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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) Atlanta Falcons (22) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (28.5)

Quick-Hitter Game Summary:

  • The Buccaneers may rest their starters in this matchup, as they’ve clinched a playoff spot, but have no route to the number-one seed. Coach Bruce Arians has hinted that he will not do so, however.
  • Tom Brady, Chris Godwin and Ronald Jones, who returned to practice this week and is expected back Sunday, are the only key Buccaneers weapons who have projections in line with (or better than) their salary-based expectations.
  • With no expectation that Julio Jones will play, the Falcons offense will center-around Matt Ryan, Calvin Ridley and Russell Gage. All three look like high-floor, high-ceiling plays at their respective salaries.
  • Don’t bother looking at Atlanta running backs. The Buccaneers defense ranks top-10 in nearly every major rushing metric, and best in the league in opponent yards per carry.

Data Deep-Dive:

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

NFL DFS Upside Analysis:

Significant takeaways: With just a 50.5 Vegas-total, somewhat modest for this slate in particular, this game has a solid chance to hit the over, especially due to both teams’ heavy reliance on passing. The Buccaneers aren’t the fastest-paced team in the league by any stretch, but they pass on early downs in natural game scripts much more than league average. The Falcons, completely inept at running the football, rely solely on their passing attack, but Matt Ryan’s inefficiency on a per-drive basis often leads to plenty of yards, but very few touchdowns for the Falcons offense.

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: The Tampa Bay defense might be fantastic at stopping the run, but they’ve struggled to stop opposing wideouts over their last five games. Matt Ryan looks like a solid value-play, along with Calvin Ridley and Russell Gage, and not surprisingly, Atlanta ranks 3rd in Awesemo’s top stack values. The Buccaneers rank 5th, and shouldn’t have any trouble moving the ball through the air against Atlanta’s mediocre pass coverage. Mike Evans‘ salary is steep but not so steep that he’s a stay-away option.

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Atlanta Falcons NFL DFS Core Offenses
Team Player Positional Salary Rank FPTs/Gm Rank Expected FPTs/Gm Rank Defense vs. Position Expected Projection
ATL Matt Ryan, QB #12 #17 #11 #31 19.5 Fpts (QB8)
ATL Calvin Ridley, WR #2 #5 #4 #32 21.5 Fpts (WR4)
ATL Russell Gage, WR #35 #67 #42 #28 11 Fpts (WR40)
ATL Hayden Hurst, TE #15 #19 #21 #22 8.5 Fpts (TE12)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers NFL DFS Core Offenses
Team Player Positional Salary Rank FPTs/Gm Rank Expected FPTs/Gm Rank Defense vs. Position Expected Projection
TB Tom Brady, QB #7 #7 #7 #6 24 Fpts (QB2)
TB Chris Godwin, WR #14 #24 #26 #17 14 Fpts (WR22)
TB Mike Evans, WR #8 #4 #5 #15 19.5 Fpts (WR5)
TB Ronald Jones II, RB #19 #13 #17 #9 11 Fpts (RB24)
TB Antonio Brown, WR #28 #37 #36 #32 12.5 Fpts (WR31)
TB Rob Gronkowski, TE #8 #10 #12 #4 11.5 Fpts (TE9)

NFL DFS Skill Position Values: Expected Points

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: Leonard Fournette has limited appeal, but Fournette should still see 30% or more of the Buccaneers backfield touches, and even more if Jones isn’t back to 100% health-wise. The Falcons have been strong against opposing tight ends, making Cameron Brate less viable in large-field tournaments than typical but he can still be used, especially as part of a larger Tom Brady stack.

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Atlanta Falcons NFL DFS Tournament Picks
Team Player Snap Share Opportunity Score Defense vs. Position Outlook: Value, MME-only, Look Elsewhere
ATL Ito Smith, RB 35% 32 #2 Look Elsewhere
ATL Brian Hill, RB 30% 17 #2 Look Elsewhere
ATL Todd Gurley, RB 39% 62 #2 Look Elsewhere
ATL Christian Blake, WR 33% 25 #4 Look Elsewhere
ATL Brandon Powell, WR 23% 1 #4 Look Elsewhere
ATL Keith Smith, RB 21% 4 #2 Look Elsewhere
ATL Laquon Treadwell, WR 10% 9 #4 Look Elsewhere
ATL Luke Stocker, TE 46% 1 #22 Look Elsewhere
Tampa Bay Buccaneers NFL DFS Tournament Picks
Team Player Snap Share Opportunity Score Defense vs. Position Outlook: Value, MME-only, Look Elsewhere
TB Leonard Fournette, RB 50% 83 #9 MME-only
TB LeSean McCoy, RB 14% 40 #9 Look Elsewhere
TB Cameron Brate, TE 38% 52 #4 MME-only
TB Scotty Miller, WR 21% 44 #32 Look Elsewhere
TB Tyler Johnson, WR 14% 3 #32 Look Elsewhere
TB Ke’Shawn Vaughn, RB 25% 0 #9 Look Elsewhere

Final Thoughts

Tom Brady and Matt Ryan could easily combine for the most total pass attempts on the entire slate. The Buccaneers are always tough to predict week-to-week as they’re perfectly content to spread the ball around to four or five different receivers, but the Falcons have an extremely consolidated passing attack, meaning Calvin Ridley, Russell Gage, and even Hayden Hurst are all extremely viable options in all daily fantasy football formats.

Prediction: Buccaneers 31, Falcons 21.


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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