Here are some of Fantasy Expert Ricky Sanders’ DFS-relevant observations from Week 15 of the 2016 NFL season:
Drew Brees, Saints – Although home/road splits may affect the average outcome of a player’s score in a certain location, it does not mean the guy cannot produce under those circumstances. For instance, Drew Brees had produced a 91.7 QB rating on the road this season compared to 108.6 at home after producing similar splits (87.7 on the road, 112.5 at home) last year. Out of Brees’ seven 300-plus yard, three-plus TD performances heading into this week, only two of them have come away from the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Once again, Brees proved that great QBs can produce anywhere and overanalyzing numbers (namely splits) can put sharp players at a disadvantage. Sure Brees may have been easy to overlook in cash games but he should have firmly been on the radar in tournaments at a two-percent ownership. Sometimes talent supersedes matchup and even Vegas (the Saints implied total fell prior to kickoff) and Brees was an elite talent playing in a game possessing the third highest over/under of the slate. Implicit biases can cause daily fantasy owners, such as myself, to overlook solid spots for players. The Cardinals had allowed the 13th most fantasy points to opposing QBs over the last month heading into this game. A “what have you done for me lately?” mindset is more beneficial at this point than looking at the overall sample size for defenses. The moral of the story is Brees fell under the wayside and he should not have.
Derrick Henry, Titans – After gaining 60 yards (and finding the end zone) on just 14 snaps in Week 12 and gaining 47 total yards on 18 snaps last week, Derrick Henry scored twice and finished as RB12 on the Sunday only slate. Amazingly, he only touched the ball nine times (all rushes) and still did all sorts of damage in terms of fantasy. Henry is emerging as Mike Gillislee part two, meaning he plays very little but earns some very meaningful carries (red zone). Over the course of the last four weeks, Henry has earned the exact same percentage of his respective team’s red zone carries as both LeGarrette Blount and Ryan Mathews (33.3-percent). With everyone focused on the starters, there is still some value to change of pace backs at bargain costs in DFS. Last week, Tevin Coleman scored twice and Henry did the same this week and there is always the added benefit of them surprising the world and garnering additional carries if the starter were to get injured or benched mid-game. While it takes some serious guts, rostering these players is a high upside play considering Henry ended up zero-percent owned (and backs of this sort almost always are).
Devonta Freeman, Falcons – Speaking of Coleman, I wrote earlier this week that rostering him this week would be the equivalent of playing “yesterday fantasy sports” in not so many words. Devonta Freeman only touched the ball eight times last week but Coleman only touched the rock 10 times…and Freeman had been averaging 15.5 carries per game over his last two games beforehand. During that span, he scored four TDs and manned his typical role: the team’s workhorse. In essence, playing Freeman this week over Coleman was the sharp play and he delivered against by far the league’s worst rushing defense. Essentially, all RBs are firmly in play against this defense and it was amazing that over 80-percent of people overlooked a great back in this matchup this week. Hell, even Bilal Powell rushed for 145 yards and two TDs against the 49ers last week and that was after Jordan Howard scored thrice on them in Week 12. No team has allowed more rushing yards nor total TDs to the RB position so it is time to stop fading backs against them plain and simple. The package of Le’Veon Bell and David Johnson costed owners a pretty penny this week so Freeman became an afterthought but let this be the last time. Backs versus the 49ers are free money so take it when you can get it.
Ty Montgomery, Packers – Certain trends are worth overlooking but I really thought long and hard about the Ty Montgomery fade today….not based off of numbers but rather based off of science. According to a Virginia Commonwealth University study, those suffering from sickle cell trait are at risk in extremely cold temperatures and the weather was -12 degrees in Chicago on Sunday. Montgomery has been dealing with ongoing complications from his sickle cell diagnosis and there is “laboratory evidence that more red blood cells undergo sickling with temperature changes.” In other words, playing was truly a risk for Montgomery’s health in the long run and should not have been encouraged. Prior to lock, I did a lot of back-and-forth on this and decided to go in other directions only for him to end up going off, proving once again the NFL does not care about player safety. Was I wrong this time? Absolutely, but would I make the same decision in the future knowing a player is suffering from the exact same illness, hoping the team will do the right thing? Once again: absolutely.
Charles Clay, Bills – Heading into a tilt against the lowly Brown, Charles Clay had been held scoreless for the entirety of the 2016 regular season after finding the end zone three times in 2015. A secondary target in an offense led by a QB who has completed the third fewest passes amongst starters (min. 14 games played) cannot be relied upon on a regular basis but this certainly was a pleasant surprise. Despite finishing as TE1 on the slate, Clay only tied for his season-high in targets but he caught 100-percent of his targets for only the second time this year. This was the first time he had been targeted seven-plus times since Nov. 20 and the only time all year he surpassed five receptions. In theory, Clay should prove to be a solid option for Tyrod Taylor in the red zone but Clay has only been targeted inside the 10 yard line twice and inside the five yard line once heading into the matchup against the Browns (and his TD this week was of the 19 yard variety). Unfortunately, Clay is nothing more than a flash in the pan so do not go overreacting due to one big week.