Two Sneaky Week 2 Shootouts

Scoring begets scoring.

Said less pretentiously, the more a team scores, the more the other team has to score to have a chance to win. In this way, football has a corollary thread running through it that says when one team scores, the importance of the other team scoring rises. If that second team does in fact score, then the importance of the first team returning with a score rises even more.

This is how a shootout is born.

When looking to gamble or to build fantasy lineups, one of the first steps should be to identify which games has the potential to turn into a back and forth scoring affair. By doing this we can see areas where over/unders, spread, or even outright winners may have room for leverage.

Additionally, in fantasy, many a Milli-Maker has been won by stacking both sides of a game that becomes an offense explosion. In October 2017, ChipotleAddict won everything everywhere by foreseeing the Texans Seahawks shootout and loading up on both sides. Huge games from Deshaun Watson, DeAndre Hopkins, and Will Fuller lead to huge games from Russell Wilson, Paul Richardson, and Tyler Lockett.

Scoring begets scoring, and to try to gain an edge we can try to find the games that will shootout “unexpectedly”. As such, here are three games with totals under 50 that have a chance to go unnoticed and way over.

ARI +13 @ BAL o/u 46.5

Why it shootouts out:

Pace. Although this is coming more into the consciousness of the casual fan and fantasy player, pace is still one of the most underrated metrics by which to predict offensive output and team totals.

Quite simply, if a team runs more plays, it offers more opportunities. If a team has more opportunities, it has more cracks at scoring. More cracks at scoring ultimately lead to more points.

The Cardinals played at the fastest pace in Week 1 (22.8 second/snap per Pat Thorman).

And, while the Ravens were towards the bottom of the league in pace, they played the majority of the game up four touchdowns and scored explosively early before slowing the game down late.

Factor in that the Cardinals’ secondary is their weakness, the Cardinals pass a lot, and that Jimmy Smith will be out for Baltimore, and this could be a pass happy game with lots of stopped clock, a high number of plays, and scoring all over.

Who will benefit:

You’re not going to believe this, but the answer is everyone.

You can take any slice of this game and feel confident that you are on the right track. In fact, in a GPP tournament, I have no problem fielding a lineup with six or seven of the players in this game. In the name of being contrarian, I like Arizona a bit more due to the hype around Baltimore, but you really can’t go wrong. Here’s a quick rundown of my favorite plays:

Lamar Jackson - Believe it or not he will have to do more this week than last to keep up with a real NFL offense. He will undoubtedly run more, and he will most likely pass more. We might not be able to bank on his ridiculous Week 1 efficiency, but volume will get an uptick.

Kyler Murray - Murray threw the most Air Yards (yards travelled by passes incomplete and complete) in Week 1, and he might eclipse that this week. Kilff Kingsbury is on record saying he was “too cute” to start Sunday’s game, and so we can expect an entire four quarters of what we saw at the end of the matchup against the Lions

David Johnson - With 85% of the workload in Week 1, DJ was a bell cow, and he was back to work in the receiving game like it was 2016. He was targeted seven times and that number could rise this week.

Christian Kirk - Larry Fitzgerald stole the show and continued his Benjamin Button like aging, but Kirk quietly showed the monster potential that garnered him his offseason hype. He saw 12 targets that combined for 139 of Kyler Murray’s air yards. It only translated to four catches for 32 yards, but the potential flashed and the low box score output will make him under-owned this week.

Mark Andrews - The tantalizing Oklahoma product showed why he is a threat in the air with 100+ yards receiving and a touchdown. This week he faces an Arizona defense that gave up a historically good first game to rookie Lions TE T.J. Hockenson. He might be the receiver to pair with Jackson as much as any other.

What’s the best bet:

The over and Arizona.

There is a scenario where this spread is too large and that the Week 1 results are more colored by opposition than we think. Perhaps Detroit’s D is actually really good and perhaps Miami will give up 59 points to everyone this season. If you feel like either or both of those are the case, throw some money on Arizona and the over and delight in the offensive explosion that ensues.

SEA +4 @ PIT o/u 46.5

Why it shootouts out:

Honestly, this is a mixture of gut and analytics - gutalytics if you will.

On the factual side, Seattle has a poor secondary that got torched by John Ross. Juju Smith-Schuster is better than John Ross and Big Ben at home is better than Andy Dalton on the road in the rain. Conversely, Pittsburgh’s defense showed some ability to stop the run in New England, but couldn’t break up a pass to save their life.

