May 21, 2024

Want to know the latest trends, matchups and injury news in football? We’ve got you. Want to know where the public has money this week? We’ve got you. Want to know which teams to play, whom to roster in DFS or whom to pick in your Eliminator pool? We’ve got you there, too. Here’s everything you need to know as you prepare for your fantasy football matchups and potential bets on the games this weekend.

Odds by ESPN BET.

CFB: Action Report | Analytics Edges

NFL: Injury update | Props that Pop | Matchups to exploit | Eliminator Challenge | DFS plays | Analytics Edges | Action Report | Confidence pool picks | Pigskin Pick’em

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College football

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Saban to McAfee: The Wolverines ‘present a lot of challenges’

Nick Saban breaks down to Pat McAfee the Michigan Wolverines’ strengths and how Alabama is preparing for their Rose Bowl matchup.

David Purdum’s Action Report

  • Both College Football Playoff semifinals saw a flicker of line movement this week. The line on the Rose Bowl between underdog Alabama and Michigan ticked up in favor of the Wolverines overnight Tuesday. The point spread grew from Michigan -1 to as high as -2.5 at some sportsbooks — despite the early betting being lopsided on the Crimson Tide. As of Thursday at DraftKings, 82% of the money that had been bet on the Rose Bowl was on Alabama. The line on the Sugar Bowl between Washington and Texas moved slightly toward the underdog Huskies this week, but only briefly. A handful of sportsbooks moved from Longhorns -4 to -3.5 on Wednesday. Influential sportsbook Circa was holding at -3.5 as of Thursday morning, but the consensus line was back at Texas -4. DraftKings on Thursday was reporting 62% of the money that had been wagered on the spread was on Washington.

  • Keep an eye on the weather forecast for Saturday’s Armed Forces Bowl between Air Force and James Madison in Fort Worth, Texas. Thunderstorms and increasing winds are in the forecast. The total was sitting at 40.5 as of Thursday.

Seth Walder’s biggest edges from ESPN Analytics

  • Northern Illinois Huskies (+3) vs. Arkansas State Red Wolves: Most of the time when FPI has a major difference of opinion with the betting line during bowl season, it’s because there’s a QB change the model doesn’t know about. That isn’t the case here. Though the disagreement isn’t massive — FPI thinks the Huskies should be favored by 1 — it still exists. On a down-to-down, opponent-adjusted efficiency level Northern Illinois ranks 95th, just ahead of Arkansas State at 99th.


NFL

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0:59

Why Lamar Jackson is still a top-5 QB vs. 49ers

Field Yates explains why Lamar Jackson is still a strong fantasy play in Week 16.

Stephania Bell’s injury update

Props That Pop

By Liz Loza and Daniel Dopp

  • Chase Brown OVER 27.5 rushing yards: The Bengals might have only a 43% chance of making the playoffs, but the Cincy Jungle has been resilient of late, winning three straight. Coincidentally, that streak has coincided with Brown’s increased role. The rookie has managed between seven and nine carries (in addition to a total of five red zone touches) from Weeks 13 to 15. With fresh legs and 4.3 speed, Brown could stun a Pittsburgh Steelers defense that gave up over 150 rushing yards to Trey Sermon and Tyler Goodson last weekend. Another seven carries at 4.0 YPC would take the Illinois product over the above line. That seems more than reasonable. — Loza

  • Easton Stick OVER 0.5 interceptions: Stick hasn’t necessarily played poorly, but I don’t think Week 15 is indicative of what we should expect on a weekly basis. He’s fighting an uphill battle being a backup QB on a team that just fired its head coach, won’t have its top two pass-catchers (Keenan Allen and Mike Williams) and is getting 12.5 points at home! Yikes! There is not a lot of confidence in this Chargers offense. The Bills have been up and down this season, but their playoff hopes are on the line and this team should smell blood in the water against a Chargers squad that has allowed the third-most points in the NFL over the past six weeks. And this Bills defense has stiffened up quite a bit with five interceptions over the past four games while allowing only 164 passing yards per game, the second fewest over that span. So the Chargers are expected to be down and this pass defense has been on point during their playoff push. Expect Stick to be forced into throwing a bunch in this one, and that’s a recipe for bad decisions when you’re playing catch-up. I’m expecting at least one of these passes to find a Bills defensive player, so I’m taking the OVER on 0.5 interceptions. — Dopp

  • Terry McLaurin UNDER 51.5 receiving yards: I hate betting unders, especially on a talented player coming off of a blow-up game. However, only 48 of McLaurin’s 141 yards occurred with Sam Howell under center. The other 93 (along with McLaurin’s third TD of the season and his first since Week 8) came in the final eight minutes of garbage time when Jacoby Brissett came off the bench and added a much-needed spark to the offense. In fact, McLaurin hadn’t managed more than 50 receiving yards since Week 9. With Howell expected to start on the road facing the New York Jets, McLaurin figures to be in for a fight. — Loza

  • Trey McBride OVER 5.5 receptions: McBride is going to be the lead singer of a new band Field Yates and I plan to start this offseason called Chasing Volume. Not really, but please check out Fantasy Focus if you’re into fantasy comedy podcasts! Back on track, we’re certainly following the volume here. Since Kyler Murray returned as the starting QB for the Cardinals, McBride leads all tight ends with 38 receptions for 425 receiving yards. He’s also seeing a 27.9% target share over that span, again topping the position. He has literally been the best tight end in the league since Kyler’s return. This week he’ll face the Bears, who have allowed the 10th-most receptions to the position over the past six weeks (the same timespan we’re looking at for McBride’s time with Kyler). The Bears don’t give up a lot of yards to tight ends, but they do give up 5.6 receptions per game, so if that’s their average output allowed against the position, I’m going to bet on the best tight end over the past six weeks to continue to feast exactly like he has been. — Dopp

