Kickoff Sunday, Sep 13th 1:00pm Eastern
Colts ( 26.25) at
Jaguars ( 18.75)
Colts Run D15th DVOA/7th Yards allowed per carry
Jaguars Run O20th DVOA/9th Yards per carry
Colts Pass D13th DVOA/10th Yards allowed per pass
Jaguars Pass O6th DVOA/19th Yards per pass
Jaguars Run D11th DVOA/7th Yards allowed per carry
Colts Run O31st DVOA/26th Yards per carry
Jaguars Pass D30th DVOA/20th Yards allowed per pass
Colts Pass O32nd DVOA/31st Yards per pass
- Frank Reich is 2-0 vs Marrone/Wash at home: 29-26, 33-13; and 0-2 on the road: 0-6, 20-38
- Rivers vs the Marrone/Wash Jaguars (’16, ’17, ’19) has a 9:1 TD:INT ratio and has scored in DK pts: 23.8, 16.4, 27.56
- Through 2019 Week 7, Rivers had 2 duds (11.9, 6.1) and 5 strong games (27.9, 23.6, 23.4, 20.8, 24.2)
- With starting linemen Pouncey & Lamp both then put on IR, Rivers only had one more notable fantasy game the rest of the season: his 27.56 DK pts vs JAC
- Brandon Thorn ranks the Colts offensive line 20 spots higher than the Chargers line, and that’s with the Chargers improving from last season
- In Hilton’s first six games of the season, he averaged 5.33 receptions for 60yds & 0.83 TD
- After his calf injury, Hilton averaged 3.25 receptions for 35.25yds & 0 TD for the rest of his season (4 games)
- In 2019, IND ran for 175+ yards in 5 games vs rush efficiency defenses ranked 25th (LAC), 29th (KC), 31st (JAC), 22nd (HOU), 32nd (CAR)
- Four RBs surpassed 30 DK pts vs JAC in 2019: McCaffrey (50.7 DK pts), Henry (33.5), Ekeler (37.3), D Freeman (33.7); and 3 more surpassed 100+ rush yds: Hyde (19.0), J Williams (18.7), Mack (19.9)
- All 5 of Mack’s games above 18+ DK pts came against teams ranked poorly in rush efficiency defense: #25 LAC, #29 KC, #31 JAC x2, #32 CAR
- Jonathan Taylor was 23 yards short of finishing with 2000+ rushing yards in all 3 of his NCAA seasons, and his PlayerProfiler best comp is Ezekiel Elliott
- Rivers has targeted RBs at least 100 times in every season of his career, and his top targeted RB has ranked either 1st or 2nd in team targets in 4 of the last 5 years
- In 2 seasons together, Hines has 107 rec to Mack’s 31 rec
- Taylor’s best receiving year was nearly identical to Mack’s best college receiving season, and Mack actually caught 23 more total passes than Taylor did in his 3 college seasons
- In 2019, IND allowed six 300+yd passers (and three more who missed the bonus by 11 combined yards), five 3+ touchdown passers, and only 2/16 passers who finished below 30 attempts
- Foles & Minshew were 2 of the 3 passers to barely miss the 300yd bonus, and they finished with 18.8 & 25.5 DK pts, respectively
- Chark played with Foles for just 18% of his season, but 24% of his fantasy production came with Foles
- While IND D is designed to limit big plays, they ranked just 24th in Explosive Pass rate allowed to WRs, and were hit for some big WR fantasy performances in 2019: allowing eight WRs to finish between 24 and 34 DK pts
- DJ Chark’s second best fantasy performance of the season was his 33.4 DK pts vs IND
- IND’s 2019 ranks in RB defense: 20th in Rush Efficiency Def, 6th in rushing yards allowed, 2nd in TDs allowed, 32nd in receptions allowed, 10th in receiving yards allowed, 9th in DK pts allowed
- Leonard Fournette’s only single-digit carry game (of 15) was against IND (8 att, 7 rec)
- Fournette’s departure leaves behind 17.7 att/g & 6.7 targets/g to disperse between Ryquell Armstead, Devine Ozigbo, & Chris Thompson
- In the final game of 2019 when Fournette did not play, Armstead led Ozigbo 10 att/9 targets to 9 att/5 targets, and he outproduced him 85 total yds & TD to 50 total yds
- In 46 college games, Armstead caught just 29 total passes; In 39 college games, Ozigbo caught 49 total passes
- Chris Thompson has 206 receptions in his 60 games as an NFL rotation player, and has averaged 5.4 targets/g in his last 3 seasons
How Jacksonville Will Try To Win ::
We’ll actually begin our exploration of this game by moving away from this game and talking for a moment about Raiders head coach Jon Gruden.
As you know by now (OWS reader that you are), Gruden — philosophically — wants to run the ball in order to set up the pass. And while that idea sounds backward analytically, the truth is, we still have a few years (and a lot more research) to go before the analytics in the NFL catch up to where they need to be in order to truly understand football the way it should be understood. What I mean by that ::
There are a handful of coaches around the league — examples include Gary Kubiak, Kyle Shanahan, Sean McVay, Greg Roman, Arthur Smith (all good coaches) — who essentially use the run and the pass to stretch the defense horizontally in the same way Andy Reid is able to use speed and the strength of Mahomes’ arm to strain the defense vertically. We talked in the audio note here about how much open space Andy Reid can create by using speed at all areas of the field — straining the defense and giving “space running backs” like CEH // Damien Williams // Kareem Hunt // Jamaal Charles room to operate in space and make big plays. It’s the same thing Bruce Arians did in 2016 with David Johnson (and is part of the reason DJ had such a tougher time last year under Kingsbury’s well-designed, but much more condensed passing attack). The analytics you’ll hear me talk about throughout the year (in terms of what people are getting right, and what still has room to grow) have a harder time taking into account talent on individual teams and what can actually be done to a defense with that talent. While in baseball, it’s very easy to break down a pitcher-versus-batter matchup and extrapolate that over 600 at-bats, and then apply that to the small sample size of three at-bats in a single game in order to know what’s likeliest to happen (note: analytics-based predictions in baseball tend to be highly accurate over a full season, with 600 at-bats), in football, it’s much more complicated to account for things purely through analytics. A defense, for example, is a dynamic unit of 11 players working under a coach who is making decisions in a chess match against the opposing coach. The question in football (unlike baseball — where offensive production doesn’t change or strain defensive responsibilities) is not “How do we score the most points,” but “How do we effectively strain the opposing defense, in concert with the strengths and weaknesses of our own defense (and in further concert with the strengths and weaknesses of the opposing offense) so we can score more points than the other team?” Maybe you don’t have the explosive pieces on offense that you wish you had; but if you can figure out how to win in other ways on offense and then build a good defense on the other side, this keeps you in most games you’re playing.
