Trendspotting: Week 3

Examining player and team-based trends that could identify valuable DFS options

Each week here at Trendspotting, we'll take a look at five games that will be critical to the week's DFS slate. Generally, we'll look at the three or four highest over/unders as projected by Las Vegas odds and pick one or two "wild cards" with intriguing fantasy potential despite a modest projected point total.

Reader's Guide

  • Green text is a good matchup for that team's offensive players. 
  • Red text is a bad matchup
  • When a player's name is green, it means that he exceeded 2.75x value on his DraftKings salary that week.
  • If a name is red, it means that player was under 2x his value.
  • All reference to fantasy points assumes DraftKings scoring rules unless otherwise specified.
  • All stats reference the full 2016 season, unless otherwise specified.

Looking Back

In order to keep myself honest and not just dish out wild prognostications with no repercussions, I'll be detailing my best and worst calls from the previous week. Ideally, the best calls sound great, and the worst calls weren't big misses, but with the unpredictable nature of this sport, that's far from guaranteed. Here's last week's column for reference.

"This Guy Really Knows What He's Doing"

"Jacob Tamme ($2,900) is a sneaky GPP pivot from Virgil Green for just $100 more."

  • 18.5 fantasy points at DraftKings on his 5-75-1 line for a 6.83x multiplier!

"...all roads lead back to Carson Palmer ($6,900) being a quality play in cash games or GPPs. I see Palmer reaching 3x (20.7 fantasy points) as a floor."

  • 300+ passing yards bonus and three touchdowns, netting 27.32 fantasy points -- a 3.96x multiplier

"DeAngelo Williams ($7,100) should be the overall RB1 this week by any measure (be it value or overall production). Williams will finish in the top six among the position as his floor."

  • RB5 in DraftKings scoring

"Delanie Walker ($4,500) should finish in the top five at tight end this week."

  • 6-83-1, good for TE4

"Odell Beckham Jr ($9,500) isn't a lock to see double-digit targets. Therefore, he's not the rock-solid cash game player many may think this week."

  • 8-86-0, but not close to reaching cash game value

"Due to (Marvin) Jones' usage being more typical of an outside receiver and his lower price tag, he is the better value play (over Golden Tate)."

  • Not just better value but easily the better play overall with 22.8 fantasy points to Tate's paltry 3.3

"He Said What?!"

"I'm taking A.J. Green ($8,900) as my overall WR1 this week -- even over Antonio Brown ($9,900). I like both to out-pace Odell Beckham Jr."

  • WR78 (not exactly WR1); Green + Brown didn't outscore a modest Beckham week

"Expect 20 or more fantasy points from (Matthew) Stafford."

  • Only 16.5; two touchdowns called back by penalty hurt him

"Either Eli Rogers ($4,100) or Jesse James ($3,400) will reach 3x value this week. My pick is James, due to the Cincinnati tight end regression (where yards happen, touchdowns follow)."

  • Neither did. In fact, Rogers had just one catch.
  • I was correct on Cincinnati's tight end regression, though, as they allowed two touchdowns to Pittsburgh tight ends (one to James and one to Xavier Grimble) after allowing just one in all of 2015 despite high numbers of catches and yards to the position.

"David Johnson ($7,600) is unlikely to impacted by game script and should catch four or more passes in this game. I like some cheaper guys better, but Johnson should still reach at least 2.5x value."

  • Only three catches but a whopping 98 yards; only 17.3 points (good for a 2.3x value) due to being rested in an Arizona blowout

"Rashad Jennings ($5,600)...as good a chance to score as any." and "Eli Manning ($7,600)...cash game recommendation."

  • This game was the bane of many DFS players' existence, myself included. Let's move on to Week 3!

Baltimore at Jacksonville (Over/Under 47.5)

Baltimore (Implied Team Total 24.25 / 12th-highest this week)

  • Jacksonville has allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks, despite allowing the eighth-fewest passing yards in the NFL and the 12th-fewest total yards.
  • Most of the damage done against Jacksonville has come via passing touchdowns (six total). 55.4% of opponent scoring has come via pass touchdowns, the eighth-highest ratio in the NFL.
  • Jacksonville has allowed the second-most red zone trips per game (4.5).
  • Jacksonville has allowed just five receptions to tight ends, second-fewest in the NFL.
  • Baltimore has only been in the red zone twice, fourth-fewest in the NFL (they've scored a touchdown twice).
  • Since 2013, Joe Flacco averages 2.4 fewer fantasy points per game on the road.

