It took three quarters of the season, but we’ve finally covered every Footballguys tool that can be used to supplement your weekly DFS process. But fear not -- just because there isn’t a new Footballguys DFS tool to cover this week, it doesn’t mean the end of the Exploiting Footballguys Tools series.
From here on out, I’ll be giving you my top tournament plays at each position, and showing you how (at least) one of the previously covered Footballguys tools helped me arrive at those players. If you haven’t been following this season, here are links to the previous articles in this series that will show you where to find our DFS tools and how to use them, or you can click here for our complete Video Training Library.
|Data Dominator||Interactive Value Charts||Snap Counts|
|Vegas Value Chart||Target Stats||Game Log Dominator|
|Normalized Strength of Schedule||eVALUEator||Historical Stats|
|Site Projections||Game Predictor||Custom Fantasy Points Allowed|
Moving onto the Week 16 slate…
Ben Roethlisberger - “Start Big Ben at home” has become a fantasy football cliche at this point, but opinions usually don’t get overused when they aren’t rooted in some level of truth, and Roethlisberger’s recent track record at Heinz Field is no exception.
The Game Log Dominator shows Roethlisberger has averaged absurd numbers at home since the start of last season, including averages of 338 passing yards, 3 touchdowns, and 30.3 fantasy points over an 11 game stretch. When compared to his 14 away games during the same time period, Roethlisberger’s fantasy points per game average increases by nearly 83% in home games.
Despite these well-known splits, we should have access to Roethlisberger’s 35 point ceiling at reasonable ownership this week -- even though he’s only available on slates that include the Sunday games. Ownership percentage at quarterback is normally pretty flat regardless, but with Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Matt Ryan, Andrew Luck, Derek Carr, and Philip Rivers all in terrific spots, it’s especially doubtful any single quarterback (besides maybe Brees) will get piled on this week.
Roethlisberger’s matchup against Baltimore’s sixth-ranked pass defense (DVOA) will count as another strike against his ownership, but the Ravens have struggled mightily to contain quarterbacks in their last two road games. Dak Prescott dropped a 301-3-0 passing line on them in Week 11, which was followed by Tom Brady's 406-3-1 performance in Week 14.
Three consecutive sub-20 fantasy point performances and a 44.5 point over/under will also shade Roethlisberger (and the Ben-Brown stack) from the crowd, despite his overall QB1 upside in a game Pittsburgh needs to win to secure the AFC North division title.
Aaron Rodgers - While we’re on the topic of superstar quarterbacks in must-win home division games against tough pass defenses, we also have Rodgers -- the top-scoring quarterback on FanDuel this season -- vs. the Vikings.
While it seemed like Green Bay finally discovered it’s long-lost running game last week, it’s more likely Rodgers will account for all three touchdowns implied by the Packers 25 point team total. Rodgers has been involved in over 83% of the Packers touchdowns this season (passing + rushing), and a league-leading 76.2% of Green Bay’s scores have come via the pass.
The Vikings have given up the third-fewest fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks, but after they completely laid down at home against the Colts last week (with their season on the line), Minnesota looks ready for the offseason. Vegas seems to agree with that sentiment, as the line opened with the Packers favored by a touchdown. In the 14 games Rodgers has played as a home favorite of seven or more points since the start of 2014, he has averaged 28.8 fantasy points per game.
The eVALUEator shows you should get your heaviest exposure to Rodgers on DraftKings, where he’s priced as the QB8, compared to FanDuel where he has the second-highest quarterback salary on the Thursday-Monday slate.
Mark Ingram - Usually the lead running back on a home favorite with the second-highest implied team total on the slate would get our attention, but Ingram shouldn’t reach double digit ownership on any site this week, even on DraftKings where he’s sandwiched between Mike Gillislee and Rashad Jennings as the RB29.
After seeing Ingram receive exactly seven carries in Weeks 13 and 14, and watching Tim Hightower score twice on the ground last week, the crowd won’t perceive Ingram as the Saints lead runner. But Ingram’s 17 carries (for 78 yards against Arizona’s top-10 run defense) and 48% snap share were easily his highest since Week 12, when he injured his toe in an explosive performance against the Rams.
