Let’s be honest. You probably weren’t going to go out this Saturday night anyway, so why not put your fantasy football knowledge to the test and play some DFS on the rare occasion that we have NFL football live on Saturday!
I’m here to break down the two games between the Buffalo Bills @ Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers @ Green Bay Packers to provide the DFS analysis needed to help supplement bankrolls for even more action on Sunday.
I’ll go by position by position labeling my top picks and fades to ensure a profitable Saturday night. Because after all the holidays are quickly approaching and those PS5s – if they ever come back in stock – won’t buy themselves.
There are three quarterbacks in play for me on Saturday, two of which are the two most expensive on the slate: Aaron Rodgers ($7,800) and Josh Allen ($7,200). Both Rodgers (24.7) and Allen (24.6) rank inside the top-six in fantasy points per game among QBs and both have plus-matchups.
The Carolina Panthers just allowed four passing touchdowns to Drew Lock in Week 14, and the Broncos’ secondary is missing five starting defensive backs. All things considered, Allen would be my No. 1 QB based on the rushing upside he offers that Rodgers doesn’t have.
That’s why his expected fantasy points per game (23.4) ranks No. 1 in the league while Rodgers (19.6) ranks 14th.
Of the cheaper QBs, Teddy Bridgewater ($5,200) would be my choice. I’m not buying into Drew Lock’s four-touchdown performance from last week and the fact that the Bills’ defense is surging. The Broncos QB did all of his damage from a clean pocket, and Buffalo ranks fourth in pressure rate this season (38.3%).
Lock leads the NFL in picks (seven) and has a 25.0 passer rating (39th out of 40 qualifiers) under pressure this season.
Meanwhile Green Bay ranks 28th in pressure rate this season (26%), so I think Bridgewater’s chances of keeping pace with Rogers vastly outweigh Lock’s. Teddy B scored 30-plus fantasy points on the road versus a Patrick Mahomes-led Chiefs offense and will be getting back a key playmaker in D.J. Moore.
The Panthers quarterback also offers some sneaky rushing upside – he has three rushing touchdowns in his last four games.
Christian McCaffrey didn’t practice on Thursday and that means it’s another week for Mike Davis. Because Davis doesn’t split touches in his backfield like Aaron Jones, I'd expect him to be the highest rostered running back at $6,500.
The matchup is ideal – GB is the league’s second-worst defense in PPR points per game allowed to opposing RBs – and Davis offers upside as a pass-catcher. The Packers have allowed the fourth-most receiving yards to RBs over the past four weeks.
Jones also gets the chance to blow-up versus the Panthers who have allowed four different running backs this season to score 28-plus fantasy points. The Packers’ running back played a season-high snap share (71%) and saw 18 touches in Week 14, but his fantasy production has been hindered in the touchdown column by Green Bay’s affinity to throw close to the goal line.
Inside the 10-yard line, Green Bay throws at the fifth-highest rate (61%). But that’s not to say Jones can’t potentially get in on the fun as a pass-catcher because Carolina has allowed the third-most receptions to RBs this season.
Jones seems like the best bet to leverage Green Bay’s 30.25 implied team total because he has the chance to accumulate the most touchdowns that won’t credit Aaron Rodgers and the passing game. Any lineup without Rodgers would need to have Jones.
And the same can be said for any lineup that doesn’t have Jones should have Williams because back-up RBs almost always get overlooked in small slates and more often than not return value. PFF’s Kevin Cole is a huge supporter of the back-up RB approach on small DFS slates.
Melvin Gordon III projects as a better value than does Davis and should be a staple as a bring-back option in any Allen lineup. Gordon has a great matchup versus the Bills’ 32nd PFF-graded run defense and he has been heating up the last two weeks.
He’s averaged 7.1 yards per attempt, 3.4 yards after contact per attempt and earned a PFF rushing grade of 80.6.
The perception around Gordon is that he works in a timeshare but it's his touches inside the 20s that he shares with Phillip Lindsay. He gets the goal-line work and sees the work in the passing game which are the touches that lead to fantasy points.
He’s also overdue to find the end zone after failing to convert any of his last three carries inside the five-yard line into scores the past two weeks.
Therefore Davis and Gordon should be viewed in similar lights, but Gordon is priced way down ($5,200) and should see lower ownership. Davis’ big day last week was tied to his touchdown scores, so if he can’t find the end-zone – could easily be siphoned at the goal-line by Bridgewater or Curtis Samuel – and MG3 does, you’ve got leverage on the field.
That would make Jones and Gordon my top two priority running backs.
The only other RB I would consider would be Zack Moss ($4,500) in a lineup with Rodgers at the helm hoping that he can accumulate touchdowns which would reduce Allen’s ceiling. Moss saw twice the carry volume that Devin Singletary in Week 14. He escaped the doghouse he was placed in after he fumbled in Week 13.
