Since we’re always looking to maximize our DraftKings dollar, let’s take a look through the top plays of Week 16 in terms of cost efficiency. As always, we’ll do so with an eye on three key factors:
Projected DK Points – Obviously, this is the final DraftKings score that the projection model spits out for a player.
Points Per $1K – This gives us an idea of what production level we can expect in relation to a guy’s DraftKings salary.
H-value – This is discussed and utilized extensively in our Cracking DraftKings book, as well as on Maurile Tremblay’s weekly Interactive Value Chart. It’s a formula designed to provide a clearer picture of per-dollar value, with an eye on identifying the higher-scoring and more efficient fantasy prospects.
Surprisingly, Blake Bortles has actually played better and produced more on the road than at home in 2015. In any event, the effects of facing the Saints are irrefutable – five of the last seven opposing QBs have posted high-end QB1 numbers. And there’s no real reason to expect Bortles to break that chain. He hasn’t registered fewer than 26 DraftKings points in a month, and has tossed 2+ touchdowns in eight of his last 10 games. He’s a confident play at the week’s No. 8 QB salary; his 19.5-point marker looks like a foregone conclusion.
There’s still no Kryptonite in place; Cam Newton continues to swing DFS contests with his arm. Newton has thrown 40+ passes twice over the last three weeks, soaring past the 300-yard bonus in both and racking up a stunning 13 touchdown passes. That’s wild, of course, but who’s to say it’ll stop? The projection model, which leverages recent passing history for both the QB and the defense, gives him a robust 275 yards and 1.71 TD against the Falcons’ struggling pass defense. And that, of course, comes in addition to Newton’s league-best rushing marks.
Similarly, it’s hard to expect the Russell Wilson dominance to come to Earth this week. With such uncertainty in the backfield and mediocrity in run blocking, Seattle is all but locked into a pass-happy attack for the time being. It’s worked phenomenally, of course – Wilson has thrown a jaw-dropping 19 touchdowns over the last four weeks, and he’s just thrashed his 21.6-point cash game marker in each game. The real concern here comes from game flow, but the Rams are no pushover. They’ve won two of the last three from Seattle, both close, high-scoring affairs.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, the starter on 2015’s Perpetually Undervalued Team, steps into a sneaky-good matchup for Week 16. And as usual, he comes with a salary and expected ownership level far too low for his capabilities. He’s excelled at feeding his elite WR tandem – particularly in the red zone – and will have a sizeable canvas to utilize in a semi-shootout with the Patriots. Fitzpatrick and Tom Brady combined to throw 93 passes in their Week 7 meeting; for a QB with that kind of volume and touchdown potential, $5,200 is larceny.
Others disagree, but I just can’t give Ben Roethlisberger the same chance of hitting his value floor as the above options. The marker is just 20.4, and he’s demolished that several times recently, but that’s no given in a matchup with the pitiful Ravens. The 10-point road favorite Steelers could coast to a hefty early lead and cap Roethlisberger’s scoring potential. I much prefer to fold him and 1-2 of his supporting pieces into a few low-entry tournaments; there’s a decent chance we don’t see much dynamism from this passing game.
Teddy Bridgewater has earned a modest bump in salary and weekly ownership, but both remain far too low to ignore in GPP lineups. He still brings weak volume to the table, but his recent efficiency (10.1 yards per attempt over the last two weeks) has allowed him to exploit two struggling secondaries for back-to-back QB1/2 lines. A date with the wholly burnable Giants defense could set him up for a third at just $5,200.
There’s still no reason to jump off the David Johnson bandwagon, especially in cash games. One of the league’s most dynamic backs, he’s still the full-time backfield man in the league’s best offense. I asked Santa last week for more red zone usage and was rewarded with three rushes from inside the 10 (he scored on two). And Johnson’s overall floor is lovely: the Packers’ soft run defense has allowed 94+ rushing yards in five straight, and this highly projected matchup (50 combined points, says Vegas) should keep the RBs involved in the passing game.
While the fantasy world flocks to the Steelers passing game in a tasty matchup with the Ravens’ awful secondary, I’ll be looking hard at DeAngelo Williams. His game script as a 10-point favorite suggests more game-long success than the receivers offer, but Williams is script-proof at this point, boasting 21 targets drawn over the last four weeks. So his outlook is excellent in any type of game, but through the roof in a Steeler-dominant one. A $6,500 salary is noticeably low for that kind of floor/ceiling combination.
