Week 9 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. DK=DraftKings, FD=FanDuel.
The high scoring games:
LA Rams at New Orleans, Total 60.5
Both teams average around 33 points per game, while the defenses have performed quite differently. The Rams allow about seven fewer points per game than the Saints, while ranking in the top half of the league or better in sacks, interceptions and forced fumbles. They’ve been notably stingy to opposing QBs, though the competition they’ve faced is mostly not at the level they’ll see on Sunday. Vegas clearly thinks offense wins in this one, and gives the Saints the small home field advantage. Is there anyone not to use here?
Jared Goff is averaging just 10 more passing yards per game than Drew Brees, and they are dead even in fantasy points per game. Their salaries are equal on FD, $100 different on DK, where the site is literally begging us to play one of them at $6K. The WRs on both sides are viable. Cooper Kupp is expected back, and should slide right back into his nice touchdown-catching role. Tre’Quan Smith is becoming the clear No. 2 in New Orleans, and will be a featured player in this week’s bargain article on Wednesday. He and Michael Thomas should be popular plays this weekend, but I’d rather save with Smith because I do think the Rams will focus on limiting Thomas.
The challenge comes more at RB. Todd Gurley is certainly someone you’ll want exposure to, but recognize that New Orleans hasn’t been a fantasy-friendly RB matchup this season (allowing a league-fewest 74.1 YPG on the ground). The Rams are averaging 150.9 rushing YPG on 1207 attempts—which is 150 more than any other team. Gurley is beyond matchup analysis for the most part but at $11k-plus on FD, you have to be very confident in your cheaper plays to fit him. Mark Ingram took a backseat to Alvin Kamara Sunday night, making the Saints backfield a murky one. I’d rather go with the pass game here, but in tournaments, it wouldn’t surprise me if a Saints back made value with multiple scores. As far as choosing between the two, Kamara is only a tiny bit more expensive than Ingram on FD, but Ingram is significantly cheaper ($5K) on DK.
Tampa Bay at Carolina, Total 55
The best fantasy matchup overall is the Buccaneers, so coming off a week where they faced a good Baltimore defense, I expect the Panthers to not only be highly owned, but high producers this weekend. Christian McCaffrey exceeded my low expectations with two total touchdowns in Week 8, and the dual threat back should be an integral part of the Panthers game plan once again. Cam Newton is a high priority QB target in cash games and tournaments. Expect D.J. Moore’s ownership to soar coming off of his best game, vs. the Ravens no less, which at his low salary, I don’t even mind in this one. However, it could lead to Devin Funchess being overlooked, which would be a mistake. He’s still the WR1 for the Panthers, which is likely why he was shut down by the Ravens talented secondary in Week 8. I like a rebound for Funchess at lower than deserved ownership this weekend. Greg Olsen will probably be the highest owned tight end this week, with Zach Ertz on bye. Since his price is right, I’m on board with it.
The Bucs are rolling with Fitzmagic, and managed to retain all of their receivers through the trade deadline so he’ll have the usual weapons at his disposal. The Panthers are just an average pass defense, so feel free to include Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson or Chris Godwin opposite your Panthers stack. Evans does appear to have a special connection with Ryan Fitzpatrick, and he’s actually cheaper on FD than he is on DK! Godwin did nothing in Week 8, but he did have seven targets, so don’t exclude him. Peyton Barber should be in for a busy day, with Ronald Jones ruled out with a hamstring strain, but the Panthers aren’t a team to run on, and given the spread here, Vegas thinks the Bucs might be playing in catch-up mode quite a bit. I’m not a big enough Barber believer at this point to go with him over so many other options. O.J. Howard makes for a nice pivot off of Olsen, as he’s now averaging 12 PPR fantasy points per game at a $4300 salary (DK).
The low scoring game:
Chicago at Buffalo, Total 37
Buffalo is scoring the fewest points per game of any team in the league and the nation got to see why in all the isolated game glory of MNF. To be fair, the Bills did try some creative plays, and some of them actually worked. The Patriots are known for their stiff red zone defense and that’s where the Bills stalled, if not sooner. However, the Bills Defense also showed some strength, holding Tom Brady and his fully healthy receiving corps to just nine points in the first half. Vegas has this as the lowest scoring game of the week by 10 full points. Defense, defense, defense. You almost have to use the Chicago D/ST in DFS this week, and like usual, no Nathan Peterman-led Bills are breaking through to my rosters.
Buffalo is a worse passing matchup than rushing, making Mitchell Trubisky an iffy play this week. Of course, I love the fact that the Bears are nine-point favorites, but Goff, Brees, Kirk Cousins…they’re all right in the same price range in great situations. Trey Burton falls further down my TE list than Olsen and Travis Kelce, though I think he’ll be fine, just not spectacular. The Bears WRs simply aren’t producing consistently enough to warrant much consideration. Anthony Miller was decent in Allen Robinson’s absence, but he and Taylor Gabriel together didn’t crack 90 receiving yards against the Jets. The only surefire play from Chicago is Tarik Cohen. Use him any time you want, any lineup you want. Especially if you watched how the Patriots evaded the Bills Defense with James White Monday night. This could be a huge Cohen game. Jordan Howard showed signs of life in Week 8, and is bargain article worthy on DK ($4700). More on that tomorrow.
High team totals you might miss:
Kansas City at Cleveland, Total 51
You aren’t missing the Chiefs, you’re loading up on the Chiefs. They lead the league in scoring. Patrick Mahomes is always playable, and against a Cleveland defense that has allowed over 30 points per game in their last three (and expect to be without Joe Schobert again this Sunday), another 3-4 TD, 300-plus passing yard effort should be in the offing. Feel free to use Tyreek Hill or Kareem Hunt, but my favorite Chief this week is Travis Kelce. I think he has a chance to double his Week 8 output against the Browns.
On the other side of the ball, Kansas City is one of the more fantasy-friendly defenses. They’re one of five teams allowing over 300 passing yards per game, and rank first in fantasy points allowed to opposing running backs. Nick Chubb and Baker Mayfield are both in play as values this week. I’d avoid the Browns’ wide receivers and even my beloved David Njoku this week until more clarity emerges following the organization’s shake up earlier in the week.
Detroit at Minnesota, Total 50
This is an interesting matchup. Neither team stands out in terms of pass defense this season, but both are among the worst WR matchups for fantasy, and Detroit has been one of the very best RB matchups for us. Unfortunately, where we are with the Vikings RB situation is less than ideal. Dalvin Cook may return to practice this week, but he may not. A time share between he and Latavius Murray would be frustrating, but if Cook sits, I think we have to trust Murray here. Thanks to his pass-catching, he had a third great week in a row vs. the Saints, a good run defense as mentioned above, though he gained only 56 yards on the ground in that one. Given that Detroit is averaging 144.6 rushing yards per game allowed, he should be able to pay off his rising salary again this week. Cousins is proving to have a solid floor, but hasn’t really shown tournament winning upside lately, despite coming off matchups with New Orleans and the Jets. Stefon Diggs is out for me this week, because although he’s another of my favorites, he’s likely to see at least some Darius Slay coverage. Adam Thielen is as matchup proof as Gurley, so if you can afford him, go for it.
The Lions were showing much better usage of Kerryon Johnson, e.g. vs. Miami, but he saw only eight carries vs. Seattle last weekend. That’s concerning, as is the fact that the Lions are decent underdogs on the road. This is a good spot for a Matthew Stafford/Kenny Golladay/Marvin Jones Jr. tournament stack, but not much else.