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Fantasy Football Start Em, Sit Em - Wild Card Weekend Matchups Analysis

Austin Ekeler - Fantasy Football Rankings, NFL Injury News, DFS Lineup Picks

Welcome back RotoBallers to our Wild Card Weekend matchups analysis and Start Em, Sit Em column for fantasy football. The NFL playoffs are here, which means 14 teams will continue their journey to a Super Bowl, two of which are on a bye this week. All six matchups between the 12 remaining teams are featured below with some additional metrics to gain that extra edge. A note about the fantasy points allowed statistic, the higher a team is ranked the more points they allow, which is negative for that team's defense but positive for the opposing offense.

For those who are unfamiliar, we'll be analyzing every game, helping you optimize your fantasy lineups for whatever format or competition you're participating in. 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 slate of games. As a reminder, there is not a Thursday Night Football game but there is a Monday Night Football game this week. Hopefully, you already took home a championship! Regardless of what format you're playing this week, we'll make sure you're ready to go. If you have any additional lineup questions, follow me on Twitter @JoshCon, and ask away. Let's dive into the matchups.

Editor's Note: Our incredible team of writers received 13 award nominations by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association including Baseball Writer of the Year, Football Writers of the Year, Golf Writer of the Year and many more! Be sure to follow their analysis, rankings and advice all year long, and win big with RotoBaller! Read More!


Matchups Analysis - Saturday Games

Seattle Seahawks at San Francisco 49ers

Spread: 49ers -9.5
Implied Total: Seahawks (16.25) vs. 49ers (25.75)
Pace: Seahawks (13th) vs. 49ers (31st)
Seahawks Off. DVOA: 24.1% Pass (8th), -9.5% Rush (23rd)
49ers Off. DVOA: 35.7% Pass (3rd), -0.5% Rush (13th)
Seahawks Def. DVOA: 3.8% Pass (17th), 1.9% Rush (25th)
49ers Def. DVOA:
-8.0% Pass (5th), -23.6% Rush (2nd)

Weather: Light rain, possible wind gusts (minor impact - favors rushing attack)
Fantasy Points Allowed:
Seahawks (QB - 17th, RB - 5th, WR - 31st, TE - 2nd) vs. 49ers (QB - 27th, RB - 32nd, WR - 5th, TE - 25th)
PFF Coverage:
Seahawks (20th) vs. 49ers (4th)
PFF Run Defense:
Seahawks (17th) vs. 49ers (4th)

Matchups We Love:

Christian McCaffrey (RB, SF)

The last time these two teams met was in Week 15 when San Francisco earned an easy victory, leading 21-6 until late in the fourth quarter. The final score was 21-13 and that was in Seattle. Both teams have mostly the same players healthy they did then, except for Elijah Mitchell, who returned last week. His presence does lower the ceiling of McCaffrey, especially on the ground, but it simultaneously opens up more opportunities in the receiving game, where he excels. Plus, those touches are more valuable for fantasy. It's a top-five matchup for running backs, making McCaffrey a good bet to score and total over 100 scrimmage yards, not to mention three to five receptions. He's a valuable player that could lead the position this weekend.

George Kittle (TE, SF)

Their contest against the Seahawks was actually when his four-game touchdown streak began. He finished with four catches for 93 yards and two trips to the end zone that day, which he could very well repeat this week. He's found pay dirt seven times in the past four games with Brock Purdy at the helm. Additionally, Seattle is the second-best matchup for tight ends and ranks below average in coverage.

Brock Purdy (QB, SF)

The individual tossing the ball to these two and the receivers is a big part of their production. Purdy has been as consistent as any quarterback in the NFL, throwing for 178 or more yards and two or more touchdowns his all six games he's played in, with a perfect record. He's averaged nearly 22 fantasy points per game, which puts him right in that great but not elite range. He exceeded 25 points twice when he found the end zone three times, which could happen in this one. He's the type of option that has a high floor but a lower ceiling.