Now that Ingram is no longer on the injury report, he can be safely projected for around 15-18 total touches in a plus matchup with Tampa Bay. The Bucs defense has stiffened lately, but Ezekiel Elliott (23-159-1) proved last week Tampa’s 23rd ranked rush defense (DVOA) can still be beaten on the ground.
The Data Dominator shows the problem with Ingram is lack of touchdown upside. He has just five carries from inside the five-yard line this season, compared to 11 for Hightower (and four for John Kuhn). But if you’re a proponent of the “squeaky wheel gets the grease” narrative, here was Ingram’s sideline reaction to getting pulled at the goal line on one of Hightower’s touchdowns last week. It’s not like the Saints don’t trust Ingram at the goal line. He leads the team in goal line carries since his rookie year by a wide margin and has converted those looks into scores at a respectable 35.5% rate.
With Drew Brees, Brandin Cooks, and Michael Thomas likely to be popular options this week, investing in New Orleans’ running game in tournaments is the clear leverage play. I’ll be hedging against Ingram with Hightower in a few lineups, but Ingram is a better player, has a more predictable workload (when healthy), and is well priced relative to the 30+ point upside he’s displayed on multiple occasions this season.
Jordan Howard - I stumped for Howard in this space last week, and he came through with a solid 17-91-1 rushing line (and 4-23-0 receiving line) in a less-than-stellar matchup with Green Bay’s top-10 rush defense. The case for Howard in Week 16 is much the same as it was last week, only now his matchup puts a cherry on top:
Enjoys Home Cooking - All six of Howard’s rushing touchdowns have come at home this season. Even if you remove his nuclear 32-117-3 performance against the dismal 49ers, Howard is still averaging 19.8 carries, 94.4 rushing yards, and 0.6 touchdowns per game in his five other home games.
Involved as a Receiver - After receiving another four targets in the passing game last week, Howard has seen at least that many looks in four of the Bears last five games. The one game he failed to reach the four target mark was in Chicago’s blowout win over San Francisco -- a game in which Matt Barkley threw only 18 passes.
The Matchup - Washington has allowed the most raw fantasy points per game (Fanduel scoring) to opposing running backs over the last five weeks, including a 25-132-0 performance last Monday by Jonathan Stewart, who hadn’t broken the 100-yard rushing mark in any other game this season.
Jay Ajayi - It feels like years since Ajayi ran for 529 yards and four touchdowns in a three game span from Weeks 6-9. Since that time he has failed to top 79 rushing yards or 12 fantasy points in any game. Recency bias will help Ajayi fly below the radar this week in a great matchup -- something he hasn’t enjoyed in about a month.
The Dolphins last three opponents -- New York, Arizona, and Baltimore -- rank third, tenth, and first in rush defense DVOA, respectively. In their prior two games against LA and San Francisco, Miami was dealing with multiple injuries to starters on their offensive line. Although Pro Bowl center Mike Pouncey -- the key to Miami’s running game -- was recently placed on IR, the rest of the line has returned healthy and should be able to get over on a Bills defense that has allowed the second-most fantasy points per game to opposing running backs over the last five weeks when normalized for strength of schedule.
Unless we can expect career backup Matt Moore to throw for a touchdown on every 4.5 pass attempts for the second consecutive week (we definitively cannot), chances are Miami will be doing most of their scoring on the ground against the Bills. A league-high 55.9% of the touchdowns Buffalo has allowed this season have come via the rush, making it likely Ajayi finds paydirt at least once in this game.
Antonio Brown - Brown is the obvious stacking partner for Roethlisberger on slates that include the Sunday games. It stands to reason that when Roethlisberger goes off in home games, the wide receiver who accounts for over 27% of his aimed throws and 40% of his touchdowns, usually comes along for the ride.
The numbers bear it out. Since the start of 2014, Brown has averaged 28.1 PPR fantasy points in Roethlisberger’s 19 home starts, on the strength of 12.3 targets, 8.8 catches, 120 receiving yards, and 1.2 touchdowns per game. In short, his fantasy output increases by nearly 50% in games played at Heinz Field.
