The Hail Mary (NFL HuLo GPP Plays): Week 16 WEEKEND UPDATE
December 23, 2017 | Doug Shain
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The Huddle – Opening Statement
Welcome to the Hail Mary for Week 16
. For those of you who read this article last year or any of my stuff on The Fake Hockey and The Fake Baseball you’re going to find this article very familiar. For those of you who are new please allow me to take a moment to explain where I’m coming from and what you’re going to see in this article.
First and foremost I’m mostly a GPP player and that’s who this article is mostly designed to help. I write for players like me – the guy or gal who enters a single bullet in a couple of low limit GPP’s each week; the casual DFS player. This group of players probably makes up a much larger percentage of the DFS community than you think. If you are a cash game player or a high buy-in/high volume/multi-entry GPP player you should still read this because it’ll give you an everyman perspective that you might not get in other articles (there are plenty of those on this site and I urge you to read them as well because they are fantastic).
Be advised that playing a single bullet in a large field GPP is a very volatile game and you’re going to lose more often than you win. That’s a fact and it’s something you have to know before you start playing. Due to the volatility of this game I’m going to try to give you plays that can help you zoom to the top of your GPP leaderboard. These plays are very boom or bust, so please know that going in.
One way that I like to separate from the field is by trying to anticipate ownership rates of certain players. Over the course of the year I’ll get into this more deeply, but just know for now that all things being equal (and even in some cases when it’s not), I’m going to recommend the player that’s going to have a lower ownership rate.
I have some musts when building a GPP lineup. They include:
– It is a must that I get a QB that is going to throw a lot when building my GPP teams.
– It is a must that I get RB that are guaranteed touches when building my GPP teams.
– It is a must that my WR have upside when building my GPP teams.
– When building my GPP teams it is a must that my TE is elite or is a punt. There is no in between for me with TE.
– When building my GPP teams it is a must that my defense gets to the quarterback.
– It is a must that I take a min-priced kicker when building my GPP teams.
– It is a must that I include at least some HuLo plays when building my GPP teams.
– It is a must that I remember that chalk is chalk for a reason, and that using chalk isn’t a bad thing.
– It is a must that I remember that bad players and bad players even in good matchups.
Holiday duties call so there won’t be charts this weekend (they take a LOT of time). I hope everyone has a safe, happy, and prosperous holiday. Merry Banksmas to all!
Guys I Won’t Touch: Tom Brady, Matt Ryan, Kirk Cousins
– What has Tom Brady done the last month of the season that makes you feel comfortable paying up for him? Is it the 4 INT? Is it the 2 TD? How about the pedestrian game he played against the Bills three weeks ago? Does that get your juices flowing? New England could explode here but I think it’s more likely they run the ball and try to get out of this game unscathed…Matt Ryan has scored more than 20 fantasy points only twice all season with a max of 22 points; including a game where Julio Jones went for over 250 yards. There is literally no upside with him. Why are you still using him when you can use Rivers for essentially the same price?…Washington has NOBODY to catch passes from Cousins and now they are playing a rejuvenated No Fly Zone Broncos defense. To me, this is a sucker bet. I’m passing hard on Cousins.
