Thursday night NFL lineup submissions are different than any other type of DFS lineup submission for several reasons. First of all, we don’t have complete information on the other games that will play over the weekend. Who is injured and who is starting is often just a good estimate at this point. Due to this uncertainty it makes the players from the Thursday night game more appealing than those on Sunday. However, since the Thursday night game is nationally televised and is the only game on the players in this game tend to be more highly owned than we would expect given their expected output.
These high ownership levels cause a ripple effect in how we should attack the players in this game. When creating GPP lineups it is much more difficult to include these players in our lineups. This is because you should be taking a contrarian approach to GPPs and their high ownership levels don’t allow you to do so. I wrote about why this is important in this article last year.
However, if the players are owned more than what we would typically think we should break ties in favor of the highly owned players in cash games. This is because if the highly owned player has a big game you find yourself in a deficit right off the bat and could single handedly cost your lineup a win that week.
Based on these two key factors I will tend to recommend players from the Thursday night game for cash games more often than I will for GPPs which is in direct opposition of our normal strategy of diversifying in our GPPs. Because of these complexities the Thursday night game deserves a lot of our attention so each week I will be breaking the game down in detail. See this article for definitions of all DFS terms.
This Thursday’s game is less exciting than last week’s offensive showcase as it pits the 2-4 Seattle Seahawks against the 2-4 San Francisco 49ers. Both teams look up to see the Arizona Cardinals leading the division by two games. While most people had written the 49ers off before the start of the season, the slow start for the Seahawks has been a bit of a surprise. Both the Seahawks offense and defense have declined this year compared to last year. Last year, the Seahawks allowed 15.8 points per game and scored 24.6. This year they are allowing 20.8 and scoring 22.3.
Many people have questioned how Russell Wilson would react when his defense wasn’t carrying the load. So far this season Wilson has put up more yards, but has also had a tough time putting the ball in the end zone. Wilson and the Seahawks started slowly last year, too, before ending up getting to the Super Bowl, so there is a chance that they turn things around. However -- speaking of the Super Bowl -- one narrative-street theory that has been thrown around is that teams which lose the Super Bowl tend to have a letdown the following season. There was some evidence of this throughout the early 2000s, but hasn’t held up quite as much the last few years. I am not a big believer in the theory itself, but it is possible that it at least partially explains Seattle's slow start. I am not going to follow that theory this week though, and I think this is a game that the Seahawks right the ship in a big way. They will win 30-18 as the 49ers just aren’t good enough to keep up with the talent of the Seahawks.
The 49ers defense has been fairly stout the last few years, but this year things have shifted dramatically. The 49ers are allowing a ridiculously high 306 passing yards per game versus a league average of 250. As such, this should set up for a very favorable matchup for Russell Wilson ($8,100) and his receivers. The problem, as mentioned above, is the Seahawks haven’t been scoring very well themselves this year despite Wilson taking a big step forward in his own passing yards. He is up to 238 yards per game this year compared to 217 yards last season, though, and the odds makers think his team will right the ship a bit on the scoring -- the Seahawks are six-point favorites with the game total at 42. That leaves the Seahawks with a team total of approximately 24.5 points, well above their year to date scoring and closer to last season’s team. If Wilson can find the end zone -- which he has only done 7 times so far this year through the air and hasn’t yet on the ground -- he should shape up as a solid cash play. Additionally, Wilson always has the upside to be part of your GPP plans and I don’t think this week is any different.
When Wilson does take to the air he should be on the lookout for Jimmy Graham ($6,300). So far Graham has been a bit of a disappointment for the Seahawks averaging a very pedestrian five catches for 57 yards per game with only two touchdowns. This has left many questioning if the Seahawks really know how to utilize Graham’s skill set. Fellow staff member Chase Stuart wrote up a great article on what was going wrong with Graham. If you haven’t checked it out yet you should do so here. Last week Graham finally broke out and had his best game as a Seahawk recording eight catches for 140 yards. Unfortunately he still did not record a touchdown. The Seahawks would be wise to start targeting him more in the red zone, which will likely improve their overall TD rates. Graham should have a good opportunity to keep his play from last week going as the 49ers are below average against the pass so if you have the money to spend I wouldn’t mind plugging him into either my cash or GPP lineups this week. Just don’t go out of the way to cut money elsewhere to do so.
As for the rest of the receivers like Doug Baldwin ($5,800), Jermaine Kearse ($5,700), and Tyler Lockett ($5,100) they should only be considered GPP options, and -- as I have said throughout this series -- if you are a GPP option on a Thursday night slate, you should actually probably fade that player. These guys are GPP-only options simply because their targets are too low in a low volume passing offense. Sure any of them could blow up at any given time but especially if the Seahawks get Graham more involved this week. I don’t see the benefit of trying to find the needle in the haystack out of these guys.
When the 49ers get the ball things are even gloomier with an expected team total of about 18.5. Colin Kaepernick ($6,900) finally had a solid game last week in what was a great matchup by completing 16 of his 27 pass attempts for 340 yards and 2 TDs. This significantly increased his per game averages up to 221 yards per game. Unfortunately for Kaepernick he has a much more difficult matchup this week against the Seahawks defense which is allowing a stout 220 passing yards per game. It is easy to chase last week’s points but this isn’t the week to do it. You should be fading Kaepernick in your lineups outside of a potential stack with Anquan Boldin ($6,300).
Speaking of Boldin, the 49ers receivers are also not that attractive in this game. Boldin had his second straight 100-yard game by recording 102 yards in a great matchup against the Ravens. Unfortunately he failed to reach the end zone again which continues to leave his touchdown total at a disappointing two. Boldin is priced low enough that it makes sense to consider him for your lineup. However, as mentioned the Seahawks pass defense is stout enough and Kaepernick has struggled enough that their total passing yards may not top 200 which will make it tough for Boldin to go much over 60 yards himself. As such he won’t be in many of my lineups unless I absolutely need the cost savings. As for the rest of the passing game I am going to pass on Torrey Smith ($6,000), Quinton Patton ($4,500), Vernon Davis ($4,800), and Garrett Celek ($4,500).
Marshawn Lynch ($8,200) has had a slow start to the season largely due to various injuries. This has led Thomas Rawles ($5,800) to lead the team in carries through the first six games with 59 carries compared to 55 for Lynch. Even when Lynch has been on the field he has been ineffective recording only 182 yards (3.3 YPA) on those 55 carries with only one touchdown. This is a favorable matchup for Lynch and could be a game that the Seahawks use to get Lynch back on track. On the other hand, the Seahawks could take the lead early and let Lynch rest his hamstring for most of the second half. This makes Lynch too much of a risk for cash games and limits his upside for GPPs.
Carlos Hyde started out like a ball of fire on Monday night of week one recording 168 yards and two touchdowns. Hopefully you didn’t buy into the hype as he hasn’t crossed 100 yards since then and has only scored one touchdown. There are two plusses in Hyde’s favor, however. First of all, his lack of production has allowed his price to plummet -- it stands at only at $6,800 -- which is tough to ignore for any running back getting a bulk of the carries. Speaking of getting carries, Hyde is continuing to be fed the ball receiving 21 carries in each of the last two games. Unfortunately he hasn’t been particularly successful with them only averaging 3.52 yards per attempt. In a game with a low total that doesn’t anticipate to have a good game script I don’t feel comfortable running Hyde out in my cash games even at his low price but I don’t mind taking a shot in a GPP or two.