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

C.J. Stroud - Fantasy Football Rankings, Draft Sleepers, Waiver Wire Pickups

Welcome back, RotoBallers, to our Week 18 matchups analysis and Start Em, Sit Em column for fantasy football. Week 17 was jam-packed with quarterback benchings, quarterback injuries, unsung heroes, studs going off, studs letting you down, and plenty of important football. It was headlined by players like Lamar Jackson, CeeDee Lamb, Davante Adams, Jordan Love, DJ Moore, and Kyren Williams. The NFL regular-season schedule wraps up with two games on Saturday and the rest on Sunday, so keep an eye out for those. Week 18 is a little different because there are several teams who cannot change their playoff position and many more who are eliminated from contention. We'll focus on the teams with something left to play for and who aren't planning to rest their starters. I've included a note about what's on the line at the top of each matchup.

For anyone new to the column, each week we'll be analyzing every game from the Saturday and Sunday slate, helping you optimize your fantasy lineups and take down your opponent. Check back regularly for any updates on player injuries or other pertinent information. Additionally, you'll notice some players are obvious starts included in the "matchups we love" section in the interest of making sure everyone is covered. Furthermore, there will be times when one wide receiver or running back is listed individually but their teammates are included in the write-up. I also want to express my gratitude for some of the great resources that help me write this article each week such as RotoBaller's player pages, Pro Football Focus, Rotovitz, FTN Fantasy, Fantasy Life, Pro Football Reference, NFL Next Gen Stats, DraftKings Sportsbook, and Fantasy Points, along with all of you for reading this article.

Hopefully, you already took home a title. Regardless of what you're playing for or what has you interested, we're glad you're still along for the ride with us. If you have any additional lineup questions, follow me on Twitter/X @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

Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens

Spread: Steelers -3.5
Implied Total: Steelers (19) vs. Ravens (15.5)
Pace: Steelers (20th) vs. Ravens (25th)
Steelers Off. DVOA: 9.1% Pass (19th), -3.2% Rush (12th)
Ravens Off. DVOA: 33.3% Pass (4th), 21.1% Rush (1st)
Steelers Def. DVOA:
-2.0% Pass (7th), -10.6% Rush (13th)
Ravens Def. DVOA: -29.3% Pass (1st), -15.0% Rush (7th)

WEATHER: This game is expected to have some combination of rain or snow with moderate sustained wind, which is likely to impact the passing attack.

What's on the line: Steelers -- fighting for a playoff spot, Ravens -- already clinched the No. 1 seed

Matchups We Love:

Isaiah Likely (TE, BAL)

Likely had a multi-touchdown day and has been a focal point of the offense since Mark Andrews went down. It's a great matchup, so he's in your lineup, even with Tyler Huntley at the helm.

Matchups We Hate:

None

Other Matchups:

Ravens RBs

The duo of Gus Edwards and Justice Hill wore down the Dolphins en route to an easy win in Week 17. They both scored and Hill went over 100 total yards. Even Melvin Gordon III got in on the action late. Edwards and Hill would both be potential starters so long as we don't get word they're sitting. In that case, Gordon would move into the starting role.

Zay Flowers (WR, BAL)

Flowers overcame his injury and suited up last week. He got wide open for an easy pass that he took the house. He's got plenty of appeal if he's out there, but he's listed as doubtful, so with Odell Beckham Jr. also inactive, Rashod Bateman becomes the receiver to target.

Tyler Huntley (QB, BAL)

We've seen flashes of brilliance and incompetence from Huntley, who somehow wound up a Pro Bowler last year. It's a mediocre matchup in a game that won't affect their playoff seeding, so it's best to temper expectations, but he has enough weapons to be streamable.

Steelers Passing Attack

Since Mason Rudolph took over, the passing attack has looked much better. All the touchdowns went to the backfield last week, but George Pickens, Diontae Johnson, and Pat Freiermuth all contributed. The matchup is a lot tougher so taking your chances with Pickens is still okay, but Johnson is a little riskier along with Freiermuth.

Steelers RBs

As we mentioned above, Jaylen Warren and Najee Harris took turns taking trips to the end zone. They destroyed Seattle with over 200 total yards and three touchdowns. It's going to be a taller task this week, but these two are the identity of the offense. Pittsburgh should stay competitive enough to keep their run game in play, making both startable options.

Injuries:

Zay Flowers (calf)
Lamar Jackson (rest)
Odell Beckham Jr. (rest)

 

Houston Texans at Indianapolis Colts

Spread: Texans -1.5
Implied Total: Texans (24.5) vs. Colts (23)
Pace: Texans (3rd) vs. Colts (4th)
Texans Off. DVOA: 22.8% Pass (12th), -18.2% Rush (30th)
Colts Off. DVOA: 11.3% Pass (17th), 1.2% Rush (9th)
Texans Def. DVOA:
12.9% Pass (23rd), -18.7% Rush (2nd)
Colts Def. DVOA: 6.0% Pass (14th), -2.9% Rush (24th)

What's on the line: Winner could clinch the division or a playoff spot

Matchups We Love:

C.J. Stroud (QB, HOU)

Stroud made his long-awaited return against the Titans. It was no contest as they led 20-3 at halftime, thus he didn't need to do much. They inevitably turned it over to the backfield to ice the game. Stroud should need to do more this week and he gets another plus matchup.

Nico Collins (WR, HOU)

Collins was on his way to a big day, but they shut things down in the second half, so he finished with seven catches for 80 yards. He's a great wideout this week with Robert Woods, who is questionable to play, as a secondary option given that Noah Brown is out.

UPDATE: Woods has also been ruled out, leaving Collins, John Metchie III, and Xavier Hutchinson.

Dalton Schultz (TE, HOU)

Schultz busted last week, but they didn't need him and the passing touchdown went to his teammate, tight end Brevin Jordan. He's back in the mix here with the offense short on pass-catchers.

