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DraftKings Power Pivots: NFL DFS Week 15


Hello RotoBallers! Welcome back to Power Pivots, where we are always in search of players that will offer us leverage in DraftKings GPPs. Those of you that read last week's column hopefully had a solid day. Our strategy of fading the cheap chalk RBs in favor of Christian McCaffery and Ezekiel Elliott worked well, while our boom-or-bust WR selection, Zay Jones, unfortunately busted.

I'm not gonna try to dress it up, the Week 15 DraftKings main slate is...pretty ugly. With the Charger and Chiefs playing Thursday, a couple of games on Saturday, and the Rams, Saints, and Panthers on Sunday and Monday nights...there isn't a lot left to love. While it might not make for fun lineup building, this is the type of slate that we can gain a leg up on the field just by really leaning into the research process. That said, this is going to be a tough one. I'm glad you joined me, let's dig in and work through it together!

All ownership projections in this article are courtesy of the awesome folks at UFCollective. They provide the most accurate ownership projections that I have found in the DFS industry and now offer their content directly to the public. It is a premium product that is worth every penny and available here. They offer NFL, NBA, and MLB content for both DraftKings and FanDuel. You can follow them on Twitter @UFCollective.

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Week 15 NFL DFS Power Pivots for DraftKings GPPs

As I mention every week, ownership considerations should come at the end of your weekly research process. Ownership projections change throughout the week, and I highly recommend that you refer back to this column before finalizing your lineups. I will update ownership projections and add injury notes with additional strategy thoughts on Saturdays.

QB CHALK: Andrew Luck ($6,400)

Projected DraftKings Ownership: 15%

POWER PIVOT: Derek Carr ($5,400)

Projected DraftKings Ownership: 4%

Yeah...I just threw up in my mouth a little bit as I typed Derek Carr's name into the header above. Unfortunately, it's just that type of week. There are four QBs currently projected to garner between 12%-15% ownership on this slate, with Andrew Luck leading a group that consists of big names like Brady, Ryan, and Roethlisberger. When ownership is like this, it tells me two things: 1.) People are looking for safety. & 2.) There is no clear-cut play at the position.

While Derek Carr is neither safe nor a clear-cut choice, he does have both a tremendous matchup and a low ownership projection. In addition to to the matchup and ownership, Carr's $5,400 price tag offers us some decent salary relief on a slate where we will need every extra dollar we can find.

The Bengals defense offers a juicy matchup. Cincinnati has struggled across the board, ranking dead last in the league in both total yards and points allowed. The Bengals are 27th in yards allowed per pass and have allowed the fifth-most passing TDs in the NFL.

On the other side of this matchup, the Raiders struggles this year are well-documented, but Oakland has surprisingly shown some fight over the last couple of weeks, by taking Kansas City to the brink and actually defeating the Steelers last week. Carr has looked very comfortable in Jon Gruden's offense in both of those games, throwing for a combined 607 yards and five TDs in the last two weeks. In a game with a tight three-point spread and good Over/Under of 46 points, we should see Carr's volume, 34.8 pass attempts per game over his last five, hold steady or increase.

Carr's matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals is about as good as it gets. If he and his offense were more reliable, this would be a slam-dunk spot, but I'm not confident enough in Carr or the Raiders offense to call it that. What it is, is an inconsistent, but discounted, QB in a great matchup that has a tight spread and one of the higher Over/Unders on the board. This is definitely a GPP-only play, but I feel good about Carr's chances of putting up around 20 DK points, with upside for more.

SATURDAY UPDATE: Thanks for dropping by for the Saturday Updates! Not much to discuss at QB, with the choice between "The Fab Four" of Luck, Brady, Big Ben, and Ryan coming down to personal preference. I still like Carr as a contrarian play that offers a little discount. Buffalo's Josh Allen ($5,800) is a boom-or-bust option...it's hard to count on him continuing to churn out 100 yards rushing every game, but with LeSean McCoy listed as questionable, Allen should once again have several rushing attempts.

 

RB CHALK: Ezekiel Elliott ($9,000)

Projected DraftKings Ownership: 31%

POWER PIVOT: Joe Mixon ($6,100)

Projected DraftKings Ownership: 27%

What a difference a week makes! Last week in this column I implored my readers to get Zeke in their lineups and this week I'm forced to find a pivot for him, as he sits atop ownership projections with a massive 31% share. I can't with a clear conscience tell you to completely fade Elliott this week, as I'm very interested in trying to squeeze him into lineups myself.

