The Hail Mary (NFL HuLo GPP Plays): Week 14 FIRST LOOK
December 5, 2017 | Doug Shain
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The Huddle – Opening Statement
Welcome to the Hail Mary for Week 14. For those of you who read this article last year or any of my stuff on The Fake Hockey and The Fake Baseball you’re going to find this article very familiar. For those of you who are new please allow me to take a moment to explain where I’m coming from and what you’re going to see in this article.
First and foremost I’m mostly a GPP player and that’s who this article is mostly designed to help. I write for players like me – the guy or gal who enters a single bullet in a couple of low limit GPP’s each week; the casual DFS player. This group of players probably makes up a much larger percentage of the DFS community than you think. If you are a cash game player or a high buy-in/high volume/multi-entry GPP player you should still read this because it’ll give you an everyman perspective that you might not get in other articles (there are plenty of those on this site and I urge you to read them as well because they are fantastic).
Be advised that playing a single bullet in a large field GPP is a very volatile game and you’re going to lose more often than you win. That’s a fact and it’s something you have to know before you start playing. Due to the volatility of this game I’m going to try to give you plays that can help you zoom to the top of your GPP leaderboard. These plays are very boom or bust, so please know that going in.
One way that I like to separate from the field is by trying to anticipate ownership rates of certain players. Over the course of the year I’ll get into this more deeply, but just know for now that all things being equal (and even in some cases when it’s not), I’m going to recommend the player that’s going to have a lower ownership rate.
I have some musts when building a GPP lineup. They include:
– It is a must that I get a QB that is going to throw a lot when building my GPP teams.
– It is a must that I get RB that are guaranteed touches when building my GPP teams.
– It is a must that my WR have upside when building my GPP teams.
– When building my GPP teams it is a must that my TE is elite or is a punt. There is no in between for me with TE.
– When building my GPP teams it is a must that my defense gets to the quarterback.
– It is a must that I take a min-priced kicker when building my GPP teams.
– It is a must that I include at least some HuLo plays when building my GPP teams.
– It is a must that I remember that chalk is chalk for a reason, and that using chalk isn’t a bad thing.
– It is a must that I remember that bad players and bad players even in good matchups.
You know what, I kind of like holding off on the charts until the weekend. I think they are a lot more accurate that way. Let’s stick with that for now and see how it works out going forward. Enjoy the previews and I’ll be back on Saturday with my Tier plays.
Indianapolis Colts at Buffalo Bills
IND: I so badly want this to be the week that we see Marlon Mack finally break out. Now that Frank Gore has moved up to fifth on the all time NFL rushing list, there’s really no reason not to give Mack the last four games so the Colts will know what they have heading into the 2018 NFL Draft. Even if we don’t get word heading into Sunday about Mack’s planned usage, I would still be willing to take a flier on him given how bad the Bills are at stopping the run. Even for a bad team like the Colts, there is enough productivity for two backs to thrive against the Bills. I can see Mack being a Tier 3 play with room to grow if some of the uncertainty is cleared up prior to the weekend. Jack Doyle should be ok as a mid-range TE play but he’s more of a cash game guy than a GPP player in my mind. I find it hard to believe that I can’t find a better value elsewhere on this slate. This may be the last great matchup for TY Hilton all year, but just know that if you do roster him you are either going to get a big play or nothing; there’s not a 5-70-0 game in your future with him. The Colts defense is mighty interesting if we are going to see Nate Peterman once again get handed the reigns to this offense, although I can’t imagine he’ll be as bad as he was in Los Angeles a few weeks ago.
BUF: Peterman being under center is going to pull me off this team in a big way. I’m no longer remotely interested in Zay Jones or Charles Clay in a spot where I would normally be loving them. I’m not putting any trust in Nate the not so Great. The rushing matchup is pretty good for LeSean McCoy, but if IND can stack 8 or 9 in the box then it still may not be worth using Shady. Right now he’s a guy I’m avoiding but I may warm to him as the week goes on. Let’s not forget that he was very productive in the blowout that Peterman started against the Chargers, so there’s precedent for him to do well this weekend in a better matchup.
