This article is part of our DraftKings NFL series.
A brutal Week 15 slate is behind us, and while the schedule for Week 16 is similar – two Saturday games (Redskins-Titans, Ravens-Chargers) – there is no Thursday game, and the quality of the teams on the Main Slate is much better this time around.
Surprisingly, weather conditions appear to be pretty mild based on the late-week forecasts, though it's important to check back closer to kickoff Sunday to ensure nothing changes.
Here's a quick rundown of the Implied Totals based on the point spread and over/under total for each of the Main Slate matchups:
The Saints' home matchup with the Steelers (o/u 53) should be the most heavily stacked game on this week's Main Slate, and not surprisingly, the Saints have the highest Implied Total on the board.
The Cowboys are coming off of a shutout in Indianapolis last week, facing a Tampa Bay defense that continues to struggle against the run, even though things have improved against the pass since the firing Mike Smith after Week 6. Ezekiel Elliott should run wild in this matchup, and he figures to be a cash-game staple again in Week 16.
It's strange to see the Browns listed with one of the highest Implied Totals, but it speaks to the current state of the Bengals' defense, which continues to struggle in all facets, and also without Tyler Boyd in addition to A.J. Green and Andy Dalton.
Nick Foles, PHI vs. HOU ($4,700) - The alternative to spending up at quarterback this week is to leverage the underpriced Foles in a home matchup against the Texans. The Eagles' Implied Score (23.75) is in line with the Steelers (23.5), and the $1,500-$2,000 saved from the other cash-pool plays at quarterback will afford you one or two significant upgrades elsewhere in your lineup. Foles has a full complement of healthy pass-catchers entering Week 16, which is rare this late in the season, and while the Texans can generate plenty of pressure up front and force turnovers, Houston has allowed a 92.7 passer rating against (7.6 YPA, 24:13 TD:INT) through 14 games this season. In most projection systems, Foles is 5-plus points below the other cash-game options, but the price drop is enough to offset the difference in output, and this game possesses sneaky shootout potential.
Friday Update:Taylor Heinicke ($4,000) is starting for Carolina this week in place of Cam Newton. He's spent a few years with Norv Turner prior to this one (as a backup in Minnesota), and might be able to push his way to 4x return at this salary floor price. Look at some of the upgrades you can get elsewhere in your lineup by going under $5,000 at QB this week, and playing Foles or Heinicke in cash if you're very happy with the floor you have across the board elsewhere.
Since the ownership rates on the most-heavily targeted QBs will be much less than the ownership rates of the chalk running backs, I'm content to play any of the above cash-game QB options in tournaments this week. There are a few more options to add to the mix, however, as outlined below.
Drew Brees, NO vs. PIT ($6,500) - Several mid-range quarterbacks are positioned with difficult matchups this week, and cheap Foles might pull a higher ownership rate than projected. I think it's possible to pay up for a safer option than Foles in cash games and still build a strong lineup, thanks to a surprisingly low price on Saquon Barkley, among other factors. Brees is at home, in a potential shootout, facing a Pittsburgh defense that has allowed a 26:7 TD:INT mark (97.2 passer rating against) through 14 games. It seems like recency basis is preventing him from being a cash-game staple for some, on the heels of a three-week skid as the Saints have been on the road in Dallas, Tampa Bay and Carolina and held to an average of 16.7 points per game during that span. Brees has five 30-plus point games under his belt this season, and I'm comfortable playing him in any lineup build.
Tom Brady, NE vs. BUF ($5,900) - Last week's Patriots-Steelers game was a huge dud, but New England is a big home favorite with the third-highest Implied Total on the board. Brady continues to get steady volume each week, and as he's shown with a few 3-TD games this season, he can push his way into the high-20s on occasion. Maybe Brady doesn't possess the same ceiling we became accustomed to in recent years, and I'll be curious to see if the absence of Josh Gordon steers interest even further away from Brady with the likes of Brees, Big Ben and Luck in good spots this week.
Deshaun Watson, HOU at PHI ($6,600) - Low volume in the passing game can often limit Watson's ceiling, but the Eagles-Texans matchup has sneaky shootout potential, given the current state of the Philadelphia secondary. The potential absence of Lamar Miller could also force the Texans to alter their gameplan with a more pass-heavy lean this week. I'm expecting most builds spending in this range to lock in Brees or Roethlisberger.
