DraftKings NFL GPP Lineup Advice: Week 12 (2019)
Among this week’s suggested plays are a pair of standalone studs. Not all of the picks are easy to swallow, though, as one is a risky value play at running back as a one-off option. Also, three players comprise a game-stack that’s not for the faint of heart, as it’s from a game with an over/under total of only 41 points.
Patrick Laird (RB – MIA): $3,400 at Browns
Let’s jump right in with the value back. You might have heard, but Kalen Ballage isn’t good. In fact, he’s an awful running back. He’s averaging 1.9 yards per carry on 64 attempts this season, and he’s also averaging just 3.8 yards per reception on 13 receptions.
Among backs who’ve carried the ball between 17 and 87 times, Ballage’s -76 Defense-adjusted Yards Above Replacement (DYAR) are the worst, according to Football Outsiders (FO). He also has the third-worst Defense-adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA) mark at -37.6%, per FO. Ballage also has the distinction of ranking last in DYAR (-71) and DVOA (-76.5%) among backs who’ve been targeted at least 22 times. His level of ineptitude at the position is nothing short of remarkable.
It can’t be lost on Miami’s coaching staff how bad Ballage has played, and, to that end, they bumped up Laird’s playing time and touches last week. I discussed Laird’s increase in playing time and usage from Week 10 to Week 11 as part of this week’s Running Back Snap Count Analysis piece earlier in the week.
Where Laird’s shined most in his limited opportunities this year is as a pass-catcher. He’s played offensive snaps in just two games this year, and he’s reeled in all eight of his targets for 66 receiving yards, including a solid 6-51-0 line on six targets last week. In his last two years at Cal, Laird tallied 96 receptions in 24 games, good for 4.0 receptions per game, per Sports-Reference.
He wasn’t just a pass-catching specialist in college, either, rushing for over 2,000 yards in his last two years combined. He has underwhelming measurables, as you can see on his PlayerProfiler page, but he showed a well-rounded skill-set in college and was effective in the preseason, rushing for 114 yards at 4.6 yards per carry and adding three receptions for 31 yards, according to NFL.com.
For those who like video, check out the following complimentary tweet from Dolphins beat reporter Omar Kelly.
There is something about Patrick Laird I like, but I haven’t put my finger on it yet. He does this regularly in practice. I haven’t figured out if it’s his vision or an O-lineman he works with. pic.twitter.com/akG0AYBBbQ
— Omar Kelly (@OmarKelly) August 11, 2019
Also, watch him show off his skills as a pass-catcher out of the backfield in the following tweet of him scoring a touchdown for Cal against Oregon State on a wheel route.
— Pac-12 Network (@Pac12Network) October 20, 2018
Are stiff arms more of your thing?
That stiffarm tho 🔥
— Pac-12 Network (@Pac12Network) October 20, 2018
Finally, he shows off his leg drive on a preseason touchdown run.
and patrick laird is a lock on the 53-man roster and looks to be more explosive than mark walton. pic.twitter.com/6J3QM2XeSi
— josh houtz (@houtz) August 23, 2019
I’m sure with some searching, a compilation of Ballage highlights can look impressive, too. I’m not trying to suggest Laird is anything special. I am, however, suggesting he’s shown some promising traits that make him an intriguing option at just $400 above the minimum salary for a running back. A double-digit fantasy scoring output is attainable (remember, he attained that last week), and that plays at his salary.
Julio Jones (WR – ATL): $8,000 vs. Buccaneers
Jones’ allergies to the end zone have resurfaced. Since opening the year with at least a touchdown in each of the first three games of the year and four overall, he’s failed to reach pay dirt. During that seven-game stretch, though, he’s bested 100 receiving yards twice, eclipsed 90 receiving yards two more times, and caught six or more passes four times.
Jones is in his usual position near the top of the Intended Air Yards leaderboard, ranking fifth with 1,156 Intended Air Yards, according to Sports Info Solutions. Simply put, Jones is a weekly threat to blow up, and a matchup with the Buccaneers enhances the odds of this being a blow-up week.
The Buccaneers have allowed the most receiving yards (2,022) and receiving touchdowns (17) to wideouts this season, according to Pro-Football-Reference. They’ve also been annual burn victims of Jones. Personnel and coaches have changed, so the numbers should be taken with a grain of salt, but their struggles with receivers this year does little to suggest they’ll curb their failures keeping Jones in check. In his last four games against them starting with his first game against his NFC South rivals in 2017 and working chronologically toward his second game against them last year, he’s produced lines of 12-253-2, 3-54-0, 10-144-0, and 9-138-1. There’s ample value elsewhere to award gamers the ability to roster Jones as well as a forthcoming pricey back.