Matchups We Hate:

Kenneth Walker III (RB, SEA)

Walker III may very well win Offensive Rookie of the Year because he's contributed to the team's success while totaling over 1,200 scrimmage yards and nine touchdowns. Unfortunately, it's a brutal matchup this week on the road against the 49ers, who have the highest-ranked rush defense by DVOA, fourth-ranked run defense by PFF, and allow the fewest fantasy points to the position. There's no doubt Seattle wants to win on the ground, but that just doesn't seem possible. The other issue is his receiving role or lack thereof. He has four total targets in the past three games, compared to 11 for DeeJay Dallas, who is listed as questionable. It's not impossible for him to score or break off a few big runs, a category he finished third in this season with 17, but he's a risky player to put in your lineup regardless of the format.

UPDATE: Dallas is active.

Geno Smith (QB, SEA)

It took every opportunity available for Smith to will his team into the playoffs against Los Angeles, whose defense is nowhere near as talented as San Francisco's. As a favorite for comeback player of the year, there's no denouncing the amazing season he's compiled. However, it appears to be coming to a screeching halt. He's thrown for 238 yards or fewer in each of his past four games, reaching two touchdowns only once during that stretch. He's also committed three turnovers, two of which were last week. He'll likely do enough to keep them competitive for much of the time, but for fantasy purposes, there is very little upside and a significant risk of a poor finish.

Other Matchups:

Elijah Mitchell (RB, SF)

As mentioned above, Mitchell returned to action last week and immediately made an impact, finding the end zone twice on five carries. He's unlikely to be targeted as a receiver and at best will split the goal-line role, but he should see eight to 12 touches, especially if they establish a significant lead, which the line implies they will. He's a low-cost high-upside back that could produce a big game.

Deebo Samuel/Brandon Aiyuk (WR, SF)

Samuel also joined his teammates on the field for the first time since his injury, although he was less of an influence on the outcome. He finished with two receptions for 20 yards on three targets, adding a rushing attempt for four yards. He only played on 68% of the offensive snaps, indicating they may have eased him in. Aiyuk was unaffected by his presence, leading the team in receptions and receiving yards. However, that might shift this week if Samuel is fully healthy and utilized more. The 49ers have an abundance of riches when it comes to offensive skill positions, which is problematic when everyone is sharing volume. The matchup hasn't been great for wide receivers, ranking as the second-worst. Samuel gets the edge in a full-PPR scoring where volume is more important, while Aiyiuk is more favorable in half or standard as well as contests with big play bonuses.

Tyler Lockett/DK Metcalf (WR, SEA)

The last meeting featured a fantastic battle between Metcalf and Charvarius Ward. Metcalf still managed seven catches for 55 yards, but it was a grind for him to get there. He's been the focal point of the offense with Lockett sidelined, but both will be on the field together in this one. Despite ranking fifth in pass DVOA and fourth in coverage, the 49ers have been a top-five matchup for receivers this season. It's the only area they aren't in the bottom seven, meaning it's the best chance Seattle has to win. Lockett is the preferred receiver because Metcalf will draw the tougher coverage, but both should see plenty of volume though.


DeeJay Dallas (ankle, quadriceps)


Los Angeles Chargers at Jacksonville Jaguars

Spread: Chargers -2.5
Implied Total: Chargers (25) vs. Jaguars (22.5)
Pace: Chargers (5th) vs. Jaguars (12th)
Chargers Off. DVOA: 8.7% Pass (17th), -8.9% Rush (22nd)
Jaguars Off. DVOA: 27.1% Pass (6th), -7.5% Rush (20th)
Chargers Def. DVOA:
-3.8% Pass (10th), 6.7% Rush (29th)
Jaguars Def. DVOA: 19.7% Pass (30th), -11.8% Rush (11th)
Weather: No rain or snow, 10mph wind (no impact)
Fantasy Points Allowed:
Chargers (QB - 20th, RB - 7th, WR - 26th, TE - 22nd) vs. Jaguars (QB - 9th, RB - 11th, WR - 20th, TE - 8th)
PFF Coverage:
Chargers (9th) vs. Jaguars (24th)
PFF Run Defense:
Chargers (30th) vs. Jaguars (11th)

Matchups We Love:

Austin Ekeler (RB, LAC)

These are two teams who are in unfamiliar territory, entering the post-season for the first time since they each drafted their respective signal-callers. It will make for an exciting matchup, one that will likely feature some mistakes and nerves. One of the stabilizing and calming forces for the Chargers will be their superstar tailback, Ekeler. After a seemingly unrepeatable touchdown total last season, he finished with 18 this year, only two fewer. He was also excellent as a pass-catcher, leading the league in receptions and targets while trailing only McCaffrey in receiving yards. He's right there with McCaffrey as the favorite to lead the week in fantasy points, except he has even less competition in the backfield.

