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Week 16 NFL Sunday Instant Reactions & Week 17 Betting Lines Preview

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Welcome to the Week 16 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 16 NFL DFS Sunday Reactions & Week 17 Betting Lines

Jefferson, Brown Had Over 50% of Their Teams’ Air Yards

Justin Jefferson caught eight of his 12 targets and scored over 22 DraftKings fantasy points, but arguably most impressive was the type of passes he was receiving from quarterback Kirk Cousins. With Adam Thielen back in the lineup (at least for part of the afternoon), Jefferson was unlocked as a deep threat and had an average depth of target of 13.0, seventh highest on the slate of all players targeted six or more times. Jefferson’s 156 air yards were the most earned by any player on the main slate. Not to be outdone, Antonio Brown stepped into a massive workload for the Buccaneers on Sunday, earning an even higher percentage of his team’s air yards than Jefferson. Brown’s 145 air yards on 15 targets, also highest on the main slate, accounted for a whopping 54% of his team’s total air yards. The two join Davante Adams and A.J. Brown in reaching the 50% threshold in air yards share this week. The Buccaneers have a dream matchup against the Jets, and open as 13-point favorites, a spread they will absolutely smash next Sunday, while Jefferson and the Vikings will have a tough matchup next week as seven-point road underdogs against the Packers.

Eight Receivers Saw a Dozen or More Targets

Cooper Kupp and Justin Jefferson’s heavy usage in the Rams – Vikings game was to be expected, but Stefon Diggs saw an impressive 13 targets, including five in the red zone, the most of any player on the main slate. Antonio Brown, mentioned above, was another obvious target hog headed into the weekend. But it was also great to see Marvin Jones targeted like a true number one wideout in the Jaguars’ loss to the Jets. Tee Higgins stole the show for the Bengals against the injury-depleted Ravens, catching 12 of his 13 targets for a league-high 194 yards receiving and two touchdowns. Surprisingly enough, Diggs was not the only Bills receiver to earn a massive target share, as Isaiah McKenzie, who has been used sparingly all season, suddenly earned 12 short-area targets from Josh Allen. The Bills are 14-point home favorites against the Falcons next weekend, but it is hard to see McKenzie earning that usage once again.

Beckham Led All WRs in End Zone Targets

Odell Beckham was targeted eight times last weekend, including three times in the end zone, ultimately converting one into his fourth touchdown in his first five games as a member of the Rams. Despite playing on the same team as Cooper Kupp, Beckham has become an absolutely vital member of the Los Angeles receiving corps due to the loss of receiver Robert Woods. Since joining the Rams, Beckham has seen 19% of the team’s targets and 28% of the team’s end-zone targets and been efficient on that increased usage. Beckham now ranks 14th among all wide receivers in fantasy points per game since getting traded. Beckham will have a plus-matchup next weekend, as the Rams open the week as three-point road favorites against the Ravens’ banged-up secondary that was just torched by Joe Burrow and company in Week 16.

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Michel, Jacobs Topped 30 Total Opportunities

Darrell Henderson went down with a knee injury on his first touch of the day, which paved the well for Sony Michel to once again take on a large majority of the backfield snaps for Los Angeles on Sunday against the Vikings. Michel earned 93% of the team’s running back carries, including 100% of the carries inside the 10. Meanwhile, Josh Jacobs was expected to be the feature back heading into Sunday, but with the score differential in Denver – Las Vegas matchup never exceeding a one-score game, Jacobs benefited from neutral and positive game scripts to ultimately earn 30 opportunities, the most he has seen all season. The Raiders, at 8-7, are in desperate need of two wins to close out the season, but they will have their work cut out for them next Sunday, as they travel to Indianapolis to take on the red-hot Colts, who have won three in a row, and eight of their last 10 games. The Raiders open as touchdown underdogs.

Penny Led All RBs in Yards Per Carry

The Seahawks lost in the last seconds to the Nick Foles-led Bears, officially eliminating them from playoff contention. And as the Russell Wilson trade rumors once again begin to pick up, at the very least, it appears Seattle may be more set at running back than they had originally anticipated heading into next season. Rashaad Penny, finally healthy, was excellent all game long for the Seahawks, earning 17 carries, 11 more than any other Seattle player, and rushed for an incredibly impressive 7.9 yards per carry, the most of any back with six or more carries this weekend. Penny also earned 100% of the team’s carries inside the 10, ultimately converting one into his third touchdown rushing in his last three games. Penny was arguably the most impressive rusher on a slate that featured four backs who earned 100-plus yards rushing on 18 or less carries. Penny continues to be an afterthought in the passing game, earning just one target in Seattle’s loss. Penny should smash once again next weekend as the Seahawks open the week as eight-point home favorites against the Lions.


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Andrews Logged Double-Digit Targets Again

The Ravens were a disaster defensively against the Bengals, and were absolutely roasted by both running back Joe Mixon and receiver Tee Higgins, who each went off for monster games, but in the comeback effort, third-string quarterback Josh Johnson threw for 304 yards on 37 attempts, and once again, Mark Andrews led the team in targets and air yards. Andrews has now seen eight or more targets in every game he has played since Week 9 and has not had a game without a red-zone target in 10 weeks. Andrews leads his position in air yards, deep targets, red-zone targets, and fantasy points per game this season, and with Lamar Jackson having a chance to play next weekend, we could see Andrews add to his lead over the tight end field in fantasy scoring when the Ravens host the Rams next Sunday. Right now, the Vegas total for that game sits at just 45.5, which is way too low for a game in which Jackson starts. It might be advantageous to place the over bet now, before it become clearer to the public that Jackson, or at worst Tyler Huntley, will be playing in a game with massive shootout potential.


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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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