Welcome to Saturday football, NFL Style! Thanks to the pending Christmas holiday, the primary DFS slate moves from Sunday to Saturday this week. There will be smaller contests featuring the Sunday and Monday games, but the major GPPs will feature just the Saturday bill. If you are playing in your season-long fantasy championships this week, congratulations! Of course, even if this season was a Jar-Jar-ian failure for you fantasy team, you can still payoff some of your holiday credit card bills with DFS profits the rest of the NFL season and postseason.
If you are playing in Sunday and Monday contests, there are some points to be had. The Steelers passing game at home should obliterate an overmatched Ravens secondary. That said, LeVeon Bell will have to do his damage through the air since Baltimore just doesn’t allow rushing scores. Pittsburgh’s secondary also has holes and Joe Flacco could be a nice cheap alternate option. I cannot vouch for either Kenneth Dixon or Terrance West because even Carnac the Magnificent couldn’t predict which one will get the lions’ share of the work from week-to-week. The Broncos and Chiefs both have very good pass defenses and so-so passing attacks so I’d avoid all of those pieces (even the still-underpriced, Tyreek Hill). The only player I’d consider here is Travis Kelce, since he has been otherworldly the second half of this season. OF could Denver could assign Aqib Talib to shadow him. Spencer Ware is also trustworthy here, since Denver has forgotten how to defend opposing RBs. The Lions face the Cowboys on Monday night and this one could be a big point potential. Ezekiel Elliott is an easy play and he should be heavily owned in SUN-MON contests. Dak Prescott is playable but Detroit’s secondary is better than you might think. Darius Slay (if he plays) in particular could cause problems for Dez Bryant. Right now, it sounds like Slay is on the doubtful side of the coin. This means that you should be able to start Dez without too much worry. Cole Beasley is a great play either way and Jason Witten is arguably the best TE play of any this weekend. Matthew Stafford showed some ill effects of his injury last week, but he still managed to net Golden Tate a solid line. I like both Tate and Anquan Boldin, along with Eric Ebron. The three of them will combine to net the two passing TDs that Stafford will throw. Unless Theo Riddick returns, you can ignore the Lions’ rushing game.
For those playing on FD, I recommend targeting: Stephen Hauschka, Ryan Succop, Matt Bryant, and Nick Novak at kicker. None of these guys should be threatened by weather. As usual, Bryant is the only one over 5K, but at 5.2K he doesn’t really break the bank.
At defense, you have to like the Patriots, Chargers, and Titans due to their matchups. I also like the Seahawks at home against an Arizona team that gives up a lot of sacks. You’ll pay about 3.5K for any of these teams on DK and they are all right around 5K on FD.
The only QB in the top 11 based on salary that I don’t like is Aaron Rodgers. I will pay up at this position this week, and you can feel comfy starting any of them. Philip Rivers, Drew Brees, and Jameis Winston are probably the three I will have the most investment in. There are a couple punt options but I wouldn’t go there.
The RB matchups are ok but there isn’t a ton of value at the top. DeMarco Murray has the best matchup, but he may continue to be vulture by Derrick Henry. Making matters worse however, is that there aren’t a lot of values at the bottom either. Most of the profit-bringers are in that lower-third tier (Jon Stewart, Kenneth Farrow, and Frank Gore). I’ll likely pair one of those three with either DeMarco or his non-brother, Latavius Murray. Also on DK consider Ty Montgomery, who FD refuses to move to RB.
T.Y. Hilton and Julian Edelman are super juicy this week and I will definitely consider both whenever possible. There is also a lot of value in the 5.5K-6K range on DK. I will likely choose two from range. I also really like: Malcolm Mitchell, Pierre Garcon, and Ted Ginn for a few dollars less. One of those three could fall into my WR3 role or as my DK FLEX. I don’t foresee any need to dive much deeper than that. One thing to watch is who starts at QB for the Jets. If Ryan Fitzpatrick starts, Brandon Marshall’s value increases. If Bryce Petty starts, then Robby Anderson has more value.
I like both Greg Olsen and Kyle Rudolph but doubt that I can avoid starting Cameron Brate this week. This might be another week rolling out the Double-TE at DK FLEX. With Austin Hooper, unlikely to play, Levine Toilolo could be a sneaky deep punt. The same goes for the Houston tight ends, C.J. Fiedorowicz is a solid play (if he plays). If he doesn’t Ryan Griffin becomes a sneaky good punt.
Here are my recommendations for this week’s price range targets by position.
