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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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(43.5) Los Angeles Chargers (23.5) @ Kansas City Chiefs (20)

Quick-Hitter Game Summary:

  • The Chiefs, with the number-one seed and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs already secured, will start Chad Henne at quarterback, giving Patrick Mahomes an extra week of rest. This makes the Chiefs’ primary weapons nearly unplayable this weekend.
  • Wide receiver Keenan Allen was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list, and is out for this matchup. Tight end Hunter Henry is out as well.
  • With the loss of Allen, quarterback Justin Herbert becomes more of a boom/bust option for fantasy gamers this weekend, his projection still outpaces his salary-based expectations.
  • Tyron Johnson, at only $4,000 should have a full-time role in the Chargers’ offense Sunday, and has a chance to completely smash salary-based expectations.
  • Austin Ekeler‘s median projection is right in line with his fifth-highest running back salary, and the Chiefs defense ranks bottom-10 against opposing running backs over the last five weeks.

Data Deep-Dive:

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

NFL DFS Upside Analysis:

Significant takeaways: A fantastic rematch between Justin Herbert and Patrick Mahomes has been ruined due to the Chiefs (very understandably) resting their star signal-caller. Don’t expect the Chiefs to maintain their typical pass-oriented nature of fast-paced approach with Chad Henne at the helm. This game could wind-up having the feeling of a preseason contest.

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.

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

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: Though the data below indicates a solid matchup for the Kansas City receivers and a great matchup for Travis Kelce, fantasy gamers know better than to take those numbers at face-value. Though both Hill and Kelce will get their looks, their upside is extremely limited. For the Chargers, only Justin Herbert stands out as a priority play based on the data below.

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Los Angeles Chargers NFL DFS Core Offenses
Team Player Positional Salary Rank FPTs/Gm Rank Expected FPTs/Gm Rank Defense vs. Position Expected Projection
LAC Justin Herbert, QB #8 #10 #5 #25 22 Fpts (QB4)
LAC Austin Ekeler, RB #5 #12 #8 #20 18.5 Fpts (RB8)
LAC Mike Williams, WR #38 #69 #62 #8 7 Fpts (WR68)
LAC Tyron Johnson, WR #58 #46 #69 #21 6.5 Fpts (WR71)
LAC Jalen Guyton, WR #73 #90 #90 #8 5.5 Fpts (WR80)
Kansas City Chiefs NFL DFS Core Offenses
Team Player Positional Salary Rank FPTs/Gm Rank Expected FPTs/Gm Rank Defense vs. Position Expected Projection
KC Chad Henne, QB #22 n/a n/a n/a n/a
KC Darrel Williams, RB #35 #62 #64 #11 4 Fpts (RB57)
KC Mecole Hardman, WR #48 #90 #83 #10 5 Fpts (WR85)
KC Travis Kelce, TE #1 #1 #1 #17 25 Fpts (TE1)
KC Tyreek Hill, WR #3 #2 #1 #16 27 Fpts (WR1)

NFL DFS Skill Position Values: Expected Points

Significant takeaway: The Chargers are missing a vast majority of their receiving corps, and the Chiefs are missing the primary engine of their passing game. Only Austin Ekeler looks appealing as a mid-tier running back option, based on the data below.

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.

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: Donald Parham should see full-time snaps at tight end with Hunter Henry out of the lineup, and the Chiefs rank 30th against opposing tight ends over the last five weeks. Besides Parham however, the only auxiliary option from either team worth considering is backup running back Kalen Ballage, who has averaged more expected fantasy points per game than any Chiefs’ running back over the last five weeks.

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Los Angeles Chargers NFL DFS Tournament Picks
Team Player Snap Share Opportunity Score Defense vs. Position Outlook: Value, MME-only, Look Elsewhere
LAC Donald Parham, TE 26% 22 #30 Value
LAC Kalen Ballage, RB 45% 83 #20 MME-only
LAC Stephen Anderson, TE 11% 27 #30 Look Elsewhere
LAC Joshua Kelley, RB 22% 49 #20 Look Elsewhere
LAC K.J. Hill, WR 8% n/a #8 Look Elsewhere
Kansas City Chiefs NFL DFS Tournament Picks
Team Player Snap Share Opportunity Score Defense vs. Position Outlook: Value, MME-only, Look Elsewhere
KC Le’Veon Bell, RB 31% 28 #11 Look Elsewhere
KC Demarcus Robinson, WR 65% 32 #16 Look Elsewhere
KC Sammy Watkins, WR 79% 42 #16 Look Elsewhere
KC Deon Yelder, TE 17% 0 #17 Look Elsewhere
KC Byron Pringle, WR 24% 35 #16 Look Elsewhere
KC Nick Keizer, TE 26% 14 #17 Look Elsewhere

Prediction: Chargers 23, Chiefs 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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