Week 16 in the NFL is a festive one with season long championships wrapping up and a full slate of Christmas Eve games plus a special 2 game Christmas night special. Coming into this week I was not the biggest fan of this slate but sometimes those are the best ones to play. Check out our analysis below and of course, listen to the podcast here.
This is another week where we are seeing two games on Saturday, so we can get not action on Colts @ Ravens and Vikings @ Packers if we are playing the DraftKings or FanDuel main Sunday slate. A few other interesting points are that there is no Sunday Night Football, and we have two games going on Monday. This leaves us with 12 games to pull from on our favorite slate.
We have been mentioning the playoff picture the last few weeks and this week is no different. There are a lot of games that mean a lot to many teams which is great for us from a DFS standpoint. In the NFC, The Saints and Panthers lead the NFC South at 10-4 (with the Saints owning the tie breaker having beaten them twice) and the Falcons are just behind them at 9-5. The Falcons play the Saints this week and the Panthers the next meaning they could feasibly still win the division. In the NFC south we also see the Bucs in the position to play spoiler as they take on the Panthers and the Saints in Weeks 16 & 17. This whole division has motivation to show up and play some good football. Elsewhere, the Cowboys are also still involved as are the Seahawks. The loser of their matchup is eliminated and the Lions are also hanging around. Regardless, these teams must continue to win to have any shot at the playoffs.
In the AFC the Steelers and Pats have to win out if they want to keep their byes, and if either falters the Jacksonville Jaguars could take that bye spot away. The Ravens can take the Bills sixth seed with a win this week over the Colts, but we can’t get that game unless we play the Saturday slate. AFC west still has not been clinched, so the Chargers need to win and get help if they want that spot which could prove tough now that Hunter Henry is on the IR, ending his season, and Keenan Allen is struggling with a back injury.
We should note that we cannot rely TOO much on narrative, but it can help us to choose which matchups we want to keep in mind because these guys are still human beings and they totally know that playoffs means money. Let this guide, but not be the end all be all.
Jared Goff (6100|7700) He didn’t play a big part in the Todd Gurley show last week but this is a much better spot for Goff to spread the ball around. He got his favorite WR back last week in Robert Woods and looked his way a lot. I expect them to take advantage of the positive CB matchup and get Goff involved.
Cam Newton (6800|8300) Taking on that terrible Bucs defense I think Cam will be able to put together a good game. Last time he saw the Bucs he put up something like 13 points but I look at that one as more than an outlier. Last week he had over 30 pts. Cam also has his favorite target back to full speed in Greg Olsen, giving him a security blanket in the middle of the field. Between McCaffrey, Funchess, and Olsen, Cam has plenty of weapons to distribute the ball around.
Drew Stanton(4500|6000) Looking to save a little cash? Stanton is your man. In the two games he started this season he went 1) 201/2 on 30 attempts and had 1 INT and 2) 273/1 on 47 attempts. And this week he is seeing the Giants defense who in the last 4 games have allowed 21.88 points to the QB which is good for 4th worst. Last week Nick Foles (granted he is better than Stanton) threw for 4 TDs and 237 yards. Rostering Stanton this week gives you a little breathing room to fill out other positions. He does not have GPP style ceiling, but at $4500 on DK he is definitely a safe floor QB and if he is able to go 250/2 he is smashing value, getting you 4x while, again, leaving space for everything else you want to do. The lack of run game in Arizona makes me feel confident in this pick.
Ezekiel Elliot (8000|8300) He comes back against a D that just allowed over 40 fantasy points to Todd Gurley. Word is he is going to come back shredded and ready to take on the league. It’s a must win for the ‘boys so I expect him to be heavily involved. Last week Zeke apparently made a bet with Hall of Fame running back Eric Dickerson saying that he would get 200 yards in his return. Considering his highest game total is 159 this seems like a long shot, but he will definitely be motivated to show the league what they were missing out on without him.
Kareem Hunt (8400|8300) The Chiefs (finally?) figured out that giving the ball to Kareem Hunt equates to wins. The football experts have said he has looked great all year but for some reason, they stopped handing the ball off to him. The past 2 weeks, he has reemerged as the Week’s 1-3 back.
LeSean McCoy (7800|8600) Shady is very involved in this offense and is practically matchup proof. He is taking on a Patriots team who we know can be run on. The Pats won’t lose to the Bills through the air (and probably not on the ground either) meaning there will be space for Shady to run a-la Lev Bell last week. Price may or may not pull me off of him, but he looks good!
Kenyan Drake (7100|7100) He’s still too cheap on FanDuel with his usage and production but might be tough to fit as a lot of the top dogs have great matchups this week. That being said, he gets the Chiefs mediocre D who gave up a few yards to Melvin Gordon last week even in a blowout. Drake also put up solid numbers in a loss where Jay Cutler threw 3 picks so I would assume the onus will be on Drake to carry the load in KC.
Melvin Gordon (7200|8500) Austin Ekler has a broken hand and if he goes what use will he be as the pass catching back with one hand? The Jets once again added to their ability to let up giant plays last week with Ingram having a 50 yd rush for a TD and a 54 yard catch that brought them to the redzone. Kamara also added a huge catch for a TD too. Gordon continues to see 20+ opportunities/game, including 8 targets last week. He is set up to be the workhorse in this game where the Chargers want a win for their playoff lives. I think he should be able to find the endzone this week. Gordon is in play more on DK than FD, as he is the 7th most expensive RB on DK and third on FD.
