This article is part of our DraftKings NFL series.
We're down to four weeks of regular-season slates in the 2018, and this week, there are several underpriced players to consider as a result of last week's injuries. The Titans-Jags matchup is already in the books (Derrick Henry winning somebody else one million dollars would have ruined my Sunday if that game were on the Main Slate), and we'll be without the Rams-Bears game (Sunday night) as well as the Vikings-Seahawks matchup (Monday night).
Here's a quick rundown of the Implied Totals based on the point spread and over/under total for each of the Main Slate matchups:
Even with significant wind concerns in Tampa Bay, the Saints are atop the list again this week coming off a rough showing in Dallas, against a surging Cowboys defense. The running game is shaping up to be the better approach with New Orleans if the current forecasts for Sunday hold up.
The Chargers are huge favorites at home against a rapidly deteriorating Bengals squad. Another absence for Melvin Gordon leaves Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson positioned for a good number of touches against the league's worst run defense, but it's entirely possible that Philip Rivers and Keenan Allen do a lot of damage without a high volume of attempts early on to push the Bolts toward that implied total.
The Steelers are the third team with an implied total above 30 this week, and they are positioned as the Chiefs were a week ago, as double-digit road favorites in Oakland (the Chiefs failed to cover). They'll be without James Conner (ankle) for at least this week, which will open up a lot of interest in Jaylen Samuels in particular. Antonio Brown's $9,000 price tag with Pittsburgh on the road could leave him with a low ownership rate, even with a great matchup against a poor Oakland defense.
While the Chiefs have the fourth-highest total on the main slate (28.75), they're down slightly despite being at home this week, thanks to a matchup against the Ravens. Will ownership rates on Patrick Mahomes, Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce and Spencer Ware drop below their normal levels? (Ware is still priced down relative to his projected workload in one of the league's best offenses thanks to the difficulty of matching up with Baltimore.)
On the bottom end of the board, the Redskins, Cardinals, Jets and Bengals are projected for the lowest totals of the week – all below 20 points in Week 14.
Ben Roethlisberger, PIT at OAK ($6,800) – As noted above, there are enough cheap plays on the slate to free up the extra cash necessary to pay up at quarterback this week, especially in cash-game lineups. Roethlisberger's road woes are seemingly overblown, as he's offset the increase in turnovers away from Heinz Field by piling up extra yardage. Plus, the Raiders' lack of a pass rush and subpar secondary have joined forces to yield 8.7 YPA to opposing passers this season (29:9 TD:INT). The biggest fear in facing Oakland might be a flop from their offense, which would leave the Steelers in a position to go run-heavy throughout the second half with a potential combo of Samuels and Stevan Ridley.
Also Consider: Philip Rivers, LAC vs. CIN ($6,500)
Tom Brady, NE vs. MIA ($5,800) – As of lunch time Friday, the Patriots carry the fifth-highest implied total on the Main Slate, and there is room for a slight uptick following the report that Miami's elite cornerback Xavien Howard will miss the game with a knee injury. Brady has a robust supporting cast right now, with three healthy running backs (Sony Michel, James White, Rex Burkhead), his top three wideouts (Julian Edelman, Josh Gordon, Chris Hogan) and his tight end (Rob Gronkowski). With 30 attempts in all but one game this season (the unusual Week 3 loss in Detroit pre-Gordon and sans Edelman), Brady's volume floor is steady. His lack of TD output to this point is more surprising than troubling, and if he fails to rack up 12 more passing TDs over the final four games, he'll fall below a two-TD per game average for the first time since 2013. On the road, he fits nicely as a GPP option this week, and his ownership rate should be very low at an affordable price.
Deshaun Watson, HOU vs. IND ($5,900) – Watson's YPA is nearly a full yard better at home (8.8) than it is on the road (7.9) this season, and the Texans' offense continues to move the ball consistently through the air even without explosive No. 2 receiver Will Fuller. The risk with Watson comes from his attempts volume getting suppressed as the Texans are often protecting leads, but the hope is Andrew Luck and the Colts can bounce back after getting shut out in Jacksonville last week, pushing Watson's attempts up from the usual mid-20s range. Even if that doesn't happen, Watson's ability as a runner raises his ceiling above most quarterbacks priced under $6K, which could push him into cash-game lineups that run out of cap space. He'll likely come with a higher ownership than Brady, but Watson already has two 30-point games this season and one of those occurred in his first meeting with the Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium back in Week 4.
Jaylen Samuels, PIT at OAK ($3,700), Jeff Wilson, SF vs. DEN ($3,800) – Samuels vs. Wilson will be an RB2/flex consideration for most cash lineups this week. It's not crazy to think that playing both could be viable, as it would offer up a lot of value at a low price, and free up a ton of cash to spend up nearly everywhere else in your lineup. If Samuels doesn't share much with Stevan Ridley and essentially absorbs all of James Conner's workload, he could easily top 25 DraftKings points in this matchup.
