Game Flowbotics A-to-Z – Week 16
It will be apparent as soon as you dive in, but this week’s A-to-Z is condensed due to holiday travel. Despite some strung-together letters in the text below, the Week 16 Game Flowbotics spreadsheet presents each of the slate’s DVOA matchups in gory statistical detail. Click the following big green link to sink your teeth in:
Editor’s Note: If you need a primer on the Flowbotics spreadsheet, check out this previous rankings article.
On to the alphabetized analysis…
A-B-C-D-E is for All Because Cincinnati’s Defense Expired.
That’s why I like Matthew Stafford ($8,500) in FanDuel’s Superflex DFS contests this week. The Bengals have been short multiple starters on defense, evidenced by their drop from 18th in overall defensive DVOA to 22nd in weighted defensive DVOA (more indicative of recent performance). Meanwhile, the Lions must win to stay in playoff contention, so it’s pedal-to-the-metal time for Stafford and his receivers. Kenny Golladay ($5,100) is a budget-friendly stacking option. Detroit just lost T.J. Jones to injured reserve, making Golladay the clear number three wideout, and Cincinnati ranks 29th in DVOA against third bananas. I wish his price tag were a little cheaper, but there aren’t many other receivers (if any) closer to minimum price with Golladay’s touchdown potential.
F is for Free Square?
The notion of an automatic play in daily fantasy, like the free square on a B-I-N-G-O card, is not something I fully subscribe to. Low cost is only part of the puzzle. You need to be fairly confident the free-square player will return value, and then you need to weigh that value versus projected ownership. Casting ownership questions aside, the cheapest quarterback with what feels like locked-in value to me is Jameis Winston ($7,700) at Carolina. The Panthers have allowed six straight weeks of 14-plus fantasy points and top-20 finishes to quarterbacks. Meanwhile, Jameis has topped 270 passing yards in all but two games this year when healthy. Unfortunately, one of those sub-270 performances was against the Panthers, back in Week 8. Winston didn’t fare especially well against Carolina last year, either, failing to top 220 passing yards in both of their meetings. Fantasy owners will probably be excited about using Winston after his three-touchdown game on Monday night against Atlanta, so much so that they might overlook Tampa Bay’s low 18.25-point implied total. Despite his discounted salary, I’m fading Winston outside of a couple game stacks with Cam Newton ($9,100).
G is for Garrett & George.
Considering the leverage Jacksonville’s defense has against outside receivers with cornerbacks Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye, I expect to see more work for San Francisco tight ends Garrett Celek ($5,000) and George Kittle ($4,700) this week. Celek has dominated snaps in recent weeks, and Jimmy Garoppolo has connected with him on touchdowns in two straight games. Garoppolo’s apprenticeship in New England clearly taught him the value of spreading the ball around, and he’s skilled enough to move San Francisco’s offense against the Jaguars. He still needs time to throw, however, and that’s not something we can count on against Jacksonville’s top-ranked pass rush according to Adjusted Sack Rate. Tight end touchdown B-I-N-G-O is a necessary evil sometimes, and I think either Celek or Kittle could score this week, but there are probably better shadows to chase this week, even if you’re desperate.
H is for Honk if You Love Running Back Battles!
Devonta Freeman ($7,000) and Tevin Coleman ($6,300) face Mark Ingram ($8,300) and Alvin Kamara ($8,500) this week…
Check out my Week 16 rankings to see how they stack up.
I-J is for I’m Jealous…
Of anyone who owns Dion Lewis ($6,700) in their seasonal leagues. When I placed my chips in New England’s game of running back roulette back in the preseason, they mostly landed on James White ($4,700) and Mike Gillislee ($4,500). I had a few shares of Rex Burkhead, but he’s likely out until the playoffs with a sprained knee. Lewis is now set up for a featured role in fantasy’s championship week, just in time for his team’s second-ranked rushing offense to face Buffalo’s 28th-ranked rush defense. As 12-point favorites, the Patriots figure to run a lot in this contest, and Dion Lewis is sure to be a chalky value play as the 15th-most expensive running back on FanDuel.
K is for Kirk Cousins.
