Expert DRAFTing Week 15

A how-to-guide to beating this week's snake drafts on DRAFT

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DRAFT offers weekly fantasy contests with 5-man rosters (1 QB, 2 RB, 2 WR/TE) and 0.5-point PPR scoring (the same as FanDuel).  Instead of using a salary cap like other daily fantasy sites, teams are built through live snake drafts with 30-seconds per pick. The most common contest sizes are Head-to-Head, 3-Team, 6-Team, and 10-Team. 

First, we will dive into the player rankings and draft strategy for each of the four Draft sizes. For Week 15, the format will include a more extensive strategy breakdown focused on comparing the top options at each position to each other in lieu of the in-depth positional rankings. 

Please feel free to contact me (email or twitter) with any questions or if you are just looking for some extra advice for this week’s drafts. Constructive feedback on the article format and content is always appreciated.

Theme of the Week: Identifying the Shootouts We’ve reached the point of the season where certain teams are just playing out the string while others are gearing up for deep playoff runs. We have to be wary of certain games becoming uncompetitive early and the better team taking their foot off the gas. In particular, New Orleans at home against the New York Jets and Minnesota at home against the Cincinnati Bengals are teams that could jump out to big early leads against teams that looked like they quit on the season in Week 14. All things being equal, we will want to avoid the pass-game options in these games (Drew Brees, Michael Thomas, Adam Thielen, etc.). 

On the other hand, a number of excellent offenses are matched up against each other in games with huge playoff implications. The Los Angeles Chargers and Kansas City Chiefs face off with the winner in position to take the division. Green Bay and Carolina are in a must-win situation as they try to position themselves for one of the last wild card spots. Pittsburgh and New England face off in a game that should determine who will earn home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs. We will want to try to load up on players from these games as much as possible. Especially in 6-Team and 10-Team Drafts, the strategy of game stacking could be a profitable one. For example, the New England-Pittsburgh matchup has a game total well north of 50 points. If both quarterbacks get hot, we could have a situation where the top fantasy options on both teams have great games. If you draft Antonio Brown early, it makes sense to be aggressive in targeting players like Rob Gronkowski and Brandin Cooks in later rounds. 

Head-to-Head Draft Rankings and Strategy

1. Le'Veon Bell

2. Antonio Brown

3. Julio Jones

4. Alvin Kamara

5. Todd Gurley

6. Keenan Allen

7. Russell Wilson

8. Cam Newton

9. Leonard Fournette

10. Rob Gronkowski

As it was last week, the main debate at 1.01 is between the two Steelers stars. Leveon Bell gets the nod over Antonio Brown in Week 15. It should prove more difficult for the Patriots to scheme Bell out of the game than it will for New England to limit Antonio Brown with double coverage. Bell’s usage has been insane lately. He has 35 receptions over the past four games, which is third-most in the NFL. 

Julio Jones is the only other player with a legitimate case to go first overall in Week 15. There is real predictive value in looking at past player performance versus division rivals. We have an 11 game sample size for Julio Jones against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and his dominance has been incredible. He averages 123.5 receiving yards per game and has scored 10 touchdowns. 

Alvin Kamara and Todd Gurley are tough players to figure. Both are putting up big fantasy numbers despite a lack of touches. Gurley managed 135 yards and two touchdowns in Week 14 despite touching it just 16 times. It was the fourth time in six games that he touched it 18 or fewer times. Kamara has thrived all season on a part-time workload and get the nod as RB2 over Gurley due to the much more attractive matchup. New Orleans faces off against a reeling New York Jets team that was obliterated by the Broncos last week and is playing with backup quarterback Bryce Petty while Gurley has to travel to Seattle to face one of the league’s top run defenses. 

3-Team Draft Rankings and Strategy

1. Le'Veon Bell

2. Antonio Brown

3. Julio Jones

4. Alvin Kamara

5. Todd Gurley

6. Keenan Allen

7. Leonard Fournette

8. Rob Gronkowski

9. Russell Wilson

10. Melvin Gordon III

11. Cam Newton

12. Tom Brady

13. Mark Ingram II

14. DeAndre Hopkins

15. Travis Kelce

The quarterback position is fascinating this week and there are a number of candidates for the top spot. Russell Wilson has been the top fantasy quarterback this season but struggled against the Rams in a low-scoring Week 5 matchup. The Rams have generally held him in check in 11 career meetings. With Wilson putting up a top-5 fantasy performance on the road against Jacksonville last week, we give him the benefit of the doubt as to being essentially matchup proof when he is playing at such a high level. Unlike Cam Newton and Tom Brady, we can be relatively confident that all of his team’s touchdowns will come through Wilson. Newton will fly under the radar somewhat but he has a great matchup against a fading Green Bay defense. Newton hasn’t been putting up huge passing numbers but has scored 5+ fantasy points as a runner in 8 straight games and averaged 8.8 points per game just as a runner over that stretch. Brady is the safest option of the week and has dominated most of his previous matchups against the Steelers. It is worth noting that Brady’s numbers have been much more pedestrian in Pittsburgh than when playing in Foxboro and he obviously doesn’t have the rushing upside of Wilson or Newton. 

Rob Gronkowski could have a monster week and ranks as a top-4 option at the tight end/wide receiver position. He has averaged 6.0 receptions, 99.2 yards and 1.6 touchdowns per game in his career against the Steelers. Pittsburgh plays a lot of zone and has a weak spot down the seam that New England and Gronkowski have exploited mercilessly over the years. He is a prime target for the third round of 3-Team drafts. Tight end Travis Kelce is also in the conversation as one of the top pass catchers on the slate. While he doesn’t have the same touchdown expectation as Gronkowski, he is a safe bet to see 9+ targets in a must-win game for the Chiefs.

