DraftKings Chalk, Pivots and Punts: Week 16
DraftKings Chalk, Pivots and Punts: Week 16
Welcome to NFL Week 16 fam! Let’s recap what we’re doing here. This is a weekly piece on Daily Fantasy plays for Draft Kings with a focus on GPPs, in particular, the main slate. The articles will indicate who I think will be the chalk plays, who some pivots or contrarian plays are to get off the chalk, and some punt plays that could either save on salary or are just so far below the radar they might be tournament winning plays if all goes well. Instead of saying “Player A” is chalk, pivot to “Player B,” there will be a chart showing my data for the match-ups with the chalk/pivots/punts listed after that. In this article, pivots can be a pivot from one player to another player at the same position, from one position to another, or just a way to pivot to the other side of a game that everyone else might be stacking.
Simply put, the pivots will not always be direct pivots, more like other ideas to consider in the macro-view of the slate. Each game will have a brief write up and will include the team’s projected point total and spread as of the time of writing. Without further ado, let’s have a look at the Sunday main slate.
Above is the Vegas implied totals and lines for each game, as well as match-up data I have compiled for pace, opponent fantasy points allowed, and raw Yards & TD data vs. the positions we are looking at for building our DFS rosters. Red is bad, orange is beware, yellow is more neutral, and green is good. The dark green shade is better than good. Here is a link to the match-up data you can copy/paste into your own spreadsheet and manipulate.
Below is my Chalk, Pivots, and Punts Chart based on my opinion of the slate and what the field will likely be on this week.
Websites I use to research are:
- Daily Roto for Snaps, Targets, Carries, and Red Zone Opportunities (Promo code: “grid10” Save 10%)
- The Quant Edge for WR/CB Match-Up Data (Promo code: “gridironexperts” Save 10%)
- Pro Football Focus for WR/CB and OL/DL Match-Up Data
- Twitter for beat writer coverage for each team. Click on the link to go to a team by team list.
Plus I have a spreadsheet of my own that I use to keep track of defensive points by position (i.e. WR1, WR2, Slot, etc.) and multi-TD games allowed.
Now, let’s dig into each game and see what the great chalk is, where to pivot, and if there are any good punts on the slate. Games are listed in order of Vegas implied point totals since the higher scoring games are where we tend to focus our attention first when constructing rosters.
Pittsburgh Steelers (23.5/+6) at New Orleans Saints(29.5/-6) 
This is the only game above 50 this week and features two offensive juggernauts, so expect a lot of ownership to come out of this one. These two teams play at a good pace which means there should be plenty of action. Both teams play pretty good defense, too, so there is some concern this won’t reach the lofty implied total here. Both of these teams have top 2 sack numbers on the year, which could force more big plays to get out of bad down and distance situations. The Steelers do a great job of taking away the long ball, so the Saints will want to stay in manageable situations. The Saints defense is usually very stingy against RBs but will allow some points to the elite backs of the league. Jaylen Samuels ($6700) is expected to draw another start in this one after coming off a massive game against the Patriots who are soft against RBs. This will be a tougher match-up for him, but the role he plays has value, so I would expect him to be a bit chalky this week, even in this less than ideal match-up. The Steelers passing game will draw a lot of attention for DFS rosters.
The Match-Up Chart above indicates Ben Roethlisberger ($6700) has the third-best match-up in points allowed to the QB position this week, and the WR position as a whole has the best points allowed match-up. He should be in a good spot to produce a 300-yard game and a couple of TDs in this one, but he is the most expensive QB on the slate, so roster construction would likely begin with a Steelers stack, then see what else fits. At WR, the most likely match-ups will be Marshon Lattimore shadowing Antonio Brown ($8300) and Eli Apple shadowing JuJu Smith-Schuster ($8000). Neither corner has allowed a TD while shadowing their top priority except for Lattimore in week 1. JuJu moves into the slot more often than Brown, where P.J. Williams lines up, so that could be a boost for him. For this game, I would rely less on match-up data and more on what the offense wants to do and can do and would consider both of these receivers near locks for 20+ points each. If you’re not stacking Ben with both receivers, then JuJu might be the one to choose between the two based on the slightly lower salary and because he has seen more targets and TDs than Brown over the last four games – literally out-targeting Brown in 3 out of the last four weeks. Or, you could consider regression comes back Brown’s way, and he sees the majority of the targets this time.
