Week 13 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:
Carolina at Tampa Bay, Total 56.5
Cam Newton and Christian McCaffrey are coming off a great effort in what was a fun game to watch vs. Seattle. They ultimately lost, but their performances warrant them being among the most expensive options at their positions this weekend. Newton has thrown 2-3 TD passes in every game this season since Week 2. He’s been among the most consistent QB options this year and now gets one of the best fantasy matchups in the league. Ditto for McCaffrey and even Greg Olsen. If you can find the money, these are going to be as close to sure-thing DFS options as we get. We’ll be keeping an eye on Devin Funchess and Torrey Smith this week, but it looks like the Panthers wide receivers to roster are D.J. Moore (nine targets) and Curtis Samuel. The salaries are up on both guys but still in a very playable range in this high scoring game.
The Buccaneers will continue to roll with Jameis Winston, who is coming off one of his best games of the season (312 passing yards, 2 TDs, zero interceptions). Carolina is the sixth-most generous fantasy matchup for quarterbacks, making Winston a viable QB option for the second week in a row. He missed the first matchup with the Panthers, but Ryan Fitzpatrick threw four touchdowns against them in Week 9. Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson led the way in targets last week, but Adam Humpries and Chris Godwin combined to catch 10-of-10 targets, including a Humphries TD. This is a crowded field, especially when you add in Cameron Brate who is a legit end zone threat and consider that the Panthers rank as the best PPR TE matchup. Going a solo Winston or Winston/Evans in cash games, or betting on Brate, Humphries, Godwin or Jackson in tournaments is how I’d play it. Peyton Barber is super cheap on DraftKings ($3700), and he has scored in consecutive games with Winston at the helm. Carolina is a middle of the road rush defense, so if you need to go low at RB to fit the QB/WR combinations you want, I don’t hate Barber as much as usual.
Kansas City at Oakland, Total 55.5
The Chiefs are back on the main slate, hooray! Patrick Mahomes is instantly the most expensive, safest and highest upside QB option you can roster this week, in a game he should dominate. Kareem Hunt, Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill are the automatic sidekicks if you can afford them. Hill had 14 targets in the Chiefs Week 11 game, while Kelce had a whopping 15. Hunt was busy too, catching a TD and rushing 14 times. It’s just not worth risking Chris Conley, as I don’t think he’s going to have another 2 TD game. The Chiefs Defense is one I prefer at home, but against Oakland with this point spread, I have no arguments against them…in fact, look for them in the Bargain article later this week.
The Raiders are struggling like they belong in the AFC East right now. Injuries, coaching and general ineptitude have combined to yield the third-fewest points per game in the league. Matchup-wise, Doug Martin is the player to consider as the Chiefs have improved their pass defense, but rank first in fantasy points allowed to running backs so far this season. The issue is that the Raiders can’t sustain offensive drives nor get opposing offenses off the field, so Martin is only touching the ball 15 times if he’s lucky. As I’ve written here before, a multi-entry tournament stack with Carr, Jared Cook, and Martin is sure to be low-owned and at one point or another, each has demonstrated a winning ceiling.
The low scoring games:
Buffalo at Miami, Total 40
Speaking of the AFC East struggling, this category takes care of three of the four teams there, all of which average 20 points or fewer per game (bottom seven in the league). The Bills are the worst fantasy matchup in the league for opposing QBs and WRs, in case you were thinking this line made Ryan Tannehill or any of his ragtag bunch of receivers worth a look. The two guys, aside from defenses, that I’m looking at here are Kenyon Drake (assuming he plays and his shoulder is fine) and Robert Foster. Foster and Josh Allen were on the same page for a big play last week and if the Bills have anything to build toward, it’s making Allen more comfortable. I think he’ll be looking Foster’s way more in Week 13. Drake is coming off a solid game in Indianapolis where he both rushed for and caught a touchdown. His usage in both phases of the game with Tannehill back under center was promising, again, if he’s healthy.
I said I was considering the defenses here, but it’s really Miami that I’d prioritize. They’re at home, they have several double-digit fantasy scores this season (though two are against the Jets), and the Bills rank third in turnovers (22). Moreover, the Bills can’t run the ball, though Miami can’t stop the run either, so it will be interesting to see if LeSean McCoy has anything left in his tank or not. The bottom line is that defenses facing the Bills have been profitable more often than not this season.
NY Jets at Tennessee, Total 40.5
The Titans rank sixth in fewest points allowed per game this year, and have been a bit better against the pass than the run (thanks in large part to Lamar Miller on MNF). It sounds like Josh McCown is in for another start, but he, too injured himself (thumb) in Week 12. His 1 TD:3 INT ratio makes the Titans’ D/ST especially exciting, but it doesn’t really matter who starts, because the Jets rank second in the league with 23 turnovers this season. The Titans D should be the top DFS play this weekend.
