Identifying the Shootout With the Most Predictable Gamescript

Which game among those with high projected totals has the most predictable game script, and which players benefit the most from a shootout? 

BJ VanderWoude: Currently, there are four games with projected totals of 48+ points (Chicago vs New Orleans, San Francisco vs Philadelphia, LA Chargers vs New England and Dallas vs Washington).  Which of these games has the most predictable game script, and which players benefit the most from a shootout? 

Jason Wood: I'm quite surprised by a number of these over/unders.  The Bears are an anemic offense that's winning with defense right now, and I don't see why they should be expected to score a bunch of points on the road. New Orleans has righted the ship and is at home, but will they score enough to offset a poor Bears performance? I'm not sure. The Chargers and Patriots has the makings of a shootout, but the Patriots have quietly started figuring out the defensive side of the ball, again. It wouldn't shock me to see this turn into a lopsided contest, although I'm more open to this being 48+ points than the Bears/Saints. Philadelphia should roll San Francisco, for sure, but there is the chance of a "trap game." Of the four games mentioned, the Cowboys and Washington game is the one I'd build around for DFS purposes. Neither team has a top notch defense, and it's a division battle where the loser may be on the outside looking in when it comes to playoff time. 

If my Cowboys vs Washington prediction is accurate, the usual suspects will benefit. Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott are must starts in all formats. Jason Witten is a near must start particularly in a crazy bye week. Dez Bryant is a must start if Josh Norman misses the game. If Norman returns, Bryant is probably too good to sit for most people, but I would pass on him for DFS purposes. In terms of Washington, they can't run the ball nor do they need to try against the Cowboys. Kirk Cousins is a plus matchup, and Jordan Reed (who broke out on Monday Night) and Chris Thompson should be in lineups. 

James Brimacombe: Much like Jason I like the Dallas at Washington game the best when it comes to predicting game scripts for DFS purposes. Also have to like the LA Chargers vs New England game but the other two games I feel like the home team’s (New Orleans and Philadelphia) will dominate and the second half of those games might be the running and kicking game getting all the fantasy points. With Dallas and Washington you get a division game with plenty on the line as both teams find themselves with 3-3 records and desperate for a division win. Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott look like strong plays even paired together, and on the other side you have Kirk Cousins and Jordan Reed coming off a big game where they finally connecting with each other. Washington doesn’t have a rushing game that I want to touch right now so if I was game stacking I would look to roster Kirk Cousins here with Jordan Reed and counter it with Ezekiel Elliott on the other side with maybe some Dez Bryant.

Phil Alexander: The game with the most predictable script has to be Chicago at New Orleans. Chicago's recent defensive performances have been impressive, but their last three games have come against Case Keenum, Joe Flacco, and the ever-erratic Cam Newton. The last time Chicago went on the road as an underdog of at least one touchdown against an elite quarterback, Aaron Rodgers threw four touchdowns without breaking a sweat in a 35-14 laugher.

The Packers run defense is tougher than the Saints, so perhaps the Bears can establish Jordan Howard. But 12 of Howard's 14 career touchdowns have come in home games. If he's unlikely to score on the road, it's doubtful Mitchell Trubisky (23 pass attempts and 52% completion rate over the last two games) is going to pick up the slack.

Like Rodgers, Brees is more than capable of picking apart the Bears middle-of-the-road defense. If he forces Trubisky into catchup mode as Vegas implies (Saints -9), we can expect huge days from:

  • Brees - Always in play at home regardless of matchup
  • Michael Thomas - Most targets on the team in every game this year
  • Mark Ingram II - Better with big workloads and should have increased opportunity as the Saints attempt to salt the game away in the second half
  • Alvin Kamara - The Bears have allowed at least 35 receiving yards to a single running back in 4-of-7 games 
  • Saints D/ST -  Massive turnover upside as they pin their ears back with a big lead and tee off on Trubisky

John Mamula: The two games that have the most predictable game script are New Orleans versus Chicago and Philadelphia versus San Francisco. Both home teams should dominate these games and it is obvious where the points will come from. Phil did a great job reviewing the Saints playmakers so I will review the Eagles who are 13 point home favorites versus the winless 49ers. 

  • The Eagles have the highest projected team total of the week at 30.35 points. They should score early and often against the 49ers.
  • The 49ers are the 6th worst defense versus the pass (allowing an average of 259 yards per game) and the 4th worst defense against the run (allowing 134.6 rushing yards/per game). 
  • There has been little value this season with Eagles running backs LeGarrette Blount and  Wendall Smallwood, who returned to the lineup this past week against the Redskins but only had 10 touches on 24 offensive snaps. The Eagles offense is driven through their passing attack and that is the focus this week.
  • Carson Wentz is leading the NFL with 17 passing touchdowns and is currently fourth with 1852 passing yards (behind only Tom Brady, Alex Smith and Carson Palmer who he will pass this week). He is in play for both cash games and GPP tournaments.
  • Zach Ertz has five touchdowns on the season (all over his past five games). He has been the favorite receiving option (58 targets) for Wentz and is in consideration for cash games and GPP tournaments. 
  • Alshon Jeffery has yet to have a 100 yard game with the Eagles but has 54 targets on the season. He was targeted heavily against the Chiefs (13 targets: 7 receptions for 92 yards and 1 touchdown) and versus the Panthers (10 targets: 4 receptions for 71 yards). Jeffery is a solid GPP candidate as this is a possible breakout game against a terrible secondary. 
  • Nelson Agholor has five touchdowns on the season after only scoring three touchdowns over his first two seasons. He is also in consideration for GPP tournaments.

Dan Hindery: The most predictable game script is the Dallas versus Washington game. Both offenses have been playing well and have matchups they should be able to exploit. Each of the last three meetings between these teams was a shootout with 50+ total points and the losing team scoring at least 23 in each game. Both Dak Prescott and Kirk Cousins should have good games. Jason Witten has far and away the best matchup for the Cowboys. With Josh Norman back, the Cowboys receivers all have difficult matchups. Washington ranks 4th in DVOA against #1 wide receivers and 2nd in DVOA against #2 wide receivers. However, Washington is 28th in DVOA against the TE and is giving up 86.5 receiving yards per game to opposing tight ends. That is worst in the NFL by nearly 10 yards. 

Justin Howe:  I’m not especially interested in Bears-Saints, apart from a few obligatory Brees-at-home shares in GPPs. The Bears flash an improving defense from time to time – they’ve allowed the NFL’s ninth-fewest passing yards and fifth-fewest touchdowns, and they’re still doing a fantastic job of funneling the ball away from opposing WR1s. Chargers-Patriots has boatloads of potential, but New England game scripts are notoriously hard to pin down. Cowboys-Washington looks juicy, with a 50.5-point Vegas projection and predictable usage for the Dallas studs. Kirk Cousins will definitely find a home in my portfolio, and he’ll likely be my primary cash-game option, though his stack appeal seems a bit limited for tournaments.

But for a blend of predictable volume and wildly winnable one-on-one matchups across the field, I’ll be investing most confidently in a few Eagles. Vegas projects them to a week-high 30.25 points, and Carson Wentz has been generating touchdowns on a wild level all season. He doesn’t need to be as efficient as he’s been lately (a whopping 1.01 DraftKings and 0.96 FanDuel points per attempt) – or continue his string of 3- and 4-touchdown games – to reach value here. It makes sense to stock one’s GPP portfolio with affordable game stacks from here – Wentz/Zach Ertz, Wentz/Nelson Agholor, or even Wentz/LeGarrette Blount to try and lock down every Eagles touchdown.

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