There will be NFL football on a Saturday again, and this time it is on Christmas Day. We’ll have a nice day of sports to enjoy between the two-game NFL slate and the usual Christmas NBA action. We have some excellent contests throughout the industry, including a million dollars up-top on DraftKings. We will also have single-game showdown contests for each game. This analysis applies to the two-game slate, but much can be used for the single-game NFL showdown contests as well. Let’s get into it.
CLE (19.25) @ GB (26.75)
Here we have what should be Baker Mayfield and the Browns going into Green Bay to take on the Aaron Rodgers-led Packers. Mayfield is not guaranteed to play, nor is Jarvis Landry, but they are both eligible to come off the COVID list and should be active. The Packers are sizable favorites and should take care of business here. I would expect ownership to reflect this, although ownership projections have yet to be updated throughout the industry. Rodgers should be a popular QB option here, while Mayfield would serve as a GPP leverage play. You do get a considerable discount on Mayfield and gain a lot of freedom to spend up elsewhere in your lineup by using him. If he were to have a good game, it could pay off in droves.
The only legitimately relevant running backs in this game are Nick Chubb, Aaron Jones, and AJ Dillon. D’Ernest Johnson will get a little bit of work for Cleveland but is a deep tournament flier at best. Both teams have been relatively attackable on the ground, so this is a good spot for their respective running games. Chubb is the most appealing option as he will get the majority of the work barring injury. The Green Bay backfield has become very muddy lately. AJ Dillon is taking on closer to co-lead back responsibilities alongside Aaron Jones. It is pretty hard to trust either of them, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the field gravitate toward Dillon at his cheaper price tag. It wouldn’t be the most ridiculous thing in the world to play both of them on a two-game slate. This will be an unusual construction that much of the field will shy away from, giving us some leverage in GPPs.
In the receiving game, Davante Adams should be the top spend-up on the slate and one of, if not the most rostered player overall. There aren’t a lot of stars to pay up for, and Adams fits the bill. Like Cooper Kupp on Tuesday’s two-game slate, I wouldn’t be surprised to see ownership in the 90% range, so playing or not playing Adams is a crucial question in GPPs. Allen Lazard has taken on a somewhat more consistent role for Green Bay of late and is a decent secondary option. Marquez Valdes-Scantling may or may not play, depending on if he clears the COVID protocols. Assuming Valdes-Scantling does take the field, Green Bay’s receiving options other than Davante Adams become thinner. One could take a pure tournament flier on Equanimeous St. Brown and hope he breaks off a huge play, mainly if Valdes-Scantling is out. The Browns passing game leaves much to be desired, but we should see reasonable ownership on Jarvis Landry due to the sheer lack of options on the two-gamer. Donovan Peoples-Jones and Rashard Higgins are tournament options at best.
There isn’t a ton to love at the tight end position here, considering both teams employ timeshares. David Njoku and Austin Hooper share snaps for the Browns, while Josiah Deguara and Marcedes Lewis split work for Green Bay. On a two-game slate, anything can happen, and any of these guys can have big games, but they aren’t great options in a vacuum.
I would expect the Green Bay defense to be pretty popular since this appears to be the most lopsided spot on the slate. They are the most expensive defense, but there isn’t much need for salary savings. Playing a different DST may be a good move in large-field tournaments.
IND (24) @ ARI (25)
This matchup between Indianapolis and Arizona has the closer spread of the two games. It would appear to have a higher likelihood of shooting out. At quarterback, we get one of the better DFS QBs in the NFL in Kyler Murray at home, taking on Carson Wentz and the Colts. While Wentz has been nothing fantastic in real life at this stage in his career, he can spike some high-upside fantasy performances from time to time. He is undoubtedly viable on this slate at a considerable discount from Kyler Murray and Aaron Rodgers. I would expect him to get considerably higher ownership than Baker Mayfield. Still, he should probably come at some ownership discount from Murray and Rodgers, considering that salary savings are not greatly needed on this slate.
In the running game, we have what should be the chalkiest player on the slate outside Davante Adams in Colts work-horse RB Jonathan Taylor. Nyheim Hines will mainly mix into the passing game and is a deep GPP option at best. This is another spot where a player is very hard to avoid when trying to make the best lineups, yet should be 80+%-owned, warranting some tournament fade consideration. On the Arizona side, James Conner is questionable but likely to play. Conner was a solid option for a minute there with Chase Edmonds out, but now we are back to a split backfield for the Cardinals. Edmonds is considerably cheaper than Conner despite projecting similarly, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him pick up more ownership for this reason. The perception is that Edmonds has more upside in DFS, yet Conner gets most of the touchdown equity. They are entirely playable together on this small slate as well.
The WR1s in this game in Christian Kirk and Michael Pittman should be very popular by default. AJ Green is not a terribly different play than Kirk yet should gain considerably less ownership on the Arizona side. This is an excellent tournament pivot. Rondale Moore is more of a GPP punt but does gain a bit more relevance with DeAndre Hopkins on the shelf. T.Y. Hilton and Zach Pascal are deep GPP options for the Colts and only in play since this is a two-game slate.
The Colts employ a timeshare between Mo Alie-Cox and Jack Doyle at the tight end position, making it a less than optimal situation to target. Zach Ertz for Arizona is the only genuinely viable tight-end on this slate and should be highly chalky by default. There is a lot of leverage to be had in any other tight-end if Ertz busts.
As previously alluded to, I expect the Green Bay defense to be highly rostered and the Colts/Cardinals game to be more targeted for the offense. Either DST here should be a decent option in GPPs. It is entirely acceptable to play players against your defense on two-game slates. In fact, it is arguably advisable since getting different is so important, and some will avoid it even though it can be optimal depending on the lineup.
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