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2014 Fantasy Football: Week 16 NFL DFS Deep Dive

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Golden Tate
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The Week When No One Scored. That’s how we should forever refer to Week 15 of the 2014 NFL season. In six of the seven weeks prior to Week 15, we had at least one running back score three touchdowns. No back accomplished that last week. For the first time since Week 2, only two receivers scored multiple touchdowns. And the two that did, Odell Beckham Jr. and Dez Bryant, scored three touchdowns, which means Week 15 is the only week this season where no receiver caught exactly two touchdowns. Just one tight end topped 20 fantasy points in PPR scoring. And to all that I say, “WOOF!

If we can preemptively name Week 16 of the 2014 NFL season, I propose we go with The Week When We Went Back to the Well. Because no one scored last week, a lot of players saw price drops this week because the DraftKings pricing algorithm gives a fair amount of weight to recent performance. In addition to the lower cost, there are just quite a few guys I liked last week that have great matchups this week. So if you read last week’s post and you see a lot of familiar names below, that’s why.

Alright, below I’ve got my favorite value plays and my favorite expensive plays of the week at each position and then a little chart at the bottom of the post where I put all those names together in one spot for you and rank them. Good luck this week. Win some monies.


Studs (Priced above $7,500)

Andrew Luck (at DAL, $8,900) is the poster boy for “Going Back to the Well” week as he was the pick in this section of last week’s deep dive. Luck’s price is down $400 from where it was last week after Indy and Houston played a surprisingly buttoned down 17-10 game in which Luck failed to throw for more than 250 yards for the first time since Week 2.  This week he gets another good matchup against Dallas, even though it might not be the best matchup for a pricey quarterback.

Here is a chart showing the five quarterbacks in this price range along with how good their matchup is according to’s schedule-adjusted fantasy points against metric (aFPA), Football Outsiders’ pass defense DVOA (FO) and’s pass coverage grade (PFF). The further above/below zero the number is the better/worse the matchup is for the quarterback, and yellow is good, green is great, orange is bad and red is really, really bad.


We can obviously throw Peyton out, especially given concerns about his health, and Brady’s matchup against the Jets apparently isn’t as good as we might have thought it was. Plus, Brady doesn’t grade out as an above average value in my projections.

So why luck over Rodgers and Brees? On one hand Rodgers leads the league in yards per attempt and fantasy points per drop back. Luck ranks ninth and fifth in those categories, respectively, but Luck drops back quite a bit more than Rodgers with 640 drop backs to Rodgers’ 513. Luck leads the league in drop backs, but Brees is 2nd with 609, and Brees is 11th in YPA and 2nd in fantasy points per drop back.

It really comes down to quantity over quality. The quantity of Luck and Brees probably makes up for the gap in quality. But the quantity gap could be wider than normal this week with Luck and Brees facing teams who can move the ball better than Rodgers’ opponent can. That’s why I prefer Luck and Brees this week, and I trust Luck more than Brees. If you’re just making one lineup, Luck is your guy if you’re spending at quarterback.

Value Plays (Priced under $7,500)

Have you guys seen the Washington secondary lately?

dumpster fire

Washington is the best matchup for quarterbacks according to both FO and PFF and the third best matchup per AFPA. Mark Sanchez (at WAS, $6,200) will get the chance to take advantage of that matchup this week. To further illustrate how good the matchup is, PFF assigns coverage grades to cornerbacks on a 1-to-100 scale with 100 being the best matchup for the offense and 1 being the worst matchup for the offense. Wahsington’s three most used corners have coverage grades of 95, 80, 77. I say again, “WOOF!” Sanchez ranks 17th in fantasy points per drop back, which I don’t love. But he’s eighth in yards per attempt. If you average those two out you could argue he’s been a borderline top 12 caliber quarterback. He’s only the 16th most expensive QB this week, so there’s value there.