Obviously, we’ve made huge advancements in advanced analytics over the last few years (and some of what has been developed has been excellent) — but as I’ve noted a number of times over the last couple years: we’re still in the stone ages of NFL analytics, and some of the stats that people think we should be paying closer attention to at the moment will turn out to be proven fairly incorrect within the next 10 to 15 years.
That brings us back to the game at hand, where Jay Gruden has tried to take his brother’s philosophies — but has seemingly had no idea how to do it. Gruden tends to play slowly and use the run to set up the pass, but without the sideline-to-sideline strain that these other coaches are able to create (for example: outside-zone run action moving to the left while the quarterback is rolled out to the right with flood concepts from receivers giving him options at multiple levels). It’s almost as if Jay Gruden has about 85% of what he needs in order to be a winning offensive coach; but the NFL game is a game of inches, and he leaves too many openings for the opposing team.
The Jaguars will try to win this game with a balanced attack that leans slightly toward the run, and they will try to get Gardner Minshew on the move a bit. Long-term, Ryquell Armstead should be the lead back for this team; but with Armstead on the Reserve/Covid list, this should vault Devine Ozigbo to the top of the running back pile here. Ozigbo will likely handle early downs, with Chris Thompson mixing in on third downs and obvious passing situations. Assuming Ozigbo gets about 75% to 80% of the early-down work, he should be in line for two to four targets (though these are unlikely to be schemed targets). (Note :: It’s looking increasingly likely that James Robinson will eventually take over the job here, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if he splits work with Ozigbo in Week 1.)
In the pass game, Dede Westbrook, D.J. Chark, and Chris Conley all deserve targets, while Laviska Shenault is sure to get some early reps (and may even be more involved right away than anticipated) — all on a team that doesn’t necessarily want to throw the ball. We should also note here that the Colts have allowed the second fewest wide receiver targets in the NFL across the last two seasons, as their Tampa-2 scheme (as we all know by now) aims to A) keep the ball in front of them, and B) filter targets toward the middle of the field. This could have Jacksonville leaning on Tyler Eifert a bit more in this game than they will in others, as they look for ways to gain ground against an above-average, bend-but-don’t-break defense.
How Indianapolis Will Try To Win ::
I like the Colts’ offense quite a bit this year. That is, I like them quite a bit in a big-picture sense — in that they seem to be going overlooked compared to what their expectations are. As you know by now: Frank Reich is one of our favorite coaches, as he’s highly adaptable, and is excellent at utilizing the strengths of his best players. Schematically, the Colts want to win games by establishing the run with their mauling offensive line, and with what is now a strong two-headed backfield with Marlon Mack and Jonathan Taylor. Reich wants to do this using two tight ends often, while looking for ways to aggressively exploit mismatches and attack the defense. In the Colts’ two games against the Jaguars last season, including a 38 – 20 loss in Week 16, Indy averaged only 24.5 pass attempts per game. Of course, as we just said: Reich is one of the most adaptable coaches in football, and in 2018 the Colts averaged an astonishing 40.25 pass attempts per game in Luck’s final season; and with Philip Rivers in the fold, it shouldn’t surprise us if this team tries to keep opponents off-balance by attacking more aggressively through the air once again.
One way or another, the Jaguars should have one of the lesser defenses in the league; and while Todd Wash’s system generally does a good job filtering targets away from wide receivers (the Jaguars have allowed the third fewest wide receiver targets over the last two years — only two more than the Colts), there is a large enough talent gap that everybody is in play for the Colts as a means to move the ball. Through the air, the target pecking order should be T.Y. Hilton, the tight ends, and some third-tier combination of Parris Campbell, Michael Pittman, and Nyheim Hines. This gives the Colts a lot of ways to move the ball against this weakened Jaguars defense.
Likeliest Game Flow ::
The likeliest scenario in this game has the Colts hammering different angles against the Jaguars in the early going until they find what’s working best. They have enough weapons — and enough different ways to keep the Jaguars off-balance — that they should be able to put up points in this spot throughout the course of the game, with Reich eventually finding the weaknesses that he can most aggressively exploit.
I could see the Jaguars taking an early shot downfield in the hopes of jumping out to a lead or “setting the tone,” but outside of this, they will likely look to establish the run in the early going while mixing in shorter passes and occasional shots as the game moves along. We should see them hitting some underneath routes to keep the ball moving up the field — though with the Colts’ Tampa-2 defense, it will be more difficult than normal for “all at once” upside to be found. As always: it only takes one play for upside to hit, and the tackling issues that could come from a shortened offseason increase the chances of this happening; but we should ultimately expect Jacksonville to be playing from behind, with the Jags eventually being forced to “let Minshew cook” (that’s not a thing…) with 34 to 40 pass attempts.
As with any game, an early mistake by the Colts offense could swing this game the other way. For example ::
Let’s say the Jags start with the ball and march the field, bleeding five or six minutes off the clock, and then they finish their drive with a field goal. After this, Rivers takes over and marches the Colts past the Jags’ 45-yard-line (taking up another three minutes of clock), and then he gets aggressive on an outside-breaking route that he is no longer capable of making in quite the tight windows he used to be able to hit, and the Jags get a pick-six that all of a sudden has them up 10-0, eight or nine minutes into the game. From there, the Colts pick up two or three first downs and then stall out again, and about three minutes into the second quarter, the Jags get lucky with an offensive touchdown to go up 17-0.
The odd thing in this spot is that this game flow would actually be less likely to produce big games in the box score than the Colts playing with a lead. (Or, to put that another way: the “likeliest scenario” is actually the best overall scenario for the offensive box score.) If the Jags jump out to a lead like this, the tendencies of their coaching staff will have them looking to protect this lead early. Reich would then notice this, and would be happy to continue running his offense and chip away until Indy takes, say, a 21-20 lead early in the fourth quarter. From here, Jacksonville would be thinking, “We just need a field goal to take the lead”; and if they get that, this becomes a potential game of field goals down the stretch. Conversely, the Jags could require a touchdown to regain the lead, and clock could bleed as they slowly march against this bend-but-don’t-break squad before stalling out in the red zone.
