For those of you who made your season-long finals – congratulations! For the 80% of fantasy participants that didn’t make the finals but who don’t want their fantasy football season to end, welcome to DFS.
I like the Thursday slate this week, so if you want to spend your Christmas Eve watching football, get some picks here. Alright, here are the picks of the week:
Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers ($6,800): Your leader in passing yards per game this season? That would be Ben Roethlisberger with 337 yards per tilt. He faces off against the Baltimore Ravens who are an abysmal 29th in defensive efficiency versus the pass. The Ravens are usually a tough test for the Steelers, but these Ravens could not be more depleted. Should be a huge game for Big Ben.
Bang for Your Buck
Phillip Rivers, San Diego Chargers ($5,700): It hasn’t been a banner season for the Chargers, but Rivers is still having an impressive campaign, ranking second in the league in passing yards with 4,287. The Raiders are much improved, but their pass defense still leaves something to be desired, giving up the 5th most passing yards in the league. Rivers looked like a man on a mission last Sunday and I think that carries over to Thursday.
Alex Smith, Kansas City Chiefs ($5,100): Smith has thrown touchdowns in 4 straight games and has also been a threat with his legs this season. He faces off against a struggling Browns defense who rank 30th overall in defensive efficiency per Football Outsiders. Smith isn’t usually putting up huge scores, but I think he will have a nice game against a bad defense.
Doug Martin, Tampa Bay Bucs ($6,600): Martin is truly having an amazing season, ranking 2nd in rushing yards (only 9 yards behind Adrian Peterson) and is 1st in yards per attempt among running backs with over 150 attempts. This is a ridiculously low price against the Bears defense who rank last in defensive efficiency versus the run. I think Martin will be the league’s rushing leader at the conclusion of this game.
Latavius Murray, Oakland Raiders ($5,000): Murray is another guy who is underrated in fantasy. He ranks 5th in the NFL in rushing yards and is about to surpass 1,000 on the season yet he is only the 14th most expensive running back. Moreover, he faces a struggling run defense in San Diego as they are 2nd from the bottom in defensive efficiency versus the run. Murray averaged 5.7 yards per attempt (on 15 carries) and scored a touchdown in his last meeting versus the Chargers. I think he is even better this time.
Bang for your Buck
Karlos Williams, Buffalo Bills ($4,500): Karlos Williams was a productive running back at the beginning of the season when he was healthy, even when LeSean McCoy was in the lineup. Williams is finally healthy again and McCoy is out of the lineup which could portend huge things for Williams. Dallas is only ranked 27th against the run in defensive efficiency and Williams will have his chances. I like him for a big game.
Bilal Powell, New York Jets ($3,900): Reminder – DraftKings scoring is full PPR. Powell has caught 5 or more balls in 3 straight games and in 4 of his last 5, and has been over 19 DraftKings points in his last 3 games. He gets to face the Patriots this week who are ranked only 21st in defensive efficiency versus the pass against running backs. Look for Powell to catch a bunch of balls again and score well into the double digits.
Alfred Morris, Washington Redskins ($3,600): Morris has started to get more work with double digit carries in 3 of his last 4 games. And Matt Jones may not play in the ever important game against the Eagles on Saturday night. The Eagles allow the 3rd most rushing yards in the league and Morris looks primed to have his first 100 yard rushing day of the season. At this price, he is worth a dart throw.
Charles Sims, Tampa Bay Bucs ($3,300): I probably wouldn’t play both Doug Martin and Sims, but Sims is having a great all around season going over 400 yards in both rushing and receiving yards. He has gone over 70 total yards in the last three weeks and should get opportunity on 3rd down out of the Bucs’ backfield. At this price, I like Sims for 60+ total yards including 5 catches and potentially a touchdown.
Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers ($9,300): Brown has taken over the league lead in receiving yards and has been an absolute monster in every game that Big Ben has played. The Ravens will have no answers. It’s not complicated – make the budget for Brown, who is the surest bet in the game.