Matthew Stafford (at CHI, $7,000) has a top five matchup by any measure, but Stafford has kind of been terrible this year. He’s tied for 26th in fantasy points per drop back and 18th in yards per attempt. He does have the sixth most drop backs in the league, but I’m not sure above average quantity makes up for below average quality. With Luck I feel like quantity can make up the gap between near elite rate stats and elite rate stats. But with Stafford his quantity needs to give him a boost from below average all the way to above average while skipping over average. Not sure quantity is a two-level bump. If any of that makes sense. I’d rather spend less on Sanchez.

If I was going to punt quarterback, I’d do it with Kyle Orton (at OAK, $5,200) who was another guy I mentioned here last week. But Orton has just been awful, and I think Oakland is a better matchup on the ground than in the air.

If you’re just looking for a cheap, safe cash game play, it’s hard to argue with Alex Smith (at PIT, $5,600). He grades out as an above average value according to my projections as well as those of 4for4 and ProFootballFocus. Of course there’s really no upside as he’s only hit 20+ points twice this year and his biggest week was just 21 points. But Pittsburgh is the best matchup a QB can have per aFPA and the third best matchup per FO, so he could definitely get back to 20 points again. He doesn’t even have to get to 20 to hit value, but it’s not unreasonable to think he can do so and thus he could be a big value.

Running Backs

Studs (Priced above $6,500)

Let’s start with another chart showing the most expensive running backs and their matchup data.


Goodbye Forte, Foster and Lynch. The matchups are just too tough to trust them this week. I don’t trust DeMarco with his hand injury even if he plays. And Justin Forsett barely grades out as above average in my projections as well as 4for4’s and PFF’s. That leaves us with Bell, Charles, Lacy and Anderson.

Everyone and their dog is going to be on C.J. Anderson (at CIN, $6,900) and for damn good reason. Cincinnati is terrible against the run as you can see from all that green and yellow. Anderson is averaging 28.75 touches per game in four games since taking over the starting job, and there’s just no way he doesn’t return significant value if he touches the ball that many times in this matchup. He’s only the eighth most expensive back this week, and I simply can’t imagine him not finishing in the top five at the position with top three being more like it. Because he will be heavily owned, I can understand fading him in GPPs. I’m probably not going to fade him unless I want to spend a ton on receivers in a lineup. But you’ve got to own him in cash games no matter what.

Of the others, Le’Veon is obviously the most likely to go ham, but I’m not sure I can stomach his price of $9,800. He faces Kansas City who grades out as the fourth and seventh worst run defense in the league per FO and PFF, respectively. But they don’t grade out as a good matchup per aFPA because they simply don’t allow running backs to score. They’re among the worst in the league allowing almost five yards per carry, but they’ve allowed just two rushing touchdowns this year. Let others try to keep riding Bell’s wave, hope he tanks and sees his price fall for another matchup with Cincinnati in Week 17.

Lacy and Charles project very similarly to me with similar matchups, but Eddie Lacy (at TB, $7,300) has a slightly better matchup and costs $700 less, so he’s where I’d go if I was going to spend big on a second back other than Anderson (which I probably won’t).

Value Plays (Priced under $6,500)

Lamar Miller (vs. MIN, $4,400) grades out as the best RB value of the week per PFF, the second best value per 4for4, and the third best value per my projections. At first glance the universal love for Miller is a little weird given the matchup with Minnesota is just slightly better than average. But I have Miller ranked 13th at RB this week, and the only guys I have ranked behind him who have a decidedly better matchup are Steven Jackson and Dan Herron. Even if you like those guys more than Miller (and I don’t know why you would), Miller is still a borderline top 15 back this week. But at $4,400 he’s only the 23rd most expensive back. In that context it’s easy to see why he looks like a good value play.

If you’re looking for a value play with a safe, solid matchup, Fred Jackson (at OAK, $5,500) is your guy and another guy I’m going back to the well on after pimping him last week.. Steven Jackson (at NO, $3,600) also fits that criteria, but FJax has almost 20 more PPR fantasy points despite playing in two fewer games. SJax is OK as a cheap cash game play, but that’s the extent of his usefulness. FJax is also a solid cash game play, but he also has a bit of upside and makes sense in cash games and GPPs.

