Daily fantasy (DFS) brings a breath of fresh air to the industry, with an emphasis on the excitement of drafting a new team every week. We all know that the late summer drafts and the thrill of analyzing the weekly matchups are the best part of playing fantasy football. The daily game merges those two together to form the newest wave rocking the fantasy world.
Here in the weekly daily fantasy roundup column, we'll break down everything you need to know to pick the best plays on the Week 16 slate. If any of the terminology goes over your head. Please refer to the "what you need to know" preview of the roundup.
Top quarterback plays
Kirk Cousins, Washington Redskins - Plenty of users will jump off the Cousins wagon after an admittedly disastrous performance on Monday Night Football against the Panthers. Take advantage of that primetime bias. Coming into Week 15 Cousins had hit 300 yards and/or thrown for multiple touchdowns in seven of his previous eight games.
Tyrod Taylor, Buffalo Bills - The Dolphins secondary is dealing with injuries as Byron Maxwell looks unlikely to play. These two teams are fighting for their playoff lives and need to pull out all the stops. The Dolphins also allow the third-most rushing yards to quarterbacks on the season. It's a noisy stat, for sure, but Tygod makes sense if you're in need of a value quarterback.
Top running back plays
Todd Gurley, Los Angeles Rams - Pretty much all season Gurley has not been an option for daily fantasy, as his value never lined up with his performance. Listed as the sixth-ranked running back on the main slate, it still doesn't, in all honesty. However, this stoppable force meets the easily movable object this weekend as the 49ers come to LA. San Francisco gives up a whopping 156 rushing yards per game to running backs and have allowed nine rushing touchdowns over the last month alone. Gurley could turn in his first 100-yard game of the year against the moribund unit.
Top wide receiver plays
Amari Cooper, Indianapolis Colts - There's little reason to play the Raiders receiver who sees fewer targets than his teammate and is not as big of a factor in the red zone. However, he likely comes at a much lower ownership because of recent events. There's no cornerback to fear on the Colts with Vontae Davis struggling all season. This game should be one of the highest-scoring on the slate, so it makes sense to pick a talented player in this spot who just can't stay quiet for much longer.
DeAndre Hopkins, Houston Texans - Tom Savage threw over 40 percent (15 total) of his passes in the direction of Hopkins last week. He once again has a tangible floor, even if this may not be the best matchup or game script for his ceiling to reappear. He's way undervalued from where he began the season and is worth using as the Sunday night hammer on the main slate.
Tyler Lockett, Seattle Seahawks - Brandin Cooks' destruction of the Cardinals last week gives us some sort of blueprint for what a big game from Lockett may look like in Week 16. It's unlikely Patrick Peterson, who may still not be healthy and did not shadow Cooks, covers Lockett exclusively. Lockett was not healthy for the majority of this season, but is now a feature part of the offensive attack. He's out-targeted Jimmy Graham 35 to 31 over the last six weeks. Lockett owned a team-high 36.9 percent share of Russell Wilson's intended air yards on Thursday night and made a long scoring play last week.
Chris Hogan/Malcolm Mitchell, New England Patriots - This duo combined for just two catches last week, but that was to be expected as the team wisely avoided throwing into the tight coverage of the Broncos' cornerbacks. However, the Jets have given up big plays in bunches to wide receivers. Since Week 11, Mitchelll leads the NFL in red-zone targets, tied with Michael Crabtree with 10, and Hogan remains the big-play threat.
Top tight end plays
Jack Doyle, Indianapolis Colts - He's makes for a fine ancillary piece to Luck/Hilton stack. Doyle led the team in snaps last week, playing on over 70 percent. This should be one of the highest-scoring games of the week, so it makes sense to chase a touchdown from Doyle in this spot.
Stack(s) of the week
Matt Barkley/Cameron Meredith, Chicago Bears - Since Barkley took over as the starter four weeks ago, Meredith has seen 71 percent of his targets when lined up in the slot. That should keep him away from Josh Norman, who may shadow Alshon Jeffery, and rather match him up with exploitable Kendall Fuller. Meredith has target totals of nine, four, eight and 13 the last four weeks. Barkley averages 43 pass attempts per game in three of his four starts (throwing out the snow game). Washington allows the fourth-most passing yards over the last month and should force Chicago to the air once again.
Drew Brees/Michael Thomas/Mike Evans - There's little chance the Bucs matchup against the Saints follows the same slow pace that it did in their first meeting when the Saints ran just 58 plays. For context, they lead the NFL in plays run on the year and they went for 83 against the Cardinals in Week 15. Expect Brees to more closely resemble the onslaught form he showed last week than in his last meeting with the Bucs. Michael Thomas sees 59 percent of his targets from the left wide receiver positon which should put him in burnable rookie Vernon Hargreaves' coverage. Mike Evans should be able to get off the schneid if the Saints force the Bucs out of their slow-paced approach of late by gaining an early lead.
Best contrarian play(s)
Brandon Marshall, New York Jets- He didn't do anything with it, but opportunity finally swang back Marshall's way last week, as he out-worked Robby Anderson for the first time in a Bryce Petty start. Marshall owned a whopping 45.8 percent share of Petty's intended air yards last Saturday. The Patriots are a heavy favorite to blow out the Jets, keeping New York in a pass-heavy negative game script all game. It's quite the contrarian move, but Marshall might be worth chasing.
Travis Benjamin, San Diego Chargers - Tyrell Williams doesn't look right playing through a shoulder injury and Dontrelle Inman gets consistent volume but is mostly a low-volume player. Everyone is trying to chase literally every other member of the Chargers, with good reason, but why not add Benjamin to the mix? Benjamin is the clear No. 3 receiver (53 percent of the plays), but he did average 18.2 air yards per target last week, the highest figure on the team by a full five yards.
Best obvious play
T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis Colts- You can chalk up Hilton's meager seven targets against the Vikings to the Colts boat racing of Minnesota. There's no question he'll get back to owning a bigger slice of the target pie in the Colts offense this week. The Raiders secondary has solidified of late, but their bigger corners did struggle with faster receivers to start the season and just gave up a long touchdown to Travis Benjamin last week. He makes for a nice stacking candidate with Andrew Luck.
Near 100 percent exposure player
Jordan Howard, Chicago Bears - Despite all that passing volume Barkley puts up, Jordan Howard has still averaged 22.3 touches and 116.8 total yards per game over the last four weeks. Washington is a friendly matchup for running backs, as they just gave up Jonathan Stewart's first 100 yard rushing game of the season and rank 26th in Football Outsiders run defense DVOA.
Cheat code of the week
Charles Sims, Tampa Bay Buccaneers- With more points sure to go around, and the Saints likely to follow the blueprint provided by the Cowboys on Sunday night to get up on Tampa in a hurry, Charles Sims is in a spot to find some success. Sims' playing time went up in Week 15 from 14 offensive plays in his first game back to 21. He played on just three run downs but 18 passing plays. New Orleans allows 8.26 yards per target to running backs through the air, so Sims should be in position to make plays.