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 Cleveland Browns
The #NarrativeStreet doesn’t get any better than Tom Brady returning from a four game suspension. More than a season removed from the original ‘Deflategate’ controversy. If Brady had a chip on his shoulder at the beginning of last season, can you imagine how big it is this year? And the schedule makers gave him a gift: the winless Cleveland Browns. The Patriots are favored by more than 10 points, and their Vegas line and Over/Under has them projected to score more than 28 points this week. Now pour gasoline on the fire with an embarrassing shut-out to the Buffalo Bills last week. Would it surprise anyone if he put up 40 or more? With Rob Gronkowski ‘not himself’ due to a hamstring issue, look to Martellus Bennett and Julian Edelman to be the ones who benefit. Both have more than 15 receptions each, with the next closest pass catcher having just 9 (Danny Amendola). You can also expect a heavy dose of LeGarrette Blount as the Browns gave up 117 rushing yards to Washington’s Matt Jones just last week. On the Cleveland side of the ball, Terrelle Pryor should see double-digit targets and plenty of touches as he is clearly the only real thrust on this offense. The Patriots are ranked near the middle of the league on defense, so if they get out to a big lead, Pryor could see plenty of garbage-time stats. Gary Barnidge has seen his reception total climb to from zero week 1 to seven last week. He continues to be a safety valve for Cody Kessler, and Barnidge could see some garbage time catches as well.
New York Giants at Green Bay Packers
The Schedule makers must be mad at the Giants. They faced a tough Minnesota defense on the road on Monday night, and then have to travel to Green Bay this week after a short week of practice. To add salt to the wound, the Packers are coming off a bye week, and need a win to keep pace with the Vikings. Aaron Rodgers has just 418 yards passing over his last two games, but he had four passing TDs against the Lions two weeks ago, and chipped in a rushing TD against the Vikings in week 2. The Packers are a heavy favorite this week, with a projected score of almost 28 points. The Giants are allowing just 262 passing yards a game, but they are also the only team in the league without an interception. Jordy Nelson has 4 TDs in just three games, including 2 against the Lions before the bye week. He’s averaging 9 receptions a game, and he’s clearly resumed his place as the Packers #1 receiver. The Giants gave up two rushing TDs last week as well to the Vikings, which means Eddie Lacy might actually be able to make it into the end zone for the first time this season. Richard Rodgers has been a surprise at TE, given that Jared Cook is still several weeks away from returning from his ankle injury. On the New York side of the ball, Eli Manning is coming off a 260 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT performance against the Vikings last Monday. People will be fading him this week and that’s a mistake since the Packers are giving up over 300 yards per game through the air. Odell Beckham Jr Jr. has been frustrated as of late, but he’ll likely face a soft Green Bay secondary that will be without star CB Sam Shields. Let’s not forget that Marvin Jones Jr lit up the Packers for over 200 yards receiving and a pair of TDs just before their bye week. The Giants are banged up at running back, meaning if they are going to stay competitive, they will need to throw. This could become a shoot-out with both teams scoring three or four times.
Chicago Bears at Indianapolis Colts
If your first thought when you saw that headline was ‘Hey, didn’t the Colts play in London last week?’, then you see where we are going with this. The Colts did not want their bye week so early in the season, so they petitioned the league to move it back. Instead of getting a long week off, the Colts will get a home game against the Chicago Bears. Looking back, they might have gotten lucky because the Bears are completely banged up on offense and are really in no position to take advantage of a weak Indy defense that may struggle a bit due to jet lag. Jay Cutler is still hurt, which means Brian Hoyer will be under center again. Hoyer has had two consecutive 300 yard, 2 TD passing games, and he hasn’t thrown an interception in 97 attempts. But when it comes to pass catchers, that’s where the wheels fall off the wagon. Second year man Kevin White was placed on injured reserve this week and his season might be done. Eddie Royal was a big part of Chicago’s win against Detroit last week, but he’s been held out of practice with a calf injury. Zach Miller has a rib injury and he has been limited in practice as well. That basically leaves Alshon Jeffery as the main focus of the passing game. Jordan Howard’s role in the offense might increase even more than the 26 touches for 130 yards he had last week. Howard looks like the play this week for the Bears. On the Indianapolis side, Andrew Luck might be the play here. In two games at home, Luck has had 700 yards passing and 5 TDS against just 1 int. He faces a Chicago defense that is banged up and struggling as well. T.Y. Hilton is clearly the top receiver from the Colts this season, and if Luck goes off on the Bears this week, Hilton’s going to benefit. Dwayne Allen and Jack Doyle are not exactly the dynamic duo, but they get enough red-zone targets to make them a consideration as well. Frank Gore might be the smartest play with his 4.0 YPC and his 5.1 YPR. None of these guys will break the bank for you yet the right combo could pay off big dividends in GPP format.
Tennessee Titans at Miami Dolphins. This article will publish on Friday and the biggest story for the Dolphins is that Hurricane Mathew missed the Miami area directly, but is still dumping a ton of bad weather on Florida. Depending on how things progress through the weekend, this game could be moved to an alternate site, or played in some brutal conditions. This wasn’t going to be a barn burner before the weather was a factor, but in wet, sloppy conditions, it’s a safe bet to focus on the running backs in this contest. For Tennessee it’s DeMarco Murray who had 2 rushing TDs last week against the Texans and Kenyan Drake or Jay Ajayi. The Miami rushing attack is a mess, so the safe bet may be to fade them entirely.
Derek Anderson or Cam Newton vs. Tampa Bay (Monday Night). It’s still unclear who will start at QB for the Panthers this week with Cam Newton leaving last Sunday’s game with a concussion. The Bucs have allowed two or more passing TDs in every game this season, including one each to Trevor Simian and Paxton Lynch last week. If Newton can’t go, it’s quite possible that Derek Anderson locks into Kelvin Benjamin or Greg Olsen and just rides them the whole night. Keep an eye on this as the game gets closer to see who comes out as the starting QB.
Steve Smith WR BAL vs. Josh Norman DB WAS. It’s not as if these guys need any motivation to play harder, but Smith and Norman were teammates when Norman came into the league back in 2012-13. They often battled in practice and had a mutual respect for each other, pushing themselves to be the very best. Smith is approaching the end of his career, but he’s still one of the toughest competitors in the league. You can bet he’ll bring his very best to match up against Norman one more time, if only to prove that younger doesn’t mean better.
Robert Woods WR BUF at Los Angeles Rams. With Sammy Watkins on injured reserve for his injured foot, it appears that Robert Woods has stepped into the ‘go to’ receiver spot for the Bills. He had 10 targets, 7 receptions and 89 receiving yards last week against the Patriots. This week Woods and the Bills travel to Los Angeles to face the Rams in a homecoming of sorts for Woods. He was a stand-out WR for USC from 2010 – 2012, and he’ll be playing in front of his old home crowd again this weekend. Expect there to be as many cheers for Woods as there are for the Rams this weekend, and you can look to Woods to be a guy with some decent upside potential.