Dak Prescott, DAL vs. TB ($5,700) - Prescott and the Cowboys are back home against Tampa Bay, and Dak has averaged 21.8 DraftKings points per game in Dallas this season (8.2 YPA, 13:3 TD:INT). Unless you're dropping down to Foles or Heinicke for a tournament build, Prescott is the cheapest quarterback on my radar for GPPs heading into the weekend.
Saquon Barkley, NYG at IND ($7,900) - The Giants were shut out by the Titans in Week 15 after scoring at least 20 points in each of their previous five games. Most surprisingly, they put up 30 points in a winning effort against the Bears in Week 13. Barkley would be highly owned even if he were $1,000 more expensive, as he's shown that he is an elite running back throughout his rookie campaign, and even when the Giants are playing from behind, he's heavily targeted in the passing game.
Ezekiel Elliott, DAL vs. TB ($9,000) - What's left to say about Zeke? The Bucs have allowed 4.8 YPC this season, along with 17 rushing TDs and 16 carries of 20-plus yards. The Cowboys are projected among the highest-scoring teams on the board on the Main Slate, and there are no injury-related concerns (Todd Gurley, knee), nor is there concern about his workload getting scaled back (Christian McCaffrey) as the Cowboys are making a push for the NFC East title.
If the Rams opt to rest Gurley, or make it clear that they intend to scale back his workload, John Kelly ($4,000) emerges as a very interesting building block against Arizona's porous run defense.
Friday Update: Apparently, C.J. Anderson might run ahead of Kelly despite signing with the Rams a few days ago. The uncertainty with Gurley makes him more of a tournament play than a cash-game option if he's active, and you'll want to have an alternative build sorted out in advance of the late afternoon inactives being released (it's not difficult with Saints-Steelers in that block).
Alvin Kamara, NO vs. PIT ($7,400) - Kamara won't be low owned (he'll likely be in the neighborhood of 15 percent) because this matchup will draw a lot of interest, but he churned out his first 20-point game since Week 10 in the Monday win over Carolina with 103 yards from scrimmage on 21 touches (seven receptions). If things break correctly, Kamara is still capable of matching the production of the running backs priced ahead of him, but his status in a shared backfield with Mark Ingram keeps him away from cash-game use this week despite the discounted price.
Nick Chubb, CLE vs. CIN ($7,300) - The Browns are favored by more than a touchdown at home, against the league's worst run defense (the Bengals have allowed 31.8 DraftKings points per game to running backs in 2018). Chubb should have an easy path to another 20-plus touch game, and a season-high price tag will likely push ownership interest elsewhere, which makes him particularly dangerous as a back who has flashed an elite ceiling with huge games against the Falcons (38.9 DK points in Week 10) and Bengals (27.8 DK points in Week 12) and a steady floor thanks to his volume (18 carries per game over the last five).
Also Consider: Jaylen Samuels, PIT at NO ($6,700) - The price on Samuels has jumped enough where he's not an automatic cash play given the quality of the Saints' run defense, but he should be heavily involved as a pass-catcher and the shootout potential of the matchup is enough to keep him in the mix for tournaments.
It's extremely frustrating that the Jags might choose to limit Leonard Fournette's workload down the stretch after surprisingly capping him against Washington in Week 15. Without restrictions, he'd be in an excellent spot again at $6,000 against the Dolphins. Instead, he's an easy avoid this week with so many quality plays on the board at a variety of price points.
JuJu Smith-Schuster, PIT at NO ($8,000) - The Saints have been the most generous defense to opposing receivers this season, yielding 44.4 DraftKings points per game to the position through 14 games. Squeezing another $300 under the cap to get to Antonio Brown doesn't appear to be necessary, but there is still very little that separates the 1a and 1b options in the Steelers' passing game from week to week. Both receivers continue to see plenty of looks in the red zone (11 targets each since the Week 7 bye), and the team's lack of a consistent No. 3 receiver continues to benefit both players.
Friday Update: Smith-Schuster left practice with a groin injury Thursday and did not practice Friday. He's officially listed as questionable for Sunday's game. Paying up for Antonio Brown is more appealing with this news, but a potential absence for JuJu brings punt intrigue for James Washington ($3,100). If you don't already have Michael Thomas in the same lineup, leave $100 under the cap and pivot to Thomas if Smith-Schuster is ruled out Sunday afternoon.
