Welcome to Week 11 - The NFL Ambush, a full guide into this weekends NFL DFS Main Slate of action to help you become a better player and find some success.
The first thing we must do each week is understand the landscape of the slate and any injury or weather or miscellaneous information that we need to monitor from the time this article comes out (Saturday's) until lock on Sunday at 1PM EST.
Also, a heads up going into Thanksgiving, I will have a special Thursday only Ambush article for the three games on Thanksgiving so look for that Wednesday evening of next week.
Injuries / Playing Time Concerns & Weather
- Drew Lock, Teddy Bridgewater & Matt Stafford - All are questionable and I want no part of them or their backups
- Allen Lazard - Expected to play
- Noah Fant - Expected to play
There are no weather impacts this weekend which is great news.
THE AMBUSH PLAYS
1) A PLAYOFF RE-MATCH
One of the most interesting aspects of this weekend's games is that there is no total higher than 51 and no total lower than 45 (as of Friday evening). Normally we have seen slates where you have a few high totals (53 to 56), and a few low totals (42 to 45) with everything else in between. This week is a full in between week which means the chances of pulling off a game stack to work out in DFS is greatly increased historically with these type of weeks.
One of those spots that I like is the Titans-Ravens rematch from their Divisional Round last season when a white hot Titans team went into Baltimore and took down the #1 seeded Baltimore Ravens. Now Baltimore comes into this rematch off a loss vs New England with their QB, Lamar Jackson looking very rough on offense while the Titans have lost two of three and really haven't looked great offensively in any of them. Time to flip the switch on both sides.
Tennessee is very banged up on their offensive line which could cause some concern for Derrick Henry, but let's not assume that he is entirely a system running back at all and Baltimore has had one major weakness of late on defense and that is defending the run. Henry should be a very contrarian RB this weekend and in a game which I project to go over the total he should produce. The only other Titan I have eyes on is A.J. Brown.
Baltimore depends more on how well Lamar finally plays in the passing game after a rough stretch but it doesn't get much better than this. He should have time vs the Titans and Mark Andrews is practically free on DraftKings at $4,900 for the frequency with which he produces when Baltimore's offense does well. It's a nice Lamar-Andrews-M.Brown stack spot but do not be shocked when you see Mark Ingram II run one in this weekend as well.
Ambush Play #1 - Get some pieces of this game and stack it on the 1PM only slate if you do not mind as well
Expectations: We see a game that has both teams scoring 3+ touchdowns and is a very good back and forth game to produce DFS results.
2) FLY MILES FLY
The Philadelphia Eagles have made a consistent habit of underwhelming when popular and exceeding expectations when ignored. This is falling into more of the ignored category this week although I don't think Miles Sanders is going to be 2% owned or anything drastic like that. But he's not in the top 5 of ownership at RB and that's a MAJOR MISTAKE.
This is the second game now that Philly is healthy on offense and this spot has a lot to like against a Cleveland defense without Myles Garrett and with the volume that Sanders had when everyone was healthy last year he should be in line for 15+ carries, 5+ receptions and 140 all purpose yards.
The Eagles had all their touchdowns come from running backs not named Sanders last week and that's nothing more than just bad touchdown variance against Sanders. Expect that to bounce back in his favor as he finds paydirt twice leading the Eagles to a convincing win on the road at Cleveland.
Ambush Play #2 - Miles Sanders is my favorite RB on all sites.
Expectations: Miles Sanders finishes near the top of the RB leaderboard with a 150+ yard game and two touchdowns.
3) DeVANTE PARKER SHINES
Tua for rookie of the year! Tua for MVP! Okay, let's pump the brakes on both just for a moment but the energy that has been shot into the Dolphins is quite impressive even against lesser competition. I will not take that way from any team who is trying to turn the corner of many down seasons like the Dolphins because they are simply doing what they should.
Part of that equation is leaning on your elite players when you go into situations they should dominate and that's what we have with Parker being the clear #1 WR option due to some other injuries and the Broncos secondary coming in short and banged up. What I love also is that Parker has seen seven targets in each of the last two games with Tua and that was when he had to deal with Patrick Peterson and Casey Heyward, two very tough corners that a rookie QB likely would stay away from -- but not Tua. Parker should not anything near that level of competition in Denver no matter who matches up on him -- even with A.J. Bouye expected back.
If you are buying into the Dolphins then you have to buy into Tua right now and the biggest benefactor would be Parker, especially on DraftKings where his full point per reception volume is so valuable.
Ambush Play #3 - DeVante Parker is lining up to have a great week 11.
Expectations: Parker will have 8 catches for over 100 yards.
