NFL DFS Pace of Play & Stacks for Week 1 (Fantasy Football)

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This is now my fourth year writing this article for the DFS Pass. Every year, it is a labor of love giving me a zoomed-out approach of the best games in DFS to attack each week.

There are a lot of misconceptions about how to utilize pace of play. It is not the ONLY piece of the DFS puzzle. Over the course of the season, there are ebbs and flows as well as outside factors that influence the pace of an NFL game. Any individual game can tank so don’t blindly buy into every 50+ point total game. In fact, I often take the opposite course in terms of betting.

However, there are some stable metrics worth looking at week to week leading us to trust certain teams to stack for DFS tournaments. No huddle rate and pace over expectation are two that I try to incorporate each week.

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Pace Category Correlation (2021 to 2022)
Seconds Per Play 0.44
Seconds per Drive -0.01
No Huddle Rate 0.60
Pace Over Expectation

Pace of play gives 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 matter in a world where volume is king.

Each week I’ll highlight five game environments factoring in their pace metrics, stacks to consider for tournaments, and five dart throws to shoot for the moon with.

Game Pace Score

A reminder of a simple metric I introduced a couple of years ago: 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– A 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 UNDER 40 which gives you zero confidence in DFS.

For Week 1, I’ve split up each team’s implied totals, seconds per play, neutral situation pace, and factor that for a final GPS score.

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

Jacksonville Jaguars @ Indianapolis Colts

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Team Sec/Play Neut. Pace TIP
Jacksonville Jaguars 12 9 25
Indianapolis Colts 10 12 20.5

The Jaguars are a team with a ton of momentum in the public’s eye coming into the season. Doug Pederson rescued them from the clutches of Urban Meyer and the team turned into an offensive powerhouse down the stretch en route to winning the AFC South, a wild card playoff comeback against the Chargers, and sitting as the clear favorite in their division. From Week 9 on, Trevor Lawrence was 5th in expected points per dropback and he cut down on his turnovers in a massive way. In that span, Pederson gave the reins of the offense over to TLaw as the Jaguars ranked 9th in 1st down pass rate and 2nd in pass rate when leading in the 2nd half. This team is built to run 3-wide and take advantage of Travis Etienne‘s big-play ability running out of shotgun where 61% of his carries came from last year. The addition of Calvin Ridley makes this a formidable double-stacking team every week but it might be a guessing game best won by utilizing leverage. Christian Kirk is a cash option but I’m buying into his ability to earn targets, not the noise of him being exclusively a slot player. Lean into the Jaguars’ elevated pass rate over the second half with your stacks. The narrative of Jacksonville covering the spread and hitting 25+ points is easy to spot in DFS: stack Lawrence with two options from Ridley, Kirk, or Evan Engram. Personally, the only way I am allowing Engram in my player pools is in a Lawrence stack.

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