Yards Per Gretch: Week 16
Ben Gretch, Editor in Chief of Fantasy Insiders, takes an ultra-high resolution look at the upcoming NFL week. If you haven’t yet been introduced to Ben’s level of thinking, get ready for great takes loaded with analytical insight.
Ten of the 24 teams on the Week 16 slate have implied totals under 21. Just six teams carry totals over 25. That makes things relatively simple. In cash games, you’ll want to jam in exposure to those high-end offenses. In tournaments, there are a lot of ways to be contrarian, and I favor a good mix of the chalkier options with some lower-ownership guys. Let’s get to the picks.
Todd Gurley sounds legitimately questionable, and I’m not sure it really matters if he plays or not because at this point it’s tough to imagine a scenario where his snap share isn’t at best significantly limited. Because of where the Rams are with their RB depth chart behind him, it sounds like C.J. Anderson will get the start if Gurley can’t go. Anderson was signed just this week, on Tuesday the 18th.
My reading of this is it makes the Rams’ passing game a bit safer from a potential blowout game script. There’s no denying they’ve stumbled a bit of late, and it follows they could use this game where they are favored by 14.5 points to get things tuned up. Even if the second half is run heavy for Anderson and company, it’s a good bet they’ll come out throwing. With Brandin Cooks likely drawing Patrick Peterson’s attention, Woods and Reynolds are my preferred targets at different price tiers, Woods for obvious reasons and Reynolds because he continues to play big snaps and see plenty of volume, including four end zone looks last week as well as an overturned touchdown where he was marked down at the 1.
I’m lumping these two backs together because we saw similar trends from their teams in Week 16. After firing John DeFilippo, Minnesota ran the ball 40 times against just 21 passes, only the second time Kirk Cousins has thrown fewer than 33 times all season. As 6-point road favorites, there’s plenty of potential for a similar game atmosphere in Week 16, something that could help Cook to a repeat of his first 20-touch game since Week 1.
Mack’s situation might be even more advantageous after the Colts ran 39 times against 27 passes in a 23-0 route over Dallas last week, including a season-high 27 rushes for Mack himself. While Cook ceded 15 carries to Latavius Murray, Mack’s backup Nyheim Hines rushed just 6 times in Week 15. As a 9.5-point home favorite, Mack looks in line for another 20-carry game.
Jamaal Williams @NYJ
In a week where there are a ton of viable RB options, Jamaal Williams is one I’ll play on some sites but potentially fade on others. He’s relatively cheaper on FanDuel than on DraftKings — and he’s dirt cheap on Yahoo! — as pricing was set after the in-game injury to Aaron Jones but before it was clear he was headed to IR.
Williams should have the backfield to himself. Jones went down early last week, finishing with a 10% snap share, and Williams played an 87% share in his stead, fourth-highest among all RBs last week. The only other back on the roster is Kapri Bibbs, who was with Washington earlier this month and will be active for Green Bay for the first time in Week 16, so another 80%+ share is likely in store for Williams. Of course, Williams isn’t the most talented back in the league, and Green Bay travels to New York as just 2.5-point road favorites. He’s a high-floor play that does have some ceiling but isn’t among my favorite tournament plays of the week.
Phillip Dorsett vs. BUF
After playing at least 60% of the snaps in each of the first five weeks, two of which he finished with at least 55 yards and a score, Phillip Dorsett hasn’t hit 25% in any game for over two-and-a-half months. Chris Hogan is coming off a game where he scored a long touchdown due to a complete coverage breakdown, and will likely draw more ownership in the absence of Josh Gordon. But Hogan’s been playing solid snaps and not producing for most of the year, while it was Dorsett who Gordon more directly replaced, and also Dorsett who was the better producer when he and Hogan were the starting wideouts earlier in the year. I expect Julian Edelman to have a solid day out of the slot, where Buffalo is weaker, but Dorsett is looking at a potentially full role outside at stone min pricing (or $100 above it in FanDuel’s case). It’s not a play for the faint of heart, and it’s not even clear Dorsett will play ahead of Cordarrelle Patterson, but the Patriots need to replace their vertical threat and Dorsett’s my pick to take over Gordon’s vacated air yards, making him a potential difference-maker in large-field GPPs.
Touchdowns Per Gretch
One of my favorite ways to gain context about implied team totals is to apply team scoring tendencies for both the offense and opposing defense. Let’s take a look at a couple interesting Week 16 notes.
New England Patriots (28.75 implied points) vs. BUF
Though Rex Burkhead is back, Sony Michel has remained the early-down grinder for New England. Over the last three games with Burkhead in the lineup, Michel has accounted for just over 60% of the RB rush attempts, just under 17 per game. The Patriots have also lost two of those games, but return home as 13.5-point favorites against a Bills team that has allowed the third-highest percentage of points against via rushing scores, a number that helps New England to the second-highest rushing TD projection of the slate behind only the Rams.
I’m not buying James Develin will continue to vulture TDs ad nauseum — his opportunities have come on fullback dives where a halfback is in the game — and Michel has touchdowns in four of his five highest-volume games this season. If this game plays out like the line implies, we’re likely looking at 20-plus carries for Michel and a chance to end his three-game scoreless drought.
Per Gretch: Sony Michel scores
Dallas Cowboys (27.5 implied points) vs. TB
I don’t need to elaborate too much on why Ezekiel Elliott is a great Week 16 play, but it’s worth noting that the Cowboys fall right behind the Patriots with the third-highest rush TD projection of the slate, thanks in part to Tampa’s 17 rush TDs allowed, tied for third most in the NFL.
With workloads for some top backs uncertain, Zeke’s a cash lock this week.
Per Gretch: Ezekiel Elliott scores twice
New Orleans Saints (29 implied points) vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (23.5 implied points)
Many of the higher implied totals have scoring projections that favor rushing TDs, something that propels the Steelers, despite their status as 5.5-point underdogs, to the second-highest passing TD equity on the Week 16 slate. The top projection goes to their Week 16 opponent, New Orleans.
This game will be a popular stack, but if prior scoring patterns are any indication it should live up to the hype. That it comes one week after Pittsburgh and New England failed to deliver in a similar afternoon spot might help spread ownership off this game just a bit more than we saw for that one last week.
That’s it for this week. Good luck in your Week 16 contests!
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