This article is part of our DFS Tournament Guide series.
This guide focuses strictly on the main slate of Sunday afternoon games, with recommendations meant to be used for large-field, GPP tournaments. Player prices will only be mentioned for the two largest DFS sites, though much of what's discussed can be applied throughout the industry.
Variance and low ownership are desirable in large DFS tournaments, but we still need a few building-block players that are strong bets to outperform their price tags even if they don't have the highest ceilings and/or are likely to be popular plays. We'll also want to keep a close eye on injury situations with potential to create value for teammates (this is covered at the bottom of the page).
RB Spencer Ware, KC (at OAK), ($4,000 DK; $5,200 FD)
Even with the likelihood of the highest ownership on any DFS main slate all season, Ware is too good of a value to pass up as he ascends to the lead role for a high-powered offense in a cupcake matchup with the Raiders. No team has surrendered more rushing yards per game (151) and only four have allowed more yards per carry (4.9). The Chiefs are still massive favorites (-14) without Kareem Hunt, who was averaging 109 scrimmage yards and 1.3 touchdowns per game. Don't be surprised if Ware lands not too far from those numbers, given his career averages of 4.7 YPC, 11.6 yards per reception and 8.5 per target. He's made the most of his limited opportunities this season, posting a 22-124-1 rushing line (5.6 YPC) and 14-165-0 receiving line on 17 targets (9.7 YPT). Ware shouldn't have much trouble outproducing his price tag even if he loses some work to Damien Williams and/or Darrel Williams.
TE Eric Ebron, IND (at JAC), ($4,200 DK; $5,600 FD)
Here's another one where the value is so good that it outweighs the certainty of massive ownership, with Ebron staring at a reliable workload now that Jack Doyle (kidney) is done for the season. The 25-year-old's red-zone usage kept him productive while Doyle was healthy, but we also saw the floor that comes with a depressed snap count when Ebron was held off the scoresheet two weeks ago versus Tennessee. He was a consistent force when Doyle missed time with a hip injury earlier this season, averaging 52.8 snaps, 10 targets, 5.2 catches, 56 yards and 0.8 touchdowns in a five-game stretch. Ebron has actually reached the end zone more often with Doyle in the lineup, but we now get the same TD upside combined with a safe floor of at least four or five targets. While the matchup here isn't optimal, Ebron did roast the Jaguars for 71 yards and a trio of touchdowns (one rushing) in Week 10, with fellow tight ends Doyle (3-36-0) and Mo Alie-Cox (2-28-1) also contributing. Ebron may be the only show in town for Week 13, as Alie-Cox (calf) has already been ruled out and Erik Swoope (knee) is questionable to return from a four-game absence.
Panthers at Buccaneers
At this point we can pretty much just say it's a permanent feature of this column to discuss the Bucs as part of a pass-game stack. Jameis Winston ($6,000 DK; $7,500 FD) once again carries a favorable price on both major sites, facing a Panthers defense ranked 19th in yard allowed per pass attempt (7.7) and ninth in yards allowed per carry (4.1). The matchup only figures to exacerbate the Buccaneers' pass-heavy tendency, especially with Carolina favored by 3.5 points in a game with a 54.5 over/under.
DeSean Jackson's absence due to a thumb injury makes Chris Godwin ($3,900 DK; $5,400 FD) the best stacking partner with Winston, though there's also an argument to be made for Mike Evans ($8,100 DK; $7,900 FD), Adam Humphries ($4,200 DK; $6,000 FD) and Cameron Brate ($3,700 DK; $4,900 FD). Just remember that Godwin has been nearly as productive as Evans on a per-snap basis, averaging four catches for 52 yards per game while splitting work with Jackson. The second-year wideout also happens to be tied for third in the NFL with nine targets inside the 10-yard line, converting four of those into scores.
I'll discuss my hesitance to use Carolina wide receivers at greater length below, but that won't stop me from using Cam Newton ($6,600 DK; $8,700 FD) and/or Christian McCaffrey ($8,800 DK; $8,800 FD) as part of these game stacks. I do find it interesting that Newton and McCaffrey haven't been having their huge fantasy outings in the same weeks of late, consider the opposite was true last season and into September this year. This is a good enough spot to use both in the same lineup, though my preference for Winston over Newton points me toward the Winston-McCaffrey-Godwin stack in most cases.
Vikings at Patriots
Unlike the aforementioned Panthers-Bucs contest, this isn't a case of trying to target weak defenses, but rather an effort to take advantage of the possibility of heightened passing volume. The Vikings have safely established a strong preference for their passing attack, ranking 29th in run play rate (33.6 percent) despite owning a 6-4-1 record and +19 scoring differential. In fact, we just saw Kirk Cousins ($5,500 DK; $7,600 FD) attempt 38 passes last week against Green Bay in a game the Vikings led by at least seven points throughout the entire fourth quarter.
