This series uses the FantasyLabs Tools to analyze the relevant players from the best NFL games of the week. The series does not provide play or fade recommendations. It provides analysis by looking at the dynamics of expected game flow, pace, Vegas lines, and advanced analytics.
Los Angeles Rams vs. Arizona Cardinals
Sean McVay and the Rams have vastly outperformed expectations to start the year, leading the league with 29.8 points per game (PPG), just a year removed from finishing dead last (14.0 PPG) under Jeff Fisher. They’re playing fast this season, ranking first in pace, and are the sixth-most run-heavy unit in the league. The Rams were 22nd in run play percentage last year.
The Cardinals lead the league with a 66.7 percent pass rate, but they did give Adrian Peterson 26 carries last week and are finally healthier on the offensive line. Bruce Arians doesn’t run an uber fast-paced system, but so far they play faster than league-average. Last year the Cardinals were often in negative game script and finished seventh in pace, sixth in pass percentage, sixth in offensive points, and second in plays. The defense has been a top-five unit each of the last two years in yards allowed and takeaways. In 2017, they have taken a step back in that regard, allowing the ninth-most yards and 10th-fewest takeaways.
We may not get Sunday Night Football on the DraftKings main slate, but at least this week we get the London Game. The over/under sits at 47.0 points — second-highest on the main slate — but the Rams’ implied total of 25.25 is ‘only’ fourth-highest. The Cardinals are one of three teams this year to hit their implied total in only one game, and they also have just one win ATS.
The Rams’ offensive line is currently fifth in adjusted sack rate, and the Cardinals struggle to pressure the quarterback. On the other side of the ball, the Cardinals could find it difficult to protect Carson Palmer, as the offensive line — 23rd in adjusted sack rate — is overmatched against a Rams defensive line currently second in the league in sacks. Per DVOA, the Cardinals have a surprising funnel defense, ranking fourth against the run and 24th against the pass this year, so it makes sense to target LA passing options who are not expected to see Patrick Peterson.
Jared Goff has a fantasy points correlation value of 0.40 with Robert Woods and a 0.46 ownership correlation. Adding Peterson could be wise given his increased role and the Rams’ struggles to stop the run, but game script and Palmer’s lack of time behind the line of scrimmage could give Larry Fitzgerald a slight edge in stacks. Here are the correlation values for actual fantasy points versus the ownership values (based on positions):
Targeting the Cardinals’ pass defense isn’t a secret, but it could still be contrarian in this slate: Goff has yet to see an ownership rate above five percent this year in large-field GPPs. After lineups lock, visit our DFS Contests Dashboard and use our Stack Seeker tool to identify the top contrarian stack of the week.
Jared Goff, QB
It might be time to look past the fact that Goff had one of the worst rookie campaigns of all time. He currently ranks fifth in the NFL in passing yards per game (273.0) and owns a top-10 quarterback rating (93.2) through six weeks. The Rams will likely want to remain run-heavy, but Goff is in a possible funnel situation: Arizona has allowed the fifth-most passing yards this year and 11th-fewest rushing yards.
Todd Gurley, RB
His 20 percent target market share through the first three weeks has dipped to 12 percent over his last three games, but he’s still averaging 20 rushing attempts over that same period. The presence of Tavon Austin and Malcolm Brown — who have siphoned an average of six rushing attempts combined over the past three games — is concerning, and the matchup is also tough this week against a Cardinals defense allowing the fifth-fewest DraftKings points to the position this year.
Robert Woods, WR
Of players with over 150 snaps this year, Peterson is being targeted and allowing receptions at league-low rates of once every 11.0 and 31.3 coverage snaps, respectively (Pro Football Focus). Instead, teams are going at cornerback Justin Bethel, who has been one of the worst CBs in the league this season with a 44.5 PFF coverage grade. Likely to run most of his routes against Bethel, Woods has one of the best matchups of the slate.
Carson Palmer, QB
For a team desperate for better offensive line play, the return of left tackle D.J. Humphries last week cannot go understated. Palmer is first in the league with 249 attempts and 154 completions, first in deep ball attempts with 7.4 passes per game of over 20 yards, second with 309.3 yards per game, and is currently one of our highest-rated FanDuel quarterbacks within our Models.
