2014 Fantasy Football: Week 16 Saturday Football Preview

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Jeremy Maclin
Source: Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images North America

Saturday games only add to the intensity and lure of Fantasy Championship Week. Both games have serious playoff implications. The Eagles and Chargers are battling for a much coveted playoff spot. The Eagles are taking on their dysfunctional division rival, the Redskins while the Chargers are taking on the equally dysfunctional and twice as disappointing 49ers. It would not be much of a shock to see either playoff contender have their playoff hopes spoiled by their Week 16 opponent. There are also a ton of fantasy relevant players in this game. This Saturday will go a long way in determining your leagues fantasy championship.

Note: Being that this is championship week, we will only being covering people you may be considering playing in a championship game.

Philadelphia Eagles: Key Players
QB Mark Sanchez
For some reason Sanchez has a huge bandwagon and a cult of followers. Turns out he’s still not all that good. He is much more effective in Chip Kelly’s offense than he was in that thing the Jets do when they are given a football, but is that really saying much? He’s not a terrible start, but he is very hard to trust in a championship game. If you don’t believe me, ask Rex Ryan.
Verdict: Sit Sanchez. He’s a last resort kind of guy. [Read more...]

2014 Fantasy Football: Week 16 Gold Mine

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Source: Christian Petersen/Getty Images North America

The Championship is finally here. For about three months we have been talking about the ups and the downs but for some the ups have finally come to fruition.

However, it may be a bit gloomy as stars like DeMarco Murray, Keenan Allen, Brandon Marshall and Andre Ellington are going down or potentially going down.

As we have done so many times, check out these players who are owned in less than 40% of ESPN leagues. It’s okay if you don’t play in ESPN leagues as we are showing YAHOO and NFL percentages as well.

Alex Smith (KC): We have talked about Smith (23.6 | 41 | 73.9) a few times this year, and he has been surprisingly reliable. Personally, I have used him all year long as my QB1 in a two QB league, and he has gotten me to the championship round. Smith faces the 27th ranked passing defense this Sunday when the Chiefs travel to Pittsburgh to face the Steelers who have given up at least 24 points three weeks in a row. Smith has been pretty efficient with the ball this season turning it over only four times since his Week 1 debacle of three interceptions against Tennessee. And he has had at least two throwing touchdowns in three of his last four games with at least 290 yards passing in back-to-back games. The Chiefs are and pushing hard being only one game behind both the Steelers and the Ravens for a wild card spot. If Smith performs the way he has over the last two games, this could be the week that gets them closer to that goal. [Read more...]

2014 Fantasy Football Daily Fix: Week 16 Tight Ends

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It is on to week 16 of Daily Fantasy Football at DraftKings. I’m back again this week to offer my picks for the Tight End position at DraftKings.

Read on to see what we should do for Week 16. I’ve also added a quick look at the Thursday game options at the end of the column. Also, note that there is a Saturday doubleheader as well and there are options to play the Thursday through Saturday games only.

A note on the Thursday through Saturday game at DraftKings – you can pick the highest priced player at each position and still have money left over so I won’t spend too much time on them this week. It’s all about picking the best matchups – no need to mess around.

This is a great week to check out DraftKings and pick up a new way to play fantasy football.

DraftKings Tight End Recommendations

If you’ve never played on DraftKings before, you can get a deposit bonus by signing up. And there are different options to pick from at DraftKings for any skill level.

Also, a gentle reminder on the scoring for Tight Ends – this is a PPR site so remember that when selecting players. The full for scoring for Tight Ends is at the end of this column.

Tight Ends can also be used in the flex position at DraftKings. However, with the entire world of RBs and WRs at your disposal, it would be unlikely you’d have to head to the TEs to pick up a flex play. Jimmy Graham Rob Gronkowski is always in play as a flex option. Jimmy Graham has disappointed us too many times. He is no longer our #1 option.

Let’s take a look at a couple of options at each price point. For those who are new to the column, I’ll generally look at a couple of options in each pricing tier broken out based on the socioeconomic status of 1970s sitcom families. And I’ll always cover Jimmy Graham Rob Gronkowski.

