Daily Fantasy Football: Sannes' Situations to Monitor in Week 16
For one of the first times all year, the pickings for shootouts are slim in the NFL.
Week 16's schedule does feature some fun matchups. We get the New Orleans Saints against a beatable Minnesota Vikings defense, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers should be able to light up the scoreboard against the Detroit Lions, and there figure to be big plays galore between the Tennessee Titans and Green Bay Packers.
But none of those games are on the main slate.
The only game on the main daily fantasy football slate with a total higher than 50 is the one featuring the Kansas City Chiefs against the Atlanta Falcons. Clearly, that's one we'll want to stack with obvious options on both sides. Beyond that, though, you have to squint to see the upside.
So much of NFL DFS revolves around finding games that will be high-scoring and competitive for all four quarters. That's a bonus for every position, not just quarterback. So even after we load up on our Chiefs and Falcons, we're going to have to find other games where the yardage can flow on both sides. That's our task for today.
In addition to sorting through potential injury news that will play out throughout the week, we've got to try to pinpoint games we want to stack outside of the one in Kansas City. Without that, we'll be plugging in a bunch of one-off plays, and that's not the way to take down a tourney.
We'll start things off here by running through how we can load up on Chiefs and Falcons before checking out some salary-friendly running backs to help us increase exposure to that game. Then we'll delve deeper into other games and decide which ones can give us the juice we need for our DFS lineups.
Stacking Chiefs Versus Falcons
There's no need to overthink it; this is the premier game to stack on Sunday.
The total here is currently at 53.5, four points higher than any other mark. Although the Chiefs are 10.5-point favorites -- something we generally want to avoid with the value of back-and-forth games -- that matters less for them.
The fear in situations like that is that the offense will pack it in and be able to chill out in the fourth quarter. The Seattle Seahawks' game against the New York Jets a few weeks ago was a great example of this. Russell Wilson threw four touchdowns but still didn't get to 24 FanDuel points because he sat the entire fourth quarter. That's a tough beat when you correctly diagnose a matchup.
We have a sample on the Chiefs in scenarios where they're up big, though, and they're still absurd. When they've had a lead of double-digit points in the second half, they've still thrown 52% of the time, according to Sharp Football Stats. That's the fourth-highest mark in the league and second among teams that have run at least 50 such plays.
The Chiefs were in a similar situation to the Seahawks in Week 8. They were up, 21-9, on the Jets at halftime. Patrick Mahomes still had 22 pass attempts in the second half, and they ran the ball on just 14 of 40 plays. Given that the Falcons are likely to put up a better fight than the Jets did, we can feel great about the Chiefs despite the spread.
We're up to four games now for the Chiefs since Sammy Watkins returned from injury. Even with Watkins back, they've still been shoveling targets down the gullet of Hill and Kelce.
|Past 4 Games||Overall Targets||Deep Targets||RZ Targets|
Hill's salary is $9,400, and Kelce is at $8,800. But with no must-have featured backs on the slate, they're arguably the top two studs at any position on the slate. Mahomes is firmly the top quarterback at $9,400.
Hardman's shares are low, but as you can see, he gets long-ball looks. He tied a season high with nine targets last week, which is interesting at $5,500. The problem is that his role seems to fluctuate based on matchups and is almost wholly unpredictable, meaning his floor is a full-on donut.
Bell will likely be stepping in for Clyde Edwards-Helaire, who is dealing with hip and ankle injuries. Normally, we'd be slobbering over a potential value back tied to this offense. A couple of things at least put a dent in that appeal with Bell.
First, we've already seen Bell without Edwards-Helaire this year. When Edwards-Helaire was active but didn't play in Week 13, Bell played 51.6% of the snaps. He turned his 11 carries and 3 targets into 65 yards from scrimmage. Darrel Williams was still involved, and Bell outsnapped Williams by just nine snaps in Week 15. This is likely to be a split backfield against an Atlanta team that encourages you to throw against them.
It's also not as if Bell is a freeby. His salary is $6,400, and as we'll discuss in the next section, we've got other alternatives in that same range. Both Bell and Hardman are worth considering if the slate winds up lacking value, but it's hard to label either as a priority. This is a spot where you just go with the studs.
