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.
Green Bay at Detroit, Total 55.5
The positional matchups that jump out in this game are the rushing ones. Detroit is the most generous run defense for fantasy, and Green Bay ranks third. Aaron Jones, a favorite from last week’s article, is in for another great opportunity. As we saw even David Montgomery run all over the Lions, this matchup should not be passed by. The implied team total for the Packers makes Aaron Rodgers a consideration yet again. Like last week, he might not be the best value on the board in terms of points per dollar, but he should turn in another solid performance in this divisional matchup. He can be had at a slightly lower salary on DraftKings and Yahoo, but is the most expensive option on FanDuel this week. Davante Adams steps into what has been the eighth-best WR matchup, but he is nearly the most expensive player at any position on all three sites. Dalvin Cook has him beat, but man, you’re paying for the unstoppable Adams. The only reason to fade him is price. If you can fit him in, and not hate the rest of your lineup, do it.
Though the Packers are the highest scoring offense in the league, and that leads them to win a lot of games, their defense isn’t unpenetrable. As noted, if he plays, D’Andre Swift gets a great matchup on the ground. If Swift doesn’t play, I’m more stuck. Adrian Peterson has been terrific the last two games with Swift out, and is still priced for all the doubt I still have about him. He’s tough to fade if Swift is out despite the gross feeling of rostering Peterson at this stage. But I expect Swift to be back this week, and he, too, is reasonably priced for this great spot.
Tennessee at Jacksonville, Total 53.5
This is probably my favorite game for DFS this week. There are safe cash game plays, and GPP plays galore. There is no bad matchup to be found, except maybe the Jacksonville D/ST. Both teams offer Top 10 fantasy matchups to every position. From Derrick Henry to Corey Davis, from James Robinson to Laviska Shenault or Collin Johnson, I’m not arguing against any of them. Of course, A.J. Brown, DJ Chark, Jonnu Smith and the QBs should be considered as well. This is a mix and match game, stackable in a number of different ways. My favorite plays based on predicted production, price, ownership and matchup are: Ryan Tannehill, Davis, Robinson, Shenault, and Smith.
Minnesota at Tampa Bay, Total 52.5
The Vikings come into this game red-hot and Justin Jefferson is to blame. He has been fantastic in his last four games (and in seven of the 12 he’s played in so far). His salary has finally come up and he’s more expensive than Adam Thielen on FanDuel and DraftKings. The Vikings face a tougher challenge defensively this weekend, as the Bucs defensive line is tough to crack. They are tied with the sixth-most sacks per game (2.8) and third-most takeaways on the season (20). They have been especially effective in stopping the run this year, allowing just the fourth-fewest fantasy points per game to opponents. That means Dalvin Cook, with his sky-high salary, could end up on the outside looking into my lineups this week. But I think this could even be a down game for Kirk Cousins, which means I’m not going to be rostering him or Jefferson (or Thielen) this week like I was last week.
Game flow could be a factor too. The Bucs are big favorites with one of the higher implied team totals this week, coming off their bye week and at home. Tom Brady, Chris Godwin, Mike Evans and Antonio Brown are going to look to get back into the win column in a big way. They had lost the two games prior to the break by a score of 24-27 (Rams and Chiefs). Brady threw a couple bad interceptions that are kind of scarring my ability to roster him, but if I can put my bias aside, this is an ideal spot for him to shine. His FanDuel salary is the friendliest, but you can fit Brady in anywhere. I have no problem going solo Brady, or combining him with Godwin or Evans – the top pass-catchers in this offense, but I’m less enthusiastic about Brown and the tight ends, at least in cash games. I really think it could be a huge Godwin game, assuming he practices Thursday and/or Friday and is a full go.
I’m very curious to see how many people roster Ronald Jones this weekend. The team says he needs 20 touches or more, and on paper he’s clearly been the best back in Tampa. Whether that translates to actual usage is anyone’s guess. History says no. That said, Jones has been very good when he gets the opportunity and game flow could make an impact on him too. Some exposure to Jones, with a pretty sweet price tag on all three sites, is definitely warranted.