Allen Robinson, Jacksonville Jaguars ($7,500): Robinson wins this week’s sweepstakes of who gets to play against the Saints. The Saints have now allowed an astounding 39 passing touchdowns, which is 8 more than second worst Miami. Robinson is tied for the league lead in receiving touchdowns. This could be another multiple score game for A-Rob.
Eric Decker, New York Jets ($6,500): Look for Logan Ryan to cover Brandon Marshall, with safety help over the top. That will leave Decker one on one with Malcolm Butler. Butler is a great cornerback, but I think he will have his hands full with Decker who has 930 yards and 10 touchdowns on the season. Decker will be targeted often and should produce.
Bang for your Buck
Jeremy Maclin, Kansas City Chiefs ($6,000): Maclin is averaging nearly 100 yards per game over his last 4 games with 4 touchdowns over that span. The Browns rank only 28th in defensive efficiency versus the pass and should have their hands full against a hot Chiefs team. Maclin could score again and I’d count on him for over 75 yards receiving.
Brandin Cooks, New Orleans Saints ($5,900): I like this price for Cooks who faces off against Jacksonville who allow the 8th most passing yards in the NFL. Cooks has gone over 100 yards and scored in 2 of his last 3 games. His good form should continue on Sunday.
Brandon LaFell, New England Patriots ($4,500): The Patriots are likely without both Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola this week, meaning their receivers are LaFell, Keshawn Martin and Leonard Hankerson, who signed last week. LaFell should be seeing a ton of targets and this game will likely be more high scoring than you think. The Patriots had 355 yards passing against the Jets in their last meeting and someone has to catch the ball.
Dorial Green-Beckham, Tennessee Titans ($4,000): Green-Beckham looked really good last week when Zach Mettenberger played QB and he gets another dose of big Zach this week. DGB has gone over 100 yards in 2 of his last 3 games and will be the primary receiving option out of the Titans wide receiving corps. I like another nice game for DGB.
Rueben Randle, New York Giants ($3,500): With Odell Beckham, Jr. suspended on Sunday, may I introduce you to the Giants’ #1 receiver for the week? Beckham’s targets need to go somewhere and Randle will likely be seeing the ball much more. In addition, Randle has caught touchdowns in 3 of his last 4 games. Look for a nice game at this low price.
Dontrelle Inman, San Diego Chargers ($3,000): This is a minimum priced guy who might be the #1 receiver for the Chargers this game. As I have already stated, the Raiders have trouble versus the pass, yielding the 5th most yards. Inman has gone over 50 yards in 3 of his last 4 games and should make it 4 out of 5.
Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots ($7,600): Gronk had a season high for catches and yards in his last tilt against the Jets and there is no reason to think that the Jets have found the formula to stop him. Gronk has caught touchdowns in his last 3 games and in 4 of his last 5 games. As I mentioned in the LaFell section, the Pats are low on receivers, so I think 100+ yards and a touchdown is a realistic expectation.
Bang for your Buck
Julius Thomas, Jacksonville Jaguars ($5,100): Thomas gets to face off against the Saints who are absolutely dreadful against the tight-end ranking dead last in defensive efficiency. And Thomas has started to pick up his game recently, going for over 50 yards in 3 of his last 4 games and scoring in 4 of his last 5. Against the Saints, Thomas could go for 90+ yards and a touchdown.
Eric Ebron, Detroit Lions ($2,900): This is a really low price for Ebron, who has had trouble staying on the field but has produced when he has played. Ebron went for 79 yards in his last game on Monday night and showed some good burst. I like for a nice game against San Francisco who only rank 24th against the tight-end.
Bang for your buck
Buffalo Bills ($3,200) vs. Cowboys: The Bills have been disappointing on defense but they play against Kellen Moore and the Cowboys this week. If you watched Moore last week, you would know that there will be at least a turnover for the Bills this week.
Houston Texans ($2,800) vs. Titans: Speaking of QBs who turn the ball over – meet Zach Mettenberger, who threw 2 picks against the Patriots last week in relief. The Texans should have their way with the Titans offense.
For my complete lineup, follow me on twitter @AssemblyNeil