Minnesota Vikings at Carolina Panthers
MIN: It’s so easy to just say “lay off the Vikings” on the road this weekend but they seem to come through every weekend. Case Keenum is playing like an MVP candidate and he’s got a ton of weapons to play with. He’s not high on my list of QB’s this weekend but he does make for an interesting enough contrarian play that I won’t completely dismiss him. Adam Thielen is the WR of choice for me as I’m kind of tired of Stefon Diggs disappointing me in good starts. Thielen rarely does this and he’s got a big play in him now and again as well. The player I’m probably most interested in for the Vikings is Kyle Rudolph. He has now gone eight straight weeks with either 5 receptions or a TD (and many weeks with both). Good matchup or not, that level of production has to be kept in mind in a week where we have no Gronk on the slate. If I were to choose one RB from this team it’d be Latavius Murray but for the most part I’ll pass on both guys.
CAR: I’m done with Cam Newton. I know he was ok in Week 13 but he looks so bad and I don’t see the upside with a total lack of big play weapons. Devin Funchess had thrived as the WR1 so I’m good to go with him but outside of that it’s tough to trust these guys against a solid Vikings defense. There’s no way I’m using Greg Olsen again until he gets through a full game and Christian McCaffrey doesn’t do enough in the run game for me to pay up for him unless the matchup is elite (which it’s not). I’m probably going to sit this game out for the most part.
Chicago Bears at Cincinnati Bengals
CHI: Why? Jordan Howard has been terrible since the bye, there’s nothing coming out of this passing game worth using (don’t tell me about Dontrelle Inman, he’s not an WR1 and Cincy can defend the pass), and there are no real matchups to exploit. Maybe I’d consider the defense but even that’s a tough ask in a road game against a team with weapons like AJ Green and Joe Mixon. I’m passing.
CIN: Andy Dalton has burned us all but he’s been not terrible over the last month or so. Heading into Monday night he has thrown for 7 TD over his last three games; a modest number but still productive given his price. Stack him with AJ Green and you’ve got a formidable duo that can score in a hurry. I don’t love the matchup but you could do worse as a contrarian stack. Joe Mixon continues to be a workhorse and although I question his consistency, you can’t question his volume. The most interesting play for the Bengals may very well be the defense going up against Mitchell Trubisky and company. Cincy can get in the backfield and they have a pretty decent secondary. I don’t see a lot of points in this game in general so even if I have some exposure, it won’t be a lot; think 5% Green, 5% Mixon, 10% DST (at most).
Green Bay Packers at Cleveland Browns
GB: Cleveland is a little stingy against the run but I love the volume that Jamaal Williams is getting. I got cold feet a little bit last weekend when Aaron Jones was active for the game but that ended up being foolish. Jones saw the field for only two touches and it was clear who the man is in that backfield. I foresee another 20+ carry, 4+ reception game for Williams at a very reasonable price. I’ve soured a lot on Brett Hundley after his poor performance against the Buccaneers and I don’t know if I can come around on him quickly enough to get me to use him in this good matchup. The Browns struggle against the pass but Hundley struggles TO pass. I think I’d rather look to Davante Adams since his ownership should be low after he was a total bust in Week 13 as a chalk play.
CLE: Josh Gordon is about to take on the hot garbage Packers secondary. This is not a drill. Gordon looked electric in Week 13 and the hype train is about to get out of control. I don’t know if he can live all the way up to his heightened expectations but that probably won’t keep me from using him here and there. He’s going to be heavy chalk at WR and the smart play is probably to fade but he’s too darn exciting to do that; and we know that he’s capable of burning you if you bench him. The smarter DFS play may end up being Duke Johnson or Corey Coleman. Both guys looked bad in Week 13 but both also benefit from the same great matchup that Gordon has. I bet that neither of them come in at more than 10% ownership, while both should pay off their price tags. Could I possibly be fading Gordon to use other Browns players? It feels like I’d be cheating on Gordon but I happen to like winning money and I feel like a play on Coleman and/or Duke is “doing DFS right”. We will have to let this one marinate for a few days before we make our final decision. Is it possible that the Browns defense, at home against a struggling Brett Hundley, is a good play this weekend? The defense whisperer is considering it. Stay tuned until Saturday to see if they make the cut into one of the “My Guys” tiers.
