Welcome to the Week 15 FanDuel Primer, brought to you by RotoGrinders. I’ll be breaking down a number of our stat pages/tools that we feel are solid predictors of success from a daily fantasy standpoint.
Before we get deep into the targets/percentage of workload analysis, let’s start things off with our Defense vs. Position page. This page gives you an idea of how each team defends a particular position. This is one of my favorite tools to use each week, and I rely on it more each week as the sample size continues to grow. All player salaries listed below are from FanDuel.
Quarterback – Carson Palmer ($8,700) vs. Philadelphia (31st vs. QBs)
Palmer is in an excellent spot in Week 15 against an Eagles Defense that has surrendered the second-most FPPG to QBs this season. The Cardinals have a high team total of 27 and this game is expected to stay competitive, so Palmer should be throwing early and often to exploit a beatable secondary. The Eagles pass rush can be very scary at times, but they seem to leave their corners on an island far too often and pay in the form of long passing plays. Considering Palmer rarely utilizes the TE position, it certainly doesn’t hurt that the Eagles have allowed the most FPPG to WRs through 14 weeks. The outside corners (Byron Maxwell and Eric Rowe) should be picked on frequently, which makes John Brown and/or Michael Floyd a nice stacking option to pair up with Palmer. Larry Fitzgerald isn’t in a bad spot, but Brown and Floyd are cheaper and have similarly high ceilings (albeit with much lower floors). Palmer is a viable option in any format and should be targeted confidently.
Running Back – Lamar Miller ($6,700) vs. San Diego (27th vs. RBs)
An ankle tweak slowed up his overall production, but Miller ran extremely well on Monday night and should be expected to do the same on Sunday against the Chargers. He’s been limited in practice on both Wednesday and Thursday, although it doesn’t appear that he has any real shot of being forced to sit out of game action as a result. Jay Ajayi hasn’t been a real threat to his workload and is instead acting in a complementary role, basically replacing what Damien Williams had been doing earlier in the year. Assuming he’s healthy heading into Sunday, Miller is a threat for 20+ touches against a Chargers Defense that has allowed the fifth-most rushing yards per game to opposing RBs. If he ends up with a workload in that neighborhood, he’s going to far exceed value at his $6,700 price tag.
Wide Receiver - Jeremy Maclin ($6,700) vs. Baltimore (31st vs. WRs)
Maclin has been very streaky this year, but a lot of that is matchup related. Maclin posted a trio of three catch games against Detroit (where he drew Darius Slay’s coverage), Denver (least number of FPPG allowed to WRs) and San Diego (eighth-fewest FPPG allowed to WRs), but has since followed them up with receiving lines of 9-160-1 (vs. BUF), 9-95-2 (vs. OAK) and 6-68-0 (vs. SD). Alex Smith’s top target couldn’t ask for a much better Week 15 spot, as he’ll take on a Ravens secondary that has allowed the second-most FPPG to WRs. Maclin lines up all over the field so he’ll see a variety of CBs, but none of them have been graded out particularly well in coverage and they showed why last week against Russell Wilson and Seahawks. As far as $/point plays go at the WR position, it doesn’t get much better than this.
Tight End – Greg Olsen ($6,800) vs. New York Giants (30th vs. TEs)
The only concern here is that the Panthers may take it easy on Olsen, who left last week’s game with a knee injury and ended up playing just 49% of the Panthers offensive snaps. There hasn’t been anything to suggest Olsen will be limited Sunday and the Panthers will already be without Jonathan Stewart, so Olsen should be expected to see his normal allotment of targets. The Giants have allowed the second-most FPPG to the TE position and have been gashed by Ben Watson, Rob Gronkowski and Jordan Reed in recent weeks. I can see Olsen’s ownership percentage being down this week, which only makes him more attractive in tournaments.
Let’s transition to the Targets page, where you’ll find a breakdown of touches, targets, red-zone targets and percentage of workload, among other. It’s an invaluable tool that can help you find players who are in the best positions to succeed; it’s no secret that you want players on your fantasy team who are heavily involved in the offense, especially those that are also key cogs in the red-zone. Instead of hand-picking a few players to touch on, I’m going to give a general overview of what’s happened through 14 weeks. I will not be including any players from Thursday or Saturday’s game.
