Welcome to Week 16 of the NFL DFS Ambush, where I will dive into the Main Slate NFL DFS plays that I am looking at using the most this week. WHAT ARE THE AMBUSH PLAYS? These are my favorite stand out plays of the week and the players that I am the highest on to pair with the MAIN plays. In some cases, they’re locks in cash, in some cases they’re locks in my high dollar tournament plays of the week and in other cases they might be a stack play that is going in one of my top 3 lineups.
GREAT CONTEST ALERT
Last week was fantastic and if you didn’t jump on the Yahoo! train then I don’t know what you were thinking. We crushed with the RB selections last week and that was huge over there along with the great payout structure which allowed me to personally go over 20x on the return in the $20 tournament, so get over there!!
The big buzz this week is that Yahoo! is finally stepping up into the land of the Million Dollar NFL DFS tournaments this week and they are doing it the right way with a $1 Million Prize Pool that is very user friendly, here are a few things about this tournament this weekend on Yahoo! that make it really good.
While I am sure that there is multi-accounting going on, it is still a fantastic tournament structure that one can only hope the other sites will take notice of and follow along with (minus the -33% rake part, which obviously is not good for the industry despite what others might say — these sites do have to make money).
Get on over there and sign up to try it out.
Another thing that I like about Yahoo! NFL DFS is that it’s just 1/2 point for PPR (Same as FanDuel) and does not award scoring bonuses for things like 100 yards rushing or 300 yards passing. Same as FanDuel and you start the same roster positions as well. The pricing is the only difference.
The Yahoo! slate also includes the SNF game between the Rams and Eagles
WEEK 16 OVERVIEW – 12 Game Slate
- Weather looks OK for the most part.
- Seven games with totals under 45
- One game under 40 (38, Jags/Dolphins)
- One game over 50 (53, Saints/Steelers)
- Four teams are double digit favorites (Browns, Patriots, Colts, Rams)
Stat Of The Week
- There have been 51 instances over the past 5 years teams when a team has been favored by 10 or more points after Week 11 (roughly Thanksgiving). In 28 of those games that defense has scored double digit fantasy points (FD scoring) and 15 of those instances they have scored 15 or more points. There have been only 8 cases where the defense failed to score minimum of 5 fantasy points.
- Taking the trend a bit further, if we only look at games with totals 45 or below, there have been 31 instances of such trend and only TWICE did the defense fail to get 5 points and over 60% of the time they got 10 points or more.
- In short. A team who is a heavy favorite this late in the season is likely to produce a solid defensive return and we have four games that fall into this criteria this week so pay attention to the defenses section below.
DFS Theme of the Week
For the majority of the season the trends in NFL DFS have been that …
- You need to pay up at RB for the studs (I believe this to be true again this week as there’s not much reason for me to take shots with guys like Kallen Ballage) &
- You do not need to game-stack and correlate like we have seen work in years past. Yes there have been games where that certainly has held true. But go back to the Saints and Rams shootout in week 9, which had a ton of points in it. You (we) did well that week with Brees-Kamara-Thomas-Cooks stack. That’s been rare this season. It’s been one side doing most of the work or in games that have been back and forth we’ve seen the touchdowns and yardage really get spread around. I don’t think that’s the case this week. I think this is A Game Stack Week
So this weeks theme? Have some fun. Enjoy looking for what could be the “Game of the week” as you never know if this is potentially the last regular season game for your favorite player(s). Ball out ladies and gentlemen!!!
GAMES I AM ELIMINATING FROM “GAME STACK” CONTENTION … (AND WHY)
Bills at Patriots … Patriots ground and pound game. Gimme some Patriots defense, but Josh Allen is a little scary given how he can extend plays and keep drives alive.
Falcons at Panthers … Atlanta should win this game. But you missed the Coleman train last week, sorry. And Carolina will just hand off to CMC against a 10 man front? Nah. No thanks. CMC loses his appeal not because Cam is out, but because of the opponent having Dion Jones back in their lineup. That’s a huge deal folks.
Jaguars at Dolphins … Uh. C’Mon.