San Francisco 49ers at Houston Texans
SF: I literally had to look around before I typed this because I’m afraid people might judge me for it, but I think I really like the 49ers passing game this weekend. Houston struggles to stop anyone and Jimmy Garoppolo sure looked good in Week 13. I don’t know if it was the epic performance that everyone is making it out to be (292 yards, 83 QB rating, 0 TD…this is world beating??) but there were signs of promise for sure. The best part about Garoppolo’s game was that he was a perfect 14 for 14 when targeting Trent Taylor and Marquise Goodwin; and that was in a tough matchup against a strong Bears secondary. Houston is much softer and I expect the connection to stay strong between Jimmy G and his WR. I like Goodwin if I’m going for a long shot and Taylor if I want a Wes Welker type performance (7-88-0 type of game). Taylor in a PPR sure sounds good. I also will take a look at George Kittle and he was a toe tap away from a TD this past weekend. The one player I won’t use is Carlos Hyde. The Matt Brieda train is in the station and it’s just waiting for departure instructions. At some point that kid is going to get a 15 touch game and I don’t want any part of Hyde when it happens.
HOU: As bad as Houston is on defense, the 49ers are just as bad (if not worse). Tom Savage is going to throw a ton and we saw in Week 13 that he’s capable of putting together a 300 yard game when given a good matchup. Most of that strong performance came when throwing to DeAndre Hopkins, a guy who is now matchup-proof and a PPR monster (even with Savage throwing him the ball). I expect the tandem to hook up for another strong game this weekend. Lamar Miller is also in play as the 49ers are giving up over 120 rushing yards per game this year; not to mention that Miller catches passes as well as gets the goal line runs. He is not a name people love so I expect ownership to be very reasonable. Look to Braxton Miller and Andre Ellington (love me some AE) as potential fliers if Bruce Ellington is unable to play; Andre was on the field for about 70% of the snapes in Week 13, mostly as a WR. That’s huge in a PPR for his price.
Oakland Raiders at Kansas City Chiefs
OAK: This would seem like a pretty good matchup for the Raiders. Kansas City has had trouble stopping the pass and with Amari Cooper probably returning for Oakland for this game, I think that we are going to see a lot of passing from Derek Carr. Cooper is clearly the WR you want in this game but that doesn’t mean that you can’t get some value out of Carr’s other weapons as well. Seth Roberts saw 6 targets in Week 13, while Cordarelle Patterson had almost 100 yards (and nearly broke a monster TD). If you are playing in a PPR (like DK) and want a nice floor then Roberts is your guy. If you’re playing on FD then maybe you want to look to CPatt as a punt play with a ton of upside. Either way, I’m interested to see how “Old School” Tyreek Hill fares against “New School” Tyreek Hill. Marshawn Lynch is always an interesting play at his price point, especially right now as he’s riding a hot streak that’s seen him score more than 20 fantasy points in three of his last four games. He’s not a top end play but he’s in the discussion in the mid-tier.
KC: Remember a few weeks ago when the Patriots played the Raiders and everyone lost their heads because Brandin Cooks was going to get to go up against the worst deep pass defense in the league? Tyreek Hill is Brandin Cooks with even more speed. I normally chastise anyone who uses Tyreek Hill because he’s a long ball, gimmick player but this matchup actually favors that. The only real issue I have here is that Hill went bananas in Week 13 so his ownership is going to be sky high. I’m not sure I care; I think he has to be in your lineup this weekend. The matchup is what million dollar dreams are made of. If I’m going to believe in Tyreek Hill, then I think I have to do the same with Alex Smith. He may not have looked like a winning NFL QB in Week 13 but he sure was able to get the ball down the field for a monster fantasy day. There’s enough value out there that you should be able to stack Smith and Hill with relative ease this weekend. If you wanted to fade the chalk, then maybe Travis Kelce is a guy to consider as he can get down the field better than the average TE, and maybe it’ll be him that takes advantage of Oakland’s garbage secondary. As for Kareem Hunt, no way. I’m out on him.
