Week 7 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:
Atlanta at New England, Total 54.5
With the highest game total of the 2017 season so far, it’s clear that Vegas likes both sides of this game, and the translation is that so should we. However, Matt Ryan, who gets the best on-paper fantasy matchup for quarterbacks, has been hugely disappointing. One factor could be that he is yet to face a team ranked in the top 10 in fantasy points allowed. He’s a preferred tournament option, given that the 300+ yard passing vs. New England streak was continued by Josh McCown last week, but at $8700 he’s too expensive for cash games given the production we’ve seen thus far. That goes for Julio Jones as well. I’ve continued to believe that Jones and Devonta Freeman are studs in the talent department, but Jones has yet to break 15 fantasy points in a game, and Freeman has done it just once this season. Again, the defensive numbers for the Pats support big break out possibilities for both Falcons players this weekend as the Patriots are nearly as bad at defending the run as they are the pass. The big question is volume. The bottom line is that if I’m going with an Atlanta tournament stack, it will be Ryan, Jones and Freeman. The rest of the offense, with the possible exception of Austin Hooper, who I think is a viable cash game play (16 targets in the last two games), is too fluky for my taste.
On the Patriots side, I was reluctant to use Tom Brady vs. the Jets because I thought they wouldn’t need to throw much, but it turns out my strategy worked because he just wasn’t very good. He posted his worst completion percentage since Week 1, and threw his second interception in two weeks. The Falcons are a middle-of-the-road QB defense, but it’s worth noting that only Aaron Rodgers has thrown for over 300 yards against them. The value of a healthy Rob Gronkowski certainly helps Brady’s case this week, and the plethora of weapons at his disposal from Brandin Cooks to apparently Dion Lewis (again) means he is always in contention for a huge game. So, Brady is a safe cash game play if you can afford him (I’d put his floor at 22 fantasy points in this game), with 30+ fantasy point upside. I’m in the same spot with Gronkowski, but reserving any Patriots running backs, Cooks, and Hogan for minimal usage in all formats.
New Orleans at Green Bay, Total 48
The Saints are on the road this weekend, but that’s the only bad thing you can say about them and their fantasy prospects. Drew Brees was a major let-down in a game that was one of the weirdest of the season in Week 6. Throwing for fewer than 200 yards in a game where the Saints put up over 50 real points is mind-boggling. The Packers defense is banged up to say the least and this projects as a good opportunity for Brees, Michael Thomas and company to bounce back. Thomas’ ownership is likely to be critically low, though his target volume and catch rate have been fine all season. He will catch more touchdowns this season than he has so far, and I bet one comes Sunday in Wisconsin.
The run game and defense for the Saints told the story in Week 6, and has a chance to be a strong correlation play again this weekend. With Brett Hundley under center for GB, I don’t hate the Saints D/ST. I don’t completely love them either, on the road, but think you can do worse for more of the salary cap. Mark Ingram was a big miss for me in Week 6, as it didn’t seem like Adrian Peterson was holding him back that much…I think many will pay the hefty new price for Ingram expecting a new norm of 30 touches and two touchdowns, but buyer beware. Ingram has always had the talent to put up these kind of games, but it’s rare that the situation/game flow allows it to come to fruition. Brees and Thomas make for the safest mini-stack, with Ingram a fine stand-alone cash game running back.
With a full week to practice with the starters and facing a Saints defense that isn’t as disruptive as it looked last week, I think Hundley improves a bit this weekend. At $6500, in this particular game, I like him as a cheap tournament play. Look for more in the Bargain Bin tomorrow…While I think there’s upside with Hundley, I like him as a stand-alone option rather than part of a stack. New QBs often favor the receiving targets they’ve worked with most often during practice (in Hundley’s case for the past couple years) and tight end security outlets, so it wouldn’t surprise me to see guys like Jeff Janis, Geronimo Allison, even Lance Kendricks get targets in this one. That is to say, I’m not willing to pay even the reduced salaries of Jordy Nelson or Davante Adams this week and will take a wait and see approach with this new Packers offense. The run game is interesting, because that’s an area where New Orleans has historically struggled and in terms of game planning, a strong run game takes a lot of pressure off Hundley. Picking which RB is going to be a headache, however. Adam Jones slightly out-carried Ty Montgomery in Week 6, but by a very small margin, and we should expect Montgomery to be healthier this week than last. I’m going Jones but not by much.
