During my first few seasons playing DFS, I got crushed. Lineup after lineup, slate after slate, I just couldn’t do anything right. I was hemorrhaging my hard-earned money, and I really didn’t have much to spare. Just like those late-night infomercials, I had to find a better way!
I was making far too many mistakes to list them all here, but what I really needed then was a guiding hand, a voice (or an article perhaps?) that could, at the very least, help me understand who the best plays were, and more importantly — why?
This is that article.
Once I found Fantasy Points, and this article, everything changed. With a deeper understanding of which players are values (and why), I was able to make great strides in my own DFS play. And now, I’m writing this article.
Josh Jacobs, RB, Las Vegas Raiders (VS. NE)
DK: 2.36X / FD: 1.91X
The 22.9 XFP/G that Josh Jacobs has averaged over his last five games would lead all flex-eligible players by 1.5 XFP/G over the full season. He has five games with over 140 rushing yards (12th-most all-time) and four games with over 30.0 fantasy points (1st among RBs and 2nd among all flex players). Among RBs this season, he has the 2nd-, 7th-, 12th-, and 21st-highest-scoring fantasy performances.
Jacobs is having a fantasy season for the ages, and I wouldn’t be surprised if that continued in Week 15. But it may be an uphill battle, given the brutal matchup. New England is the 4th-toughest schedule-adjusted matchup for opposing RBs (-2.9 FPG), allowing the 2nd-fewest yards after contact per attempt (2.1) and the lowest rushing TD% (1.8%).
The good news, though, is that the Raiders are 1.0-point favorites and have a 55% implied win probability. This season, Jacobs averages an absurd 32.3 FPG in wins compared to 15.4 FPG in losses. Due to the matchup, I prefer players like Derrick Henry and James Conner in cash games, but Jacobs is still a strong value given his obscene workload and production this season.
Derrick Henry, RB, Tennessee Titans (@ LAC)
DK: +$757, 2.52X / FD: 2.16X
Derrick Henry is the most gamescript senstive and one of the most matchup-sensitive players in fantasy football…
Derrick Henry— Scott Barrett (@ScottBarrettDFB) December 14, 2022
in wins: 16.9 FPG
in losses: 7.0 FPG
in wins: 23.8 FPG
in losses: 13.4 FPG
in wins: 23.8 FPG
in losses: 12.0 FPG
in wins: 27.4 FPG
in losses: 18.2 FPG
in wins: 23.3 FPG
in losses: 13.9 FPG
Derrick Henry [2018-2022]— Scott Barrett (@ScottBarrettDFB) December 14, 2022
Wins: 24.7 DK FPG
Losses: 12.5 DK FPG
vs. bottom-7 defense by YPC allowed: 25.4 DK FPG
vs. top-25 defense: 17.9 DK FPG
vs. bottom-7 defense by ruFPG allowed: 26.2 DK FPG
vs. top-25 defense: 18.0 DK FPG
The good news is, Henry draws an incredible matchup, and the Titans’ 44% implied win probability suggests gamescript should be good enough for a smash performance.
Los Angeles ranks as the 2nd-softest schedule-adjusted matchup for opposing RBs on the ground (+3.7 rushing FPG), allowing the most YPC (5.4), the 4th-most yards after contact (1,133), and the 3rd-most yards before contact per attempt (1.8). Needless to say, this is a near-perfect matchup for one of the most matchup-sensitive players in fantasy.
Henry is the top RB value of Week 15, and can only be faded in tournaments by those concerned about ownership. He’s simply an outstanding play.
James Conner, RB, Arizona Cardinals (@ DEN)
DK: 2.43X / FD: 2.06X
Over his last four games, Conner has played on 91.1% of the team’s snaps (most by any RB over this span) while handling 90.7% of the backfield XFP (also most), and averaging 19.3 carries, 4.8 targets, 18.4 XFP/G (5th-most), and 20.6 FPG (3rd-most).
So, by all appearances, it seems Conner is fully back to being a highest-end bell cow, reprising the role he had last year when he averaged 23.6 FPG (2nd-most) over the final 10 weeks of the season. And I don’t expect that to change following Kyler Murray’s season-ending ACL injury. In fact, this may even be beneficial to Conner. Because over the last two seasons, Conner averages 22.8 DK FPG across the six games Colt McCoy has attempted at least 10 passes. In all other games, Conner averages just 14.1 DK FPG.
We like Conner as a DFS value in a neutral-at-worst matchup against Denver.
Alvin Kamara, RB, New Orleans Saints (VS. ATL)
DK: +$349, 2.31X / FD: 1.80X
Alvin Kamara hasn’t scored more than 12.9 fantasy points since Week 8. His efficiency has been dreadful (-3.4 PAR), but he’s also averaged just 11.9 XFP/G, so the usage hasn’t been great either. Maybe he’s injured? Or maybe he’s just been unlucky with both his usage and efficiency. I’m not totally sure.