It’s not that I love Denard Robinson, especially at a salary that doesn’t reflect his awful Week 15 rushing performance. In any other matchup, I’d pass hard, but a date with the Saints is not to be ignored. Robinson should benefit hard from a high-scoring matchup (10 targets against the Falcons) and gash the soft front seven along the way; 100 combined yards looks like a better-than-50/50 prospect.
Oh, the Patriots and their backs. Week 15 suggested a thorough timeshare of rushing opportunities among incumbent Brandon Bolden, newcomer Joey Iosefa, and perhaps even The Bones of Steven Jackson. What we do know is that only James White is assured of a fantasy-worthy snap count, thanks to his Dion Lewis-like usage in the passing game. White has amassed a whopping 32 targets over the last four weeks, and this matchup with the Jets bodes well for his quest to keep that going. That’s been a top-flight run defense all year, and Tom Brady threw 54 passes in their wild Week 7 meeting.
The Bills have produced a 12.5-point running back 12 times in 15 weeks, so both Karlos Williams and Mike Gillislee are in play at $4,500 each. Both have been ultra-explosive (6.0 and 10.4 yards per carry, respectively) and have great big-play outlooks against a Cowboys defense that’s allowed 14 rushing TDs on the year, the fifth-most in the league. I wish one of these guys came at a strong discount, but I’ll throw each into a tournament lineup.
There’s usually not much sniffing around Bilal Powell, one of the league’s most ordinary talents, so throw him into the GPP hat. He’s caught 5+ balls in four of his last five games as the clear passing down preference over Chris Ivory, so he’s always a consideration when the Jets are expected to face a negative game script. A matchup with the 12-2 Patriots could easily produce another big PPR line.
Similarly, no one seems to want Joique Bell around despite arguably holding Week 16’s best touchdown outlook. Bell is a fairly clear second banana to Ameer Abdullah, but he’s excelling near the goal line, with 7 of the team’s 11 running back rushes from inside the five (he’s scored on three of them). The 49ers are comically weak against opposing RBs, and no team allows more opportunity for short-yardage rushing.
|Ted Ginn Jr.||4,900||13.95||2.847||21.270|
Doug Baldwin is still on the outer edges of value, but probably not while dinged up with a pesky hamstring ailment. He may even miss the game entirely. In any case, teammate Tyler Lockett is the preferred option by a mile. He costs $2,200 less despite likely similar usage – his respectable 19.8% target share over the last four games is likely to grow with Baldwin limited or out. Besides, Rams cornerback Trumaine Johnson is adept at funneling the ball to secondary targets.
As I mentioned above, the stage is set for some massive ownership throughout the Steelers passing game. But I’m wary of using Antonio Brown at his massive salary in a game he could lead throughout. I’m much more interested in Martavis Bryant at a $3,700 discount. Bryant has solidly escaped his low-volume, low-floor tag, with 22.9% of targets coming his way over the last four weeks. And last week’s 10-catch, 87-yard performance showed he’s capable of contributing big numbers in different roles – though his salary still doesn’t require a particularly high one.
Golden Tate’s fantasy resurgence has been exceptional, as he’s seen 45 targets to Calvin Johnson’s 37 and found the end zone five times over the last five games. He’s caught 6+ balls in eight of his last 10, so his PPR floor is great, and his 17.4-point marker is well within reach. He’s hit it in three of his last four, after all.
If you’re hunting wideouts flushed with both opportunity share and downfield dynamism, Jeremy Maclin is near the top of your list. However, the key word in that sentence is “share” – Maclin has seen a whopping 40% of Kansas City targets over the last month, but his run-heavy offense only affords him heavy work in certain game scripts. A matchup with the 3-11 Browns doesn’t scream “passing game,” but rostering Maclin allows you to follow the chalk and capitalize on nearly all downfield passing Alex Smith actually does.
Early ownership indications are that Mike Evans may be criminally underplayed this week. In four games without Vincent Jackson, Evans has seen 9, 19, 13, and 17 targets and reached 23 points three times. Jameis Winston’s week-to-week consistency is always a concern, but $7,300 is a pretty fair price to hope Evans gets the better of second-year cornerback Kyle Fuller and a mediocre Bears secondary.