Now playing as a five-point underdog on the road in a game with a 49.5 over/under, Cousins is in a good spot to exceed his lofty average of 40.6 passes per game (third most). Stefon Diggs (knee) has a poor track record when playing through injuries, but there's a ton to like about teammate Adam Thielen, who I'll discuss at greater length below.
The Patriots' side is a bit trickier because they actually have a balanced offense, though there is some upside for passing volume against a Minnesota defense ranked fourth in YPC (3.7) and fifth in rushing yards allowed (94 per game). There's an argument to be made for each of Rob Gronkowski ($5,400 DK; $6,700 FD), Julian Edelman ($7,100 DK; $7,200 FD) and Josh Gordon ($5,900 DK; $6,600 FD), though Edelman is overpriced on DraftKings. Tom Brady ($5,800 DK; $7,900 FD) maybe isn't the worst contrarian play, but Cousins has a much better volume projection at a lower price. Cousins-Thielen-Gronkowski is my favorite stack, though I might shift toward Cousins-Thielen-Gordon if Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes (hamstring) doesn't play.
While not nearly as important as quarterback-receiver combos, RB-Defense mini-stacks present another opportunity to take advantage of positive correlations in tournament lineups. We're generally looking for teams that are comfortably favored to win, preferably with a starting running back who dominates goal-line and clock-killing work.
Aaron Jones ($6,700 DK; $7,600 FD) + Packers D/ST ($2,800 DK; $4,400 FD)
Coming off three straight games with at least 16 touches, 93 scrimmage yards, one TD and a snap share above 73 percent, Jones will take aim at an Arizona defense ranked 20th in yards allowed per carry (4.5) and 30th in rushing yards allowed per game (145). No team has given up more touchdowns (16) on the ground, while only the Bucs and Bengals have surrendered more total scores to running backs. The argument for the Green Bay defense is nearly as obvious, with the Cardinals ranked 18th in sacks allowed (30) and tied for 27th in turnovers (22). Playing behind a terrible offensive line with limited weapons at his disposal, Josh Rosen is 31st among 34 qualified passers in interception rate (4.5) and 28th in sack rate (8.9). Any scenario featuring 30-plus attempts for the rookie is a favorable one for a Green Bay defense that already has 36 sacks (tied for fourth). The Packers have struggled in the takeaway department (12, t-22nd), but they should come up with at least one or two while playing as 14-point favorites this week. The possibility of snow and wind in Green Bay on Sunday is a nice bonus here.
Phillip Lindsay ($5,400 DK; $7,000 FD) + Broncos D/ST ($2,700 DK; $4,500 FD)
The pricing for this duo really stands out on DraftKings, where we get an incredible combination of value and upside with Denver favored by five points for the first start of Jeff Driskel's career. The Broncos are coming off back-to-back wins over the Chargers and Steelers, led by 189 rushing yards and three scores from Lindsay, who has now reached double-digit DK points in 10 of 11 games. His mark of 5.8 yards per carry is good for fourth place among 49 qualified rushers, while the slumping Bengals rank 24th in YPC allowed (4.7) and 31st in rushing yards allowed per game (148). The prices may not be as friendly on FanDuel, but the ceiling is still high enough to justify the cost.
WR Adam Thielen, MIN (at NE), ($8,100 DK; $8,000 FD)
Thielen lands in a perfect spot to soak up massive volume, playing as a five-point underdog against a Patriots squad that faces 39.9 pass attempts per game (third most). There is some reason to worry about efficiency against a solid pass defense with teammate Stefon Diggs (knee) possibly absent or limited, but it's a concern that should be safely outweighed by the possibility of a 15-target outing. In any case, Diggs appears to have the more difficult matchup among Minnesota wideouts, likely squaring off with elite cornerback Stephon Gilmore on the perimeter while Thielen takes aim at some combination of Jason McCourty, J.C. Jackson and Jonathan Jones in the slot. If you prefer a more simplistic outlook, consider that Thielen ranks first among wideouts on the main slate in scoring average on DK (25.9) and second on FD (19.2), yet he's priced at WR4 on the former and WR6 on the latter. My only concern with rostering Thielen is the sacrifice in budget allocated to the RB position, where Todd Gurley ($9,300 DK; $9,800 FD) and Christian McCaffrey ($8,800 DK; $8,800 FD) both land in potential blow-up spots this weekend.
Fading The Field
Every week we see at least one or two players carrying high ownership without the backing of a top point-per-dollar projection. Recency bias is often the motivating factor, as many DFSers subconsciously overestimate the predictive value of recent results.
WR D.J. Moore, CAR (at TB), ($5,600 DK; $6,400 FD)
Given his talent, recent production and elite matchup, Moore undeniably offers an impressive ceiling relative to his price tag, yet he won't be a part of my Week 13 lineups. The reason? His ceiling no longer comes with the complement of a steady floor, as Torrey Smith and now Devin Funchess (back) have rejoined an offense powered by Newton and McCaffrey. The competition for targets creates enough uncertainty to warrant a fade when we know Moore will come with high ownership. I'd rather look further down the price scale for a player like Godwin, or else spend a bit more for the target security that comes with Golladay, Woods or Emmanuel Sanders.
