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. All betting lines are courtesy of Westgate Sportsbook.
The high scoring games:
New Orleans at Tampa Bay, Total 50.5
Vegas is looking for a big Saints bounce-back on the road against a worse defense even than Atlanta. It is still hard for me to understand how Drew Brees failed to throw a touchdown, and how neither Alvin Kamara or Latavius Murray managed to score in Week 10. Looking forward, however, Tampa Bay has allowed opponents the most points per game, is the second-best QB matchup and best WR matchup for fantasy. They are also rivaling Arizona in the TE matchup department. That means Brees, Michael Thomas and Jared Cook are going to be justifiably popular plays this weekend. Thomas’ salary is going to make you think twice though. He’s by far the most expensive receiver on both sites and given the dream matchup, paying so much for such a highly-owned player becomes questionable strategy in the big GPPs. In cash games, Thomas is a lock. Cook has a much friendlier salary, and he’s coming off a nice effort, particularly in DK’s PPR format. Given his propensity to disappear even in good matchups, Cook is a player I’ll have modest exposure to.
As much as you can throw on the Bucs, they are exceedingly stout against the run. With Tampa allowing the fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs, fading Kamara and Murray this week should be a breeze (pun intended). Not only do the two eat into each other’s production, Kamara is being used primarily in the pass game (10 targets in Week 10) and together they combined for fewer than 10 carries last week. Yuck.
New Orleans, too, is one of the toughest run defenses in the league this season, as they allow the fourth-fewest fantasy points to running backs. That’s bad news for Ronald Jones Jr., who is finally perhaps emerging as the player he was drafted to be, and Peyton Barber, who will probably never go away altogether. Neither is quite cheap enough to rely on in what should be a showdown between receiving stars. Jameis Winston is definitely worth a look in Week 11, since even when he has a seemingly awful day (two picks and a fumble), he comes out with 20 fantasy points. The high passing volume in Tampa and the combined gifts of Mike Evans and Chris Godwin make this a situation to target. All three in cash games is a doable strategy. Though they produced similarly in Week 10, most other weeks one has dominated; by rostering both receivers you make sure to capture virtually all the passing yards and TDs.
O.J. Howard might be the name on everybody’s lips this week, though. He finally had seven targets and caught a touchdown, his first of the season. Fluke or emerging pattern? It’s more likely a function of the Cardinals TE-blind defense than a real commitment to Howard from the coaching staff, in my opinion, but in such a great game environment, and at such a great price, getting a small amount of exposure to Howard is ok this week.
Atlanta at Carolina, Total 50.5
Speaking of flukes, who thinks Atlanta’s defense can pull off another upset like last week’s? No? Me either. The Panthers and Christian McCaffrey are in a great position to flourish again this week. Well, McCaffrey flourishes regardless of opponent, but Kyle Allen is back on the bargain QB radar. He’s generally been a fine option for the price, except when facing San Francisco (or fumbling three times vs. Houston). He’s coming off his first 300-plus passing yard game, and could be in for another. Atlanta is still a Top 5 QB matchup even after Brees laid an egg vs. them last week. McCaffrey is the primary target of everything in this offense, and as always is an “if you can fit him in, fit him in” play.
Greg Olsen and D.J. Moore both saw 10 or more targets Sunday, and combined for over 200 receiving yards. Curtis Samuel had eight targets, but was again inefficient, catching only four of them, though one went for a touchdown. Let salary be your guide in Week 11; Moore is cheaper on FanDuel, Samuel is cheaper on DraftKings, which is as it should be given their reception numbers. Either Moore or Samuel could have a big day with multiple scores though, given Allen’s increasing confidence, the good matchup, and high total on this game. Olsen is at a reasonable salary to use in any format; so far he’s my favorite way to solve TE this week.
The Falcons are possibly going to be down a couple of key players. Austin Hooper and Devonta Freeman are questionable at this early stage. Brian Hill immediately becomes interesting if Freeman is a no-go. Hill had 20 carries vs. the Saints and caught one of his two targets for a 10-yard touchdown. Carolina is a run-friendly defense, allowing the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing rushers. The biggest beneficiary of a Hooper absence would not be a no-name backup TE, but Calvin Ridley. Yes, he’s disappointed most weeks so far, but his low salary makes up for it. He’s still very much on Matt Ryan’s radar, and if this game is anything like Vegas expects, we could see Ridley’s best. Julio Jones is a definite priority this week, and I don’t say that often. He hasn’t scored since Week 3, which has driven his salary way down, but is still averaging about nine targets per game. I love him as a Thomas pivot. So, if I like Ridley and Jones so much, I must like Ryan? Guilty as charged. He started the season with six consecutive 300-plus passing yard games and I think he gets back to that mark this weekend. He could be the best value (points per dollar) QB of the slate.
