Each week I take a look at every NFL game in an attempt to identify players that can be stacked together to maximize value in GPP play at FanDuel. I examine the spreads and totals for each game as well as the implied totals for each team and blend that with the likeliest script that these games will follow. In doing so, I am attempting to find players that can pay dividends for your lineup, but I will also provide a pivot within the stack to another player and give reasons as to why a pivot might make sense. You can use this information as a guide, and you will have multiple options to help you to sort through the noise while you put lineups together that can offer a degree of security.
Facing No. 27 ranked DVOA defense - No. 31 ranked pass defense allowing 315.7 yards per game
Game Total - 55.5
Implied Totals - Patriots at 30.5 points and Buccaneers at 25 points
Game Line - New England Patriots - 5.5
The New England Patriots travel to Tampa Bay to face the Buccaneers on Thursday night in Week 5. Vegas likes this game to be the highest-scoring game of the week with the 55.5-point total and looking at these defenses; it is easy to see that points should come easy in this game.
The Buccaneers pass defense has not played well to this point in the 2017 season, surrendering an average of 7.5 yards per attempt which ranks No. 21 in the NFL, tied with the Minnesota Vikings. The Buccaneers have been lit up by the Vikings and Giants in last two games they have played in 2017.
Vikings quarterback Case Keenum hit them for 369 yards and three scores two weeks ago, and last week, Giants quarterback Eli Manning dusted the Buccaneers for 288 yards, 2 touchdowns, and he even added a rushing touchdown too.
If Keenum and Manning are putting up these kinds of numbers on this secondary, then Brady has to be in line for a monster game here. Brady is one of the several quarterbacks in the NFL that can exploit soft pass defenses, and that is exactly what the Buccaneers are at this time.
Brady runs a quick-strike offense and the Patriots employ a short passing game to move the chains while taking shots in the intermediate part of the field with Gronkowski. They will also take shots to vertical threat Brandin Cooks, but they butter their bread throwing short to intermediate parts of the field.
Gronkowski is the clear focal point in the passing game for the Patriots, and the Buccaneers are likely missing linebackers Lavonte David and Kwon Alexander. This is a significant advantage for Gronkowski and an area that the Patriots will exploit.
Gronkowski has been targeted 24 times over the past three games. He has caught 18 passes for 285 yards and two scores over his past here games. Look for Gronkowski to extend his hot streak coming out of this game.
Facing No. 32 ranked DVOA defense - No. 32 ranked pass defense allowing 324 yards per game
Game Total - 55.5
Implied Totals - Buccaneers at 25 points and Patriots at 30.5 points
Game Line - Tampa Bay Buccaneers + 5.5
The Buccaneers bring the New England Patriots to town for a Thursday night morning matchup of high powered offenses and underperforming defenses. The Patriots have presented great opportunity for opposing quarterbacks this year.
Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith hit the Patriots defense in Week 1 for 368 yards and 4 scores. In the season’s second week, Saints quarterback Drew Brees went off for 356 yards and 2 touchdowns. Rookie Deshaun Watson even lit them up for 301 yards and 2 scores in Week 3, and last week, Panthers quarterback Cam Newton registered 316 yards and 3 touchdowns.
The Patriots allow 9.4 yards per attempt which is last in the NFL. The Patriots have given up 11 passing scores to date which is tied with the Tennessee Titans for worst in the NFL.
Also, the Patriots have allowed 19 plays of 20+ yards. Only the Indianapolis Colts and New Orleans Saints have given up more plays of 20+ yards. The Patriots have surrendered 4 plays of 40+ yards and only the Kansas City Chiefs and the Philadelphia Eagles have allowed more.
Evans is a red zone threat because of his size and ability to go up and win the jump ball, but that is not his only skill as he will threaten the defense down the field. He is the clear first option in this passing attack as he has seen 31 targets in three games, bringing in 19 of them for catches and scoring twice in that span.
This game has the look of a shootout, and that funnels passing-game volume to Evans which makes him an intriguing option in GPP play in Week 5.
Pivot: DeSean Jackson ($6,500) is a very worthy play in this matchup with the Patriots vulnerability to get beat deep down the field. He is a risk as he has not been that involved in the passing game to this point as he has been targeted 21 times and only caught 9 passes through three games. However, this matchup stands out as one with great opportunity and a breakout could be on the menu here for Jackson.
