Season-long owners are focused on their championship games this week. In the DFS corner of the fantasy world, it’s our penultimate week with all 32 teams available. We could even be looking at a scaled-back player pool next week, with the possibility that teams locked into playoff seeds rest some of their stars. In a way, Week 16 is the final week of the DFS season, too.
Below are my ideal picks for both DraftKings and FanDuel. I will be playing lineups other than the ones I present here, but these are my go-to lineups for both sites. Be sure to read on and check out Andrew Perloff’s plays, as well.
Aaron Rodgers (DK: $6,700, FD: $8,600) vs. Minnesota
Rodgers’s lack of touchdowns against the Bears was a disappointment last week, but every so often a run game is going to hog the end zone spotlight. Rodgers still threw for 252 yards and 8.13 yards per attempt, so the efficiency was there for this season’s top-scoring fantasy quarterback. Turn two of the Packers’ three rushing scores into passing touchdowns, and Rodgers is just about at his season average. Rodgers has been a man possessed the last five weeks, throwing for 1,371 yards, 8.36 YPA, 10 touchdowns and zero interceptions. Minnesota’s defense, meanwhile, is trending in the opposite direction and just got thrashed by Andrew Luck and the Colts at home a week ago. This is not the same group that held Rodgers to 213 yards, 5.92 YPA and a touchdown while picking him off once back in Week 2. If the Packers lose on Saturday, they set the Lions up with an opportunity to clinch the NFC North by beating the Cowboys on Monday night. They won’t give Detroit that chance, setting up a Week 17 showdown for the division crown.
Jordan Howard (DK: $6,300, FD: $7,200) vs. Washington; Latavius Murray (DK: $6,200, FD: $7,300) vs. Indianapolis; Carlos Hyde (DK: $5,800, FD: $7,100) at Los Angeles
Howard keeps on producing, running for 90 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries and catching four passes for 23 yards in the Bears’ 30–27 loss to the Packers last week. Howard has at least 15 touches in 10 games this season, beginning with his first start of the year. In those 10 games, he had 970 rushing yards (5.05 yards per carry), 22 receptions, 236 receiving yards and seven touchdowns. That comes out to 16.26 standard-league points per game. The only backs with a better average this season are David Johnson, Le’Veon Bell, Ezekiel Elliott, LeSean McCoy and DeMarco Murray. Howard is going to be drafted as a top-10 back next year, and he should be. Washington, which has surrendered the fourth-most points to running backs, won’t slow him down on Saturday.
Murray gave up more carries than expected to DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard last week, but there’s a bright silver lining here. His 81 yards on 13 carries against San Diego’s defense was an impressive showing, and the Raiders routinely went to him in the fourth quarter as they were mounting a comeback. The Raiders can clinch the AFC West and a first-round bye this week with a win over the Colts, paired with a Chiefs loss to the Broncos. You can bet that Murray will be a huge part of the game plan. The Colts have allowed 4.54 yards per carry and 13 touchdowns to running backs this season. Like Howard, he’s priced in the second tier but has top-three upside at the position this week.
Hyde is a whole lot more palatable on DraftKings, where he’s a step down in pricing from Howard and Murray, than on FanDuel, where he’s in their neighborhood. That’s where I’m using him this week, teaming him as a flex with Howard and Murray at running back. Game script is always a concern for Hyde given that he plays for the 1–13 49ers, but he’s one of the few backs in the league guaranteed 15 touches every week, even with a negative game script. The Rams are constitutionally incapable of blowing out any opponent, so this should be a close game, likely resulting in 20 or more touches for Hyde. He racked up 88 yards and two touchdowns when these teams met in Week 1, the 49ers’ only win of the season. The price is right on DraftKings for a back who has performed as well as possible in terrible conditions, running for 950 yards, 4.66 yards per carry and six touchdowns, while hauling in 24 passes for 139 yards and two more scores.