Jacksonville (Implied Team Total 23.25 / 17th-highest this week)

  • Since Week 11 of 2015 (their last nine games), Baltimore has allowed multiple passing touchdown in a game four times. In the first nine games of 2015, Baltimore allowed multiple passing touchdowns seven times.
  • Baltimore has allowed just 61.6% of their total yardage via the pass, the third-lowest ratio in the NFL, and 5.6 net yards per pass attempt, eighth-lowest in the NFL.
  • Jacksonville has produced 84.1% of their total yardage via the pass, second-most in the NFL.
  • Baltimore has allowed 4.5 yards per carry, ninth-most in the NFL.
  • Baltimore has allowed three running backs to generate at least 2x value, including the following performance to Isaiah Crowell last week: Crowell (18-133-1 / 1-15-0).
  • In Week 1, Allen Robinson led all receivers with 15 targets before facing off against top-notch cornerback Jason Verrett in Week 2. Baltimore lacks a cornerback of Verrett's caliber.
  • For his career, in games where the point spread is no larger than three points in either direction, Allen Robinson averages 4.2 more PPR fantasy points per game (9 games qualify vs. 19 that don't).
  • For his career, in games where the point spread is no larger than three points in either direction, Blake Bortles averages 9.0 more fantasy points per game (10 games qualify vs. 22 that don't).
  • For his career, in games where the final margin is no larger than three points in either direction, Blake Bortles averages 3.6 more fantasy points per game (7 games qualify vs. 25 that don't).

Takeaways

  • Figuring out who to play on either side is difficult. The best options are likely in GPP play.
  • Joe Flacco ($6,100) is in play for Baltimore due to anticipated volume. 
  • Dennis Pitta ($3,400) is a great cash game play. He should be a lock for 3x value. Jacksonville's number against tight ends are good, but they have faced two opponents whose tight ends are third or fourth in the target pecking order.
  • Allen Robinson ($7,500) should see his production rise to meet his opportunity and talent. He's a solid bet for at least 2.75x his price (20.6 fantasy points).
  • Despite a reputation for being a garbage time hero, Blake Bortles ($6,500) has performed admirably in projected close games. Bortles should achieve a 3x multiplier this week (19.5 fatnasy points).

Oakland at Tennessee (47)

Oakland (22.75 / 18th)

  • Oakland is the fifth-slowest team in "situation-neutral" plays (as defined by Football Outsiders). Tennessee's defense, however, is the fastest.
  • Tennessee has allowed the eighth-fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. However, they faced Shaun Hill in Week 1 and had passing touchdowns against them nullified by penalty on two straight plays last week at Detroit.
  • Tennessee has allowed the following performances to WR1s: M. Jones (8-118-0), Diggs (7-103-0)
  • Tennessee has allowed the following performances to WR3s: Boldin (4-48-1), Thielen (4-54-0)
  • Tennessee has allowed four catches and 50+ yards to both tight ends they've faced. Eric Ebron was one of the touchdowns that was reversed for Detroit last week.
  • Oakland has the most total yards, the sixth-most passing yards, and the second-most rush yards in the NFL.

Tennessee (24.25 / 13th)

  • Last week, Oakland allowed the following performances: Tamme (5-75-1), Hooper (3-84-0), Toilolo (2-21-0).
  • In 2015, Oakland allowed nine starting-quality tight ends to reach at least 2.75x value.
  • Per Scott Barrett on Twitter, the highest-scoring fantasy wide receiver this year is whoever is facing Sean Smith in coverage.
  • Based on where he has lined up so far this season, Tajae Sharpe should see Smith on about 60% of his routes.
  • Oakland has allowed 8.0 yards per play1,035 total yards, and 808 passing yards, all worst in the NFL.
  • Tennessee is the fifth-slowest team in "situation-neutral" plays. Oakland's defense, however, is the second-fastest.
  • DeMarco Murray is tied for third in targets among running backs with 14 (seven in each game). He's tied for first in receptions among backs with 12.