Devin Singletary (RB, HOU)

Singletary tore up the Tennessee defense until the game was out of hand, enabling Dameon Pierce to join the party. The matchup is good, so Singletary is a great option against Indy.

Michael Pittman Jr. (WR, IND)

The Raiders defense did enough to slow down a Colts squad that routinely scores 30 or more at home. It was also a lopsided affair for most of the day. Pittman still earned the most targets (seven) and led the way in receiving. He's the only passing weapon to trust in an offense built around their tailbacks.

Matchups We Hate:

None

Other Matchups:

Jonathan Taylor (RB, IND)

Taylor beat Las Vegas on the ground, which is the easier way to attack their defense. The same cannot be said for Houston, who has shut down Derrick Henry twice in three weeks. Taylor's too good to bench, but the matchup is tougher. Zack Moss missed last week, but practiced in full on Wednesday and Thursday, so he might be back given his questionable tag. We'll find out more on Friday.

Gardner Minshew (QB, IND)

There should be enough signal-callers to choose from that you don't have to rely on Minshew, but if you need to, he's an okay streamer with a lower ceiling.

Injuries:

Zack Moss (forearm)
Noah Brown (back)
Robert Woods (hip)

 

Matchups Analysis - 1:00 ET Games

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Carolina Panthers

Spread: Buccaneers -4.5
Implied Total: Buccaneers (20.75) vs. Panthers (16.25)
Pace: Buccaneers (17th) vs. Panthers (12th)
Buccaneers Off. DVOA: 18.6% Pass (15th), -17.6% Rush (29th)
Panthers Off. DVOA: -25.3% Pass (32nd), -15.4% Rush (25th)
Buccaneers Def. DVOA:
6.7% Pass (15th), -13.1% Rush (11th)
Panthers Def. DVOA: 10.6% Pass (20th), 6.0% Rush (32nd)

What's on the line: Buccaneers -- can clinch the division with a win, Panthers -- eliminated and stuck in last place

Matchups We Love:

Rachaad White (RB, TB)

It was a bit of a letdown in Week 17 for White, who has been incredibly consistent. Fortunately, he gets the chance to bounce back against the lowly Panthers, who after putting up a fight two weeks ago, were trounced last week by Jacksonville.

Buccaneers WRs

Mike Evans continues to struggle against New Orleans despite his nemesis Marshon Lattimore sitting out their matchup. The yard total was okay, but only three catches and failing to find paydirt hurts. Instead, it was Trey Palmer and Chris Godwin who hauled one in. Godwin and Evans both deserve to be started.

Matchups We Hate:

None

Other Matchups:

Baker Mayfield (QB, TB)

Mayfield had an ugly performance at a critical time. Tampa Bay went scoreless for three quarters before rallying late to save his fantasy day. Luckily, they'll still earn the division crown with a win this week, so expect him to play a lot better.

UPDATE: Mayfield is good to go as expected.

Chuba Hubbard (RB, CAR)

Hubbard did pretty well considering his team failed to score a point. We hadn't seen him take on much of a receiving role for several weeks, but he stepped up in a negative game script, catching four passes for 26 yards. It was tough on the ground and will be again when the Buccaneers come to town, so hopefully those check-downs continue.

Panthers Passing Attack

The renewed optimism for the offense was short-lived. They've officially clinched last place, securing the No. 1 overall pick for Chicago. Furthermore, Bryce Young was outplayed by C.J. Beathard and their owner appeared to throw his drink at a Jaguars fan. Things are crumbling in Carolina. Adam Thielen remains the sole player to lean on, although D.J. Chark can hit a spike week in DFS.

Injuries:

None

 

Cleveland Browns at Cincinnati Bengals

Spread: Bengals -7.0
Implied Total: Browns (15.25) vs. Bengals (22.25)
Pace: Browns (9th) vs. Bengals (31st)
Browns Off. DVOA: -1.2% Pass (26th), -9.8% Rush (21st)
Bengals Off. DVOA: 20.3% Pass (14th), -11.0% Rush (22nd)
Browns Def. DVOA:
-25.6% Pass (2nd), -17.6% Rush (5th)
Bengals Def. DVOA: 10.8% Pass (21st), 3.5% Rush (28th)

WEATHER: This game has a chance of showers with moderate sustained wind, which could impact the passing attack.

What's on the line: Browns -- clinched the No. 5 seed and cannot move up or down, Bengals -- eliminated from playoffs

Matchups We Love:

Browns RBs

Jerome Ford destroyed the Jets in Week 17 with Kareem Hunt chipping in. The matchup is fantastic, so whoever is out there will be a great start. Pierre Strong Jr. would be next on the depth chart if one or both of those two are inactive.

Matchups We Hate:

Jake Browning (QB, CIN)

Things started quite well for the Bengals, but they were completely shut out in the second half, resulting in a loss to the Chiefs. It ended their playoff hopes, which were already slim without Joe Burrow. Even if a few key players are missing for Cleveland, Browning is risky with the injuries in the offense.

Other Matchups:

Joe Mixon (RB, CIN)

They made a concerted effort to pound the rock with 21 carries for Mixon and 32 as a team. Mixon also scored through the air where he hauled in four passes. He's still a good option because of his volume.

Bengals WRs

Ja'Marr Chase pushed to play, knowing it was a must-win scenario. He also talked a lot of trash about the Kansas City secondary, who held him to three grabs for 41 yards on seven targets. His partner in crime, Tee Higgins, added to his lore of destroying the souls of fantasy managers, this time by getting injured early in the game. He finished with only one reception. Chase gets the nod as the preferred receiver with Higgins, who has yet to practice this week, difficult to trust.

UPDATE: Higgins has been ruled out, making Tyler Boyd the second receiver.

