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Fantasy Football Start 'Em, Sit 'Em - Week 12 Matchups Analysis

tom brady fantasy football rankings news NFL DFS lineup picks

Welcome back RotoBallers to our Week 12 matchup analysis and Start Em, Sit Em column for fantasy football. We hope everyone is having a great Thanksgiving weekend! We kicked things off on Thursday with three games, including a thriller between the Cowboys and Raiders, and have lots more games to cover for the rest of Week 12.

For those who are not familiar, each week I'll be analyzing every game from the Sunday slate, helping you optimize your fantasy lineups and take down your opponent. Be sure to check back regularly for any updates on player injuries or other pertinent information. Special thanks to PFF, RotoViz, RotoWire, Football Outsiders, FantasyPros, rbsdm.com, and Add More Funds for providing valuable information.

This year I will be covering the entire Sunday slate of games, and we will have separate articles for the Thursday Night Football matchups and Monday Night Football matchups. Be sure to read those as well. So join me as I help get your fantasy teams off to a strong start. If you have any additional lineup questions, follow me on Twitter @FAmmiranteTFJ and feel free to ask away. Let's get on to the matchups!

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Matchups Analysis - 1:00 ET Games

New York Jets at Houston Texans

Spread: Texans -2.5
Implied Total: Jets (21.0) vs. Texans (23.5)
Pace: Jets (9th) vs. Texans (23rd)
Scheme: Jets (60% Pass, 40% Rush) vs. Texans (54% Pass, 46% Rush)
Jets Off. DVOA: -2.3% Pass (25th), -11.1% Rush (20th)
Texans Def. DVOA: -0.1% Pass (6th), -6.9% Rush (23rd)
Jets Def. DVOA: 36.9% Pass (32nd), 2.1% Rush (31st)
Texans Off. DVOA: -10.4% Pass (29th), -41.9% Rush (31st)

Matchups We Love:

Elijah Moore (WR, NYJ)

Elijah Moore has been highly impressive of late, catching 24-of-31 targets for 336 yards and four touchdowns in his last four games. The rookie has evolved into the Jets' number-one wide receiver. There are concerns about how he'll mesh with Zach Wilson, especially with how they struggled to establish rapport earlier in the season. However, I'm chalking that up to a small sample size. Let's remember that Wilson is a gunslinger who can find Moore downfield. I'm still firing him up as an upside WR3 given his recent success. The Texans are tied for 25th in PPR per game allowed to wideouts. Keep an eye on Corey Davis, who missed Thursday's practice with a groin injury.

Brandin Cooks (WR, HOU)

Brandin Cooks is back in the circle of trust because Tyrod Taylor has this offense functioning at a higher level than Davis Mills did. Cooks has combined for 17 targets, eight receptions, and 74 yards in two games since Taylor returned as the starter. While the production hasn't been there yet, you have to love the volume. The Jets rank 20th in PPR per game allowed to wideouts. They gave up a huge game to Stefon Diggs (8 REC, 162 YDS, 1 TD) two weeks ago. It wouldn't surprise me to see a savvy veteran like Cooks gash this secondary in this spot.

Matchups We Hate:

Zach Wilson (QB, NYJ)

Zach Wilson returns to the starting lineup with Joe Flacco and Mike White each being placed on the COVID reserve list. Wilson was one of the worst starters in the league during his brief stint, completing 57.5 percent of his passes at 6.5 yards per attempt with four touchdowns and nine interceptions. He takes on a Texans defense that ranks 6th in pass DVOA but tied for 26th in fantasy points per game allowed to quarterbacks. Perhaps the time on the bench will help the rookie play better in his second stint as the starter. Let's remember that he did look good against the Titans, where he threw for 297 yards at 8.7 yards per attempt. It wouldn't surprise me to see Wilson look a lot better in this spot, but I have to rank him in the 'Hate' section given his struggles coupled with Houston's improvements on defense.

Jets RBs

Promising rookie Michael Carter is out for this game, leaving Tevin Coleman and Ty Johnson to share the load in this backfield. We can project Coleman to take the lead on early downs and short-yardage situations, with Johnson functioning as the pass-catching back. This is a good matchup against a Texans defense that ranks 23rd in PPR per game allowed to running backs, but it's hard to trust either of these two players given the likely committee and low implied total. The matchup is good, but the usage is unclear and the offense is bad. I'd look elsewhere if you were desperate at running back.

Texans RBs

The matchup for this Texans backfield is exciting. The Jets rank 32nd in PPR per game allowed to running backs. In fact, New York is allowing 7.7 more PPR per game than 31st-ranked Seattle. However, the Texans running game is the worst in the NFL. They rank 31st in rush DVOA, while their offensive line is 32nd in Adjusted Line Yards. This means that they're awful at run-blocking. To make matters worse, it's not like the talent is there in this backfield. Rex Burkhead and David Johnson are far from a "dynamic duo." We can expect Burkhead to carry the load on early downs with Johnson functioning as the pass-catching back. I'd avoid this backfield unless I had no other choice.

Other Matchups:

Jets Supporting WRs

Corey Davis has racked up 14 targets in two games since returning from injury, but he has taken a backseat to Elijah Moore. During this stretch, Davis (177) has fewer air yards than Moore (180). Moore (20.99%) also has a higher target share than Davis (17.28%). There is also Jamison Crowder taking away targets, as the veteran slot wideout has caught 9-of-12 targets for 64 yards and a touchdown during this span. Davis is the preferred option of the two, but he has less upside than Moore. The Jets are one of the worst offenses in the NFL, so it's hard to envision a scenario where multiple pass-catchers provide strong fantasy production in a given week. I'll leave them in the lukewarm section because the matchup is good, but I'm not too excited about any of these wideouts. Keep an eye on Davis' status.

Tyrod Taylor (QB, HOU)

Tyrod Taylor has played well since returning from injury, finishing as QB11 last week. You have to love the rushing floor that he brings, as the veteran has now rushed for three touchdowns in four games this season, one of which he left early. Taylor has two Top-11 finishes on the season. This puts him on the streaming radar against a Jets defense that ranks 20th in PPR per game allowed to quarterbacks. We could see another strong outing from Taylor in this spot. If you're desperate for a streamer, I'd consider firing him up.

Injuries:

NYJ RB Michael Carter (ankle)
NYJ WR Corey Davis (groin)

 

Tennessee Titans at New England Patriots

Spread: Patriots -6
Implied Total: Titans (19.25) vs. Patriots (25.25)
Pace: Titans (16th) vs. Patriots (24th)
Scheme: Titans (54% Pass, 46% Rush) vs. Patriots (54% Pass, 46% Rush)
Titans Off. DVOA: 4.1% Pass (22nd), -6.5% Rush (15th)
Patriots Def. DVOA: -21.7% Pass (2nd), -14.6% Rush (8th)
Titans Def. DVOA: 3.5% Pass (13th), -9.1% Rush (18th)
Patriots Off. DVOA: 14.7% Pass (16th), -2.9% Rush (10th)

Matchups We Love:

Damien Harris (RB, NE)

This game projects as a favorable game script with the Patriots as six-point home favorites against a banged-up Titans team. Last week, Damien Harris returned to the lineup to play 40.68% of the snaps with 10 carries and one target. Rhamondre Stevenson played 32.2% of the snaps with 12 carries and one target. Brandon Bolden (two targets) was the primary back on passing downs. We can expect Harris to have more of a role in his second game back from injury, but it's clear that Stevenson will still get some usage in this offense. I expect the Patriots to go run-heavy in this game, especially because that's the weakness of this Titans defense, as they rank 18th in rush DVOA. While they're 4th in PPR per game allowed to running backs, this New England offensive line ranks 12th in Adjusted Line Yards. We could see them find success on the ground in this spot.