Point being: if the Colts have a two-score lead as this game moves along, the Jaguars will be forced into a more aggressive offensive approach. The Colts — playing from in front — are unlikely to get comfortable with this lead, and will continue attacking themselves.
DFS+ Interpretation ::
We’re unlikely to see much ownership on this game, and I pegged the line here at 46.5 to 47.0 myself (currently, the Vegas line sits at 45.0). I pinned down that line knowing that once I compared it to Vegas, I would almost certainly find my line to be higher than theirs; and this is not, by any means, a spot that “has 38-34 written all over it.” But it does have potential to be a better spot than the field will likely be assuming.
Considering game flow, of course, will be key here (i.e., if the Jaguars are chasing points in the second half, Ozigbo could actually score fewer fantasy points than Chris Thompson — etc.), and there is a further layer of uncertainty in that the Colts could very well go run-heavy (giving 14+ touches apiece to both Mack and Taylor, with neither getting the bulk of the RB pass game work, and with none of the pass catchers getting big action).
When facing a situation like this, the best thing you can do — from a “long-term net-positive ROI” perspective — is to guess as little as possible. What I mean by that ::
If a game has a ton of ownership action on it, but you really want to get a piece of that game, doing so by embracing a bit of uncertainty with a high-upside (but perhaps higher-risk), lower-owned player is a solid way to go. But in a spot like this, where you’re unlikely to be competing with much of the field in terms of ownership, getting exposure by guessing as little as possible (“embracing certainty” — as opposed to the idea of “embracing uncertainty” we often talk about for strategic maximization of your DFS play) actually makes the most sense.
For me, on the Colts, that’s T.Y. Hilton (who should get seven to 10 targets regardless of game flow — and whom Reich will almost certainly try to hit with a deep ball a couple times in his first game with Rivers). Rivers is also “in the conversation” if you want extra exposure here, while Jack Doyle, Mo Alie-Cox (filling in for Trey Burton; by the way, the Colts love Mo Alie-Cox, and four or five targets with a touchdown opportunity would not be surprising), Parris Campbell, and Michael Pittman should all see a minimum of three looks apiece, with a couple of these guys likely climbing to six or seven (assuming you want to go deeper than just Hilton).
On the Jags…well, our likeliest and unlikeliest scenarios all have the Jags maxing out at around five offensive scores, and it would be surprising if they were able to both reach that number and make four or five of those scores touchdowns. As such, I see their reasonable (85th/90th percentile) game here being 27 points, with plenty of scenarios in which they finish in the high teens or the low 20s. On top of this, Jacksonville was somewhat erratic last year in their wide receiver usage, and that may not change this year. With Laviska Shenault likely to force himself into the mix a bit in Week 1, and with Dede soaking up underneath targets, and with Conley rarely seeing big target workloads (and with us needing a monster DFS score in Week 1 in order to matter on the leaderboards), and with the game flow setting up for the Jags to eventually have to pass, and with Ozigbo and Thompson both therefore carrying only very slim paths to a 20-point game, I’ll likely turn my attention to two places if looking here :: the target-upside + big-play upside of Chark, and the target-upside + touchdown-upside of Eifert.
Realistically, I expect to mostly (if not fully) leave the Jags alone here (especially given that I expect to have 19 to 26 builds, which doesn’t quite put me into the range I would want to be in for loading up on players from the Jags). But I do expect to have a few Hilton rosters (maybe 15%?), and if that number grows, I could bring back a couple of those with Chark or Eifert.
Kickoff Sunday, Sep 13th 1:00pm Eastern
Jets ( 16.5) at
Bills ( 23)
Jets Run D9th DVOA/6th Yards allowed per carry
Bills Run O11th DVOA/2nd Yards per carry
Jets Pass D6th DVOA/4th Yards allowed per pass
Bills Pass O2nd DVOA/4th Yards per pass
Bills Run D3rd DVOA/14th Yards allowed per carry
Jets Run O21st DVOA/19th Yards per carry
Bills Pass D9th DVOA/6th Yards allowed per pass
Jets Pass O25th DVOA/11th Yards per pass
- Excluding 2019 Wk 17 (BUF rested), McDermott is 4-1 vs Gase: 24-16, 22-16, 17-21, 42-17, 17-16
- In the 5 matchups, BUF’s Def averaged 3.75 sacks, 2 Forced Turnovers (7 INT, 3 FF), and 17.2 Points Allowed
- In 4 non-W17 games (rested starters) vs top-5 pass efficiency defenses (BUF, NE, BAL, PIT), Darnold averaged 165.5yds, 1 TD, 2 TOs, 2 sacks for 9.93 DK ppg
- BUF ranked 5th in Pass Efficiency Def in 2019
- In those 4 games, Crowder produced 2 great scores (24.3, 27.0) and 2 duds (6.6, 10.0)
- Le’Veon Bell’s best, and one of only 3 games above 20 DK pts, came vs BUF in Week 1
- The 9 targets Bell received in Week 1 was only matched in 3 of his last 14 games, and he never saw more than 5 in those other 11 games
- In Josh Allen’s only game vs Gregg Williams’s blitz happy defense, he threw 2 interceptions and lost 2 fumbles, but still managed 20+ DK pts
- Gone from that 2019 Jets defense are 2 of their best players (PFF), CJ Mosley & Jamal Adams, with no comparable replacements (Opt-out & Draft pick trade)
- Josh Allen scored between 17 & 24 DK pts in 11/15 games, with two below (11.7, 11.7) and two above (25.4, 33.8)
- Stefon Diggs goes from Cousins (ranked 5th in CPOE over past 2 seasons) to Allen (ranked 28th in CPOE over past 2 seasons)
- Stefon Diggs and John Brown received 28 deep targets each in 2019 as the primary deep threat for their respective teams, and now must split targets from PFF’s worst graded deep ball thrower in 2019
- As Josh Allen’s #1 target in 2019, John Brown cleared just 14 DK pts in only 4/15 games (28.3, 19.3, 37.7, 16.9); 4 of his 6 TDs came in those 4 games
- As the #2 target, Beasley fell between 8 & 15 DK pts in 10/15 games and only cleared that range three times (19.6, 26.0, 20.8)
- The Bills only had 80 other WR targets to go around in the 15 Brown/Beasley games, so it would take a sizeable increase in Allen’s 30.4 att/g for Brown & Beasley not to see a decrease in targets with Diggs now in the fold as the clear #1 WR
- Only TB & NOR allowed fewer rushing yards in 2019 than the Jets, and only seven teams allowed fewer DK pts to RBs
How Buffalo Will Try To Win ::
The Bills are working hard to develop Josh Allen into a “playmaking game manager” (that’s not the wording they’ve used, but that’s the best way to describe it), as this gives them their best shot at wins given the composition of their team and the point where Allen is in his development. They would love to lean on the run and play great defense. As you know by now, that’s not to say this is a vanilla offense; Brian Daboll has a creative scheme in place that takes advantage of the strengths of this team’s pieces; but it’s to say that the strengths of this team’s pieces don’t have them trying to hammer points onto the scoreboard at all costs.