At DK: 6.5K-7.5K for a premium QB, 12K for both starting RBs (One of the Murrays and a 5K-6K guy), 6.9K or 7.8K for either Hilton or Edelman, 11K-12K for WR2 and WR3, and 4.5K-5K for a Ted Ginn type (or a top TE) at DK FLEX, 3.9K for Brate, and roughly 3.5K for the defense of your choice.
At FD: 7.9K-8.5K for QB, 14K-15K for two RBs (including one of the Murrays), 6.7K or 7.6K for Hilton or Edelman, less than 13K for your WR2 and WR3, 5.6K for Brate, and roughly 10K combined for kicker and defense.
Prices indicated: Red = Negative Value and Black = Acceptable Value and Green = Great Value
|Robert Griffin III||$5,100||$6,100|
Weekly strategy – You can roster any of the higher priced guys except Aaron Rodgers and expect a solid line. I’m leaning towards Drew Brees and Jameis Winston since weather won’t be a factor in that shootout. I also really like Philip Rivers since he gets to have his way with the Browns. You shouldn’t have to punt this week, but if choose to, go with Matt Moore, Blake Bortles, or Tom Savage.
Your Fantasy Four Pack
Drew Brees, Saints vs. TB ($7400 DK, $8500 FD)
Drew Brees at home had been money until three weeks ago, when the Lions held him out of the end zone. He still managed to pass the 300-yard mark in that game. The only other home game this season where Brees failed to throw for at least three scores was against the Seahawks. Tampa held Brees in check a couple weeks back, I expect Drew to extract revenge this time. 300-3 is the baseline for the Saints’ signal caller, but this game could become even more of a point orgy.
Matt Ryan, Falcons @ CAR ($7200 DK, $8100 FD)
After getting completely throttled by opposing passers earlier this season, Carolina has stemmed the damage somewhat of late. That said, them stemming the damage means that they are only giving up roughly 315 yards per game instead of 350+. Over their last four games, they have given up exactly 315 passing yards three times. That seems like a solid floor for Ryan, who led his Falcons to a line of 503-4 against them earlier this year.
Tom Brady, Patriots vs. NYJ ($7700 DK, $9000 FD)
Tom Brady has a very solid outlook for this game versus a porous Jets’ passing defense. The only reason I don’t have him higher is that the Jets always seem to “game-up” when they face the Patriots. Plus, the Patriots made an interesting move today activating Jacoby Brissett off of the IR. Why would Bill Belichick use his one IR-designated to return move on a third string QB unless he had some sort of worry over Brady or Garoppolo’s health. Last I looked Jimmy G. was healthy and Tom Brady was battling some issues with both his thigh and knee. Typically, injury reports out of Patriots camp mean nothing, but this activation screams to me that there might be something more here than just smoke and mirrors.
Philip Rivers, Chargers @ CLE ($6900 DK, $8200 FD)
Philip Rivers will have a field day Saturday afternoon against the Browns. As such he will be one of my favorite DFS plays as well. There is a great chance that Kenneth Farrow will have the game script run through his legs, but Rivers likes to throw the ball enough to still expect 290-2 as a floor. After all, no team has allowed more passing TDs than Cleveland.
Matt Moore, Dolphins @ BUF ($5200 DK, $6500 FD)
Somehow Buffalo buttered the guys down at the league office and got them to give the Bills three straight home games over the holidays. They have done a good job in the first two games, but will their luck hold out for three straight. Matt Moore looked better than Ryan Tannehill in his first start in years, but this matchup is a tougher one. Nevertheless, Moore showed enough to expect him to well-outperform his price tag.
Blake Bortles, Jaguars vs. TEN ($5000 DK, $6200 FD)
Blake Bortles gets to be unshackled this week. So, we can find out if he was the problem or if Gus Bradley was the problem. It is a beautiful matchup for Bortles to exploit as Tennessee has allowed more than 300 passing yards six times in their last nine games. Plus, there is a good chance they will be without one of their better CBs, Jason McCourty this week.
|Duke Johnson Jr.||$3,500||$4,700|
Weekly strategy – I don’t love the top priced options but I don’t hate them either. I am a little concerned about David Johnson going into Seattle, so I will probably fade him despite his upside. Either Latavius Murray or DeMarco Murray will be my RB1. I will pair them with someone from this list: Carlos Hyde, Jon Stewart, Jay Ajayi, Frank Gore, Kenneth Farrow, or Ty Montgomery on DK.