Matchups We Hate:

Ryan Tannehill (QB, TEN)

Ryan Tannehill is coming off a dismal performance against the Texans where he threw four interceptions. While we should see a better effort in this game, it's a terrible matchup against the hottest defense in the NFL. New England has only allowed 13 points in their last three games. They rank 2nd in pass DVOA on defense, so it's going to be tough sledding for Tannehill here. To make matters worse, we could see star-wideout A.J. Brown miss this game, as he's currently nursing a rib injury. Even if Brown plays, I'm not a fan of this spot for Tannehill. It's likely that the Titans will take a run-heavy approach.

UPDATE: A.J. Brown has been placed on IR, after initially being ruled out for Week 12.

Titans RBs

The Titans surprisingly cut Adrian Peterson, leaving this backfield to D'Onta ForemanJeremy McNichols, and Dontrell Hilliard. Foreman surprisingly only played 17.72% of the snaps last week, as Hilliard (63.92%) dominated touches. This is because the Titans played from behind and Hilliard functioned as the main passing down back. If Tennessee plays with a lead, you could see more Foreman. There's also a chance that McNichols returns for this game, which could render Hilliard an inactive player. New England is weaker in rush defense, as they are tied for 19th in PPR per game allowed to running backs. If the game goes according to projections, then Hilliard/McNichols are the preferred back here, as they can rack up checkdowns. Regardless, this looks like a situation to avoid until we get more clarity.

Mac Jones (QB, NE)

Mac Jones continues to play efficient football, completing 70.2 percent of his passes, but he's simply not good enough to start outside of cupcake matchups because he's essentially the game-manager of this run-heavy offense. Jones has only two Top-12 finishes this season. This game projects to be low-scoring, so it's unlikely that we'll see his third QB1 performance here. We've seen the Titans' defense slow down Matthew Stafford and Patrick Mahomes this season. I also expect coach Mike Vrabel to have this unit flying after a disappointing loss against the Texans. This is a bad spot for Jones, as I think we'll see a battle of the running games.

Patriots WRs

The Patriots wideouts have a good matchup against a Titans defense allowing the most PPR per game to opposing wideouts. However, this is a run-heavy offense with limited volume, which really makes each of these wideouts low-ceiling options. Jakobi Meyers is the preferred option, but he's failed to eclipse 50 yards in six consecutive games. Kendrick Bourne has 60+ yards in three of his last six games, but only 25 targets during that stretch. Nelson Agholor has the ability to get loose deep, but he also has low volume. This makes it tough to start any of these wideouts. I'd look elsewhere despite the good matchup.

Other Matchups:

A.J. Brown (WR, TEN)

A.J. Brown is currently dealing with a rib injury, but there's a decent chance that he'll be able to play in this game. Brown has struggled without Derrick Henry drawing away attention, as the wideout has combined for 11 receptions and 104 yards in three games. The good news is that he's racked up 24 targets during this stretch. The bad news is that this is an awful matchup, especially with Bill Belichick's ability to have his defense take away the opponent's best player. New England is tied for 4th in PPR per game allowed to wideouts. Brown has the game-breaking ability to overcome any matchup, but I have to leave him in the lukewarm section here. Keep an eye on his status, as he's missed practice all week.

UPDATE: A.J. Brown has been placed on IR, after initially being ruled out for Week 12.

Hunter Henry (TE, NE)

Hunter Henry is coming off a dud against the Falcons, catching 2-of-3 targets for only 25 yards. This coincided with Jonnu Smith's return to the lineup, which is concerning on the surface. However, when digging deeper, we see that Henry ran 19 routes to Smith's six. While Smith can definitely take away some red-zone targets, he won't have too much of a negative impact on Henry's production. You have to love Henry's high touchdown equity. He takes on a Titans defense that ranks 6th in PPR per game allowed to tight ends, but Henry is still worth firing up because of the way Jones likes to target him in the red-zone.

Injuries:

A.J. Brown (chest)

 

Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants

Spread: Eagles -4
Implied Total: Eagles (25.0) vs. Giants (21.0)
Pace: Eagles (5th) vs. Giants (8th)
Scheme: Eagles (50% Pass, 50% Rush) vs. Giants (59% Pass, 41% Rush)
Eagles Off. DVOA: 22.4% Pass (11th), 8.7% Rush (3rd)
Giants Def. DVOA: 2.5% Pass (11th), 0.6% Rush (30th)
Eagles Def. DVOA: 10.6% Pass (18th), -8.2% Rush (21st)
Giants Off. DVOA: -6.9% Pass (27th), -16.1% Rush (27th)

Matchups We Love:

Jalen Hurts (QB, PHI)

Jalen Hurts is currently QB1 in points and QB6 in points per game. While the Eagles have evolved into a run-heavy offense, this has helped Hurts become a more efficient quarterback. He's also rushing at a high rate, combining for 237 yards and three touchdowns in his last four games. Hurts has finished as a Top-12 quarterback in nine of 11 games this season, including three Top-4 finishes. The Giants' defense isn't one to fear, as they're tied for 22nd in fantasy points per game allowed to quarterbacks. Fire up Hurts as an elite QB1, especially since this game has sneaky shootout potential.

Miles Sanders (RB, PHI)

Miles Sanders returned to the lineup last week and played 45.45% of the snaps with 16 carries and one target. Jordan Howard is out with a knee injury. This means that it's wheels up for Sanders against a Giants defense that ranks 30th in rush DVOA. You have to love this run-heavy approach and potential positive game script with the Eagles as four-point road favorites. This looks like a Sanders smash week. I'd consider him as an upside RB2 with an RB1 ceiling in this spot. This Eagles running game is firing on all cylinders right now.

Dallas Goedert (TE, PHI)

Dallas Goedert caught 5-of-8 targets for 62 yards last week. He's now posted a 25.93% target share in five games since Zach Ertz was traded to the Cardinals. That's fantastic usage that has gone under the radar because the Eagles have been such a run-heavy offense. If we see even a minimal uptick in passing volume, we could really see Goedert hit his weekly ceiling. Goedert takes on a Giants defense that is tied for 18th in PPR per game allowed to tight ends, so this is an exploitable matchup. You have to think that it's only a matter of time before he finds the endzone given his high volume role in this offense.

Evan Engram (TE, NYG)

Evan Engram has found the endzone in two of his last three games, which keeps him on the radar as a potential streamer at tight end. Like the other weapons in this offense, there's a chance that we see some improvement from Engram. You could make the case that he was the pass-catcher most affected by Garrett. Let's remember that he had 467 yards in only eight games back in 2019 when Garrett was not around. This is a great matchup against an Eagles defense allowing the most PPR per game to tight ends. Engram is one of my favorite streamers this week.

Matchups We Hate:

There aren't any matchups to hate in this game.

Other Matchups:

DeVonta Smith (WR, PHI)

DeVonta Smith has been fantastic of late, catching 13-of-18 targets for 243 yards and three touchdowns in his last three games. Since Ertz has been gone, Smith has put up a 27.78% target share and 40.25% air yard share – that's alpha usage. The problem here is that Smith plays wide receiver, which is a deep position. Therefore, he's more severely impacted by the Eagles' run-heavy ways than a tight end like Goedert. This is why I have to leave him in the lukewarm section against a Giants defense that ranks 22nd in PPR per game allowed to wideouts. If Smith doesn't find the endzone, we could be looking at a floor week while he's matched up with James Bradberry.

