Last week I recommended using a running back in the flex spot, as there were three players ó Todd Gurley, Carlos Hyde and Bilal Powell ó that profiled as elite options based on their prices. None of the three lived up to expectations, and yet I still had a comfortably profitable week thanks to my heavy reliance on Sterling Shepard, the Rams defense and a Kirk Cousins-Vernon Davis stack. Weird how that works out...itís a nice reminder that even when Iím right Iím usually half-wrong (and maybe vice versa?).
In any case, Week 11 points in a very different direction, offering a grand total of zero running backs that I can actually get excited about. My favorite play at the position, Tevin Coleman, isnít available on the main slate because the Falcons play on Monday Night Football. The good news is that there are some strong mid-price options at wide receiver, which encourages me to revert to my usual DraftKings strategy of rostering two running backs and four receivers (rather than three apiece).
Also...Iím not writing up any of these players, but I think the Texans have a trio of interesting discount options in the form of RB Lamar Miller ($5,000), WR Bruce Ellington ($3,000) and TE C.J. Fiedorowicz ($3,100). With Will Fuller (ribs) sidelined and DeAndre Hopkins drawing shadow coverage from Patrick Peterson, the Texans figure to rely on at least one of the three aforementioned players in a high-volume role. Iíll likely have one or the other in most of my lineups, freeing up room for the likes of Todd Gurley or Mark Ingram, even though I donít love either this week.
Here are my favorite DraftKings tournament plays for Week 11, picking from the main slate that only includes games on Sunday afternoon. The focus here is on value more so than projected ownership, but itís still a nice bonus if a player doesnít figure to be a popular choice.
Tom Brady, NE (at OAK), $7,400 - Iím not sure how this is possible for the best QB in NFL history, but it sure seems like Bradyís phenomenal season isnít getting the proper appreciation, likely because the Patriots have struggled in the red zone. Heís nonetheless tied for second in the league with 19 touchdowns while also boasting a completion percentage (67.3) and YPA (8.2) that are essentially identical to last seasonís marks. Facing an Oakland defense thatís best described as an absolute joke, Brady should be good for a 300-yard bonus and multiple touchdowns if the Raiders offense can hold up its end of the bargain by keeping the game at least somewhat competitive. New Englandís implied total (31 points) is the highest of the week, and Oaklandís (24) is easily the highest for any underdog. The Raiders defense is allowing a 110.5 passer rating, which actually is higher than Bradyís mark of 108.4.
Other options: Derek Carr, OAK (vs. NE), $6,400; Kirk Cousins, WAS (at NO), $6,100; Eli Manning, NYG (vs. KC), $5,700; Jay Cutler, MIA (vs. TB), $5,400
Doug Martin, TB (at MIA), $4,500 - Tough against the run at the beginning of the season, Miami has completely fallen off since Week 5, allowing running backs to tally at least 4.8 yards per carry in four of the last five games. The past three weeks were especially brutal, with Alex Collins, Marshawn Lynch and Jonathan Stewart all enjoying their best games of the season while playing the Dolphins. Martin has been stuck in an ugly slump since returning from suspension with a pair of solid outings, but itís at least worth noting that matchups (Saints, Jets, Panthers) have played a role. Heís still averaging 15.5 carries per game, and he could push for 20-25 if he gets off to a strong start and the Bucs jump out to a lead. Martin probably wonít do much if he struggles early on, admittedly making this a risky pick. It does help that Ndamukong Suh (knee) likely will be playing at less than 100 percent.
Joe Mixon, CIN (at DEN), $4,000 - The Broncos had been fantastic against the run until the past two weeks when they allowed New England and Philadelphia running backs to combine for 289 yards and four touchdowns on the ground. The Bengals are an extreme long shot to continue the streak of enormous production, but they donít need to do so in order for Mixon to pay off his price and then some. The rookie has landed between 8.8 and 13.6 DK points in seven consecutive games, suggesting heís just one break away from providing a 4x (or even 5x) return on this salary. With Jeremy Hill (ankle) on injured reserve, the only threat to Mixonís workload comes from Giovani Bernard, who gets most of his work when the Bengals are in catch-up mode. Theyíll likely avoid that fate this week, listed as 2.5-point underdogs against a Denver team thatís lost five in a row. Mixon can be stacked with the Cincinnati defense if you want a nice way to double down on betting against Brock Osweiler as well as the Broncosí shaky offensive line and special teams. Even the defense has been mediocre since Denver came back from a Week 5 bye.
Other options: Todd Gurley, LAR (at MIN), $8,400; Mark Ingram, NO (vs. WAS), $8,100; Chris Thompson, WAS (at NO), $5,400; Lamar Miller, HOU (vs. ARI), $5,000; Kenyan Drake, MIA (vs. TB), $4,800; Alex Collins, BAL (at GB), $3,900
Sterling Shepard, NYG (vs. KC), $6,300 - Shepard more than earned his spot in this space for a second straight week, turning 13 targets into 11 catches for 142 yards while playing from behind against a lousy San Francisco secondary. Itíll likely be more of the same this weekend with the Giants listed as 10.5-point underdogs for a matchup with a Kansas City team that gives up the most fantasy points in the league to wide receivers. Sub par in terms of both pass rush and coverage, the Chiefs have allowed opposing wideouts to produce 8.2 yards per target while turning one out of every 13.7 opportunities into a touchdown. Shepardís role in the slot means he wonít have see much of Marcus Peters, the Chiefsí only above-average cornerback.
