Raybon's Rollout: Conference Championships
Welcome to the final edition of Raybon’s Rollout for the 2016-17 season, where I highlight the stacks and players I’ll be rolling out in DFS. For data on the hit rates of the different stacks I list below, check out the intro in the first edition of this column here.
With only two games on the slate, you have to get creative and try to be contrarian with roster construction more so than with player selection, as pretty much every player will garner significant ownership. Below, I’ll highlight my favorite stack for each team that will lead to somewhat unique roster construction.
Per my three-year study, RB1 and RB2 are negatively correlated. However, Freeman and Coleman are an exception: they actually have a slight positive correlation of .15, per FantasyLabs. Freeman has scored 14 TDs in 17 games this season, including 10 in his last six home games. Coleman has scored 12 TDs in 14 games this season, including one in each of his last three games. Freeman is the chalkier play while Coleman provides salary relief with multi-TD upside, but pairing both is a low-risk, high-reward move that most DFS players will not attempt. Freeman and Coleman are home favorite RBs who score a ton of TDs in a game where their team’s implied total is above 32 points. With this stack, you also get the added benefit of potentially being able to capitalize on TD variance working against Matt Ryan, who will likely be the slate’s highest owned QB. Of course, these two backs have combined for 92 receptions and 6 TD catches this year, so this stack also works with Ryan.
Aaron Rodgers averages 2.56 passing TDs per game and has thrown three or more TDs 50% of the time. But where will Rodgers’ TDs go? Jordy Nelson (ribs), Davante Adams (ankle), and Geronimo Allison (hamstring) are all banged up, with Nelson unlikely to play and Adams iffy. Multiple WRs have caught a TD in 11-of-18 Packer games this season, but Jared Cook and Richard Rodgers each caught a TD last week, while the WRs caught none. Randall Cobb caught three TDs against the Giants, but four in his other 14 games. Allison, Trevor Davis, and Jeff Janis all caught TDs when these teams met in Week 8. Rostering Aaron Rodgers stacked with his team’s primary RB, Montgomery, allows you to potentially get access to all of the Packers’ offensive TDs in a game with an over/under above 60 while not necessarily having to guess which Packers will catch scores. Montgomery received both carries inside the five-yard line last week and has the added upside of potentially catching a TD from Rodgers, as he got seven targets last week in addition to 11 carries.
RB LeGarrette Blount + D/ST Patriots
Be greedy when others are fearful. Blount has played four career home playoff games with the Patriots and has scored three or more TDs in two of them. As I mentioned last week, in six career regular season games when the Patriots have been double-digit favorites at home with Tom Brady as their QB, Blount averages 1.17 TDs per game. Dion Lewis has certainly overtaken Blount as the lead back, but that does not preclude Blount from scoring multiple TDs. Blount was in on some Patriots snaps near the goal line last week, but either the team ended up passing or he got stuffed. On a short slate where the masses will likely flock to Lewis, Blount is a high-leverage contrarian play. Especially if the Patriots get a lead, Blount will get opportunities — he played only six fewer snaps than Lewis last week.
The betting lines imply that the Patriots defense will allow 22.5 points, 5.5 points less than any other team on the slate. Favored at home, the Pats are the odds-on favorite to finish as the week’s highest-scoring D/ST. Ben Roethlisberger has a 9:9 TD-INT ratio and 7 fumbles in 9 road games this season, compared to a 22:7 TD-INT ratio and 1 fumble in 7 home games.
RB Le’Veon Bell + D/ST Steelers
On the other hand, I also wouldn’t get caught in the trap of thinking the Patriots will automatically win just because they are a home favorite. The Patriots have been a good run defense, but the Steelers rank second in offensive adjusted line yards, which bests the Pats’ ranking of 11th in defensive adjusted line yards. If the Steelers are able to succeed at playing ball control with Bell, the Patriots offense could suffer while the Steelers defense could prosper. Bell is averaging 31.5 touches per game in the playoffs and may end up being a contrarian play after he didn’t appear in many winning lineups last week despite a having a good game, due to his high salary. Given that the over/under of Patriots-Steelers is 10 points lower than that of Falcons-Packers, it may be better to take a shot at the underdog Steelers D/ST in this game rather than the favored Falcons D/ST in the other game. The Patriots threw two interceptions, fumbled twice, and were sacked twice in last week’s win over the Texans. The Steelers actually rank one spot above the Texans in weighted defensive DVOA, which emphasizes games that occurred later in the season.
Coaching Tendency + Injury to Exploit
Mohamed Sanu is never an exciting play, but he leads all Falcon receivers in red zone targets with 15 (Devonta Freeman has 19), and leads the team with five red zone TD catches. In a game where the Falcons are implied to score 32.75 points against a Packers defense ranked 30th in strength-of-schedule-adjusted fantasy points allowed to WRs, Sanu’s TD equity is as high as it’s been all season.
Sanu may see a more expanded role than usual with Julio Jones (toe) and Taylor Gabriel (foot) banged up. Sanu led all Falcons WRs in snaps last week while Jones and Gabriel shuttled in and out. Sanu may be the only full-time WR for the Falcons this week.