Mike Evans (DK: $8,500, FD: $8,900) at New Orleans; Julian Edelman (DK: $6,900, FD: $6,700) vs. New York Jets; DeSean Jackson (DK: $5,500, FD: $6,300) at Chicago; DeAndre Hopkins (DK: $5,200, FD: $6,600) vs. Cincinnati
Evans is a luxury I cannot afford on DraftKings, but I got him into my FanDuel lineup. He has been shockingly quiet in his last three games, catching a total of 11 passes for 139 yards. What’s even more shocking is that the Buccaneers went 2–1 in those games, and nearly won all three, despite modest contributions from arguably their best offensive player. Evans should get on track against the Saints this week, playing in a game with an over/under of 52. If you’re only playing the main slate, understand that he’s going to be a very popular pick with Odell Beckham Jr. and the Giants already done for the week, and Antonio Brown and the Steelers playing on Christmas Day.
In the Patriots’ last five games, Edelman has received a whopping 67 targets. He hasn’t had fewer than 11 targets in any of those weeks and has become the unquestioned No. 1 weapon in the passing game with Rob Gronkowski on IR. Edelman always gets a boost in DFS formats with both major sites awarding points for receptions, and that helps make up for his touchdown deficit. When you’re getting as many targets and receptions as Edelman is, however, the touchdowns have to show up sooner or later, even if you account for a lack of big-play ability. Edelman is essentially guaranteed a floor of 12 targets in a game where the Patriots have an implied team total of 30 points.
Jackson is one of the hottest receivers in the NFL, piling up 19 catches for 441 yards and three touchdowns in his last five games. That’s an average of 16.22 DraftKings points (before bonuses) and 14.32 FanDuel points per game. Jackson is a bit more touchdown-dependent in the DFS game than he is in standard-scoring leagues because of the PPR element, but he has made a living out of making big, downfield plays with regularity. That’s exactly the type of receiver that has given the Bears trouble this season. With Jordan Reed clearly at less than 100% because of his shoulder, Jackson will continue to be the most dangerous weapon in the Washington passing game this week.
What? Who? Him? Really? Yes, it’s time to get Hopkins back into your DFS lineups. Tom Savage targeted Hopkins 15 times after taking over for Brock Osweiler last week. Hopkins caught eight of those passes for 87 yards. Hopkins had one eight-reception game all season with Osweiler under center. Don’t forget that Savage is in his third year in the league, all with Bill O’Brien as his head coach. He knows this system well and is much more willing than Osweiler to push the ball downfield. Hopkins provides significant value at his price point this week.
Martellus Bennett (DK: $4,100, FD: $5,600) vs. New York Jets
My first preference here was Delanie Walker, but I couldn’t squeeze him into either lineup after spending up for a few of the players discussed above. As I’ve counseled in my start/sit columns for season-long owners the last few weeks, when looking at the bottom of the TE1 class, you might as well go with a guy who plays in a thriving offensive environment. With Edelman and Bennett, we have cornered a huge share of the Patriots’ passing game against a Jets defense that has allowed the seventh most points to quarterbacks this year. That helps make Bennett the best of the value options at tight end for Week 16.
Josh Lambo (FD: $4,500) at Cleveland
The Chargers have an implied team total of 24.75 points, and Lambo is the absolute minimum price on FanDuel. That’s good enough for me. It allows the flexibility to afford Aaron Rodgers, Jordan Howard, Latavius Murray, Mike Evans and Julian Edelman in the same lineup, as well as one of this week’s best defenses.
Green Bay Packers (DK: $3,300, FD: $4,600) vs. Minnesota
I always like to fall back on a defense that is playing at home and favored to win. The Packers host the Vikings at Lambeau Field this week and are laying a touchdown. Their case is made even stronger by the fact that the Minnesota offensive line is a mess right now, allowing five sacks to the Colts a week ago. All the necessary ingredients are here for the Packers to turn in a top-five performance at the position this week.
QB: Aaron Rodgers
RB1: Jordan Howard
RB2: Latavius Murray
WR1: Julian Edelman
WR2: DeSean Jackson
WR3: DeAndre Hopkins
TE: Martellus Bennett
FLEX: Carlos Hyde
DST: Green Bay Packers
QB: Aaron Rodgers
RB1: Jordan Howard
RB2: Latavius Murray
WR1: Mike Evans
WR2: Julian Edelman
WR3: DeAndre Hopkins
TE: Martellus Bennett
K: Josh Lambo
DST: Green Bay Packers
There are so many bargains this week, I was left with $9,000 for defense. Since there were no ’85 Bears to take, I had to go back and spend some more up top. Odd schedule this week (my optimal team is set up for Saturday contests on FanDuel). I’m so psyched to ignore the holidays and watch Sunday Ticket on Saturday.
