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As you read, you may run into some colors in the text. Blue text is a good matchup for that team's offensive players. Red text is a bad matchup. Some other key items are below:
- All red/blue highlighting in tables is relative to the entire NFL, even when showing a limited number of teams.
- All reference to fantasy points assumes DraftKings scoring rules unless otherwise specified.
- All stats reference the full 2018 season unless otherwise specified.
- All fantasy points rankings are on a per-game basis to account for bye weeks unless otherwise specified.
This week, we'll discuss the following topics:
How Will They Score?
This is a concept created by Ben Gretch at Rotoviz and now published on FantasyLabs. However, it's one I wanted to share as it is an interesting way to think about how teams score and allow points and can lead to some surprise/contrarian lineup decisions. For some background, see the bullet-point summary below.
- Take each team's implied Vegas team total
- Average the percentage of points that team scores via passing touchdowns and the percentage their opponent allows via passing touchdowns
- Multiply that average percentage by the implied total
- Do the same for rushing touchdowns
Note: Passing + Rushing won't add up to the entire team total. There are kicking and defense/special teams points as well. However, those aren't as predictable, so we're focusing on offense only.
|Offense||Defense||LV Total||Off PaTD%||Def PaTD%||Proj. Pass|
|Kansas City Chiefs||Los Angeles Chargers||28.00||46.5%||43.3%||12.57|
|New Orleans Saints||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||28.00||41.2%||47.3%||12.39|
|San Francisco 49ers||Arizona Cardinals||28.75||32.4%||53.4%||12.34|
|Baltimore Ravens||Houston Texans||27.00||32.0%||56.5%||11.95|
|Indianapolis Colts||Jacksonville Jaguars||23.50||55.7%||41.3%||11.39|
- New Orleans scores 41.2% of its points via passing touchdowns, the 16th-highest ratio in the NFL.
- Tampa Bay allows 47.3% of its points via passing touchdowns, the eighth-highest ratio.
- New Orleans gains 70.8% of its yardage via the pass, the 13th-highest ratio.
- Tampa Bay allows 79.4% of its yardage via the pass, the highest ratio in the NFL.
- San Francisco scores 32.4% of its points via passing touchdowns, the ninth-lowest ratio.
- Arizona allows 53.4% of its points via passing touchdowns, the fourth-highest ratio.
- Baltimore scores 32.0% of its points via passing touchdowns, the fifth-lowest ratio.
- Houston allows 56.5% of its points via passing touchdowns, the third-highest ratio.
- Baltimore gains 53.2% of its yardage via the pass, the lowest ratio in the NFL.
- Houston allows 76.7% of its yardage via the pass, the second-highest ratio.
None of these line up ideally from the perspective of the offense scoring most of its points via the pass and the defense allowing them. But we can glean from implied team totals and general capabilities that these offenses can pass. So let's look deeper at how these defenses yield their production.
|Defense||Tgt %||YdsRk||TDs||Tgt %||YdsRk||TDs||Tgt %||YdsRk||TDs||Opponent|
|Arizona Cardinals||18.2%||19||3||57.0%||19||11||24.8%||32||10||San Francisco 49ers|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||15.4%||3||1||61.5%||32||15||23.1%||31||6||New Orleans Saints|
|Houston Texans||23.1%||32||2||58.0%||29||13||18.9%||7||2||Baltimore Ravens|
- Opponents target wide receivers against Tampa Bay on 61.5% of pass attempts, the 12th-highest ratio in the NFL.
- Tampa Bay allows 210.4 yards per game to wide receivers, most in the NFL.
- Tampa Bay allows 15.6 receptions per game to wide receivers, second-most.
- Tampa Bay allows 1.7 touchdowns per game to wide receivers, tied for the most in the NFL.
- Opponents target wide receivers against Houston on 58.0% of pass attempts, the 18th-highest ratio in the NFL.
- Houston allows 189.2 yards per game to wide receivers, fourth-most in the NFL.
- Houston allows 13.6 receptions per game to wide receivers, ninth-most.
- Houston allows 1.7 touchdowns per game to wide receivers, fourth-most in the NFL.