Editor's Note: Looking for an added edge? Dominate all season long with our DFS Toolkit. Use our Lineup Optimizer to come up with winning lineups for DraftKings, FanDuel, and Yahoo! Click here for more!
Washington at San Francisco, Total 43.5
Washington should be riding high after knocking off the undefeated Steelers, while San Francisco couldn’t quite get enough done to beat Buffalo this past Monday night. I’m honestly surprised the spread isn’t closer given that the 49ers are not really “home”, and that the Football Team is coming together around Alex Smith. Smith had an especially nice connection with Logan Thomas, something I pray continues. Thomas had his first score since Week 1, and showed enough that I would want to see the ball in his hands more often. I like him as a DFS play this week because although the 49ers allow the least fantasy points to tight ends, they haven’t really played any teams that feature a talented pass-catching tight end. So Thomas could end up being low-owned and cheap, but exceed value pretty easily. I’m not suggesting going all in on the Football Team, as they are probably going to be without Antonio Gibson and Terry McLaurin has just disappeared. JD McKissic might be worth a spot if Gibson is out, but that’s about it unless you’re doing a tournament stack of Smith, Thomas, McKissic.
The Washington Defense is no joke. Although they’ve been better at home than on the road, they aren’t easy anywhere, allowing the eighth-fewest real points per game and seventh-fewest fantasy points per game. Nick Mullens does some things well, and Deebo Samuel looked decent against the Bills (who are weakest across the middle), but I think Mullens is going to struggle against this Washington defensive front. You can pick and choose from this game, but don’t make it a heavy target. I like Samuel and Thomas best.
Seattle vs. NY Jets, Total 47
Am I a broken record, or could this be the week that Russell Wilson and the Seahawks get it together in the passing game? All signs (again) point to a yes. Given that their salaries are all still very steep, I’m reserving a Seahawks stack for tournaments. Mix and match DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett. Include Chris Carson, who was very good in the passing game, accounting for Wilson’s only Week 13 touchdown vs. the Giants. If you want to go crazy, roster Will Dissly or Jacob Hollister in the league’s best TE matchup, but know that it’s crazy.
This is a good one to game stack, given that the Seahawks’ defense has been lax. I mean, Colt McCoy and the Giants just beat them. That was largely due to a successful ground campaign by Alfred Morris and Wayne Gallman, but Seattle still ranks first in fantasy points to wide receivers and second to QBs. Sam Darnold, Jamison Crowder, Denzel Mims, and Ty Johnson should also be on your large-field tournament radar.
Kansas City at Miami, Total 49
This line actually shows some respect for the Dolphins’ defense, which is allowing the second-fewest points in the league, and allowing opponents the fifth-fewest fantasy points overall. Patrick Mahomes and Co. are truly matchup-proof, however, and MAhomes is a player I’m almost always fine to roster. He is the most expensive player on Yahoo this week, the most expensive QB on DraftKings, but only third on FanDuel. Still costly, though. If you were going to invest in multiple Chiefs this week, I’d look at the best of them. Tyreek Hill or Travis Kelce will cost you, but they are the safest and highest upside options.
If you’re looking for exposure to this game without breaking the bank, consider Clyde Edwards-Helaire. The Chiefs seem to have abandoned the run game lately – tough run defense in Week 12 (Tampa Bay) and without a healthy Edwards-Helaire last week, as no one has seen more than 11 carries since Week 11 (CEH had 14 carries, and two touchdowns that week). If Edwards-Helaire practices in full this week, he makes for an interesting tournament option. His volume has fluctuated all season long, but when he’s good, he’s been very good, and his salary hasn’t been this low in a long time.
If you’re a fan of guys playing from behind, expect good things from Tua Tagovailoa, Davante Parker and maybe Mike Gesicki. The issue I have is the inconsistency on the offensive side from Miami, and the power of the Chiefs’ D, especially against the pass. This will certainly be an opportunity to test out the “up tempo” theory of Tagovailoa’s game. With their run game a question mark this early in the week, right now, I’m not targeting any Dolphins for DFS.