I hope everyone has a great weekend and a very Merry Christmas! Just two weeks left in the regular season and it’s a short week of research with the main slate of games on Saturday, so let’s jump right to it.
If you’re looking for DraftKings picks, Neil has his weekend recommendations HERE.
The best quarterback play of the week is a guy I’ve been recommending against the last few weeks, Drew Brees ($8,500). Brees was able to right the ship last week, just before he heads back to his home dome where I shouldn’t have to tell you… he’s GOOD. If we throw out the game against Detroit at home (super slow pace, surging defense) last time out, here is Brees’ game log at home in order of most recent: 32.5, 23.02, 20.7, 33.6, 26.94, and 31.42. That’s impressive. And what’s more impressive is that the two games in the low 20’s were against two of the leagues best defenses, the Seahawks and Broncos. While I do think that the Buccaneers defense has gotten better throughout the season, I’m not necessarily scared of them, especially on the road in the Superdome. Brees is underpriced this week and I want to exploit that.
Every single week we can count on the quarterback playing against the Cleveland Browns to have a solid floor and a high ceiling. That guy this week is Philip Rivers ($8,200). Rivers has struggled in recent weeks, but this is definitely a spot for him to get right. I think his floor is 15-17 this week, with a ceiling north of 25. With Melvin Gordon going down and unlikely to play this week, I think the Chargers will rely on the passing game to score points and avoid being the first team to lose to the Browns on the season.
If not for a banged up shoulder, I would be very interested in Cam Newton ($7,900). Don’t get me wrong though, there still is some interest here. I’ll be watching this situation closely. Newton had his get right game last week where he threw for at least 300 yards and multiple touchdowns for the first time in eight weeks. He has another juicy matchup again this week, squaring off against the Atlanta Falcons. I’ll be keeping a close eye here.
Can we consider rostering Blake Bortles ($6,200) this week? It’s not something I’m excited about doing, but I think we have to consider it. Over the past six games, Bortles has faced, in order of most recent first, the 1st, 3rd, 2nd, 16th, 14th, and 1st ranked pass defenses according to FanDuel. That’s a brutal schedule. The problem is that he has regressed this year. The thing is, his price and matchup have finally found a week to work together to make him a decent play. The Titans are pretty stout against the run, but their pass defense has been downright bad. There is a wide range of outcomes possible here, with one end of that spectrum crippling your team. However, the high-end of that range is 25 points, which would put you well ahead of the pack for only $6,200.
The must play at running back is a bit cheaper than in past weeks, and that is Jordan Howard ($7,200). In my opinion, he is the best point for dollar play for Week 16. Howard has been exceptional since becoming the number one back in Chicago, and his matchup and price this week are too good to pass up. I’d consider paying $8,000 for him this week, so at this price, I’m locking him in one spot.
David Johnson ($8,700) scored 24.8 FanDuel points last week and his price dropped $1,100. He went from one of the best matchups last week to one of the worst this week. Personally, I’m fine paying this price for him, even playing against the Seahawks, in Seattle. If Arizona is going to have any chance in this game, Johnson needs to touch the ball 30+ times. In their previous matchup this year he had 41 total touches. He was targeted 13 times in that game on top of receiving 33 carries. Even if they fall behind here, Johnson should still get plenty of opportunities. My only worry in this game is that Bruce Arians is still the coach of the Cardinals and they literally have nothing to play for.
I think a sneaky good play this week is Jay Ajayi ($6,700). It wasn’t long ago that Ajayi was unstoppable. Then his offensive line fell apart and he has found it much more difficult to find running room. His offensive line has been pieced back together and he has a great matchup against the Buffalo Bills this week, who he rushed for over 200 yards and a touchdown against earlier in the year. The only hesitation here is that Mike Pouncey is still out and all of Ajayi’s good games came when Pouncey was playing. However, the rest of the line hasn’t been healthy either the previous few weeks, and last week was against the Jets, who have been one of the top run defenses all year. I mentioned last week that I was interested in taking more chances to close out the year, and I might be willing to do that here.
If Julio Jones ($8,500) plays this week, and it appears he won’t be limited, he’s one of my top targets. He destroyed this Carolina secondary earlier in the year, and while I don’t expect a repeat performance of 12-300-1, we would still be happy with about half of that with the touchdown. There is some risk here, though, as we don’t fully know whether or not he’s 100%.
The next guy I’m really high on is T.Y. Hilton ($7,600). Hilton is as up and down as anyone, but I think this is a matchup where he’ll be up. This game has shootout written all over it and when all is said and done, I won’t be surprised to see Hilton with 10+ catches and over 100 yards. Throw in a touchdown and he’s an excellent play.
On the other side of that game, I’m interested in Amari Cooper ($7,200). I’ve been very high on Cooper in certain spots this year and I think this is one of those spots. Oakland’s offensive coordinator was quoted saying they need to “make up for lost ground” in regards to Cooper’s targets, etc. I think he gets forced the ball this week and he’s an exceptional receiver. If balls are coming his way, I think he’ll do enough to pay off his salary with a lot of upside.
