In a salary-cap format, finding players that give you a bang for the buck is key to constructing a profitable lineup.
Looking ahead to Sunday, I've identified some players that I believe are undervalued based on their DraftKings price tag. In some cases, they are cheap in absolute terms, but the focus here is on relative values -- projected output versus current salary.
With that said, here are some of my favorite value plays for Week 16 (Sunday/Monday games only):
QB - Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers (at BAL), $6,800
While not necessarily a bargain-bin quarterback for the week, there is plenty of value with Big Ben this week. Ranked first overall in my Week 16 rankings, Roethlisberger is tied with Drew Brees as the sixth-most expensive DraftKings quarterback this week.
With the Steelers scoring 30-plus (real-life) points in six consecutive games, Roethlisberger has scored a minimum of 25 DraftKings points in five of those six games. In each of those 25-point outings, he has thrown for 300-plus yards, which is a three-point bonus with DK scoring. Over that six-game span, Big Ben has averaged 365.8 passing yards per game and thrown a total of 13 touchdowns.
Baltimore has allowed the eighth-most DraftKings points to opposing quarterbacks this season. Roethlisberger is as safe as can be for cash games and he has tremendous upside in tournaments as well.
QB - Blake Bortles, Jacksonville Jaguars (at NO), $6,500
Finishing with a minimum of 25.28 DK points in each of his past four games, Bortles has averaged a tad shy of 300 passing yards (299.5/G) and has thrown 11 touchdowns to only two interceptions. In addition, he has 93 rushing yards and two more scores over that stretch.
Bortles faces a Saints team that has allowed the most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season. In addition, the Saints have allowed a top-three weekly finish in six of their 14 games this season.
There are seven quarterbacks priced higher than Bortles this week, but he's third in my Week 16 rankings behind only Big Ben and Cam Newton. And the fact that he's priced so closely to Roethlisberger, Bortles ownership levels may not as high as would otherwise be the case.
QB - Ryan Fitzpatrick, New York Jets (vs. NE), $5,200
Priced only $200 above the position-minimum salary, Fitzpatrick offers plenty of bang for the buck. Excluding the game he left early due to injury, Fitzpatrick has accounted for multiple touchdowns in 11 of 13 games this season including the first time he faced the Patriots. In that game, Fitzpatrick threw for 295 yards and two scores and ran for another 29 yards.
Over his past four games, Fitzpatrick has thrown 10 touchdowns and only one interception with an average of 307.25 passing yards per game. In addition, he's averaged roughly 20 (19.75) rushing yards per game as well. With the exception of the game left early, Fitzpatrick has scored a minimum of 14 fantasy points in every game this season.
RB - David Johnson, Arizona Cardinals (vs. GB), $5,800
Scoring a league-most 47.9 DraftKings points in Week 15, Johnson rushed for 187 yards and three touchdowns and added four catches for 42 yards as well. It would be unreasonable to expect a repeat performance, but he has been consistently productive since taking over as the team's lead back three weeks ago.
Over his past three games, Johnson has a minimum of 24 touches and 110 yards from scrimmage in each of those games. And despite a limited number of touches (135) this season, Johnson has scored a total of 12 touchdowns -- seven rushing, four receiving and one return.
There are 10 running backs with a higher salary than Johnson, but three of them won't play this weekend. That said, there are not seven running backs better than DJ this weekend.
RB - Charcandrick West, Kansas City Chiefs (vs. CLE), $5,700
Against the Ravens on Sunday, West carried the ball 16 times for 76 yards and a touchdown plus he added two catches for nine yards. It was his best performance and largest workload since departing early in a Week 11 matchup against the Chargers.
Before his injury, West had a minimum of 24 touches and 22 DK points in three straight games. It's unlikely that he gets 24 or more touches this week, but the matchup against the Browns is favorable. In addition, the Chiefs are favored by double digits so they should be playing with a lead for much of the game.
RB - Frank Gore, Indianapolis Colts (at MIA), $4,000
While I wouldn't roll Gore out in my cash lineups, Gore has a favorable matchup as he returns home to Miami. Only the Saints and 49ers have allowed more fantasy points to opposing running backs than the Dolphins, who have allowed 132.1 rushing yards per game and 10 rushing touchdowns.
Averaging only 2.81 yards per carry over his past seven games, the good news is that Gore has a minimum of 16 touches in each of those games with an average of 20.57/G during that stretch. With his consistent usage rate and favorable matchup, Gore is worth a flier in tournaments.
