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King for a Day: The Price of Silver

Jerry Donabedian

Jerry Donabedian

Jerry Donabedian writes about fantasy sports for RotoWire.

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 14

QUARTERBACK

Matt Ryan, ATL, $6900 at GB
– Though he hasn’t had a big fantasy day since Week 7, the Falcons’ veteran signal-caller looked much better the last two weeks in an overtime win against the Bills and a narrow loss to the Saints. The Week 13 win over the Bills was particularly encouraging, as Ryan hooked up with Roddy White ($6200) 10 times for 143 yards. With his most trusted target involved in the offense again, Ryan should be in for a big day against the flailing Green Bay defense.

RUNNING BACK

DeMarco Murray, DAL, $7400 at CHI
– With the Bears owning one of the worst run defenses in recent memory, there’s no reason to stop riding the wave. Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson scampered for 211 yards last week, marking the fifth consecutive game in which Chicago has allowed a 100-yard rusher. With Lance Dunbar (knee) out for the season, Murray won’t have much competition for touches coming out of a three-touchdown Thanksgiving performance.

Shane Vereen, NE, $6700 vs. CLE – In three games since returning from a broken hand, Vereen has piled up 76 rushing yards on 21 carries and 162 receiving yards on 21 receptions. He scored his first touchdown of the season last week, while carrying the ball 10 times for the second game in a row. With 38 targets in four appearances, Vereen is one of the key pieces in a strong New England passing attack. It doesn’t hurt that Stevan Ridley has fallen out of favor, after losing fumbles in three consecutive games.

Darren Sproles, NO, $5200 vs. CAR – The low price reflects Sproles’ recent lack of production, but the scat back’s struggles are probably just temporary. He remains highly involved in the New Orleans passing game, with 18 receptions in his last three appearances. Furthermore, the Saints will likely focus on throwing the ball Sunday, as the Panthers have surrendered just 80.3 rushing yards per game. Given that Sproles is averaging fewer than four carries per game, the strong Carolina run defense could actually benefit him, if it forces New Orleans to throw the ball more often.

WIDE RECEIVER

Torrey Smith, BAL, $6700 vs. MIN
– With touchdowns in three of his last four games, and a reception of more than 50 yards each of the last two weeks, Smith seems to have moved past his mid-season slump. The big plays are particularly encouraging, as the speedy receiver and Joe Flacco were struggling to connect for a while there. Smith’s 106 targets more than double the total of any other Raven, and he’ll be up against the league’s 30th-ranked pass defense come Sunday.

Kendall Wright, TEN, $6100 at DEN – While Wright’s steady but unspectacular game log may reduce his appeal in larger tournaments, the Titans’ PPR machine is still a threat to explode in any given week. The targets are there on a consistent basis, and Wright is more of a big-play threat than his usage would seem to indicate. With the Titans facing Peyton Manning and the high-powered Denver offense this week, Wright is one of the league’s better bets to record double-digit targets.

Andre Holmes, OAK, $3600 at NYJ – Coming off a 7-136-0 Thanksgiving performance, Holmes comes at a friendly price, if you’re willing to take a risk. While a repeat of last week’s 136 receiving yards is unlikely, he figures to start again, assuming Denarius Moore (shoulder) isn’t ready to play. If you can live with the possibility of a complete dud, Holmes can be a valuable part of a stars-and-scrubs approach. Just make sure that Moore is out, as Holmes wouldn’t have much value as the third receiver in Oakland’s offense.

TIGHT END

Rob Gronkowski, NE, $8000 vs. CLE
– Reasonably healthy and strong as ever, Gronkowski is averaging a 6.8-105-1 receiving line over the last four games, with a touchdown in every contest. The Browns have taken a step back on defense the last two weeks, while the New England offense has been fantastic in the second half of the season. Gronk should be worth every penny of his massive price tag, as he’s arguably passed Jimmy Graham ($7700 vs. CAR) as the top fantasy tight end.

Garrett Graham, HOU, $4100 at JAX – Graham makes for a nice discount option at tight end, after seeing 32 targets over the last three games. He wasn’t able to make much out of those looks the past two weeks, but did catch seven passes for 136 yards in a Nov. 17 loss to the Raiders. For whatever reason, QB Case Keenum seems to prefer Graham to rookie first-round WR DeAndre Hopkins. That probably isn’t what makes sense for a 2-12 team in transition, but we’re just worried about Graham’s production, not the Texans’ future.

TEAM D/ST

Jets, $2400 vs. OAK
– The Jets have struggled against the pass this season, but Oakland doesn’t have the personnel to exploit that weakness. Head coach Rex Ryan will likely have his defense hone in on Rashad Jennings and Darren McFadden, daring rookie QB Matt McGloin to win it through the air. The price here is excellent, as the Jets have a decent defense and are facing one of the worst offensive teams in the league.

KICKER

Alex Henery, $3000 vs. DET
– As was the case last week, Henery and David Akers are the only $3000 kickers attached to above average offenses. With the Lions and Eagles facing off this week, I’ll take the home team’s kicker over a declining veteran on the road.