Week 15 daily fantasy advice: Previewing the week in DFS
Week 14 was a whirlwind. It essentially boiled down to: You either had Le’Veon Bell, or you didn’t. He had roughly 25 percent ownership in the larger DFS tournaments, so I’m going to go ahead and guess that three-in-four of you are shaking your heads in despair.
But it’s time to look ahead to Week 15. As sad as is that we only have three weeks of regular-season DFS left on the calendar, Week 15 looks like it will be a fun one.
The Thursday-Monday DFS slate is one I’m going to play this week mostly to fade the bookend primetime games (Thursday and Monday night). The Thursday game features The Los Angeles Rams and Seattle Seahawks in a game that seems destined to be a 13-10 snoozer. There’s also a strange Saturday night game this week between the Miami Dolphins and New York Jets — I’ll pass on that one, given Ryan Tannehill’s injury. The Monday night game will see the Carolina Panthers travel to Washington to take on the Redskins. I’ll make a few lineups featuring the Redskins passing attack, but I’m mostly focused on Sunday’s games this week.
Below are my early-week musings in DFS for Week 15.
(Note: I’m providing only DraftKings and FanDuel salaries as I live in Florida, where Yahoo does not operate.)
I don’t think I’m going to tempt fate with Andrew Luck in Week 15. The Indianapolis Colts are traveling to Minnesota to take on the Vikings, who have been stingy against the pass all year long. The Vikings have given up an average of just 222 passing yards per game to opposing quarterbacks this year, and have ceded an average of just 1.2 passing scores against. And while Luck has been good in terms of fantasy, he has not been great. He has not passed 300 passing yards in five straight contests, and I don’t see him reaching that milestone — which is a big deal on DraftKings — against the Vikings this week.
People really need to stop sleeping on Aaron Rodgers. He’s a costly $8,500 on FanDuel and $7,100 on DraftKings, and he opens the week with the “Q-tag” thanks to a calf injury. All that should make him low-owned again, but assuming he goes, I’m interested in buying in on him. He’s actually averaging more passing yards per game on the road (282) than at home (262) this year, so the fact he’s traveling in Week 15 doesn’t concern me. He also lit up this Bears defense to the tune of 326 yards and three scores earlier in the year.
Colin Kaepernick was on fantasy fire for six straight weeks, but he has put together back-to-back duds over the past two. Nobody is going to be on him in Week 15. However, “naked Kap” seems like a viable tournament play this week, as the 49ers travel to Atlanta to take on the Falcons. Atlanta has periodically been one of the best matchups for fantasy quarterbacks all season long. They have given up three three-touchdown games and three four-touchdown games on the year. However, Atlanta has also given up one or fewer scores to opposing quarterbacks in six games, which is why I’m considering Kaepernick a tournament-only play this week.
Another cheap rushing quarterback I’m interested in this week is Tyrod Taylor, who costs just $7,600 on FanDuel and $5,700 on DraftKings. There was chatter that Taylor would be benched in favor of EJ Manuel, but that’s not going to happen. Even still, that talk will give people pause over Taylor despite his juicy matchup against the Cleveland Browns. Taylor has scored at least 15 DraftKings points in 10 of his past 12 games, giving him a realistic floor of nearly 3x his salary. The Browns, meanwhile, have given up at least two passing scores in all but two games this year.
Tyrod Taylor isn’t the only Buffalo Bills player I like this week. I’m also all in on LeSean McCoy against the sorry Browns defense. Cleveland has been brutalized by running backs all season long, having most recently been demoralized by a 25-111-1 stat line dished out Jeremy Hill in Week 14. McCoy supposedly had his goal line duties revoked, but he was still in on plays within the 10 yard line in Week 14 — and he even scored his touchdown on a goal line touch — so I’m really not concerned about that coach-speak. Only three running backs have more rushing touchdowns than McCoy this year.
Ezekiel Elliott is a player I have a feeling I’m going to be thinking about all week long. He costs $8,200 on DraftKings and $8,500 on FanDuel. He’s more difficult to figure out on DraftKings, where he’s kind of in this weird price zone all by himself — $700 below McCoy, but $1,300 more expensive than DeMarco Murray. Elliott is also facing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who have been getting a lot more national attention recently (deservedly so) — much of which is dedicated to their strong defense. They stifled the Saints rushing attack in Week 14, but have given up over 100 yards to backfields in just over half of their games played (seven of 13). My early estimate is that Elliott will do better than most people expect, but his pricing makes him such a unique player this week.
San Diego’s lead man for the foreseeable future, Kenneth Farrow, is an intriguing cheap play this week — although both sites did make him cost enough that you at least have to think about it. But the Chargers didn’t hesitate to give Farrow the rock in Week 14, as he carried the ball 16 times and saw another six touches through the air. He’s only $6,000 on FanDuel and $4,400 on DraftKings. Farrow is also in a good spot against the Oakland Raiders, who have been a bottom-five team against fantasy running backs all season long.
