll likely play this week as Tennessee marches towards the playoffs.
Rishard Matthews QUESTIONABLE. He’s been out two weeks now, but has been practicing. Mariota could use him out there.
Jordan Reed QUESTIONABLE. I mean, duh. When is he not injured? Vernon Davis is the big winner here again, obviously.
Alvin Kamara has been the best running back in fantasy over the past five weeks, and it’s not even close. I knew that he had a big lead over the RB2, but I had no idea how wide it was until looking at it today. In standard leagues, Kamara has scored nearly 36 more than #2, his teammate Mark Ingram. In PPR? He’s an insane 51 points ahead of RB2 Todd Gurley. This insane streak has catapulted Kamara to the RB3 in both scoring systems for the season. Kamara already has a dream matchup against an Atlanta team giving up the most receptions to opposing backs, but Ingram is questionable and could be out, which would shoot Kamara’s already high stock to the moon. He’s a near must play if you are playing the Thursday slate.
Desmond Trufant is back this week, but Michael Thomas should still be in play here as Trufant keeps to one side of the field, and Sean Payton has no problems moving his chess pieces around. Still, I like Ted Ginn better here as a tournament dart play at WR in what should be a high scoring game. Drew Brees should bounce back this week, especially if Ingram is out. He’s quietly been phenomenal, but hasn’t had to throw the ball nearly as often as he has in the past. Matt Ryan should be in play here as well as the Falcons will need to be firing on all cylinders to keep up with the Saints.
Devonta Freeman is my favorite Falcon on the night. He’s torched the Saints in the past two years, gaining at least 96 yards and a TD in each of his past four matchups against them. He had at least 156 yards and a TD in three of those four, including both last season. He’s a steal across the board, but especially on DK for $5,800 given his receiving potential.
Tom Brady (NE at MIA): Brady has at least 3 TD in three of his past four games against the Dolphins. Miami has given up the 7th most passing touchdowns this season, and they rank next to last against the position in the last five weeks. Simply put, no other QB has a safer floor.
Alex Smith (KC vs. OAK): Smith was the leader in deep passing through the first few weeks of the season. Then Andy Reid happened. Fortunately, Reid gave up play calling last week and Smith was throwing deep with repeated success. He gets an Oakland team he torched earlier this season, a team that struggles against the deep ball. Expect a lot of Smith to Hill connections this week.
Jimmy Garoppolo (SF at HOU): Garoppolo may not have been a huge fantasy success last week, but he showed poise and guided the 49ers to just their second win on the season. This week he gets a much easier matchup against a Houston team that has been bleeding points to opposing QBs since Week 5. With a low, low price and upside galore, I want all the JG I can fit onto my teams this week.
Blaine Gabbert (ARI vs. TEN): Gabbert is still near minimum salary across the industry. He has been playing well, too, highlighted by his 240 yard, 2 TD performance against the Jags in Week 12, the best line for any opposing QB against them this season. Despite their glowing record, Tennessee has been beatable through the air this season. We saw Tom Savage throw for 365 yards against them last week. While Blaine won’t get near that yardage, another 225-250 line with a couple of scores is well in the cards, with some rushing yardage to boot.
Other players the optimizer likes: DeShone Kizer (CLE vs. GB); Blake Bortles (JAX vs SEA); Russell Wilson (SEA vs JAX); Jameis Winston (TB vs. DET)
Le’Veon Bell (PIT vs. BAL): Bell torched Baltimore for 186 yards and 2 scores in their matchup earlier this season. Baltimore’s defense has been playing well of late, but they are still exploitable on the ground. Plus, they just lost Jimmy Smith, which means Antonio Brown should go ham, and the Steelers should be able to build a lead, leading to extra work for Bell. He’s the top play of the week at the position, despite the price.
LeSean McCoy (BUF vs. IND): Just below Bell in my rankings is Shady McCoy, who gets a juicy matchup at home against the Colts. With Tyrod Taylor likely out and Nathan Peterman a poor excuse for a QB, you can bet that the coaches will work to get McCoy at least 25-30 touches on the week. Just give him a small hole and he’s gone.
Peyton Barber (TB vs. DET): Barber stepped up in a big way for Doug Martin last week, finishing with 143 total yards. If Martin is out again, which seems likely, Barber will once again be the lead back against a Lions team that has been among the worst rushing defenses in the league since losing Haloti Ngata. Detroit has allowed at least 84 total yards and a score to a back in each of the past four weeks. Barber is cheap, and if he gets the start, he’s one of the better value plays of the week.