RB - Bilal Powell, New York Jets (vs. NE), $3,900
Over the past three weeks, Powell has been extremely productive -- perhaps more so than you have realized. In fact, he's been a top-12 fantasy running back each week in standard-scoring formats. Here's the list of running backs with three top-12 weekly finishes over the past three weeks: Bilal Powell.
End of list.
With 20 receptions on 25 targets for 191 yards during that span, Powell has been even better in PPR (DraftKings) scoring. Powell has a minimum of five catches and 19.2 DraftKings points in each of those three games. While he may not continue his streak of 20-point games, it's highly likely that he exceeds value on his below-$4,000 salary, offering salary-cap relief to load up elsewhere.
- Related Poll: Will Powell finish as a top-24 RB (standard scoring) in Week 16?
RB - Rashad Jennings, New York Giants (at MIN), $3,500
Another NY (or NJ) running back should provide DFSers with plenty of production and salary-cap relief this week. Spending most of the season as part of a four-man rotation, Jennings has seen a spike in workload over the past two weeks. In those two games, he has a minimum of 17 touches each week and a total of 41.
Although he lost a fumble last week against the Panthers, it was his most productive outing of the season. Jennings rushed 16 times for 107 yards and a touchdown to score 19.7 DK points. It's not too often that a 20-touch back is available for the discounted salary of $3,500 even though the matchup isn't necessarily favorable.
WR - Jeremy Maclin, Kansas City Chiefs (vs. CLE), $6,000
Maclin has a minimum of six catches and 50 yards in four consecutive games and he has scored a total of four touchdowns during that span. During that four-game span, Maclin has averaged 23.53 DraftKings points per contest with a minimum of 12.6 in each of those games. Ranked as a top-10 wideout for Week 16, Maclin is priced lower than 16 other wide receivers on DraftKings this week. The Browns have allowed the seventh-most fantasy points (DK scoring) to opposing receivers this season.
WR - Martavis Bryant, Pittsburgh Steelers (at BAL), $5,600
Without question, Bryant's teammate, Antonio Brown, is the clear-cut top fantasy receiver for Week 16. That said, few receivers (on other teams) have a better outlook than Bryant. The Ravens have allowed third-most DraftKings points to opposing receivers this season. Over their past nine games, Baltimore has allowed opposing receivers to haul in 18 touchdowns.
Held without a touchdown in back-to-back games, Bryant had a total of six touchdowns in his first seven games this season. In addition, the second-year wideout has the longest reception of 2014 (94 yards) and 2015 (88 yards). While he's one of the best big-play receivers in the NFL, Bryant has double-digit targets in three of five games and is averaging 9.56 targets per game on the year. While Bryant is my ninth-ranked receiver this week, there are 23 with a lower salary.
WR - Kamar Aiken, Baltimore Ravens (vs. PIT), $5,400
It's not only Bryant and the Steelers receivers that have a favorable matchup in this game. In fact, the Steelers have allowed the most DraftKings points to the position this season. Coming off an 8/128/1 performance against the Chiefs last week, Aiken has a minimum of five catches and has scored double-digit fantasy points in seven consecutive games.
WR - Markus Wheaton, Pittsburgh Steelers (at BAL), $4,100
With teammates Brown and Bryant such strong plays this week, Wheaton will be relatively overlooked, but he's certainly a fine option in his own right. Kicking off a four-game stretch with a career-best 201-yard performance against the Seahawks, Wheaton has a total of 22 catches, 378 yards and three touchdowns over that span. Not only does he have a minimum of 50 yards in each of those games, but he has scored in three of the four and he's averaging 9.25 targets over that stretch.
WR - Rueben Randle, New York Giants (at MIN), $3,500
Randle has scored and finished with double-digit fantasy points in back-to-back games and in four of his past six games. Averaging only 5.57 targets per game, Randle should see that volume spike with the one-game suspension of Odell Beckham Jr. Priced only $500 above minimum salary, Randle should easily exceed value this week.
TE - Julius Thomas, Jacksonville Jaguars (at NO), $5,100
Thomas has the best matchup on the board as no team has allowed more fantasy points to the position than the Saints. Over his past five games, Thomas has scored more than 13 fantasy points in four of five weeks and has a total of 27 catches for 292 yards and four touchdowns over that stretch.
TE - Will Tye, New York Giants (at MIN), $3,500
Tye has finished as a top-10 weekly tight end in three consecutive games. In addition, Tye has five-plus catches in four of five games and he has either 50-plus yards or a score in all five consecutive games. He has scored double-digit fantasy points in five consecutive games. With OBJ sidelined this week, Tye should see a bump in targets and extend his streak of games with at least 10 DraftKings points.
- Week 16 DFS DraftKings Cheat Sheet
Week 16 Fantasy Football Rankings:
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