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.
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Seattle at Minnesota, Total 55.5 points
The matchups here align perfectly with our DFS plans. The Seahawks have been exceptionally lax against the run, while Minnesota has been among the worst at defending opposing pass games. Dalvin Cook, Russell Wilson, and Tyler Lockett get the best matchups out there in this super-high scoring game. That trio will set you back, so I’m still a fan of considering DK Metcalf, who has looked like an afterthought but is getting cheaper. If you can afford him, Lockett looks fantastic, is getting open, and Wilson is not missing him even on those deep passes. The Vikings pass game is a possibility as well. Adam Thielen continued to impress with his third TD in Week 2, while Justin Jefferson got on the board with 10 targets vs. the Cardinals. K.J. Osborn is the value play here, as he now has 11 catches on 19 targets ($3500 DK, $5100 FD, $13 Yahoo). Kirk Cousins is looking good, but if I’m allowed one QB from this game, it’s going to be Wilson as only the third-fourth most expensive option at the position.
Tampa Bay at LA Rams, Total 55 points
On paper, the Rams will have the easier time this weekend as the Bucs have allowed a lot of fantasy points to their opponents (fifth most overall, ninth to QB and third-most to WR). Matthew Stafford and Cooper Kupp seem to have one of those rare connections that we’ll be talking about for ages. Kupp’s 16 receptions lead the league as do his 26-plus fantasy points per game (depending on scoring). He seems cheap on FanDuel and Yahoo, but his $6800 tag on DraftKings screams “must play”. Robert Woods and Darrell Henderson, assuming he progresses to full practice by Friday, would be my tournament plays from the Rams.
The Buccaneers mixed things up again in Week 2, with Mike Evans being the hero, though there was plenty of offense to go around, with Chris Godwin catching a touchdown and Rob Gronkowski challenging Travis Kelce for the top TE honors with his fourth TD of the year. This figures to be a real test of the Tom Brady and the Bucs but Vegas believes in them. My plan is to use solo Brady, Brady and Gronk, and/or rotate the receivers through my GPP lineups. Any one of Antonio Brown, Godwin, or Evans could easily be the odd man out this weekend.
LA Chargers at Kansas City, Total 55.5 points
It wouldn’t be a Starting Points article without a Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill mention, right? Though the Chargers defense has held Washington and Dallas to an average of only 18 points per game, the Chiefs are the third-highest scoring offense so far. Vegas thinks they have a big day ahead of them against an old division rival. Mahomes boasts one of the best completion percentages in the league (76.1) on 67 attempts resulting in six touchdowns and only one pick. If you can afford him, there’s no reason to fade Mahomes in this game, nor his chief weapons, Kelce and Hill. Although Clyde Edward-Helaire should get a good on-paper matchup, his usage and production hasn’t been great (three targets, only 89 yards on 27 attempts, zero scores). The lack of general enthusiasm around CEH, combined with his lower salary and favorable game environment makes him an interesting tournament play.
DraftKings is the only site where Mike Williams’ salary is creeping anywhere near Keenan Allen’s. Williams is super affordable everywhere, given that he ranks second behind CeeDee Lamb in targets (with 22), and has been a reliable red zone target for Justin Herbert (two TDs on five targets vs. zero for three for Allen). I’m happy to include Williams in any cash game or tournament lineup, and I’m using the higher-priced and touchdown-less Allen in tournaments with Herbert and Austin Ekeler. The Chiefs continue to be susceptible to opposing running backs, and Ekeler is clearly the lead guy on the ground and reliable as ever through the air (nine catches on nine targets).
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Atlanta at NY Giants, Total 43 points
Given that both defenses here are pretty loose, this game doesn’t have to be a total avoid. In season-long leagues, people are starting Saquon Barkley, Sterling Shepard, Calvin Ridley, Kyle Pitts, maybe Darius Slayton (that might be me in a 14-team league) etc. Daniel Jones is actually the QB 5 right now in FanDuel scoring and it could be much more if his huge run last Thursday didn’t get called back. But with so many good games, and teams with these mega implied team totals, it’s hard to back either the Giants’ or the Falcons’ skill players. Unlike the teams that sometimes occupy this space, I also wouldn’t target the defenses here, since the upside is low.
