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.
Dallas Cowboys at Pittsburgh Steelers
The Cowboy - Steeler rivalry goes back a long way, with these guys meeting in the Super Bowl several times over their franchise histories. It's not quite to the level of Pittsburgh - Baltimore or Dallas - Washington anymore, but these two teams definitely know what has gone before. This week presents a lot of questions on both sides of the ball. In Pittsburgh, Ben Roethlisberger gets his second start since returning from injury, and if truth be told, he really wasn't 100% last week. However, if you buy into the narrative that Ben plays better at home than on the road (In the two games leading up to his injury, he had 680 yards passing and 9 TDs against 0 Ints), then you would expect him to bounce back this week. Add in that the Cowboys will be without Morris Claiborne, and there is something to be said for Big Ben exceeding expectations this week. On the other side of the ball, Dak Prescott has lead the Cowboys to a 7-1 record and has forced a legitimate quarterback controversy conversation in Dallas. Tony Romo returned to practice this week and could play if needed this week. The Cowboys aren't going to bench the guy who got them this far, but if Prescott struggles, how quickly will he be yanked for Romo and could it be as early as this week? Odds are against it, and the Steelers have been vulnerable through the air at times, but it's also not out of the realm of possibility that Prescott turns it up a bit to prove he belongs as the starter. Dez Bryant is playing at full speed again, but he had just 1 catch for 19 yards against the Cleveland Browns last week. We've seen Bryant have these type of games before and a frustrated Bryant is capable of putting up some big numbers or self-imploding on the sidelines if pushed the wrong way. With a 50 point over under, this game has all the makings of a big shoot-out with guys like Prescott, Bryant and Ezekiel Elliott trying to outperform the trio of Big Ben, Antonio Brown and Le'Veon Bell.
Stefon Diggs WR MIN vs. Washington Redskins
The Vikings have dropped three straight and are in danger of falling out of first place in the NFC North. This week they travel to Washington, where they are a 2.5 point underdog with an implied team total of less than 20 points. Yet their top receiver right now is Stefon Diggs, and he's about the only bright spot on a struggling offense right now. Diggs went to school at the University of Maryland, and this is the first time he's playing back 'at home' since he was drafted two years ago. Diggs has admitted he's not thinking about it much, but it he is 'excited' to be playing in front of his mom and the home crowd.
Los Angeles Rams at New York Jets
Not exactly a revenge game, but the Rams travel west coast to east cost to play in a 1:00 PM ET game against a stingy Jet defense. The Jets currently rank 4th in the league allowing just 81 rushing yards per game and only 6 TDs for the year. The Rams are ranked 8th in total defensive yards allowed, giving up just 330 yards per game total. This is slated to be the lowest scoring game of the week, with the Jets being just a slight home favorite. The West to East thing can have an impact though, so you might consider Matt Forte or Brandon Marshall in a GPP, especially in a full PPR format.
Jay Cutler QB CHI at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Ok, so you probably didn't expect to see Jay Cutler on the value charts this week either, but with a full week of rest and a weak Tampa Bay defense, there is a good chance that Cutler exceeds his cash-game value this week on many major sites. His day in Chicago are numbered, and Cutler is certainly motivated to perform, given he's probably building his audition tape for some other team for the 2017 season. The narrative gets a little interesting because of this week's presidential election. Whatever your political affiliations are, you can safely say that this was a charged election. In a locker room though, where guys need to be able to count on each other, you typically don't see these type of divisions. Does it surprise you that Cutler would be in the middle of a controversy though? Ok, controversy is probably a strong word, and maybe the media is making more out of it than there is, but given how charged the country is about this issue, having 1 more thing to be angry at Jay Cutler about is probably not a good thing.
Matt Ryan QB ATL at Philadelphia Eagles
There isn't a specific rivalry between Matt Ryan and the Eagles, but there is a little #NarrativeStreet when it comes to this game. Ryan was born and raised in Exton Pennsylvania, about 30 miles west of Philadelphia. He grew up there and will have plenty of family and friends at the game cheering him on. Ryan will also be looking to show up young Carson Wentz, who started off like gangbusters this season, but has struggled in closing out games as of late. Ryan and the Falcons are currently a 2 point favorite over the Eagles, in a game that many expect to be a 50 point shoot-out.
Good luck this weekend!