According the Rotoviz Game Splits App, Kirk Cousins ($7,900) has been more efficient at home than on the road since 2015. In that span, he averages more yards per game (+13) and more yards per attempt (+0.5) when playing in the nation’s capital. Cousins plays there this week against a Denver defense allowing 2.5 more fantasy points per game to quarterbacks when on the road. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a good matchup for Washington’s signal-caller, but it probably isn’t as bad as public perception, which means Cousins could have contrarian value on the chance he overperforms expectations. Denver’s true strength on defense is stopping the run, and Washington has the right kinds of weapons to attack the Broncos through the air — a good slot receiver in Jamison Crowder ($6,900) and a quality tight end in Vernon Davis ($6,000). But because Washington tends to spread the ball around, Cousins is probably better used naked than in stacks with his receivers. His ceiling is limited, though. The over/under in Washington’s matchup with Denver is only 41 points, and you can find more upside by paying up from Cousins to Case Keenum ($8,200), Dak Prescott ($8,300), or Jared Goff ($8,300), all of whom have better matchups and stacking opportunities.
L is for Lewis and Leaky Lineups.
Marcedes Lewis ($4,600) has three top-10 finishes this season, correlating with the three weeks when he scored touchdowns. That includes his TE1 supernova of scores against Baltimore in Week 3. This week, he faces a Niners defense that has allowed seven scores to tight ends over their past eight games. The tight end waiver wire can be thin this time of year, and Lewis could plug lineup leaks left by Hunter Henry and O.J. Howard.
M is for Martavis’ Moment.
With Antonio Brown sidelined, it’s time for Martavis Bryant ($7,200) to step up against the Texans. Houston ranks 29th in DVOA against number two wide receivers, allowing 9.6 more yards per game than league average to the position. Their 10.5 yards per pass allowed to second fiddles is by far the most in the NFL. It’s tough to put stock into Bryant after such a disappointing season to date, especially on the road, where Ben Roethlisberger ($9,100) historically struggles. But this matchup is too good to ignore and fortune favors bold calls in the fantasy playoffs.
N is for Next Man Up.
Who is it in the Chargers’ receiving ranks now that Hunter Henry has hit injured reserve? Could it be rookie Mike Williams ($4,700). Expectations were high for the big-bodied receiver when Los Angeles picked him seventh overall in the draft. Or perhaps Antonio Gates ($4,500) is primed for one last surge in what might be his retirement tour. It might not be either this week, as the Jets rank fifth in DVOA against number three wideouts and seventh in DVOA against tight ends. Meanwhile, they rank dead last against number one receivers like Keenan Allen ($8,300). The price for Allen is steep, but fully justified considering his recent tear of production.
O is for Odd Game Out.
Saturday’s tilt between Indianapolis and Baltimore didn’t make it onto FanDuel’s Superflex slate. If you’re looking for an angle to attack in the matchup, my favorites are T.Y. Hilton and the tight ends from both teams, Jack Doyle and Ben Watson. The Ravens are still without top cornerback Jimmy Smith, and his absence isn’t yet reflected in DVOA’s 4th-place ranking for Baltimore against top wideouts like Hilton. Meanwhile, both teams rank bottom-three in DVOA and allow above average yardage per game against tight ends.
P is for Podcast Callback.
On this week’s 2QB Experience podcast, Ben Cummins and I talked about how to forecast Jared Goff’s ($8,300) sporadic high-end performances. I think we’re in store for one this week. The Titans rank 10th in run defense DVOA, but 24th in pass defense DVOA. Against a team like the Rams with three quality receivers in Robert Woods ($6,600), Sammy Watkins ($6,200), and Cooper Kupp ($6,400), the Titans’ struggles with number two wideouts are a major liability. One of those pass-catchers should get open on most plays, and Sean McVay’s offense is designed to find and exploit such holes in coverage. With an implied total of 27.25 points, the Rams’ passing game is worth piling into your DFS lineups this week.
Q-R-S is for Quit Rostering Seferian-Jenkins.
Bryce Petty has crushed the dreams we had for a continuing breakout from Austin Seferian-Jenkins ($5,400). The Chargers are about league average against tight ends this season, but we simply can’t trust ASJ with Petty delivering him the ball.
T-U-V is for The Ultimate Value.
