The Primer: Week 12 Edition (2020 Fantasy Football)
New Orleans Saints at Denver Broncos
Spread: Saints -6
Saints vs. Broncos Betting Matchup
Taysom Hill: He played well in his first NFL start, completing 18-of-23 passes for 233 yards, and though he failed to throw a touchdown, he rushed for two of them. Unfortunately, he can’t play the Falcons every week. But still, a quarterback with his mobility comes with a sky-high floor and can be considered a streamer almost every week. The Broncos pass defense has been much better than most expected given the lack of pass-rushing options, as quarterbacks have averaged just 6.69 yards per attempt against them, which ranks as the fourth-lowest mark in football. It’s touchdowns, too, as they’ve allowed just a 4.20 percent touchdown-rate, which is below the league average. It’s not a small sample size either, as teams have tried throwing the ball on 58.1 percent of their plays, which has amounted to 35.7 pass attempts per game. Despite that, there’s been just one quarterback (Ben Roethlisberger) who’s finished with 300-plus yards. That’s not necessarily what we care about with Hill, though. He’s a mobile one and the Broncos have allowed 5.05 yards per carry to quarterbacks, which ranks as the 10th-highest number in football. And keep in mind they lost interior linemen Mike Purcell three weeks ago, and Jurrell Casey a few weeks before that, so they’re only getting worse up the middle. We’ve already witnessed Cam Newton rush for 76 yards and a touchdown against them, while Sam Darnold totaled 84 rushing yards and a touchdown. Hill has the looks of a high-floor low-end QB1/high-end QB2, though we shouldn’t jump to play him over proven options, as he’s only played one game against what might be the league’s worst defense. But based on what we have seen, he looked good.
Drew Lock: As expected, the Broncos got away from throwing the ball 40-plus times per game last week. It was only a matter of time before that ended, and Lock’s four interceptions in Week 10 sealed the deal. It did help that they were ahead most of the game, allowing them to rack up some carries. Still, it’s fair to say the Broncos have thrown the ball more than we expected, as their 60.5 percent pass-rate ranks 12th in the NFL. Meanwhile, the Saints have faced a passing play on 63.5 percent of their plays, which is the second-most in the NFL, and the Saints are six-point favorites, so we should see plenty of pass attempts in this game. The issue is that the Saints defense has started to look like the one we thought they’d be before the season started. Over their last three games, they’ve allowed just 65-of-113 passing (57.5 percent) for 688 yards (6.09 YPA), one touchdown, and seven interceptions. Keep in mind that two of those three games were against Tom Brady and Matt Ryan. You’d have to go back to Week 7 to find the last time a quarterback finished better than QB15 against them. A lot of the performances they allowed early in the season were predicated on touchdowns, as they’ve still yet to allow more than 283 yards passing this season. Considering Lock has just a 2.6 percent touchdown-rate this season, it’s fair to say you shouldn’t be playing him this week.Editor’s Note: All of the Broncos’ QBs are ineligible to play in week 12 due to COVID-19.
Alvin Kamara and Latavius Murray: While doing research for this game, I came across something pretty hilarious on Kamara. He’s seen a remarkable 24.5 percent of the Saints targets, which ranks 11th in the NFL, but has seen just 3.0 percent of their air yards. These are the little tidbits I find that keep me amused. That target share number was actually 26.0 percent before Taysom Hill took over, so should we be worried about Kamara? I’ll be honest, it’s not great, as Kamara has totaled more than 14 carries just once all season. That receiving work is what offered most of his value. We can’t completely panic about one game, and who knows, maybe the Falcons cornerbacks were just so bad that Hill couldn’t help himself and didn’t want to dump it down. But yes, it’s worrisome. The matchup this week should allow for a lot of production on the ground, as the Broncos just haven’t been the same since losing Mike Purcell on the defensive line. After being one of the best run defenses in the league, they’ve struggled to slow down much of anyone over the last five games, as they’ve allowed 595 rushing yards on 129 carries (4.61 yards per carry) with six rushing touchdowns. They’ve also allowed 143 receiving yards and a receiving touchdown over their last four games to running backs, so they’re clearly struggling with the position, and it’s not like their competition has been stellar. On top of that, their offense is struggling to put points on the board most weeks, which has led to running backs averaging 28.4 touches per game against them. You probably don’t want to spend up for Kamara in cash games until we see his targets get back up to par, but you’re still playing him as an RB1 in season-long formats in a plus-matchup. This is the first plus-matchup for Murray’s role in quite a few weeks, as they’ve played the Bears, Bucs, 49ers, and Falcons over the last four weeks. Not many realize that Murray has just 15 fewer carries than Kamara on the year, though he’s been on the short end of the stick in the touchdown department (Kamara 8, Murray 2). Knowing Murray has received at least nine touches in 9-of-10 games this year, he’s in the low-end RB3/high-end RB4 conversation who just might make an appearance into the end zone.
Melvin Gordon and Phillip Lindsay: After what seemed like an eternity, the Broncos running backs had some success in Week 11, combining for 166 yards and two touchdowns on 31 carries against the Dolphins, as they led throughout the game. Neither of them were targeted in the passing game, which could be a real problem this week. The Saints are one of just five teams who’ve allowed fewer than 3.50 yards per carry on the season. It’s not just that, either, as they’ve allowed a rushing touchdown once every 63.7 carries, which is the least often. On the ground, they’ve allowed just 8.4 fantasy points per game to running backs, which is the lowest in the league, and it doesn’t bode well for someone like Lindsay, who isn’t involved in the passing game. It’s not great through the air, either, as running backs have averaged just 4.50 yards per target against the Saints, which ranks as the fourth-lowest mark in the NFL. So, the yardage is bad on the ground and through the air. What about the touchdowns? Nope, they’ve allowed a league-low five touchdowns to running backs this year. Of the fantasy production the Saints allow to skill-position players, running backs account for just 25.4 percent of it, which is the lowest mark in the league. That’s led to them scoring just 17.4 PPR points per game against the Saints, which is the lowest number in the league. When you see the Saints have faced just 24.0 running back touches per game, and been so efficient against them (94.8 total yards per game), it’s tough to say Gordon is anything more than a middling RB3 this week and not someone you should feel it necessary to play. Lindsay is an even worse bet considering how little he’s used in the passing game, making him an RB4.
Michael Thomas: Who would’ve thought that having Taysom Hill under center would unlock Thomas? Through three games with Brees, Thomas had just 10 catches for 95 yards. Through one game with Hill, he has nine catches for 104 yards. To be fair, the game was against the Falcons, but Hill looked Thomas’ way early and often. Thomas received 12 of Hill’s 23 pass attempts for a massive 52.2 percent target share. He’ll have a tougher test this week against the Broncos, who’ve allowed just 7.47 yards per target to wide receivers this year, which is the second-lowest mark in the NFL, behind only the Rams. With that being said, alpha wide receivers have done well against them. On the year, there have been six wide receivers who’ve seen more than eight targets against them, and every one of those receivers finished with 15-plus PPR points. There have also been 13 wide receivers who’ve finished with five-plus receptions against them, which should present a great floor for Thomas. For now, we’ll put him back in the WR1 conversation even though it is a small sample size with Hill because all we really wanted to know was that his target share would be there, and it was.
Emmanuel Sanders: We’ve now had three weeks with Michael Thomas back, and it’s official, Sanders is not a full-time player. His snap percentages with Thomas in the lineup this year are 48, 30, 58, and 59. That hasn’t stopped him from getting some targets when on the field, but he hasn’t topped five targets in any game Thomas has played, which certainly caps his appeal. Now going into a matchup with the Broncos who’ve allowed just 7.47 yards per target to wide receivers, which is the second-lowest mark in the league. Of the 16 wide receivers who’ve totaled double-digit PPR points against the Broncos, just two of them finished with less than five targets, and they both needed to score to get there. It’s Hill’s first start in a road game against a competent opponent, Sanders isn’t seeing the field more than 58 percent of the time, and he has a five-target ceiling with Thomas in the lineup. Sanders looks like a relatively weak WR5 option this week.
Jerry Jeudy: Similar to the Bears offense, the volume that Broncos wide receivers see isn’t quite the same as most. They need more targets to produce startable numbers, and the best way to show that is this: Heading into Week 11, there were 112 wide receviers who’d seen 20-plus targets. Here are the Broncos’ wide receivers ranks among them: Tim Patrick 44th, DaeSean Hamilton 83rd, Jeudy 95th, and KJ Hamler 99th. That’s a quarterback efficiency problem. So, while Jeudy has seen eight-plus targets in each of the last four games, it’s not worth as much as someone who got the same eight targets in a different offense. Jeudy was also shadowed by Xavien Howard last week, so teams clearly view him as the No. 1 receiver. The Saints were without their top cornerback Marshon Lattimore last week, which would be a good thing for all Broncos players if he were out again, though he wasn’t ruled out until gameday, so he was probably close to playing. The Saints have allowed the eighth-most fantasy points per target to wide receivers this year, though that number has been sliding down over the last three weeks, as they’ve held Calvin Ridley, Julio Jones, Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and Antonio Brown outside the top-24 options over the last three weeks. We did see Brandon Aiyuk finish with seven catches for 75 yards and a touchdown, though he did see 14 targets, something that’s highly unlikely with Jeudy. If Lattimore is held out again, Jeudy would get a solid bump in the rankings, but for now, he stays in the WR4 territory with a decent floor considering his target share. *Update* Lattimore is likely to play, while Jeudy missed some practice time with multiple injuries.