You know all about Eric Decker’s awesome weekly floor, but there’s a good chance we see his ceiling this week. Top Patriots cover man Malcolm Butler has done a fine job on No. 1 wideouts – as in Week 7, when he halted No. 1 Brandon Marshall’s 100-yard game streak. If Butler shows as well again, Decker should see plenty of single coverage and red zone attention. And there’s virtually no chance the Jets get out of this game without throwing 35+ passes.
No team projects to throw more Week 16 passes than the Broncos, so both Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders are worthy considerations. Cincinnati fields a fine pass defense, but volume alone should lift both Thomas and Sanders well beyond 10 targets. Of the two, Sanders makes for the better GPP target, with better upside and available at a $1,000 discount. But don’t discount the distinct possibility of a trademark Thomas game, with 12 targets spun into a 10-100-1 statline.
Awash in the Ravens’ nightmare season has been the solid WR2 volume Kamar Aiken has enjoyed. He’s seen a team-dominant 24% of targets across several recent passers. And while he’s short on upside, he’s turned some of that volume into production (20- and 30-point weeks over the last month). The Steelers struggle mightily with just about all wideouts, so even low-upside guys like Aiken get a ceiling boost.
The Texans are no longer throwing the ball enough to support two fantasy-viable wideouts, but Nate Washington looks like a solid punt. Washington posted two impressive lines (9-127-2 and 4-74-1) with Cecil Shorts out, as he will be Sunday.
Rob Gronkowski is fantastic and unafraid of the Jets’ tight end defense. He caught 11 balls for 108 yards and a score in their Week 7 matchup, and looks poised to produce again amidst a banged-up receiving corps. He’s priced a bit beyond his expected ceiling, as always, but who among the top tiers isn’t this week?
It’s a murky week for TE projections beyond the ultra-expensive, but there are a handful of shrewd plays at discounts of $2,000 or more. Julius Thomas offers the best outlook, projecting to a 5-61-1 line against a Saints defense that’s routinely worked over by tight ends. He carries a strong touchdown outlook in an offense that’s thrown 35 red zone passes over his four-game sample.
Everyone’s finally in on Will Tye, and this is the week to roster him. With Odell Beckham Jr, Jr. suspended, Tye projects to a noticeable bump in his opportunity, which was solid to begin with. He’s caught 5+ passes in four of his last five games, so you know he’s got a floor. And it’s easy to expect a season-high in targets; 8-10 of them would drag Tye to cash value at just $3,500.
Gary Barnidge is for real and an attractive contrarian play in Kansas City. They’re brutal on tight ends, sure, but Barnidge has been brutal on defenses all year. With game flow almost certain to be in his favor, Barnidge should have plenty of opportunity to hit a GPP-successful line around 6-68-1.
I’m willing to take another GPP crack at value from Vernon Davis, who’s posted two impressive lines as a Bronco and should have plenty of opportunity for a third. Davis doesn’t have a great target share (10.4% with Brock Osweiler under center), but no team projects to more pass attempts this week. And the Bengals are no great deterrent to tight ends; Barnidge recently posted a 5-59 line and Heath Miller went 10-66 two weeks ago.
Kansas City couldn’t be set up any nicer. They’ve scored in double digits in 10 of 14 games, including their last three, and have as strong of a sack outlook as anyone. Meanwhile, the opposing Browns have allowed D/ST units to ring up an average of 11.9 points over their last eight.
The chalk will favor the Seahawks, and that’s certainly not a bad basket to keep those eggs. They’ve been good for 11+ points in six of eight games, mostly on the backs of interceptions and sacks. Case Keenum is unlikely to break that spell, especially in Seattle.
The Steelers make GPP sense against the Ravens, who will be choosing from the unholy trio of Matt Schaub, Jimmy Clausen, and Ryan Mallett for their starting QB. They were turnover-prone even with Joe Flacco under center, having committed a stunning 15 giveaways over their last six games.
Take your pick from between the Texans and Lions, two underappreciated defenses who face inaccurate backup QBs in Week 16. Both look poised to return value easily at a solid discount from the top units. I prefer Houston; they’ve notched a three-sack game in six of the last eight weeks and will prey on a less prepared starter.