In what feels like an instant, we are into the final quarter of the 2016 season. The temperature has dropped, the stakes have risen, and the matchups for this weekend’s action are conveniently excellent. At least, for the football fan. Not so much for the fantasy football owner.
As a combination of weather and matchups, Week 14 appears to be filled with lower-scoring games throughout the schedule. Not only are defenses in the spotlight, but the amount of offensive skill players to target are comparatively small.
Sporfolio’s NFL Daily Fantasy Sports game-by-game analysis columns are driven by expected game flow. Based on a combination of our Week 14 NFL picks against the spread and our expectations for a given game, we project the actions necessary to make these picks come to fruition. We aim to pinpoint players integral to our predicted game flow for each game of the week.
Luke May is Sporfolio’s NFL DFS expert, and Mario Mergola operates Sporfolio as the expert for NFL Picks Against the Spread.
Seattle Seahawks at Green Bay Packers
Luke’s DFS Take: While the Packers and Seahawks might provide one of the best games of the weekend to watch, I am finding it difficult to get excited about any player for fantasy purposes. The Packers’ offense has been on a roll of late thanks to the excellent play of Aaron Rodgers. While he is capable of beating any team – and I do think Green Bay has a good shot at winning the game – I cannot see him putting up enough points on this Seahawks’ defense to make him valuable. The same goes for the rest of the Packers’ offense – which may do enough to win, but most likely not enough to make a fantasy owner happy. While the Seahawks’ offense is coming off a huge victory – and has a good matchup – it also doesn’t appear likely that we will see anything near the explosion of Week 13. In a game that should feature freezing temperatures and snow, there is no offensive player worth rolling out from this fantastic matchup. Instead, I will watch and enjoy what should be a great football game but, if pressed, I would consider either defense.
Mario’s DFS Take: Despite a wide-ranging set of potential outcomes for Sunday’s NFC battle between the Seahawks and Packers, there are a few critical keys to consider for fantasy purposes. While I, personally, get giddy over the prospect of watching a football game in the snow, we saw firsthand how it affects games at Lambeau Field. The forecast has moved away from snow – then back again – and, wherever it settles, the temperature will remain below freezing. We cannot expect to see the same track meet from Seattle that the Seahawks unveiled against Carolina, even if the gameplan – for both teams – remains on the ground. Instead, while we should be in store for a lower-scoring matchup, the game flow projection provides one of the sneakiest buying opportunities of the weekend, as now-Packers running back Christine Michael goes against his former team from only a few weeks ago. In fact, Michael is still the leading rusher on the Seahawks by 243 yards! Michael may not get enough carries to produce a high total of yards, but he is arguably the first option to get goal-line carries. If swinging for the fences, he’s the ‘home run sleeper’ play.
Baltimore Ravens at New England Patriots
Luke’s DFS Take: The final game of the weekend features two teams with no love lost for each other and, with the amount of shared history between the Ravens and Patriots, we should be in store for an intense Monday night game. Of course, great football games don’t always provide great fantasy games, especially with both teams playing at a high level, of late. The Ravens’ defense is coming off one of the most dominant performances of the season and now goes against Tom Brady and the outstanding Patriots’ offense. Who prevails? I am usually one to shy away from using New England’s players, but this week is the exception. Whenever the Patriots are in a game in which the general consensus begins to doubt them – or when there is history or ‘something to prove’ – the team reminds us all, again, how dominant the franchise is. For this specific matchup, the Ravens are still bitter over the Patriots’ unorthodox formations, and it would fit the narrative perfectly for New England to go right back at Baltimore with even more trick plays on Monday night. Tom Brady, Julian Edelman, Martellus Bennett, and LeGarrette Blount are all on my radar, this week. While the matchup on the other side of the ball may favor the Ravens, I still don’t particularly love their offense, and I especially cannot buy into them after a 38-point outburst last week – as regression is at its peak.
Mario’s DFS Take: While it obviously is not included in most daily fantasy sites’ major tournaments, the matchup between the Patriots and Ravens has excellent fantasy upside, mainly because of the value we finally have for one of the best offenses in the game. As a combination of multiple factors – the team’s opponent, injuries, recent history in this head-to-head matchup – the Patriots are generally being projected as the team with a tougher task ahead. Perhaps, on paper, but it should not automatically develop into a hard-fought contest just because there have been so many in the past. Instead, New England is slightly discounted and likely to over-perform, as a whole. For Primetime slates, basically all of the Patriots’ usual suspects are in play, with Tom Brady and Martellus Bennett leading the charge. Specifically, Bennett’s volume should remain high in the absence of Rob Gronkowski, but the straight swap between the two tight ends on the field negates some of what Baltimore has gained through experience over the years. LeGarrette Blount has been a reliable source for both the Patriots and fantasy owners, alike, and he should be the man racking up the most touches as the game draws to a close.