NFL Week 16 features a 10-game main slate starting Saturday at 1 p.m. ET.
In this article, I’ll be using various FantasyLabs tools and other industry metrics to break down the slate.
Finally, make sure to check out all the projections available for purchase within the FantasyLabs Models. Subscribers now have the option to purchase Derek Carty’s THE BLITZ from our Marketplace. Projections from One Week Season and Establish the Run are available if you’re a subscriber to those specific sites (our optimizer is a separate add-on feature).
You can also combine them to create your own aggregate projections:
NFL DFS Quarterback Picks
This week’s game between the Seahawks and Chiefs stands out as one of the best for fantasy purposes. Neither of these teams is particularly good on defense – the Seahawks rank 25th in Football Outsiders defensive DVOA, the Chiefs rank 24th – but both teams are capable of putting plenty of points on the scoreboard. This game unsurprisingly leads the slate with a 49.5-point total, while the Chiefs’ implied team total ranks first by a wide margin.
That makes paying up for Patrick Mahomes a perfectly acceptable decision. He’s been a tremendous value for most of the year, posting an average Plus/Minus of +3.80 on DraftKings, and he’s increased that figure to +4.95 over his past 10 games. Mahomes is coming off a sparkling performance vs. the Texans last week, completing 87.8% of his passes for 336 yards while racking up three total touchdowns. There’s no reason to expect much difference against Seattle.
Daniel Jones has had very little to work with as far as supporting talent this season, but that hasn’t stopped him from having a strong fantasy yea. He ranks 11th at the position in terms of fantasy scoring, and he’s not much worse in terms of fantasy points per game.
Jones’ biggest asset for fantasy purposes is his legs. While he may not quite live up to his “Vanilla Vick” moniker, he has averaged 41.6 rushing yards per game this season. He’s also added five rushing touchdowns, giving him a really solid rushing floor on a weekly basis.
Jones also draws a fantastic matchup this week vs. the Vikings. They have been dreadful against the pass this season, ranking 27th in pass defense DVOA, and they rank in the bottom five in terms of points and yards per game allowed.
Ultimately, Jones combines a high floor and ceiling in this spot. He’s projected for the best DraftKings Plus/Minus at quarterback per THE BLITZ, and he’s had two games with at least 29.64 DraftKings so far this season.
On the other side of that matchup, Kirk Cousins has plenty of appeal for the Vikings. The Giants’ defense has been equally poor against the pass this season, and they remain with top cornerback Adoree Jackson. This game will also be played at 1 p.m. ET, and Cousins lives for afternoon football. He owns a Plus/Minus of +1.51 at 1 p.m. ET with the Vikings, but that figure drops to -2.48 at 4 p.m. ET or later (per the Trends tool). I’m not sure why that is the case – maybe he’s a creature of habit? – but both splits feature a strong sample size.
The weirdest quarterback in the NFL returns to our lives on Saturday as Gardner Minshew gets a spot start in place of Jalen Hurts. He’ll face a stiff test vs. the Cowboys, but he’s priced at a super affordable $4,800 on DraftKings and $6,100 on FanDuel. That puts him just slightly below Jones from a value perspective.
Justin Fields continues to rack up monster performances with his legs. He’s on pace to eclipse the quarterback rushing yards record for a single season, and he’s averaged more than 100 yards over his past eight games. He has two 40+ fantasy point performances in that stretch, so he has plenty of upside and isn’t expected to carry much ownership.
NFL DFS Running Back Picks
There was some concern about what Christian McCaffrey’s workload would look like in San Francisco. There have been a few weeks where other running backs have been involved, but McCaffrey has still provided tremendous value of late. He’s racked up at least 28.6 DraftKings points in three straight contests, and he’s done it in multiple ways.
Last week, McCaffrey was extremely busy as a runner. He finished with an 89% snap share and a 79% carry share, and he racked up 108 yards and a touchdown. The week prior, it was all about efficiency, with McCaffrey turning just 17 opportunities into 153 total yards and two scores. The week before that, McCaffrey thrived in the passing game, racking up eight catches for 80 yards and a touchdown. There is arguably no player in football with as many paths to a big performance as McCaffrey.
