TLDR: Too Long, Didn’t Read
This is a gross, terrible, horrible, no good, very bad slate. This is a great week to get weird for tournaments, and this is probably the toughest slate we’ve had all season for cash. Here’s the core plays: Pay no attention to how I’ve ordered players in the analysis further down below, the rank order in the player grid above is what you should be focusing on. Just know it’s a tight week without clear tiers. WR is especially tough in that regard, so just make sure you’re spreading out ownership among the punt options. Apologies if this week’s article was a little light or sloppy. The holidays got in the way somewhat, but know I feel really good about the analysis and my grasp on the slate as a whole.
Deshaun Watson, QB, Houston Texans
[DK: QB3, FD: QB3]
Here’s what we said in Start/Sit:
Since the Bill O’Brien firing in Week 5, Watson ranks 3rd in FPG (24.6) and 2nd passing YPG (304.2). He’s rushed for at least 25 yards in 9 of his last 10 games, and at least 35 yards in 6 of his last 8. He leads all QBs in fantasy points over the last 5 weeks, averaging 25.0 FPG. And that’s in spite of the league’s toughest QB schedule over this stretch, worth (in quantifiable terms) an average of 1.9 FPG off of his per-game average. This week’s matchup should be much softer, however – Cincinnati ranks 9th-worst in fantasy points allowed per pass attempt (0.48). And Houston has a 27.5-point implied total this week – a number they’ve eclipsed (by points scored) just once over their last 8 games. Start him with confidence as an easy mid-range QB1 this week.
[DK: QB8, FD: QB8]
Mayfield is PFF’s 2nd highest-graded passer since Week 7 (91.9). Excluding those 3 really bad weather games for Cleveland (40+ mph winds), Mayfield is averaging 19.3 FPG, or 26.0 FPG across his last 5 games. Those numbers would rank 12th- and 1st-best, respectively. The Jets are the league’s top pass funnel defense, with teams throwing on them 58% of the time vs. a 53% expectation (based on game script and down and distance). They rank 5th-worst in passing fantasy points allowed per pass attempt, but 12th-best in RB YPC allowed. They’re giving up the 3rd-most schedule-adjusted FPG to opposing QBs over their last 5 games (+4.7). And we’ve seen a number of blow-up games from QBs against New York this season – Patrick Mahomes (36.6), Derek Carr (32.7), Josh Allen (28.2), Justin Herbert (27.7), Kyler Murray (27.3), Cam Newton (24.6), Russell Wilson (23.1), etc. The Browns have the 2nd highest implied point total of the slate (29.0), and Mayfield is a terrific leverage-play off of Chubb for tournaments.
Other / Notes
- You already know the argument for Jalen Hurts. We wrote him up as a borderline-lock 2 weeks in a row. If you don’t know the argument, you can re-read what we wrote here. Hurts ranks 2nd among all QBs in fantasy points over the last 2 weeks, his only 2 career starts. But he ranks 6th (DK) and 5th (FD) in salary this week. He threw for 338 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions last week, and has scored 13.6 and 12.3 rushing fantasy points on DraftKings the last 2 weeks. Because of that – or, rather, thanks to the magic of the Konami Code – he has both a massive floor and a massive ceiling for fantasy. He gets his softest matchup yet, against a Dallas defense that ranks 3rd-worst in passing fantasy points allowed per pass attempt.
- Mitchell Trubisky is a solid play, and for similar reasons to Mayfield. Of course, Nick Chubb and David Montgomery are even better plays than their QBs, but their QBs are also strong plays in their own rights, and terrific leverage off of their far-chalkier RBs. Chicago has the 3rd-highest implied point total of the slate (27.5). Like with Mayfield, the RB will probably score the bulk of those points and touchdowns, but if they don’t! Jacksonville is giving up the 4th-most schedule-adjusted FPG to opposing QBs (+3.0), just slightly above the Jets. Trubisky’s 3X expectation puts him at 15.7 DKFP, but he averages 18.9 since regaining the starting role.
- Always Patrick Mahomes? Always. He’s hit 20.0 DKFP in 13 of 14 games, and 30.0 in 6 of 14. There’s a narrative that Atlanta’s defense has been better in recent weeks, but even if that’s true, there’s a far fall from “worst defense against QBs” to “still a very favorable matchup for any QB.” Atlanta is giving up a league-high +4.2 schedule-adjusted FPG to opposing QBs, and Kansas City has the highest implied point total of the slate (32.25) in the highest over/under game of the slate (54.0). Mahomes has scored 79% of the team’s offensive touchdowns this year, so he doesn’t at all carry the same risk Mayfield and Trubisky do.
