DFS Early Look: Week 16


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DFS Early Look: Week 16

Another week of NFL football is in the books, which means that more NFL football is right around the corner. With both FanDuel and DraftKings having released their Week 16 DFS pricing, it’s time to look ahead to next Sunday’s DFS slate.

Here are the most glaring values I’ve found after analyzing pricing.

James Robinson, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars (AT NYJ)

DraftKings: $5,900 (RB12) | FanDuel: $8,200 (RB4)

James Robinson has officially been freed, and appears to have returned to his bell cow role from Weeks 3 through 6, when he averaged 19.8 touches per game, 17.3 XFP per game, and 21.7 FPG. Among slate-eligible RBs, those numbers would rank 5th-, 6th-, and 2nd-best. Assuming a neutral matchup, that makes him an unmistakable value on DraftKings as the RB12 (by salary) and more of neutral play on FanDuel where he’s been priced up to RB4.

But this is nowhere close to a neutral matchup, in fact, it’s far and away the best matchup we have for opposing RBs. The Jets are giving up +11.3 schedule-adjusted FPG (most), 20.2 rushing FPG (most), and 13.9 receiving FPG (2nd-most) to opposing RBs this season. They rank dead last in PFF run defense grades (33.7), and 2nd-worst in Football Outsiders run defense DVOA (-0.5%). And they were just shredded by Duke Johnson on Sunday for 127 all purpose yards and 24.7 fantasy points. This is an elite matchup for JRob.

I’d expect Robinson to be one of the most popular plays of the week in an outstanding matchup on DraftKings where he’s about $1,000 too cheap.

David Montgomery, RB, Chicago Bears (AT SEA)

DraftKings: $5,700 (RB15) | FanDuel: $6,600 (RB14)

Over his last 3 games, David Montgomery has averaged 21.7 touches per game, 6.3 targets per game, 19.7 XFP per game, but just 11.9 FPG. He’s been massively inefficient (-7.8 PAR), but he is the bell cow in Chicago, seeing at least 70% of snaps in each of those contests.

So how do we approach Montgomery in Week 16?

Well, I really think we need to pick our spots for Monty. The volume is obviously great, but the tremendous lack of efficiency is obviously an achilles heel with this play, so, at least to me, Montgomery should only be considered a value whenever he draws strong matchups, which should at least help compensate for the brutal efficiency.

Thankfully, Seattle is giving up the 2nd-most schedule-adjusted FPG (+7.9) and 15.8 receiving FPG (most) to opposing RBs this season. Given Montgomery has seen 6.3 targets per game over the last 3 weeks, this matchup could easily be the cure for his recent underperformance.

We can’t trust Monty in cash games as he’s scored fewer than 10.0 fantasy points in 3 of the 5 games this season he has earned more than 20 touches. But, given his volume and price point, he’s worthy of consideration as a tournament pivot off the likely James Robinson chalk.

Rashaad Penny, RB, Seattle Seahawks (VS. CHI)

DraftKings: $5,500 (RB19) | FanDuel: $6,100 (RB21)

Penny absolutely smashed after Pete Carroll said he would “be a big part” of the game plan in Week 14, earning a 57% snap share and 63% of backfield opportunities. He scored rushing TDs on runs of 32 and 47 yards and easily looked like Seattle’s best rusher on his way to 26.8 fantasy points — the 2nd-best mark of any RB that week. With how unimpressive DeeJay Dallas and Alex Collins have been this season, it’s easy to envision Penny’s role expanding further as we finish out the season.

If Penny can capture just 70% of RB production in a backfield averaging 19.7 FPG, then we are looking at somewhere in the realm of 13.8 FPG. That may not sound particularly impressive, but among slate-eligible RBs, 13.8 FPG ranks 9th-best. And given Penny is priced as a low-end RB2 on both sites, that alone would make him a value.

