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Daily Fantasy Football Week 16: DraftDay Value Plays

Injuries have taken their toll and coaches with nothing to win or lose are shutting down players, opening mind-blowing paths to value for daily gamers who understand that some guys don’t have their increased opportunity baked into their daily salary.

Jason Campbell, daily fantasy football
Jason Campbell, daily fantasy football

Dec 15, 2013; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Jason Campbell (17) throws a pass during the second quarter against the Chicago Bears at FirstEnergy Stadium. Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Think of Weeks 16 and 17 as end-of-year savings time for daily fantasy football.

Injuries have taken their toll and coaches with nothing to win or lose are shutting down players, opening mind-blowing paths to value for daily gamers who understand that some guys don’t have their increased opportunity baked into their daily salary.

This was all glaringly obvious last week, as DraftDay’s best lineups had backup running backs Jordan Todman and Matt Asiata, both available for the absolute minimum price. Saving so much lineup salary allowed gamers to insert fantasy’s nuclear options like Calvin Johnson, Josh Gordon, and the most nuclear of them all, Jamaal Charles.

Week 16 and 17 lineups should be built with unaccounted opportunity spikes in mind, especially when you’re piecing together a swing-for-the-fences tournament lineup.

My value picks fared OK in Week 15, with Pierre Thomas overcoming a game flow disaster against the Rams to post 16 points on DraftDay, Alex Smith lighting the Raiders’ secondary aflame for 41 points, and Kendall Wright piling up 27 mostly garbage time points against the Cardinals. Every one of those guys saw dramatic Week 15 salary cuts.

Let’s take a look at Week 16’s DraftDay salary shifts.

Player Opponent Salary change
Jason Campbell New York Jets -$2,500
Matt Ryan San Francisco 49ers -$2,150
Joe Flacco New England Patriots -$750
  • Campbell’s salary has plummeted at just the right time for value hunters. The Jets’ Swiss cheese secondary has given up more than 250 passing yards in six of its last seven contests. Gang Green, ranked 19th in schedule-adjusted fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks, is stout against the run, leaving the Browns no choice but to chuck it come Sunday. It’s almost guaranteed that Campbell will throw 40 passes against New York, and many of them will go to the game’s second best receiver. Campbell has a ceiling of 22.7 points, according to the rotoViz GLSP app.
  • I cannot conceive of a worse play than Matt Ryan this week. Ryan managed just 10 points last week against the dumpster fire Washington defense. If you’re deploying Ryan, I think you’re banking on at least a full quarter of unadulterated garbage time.
Player Opponent Salary change
C.J. Spiller Miami Dolphins -$1,500
Andre Brown Detroit Lions -$1,850
Knowshon Moreno Houston Texans -$1,050
  • Spiller, for the second straight week, was a shoelace tackle away from breaking off a lengthy touchdown run against the Jaguars. Instead, he posted another middling stat line. Buffalo is sure to be as run heavy as ever in Week 16, with Thad Lewis set to start for an injured EJ Manuel. Spiller, DraftDay’s 24th highest priced back, is always a fine high-variance tournament play. The GLSP app puts his fantasy ceiling at 17.7 points against Miami.
  • The days of paying top dollar for Peyton Manning’s backfield partner are long gone. Moreno is now DraftDay’s 14th most expensive running back after a three-week salary drop. It makes sense: After Moreno’s Herculean 37-carry effort against New England three weeks ago, he’s averaged 12.3 carries per game. I don’t think we should underestimate how bad Houston’s defense can be, however, and how easily Manning might be able to manipulate a team that gave up in November. GLSP projects Moreno for a median score of 18.4 points against a Texans defense allowing 22.4 points to runners. That’s hefty.
Player Opponent Salary change
Eric Decker Houston Texans -$2,250
Brian Hartline Buffalo Bills -$1,800
Andre Johnson Denver Broncos -$1,400
  • There are now 21 receivers priced higher than Decker, an unthinkable development as recently as early November. Any Peyton pas catcher is a constant threat to post a giant line, though Decker’s production has been something close to spastic in 2013. Houston allows 32.9 schedule-adjusted points to wide receivers and Decker has a ceiling of 21.9 points. I think he’s a clear value play.
  • Case Keenum’s thumb injury is a boon for Johnson, who gets Matt Schaub under center this week against Denver. Schaub doesn’t look to the big-bodied pass catcher in the red zone as much as Keenum does, but Schaub is more likely to force feed Johnson the pigskin in a game that should be one of Week 16’s highest scoring affairs. Only eight teams give up more fantasy points to wide receivers than the Broncos.
Player Opponent Salary change
Charles Clay Buffalo Bills -$1,650
Jordan Cameron New York Jets -$1,550
  • Cameron could miss Week 16’s game altogether with a concussion reported at Wednesday’s practice. It’s too bad: Gang Green gives up a whopping 16.3 adjusted fantasy points to tight ends. Only the Cardinals are worse.
  • Clay laid a proverbial egg in a tasty matchup against New England, dropping his DraftDay salary by $1,650. There are now 12 tight ends priced higher than Ryan Tannehill’s security blanket. Clay, much more valuable in PPR formats than standard, has a median GLSP projection of 12.7 points against the Bills. He’s not quite an overwhelming value, but a value nonetheless.
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