DFS: 3 notes that may be crucial down the stretch

By JOHN SAHLY – jsahly@shawmedia.com
Published:
Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans (13) celebrates after his touchdown against the Seattle Seahawks during the first quarter of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 27, 2016, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan Ebenhack)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans (13) celebrates after his touchdown against the Seattle Seahawks during the first quarter of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 27, 2016, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan Ebenhack) — Phelan Ebenhack

If you can believe it, we're already to the final four weeks of the NFL season. And unless you plan on playing what is always a weird final week with random benchings and strange games (hi, Matt Flynn), three weeks left in the fantasy and DFS seasons.

With that in mind, here are a few useful tips for the home stretch.

At this point of the season, I'm focused more on how a team has performed the past few weeks than the season as a whole when choosing to attack a position. In some cases, a team has been bad against a position all year long. But in others, things have changed and you need to pay attention to whatever is causing a fluctuation (injury, suspension, etc.)

1) The Detroit Lions are playing keep away.

Remember the big-play explosions led by Marvin Jones in the opening month of the season for the Lions? Those are long gone by now.

Detroit, in its ascension to first place in the NFC North, has opted to slow down the game to keep what has been – last week in New Orleans aside – a bad defense off the field.

The Lions held the ball for almost 37 minutes against the Saints, and held them 11 offensive snaps below their season average. Detroit held Minnesota the week before to nine plays below average. The week before that, Jacksonville got four fewer plays off on offense.

All of that adds up to a defense that hasn't given up more than 19 points in a game since Week 6.

It makes targeting offensive players against the Lions in DFS as much of a risk against a similarly porous Cowboys defense. It's hard to rack up a ton of fantasy points when you don't have the ball. The Lions get the Bears, Giants and Cowboys the next three weeks. I'm not downgrading a matchup-proof Ezekiel Elliott, but you'll have to weigh the risk of rostering Jordan Howard and Odell Beckham Jr.

2) Mike Evans could be the No. 1 fantasy WR the next three weeks

Sharp Football points us in the direction of target-hog Mike Evans for the next three weeks. The Bucs get the Saints twice and the Cowboys once, so there is no reason to be afraid of those burnable secondaries.

But more important than the easy pass defenses, Sharp Football has the Bucs facing the top two most efficient offenses. That puts Tampa Bay in the position of having to throw the ball more often. And nobody gets targeted on his team more than Evans.

After getting shut down against Casey Hayward of the Chargers, and now as the most expensive wide receiver this week on DraftKings, Evans could be due for low ownership this week, too.

3) Travis Kelce, No. 1?

With Jeremy Maclin injured, it's no secret that Travis Kelce has been the biggest beneficiary with three straight 100-yard games. Maclin may be out for at least another week, but even if he's back, it's hard to argue that the Chiefs' offense has been better since targeting Kelce first.

Kelce gets the Raiders, Titans and Broncos for the next three weeks, and the Titans and Raiders are both in the top half of giving up points to tight ends.

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