I’ll mention Football Outsiders a lot over the season – the passes per game and yards per game stats I use are from Football Outsiders. Here is the link to Football Outsiders’ 2013 stats. FO stats for 2014 are here and I like to use the defense versus types of receivers to fill out my rosters.

Teams on bye: None [Read more...]

2014 Fantasy Football: Week 16 Thursday Night Football Preview

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Delanie Walker
Source: Patrick Smith/Getty Images North America

Thursday December 18, 2014
Tennessee Titans @ Jacksonville Jaguars

These Thursday night games are going from bad to worse. The Titans and Jags…I’m not sure you could possibly come up with a game that would get lower ratings. Two terrible and terribly unpopular teams with little to no talent to even entice people in their fantasy championships. This game will not include Denard Robinson, Allen Robinson, Zach Mettenberger, Jake Locker, Kendall Wright or Justin Hunter. Blake Bortles may also be forced to sit. We could have a showdown between Charlie Whitehurst and Chad Henne. Shonn Greene and Jordan Todman may lead the backfield. And the star WRs are Nate Washington and Allen Hurns. Prepare for a classic.

 

Tennessee Titans: Key Players
QB Charlie Whitehurst
Should you start Whitehurst? Peyton Manning’s been struggling and Whitehurst has a solid matchup. Maybe in your championship game you should roll the dice and take a cha… Of course you shouldn’t play Whitehurst! Not only is he terrible, he’s missing his top two weapons.
Verdict: Sit Whitehurst. Because it’s championship week and he’s Charlie Whitehurst. [Read more...]

2014 Fantasy Football Daily Fix: Week 16 Wide Receivers

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Welcome to Wide Receiver Wednesday at the Daily Fix! Each Wednesday of the NFL regular season @RyNoonan will provide you with several receiving options that are strong plays that week at DraftKings. Monday through Friday the Fix writers will provide you with a Daily Fix that covers each position, with a weekly roundup on Friday.

Not into the ‘Daily‘ thing yet? Let’s talk. It’s a ton of fun, you get to start new each week and pick your squad, and DraftKings has a great promo going right now where they’ll match your initial deposit up to $600. Do it. Oh, and you get a free year’s subscription to our premium content as well in the #FrontOffice.

The Wide Receiver position is loaded with options in this new, ever-prolific passing era of the NFL, so options abound. I’ll break it up into tiers, essentially, WR1’s, 2’s, 3’s and FLEX/deep options.

Your WR1 and WR2’s are no-brainer starts in your normal fantasy leagues. I’ll highlight them if they have an exceptional matchup or price. We’re likely going to find some inexpensive plays here week in a week out as well, due to the depth at the position. We’ll need to dig a little deeper as we’re entering bye weeks, but I hope to continue picking winners for you.

Scoring and other settings can be found here.

 For reference, you’ll continue to see me use both aFPA (Schedule-Adjusted Fantasy Points Allowed) from 4for4.com and DVOA (Defensive-Adjusted Value Over Average) from FootballOutsiders.com. These stats become more reliable each week as have real data points to reference instead of only a hybrid of data mixed with pre-season expectations.

WR1

 Antonio Brown – KC @ PIT ($8,800)

Death, taxes and 20+ DraftKings points for Antonio Brown. These things I know to be true. There’s almost nothing else to say here about Antonio Brown. He’s the best way to start any cash game lineup because he doesn’t need to catch a touchdown to return value. He’s matchup proof, having caught eight or more balls in seven straight games. Get some exposure this week to the best full point PPR receiver in the game.

Calvin Johnson – DET @ CHI ($8,700)

This is a great chance to capitalize on a discounted Calvin Johnson this week against a Bears team that’s just…they’re bad. Matthew ‘Meatsweats’ Stafford wasn’t sharp last week, but the Bears are a sight for sore eyes. Megatron exploited this Bears secondary on Thanksgiving Day, to the tune of 40.6 DK points. He costs $700 less than he did last week, and this is a game that the Lions need. Look for Calvin to go off against the Bears and their 29th-ranked coverage unit according to Pro Football Focus.