Tim Patrick: He posted his third 100-yard game in Week 11, which ranks 10th among wide receivers. What makes it that much more impressive is that he’s had all three of those games over the last six games played. He’s been extremely impressive when you take a look at the competition they’ve played and the lack of efficiency by Drew Lock, as he’s has just one game with more than 270 yards. While teams are treating Jeudy like the No. 1 receiver, Patrick is taking full advantage. He has 21 fewer targets than Jeudy, but he trails him by just one reception and 26 yards. The Saints cornerback duo of Janoris Jenkins and Marshon Lattimore have played better as of late, but Lattimore was forced to miss last week’s game, which slid Patrick Robinson into the starting lineup. If Lattimore were to miss again, Patrick would get Robinson in coverage, and that’s a major upgrade, as he stepped in and proceeded to allow 5-of-6 passing for 83 yards in his coverage last week. If Lattimore plays, that’s problematic, as he’s the cornerback Patrick would see most of the day (if they play sides). When Lattimore is on and playing with confidence, he’s one of the best in the league. Stay tuned for updates on Lattimore’s status later in the week, but for now, Patrick belongs in the WR4 conversation right alongside Jeudy.
KJ Hamler: His 26 targets over the last three weeks have netted just 14 receptions for 160 scoreless yards. It feels eerily similar to Jerry Jeudy earlier in the year where he was getting the targets in the slot, but he just wasn’t doing much with them. Hamler offers one-play upside but not in the role they have him in. It feels like this matchup on the other side of the ball is similar to Hamler’s performance to this point, as Chauncey Gardner-Johnson has been targeted plenty but hasn’t allowed much production. On the year he’s seen 51 targets, allowing 40 receptions for 321 yards and one touchdown. While that 78.4 percent catch-rate is massive, the 6.29 yards per target is one of the lowest marks in the league. Hamler is on the WR4/5 radar due to his targets, but he just feels like a lineup filler and not someone you’ll be excited to start.
Jared Cook: He’s fading into the background over the last three weeks, as he’s failed to see more than three targets in each of those games, and he’s caught just three ball for 36 yards in all three games combined. You think that’s bad enough? Well, how about the fact that rookie Adam Trautman actually out-snapped Cook 32-25 in last week’s game with Hill under center. Is it a changing of the guard? Cook has actually played 26 or less snaps in each of the last three weeks, so it’s probably best to just move on. The Broncos have allowed just 1.68 PPR points per target to tight ends, which ranks as the 11th-lowest number in football, so there’s not a whole lot of reason to even contemplate him.
Noah Fant: Some may have been disappointed by Fant’s performance last week, but they really shouldn’t have been, as the Dolphins have been one of the better teams in the league against tight ends. Even better, it appears that Fant is moving around well and is back at full health. He’s managed to finish in-between 35-57 yards in seven of the last eight games, but he hasn’t scored since way back in Week 2. Both him and Hunter Henry have had very similar seasons, though Fant has certainly dealt with worse quarterback play. Unfortunately, tight ends have averaged 5.6 percent fewer fantasy points against the Saints than they do in non-Saints games, which ranks as the 10th-toughest matchup in the league. Outside of the game where Darren Waller went bananas against them back in Week 2, the Saints haven’t allowed a tight end more than five catches or 62 yards, so the ceiling has been limited. The positive news is that we’re expecting more pass attempts out of the Broncos this week, and Fant has a 16.2 percent target share, so he should offer a somewhat stable floor. He’ll need them, as the 5.99 yards per target they’ve allowed to tight ends ranks as the fourth-lowest mark in the league.
Kansas City Chiefs at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Spread: Chiefs -3.5
Chiefs vs. Buccaneers Betting Matchup
Patrick Mahomes: He now leads the NFL with six 300-yard passing games, though it did appear the Chiefs made it a point to run the ball a bit more in Week 11. That’ll only benefit Mahomes, as they were starting to become a bit one dimensional. The last three teams they’ve played have struggled to generate any sort of pass rush, which has allowed him to stand back, scan the field, and pick them apart. It won’t be that way in Week 12, as the Bucs get after the quarterback and generate a sack on 7.31 percent of dropbacks, which ranks as the seventh-best mark in the league. With that being said, Mahomes’ attempts should be sky-high, as teams have chosen to throw the ball 63.6 percent of the time and average 40.5 pass attempts against them. By comparison, the Chiefs have thrown the ball 60.5 percent of the time, and Mahomes has averaged 37.4 pass attempts per game. There have been just two quarterbacks all year who’ve averaged more than 7.89 yards per attempt against the Bucs, but volume has carried through some competent fantasy finishes. It also doesn’t hurt that they’ve allowed multiple touchdown passes in each of their last five games, including three to Jared Goff last week. You’d have to go back to Week 6 to find the last time they didn’t allow a top-16 quarterback. This all comes back to their ability to stop the run so well, leading teams to the air. There have been 14 games over Mahomes’ career where he’s thrown the ball 40-plus times. He’s finished with at least 18.0 fantasy points in 13 of them, including 20.8 points in 12 of them. He may not finish with the QB1 performance this week, but he should still finish top-five.
Tom Brady: What has 2020 done to us? Tom Brady struggling in back-to-back primetime games? It can’t be. Remember all that chatter about Brady and his lack of deep ball? Well, he’s thrown more deep balls than every quarterback in the league. On those throws, he’s had just a 68.7 QB Rating. It almost seems like they’re unnecessarily forcing them. We can’t hold too much against Brady after going against what might have been the best pass defense in the league, but he doesn’t have an easy follow-up with the Chiefs, who’ve allowed the fifth-fewest yards per attempt (6.78) this year. If you just look at fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks, you’d see the Chiefs are the 10th-toughest matchup but it’s actually worse than that for a non-mobile quarterback like Brady. If you look at the fantasy points they’ve allowed through the air alone to quarterbacks, they rank as the sixth-toughest matchup for them, and it’s not from lack of volume, as the 0.407 fantasy points per actual pass attempt ranks as the fifth-lowest mark in the league. The good news is that they don’t bring as much pressure as the Rams did, though they’re not too far behind. All in all, quarterbacks have scored 5.1 percent fewer fantasy points per game against the Chiefs when compared to their season average, which ranks as the 13th-toughest matchup in the league in schedule adjusted rank. You’d like to think Brady will rise to the occasion, but this matchup isn’t great for him, leaving him in high-end QB2 territory.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Le’Veon Bell: The Chiefs ran the ball 21 times in Week 11, which may not seem like much, but it was the first time they hit 20 carries since back in Week 6. It certainly helps that they ran 78 plays and it was a good matchup for their running backs, but that’s not going to be the case this week. The Bucs matchup is the last one you want to see on your running back’s schedule, as they’re simply the best. They’ve allowed an unheard of 2.97 yards per carry on the year, while no other team has allowed fewer than 3.43 yards per carry. It was the same story last year when they held backs to just 3.02 yards per carry. On the year, they’ve allowed just 50.5 rushing yards per game, so expecting much production on the ground doesn’t make sense. So, let’s travel to the passing game. Since Bell joined the team, the routes run have gone Edwards-Helaire 69, Bell 45, and Darrel Williams 34. This is not great, as Edwards-Helaire should be the clear front-runner of this trio. This is important because the Bucs have allowed the third-most fantasy points through the air to running backs. They’ve seen a league-high 86 targets to them, resulting in a league-high 70 receptions. Still, they’ve allowed just 90.6 total yards per game to running backs, so touchdowns are necessary for production. They’ve allowed 10 total touchdowns to running backs, so it’s not impossible, but this matchup is bad for a timeshare running back. Edwards-Helaire should be considered just a low-end RB2/high-end RB3 while Bell is not a recommended play.
Ronald Jones and Leonard Fournette: I’m surprised the Bucs didn’t just flat-out cut Fournette mid-game last week, as he dropped three easy passes from Brady. The only reason he was in there was due to Jones dropping his first target. Pass-catching has clearly been a problem for these two, but the Bucs really don’t have any other options. Jones has now finished with 13 or less carries and 34 or less yards in four of his last five games, though he’s still averaging a robust 4.93 yards per carry. The Bucs should be riding him a bit more, especially in a matchup like this against the Chiefs. They struggle to stop the run and it’s nothing new. Over the last two years in this 4-3 scheme, they’ve allowed 2,784 yards on 592 carries (4.70 yards per carry) with 16 touchdowns on the ground. They’ve struggled through the air, too. That’s evidenced by the 6.60 yards per target they’ve allowed to running backs, which ranks fourth-highest in the league. The problem all comes back to the Bucs needing to establish some sort of run game, unless they want to go toe-to-toe with Patrick Mahomes, which doesn’t seem all that smart. After Fournette’s disaster last week, I’d suspect Jones gets a decent run in this game, and considering there’s 56-point total, he’s in the high-end RB3 conversation who has more upside than most in that range, though you know his floor. Fournette is hard to recommend, even in a game there should be plenty of passing, as he likely lost a lot of trust last week. He falls into low-end RB3/high-end RB4 territory because there is a lot of potential in this matchup, making him hard to completely avoid. I’d pay attention to which running backs are active because we could see LeSean McCoy or Ke’Shawn Vaughn make an appearance.
