Before digging in to this week’s games and GPP options, take a moment to refresh yourself on tips for short slate tournaments. Game theory trumps player and matchup knowledge in large fields most weeks, but this is particularly true on two-game slates.
LA Rams @ New Orleans
|Opening Vegas Implied Total||26.75||30.25|
|Points Per Game||32.8||30.8|
|Opponent Points Per Game||23.9||21.6|
|Situation Neutral Pace Rank||3||13|
You want exposure to these guys, but so do most of your opponents.
- Drew Brees ($5,900) - At $700 less than Patrick Mahomes II and with no threat of arctic game conditions in the Superdome, Brees figures to be the most popular quarterback on the slate by the narrowest of margins. Brees’ lowest output in a home game this season was 17.62 DraftKings points all the way back in Week 2. He is every bit as safe as Mahomes, but the game conditions and opposing defense combine to give Brees a slightly higher probability of a ceiling game (even if we haven’t seen one in a while). If you’re making 10 lineups, Brees belongs in three or four.
- Alvin Kamara ($6,500) - Kamara’s price borders on absurd considering he shares a 40+ point ceiling with Todd Gurley ($7,500), Michael Thomas ($8,200), and Tyreek Hill ($7,700). He was surprisingly bottled up against the Eagles last week, but Kamara still touched the ball 20 times and his day would have looked much different if his 46-yard third-quarter touchdown reception hadn’t been overturned. The Rams linebackers have struggled in coverage against running backs all season, including against Kamara himself back in Week 9 (116 total yards and three touchdowns). If Kamara isn’t the focus of the Saints game plan this week, it would be an abject failure. Make him your highest overall exposure.
- Todd Gurley ($7,500) - How the crowd reacts to the possibility Gurley is now a timeshare back is one of the more interesting storylines on this slate. We heard Joe Buck say on last Sunday’s telecast Sean McVay was concerned about Gurley’s cardio conditioning and the plan was to ease him in back into action. Be that as it may, C.J. Anderson’s continued effectiveness made it an easy decision for McVay not to overload Gurley in his first game action since Week 15. No one knows for sure how LA’s backfield work will get dispersed this week, but it’s hard to imagine Gurley getting back to 30+ touches with Anderson coming off three consecutive games with at least 125 rushing yards. Complicating matters is the Saints defense -- the only unit in the NFL that didn’t allow over 1,000 total rushing yards to opposing running backs during the regular season. Unlike most weeks, if you’re rostering Gurley, it’s with the hope LA is forced into a negative game script. He’s a far better receiver than Anderson and could rack up PPR points if the Rams are playing from behind. Gurley’s upside remains elite, but the probability you need to have him for a first-place finish is no higher than 30%, which is likely lower than his percent rostered.
- Michael Thomas ($8,200) - Thomas is the most expensive -- and likely to be the chalkiest -- player on the slate, but don’t let that sway you from playing him in at least half your lineups. While the Rams pass defense improved substantially following the Week 13 return of cornerback Aqib Talib, there simply isn’t another receiver in this week’s player pool who can reasonably be projected for 15 (high-quality) targets. Maybe the presence of Talib prevents Thomas from the type of monstrous game he hung on the Rams in Week 9 (15-12-211-1), but LA hasn’t typically assigned a cornerback to a specific wide receiver when both Talib and Marcus Peters have been active this year. Even if the Rams change their game plan and Talib shadows, the advantage still goes to Thomas, whose expert route running and strength at the catch point are a challenge for any cornerback in the league to defend. A second-consecutive ceiling game is in play and it is pointless to stack Brees without Thomas.
- Robert Woods ($5,700) - Woods has a significant skill advantage over Saints slot corner P.J. Williams. DraftKings priced down LA’s wide receivers for a second-straight week, making both Woods and Brandin Cooks a little too easy to fit into full game stacks next to Brees, Kamara, and Thomas. If the Rams are forced to abandon the run and the game comes anywhere close to its implied total, both LA receivers are positioned to exceed 4x salary multiples.
- Brandin Cooks ($5,300) - See Woods, Robert. But also add in more big-play potential, a lower salary, revenge motivation against the first team to give up on him, and a great career track record in the Superdome.
- Saints Defense ($2,700) - New Orleans is a home favorite and Jared Goff is more mistake prone than the only other road quarterback on the slate. If you have thoughts on a dominant Saints win, stacking their defense with Mark Ingram II makes sense.
If the implied game script goes wonky or the chalk busts, these guys can lead you to a win.
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