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Daily Games

Starting Points NFL DFS Week 15

by Renee Miller
Updated On: December 15, 2019, 1:28 am ET

You know that targeting the highest scoring games and particularly the teams with the highest implied totals makes sense in fantasy football. This analysis will highlight exactly which situations are the best to take advantage of and which you might want to avoid within those games. We’ll also highlight a couple games to use caution with as well as some less obvious targets. All betting lines are courtesy of Westgate Sportsbook.

 

The high scoring games:

Houston at Tennessee, Total 50

Titans -3

The Titans are the talk of the town with Ryan Tannehill leading them into a tie with the Texans atop the AFC South. So this is a big game. The Titans have even moved into the Top 10 in points per game, a feat DraftKings has recognized by making Tannehill the fifth-highest priced QB option this week (he’s 13th on FanDuel). Coming off a nice road game in Oakland where he extended his TD:INT ratio to 15:5 with nearly 400 yards passing, Tannehill is home for a matchup with the third-most generous pass defense. He’s a top play this week. The Texans are almost equally generous to opposing running backs, allowing the fifth-most fantasy points to the position. Derrick Henry, though dealing with a tight and sore hamstring, looks to be in another premier position to succeed. Henry currently ranks third in half-PPR fantasy points and is second in rushing yards with 1243 yards. He’s also a scoring machine with 13 rushing and two receiving TDs, just one behind Christian McCaffrey and tied for first in rushing TDs with Dalvin Cook. He’s pricey, but Henry still feels like a bit of a bargain behind McCaffrey’s top salary. 

When it comes to Titans’ receivers, I’m less confident. A.J. Brown is up, down, up, down, and he was up in Week 14. I’m not so superstitious to think he’ll be down this week, but still don’t trust him for cash games given the rookie volatility. Corey Davis and Adam Humphries (if he plays) are non-factors. I’ve been waiting for Jonnu Smith to emerge for real, and he did have a nice line vs. the Raiders, but hasn’t been a reliable TE option overall. So, Tannehill and Henry are the two Titans worth paying for, while Smith and Brown might be functional salary-saving GPP plays. 

The Texans are only small underdogs here, a testament to their star power and 8-5 record in a must-win game. They are coming off a frustrating loss to Denver in which Deshaun Watson salvaged his fantasy day with two rushing touchdowns in the second half. DeAndre Hopkins ranks third in half-PPR fantasy points this season, sixth in receiving yards and second in targets. He broke a four-game streak of less than 100 receiving yards with a nice 7-120-1 performance in Week 14. He is also the most expensive WR option this week. 

What should we expect from the Texans in Nashville? Hopkins and Watson have both been about equally good on the road as at home, and they haven’t played Tennessee yet. The Titans are about as middle-of-the-road a defense as you can find, though they do have defensive touchdowns in each of the last two games. They have forced a fumble in four straight and you have to go back to Week 7 to find a game where they didn’t have multiple sacks, something Watson is at risk for. One notable weakness in terms of fantasy points allowed is at the tight end position. Jordan Akins had nine targets with Will Fuller inactive. He’s cheap, in a good matchup in a great game environment (look for a reminder of this in the bargain column). Bottom line, trust Watson and Hopkins, use Akins for some salary relief. 

LA Rams at Dallas, Total 49

Rams -1

The Rams are a team that is hard to figure out. Sometimes they look unstoppable, like the last two weeks vs. Arizona and Seattle, others they look like eminently stoppable (like Chicago, Pittsburgh and Baltimore). OK, so there’s a defensive component to their struggles, of course, but Dallas isn’t a bad defense. In fact, they allow the sixth-fewest passing yards per game, which is fewer than Chicago and Baltimore. Goff is priced at QB 8 (FD) or 11 (DK), which isn’t low enough for me to be real gung-ho about his prospects in a poor matchup. This is a little disappointing, because there has been some clarity around the rest of the skill players. Todd Gurley, Tyler Higbee, and Robert Woods are dominating opportunities at their respective positions. Because I don’t want to absorb the risk of a sunk score at QB, but do want a piece or two of a high scoring and close game, I will probably be working these one or two of those three into my cash game lineups rather than building or stacking around Goff this week. 

Dak Prescott and the Cowboys are one of the teams with a losing record to be leading the NFC East. This is an embarrassment to football but needless to say, they need a win here and it won’t be easy. Dak Prescott came away from last Thursday’s loss to Chicago with injuries to both hands, and the Rams are allowing just 221 passing yards per game (one spot below Baltimore). The good news is that he’s had a few extra days to heal and rest, he’s been significantly better at home this season, and that he can add value on his legs (nearly 20 rushing yards per game and three rushing touchdowns). Plus, Prescott isn’t super-expensive. His favorite target is still Amari Cooper, but Michael Gallup isn’t far behind – in production or salary. Jason Witten hasn’t disappeared either, with 15 targets in the last two games. I don’t mind a full Cowboys passing stack in tournaments, but can’t ignore Ezekiel Elliott in cash games. Of course, you’ll pay for him but there’s no bigger workhorse with more steady production in the league this year for the money.