Tier 1: Cam Newton, Mitchell Trubisky, Blake Bortles
– Last week I talked about how Cam Newton was about to play the best back to back QB schedule that anyone has had all season (vs GB and TB). He did not disappoint in the first game against GB and now he’s got an even better matchup against the Buccaneers with a shot at the NFC South on the line. TB has pretty much their entire defense injured for this game. It’s possible that Carolina just runs all game but Cam is a former MVP that wants to get back to the playoffs, he’s going to do everything he can to make sure that the outcome of this game is never in question. Chalk or not, there’s no QB I’d want more than Newton this weekend…Maybe you think that Cam is going to be too chalky for you, or you really want to spend up elsewhere, then I’d spend all the way down on Mitchell Trubisky. He’s been playing like a real life NFL QB over the last couple of weeks and seems to have found enough of a connection with his pass catchers to continue that trajectory. I’m a little concerned that he’s only thrown 1 TD pass in each of those last two games, but he’s also averaging nearly 300 yards passing and at his price that’s a nice combination of statistics. The Browns are horrible in the secondary and I don’t buy into the “Hue Jackson’s last two wins were on Christmas Eve narrative”; it’s a garbage stat. Even if Cleveland wins, it won’t be because they shut the Bears down. I think that John Fox is going to unleash this kid and give him a chance to gain some confidence heading into the offseason. He may not win you a GPP but I don’t see him losing one for you either, and his price allows you to get players on your team that WILL help you win a GPP…Who’s hotter than Bortles? The answer is a resounding, “nobody!”. Over the last month he’s averaging just about 25 fantasy points per game. Over his last three games he’s thrown 7 TD passes, 0 INT, and is averaging 301 yards passing per game. Jacksonville has scored 30+ points in each of their last three games and the return of Leonard Fournette is going to have to keep the 49ers secondary honest. San Francisco is not great to begin with and having to commit so much attention to the run is only going to help Bortles perform even better.
Tier 2: Dak Prescott
– Prescott may be the most polarizing player on the slate this weekend. There are people who think that he’s merely an average QB and there are people that think he’s going to go back to being the high end fantasy stud we saw earlier in the year now that Ezekiel Elliott is back in the lineup. I lean more toward the latter end of that argument and won’t change my opinion until I see him play with Zeke again. Dallas has an outside shot at a playoff spot and the first step is them winning this weekend at home against Seattle. The Seahawks just got crushed by the Rams, and while a lot of people think they are going to bounce back strong I think they are going to be a little shell shocked. I see this game as somewhat of a shootout and I have no real issue with you stacking Dak and Zeke in one of your secondary lineups.
Tier 3: Drew Stanton, Jared Goff
– It’s not that I love Drew Stanton, but the Giants defense is really bad and Stanton is capable enough to take advantage of that. Much like with Trubisky, I don’t think that Stanton is going to win you a GPP but he shouldn’t lose one either. I think he’s a pretty safe bet for 230 yards and 2 TD; a decent return on his low end price tag…Everyone throws on the Titans so I figure that Goff should be pretty safe this weekend. We have to remember that he’s rarely been a top ten QB but he has shown that kind of upside in the right matchup. This could be that matchup, especially as the Rams could clinch their division with a win. Todd Gurley could take over this game, but the winning matchup is in the secondary and I think Sean McVay is a smart enough coach to figure that out. A Goff/Woods stack makes a lot of sense.
Guys I Won’t Touch: Todd Gurley, DeMarco Murray, Jordan Howard, Devonta Freeman, CJ Anderson, Carlos Hyde, Giovani Bernard
– As it’s been for the last few weeks, I just want to say that I don’t have anything against Todd Gurley, he’s just not the RB that I’m going to choose to spend my money on this weekend. He’s a perfectly fine option that will be very highly owned and should produce just fine; I happen to like Hunt, McCoy, Zeke, and Drake more…I can’t stand behind any TEN RB until they dedicate that backfield to one guy. Even in a great matchup I have to pass…Jordan Howard has burned me too often for me to feel comfortable putting him into my lineup. The Browns run defense isn’t half bad and I think there are a lot of better options out there…Tevin Coleman is back for ATL and even though I think that Freeman is still the man, that’s enough to pull me off him for the week…I don’t trust CJ Anderson at all…Carlos Hyde is garbage, and he’s been even more garbage since Jimmy Garoppolo took over and realized he can throw the ball to his WR/TE instead of just Hyde…Joe Mixon is back so Gio is essentially useless now.
