Week 16 Saturday Late Slate Fantasy Preview

  • Commanders (+6.5) @ 49ers (-300), O/U: 37.5

     

    Commanders @ 49ers

    Pregame Stories/What to Watch For

    While the Niners do have the NFC West title clinched, they are still looking to improve to the No. 2 seed that the Vikings currently hold with a one-game advantage. For fantasy purposes, this means the Niners still very much have something to play for, so I wouldn’t expect head coach Kyle Shanahan to sit any starters in Week 16. Fantasy managers should still feel good about proceeding with Niners in their playoff semifinal lineups. The Commanders, meanwhile, remain in the wild card hunt despite failing to get a single win against the Giants over their last two games. It’ll be an uphill battle for Ron Rivera’s crew against the white-hot defense led by DeMeco Ryans that has limited teams to the 2nd-fewest points over the past three games.

     

    Top Starts

     

    WR Brandon Aiyuk

    I know Aiyuk may be hard to trust for managers who got burned (including yours truly) by him last week in Seattle (2-19-0). But, did you know that Aiyuk was actually the lone pass-catcher to run a route on 100% of Brock Purdy’s dropbacks? Yeah, not even George Kittle (4-93-2 line but ran a route on 89% of dropbacks) can say that. Now, I know we’re not awarding fantasy points per route run here, but it’s an important thing to keep in mind especially considering that the Commanders actually have allowed the fewest fantasy points to opposing tight ends on the season. So, if the coverage becomes too tight on Kittle like it has for many tight ends who have faced Washington this year (ie. Dallas Goedert, Dalton Schultz, Evan Engram, Cole Kmet), Purdy could look Aiyuk’s way enough for the wideout to deliver a flex-worthy floor with a WR2 ceiling. The Commanders are just league-average on the season in opponent yards per completion allowed, and the deep balls are what Aiyuk thrives on (12.9 YPR).

     

    WR Terry McLaurin

    One of the most talked-about storylines of the past week has been the costly illegal formation penalty that McLaurin was assessed despite him thinking that he’d gotten the thumbs up from the line judge. I expect McLaurin to come out with a chip on his shoulder after that debacle and put up a strong performance against a Niners defense that is excellent overall but is one that has allowed the 9th-most receiving yards to pass-catchers over the past three games. CB Charvarius Ward (3rd-best overall graded CB per PFF) will undoubtedly be a tough cover, but McLaurin has a clear size advantage and should get ample target share from Taylor Heinicke especially with Jimmie Ward projecting to be a much tougher matchup for Curtis Samuel in the slot. McLaurin is a low-end WR1.

     

    Boom/Bust Dart-Throws

     

    RB Jordan Mason

    I know I sound like a broken record at this point with how many times I’ve put Mason in this dart-throw section over the course of the season, but it’s not my fault that he keeps building more momentum to justify it. Now I do need to preface this with the fact that Mason is being listed as questionable with some hamstring tightness, so this is all only if he can ultimately play (if he can’t, then Tyrion Davis-Price and Tevin Coleman become TD-dependent minimum-cost DFS considerations). In the beginning of this preview I know I said that it was unlikely that Shanahan would sit any starters, but that doesn’t mean that he can’t scale back Christian McCaffrey’s workload a bit to make sure he’s at full strength for the deep playoff run the Niners are trying to make. Mason has topped 51 yards rushing in three consecutive weeks, and while that’s not much and the receiving work is nonexistent, I predict that this week will be the week Mason sets a new career-high in carries with something in the 12-15 range. The low projected point total tells me that this is likely to be a defensive game in the trenches for both teams, and Shanahan will want to control the clock against his former team without running CMC into the ground. Look Mason’s way if you’re in need of a flex flier in deeper leagues.

     

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    Eagles (+4.5) @ Cowboys (-200), O/U: 46.5

     

    Eagles @ Cowboys

    Pregame Stories/What to Watch For

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