The Saints have game and half lead over LA for the top seed in the NFC, but should still be playing to win in this game. This will be the Saints first home game in 4 weeks, which is where we want them to be when targeting their players for DFS. Drew Brees ($6500) is at his best on turf in a dome, and suspect he’ll be at his best in this one. The Steelers are another tough defense to run on, and opponents have tested them on the ground 25 times or less the last 4 weeks. This would suggest some increased pass volume for Mr. Brees and company. The Steelers have had trouble against slot WRs lately, so it’ll be interesting to see how often they try to get Michael Thomas ($8100) inside and away from Joe Haden. Thomas is the only reliable threat the Saints have at WR, so the Steelers could focus all their attention on him and force Brees to use his other options. It’s unfortunate the Saints don’t have a #1 TE option to go to here, since the Steelers have been soft there this year – although they did shut down Gronk last week. Tre’Quan Smith’s ($4000) only two good games have come at home, making him a huge risk/reward punt play this week. His targets bounced back up to 4 last week after only seeing two total over the three weeks prior.
It’s possible the injury he suffered against the Eagles (his blow up game) has had something to do with this and he’s healthier now. However, his snap share has been trending down each of the last three weeks. Alvin Kamara ($7400) should see plenty of targets and is a mismatch for the Steelers linebackers in coverage. He’s going to be toward the top of my player pool this week, which is crowded with good RBs. His match-up and snap share compared to the elite backs priced around him could make him one of the lower owned backs in the elite tier. This would be good leverage in case some of those other backs fail and he sees another 6-11 targets like he has over the last 3 weeks, and if he continues to see the majority share of red zone opportunities. Over the last 4 weeks, Kamara has 1 more total RZ opportunity than both Thomas and Ingram have combined.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (20.5/+7) at Dallas Cowboys (27.5/-7) 
The Bucs are eliminated from playoff contention and are evaluating everything within their organization these last two games. The coaches and the players will still have a lot of fight in them because jobs are on the line. The Dallas defense is too tough to warrant considering much from the Tampa side though. There is one player worth considering as a value play who could put up 15-20 points at the top of his range of outcomes. After seeing what the Colts did to Dallas last week, it would make sense for Tampa to try and hammer Peyton Barber ($3600) at the Cowboys for as long as they’re in the game. Barber has been seeing near-workhorse type numbers the last 5 weeks averaging 17 carries and 1.8 targets per game and he’s seeing a lot of work down in the red zone. As a complete dart throw in large field tourneys, I don’t mind Jameis Winston ($5500) either. He has a lot to play for and all 4 of his top WRs should be back for this one. His box score has not been impressive lately, but if they get behind they could end up calling enough volume to make him valuable this week.
The Cowboys are still playing to maintain their lead in the NFC East, so they will have their foot on the gas pedal in this one. The match-up chart above indicates Ezekiel Elliott ($9000) is in the best spot for all RBs this week. He’s a lock as it is, and is going to be chalky. Play him where you can afford it. The Tampa defense comes up as the top match-up for QBs, based on season-long road data for YPA, passing TDs (Avg & Multi-TD %), and QB fantasy points against. This should be a good bounce-back spot for Dak Prescott ($5700) and Amari Cooper ($7500). Both will be toward the top of my player pool this week.
New York Giants (17.25/+9.5) at Indianapolis Colts (26.75/-9.5) 
Here comes another elite RB into the Indy Fast Track. The Colts did a good job to “contain” Zeke last week and held him to 18.8 before the stat correction later in the week. Saquon Barkley ($7900) is coming off a 9.6 point week, and is priced way down for this match-up. If the Colts were going to focus on Zeke last week, I would suspect they will put their primary focus on Barkley here. The Colts have a great defense so this is something they could do, and limit Saquon to right around 20 points since the rest of the offense is intimidating if Beckham is out. The Colts also have their stud rookie LB saying he wants 40 tackles after getting snubbed for the pro-bowl…most of those will be directed toward bringing down Barkley. Barkley may end up pretty popular this week for the discount and because the Colts have typically been easier to attack with pass catching RBs. As of now, I’m looking at keeping exposure light because I think there are RBs in his salary range that can score a similar amount of points. I have no interest in the rest of the Giants offense, including Odell, if he plays.