Other Options:  These are the top pass catchers in the league so they’re all worth consideration, but I don’t anticipate owning Dez Bryant ($8,600) this week. A combination of recency bias and Vontae Davis makes ‘X’ a stay-away for me. This is a great bounce back spot for Jordy Nelson ($7,700) and Aaron Rodgers. Coming off a tough loss, the Buccaneers offer little resistance defensively, especially in the back half. We’re still in a holding pattern on Julio Jones ($7,700), but if he’s a go he’s worth a look against the Saints.

WR2

Jeremy Maclin- PHI @ WAS ($6,500)

There’s nothing like a legit WR1 who’s facing the Redskins. This week, it’s Jeremy Maclin’s turn to run wild against the league’s worst coverage unit. Maclin is likely to see a lot of Bashaud Breeland, who was embarrassed by Odell Beckham Jr. on Sunday. As is typically the case, Jordan Matthews ($5,100) is intriguing as well, but Maclin is safer and presents just as much, if not more upside.

Vincent Jackson – GB @ TB ($5,600)

No, I didn’t misspell Mike Evans ($6,700). I like Evans in this spot as well, but I’ll be targeting Jackson at this price. The presumed game script sets up nicely for the Bucs passing game, and the Packers aren’t a team we should fear defensively. With Josh McCown back in the starting lineup, Jackson has been the target of 40.9% of McCown’s passes over the past two weeks. 40.9%! That’s more than Antonio Brown, Odell Beckham Jr. and Demaryius Thomas. Sure, that’s an itty bitty sample size, but this is a bet on positive touchdown regression.

Other Options: We can play off of recency bias again because I can’t imagine Josh Gordon ($6,400) will have very high ownership numbers this week after a certain rookie quarterback shat down his leg on Sunday. He faces the Panthers who’ve been burned regularly by WR1’s this season. I want to like DeAndre Hopkins ($6,300) at that price. Add to the fact that he gets the Ravens secondary and he’s extremely appealing, but who’s throwing him the ball? Is Andre Johnson back? Watch this situation as the week unfolds. The revenge narrative, if you’re into that sort of thing, is taking place in Washington again with DeSean Jackson ($5,500) and the Eagles. My interest is piqued here because of the likely matchup against Bradley Fletcher (96th of 110 in coverage at PFF) more so than the revenge factor.

WR3

Jarvis Landry– MIN @ MIA ($5,300)

Landry can play. I know, that’s neither a hot take nor sound analysis but it sums him up nicely. He’s not asked to stretch the field in the current state of Miami’s offense, but he’s doing what’s asked of him and doing it well. A possession receiver with the skills to turn a five yard catch into a  big play, Landry is an incredibly safe cash game play at this price. His teammate, Mike Wallace ($5,200) is a great value as well, but seems more fit for GPP’s.

Steve Smith Sr.– BAL @ HOU ($4,100)

Targeting top receivers when they’re facing Houston has been a sound strategy this season, and that’s the play here. The early season exploits of Smith are a distant memory by now, and that’s evident when you look at Smith’s price tag. He’s less expensive than Devin Hester this week. Don’t look now but Joe Flacco is playing good football. Early rankings at FantasyPros has Steve Smith just inside the top-30 this week, yet he’s priced as the 47th best wide receiver according to DraftKings.

FLEX/Lottery Ticket

Dwayne BoweKC @ PIT ($3,200)

This is another bet on positive touchdown regression. As it’s been widely noted, the Kansas City Chiefs wide receivers have yet to find the end zone via the air this year, something that’s truly hard to wrap my brain around. The Steelers can hang with anyone offensively, but their secondary is terrible. It’s more terrible than the Chiefs passing game and that’s a strong statement. The Steelers offense will force the Chiefs to open things up a bit to keep up, so look for the ominous streak to come to an end this weekend.