But Penny comes with some obvious drawbacks. The primary one is a minuscule sample. We have no idea if Penny’s role will increase going forward. And this season, he’s played just 6 games and has only scored more than 2.0 fantasy points in 2 of those games. Plus, we know he’s one of the most injury prone RBs in existence, having only played 33 of 61 possible regular season games in his career. The potential return of Alex Collins from the reserve/COVID-19 list could eat into Penny’s Week 16 workload, and the return of Travis Homer from a calf injury could prevent Penny from carving himself out a substantial receiving role.

This is a risky play. But, getting Penny touches to justify selecting him in Round 1 in 2018 may very well be at the top of Pete Carroll’s priority list given the Seahawks have little else to play for. And, we’ve really never seen what a fully-healthy Penny in a high-volume role looks like. He’s only earned 12 or more touches in 4 career games, and in those games, he’s averaged 22.3 FPG on 15.5 touches per game. So maybe, just maybe, he’s actually really good and has just been astonishingly unlucky with injuries thus far in his career.

His Week 16 matchup with Chicago is a slight negative, as the Bears have allowed -1.6 schedule-adjusted FPG to opposing RBs (11th-toughest) this season. But, I don’t think that matters nearly as much as his workload Tuesday night. If he can capture 70% of backfield XFP and post a strong fantasy performance against LAR, then I see no reason why we wouldn’t view him as an outstanding value priced as a low-end RB2 against Chicago in Week 16. Just be sure to keep an eye on how he’s utilized Tuesday night.

Devin Singletary, RB, Buffalo Bills (AT NE)

DraftKings: $5,100 (RB24) | FD: $5,800 (RB24)

Don’t look now, but Devin Singletary may be the bell cow of the Buffalo backfield. Leading the Bills’ backfield certainly isn’t the most valuable role in fantasy, but if this usage continues, Singletary is likely a high-end RB2 with upside for the remainder of the season. And let’s not forget that our estimate of 15.5 FPG would rank 7th-best among slate-eligible RBs for Week 16. Assuming a continuation of his current usage, Singletary is a glaring value this week agnostic of matchup.

And the matchup itself certainly can’t be considered a negative, given New England ranks middle of the pack in schedule-adjusted FPG allowed (-0.6), and 8th-worst in receiving FPG allowed to opposing RBs (12.0).

With that said, no Buffalo RB has scored more than 18.1 fantasy points in an individual game this season, so Singletary’s ceiling may be limited. Regardless, he’s a glaring value priced as a low-end RB2 in his current role, and I’d expect him to be a chalky play in Week 16 as a result.

Cooper Kupp, WR, Los Angeles Rams (AT MIN)

DraftKings: $9,100 (WR1) | FanDuel: $9,800 (WR1)

Kupp not only leads all WRs in receptions, yards, and touchdowns — the esteemed triple crown — but he’s pacing the league in each stat, and, most importantly, by FPG. He averages 28% more FPG (+5.6) than the next-closest slate-eligible WR (Justin Jefferson). And yet, he’s just 8% more expensive than the WR2 (by salary) on DraftKings, and 13% more expensive on FanDuel.

At $9,100 on DraftKings, Kupp is priced like a high-end WR1, but not remotely close to a WR on pace for the single-greatest fantasy season of all-time. His 27.7 DK FPG leads all players at all positions (including QBs). And, among WRs, it ranks 2nd-most all-time, just 0.1 DK FPG behind Jerry Rice’s famed 1995 season.

If all Kupp does this week is score his per game average (27.7), then he’s already a 3.0X DraftKings value, and easily one of the most valuable WRs on the slate.

And that’s before we account for the matchup with Minnesota, who is giving up the most schedule-adjusted FPG (+8.8) and the 2nd-most slot FPG (18.2) to opposing WRs.

It isn’t difficult to poke holes in the other expensive WRs on this slate. Tyreek Hill has been great and is seeing the best volume of his career, but he’s also been inconsistent, falling under 10.0 fantasy points 4 times this season. Justin Jefferson has been dominant as of late, but the return of Adam Thielen limits his target upside, and he faces a much tougher matchup than Kupp.