The Colts offense will likely take what the defense give again this week, putting Marlon Mack ($5500) in chalk waters. His salary and this match-up combine to create a near free square play. The Giants are tough to throw on, but easy to run the ball against, and they will be down their two leading tacklers in this game with Collins on IR and Ogletree likely to miss with a concussion. If building multiple line-ups, you’ll want some Mack exposure. If building one in larger GPP, then I would fade since he’ll likely be the highest owned back on the slate. Andrew Luck ($6200) and T.Y. Hilton ($7100) should always be on the radar, and both may have lower ownership with everyone on Mack, so a pivot to them would create some leverage in case Mack fails. The Giants defense has only allowed 3 TDs to TEs, 2 going to Ertz, so I’m not as high on Ebron as some other folks might be.
Green Bay Packers (24.75/-3) at New York Jets (21.75/+3) [46.5]
There are a few plays from this game that make sense and could provide good value. For the Pack, I am looking at Aaron Rodgers ($6300) and Davante Adams ($8500) as primary plays against this pass funnel Jets defense. Rodgers will be low owned by box score scouts, but the volume should be there for him to produce a 20-25 point game. Adams will be the most targeted of the Packer’s WRs and should keep his streak of 11+ targets and 20+ points going in this one. Other players from the Pack worth considering are Jamaal Williams ($5400), Marquez Valdes-Scantling ($3700) and Equanimeous St. Brown ($3100). Williams is going to be the chalk sauce this week, but is in line for a solid workload. At $5400 he’s a solid play. MVS should take over the slot role for Cobb, who is listed as doubtful. The Jets have struggled to stop slot WRs all year, so this is a good bounce-back spot for MVS, but probably not a 20+ point getting spot. St. Brown is interesting in that the Packers seem to be trying to get him more involved as of late. He could benefit from the single coverage he’ll see with defenses paying attention to Adams and Williams, yet he is also not a 20+ point play. Both MVS and St.Brown are salary savers that could get you 12-15 points if you feel like you can make up for those points by spending up somewhere else.
For the Jets, it looks like Robby Anderson ($4500) is going to be a popular play. The low salary in a game that could see a lot of throws is interesting, and Robby has big-play potential. I’m not sure I’m sold on him enough to jump in the chalk waters here though. Jaire Alexander is looking like a solid corner as a rookie and could really limit his upside. Elijah McGuire ($4700) looks a little more interesting to me, if I’m looking at roster a Jet. He’s pretty much got all the snaps and all the work to himself back there now and Green Bay on the road is a top 3 team to target on this slate with an RB. I don’t hate the idea of rostering Sam Darnold ($4900) in a multi-entry scenario either. The Pack allow over 2 passing TD per game on average and have allowed 2+ passing TD in 6 out of 7 road games this year. Darnold showed off a bit of his wheels last week gaining 35 yards on 6 carries.
Houston Texans (22.25/+1.5) at Philadelphia Eagles (23.75/-1.5) 
The Texans don’t have the type of run game/running backs to get us a 20+ point game in this match-up, so I will focus on the passing game, and really only one guy jumps out here. DeAndre Hopkins ($8600) has the best on paper match-up in this one, since the Eagles have had trouble with #1 WRs all year, though a little less lately. Hopkins is a true elite player in a good match-up and is priced accordingly. If folks are going to spend up at RB this week, Hopkins could give you leverage where the field may be light on the top tier of WRs. The Eagles defense forces teams to pass, so Deshaun Watson ($6600) has some appeal as a stacking buddy for Hopkins, but I have concerns about that OL keeping him clean enough to make multiple big plays. The Eagles allow a lot of 20+ yard stuff, but don’t let you get over the top for the 40+ yard plays. The Texans are leading the league in getting their QB sacked, while Philly is merely average in that department. However, the pressure could cause enough problems for Watson that it could lead to turnovers.
