How to Predict Game Script for NFL DFS

Theo Riddick
Theo Riddick

It's not easy to build a great daily fantasy football lineup. But if you want to cash in on FanDuel or DraftKings, you need to think about how games might unfold and use that information to your advantage.

In this article we take a look at how Vegas odds and other clues can help you predict game script and build the right stacks to win big in GPPs.

Predicting and Using Game Script

  • The easiest way to predict game flow is to use the betting lines as a guide. Every week, sports betting sites provide a comprehensive list of the biggest favorites, games with the highest point spreads, and other important information such as the implied team total. You can utilize this information to stack the right players in potential shootouts and stack the right combinations for a team that might win in blowout fashion.
  • Once you've made a determination, either based on the betting lines or on your own intuition as a football fan, you'll be able to use those predictions while crafting your DFS lineups. The simplest way to approach lineup-building in GPP formats is to stack a QB-WR combination and at least one WR from the opposing team in a game with the highest Over/Under of the week. As a recent example, the Saints and Raiders got into a classic shootout under the Superdome in Week 1 with Drew Brees, Brandin Cooks and Willie Snead all putting up massive numbers, as Raiders top WR Amari Cooper was also very productive. Last year, Brees and company put up similarly eye-popping numbers while the visiting Giants also erupted. Weak defensive teams with excellent offensive weapons are easy targets to consider when attacking potentially high-scoring contests.
  • Or, let's say you see a team that is favored by at least 10 points at home and is facing a weak offense. That usually implies that the starting RB and D/ST will do most of the heavy lifting for the home favorites, as they get ahead early and milk the clock down the stretch (known as positive game script). Last season, LeGarrette Blount and the Patriots D/ST were a prime example of how a dominant performance on both sides of the ball can lead to huge output from those positions, and we've seen that trend continue this year with Christine Michael, Ezekiel Elliott, and even Fozzy Whitaker piling up huge rushing numbers when their team came in as a huge favorites. Few defenses have flashed tremendous upside along with those backs, but those games are sure to come eventually.
  • What if you want to target some players on the team that's a heavy underdog (known as negative game script)? That's a viable option as well, especially on DraftKings, where garbage time production can be huge as players rack up PPR points. The idea is to fade the elite ground-and-pound RBs, such as Todd Gurley or Blount, when their team is expected to fall behind, and consider their passing-down counterparts at dirt cheap price tags. Last year, it was Washington's Chris Thompson and Detroit's Theo Riddick putting up huge numbers in the second half of games after their defense was lit up early, and this year we're seeing backs and possession WRs alike pile up short receptions when the opposition begins playing prevent defense.
  • To summarize, games with close point spreads and high Over/Under totals have shootout potential and can be targeted aggressively in GPP formats. Early-down RBs are usually great options in any format when their team is heavily favored, and they can be stacked with a D/ST if you believe that the team will truly win in blowout fashion. And you can also target the underdogs in potential blowouts, but just as with any other consideration on this list, you have to use the players that are more likely to pile up short receptions and PPR production against a soft defensive approach.
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Nathaniel Weitzer

Nathaniel Weitzer

Nate Weitzer is a successful DFS player that specializes in Daily NBA and MLB advice. He's currently working as a sports journalist in Boston, but writing about fantasy sports is way better than doing "human interest" pieces on local athletes, so he contributes to multiple fantasy sites on a daily basis. Follow him @nweitzer7 for year-round fantasy sports advice.