There’s a three-game NFL DFS slate under the Christmas tree this year. Santa stuffed the stockings, and DraftKings is offering $2.25 million in prizes for the Christmas Day fantasy football slate.
Take a break from throwing away wrapping paper and assembling toys. Before the pot of coffee from the early morning wake up wears off, check out the top NFL DFS targets for Monday’s fantasy football slate.
Jalen Hurts, Philadelphia Eagles vs. New York Giants, $7,600 — The Eagles have lost three in a row. They need their captain to right the ship. Hurts wasn’t 100% last week and still nearly got things headed in the right direction. Unfortunately, this team is still sputtering, but the DraftKings Sportsbook expects that to change on Christmas Day. The Eagles are double-digit favorites. The Giants are average against the pass, but they’re the third-worst against the rush (4.7 yards per attempt). That’s the selling point. Hurts is expensive, but his rushing upside can break the slate. Even with his illness last Monday, Hurts still rushed for 82 yards on 13 carries and scored two touchdowns.
Tommy DeVito, New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles, $5,000 — It’s a three-game slate, so the QB options are limited. There are several MVP-caliber quarterbacks on the Christmas Day slate, so the value pick choices are slim. DeVito isn’t a default DraftKings pick due to scarcity. There is one thing going for him. The Philadelphia Eagles struggle to defend the pass. Case in point: a Drew Lock led 92-yard drive to defeat the Eagles on Monday Night Football in Week 15. It’s never a good idea to be frugal on Christmas. Passing up on the best passers in the NFL is very risky. However, there is one reason to be a Scrooge on Monday. DeVito hasn’t posted spectacular numbers, but most of his matchups have been against strong opponents. The one opponent that wasn’t – Washington. DeVito threw for 246 yards and three touchdowns against the Commanders’ weak pass defense.
Christian McCaffrey, San Francisco 49ers vs. Baltimore Ravens, $9,500 — Everyone is aware of CMC’s stats. There’s no reason to list the numbers. The debate is whether McCaffrey is worth his price in a matchup against the No. 2 defense in the NFL. On a full slate, there is a lot less opportunity cost for fading CMC. There are plenty of ways to spend salary and earn fantasy points. On the three-game Christmas Day slate, that’s just too risky. There are plenty of good players on this slate, but there isn’t another CMC.
Jerick McKinnon, Kansas City Chiefs vs. Las Vegas Raiders, $5,200 — The mid-range options are safer. However, there is a catch. CMC and a decent second running back eat up nearly 30% of the DraftKings salary available. McKinnon is a wildcard. He’s never an option on a main slate, but he’s often an option on showdown slates. With only three games on the Christmas Day slate, he’s the only option with upside and somewhat of a floor. His volume is a concern. Value picks always come with a catch. McKinnon may only have one catch on Monday, but in this offense that catch could be a 40-yard TD reception. McKinnon has a good line, a great QB and an offensive play caller that is willing to use him in explosive ways. Most NFL DFS players will shy away from the risk, so McKinnon offers savings and low ownership — and plenty of risk.
Rashee Rice, Kansas City Chiefs vs. Las Vegas Raiders, $6,500 — The elite quarterbacks are expensive. The elite running back is expensive. DraftKings DFS players have to save somewhere. It will be popular to cut costs at wide receiver, and Rice presents savings. In the last four games, he’s scored 27.7, 14.4, 19.2 and 24.1 DKFP. Rice ran 90% of the routes last week and was targeted on nine of Mahomes 35 pass attempts. He’s the No. 1 wide receiver for the Chiefs. Every week his role increases. Every week he improves. The Chiefs’ Super Bowl aspirations hinge on the development of the rookie receiver. Rice isn’t Tyreek Hill, but this is just season one. Will Rice score 40 fantasy points like HIll? Probably not. Will he be in the winning lineup on Monday’s NFL DFS slate? It’s likely on a three-game slate.
Darius Slayton, New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles, $3,400 — A DeVito-Slayton stack is bold. It’s probably too bold. But with only three games to choose from and thousands of contestants competing in the milly maker, it could work. The safer route is to employ Slayton as a salary forgiveness option and play him alone. The Eagles’ pass defense is not just one of the worst on the Christmas Day slate, it’s one of the worst in the NFL. Slayton caught four of eight targets for 63 yards in Week 15 against the Saints’ top-10 pass defense. That stat line will work on this slate. It’s very possible that he does more this week. The Giants will likely be playing from behind the entire game, and they will be forced to pass early and often.
Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs vs. Las Vegas Raiders, $7,500 — There’s probably a Taylor Swift Christmas narrative that supports this NFL DFS pick. There’s also stats, too. Kelce ranks near the top of every important receiving category for tight ends. What’s new? The emergence of Rushee Rice may trouble some, but there’s another way to look at it. If defenses have to focus on Rice, then that means less double-teams for Kelce.
Isaiah Likely, Baltimore Ravens at San Francisco 49ers, $4,200 — Tight ends are a crucial part of the Ravens’ offense. When Mark Andrews got hurt, the Ravens did not reinvent their offense. Lamar Jackson ($7,400) didn’t change his approach. Likely has been peppered with targets every week since taking over as the Ravens’ starting tight end. In his three starts, Likely has 14 receptions on 19 targets for 193 yards and two touchdowns. The 49ers’ defense is strong, but their strength leads to a positive passing funnel for opposing offenses. It’s difficult to run on the 49ers, so passing volume increases. Also, teams tend to trail the 49ers. This chase results in more passing plays.
Chiefs vs. Las Vegas Raiders, $3,200 — The 49ers ($3,000) have a better defense, but they’re facing a tougher offense. The Raiders scored 63 points last week, but that was an anomaly. In Week 12, the Chiefs held the Raiders to 17 points. One score was a 63-yard TD run by Josh Jacobs. The other two scores were aided by deep pass plays. Without the splash plays, the Raiders could have been shut out. In a game where the Raiders are double-digit road dogs, big plays are not expected for this Week 16 matchup. The Raiders will likely be trailing for most of the game. A one-dimensional offensive attack that relies on the pass — led by a rookie QB — increases the probability of sacks and turnovers.
Raiders DST at Kansas City Chiefs, $2,300 — The best defenses on this slate are not very expensive. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to seek out value at DST on the Christmas Day slate. There is one exception. If a couple hundred dollars of savings is necessary to fit a certain DFS pick, then the Raiders are an option. The Chiefs aren’t as explosive as years past, but they are inside the top 10 in points scored and total yards. That makes this a dangerous selection. However, the Chiefs turn the ball over a lot. Their 24 turnovers are the fourth-most. The Raiders have produced three or more turnovers in four of their last 10 games. In Week 15, they forced five turnovers and their defense scored two touchdowns against the Chargers.
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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.