In this weekly article, we’ll use the early betting lines from Vegas to take a deeper look at which games to target and avoid for NFL DFS. Implied team totals have positive correlations with fantasy output, especially for quarterbacks. Plus, we’ll highlight some potentially under the radar teams with high implied team totals despite a lower over/under. Note that these lines will probably change over the course of the week, which is why we call it ‘starting’ points. This article specifically focuses on the Sunday Main Slate, so check back for some Thanksgiving slate content Wednesday!
Las Vegas at Atlanta, Total 55.5
Atlanta didn’t work out so well last week, but this is where a short memory comes in handy. Atlanta’s opponent remains a no-brainer in DFS, meaning Derek Carr (best QB matchup) and Darren Waller (best TE matchup) are going to be highly rostered this weekend. No argument from me there, as Carr is coming off one of his best games of the season and Waller continues to play a distant (but still very good) TE2 to Travis Kelce’s No. 1 ranking. I’ve advocated for using Nelson Agholor at a bargain salary a number of times this season. He’s been the most consistent WR on the Raiders’ offense, not perfect, but five double-digit half-PPR fantasy games of the last seven (and the two misses were the weather game in Cleveland and Denver). He’s still remarkably cheap everywhere ($5200 FD, $4900 DK, $17 Yahoo). Henry Ruggs III has been waiting for a breakout all season (yes, he had a big two-catch game vs. Kansas City but his other seven games just barely add up to those fantasy points), but will still be rostered at a higher percentage than Agholor. His speed is an asset, and if there were a week to gamble on it getting him in the endzone, it’s against the Falcons’ secondary. Use Ruggs as an upside GPP play.
Back to the Falcons. They, too, have a much easier path to success this week than last. The Raiders rank as the sixth-most generous QB matchup and fourth-best running back matchup. Matt Ryan should bounce back in a big way here, and although Calvin Ridley was the best Atlanta had on Sunday, I’d bet on him to score in this game. Julio Jones reinjured his hamstring during the game and was in and out. I wouldn’t trust him this week regardless of his status. Russell Gage saw 12 targets in the embarrassing loss at least partly as a result of Jones’ injury, so if Jones is out, Gage is a cheaper, less trust-worthy Falcons’ option. With some prominent backs in great spots this weekend (Dalvin Cook and the Browns’ backs (see below) stand out), Todd Gurley may be somewhat off your radar. He hasn’t had a really good game since Detroit back at the end of October, but that was the last time he saw a matchup this good, too. New Orleans is one of the hardest teams in the league to run on, so I’m not holding his eight carries and dismal production against him. Prior to Week 11, he was averaging about 20 carries a game, and like I said, mostly succeeding in good matchups. He could be a lower rostered back that I trust this weekend.
LA Chargers at Buffalo, Total 54
This should be a great game to target for fantasy this weekend. The Western New York weather should be sunny and crisp, perfect football weather. It will be a tough choice between Justin Herbert and Josh Allen. Allen is just slightly more expensive on all three sites, with DraftKings having the biggest difference between them ($400). I plan to use both in GPP lineups, but with the larger implied team total, at home, with his legs, Allen is the cash game option. There are so many ways to play this game, and I can’t argue with any of them. Spending on Stefon Diggs has not disappointed yet this season. Neither has Keenan Allen. This is a quick way to run out of salary cap, but we have plenty of bargains to draw on this weekend too. Buffalo has been particularly susceptible to opposing slot receivers and tight ends, so Allen and Hunter Henry are my top Chargers priorities. Mike Williams is becoming less of a boom or bust play, and is definitely more affordable than Allen, but the floor is far lower, especially if Herbert takes what the Bills have been willing to give up all season long. I’ll be avoiding the running backs in this game, primarily because of the time share in Buffalo (and neither Zach Moss nor Devin Singletary is a focus of the offense, especially with the way Allen runs in touchdowns) and the way I think the Chargers will rely on the pass game. Kalen Ballage is still pretty affordable on FanDuel and Yahoo, but his DraftKings salary ($5800) is getting up there. He’s averaging 15 PPR fantasy points per game in the last three, so I get it, but given the other options and game flow factors here, I’m largely passing on Ballage.