This becomes an issue for scoring in this game when we look at the Jets, who enter the season with perhaps the worst offense in the league. I believe Sam Darnold has the mindset and talent to be a star (albeit with a lot of growth left ahead of him; not everyone is Patrick Mahomes, after all), but his weapons are zilch right now, and he isn’t getting a whole lot of help from Adam Gase. (More on the Jets in a moment, of course.)
With the Bills preferring to win as laid out above, and with the Jets unlikely to pop off for a huge game, there’s one final element to look at here in understanding how the Bills will attempt to win this game — and the root of this element is the fact that Brian Daboll makes a conscious effort to be an adaptable coach: adjusting his team’s approach to fit the opponent they’ll be facing. The Jets were elite against the run last year (first in adjusted line yards — ahead of even the Bucs), and they were attackable in the secondary. At the same time, however, the Jets have gotten wrecked at linebacker, which should make them softer to run against; and Gregg Williams blitzed (as we would expect) at the fourth highest rate in the league last year. Allen, unsurprisingly, struggled against the blitz last year (his passer rating dropped from 87.1 when not blitzed to 78.4 when blitzed), which should have the Bills trying to stay balanced for as long as they’re controlling this game. (On the plus side for Allen: he had a 93.2 QB rating when left unpressured, compared to an abysmal 61.4 when pressured. The Jets, in spite of blitzing relentlessly, ranked bottom 10 in pressure rate last year — and those “blitzes that don’t generate pressure” do open opportunities for bigger plays.)
How NYJ will try to win ::
This is a difficult matchup for a Jets team that doesn’t have great pieces to work with in the pass game :: a straight-line runner in Breshad Perriman (who has missed a ton of practice time with a knee issue and isn’t guaranteed to be ready by the opener), a rookie in Denzel Mims (who has missed weeks of practice time himself), a castoff in Chris Hogan, and an underneath route runner in Jamison Crowder. Buffalo forced the second shallowest average depth of target in the NFL last year, and they’ll be looking to force the Jets to put together complete drives all game long.
The Jets will go into this game hoping to attack Josh Allen in order to create short fields and easier touchdown opportunities for their offense. If they fall behind, they’re likely to have a tough time of it.
Likeliest Game flow ::
Likeliest flow here has Buffalo taking a lead with a couple bigger plays to Diggs or Brown against Williams’ blitzes, and eventually “steadily killing off this game” to land it around its expectedly low Vegas total. (I had this game at 38.0. Vegas has it at 39.5. Vegas’ line is better, and closer to the general range in which this game would fall over time. I’d still expect an “Under” here north of 50% of the time, but lack of practices could certainly skew those numbers a bit.)
Things could get interesting if the Jets force multiple early mistakes and are then able to kill a bit of clock of their own. If the Bills can’t get anything going until halfway through the second quarter, we could see Allen unleashed a bit, to where a 13-3 game with 35 minutes left could suddenly become a relative scorcher as the Bills begin attacking — with the Jets having to then try to find a way to keep pace. (Obviously, there are even slimmer tributaries where Bills defensive mistakes mean a couple big Jets plays on offense — but we start getting pretty dry pretty quickly there.)
DFS+ Interpretation ::
Because of the narrow distribution of touches the Bills are comfortable using, we could easily see Stefon Diggs and John Brown both topping 70 yards; and each has enough upside that if action tilts their way or the Bills break out a bit, they could press up against the 100-yard bonus on DK. Daboll will get the ball to his best players, which we like. Game environment makes neither guy an elite option, but there likely won’t be much attention on Diggs, as DFS psychology typically has people avoiding the unknowns of a situation like this (no preseason highlights to look at, and a WR in a new spot), and the presence of Diggs may lower interest in Brown. The matchup is very soft, and with both guys likely to show an acceptable floor this year, it’s an interesting tourney spot to consider. Also: it wouldn’t be a crazy scenario for the game to hit the Under at something like 31-6, with the Bills accounting for 400 yards and four TDs. In that scenario, 6-110-1 for one of these guys isn’t crazy. (Behind these guys in the pass game, it gets pretty dart-throwy :: hoping for a broken play or a TD.)
The Bills backfield is a true unknown. Buffalo likes Zack Moss, but Devin Singletary did his job last year as well. This is likely to be some form of a split, with neither back topping 17 touches most weeks. I’ll likely let this play out before attacking here myself, but one or two TDs from one of these guys is definitely within our reasonable range — if you want to try to guess. As a bonus, if you go here: I don’t imagine there will be much action from the field.
The Jets side harder to find much to like. We’ll almost certainly have a split in their backfield to some extent — and these guys really have no outside weapons that can free up short-area space for them. If you’re grabbing Le’Veon Bell or (heaven help us) Frank Gore, you’re hoping one of these guys falls into a couple touchdowns — or you’re playing a game flow scenario in which the Jets find unexpected ways to ride Bell to a big offensive game.
In a vacuum, I like Crowder and Chris Herndon (and Darnold) a lot as players, and any of them can hit in any matchup if everything goes just right; but rosters that start building around these types of scenarios can fall apart pretty quickly if you start grasping like this across the board. Crazy things can (and do) happen in the NFL, but I’ll be avoiding this spot myself.
With that said :: if playing MME (mass-multi-entry — basically, 50+ lineups, but especially any approach of 100 lineups or above), we should note that — given the low total in this game, and the low implied total for the Jets, and the matchup the Jets have — ownership interest should be low here. We’re also in Week 1 (unknowns are higher in Week 1), with no preseason (pushes the unknowns even higher) and very little live tackling to this point (opportunities for crazy things to happen go even higher); so from that perspective, I don’t think taking a shade of Jets ownership is a -EV move (for new readers :: that’s “negative expected value” — or, a move that would lose you money over time). I just won’t be building enough rosters myself for this to be a +EV play for me. There are, obviously, much better spots on the slate than this one — which is basically an “embrace the unknowns and hope something crazy happens” type of spot.
