This article is part of our DraftKings NFL series.
Despite missing out on a few elite players because of games on Saturday, Sunday night and Monday, we still have two games with totals over 50.0 on DraftKings Sporstbooks and a number of teams favored by at least a touchdown where we can actually find value. Additionally, no team has solidified their playoff positioning yet, so there's no need to overthink motivation in the second-to-last week of the regular season.
Lamar Jackson, BAL at CLE ($8,000): If there was ever a point in the season when you said something like "I'd pay $10,000 for Jackson because of his floor and ceiling combination," well, we're getting close to DraftKings calling your bluff. Priced $1,000 more than the second-most expensive quarterback, Russell Wilson, and $2,600 more than the fifth-priciest, Dak Prescott, paying up for Jackson will have more of an impact on the rest of your lineup than at any other point this season. But again, Jackson's floor is higher than any other quarterback in the league thanks to his rushing yards, one he showed off when these teams met back in Week 4 when he rushed nine times for 66 yards while also throwing for 247 yards and three touchdowns. Despite those solid stats, the Browns actually beat the Ravens 40-25, with Jackson throwing two interceptions, one of only three games this year when he was picked off at least once. Baltimore still needs to win to keep their path to the no. 1 seed in the playoffs, so there's little reason to think Jackson won't be going at 100 percent.
Will Grier, CAR at IND ($4,300): Grier is the cheapest starter on the 11-game slate, and using him obviously opens up a ton of salary if you're going to him from Jackson. There are plenty of options between them salary-wise (in fact, all of them), but they each have some kind of wart that makes me wonder if spending up to $2,000 less for Grier, who faces a Colts defense that's allowed the 10th-most fantasy points to quarterbacks this season, including multiple touchdowns passes in five consecutive games, worth the discount. The Colts allowed five touchdowns (one rushing) to Jameis Winston in Week 14 and four touchdowns to Drew Brees last week, and while Grier is obviously not on their level, the matchup may be too enticing to ignore.
Marlon Mack, IND v. CAR ($6,200): There are a number of very strong running back plays this week, either because of their own talent, their expected positive game scripts or their matchups, with the latter screaming out for Mack. The Panthers' defense has been absolutely horrific against the run this season, allowing the most fantasy points to running backs, including multiple touchdowns in each of the last three (seven total over that span). One of the negatives for Mack is that he's basically not a part of the passing game, which limits his floor, but with the Colts 6.5-point home favorites, there is plenty of expectation that they'll be leading (hopefully because of Mack) and running the game out. Also in the range is the Bengals' Joe Mixon ($6,600), who does get involved in the passing game a bit but has, more importantly, gotten a ton of carries recently, rushing 48 times for 182 yards in the past two games, which Cincinnati lost by a combined 29 points. However, they are actually favored this week against the Dolphins, which should keep Mixon's volume up.
DeAndre Washington, OAK at LAC ($4,000): Washington figures to be one of the highest-owned running backs in cash games because he is expected to get a majority of the running back touches in place of the injured Josh Jacobs ($6,700). Jacobs was probably not going to be a serious consideration if healthy despite facing a Chargers defense that's allowed the 11th-most fantasy points to running backs, but the considerable cost difference between the two puts Washington in play, especially since he was very productive in his lone prior start, rushing 14 times for 53 yards and a touchdown while also catching six of seven targets for 43 yards in Week 14 against Tennessee, a game the Raiders lost by 21. There are running backs worth paying up for, but the salary of Washington probably outweighs the opportunity cost of using a running back and/or flex spot on him.
Christian McCaffrey, CAR at IND ($10,100): The most expensive player on the slate, yet again, McCaffrey comes in with a relatively tough matchup against a Colts defense that's allowed the eighth-fewest fantasy points to running backs, including only two touchdowns since Week 2. Granted, McCaffrey is able to be very productive even without touchdowns, and we have seen a few very good receiving games from running backs against the Colts, but this week isn't an easy plug-and-play with McCaffrey. Another reason for that is there are a few other high-priced running backs in good spots, including Chris Carson ($8,500) at home against the Cardinals, Saquon Barkley ($8,300) against Washington and Ezekiel Elliott ($7,900) at Philadelphia. Carson definitely has the best situation of those three, as the Seahakws are already a run-heavy team and now 9.5-point favorites, which theoretically means they should be up early enough that he'll see very good volume. Elliott's matchup isn't that good, but his volume is so high – and could be higher if Dak Prescott's ($6,400) shoulder injury forces him to throw more underneath to Elliott – that he has to be in consideration. Meanwhile, Barkley is coming off his best game of the season, though you have to have serious reservations about whether or not it was a one-time deal, as it was the first time all season he had more than 20 carries, and Daniel Jones ($5,900) will be back under center for the Giants.