New York Giants at Cincinnati, Total 42.5
It’s not a terrible spot for Daniel Jones and the Giants to come up big for fantasy, given that the Bengals have been pretty soft in the secondary, ranking in the Top 10 in fantasy points to receivers and Top 5 to tight ends. I’m considering Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram as possibilities, with or without Jones. All the Giants are a bit healthier this week coming off the bye, and even Wayne Gallman is an option – if he’s the amount of salary you have left for your last roster spot (not a guy to lock in no matter what). Gallman could be effective in garbage time…
The Bengals suffered a terrible loss when Joe Burrow tore his ACL in Week 11. I can’t roster Tyler Boyd, Tee Higgins, or even Giovanni Bernard until we see how Ryan Finley handles this game. It’s not going to be easy; the Bengals allowed Burrow to be sacked at the league’s second-highest rate (3.6 times per game). The Giants have proven opportunistic on defense as well, ranking T-7th in turnovers with 15 on the season.
New Orleans at Denver, Total 43.5
Look for a defensive showdown here, as even without Marcus Lattimore, the Saints were brutal to the Falcons in Week 11. Denver was surprisingly stout against Miami last week too. Neither team is completely shut-down/avoid, except New Orleans vs. the run (sorry, Philip Lindsey and Melvin Gordon, you’re out this week), but you’ll want to be very careful if you decide to spend on this game. One of the best plays is the Saints’ D/ST. New Orleans is one of those T-7th in turnovers teams, while no team in the league turns the ball over more than the Broncos (23 giveaways). Denver is also one of the lowest scoring teams in the league (sixth-fewest points per game).
You could certainly roll with Taysom Hill (now only QB-eligible, sadness) or Alvin Kamara, but that’s about all I’d consider here, and their salaries in a potentially low-scoring road game make them harder to trust for cash games.
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LA Rams vs. San Francisco, Total 46.5
The Rams put on an offensive show against the Bucs on MNF, and we saw some of the best Jared Goff has to offer. Both Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp had great games, and though the tight ends and running backs are to be avoided still, a little three-man Rams stack should work out ok in Week 12 as well. The 49ers defense has been inconsistent this season, but the Bucs and other teams the Rams have played aren’t exactly ‘easy’, so I’m not overthinking the matchup with them. With the Rams big home favorites, coming off the nice win Monday night, I’m keeping it rolling.
Cleveland at Jacksonville, Total 49
There can be no fantasy advice without including the team facing Jacksonville. Things keep deteriorating down there, with the Jags now representing Top 8 or better matchups to all four skill positions. It’s not to say that you can’t go wrong with the Browns, because you can. But with good weather, a real lack of defensive challenge, and home field advantage, I’m betting on Baker Mayfield, Nick Chubb, and Kareem Hunt being worth the salary this week. This team wants to run the ball seemingly 80 percent of the time and there have been several games where both backs met value. Including Mayfield accounts for any passing scores, but none of Jarvis Landry, Rashard Higgins or Austin Hooper can be trusted at this point. There’s a great chance one of them will score this week (my money’s on Higgins), so feel free to rotate them in a multi-entry tournament situation, but ride the running backs in cash games.
Miami at NY Jets, Total 44.5
Follow the faith of Vegas and trust that Tua Tagovailoa, Davante Parker, Salvon Ahmed and perhaps Mike Gesicki will bounce back this week vs. the Jets. Coming off a tough matchup with the Broncos, Tua will remain the starter, is not injured, and should have much smoother sailing in Week 12. The Jets rank fourth in fantasy points allowed to QBs, eighth to WRs, and seventh to RBs and TEs. Like with the Browns, it might be hard to go wrong with your Dolphins. Parker is the leading target-getter, and Ahmed has been the leading rusher. His salary is still very fair on all three sites, and is a nice way to balance out some of the spending I mentioned above. I’d like to see Gesicki carve out a more valuable role on this young team, but it isn’t happening fast, if at all. With guys like Kelce, Waller, and Henry on the slate in equally good spots, it’s hard to settle for Gesicki and another 6-8 fantasy point game.