Mike's Musings (Week 15 NFL Edition)

After stepping away from NFL for a bit, I’m back baby. I thought NBA would dominate my time, but the last few NFL Sunday slates have been pulling at me. And week 15 is no different. I like this slate quite a bit. Lots of games that matter. Numerous games of bad teams versus bad teams. No real weather issues (but seriously, this is NFL football, there are material weather issues like once every two years). The Patriots play the Bengals after clearly spying on them. And for you Patriots fans who will rip that statement, think about this. What does it say about this Patriots team that they are worried enough about the Bengals that they need to spy on them? It will be fun to see the Patriots go out early in the playoffs this year. But before then, they will likely beat the Bengals 38-7. As a Packers fan, I am looking forward to another matchup with the Bears. Hopefully Mitch Trubisky does Mitch Trubisky like things and the Packers win 20-3. Anyways, lots of games/players to consider this weekend. Let’s get into it.

I have started looking at slates from a macro perspective versus a micro perspective. That is, I analyze the slate from a top down direction and let that guide my picks. Previously, I built my lineup from a micro perspective when I looked first at individual players and assessed their relative value, then looked at the matchup. This week, being week 15 and close to the end of the season, I think games that matter are more important than usual. Teams are playing to either get into the playoffs or position themselves better for their playoff run. I don’t actually think that players play any harder in these games than they did earlier in the season; however, I certainly think they are playing harder than those players on teams that are way out of it and may have quit. Hello Jacksonville Jaguars. Hello Carolina Panthers. Hello Arizona Cardinals. Hello Atlanta Falcons. So ideally, I’d like to target players on the teams that are playing for something while avoiding the crap teams. For example, Kyler Murray is likely to be the highest owned QB on DraftKings this week as he is priced at $5.6k. I will be 100% fading him because the Cardinals are clearly a bad team with a bad coach and bad players. I want no part of that. So, what plays can we discover by starting from the top and making our way to the bottom (hey, that sounds like a song)?

1) So many games that matter. Chicago at Green Bay. Houston at Tennessee. Denver at Kansas City. Los Angeles Rams at Dallas. Philly at Washington. Seattle at Carolina. MInnesota at Los Angeles Chargers. Atlanta at San Francisco. Not every team here is still in the running, but you can see that each game has at least one team playing for something.

2) QB choice seems obvious this week. Can I interest you in a QB who is in a game that matters, matched up against a pass funnel defense, taking on a pass defense that is in the bottom ten and always runs the ball well? Kyler Murray you say. No f’ing way. It is DeShaun Watson. I can’t get away from him this weekend versus Tennessee in what could turn into an up-and-down game.

3) So many RBs, so few slots for RBs on DK and FD. You can play three RBs on DK and FD if you use the flex spot for one. I wish they had six spots for RBs this week. Chris Carson as essentially the only RB on the Seahawks versus a bottom three rushing defense. Todd Gurley at $6k on DK against an ok Cowboys defense as the Rams are starting to ramp up the running game. Saquon Barkley against the terrible Dolphins. Josh Jacobs and Dwayne Washington versus the worst rush defense in the league of the Jacksonville Jaguars. A cheap Patrick Laird against a porous Giants defense that gives it up to RBs both on the ground and in the air. Christian McCaffery any week, though I do worry about his carries this week. I know these options are chalky, but this is an eat the chalk type of week at running back.

4) Many wide receivers in great positions. DeAndre Hopkins is the guy to pair with DeShaun Watson this week against that poor Tennessee pass defense. Kenny Golladay is the only real Lions receiving option against the worst pass defense in the league of Tampa. Odell Beckham is hurt (both his body and his emotions), so you have to look at Jarvis Landry versus the bad, bad Cardinals. Dj Chark is out, so guys like Dede Westbrook, Chris Conley and Keelan Cole are cheap options against the horrible Raiders pass D. Again chalky, but these are exceptional options this week.

5) Save at Tight End. You won’t be sorry. Play Ian Thomas at $3.1k on DK or $3.8k Tyler Higbee. Both of these tight ends are their teams’ only options, both are playing against defenses that stinks versus the TE and both will likely be focal points of the offense this week. Don’t pay up for TEs this week.

6) Pay way up or way down at Defense. If you want to play up, play the Patriots versus the bad Bengals or the 49ers at home versus the Falcons. Or pay way down for the Lions as they welcome Jameis the Turnover Machine to Detroit. Plus, Jameis has a broken thumb on his throwing hand. Don’t be fooled by his adrenaline fueled amazing second half last week, this week it will be different.

Good luck in all your contests on Sunday.

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