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

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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

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(52.5) Atlanta Falcons (21) @ Kansas City Chiefs (31.5)

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

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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).

To the surprise of exactly no one, this matchup sticks-out as a potential shootout in a way no other game on the slate does. There’s a reason this is the highest Vegas total game of the main slate, both teams are pass-oriented and play fast compared to NFL averages. That’s ideal for fantasy gamers.

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.

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.

As usual, Patrick Mahomes finds himself in the top-10 in nearly every statistical passing category, and this chart, which only includes the last five weeks, doesn’t fully encapsulate Mahomes’ ceiling potential on a per-drive, per-play, and per-pass basis. Matt Ryan has struggled in the second half of the season, as he now ranks well-below league average in efficiency across the board. He’s been a major disappointment for fantasy gamers this season.

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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.

Atlanta Falcons NFL DFS Core Offenses

Team Player Positional Salary Rank FPTs/Gm Rank Expected FPTs/Gm Rank Defense vs. Position Expected Projection
ATL Matt Ryan, QB #10 #12 #9 #28 19.5 Fpts (QB7)
ATL Calvin Ridley, WR #2 #6 #5 #16 18 Fpts (WR4)
ATL Julio Jones, WR #8 #11 #18 #12 14 Fpts (WR12)
ATL Russell Gage, WR #23 #49 #46 #27 10.5 Fpts (WR29)
ATL Ito Smith, RB #35 #30 #49 #27 8 Fpts (RB24)
ATL Hayden Hurst, TE #13 #18 #22 #31 9 Fpts (TE10)

With no guarantees that Julio Jones suits up for the Falcons, Calvin Ridley once again has top-overall receiver upside in this matchup, but his expected projection ranks him slightly lower than salary-based expectation.  The Chiefs have struggled against secondary options over the past five weeks, making Russell Gage and Hayden Hurst both viable in this matchup where plenty of points are to be expected.

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Kansas City Chiefs NFL DFS Core Offenses

Team Player Positional Salary Rank FPTs/Gm Rank Expected FPTs/Gm Rank Defense vs. Position Expected Projection
KC Patrick Mahomes, QB #1 #1 #2 #21 27.5 Fpts (QB1)
KC Travis Kelce, TE #1 #1 #1 #4 27.5 Fpts (TE1)
KC Tyreek Hill, WR #1 #1 #1 #27 30 Fpts (WR1)
KC Le’Veon Bell, RB #16 #24 #43 #2 4 Fpts (RB44)
KC Sammy Watkins, WR #24 #55 #68 #22 8.5 Fpts (WR43)

The Patrick Mahomes plus Travis Kelce plus Tyreek Hill stack, as is the case every week they’re on the main slate, is the highest-upside stack of players in the NFL, and that’s why it’s the highest-salary three-player stack there is. Fit any and all of them into any lineup, whenever you possibly can. With Clyde Edwards-Helaire lost for at least the final two games of the season, Le’Veon Bell is absolutely viable as an every-down back on the most explosive offense in the league. Sammy Watkins is closer to a tournament-only play the foundational roster piece, but he absolutely has two-touchdown upside in this matchup as well.

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.

 

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.

Brian Hill, along with Ito Smith, have supplanted Todd Gurley as the co-leaders of the Atlanta backfield. Hill has more upside at this point in the season than Gurley.

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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.

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.

Atlanta Falcons NFL DFS Tournament Picks

Team Player Snap Share Opportunity Score Defense vs. Position Outlook: Value, MME-only, Look Elsewhere
ATL Brian Hill, RB 31% 17 #27 MME-only
ATL Todd Gurley, RB 41% 63 #27 Look Elsewhere
ATL Keith Smith, RB 21% 3 #27 Look Elsewhere
ATL Luke Stocker, TE 45% 1 #31 Look Elsewhere

Kansas City Chiefs NFL DFS Tournament Picks

Team Player Snap Share Opportunity Score Defense vs. Position Outlook: Value, MME-only, Look Elsewhere
KC Darrel Williams, RB 22% 2 #2 MME-only
KC Mecole Hardman, WR 40% 37 #29 MME-only
KC Demarcus Robinson, WR 64% 33 #29 MME-only
KC Deon Yelder, TE 19% 0 #4 Look Elsewhere

With the Falcons struggling against wide receivers across the board, ranking 29th in schedule-adjusted fantasy points allowed to the position, Mecole Hardman and Demarcus Robinson can absolutely be paired with Patrick Mahomes in large-field tournaments. Brian Hill makes some sense for Atlanta, but Ito Smith is clearly running ahead of Hill, and Todd Gurley continues to mix-in.

Final Thoughts

Get ready for fireworks, fantasy gamers. The Chiefs and Falcons rank 1-2 in Awesemo’s top stack probability rankings, meaning we should expect plenty of passing and points in this matchup. Don’t be afraid to dial-up Matt Ryan as a salary-saving option, then pairing him with multiple Chiefs receivers. to create a contrarian lineup that builds around this likely shootout at Arrowhead.

Prediction: Chiefs 31, Falcons 21


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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