If you’re looking for early Week 13 bargain Monday Night Football DFS picks before crafting your fantasy football lineups, then you’ve come to the right place. We’ve analyzed each Monday Night Football team’s highest-probability game scripts to assess which player on each team has a great shot at outproducing expectations.
Buccaneers vs. Saints Considerations
While the Tampa Bay Buccaneers aren’t exactly lighting the league on fire, unlike their Super Bowl successor Rams, the Bucs are in the driver’s seat for yet another postseason run.
And the New Orleans Saints? It’s been a season of what-ifs for a franchise that’s underperformed on defense (Marshon Lattimore’s extended absence hasn’t helped) and broken down on offense (see: Michael Thomas and Jarvis Landry). New Orleans’ horrendous QB situation has exacerbated matters, forcing Alvin Kamara and Chris Olave to practically carry the offense.
These early DFS bargains assume the Buccaneers will win roughly 23-13. You don’t need to hear about big names like Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, or Kamara. Olave also is too established to be viewed as under the radar.
This column is about the true bargains — players who might be priced 50% or less than guys like Evans and Kamara. Some might even cost 90% less. Picking the right bargain could transform a competitive lineup into a tournament winner.
Top Early NFL DFS Picks for MNF
Every key offensive Buccaneer from last season has underperformed this season. It could be argued, however, that Julio Jones has been better than expected, especially after the WR-needy Titans unceremoniously gave up on him.
But people generally overlook how good Jones was in 2020. Despite playing in only nine games, he was on pace for a 91-1,371-5 receiving line. Sure, he’s a step slower, but a healthy Jones was still one of the best in the game at age 31 two years ago.
Injuries have been his downfall. Yet, Tampa Bay has stuck with him — perhaps largely because Russell Gage has been out for more than a month. As a result, Jones has cemented his place as the team’s No. 3 WR.
For the second straight year, Tom Brady leads all QBs in pass attempts and completions. Evans and Godwin will continue to earn a substantial share of looks, but Jones has hit double-digit points in three of six contests. Brady is averaging a cool 111.7 QB rating when targeting him, compared to an overall 92.4 mark.
Also, the Saints have a league-low two interceptions. Even at middling productivity levels, Brady should be able to pick apart this defense. Jones will be priced comfortably lower than Evans and Godwin in DFS slates. While lacking their ceiling, he’s a fantastic bargain to plug into an otherwise high-end lineup.
Looking for an even bigger bargain? Then pay attention to rookie Cade Otton. As I offered this summer after Rob Gronkowski announced his latest retirement, Otton easily could finish this season as Tampa Bay’s top-producing tight end.
Now, here’s the funny thing about DFS and betting in general, which also translates into the fantasy world. Sometimes, a great performance follows a bad performance.
Years ago, I wrote about it as “the rebound effect,” using data to show that while our brains are quick to dismiss a player coming off a bad outing, that might actually be a great time to bet on a surprisingly good outing next time.
Otton earned zero targets last weekend after averaging 4.4 in his previous eight contests. Cameron Brate saw five looks, converting them into only two catches while lowering his dismal reception rate to 55.2%. Meanwhile, third-string rookie TE Ko Kieft caught his fifth pass of the season — a five-yard TD reception.
Yet, Otton still played on 52% of his team’s offensive snaps. Most importantly, the Bucs lost. Brate is not the answer, and Kieft is merely a situational option.
Otton’s DFS price will drop this week compared to last. It’s a foregone conclusion, as price setters reassess his realistic outlook. But we know better. The cheap Otton is worth a flier in most DFS lineups, giving you solid 8+ point potential at a minimal cost. Because the rebound effect is real.
Last season, Ryan Succop was No. 1 in the NFL with 56 made extra points. This year, he’s on pace for only 23.
The thing is, Succop’s getting plenty of field-goal opportunities, thanks to a Bucs offense that’s struggled to score. In fact, they’re averaging the league’s sixth-fewest points per game.
As a result, Succop is tied for third in field-goal attempts with 26, compared to merely 30 all last year. This marks a significant shift in his DFS value — especially for a guy who can still hit from 50+.
I’m comfortable betting on Succop to score 10+ points on Monday, with an outside shot at 14+ if Tampa Bay’s defense clamps down on Andy Dalton and his scant selection of playmakers.
Juwan Johnson or bust. After flopping this past weekend, his recently rising DFS price should shift in reverse. Besides Kamara and Olave (and sure, Dalton and Taysom Hill), no other Saint has realistic 12+ point upside in this matchup.
Johnson will be by far the most affordable of this group. And inside the red zone, he’ll have as good a chance of scoring as any of his teammates.