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DraftKings Power Pivots: NFL DFS Week 14


Hi RotoBallers! For those of you that read this article regularly, welcome back! If you are finding Power Pivots for the first time, you have come to the right place if you love NFL DFS! Each week we examine players that are projected to popular at each position and try to find an alternative or "pivot" play that will hopefully give us a leg up on the rest of the field in DraftKings tournaments. While it is really easy to just check out the picks, and you can definitely do that here, I hope that those of you that want to learn and improve will set aside some time to read each player breakdown and evaluate your own thought process when constructing lineups.

Sometimes the chalk is the chalk for a reason, and in Week 13 we were hit with a "chalk bomb," or in other words, a week in which many of the most popular players hit. Spencer Ware didn't break the slate, but had a decent game as the highest-owned player of Week 14. Both Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce were the other Chiefs that were very popular and, unlike Ware, massively exceeded their high expectations. Christian McCaffery once again rewarded the many folks that rostered him in a matchup against Tampa Bay that didn't disappoint. In summary, it was a rough week for our pivot plays, which is, unfortunately, the risk we take when attempting to gain leverage in tournaments.

This should be an interesting week, that will force us to really dig in from a research and lineup construction standpoint. The Saints/Bucs matchup stands out as a game to circle, but past that we have a lot of "good not great" games to choose from. Whereas last week we saw heavily concentrated ownership on a select few players, I expect ownership to be more spread out in Week 14.

Editor's Note: Get any full-season NFL Premium Pass for 50% off. Our exclusive In-Season Lineup Tools, Lineup Optimizer and over 150 days of Premium DFS Research. Sign Up Now!

All ownership projections in this article are courtesy of the awesome folks at UFCollective. They provide the most accurate ownership projections that I have found in the DFS industry and now offer their content directly to the public. It is a premium product that is worth every penny and available here. They offer NFL, NBA, and MLB content for both DraftKings and FanDuel. You can follow them on Twitter @UFCollective.

 

Week 14 NFL DFS Power Pivots for DraftKings GPPs

As I mention every week, ownership considerations should come at the end of your weekly research process. Ownership projections change throughout the week, and I highly recommend that you refer back to this column before finalizing your lineups. I will update ownership projections and add injury notes with additional strategy thoughts on Saturdays.

QB CHALK: Patrick Mahomes ($7,000)

Projected DraftKings Ownership: 19%

POWER PIVOT: Aaron Rodgers ($6,000)

Projected DraftKings Ownership: 7%

It's getting to the point where I can just leave KC's Patrick Mahomes in the QB CHALK portion of the header every week. Once again the young gunslinger is projected to garner huge ownership at the quarterback position. I'm a believer in Mahomes, so you won't see a "fade Mahomes" hot take here.

While I would love to get Mahomes in my lineups, his $7k price tag can make things tight when constructing DFS rosters. Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers offer $1k in salary savings when compared to Mahomes this week. Rodgers has been set free from Mike McCarthy prison, as Green Bay fired its long-time head coach immediately after an embarrassing home loss to the Arizona Cardinals last week.

Rodgers hasn't been himself this season, and his deteriorating relationship with Mike McCarthy seems to have negatively impacted his play on the field. With McCarthy gone, I expect Rodgers to have a great game against the Atlanta Falcons this week.

If you follow football closely, you are well aware of the unlucky amount of injuries the Falcons have dealt with on the defensive side of the ball this season. While they have righted the ship a bit, this is still a defense that we should be eager to attack in DFS tournaments. Atlanta has struggled mightily to stop teams both through the air and on the ground. They are 28th in the NFL in points allowed per game and 25th in passing yards allowed.

The Falcons have allowed the third most passing TDs this season and will be facing a Green Bay offense that should come out aggressive following McCarthy's firing. Rodgers has floundered in the latter part of the season, but still comes into Week 14 averaging a shade over 20 DraftKings points per game. We have a tight five-point spread and a high Over/Under of 50 points in this game that definitely has shootout potential. Atlanta's ability to put points on the board should force Rodgers and the Green Bay passing attack to remain aggressive for four quarters. While we haven't seen a ceiling game from Rodgers since a 425-yard, 2 TD performance in Week 6, we all know that this guy offers tournament-winning upside for just $6k. I think that 300-plus yards and two or more TDs are well within his range of outcomes this week.

SATURDAY UPDATE: As we are seeing on a weekly basis, DraftKings compressed pricing at QB doesn't give us a ton of incentive to spend down. If you aren't able to pay up for Mahomes (who has a matchup against one of the toughest defenses in the league), there are lots of solid options between $5.5k and $6.5k. My favorite is Aaron Rodgers and his huge upside at $6k, but there are several QBs in this price range that I wouldn't argue with.