Wide Receivers that have averaged at least 9.5 targets per game, per Sportradar:
Julio Jones – 12.9
DeAndre Hopkins – 12.2
Antonio Brown – 11.3
Odell Beckham – 10.9
Brandon Marshall – 10.8
Jarvis Landry – 10.4
Julian Edelman – 9.8
Calvin Johnson – 9.5
Julio Jones has a nice matchup against the Jaguars sandwiched between two meetings with Josh Norman. He’s now gone five straight weeks without finding the end zone, but his overall usage and reception numbers haven’t dropped off (he’s averaging 12.25 targets and 7.25 receptions over his past four games). He’s my top overall option at the WR position in Week 15. Jones finds himself above DeAndre Hopkins for a few reasons. Hopkins roasted the Colts earlier this year, but T.J. Yates is now taking over at the QB spot and it’s very possible Hopkins will see plenty of Vontae Davis. His target total should be in double digits, but his price makes him a GPP-only selection. Antonio Brown has a brutal matchup with a Broncos secondary that has allowed the least FPPG to WRs this season. He won’t have a plus WR/CB matchup regardless of where he lines up, but his high usage and route running ability keep him very much in play. He’s better targeted in tournaments, but I couldn’t knock you for playing him in a cash game.
Alshon Jeffery will face off with a combination of Xavier Rhodes and Trae Waynes, neither of whom have graded out well in coverage (per PFF). Minnesota didn’t use Rhodes to shadow Jeffery earlier this year and it’s unlikely they do it this week. Jeffery is still priced a tier below the elite options, but he’s not that far behind them in terms of ceiling. Demaryius Thomas’ production has slowed with the decline of the Broncos QB situation, but he’s in a nice spot this week. Pittsburgh has allowed the third-most FPPG to WRs and Thomas has out-targeted Emmanuel Sanders 33 to 23 over the past three games. He’s not a cash game play but Thomas does have some nice against-the-grain appeal given Pittsburgh’s defense being much more vulnerable through the air (they’ve allowed the second-fewest FPPG to RBs). Odell Beckham’s outlook is murky due to the likelihood that he draws Josh Norman in coverage more often than not. The Giants may be able to avoid Norman by lining Beckham up in the slot, and with how heavily involved Beckham is in a Giants Offense that can’t move the ball on the ground, volume alone may be enough to make Beckham valuable. While Norman is an elite corner, Beckham is one of the league’s biggest freaks in terms of athleticism and I’d say it’s fair to call him matchup proof. He’s a solid GPP target for the sake of paying up to be contrarian.
Brandon Marshall has been about as consistent as they come this season. He draws a nice assignment against a tandem of Morris Claiborne and Brandon Carr and remains an elite target in any format. Jarvis Landry is coming off of an 18-target game, and he should avoid the coverage of Jason Verrett. He remains a solid upside target given his extremely high usage (he’s second among WRs in percentage of workload). While Philly is a team we love to target with receivers, Larry Fitzgerald draws the toughest matchup in the secondary with safety Malcolm Jenkins, who will be even more likely to roam the slot if E.J. Biggers is forced to play on the outside with Bryon Maxwell banged up. Fitz still possesses a high ceiling and is a fine GPP target, but he’s not someone I’d trust in cash games. Allen Robinson remains a weekly GPP option and the only concern surrounding his Week 15 outlook is Desmond Trufant’s presence. Trufant doesn’t shadow, but Robinson still figures to line up on his side of the field enough to bring his floor down a notch. Robinson still has an extremely high ceiling and should feast when he’s not lined up against Trufant. Julian Edelman is safe to avoid this week. While he’s likely to return, he could be on a snap count and the Patriots aren’t likely to push him in a game they should control easily. Calvin Johnson’s matchup with the Saints is great on paper, but he’ll likely see a fair amount of Delvin Breaux (who isn’t expected to shadow Johnson) and he makes for an interesting tournament fade. He’ll likely be a very popular play and it’s certainly not a bad move to roster him, but there is upside to playing the fade. Johnson has seen more than ten targets just once since Week 4.