Takeaways

  • Tennessee is weak against WR1s and players who work the middle of the field. 
  • Amari Cooper ($7,700) is a decent bet to reach 3x value this week. There's some positive touchdown regression coming for him in the near future.
  • A GPP-type of tight end sleeper could be Clive Walford ($2,800). He's coming off a 6-50-1 breakout, but there are other decent cheap tight end options that could leave Walford under-owned.
  • Seth Roberts ($3,500) is a very deep punt play. He's a better talent than the aforementioned Thielen (Minnesota) and more spry than Boldin (Detroit). Roberts had 6-113-2 last season when these two teams played in Tennessee.

Detroit at Green Bay (48)

Detroit (20.25 / 24th)

  • Green Bay has allowed 87.7% of their total yardage via the pass, most in the NFL.
  • Green Bay has allowed 300+ yards or multiple passing touchdowns in both games.
  • Matthew Stafford is two nullified touchdowns away from having multiple passing touchdowns in both games. He has 600 passing yards through two weeks.
  • Green Bay has allowed four receptions to running backs in both games.
  • Detroit running backs have 14 receptions in two games. Theo Riddick has nine, and Ameer Abdullah has five. Abdullah was place on Injured Reserve this week, leaving more opportunity for Riddick.
  • Green Bay has allowed 4+ receptions to four wide receivers in two games.
  • Marvin Jones and Golden Tate have 12 and nine receptions, respectively. Jones has double-digit targets in both games (leading the team both times).
  • Green Bay has allowed a receiving touchdown to a tight end in both games.
  • Eric Ebron was one of the nullified touchdowns last week. He did score in Week 1. He has 99 receiving yards in two games, and he's playing 91% of the team's snaps.

Green Bay (27.75 / 2nd)

  • Green Bay has the second-fewest passing yards in the NFL (behind only Los Angeles).
  • Green Bay is third-worst in yards per play (ahead of only Los Angeles and San Francisco).
  • Detroit has allowed multiple passing touchdowns in each game.
  • Over his last nine games, Aaron Rodgers has thrown for under 300 yards in every game. He has accounted for more than two touchdowns (passing plus rushing) just twice in that stretch, never passing for more than two.
  • In 2015, despite his struggles, Rodgers did finish as QB6 (Week 10) and QB9 (Week 13) against Detroit.
  • notable WR1 performances against Detroit include: Sharpe (4-33-0), Hilton (6-79-0). Consider this the "Darius Slay Effect."
  • Detroit has allowed three tight ends to eclipse 4.5x value (in two games). Walker (6-83-1), Allen (4-53-1), Doyle (3-35-2). Consider this the "No DeAndre Levy Effect."

Takeaways

  • Detroit's low implied team total is scary, but the trends say to "play the hits" without much trepidation. Theo Riddick ($4,900) could get to 2.5x from receiving stats alone; six or more catches isn't out of the question.
  • Marvin Jones ($6,200) makes for a fine play in any game type due to his floor/ceiling combination. He's been hitting value even without touchdowns.
  • Eric Ebron ($3,700) is a nice play, though I prefer Pitta in the Baltimore-Jacksonville game.
  • The narratives against him and pricing around him combined with the high implied team total make Aaron Rodgers ($7,700) a nice GPP play. 3.5x value is within reach, especially if he can keep buoying his production with rushing stats.
  • Jared Cook ($2,900) is a juicy combination of price and matchup. 4x GPP value on that small price should be within reach.

San Diego at Indianapolis (52)

San Diego (24.5 / 11th)

  • Indianapolis has allowed at least 2.7x value to three running backs. It could have been at least 3x (or more) to all three had Denver given C.J. Anderson his typical workload. The cited unseasonably hot weather in Denver as a reason to use more players last week.
  • Indianapolis has allowed the most total points in the NFL, the third-most total yardage, the fourth-most rushing yards, and the fourth-highest yards per carry average.
  • With Danny Woodhead's injury happening early last week, Melvin Gordon played 74% of San Diego's snaps
  • The team signed Dexter McCluster this week. Some are worried that he'll replace Woodhead and cut into Gordon's workload. McCluster was in Tennessee in 2014 and 2015, the exact same years Ken Whisenhunt (San Diego's offensive coordinator) was there as head coach. If Whisenhunt didn't make McCluster a valuable player there, he isn't likely to cut into Gordon's production now. 
  • Footballguys co-owner David Dodds has his own blog where he discusses FanDuel strategy and plays. It's called "50 percent Ds" (because Ds make up 1/2 of his name). He discussed using Melvin Gordon earlier this week.

