RealTime DFS Strategy: Week 15

Fri Dec 13 10:55am ET
By MIKE BARNER
Contributing Writer

Watson setup for big production


As far as injuries go, it was about as bad as it gets last week. Several prominent players across the league went down, which will have major ramifications across the DFS landscape. As we try to capitalize on players who are in line for expanded roles, here are some options to target for Week 15, as well as a few to avoid based on underwhelming matchups.

QUARTERBACKS

Top-tier option: Deshaun Watson, HOU at TEN ($6,400): The Texans weren’t one of the teams hammered by injuries, but they still had a rough week since they lost to the Broncos by 14 points. Watson wasn’t great through the air, throwing for 292 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. The good news is that he helped make up for that by rushing six times for 44 yards and two touchdowns. This has the potential to be a shootout with the way the Titans have improved offensively, which makes Watson a very appealing option.

Cheap target: Ryan Tannehill, TEN vs. HOU ($6,200): Tannehill isn’t overly cheap, but it’s difficult to resist him based on this matchup. The Texans are coming off of a game in which rookie Drew Lock threw for 309 yards and three touchdowns in just his second career start. Overall, they have allowed the sixth-most passing yards per game in the league. That could mean a hefty stat line is in store for Tannehill, who has already recorded at least two touchdowns four straight games. 

Player to avoid: Matt Ryan, ATL at SF ($6,300): The Falcons are among the teams licking their wounds after they lost wide receiver Calvin Ridley (abdomen) for the season last week. As if that wasn’t bad enough for Ryan, now he has to play on the road against a 49ers team that has allowed the fewest passing yards per game in the league. With both Watson and Tannehill in the same price range and facing far better matchups, there is no reason to take a chance on Ryan.

RUNNING BACKS

Top-tier option: Chris Carson, SEA at CAR ($7,200): It’s no secret that the Seahawks love to run the ball. Carson has been busy with 246 carries through 13 games, but he was recently starting to share more work out of the backfield with Rashaad Penny. That won’t be an issue anymore after Penny suffered a torn ACL last week. Carson is now staring at a heavy workload against a Panthers team that has allowed a whopping 24 rushing touchdowns. Buckle up and enjoy the ride.

Cheap target: Patrick Laird, MIA at NYG ($4,700): The running back position has been a wasteland for the Dolphins. They traded away Kenyan Drake, released Mark Walton and then lost Kalen Ballage to an Achilles injury. Ballage was awful even when he was healthy, but the Dolphins stubbornly continued to give him carries. With him out of the picture, Laird turned 15 carries and five targets into 86 total yards against the Jets last week. The Giants defense has been downright awful, setting up Laird to potentially provide value at such a cheap price.

Player to avoid: Tevin Coleman, SF vs. ATL ($6,500): Coleman has seen a decrease in carries across each of the last three games, bottoming out at just three rushing attempts last week against the Saints. With Raheem Mostert breaking out and Matt Breida also now healthy, Coleman should continue to receive limited carries moving forward. There’s no reason to pay this much to get him into your lineup.

WIDE RECEIVERS

Top-tier option: DeAndre Hopkins, HOU at TEN ($8,300): If I’m high on Watson, I of course like the upside that his No. 1 wide receiver brings to the table. There has been no slowing down Hopkins, who caught seven passes for 120 yards and a touchdown last week against the Broncos. He’s already surpassed 1,000 receiving yards for the season and is only seven catches away from back-to-back seasons of at least 100 receptions. A Watson and Hopkins stack sure is pricey, but it could provide huge returns.

Cheap target: Breshad Perriman, TB at DET ($4,000): Another one of the big injuries last week was suffered by Mike Evans (hamstring), who could miss the rest of the season. That leaves Chris Godwin as the undisputed No. 1 wide receiver for the Bucs this week with Perriman potentially the No. 2 option. He’s strung together a couple of strong performances with 157 yards and a touchdown over the last two weeks. It should also benefit him that the Lions have allowed the third-most passing yards per game.