Bears at 49ers … Bears will be tested by the 49ers in this one. Could be some sneaky value here, but nothing obvious so it’s a fade for me.
Rams at Cardinals … I love Brandin Cooks this week. Love Cooks vs the Cardinals (Petterson doesn’t completely shadow him or have good history against Cooks), but with the RB mess on the Rams and the Cardinals having ZERO offense threat I have no reason to consider this a good game this week.
Vikings at Lions … The Lions only hope here is to run it 40 times. I like the under in this game.
Bengals at Browns … I have two plays in this game that I love as one offs outside of the stacks, I’ll get to them. But not game stacking it.
THE AMBUSH PICKS
Lets first go through the guys that I love above everyone else. These are the one off plays to mix in with game stack builds.
The Cincinnati Bengals rushing defense has given up 20 rushing touchdowns on the season and is giving up 157 yards per game on the road this season. What really jumps out here though is that Cincinnati has been VERY extreme when they’re bad against the run giving up over 200 yards rushing four times and a near fifth when they gave up 198 to the Chiefs back in week 7. I don’t care who the Bengals have on defense, they’re not motivated at all and are huge underdogs here. This has the makings of a Nick Chubb insane 200 yard rushing game.
For those of you who want to go full Browns, have at it with Baker-Chubb-Njoku and run it back with Joe Mixon on the other side because he is the ONLY player for the Bengals. Tournament stack only.
How do we not love Ertz, the best TE in fantasy this year not named Travis Kelce against the Houston “I always attack HOU with TE” Texans? Philadelphia has to play with a ton of confidence this week and both teams desperately need this game. The Texans need it to keep the #2 spot and not only earn a bye for themselves but push the Patriots into playing in the first weekend and obviously Philly needs to win this game and get a ton of help to backdoor their way into the playoffs. Ertz has to be the best target for Foles this week and should total 100 yards receiving at home.
HIGH PRICED PIVOTS OF THE WEEK
Saquon Barkley & Alvin Kamara over Ezekiel Elliott & Christian McCaffrey
As you can tell I am sticking with what has worked all season and that is trusting running backs as much as I can. Pay up for them and use them in the FLEX spot as much as possible and look for the value at Wide Receiver. This week isn’t much different and all four of these guys are going to potentially appear to be in very good spots but let me explain why I am going with Barkley/Kamara over Zeke/CMC.
Barkley > Zeke … Barkley has the same matchup that Zeke had last week and Zeke did everything we expected sans scoring a touchdown. Barkley should get even MORE receptions than Zeke got last week and he has been a tear in the passing game all season long. This isn’t a situation where I feel that Zeke is going to throw up an absolute stinker — he shouldn’t — but there’s plenty of reason to like Dak and the rest of the passing weapons against Tampa. The Colts defense is good, but lets not overblow it here and I like the Giants to keep this game close. There’s nothing wrong with going both of these guys AND Chubb as well this week, but you’ll see a pretty big drop off in ownership from Zeke to Barkley and there’s no solid reason for that this week IMO.
Kamara > CMC … This one feels more clear for me that CMC is not going to have the same massive game that he had in week 2 against Atlanta and it has everything to do with Dion Jones and NOTHING to do with Cam Newton being out. I hate the Atlanta/Carolina game and saw that Carolina had to practice on Friday in a fricken hotel ball room? No thanks, Atlanta is gonna shut them down completely and Kamara back at home should get into the box, his only issue is that Mark Ingram scoring a rushing TD is a huge lock this week and I kinda like Ingram more as a third RB this week, but the choice here is Kamara over CMC.
Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Equanimeous “Hot Stepper” St. Brown
Aaron Rodgers is going to play this week for no good reason other than his … IMAGE. He was taking some back lash for McCarthy being fired as folks who needed something to bitch about wanted to find something stupid to bitch about (oh wait, I bashed him). If this game was in week 2. WEEK TWO. Rodgers would be 99% owned. Stop. It wouldn’t even be close, it would be Rodgers and the passing attack and as much as the Jets have yielded rushing yards they have been bad vs slot receivers and with Randall Cobb likely out these both would get some run there. I would only pair them if you are going milli-maker type stack with Rodgers, but one alone with Davante Adams and Rodgers makes a very tempting play this week.