Browns Passing Attack

Joe Flacco deserves the week off, although you could argue he spent the second half of last week resting, too. At one point, he looked like he was falling asleep. Jeff Driskel will take over as their starter with backups at his disposal. It seems like Amari Cooper and Elijah Moore will be out along with possibly David Njoku. You could look to Cedric Tillman as a deeper option if they're all inactive as well as Harrison Bryant at tight end.

UPDATE: Cooper and Marquise Goodwin have been ruled out while Moore cleared concussion protocol and will play.

Injuries:

Amari Cooper (rest/heel)
Joe Flacco (calf)
Tee Higgins (hamstring)

 

Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions

Spread: Lions -3.5
Implied Total: Vikings (21) vs. Lions (24.5)
Pace: Vikings (7th) vs. Lions (18th)
Vikings Off. DVOA: 7.1% Pass (21st), -17.5% Rush (27th)
Lions Off. DVOA: 24.7% Pass (9th), 8.7% Rush (4th)
Vikings Def. DVOA:
-0.5% Pass (10th), -11.7% Rush (12th)
Lions Def. DVOA: 7.4% Pass (16th), -18.1% Rush (3rd)

What's on the line: Vikings -- fighting for a playoff spot, Lions -- can still clinch the No. 2 seed with a win plus a Dallas and Philadelphia loss

Matchups We Love:

Lions RBs

After a very controversial ending in Dallas on Saturday, Dan Campbell's crew will be ready to roll. Everything in his DNA says this is a coach who wants his team to play to the end and win. He also described his state this week as "controlled fury." It's full speed ahead for this offense, including the backfield. After posting a huge week two weeks ago, Jahmyr Gibbs was the one left out last week while David Montgomery found the end zone. The split in terms of workload was identical with 15 touches each. Minnesota's defense was trending upward, but after getting hammered by the Packers, is not looking so scary.

Amon-Ra St. Brown (WR, DET)

St. Brown did what he does, so he's in. Jameson Williams is also worth taking a shot at.

UPDATE: Williams has been ruled out, so Josh Reynolds and Kalif Raymond would be the pivots.

Sam LaPorta (TE, DET)

LaPorta led the team in targets (12) and receptions (seven). He's a must-start.

Jared Goff (QB, DET)

Goff flopped on the road with two interceptions, the second of which came late. He was stymied for most of the game before the final drive. Thankfully, he's back at home, which we know is where he thrives.

Justin Jefferson (WR, MIN)

The Jaren Hall experiment was a failure. We tried to stay positive entering last week, but deep down everyone knew Nick Mullens was the better choice for fantasy, and as it turns out, for the Vikings, too. While it's too little too late for the playoffs, they've named Mullens the starter this week, making Jefferson and Jordan Addison, as well as K.J. Osborn to a lesser extent, all startable options.

Matchups We Hate:

Ty Chandler (RB, MIN)

The offense barely cracked 200 yards against a Green Bay defense that was roasted by the Panthers two weeks ago. It was an embarrassing performance, especially given what was at stake. They're still fighting to punch their ticket, but it doesn't look good. Chandler is not off the radar because he's a talented receiver, but don't expect much production on the ground against the Lions. The good news is he had eight more touches than Alexander Mattison.

Other Matchups:

None

Injuries:

Jameson Williams (ankle/illness)

 

New York Jets at New England Patriots

Spread: Patriots -2.5
Implied Total: Jets (14) vs. Patriots (16.5)
Pace: Jets (6th) vs. Patriots (11th)
Jets Off. DVOA: -22.9% Pass (31st), -22.1% Rush (32nd)
Patriots Off. DVOA: -10.3% Pass (29th), -11.3% Rush (23rd)
Jets Def. DVOA:
-12.7% Pass (3rd), -10.4% Rush (14th)
Patriots Def. DVOA: 6.0% Pass (13th), -18.9% Rush (1st)

WEATHER: This game is expected to have some snow with heavy sustained wind, which is likely to impact the passing attack.

What's on the line: Both teams are eliminated, but the Patriots would benefit from a loss to maintain a higher draft pick (currently would get the No. 3 pick)

Matchups We Love:

Breece Hall (RB, NYJ)

Neither coach seems the type to mail it in despite the occasion, so it should be all systems go here. Hall often struggles to run the ball well behind this offensive line and the matchup is bad again. However, nine receptions for any player puts them in play, particularly a running back. Hall has 54 touches over the past two weeks, which is absurd.

Ezekiel Elliott (RB, NE)

It'll be the battle of the tailbacks as Elliott finds himself in a similar situation as the clear focal point of the offense. The passing work wasn't there against the Bills, which hurt his outlook, but the rushing attack is the best way to go after New York's defense, so Elliott's volume and nose for the end zone will keep him afloat.

Matchups We Hate:

Patriots Passing Attack

It's a bad matchup and there are far too many players involved to find value. Bailey Zappe targeted seven different players at least twice, which is too wide of a distribution. Demario Douglas and Mike Gesicki would be the top options unless they bring back Hunter Henry, who missed the past two contests.

UPDATE: Henry has been ruled out while DeVante Parker is questionable.

Other Matchups:

Garrett Wilson (WR, NYJ)

Wilson gets plenty of targets each week. There just isn't typically a lot of production from them. With Hall so involved, and players like Xavier Gipson and Tyler Conklin earning targets, it's hard to get excited about Wilson. The matchup is good enough to start him, but the ceiling isn't high. The team confirmed Zach Wilson's season is over, so it'll be Trevor Siemian leading them once again.

Injuries:

Rhamondre Stevenson (ankle)
Hunter Henry (knee)
JuJu Smith-Schuster (ankle)
DeVante Parker (ribs)
Zach Wilson (concussion)

 

Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints

Spread: Saints -3.0
Implied Total: Falcons (19.5) vs. Saints (22.5)
Pace: Falcons (8th) vs. Saints (13th)
Falcons Off. DVOA: 1.5% Pass (22nd), -9.4% Rush (20th)
Saints Off. DVOA: 8.0% Pass (20th), -4.0% Rush (13th)
Falcons Def. DVOA:
19.3% Pass (29th), -14.9% Rush (8th)
Saints Def. DVOA: -0.0% Pass (11th), -2.2% Rush (25th)

What's on the line: Both still have a chance to win the division and/or get into the playoffs

Matchups We Love:

Juwan Johnson (TE, NO)

Johnson has been lighting it up the past few weeks since Taysom Hill suffered his injury. He was the star of the show against Tampa Bay and deserves to be out there for you against the Falcons.

