Notorious' NFL DFS Picks - Core Plays: Week 15
Want to know who you should build your NFL lineups each week? Derek “Notorious” Farnsworth, one of the most legendary daily fantasy sports players around, will focus on his core picks in this weekly in-depth feature for Premium subscribers.
Sunday Morning Update
We are back at it this week and certainly have a few things to cover in the update. We’ll start with the fact that Josh Jacobs is expected to play. This obviously makes DeAndre Washington an easy fade in all formats. In the original article, my plan was to pivot to Leonard Fournette, but I’m finding that a little difficult with Saquon Barkley and Chris Carson already on my roster. For cash games, the answer is to pivot to Patrick Laird. I have yet to play him despite all the buzz, but think this is his best week yet in terms of opportunity and matchup. He should handle three-fourths of the running back touches in a windy game against the Giants. Here are a few other notes around the league:
— DJ Chark has officially been ruled out. Against a very beatable Raiders secondary, Dede Westbrook and Chris Conley are both tremendous values at receiver.
— Will Fuller is expected to play today barring a setback in warmups. This gives a boost to Deshaun Watson and a downgrade to DeAndre Hopkins.
— Bo Scarbrough is a game-time decision, but he didn’t practice on Friday and the Lions called up a running back from the practice squad. If Scarbrough is out, J.D. McKissic could be an excellent punt play on full-PPR sites.
— Adam Thielen will play this week. I didn’t have much interest in the Vikings to begin with.
— Jordan Howard is out again, which paves the way for Miles Sanders to be a nice contrarian play in tournaments. His ownership will be low due to the fact he left last week’s game early and Boston Scott came in and crushed.
— DeVante Parker and Albert Wilson will both play this week, so we can safely avoid the likes of Allen Hurns and Isaiah Ford.
— Gerald Everett has been ruled out, which is great news for Tyler Higbee, who has topped 100 yards in back-to-back games.
— Greg Olsen has been ruled out, which opens the door for Ian Thomas, who saw over 20% of the targets last week.
— Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor are both out this week. If you aren’t paying down for tight end (Higbee or Thomas), Zach Ertz might be your best bet.
— Marvin Jones has been ruled out, which should open up targets for Kenny Golladay and Danny Amendola. Both are in good spots against Tampa Bay.
— The Niners are without Richard Sherman, K’Waun Williams, and Jaquiski Tartt in their secondary today. Julio Jones is at one of the cheapest price points we’ve seen him all season and nobody’s going to play him. He’s quickly turned into my favorite tournament play at wide receiver.
Best of luck this week!
It’s hard to believe that there are only three weeks left in the regular season. Football comes and goes in the blink of an eye, which is significantly different from the other DFS sports that I write content for. Golf is year round, baseball feels like it is year round, and basketball essentially goes for nine months when you factor in the playoffs. It doesn’t feel like the NFL season started yesterday, but it feels like we are at the midpoint of the season at the latest.
We’ve reached the point of the season where we need to start considering the motivation for many of these teams. Some will be looking to tank, some will be looking to give their superstars a few extra plays off, and some will be fighting for their playoff lives. At the very least, you use the motivation factor as a tiebreaker if you are deciding between two players. We have also reached the point where injuries open up a ton of value. This makes writing a core plays article difficult early in the week, which is why coming back for the Sunday update is more important than ever.
FanDuel: $7,400 / DraftKings: $7,500 / Yahoo: $34 / F-Draft: $14,100
All the stars are aligning for Carson this week. He’s facing the league’s worst run defense and we no longer have to worry about his backup stealing carries. Rashad Penny tore his ACL last week and has been ruled out for the rest of the season. This leaves C.J. Prosise (pass-catching specialist) and Travis Homer (one carry all season) as the only backs behind Carson. Even if he fumbles early (really hoping I’m not jinxing him here), the Seahawks have no choice but to put him back out there the very next drive. We haven’t seen this secure of a role for Carson for a very long time.
