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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Jared Goff, Detroit Lions at Atlanta
This is early in the week, but we’re assuming that Goff will be cleared to play in this game under the new rules. The Lions are coming off an impressive win over Arizona, their second in three weeks! Goff threw three touchdowns with no interceptions against a much better defensive unit than he’ll be facing in Week 16. As bad as the Lions have been, Goff has a 17:8 TD:INT ratio, with nine of those TDs coming in the last four games. He’s relying more on rookie Amon-Ra St. Brown now that T.J. Hockenson is done for the year, and has former teammate Josh Reynolds mixed in nicely. Atlanta ranks as the second-best QB matchup, fourth-best for WRs, so as crazy as it sounds, Goff and St. Brown could make for a nice, cheap pairing this week.
Ronald Jones, Jr., Tampa Bay at Carolina
Leonard Fournette is doubtful, the Bucs have lost Chris Godwin, and Mike Evans might not play this weekend either. It’s Jones’ turn to shine, and as much success as Fournette has had running the ball and in the receiving game this season, it’s not insane to believe Jones could be one of the better value plays this week. He’s very cheap on all three sites: FanDuel ($5400), DraftKings ($5100) and Yahoo ($18). The matchup isn’t great, but the Bucs are big favorites here and with the passing game looking to be in trouble, I think Jones could get the usage he needs to return on the meager investment.
Justin Jackson, LA Chargers at Houston
It may be a little preemptive, but if Austin Ekeler were to miss this game, Jackson would be very close to a must-start. Jackson rushed 13 times for 86 yards and caught his lone target in a tight game that ended up going to overtime vs. Kansas City last week. The matchup vs. Houston is one of the best in the league; they’ve allowed at least 100 rushing yards to everyone except Miami (Week 9) and Jacksonville (Week 1). If healthy, obviously Ekeler himself is a great play, but this situation needs to be monitored in the event of a great bargain option.
Braxton Berrios, NY Jets vs. Jacksonville
Berrios appeared here last week as well, and lived up to expectations, though not in the traditional way. Those expectations don’t change much in this week’s fantasy-friendly matchup and neither has Berrios’ salary. I get that it’s still the Jets and this game features two of the worst offenses in football, but also two of the worst defenses. For this pick, the Jaguars rank seventh in fantasy points allowed to opposing wide receivers, and 10th overall. Berrios now has back-to-back games as the Jets leading receiver, though in one game he saw 10 targets and in the other rushed for a touchdown. At the very least, the team seems committed to getting him the ball and he’s been reliable. That, plus the price and the matchup, make him a viable salary-saver this week.
Tyler Johnson, Tampa Bay at Carolina
Although I said not-so-enthusiastic things about the Bucs pass game earlier, Brady is going to throw the ball. In addition to Rob Gronkowski, Johnson is a likely beneficiary of Godwin’s and perhaps Evans’ absence this week. He saw seven targets last week, and I have to believe he’d be ahead of Antonio Brown at this point in Brown’s unusual season. The Bucs have a high team total, are huge favorites, and contrary to the usual state of things, offer a lot of possible value. It’s a risk/reward play, but at $3900 (DK) $14 (Yahoo) and $5000 (FD), it’s a minor risk.
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Cole Kmet, Chicago Bears at Seattle
I’m rooting for Kmet to get his first score this weekend. His usage is up, hopefully his trust with Justin Fields is up, and although Seattle has emerged as one of the more stout defenses in the second half of the season, they have a weak spot to opposing tight ends, allowing the fifth-most fantasy points to the position. As I said in Starting Points, it will be hard to fade Mark Andrews this weekend, and I also am a fan of a cheap Jared Cook, but will have some Kmet exposure in GPP lineups.
Also consider: James O’Shaughnessy, Jared Cook
Denver Broncos at Las Vegas
The Broncos are in a game with a 42-point over/under, one of the lowest on the slate. They’re home, and in general have allowed the third-fewest points per game despite playing in one of the higher scoring divisions. Pairing a cheap Denver D with Melvin Gordon or Javonte Williams to take advantage of the Raiders’ weak run defense is a pretty affordable mini-stack.
Yahoo: LA Chargers at Houston
Since the Chargers are at a pretty big salary discrepancy on Yahoo, I thought it was worth pointing them out. Houston scores the second-fewest points per game and takes an average of 2.7 sacks per game. The Chargers aren’t one of the elite defenses this year, though they have had their moments. They’ve had at least one, and as many as six sacks in every game this season, and are on a three-game streak with at least two takeaways.