Welcome to Week 15!
This article is going to be a bit of a change-up this week. I’ve been thinking about how to make this piece better and more efficient for 2021 and beyond and I’m going to start by breaking down the highest owned plays and placing them into three bins: “Good Chalk” / “Questionable Chalk” / “Bad Chalk”. I’m also adding game-theory sections for potential leverage and roster construction ideas to pair with or move away from the popular plays.
Then, we’ll go through some under-owned great plays that are capable of big scores that could vault you up the leaderboards in tournaments.
I’ve enjoyed writing this column all season long and want to make it the stop for figuring out who is going over- and under-owned for tournaments. FanShare’s ownership projections have been really sharp and I want to make sure we’re leveraging them the right way in the future.
Let me know on Discord in the DFS channel or on Twitter (my DMs are open) what you think of the new format and any new features you’d like to see in this space next season.
All right. This slate is going to center around a few extremely popular plays and figuring out which of those players to roster and avoid will be the key to the week. Let’s dive in.
Note: The ownership projections referenced in this article are from our dashboard, which is powered by FanShare. These are updated constantly throughout the weekend.
Popular plays that should be the foundation of your rosters.
Derrick Henry ($9.0k DK; $10.2k FD) — 24% projected ownership
Only a handful of running backs have the ability to put the cash lines out of reach if you don’t have them and Henry arguably enters Week 15 with the highest ceiling of the bunch. In his career, Henry has averaged 24.1 fantasy points per game in wins and 13.3 FPG in losses while the Lions have allowed the fifth-most rushing yards and the second-most fantasy points to opposing RBs. The Titans are massive 11-point favorites to win. If the Lions somehow keep this game close and force Ryan Tannehill and Henry to keep their foot on the gas, Henry has a true ceiling of 40 DraftKings points.
Brandon Aiyuk ($6.3k DK; $6.9k FD) — 27% projected ownership
One of fantasy’s best kept secrets is no longer sneaky. Scott and I were both on Aiyuk as an awesome value and upside play last week on DraftKings and he delivered with 10/119 (24.9 points) at 5% ownership. This week, we won’t be so lucky to get Aiyuk at low ownership — I think he’ll push 35% in single-entry tournaments — but that doesn’t make him any less of a great play. Over his last five games, Aiyuk has seen a ridiculous 30% of 49ers’ targets which would tie Michael Thomas for fourth-most among wide receivers in this span (since Week 7). And with that stellar volume, Aiyuk has delivered weekly fantasy finishes of WR19 > WR6 > WR13 > WR12 > WR10. Deebo Samuel (hamstring) is out again, George Kittle won’t be back, and now Aiyuk gets to face the Cowboys — a team that just gave up 6/62/1 to the remains of A.J. Green a week ago.
Alvin Kamara ($7.4k DK; $7.8k FD) — 17% projected ownership
With Drew Brees making his return, Kamara is straight-up underpriced by at least $1,000 on DraftKings and $1,500 on FanDuel. The argument is easy. In nine starts with Brees, Kamara averages 21.5 expected fantasy points per game — which would make him the RB4 — and in four starts with Taysom Hill, Kamara averages 12.9 XFP (would be RB25). With Brees under center, Kamara’s target share was 26% and that led all running backs by a mile. The Chiefs have allowed 623 receiving yards to running backs this season, which is third-most in the NFL. And now Michael Thomas (ankle) is out. All in.
Leverage: Drew Brees ($5.9k DK; $7.5k FD) paired with Kamara + Kelce or Hill
The Saints cruised against the Falcons (twice) and Broncos, and then after the first signs of trouble against the Eagles, they’re back to Brees after one week. In the highest total game on the slate (52 over/under), Brees has 30 point upside with the Chiefs likely dictating the scoring pace. Over the last three combined seasons, Brees has averaged 312.6 yards and 2.4 passing TDs per game when the Saints are at home and the total is 50 or more points. HC Sean Payton apparently announced to the team on Monday that Brees would start this week, so I’m not concerned about his health. Brees paired with Alvin Kamara and then bringing it back with Tyreek Hill or Travis Kelce is a strong build.
