Week 15 was very hit and miss, but good overall.
Since 2010, there had not been a week in the NFL in which a quarterback failed to throw for at least three touchdowns in a week. There were a number of key injuries as well, adding to the abnormal amount of injuries this year. As you’ve probably noticed, there were a number of big performances from running backs. You likely googled a few at some point this week. Alas, our picks were good enough in two of the three lineups to cash. With an average score of 127, we broke the 120 marker, but DFS scoring was down overall this week. I actually won a 10-team DFS matchup on FanDuel as the top overall team, with only 126 points, while the second-place team had 106. I am not kidding.
Among some of the elite letdowns of the week: Brees (7), Newton (6), K. Allen (0), A. Jones (0) JuJu (6) J. Winston (5), Landry (5), Tyreke Hill (6), AP (8), Fournette (8), A. Cooper (6) S. Barkley (8) — and the list could continue all day. Also of note, the tight end position continued to disappoint and confuse the entire world. The top five on the week were Engram, Celek, Kelce, Burton, and Mahertz, with the best tight end score this week being Garrett Celek, who had 13 points despite only two catches. Indeed, the week was a rough one for fantasy football players everywhere.
While it was an epic week of letdown performances from elite players, we managed to navigate the minefield with only minimal losses. Phillip Rivers got us off to a great start on Thursday with a 21-point performance. Pat Mahomes had a decent 18, while Tom Brady (14) and Jared Goff (13) disappointed. Despite the stinker from Barkley (8), our running backs had great games. Dalvin Cook, who was priced at next to nothing, led all our running backs with 29 points. Joe Mixon (26) was a close second, while Jaylen Samuels (18) and Justin Jackson (16) put in great performances for their value.
Luckily, I had DeAndre Hopkins (34) leading two of my rosters this week, as he was easily the best of the receivers last week. Keenan Allen was knocked out of the game following a rough end-zone fall and finished with a goose egg. JuJu and Amari Cooper both finished with duds (6). Our honorable mention player, Robert Woods, finished with a decent game (13), so if you were low on cash and gave him a spin, it paid off. The tight ends were equally disappointing as a group, but they were awful across the league, so no loss there. Kelce (10) led our picks while Cook (7) also had a slow week. Ian Thomas was a huge whiff (3) and cost us the third matchup, as we missed cashing by less than a tenth of a point.
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A look ahead to Week 16
With Week 16 upon us, we are approaching the final stretch of the NFL season. I am focusing on less expensive running backs and targeting a few higher-priced receivers this week. Pay attention to the “Honorable Mention” player again this week. Since adding this option in Week 13, the honorable mention player has averaged 22 points per week.
Honorable Mention that didn’t quite make the cut this week to fill-in your roster: Marlon Mack ($7,000 on FanDuel). Mack is coming off a great game and now has the Giants defense this week. Though the Giants have been better lately, they just got smoked by the Titans’ Derrick Henry. Andrew Luck should help to keep the defense on their heels this week, so Mack is a promising investment.
Good luck in Week 16!