Keenan Allen (WR, LAC)

Allen has been a target hog since he returned in Week 11, averaging over six receptions per game for about 84 yards on over 10 targets. Plus, he's found the end zone four times, including twice last week, one of which was when he was still in the game with Chase Daniel late in the fourth quarter. Jacksonville's pass defense is ranked 30th by DVOA, 11th in coverage, and they allow the twelve-fewest points to wide receivers, but Allen's volume is what makes him so appealing. He's a lock in full-PPR scoring with enough upside to be considered in additional settings depending on the other comparable options. He does get a boost if Mike Williams, who is listed as questionable, cannot suit up.

UPDATE: Williams has been ruled out for Saturday's game. Allen will see a small boost in targets but may draw more difficult coverage, which mostly evens out. Joshua Palmer and DeAndre Carter also become deeper options with Palmer as the favorite.

Travis Etienne (RB, JAX)

Etienne is a big play threat, finishing with the fifth-most breakaway runs. He also averaged 5.1 yards per carry, racking up over 1,100 yards on the ground. The problem is that he never emerged as a receiver, failing to catch more than three passes in any game, while ending with zero three times. It caps his upside, especially in more difficult matchups. Thankfully, Los Angeles is the third-best matchup by DVOA, seventh-best by fantasy points allowed, and third-best by PFF. It's full speed ahead for Etienne, who will likely see 15-plus carries with a shot at a massive game.

Matchups We Hate:


Other Matchups:

Trevor Lawrence (QB, JAX)

Lawrence was saved by the defense on Saturday but has carried the load for much of the season. He's been quiet the past three games, scoring once on the ground and once through the air. Much of that can be attributed to the matchup against the Jets that was impacted by weather, the blowout over Houston, and a tough Tennesee defense that came to play, but it does raise questions about how he'll perform in his playoff debut against Los Angeles, whose defense is top 12 by all three metrics. He's a volatile option with a wide range of outcomes. It's worth noting that he's listed as questionable on the final injury report, but this was the case last week as well.

Christian Kirk (WR, JAX)

Kirk stole the show with six grabs for 99 yards and a score, capping off an impressive season with his new team. He produced a good game (12-plus fantasy points in half-PPR) 50% of the time with 5.5 or fewer points on four occasions. Many of his better performances were during the first half of the season before Zay Jones and Evan Engram fully emerged. Jones was wide open in the back of the end zone, but Lawrence missed him, otherwise, his final line would have been better. That said, it's been a tough run for him as well during the past three weeks, falling short of five fantasy points each time. It's actually a worse matchup for receivers, adding concern that both can come through. Kirk is the better bet for volume while Jones is more likely to have a long catch.

Evan Engram (TE, JAX)

The same applies to Engram, who along with Jones, was left out of the fun last week in their narrow victory over Tennessee. When their passing attack struggles or the offense defaults to the run, it's hard for Engram and both receivers to succeed. He was on an incredible four-game stretch before stalling out the past two weeks, making him worth considering because his ceiling is so high. However, it is a bottom-ten matchup for tight ends, and he finished fourth on the team in targets last week.

Justin Herbert (QB, LAC)

Despite a really great matchup, Herbert is in a tough spot because Williams, who missed practice all week, might miss this game. Ekeler is the engine that makes the offense go, but Williams is their only legitimate downfield threat, so without him, defenses can play single coverage and focus on the short passing attack. Even with both Williams and Allen, it's been a bumpy ride for Herbert. We know the attempts will be there but when he's constantly dumping it off to Allen and Ekeler, the offense struggles to sustain drives and score, which will dictate Herbert's outlook in this one. For now, it's best not to prioritize him because his name value is likely higher than the production he'll offer.