Kickoff Sunday, Sep 13th 1:00pm Eastern
Packers ( 21.5) at
Vikings ( 24.0)
Packers Run D32nd DVOA/29th Yards allowed per carry
Vikings Run O28th DVOA/26th Yards per carry
Packers Pass D8th DVOA/23rd Yards allowed per pass
Vikings Pass O15th DVOA/20th Yards per pass
Vikings Run D19th DVOA/22nd Yards allowed per carry
Packers Run O3rd DVOA/11th Yards per carry
Vikings Pass D26th DVOA/28th Yards allowed per pass
Packers Pass O15th DVOA/21st Yards per pass
- 2 of MIN’s 3 worst offensive performances of the 2019 season came against GB, scoring a COMBINED 26 points (average in other 14 was 27.2 ppg), turning the ball over 5 times, and allowing 6 sacks
- Stefon Diggs replacement Justin Jefferson had the 2nd most catches from the slot in a single college season since 2014
- 2019 MIN ran 11 personnel (3 WRs) on just 25% of plays (NFL average is 60%), and ran 12 or 21 personnel (2 WRs) 27% above NFL average, meaning Jefferson is going to be playing outside far more often than he did in college
- 2019 GB ranked bottom 3 defending TEs in every pre-snap alignment (slot, inline, split wide)
- 3 of MIN’s top 5 personnel groupings featured 2 TEs (Rudolph & Smith played 77% & 60% of the snaps respectively), and Cousins targeted TEs on early downs at a 4% rate above average
- After his dominant start to 2018, Thielen never really got going in 2019, as he only had one strong game pre-hamstring injury (35 DK pts), and didn’t do much of anything until getting to rest Week 17 and then hitting the Saints for 22.2 DK pts
- With Thielen healthy, Diggs gone, and Kubiak at the offensive helm, Thielen is in position to see a bump in targets and dominate usage in a Kubiak offense that has produced an average of 157 targets/season for its 12 previous 16-game WR1s
- Some talented WR1s were able to perform strongly vs GB in 2019, including Robinson (x2), Cooper, Golladay, Moore, McLaurin, & Lockett all surpassing 20+ DK pts
- GB ranked 29th in explosive pass plays allowed to WRs
- Dalvin Cook’s averages in first 10 games pre-injury vs final 4 games: 20.3 att for 99.1yds, 4 rec for 42.4yds // 11.8 att for 36yds, 3.3 rec for 23.8yds
- GB ranked 23rd in Rush Efficiency Def, 31st in Early Down Rush Success Def, 14th in Explosive Rush Def, 29th in RB rushing TDs allowed, and 23rd in RB receptions allowed
- Despite the injury, Cook still led all RBs in total touches inside the 5-yd line (26), helping him to surpass 27+ DK pts in 7/10 games pre-injury
- Zimmer’s D has sacked Rodgers at least 4 times in 7/12 matchups dating back to 2009
- Rodgers has only topped 20 DK pts once in those 12 matchups with Zimmer, and he hasn’t topped 16 DK pts since 2016
- Rodgers’s #1 WR in those 12 games (Adams (4), Jordy (5), Jones (2), Driver (1)) has fared far more favorably, averaging 6.7rec (10.3targ) for 93.3yds, 0.7 TDs, and with a DK ppg average of 21.77
- After averaging just 7 targets/g in the first 3 weeks, Adams averaged 11.6 targets/g for the rest of his season, with just one game below double-digit targets
- The only 2020 MIN CB to meet PFF’s snap parameters in 2019 was Mike Hughes, coming in as PFF’s 78th ranked CB; opposite Hughes will likely be 6th CB off the board in 2020 draft, Jeff Gladney
- Of Aaron Jones’s 4 largest attempt totals of the season, Jamaal Williams was inactive for 2, and left early in 1 more
- 2 of those 4 games were vs MIN, his 4th and 5th highest scoring games of the season
- Jones reached 16 carries in another game, but otherwise never received higher than 13 in the 11 other games
- GB added a 2nd round RB to the rotation in the draft
How Minnesota Will Try To Win ::
In 2019, Kirk Cousins threw the ball more than 34 times in only three of 15 games — and he finished at 30 or fewer pass attempts in seven of 15 games. Meanwhile, the Vikings regularly pushed for 30 or more rush attempts, and they even had a few games north of 35. Consider this your reminder that the Vikings would prefer to lean on the run if they can — using Gary Kubiak’s zone-based rushing attack to keep the defense off balance and to make Cousins look good by giving him easy reads at multiple levels with half the defense flowing the other way on run action.
As always :: we should be paying attention to these types of things. As we noted in both the NFL Profitability Masterclass and Xandamere’s Single-Game Mastery course, these are raw points here. By knowing what an offense is likeliest to do most games, you’ll have a better sense of how many points are available in that spot // offense. (A bonus note here — covered a few times in various podcasts last year, and covered again in the Masterclass :: with DraftKings scoring, you can typically expect an offense as a whole (quarterback included) to put up around 65 to 85 points. Every once in a while, you catch a monster game with 100+ points, and every once in a while you’ll see a dud with 55 or fewer points; but 65 to 70 total points is pretty normal, and anything up to 80/85 isn’t outside a reasonable range. (With PPR scoring, of course: teams that throw more often pick up more points, and teams that score more touchdowns pick up more points.) So if taking a player like Adam Thielen in a game like this, for example, you should know what you’re saying. Do you think the Vikings are going to have to throw the ball 37+ times (and if so: why? — and what does that mean for players you should consider on the other side of the ball?), with Thielen seeing 10 targets; or do you think they throw only 33 times and Thielen sees a 30% market share? (Note: Michael Thomas dominated the league last year with a 34.5% market share.) Again :: these are raw points. And these are things we should be looking to pin down — understanding the game environment in which a player is playing, and understanding how this impacts the player’s production.)
We’ll get back to players in this game in the DFS+ Interpretation — but as a starting point here :: the Vikings are going to try to win on the ground to whatever extent they can, and the focal points will be Dalvin Cook, Thielen, and a mix-and-match of other pieces from there.
How Green Bay Will Try To Win ::
As has been well documented, Packers head coach Matt LaFleur wants to build a system similar to the one we’ve hit on with Shanahan, Jon Gruden, Sean McVay, Greg Roman, and others. All of these coaches have unique ways in which they attempt to build these systems — but the core elements are the same; and LaFleur seemingly doesn’t care that this is not the best system for Aaron Rodgers (or, at least, is not a system Rodgers would prefer to run; for one thing, Rodgers hates turning his back on the defense — and all this run action and play-action requires exactly that).
