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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.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (26.75) at Washington Football Team (18.25)

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

Quick-Hitter Game Summary

  • The Buccaneers are the only playoff team with both a top-five defense and offense in per-play efficiency over the course of the season. They’re second among playoff teams with a +187 point differential.
  • Washington finished the season 5-2 after beginning the season 2-7 despite possessing one of the most efficient defenses in the NFL in per-play efficiency. They’re a significantly better offense with Alex Smith at the helm.
  • Terry McLaurin is a sneaky value as the sixth-highest salary wide receiver on the slate, as the Buccaneers have struggled recently against No. 1 wideouts.
  • Tom Brady is a risky but high-upside play as the second-highest-salary quarterback on the slate going against a defense that ranks near the top of the league in schedule-adjusted fantasy points allowed to the position. His receivers, on the other hand, have projections that rank slightly worse than salary-based expectations.
  • The Tampa Bay DST will almost certainly be the highest-rostered defense on the slate, and while there are scenarios where they shouldn’t be utilized at all, the Awesemo projections think they’re worth the$3,400 salary.

NFL DFS Upside Analysis

At first glance, this looks like the defenses could be the determining force in this matchup, especially since both offenses rank below average in game-adjusted pace, but the Buccaneers (of course) rank well above average for playoff teams in early-down pass rate in neutral situations. Brady had one of the best statistical seasons of his career, ranking second amongst playoff quarterbacks in per-play and per-pass efficiency. It’s hard to see Washington having the offensive firepower to keep up with Brady’s pass attack.

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

Of the Buccaneer’s big three receivers, Chris Godwin looks like the best value, as Washington has (comparatively) struggled against secondary wide receivers compared to top wideouts and auxiliary options. Antonio Brown is starting to look like his old self, ranking second among wide receivers on the slate in fantasy points per game. McLaurin and J.D. McKissic look like the most valuable skill position players when comparing their recent expected fantasy points to their salary-based expectations.

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 #2 #2 #2 #3 19.5 Fpts (QB3)
TB Ronald Jones, RB #4 #4 #6 #1 10 Fpts (RB8)
TB Chris Godwin, WR #2 #5 #6 #4 14.5 Fpts (WR4)
TB Antonio Brown, WR #8 #2 #2 #1 14 Fpts (WR7)
TB Mike Evans, WR #5 #3 #10 #5 13 Fpts (WR8)

Washington Football Team NFL DFS Core Offenses

Team Player Positional Salary Rank FPTs/Gm Rank Expected FPTs/Gm Rank Defense vs. Position Expected Projection
WAS Alex Smith, QB #6 #6 #6 #6 12.5 Fpts (QB6)
WAS Terry McLaurin, WR #6 #14 #8 #6 14.5 Fpts (WR4)
WAS Antonio Gibson, RB #3 #11 #10 #2 5 Fpts (RB13)
WAS J.D. McKissic, RB #6 #3 #3 #2 14.5 Fpts (RB3)
WAS Logan Thomas, TE #1 #1 #1 #3 19 Fpts (TE1)

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

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

If the heavily favored Buccaneers end up blowing out Washington in the first half, it’s possible Leonard Fournette could see extra usage in the second half, but on paper, it doesn’t look like Fournette (or presumed-starter Ronald Jones against the stout Washington rush defense). Cam Sims has taken on a full-time role in the Washington offense over recent weeks, and the Buccaneers haven’t been quite as impressive against auxiliary wide receivers in the second half of the season. He’s the only one of the part-time Washington players that are worth rostering in daily fantasy football lineups.

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 47% 65 #1 MME-only
TB Cameron Brate, TE 41% 47 #1 Look Elsewhere
TB Scotty Miller, WR 22% 17 #5 Look Elsewhere
TB Tyler Johnson, WR 16% 3 #5 Look Elsewhere

Washington Football Team NFL DFS Tournament Picks

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Team Player Snap Share Opportunity Score Defense vs. Position Outlook: Value, MME-only, Look Elsewhere
WAS Cam Sims, WR 92% 66 #5 Value
WAS Steven Sims Jr., WR 39% 45 #1 Look Elsewhere
WAS Peyton Barber, RB 21% 41 #2 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.

Prediction: Buccaneers 30, Washington 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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