UPDATE: Johnson is good to go.

Chris Olave (WR, NO)

The combination of Johnson going off and a 20-point lead hurt Olave's output. The three receptions were disappointing, but it's likely to be more competitive this week, keeping him among the great wideouts. It didn't pan out for Rashid Shaheed, but he's always one play away from a spike week.

Bijan Robinson (RB, ATL)

Getting hammered by the Bears who had nothing to play for except pride adds another chapter to the Arthur Smith coaching adventure. Robinson averaged five yards per carry and caught three passes, but failing to find the end zone was unfortunate. Tyler Allgeier taking a short pass 75 yards to the house also stings a little. The usage was promising enough to consider him a strong option in a must-win contest despite the tough matchup.

Matchups We Hate:

Kyle Pitts (TE, ATL)

Pitts is dealing with the absence of a competent signal-caller but doesn't typically see enough targets to be productive unless he scores, making him a touchdown-dependent tight end.

Other Matchups:

Drake London (WR, ATL)

London did well to earn 10 targets as the team swapped quarterbacks again, this time midway through the game, because Taylor Heinicke, who threw three interceptions, injured his ankle. Desmond Ridder added to that total despite only attempting four passes. It's a sad state of affairs at the quarterback position, especially considering the talent of London and Kyle Pitts. Nevertheless, he earns sufficient volume to help you out.

UPDATE: Heinicke is out, which means it will be Ridder back at quarterback.

Saints RB

Alvin Kamara exited last week's win with an ankle injury and has yet to practice. Kendre Miller is also trying to get back to health, meaning Jamaal Williams is on track to be their starter. He has a nose for the end zone, so he's an interesting tailback if Kamara is out.

UPDATE: Kamara has been ruled out while Miller is active, making it Williams as the lead back with Miller backing him up.

Derek Carr (QB, NO)

Carr met the threshold of roughly 200 yards and two touchdowns you hope for from a streamer. Additionally, if not for the huge lead, he likely would have racked up more yards, so against Atlanta, he's worth looking to again.

Injuries:

Alvin Kamara (ankle)
Taylor Heinicke (ankle)

 

Jacksonville Jaguars at Tennessee Titans

Spread: Jaguars -4.0
Implied Total: Jaguars (22.5) vs. Titans (18.5)
Pace: Jaguars (10th) vs. Titans (27th)
Jaguars Off. DVOA: 22.3% Pass (13th), -16.1% Rush (26th)
Titans Off. DVOA: 0.2% Pass (24th), -7.4% Rush (18th)
Jaguars Def. DVOA:
0.2% Pass (12th), -16.1% Rush (6th)
Titans Def. DVOA: 15.0% Pass (24th), -13.6% Rush (10th)

WEATHER: This game is expected to have mild wind, which shouldn't have much impact.

What's on the line: Jaguars -- can clinch the division with a win, Titans -- eliminated, but Mike Vrabel-led teams never quit

Matchups We Love:

Travis Etienne Jr. (RB, JAX)

Etienne Jr. thrives on touchdowns. It's often feast or famine because of that. Fortunately, against the dreadful Panthers, it was a feast. Tennessee has a better defense and is generally more competitive, but there's a strong chance Etienne finds the end zone this week in what should be another victory.

Evan Engram (TE, JAX)

Engram led the way with six grabs for 60 yards. It wasn't an outrageous day, but it'll do. You can lean on him again this week with plenty on the line for Jacksonville.

Jaguars WRs

C.J. Beathard did his job, which was essentially don't screw it up. He played safe, avoiding any critical mistakes. Calvin Ridley has the type of ceiling you want this week despite his frequent bust performances while Zay Jones, who missed last week, is a little more reliable if active. Christian Kirk was activated from the Injured Reserve list and has been practicing. Trevor Lawrence continues to battle through a litany of injuries. The team elected to sit him for Beathard last week, but the odds are he'll play with their season and the division crown on the line.

UPDATE: Jones is good to go for Sunday while Kirk is out. Jones is a risky option given his recent injuries.

Matchups We Hate:

None

Other Matchups:

Titans RBs

The Titans did their best to pound the rock, but we're unable to stick with it given the massive deficit. As a result, Derrick Henry saw just 12 carries while Tyjae Spears took over as a receiver. He's a good bet to catch a handful of passes in what figures to be another loss. Henry's been great when the game script is neutral or positive, but possesses more risk in what could be a blowout if Lawrence plays.

Titans Passing Attack

Will Levis left early with a foot injury, forcing the team to insert veteran Ryan Tannehill. He was okay overall but did a good enough job supporting DeAndre Hopkins, which is primarily what we're concerned with. Hopkins is chasing multiple $250,000.00 incentives for receptions, receiving yards, and touchdowns. You can bet he'll be demanding the ball and giving it everything he's got this week. Chigoziem Okonkwo remains the other pass-catcher aside from Spears, so he's worth looking to at tight end.

UPDATE: As expected, it will be Tannehill as the starter again.

Trevor Lawrence (QB, JAX)

It's a good matchup, but his injury situation makes it possible that they run the ball a ton and/or bench him in the second half if they can establish a lead, which they should be able to do.

UPDATE: Lawrence is going to give it a go.

