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NFL Fantasy Football Matchups Breakdown with Matt Savoca | Wild Card Saturday Slate

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The ultimate free guide to making your Week 13 Jock MKT NFL picks for Monday Night Football Patriots vs. Bills with expert IPO projections.

Los Angeles Rams (19.5) at Seattle Seahawks (23)

All Graphs Reflect Last Five Weeks of the Regular Season, Click Graphs to Enlarge

Quick-Hitter Game Summary

  • Assuming the Rams get Jared Goff back, and he has his typical accuracy, both Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods look like values compared to salary-based expectations.
  • While the Seahawks have cleaned up their rush defense in recent weeks, Cam Akers ranks No. 1 among running backs on the slate in expected fantasy points per game over the last five weeks.
  • For the first time in half a season, D.K. Metcalf is priced below Tyler Lockett, which will likely skyrocket Metcalf’s ownership on this three-game slate. Metcalf ranks outside the top 10 wideouts in expected fantasy points per game on the Saturday slate.
  • The Seahawks’ defense ranked 18th in the NFL in per-play efficiency during the regular season, but the Rams’ offense ranked 23rd, indicating there may not be a ton of scoring, especially if John Wolford starts in place of Goff.

NFL DFS Upside Analysis

The Rams played at one of the fastest paces in the league this season and throw more than average on early downs in neutral situations, but their quarterback(s) continues to utilize consistent short passing rather than deep shots in order to move the chains. The Seahawks are one of the slower teams in the league, but Russell Wilson takes consistent deep shots, giving a dose of aggressiveness to the otherwise conservative Seahawks attack. Both Goff and Wilson, at least amongst playoff quarterbacks, rank below average in per-drive efficiency, once again indicating there may not be many points scored in Saturday’s showdown.

Passing and 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

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.

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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

Assuming health, Goff and Akers seem like the best values on the Los Angeles side of the ball, with Woods looking like a slightly better value than Kupp at their respective salaries. None of the Seahawks’ core offensive weapons look particularly appealing compared to salary-based expectations, particularly because the Los Angeles defense has been one of the best teams in the NFL all season in defending the pass. They rank best on the slate in per-game defensive efficiency against quarterbacks since Week 11.

Los Angeles Rams NFL DFS Core Offenses

Team Player Positional Salary Rank FPTs/Gm Rank Expected FPTs/Gm Rank Defense vs. Position Expected Projection
LAR Jared Goff, QB #4 #4 #3 #4 21.5 Fpts (QB2)
LAR Robert Woods, WR #7 #10 #4 #1 15.5 Fpts (WR2)
LAR Cooper Kupp, WR #9 #9 #11 #4 12.5 Fpts (WR10)
LAR Cam Akers, RB #5 #5 #1 #5 21 Fpts (RB1)

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 #3 #3 #4 #1 13 Fpts (QB5)
SEA D.K. Metcalf, WR #4 #11 #9 #3 12 Fpts (WR11)
SEA Chris Carson, RB #2 #7 #5 #3 10.5 Fpts (RB7)
SEA Tyler Lockett, WR #3 #8 #3 #1 13 Fpts (WR8)

Unless participating in a large-field tournament, the players above are the players that fantasy gamers should be focusing on in their daily fantasy football lineups. For each player, it’s easy to compare their DraftKings main-slate salary ranking (in column 3) to their per-game fantasy scoring (in column 4). A player’s opportunity is measured by expected fantasy points, (column 5), which is curated by PFF.  Defense vs. Position (column 6) is an extremely helpful position-specific and player group-specific metric (for example, the metric delineates between primary wide receiver vs. secondary wide receivers) that helps determine if an offensive player is likely to be in a position to exceed their expected fantasy points. Higher numbers in the Defense vs. Position column indicate easier matchups for the offense, while numbers closer to one indicate a stout defense against that specific position group. Finally, expected projection (column 7) combines a player’s expected fantasy points with their weekly matchup into one helpful value metric. Apart from the Awesemo projections (which should still carry the most weight in determining player value), expected projection is one of my favorite metrics to help me narrow down my favorite plays of the week. The rankings are always specific to the slate, meaning if a player or team is ranked No. 1 at a specific metric, they may not necessarily be ranked No. 1 in the NFL, but they are for this specific slate.

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NFL DFS Skill Position Values: Expected Points

Akers is by far the most valuable running back in this matchup, nearly doubling any other back from this matchup in expected fantasy points per game. Chris Carson is simply priced too high compared to his recent usage and will need significant touchdown luck in order to hit pay dirt as the second-highest salary running back on the slate. Kupp stands out as the most efficient wide receiver of the big four in this matchup, but Woods remains the best value compared to salary-based expectations.

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.

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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.

 

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

With both offenses featuring rotating auxiliary weaponry, this game looks to have multiple intriguing options if creating a daily fantasy football lineup for large-field tournaments. The Rams’ tight ends look like values, as the Seahawks rank last on the slate in defensive per-game efficiency. The Seahawks’ tight ends, along with backup running back Carlos Hyde, look like the best large-field tournaments on the Seattle side of the ball.

Los Angeles Rams NFL DFS Tournament Picks

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Team Player Snap Share Opportunity Score Defense vs. Position Outlook: Value, MME-only, Look Elsewhere
LAR Tyler Higbee, TE 78% 93 #6 MME-only
LAR Gerald Everett, TE 64% 73 #6 MME-only
LAR Josh Reynolds, WR 73% 55 #4 MME-ony
LAR Malcolm Brown, RB 33% 12 #5 Look Elsewhere
LAR Van Jefferson Jr., WR 27% 38 #4 Look Elsewhere

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 49% 31 #3 MME-only
SEA Carlos Hyde, RB 42% 77 #3 MME-only
SEA Jacob Hollister, TE 47% 60 #4 MME-only
SEA Greg Olsen, TE 51% 53 #4 MME-only
SEA Freddie Swain, WR 34% 35 #3 Look Elsewhere
SEA Will Dissly, TE 59% 27 #4 MME-only
SEA Rashaad Penny, RB 21% 18 #3 Look Elsewhere

In daily fantasy football, depending on the size and type of contest you’re playing, it’s often advantageous to expand your player pool to less-utilized offensive players. In this section, we examine every part-time player’s usage based on playing time, opportunity and defensive matchup. For each player, an Opportunity Score is calculated using position-specific predictive metrics, which are then scaled to number between zero (least valuable) and 100 (most valuable). Scores above 50 tend to indicate starter-level opportunity, while scores over 80 indicate star-level usage. Finally, players are categorized as an NFL DFS value, a mass multi-entry option (MME-only) or a player to avoid altogether.

Final Thoughts

It’s been nine weeks since Wilson was an MVP candidate, but there’s little hope that this game will wind up being the highest-scoring game on the slate. With concerns about quarterback health on the Los Angeles side of the ball and Wilson taking a major step back in efficiency in the second half of the season, the best way to attack this game is by utilizing auxiliary weaponry, hoping that the low-priced option you choose for your daily fantasy football lineup finds the end zone.

Prediction: Seahawks 23, Rams 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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