2014 Fantasy Football: Week 16 Rankings

Photo credit: Dr sanjeevkumar SinghER

Photo credit: Dr sanjeevkumar SinghER

Alan, Brett, and Ryan have once again joined forces to bring you TheFantasyFix.com’s weekly fantasy football rankings. If you have any questions or need lineup help, hit us up in the comments.


2014 Fantasy Football Rankings powered by FantasyPros

2014 Fantasy Football Daily Fix: Week 16 Running Backs

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The following values are my recommended running back plays for Week 15 at DraftKings – the best daily fantasy sports site on the Internet. Here are the scoring settings for running backs, and if you have any more questions about DraftKings or fantasy football in general ask us on Twitter@TheFantasyFix or @44AMiller.

Tennessee, Jacksonville, Philadelphia, Washington, San Diego and San Francisco play on Thursday and Saturday, respectively, and I didn’t see any contests that included players from those teams as well as players from the Sunday/Monday games. I’ll only be listing players from Sunday and Monday in this column.

Expensive

Eddie Lacy – $7,300 at Tampa Bay – Lacy has scored in double-digits in 10 of his last 11 games, and he’s scored or posted 115 total yards in every game since Week 7. Tampa Bay has allowed the ninth-most fantasy points per game to running backs in the last five weeks, which includes over 146 total yards per game allowed. Alfred Morris and Joique Bell have feasted against Tampa’s defense recently, so Lacy shouldn’t have a problem here – especially after putting up quality stats against a tough Buffalo team when the rest of the Packers couldn’t. [Read more...]

2014 Fantasy Football: Week 15 Monday Night Football Preview

Monday December 15, 2014
New Orleans Saints @ Chicago Bears

This week we will answer the question on everybody’s mind. Who is worse, the Bears or the Saints on the road? Right now with a disgruntled QB, injured WR and sobbing offensive coordinator, the Bears don’t look all that much better than anybody. Brandon Marshall’s season is over, and it looks like the Bears’ season is as well. It is unlikely any of the coaches will be back, and they’re limping to the finish line. If anybody can find a way to lose a winnable game on the road it’s the Saints. Drew Brees and the Saints’ offense is visibly declining. Unfortunately somebody from the horrific NFC South has to make the playoffs and it may be New Orleans. Regardless of how disappointing these two teams are, there may still be a ton of fantasy points scored against these horrendous defenses. Should be a climactic end to many playoff matchups.

 

New Orleans Saints: Key Players
QB Drew Brees
Brees has still been a great QB this season relative to the rest of the league but not compared to his own lofty standards. He has been up and down and really struggled at times, more than we’ve seen in the past. Nonetheless, the matchup is too great this week to worry about all that. He is a no doubt top five play this week, even after that flop at home against the Panthers last week.
Verdict: Start Brees. He is still a must start almost every week unless you have a great second option. [Read more...]

2014 Fantasy Football: Week 15 Defense Streaming Options

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Alterraun Verner and Jacquies Smith
Source: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images North America

As the playoffs have begun in what should be all leagues I’ll only be listing defense/special teams streaming options as opposed to defense and quarterback options. If you need any advice on quarterback options hit us up on Twitter @TheFantasyFix and @44AMiller or peruse any of the great articles here at the site.

New York Giants – (44% owned ESPN, 40% owned Yahoo!) – vs. Washington – In the last five weeks Washington has allowed the most fantasy points per game to opposing defenses – and it hasn’t been close. The Giants have had two of their three best performances of the season in their last two games, racking up seven and eight sacks, respectively, in those two games. Washington has surrendered six sacks a game in its last four games, and it’s scored less than 12 points per game in that stretch. [Read more...]

2014 Fantasy Football: Week 15 NFL DFS Deep Dive

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Odell Beckham Jr.
Source: Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images North America

With no college football DFS to write up this week, I’ve used my free time to write up the NFL instead. We’ll go position by position and examine the best plays of the week. We’ll discuss the best value plays and the players you should spend your money on. You should easily be able to fill out cash game lineups with the names and info discussed below, but with several big time Millionaire contests on DraftKings this week, the thought process will be a bit geared toward tournaments.

