NFL DFS Pace of Play: Week 1 (Fantasy Football)

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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 matters in a world where volume is king. Over the last three years, on average, teams ran a play 0.8 seconds per play slower in positive game scripts than they did in neutral game script.

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.

A reminder on a simple metric I introduced last year: 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 UNDER 40 which gives you zero confidence in DFS.

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

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

Kansas City Chiefs @ Arizona Cardinals– O/U: 54

Team

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Team Implied Total Neutral Pace 2021 Pass Rate

Kansas City Chiefs

28.8 3rd 2nd
Arizona Cardinals 24.8 8th 23rd

As I mentioned on yesterday’s DFS Podcast, my current stance is to go underweight on this game. The Chiefs not only get off a ton of plays (4th most in 2021) but they converted 3rd downs at an insane 50+ percent rate last year… by far the highest in the league. Efficiency + up-tempo is a dream for DFS. Andy Reid’s continued conviction to throw at one of the highest rates in the league since Patrick Mahomes became the starter is sheer brilliance. He led the league in expected points per pass attempt and pass success rate in 2021. Arizona gets plays off at a high rate as well led the NFL in no-huddle rate over the last three years. Despite having the highest total on the slate, there are routes where the ball is spread around so much with Kansas City that no one truly pays off outside of Patrick Mahomes. Guessing the right KC WR is going to be a challenge for tournament purposes.

Juju Smith-Schuster and Travis Kelce are going to project well from a median perspective but what type of ceiling is needed? Kelce is preferred in both cash and tournaments knowing so many people punt the position and this is the lowest price you’re going to see from him on DraftKings. It’s a small sample size but in four games without Tyreek Hill, Kelce averaged 88 receiving yards per game over the last couple of years. If you want to gain massive leverage on the field, a CEH + KC DST approach on FanDuel is one of the sneakier stacks of the week.

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