Wow – what a game we had last night. Kyler and Russell put on an absolute show and overtime was about the only venue that could hold that level of offense. Impressive. However if I told you yesterday afternoon that the “optimal” winning DFS lineup would be Tyler Lockett (Captain/MVP), Kyler Murray, Russell Wilson, Carlos Hyde and Dan Arnold you would have been like – WHAAAAT? But yes, that is what took down the most money and while of course a lot of luck had to come the winner’s way (Chris Carson leaving the game early, for example) there also was thought. You see once you put Lockett, Kyler and Russell into your lineup, roughly 70% of your budget was used. So in this case there was a plethora of cheap names to choose from to finish your lineup. So why click on Hyde and Arnold as opposed to other dart throws – a bit of research can guide you.
First Hyde was coming back from injury, but before he was injured he was seeing 5 – 8 touches per game and so if he was going to get that volume, against a Cardinals defense ranked 19th against the run, there would always be the chance he was the back in the formation when the Seahawks were in the red zone. Or on the goal line. Plus if you know Hyde’s history, he is a pretty good pass catcher. If he caught 5 balls and had 35-40 yards he’d pay off his cheap salary anyway.
For Arnold, people looked passed him because they were looking at raw points (or lack there of) but if you did more digging you realized that he has consistently been in on 70-80% of offensive snaps and has been running routes on close to 70% of those snaps. It would only be a matter of time that Murray would find him – potentially in the end zone – and why not against a Seahawks team ranked 31st against the pass.
So while there was definitely luck involved, dollars to donuts a little research led the winners to these two players when they had little left to spend on their lineup. This brings me to tonight’s matchup with the Rams and Bears – two teams with defenses ranked #1 and #4 respectively against the pass matching up, with two of the most pass friendly offenses in the league. So while on the surface names like Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods, Alan Robinson – all very fantasy friendly players – are appealing, there is a strong chance that none of them will appear in the optimal winning lineup. Of course anything can happen, but with the Bears only allowing an average of 230 passing yards per game and the Rams only allowing an average of 216 passing yards per game – I am not even sure either quarterback, Jared Goff or Nick Foles, will end up in the optimal winning lineup either. So what can we do? Well if you believe in this game theory you need to look under the hood a bit and kick the tires.
First the running game. Both the Bears and Rams are giving up over 100 yards on the ground and rank 20th and 17th against running backs. So I like the running backs tonight to find success. David Montgomery may be my favorite choice for Captain/MVP. With Tariq Cohen going down to season long injury, Montgomery is finally getting to be the focal point of the Chicago running game and he has yet to see under 13 total touches per game, with a high of 24 last week. While his total yardage isn’t anything to write home about at least ¼ of his touches have been coming through the air and it has really helped boost his fantasy value. He has scored double digit fantasy points in 4 of 6 games this season and he may be the thing that gets the Bears going against the Ram’s #1 ranked defense. The Rams are giving up 109 yards per game – and a 100 yard outing for Montgomery is definitely possible. For his opportunity share I would put him above any of the Rams backs who are in a timeshare.
That isn’t to say I don’t like the Rams backs tonight – I do! Darrell Henderson has certainly looked every bit the part of Todd Gurley 2 seasons ago and with the Bears giving up 116 yards on the ground, Henderson could find room to move. He has also only seen under double digit touches twice this season and over the last two games he has seen 14 & 15 opportunities. He is the most expensive of the Rams backs but if you believe that the Rams go ahead in this game, I think Henderson makes a lot of sense. If the Rams fall behind however you can’t ignore the role that Malcolm Brown has played. Brown also does seem to be a preference for goal line work. Henderson will be the most popular choice but going to Brown or the most explosive of all the backs – Cam Akers – could definitely reward the risk you are taking as both Brown and Akers have been clearly outpaced by Henderson. We saw just last night the backup being in the winning lineup and while I am certainly not saying lightning could strike twice, just keep that in mind when you are building your lineups.