|Colin's Picks For Week 16|
|QB||Russell Wilson (DK-$6,100/FD-$8,300)||Andrew Luck (DK-$6,200/FD-$8,200)||Baker Mayfield (DK-$6,100/FD-$7,700)||Dak Prescott (DK-$5,700/FD-$7,300)|
|RB||Ezekiel Elliott (DK-$9,000/FD-$8,800)||Nick Chubb (DK-$7,300/FD-$7,900)||Joe Mixon (DK-$7,100/FD-$8,200)|
|WR||DeAndre Hopkins (DK-$8,600/FD-$8,900)||Tyreek Hill (DK-$7,900/FD-$8,000)||Amari Cooper (DK-$7,500/FD-$7,000)|
|TE||Travis Kelce (DK-$7,200/FD-$8,700)||Jared Cook (DK-$5,300/FD-$6,000)||Evan Engram (DK-$4,600/FD-$5,700)|
|Defense||Rams D (DK-$3,200/FD-$4,900)||Browns D (DK-$3,000/FD-$4,400)||Falcons D (DK-$2,300/FD-$3,400)|
|Flex||Jamal Williams (DK-$5,400/FD-$5,800)||Alshon Jeffrey (DK-$5,300/FD-$6,300)||Jarvis Landry (DK-$6,200/FD-$6,300) ||Chris Carson (DK-$5,800/FD-$6,400)|
Russell Wilson (DK-$6,100/FD-$8,300)
Of all the matchups this season for Russell Wilson, this one looks most promising. The Chiefs have the worst passing defense in the NFL so Wilson finally has an opponent with a truly bad passing defense. It’s a given the Seahawks will try to establish the run and continue running for the entirety of the game. Fortunately for those who roster Wilson this week, the Chiefs are notorious fast-starters. Wilson should be forced to chase points for at least a good portion of this game. Even if the Seahawks control the ground game, you can bet they won’t feel safe with any lead against this Chiefs offense.
I’m expecting the game will be very similar to the Rams game earlier in the season, where Wilson was forced to take the game into his own hands in the second half. Regardless of the game script and speculation on how it’ll play out, this Chiefs defense is bad. Start him with confidence.
Andrew Luck (DK-$6,200/FD-$8,200)
Andrew Luck was on his way to a very nice season before the Jags ruined it a few weeks back. Coming off a very empty performance in Dallas in which he wasn’t really required, the Colts face a defense much more vulnerable to the run than Dallas. The Giants shouldn’t pose much of a threat this week, though it’s entirely possible Saquan Barkley keeps it close by way of one or two big plays. Regardless, the Colts have the motivation and the matchup to excel in this one. I think Luck wakes up from his slumber this week and tosses three touchdowns. Oh, and Vegas has him going for 300 yards and three touchdowns as well.
Baker Mayfield (DK-$6,100/FD-$7,700)
Baker Mayfield hasn’t been on the top of his game lately, and one could argue he’s even regressed. That’s fair but shortsighted. The matchup this weekend is a good one in which Baker put up 26 fantasy points and four touchdowns, all on the road. The game was over by the half. Expect more of the same the second time around. I don’t think Mayfield explodes like he did the first time, but I expect a solid 20 points and a game that’s over by the fourth quarter. Vegas has Baker at 275 and three touchdowns.
Dak Prescott (DK-$5,700/FD-$7,300)
Dak is favored to throw three touchdowns this week. That’s really fascinating when we consider how bad he looked in Indy a week ago. Luckily, the Bucs have been terrible against opposing fantasy quarterbacks this season. Now, I know what you might be thinking. Yes, I know the Bucs have not allowed more than 17 points to a fantasy quarterback since Week 9. No, I don’t care too much about that. The fact is, the Bucs haven’t had a very challenging group of quarterbacks to face since then and the value here for Dak is amazing. Plus, how can we ignore the -120 odds for Dak to throw three touchdowns? Vegas knows more than we do. Follow the books. Prescott is only $5,700 this week on DraftKings. Good luck finding a better option at that price.
Ezekiel Elliott (DK-$9,000/FD-$8,800)
Zeke has a prop line this week of 100 yards rushing and is a -225 favorite to score a touchdown. All that aside, the Bucs have been a bad defense overall this season and should find all kinds of issues slowing down a balanced Cowboys attack. Following a brutal loss on the road, the Cowboys will be facing a far less imposing threat this week at home. If Dak can connect with his favorite target early in this game, Zeke should be in for plenty of good rushing lanes and a fair number of dump-off passes. Vegas loves Zeke this week, you should too.