Welcome back Quan! I’ve watched TreQuan go through a slump (not shockingly on the road) but he bounced back last week with a clutch catch and he should be able to get more looks here in what figures to be a faster paced game. There’s a ton of doom and gloom regarding the Saints offense simply because they have played three straight road games. But they’re a 100% different offense on the road this year (more than years past) because of the play calling and personnel.
FAVORITE GAME STACKS
Texans vs Eagles
- It’s an Ian Eagle and Dan Fouts special on CBS this Sunday at 1:00 PM. Get the popcorn, make some wings, order another round of beverages…
- Nick Foles and DeShaun Watson are both popular plays this week with Foles being the value guy (6k? Really?) that in DFS likely is the better play here for what it allows us to do on the non game stack spots.
- DeAndre Hopkins easily is the #1 WR this week again even if he only has one leg against the Eagles secondary. You are fading Nuk only if you hope he gets hurt or all the TD go to Demaryius Thomas and Jordan Thomas in which case, Hopkins got them down there, soooo he still wont kill your lineup. Translation? Play him. Other must play?
- Zach Ertz … Zach Ertz so much that it Hertz. I have only used that line about 50 times this week, so I need another 50 or so, which will be the yardage that Ertz should get this weekend against the 26th ranked defense against Tight Ends this year, which is right in the spot where I like to target teams “rankings”. Do not overlook the rookie Dallas Goeddert here this week either who was seeing more targets before Foles took over and is a good cheap TE threat this week.
- All of the Eagles WR to me have the same upside, but Alshon Jeffery is clearly the guy that Foles likes to trust the most and would be the one to rely upon in cash games this week if you aren’t on Ertz.
Giants vs Colts
- Kevin Harlan and Rich Gannon! There will be fireworks!! Or someone running naked on the field.
- Lets pump the brakes a little bit on the Colts defense. They’re good. But they’re not impossible to score on. The Cowboys offense wasn’t very good in there three game homestand when they basically had a couple big throws to Amari Cooper that made them look good.
- One could argue that the Giants offense is Cowboys lite with OBJ out and a weaker offensive line. One stud RB and primary WR target (Shep) but the sudden re-emergence of Evan Engram is the big difference this week and I think he helps the Giants keep drives alive when Dallas could not.
- Andrew Luck is the “MVP” candidate that nobody wants to give any love for (he has no shot, but hey). Luck seems to get a 20-22 every week without much effort and should have no problems going there again this week. Luck and Barkley are the must plays from this game if stacking it and Engram and Ebron come in as the next most popular plays for me
- Look for TY Hilton to get a couple big shots in this game as well and with his injury designation he will once again be a very low owned elite WR.
Steelers vs Saints
- Jim Nantz, Tony Romo and Tracy Wolfsson on the call
- Antonio Brown left and Antonio Brown right with JuJu possibly out. That said, I strongly feel JuJu Smith-Schuster is going to play and JuJu will still have a solid game. I really like saying JuJu, don’t you? Anyways… Don’t worry about this situation too much, but these are the highest producing players from the Steelers this week, I can assure you of that. We don’t need to debate strengths/weaknesses/game flow/etc. Get one of them.
- I won’t have any Jaylen Samuels but I can see some logic in using him on DraftKings as he could catch 4-5 passes.
- New Orleans averages 38 points per game at home and yes, they’re not the same team offensively on the road because they play an entirely different style on the road. But don’t take three straight poor games as reason to fade this offense this week.
- The Saints offensive line is fully healthy with the return of Terron Armstead at LT right when Jermon Bushrod’s glitter dust was wearing off. Brees should be efficient as he always is and likely throws 2 touchdowns to his running backs this week. But the Saints will control the clock, use their defensive line strength to force turnovers for some short fields and then ease off late in the game to get it over with as quickly as they can.
