Week 18 Game Scripts to Target in Daily Fantasy Football
Welcome to the Game Scripts to Target article for the 2021 season. Each week, we'll be taking a look at specific games to target for daily fantasy tournaments. Stacking games has always been a popular option in GPPs, as it allows you to reach for upside with the back-and-forth scoring.
Dissecting 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 as a double-digit road underdog because the expected game scripts in these contests 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 betting-related numbers -- implied totals, over/unders, and spreads -- as well as custom metrics that show how the teams will match up against each other. This gives us a much better handle on how games are likely to play out, and we can take advantage of that in our lineups.
Let's look at some game scripts to target for this week.
San Francisco 49ers at Los Angeles Rams
It's Week 18, and the thing that matters the most in NFL DFS is motivation.
Not what players are the best or have been the most consistent, but what teams need to be playing a full game. With so many teams either eliminated from the playoffs or firmly locked into their spot, it won't be a surprise to see some of the usual starters only play for half of the game. This is why we need to focus on teams that still have something to play for, putting them in a spot to deploy their normal starters for the full game.
All of this presents the San Francisco 49ers-Los Angeles Rams matchup as a standout option since both of the teams have something to play for. The Rams can clinch the NFC West Division with a win, while the 49ers need to win to clinch a playoff berth. We should see a full game from both teams, so let's go.
This game has a 44.5-point over/under, which is the second-highest on the slate, and a 4.0-point spread in favor of the home Rams. The only injury note for this game is about 49ers' quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo ($7,000), who has been limited in practice this week after missing last week's game.
We saw Trey Lance ($7,000) start and post 20.06 FanDuel points against the lowly Houston Texans. This week, the matchup is much tougher versus the Rams' defense, and that should make him the less popular option among the quarterbacks in this game. It's also fair to state that Lance has a lower ceiling compared to Matthew Stafford ($7,400).
Stafford should be more popular compared to Lance and should be one of the most popular quarterbacks on the entire slate. Let's get realistic about how you should be stacking Stafford and the Rams, because that's what this is all about.
Cooper Kupp ($10,000) is the top option for the Rams and maybe on the entire slate. On top of the Rams needing to win this game, Kupp is close to breaking some season-long receiving records, so it won't be a surprise to see the ball go his way a bit more.
Sony Michel ($7,700) has seen the lion's share of the work in the backfield with Darrell Henderson still out, but I have limited interest in Michel. Why? It has to do with prioritizing Jonathan Taylor ($10,200) from the Indianapolis Colts since JT has a great matchup and the Colts still need to win to make the playoffs. So it's not that I don't like Michel this week -- it's more of the opportunity cost of not rostering Taylor.
This means potentially taking a lower-salary option on the Rams such as Van Jefferson ($5,800) or Tyler Higbee ($5,500). The salary relief is needed if you are trying to pay up for both Kupp and Taylor.
Since salary relief is the name of the game, getting Deebo Samuel ($8,800) or George Kittle ($6,900) in the same lineup could be tough. It's not impossible but certainly tough given the salary constraints. Pivoting down to Brandon Aiyuk ($6,000) is looking like a viable option simply due to roster construction if you are plugging in both Kupp and Taylor. Of course, if you aren't looking to roster Taylor, the process of stacking this game is far easier.
Roster construction is going to be critical this week so prioritize spending salary in the right areas to allow maximum upside for players that are in good situations.
Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals
Much of what was said above about motivation can be said for this game in some capacity.
The big difference is that the Seattle Seahawks are eliminated from the playoffs and have been for some time. The Arizona Cardinals have clinched a berth but can finish as second, third or fifth seed in the NFC. They still have a lot to play for.
While the Seahawks don't have anything specifically to play for, this could be the last game for the Seahawks with both Russell Wilson ($7,500) and coach Pete Carroll. If you buy into that narrative, similar to what we saw last week from Wilson in what could've been his last home game as a Seahawk, they might actually let Russ cook this week.
Speaking of last week, the 27.84 FanDuel points Wilson posted were a season-high for him, showing he still has a path to a fantasy ceiling if the passing volume is there. A slate-high 48.0-point over/under is a good indication we should see some scoring in this game, and that would lead to stacking Wilson with one or both of Tyler Lockett ($6,900) and D.K. Metcalf ($7,200).
The Cardinals are allowing the fifth-fewest (18.0) FanDuel points per game to running backs this season, putting Rashaad Penny ($7,800) in a tougher matchup. Also, as noted above, prioritizing Jonathan Taylor at the running back position this week is going to be a popular option. This should lead to all of the receiving options in this game.
On the other side, Kyler Murray ($8,400) is going to be a popular play this week, and that shouldn't be a surprise. He has gone for more than 20 FanDuel points in each of the past two weeks after failing to reach it in three of the four weeks prior. His passing volume -- 38 attempts or more -- in each of the past four weeks are what's most interesting, and it gives him strong fantasy upside.
Ertz is very appealing at his salary, and he has staggering 40 targets over the past four weeks. This also falls in line with the roster construction theory of prioritizing using lots of salary at running back this week for Jonathan Taylor. I have interest in both Kirk and Green, considering each has an average depth of target of more than 11.3 yards. This gives them good downfield potential and big-play ability for an offense that should be focused on the passing game.
It's possible to have Murray, two of Kirk/Green/Ertz, and one of Lockett/Metcalf, and still have plenty of salary to pay up for Taylor. This type of roster construction should put you in a good spot for a high floor and a high ceiling.