Week 7 NFL DFS Starting Points: Vegas Lines
You know that targeting the highest scoring games and particularly the teams with the highest implied totals makes sense in fantasy football. This analysis will highlight exactly which situations are the best to take advantage of and which you might want to avoid within those games. We'll also highlight a couple games to use caution with as well as some less obvious targets. All betting lines are courtesy of Westgate Sportsbook.
The high scoring games:
Los Angeles Rams at Atlanta, Total 54
This game has shootout written all over it. Atlanta has traditionally been one of the best fantasy targets for running backs, but this season, they rank second - behind only Miami - in fantasy points allowed to QB. They give up the third-most fantasy points to WR. If there were ever a time to be all in on Jared Goff and Cooper Kupp, this is definitely it. Coming off a really tough game vs. the 49ers, this passing offense should rebound nicely in Week 7. Atlanta, in addition to allowing the second-most points per game, leads the league in a telling stat: 52 percent of opponent drives end in a score. Only 3.4 percent end in a turnover (per Pro Football Reference). Robert Woods is fine if you can afford him and/or want to stack the Rams, but expect to see more on Brandin Cooks in the Bargains article this week. He's the lower-owned, upside play for the Rams.
I don't see how you rely on the run game of the Rams this week. There could be a chance they get Todd Gurley back, and we finally saw some Darrell Henderson, but again, it was vs. the 49ers in Week 6 and the whole offense sputtered. On the plus side, Henderson averaged 6.5 YPC (six attempts) and received two targets, but Malcolm Brown was still the guy they went to in the red zone (three RZ attempts, 11 overall). This is a committee situation that I'm continuing to avoid.
The Falcons face a neutral Rams Defense at home. Matt Ryan is having a great season; he ranks fourth in QB fantasy points and leads the league with 15 passing touchdowns. He also has seven interceptions, but with over 2000 passing yards already, they aren't hurting his weekly stat lines too much. His salary is still unbelievably low on both sites. Austin Hooper has been a touchdown machine this season, and there is no reason to think he'll do anything to dislodge himself from the top fantasy TE spot here. He's pricey, but it's been worth it.
Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley and Devonta Freeman are all DFS options as well in Week 7. Jones is the most expensive wideout on the main slate, prized for his consistency week in and week out. Ridley is staying involved, with about 26 percent of the team's air yards (per NextGenStats). The difference between the two is significant in terms of usage, but not in catch rate, depth of target, or yards per reception. Both have four receiving touchdowns this season. It's hard to fade Jones in a good spot at home in a game with this high of a point total, but Ryan is doing enough to make all three of his receivers (Jones, Ridley, Hooper) relevant. The other way I see playing the Falcons is a Ryan/Freeman mini-stack. Freeman has quietly been good the past four weeks, with near 100 total yards per game and three receiving touchdowns in the last two games.
Baltimore at Seattle, Total 51
Both defenses in this game, once dominant, have been really neutral in terms of points and fantasy points allowed so far in 2019. There are no true positional weaknesses or strengths on either side, leaving our options wide open. Moreover, both teams have been offensive powerhouses: the Ravens rank second in points per game, while the Seahawks are seventh in that category. It should be hard to go wrong with this one.
Russell Wilson is FanDuel's most expensive QB this week, while he comes in at fourth on DraftKings. Chris Carson, who is coming off his best game of the season, isn't even Top 5 in salary among running backs this week. Both are very strong plays, and especially Carson in terms of roster construction, given that I'm so high on the two QBs in the game above. The top two Seattle wide receivers, Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf, have been frustrating. They have an almost identical share of the team's air yards (28 percent), but Metcalf is killing us with a 51 percent catch rate and Lockett's 85 percent catch rate is coming on fewer targets (five, four, four in the last three games). Perhaps Will Dissly's Achilles injury will lead to higher target volume for Lockett and Metcalf, but perhaps Seattle will just continue to turn to Carson. Lockett's high-ish salary and this uncertainty make him hard to rely on for big games, though his floor is still reasonable. One thing I'm not worried about is Jaron Brown vulturing all the touchdowns every week. If you want to throw Brown into a Seahawks stack for the low salary and TD upside, that's fine, but keep expectations in check.
Lamar Jackson is fantasy's leading quarterback, and since Week 2, he's been doing it largely on the ground. Leading the league in QB rushing (460 yards), but also averaging just over 250 passing yards per game, there's good reason you'll have to pay up for him this week. The one downside is that he's been significantly better at home this season (about seven more fantasy points per game at home) and Seattle can be a difficult place to play. That said, Jackson's road stats are as good or better than many guys' overall numbers…
Mark Ingram has come back to Earth as Jackson has been the team's lead rusher the past few weeks. Given how close his and Carson's salaries are, I'm going Carson almost every time. That makes Ingram a potentially lower-owned tournament target given that he's still being utilized in the red zone and is averaging over a touchdown per game this season.
Marquise Brown is questionable again after missing Week 6, Miles Boykin and Willie Snead IV are largely irrelevant and that leaves us with Mark Andrews as the only reliable pass-catcher for Jackson. If Brown plays at or near 100 percent, I can see using him as a tournament play or to round out a game stack here, but otherwise, it's Andrews only for me.
