We only have two teams on a bye this week. It’s a welcome sight after dealing with six byes in Week 7. Betting responsibly is always the first step toward maximizing profits. This is a waiting game. Think of DFS as an invading army utilizing a war of attrition on the enemy barricaded within a castle. Your opponent may have walls, the high ground keeping them safe. We know the riches inside will be ours as soon as the food and water supplies are exhausted. The absolute worst move we can make is to squander all of our resources at the opponent in a single, futile attack.
Base the amount you put on the line each week on your bankroll. Determine a percentage that you would be willing to lose each week. But you are wagering far too much if losing the entirety of that amount would cripple your bankroll for future slates/weeks. If we were simply dealing with binary code, all variability would be eliminated. But living, breathing athletes will always have the final say over any scouting or statistical process. Busted coverages and/or a string of unexpected broken tackles can lead to results nobody on Earth can predict. However, we are not in competition with football players. We only need to outthink the field in our preparation.
In Cash/Single Entry (SE), we must follow the ownership projections very closely. If 25-50% of the field is on a specific player, we will fall below the cash line if that player hits and we fade. It’s better that we roster the individuals with the highest anticipated ownership determined using every tool available to us. When dealing with large-field GPPs, the contrarian will rule the day. Identifying the individuals with the highest upside, lowest projected ownerships will differentiate your lineups toward striking oil when the cards fall in your favor.
You’ll see a number of coverage metrics throughout this series. The following chart provides the full names for the acronyms and the average numbers for each position group:
If you’d like to learn more about/refresh yourself with each of the defensive coverage shells and other relevant schematic details mentioned throughout this series, utilize the following resources:
Fantasy Shells: Coverage Glossary
Fantasy Shells: Cover 1
Fantasy Shells: Cover 2
Fantasy Shells: Cover 3
Fantasy Shells: Cover 4
*22-24 (48%); 4-4 in Week 7
Arizona Cardinals (-6.5) vs. Green Bay Packers
Buffalo Bills (-13.5) vs. Miami Dolphins
Los Angeles Rams (14.5) at Houston Texans
Tennessee Titans (-1.0) at Indianapolis Colts
Detroit Lions (+3.5) vs. Philadelphia Eagles
Chicago Bears (+3.5) vs. San Francisco 49ers
New England Patriots (+5.5) at Los Angeles Chargers
New Orleans Saints (+5.5) vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Minnesota Vikings (+2.5) vs. Dallas Cowboys
New York Giants (+10.0) at Kansas City Chiefs
*17-18 (49%); 3-3 in Week 7
Cincinnati Bengals at New York Jets (Over 43.0)
Los Angeles Rams at Houston Texans (Under 47.5)
Tennessee Titans at Indianapolis Colts (Over 50.5)
Philadelphia Eagles at Detroit Lions (Under 48.5)
Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns (Over 42.0)
Carolina Panthers at Atlanta Falcons (Over 45.5)
New England Patriots at Los Angeles Chargers (Under 49.0)
Washington Football Team at Denver Broncos (Over 43.5)
Dallas Cowboys at Minnesota Vikings (Over 55.0)
*31-11 (74%); 8-4 in Week 7
Arizona Cardinals (-280) vs. Green Bay Packers
Cincinnati Bengals (-475) at New York Jets
Buffalo Bills (-900) vs. Miami Dolphins
Los Angeles Rams (-955) at Houston Texans
Tennessee Titans (-115) at Indianapolis Colts
Cleveland Browns (-190) vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
San Francisco 49ers (-170) at Chicago Bears
New England Patriots (+185) at Los Angeles Chargers
Seattle Seahawks (-180) vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-240) at New Orleans Saints
Denver Broncos (-160) vs. Washington Football Team
Minnesota Vikings (+125) vs. Dallas Cowboys
Kansas City Chiefs (-425) vs. New York Giants
Matchups to Target
James Conner, ARI ($5.4K DK | $6.1K FD) vs. Packers’ Cover 4 | 6
All things being equal, I stay away from plodding backs without receiving upside. Through seven games, fading James Conner has mostly been justified. He fell below value last week in a smash spot against Houston. But this game is not setting up as equal. Green Bay will be vastly undermanned on offense. With six TDs over his last five games, any time we see hints of a handicapped offense, those plodders come back into play.
We can look at the Packers ranking 19th in FPG to RBs but, more importantly, consider they’ve played the sixth-easiest schedule this season. Opposing offenses have not had the luxury of riding their RBs in games against Green Bay. If we invest, we definitely don’t want to see the same carry share for Conner as last week (27%). But a showing with a 40-50% share could pay dividends in the TD department. Let’s not get too carried away with our expectations, but his pricing only requires 16.2/15.3 FPs before we hit profit.
Christian Kirk, ARI ($5.1K DK | $6.4K FD) vs. Packers’ Cover 4 | 6
Chandon Sullivan has performed admirably since Jaire Alexander landed on IR. He currently ranks 16th-best among nickelbacks in YPCS, 18th in FP/CS, 12th in AY/CS, and 18th in TPR. My expectations were very low, yet he’s performed above the 50th percentile of qualified slot corners. With Arizona running out 10 personnel at twice the rate as the next team on the list, alignment percentages tell us Sullivan will meet up with Christian Kirk on around half of his routes. Kirk has submitted an excellent campaign to date. He ranks 12th-best in FPs/route (FP/Rt) at 0.521, 17th in yards/route (YPRR) at 2.24, and 19th with a 127.8 TPR.
