For the majority of the season, our job has been to identify which games will have a particular flow that we can exploit. However, now that we are approaching the final quarter of the season, we can also look to which teams will accelerate their playoff chances with big performances. This, in turn, translates to more success for us as fantasy owners.
Sporfolio’s NFL Daily Fantasy Sports game-by-game analysis columns are driven by expected game flow. Based on a combination of our Week 14 NFL picks against the spread and our expectations for a given game, we project the actions necessary to make these picks come to fruition. We aim to pinpoint players integral to our predicted game flow for each game of the week.
Luke May is Sporfolio’s NFL DFS expert, and Mario Mergola operates Sporfolio as the expert for NFL Picks Against the Spread.
Carolina Panthers at Cleveland Browns
Luke’s DFS Take: With four consecutive loses, the Panthers have gone from in contention for the division to fighting for their playoff hopes in general. When teams are desperate, they lean on their best players, and Christian McCaffrey has been their best player by a mile. With Greg Olsen injured, there are very few reliable weapons left for Cam Newton, so you can count on continued high volume for McCaffrey and also D.J. Moore. As we’ve constantly pointed out, the Browns defense has talent, but had bled yardage all season long. The Panthers will need their best, so roster McCaffrey, Newton and Moore without hesitation. The Browns played about as poorly on offense last week as we have seen all season, but things should take a turn for the better this week. The Panthers have struggled against the pass this season, so looking at Jarvis Landry – who is fresh off his best game since Week 7 – and David Njoku – who has been inconsistent but dangerous all year – makes sense. The Panthers rank 29th and 30th in the league at allowing fantasy points to opposing wide receivers and tight ends respectively.
Mario’s DFS Take: This is starting to feel like a broken record, but the Carolina Panthers are going to explode. Eventually. Probably. Because of how many times this hasn’t happened in recent weeks, it is somewhat dangerous to project that this Sunday is the moment when everything ‘clicks’ again, but it is an ideal matchup in a game that Carolina can dominate. The Browns have allowed the third-most rushing touchdowns in the league, while the Panthers have the most yards-per-attempt on offense. Christian McCaffrey has been outstanding lately, but this might be his best setup in weeks. He is arguably a must-start. Cleveland’s four turnovers on offense, last week, was a harsh reminder that the team still has to go through some growing pains. Carolina’s defense is on my radar, too.
Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys
Luke’s DFS Take: This NFC East matchup will proved to be a vital one in determining the playoff picture, so you can expect a tough rivalry game as both teams fight for their lives. A game of this significance usually forces teams to lean on their best players, and that is usually the case with both offenses anyway. Zach Ertz and Ezekiel Elliott lead the way for their respective offenses on a weekly basis, and it’s hard to expect either team to not continue leaning on their super stars. Both of them had monster games when these teams met back in Week 10, and it’s possible that is the case once again. With their roles so secure, this game may come down to which second or third offensive weapon can make the biggest difference. For the Eagles, I expect that will continue to be Golden Tate who lived up to our excitement last week. The Cowboys defense has been brutal to play against lately, but Tate is a hard man to cover because of his ability to be utilized in a number of different ways. After his big game last week, I’d expect the Eagles to continue looking to get him the ball. Amari Cooper is the next man up for the Cowboys, and he should have no problems being productive against the vulnerable Eagles secondary. While he is in play, I’m also intrigued by Michael Gallup. Gallup has proved to be the number two receiver on the team recently, and he turned in his best game of the season last week catching 5 of 7 targets for 76 yards. He could’ve had a much better game if he had not been overthrown as he ran wide open on a deep route. Gallup is a threat downfield, and the Eagles secondary has struggled in that department. If the Cowboys decide to get aggressive, Gallup is likely to be the one benefiting.
Mario’s DFS Take: The Dallas Cowboys made quite the statement with their victory against the high-powered Saints in Week 13, and they now stand alone atop the NFC East. The natural progression of thought is that Dallas will continue to thrive on defense and knock off the Eagles, who enter play at a mere 6-6. I’m not buying it. As much as I have been down on Philadelphia for the majority of this season, the regression was expected. Now, it’s time for the team to make one final stand. The Eagles’ defense is one of my favorite plays against a Cowboys offense that hardly threatens opponents, and Zach Ertz continues to produce as arguably the premier tight end in the league on a consistent basis. He has had at least eight targets in all but two games, this year.