- Mark Ingram needs one touchdown to pass Deuce McAllister for all time lead in rushing TD as a Saint. Mark Ingram also had a birthday this week, when Mark Ingram plays the game around his birthday he has scored a touchdown in 4 of those 5 games. Mark Ingram is scoring a touchdown this week people. Deal with it. In fact. Something tells me this is an Ingram x2 and Kamara x2 game. 37-17 final.
- Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara touchdown game. Michael Thomas move the chains game.
Packers vs Jets
- With Aaron Jones on IR there will be a lot of love for Jamaal Williams in DFS this week. I want none of it as I feel he and the running game will just be window dressing to Rodgers throwing it 40 times.
- The Jets have struggled in the slot at times and that’s where the injury to Randall Cobb will benefit two of my favorite plays this week, Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Equanimeous St. Brown … Trust me, you try writing some articles and typing their names out every time and not coming up with acronyms for them. I mean, we shorten Antonio Brown to AB all the time, why cant I shorten …. (pause while I check spelling again) … Equanimeous St. Br…. ah fuck it, ESB. The Hot Stepper…. Both guys should get some run in the slot this week and thats where AARon will force them smoe looks to groom them.
- Davante Adams remains a stud, and Hopkins got single coverage last week so Adams could get the same here this week. He’s 100 yards every week.
- It has become Robby Anderson season, but the guy who nobody wants to touch still is Sam Darnold. The Packers aren’t likely to come out and put up a dominant defensive effort, and with Anderson being pretty chalky this week I would actually lean on Darnold to be different with his exposure.
THE POSITIONAL BREAKDOWN
I kinda wanna be that annoying guy who says something stupid like “Quarterbacks dont mater ………… in DFS”, but it’s really really true folks. This is not the position to be screaming and ranting about on a weekly basis. Just take the logic of using someone like Ben Roethlisberger this week. The common analysis on Big Ben in New Orleans is that he will have to throw it a ton with this being a funnel game to the pass for the Steelers and the expectation that the Saints offense will rebound and put up a ton of points. But the fear with spending up on Big Ben is that he will take lots of sacks to hurt drives and likely turn the ball over through the air. So if Ben throws three touchdowns and two interceptions in a shootout while trailing would you take that? It’s only 8 fantasy points. Eight. That’s equal to a running back getting a 10 yard receiving touchdown on DraftKings. Years ago we moved away from Quarterbacks getting 6 points per touchdown because it was elevating them too much and Quarterbacks definitely have the best floors of anyone, but they’re also capped and the difference between a bad/mediocre QB and a good/above avg QB production wise is narrow each week. So I want Quarterbacks who are going to get yards and will be in games where the tempo is good for them to be throwing it plenty to accrue those yards.
The Eagles are actually pretty good statistically against the pass at home this season but there’s a couple things to really like about Watson this week. Teams are throwing it a TON against Philly of late and the Texans ground game remains a mix of a fragile Lamar Miller and an untrusted Alfred Blue. This is a funnel game to the pass and Watson’s rushing ability should help him hit value this week.
Foles will be a popular value play. He is 4700 on DraftKings and only 6000 on FanDuel. All he needs is around 260 yards, 1 touchdown and 0 turnovers to give you decent value this week and those are some pretty low numbers to get against a Houston team who when they’re on the road gets pretty beat up through the air. Foles has one of those obvious matchups for his targets this week with Zach Ertz against the Texans linebackers. The combination of Foles and Watson both having funnel to the pass here make this an attractive spot for QB’s this week.
Just my game theory play this week. I think Jammal Williams is cosmetic and will be used when Rodgers needs a break. With Cobb out I love the value of being able to pair Rodgers with MVS or ESB to carve up the Jets from the slot. I wouldn’t play Rodgers naked though because to me the real upside is getting him with Adams who will be lower owned than Hopkins, Cooper, Brown, etc. and the young acronym kids.
Others who I like as well: Drew Brees, Andrew Luck, Dak Prescott
UPDATE: Dont @ me when I have Brees everywhere. Also have some Sam Darnold on Yahoo!