Nick Chubb (DK-$7,300/FD-$7,900)
Nick Chubb has been relatively quiet since Week…I’m lying. He only had 100 yards last week but somehow failed to get a reception. Regardless, Chubb has seven touchdowns in his past six games, so he’s clearly the top priority weapon for the offense in Cleveland. The first time the two teams met, Chubb had 128 total yards and two touchdowns. Vegas set his rushing line at 95 yards this week and he’s currently a -200 favorite to score a touchdown on the ground. Chubb has a ripe matchup against the 29th best rush defense in football and should give you elite value at non-elite price.
Joe Mixon (DK-$7,100/FD-$8,200)
Joe had 87 yards on just 14 carries the last time the Browns played the Bengals. He made some ground in their ill-fated second-half comeback attempt, but the second-year running back totaled 19 points and had 66 yards receiving, on seven receptions. Mixon didn’t find the end zone that day, but he’s found it in four of the last five games, so there’s a good chance he gets a touchdown this week in round two. Vegas has Mixon at 90 yards rushing, 25 yards receiving, and -140 to score a touchdown.
DeAndre Hopkins (DK-$8,600/FD-$8,900)
Call me crazy, but I’m sticking with Hopkins this week at receiver, following his 34-point outburst last week. Sometimes, I get picks right and want to roll around in the results like a pig in a pen after a rainstorm. However, I am a professional and as such, realize the fantasy gods giveth and taketh away just as easily.
Why Hopkins this week? If Hopkins is healthy, play him against the Eagles and their secondary of guys you’ve never heard of. Philly is a bottom-three passing defense and should have an impossible time guarding a healthy Hopkins. If Hopkins isn’t healthy, look at Davante Adams against the Jets. It’s the same team Hopkins torched a week ago and Adams is the best receiver in fantasy this season, so his volume should be significant.
Tyreek Hill (DK-$7,900/FD-$8,000)
Tyreek Hill is coming off his second-worst game of the season. Though he certainly has the skill and speed to leave opposing defenses in the dust, Hill has been the focus of a few defenses of late. Hill is in that group of players you might consider matchup-proof. He doesn’t need that designation this week because the Seahawks are 20th against the pass and Mahomes has the highest line of any quarterback this week (350 yards passing).
It isn’t a question of whether Hill sees the chances this week, it’s a question of how he handles those chances. Hill dropped an easy touchdown from Mahomes last week and typically has two or three occurrences per game in which he’s at the crossroads of pulling off a massive play. I think Hill terrorizes the Seahawks this week.
Amari Cooper (DK-$7,500/FD-$7,000)
Cooper was one of our letdowns this past week. He went down with the ship in last week’s shutout but showed the game-breaking abilities in a few spots. Dak simply missed him. This week is about redemption and a glorious stacking opportunity for those rolling with Dak. The Bucs come into town as a somewhat-improved defense, but Amari Cooper has shown he can tear questionable secondaries to pieces (never thought I’d say that about him after Week 6). Vegas is high on Cooper this week as well (85 yards and even odds to score).
Travis Kelce (DK-$7,200/FD-$8,700)
Kelce had a poor week, by his high standards, against the Chargers last week. Despite the 10 points, he was third among tight ends last week. This week, he’ll get to travel to Seattle, who has been fairly strong (13th) against opposing tight ends this season. Kelce will have plenty of targets to share, as Pat Mahomes has a 350-yard prop line in this game. With uncertainty again in the backfield, Kelce is a safe play with a high ceiling. His 95-yard Vegas line speaks volumes.
Jared Cook (DK-$5,300/FD-$6,000)
I’m not a big Jared Cook fan. He seems to disappear just as easily as he has big games. I’m rolling the dice again this week because he’s the clear top target in that offense. The game is at home on Monday night, so there’s plenty of better options to look for in the meantime, but the ceiling of Cook is so high, he’s totally worth it at $6,000 this week.
Evan Engram (DK-$4,600/FD-$5,700)
Engram was the most impressive-looking tight end in the league last week, which wasn’t saying much. It’s hard to gauge how this will carry over into next week, but I’m certain Engram is one of the top offensive targets with OBJ out. Anytime talent meets opportunity, there’s a strong chance for success. For the price Engram is going for on FanDuel, he’s absolutely worth the low risk.