Your Fantasy Four Pack
LeSean McCoy, Bills vs. MIA ($9000 DK, $9100 FD)
LeSean McCoy was once again the victim of a Mike Gillislee vulture last week, it didn’t matter though as he still lit the lamp twice himself. This gave him five scores over the last four games. Pair that with an average of 150 scrimmage yards per game over that span and you see why McCoy is the safest play outside of LeVeon Bell. Miami went through a six-game stretch midway through the season where their rushing defense was phenomenal. Since then they have given up 100+ rushing yards in each of their last three games.
DeMarco Murray, Titans @ JAX ($7000 DK, $8400 FD)
Back in Week 8, Tennessee ran all over Jacksonville to the tune of 37-183-2. Plus, over the last four weeks the Jaguars have given up five RB rushing TDs. Sure, Derrick Henry is a vulture threat, but DeMarco Murray should still break the 100-yard mark and score too.
Devonta Freeman, Falcons @ CAR ($7100 DK, $7800 FD)
The loss of Luke Kuechly hasn’t kept Carolina from keeping opposing rushing attacks’ yardage in check. What it has done however, is make it easier for those other teams to score on the ground. Over the last four weeks, Carolina has allowed 57% of their season total of RB rushing scores. The heat pattern for Devonta Freeman has also continued to climb this month as he has seven TDs over his last four games. Freeman will only approach 100 combo yards here, but he will score at least once.
David Johnson, Cardinals @ SEA ($9200 DK, $8700 FD)
His price tag falls back into the four-digit range, but David Johnson still is not a highly-recommended option this week. Even in a bad matchup, Johnson will still produce enough in the passing game to guarantee him a top ten DFS point performance. I just know that he will be over-owned after the price drop, but his production will just match the salary, not bypass it.
Kenneth Farrow, Chargers @ CLE ($5000 DK, $6100 FD)
As of right now, it appears that Melvin Gordon will miss this week’s game, and frankly it makes sense that San Diego would allow him to rest another week since they won’t need him to beat the Browns. Kenneth Farrow will have little trouble topping the 100-combo yard plateau against these rubberneckers. I mean, as a team they are allowing 167 combo yards per game to opposing backs.
Frank Gore, Colts @ OAK ($4800 DK, $6000 FD)
The Raiders have allowed six RB rushing TDs over the last five weeks. Based on volume alone that should put Frank Gore into play this week. I am not buying into that Robert Turbin terrorism we’ve seen the last couple weeks. Gore is the back to own in Indy this season, and he should post a 75-100-yard day with four or five receptions and a score against this middling defense.
|Terrelle Pryor Sr.||$4,900||$6,100|
|Ted Ginn Jr.||$4,500||$4,800|
Weekly strategy – If Julio Jones plays he is an interesting option. I’m just concerned about how much his role will be. Mike Evans is also a good option, but I don’t think he is far enough above T.Y. Hilton or Julian Edelman to justify the price difference. I will pair one of them with two of the options in the 5K-6K range (Kenny Britt, one of the Vikings, one of the Chargers, one of the Redskins, or one of the Saints). On DK, I will likely roster someone like Ted Ginn as my DK FLEX. If I don’t draft that position from this slot, I will go Double-TE.
Your Fantasy Four Pack
Mike Evans, Buccaneers @ NO ($8500 DK, $8900 FD)
Over their last six games, New Orleans has been eviscerated by opposing WR corps five different times. Their one strong performance came against these very same Bucs. That game was one of three in a row for Mike Evans where he has underperformed. This stretch coincides with Jameis Winston targeting him a lot less than he did earlier this year. I expect Tampa Bay to revert back to what worked for them earlier this year, in this rematch. That is a healthy dose of Evans.
T.Y. Hilton, Colts @ OAK ($7800 DK, $7600 FD)
The Raiders’ secondary has allowed at least one WR to score in six of their last seven games. Amazingly in four of those games, Oakland only allowed ten or fewer receptions to the position. Despite the slim number of receptions, they still have given up an average of 144 receiving yards per game over that stretch to opposing WRs. This implies several long catches, something that T.Y. Hilton is very good at.
Julian Edelman, Patriots vs. NYJ ($6900 DK, $6700 FD)
This may be the sexiest play of the week as Julian Edelman’s price tag does not come anywhere near his perceived output this week against the Jets. Nine times this year New York has allowed 170 or more yards to opposing WR groups. Three of those games have come in the last four weeks, including an 18-203-2 line against these same Patriots. I’d be disappointed If Edelman doesn’t post 10-100-1, of course I also like Malcolm Mitchell as well and wouldn’t be surprised if both score here.
