Every Wednesday morning, I’m bringing you some of the most important betting, DFS and fantasy information to know for the coming week of football. Let’s dive into this week’s edition of the Wednesday Watchman.
The NFL should make a Seattle Seahawks vs. Detroit Lions game an annual event; it’s a points bonanza every time! Nice work if you followed the advice from last week’s article and stacked the game in DFS. Using Geno Smith as your QB and running it back with TE T.J. Hockenson was the smash play. Also, the total easily hit the over. The Seahawks were only two points away from reaching the over by themselves.
Keep an Eye on the Skies
In the rain-soaked Northeast, many of the expected spike weeks did not materialize. Paying up for future MVP QB Josh Allen, future MVP runners-up Lamar Jackson and Jalen Hurts or any of their main targets did not pay off in Week 4. Always watch for the weather! Wind, rain and snow are significant factors to consider both when betting and line-up setting.
The Watchman article series drops on Wednesdays but is written on Tuesday mornings. Sunday games occur five full days after these words are written, so weather conditions and the omnipresent injury report should be checked against any advice seen here.
Cowboys Not Rushing Dak Prescott?
Will there be a legitimate QB controversy in Dallas soon? Cooper Rush is helping the Cowboys win games and is doing his best Dak Prescott imitation in the process. Comparing the stats of Rush this year to Prescott last year, we can see they are very similar in yards per attempt (7.23 vs. 7.46), yards per completion (11.89 vs. 10.85), yards after the catch per completion (4.94 vs. 4.95), air yards per attempt (7.83 vs. 7.77) and rate sacked (3.8% vs. 4.8%).
Somewhat disappointingly, Rush does not contribute by rushing. Prescott can and will use his legs to keep the chains moving. While Rush’s story and success are inspirational, I think it makes him more likely to be traded than promoted. This is Prescott’s team, and Dallas has improved its salary cap-related issues, so there is no significant reason to push him out the door.
Stat of the Week
One type of scenario I like to look for is up-tempo teams playing bad pass defenses. Fast, good passing offenses can force opponents into an up-tempo game script. This week’s stat explores positive expected game scripts based on situation-neutral pace (snPace) and net adjusted pass yards per attempt (NAPY/A).
Teams in the top 50% for snPace and NAPY/A, with Week 5 opponents in the bottom 50% for NAPY/A allowed:
- Chargers (vs. Browns)
- Eagles (vs. Cardinals)
- Jaguars (vs. Texans)
- Chiefs (vs. Raiders)
Let’s see what we should take away from this shortlist of (expected) explosive games.
Betting Stats to Know
The Cleveland Browns are 3-point home underdogs to the eastward-traveling Los Angeles Chargers, with a 47.5 total. The Browns are allowing 23.75 points per game this year, all to sub-par offenses (Panthers, Jets, Steelers and Atlanta). They have not faced a team as loaded with playmakers as the Chargers. The timezone-traversing Chargers are allowing 27.00 PPG. Variance exists, but by my math, 50 points being scored seems pretty likely. I would roll with the over, especially if safety-valve slot WR Keenan Allen can return from injury for LA.
The Philadelphia Eagles keep flying and enter their matchup with the Arizona Cardinals as the last undefeated team. They are favored by 5.5, with a total of 49. The Cardinals are finally starting to put it together. With Kyler Murray playing as the Madden version of himself, I easily envision an Eagles first-half drubbing, followed by the catch-up Cardinals putting points up under the roof in Arizona. The Cardinals are allowing 25.75 PPG, and the Eagles are allowing 17.75, but they have only faced stoic pocket passers on questionable offenses. Give me the over.
I am never fond of betting divisional overs. However, I will defer to our focus stat for this week. The Jacksonville Jaguars put up some points on the Eagles’ excellent defense in the pouring rain last week. They enter as 7.5-point home favorites against the Houston Texans, and the total is only 44.5. The strength of Jacksonville’s defense is stopping the run (3.64 yards per carry), so if Houston wants to score — and they will need to — it has better be through the air. The Jaguars’ defense is actually also in the bottom 50% for NAPY/A, and both they and the Texans are in the top 50% for situation-neutral pace. This has the makings of a sneaky blow-up spot, but only if Houston QB Davis Mills can find the 2021 version of himself.
