5 Daily Fantasy Football Matchups to Exploit in Week 7
In fantasy football, matchups are key to setting any lineup.
This series will take a look at a few matchups that can be exploited for success on the football field and for profit in DFS.
Browns Offense vs. Bengals Defense
The Cleveland Browns are 4-2 through the first six weeks of the 2020 season. In their four wins, they've scored no less than 30 points, but in two losses, they've scored no more than seven points. The discrepancies between Cleveland’s opponents in its wins and losses are obvious -- how much pressure is able to be applied to Baker Mayfield ($7,000).
Baltimore and Pittsburgh each rank top-10 in ESPN’s team pass rush win rate metric, while Cincinnati, Washington, Dallas and Indianapolis all rank bottom-10. Mayfield’s 107.2 passer rating when kept clean ranks 16th among 38 quarterbacks this season, per Pro Football Focus, while his 22.6 passer rating when under pressure ranks 37th.
In other words, this week is an excellent buy-low opportunity for Cleveland’s offense, as the Browns will be facing the Bengals (which ranks last in pressure rate this season) after playing the Steelers (which ranks first). In their first game against Cincinnati, Mayfield threw for 219 yards and 2 touchdowns, while Odell Beckham ($6,700) and Kareem Hunt ($7,100) both scored at least 1 touchdown and 15 FanDuel points.
If there were ever a time to stack Mayfield and Beckham, this game would be the best opportunity. But considering that Hunt and Nick Chubb combined for 35 touches, 234 yards from scrimmage, and 4 total touchdowns in Week 2 versus Cincinnati, Hunt is the Brown to target and is a borderline must-play this week with Chubb still sidelined with a knee injury.
Football Team Offense vs. Cowboys Defense
The Washington Football Team currently ranks bottom-three in the league in points per game, yards per play, percentage of drives ending with a score, and numberFire’s Net Expected Points (NEP) per play. Terry McLaurin ($7,100) has arguably been the only Football Team member worth starting in 2020 thus far.
Fortunately for Washington, it plays the Cowboys this week, which has been a fantasy goldmine all year. Dallas has allowed the most points in the league this season and rank bottom-12 in FanDuel points per game allowed to every skill position player, including third-worst against opposing wide receivers.
After being shadowed by Patrick Peterson and Darius Slay, while also playing considerable snaps against talented corners Denzel Ward, Marcus Peters, Jalen Ramsey and James Bradberry, McLaurin will draw the best matchup of the season against Trevon Diggs and Dallas’ struggling secondary. He ranks top-10 in every major statistical receiving category save for touchdowns among receivers this season -- as well as top-10 in target share and air yards share -- and is line for a slate-breaking game against the Cowboys.
Antonio Gibson ($5,700) hasn’t quite lived up to his late-offseason hype following Washington’s releases of Derrius Guice and Adrian Peterson, as he ranks 24th in FanDuel points among running backs and has just a single game of more than 12 FanDuel points. This is mostly because while he hasn’t drawn as many targets as one would hope. Gibson easily paces the team in carries has been the goal line back since Week 2 but has ran just 86 routes to J.D. McKissic's ($5,200) 135.
That being said, while Washington ranks 30th in time of possession when trailing this season (per Football Outsiders), they will now face a Dallas team that ranks 29th and is starting Andy Dalton. Gibson could finally see a game script go his way and have the breakout that fantasy managers have been waiting for.
Green Bay Offense vs. Texans Defense
“Buying low” on the Green Bay Packers' offense may not be an accurate way to describe the strategy of stacking Packers players this week, as Aaron Rodgers ($8,100), Aaron Jones ($8,500), Davante Adams ($8,900) and Robert Tonyan ($6,000) all rank top-six in price at their respective positions for this week’s main slate. But the Packers are coming off a disappointing showing against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, which ranks first in Adjusted Defensive NEP per play, and will now play the Houston Texans on Sunday, which ranks 30th.
In the first month of the season, Green Bay’s opponents all ranked in the bottom-half of the league in defensive efficiency, and all four of the aforementioned Packers ranked top-six in FanDuel points per game at their respective positions. Considering that Houston ranks in the bottom-half of the league in FanDuel points allowed to every skill position, no Green Bay player would be a poor start decision. But Aaron Jones is likely the best bet to smash in this game with the highest total of the week (57.0, per NFL odds).
