There are so many dreary things that can come at the tail end of the NFL’s regular season. (Howdy continued parade of devastating injuries!) It can sometimes be a slog, but there’s no reason to pull a Slobodan Praljak. (For one, you’re not a war criminal, right?) Daily fantasy football is here to swaddle us and make us feel special as the games get colder, nastier and possess varying levels of standings power.
As is customary around these parts, I’ve put together a handy and quite possibly dandy Week 15 DFS care package providing advice for who to consider for your DraftKings and FanDuel style lineups. If you prefer your fantasy football advice to tackle the more traditional league format, former U.S. Vice President Jason Nawara has you covered. This particular gander will be looking exclusively at Sunday’s slate, so adjust your notepad accordingly.
Right, time to shove fantasy football into our gobs.
Invest in Drew Brees: Drew Brees and the Saints host the perverse AFC East curiosity that is the New York Jets on Sunday and that’s lovely news for Brees enthusiasts. While the Saints (tied for the top of the NFC South) are coming off a frustrating 20-17 loss to the Falcons, they get to take on an NYJ defense that’s had the S-H-*-T (Jets Jets Jets!) kicked out of them by opposing QBs lately. As in, no team has given up more fantasy points to QBs over the last four weeks than the Jets. With poor Josh McCown burning in injury hell for the remainder of the campaign, Jets QB Bryce Petty will likely gift the Saints a lot of opportunities to control the ball at the Superdome. Classic huge Brees numbers could be yours and the gentle $6,500 DraftKings salary attached makes things even more appealing.
Avoid Eli Manning: This is a bit “don’t dump a bunch of poison in your milkshake” advice, but avoid Eli Manning at all costs this Sunday. It’s still nice to see the NFL’s premier doofus back in the lineup (less time for alleged memorabilia chicanery), but he’s got a nightmare date with the Eagles in Week 15. The picks, drops and underwhelming offensive attack served up to Dallas last week will be greeted without mercy by an Eagles defense that no longer has Carson Wentz to lean on for a scoring buffer.
Consider Joe Flacco: Can Baltimore desecrate the corpse of the Cleveland Browns once again? The table’s definitely set as the winless Browns (who are a bottom 5 defense versus QBs in fantasy) host the Ravens on Sunday afternoon. Joe Flacco is a fantasy red flag made flesh, but if you’re feeling courageous, Flacco’s numbers against a stingy Steelers defense in Pittsburgh (20 of 35 passes for 269 yards, two touchdowns and one interception) shows sparks of a developing offense and one that could turn a listless 0-13 Browns squad to dust. Flacco’s bargain salary of $5,100 on DraftKings makes the package even more enticing.
Invest in Christian McCaffrey: Last week I politely asked that you avoid Christian McCaffrey. If you did, you avoided a relative dud outing by McCaffrey standards (a very mild 8.3 point performance on DraftKings), but that sh*t changes today with a cheery endorsement of McCaffrey for Sunday’s date with the Packers. Unlike his Week 14 opponents from Minnesota, Green Bay provides a different kettle of fish on defense. The Pack’s defense isn’t a wreck, it just isn’t equipped to handle a dual rushing and receiving threat like McCaffrey in a functional Panthers offense. A return to form appears to be in the cards.
Avoid Leonard Fournette: With Fournette’s less than ideal health at the moment, picking the star Jaguars rookie may prove to be a moot point. If not, this is a good time to stress that the Texans have been a quietly unforgiving defense against fantasy rushers, holding fantasy RBs to numbers only bested by Philly and Minnesota’s defenses. Fournette’s $7,500 DraftKings salary might be more sensibly used elsewhere.
Consider Jonathan Stewart: Let’s get bullish with Carolina, shall we? McCaffrey appears poised to take advantage of the Pack defense on Sunday and that could also prove to be the case for his teammate Jonathan Stewart. Stewart, a steal at $4,100 on DraftKings, hit the endzone versus the Vikings three times last week. He has one or more touchdowns in three consecutive games heading into Week 15’s home date against Green Bay.
Invest in Antonio Brown: Is Antonio Brown’s $9,100 DraftKings pricetag worth the risk? (Or for any readers just coming out of a coma from 2004: Is the juice worth the squeeze?) You’re darn tootin’ Brown and his monster salary are worth it. The Steelers offense is always better at home and they face a Patriots defense that was exposed by Jay Cutler in primetime. The Pats defense hasn’t regressed to its early season form, but MVP candidate Brown will take advantage of a secondary that’s gifted 2250 yards to WRs in 2017, the third most generous total in the NFL. Antonio Brown made Baltimore corner Brandon Carr’s life miserable last week and he’ll be happy to spread that misery around in a potential shootout with New England. Spend that money.
Avoid Robby Anderson: Josh McCown being dunzo for the year for the Jets plants a dagger into the gut of New York’s passing game. McCown operated great with Jets wideouts Robby Anderson and Jermaine Kearse as targets. Can Bryce Petty weave the same magic? Your outlook may depend on how badly you’re abusing drugs. Add in a bummer outing from Anderson last week, a tough Saints defense and a tidal wave of despair and you can sort out why your DFS dollars might be better allocated elsewhere.
Consider Dede Westbrook: While Leonard Fournette has earned all the accolades he’s gotten in Jacksonville, don’t overlook another dynamic rookie in the Jags offense. Dede Westbrook, a fourth pick out of Oklahoma, has become a threat in Jacksonville’s offense with five or more receptions in his past three games. Westbrook’s talents were on full display in the Jags win over Seattle (five receptions, 81 yards, and a TD) and his apparent chemistry with Blake Bortles seems to grow with every outing. The Texans are more vulnerable through the air and Westbrook (a $5,100 DraftKings bargain) will look to take advantage.
Invest in Zach Ertz: Eagles tight end Zach Ertz has cleared the NFL’s concussion protocol (not that it seems to take much) and is believed to be a go for Philly’s NFC East clash with the Giants. The loss of Wentz sure as sugar isn’t a bonus for Ertz, but he should still be invaluable to QB Nick Foles as he grabs the reins. No team has given up more TDs to tight ends all year than the Giants, so it’s a cute matchup for DFS GMs too.
Avoid Tyler Kroft: Tyler Kroft went without a single target in Cincinnati’s embarrassing home loss to the Bears. A date in Minnesota with the Vikings is the furthermost thing from a soft landing place. If there’s a silver lining for Kroft obsessives, it’s that the Bengals tight end puts up better numbers on the road. That’s not enough of a hook to merit selection, though.
Consider Benjamin Watson: Baltimore has been somewhat erratic in their use of tight end Benjamin Watson (see how little he was used in the passing game versus Pittsburgh), but Week 15 presents a matchup that’s more enticing than Watson’s 2017 season stats would suggest. The Ravens face Cleveland and in Week 2 Benjamin Watson caught eight passes on eight targets for 91 yards against the Browns. It’s not a lock he does it again, but Week 2 totals plus Cleveland being weak versus tight ends for fantasy totals should at least put Watson on your radar.
Here’s a friendly visual aide confirming that you can nestle your big investments alongside budget-friendly options.
Have a good football, everybody.