It’s still early, but to me, paying up for Kupp is where lineup construction starts and ends in Week 16. He’s on pace for an unprecedented season, but he’s not close to being priced like it.

Diontae Johnson, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers (AT KC)

DraftKings: $7,500 (WR6) | FanDuel: $7,400 (WR8)

Diontae is coming off just a 5 target outing, his lowest of the season. But we can’t forget just how consistent he’s been otherwise. Prior to Week 15, Johnson had seen double-digit targets in an astounding 20 of his last 22 games with Ben Roethlisberger under center. Over this span, he averages 11.9 targets and 19.5 FPG.

This year, Johnson is 2nd (tie) in targets per game (10.4), 1st in XFP per game (22.0), 5th in air yards per game (115.4), 2nd in end zone targets per game (1.1), and 6th in deep targets per game (2.2). He has not only seen a notable improvement in target volume, but his role has dramatically changed, leading to a massive improvement in target quality. In comparison to last season, he’s seen a significant increase in air yards per game (up +50%), end zone targets per game (+81%), and deep targets per game (+71%).

And Johnson not only leads all players at all positions in XFP/G (22.0), but his 22.0 XFP/G ranks 2nd-most by any WR since at least 2008, just 0.2 XFP/G behind Calvin Johnson’s 204-target 2012 season.

Even including his abysmal Week 15, Johnson has still hit at least 20.5 XFP in 10 of 13 games this season (Cooper Kupp is the only other WR averaging over 20.5 XFP per game, another historically great mark, and he’s hit 20.5 XFP in just 7 of 13 games). Johnson has also seen double-digit targets and scored at least 15.0 fantasy points in 10 of 13 games.

Now, one of the most consistent WRs in fantasy draws Kansas City, in a game the Steelers will almost certainly need to throw as 10-point underdogs. So far this year, Johnson has averaged 19.9 FPG when Ben Roethlisberger attempts more than 40 passes (6 instances). That would rank 3rd-best among all slate-eligible WRs.

Given how easy it will be to justify Johnson as both a standalone play and a run back on Chiefs stacks, it’s easy to foresee one of the most consistent fantasy contributors in football being a chalky play in Week 16.

Marquise Brown, WR, Baltimore Ravens (AT CIN)

DraftKings: $5,800 (WR19) | FanDuel: $6,400 (WR22)

Marquise Brown sets up as a compelling value assuming Lamar Jackson manages to start in Week 16. And even if Lamar can’t suit up, I’d still consider Brown a value, albeit a lesser one.

Among slate-eligible WRs, Brown ranks 10th in DraftKings FPG (16.6), 8th in XFP per game (16.3), 6th in air yards per game (114.8), and 4th in deep targets per game (2.2). So already, he’s underpriced as the WR19 (by salary) on DraftKings (where he is the cheapest he’s been since Week 7) and the WR22 on FanDuel (cheapest since Week 4).

But over his last 5 games, Brown ranks 4th in targets per game (10.4), but just 38th in FPG (11.3) among WRs. So what’s with the massive underperformance relative to high-end WR1 volume? Well, those targets certainly haven’t been well placed, as Lamar Jackson has graded out as PFF’s worst passer (41.7 passing grade) in that span. We do know, however, that Jackson is far from the worst passing QB in the NFL. The 2 worst-graded passing games of Lamar’s career have come in the last 5 weeks, and it’s obviously unreasonable to expect that to continue. And if Lamar can return to just normal form, then Brown’s FPG will look a lot more like it did in the first 7 weeks of the season (18.6 FPG).