  • Jakobi Meyers OVER 37.5 receiving yards: First, a shoutout to Mike Clay’s Shadow Report for being awesome. Check it out if you haven’t! One of the things he has been highlighting this year is the L’Jarius Sneed shadow. Every week Sneed basically shadows the other team’s “best” receiver, and because of that, secondary pass catchers in the offense have been able to have some really nice games. In Week 15, Hunter Henry had seven catches for 66 yards. In Week 14, Dalton Kincaid only had five for 21, but it was on nine targets! That was a tough break, but in Week 13, Sneed shadowed Romeo Doubs and Christian Watson went off for seven catches and 77 yards. In Week 12 against this very Raiders team, Meyers had six catches for 79 yards and a TD. This Chiefs defense has done a good job of limiting the No. 1 passing game option this year, but it’s almost always creating opportunities for others in the passing game. Meyers did it in Week 12 and others have continued the trend, so we’re going right back to it. — Dopp

  • Darren Waller OVER 3.5 receptions: Wan’Dale Robinson burned me last week, but here I am wagering on a Giant again in Week 16. Waller certainly didn’t “wow” in his return, converting four of six balls for 40 yards. But he also didn’t completely disappoint, showing fine rapport with Tommy DeVito and (most importantly) staying healthy. Additionally, his 43% snap share suggests an easing back in for the talented tight end. As 13.5-point underdogs at Philadelphia, Waller should see a decent amount of volume. The Eagles have allowed the ninth-most catches to the position over the past four weeks. Waller should reel in at least four balls on Christmas Day. — Loza

Matt Bowen’s matchups to exploit

  • Tyreek Hill/Miami Dolphins pre-snap movement vs. Dallas: The Cowboys play man coverage on 64.9% of opponent dropbacks, the most in the league. Look for Mike McDaniel to deploy Hill on pre-snap motion and movement to get him free access off the ball, which will allow him to attack coverage leverage. On plays with motion this season, Hill has caught nine touchdown passes.

  • Justin Fields‘ rushing production on designed carries vs. Arizona: Fields has rushed for 231 yards — with nine carries of 10 yards or more — on designed rushing attempts this season. I expect the Bears to deploy Fields as a runner more this Sunday, getting him to the perimeter, against a Cardinals defense allowing 4.5 yards per carry this season, the eighth most in the league.

  • For more breakdowns, check out Matt Bowen’s Film Room.

Mike Clay’s Eliminator Challenge advice

Al Zeidenfeld’s DFS plays

  • It’s a shorter slate than usual this Sunday on DraftKings because of the multiple Saturday and Monday games. That doesn’t mean there aren’t ways for us to attack on Christmas Eve, and the Bears stack with Justin Fields ($6,900) and DJ Moore ($6,900) look like a fantastic place to start with their massive upside, and there’s a fantastic correlation piece on Arizona in Trey McBride ($5,700) in the hopes that the game goes over the total and shoots out. The deepest value position is, as always, running back, with Ty Chandler ($5,600), Bijan Robinson ($6,300) and Chuba Hubbard ($5,700) leading the way from a projectable points per dollar basis.

  • More DFS plays here.

Seth Walder’s biggest edges from ESPN Analytics

  • Calais Campbell under 0.5 sacks (-175): This is just way too attractive of a price. Campbell is a long-time great player, because he isn’t the same guy he used to be. Back in 2017 his pass rush win rate was a very strong 21%. Today, it’s 10%. Plus, Gardner Minshew takes sacks at a lower-than-average rate. My model makes the fair price on the under -299. If I’m right, that’s a ton of value.

  • Bailey Zappe under 18.5 completions (+100): There’s no other way to say it: Zappe’s numbers this season are rough. A 27 QBR, a -4% completion percentage over expectation (per NFL Next Gen Stats) and a higher-than-average 19% off-target rate all suggest New England will want to limit Zappe’s pass attempts — and when he does throw the ball, he’s less likely to complete passes. I’m probably too low here — projecting 14.4 completions — but directionally I think the under makes sense.

David Purdum’s Action Report

  • Craig Mucklow, vice president of trading for Caesars Sportsbook, believes the house is likely to be facing a big decision on the Christmas night game between the Ravens and 49ers. “We’ll definitely need the Ravens, because the two early games [Monday] have double-digit favorites,” Mucklow said on a company podcast. “If they both cover and go over, we’ll have significant liability on the night game. I expect some line movement based on the early games.”

  • Games that attracted early one-sided action: Seahawks (-2.5, 41.5) at Titans: 89% of the money bet on the game’s point spread was on Seattle at DraftKings as of Thursday. Bills (-11.5, 44) at Chargers: FanDuel reported Thursday that the action had been lopsided on the Bills to cover the double-digit spread. “After giving up 63 points last week, the public unsurprisingly does not have a lot of faith in the Chargers,” FanDuel’s trading team said in a news release. “The book would suffer a big loss if the Bills were to cover. Money has poured in on this one, and it is the highest bet game of the week outside of Monday night’s showdown between the Ravens and 49ers.”

  • Bettors have flocked to bet Eagles running back Boston Scott to find the end zone against the Giants again. Scott has scored touchdowns in every game he has played against the Giants. Scott “is by far the most popular anytime touchdown bet this week” at FanDuel. Scott is listed at +350 to score in the game at DraftKings.

Anita Marks’ NFL confidence pool picks

Tyler Fulghum’s Pigskin Pick’em plays

We’re coming down to the wire of the NFL season and it seems like all but just a handful of teams have something to play for. It also feels like only half of the league’s starting QBs are still healthy enough to play. This league. Sheesh. Good luck in Week 16 of Pigskin Pick’em!

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