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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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(46.5) Seattle Seahawks (25.75) @ San Francisco 49ers (20.75)

Quick-Hitter Game Summary:

  • Seattle has an outside chance of nabbing the top seed in the NFC, needing a win and losses by both the Saints and Packers to secure home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
  • George Kittle is, by far, the best tight end play on the slate. It’s that simple. The Seahawks defense has made strides over the past few weeks, but they’re still bottom-5 in the NFL against opposing tight ends.
  • Despite falling off a cliff from an efficiency standpoint, especially compared to his red-hot start to the season, Russell Wilson still ranks 12th in fantasy points per game and eighth in expected fantasy points per game.
  • All three of the Seahawks primary skill-position weapons, Chris Carson, DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, all have projections that outpace their salary-based expectations. The Seahawks are eighth in top-stack probability this Sunday.
  • The much-improved Seahawks defense is absolutely viable against third-string quarterback CJ Beathard, but Beathard has been far from incompetent since taking over for an injured Nick Mullens, ranking above league-average in per-play and per-drive efficiency.
  • With Brandon Aiyuk out for Sunday’s game, Richie James should be the primary wide receiver (and secondary pass-catcher, behind George Kittle) for San Francisco, and has a great chance to outperform his $3,100 salary on DraftKings.

Data Deep-Dive:

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

NFL DFS Upside Analysis:

Significant takeaways: Seattle continues to play at a relatively neutral pace, but Russell Wilson continues to throw much more, and take more deep attempts than league-average, as they have throughout the 2020 season. The 49ers, as expected, continue to rely on their rushing attack, limiting their offenses’ upside. They rank 30th in game-adjusted pace of play. It also appears that on per-drive and per-play basis, CJ Beathard has been every bit as efficient as Russell Wilson over the past five weeks, which is as much a compliment of Beathard as it is an indictment of Wilson.

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: Based on the chart below, none of the Seahawks’ primary weapons look like priority plays this weekend, and DK Metcalf’s matchup looks particularly tough. Over the past five weeks, no team has been a tougher matchup for primary wideouts than the 49ers. Besides George Kittle, who could easily see a dozen targets in this game, running back Jeff Wilson looks like a viable option in both cash games and tournaments this weekend. The Seahawks defense ranks 19th against opposing running backs over the past five weeks.

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Seattle Seahawks NFL DFS Core Offenses
Team Player Positional Salary Rank FPTs/Gm Rank Expected FPTs/Gm Rank Defense vs. Position Expected Projection
SEA Russell Wilson, QB #6 #12 #8 #4 17 Fpts (QB15)
SEA DK Metcalf, WR #10 #17 #16 #1 14.5 Fpts (WR21)
SEA Chris Carson, RB #13 #11 #14 #6 11.5 Fpts (RB20)
SEA Tyler Lockett, WR #21 #52 #44 #32 11 Fpts (WR40)
San Francisco 49ers NFL DFS Core Offenses
Team Player Positional Salary Rank FPTs/Gm Rank Expected FPTs/Gm Rank Defense vs. Position Expected Projection
SF C.J. Beathard, QB #21 #27 #29 #13 8.5 Fpts (QB27)
SF George Kittle, TE #3 #3 #4 #28 13.5 Fpts (TE5)
SF Jeff Wilson Jr., RB #17 #23 #21 #19 13 Fpts (RB15)
SF Kendrick Bourne, WR #47 #56 #60 #2 9.5 Fpts (WR48)
SF Richie James Jr., WR #86 #49 #59 #9 8.5 Fpts (WR57)

NFL DFS Skill Position Values: Expected Points

Significant takeaway: Jeff Wilson has outpaced Chris Carson in expected fantasy points per game since week 11, making him the preferred running back option between the two, but both are quality mid-tier running back options. Wilson projects to be the 14th highest-utilized back on the slate (Carson’s projected for the 7th-highest ownership), giving him some contrarian value as well. With Brandon Aiyuk out, and Kendrick Bourne seeing a huge drop in playing time, George Kittle and Richie James should receive a majority of the passing game workload for San Francisco.

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.

 

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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: Fantasy gamers rostering Russell Wilson can also stack one of the Seahawks’ three tight ends as a punt-play at the most volatile position in fantasy football. With Greg Olsen back in the fold, don’t expect any of Olsen, Jacob Hollister, or Will Dissly to play even 50% of snaps, but all three should receive multiple looks. The 49ers have been tough against opposing tight ends however, ranking sixth in schedule-adjusted fantasy points allowed to the position over the last five weeks.

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Seattle Seahawks NFL DFS Tournament Picks
Team Player Snap Share Opportunity Score Defense vs. Position Outlook: Value, MME-only, Look Elsewhere
SEA David Moore, WR 50% 31 #25 Look Elsewhere
SEA Carlos Hyde, RB 42% 75 #6 Look Elsewhere
SEA Jacob Hollister, TE 45% 59 #6 MME-only
SEA Greg Olsen, TE 49% 62 #6 MME-only
SEA Freddie Swain, WR 35% 21 #25 Look Elsewhere
SEA Will Dissly, TE 54% 34 #6 MME-only
SEA Rashaad Penny, RB 9% 0 #6 Look Elsewhere
San Francisco 49ers NFL DFS Tournament Picks
Team Player Snap Share Opportunity Score Defense vs. Position Outlook: Value, MME-only, Look Elsewhere
SF Jerick McKinnon, RB 27% 74 #19 Look Elsewhere
SF Jordan Reed, TE 40% 85 #28 Look Elsewhere
SF Kyle Juszczyk, RB 43% 20 #19 Look Elsewhere
SF Tevin Coleman, RB 7% n/a #19 Look Elsewhere
SF Ross Dwelley, TE 55% 51 #28 Look Elsewhere
SF River Cracraft, WR 18% 52 #14 Look Elsewhere

Final Thoughts

With little evidence that this game turns into a shootout, this matchup looks rather mediocre in terms of creating an environment conducive to fantasy scoring. George Kittle, as well as starting running backs Chris Carson and Jeff Wilson, look like the most solid options, but don’t forget about Richie James, who, at only $3,100 should have a full-time role in the 49ers passing game. The Seahawks’ once high-flying passing attack is a low-floor, high-ceiling option, making the trio of Russell Wilson, Tyler Lockett, and DK Metcalf much more viable in tournaments than in cash games.

Prediction: Seahawks 24, 49ers 23.


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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