4) CHARGERS BLOWOUT
Honest question this week. Will Adam Gase be on the return flight home from Los Angeles with the rest of the Jets? It just smells like this is finally going to be the end once then fall to 0-10 in a 42-3 loss at the feet of Justin Herbert who looks like a 17 year old kid after his haircut this past week. Who on the Jets is going to cover Keenan Allen? Who on the Jets is going to cover Mike Williams? Who on the Jets is going to do anything at all in this game?
After trying to keep things close against the Patriots on MNF two weeks ago the Jets were given a week off last week. I'm sorry, you think they actually IMPROVED during the BYE week? Heck no, teams who are 0-9 with a dead man walking coach as much potential talent they might have in certain spots will not then come out, get on a plane (during a pandemic*) and go out and beat a QB so confident he cut off his hair which made him look like he was 27 and now he looks like he just asked some girl to Freshman Homecoming in high school.
So how do we manage this for DFS? We simply take any free square we can not named Kalen Ballage from the L.A. Chargers and plug them into our DFS lineups. The most logical play is going to be Justin Herbert who should funnel his way to a big game for whichever WR he wants, including Hunter Henry as well. I cannot stand Ballage and I hate that he is chalky given how random the Chargers are with their RB situation so while he is a fade for me, I do recognize that the opportunity is there if you want to take that vomit play. For me though I'll trust Keenan Allen to get his, enjoy the Mike Williams touchdown and lock in Justin Herbert at 4PM only.
Ambush Play #4 - Just End The Season, Chargers demolish the Jets.
Expectations: Adam Gase is fired by Thanksgiving.
5) ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?
The New Orleans Saints were very coy at the start of the week about whether Jameis Winston or Taysom Hill would be the quarterback on Sunday against Atlanta while Drew Brees recovers from rib/lung injuries. Then on Friday morning, news leaked that it would be Taysom Hill taking over the reigns at quarterback. Once I saw who was the first person to leak the information I just laughed because this was clearly straight from the source, Sean Payton, and my god he is having so much fun toying with the media right now. Good for him for flipping the splash reports back in the face of the media who was out here dropping splash reports about the Saints failing COVID protocols the week before which suddenly turned into a non-story. But that's another topic for another day.
Do you want to know if this is a smokescreen or if this is real and if real why? I'll tell you what I expect based upon some facts regarding Taysom and his role on this team.
Is there a chance Winston still plays and it's a mixed bag?
Yes, that element of variation could certainly happen but there are some glaring roadblocks which I see preventing that from happening on Sunday. New Orleans will be facing Atlanta again in two weeks without Drew Brees and if the two quarterbacks are honestly 50/50 in terms of game plan this week why show both of them when you can easily stress the Falcons with a new set of plays this week and then flip back to the playbook which Winston knows better in two weeks if you want? I don't see that happening, but it's worth noting.
Why did Winston come in and play last week and not Taysom Hill?
He had to because that is what they practiced during the week. Taysom Hill does not just play offense and this factoid seems to get overlooked by everyone. Hill is used as a TE, WR, RB, FB on offense yes. But he is used as the up-back on the punt units having converted three fake punt rushes in his career as well as a fake punt pass. He is used on coverage in punt situations as a rusher having blocked four kicks in his career -- including last Thanksgiving against the Falcons and prior to this season he's even been used returning kicks as a returner and a blocker and is one of the better kickoff tacklers on the team. He is a talented player that they have found a way to get onto the football field as much as possible to contribute and help the team.
During the course of a week he spends time in meetings with special teams, wide receivers, tight ends, running backs, etc. So his preparation on a given week to play quarterback can only happen if all those other roles go out the window. If those roles do NOT go out the window then his utilization as a quarterback in a game has to be limited to roughly three to five plays which is what the casual eye has seen when watching Saints Island TV games every few weeks. Simply put, Taysom is the second best QB on the team but he is not the backup quarterback on game days when Brees is healthy.
What would prevent the Saints from playing Winston and just using Taysom as the 'gadget' role?
Here's where we can gain some confidence that Taysom Hill will play 90%+ of the snaps at QB. They both can't be on the field at the same time unless one of them is changing helmets and given that it would likely be Taysom who is not under center when they're both on the field he would be swapping helmets around. League rules mandate that only one player on the field can have radio communications at a time and the way the Saints have handled the Taysom plays in the past is he gets the play directly from Payton on the sideline and then runs in to call the play.
So the only scenario where the Saints would be rotating quarterbacks is if they wanted to really get cute and stress the Falcons by literally changing the QB as they change sub packages on almost every play or every series. Could that happen? Sure. Will it happen? No. And the reason why it won't happen is because of two major reasons. First off, the Saints know what they can execute with Hill who has been with the team for three off-seasons more than they do with Winston who has been with the team for no off-season program. And the second reason is the biggest one of all.
