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Fantasy Football Start Em, Sit Em - Week 18 Matchups Analysis

Trevor Lawrence - Fantasy Football Rankings, NFL Injury News, DFS Lineup Picks

Welcome back RotoBallers to our Week 18 matchups analysis and Start Em, Sit Em column for fantasy football. I want to first acknowledge the health and well-being of Damar Hamlin, which remains at the forefront of my mind, and of everyone here at RotoBaller. It's still championship time for some, while others have switched over to DFS. Last week was obviously a unique experience for everyone involved with the NFL. From a fantasy perspective, there were some tremendous performances and some unforgettable letdowns, all of which determined semi-final matchups and championships. Week 18 is challenging to navigate because several teams have nothing to play for, causing them to rest or limit the playing time of their starters. For each matchup below, you'll find a statement about what they're playing and how that might impact their roster decisions, if at all. Ideally, we want to target individuals on teams that need to win because we know they'll be active and play the majority of the contest. It's also worth monitoring the Vegas line because it often reflects the intention of the teams involved.

For those who are unfamiliar, each week we'll be analyzing every game from the Sunday slate, helping you optimize your fantasy lineups and take down your opponent. Check back regularly for any updates on player injuries, statuses, or other pertinent information. I also wanted to express my gratitude for some of the great resources that help me write this article each week such as Football Outsiders, Pro Football Focus, Rotovitz, Pro Football Reference, Draftkings Sportsbook, and Fantasy Points. Furthermore, a thank you is deserved by all of you for reading this article.

I will cover the entire Saturday and Sunday slate of games. As a reminder, there is not a Thursday Night Football game or a Monday Night Football game this week. Hopefully, you either took home a title or advanced to the championships! Regardless of what you have to play for this week, we'll make sure you're ready to go. If you have any additional lineup questions, follow me on Twitter @JoshCon, and feel free to ask away. Let's dive into the matchups.

Editor's Note: Our incredible team of writers won two writing awards and received 12 award nominations by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. A big congrats to our very own Byron Lindeque (Golf) and Jordan McAbee (NASCAR) for both winning Writer Of The Year awards! Be sure to follow RotoBaller's analysis and advice all year long, and win more. Win More With RotoBaller!

 

Matchups Analysis - Saturday Games

Kansas City Chiefs at Las Vegas Raiders

Spread: Chiefs -9.0
Implied Total: Chiefs (30.75) vs. Raiders (21.75)
Pace: Chiefs (13th) vs. Raiders (23rd)
Chiefs Off. DVOA: 44.3% Pass (1st), -3.3% Rush (17th)
Raiders Off. DVOA: 10.1% Pass (16th), 5.4% Rush (6th)
Chiefs Def. DVOA:
9.0% Pass (21st),-4.9% Rush (17th)
Raiders Def. DVOA: 24.5% Pass (32nd), -1.9% Rush (21st)
What's on the line: Chiefs - No. 1 seed, Raiders - QB development/clarification
Player Participation: 
Chiefs - Playing as usual, May see veterans play less

Matchups We Love:

Patrick Mahomes (QB, KC)

Mahomes is a top-five quarterback in a normal week, so against the Raiders in a week with fewer available options, he's a must-start.

Travis Kelce (TE, KC)

Kelce also fits the description above.

Chiefs RBs

Isiah Pacheco won't be a factor in the passing game because of Jerick McKinnon, but he'll get enough carries including at the goal line to make him a viable starter. McKinnon also joins him thanks to his pass-catching prowess.

Davante Adams (WR, LV)

Adams saw his close friend Derek Carr get benched and was dealing with a minor injury, providing plenty of reason for him to throw in the towel. However, he instead dominated the 49ers secondary en route to finishing as the WR2. He and Jarrett Stidham played well together, which should translate this week against an easier defense. He's a must-start, even if his playing time gets reduced because his ceiling is so high.

Josh Jacobs (RB, LV)

Jacobs finds himself in the same category as Adams, an elite talent that delivered in a very difficult matchup, surprising many of us. He's also in your lineup so long as he plays because he is listed as questionable. If he were to miss then Zamir White would be an intriguing option.

UPDATE: Jacobs is active. It's unclear whether he'll play the full game, but his ceiling is very high.

Darren Waller (TE, LV)

Waller's snap percentage increased slightly to 57%, but he was still behind Foster Moreau, who played on 79% of the offensive snaps. That said, he delivered a nice game, catching three of his five targets for 72 yards and a score. His usage could be more volatile, but he's worth throwing out there for a shot at a big game.

Matchups We Hate:

None

Other Matchups:

Chiefs WRs

The Chiefs don't need their wide receivers to win, but the matchup is so juicy that it's worth taking a shot on JuJu Smith-Schuster, and to a lesser extent Kadarius Toney if needed.

Jarrett Stidham (QB, LV)

Stidham shocked the world, putting up a QB3 finish against arguably the league's best defense. He threw two picks, one of which came in overtime, but for fantasy, he was incredibly productive. There's no guarantee he throws for over 300 yards and three touchdowns again this week, but if you're struggling to find a reliable starter he's worth considering as a streamer.

Injuries:

Skyy Moore (hand)

Josh Jacobs (hip/oblique)

 

Tennessee Titans at Jacksonville Jaguars

Spread: Jaguars -6.5
Implied Total: Titans (16.75) vs. Jaguars (23.25)
Pace: Titans (32nd) vs. Jaguars (11th)
Titans Off. DVOA: 7.0% Pass (19th), -5.4% Rush (18th)
Jaguars Off. DVOA: 26.2% Pass (8th), -6.0% Rush (19th)
Titans Def. DVOA:
3.3% Pass (21st), 15.9% Rush (28th)
Jaguars Def. DVOA: 20.0% Pass (29th), -10.6% Rush (12th)
What's on the line: Jaguars - division crown, Titans - division crown
Player Participation: 
Jaguars - Playing as usual, Titans - Playing as usual

Matchups We Love:

Derrick Henry (RB, TEN)

Henry loves playing the Jaguars, he racked up over 100 yards and a score the last time they played, which is about what you can expect from him this week in a win-or-go-home game.

