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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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(42.5) Miami Dolphins (19.75) @ Buffalo Bills (22.75)

Quick-Hitter Game Summary:

  • Miami gets into the playoffs with a win (or a loss by any of Baltimore, Cleveland, or Indianapolis), while the Bills are locked-into the playoff positioning.
  • The Dolphins are starting Tua Tagovailoa at quarterback, but won’t have Ryan Fitzpatrick to fall back on this weekend, as Fitzpatrick was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list and is out for Week 17.
  • The Bills are at risk of resting their starters, which would mean off-days for Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs. Pay careful attention to the news from this game leading up to kickoff.
  • John Brown was activated from the reserve/COVID-19 list, and would be viable as a tournament option assuming Josh Allen plays a full game.
  • Myles Gaskin ranks number-one in the NFL among running backs on the main slate in expected fantasy points over the last 5 weeks and is by far the highest-floor option on the Miami offense.

Data Deep-Dive:

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

NFL DFS Upside Analysis:

Significant takeaways: If the Bills play their starters, this game could easily go over it’s extremely low Vegas total. But the Vegas line seems to be giving credence to the idea that the Bills have nothing to play for, and that scoring could come at a premium in this matchup with backups on the Buffalo side of the ball.

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: Myles Gaskin looks like a clear value play as the tenth-highest salary running back on the slate. Given that DeVante Parker is questionable with a leg injury, and the passing game has limited upside overall with Tagovailoa at the helm, Gaskin is by far the best option on the Miami offense. Mike Gesicki clearly isn’t 100% but his expected projection makes him look like a decent value as well. The Bills may be a stay-away option despite looking like decent plays on paper.

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Miami Dolphins NFL DFS Core Offenses
Team Player Positional Salary Rank FPTs/Gm Rank Expected FPTs/Gm Rank Defense vs. Position Expected Projection
MIA Tua Tagovailoa, QB #22 #19 #15 #8 18 Fpts (QB12)
MIA Myles Gaskin, RB #10 #1 #1 #13 24.5 Fpts (RB2)
MIA DeVante Parker, WR #31 #57 #44 #7 11 Fpts (WR40)
MIA Mike Gesicki, TE #10 #5 #7 #25 14.5 Fpts (TE4)
Buffalo Bills NFL DFS Core Offenses
Team Player Positional Salary Rank FPTs/Gm Rank Expected FPTs/Gm Rank Defense vs. Position Expected Projection
BUF Josh Allen, QB #3 #1 #1 #5 23.5 Fpts (QB3)
BUF Stefon Diggs, WR #4 #3 #3 #27 24.5 Fpts (WR3)
BUF Cole Beasley, WR #19 #16 #22 #13 15 Fpts (WR19)
BUF John Brown, WR #64 #33 #13 #9 15.5 Fpts (WR15)
BUF Devin Singletary, RB #41 #29 #35 #3 8 Fpts (RB33)
BUF Zack Moss, RB #38 #39 #40 #3 7 Fpts (RB41)

NFL DFS Skill Position Values: Expected Points

Significant takeaway: More stats in the plus-category for Myles Gaskin. Stefon Diggs (of course), and John Brown are viable if Josh Allen plays.

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: Salvon Ahmed will still get run as Miami’s change of pace back, and could easily vulture a touchdown a two from the starter Gaskin. Gabriel Davis should see plenty of run in this contest, especially if Diggs rests for some or all of the game. He’s an appealing value-play at $3,600.

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Miami Dolphins NFL DFS Tournament Picks
Team Player Snap Share Opportunity Score Defense vs. Position Outlook: Value, MME-only, Look Elsewhere
MIA Lynn Bowden, WR 66% 40 #8 Look Elsewhere
MIA Mack Hollins, WR 48% 28 #10 Look Elsewhere
MIA Salvon Ahmed, RB 55% 91 #13 MME-only
MIA Durham Smythe, TE 47% 31 #25 Look Elsewhere
MIA Isaiah Ford, WR 64% 16 #10 Look Elsewhere
MIA Adam Shaheen, TE 38% 18 #25 Look Elsewhere
Buffalo Bills NFL DFS Tournament Picks
Team Player Snap Share Opportunity Score Defense vs. Position Outlook: Value, MME-only, Look Elsewhere
BUF Dawson Knox, TE 63% 67 #17 Look Elsewhere
BUF Gabriel Davis, WR 81% 53 #9 Value
BUF Isaiah McKenzie, WR 21% 3 #9 Look Elsewhere
BUF Lee Smith, TE 32% 6 #17 Look Elsewhere

Prediction: Dolphins 23, Bills 20


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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