 

RB CHALK: Jaylen Samuels ($3,700) & Jeff Wilson ($3,800)

Projected DraftKings Ownership: 26% & 23%

POWER PIVOT: Ezekiel Elliott ($8,600) & Christian McCaffery ($9,300)

Projected DraftKings Ownership: 15% & 17%

If we're gonna pivot...let's really pivot! When people think of a pivot play, their mind almost immediately goes to a discount option. While that is often the case, occasionally we will find ourselves in a position to take advantage of the "cheap chalk." We're getting into game theory a bit here, but please bear with me. Samuels and Wilson make fine plays in both cash games and small or single-entry contests, but in large-field GPPs, like the DK Milly Maker, are we really gaining any leverage by rostering these unknown commodities at massive ownership? These guys won't garner Week 13 Spencer Ware levels of ownership, but the theory remains the same. If you faded Ware last week, you were already ahead of the curve and were a late TD away from gaining HUGE leverage on half of the field in tournaments.

If we take the road less traveled and spend up at RB this week, which we can easily do thanks to some great value at WR, we have the ability to essentially "lock-in" points with both Zeke and C-Mac, while a huge portion of the field is hoping to hit with lineups that contain Samuels and/or Wilson. Now, you all know that there are no guarantees in DFS, but these two are about as close as it gets.

Their dependability is tied to their volume. Elliott has averaged 28.75 touches per game over his last four, while McCaffery has averaged 21.25 per game over the same span. Both the Cowboys and Panthers have used these guys relentlessly in the red zone, with both Elliott and McCaffery averaging over three RZ touches per game, good for rankings of fourth and sixth in the NFL. This ridiculous amount of volume makes both guys almost matchup-proof, though both have plus matchups this week, as Elliott gets a Philly defense that allows a massive 5.0 yards per carry and McCaffery draws the Browns, who are being shredded by RBs both on the ground and through the air.

Let me say something very clearly...large-field GPPs are EXTREMELY DIFFICULT to win. Because of that difficulty, we must attempt to gain every advantage we can on the field. It can be scary to not have the "hot play of the week" in your lineup, but we must move past that type of group-think mentality when trying to beat a field of thousands. It's very possible that one or both of Samuels and Wilson will have great price-considered scores, but by using Elliott and McCaffery, we have a legitimate shot to lock-in around 65 points at the RB spot and take our chances with some discounted WRs that have fairly predictable target ranges.

SATURDAY UPDATE: It seems like we always have tons to talk about at RB and this week is no different. Any combination of the four players mentioned above is certainly viable this week. Stacking either both expensive guys or cheap guys together is the more aggressive play in GPPs, while mixing and matching is a more balanced approach and the way I expect most people to go. The Chargers Melvin Gordon has been ruled out. This brings both Austin Ekeler ($6,200) and Justin Jackson ($3,800) squarely into play. The question is how will Gordon's workload be split between the two? Ekeler has thrived has a change of pace back with Gordon in the lineup, but doesn't seem especially suited to a workhorse role, while Jackson has been extremely impressive (120 yards and a TD on 15 carries) in a limited relief role over the last two weeks. The question is how much usage each will see in what's a tremendous a matchup against a hapless Bengals defense. I would expect the Chargers to attempt to get the impressive Jackson on the field a bit more this week, which would put the carries at around a 50/50 split. I'm not very interested in Ekeler at his inflated price. A bet on Jackson is tempting, but it's a bet that he will continue to be extremely efficient on 10-12 touches. Mid-range running backs will go overlooked this week. Green Bay's Aaron Jones ($7,200) is primed for a breakout with Mike McCarthy out of the picture. We have known that Jones is a monster talent for some time and he should get his chances with someone else calling the plays. Phillip Lindsay ($6,300) continues to exceed expectations, though volume is a concern with Royce Freeman remaining involved. If Lindsay's touch count approaches his Week 13 total of 20, he will have a great shot at continuing his impressive results.

 

WR CHALK: Keenan Allen ($7,400)

Projected DraftKings Ownership: 22%

POWER PIVOT: Zay Jones ($4,200)

Projected DraftKings Ownership: 7%

Keenan Allen represents "good chalk" this week. He's a talented player with locked-in volume that's in a juicy matchup against the struggling Bengals. I have no problem with getting Allen into lineups wherever possible this week.

There is an exciting young player down the salary scale that's drawing my interest this week. While most DFS players will head straight for Courtland Sutton at $4,500, I love the idea of diving even deeper to Zay Jones at just $4,200. It's definitely a large-field tournament play, as Jones has a scary-low floor, but the second-year player out of East Carolina has snapped out of his rookie-year funk and is starting to show why the Bills took him with the 37th pick of the 2017 draft.

Jones received a huge boost off the field this week, when Buffalo released both Kelvin Benjamin and Andre Holmes. This will push Jones, who was already averaging a respectable seven targets per game over his last four, into an even more prominent role in the Bills receiving corps. While I mentioned earlier that Jones has a floor that will make you nervous, his upside is juicy. His target count is solid, but it's the type of targets that makes Jones so dangerous. He is averaging 62.5 Air Yards per game, with an aDot of 10.9 that increases when rocket-armed Josh Allen is in the lineup.

