The Vikings play on Christmas Day so if you want to go bold you should start Kyle Rudolph... or you could be smart and spend the money on Dalvin Cook
The Week 16 daily fantasy (DFS) football picks for the special Friday and Saturday games got me thinking about Christmas movies. There are some bad ones (I'm looking at you "Jingle All The Way") and some great ones. I triple-dog-dare ya to try to convince me that any are better than "Christmas Story." There are even ones that spur never-ending debate, such as the infamous "Is 'Die Hard' a Christmas movie"?
Quickly, if your criteria is simply does the movie take place during Christmas time, the answer is definitely yes. But so is "The Princess Bride." Watch it again — there is snow on the ground and holiday decorations up both in Fred Savage's character's room and across the street. Otherwise, it becomes very criteria-dependent.
The point I'm trying to make here though is that DFS, like debating Christmas movies, is extremely subjective and depends on your viewpoint. Suppose you think Tom Brady is the far superior quarterback to Drew Brees and you would never play the latter over the former. And let's be blunt — for many, this is not just a hypothetical, but a reality. But if that's the case, am I really going to be able to convince you otherwise?
Therefore, all I ask you to do is "listen" to these picks and balance them with your own viewpoints. During this holiday season, one of the things we surely can give on another is a chance to express a different viewpoint. Yes, I'm talking about something bigger than fantasy football. And while on that note, I want to extend a Happy Holidays to all of you. My gift to you is I have smattered a bunch of Christmas songs throughout the article for your listening pleasure.
Here's hoping that my Week 16 DFS picks for Friday and Saturday make it an even happier holiday.
Safe Quarterback Week 16 Friday/Saturday Pick
Tom Brady, Buccaneers at Lions (DraftKings $6800, FanDuel $8000)
Admit it, you thought I was going to recommend someone else here! But this pick is less about TB12 and much more about the fact that he has by far the best matchup and therefore floor of any QB playing before Sunday.
Brady, somewhat by the skin of his teeth, has managed to throw two touchdown passes in seven of his last eight games including all of his last five. But that's his floor given this matchup. Detroit has knocked Atlanta from the "pedestal" of best fantasy matchup for an offensive player. Yes, Detroit's opposition has run a ton of plays (66.0 per game). However, the Lions are also allowing 1.60 PPR points per offensive play. That is quite the production per play, leading to often huge scores. Interestingly, Tampa Bay also is scoring an equivalent 1.60 PPR points per offensive play, which is fourth-best this season.
Furthermore, all but one of the last four quarterbacks who played Detroit have posted 30-plus fantasy points. The Lions have given up the fourth-most fantasy points per game (21.56) to opposing signal-callers. Even though RBs are scoring more TDs against Detroit than any other defense, the Lions are still being scorched for the fourth-most TD passes to opposing quarterbacks. Only Detroit and two other teams (Dallas and Jacksonville) have allowed higher than a 6.0 percent touchdown rate. Filtering out QB rushing production, the Lions have allowed an insanely high 0.557 fantasy points per actual pass attempt. Should Brady see his season average of more than 38 pass attempts at that rate, he'll score more than 21 fantasy points. As I said, Brady has by far the best floor of any of the eight QB options playing Friday or Saturday.
High Risk/Reward Quarterback Week 16 Friday/Saturday Pick
Kyler Murray, Cardinals vs. 49ers (DK $7500, FD $8700)
I however prefer some risk-taking. And I appreciate the Pogues for example taking a little risk with this Christmas ditty about the holidays in NYC:
After all, how many Christmas songs talk about a break-up and include "scumbag" and "maggot" in it? Certainly my favorite Christmas song with those words in it!
Anyway, any time you take a risk on the most expensive player available at a position, you had better hope he is worth the cost. And I think Murray will produce. Despite still being pretty high, Murray's price is a little deflated due to his recent stretch of battling a shoulder injury. Forget any stats, Murray wasn't passing the eye test, but we could see him looking a little better each of the last few weeks. And I'm willing to say that he is fully recovered after completing 27 of 36 attempts for 400-plus yards and three touchdowns last week. And that's in addition to the touchdown he ran in himself. Which if even if Murray's shoulder is still not 100 percent, I have full confidence in him providing fantasy points with his legs. Cam Newton was the only QB to have double-digit rushing touchdowns and at least 25 passing TDs in a season. Murray has now joined him on that list.
I'd happily start Murray.
Safe Running Back Week 16 Friday/Saturday Pick
Dalvin Cook, Vikings at Saints (DK $8800, FD $9700)
This might actually be a bit of a risky pick, as the Saints have one of the better run defenses. However, that seems to be less of the case recently. Philadelphia and Kansas City rumbled for a combined 267 yards and three touchdowns against the Saints over the last two weeks. Furthermore, Cook's two most recent opponents, the Buccaneers and Falcons, were also believed to pretty good run defenses. Yet Cook ran roughshod over each of them as well. That is now three games in a row over the century mark for Cook. Cook could easily have the Saints singin' the blues.
And speaking of the blues, we go from one Cook to a singer who could "cook" as well. One of the better solo Christmas albums out there; enjoy one of the greats:
High Risk/Reward Running Back Week 16 Friday/Saturday Pick
Myles Gaskin, Dolphins at Raiders (DK $5300, FD $6600)
There is the risk that this backfield turns into an RBBC/timeshare situation. But up until this point, Gaskin and Salvon Ahmed have yet to share the workload in the same week. So I am going to go out on a limb and say Gaskin remains the primary back simply because he's done it for most of the season. And should that be the case, I like what Gaskin has done with a full load, having scored a TD or rushed for 90-plus yards in each of his last four games.
