DRAFT Week 16 Breakdown and Top Plays
How did we get to Week 16 already? Hopefully, all you degenerates have advanced to the finals in your redraft leagues. If not, don’t fret, there’s still plenty of DFS left this season. Each week we’ll get different matchups, and a fresh set of players primed for your lineups.
DRAFT's weekly fantasy contests are not your typical salary cap format. Instead, they offer a series of snake-style draft contests with differing team amounts. You can choose from head-to-head, 3-team, 6-team, 8-team, or 10-team contests, with varying dollar amounts per contest. With each draft, players must select five position players: 1QB, 2RB, and 2WR/TEs. There are no salaries, no ownership percentages, and no large tourneys.
Below, I take a look at some of the best plays of the week, according to league size. You will see multiple references to aFPA, which is our schedule-adjusted fantasy points allowed metric. By using aFPA, we remove bias so that we can level the playing field and compare matchups in an "apples-to-apples" manner. One more note: remember that DRAFT is a snake-style format, so you must plan accordingly in larger contest sizes.
With only two drafters involved, your cumulative score just has to be higher than that of your opponent. Since only 10 players are involved, stick to the elite DFS chalk here.
Cam Newton (CAR) vs. TB
Newton is coming off a banner 31.48 DRAFT-point outing, comprised of 242 passing yards, 4 touchdowns, and another 58 rushing yards. Newton will be looking to protect Carolina’s wild-card spot and gets a home contest against a mediocre Bucs defense ranked 18th in QB aFPA. His arm and mobility are worthy of a high draft spot, as he’s projected to score 19.8 DRAFT points this week.
Russell Wilson (SEA) @ DAL
Last week wasn’t too fun for those who drafted Wilson, but he should be back to form on Sunday against the Cowboys. He’s averaging 23.13 DRAFT points this season and is the highest-projected QB this week on the site.
Kareem Hunt (KC) vs. MIA
After two solid performances of 21.30 and 36.10 DRAFT points, respectively, Hunt is back in the chalk conversation. He faces a weak 29th-ranked Dolphins run defense at home, a place that’s tough for opposing teams on both sides of the ball. Kansas City is currently the fourth seed in the AFC and will be looking to better their position or simply remain playoff bound. The Chiefs rookie RB is DRAFT’s second-highest projected back this week—17.20 points.
LeVeon Bell (PIT) @ HOU
Same chalk RB, different week. Bell is a perennial member of the top projected scorer club regardless of his opponent, and this week’s victim is the Texans. He’s 4for4 John Paulsen’s highest-ranked rusher this week and is a must draft in all contests.
Todd Gurley (LAR) @ TEN
We all know words don’t even need to go here. Gurley will always be on this list as long as he’s healthy and on the football field. He takes an average of 21.91 DRAFT points per game into this week’s tilt with the Titans.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Michael Thomas (NO) vs. ATL
Thomas sits second in targets among WRs over the past three weeks and has averaged 19.33 DRAFT points in that time span. After a seven-game touchdown drought, the Saints wideout has hauled in at least one score in each of his last three games. With an over/under of 53 and an implied team total of 29.25 for New Orleans, I like Thomas’ potential this week.
Keenan Allen (LAC) @NYJ
New York ranks 27th in WR aFPA, allowing for a potential rebound for Allen, who put up a disappointing 7.90 DRAFT points last week against the Chiefs. DRAFT has him at the very top of their projected WR list at 15.3 points. There are only two guys with a higher number of red zone targets this season, so chances are good for us to see what kind of touchdown celebration Allen has this week.
Travis Kelce (KC) vs MIA
Tight end chalk extraordinaire Kelce draws the Dolphins in Week 16, who are ranked 27th when it comes to TE aFPA. He is currently battling an unspecified illness, but there’s no way he’ll sit this week when playoff contention is on the line. If he’s playing, draft him in every contest you can, as he rarely disappoints.
DeAndre Hopkins (HOU) vs. PIT
Despite the train wreck at QB, Hopkins is still producing week after week. He’s the highest targeted WR in the NFL this season and is averaging 17.66 DRAFT points per matchup. The Steelers allow the third-most aFPA to opposing WRs and don’t perform as well on the road as they do at home. Hopkins always has a seat at the DFS chalk table.
When you enter a contest with only three teams, you’re either picking two players at a time, or you’re in the middle of two drafters doing just that. Same studs apply here; draft accordingly.
6, 8 or 10-Person Draft
Below you’ll find a few more recommendations for Week 16 starters to assist in filling out five-player rosters when more players are involved. You’ll need to dig a bit deeper into the rankings to find a player or two who will out-produce the players your opponents draft.
Ben Roethlisberger (PIT) @ HOU
After a mediocre start to the 2017 season, Big Ben has returned to form, posting the most QB fantasy points in the NFL over the last six weeks. He tossed the rock for 1,963 yards and 16 touchdowns in Weeks 10-15 and gets a plus matchup to work with on Christmas Day. The Texans sit dead last in QB aFPA, which allows us to look past the fact Roethlisberger will be without star wideout Antonio Brown.