Trevor Lawrence (QB, JAX)

Lawrence and the passing attack were unlucky because the team scored three times on the ground, plus they added a defensive touchdown, establishing an insurmountable lead. The matchup is favorable for them this week, increasing the likeliness we see a bounce-back performance and more than 21 passing attempts. He's locked in.

UPDATE: Lawrence is active as expected.

Evan Engram (TE, JAX)

Similarly, Engram was a non-factor but immediately jumps back in as a strong option this week.

Jaguars WRs

Christian Kirk and Zay Jones actually took a backseat to Marvin Jones Jr., who led the team in targets, but again it was an unusual situation, so it's best not to read too much into that. Often, one of these two or Engram ends up as the odd man out, but without knowing who that will be, the best approach is to start both.

Matchups We Hate:

None

Other Matchups:

Treylon Burks (WR, TEN)

Burks returned to action and performed well, finishing with four receptions on eight targets, totaling 86 yards. Joshua Dobbs exceeded expectations and was named the starter for Week 18, keeping Burks in play as an upside receiver. It's worth noting that he's listed as questionable, so you'll need to monitor his status.

Travis Etienne (RB, JAX)

Etienne was dominant against Houston as many running backs have been, averaging an impressive 12 yards per carry. The matchup isn't great but he's talented enough to overcome it, especially given that they're heavy favorites.

Injuries:

Treylon Burks (groin)

 

Matchups Analysis - 1:00 ET Games

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Atlanta Falcons

Spread: Falcons -4.0
Implied Total: Buccaneers (18.25) vs. Falcons (22.25)
Pace: Buccaneers (1st) vs. Falcons (26th)
Buccaneers Off. DVOA: 18.9% Pass (11th), -19.3% Rush (30th)
Falcons Off. DVOA: 7.4% Pass (18th), 6.5% Rush (5th)
Buccaneers Def. DVOA:
1.1% Pass (12th), -11.3% Rush (11th)
Falcons Def. DVOA: 21.4% Pass (30th), 1.0% Rush (25th)
What's on the line: Buccaneers - Nothing can change No. 4 seed, Falcons - Reps for Ridder/rookies
Player Participation: 
Buccaneers - Likely to rest or reduce playing time for veterans, Falcons - veterans may reduce playing time but rookies likely to play the full game

Matchups We Love:

Drake London (WR, ATL)

London's final numbers weren't quite as impressive against the Cardinals, but his target share of 30.7% was. Desmond Ridder is well aware of his talent and continues to hyper-target him. He's a strong option this week, despite the matchup because the Buccanneers are likely to be resting or reduce the playing time of their starters.

Rachaad White (RB, TB)

White and Leonard Fournette have been battling for volume in this backfield for several weeks now. It's clear that White's role has grown from earlier in the season, but it has been inconsistent from week to week. Last week was an even split in touches, with a slight edge in snaps to White. The team has nothing to gain this week, which favors the rookie seeing more playing time in a plus matchup, making him a solid play.

Matchups We Hate:

Buccaneers Passing Attack

We'll monitor the approach this team plans to take as we near Sunday, but it's hard to trust players like Tom Brady, Mike Evans, and Chris Godwin because they're older veterans, who would benefit from additional rest. Cade Otton, their rookie tight end, is someone who could emerge given the situation.

UPDATE: Julio Jones was ruled out, which has no bearing on the other options.

Other Matchups:

Tyler Allgeier (RB, ATL)

The other rookie on the roster that needs more reps is Allgeier, who has taken over the lead-back role and may represent the future of this franchise. He handled the majority of the carries and found the end zone against Arizona, which he'll likely do again this week, ceding work to Caleb Huntley instead and/or Cordarrelle Patterson. He's a safe volume-based back.

Injuries:

Julio Jones (knee/illness)

 

New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills

Spread: Bills -7.5
Implied Total: Patriots (18) vs. Bills (25.5)
Pace: Patriots (18th) vs. Bills (7th)
Patriots Off. DVOA: 0.1% Pass (24th), -9.4% Rush (25th)
Bills Off. DVOA: 34.9% Pass (2nd), 0.0% Rush (11th)
Patriots Def. DVOA:
-13.5% Pass (2nd), -13.9% Rush (8th)
Bills Def. DVOA: -5.9% Pass (9th), -20.1% Rush (3rd)
What's on the line: Patriots - Playoff spot, Bills - No. 1 seed
Player Participation: Patriots - Playing as usual, Bills - Playing as usual

Matchups We Love:

Stefon Diggs (WR, BUF)

The Bills will be carrying a lot of emotion into this game, which often fuels players with adrenaline. Diggs is one of those players that you would expect to produce a massive game with lots on the line. He's also extremely talented, making him a must-start. Additionally, you can always take a shot on Gabe Davis as a boom-bust receiver.

Josh Allen (QB, BUF)

The same can be said about Allen, who has been unstoppable the past few weeks. The Bills have won four out of their past five meetings against New England, plus his dual-threat ability makes him fantasy gold.

Matchups We Hate:

Patriots Players

On the road against their division rival, it will be a tough spot for the Patriots. Damien Harris returned last week and torpedoed the value of both he and Rhamondre Stevenson, neither of whom surpassed 55 total yards. Mac Jones is playing better, which led to impressive performances from Hunter Henry, Jakobi Meyers, and rookie Tyquan Thornton, all of which have an opportunity to succeed but are tough to trust. Meyers has been the clear-cut No. 1 receiver all season, so he would be the receiver to start, while Henry is a risky streamer.