Daniel Jones (QB, NYG)

Daniel Jones had a brutal outing on Monday night against the Buccaneers, but he's finally been freed from the shackles of Jason Garrett's horrendous play-calling. Perhaps Jones can get back on track with new offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens. Hopefully, Kitchens will allow Jones to run wild again. Jones has only rushed for 78 yards in his last six games after racking up 188 yards in his first four. I have a feeling that we'll see a rejuvenated Giants' offense without Garrett. The Eagles are tied for 17th in PPR per game allowed to quarterbacks, so this is an exploitable matchup. You also have to like the fact that Jones has each of his weapons available, aside from maybe Sterling Shepard. I would consider Jones as a potential streamer in this spot.

Saquon Barkley (RB, NYG)

Saquon Barkley returned to the lineup last week and looked underwhelming, rushing six times for 25 yards while catching all six of his targets for 31 yards. Perhaps we'll see a better outing in his second game back from injury. The Eagles rank 26th in PPR per game allowed to running backs, so this is a good matchup. The only reason why I'm leaving Barkley in the lukewarm section is that it's still unclear if he's back to full health yet, as he looked a bit slower than usual against the Bucs. Having said that, I'll fire him up as a low-end RB1 in this spot.

Giants WRs

Kadarius Toney was peppered with targets against the Bucs, but he was only able to catch 7-of-12 targets for 40 yards, as he was limited by the ineptitude of this offense as well as Garrett's playcalling. Hopefully, we'll see Kitchens manufacture touches for his most talented wideout. We could also see free-agent bust Kenny Golladay finally get more involved in the offense. The veteran wideout has been limited by injury as well as a lack of usage in his first year as a Giant. We'll also need to keep an eye on Sterling Shepard's status throughout the week. The Eagles are allowing the second-fewest PPR per game to wideouts, so this is a tough matchup, especially with top corner Darius Slay on the perimeter. This means it's likely that Toney will be the team's best way to attack this defense, as the rookie racks up underneath targets in the slot.

UPDATE: Sterling Shepard has been ruled out, and Kadarius Toney is listed as doubtful and not expected to play.

Injuries:

PHI RB Jordan Howard (knee)
NYG WR Sterling Shepard (quad)
NYG WR Kadarius Toney (quad)

 

Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals

Spread: Bengals -5
Implied Total: Steelers (20.0) vs. Bengals (25.0)
Pace: Steelers (7th) vs. Bengals (29th)
Scheme: Steelers (64% Pass, 36% Rush) vs. Bengals (58% Pass, 42% Rush)
Steelers Off. DVOA: 9.3% Pass (21st), -15.8% Rush (26th)
Bengals Def. DVOA: 10.6% Pass (19th), -14.4% Rush (10th)
Steelers Def. DVOA: 16.6% Pass (26th), -11.5% Rush (16th)
Bengals Off. DVOA: -0.2% Pass (24th), -12.3% Rush (22nd)

Matchups We Love:

Diontae Johnson (WR, PIT)

Diontae Johnson has been among the most consistent wideouts in fantasy football, finishing as WR25 or better in eight of nine games this season, including two Top-6 finishes. Johnson ranks 6th among wideouts in Expected Fantasy Points per game. His 28.79% target share ranks 4th among wideouts. This is a target hog who needs to be considered a weekly low-end WR1. The Bengals rank 13th in PPR per game allowed to wide receivers, but Johnson's role is too secure to be worried about the matchup.

Pat Freiermuth (TE, PIT)

Pat Freiermuth has been excellent as a rookie, combining for 25 receptions, 187 yards, and four touchdowns in his last five games. Eric Ebron (knee) is going to miss significant time, which opens up more usage with Freiermuth. He takes on a Bengals defense that ranks 15th in PPR per game allowed to tight ends, so this is an exploitable matchup. You also have to love Freiermuth's touchdown equity, putting him in play as a Top-12 tight end option in a game that has sneaky shootout potential.

Joe Mixon (RB, CIN)

Joe Mixon is on fire of late, rushing 279 yards and six touchdowns on 69 carries (4.04 YPC) in his last four games. He's also caught 9-of-10 targets for 104 yards and a touchdown during this stretch. Mixon has finished as RB21, RB2, RB4, and RB3 in this span. He now takes on a Steelers defense that just allowed Austin Ekeler to go off for 115 total yards and four touchdowns. Pittsburgh ranks 19th in Dropback EPA. This projects as a positive game script with the Bengals as five-point home favorites. Mixon is a rock-solid RB1.

Ja'Marr Chase (WR, CIN)

Ja'Marr Chase has had a few slow weeks recently: WR27, WR33, and WR27, but this is a good matchup. The Steelers defense ranks 24th in PPR per game allowed to wideouts and 16th in Dropback EPA. Pittsburgh just allowed Mike Williams (5 REC, 97 YDS, 1 TD) and Keenan Allen (9 REC, 112 YDS). The last time these teams played, Chase caught 4-of-5 targets for 65 yards and two touchdowns, including a 34-yard score. The Steelers could be without cornerback Joe Haden in this game, although T.J. Watt has a chance to return. Look for Chase to get back to WR1 production in this game.

Matchups We Hate:

Ben Roethlisberger (QB, PIT)

Ben Roethlisberger finished as QB8 last week, which was his first Top-12 finish of the season. He's placed outside of the Top-20 quarterbacks four times this season. While Big Ben could be forced to air it out if the Steelers are playing from behind, it's tough to recommend him as a streamer against a Bengals defense that ranks 7th in fantasy points per game allowed to quarterbacks. I'd only consider Roethlisberger as a contrarian play in DFS tournaments or if I were desperate in SuperFlex formats.

Other Matchups:

Najee Harris (RB, PIT)

We all know about Najee Harris' elite usage, as he ranks 2nd in Expected Fantasy Points per Game. The problem is that he just hasn't been efficient, especially of late. Harris struggled against one of the worst run defenses in the league last week, rushing for only 39 yards on 12 carries against the Chargers. The Bengals rank 11th in Rush EPA, so this is a tough matchup. You'll need Harris to rack up receptions and find the endzone in order to hit his ceiling here. While you're always firing him up as an RB1, I have to leave him in the lukewarm section given the matchup and recent performance.

Chase Claypool (WR, PIT)

Chase Claypool has been hampered by Big Ben's poor play this season, finishing outside of the Top-40 four times this season. However, he has shown a ceiling: WR17 and WR10 finishes. We all know about Claypool's high touchdown equity, so there's definitely some upside here, especially if the Steelers have to air it out to keep pace with the Bengals. Claypool is coming off a game where he caught 5-of-9 targets for 93 yards and that was with Roethlisberger missing him on a clear touchdown, underthrowing him downfield which caused Claypool to be tackled short of the endzone. Consider Claypool as a boom-or-bust WR3 with upside here.

