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Correlation stacks cement the top Week 15 DFS plays

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Welcome to the Daily Fantasy Roundup where we'll cover every inch of what you need to set a great lineup every week. If you've been following this column all year, you should be absolutely pumped for Week 15. There are a number of plays, DFS theory concepts and matchups I'm excited to exploit this week. In this week especially, we will hammer home the correlation theory of opposing passing games. Often times, we will see that when one pass offense goes off, the other must take to the air to keep up, creating favorable shootouts for DFS. This week specifically, we want to pick from the Detroit at New Orleans game, and especially the Atlanta at Jacksonville contest. Let's get after it.

All ownership percentage numbers come via Footballguys' Justin Bonnema. Follow him for more great DFS information.

Top quarterback plays


Tom Brady - In the exercise of deciding which high-end quarterback to roster this week in tournaments, it was a task of picking between Cam Newton and Brady. They are both in pristine spots, and have secure floors. Ultimately, the smart move is to let the ownership decide for us here. Newton still pushed over 8.0 percent owned on the Thursday slate, where Brady fell in as the seventh-highest owned quarterback at 5.5 percent. This is a tremendous week for Brady's ceiling, and there is enough value at running back to build tournament lineups around him.

Blake Bortles - You should be obsessing over which assets to play in the Falcons vs. Jaguars game. These are two bad teams with explosive talent on offense. When those types of teams get together, shootouts often occur that create a ton of daily fantasy opportunity. For evidence, look no further than the Jaguars matchup with the Titans not but two weeks ago, where the teams combined for 81 points. Blake Bortles threw for five touchdowns in that game, and could push for a similar line here.

Top running back plays


DeAngelo Williams - It's hard not to want a piece of the Steelers offense this week, despite their matchup with Denver. The safest way to pluck an asset from their scoring unit is to look at DeAngelo Williams. While the Broncos defense is daunting, we saw running backs get over on them earlier in the season, especially perimeter running backs who work well in the passing game. Remember how Charcandrick West made due on them through the air? Denver ranks inside the top 12 in receptions and receiving yards allowed to running backs. Pittsburgh will get Williams touches no matter what, even if it is through the air as they did against Seattle.

Pepsi Rookie of the Week nominees:

David Johnson - At this point, it's just ridiculous that David Johnson is still such a value. Perhaps it's because he has not had his true baser game yet, but we could be in the perfect spot for that in Week 15. The Eagles allowed the second-most fantasy points to running backs over the last four weeks, and the fourth-most receptions. I am absolutely obsessed with a value combination of Johnson and my 100 percent exposure player as a baseline to build DFS lineups on.

Jeremy Hill - If you want to punt your RB2 spot, Hill is a safe way to do so. The Bengals were heating up Hill the last month before their matchup with Pittsburgh, but that game always set up as one where he would not be a figurehead of the offensive game plan, due to the Steelers strength on the ground. The 49ers, on the other hand, just let up a career game to Isaiah Crowell, with over 140 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. With a backup quarterback under center for the Bengals, this is a prime spot for Hill to see 18-plus carries against a soft run defense.

Brandon Bolden - Another more true punt play, Brandon Bolden is an interesting option this week 15 in the wake of LeGarrette Blount's injury. The Patriots should handle the Titans with relative ease and win the game. Bolden is the only running back currently on the roster with between the tackles characteristics, and as Rotoworld's Graham Barfield points out, Patriots running backs are quite appealing when they are spots like this:

Top wide receiver plays


Julio Jones - A week after his duel with Josh Norman, Julio Jones' value has finally dropped on DFS sites. He's now no longer one of the top three listed receivers, and that brings him back into our focus. The Jaguars are not a strong pass defense, and a scoring-heavy game script should be great for one last explosive game from Jones.

Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns - Again, we are stacking our Jaguars and Falcons game here. The Falcons defense was one of the strongest at slowing down passing games in the first half of the season, but cracks are starting to show up, and did so in the form of two long Ted Ginn touchdowns last week. Atlanta's one true shutdown defender, cornerback Desmond Trufant only really plays at the left corner positon, so the Jaguars should be able to easily move Robinson and Hurns around to get them off him. Robinson's ownership is down after a one catch, one touchdown performance last week, while Hurns' sat at just 4.0 percent on the Thursday slate.

