Thanksgiving Day and its three games have come and gone, and while we’ve all had plenty of turkey, our appetite for football has yet to be sated. Thankfully there are still thirteen more games to play in Week 13 and a ton of great NFL contests available on FanDuel. There are no byes left on the schedule this year which means the supply of bargain players should be as plentiful as ever as we had into December. Now it’s time to dig into the matchups and see who has the best opportunity to outdo their price tag this week as we try to kick off the new month with a bang.
This article will highlight three undervalued players and one super cheap option to consider at each position for Week 13. The list will only include players if they fall below the following salary levels on FanDuel:
QB – 3 Players under $7,000 & 1 Freebie under $6,000
RB – 3 Players under $6,000 & 1 Freebie under $5,000
WR – 3 Players under $6,000 & 1 Freebie under $5,000
TE – 3 Players under $6,000 & 1 Freebie under $5,000
K – 3 Players under $5,200
D – 3 Players under $5,200
1. Josh McCown, CHI @ MIN ($6,100) – McCown moves up from the Freebie spot last week to the top bargain QB spot this week due to his $600 raise to $6,100 on FanDuel. The Bears substitute quarterback earned that promotion with a fine Week 12 game, completing 36 of 47 passes for 352 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. That’s the first interception McCown has thrown this season versus seven touchdowns in the five games he’s played, numbers that indicate the steady if not spectacular nature of the career backup. He should be able to continue that steadiness in Week 13 against a weak Minnesota defense that has allowed an average of 20.3 fantasy points per game to opposing passers this year. The Vikings have given up a league-high 24 passing touchdowns in 2013, a weakness that the Bears certainly have the weapons to exploit.
2. Eli Manning, NYG @ WSH ($6,500) – It was expected that Manning’s performance against Dallas in Week 12 would be his best since their matchup in Week 1, and in some ways it was with two passing touchdowns and no interceptions. In others it was disappointing with just 16 completions on 30 attempts for only 174 yards in another losing effort. Although Eli’s touchdowns have almost caught up to his interceptions this year with 14 scores and 17 picks, his mediocrity has stretched on all season after the Giants’ disappointing start and it looks like it’s too late for New York to turn it on and make the playoffs this year. Maybe that will ease the pressure a bit and let Big Blue finally relax and air it out like they used to. This week would be an opportune time to do so against a soft Washington defense that is giving up 18.9 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks on an average of 270 passing yards with 22 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
3. E.J. Manuel, BUF v. ATL ($6,300) – If there’s one matchup for quarterbacks I like better than Washington, Minnesota, and any other in the league it’s the Atlanta Falcons. Atlanta has given up a friendly 23 passing touchdowns against just six interceptions and has applied little pressure with just 22 sacks. They’ve given up 12 passing plays of more than 40 yards this season and have allowed a 67.4% completion rate, which means they can be beaten easily on both deep plays and possession routes. All those numbers have translated into 18.5 fantasy points per game for opposing quarterbacks, which is why I like almost any QB facing the Falcons. This week that just happens to be the value-priced E.J. Manuel who is coming off a solid game against the Jets and has been quietly effective this year when healthy.
Freebie: Brandon Weeden, CLE v. JAC ($5,100) – Rounding out the lineup of bargain quarterbacks with fantastic matchups this week is Brandon Weeden of the Cleveland Browns. Weeden gets another chance to start after single-handedly confirming the greatness of Brian Hoyer before being replaced by Jason Campbell and riding the bench for most of November. Campbell’s concussion in Week 12 opened the door for Weeden’s mid-game return which was nothing special to the tune of 13 completions on 30 attempts for 209 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Even those numbers would be a decent return on value for a quarterback priced at just $5,100 on FanDuel, but I think Weeden can do better in what will be his best matchup of the season against Jacksonville, a team allowing 18.5 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks with four times as many touchdowns as interceptions.
