💪 2 Studs Ready for a Playoff Ride

Just when you need them the most...

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Three days of NFL action starts today. Buckle up!

In today’s Fantasy Life Newsletter presented by Hugo Boss:

  • 2 First-Round WRs Coming to Save the Day

  • Rankings Roundtable: Who we like and who we kinda like

  • DFS Stacks: Oh Sh—. Here comes Deebo!

  • QUICK HITTER: All the injury news you needed.

  • The Chargers are on to 2024…

  • The Walkthrough: The rise of an elite TE

  • It’s 12/16. Take it away, Chris Allen…

The fantasy playoffs have begun, and they’ve been defined by ‘the guys you didn’t know you needed’.

I didn’t know I’d need to check my matchups to see if I was going against Zamir White (17.5 PPR points) or Aidan O’Connell (25.9). And now, some of you need help. Or others want to hang onto the lead they’ve built.

That’s where our studs come into play.

We knew we’d need guys like Christian McCaffrey or CeeDee Lamb for times like this. I mean, sure, we’ve needed them every week. But this is the playoffs! And even though August feels like a lifetime ago, we could use a big game from the guys we picked in the early rounds.

But a few have had down weeks. I’m sure you’ve looked at a couple guys on your roster and said, “It’s [insert player name here], I can’t sit him”! So, with things looking uncertain for some of our big-name players, here are two I’m more confident in showing out for Week 15.

🦅 A.J. Brown, Eagles

Since making history earlier in the season, A.J. Brown has only found the paint twice and has just one 100-yard game. But, with 13 targets (!!) in two straight games, we know the volume’s there for him to get back into the Top 12. It’s just that he and Jalen Hurts are juuuuust off the mark.

Brown and DeVonta Smith have battled for the WR1 spot over their last four games. But it’s been Arthur Juan on top, with over 35% of the team’s air yards in what were tough matchups against the 49ers and Cowboys. Now, against Seattle’s secondary, we should see Brown back in the Top 12, especially given the Seahawk’s penchant for letting opposing WR1s run through their secondary:

  • Deebo Samuel: 9-149-1 (Brandon Aiyuk tied him in targets, 9-126-0)

  • CeeDee Lamb: 17-116-1

  • Deebo Samuel: 9-79-0

  • Puka Nacua: 7-70-1

Philadelphia can’t let up if they want to get back into the #1 seed conversation or host a playoff game. Despite their dip in play, Brown has a clear path to a WR1 finish in the first round of the fantasy playoffs.

🐂 Stefon Diggs, Bills

Stefon Diggs has earned 11 targets in back-to-back games. Since Week 10, he has led the Bills’ pass-catchers in target share (25.2%) while sharing the most looks from Josh Allen when Buffalo gets into scoring position.

And all that opportunity sounds great. But it hasn’t amounted to much.

Diggs UR

‘Ungood’ is the best way I can describe what we’ve seen out of Diggs.

He hasn’t had a 100-yard game since mid-October and accrued less than 50 receiving yards in three of his last four games. However, after falling behind Gabe Davis in targets and air-yard share, Diggs regained his WR1 role with 30.6% of Allen’s attempts thrown his way. Plus, his matchup against Dallas’ secondary isn’t as daunting, given Buffalo’s early-season tendencies.

Diggs’ slot rate has spiked against teams with tough perimeter corners. It was over 40.0% in both Jets’ contests and at 43.9% vs. the Patriots. Coincidentally, Keenan Allen (11-85-1) and Curtis Samuel (12-100-0) are two of the Top 5 WRs in points scored against the Cowboys. With Diggs still earning shots downfield (second-most deep targets with Joe Brady as OC), Buffalo should see a vintage performance from the WR1 on Sunday.

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Week 15 RR

Debating between two guys on your roster? Need someone to break the tie for you? Matthew Freedman, Dwain McFarland, and Ian Hartitiz dove deep into their rankings to find a few players they’re willing to push into their starting lineup for Week 15.

It’s the first round of the playoffs, and we’re all on edge.

Just getting to this point was hard enough. Injuries, bye weeks…it feels like every week we’ve been hit with something new. But now it’s crunch time. We have to make the best roster decisions so we’re still making moves come Tuesday morning. 

So, to help, our crew got together again to comb through their rankings and talk about how they’re playing some of the top options for Week 15.