Joe Burrow (QB, CIN)

Joe Burrow really struggled coming out of the bye last week, finishing as QB17 on the road against the Raiders. Now he takes on a Steelers defense that just got shredded by Justin Herbert for 382 yards and three touchdowns, along with 90 rushing yards. The problem is that there's a decent chance that T.J. Watt and Minkah Fitzpatrick return to the lineup this week, which makes this a more daunting matchup. Having said that, Pittsburgh does rank 16th in Dropback EPA, so their defense is not as good as it was last year. There are both pros and cons to Burrow's matchup here, which is why I'll leave him in the lukewarm section.

Tee Higgins (WR, CIN)

Tee Higgins continues to see solid volume, putting up a 23.08% target share for the season, but the production has not been there, as he ranks as WR40 in PPR per game. Higgins has finished outside of the Top-50 wideouts in three of his last six games. He also hasn't shown much of a ceiling, with his best finish as WR19. We know this is a very talented wide receiver, but we need to see more production before we put him back into the 'Love' section. This is an exploitable matchup against the Steelers, but I have to leave him in the lukewarm section.

Injuries: 

PIT TE Eric Ebron (knee)

 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Indianapolis Colts

Spread: Buccaneers -3
Implied Total: Buccaneers (28.0) vs. Colts (25.0)
Pace: Buccaneers (12th) vs. Colts (27th)
Scheme: Buccaneers (67% Pass, 33% Rush) vs. Colts (55% Pass, 45% Rush)
Buccaneers Off. DVOA: 46.6% Pass (1st), 3.2% Rush (5th)
Colts Def. DVOA: 11.9% Pass (20th), -26.2% Rush (2nd)
Buccaneers Def. DVOA: 0.2% Pass (7th), -19.6 Rush (4th)
Colts Off. DVOA: 12.8% Pass (19th), 9.6% Rush (2nd)

Matchups We Love:

Tom Brady (QB, TB)

Josh Allen disappointed against this pass-funnel Colts defense, but don't expect the same to happen with this Bucs passing game. Tom Brady should be able to pick apart this defense, which ranks 22nd in Dropback EPA, tied for 29th in PPR per game allowed to quarterbacks. Brady ranks 3rd with 22.8 Expected Fantasy Points per Game. He's finished in the Top-12 quarterbacks six times this season, including five Top-5 finishes. This is a terrific game environment with the Bucs (28.0 implied total) and Colts (25.0 implied total) projected to put up a ton of points. Fire up Brady as an elite QB1.

Chris Godwin (WR, TB)

Chris Godwin has been a model of consistency with Antonio Brown sidelined, finishing as WR6, WR3, WR33, and WR15 without the veteran wideout taking away targets. Brown missed Wednesday's practice, so there's a decent chance that he'll be out for this game. We could also see Mike Evans out this week. Godwin has racked up 37 targets in his last four games and we can expect more of the same in a projected pass-heavy game script. Consider Godwin as a borderline WR1 in this terrific matchup. The Colts rank 28th in PPR per game allowed to wideouts.

Rob Gronkowski (TE, TB)

Rob Gronkowski picked up right where he left off when he returned to the lineup last week, catching 6-of-8 targets for 71 yards against the Giants. Now he goes up against a Colts defense that ranks 27th in PPR per game allowed to opposing tight ends. Like Evans, Gronk has high touchdown equity in a prolific offense. If Evans is forced to miss this game, you can send Gronk's value to the moon here. You have to consider him as one of the top tight ends in this great matchup and terrific game environment.

Jonathan Taylor (RB, IND)

Jonathan Taylor is on a historic stretch right now. He needs to be considered an elite RB1 regardless of the matchup. He proved that last week when he gashed a stout Bills run defense for 185 rushing yards and four touchdowns, adding another receiving touchdown on three catches for 19 yards. Take a look at Taylor's fantasy finishes in his last eight weeks: RB9, RB3, RB2, RB5, RB6, RB2, RB4, and RB1. That's some incredible consistency. While the Bucs rank 4th in Rush EPA, that doesn't matter with Taylor. The Bills rank 3rd in Rush EPA and JT absolutely destroyed them. He's the overall RB1 each and every week.

Michael Pittman Jr. (WR, IND)

Michael Pittman Jr. has slowed down in the last three weeks, catching 12-of-16 targets for 158 yards and a touchdown in his last three games. He's taken a backseat to Taylor and the running game, which is the cause of his limited volume during this stretch. However, we could see this turn into a pass-heavy game script with the Colts projected to play from behind against a pass-funnel defense. That could result in more volume for Pittman, which is great news because when he's seen targets, he's done well. The Bucs rank 19th in PPR per game allowed to opposing wideouts. I love Pittman to get back on track as an upside WR2 in this terrific game environment.

Matchups We Hate:

There aren't any matchups to hate in this projected shootout.

Other Matchups:

Leonard Fournette (RB, TB)

Leonard Fournette has been one of the quietest RB1s in fantasy football this year. He ranks 9th among running backs in Expected Fantasy Points per Game. He's got the passing down role in an elite offense, making him a safe play on a weekly basis. The problem here is that the Colts' run defense is very good, ranking 2nd in Rush EPA. However, the volume should be there for Fournette to provide solid production. Having said that, I have to leave him in the lukewarm section. This matchup profiles as a better spot for the passing game.

Mike Evans (WR, TB)

Like Godwin, Mike Evans has gotten it done without Brown in the lineup, finishing as WR3, WR25, WR14, and WR12. He's caught 16-of-28 targets for 249 yards and six touchdowns during this stretch. This high touchdown equity keeps Evans in play as an upside WR2 each and every week. We could see him hit his ceiling in this projected shootout against a pass-funnel defense. The risk here is that Evans is currently dealing with a back injury, which kept him out of Wednesday's practice. Evans missed practice on Thursday as well, putting his status in doubt this week.

Carson Wentz (QB, IND)

Carson Wentz is in the lukewarm section because quarterback is a deep position, but he's firmly in play as a streamer against a pass-funnel Bucs defense in a projected shootout. Wentz has finished in the Top-12 in four of his last seven games, including three Top-8 finishes. The Colts have the offensive line to help protect Wentz against a tough Bucs pass-rush, so there's a chance that he can make plays downfield. The Bucs rank 21st in fantasy points per game allowed to quarterbacks, so this is an exploitable matchup.

Injuries:

TB WR Mike Evans (back)
TB WR Antonio Brown (ankle)

 

Carolina Panthers at Miami Dolphins

Spread: Panthers -2
Implied Total: Panthers (22.0) vs. Dolphins (20.0)
Pace: Panthers (21st) vs. Dolphins (4th)
Scheme: Panthers (57% Pass, 43% Rush) vs. Dolphins (66% Pass, 34% Rush)
Panthers Off. DVOA: -11.7% Pass (31st), -11.0% Rush (19th)
Dolphins Def. DVOA: 12.6% Pass (21st), -12.9% Rush (13th)
Panthers Def. DVOA: -10.9% Pass (5th), -8.6% Rush (20th)
Dolphins Off. DVOA: 1.3% Pass (23rd), -30.7% Rush (30th)

Matchups We Love:

Cam Newton (QB, CAR)

Cam Newton returned as Panthers starter last week and he did not disappoint, completing over 77 percent of his passes for 189 yards and two touchdowns, while rushing 10 times for 46 yards and a touchdown. He demonstrated his high upside as a fantasy quarterback, finishing as QB4 for the week. Newton goes up against a Dolphins defense that ranks 19th in Dropback EPA, allowing the fifth-most fantasy points per game to quarterbacks. Fire up Cam as a Top-12 option this week.