Injuries:

Chrisitan Kirk (groin)
Will Levis (foot)

 

Matchup Analysis - 4:25 ET Games

Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals

Spread: Seahawks -3.0
Implied Total: Seahawks (25.5) vs. Cardinals (22.5)
Pace: Seahawks (5th) vs. Cardinals (1st)
Seahawks Off. DVOA: 26.4% Pass (8th), -7.8% Rush (19th)
Cardinals Off. DVOA: -0.0% Pass (25th), 2.2% Rush (8th)
Seahawks Def. DVOA:
15.1% Pass (25th), -3.2% Rush (23rd)
Cardinals Def. DVOA: 29.1% Pass (31st), 4.5% Rush (31st)

What's on the line: Seahawks -- fighting for a playoff spot, Cardinals -- would benefit from a loss, but seem poised to play

Matchups We Love:

Kenneth Walker III (RB, SEA)

Walker III still doesn't seem healthy, but he's battling through it. He found the end zone against the Steelers, which ought to be easy to repeat in Arizona. Their defense is bad enough that both he and Zach Charbonnet, who operated as their receiving back, are worth starting.

Seahawks WRs

DK Metcalf led the way despite coverage from Joey Porter Jr. He made the most of his five receptions with over 100 yards while Jaxon Smith-Njigba, who scored, and Tyler Lockett combined for two catches. That being said, this game has shootout potential with two good offenses and two very bad defenses, so all three are in. You could also take a shot on Noah Fant at tight end if you're in a pinch or for DFS, although it hasn't been as good a matchup this season.

Geno Smith (QB, SEA)

Smith moved the ball well but they settled for field goals three times, which cost them because their defense got obliterated by Pittsburgh's backfield. He's in a great spot to rack up yards and throw for multiple touchdowns.

James Conner (RB, ARI)

Conner has been on a tear since lighting it up against the Steelers four weeks ago. He's overcome difficult matchups against Philly and San Francisco, rushing the ball 77 times for 364 yards and four touchdowns during that stretch with two more scores through the air. He's a must-start against Seattle.

Trey McBride (TE, ARI)

For the second straight game, McBride had the volume we wanted but the production was lower. Nevertheless, finding a tight end that consistently sees eight to 10 targets per week is extremely rare, so he's right back out there.

Kyler Murray (QB, ARI)

Murray led the Cardinals to an unexpected win over the Eagles. The offenses looked much better, mostly thanks to him and Conner. It's another plus matchup and he adds enough with his legs that he's among the best signal-callers this week.

Matchups We Hate:

None

Other Matchups:

Greg Dortch (WR, ARI)

The wide receiver corps has been brutal for Arizona. The one player that continues to show up when called upon is Dortch, which we saw at times in 2022 as well. He's not an elite wideout, but the volume should be there with no one else stepping up.

Injuries:

None

 

Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers

Spread: Packers -3.0
Implied Total: Bears (21) vs. Packers (24)
Pace: Bears (28th) vs. Packers (15th)
Bears Off. DVOA: 0.2% Pass (23rd), 0.0% Rush (10th)
Packers Off. DVOA: 32.4% Pass (5th), -6.8% Rush (17th)
Bears Def. DVOA:
7.7% Pass (17th), -17.8% Rush (4th)
Packers Def. DVOA: 17.7% Pass (27th), -1.1% Rush (26th)

What's on the line: Bears -- coaching staff and QB fighting for a job, Packers -- fighting for a playoff spot

Matchups We Love:

Justin Fields (QB, CHI)

Fields is vying to be the starter for Chicago when next season begins. Many people in the football world wrote that off as a possibility a couple of months ago. However, the fans chanting his name and expressing their support in last week's beatdown of Atlanta means we cannot rule out proceeding with him as the answer. While that debate will continue into the offseason, probably right up until the draft, one thing we do know is that he's a great fantasy quarterback with a nice matchup.

DJ Moore (WR, CHI)

After being hampered by an ankle injury two weeks that caused him to miss part of that contest, Moore bounced back hugely with nine receptions for 157 yards and a touchdown. He's locked in against the Packers.

Cole Kmet (TE, CHI)

Kmet was absent from last week's contest due to a knee injury. He got in a limited practice on Thursday, so we'll see what Friday brings, but with Darnell Mooney still in concussion protocol, he'd be the No. 2 receiving option behind Moore.

UPDATE: Kmet is good to go.

Khalil Herbert (RB, CHI)

D'Onta Foreman was a healthy scratch in Week 17 after missing Week 16 for personal reasons. We saw this earlier in the season when all three backs were available. His absence has led to Herbert running the ball 38 times for 236 yards and two scores in the past two weeks. It has come in positive game scripts, making Roschon Johnson, who also found the end zone last week, less involved as a receiver, but that could change if the Packers get the lead. Both are worth pursuing in a run-first offense.

UPDATE: Herbert is good to go, making him the starter with Johnson the receiving back.

Aaron Jones (RB, GB)

Jones is finally healthy, which we know from experience means he'll be productive. He's a quality player that's capable of rushing for 100 yards any given week just as he has the past two games. The matchup isn't ideal, but he conquered the Vikings easily enough, so he's back in the mix. AJ Dillon, who has yet to practice, is also a deeper option with an okay floor. Jones would move up the ranks if Dillon is out.

UPDATE: Dillon has been ruled out, making Jones even more exciting with Patrick Taylor as the backup.

Matchups We Hate:

None

Other Matchups:

Packers WRs

Jayden Reed played hero before exiting last week's game with the chest injury that's been nagging him for weeks. He's been practicing, so all signs are he'll be out there again, which is great news. Christian Watson and Dontayvion Wicks were both inactive last week, but are practicing and could be on the field Sunday. Beyond Reed, you're essentially taking dart throws with so many of the options banged up.

UPDATE: Reed, Watson, and Wicks are all listed as questionable on Sunday. Watson was downgraded to a DNP on Friday, so he's likely to be out while the other two should be active.

