NFL DFS Picks and Analysis Week 11: The Grind Down
Welcome to the RotoGrinders NFL Grind Down, a fantasy football advice article for DraftKings, FanDuel, and Yahoo. This DFS breakdown is an all-encompassing preview of the week ahead in the NFL from a daily fantasy sports perspective. We’ll provide all the projections, projected ownership, picks, targets, and analysis you need to set your lineups for this week’s contests.
Every game will be broken down with a DFS-first mentality. Betting lines are shown with projected team totals, spreads, and moneyline to give you an idea of the game environment. Each contest is then analyzed team-by-team, with a focus on finding matchups to exploit and trends to follow. At the end of each section, we’ll deliver a DFS cheat sheet of stacks to build, players to target, and low projected ownership plays that can make an impact on your weekly success.
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Sports Betting Lines and Overview
Houston Texans DFS Breakdown
Injuries to Monitor
David Johnson (Out)
Duke Johnson (Probable)
Running Game Outlook
The Texans aren’t a team that is looking to line up and run the ball down their opponent’s throats. They have the eighth lowest rush rate in the NFL and that includes 48 rushing attempts from their quarterback. This has hurt the production of their backfield, but they continue to suck us in with cheap price points and favorable matchups. David Johnson was placed on IR after suffering a concussion in Week 9 and Duke Johnson played on 95% of the snaps in last week’s game against the Browns. Unfortunately for the large portion of the field that rostered him in DFS, he could only muster up 5.4 fantasy points.
I am usually willing to overlook a single bad outing, especially given the nature of that game. There were wind gusts of 50 MPH and the Texans were trailing for most of the second half. The offense couldn’t sustain drives and only put up seven points. They should bounce back nicely at home against the Patriots, who are dead last in total defense DVOA this season. The Texans have one of the worst run-blocking units in football, but Johnson should still find some holes on the ground in this matchup. New England is ranked 31st in DVOA against the run and 28th in defensive adjusted line yards. As it stands on Thursday afternoon, Johnson is one of the best point-per-dollar plays of the main slate.
Passing Game Outlook
As noted above, we shouldn’t put much stock into last week’s game against the Browns. The wind was unmanageable for both offenses and the two teams combined to score a whopping 17 points. We can expect a much better game environment this week. We have two of the worst defenses in football and they are playing indoors. Before last week, Deshaun Watson had a five-game stretch where he scored at least 25 fantasy points. This offense has improved since the team fired Bill O’Brien and Watson will either be productive in a close game, or he’ll rack up stats in garbage time. There might not be a quarterback in fantasy that I’d rather have in my lineup when down 14 points in the fourth quarter. The Patriots haven’t been able to get pressure on the quarterback and are ranked 30th in DVOA against the pass this season.
While we shouldn’t place too much emphasis on WR/CB matchups, I do want to keep an eye on the availability of Stephon Gilmore. He hasn’t played since Week 7, but was able to practice on a limited basis on Wednesday. When healthy, he’s an elite cornerback that is capable of shutting down an opposing team’s best receiver. No offense to Jason McCourty and J.C. Jackson, but they aren’t nearly as intimidating of matchups. I’ll have interest in the Texans passing game regardless, but would certainly view it as a positive if Gilmore has to sit out another week. The one positive to Duke Johnson being highly owned is that he will naturally lower the ownership of his teammates.
If we throw out last week’s windy game against the Browns, Will Fuller and Brandin Cooks have shown a surprising amount consistency over the last six weeks. Fuller caught a touchdown in six straight games, while Cooks topped 13 fantasy points in four straight games. On the season, Cooks has more targets (68) and a lower aDOT (9.5), while Fuller has more air yards (741) and touchdowns (6). Both are viable in tournaments this week against the Patriots. If we get news that Gilmore is going to play and going to shadow one of these two receivers, I’ll slightly bump up the other. I’m not too interested in the other pass catchers here, but Jordan Akins is only $2,500 on DraftKings if you are looking to take a stab at a min-priced tight end.
Strong Projections: Duke Johnson
Roster Construction Punts/Values: Duke Johnson
My Expected Team Exposure: Medium (Cash) / High (GPP)
New England Patriots Projections Breakdown
Injuries to Monitor
Julian Edelman (Out)
Sony Michel (Out)
Damien Harris (Probable)
Ryan Izzo (Probable)
Running Game Outlook
The Patriots are the exact opposite of the Texans in that they are looking to run the ball as often as they can. They lead the NFL in run play percentage and have the third most rushing yards per game as a team. A large part of that is their quarterback, but we’ll get to him shortly. After struggling to find success on the ground for the last two seasons, the Patriots may have found their answer in Damien Harris. He has topped 100 rushing yards in three of his six starts this season and has the fifth best DYAR (Football Outsiders’ Defense-adjusted Yards Above Replacement) of any running back with at least 80 rushing attempts.
We’ve established that Harris has the talent, now we need to take a look at his matchup. He happens to be in luck, as the Texans likely have the worst run defense in the NFL. On the season, they are ranked 32nd in DVOA against the run, 32nd in defensive adjusted line yards, and 30th in fantasy points allowed to running backs. Harris just ran for 121 yards against the Ravens, so I can’t wait to see what he does against the Texans. The downside is that he’s not involved in the passing game and that he’ll likely need a touchdown to pay off his salary, but I like his chances. I prefer him over Rex Burkhead and James White, as they are best suited in games where the Patriots can’t get much going on the ground.
Passing Game Outlook:
While I love Damien Harris as a low-owned tournament play this week, I have even more interest in Cam Newton. While his throwing motion doesn’t look as crisp as it did earlier in the season, this is as motivated as I have ever seen him. He’s taking accountability for their losses and continues to say all of the right things in his interviews. After everyone left the Patriots for dead late in their Week 9 game against the Jets, Newton led them to a victory and followed it up with a win over the Ravens the next week. If they can pick up their third win in a row, they’ll be right back in the playoff hunt. Newton offers a solid rushing floor, he’s cheap, and it’s easy to pair him with his favorite wideout.
Even with N’Keal Harry back from injury last week, it was clear that Jakobi Meyers is the WR1 in this offense. Over the last three games since Julian Edelman was placed on IR, Meyers has a massive 42% target share. During that stretch, he’s caught 23-of-31 targets for 296 yards. On top of that, they even let him throw a trick play touchdown to Rex Burkhead. Even though this is a run-first offense, Meyers is getting more than enough usage to look his way in DFS. The best part is that he’s cheap and you can build a nice affordable game stack when you pair him with Newton and run it back with Duke Johnson or one of the Texans receivers. Harry and Damiere Byrd are fairly easy fades until the Patriots start airing it out more or until their target shares increase.
Strong GPP Differentiators: Damien Harris
My Expected Team Exposure: Medium