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.
Detroit at Atlanta, Total 56.5 points
Here’s your weekly Atlanta segment, as the Falcons are still allowing opponents the most overall fantasy points and fifth most real points. Coming off a surprisingly good game in Week 6, they are small home favorites over the Lions, who profile as a neutral opponent almost across the board. Matt Ryan came away with four touchdowns and zero picks after throwing just one touchdown pass in the previous three games. There will be some point chasing with Ryan this week, but his salary isn’t prohibitive by any stretch ($28 Yahoo, $7800 FD, $6700 DK). Julio Jones was a huge part of Ryan’s success in Week 6, and if he gets through another week with no hamstring set-backs, he’s good to go again here. Everyone but Yahoo still has Calvin Ridley at a higher salary than Jones (Jones is $1 more than Ridley on Yahoo), which will probably drive rostership to Jones. Don’t forget that Ridley was also productive last Sunday, catching six of seven targets for 61 yards and a score. He may end up being lower-owned than Jones with the bigger stat line this week.
Todd Gurley is the Falcon with the best on-paper matchup. The good news for Gurley is that even when Brian Hill saw action in Week 6, he was awful, managing just 28 yards on 10 carries with six receiving yards. He also fumbled. The bad news for Gurley is that he didn’t do much better. Minnesota has allowed a lot of 100-yard rushers this season, but Gurley, despite 20 carries, only made 47 yards. With 40 points on the board, he accounted for zero. Detroit has allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to running backs this year, so I’m probably still going to run Gurley out in a GPP lineup for the potential multi-TD upside.
The Lions are only a small road underdog here, and Matthew Stafford gets the best QB matchup in the league. Kenny Golladay, D’Andre Swift and T.J. Hockenson join him with Top 5 matchups for their respective positions. I honestly expect higher roster percentages on Lions than Falcons given the matchups and salaries. Swift finally had the breakout game we’ve been waiting for, and while I don’t believe we’ve seen the last of Adrian Peterson, I do think Swift can be rostered with some confidence, particularly in matchups like this. His salary ($5400DK, $6100 FD, and $20 Yahoo) is easy to fit on every site. Stafford and Golladay suffered from Swift’s productivity, as they didn’t need to go pass-heavy to win easily vs. Jacksonville. If Vegas is right, that won’t be the case this week, and Golladay should be a mainstay in all kinds of lineups given a very fair salary on all three sites.
Green Bay at Houston, Total 56.5 points
Aaron Rodgers came back to Earth with a thud in Week 6. Throwing his first two interceptions of the season along with just 160 yards and zero touchdowns was a blow to many fantasy teams last week. The Bucs pass defense is much improved this year, which is something to note, but looking ahead, the Texans’ is not. Houston is allowing the fifth-most overall fantasy points with especially generous matchups for running backs and wide receivers. Aaron Jones will be my favorite Packer, followed by Davante Adams. I’m not saying don’t use Rodgers here, but there are several high-priced QBs to choose from while at RB, it’s Jones and/or Alvin Kamara for me this week. DraftKings and FanDuel let you get him at a discount, while Yahoo has Jones No. 2 behind Kamara. Sharp. There might be an opportunity for a Robert Tonyan rebound, but I maintain that we have seen his best fantasy game of the season. I’d rather use someone like Hunter Henry for around the same price. When Adams is healthy, he’s the only GB receiver I feel safe rostering. Predicting a random Marquez Valdes-Scantling touchdown is not my thing. If you feel like a massive Packers stack is in your best interest in a multi-entry GPP, at least MVS is cheap.
The Texans also hold a lot of value this week. The fantasy matchups aren’t so glaringly good as the Packers are about league average against the pass. However, Ronald Jones’ big day tipped the scales against running backs, and the Packers are now the best fantasy RB matchup. They had previously allowed big days to Dalvin Cook and Alvin Kamara too, so David Johnson certainly has the potential for a nice day. Of course, I would bet that Green Bay is going to be putting some energy in this week to prevent that kind of embarrassing performance from happening again and the emphasis in the previous sentence was on potential. Johnson has been a letdown more often than not (relative to high expectations in good spots), but has also only been under double-digit fantasy points in PPR scoring once this season. He has yet to catch a touchdown, a facet of the game where he once excelled. I’m using Johnson in GPP lineups on DraftKings ($5300) and FanDuel ($6300), but RB salaries on Yahoo are less straightforward.
Back to the pass game, I’m maybe slightly starting to believe that Brandin Cooks’ slow start was just that. Acclimation, getting the trust of Deshaun Watson, learning the routes, etc. His last two games have been great, and so have Will Fuller V’s. The Texans’ defense is going to get them into plenty of shootout games this season, and Watson, when he’s “on” can certainly support two fantasy worthy wide receivers. If I were making one four-man stack this week, it’d be Houston.
