Personnel changes and injuries have given daily fantasy players lots to ponder as they try to assemble lineups with less than half of the NFL season remaining.
For instance, consider the change at quarterback in Buffalo, where rookie Nate Peterman is replacing Tyrod Taylor for the Bills' game against the Los Angeles Chargers -- a change announced mid-week after the DFS players' notional salaries were already set. With Peterman's salary locked at $4,700/$6,000 (DraftKings/FanDuel), he represents a starting quarterback that's half the salary of the top-priced quarterback, the New England Patriots' Tom Brady.
In Green Bay, it appears backup running back Jamaal Williams, with a salary of $4,900/$5,600 (DraftKings/FanDuel) should repeat his volume of touches last week (20 carries) with Ty Montgomery (injured ribs) trending toward sitting out the game between the Packers and Ravens Nov. 10.
And Washington Redskins running back Samaje Perine, at $3,800/$5,400 (DraftKings/FanDuel), is poised to get most of the early-down carries and red-zone rushes against the New Orleans Saints with Rob Kelley (ankle, knee) out of action.
In all the above examples, the strategy is probably obvious. A DFS player is hoping to get a reasonable amount of fantasy points from the bargain pick simply based on likely pass attempts or touches and also be able to load up on higher-priced premium players at other positions.
Here are this week's value picks.
Blake Bortles, Jacksonville Jaguars: Bortles is one of those players who sometimes performs better in fantasy than in real life. To explain: In last week's game against the Chargers (a 20-17 Jaguars win), Bortles was less than optimal (28-for-51, 273 yards, one touchdown, two interceptions). But he also ran for 34 yards and posted 18-plus fantasy points. This week, he draws the Cleveland Browns, who have given up the most fantasy points to quarterbacks in the league. The salary is $5,200/$7,500 (DraftKings/FanDuel).
Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders: The New England at Oakland game is the week's highest over-under at 54 points. The Patriots are about a touchdown favorite. Carr is more attractive on DraftKings, where there is a three-point bonus for 300-plus passing yards. Carr has hit that mark during his past three games.
Alvin Kamara, New Orleans Saints: The Saints are at home against Washington so you're going to want someone from New Orleans' offense in your lineup. Kamara is averaging 17.8 fantasy points per game as the No. 2 back.
Rex Burkhead, New England Patriots: Patriots running backs are always risky because of head coach Bill Belichick's penchant for rotation. But Burkhead has consistently delivered, he's versatile and he's smart. Those are qualities Belichick loves.
DeAndre Hopkins, Houston Texans: It's amazing how Hopkins keeps making tough catches regardless of who's throwing the ball for the Texans. It also helps that he gets the lion's share of targets (41 in the past three games). With teammate Will Fuller V doubtful (ribs), Hopkins should be in line for double-digit targets again against the Arizona Cardinals.
Golden Tate, Detroit Lions: In the past four weeks Tate has caught 27 of 31 targets, and for the season he leads all wide receivers in yards-after-catch (397). So if you're Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford, to whom do you throw the ball?
Tyler Kroft, Cincinnati Bengals: Kroft has been in a slump the past two games, but he draws Denver this week. The Broncos have been giving up more than 18 fantasy points per game to tight ends.
Jake Elliott, Philadelphia Eagles: The Eagles kicker will be the only Elliott scoring points, fantasy or real, in the Philadelphia-Dallas Cowboys game Sunday night.
Los Angeles Chargers: Sunday's opponent, Buffalo, is starting a rookie quarterback with 10 pass attempts on his NFL resume. The Chargers are tied for second in the NFL in sacks (29). Quarterback pressure leads to turnovers.
Jacksonville Jaguars: One of the NFL's best defenses (Jacksonville) versus one of the worst offenses (Cleveland). If you can afford them, grab the Jaguars. The price may be prohibitive on FanDuel, but it's OK on DraftKings.
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