When playing DFS, I feel like we're always striving for that perfect lineup. While we play in cash games to try and build up bankroll, it is always the dream of hitting the perfect lineup and winning a tournament that adds to a lot of the fun. It is not easy to nail everything in one and there are usually one or two guys that let us down. Well, it goes the same way for writing this column. I nailed the wide receiver and tight end calls last week (and all of them $6000 or under), but all I could do was stare at the horrendous Devonta Freeman pick and his 3.8 DraftKings points in a game where the Falcons scored 42 points. I had a couple of teams that were doing really well in the morning games and Freeman proceeded to annihilate them in the afternoon. Avoiding that one bum is an important as finding a great value. We remember the bad calls and bad plays way more than any of the good ones and that one stuck with me all week. Hopefully we will avoid any grenades like that this week.
This is another week when weather could come into play for a number of games as there are expected to be rough conditions in the Midwest and East Coast this weekend. Make sure to check the weather Sunday morning when making your final calls. I will be covering the main Sunday DraftKings slate, so while that usually leaves out Thursday and Sunday, also note that with no college football this weekend, there is also a Saturday game featuring the Jets and Dolphins. On to Week 15!
A number of the elite QBs have nasty matchups this weekend. Of course, those quarterbacks are so good that they can often overcome these matchups, but in DFS where we get to pick anyone we want, I will typically not spit in the face of a brutal matchup, especially on the road.
Matt Ryan, ATL vs. SF ($7,300) – Ryan will probably be a chalky pick this week facing the 49ers and their impressive 12 losses in a row. The 49ers’ pass D has been better the last two weeks having allowed zero TD passes, but a closer look reveals one game in the snow against the Bears and another against Bryce Petty and the Jets. Prior to those games, the Niners D had allowed three or more passing touchdowns in four out of five games. Ryan is at home this week and this is a game the Falcons need to win as they come in tied with Tampa Bay in the NFC South. Ryan may not have Julio Jones again this week, but it appears Mohammed Sanu will be returning and Ryan tossed three TDs last week without either of them as he spread the ball around to eight different receivers. The Falcons are going to score a lot of points this week and I always want my quarterback in that sort of situation.
Other strong options: David Carr, OAK at SD ($6,300); Philip Rivers, SD vs. OAK ($6,200); Carson Palmer, ARZ vs. NO ($6,000)
Joe Flacco, BAL vs. PHI ($5,700) – Flacco has been throwing the ball a ton lately (52 and 47 passes the last two weeks) and the Eagles have surrendered six TD passes and an average of 293 passing yards over the last three weeks. Furthermore, one of those weeks was a 332-yard performance by Andy Dalton playing without AJ Green. Flacco has all his weapons healthy and if the weather looks good Sunday morning, he presents a nice avenue to save cash.
Note: If you are playing in a slate with the Saturday night game in it, I love Jay Ajayi facing a D that just got thrashed for 193 yards on only 17 carries by Carlos Hyde.
LeSean McCoy, BUF vs. CLE ($8,900) – There is no point in writing up how good LeVeon Bell and David Johnson are so I am going to discuss McCoy. If you want to go large at RB, I love pairing him with one of the top two backs or if you want to fade the top two, he is a nice option that could actually compete with them. McCoy has been great the last three weeks, averaging 28.1 DraftKings per game over that stretch with a low output of 22.8 points. He struggled running the ball last week against the Steelers, but he caught six passes for 81 yards to salvage his fantasy line. He gets the Browns this week in a game where he should excel early and then get fed late as the Bills protect a lead. McCoy is going to top 100 total yards in this one and score at least once.
Latavius Murray, OAK at SD ($5,800) – Murray is currently on a nice touchdown stretch with four scores over the last three weeks. He was particularly impressive last week in a hostile environment in Kansas City, rushing for 103 yards and a score. Murray’s usage has ramped up the past three weeks as he has received at least 22 touches in each game. The Chargers have a tough run defense as they have not allowed a 100-yard rusher this season (Frank Gore’s 82 is the most they have surrendered), but with Murray’s volume and his cheap price of only $5,800, I like him to be able to grind his way to value this week. There are not many running backs who are touching the ball as much as Murray lately, and the ones that do are priced way above him.
Other strong (non Johnson and Bell) options: Ezekiel Elliott, DAL vs. TB ($8,200); Carlos Hyde, SF at ATL ($5,900); Lamar Miller, HOU vs. JAX ($5,400); Tevin Coleman, ATL vs. SF ($5,000)
Kenneth Farrow, SD vs. OAK ($4,400) – By all accounts, it looks like Melvin Gordon will miss this game, which propels Farrow into the mix for DraftKings. Farrow was the primary option for the Chargers last week after Gordon went down as he saw 55 snaps and 22 touches, including six receptions. Ronnie Hillman is lurking to get a few touches, but Farrow should see the majority of the work and at $4,400, that is a great opportunity to get stats and save cash.
I am going to focus on some mid-range or cheaper guys again this week. Of course, you will want some studs also and my favorite expensive guy this week is Odell Beckham, Jr at home against the Lions.
