NFL Week 16 DFS Big Three. Stacks, key players, and values

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Welcome to the NFL Big Three! This article is going to look at the NFL daily fantasy sports main slate and go over three different areas: Stacks, important players, and value pieces. There will be three additions to each area as we look to give you the best preparation for the week ahead. Hopefully, you find this info valuable no matter your skill level and we can find consistent success through the season!

Models and disclaimer

The majority of the information that I’m going to be using in these articles is based on freely available information that you can find yourself, but there will also be information and data that is pulled from the models at my daily fantasy sports site which look to use predictive algorithms to find valuable info in important stats.

Of those models, I’ll be looking at things like a range of outcomes dataset, expected touchdown rates, as well as aggregated yardage calculations which pull together a lot of predictive info to create more manageable statistics about every player in the league. Using a model that creates a range of outcomes rather than a single median projection is much more applicable to sports and is something that I encourage any stats or analytics nerd to pursue, and it’ll be the basis of a lot of the decisions I make here.

Stats from Paydirt

All in all, The data here tries to look forward and get an idea of the best spots to attack.

Three key stacks

Kansas City: Patrick Mahomes, Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce

Chiefs roster construction

There is very little to say here except that the way this slate is put together and how games are spread out this week the Chiefs are by far the best possible stack on the main Sunday slate and it’s not even close. This stack specifically projects for nearly 82 fantasy points and has a 73.25% chance for all three to score more than 20 fantasy points, while the next highest projected stack is Baltimore projected at 56.92. Their implied team total of 32.25 is four points higher than the next best team, the Browns, and that team doesn’t even want to pass the ball when it counts. There’s an obvious gamestack option on the other side of this game as well in Calvin Ridley, who is also egregiously expensive. Altogether, this stack of three players costs $26,000, the most expensive that we have seen this year. Literally the only reason you don’t stack the Chiefs this week is if you cannot afford to do so, and that’s an entirely possible circumstance if we don’t end up getting some good value before the start of the slate. The better way to handle this situation is likely with a secondary stack utilizing either Hill or Kelce with Calvin Ridley and adding it to a cheaper main game stack, but if you can find a way to stack up the most potent offense in football that should be your goal. 

Baltimore Ravens: Lamar Jackson, Mark Andrews

Ravens roster construction

As stated last week, the Ravens are full steam ahead after having a troublesome middle of the season, so I have no problem paying a premium for exposure to their playmakers. Their implied team total of 27.25 is a little uninspiring and their opponent, the Giants, are kind of a dumpster fire at the moment so there is clear potential for a blowout with the starters sitting in the fourth quarter. Typically I would worry about that late in the season but their scoring is so centered around Lamar Jackson and just a few other players that if there is a blowout they will have likely scored enough points to be GPP relevant anyway. The combination that I would prefer to go with is Lamar Jackson and Mark Andrews, since they have the best synergy in the RedZone and it allows us to skip out on worrying about the tight end position, though going with Marquise Brown makes plenty of sense as well as he has seen his target share increase quite a bit over the last couple weeks. The issue is really figuring out a game stack option, with the Giants being in a passing script trailing badly at half, and for that, I would suggest Sterling Shepard or Evan Engram depending on if you use Mark Andrews or not. Regardless of the pieces, the Ravens are in a spot to score at will and should be considered a valuable stack on the main slate.

Atlanta Falcons: Matt Ryan, Calvin Ridley, Russell Gage

Falcons roster construction

Alright, so we have established that the Chiefs are in an incredible spot thanks to pretty much every metric that matters for stacking, so that obviously means that we assume they will be scoring a lot of points. If that’s the case, then we should also be expecting the Falcons to be playing from behind and be in a passing gamescript for the majority of the game, and thus we should be considering them as a stack. Most people will entirely forget about the other side of a good stack, and I assume people will do that this week as well, but the Falcons are a team that can put up a lot of points and have some really high upside pieces. They are also pretty cheap! This entire stack costs just $19,400 on Draftkings and projects reasonably well at 53.7. It also has a 42% chance at all players scoring over 20 fantasy points and doesn’t have near as much ownership associated with it as the other side. The most important part here is that the roster construction of stacking the Falcons allows you to have more upside for less price, as you can take this stack and bring it back with travis Kelce, get four players from the game instead of just three, and still only spend a couple thousand more than a three person Chiefs stack. If the Chiefs end up putting up points like we expect, then the Falcons will have to play catch up and be in a position to get a lot of points to those that take the risk on them.

Three key players

David Montgomery: Fade

Player opportunity Montgomery

Interestingly enough, Montgomery had his worst game in terms of efficiency last week if we are looking at all of his games since the bye week, but it was his best overall opportunity by a longshot. He’s projected to be the highest owned player on the slate as of today at 30% owned, but I’m not sure that he deserves that. He had three games in a row where his efficiency was fantastic, with fantasy points per touch numbers of 1.58, 1.29, and 1.75, but it’s not something we expect for a career long inefficient guy to end up being Derrick Henry. It’s more likely that he had a streak of good luck (80 yard touchdowns on the first play, touchdown regression, etc.) and that we should expect him to go back to his regular playstyle rather than continue this torrid pace. Now, granted, if he ends up getting another 30 carries he is going to have a good shot at doing well, but we shouldn’t expect that considering the Bears haven’t been doing that either. He’s projected for 22.61, which is fine, but it’s not an insane projection deserving of the highest owned player on the slate. I’m going to bet on regression to his mean outcomes and use running backs with better consistent ceilings. Fade.

