FanDuel Daily Fantasy Football Early-Slate Helper: Week 16

The Week 16 NFL DFS early-slate on FanDuel has seven games, all kicking off at 1 p.m. EST. Five games have a total above 46, so this should be a high-scoring slate with plenty of lineup diversity.

The numberFire NFL DFS Matchup Heat Map will be referenced for all implied totals and spreads throughout this article, so be sure to check it out.

Let’s look at the best plays at every price point on the slate.

High-Priced Studs

Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants ($8,800)

It looks like Saquon Barkley is back. Sure, he was in a dream spot against the Miami Dolphins last week, but he absolutely crushed it, totaling 28.3 fantasy points while finding the end zone twice. Barkley also saw a whopping 28 touches, a single-game high for him on the season, while also averaging 0.22 Rushing Net Expected Points (NEP) per carry with a 58.33% Rushing Success Rate. Those two figures were the highest he's posted since suffering a high-ankle sprain in Week 3.

Barkley has been gifted another premium matchup in Week 16, this time against Washington. They rank 24th against the run when adjusted for schedule, so we can expect another big performance from the stud sophomore running back.

He does carry some risk, as Daniel Jones is slated to start coming off of his own ankle injury. Oddsmakers are not too confident in him, as the Giants are 2.5-point underdogs and have the second-lowest implied team total at 19.5. Still, Barkley's work on the ground and in the passing game is elite, and he seems to be fully healthy. With Christian McCaffrey getting a new quarterback in Will Grier, Saquon is arguably the safest back on the slate.

Joe Mixon, RB, Cincinnati Bengals ($7,800)

Since Week 10, Joe Mixon has averaged 23.8 touches and 124.2 total yards per game. He has also dipped below 15 FanDuel points just once in that span despite playing some truly elite defenses in the Baltimore Ravens, Pittsburgh Steelers, New York Jets, and New England Patriots.

What's most impressive about Mixon is his ability to create on his own. The Cincinnati Bengals rank 26th in adjusted line yards, per Football Outsiders, meaning they give him nearly nothing to work with. But Mixon is evading a tackle on 32.7 percent of his touches, which is the third-highest rate among running backs, per PlayerProfiler. His ability to make defenders miss is the reason why he can still produce in some of the toughest matchups.

Now Mixon gets the Dolphins, who just revived Saquon's floundering season. Our models have Mixon pegged for 23 total touches and a touch more than 100 yards, which is relatively modest considering what he's been doing in recent weeks. Fire up Mixon as one of the best bell-cow running backs on the slate.

Alvin Kamara, RB, New Orleans Saints ($7,200)

Speaking of value, Alvin Kamara is priced as the 10th-most expensive running back on this slate. While he hasn't lived up to his name brand -- possibly due to injury -- Kamara is still one of the most dynamic players in the league and operates in a New Orleans Saints offense that can explode in any spot.

New Orleans is also favored against the Tennessee Titans, and this game has the highest total on the slate at 50.5. Kamara has received double-digit touches in every game this season, including a solid pass-catching floor with 73 receptions over 12 games. Our projections have him as the best point-per-dollar running back on the slate.

Michael Thomas, WR, New Orleans Saints ($9,000)

If you're looking for the safest play on this slate, look no further than Michael Thomas. Not only does he lead the league in receptions by 34, but he's also on a record-setting pace and has a chance at shattering Marvin Harrison's single-season receptions record of 143.

Thomas could very well get there this week against the Titans. As previously stated, this game has the highest total on the slate. Plus, Tennessee ranks fourth in Adjusted Defensive Rushing NEP per play, meaning this game will likely be won through the air for New Orleans. The Titans are also short-handed in the secondary with no Malcolm Butler and Adoree' Jackson likely missing this game, as well, meaning Thomas will likely be covered by LeShaun Sims and Logan Ryan.

When you tell your grandkids about the day Michael Thomas broke the receptions record, make sure you include that you also won a lot of money playing him in DFS that day.

Mid-Priced Upside Plays

Kareem Hunt, RB, Cleveland Browns ($6,100)

With at least 10 touches and 50 total yards in all but one game this season, Kareem Hunt is actually a high-floor running back despite sharing time with Nick Chubb. And while Chubb has clearly operated ahead of him, that may change this week.

The Cleveland Browns are 10-point home underdogs to the Ravens, who are still battling for the top seed in the AFC. The Browns are likely to be playing from behind, in which case Chubb wouldn't be crashed into the line 20-plus times. That game flow should put Hunt on the field as he's seen 36 targets in his six games this season.

The Ravens rank fourth in schedule-adjusted pass defense while sitting 26th against the run, meaning they funnel production to opposing running backs. Look for Baker Mayfield to check down to Hunt throughout the second half of this contest.

Terry McLaurin, WR, Washington ($6,500)

Terry McLaurin and Dwayne Haskins must have watched some of their old Ohio State highlights two weeks ago because they're finally on the same page. Over their last two games, they've connected on nine balls for 187 yards and two scores.

They could be adding to their highlight videos again this week as they take on the New York Giants at home. New York's secondary has been brutal as they rank 28th in Adjusted Defensive Passing NEP per play. They also cut bait with their most talented cornerback, Janoris Jenkins, meaning Deandre Baker is the main man in coverage. The first-round cornerback has looked lost, allowing the 15th-most yards and the 7th-most yards per reception among all cornerbacks this season.

McLaurin and DFS players should be licking their chops at this matchup. Our models have McLaurin as the sixth-best point-per-dollar play among receivers.

Austin Hooper, TE, Atlanta Falcons ($6,000)

Austin Hooper's production has taken a bit of a dip since returning from injury, but that should change this week. At the very least, he's seen six targets in back-to-back games, with four coming in the red zone.

His target share should theoretically be even higher with Calvin Ridley on IR. Ridley missed last week against the San Francisco 49ers, and Julio Jones saw 20 targets. That is obviously unsustainable, so more looks should be funneled to Hooper in the future.

The Falcons are set up nicely in this game as they are 7.5-point favorites against the Jacksonville Jaguars. They also have the second-highest implied team total at 26.75, and the Jags currently rank 27th in schedule-adjusted total defense. Hooper was the top fantasy tight end in the league up until his injury in Week 10. Look for him to bounce back to his lofty numbers.

Bargain Bin Prospects

Marquise Brown, WR, Baltimore Ravens ($5,700)

The highest implied team total on the slate goes to the Ravens, who are 10.0-point favorites on the road against the Browns. While Mark Ingram ($7,600) is likely the safest play among non-quarterbacks on Baltimore, Marquise Brown has solid tournament upside. His snaps and routes have risen in consecutive weeks, and he has been efficient all year on a per-snap basis.

Mark Andrews is still the top target in this offense, but the Browns have limited opposing tight ends all season, allowing the eighth-fewest receptions to the position. Lamar Jackson could need to look elsewhere, and we know what Brown can do with his speed. He's a risky play, but his cheap price makes it easy to stack him with Jackson in tournament lineups.

Jonathan Taylor Smith is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice Jonathan Taylor Smith also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username Jtsmittyyy. 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.