FanDuel Daily Fantasy Football Helper: Week 16
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 the top plays in Week 16.
Justin Herbert ($8,400 on FanDuel): We're getting another main slate that's lacking much in the way of high over/unders, and several top quarterbacks are in tough spots this weekend. Patrick Mahomes' outlook remains in flux with the Chiefs enduring a COVID-19 outbreak, Josh Allen faces a tough New England defense for the second time this month, and Tom Brady just lost a bunch of his top weapons to injury on Sunday night.
On the other hand, Herbert finds himself in a cushy matchup against the Texans, a team that ranks 28th in schedule-adjusted pass defense, per numberFire's metrics. Despite being on the road, the Chargers are 10.0-point favorites and enjoy the slate's highest implied team total (27.75).
Herbert was more of a boom-or-bust option for the first half of the season, but he's exhibited far more consistency of late, posting over 20 FanDuel points in five straight games. He's now second among quarterbacks in FanDuel points per game (23.6) behind only Josh Allen.
His results are backed by both volume and efficiency in the passing game. Herbert is averaging the fourth-most pass attempts per game (38.7) while also ranking eighth among starting quarterbacks in Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per drop back. It doesn't hurt that he isn't a zero as a runner, as well, chipping in 20.3 rushing yards per game.
According to numberFire's model, Herbert is projected for the most points at the position this week.
Matthew Stafford ($7,900): This week's Rams-Vikings matchup is the closest thing we have to a potential shootout. This game is showing the slate's highest total by a decent margin (49.5), and the visiting Rams are just 3.0-point favorites. It also rates as the fifth-best game in combined pace and second-best in combined pass rate, per our Brandon Gdula.
While Stafford is a zero as a runner, he's making up for it through elite passing efficiency, ranking first overall in Passing NEP per drop back. As a result, he ranks third in passing yards per game (295.9) and second in passing touchdowns per game (2.5).
Armed with a talented and healthy supporting cast, Stafford should be able to do plenty of damage against a Minnesota team that's 18th in adjusted pass defense and has allowed the fourth-most FanDuel points to quarterbacks.
Stafford ranks third in numberFire's quarterback projections.
Jalen Hurts ($7,700): There were some concerns regarding Hurts' mobility in his return from an ankle injury on Tuesday, but he empathically erased them after racking up three total touchdowns on his way to 28.64 FanDuel points.
Although he's had his ups and downs as a passer, Hurts has been exactly as advertised as a rusher this year, averaging 10.0 carries and 56.4 rushing yards per game. He leads the position with 10 rushing touchdowns, and only Lamar Jackson has more rushing yards and attempts.
Particularly on a slate lacking high game totals, the path towards a spike week could be more difficult for many quarterbacks this week, giving us even more incentive to roster Hurts for his rushing upside. The Eagles are 9.5-point home favorites versus the Giants, so a low-volume passing day is likely for Hurts, but that won't necessarily prevent him from posting a big score -- he's rushed four multiple scores four times this season.
James Robinson ($8,200): It may be disconcerting to see Robinson's salary vaulting up $1,900 compared to last week, particularly on a Jaguars offense that's struggled to put up points all season. Even with all the good vibes following the departure of Urban Meyer, the Jags were only able to score 16 points at home against the lowly Texans in Week 15.
But as many hoped, Robinson was utilized as a true workhorse back, logging 30 adjusted opportunities (carries plus 2x targets) and an 83.3% snap rate. Carlos Hyde has been ruled out for the rest of the season, too, effectively eliminating the only back who could be a real threat to his volume.
Jacksonville may not have gotten their first post-Meyer victory last week, but they have the right opponent to do it this time around. The Jaguars are 1.0-point road favorites over the Jets, a team that ranks 32nd in adjusted total defense and 29th against the run.
numberFire's model seems to think Robinson's rise in salary is deserved, too, projecting him for one of the top scores at running back.
David Montgomery ($6,600): Although it hasn't shown up in the box score as much as we would like, Montgomery has been a bell-cow back for Chicago, and he's seen an increased receiving role of late, too. In the last two games with Justin Fields starting, Montgomery has enjoyed a 19.1% target share, helping him to 24 and 30 adjusted opportunities.
Seattle actually rates well in adjusted rush defense (5th), but they've allowed the second-most FanDuel points to opposing backfields. That's due in no small part to the team ranking 30th in adjusted FanDuel points allowed per target to running backs.
Despite what could be a negative game script, Montgomery should remain involved either way, making him a solid mid-range value.
Alexander Mattison ($5,500): Dalvin Cook was placed on the COVID-19 list on Thursday, setting the stage for Mattison, who coincidentally just came off the list. In three starts in place of Cook this year, Mattison's tallied 42, 39, and 28 adjusted opportunities.
Even against a tough Rams run defense, he's a "free square" value with this kind of volume at such a low salary.