Christian McCaffrey (RB, CAR)

Christian McCaffrey continues to put up impressive production, rushing 10 times for 59 yards while catching 7-of-8 targets for 60 yards and a touchdown against Washington. He has now finished as RB17, RB5, and RB4 since returning from injury. CMC ranks 4th among running backs in Expected Fantasy Points per Game. The only running back I'd take over McCaffrey is Jonathan Taylor. This is a good matchup against a Dolphins defense that ranks 17th in PPR per game allowed to running backs.

D.J. Moore (WR, CAR)

D.J. Moore saw a resurgence with Newton at quarterback last week, catching 5-of-7 targets for 50 yards and a touchdown. Moore still has a 28.02% target share and 40.14% air yard share for the season, demonstrating that he still has excellent usage despite his poor recent production, which has been caused by dismal quarterback play. With Cam looking good, we could see Moore return the WR1 value that we saw earlier in the season. The Dolphins are allowing the second-most PPR per game to wideouts, so this is an excellent matchup.

Matchups We Hate:

Tua Tagovailoa (QB, MIA)

Tua Tagovailoa has been rock-solid in fantasy this season, with finishes of QB11, QB2, QB18, QB15, and QB13 since returning from injury. The problem here is that the Panthers have a great pass-rush, ranking 1st in the NFL with a 9.5% Adjusted Sack Rate. Miami's pass-blocking ranks 23rd in Adjusted Sack Rate. Carolina is also allowing the third-fewest fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks. This isn't the week to stream Tua, especially since it's an unfavorable game environment with Miami having a 20-point implied total.

Other Matchups:

Myles Gaskin (RB, MIA)

You have to love the usage that we're seeing from Myles Gaskin lately, as he's played over 65% of the snaps with a 10.87% target share since Week 7. The problem here is that the Panthers rank 6th in Rush EPA, tied for the fewest fantasy points per game to running backs. The Dolphins also claimed recently released running back Phillip Lindsay off waivers, which indicates that they're looking to bolster their depth. This does not bode well for Gaskin. Having said that, I need to leave him in the lukewarm section as a volume-based RB2, especially due to his passing game usage.

Jaylen Waddle (WR, MIA)

Jaylen Waddle has a tough matchup against a Panthers defense that is tied for the fourth-fewest PPR per game allowed to wideouts, but you have to love the target share. The rookie wideout has put up a 25.11% target share since Week 6, including double-digit targets in three of his last games. The problem is that he needs volume in order to hit his ceiling, which will be difficult against this stout defense. We can keep him in the lukewarm section as a high-floor WR3 due to his strong target share.

Mike Gesicki (TE, MIA)

Mike Gesicki had a modest bounce-back with five receptions for 50 yards after being shut out against the Ravens. He's posted seven or more targets in five of his last seven games, so you have to like the volume at a thin position. Perhaps he can rack up check downs with Tua under duress from this tough pass-rush. As we know, Gesicki is essentially a slot receiver listed as a tight end, so the Panthers numbers against the position doesn't really matter here. Consider Gesicki on the TE1/2 fringe in this spot.

Injuries:

MIA WR DeVante Parker (shoulder)

 

Atlanta Falcons at Jacksonville Jaguars

Spread: Falcons -2
Implied Total: Falcons (24.25) vs. Jaguars (22.25)
Pace: Falcons (14th) vs. Jaguars (13th)
Scheme: Falcons (59% Pass, 41% Rush) vs. Jaguars (55% Pass, 45% Rush)
Falcons Off. DVOA: -5.1% Pass (26th), -44.0% Rush (32nd)
Jaguars Def. DVOA: 31.6% Pass (31st), -16.5% Rush (5th)
Falcons Def. DVOA: 25.3% Pass (29th), -5.0% Rush (24th)
Jaguars Off. DVOA: -9.3% Pass (28th), 5.9% Rush (4th)

Matchups We Love:

Kyle Pitts (TE, ATL)

Kyle Pitts has slowed down recently, as the Falcons offense has really struggled without Calvin Ridley and Cordarrelle Patterson. The rookie has combined for 12 receptions and 164 yards in his last four games. The good news is that this is a great matchup against a Jaguars defense that ranks 31st in pass DVOA. Jacksonville is tied for 18th in PPR per game allowed to tight ends, but Pitts often lines up at wide receiver, where the Jags are tied for 25th. We could see the rookie phenom wreak havoc on this pass defense. Look for a bounce-back performance in this game.

James Robinson (RB, JAX)

James Robinson continues to be the model of consistency despite the dumpster fire of an offense that suppresses his ceiling, finishing in the Top-12 running backs in six of his last seven games. The only game where he did not was against Seattle, where he left early due to injury. The Falcons rank 24th in rush DVOA, allowing the fourth-most PPR per game to the position this season. This game projects to be close, which favors Robinson. It's a good game script in an exploitable matchup. Robinson is a borderline RB1 in this spot.

Matchups We Hate:

Trevor Lawrence (QB, JAX)

Trevor Lawrence has been a massive disappointment in his rookie season. He's completing only 58.4 percent of his passes, averaging 214.1 yards per game at 6.0 yards per attempt with eight touchdowns and nine interceptions. Lawrence has failed to throw for a touchdown in three consecutive games. While the matchup against Atlanta is a good one (29th in pass DVOA), it's really difficult to trust Lawrence outside of as a desperation SuperFlex or contrarian play in DFS tournaments.

Other Matchups:

Matt Ryan (QB, ATL)

Matt Ryan has had consecutive bad outings against the Cowboys and Patriots, finishing as QB35 and QB30 during that stretch. Prior to these games, Ryan had finished as QB3, QB10, QB12, QB31, and QB3 in his previous five games. This looks like a get-right spot against the Jaguars (31st in pass DVOA), but I would temper your expectations given the lack of supporting cast with Ridley and Patterson out of the lineup. If Patterson can play, that's obviously a boon to Ryan's value. I'll leave him in the lukewarm section due to this factor.

Falcons RBs

Cordarrelle Patterson has been able to get in limited practices, but his status is still up in the air for this week's game. If he's able to play, we can consider him an upside RB2. If he misses another one, that would leave Mike DavisQadree Ollison, and perhaps even Wayne Gallman to form a three-man committee against one of the most underrated run defenses in football. Jacksonville ranks 5th in rush DVOA, allowing only 3.63 yards per carry (3rd). They just limited Jeff Wilson Jr. to 19 carries for 50 yards (2.6 YPC). This is an easy avoid here, unless Patterson is able to play.

Russell Gage (WR, ATL)

Russell Gage came alive for modest production against the Patriots last week, catching 5-of-8 targets for 49 yards. As the only reliable wideout in this offense, Gage carries some full-PPR floor in an exploitable matchup against a Jaguars defense that is tied for 25th in PPR per game allowed to wide receivers. Having said that, there simply is not that much upside in this play considering the ineptitude of the Falcons offense. I'd leave him in the lukewarm section, however, as this game does have sneaky shootout potential.

Marvin Jones Jr. (WR, JAX)

Jamal Agnew has been placed on injured reserve, which could open up more targets for Marvin Jones Jr. Perhaps even Laviska Shenault will be more involved. I'd only consider Jones as a potential WR4 dart-throw in this spot because Shenault has been a massive disappointment. It wouldn't shock me to see Tavon Austin get an increased role in the slot with Agnew sidelined. Jones still leads the team with a 30.99% air-yard share, so the usage is there if Lawrence can find some success against this exploitable defense. The Falcons rank 21st in PPR per game allowed to wide receivers.