Giovanni Bernard (CIN vs CHI): This was going to be Theo Riddick, but Joe Mixon’s injury changes things. If Mixon can’t go, Bernard will get all the work he can handle. Expect at least 20-25 touches. At minimum salary, he’s nearly guaranteed to hit value with that kind of work load.
Other players the optimizer likes: Isaiah Crowell (CLE vs. GB); Frank Gore (IND at BUF); Christian McCaffrey (CAR vs. MIN); Rex Burkhead (NE at MIA)
Antonio Brown (PIT vs. BAL): Brown had his worst game this season against the Ravens in Week 4. However, he gets a huge boost this week with the absence of star cornerback Jimmy Smith, who was lost to the season to an Achilles injury. Normally Brown doesn’t need any mention as he’s an every week play, so just use this as a reminder that his top competition is out.
Tyreek Hill (KC vs. OAK): Hill came through in a huge way last week, finishing with two touchdowns and a season-high 185 receiving yards. This week he gets an Oakland defense whose Achilles’ heel is defending the deep pass, which is where Hill excels. Hill exploited this weakness in Week 7 with a 64-yards touchdown reception. He has an excellent chance of doing that again, and he’s one of my favorite tournament plays this week.
Josh Gordon (CLE vs. GB): It’s so great to see Gordon not just back on the field, but thriving. He was the best player on the Browns last week. It was hard to tell he’s been out of the league for an extended period of time. Chargers’ CB Casey Hayward says Gordon was his second toughest matchup all season, with OBJ first. If one of the top corners in the league thinks he’s back, he’s back.
Trent Taylor (SF at HOU): What a difference a QB makes. With Garoppolo now at the helm, Taylor saw his second highest target total of the season last week against the Bears, finishing with season highs in yards and receptions. He gets a better matchup this week against a Houston team that has been consistently one of the worst teams against the pass since JJ Watt and Whitney Mercilus went down in Week 5 against the Chiefs. At or near minimum salary across the industry, he’s a sneaky play with solid upside this week that frees up cap space for high-end players.
Other players the optimizer likes: Larry Fitzgerald (ARI vs TEN); Demaryius Thomas (DEN vs NYJ); Will Fuller V (HOU vs. SF)
Jimmy Graham (SEA at JAX): Kelce and Ertz are perfectly fine plays, but I’m likely going to pivot to Jimmy Graham in some tournaments. Jacksonville’s defense is incredible, but they have struggled on occasion versus tight ends. The matchup will scare a lot of people off, which could leave Graham with low ownership.
Jason Witten (DAL at NYG): This is all about the matchup. The Giants have consistently been one of the worst teams against tight ends all season long, allowing a touchdown to the position in nine games this season. Though they have not allowed one in the past three weeks, they did allow a 100 yard week to Travis Kelce. Witten destroyed the Giants in Week 1 with a 7/59/1 line, and with Zeke Elliott still out, he should be looked to often once again this week in this plus matchup.
Stephen Anderson (HOU vs SF): Anderson busted out last week for a massive 5/79/1 game on a season-high 12 targets. His targets may be down some this week with Will Fuller back, but CJ Fiedorowicz is out for the season, so all of the tight end work will head Anderson’s way. At or near min-salary across all slates, he’s a solid play in a Gronkless week.
Other players the optimizer likes: OJ Howard (TB vs DET); Charles Clay (BUF vs IND); Jack Doyle (IND at BUF)
Greg Zuerlein (LAR vs PHI): Frankly, I’ve given up trying to find kickers on a week to week basis and have simply gone with Zuerlein nearly every week recently. He continues to pay off weekly, with 17 points in five of his past six games. He’s a difference maker at a position that is tough to fill. If you want to pivot, the Pats and Gostkowski should have no problem scoring against Miami this week.
Buffalo Bills (vs. IND): The defense did get gashed a couple of weeks in a row, but they have looked better in the past two games, including a win away in Kansas City. They get a positive matchup this week against the Colts and Jacoby Brissett, who has been sacked more than any other quarterback this season. A few sacks and a turnover or two should be in the cards, no matter how many points they allow. Note: the Colts have allowed five of the past six defenses they’ve faced to score at least 11 fantasy points.
Tampa Bay (vs. DET): This pick assumes that Matt Stafford is out. Stafford is questionable with a bruised throwing hand. If he can’t go, then the Lions will have to start Jake Rudock, who I frankly had to look up. He’s thrown five passes in his career, and has an interception in those throws. I love to stream defenses against inexperienced players, so if Stafford sits, the Bucs are a sneaky add.
Other defenses the optimizer likes:
LINEUPS – First Look
(Note locks in green)