FanDuel Daily Fantasy Football Helper: Christmas Day Slate
We have some NFL action on Christmas Day, and it gives us a fun and different way to play NFL DFS on FanDuel via a smaller slate.
The Sunday begins at 1 p.m. EST with a matchup between the Green Bay Packers and Miami Dolphins (-3.5) in Miami. The Los Angeles Rams host the Denver Broncos (-2.5) at 4:30 p.m. EST, and the slate wraps up with an NFC clash in the desert between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-7.5) and Arizona Cardinals at 8:20 p.m. EST.
As always, we recommend checking out all of numberFire's daily fantasy tools at your disposal. Our weekly projections can help you nail down who might be the slate's top scorers and best values -- you'll need to change the slate to Sunday only on the slate tab -- while the heat map is a great way to get a general overview of the slate's implied totals and every team's strengths and weaknesses.
Let's dive into each position and see which players stand out as good options.
In terms of salary and 2022 play, Tua Tagovailoa ($8,400) is in his own tier on this slate.
His salary is $900 more than any other quarterback's, and we project him for 19.5 FanDuel points, a position-best clip by 2.2 points. The Packers-Dolphins game is going to be a theme throughout this piece. Its 48.5-point total is a slate-leading number by 7.0 points, and the 3.5-point spread makes it an enticing fantasy environment.
With two of the NFL's best big-play wideouts at his disposal, Tua has access to slate-winning upside every time out. With that said, he has a high-water mark of 18.06 FanDuel points over his last four games, and he'll likely be popular. Plus, the Packers' defense is a decent 13th against the pass, according to our schedule-adjusted metrics. In short, there are reasons to look elsewhere if you want, but the highest-upside stacks involve Tua.
A year ago, we would've jumped at the chance to roster Aaron Rodgers ($7,300) and Tom Brady ($7,500) at these salaries in these matchups. Things are a lot different this campaign, but on a three-game slate, they are fully in play.
Rodgers is opposite Tua in the slate's premier DFS environment. Miami has permitted 21.8 FanDuel points per game to signal-callers, the second-most. Rodgers has been awful in fantasy of late, scoring between 11.50 and 13.68 FanDuel points in three straight. He's passed for more than 255 yards just once this season and has yet to top 20.0 FanDuel points. But our algorithm has Rodgers generating 17.3 FanDuel points, second at the position.
Factoring in salary, Brady is my favorite quarterback play on the slate. The volume should be there as he's attempted at least 43 passes in four straight. Tampa Bay paces the league in pass rate (67.4%). The matchup is there, too, as Arizona has given up the eighth-most FanDuel points per game to quarterbacks (19.2). If it looks like Brady will be chalky, that'll lessen my interest, but I like the idea of pairing him with his top two wideouts.
Among the rest of the options at the position, the one I can most stomach is Trace McSorley ($6,400). The salary savings are nice, and McSorley might have the most rushing juice among the quarterbacks. He could scramble quite a bit if the underdog Cards get into a hole. McSorley's projection of 12.6 FanDuel points is ugly, but if he out-performs that by a tad and none of the other quarterbacks go off -- which is a distinct possibility -- McSorley could make it into the optimal.
James Conner ($7,500) leads our projections at running back. He's been getting huge workloads. Over the past three games, he's logged snap rates of 91%, 95% and 97% while amassing 21, 22 and 28 total opportunities (carries plus targets). He's the safest bet for workhorse volume on a slate riddled with committees, and while the Bucs are a stiff matchup, Conner's projection of 15.2 FanDuel points is a position-best number by 2.1 FanDuel points.
Latavius Murray ($7,200) ate last week, and our model likes him for Sunday, projecting the veteran for 13.1 FanDuel points, the second-most at the position. In Week 15, Murray torched the Cardinals for 130 rushing yards and a score on 24 attempts, tacking on a 12-yard catch on his lone target. His snap rate was only 64%, so he's definitely a tier below Conner, but Murray mostly checks out. The Rams have been around the league average versus the run.
The three main running backs in the Miami-Green Bay game -- Raheem Mostert ($7,400), Aaron Jones ($7,800) and A.J. Dillon ($7,000) -- are all worth a look. I'm leaving Jeff Wilson ($6,000) out of this, but it does look like he has a good chance to return.
Jones and Dillon both had good outings last week, totaling 18.6 and 20.6 FanDuel points, respectively. I almost always side with Jones, though, and that's no different here. Dillon needed two tuddies to get those 20.6 FanDuel points, and he finished with just 14 total opportunities on a 37% snap rate in a positive game script. Jones handled 22 opportunities and played 56% of the snaps. We project Jones for 12.2 FanDuel points and Dillon for 8.6.
Mostert is coming off an excellent showing in Week 15, a game where he carried the rock 17 times for 136 yards and added one grab for 20 receiving yards. Green Bay is fourth-worst in run D, per our metrics, so Mostert can feast if he's once again the clear-cut lead back. However, with Wilson trending toward playing (as of Thursday), Mostert is far from a lock to see big-time volume, although last week's big game likely earned him the upper hand in any timeshare.
