Safety is the name of the game in cash games, but FantasyDraft also pays out at least 25 percent of the field in every single contest, including tournaments, as well. This should motivate users to lean towards safe options in all formats on a site that puts #PlayersFirst. Without the top-heavy nature of tournaments, single entrants do not have to go with a “YOLO (you only live once)” mindset in tournaments, but can play for a solid cash instead. That makes life a whole lot easier.
Here are the “safe bets,” or players who can be inserted into lineups without fear of a dud, heading into Week 13:
Carson Palmer, Cardinals, $11,300 – In a matchup against the Falcons, Carson Palmer disappointed a bit by only finishing with 18.60 fantasy points. At the same time, he was priced so cheaply last week that his performance still put a fantasy team on pace for 177 fantasy points on a week where 115 was the cash line in most contests. In other words, 115 fantasy points was good enough to finish in the PayoutZone in most cash games on the site. After a decent performance, his price rose $800 in game where his team is implied to score the sixth most points of any team this week (26). His opponent, the Redskins, have allowed 253 yards passing per game and 14 passing TDs so far but they have now surrendered 31-plus real points in back-to-back games versus the Packers and Cowboys. Aaron Rodgers torched this defense for 351 yards and three TDs while Dak Prescott threw for 195 yards, one TD and rushed for 39 yards and a TD against this team as well. Both offenses are high-powered so once again the game flow favors the Cardinals needing to throw throughout the entirety of the game…especially on the road. With Kirk Cousins and the Redskins offense firing on all cylinders right now, I am projecting this game to be a back-and-forth slugfest when all said and done. With an over/under of 49.5, Palmer should have plenty of opportunities to find his suddenly deep supporting cast of pass-catchers (with the emergence of Jermaine Gresham and J.J. Nelson) enough to at least provide cash game value.
Jordan Howard, Bears, $13,000 – The price tag for backs facing the 49ers always creates a slight bit of doubt as to whether or not to roster the player. Basically, the price inflates as if they were a hitter heading to Coors Field…because they sort of are. Last week was an anomaly as three of the Dolphins’ best offensive linemen were deemed inactive and the backups just were not adequate talents. As for the Bears, well, two of their best offensive linemen were out as well last week but there is at least a chance Josh Sitton returns in Week 13. The difference here is Jordan Howard still managed 4.7 yards per carry (YPC) behind this offensive line last week against an average Titans rushing defense last week so he should be able to dominate this horrendous 49ers front seven. Coach John Fox can be fickle at times but it at least appears he has once again committed to Howard as his lead back after punking those who rostered him on Oct. 20 against the Packers. Any true workhorse back is worthy of a start against the 49ers, especially a talented one that contributes in the passing game (5-plus targets in consecutive games) as well, so start Howard with confidence this week.
Jeremy Hill, Bengals, $8,500 – Although Jeremy Hill only managed slightly over 14 fantasy points last week, the performance actually proved to be a pretty effective one on a per-dollar basis. He was only priced at $7,700 on FantasyDraft and he was facing literally the stoutest run defense in the entire NFL (according to Football Outsiders’ defense-adjusted value over average (DVOA) metric). Now, after a perceived mediocre performance, Hill will square off against another difficult rushing defense…so how is he safe? Well, Hill caught a career-high six passes last week and gained 61 yards via the passing game. It was the most yards he had gained via the air since Week 4 of his rookie season in 2014. With Giovani Bernard done for the season, the team appears committed to using him as a true bell cow including upping his target share in the offense. If so, he is simply way too cheap once again even in a difficult matchup. Considering he acts as the team’s goal line back as well, there are just so many ways that he could crush value.
Mike Evans, Buccaneers, $16,200 – Once again, Mike Evans proved he is a WR1 in the truest form this weekend. In his matchups against some of the game’s best corners, Evans has fared pretty well: 5-59 against Aqib Talib, 6-70-1 against Patrick Peterson and now 8-104-2 against Richard Sherman last week. The Buccaneers will head to San Diego this weekend to face a Chargers team that has been slipping in effectiveness to opposing number one WRs since the injury to Jason Verrett. In fact, they have fallen all the way to 12th against opposing number one WRs according to DVOA. Evans moves around the formation as much as almost any receiver as he has lined up on the left side 46-percent of the time, in the slot 19-percent of the time and on the right side 35-percent of the time. This means he will draw a matchup against some combination of Casey Hayward (Pro Football Focus’ fifth best cover corner per their grading system), Brandon Flowers and Craig Mager. Since Evans has flashed his ability to beat all the top corners, there is really nothing to worry about with Hayward especially considering Evans has at least five inches on him. If looking for a top receiver to spend up on without fear of a dud, Evans, amidst a season with 73 RECs, 1,020 yards and 10 TDs, is clearly your man.
Tyler Eifert, Bengals, $10,000 – Sans A.J. Green and Giovani Bernard, Tyler Eifert was targeted a whopping 11 times in Week 12. Without two of the staples in the passing game, Eifert should have been expected to see an uptick in volume and he fared pretty well considering the Ravens rank first in TE DVOA defense. So in the most difficult possible matchup on paper, Eifert caught five passes for 68 yards and a TD. If it were not for his monstrous 9-102-1 Week 8 against the Redskins, this would have rated as easily his best game of the season. With a difficult Eagles defense on the horizon, what is there to be worried about? If he can get it done in last week’s matchup then he can get it done in any game. He is clearly the top target in the offense which is pretty rare for a TE (especially one not named Rob Gronkowski or Greg Olsen). Considering the discount you get rostering Eifert comparatively to the likes of Gronkowski and Jordan Reed, he is an incredibly safe bet for a high floor at a reasonable price tag (especially with his significant role).