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Seattle at Arizona, Total 55 points
Seattle comes off the BYE still leading the league in scoring and rivaling Atlanta when it comes to the best opponent matchups. Seattle ranks as the best WR matchup, second-best for QBs. They are second overall fantasy points allowed, too. On offense, Russell Wilson, D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett have been DFS heroes all season, but Lockett is the best value this week. All three sites have him priced in a sweet spot. FanDuel also has a low tag on Metcalf, and only DraftKings lists Wilson as the most expensive QB this weekend. I like seeing this high team total on Seattle given that Arizona looks so good on paper, allowing the second-fewest real points per game in the league. Vegas clearly thinks that has a lot to do with their opponents so far. Without going too overboard on Seahawks, Chris Carson is really inexpensive on DraftKings ($6400), and prior to the break had two great games bringing him to a season average of 20 PPR fantasy points per game.
As with most games you’ll find in this section, both teams should be on your DFS radar. Kyler Murray is now the highest scoring fantasy player on the season, and is priced accordingly. Given what I said about Seattle’s defense, splurging for a Murray & DeAndre Hopkins mini-stack might be worth every penny. Two things from Monday night that I’m not chasing: Christian Kirk’s 22 fantasy points on just three targets (I know Seattle is just as bad as Dallas, but still, volume matters) and Kenyon Drake’s massive breakout (31 fantasy points) effort, partly in garbage time. Seattle’s offense is going to keep this upcoming game much closer and when it counts, Murray still trusts his legs more than Drakes’ (or Chase Edmonds’). Drake’s salary is so low that you might just have to put him in one tournament lineup ($4800 DK, $19 Yahoo, $6000 FD), but don’t go chasing points too much.
San Francisco at New England, Total 45.5 points
This is one to watch, but I won’t be investing much for DFS. San Francisco has a chance to show us which Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde team they really are (vs. Miami or vs. the Rams?) while Cam Newton and the Patriots will try to emulate the 49ers bounce-back effort of Week 6 against them. Both defenses rank high in certain metrics; New England has been no good for fantasy QBs, RBs, and TEs, while SF has allowed the 10th-fewest real points and ranks sixth in fewest overall fantasy points allowed to opponents. Altogether, there are better DFS options as exhaustively discussed above. I do think George Kittle is matchup-proof if you want to go a little contrarian and spend up for him, but the super-bargain window has closed on Deebo Samuel. I’m not interested in either messy RB situation either. Both defenses are playable, with the 49ers being substantially cheaper. New England is tied for third with 10 turnovers and this game has the lowest point total of the weekend.
Kansas City at Denver, Total 48.5 points
The Chiefs never really need to be highlighted, do they? Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill are the key players, and if you can afford any of them, there is rarely a reason to avoid doing so. Clyde Edwards-Helaire is the interesting mention this week. With LeVeon Bell joining the Chiefs, and potentially thanks to a difficult matchup with Denver, Yahoo has lowered CEH’s salary to $17. That’s a DFS dare. The way the Chiefs have created holes and used him in space means to me that he can endure a lighter workload and still come away from games with big stat lines. I don’t see LeVeon Bell completely supplanting Edwards-Helaire ever, and especially not this week. My usage will be zero percent Bell, five percent Edwards-Helaire.
Buffalo at New York Jets, Total 48 points
The Bills are facing a lot of pressure to bounce back from consecutive losses. We have seen a different Josh Allen these last two weeks, or rather, a familiar Allen from the last two years. He has to figure out his accuracy issues and he has to read defenses better or faster or something, if the Bills are going anywhere this season. This is round two for these teams, and Allen should be worth his high salary this week. I’m concerned enough by what I’ve seen lately that he won’t be in cash game lineups for me, however. My easy favorite play of the game is Bills’ D/ST. I just close my eyes when I click so I can’t see their salary.
Los Angeles Chargers vs. Jacksonville, Total 49.5 points
The Chargers come charging back from their BYE into a fantastic spot vs. the Jaguars, who just got mauled by the Lions. Jacksonville offers solid DvP across the board, but the best spot, especially after Swift’s Week 6 performance, is for running backs. One of the biggest dilemmas of the week is going to be choosing between Joshua Kelley and Justin Jackson. Their salaries are nearly identical (Jackson is cheaper by a couple hundred on DK and FD), but the production and usage edge was trending toward Jackson prior to the break. He’s my safe choice, but I think it’s smart to hedge some lineups with Kelley. Justin Herbert should be solid for the price, and as I noted above, Hunter Henry is probably my favorite TE play this week. Keenan Allen is usable in all lineups depending on the site. He’s super-affordable on Yahoo, reasonable on DraftKings, and probably not a big priority on FanDuel, though his $7K salary there may keep ownership lower than on the other sites.