No sign of the 3-running back DFS winning lineup approach slowing down this week. For me the question isn’t do we have value at running back as much as do we have studs in great spots at running back. If this was a week where all the studs were just so-so then I would be interested in guys like McGuire, Ballage, Coleman (DK), Williams, etc. to take some value plays with. But not so much this week when I have a minimum of three studs who are in smash spots and the fourth (Gurley) would be the best one of them all except he has injury concerns and gameflow should lean on him sitting out most of the game.
It’s not the obvious guys who you have to find in DFS, it’s the B+ level guys that are going to go off. Last week Mixon, Cook and Coleman were those guys and this week it should be Chubb feasting against a poor Bengals rush defense.
Ezekiel Elliott and Saquaon Barkley are in identical spots this week. Zeke will be 50% owned, Barkley will be 20% owned and both have the chance to hit 30 points.
I strongly feel that he will get vultured by Mark Ingram who as I outlined in the bullet points above, has a couple narratives going for him this week. But ultimately Kamara will score via the pass game this week and should be the hidden gem against the Steelers out of the slot at times when the Saints do move Thomas to the outside.
Mid Range Plays
I have all three of these guys well below the studs and given roster construction they just don’t seem to have enough value depending on which site you are on (Mostly FD for me). But Mack and Coleman are both too cheap on DraftKings and are good 3rd/FLEX options over there.
Tevin Coleman (steal on DK), James White, Marlon Mack
Sneaky Value Plays
So above I have given you four guys that I clearly feel you will get 20 points from and you need to have two of them in your lineup. Yes, some value guys may go off but there’s too much uncertainty and risk with the value guys this week. None of them are in obvious get 20 carry spots and for that, I call you a donnnnnnnnnnnnnkey for playing them. Here are some sneaky value guys I would consider instead.
Love Ingram to score this week. One of my favorite TD props on the board.
Touchdowns in two straight games and the Vikings rush D has suddenly gone to sleep. That’s all the Lions will want to do this week and it’s really a terrible game, but if Detroit is going to hang around, the ground game will be the way they do it shockingly. I would not touch him though if Blount plays.
There’s a lot of high priced WR #1 plays this week who are in really good spots and a few that just don’t have the best game flow. But I am sticking with the guns on needing to have one stud RB and Nick Chubb in pretty much every lineup I would think about building this week which means we do have room for a stud WR, but likely not more than one high priced player. Given that I want to correlate/game stack the WR options this week I am going to not list a bunch of names that you have to randomly figure out how to fit into a puzzle, but rather list the correlations that you CAN use with the RB core that I feel is necessary this week.
Game Stack Correlation Tier
DeAndre Hopkins opposite of Zach Ertz or Dallas Goddert
I am not worried about his ankle situation for Hopkins and while you can try to get creative with Hopkins and Ertz, you might find better value going with Dallas Goddert instead from the Eagles. Hopkins fills the role of #1 WR who can eat against the Eagles secondary and Houston needs to win this week and should be throwing it a ton. Hopkins volume will be there to get him a solid day. You can fit Nuk + Ertz if you go down to the super value WR for the other two spots.
Davante Adams with MVS or ESB and opposite Robbie Anderson — full game stack.
The Jets refusal to double team Hopkins has to make me think they will do the same here with Adams this week. In a spot where I expect Rodgers to air it out a ton, Adams has to be one of our favorite plays this week. I don’t think he scores a TD finally as that’s going to the kids, but 8 catches and 100 yards is definitely an expectation.
Antonio Brown opposite Alvin Kamara
Huge boost if JuJu is out. AB is going to see a lot of bracket coverage either way, but he will eat as he always does. There’s a chance that Ju-Ju does play and if he does I wouldn’t mind going to him as well here, but AB seems to be being ignored too much this week and has the potential to go off for 2 TD which brings Kamara into play more in the passing game for New Orleans.
UPDATE: JJSS is in and I like him equal to AB.