UPDATE: Williams has been ruled out for Saturday's game. Herbert's ceiling drops without him, making him a fade because there are other quarterbacks like Jones or Cousins who are a better bet for production in a similar range.

Gerald Everett (TE, LAC)

Everett's found pay dirt in back-to-back weeks, which he's always a threat to do given his size. The matchup is eighth-best for tight ends, plus he's facing a defense that we already reviewed is beatable according to PFF and DVOA. He would also get a boost if Mike Williams cannot suit up.

UPDATE: Williams has been ruled out for Saturday's game. It takes away one of the primary options in the offense, offering slightly more opportunities for Everett.


Mike Williams (back)

Trevor Lawrence (toe)


Matchups Analysis - Sunday Games

Miami Dolphins at Buffalo Bills

Spread: Bills -13.5
Implied Total: Dolphins (15) vs. Bills (28.5)
Pace: Dolphins (20th) vs. Bills (7th)
Dolphins Off. DVOA: 33.0% Pass (4th), -3.2% Rush (16th)
Bills Off. DVOA: 36.5% Pass (2nd), 0.5% Rush (11th)
Dolphins Def. DVOA:
12.4% Pass (25th), -17.5% Rush (4th)
Bills Def. DVOA: -4.9% Pass (9th), -19.7% Rush (3rd)
Weather: Cold temperature, calm wind (no impact)
Fantasy Points Allowed:
Dolphins (QB - 3rd, RB - 15th, WR - 15th, TE - 3rd) vs. Bills (QB - 29th, RB - 23rd, WR - 7th, TE - 30th)
PFF Coverage:
Dolphins (28th) vs. Bills (10th)
PFF Run Defense:
Dolphins (5th) vs. Bills (26th)

Matchups We Love:

Josh Allen (QB, BUF)

After an unbelievable kickoff return touchdown on the first play of the game, the Bills seemed destined to win. Despite another one occurring later in the contest, Allen still managed to toss three touchdowns and 254 yards. His dual-threat ability is as good as anyone in the NFL, especially in the red zone, giving him a sky-high ceiling. Buffalo now hosts a banged-up Miami squad, who will be lucky to avoid a double-digit loss. Allen's best fantasy outing of the year came against the Dolphins in Week 15, setting him up as the favorite to end the week as the QB1 in a fantastic matchup.

Stefon Diggs (WR, BUF)

After an emotional week leading up to the game, everyone expected Diggs to show up big. He did not disappoint, hauling in seven passes for 104 yards and a score. He only had four down games all year, it so just happens that three of them came in a row leading into the Cincinnati game that was canceled, which also correlated with Allen's elbow injury. The Dolphins allowed 23.5 points per game, which was ninth-worst in the NFL, and ranked bottom-10 in pass defense by DVOA and coverage. Diggs is one of a handful of elite options that could win you your week.

Dawson Knox (TE, BUF)

Knox has been a touchdown machine, finding pay dirt in four consecutive contests. He's also had five or more catches in three of those. Much like the quarterback position, tight end is an area the Dolphins have been particularly vulnerable against, and just like Allen, Knox had his best performance of the season in their Week 15 matchup. Knox is a great option this week with a strong chance to have another huge day.

Tyreek Hill (WR, MIA)

Things are getting bleak for Miami, who is definitely going to be without Tua Tagovailoa and is trending toward missing Teddy Bridgewater as well. Hill remains the lone bright spot because of his target share of 31.7%, second-highest in the NFL, yards per route of 3.42, highest among all players, and targets per route run of 34.4%, also second-highest. He has the ability to take any pass to the house given his elite speed, plus he's always the No. 1 look. Hill's probability of having one of his vintage week-winning performances is lower because of the quarterback situation, but his volume will be as secure as any other receiver, and the matchup against Buffalo has been favorable for wideouts.

UPDATE: Head coach Mike McDaniel has named Thompson as their starter with Bridgewter as the backup, which is probably because of his health. It could actually create a better bargain on Hill, who will still receive plenty of targets. The Dolphins will have to throw and the Bills lack the personnel to completely scheme Hill out of the game.

