NFL

DraftKings Daily Fantasy Football Helper: Week 15

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The purpose of this article is not only to help you understand some of the more popular plays on the slate, but also to highlight some overlooked ones that pop in our projection models and might go otherwise overlooked on Sunday. There's usually even more clarity provided to the context of the slate on Saturday night and Sunday morning. But, overall, many of the main decision points become clear by Thursday afternoon and Friday evening, giving you ample time Saturday to build your lineups with useful information.

If you were nicknaming every week up to this point based on its overall theme, this week would be "Injury Week". A slew of players were either put on Injured Reserve earlier this week or will miss it with one of a variety of ailments. The critical element to the slate will be how to best decipher the value created by these injuries, and then to maximize the savings created by finding the highest ceiling among the high-priced players. Let's dig in.

Quarterbacks

Deshaun Watson ($6,800): If you look at the last two weeks, you could make the argument that Watson is game script proof. Week 13 versus the New England Patriots: got up big, scored 29 DraftKings Points. Week 14 versus the Broncos: got down big, scored 30 DraftKings Points. There aren't a ton of quarterbacks with rushing upside this week, but Watson has shown a solid rushing floor -- averaging about five rushes per game this season. The combination of an efficient Tennessee Titans offense getting up big early and fielding a depleted secondary has allowed opposing quarterbacks to put up decent numbers in the past four weeks when attempting to come from behind. These two teams are tied on top of the AFC South, and the winner will hold a huge advantage over the other coming down the stretch. Watson will be a popular play this week, and rightfully so.

Ryan Tannehill ($6,500): On the other side of the matchup (and $300 cheaper!), we have a quarterback (not named Lamar Jackson) who has been the toast of the league the past few weeks (Tannethrill is my favorite nickname I've heard). With top-five efficiency metrics in many notable stats, Tannehill gets to face off at home against a Houston Texans defense that has gotten absolutely obliterated by opposing quarterbacks the past four weeks/the entire season. The Texans defense has the seventh-worst Pass Defense, per our Rankings, and are allowing the third-most points to opposing quarterbacks (about 4.4 DraftKings points over NFL average). This game total is up to 50.5 per FanDuel Sportsbook, so points should be easy to come by. This whole game will likely carry a lot of ownership, and Tannehill will be chalky like Watson due to his recent performances, but it's good chalk here.

Baker Mayfield ($6,400): DraftKings raised Baker's price after his excellent performance against Miami in Week 12, but they've refused to lower it after his last two clunkers in Weeks 13 and 14. That stinks, but the spot doesn't. The Arizona Cardinals are giving up the most DraftKings points to opposing quarterbacks this season -- averaging 25.3 points per game allowed to the position, which is 6.9 points above the NFL average. The Browns are currently implied for 26 points per FanDuel Sportsbook, and the total on the game as a whole is at a respectable 49 -- which means the oddsmakers aren't expecting a whole lot of defense from either of these teams. The Browns offense got a little bit healthier last week getting back David Njoku, and we know how well tight ends do against the Cardinals via the #FlowChart. And the Cleveland offensive line is a respectable ninth in Football Outsiders adjusted sack rate, which should give Mayfield plenty of time to throw to his weapons and get you to green.

Running Backs

Chris Carson ($7,500): And the award for the Smash Spot of the Week goes to.... Chris Carson! Seriously, it's a dream. Not only did the Seattle Seahawks lose Rashaad Penny to a torn ACL last week, which significantly elevates Carsons' volume, but the matchup is the nuts. The Carolina Panthers are dead last in rush defense, according to our metrics, and dead last in rush DVOA, according to Football Outsiders. They're allowing an astronomical 30.3 total DraftKings points to opposing running backs per contest (5.9 points over NFL average), and I think it's pretty safe to say with the Penny injury that Carson figures to get 85-90% of the workload in this game. As far as targets go -- since we pay close attention to that for DraftKings plays --, he was already getting 11% of the team's total targets. Give him Penny's 4% share on the season for a total 15% share, and now we're really in business. Let's just lock this in and move on.

Todd Gurley ($6,000): This play is a little bit riskier in terms of matchup, as the Dallas Cowboys aren't allowing much production to opposing running backs over the past four weeks. But in all fairness, they haven't exactly been facing elite talent against the likes of Bo Scarbrough, Patriots running backs, Devin Singletary, and David Montgomery. But Gurley, who despite early season efforts should still be considered an elite talent in the league, has gotten phenomenal usage three of the past four weeks. Excluding Week 12, when the Rams got truck-sticked by Baltimore (who hasn't?), Gurley's touch count has been 28, 20, and 27. This game has a high total (49) and figures to be very competitive, as both teams are still in (slight) contention for playoff spots. I like Gurley this week, as he's priced in no-man's land and may go overlooked by those who are either scrolling all the way up or all the way down.

Raheem Mostert ($5,200): If you buy into the "coachspeak" coming out of San Francisco this week, you've got to be excited for what's to come the next few weeks for Mostert, especially considering his past two performances in difficult matchups against the Ravens and Saints. While it appears to be a crowded backfield in San Francisco, Mostert has dominated the snaps in the past two weeks at running back (73.7% in Week 13 and 59.7% in Week 14). It's a much nicer match up too this week for Mostert, who faces a Falcons defense that's allowing 18.2 DraftKings points per game to opposing running backs this season (2.6 points above NFL average). He's a big favorite (check) at home (check) on a team that's implied for four touchdowns (check), and the lead back in a Kyle Shannahan offense (check check).