It remains to be seen if Alfred Morris will have a chance to eat into Wilson's carries in the absence of Matt Breida, since the opportunity for Wilson last week took place while Morris was inactive. At the very least, Wilson would be the pass-catching back, but it's hard to imagine that Wilson would drop from 15 carries to zero to get a player lacking future value to the organization more work. Samuels is in the better offense, and he has a better matchup, so he's my choice if you're looking to utilize just one of the two chalky sub-$4K running backs this week.
Alvin Kamara, NO vs. TB ($8,100) – While the over/under has fallen, the Saints are heavier favorites now than when the line was first posted. Poor passing game conditions would lead the Saints to a more ground-heavy attack, which would leave Kamara and Mark Ingram ($5,700) in a position to run all over the Tampa Bay defense (5.0 YPC allowed, 14 rushing TD, 14 runs of 20+ yards). Additionally, the passes that the Saints would be willing to throw would likely be of the short and intermediate variety, which gives Kamara a nice boost given his usual pass-catching role. Kamara's workload might not match that of Christian McCaffrey every week, but McCaffrey's increased price ($9,300) and Saquon Barkley's push toward the $9K mark ($8,900 at WAS) makes Kamara an easy solution for those seeking an elite running back at a relative discount.
Also consider (listed in order of price): Christian McCaffrey, CAR at CLE ($9,300), Saquon Barkley, NYG at WAS ($8,900), Ezekiel Elliott, DAL vs. PHI ($8,600), Aaron Jones, GB vs. ATL ($7,200), Phillip Lindsay, DEN at SF ($6,300), Austin Ekeler, LAC vs. CIN ($6,200)
Tevin Coleman, ATL at GB ($4,400) – Coleman exploded for 32.6 DraftKings points in Week 9 on the road against Washington, but he's struggled in the four weeks since (34.2 combined points), in part because he's caught a remarkably difficult schedule that included a road trip to Cleveland and matchups with the Cowboys, Saints, and Ravens. Three straight weeks with eight or fewer carries will likely scare plenty of people away, and having two chalky sub-$4K targets at the position probably helps keep Coleman's ownership rate well under 5 percent as well. The Packers have allowed 4.6 YPC this season, and while frigid temperatures are in the forecast Sunday at Lambeau, heavy winds and snow are not, which should leave Coleman with a bigger workload than he's seen in recent weeks in the best matchup he's had in a while. Since he gets passing-down work, Coleman shouldn't completely disappear if the Packers' offense comes to life in its first game without the weight of Mike McCarthy on Aaron Rodgers' shoulders.
David Johnson, ARI vs. DET ($6,500) – The Lions' run defense has improved since the acquisition of Damon Harrison from the Giants earlier this season (~4.2 YPC since the trade), and Johnson enters Week 14 on the heels of yielding two rushing TDs to backup Chase Edmonds in the Cards' upset win over the Packers in Green Bay last week. Yet again, Johnson had a lot of touches (21) in new offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich's gameplan, and the interest will likely remain low since he finished with 8.2 DraftKings points last week instead of the 20+ he would have finished with if Edmonds had not closed out those two scoring drives.
Keenan Allen, LAC vs. CIN ($7,400) – The Chargers should have little difficulty racking up points against the Bengals, and it could be a run-heavy attack in the second half if the offense opens up a big first-half lead. As cash-game receivers go, it's hard to find a better floor than Allen this week. The Cincinnati defense is allowing 8.0 YPA to opposing passers along with a 26:11 TD:INT mark (100.5 passer rating against), and Allen's target share in the Chargers' offense is among the largest shares of the pie league-wide, as he's topped 35 percent of the targets on four occasions this season, including a season-high 53 percent mark in the team's comeback win over the Steelers in Week 13.
Adam Humphries, TB vs. NO ($4,900) – In terms of pure talent, I prefer Chris Godwin (also $4,900) to Humphries, but if I only get to build one cash lineup this week, I'm leaning toward Humphries. Much like the impact of the wind on the Saints' offense with the potential of added targets going to Alvin Kamara in the short passing game, Humphries stands to benefit from the conditions for the Bucs as the team's regular slot receiver. Since he doesn't play on the outside, Humphries also avoids Marshon Lattimore (who figures to match up with Mike Evans), which should allow him to pick on some of the Saints' weaker corners underneath. The price will become a deterrent soon if it jumps into the mid-$5K range in more difficult matchups in the weeks ahead, but this is another good spot for Humphries.