Stud One Offs That Have No Game Stack Correlation
Cooks has over 300 yards in his last two meetings against Peterson and the Cardinals and in Arizona on that turf? Giddy-up folks. This is a prime get Goff right spot by working the ball to Cooks as much as they can with Gurley injured and limited (he shouldnt play, I dont care what they say, he shouldnt carry it a ton). With the Cardinals already packing their bags and headed to the offseason vacations, the Rams should jump up big early here and hopefully that comes in the form of Brandin Cooks getting 100+ yards in the first half and a touchdown. Because of game flow, I am not saying Cooks is a must start on a main lineup, but I will have exposure to him this week for sure.
Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs
One of them will be on slay and the other will be getting a ton of catches. The general though here is that Thielen logically should avoid slay the most and he is the one who could have a big game this week, but this is one of the games that I feel is going to go way under and thus I won’t have either one of these guys and hope they dont have a 2 TD day.
Mid Range and Value Plays
Tre’Quan Smith, MVS and ESB
Detailed these guys above
I will fully admit that I am being a little subborn on Amari Cooper this week. I just didn’t find his price fitting many lineups with the correlation/game stack I wanted to use. In short, I wound up liking Brandin Cooks over Amari Cooper as a one off WR, which puts me on the value play from Dallas and Gallup’s targets are increasing and if he can’t do it vs Tampa then he won’t do it all year.
Godwin and Tampa will have to put up points if you want Dak and Gallup (or Cooper) to produce.
Welcome to week 16, where Tight Ends actually matter! Unlike last week, I do NOT wanna just close my eyes and throw a hail mary here. You will need 10 points from Tight End this week to be relevant and quite honestly I think you need 10+ points here to have a shot in cash. Don’t take a 2 here….
Broke him down in detail above in the AMBUSH section as one of my favorite plays this weekend.
Ebron gets another chance to shine in a spot that I feel is a sneaky game for points this week and he would be a fantastic play opposite of Saquon Barkley.
The Panthers are atrocious against Tight Ends and nearly got torched for 100 yards by Ben Old Man Watson last Monday Night. Carolina is completely done and likely gets rolled by Atlanta who actually in my mind is going to finish the season strong with an easy victory this week. Matt Ryan loves going to Hooper on the road on grass and he has a great match-up that gets a boost with Julio being banged up and Ito Smith also out to limit the running game.
Downside for Njoku for me is that I love the Browns Defense and Nick Chubb. Milli-maker type full stack of the Browns this week.
As you hopefully read above, there’s a nice little trend/stat that I want to use late in the season for NFL defenses and we have four teams who fit the rough criteria of being a 10+ point favorite this week and three of them are home teams and three of them are facing some bad offenses. The four teams are as follows
- Cleveland Browns … Last week I nailed the Atlanta Falcons in this EXACT trend. Atlanta was a 10 point favorite despite having a sub .500 record. Cleveland is pretty close to that with a 6-7-1 record and a -10 point line in their favor against former coach Hue Jackson and the Cincinnati Bengals. They destroyed them a few weeks ago and they should do that again here at home. Cleveland is playing with a ton of engery and confidence and Cincinnati is playing with ….. well, Joe Mixon and a prayer. Browns D could top 20 points this week.
- New England Patriots … New England has lost two in a row and now is back home with a 13 point line in their favor against Josh Allen and the Bills. You think the Pats are really going into a demise and will crumble? Okay. Sure. Have fun with that. New England isn’t losing three in a row and they check all the boxes for me this week defensively.
- LA Rams … There’s really nothing on the Cardinals that excites anyone even if they’re playing a mediocre defense. Last week the Falcons shredded them and got a DST score and this week the Rams are in a similar spot. LA is the one team who is on the road in this scenario but Josh Rosen has done nothing to make me think he wont continue to struggle offensively with some poor coaching setting the table.
The fourth heavy favorite is the Colts, but that’s a game that should have offense on both sides and while the Colts have been solid at home, I feel they have more failure spots than the Browns, Patriots and Rams. These are your defenses for week 16, don’t over think it.
The Yahoo! slate includes the SNF game and I think the Seahawks are going to shred the Chiefs this week. Gimme as much Russ Wilson, Tyler Lockett and Doug Baldwin as I can have in that game.
UPDATE — Chris Carson for $21 is a steal on the Yahoo! slate. Get him in.