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Daily Fantasy Football is the ultimate week-to-week test of acumen. There is worry about bye weeks or injured players like in season-long formats. FanDuel offers a variety of cash and tournament contests consisting of a single week of matchups. Projecting player ownership to build lineups is an integral strategy to long-term success. Here are the key players for Week 16 of the 2016 season:
*Overall defensive ranks represented by FootballOutsiders.com DVOA*
THE CHALK PLAYS
Tom Brady (vs NYJ), $9,000: While Brady is the top quarterback salary on the main Week 16 slate, he is still one of the better chalk plays on the board. After his first game of the season below 1.5x value in Denver last week, Brady is a prime regression candidate. The Jets are an ideal matchup for an opposing quarterback with the No.3 rush defense and No.32 pass defense - funneling production to the air. In 5-of-10 games this season Brady has hit 3x value despite salaries hovering around $9,000 most of the season. The Jets struggle mightily against wide receivers while being average against tight ends and running backs on defense. This matchup is ideal for Brady, Julian Edelman, Malcolm Mitchell, and Chris Hogan to be featured. Expect 10-15$ ownership for Brady as a top-3 owned quarterback.
Jordan Howard (vs WAS), $7,200: Howard has been reliable with at least 1.5x value each of the last five games and scoring double-digit FanDuel points. Howard also has 15 or more touches in each of the last seven contests. Washington is struggling mightily on defense and is No.26 against run games, struggling more as the season has progressed. Howard is a strong combination of usage, upside, and salary as the matchup against Washington is a target one. Expect at least 25% ownership for Howard as a top-3 running back play of the week.
Bilal Powell (at NE), $6,500: Matt Forte is playing through a torn meniscus and, despite being active, has been a non-factor to Powell's workhorse upside. Despite two straight games of 21 FanDuel points or more (3.5x or better value), Powell's salary remaining outside the top-12 backs on the main slate this week. The Patriots are a quality run defense (No.4) but are a bottom-10 pass defense against running backs - a calling card of Powell, who has 17 targets the past two games. Expect around 10% ownership for Powell.
Michael Thomas (vs TB), $6,900: Thomas has had at least four receptions in every game played this season. The Saints return home where their offensive splits in the Sean Payton era are stark. Tampa Bay struggles most against No.2 receivers (No.22 in NFL) and Brandin Cooks typically sees the No.1 treatment by opposing defenses. Thomas stands to benefit this week. Thomas is likely the top owned receiver this week, in the 25% ownership range.
Tyrell Williams (at CLE), $6,800: The Browns are horrific across the board on defense. With Melvin Gordon missing practice early in the week and not expected to be at full strength even if he suits up, the San Diego pass game is front and center for a big week. Williams has been held down two straight games, totaling just 11.8 FanDuel points. This is a prime rebound matchup for Williams. Expect around 10% ownership for Williams.
Michael Crabtree (vs IND), $6,200: Crabtree remains much cheaper than teammate Amari Cooper - a full $1,000 less this week. The Colts are No.27 against the pass and No.29 against top receivers. Crabtree has been fading in salary since October and has just two touchdowns in his last seven games despite steady volume. In a projected shootout, Crabtree represents the best value in the Oakland pass game. Crabtree will be in the 20-30% ownership group in Week 16.
Cameron Brate (at NO), $5,600: The matchup date for the Saints defense points to opposing tight ends. They are average against the run and No.1 receivers, but struggle elsewhere, especially to tight ends (No.25) and running backs (No.32). Brate has made numerous contested highlight catches this season and remains on the lower band of salaries and has yet to rise above $5,700 this season. Brate has only had one dud game over the last two months, a 2.8-point effort in late November. Expect at least 1.5x value from Brate with 3x or better upside. Brate may be the top owned overall player of Week 16. He may surpass 30% ownership in some contests.
Stephen Gostkowski (vs NYJ), $4,800: For a few hundred less than the top kicker salaries Gostkowski has a Vegas team total of 30, a projected blowout win, and has hit 2.3x or better value iin 3-of-4 games.
Patriots (vs NYJ), $5,000: The Jets are an ideal matchup for opposing defenses, specifically the Patriots. New England is No.4 against the run, enabling them to turn offenses one-dimensional to higher variance passing plays and likely playing from behind. The Patriots have the third-most sacks over the last five weeks and have forced eight turnovers in the span, eighth-most in the league. In the same period, the Jets have turned the ball over 10 times, including seven interceptions in the last three games. The Patriots are projected as the top owned defense of the week in the 30% range.