Alvin Kamara (RB – NO): $8,200 vs. Panthers
The Saints have a tasty implied total of 28.25 points this week, according to DraftKings Sportsbook. With all due respect to studly Michael Thomas, Kamara’s easily my favorite piece of exposure to the gaudy implied total. Last week, Kamara rushed for 75 yards on 13 carries on the road against a Buccaneers’ defense that FO ranks first in run defense DVOA. This week, he faces a Panthers defense FO ranks dead last in DVOA. Furthermore, FO ranks the Saints offensive line first in adjusted line yards. It gets better, though! Sharp Football credits the Panthers with the highest average explosive run rate at 16%.
Kamara’s running ability and matchup alone would make him worth a look, yet I haven’t even touched on his exceptional receiving exploits. He’s been targeted 20 times over the last two weeks combined, and he’s parlayed the looks into 18 receptions for 97 receiving yards. The Panthers have held backs to the fewest receptions (36) and fewest receiving yards (249), but Kamara’s not your average pass-catching threat as a back. Don’t let Carolina’s stout pass defense against running backs dissuade you from using Kamara and factoring in his receiving skills into his upside.
Derrick Henry (RB – TEN): $6,900 vs. Jaguars
Nick Foles (QB – JAC): $5,400 at Titans
D.J. Chark (WR – JAC): $6,400 at Titans
Kamara’s not the only back in this piece with a dreamy matchup. Henry takes aim at a Jaguars’ defense that FO ranks 30th in run defense DVOA that was just stomped by the Colts combo of Nyheim Hines, Jonathan Williams, and Marlon Mack for 236 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 30 carries. Those 236 rushing yards combined fall two yards short of the 238 Henry rumbled for against the Jaguars on 17 carries last December. Oh, and Henry punched in four touchdowns in that contest. When he faced the Jaguars earlier this year, he was held to 44 rushing yards and a touchdown while adding a reception for two yards.
Things have changed since that Week 3 matchup, namely both starting quarterbacks will be different in this contest. Ryan Tannehill supplanted Marcus Mariota for the starting quarterback job with the Titans after their Week 6 loss in Denver. In all four games with Tannehill starting, the team’s posted at least 20 points. They accomplished that feat only two times in their first six games. Henry’s thrived in a more competently quarterbacked offense. He’s tallied at least 83 yards from scrimmage in all four games and scored five touchdowns. His per-game averages in his last four games are 18.5 carries, 104.0 rushing yards, 1.75 targets, 1.75 receptions, and 16.25 receiving yards. Henry should eat this week, and I’m going to be overexposed to him.
Circling back to quarterbacks being different since the AFC South battle between these foes back in Week 3, Foles is back at quarterback for the Jaguars. He had an unceremonious return last week with the Jaguars getting creamed by the Colts, but it’s hard to fault Foles for the loss. He took only two sacks and his lone turnover (an interception late in the first half) didn’t result in any points for the Colts. Foles completed 33 of 47 passes for 296 passing yards and a pair of touchdowns.
The veteran signal-caller has a decent matchup this week. FO ranks the Titans 22nd in pass defense DVOA, and Tennessee’s allowed the 15th-most DraftKings points per game to quarterbacks. The bar’s low for him to provide value at only $5,400.
If you’re rolling with Foles on some GPP lineups like I’m advising, stacking him with his clear-cut No. 1 option makes sense. Chark was targeted 15 times last week, accounting for targets on 31.9% of Foles’ 47 passes. He ripped off an 8-104-2 line on his hefty target total. Additionally, he accounted for 54.66% of Jacksonville’s air yards last week, the third-highest percentage for a player last week, per NFL Next Gen Stats. He was limited in practice on Wednesday with a hamstring issue, so his health will need to be monitored. If he plays, Chark’s a great stack partner and a strong standalone play, too.
I teased this game’s ugly over/under total in the intro. It’s an underwhelming 41 points, according to DraftKings Sportsbook. Obviously, it’s more comforting to invest in a game that projects to be a shootout, but Henry’s and Chark’s steady diet of touches and targets, respectively, make them solid daily fantasy investments despite the potential for a low-scoring slugfest. As for Foles, he’s not the most exciting option, but he’s a completely defensible value option on a slate without Lamar Jackson, Patrick Mahomes, and Deshaun Watson at the top of the heap.