Taysom Hill is a better QB than you think.
There are two arguments that are used against Hill by the general public. Number one is that he was not a good passer in college. Well, he had a higher completion percentage in college than Lamar Jackson and Josh Allen while putting up similar rushing efficiency numbers when he was a full time healthy college Quarterback. Number two is that he is only 10-18 in his NFL career with 0 TD passes and 1 INT. What a complete lazy comment to make as a reason why you think someone cannot play quarterback who hasn't actually started a regular season game in his career. Those 18 passing attempts have been situations where he comes in a spot setting and the designed play call was normally a play action look with one receiver on the field and Taysom was given two reads maximum and if the defense read it right the play was limited. He hasn't had the opportunity in a regular season game to execute a full drive down the field so simply arguing that he hasn't thrown a touchdown as a reason to not play him is stupid. Now, if you do not want to use him because he hasn't had that full regular season game experience then okay.
But then we consider his pricing on both FanDuel ($4,500 as a tight end where he has been Tight End since 2019 by the way, thanks for finally noticing one of the best plays on the board at a horrible DFS position!) and on DraftKings ($4,800 as a quarterback), we are basically getting someone who is far lower than what Josh Allen or Lamar Jackson would have been as rookies facing a bottom third of the league defense. Not to mention Taysom has some pretty potent weapons around him in Michael Thomas (fully healthy), Alvin Kamara (he's healthy) and lots of speed at WR (Harris, Callaway, Sanders, Smith) which gets open even more if Atlanta has to spy Taysom Hill in the running game. Hill should carry 12 times for 60 yards and throw for 150 yards minimum. Add in his known ability to score a rushing touchdown and the likelihood that he throws another one and we're already at 22 fantasy points. Subtract that he'll likely turn the ball over yes and you still have a guy going for nearly 5x. Should he be 100% owned on FanDuel? Yes. And my honest opinion there is not to just force him in at TE but consider him in the FLEX spot. Should he be 15-20% owned on DraftKings? Yes.
So the only reason to fade Taysom Hill on Sunday this week is because you envision Sean Payton going full diversity with rotating the quarterbacks in every series and completely does NOTHING for the confidence of both Winston and Hill or you think Taysom Hill gets injured, which would be the worst birthday of my life!
Otherwise for DFS purposes you've played far lower expectation plays, trust me.
Ambush Play #5 - Play Taysom. Next question.
Expectations: Hill rushes for 50 yards, throws for 150 yards and accounts for two touchdowns. Is that HOF numbers? Lord no. Is it a good enough DFS play? Yes.
Ambush Fades of the Week -- The Week 11 Fades
- New England: They've been horrible all season and now you want to use them off a big win? Horrible play this week IMO.
- Cleveland: Tough funnel spot for a team who likes to run the ball against the strength of the Eagles defense.
- Atlanta: If anything the switch from Brees to Hill/Winston is a major downgrade for the Falcons offense. New Orleans run attempts will go up slowing the game down and the Saints D has been in the zone lately.
Low owned teams to IGNORE. These are teams that aren't considered FADES because they aren't going to be popular, but you shouldn't still go to them just because they're unowned
- Jacksonville, Detroit, Carolina, Washington, NY Jets, Denver
RECAP OF AMBUSH PLAYS
- Titans vs Ravens game provides some good DFS value
- Welcome back to the ELITE status, Miles Sanders
- Fins up! DeVante Parker helps keep the Dolphins moving forward with a solid day.
- With a fresh haircut, Justin Herbert leads the Chargers in an easy victory
- Who Dat? It's Taysom Time.
DeShaun Watson to me is one of the safest top Quarterback plays on the board on all sites vs New England even though the perception is the Patriots are back. They're not. The Texans are going to win this game by double digits as Watson has too many weapons and no coaching restriction at home in the dome to exploit a New England secondary which still has a questionable Stephon Gilmore, so if he sits then this is an easy 300 yard and three touchdown game for Watson who has thrown for minimum 275 in every home game this year. My only concern with Watson is can the Patriots score at all?
Only once this year has Herbert failed to reach 20 fantasy points and in every home game he has played with a full week of practice as the #1 so far he's wound up throwing it 40+ times. They should run away with this one so that likely dips down to 34-36 attempts, but at his completion rates and ability to attack the Jets over the top there's little reason to expect less than 300 yards passing and 3 touchdowns from Herbert.
Just missed my top 2: Lamar Jackson, Joe Burrow, Tua Tagovailoa
Not touching: Cam Newton
Something we have to love about Sanders is the volume he gets in the passing game and with some rainy conditions in Cleveland he'll probably see underneath quick passes to secure a solid floor. As I outlined him above in the Ambush Plays he's arguably my favorite overall play this weekend. Philly wins and Sanders scores twice which at $6,900 is just too easy button this week.
