Total Domination: Week 6
A weekly look at games that could exceed or fall short of betting market expectations. Bettors can leverage recommendations at the sportsbook, while DFS players can use the specific player recommendations mentioned to their advantage. Steve Repsold deep dives each recommendation and advises us the level of bet confidence expressed in units (example: 2u = 2 units).
Indianapolis Colts at New York Jets (-2) Over 45.5 2u
At the start of the season, I was skeptical of Andrew Luck. He was seeing his first action after not playing football for so long that I doubted he would ever play again, much less play well. Well, I’ve been proven wrong. Okay, okay – I’m still a little skeptical of his arm strength and durability. But he’s proven me mostly wrong, so I’m extending him the benefit of the doubt for now.
The Colts certainly haven’t hesitated to test out that shoulder’s durability. Luck paces the league in pass attempts with 245. He’s even ahead of Eli Manning (230), who at the time of writing has played one game more than Luck. He’s averaging nearly 50 pass attempts per game. He’s been efficient (66.5% completion, 12:5 TD:INT), but unexciting, content (or needing) to work in a dink-and-dunk scheme (6.09 yards per attempt). What he hasn’t been doing is running. He’s averaging less than two attempts per game, while in previous seasons he was consistently over four.
The Colts are going to pass, for many reasons. It’s been their tendency all season and I think it continues even though they will get Marlon Mack back, who is healthy, in theory. That was the theory in Week 2 also, which didn’t quite work out. The spread projects a close game with the Colts losing, meaning they will likely be playing from behind and need to throw. But even if they don’t need to, I think they want to. They’ve been eager to spread out the field and go fast. In fact, they’ve got the lowest overall seconds per play and neutral situation seconds per play (according to Football Outsiders pace of play data).
They’ve been flying and the faster that plays get run, the more time is on the clock for scoring more points. Pace is an often-overlooked component of game analysis. But like so many things in football, sample size and situational usage make it a tough thing to nail down. Sometimes it’s better used as a general guide.
I think that’s the case with the Jets, who are dead last in “neutral situation” seconds/play. I wish they included exactly how much game time they were in neutral situations; I don’t think it’s a very big sample. In all their games, they’ve either taken a lead or trailed early. They’re still not a fast offense, but they’re about average, not dead last. Between both teams, it makes for a speedy pace of play for this matchup.
Hopefully, the Colts will keep it close enough that Darnold can’t just sit back and hand the ball off. But they will run it and should find success against a Colts’ defense that has allowed 97+ rushing yards in four of five games. They’ll now be without run-stopping DT Denico Autry and might be missing star-in-the-making Margus Hunt, too.
We know the Jets offense can put up points when they can run the ball. In all three games where they scored more than 12 points, they ran for over 100 yards. In their Week 1 and Week 5 explosions, they ran for 169 and 323 yards, respectively. They will likely need to put up points with their defense hurting. The Jets will be without cornerbacks Trumaine Johnson and Buster Skrine.
Points will be scored and there will be fantasy points to spare, too. The most obvious candidate for a big game is Andrew Luck. With his guaranteed volume and a depleted Jets’ secondary, he could go off. It’s difficult to feel great about Luck’s receivers with TY Hilton out. Eric Ebron remains a strong play, but it has more to do with his volume than a belief in his talent. Nyheim Hines is a sneaky play, particularly with Mack suiting up. It’s a little fancy, but the rookie has been impressive, and they’ve been giving him valuable passing game and red zone work.
It’s a little harder to pinpoint fantasy production on the Jets, especially if Crowell plays. If he doesn’t, Bilal Powell is a lock, but a very obvious play. However, if Crowell does play, Powell could still be the back to cash in and would be under the radar. Last week, the Colts were sliced up by James White through the air, which is where Powell shines. You can’t play Darnold and with all the Jets’ receivers and tight ends healthy and involved, they cannibalize each other’s fantasy production too much to be playable.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Atlanta Falcons (-3) Over 57.5 2u
I wanted to like the under in this game, I really did. 57.5 is a massive total that would be a challenge to reach in most NFL games. Most.
But not with these teams. The Bucs have hit the over in three of four games and the Falcons in four of five. Look at these yardage totals for the Buccaneers by week (offense/defense allowed): 529/475, 436/412, 455/413, 311/483. The Falcons’ totals read the same way: 299/232 (before their entire defense got hurt), 442/439, 407/534, 495/407, 324/381. That is so much offense and so little defense. These teams would not be out of place in the Big 12.
There is simply no reason for any of that to change this week. The Falcons are home in Atlanta, in the dome, where they’ve put up no fewer than 31 points in three games this season. Matt Ryan has looked unstoppable at home and his weapons are as explosive as he could want. Devonta Freeman’s absence has barely been felt with Tevin Coleman stepping in and a surprising early season from Ito Smith.
Ito has been threatening Coleman’s work, particularly in the red zone and passing game, and has been creeping up in the snap counts. In what should be a fast-paced, high-scoring game, those roles could be very valuable, especially if he’s able to keep stealing more off Tevin’s plate.
The Bucs’ D has been terrible in every way in every game and worse since losing Chris Conte. Calvin Ridley has been a breath of fresh air and a welcome change from Taylor Gabriel. Austin Hooper comes to life in the right spots. This is about as good a matchup as possible on paper. Hooper’s hard to trust but cheap with upside. Oh yeah, and they’ve still got a guy named Julio.
They’ve needed all that explosiveness to compensate for a defense that keeps losing key components. They’re now without DT Grady Jarret, in addition to the earlier losses of Keanu Neal, Deion Jones, Derrick Shelby, and Ricardo Allen. It would be nice if Tampa Bay had a single running back option I could feel confident rostering, but they don’t.
But if you’re running a lot of lineups, I think you can take a flyer on a dirt-cheap Ronald Jones, who finally saw some work last game in garbage time. They’re going to need to transition him to a bigger role eventually – Peyton Barber isn’t the answer – and following the bye week is a good time. Against a defense whose front seven has been decimated, the upside is there. Jones was productive in college, but was a health scratch for the first few games for a team whose only other option was Barber.
OJ Howard is trending towards playing, which makes Cameron Brate riskier but sneakier. It’s possible Howard would be limited even if he suits up. The initial estimate on his injury was two to four weeks and this is only week two. Brate has seemed a favorite for the red zone work anyway, but it remains to be seen how that shakes out with Jameis at the helm.
Speaking of Jameis, he’s the clear, obvious top play from the Buccaneers, maybe even from the whole game. People seem to have forgotten it, but he’s a solid quarterback. He threw for over 8,000 yards and 50 TDs in his first two seasons for Bucs teams that weren’t very good overall. He also averages three rush attempts per game and has eight rushing TDs in his career (granted, six were in his rookie year). That’s a lot of fantasy-point potential.
Given that this game is a lock to be popular in DFS, I think the way to attack it in GPP is to stack it. But not just two or three players. Use four or five. There’s lots of viable ways to mix them, too. Play Julio and Ridley with Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson, plus either QB. Or Winston, Evans, and Brate with Coleman and Jones. Play around with it until you find something that also fits the other players you like. Each of the players I named in this paragraph will likely be 20% or more owned, but having four or more together will be very rare. It gets you access to a popular spot (and a lot of it) without having to worry about ownership.
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