It’s almost here: the end of the football season. Some teams are still fighting for playoff position, some are already eliminated and your yearly leagues are probably wrapping up this upcoming weekend. But if you’re already eliminated there, not to worry: there are weeks remaining in the DFS season.
So take an early look at a few Week 16 prices while this weekend’s action is still fresh in your mind. It’s never too early to start looking for value.
Tom Brady @ NYJ ($7,500) – As a fantasy owner, you almost prefer Brady on the road at this point, for no reason other than how the Pats defense has been playing at home. They have been making it unnecessary for Brady to put up a bunch of fantasy points. On the road, the Jets could provide the perfect opponent: decent at stopping the run but not the pass, and good enough on offense to make him keep pushing for more points.
Ben Roethlisberger @ BAL ($6,800) – It’s really easy to say that the 9-5 Steelers are the matchup no one wants down the stretch or in the playoffs… because it is true. This offense is lethal with all (or at least most) of it’s parts healthy. Big Ben picked apart the Broncos defense for the first half, completing short and intermediate throws, loosening up the secondary enough that he could start carving them up deep when he needed to. And in the process he demonstrated that he has the skills and the weapons to succeed against anyone.
Blake Bortles @ NO ($6,500) – I would have loved to write about Eli here, but with Odell being suspended a game for everything that went down yesterday, his value takes a serious hit. Bortles is a little pricier, but he should have all three of his top receiving options available, and they are all playing at a high level right now. Almost any QB this side of Big Ben would have thrilled to have Robinson, Hurns and Thomas at his disposal, and that is creating a level of confidence in Bortles that has helped push both his floor and his upside higher with every passing week.
Teddy Bridgewater vs. NYG ($5,200) – The way to beat New York has been through the air all season long, and you really can beat them pretty badly. If Eli can get on track without his top option even a little against this Vikings defense, it could turn into a shootout pretty quickly. AP’s ankle injury didn’t seem serious, but who knows – it could turn out to be a good thing for them in the long term. This is a team still positioned to make a run into the postseason, and re-discovering the usefulness of a guy like McKinnon can’t hurt their chances. This team has struggled to find playmakers all season long, and just because AP is their workhorse, that doesn’t mean they should sideline a guy who is capable of taking a few targets and turning them into 74 yards and a receiving score.
Doug Martin vs. CHI ($6,600) – He had 18 carries for 91 yards yesterday, and almost all of it came in the first half. He has looked like every bit of the stud running back – the only problem has been the fact that his team is falling too far behind for him to stay useful for four quarters. The Bears, especially with Alshon, just don’t seem to have the firepower to make that stay true for another week. Combine that with their porous run defense and you’ve got a recipe for Martin’s best game in weeks.
David Johnson vs. GB ($5,800) – What he did last night is impossible to ignore. This offense made a fantasy star out of Chris Johnson for weeks. It’s an offense that has supported three fantasy-relevant wide receivers all season long. In short, it’s an offense that has been productive against all comers, and David Johnson might be the single most dynamic player they’ve had in the backfield through all of it. He went off for 229 total yards and three touchdowns on 33 total touches, and while you maybe shouldn’t expect that again, something in the range of half of that would still be decent value at this price.
Mike Gillislee vs. DAL ($4,500) – This is a 100% pure upside play. There is PLENTY of risk in taking Gillislee – we’re not completely sure that he is either A) any good or B) getting any carries. But there can be value in a guy like that in a GPP, because the upside is there, but the ownership percentages will not be. He split a limited number of carries with Karlos Williams ($4,500) after McCoy went down, and while he was certainly the more productive of the two, it’s still easy to see a scenario where Williams is the primary down rusher and Gillislee is the change of pace back.
Bilal Powell vs. NE ($3,900) – Powell is a clear #2 in one sense, as Ivory is getting the obvious majority of the work, especially on the early downs, and when they get in close. But Powell, actually, has outperformed Ivory in each of the last three weeks. This week he had 6 carries to Ivory’s 13, but got in the end zone, but then had 7 catches on top of that to basically even out the touches (Ivory did have one catch for five yards). Against the Pats, there is a chance the Jets could get away from the run early, which could make this an opportunity for Powell to thrive.
