Welcome to the Fantasy Football Playoffs! Even though daily fantasy sports (DFS) is completely immune to the format of a traditional fantasy football league, we are heading into the portion of the season where the stakes are high for several NFL teams. With those high stakes comes the opportunity to make a lot of money. We have 13 weeks of in-season data at our disposal so I feel our models will have significant predictive power. Before I delve into my roster construction, here are the outputs from my QB and DST models.
So what are you looking at with the first table? I ranked all 30 QBs for tomorrow and Monday by descending order of predicted DraftKings (DK) score. You will also find the DK ratio. That means I divided my predicted DK score by the DK salary and then multiply by 1000. That way we get our "DK multiplier". I do the same thing for FanDuel (FD) ratio. FYI, I tend to use the predicted DK score for FD predictions. I also predicted the number of passing plays for each team. That data comes from TeamRankings.com and I use the following formula.
((team's total offensive plays per game + opponent's total defensive plays)/2) times
(team's % of offensive plays that are passes + opponent's % of defensive plays that are passes)/2
I then take the predicted number of passing plays and multiply it by the average DK points per pass attempt as well as the average FD points per pass attempt. You can find such data on the Advanced Sports Analytics (ASA) site. The link is below as well as the data.
Based on my model and Team Rankings/ASA analysis, the top 4 QBs for tomorrow's main slate are Aaron Rodgers, Patrick Mahomes, Russell Wilson, and Tom Brady. However, I will be fading Mahomes. Unless he is expected to attempt 40 or more passes, I won't pay his high price. His DK multiplier is quite low and the best way to beat the Dolphins is on the ground, not through the air. In fact Miami has the 6th best pass defense DVOA but 24th ranked rush defense DVOA (courtesy of FootballOutsider.com). Instead I will consider Matthew Stafford in place of Mahomes. The Lions and Packers have the highest Vegas point total and I expect the Lions to be playing from behind often in a potential shootout in Motor City. Stafford has the 2nd highest DK multiplier from my model output.
Down below is plethora of data from the ASA site. I generated three data visuals for Rodgers, Stafford, and Brady and five for Wilson (two extra ones since he has two very good receivers). One of those visuals is correlation analysis table for the QB and his offensive weapons (2020 season data). Another table is more correlation analysis (2020 season data) but between the QB and the opposition's offensive players (clustered by position) as well as the QB's top pass catcher(s) and the opposition. Lastly, you will find a scatterplot/regression fit between the QB and his top pass catcher(s) dating back to 2018 (or 2019 if the WR was a rookie in 2019). You may want to make yourself a cup of coffee right now and come back to simmer over this data. It is a lot but very important to consider.
So what can we glean from this data? Rodgers and Adams correlate very well and have had several high scoring games together since 2018. In fact there are 5 games in which both Rodgers and Adams each had 30+ DK points. I counted another 8 games where the combined DK score for both players was at least 50 points. Even though Rodgers and Adams are both very expensive players, getting at least 50 combined points would translate to 3x value which is what you typically need to reach the cash line in both cash games and GPPs. So why pair both of them this weekend? The Lions play man coverage close to 50% of the time and are terrible at it. The Lions allow 8.68 yards per pass attempt while in man coverage which is the worst in the NFL. Meanwhile, Rodgers ranks 2nd in QB rating against man coverage and Adams ranks 2nd in receiving yards per game against man coverage. The data below is all the evidence you need (courtesy of Sports Info Solutions).
You will also notice that Wilson and DK Metcalf are among the leaders in the tables above. The Jets are also bad against man coverage and have been burned by big receivers lately. Just look at the box scores for Keenan Allen, Darren Waller, Tim Patrick, Travis Kelce, and Tim Patrick. If there ever were a get right game for Wilson and Metcalf this season, tomorrow is the one. However, the Jets don't play man coverage as much as the Lions and are considered more of a zone team (based on the table above). So how are the Jets with zone coverage and how do Wilson and Metcalf perform against zone defenses? The Jets are even worse in zone and Wilson and Metcalf are even better against zone! The Jets allow the most yards per pass attempt while playing zone while Wilson has the 2nd highest QB rating facing zone and Metcalf is 1st in air yards against the zone. More evidence from the Sports Info Solutions site!
Tyler Lockett is also very good against zone coverage and correlates much better with Wilson. However, I can't ignore Metcalf's amazing physical attributes: 6'4", 229 pounds, and 4.33 40 time. Maybe we run multiple lineups with either pass catcher and Wilson but I would not roster both Lockett and Metcalf. The scatterplot below shows that when one does well, the other is silent. This dates back to 2019 so the sample size is reliable.
As for Brady and Stafford (along with their top pass catchers), I like them due to their low ownership numbers. I haven't featured the ownership app from ASA but I think now is the time we do. For most of this season, Rodgers and Wilson (as well as Adams, Lockett, and Metcalf) have been more popular choices. I chose to look at the Wildcat GPPs on DK since it's high stakes given the high entry fee. You tend to get better DFS players in that tournament so this gives us a good idea of how those who take DFS seriously are valuing these QBs. The tables and plots provide some helpful information when ensuring that our lineups are unique.
I am not advising that you fade the Green Bay and Seattle stacks but just keep in mind that they will be very popular tomorrow, especially since they are playing weak teams. If you go with Rodgers or Wilson, just make sure the rest of your lineup is unique. Tampa Bay and Detroit stacks could pay off very nicely if they perform and have low ownership as the data above suggests. The table below from the ASA site tells us that we are making a good decision with the WRs in our stacks since they have high snap counts, target shares, and air yards shares.
I would also suggest you pair the opposition's top pass catcher when building these stacks. Green Bay - Detroit is easy. We know that I like Adams and Jones. For Tampa Bay's opponent, I am going with Justin Jefferson. Tampa Bay has been burned by Tyreek Hill, Cooper Kupp, and Robert Woods in their last 2 games so imagine what a stud athlete like Jefferson can do. For Seattle's opponent, that is trickier but I will settle on Breshad Perriman who played very well at this time last year and provides much needed salary relief.
We haven't discussed RBs yet. Since we are paying up for our QB/WR stacks, we will need to be frugal with the ground attack. Still, I can't ignore Derrick Henry and Aaron Jones. Most teams tend to find success running the ball out of the 1-2 personnel formation (1 RB and 2 TEs). The data from the Sports Info Solutions site indicates that we Henry and Jones perform well in those offensive packages while the Jaguars and Lions struggle to stop anyone when trying to defend the 1-2 formation.
Still, we need cheap RBs. I like David Montgomery and Myles Gaskin again. They each should have high snap counts and face weak rush defenses. I will also consider Duke Johnson again with David Johnson out. Just use him on DK instead of FD.
Lastly, I will be saving money on defense. I will simply go with the unit that has the most favorable salary per predicted point ratio. For DK that would be the 49ers and for FD that would be the Panthers. Washington is without Antonio Gibson which will make them more limited on offense. Denver's offense is awful and Carolina's defense has shined the last 2 weeks. How they are priced so low on FD is criminal.
Here are four sample lineups I am very happy about. I feel I can win big tomorrow. Like in the thousands of dollars range. I hope you do too! Good luck and let's get some big money before the holiday season is over!