Game Overview ::
- Arizona has a tremendous matchup against the pushover defense of the Lions; they will continue to focus on the short-area passing attack, and are also set up well to attack on the ground
- The Lions return Kenny Golladay to the field this week, and they will look to keep pace in this game by hoping to take away Kyler’s rushing upside and attacking downfield when they have the ball
- This game isn’t quite the slam dunk we had last week with Atlanta and Dallas; but most signs point to points piling up
- Due to a variety of factors, I’m not quite as high on players from this game as others may end up being; but there is certainly plenty to like, and there are at least a few players I’ll be eyeing this week
How Arizona will try to win ::
As with last year, Arizona has been focused on the short areas of the field when passing the ball. Through two weeks, Kyler Murray is 3 for 12 on passes that have traveled 15+ yards downfield, and 42 of his 52 completions have come within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage. DeAndre Hopkins has an average depth of target of only 5.9 (shockingly low for a player of his caliber), and Larry Fitzgerald has turned 11 catches into only 84 yards (7.6 yards per catch; to put that in context, think of all the receivers we come across each week whose average depth of target alone is deeper than that). This isn’t to say that Arizona won’t attack downfield; but so far, their downfield looks have gone to Andy Isabella and Christian Kirk, who have only two and nine targets, respectively (an obnoxious setup for DFS: the guys with the valuable downfield roles are seeing the fewest targets, while the guys who are soaking up all the looks are working exclusively short-area so far).
On the ground, Arizona has a great matchup against a Lions defense that has allowed the second most running back rushing yards in the league. This is unsustainable, of course, but it’s kind of funny :: here’s a look at the yards allowed per carry by the Lions on different types of runs (per Sharp Football Stats) ::
The Cardinals will play fast (third in situation neutral pace), work the short areas of the field through the air, and mix in Kenyan Drake (so far: 16 carries and two targets || 20 carries and two targets) against a Lions defense that ranks 24th in DVOA against the pass and 32nd in DVOA against the run.
How Detroit will try to win ::
Arizona has looked fine so far on defense — but they have faced only the run + short-area attack of the 49ers and the Haskins-crippled attack of the Washington Football Team. This week, Arizona will take on Matthew Stafford, Marvin Jones, and a healthy Kenny Golladay. Stafford is averaging 9.1 intended air yards per attempt, and this number should only go up with Golladay back on the field.
When Arizona has the ball, the Lions will look to force the Cardinals to win through the air and/or on the ground away from Kyler (i.e., they’ll aim to make this Arizona offense more one-dimensional by cutting off paths to Kyler runs), and it is worth noting that Detroit has been one of the tougher teams for quarterbacks to run on over the last couple years. This could limit some of the explosiveness the Cardinals have (this will be the hope for the Lions, of course), while allowing Detroit to attack downfield with Golladay and Jones in the hopes of playing this game from in front.
Likeliest Game Flow ::
Neither of these defenses is great. The Cardinals have allowed 27+ points in 10 of their last 18 games, while the Lions have allowed 27+ in nine of 18. Furthermore, the Cardinals have an offense that is designed to maximize points, while the Lions have an offense designed to attack downfield.
When a high-total game comes with an offense that attacks primarily in the short areas (which is the case with this Arizona team), I’m always a bit wary, as this requires us to bet on consistency at a higher level than is necessarily comfortable (i.e., if Arizona is less likely to hit for big plays, they need to be really consistent from top to bottom). But against a Lions defense that looks like an absolute pushover, Arizona should be able to execute well enough to continue putting up points; and with Detroit likely to attack downfield in response, they should be able to stay within striking distance for much of this game.
As with the other high-total spot on this slate (Dallas // Seattle), this isn’t quite the slam dunk we had last week with the Cowboys and Falcons; but most paths in this game lead to scoring, and each offense has a narrow enough distribution of touches that there is plenty to look forward to in DFS.
DFS+ Interpretation ::
With Golladay set to make his season debut for the Lions, he’s the first player who will be drawing my eye in this game that should see the Cardinals scoring points, and should see the Lions throwing downfield in order to keep pace. Last season, Golladay finished below eight targets only once with Stafford, and the general tendency in the DFS community to “wait until we’ve seen a player” before rostering him should leave ownership lower than it should be here. Golladay’s downfield role and red zone dominance (13 targets inside the 10-yard-line last year; most in the NFL // six receiving touchdowns inside the 10-yard-line last year; tied for most in the NFL) give him a ton of upside in this spot.
The next player who stands out here is Kenyan Drake, who played 50/77 snaps last week (64.9% — right in line with his typical range), and who has a fantastic matchup in a spot where he should again be in line for 18 to 20 touches. Without many schemed targets in the pass game, and with Kyler robbing some rushing plays near the end zone, Drake is going to remain a bit boom/bust (making him better suited to tourneys than to cash); but his “boom” upside is high enough to make up for whatever risk exists on this play.
The next place I’m looking in this game is both quarterbacks. With Kyler’s price rising, I’m a bit cautious here, as the Lions — for all their talent deficiencies — have been one of the better teams in the league under Matt Patricia at slowing running quarterbacks (11th fewest QB rushing yards allowed last year; second fewest the year before). This makes sense, as Patricia is opponent-specific enough to design his game plan around slowing the rushing upside of a player like Kyler — though it should obviously be noted that Kyler has enough of a talent edge to pop off for long gains regardless. Arizona is, of course, a short-area passing attack, so you’re targeting Kyler rushes and/or big efficiency on downfield looks in order to maximize upside here; but the matchup and game environment are both good enough that Kyler should ultimately succeed in the box score one way or another. Stafford, of course, is a little less attractive with his low rushing ceiling; but after tracking on pace through the first eight games a year ago for the NFL lead in touchdown passes (and the second most passing yards) before getting injured, there is a lot to like here with the Cardinals’ dangerous offense on the other side of this game and Golladay back on the field.
