Week 16 NFL DFS Advice: Sleepers, Busts and More

NFL DFS Advice Week 16 - Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons

The 2018 daily fantasy football season is blowing by, as week 16 starts a two-week stretch that brings the year to an end. There will still be NFL DFS playoff contests at FanDuel, but it won’t be quite the same.

Needless to say, the year has flown by and these last two weeks are going to be really interesting. And by really interesting I mean pretty much impossible to figure out.

Cam Newton and Carson Wentz are out for the year and there are a laundry list of injuries to track going into the second to last week of the regular season.

I’ll certainly do my best to help you prepare for week 16, but you may have to gear up for a ton of grunt work this week. Regardless, here’s a breakdown of this week’s daily fantasy football slate with a look at some of my favorite studs, sleepers and more:

Week 16 NFL DFS Studs to Target

I really liked Russell Wilson against the 49ers last week and he was plenty fine (18 fantasy points). He just didn’t carve up the Niners like he did just a few games ago.

Wilson still classifies as a solid play, but he and my top studs just didn’t live up to expectations last week. Antonio Brown (12 fantasy points) was another dud, while Saquon Barkley, Rob Gronkowski, and the Seahawks defense would have all left you hanging.

It was not a great week for studs in week 16, as there was a lot more depressing play where that came from. Just a quick look around the league saw guys like Adam Thielen (2.9 fantasy points!), George Kittle (6.6) and Drew Brees (6.92!!) all finish with under 10 fantasy points.

Gross, I know.

Hopefully, this week’s core plays won’t be so weak. With that, it’s on to my favorite studs worth paying for at FanDuel in week 16:

  • Matt Ryan, QB, Atlanta Falcons ($8.5k)
  • Todd Gurley, RB, Los Angeles Rams ($9.6k)
  • Davante Adams, WR, Green Bay Packers ($8.5k)
  • Eric Ebron, TE, Indianapolis Colts ($6.1k)
  • Chicago Bears Defense ($5k)
Matt Ryan:
Ryan has been lights out the past two weeks, while week 16 brings a matchup with a very beatable Panthers pass defense. This, the same Panthers defense Ryan dropped 31 fantasy points on at home earlier this year. I know Ryan historically isn’t quite as good on the road, but the matchup is there for the taking.
Todd Gurley:
Gurley is banged up, but he’s coming off of a huge week and the Rams sorely need him after losing each of their last two games. L.A. can’t win through the air right now, so Gurley is primed for a massive role against a defense that has not fared well against the run. Cue the huge Gurley outing.
Davante Adams:
Green Bay has little to play for, but Adams has been their one beacon of hope all year. His matchup with the Jets isn’t bad on paper, either, while Adams also has some team records within striking distance. As if he wasn’t already being funneled targets already, he is a strong bet to see the ball even more this week and next.
Eric Ebron:
You can pay all the way up at tight end this week, but I’ll just go back to Ebron, who scores the ball as well as any tight end we’ve ever seen. He remains the top red-zone option for a Colts team that has to win out for a chance at the playoffs. The odds are solid he breaks free for a score this week.
Chicago Bears Defense:
Chicago’s defense held Aaron Rodgers to just 17 points in a do-or-die game, so yeah, they’re pretty good. I know the 49ers just got done beating the Seahawks, but the Bears are a different beast and they get to face something called a Nick Mullens. They shall feast.

NFL DFS Players to Avoid in Week 16

Whether it be price, matchup or poor play, there are always guys I steer clear from in daily fantasy football. Last week that ended up being Ben Roethlisberger, James White, Julio Jones, George Kittle and the Redskins defense.

Big Ben was pretty pedestrian (15 fantasy points) in a disappointing defensive battle with New England, James White would have been useless and Kittle didn’t even top seven fantasy points

Washington’s defense was fine against the Jaguars but was just so expensive, while Jones was my only real miss here (17 fantasy points).

