DFS Early Look: Week 15

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DFS Early Look: Week 15

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 15 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.

Jalen Hurts, QB, Philadelphia Eagles (VS. WAS)

DraftKings: $6,600 (QB6) | FanDuel: $7,800 (QB3)

Hurts is expected to start in Week 15 for the first time since he injured his ankle in Week 12, and he seems to have come back at the perfect time, as he draws the best matchup for opposing QBs in the NFL — Washington.

The Football Team is giving up +4.2 schedule-adjusted FPG to opposing QBs (most by 27%) and the most fantasy points per pass attempt (0.53) of any team in the NFL. Hurts is averaging a league-leading 9.8 rushing FPG (3rd-best all-time if sustained for the full season), and Washington has been susceptible to rushing QBs this season, allowing the 4th-most rushing FPG (4.0) and the 3rd-most rushing yards (320) to opposing QBs. And Washington ranks 3rd-worst in Football Outsiders pass defense DVOA (26.1%) and 9th-worst in PFF coverage grades (54.4).

Any way we look at this matchup, it’s an outstanding one for Hurts. Arguably the only bearish note is this game's low total (43.5). Hurts has only played 3 career games with a total under 44.0, but in those games, he’s averaged a respectable 22.5 FPG — a mark that would rank 3rd-best among slate-eligible QBs.

So, I’m viewing Hurts as one of the strongest QB plays of Week 15, and I’d expect him to be chalky (especially on DraftKings), as a result.

D’Andre Swift, RB, Detroit Lions (VS. ARI)

DraftKings: $6,300 (RB9) | FanDuel: $7,200 (RB8)

Swift has missed back-to-back games with a shoulder injury, but given he wasn’t placed on injured reserve, it seems more likely than not he will play in Week 15.

Should Swift play, he’s almost certainly the top RB value of the slate. He’s the cheapest he’s been on both sites since Week 7, and in his full games ranks 1st in targets per game (6.7), 1st (tie) in FPG (18.5), and 2nd in XFP per game (18.9) among slate-eligible RBs.

And Arizona has been susceptible to pass catching RBs this season, allowing the 4th-most receptions (81) and the 9th-most receiving FPG (11.2) this season. As 14.0-point underdogs, the Lions will need to throw, and Swift should be one of the main beneficiaries given his position-leading 16% target share.

Be sure to keep an eye on practice reports to monitor Swift’s status, but he’s sure to be chalky if he’s active in Week 15.

Elijah Mitchell, RB, San Francisco 49ers (VS. ATL)

DraftKings: $6,200 (RB10) | FanDuel: $7,800 (RB4)

Similar to D’Andre Swift, Mitchell sets up as a strong value if he manages to play in Week 15, as he’s currently in concussion protocol and is dealing with a minor knee injury.

In Week 13, Mitchell maintained bell cow status even with pass catching RB JaMycal Hasty back in the fold. Should Mitchell continue to earn 90% of backfield opportunities going forward, then we are looking at approximately 19.1 FPG, given this backfield has averaged 21.2 FPG this season. That, on its own, makes Mitchell a clear value, as 19.1 FPG would lead all slate-eligible RBs.

The 49ers are 8.5-point favorites, suggesting quite favorable gamescript for their rushers, and Atlanta has been extremely vulnerable to opposing RBs this season. The Falcons rank 5th-worst in schedule-adjusted FPG allowed (+3.5) and 5th-worst in receiving FPG allowed (12.9) — an important note given Mitchell has commanded 90% of backfield targets and 89% of backfield routes over his last 2 games.

If Mitchell is fully healthy come Sunday, he’s easily a top-3 RB value on DraftKings.

Rashaad Penny, RB, Seattle Seahawks (AT LAR)

DraftKings: $5,400 (RB22) | FanDuel: $6,100 (RB19)

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 this week. With how unimpressive DeeJay Dallas and Alex Collins have been this season, it’s easy to envision Penny’s role expanding further in Week 15.

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 11th-best. And keep in mind Penny is priced as a low-end RB2 for this slate on both sites.

With that said, this matchup with the Rams and the projected gamescript aren’t exactly favorable. Los Angeles has allowed -4.5 schedule-adjusted FPG to opposing RBs over their last 5 games (7th-toughest), and the Seahawks are 7.0-point underdogs, so there is a real risk Penny and Seattle won’t be able to establish the run in this contest. Still, Penny led all Seattle RBs with a 48% backfield route share last week, so he should retain the lion’s share of pass game involvement if Travis Homer (calf) is unable to play.

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. So maybe, just maybe, he’s actually really good and has just been astonishingly unlucky with injuries thus far in his career.

He sets up as a solid tournament play in Week 15, and one that I would expect to be rather popular given his performance Sunday.