The same is true with the Falcons whether Julio Jones is able to go or not.
Because we don't know on Wednesday if Jones will go, let's outline what things would look like in both scenarios. Jones is effectively a cyborg, so let's deal with the situation in which he plays first.
That would be a boost for both offenses. It'd keep the Chiefs engaged longer, and it'd increase the efficiency of the Falcons. It's also not as if Jones playing would take Calvin Ridley off the map.
|With Both Healthy||Overall Targets||Deep Targets||RZ Targets|
Jones' salary has slid down to $7,500. If we get the green light on him, he's a discount from where he should be with this volume.
Ridley's market shares are lower when Jones is active, so we should prefer him with Jones out. But the team's efficiency goes up, and that benefits everybody. It doesn't quite wipe out the loss of volume for Ridley, but it does keep him in play even if Jones does return.
With that said, if Jones can't go, Ridley's going to be a target hog.
|With Jones Out/Limited||Overall Targets||Deep Targets||RZ Targets|
Ridley has topped 20 FanDuel points four times this year. Two of those were with Jones, and two were without him. He's in play no matter how things break, but he gets a floor bump if Jones sits.
The issue with Russell Gage and Hunter Henry is that neither gets high-leverage looks in either split. Gage has started to show more yardage upside of late, and it means we can consider him at $5,800, but his path to a difference-making game is still muddy. The same is true with Hurst, whose salary is acceptable $5,600. So, it's similar to Kansas City: you can consider the value plays, but the studs are where we should concentrate.
If we want to load up on Hill, Kelce, Ridley, and Jones, we need some mid-range options at running back. Luckily for us, that's where the slate's big standouts are.
Pollard finished with 12 carries and 9 targets. The nine targets are huge because a target is worth twice as much as a carry for a running back on a half-PPR site. If we double his target total, Pollard had 30 adjusted opportunities in that game, which is an elite number for a running back at $6,300. If Elliott sits again, Pollard is the top running back on the slate after considering salary.
With that said, there's a chance Elliott is back out there, so we should make contingency plans. We'll do so by checking out the workloads and game environments for potential outlets in this range.
The workload aspect will mainly be adjusted opportunities for each back in their most relevant sample. For the game environment portion, we want to seek out high-scoring, tight games. That was the formula for identifying backs who wound up in perfect FanDuel lineups in 2019, and it makes sense. Tight games lead to ever-valuable targets in the fourth quarter, and that can lead to blow-ups.
So, here's the scope for each of the relevant backs in the mid-range in their most relevant sample. Essentially, what have they done when they've had their current roles? Here, "RZ share" is the percentage of the team's red-zone carries or targets the back has gotten in that time.
|Running Back||Salary||Adj. Opp.||Yards||RZ Share||Spread||Imp. Total.|
Again, Pollard is the standout here. Number two might be Austin Ekeler.
Assuming that Christian McCaffrey sits, Ekeler leads the slate in adjusted opportunities per game in each back's most relevant sample. It has led to an average of 118.8 yards from scrimmage per game when he has played alongside Justin Herbert. He's also in a high-scoring, tight game, meaning Ekeler checks almost every box.
The obvious exception is the red-zone work. Ekeler's pretty likely to get vultured. But he does have 30.0% of the red-zone work since returning from injury, including five carries and two targets inside the 10. He might get vultured, but that doesn't mean he can't score. He has topped 18 FanDuel points twice in that span despite scoring no touchdowns, so for $7,000, the floor-ceiling combination with Ekeler is tasty.
If you don't want to deal with the Los Angeles Chargers' goal-line tomfoolery -- totally fair -- then David Montgomery is your guy. He leads all backs on the slate in red-zone share in his full games without Tarik Cohen, and he would be second in adjusted opportunities if McCaffrey were to sit while Elliott played. Put that in a matchup with the Jacksonville Jaguars, and it means we can keep bathing in exposure to Montgomery.
After Montgomery is Miles Sanders. In two games with Jalen Hurts, he's averaging 113.0 yards from scrimmage with 38.1% of the team's red-zone chances. He's in a tight, high-scoring game against a bad defense. The reason we should rank Montgomery higher is that his volume has been steadier over a larger sample, but there's plenty to like in Sanders' profile.
