We are down to just four weeks remaining in the 2020 NFL season and the season once again is playing out like Free Bird by Lynyrd Skynyrd. After months of talk and noise leading up to the season and the 24×7 cycle of news in the first 10 weeks of the season it feels like the season is going to lure you to sleep before it ends. But as we enter the final four weeks of the season things get cranked up and we have to be smarter than the situation, which is basically my way of saying don’t be stupid right now. By now I can look at an NFL team and clearly say what they are offensively and defensively without needing to dig into a ton of research or trying to get too cute. If you think about it, there isn’t that much that has changed in the 2020 regular season from 2019 which is kind of telling about the coaching and if we have learned anything in hindsight for the pandemic season it’s that the teams who were good in 2019 really had a clear advantage over everyone else.
In the NFC not much has changed. The San Francisco 49ers have taken the biggest step backwards, but they’ve had an incredible amount of injuries and they also were also one of the most fortunate teams in 2019 from a scheduling and tie-breaker scenario which helped them get the #1 seed and an easier path to the Super Bowl. Aside from that though just about everyone else is the same. The Saints, Packers and Seahawks are all relatively in the same boat as last year. The Rams are just as good as they were the past two seasons but have been a little more healthy and consistent and combined with San Francisco running into some challenges they’ve been the ones who have jumped back up in the NFC West. The Bucs and Cardinals are floating in the same territory with a slightly better chance of making the playoffs and the Vikings are still a well coached team who on any given week can struggle with a bad team or compete with the elite. Oh and the NFC East is hot garbage. Honestly, what has changed in the NFC? Nothing.
The biggest change has been in the AFC North where the Browns have taken the next expected step for a young team which is learning how to win games like they did last week at Tennessee, while the team who is always shooting themselves in the foot in the North has been the Ravens and not the Steelers. Outside of that and the expected decline of the Patriots in the AFC East nothing has really been different this year. We’re going into December and the Titans are probably going to get cranked up after taking a beating last weekend, the Bills are everyone’s darlings in the east, DeShaun Watson has nobody healthy around him and quite honestly none of it matters because Patrick Mahomes is healthy, has both his arms and legs so everything seems moot right now.
Think about it. You know the identity of every team. You know what they’re going to want to come out and do, now it’s just a matter of reading the room temperature from week to week on the good but inconsistent teams (ahem, Titans) and also sniffing out those games that feature upside offenses on teams who aren’t going to make the playoffs this year but are trending in the right direction.
If you are a seasonal player who is coming over to DFS for the first time I welcome you to The Ambush.
As always lets get the basics out of the way.
There are no major weather issues this weekend but some light rain out in Seattle and a reminder that the Washington-San Francisco game is being played in Arizona this week.
INJURIES TO MONITOR
Julio Jones must have been told on Friday morning that they are AWAY this weekend and he did the math on the long flight to L.A. and said nah my hamstring hurts. He is out and that hurts the Falcons passing game upside in that game. Same is true for Kenny Golladay who has to be the biggest flop this year in fantasy because you’re getting absolutely nothing out of him. Here’s the questionable tags that could impact decision making if they sway to not playing.
- De’Andre Swift (Questionable): If he sits it hurts Detroits ability to sustain drives and hurts the over in this game.
- Josh Jacobs (Questionable): This one is really flying under the radar because the Raiders said he was unlikely at the start of the week but now he is trending towards playing. More on this below.
I’m not going to detail too much on the actual players ownership this week but rather talk about the lineup construction that seems to be the common theme for this week.
Everyone is still stuck in week 13 gear when we had a ton of late value pop up onto the slate and it made it common to play value players along with high priced A+ players in your lineup. Now fast forward to week 14 and names like Russell Wilson, Aaron Rodgers, DeVante Adams, Travis Kelce are at the top of the lists as “must plays” or “I gotta have this guy he broke my MODEL!” from everyone and thus they’re jamming those guys into lineups and then stretching to find value plays. Big mistake.
This slate is just like my drives on the golf course. Right down the mayors office and stay balanced. If you are balanced in taking mid range TE, RB2 and DEFENSE this week you’ll find that you actually CAN get one of an Adams or Wilson or Kelce or Metcalf if you really want too. But jamming all of them in and then going down to the likes of 15-20% owned Breshad Perriman or Braxton Berrios? No thank you.
