Week 12 NFL DFS 2017: 5 Starts and 5 Fades- We are approaching the home stretch of the NFL season. After a wonderful Thanksgiving slate, week 12 presents another interesting puzzle to solve in NFL DFS. The teams who are implied to score the most points this week are New England, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Los Angeles Rams, and Kansas City Chiefs. Typically, you will want to fill your rosters with players from the teams Vegas projects to score the most points. In this article I will try and point you in the right direction on which players to start.
During this article you will often see references to DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average), a metric from Football Outsiders that measures a team or players efficiency by comparing results from every play to a league average based on situation and opponent. For example, if an offense runs for 4 yards on a 3rd and 3, it will be weighted and graded more favorably than if an offense runs for 4 yards on 3rd and 15. DVOA is a better way to compare teams' offenses vs opposing defenses than more traditional stats like yards gained and allowed.
Five Core Plays
Tom Brady ($7700 on Draft Kings, $9100 on Fanduel)
The Patriots are expected to score the most points this week, and if you dig into the matchup it is easy to spot the reasons why. Last week, we recommended Brady because he faced the 32nd-ranked pass defense in the Oakland Raiders. That decision worked out well, as Brady carved up the Raiders defense. This week, the Patriots have yet another juicy matchup against the 31st-ranked pass defense DVOA in the Miami Dolphins. New England enters this game sporting the first-ranked pass offense DVOA in all of football, giving us yet another clear mismatch for Brady. Moreover, Miami allows a ridiculous 68% completion rate to opposing quarterbacks. Brady leads the league in passing yards and is second in touchdowns thrown. Fire up Brady in every format this week.
Kareem Hunt ($8000 on Draft Kings, $7700 on Fanduel)
Hunt is a great play this week for quite a few reasons. The first one that stands out is how much of a value Hunt is on Fanduel. Anytime a player is less expensive on Fanduel than his price on Draft Kings, your “Spidey-senses” have to go off. This is because Draft Kings has a lower salary cap for your roster ($50,000 compared to $60,000 for Fanduel) meaning that if the Fanduel price is lower, that player will have a significantly smaller effect on your salary cap. Secondly, people are down on Hunt from last week’s performance, but the 22 touches do not tell the whole story. The Chiefs lost 40+ yards on Kareem Hunt’s total from holding penalties. Not only does that effect his yards for the day, but it also significantly lowered the Chiefs scoring chances for the week. As for this week, the matchup is pure gold. Buffalo comes in with the 31st-ranked rush defense DVOA, and they are ranked dead last in that category since trading defensive lineman Marcell Dareus. The Chiefs have the fifth-ranked run offense DVOA, and I see another terrific game coming from Hunt.
Todd Gurley ($8500 on Draft Kings, $8800 on Fanduel)
I find myself paying up at quarterback and both running back spots this week. Todd Gurley is in an excellent spot to pay off this high price tag, as he faces the 26th-best rush defense DVOA in the New Orleans Saints. The Rams running back is coming off two tough rush defenses in the Texans and Vikings, but should be able to bounce back in a big way this week. Gurley comes into this game ranking second in red zone carries; I am predicting a double touchdown day. The Saints have some injuries on the defensive side of the ball this week. Gurley should get 24+ touches in this plus matchup.
Brandin Cooks ($7100 on Draft Kings, $7600 on Fanduel)
Cooks checks in as my favorite high-end receiver this week. As I mentioned earlier, the Patriots get to face the 31st-ranked pass defense DVOA. Miami is also 29th in the league defending against a team’s best receiver. During teammate Chris Hogan’s absence, Cooks has averaged ten targets per game. Hogan is expected to miss this game as well. Furthermore, Cooks got two red zone targets last week. If that trend continues, he'll continue to have a high floor to go along with a massive ceiling.
Corey Davis ($4900 on Draft Kings, $5400 on Fanduel)
Davis will be a crucial part of my lineup construction this week, as I will need to save salary to fit my expensive players listed above. There are plenty of reasons to like Davis this week. The most obvious one is that teammate Rishard Matthews will most likely miss this game. Matthews has a bad hamstring and did not participate in practice on Friday. As for Davis, since his return from injury in week nine he has combined for 22 targets. His opponents for those games were Baltimore, Cincinnati, and Pittsburgh. This week, he faces a much softer secondary in the Indianapolis Colts, who rank 27th in pass defense DVOA. Corey Davis is a good fit for Marcus Mariota, who likes to throw the ball down field a bit more than average. I think we can lock in 10+ targets for Corey Davis this week, and I will be using him everywhere.
FIVE PLAYERS TO AVOID
Drew Brees ($6900 on Draft Kings, $7800 on Fanduel)
Hot take alert, as Drew Brees should be very popular this week. However, I do not want any shares of the Saints signal-caller. The Rams have the third-best pass defense DVOA in all of football and I do not think Drew Brees is in a good spot to pay off his price tag. Furthermore, Brees does not perform as well away from his home field in New Orleans. This week, the Saints have to travel across the country to Los Angeles for this contest. I am more likely to use the Saints running backs this week than Brees.
Jordan Howard ($6000 on Draft Kings, $7500 on Fanduel)
Howard is usually in play because of a huge workload. However, when the Bears are trailing, Tarik Cohen and Benny Cunningham get snaps and catches. Moreover, his opponent, Philadelphia, has the fifth-best run defense DVOA in all of football. Correspondingly, the Eagles only allow 48.5 yards per game to running backs, making Howard hands off in daily fantasy this week.
Larry Fitzgerald ($5600 on Draft Kings, $7200 on Fanduel)
Another week of football, another week or avoiding wide outs against the Jacksonville Jaguars defense. The Jaguars boast the #1 pass defense DVOA and arguably the best corner tandem in the league. They also allow the fewest points to opposing wide receivers. I will continue to fade wide outs against Jacksonville, and will not use Fitzgerald this week.
DeAndre Hopkins ($7500 on Draft Kings, $7600 on Fanduel)
Hopkins is always fine for your season-long lineups, but he is yet again priced too high for the matchup in daily fantasy. The Baltimore Ravens have the second-ranked pass defense DVOA, and Tom Savage will be running scared most of the day. Avoid Hopkins this week.
Amari Cooper ($5400 on Draft Kings, $7000 on Fanduel)
The Denver Broncos allow the fourth-fewest points to opposing number one wide receivers, and Derek Carr does not look right. These two teams met in week four, when Cooper had two catches for 9 yards. I do not make a habit of attacking these Denver corner backs, and I will not be using Amari Cooper this week.
Thanks for reading another edition of Starts and Fades. Hopefully these picks can help take you to the top of your daily fantasy contests. As always, check back next week for a quick summary of week 12 and a breakdown of how to attack week 13. Go crush this week!
Written by Kevin Kinder, a Second Nexus Contributor