Hopefully, Brown’s recent string of three straight sub-15 fantasy point performances (FanDuel) will scare the Saturday-Sunday crowd because Baltimore has no one on their active roster capable of covering him. The Ravens best cornerback, Jimmy Smith, hasn’t practiced since December 10th, which “tells us all we need to know about his status for Sunday”. That leaves frequent burn victim, Shareece Wright, and rookie Tavon Young to line up against Brown on the outside. I’m playing the Thursday-Sunday and Saturday-Sunday slates just to get exposure to Brown’s 35+ point upside at the lowest price we’ve seen all season.
Tyler Lockett - This is probably lazy analysis, but Lockett shares the same profile as other wide receivers who have burned Arizona recently, including Brandin Cooks (7-186-2), Taylor Gabriel (4-75-2), and DeSean Jackson (59 yard reception).
It certainly looks like Lockett is over the injuries that hampered him early this year and is finally making good on his preseason buzz with a better-late-than-never breakout. Lockett’s target share has risen from just 11.3% from Weeks 1-11 up to a respectable 19.4% over the last four weeks. The last time Lockett saw less than six targets in a game was back in Week 11.
Not surprisingly, Lockett’s production is on the rise along with his target volume. Over the last four weeks, he ranks as the cumulative WR14 on FanDuel yet he remains priced down in Devin Funchess territory at WR77 -- absurd value considering his recent production. Splash plays of 40, 75, and 57 yards over his last three games have helped Lockett exhibit a legitimate 5x ceiling -- exactly what you’re looking for in GPPs from players in his price range.
Julian Edelman - In one corner we have Edelman, owner of a league-leading 33.2% target market share over the last five weeks. He’s playing at home with New England favored by a season-high 16.5 points, against the bottom-ranked pass defense in the league (DVOA).
In the other we have the Jets, who quit on their season weeks ago and get buried by slot receivers on the regular. It’s not difficult to imagine how this one ends. The only question is whether or not Edelman has a ceiling high enough for GPPs.
Despite all the targets, Edelman hasn’t topped 14 fantasy points (FanDuel) in any of the previous four games. Breaking 20 fantasy points (something Edelman hasn’t done all year) is tough to do when you only have two touchdowns on the season, but there’s reason to believe Edelman’s touchdown total is due some course correction.
Edelman is one of 10 wide receivers with at least 130 targets this season. None of the other nine have less than four touchdowns (DeAndre Hopkins), and 8-out-of-10 have at least five. If Edelman was a complete afterthought when his team got within striking distance (see Landry, Jarvis) I wouldn’t be convinced he’s due for touchdown progression, but his 12 red zone targets are the most of any Patriots pass catcher.
If Edelman has a ceiling game left in him, this is the spot. The Patriots are unlikely to take their foot off the gas against the Jets to begin with, but with Tom Brady shooting for an MVP and New England looking to secure homefield advantage throughout the AFC playoffs, their 30 point implied team total seems like a worst case scenario.
Greg Olsen - Tight ends have been picking on the Atlanta linebackers all season. The Falcons allow the fifth-most fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends when normalized for strength of schedule. They’ve been especially bad over the last five weeks, letting up nearly 40% more fantasy points per game to the position than league average.
Olsen hasn’t done much from a fantasy perspective recently to justify his TE2 salary on the main slate. The last time he caught a touchdown was Week 9 and he hasn’t flashed his 20+ fantasy point ceiling since way back in Week 5.
Still, the opportunity is there for Olsen. His 28% target market share leads all tight ends this season, and while it’s dipped to about 23% over the past five weeks, that’s still good enough to place him inside the top-5 at the position.
Back-to-back games with at least 85 receiving yards have Olsen within 8 yards of becoming the first tight end to record three consecutive 1,000 yard seasons. Carolina should be motivated to get Olsen into the history books and Atlanta figures to oblige. While rostering Olsen isn’t exactly a case of paying up to be contrarian, Footballguys’ Dan Hindery listed him at 11% ownership in FantasyDraft’s biggest Thursday night GPP, which placed Olsen behind Cameron Brate (35%), Delanie Walker (22%), and Zach Ertz (16%) on the tight end popularity scale. Olsen is more consistent than any of those players, his upside is just as high (or higher), and he has the best matchup.