Player to avoid: Tyler Boyd, CIN vs. NE ($6,100): Boyd had another respectable outing against the Browns last week, catching five passes for 75 yards. With so little weapons around him, he will continue to be Andy Dalton’s primary pass-catching option. However, this a bad matchup against a Patriots defense that has allowed nine passing touchdowns all season. In this price range, you could go with Courtland Sutton ($6,200), A.J. Brown ($6,000) or Darius Slayton ($5,500), each of which at least has similar upside and a much more favorable matchup than Boyd does. As a result, he’s a hard pass for me.

TIGHT ENDS

Top-tier option: Zach Ertz, PHI at WAS ($5,900): The Eagles don’t have much left at wide receiver. Already down DeSean Jackson (abdomen), Alshon Jeffery (foot) now joins him on IR. To further complicate matters, Nelson Agholor is battling a knee injury. Ertz is already one of Carson Wentz’s favorite targets, but his workload could be off the charts in this contest. Further skewing things in his favor, the Redskins have allowed the eighth-most fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends.

Cheap target: Tyler Higbee, LAR at DAL ($4,700): The key here will be the status of Gerald Everett, who has missed the last two games with a knee injury. He still hasn’t returned to practice, so it’s not looking great for him to return against the struggling Cowboys. Higbee has been as good as it gets in his place, catching 14 of 19 targets for 223 yards and a touchdown across the last two weeks. At this price, he could be a significant steal if you want to fade Ertz.

Player to avoid: Jason Witten, DAL vs. LAR ($4,400): The Rams have allowed the eighth-fewest fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends, which immediately puts Witten behind the eight ball. He already has extremely limited upside having recorded no more than 58 receiving yards in a game this season. If Everett is out again, paying the extra $300 for Higbee seems like a no-brainer over Witten.

Mike Barner has been covering fantasy sports since 2007. His work has appeared in Sports Illustrated, Yahoo, SportsLine and RotoWire. Mike was also a finalist for the 2018 FSWA Basketball Writer of the Year award. Follow Mike on Twitter @rotomikebarner.

Player Notes
Green Bay Packers Jan 17 5:20pm ET

The Green Bay Packers Defense faces a tough task this weekend in the NFC Championship game against the San Francisco 49ers. In their regular-season meeting, the Packers gave up 37 points and only dropped Jimmy Garoppolo only three times. They also failed to generate any turnovers. Green Bay's defense may need to lend their offense a helping hand by creating a turnover or two to swing the field position game. If Za-Darius and Preston Smith can ramp up the pressure, the Packers will have a good chance of generating a turnover or two and winning the game. It certainly won't be easy, considering how formidable the 49ers offense has been this season.

From RotoBaller

Jimmy Graham Jan 17 3:50pm ET

Green Bay Packers tight end Jimmy Graham gets a tough matchup against the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship game. Graham has back-to-back 49-year receiving performances, but those games came against teams that struggle to defend the tight end position. The 49ers are not one of those teams. They allowed the sixth-fewest fantasy points to tight ends all season and were the league's stingiest pass defense. Maybe Graham makes a play in the red zone. Still, he's a cheaper DFS play but by no means a comfortable one.

From RotoBaller

Geronimo Allison Jan 17 2:40pm ET

Green Bay Packers wide receiver Geronimo Allison (illness) is trending in the right direction to play in the NFC Championship game this weekend against the San Francisco 49ers. Even if available, Allison isn't an option in any fantasy format. The 25-year-old hasn't caught more than four passes in a game this season. It sure doesn't seem like he'll eclipse that mark against the league's best defense with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line.

From RotoBaller

Allen Lazard Jan 17 2:30pm ET

Green Bay Packers wide receiver Allen Lazard (ankle) is currently questionable for the NFC Championship game against the San Francisco 49ers. There's certainly a risk for injury, considering he re-aggravated the ankle in last week's playoff game. Still, it's hard to ignore the two-game stretch Lazard had to end the season, where he saw 17 targets. That alone makes him worth a gamble, particularly in a must-win game for a Packers team in desperate need of another threat at receiver. Just beware, the matchup isn't ideal. The 49ers allowed only 172 passing yards to the Vikings last week.

