Week 15 NFL DFS: Tournament strategies and player picks for FanDuel, DraftKings
Ben Gretch looks at the Week 15 DFS slate and gives his tournament strategies and top player picks by position.
Each week, we start this article by discussing something to consider for DFS tournaments, then cover my favorite player picks at each position. Let's take a look at the Week 15 slate.
Week 15 tournament strategy session
Last week we talked a lot about tracking late-season opportunity opening up, and how to exploit it for DFS. There are a few great spots to consider this week, so let's dive right into the specifics of the Week 15 slate.
For me, Tampa is the biggest leverage point on the slate. Mike Evans leads the NFL in air yards at 1,814, a full 370 more than DeAndre Hopkins in second. Chris Godwin has been a high-volume option this year, but his average depth of target (aDOT) suggests more intermediate targets than downfield looks.
While Godwin should see even more targets than usual, there is a ton of downfield opportunity available. Breshad Perriman has been a consistently-used deep threat, though his production has been sporadic. Justin Watson picked up the majority of Evans' snaps when Evans left Week 14 early, but Scotty Miller's return could complicate things in the third receiver role.
In all likelihood, one of those three will have a solid game. If not, the guy to look at is almost taboo at this point — O.J. Howard. Howard saw five targets in Week 14 at an aDOT of 14.0, and he's always been the more vertical of the two Buccaneers' tight ends. There's plenty of potential for Howard to finish a disappointing 2019 strong with Evans out.
Another key spot is Tampa's opponent, Detroit. The Lions' offense hasn't been one to target typically, especially with David Blough under center, but Marvin Jones landed on IR one week after T.J. Hockenson, and now Bo Scarbrough is questionable after being downgraded from a limited Wednesday practice participant to out on Thursday. Teams already like to attack Tampa through the air given their run defense is far superior to their secondary, so a banged up Scarbrough only increases that likelihood. Expect Kenny Golladay and Danny Amendola to see plenty of volume Sunday, while Ty Johnson could wind up being a dirt cheap lead back if Scarbrough misses.
Then there's Atlanta, which travels to the Bay Area to take on a 49ers defense without Richard Sherman, Dee Ford or Jaquiski Tartt. K'Waun Williams is also in the concussion protocol, making that three members of their starting secondary who could potentially miss the game. On Atlanta's side, Calvin Ridley is out for the season, opening up more targets in a passing game that already had plenty of available opportunity after the Mohamed Sanu trade several weeks ago. Julio Jones and Austin Hooper figure to see plenty of volume against the depleted 49ers.
There is also available opportunity in the Jacksonville and Philadelphia passing games with D.J. Chark and Alshon Jeffery out. I'll discuss a few plays from those teams below, but continue to monitor the injury reports because there will be plenty of DFS value opening up over the final weeks of the season.
Let's get into the player picks.
Dak Prescott QB
DAL Dallas • #4
Age: 26 • Experience: 4 yrs.
Prescott has thrown for at least 330 yards in four of his past five games, and now a home matchup with the Rams brings an over/under approaching 50. This game could turn into a shootout, and if it does, there should be plenty of Fantasy production to go around. With Jalen Ramsey likely to spend a lot of time on Amari Cooper, I like stacking Dak with Michael Gallup.
Matt Ryan QB
ATL Atlanta • #2
Age: 34 • Experience: 12 yrs.
I mentioned the 49ers' secondary woes above, and while Ryan will be on the road across the country, one thing we can count on from this Atlanta passing offense that leads the league in pass attempts is volume. The Falcons will throw, and they may throw a ton, and that could mean a big ceiling for Ryan if the 49ers spring a few leaks in their defensive backfield.
Chris Carson RB
SEA Seattle • #32
Age: 25 • Experience: 3 yrs.
Carson's going to be a chalky play, but for good reason. The Panthers gave up 228 rushing yards and three scores on 23 combined carries to Derrius Guice and Adrian Peterson two weeks ago, then allowed the Falcons to rush for over 150 yards for the first time this season as Devonta Freeman and Brian Hill combined for 146 and two touchdowns on the ground on 26 attempts. With Rashaad Penny out, the Seahawks are likely to go back to Carson as their feature back, and 20-plus carries against this front seven is something to salivate over.
CAR Carolina • #22
Age: 23 • Experience: 3 yrs.
McCaffrey didn't score in either of the past two games, and yet he averaged over 20 PPR points in those contests. He's gone over 30 DraftKings points a whopping eight times already this season, including a Week 11 contest where he also didn't score. Fade the lack of recent touchdowns, and bank on his ridiculous weekly dual threat projection being worth the price tag when there's value all over this week.
