DFS Early Look: Week 16


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DFS Early Look: Week 16

Week 15 of the NFL regular season just wrapped up, and that means Week 16 is just around the corner. As my readers likely know, DFS is the best version of fantasy football, and since DraftKings and FanDuel have released their Week 16 prices, it’s time to track down the obvious values and best plays.

Here are the plays that jump out to me for Week 16 DFS:

Geno Smith, QB, Seattle Seahawks (@ KC)

DraftKings: $5,800 (QB10) | FanDuel: $7,600 (QB8)

Geno Smith is the QB8 this season by DraftKings scoring (20.4 FPG), ranking 6th in fantasy points per dropback (0.51), 2nd in completion percentage over expectation (5.1%), and 3rd in passer rating. He’s playing outstanding football for both Seattle and fantasy owners. And both cohorts will need a big game from Geno this weekend, as a win for Seattle will push their playoff probability from 30% to 68% (per 538).

It will be an uphill battle for Smith and the Seahawks as 9.5-point underdogs. But, that should force Seattle to throw as much as any team in Week 16. And if there is a team to throw against, it’s Kansas City. The Chiefs are allowing the 2nd-highest passer rating (100.3), the 4th-most fantasy points per dropback (0.47), and the 5th-highest completion percentage over expectation (3.6%).

Expect Smith to be chalk in a must-win game against one of the softest pass defenses in the NFL.

Derrick Henry, RB, Tennessee Titans (VS. HOU)

DraftKings: $8,600 (RB2) | FanDuel: $9,800 (RB1)

Since 2019, Derrick Henry has averaged an absurd 32.2 FPG and 195.6 rushing YPG against the Houston Texans (5 instances). If he played the Texans for all 17 games in a season and those averages held, Henry would rush for 3,325 yards and 31 TDs.

Oftentimes, I would consider citing opponent splits as small-sample bias. But that’s just not the case with Houston. They are right there as the worst run defense in the NFL (for seemingly the 5th year in a row), allowing the 2nd-most yards after contact (1,259), the 5th-most yards before contact per attempt (1.6), the most missed tackles (110), and the most total rushing yards (2,156).

It’s a further boost to Henry that the Titans are 7.0-point favorites, as he’s averaged +10.8 more FPG in wins (24.7 FPG) than losses (13.9 FPG) since 2019. Everything lines up perfectly for a monster performance, and I imagine Henry will lead the way regarding RB ownership in Week 16.

Rhamondre Stevenson, RB, New England Patriots (VS. CIN)

DraftKings: $7,100 (RB6) | FanDuel: $8,300 (RB5)

Stevenson earned a monster workload and had a tremendously efficient game in Week 15 despite significant doubt if he would play. With an extra week of rest, he may get closer to his previous role – a high-end bell cow workload that saw him average 20.4 XFP/G (a mark that would lead all non-Austin Ekeler RBs over the full season) over his previous five games.

The matchup is tough, with Cincinnati ranking as the 10th-toughest schedule-adjusted matchup for opposing RBs since Week 10 (-1.5 FPG). But the spread (Bengals -4.0) should help Stevenson do additional damage in the passing game, where he’s scored 46% of fantasy points this season.

A player as talented as Stevenson is, who sees the workload Stevenson does, should cost at least $8,000 on DraftKings – especially in a game where New England will likely be playing from behind.

Jerick McKinnon, RB, Kansas City Chiefs (VS. SEA)

DraftKings: $5,900 (RB14) | FanDuel: $7,300 (RB11)

McKinnon has a full-blown monopoly over the Chiefs' backfield pass-catching role, earning 76% of backfield targets since Week 10, good for 5.3 per game (which would rank 5th among all RBs over the full season).

The argument against McKinnon is simple: Isiah Pacheco dominates backfield carries (70% of carries since Week 10), and in extremely positive gamescript, Pacheco would likely be the whole show. And as 9.5-point favorites, Kansas City may very well win this game in blowout fashion and secure Pacheco 20 or more touches while McKinnon earns a more modest workload.

But I think that argument doesn’t hold up particularly well. Kansas City, even as a heavy favorite, still leans on the pass far more than the run. And Seattle is a team that’s very capable of keeping this game close, and Kansas City has by far the highest pass rate over expectation this season (+13.3%). The Chiefs throw at an extreme rate, and McKinnon is the guy they want playing in their pass sets.

Plus, this matchup is outstanding. Seattle is the single-softest schedule-adjusted matchup for opposing RBs (+4.6 FPG). If the Seahawks can simply keep the game reasonable, McKinnon (who is the RB2 over the last three weeks) should have no problem providing value on his far-too-low sub-$6k DraftKings salary.

JK Dobbins, RB, Baltimore Ravens (VS. ATL)

DraftKings: $5,800 (RB15) | FanDuel: $7,000 (RB14)

Since returning from injury, JK Dobbins has earned 56% of backfield carries (28 total), 50% of red zone carries, and 100% of goal-line carries, averaging an incredibly impressive 8.8 YPC. We know who Dobbins is – a hyper-efficient RB who lacks a pass-game role and offers a modest snap share. And that lack of pass game role and sub-par snap share should keep his ownership in the single-digits in GPPs.

