Players to Fade on FanDuel: Week 16
Happy Holidays and welcome to another edition of Players to Fade on FanDuel. This is the penultimate week of the NFL regular season as we have a dozen games awaiting us on the main slate. DFS is harder than ever these days, but there is still an edge to be had. It’s necessary to not only narrow it down to the best plays but also be aware of who to avoid on a week-to-week basis. I’ll do my best to identify some players that could end up being landmines that sink our FanDuel lineups. Whether overpriced or in a bad spot, here’s a list of who I’m avoiding in Week 16.
Jared Goff (STL): $8,000 @ ARI
Goff has been struggling quite a bit recently over the last three weeks, barely averaging a meager 8.1 FanDuel points per game. The absence of Cooper Kupp appears to be more significant than we all thought. The matchup on the road against Arizona is not as good as you’d initially think, in spite of being 14-point road favorites. I think the Rams will take a run-heavy approach in this game, regardless if Todd Gurley (Questionable – knee) suits up or not. The Cardinals are easily beat on the ground and offensive whiz Sean McVay is going to exploit that with whoever gets the carries for the Rams. The last time these two teams met, Gurley punched in three rushing scores while Goff put up 19.36 FanDuel points. Goff needs to do significantly better than that to pay off his salary but these divisional rematches always seem to be lower-scoring than the first encounter, so buyer beware.
Saquon Barkley (NYG): $9,000 @ IND
This isn’t a result or reaction of Barkley being stymied last week against the Titans. This is a purely matchup-based fade as Indianapolis has yet to allow a 100-yard rusher in 2018…and we’re in Week 16. That’s ridiculously impressive, just like their Defensive Rookie of the Year candidate Darius Leonard who is fueling the much-improved unit. The Colts fifth-ranked DVOA run defense is allowing the sixth fewest yards per carry in the NFL coming into this game, so if the Offensive Rookie of the Year candidate is going to have success, it will need to come in the form of one of his massive receiving yardage games as room to run could come at a premium. I respect his ability enough, and we’ve seen him do this before, but now as the price has stayed high we have to be careful not to get sucked in to using him when there are better plays in his price range. The Colts do give up a lot of production to pass-catching RBs, so it’s not that bad of a spot. Sure, you can use him in tournaments, he’s very affordable on DraftKings this week, but I’m not touching him in cash games on FanDuel on the road as a nine-point underdog against a surging Colts team that needs this win badly.
Jaylen Samuels (PIT): $6,700
Samuels had the first ever 100-yard rushing performance of his entire life last week. That’s correct, his first ever, at any level of organized football. On the surface, that statement seems hard to believe, but he’s always been a receiving split-end or H-back type in lower levels of football including college. The Steelers go on the road where their offense has struggled at times. Even in New Orleans, in a very fantasy-friendly stadium, they face an elite Saints run defense. The matchup is one of the worst you can get, if not THE worst. The Saints come into Week 16 as the third-ranked DVOA run defense, also second best in the NFL in yards per carry allowed. As his price has inflated quickly, Samuels is no longer the value play he once was. He does offer some upside in the pass game as a talented receiver, but that’s not as valuable on a half-point PPR site like FanDuel. This game will be popular because of the projected point total, and the rookie is one of the most affordable pieces of it, but I think fading Samuels is the play in all formats.
Any Patriots RB
Well, Bill Belichick is at it again, playing the hot hand or playing the matchups as he likes to say. This means headaches for fantasy purposes with Rex Burkhead ($5,000) activated from IR and Sony Michel ($6,800) looking like he’s fully healthy while James White ($6,500) maintains a strict passing-down role. Lest we forget the recent goalline usage of FB James Develin ($4,800) and his three touchdowns worth of vulture work in the last two games. Even with Cordarelle Patterson being put back into a special teams role, there are simply too many cooks in the New England kitchen. The Josh Gordon news will likely give a slight bump to the Pats running game, but that still doesn’t help out a whole lot with this RB logjam. If you force me to pick one, Sony Michel as a tournament flyer is passable, but you must absolutely temper expectations among the crowded backfield.
Robert Woods (LAR): $7,500 @ ARI
If I don’t like Jarred Goff, chances are I’m souring on one of his main passing targets as well. That’s the case here with Woods as he’s likely to draw the coverage of Patrick Peterson for most of the game. He was held to just 11.1 FanDuel points the last time these teams met, while fellow WR Brandin Cooks torched the Arizona secondary for a 7-for-159 finish. I don’t think Cooks has as good of a game either, but at just $100 difference, both of these guys will need to get you at least 21 FanDuel points to pay off their respective salaries, and that’s just not something I think either of them will do this time around. I already mentioned the expected run-heavy approach, so it’ll be interesting to see how L.A. schemes this game up against a team that has no motivation to win. Also, a bit of a format change this week as I’m only throwing out one more WR as this position has been a tough one for me over the course of this season. I’ve recommended fading so many wideouts that have actually put up solid performances, I genuinely feel bad. I suppose you could count both of the Rams options as fades considering my comments, but now that I’ve said that, one of them will probably go off.
Stefon Diggs (MIN): $7,300
The Lions secondary has struggled since the halfway point of 2018, but Diggs will draw the difficult assignment of Darrius Slay shadow coverage and that’s a tough assignment to beat. Even when Slay isn’t on Diggs, I expect Detroit to double him with help over the top. The weakness of the Lions defense is over the middle with the short, intermediate passes and while Diggs gets some of those looks, teammates Adam Theilen and Kyle Rudolph are the ones who see the majority of those targets. In the end, I think that Diggs has a lower floor than I want to pay for, especially in cash games. Again, he’s another guy that can be used in GPPs, but I only like that idea as a stack with Kirk Cousins. Expect somewhere in the neighborhood of six to eight targets with a ceiling of 80-90 yards. There will probably be a lot of Dalvin Cook in the screen game this week and that could also cut into some of Diggs’ opportunity in this one. He’s just not seeing the type of target share I want from a player in this price range.
Any Washington WR (Full slate only)
OK, I said I was only giving you a couple receivers this week, but just wanted to make a general statement here with a quick note. If you’re playing the Saturday-Monday slate, I highly recommend avoiding any and all passing options in the Washington offense. They are sitting on a season-low 13.75 implied team total, meaning the wise guys in Vegas absolutely hate this offense. As well they should, Washington is down to a fourth string QB, a fourth string TE because they cut their third string TE last week before Vernon Davis got hurt, and also a smattering of starting offensive linemen who they signed off the street recently. With this many backups of backups of backups, it’s no wonder the expectations are so low. Stay away.
Trey Burton (CHI): $5,900 @ SF
Burton is very talented receiving option, but his role as the move TE in Matt Nagy’s scheme has not been as fruitful for fantasy as some thought, and he’s certainly not a play for cash games this week. The Bears offense just doesn’t use him enough to be trusted in DFS. Before last week’s performance, he was averaging just 3.5 targets and a mere 1.85 FanDuel points per game over his previous four games. This is a high price for very inconsistent usage. The 49ers are likely put SS Jaquiski Tartt on Burton for most of this game. Tartt elevated his play to that of a premier coverage safety against TE last season before being injured. This season, he’s been really good again, almost as good as 2017 and showing he was worth that second-round draft pick. You can take a chance on Burton in GPPs, but I’d look elsewhere with this game likely to be of the lower-scoring variety.
Josh Dalley is a DFS correspondent at FantasyPros. For more from Josh, follow him on Twitter @JoshDalley72.