Larry Fitzgerald (6800|7500) Larry gets to take on the Giants defense at home. Larry lately has been able to do some pretty good work. This season he has seen double digit targets in 8 of his 14 games and the last time he played with Drew Stanton he was 10/113 on 14 targets. Larry floats around 10 Y/R so if he is able to get the same workload this week he should be able to get close to that 100 yd mark which helps out huge on DK. He also comes with huge TD upside
Sterling Shepard (6600|6700) He is all the Giants have anymore and absolutely dominated last week vs Philly. His price is still too cheap to not consider and has all the upside as Eli’s most trusted target. It was easy to not be on him last week after his dud in Week 14 but even in that one, he was on the field for 90% of the snaps. Sure, he will draw some Patrick Peterson but with both teams out of it, there isn’t much to play for so I expect a fun matchup between the two.
Dede Westbrook (6100|5900) It’s been a who’s who of options for Bortles as some guy named Mickens caught 2 TDs last week after sleeping in his car earlier this season. Marqise Lee is presumably out which leaves Dede Westbrook, Keelan Cole, and Mickens taking on the improved but still porous SF secondary. This week, It’s going to be Dede Westbrook who had a subpar outing last week and will go under the radar.
Michael Thomas (7600|8200) There is no denying Thomas is the #1 WR in New Orleans and after a slowish start to the year, he has been on fire, catching TDs in 4 straight. His history vs the Falcons is also one to target as he has gotten 13 targets a game and scored in all 3 prior matchups with his lowest output at 71 yards. He should of had 3 TDs last week but were called back thanks to him stepping out of bounds.
Robert Woods (6500|6600) He came back healthy last week and asserted himself back as the #1 WR, playing 75% of snaps and seeing over 40% of the teams air yards. In the past 4 games that he has played, he owns the highest target share on the team at 28%. Drawing a mediocre Titans secondary, I expect Woods to be involved early and often with Goff pulling the trigger.
Cameron Brate (3100|5100) OJ Howard is out with an ankle injury and on the IR and DeSean Jackson is trending toward doubtful. That means there are some targets to be spread around and Jameis Winston seems to like Mr. Brate. The Panthers are in the middle of the pack when it comes to allowing points to the TE on the season. His targets have not been super high lately, but he is getting 12.9 Y/R (right around 8 Y/T) and has found the endzone 6 times this season.
Rob Gronkowski (7400|8400) Amazing spot if you have the quiche. It will certainly be a revenge game for him as the last time he faced them he was ejected and held to one of his lowest outputs on the season. I also think the Pats need a feel good game after struggling the last 3 weeks to move the ball on offense and there is no better team to get well on than the Bills.
Antonio Gates (2500|4500) With Hunter Henry on IR with a lacerated kidney, we can expect a big bump in usage over the next 2 weeks. Assuming this is his last year, I expect him to go out with a bang and with his price, it’s a perfect spot to reap that upside.
It worked well last week so let’s continue the trend of targeting bad QBs. This week, we have a limited slate of QBs as some bad ones are playing on Saturday/Monday.
Andy Dalton vs Detroit (2900|4600) Playing the Lions but after 2 horrendous weeks, this could be a scenario where the Bengals and Dalton fight back a little bit. The Lions D has not been anything special the last 4 weeks so could see this being a shootout.
Jay Cutler at Kansas City (3300|4500) He came crashing back to Jay Cutler land last week after the dominate win over the Pats. I expect this trend to continue in KC where you also get the upside of a Special Teams TD with Tyreek Hill.
Bryce Petty vs Los Angeles (3700|4900)The Saints were not motivated last week as they were 16 point home favorites and were facing a back up QB. I think that played more into the close than anything Bryce Petty did. The Chargers this week are playing for their playoff lives so I expect a dominate effort from them and muzzling Bryce Petty in the Meadowlands.
Drew Stanton vs New York (2600|4200) We touched on him above and it’s certainly a good matchup for him. The Giants D is injured and gave up a boat load of points to Nick Foles last week. Normally, I would target Stanton but the Giants are just too poor a team to do so.
Brock Osweiler at Washinton (3400|4700) He came in relief last week and led the Broncos to a victory over the Colts. Sure, the Brocketship might implode this week but the Washington D is nothing to write home about. I expect Denver to actually win this game so I’ll pass on the Redskin D but they are certainly viable as a contrarian play.
To recap, I like the Chargers D very much this week, followed by the Chiefs and then a toss up between the Lions and Redskins.
There was a big loss this week as the Rams had to put Greg Zuerlein on IR with a back injury. This leaves a big void at the top, especially without Justin Tucker on the mainslate.
Stephen Gostkowski (5200) Weather might dampen his ownership a bit but he has been rock solid save for the extra point he missed last week. Pats have one of the highest implied team totals for the week so if the weather and wind look ok and you have the money, he’s a good play.
Will Lutz (5100) He emerged late last year but has been consistent all this season in one of the most high powered offenses. It certainly helps he kicks indoors in at least 9 games plus favorable weather locales in Carolina and Tampa. This week, he is in his own friendly confines with a 52 o/u.
Matt Bryant (5000) In the same game, the ageless Matt Bryant gets a 52 o/u to kick many 40 and 50 yard field goals. Like Lutz, he also kicks in a dome at least 9 games a year.
Harrison Butker (4900) He’s quietly become a reliable option for the suddenly explosive Chiefs offense. He lost out to Graham Gano in the preseason in Carolina but came back to steal the spot from Cairo Santos. His price has risen but he’s got the youth and leg to put up big fantasy days.