- I don’t love the matchup for Lamar Jackson, but he’s on a heater, averaging 30.6 FPG over his last 3 games. And hyper-mobile QBs like this are pretty matchup-proof. Keep an eye on our ownership projections for him. If he’s projected to be lower-owned, you should pounce.
- Keenan Allen is looking like a true game-time decision, and Hunter Henry has already been ruled out. But, in spite of that, Wes Huber still likes Justin Herbert quite a bit. You can read his full argument here.
- Russell Wilson at low ownership? I get it, but I’m not on it.
- I still contend that Drew Lock isn’t any good, but he is $5,000 on a gross slate. And Wes Huber made a very compelling case for him here, given the favorable matchup (based on Lock’s history against Cover-3).
David Montgomery, RB, Chicago Bears
[DK: RB3, FD: RB3]
Montgomery ranks as our 2nd-best overall value on both DraftKings and FanDuel (per the DFS SuperModel). Here’s what we had to say in the Week 16 XFP Report:
The 4 highest-scoring fantasy games of Montgomery’s 29-game career have all come over the last 4 weeks. Not surprisingly, he leads all RBs in FPG (26.5) over this span. Since Week 5, Montgomery averages 19.0 FPG and 18.0 XFP on 79% of the team’s snaps. Those numbers rank 4th-, 4th-, and 1st-best, respectively. If cutting that sample in half, you’d notice no increase in volume, but a massive boost in efficiency and production. He averaged a lowly 12.9 FPG on 18.2 XFP from Weeks 5-9, and a whopping 26.5 FPG on 18.0 XFP from Weeks 12-15.
Montgomery had long been an XFP buy-low / regression candidate – in other words, he’d long seen good volume but failed to capitalize on it. But he’s finally capitalizing on it. Montgomery averaged 3.6 fewer FPG than his expectation implied from Weeks 1-9. In other words, he was one of the 3 least-efficient RBs in fantasy football. Since then, he’s been the 2nd-most efficient player in fantasy football, out-scoring his expectation by 8.6 FPG. But why?
Last week I argued this was mostly due to a soft stretch of the schedule. Montgomery’s first 3 opponents during this stretch – Green Bay, Detroit, Houston – were worth a boost of about 6.1 FPG based on schedule-adjusted FPG allowed. However, Minnesota ranked 12th-best by the same stat (-1.2), and Montgomery smashed them as well, scoring 29.2 fantasy points on a 24.7-point expectation (32 carries, 2 targets).
Minnesota was a tough test, and he passed with flying colors. I’m sure strength of schedule was still a pretty big factor, but not the only one (and maybe not even the dominant one) behind his recent success. For instance, immediately before this stretch, Chicago made two key changes to their offense – 1) Pro Bowl center Cody Whitehair moved to left guard. 2) OC Bill Lazor started calling the plays for Chicago.
Montgomery is still hard for me to trust – we have a recent 4-game sample of utter dominance, and then a larger 29-game sample of pure mediocrity – but I fully trust him to return mid- to low-end RB1 production this week, in a soft matchup against the Jaguars. The Bears are favored by 7.5-points and Jacksonville ranks 4th-worst in schedule-adjusted FPG allowed to opposing RBs (+4.6).
Austin Ekeler, RB, Los Angeles Chargers
[DK: RB4, FD: RB9]
Ekeler ranks as the top-overall value on FanDuel, per the DFS SuperModel, and is probably also an easy cash game-lock on DraftKings. Here’s what we had to about him in Start/Sit:
In healthy games with Justin Herbert under center, Ekeler averages 13.0 carries, 8.3 targets, 19.9 XFP, and 19.5 FPG. If across the full season, he’d rank 2nd in XFP per game and 4th in FPG. Keep in mind, Ekeler ranked 6th in FPG last year (19.5) despite ranking just 12th in XFP per game (15.0). And since entering the league, he’s arguably been fantasy football’s most-efficient RB. He’s an easy must-start high-end RB1 in a top-12 matchup against Denver.
Note: WR Keenan Allen is looking like a gametime decision this week, and TE Hunter Henry is on the COVID-19 reserve list. Consider that a boost to Ekeler’s pass-catching floor if one or both are out.
