The weeks are winding down in the 2021 NFL season, giving us fewer slates to play in NFL DFS. Whether you are playing for that one shot at life-altering money or you are hoping to make somewhat of a consistent profit every week, the ultimate goal is to just have fun. If you’re not having fun playing NFL DFS, then maybe it’s time for you to pick up another hobby. And with it being the weekend of Christmas, this is the time of year where you should spend time with family/friends and be thankful for everything you have.
With COVID-19 being an obstacle we have to maneuver in sports again, it’s vital to pay attention to news throughout the week. Come time on Sunday, if you are someone that has monitored the news around the league, you already have an advantage over some of the people you’ll be playing against. While more news could emerge over the weekend, here are my favorite stacks and bring-backs for DraftKings’ Week 16 main slate.
LAR: Matthew Stafford ($6,700), Cooper Kupp ($9,100), Van Jefferson Jr. ($5,500), Odell Beckham Jr. ($5,300), Tyler Higbee ($3,800)
I had the Los Angeles Rams listed as my favorite stack in Week 15, only for them to have their game postponed to Tuesday. This time around, it appears the Rams will play on Sunday, and I’m going right back to them in Week 16 versus the Minnesota Vikings. Los Angeles owns the third-highest projected total on the main slate and with Minnesota’s defense allowing the fifth-most points per game to quarterbacks on DraftKings, Matthew Stafford is underpriced at $6,700. What more needs to be said about Cooper Kupp at this point? If you’re someone that has Kupp in fantasy football, it’s likely that you’re still alive in the playoffs. The good news for Kupp, Van Jefferson Jr., and Odell Beckham Jr. is the fact that they get to play a Vikings defense that surrenders the most points per game to wide receivers on DraftKings. Tyler Higbee remains on the reserve/COVID-19 list, but if he’s activated in time for Sunday, he is a decent cheap tight end to use. And if he’s inactive, then I’d refrain from using any of the backup tight ends on the Rams.
Bring-back options: Justin Jefferson ($8,100), Adam Thielen ($6,900), Alexander Mattison ($6,800), Tyler Conklin ($3,900)
At the time this article was being written, Dalvin Cook was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list. With reports suggesting that Cook is unvaccinated, there’s a good chance he’s inactive on Sunday, making Alexander Mattison the running back to target on the Vikings in what is expected to be the highest-scoring game of the weekend. Justin Jefferson is an alpha for the Vikings, regardless of whether or not Adam Thielen returns in Week 16. Jefferson hasn’t seen fewer than nine targets in the past six games and he’s scored five touchdowns in that span. Thielen has been limited in practice, but there’s an expectation of him to play for the first time since Week 13. If Thielen is unable to suit up on Sunday, then K.J. Osborn ($4,800) becomes a nice value play at the wide receiver position. Tyler Conklin has gotten only five targets in the past two weeks, so he may be reliant on touchdowns like most tight ends due to his lack of consistent volume.
CIN: Joe Burrow ($5,900), Ja’Marr Chase ($7,100), Tee Higgins ($6,200), Tyler Boyd ($5,100), C.J. Uzomah ($3,000)
I mentioned above that Stafford was underpriced at $6,700, but Joe Burrow is severely mispriced at $5,900. This is the cheapest that Burrow has been since Week 4 against the Jacksonville Jaguars, where he scored 25.3 points on DraftKings. Burrow has posted two 20+ point outings in the past three weeks and he’s eclipsed 20 points in seven games this season, so I’m not sure why he’s being priced down. The Cincinnati Bengals will square off against a Baltimore Ravens team that is without quite a few of their defensive backs, including Marlon Humphrey. Following a dismal one-reception, four-yard performance in Week 15, I expect Ja’Marr Chase to bounce back in a big way in Week 16. Tee Higgins has been seeing a consistent role all season and he’s finding the end zone more often. Tyler Boyd has been up-and-down all year due to the explosiveness that Chase and Higgins bring to the offense. You could do a lot worse than C.J. Uzomah at tight end if you're looking to save some salary. The Ravens give up the sixth-most points per game to tight ends on DraftKings, so the matchup is a favorable one for Uzomah.