Dan Arnold (TE, JAX)

Dan Arnold is coming off his first dud week as a Jaguar, getting shut out completely: zero receptions on zero targets. Prior to that game, he had combined for 17 receptions and 195 yards in his previous three games. We could see the Jaguars make an effort to force-feed Arnold the ball after a slow week. There's also a chance that he sees more usage with Agnew out of the lineup. The Falcons rank 14th in PPR per game allowed to tight ends. I'd go back to the well with Arnold this week.

Injuries:

ATL RB Cordarrelle Patterson (ankle)
JAX WR Jamal Agnew (hip)

 

Matchups Analysis - 4:00 ET Games

Los Angeles Chargers at Denver Broncos

Spread: Chargers -2.5
Implied Total: Chargers (25.25) vs. Broncos (22.75)
Pace: Chargers (2nd) vs. Broncos (31st)
Scheme: Chargers (62% Pass, 38% Rush) vs. Broncos (58% Pass, 42% Rush)
Chargers Off. DVOA: 33.2% Pass (6th), -3.0% Rush (11th)
Broncos Def. DVOA: 10.5% Pass (17th), -3.2% Rush (28th)
Chargers Def. DVOA: 1.1% Pass (9th), 5.2% Rush (32nd)
Broncos Off. DVOA: 19.2% Pass (14th), -7.9% Rush (17th)

Matchups We Love:

Austin Ekeler (RB, LAC)

Austin Ekeler blew up for 115 total yards and four touchdowns last week. He now ranks as RB3 in PPR per game and RB8 in Expected Fantasy Points per Game. Ekeler has racked up six or more targets in four of his last five games. This is a running back who excels in the passing game, getting red-zone carries in a prolific passing offense. The only running backs I'd take over Ekeler are Jonathan Taylor and Christian McCaffrey. Ekeler goes up against a Broncos defense that ranks 28th in rush DVOA, so this is an exploitable matchup.

Keenan Allen (WR, LAC)

Keenan Allen has been a target machine recently, catching 35-of-48 targets for 391 yards and a touchdown in his last four games. Allen has put up double-digit targets in each of those games. The Broncos are allowing the sixth-fewest PPR per game to wideouts, but Allen is virtually matchup-proof with this heavy volume. He should be able to get open consistently and rack up underneath targets, giving him a rock-solid floor, especially in full-PPR leagues. Fire him up as a safe player on the WR1/2 fringe.

Broncos RBs

The Broncos backfield has been an even split between Melvin Gordon and Javonte Williams all year, but both backs are in a great spot to provide RB2 value against a Chargers defense that ranks 32nd in rush DVOA. Los Angeles has given up big games to Ezekiel ElliottTony PollardNick Chubb, and Dalvin Cook this season. It's likely that the Broncos will try to exploit this weakness, especially since it can be a way to keep Justin Herbert off the field. I prefer Williams here because of his explosiveness and ability to break tackles. Perhaps Denver will give him a higher workload coming out of the bye.

Matchups We Hate:

Teddy Bridgewater (QB, DEN)

Teddy Bridgewater currently ranks as QB23 in fantasy points per game. I'm projecting the Broncos to play run-heavy against this run-funnel Chargers defense, which takes Bridgewater off the streaming radar. The Chargers' strength on defense is against the pass, where they rank 6th in fantasy points per game allowed to quarterbacks. While there's a chance that Bridgewater gets forced into a pass-heavy game script if the Chargers pull ahead early, I'm not betting on that happening in a home game. Avoid Bridgewater this week.

Other Matchups:

Justin Herbert (QB, LAC)

Justin Herbert is coming off a ceiling game against the Steelers where he threw for 382 yards and three touchdowns along with 90 rushing yards. This projects as more of a floor week on the road in a tough environment in Denver. The Broncos can really limit opposing volume due to their slow pace and likely run-heavy approach. Denver ranks 10th in Dropback EPA, allowing the fourth-fewest fantasy points per game to quarterbacks. I'm still leaving Herbert in the lukewarm section because of his talent, supporting cast, and pass-heavy scheme, but I'm not hyped about him this week.

Mike Williams (WR, LAC)

Mike Williams came alive for five receptions, 97 yards, and a touchdown against the Steelers last week. While his overall line is inflated by a 53-yard touchdown right at the end of the game, he still looks like a high-upside WR3 moving forward. Despite his recent struggles, you still have to be happy with his overall line: 46 receptions, 705 yards, and seven touchdowns. He's a virtual lock to set career-highs across the board. Williams has taken a backseat to Ekeler and Allen, so he carries some risk in a poor game environment like this one. However, I have to leave him in the lukewarm section due to his big-play ability.

Broncos WRs

The Broncos receiving core is terrific, but there just is not enough volume to go around for each of them to provide adequate fantasy value. Denver plays at the second-slowest pace in neutral game scripts in the NFL. Add in a likely run-heavy approach against the Chargers and you have a bad game environment for Jerry JeudyCourtland Sutton, and Tim Patrick. The Chargers are allowing the third-fewest PPR per game to wideouts, so this is a tough matchup. However, it's important to note that Los Angeles has struggled against wideouts in recent weeks: Diontae Johnson(7 REC, 101 YDS, 1 TD), Justin Jefferson (9 REC, 143 YDS), DeVonta Smith (5 REC, 116 YDS, 1 TD) What do these WRs have in common? They have elite separation skills, which is exactly what Jeudy excels at. I'd only consider firing up Jeudy out of this group. I'll put them in the lukewarm section because of this interesting tidbit.

Noah Fant (TE, DEN)

Noah Fant returned to the lineup last game, catching 5-of-6 targets for 59 yards against the Eagles. The Chargers are tough on the perimeter, so we could see Fant act as the main priority in the passing game, as Los Angeles is allowing the second-most PPR per game to opposing tight ends. Fant currently ranks as TE12 in PPR per game and TE9 in Expected Fantasy Points per Game, so he's a solid option at a weak position. I like Fant in this spot, but we have to leave him in the lukewarm section due to the game environment.

Injuries:

There aren't any injuries to fantasy-relevant players in this game.

 

Los Angeles Rams at Green Bay Packers

Spread: Rams -1
Implied Total: Rams (24.0) vs. Packers (23.0)
Pace: Rams (11th) vs. Packers (32nd)
Scheme: Rams (63% Pass, 37% Rush) vs. Packers (58% Pass, 42% Rush)
Rams Off. DVOA: 35.5% Pass (4th), -2.2% Rush (9th)
Packers Def. DVOA: 3.2% Pass (12th), -4.0% Rush (26th)
Rams Def. DVOA: 2.0% Pass (10th), -15.2% Rush (7th)
Packers Off. DVOA: 31.4% Pass (8th), -4.3% Rush (12th)

Matchups We Love:

Matthew Stafford (QB, LAR)

Matthew Stafford is coming out of the bye fresh off two consecutive duds, where he combined for 536 yards with two touchdowns and four interceptions. I'm projecting him to bounce back in a big way against a Packers defense that just allowed Kirk Cousins to go off for 341 yards (9.7 Y/A) with three touchdowns. Prior to that, the Packers defense had been rolling, slowing down the likes of Kyler Murray, Patrick Mahomes, and Russell Wilson, but I think the Vikings exposed some holes in this secondary last week. Fire up Stafford as one of the best quarterbacks on the slate.