Jones has scored double-digit FanDuel points in each game this season, including a 43.6-point explosion against Detroit Lions in Week 2. Among all running backs, he ranks just 18th in offensive snap share (56%), but ninth in touches per game, fourth in FanDuel points per game, and first in total touchdowns. Houston ranks 27th in rushing defense efficiency and dead last in rushing yards, rushing touchdowns, and FanDuel points allowed to opposing running backs.
Buyers should beware of Tonyan, who ranks fifth in FanDuel points among tight ends but just 29th in targets, as the majority of his production has come via an unsustainable 31.3% touchdown rate. Even so, Houston does rank bottom-seven in targets, receptions and yards allowed to tight ends this season, so Tonyan could certainly find more traditional production in this projected shootout as opposed to relying on end zone success.
Falcons Offense vs. Lions Defense
Jones is the x-factor of Atlanta’s offense, which seems obvious but has been made even more apparent this season. In games that Jones has played at least 75% of snaps (Weeks 1, 2 and 6), the Falcons averaged 34.6 points per game and had a +3 point differential. In Weeks 3-5, Atlanta averaged just 19.3 points per game with a -25 point differential.
In games that Jones played, Matt Ryan ($7,800) is averaging 28.3 (or should I say, 28-3) FanDuel points per game versus 10.9 without Jones, while Calvin Ridley ($8,400) saw his average FanDuel points per game increase by 13.3 points with/without Jones and Hayden Hurst ($5,600) saw his average increase by 6.4 points. Todd Gurley ($6,600) did perform better without Jones by 9.8 FanDuel points per game.
Long story short, with Jones seemingly back to his usual explosive self, this is a passing offense to target fantasy-wise. Atlanta ranked fifth in explosive pass rate (pass plays of 15-plus yards, per Sharp Football Stats) in games with Jones playing a majority of snaps, and will now face a Detroit defense that ranks 10th-worst in explosive pass rate allowed, as well as 31st in pass rush win rate.
The Lions rank bottom-12 in FanDuel points allowed to quarterbacks, wide receivers, and running backs this season. Hurst and Gurley are viable low-rostered contrarian starts, but Ryan, Jones and Ridley are once again confident plays in a game that has the second-highest projected total on the main slate (54.5).
Steelers Offense vs. Titans Defense
The Pittsburgh Steelers will face the Tennessee Titans in what is among the most anticipated games of the season, in part because each team joins Seattle as the only undefeated teams left in the NFL, but also because the original game was set for Week 4 and has been pushed back all the way to this Sunday.
The Steelers and Titans each rank top-10 in offensive efficiency, but while Pittsburgh also has a top-10 rated defense, Tennessee’s ranks just 20th. Last week’s dominant win over Cleveland, in which Ben Roethlisberger ($7,400) attempted just 22 passes, was the first game this season that Roethlisberger hadn’t thrown multiple touchdown passes and scored fewer than 19 FanDuel points. Tennessee is allowing the seventh-most FanDuel points to opposing quarterbacks and just allowed Deshaun Watson to pass for 335 yards and 4 touchdowns last week.
Second-round rookie Chase Claypool ($6,400) ranks 13th in Total NEP among all wide receivers this season despite ranking 41st in total touches, in large part because his six touchdowns are tied for fifth-most among all skill position players. Claypool should continue to ball out against a Titans defense that ranks sixth-worst in FanDuel points per game allowed to opposing receivers, as should Diontae Johnson ($5,800), who is returning from a back injury after earning 23 targets through the first two weeks of the season. JuJu Smith-Schuster ($6,500) is a riskier play, as he ranks outside the top-30 in targets, air yards and FanDuel points among receivers this season.
James Conner ($7,200) has benefited from positive game scripts throughout the season, as Pittsburgh ranks third in average time of possession when trailing. Conner played just 23% of snaps in Week 1 due to an ankle injury but since then has scored a rushing touchdown in each game and surpassed 100 rushing yards in three of four games. Tennessee has allowed the 10th-fewest FanDuel points to opposing running backs this season, but that’s in large part because it has the eighth-least running back carries against -- it does rank 28th in rushing defense efficiency and 31st in yards per carry allowed.
Gus Logue is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice Gus Logue also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username GUSL. 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.