In this weekly article, we’ll look at the cheaper options that should return good value to your NFL DFS lineups. The bargain threshold varies by site, and position, but generally we’ll aim for our bargain plays to take up about 8-10 percent of your salary cap, except for quarterbacks, which we’ll allow 11-12 percent. A great tool to find bargains is our DFS projection system, which gives a dollar per fantasy point projection for each player. I refer to it often!
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Case Keenum, Cleveland Browns
Does it get more bargain than this? I don’t think so. Keenum is elevated as Baker Mayfield undergoes surgery to repair his shoulder this week. Given how Mayfield looked in his last game of the 2021 season, it really can’t get much worse with Keenum. But we’re not really looking for “not much worse”, so let me outline the reasons I actually think Keenum could be a decent return on investment this weekend. For one, Cincinnati is a fairly good matchup. They’re a team that is winning on offense, not defense. They are not a turnover-hungry team, and they have one sack in the last two games. Second, the Bengals are going to be without Joe Burrow and Joe Mixon, at the least, on offense. Their motivation in this game is pretty limited, because unless Tennessee loses to Houston, they will remain the No. 2 or 3 seed. They won the AFC North, and the Browns will miss the playoffs regardless of the outcome of this game. I think you have to spend up on someone like Josh Allen this weekend in cash games, but Keenum and one of his (three) tight ends makes for a really cheap tournament stack.
Ty Johnson, NY Jets
If Michael Carter doesn’t make it out of concussion protocol, fire up Ty Johnson. As a neuroscientist, I’m always rooting for players to take their time coming back from head injuries and there is absolutely zero upside to rushing Carter back, but you will have to see what the Jets decide to do. Buffalo is playing for seeding this weekend, and has been a bear of a defense when it comes to opponents’ pass games, but they have been beat on the ground. Johnson has that hybrid skill set, and it’s when he can find himself in space that he can make good things happen. He’s coming off a game where he caught four passes, averaged 7.0 YPC and scored after Carter left early on.
Patrick Taylor, Green Bay Packers
Assuming the Packers, who have locked up the NFC No. 1 seed and a bye, rest their starters, familiarize yourself with Taylor. He rushed six times in Week 17, after the game was well out of hand. Since Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon are sort of co-starters, getting similar usage week-to-week, I expect both to be on the rest list. This situation could clarify as the week goes on, but pay attention! Green Bay and whomever its running back is get the Detroit Lions, a fantasy gift for RBs. The Lions give up the third-most fantasy points to the position (fourth-most overall), so although Taylor has done nothing to earn out trust in him, if he gets a shot, he should be able to make something of it.
Marquez Calloway, New Orleans Saints
The Saints are a real long shot to make the playoffs, but they will be playing to win. Motivation for Taysom Hill translates to motivation for his favorite receiver, Calloway. With Hill back at QB, Calloway saw 10 targets and nearly reached 100 receiving yards. New Orleans gets a very easy matchup with the Falcons, who despite intercepting Allen three times last week, are not a threatening defense. They give up the sixth-most fantasy points to receivers and fourth-most points per game. Calloway scored in the first meeting between these teams, back in Week 9.
Cole Beasley, Buffalo Bills
The Bills love Beasley, and particularly in PPR formats, fantasy players should too. He’s the master of short pickups, often for first downs. In what should be a high scoring game for Buffalo, he’s the cheap way to get exposure to this offense. A bit pricey on Yahoo ($18), he’s only $4800 on DK and $5500 on FD.
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Zach Ertz, Arizona Cardinals
Hands down, my favorite TE play of the week, and he’s cheap! That doesn’t happen too often. The Cardinals are in an important game with the Seahawks, who have nothing to play for. If Arizona wins and the Rams lose, they win the division. Otherwise, they’ll be a wild card. Seattle is a great matchup for running backs, but also for TE. Ertz has been a target hog, averaging 10 targets per game in the last four Arizona games. The fact that he hasn’t scored is keeping his salary low, but that is something that can change in a hurry in the right game. I think this is the right game for Ertz to dominate.
Also consider: Cameron Brate, Cleveland TE? (Austin Hooper, Harrison Bryant or David Njoku – one might go off, but it’s impossible to predict whom Case Keenum will favor unless we get some clarity from the week’s practice reports)
Miami Dolphins vs. New England
The Dolphins have had some outstanding fantasy games this season – over 20 fantasy points vs. Carolina and New Orleans, and over 10 vs. Las Vegas, Baltimore and Houston. They scored nine in two other games recently, the Jets and Giants. They beat the Patriots in Week 1, and although the Pats aren’t as bad offensively as some of the teams I just mentioned, they have as many 15-ish point games as 30-plus point games. The Dolphins are a super-cheap play that’s a lot risk/reward so be sure you’re truly upgrading another position before going all in on them.
Also consider: Cleveland Browns (Yahoo especially), Arizona Cardinals