If you’re looking for a cheap/punt/upside play, Kerwynn Williams (vs. SEA, $3,200) is your man. I’ve written about Williams for a couple of other sites already this week, but the gist of why I like him is that he’s good and the matchup isn’t as bad as it seems. Williams is averaging 5.1 yards per carry in his two weeks as the starter in Arizona, and he’s done that against two teams that allow fewer fantasy points per game to running backs than Seattle does. Yes, the matchup isn’t ideal, but Williams should see 15+ touches and has proven he can do something in a tough matchup. If he scores, he’ll be a great value.

Tre Mason (vs. NYG, $4,600) and Matt Asiata (at MIA, $4,500) grade out very similarly to Miller in my projections, but aren’t quite as close to Miller in terms of value per 4for4 and PFF. Both of those sites like Mason more than Asiata, so if you’re making multiple lineups and want a little diversity but like that price point for backs, Mason makes sense.

Wide Receivers

Studs (Priced above $7,000)

The expensive receiver with the best one-on-one matchup this week is T.Y. Hilton (at DAL, $7,600) who could see a lot of Brandon Carr and his woeful 92 PFF coverage grade. As a Cowboys fan, let me just tell you that Carr is every bit as bad as that coverage grade suggests. It is absolutely brutal to watch him in coverage. If you watched the Sunday night game, you saw him take an insane gamble on jumping an out route to Maclin that he came nowhere close to touching and allowing Maclin to go for a massive gain. He’s just awful and Hilton would destory him. I say would because Hilton did not practice Wednesday or Thursday and is apparently dealing with a hamstring injury. If he’s good to go, a Luck/Hilton stack has tons of of upside.

If he can’t go it might make me a little nervous about Luck, but I’d probably stick with him. If I wanted to stack Luck with another receiver I’d like to go with Donte Moncrief, but my guess s that Hakeem Nicks might see more of Carr in Hilton’s absence than Moncrief would. If I knew Moncrief was going to see a lot of Carr, I’d stack him with Luck all over the place. But I might lean towards pairing Luck with a tight end if I can’t get some sort of certainty on the coverage matchup plan. Let’s just hope Hilton plays.

I also really like the matchup for Green Bay. I think the one-on-one matchup is better for Randall Cobb (at TB, $7,100) out of the slot against Leonard Johnson. But I do think the Packers will get Jordy Nelson (at TB, $7,700) away from Alterraun Verner enough for him to have a big day, too. It might make sense to lean Cobb in cash game and Jordy in GPPs.

I’m also not going to argue with anyone who wants to roll with Odell Beckham, Jr. (at STL, $9,000). I’ve seen a lot of people discussing how great Antonio Brown has been this year, but Beckham has arguably been just as good since he entered the lineup. Beckham is averaging 22.6 fantasy points per game in PPR leagues in his 10 games while Brown is averaging 23.7 in his 14 games. But Beckham’s 10 game sample includes three games before New York’s bye where he didn’t top five catches or 50 yards. In the seven games since he’s averaging 26.2 fantasy points. He’s really on another level. And this week Brown may see quite a bit of Sean Smith, which is a tough matchup. Don’t expect three scores again, but Beckham is the new stud of studs.

Value Plays (Priced under $7,000)

I’ll be drawing receivers from this group of receivers more than the expensive guys.

As mentioned above, all of Washington’s corners have brutal coverage grades, so I’m down with Jeremy Maclin (at WAS, $6,500) or Jordan Matthews (at WAS, $5,100). I’m not all that into Riley Cooper for the minimum price because Matthews has been far more productive than Cooper since Sanchez took over at quarterback. In fact, Matthews has been more productive than Maclin in that same time frame. And Matthews is being target farther down field (per PFF’s aDOT) than Maclin with Sanchez at the helm. It’s interesting that over the last six weeks Matthews’ aDOT is 2.2 yards higher than Maclin’s but for the year Maclin’s aDOT is 5.3 yards higher than Matthews’. That’s a significant shift since the quarterback change. When I started writing this paragraph, I thought I was going to be “going back to the well” with Maclin, but Matthews seems like the better play. I also have no issue stacking both with Sanchez in a GPP.