Adrian Peterson, RB
He saw 26 rush attempts in Week 6 after being acquired from the Saints. That said, game script is a concern in Week 7, as Peterson received zero targets and offers nothing for the Cardinals in the passing game. He’s still cheap, but the Rams rank sixth at defending the run, per DVOA.
Larry Fitzgerald, WR
As the clear top option in the passing game, Fitzgerald is top-10 in target share, top-four in DraftKings PPG, and leads the league with 12 targets inside the red zone this season.
Green Bay Packers vs. New Orleans Saints
The Packers have finished outside the top-10 in scoring only once in the Aaron Rodgers era, but the Packers QB is out indefinitely with a broken collarbone. Alas, we will have to settle for Drew Brees versus Brett Hundley. Regardless, the Packers should continue to be one of the slowest-paced teams in the NFL, although it’s reasonable to assume they may not remain in the top-five in pass play percentage without their MVP-caliber quarterback.
Since they signed Brees in 2006, the Saints have never finished outside the top-six in total yards, top-12 in points scored, top-10 in total plays, top-eight in yards per drive, top-10 in plays per drive, and top-12 in points per drive. They have also been top-five in pass volume 10 times in the Brees era, but so far this season the Saints have relied a bit more on the run with the 12th-most passing plays. Part of that could be due to the defense, which since last season has improved from 29th to 16th in DVOA (Football Outsiders) and is currently ninth in total takeaways.
The over/under sits at 48.0 points — highest on the main slate — and the Saints’ implied total of 26.75 is the highest of the entire 15-game Thursday to Monday slate. Rodgers is generally viewed as worth six to seven points to the spread, and, according to Bet Labs, dogs in games after their QB has been injured have gone 15-14 ATS.
The passing options on both sides of the ball will likely make for some chalky stacks, so the best way to differentiate may be through unique lineup construction and/or game stacks. One way to do that could be with the Saints backfield in a great matchup. Here are the correlation values (per our NFL Correlations page) for actual fantasy points versus the ownership values for a game stack with Brees and the Saints running backs (based on positions):
The actual points correlation values are positive with Brees and both running backs, but the ownership correlation of both backs together is very unique. Running it back with Jordy Nelson makes sense from a volume perspective: Last week, nine targets — 27.3 percent of Hundley’s throws — went to Nelson even with a brutal matchup against Xavier Rhodes. Two of Hundley’s three interceptions were also heading Nelson’s way.
Brett Hundley, QB
With over 150 rush attempts per season at UCLA, Hundley offers dual-threat appeal at just $5,100 on DraftKings, and he also has one of the best wide receiver trios in the league. Home underdog quarterbacks with comparable spreads have historically provided a respectable +0.39 Plus/Minus at a minuscule 1.5 percent ownership rate.
Jordy Nelson, WR
His 36 percent target share of air yards over the past four weeks is top-10 at the position, and the Rams are 28th at defending deep passes (Football Outsiders). Hundley averaged 8.3 adjusted yards per attempt in college; if he airs it out, Nelson could certainly be a prime beneficiary.
Drew Brees, QB
Brees is in unfamiliar territory, ranking outside the top-10 in passing yards after leading the league in seven of his 11 seasons with New Orleans. Brees is averaging just 264.2 yards per game, throwing for 300 yards just once this season, but he’s in a solid bounce-back spot against the Packers, who are dealing with a ton of injuries in their secondary. He owns the highest projected ceiling of any quarterback on the main slate.
Mark Ingram/Alvin Kamara, RB
The Saints running backs were chalky in Week 6, garnering roughly 21 percent ownership in large-field GPPs. They could be again: The Packers rank 27th at defending running backs in the passing game. Brees has thrown to the position at a higher rate than any quarterback in the slate, and both have upside in the passing game.
Michael Thomas, WR
Recency bias may have the public off Thomas, but he still owns a top-15 target share through five games despite tough matchups. He is expected to run the majority of his routes against PFF’s 64th-ranked cornerback in Josh Hawkins.
Good luck, and be sure to read our positional breakdowns later in the week!