NFL DFS Picks and Analysis - Week 11: The Grind Down - Saints vs. Falcons

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

New Orleans Saints DFS Breakdown

Team Projections

QB Team DKSal FDSal YHSal Proj Rank ProjAtt ProjYds
Jameis Winston NOS $5,900 $7,200 $30 18.42 QB16 29.40 231.57
RB Team DKSal FDSal YHSal Proj Rank ProjRu% ProjTar%
Alvin Kamara NOS $9,200 $9,700 $34 21.49 RB2 50.00% 20.00%
Latavius Murray NOS $5,900 $5,000 $13 8.34 RB36 33.00% 3.50%
Ty Montgomery NOS $4,000 $4,600 $10 0.44 RB80 1.50% 0.50%
WR/TE Team DKSal FDSal YHSal Proj Rank ProjTar% ProjTar
Michael Thomas NOS $7,300 $8,200 $29 17.88 WR8 26.50% 9.74
Tre’Quan Smith NOS $3,500 $5,300 $15 7.21 WR74 11.50% 4.23
Emmanuel Sanders NOS $4,900 $5,600 $20 9.66 WR59 15.50% 5.70
Deonte Harris NOS $3,200 $5,000 $10 1.47 WR108 2.50% 0.92
Marquez Callaway NOS $3,000 $4,900 $10 0.91 WR117 1.50% 0.55
Jared Cook NOS $4,100 $6,100 $21 8.12 TE15 12.00% 4.41
Adam Trautman NOS $2,500 $4,200 $10 1.78 TE54 3.00% 1.10
Injuries to Monitor

QB Drew Brees (Out)
RB Alvin Kamara (Questionable)
WR Tre’Quan Smith (Questionable)

Running Game Outlook

Alvin Kamara should get a big bump without Drew Brees, for reasons we’ll cover in the passing game outlook. Kamara is playing 68% of snaps this season with a 26.1% target shares that leads all RBs in the NFL, by far.

The question is whether or not we pay up and why to do so for him over Dalvin Cook.

Cook has the advantage in total market share 54.9% to 29.3% since Week 8, and Cook’s three targets per game over that span is icing. But Kamara isn’t just getting nine targets per game since Week 8, he’s leading the team by far, meaning that the coaches are handing him the game- just in a different manner. The Saints and Vikings are both implied to score between 27 and 28 points with gamescripts heavily favoring Kamara and Cook. The projections say Cook has the point-per-dollar advantage for cash games, but ownership should be absolutely bonkers in favor of Cook more than 3:1, so Kamara is at the forefront of my attention for GPPs, as no one is playing both.

Passing Game Outlook

Jameis Winston is a riverboat gamblin’ gunslinger. In 25 starts over the past two seasons, he threw for 300 yards per game and had a pretty sticky 5.2% TD rate with over 10.0 IAY/PA. The potential against a terrible Falcons defense at home in the dome with the 2nd-highest game total on the slate is through the roof.

But can we just rap here for a second?

With this mad craziness came a 4.8 INT% last season. Some of it regression after a season under 4.0, but most of it sticky because a man is who a man is. Sean Payton is known for putting a lot of points on the board and allowing his QB to be INT-indifferent, but the Saints are far more fragile these days. Drew Brees with his, uh, limitations; and now Winston with his propensity to leave caution to wind and just fire away. We surely can’t believe Payton—the players’ coach he might be—to just hand Jameis the ball and say, “Go get ‘em, pardner.”

We have to go into this game believing that mechanisms will be in place to mitigate the inherent risk Jameis poses because it would really suck to lose a gimme at home to a terribly terrible division rival while battling for a division title, only a half-game in front of the Bucs. We don’t know what those mechanisms will be.

After Drew Brees left Week 10 at halftime, Winston only had 5.1 IAY/PA. Which isn’t bad for Kamara. It’s excellent for Kamara, as they’re running clearouts for him every other play. But for Michael Thomas to be relevant, we need the quick slants back in our lives. For Jameis to smash value, he might need to go rogue on several clearouts and go deep to a decoy or two when he’s feelin’ it. But will he need permission to do so?

What we really need is a deep piece who’s gonna break free that Jameis can’t resist. We’re gonna need Tre’Quan Smith creating space for Kamara and Thomas to get that YAC.

Do we have shares of Jameis in GPPs? Depends on the ownership, but my leaning is no, at this time. Do we play him in cash? Maybe. I just have questions. The Jameis-Cook-Thomas stacks are just gonna scream for us to ignore them all and just play Kamara. Seems like the wise route.

Not gonna go too much into this, but Taysom Hill is a $4,500 TE on FD. Coming into Week 10, he had two straight weeks of a 10% market share. In Week 10, that ballooned up to 15.4%. The thing with Hill is that no one knows what Payton wants to do with him any given week, but there are seemingly endless gimmicks in the book for him. At the minimum price with virtually no opportunity cost, we just play him. We wish Jared Cook was cheaper on DK, but the position is a wasteland, so he’s a way to differentiate the chalky combos with a doublestack.

Strong Projections: Alvin Kamara, Michael Thomas

High Upside Correlations: Any mixture of Jameis Winston, Alvin Kamara, and MIchael Thomas on DK; Jameis Winston + Taysom Hill + Alvin Kamara or Michael Thomas on FD

Strong GPP Differentiators: Is Alvin Kamara a differentiator?

