In the weekly Fantasy Trends, we leverage the Trends tool to find quarterbacks, wide receivers and running backs with notable data points for the upcoming main slate. For more of our weekly football content, visit our NFL homepage.
High-Wind, Low-Total Games
As Action Network writer Mark Gallant reported earlier this week, we have several heavy wind games for Week 1. There’s also an unusually large volume of bets placed on the under this week. So, I combined those two data points into a single trend to investigate how high-wind, low Vegas total games affect fantasy value at each position.
- The game’s projected wind speed is more than 10 mph.
- The game’s closing total is under 46.
We should expect quarterbacks to take a hit in heavy wind games. With the exception of guys such as Patrick Mahomes and Aaron Rodgers, most quarterbacks don’t have the arm strength to thread the needle in blustery conditions. Heavy wind throws off timing routes, limits plays downfield and increases the probability for interceptions. Moreover, games with low Vegas totals typically don’t project huge fantasy quarterback ceiling games. Intuition says quarterbacks should underperform in these conditions, but what does the data say?
As expected, quarterbacks’ Plus/Minus takes a big hit in windy, low-total games. Interestingly, however, quarterbacks with rushing upside excel in these conditions, boasting a Plus/Minus of +1.88 and Consistency of 52.2%. On top of that, mobile quarterbacks average 18.46 points per game under these conditions with remarkably low ownership.
There are four quarterbacks in this week’s slate who match this trend. Among them, only one quarterback has the projected rushing upside to warrant roster consideration: Tyrod Taylor.
- Ben Roethlisberger ($6,600 DraftKings) at Cleveland Browns
- Joe Flacco ($4,900 DraftKings) vs. Buffalo Bills
- Nathan Peterman ($4,200 DraftKings) at Baltimore Ravens
- Tyrod Taylor ($5,400 DraftKings) vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
We’ve already highlighted Taylor as the best streaming quarterback option in DFS this week. He boasts the 12th-highest median projection and seventh-highest floor projection among quarterbacks. He also fits our trend as a mobile rushing quarterback in a windy, low-total game, exposing him to a historical Plus/Minus of +1.88. Consider fading Big Ben, and target Taylor instead.
Running backs are supposed to fare well in adverse weather conditions. Game script favors a conservative rushing attack, and running back volume is the best predictor for fantasy points. However, if you choose to roster a running back in a high wind, low-total game, make sure he’s projected for a large workload:
The data confirms that high-volume running backs indeed perform well under these conditions, boasting a Plus/Minus of +0.97 with low ownership of 9.5%. However, the data is damning for running backs projected for less than 40 rushing yards. Lower volume running backs have an atrocious Plus/Minus of -1.89 and only a 24.0% Consistency rate. On top of that, they have an unusually high ownership rate (30%).
There are several running backs in this week’s NFL DFS slate who match this trend. Below, I’ve posted recommendations for running backs who deserve roster consideration and those who you should avoid:
- LeSean McCoy ($6,000 DraftKings) at Baltimore Ravens
- Alex Collins ($5,600 DraftKings) vs. Buffalo Bills
- Le’Veon Bell ($9,400 DraftKings) at Cleveland Browns
- Carlos Hyde ($4,500 DraftKings) vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
- Chris Ivory ($4,900 DraftKings) at Baltimore Ravens
- Duke Johnson ($4,700 DraftKings) vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
- Javorius Allen ($4,200 DraftKings) vs. Buffalo Bills
- Nick Chubb ($4,100 DraftKings) vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
- Kenneth Dixon ($3,900 DraftKings) vs. Buffalo Bills
Note: Continue to monitor Bell’s holdout situation in Pittsburgh. If Bell does not return to the Steelers for Week 1, James Conner will likely earn the start and could be an intriguing play in DFS.
Wide Receivers & Tight Ends
Wide Receiver and tight end production is highly correlated with quarterback performance. Therefore, it stands to reason that since quarterbacks underperform in adverse weather, so too should receivers and tight ends.
The data confirms our suspicion that wide receivers and tight ends underperform in these game scenarios. Interestingly, high-volume wide receivers have the worst historical Plus/Minus of all receiver splits. Wide receivers projected for more than 55 receiving yards return a Plus/Minus of -1.15, which shows they’ve often been a poor value for their high price tags.
There are three wide receivers in this week’s slate who are projected for more than 55 receiving yards and match our trend.
- Antonio Brown ($8,600 DraftKings)at Cleveland Browns
- JuJu Smith-Schuster ($5,900 DraftKings) at Cleveland Browns
- Jarvis Landry ($5,500 DraftKings) vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
Low-total games imply there won’t be much offensive production, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that a defense is worth rostering. Low-total and high-wind games could result in more conservative play-calling, which may limit turnovers. Moreover, in a conservative game script, there will likely be fewer total offensive possessions, which may limit a defense’s opportunity to rack up sacks and turnovers. So, how do fantasy defenses typically perform in games such as these?
Both home and away fantasy defenses boast a nice Plus/Minus in high-wind, low-total games, but there’s a slightly better edge and lower ownership for home defenses. I also compared this data to defenses in games with only high wind or only low totals:
Compared to both control groups, defenses in high wind, low-total games hit a nice fantasy sweet spot. In this week’s NFL DFS slate, there is one defensive unit that checks all the right boxes for our trend: the Baltimore Ravens ($3,800 DraftKings) playing at home against the Buffalo Bills.
The Ravens defense boasts the highest median projection, highest projected ceiling, and the fourth-highest projected floor among defenses this week. On the other sideline, the Bills named Nathan Peterman their starter for Week 1, which offers tantalizing fantasy upside for the Ravens defense. In four games last season, Peterman posted an abysmal 252-2-5 total passing line. The Bills will likely try to hide the error-prone Peterman in their offensive game plan, but if Buffalo is forced to pass the ball, Baltimore’s fantasy ceiling could be huge.
After this piece is published, FantasyLabs is likely to provide news updates on a number of players herein mentioned. Be sure to stay ahead of your competition with our NFL news feed.
Photo Credit: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports
Pictured Above: LeSean McCoy