While most of us would like to get some Elliott exposure, he is very expensive. Cincinnati's Joe Mixon is also expected to be popular but offers a huge discount when compared to Zeke. Mixon comes in at just $6,100 on the salary scale, and on a slate where guaranteed points are hard to find, Mixon offers what is perhaps the best combination of floor and price this week.

We touched on the Oakland/Cincy matchup when talking about Derek Carr and Mixon's side of things looks just as good. The Raiders have been consistently gashed by opposing RBs, allowing 122 rushing yards per game to the RB position, the second-worst total in the NFL, and rank 26th in yards allowed per carry.

There was some concern a few weeks ago that Gio Bernard's return from injury would eat into Mixon's workload. That certainly wasn't the case last week, with Mixon out-touching Bernard 31 to five. A repeat of last week's 31 touches is probably hoping for too much, but the Bengals will be eager to both establish the run and protect reserve QB, Jeff Driskel. Mixon has averaged just over 22 touches in the two-and-a-half games that Driskel has been in action, and 22-26 touches is a reasonable expectation for him again this week.

Yes, Mixon will be popular, but as I often mention in this column, not all chalk is bad chalk. In a slate that presents us with lots of difficult decisions at every position, I'm more than willing to lock-in Mixon (at this price and with this matchup) as a "set it and forget it" play.

SATURDAY UPDATE: Love both of the guys we touched on above and I will try hard to get both Zeke and Mixon in my lineups. With New York's Odell Beckham Jr. confirmed OUT, Saquan Barkley ($9,400) enters the conversation as the best option on the board (if he wasn't there already). Minnesota's Dalvin Cook ($6,500) stands out as a nice mid-tier option, as he gets a juicy matchup vs. Miami and should see an increased workload thanks to the coordinator change in Minny. The Pittsburgh Steelers are throwing a late-week curveball at us...James Conner ($7,400) got in a limited practice Friday. With a 4:25 PM kickoff, we might be in limbo concerning Conner's status, which puts us in a difficult position as far as Jaylen Samuels ($5,200) goes. Hopefully, we get some clarity on the situation sooner rather than later. Either player would be viable, with Samuels being much easier on the pocketbook. I had some interest in San Fran's Jeff Wilson Jr. ($4,600) as a salary saver, but with Matt Breida ($4,700) looking probable, I have no interest in either.

 

WR CHALK: Adam Thielen ($8,600)

Projected DraftKings Ownership: 27%

POWER PIVOT: Julian Edelman ($7,200)

Projected DraftKings Ownership: 17%

I'm pretty surprised that Adam Thielen is projected to be this popular. Don't get me wrong, the dude is a beast... but if I'm spending anywhere near $8,600 on a player this week, it will be at the RB position.

While I'm not willing to pay the freight on Thielen, New England's Julian Edelman is well within reach at $7,200. Edelman is like the O.G. version of Thielen, a dangerous slot receiver that gets a ton of targets. Edelman has logged five games with 10 or more targets this season and should see plenty of work in Week 15 in a matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers that has a slate-high Over/Under of 52 points.

Edelman is a great way to gain some exposure to a game that is probably Week 15's best chance at a shootout. While the Steelers defense is not one we usually go out of our way to target, Edelman has a terrific position-specific matchup. Pittsburgh has been lit up by slot receivers in each of their last three games. The last three slot WRs and their lines against the Steelers looks like this: Week 12 Emmanuel Sanders 7/86/1, Week 13 Keenan Allen 14/148/1, Week 14 Seth Roberts 5/75/0

Workload won't be a concern, as Edelman was on the field for over 91% of New England's offensive snaps in Week 14, hauling in nine of 12 targets for 86 yards and a TD against Miami last week. That profiles as a nice baseline for Edelman in this matchup against the Steelers. While we are usually sacrificing some yardage upside when we roster Edelman, he has an excellent chance to eclipse 100 yards receiving in this one. When we think of New England pass catchers in the red zone, our minds immediately go to Rob Gronkowski, but Edelman has 17 targets inside the 20-yard line this season, the 14th most in the NFL. It's not likely that Edelman posts a "slate-breaking" score, but it's not a stretch to envision him putting up his best DK score of the season either.

