I did not get suckered into paying up for the elite running backs last week and it ended up being a brilliant call. I did even better than that, as all three of the rushers I vouched for (Dalvin Cook, Joe Mixon and Derrick Henry) absolutely crushed.
Not only did I avoid elite running backs failing, but I nailed three stellar intermediate plays in the process. Unfortunately, Derek Carr and the Raiders couldn’t take advantage of an amazing matchup against the Bengals and the rest of my plays were either pedestrian or flat out bad.
Adam Thielen getting 2.9 fantasy points in a smash spot really says it all.
It’s onto the next one and week 16 approaches and for the most part, my daily fantasy football strategy isn’t changing. Here’s my favorite squad to fire up over at FanDuel:
QB: Baker Mayfield – Cleveland Browns ($7.7k)
Mayfield has been quiet over his last three games, but he also hasn’t had the best of matchups. This week he has one of the best you can ask for, as he faces a Bengals defense that ranks 31st at stopping fantasy passers.
Derek Carr failed me in this exact spot last week, but I’ll go back to the well because Cincinnati has simply been that awful all year long. Mayfield has displayed his upside in the recent past and Cleveland has slim playoff hopes if they win out, so I expect him and his Browns to pop off a bit in this one.
Cleveland dropped 35 points on Cincy earlier this year (Mayfield tossed 4 TDs), so there’s logic in thinking he/they can do it again.
RB: Dalvin Cook – Minnesota Vikings ($7.1k)
Minnesota has gone back to their running game and it showed last week, with Cook piling on a season-high 19 carries. He translated that into 136 rushing yards and two scores, showing he can be the bell cow he was drafted to be a year ago.
The Vikings appear intent on taking their fate out of the hands of quarterback Kirk Cousins, while they also face a bad Lions run defense (7th most rushing yards allowed). Cook’s role, talent and matchup make him an elite play for the second week in a row.
RB: Marlon Mack – Indianapolis Colts ($7k)
The Colts need to win out for a mere chance to make then playoffs, so you better believe they’ll be dialed in when they host the Giants this week.
Mack was a huge part of their offensive game-plan in a big win in week 15 and against a New York defense that ranks 25th against fantasy running backs, I have to imagine that’ll stick in week 16.
Paying up for the top studs is tempting, but you can save about $2k with very viable options like Cook and Mack. I think both will have big roles again and could easily smash in their respective spots.
WR: DeAndre Hopkins – Houston Texans ($8.9k)
I feel like I’m getting elite value at running back this week, which means I don’t have to pay up at the position. I do want to pay up for my pass-catchers, though, especially since someone like Nuk offers so much upside against the Eagles.
Philly looked solid defensively for a week, but they still are vulnerable through the air. You can consider pairing Deshaun Watson with Nuk, but I have to attack this Eagles secondary that has given up the third most fantasy points to wide receivers in 2018.
Hopkins is fresh off of an insane 10-170-2 line last week. He is banged up, so if he for some reason ends up sitting out, consider pivoting to Julio Jones or Antonio Brown.
WR: Davante Adams – Green Bay Packers ($8.5k)
I’m also very high on Adams, who has been as consistently elite as anyone in 2018 and with some Packers receiving records in sight, should look to finish the year strong.
Adams has been very reliable on a weekly basis, while the Jets have given up the second most fantasy points to receivers this year. With Aaron Rodgers refusing to mail the season in, Adams sticks as a high level NFL DFS play in week 16.
WR: Jarvis Landry – Cleveland Browns ($6.3k)
Here’s my stack play with Baker, as Mayfield has a great matchup in front of him and is bound to connect with some of his teammates. Landry has been hit or miss all year, but he’s still a dangerous weapon and should be able to crush in this matchup.
I have had a tough time getting the timing right with him in 2018, but I’m hopeful with this matchup he can finally pay off.
TE: David Njoku – Cleveland Browns ($5.3k)
Mayfield has a few different weapons to use in this awesome matchup, but I think it’s high time he went to both Landry and Njoku. Njoku is a little banged up, but he’s got a great matchup against a Cinncinati defense that ranks just 24th against the tight end position.
Njoku is a red-zone presence and has the speed to take any ball the distance, while he’s been too quiet for far too long. I think the Browns blow up in this one and this trio stack feels like a lot of fun for tournaments.
FLEX: Kalen Ballage – Miami Dolphins ($5.5k)
You can always pivot as needed and one idea could be to drop from one of my other running backs to someone like Ballage. That could allow you to spend up over Baker, Landry, Njoku or whoever else you’d prefer to upgrade on.
I actually love Ballage this week, so I’m fine with keeping this roster as is and just sliding him into my Flex. He will likely be chalky due to his cheap price and the fact that he’s been handed the starting running back job in Miami with Frank Gore placed in injured reserve.
Ballage flexed his explosiveness last week, when he torched the Vikings for 18 fantasy points. He’s got a decent matchup at home against the Jaguars, who got ripped apart by Derrick Henry a couple of weeks ago.
Jacksonville isn’t terrible compared to the rest of the league, but they still give up production on the ground and have nothing to play for. Miami will be trying to win out to make the playoffs, so don’t be shocked if they ride Ballage to a much-needed victory.
DEF: Atlanta Falcons ($3.4k)
Lastly, we have the Falcons defense. They were a money play if you used them last week and that may be the case in week 16 when they get a Cam Newton-less Panthers squad.
Carolina has dropped six games in a row and appears slated to lose out to wrap up the 2018 season. Taylor Heinicke has a good story and he’s an interesting play at the bare minimum this week, but he still gives the Falcons an amazing matchup on paper.
After coming to life in their last game, the Falcons are a very appealing GPP flier.
Overall, I’m going after as much value as I can get and I think fading the top running backs is a great way to do that. Honestly, I’m not sure how great I feel about using a clearly ailing Todd Gurley or Christian McCaffrey without Cam Newton in the lineup.
You can create a red flag for a lot of guys, but the reality is there are a ton of options and I’m not forcing myself into decisions I don’t feel good about.
Instead, I’m loading up value and targeting some of the most vulnerable spots on the board. Hopefully this lineup finds you well and even if you don’t use this team as it stands, perhaps a few of my NFL DFS picks will make it onto your final roster.
Whatever you decide this week, I wish you luck. Enjoy the games!