The obvious next piece here is DeAndre Hopkins — whom I’ll continue avoiding, I imagine, as he carries a hefty price tag for a player seeing his work so close to the line of scrimmage (especially given that his ownership only accounts for the box score he produced in Week 1, rather than accounting for his role; i.e., if the field were being overly cautious here, I’d potentially jump on this spot for the low-owned upside; but with the field almost certain to be overweight on this play, I’ll lean toward the data and trust that Hopkins will fall shy of salary-based expectations far more often than not with his targets coming so short), but he is always in the upside discussion; and while you can also consider “exposing yourself to Hopkins’ upside by rostering Kyler naked,” Hopkins also makes for a natural stacking partner on Kyler-QB rosters.
Beyond these pieces on the Cardinals, we have the low-upside usage of Fitzgerald and the low-floor usage of Kirk. I would view both of these guys as “roster as part of blocks built around this game, and otherwise avoid” pieces. Same goes for Marvin Jones and T.J. Hockenson on the other side — each of whom can certainly hit for a big game, but each of whom works better as a hedge off heavy Golladay exposure than as an isolated piece. If going to one of these two in isolated fashion, Hockenson — against the tight-end-susceptible defense of the Cardinals — would be the preferred play.
Finally: the Lions’ backfield is off limits outside of just completely guessing. Five different running backs saw the field for this team last week. Repeat: five different running backs saw the field for this team last week!
- Without Golladay so far in 2020, Stafford’s league-leading 22% 20+yd pass percentage has fallen to 10.7%
- In a weird coincidence, ARI’s first two opposing QBs both completed 19 passes on 33 attempts, averaging 241 yds, 1.5 TDs; Stafford went 20/33 for 244 yds, 2 TD, INT in Week 2
- Targets without Golladay: Jones (8, 6), Amendola (7, 7), Cephus (10, 3), Hockenson (5, 4), Swift (5, 5)
- Jones’s first two opposing CBs, Johnson & Alexander rank 3rd & 1st by PFF through two weeks
- ARI CBs Murphy, Peterson, & Kirkpatrick rank 47, 91, & 94 (PFF)
- With Stafford (2019), Jones put up 5 low games (10.0, 9.3, 10.7, 3.7, 6.2) and 3 big games (25.1, 43.3, 29.6)
- With Stafford (2019), Golladay put up 2 huge duds (3.7 & 3.1 DK pts), 2 solid games (14.2, 20.1), and 5 big games (28.7, 23.7, 32.3, 26.2)
- Two of Jones’s big games aligned with Golladay’s two huge dud games
- Targets with Stafford (2019): Golladay: (9/10/8/9/9/2/8), Jones (4/6/9/5/5/13/5), Amendola (13/1/5/DNP/1/11/8)
- Terry McLaurin just put up 125 yds, TD vs this defense
- Three RBs have topped 50 rush yds vs ARI so far (Mostert, McKissic, Gibson), and Mostert/McKinnon combined for 115 yds, 2 TD through the air in large part thanks to Mostert’s 80 yds TD
- DET’s rushing touches have been split around: Peterson (14, 7), Johnson (7, 8), Swift (3, 5)
- Peterson has been the most effective rusher at 6.4 ypc on 21 att
- Swift has command of the passing game with 10 targets to the others’ combined 4 targets
- If Swift holds onto the game-winning catch in Week 1, he would have DK pt totals of 19.9 and 12.2
- Patricia’s DET defense has stopped rushing QBs from picking up yds on the ground (Kyler himself only had 3 att for 13 yds in 2019), but his 2019 league-low blitz rate & 3-man rush rate led to his defense getting picked apart through the air by these same passers
- Kyler performed much better when facing no blitz in 2019
- Without Hopkins and in his first career start, Kyler passed for 308 yds, 2 TD, INT vs Patricia’s Lions in 2019
- In 2019, DET’s defense tied for last in INT (ARI, DAL) and only ARI allowed more passing yds
- Through two weeks, Trubisky & Rodgers have averaged 241 yds, 2.5 TDs, 0 INT against DET
- Kyler is currently averaging 258.5 yds, TD, INT, 79.5 rush yds, 1.5 TDs
- Hopkins has complete control of the targets in this passing game, receiving 25 (13 more than Fitz in 2nd), and producing 219 yds, TD
- Hopkins will face a depleted DET secondary and a rookie CB Okudah who was picked on by GB in Week 2
- Hopkins actually has a lower market share of air yds than Christian Kirk despite 16 more targets, as Hopkins has a very low 5.9 aDOT and Kirk has an aDOT of 20.8 (current highest in NFL)
- Kirk is basically just being used as a field-stretcher, so a big score from him would likely require multiple big plays deep down the field
- Only CIN has allowed more rushing yds to RBs than DET, as they haven’t been able to stop anyone on the ground (Montgomery, Cohen, Jones, Williams)
- Drake has outrushed Edmonds 36 att for 146 yds, TD to 9 att for 30 yds