JMToWin's NFL Edge: Week 7

Each week this NFL season, JMToWin will break down every game on the NFL slate from top to bottom, with a look at game flow, player matchups, coaching tendencies, DFS strategy, and anything else that shows up in his research that might give you an edge on the slate. Widely regarded as the most in-depth, DFS-specific article in the industry, this top-to-bottom breakdown is just what you need in order to conquer the slate and take home money each week!

Week 7

Ravens at Vikings

Vegas-Implied Total: Vikings 22.5, Ravens 17.0

KEY MATCHUPS:

Vikings Run D – 5th DVOA / 3rd Yards allowed per carry
Ravens Run O – 15th DVOA / 10th Yards per carry

Vikings Pass D – 16th DVOA / 15th Yards allowed per pass attempt
Ravens Pass O – 28th DVOA / 31st Yards per pass attempt

Ravens Run D – 16th DVOA / 21st Yards allowed per carry
Vikings Run O – 22nd DVOA / 18th Yards per carry

Ravens Pass D – 2nd DVOA / 13th Yards allowed per pass attempt
Vikings Pass O – 3rd DVOA / 9th Yards per pass attempt

______

Last week, I lost a large amount of money on the belief that Javorius Allen had one of the most locked-in workloads among the lower-priced running backs – with my contention being that Allen’s workload edge made him an even better play than McKinnon, even at a slightly higher price. Allen projected for 16 to 18 carries, five to seven targets, and (unlike McKinnon) goal line work.

Not only did McKinnon score another long touchdown and get a goal line opportunity after Latavius Murray failed, but Allen fell behind fumblin’ Alex Collins in the early-down pecking order. I would love to do the same thing with Allen this week that I recommended last week with Carlos Hyde (targeting a talented player in tourneys at near-zero ownership, on the chance he ends up rising to the top of the pecking order again), but this is probably not a week to expect quality production from Ravens backs even if Allen steps back into the lead role. The Vikings rank fifth in DVOA against the run, third in yards allowed per carry, and 22nd in targets to running backs. In a messy timeshare against a tough run D, I’ll stay away even in large-field tourneys.

Optimally, the Ravens want to run, run, run (they rank 26th in passing play percentage), but the Vikings are best attacked through the air. On the season, the Vikings have seen the 10th most pass attempts in spite of ranking 25th in opponent plays per game. Minnesota is best attacked on the outside, where they have faced the fourth most wide receiver targets on the year – with most of these targets filtered away from number one receivers.

In spite of those reasons for optimism, it’s still tough to get excited about a Ravens team quarterbacked by Joe Flacco, whose best yardage total on the season is 235 yards, and who has more games with zero touchdowns than with one. For PPR scoring, it’s worth noting that Flacco threw 49 times against Pittsburgh and 41 times against Chicago (while also posting two games already beneath 20 pass attempts), so there is a potential for enough volume to support a pass catcher or two. If Jeremy Maclin makes it onto the field, he’ll be the best bet as a tourney shot, as he has seen five to eight targets in all but one game this year, and at a 58% slot rate, he’ll avoid Xavier Rhodes most of the time. Breshad Perriman is unusable if he makes it onto the field this week, and Mike Wallace (if he plays) should match up with Xavier Rhodes, making him a long shot play. More than likely, I’ll end up on none of these guys, but there are at least reasons to bring them up – Maclin in particular.

I imagine a good 8% to 12% of the field in tourneys this week will roster Adam Thielen after he saw 13 targets last week and posted a nice game along the way. As talented as Thielen is, however, I’ll have a tough time pulling the trigger myself at his elevated price, even if Stefon Diggs is out again. Only four teams in the NFL have allowed fewer completions to wide receivers than the Ravens, with quarterbacks completing only 50 of 100 passes to wideouts this year vs Baltimore. You can bet on volume, but there are still much better plays on this slate. If Diggs plays, each guy will suffer from a tough matchup, and they will cannibalize each other’s usage.

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About the Author

  • JM Tohline (JMToWin)

  • JM Tohline (Tuh-lean) – DFS alias JMToWin – is a novelist and a DFS player who specializes in high-stakes MLB and NFL tourneys, with a strategy geared toward single-entry play in multi-entry tourneys. He joined the DFS scene at the beginning of the 2014 MLB season, and has since won five DFS championship seats and two separate trips to the Bahamas. His tendency to type a lot of words leads to a corresponding tendency to divulge all his DFS thoughts, strategies, and secrets…which is exactly what he does in his RotoGrinders articles and RotoAcademy courses. You can find JM on Twitter at JMToWin.

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