Blake Bortles (JAX) @ SF
Yes, that Blake Bortles. He is second among QBs in fantasy points over the past three weeks, averaging 22.87 DRAFT points. He’s thrown 7 touchdowns and 903 yards in that same time frame and has worked his way into a dependable fantasy QB. It doesn’t hurt that this week he faces a 49ers defense ranked second-to-last in QB aFPA. San Francisco now has a guy under center who can keep them in the game, meaning more throws for Bortles.
Alex Smith (KC) vs. MIA
Smith has put up an average of 22.77 DRAFT points over his last three contests and gets a soft Dolphins pass defense at home this week. Miami surrendered 23.16 DRAFT points to Tyrod Taylor just last week, and have allowed the 10th-highest aFPA to enemy QBs all season long. Kansas City’s signal-caller is DRAFT’s fourth-highest ranked QB this week and is draftable in any size contest.
Matthew Stafford (DET) @ CIN
We always chase volume when it comes to fantasy output and Stafford’s arm has been very busy this season. The Lions QB has both attempted and completed the fourth-most passes among signal-callers through the first 14 games and sits as the QB10 in total fantasy points on the season. Cincinnati ranks 25th in the league in QB aFPA and won’t be a threat to the Lions’ offensive output on Sunday. Stafford makes a nice later-round grab in larger contests, so you can concentrate on more points from your RBs or WR/TEs in the first few rounds.
Devonta Freeman (ATL) @ NO
If Tevin Coleman is still on the shelf this week, Freeman’s volume will be massive. Games between these two teams are always high scoring, and this one currently has an over/under of 53, the largest on the Week 16 slate. He’s coming off a 27.90 DRAFT-point performance and has been somewhat under the radar this season due to concussion protocol. Freeman should be solid Sunday, so draft away.
Ezekiel Elliott (DAL) vs. SEA
You all saw the photo, Elliott is jacked and ready to run rampant after his six-game suspension for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy. Dallas is in a must-win situation for a playoff berth and is at home against a struggling Seattle run defense. He has a high floor and high ceiling this week and should be drafted in contests with more than two players.
Christian McCaffrey (CAR) vs TB
Freeman dropped 194 combined yards and a score on the Bucs Monday night, and Tampa Bay is playing on a short week in Carolina. McCaffrey ranks first among RBs in targets this season, averaging 7.2 per contest, along with 12.5 touches per outing. He’s freakishly talented and is capable of burning anyone on the field. The rookie makes a great, somewhat contrarian choice to draft this week versus a midgrade Bucs defense.
Alex Collins (BAL) vs. IND
Collins makes sense this week at home against the Colts. Baltimore is favored by nearly two touchdowns in the contest, and Indianapolis has given up back-to-back rushing yards of 190 and 196 in their past two games. He’s the clear RB1 in the Ravens offense, with an average of 18 touches over the past three weeks to Buck Allen’s 10 and Danny Woodhead’s 6.
Dion Lewis (NE) vs. BUF
With Rex Burkhead likely sidelined this week, Lewis should get the bulk of the Patriots' backfield work, but we all know how little we can count on Belichick to be consistent with his RB delegation. Lewis is projected to score 15.2 DRAFT points and is among the top 10 RBs this week in their rankings. Buffalo ranks 31st in the NFL in RB aFPA, so this could be a monster day for Lewis. Or James White, or whichever random RB Belichick has up his sleeve.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Mike Evans (TB) @ CAR
The fantasy community is down on Evans, and this week is a chance to draft him later and get great value from the Bucs WR. Carolina has allowed five different receivers to best 20 fantasy points in their last six contests, which bodes well for Evans’ output on Sunday.
Doug Baldwin (SEA) @ DAL
Seattle is coming off a brutal blowout loss to the Rams and is still in the hunt for a postseason berth. They head to Dallas, where the Seahawks face the 23rd-ranked defense in WR aFPA. QB Russell Wilson will be throwing against Cowboys rookie corner Xavier Rhodes, who is young and green and will be overmatched by Baldwin. He’s a guy you can possibly draft a bit later like Evans, as some drafters will be suffering from recency bias.
Robert Woods (LAR) @ TEN
Woods posted 13.50 DRAFT points in his first game back from a shoulder issue and gets a nice matchup versus the Titans this week. Tennessee ranks 22nd in WR aFPA, and shouldn’t give Jared Goff too much trouble in connecting with Woods. Los Angeles is favored by 6.5 points, with an implied team total of 27.25.
JuJu Smith-Schuster (PIT) @ HOU
With Antonio Brown sitting this one out, Smith-Schuster finds himself in a crucial role in a crucial game for the Steelers. He’s shown flashes of brilliance at times this season and should step up for his offense in Week 16 in Houston. The Texans defense is the worst in the NFL in WR aFPA, giving up a whopping 41.2 PPR points to wideouts weekly. He’s another off the beaten path pick that could work in your favor in larger contests.
Rob Gronkowski (NE) vs. BUF
The guy is a beast and a constant mismatch for opposing defenses. In his last three games, Gronk has averaged 21.73 DRAFT points and just racked up 147 receiving yards against the Bills on December 3rd. This time they play in Foxborough, which should work to the Patriots’ advantage—like they need one. Gronk is projected to score 13.6 DRAFT points this week and is their fifth-highest projected player among WRs and TEs.