SATURDAY UPDATE: The big news at WR is New York's Odell Beckham being ruled out for the second consecutive week. This puts Sterling Shepard ($4,400) squarely into play as a salary saver. Shepard's numbers weren't overly impressive last week, but we have to remember that the game was a blowout and essentially over at halftime. Shepard could very easily see double-digit targets this week. Both Antonio Brown ($8,500) and JuJu Smith-Schuster ($8,000) are tempting spend-up options, but I always feel like I'm guessing between the two. Amari Cooper ($7,500) will be popular following his monster outing last week, while he obviously carries upside, it kinda feels like we're chasing points at an inflated price. On the other side of the Dallas/Indy matchup we have T.Y. Hilton, whose $6,800 price tag seems curiously low, considering he has put up a string of solid fantasy outings. He draws a tough matchup and has a questionable tag. Those of you firing Buffalo's Josh Allen up should want to stack him with one or more of Buffalo's WRs. You can mix and match Robert Foster ($4,300), Zay Jones ($4,200), and Isaiah McKenzie ($3,900) however you see fit.

 

TE CHALK: Eric Ebron ($5,900)

Projected DraftKings Ownership: 18%

POWER PIVOT: Evan Engram ($4,100)

Projected DraftKings Ownership: 3%

Man...I wish I could wave my "magic TE wand" and come up with a great off the board play for you here, but TE is ugly this week guys. The four TEs with the most talent and/or best matchups (Kittle, Ebron, Gronk, Cook) have the highest price tags and ownership projections. With lots of uncertainty at every position, this is a week that it makes a lot of sense to pay up at TE, so I won't argue with you for locking in one of the four players I just mentioned.

I don't generally like to recommend injury-dependent plays in this article, but I'm going to make an exception this week and tell you to keep an eye on Odell Beckham Jr's status as we head into the weekend. If OBJ can't go, Evan Engram becomes a very interesting pivot option at the TE spot.

Engram is a talented player that has fought injuries throughout 2018. When he's able to stay on the field, he can produce some explosive plays. Engram has seen a limited workload this season, but over his last three games, he is averaging a massive 21 yards per catch.

The matchup against the Tennessee Titans is a difficult one, but if OBJ is forced to miss his second consecutive week, Engram should easily exceed the five targets he saw in Beckham's absence last week in a blowout against the Redskins.

SATURDAY UPDATE: OBJ's injury impacts yet another position, as his absence solidifies Evan Engram ($4,100) as a legit discount option at the TE spot. This is significant in what's an ugly week at the position. If you have to go dumpster diving, Washington's Vernon Davis will be stepping in for the injured Jordan Reed and is probably your best bet at just $3,200.

 

D/ST CHALK: Baltimore Ravens ($3,000)

Projected DraftKings Ownership: 20%

POWER PIVOT: New York Giants ($2,600)

Projected DraftKings Ownership: 5%

We don't normally see this large of a consensus at the DEF/ST, but Baltimore is currently projected to garner a massive 20% ownership share. The Ravens come in with a reasonable price tag and a great defensive unit, but this presents us with a great opportunity to gain some leverage in large-field tournaments at the highly volatile DEF/ST position.

My first instinct was to target the Washington Redskins, whose QB situation is so bad that Josh Johnson represents an upgrade at the position for them. However, I was disappointed to see the 'Skins opponent, the Jacksonville Jaguars, with an extremely elevated $3,600 price tag. The Jags are still in consideration for me, but I don't believe I'll have the salary to get there this week.

Instead, I'm content to roll with perhaps the hottest fantasy defense in football. The New York Giants have scored a defensive TD in three of their last four games and are averaging 17.5 DK points and five sacks per game over their last two. The Giants draw a very friendly matchup as home favorites against a Titans offense that ranks 27th in the NFL in points per game.

SATURDAY UPDATE: There are several ways we can go at DEF/ST this week. Baltimore is a legit option, but won't gain us any leverage in tournaments. You can fire up the Giants or take a contrarian approach and bet on Chicago's ($2,900) great defense at home against Aaron Rodgers.

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