- Baltimore targets its wide receivers on 41.4% of pass attempts, the third-lowest ratio in the NFL.
New Orleans shows up high on the list for projected passing points despite the passing touchdown percentages for the New Orleans offense and Tampa Bay defense not being very high. But the New Orleans team total is high for a reason, and the way to beat Tampa Bay is through the air.
Perhaps this is a case to fade Michael Thomas in GPPs -- or to prioritize Christian McCaffrey over him in cash games. Either is a risky proposition given his role in the offense and the opposing defense, but there's evidence to suggest either/both of the following: a) New Orleans doesn't reach its implied team total; and b) they score points using means other than the passing game.
Consider also that Thomas is averaging 7.6 fewer PPR points per game on the road. Despite Thomas being the highest-projected wide receiver, but McCaffrey should be the priority in cash games.
Houston's defense doesn't see a huge share of targets go to wide receivers, but they're poor at defense vs. the position nonetheless. Unlike Tampa Bay, where we saw that a moderate share of targets could still lead to a significant volume, Houston is different.
Teams don't target receivers at a high ratio against the Texans (18th-highest ratio), but they are efficient when they do (fifth-most fantasy points). A low amount of targets but incredible efficiency when targeted is a way to describe Marquise Brown. Brown is a solid GPP play and is the preferred stack with Lamar Jackson.
San Francisco doesn't score a high percentage of points via the pass, and Arizona is only 10th-worst in terms of fantasy points allowed to wide receivers. But Deebo Samuel is squarely in play this week due to the injury situations of Emmanuel Sanders (game-time decision) and George Kittle (likely out). Samuel played 70 of 83 snaps in San Francisco's Monday night game against Seattle.
If Sanders is out, Samuel represents cash game cap relief in a difficult week for value.
|Offense||Defense||LV Total||Off RuTD%||Def RuTD%||Proj. Rush|
|Carolina Panthers||Atlanta Falcons||28.25||37.3%||20.8%||8.22|
|Oakland Raiders||Cincinnati Bengals||29.50||26.0%||27.8%||7.93|
|Los Angeles Rams||Chicago Bears||24.25||29.2%||30.6%||7.25|
|New England Patriots||Philadelphia Eagles||24.00||28.9%||25.4%||6.51|
|Minnesota Vikings||Denver Broncos||25.00||29.8%||21.2%||6.37|
- Carolina scores 37.3% of its points via rushing touchdowns, the highest ratio in the NFL.
- Atlanta allows 2.74 points per drive, most in the NFL.
- Atlanta allows a touchdown on 62.9% of its red zone drives, the fifth-highest rate.
- Oakland gains 35.1% of its yardage via the rush, the 12th-highest ratio.
- Oakland gains 6.1 yards per play, tied for fourth-most in the NFL.
- Cincinnati allows 6.7 yards per play, most in the NFL.
- Cincinnati allows 40.3% of its yardage via the rush, the second-highest ratio.
- Cincinnati allows 5.2 rush yards per attempt, most in the NFL.
- Cincinnati allows 116.4 rushing yards per game and 17.6 rushing fantasy points per game to running backs, each third-most in the NFL.
- Cincinnati allows 2.38 points per drive, fifth-most in the NFL.
For the reasons here and above, McCaffrey is the preferred "big-ticket" item in DFS this week.
Oakland hosts Cincinnati, which puts the passing game and rushing game in play for DFS. Josh Jacobs is the preferred DFS play, especially on sites like FanDuel without full PPR scoring. But Derek Carr is the best Rent-a-Quarterback option in season-long leagues this week.
Tweets of the Week
Injuries to be ahead of for waiver bids this evening:— John Daigle (@notJDaigle) November 12, 2019
* Freeman = Brian Hill
* Sanders = Deebo Samuel
* Ty Johnson = McKissic
* Breida = Mostert
* Tyler Boyd = Erickson
* DeSean = Goedert
* Cooks = Josh Reynolds
* Hooper = Gage
* Thielen = Rudolph/Bisi/Irv
Commentary and Action Items
We mentioned Samuel above already. Not only is Samuel a good example of value, but the situation is a good example of knowing when to pivot with late-breaking news. If Sanders' status truly goes to game-time, DFS players won't know before the 1:00 pm EST lock. Players must be flexible with late-game contingency plans, or they can take a stand and play Samuel as a GPP play assuming that a lack of clarity leads to him being on fewer rosters.