6-Team Draft Rankings and Strategy

1. Le'Veon Bell

2. Antonio Brown

3. Julio Jones

4. Alvin Kamara

5. Todd Gurley

6. Leonard Fournette

7. Melvin Gordon III

8. Keenan Allen

9. Rob Gronkowski

10. Michael Thomas

11. Mark Ingram II

12. Russell Wilson

13. DeAndre Hopkins

14. Travis Kelce

15. Davante Adams

16. Adam Thielen

17. Alex Collins

18. Kenyan Drake

19. LeSean McCoy

20. Devonta Freeman

21. Cam Newton

22. Tom Brady

23. Ben Roethlisberger

24. Aaron Rodgers

25. Jamaal Williams

26. Samaje Perine

27. Philip Rivers

28. Devin Funchess

29. Larry Fitzgerald

30. Josh Gordon

Nearly every week, the strategy in 6-Team Drafts revolves around making sure to lock up the top running backs before the quality of the options drop significantly. However, in Week 15 we don’t see the massive drop off we typically do. The running back position is surprisingly deep with newer names like Alex Collins, Kenyan Drake, Jamaal Williams and Samaje Perine each projecting for 20+ touches in solid matchups. It is an entirely viable strategy to do the Matt Waldman-style upside-down draft. If you are picking in the back half of the first round and can land Julio Jones and Keenan Allen, that is the optimal strategy. There isn’t enough separation between backs like Mark Ingram II and Kenyan Drake and RB12 to justify taking them ahead of the top pass catchers. 

Quarterback is also especially deep in 6-Team Drafts this week. The return of Aaron Rodgers provides a major boost to the NFL in general and the depth of the position for fantasy purposes. Rodgers’ return also increases the odds of a big fantasy game for Cam Newton due to the fact that a shootout is much more likely and the Panthers will likely have to be aggressive offensively if they hope to outscore Rodgers and the Packers. The same dynamic exists in the New England versus Pittsburgh game, another potential shootout. 

In 6-Team Drafts we always talk about traditional stacks and there are a number of enticing stacks this week (Cam Newton-Devin Funchess, Tom Brady-Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Rodgers-Davante Adams, Ben Roethlisberger-Antonio Brown, and Philip Rivers-Keenan Allen). A strategy we don’t talk about often is “game stacking.” While it’s not necessary to go too overboard with correlation plays, game stacking makes good sense this week. For example, if you draft Antonio Brown in the first round, you should bump Rob Gronkowski and Tom Brady up your queue slightly. Your bet is that the New England-Pittsburgh game turns into a high-scoring back-and-forth affair. If it does and you have 3-or-more players from this game, you are sitting pretty. The other viable game stacks are the Chargers-Chiefs game (Philip Rivers-Keenan Allen-Travis Kelce) and the Packers-Panthers game (some combination of Cam Newton, Aaron Rodgers, Devin Funchess and Davante Adams). 

10-Team Draft Rankings and Strategy

1. Le'Veon Bell

2. Antonio Brown

3. Julio Jones

4. Alvin Kamara

5. Todd Gurley

6. Leonard Fournette

7. Melvin Gordon III

8. Mark Ingram II

9. Keenan Allen

10. Rob Gronkowski

11. Michael Thomas

12. DeAndre Hopkins

13. Alex Collins

14. Kenyan Drake

15. Russell Wilson

16. Cam Newton

17. Tom Brady

18. Travis Kelce

19. Davante Adams

20. Ben Roethlisberger

21. Aaron Rodgers

22. LeSean McCoy

23. Devonta Freeman

24. Adam Thielen

25. Jamaal Williams

26. Samaje Perine

27. Carlos Hyde

28. Kareem Hunt

29. Jordan Howard

30. Philip Rivers

31. Devin Funchess

32. Larry Fitzgerald

33. A.J. Green

34. Josh Gordon

35. Alex Smith

36. Doug Baldwin

37. Brandin Cooks

38. Christian McCaffrey

39. Theo Riddick

40. Alfred Morris

41. Jerick McKinnon

42. Marquise Goodwin

43. Tyreek Hill

44. Dez Bryant

45. Marshawn Lynch

46. Drew Brees

47. Jarvis Landry

48. Jamison Crowder

49. Matt Ryan

50. Matthew Stafford

The key to 10-Team Drafts this week is going to be targeting the right guys in the mid-rounds. Week 15 is so deep, there are players with the real possibility of posting huge numbers in the mid-late rounds. Running back is especially deep. Given their performances last week and solid matchups, Kareem Hunt and Jordan Howard would be top picks most weeks. This week, you might be able to snag one of these guys in the third round. Similarly, Brandin Cooks and Doug Baldwin have proven capable of the type of monster weeks that can vault your team up the standings and are available late in drafts despite good matchups. 

The quarterback position is relatively deep. We certainly have a bevy of talented passers on good offenses. Sorting through them and deciding who to target primarily centers on figuring out which passers are most likely to have to throw a lot and which ones play for teams that are most likely to score through the air. For this reason, it is best to approach a passer like Drew Brees with extreme caution. Brees could torch this vulnerable Jets defense if he needed to. However, the Saints are 17-point favorites against the Bryce Petty-led Jets offense. With the Saints possessing the league’s best running game, the game script is highly unlikely to lead to a game in which Brees has to pass much.

While there is depth at the quarterback position, it makes sense to put a premium on drafting one of the top-6. Each of these passers is playing in a potential shootout and has the proven ability to put up huge fantasy points.

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