WATCH: See who are this week’s DFS Edge conviction plays
Here’s a data-driven breakdown featuring five key NFL stats, courtesy of FantasyLabs contributor Bryan Mears.
FantasyLabs is a daily fantasy tool and real-time analytics platform that enables players to test theories, create and backtest models and construct customized lineups. In this piece, Mears leverages the same tools used by co-founders Jonathan Bales and Peter Jennings (CSURAM88) for the DraftKings divisional-round fantasy football main slate.
0.52 Fantasy Points Per Opportunity — Tom Brady
Brady and the Patriots are implied for a massive 30.8 points against the Titans, and they’re huge 13.5-point favorites, but that might not affect the offense: New England ranks second in the NFL this season in pace of play when leading by seven-plus points. Overall, the Patriots rank second in neutral pace, and the Titans rank sixth in defensive pace — they can be sped up on that side of the ball, which plays into New England’s hands.
Brady leads all QBs with 0.52 fantasy points per opportunity, and it’s quite possible he’ll have the most chances this weekend against a poor Titans defense.
83.7 Percent Market Share of Rushing Yards — Le’Veon Bell
Bell leads all running backs this week with 90.0 percent of his team’s rushing TDs, 83.7 percent of its rushing yards and 90.1 percent of its snaps over the past year. Those are especially impressive marks, considering he really hasn’t played in about a month.
The Steelers are coming off a first-round playoff bye, and Bell sat out in Week 17 after he had just 14 carries in a Week 16 blowout of the Texans. So he should be rested up, and the Steelers really could use him against a Jaguars defense that is perhaps historically great against the pass but weaker against the run (26th in rush DVOA). The Steelers barely used Bell on the ground in their early-season loss to the Jags (15 carries for 47 yards), but will they make that mistake again?
16.6 Yards Per Reception — Brandin Cooks
Cooks leads all wide receivers this week with 16.6 yards per reception over the past year. He is Brady’s biggest downfield threat, which seems like a good role in a Patriots offense that’s implied for a week-high 30.8 points. It’s an interesting matchup, though: On one hand, the Titans rank 24th in pass DVOA and don’t have a cornerback graded higher than 35th on the season. On the other hand, the Titans rank third on the season in defending deep passes.
Against a team similarly stout at limiting big plays — the Bills, who rank second against deep passes — Cooks went for just 4.5 and 4.2 DKFP in two meetings. Can he buck this trend, or will he disappoint as a chalky play?
23.1 Percent Market Share of Receiving Targets — Zach Ertz
Ertz leads all tight ends this weekend — yes, even Gronk — with 23.1 percent of his team’s targets over the past year. He’d likely be more popular in this slate if Carson Wentz was throwing to him, but he’s still getting targets with Eagles backup QB Nick Foles. In fact, of the QBs in this slate, only Marcus Mariota (27.6 percent) has thrown more often to his tight ends than Foles has (25.7 percent).
Ertz is quite affordable at $5,800, and he has a nice matchup against a Falcons team that ranks 19th in pass DVOA on the season.
3.4 Projected Sacks — Steelers Defense
We have been projecting sacks within our NFL Models this season, and the Steelers rank first by quite a bit, with 3.4 projected sacks this week against the Jaguars. The Steelers rank first with a 11.94 percent sack rate — even ahead of the Jags — and they’re behind only the Eagles with a 3.75 percent defensive touchdown rate.
Jacksonville QB Blake Bortles has thrown five interceptions and taken five sacks over his past three games. He threw for just 87 yards last week against Buffalo and now will face a Pittsburgh squad that’s even better against the pass, ranking eighth in DVOA this season. The Steelers’ defense should be a quite popular play this week.
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is bcm9795) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.