NFL DFS Pace of Play for WildCard Weekend (Fantasy Football)

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WildCard Playoff DFS gives us a six-game slate to work with and zeroing in on the pace of play highlights to the prospective DFS player an opportunity to consider not just Vegas totals but how the game will be played out in a given week.

Game flow is a tricky rabbit hole to jump down when you consider the endless scenarios that can play out in a game. Stacking up-tempo offenses who can keep the ball moving is crucial to gaining an edge in DFS. Even slight differentiations of team trends matters in a world where volume is king. In 2020, on average, teams ran a play 0.8 seconds per play slower in positive game scripts than they did in neutral game script.

A reminder on a simple metric I introduced last week: Game Pace Score (GPS). I liked the acronym to also give you a “compass” of how the game total and neutral pace statistics come together. These scores are ranked 1-5 with five indicating the pace of the play is everything you want for a DFS bonanza.

  • 5– Back-and-forth shootout is looming. Both teams are pace up and both sport team implied totals of 25+.
  • 4– An up-tempo spot worth game stacking in DFS in multiple ways. Consider multiple game-scripts in play.
  • 3– This game could go either way. Often, these are onslaught spots for teams with healthy implied totals or games that hit the under because two middling offenses collide.
  • 2– Strong indications of a game you want to stay away from. Usually, the pace is dragged down by one team with an absurdly slow neutral pace or a team with a team implied total so low it drags the entire game environment through the mud.
  • 1– This has all the makings of a plodder. These games have totals hovering close to 40 which gives you zero confidence in DFS.

Keep in mind that we must analyze these pace-up spots within the context of the slate. In other words, while each game is played between just two teams, the selections you make in DFS are not. You can only roster one QB and thus his stacking options with him. 

It’s worth noting that six of the top 7 teams in terms of neutral situation pace are in the playoffs. The only team missing? The Chargers (6th), who were basically on the brink of getting in. This isn’t a correlation/causation type of argument but simply pointing out what we have available to us for playoff football and the up-tempo styles that prevailed this year.

Make sure to check out the DFS Podcast where Betz and I breakdown the main slate and highlight some of our favorite plays of the week.

Las Vegas Raiders @ Cincinnati Bengals (-5.5)- O/U: 49.5

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Team Implied Total Neutral Pace 2021 Pass Rate
Las Vegas Raiders 21.8 16th 64.3%

Cincinnati Bengals

27.3 30th 60.1%

Pace-wise, this game could go either way. The total says you want in on the action but the habits of each time could certainly lead to the under. The Bengals are committed to the run despite Joe Burrow‘s massive success at the end of the year. They rank #1 on this slate in rush rate when trailing. Perhaps the game plan is to let Burrow do his thing with 46 & 39 passing attempts in his last two starts. Regardless, the Bengals’ offense is one of the true puzzle pieces of this slate: are they a juggernaut waiting to be unleashed or are they going to simplify things for the playoffs as 5.5-point home favorites? Las Vegas’ defense gives up sustained drives allowing 2.5 points per drive, the highest among all playoff teams. This is a great spot for Joe Mixon, who feels underpriced especially on DraftKings, against a Raiders team ranked 30th in DvP versus fantasy RBs on the season. If you are stacking Joe Burrow, you are hoping for another explosive game so double-stacking is the preferred method.

The Raiders are a wild card. Go back through their game logs and they tend to be a Jekyll and Hyde situation where Derek Carr can dial it up for 300+ passing yards or they can gain a lead and sit on it with Josh Jacobs. I prefer Carr in this spot against a Bengals pass defense that allowed the 2nd most passing yards of any playoff team and the most 20+ yard passing plays. It’s not pretty but Hunter Renfrow and Zay Jones are affordable enough to consider in both cash and GPPs. I also don’t mind going back to Darren Waller as a contrarian tournament play. The Bengals rank 28th in DvP versus fantasy TEs on the year.

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