This is a big NFL DFS slate, so you can probably pick out a plethora of guys to stay away from. Here are the guys I really don’t want any part of this week:

  • Jared Goff, QB, Los Angeles Rams ($8k)
  • Jaylen Samuels, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers ($6.7k)
  • Adam Thielen, WR, Minnesota Vikings ($7.6k)
  • Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England Patriots ($6.6k)
  • Jacksonville Jaguars Defense ($4.8k)
Jared Goff:
I imagine Jared Goff will figure things out eventually, but I’m not paying good money to find out. Goff has been utterly atrocious lately, putting up one touchdown against six picks over his last three games. He hasn’t been the same guy since losing Cooper Kupp and now he’s on the road against a solid pass defense. I’ll pass.
Jaylen Samuels:
Samuels was a fine play the past two weeks due to his role and price, but he’s now pushing $7k. James Conner could be back as well, while a road date against a good Saints run defense is less than ideal. His role makes him a guy to consider, but there are so many options this week that he doesn’t feel like a priority.
Adam Thielen:
I loved Thielen to get it going last week, but he saw just two targets and was a total gaffe. I doubt he’s that bad in week 16, but the reality is he hasn’t been a consistently elite option for a while now (12 or fewers fantasy points in five of his last six games). He’s also facing Darius Slay and Minnesota is running more these days. I love the talent and what he did earlier in the year, but right now he’s tough to play.
Rob Gronkowski:
The Gronk is banged up and faces the third-best pass defense against tight ends. He didn’t exactly go nuts the last time he faced the Bills and all year he’s been a bit of a disappointment. I don’t anticipate him crushing this week and if that’s the case, why are you paying for this guy?
Jacksonville Jaguars Defense:
Jacksonville feels like a decent GPP try most weeks, but let’s keep in mind they haven’t been very reliable in 2018. They just lost to the Redskins last week and they also are hurt by an awful offense. Now they’re on the road in Miami against a Dolphins team that is playing for the playoffs. I’m not eager to pay a premium for this defense right now.

Contrarian Options

You certainly want to figure out which guys you love and which ones you hate, but even besides that, you’ll often want to locate contrarian options that you can pivot from the high-owned players too.

Sometimes they’re still the players you don’t really want to use, but ideally, you’re always using players you actually like and those picks are supported by data and/or logic.

Last week I looked to Aaron Rodgers, Doug Martin, Mike Evans, Kyle Rudolph, and the Atlanta Falcons defense for help. A-Rod, Rudy, and The Muscle Hamster weren’t very good, but Evans hauled in four balls or 121 yards.

The play of the week was Atlanta, however.

The Falcons demolished the Cardinals at home and racked up a stellar 20 fantasy points in the process. They can’t all be winners, but at least Evans was solid and the Falcons were fantastic if you used them.

Here are my favorite contrarian plays for week 16:

  • Josh Allen, QB, Buffalo Bills ($7.7k)
  • Leonard Fournette, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars ($7.3k)
  • Julian Edelman, WR, New England Patriots ($7k)
  • Green Bay Packers Defense ($4.1k)

Allen isn’t contrarian based on his recent production, but he’s no longer cheap and he’s got a tough road game against the Patriots. He could cave here, but the reality is he’s been fantastic and New England has not been a scary matchup (23rd) for opposing fantasy passers.

Fournette has been trash the past two weeks, but he’s too good to stay down forever. He’s also just $7.3k for a solid matchup against a Miami defense that is coughing up the 4th most fantasy points to running backs this season. This feels like a potential smash spot for Fournette and you’re getting him on the cheap.

With the Josh Gordon suspension, you better believe Julian Edelman’s role will expand in New England’s passing game. It’s already been rock solid, though, while he also specifically carved up the Bills (9 catches, 104 yards) when he faced them earlier this year. Something similar can be expected.

Green Bay has nothing to play for and are 0-7 on the road, but there’s always the chance they finally get off the schneid and get that elusive victory away from home. That, and they’ve been better than advertised defense and they’re facing a rookie in Sam Darnold that has turned the ball over quite a bit. It’s not the worst set-up for a solid outing. Besides, few people will pay $4.1k to roster this defense.

Bounce-Back Targets

NFL players struggle all of the time. Sometimes they have a down year or a bad week. It happens. Eventually the talent shines through, though, and in daily fantasy football sometimes you need to bank on that happening before it actually does.

When it hits with the right roster around it, a bounce-back play can be pretty amazing. Last week I vouched for Kirk Cousins, Leonard Fournette, Adam Thielen and the Jacksonville defense.

