Week 15 Game Scripts to Target in Daily Fantasy Football
Considering game scripts 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 match up 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.
Houston Texans vs Tennessee Titans
Texans Implied Team Total: 24
Titans Implied Team Total: 26.5
This is a battle between the two teams at the top of the AFC South. It's Week 15, but these division opponents have yet to play each other this season. Early in the year, the Tennessee Titans were not a team I would expect to ever make this article. The change in quarterback has resulted in a shift in how they have played on offense.
Over the last six weeks, the #Titans have:
Moved from 27th in seconds-per-snap pace (30.1) to 12th (27.4).
More than tripled their no-huddle rate from 7% to 23% (3rd highest).
Doubled their points per snap rate from 0.3 (25th) to 0.6 (1st).
— Pat Thorman (@Pat_Thorman) December 9, 2019
The Houston Texans are a team whose games we have wanted to target all season long. They have the eighth-ranked offense and 23rd-ranked defense by our schedule-adjusted numbers, making their games good for both teams. They are in the top half of the league in Football Outsiders' situation-neutral pace, so that could mesh well with the Titans playing faster over the past six games.
The driving force behind the Titans' offensive revolution has been Ryan Tannehill ($7,600 on FanDuel). Of quarterbacks who have at least 200 drop backs, Tannehill is seventh in Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per drop back. He has been fairly consistent, with more than 18 FanDuel points in all but one of his games as a starter. With the Texans being the 25th-ranked pass defense by numberFire's metrics, Tannehill has a good chance of keeping up his solid play, especially if the game is more back and forth than some of his previous outings.
Deshaun Watson ($8,200) has lived up to our preseason expectations. He has been the second-best quarterback in fantasy football this season, behind only Lamar Jackson. Watson doesn't need a particular game script to be good in fantasy, as the last two weeks have shown. In Week 13 against the New England Patriots, the Texans were ahead for most of the game because of Watson, and he was able to score 28.36 fantasy points. Last week against the Denver Broncos, Houston surprisingly got way behind, and Watson put up 30.08 points in catch-up mode. As long as this game is fast-paced, Watson should have no problem putting up a lot of fantasy points.
A.J. Brown ($6,200) has been a revelation at the wide receiver position for the Titans. For a team that likes to run the ball as much as the Titans do, it's impressive that Brown has been able to produce like he has in his rookie season. He has three games of more than 100 yards receiving and two games with multiple touchdowns. Since Delanie Walker went out of the lineup in Week 7, Brown has led the team in target share. His average depth of target is 14.1 yards since Tannehill has been the starter, so while he's not getting peppered with targets like some other receivers, his targets are more valuable as they are coming deeper down the field.
With Will Fuller looking questionable yet again, DeAndre Hopkins ($8,600) is the top play from the Texans' pass-catching corps. When Fuller has missed the whole game or played on only one series, Hopkins has received a huge 34% share of the targets. He is second in the league in receptions and air yards. With the Titans being ranked fourth in rush defense this season, the Texans should need to throw to move the ball effectively. That would likely lead to Hopkins getting a lot of volume, making him a top wide receiver play this week.
Others to Consider
Derrick Henry ($9,400) in theory doesn't correlate well with his teammates having big games or the game script being a good one to target in general. However, his big-play ability helps out the game script massively. He has runs of 68 and 74 yards this season, and a 75-yard touchdown catch, as well. If he is able to break these big plays, he is viable in game stacks.
Darren Fells ($4,700) is cheap for a tight end who has seven touchdowns on the season. With no one besides Hopkins commanding much volume sans Fuller, Fells could find his way onto Watson's radar for another touchdown.
Los Angeles Rams vs Dallas Cowboys
Rams Implied Team Total: 24.75
Cowboys Implied Team Total: 23.75
These two teams have probably had the most drastic changes in public perception throughout the season. After the Dallas Cowboys laid an egg on two straight Thursdays, the public has lost all faith in America's team. We can see on oddsFire that 86% of the bets and 89% of the money is backing the Los Angeles Rams in this game. Dallas still leads the NFL in yards per game and by a large margin. This game is projected to be fast-paced, with the Cowboys third in situation-neutral pace and the Rams fourth. With only a 1.0-point spread, the bookmakers think that the situation could be neutral for most of this game, meaning both teams should have a chance to pick up the pace.
Dak Prescott ($7,800) has had a rough go of it in the last three games. He still leads the league in passing yards and has 27 total touchdowns, making him fantasy football's third highest scoring quarterback. Prescott is fifth in Passing NEP per drop back (minimum 200 drop backs), so a matchup against the 12th-ranked Rams passing defense shouldn't hinder him. Dak will be happy to go back home, as he has 14 touchdown passes and two rushing scores in six games in Dallas, compared to 10 and one, respectively, in seven road games.
