FanDuel NFL Week 16: In-Depth Player Pool With Expert Analysis
I can’t believe it’s already Week 16. This is really the last week that we have a full FanDuel player pool to consider. In Week 17, we will need to focus on players in meaningful games or otherwise have something to prove. Star players on playoff teams often rest or play limited snaps to enter the playoffs as healthy as possible. That’s why most season-long leagues have their championship in Week 16. Good luck to you if you are playing for a championship this weekend.
My apologies for no article from me last week. I had a unique opportunity to attend a filming of Let’s Make a Deal. This required two trips to Los Angeles, one for COVID testing and a second for filming. I’m under an NDA that prohibits me from disclosing exactly what I experienced and saw, but I can say that I had an absolute blast! Wayne Brady comes across as cool and funny in person as he does doing comedy. The episode is tentatively set to air on January 29th.
Being Friday was Christmas, I took the day off of writing. The result is this article was written a day earlier in the week. Keep in mind the player pool was created on Thursday. Always keep an eye on breaking news that creates opportunities for value plays and adjust accordingly.
Research, The Mikes
As regular readers of my column, you will not only see my research of stats but the analysis of some of the best experts in the industry (If you can’t beat them, join and credit them). Mike Tagliere of FantasyPros and Mike Woellert of 4for4 are quoted frequently.
Tagliere’s weekly column, The Primer, is the most compressive look at Fantasy Football. It’s typically about 20,000 words and had well thought out information on every fantasy-relevant (and not so relevant) player. Tagliere takes into account defensive injures, schemes, matchups, and historical numbers. I admire Tagliere’s work. This article is somewhat modeled after The Primer but reduced to only the players I’m using.
Woellert is an expert at WR vs CB matchups. He continually finds low owned undervalued players that have huge weeks. When spending up at WR, it’s great to know they are in advantageous situations. As the season progresses, patterns emerge, and it becomes clear which CBs should be exploited. Our goal will be to play WRs covered by CBs, who average near or above 2.0 fantasy points per target.
Week 16 FanDuel Player Pool
Patrick Mahomes (KC, $9,400) is the top projected QB at both 4for4 and FantasyPros. Mahomes is projected for 24.4 points at 4for4 and 28.9 points at FantasyPros. With the higher projection, Mahomes is the QB of choice for the FatnasyPros optimizer. Mahomes faces the Falcons, who have allowed a league-worst 23.2 fantasy points a game to QBs. Mahomes has averaged 25.72 points, so there is a good chance the projections at FantasyPros is accurate.
Justin Herbert (LAC, $8,200) faces the Broncos, who have allowed a ninth most 19.21 fantasy points a game to QBs. Herbert has a rough streak from Weeks 12-14 when he only averaged only 13.5 points. Herbert rebounded last week with a 27.96 point performance against the Raiders. This week Herber faces the Broncos, who allowed a ninth-most 19.21 fantasy points a game to QBs.
Jalen Hurts (PHI, $8,200) had a coming-out party against the Cardinals. In arguably his first full game with the reigns off, Hurts completed 24 of 44 passes for 338 yards and three TDs and rushed 11 times for an additional 63 yards and TD to score 37.82 fantasy points. With that performance, the Cardinals are now ranked 13th worst against QBs at 19.08 fantasy points per game allowed. This week Hurts faces the Cowboys, ranked 12th worst at 19.24 fantasy points allowed to QBs. The 4for4 optimizer selects Hurts as the best QB in their optimizer.
Baker Mayfield (CLE, $7,600) has not been a regular play but is on a hot streak. Mayfield has scored 20.98 points or more for three straight games. This week Mayfield faces the Jets that have allowed a third-most 21.84 fantasy points a game to QBs.
Tyreek Hill ($9,400) is the most expensive WR on the slate for a good reason. Hill is dealing with a sore hamstring injury. Fortunately, he plays in the early games. If Hill is active, you should play with confidence. “Over the last five weeks, Hill has had one game of fewer than 10 targets, and he has scored a TD in four of those last five,” wrote Woellert. “He’s just behind Travis Kelce in market share of targets and is producing a 12.8 average target depth while averaging 14.6 yards per catch. Isaiah Oliver is going to have an issue keeping up. Over the last five weeks, Hill has been averaging 38 snaps, so pre-snap, that should match him up on Oliver for most of his routes. He’ll also move around and should get matched up on A.J. Terrell or their linebackers, Deion Jones or Foyesade Oluokun. Oliver, however, should be covering him most of the game. Oliver has been responsible for five scores and is allowing 15.2 yards per catch, resulting in 546 total yards allowed and 2.1 fantasy points per target.”
Allen Robinson (CHI, $7,500) has by far the best matchup of the elite WRs. In fact, he has the second-best CB matchup possible in terms of fantasy points allowed per target. Robinson should be covered by Jaguars CB Greg Mabin, who has allowed a 50% catch rate and second-worst 2.53 fantasy points per target. Allen needs to be monitored because he was limited in practice this week with a hamstring injury. If he plays, Robinson could compete for the top WR of the week.