Matchups We Hate:

Skylar Thompson (QB, MIA)

With those two signal-callers expected to be watching the game, Thompson is next in line. The Bills are a bottom-ten matchup in all three metrics, including third worst for quarterbacks in fantasy points allowed. There is no reason to consider him in any format.

Bills RBs

Miami has been beaten primarily through the air, partially because their secondary isn't as strong, and because they were scoring rapidly during their winning streak, forcing teams to throw to keep up or come back. It does skew the rankings a little, but a top-five ranking by DVOA and PFF doesn't bode well for the Buffalo backfield. Allen was the leading rusher last time these teams met, although Devin Singletary did factor in as a receiver. James Cook capitalized on his opportunity last week when Singletary fumbled, earning more carries and targets. However, it's hard to project who will lead the backfield and how often they'll run the ball. Both have the potential to score and rip off a long run, making each viewed as a high-upside option you can pursue if the discount for your roster construction makes sense.

Other Matchups:

Jaylen Waddle (WR, MIA)

The two-game sample size for Waddle with Thompson hasn't been pretty. He has eight catches for 96 yards, which is typically a stat line from one contest. He's still explosive and has the potential to beat the defense over the top, which keeps him in the mix as a player you can take a flier on, depending on other available options and how he fits with the rest of your team.

UPDATE: Head coach Mike McDaniel has named Thompson as their starter with Bridgewter as the backup, which is probably because of his health. It makes Waddle a little riskier, but the high ceiling still exists.

Jeff Wilson Jr. (RB, MIA)

Rostering Wilson Jr. this season has been a real rollercoaster ride and this week is shaping up the be much of the same. At times he's been the lead back in Miami, while other weeks he's taken a back seat to Raheem Mostert, who suffered a broken thumb and has yet to practice since. If Mostert misses, it would at least offer some clarity. The matchup is quite good according to PFF and fantasy points allowed. Furthermore, if it is Thompson, we saw him target the running back position more frequently, adding some passing upside. It'll be important to check back for updates on Mostert before deciding on how to value Wilson.

UPDATE: Head coach Mike McDaniel has named Thompson as their starter while Mostert is out. It's not good news for the offense, but Mostert's absence means the volume will be there for Wilson. It likely won't amount to a lot of production, but he could see several checkdowns.


Tua Tagovailoa (concussion)

Raheem Mostert (thumb)

Teddy Bridgewater (knee/finger)


New York Giants at Minnesota Vikings

Spread: Vikings -3.0
Implied Total: Giants (22.5) vs. Vikings (25.5)
Pace: Giants (15th) vs. Vikings (3rd)
Giants Off. DVOA: 20.2% Pass (10th), 4.9% Rush (7th)
Vikings Off. DVOA: 11.3% Pass (15th), -14.4% Rush (28th)
Giants Def. DVOA:
9.2% Pass (22nd), 11.6% Rush (32nd)
Vikings Def. DVOA: 14.2% Pass (26th), -4.3% Rush (19th)
Weather: N/A - Dome
Fantasy Points Allowed:
Giants (QB - 18th, RB - 18th, WR - 17th, TE - 11th) vs. Vikings (QB - 5th, RB - 12th, WR - 2nd, TE - 18th)
PFF Coverage:
Giants (31st) vs. Vikings (18th)
PFF Run Defense:
Giants (28th) vs. Vikings (2nd)

Matchups We Love:

Justin Jefferson (WR, MIN)

Yet another rematch, except this time not from the same division. Don't let that damper your spirit though because it was a marvelous day for everyone, producing 51 total points and several big fantasy performances. The over/under is high, it's in a controlled environment with a roof, both defenses are bad, and both offenses are above-average, making it a great matchup to target. It all starts with one of the fantasy MVP candidates, the overall WR1, Jefferson. The season did not end with him breaking the single-season record for total yards or helping his managers win a title, but you can bet he'll have a better game this week. He's one of those elite wide receivers that could finish atop the scoring leaders this week, making him well worth including in your lineup.

T.J. Hockenson (TE, MIN)

Of all the tight ends playing this week, Hockenson is the one with the highest ceiling, which should come as no surprise given that he finished as the overall TE1 in their last meeting. New York's coverage ranking is abysmal, they've improved slightly by DVOA because teams are running on them so often, and against tight ends, they're the 11th-best matchup. He's the gold standard this week.

