NFL

FanDuel Daily Fantasy Football Helper: Week 15

Welcome to our weekly FanDuel daily fantasy football helper, where we give you an overview of the Sunday main slate to help you get started on your research. As always, we recommend checking out all of numberFire's premium tools at your disposal. In particular, the heat map is a great way to get a general overview of the slate's implied totals, and every team's strengths and weaknesses. You also have access to numberFire's weekly projections, which can assist you in nailing down who might be the slate's top scorers and best values.

Now, let's run through some of this week's top plays on the FanDuel main slate.

Quarterbacks

Patrick Mahomes ($8,300 on FanDuel): Patrick Mahomes is dealing with a hand injury and has underwhelmed by his standards the last three games, but all that could lower his ownership from the heights we might normally expect on a Lamar Jackson-less slate. numberFire's projections still peg Mahomes at the top quarterback play in both raw points and point-per-dollar value in a home matchup against Denver.

While the Broncos are no slouches on defense, ranking sixth against the pass in Adjusted Defensive Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per play, this is still a far easier spot than last week's brutal road date with the Patriots. The Chiefs have one of the week's highest implied totals (27.50), and there could also be some sneaky shootout potential here, as Drew Lock ($7,400) has breathed new life into this Denver attack after pulling off an upset over the Texans last week.

Deshaun Watson ($8,200): If Mahomes' injury worries you, then Deshaun Watson is a fine pivot at right around the same price. Watson's rushing upside continues to enhance his ceiling, as his seven rushing scores are tied with Lamar Jackson for second-most among quarterbacks (Josh Allen leads with eight).

Like Mahomes, he's had some ups and downs this season, but Watson's coming off back-to-back spike weeks against the Broncos and Pats, and he could also find himself in a shootout against the Titans, who have improved immensely on offense with Ryan Tannehill as the starter. After opening with a 47.5 over/under, this game has jumped up to 51.5 on FanDuel Sportsbook, the highest on the board as of Friday.

Kyler Murray ($7,600): Among quarterbacks priced under $8,000, Ryan Tannehill ($7,600) and Dak Prescott ($7,800) both deserve consideration, but don't rule out Kyler Murray having a strong performance, too. As noted in this week's season-long start or sit piece, mobile quarterbacks have excelled against Cleveland this season, providing Murray with a golden opportunity to bounce back after a pair of modest outings. This is also another game where the total has moved favorably, going from 46.5 to 49.0 on FanDuel Sportsbook.

Running Backs

Christian McCaffrey ($10,400): After actually failing to score 20 FanDuel points in two straight games (and he still managed 19 last week), Christian McCaffrey finally gets a price drop, though he remains the most expensive player across all positions. He's averaged 12.5 rushes and 12.0 targets while rarely missing a snap over this "down stretch," so there's little reason to think he can't have another one of his monster games against Seattle. The Seahawks are average versus the run but really struggle against pass-catching backs, ranking 30th in Target Success Rate allowed to the position.

Dalvin Cook ($8,500): Dalvin Cook projects favorably against the Chargers, who rank 21st in schedule-adjusted run defense. Coming off a chest injury, Cook was rested late in an easy win over the Lions last week, resulting in a mere 46.6% snap rate, but he still tallied 20 opportunities and backup Alexander Mattison has already been ruled out for Week 15. Cook should see his usual compliment of snaps in what's expected to be a more tightly contested game (Minnesota is a 1.5-point road favorite).

Saquon Barkley ($8,300): Even if we throw out Saquon Barkley's injury-shortened Week 3, he's reached 20 FanDuel points only twice in nine healthy games, the last of which came in Week 8. No, it hasn't been the follow-up campaign most expected, but the Dolphins could help Barkley turn things around for at least one week. Miami ranks 25th in both Adjusted Defensive Rushing NEP per play and FanDuel points allowed to running backs. They also haven't defended passes to opposing backs well, sitting 27th in Target Success Rate allowed to them. It all adds up to Barkley coming out as the best point-per-dollar back in numberFire's projections this week.

Leonard Fournette ($7,700): Leonard Fournette has seemingly been a mid-range value all season, averaging a fantastic 18.1 rushes and 6.7 targets per game but rarely hitting his ceiling. Even with that elite usage, inconsistent quarterback play and just plain poor luck have led to Fournette scoring just three touchdowns this year. However, the Raiders are an ideal opponent for Fournette to take advantage of, ranking 24th in Adjusted Defensive Rushing NEP per play and 31st in Target Success Rate given up to opposing backfields.

Chris Carson ($7,400): Rashaad Penny is out for the season, so this is Chris Carson's backfield again, and he should tear up a Panthers defense that's been shredded by running backs all season. The Panthers are far and away the worst run defense in numberFire's schedule-adjust metrics, so it's no surprise they've also allowed the most FanDuel points to running backs, which includes a league-high 21 rushing touchdowns. Even with Carson's occasional fumbling issues and Penny's emergence late in the season, Carson has averaged a robust 18.9 carries and 3.4 targets across 13 games.