Calvin Johnson - We know the New Orleans pass defense is abominable. However, we've also watched as Calvin Johnson disappointed in other positive spots this season due to an inconsistent target share in the Lions offense. He owns just a 24 percent share of the targets, which is quite unusual for an elite level receiver. Definitely get some exposure to Johnson, but don't go all in.

Alshon Jeffery - For some reason, Alshon Jeffery was only owned in 2.3 percent of Thursday DFS lineups. That is odd, as Jeffery whooped the Vikings for 10-116 and a touchdown last time he played them this year, and owns a 33 percent share of the Bears passing targets since Week 8. If that ownership percentage holds up for the Sunday slate, it's hard not to advise hammering Jeffery into a ton of lineups.

John Brown - Don't look now, but John Brown is suddenly the most reliable Cardinals wide receiver. Since he got healthy in Week 11, Brown caught 78 percent of his targets while still being a deep threat. The Eagles pass defense ranks fifth-worst in defending wide receivers the last four weeks, and gave up nine touchdowns to the position in that span.

Willie Snead - The second-year undrafted free agent returned to the Saints last week and caught seven of his eight targets for 122 yards. Snead is in another good spot this week when the Saints welcome the Lions to the Superdome. Snead runs most of his routes from the slot, and will avoid squaring off with the Lions best corner, Darius Slay. Of all the games on the Week 15 slate, New Orleans vs. Detroit looks like the most likely candidate to turn into a shootout. That means you'll want to pluck value plays like Snead from the game in DFS, and he's a strong flex option for PPR leagues.

Top tight end plays


Greg Olsen - The Giants allow the third-most fantasy points to tight ends, and Greg Olsen has the safest projection of any player at the positon, outside of Gronk, this season. He's a stud level play after being cleared to go this week against New York.

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Benjamin Watson - Since Week 8, Watson actually leads the Saints in passing targets with 43. The Lions allow the second-most touchdowns to tight ends this season with 10 on just 90 targets. It would be quite an upset if Watson did not finish with at least 10 points in this game.

Vernon Davis - For just the second time in his Broncos tenure, Vernon Davis played more snaps than Owen Daniels in Week 14. The results were a steady 7-74 game, but Davis also let a pass get away from him that could have resulted in a long score. The Steelers had their share of struggles against tight ends this season, allowing over 800 yards on 118 targets this season.

Top defense plays


Seahawks DEF - IF you don't want a piece of the improving, but still error-prone Johnny Manziel going into Seattle, then who knows what to tell you.

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Patriots DEF - The Titans give up the highest sack rate in the NFL, and the Patriots will force them to the air in this matchup. Expect the impressive Marcus Mariota to make a few mistakes against Bill Belichick in this spot.

Steelers DEF - The Steelers look like a safe floor play if you don't want to get up to the high-end defenses this week. The Broncos don't want to open up the offense, but the Steelers scoring unit could force them to take more chances, and that would allow for more turnover opportunities.

Stack of the week


Matthew Stafford/Golden Tate - The Lions offense getting back on track falls right in line with Stafford rekindling his connection with Golden Tate as a tertiary dump off option. Since Week 8, Tate averages 8.3 targets per game, and is the Lions' leading weapon in the red zone with 10 targets and an 80 percent catch rate for three scores inside the opposing 20-yard line. The video to the right highlights a great example of the red zone plays that Jim Bob Cooter looks to favor Tate on in the red zone. The New Orleans secondary is an inviting opponent, and they have not settled on a slot corner all season. When looking to stack this game, look for the receiver who presents the bigger value, and safer projection in the Lions offense. That player is Tate.

Best contrarian play(s)


Odell Beckham - Yes, everyone is shaking in their boots about the matchup with Josh Norman, who has eliminated opposing No. 1 receivers all season. First of all, on an off topic note, if you bench Odell Beckham in your season-long league, you deserve the loss you risk taking in the fantasy playoffs. For DFS, gaining exposure to Beckham in any contrarian way is a plus strategy, much like we did with DeAndre Hopkins when he squared off with Darrelle Revis and went for 118 and two touchdowns. Unless a coach is a complete dunce, they can find ways to get their star receiver the ball and avoid Norman. Helping Beckham's cause is that he does move into the slot on occasion. Additionally, receivers of Beckham's archetype are much harder to shut down than a Julio Jones-type player. Think of how Antonio Brown religiously whips up on Joe Haden, while the Browns corner regularly erases A.J. Green. In a similar vein, big wideouts often find themselves neglected when facing Richard Sherman, but Beckham and T.Y. Hilton have got the best of him in their face-offs.