1. Fred Jackson, BUF v. ATL ($5,600) – There hasn’t been much fantasy noise out of Buffalo’s backfield lately, but a lot of that has to do with their three tough matchups in a row prior to their Week 12 bye. Those four straight quiet weeks have done wonders for their pricing on FanDuel, which is good news as the Bills head into an easy matchup against an ineffective Atlanta defense allowing 4.6 yards per carry on the ground and even more hospitable numbers through the air. The Falcons are giving up 17.9 fantasy points per game to opposing running backs, a number that should be outdone by the combination of Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller in Week 13. Jackson has finally managed to stay relatively healthy this year and has seen double-digit carries in eight straight games and found his way to the end zone six times this season. He also gets involved in the passing attack with 4-6 targets in most weeks, enough to add on some extra points with the potential for breaking a big play.
2. C.J. Spiller, BUF v. ATL ($5,700) – Spiller has been the more inconsistent of the two Buffalo backs with more big yardage games than Jackson but also more busts. His health has been an issue, but coming off a bye week he should be ready to roll at or near full strength against the Falcons. As mentioned with Fred Jackson above, this is a great matchup for Buffalo’s backs and Spiller should be able to use his explosiveness to rack up multiple big plays on Sunday. It wouldn’t surprise me if the Bills came close to matching the 37 points they put up on the Jets last week, so I like Spiller’s chances of scoring his second touchdown of the season in Week 13. It may even be a good time to consider playing both Jackson and Spiller in a rare bargain running back stack, something that worked well earlier this year with New Orleans backs Pierre Thomas and Darren Sproles.
3. Rashard Mendenhall, ARI @ PHI ($5,200) – Mendenhall has rushed 130 times this season and has yet to break any carry for more than 15 yards. That’s the limitation that needs to be stated upfront with the quickly aging veteran, but he’s still a guy that can absorb a lot of carries and plow his way into the end zone when given the chance. Mendenhall’s role has been relatively consistent in Arizona with 12-13 carries per game for ordinary yardage and a decent chance at a touchdown. That might change this week with co-committee member Andre Ellington a game-time decision and likely to be limited at the very least. While there would undoubtedly be other backups thrown into the mix, the injury to Ellington could leave enough extra carries to allow Mendenhall into that 15-20 range where his sputtering 3.0 yards per carry start to add up a little bit more. The Eagles have been friendly to opposing running backs this season allowing 15.9 fantasy points per game, and if the Cardinals match that in Week 13 it will most likely be thanks to Mendenhall.
Freebie: Brandon Bolden, NE @ HOU ($4,700) – Bolden quickly recovered from being a healthy inactive in Week 11 to taking 13 carries for 58 yards and a touchdown in Week 12 with Stevan Ridley’s fumbleitis to thank for the opportunity. Bolden will have to share carries with Shane Vereen, Ridley, and possibly others this week, but he should get some chances to participate in a New England offense that seems to have gotten back on track. Bolden has scored a touchdown in three of the last four games he’s played in and he’s averaging an excellent 5.2 yards per carry this year. He’s also shown the versatility to be a receiver when needed and offers multiple ways to generate points against the Texans on Sunday.
1. Eric Decker, DEN @ KC ($5,800) – Decker remains atop the bargain wide receiver list for the third straight week despite dropping a lethal 1-point bomb on FanDuel lineups in Week 12. His bust last week was of the catastrophic variety with just one catch on four targets for five yards. I think the Broncos are probably taking a long look at the reasons why they lost to the Patriots, and it would be hard to believe that nobody has pointed out that Eric Decker only had one catch in a game that was decided by three points. Denver seemed to have no problem running up the score early this season, but they’ve gotten conservative lately when they’ve had the lead and it has cost both them and their FanDuel owners. We’ll see if they’ve learned to stay aggressive against the Chiefs in Week 13. Kansas City has a good passing defense but it’s been marred by injury and ineffectiveness of late, which means a good day is there to be had by Peyton and all of his receivers if they want it.