Julio Jones, Falcons @ CAR ($8100 DK, $8500 FD)
The ultimate boom-bust play this week. Julio Jones has 10-150-2 upside and 2-catch decoy downside. I still don’t feel 100% comfortable in playing him and would not start him in a cash game or even in a season-long championship. That said, in a GPP where boom-bust is the letter of the law, he makes a lot of sense.
Malcolm Mitchell, Patriots vs. NYJ ($5200 DK, $6100 FD)
See above in regards to the Jets ineptitude against opposing WRs. Mitchell has been a TD machine scoring in three of his last five games, including two TDs against these Jets. I doubt I will roster both of them on one lineup card, but one of the two will be on pretty much every lineup card I submit.
Ted Ginn, Jr., Panthers vs. ATL ($4500 DK, $4800 FD)
Ted Ginn Jr. is once again single-handedly winning teams their fantasy championships with his late-season heroics. Ginn has scored in four of five games since Week 11. He did the exact same thing last year between Weeks 11-15, except he scored more TDs. Atlanta’s pass defense has performed admirably the last five weeks, against subpar talent. Cam Newton threw for two TDs earlier this year versus them and I feel that number goes up this week in a potential shootout. This means that Ginn is definitely in the cross-hairs as my favorite WR3/DX FLEX play.
Weekly strategy – Cameron Brate will be my primary TE this week with sprinklings of both Greg Olsen and Kyle Rudolph. I will likely roster one of those other two at DK FLEX, if I don’t choose a WR4 for the position. I offer you a couple punt options here but you shouldn’t need them this week.
Your Fantasy Four Pack
Greg Olsen, Panthers vs. ATL ($5200 DK, $6800 FD)
Greg Olsen is one of eight different TEs to score against Atlanta this season. In most of the games where opposing TEs didn’t score against them they still had haughty stat lines. The only three TEs to struggle against Atlanta this year were: Richard Rodgers, Virgil Green, and Lance Kendricks. Of those three, Kendricks is the only one that belongs anywhere near a fantasy roster this season. Olsen is a lock for 7-80-1 this week and his upside is astronomical. He will be my DK FLEX on every roster that I don’t have Ted Ginn Jr. on, and my starting TE on a few other rosters as well.
Kyle Rudolph, Vikings @ GB ($4900 DK, $6000 FD)
Green Bay has improved upon their midseason slump at covering TEs over the last two weeks. That said, they were miserable for a few weeks there, and Kyle Rudolph has the size and skills to punish them some more. Rudolph has scored in two of his last three games versus the Packers and he leads all Vikings in targets and receptions since Week 11. At this point you can pretty much pencil in Rudolph for 7-70-1 most weeks.
Cameron Brate, Buccaneers @ NO ($3900 DK, $5600 FD)
This is my favorite play of the week (and not just because his TD last week catapulted me into the Original Empire League championship game this week). I expect to have him at TE in most of my lineups, and I will have a fair amount of stack-exposure to him and Jameis Winston. Brate has scored in two of his last three and five of his last eight games. His presence in the middle of the field has actually helped Winston as teams strategize to double and triple-team Mike Evans. I expect this game to go aerial fast, and as the number two option in this pass offense, Brate is a lock to score once again.
Antonio Gates, Chargers @ CLE ($4400 DK, $5400 FD)
I never thought we’d have to worry about a TE-vulture, but we have one in San Diego. Hunter Henry keeps harshing my mellow for Antonio Gates, but he does not scare me off of Gates in this cakewalk matchup. The Browns have allowed 12 TE touchdowns, including three over the last two weeks. I expect both of them to score in this contest.
Ryan Griffin, ($3300 DK, $4500 FD) or C.J. Fiedorowicz, Texans vs. CIN ($3700 DK, $4900 FD)
This comes down to who starts for Houston against the Bengals. If one of them ends up going but not the other (they both are on the probable side of questionable) it gets only sexier. Only one team has allowed more yards to the position than Cincy, and no team has recorded fewer than five TE receptions against the Bengals in a game since Week 5.
Levine Toilolo, Falcons @ CAR ($2500 DK, $4800 FD)
All reports are that Austin Hooper will miss this game shooting Levine Toilolo into fantasy consideration against a team that has allowed a TE to score in four of their last five games. Earlier this year, both Jacob Tamme and Hooper scored against the Panthers. With their injuries, Toilolo is the last man standing.