Detroit Lions at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
DET: At the end of the Ravens game in Week 13, Matthew Stafford appeared to break his hand. Tests were done and it, thankfully, it doesn’t look like that ended up being the case. Stafford played with a broken finger in his throwing hand last year so I have no doubt that he will push to play this weekend. If he does, wow, he has a great matchup. The Buccaneers are awful against the pass (don’t read too much into their Week 13 performance against a terrible Brett Hundley) and I’d love to be able to take advantage of that with Stafford, Marvin Jones, and maybe Golden Tate. My main focus in this matchup is going to be Jones. He’s been lights out with six strong performances over his last seven games. He’s the clear WR1 on Detroit and I’ll be shocked if he doesn’t see 10+ targets, plenty of end zone looks, and have a shot at over 100 yards receiving. He’s probably in my top 3 WR plays for Week 13; a Tier 1 guy for sure (if Stafford plays). I’m not too enthusiastic about the Lions running game, on the other hand. Tion Green looked ok against the Ravens but I’m not sure if I want to put my trust in him this week. I suppose if Ameer Abdullah were out again I’d have to think about it because the Bucs are even worse against the run than they are against the pass. As a matter of fact, if Stafford were to miss the game and DET was to have to rely on the running game more I might actually be interested in Green. I’m going to have to see how things play out in practice this week before I commit to anyone past Jones.
TB: While the Buccaneers are bad at defending the run, the Lions may be even worse. They’ve given up 165 yards per game on the ground over the last month. I would love to see Peyton Barber get another start for Tampa Bay this weekend to take advantage of that. Not only did Barber see a ton of work in Week 13, he was productive with over 100 yards rushing and 4 receptions. He is priced very well this weekend and I feel similar to him in this weekend as I did to Jamaal Williams and Alex Collins last weekend; and look how those guys worked out. I don’t really want to look too much at the passing game for TB because I don’t think Winston is quite right yet. Mike Evans and Desean Jackson have been the most disappointing WR duo in the league this year and I can’t lose more money with them this weekend. The only guy I’d even consider is Cameron Brate who is back from the dead now that Winston is the QB again. Those two have a special connection and it’s Brate that Jameis looks for when he’s in the red zone. The Lions are quite generous to the TE position so it’s not a big reach to grab Brate as your starter in Week 14.
Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants
DAL: It’s really hard to like Dallas right now but I think I can get behind a few of their players. The top name on my list from Dallas is Jason Witten. Not only are the Giants awful against the TE but Jason Witten murders the Giants. He averaged 5-53-0.5 against the Giants in the 29 games he’s played against them. Some of the biggest games of his career have come against New York. I see no reason why he can’t have one more great game against the G-men this week. He will almost assuredly be one of “My Guys” this weekend, probably settling in around a Tier 2 play. The other player on Dallas that interests me is Alfred Morris. He had a monster game in Week 13 and the Giants are terrible against the run. I don’t see a need for Rod Smith to eat too much into Alf’s workload so I consider Morris to be a pretty safe play. I’m not really in love with Dak and Dez so I’m going to fade them.
NYG: Good riddance, Ben McAdoo. I don’t think his departure does much for this offense. You want Evan Engram, you kind of want Sterling Shepard, and you don’t want anyone else. I suppose you could get cute and use Eli Manning but who knows what the benching did to his psyche. I know he loves playing the Cowboys but I just don’t have faith in this offense to produce enough to make Manning relevant.
Tennessee Titans at Arizona Cardinals
TEN: I don’t want anyone on the Titans this weekend. Mariota doesn’t do enough to warrant consideration, we don’t know which RB is going to carry the load (and even if we did the Cardinals aren’t terrible against the run), and none of the WR move the needle for me. I suppose we could get some run out of Delanie Walker but I’ll probably just pass and look elsewhere.
