Deck the Halls With Bows and Folly
It’s Christmas Eve. A palpable chill lingers in the wintry air, but there is smoke emanating from my debit card. When I was a kid, my mom would pull out all the stops to ensure that my sister and I would have cherished memories. Ever the festive one, Ma would allow us to open one gift on Christmas Eve. She would let us pick whichever one we wanted, even though she didn’t set out the non-pajama gifts until after we had crashed from our sugar cookie and cocoa high.
I married into a family that has its own traditions. My mother-in-law has been compiling gifts since December 26th last year. My wife and daughter didn’t fall far from that pre-lit tree, each barely able to contain their excitement and anticipation until all gifts are opened tonight on Christmas Eve. My wife and I didn’t splurge on gifts this year, instead opting for ones that we could share and remember. Our little girl will be nine years old next week and is showing an interest in singing. We got her a year of professional vocal lessons. My mom got her a record player with a couple vinyl records that she could put on the desk in her bedroom and belt out the same Imagine Dragons song on loop. I’m not one to get too fired up about much more than the food on Christmas, but I cannot wait to see her reaction.
Christmas Eve is such a special day that it also means that we spend Christmas Day in a vegetative state. We turn off our phones, play The Christmas Story on TV, and nap in between putting batteries in new toys and trying to figure out how to switch our gas fireplace back on. This year we have NFL football to watch on Christmas Day, which means I technically have some work to do on the holiday. Don’t worry, I won’t toil too much over picking apart the action. I’ll want to save my energy for Sunday.
If you played along last week, you would have had James Robinson, Brandin Cooks, Deebo Samuel, and Mark Freaking Andrews in your cash lineups. We were on cloud nine when many others were blubbering about the Cry-mageddon 2.0 that was Week 15. DFS is the answer to the season-long issue of last minute inactives from injuries or COVID protocol. Winning at DFS can make up for a truly dreadful redraft or dynasty season with swirling uncertainty and horrific timing to stars missing games.
Week 16 Cash Plays
I have a slightly different view from the consensus on how to build winning cash lineups. Instead of focusing on players with a “high floor,” I instead focus on their expected workload. These players often have that safe floor as a result of the VOLUME of opportunities, but they also have a higher likelihood of returning the 3x+ value that most cash games require to end the day above the pay line. A smart cash player has to always consider ceiling as a part of the equation, just maybe weighted lighter than if building for a GPP. I ask myself the same question every time: Does this player’s expected volume of opportunities (EVO) have high odds of accomplishing 3 points per salary dollar, divided by 1,000 (x=3[y/1000]).
KEY INGREDIENT*** — SECRET INGREDIENT*
JUSTIN HERBERT: @ HOUSTON ($7,200)
The second-year pro out of Oregon is still firmly in my MVP conversation. The Chargers need to take care of business to stay in the running for the AFC West division title and the trappings that come with home field advantage and potential first round bye. It’s unlikely that Austin Ekeler will be activated off the COVID list for this one, giving Herbert a green light to air it out against one of the league’s worst defenses.
Rocking the Suburbs
MATTHEW STAFFORD: @ MINNESOTA ($6,700)
I would call the Vikings a pass funnel, but they’re not good at stopping the run either. Minnesota has nobody with a prayer of covering the likes of Odell Beckham, Van Jefferson, and Tyler Higbee. How will they do with those guys and also the league’s most productive receiver this season, Cooper Kupp? They won’t do well. Stafford will easily crack 300 passing yards, hopefully with a handful of touchdowns in tandem.
JALEN HURTS: VS NY GIANTS ($6,400)***
I’ll give credit to Nick Sirianni and Shane Steichen. They have put Hurts in a great position to maximize his unique set of skills. We saw that on full display against Washington last week. The Eagles have become a lethal running team. They have another tantalizing matchup this week against the abominable Giants. Am I the only one who sees a lot of Josh Allen in Jalen Hurts? This is an amazing value for an elite fantasy player.
Under the Table
JOE BURROW: VS BALTIMORE ($5,900)
I’m not going dumpster diving this week at quarterback. I just found out that my only value player, Justin Fields, is getting benched for Nick Foles this week (thanks, Matt Nagy). The Ravens tattered secondary had no solution for the Bengals earlier in the season. Baltimore is a true pass funnel defense, so I’ll be playing a lot of Burrow & Co this week in all formats.
ALEXANDER MATTISON: VS LA RAMS ($6,800)
The way to beat the Rams is by bludgeoning them with the run game. With Dalvin Cook on the shelf yet again, Mattison has risen from the bench to inherit a huge workload. I’d play more of him if I thought his ceiling wasn’t somewhat capped by potential game script.
CORDARRELLE PATTERSON: VS DETROIT ($6,700)***
It finally happened. Sexy Flexy finally turned back into a pumpkin last week, thanks to absurd usage by idiot savant, Arthur Smith. The Falcons’ fake sharp of a coach has already put an airtight lid on the most exciting receiving prospect of the 21st century. I pray he doesn’t do the same to 2021’s fantasy darling, Patterson against the putrid Lions’ defense. I’ll be playing him everywhere, pacing nervously and chugging boozy eggnog.