Turning to my gut, I think both of these teams are embarrassed after Week 1. Pittsburgh especially just endured a week losing to their rivals who are about to add their ex-best player. They looked outclassed and destined for a dark year without AB and Le’Veon Bell. In their home opener, where they traditionally play better, they will need to show something to build on for the rest of the year.

Seattle, meanwhile, struggled to beat a Cincinatti team who has little hope for the year. They let the Bengals repeatedly beat them downfield while somehow winning the game with 159 total yards. They, too, need to show something, especially if they are to compete in the NFC.

Desperation and weak secondaries are a dangerous mixture that could result in some volcanic offensive eruptions.

Who will benefit:

Let’s keep this simple - The QBs and each team’s best receiver.

If you are going full stack in this one, either of the running backs could score multiple times and catch 5+ passes, but I am much more excited to play these QB-wide receiver combos a week after they flopped. Here’s the logic:

Ben Roethlisberger - The Big Ben plays well at home numbers are off the charts. Google them yourself because there are too many for me to write up here, but the fact is he is relentless at home and a shell of himself on the road.

Add in the fact that Seattle just gave up 400 yard to Andy Dalton at home in the rain and we have a potential for Big Ben to bump up against a 450, 4 TD day.

JuJu Smith-Schuster - The dude is electric. He got shut down by shadow coverage from Stephon Gilmore, but that doesn’t change the fact that he is a big game machine.

Against a secondary that struggled with the speed of John Ross, JuJu has two or three big plays in his potential outcomes while also having 10+ catch upside. In other words, he could see high volume targets and turn in some high variance big plays.

Russell Wilson - Quietly, the Seahawks look like they might not be as run first as we thought. Chris Carson garnered seven targets and D.K. Metcalf looked like a legitimate NFL receiver. Wilson has not been fully unleashed in the last season and a half, but anybody who has watched the guy play over his career knows he does what is necessary.

Last week he was asked to grind out a win, and he did that. If the Seahawks want to win on the road in Pittsburgh against a team in need of a win, he’s going to need to do some more. Although his running days may be behind him that can always pop up and add to his potential.

I may not look to him for a ceiling game, but 300 yards and a few TDs would be a comfortable outcome for him, especially if the run game isn’t working.

Tyler Lockett - Just like Juju, many fans who invested in Lockett last week will be off of him this week after his disappointing two target one catch day.

In my eyes, however, he has never been juicier. The Bengals played him tight and the Seahawks had a very conservative game plan; the Steelers, however, do not have the personnel to play him tight, and the Seahawks will have to be much more aggressive.

Looking back at Pittsburgh’s Week 1 drubbing in New England, we can see what Lockett can expect by looking at Julian Edelman and Phillip Dorsett. Lockett is an amalgam of these two receivers, and they put up a combined 10 catches for 178 yards and 2 TDs. While Edelman worked the underneath, middle of the field routes, Dorsett took the top off the defense twice for long scores.

Lockett has the potential to exploit this defense with his speed and route running and it would not be surprising to see him end the day with two long scores for himself.

What’s the best bet:

Definitely the over.

In a game where we might not be sure who to fully trust playing with a four point line can be dangerous. If you were making me pick, I like Pittsburgh to win by more than a field goal here, so that -4 looks good to me, but it’s still a little too unknown where these teams stand in overall quality for me to take much of a stand anywhere but the over.


And just because I’m feeling generous, here’s a lightning bonus pick:

JAX +8.5 @ HOU o/u 43.5

Why it shootouts out:

Both of these defenses are not good. Houston will score a lot naturally, Jacksonville has big play ability.

Who will benefit:

Deshaun Watson/DeAndre Hopkins - Duh.

Will Fuller - Did you see what Sammy Watkins did? That’s the Will Fuller role.

Leonard Fournette - He is a work horse back against a team that couldn’t stop the Saints’ RBs.

Dede Westbrook - The Texans got burned in the slot all Week 1. Dede is new QB Gardner Minshew’s best hope of survival.

What’s the best bet:

I’m not entirely sure Week 1 was as positive for Houston as people think. They collapsed, showed poor coaching, can’t stop anyone, and still can’t protect Watson.

I don’t mind taking JAX here with the over, although one is a safer bet than the other.

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