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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...

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(50.5) Las Vegas Raiders (26.5) @ Denver Broncos (24)

Quick-Hitter Game Summary:

  • This is one of the few games on the slate with no playoff implications. It’s possible there’s a “preseason” feel to this game, as both teams aim to evaluate the talent on their rosters heading into the offseason.
  • The trio of Derek Carr, Darren Waller, and Josh Jacobs all have projections in line with salary-based expectations. Waller is the highest-floor tight end on the slate, but the Broncos rank in the top-10 against opposing tight ends over the last five weeks.
  • With Philip Lindsay on injured reserve, Melvin Gordon is an excellent value at $5,700, 23rd amongst active running backs. The Raiders rank bottom-3 against opposing running backs over the last five weeks.
  • In large-field tournaments, stacks with Drew Lock and one of his three primary receivers (Noah Fant, Jerry Jeudy or Tim Patrick) are absolutely viable. Though the Raiders aren’t quite as horrific against opposing passing attacks as they are against the run, but they’re also no better than league average.

Data Deep-Dive:

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

NFL DFS Upside Analysis:

Significant takeaways: While neither quarterback has played efficiently over the past five weeks, the Raiders have played at a fast pace at times this season, and rank above-average in game-adjusted pace of play. The Broncos are one of the most run-heavy teams in the NFL, and shouldn’t have any trouble sticking to that plan against the Raiders’ abysmal run defense.

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.

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).

NFL DFS Player Pool Picker

Significant takeaway: Darren Waller and Melvin Gordon are heads and shoulders above all other skill-position players in terms of expected usage, and both look like tremendous values for fantasy gamers this weekend. Josh Jacobs‘ matchup against the Broncos’ mid-tier rush defense isn’t as juicy as Gordon’s but Jacobs’ projection still outpaces his RB13 salary.

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Las Vegas Raiders NFL DFS Core Offenses
Team Player Positional Salary Rank FPTs/Gm Rank Expected FPTs/Gm Rank Defense vs. Position Expected Projection
LV Derek Carr, QB #14 #16 #17 #18 17.5 Fpts (QB14)
LV Darren Waller, TE #2 #2 #2 #20 18 Fpts (TE2)
LV Josh Jacobs, RB #13 #15 #13 #21 15 Fpts (RB11)
LV Nelson Agholor, WR #30 #26 #25 #11 13 Fpts (WR28)
LV Hunter Renfrow, WR #60 #64 #69 #18 7.5 Fpts (WR63)
Denver Broncos NFL DFS Core Offenses
Team Player Positional Salary Rank FPTs/Gm Rank Expected FPTs/Gm Rank Defense vs. Position Expected Projection
DEN Drew Lock, QB #25 #15 #11 #27 19.5 Fpts (QB8)
DEN Melvin Gordon III, RB #23 #14 #25 #31 15.5 Fpts (RB10)
DEN Jerry Jeudy, WR #48 #92 #59 #14 8 Fpts (WR58)
DEN Noah Fant, TE #9 #16 #17 #11 7.5 Fpts (TE16)
DEN Tim Patrick, WR #58 #36 #44 #10 10 Fpts (WR45)

NFL DFS Skill Position Values: Expected Points

Significant takeaway: Both charts below help illuminate the significant difference in volume that the Raider’s primary offensive weapons receive compared to the Broncos. Darren Waller, Josh Jacobs and Nelson Agholor all average more expected fantasy points per game than the highest-ranked Broncos player.  Jerry Jeudy stands out, but not for good reason: he’s drastically underperforming expectations over his last five games.

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:

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Las Vegas Raiders NFL DFS Tournament Picks
Team Player Snap Share Opportunity Score Defense vs. Position Outlook: Value, MME-only, Look Elsewhere
LV Henry Ruggs III, WR 68% 45 #4 MME-only
LV Devontae Booker, RB 29% 30 #21 Look Elsewhere
LV Jalen Richard, RB 21% 38 #21 Look Elsewhere
LV Alec Ingold, RB 22% 2 #21 Look Elsewhere
LV Jason Witten, TE 39% 8 #20 Look Elsewhere
LV Bryan Edwards, WR 23% 8 #4 Look Elsewhere
LV Zay Jones, WR 22% 0 #4 Look Elsewhere
LV Foster Moreau, TE 23% 47 #20 Look Elsewhere
Denver Broncos NFL DFS Tournament Picks
Team Player Snap Share Opportunity Score Defense vs. Position Outlook: Value, MME-only, Look Elsewhere
DEN KJ Hamler, WR (Q) 62% 62 #13 Look Elsewhere
DEN Royce Freeman, RB 12% 23 #31 Look Elsewhere
DEN Nick Vannett, TE 36% 46 #11 Look Elsewhere
DEN DaeSean Hamilton, WR 36% 33 #13 Look Elsewhere

Final Thoughts

This game has more appeal for fantasy gamers than first meets the eye. Especially on the Raiders’ side of the ball, the three primary weapons should all be viable options in any contest type, while the Broncos, likely forced to keep pace with Las Vegas, have decent upside as well. Melvin Gordon has an excellent chance at earning 20-plus touches and gaining 100 total yards, as well.

Prediction: Raiders 28, Broncos 27


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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