Rocking the Suburbs
JAMES ROBINSON: @NY JETS ($5,900)
Robinson was good last week, not great. He really only lacked the one big play that vaults him from solid to slate breaker. I think he has a great chance to bust a few big’uns against the god damn Jets this Sunday. We at least have the assurance that Darrell Bevell enjoys feeding his best player, unlike that buffoon that used to pretend to coach the Jags.
DAVID MONTGOMERY*: @ SEATTLE ($5,700)
The Nick Foles news has sent the DFS community into a tizzy. The projected roster percentage attached to Monty is already tumbling. I will be getting even heavier on him and gingerbread cookies. The volume will be immense and the Seahawks are horrible at defending running backs.
Under the Table
JUSTIN JACKSON: @ HOUSTON ($4,200)
Austin Ekeler said it himself yesterday: pick up Justin Jackson because he still doesn’t feel well and will likely remain on the COVID list Sunday. Jackson is having the healthiest season of his career, which isn’t saying much. He is still very talented and leaps and bounds better than Joshua Kelley and Larry Rountree. If I’m down here, this is the only running back I remotely trust.
COOPER KUPP: @ MINNESOTA ($9,100)***
Everyone now knows that Kupp is on pace to break Megatron’s single season receiving yards record, albeit in one more game. The pride of Yakima is also within reach of Michael Thomas’ record for receptions in a season. Cooper Kupp is also facing the absolute worst pass coverage unit in the NFL this week. For cash games, eat the chalk with a grin.
KEENAN ALLEN: @ HOUSTON ($7,700)
The player with the most to gain from the absence of Austin Ekeler will be Allen. Ekeler is the Chargers’ catalyst in the short passing game. I foresee Allen getting peppered with short area targets from the slot in this game. This will add up the PPR points in bunches and easily return value in cash games.
Rocking the Suburbs
HUNTER RENFROW: VS DENVER ($6,800)
Much like with Patterson, Renfrow was a letdown for the first time in recent memory. He was on such a torrid pace, but now we will see who is loyal to him as a target-hogging PPR machine. Assuming he won’t be as popular this week, I’ll have Third & Renfrow sprinkled across my builds in all formats.
ANTONIO BROWN: @ CAROLINA ($4,900)
Is he bat shit crazy? Yes. Did he mislead his team and the NFL with a fake vaccination card? Yes. Does he enjoy paying his personal chef? No. Is he recovering from a bad ankle injury? Yes. Is he appropriately priced on DraftKings? No! We have to be mindful of the chalk here, but the Bucs are without Godwin and Evans against Carolina, leaving AB as the top option for Tom Brady in Week 16.
Under the Table
BYRON PRINGLE: VS PITTSBURGH ($3,300)
I will still be all over this matchup, even if Hill and Kelce are activated on Sunday. Pringle has been the more reliable of the “WR3 Carousel” in KC, over Hardman and Robinson. The Steelers’ secondary is getting barbecued down the field this season. Pringle is showing up as one of the best overall values on this entire slate.
ISAIAH MCKENZIE: @ NEW ENGLAND ($3,000)
My 2020 Week 17 darling, McKenzie is back on the radar this week. Cole Beasley and Gabe Davis are both unvaccinated and tested positive for COVID this week. McKenzie is a dynamic playmaker in the same ilk as Rondale Moore. I would be very disappointed if I didn’t mention McKenzie this week, before he puts up solid numbers against the extremely overrated Patriots defense.
MARK ANDREWS: @ CINCINNATI ($7,000)
Mark Freaking Andrews has been a stud this year. Whether from Lamar Jackson or former Utah Ute, Tyler Huntley, Andrews is the most reliable receiver on the team. He makes a great runback in GPPs off the Bengals stack I’ll be deploying. In cash games, you might be hard-pressed to spend up to get him. You still won’t regret it.
ROB GRONKOWSKI: @ CAROLINA ($6,200)
The whole world is looking to Antonio Brown to be the benefactor in the Bucs’ passing attack, but they might be erroneously sleeping on the greatest tight end of all time. We shall see. I like Gronk as a safe play with tons of touchdown upside, now that Mike Evans has been ruled out.
Rocking the Suburbs
DAWSON KNOX: @ NEW ENGLAND ($5,300)
Knox hasn’t really excited me in DFS too often this season, but this week is different. I brazenly predicted a 35-17 score for this game in the Bills favor, so without Beasley and Davis, Josh Allen will need to count on someone besides Stefon Diggs to expose the fraudulent Patriots on Sunday. Knox is perfectly priced for his floor, with plenty of room to smash if he finds the end zone.
DALLAS GOEDERT: VS NY GIANTS ($5,100)***
I highly doubt there will be a more coveted DFS tight end on the slate than Goedert. He got the Tuesday night blind spot price here and also faces my favorite punchline team, the Giants on Sunday. Hurts will continue to feed the South Dakota State Jackrabbit plenty of healthy target volume. Goedert is my preferred tight end to play in cash games this week.
Under the Table
COLE KMET: @ SEATTLE ($3,300)
Seattle is on the verge of imploding as a franchise, which is eerily similar to Chicago’s plight under incumbent moron, Matt Nagy. Nagy announced earlier today that Nick Foles will start at quarterback on Sunday, puzzling everyone in the NFL community. Foles hasn’t targeted an outside receiver since ‘Nam, so I’ll take a stab at the talented young tight end to get a bunch of garbage, low aDOT dump-offs. In GPP, I’ll predict chaos and roster the corpse of Jimmy Graham in a few spots.