Buffalo vs. Washington, Total 46 points
The Bills looked pretty good in Week 2, shutting out the Dolphins. Meanwhile, the Football Team’s defense hasn’t been as good as expected leading to this massive spread in favor of the Bills in Buffalo. Josh Allen is always a high-floor play with upside, and he is up among the QB leaders for pass attempts with 84. Despite his 22 targets, we haven’t seen the big Stefon Diggs game yet, but given how well QB correlates with team total, and how much Allen prioritizes Diggs, this weekend could be it. Cole Beasley and Emmanuel Sanders are a bit behind in targets, and are not high-priority DFS plays. I also wouldn’t chase Zach Moss’ two touchdown game. Devin Singletary actually looked like the better overall back, averaging 6.3 yards per carry. Both guys saw three opportunities in the red zone, but again, I’m sticking with the Allen-Diggs combination here. Consider the Bills defense in this matchup, given that they are home and coming off a shut out with six sacks and three turnovers. They’re $11 on Yahoo!
Baltimore at Detroit, Total 50 points
So far, Baltimore is the fourth-highest scoring team while also allowing the third-most points. They have given up more overall fantasy points than any other team, so this isn’t a case where you should be afraid to stack Ravens and Lions together. Lamar Jackson had two rushing touchdowns in Week 2, which was nice to see. He has yet to throw a passing TD from inside the red zone, but has aired it out to both Marquise Brown and Sammy Watkins. Jackson alone is the safe play here, but either of Brown, Watkins, or my personal favorite this week, Mark Andrews make for good tournament plays. Andrews should be targeted more than he has been (and I know the danger of rostering people based on “should”). Detroit is a great fantasy matchup for Ty’Son Williams and Latavius Murray, but which one, if any, will be worth the investment? Williams has looked consistently good, averaging 6.5 YPC, and catching five of six targets. The fact that Jackson is such a strong runner makes it hard to trust either Ravens back in cash games.
Arizona at Jacksonville, Total 52.5 points
There is certainly no shortage of good games to draw from this weekend, phew. Kyler Murray has been stellar so far and this should be his best matchup yet. I’m not sure how the spread isn’t bigger, but the Cardinals are on the road. The only objection to Murray is cost, and with him I like Chase Edmonds, DeAndre Hopkins….Rondale Moore, Maxx Williams, James Conner, AJ Green and Christian Kirk, in that order. Williams is coming off a nice game, catching all seven of his targets for 94 yards and makes for a cheap TE play in this high scoring game. Edmonds and Hopkins are cash-game worthy, while Conner and the other receivers are more tournament plays. I think Conner will eventually have a good game, as he is actually four carries ahead of Edmonds, and this defense could be his best chance yet. He’s tough to use on DraftKings (full PPR) as he gets zero targets, but is a sneaky play on the other sites and serves as significant salary savings. I’m good with using the Cardinals defense here too, given that Trevor Lawrence has made mistakes (five interceptions so far), the Jaguars are the fourth-lowest scoring team in the league, and Arizona is averaging 3.5 sacks per game. Their price varies widely, being a bargain on DraftKings, but the most expensive unit on Yahoo.
New York Jets at Denver, Total 41 points
I’ve been pretty high on Denver and they luck into another sweet matchup this week. Teddy Bridgewater is a surprising QB12 right now, with four passing touchdowns, zero interceptions and a 77.1 completion percent. His salary has come up, which given the number of other top options sort of takes him out of consideration. I see Wilson, Brady, Murray, Allen, Stafford, even Goff having better odds of a 35-plus fantasy point game. Bridgewater should come through with his typical 20-ish here, but given how good Melvin Gordon and Javonte Williams have been, Denver could elect to run the ball extensively if they get the expected lead. Denver’s wide receivers have been hot plays if you pick correctly. Tim Patrick was the hero in Week 1, while Courtland Sutton was a huge bargain in Week 2. Noah Fant is also in the mix here as a mid-range option that will probably go overlooked in favor of more expensive guys like Kelce or cheaper fliers like Jared Cook or Maxx Williams.