“The Hard Bargain” is a year-round column by Dave Stewart offering parenting advice and weekly fantasy football advice for deeper (16+ team) leagues. Dave brings over a year of experience writing this column to NFL Week 16 and will be here to help provide lineup recommendations throughout the fantasy football season.
NFL Week 15 Recap
Week 15 of the 2022 NFL season was quite possibly the wildest weekend we have seen yet. There were four games with multiple-score comebacks. We saw inexplicable calls or lack thereof by the officials. Jonathan Taylor suffered a season-ending injury. To imagine that all of this happened as the fantasy playoffs began is difficult to believe. Hopefully, we are in for a little more madness in NFL Week 16.
One of my favorite aspects of fantasy is that no matter how much we study and prepare, we can still have our collective minds blown when Sunday rolls around. In a game where we are constantly speculating, we can only use the available data to make the most precise projections we can come up with. However, surprises always occur.
But that does not mean that there isn’t much to learn or teach about fantasy football to help grow the game.
Getting to Know Drew DeLuca
Before the NFL action began on Sunday, I sat down with Drew DeLuca, 48, of Newark, Del., to discuss fantasy, fatherhood and everything in-between. Drew is a husband, a father of four, an educator and a fantasy football fanatic.
He began playing fantasy about 25 years ago and fondly remembers rostering players like Barry Sanders and Jerry Rice. It was his brother and some of his college friends that introduced him to the game. Now he manages more teams than he can count.
“I don’t even know,” Drew said with a laugh when asked about how many fantasy leagues he is currently in.
Drew offered some advice for fantasy newbies, and he kept it simple:
“No. 1 is to know the scoring system. Understand your league format,” he said. “From there, you get a sense of how early you should draft running backs or wide receivers.”
That is pretty straightforward advice, and it turns out Drew has a knack for passing on his knowledge.
Teaching Fantasy Football to the Next Generation
Drew teaches sixth grade and has started a fantasy football club for his 11 and 12-year-old students.
“It’s kind of neat to see the next generation really getting into it,” Drew said. “These kids know their stuff. It’s fun.”
He really spoke my language, as I have enjoyed sharing fantasy football strategies with my daughters, “the Sneaky Girls,” for the last four years. Drew looks forward to getting his athletically inclined sons, ages six and four, into fantasy as soon as they are ready.
Until then, Drew will continue to share his passion through his written fantasy content. He got his start as a fantasy writer a few years ago. He currently writes and podcasts with The QB List.
“It’s a perfect marriage of some of the schooling I have in writing and my love of football and fantasy football,” Drew said, referring to his role at the site.
His position with The QB List even enabled him to attend the last NFL Draft. In addition to his role at The QB List, Drew also contributes to rankings through FantasyPros and was recognized as the top overall ranker this season in Week 6 and second overall in Week 7.
Drew credits his love for kids as a driving force in both his teaching career and his role as a father.
“Kids are just great,” he said, “I love my own, obviously. I went back to school to be a teacher because I’ve mentored and coached and loved that too. This is something I want to do. It’s a calling.”
Drew had some advice for expecting fathers:
“You’re going to hear a lot of advice from a lot of people. Take what you like and leave the rest. Understand that your kid is a unique individual. There’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all parenting method.”
Drew’s outlook on his role as a father is inspiring. When asked about his favorite thing about being a dad, he said, “They help me become a better person as I’m helping them become better people.”
That is what we call a win-win scenario.
His last bit of advice to new dads was about self-awareness and modeling desired behavior:
“You are the male role model they grow up with. You’re going to be their idea of what a man is. Set the example that you want for your kids.” Whether in the classroom or out, Drew has a knack for teaching lessons.
NFL Week 15 Recommendations Recap
I learned a few lessons of my own in Week 15, like don’t trust Sam Darnold. He struggled despite playing a lackluster Steeler secondary, and Rachaad White was lousy against Cincinnati. But, I found my biggest success yet at the tight end position when Dawson Knox had his best game of the year with 98 yards and a touchdown. Drake London also had a nice day playing with Desmond Ridder. London caught seven passes for 70 yards, although he did lose a fumble.
No more dwelling on the past; let’s get you set for the next round of your fantasy football playoffs.
NFL Week 16 Deep-League Fantasy Starts
Kenny Pickett (QB, Pittsburgh Steelers)
The Pittsburgh offense has been trending upward, largely behind the effectiveness of the running game. The Steelers have won three of their last four games. The team managed at least 150 yards on the ground in each of the wins. Najee Harris has looked at his best over the last four weeks.
The reason this matters for Kenny Pickett is that the run game is taking pressure off the quarterback position. Receiver Diontae Johnson is coming off one of his best games this season and Pickett will have all of his weapons at his disposal against the Raiders. Las Vegas has allowed quarterbacks to throw for an average of 250 yards and two touchdowns in their last four contests. Expect Pickett to post similar numbers this week.
James Cook (RB, Buffalo Bills)
James Cook’s role within the Buffalo offense has been expanding. He has played nearly 40 percent of snaps over the last three weeks. Before that, he had been on the field for closer to 20 percent of snaps. Being on the field more often has led to greater contributions from the rookie. Cook has 23 carries and nine receptions in those last three games.
Last week, he caught his first career touchdown pass. In NFL Week 16, Cook faces the Chicago Bears, who have allowed the second-most rushing touchdowns this season. Buffalo will undoubtedly look to test this run defense and Cook will figure to have a role.
Chris Moore (WR, Houston Texans)
Chris Moore has become the de facto top receiver in the Texans’ offense since Brandin Cooks and Nico Collins have been sidelined. Both receivers are yet to be cleared for NFL Week 16. My recommendation of Moore is somewhat based on the assumption that neither Cooks nor Collins will be ready to go on Sunday in Nashville when the Texans square off with the Tennessee Titans.
The Titans have allowed the most Points Per Reception (PPR) points to the wide receiver position this season. Moore has seen 20 targets over the past two contests. He has put away 14 of them for 166 yards. Should he be called upon to serve as the team’s lead receiver again, Moore should see plenty of targets and have the opportunity to continue his hot streak.
Cade Otton (TE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
Cade Otton has become Tom Brady’s trusted target at tight end. The rookie has totaled 16 targets over the last three weeks. He will appear in a primetime Christmas Day showdown in Arizona. The Cardinals have been the weakest opponent against tight ends this year.
Even with a 6-8 record, the Buccaneers are leading their division and holding playoff position. Look for them to attack the weakness of Arizona’s defense and for Otton to be involved. He is averaging 9.6 Yards Per Reception (YPR) and has a pair of receiving touchdowns on the season.
Life is hard, but it gets a little easier when we learn to lean on each other. Find me on Twitter @DaveFantasy for more life and fantasy sports content for NFL Week 16 and beyond.