Welcome to The Gauntlet. We are going to break down each and every game to find our NFL DFS week 12 top plays on what is considered the main slate on DraftKings and Fanduel. This consists of the games only on Sundays. If you are playing other slates, such as the primetime slates, be sure to check out our other DFS content for plays in those games. In this breakdown, we are going to dive deeply into each matchup which is why we are going to stick to just the main slate of games. The numbers in parenthesis are the Vegas implied totals for each team. All of the stats in this breakdown are from Football Outsiders, while all of the player grades are from Pro Football Focus. Let’s get to it…
Titans (24.25) at Colts (21.25) Total 45.5
On the Titans side of the ball, we can actually consider loading up here. The Colts have not been good this year in terms of defense and we have looked to attack them almost every week. That won’t change here. I believe this is finally the Corey Davis coming out party. His past three matchups have been three of the toughest matchups that a WR can face in Baltimore, Cincy, and Pittsburgh. This is a tremendously easier matchup, and his price is extremely low considering that fact. He is the most talented receiver on this offense, and I am going to load up on him here. If you want to stack Mariota here, I don’t mind it and you can even throw in Rishard Matthews. But Davis is by far my favorite.
On the Colts side, they should be playing from behind like usual. The thing about the Colts though, is they play at such a slow pace, which is why I am leaning against using Mariota and just sticking with Davis. But playing from behind means Brissett will be throwing. I don’t want to use Brissett necessarily, even though he is somewhat intriguing. I prefer to go to Doyle here. TY Hilton is a tournament play every week at this point. He should see a lot of man coverage this week as the Titans love to play man, and TY can burn anyone in man coverage. However, he has been too inconsistent for me to even consider in cash games.
Top Plays: Davis, Doyle
Panthers (22.25) at Jets (17.25) Total 39.5
This game is going to be a stay away for me outside of the defenses. Both defenses have been playing really well and there is not much to love on either offense. I suppose you can play McCaffrey because of his involvement in the passing game, but he lucked into 2 TDs last week, and if he didn’t have those, he would have been a complete bust. He is not known for his TD scoring, so chasing points here may not be the smartest play. Just stick to the defenses.
Top Plays: Panthers D
Browns (15) at Bengals (23) Total 38
Originally I wanted to think that this total is too low to use Dalton. My thoughts now are that this totally may be so low solely because of the Cleveland offense. They will struggle to move the ball here. This will create short fields for the Bengals offense and lead to more scoring opportunities. However, On DK we need yards and catches more so than TDs. This is a great spot to use Dalton and Green and Lafell on Fanduel, which is a TD reliant scoring system. On DK, again, I am concerned about the Bengals not having to travel the length of the field much to score. This could result in them getting up early on the Browns and just running the clock out. Trusting Andy Dalton is not something I ever feel good about either. The Browns have an elite run D, and one of the top corners in the NFL. So maybe just stick with Kroft or Lafell here and stay away from stacking the Bengals. No thanks on any Browns until Josh Gordon is back.
Top Plays: Lafell, Kroft, Bengals D
Bucs (19.25) at Falcons (29.25) Total 48.5
This is such a good spot once again for Matt Ryan and the Falcons pass attack. We have attacked the Bucs through the air all season, and that shouldn’t change. The Falcons are likely to be without Freeman again, and Coleman really struggled to get things going on the ground against Seattle rushing 20 times for just over 40 yards. The Bucs are giving up the 8th most fantasy points to QBs and are giving up the most to WRs. In a game where the Falcons could really struggle to run the ball, I think we can load up on Ryan, Julio, and Sanu once again here. The Julio explosion is going to happen. It happens once a year. I want to be on board when it does and he is still relatively cheap for his ceiling.
Atlanta has been getting torched by two things this year: deep middle of the field, and #2 WRs. If only the Bucs had someone who fit this mold. Oh wait, they do! Desean Jackson. This is a great spot to play Desean, especially if you are loading up on Atlanta pass attack. The Bucs should be playing from behind the entire game, and Fitzpatrick isn’t afraid to air it out. I actually prefer Desean over Evans here, because I would rather spend up for Julio if paying up at WR.
Top Plays: Ryan, Julio, Sanu, Desean
Dolphins (15.5) at Patriots (32) Total 47.5
I loaded up on the Patriots air attack last week and I am going right back to the well here. The Dolphins are a bad defense and the Patriots are never afraid to run up a score, especially against a divisional opponent. We can go right back to the well with Gronk and Cooks here. The RB situation is too gross for me right now. Burkhead almost lost a fumble last week, so we have no clue if he is in Belichick’s doghouse or not. I could easily see them going back to White as the main pass catcher if Burkhead, in fact, is gonna be in a limited role due to the almost lost fumble. I would rather play what I know, and that is Gronk and Cooks and Brady.
