Fantasy Football: Who to start on Saturday?

Pete Davidson
December 21, 2019 - 9:04 am
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It's bowl game week in seasonal leagues and for those of you who've found your way to the finals, congratulations, but more importantly, good luck!  For those of us who fell short, the three-game Saturday slate is a welcomed diversion, and you can even weave a Patriot or two into your lineups to spice up your afternoon.  It's a short slate so you don't need a spreadsheet to gain full control of the board.  It's a fun way to dip your toes into daily football if you've never tried it before.

Looking for seasonal advice instead?  As I said, it's "bowl week" for those of us still in the mix.  For my take on every relevant skill player for Week 16 fantasy purposes, check out my lineup rankings at Rotobahn.com.  It’s completely free.  No registration.  No signing in.  Just follow the link and enjoy.

Additionally, if you are looking for more Week 16 DFS information, the Rotobahn DFS Podcast will go up later today, at around 10:30 am.  It's easily found on my Twitter feed and it's free every week.

All pricing in this article was sourced from DraftKings.

Todays slate of games:

  • Texans at Bucs, 1:00 PM
  • Bills at Patriots, 4:30 PM
  • Rams at 49ers, 8:15 PM

A few general points on how I am playing these games.  I'm fading the Rams offense outside of Tyler Higbee, because the matchup is so tough at San Francisco.  I'm not looking to use much from the Patriots vs. Bills in my cash games, because I view the game as being low scoring.  If you disagree, you should consider getting more involved.   

QUARTERBACK

  • Deshaun Watson, Texans, $7,000
  • Jameis Winston, Bucs, $6,900
  • Jared Goff, Rams, $5,800
  • Jimmy Garoppolo, 49ers, $5,500
  • Josh Allen, Bills, $5,300
  • Tom Brady, Patriots $5,200

It's not a very inviting group outside of Watson, who is an obviously strong play.  In cash games, I love Watson and would be committed to using him.  That being said, most of you will want to enter tournaments and go for the glory, so let's get into other ways of attacking this slate.  Again, the safe play is absolutely Watson, but my guess is that over half of the rosters in play will have him as their quarterback, so if you want to go to the top of the leader board, you'll want to consider differentiating.  The obvious way to do this is to play Winston, who I would project to be around 15-25 percent owned in most tournaments.  The other two options I am inclined to play are Brady and Garoppolo.  Both have sensical stacking options and both offer significant savings over Watson and Winston.  Just to be clear here, this is a way to differentiate.  The optimal path to the most total points is Watson.  It's about which approach you want to embrace.  My approach will be to create a cash lineup built around Watson and I will create three tournament teams with Watson, Brady and Garoppolo each leading one.

RUNNING BACK

The only running backs on the slate who have roles you can really count on are the Bills Devin Singletary and the Rams Todd Gurley.  Both are in tough matchups. The rest of the teams use split backfields.  So we do not have a clear cut good option.  It's a question of how you want to spend your money.  I am willing to roster Singletary some because you save 800 compared to Gurley and I like his PPR prospects better.  That being said, my general plan is is to mix and match at RB based on how I am stacking a particular lineup.  I'm pairing James White with Brady.  I'm not pairing a Texans back with Watson.  I will consider using Raheem Mostert in my Garoppolo stacks.  Mostly, my approach at RB is to use cheaper players who will catch some passes.  James White ($5,800), Rex Burkhead ($3,600) and Ronald Jones ($4,400) all have some appeal in this regard.

WIDE RECEIVER

This is the money position for me based on the matchups.  There is good predictable pass volume to be had in the Bucs vs. Texans game.  I'm not using a lineup that doesn't include either Will Fuller ($5,900) or DeAndre Hopkins ($8,500.)  I'll use one or both in all lineups.  The same goes for the Bucs new duo of Breshad "3TD" Perriman ($6,000) and Justin "Ivy League" Watson ($4,600), who have stepped into the massive roles left behind by Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, who are both done for the season with hamstring injuries.  The field is going to be all over Perriman, and if you want to differentiate in a smart way, fading Perriman could be the money move.  Don't get me wrong, my inclination is to play him, but he's been a journeyman for a reason.  Expecting a Mike Evans performance is optimistic in my view--even though he dropped one last week.  I'm using Perriman if I am starting Winston and maybe as a correlation piece in a DeShaun Watson stack, but if you are fading Winston and Watson, it makes all the sense in the world to fade Perriman as well.  If I am making a Brady-led team, my eyes are on Julian Edelman ($6,400) though his recent injuries are giving me some pause.  I'll definitely limit my exposure to Edelman today.  James White and N'Keal Harry ($4,000) are both on my list.  White is the safe PPR play and Harry is more of a GPP (tournament) piece.  If I'm building around Garoppolo, my focus is on Kittle and then I'll consider Mostert if I can afford him. At receiver, I'm leaning towards Deebo Samuel ($5,100) over Emmanuel Sanders ($5,500) due to the savings, but also the matchup, as I expect Sanders to see a lot of Jalen Ramsey in coverage.

TIGHT END

  • George Kittle, $6,500, 49ers
  • Tyler Higbee, $5,000, Rams
  • O.J. Howard, $4,000, Bucs
  • Cameron Brate, $3,500, Bucs

Those are the four tight ends on my board.  You could consider some others, but I like these guys too much to go off the board on a slate where saving money is not exactly crucial.  Kittle is a great option, but he will be very popular, so going away from him in GPPs (tournaments) is a reasonable strategy.  There's really no wrong way to go here, but one point I want to emphasize is that, unlike with most large slates, you could go with a double-TE approach here.  Using a tight end in your flex spot is a very reasonable approach, so consider these guys when filling your flex.  If you are willing to embrace some risk, Howard is my favorite tournament play because most people won't use him.  He's had too rough of a season.  The thing is, with Evans and Godwin out, there is a target vacuum, and Howard's recent solid play is an indicator that he has the potential to fill that void to some degree.  This makes him a nice differentiation piece, but again, that's for the bold, not the risk averse.

DEFENSE

You all can do what you want here, but I am committed to paying-up for the Patriots defense at $4,000.  They are the best defense on the slate.  They are at home.  They face a quarterback who is loose with the football.  You could try to save money elsewhere.  You could try to fade the popular play.  There is merit to each approach, but the way I see it, you are passing up points for savings that you don't really need on this slate.  I'm playing the Patriots in every lineup.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

I threw a lot of stuff at you in this article.  If you are working on some lineups and want even more clarification, you can check out today's Rotobahn podcast, and take an even deeper dive.  It should be posted by around 10:30 am and I'll be walking through all of these scenarios in greater depth.

Lastly, please remember to play within your comfort level.  You can have loads of fun playing DFS without spending more than a few bucks a week, so please play responsibly.

Jimmy Hackett and I will get into some main slate lineup construction, and all of our favorite Week 16 plays, on the Fantasy Football Hour, live on 93.7 at 8 a.m. on Sundays.  We'll also be answering your texts, so send them in!  Join us!