From RotoBaller

Davante Adams Jan 17 1:40pm ET

Green Bay Packers wide receiver Davante Adams gets a tough matchup against the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship game this weekend. Adams produced only 43 receiving yards and a score against San Francisco in the regular season but still had 12 targets. The star receiver has seen double-digit targets in nine of 13 games played this year. There's not many receivers that you can virtually pencil in for double-digit targets- but Adams is one of them. If fellow receivers Geronimo Allison (illness) and Allen Lazard (ankle) suit up, they may be limited. Adams could be looking at more work than usual, even in a matchup this difficult.

From RotoBaller

San Francisco 49ers Jan 17 1:30pm ET

The San Francisco 49ers Defense enter Championship weekend as the highest-priced fantasy defense. The Niners face the Green Bay Packers, who they demolished 37-8 in Week 12. In that previous contest, the Niners relentlessly harassed future Hall of Famer quarterback Aaron Rodgers, dropping him five times and forcing a fumble. The Packers were a meager one for 15 on third down conversions. The 49ers will need to follow that blueprint again in the critical NFC Championship to emerge victorious. With a higher-intensity contest expected, it could be difficult to splurge on a defense in fantasy compared to other addressable positions.

From RotoBaller

Deebo Samuel Jan 17 1:00pm ET

San Francisco 49ers wide receivers Deebo Samuel and Emmanuel Sanders both offer solid fantasy value in the NFC Championship against the Green Bay Packers. Both players were limited to under 45 yards apiece in last weekends Divisional Round blowout but were featured early on when the game was still in question. The rookie Samuel has emerged as a consistent dual threat in the latter half of 2019 and is likelier the safer floor. Sanders, the savvy vet has proven himself as a reliable chain-mover with big-play potential. Against the Packers 10th-best pass defense by DVOA, either option seem primed to pop in Sundays winner-take-all battle.

From RotoBaller

Jamaal Williams Jan 17 1:00pm ET

Green Bay Packers running back Jamaal Williams will face off with the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship game this weekend. Williams has been playing second fiddle to Aaron Jones quite a lot recently, as he hasn't seen double-digit carries since Week 13 against the Giants. It's worth noting that Williams played a large role in the regular-season game against the 49ers, which saw him rack up 18 touches. Green Bay very well could utilize Williams in spurts to keep San Francisco guessing, though his recent downtrend in usage makes him hard to trust.

From RotoBaller

Jimmy Garoppolo Jan 17 12:50pm ET

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is a reasonable DFS bet for Sundays NFC Championship matchup against the Green Bay Packers. Priced as the third-best quarterback, Jimmy G squares off against a strong Packers defensive line that ranked 12th-best in adjusted sack rate during the regular season. Garoppolo was not pressed into service in the Divisional Round blowout win, but will likely be tasked with a tougher test on Sunday. While the Niners have mostly ridden its dominant running game throughout the year, Garoppolo has answered the bell in multiple occasions with three four-touchdown games. With dangerous weapons surrounding him, Garoppolo shouldnt be ruled out in the biggest game of his career to-date.

From RotoBaller

Aaron Jones Jan 17 12:30pm ET

Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones will take on the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship game this weekend. The 49ers Defense held Jones to just 38 rushing yards in their regular-season meeting. However, the star back has been playing some seriously good football in his last five games, with 501 rushing yards and seven rushing touchdowns. He's also had 20-plus carries in three straight contests. Expect Green Bay to utilize Jones early and often in screens and runs to combat the 49ers mighty pass rush. Even if Jones doesn't pile up over 100 yards, his propensity to find the end zone and role in the passing game make him a safer play this weekend.

From RotoBaller

Aaron Rodgers Jan 17 12:10pm ET

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers will take on the San Francisco 49ers this weekend with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line. The 49ers Defense held Rodgers to just 104 passing yards and one touchdown in their regular-season meeting. However, there are a couple things that are different ahead of this matchup. First, tackle Bryan Bulaga will play in this game after being injured in the first quarter against the 49ers previously. Rodgers should have better protection than he had when these teams met. Secondly, Rodgers himself is playing better football than he was during the regular season before this matchup. He has 566 passing yards and four touchdowns in his last two contests. There is also the added motivation of denying a Super Bowl berth to the team that could have drafted him. Play Rodgers on Sunday, despite the tough matchup.

