Merry Christmas! Instead of spending time with your family, you’re on your phone visiting DK Nation reading my fantasy football Christmas article, or my NBA DFS Christmas article. It’s a holiday tradition up there with 24-hour Christmas movie marathons.
Did you get what you wanted for Christmas? Of course not, that’s why you’re here. Let’s try to make up for that and win some DFS cash. Even if it doesn’t work out, let’s get some action on these games and sit around and watch sports all day. Eat some cookies, too. And eat some meats and cheeses. How about some egg nog? Let’s have some fun.
Set your DraftKings fantasy football lineups here: NFL $2.25M Merry Millionaire [$1M to 1st + ToC Semifinal Entry] (Sun)
Green Bay Packers at Miami Dolphins, 1 p.m. ET
WR Tyreek Hill ($9,000)
There is a dearth of explosive players on this slate. Hill is head and shoulders above the rest of the field. No other player has the upside or the consistency of Hill. It is hard to imagine that he will not have the highest ownership on the Christmas Day slate. With Hill playing in the 1 p.m. game and his ownership projected to be through the roof, fading Hill could be a viable game theory strategy. However, fading Hill could end days early and result in an immediate shift to Showdown slate action. The Packers’ Jaire Alexander and Rasul Douglas are two of the best cornerbacks in the NFL, but this is Tyreek Hill we’re talking about. Don’t find a way to talk yourself out of it.
QB Tua Tagovailoa ($7,000)
A couple months ago, Tua would have been a lock-button play. That’s not the case anymore. Miami has stabilized after a challenging road trip. Tagovailoa passed for 234 yards and two touchdowns with a 104 quarterback rating against a tough Buffalo defense in bad weather. That’s a very good line for the Hawaiian, especially after a string of uninspired starts. Miami returns home to the comfortable conditions of South Beach for Christmas. The last time Tua was at home, he was handing out lumps of coal to opposing defenses and passing out Christmas gifts to all of his pass catchers. He didn’t even have to finish the game vs. Houston. Before that, he dropped 285 yards and three touchdowns on Cleveland. In the two games before that, Tua threw for over 300 yards and three TDs at Chicago (60° day) and at Detroit (dome). The larger sample size suggests that Tagovailoa is fine. Don’t overreact to two poor performances on the West Coast, especially since one was against the best defense in the NFL.
RB Raheem Mostert ($5,900)
Green Bay has the worst rush defense (DVOA) in the NFL. That makes the Miami backfield an easy target. Jeff Wilson ($5,400) and Mostert have looked good this season behind Miami’s revamped offensive line. Over the last several weeks, Wilson has struggled and then missed last Saturday’s game. Mostert on the other hand, has reemerged as the Dolphins’ lead back with an incredible performance vs. the Bills — 17 carries for 136 yards. Wilson is again on the injury report, but there is one problem — Mostert is also on the injury report. However, his DNP early in the week was a veteran rest day. He should be good to go on Sunday, and if Wilson is in any way limited, Mostert will become a top pick on this small slate.
WR Randall Cobb ($7,200)
The Dolphins rank 26th in pass defense (DVOA). Against slot receivers, they’ve allowed 3,258 yards (most) and 219 receptions (fourth-most). Cobb is the Packers’ main slot receiver. Even with Romeo Doubs returning to the lineup last week, Cobb played 23 snaps in the slot to Doubs’ two snaps. Cobbs’ three catches for 32 yards vs. the Rams wasn’t fantastic, but the game script did not call for a heavy workload for Cobb. With a 46.5 total (highest on the slate), Cobb should be more involved. This also means that Aaron Rodgers ($5,900), broken thumb and all, will be more active. And contrary to what most believe, the Packers’ offense is rolling at the moment. They’re averaging 28.3 points per game over the last three games, and they knelt down at the 1-yard line at the end of last week’s game.