Rashard Higgins (CLE, $5,800) has the best matchup of the Browns WRs to stack with Baker Mayfield. Higgins should be covered by Jets CB Blessaun Austin, who has allowed a 64.4 catch rate and 1.71 fantasy points per target.
Mike Williams (LAC, $5,700) may serve as the Chargers’ lead WR if Keenan Allen ($8,000, hamstring) is out. Williams has the best matchup of the Chargers WRs. Williams should be covered by Broncos CB Michael Ojemudia, who has allowed a 58.7% catch rate and 1.80 fantasy point per target. Higgins has averages eight targets a game over the last three.
Jalen Reagor (PHI, $5,700) gives you a number one WR at a WR2 price. Reagor should be covered by Cowboys CB Chidobe Awuzie, who has allowed a 58.6 catch rate and 1.94 fantasy points per target. Reagor is coming off a season-high eight targets, which is a good sign QB Jalen Hurts is looking in his direction and will continue to do so this week.
Michael Gallup (DAL, 5,600) maybe a little off the radar as a value play, but the Cowboys offense has started to click, and Gallup could benefit with a great matchup. “Gallup has been averaging nearly seven targets a game over the last five and has hit the endzone in two of his last three,” wrote Woellert. “I like Gallup’s cornerback draw this week as Michael Jacquet is going to have some issues covering Gallup. Gallup, although third in the receiver pecking order, runs good routes and is producing an average target depth of 12 yards. Jacquet’s yielding 13.1 yards per target. He’s also drawn the eye of opposing QBs, 20% of their throws are in his direction. Over 60 coverage snaps, Jacquet is allowing 2.5 fantasy points per target.”
A.J. Green (CIN, $5,500) should see relatively low ownership on a large slate. Green has a relatively quiet year with his targets ranging all over the place from week to week. Green has been targeted just once in two games and has two other games with 13 targets. “I like the matchup this week for Green.,” wrote Woellert. “He’s coming off the Pittsburgh game having received just three targets; however, that was 23% of the target share. Ryan Finley threw the ball just 13 times. Green, pre-snap, primarily lines up on the left side, so he should run most of his routes on Vernon Hargreaves this week. Hargreaves has allowed the most yards in coverage (619), and opposing QBs have a 105.3 QBR when targeting him. He’s been responsible for three scores and 1.8 fantasy points per target.
KJ Hamler (DEN, $5,300) has the best possible matchup in terms of fantasy points per target. Hamler should be covered by Chargers CB Chris Harris Jr., who has allowed a 60.9 catch-rate and a league-worst 2.73 fantasy points per target. Hamler has seen in the range of three to six targets in recent weeks. However, in November, he saw back-to-back games with 10 targets against the Raiders and Falcons, who both have poor pass defenses. Hamler could be instore for another heavily targeted game.
Take A Side
Travis Kelce (KN $8,800) is projected to score 16.6 fantasy points at 4for4 and 16.2 at FatnasyPros. While that’s not quite 2X, Kelce has been the most constant at providing production from the TE position. Kelce has averaged 17.21 points a game this year, and no other TE is close to that. Kelce provides a high floor and almost limitless ceiling. Tyreek Hill (hamstring) were to miss, then that would likely mean more targets for Kelce.
Noah Fant (DEN, $6,200) is coming off a season-high 16.2 fantasy point performance. Fant caught eight of 11 targets for 68 yards and a TD against the Bills last week. Fant could have another great week against the Chargers, who struggle to cover pass-catchers over the middle. The Bolts have allowed a 10th most 13.89 fantasy points a game to TEs.
Dallas Goedert (PHI, $5,700) makes for a nice addition to an Eagles stack. Goedert has not seen less than six targets in the last six games. Goedert faces a Cowboys defense that is in the middle of the pack against TEs at 11.71 fantasy points a game allowed.
David Montgomery (CHI, $7,800) continues to crush it! Montgomery has not scored less than 22.3 fantasy points in the last four games. There is no reason to think that streak ends this week against the Jaguars have allowed a third-most 28.75 fantasy points a game to RBs. “You can mock Montgomery for being a below-average running back last year, but that wasn’t the case in 2020,” wrote Tagliere. “According to NFL’s NextGenStats, there are just seven running backs who’ve finished with 100 rushing yards over what they’ve been expected to get this year, and Montgomery is one of them. Based on the average number of defenders in the box, yards before contact, and broken tackles, Montgomery has averaged 0.54 yards per carry, more than he’s been expected to (11th-highest in football). After playing extremely well against the Vikings’ run defense, we’re extremely confident in Montgomery while playing for a Bears offense that’s suddenly scored 25-plus points in four straight games, including 30-plus points in each of the last three games. The Jaguars have allowed 1.57 PPR points per offensive play this year, which is behind only the Lions and Falcons. When looking at efficiency, running backs have averaged the fifth-most fantasy points per weighted opportunity against them, behind only the Lions, Texans, Packers, and Raiders. We’ve already seen Montgomery crush three of those teams in the last month. It’s not just efficiency, as they’ve also faced more running back touches (440) than any other team in the league. There are just five teams in the NFL who’ve allowed more than 218.0 fantasy points on the ground to running backs, and the 240.5 fantasy points the Jaguars have allowed certainly qualifies. We’ve watched seven different running backs finish as top-10 options against the Jaguars, and Montgomery should be the eighth this week.”