With the potential turnovers and the added sack opportunities the Eagles DST ($2100) will see this week, they are at the top of my list for DST. The value they open up really helps with roster construction. I would guess many other folks are seeing the same, so they’ll probably be chalky. The Texans defense is another one that doesn’t see many teams trying to beat them on the ground and will see plenty of pass attempts from Nick Foles ($4700). Foles is a value play/punt option that can open up the rest of your roster for top-end talent at other positions, like Foles’ tight end Zach Ertz ($5900). Ertz is facing the best defense to target with TEs on the slate, which will make him a bit chalky for those that try to win the TE position by paying all the way up. Ertz is Foles’ favorite target, which gives us more reason to find that $5900 for TE this week. Alshon Jeffery ($5300) didn’t play the first two games of the year with Foles, and Nelson Agholor ($3700) was the beneficiary. With Jeffery back last week, he led the team in targets with 8 and had his first 100-yard game since week 4 – Jeffery’s first game of the season. Jeffery makes for a solid play here, capable of 30 points if he can replicate that 100-yard game and maybe find the end zone.
Buffalo Bills (15.5/+13.5) at New England Patriots (29.0/-13.5) [44.5]
When looking for plays against a team facing the Patriots, the first thing we need to do is figure out who they will recognize as the biggest threat and take that player out of the game. The Bills offense all starts with QB Josh Allen ($5800). Detroit did a great job of containing him on the ground last week, but he still scored 2 TDs (1 pass/1 rush) and got the win. This week I expect about the same, around 220 total yards and 2 TDs. That’s not enough to hit a ceiling score, so he won’t be high on my list this week. The Patriots have done a pretty good job containing the mobile QBs they’ve faced this year, with only Mitch Trubisky really burning them on the ground. I don’t see any of the Bills receivers beating their match-ups this week for a big game either. [Noted: Revenge game narrative for Stephon Gilmore]. That leaves the only option for BUF from a DFS standpoint as LeSean McCoy ($4800). The Patriots are not great at stopping multi-dimensional RBs, which Shady was as recently as last year. McCoy has not been a huge asset for fantasy this year though, and would be a low-owned punt option that is capable of getting 15-20 points in this match-up.
The second, and less fresh revenge narrative in this one belongs to Chris Hogan ($3300). With the Josh Gordon news, Hogan is back on the radar as a DFS option. His salary will draw ownership, so he a play some/fade some guy, but is in a good spot. The Bills have done a good job of limiting the amount of players that go over 20 fantasy points against them this year, so Hogan is no lock for a sudden spike week. James White ($5200) had a great game against the Bills last time they played, but that was when he was the only RB healthy. Now that Burkhead is back this backfield is unplayable. For the most part, this game is a fade for me, except for a piece of Hogan or McCoy in some line-ups for cap relief.
Cincinnati Bengals (17.5/+9) at Cleveland Browns (26.5/-9) 
The Bengals don’t have much to get excited about here, and their best players are all trying to play through injuries. Joe Mixon ($7100) is coming off two workhorse weeks where he totaled 27.8 and 30.0 DK points. Mixon saw 26 and 27 carries and 6 and 4 targets. This is elite volume for $7100, and he is facing a team that has been soft against the run. Mixon will be chalk, but as long as he’s healthy, he should produce the type of game we want from an $8-9k back. If Tyler Boyd ($5800) is healthy in this one, he’s worth a look, but it’s hard to really project a huge game from him with Driskel at QB.
For the Browns, Nick Chubb ($7300) offers about what we’re expecting from Mixon, but has the home field advantage in his favor, where we can see from my weekly FPA chart that teams tend to allow more fantasy points against on the road. It’s really a coin flip for me between Chubb and Mixon but would lean toward Chubb if any news comes out that Mixon may be a little too dinged up to make it through a full game. An interesting way to stack this game would be to go with Mixon and Baker Mayfield ($6100), and either stack Jarvis Landry ($6200) in there, or go Naked Baker due to his tendency to spread the ball around so much.