Denver Broncos at Los Angeles Rams, 4:30 p.m. ET
WR Jerry Jeudy ($5,900)
When Jeudy is healthy and on the field, the 2020 first-round pick out of Alabama looks like a future star. Unfortunately, those moments have been few and far between. Further worsening his development, has been the Bronco quarterbacks that he’s been saddled with. Fortunately, things might finally be turning around for Jeudy. He’s averaging six catches for 71 yards per game over the last three games, and he only played 38% of the snaps during the first game of the three-game span. He also put those game logs together with two different quarterbacks. Jeudy could spend some time being covered by Jalen Ramsey (No. 4 CB according to PFF.com), but here is a spoiler for this slate — no pick is perfect on Christmas. Keep reading. You’ll see.
Broncos DST ($3,600)
Forget about Christmas Story, Bad Santa, Elf, It’s a Wonderful Life or even Die Hard. This year the Christmas movie is The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. This sums up the NFL DFS picks on the three-game slate. There are a couple of good picks, many bad picks and a lot of ugly plays. The Broncos DST is one of the few good picks on the entire slate. It would be a good pick at $1,000 more. Making it an even better pick is the position’s inherit scarcity. There are only six options and one is clearly the best. Imagine the ownership on Sunday. This is a leverage spot for fading. That’s also a surefire galaxy-brain way for nuking your lineups. Let’s make this simple. The Rams’ offense — led by Baker Mayfield ($5,300) — is possibly the worst offense in the NFL. Denver has the No. 5 defense (DVOA). The Broncos blitz at the fourth-highest rate and their coverage holds up. They’re in the top 5 in limiting Passing Yards, Passing TDs, Air Yards and Depth of Target. Baker is cooked.
RB Latavius Murray ($5,600)
This game will have the lowest ownership rates. Some DFS players will completely pass on this ugly game. It also features a lot of value. It sounds scary, but this game will be the key to the slate. With only three games to choose from, avoiding one game entirely is inadvisable. Enough of the negativity. Did you know that Latavius Murray is having the best season of his career? Did you know that PFF.com ranks Murray No. 9 out of 63 RBs in the NFL? Murray rushed for 130 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries last week. He rushed for four yards per carry the week before that. In Week 13, Baltimore’s stout rush defense shut him down, but in Week 12, he rushed 13 times for 92 yards against Carolina. He has also caught at least four passes in three of the last five games.
QB Russell Wilson ($5,500)
On a small three-game slate, the winner will get weird. The winner will not stray from the ugly plays. The winner will venture deep into the cringe. It doesn't get much more cringe than Russell Wilson. Before you skip ahead, let’s steel man this pick. Last season, Wilson was considered dust and washed up to many in the DFS community. They were likely right, but even dusty QBs can put together healthy stat lines in today’s NFL. Wilson threw 25 TDs to just 6 INTs last season (14 games). This year the ratio is 11 to 6 — not good. His QB rating is 20 points lower and his yards per completion is the lowest of his career. Clearly, he’s not the best option, but is he a gunslinger? Wilson will always have upside and he has looked like his former self on occasion this season. If Jeudy has turned the corner. and Courtland Sutton ($4,900) is healthy, then Wilson has to be considered. Also add TE Greg Dulcich ($3,900) to that mix. Dulcich disappeared last week, but with Wilson back at QB, Dulcich is an appealing option on slate void of TE options.
WR Tutu Atwell ($3,600)
The 2021 second-round pick — Sean McVay’s highest draft pick ever — has been sitting on the shelf for two seasons. Atwell got injured during his rookie campaign and he’s been buried behind veteran stars on the depth chart, and not just stars — the best WR in the NFL that hogs the offense’s target share. McVay admitted it was a mistake not getting Atwell involved in the offense earlier this season. Now, he has no choice with the injury situation and the Rams’ record. Atwell has been thrust into a role as a starting receiver and as mainly a slot receiver. He took a step backward last week on the road in Green Bay, but the same can be said of the entire Rams’ offense in week two of the Baker Mayfield era.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Arizona Cardinals, 8:20 p.m. ET
QB Tom Brady ($6,100)
The Buccaneers could miss the playoffs, but not if Tom Brady has anything to say about it. Betting against Tom Brady has not been lucrative over the last two decades. However, he is on a bit of a losing streak. The Bucs fell apart at the end of the 2021-22 season, his wife divorced him and Sam Bankman-Fried stole all of his money — retirement is looking like it’s another year away.