Aside from Samuel, the other situations are key to the slate as well. If Ty Johnson is out, only J.D. McKissic, Paul Perkins, and the practice squad remain as healthy options at running back. McKissic would be an interesting salary cap relief option.
With Austin Hooper sidelined, another tight end likely isn't the answer in Atlanta. But Russell Gage, in his new "Mohamed Sanu role," could absorb some extra targets in the intermediate-middle of the field.
Leaders in sack differential vs opponent:— Rich Hribar (@LordReebs) November 11, 2019
Commentary and Action Items
The numbers here represent "net sacks" (defensive sacks made - offensive sacks allowed). The teams in the positive not only sack opposing quarterbacks frequently, but they don't yield many sacks on offense. This stat can be used to identify tiebreakers for offensive players.
If a team doesn't allow many sacks, they likely have more time to create positive plays in the passing game.
Opposing quarterbacks are averaging just 10.3 fantasy points per game against the Steelers since the Minkah Fitzpatrick trade. Haven't faced a ton of great passers, but pretty strong nonetheless.— JJ Zachariason (@LateRoundQB) November 11, 2019
Commentary and Action Items
With Pittsburgh visiting Cleveland on Thursday, this isn't actionable for main-slate DFS, but it's relevant nonetheless. Pittsburgh's defense has been incredible during the team's recent hot streak, and it's not entirely due to weak opponents.
While they haven't faced a Murderer's Row of quarterbacks, they have performed well, even when adjusting for strength of schedule. This is evidenced by their standing as the eighth-toughest matchup for opposing passers over the past five weeks according to our Normalized Strength of Schedule tool.
It is worth noting, though, that Pittsburgh has traveled for a game once since Week 3. They've played five of their last six at home and had a bye in Week 7. If this solid defensive performance can travel, we'll know it's real.
In this section, we're comparing how teams have performed on a raw fantasy points against basis over the past five weeks vs. how they performed before that.
|Minnesota Vikings||20||8||-12||Denver Broncos|
|Detroit Lions||28||16||-12||Dallas Cowboys|
|New York Jets||25||14||-11||Washington Redskins|
|Chicago Bears||17||6||-11||Los Angeles Rams|
|Cleveland Browns||27||18||-9||Pittsburgh Steelers|
|Atlanta Falcons||23||29||6||Carolina Panthers|
|Indianapolis Colts||5||21||16||Jacksonville Jaguars|
|Miami Dolphins||10||32||22||Buffalo Bills|
|Washington Redskins||2||27||25||New York Jets|
|New Orleans Saints||4||31||27||Tampa Bay Buccaneers|
"Last 5" = Fantasy Points per Game ranking to the position in the last 5 weeks
"Prior" = Fantasy Points per Game ranking to the position prior to that
"Delta" = Prior-Last 5 (negative numbers imply a defense getting worse; positive imply a defense improving)
- From Weeks 1-5, Detroit allowed 293.8 yards per game, 1.0 touchdowns per game, and 20.1 fantasy points per game to quarterbacks.
- From Weeks 6-1, Detroit allowed 280.8 yards per game, 2.0 touchdowns per game, and 24.6 fantasy points per game to quarterbacks.
