Dec 7, 2017
It’s getting late in the football season, which means that, not only do a lot of season long leagues have their playoffs start this week, but we have several teams that are eliminated from playoff contention in real life as well. This can be a tough situation for fantasy purposes, as older vets may see their roles diminish, or younger guys with nagging ailments may soon be shut down so teams can plan for the future. New opportunities will be available for players that would have been off the radar a month ago, but that’s all part of what makes DFS a game. It’s also why you can’t ignore someone who might have burned you in the past. A short memory can be a great asset for DFS players; it can help you avoid fading guys with great underlying numbers who might not be household names, and can help you avoid chasing guys who broke out for a huge week in an unsustainable way (too soon Julio Jones owners?). No matter what, keep the focus on the numbers and opportunities. With that out of the way, onto the Week 14 targets.
Jimmy Garoppolo, San Francisco 49ers
Garoppolo made his long anticipated debut for the 49ers last week, in a decently tough match up on the road in Chicago against the Bears. And while he didn’t throw his first TD as a starter for his new team, he looked very good and certainly capable of being an above average starter in the league. He had a lot of hype built up from his two game audition last year when he started in place of a suspended Tom Brady and threw for 496 yards and 4 TDs with no INTs in two Patriots wins. In his first game as the starter, he threw for almost 300 yards (293) and one pick, but looked in command for long stretches of game. The pick was more of a great play by the defender than a bad throw by Garoppolo, and the offense as a whole outperformed expectations against the Bears. The Bears only give up an average of 221 yards per game passing and have been very good at creating pressure, with the 7th best sack percentage. Garoppolo didn’t seem fazed, and was able to move well and make good reads. Now, he’ll get the Houston Texans on Sunday, a team giving up an average of 249.9 yards per game, losers of 4 of their last 5, and the team that has given up the most points per game to QBs in DraftKings. The Texans offense has lost WR Bruce Ellington and TE C.J. Federowicz to the IR this week, and will also be without RB Alfred Blue, meaning that the defense could be busy. The Texans already struggle to generate pressure, and could be even harder pressed to get to a QB as mobile in the pocket as Jimmy Garoppolo. For his price, only $5,500, Garoppolo is set up to offer an excellent return, and should continue to see his price rise.
Jermaine Kearse, New York Jets
While Robby Anderson has been grabbing a lot of headlines and attention the last few weeks, Kearse has been just as good and a much better value. In the last two weeks, Kearse has put up lines of 7/105/1 vs Carolina and 9/157 last week vs Kansas City. In those two games, Kearse has also seen 21 targets, good for 29%, almost identical to Robby Anderson’s 31% (the difference is 1 target). During this time, Anderson cost $5700 and $6300, while Kearse was only $4000 and $4300, and now has seen his price rise to $4800. Based on his match up, he will again be worth the his low price, as he faces the Denver Broncos. The Broncos have had trouble with slot receivers this year, where Kearse has set up a lot in those two big games, ranking 32nd in Football Outsiders’ defensive DVOA against Other WRs. The Broncos defense will be without DE Derek Wolfe and DT Domata Peko and DE Adam Gostis are both questionable, but more importantly, the offense continues to look lost. QB Paxton Lynch will not be active, meaning that benching Trevor Siemien will bring in Brock Osweiler, so don’t expect much pressure there. If the Jets can maintain their recent offensive success, it could be a long day for the Denver D, and plays should open up for Kearse.
Sterling Shepard, New York Giants
After a hectic week for the Giants, a sense of calm has been somewhat restored. After the unceremonious benching of franchise legend Eli Manning, and the firing of GM Jerry Reese and head coach Ben McAdoo, the Giants seemed to make the best of the situation. The hiring of defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo as the interim head coach. Spags is as beloved a figure in that locker room as any coach in a long time, and will have the full support of the players. More directly, the return of Eli Manning as the starter will benefit Sterling Shepard. The last three games Shepard’s played he averaged a 6.3/89.3 line on 9.3 targets. He will continue to get targets in an offense that has lost WRs at an alarming rate, and only has one other target that has shown any kind of rapport with Manning, TE Evan Engram. He’ll be facing a Dallas Cowboys defense giving up the third most points per game to WRs in DraftKings, and will be without top CB Orlando Scandrick. Also missing will be DL David Irving, who is second on the team in sacks, and LB Justin Durant. These two teams are very familiar with one another, both the player personnel and coaching staffs. This will be the first time Shepard will be THE guy against the Cowboys, and there shouldn’t be anything stopping him from creating a great return on his $5300 price in DraftKings.
Carlos Hyde, San Francisco 49ers
Hyde has been in an interesting struggle with 49ers team personnel, going all the way back to training camp when there was a lot of posturing going on about his usage and role within new head coach Kyle Shanahan’s offense. As the season rolled on, there was a lot of talk about backup Matt Breida taking work from Hyde, but Hyde has continued to be the best option for the 49ers backfield. Now, he seems to have firmly established himself as the workhorse back that this team needs, averaging just under 21 touches per game in the last 5. On the season, Houston has held up well defensively against opposing RBs, but are coming off giving up 198 yards on the ground to Tennessee, 139 to Baltimore, and 104 to the Rams four weeks ago. There was one good game against a shorthanded Arizona Cardinals team mixed in, but other than that, the lowest YPC number the Texans held an opponent to was 4.2 to Baltimore. Hyde will be the primary ball carrier and has been very good out of the backfield as a receiver as well. Now, he’ll be playing with the best QB of his career, as Jimmy Garoppolo has established in three starts a higher ceiling than anyone else Hyde has played with. Garoppolo’s rising tide should bring with him all other Niners’ skill position boats.
Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys
Witten has been so good for so long, it’s easy to overlook his skill. He has shown signs of slippage the last few years, but has also shown that he is still capable of breaking out with the right conditions. With as hit or miss as the tight end position has been in DFS this year, it’s been better to follow a few matchups over players, and only one team has been more generous to opposing TEs than the New York Giants. It is a trend that Witten started in Week 1 with a 7/59/1 line against them, and should continue. For his career, Witten has by far the more TDs against the Giants than any other team (14 in 29 games) and averages a line of 5.3/53.4. The Cowboys will be without Zeke Elliot and WR Brice Butler and starting tackles Tyron Smith and La’el Collins are all questionable. Any downgrade on the offensive line should make Witten a bigger target as an outlet for QB Dak Prescott. For Witten’s price of $4700, it won’t take much for him to hit value. His average line will already take him to 10+ points, and it wouldn’t take much more beyond that to triple up his price. Roll with the old vet Witten one more time, and free up some salary for bigger plays elsewhere.Back to DFS