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




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

Matt Savoca’s Daily Fantasy Football Matchups Column returns for Week 16 of the NFL DFS season. In it, he goes through every single game on the NFL DFS main slate on Sundays for your season-long fantasy football lineups on Yahoo, ESPN and CBS and your NFL DFS picks on DraftKings and FanDuel. There are 10 games on tap for Week 16, so let’s dive into the action.

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Table of Contents

Week 16 NFL DFS Matchups Breakdown

Daily Fantasy Football Matchups: Early Games

New York Giants at Baltimore Ravens

Cleveland Browns at New York Jets

Chicago Bears at Jacksonville Jaguars

Indianapolis Colts at Pittsburgh Steelers

Houston Texans at Cincinnati Bengals

Atlanta Falcons at Kansas City Chiefs

Daily Fantasy Football Matchups: Afternoon Games

Carolina Panthers at Washington Football Team

Denver Broncos at Los Angeles Chargers

Seattle Seahawks at Los Angeles Rams

Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys

(44) New York Giants (17) @ Baltimore Ravens (27)

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

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).

Not unexpectedly, both the Ravens and Giants operate run-oriented offense with a pace of play right around league average. The Ravens, as they’ve proven time and time again, are outliers, as they’re the rare team that can light up the scoreboard without relying on passing or fast-paced play, but don’t expect New York to push the tempo in this contest either.

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.

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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.

While it’s obvious from this chart that Daniel Jones gives the Giants a much better pass to win than Colt McCoy, it’s also obvious that Lamar Jackson, even in a down year efficiency-wise, is on a different planet than either Giants’ quarterback. The only person who can hold back Jackson from being the most efficient passer in this game is Lamar Jackson; all he needs to focus on is limiting his mistakes as a passer (in the chart on the right, Jackson is just league average on a per-pass basis), and he should have a monster game this weekend.

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.

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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 Colt McCoy, QB #18 #21 #29 #25 10 Fpts (QB20)
NYG Wayne Gallman Jr., RB #18 #9 #17 #30 13.5 Fpts (RB6)
NYG Sterling Shepard, WR #32 #44 #50 #17 9.5 Fpts (WR34)
NYG Darius Slayton, WR #44 #66 #83 #28 7 Fpts (WR55)
NYG Evan Engram, TE #10 #9 #10 #23 10 Fpts (TE7)

The Ravens rank shockingly low in these position-centric defensive metrics. The Ravens ranked in the top-10 against quarterbacks and wide receivers a year ago, but it appears injuries have caught up with them this season. The Baltimore struggles against teams with three legitimate receiving weapons, and if the Giants’ offense has anything, it’s that. Evan Engram has a particularly strong expected projection, even compared to his seventh-highest tight end salary on the main slate.

Baltimore Ravens NFL DFS Core Offenses

Team Player Positional Salary Rank FPTs/Gm Rank Expected FPTs/Gm Rank Defense vs. Position Expected Projection
BAL Lamar Jackson, QB #2 #2 #6 #2 19.5 Fpts (QB7)
BAL J.K. Dobbins, RB #13 #13 #26 #24 13 Fpts (RB7)
BAL Marquise Brown, WR #17 #33 #50 #14 9.5 Fpts (WR34)
BAL Mark Andrews, TE #2 #2 #4 #20 10.5 Fpts (TE6)
BAL Gus Edwards, RB #29 #15 #32 #24 11 Fpts (RB16)

The Giants have managed to contain opposing quarterbacks for the most part in the second half of the season, but Lamar Jackson remains a strong floor play this week, despite an expected projection that ranks him lower than salary-based expectations. With New York ranking in the bottom-10 in the league in schedule-adjusted fantasy points allowed to running backs, fantasy gamers can feel comfortable slotting-in any of three primary ball-carriers (Jackson, Dobbins, Edwards). Mark Andrews seems like a significantly stronger play than Marquise Brown, based on the table above.

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.

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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.

Wayne Gallman looks like a fine contrarian play this weekend. Gallman, from an overall opportunity standpoint, will likely be the highest-volume running back in this contest, and New York has committed to Gallman at the goal line, with Gallman averaging over one carry from inside the ten per game over the last five weeks. If Gallman’s workload shouldn’t be interested. J.K. Dobbins remains the lead-dog of the Baltimore backfield (besides Lamar Jackson), but Hus Edwards continues to have a significant role, averaging just one less quality opportunity per game than Dobbins over the last five weeks.

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.

The chart above does a great job of visualizing the relatively consolidated nature of Baltimore’s low-volume passing attack, with a significant number of the receiving upside captured by Mark Andrews and Marquise Brown. Only Willie Snead looks like a consistent third contributor with upside, but Snead very likely needs multiple scores to be a worthy play this weekend. For the Giants, Evan Engram and Sterling Shepard seem to have relatively high ceilings in this spot, but Darius Slayton and Golden Tate easily could earn equal volume to either player. If McCoy starts once again, New York’s receivers can be avoided in all contests except large-field tournaments.

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.

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 49% 54 #20 MME-only
NYG Alfred Morris, RB 20% 40 #30 Look Elsewhere
NYG Dion Lewis, RB 26% 57 #30 Look Elsewhere
NYG Kaden Smith, TE 55% 10 #23 Look Elsewhere

Baltimore Ravens NFL DFS Tournament Picks

Team Player Snap Share Opportunity Score Defense vs. Position Outlook: Value, MME-only, Look Elsewhere
BAL Willie Snead, WR 69% 80 #19 Look Elsewhere
BAL Miles Boykin, WR 46% 37 #1 Look Elsewhere
BAL Dez Bryant, WR 35% 41 #1 Look Elsewhere
BAL Devin Duvernay, WR 41% 37 #1 Look Elsewhere
BAL Justice Hill, RB 12% 51 #24 Look Elsewhere

With this matchup likely focused on dueling ground-games, the tertiary receivers don’t look particularly enticing, with the Giants’ Golden Tate being the sole exception. Tate’s 49% snap share makes him a thin play this weekend, nonetheless

Final Thoughts

The Ravens should win this game easily, and that makes all of their core weaponry viable in daily fantasy football lineups, but the Giants ranking better than expected against the pass, and the Ravens falling below league-average in the same metrics, creates opportunities for contrarian game stacks that involve Baltimore rushers (including Jackson) with Giants’ receivers.

Prediction: Ravens 28, Giants 17

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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