 

The low scoring games:

Philadelphia at Washington, Total 40

Eagles -4.5

The Eagles, as noted above, are in a tie with Dallas for the NFC East division lead, so they very much have something to play for. After barely beating the Giants in overtime, trailing most of the night, do they even think they belong in the playoffs? This is a low scoring game but one you don’t have to completely ignore. There are WR injuries, and that is going to keep funneling targets to Zach Ertz, which is a good thing. Washington ranks ninth in fantasy points allowed to TEs. There’s too much going on injury-wise to feel good about making decisions beyond Ertz at this point, although I don’t hate Carson Wentz at his price. For the Redskins, we saw that the Eagles are vulnerable as ever to the pass, so although Terry McLaurin’s circus TD catch will increase his popularity this week, he’s still a really cheap WR1.

Chicago at Green Bay, Total 40.5

Packers -4.5

Chicago’s overall defensive ranking is strong, but they’ve allowed about twice as many points per game over the last nine games as compared to the first four games of the season. They don’t rank highly in sacks or turnovers, so while some people might think we’re over the era of avoiding Chicago, I’m a little worried. I think the Packers, including a reasonably priced and easy-to-overlook Aaron Rodgers, will be fine, but not much more than that. If you’re making lineups and need a reasonably safe QB, WR or RB, by all means go with Rodgers, Davante Adams or Aaron Jones, but I’m not trying to force anything into what could easily be another low scoring game for both teams. 

 

High team totals you might miss:

Atlanta at San Francisco, Total 47

49ers -11

The 49ers rank second in points scored per game and third in points allowed, leaving little hope or enthusiasm for rostering Falcons. FanDuel surprised me by making Jimmy Garoppolo the most expensive QB of the main slate, and therefore really unplayable there. However, he’s super-affordable on DraftKings and with a 29-point implied team total should be considered in all formats. This is a defense and run-oriented team, so I’m not going crazy for Garoppolo, but he is playing well in other Top 10 QB matchups like Arizona, New Orleans and Cincinnati. He has a 7:1 TD:INT ratio over the last three games. George Kittle, Emmanuel Sanders and Deebo Samuel are hard to parse. Any or all three could be reasonable plays this week. There is more separation between the two wideouts’ pricing on DraftKings, but I’ve been a Sanders fan since he made the move to SF. He’s my pick, with Kittle. We know the Niners like to run the ball and Raheem Mostert seems electrifying every time he touches it the past two weeks. I’m choking on his salary on FanDuel, but he’s only $5200 on DraftKings.

Denver at Kansas City, Total 46

Chiefs -9

Houston mounted a decent comeback effort against Denver last week, proving that they aren’t entirely avoidable for DFS, but they can’t be ignored either. Denver allows the 10th-fewest points per game and sixth-fewest fantasy points to QBs. I’m sure that part of this high team total for the Chiefs derives from their Arrowhead home field advantage. However, of all the playmakers on this KC team, only Tyreek Hill has better home splits. That includes the defense, for maybe the first time ever. Patrick Mahomes, another guy with a Week 14 hand injury, is still the highest priced QB on DK, second-highest at FD. He was injured the last time KC played Denver, and since that game has not exactly been QB1 material. There have been other difficult matchups in that span, but 6 TD:2 INT isn’t exactly what we expect over four games from the young star. I’m worried, and won’t be using Mahomes, Hill or Travis Kelce in cash games this week. A Chiefs stack in a multi-entry GPP, sure, but beware the low floors of these high-priced players. 

I might buy into the big game from Noah Fant, because even though I don’t know if Drew Lock can repeat his 300-plus yard, three-touchdown performance, I do think he’ll keep looking Fant’s way. The Chiefs have been increasingly tough to pass on and QBs and WRs are struggling to put up fantasy points. However, they rank fifth-most generous to TEs and remain the league-best RB matchup. Phillip Lindsay is an attractively priced GPP play. 

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Seattle at Carolina, Total 48.5

Seahawks -6.5

The Patriots are bigger favorites over the lowly Bengals, but the low game total earns them a lower implied team total than the Seahawks. I vastly prefer the Seahawks this week anyway, as Tom Brady and Co. have been frustrating and inconsistent. Russell Wilson, Tyler Lockett and D.J. Metcalf themselves have been in the frustrating category lately, as Wilson has really cooled off since Week 9, but he has run the gamut of difficult matchups in that span. He plays best against good offenses that keep the game competitive and the pressure on him to answer the scores. Thus, we really need to see something from the Panthers for Wilson and his receivers to be slate-makers. That, plus the weaker road performances from Wilson this season, combine to spell tournament-only for the Seahawks. 

Ditto for the Panthers, who have seriously lost their mojo the past couple weeks. Kyle Allen has nearly twice as many turnovers as touchdowns the past two games, though he has been saving his fantasy days with a rushing touchdown in each. Unfortunately, Christian McCaffrey hasn’t scored the past two weeks, his only such stretch of the season. The emergence of DJ Moore has potentially not helped him either. All in all, McCaffrey’s price, Allen’s mistakes and Moore’s history of disappearing makes the key Panthers’ options also GPP-worthy for me. Ian Thomas was a key component of Week 14 winning lineups and could be one of the most popular TE plays this week. He’s still very cheap and saw 10 targets in Week 14…I’m in.