Packers TE

Luke Musgrave has been pushing to return from a lacerated kidney. He seemed close last week and has been at practice both days this week, so there's a chance he's out there, which would muddy the waters for him and Tucker Kraft, who has been very reliable. Kraft is a good option if Musgrave misses, and could be worth looking to even if he's active depending on how many receivers are out.

UPDATE: Musgrave will play on Sunday, making it hard to know whether he or Kraft will act as the starter.

Jordan Love (QB, GB)

Since the two-game skid against New York and Tampa Bay, Love has played well, leading Green Bay to consecutive wins. They'll need one more against their longtime rivals to get into the playoffs, which may be the most difficult of all. The Bears defense has stepped up with the acquisition of Montez Sweat, but Love has everything at stake and enough weapons around him to come through.

Injuries:

Christian Watson (hamstring)
AJ Dillon (thumb/neck)
Jayden Reed (chest)
Dontayvion Wicks (chest)

 

Kansas City Chiefs at Los Angeles Chargers

Spread: Chargers -3.5
Implied Total: Chiefs (15.75) vs. Chargers (19.25)
Pace: Chiefs (19th) vs. Chargers (2nd)
Chiefs Off. DVOA: 27.8% Pass (6th), -2.4% Rush (11th)
Chargers Off. DVOA: 18.2% Pass (16th), -17.6% Rush (28th)
Chiefs Def. DVOA:
-8.4% Pass (5th), 1.5% Rush (27th)
Chargers Def. DVOA: 19.9% Pass (30th), -4.2% Rush (22nd)

What's on the line: Chiefs -- division titled and No. 3 seed clinched, Chargers -- mostly packed it in weeks ago

Matchups We Love:

Austin Ekeler (RB, LAC)

Ekeler was disappointing against a vulnerable Denver run defense, largely because the offense as a whole was bad. The Chiefs, who have nothing to gain this week, will be resting starters on both sides of the ball while the Chargers will be missing receivers yet again. You may not get a week-winning performance from him, but the volume and opportunity will be there.

Chiefs RB

We know it won't be Jerick McKinnon out there this week, but it might not be Isiah Pacheco either, who is on the injury report and could be one of the starters rested. Clyde Edwards-Helaire, who missed last week with an illness, will be on the field, so he'd be the one to start if Pacheco misses.

UPDATE: Pacheco will miss this week's game, which makes sense in a game that means nothing.

Matchups We Hate:

None

Other Matchups:

Chargers Passing Attack

Easton Stick will be out there one final time to wrap up the season, which couldn't have gone much worse for Los Angeles. Kansas City is much easier to run on, although some of that changes depending on their personnel in the secondary. Despite Mike Williams, Keenan Allen, and Joshua Palmer all inactive last week, Quentin Johnston finished with three receptions. He also had fewer targets than Alex Erickson, Keelan Doss, and tight end Gerald Everett. It's not looking good for his future value. Everett and Erickson are the two to focus on from this passing attack unless Palmer clears the concussion protocol. It does help that L'Jarius Sneed will be absent for the Chiefs.

UPDATE: Allen has been ruled out again while Palmer has cleared concussion protocol and will be active.

Chiefs Passing Attack

Blaine Gabbert will fill in for Patrick Mahomes, who is taking the week off. The turmoil surrounding the Chiefs has been rising each week, so a break for the starters is much needed. He'll be throwing to an array of pass-catchers that lack depth on a normal week, so with Travis Kelce likely playing to get 17 receiving yards, it's going to be even tougher. The good news is that the matchup is great, making it worth taking a shot on some of the pieces. Rashee Rice is a must-start if he plays with Justin Watson next in line.

UPDATE: Rice and Toney have been ruled out, making Watson the top option. It also makes tight end Noah Grey worth a look in deeper leagues and DFS.

Injuries:

Keenan Allen (heel)
Jerick McKinnon (groin)
Isiah Pacheco (quad/shoulder)
Kadarius Toney (hip/ankle)
Patrick Mahomes (ankle)
Rashee Rice (hamstring)

 

Denver Broncos at Las Vegas Raiders

Spread: Raiders -3.0
Implied Total: Broncos (17) vs. Raiders (20)
Pace: Broncos (24th) vs. Raiders (23rd)
Broncos Off. DVOA: 10.9% Pass (18th), -4.2% Rush (14th)
Raiders Off. DVOA: -4.6% Pass (28th), -14.9% Rush (24th)
Broncos Def. DVOA:
15.2% Pass (26th), 3.8% Rush (30th)
Raiders Def. DVOA: -1.2% Pass (8th), -8.3% Rush (17th)

What's on the line: Both teams are eliminated from playoffs, but have pressure to keep winning

Matchups We Love:

Zamir White (RB, LV)

White held down the fort one more time while Josh Jacobs was sidelined. The 20 carries for 71 scoreless yards were underwhelming given the juicy matchup, but adding five receptions for 35 yards helped soften the blow. Jacobs is doing his best to suit up, but if White gets the call again, he's worth throwing out there against the Broncos.

UPDATE: Jacobs is going to miss another game, so White will be the guy again this week.

Davante Adams (WR, LV)

Adams saved up multiple weeks worth of volume for Week 17, which was timely for those who needed him. His insane 21 targets were the most of any wide receiver in any week this season. It was also just the third time a receiver had 20-plus targets this year, two of which belong to him. It's impossible not to chase that.

Matchups We Hate:

Broncos Passing Attack

Jarrett Stidham replaced Russell Wilson and earned a win, which I'm sure was music to the ears of Sean Payton. Unfortunately, he goes from taking on the Chargers, who basically packed it in weeks ago, to the Raiders, who are playing for their coach to lose that interim tag and lead the team next season. Las Vegas is going to make life difficult for Stidham, who was forced to rely on the likes of Lil'Jordan Humphrey and Brandon Johnson because Courtland Sutton missed last week with a concussion, Marvin Mims Jr. left with a hamstring injury, and Jerry Jeudy cannot right the ship. Sutton and Mims practiced in full on Thursday, so there's optimism for their availability. Sutton would be the top wideout with Mims next.