At first glance, it appears that Detroit's slip in performance is purely touchdown-based. But digging deeper, we should look at their opponents. Weeks 6-10 include Mitchell Trubisky, Derek Carr, Daniel Jones, and Kirk Cousins. Week's 1-5 include Patrick Mahomes II, Carson Wentz, Philip Rivers, and Kyler Murray. This pass defense is getting worse against weaker opponents. Dak Prescott is intriguing this week. Prescott is a top-five quarterback in season-long leagues and in play in any format in DFS.
|vs. Running Backs|
|Arizona Cardinals||28||7||-21||San Francisco 49ers|
|Carolina Panthers||32||13||-19||Atlanta Falcons|
|Oakland Raiders||27||10||-17||Cincinnati Bengals|
|Los Angeles Chargers||29||13||-16||Kansas City Chiefs|
|Buffalo Bills||26||11||-15||Miami Dolphins|
|Jacksonville Jaguars||10||25||15||Indianapolis Colts|
|Miami Dolphins||14||31||17||Buffalo Bills|
|Pittsburgh Steelers||1||22||21||Cleveland Browns|
|Denver Broncos||5||28||23||Minnesota Vikings|
|Cincinnati Bengals||7||32||25||Oakland Raiders|
- From Weeks 1-5, Carolina allowed 102.8 rushing yards per game, 0.8 rushing touchdowns per game, and 23.5 fantasy points per game to running backs.
- From Weeks 6-10, Carolina allowed 121.5 rushing yards per game, 2.5 rushing touchdowns per game, and 37.1 fantasy points per game to running backs.
- From Weeks 1-5, Cincinnati allowed 7.4 receptions per game, 74.6 receiving yards per game, and 38.9 fantasy points per game to running backs.
- From Weeks 6-10, Cincinnati allowed 1.5 receptions per game, 14.0 receiving yards per game, and 18.3 fantasy points per game to running backs.
Carolina's strength of opponents has played a role in their decline, but their Week 11 opponent is a back with little competition for touchdowns due to injuries around him. Consider also that Carolina allows 37.6% of its yardage via the rush, the seventh-highest ratio in the NFL, and 5.2 yards per rush, tied for the highest average in the NFL. Brian Hill is an RB2 in season-long leagues.
Cincinnati's last five weeks include games against Baltimore, Jacksonville, L.A. Rams, and Baltimore. The Ravens and Rams target their running backs at the lowest and second-lowest rates in the NFL, respectively. And Jacksonville is middle of the pack. Future teams have the potential to return to high-end fantasy production by using running backs as pass-catchers more frequently than Cincinnati's recent opponents have.
Jacobs, mentioned above, doesn't catch many passes but is still in play due to potential game flow and Cincinnati's poor rush defense.
|vs. Wide Receivers|
|Cincinnati Bengals||21||5||-16||Oakland Raiders|
|Arizona Cardinals||27||14||-13||San Francisco 49ers|
|Minnesota Vikings||31||18||-13||Denver Broncos|
|Cleveland Browns||20||7||-13||Pittsburgh Steelers|
|Detroit Lions||23||15||-8||Dallas Cowboys|
|Philadelphia Eagles||19||28||9||New England Patriots|
|Miami Dolphins||14||24||10||Buffalo Bills|
|Atlanta Falcons||18||32||14||Carolina Panthers|
|New Orleans Saints||12||26||14||Tampa Bay Buccaneers|
|Washington Redskins||2||30||28||New York Jets|
- From Weeks 1-5, Arizona allowed 153.8 receiving yards per game, 1.2 receiving touchdowns per game, and 36.5 fantasy points per game to wide receivers.
- From Weeks 6-10, Arizona allowed 186.6 receiving yards per game, 1.0 receiving touchdowns per game, and 41.3 fantasy points per game to wide receivers.
Arizona is allowing fewer touchdowns but more receptions and yardage to wide receivers. As mentioned above, we should look at Samuel to take advantage of a rare situation in which San Francisco's target volume is likely to be more condensed than usual.
|vs. Tight Ends|
|Cincinnati Bengals||26||7||-19||Oakland Raiders|
|Houston Texans||20||3||-17||Baltimore Ravens|
|Detroit Lions||24||10||-14||Dallas Cowboys|
|Carolina Panthers||15||4||-11||Atlanta Falcons|
|Pittsburgh Steelers||29||18||-11||Cleveland Browns|
|Cleveland Browns||10||25||15||Pittsburgh Steelers|
|Miami Dolphins||13||28||15||Buffalo Bills|
|Washington Redskins||4||21||17||New York Jets|
|Los Angeles Chargers||1||19||18||Kansas City Chiefs|
|Indianapolis Colts||11||30||19||Jacksonville Jaguars|
- From Weeks 1-5, Cincinnati allowed 2.8 receptions per game, 42.8 receiving yards per game, and 8.5 fantasy points per game to tight ends.