Cooper Kupp (WR, LAR)

Cooper Kupp has been absolutely ridiculous this season. Kupp has put up double-digit targets in every game but one this year. He's also posted nine or more receptions in six of 10 games, as well as 100+ yards in six games. Kupp leads wide receivers in Expected Fantasy Points per Game while placing 2nd in Fantasy Points Above Expectation. He goes up against a Packers defense that ranks 7th in PPR per game allowed to wide receivers, but Kupp is matchup-proof. We also just saw Justin Jefferson go off for eight receptions, 169 yards, and two touchdowns against this defense.

A.J. Dillon (RB, GB)

A.J. Dillon was a bit disappointing in his first start of the season, rushing 11 times for 53 yards while catching all six of his targets for 44 yards. However, you have to be pleased with his usage, especially in the passing game. Dillon goes up against a Rams defense that ranks 20th in Rush EPA. This is where you need to attack this defense: on the ground. While Aaron Jones is a game-time decision, it seems more likely that they'll hold him out for another week since they have the bye next week. Fire up Dillon as an RB1 in this spot.

UPDATE: Aaron Jones practiced three days in a row, and is officially questionable. He has a chance at returning this week.

Matchups We Hate:

There aren't any matchups to hate in this potential shootout.

Other Matchups:

Darrell Henderson Jr. (RB, LAR)

Darrell Henderson has slowed down in recent weeks, finishing as RB38 and RB37 in his last two games. It's no coincidence that those were two games where the Rams played in negative game scripts, ultimately losing each of them. Perhaps we can see a bounce back from Henderson against a Packers defense that ranks 27th in Rush EPA, but I feel more confident in the Rams passing game. I'll consider Henderson more of a high-end RB2 in this matchup.

Rams WRs

Odell Beckham Jr. only played on 28.3% of the snaps in his first game as a Ram, but we can expect a much higher workload coming off the bye. Beckham's ability to win downfield fits perfectly with Stafford and this offense, so I'm intrigued to see what he can do with a full workload. He's a boom-or-bust WR3 in this spot. Van Jefferson looked pretty good against the 49ers, 3-of-7 targets for 54 yards, but he's more of a volatile option. I'd put Jefferson at third in the pecking order and more of a WR4.

Tyler Higbee (TE, LAR)

Tyler Higbee has been one of the most disappointing tight ends in the NFL, as he plays a full slate of snaps in a great offense, but he's currently TE18 in PPR per game. Higbee also ranks 12th in Expected Fantasy Points per Game, so he's clearly underperformed his usage. Higbee goes up against a Packers defense that ranks 17th in PPR per game allowed to tight ends, making this an exploitable matchup. Having said that, I have to leave him in the lukewarm section, as he's failed to eclipse 50 yards in all but two games this season.

Aaron Rodgers (QB, GB)

Aaron Rodgers tore up the Vikings for 385 yards and four touchdowns last week, but it'll be tougher sledding in this spot against Aaron DonaldJalen Ramsey, and Von Miller coming off the bye. The Rams rank 9th in fantasy points per game allowed to quarterbacks and 10th in pass DVOA. We also have to consider that Rodgers is currently nursing a toe injury. This is a tough matchup, so we could be looking at more of a floor week for Rodgers in this spot. I'd prefer Stafford out of these two quarterbacks here.

Davante Adams (WR, GB)

Davante Adams had a big game against the Vikings, catching 7-of-8 targets for 115 yards and two touchdowns, but he'll have to deal with Jalen Ramsey in this game. The Rams rank 16th in PPR per game allowed to wideouts, but you have to think that Ramsey will probably follow Adams around here. Obviously I'm still considering Adams as an elite WR1 in this spot, it's just that this game looks like more of a floor week. We also have to note that Adams is currently banged-up with an ankle injury, although he did get in a full practice on Thursday.

Marquez Valdes-Scantling (WR, GB)

Marquez Valdes-Scantling had quite possibly the best game of his career against the Vikings last week, catching 4-of-10 targets for 123 yards and a touchdown. The 10 targets is what makes this game so intriguing. Are the Packers finally trying to make him more involved in the offense, or was this just a result of a favorable game environment? I think that the answer is likely to be the latter, but we have to put MVS back on the fantasy radar after this performance.

Injuries:

GB QB Aaron Rodgers (toe)
GB RB Aaron Jones (knee)
GB WR Davante Adams (ankle)

 

Minnesota Vikings at San Francisco 49ers

Spread: 49ers -3.5
Implied Total: Vikings (22.75) vs. 49ers (26.25)
Pace: Vikings (10th) vs. 49ers (26th)
Scheme: Vikings (59% Pass, 41% Rush) vs. 49ers (49% Pass, 51% Rush)
Vikings Off. DVOA: 39.5% Pass (2nd), -21.6% Rush (29th)
49ers Def. DVOA: 13.5% Pass (22nd), -22.3% Rush (3rd)
Vikings Def. DVOA: 0.5% Pass (8th), -3.4% Rush (27th)
49ers Off. DVOA: 34.5% Pass (5th), -0.8% Rush (8th)

Matchups We Love:

Justin Jefferson (WR, MIN)

Prior to the Chargers game, the Vikings talked about getting Justin Jefferson more involved. Since then, Jefferson has caught 17-of-21 targets for 312 yards and two touchdowns in two games. That's fantastic usage and production. Jefferson has evolved into a matchup-proof WR1. The 49ers rank 12th in PPR per game allowed to receivers, but Jefferson is too good to downgrade here. The one risk is that the 49ers can keep the ball for prolonged periods with long drives with their running game, but Jefferson is an absolute stud. He's one of the top wideouts on the slate.

Elijah Mitchell (RB, SF)

Elijah Mitchell has returned to practice and looks poised to be back in the lineup for this game. It's a great matchup against a Vikings defense that ranks 31st in Rush EPA and 22nd in in PPR per game allowed to running backs. There's no reason to think that Mitchell won't return to a full workload, so we can fire him up as a rock-solid RB2 with upside in this spot. You have to love the game environment given Mitchell's touchdown equity, as he has a great chance to find the end zone in this projected high-scoring affair.

Deebo Samuel (WR, SF)

Deebo Samuel is simply ridiculous. He's been one of the biggest surprises of the season, tied for WR2 in PPR per game. Samuel ranks 1st among wideouts with 61.3 Fantasy Points Above Expectation, which demonstrates how he's been absurdly efficient. We've also seen him rack up yards on the ground lately, combining for 13 carries, 115 yards, and two touchdowns in his last two games. Samuel takes on a Vikings defense that was just shredded by Davante Adams. He's an elite WR1 in this spot.

Matchups We Hate:

Tyler Conklin (TE, MIN)

Tyler Conklin currently ranks as TE16 in PPR per game, which has allowed him to be a surprising weekly streamer, especially in the last few games. However, this is a spot to avoid him, as the 49ers rank 5th in PPR per game allowed to opposing tight ends. There's a risk that we see a limited passing volume from Minnesota in this game, so it's tough to rely on Conklin, especially since he only has six receptions and 46 yards in his last two games. Look elsewhere if you need a streamer.

Other Matchups:

Kirk Cousins (QB, MIN)

Kirk Cousins is the most underrated quarterback in fantasy football, currently ranked as QB10 in fantasy points per game. Despite this game projecting as a potential shootout, I have to leave Cousins in the lukewarm section because of the risk that the 49ers dominate on the ground and control time of possession, limiting passing volume for the Vikings. San Francisco is tied for 12th in fantasy points per game allowed to quarterbacks, so this isn't exactly an easy matchup. I'll leave Cousins in the lukewarm section due to his strong play this season.