UPDATE: Meyers is active while Jonnu Smith is out.

Other Matchups:

Dawson Knox (TE, BUF)

Knox has been on quite the tear himself, finding the end zone in each of his last three games, averaging about four receptions for 59 yards during that stretch, making him a top option at the position, even though the matchup is challenging.

Bills RBs

Devin Singletary and James Cook will also face a stout defense, but because Buffalo is likely to be winning, they remain in play. The Bills have also leaned more heavily on their rushing attack recently, averaging almost 33 rushing attempts per game in their previous four outings, including 37 against the Patriots when they met in Week 13. Cook is more explosive, making him the preferred option but both are worthy of a spot in your lineup.

Injuries:

None

 

Minnesota Vikings at Chicago Bears

Spread: Vikings -6.0
Implied Total: Vikings (24.5) vs. Bears (18.5)
Pace: Vikings (4th) vs. Bears (29th)
Vikings Off. DVOA: 8.7% Pass (17th), -15.3% Rush (28th)
Bears Off. DVOA: -13.2% Pass (30th), -1.2% Rush (13th)
Vikings Def. DVOA:
13.2% Pass (26th), -5.7% Rush (16th)
Bears Def. DVOA: 22.7% Pass (31st), 9.5% Rush (30th)
What's on the line: Vikings - Move to No. 2 seed with win + 49ers loss, Bears - No Playoff Implications
Player Participation: 
Vikings - Starters likely to play most of the game, Bears - Rest injured players/veterans

Matchups We Love:

Kirk Cousins (QB, MIN)

Although the odds of the 49ers losing are slim, the Vikings still have a shot to earn the No. 2 seed if that happens and they knock off the Bears, which should provide enough motivation for them to trot out their starters. Chicago's defense is bad, their offense has struggled to sustain drives, and now they'll be without Justin Fields, so firing up your Minnesota players is a good idea here. Cousins was abysmal last week, crushing the value of everyone around him, but it's an ideal spot for him to bounce back.

Justin Jefferson (WR, MIN)

After being shut down by Jaire Alexander last week, he'll face a secondary without anyone who poses that same threat. He's 194 receiving yards away from the NFL single-season record, which is asking a lot but not out of the question given what we've seen from him in 2022. Adam Thielen and K.J. Osborn continue to compete for the No. 2 role, although Osborn has been winning that job recently, making him the preferred choice.

T.J. Hockenson (TE, MIN)

Hockenson was one of the few bright spots last week, leading the team in targets and receptions. He's a great option this week.

Dalvin Cook (RB, MIN)

Cook is coming off back-to-back disappointing outings, but the Bears are terrible against the run even when with all their starters active in a meaningful game, so he'll have an excellent chance to rip off some big plays and find pay dirt. Additionally, Alexander Mattison is a flex option because the matchup is so fantastic and they should be winning by a lot.

Matchups We Hate:

Bears Passing Attack

Nathan Peterman is a definite downgrade for the offense, especially as a runner. There really wasn't anyone you could rely on outside of Cole Kmet, who now becomes a risky streamer at best.

Other Matchups:

Bears RBs

David Montgomery and Khalil Herbert will split the workload in a game they are likely to pass often, but lack receivers to throw to, making each of them an option. Montgomery is the better pass-catcher, making him the preferred back with Herbert as a flex option.

Injuries:

Justin Fields (hip)

 

Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals

Spread: Bengals -9.5
Implied Total: Ravens (15) vs. Bengals (24.5)
Pace: Ravens (28th) vs. Bengals (22nd)
Ravens Off. DVOA: 14.3.% Pass (14th), 10.4% Rush (2nd)
Bengals Off. DVOA:26.6% Pass (7th), 7.2% Rush (4th)
Ravens Def. DVOA:
-1.1% Pass (11th), -14.2% Rush (7th)
Bengals Def. DVOA: 1.6% Pass (15th), -9.0% Rush (14th)
What's on the line: Ravens - Division coin flip, Bengals - Division crown
Player Participation: 
Ravens - Resting starters, Bengals - Playing as usual

Matchups We Love:

Joe Burrow (QB, CIN)

This is a game the Bengals should dominate. They are the superior team in almost every facet, especially when it comes to their passing attack. The Ravens have allowed 16 or fewer points to each of their opponents in the past five games, but Jacksonville managed to put up 28 the week before that, which is the expectation here. The Vegas implied point total also backs that up. Burrow and his teammates will have every reason to take care of business and lock up the division crown. He's a must-start.

Bengals WRs

The trio of Ja'Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, and Tyler Boyd is arguably the best in the NFL. All three warrant a spot in your lineup this week with Boyd as the clear third option.

Joe Mixon (RB, CIN)

Mixon has resumed his workhorse role, especially as a pass-catcher. He was averaging six receptions per game over the previous two contests entering last week, plus 13.5 carries. His volume is elite, making him a strong option, in spite of the poor matchup.

Matchups We Hate:

Ravens WRs

The passing attack hasn't been great for quite a while now. It will continue to be led by Tyler Huntley, who has struggled, plus it features far too many average receivers with no clear No. 1. They're all best left on your bench.

UPDATE: Huntley is out, Anthony Brown will get the start.

Ravens RBs

The backfield is led by J.K. Dobbins, who had an impressive performance against the Steelers, whose defense is formidable. Unfortunately, there were comments after the game about getting more touches for Gus Edwards, which likely means the timeshare will return. The matchup isn't great either, which drops Dobbins to being a low-ceiling volume-based starter.

UPDATE: Dobbins has been ruled out, meaning more work for Edwards and Justice Hill, Edwards becomes a volume-based option, with a lower ceiling.

Other Matchups:

Hayden Hurst (TE, CIN)

Hurst is a bit harder to have full confidence in because the receiving corps and backfield eat up so many targets, but with fewer reliable options available, he's a definite streamer.