Tyreek Hill: It seems that Mahomes and Hill have hit their stride, as Hill’s been more reliable than ever this year. He’s totaled at least 78 yards and/or a touchdown in 9-of-10 games, including 368 yards and six touchdowns over the last four games. He’s seen 32 targets over the last two weeks, which is more than he’s ever had in a two-game stretch. Among wide receivers with 40-plus targets, Hill ranks No. 6 while averaging 2.35 PPR points per target. Did you know he’s played in the slot on 59 percent of snaps this year? Of the 85 cornerbacks who’ve played at least 200 snaps in coverage, Bucs slot cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting ranks as the sixth-worst cornerback in the league, allowing 2.28 PPR points per target in his coverage. We watched the Rams abuse the slot last week against this Bucs secondary, as Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods racked up 12 catches for 93 yards and a touchdown in the slot. You’re starting Hill as a WR1 every week and this one should be no different.
Mecole Hardman: It shouldn’t come as a surprise, but Hardman ranks No. 4 among wide receivers with 2.61 PPR points per target. This comes just one year after he averaged 2.77 PPR points per target in 2019, which was the fourth-best mark in the NFL over the last 10 years. Yeah, he’s efficient. The issue is reliability in his role, which has been week-to-week. It might not seem like much, but Byron Pringle going to IR is big for Hardman. Pringle had averaged 31.2 snaps per game over the last five weeks. Hardman plays over half of his snaps in the slot, which is why they struggle to get him on the field with Hill, who plays most of his snaps there. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Andy Reid test the depth of the Bucs cornerback unit and utilize Hardman in this game, though he’s nothing more than a hail-mary WR4/5 play who has more upside than most in that range.
Mike Evans: His targets may not be what they’ve been in the past, but he leads all players with 13 targets inside the 10-yard-line. It has felt like Brady is pushing the ball his way a bit more over the last few weeks, though that could be from the elevated volume, as his 20.0 percent target share over the last four games is nothing crazy. Evans still hasn’t topped 77 yards since way back in Week 4, though touchdowns have carried him through, as he’s scored in 8-of-11 games this year. The Chiefs have allowed just eight touchdowns on the season, which ranks as the fifth-fewest in the NFL. Everyone seems to be amazed when I tell them the Chiefs are one of the best in the league against wide receivers, as they expect tons of targets. That hasn’t been the case, as they’ve seen just 18.3 targets per game to the position, which means there are just three teams who’ve seen less. While volume has been an issue, so has efficiency, as receivers have averaged just 7.61 yards per target (5th-lowest) and a touchdown every 22.9 targets (10th-least often). Through 10 games, the Chiefs have allowed just 10 top-36 wide receivers. The matchup is easier than last week against the Rams, so if you want to see the positives, there you go. Evans’ touchdown prowess keeps him in the low-end WR2 range.
Chris Godwin: He saw a season-high 10 targets last week, which is a welcomed sight considering Brady appears to be favoring Evans and Brown quite a bit. The Bucs should continue to involve Godwin more and more, as he’s caught 80.4 percent of his targets and can play as the underneath receiver with the way Jones/Fournette have struggled in the passing game. The Chiefs have used a combination of Tyrann Mathieu and Rashad Fenton to cover the slot, which isn’t a bad thing for Godwin. They’ve combined to allow 28-of-44 passing for 389 yards and a touchdown in their coverage. The Chiefs have allowed 11 wide receivers to finish as the WR38 or better and four of them have been slot-heavy wide receivers. Over the last three weeks, they’ve allowed the combination of Hunter Renfrow, Curtis Samuel, and Braxton Berrios combine for 19 receptions, 176 yards, and a touchdown. Godwin is someone who should be the safest and least touchdown-dependent of the Bucs wide receivers, so consider him a relatively safe low-end WR2.
Antonio Brown: Brown has now seen 2.4 air yards per snap, which ranks as the third-highest in the NFL among receivers with 25-plus targets. Brady is clearly trying to get the ball to him, as evidenced by his 21 targets over the last two weeks. Brown has looked decent on them, though he’s lacking that elite separation he used to get. It was a tough matchup last week, though this week isn’t going to be much easier. He plays almost all his snaps on the perimeter, which means he’ll see a mix of Bashaud Breeland and Charvarius Ward in coverage. Both cornerbacks have allowed less than 1.72 PPR points per target in their coverage, though we did see Breeland slip a bit last week, allowing 4-of-4 passing for 55 yards and a touchdown to the Raiders’ wide receivers. While Brown’s talent can rise above the competition, the issue is that you can’t expect all the Bucs receivers to post top-30 numbers, especially considering the Chiefs have allowed just nine wide receivers to do that all year. Knowing that Brown plays on the perimeter the most, he’s the one who’ll have the hardest time. Because of that, he’s in the low-end WR3 territory, though Brady clearly wants him to be “the guy.”
Travis Kelce: If you were to stack Kelce’s numbers up against wide receviers, he’d rank No. 4 behind only Davante Adams, Tyreek Hill, and Keenan Allen. For those who took a shot on him in the middle of the second round in fantasy drafts, you’re dancing in the streets. There’s not another tight end within 55 PPR points from him. He’s also riding a three-game streak of 100-plus yards into this matchup with the Bucs, who’ve allowed eight different tight ends finish as the TE14 or better. It surely helps that tight ends have seen 80 targets against them (fifth-most) because they’ve allowed a pedestrian 6.74 yards per target to them. But when you add in the level of competition, they rank as the 13th-best matchup for tight ends. Fellow athletic tight ends Darren Waller (6/50/1) and Jared Cook (5/80/0) had no issues getting production against them. Look, you’re starting Kelce anywhere you can, especially in a game they’re projected to score almost 30 points.
Rob Gronkowski: It appears we’ve lost some of the luster to Gronkowski with all three wide receivers healthy, as he’s totaled just 19 targets over the last four games. He’s caught just five passes over the last three games, which is certainly now what we want out of our tight end. Will the trend change against the Chiefs? They’ve allowed the 12th-fewest fantasy points to tight ends this year, but it’s not as bad as you might think, as tight ends have averaged 3.7 percent more fantasy points against the Chiefs than they have in non-Chiefs matchups. That makes them the 14th-best matchup for tight ends when you adjust for level of competition. There have been five tight ends who’ve finished as the TE13 or better against them, including six tight ends who’ve totaled 38-plus yards. They’ve also allowed a touchdown every 13.0 targets to tight ends, so maybe we see Gronk find his way back into the end zone in this projected high-scoring affair? He should be considered a low-end TE1 with his recent lack of production, though the 56-point total is appealing.
Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers
Spread: Packers -9
Bears vs. Packers Betting Matchup
Mitch Trubisky and Nick Foles: There’s likely going to be a lot of drama surrounding the Bears quarterback position this week, and it’s unlikely we get concrete news before this article comes out. If Trubisky is healthy enough to play, he should start, as the Bears have a built-in excuse to move on from Foles, who’s been atrocious. In 34 quarters of play, Foles threw just 10 touchdowns and averaged just 6.0 yards per attempt. I’m not saying he’s the only problem, but he’s definitely not part of the solution. Trubisky at least offers mobility to evade pressure behind this horrendous offensive line. From what we know right now, it appears Trubisky will be the starter, so that’s how we’ll proceed. The Packers matchup has not been particularly kind to quarterbacks, as they’ve allowed the sixth-fewest fantasy points per game to them. That’s largely in part to do with the 59.7 plays per game they’ve faced. It also doesn’t help quarterbacks when running backs stomp all over them, limiting them to just 32.0 pass attempts per game. When quarterbacks do throw, they have success against this defense, completing 67.8 percent of passes for 7.68 yards per attempt, while throwing a touchdown 5.31 percent of the time. Those are all above the league average. That’s because the Packers have failed to generate any pressure up front, as they’ve averaged a league-low 24.3 percent pressure-rate. Still, it’s the same scheme they ran last year that Trubisky struggled against, as he threw for 562 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions in the two games combined. Knowing Trubisky is still working through a shoulder injury, you have to assume his mobility will be limited, too. He’s not a recommended streamer. *Update* It’ll be Trubisky under center for the Bears this week.
Aaron Rodgers: He’s thrown 29 touchdowns through 10 games this year, which is his highest total since 2016. If he continues this pace, he’ll break his previous career-high of 45 touchdowns that he set in 2011. After crushing a matchup with the Colts who had allowed the fourth-fewest fantasy points per play to their opponents, Rodgers will return home to play against a Bears team that’s allowed just 1.21 PPR points per offensive play to their opponents, which is the lowest mark in the league. The Bears have allowed a touchdown on just 3.43 percent of pass attempts this year, which ranks second to only the Rams. All in all, the Bears pass defense has allowed just 0.393 fantasy points per actual pass attempt, which is also second to the Rams. It does help to know that Rodgers leads the league with 11 pass plays that have gone for 40-plus yards, as that can provide some instant relief in tough matchups. It is worth noting that Rodgers hasn’t thrown for more than 286 yards against this Bears defense since back in 2016, and they play twice a year. Over their last three games, he’s thrown just two touchdowns against them. Dating back to the start of last year, there’ve been just two quarterbacks who’ve averaged more than 7.72 yards per attempt against the Bears. You’d have to go all the way back to Week 7 of 2018 (span of 36 games) to find the last time they allowed more than two passing touchdowns in a game. Divisional games mean a lot and are often closely contested between these two teams. Rodgers is a low-end QB1 this week and one who might disappoint.