That’s good news for his fantasy stock vs. the Commanders. They’ve been tough against the run this season, but they haven’t been quite as good at defending running backs in the passing game. Regardless, expect McCaffrey to find a way to make an impact, especially with Deebo Samuel sidelined.
We have had an abundance of value at running back for most of the year, but that’s not really the case on this slate. Of the top eight running backs in terms of projected Plus/Minus in THE BLITZ, seven have a price tag of at least $6,200.
D’Andre Swift is the lone exception. His role has been volatile this season, but his snaps have trended upward over the past few weeks. He led the Lions’ RBs in snaps against the Jets, and he was heavily featured when he was on the field. Swift was targeted on a ridiculous 50% of his routes run, and he’s been targeted on 27% of his routes overall this season.
The Panthers also stand out as a pretty good matchup. They rank 21st in rush defense DVOA and 22nd in pass defense DVOA vs. running backs, and Swift owns an Opponent Plus/Minus of +3.5. The Lions are also favored, which isn’t a dynamic that Swift has faced much in his career. However, favorites have historically done better at the position than underdogs, so it should be considered a positive.
Rhamondre Stevenson is questionable vs. the Bengals, but he’s worth consideration if he’s able to go. He continues to do the two things that running backs have to do to be successful in fantasy: score touchdowns and catch passes. The Bengals’ defense is also banged up, so there’s no reason to expect much regression.
Has Jerick McKinnon taken over as the Chiefs’ top running back? Isiah Pacheco continues to handle most of the carries, but McKinnon’s role as a pass-catcher has propelled him to two straight RB1 finishes. He’s been targeted on at least 26% of his routes in back-to-back games, and he’s racked up 15 catches, 182 yards, and three receiving touchdowns in those contests. He might be due for a bit of regression, but he can survive it at just $5,900.
Kenneth Walker is expected to suit up for the Seahawks, and he stands out as one of the best values at the position on FanDuel. His $6,900 salary comes with a Bargain Rating of 83%, and he trails only McCaffrey in terms of projected Plus/Minus.
NFL DFS Wide Receiver Picks
It’s going to be really tough to spend up at receiver and running back this week, but Justin Jefferson stands out as an elite option. He’s been unstoppable for most of the year, leading the league in receptions, receiving yards per game, and yards per touch. He needs 377 receiving yards over the final three weeks to become the first 2,000-yard receiver in NFL history, and I wouldn’t bet against him at this point.
Jefferson should have no problem dismantling this undermanned Giants’ secondary. None of the Giants’ remaining corners grades out particularly well, with none ranking inside the top 74 at the position in Pro Football Focus grade. Jefferson ranks third among receivers in PFF grade, so this is one of the biggest mismatches of the week.
On a slate with no Tyreek Hill, no Davante Adams, and no Deandre Hopkins, the gap between Jefferson and the rest of the position is massive. His ceiling projection is more than 7.5 points higher than A.J. Brown’s, who ranks second among receivers in that department.
Fortunately, we can save some salary with the Giants’ receivers. Richie James and Isaiah Hodgins rank first and second in projected DraftKings Plus/Minus per THE BLITZ, so they should provide some much-needed savings.
James stands out as the better option of the two. He has a significantly higher target share for the year, and he was targeted at a slightly higher rate last season. Most of James’ targets also come around the line of scrimmage, which gives him a nice floor in PPR formats.
Hodgins actually ran more routes than James last week, posting a 94% route participation. He also has had a significant edge in air yards, and he’s received each of the team’s end zone targets across the past three weeks. That gives him arguably a slightly higher ceiling.
Neither player is expected to be particularly popular, with both projected for around 10% ownership on DraftKings.
The Seahawks are going to be without Tyler Lockett this week, which leaves D.K. Metcalf as the team’s clear top target. He and Lockett have split the receiving workload pretty evenly this season, so Metcalf should get a clear boost in an elite matchup. Marquise Goodwin also becomes an appealing value play at just $4,300.
Terry McLaurin draws a tough matchup this week vs. the 49ers, who possess arguably the best defense in football. However, it’s impossible to ignore his workload under Taylor Heinicke. Since Heinicke took over in Week 7, McLaurin ranks seventh in the league in target share and second in air yards share. That makes him a strong option at just $7,000 on FanDuel.