It could be Roger Lewis ($5,200) this week. Tavarres King is in danger of sitting out as he recovers from a concussion, Sterling Shepard should be shadowed by Patrick Peterson, and Evan Engram faces an Arizona defense holding tight ends to 43.1 yards per game (compared to a league average of 51.8). That leaves Lewis as the path of least resistance in the passing game. If he can build on the 11 and 10 targets he posted in his past two games, Lewis will have little trouble returning significant value on his insignificant cost, especially if he can find the end zone.
W is for Wright on Target.
Despite playing the third-most snaps of Chicago’s receivers over the past two weeks, Kendall Wright ($5,100) has been their undisputed number one wide receiver with 24 total targets. For comparison, Josh Bellamy ($4,500) has the next most targets in that span with only 11. Mitchell Trubisky’s ($7,400) pass attempt volume is tough to trust, but there’s clear incentive to throw against the Browns. Cleveland ranks 28th in pass defense DVOA and first in rush defense DVOA. They also rank 28th in DVOA against number one wide receivers, allowing 9.4 yards per pass to top options like Wright, the seventh-highest mark in football. Considering the 38-point over/under, it’s probably not worth considering players from ether team in this matchup for your DFS lineups, but seasonal rosters might still be able to benefit from the addition of Wright, or even Trubisky as a low-end streamer.
X is for Xela.
Which is “Alex” backwards. After Alex Smith’s ($8,400) production started going backwards in the middle of the season, Chiefs coach Andy Reid transferred play-calling responsibilities to offensive coordinator Matt Nagy in Week 13. Smith has generally been back on track since then, averaging 22.4 fantasy points per game, but that average is skewed between a huge game against the Jets and a lackluster game against Oakland. Posting 18-plus points against the Chargers’ defense last week was impressive, but he only threw for 231 yards in that contest. You’ll have to forgive me for not buying in whole-hog to the new play-caller narrative for TwoQBs’ spirit quarterback.
With all of that said, Smith gets to face the Dolphins this week, who have allowed four top-10 quarterback finishes in their last six games. The two times a quarterback failed to hit in that span were Week 13 against Denver’s horror show under center and Week 14’s inexplicable dud from Tom Brady. And for what it’s worth, Brady managed 20.68 points against them two weeks prior in Week 12, a QB9 finish, so it’s safe to say Miami is a favorable matchup for competent quarterbacks. Smith’s greatest asset against the Dolphins might be his rushing ability. Two of the top-10 performance against Miami over the past six weeks belong to Cam Newton and Tyrod Taylor. In those games, Cam rushed five times for 95 yards, and Tyrod rushed six time for 42 yards and a touchdown. Alex Smith ranks fifth in total rushing yards among passers, behind only Newton, Russell Wilson, Taylor, and DeShone Kizer. Look for Smith to pad his fantasy stats with production from his legs, en route to a top-12 finish against Miami.
Y is for YOLO.
You only live one, or so they say, so if you believe in Alex Smith, you can consider stacking him with Jay Cutler ($7,400) this week. Cutler is as sporadic as quarterbacks come, but Kansas City’s defense ranks last in weighted defensive DVOA. I’ll be the first to admit that ranking doesn’t really jive with what we’ve seen in KC’s recent box scores, though. Their defense looks improved, having held opposing quarterbacks to fewer than 15 points in all but one game since their Week 10 bye. Still, in a Superflex DFS tournament setting, Cutler is appealing based on his low cost and potential correlation with what might be a big game for Smith.
Z is for Zeke.
You’re sitting pretty if you get to start Ezekiel Elliott ($8,300) in your championship against Seattle’s crumbling defense. The Jaguars and Rams ran all over the Seahawks over the past two weeks, and you know the Cowboys want to do the same in Zeke’s Week 16 return. He only landed on one of my redraft rosters, and I had to cut him to plug some rosters holes once his suspension locked in. Part of my justification had to do with this Seattle matchup being so tough on paper at the time. This serves as an important reminder that what’s true in Week 11 is not always true in Week 16. Thankfully, I can still use Elliott in DFS, where he offers RB1 upside at RB5 cost.
Editor’s Note: DVOA, Adjusted Line Yards, Adjusted Sack Rate, and Versus-Receiver statistics from FootballOutsiders.com. Fantasy Scoring and Red Zone statistics from FantasyData.com. Snap data from airyards.com.