DERRICK HENRY ($8,700) … I believe I have covered this trend already but lets hammer it home again. In five home games this season Henry has seen the ball 15, 19, 21, 20, 22 and 19 times. Great numbers right? I mean, most of the league would fall behind that in terms of a game log of carries.
But when the Titans go on the road they start tossing logs of wood into the locomotive faster than a guy with a weird hat and tiny mustache in a 1930’s silent film where some lady is tied to the tracks and her hero comes and save her. Well, unfortunately for the Jaguars they’re getting ready for the Henry freight train who has gotten the ball 27, 28, 18, 26 and 31 times in their five road games this season. The one 18 outing was the odd game against the Bengals when they completely played flat and lost on the road in an ugly game at Cincinnati.
Henry’s going to get the ball 25 times and given that he should get between 4.5 to 5.5 yards per carry on average he’s easily going to finish with a total over 20 points this week because a touchdown is a lock and quite honestly, a patented Henry 80+ yard touchdown vs Jacksonville feels like a lock too.
AMBUSH PLAY #1: King Henry finishes the weekend as the highest scoring Running Back.
SOMETIMES I DREAM … THAT HE IS ME …
When the football God’s created the Week 14 schedule they must have been watching the Michael Jordan Last Dance documentary. Because as I went down the list of pass catching options I found myself circling a bunch of Michael’s who are extremely good value plays and a few others that I don’t love as much but do make sense.
We start with someone who was once in this article and had a solid game earlier this season and that would be LA Charger WR Mike Williams, who is only $4,700 and fits the profile of big WR that should have a clear size advantage on the Atlanta Falcons secondary. The Chargers are fully healthy and there’s a lot of buzz surrounding Austin Ekeler but with Julio Jones ruled out I don’t envision the Falcons having the lead in this game which is where Ekeler really gets his pass catching value normally. So the Chargers will bounce back and get things done through the air early in this game and I’m telling you, while nobody on the Falcons will cover Keenan Allen well they also won’t stop Mike Williams from hauling in two touchdowns. He’s too cheap for this good of a match-up.
Our second Mike is someone that was popular last week when we all should have rode the TY Hilton vs Houston narrative and that would be Michael Pittman Jr. Pittman saw his second straight week of single digit fantasy points following two games that were trending him up as the #1 WR in Indianapolis. The Colts will get the advantage of playing in high roller land as all but one game in Vegas this year has hit the over and we know the Raiders defense does not funnel one way or the other so for $5,000 getting 7-9 targets Pittman to me is a guy we should immediately run right back to this week as a nice value play.
Our third 5k or below Mike is actually a Tight End. Mike Gisecki is coming along well and is the clear #2 option in the passing game for the Dolphins. His big frame should create some problems for the Chiefs and with Tua back in at Quarterback the short range passing game benefits him a lot more. This is a week I think we finally have some good mid range choices at Tight End, and Gisecki is the play in my mind there.
We could go deeper with Michael Thomas, Mike Evans and a very cheap Michael Gallup as well, but in terms of point per $ plays Williams, Pittman and Gisecki are the trio of Mike’s that get it done.
AMBUSH PLAY #2: Be like Mike. Mike Williams, Michael Pittman and Mike Gisecki all score touchdowns and go over 3x in week 14.
We are now far removed from the Monday after week two when the entire fantasy world was losing their mind over DeAndre Hopkins having 30 targets through two games with his new team and with a weekly questionable injury designation on himself, a Quarterback with a banged up shoulder and a recent blah stretch of games Hopkins has fallen off radar. But Hopkins has had one of the most brutal stretches of CB1 match-ups lately. In four of his last five games he had to see a lot of Xavien Howard (MIA), Tre’Davious White (BUF), Stephon Gilmore (NE) and last week Jalen Ramsey (LA). I know that Giants CB James Bradberry has had a solid season and is considered a good cornerback — but he is NOT those other DB’s.
The Cardinals still clearly have a shoulder issue with Kyler Murray and one reason to have some concerns here with Hopkins is that in the last three weeks he hasn’t run routes farther than 10-15 yards down field. A lot of this is also attributed to wanting to get the ball out of Murray’s hands more quickly. But we saw Hopkins ramp back up to elite target volume last week with 8 catches on 13 targets in a very tough passing matchup against the Rams. This week is softer and the Cardinals are free falling and in desperate need for a road victory. If they win, they’re going to have to do it with Hopkins having 10 catches and 100 yards and getting into the end zone.
