The season may be winding down but the competition is not getting any easier in the world of DFS. With nearly a full season of stats and trends to digest and research, the cream really begins to rise to the top in terms of the top projected fantasy plays of the week. But which ones will attract the most interest and by extension, become the players we may want to consider taking a pass on for a little uniqueness? That’s where The Fade comes in to help. Each week, we go through some of the projected most popular players at each position, as well as the games, matchups and situations that are sure to capture a ton of interest and have a huge bearing on ownership percentages for the week. Let’s get right to it, starting with the games that will be on everyone’s radar for Week 16.
This Week’s Projected High-Scoring Games
- Carolina Panthers @ Atlanta Falcons. Panthers -7, 47 ½. The Panthers had a bit of a scare last week against the Giants and will look to keep their undefeated record in tact against the Falcons, who have very slim playoff hopes but perhaps a little extra motivation to knock their NFC South rivals down a peg.
- Pittsburgh Steelers @ Baltimore Ravens. Steelers -10, 47 ½. The Steelers offense has been absolutely rolling and will be a popular target against a struggling Ravens team that can be exploited through the air.
- Jacksonville Jaguars @ New Orleans Saints. Saints -3 ½, 52. A late season shootout is on the menu in the Superdome between two teams that can score boatloads of points – and potentially give up just as many.
- Green Bay Packers @ Arizona Cardinals. Cardinals -4 ½, 50 ½. One of the week’s marquee matchups comes in the 4’o clock hour on Sunday. We can expect plenty of eyeballs glued to the screen and a healthy representation of players from both teams on DFS rosters.
We can expect the Steelers and Jaguars to capture plenty of attention with matchups against sieve-like defenses on the docket in Week 16. Cam Newton and the Panthers will have plenty of supporters, while enthusiasm may be somewhat tempered for the Saints, depending on when we receive confirmation on the status of Drew Brees for this week. The Ravens could be an intriguing contrarian pick that flies under the radar as the Steelers have allowed their fair share of points on occasion in 2015. Finally, we mentioned the late afternoon tilt between the Packers and Cardinals as a popular target, especially in the form of the passing games for both teams and the explosive Cardinals RB David Johnson, who is coming off of a monster outing of 47.9 points.
Popular Matchups to Exploit
- Giants vs. QBs. Cam Newton was the latest QB to have his way with the Giants secondary as he peppered them for 340 yards and five scores last week.
- 49ers vs. RBs. The 49ers have allowed two rushing touchdowns per game in each of their last three.
- Ravens vs. WRs. The Ravens secondary has most likely had some trouble sleeping this week with the high-powered Steelers offense coming to town.
- Bills vs. TEs. The defense has been a huge disappointment in 2015 and their ability to stop opposing tight ends is the latest red flag after Jordan Reed hauled in two touchdowns last week.
- Titans vs. DEF. The Titans allowed yet another opposing defense to score in the double digits last week as the Patriots defense walked away with 18.0 points.
All of the above matchups will make it onto the DFS radar in varying degrees, but the Ravens vs. WRs will be head and shoulders above all of them in terms of DFS interest. The Ravens have allowed opposing QBs to throw for multiple touchdowns nine times this season. Opposing signal callers have thrown three or more touchdowns against them four times in 2015 and a potent Steelers offense with a ridiculous amount of talent at the wide receiver position can easily make it five times.
Last Week’s Heroes
- CAR QB Cam Newton. Newton put the Panthers on his back last week and calmly engineered a last minute drive to place them in position to kick a game-winning field goal. Oh, and he also threw for 340 yards and five scores and chipped in another 100 yards on the ground.
- ARI RB David Johnson. Johnson looked to be one of Week 15’s top plays and he did not disappoint by delivering a mind-blowing 47.9 points.
- PIT WR Antonio Brown. Sixteen catches. 189 yards. Two scores. 49.9 points.
- TEN TE Delanie Walker. Walker only caught two of his five targets last week, but he found the end zone both times.
- Kansas City Chiefs DEF. Double digits in points again last week, the seventh time the Chiefs have achieved that feat in their last eight games.
Quite simply, all of the above are top targets this week and will have high ownership percentages. In fact, they all qualify as some of the week’s top fade candidates – but we don’t have to fade them all. We need to pick our spots and not just randomly fade the chalk plays because we are in fear of them being heavily owned. Think David Johnson’s value is too good to pass up, despite his likely having an ownership percentage that’s through the roof? Then Johnson should certainly find his way into your lineups and you can seek out some uniqueness elsewhere. Not sold on Cam Newton’s prospects for the week AND you expect him to be super popular this week? Then you my friend have just stumbled onto a solid candidate for your fade list.
On to this week’s selections, we can expect the below players to be among the most popular plays of the week – and for good reason as they all appear to be in good spots in Week 16. Thankfully, we can pick our spots and determine which ones are too good to pass on and which ones just may not deliver the return that many are expecting. We’ll begin this week’s list of fade candidates with the quarterback position.
Blake Bortles, $6,500
The forecast in the Superdome calls for points and Blake Bortles should have a big hand in helping that come to fruition. Sunday’s matchup between the Saints and Jaguars comes in with the highest projected total of the week at 52 points. Add in the fact that the Saints have been one of the most defensively-challenged squads in the NFL and interest will be sky-high from a DFS perspective. As a result, we have to consider Bortles as a fade candidate for Week 16. Matchup aside, Bortles would make for an interesting play as he’s been playing at an extremely high-level and is averaging 28.8 points per game over his past four. Bortles is one of those players that will be pretty tough to fade, but to capture a little uniqueness, we’ll have to consider going with a lower-owned signal caller.