Michael Thomas, NO at TEN ($9,300): While Jackson has a $1,000 salary difference between himself and the next highest-priced quarterback, Thomas is $1,300 more than the second-most expensive wide receiver, Julio Jones. Thomas has been incredible this season, and he's on pace to break the single-season receptions record, but you have to consider the fact that he been significantly better at home, averaging 10.88 catches on 12.25 targets for 128.38 yards in New Orleans versus 7.66 catches on 10.17 targets for 87.5 yards per game on the road. He's only had one road game this season with at least 10 catches, which happened in Week 2, while only two of his eight touchdowns were scored on the road. That being said, he's still the best wideout on the slate, one that is missing a number of elite options we're used to seeing like Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, DeAndre Hopkins, Stefon Diggs and Davante Adams. For a greater reference, the Titans' A.J. Brown ($7,000) is the fourth-most expensive wide receiver on the slate.
Terry McLaurin, WAS vs. NYG ($6,200): Only four teams on the slate have allowed more fantasy points to wide receivers than the Giants, who McLaurin did not play against back in Week 4. There are volume concerns with McLaurin, though he showed last week that he doesn't need much to make an impact, as he caught all five of his targets for 130 yards and a touchdown, his second straight week in the end zone. His price range is actually littered with interesting options, including Courtland Sutton ($6,200) against the porous Lions defense, Kenny Golladay ($6,500) versus a suddenly awful Broncos' secondary, and Sterling Shepard ($6,100) on the other side of McLaurin's game. However, paying up slightly for Amari Cooper ($6,700) might be a worthwhile expenditure, as he faces an Eagles defense that's allowed the most fantasy points to wide receivers among teams on the slate, one that's considerably worse than the Patriots, Bills, Bears and Rams that he faced in his previous four games.
Greg Ward, PHI vs. DAL ($4,200): Ward had a huge game with increased volume last week because of a mess of Eagles injuries, and he figures to be in line for a similar workload this week, albeit against a slightly tougher defense. With Alshon Jeffery (foot) out and Nelson Agholor (knee) unlikely to play, Ward could be Carson Wentz's top wide receiver against a Cowboys defense that allowed at least one wide receiver touchdown in five straight games, which came after they held wideouts out of the end zone in six of their first nine. There are a few sub-$5K receivers worth looking at, with Golden Tate ($4,800) against Washington, Danny Amendola ($4,900) at Denver and Curtis Samuel ($4,500) at Indianapolis decent options, though Washington's Steven Sims Jr. ($4,000) faces the same terrible defense that McLaurin does except he had 11 targets last week, catching five for 45 yards and a touchdown, with his 18 targets in the past two games more than McLaurin has had in his last three.
Zach Ertz, PHI vs. DAL ($6,200): Philadelphia's injury crisis has been a boon to Ertz, who has had at least nine catches on at least 11 targets in four of his last five games. He is obviously Wentz's top target in the passing game and now faces a Cowboys defense that has allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to tight ends this season. And while they haven't allowed a tight end touchdown since Week 10, we can't ignore that they allowed seven catches for 92 yards to the Bears' tight ends in Week 14 and 14 catches for 126 yards to the Rams' last week. Given some other options at the position, it's not a crazy week to consider playing two tight ends, especially since Ertz is outperforming the wide receivers who are priced similarly to him.
Austin Hooper, ATL vs. JAX ($4,400): Hooper's price is reflective of his recent output, as he's caught five of 12 targets for 52 yards in the past two games, but we've seen his significant upside at multiple times this season, and facing the Jaguars, who allowed two tight end touchdowns in Week 14 and 127 yards in Week 15, should only make us feel better. Despite the great situation, Hooper may not be overly owned since he's still not dirt cheap and he's not Ertz, plus Jacob Hollister ($4,200) is facing off against the Cardinals' infamous tight end defense and Dallas Goedert ($4,100) has the same matchup as Ertz, albeit with lower expected volume.
Washington vs. NYG ($2,800): The return of Daniel Jones is a bit of a disappointment, as Eli Manning is always a quarterback worth targeting against, but Jones is fine too, as he comes in with 11 interceptions and 33 sacks in 11 games. Meanwhile, Washington had 19 sacks and eight turnovers in their past four games, and they even scored 9.0 fantasy points against the Giants back in Week 4 despite losing 24-3. If you have a little more salary to spend, the Broncos ($3,500) at home against the Lions seems like a worthy consideration, while the Jaguars ($2,200) are an intriguing pay-down option against a quarterback who has thrown the seventh-most interceptions and taken the fifth-most sacks this season.