So while everyone is playing the auto 100 yard DaVante Adams or chasing the Metcalf/Lockett game, I’ll gladly take the guy who is still arguably in that conversation as top WR in the game.
AMBUSH PLAY #3: It’s time for Kyler to give Hopkins his Nuk pacifier and the football all game long. Hopkins is the ELITE WR of the week.
I have two teams circled this week as blowing out their opponents. Both are at home and both are technically coming off losses. In both cases I think there is enough production spread around to consider minimum two pieces but also they’re strong enough spots that you DO NOT need to worry about “running it back” on the other side.
Seattle is one, who obviously gets to face the easy play Jets this weekend and nobody would be shocked to see a final score of 38-7. The Seattle defense is playing much better and honestly is my toughest decision of the week because I want no part of the Jets passing game chalk (Perriman and Berrios? Really???? No) and Jammal Adams having a legendary game against the Jets seems logical — but on the other hand the Seattle defense to me isn’t the spot to focus on. It’s Russell Wilson who gets overshadowed too much this week and should have all day now that the Jets won’t be blitzing him all day long. The best path to figuring out Metcalf and Lockett volume this week is to just take Wilson and move on while considering the Seattle D as well.
But the mid range defense I am calling a touchdown from this week? It’s not Seattle. It’s Tampa Bay coming off a BYE and having to get back to basics. Part of getting back to basics in Tampa over the BYE week involves ensuring they utilize the ground game, which was a really rough spot for the Vikings early in the year before everyone remembered how bad their secondary is. I know it might seem tempting to think Tom Brady is going to come out and pad his stats in an easy spot, but Tampa’s winning formula is to give Jones/Fournette plenty of carries and let their defense play aggressive with a lead. I have Tampa Bay blowing out the Vikings this weekend and you’ll easily be able to get a good game from multiple Bucs — of which Ronald Jones and the Bucs Defense are the Ambush calls that won’t let you down.
AMBUSH PLAY #4: You don’t need to always run it back when stacking. Seattle and Tampa will prove that this week.
Quarterback might be the hardest position this week. Do you take one of the studs who can get you a safe 20+ points or risk it down below?
The big three stud QB this week are Mahomes, Rodgers and Wilson. In the case of Wilson he is probably viewed as the one who has the most blowout potential which shy’s some folks away from wanting to use him due to this concept that you have to have someone to “run it back” on the other side to give you the most upside. But at the QB position what is better than seeing your QB has finished the day in a 38-7 victory where he threw for 5 touchdowns because he could do whatever he wanted.
Herbert has seemingly every skill position player around him projecting in a good spot. He took his lumps against Belichek last week as a rookie QB and now gets a nice refreshing match-up against Atlanta at home. No reason not to like Herbert to go over 300 yards and produce atleast two touchdowns.
The loss of Julio Jones really puts Ryan in a position where his splits take a massive drop off. But the Falcons D will not limit this Chargers offense and Atlanta cannot move the ball on the ground versus anyone. With the Chargers not generating a dominant pass rush this year it should allow Ryan to move the ball down the field and I won’t be shocked to see him still manage to put up a ton of yards without Julio.
Just missed the cut: Matt Stafford, Taysom Hill
Not touching: DeShaun Watson
DERRICK HENRY ($8,700)
I believe I have covered this trend already but lets hammer it home again. In five home games this season Henry has seen the ball 15, 19, 21, 20, 22 and 19 times. Great numbers right? I mean, most of the league would fall behind that in terms of a game log of carries. But when the Titans go on the road they start tossing logs of wood into the locomotive faster than a guy with a weird hat and tiny mustache in a 1930’s silent film where some lady is tied to the tracks and her hero comes and save her. Well, unfortunately for the Jaguars they’re getting ready for the Henry freight train who has gotten the ball 27, 28, 18, 26 and 31 times in their five road games this season. The one 18 outing was the odd game against the Bengals when they completely played flat and lost on the road in an ugly game at Cincinnati. Henry’s going to get the ball 25 times and given that he should get between 4.5 to 5.5 yards per carry on average he’s easily going to finish with a total over 20 points this week because a touchdown is a lock and quite honestly, a patented Henry 80+ yard touchdown vs Jacksonville feels like a lock too.