Mark Andrews (TE, BAL)

Andrews delivered in crunch time for everyone who was bold enough to start him, or simply didn't have a better option. Nonetheless, it was encouraging to see a throwback performance with nine catches for 100 yards. It's going be another challenging matchup, this time on the road, but his upside is worth chasing.

UPDATE: Andrews is inactive for Sunday, the Ravens are essentially throwing in the towel and playing for next week.

Injuries:

Lamar Jackson (knee)

DeSean Jackson (illness)

 

Houston Texans at Indianapolis Colts

Spread: Colts -2.5 
Implied Total: Texans (17) vs. Colts (20.5)
Pace: Texans (21st) vs. Colts (10th)
Texans Off. DVOA: -24.2% Pass (31st), -26.0% Rush (32nd)
Colts Off. DVOA: -32.5% Pass (32nd), -25.0% Rush (31st)
Texans Def. DVOA:
2.6% Pass (16th), 2.5% Rush (26th)
Colts Def. DVOA: 1.9% Pass (15th), -5.8% Rush (15th)
What's on the line: Texans - No playoff implications, No. 1 draft pick, Colts - No playoff implications, Interim coach
Player Participation: 
Texans - May rest veterans/starters, Colts - Likely to play veterans/starters

Matchups We Love:

None

Matchups We Hate:

Texans Players

The recipe for approaching this team has been to start Brandin Cooks and bench everyone else, which applies to this week, with the caveat that Cooks may play fewer snaps, adding risk to throwing him in your lineup.

Colts Passing Attack

Since Nick Foles took over, things have gone downhill fast. He's been ruled out, meaning Sam Ehlinger will get the start. Neither player has been able to consistently support their receiving corps, which features Michael Pittman Jr., who salvaged his day last week with a touchdown, making him the only player to consider, so long as we know he'll be active.

Other Matchups:

Colts RBs

It's been an awesome matchup for running backs all season, which favors Zack Moss, who will get the most carries. Deon Jackson and Jordan Wilkins will also factor in because he rarely catches passes, but Moss is the only player you can consider.

Injuries:

Nick Foles (ribs)

 

New York Jets at Miami Dolphins

Spread: Dolphins -3.0
Implied Total: Jets (17) vs. Dolphins (20)
Pace: Jets (5th) vs. Dolphins (19th)
Jets Off. DVOA: -0.8% Pass (25th), -6.8% Rush (21st)
Dolphins Off. DVOA: 34.5% Pass (3rd), -3.1% Rush (16th)
Jets Def. DVOA:
-7.0% Pass (6th), -13.6% Rush (9th)
Dolphins Def. DVOA: 12.6% Pass (25th), -14.5% Rush (6th)
What's on the line: Jets - QB development/clarification, Dolphins - Playoffs
Player Participation: 
Jets - May rest starters/veterans, Dolphins - Playing as usual

Matchups We Love:

Garrett Wilson (WR, NYJ)

The Jets had a great opportunity to compete for a win last week but forgot to show up. The offense was poor and the defense could not stop the run. Seattle had a clear plan, which they executed to perfection. That loss eliminated them from playoff contention, but they're in an interesting spot because they have rookies like Wilson, who would benefit from additional reps. As long as he's active, he deserves the chance to redeem himself after hauling in only three of his 11 targets against the Seahawks.

UPDATE: It will be Joe Flacco as the starting quarterback on Sunday. While he himself is a risky fantasy option, it doesn't remove Wilson from being a good option.

Tyler Conklin (TE, NYJ)

Conklin led the team in receptions and yards, producing a nice game. He's been rather streaky, but the matchup is good enough to push him into the range of starters for this week.

UPDATE: It will be Joe Flacco as the starting quarterback on Sunday. While he himself is a risky fantasy option, it doesn't remove Conklin from being a streamer.

Matchups We Hate:

Jets RBs

Ty Johnson led the team in carries and rushing yards, which came as quite a surprise after what we'd seen from Zonovan Knight. The two of them each had eight rushing attempts, and along with Michael Carter combined for 11 targets, but only caught five for 31 yards. With so many players involved, it's difficult to know who to rely on, especially given that the matchup is average to below average. Knight would still be the preferred option, but only if you cannot find someone else.

Other Matchups:

Raheem Mostert (RB, MIA)

As discussed above, the best strategy against the Jets is to attack them on the ground. However, that's not typically worked well for the Dolphins, mostly because their wide receiver duo is elite. Last week though, we saw a change at quarterback due to injury, prompting Skylar Thompson to take over, who hyper-targeted Mostert. It's hard to extrapolate too much from a one-week sample, but it does make Mostert the favorite and a potential starter this week.

Dolphins WRs

The elite receivers referenced are in fact Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle. Hill is quarterback-proof because of his role as the possession receiver that can also take it to the house on any play, while Waddle struggled a bit more, but remains playable. It may be Thompson throwing them the ball in another tough matchup, but with fewer receivers to choose from these two are still among the best.

UPDATE: Thompson will start as expected.

Injuries:

Tua Tagovailoa (concussion)

Teddy Bridgewater (knee/finger)

Mike White (ribs)

 

Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints

Spread: Saints -3.5
Implied Total: Panthers (19.75) vs. Saints (22.25)
Pace: Panthers (24th) vs. Saints (20th)
Panthers Off. DVOA: -3.8% Pass (26th), -1.3% Rush (14th)
Saints Off. DVOA: 5.0% Pass (21st), -8.7% Rush (23rd)
Panthers Def. DVOA:
15.6% Pass (27th), -4.6% Rush (18th)
Saints Def. DVOA: -6.5% Pass (7th), -3.9% Rush (19th)
What's on the line: Panthers - QB development/clarification, Saints - No playoff implications
Player Participation: 
Panthers - May rest veterans/starters, Saints - May rest veterans/starters

Matchups We Love:

Chris Olave (WR, NO)

It's a fantastic matchup for Olave, highlighted by the performance Mike Evans displayed last week. He's also a rookie, meaning there's a stronger chance he'll play a full game. He's a great option this week. Additionally, his teammate Rashid Shaheed has been extremely impressive with 75 or more yards in three of his past four games, and the third-highest yards per route during that stretch at 3.45. He's a good option as well.

