XANDAMERE’S SHOWDOWN SLANT
Week 14 wraps up with the Patriots visiting the Cardinals for a 43.5 total game in which New England is favored by a point and a half on the road. So, with modest team totals, and a close spread, it’s likely to be a somewhat grindy game. Let’s figure it out.
On the Cardinals side, James Conner has a monstrous role of late, playing at least 71% of the snaps in every game since returning from injury in Week 9 and even getting up to 96% of the snaps in two of those four games. In those four games, Conner has handled 12, 24, 19, and 28 running back opportunities, with an average of four targets per game. That, my friends, is an elite role. Backup Keontay Ingram has a total of eight carries and zero targets since Eno Benjamin was released, while Corey Clement saw a single target in Week 12 (you go Corey!). The matchup here is awful against a Patriots D that is 3rd in overall defensive DVOA, 7th against the run, and 3rd against the pass, but the role here is so robust that it gives Conner a high floor and also access to a very high ceiling, should he find his way into the end zone. Conner is not the most efficient back in the world and is highly unlikely to get to 100+ rushing yards, but his touchdown equity is huge. He’s a strong play here based on role and volume, while Ingram is priced cheaply enough to be a viable “hope for a touchdown” RB2 punt who would become very strong should Conner get hurt.
Ownership updates automatically
In the passing game, the Cardinals told us Marquise Brown would be on a snap count in his first game back from injury, and then he played 97% of the snaps and led the team in targets with eight. I guess it’s safe to say he’s fully healthy. Brown and DeAndre Hopkins will be the primary pass catchers for the Cardinals, and while Hopkins is going to project higher than Brown, given the massive $4,000 price difference between them, I think Brown is a significantly better play. Both are viable, of course, and Hopkins is in a weird spot price-wise. Hopkins is the most expensive skill position player on the slate by a wide margin, but people are going to want to play Kyler and they’re going to want to play Rhamondre Stevenson, so I’m curious where Hopkins’ ownership lands. I don’t think he’s going to go overlooked or anything because people will see a strong projection and that nice big 21.7 number in the fantasy points per game column on Draftkings, but if pricing drives people away and he comes in under 35% or so, that’s a bargain from an ownership perspective. Brown is an absolute smash play at $7,600, to me, despite the tough matchup. We generally don’t see guys on the WR1/WR2 border priced at that level (Brown is averaging 17.6 DK points per game, which is 10th in the NFL). Everyone else is going to be a secondary option here, with one other real point of interest: Rondale Moore didn’t practice on Friday and seems likelier than not to miss, which would open up Greg Dortch at $2,200. We haven’t seen how Dortch’s role would work with both Hopkins and Brown active, but what we do know is that in the four games in which he’s played at least 71% of the snaps (the four Moore has missed except for last week, when both were inactive), Dortch has a total of 33 targets with 29 catches for 301 yards and a touchdown, scoring at least 13.3 Draftkings points in each game. Not bad for $2,200, and my guess is if this scenario plays out, Dortch would run primarily in the slot with Brown and Hopkins on the perimeter, while A.J. Green and Robbie Anderson would see their snaps get squeezed. Green is somehow $5,200 despite averaging just 3.8 Draftkings points per game. I’ll pass except for a tiny sprinkle in tournaments. Anderson seems to have no upside left at this point in his career (or in this role in the offense), having a high score of 2.7 Draftkings points since joining the Cardinals. He can also be a tourney sprinkle. At tight end, Trey McBride is in a big role since Zach Ertz got hurt with at least 76% of the snaps in those three games, but it has only come with eight targets for a 6/22/0 receiving line; he’s just not really being used in the passing game. Given that he’s on the field so much, I think he’s a bit more than a punt option (I would not be surprised to see him more involved at some point this season – he was a 2nd round pick, after all), while backup TEs Stephen Anderson and Maxx Williams are pure punts.