FANTASY PLAYS: Lineup decisions based on opponent tendencies
Through 10 weeks of the NFL season we now have a better idea of the strengths and weaknesses of NFL teams and their defensive identities.
While NFL head coaches game plan how to exploit these weaknesses, savvy fantasy owners do the same thing to gain an edge in daily fantasy tournaments.
There are four teams allowing 23-plus fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks through 10 weeks of the season and the gap from the fourth to the fifth place team is nearly as large as the gap from the fifth place to the 20th place team. New Orleans, Tampa Bay, Cincinnati and Atlanta have all emerged as defensive units that allow consistent production to opposing quarterbacks. The Saints are a particularly unique case as they have been a top 5 rush defense and funnel opponents toward the pass. The Eagles travel to New Orleans this week to play in the SuperDome, often referred to as “The Coors Field of DFS” due to the high-scoring matchups, just like what fantasy baseball players see from Colorado.
Carson Wentz projects as a top QB option in a matchup where the Eagles have a 24-point team total and a need to throw if they’re trailing. DailyRoto has Wentz projected for the highest passing yardage of any QB on the Week 11 main slates, expected to throw for 300-plus yards and two touchdowns with upside for more. The Saints defense has also allowed the most PPR points to opposing pass catchers and both Alshon Jeffrey and Zach Ertz can be paired comfortably with Wentz in tournaments. The duo has combined for 56 targets over the previous three weeks and should be in line for another strong workload. While it remains to be seen how quickly Golden Tate can pick up the Eagles offense, his emergence would hurt Nelson Agholor more than Jeffrey or Ertz.
The Raiders, Patriots, Bucs and Panthers all average double digit points allowed to opposing tight ends. With DFS pricing tighter, the highly variant tight end position has been a popular position to save salary. At just $2,900 on DraftKings, Arizona’s Ricky Seals-Jones should provide value and salary relief for fantasy lineups. Since Byron Leftwich took over playcalling, Seals-Jones has drawn 13 targets in the last two games and finished with double digit fantasy points in Week 10. Betting on Seals-Jones is also a bet against the depth of the tight-end position as a whole, allowing daily players to spend up on high volume wideouts and running backs.
Among running backs, Ezekiel Elliott of Dallas also has value for tournaments against an Atlanta Falcons team that ranks as a bottom five defense against opposing RBs. Zeke is one of the true workhorse backs, seeing 90 percent of the Cowboys snaps at running back, virtually all of their RB carries and he also projecting for an 18 percent share of targets in Week 11. With high ownership going to Saquon Barkley, Melvin Gordon and Alvin Kamara, using Elliott could be a contrarian play that pays dividends.