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Identifying potential Week 11 blowup performances for DFS

Nov 9, 2020; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New England Patriots wide receiver Jakobi Meyers (16) catches a pass as New York Jets cornerback Pierre Desir (35) defends during the first quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

In its most boiled-down form, DFS involves the process of identifying the highest-scoring players at each position in a given week. With close to 20 playable options at the quarterback and tight end positions, along with even more at the running back and wide receiver positions, it is a feat in itself to identify one position correctly.

To finish at the top of a DFS contest, you must hit on basically all skill positions and circumvent the randomness associated with selecting defenses. Doing all of this while also fitting under the confines of a salary cap makes DFS one of the most difficult setups to beat consistently, especially in large-field tournaments.

Being first and foremost a data company, PFF has the ability to build and train models not only on public data but also PFF specific data, such as receiving grades and pass routes run, among a litany of other variables. Utilizing specific variables, we can build a model tuned to predict performances where a pass-catcher goes over a certain site-specific scoring threshold. This threshold is defined at 25 DraftKings, 20 FanDuel or 20 Yahoo receiving fantasy points.

This model provides the percentage chance that each receiver will meet or exceed our fantasy-point threshold for the site given their historical opportunity. The model won’t be right on every player, but it is useful in identifying the performances that we want to unearth in our DFS lineups. 

Week 10 had one of the most random top 10 wide receiver finishes in 2020. Our model identified DeAndre Hopkins, Marvin Jones Jr., Tee Higgins and Keelan Cole as quality plays, and all four landed in the top 10 for scoring. Cole Beasley broke out to lead the wide receiver position, while teammate Stefon Diggs finished third in fantasy points.

This was a spot we liked for a game stack, but none of the Bills' receivers showed up as an option in our blowup model. I was a little early to not only call for Marquez Valdes-Scantling‘s blowup four weeks ago but also to completely write him off after his dud performance. He has emerged in the past two weeks to show what made me so excited for his future fantasy prospects.  

Travis Fulgham, Mike Williams, Rashard Higgins and DeVante Parker were misses by the model, with weather affecting some performances. The tight end position continues to be a disaster in general, but Hunter Henry finally had a quality game and was identified on the blowup graph. The position looks even more depleted for Week 11, which could cause ownership to be concentrated on a couple of decent options.

Totals are down for games on the main slate, with only two matchups being above 50 at this time. There are a few options in the tier below, so identifying an under-the-radar game that turns into a scoring frenzy could be all that is needed for success this week. Ownership should be spread out again, especially at wide receiver, so play the best options based on your research. Let’s dive into my favorite pass-catching options based on our blowup model. 

DAVANTE ADAMS ($8,600)

Fading Adams because of weather concerns and game script is one thing, but fading him because of matchup cannot be recommended — especially when that matchup is against Xavier Rhodes, who Adams has beaten previously. On 335 career receiving snaps against Rhodes, Adams has been targeted on 62 routes, with 44 receptions and five touchdowns. Both of Adams’ highest-graded games against Rhodes came in his two most recent performances, with these players trending in opposite directions based on their career trajectories. Adams should be locked into DFS lineups, with ownership dropping due to his most recent performance and a perceived difficult matchup. 

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