Los Angeles Rams (29.25/-14.5) at Arizona Cardinals (14.75/+14.5) 
The Rams go into Arizona as a heavy favorite, even with the possibility of Todd Gurley ($9200) sitting this one out. Having Todd Gurley on the slate will help keep the ownership of the top tier backs spread out. If he misses, then ownership will tick up a bit on those guys and we will see a ton of people use “free square” John Kelly ($4000). However, there is still uncertainty regarding who will see opportunities if Gurley sits (which he should). The Rams signed a veteran back C.J. Anderson this week after DK released pricing, so he’s not an option in the player pool. Justin Davis ($3000) is the other option here, but he’s dealing with a shoulder injury and seem unlikely to play. If it’s just Kelly and Anderson, we’re forced into the Kelly play if we want to roster a Rams RB against a defense that allows the most volume to RBs on the slate. The Rams game plan may be to run as much as possible (since that’s what the defense allows), and try to spare the health of the pass catchers as they approach the playoffs. For this reason, the passing game takes on a bigger risk for DFS. With risk comes reward, and the Cards have been lit up by opponent #1 WRs this year – however, that trend is has come from games where Arizona was on the road. Still, I would seriously consider rostering Robert Woods ($6600) this week, as he will be the most likely to avoid Patrick Peterson for most of the game. Since Cooper Kupp was injured (so weeks 11-15) Robert Woods’ 23% target share is 5% more than the next receiver on the Rams, which is 18% for both Brandin Cooks ($6500) and Josh Reynolds ($4600). If Gurley misses time, we should focus on the next best player on the team over the next guy up at Gurley’s position. That guy is Bob Woods – roster him. The Rams DST ($3200) may also want to step it up to keep the offense from having to do too much here, and they will be a popular play given the points DSTs have scored against ARI this year has been incredible.
From a game-plan perspective, the Cardinals will try to shorten this game by running the ball. Their overall offensive plays per game is the 2nd worst in the league, meaning we don’t have many options for them from a DFS perspective. It’s only likely one player in this environment can score more than 20 points. The most likely player to do that will be David Johnson ($6200). He’s a high priced punt play though, that doubles as a pivot. In addition to being the second least in offensive plays per game, the Cards are last in the league in total offense and 3rd worst in offensive TDs per game, making Johnson a very low probability play to hit a high score.
Atlanta Falcons (20.5/+3) at Carolina Panthers (23.5/-3) 
The Falcons are eliminated from the playoffs and the Panthers may as well be after shutting down The Fast Dinosaur for the rest of the season. The Falcons lost their #2 RB Ito Smith for the year, making this a possible 1 man show for impending free agent Tevin Coleman ($4800) who is coming off a big week and has already rushed for over 100 yards against this defense this year. There are concerns about Coleman’s usage, as Atlanta has kept him at around a 56% snap share for most of the year, which is down to 51% over the last 4 weeks. His opportunity share has also been at a season-low clip over the last 4 weeks. It’s really hard to predict what his role will be with just him and Brian Hill in the backfield, but his salary this week makes him an intriguing punt if it seems like he’ll take on over 60% of the snaps and get back over a 20% market share of the offensive opportunities. Coleman’s floor is probably around 11 points, but his ceiling may not get over the 20 point mark we’re looking for. The player that stands out the most for me here is Austin Hooper ($3700) who is back to being priced where he should be after a couple of low key games against teams that are strong against his position. Carolina has had their struggles against TEs this year, and if the Bradberry Blanket somehow slows Julio down again, this could be a Hooper week.
Speaking of Julio Jones ($8700 – WR1), he is priced to the top of the WR group this week and is dealing with hip and foot injuries and listed as a game-time decision. James Bradberry slowed him down a bit in the first match-up in Atlanta holding him to 4 reception and 55 yards in his coverage – which was the majority of Jones’ production on the day. If Jones is going to be playing through injuries, his risk is too high for me at that salary, and I’ll pass. Calvin Ridley ($5100) caught his first career TD against the Panthers in his first meaningful action of the season and has been hit or miss since. He’ll face off against fellow rookie corner Donte Jackson for most of this one, who has played well this year, but is beatable. Ridley is not a must-start, but he should be on the radar in case Julio doesn’t seem like he’ll be 100%.
