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Fantasy Football Value Picks: Top DraftKings NFL DFS Bargain Plays for Week 14

Zach Thompson goes position-by-position to find the best affordable plays for the Week 14 main DraftKings NFL slate, which locks at 1:00 p.m. ET on December 13.

Whether you’re in your season long fantasy football playoffs this week or not, DraftKings is ready for another great slate of Sunday football with 13 games currently scheduled to be on the main slate. We’re past bye weeks, so the only six teams not in action on this slate are the Pittsburgh Steelers, Baltimore Ravens, Buffalo Bills, Cleveland Browns, Los Angeles Rams and New England Patriots, who are playing on Thursday Night Football, Sunday Night Football and Monday Night Football. The other 26 teams play in the 13 games on the main slate with five games in the late wave after eight games kick off at 1:00 p.m. ET.

The early matchups to watch include the return of Andy Dalton ($5,500) to Cincinnati as he leads the Dallas Cowboys against the Cincinnati Bengals. The Kansas City Chiefs are back on the main slate after a couple weeks in primetime, and they’ll travel to Florida to take on the Miami Dolphins, who will try to show they’re ready for a playoff run. The New York Giants are also trying to prove they are really playoff contenders, and they’ll get a chance to pick up a big win as they host the Arizona Cardinals. In another important game with NFC playoff implications, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers return from their bye week, as they host the Minnesota Vikings. In the later wave of games, the Green Bay Packers visit the Detroit Lions in one of just two divisional matchups on the slate. The Las Vegas Raiders host the Indianapolis Colts in an important AFC matchup, and Jalen Hurts ($5,100) will make his first NFL start when the Philadelphia Eagles host the New Orleans Saints.

As you look through all the matchups and set your DraftKings roster, make sure to take a look at the affordable plays listed below that come with some great upside at a very affordable salary. Each week, I dive into the bargain bin and give you my favorite cheap plays based on recent form, matchup and expected opportunity. Check out the plays I like the most this Sunday.

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QUARTERBACK

($6,000 and under)

Philip Rivers, Indianapolis Colts at Las Vegas Raiders, $5,900 – The Colts barely avoided a two-game losing streak as they held on against the Texans last week, but Rivers had one of his most efficient games of the season, completing 27-of-35 passes for 285 yards, two touchdowns and 19.2 DKFP. He averaged 8.14 yards per attempt in that game, which was his highest mark since Week 6 against the Bengals.

Rivers has multiple touchdown passes in three straight games and over 18 DKFP in four straight and six of his past seven. The Raiders have given up multiple passing touchdowns in three straight games and in seven of their past nine. The Colts have scored over 25 points in six of their past seven games, so the offense has been playing at a high level and will look to keep rolling in their trip to Vegas. They have also been protecting Rivers well, and the 39-year-old QB has only been pressured on 14.8% of dropbacks, the fourth-lowest mark in the NFL this season.

Sam Darnold, New York Jets at Seattle Seahawks, $5,100 – Darnold and the Jets almost pulled out the win last week against the Raiders, and the third-year QB had one of his best games of the year with 23.04 DKFP. He threw for 186 yards and two touchdowns and ran for a third score. He did have three turnovers and wasn’t able to help his team burn the clock at the end, but it was still a very solid fantasy day for such a cheap option. He helped the Jets match their highest point total of the season with 28 points, but the loss kept the Jets with the worst record in the NFL and on track to draft Darnold’s replacement.

While coach Adam Gase has taken public blame for not developing Darnold and even admitted that himself last week, Darnold has shown flashes of potential which will make him an interesting piece if he moves to another team this offseason. He gets a good matchup against the Seahawks this week, who have given up the second-most DKFP to QBs this season. Seattle just lost last week to Colt McCoy ($5,000) and gave up multiple touchdowns in six of their previous seven contests. Darnold actually has a solid group of WRs in Jamison Crowder ($5,400), Denzel Mims ($4,100) and Breshad Perriman ($3,900) now that they’re all healthy, and he seems to be fully recovered from his own shoulder injury. Even though I like the Seahawks’ DST ($3,000) and think the Jets won’t be able to pull the upset in Seattle, I do think Darnold will be able to put together a solid stat line and be worth his bargain basement salary.