2. Marques Colston, NO @ SEA ($5,700) – Colston has really faded away this season with Jimmy Graham continuing to establish himself as Drew Brees’ favorite target and the Saints running back duo both drawing plenty of passing attention. That’s left Colston with zero double-digit target games this year and only one game of more than 100 yards. He’s also scored only two touchdowns and is on pace to finish with fewer than 1,000 yards for the first time since 2008. That said, Colston is still one of the league’s best receivers when healthy and a threat to drop a big game in any week. Drew Brees has a tendency to spread it around, something that has hurt Colston in the past but might help him now, especially against a strong Seahawks defense that will likely be geared up to stop Graham first on Monday night.
3. Anquan Boldin, SF v. STL ($5,900) – Boldin remains on the bargain wide receiver list for the second straight week after a big game against Washington saw him catch five balls on six targets for 94 yards and two touchdowns. That’s three touchdowns in the last two weeks for Boldin, who is resurging at just the right time with Michael Crabtree coming back into the 49ers fold. Boldin should still be able to maintain his average of around 6 targets per game and may face slightly less focused coverage with Crabtree around to draw attention. The Rams have played pretty well this year defensively but teams have been able to throw on them with St. Louis allowing an average of 21.6 fantasy points per game to opposing wide receivers. I don’t expect another two-score game from Boldin in Week 13, but one is doable given his strength when working in and around the end zone.
Freebie: Julian Edelman, NE @ HOU ($4,500) – Edelman was the value of the week in Week 12 with nine catches on 11 targets for 110 yards and two touchdowns in exchange for his minimum $4,500 price. He keeps that price again in Week 13 and offers tantalizing potential to bargain seekers looking to save a ton of money for other positions. He’s hard to trust entirely given his sporadic involvement since New England’s offense got healthy, but another productive game is definitely within the realm of possibility for Edelman. The Texans have a solid defense and teams have tended to emphasize the run against them, but Tom Brady and the Patriots can pass on anyone and Edelman has a way of sneaking into open spaces when defenses focus on the team’s other weapons.
1. Greg Olsen, CAR v. TB ($5,800) – Olsen has been as consistent as they come among reasonably priced tight ends with a touchdown in four of the last five weeks. His receptions and yardage totals have been nothing to get excited about, but Cam Newton seems to look for his tight end at least once per game in the red zone. That trend could continue this weekend against a Buccaneers team that has given up a lot of points through the air despite being among the league leaders in interceptions. Tight ends average 7.8 fantasy points per game against Tampa Bay this year, a number that Olsen should better with or without a touchdown in Week 13 if he gets the same 8-9 targets he’s seen the last two weeks.
2. Jordan Cameron, CLE v. JAC ($5,700) – Cameron has broken many a fantasy heart this season after starting off on fire only to burn out as quickly as he appeared. The young Cleveland tight end scored five touchdowns and racked up 360 receiving yards in his first four games but has scored only one touchdown with 301 yards in the seven games since then. However, with 17 targets in the last two games and a dream matchup against Jacksonville this weekend it’s starting to look like the Cameron renaissance is upon us. The Jaguars are allowing the second most fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends at 10.2 and have given up 8 touchdowns to tight ends this year. If Brandon Weeden can get the ball to him, Cameron should be in for his best day since Week 4.
3. Tony Gonzalez, ATL @ BUF ($5,300) – There are a lot of very good options in the bargain price range at tight end this week, which makes choosing a top three a difficult exercise. Gonzalez makes the cut despite the string of three straight disappointing games that has left his price at its lowest point all season. Buffalo’s defense is tied for the league lead in interceptions but they’ve also allowed 22 touchdowns, and with the Falcons defense leaving bowls of points on their front doorstep Matt Ryan is going to need to throw the ball early and often. That should mean another batch of targets that could approach double-digits for Gonzalez. They don’t come more solid or experienced than Tony G, something that just sits right when you can get him in a lineup at such a bargain value.