Kirk Cousins (QB, MIN)

Cousins played a solid half of football last week and was on fire for three straight games until the offense was outmatched by the Green Bay defense. Fortunately, that won't be the case here. The Giants have a few nice pieces on defense but are far worse when it comes to coverage. They do have a high win rate when it comes to their pass rush, but that didn't stop Cousins from lighting them up with 299 and three the last time they played. He makes a nice stack with Jefferson or Hockenson as those are his primary weapons, plus their defense, which is allowing the fourth-most points per game, will undoubtedly give up enough to force the offense to keep airing it out.

Daniel Jones (QB, NYG)

One of the individuals who will look to exploit that matchup is Jones, who torched them through the air last time for 334 yards, by far the most he's thrown this season. He threw for almost eight yards per attempt, hitting multiple plays of 30-plus yards. He has the ability to gain fantasy points on the ground as well, averaging 51.4 rushing yards per game over his last five outings, with three trips to the end zone, offering a nice baseline. There's no reason he can't repeat his performance and even lead his team to victory in this one with a healthier set of weapons after the team rested their starters last week.

Saquon Barkley (RB, NYG)

As Jones's go-to option in the passing game, and the clear lead back, Barkley figures to have a heavy workload again. He's averaging almost 20 touches per game over since the game exited early against the Eagles, cementing his involvement. He still hasn't been as effective as a runner, ranking 36th in elusive rating and 32nd in missed tackles forced during that stretch, but the volume is resulting in fantasy points and touchdowns. He's a strong option with secure volume, who has a high chance of finding pay dirt.

Matchups We Hate:


Other Matchups:

Dalvin Cook (RB, MIN)

As referenced above, the Giants are getting destroyed on the ground, particularly during the back half of the season. They've given up the sixth most yards on the ground in 2022, allowing about 144 yards per game. However, Cook has finished with fewer than 10 fantasy points in four of his past fives games, including the one against New York. Thus, while the opportunity for a big game is there, it's far from a guarantee, putting him into the category of backs who could blow up but could also disappoint. He's someone to keep in mind but not overvalue.

Richie James/Isaiah Hodgins (WR, NYG)

These two have been very consistent and emerged as the top two options for Jones, despite Darius Slayton being the big-play threat who was putting up big games earlier in the year. Hodgins has four or more receptions in five straight games, finding the end zone in four of those, while James has seven catches in three of his last four with two touchdowns. They combined for 19 grabs and nearly 200 yards the last time these teams matched up. Minnesota allowed the second most points to receivers, many of which came from chunk plays, putting both receivers in play as deeper options you can take advantage of.

K.J. Osborn (WR, MIN)

We've now reached the point where Osborn has surpassed Adam Thielen as the third option after Jefferson and Hockenson, as well as sometimes Cook. Last week didn't mean much, but his 117 receiving yards were still impressive. Additionally, he's averaged just over eight targets per game over the past four weeks with two touchdowns. It's risky to trust the third or potentially fourth option in the passing attack unless you know that team is going to throw the ball 30-plus times, so he's another deeper option that could pay off.




Matchup Analysis - Sunday Night Football

Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals

Spread: Bengals -9.5
Implied Total: Ravens (15.5) vs. Bengals (25)
Pace: Ravens (27th) vs. Bengals (21st)
Ravens Off. DVOA: 10.9% Pass (16th), 10.8% Rush (2nd)
Bengals Off. DVOA: 24.9% Pass (7th), 7.5% Rush (4th)
Ravens Def. DVOA:
-2.5% Pass (11th), -14.5% Rush (7th)
Bengals Def. DVOA: -0.5% Pass (12th), -9.5% Rush (14th)
Weather: No rain or snow, light wind (no impact)
Fantasy Points Allowed:
Ravens (QB - 19th, RB - 22nd, WR - 12th, TE - 24th) vs. Bengals (QB - 30th, RB - 25th, WR - 21st, TE - 13th)
PFF Coverage:
Ravens (13th) vs. Bengals (6th)
PFF Run Defense:
Ravens (8th) vs. Bengals (19th)

Matchups We Love:

Joe Burrow (QB, CIN)

Burrow didn't play his best football last week, but that's likely because he knew he didn't have to. The game was never close, the Ravens sat several key starters, and the Bengals were mentally preparing for the rematch this week. Unfortunately, they did lose starting guard, Alex Cappa, who won't be active Sunday, but that's not enough to swing the pendulum given the quarterback situation the Ravens are in. The defense will put up a fight, but Burrow and their fourth-ranked passing attack should easily move the ball with short fields against a tired unit. It's not expected to be a high-scoring affair, which lowers his ceiling a little, but a multi-touchdown game is almost a lock at this point.

