12/26 Saturday Slate Breakdown
It’s the time of year for Saturday football and we’ve got a nice little 3 game slate that I’m going to break down for you. This article will be specifically geared toward single entry and 3 entry max GPPs on DraftKings, so be sure to keep that in mind as you follow along. I’ll go position by position and then give my thoughts on overall strategy for the slate. Let’s get to it!
Your first decision point of the slate is going to be whether or not to roster Kyler Murray. He clearly offers the highest floor/ceiling combination of any QB on the slate, the Cardinals need to win this game, the 49ers have nothing left to play for, and this game should be played at a fast pace (the Cardinals and 49ers are the 4th and 13th fastest respectively). It’s not particularly difficult to pair Murray with DeAndre Hopkins either, and I fully expect that to be the highest owned stack on the slate. You can make a case for fading Kyler if you have someone worth fading him for, which brings us to Tom Brady.
Brady is arguably the only other QB who can match Kyler’s upside in terms of raw points, he’s coming in at $700 less and should be lower owned. The Bucs seem to be in a better spot than the Cardinals too, as they also need a win against a team with nothing to play for, but their implied team total is 5 points higher and the match up against Detroit couldn’t be better. Maybe people are reluctant to play Brady because they don’t want to play him in the same lineup as Leonard Fournette, who will be very popular, or maybe it’s because Brady spreads the ball around and it’s harder to choose who to stack him with. Regardless of the reasoning, Brady makes for an excellent pivot off of Murray.
After Murray and Brady, we start to sacrifice some upside with the other QB plays, all of whom I expect to be less than 10-15% owned. Matthew Stafford has shown flashes of upside this season with 2 games over 25 DK points, and he is in the type of situation where he may have a ceiling game against a pass funnel defense as a home underdog. If you need the savings, Stafford is a reasonable target at only $5600.
You could make a case for Tua Tagovailoa if all of his weapons are active and healthy, as he has shown 30 point upside and draws a favorable match up against the Raiders. I think his pass catchers will all go under owned since they are all questionable in the late game, making this a possible sneaky stack. His target tree is relatively condensed too, making it easy to pair him with Devante Parker and Mike Gesicki. The only issue here would be the lack of late swap options if they were ultimately inactive.
In SE/3 Max, my list ends there, as I have no interest in C.J. Beathard at the helm of a run first offense, and I don’t trust Derek Carr in a difficult match up coming back (possibly too soon) from injury.
As is often the case on short slates, RB is not very deep, but there are also no spend up options on this slate. Your second decision point of the slate will probably be whether or not to roster Josh Jacobs. It’s been established that the Raiders want to run Jacobs when they’re leading or they fall behind and he gets scripted out of the game. Miami has a reputation as a run funnel defense, so this seemingly sets up as a good spot for Jacobs, who has multiple TD upside in any match up. This is just a guess, but it’s conceivable that the Raiders could try to ride Jacobs a bit more than normal with Carr coming back from injury. That being said, he also projects as the highest owned RB, and has a wide range of possible outcomes, so there is always a case for fading him.
D’Andre Swift’s snap share has been on rise, but he draws a tough match up in a game where the Lions are 9.5 point underdogs. He will certainly catch his fair share of passes to help raise his floor, but I think there are questions about his ceiling in this match up, and the projections seem to agree. I prefer finding the extra $200 for Jacobs or dropping down to the next tier of RBs.
Leonard Fournette was a polarizing option last week and most would say he got lucky with two 1 yard TD runs. While he draws a very favorable match up against the Lions in a game where the Bucs are expected to be leading, Fournette is projecting surprisingly poorly. I think he is a fine if unspectacular play with a lower ceiling than most people would think, if you trust the projections.
Myles Gaskin and Salvon Ahmed will both be active for this game, and projections suggest that Gaskin will reclaim the starting role. If you believe he will slide right back into 18-20 touches, he is underpriced at only $5300. I think Ahmed’s role warrants some consideration though, as we do not actually know how this backfield will shake out. It is conceivable that Gaskin is the 1A to Ahmed’s 1B, capping the upside for both. Projected to be the second highest owned RB on the slate, that uncertainty gives me pause. That being said, I like him better than Fournette.
Jeff Wilson Jr. is flying under the radar and I’m not sure why. The 49ers are a run first team and they just lost Raheem Mostert for the season. He is the clear lead back and has a path to 16-20 touches along with goal line work. He has 4,3,and 5 targets over his last 3 games and the 49ers could rely even more heavily on the run with C.J Beathard under center. He might not be the safest option in terms of floor, but the upside is certainly there.
The Cardinals are employing a near 50/50 split in terms of snaps between Kenyan Drake and Chase Edmonds, with the former seeing more rushing attempts and the latter getting more targets. Kyler is always a threat to vulture goal line work, which caps their upside along with the split work. I think they are both thin plays for SE/3 Max, though Drake in particular makes for a strong leverage play off of Kyler-Nuk stacks.
