Game Overview ::
By hilow >>
- I’m starting the week with this game. As such, I feel it necessary to once again stress the fact that COVID is throwing a massive wrench in everybody’s plans. Take the major points from each of these write-ups, keep on top of late-week news, and stay flexible!
- The Lions currently have 11 players on the COVID list, most notably quarterback Jared Goff and six defensive backs (UPDATE: wide receiver Trinity Benson, quarterback Jared Goff, and tackle Matt Nelson are the only players still on the COVID list as of Thursday night).
- The Falcons don’t currently have any major COVID news, as of Wednesday (UPDATE: no changes on Thursday).
- D’Andre Swift returned to a limited practice on Wednesday, his first practice since injuring his shoulder in Week 12.
- Falcons “WR3” Tajae Sharpe missed practice Wednesday with a foot injury sustained last week.
- Atlanta rank 26th in points per game (18.4) while allowing the second-most points per game (27.4), while Detroit rank 28th in points per game (17.4) while allowing the seventh-most points per game (26.1). Something has got to give here.
How detroit Will Try To Win ::
Lions quarterback Jared Goff was placed on the league’s COVID list on Monday following mild symptoms late Sunday evening. Dan Campbell, the mastermind joker himself, refused to disclose whether to expect Tim Boyle or David Blough should Goff miss, leaving us playing the guessing game with respect to how this offense will look this weekend. Let’s start with what we know. We know the Lions would prefer to play at a slow-to-moderate pace (27th-ranked situation-neutral pace of play) with elevated rush rates (seventh-highest rush rate on first and second down with the score within seven points) for as long as there are allowed to do so, but that they are one of the handful of teams that are more than willing to increase both their pace of play and pass rates should they be forced to (fourth-highest overall second-half pass rate and seventh-fastest second-half pace of play). Tim Boyle has one career start under his belt, and David Blough has a total of four pass touchdowns to seven interceptions over his short career. Not great, Bob. The team did, however, recently activate Jamaal Williams off the COVID list and is tentatively expecting D’Andre Swift to return from a three-game absence, assuming his shoulder tests out okay during limited practices this week. Finally, six total defensive backs are currently on the COVID list for a defense already allowing the second-most yards per completion this year (11.7).
The team’s backfield situation depends heavily on D’Andre Swift and his ability to grit through a shoulder injury. Jamaal Williams has already been reinstated from the league’s COVID list and would be the player likeliest to lead the backfield should Swift miss. Should Swift return, there’s a wide range of potential outcomes when it comes to his expected snap rate and workload, likely depending on both game flow and pain management. It is clear this team views Swift as the lead back, by a wide margin, as Williams handled a modest 47% snap rate in his lone start without Swift, indicating a likely timeshare should Swift miss. Should Swift return, as previously mentioned, his involvement likely depends on some combination of game flow and pain management. I find it hard to believe that Detroit would feed increased run to Swift if the game gets out of hand in his first game back from injury. Keep an eye on the injury report out of Detroit and any anecdotes from Dan Campbell this week to gauge Swift’s expected level of involvement. The matchup on the ground yields an average 4.34 net-adjusted line yards metric against a Falcons defense allowing 26.4 fantasy points per game to opposing backfields, including 15 total touchdowns and the eighth-most receiving yards.
We’ve seen Jared Goff absolutely lock onto rookie wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown over the previous three weeks of play, feeding him 35 total targets over that time (11 or more targets in each of those three games). The problem for us is that Swift missed all three of those games, TJ Hockenson missed two of those games, and each of those outputs came with Jared Goff at quarterback, who is in danger of missing this week on the COVID list. While we can expect St. Brown to continue to lead the team in looks, we have to question a couple of things here. Firstly, will a backup quarterback lock onto him the same way that Jared Goff did? Secondly, will Swift command more of a share of the targets once he returns? And thirdly, will the game environment require the Lions to up their pass rates and pace of play in the second half in a game against the Falcons? Expect Kalif Raymond and Josh Reynolds to operate as the primary perimeter wide receivers, with Brock Wright and Shane Zylstra splitting work at the tight end position. Atlanta is actually league-average in yards allowed per completion at 10.2 but struggles in opponent completion rate allowed (fourth-worst 68.9%).