Ronald Jones ($5,400): With Leonard Fournette expected to be out the rest of the regular season, that leaves Jones as the lead back on Sunday versus the Panthers. I'd be wary of expecting a true workhorse role from Jones, though, as Ke'Shawn Vaughn should also be involved. Following Fournette's mid-game injury, Jones would hold a distinct advantage in adjusted opportunities over Vaughn (14 to 7), but he only played a handful more snaps (22 to 18).
Still, a lead role is something we can get on board with at this salary, particularly with Tampa Bay sitting pretty as 10.0-point road favorites over Carolina. The Bucs may also be content to run more after getting decimated by injuries to their top wideouts. Chris Godwin is out for the season, and Mike Evans missed practice on Wednesday.
Cooper Kupp ($9,800): As noted in past helpers, you can probably get away with passing on Kupp in tournaments because of his massive salary, which also happens to be the highest of the slate. But with potential values opening up at running back, it might be easier to fit him in this weekend.
Kupp needs a truly big performance to pay off, but big performance after big performance is all we're seeing from him this season. Kupp has rattled off three straight games with 20-plus FanDuel points and is actually averaging 22.1 for the season. He's also racked up over 120 receiving yards in four of the last five.
Of course, all of this is the result of consistent volume, as he's seen double-digit targets in all but one game this season. The matchup also checks out; Minnesota is 30th in adjusted FanDuel points allowed per target versus wide receivers.
Kupp is projected for roughly 20 FanDuel points, and no other receiver comes close. Odell Beckham ($6,600) and Van Jefferson ($6,300) are secondary options in this offense if you can't get up to Kupp.
Keenan Allen ($7,700): Allen continues to be Herbert's favorite target, averaging 10.3 targets per game with a 26.8% target share and 30.5% air yards share. The potential absence of Ekeler (14.9% share) could further increase Allen's usage, as well.
Against a poor Texans defense, Allen is projected for the fourth-most FanDuel points among wideouts. He and teammate Mike Williams ($6,600) are easy to like as stacking partners with one of the slate's top signal-callers.
Antonio Brown ($7,000): With Godwin out and Evans looking iffy, Brown returns at the perfect time for Tampa Bay. In fact, in his five games, Brown actually averaged a higher target share (20.3%) than Godwin and Evans, leading to a solid 8.4 targets per game.
The Panthers have been an above-average defense this season, but they're 27th in adjusted FanDuel points allowed per target to opposing wideouts.
D.J. Moore ($6,400): While it's difficult to get all that excited about anyone on a struggling Carolina offense, Moore is still getting consistent looks, and with all the viable plays for the short-handed Bucs, he could be intriguing as a part of mini game stacks.
Across Cam Newton's four starts, Moore's averaged 9.5 targets with a 29.5% target share and 37.6% air yards share. Even if Newton is benched or rotated out mid-game, that would presumably just mean a more pass-heavy approach from P.J. Walker or perhaps even Sam Darnold (if he's active).
Note that Moore missed practice on Wednesday, though, so keep an eye on his status.
Rob Gronkowski ($6,700): Much like Brown, Gronkowski should be heavily involved for the Bucs. He's seen at least eight targets in each of the last five games, and we know how much Tom Brady has looked his way in the red zone over the years. Gronkowski is projected for the third-most points among tight ends but will be much easier to fit in over someone like Mark Andrews ($8,000).
Dallas Goedert ($5,900): It's rare to find much upside at this position when you drop to this salary range, but Goedart has now exceeded 100 receiving yards in back-to-back games. One of those performances came with Gardner Minshew, but in Jalen Hurts' Week 15 return, Goedert boasted a team-high 34.6% target share, catching 7 of 9 for 135 yards.
This is still a low-volume passing offense, but Goedert could be emerging as the favorite pass-catcher in this offense, coinciding with DeVonta Smith's usage dwindling in recent weeks.
Kansas City D/ST ($4,300): Among the four teams favored by more than a touchdown, it's the Chiefs' defense that has the lowest salary, making them an appealing choice at home against the Steelers. A laughing stock earlier in the year, Kansas City is a respectable 15th in adjusted total defense now, and prior to giving up 28 points to the Chargers, they averaged 10.8 points allowed over the previous six games.
It's no secret that Ben Roethlisberger's arm isn't what it used to be, and it wouldn't be surprising to see him log 40 or more drop backs in a negative game script, something he's done seven times already this season. Kansas City should be able to make those pass attempts difficult, ranking fourth in quarterback pressures per drop back.
Atlanta D/ST ($3,800): We need to keep an eye on Jared Goff's status for this one, but if he remains on the COVID-19 list, that will lead to a start for Tim Boyle, who would be making just his second of his career. The Falcons haven't been anything special on either side of the ball this season, so it says something that they're still being credited as 6.0-point home favorites.
It's not the most comfortable play, but at their sub-$4,000 salary, Atlanta rates as one of the slate's top values.