Originally posted: December 1, 2017
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It’s been a crazy season that has flown by even faster than usual. But here we are, hurtling headfirst toward the playoffs like a Ryan Fitzpatrick-slide. It seems like every week we have at least one new starter at quarterback, with many teams on their third starting signal caller. It’s been very useful for fantasy value plays. Quarterback is the safest position to punt with a cheap player because of the inherently high floor. They’re guaranteed to touch the ball on virtually every offensive snap as long as they’re not in danger of being benched. This week brings my favorite new starter and value quarterback play of the season.
Jimmy Garoppolo (SF): $6,300 @ CHI
This is a pleasant surprise. I thought the 49ers would keep Jimmy Garappolo on the bench all season – and maybe they would have, if not for the injury to CJ Beathard. Jimmy G came in for two plays and they were the best two plays by a San Francisco quarterback all season (this may or may not be a minor exaggeration), but that is a low bar. Honestly, it’s hard to know what to make of Garappolo. We’ve been told for years now about how good he is. We even hear crazy, crazy rumors about the Patriots trading Tom Brady. All we know for sure about Garappolo is that he had two excellent starts for the Patriots last year, throwing for four touchdowns and no interceptions and looking every bit as good as we’d been promised.
That’s enough to justify his salary this week. He might not have the stellar supporting cast that he had on the Patriots, but Garrapolo may have lit a spark for his team that has been missing all year. He’ll get a good opportunity to fan those flames against the Bears, who have struggled in all phases this season. If we only look at fantasy points allowed, the Bears seem like a tough matchup, ranking 22nd, but it’s more complicated than that. They had two great but atypical games (against Joe Flacco and Cam Newton), snagging two picks in each. Those are the only four picks they’ve had all year, compared to 14 touchdowns. Consider this Drew Brees stat line against them a few weeks ago: 23 for 28, 299 yards, no touchdowns or interceptions. Despite an 82% completion rate and no turnovers, that’s fewer than 12 fantasy points. But it’d be grossly inaccurate to say that the Bears pass defense performed well in that game.
Over their last four games (which includes the Drew Brees game above), they’ve allowed 999 yards passing on 71.5% completions, with six touchdowns allowed and no interceptions. They’ve managed nine sacks. Jimmy Garappolo ranks third in our Value Play tool for good reason. He could have a huge day against this defense.
Jamaal Williams (GB): $5,700 vs. TB
It’s likely that Ty Montgomery and Aaron Jones will remain out against the Buccaneers. That would leave Jamaal Williams once again the last man standing, a role that has gotten him a heavy workload the last three weeks. The Tampa Bay run defense isn’t quite as bad as their pass defense, but they’ve still allowed the tenth-most fantasy points to running backs. Williams could use the extra help. His volume hasn’t wavered, getting 21, 24, and 26 touches during the last three games, respectively. However, his efficiency has been lacking; he’s averaging only 3.2 yards per carry. He’s managed one touchdown on the ground. Williams has seen an increased role catching passes out of the backfield in the last two games. He’s turned 11 targets into eight catches, 107 yards, and one touchdown.
If Montgomery or Jones plays, Williams will probably see his role vanish. As it stands, his salary is absurdly low for the kind of volume he’s getting. He’s the top-ranked running back in our Value Play tool.
Devontae Booker (DEN): $5,600 @ MIA
The Broncos offense is a mess. But Trevor Siemian will be back under center in Miami this week and he has (sadly) been the best Broncos quarterback this season. Devontae Booker was expected to see a lot of touches last week, but Denver fell apart and fell behind, abandoning the run. He has still out-snapped and out-touched nominal starter CJ Anderson for two weeks running now. The coaching staff has been talking Booker up. They also seem to have accepted that Jamaal Charles is no longer the elite player he used to be. Booker is eating into Charles’ and Anderson’s workloads.
If he does get the touches this week, he should have no trouble converting them into fantasy points. The Dolphins defense has been sad all year long. They’ve surrendered the seventh-most fantasy points to running backs. And they’ve just lost defensive end William Hayes, their best run defender, for the season. It’s only going to get worse, which is good news for Devontae Booker.
