We will get to the Week 15 daily fantasy football (DFS) picks, but I have a few things I need to tell you, including a little secret that most DFS specialists would never admit. The bombshell is that I don't win that much money playing DFS.
That's not to say I don't know my stuff. It's not to say that I don't have a good winning percentage or even a decent ROI. But the truth is that most weeks, my net winnings total about $3. That's because I can only afford to play about $10 a week. I wish I could play with a higher stake, but two millionaire-maker entries represent a tremendous percentage of my weekly income. Or similar to Arrested Development's Mr. Wendal, "$2 is a lot to me but a snack to you." And those weeks where I do win say a few hundred dollars? I have to transfer it out immediately to pay the mountain of debts I have. Which brings me to what I want to tell all of you, especially with the Judeo-Christian winter solstice holidays less than two weeks away. If you are considering giving to those less fortunate than you, don't consider anymore, just do it.
And we all get bombarded with messages about giving this season, but you almost never hear how appreciative the recipients are. But I can tell you firsthand that those less fortunate appreciate anything and everything you can do. We are eternally grateful. We hope someday to be able to pay it back or at least forward. Ok, enough preaching, onto the picks so maybe you can help your own fortunes as well.
Week 15 DFS Picks
Safe QB: Baker Mayfield vs. Cardinals (DK $6400, FD $7700)
Mayfield started the year on many owners' naughty list, but just in time for the holiday season, he's definitely on my nice list. No team is giving up more fantasy points to quarterbacks than Arizona. You could say the Arizona defense is the gift that keeps on giving. And at these prices, Mayfield this week is no exception.
High Risk/Reward QB: Drew Lock at Chiefs (DK $5700, FD $7400)
The idea of a rookie quarterback going to Arrowhead is a scary proposition. But if the NFL's 12th-best defense can somehow keep Patrick Mahomes and company in check, I think Lock can have some success. Lock is coming off a three-TD, 300-yard game last week. Despite being better in recent weeks, Kansas City is still only 17th in preventing fantasy points to quarterbacks. Both sites have Lock priced outside of the top dozen options. Black Friday is over, but I know a good buy when I see one! And you gotta love a quarterback whose signature celebration replicates a toy!
Safe RB: Chris Carson at Panthers (DK: $7500, FD: $7400)
The Panthers are the equivalent of a dead man walking. They have not been good at defending the run before Ron RIvera got fired and that hasn't changed. They are giving up the most fantasy points to RBs. Carson has 38 carries the last two weeks and Rashaad Penny (torn ACL) is no longer around to steal carries or vulture touchdowns from him. Pete Carroll loves to run the ball. I would be shocked if Carson doesn't hit the century mark this week. I like him on both sites this week, but he's an even better play on FanDuel.
High Risk/Reward RB: Patrick Laird at Giants (DK: $4500, FD: $5500)
Laird was in this spot last week and responded with a game worthy of his price. The sites raised his salary about 10 percent, so I'm going to put him in this spot again. He's touched the ball 33 times the past two weeks. I'm keeping my expectations low for Laird, but I definitely think he hits value this week.
Safe WR: Chris Godwin at Lions (DK: $7700, FD: $8400)
Godwin has more than 1,200 receiving yards and nine touchdowns already. Stud player? Check. Mike Evans is out for this week, meaning Godwin should easily see double-digit targets this week. Heavily involved in the game plan? Check. Detroit is giving up the ninth-most fantasy points to WRs. Good matchup? Check. Three checks mean money to me!
High Risk/Reward WR: Darius Slayton vs. Miami (DK: $4700, FD: $6300)
This might seem like chasing points. But Slayton is one of the few Giant receivers who has done well with both Daniel Jones and Eli Manning. The sites still have him priced liked the third or fourth receiving option on the Giants. He is more of a big-play kind of WR than a 10-catch, 90-yard kind of guy. However, Miami is still giving up the most points per game. Slayton is the perfect GPP play.
Safe TE: George Kittle vs. Falcons (DK: $6200, FD: $7200)
Kittle is an absolute beast. I am presuming you've seen this?
I have him as the top TE option on the board this week. Going against the NFL's 24th-ranked pass defense, I don't think this selection needs further explanation.
High Risk/Reward TE: David Njoku at Arizona (DK: $4200, FD: $5500)
Njoku finally returned from injury after a lengthy stay on injured reserve. He contributed one measly catch for four yards. I'm not sure Njoku is even 100 percent healed from the wrist injury. However, as discussed above, Arizona's pass defense is terrible. And we all know that it's fared even worse against tight ends. Or if you didn't, now you do. Either way, I'm willing to gamble at these prices that the trend continues.
Safe DST: Seahawks at Panthers (DK: $3700, FD: $4700)
I already talked about how the Panthers are a lifeless team above. Seattle also was my "headliner" defense this week in my DST rankings. Seattle is a top-10 fantasy DST for a reason. Their secondary is one of the better ones and is tied for third in interceptions. Plus, Kyle Allen has more interceptions (12) than starts (11) this year, and he's been sacked 44 times as well. The Seahawks DST doesn't have the ceiling that some other options do this week, but it does possess one of the highest floors.
High Risk/Reward DST: Rams at Cowboys (DK: $2900, FD: $3600)
And one of those high-ceiling DSTs is the Rams. However, I don't love taking DSTs on the road against home teams in "must-win" situations. Not that the Rams' defense has been great at home either, having given up 100 combined points at home to the Ravens and Buccaneers. And for all its woes, Dallas remains the NFL's No. 1 offense. I was a little surprised to see that, because I know we all see the NFC like this...
But it's true, no team has racked up more yards per game than Dallas. However, the Rams just shut down Russell Wilson, limiting the Seahawks to only 12 points. That's no easy feat. Plus the Rams are currently the NFL's seventh-ranked defense and are actually fourth in fantasy points in one of my seasonal leagues. So yeah, take the Rams and watch your fortunes rise. We could all use that this time of year!
— Written by Mark Strausberg, a member of the Athlon Network Contributor, who despite his youthful exuberance and good looks has been playing fantasy sports before Wildcats or Hoosiers even made it to VHS. Got a fantasy sports question or thought? Hit him up on Twitter @MarkStrausberg.