Facing No. 21 ranked DVOA defense - No. 20 ranked pass defense allowing 231.8 yards per game
Game Total - 52.5
Implied Totals - Packers at 25 points and Cowboys at 27 points
Game Line - Green Bay Packers +2
The Green Bay Packers take to the road in Week 5 to take on the Dallas Cowboys in a pivotal NFC matchup. This game has one of the highest totals of the week and there should be plenty of scoring in this contest.
The Cowboys enter this game stumbling against the pass over the past three games. Broncos quarterback Trevor Siemian hit the Cowboys for 231 yards and four touchdowns in Week 2. In the third week of the season, Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer went for 325 yards and two scores. Last week, Rams quarterback Jared Goff registered 255 yards and two scores. While the Cowboys are holding offenses down from a yardage perspective, they are getting gashed by touchdowns.
Rodgers enters this game on a torrid pace having thrown for 10 scores through four games. The Packers have not run the ball well, and are going to be limited in this contest with starter Ty Montgomery likely out or very limited, and that means that Rodgers will put this offense on his back which expands his ceiling.
Nelson is also red hot coming into this game having scored four touchdowns over his past two games. Rodgers and Nelson have great chemistry, and their efficiency makes them incredibly dangerous. Nelson has only been targeted 16 times in those two games, but he has caught 10 balls with 40 percent of those catches going for scores.
Rodgers and Nelson are an intriguing stack and one worth consideration for GPP play in Week 5.
Pivot: Randall Cobb ($6,600) lines up out of the slot for the Packers and the Cowboys have given up big numbers and scores to slot receivers to start the season. Two weeks ago it was Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald and last week it was Rams rookie Cooper Kupp. Cobb is an intriguing play as he gets a piece of Rodgers at a reduction in price which opens up your salary to spend elsewhere.
Facing No. 15 ranked DVOA defense - No. 14 ranked pass defense allowing 216.5 yards per game
Game Total - 52.5
Implied Totals - Cowboys at 27 points and Packers at 25 points
Game Line - Dallas Cowboys - 2
The Dallas Cowboys are at home this week as they bring the Green Bay Packers into town for an NFC matchup of teams that most are looking at as playoff locks. Prescott is playing well and has a high floor as he enters this matchup. He has thrown eight touchdowns through four games and he also runs for enough yardage to boost his value.
The Packers were the No. 23 ranked DVOA pass defense in the NFL last year, and while that number has improved to start the season, some of that is due to the soft schedule they have played to this point. The Packers got the struggling Seahawks in Week 1 and the Chicago Bears in Week 4.
While the Packers have looked good versus the pass on paper, there is history here that matters and it is worth looking at. In Week 6 last year, Prescott threw for 247 yards and three touchdowns. In last year’s Divisional Round of the playoffs, Prescott threw for 302 yards and three scores. He has a good feel for the Packers and he has been very productive against them in the past.
The game script is calling for points to be scored, and Prescott and the passing game will be challenged to keep pace with the potent Packers offense, and that means more opportunity for Prescott and company.
Bryant has been the first option in the Cowboys passing attack, and if we take away the Cardinals game (Patrick Peterson matchup), he has been targeted 38 times in three games. The Packers are the league’s No. 21 ranked DVOA pass defense against No. 1 receivers, and they allowed Falcons receiver Julio Jones (108 yards) and Bengals receiver A.J. Green (111 yards) to surpass 100 yards on them. Interestingly, Jones and Green are clear first options in their team’s passing attack.
HIGHER RISK STACKS
Facing No. 17 ranked DVOA defense - No. 30 ranked pass defense allowing 285 yards per game
Game Total - 45
Implied Totals - Cardinals at 19 points and Eagles at 26 points
Game Line - Arizona Cardinals + 6.5
The Arizona Cardinals travel to Philadelphia for an NFC matchup against the Eagles in Week 5. The Eagles have surrendered seven passing touchdowns in 2017 and only five teams league-wide have allowed more. The Eagles surrender a 7.9-yard average and only six teams in the NFL allow a higher average.
Palmer has been forced to put the offense on his back with running back David Johnson injured in Week 1. Since that game, Palmer has three consecutive games throwing for 300+ yards and has averaged 45 passing attempts per game.
