Hey, Gurley Man

Safety is the name of the game in cash games, but FantasyDraft also pays out at least 25 percent of the field in every single contest, including tournaments, as well. This should motivate users to lean towards safe options in all formats on a site that puts #PlayersFirst. Without the top-heavy nature of tournaments, single entrants do not have to go with a “YOLO (you only live once)” mindset in tournaments, but can play for a solid cash instead. That makes life a whole lot easier.

Here are the “safe bets,” or players who can be inserted into lineups without fear of a dud, heading into Week 16:

Matt Ryan, Falcons, $13,700 – In what is shaping up to be a strange week, none of the cheaper QB’s matchups stand out. Therefore, spending up for Matt Ryan will assure those rostering him sleep like a baby. While many of the value QBs struggle to reach 20 fantasy points, Ryan will be facing the same Panthers defense he torched for 503 yards and four TDs at home in Week 4. Remember, that was the game where Julio Jones busted out for 300-plus yards and just could absolutely not be stopped by this secondary. The defense has not exactly improved a whole lot since that time considering they still rank middle of the pack against the pass in terms of Football Outsiders’ defense-adjusted value over average (DVOA) metric and they have allowed the 10th most fantasy points to opposing QBs. Hopefully playing in Carolina should alleviate any and all weather concerns so there quite literally should be clear skies ahead for Ryan in this matchup.

Todd Gurley, Rams, $12,300 – What did we learn last week? One of the items covered in the “Weekly Review” article was the fact RBs against the 49ers just cannot be faded. Over the last two weeks alone, Bilal Powell has rushed for 145 yards and two TDs and then Devonta Freeman rumbled, bumbled and stumbled all the way to 139 yards rushing and three TDs (on 7.0 yards per carry). To this point, the 49ers have surrendered 2,170 total rushing yards…the second worst defense is currently sitting at 1,877 rushing yards allowed (Browns). Additionally, the 49ers have allowed a whopping 25 total TDs to RBs through 14 games while the Browns (second worst again) have allowed 19. This 49ers defense is just mincemeat against the position, and although Todd Gurley says his offense has been playing like a “middle school offense,” a 14 year old would probably rush for 90 and a TD against this team. Thus far, Gurley has not played up to the level most expected this season, but if there ever were a matchup that could catapult him back to playing like an All-Pro, this would be it.

Jordan Howard, $12,000 – With Alshon Jeffery back in action, the Bears passing attack actually looked formidable last week. Amazingly, three Bears WRs finished in the top seven on fantasy scoring on the Sunday only slate. If the team can establish a respectable passing game once again, it will help complement Jordan Howard who continues to flirt with true RB1 status. Since Oct. 20, Howard has touched the ball at least 15 times in seven consecutive games and has not sunk below double-digit fantasy points. Only three backs who have attempted at least 100 rushes have gained more yards per carry than Howard: LeSean McCoy, Mark Ingram and Ezekiel Elliott (in that order). This week, the Bears will square off against a Redskins defense that ranks 27th in DVOA against the run and has now given up 15 rushing TDs to opposing RBs after Mike Tolbert scored on Monday Night Football. If spending up at QB, paying for multiple backs as well is difficult, so Howard makes roster construction work.

Antonio Brown, Steelers, $15,400 – If focusing on a Steelers play, most have rightfully focused on Le’Veon Bell for at least the past few weeks because of his insane workload combined with his elite skills which has led to five 26-plus fantasy point outputs over the course of the last six weeks. Finally, it is time for Antonio Brown to reintroduce himself to the fantasy world as a true superstar. The Steelers’ opponent, the Ravens, rank first in rushing DVOA and third against opposing TEs. Meanwhile, their weakness is against opposing number one WRs as they rank 15th in DVOA against the position. Ben Roethlisberger’s home/away splits are substantial but he still managed to feed Brown in the team’s only meeting this year (in Baltimore). Brown caught 7-11 targets in that game for 85 yards and a TD. Since that game, four of his last six games have come on the road. At home this year, Brown has only failed to reach 17 fantasy points once and that came all the way back in Week 3 against the Bengals; he was targeted 11 times in that game but only hauled in four passes. Since Brown has not been nearly as dominant as per usual as of late, his price has slipped all the way to sub-$15,500 levels. By comparison, Le’Veon Bell ($17,700), David Johnson ($17,300), LeSean McCoy ($17,000) and Mike Evans ($16,000) all cost more. When Brown is right, there is absolutely no one better in the game, so this price tag an absolutely be considered a bargain for his otherworldly skill set. With a vintage Brown performance likely on the horizon, fantasy owners will not want to miss out.

Jordan Reed, Redskins, $10,400 – Okay so Jordan Reed and safety are not exactly synonymous especially considering he was battling through injury on Monday Night Football before he punched a guy and was ejected. Furthermore, paying for the highest priced TE is not exactly a contrarian play but the matchup against the Bears is low key excellent. Although the Bears have allowed the ninth fewest fantasy points per game (FPPG) to opposing TEs, they rank 27th in DVOA against the position and have allowed two TDs to TEs over the past month. Assuming Reed is able to practice this week and is deemed healthy enough to play, he should be due for a bounceback (even with Jerell Freeman activated from the suspended list). If he is not able to suit up, Vernon Davis makes for an easy pivot.

Ricky Sanders

Ricky Sanders

Ricky Sanders is a fantasy sports expert with over 15 years of playing experience. After starting several freelance fantasy sports blogs, Ricky moved up in the fantasy industry when he joined Going9 Baseball. He wrote fantasy baseball content and had a weekly radio spot on the site’s SiriusXM Satellite Radio show. Shortly thereafter, in early 2013, Ricky joined RotoExperts as a three-sport fantasy contributor, eventually becoming one of the site’s lead basketball writers. While writing for RotoExperts, Ricky was introduced to daily fantasy sports and immediately fell in love. With help from some of his mentors, some of the best DFS players in the world, he honed his skills and became the daily fantasy expert he is today. When RotoExperts created a daily-focused website called DailyRoto.com, Ricky was brought on as one of the main contributors. He still makes frequent appearances on the RotoExperts SiriusXM Radio show and on the FNTSY Sports Television Network, talking daily fantasy sports. He also continues to write for a few DFS content sites: RotoCurve and The Fantasy Fix. Ricky is a proud and active member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. He has agreed to be a writer and representative for the FantasyDraft brand and serves as an ambassador to the site. He has no more access to the site than the typical user. Don’t hesitate to contact Ricky with questions on Twitter @RSandersDFS.

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