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DraftKings core players for Week 15

There are a host of great plays this week for daily fantasy. We take you through some of the safest to help build your team’s core.

Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson sets up to throw during the second quarter against the Denver Broncos at NRG Stadium. John Glaser-USA TODAY Sports

When researching DraftKings, I usually end up with a set of core players that end up running through all of my lineups. Typically, they are consistent fantasy producers in good matchups or have value due to an injury. You will likely see them across the fantasy football blogosphere because, well, they’re core plays for a lot of people. We could probably call them chalk plays too, so there is a good reason to lean toward cash games with these types of players, but even in GPPs, I want consistent and high-upside plays, and sometimes my core players might not be fully in the chalk column. Let’s get to it.

Quarterbacks

Jameis Winston ($6,900), Deshaun Watson ($6,800), Ryan Tannehill ($6,500), Baker Mayfield ($6,400), Kyler Murray ($5,600), Derek Carr ($5,600), Eli Manning (5,200)

Deshaun Watson

Both Watson and Tannehill have good matchups as their teams face each other in a critical real life matchup. I like both this week but Watson has more upside with no Derrick Henry to feed and more rushing touchdowns under his belt. The Titans defense is good but they have suffered injuries in their secondary, leaving them vulnerable to the pass of late. They are also more of a pass funnel team as it is, ranking 5th in DVOA against the run and 23rd against the pass.

Running Backs

Christian McCaffrey ($10,000), Dalvin Cook ($8,900), Derrick Henry ($8,500), Chris Carson ($7,500), Josh Jacobs ($7,000), Phillip Lindsay ($5,600), James White ($5,400), Raheem Mostert ($5,200), Patrick Laird ($4,500), Matt Breida ($4,100)

Chris Carson

I am willing to pay up for Christian McCaffrey again this week but his price remains prohibitive. Carson, on the other hand, gets a huge bump with Rashaad Penny gone and a great matchup. Even if he does fumble, he won’t have a backup the team can trust to take over the majority of touches, giving us more safety in rostering him.

The Panthers have allowed the second-most DraftKings points to running backs and an enormous 21 rushing touchdowns to the position. The only teams they’ve kept below 4.4 yards per carry have been Tampa Bay, Arizona and Atlanta. Carson will be chalk and for good reason, as he is safe for heavy usage in a great matchup with a price tag that won’t break the bank.

Raheem Mostert

I went into this week liking Mostert but not feeling super confident that he would see more than 10 touches, but Kyle Shanahan has made it known that Mostert’s won the job and needs more work. The Falcons run defense isn’t bad, but Mostert has been phenomenal and game script should be on his side, as the 49ers are 10-point favorites at home and should be able to keep the Falcons from putting many points on the board. With a lead, strong offensive line and Shanahan calling plays, Mostert only needs touches to give you value this week.

Josh Jacobs

There should be enough wide receiver value to help us get Jacobs and Carson in our lineups if we want and I think, at least in cash games, that’s what I want. He is listed as questionable but all signs point to him playing against a Jaguars defense that has given up the third-most DK points to running backs. Since Week 9 they’ve allowed 829 yards rushing, nine rushing touchdowns and 212 DK points. They’ve given up more DK points than the Panthers in that stretch, and they have an extra game since Week 9. Jacobs has some risk due to his shoulder injury but if he plays, he’s going to get his work in a great matchup. If he happens to sit, DeAndre Washington becomes a must play as his cheap backup in a smash spot.

Patrick Laird

Jacobs’ shoulder injury might end up scaring me off of playing him in the majority of my games, so if I can’t fit McCaffrey, I’ll likely drop to Laird as a value play and go with safer/more expensive wide receivers. Laird isn’t the next Adrian Peterson but he is the lead back and more importantly, getting plenty of work as a receiver, which gives us a DK point even if he gains zero yards on the play. You know that of course but it bears repeating that Laird doesn’t have to be great at $4,500 when he sees so many touches and targets, with 15 and 20 over his last two games.

Wide Receivers

DeAndre Hopkins ($8,000), Chris Godwin ($7,700), Tyreek Hill ($7,500), Kenny Golladay ($7,200), Julian Edelman ($7,100), Jarvis Landry ($6,700), D.J. Moore ($6,600), Emmanuel Sanders ($6,600), DeVante Parker ($6,400), Robert Woods ($6,200), A.J. Browns ($6,000), Darius Slayton ($4,700), Dede Westbrook ($4,600), Danny Amendola ($4,100), Justin Watson ($3,700), Chris Conley ($3,600), Greg Ward ($3,000), Scotty Miller ($3,000)

Unfortunately, I like too many high-priced wide receivers this week. I won’t be able to play them all, but I have narrowed them down to three with Landry, Godwin and Edelman. All three have solid matchups and high target projections.

Jarvis Landry

The Cardinals are the best team to target wide receivers against, as they allow the most DK points to the position by a wide margin. They are also weak against slot receivers, ranking dead last in fantasy points allowed from the position. Landry has taken over as the No. 1 receiver in Cleveland, especially with Beckham Jr. dealing with a groin injury.

Chris Godwin

Godwin should be a target hog with Mike Evans out and he faces a Lions defense that ranks fifth-worst in allowing fantasy points to slot receivers. Jameis Winston got a full practice in on Friday and appears ready to go. Darius Slay is a tough defender but Godwin is just as good and will see plenty of looks.

Julian Edelman

Edelman is pretty much the whole Patriots passing game right now with some James White thrown in for good measure. The Bengals rank sixth-worst in points allowed to slot receivers, making this matchup as high-floor as it can be.

Dede Westbrook

With D.J. Chark out, there will be a bunch of air yards and targets up for grabs and Westbrook is second on the team in targets and red zone targets, so should be a safe play against a bad Raiders pass defense. Chris Conley has more upside and is my preferred play in GPPs this week.

Darius Slayton

Slayton was Eli Manning’s favorite target as he took over for the injured Daniel Jones last Monday night. That payed off, as Slayton caught 5-of-8 targets for 154 yards and two touchdowns. He now has three two-touchdown games out of his last six. Miami doesn’t have anyone that can hang with him. They rank sixth-worst at allowing DK points to wide receivers on the season and the absolute worst over the last four games. He’s still risky but at his price, he should be able to get you a decent floor and huge upside.

Tight Ends

Zach Ertz ($6,000), Dallas Goedert ($4,300), David Njoku ($4,200), Noah Fant ($4,100), Tyler Higbee ($4,900), O.J. Howard ($3,500), Ian Thomas ($3,100)

Tyler Higbee

If I can afford him, I’ll likely move up to Ertz, as he’s the no-doubt No. 1 target this week against Washington but Higbee is a nice fall back. He’s caught 14-of-19 targets for 223 yards and a touchdown in his last two games. The matchup with the Cowboys isn’t bad either, as they have given up the tenth-most fantasy points to tight ends and they rank 29th in DVOA against the position.

D/ST

49ers ($3,800), Buccaneers ($3,600), Eagles ($3,400), Giants ($2,700), Lions ($2,300)

San Francisco 49ers

I dislike paying up for defenses, but I don’t love the cheaper options this week, so I’m going to do my best to fit the 49ers into my lineups. They head back home after giving up a bazillion touchdowns to Drew Brees and I expect a stark contrast to that game this week. The Falcons have allowed 15 sacks in their last three games, all at home, and now they travel to San Francisco to take on the No. 1 team ranked in adjusted sack rate.

I am an avid fan and user (my username is cogresha) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.