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Week 17 NFL DFS + Fantasy Football Matchups Breakdown Column With Matt Savoca

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Philip Rivers said that he has not 'completely ruled out' returning to the NFL if someone comes calling and the Colts could really us a quarterback...

Matt Savoca’s Daily Fantasy Football Matchups Column returns for Week 17 of the NFL DFS season. In it, he goes through every single game on the Sunday main slate to guide you to the best plays for your season-long fantasy football lineups on Yahoo, ESPN and CBS; and your NFL DFS picks on DraftKings and FanDuel. There are 15 games on tap for Week 17, so let’s dive into the action.

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Table of Contents

Week 17 NFL DFS Matchups Breakdown

Daily Fantasy Football Matchups: Early Games

Jacksonville Jaguars at Indianapolis Colts

Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals

Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns

Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants

Atlanta Falcons at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions

Miami Dolphins at Buffalo Bills

New York Jets at New England Patriots

Daily Fantasy Football Matchups: Afternoon Games

Arizona Cardinals at Los Angeles Rams

Las Vegas Raiders at Denver Broncos

Los Angeles Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs

Seattle Seahawks at San Francisco 49ers

Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears

New Orleans Saints at Carolina Panthers

Tennessee Titans at Houston Texans


(50) Jacksonville Jaguars (18) @ Indianapolis Colts (32)

Quick-Hitter Game Summary:

  • Indianapolis should control the game defensively, as the Colts rank 10th in the NFL in defensive per-drive efficiency and third in per-play defensive efficiency over the last eight weeks. The Jaguars offense ranks 28th in offensive per-drive efficiency and 30th in per-play efficiency during that same span. The Colts’ defense is a top-notch play in daily fantasy football lineups this weekend.
  • When comparing PFF player grades from the Colts and Jaguars, Indianapolis has the highest net overall grade advantage of any team on the slate. Indianapolis has no excuse but to dominate on both sides of the ball.
  • Don’t rule out the Colts running up the score in this contest. Philip Rivers ranks 18th in fantasy points per game, but his advanced metrics over the last eight weeks put him in the top-10 quarterbacks in the NFL. The Jaguars rank 29th in schedule-adjusted fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks, and not surprisingly, the Awesemo projections are extremely bullish on Rivers.
  • In fact, compared to salary-based expectations, essentially all skill players in the Indianapolis offense look like value-plays for daily fantasy football lineups and should be on fantasy-gamers’ radars against an absolutely abysmal Jacksonville defense. Running back Jonathan Taylor is projected as a top-5 back on the slate, despite the Colts coming into the game depleted at the tackle position.
  • With Jaguars’ running back James Robinson slated to miss his second straight game, Dare Ogunbowale becomes a quality mid-tier running back at $4,000 on DraftKings, but don’t expect a monster performance. He’s a salary-saver floor-play, at best. Devine Ozigbo will be worked in, as well.
  • In the Jaguars’ passing game, wide receiver Laviska Shenault looks like the best value among the receivers at $3,700 on DraftKings, despite the Colts ranking top-10 in schedule-adjusted fantasy points allowed to secondary wide receivers.

Data Deep-Dive:

All Graphs Reflect Last Five Weeks of Data, Click Graphs to Enlarge

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NFL DFS Upside Analysis:

Significant takeaways: The Colts have a chance to score 35-plus points in this spot, since they’ve been running a surprisingly up-tempo, pass-oriented offense. Philip Rivers ranks well above-average in early-down pass rate and air yards per second in neutral situations. The Jaguars will likely be running out the clock in this matchup, don’t expect any offensive progressivism from Jacksonville in this spot.

If the Jaguars were interested in winning, they’d start Gardner Minshew at quarterback. He hasn’t been spectacular, but has been the best quarterback for Jacksonville by a wide margin this season. But that’s not the Jaguars’ interest this week. Especially in a season that lacked preseason games, the Jaguars’ primary objective is to evaluate the talent on their roster, beginning with an extra-start for the backup signal-caller.