The low scoring games:
New York Jets at Washington, Total 38
Which team will out-suck the other? I’m betting on the Jets, who despite an awful lot of flaws (taking a ton of sacks, way too many turnovers, third fewest points scored), have the talent to play better than their record indicates. Sam Darnold, Le’Veon Bell, Jamison Crowder, and Robby Anderson is a solid core. Using them in a GPP lineup as a very affordable stack allows you to fit McCaffrey or Thomas, though Crowder’s price is creeping up as he’s scored in back-to-back games. If that terrifies you, Bell is the best pick of the bunch.
The Redskins are favored at home, and given that the Jets do take so many sacks and turn the ball over so often, it is feasible to play this the other way and roster the Redskins D/ST. They were reasonably good against two similar teams, Miami and the NY Giants in previous weeks. I’m generally not chancing the Washington skill players, even Darrius Guice, who is due back this week. We can’t predict the RB time share between he and Adrian Peterson, and it’s possible they get Chris Thompson back in the mix this weekend also. Terry McLaurin has endured a rough stretch lately, barely managing 90 receiving yards total in his last three games, all brutal matchups. He could be a sneaky GPP play this week given that the Jets are fantasy’s No. 2 WR matchup. This will be Dwayne Haskins’ first home game of the year and though he’s given no reason for any confidence, he can’t be worse than he has been so far.
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Buffalo at Miami, Total 39.5
Josh Allen is the play here, as the Dolphins allow the second-most points per game after the Bucs and Allen has been more aggressive on the ground. He has three rushing touchdowns in the last two games, and is on pace to smash his league-leading eight rushing touchdowns from last season (he has six currently). Given that Miami is no good at stopping the pass or the run, you can’t go wrong with Allen. Anything beyond that, though, is a risk. Devin Singletary is still getting bumped for Frank Gore, though it happened less often last week, despite totaling more fantasy points in three fewer games and with less than half the carries of Gore. Singletary’s 6.4 YPC leads the league (greater than 20 carries). John Brown is the best WR choice, but that doesn’t always translate to a good value. He’s definitely risk/reward this week, and I prefer to take those kinds of players from games with higher totals. The Bills D/ST will be popular, even on the road. Miami not only scores the second-fewest points per game, they rank third in sacks and turnovers. The Bills are one of the best defenses in the league, making this a no-brainer if you have the salary cap.
Kalen Ballage in a tournament is possible on the Dolphins’ side of this game. I’m not taking any part of the Dolphins’ pass game, but Buffalo is a medium-good run matchup, and Ballage had 20 carries in a game where the Fins beat the Colts. He didn’t do much with them, but he’s literally the only game in town – opportunity that’s nearly free this week.
High team totals you might miss:
Denver at Minnesota, Total 39.5
Denver is another stifling pass defense and the Vikings will probably be without Adam Thielen again. Contrary to expectation, in the last two games Thielen has missed, Stefon Diggs has struggled. I love the wide spread here, something that usually benefits a QB, but I think Dalvin Cook is still the best DFS option aside from the Vikings’ D/ST. Denver ranks as the 28th offense in points per game, and on a percentage basis, fourth in sacks. Meanwhile, Minnesota’s defense is above average on all counts, sacks, takeaways, points allowed, and fantasy points allowed (especially to running backs).
Arizona at San Francisco, Total 45
The 49ers’ offense has some catching up to do if they ever want to be on par with the defense, but they are (or were) coming together a little bit. Despite the overtime loss to Seattle Monday night, Jimmy Garoppolo showed nice chemistry with Deebo Samuel and Kendrick Bourne, both of whom are terrific targets for Week 11 contests if Emmanuel Sanders misses time with his rib injury and also depending on George Kittle’s status heading into Sunday. Dante Pettis remains a non-factor. Against Arizona, you really want to target the pass game, which is a good thing, because the SF run game is frustrating. Even if Matt Breida sits, it’s likely that Raheem Mostert will share duties with Tevin Coleman. Coleman would be worth minimal exposure (five percent of lineups) if Breida were out, given that his salary isn’t as low as I’d like. When these teams met two weeks ago, San Francisco looked different than it does now (with Kittle and Sanders), and it’s worth noting that neither Breida nor Coleman was great.
The Cardinals are coming off a great offensive effort, which shows what Tampa Bay is capable of. Kyler Murray and Christian Kirk, favorites of Week 10 in this space, are going to have a much harder time in SF. You’ll remember that Murray had the best game of any QB this season against San Francisco, but that game was in Arizona and a lot of the pressure was taken off him by Kenyon Drake’s breakout performance. I don’t think we see a repeat from any Cardinals this Sunday, sorry.
Cincinnati at Oakland, Total 48.5
Josh Jacobs is where a lot of people, including me, are going to end up at one RB slot this week. His salary is so much easier to work with than McCaffrey’s, Cook’s or Ezekiel Elliott’s and the Bengals’ run defense does not exist. Certainly you can also throw on Cincy, but I’m more comfortable trusting Jacobs than Derek Carr and any of the pass catchers in Oakland. Tyrell Williams has exactly three catches in each of the last five games he’s played this season, and Darren Waller has been a shadow of the receiver he was through Week 7 lately. Maybe a home game vs. an awful defense is just what Carr, Williams, and Waller need to get back on track, but in tournaments only!