Thanksgiving is over and we're now in the home stretch of the NFL season. Only five weeks remain in the 2017 regular season and while the playoffs will provide us some DFS opportunities, these final weeks are where the money is made and we really have our last opportunities to cash in on some of FanDuel's biggest contest.
As always, we'll focus on FanDuel's main slate of Sunday games which will give us all 14 Sunday games to work from and build our lineups. When we build lineups, it all starts at the quarterback position and naturally that's where we'll start this week. So, let's take a look at our top quarterback plays, value targets and players we'll want to avoid for Week 13.
Russell Wilson, SEA v. PHI, ($8,200)
While Wilson will face a Philadelphia Eagles defense that allowed the fewest FanDuel points to opposing quarterbacks over the last four weeks, he becomes a top target for us given how much weight he carries on this offense as a passer and the team's best running option. When a quarterback offers the ability to rush for 40-plus yards and serve as the team's featured runner near the goal line, it's easy to identify him as a top target.
It's first important to note that Philadelphia's recent stretch of dominance against opposing quarterbacks is in part due to its schedule. Four straight weeks with matchups against Brock Osweiler, C.J. Beathard, Mitchell Trubisky and a Cowboys' offense in a slump. Wilson will face plenty of pressure from the Eagles' pass rush, but should be able to evade pressure and rack up rushing yards in this game. If he can give you a rushing touchdown or 45-plus rushing yards and top it off with 250-plus yards and two passing touchdowns, that's a 20-plus point FanDuel performance.
Philip Rivers, LAC @ CLE, ($8,000)
Perhaps our favorite quarterback on the slate, Rivers offers the combo of value, a quality matchup and upside. He comes in as the sixth-most expensive quarterback on Sunday's slate, which may seem high, but it serves as a value given his top-four upside and the chance to save $200-$300 bucks to spend on a running back or wide receiver upgrade.
Rivers and the Chargers come in on a hot streak with two straight wins and the opportunity to jump atop the division. Rivers tore apart the Cowboys' secondary in Week 12 and posted 28 FanDuel points. Now he'll face a Browns' defense that will likely have no answer for Keenan Allen and Hunter Henry. Allen, who can line up in the slot and avoid Browns' cornerback Jason McCourty is back on track as an elite fantasy play and will be a top-five receiver this week. Meanwhile, Henry is again emerging as a dynamic threat in this offense. Pair that with a few deep shots to Tyrell Williams and you can picture a 325-plus yard, three-touchdown performance by Rivers. Meanwhile, you'd need to spend an extra $1,100 to get similar numbers from Tom Brady.
Brett Hundley, GB v. TB, ($6,400)
If you're building cash-game lineups and want to start things off with bargain buys at quarterback to open up the rest of your lineup for playmakers at the other skill positions, Hundley requires a significant portion of shares on Sunday. Facing a Pittsburgh Steelers defense that ranked third in DVOA against the pass, Hundley tore them apart for 245 passing yards and three touchdowns. The offensive line gave him time to throw against a great pass rush and he took advantage, delivering a 22-point FanDuel performance.
Now he'll return to Green Bay and face a much easier opponent. The Tamp Bay Buccaneers have allowed the sixth-most FanDuel points over the last four weeks to opposing quarterbacks and that number would be even higher if Matt Ryan threw the touchdown pass to Julio Jones rather than wide receiver Mohamed Sanu. Tampa Bay's pass rush will likely struggle to put consistent pressure on Hundley and given time to throw, he will hook up with Davante Adams, Randall Cobb and his running backs on plenty of occasions.
With top-12 upside, Hundley should be played in at least a quarter of your cash-game lineups. His rushing ability, with Green Bay incorporating more of the run-pass option, makes him an even greater threat to turn in a big fantasy performance.
Trevor Siemian, DEN @ MIA, ($6,200)
Siemian is not a popular name for football fans and he is part of the Denver Broncos struggles this season, but it's impossible to deny that he does offer value this week. At $6,200, Siemian only needs to post 200-plus yards and a touchdown to surpass his expected value for Week 13. Given his matchup against the Miami Dolphins and surrounding talent, that is very possible.
In the last four weeks, Miami allowed the most FanDuel points to opposing quarterbacks (96.53) and surrendered the second-most passing touchdowns per game (2.75) over that same span. While Siemian is far from one of the most reliable quarterbacks in the NFL he showed over the past two seasons he can put the football in the hands of his pass catchers. Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders still offer big-play ability and running back Devontae Booker can do some work catching passes out of the backfield and make things happen.
As a low-end play in cash games, Siemian is worth the gamble as he allows DFS users to spend up significantly at running back and wide receiver.
Quarterbacks to Avoid
Marcus Mariota, TEN v. HOU, ($7,400)
The price and matchup are going to tempt DFS users, they even tempted me to not include Mariota on this list. His price seems like a bargain given his matchup against a Houston Texans defense that allowed the eighth-most FanDuel points to quarterbacks after 12 weeks. His rushing ability against a bad defense and his wide receiver corps against this secondary, it's all so inviting for a fantasy blowup game.
Unfortunately, Mariota just isn't showing he can be counted on in fantasy football. In his last seven games, Mariota threw more interceptions (11) than touchdowns (six) and it's not particularly close. Meanwhile, the rushing ability we once loved now seems absent with single-digit rushing yards in five of his last six games. Perhaps the ankle is still bothering him and limits his ability to run, but a bad ankle doesn't explain the numerous bad decisions he makes on throws every single week. This is a trap play and many will fall for it just because of the price and matchup, but we need to stay far away from Mariota until he proves himself worthy of starting.
Matthew Stafford, DET @ BAL, ($7,700)
While Stafford may tough it out and play in Week 13 despite an ankle injury sustained last week, his toughness won't land DFS users any additional fantasy points. He will be hobbled and it could impact his throws, which makes his matchup against a stout Baltimore Ravens defense even worse than it already could have been.
Baltimore's pass defense ranks second against the pass in Football Outsiders' DVOA, even better than the eighth-ranked DVOA defense Stafford faced last week in the Minnesota Vikings. Stafford finished that game with 250 passing yards, two touchdowns and an interception, an acceptable performance but not quite what you'd seek from a high-end quarterback. That performance also required Marvin Jones to turn in a career-best performance against one of the league's best cornerbacks.
It's difficult to see that happening again and because of it, Stafford's stat line could be kept to one touchdown and sub-260 yards. Given his price, that's someone we absolutely want to avoid this week both in cash-game and GPP contests.