Matchups We Hate:

Panthers RBs

Despite leading well into the fourth quarter, they only ran the ball 22 times. They've been airing it out more often, reducing the volume for D'Onta Foreman and Chuba Hubbard, neither of whom totaled more than 65 yards. Hubbard operates as the receiving back, so he's the one to go with if you need to but his ceiling is limited.

UPDATE: Foreman is active, but is not a strong option.

Other Matchups:

DJ Moore (WR, CAR)

Since Sam Darnold took over, Moore has had 73 yards and a score in four of five games, primarily because he's the only legitimate receiver. He's a strong option this week.

Taysom Hill (TE, NO)

Hill is getting a lot of work as a rusher with the occasional reception or pass sprinkled in. He's been effective, finding the end zone in back-to-back games, keeping him on the radar as a streamer.

UPDATE: Hill and Juwan Johnson are both active.

Alvin Kamara (RB, NO)

Kamara is losing carries to Hill, including at the goal line, while also seeing fewer targets. He should still see 12-16 touches, but without a role as a pass-catcher, he's likely to be mediocre unless he scores.

Injuries:

None

 

Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers

Spread: Steelers -2.5
Implied Total: Browns (19) vs. Steelers (21.5)
Pace: Browns (17th) vs. Steelers (16th)
Browns Off. DVOA: 17.4% Pass (12th), 4.9% Rush (7th)
Steelers Off. DVOA: 6.0% Pass (20th), 0.1% Rush (10th)
Browns Def. DVOA:
1.1% Pass (13th), 5.5% Rush (29th)
Steelers Def. DVOA: 5.7% Pass (19th), -16.4% Rush (4th)
What's on the line: Browns - QB development/chemistry, Steelers - Playoffs
Player Participation: 
Browns - Likely to play veterans/starters, Steelers - Playing as usual

Matchups We Love:

Najee Harris (RB, PIT)

Harris put the offense on his back and kept this team alive, accounting for 133 of their 251 total yards. He's got a great matchup in an important game, making him a must-start back.

Pat Freiermuth (TE, PIT)

Freiermuth led the team in receptions and yards with one fewer target than Diontae Johnson. He's locked in against the Browns.

Matchups We Hate:

Both QBs

Although I expect both starting quarterbacks to play as usual, neither is a particularly appealing option. Kenny Pickett will take a backseat to their rushing attack, while Deshaun Watson was fortunate to end with the numbers he did, given that much of his production came from a terrible play by the defense failing to tackle Amari Cooper. He also only completed nine passes, three of which resulted in touchdowns. That said, if you're desperate this week, he does have enough rushing upside to offer a baseline.

Other Matchups:

Nick Chubb (RB, CLE)

Chubb managed to rack up over 100 yards in a tough matchup again because they were leading. If the game script remains close, he has a shot at a great day, which is likely the way it will play out given that the Steelers are averaging only 17.2 points per game over their past five contests. He's a decent option this week.

Steelers WRs

The Steelers can and will win this game on the ground, eliminating the need for the receivers to contribute. Johnson and George Pickens are options because they'll be active and play a full game, but both have a lower ceiling.

Amari Cooper (WR, CLE)

Cooper caught three passes, two of which he found pay dirt on. The matchup is not as good as it was earlier in the season, but he's worth throwing out there for his big-play potential, especially if you're short on options.

David Njoku (TE, CLE)

As mentioned above, Watson only completed nine passes, eliminating any chance of Njoku succeeding. The volatility and struggles of their passing attack make him difficult to trust, dropping him into the streaming category.

Injuries:

None

 

Matchup Analysis - 4:00 ET Games

New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles

Spread: Eagles -14.0
Implied Total: Giants (14.5) vs. Eagles (28.5)
Pace: Giants (15th) vs. Eagles (12th)
Giants Off. DVOA: 19.8% Pass (10th), 3.4% Rush (8th)
Eagles Off. DVOA: 27.5% Pass (6th), 14.3% Rush (1st)
Giants Def. DVOA:
11.6% Pass (23rd), 11.0% Rush (32nd)
Eagles Def. DVOA: -15.3% Pass (1st), -3.3% Rush (20th)
What's on the line: Giants - Nothing can change No. 6 seed, Eagles - No. 1 seed
Player Participation: 
Giants - likely to rest starters, Eagles - Playing until the game is out of reach

Matchups We Love:

Eagles RBs

This one is pretty simple. The Giants have no reason to risk any of their starters while the Eagles need to win to clinch the No. 1 seed. It's going to be an absolute beatdown, which is great news for the backfield because they'll be running out the clock in an already great matchup. Miles Sanders and Kenneth Gainwell are both in play, with Boston Scott as a desperation option that could work out as well.

Eagles WRs

The hope will be that on their way to that massive lead, they utilize the passing attack. A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith represent players that can make your week with one big play, keeping them both in your lineup.

Dallas Goedert (TE, PHI)

Similarly, Goedert will offer a mix of security and upside at the tight end position in a week that few others can.

Jalen Hurts (QB, PHI)

Hurts was close to making his return last week, but could not suit up. The Eagles lost, making this game necessary to earn the No. 1 seed. He's practiced all week, indicating there's a high chance of him playing. He's right back in your lineup if he's active.

UPDATE: Hurts will get the start on Sunday, making his return after missing the past two games. He's an elite option that can win you a week in one half, making him in your lineup in most cases.

