Three French hens, two turtle doves, and a partridge in a pear…
Oh, sorry, it’s that time of the year I suppose…
I have this thing that happens to me where I get songs stuck in my head, and they play on repeat over and over again. Usually, if I go listen to the song, the repetition in my head goes away. Sometimes the song is random (earlier I had “Great Balls of Fire” by Jerry Lee Lewis on repeat), and I can’t trace back as to why it is in my head, I didn’t hear the song recently, but something triggers my deep cerebral cortex (is that a real thing?) and blares these songs loudly. Other times, it’s something I’ve heard recently, and lately it’s been either children’s songs, intros to cartoons or Christmas-related.
The “12 Days of Christmas,” preferably the Alvin and the Chipmunks version, is one of my all-time favorite holiday songs.”Little Drummer Boy” is No. 1.
You likely already know that the best way to bring Christmas cheer is to sing loudly for all to hear. But what you may not have realized, is that another way to bring Christmas cheer is to write a daily fantasy football picks article and relate it back to a Christmas song. By doing this, you are hoping that people play some of your picks and win a bunch of money on Christmas Eve, and thus spreading Christmas cheer.
So with all of that said, I bring you the “12 Days of Fantasy Football Christmas.” I have 12 plays, all of whom I feel are underpriced and have solid matchups this week. Some plays might look like duplicates from last week, and they are. A few happen to be ones I feel I was a week early on as I think this is the week we see them blow up.
One more thing I would like to preface. I also feel this is a week to pay up for QB. Many of the $6K or higher options have the best matchups on the board, and without Le’Veon, and David Johnson being in a tough matchup, paying up for RBs also may not be necessary so we can fit those QBs in a little better than most weeks. Wide receiver also feels the same way, especially if Julio sits. There’s so much value with upside that we can almost completely ignore Mike Evans (and we don’t have Odell or Antonio Brown to worry about paying for either).
I like this Week 15 slate much more than last week, and I hope that I bring you some Christmas joy should you use my picks to supplement your lineups and they pay off! Merry Christmas everyone!
Cam Newton – QB – Panthers – vs. Atlanta Falcons – $6,600
Analysis: On the first day of Fantasy Football Christmas, my true love gave to me…my favorite quarterback play of the week – Cam Newton. There are a lot of QBs I like this week, but I’ve come to really love Cam at home with his team’s playoff hopes still alive. This game has the third highest total of the week, and though I typically don’t like playing guys in the second division matchup of the season, I don’t really count this one for Cam. In these teams’ first meeting, Cam got knocked out trying to score a rushing touchdown, and Derek Anderson came in and threw two touchdowns and almost pulled off a come-from-behind win. This Atlanta defense is bad in every defensive category (, and they don’t have Desmond Trufant anymore. I love that this game is at home and Cam is coming off one of his better performances of the year. He may not have Greg Olsen on his side this week, meaning he may have to do that much more in a game that should still see a lot of points (though Carolina’s defense is playing better lately, too), Atlanta has allowed 28 TD passes to QBs this season and allows nearly 270 yards passing per game. Defensively, the Falcons allow 25.6 points per game and 380 total yards allowed per game on the road.
Aaron Rodgers – QB – Packers – vs. Minnesota Vikings – $6,700
Analysis: On the second day of Fantasy Football Christmas, my true love gave to me…an 18-4 TD:INT ratio at home. That’s the numbers put up by A-Rod at home this season. I am not a believer anymore in the Viqueens D any more. They are without their best safety in Harrison Smith and outside of Xavier Rhodes, this team just can’t defend much of anything anymore. Minnesota was embarrassed at home against the Colts and their playoff hopes are slim to none. Now, they should get up for this rivalry game, but I feel the Packers have more to play for than Minnesota. A cold day at Lambeau with a healthier Aaron Rodgers in December is good enough for me, but then at just $6,700 and likely low ownership? I’ll gladly take that in all formats. The Pack has a team total around 25 points and I am not chasing the Ty Montgomery breakout game this week, but with what looks like a formidable running attack, i think that opens up things a lot more for Adams, Nelson, Cobb and Cook.