One could make a pretty convincing argument that Golden Tate (at CHI, $6,100) has the best matchup of any receiver on Sunday. In addition to the coverage grades, PFF grades corners on the same 1-to-100 scale in terms of PPR points allowed per target (FP). Remember, 100 is the best grade an opposing receiver could hope for and 1 is the worst. Well Chicago’s slot corner, Demontre Hurst, has an FP grade of 100. There’s the basis for your “Golden Tate has the best matchup” argument. Do you remember a couple Thursday night games ago when Cole Beasley scored two touchdowns? Yeah, that was Hurst’s man for the night. Tate, who sees 62% of his snaps out of the slot, is far and away more talented than Beasley and could have a monster, monster day.

If you need to save a little money, Steve Smith (at HOU, $4,100) has chance to return a ton of value against Houston who is the best matchup for wide recievers in a PPR league per aFPA. He’s obviously slowed off his torrid pace he began the season on, but we never should have expected him to keep it up. And just because he’s cooled off doesn’t mean he’s not capable of a big game.

If you need to punt at receiver, you could go with the aforementioned Cooper or Dwayne Bowe (at PIT, $3,200). Typing that makes me want to vomit, but Bowe is damn near minimum price and has a great matchup against Pittsburgh. I’m not stacking Smith and Bowe or anything, but Bowe is an interesting punt GPP play if you’re looking for one.

Tight End

Tight end usually falls pretty neatly and allows for a pretty obvious expensive play, mid-price play and punt play, and this week that’s most definitely true. If you have money to spend at tight end, spend it on Rob Gronkowski (at NYJ, $7,000). He managed 96 yards and a score last week against the toughest matchup for tight ends per aFPA, and his price dropped $600 this week. According to FO’s DVOA, the Jets are by far the worst team in the league at defending the tight end. You could pretty easily go heavy on value plays at back and receiever or use Sanchez at quarterback to find room for Gronk.

If you can’t spend on Gronk but don’t want to punt, Travis Kelce (at PIT, $4,600) is a great option. Pittsburgh is fifth worst against the tight end per FO. Kelce and Smith would make for a safe little cash game stack if you like to stack in that format.

And then if you want to punt, Eric Ebron (at CHI, $3,000) is kind of interesting. He only has 10 targets the last three weeks, and he hasn’t done much with them. But the Bears are the best matchup by a mile for tight ends in PPR leagues per aFPA and the second best matchup per FO. I probably won’t be taking that risk, but if you like to go as cheap as possible at tight end, go with Ebron.

Defense/Special Teams

Most of my lineups will have Miami (vs. MIN, $2,800) in the defense slot. Miami ranks mid-pack in FO’s weighted defensive DVOA and they have a mid-pack matchup per aFPA against Minnesota. But they’re only the 11th most expensive defense, so they’re not quite priced like the middling option they are. If you like that price point for a defense, Carolina (vs. CLE, $3,000) is very similar to Miami in price, weighted defensive DVOA rank (16th) and matchup (20th per aFPA). I like Miami because I figure I can do something with the extra $200. But if you have a bunch of lineups and want some diversity in that spot, Carolina is fine.

If you have money to spend or just want to spend more on a defense, I like Buffalo (at OAK, $3,500). Buffalo ranks first in FO’s weighted defensive DVOA and just held Aaron Rodgers to less than 200 yards passing with two picks and no touchdowns. Prior to that game Rodgers had a 35:3 TD:INT ratio. I think Buffalo will be able to handle Derek Carr just fine. A lot of people will probably be on Seattle against Ryan Lindley, so Buffalo could be a bit of a “contration” D play this week. Seattle against Lindley is obviously a great matchup, but Buffalo’s situation is just as good in my opinion and they should have a much lower ownership percentage.

Cheat Sheet

week 16

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