After the Seahawks lost to the Rams last week, I expect them to get back to their bread and butter — their run game. The matchup should certainly lead them in that direction, as the Panthers are ranked 32nd in DVOA against the run and 30th in schedule-adjusted fantasy points allowed to running backs this season. If that’s not enough, how about the fact that they have allowed the second most rushing yards and the most yards per carry (5.3)? The only negative that I can find is that the Seahawks are playing on the road. I’m certainly willing to overlook that given the fact that Seattle is close to a touchdown favorite.
FanDuel: $8,300 / DraftKings: $7,400 / Yahoo: $26 / F-Draft: $14,600
Barkley burned me two weeks ago as a core play, but we have to forgive and forget when it comes to DFS. I was going back and fourth between Barkley and Fournette as the last core play this week and really had a tough time deciding between the two. Honestly, if Josh Jacobs ends up being out then it makes the decision a little easier because I can play both. Anyway, let’s get back to Barkley, who has not been the same since returning from his ankle injury. The explosiveness hasn’t quite been there and he hasn’t topped 100 rushing yards since Week 2.
There are certainly arguments to be made to fade Barkley, but those can be thrown out the window given a home matchup against the Dolphins. Miami is ranked 29th in DVOA against the run, dead last in rushing yards allowed, and 29th in receiving touchdowns allowed to running backs. You can’t ask for a better spot for Barkley, especially now that Eli Manning is back under center. He is constantly looking for his check downs, which is a stark contrast from Daniel Jones, who couldn’t seem to connect with Barkley in his time as the starter.
FanDuel: $6,300 / DraftKings: $4,700 / Yahoo: $16 / F-Draft: $9,200
This pick obviously hinges on the availability of Josh Jacobs. If he is able to suit up this week, I will gladly pivot to Leonard Fournette. From a roster construction standpoint, the hope is that Washington draws another start. It makes it a lot easier to build a lineup with a great value play we can rely on. You’ll notice that this is the first week in a long time that I don’t have Christian McCaffrey featured. I think we can get similar workloads with Carson, Barkley, and Fournette and they are all significantly cheaper across the industry.
As for Washington, this is pretty simple. The Jaguars have been hemorrhaging fantasy points to running backs this season. They are ranked 31st in DVOA against the run and 27th in schedule-adjusted fantasy points allowed to running backs. They are coming off of a week where they gave up massive fantasy outings to both Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler. Meanwhile, in Washington’s spot start, he played on 63% of the snaps and handled 21 touches against the Titans. Despite the tough matchup, he racked up 96 yards from scrimmage and scored a touchdown.
FanDuel: $8,400 / DraftKings: $7,700 / Yahoo: $33 / F-Draft: $14,600
Mike Evans is expected to miss the rest of the season, which should lead to a massive target share for Godwin over the last three games. I know that Jameis Winston is playing with a broken thumb on his throwing hand, but he was able to return to last week’s game and light up the Colts secondary. I certainly won’t talk anyone out of playing Breshad Perriman, Justin Watson, or O.J. Howard this week, but why pass up a sure thing? There are so very few of those when it comes to DFS. Godwin has a 22% target share on the season and that number is only going to increase over the last few weeks.
The icing on the cake is a matchup against the Lions on the fast-track in Detroit. There are many games that could be impacted by the weather this week, but we don’t have to worry about that since this game is being played indoors. The game features a high total and both teams have struggled to run the ball. This has all the makings of a shootout, so I don’t mind bringing back the Godwin play with Kenny Golladay on the other side. If you are worried about Darius Slay, I don’t expect Godwin to square off against him all that often. Godwin lines up in the slot on 55% of snaps, while Slay has only traveled in the slot on 16% of snaps this season.