Jakobi Meyers disappointed a lot of DFS players last week, catching just two passes for 47 yards in a potential smash spot vs. the Raiders. He disappointed a lot of Patriots fans as well for a completely different reason, with his last-second lateral serving as one of the dumbest decisions in NFL history. Still, Meyers remains very affordable across the industry, and he continues to lead the Patriots in basically every receiving metric. Mac Jones has to be better than he was last week – he completed 41.9% of his passes for 112 yards – so Meyers is a nice bounce-back candidate.
NFL DFS Tight End Picks
As usual, Travis Kelce is really the only option worth being called a stud at tight end. He’s significantly more expensive than every other option at the position, with his $8,000 salary on DraftKings checking in +$2,500 more expensive than Mark Andrews. However, Kelce is projected for at least 5.5 more DraftKings points than anyone at the position, and very few players can match his ceiling.
Kelce has hit a rare dry spell as a touchdown scorer, failing to find the paint in each of his past three games. However, he did catch all 10 of his targets last week for 105 yards. That was enough to get him to 23.5 DraftKings points, resulting in the fourth-most points at the position.
If he can add a score to his receiving work against the Seahawks, he has the potential for a monster performance.
Like Meyers, Dalton Schultz was one of the most popular targets at his position last week and disappointed a lot of DFS players. He finished with just four targets, which he converted into two catches for 15 yards.
Still, Schultz has strong numbers since he and Dak Prescott rejoined the lineup in Week 7. He’s posted a 19.4% target share, which is the eighth-highest mark at the position. He also ranks seventh among tight ends in air yards over that stretch.
Schultz also provides plenty of touchdown upside. He has 15 targets in the red zone this season, which is the top mark on the squad. Payton Hendershot vultured a touchdown from Schultz last week, but those looks should go to him more often than not.
Dallas Goedert will return to the Eagles this week, and he has been a massive part of the team’s offense when healthy this year. He has a 20.5% target share for the year, which is the fourth-highest mark at the position. He’s going to have to play with a backup QB, but Minshew has proven to be capable when given the opportunity in the past.
T.J. Hockenson is another potential option in this Giants-Vikings contest. He has been very involved in the team’s passing attack since being acquired from the Lions, and the Giants rank dead last in DVOA vs. opposing tight ends. Hockenson is a particularly strong option on FanDuel, where his $6,000 salary comes with a Bargain Rating of 80%.
If you’re looking for a pure punt at the position, you could do worse than $4,700 for Daniel Bellinger on FanDuel. He had an 89% route participation last week, so he more involved than his final stat line suggests.
The optimal DraftKings build per THE BLITZ is pretty interesting this week. The clear priority is trying to jam as many of the high-priced skill position players into your lineup as possible, and the optimal features McCaffrey, Jefferson, and Stevenson.
How can you accomplish that? The first step is using both of the Giants’ value receivers. They do rank first and second at receiver in projected Plus/Minus, so that’s ultimately not all that surprising.
The bigger shock is that it features both Schultz and Goedert, utilizing one of them in the flex spot. They rank second and third in terms of projected Plus/Minus among flex plays at $4,500 or less, so they’re better than the typical TE options on most slates.
If you’re not willing to go double tight end, you can consider using Meyers in place of one of them. That will require a bit of a sacrifice at either quarterback or defense, but it’s definitely a possible roster construction.
On FanDuel, the quarterback with the best mustache in the game makes an appearance, along with Bellinger at tight end. By using Minshew, Bellinger, and the two Giants receivers, it leaves more than enough salary cap space to load up the rest of your lineup.
As far as GPPs, you can utilize our NFL Models to identify some potentially overlooked targets. We do ownership projections for every player, and our Leverage Rating compares those projected ownerships to each player’s projected ceiling. If a player has a high ceiling but low projected ownership, they will have a strong Leverage Rating. Those types of players are ideal in tournaments.
Make sure to also take advantage of all the excellent written content that will be produced prior to kickoff.
Good luck this week, and Happy Holidays!