News & Analysis

Week 15 Daily fantasy football picks: Locks

By Tyler Loechner
Dec 15, 2018

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Dec 10, 2017; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) looks to pass against the Baltimore Ravens during the first quarter at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Who are the best fantasy football plays for building an optimal DFS lineup in Week 15 of the 2018 NFL season? As we do every Saturday, this piece brings you the DFS locks of the week.

This piece will go over the players you can lock into your DFS lineups for optimal performance.

Quarterbacks

Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers

Roethlisberger averages over 300 yards and 2.7 touchdowns per game at home. Playing at home this week, Big Ben faces the Patriots — who have allowed the 10th-most fantasy points to quarterbacks — in a game with the highest over/under on the slate (52).

Tom Brady, New England Patriots

Brady will be opposite Roethlisberger in the should-be high-scoring Pats/Steelers game, and Pittsburgh has allowed the 11th-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. Brady is fresh off a performance as the top-scoring quarterback in fantasy.

Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens

Still serving as Baltimore’s starter, Jackson gets a plum Week 15 draw against the Buccaneers, who have allowed the fourth-most fantasy points per game to quarterbacks. Jackson has scored at least 17.5 DraftKings points in each of his four starts while averaging 19.8 points — over 3.3x value on his salary.

Running backs

Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys

Elliott is one of the surest bets on the entire slate, not just at the running back position. Elliott’s usage over the last four weeks is absurd. He’s averaging 32.5 touches per game in the last month and there are no signs the high usage is going to stop any time soon.

Saquon Barkley, New York Giants

With Odell Beckham Jr. ruled out once again for Week 15, the already volume-secure Barkley is once again locked in as New York’s best weapon (by far). It’s not a great matchup against the Titans, but in an overall tough week in DFS, Barkley belongs in as many lineups as possible as a workhorse.

Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals

Mixon shined for the Bengals last week, touching the ball 31 times for 138 total yards and a score. He this week faces a Raiders defense that has allowed the most rushing yards against (1,598) — and even though that particular figure has a lot to do with the fact the Raiders are often trailing, something that isn’t guaranteed to happen this week — they still allow a healthy 4.9 YPC against. Mixon is a great play.

Jaylen Samuels, Pittsburgh Steelers

James Conner is trending toward missing Week 15 (check his status), and if that’s the case, Samuels becomes a DFS lock for the second straight week. He saw a needed price bump across the industry, but Samuels is still a strong value play with 18-22 touches in his range of outcomes, including five-plus high-value receptions. The Patriots have allowed the 10th-most fantasy points per touch to opposing running backs this year.

Wide receivers

Adam Thielen, Minnesota Vikings

Thielen has the second-best individual WR/CB matchup among this week’s main-slate wideouts. He’ll primarily face Miami’s Bobby McCain, whose PFF grade of 54.6 is fifth-lowest among this week’s starting slot corners.

JuJu Smith-Schuster, Pittsburgh Steelers

Smith-Schuster or Antonio Brown? That’s the question you’ll likely have to get right this week. I’m choosing Smith-Schuster, who will avoid coverage from Stephon Gilmore. Smith-Schuster is cheaper, too, and he’s on a recent hot streak with over eight receptions and over 100 yards in three of his last four games.

Amari Cooper, Dallas Cowboys

Cooper, fantasy’s No. 1 wideout since being traded to Dallas, is the eighth-most-expensive wideout on DraftKings and the No. 16-priced wideout on FanDuel (!?). Aside from the mispricing — especially on FanDuel — Cooper faces a Colts defense that ranks in the bottom half of the league (21st overall) in fantasy points per target allowed to wideouts.

Taylor Gabriel, Chicago Bears

We have Gabriel projected as a top-10 value on both FanDuel and DraftKings — including the No. 1 projected wideout value on DraftKings. He’s super cheap, and with at least seven targets in four straight games, Gabriel promises solid volume potential against the Packers, who have allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to receiver this season.

Tight ends

Eric Ebron, Indianapolis Colts

Ebron faces the Cowboys in Week 15, who have allowed five touchdowns to tight ends over the last six weeks. That bodes well for Ebron, who has 13 touchdowns in 13 games this year — most among all tight ends.

Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots

As I’ve written numerous times this week, Gronkowski is in a great spot against Pittsburgh, a team he averages over 110 yards and 1 touchdown against in his career. While how Gronk played against Pittsburgh in 2010 has no bearing on his outlook in 2018, he’s back on the touchdown track with two scores in the last three weeks, and this Steelers/Patriots game is set to be the highest-scoring game of the weekend.

George Kittle, San Francisco 49ers

Kittle remains a stone-cold lock with at least nine targets in every game since Nick Mullens took over as the starter. The Seahawks have been stingy against tight ends this year, but Kittle is matchup-proof, so don’t let the matchup scare you.

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