[DK: RB22, FD: RB17]
Phillip Lindsay (hip/knee) has already been ruled out and Royce Freeman (hip) is questionable. That means Gordon should be locked into the bell cow-workload we saw from him in Weeks 2-4. Over this span, Gordon averaged 16.7 carries, 4.0 targets, and 17.9 DKFPG on 74% of the snaps. Freeman was the only other RB to touch the ball, and he averaged just 2.7 carries and 1.3 targets, seeing none of the near-end zone work. Despite the good production, this stretch also came against 3 tough opponents, worth a combined 3.5 FPG off Gordon’s expectation. But this week’s matchup is much softer – the Chargers rank 8th-worst in YPC allowed (4.61) and 13th-worst in schedule-adjusted FPG allowed to opposing RBs (+1.1). He’s one of the best overall plays on this gross slate.
Nick Chubb, RB, Cleveland Browns
[DK: RB2, FD: RB2]
The case for Nick Chubb is simple: He’s awesome, and he averages 29.8 FPG across his last 8 healthy games. He’s basically been a rich man’s Dalvin Cook, though that’s not at all how we’re viewing him. In fantasy, we typically chase snap% and avoid full-on committee backs who don’t get targets. That’s smart maybe 90% of the time. Peak Adrian Peterson (2007-2015) was a big exception. Derrick Henry too. And now, I think Chubb is one of those big exceptions to the rule. And even if not, projected game script is ideal for an early-down workhorse who doesn’t see much usage in the passing game – The Browns are 10.0-point favorites against the Jets.
The case against Chubb is also compelling: PFF’s highest-graded guard Wyatt Teller is questionable, likely to sit out. He’s played in 10 of 14 games this year. Cleveland exceeded 115 rushing yards in every game he played (averaging 177.3), and fell under that mark in every game he missed (averaging 91.0). Game script will be on Chubb’s side, but maybe not the matchup. The Jets are the league’s biggest pass funnel defense. The Jets are trailing and trailing by double-digits more often than any team in the NFL, but they rank 18th in rushing FPG allowed to opposing RBs (13.4). And they’ve given up just 1 100-yard rushing game all year.
All of this being said, he’s a great tournament-play (especially if stacked with Cleveland’s defense) with slate-busting upside.
J.K. Dobbins, RB, Baltimore Ravens
[DK: RB15, FD: RB19]
Dobbins isn’t a sure thing. Stuck in a 2-way committee with Gus Edwards, saddled with a QB who vultures rushing TDs and doesn’t throw to his RBs, you can argue both his ceiling and floor are in question. But he is a clear top value on FanDuel, ranking 5th-best among all players per the DFS SuperModel.
Dobbins has scored in 4-straight games, averaging 13.3 carries, 0.8 targets, 72.5 YFS, and 13.9 FPG. He’s played on 55% of the snaps, handling 59% of the XFP out of the backfield, with Mark Ingram playing on just 1 snap over the past 2 weeks. Again, this sort of volume isn’t very enticing, but Dobbins is a dynamic play-maker and a special talent, currently ranking 5th in YPC (5.16). And the matchup is also on his side, favored by 10.5-points, against a Giants defense that ranks 7th-worst in schedule-adjusted FPG allowed to opposing RBs (+2.2).
Darrell Henderson, RB, Los Angeles Rams
[DK: RB31, FD: RB29]
In a typical slate, Henderson wouldn’t be too exciting. But in this (super gross) slate, it’s no surprise Henderson ranks as a top-7 overall value on both sites (per the DFS SuperModel). With RB Cam Akers out, due to a high-ankle sprain, we should be expecting Henderson to return to the role he saw from Weeks 2-7. Over this span (minus Akers), Henderson played on 49% of the snaps and handled 64% of the XFP out of the backfield. He produced like a mid-range RB2 on mid-range RB2 volume, averaging 14.0 carries, 2.0 targets, 14.3 XFP, and 13.7 FPG. But he’s priced closer to a mid-range RB3 (or worse if excluding players off of the slate), ranking 31st in salary on DraftKings ($4,500) and 29th on FanDuel ($5,600). He gets a neutral, maybe slightly below average (if factoring in projected game script) matchup against the Seahawks.
