Even though we only have two teams on a bye, this week, the three games on Thanksgiving leave us with another light schedule for Sunday and Monday. If we are looking for patterns about the overall state of the games, this week sets up more similarly to Week 10 than Week 11. That is, we have more lopsided games than close ones and, with it, more areas from which to choose our best plays according to game flow.
Sporfolio’s NFL Daily Fantasy Sports game-by-game analysis columns are driven by expected game flow. Based on a combination of our Week 12 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 Carolina Panthers
Luke’s DFS Take: This game features two teams heavily involved in the battle for a Wild Card position in the NFC, and the result could prove to be critical to the playoff situation at season’s end. The Panthers are coming off a crushing loss in which a failed 2-point conversion cost them the game. It’s always interesting to see how a team responds after a game like that, but given the veteran leadership on this team, I’m willing to bet on a strong recovery. Cam Newton and Christian McCaffrey are always in-play when considering the Panthers because of their importance to the offense, but after that, it’s always interesting. Should Devin Funchess be out this week, that leaves a lot of targets for D.J. Moore, Curtis Samuel, and Greg Olsen, who would collectively lead the way in receiving along with McCaffrey. If Funchess is out, any of those three make for intriguing value options this week against a middle of the road Seahawks pass defense. Closely follow the health of Doug Baldwin as his practice participation has been concerning thus far. If Baldwin is out, Tyler Lockett is set to resume a prominent role in the passing game and becomes a very viable options. With Baldwin in, it’s hard to be overly excited about any member of this passing game due to the low volume. The Seahawks are back to heavily relying on the running game, and given their success on the ground, it’s hard to blame them. The only problem with their run heavy approach is that it’s done by a committee, and any of Chris Carson, Mike Davis or Rashaad Penny could be the leading rusher any given week. Carson is the leader on the depth chart, but it’s hard to trust any member of this backfield.
Mario’s DFS Take: As evidenced by how often I write about him, it is a rare day when I pick against Russell Wilson. What’s more unlikely is the occasion in which I don’t even consider him for a fantasy lineup. Sunday brings such a situation, as the Seahawks are traveling to Carolina to face a Panthers team that is unbeaten at home and just lost two extremely different, but equally painful games. The first was a nationally televised disaster at the hands of the Steelers in which Pittsburgh scored 52 points. The second was a series of late-game comebacks that only failed because of a missed extra point and an unsuccessful two-point conversion attempt. Both games lead to a positive expectation for Sunday. The Panthers’ defense should continue its above-average play – with the exception of the aforementioned dud, Carolina has otherwise allowed 21.8 points-per-game in five-of-its-last-six contests – and the offense should be asked to carry the team to victory. Most likely, it happens via the trio of Cam Newton, Christian McCaffrey, and Greg Olsen.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Denver Broncos
Luke’s DFS Take: The Steelers narrowly avoided a difficult loss last week in a game where they were far from at their best. The offense was completely shut down for most of the game, but it is a sign of a good team when you can win a game without playing your best. This week’s matchups takes them into Denver which is never an easy place for a road team. The conditions are never favorable, and I can easily see the Steelers’ passing game slowed down once again due to the conditions and the matchup. This matchups lends itself to a game in which the Steelers rely heavily on the ground game, which could mean a big day for James Conner. Conner is coming off his worst game of the season, but gets to face a Denver defense that is allowing 127.9 rushing yards per game. The ground game has been the clear weak point of the Broncos defense all season long, and I fully expect the Steelers to exploit that on Sunday. The Broncos’ offense has been unimpressive as a whole, and the matchup is far less appealing than people may want to believe. After a rocky start to the season, the Steelers’ defense has improved immensely, and they haven’t allowed more than 21 points in their last 6 games. It’s difficult to get excited about anyone on the Broncos outside of possibly considering Phillip Lindsay, who has continued to produce despite little help elsewhere in this offense.
Mario’s DFS Take: The Pittsburgh Steelers burned most of us, last week, but we were bailed out by a long touchdown pass to Antonio Brown that sparked the eventual comeback and, with it, some offense. We can, however, look to the Steelers’ recent trip to Jacksonville as the highest level of defensive competition Pittsburgh will face. Indeed, traveling to Denver might appear to be on-par with what we just saw, but it isn’t. Ben Roethlisberger is a great option in a ‘bounceback game,’ and I would be fine paying the premium to own Brown, yet again. For Denver, the offense has a chance to perform well against a Steelers’ defense that has been suspect, at times. Case Keenum has an excellent game flow, but we might also get a little boost out of Emmanuel Sanders. Even though it has been years since he last played for the Pittsburgh, there is still the small element of a ‘revenge game.’