Larejo is a mid-stakes tournament mastermind who specializes in outmaneuvering 150-max players with a small number of entries
Don’t take Week 18 at face value. That’s my advice for the week.
Last season, in the final week, we saw game totals of 82 (Bills/Dolphins), 79 (Titans/Texans), 72 (Lions/Vikings), and 71 (Bucs/Falcons), all on the main DFS slate, and every one of those games involved at least one team with nothing to play for except to be a spoiler. Two seasons ago, none of the Week 17 games topped 58 points. But if we rewind to the 2018 season, we also had game totals of 80, 71, and 66, again involving one or both teams that were out of the playoffs. My point in bringing this up is that the last week of the season brings increased volatility to NFL scoring. We can lay out in advance which teams have the motivation to play for seeding, rest, pride, or none of the above, but it does not guarantee they won’t actually come to play on Sunday. Just keep that in the back of your mind. (I’ll note, before overreacting to last year’s results, three of those four games did carry over/unders north of 50 points, and this season has been much lower scoring than last season). So bring your charts, graphs, labels, and categories, and throw them out the window, as we will likely see some teams with records of 4-12, 6-10, and 8-8 bring their A games this weekend. NFL careers are short, and strong game tape can catapult careers or bring employment and a new contract next Fall.
I’ll be going back to my roots this week, identifying three games overall in which I’d like to have stack exposure, and filling in floating and value plays around them. It’s going to be more difficult than usual to identify which games will explode. So my general advice is to get exposure to as many lineups and games as you can this week (take the Sonic approach and build a stack for every game) and lean into tournaments over cash lineups this week. Play for the range of outcomes to be vast, and set yourself up to win big if you win.
I can honestly say I hate this and love it at the same time. Reasons I hate this player block: Dalvin and Jefferson may carry over 20% ownership. Reasons I love this player block: Vikings condensity raises the floor, we have a classic scenario forming where Jefferson seems to be deployed mostly as a floating play without his QB this week, and Darnell Mooney is in an underrated spot. Adding to the intrigue in this game are two coaches that are coaching for jobs next season, along with a 17-9 score just three weeks ago in the same matchup outdoors in Chicago.
With Kirk’s headlines lately about his bout with COVID, his unvaccinated status, and more, many will fail to see his affordable price and underrated matchup. The Bears defense has been league average all season, getting torched by great offenses like the Packers, Rams, Bucs, and Cardinals, but dominating inept teams like the Giants just last week. Similarly, Dalvin Cook was bottled up for 28/89/0 last time these two teams met in December, but he has averaged over 100 rushing yards at home this season and still only has six touchdowns on the season after his 16 TD performance one year ago. He’ll be chalky for good reason. As will his teammate, Jefferson, who as Papy mentioned in the NFL Edge, is now in clear alpha WR mode without Adam Thielen, in a matchup against a Bears defense that ranks 28th DVOA against #1 WRs. And finally, we have a Bears bring-back. Most will go to still-underpriced David Montgomery, but I think I like Mooney better. In just five Andy Dalton starts, Mooney averages 10.2 targets. He’s risen to WR1 status in Chicago, possesses YAC upside, and in the right game script can produce a Brandin Cooks-like box score.
The Jets are a sieve on defense, against both the run (26th DVOA) and the pass (31st DVOA), and have a lousy implied team total of 12.5 points in this matchup against the Bills on Sunday. But the Bills are projected to score 28.5, possibly 30 points. So where do the Bills touchdowns come from this week? They have many options, as we know, and they are also healthy with the exception of Emmanuel Sanders. It’s likely we see a notable score or two emerge from either Josh Allen, a Buffalo RB, or a Buffalo pass-catcher if they score over 30 points.
At the moment, it seems the Buffalo backfield will gain the most steam for this matchup, as the Jets seem more notorious for not being able to stop the run. Singletary, for what it’s worth, is also playing the best football of his career right now with a touchdown in three straight games (four overall in that timespan). But, this is still a pass-first team. We need to remember that. So while it’s possible we see a similar game script as in these teams’ first matchup in Week 10, it’s also possible we get a game here where Buffalo pass-catchers can get there “on the way up.”
Dawson Knox and Cole Beasley as a player block feels uncomfortable. But Beasley right now, is underpriced for his role on DK, while Knox is coming off a zero-catch performance. By playing both of these guys, and not playing Josh Allen, we’d have to hope A) Allen does not rush for a touchdown, and B) the Bills throw the ball more than 30 times, essentially deploying a “throw to win” and get their passing game right before the playoffs. There’s some natural leverage here off Singletary, which I am drawn to as well, as an affordable way of getting exposure to the second-highest team total on the board.
This game won’t go overlooked this weekend. It’s a late-game hammer, with the highest total (48), and two competent offenses actually projected to score more than 20 points. We also have a version of the Seahawks offense which seems to finally be clicking, going up against the team that leads the NFL in no-huddle rate (34%) in the Arizona Cardinals. My favorite plays right off the bat in this game are Wilson + Lockett. If there’s any sentimental narrative around Russell’s potentially final game as a Seahawk, it’s Tyler Lockett who will get up for it and make sure he gives it his all (at least that’s my take). Lockett himself had a 200 yard, three-touchdown performance against this Arizona team just last season, while also torching them for over 100 yards earlier this season. Past performance does not dictate future results, but it’s clear he doesn’t dislike the matchup. With how Rashaad Penny has looked recently, including him in this player stack is viable as well. The Seahawks will likely give him 20 carries again to see what he can do with them, to get all the information necessary to see what role he’ll walk into next season.
On the Cards side, Kyler is viable as always. But I am being drawn to where big plays can come from. We know historically the notion of the Cardinals offense not producing tournament-winning scores is there, but without Hopkins, we at least have the benefit of a more condensed target tree featuring Christian Kirk, Zach Ertz, and AJ Green. They have also worked in Antoine Wesley in the red zone the last few weeks, but overall Kirk is my favorite in this game due to his propensity for the big play. If it’s coming from somewhere on Arizona, it’s likely through Kyler or Kirk.