Below are 4,800+ words of reasoning and explanation. If that’s more than you can handle, I’ve also included a quick cheat sheet of plays at each position behind the pay wall at the bottom of the post.

Quarterbacks

Value Plays (Priced below $7,500)

Normally I disseminate my weekly NFL DFS picks via my podcast. If you’ve listened to the podcast before, you know I start my analysis by taking my own rankings/projections for the week and comparing them to salaries to get an idea about who provides the best value. I then look at the rankings and projected values of other sites/rankers who I think are among the most accurate rankers in the industry. I then compare the names on my list to the names on theirs to get an idea of who are the best plays at each position.

The quarterback that comes up across the board as a great value this week is Matt Ryan (vs. PIT, $6,600). Despite putting up 30+ fantasy points last week against Green Bay, Ryan’s salary is $400 lower this week because Ryan played on Monday night, and DK puts out salaries for the next week prior to Monday Night games. His good game against the Packers just isn’t baked into his price. That’s where the value everyone is seeing comes from.

Ryan has a chance to repeat his performance from last week because his matchup with Pittsburgh is much better than the matchup with Green Bay. 4for4.com has Green Bay ranked as the 13th easiest matchup for quarterbacks according to their schedule-adjusted fantasy points allowed statistic (aFPA), but Pittsburgh is the second easiest matchup for quarterbacks according to aFPA. Football Outsiders (FO) has Green Bay ranked 17th against the pass this year. Pittsburgh? 31st. ProFootballFocus.com (PFF) has Green Bay ranked 12th in pass coverage and Pittsburgh 25th. No matter who you ask, this is a prime matchup.

The game is also in Atlanta in the offense-friendly conditions of the Dome, and, as you’ll see in a bit, Pittsburgh should have no problem scoring points and forcing Atlanta into a shootout. Vegas agrees as this is one of four of Sunday’s 15 games with an over/under above 50. If Julio Jones were out on Sunday, I’d feel less confident in Ryan, but as of this writing it appears like it’s headed for a game-day decision.

If you’re looking for another value option other than Ryan without looking at the super cheap options, Philip Rivers (vs. DEN, $6,200) also shows up as a good value across the board, just not as good as Ryan. If you’re making multiple lineups, throw Rivers in a smaller number than you throw Ryan in. If you’re just making one, Ryan is your guy unless you want to spend at this position. But the case for Rivers as a play is that he’s been a top 12 quarterback this year, everyone has him ranked in the top 12 this week and yet he’s only the 17th most expensive quarterback.

The problem is that Denver’s pass defense is good. Both FO and PFF have Denver as the fifth best pass defense in the league. But according to aFPA they’re the fourth best matchup for quarterbacks. The disparity is an issue of volume. No team has had more passes attempted against it than the Broncos. Denver is sixth in average points scored per drive and has the ninth lowest average time per drive. They score a lot and score fast, and teams have to throw to try to keep up. That obviously works in Rivers’ favor. But I’d prefer to go with Ryan who will be in a shootout against a bad pass defense as opposed to a good one. Quality over quantity in this situation.

If you’re looking for a punt play at quarterback, Kyle Orton (vs. GB, $5,500) is probably your best bet. Derek Anderson for the minimum price against Tampa Bay also makes a little sense, but Orton grades out as a better value across the board. We discussed the matchup with Green Bay above and it’s an average to slightly above average matchup. Perhaps the thing I like best about Orton this week is the fact that Sammy Watkins grades out as a good value as well. Sammy certainly has the big play ability that you like in tournaments, and an Orton/Sammy stack would certainly be a big value if Sammy were to get deep for a couple.

I’m certainly not averse to using cheap quarterbacks. I rolled with Shaun Hill last week, which worked when paired with Jared Cook. But this doesn’t feel like the week to skimp on quarterback to me. If you’re not comfortable with Ryan, you should probably hitch your wagon to one of the…

Studs (Priced above $7,500)

See what I did there?