Miles Sanders, RB, Philadelphia Eagles
[DK: RB6, FD: RB6]
Sanders has ranked highly in our projections, certainly too high most weeks (if we’re being results-oriented, which we probably shouldn’t), and he ranks highly again this week (top-2 among RBs on both sites). And I’m fully on board with it. Here’s what I had to say in Start/Sit:
Sanders was always in a position to be a 2020 league-winner. For one thing, he’s always on the field. He’s played on 74% of the team’s snaps in his 10 full games this year, which would rank 3rd-best among all RBs (behind Ezekiel Elliott’s and Christian McCaffrey, both at 76%). For another, he’s really freaking good. He ranks 2nd-best in YPC (5.44). And he’s reached at least 75 YFS in 9 of 11 games despite being held to 10 or fewer touches in 3 of those games. (SB)
The only thing holding him back was questionable play-calling and incompetent QB-play. But maybe those concerns have since been remedied. Philadelphia has played 2 of their best games of the season over the past 2 weeks, with Jalen Hurts under center. Sanders is averaging 15.5 carries, 3.5 targets, 5.77 YPC, and 19.8 FPG over this span. And he comes off of 2-straight tough matchups to face a Dallas defense that ranks 2nd-worst in YPC allowed (4.90) and 2nd-worst in rushing FPG allowed (19.4).
[DK: RB19, FD: RB17]
Bell isn’t necessarily a bad play, but I also don’t like him anywhere nearly as much as the rest of the industry seems to. Here’s what I had to say in Start/Sit:
Bell isn’t quite a “sit” – I have him ranked as a low-end RB2, so if you have a better option, play them. And, if you don’t, play Bell. I just want to make sure you know what you’re signing up for. He’s a solid play, but he’s far from a lock. In Week 13, with Clyde Edwards-Helaire out, Bell earned 11 of 17 carries and 2 of 4 targets out of the backfield. He played on just 52% of the team’s snaps to Darrel Williams’ 48%. Even last week, he played on just 32% of the team’s snaps to Williams’ 22%. So, a “Bell”-cow workload seems unlikely. And his Week 16 opponent is quietly very tough – Atlanta ranks 3rd-best in schedule-adjusted FPG allowed to opposing RBs (-4.3).
Other / Notes
- It’s looking highly likely Antonio Gibson will be back this week. He’s hard to trust coming off of injury, but the matchup is near-ideal and the price is right. Washington is favored (but not by much) up against a Panthers defense that ranks 5th-worst in YPC allowed (4.81) and 6th-worst in total FPG allowed to enemy RBs (25.8). He averaged 23.0 DKFPG across his last 5 full games, finally seeing involvement in the passing game and nearing a true bell cow workload.
- David Johnson with Duke Johnson already ruled out? Gross, but yes, he’s very much in play. Especially after last week, when he caught 11 of 11 targets for 106 yards. The Bengals rank 3rd-worst in YPC allowed (4.89) and Houston is favored by 7.5-points with one of the highest implied point totals of the slate.
- James Robinson is currently Questionable. If he’s out, is it Devine Ozigbo week? I’m not sure, but I’ll have something for you tomorrow in the Update.
- Jonathan Taylor is a decent contrarian play. It’s a brutal matchup on paper, but Taylor has been dominant over the last 4 weeks, seeing heavy involvement in the passing game. He reached a season-high 70% of the team’s snaps last week after averaging just 41% over his prior 6 games. And, maybe the matchup is only bad “on paper.” Pittsburgh’s offense has totally collapsed in recent weeks. I mean, Giovani Bernard scored 22.7 against them last week. He’s a risky play, but I suspect he has better odds of busting the slate than whatever ownership will imply.
DJ Moore, WR, Carolina Panthers
[DK: WR16, FD: WR8]
Moore ranks as a top-5 WR value on DraftKings, per the DFS SuperModel. Here’s what we had to say about him in Start/Sit:
Moore averages 8.8 targets, 103.8 yards, and 17.7 FPG over his last 4 games. And he’s seen better volume (measured by XFP) than Robby Anderson in each of these 4 games, averaging 16.7 XFP per game (to Anderson’s 10.9). For perspective, 16.7 XFP per game would rank 5th-best among WRs (tied with Keenan Allen) if over the full season, and is nearly double his average over his prior 7 games (9.5) when he was fighting through injuries. This is a tough-to-neutral matchup on paper, but not insurmountable – Washington ranks 14th-best in FPG allowed to outside WRs (21.1), 9th-worst in schedule-adjusted FPG allowed to opposing WR1s (+1.5). The bigger takeaway to me is it seems Moore has re-emerged as the team’s clear-cut WR1. I’m bullish enough to start him as a mid-range WR2 this week.