On the Dolphins side, there is someone, in particular, I have interest in if Matt Moore is the starting QB. In the games Matt Moore has started dating back to last season, here are Kenny Stills lines:
3 targets, 1 catch, 52 yards, 1 TD
8 targets, 3 catches, 35 yards, 1 TD
7 targets, 4 catches, 41 yards, 1 TD
10 targets, 5 catches 65 yards, 0 TD
In case you didn’t notice, Matt Moore throws all of his TDs to Kenny Stills and targets him a ton. They are going to be playing from behind, obviously, and he is dirt cheap at $4.8K on DK. He is going to be one of my favorite plays this week if Cutler sits.
Top Plays: Brady, Gronk, Cooks, Stills
Bills (18.25) at Chiefs (28.25) Total 46.5
The cheap QB of the week is going to be Tyrod Taylor. We love playing rushing QBs in fantasy because it creates a nice floor and a nice ceiling. When paying down at QB, you really only care about the floor. Tyrod is going to come out motivated this week due to the whole benching fiasco, and I can see him running all over the field in this one. He will likely be playing from behind which is a good thing for him for two reasons. 1) more throwing opportunities and 2) the defense will back off a little bit to prevent the big plays leaving the underneath of the field open for free rushing yards. You don’t need to pair anyone with Tyrod since you are hoping for rushing upside here.
On the Chiefs side, Kareem Hunt is in an incredible spot. Ever since the Bills traded Dareus, they can’t stop anyone’s run game, and I don’t expect that to change this week. The Chiefs are 10 point home favorites. Play Hunt.
Top Plays: Tyrod, Hunt
Bears (15.25) at Eagles (28.75) Total 44
Load up on Eagles D here. Pretty plain and simple. They will shut down the run game and force Trubisky into mistakes.
The Eagles have a little bit of revenge narrative on their side this week as Alshon Jeffrey returns to Chicago. I think they make it a point to have him heavily involved this week as they should feel like they will win this game easily. They are going to have fun with this one. Of course, Wentz and Ertz are in play, as they are every week.
Top Plays: Eagles D, Wentz, Jeffrey, Ertz
Seahawks (25.75) at 49ers (19.25) Total 45
Russell Wilson plays much better when he is required to throw because of the opposing offense putting pressure on him. Beathard has been better as of late and this Seahawks D is injury riddled. I think Beathard is actually in play here for cheap value. If Beathard is in play, then that means Russ is also in play. I don’t want to load up on either pass attack as a full stack, but I really want some sort of exposure here. I would choose one of Goodwin, Kittle, and Hyde from the 49ers as these are the guys who drive the offense. You would be playing Hyde for his pass-catching abilities.
The pass catchers I would pair with Russ or play as standalone are the obvious Baldwin and Graham. Both are in a great matchup here.
Top Plays: Goodwin, Baldwin, Graham
Saints (25.5) at Rams (28) Total 53.5
The fact that the Rams are favored over the Saints here is a huge sign of respect for them from Vegas. These two teams have been two of the best in the NFL and this should be an awesome game to watch. Robert Woods is slated to miss this game, and Lattimore is questionable for the Saints. If Lattimore misses this game, I am going to play Sammy Watkins. He is going to see a target bump with no Woods, and his talent is still there. If Lattimore does play, I want Kupp as he will get the bigger target bump. I think Gurley also sees a target bump here regardless if Lattimore plays or not and in the highest total game, I want exposure to him.
On the Saints side of the ball, it is getting to the point where both Ingram and Kamara are viable to be played in the same lineup because of how heavily involved both guys are. Outside of them, only Thomas interests me. All 3 guys have an awesome matchup this week and I want to load up on this high total game.
Top Plays: Gurley, Kupp, Watkins (if Lattimore sits), Ingram, Kamara, Thomas
Jaguars (21.75) at Cardinals (16.75) Total 38
The Jags are by far the best defense in the league. Blaine Gabbert is the opposing QB… Play the Jags D.
On the offensive side though, if Peterson isn’t going to cover Westbrook (which I don’t think they would have him shadow a rookie), then Westbrook is an awesome value play here. The Cardinals have been getting torched by second receivers all year. This is the same spot we played Bruce Ellington in last week and we can expect similar production.
Top Plays: Jags D, Westbrook
Broncos (19.25) at Raiders (24.25) Total 43.5
The Broncos have been uncharacteristically giving up TDs to WRs at an alarming rate. The entire Raiders production comes from Cooper and Crabtree, and I wouldn’t mind taking a shot on either of these guys in a tournament. Definitely not cash game viable though.
On the Broncos side, I am actually considering playing Paxton Lynch here because he is free and the Raiders have been so bad defensively. In the 2 games he started last year, Thomas saw 7 and 10 targets while Sanders saw 9 and 9. I wouldn’t expect an offensive explosion here, but the prices make them a consideration.
Top Plays: Lynch, Sanders, Thomas