Castrol EDGE Clutch Performers:

Ben Roethlisberger/Antonio Brown stack - With how incredible the Steelers offense can be, it's hard to advise completely turning away from them this week in DFS, especially with them playing at home. This season, Ben Roethlisberger threw 13 touchdowns at home on 188 attempts and a measly two on 156 attempts on the road, including a zero touchdown outing last week. While the Denver defense is stifling, high-end quarterbacks like Tom Brady and Andrew Luck still cracked 20 fantasy points against them. Both offenses boast elite weaponry and the ability to diversify the way they attack a defense. While the Denver corners have only allowed just two touchdowns all year to opposing wideouts (Mike Wallace and Seth Roberts) getting an elite receiver like Brown at under 7-percent owned is just too favorable to pass up in at least a few large-field tournaments.

Matt Ryan - We went down this road before just a few weeks ago, but this once again looks like a solid spot to roll out some tournament lineups with Matt Ryan. He will once again be under two-percent owned in DFS lineups (1.5 on Thursday) and the Jaguars are the 30th ranked pass defense according to Football Outsiders. Of course, as mentioned, Ryan let us down in plenty of other favorable spots this year However, look at Philip Rivers' (who is experiencing a similar fantasy slump) game log and you'll notice he has point totals of 5.92, 28.9, 6.08 and 8.92 since his bye week. The one outlier game there came on the road against Jacksonville. Don't completely rule out that Ryan experiences something similar this weekend.

Best obvious play


Russell Wilson, Doug Baldwin, Tyler Lockett - All three players are on fire, with 16 touchdowns for Wilson, nine for Baldwin and four for Lockett the past four games. Even better, they get to moonwalk through a cake matchup with the Browns in Seattle this week. Of course, their ownership levels reflect all the positivity. Wilson was the highest played quarterback on Thursday slates (23.7 percent), Baldwin the highest receiver (37.4) and Lockett the third highest (14.9). It's worth it to gain some exposure, however, and then try to differentiate elsewhere.

My near 100 percent exposure player


Denard Robinson - T.J. Yeldon suffered a knee sprain in the Jaguars win over the Colts, and was ruled out for this game. Denard Robinson is the clear next man up, and we have some history of him as a useful fill-in starter. There was a five game stretch last season where Robinson averaged 19 touches, 98.2 yard per game and scored four touchdowns, including a hyper-effective 20-touch, 116.3-yard average in the first three games. Showing that was not a fluke, Robinson once again looked great in relief of Yeldon last week. He's an exciting player in the open field, who can play on passing downs. With the Jaguars clicking on offense, and welcoming a moribund Falcons defense to their stadium in Week 15, you can get a strong start out of Robinson. Atlanta allowed the most touchdowns to running backs this season (18 total) and finally started to crack in the yardage department of late. Running backs earned 537 yards on the ground on a 4.71 average over the last four games.

The Jaguars offense surprisingly emerged as one of the league's highest scoring units with an average of 29.83 points per game scored since the beginning of November. Their defense struggles to stop even the most timid of foes, and the Falcons could have a one-week revival against them. With a game that should feature plenty of scoring, and Robinson's status as a three-down back playing at home, everything comes up rosy for his Week 15 outlook. Don't be the least bit surprised if Robinson finishes this week as a top-10 running back, and is a big reason why your team hoists your league's championship trophy. Find a way to build around him and David Johnson as mentioned for a value pairing, and pencil him into your DFS plans.

Cheat code of the week


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Michael Floyd - As mentioned in the John Brown blurb, Michael Floyd faces a cake walk matchup with the Eagles this week. Philadelphia ranked in the bottom three all season in Football Outsiders' DVOA in defending opposing No. 1 receivers. Amazingly, Michael Floyd might be just that for the Cardinals. Floyd topped 100 yards receiving in four of his last five games played, and scored four touchdowns over that span. Given his sterling level of production, it's nonsensical what a bargain he is compared to his performance. Yes, this is a bit of a higher-value than normally listed in this section, however, the relative bargain and the opposing matchup is just too insane not to be the cheat code of the week.


Matt Harmon is an associate fantasy writer/editor for NFL.com, and the creator of #ReceptionPerception, who you can follow on Twitter @MattHarmon_BYB. Make good decisions this week, and let us know how you gain the DFS edge over the field.

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