Jarvis Landry, WR, Cleveland Browns
[DK: WR7, FD: WR17]
The Jets are playing backup practice-squad-caliber players at all 3 CB spots. Over their last 5 games, opposing WRs are out-scoring their per-game average by 5.5 FPG when playing the Jets, which ranks 5th-most over this span. The 3 biggest games they’ve allowed have all been to slot-heavy WRs in Keenan Allen (36.5), Jakobi Meyers (28.9), and Tyreek Hill (25.8). Cole Beasley also tagged them for 112 yards and 11 catches in Week 7. Over the past 4 weeks, Jarvis Landry ranks 10th in FPG (19.7) and 9th in XFP per game (18.1). Per the DFS SuperModel, he ranks as a top-3 overall value on FanDuel, where he ranks just 17th in salary.
Allen Robinson, WR, Chicago Bears
[DK: WR4, FD: WR6]
Robinson remains a strong value on FanDuel, ranking 3rd-best among WRs per the SuperModel. He gets a top matchup this week, against a Jaguars defense that ranks 5th-worst in schedule-adjusted FPG allowed to opposing WR1s (+2.7), and 3rd-worst over their last 5 games (+6.0). Over this span, we’ve seen big games from Marquise Brown (98 yards), A.J. Brown (27.2 DKFP), Justin Jefferson (27.3 DKFP), Adam Thielen (21.5 DKFP), Jarvis Landry (31.3 DKFP), and Diontae Johnson (26.1 DKFP). Updating a stat from last week, it seems FanDuel’s price-adjusters haven’t appropriately accounted for the return of Mitchell Trubisky:
Trubisky has targeted Allen Robinson on 29% of his throws this season, compared to Nick Foles’ 22%. Robinson averages just 7.6 targets, 71.2 air yards, 11.8 XFP, and 13.5 FPG over his last 5 games with Foles under center. However, over his last 14 games with Trubisky, he averages 10.4 targets, 111.1 air yards, 18.4 XFP, and 18.9 FPG. If over the full season, those numbers would rank 2nd, 3rd, 2nd, and 6th-best among WRs.
(Note: Robinson is dealing with a hamstring injury. Keep a lookout for Edwin Porras’ Week 16 Injury Report, which will be published on Saturday.)
Diontae Johnson, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
[DK: WR12, FD: WR14]
Johnson is not without warts, but he’s also mispriced by about $2,000 on both sites if just looking at volume and production in games healthy. Here’s what we had to say in Start/Sit:
Johnson has a tough matchup on paper, and he’s struggled all season with drops. And Ben Roethlisberger has struggled with just about everything of late. Still, the volume he’s seeing is too good to pass up, too good not to start him as (at-worst) a fringe-WR1 this week. Excluding games in which Johnson missed time due to injury, he averages 18.7 FPG, 19.1 XFP, and 11.9 targets per game, hitting double-digit targets in 10 of these 11 games. If over the course of the full season, these numbers would rank 7th, 2nd, and 1st among all WRs.
Robert Woods, WR, Los Angeles Rams
[DK: WR6, FD: WR7]
Woods has now led the team's WRs in XFP in each of his past 5 games, averaging 17.2 XFP per game (13th-most), as opposed to the 11.2 he averaged through the first 10 weeks of the season. Or, colloquially, 10.6 targets per game on a 28% target share. He’s been pretty productive with that good volume, averaging 18.8 FPG across his last 7 games, but with a good amount of variance over that stretch (exceeding 25.0 in 2 games, falling under 9.0 in 2 games). Woods and Cooper Kupp both flopped in their last meeting against Seattle, but this is still the best on-paper matchup for any WR. Seattle is giving up a league-high 9.4 schedule-adjusted FPG to opposing WRs, though (buyer beware) they do rank 6th-best over their last 5 games. He stands out on this gross slate, but he’s certainly no slamdunk.
Jamison Crowder, WR, New York Jets
[DK: WR31, FD: WR22]
Crowder was looking like a potential league-winner before a Week 6 injury shut him down. He averaged 11.5 targets and 22.1 DKFPG through his first 4 games, earning double-digit targets in all 4 games and reaching 100 yards in 3 of 4. Since then, it hasn’t been so pretty. But he does average 6.3 targets and 12.3 FPG over the last 3 weeks. And he does get a dream matchup this week – the Browns are one of the league’s top slot funnel defenses, giving up the 5th-most FPG to slot WRs (15.7) but just the 18th-most to outside WRs (21.5). And he is cheap, at just $4,500 on DraftKings. He’s a strong value.