Jones draws a matchup against the New York Jets, a defense that has been solid against the pass but has been consistently shredded by receivers out of the slot. He doesn't play exclusively in the slot but has lined up there on around half of his plays over the Bills last two games. Jones himself burned the Jets in Week 10, when he went posted a line of 8/91/1 on 11 targets, while lining up primarily in the slot (Matt Barkley, not Allen, was the Bills QB in Week 10).

I want to reiterate that Jones is a boom-or-bust tournament option, but he has slate-breaking potential this week. He pairs well with Elliott and McCaffery in the type of lineup construction I touched on in the RB section above.

SATURDAY UPDATE: Like RB, there's a lot to discuss at the WR spot this week. I'm still lovin' me some Zay as a boom-or-bust GPP option. Denver's Courtland Sutton ($4,500) received an upgrade in responsibilities after the Broncos traded Demaryius Thomas and the rookie now finds himself thrust into the number one WR role with Emmanuel Sanders out for the year. Sutton isn't a "bad play", but he's definitely an interesting fade candidate in GPPs, as he's projected to be neck and neck with Keenan Allen as the highest-owned WR on the slate and pivoting down to Zay or up to either Chris Godwin ($4,900) or Adam Humphries ($4,900) can offer leverage in large-field tourneys. I played Tampa Bay's Godwin and Humphries together in several lineups last week with a lot of success, and with Desean Jackson being ruled out again, I'm comfortable going back to the well and using them both in a nice matchup. At the upper end of the price scale, AB ($9,000) and JuJu ($8,200) have a great matchup and I expect the Steelers to be pass-heavy. Davante Adams ($8,400) is a great stacking partner with Aaron Rodgers. Houston's DeAndre Hopkins has a very reasonable $7.8k price tag and is a really interesting pivot from Keenan Allen.

 

TE CHALK: Travis Kelce ($6,700)

Projected DraftKings Ownership: 14%

POWER PIVOT: Eric Ebron ($5,700)

Projected DraftKings Ownership: 11%

Similar to his Chiefs teammate Patrick Mahomes, KC's Travis Kelce has become a fixture atop TE ownership projections on a weekly basis. Similar to my advice on Mahomes, I view Kelce as a "play him if you can afford him" option.

If you are looking to save some salary at the TE spot, Indy's Eric Ebron offers a $1k discount as a drop-down option from Kelce. With Colts TE Jack Doyle on IR, Ebron will continue to play a workhorse role in this Indy offense.

Ebron has been a target monster, receiving an eye-popping 23 targets over the last two weeks, which he has converted into 15 catches for 126 yards and two touchdowns. Ebron and WR T.Y. Hilton combined are receiving targets on basically half of Andrew Luck's pass attempts. There will be plenty of opportunities again this week against the Houston Texans.

While the Texans secondary has been effective at stopping WRs, TEs have been another story. Houston has allowed six TDs to opposing TEs, as well as the sixth most yards receiving to the position. This is a nice matchup for Ebron, who toasted the Texans for a 5/40/1 line on 10 targets in Week 4. It's not a stretch to expect a very similar type of output from Ebron again this week. I love the volume, matchup, and salary savings he offers in Week 14.

SATURDAY UPDATE: TE always seems to be tough and this week is no exception. There's a lot to like at the top of the salary scale, but it is a wasteland as far as value options. If I had to pick one TE under $4k, I'd go with Cleveland's David Njoku at $3,900. His targets dropped sharply after Hue Jackson's firing, but he's had 11 balls thrown in way over the last two weeks. Gronk ($4,800) is one of those guys that's always in GPP consideration. Kelce, Zach Ertz ($6,400), and Ebron seem to be the clear top choices at TE, with Ertz being the contrarian play of the bunch at just 7% projected ownership. Though Baltimore is stout defensively, the one position they've struggled to defend has been TE, which makes Kelce the cream of the crop. Ertz and Ebron are both target monsters that offer a safe floor.

 

D/ST CHALK: Washington Redskins ($2,300)

Projected DraftKings Ownership: 9%

POWER PIVOT: New York Giants ($2,500)

Projected DraftKings Ownership: 5%

Two words: Mark Sanchez. That's really all I should need to say about the New York Giants defense this week. I love picking on QBs with my DEF/ST, and Sanchez is well worth targeting. He hasn't seen any significant action since 2015 and was never very good, to begin with. The Redskins will attempt to lean heavily on the run in this one, but New York has some weapons on offense and might force the 'Skins into catch-up mode in the second half. The Giants defense is middle-of-the-road statistically, but a matchup against this depleted Washington offense with Sanchez at the helm bumps them sharply up the rankings. We know that DEF/ST is a volatile position, but there is a good chance we see some mistakes from the turnover-prone Sanchez in this matchup.

SATURDAY UPDATE: I'm still excited about the Giants matchup against Sanchez, but it appears I'm the only one, as New York's projected ownership is still hovering around 5%. Call me crazy, but those looking for a cheap pivot from Washington might want to give Kansas City a look *DUCKS*... the Chiefs have had their share of struggles on defense, but they are a different unit when playing at Arrowhead. Lamar Jackson has been prone to fumbles, which brings a "scoop and score play" into the realm of possibility.

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