Lamar Jackson ($7.5k DK; $8.2k FD) — 16% projected ownership
While Jackson is still struggling to see the field and hit open receivers, there is no question he’s looked closer to his MVP-self as a runner. Over his last two games against Cleveland and Dallas, Jackson has been much more explosive on the ground with 9.9 YPC. He was averaging 5.6 YPC in his previous 10 games. The Jaguars haven’t faced many running quarterbacks this season, but mobile quarterbacks like Deshaun Watson (12/75 in two games), Justin Herbert (9/66/1), and even Ryan Fitzpatrick (7/38/1) all had success on the ground. By the way, I have no idea what FanDuel is thinking with Jackson’s price. He’s a lock on that site.
Leverage: J.K. Dobbins ($5.9 DK; $5.9 FD) at 10% ownership
Jonathan Taylor ($7.2k DK; $7.4k FD) — 25% projected ownership
I think Taylor’s projected ownership will fall drastically with Kamara priced at just $200 more on DraftKings and $400 more on FanDuel, which only makes Taylor an even better play. We were all over Taylor last week in this article and, regardless of his massive salary increase (he was $5.8 on DK last week), Taylor still has the ability to put up a score that breaks the slate. Over his last three games, Taylor has handled 57% of the Colts’ carries after seeing a 27% carry share in his previous three games. And Taylor has crushed in his increased role in three easy matchups (vs. Packers / Texans / Raiders), tallying 64 touches, 414 scrimmage yards, and 3 TDs. Now he gets to face the Texans again.
Leverage: Philip Rivers ($5.9k DK; $7.1k FD) with T.Y. Hilton ($5.5k DK; $6.8k FD)
Jonathan Taylor carries a huge ceiling, but so does this Colts passing attack. Over his last five games, Rivers has gone over 285 yards four times, owns a 10:2 TD-to-INT ratio, he has a stellar 106 passer rating, and is the QB9 (18.5 FPG) in this span. The Texans are terrible against the run, but they are arguably even worse through the air. If we remove the one game where they played in Cleveland in hurricane-like conditions, Houston has given up 308 yards per game, an 18:3 TD-to-INT ratio, and 21.6 fantasy points per game to QBs over their last eight contests. Hilton is projected for 10-20% ownership across both DraftKings and FanDuel, but no one will play Rivers.
Good plays that have holes.
Cam Akers ($6.6k DK; $6.7k FD) — 27% projected ownership
You know the concerns here. Akers should get the bell-cow role again — he handled 79% of the snaps and 81% of Rams’ carries — but we can’t rule out Sean McVay going full galaxy brain and playing Malcolm Brown in the red-zone and in the passing game randomly. Also, there is a chance that the Rams just completely smoke the Jets which could allow them to rest Akers in the second-half and try to keep him fresh for their playoff push.
Leverage: Rams passing game
Jared Goff is projected for just 3% ownership. And it’s the Jets. They’ve allowed 19+ fantasy points in six-straight games to a variety of quarterbacks (Mahomes, Newton, Herbert, Fitzpatrick, Carr, and Wilson). Of course, we need the Jets offense to do something so the Rams have to keep their foot on the gas. I’m not convinced that happens and for that reason, I’m not convinced that Goff, Robert Woods, and Cooper Kupp have big enough ceilings for tournaments.
Calvin Ridley ($8.2k DK; $8.6k FD) — 15% projected ownership
Wes Huber made an interesting case for why this matchup is harder for Ridley and the Falcons than it may seem at first glance. I’m not convinced that Atlanta’s secondary is drastically better and think that their recent “improvements” is just a function of an easier schedule — they’ve played Teddy Bridgewater, Drew Lock, Taysom Hill (twice), and Justin Herbert since Week — but Wes’ point about Jamel Dean’s return is a great one that will go overlooked. Tampa can simply bracket Ridley, blitz Matt Ryan into oblivion and make him throw to Russell Gage and Brandon Powell. Ridley has gone over 90 yards or scored in the five games Julio Jones has missed over the last two years and is still a good play, but maybe not a great one.