David Montgomery: He should be back in the lineup after now having two full weeks off with his concussion. It hasn’t been a season fantasy managers will remember, but since Tarik Cohen went down with his season-ending injury, Montgomery’s fantasy finishes have been 15, 14, 24, 21, and 49 (concussion). He’s yet to eclipse 89 yards rushing or 45 yards receiving, and his team is almost never in scoring position, but he’s getting 17-plus touches every single week, which has value as an RB2. When playing the Packers, running backs outscore quarterbacks by 14.72 fantasy points, which is the second-largest gap in the league. Running backs are averaging a robust 31.3 PPR points against the Packers, which is the second-highest number in the league. On average, wide receivers outscore running backs by 12-14 PPR points per game, but not against the Packers, as that gap is a league-low 2.59 PPR points. Here’s the best way to lay it out: The Packers allow 74.3 PPR points per game to skill-position players, and a league-leading 42.1 percent of that goes to running backs. The Packers opponents have targeted their running backs on 23.1 percent of pass attempts, which ranks as the second-highest number in the league. That’s led to running backs producing 14.1 PPR points per game through the air alone, which is the most in the NFL. That’s crazy when you consider the Saints allow just 17.4 PPR points per game to the position as a whole. It’s not just volume, either, as the 1.91 PPR points per target they’ve allowed is also the most in the league. All in all, the Packers have allowed 156.9 total yards per game to running backs, so knowing Montgomery receives at least 75 percent of their touches/production, he should be in lineups as an RB2.
Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams: It’s official, we have a timeshare with the Packers running backs, as it’s been a 65/35 split over the last two weeks with both of them in the lineup. It does help that the Packers running backs have combined to average 30.3 touches per game, though. It also helps that the Bears offense has been bad enough to allow their opponents running backs to compile 28.6 running back touches per game, which is more than enough to do damage. The downside is that they’ve allowed the third-fewest points per opportunity to running backs this season and are fresh coming off their bye week. The Bears are also one of just four teams who’ve still yet to allow a receiving touchdown to a running back. That’s been a contributing factor to them allowing just 1.22 PPR points per target to running backs, which ranks as the third-lowest number in the league. The only running back who’s cracked 15 PPR points and finished better than the RB15 against the Bears this year was Alvin Kamara, who caught nine balls for 96 yards to go along with his 67 yards on the ground. He was the only running back who’s topped four catches or 36 yards through the air against the Bears, too. Despite there being 11 different running backs who’ve tallied double-digit carries against them, just one running back (Ronald Jones) cracked the century mark, and he didn’t even score. Jones is a must-play RB1 every week, but this may not be one of his bigger games. Williams will likely get 8-10 touches, though as we’ve discussed, they may not be worth a ton, making him a less-than-ideal RB4.
Allen Robinson: Volume is one thing, but extremely bad quarterback play is another. There have been 112 wide receivers who’ve seen 20-plus targets this year. Here are the Bears wide receiver ranks among them: Robinson 79th, Mooney 100th, Miller 101st. Let me be clear, this is a quarterback issue. Their volume is not equal to other wide receivers’ volume. The matchup is an issue, too. Of the fantasy points the Packers have allowed to skill-position players, wide receviers have accounted for just 45.6 percent of it, which is tied for the third-lowest mark in football. The average amount of points it took to finish as a top-12 wide receiver last year was 19.7 PPR points. That’s a mark that just two wide receivers have hit against the Packers, and one was Adam Thielen way back in Week 1. The other was Richie James on that Thursday night game where Jaire Alexander left with a concussion. Outside of those two games, no wide receiver has finished better than WR18 against them. Robinson is sure to get the Alexander treatment, though he did finish with 7/102/0 and 7/125/0 against them last year, even if it did take him 27 targets to get there. Robinson should be viewed as a high-end WR2 this week.
Darnell Mooney: After seeing at least five targets in each of his previous seven games, Mooney saw just two of them against the Vikings injury-plagued defense. Just another reason not to trust the Bears. Their quarterback play is among the worst in the league, and the coaching staff isn’t taking advantage of mismatches. It would help Mooney if Trubisky were to go back under center, as he’s much more accurate down the field than Foles, and we saw that when Taylor Gabriel offered streaming viability in this offense. With Jaire Alexander likely locked onto Allen Robinson, Mooney will see a lot of Kevin King, who has been someone to target with the deep ball, as he’s allowed a robust 15.7 yards per reception in his coverage over the three-plus years he’s been in the league. That’s a span of 169 targets, so it’s a big sample size. Mooney is just a WR5 because of the lack of competence in this offense, but his matchup is a good one.
Anthony Miller: The good news? Miller has finally started to get consistent targets. The bad news? He still hasn’t topped 76 yards and hasn’t scored since way back in Week 3. From Week 8 through Week 10, Miller ranked 11th among wide receivers with 26 targets. Have the Bears started to play him more, or was it a product of more pass plays? Considering he played just 47 percent of the snaps in Week 10, I’m going with the latter. The Packers have been tough on slot receivers and rank seventh in Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric that factors in level of competition. There have been just four wide receivers who’ve topped 66 yards against the Packers, which highlights the need for receptions or touchdowns for receivers to be considered startable, and that’s not something we’ve come to expect out of Miller, who’s topped four receptions just twice this season. Miller is nothing more than a low-ceiling WR5-type option.
Davante Adams: He’s now scored eight touchdowns over the last five games, including at least one in every game. Last week was the first time he’s seen fewer than 10 targets in a full game, though you’ll take eight targets if it amounts to 7/106/1 against one of the better defenses in the league. He’ll have to do it again in Week 12 against a Bears team that’s been among the best in football at limiting wide receiver production. They’ve allowed a ridiculously-low 11.2 receptions per game to wide receivers and have allowed just five touchdowns to them. When you add in the 58.6 percent completion-rate and 7.77 yards per target, they rank as the second-toughest matchup in the league for wide receivers. Kyle Fuller has allowed just 1.07 PPR points per target in his coverage this year, which ranks as the third-lowest mark in football. Fortunately, the Bears don’t shadow, which means Adams will also see plenty of rookie Jaylon Johnson. After playing extremely well at the start of the season, he’s fallen off just a bit over their last six games, allowing 19-of-32 passing for 310 yards and two touchdowns in his coverage. Adams should remain in lineups as a WR1 despite the tough matchup.
Allen Lazard: As expected, Lazard was eased back into the offense, playing 36-of-60 snaps and seeing just four targets. He came out of that game setback-free, so he should be good to go against the Bears. If you’re playing a receiver against the Bears, you need targets, plain and simple. They’ve allowed a league-low 1.52 PPR points per target to the position. However, when we look at Lazard’s matchup a bit closer, it gets better. He’s played in the slot on 54 percent of his snaps, which means he’ll see Buster Skrine more than any other Packers wide receiver. This is a great thing for Lazard, as Skrine has resorted back to his Jets days when he was the cornerback everyone attacked. He’s allowed 40-of-51 passing for 426 yards and four touchdowns in his coverage, with all four of those touchdowns coming over the last four games, so he’s reeling right now. Lazard still needs the targets, but he has a much better matchup than someone like Marquez Valdes-Scantling, making him a WR4/5-type option.
Jimmy Graham: The Vikings had allowed the most yards per target to tight ends coming into the Bears game in Week 10, yet the Bears chose to target Graham twice. Rational coaching thoughts must be thrown out the window at this point in time, as we just can’t rely on them to take advantage of the matchups in the game. Teams have chosen to target their tight ends just 15.3 percent of the time against the Packers, which is the second-lowest number in the league. The production has lacked because of that, as they’ve allowed just 12.3 percent of fantasy production go to them, which is also the second-lowest mark in the league. It’s a shame, too, because when targeted, tight ends have averaged 8.49 yards per target, which ranks as the fourth-highest mark in the league. But again, we can’t forget about the Vikings matchup just two weeks ago. Ugh. Due to the lack of targets, the Packers have allowed just one tight end to crack 10.5 PPR points against them this year, and that was Rob Gronkowski who saw eight targets. Tight ends have averaged 40.9 percent fewer fantasy points against the Packers than they have averaged in non-Packers games, making this the third-worst matchup based on adjusted opponent rank, though much of that comes from lack of targets. Graham is just a middling TE2 who’s finished with 34 yards or less in 8-of-10 games.