Kirk is only on the field for 72% of team passing plays (51st) and is only provided with an 18% target share (43rd), so we need to pick-and-choose his matchups wisely. This happens to be one of the wise ones. Green Bay is using Cover 4 at the fifth-highest rate and Cover 6 at the seventh. Over the last three seasons, Kirk ranks 20th with 0.40 FP/Rt against Cover 4 and 17th against Cover 6 (0.43). Both averages lead Arizona wideouts. On 22% of his routes when facing those two coverage schemes, Kirk has generated 25% of his receptions, 30% of his yardage, and 38% of his total TDs during that stretch of time. Even with Sullivan roaming Kirk’s areas of attack, he’ll be forced to play from less than a full deck against Kirk’s specialties.
Matchups to Avoid
Aaron Rodgers, GB ($7.4K DK | $7.7K FD) vs. Cardinals’ Cover 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 6
Consider this writeup as a basic evaluation of the challenge on deck for the Packers’ offense. In my view, Investing in miracles does not build a bankroll. If you are a tad surprised at Arizona favored by 6.5 points, the absences of Davante Adams and Allen Lazard — both needing miracles to gain clearance from COVID-19 positives to be active — should be underlined in red. The pair accounted for 45% of the total yardage and 58% of the scoring last week against Washington. Consider that 32% of all of Aaron Rodgers’ targets and 44% of his passing yardage will sit on sidelines with Adams on Sunday. The beneficial impact of Adams’ presence on his skill position teammates cannot be understated. If we were dealing with an underwhelming opponent or at least hosting the game on Lambeau Field, we would at least have some factors in our favor toward projecting success.
Rodgers’ QB5 pricing on DK is complete avoid territory. At full strength, QB10 pricing on FD would be enticing. But the likelihood that Rodgers meets or exceeds the 22.2/19.3 scoring floor is shaping up as the very definition of risk. Let’s completely disregard the fact that the Cardinals have limited opposing offenses to the third-fewest FPG in the last four weeks — two of which were the Rams and Browns. And let’s also look past the Cards limiting QBs to the second-fewest pure passing FPG this season. Who is going to fill in the gap for Rodgers? Aaron Jones? Yes, he is likely to do well with added volume. Will it be an efficient usage? I have my doubts.
Marquez Valdes-Scantling ($3.6K/$5.0K)? MVS appears set to return from a hamstring injury. Even if he is peppered with volume, if the alignment percentages hold up, half of his routes will be defended by 2021 breakout corner Robert Alford. He is closing his coverage down to the tune of 0.62 YPCS (fourth-best), 0.19 FP/CS (11th), 0.16 AY/CS (first), and a 78.2 TPR (17th). Randall Cobb ($3.5K/$5.3K)? Byron Murphy’s 1.52 YPCS (34th), 0.28 FP/CS (28th), and 0.31 AY/CS (34th) allowances do not scream closedown service. But his 60.0 TPR (third-best) informs us that a large chunk of the production he’s allowed has come from a handful of big plays. Connections of 64, 39, 35, 24, and 22 to be exact (62% of his total allowed). If Rodgers is relying on Equanimeous St. Brown ($3.0K/$4.6K), Green Bay is in serious trouble.
Mr. Rodgers’ last hope could be Robert Tonyan ($3.8K/$5.4K). Arizona safeties have locked down opposing TEs to 5.5 FPG this season… 24% less than the next best on the list (New England). From my perspective, the Packers will give the Cardinals a good run before being overtaken in the second half. Arizona will cover the spread and Rodgers will score in the neighborhood of 15-17 FPs.
Final notes on Green Bay
Receiving RBs have fared the best against the Cardinals’ defense. But they’ve still limited them to the 13th-fewest pure receiving FPG (9.8). Even with my coverage algorithm not factoring in the WR absences, it’s projecting Aaron Jones ($6.9K/$8.0K) for 15 FPs. If you want to tack on five additional points from the increased volume, he’s still under value on DK and right at his floor on FD. Several RBs within Jones’ price range have far more appealing matchups. I am a massive AJ Dillon ($4.2K/$5.1K) proponent. But he has not looked good the last two weeks. If MVS is able to get in enough work across from Marco Wilson, he’s going to make mincemeat of his 10.8/12.5 floor. He is setting up as a solid, but not without risk, value with pricing as the WR85/WR93.
Final notes on Arizona
If you have the cap to spare, Kyler Murray ($8.3K/$8.5K) is priced highly for a reason. Chase Edmonds ($5.3K/$5.8K) does most of his work between the 20’s, doesn’t score, and the high probability for a positive script doesn’t help his receiving upside. Check the status of DeAndre Hopkins ($7.4K/$7.7K) prior to gametime (hamstring). The Cardinals are stacked at WR with Kirk, A.J. Green ($4.9K/$5.6K), and Rondale Moore ($4.0K/$5.4K) ready for volume increases if Nuk is ruled inactive. No coverage scheme exists that’s stood in the way of Hopkins. You do not need me to approve exposure, provided he’s active. Loving this offense with the addition of Zach Ertz ($4.4K/$5.7K). Ertz benefits from a level of surrounding WR talent that he has not played with in recent memory. He could conceivably produce as a top-five TE over the rest of the season. The Pack has played TEs very well, but they’ve yet to defend anything close to the firepower of Arizona this season.