Top Five WRs in terms of Percentage of Workload (POW, which indicates the percentage of team touches that player has received):
Jarvis Landry – 18.75% (18.39% RZ POW)
Julio Jones – 16.54% (15.15% RZ POW)
Antonio Brown – 16.43% (13.60% RZ POW)
Larry Fitzgerald – 14.39% (10.48% RZ POW)
DeAndre Hopkins – 13.57% (15.31% RZ POW)
Tight Ends that have averaged at least 7 targets per game:
Antonio Gates – 8.6
Jordan Reed – 8.4
Rob Gronkowski – 8.0
Gary Barnidge – 7.7
Julius Thomas – 7.0
Antonio Gates is the Chargers' unquestioned top weapon in the passing game with Stevie Johnson likely to sit, and he draws a matchup with a Dolphins Defense that has allowed the fourth-most FPPG to TEs. He’s still a little tough to stomach in cash games given the low ceiling of the Chargers passing game, but the volume should be there. Jordan Reed has GPP winning upside most weeks, but he draws a very tough matchup with the Bills, who have done a great job against TEs throughout the year. Reed is not a guy I would trust in cash games and I’ll likely be avoiding him altogether. Delanie Walker may draw some extra attention from the Patriots Defense this week given the Titans lack of talent at WR. Walker is the only real threat Tennessee has in the passing game and Belichick’s teams are known for slowing the opposing team’s top option.
On the other side of the field, Rob Gronkowski showed no rust in his return from injury on Sunday night and with Edelman possibly limited, Gronk should remain the focal point of New England’s offense. The Seahawks still boast one of the league’s best defenses, although they remain susceptible to TEs. Gary Barnidge figures to act as Johnny Manziel’s top target in a game in which the Browns should be forced to throw it often, so he’s a nice option if you’re looking for a high-upside play at a low ownership percentage. Julius Thomas has now scored in four straight games and his price has begun to reflect that. His ceiling keeps him very much in play as far as tournaments go, but he still has a fairly low floor given his price.
Top Five TEs in terms of Percentage of Workload:
Delanie Walker – 13.14% (14.10% RZ POW)
Gary Barnidge – 11.00% (14.55% RZ POW)
Greg Olsen – 10.45% (11.51% RZ POW)
Jordan Reed – 10.34% (14.95% RZ POW)
Jason Witten – 10.20% (10.53% RZ POW)
Welcome to Value town, parts unknown. I won’t be recommending the Aaron Rodgers’ of the world here, but instead will highlight a few players with price tags that don’t add up to their level of talent, opportunity and/or matchup. The ultimate goal is to find players at the bottom of the salary chart who have the upside to produce at an elite level.
Quarterback - Tyrod Taylor ($7,500)
This is a rare week in which I don’t think I’ll have any exposure to QBs under $7,000. Jay Cutler isn’t in a bad spot, but Chicago has gone very run heavy with Matt Forte and Jeremy Langford both healthy, and he’s the only upside option I like in that price range. Taylor’s price across the industry hasn’t reflected his upside all season and Sunday’s meeting with the Redskins isn’t going to make me shy away from utilizing him in GPPs. The Redskins secondary has improved throughout the season and actually grades out well per PFF ratings, making Taylor a tough sell as a cash game play. With that said, this isn’t a defense we need to avoid with opposing QBs/WRs, and he and Sammy Watkins have been connecting on big plays more consistently of late.
I’d have no problem pairing these two up in cash games in order to spend heavy at QB and WR. Andre Ellington almost certainly won’t play on Sunday night, leaving the backfield to Johnson for a third consecutive week. Johnson has seen 24 touches in both of the past two games in which he’s drawn the start, and there isn’t any reason to think his workload drops off much (if at all) against the Eagles. As for Robinson, his status as a DFS option lies with whether or not T.J. Yeldon suits up. If Yeldon sits, Robinson is a candidate for 16-22 touches against one of the league’s worst run defenses. There isn’t a whole lot to like at the high-end of the RB pool, so saving cap space with these two is more than viable given the workload that each is expected to see.
It’s extremely tough to predict which one of these two will go off on any given week. They are both really solid tournament targets given their salary and matchup with the Eagles' outside CBs, and pairing one (or both) up with Carson Palmer is a recommended tournament strategy. If I had to pick one of these two this week I’d lean slightly towards John Brown due to the fact that he’s been more consistent when healthy and still has plenty of big play upside of his own. Floyd is the ultimate boom or bust play but looks to be in a favorable spot on Sunday night.
Tight End – Eric Ebron ($4,800)
Ebron should take on a bigger role in the Lions Offense with Brandon Pettigrew now out for the season, and his matchup couldn’t be any better in Week 15. New Orleans has leapfrogged the Raiders as the leakiest TE defense in the league and isn’t showing any real signs of improvement on that front. Ebron’s increasing snap count should allow for his target total to creep up and if the Saints are able to slow Calvin Johnson at all, Ebron would figure to benefit alongside Golden Tate. He is by no means playable in cash games, but Ebron does have an intriguing ceiling given Stafford’s willingness to target him in the red-zone.