Passing and Pace

Why look at passing at pace? Teams that play faster and pass more than average tend to score more fantasy points. When both teams play aggressively, it often creates a game environment perfect for fantasy scoring. Games have a higher probability of going over their Vegas total as well. Ideally, we’re seeking matchups where both teams are in the upper-right quadrant of the chart below (see the chart’s caption for more details).

The X-axis is Early-Down Air Yards divided by team game-script-adjusted plays per second (using Awesemo’s Game-Adjusted Pace from the Advanced Stats Page). The Y-axis is True Neutral Early-Down Pass Rate, a key indicator of a team’s desire to have a pass-oriented game script. The matchup-specific teams’ logos are displayed amongst all other teams in order to contextualize team pace and passing versus league averages (the dotted lines on the chart).

Quarterback Efficiency

Why examine quarterback efficiency? Sustained drives in the NFL rely on efficiency at the quarterback position, so I’ve identified my three favorite performance indicators for assessing quarterback performance. The three bar charts below (see the graph’s caption for more detail) represent a quarterback’s per-drive efficiency (left bar-chart), per-play efficiency including rushes/scrambles (center) and per-pass efficiency (right). Higher rankings from both players indicate a higher likelihood of efficient play, thus a higher probability of fantasy points.

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The three columns represent my three primary performance indicators for quarterbacks. Furthest left (tDSR) is True Drive Success Rate, a drive-based efficiency metric that measures a quarterback’s ability to turn drives into touchdowns, regressed based on sample size. The middle column, Expected Points Added (EPA), is a measure of per-play efficiency and includes scrambles and designed runs. Finally, on the right is per-pass efficiency, Completion Percentage Over Expectation (CPOE) based on the publicly available completion percentage model included in the NFLFastR package.

NFL DFS Player Pool Picker

Significant takeaway: Every single offensive player on the Colts is a value compared to salary-based expectations. Take advantage of this team in a must-win situation playing the worst defense in the AFC. Stacks with Philip Rivers and one or more of T.Y. Hilton, Michael Pittman, or even Nyheim Hines are completely viable in tournaments. The most exciting run-back options are, by far, D.J. Chark and Laviska Shenault, with Shenault being particularly intriguing due to his sub-$4,000 salary on DraftKings. (Update: Chark has been ruled out).

Jacksonville Jaguars NFL DFS Core Offenses
Team Player Positional Salary Rank FPTs/Gm Rank Expected FPTs/Gm Rank Defense vs. Position Expected Projection
JAX Mike Glennon, QB #27 #26 #19 #17 13.5 Fpts (QB23)
JAX Dare Ogunbowale, RB #41 #77 #73 #28 2.5 Fpts (RB69)
JAX Laviska Shenault Jr., WR #48 #41 #48 #25 9.5 Fpts (WR48)
JAX DJ Chark Jr., WR #43 #44 #36 #31 12 Fpts (WR34)
Indianapolis Colts NFL DFS Core Offenses
Team Player Positional Salary Rank FPTs/Gm Rank Expected FPTs/Gm Rank Defense vs. Position Expected Projection
IND Philip Rivers, QB #11 #18 #20 #25 18 Fpts (QB12)
IND Jacoby Brissett, QB #31 #28 #30 #25 2 Fpts (QB28)
IND Jonathan Taylor, RB #6 #6 #6 #27 20.5 Fpts (RB5)
IND T.Y. Hilton, WR #21 #11 #20 #29 16 Fpts (WR11)
IND Nyheim Hines, RB #32 #15 #19 #27 14.5 Fpts (RB12)

NFL DFS Skill Position Values: Expected Points

Significant takeaway: Jonathan Taylor is wildly outperforming expectations over the second half of the season, and might have his juiciest matchup yet, but don’t forget about Nyheim Hines, who remains wildly underrated based on the quality of his opportunities. He’s a fantastic tournament option as the 32nd-highest salary running back on the main slate. Don’t expect a James Robinson-esque workload for Dare Ogunbowale, but he’s still a running back starter with a $4,000 salary, and there’s always some appeal in that. T.Y. Hilton has the most upside among any of the players in either passing attack, but don’t rule out a big game from DJ Chark, who has consistently commanded 20% or more the Jaguars’ passing attack, underwhelming as it may be. Chark has remained the clear number-one option over the last five weeks, with Keelan Cole and Laviska Shenault ranking below Chark in terms of opportunity upside.