TB12 cannot wait for 2022 to end and the new year to bring better fortune. It’s not quite a new year, but a matchup with the Cardinals could give Brady a head start on 2023. Arizona is the fourth-worst team when it comes to defending the run, but the Bucs don’t have much of a run game at the moment. The Bucs can still attack through the air, and the Cardinals are weak in the sky, too. The birds rank 20th in pass defense (DVOA) and have allowed the third-most fantasy points to receiving RBs and fourth-most to TEs. They rank 26th vs. slot WRs, having allowed 227 receptions (third-most). The favorableness of the matchup is not a concern but it is a concern. If the Bucs beat up on the Trace McSorley led Cardinals, then Tampa could employ a conservative, rush-heavy attack.
WR DeAndre Hopkins ($7,500)
Bad quarterback? Trace McSorley got you worried? Do you remember Hopkins’ time in Houston? Do you remember the Texan QBs? Hopkins was a Pro Bowler with Tom Savage, Brock Osweiler and Brian Hoyer flinging the ball his way. Will it be ugly? Yes, but face it — this is an ugly slate. If you want beauty, turn on the 24-hour “It’s a Wonderful Life” marathon. If you want money, make some ugly picks. There aren’t any perfect picks today. Every pick has warts and some are virally canvassed, but even the most hideous frog could be a prince by the end of this slate. Ugly isn’t always bad. Garbage time points count. Hopkins could get peppered with targets in a game that the Cardinals project to be playing from behind. Hopkins in a pass-heavy script vs. a prevent defense doesn’t seem ugly at all. This script reads like My Fair Lady or “She’s All That” for the millennials. You know the story, the ugly loser isn’t really an ugly loser. Beauty is only skin deep.
WR Chris Godwin ($6,900)
This article is flying off the rails with 90s teen Rom-Com references. Let’s get back on track with an obvious pick. Godwin is one of the better and safer plays on the three-game slate. His anticipated ownership opens the door to massive leverage by fading him. However, with so many ugly ways to differentiate on this slate, avoiding the Godwin late-night hammer could knock lineups out of the cash during the final hours of Christmas. Don’t ruin Christmas. Play one of the best players on the slate. As mentioned above, the Cardinals struggle with slot receivers (Godwin has a 59.4% slot rate), and Godwin has been a consistent high-end contributor for Tampa this season — 81 receptions on 116 targets for 785 yards. In the end, trust Godwin’s Law, which states that as an online discussion grows longer (regardless of topic or scope), the probability of debating whether Die Hard is a Christmas movie or not is inevitable. By the way, it is a Christmas movie, and Shane Black movies are not Christmas movies.
TE Trey McBride ($3,200)
The tight end position is the worst spot on this challenging slate, and that says a lot. The good news is that there isn’t a chalk tight end. The bad news is that there isn’t a chalk tight end. The winning lineup will feature a tight end that elicits incredulous frowns. The Cardinals are touchdown dogs at home, so they will likely find themselves in passing situations more often than not. Trace McSorley is a third-string QB. It will not be surprising to see him target safer routes closer to the line of scrimmage, and Tampa ranks 24th in TE defense (DVOA).
Set your DraftKings fantasy football lineups here: NFL $2.25M Merry Millionaire [$1M to 1st + ToC Semifinal Entry] (Sun)
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is greenflagradio2) 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 do not constitute a representation that any particular strategy will guarantee success. All customers should use their own skill and judgment in building lineups. 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.