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!
Jalen Hurts, Philadelphia Eagles ($6900 FD, $5900 DK, $27 Yahoo)
Hurts sees his salary increase most on DraftKings and Yahoo, coming off a game where he (and teammate Miles Sanders) became the first players in 56 games to post 100-yard rushing games against New Orleans. That kind of rushing potential should elevate him on all three sites, where his salary is still affordable, but he is the best bargain on FanDuel. He wasn’t a bad passer, either, making no mistakes through the air against the Saints’ capable secondary. This week the Eagles travel to Arizona, a middle of the pack defense that doesn’t excel in any area. They have only 10 interceptions all year. Roster Hurts as a solo player, or consider stacking him with Jalen Reagor, who is poised to break out with the dynamic new QB.
Alex Smith, Washington Football Team ($6500 FD, $5000 DK, $24 Yahoo)
I’m guessing a bit that Smith will be able to make the start come Sunday, but if not, I’d also consider Dwayne Haskins this weekend. The Football team faces Seattle in Washington, one of the best passing matchups in the league, especially for fantasy. Smith has been conservative, but if Antonio Gibson is out again, I do expect Washington to rely on the pass game to move the ball and keep up with a resurgent Seahawks’ offense. If Haskins were to start, I’d definitely consider pairing him with Terry McLaurin, but the connection between McLaurin and Smith is lacking. Smith and J.D. McKissic is my preferred pairing in that case.
J.K. Dobbins, Baltimore Ravens ($5900 FD, $5900 DK, $20 Yahoo)
No one on the Ravens is going to run more or more effectively than Lamar Jackson, but Dobbins is the best of what I’ve seen. Yes, Gus Edwards ran in two touchdowns in Week 14, but Dobbins is getting more carries, and he has also scored in the last two games. The difference isn’t large enough, especially considering Edwards yards per carry the last two games, that where the salary difference between the two is huge ($1500 on DraftKings), I’m fine with saving on Edwards this week. The Ravens take on Jacksonville this week, traditionally known as a good passing matchup, but just a good matchup overall. The Jaguars give up the second-most overall fantasy points, so it should be hard to go wrong with rostering (non-COVID) Ravens this week.
Leonard Fournette, Tampa Bay Buccaneers ($5500 FD, $4500 DK, $12 Yahoo)
Fournette earned some interest when it was announced that Ronald Jones had a pin put in his finger Tuesday, but when Jones landed on the COVID list Wednesday, it became obvious that Fournette needed to be mentioned here. I noted in the Starting Points column that I was pretty high on Tom Brady and the Bucs’ passing game this weekend, at Atlanta, but Fournette is bound to get extra work and important goal line carries. At his price, he’s worth adding to all kinds of lineups. LeSean McCoy might spark some people's interest, but not mine.
Russell Gage, Atlanta Falcons ($5700 FD, $4700 DK, $16 Yahoo)
This game carries one of the highest point totals of the week and while I can’t bring myself to trust QB Matt Ryan, WRs Calvin Ridley and Russell Gage are high on my priority list this week. Ridley is pricey, but Gage still carries a very reasonable salary tag. He’s clearly not going to throw a touchdown pass every week (not that I’d complain if he did), but with 5, 8 and 7 targets the last three games, he’s staying involved in this offense. Tampa Bay’s defense has been good, which is another reason to like Gage; they are likely to focus their best attention on Ridley.
Lynn Bowden, Jr., Miami Dolphins ($5000 FD, $3600 DK, $12 Yahoo)
The Dolphins practice logs will clarify whether this is a good play or not as the week wears on. It sounds like Mike Gesicki could end up closer to probable and play Sunday, but Davante Parker and Jakeem Grant are less likely to do so. After a brutal spate of injuries during Week 14, Bowden and Mack Hollins each saw nine targets from Tua Tagovailoa. Bowden also caught four of four targets in Week 13. Facing New England is a tough task, but Tagovailoa is coming off his best game of the year, and the run game has a lot of questions. If Parker and/or Grant are out this weekend, Bowden is my top replacement receiver for the Fins.
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Irv Smith, Jr., Minnesota Vikings ($5700 FD, $3600 DK, $16 Yahoo)
It shouldn’t matter that Kyle Rudolph is probably out this weekend, because Smith has all the talent he needs to occupy the starting tight end spot for Minnesota. However, Rudolph does appear unlikely to suit up vs. Chicago. This is at first glance not a great matchup, but the Bears do have a slight TE weakness, allowing the fifth-most fantasy points to that position. Smith is coming off a perfect game, catching four of four targets, including one for a touchdown. There is competition with two star wideouts, and an offensive approach that is decidedly run-first, but Smith’s low salary makes him a strong value play in a favorable matchup.
Tyler Higbee, LA Rams ($5400 FD, $3800 DK, $13 Yahoo)
Higbee has been nothing if not disappointing this season, minus the one good game, of course. His salary has steadily dropped as he is an afterthought in the Rams potent passing offense. I expect all three of Jared Goff, Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp to be highly rostered this week, so if you want a piece of this 17.5-point favorite that’s a bit different from the crowd, consider Higbee a bargain solution. Teams don’t generally have to try too hard to beat the Jets, and some, like Seattle last week, find it easy to just keep the touchdowns coming. Seeing a Higbee score, for only the second time since Week 2, would not surprise me.
Also consider: Jordan Reed
Washington Football Team ($4200 FD, $2600 DK, $16 Yahoo)
It’s somewhat crazy to roster the defense facing Seattle, one of the Top 3 scoring teams in the league, right? They are cheap, for sure, and they are a good defense, ranking sixth in fantasy points this year. They have been effective pass rushers, recording an average of 3.1 sacks per game, which is tied for fourth in the league. Meanwhile, Russell Wilson has been sacked an average of 3.2 times per game, tied for third-highest rate in the league. Washington has been tough from a fantasy perspective too, allowing the fifth-fewest overall fantasy points to opponents and sixth-fewest real points. Although Seattle is favored on the road, they have had some issues traveling east, and this game carries one of the lowest point totals of the week.
Also consider: New England Patriots