DFS Roundtable: Momentum Games

The DFS team discusses the matchups pairing teams with recent momentum

Two games pit big favorites who struggled last week against weaker but recently inspired home underdogs. What player, team, or storyline has the most intrigue for DFS lineup building in Week 14?

Steelers (-11) at Raiders
Saints (-8) at Buccaneers

James Brimacombe: The Steelers game is interesting especially with the injury to James Conner right now. With the high point spread of being an 11-point favorite, you have to consider the plays of Ben Roethlisberger and his wide receivers Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster. If you look at a similar situation last week with the Chiefs on the road against the Raiders and with the Kareem Hunt news and him out of the picture people were flocking to play Spencer Ware. Although Ware was a decent play with 47 yards and a touchdown it was Patrick Mahomes II who had the big game with 295 passing yards and four touchdowns and 52 more yards rushing. He paired up with Travis Kelce for 12/168/2 so I think targeting Roethlisberger with one or both of his star receivers makes for a good option this week.

Phil Alexander: I'm not sure if Saints at Buccaneers will have the most real-life intrigue, but its implied 57-point total is by far the highest on the main slate, making it the easy choice to build lineups around.

The public is going to target New Orleans players, specifically Drew Brees, Michael Thomas, and Alvin Kamara, but in tournaments, I'm more interested in the Tampa Bay side. Jameis Winston is playing for a contract extension and it's showing. In two games since being reinserted as the Buccaneers starter, Winston has completed 72% of his passes, averaged 11.4 yards per attempt, thrown four touchdowns, zero interceptions, and added 72 yards on 12 rush attempts. This is a terrific spot for him, at home, against a defense that has allowed the third-most normalized fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season.

Injuries to O.J. Howard and DeSean Jackson have made it easier to predict where Winston's targets will go. Adam Humphries is getting pricier, but he has scored in three straight games and the Saints have struggled to defend slot receivers all season. Dating back to 2017, Chris Godwin has proven he's a strong play anytime Jackson (or Mike Evans) scratches. And Evans (7-147-1) took it to Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore when these teams met back in Week 1. Winston should have to throw 40+ times to keep up with New Orleans, which puts his 35-point ceiling in play. Double-stack him with two of his receivers in GPPs.

Justin Howe: It's the boring answer, but Jameis Winston's possible resurgence takes the cake here. I mean, who is this guy lately? 73% completions and 1 interception over 10 quarters? Since when does he both protect the ball AND push it aggressively downfield?

I'll bite for as long as new-and-improved Winston is a thing. Always a cannon-armed guy with an eye on the deep ball, he's long been one of the best at maximizing opportunity regardless of game flow. Of course, part of the reason the Saints are eight-point road favorites is the possibility of a Winston collapse. But his DFS salary profile that's not moving nearly as fast as it should be - the 23-24 points he needs for GPP value have been more of a midlevel finish lately. As a result, he comes in as a bargain, and therefore so do his receivers. Chris Godwin didn't get nearly the salary boost he should've for a dynamic young guy that won't see too much Marshon Lattimore.

BJ VanderWoude: The Saints vs Bucs matchup presents a great opportunity for game stacking, but I am most interested in the Steelers wide receivers with James Connor out for the week.

There has been a lot of talk around Jaylen Samuels and the value he presents as Connors replacement, however, I have not heard too much regarding Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster’s volume in the passing game. The same can be said for Vance McDonald, as he will surely pick up work in the short passing game.

Brown and Smith-Schuster have seen 75 targets combined over the last three games, so it is fair to wonder just how much more volume they can take on. I don’t think it is that they will see a big increase in targets, but they will most certainly stay steady in that regard. That is more than enough to justify spending up on them as a tandem, as they’ve turned those 75 targets into roughly 150 fantasy points (PPR) over the last three games. This has been the year of the stud running back, where splurging on top wise receivers has rarely paid off from a PP$ perspective, but I think this is the week to switch things up. The Raiders secondary provides an advantageous matchup for the Steelers, so all signs point to Brown and Smith-Schuster having big games and reaching GPP value despite a rather large jump in their salaries.

Dan Hindery: The most intriguing storyline is the running back situation in Pittsburgh. The possibility of rostering a starting running back on a team with a 31-point implied team total at a near-minimum salary is extremely attractive. The toughest thing to figure is how much of a committee approach the Steelers will use. Jaylen Samuels has said he will start but share carries with Stevan Ridley. If we feel confident Samuels will get at least 60% of the backfield touches, he is a slam dunk DFS option this week.

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