THE SNEAKY PLAYS
Derek Carr (vs IND), $8,100: Carr is coming off two lackluster games of 0.6x and 1.5x value, both on the road. Despite throwing 71 times in those two contests, Carr has just 330 yards and a single touchdown total. The Colts are a 'get well' matchup back in Oakland in Week 16. The Colts are No.27 and No.29 respectively against the pass and rush by FootballOutsiders. Oakland should have their way on offense, centered around Derek Carr. Oakland's defense is outside the top-20 against the run and pass as well, so expect a shootout and Oakland needing 28 points or more to win with their foot on the pedal. Expect 5-10% ownership for Carr.
Mark Ingram (vs TB), $6,300: Ingram has been quiet for three weeks in a row and has just one touchdown over his last six games. Tampa Bay struggles against the run (No.23 in DVOA) compared to their pass defense. They are also susceptible to backs in the pass game (No.26). With the highest Vegas game total of the week, Ingram is one of the strong values available. Expect less than 5% ownership for Ingram.
Jonathan Stewart (vs ATL), $6,400: Stewart has been solid of late, posting at least 1.5x value in 4-of-5 games. His weekly volume is promising with 49 carries the past two weeks. Stewart is RB17 on the main slate in terms of salary and has an ideal matchup against the Falcons. Atlanta is No.28 against the run plus their pass defense struggles the most against opposing No.3 receivers and running backs. Like Ingram, expect less than 5% ownership for Stewart.
Kenny Britt (vs SF), $6,200: The 49ers are the worst defense in the NFL against No.1 receivers. Britt survived last week's showdown against Richard Sherman with 1.1x value and has been the lone consistent producer on the Rams offense this season. Britt is at his lowest salary since early November and without a touchdown in back-to-back games is a moderate touchdown regression candidate. Expect 3% ownership or less for Britt.
Marqise Lee (vs TEN), $5,900: The Titans are No.6 against top receivers, but struggle against secondary receivers. Lee has thrived in the secondary role this season as Allen Robinson absorbs top defensive attention. Lee has hit at least 1.1x value in seven straight games and has 2x value in 3-of-5 contests. After being shut out by Houston last week on three empty targets on offense, Lee is the squeaky wheel to benefit with the plush matchup in Week 16. Expect 3-5% ownership with Allen Hurns out for Week 16.
Chris Hogan (vs NYJ), $5,300: The Jets are the worst pass defense in the NFL by DVOA and especially struggle against secondary receivers. Big-play threats have enjoyed strong games this season, including deeper threats like Mike Wallace, Kenny Britt, T.Y. Hilton, Sammie Coates Jr, and Marquise Goodwin. Hogan posted 4-70-0 in New York the last time these teams faced off this season. Hogan is coming off a 2.3-point effort against Denver. With the Jets quality run defense, expect a big passing day for New England. Expect 1-3% ownership for Hogan as most side with Julian Edelman and Malcolm Mitchell of the Patriots receivers in the choice matchup.
Jack Doyle (at OAK), $4,500: Doyle has been a steady snap count accumulator this season and with the Colts receivers banged up, expect to see plenty of multiple tight end sets against the Raiders. Oakland's weakness through the air is against tight ends (No.21), while being average or better against the No.1 and No.2 receivers. It has been two months since Doyle's big games of October and makes for an ideal touchdown regression candidate. Doyle has gone 23 catches since his last visit to the end zone, including four games of at least four receptions during the drought. At minimum salary and a tepid tight end projected week, Doyle is a sleeper tournament play. Expect 1-2% ownership for Doyle.
Roberto Aguayo (at NO), $4,500: The Saints are allowing the fifth-most kicker points over the last five weeks. Getting a minimum salary kicker with a high Vegas total and in a dome is a quality combination. After struggling in the first half of the season, the rookie has calmed down his 'yips', making 13-of-15 recent field goals.
Chargers (at CLE), $4,900: The Browns remain a strong target for opposing defenses. Cleveland's own defense is No.31 and No.32 respectively, leading to plenty of negative game scripts. Cleveland has allowed an NFL-high 23 sacks over the last five weeks - six more than any other team. The Browns has also allowed at least four sacks in 5-of-6 recent games. San Diego is an above-average defense both against the run and pass. San Diego will be in the 10% range of ownership.