How atlanta Will Try To Win ::
After starting the season with the league’s ninth-highest overall pass rate over the first eight weeks, the Falcons have dropped all the way down to the 12th-lowest pass rate over the previous month of play. While the immediate reaction would be to check their opponents over that timeframe as a means of explaining it away, that simply isn’t the case here (31-13 loss to the Niners, 29-21 victory over the Panthers, 30-17 loss to the Bucs, and 21-14 win over the Jaguars), indicating more of a shift by design. On the season, the Falcons have scored only 18.4 points per game (26th in the league), rank well below average in drive success rate (22nd), yards per drive (22nd), and points per drive (25th), and have allowed their opponents to score the second-most points per game (27.4). Atlanta hasn’t been very dynamic with respect to situational play-calling and pace of play metrics, checking in with a 64% pass rate when trailing (below average) and 58% pass rate when ahead (above average) while landing within a three-second disparity in pace of play when leading or trailing (lowest delta in the league). What that means is that the Falcons are largely incapable of altering their offensive game plan based on both opponent and game flow or are simply unwilling to do so.
Cordarrelle Patterson out-snapped backfield-mate Mike Davis in Week 15 for only the second time all season, but the overarching theme of this backfield remains the same – expect anything from a 1A/1B split to a direct timeshare out of the backfield, split in some capacity between Patterson and Davis. Although the snap rates have largely been split down the middle over the previous month of play between these two, Patterson has seen 17.75 running back opportunities per game over the previous month, while Davis has been held to only 10.25. With Patterson transitioning to more of a “prototypical running back” role, he’ll likely require a positive game script, extreme efficiency, and multiple trips to the end zone in order to return a GPP-worthy score at an inflated price tag. The matchup on the ground is a good one, yielding an average 4.315 net-adjusted line yards against a defense allowing 28.7 fantasy points per game to the position.
Since the Falcons have become much more balanced later in the season, and since we know they don’t alter their offensive game plan heavily this year, quarterback Matt Ryan has averaged only 32.5 pass attempts per game over the previous month of play. Along with the modest pass attempts total comes a 30th-ranked intended air yards per pass attempt value of just 6.7 (lower than Davis Mills and Ben Roethlisberger!). Ballooning his overall numbers is a solid 68.08% completion rate, leading to a 19th-ranked completed air yards per pass attempt value of 5.6. Basically, Ryan is still capable of reading progression and finding the open man, but the offense is constrained to short-to-intermediate work due to available offensive personnel and Ryan’s declining arm strength. Russel Gage and Kyle Pitts operate in the only near every-down role amongst pass-catchers, each typically playing between 75-85% of the offensive snaps on a weekly basis. Tajae Sharpe (UPDATE: Sharpe has yet to practice as of late Thursday night) and Olamide Zaccheaus have been relegated to 50-65% weekly snap rates. One positive coming from the Falcons is their ability and propensity to mix-and-match offensive personnel through everything they’ve gone through, playing numerous snaps from 21-, 12-, 22-, and even 13-personnel over the previous month. That means to expect snaps with both Patterson and Davis on the field, both Pitts and Hayden Hurst on the field, and snaps with all four on the field.
Likeliest Game Flow ::
I would contend that there simply isn’t a likeliest game flow here. Instead, we have a wide range of outcomes, each with about as likely of a chance of playing out as the rest. This is oftentimes the case when you pit two poor offenses against two poor defenses, but it is amplified in this instance based on the offensive tendencies of each team. Explained a more simple way – the Falcons have shown to be incapable or unwilling to alter their offensive game plan regardless of the situation they find themselves in, while the Lions have been one of the more willing offenses to throw their pregame game plan out the window should they be forced to do so. Because of this, the first two quarters are likely to decide the direction of this game, leaving it with one of the widest range of outcomes on this slate (and possibly this year). As in, we wouldn’t be surprised if this game ended 9-6, and we wouldn’t be surprised if this game ended 31-24. That said, this game is highly unlikely to completely blow all the others on this slate out of the water, meaning we would require concentrated offenses in order to provide stackability (it just so happens that’s exactly what we’ve seen out of these two offenses over the previous month of play). But because these offenses have struggled so much all season, and because the Lions would likely require the Falcons leading the charge towards increased aggression, the most optimal way of attacking this one (if going here) is through the game flow-lens of the Falcons jumping out to a lead, and the Lions forced to catch up.
