It’s my last sleeper picks article before Christmas so “Andy Claus” has some gifts for all the good fantasy football boys and girls out there. Unwrap these four value plays and enjoy the NFL Week 16 Sunday action!
As always, hit me up with any fantasy football questions on Twitter @AndyMc81 using #AskAndy.
Kalen Ballage, RB, Dolphins ($3,700)
As the Dolphins cling to life in the AFC Wild Card race, their passing attack is sputtering and starting running back Frank Gore is gone for the season. Fantasy owners need to recognize that it’s not Kenyan Drake ($3,900) that will take over the workload, but rather rookie Kalen Ballage.
After Gore went down, the fourth-round pick took full advantage of his 12 carries by galloping for 123 yards, including a 75-yard touchdown. Ballage should get first crack at backfield handoffs, while Drake stays in his current change of pace role.
The 6-foot-2, 237-pound 22-year old is built like a tank and gives Miami a much more explosive rushing option than Gore. It’s an early Christmas present for fantasy players who can slide Ballage into their lineup at a value salary for contrarian points versus a Jaguars run defense that’s been hit and miss.
David Njoku, TE, Browns ($3,800)
For the most part, 2018 has been a disappointing sophomore campaign for Njoku amongst lofty expectations coming out of training camp. The former high school national high-jump champion possesses freakish athleticism, and has displayed inconsistent flashes of brilliance.
Selecting the Miami Hurricanes alum for Week 16 is all about matchup. The Browns host in-state rival Cincinnati, a team they blasted on Nov. 25. That was the last time Njoku scored a touchdown, hauled in more than three receptions, and produced DKFP in the teens (17.3).
The Bengals rank near the bottom of the league in several defensive categories, including 28th against tight ends. The four highest-priced TEs in DraftKings Sunday contests all bombed for under 10 DKFP last week, which makes an already frustrating position group even more confusing.
Njoku is certainly capable of delivering a dud. However, recent success versus the opponent and mismatch coverage opportunities are too good to not take a chance on.
Atlanta Falcons, DST ($2,300)
Eliminated from the playoffs with an embarrassing 5-9 record, the Falcons aren’t on many people’s radars, and rightfully so. However, you’ll want to pop them into your DraftKings DST slot this weekend.
They’ll face their equally disappointing divisional counterparts in Carolina, losers of six straight. Take advantage of that gorgeous $2,300 salary, as Atlanta looks to wear down noodle arm Cam Newton ($6,200) and contain the Panthers only real weapon, Christian McCaffrey ($8,800).
Newton’s throwing shoulder has continued to deteriorate to where he can barely push the ball competently longer than 10 yards. Peyton Manning’s lame duck delivery in his final season looks like a Patrick Mahomes ($7,000) rocket in comparison to Cam. The Panthers should really be shutting down their franchise QB, but I guess the prospect of Taylor Heinicke ($4,000) taking the reins is too terrifying.
Over two of the past three weeks the “Dirty Birds’” DST faced below-average offenses in Arizona and Baltimore. They popped for 20.0 and 11.0 DKFP, respectively, with a combined nine sacks as well as a pair of interceptions, fumble recoveries and defensive touchdowns. Those results plus taking on the toothless Panthers equals a big Sunday for the Falcons.
Excuse me while I go add them to my roster …
Isaiah McKenzie, WR, Bills ($3,900)
There’s an interesting dynamic in the Buffalo receiving corps, as unknowns Robert Foster ($4,900) and McKenzie have emerged as being much more fantasy relevant than the sliding Zay Jones ($3,700). Foster and McKenzie can both stretch the field, which suits Josh Allen’s ($5,800) cannon arm.
The wideout duo share a similar target share over the past three games (McKenzie with 17, Foster with 16), but McKenzie adds the bonus of five rushes and a TD during that period. That raises his fantasy stock considering running backs LeSean McCoy ($4,800), Chris Ivory ($3,900) are listed as questionable and Marcus Murphy has been placed on IR. Maybe that means a few more rushing touches.
The second-year speedster returned after being carted off during the Bills’ eventual victory over Detroit. There’s no injury designation on him, so he should be all systems go when they visit the Patriots in Foxboro. On a rare losing streak, New England’s pass D provides a relatively friendly fantasy encounter for WRs as they are rated 23rd in DKFP against the position.
Foster is $1,000 more expensive and has a projected DraftKings ownership 3 percent higher than McKenzie according to FanShare Sports. I’ll take the savings, the recent workload edge and roll out McKenzie.
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is AndyMc81) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above.