Matchups We Hate:

Giants Players

The matchup for the passing attack is very negative, and Saquon Barkley is far too important to risk his health in a meaningless game, so despite any intrigue that they may offer, it's best to look elsewhere if at all possible.

UPDATE: Daniel Jones and Barkley have been ruled out, leaving Davis Webb as the starter.

Other Matchups:

None

Injuries:

Jalen Hurts (shoulder)

 

Dallas Cowboys at Washington Commanders

Spread: Cowboys -7.0
Implied Total: Cowboys (23.5) vs. Commanders (16.5)
Pace: Cowboys (6th) vs. Commanders (25th)
Cowboys Off. DVOA: 15.8% Pass (13th), 3.1
% Rush (9th)
Commanders Off. DVOA: -3.9% Pass (27th), -15.5% Rush (29th)
Cowboys Def. DVOA:
-12.6% Pass (3rd), -15.7% Rush (5th)
Commanders Def. DVOA: 5.1% Pass (17th), -11.9% Rush (10th)
What's on the line: Cowboys - No. 1 seed, Commanders - QB development
Player Participation: 
Cowboys - Playing as usual, Commanders - May rest veterans

Matchups We Love:

Cowboys RBs

The Cowboys are well aware that the Giants are resting their starters, meaning the Eagles should win but they do play at the same time. Thus, they'll likely keep their starters in long enough to get a win just in case something strange happens, which is always a possibility. Much like Philadelphia, this bodes well for the backfield. Tony Pollard missed their contest against the Titans but has practiced all week, indicating he'll likely be back. He and Ezekiel Elliott are both good options in a game they should win and run the ball a lot.

UPDATE: Pollard will be active as expected.

CeeDee Lamb (WR, DAL)

Again you want to start players the caliber of Lamb because they'll likely contribute to the points the team puts up along the way.

Dalton Schultz (TE, DAL)

Anytime a tight end can produce a multi-touchdown game, they earn your attention. Schultz has actually done it twice this season and continues to be an integral part of the offense, locking him into your lineup.

Matchups We Hate:

Commanders Players

The team has named Sam Howell their starter, which is problematic for their receiving corps and potentially the offense as a whole. They'll want to get some reps for him, Jahan Dotson, and Brian Robinson Jr., but Dallas has a fierce defense that can make life difficult for a rookie quarterback in his NFL debut. Robinson and Dotson would be two options to consider if you need to, but they're risky.

UPDATE: Robinson Jr. has been ruled out, providing Jonathan Williams with the opportunity to be the lead back. He'll have enough volume you can look his way as a flex option, but much like the rest of the offense, it's going to be a tough outing.

Other Matchups:

Dak Prescott (QB, DAL)

Prescott struggled against the Titans, who played many of their backups. It's been a bumpy ride at times, which raises questions about the amount of time they'll keep him in the game and the number of passing attempts he'll have. He's not someone you need to bench, but there are other streaming signal-callers who are worth considering over him.

Injuries:

Antonio Gibson (foot, knee)

Brian Robinson Jr. (knee)

 

Los Angeles Chargers at Denver Broncos

Spread: Broncos -3.0
Implied Total: Chargers (18.5) vs. Broncos (21.5)
Pace: Chargers (2nd) vs. Broncos (9th)
Chargers Off. DVOA: 4.8% Pass (22nd), -3.2% Rush (20th)
Broncos Off. DVOA: -7.7% Pass (28th), -13.0% Rush (26th)
Chargers Def. DVOA:
-6.2% Pass (8th), 4.5% Rush (28th)
Broncos Def. DVOA: -10.8% Pass (4th), -1.7% Rush (22nd)
What's on the line: Chargers - No. 5 seed (will clinch if Bengals win), Broncos - QB development/new coach
Player Participation: 
Chargers - Playing as usual unless Bengals win, Broncos - May rest veterans/starters

Matchups We Love:

Austin Ekeler (RB, LAC)

This situation will remain fluid right up until the Bengals-Ravens game ends. If Cincinnati wins, then the Chargers automatically clinch the No. 5 seed without playing the game because they have the tiebreaker. The Vegas line suggests the expectation is that the Bengals will win, causing Los Angeles to rest players, explaining why the Broncos are favored to win. If active, Ekeler is a must-start, if he's out then Joshua Kelley becomes the lead back, and someone you can throw in. The rookie Larry Rountree III would also get an opportunity, but he's much risker.

Matchups We Hate:

None

Other Matchups:

Justin Herbert (QB, LAC)

Herbert managed a better game tossing two touchdowns, but it was far from elite, finishing with only 212 passing yards. The matchup is tough and he hasn't proven he's a must-start, so he's a lower-tier starter.

Gerald Everett (TE, LAC)

The Broncos' secondary is elite, led by Patrick Surtain II. However, they haven't been near as deadly against tight ends. Everett will compete for volume, but always has a chance to find the end zone, keeping him in play as a streamer.

Chargers WRs

It was a Mike Williams week against the Rams, he led the team in targets, receptions, and yards. While Keenan Allen still finished with five catches for 60 yards. These two will face that secondary referenced above, but they have the talent to overcome it as long as there's something to play for.

Broncos RBs

It's a good matchup but the backfield is more convoluted now that Chase Edmonds splitting work with Latavius Murray. Murray led the way with 16 touches for 76 yards, confirming he is still the lead back, but without finding pay dirt, the upside just isn't there. If the Chargers are sitting their starters, then he would garner more interest and be more reliable.

Albert Okwuegbunam (TE, DEN)

Denver lost Greg Dulcich for the season while Eric Saubert and Eric Tomlinson are dealing with injuries. It provides an opportunity for Okwuegbunam to re-emerge, which he did last week when he found pay dirt. There was also a comment from the interim head coach about his usage, meaning he'll likely be as involved if not more against the Chargers. He's a streamer.