DeAndre Hopkins has the highest floor/ceiling combination of any WR on the slate and it isn’t really close. It isn’t really a secret either, as he projects as the highest owned player on the slate. Pricing is somewhat soft on this slate due to the RB value, easily allowing you to fit Nuk into your lineups. That makes him a really tough fade for me, even at that ownership. At the same time, that’s what everyone will be thinking, which gives you the opportunity to fade a highly owned player at a volatile position. Christian Kirk is always a threat to catch a deep pass but boy has he been bad recently. Maybe this is the week it all comes together.
Brandon Aiyuk has been putting up strong numbers with sub par QB play all season and I don’t expect C.J. Beathard to change that. The return of George Kittle could eat into his volume slightly, but Aiyuk is still likely to see 10 targets in a negative game script. His price has crept up to more appropriate levels, but he is still a strong play. Kendrick Bourne is a reasonable punt, but at his price, I’d rather go down to one of the Lions WRs.
What to do with the Tampa Bay WRs? One thing that stands out to me is the monstrous red zone usage for both Mike Evans and Rob Gronkowski, who have seen 14 and 12 end zone targets respectively. Evans + Gronk would be my preferred pairing with Brady, with Godwin coming in next. You could even use all 3 and try to capture a huge outlier performance from Brady.
Marvin Jones is the Lions receiver I want and his price inexplicably went down to $4900 after a 30.2 DK point explosion last week. Over the past 3 weeks, he is averaging a 27.6% target share and a 41.3% air yards share. He is the preferred bring back in a Brady stack over Swift, though he will certainly garner some ownership due to his recent performance. If you need the savings, or you’re trying to be different with your stack, you could make a case for Danny Amendola or Mohamed Sanu, but they’re not likely to exceed 20 DK points.
Nelson Agholor should see at least 6-8 targets, but the match up is tough and the Raiders are expected to take a run heavy approach. Aside from his Hail Mary catch, Henry Ruggs has not produced a worthwhile fantasy effort since Week 5. I would only consider Agholor as leverage off of Jacobs and Waller since he figures to come in at pretty low ownership.
DeVante Parker is questionable and is playing in the night game, which should depress his ownership. He is projecting reasonably well and I think he can he used in Tua stacks or as a bring back to Jacobs or Waller. If he is out, “(player-popup #lynn-bowden-jr)Lynn Bowden Jr becomes an excellent punt at $3900. You’ll just have to work out a late swap contingency to allow that to happen.
You have Darren Waller and then you have everybody else. Whether or not to pay up for Waller might make or break your slate. His price is all the way up to $7000, but we know he has 30+ point upside. He does have a wide range of possible outcomes and TE is the most volatile position aside from defense, so a fade is certainly viable, but do so at your own risk.
George Kittle is returning and is reportedly going to be on a snap count, but this is mitigated somewhat by his price, which is down at $5000. I think it’s reasonable to wonder how hard the 49ers will push Kittle in a game that is meaningless to them. At the same time, you might only need 12-15 points to win the TE position and Kittle can get that in one or two drives.
T.J. Hockenson has been the model of consistency and limited upside. He is very likely to score between 10-15 points and is probably the safest option of all the TEs in that regard, albeit without upside for much more.
As with DeVante Parker, I expect Mike Gesicki ownership to be depressed since he is questionable in the night game. He has been Tua’s favorite target recently in what is a pretty condensed target tree. If Parker were to sit, Gesicki would soak up those targets making him a smash play.
Rob Gronkowski figures to come in at single digit ownership after 2 weak performances in a row. He certainly has upside for 20 DK points and is firmly in play as a part of Brady or Stafford stacks.
I like the idea of game stacking or over correlating on small slates. Of course, this depends on the contest you’re entering, as game stacking is more conducive to smaller field tournaments. This would mean taking the QB/RB/WR and maybe one more pass catcher and even the defense from the same team. Then you could use players from the other games who are capable of capturing most of their team’s offensive production, like Josh Jacobs or Darren Waller. The obvious game to stack is TB-DET and it’s not very hard to do given the prices. I think it’s even reasonable to pair Brady with 3 of his pass catchers hoping for a ceiling game. Or you could play Brady/Fournette + 2 pass catchers as a way to differentiate from the Fournette chalk.
The one that I think will go overlooked is the MIA-LVR game. The Dolphins still need a win, and as I alluded to above, I think Tua and his weapons all come in under owned due to their injury concerns. The Raiders have allowed at least 28 points in 5 consecutive games and the path to stacking MIA is clear with a condensed target tree. I think a Tua/Gaskin/Parker/Gesicki game stack is firmly in play, you just have to hope they score something like 35 or more points. You will also have to figure out a late swap contingency plan, as it looks like Parker and Gesicki are true game time decisions.
I think Kyler-Nuk stacks will be the most popular on the slate, so if you go that route, make sure to differentiate your lineup elsewhere.
That’s all I have for you today. Good luck in your GPPs; I hope to see you (hopefully below me) on the leaderboards!