Leonard Fournette ($7,100) and Rachaad White ($6,700) are in an advantageous spot versus the Cards. a defense that's given up the eighth-most FanDuel points per game to running backs (22.7). Unfortunately, I have no idea which back to zero in on. Coming into last week, it looked like White had the edge, then Fournette out-snapped him 43 to 29. Both are plenty viable given the matchup and expected game script. I lean slightly toward Lenny.
Cam Akers ($6,300) had been surging after it looked like Kyren Williams ($5,500) may take over for the Rams. Akers has 15, 13 and 18 total opportunities over the past three and has played at least 72% of the snaps in two of those three. He's punched in three touchdowns in that span, too, serving as the clear number-one option near the goal-line. That's a solid role at a value salary, but there's a chance the Rams' offense struggles mightily against Denver's elite D.
One wideout on this slate is in his own stratosphere -- Tyreek Hill ($9,200). Our model projects him for 19.5 FanDuel points. The next-highest receiver is at a projection of 12.2 FanDuel points.
Hill has slate-breaking upside on full slates, so that's especially true on a three-gamer. He's been targeted 37 times over the last three games and has put up at least 17.4 FanDuel points in all three. Despite Green Bay being a run-funnel D, Hill is actually tied with Tua for the slate's top projection among all players. The only negative is his lofty salary.
Jaylen Waddle ($7,800) is the slate's number-two receiver, per our model, and it's a lot easier to get to his salary. He just hasn't been close to as involved as Hill of late, garnering only 16 total looks over the past three weeks -- 21 fewer than Tyreek. We have him scoring 12.2 FanDuel points.
I'm into both Chris Godwin ($8,000) and Mike Evans ($7,200). Our model projects them nearly dead even -- 10.1 for Godwin and 9.8 for Evans -- so once you factor in the $800 salary gap, Evans is very appealing. Evans has seen nine targets apiece the past two weeks and had his best game in a while in Week 15, making five receptions for 85 yards. It's been a down year for him, but with the Bucs in a friendly matchup, Evans is capable of a spike week.
DeAndre Hopkins ($8,400) is a tough sell at this salary, particularly with a third-string quarterback tossing him the ball. On the flip side, he's got 11 targets in each of the past two weeks, and Tampa Bay's defense has been beatable out wide. Hopkins is a great bring-back if you stack the Buccaneers.
Speaking of bring-back pieces, Christian Watson ($7,700), Romeo Doubs ($5,500) and Allen Lazard ($6,400) can be just that to your Miami stacks. I'm more interested in the rookies than Lazard, who has just 11 total targets over his previous three games. Watson has big-play chops, and Doubs returned to five targets last week despite playing only 32% of the snaps. Doubs was a priority for Rodgers when he was out there, and he could get more run in his second game back. He's an excellent salary-saver.
It's hard to get too jazzed about any of the receivers in the Denver-LA game, but it's a three-game slate, so we have to at least touch on them.
For the Broncos, the likely return of Courtland Sutton ($6,500) dings Jerry Jeudy ($7,300). I'll mostly stay away unless it looks like Sutton and Jeudy will be completely overlooked. I'm guessing Jeudy will be at his salary, and he's in the midst of a nice stretch, although almost all of it has come sans Sutton.
On the Rams' side, Tutu Atwell ($5,400) jumps out as maybe the best point-per-dollar receiver in this game. The Rams have made an effort to get him involved of late, giving Atwell 18 looks over the last three. He had 7.0 and 8.1 FanDuel points in his two games prior to last week's 1.1-point dud. But he did see an end-zone target in Week 15. All in all, Atwell is a fine dart.
We have two tight ends -- Tyler Higbee ($5,400) and Greg Dulcich ($5,700) -- projected for more than 4.4 FanDuel points. Given their low salaries, Higbee and Dulcich will likely combine for a huge chunk of the draft percentage at the position. They're probably the best way to get exposure to the Rams-Broncos matchup.
I side with Higbee between the two. Dulcich has played between 75% and 68% of the snaps in three straight. Higbee has been in on at least 84% of the plays in his past three. We project Higbee for 8.0 FanDuel points and have Dulcich putting up 7.1.
Those two are far from locks, though, so if they're gonna be mega chalk, I'll look elsewhere.
Robert Tonyan ($5,200) is salaried near Higbee, which should cause him to go overlooked. Another thing that will keep the masses away is that Tonyan has barely done anything for most of the season, posting a single-game high of 3.5 FanDuel points over his past five games. He may faceplant again on Sunday, but the matchup is there as Miami has conceded the third-most FanDuel points per game to tight ends (13.0). Using Tonyan and Doubs as bring-backs can help offset the high salaries of Tua and Tyreek.
The Tampa Bay D/ST ($4,800) and Denver D/ST ($4,500) are at the top of the heap, per our projections. Both are in a similar spot -- on the road against backup quarterbacks. Of the two, I side with Denver. Mayfield just took five sacks and threw an interception a week ago. I'm all for picking on him in a date with an elite defense.
The Los Angeles Rams D/ST ($4,000) is a fine play, too. While the Rams' D hasn't been as good as we thought it would be, they've still been respectable, and Russell Wilson ($7,000) -- who is expected back -- has had a woeful year.
Among the remaining three, I'd prefer to save salary and punt with either the Arizona D/ST ($3,800) or the Green Bay D/ST ($3,500). Brady has seven turnovers over his last three outings. Tua has a pair of picks and has put the ball on the ground twice over his last three games.