Tier 1: Kareem Hunt, Kenyan Drake, Ezekiel Elliott
– Look, I know that I’m riding the chalk heavily here but I just don’t see why I wouldn’t. I’ve said it before but it bears repeating; chalk is chalk for a reason and it’s ok to be chalky in spots. This week I think that the RB position is where we have to hit he chalk…Nobody has been playing better than Kareem Hunt at the RB position over the last couple of weeks and that’s saying a lot. Hunt has been involved in all aspects of the offense and I think he’s in for a heavy workload once again against a bad Dolphins defense…Speaking of the Dolphins, I’m going to once again fully advocate an RB game stack with Hunt and Drake. With Damien Williams once again not expected to play for Miami, Kenyan Drake should see all the work he can handle. Even in a down game last weekend he was able to put up over 70 yards and a TD. I’ll take that as a down game any week. KC does not have a great defense and I expect another solid performance out of Drake this weekend…Who isn’t going to ride Elliott this weekend in his return to the Cowboys? Dallas is going to feed him all he can eat and he has as good a chance as anyone (Hunt) to be the leading point scorer at RB this weekend. Maybe I’m a sucker but I don’t see how you can fade Elliott this weekend. I’m seeing 25+ touches, over 100 yards, and many TD chances.
Tier 2: Theo Riddick, LeSean McCoy
– After being given a clean bill of health, it’s full speed ahead for Theo Riddick. He’s about as far down as I’m willing to go this weekend at RB for heavy exposure. The Bengals have been getting hammered by RB, especially pass catching RB, over the last month or so. Few RB are better pass catchers than Riddick. If he can get 7+ targets and 7 more carries then he should be a threat for 100 total yards and a TD. At his price, that’s an excellent return on your investment…I can’t believe I have Shady down as a Tier 2 play; I was sure I’d have him up in that top tier but that’s so loaded that I don’t think I’ll have as much McCoy exposure as I’d planned. He played really well against the Patriots the last time these two teams met with nearly 100 total yards and only about 15 touches. I’m confident that he gets a much heavier workload this weekend and should cross the 100 yard threshold. My biggest concern about him is that TD’s could be hard to come by; the Bills scored only 3 points against New England the last time they faced. If Hunt, Drake, and Elliott are 70% exposure guys for me, then McCoy is more of a 25% guy (still a great play).
Tier 3: Elijhaa Penny, Jonathan Stewart
– It doesn’t look like Kerwynn Williams is going to play this weekend so that leaves Penny as the likely starting RB for the Cardinals. He’s got a big frame and should be able to run between the tackles against a Giants defense that gives up a lot of rushing production. For all the talk about Snacks Harrison and his run stopping ability, NYG still is a light matchup for any RB facing them. Penny is a pure punt play that will benefit more from matchup/volume than he will skill. Just be aware that he will be a very popular punt play and you may want to look in another direction if you’re looking to win the ownership game…The player you should look to if you wish to pivot off Penny is Jonathan Stewart. He was a massive disappointment last weekend against GB but I believe in the matchup this weekend. Christian McCaffrey is more of a slot WR than an RB at this point and the matchup is too good to ignore. If Stewart can see 15 carries, and I think he will, then he should easily pay off his minimal salary against one of the worst run defenses in the NFL. I would have little issue with you stacking Cam and Stewart if you needed the cap relief and didn’t want to use some of the other punt plays du jour (Wright, Penny, Byrd).
Guys I Won’t Touch: Julio Jones, AJ Green, Tyreek Hill, Robby Anderson, Allen Hurns, Sammy Watkins
– I’ve been on this bandwagon for a long time but never again will I use Julio Jones. The guy just disappears far too often for a high priced, highly regarded player. He’s wildly explosive but also wildly inconsistent. If I was spending up at WR, and I’m probably not this weekend, then it surely won’t be with Julio…The same thing goes for AJ Green. He’s not my high priced WR pick for the week. His Bengals team has given up on the season and I want nothing to do with him…In case you haven’t noticed, I’m not a Tyreek Hill guy. Even in a week where he scores a 64 yard TD (like last weekend), he can still not get to 100 total yards. That’s not what I want from my high priced WR. If you get a 64 yard TD, I want to see 150+ total yards…Bryce Petty may love Robby Anderson but I don’t see him doing much against the Chargers highly productive secondary. The further we’ve gotten into this week, the more I’ve liked the Chargers chances for a big win against New York…Blake Bortles may like Allen Hurns but he’s been surpassed by Keelan Cole and Dede Westbrook. I don’t see a spot where Hurns can be productive…Sammy Watkins is a worse Tyreek Hill. Hard pass.
