It’s December in the 2021 season, and Week 15 brings us our first DraftKings Saturday Slate. You know it’s getting to the business end of the season when you can get a whole weekend of NFL action. And, for us in the UK, you can be tired on Sunday and Monday staying up for the games!
The DraftKings slate has two games in it, with Las Vegas @Cleveland having an O/U of just 38.5 points, and New England @Indianapolis 46.0 points. With the Cleveland roster in particular being hit by COVID, there are a lot of different ways you could play the slate.
The important thing is to have fun! I’ve previewed both games with players that you should consider for your lineups.
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Las Vegas @Cleveland
This game I have zero clue how it is going to go truly. It’s been massively hit by COVID, with Cleveland now down to their third-string QB. When you get to that point on the depth chart, it can go one of two ways.
The thing is either way, both QBs are worth selecting, for very different reasons. Derek Carr ($6,400) has been airing the ball out all season, and is set to go up against a struggling secondary. Even without Darren Waller, who has been ruled out, the offense still has weapons it can use through the air. As I mentioned, COVID has smashed the Cleveland depth chart at QB, meaning Nick Mullens ($4,000) is set to play his first game since Week 15 of the 2020 season. At the price, on this reduced slate he is worth considering for no other reason than he is cheap and allows you to pay up for some more elite pieces.
Speaking of elite pieces, both of the running backs in this game are very much in play. Nick Chubb ($7,800) is going to be putting the offense on his back, especially with Kareem Hunt ruled out of the game. When Hunt was unavailable earlier in the season, a three-game streak, he had a total of 328 yards and 3 TDs on the ground, with another 5 receptions for 48 yards and another TD. Given Hunt’s unavailability, D’Ernest Johnson ($4,800) is worth considering in GPP’s as he is going to be used as a relief back.
Josh Jacobs ($6,600) has really been showing that he can be used as a pass-catcher. The usage in the passing game, and the expectation of Las Vegas performing well in this game, makes him a strong candidate. With the number of players that are being hit with COVID, this Cleveland defense could be missing even more players on defense.
Staying with Las Vegas, Hunter Renfrow ($7,300) is a player that you should be looking at to build your lineups around. With Darren Waller out of the lineup, he has been on fire. Target share, production and redzone looks, there is nothing he can’t do. This is a great matchup for him too, as Cleveland have struggled to limit production to slot receivers this season. If you want more of a punt play, you could opt for Bryan Edwards ($3,400) who has been used as a downfield threat for the team this season. Cleveland’s secondary have given up plenty of big plays this season.
If you wanted to bring it back with a Cleveland receiver, it has to be Donovan Peoples-Jones ($4,500). He is the only usable receiver, but he is still a really risky play. Don’t forget that while he might see an increase in targets, the guy throwing the ball is the third-string QB. If you wanted to opt for a TE from the Browns, you can grab David Njoku ($2,800) as a cheap option. He has been priced like that as he was expected to be the backup for Austin Hooper, but Hooper has just been added to the COVID list.
With all of the players out with COVID, the cheapest DST Las Vegas ($3,000) are very much in play, and will be in my lineups more often than not. I can’t really rely on Cleveland ($3,100) given the number of players that are being ruled out due to COVID on the team.
New England @Indianapolis
The later matchup hasn’t been hit with COVID too badly (as of yet). The game to me looks like one that both defenses will be attempting to get dominance in.
Paying up for Jonathan Taylor ($9,200) seems like the obvious move. He is just too important to the offense to not be involved. The negative is that the New England defense is great against RBs. But then, so was Buffalo’s until Taylor. Oh, and the same with Tampa Bay. So, it’s fair to say he feels matchup proof.
With Damien Harris not ruled out of the game, Rhamondre Stevenson ($4,900) is a great option. The Patriots offense has looked to establish the run, and Stevenson has shown his ability to shoulder a full workload. The volume will certainly be there, it’s whether the production will follow against this tough defense.
The passing game of both teams is going to be hit-or-miss. Rookie Mac Jones ($5,400) has been doing what he needs to from a real-life perspective, but it’s not something you can rely on for fantasy. Veteran Carson Wentz ($6,000) has been inconsistent this season, but could see increased usage if the running game is taken away from the team. But I’m not feeling confident in starting either of these QBs.
I’m feeling more confident in Michael Pittman ($5,900) though as he has been having a great season as the primary pass-catcher for the team. He is likely to have increased coverage, but you can still trust him at this price-tag, given his importance to the team. For New England, the passing game flows through Kendrick Bourne ($5,300) and Jakobi Meyers ($5,100) Bourne is the redzone guy that has been extremely efficient with his targets as a result. Conversely, Meyers has been racking up receptions for the team, but only scored a single TD. But I’m not feeling great about the choices, given how the New England offense can spread the ball.
Outside of that, you are shooting for a TD with limited yardage with the TE’s Hunter Henry ($4,200), Jonnu Smith ($3,000), and Jack Doyle ($2,900) all in play. But on the slate, I prefer Njoku mentioned above.
Image Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski – USA TODAY Sports