As previously mentioned, the Panthers will be playing out the rest of the season with Taylor Heinicke ($4000) at QB. Heinicke is an undrafted free agent from Old Dominion that has been hanging around the NFL since 2015. He’s originally from Atlanta, so perhaps there some narrative there, if you like those. Heinicke started out on the Vikings where Norv Turner was the offensive coordinator giving him 3 years with this system under his belt. 2017 he was not with Norv, but he’s been in Carolina all of this season. He may not win you a million dollars this week, but he’s a punt option to consider based on his history with Norv and the offensive system being set up to where he just has the get the ball out quick on high percentage throws to guys who can run after the catch. If CMC, Moore, and Samuel can play well, his numbers should reflect that as well. The offense should continue to function the way it would if Cam were playing, so I see no reason to downgrade Christian McCaffrey ($8800) here. McCaffrey should still see his near 100% snap rate and dominate the offensive opportunity share. The Falcons are a team to target with pass catching RBs, even with the return of Deion Jones in the middle of the defense. Since Jones has returned, teams are targeting RBs an average of 8 times per game, with an average of 6 of those targets converting into receptions, gaining an average of 61 yards and no TDs. Last week the Cardinals RBs, led by David Johnson saw 12 targets, 9 receptions, and 108 receiving yards. McCaffrey should be in for a big day as Heinicke’s safety valve. It’s a riskier proposition to roster one of the WRs, but D.J. Moore ($5600) and Curtis Samuel ($4500) would be the ones to target if you did.
Chicago Bears (23.5/-4) at San Francisco 49ers (19.5/+4) 
The Bears still have an outside chance of moving into the #2 spot in the NFC. However unlikely, they will still be invested in at least this game before that picture becomes any clearer. The Niners defense has been playing better as of late, and no one really jumps out form the Bears side at first glance. Mitch Trubisky ($6300) seems a bit pricey, and has 18-22 point potential. I think we can get that elsewhere for cheaper. Tarik Cohen ($6400) might be worth considering though. Seattle never targets Chris Carson, but saw something in the defense that lead them to throw at him 6 times last week, plus another 8 throws were directed at Mike Davis for 14 targets to RBs. Denver threw to their backs 10 times the week before, and Theo Riddick saw 12 targets by himself in week 1. He’s the most likely Bear to have a ceiling game here.
Kyle Shanahan is scheming guys wide open this year, which puts some receiving options for the 49ers in the pool this week. Dante Pettis ($4300) is getting the most opportunities out wide, while George Kittle ($6000) is getting looks all over the field. Avoiding the Bears stingy run defense and going with either of these guys makes some sense in GPPs. The 49ers DST ($2000) is a min-priced punt option that did alright last week. With so many young guys flying around back there now, anything can happen.
Minnesota Vikings (24.25/-6) at Detroit Lions (18.25/+6) [42.5]
It’s been a bumpy ride for Adam Thielen ($7800) these past few weeks, but this is a perfect opportunity to turn that around against Nevin Lawson in the slot. He’s up toward the top of my player pool this week, and is coming at a value being priced this low. Dalvin Cook ($6900) should continue to see increased volume with the change in offensive philosophy after the Vikes let go of offensive coordinator John DeFilippo prior to last week. Cook is a solid play and is also priced at a bit of a bargain after his breakout game for 2018 last week. The Vikings DST ($2900) should be able to harass Stafford and keep the score low, putting them in a solid spot for DSTs this week.
No interest in any Lions this week, not even a Golladay.
Jacksonville Jaguars (17.25/+3.5) at Miami Dolphins (20.75/-3.5) 
Hard to trust any Jags right now, so going to take a hard pass here and look at the Dolphins options. The Jags have a solid pass defense, and Frank Gore is done for the year (career?) thrusting Kalen Ballage ($3700) into his role. Ballage went bonkers last week and comes at a dirt cheap salary, so you can bet there will be some ownership skewing in his direction. The Jags can be beat on the ground, but it’s going to be hard to replicate the numbers he put up last week, especially since Kenyan Drake ($3900) is still in the picture to take away most of the pass-catching work. The best plays from this game are going to be the Jaguars DST ($2700) or the Dolphins DST ($2700).
There are a lot of ways to attack this slate, and multi-entry seems like the best way to go. If trying to decide between two players of similar salary, I like to give the nod to players that are not facing a common opponent. Sometimes, those games go higher in score than division rivalry games. At this point in the week, I haven’t had enough time yet to see if there’s a possible singular roster construction I like. I’ll be playing catch-up this weekend trying to fit everything together and determine how many rosters I’ll need to cover everything I want to for week 15. Hopefully, you are much farther ahead in your research for the week and find some of this useful to help make decisions. Please excuse any typos in this article, I’ll be going back in to do an update at some point soon, but wanted to get this up sooner than later. Good luck this week, and have a holiday season that’s right for you. Thanks for reading!