Because Sanders' sample is small, though, you could consider pivoting to Jonathan Taylor if Sanders' popularity were to get out of hand. Taylor's matchup with the Pittsburgh Steelers is rough, but they've been more beatable since Devin Bush's injury. He also leads the slate in yards from scrimmage per game, unless you count the one-game sample for Pollard.
The two lingering concerns for Taylor heading into Week 15 were his snap rate and red-zone usage. He alleviated both concerns there, playing a season-high 70.4% of the snaps and getting both of the team's rush attempts inside the 10. Yes, the matchup is rough, but the workload is good enough where you should at least get exposure to Taylor in tournaments, especially if the matchup forces him to go overlooked.
Carson -- like Taylor -- set a season-high in snap rate at 70.2% last week. The Seattle Seahawks can clinch the NFC West with a win, meaning they need to lean on their best players. At least in Week 15, they said that guy was Carson. He gets rush attempts and targets, giving him a path to upside. The threat of an expanded role for Rashaad Penny is what keeps Carson out of the targeted tier.
For Johnson, all the hope comes from Week 15. With Duke Johnson sitting, David turned 11 targets into 106 receiving yards. The Houston Texans should be able to move the ball against the Cincinnati Bengals. Johnson lacks upside in the games alongside Duke, but if David is the lone ranger once again, we can keep him in the same tier as Carson as a potential rotational tournament play.
The Eagles' New-Look Offense
After Chiefs-Falcons, the second-highest total on the slate is this one between the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys. It's also just a 2.5-point spread, so it checks the traditional boxes for stacking. It probably wouldn't have gotten there without Hurts.
In his two games as starter, Hurts is averaging 0.17 Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per drop back. NEP is the expected-points model we use at numberFire, and Passing NEP includes deductions for expected points lost on negative plays such as sacks, incompletions, and interceptions. The league average is 0.13, so Hurts isn't necessarily lighting things up there, but it's a big improvement over Carson Wentz's mark of -0.13 at the time of his benching. Both of those games were against top-half pass defenses, and this one isn't.
That's why we can have faith in the Eagles doing their part in this game. It's good enough to put Sanders in the aforementioned tier above. Hurts' passing efficiency -- plus his average of 14.5 rush attempts for 84.5 yards per game -- makes him a high-quality quarterback option at $8,200. The lack of a sample keeps him from being the top quarterback on the slate, but he's at least in the mix.
The issue with the Eagles is finding trustworthy pass-catchers. In Hurts' two starts, nobody has more than 70 receiving yards in a game, and only two players have topped 50. The volume has been fine for Dallas Goedert and Jalen Reagor, specifically, but they haven't converted on that volume. It's hard to have tons of faith in them, and the targets aren't necessarily concentrated.
As such, if you've got one Hurts lineup, your best bet is to either run him without a stack or pair him with Sanders. The floor is bad on the tight ends and receivers, and the ceiling seems muddy. You can take swipes at Goedert and Reagor in tournaments, but it's based more on game environment than what they've done this year.
The better pass-catching options likely reside on the other sideline. It seems as though Michael Gallup will be good to go despite a hip injury in Week 15. That allows us to look at the team's volume in five games since their bye, and Gallup has actually been getting plenty of looks.
|Week 11 On||Overall Targets||Deep Targets||RZ Targets|
If Gallup gets in a full practice by Friday, we can turn to him at $5,600 for low-salary exposure to this game.
The plus side of Lamb is the deep targets. With Gallup sidelined part of Sunday, Lamb racked up 85 receiving yards, his most since Dak Prescott's injury. Lamb has at least seven targets in three of five games since the bye, putting him on the map at $6,000 whether Gallup plays or not.
The same is true for Cooper. The volume has been muted in this time, but he has still found ways to be productive. He has double-digit FanDuel points in all but one of those games, including a 112-yard game at home against Washington. Cooper's the highest-upside option of this group, but he also carries the highest salary at $6,600.
