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.
Seattle at Buffalo, Total 54.5
Seattle is now the best overall fantasy matchup in the league, allowing the most fantasy points to opposing QBs and WRs. They are also the league-best offense, scoring more points per game than any other team. I’m almost always going to be fine with recommending Russell Wilson, Tyler Lockett and/or DK Metcalf…if you can afford it. Metcalf is more expensive than Lockett, and might be shadowed by Tre’Davious White. The Bills’ pass defense has averaged fewer than 200 passing yards allowed in the last four weeks (though their last two opponents have not been teams I’d want to weight that stat too heavily on, the other two were Chiefs and Titans). Thus, if I’m picking one Seahawks receiver, it will most likely be Lockett this week. DeeJay Dallas is a super-good bargain on Yahoo if he gets the nod again this week – it’s too early to say at this point whether Chris Carson or anyone else will be able to play.
Though Seattle is favored here, we should be expecting Buffalo to score points. It’s been a while since the Bills were one of the highest scoring teams in the league after four weeks of play. Although Josh Allen hasn’t thrown a touchdown pass in the last two games, he’s still averaging about 25 fantasy points per game, and his real threat is in running them in anyway. He’s priced right in my opinion, not too expensive to auto-fade, and not cheap enough to auto-roster. It’s hard to envision this game without at least one Allen-to-Stefon Diggs touchdown, and they could do much more damage at home, with good fall Buffalo weather, in this all-time great passing matchup. Diggs is pricey, too, but should have one of his best games of the season. To save some salary, or hedge your Diggs shares, I don’t hate John Brown, but you have to accept the much lower floor he offers.
I’m not going to chase Zach Moss’ touchdowns from Week 8 in this matchup. The game should be back and forth, and a grind it out and kick field goals approach won’t work well against Seattle. Moss could get the red zone work again, sure, but Allen sees himself as a sure thing in most of those situations. Devin Singletary is not figuring in my DFS planning this week.
Detroit at Minnesota, Total 53
Vegas is on it here too, with Minnesota now ranking as the second-most overall fantasy defense. Hopefully that holds true for the non-Green Bay members of their division. The Vikings went back to a Dalvin Cook offense against the generous Packers last week, and I expect more of the same this weekend. Detroit ranks second in fantasy points allowed to running backs this season, and Cook could have more touchdowns in two weeks than some teams have this season (looking at you, New York). Ok, that might be exaggerating, but I love Cook this week if you can close your eyes, click and make up the salary elsewhere. With him healthy, it is almost impossible to consider the Vikings pass attack.
As noted, the Vikings are a matchup to exploit. After two other good ones, Matthew Stafford finally came through with a fantasy-worthy game in Week 8. Against the Colts, of all teams, who had been one of, if not the, toughest fantasy matchups. Ah, well, all it took was Kenny Golladay getting hurt apparently. If Golladay remains out, Stafford and Marvin Jones Jr. or Marvin Hall make for a nice mini-stack with Cook. No idea what the odds are that we’ll ever see an NFL team with two starting wide receivers named Marvin again, but both saw seven targets in Week 8. Jones Jr. logged all three red zone targets, which demonstrates Stafford’s trust in the veteran. Jones is no lock to score twice again this week, but I’d bet on him getting one against this soft secondary. Hall is the salary-saving risk/reward play here, if Golladay is out as expected.
D’Andre Swift had a tougher go of it vs. the Colts staunch run defense, but I wouldn’t necessarily go back to him this week either. I don’t expect game flow to favor a run-heavy script, and even when it does, Adrian Peterson is still very much in the picture. It’s an avoidable backfield for me.
New York Giants at Washington, Total 43
Football Team minus-3.5
Neither offense here is worth considering too hard. Both rank in the bottom three in points scored per game, and both defenses have been ok. Washington actually allows the fourth-fewest overall fantasy points to their opponents this year, and ranks fifth in sacks per game with 3.1. On the other side of the ball, part of New York’s problem is turnovers – they rank third (tied with New England and Denver) with 15 giveaways this season. The Washington Defense is definitely in play this weekend, if you need or want to save salary you can by coming down from the Steelers.
If the salary was right and you weren’t using either defense, I could see fitting Evan Engram into lineups (Washington has been susceptible to opposing TEs), or differentiating a tournament lineup at RB with Antonio Gibson.
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Carolina at Kansas City, Total 52.5
I feel like the Chiefs always end up here. Patrick Mahomes is coming off a masterful game that I, for one, did not think he was going to need to beat the Jets soundly. The respect is back, that’s for sure. Carolina has actually looked like a decent pass defense, but I think that is mostly due to how easy it has been for opponents to run the ball on them. Le’Veon Bell and Clyde Edwards-Helaire should take advantage of the fourth-best RB matchup as I expect the Chiefs to roll with a more balanced playbook this weekend. Given the equal (exactly equal) distribution of carries and targets between those two, I’m going with the cheaper option, which is Bell, by a wide margin on all three sites.
Travis Kelce might be the only TE in the league you can trust right now, but it is a top-heavy week. You can’t pay up for every position…and the same is true for Tyreek Hill. If you find a way to fit multiple Chiefs in your lineups I do not think you’ll be disappointed with their output. You might be disappointed by the scrubs you have to surround them with though. Last thought – despite the big spread, I’m not targeting the Chiefs’ D/ST. They’re very expensive and the Panthers would be a lot more dangerous if Christian McCaffrey makes his return this week.