In the Packers’ games against the Vikings last year, they ran the ball with running backs 32 and 29 times. The game with 32 rush attempts saw Rodgers throwing only 34 times, while the 29-rush-attempt game saw Rodgers throwing 40 times. (Unfortunately, he went for only 216 yards, no touchdowns, and an interception.)
Year in and year out, the Vikings are going to have one of the most well-coached defenses — and from a positioning perspective, these guys are almost always going to be in the right place at the right time, using good technique to tackle (to whatever extent they can with a shortened offseason and limited tackling reps).
From a pure talent perspective, the Packers should be able to move the ball on the ground here; and from a big-play perspective, Aaron Jones has the ability to break off big plays against this defense. The Packers can also layer in A.J. Dillon to wear down the defense — which all adds up to a spot in which the Packers are likely going to be able to take their standard approach, mirroring the two games these teams played last year: a 21-16 Packers win, and a 23-10 Packers win (note: not necessarily those outcomes; but that general range of scoring).
Likeliest Game Flow ::
In 2019, the Packers — low-key — had combined point totals of 43 or lower in nine of their 16 games (while hitting 45 or lower in an astonishing 12 out of 16 games). This is not the Mike McCarthy + healthy Jordy Nelson + emerging Davante Adams Packers — nor is this the Pat Shurmur Vikings with Stefon Diggs. These are two teams trying to win games differently than they were trying to win them a couple years ago, and we should adjust our eye levels accordingly.
In order for this game to become a track meet, it would almost certainly have to happen from big plays. What I mean by that is that with both of these teams looking to run the ball and win in that way, it’s unlikely we see both offenses simply open things up and start relentlessly attacking. (A tremendous number of things would have to go just right in order for that to happen). As we’ll see in the DFS+ Interpretation, this doesn’t mean each team should necessarily be avoided. Each of these squads has a narrow enough distribution of touches that you can still feel good about some of the upside you can target here without a blowup game. But the likeliest scenarios here certainly do not have “a blowup game” in the mix.
With all that said: we should be aware that these offenses can generate explosive plays.
While Adams and Thielen have some explosiveness to their games, the places where “explosive games” are likeliest to emerge is from the backfields — where Cook and Jones are both capable of scoring from anywhere on the field. Especially with each of these guys having a role in the pass game, there is an interesting tributary to consider (or, that is to say: an interesting angle to play) where Cook and Jones are the two key pieces from this game. This would allow them to be played on a roster together — and would create a very unique roster construction compared to what the field will bring to the table.
DFS+ Interpretation ::
Last year, Dalvin Cook rushed for 154 yards in his one game against the Packers on 20 carries — but this included a 75-yard run off left tackle where he spotted some over-pursuit on the second level and cut back to the middle of the field and raced all the way to the end zone. Without that, he was looking at 19 carries for 79 yards — and there is certainly potential for another game like that as the Packers put heavy emphasis on slowing him down. With that said: Cook also averaged 7.5 DraftKings points per game last year on catches without even factoring in touchdowns; and the Packers allowed the sixth most running back receptions in the league last year. If we played this game out a hundred times, Cook would likely average 8.5 to 9.0 points per game through the air alone, which gives him a nice floor to work from. Even a game of “only 75 rushing yards and no touchdowns” gets you solid production; and he obviously carries explosive upside and a big role in this offense. He’s a solid, high-upside play — as is almost always the case.
Jones, of course, is a little more difficult to fall so easily in love with (in “like” with? — that’s more where I am with Dalvin), as he literally had 11 out of 16 games last season in which he was given 13 or fewer carries. And while the eight games of six or more targets definitely helped, those were mixed in with five games of one or zero target. Minnesota has the safety and linebacker play to be tough on running backs and tight ends (not to where you necessarily have to avoid pass-catching backs in this spot, but where they don’t get an upside boost, as most backs would come in under their pass-catching averages if facing this matchup over a 100-game sample), but Jones nevertheless remains interesting to me for his pure upside from a usage // red zone // big-play perspective. There will be times this year when he puts up only eight or nine points at high ownership and a high price tag, so there’s a bit of “buyer beware” here as well.
Of course, the place where the Vikings are most susceptible is in the secondary. And while I’m not making as big of a deal as others out of the losses in the Vikings’ secondary (they lost some “names” in Xavier Rhodes and Trae Waynes — but those names gave up the seventh most wide receiver catches in the NFL a year ago), and we know that Mike Zimmer always does a great job scheming his defense to mask deficiencies and limit big pass plays. With that said: Allen Lazard, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, and Robert Tonyan are all raw, developing players — and Rodgers is going to be very happy to throw the ball to Adams as much as he can. Adams saw double-digit targets in eight of his last nine regular season games last year, including four games out of nine with 13 or more targets. He posted only one true dud in that stretch (four catches for 41 yards and no touchdowns against Washington), and he topped 100 yards or scored a touchdown in seven of those nine games — with 24+ DraftKings points in four of those game. While we don’t want to use past performance as an indicator of what will happen in the future (i.e., “Hey, look: he did this last year, so let’s extrapolate forward and assume he does it again”), we know Adams’ role in this offense and know how much Rodgers likes throwing to him. We also know Rodgers is going to lean on the pass catchers he trusts the most. Adams fits with Dalvin and Thielen (who we’ll get to in just a moment) as high-confidence plays: guys who won’t dud often, and who have upside for a big game.
Swinging back over to Minny: this offense has been very comfortable, for years, focusing on a small band of players — and with Diggs gone, we should be able to look at Thielen’s game logs at the end of the season and see only one or two games below eight targets, with probably more than half his games at double-digit looks. While there is nothing in the matchup that boosts expectations for Cook, Thielen, or Adams, there is also nothing that should scare us away.
Behind Thielen and Cook, there may be about 15 targets remaining (assuming expected game flow) for Kyle Rudolph, Irv Smith, Justin Jefferson, and potentially Olabisi Johnson (along with whoever else mixes in from there). These guys are lower-percentage plays: hoping to capture a touchdown or a broken play. I’ll avoid guessing here and chase more certain upside in other spots.
To put this game in perspective: there isn’t a ton to “love” here — but there are some pieces that should benefit from the way these offenses are run, and from the heavy individual volume they see. For me, Cook, Thielen, and Adams are all rock-solid plays — while Jones has some clear upside (and clear risk). I’m unlikely to branch beyond these guys as a “tighter build” player, with the likeliest scenarios for this game generating more value through bankable volume than through game environment.