When picking expensive players, it’s all about upside. As an example, picking an expensive running back last week basically came down to Le’Veon Bell and Arian Foster who were the only backs priced above $9,000. In fact, they were the only backs priced above $8,000. Bell obviously went off for 50.5 fantasy points while Foster had a solid day but only ended up with 25.8 fantasy points. To be fair, you can never project a guy to put up 50, but there were plenty of reasons to expect Bell to outperform Foster.

For one, Bell got 29 of 30 touches for Pittsburgh running backs the week prior. With LeGarrette Blount out of town, it’s a one man show in Pittsburgh. By comparison, Foster got 24 of 36 carries for Houston backs the week prior. Moreover, Bell had the much better matchup with Cincinnati who ranks 32nd in aFPA and has the third worst run defense in the league per FO. Foster also had a great matchup against Tennessee, but Bell probably had one of the two best matchups a running back can have this year.

To pick the quarterback with the most upside this week, let’s start by throwing out Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson and Matthew Stafford who have matchups ranging from below average (Stafford) to really tough (Rodgers and Wilson). Obviously Rodgers is matchup proof to some extent, but it’s probably not smart to expect him to be able to put up numbers worthy of his price tag in a tough matchup with Buffalo. Let’s also throw out Peyton Manning. The rumors of an injury, the emergence of C.J. Anderson and the fact that there are simply other options with more factors in their favor mean he probably doesn’t have his usual upside.

As far as matchup goes, no one has it better than Drew Brees against Chicago this week. The Bears are 30th, 29th and 29th against QBs/passing according to aFPA, FO and PFF, respectively.  But Brees simply hasn’t been anywhere near elite this year. He’s averaging 7.4 yards per attempt, which is 12th in the league, and he averages 0.47 fantasy points per drop back per PFF, which is tied for 13th in the league. This is a situation where I’m going with talent over matchup.

That’s why Andrew Luck (vs. HOU, $9,300) is my stud play of the week. Lucks ranks 6th in yards per attempt and 3rd in fantasy points per drop back. That in and of itself is good as the only person who is ahead of him on both lists is Rodgers. But Luck makes up for his good-not-quite-elite per dropback/attempt numbers by dropping back and throwing more than anyone else by a substantial margin. Per PFF, Luck has dropped back an even 600 times this year, which is 30 more times than anyone else. It should be noted that Brees is second in drop backs. He’s just not efficient enough on a per throw basis. After Brees, the rest of the pack starts to bunch up around 550 drop backs. That advantage in volume coupled with close to elite efficiency numbers is why Luck is such a stud.

Luck’s matchup with Houston is an interesting one because the Texans are essentially tied with Baltimore for the most fantasy points allowed to wide receivers in PPR leagues, and Houston is 32nd in aFPA against receivers in standard and PPR leagues. Yet aFPA, FO and PFF all indicate that Houston is basically an average matchup for quarterbacks. It’s strange that they appear to be the best matchup for receivers yet only average for quarterbacks.

As for Luck’s price, he’s $400 cheaper than he was last week thanks to his previous matchup with Cleveland who has the best PFF pass coverage grade this year by a mile. The Browns have a coverage grade of 42.2, and the team with the next best grade is Seattle at 20.5. In case you suck at math, that means the gap between Cleveland and second is larger than the gap between second and average. Cleveland’s secondary is good. Houston’s coverage grades out mid-pack and slightly below average.

If you want to spend on quarterback but can’t work Luck’s price into you lineup, consider Ben Roethlisberger (at ATL, $7,900). Atlanta’s pass defense is no doubt horrendous as FO and PFF both have them ranked 30th against the pass. The problem is that they’re just as bad, if not worse, against the run. No team has allowed more fantasy points to running backs in PPR leagues than Atlanta. With the way Bell has been going and the workload he’s been getting, it’s not hard to see him being the one to put up big points this week for the Steelers.

 Running Backs