Le’Veon Bell: Play

Bell player opportunity

We have seen Bell be a really strong fantasy play in the past when given ample opportunity on a team that can actually move the ball, and I’m willing to give him a pass from his time with the Jets considering it’s the Jets. With Clyde Edwards-Helaire injured and not playing, we should see Bell getting the vast majority of the running back work for the Chiefs in a game that has them as pretty sizable favorites over a team that has had problems fielding a competitive defense. He ended up with 15 carries and a target last week, along with a fair share of the redzone work for the team. It’s not crazy to think he ends up with 18-20 carries and 2-4 targets in this one as a floor expectation along with a couple endzone shots as well, and he’s got a median projection of 18.10 and a 9.82% chance at hitting 29+ fantasy points, and the price just doesn’t match that expectation. The interesting part here will be how people handle Bell along with the Chiefs being the best stack to force on the slate. If the stack ends up more popular than Bell, then Bell is an easy play for both upside and leverage. If Bell ends up more popular than the stack, you’ll likely want to try to fade Bell and play the passing game. However, it’s more likely they end up around the same ownership which means you should just default to playing a lot of Le’Veon in an incredible spot. Play. 

Travis Kelce: Play

Kelce player opportunity

There’s nothing that I can tell you that will go towards fading Kelce in terms of stats, or projections, or upside. He’s scored 20+ fantasy points in nine of his last 10 games, he’s had 10+ targets in seven of the last 10 games, and his median projection of 23 fantasy points is nearly seven points higher than the next highest tight end on the slate. The Chiefs have the highest implied team total, and he gets consistent redzone work, giving him the highest ceiling of any tight end. The only reason that you wouldn’t just jam in Kelce is if you couldn’t afford to have him, but there are cheap enough stacks that I think it’s more than possible to make it work. Again, this isn’t rocket science, and if you can play the best tight end in football in this spot you absolutely should. Play.

Line Movement Pre-Kickoff Show

Three key values

Ito Smith: Fade

One thing that we typically don’t want to do is play value just because it unlocks the more expensive options on a slate, and that’s kind of what we are seeing with Ito Smith this week. The Falcons came out and said that Gurley is no longer the lead back, and that’s fine, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that the backfield is suddenly valuable, and it certainly doesn’t mean that Ito Smith should be 15% owned in large field contests. He had six carries last week along with two targets and has had more than 15 opportunities just once all year, and now the Falcons are huge underdogs against a Chiefs team that will likely make them throw the ball rather than hand it off. His projection of 15 fantasy points is okay in a vacuum, but it’s also pretty dependent on a touchdown since the Falcons can’t run the ball very well. The only reason that you would want to play Smith is if the Falcons were miraculously holding a lead over the Chiefs the whole game and feeding the running back, but if that happens they likely had a bunch of passing efficiency and not rushing upside. Fade.

Darrell Henderson Jr.: Play

With no Akers in the lead role, the Rams will go back to the other running back on the team that everybody thought was really good and suddenly didn’t anymore once they got Akers. Henderson has flashed upside on the year when given opportunity, with three of the first five games of the year finding him at .90 fantasy points per touch or more and a mix of rushing attempts and targets. He also had consistent redzone work up until the last couple weeks of Akers taking over the role entirely, so we would expect him to go right back to that expectation. He’s projected for around 16 fantasy points and has a 25.44% chance to score at least 5x his salary, which gives him a nice median and ceiling combination for GPPs. Considering the need for value, he’s a sight for sore eyes and should be somebody that you count on when trying to roster Travis Kelce. Play.

Jordan Akins: Fade

After securing 16% of the targets last week, along with a couple of RedZone targets, it seems that Akins is getting attention as a way to pay down at the volatile TE position to help get salary for the expensive wide receivers on this slate. Typically I’m good with that strategy, but I don’t love Akins and think that trusting the Houston offense is going to be a shaky bet at best. They are implied for 26.75 points and going up against the Bengals, which inspires plenty of confidence, but that confidence is misplaced in the tight end for the team. It’s still much more likely that Brandin Cooks and Keke Coutee will garner the majority of the valuable targets, and the only reason to take Akins over either one is because of price. Akins isn’t even the main RedZone threat, with Coutee having a much more consistent role where it counts, and since tight ends outside of the elite group are mostly just a touchdown prop, he’s not that good of a bet. A projection of 7.10 cements all of these thoughts and we can assume that his upside isn’t anything worth punting for as the elite tight ends on this slate are much better priorities than paying down at the position. Fade.

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