Robert Tonyan: He’s the No. 6 tight end on the season, but here’s a fun fact for you. He’s the only tight end inside the top-15 who’s seen fewer than 49 targets this year… he’s seen 37 of them. This year has not been friendly to those who stream tight ends. Sure, Tonyan may be the No. 6 tight end on the season, but he’s finished as a top-12 tight end just four times. While the Bears are one of the worst matchups in the league for offenses as a whole, tight ends have accounted for 22.2 percent of the fantasy production by skill-position players against them, which is the most in the league. Opposing tight ends have averaged 9.3 percent more fantasy points against the Bears than they do on the year, making this the 10th-best schedule adjusted matchup for tight ends. It’s the only positional matchup that’s above average against the Bears. It may not sound like much, but there have been eight tight ends who’ve finished as the TE18 or better against the Bears, which is a rock-solid floor for streamers, making Tonyan a high-end TE2 in this matchup.
Seattle Seahawks at Philadelphia Eagles
Spread: Seahawks -5
Seahawks vs. Eagles Betting Matchup
Russell Wilson: We seemed to go back to the 2019 Seahawks offense in Week 11, where Wilson threw the ball just 28 times. Lack of competition was part of the cause, but you have to wonder if the coaching staff wants to slowly get back to the run-heavy ways after Wilson turned the ball over seven times in the previous four games. On top of that, the running backs are all going to be healthy for this game. Still, Wilson has thrown for two-plus touchdowns in 9-of-10 games and has rushed for 42-plus yards in four of his last six games, so his fantasy value remains in the elite conversation, as he’s still posted 20-plus fantasy points in 9-of-10 games. When you think of the Eagles defense, do you think of an elite unit? Probably not, but they’re close from an efficiency standpoint. There are just six teams who’ve allowed fewer than 1.30 PPR points per offensive play and the Eagles are one of them. The good news is that they’ve allowed 6.44 yards per carry to quarterbacks, which is easily the highest mark in football. Because of that, quarterbacks have totaled 322 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. Wilson is likely going to have to do some dancing, as the Eagles do generate a sack on 9.39 percent of dropbacks, the third-highest mark in the league. Because of that, teams have thrown the ball just 53.5 percent of the time against them, which ranks as the fourth-lowest mark in the league. When they do throw, the Eagles have allowed 7.12 yards per attempt, which is essentially the league average. They’ve also benefitted from touchdown-luck, allowing a touchdown on just 3.96 percent of attempts, which ranks seventh-lowest. One thing you need to know, though, is that the Eagles have had one of the easiest schedules in the league, and that’s proven by the fact that quarterbacks have averaged 4.8 percent more fantasy points against them than they have in their other games. Go ahead and start Wilson as a QB1 and feel relatively confident about it.
Carson Wentz: What do we even say at this point? Wentz has played about as bad as you could imagine, yet he’s still the No. 14 fantasy quarterback. It was a messy game in the rain against the Browns, but they were also without their best pass-rusher. Despite all the hate, Wentz has thrown multiple touchdowns in five of his last six games, though it hasn’t been pretty to watch. Is Wentz just good enough to make it work against the Seahawks, the team who’s allowed 6.5 percent more fantasy points than any other team in the NFL? It sure helps they’ve faced a league-leading 72.1 plays per game, but they’ve also allowed the third-most fantasy points per offensive play. The Eagles have thrown the ball on 63.5 percent of their plays (4th-most) while Seahawks’ opponents have thrown the ball 65.2 percent of the time (most in NFL). The Seahawks haven’t even allowed a high touchdown percentage (4.04 percent, ranks eighth-lowest), but have allowed a massive 7.98 yards per attempt, which ranks as the fifth-highest mark in the league. We know that touchdowns catch on over time, while YPA is the more predictive stat. This matchup should align for a lot of fantasy points, so even if Wentz isn’t efficient, he should put up fantasy production. Jared Goff was the only quarterback who failed to post 16-plus fantasy points and finish as the QB17 or better against the Seahawks, though he still threw for 302 yards, just didn’t get the touchdowns when they got down in the red zone. The Seahawks have actually allowed 8-of-10 quarterbacks to finish as the QB13 or better against them. Wentz is scary as hell to play and you may not want to watch, but he’s a solid high-end QB2 streamer this week.
Chris Carson and Carlos Hyde: I thought Hyde looked fantastic on Thursday night, rumbling through a somewhat depleted Cardinals defense for 95 total yards and a touchdown. Carson was close to playing last week, so he should be ready to rock after another 11 days. How does this timeshare look upon his return? In the three full games they both played, Carson totaled 12, 20, and 17 touches, while Hyde had 7, 7, and 5 touches. Do they even it out a bit more with Carson coming off the multi-week injury? It’s possible. The Eagles have allowed just 3.43 yards per carry on the year, which ranks as the second-lowest number in the league. The Eagles are also one of four teams who’ve yet to allow a receiving touchdown to a running back. Despite running backs averaging 28.0 touches per game against the Eagles (12th-most), they’ve combined for 113.3 total yards per game (8th-fewest), so efficiency will be hard to come by. Nick Chubb was the first running back who topped 81 yards on the ground against them this season, and just the second running back to top 63 yards. Considering no Seahawks running back has totaled more than 18 carries in a game this year, you’re looking for production to come through the air. Carson is the only running back on the team who’s seen more than five targets in a game, so he’s clearly the one we’d look to. There have been just seven running backs who’ve cracked double-digit PPR points against the Eagles and all of them touched the ball at least 14 times. Put Carson in RB2 range for his return, but let’s hope they don’t ease him back in. Hyde is nothing more than a handcuff to Carson right now. If Carson were to sit again, Hyde would step into that low-end RB2 conversation.
Miles Sanders and Boston Scott: The Eagles have now “officially” signed Jordan Howard to the practice squad, so you have to expect they’ll activate him for this game after Doug Pederson said they want a committee approach. It wasn’t too much of a timeshare last week, as Sanders totaled 21 opportunities to just eight of them for Scott, so faith in Sanders is still alive. But again, this is your reminder that in the nine games both Howard and Sanders were active last year, Howard totaled 119 carries and 14 targets (14.8 opportunities per game) while Sanders received 76 carries and 27 targets (11.4 opportunities per game). While I don’t expect that to happen again, there’s a reason they signed Howard. The Seahawks have allowed a ridiculous 114.4 PPR points per game to their opponents. That’s including the quarterback, running backs, wide receivers, and tight ends. Unfortunately, running backs have accounted for only 27.6 percent of that production, but that number has been on the rise as of late. They’ve allowed a rushing touchdown once every 18.5 carries, which is the second-most often, behind only the Raiders. But again, touchdowns are volatile, and the 3.66 yards per carry they’ve allowed is one of the lowest marks in the league. It also hurts to know that teams have chosen to run the ball just 34.8 percent of the time, which is the lowest percentage in the league. Just one running back has been able to accumulate more than 65 yards on the ground against them this season. The good news for B.T. Sanders and Scott is that they’re utilized in the passing game because the Seahawks have allowed 6.5 receptions and 49.6 receiving yards per game to running backs, which are both near the top of the league. Sanders should be considered a high-end RB2 if Howard is left on the practice squad due to his target share. Scott is nothing more than a lackluster RB4.
D.K. Metcalf: If the Seahawks want to get the ball to Metcalf, they can. He continually made Patrick Peterson look slow (he’s not) on Thursday night, and you’re starting to see him become a much better route runner than he was in his rookie season. He’s now averaging a massive 2.42 PPR points per target this season, which ranks second among 72 wide receivers who’ve seen 40-plus targets. The downside of this matchup is that there have been just seven wide receivers who’ve finished with 11.2 or more PPR points against the Eagles this year, which is the number it took to finish as a top-36 wide receiver last year. There’s no other team in the league who’s allowed fewer than nine of those performances. However, do you remember that big breakout performance that Chase Claypool had where he scored three touchdowns? Yeah, that was against the Eagles. He’s big, strong, and fast, but he’s behind Metcalf in all those categories. They’re likely going to shadow Metcalf with Darius Slay, who’s been one of the better cornerbacks in the league over the last few years, though he’s not a complete shutdown cornerback. He does have 4.36-second speed, so it’s unlikely that Metcalf will simply run right by him, but don’t forget Patrick Peterson had 4.34-speed. Slay is likely to cap Metcalf’s ceiling in this game, but let’s not pretend you’re even debating sitting him. He’s one of the few players who can go from bust to stud in one play, and you’d bet on that happening because of who his quarterback is.
Tyler Lockett: I was a little worried about Lockett last week, as he’s not someone who plays well through injuries, but he managed to make it work against the Cardinals, leading the team with nine catches for 67 yards and a touchdown. Sadly, in his last five non-Cardinals matchups, Lockett has failed to top 66 yards or catch a touchdown. Will a matchup with the Eagles be better to him? That’s tough to say because they’ve allowed the sixth-fewest fantasy points through the air to wide receivers. Why do I specify through the air? Well, they’ve allowed a ridiculous 165 yards and three touchdowns on the ground to wide receivers, which props up the overall numbers they’ve allowed to receivers. Lockett is going to see a lot of Nickell Robey-Coleman in coverage, one of the free agents the Eagles brought over this offseason. He hasn’t done a great job in coverage, though, allowing 18-of-21 passing for 213 yards and a touchdowns while in the slot. It’s not like their backup Cre’Von LeBlanc has done better, allowing 18-of-23 passing for 206 yards and a touchdown in the slot. The only slot-heavy receivers who’ve seen more than five targets against them were Tyler Boyd (10/125/0) and Cooper Kupp (5/81/0), so it’s not a matchup to avoid. Lockett should remain in lineups as a low-end WR1/high-end WR2 who does have some volatility, but you’ll live with it.