Other Options: Matt Ryan ($5,700), Daniel Jones ($5,500)


RUNNING BACK

($5,000 and under)

J.D. McKissic, Washington Football Team at San Francisco 49ers, $4,900 – McKissic has become a favorite for Alex Smith ($5,200), who is well-known for his propensity to check down to shorter targets. McKissic hauled in all 10 of his targets on Monday against the Steelers and totaled 70 receiving yards on his way to 17.8 DKFP even without a touchdown. He has over 17 DKFP in three of his past five games and double-digit DKFP in six of his past nine. His regular involvement as a receiver out of the backfield makes him worth a look any week he’s under $5K.

Even more important to his future value than his big game on Monday, though, may have been the injury sustained by Washington’s other RB, Antonio Gibson ($6,700). Gibson left with a toe injury after just two carries and appeared to be in significant pain on the sidelines. If Gibson is out this week against San Francisco, McKissic will be in line for even more snaps and get more chances to make an impact as either rusher or receiver. He will likely continue to lose work to Peyton Barber ($4,400) at the goal line, but he did outsnap Barber significantly with a 74%-to-33% advantage. If Gibson is out, McKissic is definitely worth a look but even if Gibson is able to play, McKissic’s volume makes him a viable value option. In Week 10, the 49ers gave up a 7-83-1 line to Alvin Kamara ($7,100), so they can be vulnerable to RBs catching passes out of the backfield.

Phillip Lindsay, Denver Broncos at Carolina Panthers, $4,300 – Lindsay didn’t look like he was fully healthy last week against the Chiefs, but he still got 14 carries, which he turned into just 26 yards. He is sharing the backfield with Melvin Gordon III ($5,200), who had a big game but about the same number of touches as Lindsay in last week’s matchup.

Both backs make solid plays this week against the Panthers, who have struggled badly against the run, allowing the fifth-most DKFP to RB this season and giving up 12 RB touchdowns in 12 games. If Lindsay gets in more practice work this week and his knee gets back to 100%, he’ll have great upside against the Panthers since he reliably gets good volume in the Broncos’ offense.

Other Options: Ty Johnson ($4,700), Jeff Wilson Jr. ($4,000)


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WIDE RECEIVER

($5,000 and under)

Keke Coutee, Houston Texans at Chicago Bears, $5,000 – Coutee is in my values for the second straight week even though his salary has jumped from last week’s $3,500 all the way to $5K for this matchup with the Bears. He broke out with a monster game against the Colts, catching 8-of-9 targets for a career-high 141 receiving yards. His 25.1 DKFP came without the benefit of a touchdown even though he did get a red zone look that resulted in an incomplete pass.

Coutee showed off a nice connection with Deshaun Watson ($7,600) and led the team with nine targets in the first game Houston played without Will Fuller V due to suspension. With Randall Cobb (toe) still on IR, Coutee should be very busy again this week and has a nice ceiling against the Bears, who have given up multiple WR touchdowns in three straight weeks.

Tim Patrick, Denver Broncos at Carolina Panthers, $4,200 – I think we can just throw out Patrick’s no-show in Week 12 against the Saints when the Broncos literally didn’t have a QB. Other than that catchless performance, Patrick has at least four catches in four straight games and has averaged 15.8 DKFP over that stretch.

On Sunday Night Football against the Chiefs, Patrick caught all four of his targets for 44 yards and a pair of touchdowns, bringing him to seven scores on the season. He leads all Broncos WRs with eight red zone looks this season and has made the most of his chance to step up with Courtland Sutton (knee) out for the year. The Broncos’ offense is still very much a work in progress under Drew Lock ($5,100), but Patrick has shown he can be a legit WR option and is very affordable at barely over $4K. He gets a good matchup this week with the Panthers, who got last week off after giving up 21 catches and three touchdowns to Vikings’ WRs in their most recent game.

Michael Gallup, Dallas Cowboys at Cincinnati Bengals, $3,800 – The Cowboys’ Tuesday night game was played after salaries were set, so Gallup is a little discounted since his 21.6-DKFP showing against Baltimore isn’t considered in this salary. The most encouraging sign that he is set to continue to perform is that he led the team with 11 targets from Dalton. He hauled in seven for 86 yards and a touchdown, but he appears to have passed Amari Cooper ($6,500) as Dalton’s go-to WR. Gallup has averaged a very healthy 8.6 targets per contest over his past five games with double-digit DKFP in three of those contests.

The Cowboys and Gallup will try to help Dalton exact revenge on the Bengals on Sunday, and it’s a good matchup for Gallup in particular to continue his surge. The Bengals’ secondary hasn’t been their biggest issue the past few weeks, but they have been giving up plenty of catches and points to opposing WRs. Since Gallup is under $4K, he makes a great play with a high ceiling.