Mecole Hardman, WR, Kansas City Chiefs
[DK: WR62, FD: WR36]
Hardman is still only playing on about 33% of the team’s snaps, but he did see 9 targets (and 1 carry) last week, scoring 10.7 fantasy points. He’s still just a part-time player, but he is averaging 5.0 targets over the last 4 weeks, and maybe being a part-time player on the most explosive offense in football is better than being a full-time player on the Jets. The Chiefs have the highest implied point total of the week (32.25) and Hardman ranks as our top overall value on DraftKings (per the DFS SuperModel), priced at just $3,100.
Other / Notes
- Tyreek Hill has seen double-digit targets in 6 of his last 8 games. Across his prior 21 games, he had hit double-digit targets only 3 times. We’ve gassed him up multiple weeks in a row, highlighting the massive slate-busting upside he offers with this newfound boost in volume. You can read the full argument here. But, basically, Hill has long been the single most-efficient WR in fantasy football, putting up high-end WR1 numbers on mid-range WR2 volume. And now he’s seeing high-end WR1 volume. So, the math is easy here, and Atlanta is the softest matchup he’s had in months. Atlanta is giving up the 4th-most schedule-adjusted FPG to opposing WR1s (+5.6) over their last 5 games. If trying to decide between him and Kelce, Atlanta has been much tougher against TEs in recent weeks. (Note: He is dealing with a hamstring injury. Keep a lookout for Edwin Porras’ Week 16 Injury Report, which will be published on Saturday.)
- In the 5 games Julio Jones has missed this year, Calvin Ridley averages 22.0 FPG, 20.8 XFP, 166.6 air yards, and 11.2 targets per game. If over a full season, those numbers would rank 3rd-, 1st-, 1st-, and 1st-best among WRs. Since Week 11, he ranks 5th in XFP (19.0) and 6th in FPG (19.6). He gets a tough on-paper matchup against the Chiefs, but this should be a game ripe with passing production.
- Darius Slayton is by no means a sexy play, but he is cheap, and a top XFP-related value. Golden Tate has already been ruled out, and Daniel Jones is likely to be back. He’s seen 9 and 8 targets over the last 2 weeks, and gets a tougher-than-neutral matchup this week. He’s just $3,800 on DraftKings in a pretty gross slate. He ranks as our 2nd-best WR value on both sites, per the DFS SuperModel.
- Michael Gallup remains a great play. He’s a top XFP value, averaging 13.5 XFP since Week 8, and 14.7 since Week 13. He leads all Dallas WRs by a good distance over this span. But he’s also the cheapest by a margin. The high-aDOT archetype (which Gallup falls into) lends itself towards week-to-week variance, but also possibly tournament-winning upside. Expect Dalton to lean even harder on Gallup this week, with Darius Slay likely to shadow Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb up against the league’s 2nd-best defense against slot WRs.
- If Ryan Finley starts for the Bengals, I really like Tee Higgins, who has comprised 34% of his pass attempts this year. If it’s Brandon Allen, he’s still a strong but slightly less attractive play (team-high 24% target share). Tyler Boyd is out (concussion) and the matchup is exceedingly good. Without Bradley Roby, the Texans are giving up 129.2 YPG and 27.1 FPG to opposing WR1s – Davante Adams (44.6), D.J. Chark (27.6), T.Y. Hilton (25.0), Allen Robinson (27.3), T.Y. Hilton (11.1)
- Rashard Higgins averages 8.0 targets, 79.7 yards, and 17.3 FPG across his last 3 games. He’s just the 27th most-expensive WR on both sites, and draws a top-5 matchup against the Jets. He’s a strong value and a great stack for Baker Mayfield lineups.
- Wes Huber likes Tyron Johnson quite a bit, writing him up here.