Antonio Brown @ BAL ($9,300) – Until further notice, right? Going against arguably the best corner in football over the past two years, he eviscerated the Broncos’ league-leading defense in the second half of Sunday’s game, ending up with 16 catches for 189 yards and two scores. Returning punts, catching the ball behind the line of scrimmage and stretching the field, he demonstrated a skill-set that puts him in the conversation for the single best position player in the NFL.
Doug Baldwin @ STL ($6,700) – This space was going to be a referendum on how you almost can’t get away from drafting either Antonio Brown or Odell Beckham, Jr., but now some Beckham has been suspended for Week 16. At least in DFS that doesn’t have to cost you a championship. So you can turn instead to a guy like Baldwin, who now has ten TDs in his last four games and is playing with arguably the hottest QB in football right now. Works for me.
Martavis Bryant @ BAL ($5,600) – Yup, two Steelers. In fact, the only real question was whether I would make it a clean sweep and just recommend Markus Wheaton too ($4,100, 6 catches for 62 yards and a score). Bryant didn’t get in the end zone against Denver, but he had 10 catches for 87 yards against one of the best defenses in football, and Baltimore is not that. Roethlisberger looks his way repeatedly, and in an offense this prolific, that many opportunities is going to lead to plenty of value at this price.
Kamar Aiken vs. PIT ($5,400) – With guys like John Brown and Ted Ginn in the same neighborhood, there are plenty of enticing options at WR in this price range. But of all of them, Aiken has the perfect storm working for him, if he get it going like he did yesterday (8 for 128 and a score): an apparent rapport with his new QB, no other options in the passing game, no running attack, and a defense that is going to leave them scrambling for points. And, the most important factor, since a legitimately good defense just takes that pu-pu platter and shuts it down: an opponent with a secondary that will occasionally just get burned for no good reason.
Greg Olsen @ ATL ($7,000) – He just keeps doing it. And with Gronk making his price tag worth the money through consistency rather than upside, this really is turning into a 1/1A conversation, at least in terms of fantasy value. Olsen is the primary target on a 14-0 team, playing with the presumptive MVP at QB. He has a touchdown or at least seventy yards almost every week, and often both. Atlanta is not the best matchup on paper, but the fact is, Carolina is a walking bad matchup for everyone lately, on both sides of the ball.
Delanie Walker vs. HOU ($5,600) – The Pats did a pretty good job of containing Walker yesterday… until they didn’t. And that’s the point – he is as explosive an athlete as you’re going to see at the position. There might not be another physical force like Gronk, but his combination of speed and power was on full display on this run yesterday, reminding me of a younger Antonio Gates.
Zach Miller @ TB ($4,000) – It is looking like there’s at least a solid chance Alshon doesn’t play next week, as he battles through calf and hamstring issues. That leaves Miller, Forte, Langford and Carey as the four best skill position players left on the team, and in case you didn’t notice, three of those are running backs. Miller has been in double-digits for fantasy points in four of his last seven, and was over 7 in two of the other three (not bad for a cheap TE option).
Will Tye @ MIN ($3,500) – With five catches for 43 yards and a TD yesterday, that marks five straight games with double digits in fantasy points. He has been a boon for Eli and Giants, helping the offense move the chains and provide more scoring opportunities for everyone. And if Beckham really does miss, those extra opportunities are going to have to be spread around somewhere.
Denver Broncos vs. CIN ($3,400) – The Seahawks and Chiefs both have amazing matchups next weekend, a serious draw when you are starting with two of the most consistent defenses in the league, each playing at home. But the Broncos will save you almost $1,000, and they are also at home, and they are facing the Andy Dalton-less Bengals. Cincinnati managed 24 points yesterday, but only 250 yards – their defense was constantly leaving them with the short field they needed to get anything done, and that was against the 49ers, not this Denver squad.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. CHI ($2,500) – It’s this simple, really: if Alshon Jeffrey isn’t able to play, the Bears are left with nothing left to play with but a tight end and three running backs, and defending those positions is right in Tampa’s wheelhouse. You attack Tampa best through the air, and Chicago may just be incapable of exploiting that fact. If Jay Cutler turns it over even once, this defense has the potential to return plenty of value on this price tag.