RB Carlos Hyde, JAC (vs. IND), ($3,300 DK; $5,000 FD)
Leonard Fournette's one-game suspension leaves Hyde as the likely leader of the Jacksonville rushing attack, but I'm not sure how much that's worth as a four-point underdog against an Indianapolis defense ranked seventh in YPC (4.0). The Colts presumably will focus on shutting down the run, forcing Cody Kessler to win the game while quite possibly playing from behind. I'd rather take advantage of the situation with T.J. Yeldon ($4,400 DK; $4,800 FD), who also figures to handle some of the rushing work and is averaging 5.2 catches per game in the six contests Fournette has already missed this season. The Colts have yielded the second most receptions (80) to running backs, including a combined 10-107-1 receiving line for Yeldon and Fournette just three weeks ago. Hyde has yet to catch pass in four games for the Jaguars while eeking out just 93 yards on 27 carries (3.4 average).
The Bargain Bin
QB Case Keenum, DEN (at CIN), ($5,200 DK; $6,900 FD)
QB Chase Daniel, CHI (at NYG), ($4,800 DK; $6,000 FD)
QB Jeff Driskel, CIN (vs. DEN), ($4,500 DK; $6,400 FD)
RB Lamar Miller, HOU (vs. CLE), ($4,600 DK; $6,300 FD)
RB Tevin Coleman, ATL (vs. BAL), ($4,500 DK; $6,200 FD)
RB T.J. Yeldon, JAC (vs. IND), ($4,400 DK; $4,800 FD)
RB Jordan Howard, CHI (at NYG), ($4,000 DK; $5,700 FD)
RB LeGarrette Blount, DET (vs. LAR), ($3,900 DK; $5,600 FD)
RB Peyton Barber, TB (vs, CAR), ($3,700 DK; $5,800 FD)
WR Adam Humphries, TB (vs. CAR), ($4,200 DK; $6,000 FD)
WR Taylor Gabriel, CHI (at NYG), ($4,200 DK; $5,300 FD)
WR Quincy Enunwa, NYJ (at TEN), ($4,100 DK; $5,200 FD)
WR Chris Godwin, TB (vs. CAR), ($3,900 DK; $5,400 FD)
WR Marcell Ateman, OAK (vs. KC), ($3,600 DK; $4,600 FD)
WR Bruce Ellington, DET (vs. LAR), ($3,500 DK; $4,900 FD)
TE Matt LaCosse, DEN (at CIN), ($2,500 DK; $4,700 FD)
D/ST Browns, (at HOU), ($2,300 DK; $3,200 FD)
Pricing Discrepancies Between FD and DK
I find myself targeting the same correlation plays on both major sites, but there are a few interesting differences, starting with my affinity for using a tight end in the flex spot on DK. I typically prefer the ceiling of a wideout or running back, but there's enough value at TE this week to justify doubling up with some combination of Ebron, LaCosse, Gronkowski and Travis Kelce ($7,000), or perhaps even Greg Olsen ($4,100) in a Newton lineup (or Brate in a Winston lineup).
The other big difference is at the top of the RB market, where Saquon Barkley ($7,900 DK; $8,600 FD) is much cheaper than Gurley and McCaffrey on DraftKings. We might as well pay a little more for the better matchups on FanDuel, but the discount does pique my interest on DK.
Injury Situation(s) to Monitor
With so much value already available at every position, there's really only one injury I'm keeping an eye on this weekend, and that's largely because I'm worried about how Diggs' presence (or lack thereof) will impact Cousins. Thielen is an elite play with or without Diggs in the lineup, but I'm a bit worried about the Minnesota quarterback if he has to face a solid defense with Laquon Treadwell and Aldrick Robinson both getting regular snaps. Cousins had his worst fantasy outing of the season when Diggs missed Week 9 against the Lions, though it was largely a product of game context with Detroit dominating possession despite playing from behind. I'll have more confidence in the Cousins-Thielen-Gronk stack if Diggs is active for the game (which it looks like he will be).
Weather is more of a concern than it was the past few weeks, particularly in Green Bay where the Sunday forecast calls for light snow and wind around 20 miles per hour. The possibility of weather impacting the game further contributes to my belief that Aaron Jones and the Packers D/ST are the best plays from this contest.
There aren't any other precipitation concerns as of Friday, but we do need to keep an eye on CAR-TB, DEN-CIN, IND-JAX and NYJ-TEN for the possibility of wind impacting passing attacks. While current projections fall in the non-problematic 10-15 mph range, it may affect my lineups if any of the forecasts push toward 20 mph.