DeMarco Murray – RB – Titans – vs. Jacksonville Jaguars – $7,000
Analysis: On the third day of Fantasy Football Christmas, my true love gave to me…the cheapest consistent running back on the slate. Yes, McCoy and DJ have been really consistent this year, but they aren’t $7,000. Murray has seen some TDs and carries vultured by Derrick Henry recently, but he hasn’t scored less than 12.5 fantasy points this season. That was against Cleveland in a blowout. While the volume has dipped a bit, he is still seeing 17+ rushes per game plus 3-5 catches per game. Murray and the Titans face a Jaguars defense that we all know has a touch secondary to throw on, but a weak front 7 where rushing attacks thrive. I am going to hope that Henry’s recent string of touchdowns ends and positive regression comes back to favor Murray against a turnover-prone offense.
Jordan Howard – RB – Bears – vs. Washington Redskins – $6,300
Analysis: On the fourth day of Fantasy Football Christmas, my true love gave to me…the only thing consistent about the Bears offense. Jordan Howard is the guy. There’s no Ka’Deem Carey or Jeremy Langford anymore, it’s all the rookie Indiana product (man I miss playing college football DFS). In Matt Barkley’s last two starts, Howard has seen 9 targets out of the backfield to go along with 30 carries. The carries are lower than we would like to see, but that’s more about Chicago playing much of their games from behind. But this spread is only at 3.5 points, favoring Washington, who has lost 3 of its last 4 games. My favorite thing about Howard is how weak the Deadskins’ rush defense is. They let Jonathan Stewart run wild on Monday night (also, it’s a short week for Washington, another plus!) and are allowing 115 yards per game and has allowed 14 rushing touchdowns. Washington also hasn’t allowed anything less than double-digits to opposing RBs all season long. All signs point toward a big day for Mr. Howard.
Lamar Miller – RB – Texans – vs. Cincinnati Bengals – $5,700
Analysis: On the fifth day of Fantasy Football Christmas, my true love gave to me…a consistently underpriced running back. Say what you want about Miller’s health, but he has carries of 21 and 22 in his past two games. This should be his third straight week on the Value Index. At $5,700, Miller is the workhorse running back in this offense. We don’t have to worry about teams stacking the box now that Brock Osweiler’s Wonder Years are over and Fred (Tom) Savage is now the starter. Cincy is allowing an average of 23.85 fantasy points per game to RBs and is without its top run stopper in Vontez Burfict, who got hurt in last week’s game against Pittsburgh. With this game at home for the Texans, with a new quarterback and a division on the line, there’s plenty on the line here for the Texans to be at full force. Miller also has only had one game all season where he’s scored under 10 fantasy points at home.
Amari Cooper – WR – Raiders – vs. Indianapolis Colts – $6,500
Analysis: On the sixth day of Fantasy Football Christmas, my true love gave to me…a bounce back spot. Maybe Latavius Murray’s usage has eaten into Cooper’s productivity, but he the Raiders have faced Denver, Houston, San Diego, Kansas City on a Thursday night in the bitter cold, Buffalo and Carolina. There’s a lot of tough matchups on that list for Cooper, but he finally has a great spot to give us 20+ fantasy points. Cooper hasn’t been under $7K all year and was $1,000 more just two weeks ago. The Colts have been leaky in the secondary, giving up 261 yards per game. This game has the highest projected total of Saturday’s slate at 53 points and should we see lots of points as predicted, then Cooper should have more than his fair share of fantasy points.
Michael Thomas – WR – Saints – vs. Tampa Bay Bucs – $6,000
Analysis: On the seventh day of Fantasy Football Christmas, my true love gave to me…a recency bias option. We have a Saints game in the Super Dome, but it’s a rematch of a piss poor performance by both teams just a couple of weeks ago. Drew Brees threw 3 INTs and zero touchdowns in that game. He’s coming off a shelling of the Cardinals indoors last week and now gets some home cooking. I attribute Brees’ struggles in his two 3-interception games to not having Michael Thomas in the lineup. Thomas returned last week and we saw Brandin Cooks go nuts. I think ownership will flock to Cooks in a home game coming off a big performance, leaving Thomas at the very discounted price of $6,000. It’s not the cheap pricing we saw early in the season, but it has come down the past couple of weeks. I like this game to shootout this time since it didn’t the first time these two teams met. Having Thomas, Snead and Cooks to chase around is just too much for this Tampa secondary, despite its recent improvement.