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The low scoring games:
Los Angeles Chargers at Tennessee, Total 38.5
There are so many factors that make this game unappealing. The Titans allow the fifth-fewest points per game to opponents, but also score the fifth-fewest points per game. The Chargers have gotten worse since Melvin Gordon is back Hunter Henry is the only bright spot right now in this offense. Scoring twice in Week 6, he could take advantage of Tennessee's one possible weakness: they're allowing the 10th-most fantasy points to TEs. Expect high ownership of Henry, but after almost bailing out the Chargers Sunday night, it might be deserved.
Keenan Allen is going to have another tough matchup this week, and given his last three games, I can't play him at his current salary. The Titans are stifling opposing teams, allowing zero 100-yard receivers and only 22.7 percent of opponent drives are ending in a score. That spells zero upside, and to boot, Allen's targets are nowhere near where they should be for PPR value at this salary. Austin Ekeler, star of the first three weeks of the season, is unplayable as well. His usage has plummeted, even in his change-of-pace, pass game role. DraftKings has responded accordingly, but he's still priced above several RBs I'd rather roster this weekend. I also don't see this as being a great spot for a Gordon breakout, but if there were a player to roster for pure upside, he's it.
The Chargers' defense ranks ninth in points per game allowed to opponents, and Casey Hayward has done a good job containing opposing wide receivers. Overall, the Chargers are allowing the fifth-fewest passing yards this season. They have proven somewhat easier to run on, so while the Titan's tumultuous passing game is a full fade for me, Derrick Henry could be an interesting option this week. Coming off back-to-back rough matchups with Buffalo and Denver, Henry could get back to 20 fantasy points this week as the team (hopefully) tries to take some pressure off whomever starts at QB.
As this low total and dysfunctional Titans Offense indicate, the Chargers D/ST could be in for a nice rebound week. They are still in the top half salary-wise, but represent a significant discount from the most expensive options this week.
New Orleans at Chicago, Total 38.5
It's not often you see the Saints in this section of this article. Nor can I remember them not ranking in the top 10 in points scored per game. Of course, the Bears are a big part of this line, allowing the third-fewest points per game this season, but the Saints' defense has held their own too, giving up the 11th-fewest points. Given that the Saints are good at stopping the run (fifth-fewest fantasy points to RB) but rank in the top 10 to QB and WR for fantasy, who the starting Bears QB will be is of interest. I'm not sure I want either of Mitchell Trubisky coming off a significant shoulder injury or Chase Daniel, but Allen Robinson stands to be targeted heavily by either one. He's coming off a huge game in London two weeks ago, but his DraftKings salary is right in that sweet spot range good for your third WR or Flex and he's usable in any contest.
I generally avoid offenses facing Chicago, and even after seeing Josh Jacobs succeed against them in Week 5, I'm a little hesitant. Alvin Kamara in a tournament lineup? Sure, his salary has come down a lot after averaging fewer than 14 fantasy points per game over his last three weeks (and failing to reach value in four of six games this season). But I wouldn't be looking to get heavy exposure. Teddy Bridgewater and Michael Thomas are off the table entirely.
The safest way to play this game is probably via the D/ST. The Bears and Saints are within $100 of each other, and this is the cheapest you'll see the Bears all season, I bet. At home against this Saints Offense, I say use them.
High team totals you might miss:
Miami at Buffalo, Total 38.5
Excuse me while I just go check this spread one more time. It's been shocking enough as a Western New Yorker to see the Bills favored this season at all, but by more than two touchdowns? Astonishing. Of course this isn't offense-driven like it is for other good teams, and everyone that's faced Miami except the Redskins has won by a wide margin. The Bills' defense stands out as the best among Dolphins' opponents after New England, and they are allowing the fourth-fewest points per game, fourth-fewest fantasy points to QBs, third-fewest fantasy points to WRs, and fewest to TEs. You're not using any Dolphins this week and loading up on the Bills D/ST regardless of cost.
Josh Allen is sneaky-expensive for Week 7, coming off a bye, but he really only struggling to meet value vs. the Patriots. Given that Miami not only scores the fewest points, but allows the most points per game, Allen is in good shape this week. I'm using him with John Brown, who should have room for a couple long touchdowns, and Frank Gore, who is still playing well and has had two weeks to rest (not to mention, revenge narrative). Devin Singletary, due back after suffering a hamstring injury back in Week 2, is a bit of a wild card, but with his big play ability I could see incorporating him sparingly into multi-entry GPP lineups. His price is high for what we've seen and should reasonably expect, so I'm not going all-in with Singletary.
San Francisco at Washington, Total 42
The 49ers D/ST has been a force this season, whether we're talking about real or fantasy football. They are right behind New England in points allowed per game, and rank in the bottom three for fantasy points to QB, RB, and TE (seventh-fewest to WR). Washington is as bad as it gets (sorry Terry McLaurin) and it's going to get bad for them this weekend. They are the second-most expensive unit after Buffalo, but if you need or want to save a few hundred salary dollars, I like them just as much.
In addition to being fairly pitiful on offense, the Redskins Defense leaves us plenty of opportunity too. They allow the fifth-most points per game, and are particularly generous to opposing QBs and WRs. We have to consider Jimmy Garoppolo and George Kittle as strong any-lineup targets, but may also want to get more limited exposure to Tevin Coleman, Matt Breida, and Marquise Goodwin or Dante Pettis. Coleman is the lead back in terms of the opportunities he's seeing, but I still believe in Breida's talent and big play ability, not to mention his lower salary. Goodwin and Pettis are usable on paper in this matchup, but the reality is that their low floors could ruin an otherwise perfectly good lineup. I'll be avoiding both.