Check out Colin Huber’s expert DFS picks and insight as you put together your lineups for Week 15 of the NFL season.
Week 14 wasn’t a good week for us, by our own lofty standards. Our average score was 116 and marked the second-worst performance on the season. I value honesty, so I’m going to do what other writers typically don’t do and own up to my picks when they don’t turn out to be great. We learn from mistakes and make the adjustments, so they happen less frequently in the future.
By the close of Monday night, we only cashed one of our three matchups. It wasn’t as much of a variable bust as we had last week. We only really had two picks with a massive week, which wasn’t enough to overcome the average to decent performances from the other picks. I am spending extra time researching the matchups this week, so we can get back over the 120 bar and into the 140 range we were in not too long ago.
What happened during Week 14?
Last week, I had contemplated starting Amari Cooper to stack with one of our quarterback picks, Dak Prescott. I didn’t and doing so would’ve resulted in a much different result for last week’s picks. Our quarterback picks were strong, as they have been all season. Dak led with 26, while Josh Allen (20) and Ben Roethlisberger (19) weren’t too far behind. Big Ben’s injury forced him to miss nearly half the game, so I can’t help but feel we got cheated out of a massive game. Cam Newton played just above his floor with 12 points (he looked hurt).
Running backs were a rainbow. Zeke had a hefty 25 points while Aaron Jones again proved himself more valuable than his price (18 points). Sony Michel (6) pooped the bed to round out the week. The receivers were as average as we’re ever picked. DaVante Adams (18), Michael Thomas (15), and Adam Thielen (10) capped off a very mediocre week, but our honorable mention player, TY Hilton, had a big week with 24 points. Our tight ends were very solid this week. Kelce managed 17, while Cook (15) and Ebron (15) helped our picks to finish as the 2,3, and 4th best tight ends for the week! Our defenses weren’t good but the flex picks picked up the slack with Dalvin Cook (17) leading Samuels (13) and Cohen (11).
A look ahead to Week 15
This week’s focus is on stacking quarterbacks with stud receivers in offense-focused games. We are also going to focus running back priority on the less expensive options this week with good matchups. Last week, we stumbled across the finish line with our mediocre rosters. Pay attention to the “Honorable Mention” player each week. Since adding this option as a means to serve as fill-ins for injuries and suspensions, these picks have averaged 26 points each week!
An Honorable Mention that didn’t quite make the cut this week to fill in your roster: Robert Woods ($7,500 on FanDuel). Woods is a great stacking option this week. As one of the highest rated receivers via PFF, Woods should be able to capitalize on weak matchups against a helpless Eagles secondary.
Good luck in Week 15.
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Pat Mahomes (DK-$6,900/FD-$9,400)
Pat Mahomes has been a solid play nearly every week this season. Following a week against the stout Ravens defense, it took a big fourth quarter, but Mahomes managed another great game. This week, Mahomes is currently a -200 favorite to throw at least three touchdowns. Though he doesn’t have the yardage odds as Big Ben (340), he has a greater chance of throwing more touchdowns. His rushing boost isn’t much, but it’s always possible Mahomes has a good day on the ground as well.
Given the Chargers pass rush, the loss of Kareem Hunt should result in even more dropbacks and possible scrambles from Pat. For all the talent Mahomes possesses and the weapons at his disposal, the sky is the limit this week in this rivalry game.
Philip Rivers (DK-$6,300/FD-$8,300)
Rivers is facing the worst passing defense in football this week. Even though that’s technically the case, there are risks involved with this game. For one, the game is in Kansas City. Last season, the Chargers were burning through their schedule en route to a night game in KC, before laying an egg. I think the Pittsburgh comeback was very telling for the season and should put to rest any doubts about Rivers in tough, primetime matchups. Besides, the Chiefs are much worse than the Steelers on defense. Rivers has a 315-yard, 2 touchdown line for the game.
His odds at two touchdowns is a whopping -600, but falls to +140 at three touchdowns. Vegas has their sights zeroed in on this prop line. If you want to roll out Keenan Allen for a good stacking opportunity, this would be a good matchup for it.
Jared Goff (DK-$6,400/FD-$7,900)
Jared Goff had a game to forget last week. His stat line was atrocious, but I managed to steer very clear of him last week because why would I recommend anyone against the Bears? Let’s get real here. This week, Goff gets the Eagles. The Eagles just allowed themselves to be embarrassed by Amari Cooper and Dak Prescott. If you trust Vegas with odds (Spoiler: you should), there’s no good reason not to start Goff at home this week against the defenseless Super Bowl champs. Goff’s line is 315 yards and 3 touchdowns at -250 odds. Start him at a great value.