Jerry Jeudy (WR, DEN)

Even with Courtland Sutton back, Jeudy led the team in targets and receptions. His final numbers weren't spectacular but seven catches is promising. He'd be the preferred option as a volume-based safe receiver with a lower ceiling. Sutton would be a riskier flex receiver.

Injuries:

Marlon Mack (hamstring)

Greg Dulcich (hamstring)

 

Los Angeles Rams at Seattle Seahawks

Spread: Seahawks -6.0
Implied Total: Rams (17.75) vs. Seahawks (23.75)
Pace: Rams (27th) vs. Seahawks (14th)
Rams Off. DVOA: 0.5% Pass (23rd), -7.8% Rush (22nd)
Seahawks Off. DVOA: 24.6% Pass (9th), -9.2% Rush (24th)
Rams Def. DVOA:
12.0% Pass (24th), -10.4% Rush (13th)
Seahawks Def. DVOA: 5.2% Pass (18th), 1.0% Rush (24th)
What's on the line: Rams - No playoff implications, Seahawks - Playoff spot
Player Participation: 
Rams - May rest starters/veterans, Seahawks - Playing as usual

Matchups We Love:

Kenneth Walker III (RB, SEA)

Walker III and DeeJay Dallas put a beatdown on the Jets last week. They combined for 30 of the 38 rushing attempts and four of the 18 receptions, totaling over 200 scrimmage yards. With a playoff spot up for grabs, the Seahawks will play everyone, making Walker a must-start and Dallas an intriguing flex option, particularly in full-PPR formats.

UPDATE: Travis Homer is inactive while Walker and Dallas are good to go.

Geno Smith (QB, SEA)

Smith was efficient in limited work, mostly getting the ball out quickly to his tight ends and running backs. The matchup is much better, plus his receivers will be another week healthier, making him a good option.

Seahawks WRs 

DK Metcalf was outmatched by Sauce Gardiner and his teammates last week but gets to play against his pal Jalen Ramsey this week. Tyler Lockett only played on 32% of the offensive snaps, indicating the team wanted to be cautious with him. He is on the injury report with a shin issue, but you would expect they'll be more apt to unleash him against the Rams in the final game of the season, making them great receivers to start with Metcalf as the favorite.

UPDATE: Lockett is good to go.

Matchups We Hate:

Rams Passing Attack

The Rams mostly checked out weeks ago, leaving Baker Mayfield to audition for a starting job. There have been some bright spots, but on the road against a well-coached defense, it's best to avoid anyone from the passing attack.

Other Matchups:

Cam Akers (RB, LAR)

Akers is the exception here, mainly because he's been fantastic and has lots to prove in terms of his health and ability to manage a full workload. He's a volume-based back, who has shown a nice ceiling.

Injuries:

Travis Homer (ankle)

Tyler Lockett (shin)

DeeJay Dallas (ankle)

Kenneth Walker III (ankle/illness)

 

Arizona Cardinals at San Francisco 49ers

Spread: 49ers -14.0
Implied Total: Cardinals (12.75) vs. 49ers (26.75)
Pace: Cardinals (3rd) vs. 49ers (31st)
Cardinals Off. DVOA: -10.1% Pass (29th), -13.0% Rush (27th)
49ers Off. DVOA: 32.9% Pass (4th), -0.6% Rush (12th)
Cardinals Def. DVOA:
7.3% Pass (20th), 0.7% Rush (23rd)
49ers Def. DVOA: -7.5% Pass (5th), -24.2% Rush (1st)
What's on the line: Cardinals - No playoff implications, 49ers - No. 1 seed
Player Participation:
Cardinals - Likely to rest veterans, 49ers - playing until the game is out of reach

Matchups We Love:

49ers RBs

Christian McCaffrey handled 25 touches for nearly 200 scrimmage yards in a game they needed overtime to win. It's hard to imagine the game script going the same way this week, leaving questions about how many snaps he'll play. He's still worth a start as long as he's active because he could find pay dirt on the first drive, but it does present an opportunity for the backup, which is a bit complicated. Elijah Mitchell's 21-day practice window is open, meaning he may or may not play. If he's inactive, then it's either Jordan Mason or Tyrion Davis-Price. They've both been active for the past two games, where Davis-Price has out-carried Mason 10-two and out-snapped him 18-five, suggesting he's the next man up. That said, unless McCaffrey is out, neither is reliable because of the timeshare.

UPDATE: McCaffrey is off the injury report, confirming he'll be active. Meanwhile, Mitchell was activated and will suit up as well. He's a risky flex option because it's his first game back, but there will be plenty of carries available.

Brock Purdy (QB, SF)

Purdy threw for a career-high 284 yards against Las Vegas, adding two touchdowns as he consistently does. He'll likely play most of the game because he needs the reps, keeping him in play as a solid option.

George Kittle (TE, SF)

Kittle, much like the other elite tight ends, has too large of a ceiling to bench in a game that matters.

Matchups We Hate:

Cardinals Passing Attack

David Blough started last week and will get the nod this week as well. It meant an okay game for Marquise Brown, who filled in for DeAndre Hopkins, but the biggest beneficiary was rookie tight end Trey McBride, who had his best game with seven receptions for 78 yards and a touchdown. McBride is the only player from their passing attack worth chasing in this matchup because he's a rookie and will get a lot of playing time.

Other Matchups:

49ers WRs

Deebo Samuel appears to be ready to make his return. However, what remains unclear is how much usage he and Brandon Aiyuk will see in a game they should win easily. Aiyuk would be the preferred option with Samuel left on the bench.

UPDATE: Samuel is off the injury report, confirming he'll be active.

James Conner (RB, ARI)

Conner has been incredible. The rotation of quarterbacks, lack of personnel, and opponent have been no match for his workload and talent. He exited early against the Falcons with an injury but tallied over 100 scrimmage yards before leaving. If he's active, he's a solid option even against a stout defense like San Francisco because of his role.