Cam Newton, $7,500
If there were any doubts about Cam Newton’s status as the frontrunner for league MVP prior to Week 15, he thoroughly extinguished them and cemented his frontrunner status with a stellar performance against the Giants. Newton threw for 340 yards and five scores and picked up another 100 yards on the ground, which from a fantasy perspective translated into 48.6 points – his second outing with 40+ points in his last three. It’s pretty safe to say that Newton will be among the highest-owned quarterbacks in Week 16, so we may want to look for a less popular choice at a cheaper price point.
DeAngelo Williams, $6,500
We touched on the expected high-interest in the Steelers offense earlier - and that doesn’t just apply to the passing game. Williams has been an extremely consistent fantasy performer by averaging 21.97 points per game over his past four and comes in at a very reasonable salary of $6,500. A workhorse back that produces on a potent offense at a reasonable price will not go unnoticed and we can expect Williams to reside at the top of the charts for running back ownership percentage in Week 16. This is another tough call, but to separate our lineups from the pack, we may want to consider taking a pass on Williams.
David Johnson, $5,800
Speaking of tough calls, David Johnson remains priced as an absolute steal in spite of his monster outing last Sunday Night against the Eagles. Johnson carried the ball 29 times for 187 yards and three scores and added on four catches for 42 yards for good measure. That was good enough for a cool 47.9 points, a phenomenal 8.4x return on last week’s salary of $5,700. He received a price bump of $100 last week, which was nowhere near enough in relation to his potential output. Johnson’s ownership percentage will be through the roof in Week 16, so we at least have to consider him as a fade candidate. Think Johnson’s value is too great to pass on for this week? Then roster him with confidence as there are eight other roster spots that we can focus our differentiation efforts on.
Antonio Brown, $9,300
Antonio Brown is yet another of last week’s heroes that we have to consider for Week 16’s fade list. Last week, Brown hauled in 16 of his team-high 18 targets against the Broncos, which he was able to convert into 189 yards and two scores for 49.9 points. He received a healthy $600 price bump from last week, but that won’t deter too many DFSers, whose mouths are watering at Brown’s prospects against a porous Ravens secondary. He may not deliver a repeat of last week’s performance, but we can expect him to receive plenty of opportunity to come close to it as Ben Roethlisberger peppers the Ravens. Despite the tremendous upside offered by Brown, we have to consider him as a top fade candidate this week.
Allen Robinson, $7,500
The interest in Blake Bortles will be pretty high and by extension, we can expect Allen Robinson to be one of the more popular wideouts of the week. Robinson has found the end at least once in each of his last four and offers a high ceiling for a game on a fast track at the Superdome. A stack of Bortles and Robinson looks awfully enticing, but will also be one of the highest-owned stacks of Week 16, which forces us to consider fading the high-upside duo. Feel like the Bortles-Robinson combo is too good to pass on this week? Then pull the trigger, include them in your lineups and seek out some uniqueness elsewhere. If the duo produces as expected and you have them surrounded with some productive contrarian plays, you just may be looking at a lineup that can make some noise on the leader boards.
Greg Olsen, $7,000
We already covered the expected popularity of Cam Newton, so it’s pretty safe to say that his most trusted target will capture plenty of interest. Despite being one of the most expensive players at his position, Greg Olsen will be one of the highest-owned tight ends of the week. Olsen and the Panthers face off against a Falcons squad that has been middle of the road against tight ends this season. They did hold Olsen to only three catches for 52 yards in their Week 14 matchup, but Olsen exited the Panthers blowout win in the second quarter. He appears to be in line for a full workload this week and could offer a nice return, but we’ll have to consider him as one of the week’s top fade candidates at the tight end position.
Delanie Walker, $5,600
Delanie Walker has been the most consistent fantasy producer for the Tennessee Titans in an otherwise forgettable season. He has been targeted 104 times this season, the most of any Titan in 2015 – and it’s not even close. No other Titans passing target has had their number called more than 58 times. The heavy workload should continue this week, even with a new signal caller at the helm in the form of Zach Mettenberger. New starters can lean on the tight end position quite a bit. Combine this fact with an already heavily-targeted Walker and we can be confident that he will have plenty of opportunity and upside in front of him in Week 16. Walker is an intriguing candidate this week, but we’ll need to look elsewhere to differentiate our rosters.
Denver Broncos, $3,400
Last week’s 34-point outburst by the Steelers aside, the Broncos remain one of the top defenses in the league. Many will be looking for a bounce back in the Monday Night affair against the Bengals, who will have an inexperienced quarterback at the helm in A.J. McCarron. A top defense against a new quarterback can always be a nice spot for double digit fantasy output, but a potentially high-ownership percentage for the Broncos defense may offset the upside. We’ll look to one of Week 16’s less popular defenses to improve our chances of vaulting up the leader boards.
Kansas City Chiefs, $4,200
The Chiefs defense has scored in the double digits in seven of their past eight games and are in a fantastic spot to pull that off again when the Browns come to town this Sunday. They are one of the top plays on the board at defense for Week 16 and will be a popular choice, despite the hefty price tag. This is yet another tough fade call for this week, but we’ll need to look elsewhere if we need some uniqueness. Totally sold on the Chiefs and can’t live without them in Week 16? Then click the plus sign next to their name, but remember to sprinkle in some contrarian choices elsewhere.
That concludes The Fade for Week 16. There is an abundance of tough calls in front of us this week, but we’ll need to look past some of the chalk plays to separate our lineups from the pack. Thankfully we can pick our spots and roster the ones we are totally sold on while taking a pass on the ones we can live without. Best of luck this weekend!