Why examine expected fantasy points? By assigning a value to each play (based on score, down, distance to the goal line, distance to first down, play type, etc.), we can measure not just a player’s workload, but the expected value of that workload using recent league history as a guide. Expected fantasy points should be considered a volume metric. If a player scores more fantasy points (represented by the dots in the bar chart below) than expected, that means the player is either talented or lucky (or both) and may have unsustainable fantasy production based on their usage.

Week 17 NFL DFS Picks for daily fantasy football lineups on DraftKings and FanDuel based on expert analysis and projections

This chart measures Expected Fantasy Points (DraftKings scoring) per Game, indicated by each player’s bar, as well as fantasy points per game, indicated by the dot. If a dot is outside the bar, that means the player is performing above expectation. If the dot is within the bar, that means the player is performing below expectation. It includes injured players in order to help contextualize players who might be receiving a smaller or larger workload based on personnel shifts.

 

This chart measures Expected Fantasy Points (DraftKings scoring) per Game, indicated by each player’s bar, as well as fantasy points per game, indicated by the dot. If a dot is outside the bar, that means the player is performing above expectation. If the dot is within the bar, that means the player is performing below expectation. It includes injured players in order to help contextualize players who might be receiving a smaller or larger workload based on personnel shifts.

NFL DFS Auxiliary Offensive Players for Large-Field Contests

Significant takeaway: Trey Burton and Jack Doyle are decent tight end punt-plays, but the Jaguars have been relatively solid against tight ends compared to their terrible track record against wideouts. Don’t expect either player to have a full-time role, as neither Burton nor Doyle has averaged more than a 52% snap share over the team’s last five games. Tyler Eifert, though playing a full-time role on the Jaguars offense, is about as unexciting as it gets at the tight end position.

Jacksonville Jaguars NFL DFS Tournament Picks
Team Player Snap Share Opportunity Score Defense vs. Position Outlook: Value, MME-only, Look Elsewhere
JAX Keelan Cole, WR 79% 54 #23
JAX Tyler Eifert, TE 59% 74 #10
JAX Chris Conley, WR 47% 47 #23
JAX Devine Ozigbo, RB 7% 54 #28
JAX James O’Shaughnessy, TE 43% 63 #10
Indianapolis Colts NFL DFS Tournament Picks
Team Player Snap Share Opportunity Score Defense vs. Position Outlook: Value, MME-only, Look Elsewhere
IND Michael Pittman, WR 83% 56 #12
IND Zach Pascal, WR 72% 43 #17
IND Trey Burton, TE 40% 77 #21
IND Jack Doyle, TE 52% 31 #21
IND DeMichael Harris, WR #17
IND Mo Alie-Cox, TE 50% 60 #21
IND Jordan Wilkins, RB 17% 29 #27

Final Thoughts

Considering the fact that the Colts losing means they might be on the outside-looking-in when the playoffs begin next week, expect the Colts to come out firing on all cylinders, and for the Jaguars to treat this one as a de facto preseason game, unless they find themselves unexpectedly contending in the second half. The most obvious bets are Philip Rivers and Jonathan Taylor, but don’t forget about Nyheim Hines, who could have an extended role if this game gets out of hand quickly.

Prediction: Colts 34, Jaguars 17


Looking for more NFL DFS picks and daily fantasy football matchups content? We have loads of articles, data and more on the Awesemo NFL home page. Just click HERE.

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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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