FanDuel: $5,700 / DraftKings: $3,900 / Yahoo: $14 / F-Draft: $7,700
The final core play of the week also hinges on an injury. If Gerald Everett is able to return to the lineup and is expected to reclaim his role as the primary tight end in the Rams offense, I will have to look elsewhere for a cheap tight end. If Everett is out, we can fire up Higbee in all formats. He is coming off of back-to-back 100+ yard performances. While the one against the Cardinals wasn’t overly impressive given how bad they have been against tight ends, he backed it up with seven catches for 116 yards against the Seahawks.
Strangely enough, Cooper Kupp and Brandin Cooks have been phased out of the offense recently. Perhaps the most surprising stat of the season is that Kupp only played on 27% of the snaps last week even though he wasn’t injured. Over the last two games (Everett missed both), Higbee has seen a 25% target share and a 33% air yards share. Those numbers are massive for a tight end. He’s still cheap across the industry and he draws a nice matchup against the Cowboys, who are ranked 18th in schedule-adjusted fantasy points allowed to tight ends.
FanDuel Lineup Construction
Roster construction always hinges on the value that’s available come Sunday morning, but the current plan is to end up in the mid-$7,000 range at quarterback. I have my eye on Ryan Tannehill and Dak Prescott. Since taking over as the starter, Tannehill has averaged 24 fantasy points per game with one of the highest adjusted yards per attempt of any quarterback in football during that stretch. The Titans should continue to put up points against a bad Texans secondary. Prescott has averaged 28 fantasy points per game at home this season, compared to only 20 on the road. He’s cheap and the Cowboys need a big win to save their season. I’m willing to overlook a difficult matchup against the Rams.
As noted above, I’m already set at running back. I will be playing Chris Carson, Saquon Barkley, and either DeAndre Washington or Leonard Fournette. I will also have a sprinkle of Derrick Henry (vs. Houston), Phillip Lindsay (vs. Kansas City), and Kenyan Drake (vs. Cleveland) in tournaments. My favorite spend at receiver is obviously Chris Godwin. Depending on what happens with Washington, I will look to spend up or down with my other receiver spots. DeAndre Hopkins is a top play if Will Fuller is out again. Both Browns receivers are in great spots against the Cardinals, but I’ll side with Jarvis Landry, who runs routes from the slot and isn’t nursing an injury. With DJ Chark expected out, Dede Westbrook appears to be a tremendous value against the Raiders. I like pairing Godwin with Kenny Golladay and as always, Christian Kirk, D.J. Moore, and A.J. Brown are underpriced on FanDuel.
Is it just me, or is quarterback extremely tough on DraftKings this week? Patrick Mahomes and Jameis Winston are both nursing hand/thumb injuries, Russell Wilson may not need to throw more than 25 times, and there aren’t any obvious value plays. I really don’t have a strong lean this early in the week, but have my eye on Ryan Tannehill, Kyler Murray, and Dak Prescott. I hope I’ll have a better idea of what I’m doing by Sunday. Once again, I will be playing Chris Carson, Saquon Barkley, and either DeAndre Washington or Leonard Fournette at running back. I don’t expect to deviate from this plan unless we get a surprise injury late in the week and if that happens, I’ll cover it in the Sunday update.
I would like to spend up for DeAndre Hopkins again, but that will be tough on DraftKings. Even if Washington draws the start, I’m not sure I’ll be able to afford him (although I will certainly try if Will Fuller is out again). Jarvis Landry (amazing matchup against the Cardinals), Amari Cooper (unreal splits at home), and Robert Woods (35% target share over the last two weeks) are all on my radar for tournaments. For value, I’m looking at two different teams that could both be short-handed at receiver. DJ Chark sounds like he’s going to be out a while, which opens up plenty of targets for Dede Westbrook and Chris Conley against the Raiders. DeVante Parker and Albert Wilson could both miss this week’s game against the Giants, which would funnel targets to Allen Hurns and Isaiah Ford. I also have my eye on Mike Williams, who scored his first touchdown of the season last week and now gets to face a very beatable Vikings secondary.
I’m feeling good about this week. Cheers to a big Week 15!
Image Credit: USA Today Sports Images
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