From RotoBaller

Kendrick Bourne Jan 17 12:00pm ET

San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Kendrick Bourne is worth a gamble for Sundays NFC Championship against the Green Bay Packers. Bourne scored the only receiving touchdown for the Niners in the Divisional Round, adding to his 2019 resume as a legitimate red-zone threat. The third-year pro has just 33 catches this year, including the playoffs, but collected six scores. Despite his risks as a zero-floor fantasy option, Bourne has emerged as a trustworthy target in clutch situations.

From RotoBaller

Raheem Mostert Jan 17 11:40am ET

San Francisco 49ers running backs Tevin Coleman and Raheem Mostert are both bankable DFS options in Sundays NFC Championship against the Green Bay Packers. The two backs combined for 163 rushing yards in the Divisional Round, with Coleman riding a hot hand to two touchdowns. Considered a backup for the latter half of the regular season, Coleman played 46 percent of snaps last Sunday compared to Mosterts 34 percent. While the touch forecast for either back is cloudy, the Niners draw one of the worst run defenses in the NFL. The Packers ranked 23rd in rushing DVOA during the regular season with the second-worst defensive line in the league, yielding 4.96 adjusted yards per carry. With a likely floor of 10 touches for each Coleman and Mostert, both runners have great opportunities to make a splash.

From RotoBaller

George Kittle Jan 17 11:30am ET

San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle (ankle) was a full participant in Thursdays practice and should be fine for Sundays NFC Championship against the Green Bay Packers. Kittle scared Niner Nation with soreness on the left ankle he chipped earlier this year, but confirms he feels fabulous. Kittle factored more as a blocker in last Sundays Divisional Round blowout but the Niners passed just 19 times. The All-Pro is an integral piece in all facets of the offense so is worth his premium TE1 price in DFS on Sunday.

From RotoBaller

Danny Amendola Jan 17 1:13am ET

Detroit Lions WR Danny Amendola is set to become an unrestricted free agent, but he's a 'prime candidate' to be re-signed, in the opinion of The Detroit Free Press' Dave Birkett.

From TheHuddle

Antonio Callaway Jan 16 6:33pm ET

Free-agent WR Antonio Callaway (Browns) signed with the Tampa Bay Vipers of the XFL Thursday, Jan. 16.

From TheHuddle

LeSean McCoy Jan 16 5:43pm ET

Kansas City Chiefs RB LeSean McCoy (illness) remained out of practice Thursday, Jan. 16.

Fantasy Spin: McCoy played just one offensive snap in last week's Divisional Round game against the Houston Texans. He's clearly behind RB Damien Williams and is no longer worth starting.

From TheHuddle

Morris Claiborne Jan 16 5:43pm ET

Kansas City Chiefs QB Matt Moore (illness) and DT Chris Jones (calf) didn't participate in practice Thursday, Jan. 16. DT Khalen Saunders (knee), CB Morris Claiborne (shoulder), CB Kendall Fuller (knee), DE Tanoh Kpassagnon (neck), C Austin Reiter (wrist) and G Andrew Wylie (ankle) practiced in full.

From TheHuddle

Marcedes Lewis Jan 16 5:33pm ET

Green Bay Packers DL Kenny Clark (back), TE Marcedes Lewis (non-injury), LB Preston Smith (ankle), FB Danny Vitale (knee) and CB Tramon Williams (non-injury) were limited participants in practice Thursday, Jan. 16. S Adrian Amos (chest), OT Bryan Bulaga (non-injury), WR Ryan Grant (non-injury), LB Blake Martinez (hand) and OL Billy Turner (ankle) practiced in full.

From TheHuddle

Travis Kelce Jan 16 5:33pm ET

Kansas City Chiefs TE Travis Kelce (knee) remained limited at practice Thursday, Jan. 16.

Fantasy Spin: Kelce earned a light practice week while catching 10 of 12 targets for 134 yards and three touchdowns against the Houston Texans in the Divisional Round. He's the week's top tight end option once against this week so long as he takes the field.

From TheHuddle