BY SKEETER ROBINSON
Special to PressBox 790 Sports
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone. I am writing this article on Christmas Eve, so if any news breaks on Friday that affects someone I wrote about on here, it will not be reflected. You can always tweet me (@skeeterrobinson) if you have questions.
I had my two lineups set on Sunday last week, since I was going to go celebrate Christmas with my dad after my Sunday morning radio show. I wanted everything ready to go and not have to make any changes. This was a mistake in hindsight, as the news that Ezekiel Elliott was out, leaving Tony Pollard as a feature back at 5,300 should have been a change I made to either one or both of my lineups. It was a friendly reminder that while we can have a set lineup strategy, we should be ready to make changes if the information tells us to do so. If you play NBA DFS, you should be used to this since there is sometimes a player scratch 10 minutes before the lineups lock. It is also something we need to be ready for this week and next week, as teams will have different objectives and may rest players who are Questionable. This will mainly apply to the teams eliminated from playoff contention or that have their playoff status locked up. So, go into Sunday with an idea of what your lineup should look like. If information changes that necessitate a change, make it and make sure you are ready to come up with alternatives in the case we get another surprise scratch.
Saturday 3-Game Slate: The Sunday Night Showdown slate is not posted as I write this. So, I will give you a few plays for the Saturday games. The 5k running backs are where you should go with Myles Gaskin (5,300) expected to be back and see most touches against the Raiders’ weak run defense. Speaking of weak run defenses, the Lions are on this slate and no Ronald Jones again means Leonard Fournette (5,500) should build upon last week’s strong game. If Chase Edmonds misses, Kenyan Drake (5,200) will see at least 80-85% of the snaps against the 49ers run defense that got gashed by Tony Pollard last week. Lastly, Jeff Wilson Jr. (5,000) will see the most touches with no Raheem Mostert. Besides the Running Backs, DeAndre Hopkins (8,500) is really the only consistent big fantasy game producer in these three games, so I want him in my lineups. Your punt option is likely Lynn Bowden (3,900) who has seen 15 targets the past two weeks. He also gets a rare thing for a rookie: A Revenge Game! He was drafted by the Raiders back in the spring and was traded to the Dolphins before the season started.
Sunday Main Slate
Quarterbacks: You can use Mahomes or Jackson in cash games, but too expensive for me in tournaments. Instead, I will consider paying down for Justin Herbert (7,400) against a Broncos secondary that has so many missing pieces, that they are down to rookies and a cornerback released earlier this season from the Jets. Jalen Hurts (7,000) has had a nice introduction to the league, with a high floor due to his rushing ability. A matchup against Dallas should lead to more solid production for Hurts, in what may turn to be a high-scoring game. I know he has not been good in recent weeks, but Ben Roethlisberger (6,400) is still following trends of the past years: he is much better at home than on the road, usually by 4-5 points. It is risky but I like taking Ben at home if I am going to use him in DFS. Finally, Matt Ryan (5,800) should be throwing a lot against the Chiefs. I can not find a pattern of when he puts up big games or duds, so it is a low-floor, high-ceiling type of play. But a pass-heavy offense in a game where they will have to score a lot of points, I do not hate using Ryan in tournaments.
Running Backs: I cannot say I ever thought I would be leading off this section with David Montgomery (7,700). However, he has put up 27+ points in each of his past four games, and Jacksonville is not a defense that should limit him. Keenan Allen may not play, and Hunter Henry is on the COVID19/Reserve list. This may mean a lot of touches are coming for Austin Ekeler (7,600) against the Broncos. If Antonio Gibson (6,600) is not on the injury list and not on a snap count, he draws a great matchup against Carolina, as they struggle against the run and Washington probably does not want to throw much with Dwayne Haskins at QB. With Clyde Edwards-Helaire unlikely to play, Le’Veon Bell (5,800) comes into play in a nice matchup against the Falcons. However, the Chiefs running backs have not been must-use this year (and Darrel Williams at 4,200 will likely see 25-30% of the snaps, making him a punt option), meaning you do not have to use Bell. After seeing 24% of the snaps in Week 14, Gio Bernard (4,800) saw 68% against the Steelers on Monday Night. He draws everyone’s favorite awful run defense: The Houston Texans. Finally, the Falcons announced that Ito Smith (4,000) will be the lead runner for the final two games. Smith saw nearly half of the snaps last week so if he sees a few more than that, it is a lot of snap and touches potential at a minimum price, in what should be a game where the Falcons try to run to keep Mahomes and company off the field.
Wide Receivers: Like QB, I am not paying up for any of the top 3 players at the position, though Calvin Ridley (8,500) would be the player I would pay up for if I had to, considering it looks like Julio Jones will miss. If you like a revenge game narrative and think the bubble is going to burst on David Montgomery, Allen Robinson (7,700) is in a great spot against the team that drafted him in the Jaguars. If Keenan Allen (7,500) is active and not limited, he should feast on this inexperienced Broncos secondary. If he misses, Mike Williams (4,500) would be in a great spot and has enough upside that he could win you a tournament. If you think the Rams will bounce back this week after losing to the Jets (how did that happen), Robert Woods (7,000) is the Rams receiver I would look at. Jarvis Landry (6,900) gets the porous Jets’ pass defense and is Baker Mayfield’s favorite target. He may be a better play in cash games than tournaments. Diontae Johnson (6,300) is still way too cheap for someone seeing 10+ targets a game. Like Ben Roethlisberger, Amari Cooper (5,700) has shown some extreme home/road splits in his career (much more favorable at home) and after only seeing three targets last week, I think Dallas will look to get him more involved against the Eagles this week. If Tyreek Hill misses Sunday’s game, and I do not think he will, Sammy Watkins (5,000) would be a great value against the Falcons as the primary receiver for Kansas City.
Tight Ends: It is a week where I think I may not be paying up at the other positions, so I may try to get Travis Kelce (8,500) in my lineups if I have the money. Atlanta also struggles against the TE position, so Kelce is always in play. But it is also a week that I think there are some values. The Eagles Tight Ends of Dallas Goedert (3,600) and Zach Ertz (3,100) saw a combined 15 targets last week. Good luck figuring out who the Eagles receiving option will be but with a rookie QB and a matchup against the bad Cowboys defense, taking either one as a salary saver makes sense. I prefer Goedert of the two. Austin Hooper (3,500) scored last week and the Jets are not good against the tight end either. He gives you access to the Browns at a cheap price. If you want to punt the position, which is rarely a bad idea, Donald Parham (2,500) will start for the Chargers if Hunter Henry, who was placed on the COVID19/Reserve list on Thursday, is not back in time. I think you have noticed throughout the article that I want to pick on this Denver secondary so a minimum priced TE is looking good to me.