FanDuel Single-Game Daily Fantasy Football Helper: Week 15 (Steelers at Bengals)
Per FanDuel Sportsbook, Pittsburgh is a 14.5-point road favorite in a game with a 40.0-point over/under. That means we're looking at an implied score of 27.25 to 12.75.
That's wild. But it makes sense. The Bengals will be starting Ryan Finley at quarterback, and he'll be greeted with a matchup against the second-best adjusted defense in the NFL, based on our metrics. What do we do with the Bengals, then?
High-Level Simulation Results
I simulated this game a thousand times -- using numberFire's projections -- to see some high-level takeaways. Here's what I found.
Here's a snapshot of how these two teams stack up, based on numberFire's opponent-adjusted Net Expected Points (NEP) metric.
Using numberFire's projections as the base, it's Roethlisberger as the most obvious MVP choice on FanDuel. Roethlisberger has averaged 0.17 Passing NEP per drop back, just a tad over the NFL average of 0.13 through Week 14. He's at 0.23 in four games against bottom-eight adjusted pass defenses (the average in that sample is actually 0.25). So, despite heavy passing volume, Roethlisberger hasn't been particularly efficient, and he also avoids losses in NEP by avoiding sacks.
But when compared to Finley, it's no contest. Finley has just 26 drop backs this season but has been sacked 7 times (26.9%) and has now taken a sack on 14.5% of his 124 career drop backs, and he has now averaged -0.61 Passing NEP per drop back. None of this bodes well for the Bengals' offense against the NFL's top pass rush by pressure rate.
Our algorithm likes James Conner to bounce back from a 10-cary, 18-yard, 0-target game last week on a 40.4% snap rate. I'd be warier, as he has not had more than 15 carries in five straight games and has just once gone over 50 rushing yards in that span. Of course, game script sets up for a ton of rushes, but the Steelers are slinging it over the past five weeks. The salary is very palatable, though.
It's hard to pinpoint the best sample for the Steelers' pass-catchers, and we've seen a surge in snaps and targets for James Washington over the past two games (53.5% and then 80.7%). Given the drop issues, Diontae Johnson played just 49.1% of the snaps last week with JuJu Smith-Schuster at 100.0% and Chase Claypool at 66.7%.
In this sample, Johnson still leads with 21.1% of the targets. JuJu has 18.9%, and it's Eric Ebron third with a 17.8% target share. Both Washington and Claypool have 11.1% target shares here with at least 2.0 downfield targets per game. They're still getting high-leverage targets even if they're scaled back relative to Johnson and Smith-Schuster. So, overall, it's all-in on the Steelers' passing offense because the Bengals project so poorly.
Since their Week 9 bye, the Bengals' lead target getter is Tee Higgins at 21.9%. That's 7.8 targets per game with 2.2 downfield targets per game. Tyler Boyd is second at 21.3%, and A.J. Green is third at 14.0%.
Last week, Giovani Bernard fumbled early and didn't hit 25.0% of the team's snaps. He had three carries and three targets. In relief, we saw Trayveon Williams have a slight edge over Samaje Perine with a 12-10 carry lead. However, neither of them surpassed 40.0% of the snaps.
This game is shaping up as one where a 4-1 Steelers onslaught stack is looking ideal. Of course, playing it from the angle where the Bengals keep it close can get you a lot of leverage, but the odds of that seem incredibly low based on the offensive expectations here.