Monday Night Football: Washington at Philadelphia, Total 47.5, Eagles -5
If you’re playing the Thursday slate, there’s really no one not to like in this game. Kirk Cousins and Carson Wentz deserve consideration in all formats, as does Zach Ertz. Josh Doctson and Terrelle Pryor Sr. make for interesting tournament options, despite the former’s low snap count and the latter’s few targets. The Eagles give up the second-most fantasy points per game to wide receivers, and ownership should be low after last week’s disappointing numbers.
The low-scoring games:
New York Jets at Miami, Total 38.5
The Jets surprised a lot of people in last week’s close game with New England. Granted, it looks like Miami has a superior defense to the Patriots, but this is a team that can clearly surprise. I think we dampen any positive expectations for Josh McCown at $7K, though Austin Sefarian-Jenkins is still in play. His salary is under $6K and the Dolphins rank sixth in fantasy points allowed to TEs this year. The Jets defense is also an option here, despite their being on the road. Miami is barely beating out Buffalo and Cincinnati for the fewest points per game scored (16.8), while ranking in the bottom 10 in passing yards per game and bottom five in rushing yards per game. It’s impossible to trust anyone in the Miami offense in anything other than the riskiest tournament lineup (Jay Ajayi), considering that there are receivers I like more in Jarvis Landry’s price range.
Seattle at New York Giants, Total 38.5
The Giants stunned America and thousands of survivor pool players Sunday night with an outright blowout of the Denver Broncos. Still, Eli Manning accounted for just 128 passing yards in the win with virtually no one to throw to besides Evan Engram. We’ll keep an eye on the status of Sterling Shepard, whom I love, but I am going to full fade the New York offense vs. Seattle regardless of whether Shepard is active. The Seahawks rank in the bottom five in fantasy points allowed to both opposing quarterbacks and running backs. The team total for the Giants is still under 18, a range I want no part of.
Seattle comes off their bye week for a big east coast trip. Expect this to be an easier cross-country game than most given the additional rest Seahawks players will have had and the fact that it’s a 4:25 EST start time. I think it’s an interesting spot to roster Russell Wilson and Doug Baldwin. This duo has usually increased in fantasy value as the season goes on and I think they will be a bit overlooked coming off the bye (recency bias) and on the road. Jimmy Graham has a chance to take advantage of that leaky middle in the Giants defense, as they still rank first in fantasy points allowed to tight ends. The Seahawks could potentially have four healthy running backs this weekend, which is another situation I’m inclined to avoid.
High team totals you might miss:
Tennessee at Cleveland, Total 46
Marcus Mariota looked pretty damn good after missing just one week with his sore hamstring. He didn’t run at all, but with DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry playing well, it wasn’t necessary. Meanwhile, Cleveland has allowed a league-high 14 passing touchdowns and the second-most fantasy points per game to quarterbacks. Mariota is a strong cash game option in the low $8K range. With him, I prefer Delanie Walker, though Walker is down in the touchdown department this season, that is something I expect to regress. What better time than vs. the porous Browns TE defense? You couldn’t argue with using the Titans defense this week either. The Browns lead the league in turnovers (16), with both DeShone Kizer (9) and Kevin Hogan (5) throwing plenty of interceptions so whomever the starter is is nothing to necessarily worry about. The poor QB play in Cleveland makes just about all their skill players useless for DFS. I’ve tried believing (for tournaments) in David Njoku or Ricardo Louis but it’s a futile exercise, I’m afraid.