NFL Week Four is upon us, and we need to establish what game environments we want to focus on for our DFS stacks and which are unlikely to bear fantasy fruit. Here are some of the top projected games for fantasy production and some that we will likely want to avoid for stacking purposes.
Best Game Environments
Cardinals @ Rams
This matchup between two of the top offenses in football thus far this year features a 54.5 total with a close spread at Rams -4.5. This duel between Kyler Murray and Matthew Stafford should result in plenty of fantasy goodness through the air and on the ground in the case of Murray. We have two top ten teams in overall offensive DVOA and passing DVOA.
Both defenses also grade out high, and there are some concerns with pace as these are not two of the faster teams in the NFL. Kyler and the Cardinals also put up a dud in week three, and recency bias is strong in the DFS community. Projected ownership has not been established throughout the industry, but I would not be surprised to see this game lower-owned than it should be for the high total and close spread due to these concerns. I’m trusting Vegas here and the upside that we have seen from these QBs and their stacking partners. If points are scored as Vegas thinks they will be in this game, it is likely to result in DFS production for the QBs and WRs.
Browns @ Vikings
This 51.5 total game between the Browns and Vikings features a close two-point spread with the Browns sitting at -2. We have two fast-paced teams here based on data through week three, with both teams ranking in the top 10 in plays called. Both teams also grade out in the top ten in offensive DVOA.
The Vikings have one of the worst pass defenses in the league, and Odell Beckham Jr. is back from injury, joining Jarvis Landry for a capable Browns wide receiver pair. Minnesota also grades out badly against the run, and both Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt are highly involved in the Browns offense and quite viable. Hunt has the added benefit of heavy passing game involvement and the ability to even stack with Baker Mayfield if you so choose. If there is a problem, it is the split at running back and picking between the two. I would have exposure to both in different lineups if multi-entering.
Dalvin Cook should be back at running back for Minnesota after missing week three due to injury. Cook is a force to be reckoned with and is in play for his ceiling upside every week, but this is not a great matchup for Minnesota in the running game as underdogs against one of the better run defenses in the league. They should be forced to air it out against the Browns, who are worse against the pass than the run. Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen are firmly in play, as is Kirk Cousins at QB. I wouldn’t be surprised to see ownership on K.J. Osborn suppressed after he put up a dud performance as a chalky value option in week three. I’d go back to the well there.
Chiefs @ Eagles
Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs will look to get back on track here against Philadelphia in a game with a 54.5 total. Kansas City is heavily favored (-7.5) against an Eagles squad on a short week coming off their loss to Dallas on Monday Night Football.
The pass-heavy Chiefs are throwing over 60% of the time, and over 50% of their targets are going to Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce, making it easy to delineate where the production is coming in their offense. The Eagles are one of the faster-paced teams in the league, which should lead to more possessions for the Chiefs and more opportunities for offensive production. Mahomes to Hill/Kelce stacks will be firmly in play.
While the Eagles struggled offensively against the Cowboys on Monday, the Chiefs have the worst-ranked defensive DVOA in the league against both the pass and the run, and dual-threat QB Jalen Hurts should benefit in the air and ground game alike. I wouldn’t be surprised to see some recency bias lower ownership on the Eagles pieces of this game after Monday’s rough showing. It should be a different story on Sunday.
Worst Game Environments
Lions @ Bears
The total in this matchup between Jared Goff’s Lions and the Justin Fields-led Bears sits at a paltry 42. Chicago is a -2.5 favorite.
There is just little to like in this game. The Lions receiving corps is barely NFL-worthy, with tight end TJ Hockenson being their most viable target by default. If there’s one silver lining, it is that Goff has been airing it out, but he doesn’t have anyone to air it out to, and the Bears defense is in the top ten in pass DVOA this year.
Quarterback Andy Dalton is questionable for the Bears, and there is some chance that he does play if healthy. It does, however, look like we will likely see another start for Justin Fields this week.
The silver lining on the Bears’ side is that the Lions have one of the worst defenses in the league, but after what we saw from Justin Fields in week three, it doesn’t appear that he is NFL-ready just yet. Either that or he is simply hamstrung by the Bears’ questionable coaching. He wasn’t able to get anything going against the below-average Browns pass defense even though the Bears threw 71% of the time, which doesn’t bode well going forward. Detroit is, however, a bottom two team in pass defense, which may help to get him going this week. It will be interesting to see if the Bears lean more on the run after what they saw from Fields in the passing game in week three.
Colts @ Dolphins
Here we have two of the worst offenses in football in a game with a 42.5 total that appears very unlikely to produce much in the way of fantasy goodness. Carson Wentz is showing that the Eagles definitely made the right decision in giving up on him in favor of Jalen Hurts, regardless of whether Hurts turns out to be the guy in Philadelphia. He failed to get anything going against one of the worst defenses in football in week three in the Titans. In his defense, he is dealing with injuries to both ankles, but his questionable physical state does not bode well for him in week three. The Dolphins pass defense is top ten in football and is not what the doctor ordered for the scuffling Wentz.
The Dolphins will be without Tua Tagovailoa again this week and turn to Jacoby Brissett. We cannot expect much from Brissett through the air based on his historical performance or his 215 passing-yard performance in week three’s overtime loss to the Raiders. If there is one silver lining, it is that the Colts defense is one of the worst in the league, and the Dolphins are one of the fastest-paced teams in the NFL. Still, with Brissett at the helm, it is difficult to envision any of his teammates putting up GPP-winning fantasy scores in what should be a middling game at best.