But, if there were ever a week for Kamara to get back on track, it would be in Week 15 with Mark Ingram done for the year. 3rd-string RB Dwayne Washington hasn’t earned more than 2.7 XFP in a game this season – suggesting Kamara should earn 80% (or more) of backfield XFP. If that’s the case, Kamara could push for one of the best workloads of the slate, at his lowest DraftKings salary ($6,800) since Week 6.
The matchup is on Kamara’s side, with Atlanta giving up the 10th-most schedule-adjusted FPG to opposing RBs since Week 10 (+2.7). Plus, the Falcons have been the league’s premier run funnel since Week 8, allowing a -11.0% pass rate over expected. This should mean New Orleans takes a run-centric approach, and that approach would revolve around Kamara, given the lack of trust this team seems to have in Dwayne Washington.
Miles Sanders, RB, Philadelphia Eagles (@ CHI)
DK: 2.83X / FD: 2.23X
The Eagles have posted a positive pass rate over expectation in eight games this season. Jalen Hurts’ best three fantasy performances have come in those games, averaging 28.3 FPG across the sample. Interestingly, all but one of those games (Week 9 vs. Houston) came against teams that ranked bottom-12 in schedule-adjusted passing FPG allowed to opposing QBs. The Eagles are playing matchups incredibly well and letting that dictate their run/pass splits in individual games.
When Philadelphia’s PROE is negative (5 games), Hurts averages just 21.7 FPG (his worst two games of the season have come in that sample). But Miles Sanders averages 15.8 FPG and 14.1 XFP/G, representing a 14% and 12% improvement over his current season-long averages, respectively. Sanders’ best two fantasy performances have come in that sample. Why would I bring all this up? Well, this Week 15 matchup with Chicago should force Philadelphia to adopt a run-heavy gameplan. Chicago is the league’s premier run funnel (-6.0% PROE allowed, last) and is the 8th-toughest schedule-adjusted matchup for opposing QBs through the air (-1.6 FPG). As we discussed above, that is worth a boost to Sanders, which makes him pop as a value in Week 15.
Zonovan Knight, RB, New York Jets (VS. DET)
DK: +$289, 2.36X / FD: 1.56X
Even with Michael Carter back, Zonovan Knight led the Jets in backfield XFP for the third game in a row. Ty Johnson was demoted (0 snaps), while Knight handled 17 of 22 carries and 2 of 8 targets out of the backfield, resulting in 53% of the backfield XFP (to Carter’s 47%)… It’s possible the Jets were just easing Carter back following his ankle injury. But I think it’s more likely Knight simply earned this new role, now serving as the team’s primary early-down runner to Carter’s scatback-plus role.
Over the last three weeks, Zonovan Knight leads all RBs in missed tackles forced per carry (0.46) and he’s #2 in yards after contact (3.59 per carry) via @FantasyPtsData— Graham Barfield (@GrahamBarfield) December 14, 2022
He's clearly earned the workhorse role
At $5,300 on DraftKings, Knight is clearly too cheap given the 14.3 XFP/G he’s averaged since Week 12. Still, I have some concerns over the matchup. The Lions have been the 4th-toughest schedule-adjusted matchup for RBs since Week 10 (-6.2 FPG), and if Detroit were to pull ahead in this game significantly, Knight would likely be rotated out in favor of scatback Michael Carter.
And it wouldn’t be hard to argue Zach Wilson starting increases the likelihood the Jets face negative gamescript (the announcement that he’s starting shaved 2.5 points off their implied team total). But, Wilson averages just 27.0 pass attempts per game (Mike White averages 43.0) – suggesting Wilson’s presence will cause the Jets to lean on their run game and, thus, Zonovan Knight.
Knight is too risky for cash, especially given the salary-saving options at other positions. But he’s still a strong play overall, especially paired with the Jets’ D/ST.
Ja’Marr Chase, WR, Cincinnati Bengals (@ TB)
DK: 3.13X / FD: 2.17X
Tee Higgins played just 1 snap Week 14 due to a hamstring injury – the same hamstring injury that’s causing him to be listed as questionable for Week 15. Tyler Boyd (finger) is also questionable, but both players are expected to play, granted, it wouldn’t be surprising if either player (especially Higgins) were limited.
And with both Higgins and Boyd limited in Week 14, Ja’Marr Chase led the NFL in target share (47%), earning 15 targets and 23.4 XFP.
Chase has three career games where Higgins earned 6 targets or less, and he’s averaged 22.0 FPG and an absurd 15.3 targets per game in those contests. When Higgins isn’t 100%, Chase sees a workload that no other WR in the NFL can match.
And because Higgins doesn’t appear to be fully healthy in Week 15, we like Chase as one of the top WR values of the week on both sites.