Davante Adams and Stefon Diggs are obvious locks as pairings with their respective QBs, but it’s best to finagle salary to make sure Adams is in there for sure. He’s just by far and away the best WR to play each week and it’s best to just eat the chalk with him and differentiate elsewhere.
D.J. Moore has to be the best value among all WRs because he offers the most bang-for-your-buck at just $5,200. Moore led the Panthers in targets and air yards Weeks 10-13 and still leads the team in end-zone target share (43%) the last four weeks despite not playing in Week 14.
As the team’s deep threat (13.0 aDOT) he provides a much-higher slate-breaking profile than Robby Anderson who seems more like a player that you’d pay up for safety at $6,200.
Curtis Samuel is also interesting because he provides leverage off Davis should he score a rushing touchdown. Remember, he didn’t practice last week because he was on the Reserve/Covid list, so we might see him more involved as a rusher.
I foreshadowed that Diggs is somewhat expendable at his salary because Allen doesn’t always score his touchdowns through the air, so Diggs’ ceiling is limited if he doesn’t score.
It’s much easier to get exposure to Allen’s pass-catcher through Cole Beasley ($4,700) and Gabriel Davis ($4,000) Beasley has double-digit targets on three of his last four games and basically provides the same floor/ceiling combination as a higher-priced Robby Anderson.
Davis stood out like a sore thumb in my Starts and DFS picks based on high-value opportunities ahead of Week 15 because he is seeing a higher percentage of end-zone targets and air yards so he looks like the perfect cheap WR at 4K to not only save salary but to provide leverage against Diggs.
The PFF DFS optimizer loves Jerry Jeudy as a top value on the slate at 3.9K and I couldn't agree more. Tim Patrick is a bit more expensive than Jeudy ($3,900 versus $4,300) and looks like the safer option based on his recent production.
He has averaged 14.6 fantasy points per game since Week 9 — with some touchdown dependency — and ranks fourth in average yards per route run since Week 10 (2.45).
But the main difference is Jeudy is such a strong candidate for positive regression based on his total fantasy points scored under expectation and the fact that he, Patrick and K.J. Hamler has been almost equal in terms of targets since Week 10.
My choice is going to be Lazard. I understand that he has been dealing with a core injury that has limited his snaps but he has no injury designation as of Thursday, so he could be 100% ready to go.
The matchup also favors Lazard out of the slot, because Carolina has been extremely inefficient versus slot WRs the last four weeks.
They rank 27th in passer rating (114.6) and 29th in touchdown percentage (9.1%) allowed to slot WRs.
MVS also will have to deal with speedy cornerback Donte Jackson. He runs 4.32, so he can surely keep up with Valdes-Scantling downfield.
It’s pretty clear that Robert Tonyan is the best tight end on the slate. He has four touchdowns over the past four weeks, and the Panthers have allowed the sixth-most fantasy points per game to tight ends over that same time span.
He’s gotta be locked into any Rodgers-led lineup because of his touchdown equity.
But the tight end that could deliver a huge play or two would be Noah Fant at $3,800. The Bills have allowed the second-most yards and third-highest rate of explosive plays to TEs this season.
I wouldn’t chase Fumagalli’s production last week because he only got run because Fant didn’t play. Vannett has been the No. 2 tight end all season and saw two end-zone targets last week.
Lock has a weird affinity to target his back-up tight ends in the end-zone – Albert Okwuegbunam still has more end-zone targets this season than Fant – so don’t shy away from Vannett as a TE punt.
Dawson Knox is seeing more run lately – season-high seven targets last week – and just being on the field gives him value at $2,800. Denver has allowed the eighth-most fantasy points to TEs over the past two weeks, so I am 100% interested.
The Bills’ tight end has run 62 routes over the past two weeks which ranks ninth among tight ends. He’s run more routes than Tonyan (49).
It’s not too difficult to find the salary to fit in any DST you please, but the clear-cut favorite has to be the Bills at $3,000 against a turnover-prone Lock. But because they are going to be super popular, it might make more sense to go with Denver’s DST in some places because DFS players won’t want to play them if they have Bills offensive players in their lineups.
Allen is no stranger from making bone-headed mistakes from time-to-time, so don’t overlook Denver. If he throws a pick-six, that just means more points for the DEN DST and another possession for Allen to score more fantasy points.
Even if salary is plentiful, Green Bay seems a strong fade. Carolina gives up the fifth-fewest fantasy points to the DST position and they will have high-ownership because anybody with money to burn will just jam them in.
Our PFF projections have them projected for fewer points than the Bills and Broncos.