UPDATE: Conner was ruled out, removing one of the few quality players from their lineup. Corey Clement took over for him last week after he exited with an injury, so he's likely to get the most work, but it's not a great situation.

Injuries:

DeAndre Hopkins (knee)

James Conner (knee/shin)

Christian McCaffrey (ankle, knee)

 

Matchup Analysis - Sunday Night Football

Detroit Lions at Green Bay Packers

Spread: Packers -5.0
Implied Total: Lions (22) vs. Packers (27)
Pace: Lions (8th) vs. Packers (30th)
Lions Off. DVOA: 29.1% Pass (5th), -1.5% Rush (15th)
Packers Off. DVOA: 11.8% Pass (15th), 7.9% Rush (3rd)
Lions Def. DVOA:
10.8% Pass (22nd), 3.7% Rush (27th)
Packers Def. DVOA: -5.1% Pass (10th), 10.2% Rush (31st)
What's on the line: Lions - Playoffs (Seahawks loss), Packers - Playoffs
Player Participation: 
Lions - Playing as usual, Packers - Playing as usual

Matchups We Love:

Packers RBs

The Packers pounded the Vikings with elite play from their defense and an effective rushing attack. You can expect them to employ that approach again this week, despite the matchup. Aaron Jones led the way with 14 carries for 111 yards, showcasing his explosiveness, while AJ Dillon found the end zone on one of his 12 rushing attempts. Both players are also utilized as receivers, keeping each of them in play this week.

Packers WRs

Christian Watson suited up but he only played 60% of the offensive snaps because the game was out of hand early. The Lions will put forth a better effort against their division rivals, meaning Watson should be a lot more involved in a great matchup. He's a great option. After him, the preferred receiver would be Allen Lazard, who led the team in receptions and receiving yards against Minnesota.

UPDATE: Watson is off the injury report, confirming he'll be active.

Lions RBs

Green Bay has improved against the run, but this backfield duo is more than capable of exploiting the matchup. D'Andre Swift showcased his versatility, scoring as both a receiver and rusher, while Jamaal Williams crushed Chicago with 144 yards on 22 carries. They're both good options this week.

Matchups We Hate:

Jared Goff (QB, DET)

Goff delivered in a great spot at home facing a depleted Bears squad. Unfortunately, that is not the case this week when the team travels to Lambeau with the season on the line. He's not completely off the radar because of his weapons and the potency of the offense, but he's a definite fade.

Other Matchups:

Aaron Rodgers (QB, GB)

At home with the playoffs on the line is a perfect spot for Rodgers to shine. They'll lean on their rushing attack but don't be surprised to see Rodgers toss a couple of touchdowns and make his mark as well. He moves up the ranks this week given the matchup and reduced options.

Lions WRs

Although Goff produced good numbers, it was more of a sum of the parts situation, leaving each individual receiver to finish with a modest outing. Amon-Ra St. Brown still led the way with four receptions for 62 yards, but four different players had four or more targets yet no one had more than five. He's the most reliable receiver from this group with DJ Chark next up as an upside play in a tough spot.

Injuries:

Christian Watson (hip)

 



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Blake Corum - Fantasy Football Rankings, College FB, RB, NFL Draft Sleepers

2024 Fantasy Football Dynasty Rookie Rankings For Superflex Leagues: 30-21

Now that we’re coming off our rookie fever, it’s time to see where the newest NFL players stack up against the veterans. That’s right, we’re talking rookies and dynasty rankings. My name is Ellis Johnson and this is my sixth year writing NFL content with RotoBaller. I also contribute to FantasyPros Expert Consensus Rankings and... Read More


Jermaine Burton - Fantasy Football Rankings, College FB, WR, NFL Draft Sleepers

Fantasy Football Rookie Spotlight: Jermaine Burton

With the 80th overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, the Cincinnati Bengals selected Alabama wide receiver Jermaine Burton. The surplus of receivers drafted early created a demand for the position, and the Bengals got their guy in Round 3. Burton was the 13th wide receiver taken off the board -- drafted ahead of guys... Read More


Who Is Our Favorite RB Sleeper? 2024 Fantasy Football Running Back Rankings Analysis

We working fantasy football angles around the clock at RotoBaller! As early best ball drafts are already getting underway, we're putting together our first-look rankings for 2024 fantasy football. RotoBaller's David Rispoli dives into our new Running Back rankings for 2024. Our RB1 isn't a huge surprise, but there are some sleepers as we work... Read More


Rhamondre Stevenson - Fantasy Football Rankings, Draft Sleepers, NFL Injury News

Fantasy Football Running Back Winners From the 2024 NFL Offseason

The NFL Draft and free agency are officially complete. With these big transactional periods in the rearview window, fantasy managers can now officially look back and see who has been the biggest winner of the offseason. For this series, I’ll review each fantasy-relevant positional group and identify the biggest winners and why they’re winners. The... Read More


Malik Nabers - Fantasy Football Rankings, Rookie, College FB, WR, NFL Draft Sleepers

Fantasy Football Rookie Spotlight: Jamari Thrash

Draft capital matters for fantasy football players, but more so early in drafts with a 0.576 correlation for top-10 picks and fantasy points per game for wide receivers over the past five seasons. For context, the correlation plummets to 0.004 for picks 11-32, with a slightly better correlation (0.131) to PPR/G for Rounds 5-7 at... Read More


Kyler Murray - Fantasy Football Rankings, Draft Sleepers, NFL Injury News

Fantasy Football Bounce-Back Candidates You Must Have in 2024 - Fantasy Football Sleepers

The term "sleeper" gets thrown around a lot these days in fantasy circles. Aside from being a popular fantasy gaming app, a sleeper in fantasy football is a player currently undervalued at their draft price -- particularly with the expectation they will vastly outplay their ADP. While these targets are typically a late-round choice, sleepers... Read More