Cole Kmet ($3.0k DK; $5.1k FD) — 19% projected ownership
Kmet is going to be everyone’s favorite punt tight end and for good reason. Over their last four games, Kmet has clearly played ahead of Jimmy Graham and has out-targeted him 20 to 11 and run 95 routes to Graham’s 63. Kmet is a good play for sure, but if Mo Alie-Cox (knee) sits, Trey Burton ($2.9k DK; $5.4 FD) might be an even play at far lower ownership. When Alie-Cox missed Week 6, Burton ran a season-high 28 routes which culminated in his best game of the season (4/58/1 receiving + a one-yard rushing TD).
Plays / stacks that will go over-owned.
Leonard Fournette ($4.5k DK; $5.5k FD) — 20% projected ownership
HC Bruce Arians thinks so much of Fournette that they made him a healthy scratch last week and played LeSean McCoy and Ke’Shawn Vaughn ahead of him. With Ronald Jones (finger, COVID) out, I’m not convinced that the Bucs’ just give Fournette the bulk of the workload. Plus, it’s not like this matchup is a slam dunk. The Falcons run defense has quietly been very strong and they are giving up a league-low -0.20 expected points per carry, which is better than the 49ers (-0.18), Saints (-0.18), and Rams (-0.17). Opposing offenses have noticed this trend, too. Team’s facing the Falcons have gone 60% pass-heavy when the game has been within a score this season, which is tied for the seventh-highest rate with teams facing the Seahawks. Fournette is a full fade if he’s going to be highly owned.
Favorite Plays That Will Go Under-owned
Tom Brady ($6.6k DK; $7.9k FD) — 7% projected ownership
If the Bucs’ do struggle to run the ball without Ronald Jones, it will fall on Brady to carry the offense. And we’ve seen Brady put up big scores this season when Tampa has thrown a ton. Brady scored 34.5 DraftKings points on 46 attempts vs. the Chargers, he put up 39.9 DK points on 49 throws vs. the Raiders, he had 34.8 on 39 attempts vs. the Panthers, and put up 26.7 on 41 passes against the Chiefs. The question is always who to stack Brady with and I think the answer is Mike Evans this week. The Falcons are giving up 18.6 fantasy points per game to wide receivers that line up outside, and that’s where Evans runs 65% of his routes. With the Falcons giving up the third-most fantasy points per target to TEs, Rob Gronkowski is my second choice for Brady stacks.
Michael Gallup ($3.5k DK; $5.2k FD) — 8% projected ownership
It’s been a tough season for Gallup, but this seems like one of the best spots he’s seen all year to hit a ceiling. Gallup actually leads the Cowboys in targets (30) and air yards (30% share) since Andy Dalton returned four weeks ago and catches the best matchup among the Cowboys talented WR trio. Gallup is the downfield threat in this offense — his average depth of target is 10.4 yards over the four weeks while Amari Cooper is at 9.2 and CeeDee Lamb is at 7.4 — and the 49ers are vulnerable on deep passes. San Francisco is permitting 11.2 fantasy points per game on throws of 20+ air yards, which is most in the league.
Washington Defense ($2.6k DK only) — 5% projected ownership
No one will want to play The Team against Russell Wilson. The Seahawks are going to put up points for sure, but it’s not like Wilson isn’t capable of making mistakes and it’s especially likely Washington’s elite front-seven will at least create the opportunity for sacks/turnovers. Washington is fourth in sack rate forced (8.3%) while Wilson is sacked at the sixth-highest rate among QBs (8%). In fact, Washington has forced 4 or more sacks in five of their last six games. They’re a little overpriced on FanDuel, but I think Washington is my favorite punt defense on DraftKings this week.