Amon-Ra St. Brown, WR, Detroit Lions (@ NYJ)
DK: 1.72X / FD: 1.27X
Excluding games where Amon-Ra St. Brown suffered an injury or was on the injury report listed as questionable, he’s averaging 10.8 targets and 23.8 FPG over his last 13 games. He’s hit at least 15.0 fantasy points in 12 of 14 and double-digit targets in 11 of 14. Over the full season, 23.8 FPG would lead all WRs (by 1.0 FPG), and 10.8 targets per game would rank 4th.
If you look closely, St. Brown is this year’s Cooper Kupp – with one key difference. Kupp’s average DraftKings price in his final eight games was $9,300 – $1,500 more than St. Brown’s Week 15 price tag.
The matchup doesn’t look favorable on paper, but I’m not convinced it’s a worse-than-neutral spot for Sun God. The Jets are the single-toughest schedule-adjusted matchup for opposing outside WRs (-6.9 FPG), but a near-neutral matchup for opposing slot WRs (-0.7 FPG). That should funnel volume away from the Lions’ outside WRs and to St. Brown.
St. Brown is one of the best DFS values for seemingly the 10th week in a row. But Keenan Allen is overall preferable in cash formats.
Keenan Allen, WR, Los Angeles Chargers (VS. TEN)
DK: +$271, 2.41X / FD: 1.64X
Since returning in Week 11, Allen has finished 23rd (94 yards on 68% of the team’s snaps), 21st (15.9 PPR), 12th (20.8 PPR), and then 9th (21.2 PPR) among all WRs in fantasy points scored. And across those latter two WR1 weeks, Allen leads the league with 28 targets (14 in each game). He’s the perfect example of a consistent WR, and he also draws an outstanding matchup.
Tennessee is giving up the 8th-most FPG to opposing slot WRs (18.2) and has allowed the 2nd-most passing yards (3,910) and the 6th-highest completion percentage over expectation (+3.5%).
If paying up at WR in cash games, Allen is the play.
Chris Moore, WR, Houston Texans (VS. KC)
DK: 2.71X / FD: 1.48X
Moore ranked 2nd among all players in Week 14 with an absurd 46% target share. Moore has played in two games this season without Nico Collins and Brandin Cooks, and he’s averaged 8.0 targets per game, 18.5 FPG, and 14.2 XFP/G – marks that would rank 12th, 4th, and 15th among slate-eligible WRs.
The matchup couldn’t be much better. The Texans are 14.0-point underdogs, which implies a pass-heavy approach. And Kansas City ranks as the 8th-softest schedule-adjusted matchup for opposing WRs (+3.1 FPG).
Moore is a smash play in every format if Collins and Cooks miss this game. As things sit right now, Collins looks unlikely to play, but Cooks may very well suit up. If Cooks plays, Moore will still pop as a value, but he can be more safely faded in GPPs given Cooks should command the plurality of offensive targets.
Tyquan Thornton, WR, New England Patriots (@ LV)
DK: +$274, 2.23X / FD: 1.05X
Jakobi Meyers and DeVante Parker look unlikely to play in Week 15, leaving Tyquan Thornton and Nelson Agholor as the presumptive lead WRs for New England.
Both Agholor and Thornton are great plays and can be considered cash-game viable. But, we prefer Thornton, given he manned the slot in Week 14 (53% slot route rate) and has the superior matchup because of it. Las Vegas has allowed the 2nd-most schedule-adjusted FPG (+3.4) to opposing slot WRs this season.
Thornton is a great salary-saving option, and the preferable GPP play over Agholor, given his superior matchup and lower projected ownership.
Greg Dulchich, TE, Denver Broncos (VS. ARI)
DK: +$977, 2.53X / FD: +$289, 1.31X
Greg Dulcich leads all TEs in deep targets per game (1.6) and ranks 2nd among slate-eligible TEs in air yards per game (70.3) and 6th in XFP/G (9.9). So, his current workload presents clear value relative to his TE9 price tag on DraftKings ($3,600).
And his matchup couldn’t be much better, with Arizona ranking as the single-softest schedule-adjusted matchup for opposing TEs (+6.0 FPG), allowing a league-leading 29.4% of total receiving fantasy production to opposing TEs. Dulcich is one of the top TE values of the week, but I’m hesitant to call him the cash TE given Russell Wilson is out this week.
Chig Okonkwo, TE, Tennessee Titans (@ LAC)
DK: +$591, 2.61X / FD: +$172, 1.29X
Chig Okonkwo ranks 5th among all players at all positions in YPRR (2.58) and has averaged 9.5 XFP/G over his last three contests – a mark that would rank 8th-best among slate-eligible TEs over the full season.
Okonkwo is priced as the TE14 on DraftKings this week ($3,100), which sets him up as one of the more obvious usage-based values of the slate. With Russell Wilson out, Okonkwo is the cash TE this week.