FanDuel Daily Fantasy Football Helper: Week 15
Welcome to our weekly FanDuel NFL primer, 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 daily fantasy tools at your disposal. In particular, our weekly projections can help you nail down who might be the slate's top scorers and best values, while 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.
Now, let's run through some of this week's top plays of the slate.
Patrick Mahomes ($8,900 on FanDuel): Even in a game where Patrick Mahomes struggled early against a tough Miami defense and finished with 3 picks, he still racked up 393 passing yards and 2 scores on his way to 21.62 FanDuel points. He's demonstrated a fantastic floor this season, dropping below 19 FanDuel points only once, and that was largely due to taking a backseat in a blowout win over Denver. Meanwhile, Mahomes' ceiling is obvious, and he and Aaron Rodgers remain in a class of their own in Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per drop back. A 51.5 total and tight spread between Kansas City and New Orleans signify a potential Sunday shootout.
Lamar Jackson ($8,200): In a wild Monday night game against the Browns, Lamar Jackson posted his best FanDuel score of the season (34.92 points), and that was despite missing some snaps late due to cramps. However, it's the first time he's exceeded 30 FanDuel points all year, and the passing upside continues to be limited, with just 17 pass attempts to each of the last two games. Realistically, we need close to 100 yards on the ground and a rushing score for a tournament-winning performance. Luckily, he's up against the Jaguars, who rank 25th overall in schedule-adjusted defense, per numberFire's metrics, and are expected to get crushed by the Ravens as 12.5-point road underdogs. There's clear blowout risk, but it may not matter if Jackson piles up the rushing stats in the first half. He's the top point-per-dollar quarterback in this week's projections.
Jalen Hurts ($6,900): I'm a little skeptical of Jalen Hurts' likelihood of putting up a GPP-worthy score after throwing for just 167 yards in his first NFL start, but 18 carries for 106 rushing yards will certainly get our attention at this salary. The Cardinals' middle-of-the-road defense should be easier to throw against than the Saints, and they've also allowed the sixth-most rushing yards to quarterbacks. Arizona's notoriously fast pace always ups the possibility of a high-scoring contest, too, and the total for this game has crept up to 49.5 over the course of the week.
Derrick Henry ($10,200): With Matthew Stafford unlikely to play this weekend, the Titans are 10.5-point home favorites over the Lions, and this just feels like another one of those games where Derrick Henry bulldozes his way to a boatload of points. Detroit ranks 29th in adjusted rush defense and has allowed the most FanDuel points per game to opposing running backs. If the Lions struggle on offense behind Chase Daniel, it could be lights out by halftime, and Henry is the most likely way the Titans get there. We know the floor is low for Henry due to his lack of targets, but it's hard to see a scenario where he's in a negative game script like we saw a couple of weeks back against Cleveland.
Dalvin Cook ($9,400): After tallying 18.0 FanDuel points against Tampa Bay's top-ranked adjusted run defense in Week 14, we should be even more confident in Dalvin Cook's floor moving forward. He gets another tough matchup this week versus Chicago, who are 10th against the run in our metrics, but Minnesota has a solid 25.00 implied team total as slight home favorites, and Cook should continue to see a massive workload. Per Jim Sannes, Cook is averaging 30.9 adjusted opportunities over his 11 full games -- i.e. valuing targets twice that of carries -- which tops the relevant samples of all backs on the slate.
Jonathan Taylor ($7,400): Following the top two running backs, the waters start to get a little murkier, with some of the most intriguing options requiring a lead of faith in recent workload bumps. The Colts' backfield has been a headache for much of the season, but Jonathan Taylor has now seen 24.3 adjusted opportunities over the last three games with a 53.3% snap rate, and he's coming off a season-high 29.5 FanDuel points against the Raiders. It sure looks like Taylor has finally established himself as Indianapolis' lead back, and he has a fantastic opportunity to produce against Houston, which ranks 26th in adjusted run defense and has allowed the second-most FanDuel points per game to running backs.
Cam Akers ($6,700): Much like Taylor, Cam Akers is another rookie seeing a late-season surge, coming off a head-turning performance against the Patriots by piling up 194 yards from scrimmage on a season-high 79.4% snap rate. Over the last two games, Akers has actually averaged 29.0 adjusted opportunities, which would place him in the range of Cook and Henry. Of course, given this is the Rams we're talking about, who have typically been taking a committee approach, we probably still need to temper expectations, but if this recent trend continues, Akers could have a strong day against the Jets. Although New York is ninth in adjusted run defense, with the Rams sitting pretty as 17.5-point favorites, Akers will almost certainly benefit from a positive game script.