Wide Receivers

Chris Godwin ($7,700): If we're into giving out awards this week, Godwin gets the "Most Obvious Play of the Week" award. He's a massive beneficiary of the Mike Evans pulled hamstring that sent him to injured reserve. Godwin's 22% target share on the season is most certainly going to be elevated, as he becomes Winston's favorite target and goes against a Detroit Lions pass defense that is bottom-10 in our rankings. He's projected for the third-most points among wide receivers in our projection system and has a solid chance at hitting his ceiling, considering that both of these teams allow a massive amount of offensive plays against opposing teams -- Detroit at 63.3 plays against and Tampa at 64.8.

Jarvis Landry ($6,700): As strange as it sounds, Jarvis Landry is the number one wide receiver in this Browns offense over Odell Beckham Jr. It's not something anybody predicted coming into the season, but it has manifested itself in the form of a 26% target share for Jarvis, which edges out Odell's 25% share on the season. Over the last four weeks, Landry has averaged 9.5 targets compared to Beckham's 7.3 targets per game. And over the course of the season, the Arizona Cardinals have not only been decimated by WR1s (18.5 points per game, 2,9 points above NFL average), but they've also given up a ton of production to slot receivers (14.7 points per game, 5.5 points above NFL average). Landry is both of these, playing 68% of his snaps this season out of the slot. He makes a great stack with Mayfield in GPPs and cash games, as his volume coupled with the matchup elevate his floor significantly this week.

Darius Slayton ($4,700): Over the past month, the Giants breakout wide receiver this year has a 29.6% target share. The only two receivers with more: Jarvis Landry (31.9%, see above) and Michael Thomas (31.3%). Slayton carries this excellent volume into one of the, if not the softest matchup of the year against a Miami secondary that is #bad. They're giving up 21.5 DraftKings points to WR1s (5.9 points over NFL average) and allow the third-most explosive pass plays in the league, per Sharp Football Stats. Slayton showed off his explosiveness on the island game on Monday, lighting up the also atrocious Eagles secondary for 5 receptions, 154 yards, and 2 touchdowns. With an equally bad secondary, the Giants could be pushed by Ryan Fitzpatrick's YOLO passing attack and be forced to keep up in a game where they're already implied for a decent 25 points. At $4,700, he's a great value and salary saver that has an accessible ceiling for cash games and GPPs.

Tight Ends

Ian Thomas ($3,100): Last week's smash play of the week at tight end didn't come up much in salary this week, and considering the role he played in the Panthers' offense in Week 14, he is massively underpriced. Last week, with no Greg Olsen, Thomas played 86% of the snaps and saw 10 targets, good for an elite target share of 24% in the game. Olsen is again questionable for Sunday as he works through the concussion protocol. If he sits, Thomas becomes an elite option (at a punt price) against a Seattle defense that is rivaling Arizona in production allowed to the tight end, with the second-most DraftKings points allowed to the position on the season.

Zach Ertz ($6,000): If you found value at other positions and want to go up in salary at the tight end position this week, you'll have a hard time scrolling past Ertz. Over the past four weeks, Ertz is handling a massive 11 targets per game (23% target share) and has averaged 20.3 DraftKings points per game. Philadelphia's wide receiver corps is absolutely decimated due to injury, and by all indications, the Eagles will continue to run their 12 package set (two tight ends) at a high level to offset their lack of talent out wide. And the Washington Redskins have struggled mightily against tight ends the past four weeks, allowing the third-most points to opposing tight ends at 18.8 DraftKings points per game. Philly is implied for three touchdowns here as a favorite. It's hard to envision Ertz not getting one if not two of those this weekend.

Defenses

San Francisco D/ST ($3,800): The Niners defense has had a rough go of it the past couple weeks having to face off against two of the leagues most prolific offenses in Baltimore and New Orleans (on the road to boot). Their matchup in Week 15 will prove to be much easier as they'll get to come back to the comforts of Levi's Stadium and face a Falcons offense that has been up and down this second half of the season, and just lost one of their most effective receivers in Calvin Ridley. What sets up well the most here for San Francisco is the mismatch in the trenches, where their number one defensive line in adjusted sack rate *per Football Outsiders) gets to line up across from the Falcons' 16th-ranked offensive line. The Niners D has averaged 14.7 DraftKings points per game over their last three home games as well. I smell a defensive touchdown comin'.

Washington D/ST ($2,600): There's not much to say here except that, well, they probably won't kill your lineup. In fact, they've actually been pretty decent the past three weeks, averaging 13 DraftKings points per game against the Lions (meh), Panthers, and Packers. They've got nearly six sacks per game in that span and have limited opponents to 21 points or less, so there is minimal risk of a negative-points game here. And the Eagles offense hasn't exactly been lighting the world on fire. They're struggling to find their identity in the running game, rotating the likes of Boston Scott through the backfield with rookie Miles Sanders. And we've already touched on how decimated the receiving corps is. The game total is under 40 for this game, and if that holds, the Redskins defense shouldn't have any problem getting you at least 6-8 points and saving you some much-needed salary.


Justin Manuel is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice Justin Manuel also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username JMIZZLE08. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his/her personal views, he/she may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his/her personal account. The views expressed in his/her articles are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.