Davante Adams, WR, Green Bay Packers (AT BAL)

DraftKings: $8,900 (WR2) | FanDuel: $8,500 (WR2)

We all know Adams is an elite player for both real life and fantasy purposes. He leads all WRs this season in PFF receiving grade (91.9) and ranks 2nd in YPRR (2.84), behind only Cooper Kupp. And he ranks 2nd in FPG (21.0) and 2nd in target share (30%) among WRs — again, only behind Kupp.

But like I said, we already know that. What really makes Adams stand out this week is his matchup against Baltimore, a team that’s going to be trotting out 2 backup CBs (Anthony Averett and Chris Westry) against one of the most dominant WRs of the last half-decade.

Over the last 5 games, no team has given up more schedule-adjusted FPG to opposing WR1s than the Ravens (+6.4). If we add that schedule-adjustment to Adams season-long FPG of 21.0, then we get 27.4 fantasy points — a mark that’s 8% better than Kupp’s season-long FPG (25.3). And yet, Adams is $100 cheaper than Kupp on DraftKings, and $500 cheaper on FanDuel.

Kupp or Adams will be one of the toughest questions to answer on this slate. But at the very least, we know who has the better matchup.

Diontae Johnson, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers (VS. TEN)

DraftKings: $7,500 (WR5) | FanDuel: $7,200 (WR9)

Johnson has been remarkably consistent this season, and it’s thanks to high-end WR1 levels of volume. He’s averaging 10.8 targets per game, 22.1 XFP per game, and 18.4 FPG – marks that rank 2nd-, 1st-, and 4th-best among slate-eligible WRs. Johnson has 10 games with 10 or more targets this season, behind only Cooper Kupp (11). And Johnson and Davante Adams are the only WRs to have scored double-digit fantasy points in all their games this season. So, yea, borderline-unrivaled consistency.

For Week 15, Johnson draws one of the best matchups of the slate. The Titans are giving up +7.4 schedule-adjusted FPG to opposing WRs (2nd-worst). And they rank 7th-worst in FPG allowed on deep passes (11.1) and 5th-worst in YPG allowed on deep throws (66.8) – an important note given Johnson averages 2.3 deep targets per game (3rd-most among all WRs) and 23% of his total fantasy production has come on deep throws.

With all that in mind, it wouldn’t be hard to argue Johnson is one of, or potentially the, best value among the expensive WRs on this slate. I’d expect Johnson to be chalk in all formats, especially on FanDuel where he ranks as WR9.

Jaylen Waddle, WR, Miami Dolphins (VS. NYJ)

DraftKings: $6,600 (WR12) | FanDuel: $7,100 (WR10)

Since Week 9, Waddle is averaging 87.2 receiving YPG, 9.2 targets per game, 16.1 XFP per game, and 18.7 FPG. Among slate-eligible WRs, those numbers rank 3rd-, 6th-, 9th-, and 4th-best. So, right off the bat, Waddle is an obvious value.

But, the Dolphins top-5 RBs are all either injured (Patrick Laird and Malcolm Brown) or on the reserve/COVID-19 list (Myles Gaskin, Phillip Lindsay, Salvon Ahmed). While we would normally expect a team favored by 8.5-points against the Jets to take a run-heavy approach, it’s quite unlikely the Dolphins will choose to go that route should they be missing 100% of their backfield production from the first 13 weeks of the season. And a pass-first approach against PFF’s 3rd-worst graded pass coverage unit (41.0 team coverage grade) would surely benefit Waddle given his 29% target share over the Dolphins’ last 3 games.

The Jets have been roasted by opposing WR1s as of late, giving up +3.4 schedule-adjusted FPG over their last 5 games. And New York gives up the 10th-highest target share to the slot (40.4%), so anticipating a high-volume outing for Waddle is absolutely realistic.

Agnostic of team RB health, Waddle is a strong play. But if the Dolphins trot out Gerrid Doaks and Duke Johnson as their RBs in Week 15, then Waddle is probably one of the top WR values on the entire slate.

D.K. Metcalf, WR, Seattle Seahawks (AT LAR)

DraftKings: $6,200 (WR16) | FanDuel: $6,800 (WR14)

On DraftKings, this is the cheapest Metcalf has been since Week 2 of 2020. And on FanDuel, this is the cheapest Metcalf has been since Week 3 of 2020. The reason for this massive discount is obvious, Metcalf hasn’t done much of anything since Seattle’s Week 9 bye, averaging just 6.9 FPG, compared to 18.1 FPG in Weeks 1 through 8.

But, even so, he’s mostly just been unlucky. From Weeks 10 through 13, Metcalf still averaged 14.2 XFP per game, which is actually more than he averaged in the first 8 weeks of the season (12.8 XFP per game). He isn’t dealing with any serious injuries, so it’s reasonable to expect the Metcalf of old to return sooner rather than later.