ARI: Here’s how much I like this matchup for Arizona – I’m considering Gabbert over Wilson or Cam in my season long playoffs this weekend (I don’t do it, but I at least thought about it). The Titans can’t stop WR, they can’t stop TE, and they give up good games to QB on the regular. I know that Blaine Gabbert isn’t great but look at what he did the last time he had a matchup like this; he threw for 3 TD against the Texans. I don’t see why he can’t mimic that performance at home in a similar matchup. Arizona has the weapons and Gabbert has the arm to make this work. He’s not a Tier 1 play for me (yet) but he will get consideration for some of my secondary teams. I love Larry Fitzgerald as Gabbert’s main target, but I’m also not sleeping on Ricky Seals-Jones and JJ Nelson as upside plays at decent prices (Seals-Jones more so than Nelson). Whether Adrian Peterson returns for this game or not, I’m not really interested in the Arizona running game. I do have some interest in the Cardinals defense; something doesn’t sit right for me with this Titans offense.
New York Jets at Denver Broncos
NYJ: Sometimes we have to take reputation and throw it out the window; looking instead at actual numbers. The Denver Broncos defense is awful right now. I don’t care that they are the “No Fly Zone” or that last year we saw one of the greatest pass defenses in NFL history. That’s not who this team is at the moment. Jay Cutler just roasted them and now they get the high flying Jets offense led by Josh McCown, Robby Anderson, and Jermaine Kearse. Despite his TD streak ending at 5 games, I’d still say that Robby Anderson came through for you last week with a 100 yard game; nothing to be upset about. New York is playing better than Denver and I think they go into Progressive Field (is that what’s it’s called these days) and continue to throw all over the Aqib Talib-less Broncos defense. Reputation is going to keep the New York offense’s ownership lower than it should be and I think we need to take advantage of that. They aren’t Tier 1 plays but McCown, Anderson, and ASJ are firmly in the second tier while Jermaine Kearse is a cheaper play that you can throw in if you want to save some money.
DEN: Hard pass on the entire Denver offense. Get a QB and then we will talk….so I guess I’ll see these guys in 2018 at the earliest.
Washington Redskins at Los Angeles Chargers
WSH: There is precisely one player on Washington that interests me and that’s Samaje Perine. LAC is really good at pressuring the QB and focing turnovers but they are really bad at defending the run. If the Skins have any chance in this game it’s on the back of their workhorse RB. We’ve seen Perine’s upside as a 100 yard, 1 TD, 3 receptions kind of guy and that’s what I’m expecting if I put him into my lineup this weekend. I’ll avoid the rest of the Redskins until they figure out what they are doing on offense.
LAC: We’ve got another really good matchup for Philip Rivers and company. Once again I expect Rivers to air it out 40+ times and approach 300 yards passing. He’s incredibly pricey but few QB’s have paid off as well as he has over the last month or so. His connection with Keenan Allen is outstanding and, even with a matchup against Josh Norman, I expect another 10+ targets and the potential for a big game. Opposite Allen, I think there’s something to be said for both Travis Benjamin and Tyrell Williams but the guy who will benefit the most if Norman does end up shutting down Allen could very well be Hunter Henry. Over his last two games he’s averaging about 6 receptions and 80 yards so clearly he has the eye of his QB. Henry isn’t too pricey either so it’s not like you’re going to have to sacrifice elsewhere to get him into your lineup. I have a little bit of interest in Melvin Gordon after Alfred Morris just ran all over this defense but it appears that the Chargers are more than happy to just wing it down the field all game. As always, I love the Chargers defense in this game as well. They pressure the QB as well as anyone and their secondary is so hard to beat. They’re an expensive group but I don’t think they’ll be that widely owned so I’m ok with paying for a little bit of ownership relief.
Seattle Seahawks at Jacksonville Jaguars
SEA: You’re going to think I’m nuts but Russell Wilson is a great contrarian play this weekend. No, he’s not going to throw for 350 yards and 4 TD but he is going to have to run for his life against this Jags defense and that rushing yardage should give his score a really nice bump. Nobody in their right mind is going to play Wilson this weekend so if he can get you 200 yards passing, 75 yards rushing, and 3 combined TD’s (a tall order, for sure), you’re going to be in a really good place having used him. I don’t love his weapons, although Jimmy Graham continues to be a red zone beast and I can make a case that he’s about as attractive as Wilson in terms of a contrarian play. Mike Davis saw over 70% of the snaps for the Seahawks last weekend, and looked good with the work he had, but Jacksonville is tops in the NFL against the run since their trade for Marcell Dareus. I don’t think I want any part of that.