Roster Construction Punts/Values: Taysom Hill (FD), Tre’Quan Smith (if he plays, which is a longshot)

My Expected Team Exposure: High on Kamara; unsure on the rest, but it’s High or Low

Atlanta Falcons Projections Breakdown

Team Projections

QB Team DKSal FDSal YHSal Proj Rank ProjAtt ProjYds
Matt Ryan ATL $6,300 $7,800 $31 19.6 QB11 37.38 279.99
RB Team DKSal FDSal YHSal Proj Rank ProjRu% ProjTar%
Todd Gurley ATL $5,900 $6,700 $21 13.12 RB21 55% 8%
Brian Hill ATL $4,000 $5,000 $10 7.03 RB46 33% 4%
Qadree Ollison ATL $4,000 $4,700 $10 0.63 RB79 4%
WR/TE Team DKSal FDSal YHSal Proj Rank ProjTar% ProjTar
Julio Jones ATL $7,500 $8,100 $28 17.8 WR9 26% 9.79
Calvin Ridley ATL $7,000 $7,800 $27 17.04 WR11 25% 9.41
Russell Gage ATL $3,900 $5,100 $12 8.69 WR67 14% 5.27
Olamide Zaccheaus ATL $3,500 $4,700 $13 2.69 WR96 5% 1.69
Christian Blake ATL $3,000 $4,700 $10 0.91 WR117 2% 0.56
Hayden Hurst ATL $4,400 $5,500 $17 10.02 TE8 15% 5.65
Luke Stocker ATL $2,500 $4,000 $10 0.61 TE62 1% 0.38
Injuries to Monitor

WR Calvin Ridley (Questionable)

Running Game Outlook

Todd Gurley isn’t any good, but the Falcons want him to score TDs. He’s tied for the league lead in red zone carries at around 4.5 per game, while eight of his nine TDs have come from there. This should be a high-scoring affair and ATL is only a 4.5-point dog. The team should get in the box three times, of which we have to figure once will come from Gurley. The opportunity isn’t the problem so much as whether or not we believe the Saints defense matters.

The Saints lead the league in run DVOA, but we wouldn’t be rostering Gurley for a 100-yard steamfest; we’d be looking for ATL to feed him a TD or two that’s setup by the pass.

Passing Game Outlook:

Writing this on Thursday, thoughts haven’t changed much from what I wrote on Tuesday:

“We have no idea about the status of Calvin Ridley. We know that Julio Jones has played four games without Ridley, dating back to last year, and has totaled 55 targets in those games from a QB in Matt Ryan who doesn’t exactly have a great history of spreading the ball around. Julio only saw seven in Week 9 without Ridley for a 6.4 aDOT, but that’s our floor. With a 51-point total in a negative gamescript in the New Orleans dome, we bump him up in our projections to cash consideration and a near-lock in GPPs, depending on the ownership.

“The community is generally distrustful of Julio, relative to his ceiling, so you never know.”

“If Ridley plays, he leads the team—by far—with a 35.8% air yards share, despite on the 22.8% target share to Julio’s 20.9%. Cheaper than Julio on both sites, Ridley should project as the higher point per dollar bringback to the heavily-owned Saints stacks.”

As a strong defense, the Saints shouldn’t stifle the Falcons passing game, but usage can funnel to Russell Gage as a DK play, but he’s too weak for a bringback. Makes more sense as a stack with Calvin or Julio with the Kamara bringback. People love to try making Hayden Hurst happen, but with Gurley dominating the red zone usage, he’s a tough scene.

Coming back to Ryan. If we believe in the Saints run D, coupled with Atlanta getting three TDs, Ryan isn’t crazy for a gamestack, as a way to stack this game and pivot off of Jameis-Thomas. He doesn’t run the ball and he isn’t cheap, but he’s top-five in the NFL with 8.7 IAY/PA and can drop back 45 times in this one. There could be 375-plus air yards and two or three TDs to go around here. No one’s gonna play him.

Strong Projections: Julio Jones (if Ridley is out), Matt Ryan

High Upside Correlations: Julio Jones or Calvin Ridley + Russell Gage; Matt Ryan + Julio Jones or Calvin Ridley

Strong GPP Differentiators: Matt Ryan, Todd Gurley, Russell Gage

Roster Construction Punts/Values: Russell Gage

My Expected Team Exposure: Medium-High

About the Author

  • Alex Sonty (AlexSonty)

  • Alex Sonty is a part-time political science professor at the City Colleges of Chicago and a professional DFS player. He’s been playing fantasy sports since Mark Brunell and Jimmy Smith paved the way to a rookie championship in 1996. He started playing DFS in 2014 and currently specializes in MLB and NFL cash games, dipping his toes into GPP play. He’s been writing for the Chicago Tribune, SB Nation, and Rotogrinders blog networks since 2010. He holds a J.D./M.A. and L.L.M. from DePaul University.


  • BCN59

    What’s the point of having sonty write anything if he’s more concerned with sounding clever and “hip” and getting his portion submitted than he is about making sure he puts out relevant information taking status updates into consideration?

  • ammillzy

    Well it doesn’t really matter because no one in hell even knows who’s going to play behind center for the saints

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