UPDATE: Sutton and Mims are off the injury report, indicating they should be active.

Other Matchups:

Javonte Williams (RB, DEN)

Where it's easier to attack the Raiders is on the ground. They gave up 134 rushing yards last week, which fits with the way Denver is approaching their offense given the lack of talent in the passing attack. Williams ceded carries and targets to Jaleel McLaughlin and Samaje Perine, but remains their starter. He's the best bet here, although if the game script becomes negative, Perine has been known to emerge, so he's also an option.

Injuries:

Josh Jacobs (quad)
Michael Mayer (toe)

 

Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants

Spread: Eagles -5.5
Implied Total: Eagles (23.75) vs. Giants (18.25)
Pace: Eagles (26th) vs. Giants (16th)
Eagles Off. DVOA: 26.6% Pass (7th), 4.5% Rush (6th)
Giants Off. DVOA: -20.1% Pass (30th), -21.3% Rush (31st)
Eagles Def. DVOA:
18.2% Pass (28th), -7.6% Rush (19th)
Giants Def. DVOA: 8.8% Pass (19th), 3.6% Rush (29th)

WEATHER: This game is expected to have some lingering rain with moderate sustained wind, which could impact the passing attack.

What's on the line: Eagles -- outside shot to win division if they win and Dallas loses, Giants -- could play spoiler against their division rivals

Matchups We Love:

Jalen Hurts (QB, PHI)

The Eagles put themselves in a hole by inexplicably losing to the Cardinals in Week 17. There's still a chance for them to win the division if Dallas loses to Washington. Plus, I can't imagine they want last week's performance to be the way they enter the playoffs. Hurts and Co. will be out to prove to themselves and the rest of us that they have what it takes to make another title run. For that reason, all the offensive weapons are in play.

A.J. Brown (WR, PHI)

Brown was one of the many discontent players after last week but remains an elite wideout capable of a huge game. His counterpart, DeVonta Smith, suffered a foot injury that might keep him out this week. Both are in your lineup if they're active with Julio Jones as the next wide receiver if Smith misses.

UPDATE: Unfortunately, Smith couldn't get back in time this week, so it'll be Brown and Jones.

Dallas Goedert (TE, PHI)

Goedert thrives when Smith is out. He was also good when they played together against New York two weeks ago, making him a lock.

Eagles RBs

D'Andre Swift has been ruled out, opening the door for Kenneth Gainwell and Boston Scott to take a larger role.

Giants Passing Attack

Tyrod Taylor hung in there against a talented Rams defense, putting up 319 passing yards and running for 40 more. Philly has been torched by opposing passing attacks, so he's a solid option this week along with Darius Slayton, who has been the king of big plays recently. You could also look to Wan'Dale Robinson, who has more of a floor, and certainly tight end Darren Waller.

Saquon Barkley (RB, NYG)

Barkley touched the ball 26 times for 84 yards and a score in their last meeting two weeks ago. What was once a difficult matchup has been the third-best for fantasy running backs over the past five weeks, pushing him up the ranks.

Matchups We Hate:

None

Other Matchups:

None

Injuries:

DeVonta Smith (foot)
D'Andre Swift (illness)

 

Los Angeles Rams at San Francisco 49ers

Spread: 49ers -4.0
Implied Total: Rams (18.5) vs. 49ers (22.5)
Pace: Rams (21st) vs. 49ers (32nd)
Rams Off. DVOA: 24.4% Pass (10th), 4.2% Rush (7th)
49ers Off. DVOA: 29.4% Pass (1st), 17.3% Rush (2nd)
Rams Def. DVOA:
11.6% Pass (22nd), -7.6% Rush (20th)
49ers Def. DVOA: -11.4% Pass (4th), -9.8% Rush (15th)

What's on the line: Rams -- clinched No. 6 or 7 seed, 49ers -- already clinched the No. 1 seed

Matchups We Love:

49ers RBs

Christian McCaffrey suffered a calf injury last week that was described as mild. Thankfully for the 49ers, he has multiple weeks to rest up. That would typically mean Elijah Mitchell will get an opportunity to be the starter, but he's dealing with an illness, so it could be Jordan Mason. It'll be important to monitor his status into the weekend to decipher which one of these two is the lead back. It also helps that the Rams are resting players such as Aaron Donald on defense.

UPDATE: Both backs will be active, but it's not yet clear as to how the workload will be split.

49ers Passing Attack

Brock Purdy is also being given the week off to ensure he's in full health. He's been banged up at times and we all remember what happened in the NFC Championship Game last year. That means Sam Darnold will get his chance. They're expected to start Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, and George Kittle for at least part of the game, so Darnold has upside with those weapons at his disposal. All three receiving options are in your lineup if active.

Matchups We Hate:

Rams RBs

Kyren Williams is one of several offensive players resting this week, which means it'll be a combination of Royce Freeman and Ronnie Rivers out there. We saw some solid production out of Freeman when Williams missed a few games earlier in 2023, but San Francisco's defense is likely to have enough pieces to slow him down.

Other Matchups:

Rams Passing Attack

Here we turn our attention to Carson Wentz, who gets the call with Matthew Stafford on the sideline. Cooper Kupp and Tyler Higbee will be joining him on the bench this week, but Puka Nacua is just four receptions and 29 yards away from breaking the rookie records. He'll be out there long enough to accomplish that and then likely pulled, which leaves Demarcus Robinson as the top receiver and Davis Allen at tight end, who are intriguing options.

