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Week 16 NFL DFS + Fantasy Football Matchups Breakdown Column With Matt Savoca

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Matt Savoca gives you the most in-depth data for Week 16 NFL DFS slate and breaks down NFL DFS Picks for DraftKings + FanDuel lineups

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(47.5) Los Angeles Rams (23.25) @  Seattle Seahawks (24.25)

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

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Team Passing and Pace

First, let’s take a look at the possibility of this game turning into a shootout, as 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).

With both the Rams and Seahawks playing significantly faster than league-average, and passing much more in neutral game scripts, this game has a significantly more shootout-upside than the 47-point Vegas total implies. The range of outcomes for the game total in this matchup is arguably the highest on the slate, but the shootout indicators in the chart above are quite encouraging for fantasy gamers hoping for plenty of points in Seattle this weekend.

Recent Quarterback Performance

Next, let’s examine the starting quarterbacks’ recent play. 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.

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.

The passing production isn’t nearly as gaudy as it was at the beginning of the season, but Russell Wilson continues to play at a top-10 level at the quarterback position on a per-drive, per-play, and per-pass basis, and has one of the best completion percentages over expectation (chart on the right) in the league over the last five weeks. Jared Goff‘s efficiency places him right at league average, in all three statistical categories.

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NFL DFS Player Pool Picker: Upside Analysis

Now, let’s examine the primary skill players from each offense. Unless participating in a large-field tournament, these are the players you should be focusing on in your daily fantasy football lineups. For each player, I’ve made it easy to compare their per-game fantasy (in column 3) to their DraftKings main slate salary ranking (in column 2). Column 4 ranks the player using my favorite position-specific volume metric: Expected fantasy points, which is curated by PFF.  The Defense vs. Position column is an extremely helpful position-specific and player-group specific (for example, the metric delineates between primary wide receiver vs. secondary wide receivers) metric 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.

The final column, Expected Projection, 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.

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 #9 #14 #17 #10 21.5 Fpts (QB4)
LAR Robert Woods, WR #6 #2 #5 #2 20 Fpts (WR2)
LAR Cooper Kupp, WR #10 #16 #18 #1 15 Fpts (WR10)
LAR Darrell Henderson Jr., RB #27 #32 #53 #26 6.5 Fpts (RB26)
LAR Tyler Higbee, TE #8 #12 #17 #27 7.5 Fpts (TE13)

The trio of Jared Goff, Robert Woods, and Cooper Kupp immediately sticks out as a quality stack this Sunday. The expected projection for all three players is right in line with salary-based expectation, as Seattle has struggled mightily against opposing wideouts for the majority of the season. Presumed starting running back Darrell Henderson‘s matchup isn’t quite as strong on paper, but should be utilized enough to be a volume-based value play with a salary outside the top-25 running backs this Sunday.

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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 #5 #5 #7 #1 15.5 Fpts (QB14)
SEA DK Metcalf, WR #3 #3 #5 #11 18 Fpts (WR4)
SEA Tyler Lockett, WR #11 #38 #44 #10 9 Fpts (WR38)
SEA Chris Carson, RB #10 #5 #11 #3 13 Fpts (RB7)
SEA David Moore, WR #58 #43 #74 #11 7.5 Fpts (WR51)
SEA Carlos Hyde, RB #20 #21 #34 #3 9 Fpts (RB23)

Not unexpectedly, the salaries of Russell Wilson, D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett are all extremely high, but their expected projections seem to believe they might be too high against a Rams defense that typically plays tough enough defense to keep them in any matchup (last week’s collapse against the Jets not withstanding). Chris Carson seems like the best value from the Seahawks group of primary skill-position players.

NFL DFS Backfield Values: Running Back Opportunities

Nailing the running back position in your fantasy football lineups is vitally important. There are many metrics that help fantasy gamers determine which running backs earn higher-value touches than their peers, but my favorite is Quality Opportunities per game. It only counts running back looks that come via the receiving game (as receptions are much more valuable on a per-play basis than rushes) or via goal line rushes (inside the opponent’s 10-yard line) since there isn’t anything more valuable than a touchdown.