Tier 1: Larry Fitzgerald, Kendall Wright, Robert Woods
– I’m a little surprised at how easily I was able to narrow down my WR picks to these three guys. In my mind, they are the best combination that still allows you to spend up at a few other positions…I don’t know if any WR is in a better situation than Larry Fitzgerald this weekend. He faces a bad Giants defense with a QB that loves him. In the two games that Drew Stanton has started this year, Fitz has seen 23 targets and 183 total yards. If we add a TD into those averages we have a WR that will easily hit value…Over the last couple of weeks, only a handful of WR have seen more targets than Kendall Wright. We’d be talking a lot more about Wright if he had scored in either of those two games, but it’s almost like a bonus for us that he hasn’t. He’s priced so low, especially on DK where he gets a point for every reception, that he’s nearly a must play this weekend. He is somewhat limited by the fact that he doesn’t score a ton of TD and that he’s not a high yards per reception guy, but if he can go 10-90 are you really going to complain? That will give you a very nice return on your investment and open a lot of avenues for you to spend up elsewhere…Robert Woods has now scored over 16 points in a PPR in four straight games. He came back to the lineup last week after a couple week injury absence and went right back to being Jared Goff’s favorite target. This week he’s up against a Titans defense that has struggled against WR1. I think he’s a safe bet for another 7-80 type of game with red zone upside.
Tier 2: Keenan Allen, Michael Thomas
– After being carted off the field in Week 15, Keenan Allen is somehow off the injury list this weekend. He’s got a great matchup, and although I worry a little about the west coast team coming east for an early game narrative, this is old hat for the Chargers. They’ve already played a number of early start east coast games this year and they need this game for their playoff hopes. The Jets need to lose this game for an earlier draft pick. Allen should benefit from Hunter Henry’s injury as well, adding in some red zone targets. He’s very close to a Tier 1 play…Michael Thomas was also in consideration for a Tier 1 spot but using him would prohibit me from using my high end RB and I choose them over him. If you wish to move off one of the RB though, then Thomas makes a ton of sense. He’s scored in three straight weeks, is one of the more consistent WR in the league, and he’s hammered the Falcons in his career (never going under 100 yards). He is a bit pricey, but he’s also one of the few top end WR that should safely give you a reasonable return on your investment.
Tier 3: Mike Evans, Damiere Byrd
– Who else is Jameis Winston going to throw to besides Mike Evans? DJax is out, OJ Howard is out, Cam Brate is banged up; there’s literally only one target for Winston. I suppose the Panthers could completely shut down the Buccaneers but even then Evans should see a dozen targets and return you 15 PPR points. That seems like a very reasonable floor and one you can take advantage of at his new, low price…It kind of feels like I am chasing points after Byrd scored twice last weekend but that’s far from the case. Someone has to be the WR2 for the Panthers and the matchup this weekend is gold. I have to find a number of cheap plays (Wright, Gates, Byrd) in order to be able to pay up for my higher end plays. I really think stars and scrubs is the way to go in Week 16 and stacking Byrd with Cam Newton is a pretty good way to get a punt with some upside into your lineup.
Guys I Won’t Touch: Evan Engram, Jason Witten
– Both of these guys are just super “meh” for me right now. Engram faces a Cardinals team that is very stingy against TE and Witten just doesn’t catch a high volume of passes anymore. There are much better options than either of these guys up and down the TE list.