The Jaguars only gave up 16 points, but this section as a whole was one colossal miss. Let’s see which players could be in nice bounce-back spots this week:

  • Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans Saints ($8.4k)
  • Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants ($9k)
  • Amari Cooper, WR, Dallas Cowboys ($7k)
  • David Njoku, TE, Cleveland Browns ($5.3k)
  • Dallas Cowboys Defense ($3.7k)

I won’t waste much time here. Brees can’t be much worse than he was last week and the guy shreds at home. The Steelers are a decent matchup and the Saints have to win to hold onto home field advantage in the NFC. I expect New Orleans to play well in this spot and Brees should be a big reason why.

Barkley was awful last week, falling below 12 fantasy points for the first time all year. Considering he’s a rookie and plays for the sad sack Giants, that’s more praise than criticism. Still, he disappointed last week and he’s got a decent opportunity this week to bounce-back against the Colts. The matchup isn’t amazing, but well, he is.

I expect Amari to get it going again this week, too. Nobody should have been too shocked he didn’t light it up last week, though, as he’s been a bi-weekly performer ever since, well, always. This week he’s at home against the Buccaneers, who have been roasted all season (27th) by wide receivers. Cooper is too explosive not to roster at least once this week.

Njoku is another guy that has to finally get it going this week. He seemingly has a smash spot in front of him every time out, yet he always disappoints. Not this week (hopefully), as he’ll be at home against an awful Bengals defense that ranks 24th at stopping tight ends.

I also like the Dallas defense to bounce back this week. They’re back home against a Buccaneers offense that certainly can be potent, but also can take sacks and turn the ball over. This is a great spot for the Cowboys to snap back into high gear and I think their defense could have a huge day.

Week 16 NFL DFS Sleepers

One other thing to consider before finalizing your NFL DFS lineups is which cheap sleepers could help you take down a GPP.

I don’t think you always have to punt positions to pay up for studs, but on massive slates like we’re getting in week 16, it’s certainly something to consider.

In week 15 I liked Josh Johnson, Zach Zenner, Jordy Nelson, Vernon Davis and the Patriots defense to at least be of some use. Nobody busted out, but New England wasn’t awful, Zenner had 12 fantasy points and Nelson was at least involved in Oakland’s offense.

It wasn’t a great week for sleepers, but it’s always worth a shot. Here’s who I might drop down to at FanDuel this week:

  • Taylor Heinicke, QB, Carolina Panthers ($6k)
  • Jamaal Williams, RB, Green Bay Packers ($5.8k)
  • James Washington, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers ($4.6k)
  • Benjamin Watson, TE, New Orleans Saints ($5k)
  • Arizona Cardinals Defense ($2.5k)

This isn’t a firm endorsement for Heinicke, so much as it is pointing out the guy is starting this week and priced at the bare minimum at FanDuel. It’s worth noting Heinicke is a plus athlete that was also pretty productive at Old Dominion. He has a nice array of weapons around him, too, while the Falcons have given up quite a bit of offensive production (dead last) to quarterbacks in 2018.

Aaron Jones is out for the final two games of the year and Green Bay is short on rushers, so it looks like Jamaal Ball for week 16. Williams is not very explosive, but he’s a reliable back that should have a solid shot at 60-70 yards and a touchdown or two.

Please Note:
JuJu Smith-Schuster pulled up lame with a groin issue in practice this week, immediately raising concern about his availability versus the Saints. If he’s out or limited, the speedy James Washington immediately drops in as an elite value play. That might make him chalky, but I’m okay with that.

In that same game I don’t mind giving Ben Watson a shot. I fully expect a big game out of Drew Brees this week, and who is to say he can’t exploit one of Pittsburgh’s main weaknesses? That’d be covering the tight end position, as the Steelers have given up the fifth most fantasy points to TEs in 2018.

Lastly, you have the Arizona defense, which is as cheap as it gets this week at just $2.5k. I’m not actually vouching for the Cardinals to stifle an uber-talented Rams squad. However, they’re an elite salary saver, they’re at home and Jared Goff has been horrid. If Goff continues to struggle and an injured Gurley isn’t quite himself, playing Arizona at this low price tag could be a huge GPP move.


This is a very different week than week 15. Week 16 has an extra game and it’s also got the majority of the league’s elite players back in action.

That complicates things, but it’s also very exciting.

We’re still missing Patrick Mahomes and a couple of other options, but the running back and wide receiver pools are positively loaded. Even with that being the case, I think you can get away with going the intermediate route at running back, but you may want to pay up at wide receiver.

No matter what you do, there’s plenty to think about and I hope my breakdown from different angles helps you in some manner. Good luck this week and enjoy the games!

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