Bring-back options: Mark Andrews ($7,000), Marquise Brown ($5,800), Devonta Freeman ($5,300), Rashod Bateman ($4,500)
Some people were wary of playing members of the Ravens in Week 15 due to Lamar Jackson being out. While Baltimore was unable to escape with a win over the Green Bay Packers, a ton of winning lineups on DraftKings included the stack of Tyler Huntley and Mark Andrews. Whether it’s Jackson or Huntley starting, paying up for tight end is always one way to be different than most of the field, so Andrews is viable again this week. Marquise Brown saw nice volume in Week 15 as he caught 10 of his 14 targets for 43 yards. Even though he didn’t have an explosive play, it’s positive to see the usage he’s still getting in Baltimore’s offense and he’s sub $6,000 now. Devonta Freeman appears to be the clear No. 1 running back for the Ravens despite him seeing fewer carries than Latavius Murray last week. Freeman is the more explosive option and his usage in the passing game makes him the better play. If you’re looking to get more different with a Ravens secondary stack, then Rashod Bateman is one way to get different as he’s seen his role fluctuate in recent weeks.
TB: Tom Brady ($7,400), Mike Evans ($7,000), Rob Gronkowski ($6,200), Ronald Jones ($5,100), Antonio Brown ($4,900), Tyler Johnson ($3,900)
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers took quite the beating by the New Orleans Saints in Week 15. The Saints seem to be Brady’s kryptonite in the past two years as he’s been unable to beat them in their four meetings. During last week’s shutout loss to New Orleans, Tampa Bay sustained injuries to Chris Godwin, Mike Evans, and Leonard Fournette. Godwin has sadly been ruled out for the season while Evans and Fournette are in jeopardy of missing time. I listed Evans in case he’s able to make enough progress to play on Sunday. Regardless of Evans’ status, Antonio Brown appears to be a smash play at his salary in the event that he does make his return this week. Ronald Jones is expected to handle the majority of the workload in the backfield as Fournette and Giovani Bernard are dealing with injuries. Tyler Johnson should see the field more with Godwin and/or Evans being out for the Buccaneers. Similar to most stacks, one way to be different than others is to insert Rob Gronkowski as he could see his role increase amid the injuries that have taken place in the offense. I believe we get an extra-motivated Brady after the Buccaneers failed to score a single point in Week 15. If you really want to differentiate your Tampa Bay stacks, then Scotty Miller could be a nice dart throw in tournaments with all of the injuries at wide receiver.
Bring-back options: D.J. Moore ($5,700), Chuba Hubbard ($5,400), Robby Anderson ($4,900), Ameer Abdullah ($4,500)
It’s tough to get excited about anyone on the Carolina Panthers, especially with the uncertainty surrounding the quarterback position. Matt Rhule announced that Cam Newton will start on Sunday, but Sam Darnold will have some sort of a role. It remains to be seen what Rhule’s plans are at quarterback, even though it probably won’t matter much against a Tampa Bay defense that is getting healthier every week. D.J. Moore is already being listed as a game-time decision for Sunday, which isn’t a positive sight for the Panthers. Moore would be my choice among the available options, but Robby Anderson could see more usage if Moore is ruled out. Chuba Hubbard has handled the majority of the rushing attempts sans Christian McCaffrey, however, the Buccaneers possess a pass-funneling defense. My favorite way to get different when using a bring-back from the Panthers is to use Ameer Abdullah, who has emerged as the receiving back for Carolina. Abdullah caught four passes for 48 yards and a touchdown in Week 15 and gets a Tampa Bay defense that has given up the second-most receptions per game to running backs this season.