Kickoff Sunday, Sep 13th 4:25pm Eastern
Bucs ( 23.0) at
Saints ( 26.5)
Buccaneers Run D13th DVOA/19th Yards allowed per carry
Saints Run O22nd DVOA/19th Yards per carry
Buccaneers Pass D15th DVOA/7th Yards allowed per pass
Saints Pass O19th DVOA/7th Yards per pass
Saints Run D21st DVOA/22nd Yards allowed per carry
Buccaneers Run O30th DVOA/32nd Yards per carry
Saints Pass D11th DVOA/9th Yards allowed per pass
Buccaneers Pass O11th DVOA/28th Yards per pass
- Payton is 4-1 vs Arians: 31-7, 19-31, 48-41, 31-24, 34-17
- As Brees has transitioned to playing just a series in preseason, the Saints have scored 6 and 3 points in the first halves of 2 of their last 3 season-openers
- In the first 3 weeks of the last 3 seasons, Allen’s NOR defense has allowed point totals of: (29, 36, 13), (48, 18, 37), (28, 27, 27)
- Brees’s attempt totals from 2017-19 in W1-W3 vs ROS average: (37 vs 32.7), (43 vs 30), (43 vs 36.7)
- Brees’s yardage totals from 2017-19 in W1-W3 vs ROS average: (289 vs 266.7), (359.3 vs 242.8), (370 vs 285.7)
- Brees’s W1 (attempt, yardage) ranks in his 2017-19 games: (5th, 5th), (2nd, 1st), (2nd, 2nd)
- Brees has faced 4 different Todd Bowles defenses since 2012 (PHI, ARI, NYJ, TB), winning 28-13, 31-7, 31-19, & 34-17, while averaging 272.5yds, 2.75 TDs, 0.5 INTs
- Brees’s #1 target in those games (Graham x2, Thomas x2) averaged 8.5 rec (11.75) for 103.25yds, 1.25 TDs
- Thomas crushed Bowles’s 2019 defense with & without Brees, totaling 19 rec (23) for 296yds, 3 TDs
- The Saints are expected to distribute most of their targets among Thomas, Sanders, Kamara, Cook, Taysom, Smith, Harris & TyMont, making likely all but Thomas & Kamara’s volume very volatile week to week
- If Brees’s early season heavy volume trend continues, this may be one of the better games for one of the Saints ancillary weapons
- TB’s #1 rush defense only allowed over 100 rushing yds three times all year: NOR counted for 2 of those 3 games
- Kamara in those 2 games totaled 29 att 137yds, 16 rec (17) 89yds; 38.6 DK pts (as well as a TD called back)
- Kamara’s forced avoided tackles per touch pre-injury vs post-injury: 0.32 vs 0.14
- Arians’s (1 OC, 3 HC) offensive point totals vs Allen (DC): 23, 34, 24, 17
- In 4 matchups vs Dennis Allen (3 DC, 1 HC), Brady is averaging 341yds & 3 TD, while his #1 receiver in those games (Hernandez, Gronk x2, Edelman) is averaging 8.75 rec (9.5) for 118.5yds, 1.25 TDs
- Brady, now 43 and having not played vs Allen since W2 of his 2017 MVP season, cleared 300yds once in the final 11 games of 2019 (blowout loss vs HOU)
- In just six 2019 games vs pass defenses ranked in the top half of efficiency, Brady put up 28+ DK pts vs PIT (pre-Minkah), and averaged 11.32 DK pts in the 5 others (BUF x2, BAL, PHI, KC)
- New Orleans ranked 13th in pass efficiency defense in 2019, and made 2 coverage upgrades according to PFF (Vonn Bell à Malcom Jenkins, Eli Apple à Janoris Jenkins)
- PFF WR ranks for Godwin & Evans vs Edelman & Harry/Dorsett: 1st & 6th vs 48th & T-76th
- Mike Evans career games vs Lattimore: 1 rec (6) 13yds; 5 rec (13) 55yds; 7 rec (7) 147yds, TD; 4 rec (6) 86yds; 0 rec (3) 0yds; 4 rec (8) 69yds
- Jordan/Davenport have 6.5 sacks vs Bucs tackles in last 3 matchups
- TB upgraded its right side from Dotson to 1st-rd rookie Tristian Wirfs, and added one of the best blocking TEs in the game in Rob Gronkowski
- Chris Godwin torched PJ Williams in the slot in first NOR matchup (125 yds, 2 TDs), but was held to just 47 yds, TD in the second matchup when covered primarily by Gardner-Johnson
- With PJ Williams transitioning to more play at Safety due to one of the NFL’s worst grades in coverage, NOR’s slot coverage is expected to improve with Gardner-Johnson, Robinson, & M Jenkins
- TB’s RB distribution is likely a wait-and-see, considering they’re currently rostering Jones, Fournette, McCoy, Vaughn, & Ogunbowale
- NOR has ranked top-5 in DK pts allowed to RBs in each of the last two seasons, and no team has allowed fewer rushing yds during that time
- As no individual RB has cleared 100 yds rushing vs NOR since Samaje Perine in 2017, the better way to attack this RB defense (for PPR fantasy at least) has been through the air: 19th most RB receiving yds on the 6th most RB receptions allowed in 2019
- Rec/g in 2019 among current TB RBs: Fournette (5.1), RoJo (1.9), McCoy (2.3), Vaughn (2.3), Dare (2.2)
How The Bucs Will Try To Win ::
These are both solid defenses; but when it comes down to it, these should both be really good offenses as well. This is definitely one of the games circled on the calendar for me, just from an “NFL fan” perspective (the Sunday night game between the Rams and Cowboys is another!), as we should have some good football in this spot.
Last year, the Bucs finished 10th in the league in pass play rate — and that was the lowest a Bruce Arians team had finished since 2015. (That sounds more impressive than it is, I should note. That only covers four seasons — and Arians was temporarily retired for one of those. Still: three straight teams of his in the top 10.) Arians doesn’t mind shifting to the run if it will help him win, but his mind goes to the pass first.
