Week 10 NFL DFS Starting Points: Vegas Lines
You know that targeting the highest scoring games and particularly the teams with the highest implied totals makes sense in fantasy football. This analysis will highlight exactly which situations are the best to take advantage of and which you might want to avoid within those games. We’ll also highlight a couple games to use caution with as well as some less obvious targets. All salaries listed are for FanDuel.
The high scoring games:
Dallas at Atlanta, Total 51
My main question when I look at this line is whether the Julio Jones and Devonta Freeman injuries have anything to do with the Falcons being favored here. Two of the most under-performing skill players in DFS, Jones has a leg injury and Freeman’s is undisclosed, clouding their availability for Week 10. Beyond the snark in that opener, I am confused. Dallas ranks fourth in points scored per game, averaging about a touchdown more than the Falcons. Atlanta’s defense, like Dallas’, falls precisely in the middle of the pack in points allowed. All things considered, I like Dallas here.
Of course, big questions remain around Ezekiel Elliott too. I’m over making assumptions about his case, but it will be decided this week. Then there is Dez Bryant’s knee and ankle injuries, which don’t sound serious enough to keep him out of this game, and Terrance Williams’ ankle which we need to hear more about. All that aside for a moment, Dak Prescott has been one of the most consistently good QBs this season and he’s the reason I’m backing Dallas here. His passing yard totals are not the flashiest, but he has multiple touchdowns in all but two games this year plus four rushing. The fact that Vegas likes the home Falcons probably means they think Elliott will be suspended for real this time, which adds to Prescott’s appeal. This is the only truly high-scoring game of the week, so I think it’s worth paying up for Dak.
As the injury report comes out, we’ll know more, but it looks like this potentially high scoring game could yield some value among wide receivers. Mohamed Sanu has been a trusted option for Matt Ryan over the last three weeks, with two touchdowns and a 75 percent catch rate. He’s under $6K and a great bargain bin contender with Jones questionable. Ryan’s price is in a range I can stomach for cash games ($7700), though he hasn’t exceeded 20 fantasy points this season, limiting my enthusiasm in tournaments despite the high team total Atlanta boasts this week. For Dallas, Cole Beasley ($5400) stepped up when Bryant left the game, catching two short touchdowns in the Cowboys’ Week 9 win. Brice Butler ($4900) has also shown big play ability if the opportunity arises. If Dez is out, I’ll also consider paying what seems like a too-high price for Jason Witten ($5700) coming off a one-target game vs. Kansas City.
The low-scoring games:
Green Bay at Chicago, Total 38.5
In one day, the total on this game went down 2.5 points and the spread increased by two points. What happened in between? The Packers played Monday Night Football. Sort of. This was a dismal game by everyone in green and yellow. Brett Hundley saved his fantasy night by rushing for a second touchdown, though he still hasn’t passed for one. He often held the ball too long, which is typical of young back-up QBs, even those who studied under Aaron Rodgers. On the plus side for Hundley, his salary is low, but that’s about where it ends. Chicago ranks in the bottom five in fantasy points allowed to QBs, the Bears are in the bottom half of the league in points allowed per game, rank ninth in sacks and have allowed the fourth-fewest touchdowns through the air (eight). I’m fading all Packers, including the running backs, who both failed to take the pressure off Hundley Monday night.
The Packers defense isn’t one to fear, as they are middle of the pack or worse against the run, the pass, and overall. The guy I’m excited about is Jordan Howard, who should be fully healthy coming off the bye and is averaging well over 20 carries during the last six games. He’s a very reasonable $7200 and just needs a touchdown or two to really exceed value. Mitchell Trubisky remains a big risk despite a salary nearly as low as Hundley’s. He hasn’t exceeded 11 fantasy points yet in his four starts, and the lack of consistency or efficiency from his wide receivers bodes poorly for that changing anytime soon. Tarik Cohen has sadly been a non-factor for some time now, and though Dontrelle Inman has now had some time to get acclimated to his new team, it’s hard to see him suddenly becoming a WR1 with Tre McBride and Kendall Wright still struggling for receptions from their shaky rookie QB.