Zay Jones (BUF): $4,500 @ NE
Why is FanDuel giving away Zay Jones? Do they think Nathan Peterman is starting? I admit that the Patriots defense has improved recently, but minimum salary for a team’s number one wide receiver is unheard of. Jones has averaged 7.6 targets per game over his last five games, including 10 last week. He’s also been targeted in the red zone in each of the last three games, resulting in two touchdowns. New England has allowed the sixth-most fantasy points so far, though that number is coming down. But it could drop another 10 spots before I’d even think about fading Zay at this price.
Dede Westbrook (JAC): $4,700 vs. IND
It’s a strange week at the wide receiver position, with several massive values available. Dede Westbrook has hit the ground running to start his NFL career. In his debut two weeks ago, he saw six targets. Then last week, that number jumped to 10. The rookie out of Oklahoma hasn’t converted them into much yet (nine catches for 76 yards), but he’s getting looks from Blake Bortles. Considering Bortles has only attempted 66 passes in those two games, Westbrook’s 16 targets amount to a huge 24% market share.
The Colts defense is bad and getting worse. They lead the league in points allowed with 300 – more than 27 points per game. They’re third in passing yards allowed, behind only the Patriots and the Buccaneers. In fantasy points allowed to wide receivers, they rank eighth. The Jaguars are making an effort to get Dede Westbrook the ball and he’s got a great opportunity for a breakout game against Indianapolis.
Jared Cook (OAK): $5,500 vs. NYG
Another week, another tight end against the Giants who’s just too cheap. It’s anyone’s guess what the Redskins were thinking last week when they threw the ball to Vernon Davis only once and Niles Paul five times, but Davis was the first featured tight end to have a bad game against the Giants this season. They have a stranglehold on the most fantasy points given up to tight ends, with their 12.2 points per game average dwarfing second-place Denver’s 10.8 points per game.
Jared Cook is a talented tight end in a great spot. He was already averaging the eighth-most targets among tight ends (5.9 per game). Now Michael Crabtree has been suspended for his fight with Aqib Talib and Amari Cooper is doubtful to play with a concussion. That leaves Seth Roberts, Cordarrelle Patterson, and Johnny Holton as the Raiders’ three starting wide receivers. Something tells me we’ll see a lot of Jared Cook and he couldn’t ask for a better matchup. He’s easily the top value tight end in our tool.
Josh Lambo (JAC): $4,600 vs. IND
One thing is certain every week: points will be scored against the Colts. They have the dubious honor of allowing the most points so far this season (300). It doesn’t matter that it’s the Jaguars. In their first meeting this season, Josh Lambo nailed two field goals and all three extra points as the Jaguars cruised to a 27-0 victory. They’re heavy favorites again this week and Lambo will be involved, whether it’s field goals when the offense stalls, or extra points from a defensive touchdown. Who knows, they may even score an offensive touchdown. The Colts have allowed the fourth-most kicker fantasy points this year. Lambo ranks fourth in our Value Play tool.
Denver Broncos D/ST: $4,600 @ MIA
The struggles of the Denver defense have been much more surprising than their offensive woes. The Denver D/ST has scored double digit fantasy points only once this season – back in Week 2. It’s only because they’re facing the helpless Miami Dolphins offense at a steeply discounted salary that they’re playable, especially with Aqib Talib suspended. The Dolphins have scored 21 or more points just twice all season.
Jay Cutler will return from the concussion protocol this week. In a year that’s seen a lot of atrocious quarterback play, Cutler is right at home. Measured by Net Yards per Attempt (pass yards – sack yards lost/attempts), which is the most predictive quarterback statistic by itself, Cutler ranks 26th among the 28 quarterbacks who have attempted 250 or more passes. His 5.56 NY/A is better than only Deshone Kizer and Joe Flacco. He has the fourth-highest interception rate, behind Kizer, Mariota, and Siemian. Only Flacco has thrown for fewer yards per game than Cutler’s 178 average. The Dolphins are also down to only Kenyan Drake and recent practice squad-signee De’Veon Smith at running back, after their questionable trade of Jay Ajayi and an injury to Damien Williams.
No Talib hurts, but the Broncos should have enough talent left on defense to deal with a Miami Dolphins team that seems to have checked out for the year already.
Source: Fantasy Pros
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