Russell Wilson ($7,700 FanDuel, $6,300 DraftKings) vs. Arizona
Several of the top guys have tough matchups, and people might overlook the Seahawks QB against the highly ranked Cardinals defense. An injured Wilson (ankle, knee) struggled against the Cardinals in Week 7’s ugly 6–6 tie. Hopefully that will keep opponents off of him. This is also a bet on Arizona’s defense giving up. They didn’t do much against the Saints last week. Wilson is coming off a three-TD performance against the Rams—another team that stopped him earlier in the season.
No easy answers at the top: Tom Brady faces a Jets team that has held him in check, and Aaron Rodgers faces Minnesota’s defense. Philip Rivers is tempting against the Browns, but that will be chalky, and the Browns have actually held QBs to modest marks over the last month. You have to at least try one lineup with super-cheap Matt Barkley facing the Redskins, right? He could easily go over 20 fantasy points against the Redskins’ porous pass defense. Be on alert for a high-scoring affair in New Orleans, although both Drew Brees and Jameis Winston are hard to predict.
Jordan Howard ($7,200 FanDuel, $6,300 DraftKings) vs. Washington
Howard started late this season, so he’s not hitting a rookie wall. The Redskins aren’t great against the run and at this point of the season may not be overly interested in tackling him.
LeSean McCoy ($9,100 FanDuel, $9,000 DraftKings) vs. Miami
Since I saved at WR, I had plenty of room for the hot Bills RB. McCoy was hurt in his first meeting with the Dolphins and only ran for 11 yards, but he’s healthy now, and his basement has been around 20 fantasy points the second half of the season. The Dolphins rank 30th against the run.
Expect a lot of people to overlook Todd Gurley’s disappointing season because anyone can run on the 49ers. He’ll be overplayed, but he’s still worth mixing in because he has a high floor. I’ll also have exposure to Tennessee’s DeMarco Murray, who ran for 123 yards and a TD in his first game against Jacksonville.
DeAndre Hopkins ($6,600 FanDuel, $5,200 DraftKings) vs. Cincinnati
I just can’t ignore Hopkins’s 17 targets from new Texans QB Tom Savage last week. With Savage back under center, Hopkins is guaranteed to get targets once again. Cincy will try to confuse the third-year QB with all kind of looks, but in a pinch, hopefully he’ll just throw it to Hopkins.
T.Y. Hilton ($7,600 FanDuel, $ DraftKings) at Oakland
The Colts’ top threat is coming off a bad week against Minnesota, but he’ll have an easier time with the Raiders’ secondary. He had two monster games (146 yards against the Jets, 115 yards against the Texans) before running into the Vikings’ Xavier Rhodes last week.
Julian Edelman ($6,700 FanDuel, $6,900 DraftKings) vs. New York Jets
This could be an Edelman week against the Jets and their banged up secondary. Edelman caught 8 of 11 targets for 83 yards in a close win over New York earlier in the season. The Pats, who still need to win for playoff positioning, will probably have more success in the air than on the ground.
I’m building alternate lineups around the Jets’ Robby Anderson ($5,500 FanDuel, $4,800 DraftKings). He has a bromance with fellow rookie Bryce Petty, who will play Saturday after getting banged up last week. Davante Adams is coming off a nightmare game against the Bears, but with Rhodes possibly marking Jordy Nelson, I have a feeling Rodgers will go back to Adams.
Cameron Brate ($5,600 FanDuel, $3,900 DraftKings) at New Orleans
With big guns like Jordan Reed and Tyler Eifert dealing with injuries, Brate moves way up the rankings and is a good value here. He faces the Saints’ 31st-ranked pass defense and will be a primary red-zone target if Mike Evans can’t bust out of his slump.
The Chargers’ Hunter Henry is intriguing since he faces a Browns defense that struggled against Charles Clay and Eifert in the last two games.
Greg Zuerlein ($4,600 FanDuel) vs. San Francisco
I’d prefer to get an indoor guy but fell to this price point. Might as well go against the 49ers.
Chargers ($4,900 FanDuel, $3,400 DraftKings) at Cleveland
The Chargers don’t get much buzz, but they can create turnovers, and most importantly, they’re facing the Browns.
Bill Belichick and the Patriots probably have mean things planned for Petty.