Dalvin Cook (RB, MIN)

Dalvin Cook has not been as explosive this year, rushing for 100+ yards only once in his last four games. He also ranks 5th in Expected Fantasy Points per Game, so he's not getting the same type of enormous workload that he saw last year. Having said that, he's still combined for 52 touches in his last two games, so this is still an elite RB1. The reason why I'm leaving him in the lukewarm section is because the 49ers are firing on all cylinders right now. Their offense is limiting opposing plays through long drives due to their efficient play. Their defense has come alive, allowing only 2o points in their last two games. This will make it tough for Cook to hit his ceiling.

Adam Thielen (WR, MIN)

Adam Thielen continues to stay afloat as a WR2 because of his touchdown production, as he's found the end zone eight times this season, including four in his last five games. If the touchdowns ever start drying up, we could really see Thielen's fantasy value plummet, as the veteran is tied for WR26 in Expected Fantasy Points per Game. Thielen is the clear-cut number-two option in this offense, which makes him more volatile from week to week. Consider him on the WR2/3 fringe here.

Jimmy Garoppolo (QB, SF)

Jimmy Garoppolo has been hyper-efficient in his last four games, completing 76-of-109 passes (69.7%) for 1,006 yards (9.23 Y/A) with six touchdowns and one interception. The problem is that the passing volume has not been there, as he's averaged only 27.25 attempts during this stretch. The Vikings defense just got picked apart for 385 yards and four touchdowns, but they're still ranked 8th in pass DVOA. I expect the 49ers to continue to run the ball at a high rate, especially in this exploitable matchup. This keeps Jimmy G in the lukewarm section.

Brandon Aiyuk (WR, SF)

Brandon Aiyuk has topped 80 yards in two of his last three games, combining for 13 receptions, 200 yards, and two touchdowns during that stretch. The days of Aiyuk in Kyle Shanahan's doghouse are long gone. We can consider him an upside WR3 every week. The problem here is that Deebo is clearly the alpha in this offense, so there's always risk of a dud week given the 49ers' run-heavy offensive philosophy. Having said that, you have to think the arrow is trending up on Aiyuk.

George Kittle (TE, SF)

George Kittle has combined for 15 receptions, 185 yards, and three touchdowns in three games since returning from injury. He's posted 19 targets during this stretch, so you have to like the volume, especially with how run-heavy the 49ers have been. The Vikings rank 4th in PPR per game allowed to tight ends. This is a difficult matchup, but Kittle is among the most talented tight ends in the league and you have to consider him matchup-proof. The only issue is the lack of passing volume, but Kittle remains a Top-5 tight end.

Injuries:

There aren't any fantasy-relevant injuries in this game.

 

Matchups Analysis - Sunday Night Football

Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens

Spread: Ravens -3.5
Implied Total: Browns (21.0) vs. Ravens (24.5)
Pace: Browns (25th) vs. Ravens (30th)
Scheme: Browns (50% Pass, 50% Rush) vs. Ravens (51% Pass, 49% Rush)
Browns Off. DVOA: 13.3% Pass (18th), 10.6% Rush (1st)
Ravens Def. DVOA: 17.8% Pass (27th), -15.5% Rush (6th)
Browns Def. DVOA: 16.1% Pass (24th), -11.3% Rush (17th)
Ravens Off. DVOA: 14.3% Pass (17th), 1.9% Rush (6th)

Matchups We Love:

Lamar Jackson (QB, BAL)

Lamar Jackson looks ready to return to the lineup, as he's back at practice after missing last week with an illness. Jackson is currently QB1 in fantasy points per game, averaging 271.9 passing yards and 71.0 rushing yards per game. This gives him a terrific combination of floor and upside. Jackson goes up against a Browns defense that ranks 24th in pass DVOA, tied for 14th in fantasy points per game allowed to quarterbacks. Lamar has been much better at home this season, so I expect him to put up a strong game in this one. He's an elite QB1.

Marquise Brown (WR, BAL)

Marquise Brown is also coming back this week, as he's been able to get back to limited practice. Brown has established himself as an alpha WR1 this season, catching 52-of-82 targets for 719 yards and six touchdowns. He's racked up an absurd 39 targets in his last three games. When you consider this high volume with Brown's ability to take it to the house on the deep ball. you have a borderline WR1 each week. The Browns defense ranks 14th in PPR per game allowed to wideouts, but I'm not too concerned about the matchup.

Mark Andrews (TE, BAL)

Mark Andrews currently ranks as TE2 in PPR per game, as he's been able to ascend to the elite tier of tight ends. Andrews has put up 28 targets in his last three games, giving him elite volume at the tight end position. He ranks 3rd in Expected Fantasy Points per Game, demonstrating his elite usage. The Browns rank 12th in PPR per game allowed to tight ends, but as with Brown, I'm not too concerned about the matchup with the volume Andrews has seen this season. Fire him up as an elite WR1.

Matchups We Hate:

Baker Mayfield (QB, CLE)

Baker Mayfield is currently playing through a myriad of injuries right now, including issues with his foot, groin, and shoulder. You can really tell that he hasn't been himself, as he's combined for 239 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions in his last two games. Add in the fact that he plays in one of the most run-heavy offenses in the league and you have an easy avoid. I'd only consider rolling with Mayfield in SuperFlex formats or as a punt play in DFS tournaments.

Other Matchups:

Browns RBs

Nick Chubb has been terrific over the last two weeks, finishing as RB3 and RB4, but now Kareem Hunt is expected to return to the lineup, which limits Chubb's upside since we'll see decreased usage. The Ravens rank 11th in PPR per game allowed to running backs, so this is a tough matchup. However, the Browns running game is the best in the NFL, which makes them capable of exploiting any matchup. I'd consider Chubb on the RB1/2 fringe with Hunt as an upside RB2 in this spot.

Jarvis Landry (WR, CLE)

Jarvis Landry caught 4-of-8 targets for 26 yards last week, which was the third consecutive game where he failed to eclipse 30 yards. The good news is that the Browns might have to air it out more than usual to keep pace with this Ravens offense. Given the volume we've seen from Landry, this puts him in play in full-PPR leagues. I'll leave him in the lukewarm section because there's always a chance that the game turns into a shootout with this explosive Ravens offense.

Devonta Freeman (RB, BAL)

Devonta Freeman has established himself as the lead back for the Ravens, rushing 16 times for 49 yards and a touchdown while catching all six of his targets for 31 yards. You have to love the usage in the passing game, as Freeman has racked up 10 targets in his last two games. This is an exploitable matchup against a Browns defense that ranks 25th in Rush EPA, so we could see Freeman flirt with RB2 value. However, we need to temper our expectations because there's a chance that Latavius Murray sees more work in his second game back from injury.

Rashod Bateman (WR, BAL)

Rashod Bateman is back on the upside WR3 radar with Lamar Jackson under center again. The rookie has been highly impressive this season, totaling 34 targets in only five games this season. He has the look of a future alpha WR1 in this offense. There's a chance that Bateman can hit his ceiling in this favorable game environment. Having said that, he's still the third option in a run-heavy offense, so I need to leave him in the lukewarm section.

Injuries:

PIT WR Chase Claypool (toe)

Additional Notes:

Ben Roethlisberger and Jared Cook are not fantasy-relevant right now.



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