TOP PLAYS OF THE WEEKEND
SORTABLE GREEN ZONE TOUCHES
TEAM & PLAYER DK POINTS
DFS+ Interpretation ::
By Alex88 >>
- Fifth lowest total in Week 16, following a 6.5 pt drop
- DET’s 18.5 implied total is tied for the seventh lowest
- DET’s 9-5 record ATS is tied for third, a testament to how close they’ve played their games despite being large underdogs
- They’re 2-3-1 in the past six games, winning both games in which they hit 20+ pts scored
- Here are their opponent scores in the last six games (W/L/T): 16 (T) // 13 (L) // 16 ( L) // 27 (W) // 38 (L) // 12 (W)
- DET’s 17.4 ppg is the fifth lowest total
- ATL’s 5-8 record ATS ranks 26th, a testament to how their games have played too
- They’re 2-4 in the past six games, winning both games in which they hit 20+ pts scored
- Here are their opponent scores in the last six games (W/L/T): 43 (L) // 25 (L) // 14 (W) // 30 (L) // 21 (W) // 31 (L)
- ATL’s 18.4 ppg is the seventh lowest total
- Per numberFire, DET ranks 23rd in adjusted seconds per play (30.6) and 30th in adjusted pass rate (50.9%)
- ATL ranks eighth in adjusted seconds per play (28.5) and 12th in adjusted pass rate (60.1%)
- Ranks 29th in PFF passing grade on the season
- Thrown 9 TDs to 2 INTs in the last four weeks
- DK log: 13.84 // 21.94 // 12.6 // 20.64
- Averaging 14.92 DK ppg in 13 games
- Week 16 DK salary ($5,400) ties a season high from Week 2
- ATL ranks 30th in DK ppg allowed to QBs (21.1)
- Notable opposing QB scores: Dak Prescott 26.34 // Taylor Heinicke 27.9 // Tua Tagovailoa 28.54 // Jalen Hurts 28.76 // Tom Brady 30.64 // Brady 32.62
DET Passing Attack
- TJ Hockenson was lost for the season in Week 13
- Since then, DET has used 11 personnel at a 50% rate (Weeks 1-13 average was 67%)
- Snap counts in Weeks 14-15: Amon-Ra St. Brown 92 // Kalif Raymond 87 // Josh Reynolds 85 // Brock Wright 84 // Shane Zylstra 69
- Target counts: Amon-Ra 23 // Reynolds 11 // Raymond 8 // Zylstra 7 // Wright 6
- Amon-Ra target counts in the past three weeks: 12 // 12 // 11
- Among all qualified WRs in that time, he ranks third in target share, 17th in air yard market share, and fifth in WOPR (per Koalaty Stats)
- His 21.2 DK ppg in that time ranks sixth
- His $5,600 DK salary in Week 16 is the 19th highest on the main slate
- It debuted at stone minimum in Week 1
- Raymond has scored 4x his Week 16 salary ($3.900) twice in 11 games
- Reynolds’s DK log as a Lion: 16 // 10.9 // 8.2 // 18.8
- His Week 16 DK salary is a season high ($4,600)
- ATL ranks 29th in DK ppg allowed to WRs (38.9)
- Notable opposing WR scores: Robby Anderson 21.4 // Mike Evans 24.5 // CeeDee Lamb 28.6 // Chris Godwin 33.2 // Terry McLaurin 33.3
- Wright is the only remaining TE to hit double digit pts, thanks to a TD
- ATL ranks 14th in DK ppg allowed to TEs (12.7)
- Notable opposing TE scores: Dallas Goedert 14.2 // George Kittle 15.3 // Gronk 19.9 // Mike Gesicki 21.5 // Gonk 21.8
- D’Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams returned to practice this week
- In their absence the past two games, Craig Reynolds led Godwin Igwebuike in snaps (71-40), targets (3-2), and touches (40-12)