GOOD MID RANGE VALUE PLAYS AS RB2
There are three running backs who are in the ‘mid-range’ price tier and all three are at home and facing rush defenses that should be favorable to the running game. But with Gallman he probably has the highest chances of scoring a touchdown compared to the other two mentioned below (Ronald Jones and David Montgomery), something he had done five straight weeks before failing to reach paydirt in the upset over the Seahawks. Gallman continues to be a solid mid range RB who can give us 2x with 3x upside. If you want someone to stabilize your lineup and take upside with the studs, look here first.
Minnesota overall has given up a lot more touchdowns through the air than the pass, but if the Bucs are smart they are going to simplify the offense by leaning on the ground game more coming out of their BYE. Minnesota should have a hard time moving the ball on offense which will setup short fields and easy opportunities for the Bucs ground game to put this game away. Love the Bucs to steamroll the Vikings and the ground game to flourish.
The Texans rush defense is just as bad as the Lions in my mind and yet nobody is rushing back to David Montgomery again this week? How else do you think the Bears might move the ball in a cold and windy Soldier field this weekend? Love D-Montgomery who is too cheap on all sites.
I am locked in on having Derrick Henry and one of the three mid range RB’s mentioned above as my two RB, but there’s good reason to go back to a RB in the FLEX position this weekend because of some other borderline RB1 guys having strong potential. The most popular ones are Austin Ekeler, Aaron Jones and James Robinson but none of them are guys I am rushing to play this weekend — although Aaron Jones is the one who I doubt “flops”.
This is news that has flown under the radar late in the week. Jacobs was actually able to practice in a limited fashion on Thursday and Friday after they all but ruled him out way early in the week. This very likely could be gamesmanship by the Raiders and Jacobs winds up not being active. But if he plays, pivot to him over Aaron Jones for late FLEX exposure. Jacobs off a horrible game two weeks ago vs Atlanta was rested last week vs the Jets which wasn’t a game they would have used him much in. This game has two teams who are still very much alive for the playoff push and the Raiders don’t lose when Jacobs touches the ball over 20 times on the ground. He’s their MVP.
Just missed the cut: Alvin Kamara, Aaron Jones
Not touching: Austin Ekeler, James Robinson, Duke Johnson
The Nuk pacifier gets put back into play this weekend for Arizona. He’s going to feel like a million dollars now that he see’s a non elite CB who is still good, but not all world like the stretch he just went through.
One cannot play DFS this weekend without Charger exposure but it’s not Ekeler or Keenan that you should rush too unless you are doing a full game stack and while I liked that option earlier this week, it died with Julio Jones being ruled out. So take the Mike Williams (big WR vs Atlanta!) game and lock it in.
MIKE PITTMAN JR.
The Raiders aren’t going to suddenly start playing low scoring games, so we have to love Indianapolis offense to produce. Pittman is the best WR option they have for consistency and should bounce back after a quiet week 13.
HOW TO AVOID DAVANTE ADAMS?
There are three paths for DaVante Adams having a week that you can fade. One is that he just so expensive and it’s hard for him to go insane at his price tag without the Lions abandoning the run and forcing a game with a ton of possessions in it which makes zero sense for Detroit, so that’s one way.
Another would be Aaron Jones going bananas the entire game and the Packers just decide to not have Rodgers throw at all and the RB’s compile all the stats and touchdowns. Ok, that’s not happening with Rodgers, right?
But the third is the one I am banking on. Rodgers still airs it out for 300 and 3 TD, but one of them is going to a RB, one is going to Tonyan and the third is going to be a 65 yard touchdown bomb to Allan Lazard moving from right to left across Ford Field. Something about Rodgers in Detroit having all the time in the world to chuck it deep that we see every single season and with the Packers WR being fully healthy there’s going to be a lot of single coverage for Lazard and MVS due to Adams getting all the Detroit defense attention.