Amari Cooper ($7,700) has been affected by the home/road splits even more so than Prescott has. He has 758 yards and 5 touchdowns at home and 296 yards and 3 touchdowns on the road in one less home game. He still is seeing decent volume, with at least seven targets in each of the past six games except in the Week 12 game in which he was banged up. We can take advantage of the public perception of the Cowboys and play Dak and Amari together -- likely at lower ownership than normal -- in a game that could see them bounce back.
A quarterback that public seems to be back in on is Jared Goff ($7,800). After not throwing a touchdown in three November games, Goff has thrown two in each of his games in December. A huge indicator for Goff's performance is the likelihood that he is under pressure when throwing. The Cowboys rank as a below-average team in adjusted sack rate, so Goff should have time to throw. Dallas' pass defense has not been good overall as our metrics have them 20th.
Goff's favorite target in recent weeks has been Robert Woods ($7,500). He has seen 47 targets over the last four games and converted that into 462 yards. Last week, he played by far the most snaps for the Rams' receivers, at 99%, and no other wideout played more than 66%. Woods is really the only receiver you can roster with confidence from the Rams due to the way they have changed their offense over the last few weeks.
Others to Consider
Both running backs have been up and down this season. Ezekiel Elliott ($8,500) hasn't rushed for more than 100 yards in any of his last five games, but he has seen increased work in the passing game. That may be the best way for Dallas to get the ball in his hands as the Rams rank fifth against the run.
Todd Gurley ($7,600) has been a huge disappointment with health questions all season, but he has seen decent volume in three of the last four games. He played 80% of the snaps for the Rams last week, so winning the games seems to have taken priority over any health concerns for the time being.
Tyler Higbee ($5,700) has gone for more than 100 yards in each of the two games since Gerald Everett got injured. If Everett were to miss again, Higbee is a nice value at the tight end position and has seen a 25% target share in those two games.
Seattle Seahawks vs Carolina Panthers
Seahawks Implied Team Total: 27.25
Panthers Implied Team Total: 21.25
The Seattle Seahawks travel east to face the Carolina Panthers in game with different levels of importance to both teams. Seattle needs a win to keep up with the NFC West-leading San Francisco 49ers, while the Panthers season is all but over. The good news is that the Panthers are still playing fast, with the league's second fastest seconds per play. That combined with a defense that has been getting progressively worse leads to good game scripts that we can exploit in daily fantasy.
Russell Wilson ($8,100) had his first game of the season without a touchdown pass last week. He is still the fourth best quarterback in fantasy football this season and now gets to face a Panthers team that has allowed a 300-yard passer in three of their last four games. Wilson has as high of upside as any quarterback in the league, with a 39-point game and a 41-pointer already this season.
Christian McCaffrey ($10,400) showed last week that even when his team is getting blown out, the game script is still good for him. He caught 11 passes for 82 yards, including six on the Panthers' final two drives. The Panthers getting routed is certainly in the range of outcomes again as they are 6.0-point underdogs at home. The once vaunted Seattle defense is playing closer to an average unit this season, so the matchup is not something to worry about. CMC is still a top play at the running back position.
Another great play this week at running back is Chris Carson ($7,400). Carson is in line to handle a large majority of the running back snaps and touches with Rashaad Penny out for the season. That's great news for Carson against the team that is ranked dead last versus the run and has allowed the most fantasy points to running backs. We know Seattle prefers to run the ball as they have ran at the fifth highest run rate this season. If the Seahawks jump out to the lead, expect Carson to get fed.
D.J. Moore ($6,900) had a quiet game against the Atlanta Falcons in Week 14 but is still the top option for Carolina at wide receiver. He has a 24% target share and is ninth in league in air yards. Moore tends to be one of the players Kyle Allen will lock on to if the Panthers are trailing as he did in Week 11 when Moore saw 15 targets as the team trailed for most of the game against the Falcons.
Others to Consider
Tyler Lockett ($6,900) has fallen off a cliff in the last few weeks, with just five catches and 81 yards in the three games since the Seahawks' bye week. His price has come down considerably from it's peak. Coach Pete Carroll gave a positive report from practice on Lockett's outlook for the week, so the speedy wideout could be worth taking a shot on.
Ian Thomas ($5,300) saw an impressive amount of usage last week, logging 10 targets. He was able to haul in five of those and catch a touchdown. If Greg Olsen were to sit again, Thomas would be in play as a cheap option at tight end who should see decent volume.
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.