JAX: This is the part of the slate where I start to get a little bit nuts. I really like Blake Bortles this weekend. Jacksonville has been trending towards the pass recently and Bortles hasn’t looked awful. The Seattle secondary is decimated by injury and Marqise Lee and Dede Westbrook look like a quality receiving tandem. None of the three guys are Tier 1 plays but they will all get a look in the Tier 3 area (particularly Bortles). I could make a case for Leonard Fournette but I don’t trust Doug Moron (he totally besmirches the good Doug name) to get him enough work against an already strong Seattle rush defense. There’s always a case to use the Jags defense but this week I am in fade mode since I think Wilson will do enough damage, and not make enough mistakes, for the Jags to pay off sufficiently. A game of 5 sacks, 0 turnovers, and 24 points allowed just isn’t going to cut it at their price point.
Philadelphia Eagles at Los Angeles Rams
PHI: I don’t know how I feel about this matchup. The Rams are really bad against the run but there is no back on Philly that I like enough to feel comfortable using. I’d like to say that Jay Ajayi is the guy to own but then we could just as easily see LeGarette Bount come out and get 15+ carries. Heck, even Corey Clement is in the mix. He’s sure fresh enough after only see a handful of snaps in Week 13. It’s a shame, too, because if any of these guys were locks for 50% of the snaps or more than 15 touches I’d be all over them. As much as I love Carson Wentz I don’t think he’s going to be a play for me in Week 14. The Rams have been stingy at home and he’s just too expensive to take a shot on. I’d rather spend down to a guy like Garoppolo or Gabbert and load up elsewhere or just pay up for Alex Smith and call it a day (lord knows how I’m going to decide between Wentz and Rivers in my season long league where I’ve started the wrong QB just about every week). At least in DFS I know I can just fade the Eagles passing game. Normally I’m all about the Eagles defense but I just can’t get there this weekend against one of the three highest scoring teams in the league.
LAR: Despite my lack of enthusiasm for the Eagles defense, I’m not really in love with the Rams either. Sure, Goff could pop for a big game but I think this game ends up similarly to last weekend against the Cardinals; a workmanlike effort but nothing spectacular. Cooper Kupp is probably safe for 10+ targets and some red zone looks (he is top 5 in the league in that category), but thus for those red zone looks haven’t turned into big TD games. I’m not sure if that’s going to come this weekend either, but I don’t mind paying to find out given his relatively high floor. Todd Gurley is the one guy I’m very comfortable playing since he’s never really out of the game given his usage. He’s kind of like the west coast’s version of LeVeon Bell; a ton of carries and enough receptions to never be a bust. He’s not like to be one of “My Guys” but I also can’t fault you for using him.
Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers
BAL: Are we far enough away from his departure that we can avoid the Mike Wallace revenge game narrative? No? Fine, Mike Wallace is in play as a pure hail mary call this weekend. He’s been effective deep this year but not someone I’d hang my hat on. He’s a guy I’d rather use in a Primetime slate more so than a Main slate play. The only Raven I like at all is Alex Collins, although his headache issues do worry me. We’ve seen them keep players out for extended periods of time, and as someone who suffers from headaches myself I can totally see a scenario where Collins sits this weekend out. If that’s the case then maybe we get some love for Danny Woodhead, who has been nonexistent since his return to the team. I need more time before I decide which RB I want to target this weekend.
PIT: With Jimmy Smith out for the year the Steelers passing game just got a lot more interesting for Week 14. I don’t love Ben Roethlisberger but it’s hard to ever fade Antonio Brown. I’m not a fan of using him in the main slate but he’s a shorter slate play that I think you have to have in your lineup. If I wanted to take a chance on a guy then I’d look to Martavis Bryant with JuJu Smith-Schuster suspended for this game. LeVeon Bell is always in play, just like Brown, and he’s a guy I’d definitely pay up for if I felt confident in my ability to find value elsewhere.
Your feedback is always welcome. If there’s a player you don’t see or would like to talk more about, you can find me on Twitter @bankster17. I’m around all the time for questions, advice, and comments. I answer every single person that sends me a Tweet.