Jalen Reagor: With how poorly Wentz has played the last two weeks, it’s surprising to see Reagor catch 8-of-12 passes for 99 yards. The upsetting part is that Reagor hasn’t caught a pass of over 18 yards since way back in Week 1. There hasn’t been a lack of deep balls in this offense, but Wentz has completed just 18-of-53 deep attempts, while throwing four touchdowns and five interceptions on them. That’s the third-most deep attempts in football, so give it time. Wide receivers have accounted for a league-leading 66.3 percent target share against the Seahawks. That’s likely why wide receivers have outscored running backs by a league-leading 30.1 PPR points when playing against the Seahawks. Wide receivers have combined to amass 21.3 receptions per game against them. By comparison, there are just nine teams in the league who’ve seen more than 21.0 targets to the position. It certainly helps to know they’ve allowed a robust 72.2 percent completion-rate to receivers, which highlights the fact that all you really need is targets to produce against them. Check this out: There are three primary wide receivers who play against the Seahawks each week. They’ve played 10 games, which makes it 30 wide receivers. Well, 25-of-30 have finished as the WR50 or better. There are also another three non-starters who finished in that territory. 19 of those receivers have finished as the WR26 or better. Seriously, this matchup is good, putting Reagor in the high-end WR4 conversation with a chance to shine.
Travis Fulgham: He’s now seen 12 targets over the last two weeks that have netted just two catches for 16 yards. It makes no sense considering Fulgham was clearly on the same page as Wentz in Weeks 4-8. What happened during their bye week? Sure, Alshon Jeffery is back, but he has barely seen the field. The only good news is that he’s led the team in targets. Wide receivers have racked up 295 targets against the Seahawks, which is easily the most in the NFL. In fact, no other team has seen more than 251 targets. A league-leading 61.1 percent of fantasy production allowed to skill-position players goes to wide receivers against the Seahawks. No other team is above 59.1 percent to the receiver position. That’s led to a ridiculous 259.7 yards per game to receivers alone. There are 18 teams in the NFL who haven’t allowed that many passing yards in general to their opponents. If there’s a matchup that can save Fulgham, it’s this one. The Seahawks have allowed 21 different wide receivers finish as top-36 options against them, which is more than two per game. Fulgham certainly comes with Wentz-risk, but he should be in the WR4 conversation with top-20 upside.
Will Dissly: After witnessing what may have been Greg Olsen‘s final snap as an NFL player, Dissly stepped in and played 43-of-66 snaps in Week 11 while Jacob Hollister played just 13 of them. Dissly is playing the three-down tight end while Hollister is on the field for clear passing situations. This should mean good things for Dissly, who has caught 14-of-17 targets for 163 yards and a touchdown while battling back from an Achilles injury this year. The Eagles have been the sixth-best matchup for tight ends this year, allowing 14.5 PPR points per game to them. They’ve allowed a 77.8 percent catch-rate (2nd-highest), 7.44 yards per target (13th-most), and a touchdown every 12.0 targets (10th-most often), so it’s across the board. What about the competition they’ve played? It hasn’t been that tough, as tight ends have averaged a massive 16.2 percent more fantasy points against the Eagles than they have on the season, making it the sixth-easiest schedule adjusted matchup for tight ends. There’s certainly some risk that Hollister steals some appeal, so we want to be careful, but if you’re playing the showdown slate, Dissly would be my pick among the Seahawks tight ends.
Dallas Goedert: Ahh, that’s more like it. Even though Richard Rodgers stole more production, Goedert was able to catch 5-of-6 targets for 77 yards and a touchdown last week, which was his best game since way back in Week 1. Unfortunately, the matchup this week is among the worst in football for his position. Tight ends have been targeted just 12.4 percent of the time against the Seahawks, which is 2.9 percent less than any other team in the league (the league average is 20 percent). That’s led to tight ends accounting for a league-low 11.3 percent of fantasy production against the Seahawks. To be fair, there’s a lot of production to go around, and there’s no way the Eagles are targeting their tight ends just 12.4 percent of the time. In fact, they’ve received a 26.9 percent target share on the year. The Seahawks have allowed just a 58.2 percent catch-rate to tight ends, but when they do catch the ball, they’ve gone for a league-high 14.3 yards per reception. Because of that, they’re allowing 8.33 yards per target, which is the fifth-highest mark in the league. Still, seeing them allow just 3.2 tight end receptions per game is always concerning. Goedert has received six targets in each of the last two games, and the Eagles figure to be passing even more in this game, so go ahead and play him as a TE1.
Houston Texans at Detroit Lions
Spread: Texans -3
Texans vs. Lions Betting Matchup
Deshaun Watson: We talked about the Patriots being an easier matchup than most think last week, and Watson did not disappoint. He threw for 344 yards and two touchdowns, while adding another 36 yards and a touchdown on the ground. The downside is that he lost Randall Cobb and Kenny Stills during the game to injuries, and given the short week, they’re not likely to be available. Watson was without his starting left tackle Laremy Tunsil last week, and though it didn’t affect him much, it would be good to get him back from the flu he was dealing with. The Lions aren’t generating much pressure, as they’ve sacked the opposing quarterback on just 3.78 percent of dropbacks, the sixth-lowest mark in the league. The downside for quarterbacks against the Lions has been the ease of running the ball, which has led to a pass play on just 54.7 percent of plays against them, the sixth-lowest mark in the league. Fortunately for Watson, the Texans don’t have much of a ground game, so he has dropped back to pass 62.4 percent of the time. When you see that Lions opponents have averaged 67.7 plays per game, and then combine that with the Texans 26.8-point team-implied total, and you have high expectations for Watson. The only opponents Watson has failed to score 20-plus fantasy points against were the Ravens, Steelers, and Browns (50 MPH wind game). Start him as a top-tier QB1.
Matthew Stafford: The injuries to Kenny Golladay, Danny Amendola, and D’Andre Swift proved to be too much for Stafford and the Lions offense to overcome. The Lions didn’t generate a single point and were held to just 185 total yards against the Panthers. It was the first game ever that he’s started and the finished with zero points on the board. He’ll look to bounce back against a Texans team that’s allowed just 18.3 points per game to their opponents over the last three weeks, though it’s worth noting their opponents were the Jaguars, Browns, and Patriots. Teams have only chosen to throw the ball on 53.1 percent of plays against the Texans, which is the third-lowest percentage in the league, but it’s probably the correct thing given how bad their run defense is. However, with the Lions defense being almost equally as bad, it’s possible that the Texans jump out front, which would obviously add value to Stafford’s projection. Despite the lack of big volume, the only quarterbacks who’ve finished with fewer than 17.18 fantasy points against the Texans this year were Kirk Cousins and Baker Mayfield, who combined for just 42 pass attempts. There have been four quarterbacks (including Jake Luton) who’ve thrown for 300-plus yards against them, so this should be considered a bounce-back spot for Stafford, though getting some offensive weapons back would surely help. He should be posted top-18 numbers in this matchup as a floor, though Stafford hasn’t shown much of a ceiling this year, so he stays in high-end QB2 range.
Duke Johnson: We have one more week of David Johnson being held out on injured reserve, which means another week of Duke Johnson as the primary ball carrier for the Texans. Unfortunately, that hasn’t amounted to much of anything. In the two games as the workhorse, Johnson has totaled just 69 yards on 24 carries, and has chipped in with just three catches for 20 yards. We’re finding out why Johnson was never given a workhorse role with the Browns or Texans. Is the matchup too juicy to pass up this week? Against the Lions, running backs have outscored quarterbacks by a league-high 15.39 fantasy points. The Lions have allowed 83.4 PPR points per game to skill-position players (2nd-most), and 41.0 percent of that has gone to the running back position, which is the second-highest percentage in the NFL. They’ve allowed more rushing touchdowns (14) and receiving touchdowns (5) to running backs than any other team in the league. That all amounts to a league-leading 34.2 PPR points per game allowed to running backs. The Lions are bad across the board, as they’ve allowed the second-most points on the ground to running backs and have also allowed the third-most points through the air to them. There is no team in the league who’s seen more weighted opportunity per game to running backs than the Lions. Running backs have averaged a massive 31.4 touches per game against them, so Johnson should be in line for plenty of touches in this game. He should be plugged in as a high-floor RB2 this week with a shot to finish top-12 against this porous defense.