If Gallup is fully healthy, we'd rank Gallup first, followed by Cooper and then Lamb. If there's no Gallup, then both Cooper and Lamb -- in that order -- have solid appeal even outside of game stacks. This all means that both Gallup and Elliott will be two of the bigger injuries to track during the week.
A Sneaky Shootout in New Jersey
One game with a total that's creeping up is the matchup between the Cleveland Browns and New York Jets. It opened at 44.5 but is all the way up to 47.5 at FanDuel Sportsbook. That movement is for good reason.
The appeal on the Browns' side is obvious. Baker Mayfield is taking a blowtorch to defenders right now, and matchups don't get much better than this one. But the Jets' side isn't bad, either.
Their win against the Los Angeles Rams was a surprise, especially the way they moved the ball on offense. It's less of a surprise, though, when you dig into the numbers they've put up when they've had all three of Denzel Mims, Breshad Perriman, and Jamison Crowder healthy.
That trio has been on the field together for five games this year. The Jets have scored at least 23 points in four of those five; they've done so in just one of their other nine games. Their points-per-game average goes from 21.8 with those three to 10.8 without.
They've even done that despite some rocky matchups. Of those five games with Mims, Perriman, and Crowder, three were against top-10 pass defenses. In the other two, the Jets scored 28 points both times. With Cleveland sitting 28th against the pass, we should expect the Jets to show some life on offense here.
That's huge for two reasons. First, it means the Browns won't be able to run the conservative, boring offense they used to squeeze the life out of the New York Giants in Week 15. Second, it means we can stack this game with players on both sides.
With the Jets, we should ignore the backfield despite the massive volume Frank Gore has gotten. It's all about the pass-catchers, and we know where the ball is going there.
|With All Healthy||Overall Targets||Deep Targets||RZ Targets|
Mims hasn't scored double-digit FanDuel points yet this year. But with that volume in a plus matchup, things could change in a hurry. He's the top option here at $5,300 and someone we can use outside of game stacks.
Perriman belongs ahead of Crowder due to the downfield looks. Perriman is also at least in the same tier as Mims because he has shown the ability to have a ceiling game this year. Between Mims and Perriman, we have two solid guys we can utilize on this Jets side.
We can get some value out of the Browns' pass-catchers, too. They've played five games with Austin Hooper since Odell Beckham's injury, and both Jarvis Landry and Rashard Higgins have gotten better volume than you'd expect at their respective salaries.
|With Hooper Since OBJ Injury||Overall Targets||Deep Targets||RZ Targets|
Landry has the floor with a path to a ceiling, as evidenced by his 143-yard day in Week 12. The deep targets haven't been there, but there's enough raw volume and red-zone looks to make him worthwhile at $6,500.
The yardage upside has been more consistent with Higgins. He has 65 or more yards in four of the five games in the sample above, and he has gotten to 95 yards twice this year. He and Mayfield have a long-established rapport, and it's translating into fantasy upside. Higgins is one of the better receivers in the $5,000 range for tournaments.
Hooper's volume has been bad, but so is his position. His salary is $5,100, which is forgiving enough to make him an option. It's not a play you'll feel good about, but very few tight ends check that box. You can utilize Hooper if you're desperate to save a few extra bucks.
Given the efficiency of the passing game -- and the potential viability of the Jets -- you can give thought to Mayfield as your quarterback, too. The concern with Mayfield previously was upside, but he has a pair of 30-point games this year with 28.96 in another. Mayfield won't grade out as well as Mahomes or Hurts, but he has one of the easier cases to make among those with a salary lower than $8,000.
The big-ticket item with the Browns is clearly Nick Chubb. There are both pros and cons to him as likely the highest-salaried running back on the slate.
The cons are that he's splitting work with Kareem Hunt and doesn't get much work in the passing game. The easiest paths to upside are multi-touchdown games or huge yardage days. It's harder to get those when you're not the only option your team has. It prevents Chubb from being a must-have option.
The primary pro is that Chubb is crazy good at football. This means he can come through on less volume. It has also led to a slight bump in that volume of late. Two of his three highest snap rates of the season have come the past four weeks, and his floor for receiving yards in that time (16) is almost as many yards as he had the entire year prior to that point (17).