The Dalvin vs Alvin debate this week is a very good one. On one hand you can make a STRONG case for Alvin Kamara going under-owned on FanDuel as everyone uses Taysom Hill and they fear Taysom taking away the touchdowns from Kamara, but then you gotta realize that any Taysom success benefits Kamara and vice versa, so personally I think Kamara is a fine play this weekend. But this is about Dalvin Cook, who is more than a fine play against Dallas, he's a glorious play. Only the dumpster that is James Conner has failed to rush on Dallas lately. The Cowboys stopped Conner and were able to limit the Giants back in week five to only 89 yards rushing. News flash, the Giants do not have a RB anywhere near Dalvin Cook. In fact, Dalvin Cook on one leg with a mask over his eyes could likely rush for 4 yards per carry in his sleep this Sunday. With some good value on this slate we can get Cook into lineups and he is 1a to Kamara's 1b for raw points.
Bernard has been able to produce without Mixon and with Washington having a decent pass rush there will be times that Burrow just has to check it down to Bernard instead of waiting for routes to open up down field. I spent lots of time trying to find someone we can trust to get the volume in the mid tier range and Gio is the best option in this space.
Just missed the cut, but I don't mind: Derrick Henry, James Conner, Adrian Peterson (DK)
Not touching: Kalen Ballage
If you are buying into the Dolphins then you have to buy into Tua right now and the biggest benefactor would be Parker, especially on DraftKings where his full point per reception volume is so valuable.
The Jets should have no luck slowing down the passing attack of the Chargers this week. Keenan is your DraftKings play while Mike Williams is your FanDuel play. Be smart on the pricing and understanding the full PPR vs half PPR differences and play them accordingly as the ball should be spread around.
Love a volume game for Tyler Boyd. With the amount Cincinnati should throw the ball against Washington he should see his 7+ receptions for 80 or more yards. He's priced in a spot on DraftKings that makes it where if he scores he'll pay off immensely
The Steelers have too many weapons to not find success on the road at Jacksonville. With these three WR all priced in the same range there's a lot to like with Johnson seeing the most target % over the last month and Pittsburgh will be looking to just get in and get this game over with quickly so take the guy who gets the catches and the safety points.
I like all three of these guys to score for under $4,000 on DraftKings.
Michael Gallup (DK: $3,700)
Randall Cobb (DK: $3,600)
Donovan Peoples-Jones (DK: $3,200)
Like, but won't have because of too many other options: Marquise Brown
Not touching: Calvin Ridley
So it is free tight end week everywhere. On DraftKings, Mark Andrews checks in against a TE friendly defense for only $4,900. When looking at this game I love it to be high scoring and trust the value in Andrews slightly more than Marquise Brown.
Miami was a beneficial team to target with TE last week and should remain another target again this week.
The Saints typically have four players lined up at TE. Jared Cook, Josh Hill, Adam Trautman and Taysom Hill. Two of these guys will not be able to do that this week and there will be a heavy dose of bootleg plays for Taysom Hill where he gets out on the perimeter and has levels concepts with an underneath target, a middle target (Thomas/Sanders/Smith) and someone deep vertical (Harris/Callaway). His underneath targets will either be the RB or Adam Trautman who should see an increase snap count in this game and will be wide open for an underneath catch and run for 40 yards on the Saints opening drive.
I love everything about the Chargers this weekend which obviously never feels great, but the Jets to me are a dead team walking and will do nothing on offense.
Expensive but justified against Jacksonville and Jake Luton. Not much analysis needed here if you can afford em, pay for it.
The Bengals come in as the best value defense of the weekend simply because of the chances Washington cannot pass protect and Alex Smith was wild last week and should be again this week.
The AMBUSH Week 11 - Questions and Answers
QUESTION: Who is getting overlooked this week and why is it Michael Thomas?
Everyone has started to run away from Thomas now that Taysom Hill is going to be starting and while I don't see him going OFF, I don't envision him getting shutdown by the Falcons of all teams. Thomas is 100% healthy and would make for your best pivot on the Saints side of the ball. Who do you think Taysom's first read is going to be? It's Thomas.
QUESTION: Random off the wall prediction?
Adam Gase fired immediately after the game this week.
QUESTION: Favorite 1PM and 4PM only stacks and plays?
1PM SNEAKY GAME is Titans vs Ravens
4PM SNEAKY GAME is Dolphins vs Broncos
QUESTION: What's the game you do not have a lot of players in which scares you to go off?
Packers vs Colts ... I envision a scenario where the Packers RB have a solid game catching passes from Rodgers and the Packers give up yards to the Colts RB/TE.
QUESTION: Favorite Bets of the week?