D’Andre Swift (ALERT): After missing a game due to his concussion that popped up mid-week, we should be expecting Swift to be back for this game. In his absence, Adrian Peterson and Kerryon Johnson did nothing to suggest they should have a bigger role moving forward, as they totaled just 35 yards on 13 carries against the Panthers poor run defense. The Texans have allowed more rushing yards than any other team in the league, and it’s not all that close. Running backs have outscored quarterbacks by a massive 11.36 fantasy points when playing against the Texans. The Texans have allowed 83.1 PPR points per game to the combination of running backs, wide receivers, and tight ends, but running backs have accounted for a massive 37.0 percent of that production. It doesn’t hurt to know that their opponents have called a run play 46.9 percent of the time, which is the third-highest mark in the league. They’ve allowed a ridiculous 1,458 yards on the ground this year, while no other team has allowed more than 1,260 yards. It’s not just volume, either. They’ve allowed a league-high 5.38 yards per carry on the season, which is ridiculously bad. In fact, there’s just one other team (Bengals) in the league who’s allowed more than 4.78 yards per carry. There are two teams who’ve allowed more than 180 fantasy points on the ground to running backs and they’re both playing in this game. Fortunately for Swift, the Texans have allowed the most (217.8). Even if Matt Patricia wants to involve Peterson and Johnson a bit, we should have a massive role for Swift, as the Texans have faced a league-high 31.6 running back touches per game. As long as he suits up, Swift should be a plugged-in RB1 this week. *Update* Swift is now out with his concussion. Peterson moves into the high-end RB3 discussion while Johnson can be played as a back-end RB3/high-end RB4. Peterson would benefit from a tightly-contested game, while Johnson would benefit from one where they fall behind.
Will Fuller: Despite the Patriots getting Stephon Gilmore back in the lineup, Fuller was able to rack up six catches for 80 yards while seeing a team-high eight targets. He’s now had 80-plus yards and/or a touchdown in 8-of-10 games this season, making him one of the safest plays week-in and week-out. Now onto a matchup with the Lions who’ve allowed 11 wide receivers to finish top-24 against them this year. The secondary has been getting better as the season goes on, and they rank as the No. 14 defense against opposing No. 1 wide receivers, according to Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric. They’ve had Desmond Trufant do some shadowing in coverage, though it’s tough to say they do that with Fuller/Cooks, as they’re near equal in the offense. Fuller should hope that they do if we’re being honest, as he’s been much worse than Amani Oruwariye in coverage. If they play sides, Fuller would actually see more of Oruwariye, who’s allowed just 1.17 PPR points per target in his coverage, which ranks as the fifth-lowest mark among the 107 cornerbacks who’ve played 150-plus snaps in coverage. You’re starting Fuller regardless of matchup by this point, though he hangs out in the WR2 range this week.
Brandin Cooks: He had his five-game streak of eight-plus targets ended in Week 11 but was still able to total 85 yards. He’s totaled at least 60 yards in five of his last six games, with the one exception being the wind game against the Browns. The Lions were a matchup to target earlier in the season, though they’ve been getting better as the year goes on. If the Lions don’t use Desmond Trufant to shadow Fuller, Cooks will see him a lot in coverage, and that’s a good thing. On the season, he’s allowed 19-of-26 passing for 248 yards and two touchdowns in his coverage. That amounts to 2.17 PPR points per target. The Lions aren’t used to teams throwing on them a whole lot because their run defense is so soft, but we saw what happens when receivers get targeted against them last week; the Panthers trio of receivers combined for 22/243/1. Knowing the targets will be there, Cooks should be in starting lineups as a solid WR3 with upside this week.
Keke Coutee: He’s going to take over the slot role with Randall Cobb out, which has plenty of value in this matchup. The Lions have been abused in the slot this year, as Justin Coleman and Darryl Roberts have combined to allow 35-of-49 passing for 348 yards and three touchdowns. We saw the Panthers take advantage of that last week with Curtis Samuel who racked up eight catches for 70 yards and a touchdown. If you’re looking for a last-minute hail-mary WR5, Coutee could be someone who pays off.
Kenny Golladay: After practicing in a limited fashion last Wednesday, the Lions shut down Golladay on Thursday and Friday, which could’ve been a setback. He’s not likely to play in this game.
Marvin Jones: Despite being without Kenny Golladay, Danny Amendola, and D’Andre Swift, Jones finished with just six targets against the Panthers. The Lions offense has been unpredictable almost all season and that extends to Jones, whose 5.7 targets per game ranks outside the top-50 at the wide receiver position. The matchup against the Texans is great for running backs – we’ve already discussed that – but it’s also wonderful for wide receivers. They’re one of just four teams who’ve allowed 2.0-plus PPR points per target to the wide receiver position. They’re also one of just three teams who’s allowed a 71-plus percent completion-rate to wide receivers. They have Bradley Roby do some shadowing in coverage, but he’s far from untouchable, as he’s allowed a 100.8 QB Rating in his coverage this year. He’s actually better when they keep him on one side of the field, like they’ve done the last two games. He’s been stuck at RCB, which is where Jones plays just 30 percent of his snaps, which means Jones will see plenty of Vernon Hargreaves, who’s been a disappointment throughout his four-plus years in the league, allowing a massive 9.21 yards per target over 332 career targets in coverage. Jones didn’t live up to his WR3 ranking last week, but he should be back in the low-end WR3 conversation this week.
Jordan Akins: Rewind back to last week to my quote: “It blows my mind they don’t utilize their tight ends more, as they’ve been efficient over the last two years.” Adding in last week’s performance, there have now been three games where the Texans have targeted their tight ends more than four times. In those games, the finishing lines were 6/85/1, 7/55/0, and 5/83/0. Will there be more room for tight ends to get targeted with Cobb out of the mix? It’s tough to say yes considering how we have a large sample size of Deshaun Watson not throwing to them. Meanwhile, tight ends have seen just a 15.5 percent target share against the Lions this season which ranks as the third-lowest mark in the league. Tight ends have accounted for just 12.4 percent of the fantasy production the Lions have allowed to skill-position players, which is the third-worst percentage in the NFL. The odd part is that they’ve allowed five top-12 tight ends in their last five games, but it makes more sense when you find out that three of them failed to record more than 18 yards and relied on touchdowns to get there. Without the five touchdowns they’ve allowed, the Lions have allowed just 3.3 receptions and 34.4 yards per game to tight ends, which both rank as the second-fewest in the league. So, you’re looking at a touchdown-or-bust TE2 here with Akins.
T.J. Hockenson: The missing pieces in the Lions offense led to seven targets for Hockenson, who’s now seen 35 targets over his last five games. The 68 yards against the Panthers was his season-high, which is very much in line with what he’s done all season, finishing in-between 53-68 yards in 6-of-10 games. The Texans have not been a matchup to shy away from with tight ends, as they’ve averaged 8.29 yards per target (6th in NFL), a 71.2 percent catch-rate (9th), and 11.64 yards per reception (8th). They’ve allowed just four touchdowns to tight ends, though we know those can be volatile, and Hockenson has done a good job finding them this year (5th among tight ends with five touchdowns). There have been just five tight ends who’ve seen more than three targets against the Texans, and four of them have finished as the TE14 or better, with Tyler Eifert being the only exception. Football Outsiders has the Texans ranked as the seventh-easiest matchup for tight ends on their DVOA metric. Hockenson should be in lineups as a TE1 nearly every week at this point, and this matchup doesn’t scare you away from that.
Washington Football Team at Dallas Cowboys
Spread: Cowboys -3
Football Team vs. Cowboys Betting Matchup
Alex Smith: The Bengals offense lacked potency without Joe Burrow, leading to limited pass attempts out of Smith last week. Because of that, he lacked fantasy appeal. Did you know the Cowboys are allowing a league-leading 31.8 points per game against them? We know Smith has had some trouble throwing touchdowns this year (two touchdowns on 129 pass attempts), but maybe the Cowboys can help with that, as they’ve allowed a league-high 7.14 percent touchdown-rate this year. Just how bad is that? Patrick Mahomes‘ touchdown-rate is 7.22 percent this year. In fact, if you remove all rushing production to quarterbacks and break it down to just passing, the Cowboys have allowed 0.573 fantasy points per actual pass attempt, which is the most in the NFL. The downside is that teams have gone extremely run-heavy against them, as evidenced by the 52.2 percent run-rate, which ranks as the second-highest mark in the league. It’s why Kyle Allen finished with just 25 pass attempts the last time they played, though he was able to throw for 194 yards and two touchdowns on them. All-in-all, there’s been just three quarterbacks who’ve thrown the ball more than 34 times, and they were Russell Wilson, Ben Roethlisberger, and Matt Ryan. When you add in the lackluster 21.5-point team-implied total, Smith is just a low-end QB2 who will need to throw multiple touchdowns to finish better than a middling QB2. There’d be much more hope for his ceiling if we thought the Cowboys could put up a lot of points on the Washington defense, but we don’t.
Andy Dalton: I mentioned last week that you shouldn’t bury Dalton for one bad game as the starter. I mean, everyone has a bad day, though his came on national television when everyone was watching. We had nine seasons worth of competent quarterback play in a worse offense with worse receiving options. We can’t pretend he’s fixed because of one good game, but we never should’ve buried him for one bad game. Throwing for 203 yards and three touchdowns was a start, but now he’ll go against the defense that knocked him out cold back in Week 7 when he completed just 9-of-19 passing for 75 scoreless yards. Washington is one of six teams who’ve allowed fewer than 1.30 PPR points per offensive play, so seeing him struggle in that game shouldn’t have been too shocking. Washington has generated a sack on 9.4 percent of dropbacks, which ranks as the second-highest number in the league, and a lot different than the Vikings last week (nearly half the percentage). On the season, Washington has allowed just four quarterbacks finish better than the QB20 against them, and just one of those games has come since Week 5. In today’s passing league, it’s odd to see a team allow just four quarterbacks to finish with more than 212 passing yards against them, but that’s where we’re at with Washington. Dalton is not someone you should aim to stream on Thanksgiving.