Rams D (DK-$3,200/FD-$4,900)
I whiffed on defenses last week. This week, I’m here to make amends. The Rams looked bad last week against a backup, yet somehow, defending Super Bowl MVP last week. I’m not really sure what to make of it because Nick Foles is an Enigma. The Rams pass rush was nowhere to be seen. The secondary was outplayed all night, minus one play. They looked tired. This week, they get the Cardinals, who looked even worse last week against the Falcons. The Cards feature a rookie quarterback and their best receiver is a Gen-X’er. This has all the ingredients for a tasty week.
Browns D (DK-$3,000/FD-$4,400)
The Browns defense hasn’t had the same juice it did early in the season. Regardless, the Bengals haven’t been very offensively potent, and are led by a young quarterback who has yet to really impress anyone at the professional level. We may see a few turnovers this week, hopefully.
Falcons D (DK-$2,300/FD-$3,400)
The Falcons really hadn’t looked great of late until last week. Dion Jones returned to the Falcons defense last week and had an immediate impact, as expected. This week, the Falcons will play the Panthers and the banged-up Cam Newton. Newton is still nursing an injured shoulder, as we all saw in Monday night’s game. There’s a chance Cam gets shut down, either by his medical staff, or by the Falcons. Regardless, with Cam injured, start the defense facing him.
Jamal Williams (DK-$5,400/FD-$5,800)
Williams is free of the handcuff. With Aaron Jones on the IR, Williams will face the Jets, who are 23rd against the rush. Vegas has Williams a little over 90 yards total this week, so he’s an ideal second running back or flex fill this week. The Jets will have tough assignments in the secondary, but Williams should get a very substantial workload this week and should easily be worth his $5,800 tag.
Alshon Jeffrey (DK-$5,300/FD-$6,300)
Alshon had us all fooled. While Carson Wentz was still playing, Jeffrey faded into the shadows for much of the second half of the season. As Zach Ertz became more involved, Jeffrey became less involved. Enter Nick Foles and the target priority has flipped back to Alshon. Over 160 yards of receiving against the Rams really sets up Jeffrey nicely for a potential high scoring game against the Texans. His $5,300 tag should help your flex out tremendously.
Jarvis Landry (DK-$6,200/FD-$6,300)
Jarvis Landry was climbing back onto the mantle as the heralded target king in Cleveland until last week’s game in Denver brought it all crashing down to earth. In a prime matchup against the Bengals, Landry will hope to turn in a much better performance than the last time the two met where Landry left with less than five points. It’s a prime matchup, at home. It’s also a great stacking possibility with Baker Mayfield and his lofty Vegas line.
Chris Carson (DK-$5,800/FD-$6,400)
Carson has been on fire as of late. This week, at home, he will get plenty of early work against one of the worst rushing defenses in football. Carson is going for $6,400 on FanDuel, but has an 85-yard Vegas prop line. Something has to give. I normally jump at the chance to start a player with such a favorable Vegas line, but the hesitation on this matchup lies with the curious pricing and how FanDuel expects this to turn into a game in which Seattle will be playing from behind.
It’s clear as day. Wilson is priced high this week and Carson priced low. Don’t let this fool you. Regardless of the first few drives in the game, Carson will be getting fed the ball repeatedly. Whether this translates to success or not is up to the effectiveness of the Seattle run schemes. Typically, these schemes can shred some of the better rushing defenses in football, but the Chiefs are not a good rushing defense. Carson is a much safer play than his price would have you believe.
Collin is a former Army Intelligence and Logistics officer who got a little too into Football analysis. Since leaving the Army, he’s practically the Jack Ryan of football analysts. But he spends most of his days with his wife and two daughters, so he is clearly a better father than Jack Ryan.
Follow Collin on Twitter @CollinHulbert