Robert Woods, LAR at ARI ($6,600) - Woods has posted at least 12 DraftKings points in every game since Week 1, as he's recorded at least 60 yards in 13 straight games. After a seven-game spell without a red-zone target (Weeks 4-10), Woods has been targeted six times inside the 20-yard-line over the Rams' last three games. As noted above, the Rams are tied with the Saints with the highest Implied Total (29.5) on the Main Slate this week, and if Todd Gurley (knee) has any restrictions Sunday, the Rams may be forced to lean more heavily on their passing game despite being nearly two-TD favorites on the road in Arizona.
Also Consider: DeAndre Hopkins, HOU at PHI ($8,600), Davante Adams, GB at NYJ ($8,500), Adam Thielen, MIN at DET ($7,800), Antonio Brown, PIT at NO ($8,300), Michael Thomas, NO vs. PIT ($8,100), Julian Edelman, NE vs. BUF ($7,200)
Mike Evans, TB at DAL ($6,800) - Evans turned nine targets into four catches and 121 yards against an excellent Baltimore defense in Week 15, and his price remains deflated entering another tough matchup against Byron Jones and the Cowboys on Sunday. Jameis Winston and the Bucs' offense could be a complete disaster in this setup, facing a good pass rush and likely having to play from behind, but anything they're able to accomplish through the air will likely go through their top receiver, whose priced below $7,000 for only the third time in 15 games this season.
Robby Anderson, NYJ vs. GB ($4,500) - Anderson has at least seven targets in three straight games, and he's found the end zone in back-to-back weeks against the Texans and Bills to provide a big return in tournaments under $4K. Even with a slight price increase this week, Anderson is in a great spot against the Packers, as he continues to rank among the league leaders in air yards per game (101.7) and average depth of target (16.5 yards) while taking eight of his 38 receptions this season for 20-plus yards. Anderson will be a popular play this week, however, so be sure to get differentiation elsewhere in your lineup if you're playing him.
Also Consider: Stefon Diggs, MIN at DET ($7,400), Julio Jones, ATL at CAR ($8,700) *Check Status of Hip Injury*, Brandin Cooks, LAR at ARI ($6,500), Alshon Jeffery, PHI vs. HOU ($5,300), Robert Foster, BUF at NE ($4,900)
Hail Mary: Antonio Callaway, CLE vs. CIN ($3,900) - Last week's selection was Michael Gallup, who didn't even receive a target as the Cowboys were shut out by the Colts, after he averaged nearly seven targets per game over the previous four weeks. He's still on my big-field tournament radar at $3,500 this week as Dallas returns home to face Tampa Bay. Callaway has at least five targets in three of the Browns' last four games, and he narrowly missed a long TD in Week 13 when he fumbled near the goal line on a 71-yard completion, and when another score was called back due to a penalty.
Eric Ebron, IND vs. NYG ($5,700) - After a one-catch, three-yard performance in the Colts' win over Dallas last week, Ebron is still the third most expensive tight end on the board Sunday. T.Y. Hilton's ankle may be an issue, and Ebron's role in the offense tends to be huge when Jack Doyle is out, so a rebound performance seems likely as he remains a threat to reach double-digit targets. The Giants have been a league average defense against tight ends this season, allowing 12.0 DraftKings points per game to the position this season (70 catches, 795 yards, 3 TD) through 14 games.
Evan Engram, NYG at IND ($4,600) - Engram's role is more stable in the absence of Odell Beckham, and while the Giants haven't revealed any plans to place Beckham on IR, there is no reason to risk further injury if he hasn't progressed enough to play. For the season is averaging 8.2 YPT (up from 6.3 in his rookie campaign), and he draws a much easier matchup this week than the one he had while pulling in a season-high eight catches for 75 yards (12 targets) against the Titans in Week 15.
Patriots vs. Bills ($2,500) - If you end up with the extra $1,000 under the cap that will require to roster the Bears against Nick Mullens and San Francisco ($3,500), or $700 more to get to the Rams ($3,200) against Josh Rosen, those are the two highest projected defenses on the board. Most likely, you'll have less than $3,000 to spend once everything else is in place.
The Bills have allowed 40 sacks and thrown 20 interceptions this season, and since the Pats are heavy home favorites, the game script should lead Josh Allen to air it out more than usual. Adjusting for Allen, as opposed to other Buffalo quarterbacks is appropriate, as Allen has a 6:9 TD:INT mark while getting sacked 27 through 10 games for the Bills.
Also Consider: Cowboys vs. Bucs ($2,600), Vikings at Lions ($2,900), Eagles vs. Texans ($2,100)