When looking at the Cardinals offense, the lack of a running game must be considered and the reality is they do not have much at the position, and if the Cardinals are going to score points, it is going to come from the passing game. Yes, the Cardinals implied number is low, but consider the Eagles are a big home favorite and it is possible that this funnels volume to an already strapped Cardinals passing attack.
The game script sees Palmer and the Cardinals forced to throw and playing catch-up in this contest with Philadelphia favored by almost a touchdown. Palmer could easily throw the ball 50+ times in this game and that means the potential for more production for all involved.
Fitzgerald has been a steady performer out of the slot in this offense and the Eagles are struggling to handle this position, specifically over the past two games. In Week 3, Giants slot receiver Sterling Shepard went off for 7 catches, 133 yards and a score. Last week, Chargers slot receiver Keenan Allen hit the Eagles for 5 catches and 138 yards.
The risk here is that Palmer has historically struggled when flying across the country for 1 PM EST starts. Also, the Cardinals have a low implied total at 19 points. However, when looking at the matchup and game script, the risk is mitigated by the sheer volume the passing game will see.
Palmer and Fitzgerald offer nice value from a points-per-dollar outlook, and while there is a risk, there is also enough upside to warrant consideration for stacking them in GPP play in Week 5.
Jay Cutler ($6,700) + Devante Parker ($6,100) = $12,800
Facing No. 29 ranked DVOA defense - No. 28 ranked pass defense allowing 274.2 yards per game
Game Total - 41
Implied Totals - Dolphins at 19 points and Titans at 22 points
Game Line - Miami Dolphins + 3
The Miami Dolphins bring the Tennessee Titans into town for an AFC matchup in Week 5. The Titans pass defense has not played well to this point in the 2017 season, surrendering an average of 7.7 yards per attempt which ranks No. 24 in the NFL.
The Titans have surrender 11 passing scores to date which is tied for worst in the NFL. Only seven teams in the NFL allow more 20+ yard plays than the 13 the Titans have allowed. Only four teams have allowed more attempts than the Titans, and this all adds up to mean potentially good things for passing offenses facing this struggling pass defense.
The Titans have been lit up by the Seahawks and Texans in last two games they have played in 2017. Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson hit them for 373 yards and four scores two weeks ago, and last week, Texans rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson torched the Titans for 283 yards, four touchdowns, and he even added a rushing touchdown too.
Parker is the vertical threat in the passing attack and he has been limited by the ineffectiveness of Cutler to this point. He has been targeted 27 times in three games and has 18 catches for 230 yards and one score to date. This matchup is juicy though as he faces off against a struggling secondary and a team that is leaking points to opposing receivers.
Cutler has struggled mightily to start the season, and that is where a lot of the risk concerns this play. He has struggled to post good numbers against very good matchups, and that is something to consider when looking at rostering him.
Also, the implied number for the Dolphins is low, so Vegas is not expecting much scoring from Miami here, but from a dollar-per-point perspective, this stack may be worth the risk in GPP play in Week 5.
LeVeon Bell ($9,500) + Pittsburgh Steelers ($4,800) = $14,300
The Pittsburgh Steelers bring the Jacksonville Jaguars to Heinz Field on Sunday for an AFC matchup. The Steelers are an 8.5-point home favorite in a game they should win, and the game script is favorable to funnel volume to Bell. Bell started the season slowly after holding out of training camp, but he has much more involved in the offense over the past two games, touching the ball 60 times and totaling 284 yards and three touchdowns.
The Jaguars are the league’s worst-ranked DVOA run defense in 2017. They are also ranked last in yards allowed per game (165.5) and yards per carry (5.7). The Jaguars have allowed five rushing touchdowns and only the Indianapolis Colts and the Los Angeles Rams have allowed more. Bell is in a great situation here facing an awful run defense and looking at the potential for heavy volume.
The Jaguars offense is only forecast to score 17.5 points and they are missing star receiver Allen Robinson. Bortles has looked a little better recently but is still a volatile player and I am looking at this road game as a potential dud for him which benefits the Steelers defense. The Steelers are the league’s second-best team in generating sacks (15) and they will be able to harass Bortles, get him uncomfortable and potentially make a big play or two on defense.