- Craig’s stat lines: 11 carries for 83 yards // 26 carries for 112 yards
- Should Swift return, he ranks 15th in rush share, 19th in goal line share, second in target share, third in WOPR, and fifth in RBOPR among qualified RBs this season
- His 17.8 DK ppg ranks 10th
- His DK salary has fallen from a high of $7,300 down to $6,300 in Week 16
- ATL ranks 24th in DK ppg allowed to RBs (26.4)
- Notable opposing RB scores: Alvin Kamara 20.4 // Saquon Barkley 21.4 // Ezekiel Elliott 21.76 // Leonard Fournette 22.2 // Jeff Wilson 22.9
- Ranks 12th in PFF passing grade
- Averaging his lowest attempts (34.3), yards per game (238.6), TD% (3.8%), and QBR (48.2) in the past four seasons
- His sack% (5.7%) is at a four season low while his INT% is tied for a four season high (2.3%)
- He’s averaging 15.6 DK ppg
- Ryan has scored 4x his Week 16 salary ($5,400) in five out of 14 games
- DET ranks 14th in DK ppg allowed to QBs (18.8)
- Four opposing QBs have scored 4x Ryan’s Week 16 salary vs. DET: Joe Burrow 23.84 // Kirk Cousins 24.2 // Aaron Rodgers 26.8 // Matthew Stafford 30.16
ATL Passing Attack
- Second lowest usage of 11 personnel on the season (30%, league average is 60%)
- Snap counts since Calvin Ridley stepped away (Week 8 onwards): Kyle Pitts 365 // Russell Gage 358 // Tajae Sharpe 336 // Olamide Zaccheaus 237
- Target counts from Week 8 onwards: Gage 55 // Pitts 51 // Zaccheaus 25 // Sharpe 23
- Among qualified WRs since Week 8, Gage ranks 12th in target share, 24th in air yard market share, and 16th in WOPR
- His Week 16 salary ($5,900) is a season high
- He’s scored 20+ DK pts twice: 26 vs. TB // 23.1 @ SF
- Zaccheaus has scored 4x his Week 16 salary ($3,800) once in 12 games
- Sharpe has hit double digit DK pts once in 11 games (10.8)
- DET ranks 16th in DK ppg allowed to WRs (35.8)
- Eight WRs have scored 20+ DK pts vs. DET, including two with 35+ and one with 40+
- Among qualified TEs, Pitts ranks fifth in target share, first in air yard market share, and fifth in WOPR
- His 11.1 DK ppg ranks 10th
- His DK salary range as a rookie has been $4,400 – $6,300 ($5,800 in Week 16)
- He’s scored 4x his Week 16 salary twice in 14 games
- DET ranks 18th in DK ppg allowed to TEs (13.4)
- Only one opposing TE has scored 3x the Week 16 salary for Pitts against DET
- Mike Davis leads Cordarrelle Patterson in snap share (57.9% to 44.6%)
- Patterson leads in target share (13% to 10.5%) and touches per game (13.9 to 11.1)
- Patterson’s 17.1 DK ppg ranks 11th
- Davis’s 8.6 DK ppg ranks 49th
- Among qualified RBs, Patterson ranks seventh in target share, second in WOPR, and 17th in RBOPR
- His Week 16 salary ($6,700) is a $2,100 increase since Week 1
- He hasn’t scored 3x that score since Week 12, and he’s only hit 4x twice all season
- DET ranks 29th in DK ppg allowed to RBs (28.7)
- Notable opposing RB scores: Najee Harris 20.3 // Javonte Williams 21.3 // Alexander Mattison 21.4 Nick Chubb 25.4 // David Montgomery 25.6 // Melvin Gordon 26.1 // Joe Mixon 26.3 // Mattison 30.3 // Aaron Jones 41.5