On the offensive side, Marcus Mariota was remarkably efficient Monday night, but ultimately the low volume and typical target depth doomed Tennessee. It was Corey Davis who did the most damage, but on only four targets. Jonnu Smith started out hot with a beautiful catch and run early in the first quarter, but then was rarely seen again (except on a key missed block). Anthony Firsker, the back up TE, actually out-targeted Smith, which says more about the lack of receiving options in this offense than the TE pecking order. Of course, Dion Lewis was on hand to catch all seven of his line-of-scrimmage targets (for 33 yards, eye roll). Overall, Tennessee just isn’t a high enough volume/potency offense to get excited about on this full slate.
High team totals you might miss:
LA Rams at Detroit, Total 55
The Rams are back on the main slate, hooray! Rounding out the top three in points per game, Jared Goff, Todd Gurley and their two top receivers should be popular plays this week. No one has been safer than Gurley this season, with his worst game (12.4 fantasy points), coming against the Chiefs in Week 11. Every other time he’s had at least 20 fantasy points, and in the $9K range, you can afford him! Any of the top Rams are salary-dependent options for your lineups, with this game total and spread, Goff is super safe, I love Brandin Cooks and Robert Woods…but still don’t completely buy Josh Reynolds. He’s not in the super safe discussion yet, but cheap and viable in tournaments.
Detroit could be where the money is made this week. The Rams are sneakily soft to opposing passers, allowing the seventh-most fantasy points to QBs and 10th-most to WRs. The Lions run game is in flux with Kerryon Johnson listed as questionable (but probably closer to doubtful) despite what LeGarrette Blount did on Thanksgiving. There’ll be no turkey to run to this week, and I expect the Lions to be in passing mode for most of the game. That makes Matthew Stafford, Kenny Golladay and Bruce Ellington or Theo Riddick interesting as a tournament stack. They’re basically free except for Golladay, which means you can really stack the rest of your lineup. Stafford has been trash at home this season, but – famous last words – he’s due for a big game.
San Francisco at Seattle, Total 46
Let’s go Seahawks. It’s almost December and there’s something about Seattle and the home stretch of the season. Everything seems to be picking up for them, as they’ve scored over 30 points in two of the last three games. Russell Wilson hasn’t thrown an interception in the past three weeks, but has at least two passing touchdowns in every game except one this season. Doug Baldwin has led the team in targets the past two weeks, but David Moore and Tyler Lockett look like the receivers to own. While FanDuel has the pricing right, DraftKings still has Moore >$1K less than the other two. I think he’s for real, and with pricing figured in, I’d rather stack Wilson and Moore on DK given the great team total here for Seattle. Chris Carson remains a viable cash game option as long as he’s healthy. He’s clearly the lead back, but the volume isn’t there for monster production. Seattle will have an easier time moving the ball through the air this Sunday, but Carson is always a threat to score on the ground when they get close (he’s scored four touchdowns on 11 attempts inside the 10-yard line this season).
Arizona at Green Bay, Total 44.4
The Packers are technically still in the playoff hunt but they’ll need a small miracle to get there, and the Week 12 Packers looked a long way from a miracle. Still, they face the lowest scoring offense in the league this week, at home, which is a good bounce-back spot as indicated by this line. Interestingly, Aaron Rodgers and Josh Rosen are both coming off their worst games of the season. Rodgers threw just one touchdown and under 200 yards, while Rosen threw for just 105 yards (on 19 attempts) and a pick-six. So, there is nowhere to go but up?
The Cardinals have been a stingy pass defense this season, allowing the third-fewest fantasy points to opposing QBs. I’m going to look past that stat in tournaments, given that Rodgers is who he is, is still in the hunt, and that Vegas likes the Pack so much. He and Davante Adams, along with Aaron Jones, who actually gets a fantastic matchup (fourth-most fantasy points allowed to running backs), might be a popular stack, but should be a profitable one.
Green Bay’s defense isn’t anything to write home about, but Rosen has been so bad, and so conservative, and Arizona is on the road in the nearly frozen tundra that I’m willing to consider them this week as a mid-priced D/ST option. If you’re looking at any Cardinals, it’s probably David Johnson, and he’s priced a little high for my comfort. It’s not a matchup thing, it’s a time of possession thing. I can see Green Bay dominating the game with long drives leaving Rosen little time to get comfortable as he plays from behind. There are better options, though Johnson should come through with 15-plus fantasy points.