Collin Johnson, Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Tennessee Titans, $3,600 — Another player stepping up is Jaguars WR Collin Johnson, who has totaled 14 targets over the past two weeks since Mike Glennon ($5,100) took over as Jacksonville’s QB. Johnson has led the team in receiving yards in each of those two contests even though DJ Chark Jr. ($5,300) returned from injury last week against the Vikings. Johnson had four catches, 96 yards, a touchdown and 19.6 DKFP against the Browns in Week 12 and followed that with four catches, 66 yards, a two-point conversion and 12.6 DKFP against the Vikings.

Johnson is a fifth-round rookie out of Texas, who obviously has a solid connection with Glennon. This week the Jags will take on the struggling Titans, who have given up the sixth-most DKFP to WRs this season and were just gouged through the air by Baker Mayfield and the Browns last week. Johnson comes at a great salary and brings very nice upside as a scrub play on the rise this week.

Other Options: Tee Higgins ($4,800), Jalen Reagor ($4,400), Laviska Shenault Jr. ($4,100), Denzel Mims ($4,100), Chad Hansen ($3,900), Quintez Cephus ($3,200), Cam Sims ($3,100)



TIGHT END

($4,000 and under)

Dalton Schultz, Dallas Cowboys at Cincinnati Bengals, $3,500 – Schultz has at least four catches in five straight games for the Cowboys and converted all four of his targets on Tuesday into four catches for 44 yards and 8.4 DKFP. He hasn’t had a huge game or reached over 55 yards receiving since Week 4, but he consistently gets PPR work from Dalton in a Cowboys offense that isn’t afraid to throw the ball a lot.

The Bengals gave up 88 yards and a touchdown to Mike Gesicki ($4,500) last week and 129 yards to Evan Engram ($4,300) the week before that. On the season, they have given up the second-most DKFP to TE, which is second-worst in the NFL behind only the Jets. Schultz’s regular volume makes him a pretty safe play at this price and his matchup gives him a high ceiling.

Cole Kmet, Chicago Bears vs. Houston Texans, $2,900 – As the Bears turn their attention to the future, it looks like they have moved on from veteran TE Jimmy Graham ($3,000) and turned to rookie Kmet as their top TE option in the passing game. Kmet had seven targets last week against the Lions and hauled in five catches for 37 yards, a touchdown and 14.7 DKFP. In contrast, Graham only had one target. Kmet played 70% of snaps as well while Graham only played 58%.

While that is just a one-game sample, it makes sense that Chicago would try to see what Kmet can bring them moving forward instead of trying to draw the last fumes from Graham’s tank. Kmet seems to have a solid connection with Mitchell Trubisky ($5,600) and should keep getting targets this week against the Texans.

Other Options: Will Dissly ($2,900), Jordan Akins ($2,900)


DEFENSE/SPECIAL TEAMS

($2,800 and under)

Washington Football Team DST, Washington Football Team at San Francisco 49ers, $2,800 – Washington’s defense came up huge in their upset win over the Steelers with a key interception and just 17 points allowed to previously-undefeated Pittsburgh. They have forced five turnovers over their past three games while producing eight sacks and averaging exactly 10.0 DKFP per contest. In six of their past seven contests, they have held their opponents under 24 points, and they get a good matchup with the banged-up 49ers this week. San Francisco is in the top-10 in points allowed to opposing DSTs and has at least two turnovers in each of their past six games.

Falcons DST, Atlanta Falcons at Los Angeles Chargers, $2,400 — In my value picks last week, the Patriots’ DST had a huge game against the Chargers in Los Angeles, and I’m back for more of that same matchup this week with the Falcons. Atlanta’s DST has been much better since Raheem Morris took over as interim coach and has averaged 7.9 DKFP per game since he took over, after producing 1.4 DKFP per game in their 0-5 start to the season. The Falcons forced five turnovers and had five sacks two weeks ago against the Raiders on their way to a huge 28.0 DKFP, but they also looked solid last week, allowing just 21 points to the Saints and putting up 4.0 DKFP. They should be in a good spot against the Chargers, who have been awful on special teams and have also shown a propensity to turn the ball over at times with rookie QB Justin Herbert ($6,800).

Other Options: Cowboys DST ($2,400)

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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is Z.Thompson) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.

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