Week 1 Game Scripts to Target in Daily Fantasy Football
Game script should be a huge part of your process when building lineups in NFL Daily Fantasy. How will the game play out? Will it be high paced with lots of potential for fantasy points to be scored? Does it set up well for one team, both teams, or neither? A running back could go from a lock one week as a home favorite to a complete avoid the next week as a double-digit road underdog, because the game scripts in these games are completely different.
Projecting these outcomes can be extremely difficult for one person. We can use the lines and totals to see what oddsmakers think and go from there. A great resource is numberFire's Daily Fantasy Matchup Heat Map, which provides those numbers that are used for sports betting,as well as custom metrics that show how the teams will matchup against each other. This will give us a much better handle on how games are likely to play out, and how we can take advantage of that in our lineups.
Here are some game scripts to target this week in DFS.
Cincinnati Bengals vs. Seattle Seahawks
Bengals Implied Team Total: 17.0
Seahawks Implied Team Total: 27.0
The Seattle Seahawks were one team that made sure the run was established last season. Under new offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, they were the team with the highest percentage of running plays in the NFL. That seems unlikely to change overall this season, especially in this game.
Seattle comes in as 10-point favorites, according to FanDuel’s Sportsbook, setting up a great spot for them to move the ball on the ground. They also get the favorable matchup of facing a Cincinnati Bengals defense that is weak against the run. Last season, Cincinnati ranked 26th in Football Outsiders’ Rush defense DVOA and was 29th in total rushing yards allowed overall.
Chris Carson ($6,600 on FanDuel) should benefit from this the most of any Seahawk. Carson had the seventh-most carries in the NFL last year while missing two games. Now, Mike Davis and his 112 carries from last season have moved on to Chicago, leaving just Rashaad Penny to compete with Carson for touches in the backfield. Our projections at numberFire like Carson quite a bit, ranking him as the fifth-best value at the running back position this week.
Seattle D/ST ($4,500) makes for a great play as big home favorites. The pass rush has added two new players on the defensive line, with Jadeveon Clowney and Ezekiel Ansah joining the team in the offseason. The Bengals' first-round draft pick, offensive tackle Jonah Williams, is on the injured reserve, so he can't help what was a below-average offensive line in adjusted sack rate last season.
Others to consider: Russell Wilson ($8,200) is priced as the third-highest quarterback, and one of those above him is the now-retired Andrew Luck. Wilson likely won't get a high volume of pass attempts, but he showed last season that he can still score fantasy points with fewer attempts, and he gets to face a weak Bengals defense. He makes for a reasonable tournament play, especially if he comes out running like he has in most seasons, save for 2018.
If you are playing Wilson, pairing him with Tyler Lockett ($6,800) makes sense. The absence of Doug Baldwin leaves Lockett as the clear number-one and the favorite to get the most targets on the team. Wilson had a perfect passer rating when targeting Locket last year, and while that will almost certainly regress, his volume of targets increasing should help Lockett score more fantasy points this year. His upside from week to week is high given how many deep targets he sees.
Tyler Boyd ($6,900) is a decent play as someone who will soak up a large portion of the targets with A.J. Green out for this game. Since the Bengals will likely be trailing, the pass volume could be high, and Boyd would have a chance to see a lot of looks.
Los Angeles Rams vs. Carolina Panthers
Rams Implied Team Total: 26.25
Panthers Implied Team Total: 23.75
The third-highest game total on the main slate features two offenses with lots of options and with the spread being under a field goal, which could make for a back-and-forth and high-scoring affair. The Los Angeles Rams have the fourth-highest implied team total on the slate and get a fairly good matchup against the Carolina Panthers' pass defense. Using our schedule-adjusted Net Expected Points (NEP) data, Los Angeles had third-best passing offense of teams on the main slate, and the Panthers' defense was tied for the eighth-worst unit against the pass.
Brandin Cooks ($7,000) and Robert Woods ($7,000) are the Rams who can exploit the matchup and the potential high-scoring nature of the game. Cooks has big-play upside and sees more deep targets, with his average depth of target being 13.2 yards, according to Pro Football Focus. Woods will be more of a possession receiver, and he led the team in catches a year ago. If the Rams need to throw the ball throughout the game, these two are dangerous wide receivers who can rack up fantasy points.
Cooper Kupp will return from his torn ACL, and that is a boost to the whole passing game. It is well documented that Jared Goff is much better with Kupp in the lineup than without him. If Goff's is able to move the ball more efficiently down the field because of Kupp, the game environment overall will be higher scoring and more fantasy friendly. Kupp tied for the team lead in receiving touchdowns with six despite playing in only eight games in 2018.