Larry Fitzgerald, ARZ vs. NO ($7,000) – I think it is fair to just toss out the Cardinals game on offense last week as the constant rain in Miami played a huge factor. Fitzgerald caught three passes for only 12 yards, both lows on the season. This is a prime bounce back spot for Fitz moving back indoors and facing the Saints. Fitzgerald has only received fewer that seven targets once all season and the Cardinals will likely make sure to get him the ball after last week’s performance. The release of Michael Floyd gives Palmer one less guy to chuck it to and that should increase Fitzgerald’s looks even more. The Saints’ defense managed to shut down Mike Evans last week, but gave up 145 yards and a touchdown to Golden Tate in Week 13 and touchdowns to Kenny Britt and Tavon Austin in Week 12. This is a prime spot in a game back home for Fitz to be really strong, especially with full-point PPR scoring.
Demaryius Thomas, DEN vs. NE ($6,300) – I try not to go back to the well when writing up guys, but when I see Thomas priced at only $6,300, I just have to use him again. With Trevor Siemian back at the helm for the Broncos, Thomas had a monster PPR game last week, hauling in 10 balls for 126 yards. I discussed Thomas’ elite number of targets last week and he added to that that with another 16 (!) against the Titans. That makes seven of the last eight weeks where Thomas has seen double-digit targets. While the Broncos defense is obviously strong, one would think Brady and the Patriots will still put some points on the board and the Broncos should have to throw plenty in this game. Thomas is the 14th-highest priced receiver on DraftKings this week and I think that is simply too low, which makes him a solid play yet again.
Mike Wallace, BAL vs. PHI ($4,800) – Wallace leads the Ravens in targets this season, averaging 7.7 targets per game. This week he faces the Eagles who have been crushed lately by the passing game. They have allowed six receivers to top 90 yards in the last five games and allowed touchdowns to both DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon last week. The Ravens like to take shots downfield to Wallace and this is a prime opportunity for him to hit one or two of those at a very cheap price. This will be a play where we need to check the weather in Baltimore on Sunday AM, but if the conditions look OK, Wallace is in a prime spot to be a great value play.
Other strong options: Odell Beckham Jr., NYG vs. DET ($8,000); Michael Crabtree, OAK at SD ($5,900); Stefon Diggs vs. Indy ($6,200); Willie Snead, NO at ARZ ($5,600); Sammy Watkins, BUF vs. CLE ($5,900); Tyreek Hill, KC vs. TEN ($5,800); Taylor Gabriel, ATL vs. SF ($5,600).
JJ Nelson, ARZ vs. NO ($3,900) – With Michael Floyd released and John Brown limited in his snaps, Nelson could see a lot of opportunities in the Cardinals’ pass game. Floyd played 70 and 69 snaps the last two weeks and that is a ton of usage that needs to be filled. A matchup at home against the Saints only sweetens the setup and at $3,900, he is a very nice way to save some cap at the WR position.
Cameron Brate, TB at DAL ($3,800) – Brate has been a consistent weapon for Jameis Winston and is second on the Buccaneers with 71 targets on the season. Brate has been more involved lately due to injuries to the other Bucs receiving threats and has caught at least four balls in five of his last six games with three touchdowns in that stretch. While the Bucs’ defense has stepped up recently, the Cowboys figure to put up some points at home, which could turn into a nice game flow situation for Brate. The Cowboys have not faced many strong tight end options, but have struggled a bit when they have, allowing two-touchdown games to both Jordan Reed and Zach Miller. I like Brate’s chances to score this week and be heavily involved in the offense all day long, a nice formula for only $3,800.
Other strong options: Travis Kelce, KC vs. TEN ($5,900); Zach Ertz, PHI at BAL ($4,900); Eric Ebron, DET at NYG ($3,700); Ladarius Green, PIT at CIN ($3,700)
Jermaine Gresham, ARZ vs. NO ($2,500) – If you wanted to get a guy at minimum price this week, the matchup is great for Gresham and surprisingly he has amassed 23 targets in the just the last three weeks, catching five balls in each of those games; nice production at an uber-cheap price. However, make sure to check the injury report on Gresham before deploying him, as he did not practice Wednesday with a knee injury,
Green Bay, at CHI ($3,200) – The Packers defense has come on recently, putting up 10 sacks in the last three games and averaging over 12 DraftKings points in that span. They especially stepped up last week against the Seahawks, snagging five interceptions on Russell Wilson. Matt Barkley has actually been decent since taking over as the Bears QB three weeks ago, but this week, the weather could be a huge challenge for the Bears offense. It is projected to be bitterly cold in Chicago on Sunday with a good chance for precipitation. When the weather gets that extreme, I love to jump on a defense facing an inexperienced quarterback. At only $3,200, if the weather on Sunday morning looks as bad as the forecast does, I will be all over the Pack D.
Oakland, at SD ($2,700) – The Chargers have been a dream to play fantasy defenses against as of late. Philip Rivers has thrown 10 interceptions the past four weeks and the Chargers OL gave up five sacks to the Panthers last week. The Raiders have forced nine turnovers in their last four games and at only $2,700, I like their chance to make a big play on defense this week.