Freebie: Charles Clay, MIA @ NYJ ($4,900) – Clay returns to his reserved spot as the Freebie tight end after briefly being priced out of range thanks to his 90 yards and a touchdown in Week 11. He didn’t fare as well in Week 12, but he still saw the same dose of targets that he has all year. For such a low-priced player Clay has been extremely consistent in his involvement in the Miami offense with between 6-8 targets in nine of eleven games this season. He’s also scored four touchdowns and had a pair of significantly impactful games on FanDuel. That’s the perfect combination for a super cheap player that can be counted on for decent production while freeing up a chunk of salary to spend on a high-priced player. This week bodes especially well for Clay against a Jets defense that obliterates the run but can’t stop the pass, with particular struggles against tight ends who average 8.9 fantasy points per game versus New York.
1. Phil Dawson, SF v. STL ($5,000) – San Francisco kickers have always been fantasy favorites and Dawson is starting to come through on that tradition with at least two field goals made in each of the least three weeks and no misses in his last seven games. Overall he’s 16 of 19 on the year with 2 out of 4 from beyond 50 yards. The Rams have been stingy to opposing kickers this year giving up only 5.5 fantasy points per game, but in his price range and the fine San Francisco weather Dawson is still the best bet to produce bargain kicker value this week.
2. Robbie Gould, CHI @ MIN ($5,000) – Gould snapped a five game streak of productive games with a zero field goal affair last week against the Rams. He’s still 19 for 20 on field goal attempts this year and has not missed from beyond 40 yards. Playing in a dome against a Vikings team that allows 9.6 fantasy points per game to opposing kickers, I like the accurate and reliable Gould to hit double-digits in Week 13 to begin a new streak of productive games.
3. Adam Vinatieri, IND v. TEN ($5,000) – Vinatieri has shown his age a bit this year in struggling on long range kicks, but he still has yet to miss a field goal from within 40 yards and has gone 7 for 8 from 40-49 yards. Overall he’s 21 for 24 and has had mostly plus games for a kicker this season. On Sunday he’ll face a Titans team that can contain opposing defenses and hold them to field goal attempts, as evidenced by the 7.9 fantasy points per game they are surrendering to opposing kickers.
1. New England Patriots, NE @ HOU ($5,100) – The Patriots are in the top ten in the league in sacks, interceptions, and fumble recoveries but have only managed to score a single defensive touchdown all season. That sounds like an imbalance that is ready to rectify itself in New England’s matchup against the turnover prone Texans. Houston is giving up 10.8 fantasy points per game to opposing defenses, fourth worst in the league. New England is the kind of team that always plays hard and with a smart game plan and should have no trouble assigning Case Keenum and the Texans to the fate they’ve become accustomed to this year.
2. Chicago Bears, CHI @ MIN ($5,000) – Chicago is coming off an embarrassing Week 12 performance that left them with -2 fantasy points on FanDuel, something that will probably steer most users away from them. I think that’s a mistake as the Bears have been pretty effective at generating turnovers this year despite their fruitless pass rush and Minnesota has coughed up the second most turnovers in the league this season. That combination sounds like a recipe for defensive fantasy points pouring in on Sunday for Chicago, a unit with plenty of experience translating turnovers into touchdowns.
3. Tennessee Titans, TEN @ IND ($5,000) – Tennessee has had its moments on defense this year with 26 sacks, nine interceptions, 10 fumble recoveries, and three defensive touchdowns. Those decent counting numbers don’t quite tell the story as Titans are one of the only teams in the league with more interceptions than passing touchdowns allowed. Their biggest vulnerability has been against the run, something Indianapolis has really struggled with this year and especially since trading for Trent Richardson. Although the Colts have a better pass attack than running game, if they are unable to establish the run they will be bypassing Tennessee’s weakness and playing right into their strength.