Tom Brady (DK-$5,900/FD-$7,900)
I’ve avoided Brady since early in the season, but this game gives me great hope. For one, the Raiders exposed the Steelers defense a week ago. Secondly, the Patriots are favored by one point, on the road. With a total points line over 50, this should turn out to be another classic shootout between the two conference rivals. Brady’s line is 320 yards passing and even odds for 3 touchdowns. Much like Goff, Brady’s price is going at a discount on FanDuel and drops even more for DraftKings ($5,900).
The Steelers are 12th against the pass this season, but their lack of an effective ground game — with Conner still out — should result in more stoppages of the clock, thus slowing the game pace and incrementally increasing the Patriots odds for additional possessions in the game.
Saquan Barkley (DK-$9,400/FD-$9,400)
I don’t often go over $9,000 on players. However, Saquan Barkley is peaking right now and faces a Titans defense who hasn’t fared well against balanced offenses (17th vs the run). Sure, the Titans were able to pin their ears back against the likes of Jacksonville and run blitz for four quarters, but the Giants are a different animal. The Titans are exploitable on defense and the Giants are suddenly looking like one of the better teams in the NFC.
With the way Barkley has been rushing and the volume he’s received, there’s a very strong chance Barkley walks out of this game with the Rookie of the Year trophy slung over his shoulder.
Joe Mixon (DK-$6,100/FD-$7,800)
Mixon is coming off a great week against the Chargers in which he scored once and had nearly 140 yards on 31 touches. Mixon is getting the volume owners dreamed about when they took him this season. The Raiders are 31st against the run this season and been drubbed when encountering strong rushing teams this season.
Mixon’s line this week is 80 yards rushing, which isn’t incredible, but the Raiders have a crazy stat going against them in this one. Since Week 3, the Raiders have allowed over 100 yards to opposing backs or at least one touchdown, each week. Since Mixon is a Bell cow back, there’s a good chance either one of those things will happen for him this week.
Justin Jackson (DK-$4,900/FD-$4,500)
He’s still cheap. This is the steal of the season if you roster this man and he gets all the work in the upcoming Chiefs game. Seriously, with Gordon not likely to play and Ekeler out, Jackson will get the reps he’s waited all season for. In a potential shootout, plugging into a top 3 player’s slot in a high-powered offense, Jackson is in the perfect situation to have a big week. All he must do is execute the plays against a terrible defense and this start will go down as one of the best $4,500 buys in FanDuel history.
I was shocked to see him still at this price and hurried to slot him in every lineup. Seriously, where else are you going to find the volume and opportunity at that price? Most players in this range are backup tight ends. If Gordon is out this week, start Justin Jackson. Vegas already has his odds at 65 yards rushing and his receiving yards in this game will undoubtedly be somewhere in the 15 to 25 range. The Chiefs are 25th against the rush, but that shouldn’t matter much for the potential volume at stake.
DeAndre Hopkins (DK-$8,200/FD-$8,600)
DeAndre Hopkins is facing the New York Jets on Saturday. He’s coming off a relatively quiet game against the Colts and will be looking to make up for his last month of above-average performances. In the past month, Hopkins is averaging a just over 11 points per game so he’s certainly due for a big game. The Jets are very average against the pass and Hopkins is a matchup-proof player on a team playing for the division title. Expect a motivated Texans team to come out firing against the Jets this week. Disclaimer: I know Jamaal Adams is a terrific young safety, but I’m not concerned for Hopkins.
Keenan Allen (DK-$7,800/FD-$8,000)
Keenan Allen is up to his usual late-season tricks with Allen is averaging over 20 points per game over the past four games. The Chiefs are 32nd against the pass. This is another pick that shouldn’t require much of a sales pitch. Everything about this matchup makes sense for Allen. Start him with confidence this week. I expect the line for broken ankles courtesy of Keenan Allen’s route running to be no less than five.
JuJu Smith-Schuster (DK-$8,000/FD-$7,800)
JuJu had a very fortunate ending to cap off his monster game last week. A lateral put him well over the 100-yard mark and turned his great week into an elite week. Only Amari Cooper was better from the receivers last week. This week, the Steelers will host the Patriots. The Patriots are one of the best teams at eliminating the opposing team’s biggest threat on offense. Luckily for JuJu, Antonio Brown still holds that label, so JuJu should see favorable matchups throughout the game. JuJu is priced very low relative to his ranking and shouldn’t be. Considering what the Dolphins did to the Patriots last week, I’m surprised JuJu is this cheap.
Travis Kelce (DK-$7,400/FD-$7,900)
Kelce had a solid week against the much-hyped Ravens defense last week. Despite his 17 points, it seemed like a bit of a letdown. This week, Kelce will get his shot at redemption against the Chargers, who nearly shut him out the first time around. With the status of Watkins and Tyreke Hill in question this week, Kelce should again get heavy action.