Injuries:

Brock Purdy (rest)
Christian McCaffrey (calf)
Matthew Stafford (rest)
Cooper Kupp (rest)
Kyren Williams (rest)
Tyler Higbee (shoulder)

 

Dallas Cowboys at Washington Commanders

Spread: Cowboys -13.0
Implied Total: Cowboys (30) vs. Commanders (17)
Pace: Cowboys (22nd) vs. Commanders (14th)
Cowboys Off. DVOA: 23.0% Pass (11th), -5.3% Rush (15th)
Commanders Off. DVOA: -4.5% Pass (27th), -6.4% Rush (16th)
Cowboys Def. DVOA:
-2.1% Pass (6th), -14.0% Rush (9th)
Commanders Def. DVOA: 33.1% Pass (32nd), -8.9% Rush (16th)

What's on the line: Cowboys -- can clinch the division with a win, Commanders -- could play spoiler against their division rivals

Matchups We Love:

Dak Prescott (QB, DAL)

Prescott rode CeeDee Lamb to a nice game and a fortunate win given the controversy surrounding the ineligible receiver call. All that aside, the Cowboys need to win to clinch the division, so he's a must-start against the porous Washington defense.

CeeDee Lamb (WR, DAL)

Lamb went nuclear against the Lions with 13 grabs for 227 yards and a touchdown. It was incredible to watch. Brandin Cooks also found the end zone and warrants a spot in your lineup.

Jake Ferguson (TE, DAL)

Ferguson wasn't great but much of that was because Lamb took away so much of the production. Don't be afraid to start him this week.

Tony Pollard (RB, DAL)

Pollard had one of his better performances against the Commanders, gashing them for 79 yards and a score, so despite his immense struggles over the past three weeks, the matchup and game script say to play him. Rico Dowdle missed last week, but should be good to go for Sunday. He's also worth a look considering this one could get out of hand.

Matchups We Hate:

Commanders Passing Attack

Despite their desire to move off of Sam Howell and go with Jacoby Brissett, fate had other ideas. Brissett hurt his hamstring in practice last week, forcing them to throw Howell back out there. It's not a good situation for him or the team. He's not on the radar for you at quarterback, but Terry McLaurin and possibly Logan Thomas are potential starters.

Other Matchups:

Commanders RBs

It'll be Antonio Gibson and Brian Robinson Jr. trying to pound the rock against a stout Dallas defense. Robinson Jr. remains the starter, so he's the one to consider, but it's going to be tough sledding unless he catches enough passes.

Injuries:

Chris Rodriguez Jr. (ankle)
Jacoby Brissett (hamstring)

 

Matchup Analysis - Sunday Night Football

Buffalo Bills at Miami Dolphins

Spread: Bills -2.5
Implied Total: Bills (25.25) vs. Dolphins (22.75)
Pace: Bills (29th) vs. Dolphins (30th)
Bills Off. DVOA: 39.1% Pass (3rd), 5.1% Rush (5th)
Dolphins Off. DVOA: 41.2% Pass (2nd), 13.1% Rush (3rd)
Bills Def. DVOA:
-0.5% Pass (9th), -8.1% Rush (18th)
Dolphins Def. DVOA: 8.6% Pass (18th), -7.4% Rush (21st)

WEATHER: This game is expected to have some showers but with minimal wind, which could impact the passing attack

What's on the line: Winner clinches the division title

Matchups We Love:

Josh Allen (QB, BUF)

Buffalo has looked the part of a playoff-caliber team since their bye week. Maybe even a Super Bowl contender. They'll need one more performance to win the division and avoid a risky scenario where they miss the postseason entirely.

James Cook (RB, BUF)

After destroying Dallas three weeks ago, Cook has been merely average since then. It's made it hard on fantasy managers and analysts alike who believed in his talent and opportunity. That being said, the over/under is high, it's going to be a playoff-type mentality, and multiple tailbacks are missing from the pool of options, so he's worth starting.

UPDATE: Leonard Fournette has been elevated for this game.

Bills WRs

Allen just simply hasn't thrown the ball as often in the past few weeks. He's been scoring on the ground and their defense has made plays to set them up with short fields. We know someone will stand out, if not two or three receivers. Stefon Diggs should be an auto-start every week, yet he's been producing lower output than his teammates Khalil Shakir and Gabe Davis. He's still someone you have to trust, along with those two, who are options you can pursue as well with plenty of upside.

Tyreek Hill (WR, MIA)

Hill is not healthy, but this game is too important for him to sit. He's going to be out there, but Jaylen Waddle won't be. It was an embarrassing loss last week in Baltimore against arguably the best team in the NFL. While Buffalo is not nearly as dominant, they'll be hungry to stay alive and win the division.

UPDATE: Waddle has been ruled out as anticipated.

Dolphins RBs

The rushing attack is so potent in this offense that you want whoever is out there. Last week, it was De'Von Achane and Jeff Wilson Jr. because Raheem Mostert couldn't go. Mostert has yet to practice this week, making it probable that he will miss Week 18 as well. Achane is a must-start with either Mostert and Wilson Jr. a good option as well.

UPDATE: Mostert has been ruled out, making Wilson a viable option.

Matchups We Hate:

None

Other Matchups:

Tua Tagovailoa (QB, MIA)

Tagovailoa did all he could but the Ravens were too much to handle. He suffered a should injury late, but has practiced in full all week, so he'll be leading what's left of the offense on Sunday. He's not an elite signal-caller, but still in the group that you want to start.

Dalton Kincaid (TE, BUF)

After vanishing since Dawson Knox came back, Kincaid surprised everyone with a big performance in Week 17, catching four passes for 87 yards. It could be a one-hit wonder, but he fits into the streaming category.

Injuries:

Salvon Ahmed (foot)
Jaylen Waddle (ankle)
Raheem Mostert (knee/ankle)



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Shane Lowry5 days ago

Be Wary Of Shane Lowry At Travelers Championship
Si Woo Kim5 days ago

Still Trying To Putt Consistently
Amari Cooper6 days ago

Andrew Berry: Amari Cooper "A Big Part Of Our Team"
Deshaun Watson6 days ago

"Really Actually Ahead Of Schedule"
Ladd McConkey6 days ago

Signs Rookie Deal
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