SF San Francisco • #31
Age: 27 • Experience: 5 yrs.
Kyle Shanahan said this week that Mostert has forced the Niners' hand in terms of his recent playing time, and it's not hard to understand. With both Tevin Coleman and Matt Breida nursing injuries, there's no need to rush them back into big roles when Mostert is averaging a whopping 7.4 yards per carry over 35 attempts in his past three games, plus another 14 yards per reception on five catches. Mostert's price tag has gotten up there on FanDuel, but he's still a solid bargain on DraftKings.
Boston Scott RB
PHI Philadelphia • #35
Age: 24 • Experience: 1 year
There are several discount running backs available this week. Patrick Laird's price has risen, but he'll be a popular option after playing 82% of the Dolphins' snaps in Week 14. I mentioned Ty Johnson as a possibility if Bo Scarbrough misses. But Boston Scott isn't getting a lot of love, and I like him as a contrarian option after his big game on Monday Night Football in Week 14. Coach Doug Pederson said this week "we'll continue to... find ways to utilize him in the offense," and I expect he's carved out a decent role on an offense bereft of playmakers, one that has no problem utilizing a backfield committee and that hasn't gotten anything out of Jay Ajayi. Miles Sanders will still be the lead, but expect Scott to see something resembling the Darren Sproles role in this offense in years past, and at his price tag he could be a steal even as the short side of a committee.
Robert Woods WR
LAR L.A. Rams • #17
Age: 27 • Experience: 7 yrs.
The Rams have really adjusted their playing time in recent weeks, rolling out run-first and pass-first packages that have limited the snaps of Cooper Kupp and Brandin Cooks. But Woods isn't coming off the field, as he's seen as a strong blocker as well as a receiver. That's helped him become the de facto No. 1 receiver in recent weeks, and it should mean big things in a potentially high-scoring environment in Dallas this weekend.
JAC Jacksonville • #12
Age: 26 • Experience: 3 yrs.
With D.J. Chark out, Westbrook's target projection jumps. Gardner Minshew's 7.1 aDOT is on the lower side — more than a yard shallower than Nick Foles' 8.4 — and Minshew's felt comfortable taking underneath throws when given the opportunity. Though Chark is a downfield weapon and Westbrook runs more underneath routes, I expect Chark's absence to result in Minshew staying in his comfort zone even more, and locking onto Westbrook in a beatable matchup against the Raiders.
DET Detroit • #80
Age: 34 • Experience: 11 year
With T.J. Hockenson out last week, Amendola ran routes on a season-high 89% of dropbacks and saw eight targets. In fact, Amendola's seen at least eight targets in each of the four games where he's run routes on at least 75% of dropbacks (11 in Week 7, nine in Week 10, eight in Week 13, eight in Week 14). With Marvin Jones now also on IR, it seems exceedingly likely Amendola will crest that mark again in Week 15, and a matchup with Tampa will ensure the Lions will be pass-first.
NE New England • #11
Age: 33 • Experience: 11 year
The Patriots are in desperate need of offensive playmakers, and Julian Edelman has 10-plus targets in eight straight games for a reason. They'll certain feature their running backs to a degree against the Bengals, but there's little reason to think Edelman won't run that streak to nine games, and offer plenty of production on that opportunity to boot.
ATL Atlanta • #81
Age: 25 • Experience: 4 yrs.
Julio Jones is a strong play this week as well, as the Falcons figure to throw a bunch against the 49ers. But with Calvin Ridley out, there are a ton of available targets, and while Hooper caught just two of six targets last week, he played a 64% snap share, a number I'd expect to tick up in his second game back. In 10 games this year, Hooper has caught at least eight balls three times, and he's caught six three more times. He's also scored a touchdown in five contests. This is a guy with plenty of upside in an underrated spot to produce.
Zach Ertz TE
PHI Philadelphia • #86
Age: 29 • Experience: 7 yrs.
Ertz has 11 or more targets in four of his past five games, failing to reach that mark only in the game Alshon Jeffery returned for and stayed healthy through, a Week 13 matchup with Miami where Jeffery was targeted 16 times. Setting that game aside, Ertz had at least nine catches in the other four contests. Jeffery's out again, and Ertz is back to being the clear-cut No. 1 option for Carson Wentz, which should mean plenty of bankable volume in a must-win game for the Eagles.
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