Jeremy Maclin, BAL (at GB), $4,500 - Coming out of a bye week, Maclin is absent from the Baltimore injury report for the first time since Week 4, finally returning to full health ahead of a juicy matchup with a Green Bay defense thatís given up 8.8 yards per target and a 64.3 percent catch rate to wide receivers. The 29-year-old primarily works from the slot, which means heíll frequently be matched up with either Damarious Randall or Quinten Rollins, both of whom have bounced between being picked on and benched since entering the league in 2015. Maclin looked good despite playing through a shoulder injury before the bye week, combining for 11 catches, 152 yards and a touchdown on 14 targets between Week 8 against Miami and Week 9 in Tennessee.
Jamison Crowder, WAS (at NO), $4,300 - Led by cornerbacks Marshon Lattimore and Ken Crawley ó not to mention a dominant rushing attack that dominates possession ó the Saints shockingly have become a difficult matchup for opposing offenses, ranking top 10 in DK points allowed to QBs, RBs, WRs and TEs. Crowder nonetheless makes for an excellent option at this too-low price, and he also allows me to continue with the general theme of targeting slot receivers in favorable matchups. Lattimore and Crawley figure to lock down the Redskinsí unproductive outside receivers, leaving Crowder with a major comparative advantage in the slot against Kenny Vaccaro (groin) or P.J. Williams. The matchup only figures to exacerbate Kirk Cousinsí preference for targeting Crowder, Vernon Davis and Chris Thompson, which should allow two of the three to have productive outings ó assuming Jordan Reed doesnít play ó even if the Redskins canít quite hang with the Saints. It wonít come as any surprise if Crowder gets double-digit targets for a third straight game.
Other options: Michael Thomas, NO (vs. WAS), $7,400; A.J. Green, CIN (at DEN), $7,000; Larry Fitzgerald, ARI (at HOU), $6,900; Stefon Diggs, MIN (vs. LAR), $6,700; Brandin Cooks, NE (at OAK), $6,600; DeVante Parker, MIA (vs. TB), $6,500; Amari Cooper, OAK (vs. NE), $6,000; Michael Crabtree, OAK (vs. NE), $5,900; Keenan Allen, LAC (vs. BUF), $5,900; Emmanuel Sanders, DEN (vs. CIN), $5,200; Bruce Ellington, HOU (vs. ARI), $3,000
Rob Gronkowski, NE (at OAK), $7,200 - Itís been way too long since I last Gronked, dating all the way back to Week 2 when he had his best outing of the season (26.6 DK points), starting a stretch in which he topped 22 DK points three times in four games. While it hasnít all come together at the same time since mid-October, the superstar tight end has still managed at least three catches, 51 yards and seven targets in each of his subsequent three games. With fellow red-zone target Chris Hogan (shoulder) likely sidelined, Gronk is in a good spot for his first blow-up performance since Week 6, facing an Oakland defense thatís allowing tight ends to produce a 71.4 percent catch rate and 7.8 yards per target. Ownership shouldnít get out of hand despite the expectation this game is a shootout, as Travis Kelce ($7,300) figures to absorb a lot of the action from those looking to spend up at tight end. While Kelce obviously offers plenty of upside, Iím worried about his volume in the event Kansas City cruises to an easy victory, given that Andy Reid isnít nearly as aggressive as Bill Belichick when playing with lead. I'm a big fan of the Brady-Gronkowski-Cooper stack this week.
Other options: Vernon Davis, WAS (at NO), $4,600; Charles Clay, BUF (at LAC), $3,900; C.J. Fiedorowicz, HOU (vs. ARI), $3,100; Julius Thomas, MIA (vs.TB), $2,800
Los Angeles Chargers (vs. BUF), $3,000 - The Bills picked an interesting spot to give fifth-round rookie Nathan Peterman his first start, facing a Chargers defense that ranks third in the league with 3.2 sacks per game, led by the prolific duo of Joey Bosa (9.5 sacks) and Melvin Ingram (8.5). The Bolts D/ST reached double-digit DK points in three of its last five games, including a monstrous 27-point performance in the only home game (Week 7 against Denver) during that stretch. The Bills have averaged only 15.8 points on the road this season, and itís hard to imagine Peterman is actually a short-term upgrade over Taylor.
Other options: Jacksonville Jaguars (at CLE), $4,000; Arizona Cardinals (at HOU), $3,200; Cincinnati Bengals (at DEN), $3,000; Chicago Bears (vs. DET), $2,700; Green Bay Packers (vs. BAL), $2,700