Tyreek Hill ($9,300): Davante Adams is off the main slate, leaving Tyreek Hill as the wideout projected for the most points this week. Although New Orleans is fourth in adjusted pass defense, other tough defenses like Miami and Tampa Bay haven't been able to contain Hill lately, who has exceeded 20 FanDuel points in five of the past six games. Since Week 9, Hill is averaging 13 targets per game with a 30% target share and 41% air yards share.
DeAndre Hopkins ($8,600): Although DeAndre Hopkins' fantasy results have been pretty up and down, his volume has remained fairly consistent with Arizona, averaging just under 10 targets per game with a 29% target share and 32% air yards share. The Eagles rank 26th in Target Success Rate allowed to wide receivers, and even if Darius Slay (concussion) is able to play and shadows Hopkins, he hasn't been a matchup to fear this season. There have been concerns over Kyler Murray's health in recent weeks, but with Hopkins coming off a 9-reception, 136-yard performance against the Giants, we should be confident in Hopkins' upside moving forward.
Allen Robinson ($7,300): Allen Robinson has enjoyed fantastic volume all season, but his upside has typically felt limited on a stagnant Bears offense. Yet Mitchell Trubisky of all people has jumpstarted this offense, producing 0.17 Passing NEP per drop back (the 2020 league average is 0.13) over three starts since retaking quarterbacking duties from Nick Foles. That's helped Robinson to 23.4, 10.5, and 22.8 FanDuel points over that span while averaging 11 targets per game. This Bears-Vikings game has a respectable 46.5 total and a small spread, and Chicago has quickened their pace lately, so this could prove to be a better fantasy-scoring environment than expected. Minnesota has allowed the third-most FanDuel points per game to wide receivers.
Brandon Aiyuk ($6,900): With Deebo Samuel injured on his first snap in Week 14, Brandon Aiyuk would go on to see a whopping 16 targets against Washington, leading to 10 receptions for 119 yards. Samuel may not return this season, leaving Aiyuk on track for another massive workload against the Cowboys. Dallas ranks 22nd in adjusted pass defense and has given up the fourth-most FanDuel points per game to wide receivers. Along with Allen Robinson, Aiyuk projects as one of the better point-per-dollar wideouts this weekend.
Travis Kelce ($8,500): A tougher spot against Miami did nothing to slow Travis Kelce down, who produced his eighth game with at least 19 FanDuel points. He's now averaging 17.08 points per game, which places him fifth on the slate among all flex-eligible players. Kelce also leads all pass-catchers -- including wide receivers -- with 1,250 receiving yards and only needs 128 to set the single-season record for tight ends. Particularly with Darren Waller off the main slate, no one at the position is in the same stratosphere as Kelce.
Cole Kmet ($5,100): While Mark Andrews ($6,800) projects as the best point-per-dollar value at tight end, his floor remains iffy at this salary considering how little Lamar Jackson has thrown the ball lately. If you're not opting for Kelce, there's a strong argument towards maximizing your savings at the position, and Cole Kmet fits the bill after back-to-back games with seven targets. Although it was Jimmy Graham who caught a touchdown last week, Kmet has clearly established himself as Chicago's lead tight end, as he's out-snapped Graham in four straight games and saw a season-high 85.0% snap rate in Week 14. Minnesota ranks 31st in Target Success Rate allowed to tight ends, so perhaps we see Kmet convert his opportunities into more FanDuel points this week.
Tampa Bay D/ST ($4,000): If you've got the cash to spend, then the Los Angeles Rams D/ST ($5,000) and Baltimore D/ST ($4,800) are easy to like as strong defensive units that are double-digit favorites over weak opponents. Otherwise, hopping down the list to Tampa Bay isn't a bad idea since Matt Ryan will be without Julio Jones (hamstring). In his four games without Jones, Ryan has averaged 218.3 passing yards per game while throwing 4 touchdowns to 6 interceptions. He's tallied -0.02 Passing NEP per drop back in those games, meaning he's actually hurt his team more often than not on passing plays. The Bucs have the fourth-best overall defense in numberFire's metrics.
Tennessee D/ST ($3,900): Assuming Matthew Stafford is out, we can take advantage of the Titans' matchup versus career backup Chase Daniel. The 34-year-old will be making just his sixth NFL start. He made three starts for the Bears from 2018-19 and averaged 248.7 passing yards with a combined 5 touchdowns, 4 interceptions, and 13 sacks. Tennessee has a below-average defense, but as big home favorites, the game script should lead to sacks and potential turnovers.