50/50 or Heads Up
In 50/50 or Heads-Up contests, you should aim for a lineup that has a higher floor over a higher ceiling. If you're in a 50/50 contest, the top half of all entries finishes in the money, meaning you don't have to pick a high-ceiling lineup that shoots for the moon. I build these lineups with the players I need regardless of their price while including my rationale.
Philip Rivers, SD, $8600 – Given the high price tag on Peyton Manning ($11,000) this week, I’m willing to pass on him and go with Rivers. He’s had extra time to prepare for the Raiders, who were just torched by Alex Smith. Being in the playoff hunt should prompt the Chargers to keep the foot on the gas for the whole game and the weather won’t be an issue.
Alfred Morris, WAS, $6000 – I’m going to stick with Morris again this week. He has a fantastic matchup against Dallas and the price tag is a bargain as the 25th highest priced running back. Look for Morris to bounce back with a huge game. I strongly considered someone like Dennis Johnson ($4500, the Fanduel minimum) in this spot, but I think for 33 percent more money Morris is the safer play here.
LeSean McCoy, PHI, $9700 – I usually like to go with a top running back, and the cheap price for Morris allows me to do that here. The Bears sport one of the worst run defenses in the league, giving McCoy a better matchup at a cheaper price than Jamaal Charles. Look for the Bears to get back to allowing 100-yard rushers this week, with 150-plus yards being a fair possibility.
Demaryius Thomas, DEN, $8300 – Andre Caldwell being the most valuable Broncos wide receiver last week was a huge fluke. Look for Manning, who will be in a much more comfortable environment, to throw the effective slip screen to Thomas a few times, which could lead to the talented wideout taking it the distance.
Keenan Allen, SD, $7100 – As usual, I’m going to pair my quarterback up with his top wide receiver, and Allen has clearly become that guy. I was a little nervous early last Thursday when it appeared the two weren’t on the same page, but Allen made up for it by converting both of his catches into touchdowns. He has four touchdowns in his last two games and has at least 14.6 fantasy points on FanDuel over his last four contests.
T.Y. Hilton, IND $5400 – It seems like every time I’m on Hilton, he comes up with a dud and every time I ignore him he goes off. I’m going to get back on him this week since outside of the Cincinnati game, he’s been pretty heavily targeted. I’m not afraid of the matchup with the Chiefs, and I expect a high-scoring game, which should keep Andrew Luck throwing. I like the price here and give Hilton the edge over guys similarly priced options like Hakeem Nicks, Harry Douglas and Jacoby Jones.
Martellus Bennett, CHI, $4800 – Bennett is a little risky given he’s only three games removed from a two-catch, 14-yard performance. However, the Bears have a decent matchup against the Eagles this week, and Cutler should have shaken off the rust after last week’s appearance against the Browns. Bennett will have plenty of room to operate over the middle and he’ll see softer coverage in the red zone with Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall working on the outside.
Ryan Succop, KC, $5000 – At the minimum price, I really like Succop this week. The Chiefs have scored at least 28 points over their last four games and at least 17 points in every home game this season, which gives him a high floor.
New York Jets Defense, $5100 – To stay under budget, I have to pick one of the lowest-priced defenses on the site. I’ll roll the dice with the Jets, who have been hit-or-miss this season. This is totally a fade of Jason Campbell and the belief that the Browns have no running game.
For tournament lineups, you have to look at upside and use some "outside-the-box" picks if you want to cash. Remember, I probably wouldn't use this lineup completely as there is a lower floor here with a lot of players. A mix of studs with a few of the cheaper options listed below could net you the top overall prize.
Jay Cutler, CHI, $8000 – Cutler had a respectable return to the field last week -- although he probably should have had an interception on the Alshon Jeffery touchdown grab. This week he probably has a similar, if not worse, matchup against the Eagles, who should put up points. I expect this to be the highest scoring game of the week, but most tournament players will take Nick Foles when picking a signal caller from this tilt.
Dennis Johnson, HOU, $4500 – Johnson is this week’s Matt Asiata. With Ben Tate done for the season, Johnson should see a heavy workload against a defense that just gave up a big game to Ryan Mathews. Don’t be surprised if Johnson gets to double-digit points and easily earns his price.
Lamar Miller, MIA, $5800 – This pick is completely based upon Daniel Thomas missing the game due to an ankle injury. Miller and Thomas have rotated solid fantasy games the last two weeks and it’s probable that Miller gets around 20 touches if Thomas is out. The Bills have given up big games to Jordan Todman, Bobby Rainey and the Falcons’ running backs the last three weeks.
A.J. Green, CIN, $8600 – If there’s a high-priced wide receiver I think he will be overlooked this week, it’s Green. He hasn’t had a 100-yard receiving game over his last four and only has three touchdowns over his last seven games. This is a great matchup against a weak Vikings defense. I think over 100 yards and a score are in the tea leafs.
Riley Cooper, PHI, $5500 – After last week’s monster game, I expect tournament players will be all over DeSean Jackson. This makes Cooper a great play, and given his lack of production as of late, he’s a big value. Don’t be surprised if Cooper ends up as the Eagles leading fantasy receiver this week.
Hakeem Nicks, NYG, $5400 – If you enter an 1,000 man tournament, there’s a good chance you may be the only person who rosters Nicks. A couple of factors are in play here that makes me comfortable being that lone owner. The Lions have been solid against the run lately, but their secondary is weak. Plus, Victor Cruz is unlikely to play, which should lead to an increase in targets for Nicks. Maybe this week is the one he finally gets in the end zone.
Dennis Pitta, BAL, $5700 –Pitta is a great play this week in what could be a high scoring game. Joe Flacco and the Ravens could have to trade punches with Tom Brady, which would help Pitta’s cause. He’s a great red zone target and should be near 100 percent after missing the first 12 games of the season.
Nick Novak, SD, $5200 – I like the Chargers to put up a bunch of points in what could be a shootout. Weather shouldn’t be an issue and Novak has hit over 90 percent of his field goal attempts including only one miss at home.
Detroit Lions Defense, $5700 – Eli Manning can’t be playing with any amount of confidence right now and the Giants aren’t playing for anything but draft position. The Lions, on the other hand, are in the playoff hunt and desperately need a win. Throw in Jeremy Ross, who has returned two kicks for touchdowns this season, and I’m sold here.