Antonio Gibson and J.D. McKissic: The positive gamescript played right into Gibson’s role last week, as he was able to accumulate 16 carries that amounted to 94 yards and a touchdown. The downside is that they felt the need to give Peyton Barber eight carries. To this point, Washington has hesitated to give Gibson the workload that fantasy managers crave. He’s topped 13 carries just twice all season, though it’s important to note that both those games came over their last four games. In Alex Smith‘s three starts, McKissic has totaled 17 carries and 33 targets, which is more than enough opportunity to be in the fantasy conversation every week. For those keeping track at home, that’s a 29.5 percent target share. This should be interesting because the Cowboys have faced a running back target on a league-low 14.0 percent of pass attempts. They’re also one of just four teams who’ve yet to allow a receiving touchdown to a running back. Even when targeted, they’ve allowed a league-low 4.29 yards per target. In fact, running backs have averaged just 5.2 PPR points per game through the air against the Cowboys, which is easily the lowest mark in the league. Meanwhile, they’ve faced a massive 26.6 carries per game (2nd in NFL), which bodes well for Gibson’s role. That’s happened because teams have chosen a run play on 47.8 percent of plays against them, which ranks as the second-highest rate in the league. Gibson had a career day in their first meeting, racking up 20 carries, 128 yards, and a touchdown. He’s one of seven running backs who’ve finished with 70-plus yards on the ground alone against the Cowboys. There have also been three running backs who’ve scored multiple rushing touchdowns against them. The downside is that Gibson is a road underdog whose team is projected for just 21.5 points, but you have to keep him rolling as a mid-to-high-end RB2 in this matchup. McKissic’s matchup is a bit tougher, though it’s extremely hard to pass on his role with Smith under center. He’s in the low-end RB3 conversation, particularly in PPR formats.
Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard: Coming into last week, Elliott led the league with 16 carries inside the five-yard-line. It was only a matter of time before he started to convert some of those into touchdowns. He scored in Week 11, though it was on a target. He looked extremely good in that game against the Vikings, as his vision was better than I’d seen it all year, and it led to him tallying his first 100-rushing-yard game of the season. It’s going to be tough to repeat that task against Washington, who’s allowed just one running back (Nick Chubb) to finish with more than 86 yards on the ground against them this year. In their first meeting, Elliott was held to just 45 yards on 12 carries and caught just one pass for six yards. That’s been a somewhat common thing against Washington, as D’Andre Swift has been the only running back who’s topped four receptions or 37 receiving yards against them. All in all, they’ve allowed the eighth-fewest fantasy points through the air to running backs, though much of that is due to lack of volume, as they’ve seen just 4.9 targets per game (2nd-fewest in NFL). We’ve talked about touchdowns, right? Well, of the seven running backs who’ve touched the ball 15-plus times against Washington, five have scored with the only exceptions being Devonta Freeman and Kenyan Drake. It’s not a locked-and-loaded RB1-type week for Elliott, but he should remain in lineups as a high-end RB2 who’s locked into 18-plus touches. Washington has faced 26.6 touches per game to running backs, so it doesn’t leave a whole lot for Pollard, who has snuck in five-plus carries in each of the last six games, though that’s not enough to play him as anything more than an emergency RB4.
Terry McLaurin: McLaurin has totaled at least seven targets in each of Smith’s three starts, but why does his target share (21.4 percent) pale in comparison to J.D. McKissic‘s (29.5 percent)? Still, did you know McLaurin is the only receiver in the league who’s seen at least seven targets in every game? That’s why he’s posted at least 11.1 PPR points in 9-of-10 games, including five of them with 17.2-plus points. Despite facing a high run percentage against them (second-highest in NFL), opposing wide receivers have outscored running backs by 21.2 PPR points, which is the third-largest gap in the league. Touchdowns have been hard to come by for McLaurin in this offense, but if there’s a team who can help accommodate him, it’s the Cowboys who’ve allowed a league-high 19 touchdowns to wide receivers (one every 10.4 targets). That’s a big contributing factor to the league-leading 2.13 PPR points per target they’re allowing to the position. When you know McLaurin is locked into seven targets, that’s massive. He should be locked into lineups as a WR1 this week.
Amari Cooper: Despite all the quarterback changes and inconsistencies in this Cowboys offense, Cooper has managed to post at least five catches and 67 yards in 8-of-10 games. He’s lacking that top-five upside he had with Dak Prescott under center, but he’s still a very usable WR2. The Vikings matchup was a great one for the Cowboys, who target their receivers heavily, but the matchup against Washington hasn’t been nearly as kind to receivers. Cooper has a touchdown issue to begin with, so when you add in that they’ve allowed just six wide receiver touchdowns all year, it’s an issue for his projected ceiling. As a team, they’ve seen just 17.8 wide receiver targets per game, and that’s led them to allow the second-fewest fantasy points per game to the position. It’s worth noting that Cooper caught 7-of-7 targets for 80 yards the last time they played in a game the Cowboys threw for just 114 yards. He accounted for 63.6 percent of the receptions and 70.2 percent of the yards. That’s not going to happen again, but it’s clear Cooper can beat their cornerbacks. The problem is ceiling, as Washington has allowed just three top-20 wide receivers this year, and each of them saw at least nine targets. He’s the best play on the Cowboys, but he’s still stuck in high-end WR3 territory.
CeeDee Lamb: It’s now been 10 straight games where Lamb has totaled five-plus targets, and he’s one of just 11 wide receivers who can say they’ve seen at least five targets in every one of their games this year. He’s also totaled at least 10.9 PPR points in 8-of-10 games, which is essentially a WR3-type floor. The concern is that he’s finished with 34 or less yards in 3-of-4 games since Dak Prescott‘s departure. Unfortunately, one of the games he didn’t reach that 10.9-point mark was against Washington, his Week 12 opponent. In fact, he didn’t catch a single pass in that game. That was the only game this year he didn’t catch at least four balls. Jimmy Moreland has done a much better job covering the slot than anyone would’ve expected, as he’s allowed just 22-of-31 passing for 176 yards and no touchdowns in his coverage. The 0.97 yards per snap in coverage he’s allowed ranks as the sixth-lowest mark among the 35 cornerbacks with 100-plus slot snaps. Lamb has been ultra-dependent on touchdowns lately, but Washington has allowed just six of them on the year, so it’s not a great time to bet on that. He’s earned the right to remain in the WR3/4 conversation, but he’s not a must-start in this matchup.
Michael Gallup: He’s now finished with 50 or less yards in 6-of-10 games this year. He’s had just one game with more than 73 yards and that was against the Seahawks, you know, the team who’s allowed 355.1 passing yards per game. You essentially need a smash spot to consider him, and his Week 12 matchup is hardly that, as Washington has allowed the second-fewest PPR points per game to wide receivers. They’ve allowed just nine wide receivers to crack 60 yards against them this season, and judging by Gallup’s team-high 13.4 air yards per target, it won’t help him succeed while the Washington front seven is swallowing Dalton. He’s going to have a big performance somewhere along the line because he’s had that one-play upside, but more often than not, the process to playing him will be incorrect. The last time these two teams played, he saw just two targets and finished with zero yards. He’s just a WR5 in fantasy leagues right now.
Logan Thomas: We continually say, “Thomas has seen at least four targets in every game, which is stability you can’t find at the tight end position.” Unfortunately, that needs to turn into fantasy points at some point, otherwise, there’s no point. Thomas has finished with at least three catches in 8-of-10 games, but he’s finished with more than 42 yards just twice. Fortunately, one of those games came against the Cowboys when he caught all four of his targets from Kyle Allen for 60 yards and a touchdown. The downside is that just 32 percent of the pass attempts the Cowboys opponents have been thrown have been directed at running backs or tight ends, which typically have a high correlation. With J.D. McKissic eating up so many of those targets (29 percent target share under Smith), it’s tough to say Thomas will see more than five targets. The good news is that there have been just six tight ends who’ve seen four-plus targets against the Cowboys, and five of them have finished as top-10 tight ends, with the only exception being Tyler Higbee who still managed to catch 3-of-4 passes for 40 yards. Thomas is in the high-end TE2 conversation as someone who at least comes with a decent floor.
Dalton Schultz: Similar to the tight end on the other sideline, Schultz has had a consistent role in his offense and has seen at least four targets in 9-of-10 games, including six-plus targets in six of them. He hasn’t topped 53 yards since way back in Week 4, so his ceiling is a bit limited with all the receivers they have, but it’s hard to find tight ends who average 6.1 targets per game. Everyone on the Cowboys offense struggled the last time these two teams played, and Schultz was no exception, finishing with just two catches for 22 yards. The good news is that against Washington, tight ends have averaged a 23.1 percent target share, which is tied as the third-most in the league. When you break down where the fantasy production to skill-position players goes against Washington, you’ll see that tight ends account for 21.4 percent of it, which ranks as the second-most in the league. There have been just four tight ends who’ve topped 30 yards, so it’s far from a guarantee, but given his target share, Schultz deserves mid-to-high-end TE2 consideration.