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Week 17 NFL DFS + Fantasy Football Matchups Breakdown Column With Matt Savoca

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Philip Rivers said that he has not 'completely ruled out' returning to the NFL if someone comes calling and the Colts could really us a quarterback...

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(44.5) Dallas Cowboys (23.5) @ New York Giants (21)

Quick-Hitter Game Summary:

  • If Washington loses in Week 17, the winner of this contest will represent the NFC East in the playoffs. The loser of this contest will almost certainly have a top-10 pick in the NFL draft.
  • This game has all the makings of an ugly late-season slugfest where points are at a premium. There’s limited shootout probability in this matchup, despite the playoff implications.
  • The Dallas defense has been exploitable all season, giving all the Giants primary weapons, Daniel Jones, Wayne Gallman, Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton solid median projections compared to their salary-based expectations. The Giants do not rank highly in the Awesemo top-stacks tool, indicate they’re better as standalone plays than as part of a game-stack.
  • The Awesemo projections are much less bullish on the Cowboys passing attack, but the Giants have struggled against wide receivers of late, allowing seventh-most schedule-adjusted fantasy points to opposing primary wide receivers. Amari Cooper has plenty of appeal as the 21st-highest salary wide receiver on the slate.

Data Deep-Dive:

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

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NFL DFS Upside Analysis:

Significant takeaways: Both of these offenses rank below league-average in pace of play, and the Giants rank well below league-average in pass rate in neutral situations, indicating they’re content running the ball in situations they really shouldn’t be. Andy Dalton‘s increased his efficiency as a passer over the last five weeks and ranks among the top 11 quarterbacks in per-play and per-pass efficiency.

Passing and Pace

Why look at passing at 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).

Week 17 NFL DFS Picks for daily fantasy football lineups on DraftKings and FanDuel based on expert analysis and projections

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

Why examine 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.

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.

NFL DFS Player Pool Picker

Significant takeaway: The Cowboys’ primary pieces all fall into the fairly-priced category, but CeeDee Lamb and Michael Gallup stand out as values compared to their salaries outside the top-30 wideouts. Gallup has led the team in weighted opportunity rating in recent weeks, but the Giants have done an excellent job in stopping tertiary weapons on the outside, ranking #1 in schedule-adjusted fantasy points allowed to the position group since Week 11.

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Dallas Cowboys NFL DFS Core Offenses
Team Player Positional Salary Rank FPTs/Gm Rank Expected FPTs/Gm Rank Defense vs. Position Expected Projection
DAL Andy Dalton, QB #15 #13 #9 #2 17 Fpts (QB15)
DAL Ezekiel Elliott, RB #11 #34 #23 #17 13.5 Fpts (RB13)
DAL Amari Cooper, WR #21 #21 #23 #16 14 Fpts (WR22)
DAL CeeDee Lamb, WR #33 #19 #27 #14 13.5 Fpts (WR25)
DAL Michael Gallup, WR #38 #35 #31 #1 12 Fpts (WR34)
New York Giants NFL DFS Core Offenses
Team Player Positional Salary Rank FPTs/Gm Rank Expected FPTs/Gm Rank Defense vs. Position Expected Projection
NYG Daniel Jones, QB #22 #25 #23 #16 16 Fpts (QB19)
NYG Sterling Shepard, WR #33 #47 #40 #20 13.5 Fpts (WR25)
NYG Wayne Gallman Jr., RB #29 #19 #22 #14 12 Fpts (RB18)
NYG Darius Slayton, WR #54 #98 #88 #23 6.5 Fpts (WR72)
NYG Evan Engram, TE #15 #14 #11 #2 9.5 Fpts (TE11)

NFL DFS Skill Position Values: Expected Points

Significant takeaway: The graph below perfectly illustrates why Ezekiel Elliott‘s season’s been so disappointing. Elliott’s expected fantasy points per game average absolutely trounces Wayne Gallman‘s, yet they’re producing fantasy points at almost an identical rate. Michael Gallup is surprisingly the top wideout in expected fantasy points. He’s looking like the clear best value on the Dallas offense this weekend.

Why examine expected fantasy 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.

 

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

Significant takeaway: Dalton Schultz, playing a full-time snap share and facing a Giants defense that ranks bottom-7 in schedule-adjusted fantasy points to tight ends is absolutely viable as a standalone piece or in an Andy Dalton stack. Schultz is one of the best values at his position, with a salary outside the top-20 tight ends.

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Dallas Cowboys NFL DFS Tournament Picks
Team Player Snap Share Opportunity Score Defense vs. Position Outlook: Value, MME-only, Look Elsewhere
DAL Dalton Schultz, TE 92% 90 #26 Value
DAL Tony Pollard, RB 44% 22 #17 MME-only
DAL Noah Brown, WR 20% 18 #1 Look Elsewhere
New York Giants NFL DFS Tournament Picks
Team Player Snap Share Opportunity Score Defense vs. Position Outlook: Value, MME-only, Look Elsewhere
NYG Golden Tate, WR 48% 54 #26 Look Elsewhere
NYG Alfred Morris, RB 17% 40 #14 Look Elsewhere
NYG Dion Lewis, RB 27% 57 #14 Look Elsewhere
NYG Kaden Smith, TE 52% 9 #2 Look Elsewhere

Final Thoughts

This matchup lacks shootout upside and doesn’t offer much for fantasy gamers, especially on a 15 game slate, but when factoring-in salary, the Dallas wideouts should absolutely be considered when building lineups this weekend. The Giants skill players should be used sparingly, but make decent enough salary-saving options, as well.

Prediction: Cowboys 27, Giants 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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