If we had guys like Derrick Henry and Dalvin Cook on the slate, we'd have more room to nitpick the issues with Chubb's salary and role. Here, there aren't tons of legit options. That increases the allure in Chubb who does have a path to a huge output. We definitely shouldn't have him near the top of our exposure list, but Chubb's a player to whom we should have enough exposure to benefit in case he blows up.
Waiting for the Seahawks and Rams to Rebound
In theory, this should be a good buy-low spot for both the Seahawks and Rams. Unfortunately, it's a buy-low spot for a reason: both these teams suck right now. It makes what would otherwise be a fun game to stack a bit more nerve-wracking.
Through the Seahawks' first eight games this year, they scored 30 points seven times. In the six games since, they've done so just once. They've scored 20 or fewer points in half of those games, including a 23-16 loss to this same Rams team back in Week 10.
Even after last week's Jets debacle, the Rams still lead the league in schedule-adjusted pass defense, according to numberFire's metrics. You can talk yourself into chasing the ceiling with reduced salaries on Russell Wilson, DK Metcalf, and Tyler Lockett, but it's hard to find any data leading you to that conclusion.
The Rams are an easier sell. They're a volatile offense that sometimes just has bad games. They're a few weeks removed from dropping 38 points on the Arizona Cardinals, and they looked great against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers two weeks before that. They hit the lows often, but they can still hit the highs.
This Seahawks' defense also isn't one that should scare us. They've played better of late, but three of their past four games have come against quarterbacks who have been benched at some point this year. The other was against Sam Darnold when he didn't have Mims. After you account for that schedule, they're still just 24th against the pass.
The Rams have changed up their offense of late, running more two-tight-end sets since their bye. It has at times squeezed Cooper Kupp's snap rate downward and opened up massive target shares for Woods.
|Past 6 Games||Overall Targets||Deep Targets||RZ Targets|
Woods also gets volume as a rusher, and as he showed last week, that can sometimes provide a meaningful bump to his fantasy scoring. He's just $7,300 in an important game with a soft matchup. Woods needs to be in our player pool.
Kupp would also work if you think this game shoots out. He's just a bit tougher of a sell than Woods due to the snap-rate shakiness and his seemingly lower ceiling.
The other route for exposure to this game is via Darrell Henderson, though like Le'Veon Bell, he's far from perfect. There have been seven games this year in which Cam Akers has played less than 20% of the snaps. In those games, Henderson has averaged 18.0 adjusted opportunities and 75.0 yards from scrimmage per game. That's not ideal.
At that usage, you'd need Henderson to score twice to hit 20 FanDuel points. That, though, is at least in his range of outcomes. He has a 38.7% red-zone share in that sample, meaning he can definitely find paydirt. It's just tough to rely on your back scoring twice.
Malcolm Brown is still likely to mix in, potentially sapping passing-game volume from Henderson. That's enough to keep him from being a priority despite his $5,600 salary. He is at least an option, though, given the high-quality game environment and the Rams' proficiency with running the football.
Monitoring the Chargers' Health
Last week, the Chargers were a mess. All three of Ekeler, Keenan Allen, and Mike Williams were reported to be on some sort of snap count entering the game. Ekeler played enough to alleviate concerns, but both Allen and WIlliams actually were limited.
Even with the extended time off, it doesn't seem like Allen is back to full health.
Not practicing today for #Chargers: TE Hunter Henry, WR Keenan Allen, DE Joey Bosa, DE Uchenna Nwosu, CB Chris Harris, LB Kyzir White
RB Troymaine Pope was re-signed to the practice squad and was out there today.
— Daniel Popper (@danielrpopper) December 22, 2020
We saw Herbert play well with Allen super limited last week, so this isn't a situation where we'd have to abandon ship if Allen were to sit. But it would obviously change the way the offense operates.
In the game Allen left early due to injury back in Week 5, Williams went nuts. He had eight targets -- three of which were deep -- and converted it into 109 yards and 2 touchdowns. Williams was able to practice Tuesday, so his health seems to be on a better path. Given how barren the $5,000 range is at wide receiver, Williams would be among the top targets on the slate if Allen were to miss this game.