Tier 1: Antonio Gates
– I need to save money at about three roster spots in order to pay up for all my RB, Cam, and Fitzgerald. TE is the best place for that to happen. I don’t care that word has come out that Jeff Cumberland is going to see some playing time in the absence of Hunter Henry; I find it implausible that Rivers is going to throw to him over Gates. Even if Gates is only in for 60% of the snaps, which snaps do you think it’s going to be; the passing or the rushing ones? It’ll be the passing downs for sure, while Cumberland can block for Melvin Gordon. I’ll be shocked if we don’t get at least 5 targets, including red zone looks, out of Gates this weekend. His price is so low that he really only needs to score to hit value (or go for something like 4-45). I’ll have him in almost all of my lineups this weekend; there is no other option for me.
Tier 2: Adam Shaheen, Eric Ebron
– Let’s pretend that Antonio Gates is a surprise inactive, then what? First and foremost is that I’m probably looking to Adam Shaheen if he’s playing. He’s going to see a modest workload against the Browns but if he doesn’t get an end zone target or two I’ll be shocked…If Shaheen is inactive then I will spend up a little bit at TE and get Ebron in my lineup. He’s been a big part of the Lions offense recently (18 combined targets the last two weeks) and the Bengals are garbage defensively. It wouldn’t shock me if he ended the week as a top six TE scorer.
Tier 3: Travis Kelce, Greg Olsen
– Maybe you want to spend up on TE. If so, then I’d take out one of my RB, move down to Jonathan Stewart and insert one of these TE…Travis Kelce has a great matchup against the Dolphins and is the safest pass catcher on the Chiefs…Olsen looked incredible last weekend and has a great matchup against the Buccaneers. He doesn’t have the upside that Kelce has but he’s cheaper and possibly safer. Cam loves him some Olsen.
Guys I Won’t Touch: Washington Redskins, Kansas City Chiefs, New Orleans Saints, Seattle Seahawks
Tier 1: Detroit Lions, Chicago Bears
– I’d take my two kid as a defense against the Bengals at this point. This team has completely given up and Andy Dalton has been benched in back to back weeks. Detroit has played pretty well defensively at home this year and even with their issues defending the run, I don’t see the Bengals doing much offensively. The best part about using the Lions is that they are cheap enough to not prohibit us from spending up elsewhere…I don’t know if any team has a better matchup than the Bears but, wow, you’re going to have to pay up to use them. DeShone Kizer leads the league in INT and with him always looking to run, he’s prone to getting sacked. The Bears average 3 sacks per game at home this year and I think that’s their floor. They could end up as the highest scoring defense of the week and are a recommended play if you can afford them.
Tier 2: Carolina Panthers, Arizona Cardinals
– The Buccaneers have exactly one threat on offense (Mike Evans) and he’s been playing like garbage for most of the season. I know that Jameis Winston has looked better over the last three weeks but Carolina has a ton to play for and they’re going to come out strong in this game. I could see them rolling TB for a 42-7 type of win; forcing Winston into mistake after mistake. The Evans threat is enough to put them down in the second tier but they are a fine play if you like them…With word out that Davis Webb might get some playing time this weekend, the Cardinals have made a huge jump for me up to Tier 2. They should be able to shut down the Giants WR and put a lot of pressure on the kid. I don’t know if we are looking at a Nate Peterman type of game but sacks and INT chances should be aplenty if Webb sees a couple of quarters worth of work. It’s a little risky use ARI as nothing is confirmed for the Giants but even if Eli plays the whole game, it’s not like he isn’t turnover prone.
Tier 3: Los Angeles Chargers, Jacksonville Jaguars
– The more I think about it, the more I like the Chargers. What have the Jets done the last few weeks that would make us scared of Bryce Petty? They scored a few points against the Saints but I think that LAC is a scarier defense that can put a LOT more pressure on Petty. I think we are in for a 3+ sack, 2+ turnover day. If LAC can take one to the house they are threaten the Bears as one of the top defenses on the slate…You never don’t think about the Jaguars. I don’t love them on the road against Garoppolo but they are still the Jags and that makes them a play worth considering (especially at a potentially very low ownership).
Your feedback is always welcome. If there’s a player you don’t see or would like to talk more about, you can find me on Twitter @bankster17. I’m around all the time for questions, advice, and comments. I answer every single person that sends me a Tweet.