 

This chart measures Quality Opportunities per Game (Targets or Goal line carries), and its variant, Quality Opportunity Share, which are both key performance indicators for running backs. This metric helps filter so-called “empty touches” from a running back’s workload and highlights the opportunities that are most likely to be successful for fantasy football. It includes injured players, in order to help contextualize players who might be receiving a smaller or larger workload based on personnel shifts.

With Cam Akers scheduled to miss this game, expect Darrell Henderson to be the “1-A” in the Rams offense, with Malcolm Brown mixing in occasionally. Chris Carson remains the most valuable running back from either side, but Carlos Hyde, who sees nearly four high-value looks per game, and a higher share of team quality opportunities (the chart on the right), making him an intriguing contrarian option this weekend.

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NFL DFS Receiving Values: Skill Position Opportunity Ranges

The wide receiver and tight end positions are two of the higher-variance positions in all of daily fantasy football, so it’s important to consider both floor and ceiling when predicting a player’s usage. Players with unexpectedly high opportunity in the passing game often have the best chances to outperform their projections, so I created a chart that measures a player’s opportunity range of outcomes (see the caption of the graph for more details on how this is calculated.). The horizontal bars represent a player’s expected opportunity range, while the center dot represents their average opportunity.

This chart measures the mathematical uncertainty in each player’s true weighted opportunity metric (the metric is explained in the caption of the Game Opportunity Chart above), providing an insight into a player’s range of outcomes related to receiving opportunity. For each player, the team-color dot is the “true” metric, while the red dot indicates the “observed” stat. The bars represent a player’s 95% credible interval, which we can use to measure the uncertainty (both positive and negative) related to their expected workload through the air.

This chart does a great job of delineating D.K. Metcalf and Robert Woods‘ significantly higher opportunity ceilings compared to their respective teammates, Tyler Lockett and Cooper Kupp. Woods is shaping up to be one of the better plays on the slate, as he continues to grade-out strongly in each chart in which he’s listed.

NFL DFS Auxiliary Offensive Players for Large-Field Contests

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 (again) defensive matchup. For each player, I create an Opportunity Score, which scales a position-specific opportunity metric 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, I categorize the players as an NFL DFS value, a mass multi-entry option (MME-only) or a player to avoid altogether.

Los Angeles Rams NFL DFS Tournament Picks

Team Player Snap Share Opportunity Score Defense vs. Position Outlook: Value, MME-only, Look Elsewhere
LAR Malcolm Brown, RB 35% 6 #26 MME-only
LAR Josh Reynolds, WR 75% 72 #24 MME-only
LAR Gerald Everett, TE 61% 74 #27 MME-only
LAR Van Jefferson, WR 21% 11 #24 Look Elsewhere

Seattle Seahawks NFL DFS Tournament Picks

Team Player Snap Share Opportunity Score Defense vs. Position Outlook: Value, MME-only, Look Elsewhere
SEA Greg Olsen, TE 57% 64 #10 Look Elsewhere
SEA Jacob Hollister, TE 43% 61 #10 MME-only
SEA Freddie Swain, WR 34% 21 #11 MME-only
SEA Rashaad Penny, RB 11% n/a #3 MME-only
SEA Will Dissly, TE 55% 35 #10 Look Elsewhere

If building a daily fantasy football lineup around the idea that this game shoots-out, then feel free to use the lesser-utilized players on either offense in this matchup. Fantasy gamers can take advantage of the slight possibility that Rashaad Penny is not only a) healthy, but b) the most explosive running back on the team and take a chance on him at close to 0% ownership. The Rams’ tertiary passing game weapons (Josh Reynolds, Gerald Everett, and even receiving-back Malcolm Brown) also make sense as contrarian run-back options when creating high-salary Seahawks stacks.

Final Thoughts

There’s a lot to like in this matchup, but the production floor for both offenses remains quite low. This is a game to attack in large-field tournaments, because if it does shootout, it could be the highest-scoring game west of Kansas City this weekend, and if that’s the case, you’re going to want plenty of pieces in this battle for first place in the NFC West.

Prediction: Rams 27, Seahawks 26.


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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