- From Weeks 6-10, Cincinnati allowed 6.0 receptions per game, 73.8 receiving yards per game, and 16.1 fantasy points per game to tight ends.
For similar reasons as Cincinnati's production allowed to running backs changed for the better, their production vs. tight ends got worse. Two games in a four-game stretch vs. Baltimore drove running back production down and tight end production up. After all, Baltimore targets its tight ends on 43.6% of pass attempts, the highest rate in the league by a whopping 9% margin.
It's a reason to be excited about Darren Waller this week (we've seen athletic tight ends succeed) but also reason to temper expectations (Baltimore is throwing there regardless of their opponent).
Houston's recent production allowed is primarily driven by strength of opponent (they've faced Darren Waller, the Indianapolis duo, and Travis Kelce since Week 6 and faced Jacksonville and Green Bay among their first five opponents). But as said above, Baltimore will use its tight ends regardless.
Mark Andrews is a top-four option in season-long leagues but more of a GPP option in DFS due to where he falls in pricing compared to other options.
The Weakest Links
In this section, we'll discuss the matchups that you should look to exploit every week.
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||32||29||-3||New Orleans Saints|
|Arizona Cardinals||31||30||-1||San Francisco 49ers|
|Cincinnati Bengals||30||30||0||Oakland Raiders|
|Houston Texans||27||25||-2||Baltimore Ravens|
|Oakland Raiders||27||32||5||Cincinnati Bengals|
Commentary and Quick Hits
- Brees failed in the dome last week. What could go wrong this week? Expect a bounce-back week.
- Don't forget about Carr (mentioned above).
- There's no reason to not consider Jackson in any week. His matchup against Houston helps make the case even stronger.
|vs. Running Backs|
|Carolina Panthers||32||32||0||Atlanta Falcons|
|Buffalo Bills||31||26||-5||Miami Dolphins|
|Arizona Cardinals||30||28||-2||San Francisco 49ers|
|Kansas City Chiefs||29||31||2||Los Angeles Chargers|
|Miami Dolphins||28||14||-14||Buffalo Bills|
Commentary and Quick Hits
- Here's another feather in the cap for Hill. Carolina is the quintessential "run funnel" defense.
- Kalen Ballage's matchup and volume look promising, but his inefficiency makes him bad chalk this week. Don't take the bait.
- As much as we've mentioned Samuel above, the ultimate leverage play might be Tevin Coleman. He'll be on fewer rosters, he has a good matchup, and he's the more proven commodity.
|vs. Wide Receivers|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||32||32||0||New Orleans Saints|
|Minnesota Vikings||31||31||0||Denver Broncos|
|Cincinnati Bengals||30||21||-9||Oakland Raiders|
|Oakland Raiders||27||28||1||Cincinnati Bengals|
|Houston Texans||27||29||2||Baltimore Ravens|
Commentary and Quick Hits
- Fade Thomas at your own peril, but the case for McCaffrey has been made above.
- If stacking Carr, Tyrell Williams -- not Waller -- is the answer. His price is more affordable relative to his position, and he's projected to be on fewer rosters.
- Houston is poor on both a raw DvP and an adjusted NSoS basis. Between that and the case for Brown-plus-Jackson stacks above, don't overlook the boom-or-bust rookie.
|vs. Tight Ends|
|Detroit Lions||32||24||-8||Dallas Cowboys|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||31||25||-6||New Orleans Saints|
|Cleveland Browns||30||10||-20||Pittsburgh Steelers|
|Dallas Cowboys||29||30||1||Detroit Lions|
|Oakland Raiders||28||27||-1||Cincinnati Bengals|
Commentary and Quick Hits
- It's a tough week for tight ends, as usual, since most of these offenses don't regularly use theirs.
- At tight end, look to offense (usage) more than matchup (defensive strength).
Questions, comments, suggestions, and other feedback on this piece are always welcome via e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org