The other position I want to highlight tonight is the Tight Ends. While the Rams and Bears have been tough on opposing Quarterbacks and Wide Receivers, they each have a soft spot when it comes to Tight Ends. The Rams rank 19th against the position while the Bears are right behind them at 20th. Jimmy Graham has really had quite the comeback season in this offense. He has been seeing an average of 4 targets per game and also has 4 touchdowns too. I think Graham is in a good position tonight to make it 5 touchdowns on the season. However if you can’t stand paying up for Jimmy Graham, you may also want to considerate Bears #2 Tight End Cole Kmet who had his first 2 targets come during the Bear’s last game, but one of those was for a touchdown. Dart throw sure, but he offers some upside within this matchup. The obvious choice for a tight end on the rams is the mighty Higbeast – right? Tyler Higbee has been out but is expected to play tonight and yes, he could walk into a host of targets tonight – but kick the tires a bit and see that Higbee was out with an injured HAND. Now of course the Rams wouldn’t allow him out there if they felt like he could play, but if there is any thought to ease him into catches with his injured HAND, Gerald Everett may end up being the tight end with the most targets. I like Everett a lot in this matchup too. It isn’t just the Bears defensive hole against Tight Ends, it also is that Everett was Sean McVay’s first draft pick as a Ram and is a very athletic pass catcher. If Higbee is limited and used more of a pass catcher, the cheaper and less popular Everett could be a great value with upside.
If we are to believe that both Defenses are solid, then both Defenses should be in play. However I think it is not without caution. The caution is what we saw last night. Defenses can get tired because they are human. If we are looking at both teams deploying a run heavy approach, the defenses may be on the field a lot and in that way, anything can get by. I do like the potential for pressure causing turnovers on both sides of the ball but I am not expecting it. While Goff has had his struggles, he has been rather efficient so far this season and for as much as Nick Foles is a superb game manager, he also knows his way around tough defenses (see Superbowl Win against the Patriots). I would not stack the defenses together in the same lineup, but I think there is real correlation in using the Defenses as a flex if you are rostering a running back in the Captain/MVP spots. The Rams are favored by 3 tonight so I think a decent amount of exposure to the Rams defense is a good idea to consider.
Kickers tonight I believe will also be in play tonight. Again if we are to believe this game as a defensive slug fest, the teams will need to score points and I could see multiple field goal attempts on both sides. Both teams will be starting NOT their normal starting kickers. The Rams Kai Forbath is not out of the Covid protocol – so don’t roster him. Sam Sloman will start for the Rams. Also Eddie Pinero hasn’t taken the field in 3 weeks – so don’t make a mistake and roster him either. The Bears will lean on journeyman Cairo Santos to handle the kicking tonight. Using the kickers tonight to stack against their opposing defenses is likely the optimal build – however I also like using the kickers even in lineups without their defense as a part of your offensive stack.
Finally as I said – even good defenses can get tired. So I am not suggesting ignoring either Nick Foles or Jared Goff. Who knows – maybe we see Twitchy Mitchy tonight too. In this case, using a quarterback in your running back, tight end stack isn’t a bad idea. However I could also see the winning lineup not containing either. It just feels like a game that will be low scoring – likely the exact opposite from last night. And if defenses get tired, a strong wide receiver performance could occur, likely in the second half of the game. So I will rank my Wide Receiver play here:
Allen Robinson – 1
Robert Woods – 2
Darnell Mooney – 3
Cooper Kupp – 4
Anthony Miller – 5
Josh Reynolds – 6
Van Jefferson – 8
Javon Wims – 9
A few tips on how to use these guys. I personally never like to stack Kupp and Woods in the same lineup, but in a matchup where likely one or the other could be shut down – I prefer Woods only because he offers both running and passing options. Alan Robinson has proven to be seemingly matchup proof and pairing him with Foles is never a bad idea, but in a likely defensive struggle I think using Robinson without a stack is more likely the optimal play. After these 3 the target shares of the others become a bit iffy but I have Mooney above Miller only because the Bears have come out recently about how high they are on him. Miller is always a sneaky play and I think he will be largely ignored and could be a contrarian play. Reynolds, Jefferson and Wims are all cheap and could be salary savers for you. Plus you never know when one may break free down the field.
My advice looking at this game is to start with the running backs and tight ends and build around them based on how you think the game will go. I certainly could be wrong and this could be an offensive explosion – I have been wrong before – but that is what my gut is telling me for tonight.
Good Luck in your Contests!