LAC: Justin Herbert ($7,200), Austin Ekeler ($8,100), Keenan Allen ($7,700), Mike Williams ($6,100), Jared Cook ($3,500)
Justin Herbert has been on quite the tear in his last five games, posting 24+ points in each of them. The second-year standout quarterback has thrown multiple touchdowns in seven of his last eight games and he’s achieved the 300+ yard bonus on DraftKings in four of those eight games. Austin Ekeler has been placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list, so there’s a chance we see Justin Jackson ($4,200) and Joshua Kelley ($4,000) share the backfield against a Houston Texans defense that gives up the sixth-most points per game to running backs on DraftKings. Keenan Allen possesses the highest floor of any wide receiver on the Chargers and he’s beginning to find the end zone more recently, giving him a higher ceiling. Mike Williams is capable of scoring in bunches with big plays, but you understand the risk of playing him every week. Jared Cook continues to operate as the No. 1 tight end for Los Angeles, but we’ve seen multiple tight ends utilized in the offense throughout the season. Seeing that the Chargers boast the highest projected total of any team this week, it’d be wise to have multiple pieces from this game on Sunday.
Bring-back options: Brandin Cooks ($6,300), Rex Burkhead ($4,500), Nico Collins ($3,400), Brevin Jordan ($2,500)
I’d completely understand if you’re someone that avoids using a bring-back from the Texans when stacking the Chargers. Brandin Cooks — who has been the only viable skill player to use from Houston — is on the reserve/COVID-19 list, so his status for Sunday is up in the air. Nico Collins would become a solid value play if Cooks is inactive and Brevin Jordan could see an expanded role in the passing game. Jordan didn’t play in Week 15 despite being active, but a hand injury likely prevented him from logging a snap. The Chargers allow the second-most points per game to tight ends, so Jordan could be a remarkable value play at tight end. It’s never fun using a running back from the Texans, but if I had to choose one of them, Rex Burkhead would likely be the choice, especially with David Johnson dealing with an injury. Royce Freeman could steal some touches in the backfield, so I’d be cautious with being overweight on Burkhead despite the Chargers having an abysmal run defense.
DET: Jared Goff ($5,400), D’Andre Swift ($6,300), Amon-Ra St. Brown ($5,600), Josh Reynolds ($4,600)
I tend to list at least one stack that could go under the radar and I believe the Detroit Lions fit that description. Jared Goff is currently on the reserve/COVID-19 list, so you can swap this stack in favor of the Atlanta Falcons if Goff is unable to play. D’Andre Swift returned to practice for the first time since Thanksgiving this week, which is a good sign for his status in Week 16. Swift would likely share touches with Jamaal Williams and Craig Reynolds, but he’s likely the favored receiving back upon his return. Amon-Ra St. Brown has emerged as a nice future piece for the Lions as he’s combined for 63.6 points on DraftKings in the past three weeks. Josh Reynolds is a vertical threat in the offense and has decent touchdown upside. The Falcons allow the second-most points per game to quarterbacks, the seventh-most points per game to running backs, and the fourth-most points to wide receivers, so the matchup is a fantastic one for the Lions. I have a feeling either Goff or Matt Ryan could be a low-owned quarterback that takes down a tournament this week.
Bring-back options: Cordarrelle Patterson ($6,700), Russell Gage ($5,900), Kyle Pitts ($5,800), Mike Davis ($4,900)
While the Falcons are not a good football team, neither are the Lions. This is going to be a game between two awful teams and we could get more scoring than expected because of it. Cordarrelle Patterson is the lead back for the Falcons still, but his lack of usage in the passing game in recent weeks is slightly concerning. That being said, Detroit’s defense gives up the fourth-most points per game to running backs, so it may not matter this week. Russell Gage continues to be a preferred target for Ryan as he’s scored 18+ points in three out of the past four weeks. Kyle Pitts is seeing decent volume (no fewer than five targets in all but one game this season) and his lone touchdown came in Week 5, so this is a perfect week to get his second touchdown. One way to get a bit different than others is to use Mike Davis, who could see more touches in a game where the Falcons may elect to pound the ball more often against the No. 29 ranked defense in rush DVOA.