Amari Cooper, DAL vs. PHI ($6,600) – The Eagles' secondary is still banged up, and Cooper's role in the Cowboys' offense has been steady (at least eight targets in all but one game with Dallas so far). The mid-tier receivers might be somewhat overlooked as a group, with most of the attention likely going toward T.Y. Hilton ($6,300) for those shopping in this price range. Cooper has averaged 10.6 yards per target since joining the Cowboys (8.6 without the 90-yard TD against Washington on Thanksgiving). Even if the game script limits the Cowboys to 28-30 passing attempts, Cooper should be on the receiving end of 25-30 percent of Dak Prescott's targets as the team's clear-cut No. 1 option in the passing game.
Zay Jones, BUF vs. NYJ ($4,200) – The more popular sub-$5K receivers (Humphries, Godwin, Sutton, and Golden Tate) should keep ownership rates low on Jones for one more week. The Bills' offense is not very good, but Jones gets a second crack at a Jets' secondary he torched in Week 10 with eight catches 93 yards and a TD on 11 targets, and he had another high target total recently with a 4-67-2 showing against the Dolphins on nine chances in Week 13. Even if the Bills are positioned to limit Josh Allen to 24-26 attempts, Jones has a chance at another 30 percent share of the targets, which is enough for him to make value at his low price against a defense that has allowed the second-most DraftKings points to opposing wide receivers (42.7 FP/G) this season.
Odell Beckham, NYG at WAS ($8,300) (Beckham was ruled out with a thigh injury Saturday), Julio Jones, ATL at GB ($7,900), and T.Y. Hilton, IND at HOU ($6,300) *check status Sunday before kickoff*
Hail Mary: Marquez Valdes-Scantling, GB vs. ATL ($4,400) – Mike McCarthy is gone in Green Bay, and it will be interesting to see how much Aaron Rodgers and the offense will change under interim head coach Joe Philbin over the final four games. Valdes-Scantling was targeted seven times in the Packers' home loss to Arizona in Week 13, but he caught just two passes for 19 yards. Interestingly, he was used on a pair of designed runs, which turned into an additional 29 yards from scrimmage, but it was a quiet day overall, and one in which Randall Cobb played for the first time since Week 9. Cobb was on the field for 80 percent of the snaps, but MVS's snap share remained above 80 percent for the fifth consecutive week. Valdes-Scantling continues to look like the best of the three receivers Green Bay drafted in April, and his top-end speed makes him dangerous enough for big-field tournament consideration even with a limited target volume.
Travis Kelce, KC vs. BAL ($6,700) – Paying up at tight end this week is easier than usual,, and the range of viable cash-game tight ends is top-heavy, depending on your trust level in Rob Gronkowski's current role at a reduced price ($4,800). In any case, the Ravens have an elite pass defense, but their Achilles heel has been handling tight ends, as they've allowed 13.9 DraftKings points per game to the position this season (11th most in the league), and Kelce is a matchup nightmare for team that tend to defend the position well. Additionally, Sammy Watkins (foot) has been ruled out, which may lift the target floor for Kelce and top wideout Tyreek Hill even higher.
The overall pricing on the site and the matchups for the elite options make all of the top-end tight ends playable in tournaments as well.
Paying down slightly in any format for Zach Ertz ($6,400), rolling with George Kittle ($5,500) against Denver, leaning on Eric Ebron against Houston ($5,700) or throwing Gronk into the mix ($4,800) against the Dolphins are all viable options.
The true low-owned, alternative paths to consider for tournaments only include:
Austin Hooper, ATL at GB ($4,300) – Hooper has been targeted at least five times in each of the Falcons' last four games, and the passing game conditions in Green Bay shouldn't be that bad (at least for December). Since he's only $500 less than Gronk, Hooper should fly under the radar ownership-wise in this matchup against a Green Bay defense that has allowed 8.2 yards per target to opposing tight ends this season. If you expect the Falcons to throw a lot Sunday, Hooper could turn 7-8 targets into 60+ yards and a touchdown.
Matt LaCosse, DEN at SF ($2,700) – He burned those who took the chance on the cheap last week against the Bengals, but the season-ending injury to Emmanuel Sanders paired with LaCosse's heavy volume of playing time in Week 13 could lead him to a nice bounce-back in San Francisco.
Ian Thomas, CAR at CLE ($2,700) – Greg Olsen is out for the season, which opens up a lot of snaps for Thomas, but you have to accept that he might be as low as fifth in the pecking order for targets behind D.J. Moore, Christian McCaffrey, Devin Funchess and/or Curtis Samuel.
Giants vs. Redskins ($2,500) – Mark Sanchez is starting at quarterback for Washington this week, and he's playing behind a line that has allowed 30 sacks through 12 games. Even without Landon Collins, the Giants' defense should be good enough to force a turnover or two in this matchup, while chipping in multiple sacks as well.
If you want to pay even less, the $2,300 price tag on the Cards' defense at home against the Lions is also appealing.
For cash games especially, the Chargers ($3,500) figure to be heavily deployed against Jeff Driskel and the Bengals.