Jalen Guyton would also be in play in that scenario. With Allen and Williams banged up in Week 15, Guyton led with 80.3% of the snaps. Tyron Johnson played just 59.1%, meaning he's the guy who'd likely get squeezed if Williams has his full role back. Guyton also led the two with six targets, two of which were downfield with one in the red zone. He'd grade out below Williams but would be an option.
If we get Allen healthy for this game, that might be a situation where we could turn to Herbert in DFS. It's a projected tight, high-scoring game, and Hurts is likely to suck up all the popularity in this range at quarterback. The Broncos' defense is missing a ton of pieces, so the Chargers should put up some points. We should favor Hurts straight up because his game has playoff implications, but Herbert's fully on the map, and he's not the most outlandish option even if Allen sits.
In the lineups where you roll with one of the Chargers' players, you can consider running it back with a Broncos pass-catcher. Their implied total is actually pretty high at 22.75, and none of the salaries here are prohibitive. You just have to pick the right guy.
We've got a six-game sample this year in which all of the Broncos' top pass-catchers and Drew Lock have been healthy. The targets have been a bit spread out, which is a concern.
|With All Healthy||Overall Targets||Deep Targets||RZ Targets|
That's enough to keep all these guys out of cash-game consideration.
For tournaments, though, the deep volume to Jeudy is pretty enticing. In general, Lock has been hyper-aggressive with his deep shots, often to his detriment. That has been less true recently as they've tried to reel in his wildness. It has led to a big downtick for Jeudy, who hasn't hit 50 yards since November 15th.
At the same time, we know he'll get deep volume, and we've seen him convert on it already this year. That's enough to make Jeudy a worthwhile target at $5,200, as long as you don't go overboard. Noah Fant would be the other guy to consider here, though his $6,200 salary is tougher to swallow given the inefficiencies of the offense.
Marquise Brown's Revival
Just when I thought I was out, he pulls me back in.
I had sworn off Marquise Brown earlier this year. He complained about his role, and immediately after that, the role that bothered him eroded even more. It was a less-than-ideal combo for a passing offense that wasn't showing much juice.
Now, though, Brown's got at least 12 FanDuel points in four straight games, and the target shares have risen again. It might be time to finally give him some thought again.
Our most relevant sample here is the past two games with Mark Andrews and Willie Snead back in the mix. Snead was the guy stealing looks from Brown in the middle part of the season. That hasn't happened the past two weeks, though. We'll go with the raw average target totals here to account for how rush-heavy the Baltimore Ravens are.
|Past 2 Games||Overall Targets||Deep Targets||RZ Targets|
Are those great numbers? Obviously not. But Brown has shown he can convert on them with him and Lamar Jackson seemingly back on the same page.
This does not mean you have to actively target Brown across the board. His role isn't good enough for that. But it does mean that when you're building lineups with Jackson at quarterback -- a good idea on this slate -- you can start to filter Brown in there again. Andrews has also been impressive in this time and fills a wretched position. You'd rather find the salary to get to Kelce, but if you're rolling with Jackson, Andrews is fully on the table.
Slayton -- like Brown -- had a mid-year lull, though his was due to injury. Slayton has seemed healthier of late and has led the team with 30.9% of the targets the past two weeks. That includes three deep targets in both of those games.
Jones and Slayton have been efficient on those long balls this year, and Slayton's salary is just $5,000. We'll probably want to avoid him even at that number if Jones can't go, but Slayton is a salary-saver who gets volume, which is hard to find on this slate.
An Uptick for Benny Snell
In that one, Snell played a season-high 78.5% of the snaps and got 26 adjusted opportunities. Snell was getting some red-zone work even when Conner was healthy, so we know he'd have that, as well.
After the game, head coach Mike Tomlin complimented Snell's play, saying Snell could take over lead duties even if Conner were active. Things would likely be spread too thin for DFS if Conner were available, so that scenario wouldn't be all that enticing yet.
However, it can give us more confidence in using Snell if Conner sits again. DeForest Buckner missed Week 15 due to an injury, and the Colts' defense has taken a step back when he has been sidelined. If we get a scenario where both Buckner and Conner are out, we can have a relatively healthy amount of confidence in plugging Snell into our lineups.