- Laviska Shenault has 17 targets and 3 carries over the last 2 weeks. He’s a viable punt… As is Jalen Reagor after last week’s 8-target game… Jerry Jeudy hasn’t done much for a while, but he is very good at football and he’s cheap. That’s about the entirety of the argument for him… Cam Sims is the clear WR2 on Washington. He’s in play with Terry McLaurin doubtful, averaging 10.7 XFP over his last 3 games… In such a gross slate, there’s going to be a strong pull towards punt-WRs. I get it. Just please don’t keep making the same mistake I’ve been making. Be sure to differentiate your punts in GPPs. Especially this week…
Dallas Goedert, TE, Philadelphia Eagles
[DK: TE9, FD: TE7]
Through Jalen Hurts’ 2 starts, Philadelphia’s leading receivers (by XFP per game) are: Goedert (12.3), Jalen Reagor (11.7), Greg Ward (9.2), and then Zach Ertz (8.8). Since Week 11, Goedert ranks 4th in XFP per game (14.0), 5th in targets per game (7.4), and 7th in FPG (14.0). And yet he ranks just 9th in salary on DraftKings ($3,600), only $1,100 above the site minimum. That’s why he’s popping as a top value in the SuperModel, even though this matchup is slightly below average on paper.
Logan Thomas, TE, Washington Football Team
[DK: TE3, FD: TE5]
Thomas ranks as our top TE-value in our projections on FanDuel, but I like him quite a bit on DraftKings as well. Here’s what I had to say about him in Start/Sit:
Thomas is fresh off a game in which he scored 26.1 fantasy points on 15 targets. Since Week 6, he averages 12.8 FPG, which ranks 3rd-most among TEs (ahead of George Kittle), hitting double-digit fantasy points in 7 of 9 games. Over his last 3 games, he averages 19.4 FPG and 10.7 targets per game. Among wide receivers those numbers would rank 10th- and 5th-best, respectively. Terry McLaurin is banged up and struggling with an ankle injury, and Carolina has given up the 2nd-most FPG to opposing TEs since Week 9 (18.7). Start Thomas this week over any TE not-named Travis Kelce, Darren Waller, or George Kittle.
Here’s what my go-to tape expert told me yesterday:
Thomas’s production has far more to do with volume than efficiency or talent, but he is seeing elite volume and easy targets over the past 4 games. His TD vs Pittsburgh was due to a bust in coverage and with Alex Smith constantly throwing short routes, Thomas is often his first option. Expect that to continue this week, with Terry McLaurin banged up. The majority of his production has come underneath in zone defenses but as long as Smith is the QB (which is likely this week), he is going to produce because he just doesn’t throw it downfield. This is a great matchup for him – Carolina runs zone at the highest rate in the league.
Donald Parham, TE, Los Angeles Chargers
[DK: TE24, FD: TE33]
TE Hunter Henry has been placed on the COVID-19 reserve list. Per Field Yates, he’s out for Week 16. Per Gilbert Manzano, HC Anthony Lynn has confirmed Parham will start if Henry sits. This news puts him in consideration of being the top-overall TE play of the slate. Our expectations shouldn’t be too high in terms of scoring potential, but TE has been such an absolute wasteland this season, that a punt-play like this makes you feel like it’s Christmas. Parham averaged 15.7 FPG in the XFL this year, but has seen just 13 targets on only 110 total snaps with the Chargers this season. But the good news is, he out-snapped the only other TE (Stephen Anderson) 24 to 4 last week, and 5 of his 13 targets (38%) have come in the red zone.
Other / Notes
- Travis Kelce is officially the most expensive a TE has ever been on DraftKings. And there’s still a very easy and compelling argument to make for him. He averages 22.1 DK FPG, which would rank tied for 2nd-most among all slate-eligible WRs. So, basically, he’s priced at value. But, not if you factor in positional value. He out-scores (by DK FPG) the 2nd most-expensive TE by 177% but is just 149% more expensive. He outscores the next TE by 200% but is just 173% as expensive. And so on… The Falcons are giving up the 3rd-most schedule-adjusted FPG to opposing TEs (+3.2), but they’ve been quite a bit better in recent weeks (-4.3 over their last 5 games).
- Evan Engram is not an exciting play, but he is a decent value. He averages 11.3 FPG over Daniel Jones’ last 5 starts, and is his leading receiver by target share (20%). It’s not a lock, but it’s looking likely Jones will play, while WR Golden Tate sits out.
- Noah Fant comprised 40% of Drew Lock’s completions and 52% of his passing yards last week, catching 8 of 11 for 68 yards and a score. The Chargers are a top-7 matchup and a top-7 TE funnel defense. Maybe he’s back to full health, and he’ll keep beasting with WR1 volume. I’m not sure, but he is a strong tournament play.
- Wes Huber likes Austin Hooper quite a bit, who is popping as a strong value in a dream matchup. He wrote about him here.