Welcome to the week 15 edition of NFL DFS 5 Starts and 5 Fades! Our core plays crushed last week, with the only player not paying off his salary being Alex Smith. If you watched the game, Smith had a few pass plays get down to the one-yard line, so his statistical line could have been massive. We are right back at it for week 15, which includes football on Thursday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday! Grab your coffee, settle in and let’s get started!
During this article you will see references to DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average). It's a metric from Football Outsiders that measures a team or player's efficiency by comparing results from every play to a league average based on situation and opponent. For example, if an offense runs for 4 yards on a 3rd and 3, it will be weighted and graded more favorably than if an offense runs for 4 yards on 3rd and 15. DVOA is a better way to compare team’s offenses vs opposing defenses than more traditional stats like yards gained and allowed.
Five Core Plays
Nick Foles ($5500 on Draft Kings, $6000 on Fanduel)
Do you taste that? That is the taste of eating the chalk this week at quarterback with Nick Foles. The Eagles lost starter Carson Wentz with a torn ACL, and Foles will be the signal caller for the Eagles moving forward. There is a lot to like with Foles this week, including a cheap price tag across the industry. His opponent, the New York Giants have the 25th ranked DVOA pass defense. They have allowed the most fantasy points to quarterbacks this year. Furthermore, the Giants only have eight interceptions all year; they also allow a quarterback rating of 99.0 to opposing signal callers. In tournaments, my favorite player to stack with Foles will be tight end Zach Ertz.
Le’Veon Bell ($9300 on Draft Kings, $9400 on Fanduel)
We were going to write up Bell last week. However, both major daily fantasy sites left the Sunday night game off of the main slate. However, this week the Pittsburgh running back is on the main slate and is the top overall running back play of the week. He has over 22 touches every week since week 1, which puts Bell on pace to have a historic workload. The game against the Patriots this week is a big one, with the number one seed in the AFC potentially on the line. The Patriots are one of the worst run stopping units in the league. This is evidenced by their 32nd ranked DVOA run defense, and being 32nd in yards per carry. With such a heavy workload and juicy matchup, fire up Bell everywhere this week.
Kenyan Drake ($5800 on Draft Kings, $6500 on Fanduel)
Drake is easily the best points per dollar play at running back this week as he has taken over the Miami backfield since the Jay Ajayi trade and Damien Williams injury. After starting the year with terrible run grades, Miami is now sixth in the league in yards per carry. In the last two games, Drake has had at least 23 carries and at least 5 targets. This kind of workload should cost way more than he does, and the matchup only makes his price more ridiculous. Buffalo has the 24th ranked DVOA run defense, and they have been worse since they traded star defensive lineman Marcell Dareus. Furthermore, the Bills have allowed the most rushing touchdowns in the NFL this year. I do not care what his ownership percentage is; Drake will be in all my lineups.
Dede Westbrook ($5100 on Draft Kings, $5700 on Fanduel)
To play expensive players like Le’Veon Bell and Keenan Allen in my core, I am going to need cheap plays like Kenyan Drake and Dede Westbrook. This is another easy play to me, as Dede Westbrook has been heavily targeted since returning from injury. He had eight targets last week, and 27 total in his last three games. Houston is still pretty decent against the run, so I expect the Jaguars to keep letting Bortles throw a heavy volume of passes each game. Westbrook may go a little overlooked this week but he has tournament winning upside.
Keenan Allen ($8400 on Draft Kings, $8800 on Fanduel)
After the ridiculous streak of 10+ catches, 100+ yards, and 1+ touchdowns, last week may look like a disappointment for Allen. He ended with six catches on eight targets for 111 yards, which was still enough to pay off his high salary. His price only went up a couple hundred dollars on both sites, but it does not appear to be enough for this Saturday night matchup against the Chiefs. Kansas City has the 21st ranked DVOA pass defense, which is below average. However, they have the 29th ranked DVOA pass defense against the opposing team’s best wide receiver. Moreover, Allen does a lot of his damage out of the slot, where the Chiefs have benched multiple guys throughout the year. Their current slot corner, Steven Nelson, allows a whopping 109 quarterback rating on throws to his receiver. Combine these facts with the fact that the Chargers come in to the matchup red-hot, and you have the recipe for another Keenan Allen smash spot.
Five Players To Avoid
Eli Manning ($4600 on Draft Kings, $6400 on Fanduel)
I am kind of shocked to see Eli Manning gain recognition this week, as a popular Eli Manning tends to not work out in daily fantasy. Draft Kings again priced Eli so low that people are considering using him against the Eagles. However, Philadelphia has the fifth-best DVOA pass defense, and fifth-best against opposing team’s best wide receiver. The Giants have nothing to play for, and Eli is lacking so many weapons that I want no part of him this week.
Jamaal Williams ($6500 on Draft Kings, $7300 on Fanduel)
The price keeps rising on Williams, and we will finally be avoiding him this week. The matchup with Carolina is a tough one, as they are the fifth-best DVOA run defense. Also, with the return of Aaron Rodgers, it is reasonable to suspect that the Packers will change their philosophy back to the passing attack to win this game. Green Bay is currently on the outside of the playoffs, as they need a win in this game to stay alive. Aaron Rodgers will be the reason the Packers win this game.
Leonard Fournette ($7500 on Draft Kings, $8000 on Fanduel)
This may be a hot take this week but there is sound logic behind the call. First and foremost, health is a concern this week for Fournette. He missed practice Wednesday due to a quad injury, and it would make sense for the Jaguars to proceed with caution with their rookie. Jacksonville only needs one more win to clinch a playoff spot, and this looks to be a very winnable game with or without Fournette. Even if he suits up, Fournette should not have his usual workload; he'd be the first one pulled if the game gets out of hand. Also, Houston has still been formidable against the run, even with all the injuries. This is evidenced by their defensive adjusted line yards of 3.62 yards allowed per carry. I will find the extra money to grab Bell this week.
DeAndre Hopkins ($7700 on Draft Kings, $8200 on Fanduel)
In my opinion, Hopkins is the best wide receiver in the league. The numbers he has put up in his young career with so many different quarterbacks is truly remarkable. However, I have a pretty strict rule of avoiding wide outs against the Jacksonville Jaguars defense. The Jaguars have the first-ranked DVOA pass defense and arguably the best corner tandem in the league. Moreover, they allow the fewest points to opposing wide receivers. The first time these teams played, Hopkins had a whopping 16 targets but only caught seven of them. If you are in a season-long fantasy playoffs, start Hopkins! However, in a salary cap format which is price sensitive, I will be fading.
A.J. Green ($6500 on Draft Kings, $7700 on Fanduel)
Another high-end wide out that is overpriced for his matchup. The Cincinnati Bengals are a mess, evidenced by the embarrassing loss to the Bears last week. In that terrible performance, Green caught five passes for 64 yards and lost a fumble. The matchup this week is much harder, as Minnesota ranks as the ninth-best DVOA pass defense, and top ten in stopping opposing wide receivers. Furthermore, it is likely that Green will get shadowed by Xavier Rhodes, who is beatable at times but will certainly be a stiff challenge.
Thank you for reading the week 15 edition of 5 Starts and 5 Fades. Hopefully, these plays give you an edge in your daily fantasy contests. If you are still alive in season-long fantasy football, I wish you the best of luck in taking home your league championship! As always, check back next week for a quick review of week 15, and the top plays for week 16. Go crush this week!
Written by Kevin Kinder, Second Nexus Contributor