My favorite play at receiver might be Michael Thomas ($6,900). This is who I’m most interested in pairing with Brees. Thomas has been the best receiver in this offense all year, and after having some injury issues he’s back healthy and in the Superdome. I think Thomas is a solid bet to score a touchdown this week and could cross the 100 yard plateau too.
A play that fits my “taking chances” motto is DeAndre Hopkins ($6,600). Hopkins has been bad all year. That was mainly because of the inept offense he was playing in. With Tom Savage named the starter this week, Hopkins has to rejoin the conversation as a viable fantasy option. Hopkins saw 17 targets last week in a game where Savage took over and led a comeback win. In the preseason, Savage also targeted Hopkins a ton. Why wouldn’t he? If I was a backup quarterback trying to make it in the league, I would also throw the ball as much as possible to my elite receiver. I think he does that again this week and it could pay dividends for fantasy owners.
If I’m looking for a cheap receiver this week, Dontrelle Inman ($5,600) is where I’ll go. Inman is very underpriced. Before a “down” week last week, with five catches on eight targets and 68 yards, Inman had reeled off three straight games with a touchdown. He was still heavily involved in Week 15, just didn’t find the end zone. Against the Browns, he is an excellent point per dollar play for Week 16.
Tight end for me is one guy, Cameron Brate ($5,600). Brate is a huge target and that bodes well in the red zone. He’s arguably been Jameis Winston’s favorite target in recent weeks. A game in New Orleans raises his outlook even more than what it already would have been. At this price, he’s a no brainer.
He’s my guy this week and I’m not looking elsewhere at the moment.
I think the best play this week is the New England Patriots ($5,000). They’re not cheap, but they give us a solid projection with upside for more. To be honest, this is a situation where I don’t love any one defense this week, so let’s pay up for the defense playing the worst quarterback. Bryce Petty has turned the ball over six times in his three games and has only thrown for two touchdowns. I don’t see a way he does anything against the Patriots defense, making this a very safe play.
We can go a couple different ways at kicker this week.
At the high-end we have Matt Bryant ($5,200). Bryant has been exceptional this season with eight double-digit FanDuel point games in his last 11. His high during that run was 16 points. He’s safe and has elite upside at the position. If I can afford it, I’m going to pay it.
At the low-end, we have Robert Aguayo ($4,500). In a dome and in a high scoring game are two recipes for success. Aguayo started the season rough, but he’s bounced back and has been pretty good over the past seven weeks, connecting on 14-of-16 field goal attempts. He has the same upside as Bryant, but we’ve seen a much lower floor, which is where the price difference comes in.
Week 15 Stay Aways
Tom Brady ($9,000) was on my initial list of interests, but I’m going to stay away this week. His price is too high, and while he has about the best matchup you can ask for, I just don’t think he’ll need to do much in this game. If it was going to be a shootout and Brady was going to have to keep pace with the other team, he would have 400 yard, four touchdown upside. In this matchup, I think 250 yards and two touchdowns is approaching the ceiling. The Patriots should have no problem marching down the field and jumping out to a quick double-digit lead. Once the lead is established, the backfield should take over and put their stamp on this one. On top of that, I expect the Patriots defense to have a good chance of scoring as well this week, giving Brady even more of a cushion and less of a chance to need to put his foot on the gas.
Todd Gurley ($7,900) – Don’t play him! This price is absurd. I would have some interest in him in this matchup if he was cheaper, but no way I’m paying $700 more for Gurley than Howard. I think Gurley is talented, but this offense is horrible and he needs help to actually accrue fantasy stats and I don’t think it will be there.
I would stay away from Adrian Peterson ($6,400) this week as well. At this price it’s tempting, but he wasn’t good before he got injured and I don’t expect him to be after the injury either. This offense just isn’t built for Peterson to turn in 100 yards and find pay dirt. There’s more upside elsewhere.
Brandin Cooks ($7,100) isn’t a bad play. I just think everyone will see his explosion last week and he’ll be overowned this week. We can save $200 and play the number one option in the offense at a discounted ownership. I may shift some interest if for some reason it appears that Cooks will be significantly lower owned than Thomas as we get closer to lock, but at first look, Thomas is the much better play.
I’ve been higher than anyone on Robby Anderson ($5,500) the last two weeks, but it’s time to cash out our ticket and move on. It’s like the slot machine at the casino that gets hot and won’t stop paying out. Well eventually, it’s going to take all that money back from you when it turns cold. Just cash out why you’re ahead! Anderson is no doubt Petty’s favorite target, but that will only get you so far. His price has come up too far and this offense is tanking. There are better plays at similar prices.
Hopefully Coby Fleener ($4,700) wasn’t on your target list this week, but if he is, let me just say, STAY AWAY! People keep recommending Fleener even though we know he is BAD at football. Sure, he’s a warm body in an offense that should score a lot of points. Sure, he could be in the right place at the right time and the football could fall into his arms in the end zone. Those are just a lot of things that would have to happen by chance. This is not a high risk, high reward play. It’s a super high risk, very low reward play. Just don’t play him.
Well, that’s it for this week. Be sure to follow me on twitter at @mrclutchdfs if you want to get any updates from me on which way I’m leaning on some of these plays come Saturday.
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