I was thinking about the Week 13 daily fantasy football (DFS) picks and their correlation to the Turkey Bowl I have played in five of the last six years, including this past week. Bear with me as I try to make the connection and you will also understand why I have a newfound respect for offensive linemen.
The Turkey Bowl I play in is a pretty serious game. We play eight-on-eight; both offense and defense must have three players on the line at all times. I'm often one of those three, but that doesn't mean you can't have more. And at one particular point during the game this past Thursday, I knew something wasn't right. I could feel it in my gut and bones. (Those same bones that are now aching!) Anyway, I could just feel that a blitz was coming.
The ball was snapped and I could see that our left tackle was facing a double man-rush from that side. I shifted over to assist him but then immediately realized it was a decoy and they were running a delayed blitz. I was able to quickly recover and shifted back to my right. That was just in time to prevent the oncoming rusher from getting to my quarterback unabated. The good news is I absolutely slowed down the rush and we ended up with an incompletion instead of a sack. The bad news is that having to shift so quickly I was completely off balance and got completely trucked by the oncoming rusher.
I picked myself up on the ground, complimented the opposing lineman on their play and got ready for the next play. I had a newfound appreciation for OL because even just a quick turn of the head can end up with their QB getting creamed. And such is the case in DFS. Because sometimes in DFS you know something just doesn't feel right. You often to adjust quickly. Sometimes it works out. Other times you get absolutely get run over. And sometimes you find a way to "break-even." But either way, you get back in the game. So here we go...
Week 13 DFS Picks
Safe QB: Patrick Mahomes vs. Raiders (DK $7400, FD $8600)
We know that Lamar Jackson is all the rage right now with seemingly everyone singing his praises. FanDuel even has Lamar Jackson priced higher than Mahomes. For that reason alone I will take Mahomes over Jackson this week in FanDuel. Mahomes still has 19 TD passes despite missing three games already. Mahomes has destroyed the Raiders every time he plays them, including four TDs earlier this year...
And the Raiders are giving up the sixth-most fantasy points to QBs. It's a good week to pay up at QB and Mahomes is an easy choice.
High Risk/Reward QB: Nick Foles vs. Buccaneers (DK $5700, FD $7500)
Of course, there are a few options if you don't want the easy choice. Foles and the Jaguars look like a beaten team right now, just trying to finish out the season. But we know looks can be deceiving. Yet is it worth investing in a guy who has all of three touchdowns this year including a big zero last week? Yes, it is. Foles has 95 attempts the past two weeks and against the Buccaneers, I expect Foles to continue to fling it. Tampa Bay is giving up the second-most fantasy points to QBs. I expect Nicky Franchise to bounce back this week.
Safe RB: Christian McCaffrey vs. Redskins (DK: $10,500, FD: $11,000)
The aforementioned Buccaneers might actually have the most impressive defensive performance of the year, however. McCaffrey has been killing it all year, but his one dud this year came courtesy of the Bucs. They held him to under 55 combined yards and zero touchdowns. The Bucs are ranked second in the NFL against the run, the Redskins... let's just say they, um..."look like number two," as in the kind you don't want to step in. There is another McCaffrey dud coming, but not this week.
I seem to be on a Buccaneers theme, so what the heck, I'll keep it going...
High Risk/Reward RB: Ronald Jones at Jaguars (DK: $5100, FD: $6200)
And we will do that with Jones, who I know is a little tough to stomach in your lineup. But let me offer some Pepto to make it easier. If nothing else, the volume is there. Jones has 30 snaps in three of his last four games and double-digit carries in four of his last five. Given the Black Friday price he is going for (20th- and 23rd-cheapest RB), he's worth adding to your shopping cart. He's unlikely to have a 100-yard game, but with three touchdowns in the last four games, he could be a sweet surprise.
Safe WR: Dede Westbrook vs. Buccaneers (DK: $5000, FD: $5700)
Westbrook has been more of an unpleasant surprise this year. Many thought he would take the next step, yet he seemed to have been passed by teammate DJ Chark Jr. However, if you go with both Patrick Mahomes and Christian McCaffrey, you are going to need some cheaper, yet safe options. Westbrook recorded a season-high eight catches last week. With Jacksonville giving up the 10th-highest yards per completion, Westbrook is a safe bet to provide a decent floor this week. He hasn't scored since Week 1, but that elusive next touchdown is part of his ceiling, which would enable him to easily surpass his affordable Week 13 price.
High Risk/Reward WR: Darius Slayton vs. Packers (DK: $5300, FD: $6300)
Dede Westbrook really didn't get his opportunity until injuries befell Marqise Lee a few years back. Like Westbrook, Slayton has been making the most of his opportunities as well. With injuries to fellow wideouts, Slayton has stepped up to grab 14 of 22 targets the last two weeks for a combined 188 yards and two touchdowns. The concern was that Sterling Shepard would be back and send Slayton to the bench. Shepard may be back, but Golden Tate will miss Sunday's game.
Expect Slayton to keep making the most of his opportunity.
Safe TE: Darren Waller at Chiefs (DK: $5500, FD: $6100)
The Chiefs are actually giving up the fifth-fewest fantasy points to tight ends. Yet, if I had put Waller in the high risk/reward spot, you would have wanted to bulldoze me immediately. Hunter Renfrow is now injured and Waller has seen his price decline since its Week 9 high. Kansas City is 26th in the league in yards allowed per game. I'm expecting a big day from Josh Jacobs, but Waller should see enough action to make him a safe play.
High Risk/Reward TE: Dallas Goedert at Miami (DK: $4100, FD: $5100)
Zach Ertz is questionable going into this game but even if he wasn't, I love Goedert's upside this week. He has three touchdowns in his last five games and 14 targets the last two weeks combined. With Miami giving up nearly 12 fantasy points per game to TEs, Goedert makes for a great pivot this week.
Safe DST: Packers at Giants (DK: $3400, FD: $4800)
Yes, I like Darius Slayton this week. That doesn't mean I won't have multiple shares of the Packers this week. I think the Packers will still be seething about their performance against the 49ers on national television. When was the last time you saw a Packers defense get whupped two weeks in a row? Daniel Jones is tied for fourth when it comes to sacks taken (33) and remember, he wasn't the starter until Week 3. Expect the "Smith brothers" (Green Bay LBs ZaDarius and Preston) to be in the New York backfield all day.
High Risk/Reward DST: Ravens vs. 49ers (DK: $2800, FD: $4000)
I know it was fairly recently that I've praised the Ravens D. But if there's a week you might want to push past them, this is the week. The 49ers, who just happen to be the No. 1 team in the NFC and are sixth in the NFL in total offense, might not be the best matchup. But with the weather in Baltimore expected to be miserable, this game is likely to be much more of a slobber-knocker than a shootout. But when you can get one of the top five fantasy DSTs priced outside of the top 12 at home on a miserable weather day with likely low ownership, that's an opportunity you run toward. And I've been knocked down before obviously. But this one I'm running full steam ahead on the Week 13 slate.
— Written by Mark Strausberg, a member of the Athlon Network Contributor, who despite his youthful exuberance and good looks has been playing fantasy sports before Wildcats or Hoosiers even made it to VHS. Got a fantasy sports question or thought? Hit him up on Twitter @MarkStrausberg.