This should mesh perfectly with what people have been waiting to see: Tom Brady throwing to Rob Gronkowski, O.J. Howard, Chris Godwin, and Mike Evans. The Bucs are likely to mix in Arians’ beloved vertical concepts with some of the underneath picks and crossers and screens and timing routes that Brady has come to execute so well over the years. They’ll mix in the run as well (likely rotating Ronald Jones and Leonard Fournette while figuring out their rhythm in this game, and potentially using LeSean McCoy in spurts); but especially with how strong the Saints were against the run last season (fifth in adjusted line yards), passing should be the main avenue for the Bucs in this game, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see Brady approach or even surpass 40 pass attempts. (Note: Brady had 40+ pass attempts in seven of 16 games last season, with 12 games of 36 or more attempts; Jameis Winston also went for 40+ in nine games last season under Arians — though of course, he was also turning the ball over so much that he led the league in passing and nobody wanted him as a starter. Those turnovers certainly boosted the need for him to pass!)
How The Saints Will Try To Win ::
Speaking of quarterbacks who can typically be counted on to throw the ball quite a bit :: Drew Brees threw the ball 38+ times in six of 10 healthy games last season (and every game in which he didn’t, the opponent scored 18 or fewer points). Both of these teams avoid empty plays (clock-killing drives that provide no fantasy value; punts; etc.), with the Saints finishing fifth in drive success rate last season and the Patriots near the top of that category year in and year out under Brady. This should allow both teams to eventually look to win this game through the air. The Saints will almost certainly, once again, feature a shorter-area attack that leans on the current strengths of Drew Brees and the strengths of the talents around him (Michael Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders, and of course Alvin Kamara).
Likeliest Game Flow ::
Both of these teams should be able to move the ball, and both of these teams should be able to score. The Over/Under here is “only” 49.5, but it could be as high as 51.5 and I don’t think many of us would blink. As this game moves along, it should become apparent to each team that their best path to a win is “scoring more points,” and that should lead to this game getting progressively more aggressive as it moves along. It’s hard to see either team falling shy of 23 points here, and there is plenty of upside for either (or each) to go for 27+.
What could happen here that would wreck the high-end potential for this game? Plenty!
Either team could have a difficult time scoring in the red zone. General rust could lead to this game starting too slowly for it to ultimately reach its total. Ill-timed mistakes and/or turnovers could wreck things as well. Ultimately, there aren’t many paths in this game that have it looking like a true dud; but even with that, there are plain old crazy things that could happen 5% to 10% of the time to sink any game where everything lines up great. Outside of this, however, there aren’t many paths to a true dud here; and the chances of this becoming more than just “a solid game” are relatively high.
DFS+ Interpretation ::
We’ll look at the Bucs’ side first here, and we’ll try to get a sense for what raw numbers might actually look like at the end of the day. We’ll skip over the running back position, of course (where it’s basically just guesswork — which isn’t to say you can’t go there if you feel like trying to guess; but it is to say that there’s nothing that points to the Bucs’ backfield as a whole producing a big game; and even if there were, there’s no clear picture of who will see the true majority of this work). But looking at the passing attack, we’ll go ahead and give Brady a safe range of around 38 to 40 pass attempts — and we’ll consider ourselves to be left with about 30 after we’ve accounted for passes to running backs and throwaways (Brady is, of course, the king of throwaways).
In Week 1 — after a shortened offseason following a year away from the game — it’s likely we see Rob Gronkowski playing less than a full complement of snaps, though he should also see some schemed looks that aim to take advantage of the upside/mismatches he creates and the connection he has with Brady. With that, we’re down to around 24 passes left for O.J. Howard, Mike Evans, Chris Godwin (and to a lesser extent, Scotty Miller — though if you wanted, you could throw Miller’s looks in with the running backs and throwaways).
I think we should eventually see O.J. Howard settle in a four-to-seven target range, with Evans and Godwin ending up around eight to 11 targets each week.
On the other side of the ball :: the Saints should take a couple shots downfield to Tre’Quan Smith, and the Saints are always at risk of giving their touchdown opportunities to different players than the ones who got them down to the red zone; but most of the action is going to flow through four key players :: Alvin Kamara // Michael Thomas // Emmanuel Sanders // Jared Cook.
I’ll actually start with Sanders here, who I think will have a bigger role in this offense in the early going than most people are expecting. (Keep in mind that Manny had multiple explosive games last season — on multiple run-heavy teams — coming off his blown Achilles. Sanders is a great fit for what this offense does, and I’ll actually be surprised if he doesn’t get at least six targets — and I won’t be surprised at all if he climbs up to eight or nine looks.)
Even if we take away 14 to 16 pass attempts for Tre’Quan, Manny, throwaways, and random passes to other guys in the red zone, this could still leave around 22 pass attempts for Kamara, Cook, and Thomas. Cook is likely to stick in a range of four to seven looks, which could keep Kamara (five to eight targets) and Thomas (nine or more targets) in their normal range as well in this spot.
From my angle, then, I see a couple ways to play this:
1) You could pick and choose the pieces you want to target in this game. With this approach, you would want to basically isolate the players who you think will provide the most bang for the salary buck (with a tiebreaker focus on the player who can give you an additional edge through potential for a big game at potentially lower ownership; this would be guys like Sanders and Howard — guys who should be largely ignored by the field in this spot, but who have clear shots at a big game). If going this direction, of course, the Saints’ side (with the more certain distribution of touches) gives you a softer landing spot — but you could also try to guess right on the distribution of targets on the Bucs’ side, with enough of a safety net that this shouldn’t kill you if you guess incorrectly (i.e., even if you pick Godwin, for example, and Evans is the player who pops, Godwin should still get enough work to not crater your roster). I will note that there seems to be a general belief that Evans is not as good of a fit for Brady as Godwin is — and while this may prove to be true, this is also (very much) a “thing we don’t know.” Since everyone is acting like they do know, Godwin could see a decent rise in ownership over Evans — making Evans an interesting leverage play.
2) You could decide to stack this game with a hedged approach that focuses your rosters on the pieces you think give you the best shot at first place (based on salary, expected production, and expected ownership), while making sure to also build in some safety with rosters that include players who are likeliest to benefit if your other players fail.
As straightforward as this game is, it’s also a fairly key game on the slate, as it should draw plenty of ownership action. With that said :: this doesn’t mean it will “definitely be necessary” to have pieces from this game in order to win a tourney! There are certainly scenarios in which a number of these guys land in a respectable range for their salary without anyone posting a truly “have to have it” game — either because the game itself underwhelms a bit, or because (the likelier scenario) the ball gets spread around enough on both sides that no one blows up.
I’ll almost certainly have some level of exposure here myself (I’ll have a better feel for all this by the time we reach the Angles Pod and Player Grid on Friday night, of course!) — but as we’ve seen going through this slate, there are other spots out there that have room to pass this game in the “have to have it” category.