On Carolina's side, a few pass catchers are in play. D.J. Moore ($6,200) had the second-best yards per route run among rookies, per PFF. He and Curtis Samuel ($5,900) will be the two main wide receivers after Devin Funchess' departure. They both have received a ton of hype in the season-long community for the potential opportunity they could receive and their talent.
Another option if trailing will be tons of passes to Christian McCaffrey ($8,900). McCaffrey set the record for receptions by a running back last season and was eighth in the league overall in receptions. With Cam Newton potentially hobbled due to a foot injury sustained in the preseason, he might be less likely to want to run and more likely to dump the ball off to McCaffrey.
CMC is always a high-floor player due to his work in the pass game and also has an incredibly high ceiling as he showed last season. If the Panthers need someone to help them catch up in this game, McCaffrey is likely the player who will have the ball in his hands. It's easy to see why he has numberFire's best fantasy point projection for any running back on the slate.
Others to consider: Both quarterbacks could provide upside if the game does turn into a shootout. Cam Newton ($7,900) and Jared Goff ($7,800) come in under the top-salaried quarterbacks this week, but their game script is one of the better ones, giving them high upside. The projections at numberFire have Newton as the third-highest scoring quarterback on the slate.
San Francisco 49ers vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
49ers Implied Team Total: 25.75
Buccaneers Implied Team Total: 24.75
A similar story to the Rams-Panthers clash, this game has a high total and close spread. Last season, nearly every time the Tampa Bay Buccaneers played you wanted to target that game due to their propensity to throw the ball a lot and their leaky defense. This season appears to be no different, even with a new head coach in Bruce Arians. These two defenses ranked second- and third-worst on the slate in Passing NEP per drop back last season. This should lead to lots of fantasy goodness in this game
Jameis Winston ($7,500) had an up-and-down season last year in real life, but in fantasy, he was gold when he was playing. Between him and Ryan Fitzpatrick, the Buccaneers' quarterbacks combined would have ranked third in fantasy points at the position in 2018. The Bucs passed at the sixth-highest rate last year and didn't add a starting-caliber running back to supplant the inefficient duo of Peyton Barber and Ronald Jones, so they likely will pass at a high rate again.
Against a San Francisco 49ers defense that ranked 27th in pass defense DVOA, according to Football Outsiders, and with dangerous weapons, Winston has a lot going for him this week. Our projections agree, ranking him as the fourth-best quarterback value on FanDuel for the main slate.
The weapons have changed from last season, but if anything, that makes it easier for us to project where the ball is going. Mike Evans ($7,900) is primed for another big season after ranking second in the league in air yards in 2018. When these teams met in a Week 12 game last year, Evans caught six passes for 116 yards. He is numberFire's highest projected wide receiver on the slate.
The new number-two receiver in Tampa is Chris Godwin ($6,900), who has generated tons of buzz over the offseason. The coaching staff showed that Godwin will be a big part of the offense in the preseason, and he repaid them by having good performances when on the field in those games.
Jameis Winston has played 58 snaps this preseason. Chris Godwin has been on the field for all 58 and lined up in slot 32 times. Recorded 6-72-1 on 8 targets.
— Adam Levitan (@adamlevitan) August 24, 2019
From the visiting Niners' side of things, it's tougher to pinpoint where exactly the ball will be going. Jimmy Garoppolo ($7,200) will likely spread the ball around to many different targets throughout the game. He will be throwing against last season's 30th-ranked pass defense in DVOA and also will have to keep throwing to keep up with Jameis and the Bucs' passing attack. Jimmy G ranks as our second-best quarterback value on the Week 1 main slate, and he is worth rostering given the matchup and shootout potential.
The pass catcher who stands out the most for the 49ers is clearly George Kittle ($7,300) at tight end. He showed his incredibly high ceiling last year and could be the highest-targeted player in this offense. Again, the matchup is great for Kittle, with the Bucs allowing the fifth-most yards per game to tight ends last season. Our projections are high on Kittle this week, ranking him as the highest-projected scorer at the position.
Others to Consider: If the game truly shoots out and goes way over the total, a 49ers receiver will likely have a big game. That could be Dante Pettis ($6,500), who might have the highest target share among San Francisco's wide receivers. His price doesn't make him a core play, but if you are stacking this game, he makes for a reasonable play.
Another explosive Tampa Bay Player would be O.J. Howard ($6,500). He is one of the best athletes at the tight end position and was on the verge of breaking out last year before injuries got the better of him. While Kittle is the higher projected tight end, Howard comes in at an $800 discount and will likely be the lower-owned player between the two in this game.
Nicholas Vazquez is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Nicholas Vazquez also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username hbyanksman. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his/her personal views, he/she may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his/her personal account. The views expressed in his/her articles are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.