And, at least to me, it looks like Week 15 is setting up as an ideal ‘buy-low’ spot for Metcalf. Jalen Ramsey was just placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list, casting his Week 15 availability into doubt. And even with a healthy Ramsey, the Rams are giving up +2.6 schedule-adjusted FPG to opposing WRs (10th-worst). In each of Metcalf’s last 2 games against LAR, he has scored at least 26.6 fantasy points. He’s very capable of posting stellar performances against this defense.

It’s always difficult to roster players who have been struggling as of late. But there’s very little evidence to suggest Metcalf is 6.9 FPG-bad, or even anywhere close to that. This is probably the cheapest we will get Metcalf all season, and that’s something I plan on taking advantage of.

Jamison Crowder, WR, New York Jets (AT MIA)

DraftKings: $5,000 (WR33) | FanDuel: $5,700 (WR35)

In his first game without leading WRs Corey Davis and Elijah Moore, Jamison Crowder earned just 6 targets and scored 4.9 fantasy points. A terrible performance, yes, but Crowder did lead the team in routes (46, 7 more than the next closest Jets’ WR) and is almost certainly the team’s best WR given Braxton Berrios, D.J. Montgomery, and Keelan Cole are the only other options.

Thankfully for Crowder, he draws one of the best slot matchups in the NFL — Miami. The Dolphins have allowed 16.8 FPG (3rd-most), 127 targets (most), 75.8 YPG (4th-most, tie), and a 42.3% target share (7th-most) to opposing slot WRs. If we are going to see a high-volume outing for Crowder without Moore and Davis in the fold, it’s likely going to be this week. And New York should have to throw as 8.5-point underdogs.

With that said, this obviously isn’t a very sexy play. Crowder has only exceeded 16.0 fantasy points 3 times this season, and he hasn’t scored more than 20.0 fantasy points since 2020. The situation and game environment is enticing, but the offense (17.4 PPG) certainly isn’t. Crowder is an intriguing GPP play in Week 15, and a solid run-back candidate for Dolphins’ stacks, but it’s hard to view him as much more than that.

Laquon Treadwell, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars (VS. HOU)

DraftKings: $3,300 (WR76) | FanDuel: $5,100 (WR58)

I wrote up Treadwell as a value last week, and despite his role staying the same and having his best fantasy performance of the season (10.8 fantasy points), his price actually decreased on DraftKings.

Over the last three weeks, Treadwell is tied for the team lead in targets per game (6.3), ranks 1st in yards per game (61.0), and ranks 2nd in routes per game (34.0). Among all WRs, those numbers would rank 35th, 45th, and 28th over the full season. The offense may be terrible, and Treadwell himself may not be very good (career 0.96 YPRR), but he’s locked into a full-time role with a consistent target floor (5 targets in each of his last 3 games) which isn’t something you could say about nearly any other DraftKings WR priced under $4,000.

His matchup with Houston is a neutral one in the defensive metrics that matter to me, but it’s worth noting the Jaguars are 3.0-point favorites in this game, which could reduce their overall passing volume, potentially harming Treadwell’s floor. Even so, there isn’t another punt option at WR that comes close to Treadwell’s usage. At least on DraftKings, Treadwell is clearly the top value among cheap WRs.

Mark Andrews, TE, Baltimore Ravens (VS. GB)

DraftKings: $6,400 (TE2) | FanDuel: $7,400 (TE2)

Andrews leads all slate-eligible TEs in targets per game (8.4), target share (24%), XFP per game (14.8), red zone targets (32, 52% more than the next closest player), and end zone targets (12). And yet he ranks as the TE2 (by salary) on both sites, largely due to George Kittle averaging a completely ridiculous 36.9 FPG over the last 2 weeks.

With that said, Andrews has a few advantages over Kittle. The first is consistency, as Andrews has exceeded 5 targets in 11 of his 13 games this season (85%), while Kittle has only managed that feat in 60% of his 10 games this year. The second is arguably more important, and that’s red zone and end zone work. Andrews averages 2.5 red zone targets per game, nearly double Kittle’s mark of 1.3. And Andrews is 0.92 end zone targets per game, once again nearly twice as much as Kittle’s 0.5 end zone targets per game.

Among all players at all positions, Andrews actually ranks 5th overall in both red zone and end zone targets per game. He’s seeing truly elite work near and in the end zone, while Kittle’s end zone role is more reminiscent of a traditional high-end TE1.

But, Andrews does come with one important caveat. Lamar Jackson (ankle) is questionable to play this week. If he sits, it’s nearly impossible to argue Andrews is more worthy of a DFS roster spot than Kittle. But at least right now, the Ravens are preparing as if Lamar will be their starter in Week 15.

Assuming Jackson is available, Andrews will almost certainly be my favorite TE play of the slate. He makes for an especially strong play on DraftKings, where he’s 15% cheaper than Kittle, compared to just 5% cheaper on FanDuel.

Jake Tribbey is a recent college graduate and lifelong football fan obsessed with extracting every edge possible from NFL DFS, Best Ball, and player props/futures.

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