EXTRA VALUE PLAY
CeeDee Lamb (and Michael Gallup) … The pricing on the Dallas players is down because they didn’t play until Tuesday and I guess the DFS sites didn’t realize they were gonna be playing Cincinnati’s bottom ranked defense this week. It’s a short week so lets not go too crazy on our Dallas exposure, but please tell me who is going to cover CeeDee Lamb on the Bengals? I’ll wait. Gallup probably gets some buzz given his high volume game last week and still being dirt cheap, but this is a Lamb show off game in my mind.
Just missed the cut: Adam Thielen, Calvin Ridley
Not touching: Curtis Samuel, Brandin Cooks
I mentioned above that this is a week where mid range TE are really looking good, so we can avoid Travis Kelce who is obviously not a bad play himself, but especially avoid Darren Waller if Josh Jacobs does suit up again. Give me Gisecki against the Chiefs in a game I expect Miami to try and play up to the Chiefs in but wind up falling short. The salary relief here will pay off.
With Julio out he should be the main benefactor for the Falcons passing game. Matt Ryan will 100% play well this week but because of no Julio is now off our radar, yet the Chargers defense is one that has been favorable to the TE position so that’s why we’ll trust Hurst.
Also Consider: TJ Hockenson (If Swift is IN for Detroit)
This isn’t so much about Jalen Hurts as it is the Eagles offensive line vs the Saints defensive line. I expect the Eagles to come out and utilize a quick passing game and screens early in the game so they’ll probably get a nice opening drive and think they have found gold. Then Dennis Allen will adjust and Chauncey Gardner-Johnson is going to wreak havoc on Hurts and the Philadelphia offense. He’s the joker on the defense and will wind up forcing a fumble that opens the flood gates for New Orleans defense which will be capped off by a Marcus Williams 47 yard INT for a touchdown. The Saints defense gets back Janoris Jenkins and Marcus Davenport for this game and that’s enough of a boost to overcome any risk from playing a third straight road game.
I’m not buying into any Watson angry vs the Bears for not drafting him narrative because if I am Watson I am more than happy to play in Houston in the AFC South over Chicago for my career. But look at the Houston offense and tell me how Watson is going to move them down the field. They have no running game and they have no healthy WR with both Cooks and Coutee banged up, plus not to mention the chances of Brandin Cooks going into cold Soldier Field and doing anything vs the Bears is slimmer than none.
Mentioned above how much I love Tampa Bay’s defense this week. They’re a sleeper play and while defensive touchdowns are completely random and gut calls, we do have an offense in the Vikings that has allowed defenses to score the last two weeks. Having Kirk Cousins at Quarterback probably is a strong correlation to such a random statistic.
THE AMBUSH Q&A
QUESTION: Who is getting overlooked this week and why is it Calvin Ridley?
To be honest I loved this game before Julio Jones got ruled out and will still force an extra lineup to stack it because Matt Ryan is going to play better this week and with Julio Jones out we gotta trust Calvin Ridley to get a ton of targets. The Chargers defense hasn’t generated a ton of pressure on QB’s as one would think and that’s going to benefit the passing game for the Falcons. If anyone does make this spot blow up it’s Ridley.
QUESTION: Random off the wall prediction?
If D’Andre Swift is in then you have a situation that favors the Lions as they should be able to run on Green Bay. If Swift is in, the Lions will take a 10 point lead into the half over the Packers and a Stafford-Swift-Lazard-Hockenson stack winds up winning all the money.
QUESTION: Favorite 1PM and 4PM only stacks and plays?
1PM ONLY: See below on the game which cares me that I do not have, but I’ll be going down to Tampa most likely to stack up the Bucs
4PM ONLY: Dont sleep on the Colts/Raiders game
QUESTION: What’s the game you do not have a lot of players in which scares you to go off?
Denver vs Carolina: I see this game being a total snoozefest but there’s reason to think we are completely ignoring it for no good reason. Obviously CMC is out and the Panthers have some COVID-19 issues, but why wouldn’t Robby Anderson thrive more then? Shouldn’t Drew Lock be in line to have a good game against the Panthers who have been an easy target most of the season? Is this the Jerry Jeudy go insane game because Carolina will just be in a zone and Lock can actually see open receivers to hit? Again, it’s not at the top of my list but boy this one could come back to haunt me.
QUESTION: Favorite Bets of the week?
Bucs – 6.5
Colts / Raiders OVER 51.5
San Francisco -3