Latest posts by Mario Mergola (see all)
- NFL Picks: 2018 Divisional Round Picks Against the Point Spread - Jan 12, 2019
- NFL Picks: 2018 Wild Card Picks Against the Point Spread - Jan 4, 2019
- Week 17 NFL Picks Against the Point Spread - Dec 28, 2018
We officially have the smallest slate of games to address, this season, with four teams on a bye week and two playing the early morning game in London – thus knocking them out of most daily fantasy contests. We do, however, see a decent split between the main slate and the Primetime games, where talent and game flow are spread nicely between the two.
Sporfolio’s NFL Daily Fantasy Sports game-by-game analysis columns are driven by expected game flow. Based on a combination of our Week 7 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.
New England Patriots at Chicago Bears
Luke’s DFS Take: For four weeks, this Bears defense looked somewhat impenetrable, but Brock Osweiler and the Dolphins exposed them a bit last week, and potentially laid the ground work for Belicheck and Patriots to follow suit. Add that to the fact that the Patriots’ offense is running at full speed and healthy now, and there is not likely to be any matchup concerns for them moving forward. The only reason to have any concern for their offense will be in a game that may not be high-scoring like their matchup with Kansas City, but even in their blowout win against Miami, Brady was plenty productive throughout. As always, it’s hard to know what to predict with the Patriots and their seemingly endless offensive weapons, but this week, I have two players in mind: Josh Gordon and Sony Michel. Gordon is finally healthy, and his workload increased significantly last week. Tom Brady is giddy with excitement every time he is asked about Gordon and his abilities, and the first game he was up-to-speed, Brady fed him a team-high nine targets. Gordon very well may continue to see high volume due to his fantastic ability to run a slant route, and his ability to make a play down the field which is something that has been lacking in this Patriots offense. Sony Michel doesn’t have a great matchup, but his usage and production over the past three weeks has been impressive to say the least. I am seeing the Patriots controlling this game for the most part as I still can’t fully buy into this Bears offense – whether or not that is terribly wrong remains to be seen – and that should provide plenty of volume for Michel once again. He has seemingly gained the trust of the Patriots completely which is something very few running backs do. Seeing 20 carries regularly and getting goal line work while playing on Tom Brady’s offense is something we’d be foolish to not acknowledge and consider until his usage or production declines.
Mario’s DFS Take: Whenever I’m reading the spreads, a game like the one between the Chicago Bears and New England Patriots jumps out at me. This is because it is a ‘trap.’ Normally, when I write about such setups, it is either too dangerous to project how an ‘upset’ could occur, or it lies solely in the hands of the defense. Thankfully for us, this is not the case for Sunday, as the Bears absolutely need their offense to be running smoothly if they have any hopes of a victory. New England’s defense should play along, as it ranks 21st in yards-per-game. Between the poor ranking and the matchup with a Patriots team led by Tom Brady – that will certainly lead to points for New England – Chicago’s Mitch Trubisky has tremendous upside on Sunday. Even if you aren’t buying into the ‘trap,’ think about the fantasy relevant numbers Andrew Luck put up against the Patriots in his two-touchdown loss – 365 yards and three touchdowns. Trubisky will have every opportunity to put forth a respectable effort. The game flow also serves running back Tarik Cohen quite well, not for the matchup with the Patriots’ run defense, but for his ability as a receiver. In point-per-reception formats, Cohen should easily outperform his modest price tag.
Carolina Panthers at Philadelphia Eagles
Luke’s DFS Take: The game between the Panthers and Eagles presents our favorite ‘upset’ of the week, and there is plenty of potential to use that to our advantage. The first target is, hands down, Greg Olsen. Olsen recovered incredibly quickly from a broken foot and put to bed any level of doubt there was surrounding his health last week. He played in all but one of the Panthers offensive snaps, and saw 7 targets come his way. Excluding Christian McCaffrey, Olsen is undoubtedly the most talented, and reliable, receiving option that Cam Newton has, and in a matchup with the defending Super Bowl champions, I fully expect Newton to be leaning on his big tight end to make plays. The other target is obviously McCaffrey. His pass-catching ability always leaves him in-play, but I also like him as a runner this week. The Eagles’ run defense looks great on paper, allowing the second-fewest rush-yards-per-game at just under 80 yards. But if you go back and look at their matchups, many of their games came against teams that either don’t run the ball often, or just don’t run the ball very well. Last week, their defense was shredded apart by Saquon Barkley and, while Barkley is a better runner than McCaffrey, McCaffrey has proven he is capable of being effective on the ground, and after seeing the success the Giants has with Barkley as both a runner and receiver, I’d expect the Panthers to lean on their talented running back plenty in this one. The Eagles’ offense will continue to run predominantly through Zach Ertz and Alshon Jeffery, so both of those guys are in-play due to their volume, but based on how we see this game going, they aren’t as high on our list as they may be other weeks.
Mario’s DFS Take: I don’t want to get too overzealous, but I am completely on-board with a Carolina Panthers ‘upset’ win against the defending champions. After suffering a tough road loss against an NFC East opponent, Carolina needs to play on the road against another NFC East opponent. This week should bring a more focused gameplan, where the Panthers don’t fall behind early and need to scratch-and-claw their way out of a hole. After all, the preferred operating method for Carolina has always involved jumping out to big leads and suffocating opponents who try to state a comeback. With that, Cam Newton and Christian McCaffrey are arguably the two biggest playmakers and, thus, the two biggest fantasy targets. We generally love McCaffrey in this column because of his receiving skills, but Devin Funchess has received at least seven passes thrown his way in each of the last four games.