Ja'Marr Chase/Tee Higgins (WR, CIN)

The two players leading the charge with Burrow will be Chase and Higgins, who have alternated the role of alpha throughout the season. Higgins has been quiet the past two weeks, but he had a touchdown in five straight before that. Chase is still the No. 1 because of the explosive plays he can make, but Higgins has the contested catch ability that makes him a major factor near the end zone. Both are likely to be part of their success this week, offering an opportunity to create a stack with Burrow so long as it doesn't limit you at other positions.

Matchups We Hate:

Hayden Hurst (TE, CIN)

Hurst hasn't been able to score this year, finding paydirt only twice in 14 games. It's taken away his upside, which coupled with a lower floor because there are so many other players to throw to, including Trenton Irwin, makes him a player to avoid.

Tyler Huntley (QB, BAL)

Huntley is still battling to play, meaning there's a possibility it's Anthony Brown starting in this one. Neither is worth considering given the Bengals are a poor matchup for quarterbacks with a strong pass defense.

UPDATE: The Ravens are planning to start Huntley, which is good news for the offense.

Other Matchups:

Mark Andrews (TE, BAL)

Andrews helped deliver a title to fantasy managers who rode with him in championship week, but that was his lone bright spot since Week 6. That game was also with Huntley at the helm, so if they are forced to start Brown, Andrews becomes even riskier with volume as his only path forward. For now, he's worth checking on because the Bengals are more vulnerable against tight ends, and his name value has taken a hit so he might be worth a roster spot.

UPDATE: The Ravens are planning to start Huntley, which is good news for Andrews.

Tyler Boyd (WR, CIN)

This is unlikely to be a shootout as discussed above, which means tertiary options like Boyd need to score or make a long reception to be relevant, both of which are a possibility given his role and the connection he has with Burrow. So depending on the format and your situation, he could be a piece you choose to utilize.

J.K. Dobbins (RB, BAL)

Gus Edwards is attempting to get through the concussion protocol, but even if he misses, Kenyan Drake and Justice Hill will continue to be involved. Dobbins doesn't possess the pass-catching portfolio to instill confidence if this team is getting pounded midway through the game, which causes uncertainty about his volume. They'll try to lean on the run game, which is where the Bengals are weaker, but it's a matter of how long can they stick with it before they're forced to throw to catch up. Furthermore, if it is Brown who starts, scoring opportunities would drop, limiting his touchdown upside. He's someone who needs the game to stay close and a chance to find the end zone.

UPDATE: Edwards has cleared the concussion protocol and will be good to go on Sunday. He'll operate as the second member of the timeshare with Dobbins. However, much like Dobbins, the receiving work won't be there, so he'll need to score as well.


Gus Edwards (concussion)

Lamar Jackson (knee)

Tyler Huntley (shoulder/wrist)


Matchup Analysis - Monday Night Football

Dallas Cowboys at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Spread: Cowboys -2.5
Implied Total: Cowboys (24) vs. Buccaneers (21.5)
Pace: Cowboys (6th) vs. Buccaneers (1st)
Cowboys Off. DVOA: 12.8% Pass (13th), 1.2% Rush (10th)
Buccaneers Off. DVOA: 17.9% Pass (11th), -18.6% Rush (30th)
Cowboys Def. DVOA:
-11.3% Pass (3rd), -15.7% Rush (5th)
Buccaneers Def. DVOA: 2.7% Pass (15th), -10.4% Rush (13th)
Weather: Warm, light wind (no impact)
Fantasy Points Allowed:
Cowboys (QB - 21st, RB - 30th, WR - 6th, TE - 31st) vs. Buccaneers (QB - 15th, RB - 27th, WR - 8th, TE - 7th)
PFF Coverage:
Cowboys (15th) vs. Buccaneers (8th)
PFF Run Defense:
Cowboys (21st) vs. Buccaneers (23rd)

