Very often, success in DFS is dependent on correctly predicting the game script. A good place to start is the Las Vegas over/under and point spread. However, sometimes players and teams have extra motivation. Sometimes this motivation will exceed the game script. Predicting these outliers can lead your team to success. In this article, we’ll identify some items that go beyond the numbers. Those little bits of extra motivation that can lead to big DFS success. A place we call Narrative Street.
New England Patriots at Denver Broncos
The Patriots are the best team in the AFC right now with an 11-2 record and have a chance to lock up their division this week with a win. The defending Super Bowl champs are 3rd in their division, and on the bubble to be eliminated from the playoffs going into this weekend. The Patriots are on a short week of practice due to facing the Ravens on Monday Night and having to go on the road to face Denver this weekend. Yet they still come into the game as a 3 point favorite with a projected team total of 24 points. Tom Brady will look to find options against the league's best passing defense (183 Yards per game allowed), and Martellus Bennett, Julian Edelman and Malcolm Mitchell will certainly play a factor. The Patriots also acquired Michael Floyd after the Cardinals released him earlier this week due to a DUI, and he could suit up for this game as well. On the other side of the ball, the Patriots are vulnerable through the air, and Joe Flacco had a huge second half on Monday, finishing that game with 324 passing yards and 2 TDs with just 1 interception. Trevor Siemian came back strong last week, with a 334 yard, 1 TD performance of his own against the Titans in a losing effort. Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders both had over 100 yards receiving in that game and should be prominently targeted this weekend as well. Vegas calls for this game to be relatively low scoring, but both of these teams have a lot at stake and you can bet that it will be a dogfight right up to the final second of the game.
Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears
One of the oldest, most bitter rivalries in the NFL returns for another round this weekend in a game that has a lot of interesting angles, but might be the one to avoid completely. Lately, the Packers have been hot, with big wins against the Seahawks, Texans and Eagles over the last three weeks, holding those teams to an average of under 12 points per game. Aaron Rodgers has thrown 10 TDs with 0 interceptions in his last four games, but he comes into this matchup with a strained calf. He has not practice this week, but the Packers have already said he will play, but perhaps with a modified playbook. On the Chicago side, the Bears get Alshon Jeffery back from a 4 game suspension due to PEDs. Jeffery is a free agent at the end of the season, and his time in Chicago may be coming to an end. He's playing for a contract extension next season, and he'll be looking to do whatever he can to improve his image after this last incident. Unfortunately for him, Matt Barkley will be under center and despite his scrappy nature, he's expected to struggle this week against an improved Green Bay defense. But the final factor which should have you seriously considering fading everyone from this match this week is the weather. Current projections expect the temperature to be near zero at Kickoff with the wind-chills approaching -15 degrees. There is a winter advisory in effect and while it may not be snowing during the game, it will probably have been snowing the entire night before. While the narrative will be strong for this game, the smart DFS play may be to look for value elsewhere.
Dak Prescott QB DAL vs. Tony Romo QB DAL
Think the bar is set a little high on expectations of Dak Prescott this season? #1 overall QB Jared Goff sat out the first 10 games of the season and hasn't won a game since taking over the starting roll. #2 pick Carson Wentz started out the season on a hot streak, but he and the Eagles have hit a wall and are since all but eliminated from playoff contention. Prescott took over in the preseason due to injury, marched the Cowboys to the playoffs and almost certain division title. He's lost two games this season by a combined total of just four points and everyone is speculating that he'll be replaced by Tony Romo if Prescott stops to tie his shoes. Such is the way of things with the NFL I suppose, but the narrative here is that the Cowboys are at home, and are a 7 point favorite against Tampa Bay. Tampa is one of the hottest teams in the NFL right now, coming into this game on a 5 game win streak, and holding their opponents to under 13 points per game during that stretch. The Cowboys have struggled a bit against tougher defenses and this weekend will be another test for the rookie Prescott. Can he quiet the noise around him and find the poise and control that helped him lead the Cowboys on that 11 game win streak? For his sake, he will need to. If the Cowboys are down by half-time, the chants for Romo to take over may be pretty loud. Especially from the Owner's box.
Cam Newton QB CAR vs. Josh Norman DB WAS
The Panthers head to Washington for a Monday Night showdown where Washington is playing for a playoff spot and the Panthers are just hoping the seasons ends as quickly as possible. The #NarrativeStreet story is a little different though. Most know that Norman was a former team mate of Cam Newton and was a big part of why the Panthers were favored to win the Super Bowl last season. Norman hit the free agency market last summer and the Panthers basically cut him loose as he moved to Washington and signed a big $75 million contract. The exit was a very abrupt though and while Norman certainly cashed in on his elite status, he was pretty hurt that the Panthers didn't make a play to retain him. But this week he has a bit of extra motivation against his former QB Cam Newton. Norman and Newton are friends and are known for their fierce competitive nature. Norman called Netwon out this week, all but challenging him to throw the ball in Norman's direction on Monday. With nothing but pride to play for, it wouldn't surprise anyone if Newton takes this challenge head on.
A.J. Derby TE DEN vs. New England Patriots
BIG thanks to my friend and fellow staffer Austin Lee (@) for pointing out that A.J. Derby will be facing his former teammates this week in Denver. Derby began the season with the Patriots but the Broncos acquired him just before the trade deadline and he's been slowly moving up the depth chart ever since. Derby has caught every pass that has been thrown to him over the last three games and he has 10 receptions for 103 yards over that span. (Ok, maybe not BIG thanks, but feel free to hop over on Twitter and shoot Austin a big thank you anyway!)
Good luck this weekend!