At $6,300 on FanDuel and only $5,000 on DraftKings, LeGarrette Blount needs to be considered in his Week 15 matchup against the Denver Broncos. The Broncos have been well below average against running backs on the year as a whole, and New England’s ideal game plan figures to consist of a balanced approach to keep Denver’s pass rush honest — something they failed to accomplish in their previous matchup in last year’s AFC Championship game. Nobody likes to play offensive players against the Broncos, which will make Blount a low-owned option who is secretly in a good spot.
We talk about home-road splits most often when dealing with quarterbacks, but Odell Beckham Jr. has some glaring splits of his own. He is averaging 5.5 receptions, 66 yards and 0.5 touchdowns per game on the road this year, compared to 6.6 receptions, 102 yards and 0.86 touchdowns per game at home. He does get a home game in Week 15. However, Beckham’s ownership should be lower than it otherwise would be because of an admittedly difficult matchup against the Detroit Lions. He’s more difficult to roster on FanDuel, where he’s the most expensive wideout, than he is on DraftKings, where he’s only the fourth-priciest receiver. I am definitely going to own Beckham this week, especially on DraftKings, even though the matchup against Detroit’s secondary is tough. One could make the argument that no player in the league is more likely to score a 60-plus yard touchdown than Beckham — particularly when he’s at home.
Mike Evans has been dormant for two weeks in a row, but this beast can only be tranquilized for so long. Evans has caught just seven passes for 80 yards and no score over his past two games combined. That would be a disappointing stat line for him in a single game. I like him to return to his 100-plus yard ways in Week 15 against the Dallas Cowboys, where he will see a lot of Brandon Carr. Carr has actually been a slightly above-average corner overall this year, but he has ceded 706 yards to opposing wideouts — fourth-most in the NFL and most among all Dallas corners by nearly 200 yards.
Tyreek Hill is almost a must-start DFS tournament play at this point. He’s still incredibly cheap, and since Week 8, only four receivers have more PPR points than Hill: Jordy Nelson, Antonio Brown, Odell Beckham Jr. and Mike Evans. Hill literally could not be keeping more elite company. He leads all receivers — by a lot — in fantasy points per snap, with 0.49, and in fantasy points per opportunity, with a record-pace 0.75. To put that in perspective, no qualifying wideout in the PFF era (since the 2006 season) has scored more fantasy points per opportunity during an entire season than Hill’s 0.75. Andre Johnson was second-closest, with 0.73 PPO in 2007. (Randy Moss was second that year with 0.65 PPO.) Hill gets the Tennessee Titans in Week 15, a bottom-three defense against fantasy receivers.
Taylor Gabriel is another player that can almost be considered a free square. He’s only $5,800 on FanDuel and $5,600 on DraftKings. There’s not much to like about Gabriel, other than the fact he has seen at least five targets in five straight games while scoring six times in his past six games. Oh, and he’s playing against the bottom-feeding San Francisco 49ers. It has taken me far too long to get on board with this play, but I’ve finally arrived at the station.
Travis Kelce is the tight end play of the week. He’s a pricey $6,900 on FanDuel and $5,900 on DraftKings, but he provides the best floor and a desirable ceiling. His Week 15 opponent, the Tennessee Titans, have been so-so against tight ends on the year as a whole, but they have given up some huge games to the position, including ceding lines of 7-102-1 to Houston’s tight ends, 11-129-1 to Indianapolis’ tight tends, 12-92-1 to Jacksonville’s tight ends and 5-75-1 to San Diego’s tight ends. Kelce has gone for over 100 yards in four straight games and has seen no fewer than eight targets per game in that span. He frustratingly hasn’t scored since late October, but he’s certainly due for some positive regression in that area.
Ladarius Green was the hot tight end name in Week 14, but he disappointed with two touchdown-less receptions for just 25 yards. He did, however, see a healthy six targets. Ben Roethlisberger was just off his game, and the Steelers really didn’t need to do anything other than hand the ball off to Le’Veon Bell anyway. Green’s poor showing as the chalk will leave a sour taste in people’s mouths, but he’s worth looking at again in Week 15 against the Cincinnati Bengals defense, which has been a bottom-five team against fantasy tight ends this season.
I mentioned early in the article that I want to mostly fade the primetime games this week, but that I’d want some of Washington’s passing attack on Monday night. Of Washington’s primary options, I’m most enamored by Jordan Reed this week — assuming he’s healthy, of course. The Carolina Panthers have been downright miserable against tight ends all year long and are currently on a four-game streak in which they’ve given up a touchdown to the position. I’m even interested in Vernon Davis, too — especially if Reed remains in decoy mode.