Wide Receivers

DeAndre Hopkins ($8,600): DeAndre Hopkins faces a banged-up Titans secondary that lost Malcolm Butler weeks ago and will be without Adoree' Jackson (foot) in Week 15. Tennessee ranks 24th in Target Success Rate allowed to wide receivers this season, and that's dropped to 27th since Week 7. Hopkins needs little introduction, of course, sporting a 31.0% target share and 37.2% air yards share for Houston this year.

Chris Godwin ($8,400): Mike Evans is done for the season, so it stands to reason that Chris Godwin should see extra looks in Tampa Bay's pass-heavy offense the rest of the way. Godwin may have to contend with cornerback Darius Slay, but this Lions defense is nothing to shy away from, ranking 23rd in schedule-adjusted pass defense this year and 29th in Target Success Rate given up to wideouts since Week 7. Quarterback Jameis Winston ($8,200) is dealing with a thumb injury on his throwing hand, but he's coming off a massive Week 14 performance and is already confirmed as the starter this weekend.

Tyreek Hill ($7,900): Among the higher-priced wideouts, Tyreek Hill shakes out as one of the best point-per-dollar plays in numberFire's projections, and in his three healthy games since Mahomes' return in Week 10, he's seen 19, 8, and 8 targets. That 19-target game came in a shootout against Tennessee where Mahomes aired it out 50 times, showing us Hill's immense ceiling if Mahomes is indeed healthy and Drew Lock can make a game of it on Sunday.

A.J. Brown ($6,200): A.J. Brown has been making a lot of noise lately, dropping a 4/135/1 line in Week 12 and 5/153/2 in Week 14. Since the Titans' bye week, he's now logged a 24.6% target share and 34.5% air yards share over the last three games. A possible back-and-forth affair awaits against the Texans, who rank 25th in Adjusted Defensive Passing NEP per play. It's worth noting that despite all of Tannehill's success, he's thrown below 30 passes in five of seven starts, which does potentially lower Brown's floor.

Christian Kirk ($6,100): Christian Kirk projects as the slate's top value play, boasting a 26.6% target share and 39.8% air yards share since coming back from injury in Week 8. The Browns have a pretty stout pass defense, but Kirk converted 8-of-9 targets for 85 yards last week against an even tougher Steelers defense. He only has three scores on the season -- all of which came in one game -- but the rising over/under for this game is a positive sign that he can get back in the touchdown column.

Tight Ends

Travis Kelce ($7,300): The Chiefs have one of the highest implied totals on the board, so it doesn't come as much of a shocker that Travis Kelce checks in as the top tight end in numberFire's projections, both in terms of raw points and point-per-dollar value. Although Kelce has surprisingly reached 20 FanDuel points just once this season, it's hard to find more consistent volume from a tight end, as he's notched at least eight targets in 11 of 13 games and leads the position in both red zone targets (16) and targets inside the 10-yard line (11). Another spike week could be in the cards before season's end.

Ian Thomas ($5,300) and Mike Gesicki ($5,200): Oakland's Darren Waller ($6,200) is a solid value again this week, but if you're looking to punt the position, then Ian Thomas and Mike Gesicki are possibilities. Greg Olsen has already been ruled out this week, and Thomas performed well in his absence in Week 14, logging an 85.9% snap rate and catching 5-of-10 targets for 57 yards and a score. He gets a Seattle defense that ranks 18th in Target Success Rate allowed to tight ends and has given up the second-most FanDuel points to the position.

Meanwhile, Gesicki has averaged a little over six targets over the five games since Preston Williams was ruled out for the year. He would get a boost if DeVante Parker and/or Albert Wilson can't clear the concussion protocol, although both players practiced on Friday, suggesting they'll be good to go this weekend.

Additionally, Tyler Higbee ($5,700) is an option with Gerald Everett ruled out, and you could always roll the dice with O.J. Howard ($5,700), who could have an increased role with Mike Evans out.

Defenses

Philadelphia D/ST ($4,900): The New England D/ST ($5,000) -- numberFire's top overall schedule-adjusted defense -- is naturally a top-notch option against Cincinnati, but Philadelphia actually projects as the top-scoring defense in numberFire's model.

The defenses of both Green Bay (7.0 FanDuel points) and Carolina (6.0) have underwhelmed against Washington the last two weeks, but Dwayne Haskins is still a quarterback we want to attack. Washington is a run-first team that's limited Haskins' pass attempts, but the Eagles are solid 4.5-point road favorites, and if they can get out to an early lead and force Haskins to throw, good things could happen. Haskins has only has attempted 160 passes this season (Eli Manning already has 116 in just three games), yet has thrown 7 picks and been sacked 26 times.

Kansas City D/ST ($3,900): Among the lower-priced defenses, Kansas City is enticing as a 9.5-point home favorite over Denver. As mentioned earlier, Drew Lock could actually make some noise after performing well last week, but this is just his third ever start, and a road game in Arrowhead is no easy task. If we get peak Mahomes going this weekend, then Lock will be forced into airing it out against a Chiefs defense that ranks fifth in Adjusted Defensive Passing NEP per play and eighth in adjusted sack rate, per Football Outsiders.