George Kittle (DK-$6,300/FD-$7,400)
George Kittle had 210 yards at the half last week and the Niners didn’t have the heart to continue to abuse the Broncos in a game that was one-sided for the majority of the contest. I have recommended Kittle multiple times and he’s paid off from time to time. Last week, Kittle completely overshadowed my three tight end picks who finished 2nd, 3rd, and 4th. I’m not letting it happen again. The tricky part for Seattle is finding someone who can match Kittle’s physicality and speed. That’s the issue with tight ends for coverages. Kittle can just sit down in a soft spot in a zone and kill your defense all game.
If you try to cover him with a linebacker, he’ll burn him all game. Even many safeties can’t cover Kittle. The last time they played, Kittle had six receptions for 70 yards the last time these two teams played. Count on him having another solid outing this week.
Jared Cook (DK-$5,600/FD-$6,300)
Jared Cook has been the 5th best tight end in football this season and it might be the most concrete standing among the top five guys. As good as Ertz, Kittle, Ebron, and Kelce have been, Cook has been alone on that second tier all season. Though he’s certainly flashed in some games, Cook has some pretty solid footing on fifth place island, all by himself. After Cook, the drop-off is pretty tremendous (asterisk by Gronk). Cook has been the only real weapon for this offense since the departure of Amari Cooper, so it’s safe to trust his streak of four straight games with at least 10 points will continue this week against the Bengals.
Jaguars D (DK-$3,400/FD-$4,800)
The Jags weren’t good last week. The Jags let Derrick Henry stop them into oblivion. This week, the Redskins are coming into town, starting their fourth quarterback of the season. As far as matchups go, this is number one. Hopefully, the Jags can rebound from last week behind the support of their home fans, much like the Colts game two weeks prior.
Houston D (DK-$3,200/FD-$4,600)
The Texans will have their crack at the banged-up Jets this week. The Bills let last week’s game slip away, but the Texans and their dangerous pass rush should offer the Jets more cause for concern than the Bills a week prior.
Cowboys D (DK-$2,300/FD-$3,400)
The Cowboys didn’t bring it against the Eagles last week. Nonetheless, I’ll take a team with great linebackers and a solid pass rush in a matchup against the Colts, who have dissected teams via the tight end matchups this season. The Colts are going to have some issues with the Wolf Hunter, Leighton Vander-Esch. For the past five weeks, he’s been stalking opposing backs and tight ends. The Colts are in for an incredibly rough game and Vander-Esch will again be the center of all the action. Expect the Cowboys to continue their streak this week against the volatile Colts.
Dalvin Cook (DK-$6,500/FD-$6,200)
Dalvin Cook salvaged a bland week with a late touchdown, deep into garbage time. This week, Cook gets the Dolphins, which are 25th versus the run. I don’t understand the lack of faith from DraftKings and FanDuel with Cook. He’s repeatedly priced low and has played exceptionally well, albeit sparingly, in limited work this season. This is all about the weak matchup. If you’re stacking a quarterback and receiver this week, Cook makes for a cheap value play.
Jaylen Samuels (DK-$5,200/FD-$4,600)
This start is completely contingent upon whether or not James Conner plays. Samuels showed up last week and performed much how I was hoping he’d perform, especially given his cheap price ($3,700 on DraftKings). His 13 points more than doubled his expected return and it was clear his snap dominance over Ridley (48 to 8) was a good sign. Though he struggled on the ground, Samuels’ 64 yards receiving on 7 receptions was the kind of output you dream of for such a low price. If Conner sits again this week, start Samuels in this possible shootout with New England.
Ian Thomas (DK-$3,400/FD-$5,400)
Ian Thomas jumped right into the Greg Olsen role and hasn’t missed a beat. In his past two games, Thomas has reeled in 14 of his 16 targets for an average of 61 yards per game. Though it’s no mystery who the preferred red-zone targets are in this offense (McCaffrey and McCaffrey), Thomas has the athleticism to break one for a score, but I like his high-yardage floor more than anything else. Thomas is very cheap on FanDuel and would serve as a solid tight end or Flex fill.
Amari Cooper (DK-$7,500/FD-$6,600)
Amari Cooper is cheap this week. He’ll face the 15th ranked Colts pass defense and is coming off a massive 217-yard, 3 touchdown game against the Eagles. Cooper saw 13 targets last week. Expect the volume to be there again this week as Dak’s best option in the air could see a lot more again this week against a stout Colts rushing defense. If you plan on paying for some of the other heftier receiver price tags I’ve listed up top, you’ll need a cheaper roster-filler. Cooper is your guy this week.
Collin is a former Army Intelligence and Logistics officer who got a little too into Football analysis. Since leaving the Army, he’s practically the Jack Ryan of football analysts. But he spends most of his days with his wife and two daughters, so he is clearly a better father than Jack Ryan.
Follow Collin on Twitter @CollinHulbert