Cincinnati at Tennessee, Total 40.5
Cincinnati has been a pretty good pass defense this season, allowing the fifth-fewest passing yards per game, but they’ve faced some pretty bad offenses too. The same could be said for Andy Dalton, who has largely struggled in all but the best matchups. Marcus Mariota has struggled in even the best matchups (Cleveland) and has notably rushed for just 14 total yards in his last three games. His 30-40 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns through the first four games of the season made up for his lack of passing touchdowns, so without that boost, Mariota has not been a value-exceeding DFS option lately. With the low total on this game, I’m not into either quarterback at $7700. There are several options in that price range I prefer (e.g. Ben Roethlisberger, Jared Goff, and even Josh McCown).
Watch for news on DeMarco Murray’s knee as the week progresses; if he expects to be out or limited, I love the value of Derrick Henry at $5100 for a full game. Henry has shown what he can do with volume, and the Titans will be wise to establish the run in this game. Joe Mixon is still the “lead” back in Cincinnati, but his yardage on the ground leaves a lot to be desired. The Titans are allowing fewer than 100 rushing yards per game, so Mixon is once again going to be TD or big play dependent. Use him in tournaments only. Tyler Kroft has emerged as a player I believe in. The Bengals like a pass-catching tight end, and Kroft is a big, sure-handed target.
High team totals you might miss:
Pittsburgh at Indianapolis, Total 44.5
The Steelers are looking like DFS’ best friend this weekend. They were off last week, so the disappointment of their fantasy performances over the previous two weeks is a distant memory for us. The road issue applies, but I – and Vegas – think the Colts trump it. Ben Roethlisberger is affordable, but Antonio Brown and Le'Veon Bell are both over $9K, the second and third most expensive players this week. Bell is my preference thanks to his high volume and road neutrality. The Colts DvP to all positions other than tight end is top 10 so you probably won’t go wrong with any of the big three if you can afford them in a tournament stack. The Steelers D/ST also is in play as the Colts surrender the most fantasy points to opposing fantasy defenses this season.
In a game Vegas expects to be so one-sided, I like to hedge with the underdog when that underdog is a team coming off solid performances vs. Houston and Cincinnati where they put up 20 and 23 points, respectively. Pittsburgh has been tough on opposing QBs, but Alex Smith and maybe Matthew Stafford are the best they’ve faced by far. I think a Jacoby Brissett with T.Y. Hilton stack has potential this weekend too, just like I wrote last week when the Colts were massive underdogs to the Texans.
Cleveland at Detroit, Total 41.5
Matthew Stafford’s great MNF game says as much or more about the Packers defense as it does about the state of the Lions’ offense, but good news! They step into another top QB matchup with the Browns this weekend. Stafford is absolutely in play at $8200, and choosing between him and Jared Goff at this price point will be interesting. I definitely want some exposure to both. Marvin Jones Jr. stole the MNF show with his two touchdowns, but Golden Tate caught seven of nine targets for over 100 receiving yards, his best total since Week 1. The volume is there for Tate, but the red zone belongs firmly to Jones Jr. (who has a whopping 36 targets and three touchdowns in the last three games). This is a version of the Amari Cooper (more targets, higher price)/Michael Crabtree (more touchdowns, cheaper) DFS conundrum we wrestled with in 2016. I went Crabtree then and I stick with Jones Jr. now, with some sadness that he’s just out of bargain bin eligibility this week.
If I’m using anyone from the Browns, it’s the running backs. Not only are both Duke Johnson Jr. and Isaiah Crowell good values, they’re both getting a lot of touches/targets. Despite what we saw from the Packers backs Monday night, Detroit’s primary weakness is against the run. They’ve given up seven rushing touchdowns (one receiving) to running backs despite averaging fewer than 100 yards per game, which is good for 10th in fantasy points allowed to RBs.