Indianapolis (27.5 / 3rd)

  • Using the same situation-neutral pace stats from Football Outsiders cited earlier, the Indianapolis offense is the seventh-fastest in the NFL (ninth-fastest in raw pace), while the San Diego defense is the 12th-fastest (and fourth-fastest in raw pace).
  • San Diego has allowed the following performances: Bortles (31/50-329-2-2 pass / 3-34-0 rush), Smith (34/48-363-2-1 pass / 4-15-1 rush).
  • That's an average of 49 pass attempts, most in the NFL, and 346 yards, fourth-most in the NFL.
  • This season, Andrew Luck has thrown 87 passes, third-most in the NFL.
  • In 2015, San Diego allowed 4.8 yards per carry, second-worst in the NFL.
  • San Diego has allowed 5.1 yards per carry, worst in the NFL.
  • San Diego has allowed 23 receptions to running backs...in two games! The next-highest is Atlanta with 18 allowed.
  • Frank Gore has seven receptions on nine targets in two games and caught a receiving touchdown last week.
  • San Diego has allowed 14 receptions to tight ends and 9+ fantasy points to tight ends three times in two games, both bottom 10 in the NFL.

Takeaways

  • Melvin Gordon ($5,800) is as much a lock for 3x value as there is on this week's slate. I prefer to every running back between $6,000 and $7,000 and would gladly save $1,500 to play him over C.J. Anderson this week.
  • Andrew Luck ($7,600) is a volume machine. As long as San Diego continues scoring and leading games, their opponents will continue to have volume against them. As long as Indianapolis can't stop anyone, Luck will continue to have volume. This game is a match made in opportunity heaven for Luck. He'll finish this week in the top-three at quarterback.
  • San Diego's perimeter defense is excellent, leading opponents to use the middle of the field and the run game to gain yards and score points. This makes both Indianapolis tight ends potential value plays. Dwayne Allen ($3,800) is a solid cash game play, and Jack Doyle ($2,500) may have a lower floor but is a solid bet to reach 4x value (only needs 10 points).
  • Frank Gore ($5,000) may lack GPP upside, but if you'd prefer to pay up at another position, he's an unsexy choice to reach 3x value as he should be in line for at least four catches.

Atlanta at New Orleans (54)

Atlanta (25.5 / 8th)

  • New Orleans has allowed 6.5 yards per play672 passing yards, and 8.3 net yards per pass attemptall bottom-five in the NFL.
  • Atlanta has averaged 7.0 yards per play, has 711 passing yards, and 9.2 net yards per pass attempt (hat tip profootballreference.com), best in the NFL. In fact, the next-best is net yards per pass is 7.9.
  • New Orleans has allowed the 12th-fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks but has allowed an average of 343.5 passing yards per game. The touchdowns are likely to come.
  • New Orleans has allowed 6+ receptions to four different wide receivers already this season.

New Orleans (28.5 / 1st)

  • Atlanta has allowed 4.6 yards per rush attempt, 7.4 net yards per pass attempt, 6.3 yards per play825 total yards, and 59 pointsall bottom-10 in the NFL.
  • Atlanta has allowed, on average, 290 passing yards and 3.5 passing touchdowns this season.
  • Since 2013, Drew Brees has multiple touchdown passes in 19 of his last 25 home games. He threw three or more in 15 of those games.
  • Atlanta has allowed 8+ receptions to running backs in each game.
  • Since 2013, New Orleans has had a running back catch four or more passes in a game 44 times (a 50-game span).
  • Atlanta has permitted the following WR1 performances: Cooper (5-71-0), Evans (5-99-1). 
  • Atlanta has allowed three touchdowns and 15 receptions to tight ends in two games.

Takeaways

  • This is one of those #allofthepoints games, so having any player here should provide some punch.
  • DFS players have to distance themselves from his 2015 in order to comprehend this, but Matt Ryan ($7,400) is the best value play in this game. He's the overall QB2 so far this season, and of all the green text above, he is the player to whom it points most. 
  • Julio Jones ($9,500) is expensive but is a solid play. With the expensive receivers underwhelming last week and the mid-priced receivers having nice matchups this week, it could be contrarian to buy up at the position in Week 3. The Cooper performance mentioned above didn't meet value, but he was a step out of bounds away from a touchdown. WRs1 can get theirs against New Orleans.

Questions, comments, suggestions, and other feedback on this piece are always welcome via e-mail hester@footballguys.com