5 NFL FanDuel Value Plays to Target in Week 16
Studs with sizable salaries are frequently an integral part of winning money in daily fantasy football at FanDuel. However, to fit them under the salary cap, it's imperative to locate underpriced players who over-deliver.
A good place to start when attempting to unearth undervalued players is our projections tool. The tool offers a value option for sorting, showcasing who offers the most bang for your buck. In addition to matchups impacting projections, injuries do as well. On that note, players replacing injured starters are often among the top values. So, staying abreast of injury news and inactives until the start of games is a must with that in mind.
With the tone set for this piece, let's move on. The following quintet of players is among my favorite cap-friendly options in Week 16.
Joe Burrow, QB, Cincinnati Bengals ($7,100)
Joe Burrow eviscerated the Baltimore Ravens in a 41-17 victory for the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 7. He carved them up for 416 passing yards, three touchdowns, and one interception. Unfortunately, Burrow has thrown for multiple touchdowns in only one of his previous six games, snapping an eight-game streak to open the 2021 campaign.
Nonetheless, this is an eruption spot for the second-year quarterback. Baltimore's leaky pass defense is the eighth-worst in our power rankings. Additionally, they're wholly incapable of preventing big passing plays. According to Sharp Football Stats, Baltimore cedes the second-highest average explosive pass rate (12 percent).
I expect Burrow to light up the Ravens again. Our model agrees, projecting Burrow as the QB8 in scoring on FanDuel's main slate with the third-highest value score -- a measure of points per $1,000 of salary.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB, Kansas City Chiefs ($6,500)
The Kansas City Chiefs are one of the latest teams hit with players landing on the reserve/COVID-19 list. The most notable names on the list from the offense are Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce, casting doubt on their availability this week against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Thankfully, this is a contest that's favorable for Kansas City's rushing attack.
According to our metrics, the Steelers have the second-worst rush defense. Opposing the Steelers' giving run defense is an above-average run-blocking offense. According to Football Outsiders, the Chiefs are 12th in adjusted line yards. In addition, Pro Football Focus grades the Chiefs as the third-best run-blocking team.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire is positioned to benefit from his offense's massive advantage in the running game. According to Pro Football Focus, since CEH returned from the injured reserve in Week 11, he has rushed the ball 45 times, compared to only 17 attempts for Darrel Williams and nine attempts for Derrick Gore. The second-year back is the top ball-carrier for the Chiefs.
However, there was an eye-catching development last week that enhances CEH's outlook this week. In Week 15, Williams ran only 15 routes versus 34 for Edwards-Helaire. The 34 routes CEH ran last week were six more than his previous season-high of 28, which was recorded in Week 1. If the role change sticks, CEH isn't at risk of being phased out in a negative game script. As a result, I love him in all game types this week.
Tee Higgins, WR, Cincinnati Bengals ($6,500)
Tee Higgins is one player who stands to benefit if my prognostication of Burrow shredding the Ravens a second time in 2021 comes to fruition. Unfortunately, the second-year receiver was largely missing-in-action last week, reeling in only two receptions on three targets for 23 yards. But, of course, he was on fire before that, producing a three-game streak of putting up more than 110 receiving yards. Higgins garnered 29 targets, resulting in 20 receptions, 366 receiving yards, and two touchdowns during his three-game heater.
Higgins has been an integral part of Cincy's frequently explosive offense. According to Sports Info Solutions, Higgins is 24th in target share (21.6 percent) and 22nd in intended air yards (1,171). Higgins is building on his rock-solid rookie season while setting new highs for receptions per game (4.9) and receiving yards per game (69.6), per Pro Football Reference.
Finally, the matchup is slightly favorable. According to Pro Football Reference, the Ravens allow the 13th-most FanDuel points per game to wideouts. Couple Higgins' usage and production with this matchup, and our projection model awards him the fifth-highest value score among receivers on FanDuel's main slate.
Kyle Pitts, TE, Atlanta Falcons ($5,900)
Kyle Pitts is popping in our projection model, carrying the highest value score at tight end. So, obviously, that's a superb starting point. The highest selected tight end in NFL Draft history hasn't blown the doors off the league, so suffice to say he's disappointed relative to his lofty expectations.
Regardless, he has two blow-up games on his resume and back-to-back solid showings entering Week 16. Pitts has corralled nine receptions on 13 targets for 138 scoreless yards in the Atlanta Falcons' last two games. Moreover, he has played well relative to other tight ends despite falling short of the expectations that accompanied him in his first professional season.
According to Pro Football Focus, out of 31 tight ends targeted at least 40 times this year, Pitts is sixth in yards per route run (1.92). The freakishly athletic tight end is also tied for seventh at the position in receptions (58), fifth in routes (442), fourth in receiving yards (847), and tied for third in targets (92). Thus, he's meshing efficiency with volume.
Finally, he has a good matchup on the docket. The Detroit Lions are the seventh-worst pass defense in our power rankings. I expect Pitts to eat this week, and I'm open to using him in two-tight-end roster builds.
Ronald Jones II, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers ($5,400)
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were devoured by the injury bug last week, losing Chris Godwin, Mike Evans, and Leonard Fournette. Godwin is out for the year, Evans didn't practice on Wednesday, and Fournette is expected to miss the rest of the regular season.
Buccaneers now are “likely” to place RB Leonard Fournette on injured reserve with the hamstring injury that left him on crutches Sunday night, per a league source. He then would miss rest of regular season.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) December 21, 2021
The offense needs players to step up, and Ronald Jones is positioned to lead the backfield, even with the signing of Le'Veon Bell for depth. Bell and second-year back Ke'Shawn Vaughn are threats to poach receiving work from the stone-handed Jones. However, he can return value at his low salary as the primary ball-carrier against the Carolina Panthers.
Jones was sharp in relief last week, rumbling for 63 yards on eight rush attempts against the stout run defense of the New Orleans Saints. He should find the sledding considerably easier this week versus Carolina's mid-pack rush defense. The fourth-year running back should be very fresh, handling only 71 carries this year.
He's been good when given chances, averaging 4.7 yards per rush attempt. Jones was also an effective runner on larger volume last year, averaging 69.9 rushing yards per game at 5.1 yards per attempt.
Jones should benefit from Tampa Bay's elite run blocking. The Bucs are first in adjusted line yards.
Finally, the gambling info is ideal for Jones. Our heat map lists the Bucs as 10.5-points favorites with the second-highest implied total (27.25) on FanDuel's main slate. Therefore I'm not concerned about Vaughn or Bell possibly siphoning work in passing situations. Jones is a must-use option in cash games and a stellar selection in GPPs, too. He has the highest value score among running backs in Week 16, per our model.
Joshua Shepardson is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Joshua Shepardson also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username bchad50. 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.