Brandon Marshall – WR – Jets – vs. New England Patriots – $5,300
Analysis: On the eighth day of Fantasy Football Christmas, my true love gave to me…an oldie but a goodie. Bryce Petty is questionable this week and his favorite option since taking over the starting job has been Robby Anderson. This has blowout written all over it, but even in a blowout last week, Marshall had 11 targets, so we don’t have to worry about him being taken off the field. But now there’s talk that Ryan Fitzpatrick could be the quarterback, and if he starts (and even if he doesn’t), his favorite target is Brandon Marshall. The Patriots have been one of those teams that take away its best player, but that player may not be Marshall right now. Marshall put up 6 for 67 yards and a score in these two team’s first meeting and Marshall’s price has dropped all the way down to $5,300. The Patriots give up lots of yards in the passing game and I expect the Jets to be throwing, throwing, throwing.
DeAndre Hopkins – WR – Texans – vs. Cincinnati Bengals – $5,200
Analysis: On the ninth day of Fantasy Football Christmas, my true love gave to me…an eruption spot. Enter Tom Savage and DeAndre Hopkins sees 17 targets! SEVENTEEN! Brock Osweiler threw to Nuk once and was intercepted. It’s about time the Texans realize that they don’t have to keep Brock on the field just because they paid him a ton of money (though they shouldn’t have given it to him in the first place, that was very clear to everyone else except the Houston organization). Savage knows who the playmaker is on this offense and that is Hopkins, who has just one 100-yard game this season. At $5,200, Nuk gets the Saturday Night Hammer award for me and is my favorite play at any position on the entire slate. If Hopkins can score 16 fantasy points against a tough Jags pass defense with Savage as the QB, just think of what he can do in primetime against a weaker opponent that has nothing to play for.
Sammy Watkins – WR – Bills – vs. Miami Dolphins – $5,000
Analysis: On the tenth day of Fantasy Football Christmas, my true love gave to me…a redo. Sammy Watkins should not have been on this list last week. I know it was the Browns, but that game had LeSean McCoy written all over it and needing Sammy was just not a necessity. But now his price has dipped all the way down to $5,000 and he’s in a game that should be close until the end, despite the Bills having nothing to play for. Sammy hasn’t had the greatest year and is still battling some lingering issues with his foot injury, but he has been playing all the snaps he can handle despite the Bills being out of the playoff picture. I don’t know if this will be an eruption spot, but I like Sammy to meet value with a good chance to have huge upside against the Dolphins who have given up 15 TDs to wideouts this season. Who else is going to catch touchdowns?
Allen Robinson – WR – Jaguars – vs. Tennessee Titans – $4,600
Analysis: On the eleventh day of Fantasy Football Christmas, my true love gave to me…a hope and a prayer. Last week I loved A-Rob and he was a complete bust. This week, his continued futility scares me. BUT the great thing here is that A-Rob is facing the weakest secondary in the league. Tennessee has given up 16 receiving touchdowns this season, including at least 1 TD score in 11 of 14 games this season. Hurns is hurt, Lee has little to no touchdown equity, Jacksonville’s running game is a mess and they don’t have a weapon at tight end. I would actually love this matchup more if Allen Hurns returned because that means Tennessee couldn’t just double up A-Rob all game. Tennessee gives up 266 yards passing per game and Robinson had double-digit fantasy points against this team in their first meeting. Gus Bradley is no longer the head coach, so maybe the Jags are rejuvenated and will play up for their new interim. Now we just have to hope Blake Bortles can actually throw a football to members of his own team.
Cameron Brate – TE – Buccaneers – vs. New Orleans Saints – $3,900
Analysis: On the twelfth day of Fantasy Football Christmas, my true love gave to me…the chalk at the position. There are some fine expensive options that you can pay up for, but I’ve learned my lesson this year about paying up at TEs. I think Brate is going to be the chalk at the position, but there’s good reason for that. One, he’s coming off a great game against the Cowboys and two, he’s in a game with a high total where his team should be throwing the ball a ton. Mike Evans could blow up here, but teams have been double covering him, leaving everyone else in space and in likely one-on-one coverage. The Saints have given up some big games to TEs this season. Last time these two teams faced off, Adam Humphries was not in the lineup for Tampa, but now he’s back. That may not seem like much, but he is someone the Saints have to keep an eye on, so it’s not just MIke Evans out there. This is why I love Brate this week. The Saints have allowed at least 4 catches to TEs in all but three games this season, including in each of the last eight weeks. Brate has at least 4 catches in seven of his last eight games with the outlier being against Kansas City. Brate is quietly the No. 6 overall fantasy tight end and cost you just $3,900 in a game featuring a 53 point O/U in the Super Dome. The Bucs should be passing a ton here and I like Brate to continue the consistency.