For the uninitiated, DraftKings runs fantasy salary-based football contests where users can take home cash each week instead of waiting for the end of the season. If your season-long teams are out of the running, it's a great time to start playing fantasy football contests on DraftKings, as new depositors receive a free qualifier ticket into the Millionaire Grand Finale.
Now that we’re deep into the season, prices will largely reflect what a player has done to this point in the year. Players emerging with new roles will frequently offer excellent value, while some disappointing veterans will carry reduced price tags. Unproven running backs forced into action by injuries are some of the most valuable commodities, as they’re rarely expensive, and are often assured of touches. You’ll also want to keep a close eye on matchups, though DraftKings’ prices are adjusted to reflect the difficulty of opponents. It might not make sense to fork over $8000 for a stud receiver, if that receiver is facing an elite pass defense. Likewise, you’ll probably want to spend some extra money, rather than starting a cheap D/ST unit that’s facing the Saints or Broncos.
Now, on to some of the best picks for Week 12
Tom Brady, NE, $7200 vs. DEN – Brady is back, and this could be your last chance to get him at a discount price. Monday’s mediocre fantasy numbers aside, the veteran signal-caller looked fantastic against the Panthers, and he was even better the previous week against a respectable Pittsburgh defense. Now that his weapons are all healthy, Brady may be able to go blow-for-blow with Peyton Manning ($9700) and the Broncos. Even if Brady comes up short, he’ll likely do plenty of throwing along the way.
Mike Glennon, TB, $6300 vs. DET – Averaging just 22.3 pass attempts over his last three games, Glennon will probably have to throw the ball more often against a solid Detroit squad. The Bucs built up comfortable leads against their last three opponents, but will be hard-pressed to do the same thing while facing a legitimate contender on the road. Yes, I’d still rather spend the extra $1000 to secure Tom Brady, but it’s hard to deny that Glennon has looked awfully good for a rookie. If he throws the ball more than 30 times – and I’m betting that he will – Glennon should make for a decent bargain this week.
Zac Stacy, STL, $6200 vs. CHI – The Chicago run defense has been so bad that you can make an argument for nearly any running back that’s facing the Bears. Of course, Stacy isn’t just any running back, as he’s piled up 323 rushing yards and three touchdowns over his last three games. Coming out of a bye week, Stacy should be relatively fresh, despite toting the ball 79 times in those three games. While you’d like to see him a bit more active in the passing game, Stacy probably won’t need any receptions to have a nice day against the Bears. His $6200 price tag ranks just 12th among running backs, behind the likes of DeMarco Murray ($6400 vs. NYG), Ray Rice ($6700 vs. NYJ), and Stevan Ridley ($6500 vs. DEN).
Ben Tate, Hou, $6000 vs. JAX – Tate has been a disappointment since Arian Foster (back) was lost for the season, despite recording a minimum of 15 carries in each of Houston’s last four games. Seeing as he’s averaging 4.5 yards per carry and facing off against a shaky defense, Tate has a good opportunity to top the 100-yard mark for the first time all season. Even after holding the Cardinals to 14 rushing yards in Week 11, the Jaguars still rank dead-last in run defense, surrendering 139.1 rushing yards per game. The Houston offensive line may not be what it once was, but it’s still far better than the Arizona line that the Jags faced last week.
Bobby Rainey, TB, $5000 vs. DET – While I can’t say I love the matchup, it’s hard to ignore a $5000 running back coming off a 167-yard, three-touchdown performance. Even if you’re expecting a big step back, Rainey will likely see 15+ touches against an up-and-down Detroit defense. That alone makes him worth the $5000 price tag, before accounting for how good he looked last week. The combination of near-guaranteed touches and tantalizing upside is tough to pass on at this price.
Victor Cruz, NYG, $7200 vs. DAL – Cruz hasn’t reached the end zone since Week 4 but will have a good chance to get back on the board against a Dallas defense that’s given up 20 passing touchdowns through 10 games. The Cowboys rank dead-last in both passing defense and total defense, while Cruz’s 98 targets place him eighth among all wide receivers. Coming off a 110-yard performance, Cruz should be able to keep the ball rolling.
Alshon Jeffery, CHI, $5900 vs. STL – With Jeffery producing 81.8 receiving yards per game, there’s no need to overpay for teammate Brandon Marshall ($8600). The two Chicago wideouts have actually been pretty similar in terms of targets and yardage, and it’s rather fluky that the 6-foot-3 Jeffery only has three touchdown receptions. The St. Louis defense has been much-improved in recent weeks but still shouldn’t be viewed as anything more than an average unit. Lastly, it doesn’t hurt that the Bears like to use Jeffery on reverses, as evidenced by the hulking wideout’s nine carries over the last five games.
Jarrett Boykin, GB, $4400 vs. MIN – Unlike the rest of the Green Bay receivers, Boykin doesn’t seem to miss Aaron Rodgers, as he’s caught 14 passes over the last two games with Scott Tolzien under center. Rodgers’ absence obviously means fewer touchdown opportunities, but DraftKings’ PPR format is kind to possession receivers like Boykin. Given the low price and friendly matchup, Boykin should be a steal at $4400. It’s hard to justify coughing up an extra $3100 for Jordy Nelson ($7500) after watching the Packers the last two weeks.
Jimmy Graham, NO, $7300 vs. ATL¬ – While you won’t be saving any money here, Graham should be worth the price of admission against an Atlanta team that ranks 26th in total defense. Amazingly, the Falcons have yet to hold an opponent under 23 points, despite facing some pretty lousy teams along the way. The New Orleans offense figures to have a big day, and Graham is usually right in the middle of things for the Saints.
Houston, $4000 vs. JAX – In the midst of a disappointing season, the Houston defense should find some redemption this week against the dreadful Jacksonville offense. This Texans team isn’t nearly as bad as the 2-8 record indicates, and they actually lead the NFL in total defense. The Jags have been a bit more competent on offense lately but still can’t seem to avoid turnovers
Garrett Hartley, NO, $3000 vs. ATL – Hartley got back on track last week, hitting all three of his field goal attempts against the 49ers. Despite his recent slump, Hartley should still be viewed as a top-10 kicker, as he’s attached to one of the league’s elite offenses.