The final matchup is also a divisional battle. The Kansas City Chiefs are fresh off their thrashing of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, favored by seven points at home against the no-longer-winless Los Vegas Raiders. With a total of 51, the game being in Kansas City and both teams having just scored a ton of points in wins, this game is set up for an under. I would not bet any side/total here since my stat conflicts with my gut feeling.
DFS Stats to Know
The Raiders-Chiefs game is not on the main slate (Monday Night Football).
The Chargers hope to have their best slot WR in Allen ($6600) back, but the Browns are quite adept at defending slot WRs (8th fewest points allowed). However, Mike Williams ($7100) has the 16th most fantasy points in routes run lined up outside, while the Browns are allowing the fourth most points to outside receivers. He is the WR play. RB Austin Ekeler ($7800) will catch his share of passes, and now that the Chargers remembered how to use him, he could feast on the Browns. He will be chalky after last week’s explosion, but his prospects are decent. QB Justin Herbert ($7100) continues to heal from his rib injury and can flourish in Cleveland. A Herbert-Ekeler-Williams stack could differentiate Ekeler lineups.
The Browns were uninspiring last week in Atlanta but could have a nice bounce-back here. RB Nick Chubb ($8000) is again the play. The Browns have the eighth-highest yards per carry (5.03) and the second-most total rush yards per game (187.3)! We plan on the Chargers making it a game, so WR Amari Cooper ($6000) and TE David Njoku ($3800) can be considered. Njoku fell flat in a gimmie game last week, but that will just lower the ownership for us. If QB Jacoby Brissett ($5600) couldn’t shine against the Falcons, I am not sure we could trust him in DFS against a better opponent.
Looking at the Eagles’ game against the Cardinals, everyone is in play. The WR play here looks to be A.J. Brown ($7500), who leads the league in fantasy points from routes run lined up outside (55.7). QB Jalen Hurts ($8100), WR Devonta Smith ($6000) and TE Dallas Goedert ($4700) are all viable plays. The Cardinals will give Hurts plenty of time since they have the seventh-worst pressure rate in the league (28.7%). Arizona is allowing the most fantasy points to TEs.
Murray ($7400), WR Marquise Brown ($7200) and TE Zach Ertz ($4800) should all be considered, at home and playing from behind. This is a juicy, stackable game. Hurts-Brown-Goedert with Brown on the bring-back is magnificent but might be chalky, so check on ownership Sunday morning. Murray-Brown-Ertz with Goedert on the bring-back could be a low-owned nice leverage play.
The Jaguars are an up-and-coming squad with a good head coach and lots of moxie. QB Trevor Lawrence ($5600) is developing nicely, and RBs Travis Etienne ($5100) and James Robinson ($6300) provide a frustrating split of the team carries. The pattern appears to be Robinson in games the Jaguars are mostly leading and Etienne in games where the Jaguars are playing catch-up. So choosing one would have me leaning toward Robinson this week. Houston is dead last in fantasy points allowed to RBs, so it is a smash spot. Alpha slot WR Christian Kirk ($6600) should also get some run regardless of the game script.
The Texans are now the last winless team, and while they hang in games, they look about as formidable as they did last year (not very). RB Dameon Pierce ($6200) gets a poor matchup and is likely chalky after his big showing. Mills ($5000) will need to pass to stay in this game, so look to WRs Brandin Cooks ($6100), Nico Collins ($4100) and Chris Moore ($3300) to get a lot of chances. Jacksonville is worse at defending the slot, so Moore could be a sneaky play. This game is stackable, but I feel its best utilization is one-offs or mini-correlations. Use Moore as a budget-saver; use Robinson if you think the Jaguars run away with it.
I especially like grabbing Bills WR Isaiah McKenzie with Jameson Crowder out.
Don’t neglect the waiver wire; I picked up Smith last week, and he performed very well. There are hidden treasures to be discovered.
Check in again next time for The Wednesday Watchman: Week 6!
(Data courtesy of SIS and TruMedia Networks)
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