Austin Ekeler (LAC, $7,000) has averaged 14.05 fantasy points a game since his return four weeks ago. Ekeler has done that without the benefit of a TD. At some point, you have to think Ekeler is going to score and turn a 2X performance into 3X or more.
Miles Sanders (PHI, $7,300) has had 18 total touches for two consecutive weeks. If Sanders continues to see that type of workload, he could have a huge game against the Cowboys, who have allowed a sixth-most 25.25 fantasy points a game to RBs. “Jalen Hurts starting may have been the best thing for Sanders, who’s now played 81 and 83 percent of the snaps over the last two weeks,” wrote Tagliere. “Keep in mind he played just 56-61 percent of snaps the previous three weeks. The play-calling may be questionable for the Eagles this year, but the offensive scheme has certainly opened lanes for Sanders, who’s seen eight-plus defenders in the box just 9.4 percent of the time, which is the fifth-lowest mark in the league. The Cowboys have faced a league-high 27.3 running back carries per game this year, which is miles ahead of any other team, and ultimately what allows us to start guys like Jeff Wilson. semi-confidently. There have been five different running backs who’ve been able to crack the 100-yard mark on the ground against the Cowboys, which is made possible by the highly-efficient 4.90 yards per carry they’ve allowed. All in all, running backs have averaged 133.6 rushing yards per game against them. The only team that’s allowed more fantasy points on the ground than the Cowboys defense is the Texans, and you know we attack that matchup all the time. Despite the Cowboys allowing the second-most passing touchdowns in the NFL, they’re one of just two teams who’ve still yet to allow a receiving touchdown to running backs. In fact, production through the air as a whole has been problematic for running backs against the Cowboys. Through 14 games, they’ve allowed just 55 receptions for 336 yards, or just 6.3 PPR points per game. Knowing Sanders has received 31-of-34 carries by the Eagles running backs the last two weeks, he needs to be in lineups as an RB1 with week-winning potential.”
J.K. Dobbins (BAL $6,300) is projected for 14.4 points on 4for4 and 14,6 on fantasy points. That’s a solid 2x return. If you want to pay up for Kelce at TE or another top WR, Dobbins is an excellent flex option that provides a solid floor and a decent chance of providing a good return to value.
J.D. McKissic (WAS, $5,800) took advantage of teammate Antonio Gibson ($6,600) missing last week with a tow injury. McKissic posted his best fantasy performance of the year by scoring 21.2 points against the Seahawks. He carried the ball 13 times for 51 yards and caught nine of 10 targets for 56 yards and a TD. McKissick faces the panthers, who have allowed a sixth most 25.32 fantasy points a game to RBs. That makes Mckissik an excellent value play this week and appears in the 4for4 optimum lineup. “The best news for McKissic is that running backs have seen a 20 percent target share against the Panthers, and that’s led to them seeing 101 targets on the season (9th-most),” wrote Tagliere. “The 82 receptions they’ve allowed is the fourth-most in football, including nine running backs who’ve caught four-plus balls against them, which should provide McKissic with the floor we love. We also watched him get a season-high 13 carries with Antonio Gibson out of the lineup, which came after he totaled 11 carries the previous week. It’s clear that McKissic is going to get more than a dozen touches one way or another, and with Smith under center, there’s 18-plus potential against the defense that allows the eighth-most points per weighted opportunity.” Gibson was limited in return to practice on Wednesday and Thursday. If Gibson were to play, then McKissic production would likely be significantly downgraded.
FanDuel Lineup Build
There isn’t an exact science in what a winning FanDuel lineup looks likes. However, they should tell a logical story, and certain elements are frequent.
When building a FanDuel lineup, I’ll try to check off most of the criteria:
1) QB stacked with a WR: This allows for a double score when the two connect.
2) Opposing WRs: A recent analysis of big tournament winners found a high percentage were constructed with two WRs in the same game from both teams. This combination makes sense because high scoring shootouts allow for opportunity on both sides of the ball. Based on matchups, some of our builds incorporate this.
3) RB stacked with Defense: There is a strong correlation between an RB performing well with their team’s defense. That’s something to factor in when choosing a reason, but in reality, it’s often the perceived best available defense with money left from the build that gets plugged in.
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