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Week 14 NFL Sunday Instant Reactions & Week 15 Betting Lines Preview

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Welcome to the Week 14 edition of the Instant Reactions and Betting Lines Look Ahead column of the 2021 NFL season. The column will break down key stats and observations from around the NFL and provide tips for NFL DFS players and bettors looking to get an early jump on next week’s betting lines. Let us dive into the all the NFL DFS tips insights.

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Week 14 NFL DFS Sunday Reactions & Week 15 Betting Lines

Kamara Led the League in Opportunities

With Zach Wilson and the Jets’ offense unable to get anything going at all, and the Saints sitting at an 80% win probability at halftime, New Orleans spent most of Week 14’s second half using Kamara, who returned from injury this week, to run out the clock. Kamara earned a whopping 51.6% of team opportunities and was the only player on Sunday who saw half of his team’s total touches. Kamara finished with a whopping 32 total opportunities. In fact, the Saints dialed up a play for Kamara (a target or carry) or a run for Taysom Hill on 70% of the team’s plays. Unfortunately, that game script likely will not be possible next weekend when the Saints head to Tampa Bay to take on the first-place Buccaneers. As 11.5-point underdogs, look for New Orleans to do its best in the early-going to try and use Hill and Kamara in the rushing attack as a means of keeping Tom Brady and company off the field. As outstanding as Kamara is, at some point the team will need to make plays downfield. The Jets did not come close to forcing-that upon the Saints on Sunday.

Godwin and Kittle Tied for the League Lead in Targets

Tom Brady and Chris Godwin may not have connected for a touchdown in either of the past two weeks, but they sure seem to be on the same page everywhere except the end zone. Godwin earned 15 targets this week against the Bills, after his 17 looks a week ago also led the league. Godwin was the only player on the Buccaneers with a double-digit target share, and his three looks inside the 20 suggest the positive touchdown regression is almost certainly coming. Someone experiencing his own positive touchdown regression is George Kittle, who also saw 15 targets. Kittle notoriously has been kept out of the end zone for much of his career, scoring just five career touchdowns heading into 2021, but now has scored six times in his last six games. He is tied for the league-lead in yards after catch during that span. Godwin ranks fifth in that same stat. Both players find themselves, once again in expected positive game scripts, as the 49ers open the week as eight-point favorites against the 6-7

Lockett Lapped the Field in Air Yards

Tyler Lockett’s 234 air yards were nearly 25% more than any other player earned this Sunday. Russell Wilson continued to look sharper as a passer, another week removed from finger surgery, and connected with Lockett on multiple deep passes, including a long touchdown strike in the first half. After seeing just 10 looks between weeks 11 and 12, Lockett has nearly doubled his targets over the past two games. He is scored double-digit fantasy points in four straight games. And while his production has come at the expense of fellow wide receiver D.K. Metcalf, it is looking more likely that it will be possible for Wilson to support one, if not both, primary pass-catchers when he turns in a ceiling performance. While a Metcalf-game is always possible, do not expect Jalen Ramsey to shadow Lockett for the entirety of next week’s game. Despite Seattle opening up the week as nearly touchdown underdogs against the Rams, expect Wilson and Lockett to continue to take shots. They just need to connect on one or two to completely change the game script for both teams next weekend.

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Penny Was Top Five in Total Yards

Rashaad Penny finally had the type of performance the Seahawks dreamed about when they took Penny in the first round of the 2018 NFL draft. Hampered by injuries for the majority of his rookie contract, 2021 included, Penny finally had his day, earning 64% of the Seahawks’ running back rush attempts. Penny averaged a blisteringly high 8.6 yards per carry, aided by multiple long-touchdown runs. Also encouraging was his usage near the goal line, as Peny saw two-thirds of the team’s rushes inside the Texans’ 20-yard line. In playoff-mode for the remainder of the season, the Seahawks will head to Los Angeles to take on the Rams and are early 6.5-point underdogs with only 18.5 implied points, which means the Penny and the Seahawks likely will not find themselves in the same positive game script they found themselves in for much of Week 14 against the Texans. With Wilson flashing his quintessential big-play ability through the air, however, this game will likely be closer, and higher-scoring than the Vegas-total currently suggests.

Hunter Renfrow Led All Wide Receivers in Opportunity Share

With Darren Waller sidelined once again, Derek Carr leaned on Hunter Renfrow in the passing game, allowing Renfrow to soak up over 32% of the Raiders’ targets in Week 14. In comeback mode for the entirety of the afternoon, the Raiders essentially abandoned the running game, and as such Renfrow’s 25% of team opportunities ranked first at his position this weekend. Since Week 12, Renfrow is leading the NFL in receptions, averaging 10 catches per game over the last three weeks. His 13 catches this week were a career high. The Raiders head east to Cleveland next week and are 6.5-point underdogs in one of the lowest-total games on the slate. While that appears to be a fair line, the Raiders’ pass-heavy offensive approach gives that game a bit more shootout potential than the Vegas-total indicate.

Wilson and Lawrence Had Historically Bad Games

Number two overall pick Zach Wilson was atrocious against the Saints, completing just 19 of his 43 pass attempts for a paltry 202 yards. Not to be outdone, the Jaguars’ Trevor Lawrence threw 40 times against the Tennessee Titans on Sunday and saw a whopping 10% of those passes land in the hands of his opponents, by far the highest interception rate of any starting quarterback this week. Lawrence has had an abysmal rookie season, floundering under head coach Urban Meyer all year, and now ranks outside the top-30 signal-callers in adjusted yards per attempt and Total QBR. Lawrence and Wilson were the only two quarterbacks to start and finish week 14 with a total expected points added below -10, meaning that they are play, on average, would result in their opponent scoring 10 points more than expected, due to both players’ immense turnover probability.

Brady the Only Quarterback with More Than 350 Yards Passing

Sure, Breshad Perriman’s game-winning play in overtime helped his cause, but Brady still hit a yardage threshold that no other signal-caller managed to hit this weekend against the Bills’ elite secondary. Brady’s 363 yards was just five-less than he threw for against the Falcons in Week 13, and this week he did it while averaging a sold 7.9 yards per attempt. Brady ranked fourth among all quarterbacks on the main slate total expected points added and did not throw a single interception while maintaining an aggressive, pass-first offense throughout. The Buccaneers are once again favorites to win the NFC and are 11.5-point favorites at home against the Saints in Week 15. Against New Orleans’ stout defensive line, Brady could spend a majority of the day passing, looking to make up for his worst performance of 2021 the last time these two teams met.

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A middling athlete who was offered his first sports analytics position at age 14, I've been working on NFL and fantasy football data science since 2017. With a particular passion for data visualization and dashboard building, I love to make data accessible by using graphs and charts to communicate ideas that are difficult to explain with words alone. You can contact me by e-mailing [email protected]

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