Week 12 NFL DFS Starting Points: Vegas Lines
You know that targeting the highest scoring games and particularly the teams with the highest implied totals makes sense in fantasy football. This analysis will highlight exactly which situations are the best to take advantage of and which you might want to avoid within those games. We’ll also highlight a couple games to use caution with as well as some less obvious targets. The focus is on Sunday games, since both main DFS sites have eliminated Monday and Thursday games from their big tournaments.
The high scoring games:
Arizona at Atlanta
Total 50.5, Falcons -5
This line says that good offense beats good defense, and that mediocre offense has a chance vs. a Falcons defense that ranks 29th in points per game allowed. It should be interesting. Matt Ryan and Julio Jones have been essentially unstoppable this season, but the fact that Ryan struggled vs. another good pass defense in Philadelphia last week does give me some hesitation in being 100 percent in on him this weekend. Jones’ volume alone makes him a viable play nearly every week, but in non-PPR formats, I’m using him more sparingly given his salary and the likely matchup with Patrick Peterson. That could open the door for Mohamed Sanu or Taylor Gabriel to pick up some slack since I don’t think the Falcons will have a lot of success running the ball. Gabriel’s increasing role in this offense, particularly in the red zone, combined with his $5,100 salary makes him a nice tournament option this week.
Most of the attention is on the Cardinals and Carson Palmer. The Falcons are the number one QB matchup on paper, giving up 23 passing TDs and only six interceptions. I’m using Palmer despite my misgivings about his personal 13:10 TD:INT ratio because despite the frequent mistakes, his high volume and David Johnson tend to bail him out in terms of fantasy points. He has thrown for over 300 yards in three of the last four games. I’m taking a stacking approach I like to use when a team is in a good situation but I don’t trust any of the wide receivers which is to use Palmer and Johnson together. With Ezekiel Elliott and Le’Veon Bell already done for the week, it’s a no-brainer to fit Johnson into lineups and Palmer is affordable enough to make it easy.
Carolina at Oakland
Total 49.5, Raiders -3
The total says that this game is a go, as do both teams’ points and passing yards per game allowed statistics. Yet I’m still hesitating to pull the trigger on Cam Newton or Derek Carr. With Newton, it’s fairly straightforward: he has only two multi-touchdown games this season, making his fantasy value dependent almost exclusively on his rushing touchdowns. That makes him a far riskier play than he ever was last year and I just can’t trust him in cash games. Carr has been more consistent, struggling badly only against Denver and gets a boost from the high implied team total the Raiders have this week. With two quality receiving options in Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree, Carr and the passing offense is where I’m looking to take advantage of this high line. The loss of Luke Kuechly certainly opens up the potential of the Raiders offense, and while Mike Clay notes the more advantageous cornerback matchup for Cooper this week, I think both receivers are in play.
When it comes to the run game, I’ll take Latavius Murray and his questionable tag over the more expensive and far more touchdown-dependent Jonathan Stewart. Murray has been meeting value and making an impact for the Raiders most weeks both on the ground and through the air with one of the best catch rates for a running back (79.3 percent) and eight rushing touchdowns.
If Carolina has success this week, it will most likely come through Kelvin Benjamin or Greg Olsen, but I have a sneaky feeling that Ted Ginn Jr., who was close to a big day last week could have one of his weird 2 TD games. I’ll probably have some exposure to Olsen and Ginn Jr. but will be fading Benjamin, who really hasn’t met value since Week 2 and is still far too pricey for my taste.
The low-scoring games:
Kansas City at Denver
Total 39.5, Broncos -3.5
With the low total on this game, both defenses should be popular plays. Both teams are in the top 10 of fewest points per game allowed and rank first (KC) and second (Denver) in total takeaways. But despite the low total on this game, there are a couple of positional values here. Denver has been surprisingly vulnerable against the run, allowing the eighth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs. That makes Spencer Ware a guy to have on your radar. It would be better if Charcandrick West were not available Sunday night, but it’s likely he will be. When both play, neither has been particularly valuable since they’ve split carries to the tune of about 14 each in those games. I’d use Ware only in a tournament on the hope that he got more than one goal line touchdown plus 60-70 yards on the ground.
On the other side of the field, the Chiefs have provided some nice opportunities for wide receivers. While Marcus Peters is a threat to intercept a ball or two per game (and should be active Sunday night), opposing wideouts have gained the seventh-most fantasy points per game against the Chiefs this year. When I have to decide between Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, I’m usually building two lineups with each of them in one. Thomas has one more catch and two more touchdowns on ten fewer targets, so you can see how close these two guys are statistically. The tipping point might be that Thomas costs $900 more than Sanders. Overall, none of Ware, Thomas, or Sanders are players I’m building around this week, but rather I’m mixing them into tournament lineups where they’ll likely be lower owned given the reputation for defense each team has.
High team totals you might miss:
New York Giants at Cleveland
Total 44, Giants -7
I don’t think many people are missing the Giants this weekend. Playing the league’s worst defense will tend to do that. The Giants defense will be popular given that Josh McCown and his 5:6 TD:INT ratio will be starting for the Browns. None of the Browns are usable in what is a terrible passing matchup to begin with (Giants are the fourth-worst fantasy matchup for QBs).
For the Giants though, go beyond the defense and roster Rashad Jennings in all formats. Cleveland has allowed 13 rushing touchdowns and two receiving touchdowns along with over 140 rushing yards per game to opposing backs. At $6,600 he’s a solid way to take advantage of this game. I’ve got no problem with attacking the pass game here too. Eli Manning is looking to Odell Beckham Jr. and Sterling Shepard most often and those are the two guys I’m looking at. Obviously it’s a little hard to use OBJ—especially after last week’s dud, but I think weather and game flow had something to do with that. It is possible that the Giants get a big lead and de-emphasize the pass game again this weekend, so Shepard is the safer points per dollar pick among the receivers.
San Francisco at Miami
Total 44.5, Dolphins -7.5
I was surprised at the team total for Miami and it’s one of the rare cases when I am adjusting my lineup process to ensure that I get some exposure to Ryan Tannehill, Davante Parker, Jarvis Landry or Kenny Stills in tournaments. It’s Parker who has been turning heads during the recent Dolphins win streak, with 11 targets in Week 11. The 49ers make the good player look great and the average player look good, so using the Miami receivers as a point of diversification in tournament lineups makes for a good strategy this weekend.