Matchups We Love:

Chris Godwin/Mike Evans (WR, TB)

Godwin has been the epitome of reliability with eight or more targets in every full game he's played since Week 5. Much like Keenan Allen, he's a short-yardage, high-volume receiver who consistently gets the attention of his quarterback, making him best suited for full-PPR scoring. His counterpart, Evans, showed off his ceiling making up for the touchdown regression he was due for in Week 17, blowing up for three of them on 10 catches for 207 yards. The Dallas pass defense is predicated on their pass rush and limiting big plays, so these two will both need to excel at their respective roles for Tampa Bay to win. The volume will be there with Tom Brady airing it out 40-plus times, if not more. It has been the position that the Cowboys allowed the most points to by quite a lot. Evans has a top-five ceiling, making him worth the gamble if you believe Brady will have time, and they keep it close or win.

CeeDee Lamb (WR, DAL)

Leading the Dallas receiving corps is Lamb, who has been on a tear. He's a combination of those two with a large target share and touchdown upside, making him a very valuable option. The Buccaneers have been solid as a whole defending the pass according to DVOA and PFF, but they've given up big games to the receivers, keeping Lamb in contention for the crown as the No. 1 receiver this week.

Dalton Schultz (TE, DAL)

After Lamb, it's Schultz who is the focal point. It's another area where Tampa Bay has allowed a lot of points, despite competing against several teams without a legitimate tight end. He'll need solid quarterback play and opportunities in the red zone, but the upside is comparable to everyone else other than Hockenson this week.

Matchups We Hate:

Tom Brady (QB, TB)

Betting against Brady to win in the playoffs is a dangerous proposition. However, for fantasy purposes, outside of the big game from Evans in Week 17, his numbers just haven't been great. It's possible he eclipses 300 yards or finds his teammates for a score three times, but it's not a great matchup, and getting into a shootout isn't likely to result in a win for them because their offense hasn't shown it can keep up. He's mostly off the radar in all formats.

Michael Gallup/T.Y. Hilton/Noah Brown (WR, DAL)

There have become far too many rotational receivers in this offense to trust any of these three. It actually seems like Hilton, who basically walked off the street a few weeks ago, is now the No. 2 receiver, but trusting him or anyone other than Lamb, Schultz, or the backfield is risky.

Other Matchups:

Tony Pollard/Ezekiel Elliott (RB, DAL)

Speaking of the backfield, Pollard and Elliott are integral to the success of this offense. The Cowboys were embarrassed by Washington, partially because these two combined for 29 total scrimmage yards on 15 touches. It wasn't just last week either, against the depleted Tennesse Titans the week before, Elliott and Malik Davis combined for 99 total yards on 31 touches. The offense has been outright bad the past two weeks against inferior competition that really didn't expect to compete. While it's historically been a scary matchup, things haven't been quite as gloom and doom this season, but it's no cakewalk either. Pollard remains the preferred option because of his receiving skill set, but the offense will need to function more like it did earlier this season for these two to pay dividends.

Dak Prescott (QB, DAL)

At the head of the mess that's been this offense is Prescott. There's no denying he hasn't played at a high level for several weeks now. He's thrown at least one interception in nine of his last 10 games, totaling 13 during that stretch. They aren't all on him, but far too many are. In order for all the weapons around him to succeed, he'll have to perform better than he has, which is reasonable to expect. Ultimately, the level of conviction you have that he has a good game will decide whether you force him and the other pieces into your lineup this week.

Leonard Fournette (RB, TB)

Last but not least is the veteran, Fournette, who despite ceding work to the rookie Rachaad White throughout the season, seems primed for a playoff run. We know Brady and the team trust him, especially as a receiver, which will be far more important in this matchup because running the ball is not a strength of this offense. Fournette is a sneaky upside player that could find the endzone and tally as many as seven or eight receptions, making him an intriguing option, particularly in full-PPR scoring.




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