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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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(40) New York Jets (18.5) @ New England Patriots (21.5)

Quick-Hitter Game Summary:

  • On a slate with 15 games, most fantasy gamers in most contests should be looking elsewhere for fantasy production.
  • Wide receiver Jamison Crowder and presumed starting running back Ty Johnson are both plug-your-nose-and-play options at their respective positions. If the Jets’ two-game win streak isn’t a fluke, and their passing game as “figured it out” to an extent, Crowder would be the largest beneficiary, and he’s just $5,00o on the main slate.
  • Cam Newton, despite looking completely inept as a passer, still has some rushing upside this weekend, and has a projection that exceeds salary-based expectations going up against the Jets’ bottom-10 defense.
  • The Patriots’ running backs have very little upside in this matchup. James White looks like the best value of the bunch, but it’s completely reasonable for fantasy gamers to stay-away from this group entirely this Sunday.
  • The Jets defense, with the 25th-highest salary at the position, is also viable this weekend, though they’re projected for a surprisingly high 7% ownership on the main slate, fourth among all defensive units.

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: Cam Newton and Sam Darnold both operate run-oriented, slow, conservative offenses that focus on rely on efficiency in the running game to be successful, something neither team can accomplish on a consistent basis. From a pace and passing perspective, this game has one of the lowest shootout probabilities on the entire slate. Factor-in Newton’s woeful inaccuracy as a passer (he ranks 37th among qualified quarterbacks in completion percentage versus expectation since Week 11), and this may be the lowest-upside game environment for skill position players on the entire slate.

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: Ty Johnson and Jamison Crowder look like decent enough plays based on the data in the chart below, while quarterback Sam Darnold has an expected projection right in line with salary-based expectations. Based on his matchup against a struggling Jets’ secondary, Cam has a great matchup, in theory, but without being able to pass accurately at all, the high-quality matchup will likely be squandered by the former MVP. Jakobi Meyers and James White are acceptable but unexciting tournament options.

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New York Jets NFL DFS Core Offenses
Team Player Positional Salary Rank FPTs/Gm Rank Expected FPTs/Gm Rank Defense vs. Position Expected Projection
NYJ Sam Darnold, QB #27 #24 #24 #1 9.5 Fpts (QB26)
NYJ Ty Johnson, RB #47 #41 #47 #29 8 Fpts (RB33)
NYJ Jamison Crowder, WR #38 #32 #38 #13 10.5 Fpts (WR44)
NYJ Denzel Mims, WR #89 #83 #76 #5 7.5 Fpts (WR63)
NYJ Breshad Perriman, WR #80 #48 #52 #1 9 Fpts (WR51)
New England Patriots NFL DFS Core Offenses
Team Player Positional Salary Rank FPTs/Gm Rank Expected FPTs/Gm Rank Defense vs. Position Expected Projection
NE Cam Newton, QB #18 #21 #17 #29 19.5 Fpts (QB8)
NE Jakobi Meyers, WR #38 #41 #35 #12 12.5 Fpts (WR31)
NE James White, RB #41 #34 #39 #4 7.5 Fpts (RB36)
NE Damiere Byrd, WR #73 #59 #61 #23 9 Fpts (WR51)

NFL DFS Skill Position Values: Expected Points

Significant takeaway: With the top-3 running backs in expected fantasy points all slated to miss this contest, every single running back in this matchup is a stay-away for this article’s author. If you have to play a back from this game, Ty Johnson and James White stand-out as the safest options (but they’re not safe at all).

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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: Damien Harris has mild appeal if he suits-up, beyond that, stay away from these pieces this weekend.

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New York Jets NFL DFS Tournament Picks
Team Player Snap Share Opportunity Score Defense vs. Position Outlook: Value, MME-only, Look Elsewhere
NYJ Josh Adams, RB 11% 68 #29 Look Elsewhere
NYJ Chris Herndon, TE 71% 57 #5 Look Elsewhere
NYJ Braxton Berrios, WR 9% 71 #1 Look Elsewhere
New England Patriots NFL DFS Tournament Picks
Team Player Snap Share Opportunity Score Defense vs. Position Outlook: Value, MME-only, Look Elsewhere
NE N’Keal Harry, WR 61% 57 #11 Look Elsewhere
NE Damien Harris, RB (Q) 45% 71 #4 MME-Only
NE Sony Michel, RB 28% 42 #4 Look Elsewhere
NE Devin Asiasi, TE 59% 45 #32 Look Elsewhere
NE Jakob Johnson, RB 46% 32 #4 Look Elsewhere
NE Dalton Keene, TE 37% 43 #32 Look Elsewhere

Final Thoughts

Unless playing in a massive-field tournament like the Millionaire-Maker, save yourself the trouble and cross this game off of your list. Cam Newton’s rushing upside is soured by his struggles as a passer as the year winds-down. Newton’s inefficiency along with the Jets’ ineptitude (regardless of their “winning streak”) helps cement this game as a low-upside slugfest, as the bottom-dwellers of the AFC East limp into offseason.

Prediction: Patriots 21, Jets 20


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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