⚔ WR - Justin Jefferson (Vikings) at Bengals

Jefferson took a vicious hit last weekend thanks to a hospital ball from Joshua Dobbs but is on track to play this weekend (chest). Before the injury, Jefferson was doing Jefferson things with a 38% TPRR. His 27% TPRR ranks sixth in the NFL for WRs, with at least 200 routes in 2023.

JJ UR

The Vikings are switching to Nick Mullens as the starting QB this weekend, which could boost the entire offense. Mullens has registered 250-plus passing yards in 65% of games where he played at least 70% of the snaps (17). 

If you need more proof, look no further than his 244.5 passing yards prop on DraftKings. That isn’t a number we typically see for backups in their first game as a starter. We can’t expect Kirk Cousins-level production from the passing attack, but Jefferson still carries 25-point upside.

The Bengals allow the sixth-most passing yards per contest (267), and the Saturday game offers sneaky shootout potential. Both offenses have QBs that have proven themselves as backups and reside within loaded offenses.

Jefferson is my No. 12 player overall – almost 20 spots above the Fantasylife consensus rankings.

Week 15 RR

💪 RB - Ezekiel Elliott (Patriots) vs. Chiefs

I’m easily the highest ranker on the staff on Elliott. I have him at RB13, whereas the next-highest ranker has him at RB18. What’s wrong with these other guys … and what’s wrong with me?

I can’t believe I’m high on Elliott, but it’s Week 15 in one of the weirdest NFL seasons I can remember: This is where we are.

No. 1 RB Rhamondre Stevenson (ankle) exited Week 13 with an injury after playing just 17 snaps, and then he missed Week 14. I’m skeptical that he’ll return to action this Sunday, given that he’s yet to practice since his injury.

Uncoincidentally, Elliott, over his past two games, has had back-to-back season-high snap rates (69%, 91%), which he has leveraged into 232 yards and a TD on 39 carries and 13 targets.

The Chiefs are No. 31 in defensive rush EPA (0.018).

Week 15 Stacks

Finding the right player stacks can be the key to building a profitable roster in DFS. If you want to get the jump on this weekend, James McCool from Paydirt DFS has the data to guide you for Week 15.

⚒ Value option: San Francisco 49ers

📝 Facts:

  • The 49ers are averaging 29.23 points per game and have the second-highest touchdown per-drive percentage in the league at 33% (behind only MIA at 34%).

  • Fueling that scoring engine is Brock Purdy, who has a league-best 9.90 yards per attempt to go with a pass completion rate of 70.2%, the best mark in the league for any QB averaging more than 30 dropbacks per game.

  • The trio of Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, and George Kittle take up most of the target share for the 49ers (combining for 62% of the team’s targets) and are one of the few trios in the league that average over 2% target per route run (TPRR).

📊 Stack info (DraftKings)

Stacks info

🤑 Salary and projections:

  • Combo 1 (Purdy/Samuel/Aiyuk): This lineup comes at a premium cost of $21,700, reflecting in its higher Median score of 51.72, which suggests a strong average performance level.

  • Combo 2 (Purdy/Samuel/Kittle): With a slightly reduced salary of $20,300, it presents a Median score of 48.98. The drop in price comes with a small sacrifice in the expected average performance.

  • Combo 3 (Purdy/Aiyuk/Kittle): The most affordable option at $19,800, it displays a Median score of 47.28, offering a modest reduction in projected performance while providing cost savings.

People are finally coming around to Purdy for MVP, and it’s hard to argue with his stats and the 49ers’ success as a smoking gun for his value. Granted, this offense is perfectly tailored to his skill set, and it’s the best roster in the league, but from a fantasy standpoint, we don’t really care about those things. This team continues to offer major upside, even if the target tree is a bit wide, so we need to continue to focus on them in DFS.

Week 15 Stacks

🔥 Top Finish and High Scoring Potential

  • Combo 1 (Purdy/Samuel/Aiyuk): 

    • Top 5 Finish: The likelihood is high at 43.20%, indicating a strong chance of landing among the top performers.

    • 3x% Return: With a 15.20% rate, this combination has the highest potential for tripling the investment, complementing its high Median score.

  • Combo 2 (Purdy/Samuel/Kittle):  

    • Top 5 Finish: Holds a 34.30% chance, slightly less than Combo 1 but still indicating a significant probability of a top-tier finish.