The matchup is pretty good too. The Raiders have allowed the sixth-highest mark of 1.53 PPR points per offensive snap to their opponents. That includes eight rushing TDs to RBs during their last five games. And this isn't a new trend, but it has gone from bad to worse. Over the course of the season, they’ve allowed a rushing touchdown every 18.1 carries. No other team has been higher. I would definitely take a chance and trot Gaskin out this week.
And speaking of "run," that reminds me of one of my favorite Christmas songs...
Safe Wide Receiver Week 16 Friday/Saturday Pick
Brandon Aiyuk, 49ers at Cardinals (DK $6700, FD $7800)
In Aiyuk's last six games he has scored at least 19 PPR fantasy points. Some of that is because he's seen double-digit targets in four of his last five games, but that's simply another reason to start him this week. Even though C.J. Beathard will be starting in place of Nick Mullens (who replaced Jimmy Garoppolo), expect Aiyuk to be heavily involved in the game plan. He is a legitimate WR1.
Brandon Aiyuk now has either 100 yards receiving or a TD in 7 straight games. That’s what WR1s do. #49ers— Coach Yac ð£ (@Coach_Yac) December 20, 2020
High Risk/Reward Receiver Week 16 Friday/Saturday Pick
Marquez Callaway, Saints vs. Vikings (DK $3000, FD $4800)
One of the bigger concerns with Drew Brees this week is the lack of weapons. However, Brees has a tendency to spread things around to various targets. And therefore any WR is a bit of a dice throw, thus why not take a chance on Callaway? He was activated off of injured reserve on Wednesday and with Tre'Quan Smith going on it and Michael Thomas already there, Callaway figures to be thrown right back into the mix. I have no intention of playing Callaway in a cash game entry, but I am definitely liking his upside this week. Callaway is a big-bodied (6-2, 204) receiver, but he also surprised many with his 4.56 speed in the 40 at the Scouting Combine.
His route-running is a little suspect, but a big, fast WR with good hands? Yeah, I think Brees might look his way a few times this game. It's not like he hasn't before. In Week 7, Brees fired the ball his way 10 times and Callaway caught eight of those passes for 75 yards. Callaway is a bit of punt play, but if healthy, he's my "Collin Johnson call" for this week.
Safe Tight End Week 16 Friday/Saturday Pick
Jordan Reed, 49ers at Cardinals (DK $2900, FD $5300)
I wouldn't fault you for going with T.J. Hockenson or Darren Waller here, but I'd rather save some money at TE and spend up elsewhere. Enter the jolly old man... Jordan Reed!
Reed is having a better season than you think after missing all of last year. Reed has four touchdowns, including a pair of scores in two of his last three games. The knock on Reed has never been his talent, it's always been that he can't stay healthy. Well, he's healthy coming into this game. And with the 49ers having an implied total of more than 21 points, I would not be surprised to see Reed score again on Saturday.
I'm going to assume that George Kittle doesn't play. If he does, you can throw this pick out with all your gift-wrapping on Saturday. And if you're dealing with Christmas wrapping...
High Risk/Reward Tight End Week 16 Friday/Saturday Pick
Dan Arnold, Cardinals vs. 49ers (DK $3200, FD $5000)
Kyle Rudolphi would be more appropriate since the Vikings are playing on Christmas Day, but I digress... If you liked my Kyler Murray pick, you might want to consider an Arizona stack and make Arnold a part of it. Over the last three weeks, Arnold has been the sixth-most productive fantasy TE. Some of that is TD-driven, as he has three over the last three weeks. He didn't score last week but still saw a season-high five targets. There is obviously some risk with Arnold, but with at least five or six TEs priced higher, it's a low-cost risk with huge upside, i.e. a perfect GPP pick.
Safe Defense/Special Teams (DST) Week 16 Friday/Saturday Pick
Buccaneers at Lions (DK $3800, FD $4200)
Tampa Bay has the fourth-most sacks in the NFL with 43. Only seven teams have allowed more sacks than Detroit. I feel pretty confident predicting that the Buccaneers get a few more sacks on Saturday.
High Risk/Reward Defense/Special Teams (DST) Week 16 Friday/Saturday Pick
Cardinals vs. 49ers (DK $3300, FD $4800)
It is a good thing Santa doesn't have to decide if the Arizona D/ST is deserving of anything from his workshop. Because this unit has been both naughty and nice. Some weeks they have barely eked out positive points on either site, making them about as desirable as Aunt Clara's gifts are to Ralphie. Other weeks, they've put up almost 20 points, making them more fun than a Red Rider BB gun!
But do the 49ers scare you? Yeah, me neither. They have the second-most INTs as three different quarterbacks have seen action this season and it's the third-stringer starting the rest of the way. They've been a little better on the rushing side, but they have the eighth-worst conversion rate on first down when running the ball and Raheem Mostert is out. I like C.J. Beathard as a value play this week at quarterback. But is that stopping me from plugging the Cardinals in at DST? Nope.
And finally, I will leave my final thoughts in this Week 16 DFS article to Bill Bellichick, that well-known crooner, who does echo my sentiments to you this holiday weekend:
— 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.