Should Jackson sit out in Week 16, that’s an obvious hit to Brown, but it’s still worth noting he will be heavily involved even if Tyler Huntley starts. With Huntley under center, Brown has still commanded a 28% target share over the last two games, and he’s the only Raven other than Mark Andrews with more than 10 targets in that span, with 21 total. The 11.7 FPG he’s averaged in those games certainly won’t turn any heads, but Brown’s target volume relative to his price is almost unmatched on this upcoming slate, and he offers enough big play ability to turn any of those targets into a long TD.

I’m not sold on this play for cash, but for tournaments, it’s hard to think of a more compelling (and likely low-owned) play among mid-priced WRs.

Amon-Ra St. Brown, WR, Detroit Lions (AT ATL)

DraftKings: $5,600 (WR21) | FanDuel: $6,500 (WR20)

Amon-Ra St. Brown has basically been the entirety of the Lions’ offense without T.J. Hockenson and D’Andre Swift. Over his last 3 games, St. Brown has averaged 11.7 targets per game, 83.0 YPG, and 21.2 FPG. Compared to his first 11 games, that’s a 149% increase in targets per game, a 160% increase in YPG, and a 207% increase in FPG. Among slate-eligible WRs this season, St. Browns’ numbers over the last 3 weeks rank 1st, 5th, and 2nd.

If St. Brown’s usage continues like this in any capacity, he’s an obvious value.

The matchup with Atlanta sets up great for St. Brown, as the Falcons have given up the 3rd-most schedule-adjusted FPG to opposing WRs this season (+4.7), and the 12th-most FPG (14.4) to opposing slots.

With that said, D’Andre Swift is expected to return to practice this week, and if he plays, that’s an obvious ding to St. Brown as Swift averaged 6.4 targets per game and was 2nd on the team in target share before getting injured. But even a 20% reduction in St. Brown’s recent volume would still be 9.4 targets per game, so Swift’s return is likely the difference between St. Brown being the best mid-priced WR value on the slate and just being underpriced in a strong matchup.

Given how he’s played the last three weeks, St. Brown is undoubtedly on every DFS player’s radar. Expect him to be chalk in Week 16.

Rob Gronkowski, TE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (AT CAR)

DraftKings: $6,200 (TE3) | FanDuel: $6,700 (TE3)

Chris Godwin is out for the year with a torn ACL, Mike Evans is questionable with a hamstring injury, and Antonio Brown hasn’t practiced since Week 6. There’s a real chance the Buccaneers offense will run through Rob Gronkowski in Week 16.

Last night, with both Godwin and Evans injured mid-game, Gronk set a season-high in targets at 11. Granted, it translated to just 4.9 fantasy points, but Tampa Bay was shut out in their worst performance of the Tom Brady era, so Gronk’s underperformance isn’t without reason. And prior to Week 15, Gronk still ranked 2nd among all TEs in FPG (15.5), 1st in red zone targets per game (1.3), and 1st in end zone targets per game (1.0). Now, Chris Godwin leaves behind 2.1 red zone targets per game (2nd among WRs) and 0.8 end zone targets per game (tied for 1st among WRs). Just how many of those high-value targets end up going Gronk’s way is anyone’s guess, but as an all-time red zone threat, he’s sure to benefit from Tampa Bay losing their top weapon in and near the end zone.

Carolina ranks as a neutral matchup for opposing TEs in the metrics that matter to me, but they have funneled targets to TEs this season, allowing 25.7% of their opponents targets to go to TEs (9th-most). So, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect one of Gronkowski’s highest-volume games of the season this week. Prior to Week 15, Gronk has averaged 17.3 FPG in the six games he’s earned 8 or more targets, a mark that’s just 1% less than the slate-leading TE (Mark Andrews), and yet, Gronk is 12% cheaper than Andrews on DraftKings, and 16% cheaper on FanDuel.

Jake Tribbey is the 2022 FSWA Football Writer of the Year and the leading Spring Football expert in the fantasy industry. He is a lifelong football fan obsessed with extracting every edge possible from DFS, Best Ball, and player props/futures.