    • 3x% Return: The chance here is substantial at 16.00%, which is actually higher than Combo 1 despite a lower Median, suggesting a more efficient cost-to-performance ratio.

  • Combo 3 (Purdy/Aiyuk/Kittle): 

    • Top 5 Finish: At 25.20%, the probability for a high finish dips further, which aligns with the lowest Median score of the three.

    • 3x% Return: The potential for tripling the salary is 13.50%, the lowest among the combinations but still a respectable figure given the lowest cost.

Combo 1: Premium Combination

This is the standout choice for those prioritizing a strong average output, as indicated by the highest Median score. It offers a significant chance for a top 5 finish and has a respectable rate for a 3x return, making it well-suited for those looking to invest heavily in a potent combo.

Combo 2: Balanced Medians

This combination presents an intriguing scenario; it has a slightly lower Median and Top 5 Finish chance than Combo 1 but offers a better 3x% Return. This positions it as an optimal pick for those seeking value and performance balance.

Combo 3: Value with Upside

As the most cost-effective selection, it may appeal to those who wish to allocate their budget across various players. Despite the lower Median and Top 5 Finish potential, its 3x% Return remains competitive, signaling it as a viable option for a balanced strategy.

Can we have just one week without injuries? No. Too much to ask? OK, fine. But if you’re dealing with Q tags and want to know the latest status, check our injury report before lock!

Injury report
Watercooler

The playoffs aren’t just one week. We have to plan for today and tomorrow. Get all the strategy tips you need here!

🤕 Isiah Pacheco had surgery on his shoulder and won’t play in Week 15. CEH? McKinnon? Who ya got?

🤔 Brian Robinson out. Antonio Gibson in. Should you trust him? The boss thinks he’s a good play against LA.

😲 C.J. Stroud and Nico Collins missed Friday’s practice. Case Keenum has entered the chat. 

🦶 Tyreek Hill gets the dreaded Q tag for Week 15 after three DNPs. Get this man to 2k!

♥ Scott Fish continues to be the best of us. Look at all those toys!

⚡ Chargers look to start with a fresh front office in 2024. After Thursday night, they kinda had to do it.

The Walkthrough

An all-encompassing Week 15 preview breaking down EVERY game with an array of advanced analytics as well as devoted film analysis from a champion expert in the field who just so happens to also be a rather great writer — is that something you might be interested in?

Well, good, because Legendary Upside founder and Fantasy Life partner Pat Kerrane is here to spread the good word ahead of Week 15…

Jonathan Gannon changed things up in the Cardinals' 24-10 Week 13 win over the Steelers. He went extremely run-heavy, passing just 45% of the time, 13% less than expected.

The Cardinals have been run-first this season, but their game plan against the Steelers was their most conservative of the year. 

But Gannon isn’t going to get away with a 45% pass rate this week. He’s playing an offense that will put up points. The certainly of the 49ers' high-powered offense has turned the San Francisco defense into a pass funnel.

Passing against the 49ers is more of a necessity than something opponents enjoy doing. San Francisco is elite against the pass. They rank fifth in EPA allowed per dropback and third in quick pressure rate.

Kyler Murray has been pretty disappointing in his return from ACL surgery. It’s nice to have him back out there; not as nice to see him below Kenny Pickett in efficiency.

The Walkthrough

So we have a setup where Murray will likely be forced to drop back a lot but will have trouble attacking downfield against a defense that ranks eighth in splash zone coverage and fourth in preventing explosive passing plays. 

Murray will also need to get the ball out quickly to avoid a 49ers pass rush that ranks third in quick pressure rate. The result will generate a barrage of underneath targets… which sounds like a pretty good setup for a tight end.

Trey McBride has been unreal this year, with an elite 2.20 YPRR and an 89th percentile open score. He also leads the TE position with a 20% first-read target rate and a 26% targets per route run rate. He's operating as the Cardinals' top receiver, making his tight end designation a huge boost for fantasy.

Passing games perform worse under pressure. So the 49ers' ability to get to Murray isn’t necessarily good on its own. But if the Cardinals implement a quick passing game, it should boost McBride.

Since he took over as the starting TE in Week 8, McBride has led the Cardinals with a 31% TPRR on routes of 2.0 seconds or less. With the Cardinals' passing volume likely to balloon and Marquise Brown (heel) and Michael Wilson (shoulder) banged up, McBride looks set to rack up targets. The second-year breakout is an elite TE play.

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