He doesn’t pop as an obvious play. Still, Dobbins may have some serious merit in tournaments, with Atlanta profiling as the league’s premier run funnel since Week 8 (-11.0% pass rate over expectation allowed, last). Combine that with Baltimore being favored by 7.0 points, and a run-heavy game plan is all but guaranteed. That game plan would center around Dobbins, who leads the league in runs of 15 or more yards since Week 14 (4) – suggesting he has the big play ability needed to post a GPP-winning score. Assuming Dobbins projects for minimal ownership, he’s a compelling tournament play.

DK Metcalf, WR, Seattle Seahawks (@ KC)

DraftKings: $7,100 (WR7) | FanDuel: $8,000 (WR7)

Tyler Lockett is out for at least Week 16 after suffering a finger injury that required surgery. He’s leaving behind a 24% target share and 7.7 targets per game. And while we don’t have any previous data on how DK Metcalf’s workload is impacted by Lockett’s absence, he figures to see a notable boost in targets in a must-win game for Seattle against Kansas City.

And Kansas City is an ideal opponent to have a high-target outing against, given they’ve been the 8th-softest schedule-adjusted matchup for opposing WRs (+5.4 FPG) since Week 10. Combine the plus matchup with the Seahawks being 9.5-point underdogs, and Metcalf’s floor in Week 16 is arguably double-digit targets. I’d expect him to be one of the highest-owned WRs of the slate as a result.

Amari Cooper, WR, Cleveland Browns (VS. NO)

DraftKings: $5,900 (WR15) | FanDuel: $6,700 (WR16)

Cooper has been surprisingly quiet since Deshaun Watson took over as the Browns QB, and that seems to fall on Watson primarily. Since taking over as the starter, Watson is averaging 189.3 passing YPG and has thrown just 2 TDs. A rocky start in his first NFL action in 700 days. Still, we know that Watson can be one of the league’s top passers. He was, after all, exactly that in 2020 when he graded out as PFF’s 3rd-best passer (91.2 PFF passing grade) while throwing for 4,823 yards (301.4 YPG).

If Watson can take a step forward, it’s hard to argue against Amari Cooper as a compelling play in Week 16. The Saints are a neutral matchup in the metrics that matter to me, and Cooper is the cheapest he’s been on DraftKings since Week 6. He’s notoriously crushed at home this season, averaging 20.3 FPG (WR7), compared to just 10.1 FPG on the road.

Again, this play likely hinges on Watson getting it together as a passer, which is far from guaranteed. But Cooper should see an ownership discount as a result, and we know he has elite upside – especially at a discounted price tag.

Darius Slayton and Isaiah Hodgins, WRs, New York Giants (@ MIN)

If there has been a matchup to target for outside WRs this season, it’s been Minnesota. The Vikings have been the single-softest schedule-adjusted matchup for outside WRs this season (+8.6 FPG). And they’ve allowed the 2nd-most YPA (7.9), the 5th-highest completion percentage over expectation (+3.2%), and the 3rd-most deep passing YPG (62.8).

So, both Hodgins and Slayton stand out as underpriced WRs in a perfect matchup. But Hodgins, in particular, pops as a strong play. He’s just $4,100 despite an 88% route share in his last three games. And over that same stretch, he’s earned 50% of New York’s red zone targets (5 total) and 100% of the team’s end zone targets (2). He’s just too cheap as a full-time player with solid TD equity.

This game offers the 3rd-highest total (47.5) of the main slate, and with the Giants listed as 3.5-point underdogs, it’s likely the team will be faced with negative gamescript and, thus, forced to throw the ball downfield to both Hodgins and Slayton. Expect both players, but Hodgins in particular, to get streamed as solid values as we head into Week 16.

Travis Kelce, TE, Kansas City Chiefs (VS. SEA)

DraftKings: $8,000 (TE1) | FanDuel: $8,600 (TE1)

Kelce is priced as the WR5 on DraftKings, despite averaging 21.0 FPG (WR4) – a mark that’s +7.8 FPG or 60% better than the 2nd-most expensive slate-eligible TE. This season, Kelce is responsible for the 3rd, 5th, 6th, 16th, 18th, and 19th-highest-scoring DraftKings performances by a TE. He demands GPP exposure every week, and Week 16 presents one of the best matchups he’s faced this year.

Seattle is the 3rd-softest schedule-adjusted matchup for opposing TEs, worth +3.7 FPG. If we added 3.7 FPG to Kelce’s season-long total, we would be looking at 23.5 FPG – a mark that would tie 2003 Randy Moss for the 15th-best fantasy season ever by a WR and ranks 1st among all slate-eligible players.

So, Kelce is a smash play this week in the 2nd-highest total game of the slate (49.0). But expect ownership to reflect that.

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.