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The Primer: Week 12 Edition (2022 Fantasy Football)

by Derek Brown | @dbro_ffb | Featured Writer
Nov 24, 2022
The Primer: Week 12 Edition (2022 Fantasy Football)

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Los Angeles Rams vs. Kansas City Chiefs

Pace and playcalling notes

  • With Matthew Stafford out, the Rams’ passing rate projection is up in the air, but I expect them to move slowly still (27th in neutral pace).
  • The Chiefs are a beautiful offense from top to bottom, ranking seventh in neutral pace and second in neutral passing rate. Even once they build a lead, they will keep throwing. Kansas City is ninth in positive game script passing rate.

Quarterbacks

Bryce Perkins: Perkins has been taking first-team reps all week, while John Wolford has been limited (neck). It doesn’t really matter who is starting for the Rams this week. Matthew Stafford is a superior talent to anyone else on this depth chart, and he’s been a broken QB2 this season. Perkins or Wolford would be nothing more than a low-end QB2 as a desperate start in Superflex. Since Week 6, Kansas City has been giving to quarterbacks ranking 25th in passing yards per game, 20th in EPA per drop back, and 30th in explosive pass rate allowed.

Patrick Mahomes: Mahomes remains otherworldly. He’s second in PFF passing grade, 12th in big-time throw rate, eighth in adjusted completion rate, and third in yards per attempt (minimum 100 dropbacks) as the QB1 in fantasy. Since Week 6, the Rams have been 19th in passing yards per game and 19th in EPA per dropback. Los Angeles is 31st in pressure rate, which should give Mahomes all the time he needs to wind up and go deep. If he does, the Rams are crushed, as they are 11th in deep completion rate and 29th in DVOA against deep passing. Mahomes is seventh in deep ball completion rate.

Running Backs

Week 11

Player Rushing attempts Targets Routes Red zone opportunities
Cam Akers 14 0 0 0
Kyren Williams 7 2 23 1

 

Cam Akers: Last week, Akers played the early down grinder role seeing 14 carries, matching his season-high 61 rushing yards, and playing 39% of the snaps. Akers has shown some life over the last two weeks with 3.07 and 3.67 yards after contact per attempt marks, but his season-long numbers are still dreadful. Akers ranks 52nd in yards after contact per attempt, and he hasn’t recorded a breakaway run this season. Kansas City is a defense that can be run on. Since Week 6, they are fifth in yards per carry (5.0), 20th in EPA per rush, and 24th in rushing success rate allowed. Akers is a low-ceiling RB3/4.

Kyren Williams: If choosing a back from this backfield, it should be Williams. Last week he played 55% of the snaps with eight touches and 44 total yards while operating as the passing down back. His 3.63 yards after contact per attempt is encouraging, but take it with a grain of salt, as it’s only with an eight carry sample size. Kansas City is 27th in DVOA against receiving backs allowing the second-most receptions and third-most receiving yards. Williams is a viable PPR flex/RB4.

Week 11

Player Rushing attempts Targets Routes Red zone opportunities
Isiah Pacheco 15 0 0 1
Jerick McKinnon 6 1 17 2

 

Isiah Pacheco: Over the last two weeks, Pacheco has averaged 48% of the snaps with 15.5 rushing attempts and 94.5 rushing yards. The issue so far is he hasn’t scored a touchdown, as McKinnon is seeing more red zone usage, and he has absolutely zero passing game role. Pacheco has been effective with his early down work, ranking 24th in yards after contact per attempt and 26th in breakaway rate (minimum 25 carries). The Rams continue to bottle up running backs ranking fourth in rushing yards per game, sixth in EPA per rush, and third in explosive run rate allowed since Week 6. Pacheco is a touchdown-dependent RB3/4.

Jerick McKinnon: Although McKinnon’s targets dried up after back-to-back games with eight targets, he retains the passing back role. He’s also the team’s trusted red zone back. McKinnon has a 9.0% target share (26th) and ranks 26th in yards per route run. McKinnon is a low-end flex against a team that’s allowed the tenth-highest yards per reception and 14th-most receptions to running backs. The loss of Clyde Edwards-Helaire could slightly bump up the volume for both of these backs as it’s now a two person backfield.

Wide Receivers

Allen Robinson: Last week, Robinson secured a touchdown to finish as the WR18 for the week. Robinson still hasn’t logged a game of at least 70 receiving yards all season. He has a 15.2% target share and ranks fourth among wide receivers in red zone targets (only three touchdowns). Robinson is on his last leg, ranking 109th in yards after the catch and 87th in yards per route run. Robinson is a WR5 that will run about 72% of his routes against Trent McDuffie (61.5% catch rate, 77.4 passer rating) and Joshua Williams (68.2% catch rate, 130.7 passer rating). Robinson is nursing an ankle injury which has led to limited practices all week and a questionable tag.

Van Jefferson: Last week, Jefferson saw a 91% route run rate declaring himself a full-time player in the offense. Since Week 9, he has had a 14.4% target share, 33.3% end zone target share, and 1.13 yards per route run. Jefferson has only one red zone look over his last three games. Jefferson is a deep league flex who will run about half his routes against McDuffie and Williams.

JuJu Smith-Schuster: Smith-Schuster practiced in full all week and carries no injury designation into this game. Smith-Schuster finished as a WR1 (WR7, WR8, WR4) in his last three full games tied to Patrick Mahomes. In those contests, he handled a 19.1% target share (8.3 targets per game) with a 20.1% air yard share. He averaged 108.3 receiving yards with 2.54 yards per route run. Smith Schuster is a WR2 that will run about 61% of his routes against Jalen Ramsey (70.9% catch rate, 116.5 passer rating) and Troy Hill (71.4% catch rate, 102.5 passer rating).

Kadarius Toney: Toney has been ruled out. 

Marquez Valdes-Scantling: Valdes-Scantling is the WR68 in fantasy points per game. He’s only managed a 12.5% target share (75th) and a 14.7% target per route run rate (90th). He has three weeks this season as a WR2 or better in fantasy and six weeks outside the top 50 fantasy wide receivers. Valdes-Scantling is a WR5 that will run about 64% of his routes against Ramsey and Hill.

Tight Ends

Tyler Higbee: Higbee is the TE10 in fantasy. He’s a TE1 weekly based on projected volume. He has a 21.3% target share (7.3 targets per game) and 11.4% air yard share (20th). Higbee is 14th in red zone targets, and 17th in yards per route run among tight ends. Kansas City is 17th in DVOA against tight ends allowing the tenth-highest yards per reception. 

Travis Kelce: Kelce doesn’t look like he’s slowing down anytime soon. Kelce is the TE1 in fantasy with a 25.0% target share (third), 27.6% target per route run rate (third), and 21.9% air yard share (third). Kelce is sixth in deep targets and first in red zone looks. Kelce is first in yards per route run. Los Angeles is 23rd in DVOA against tight ends allowing the eighth-highest yards per reception.

TB vs. CLE | CIN vs. TEN | HOU vs. MIA | CHI vs. NYJ | ATL vs. WAS | DEN vs. CAR | BAL vs. JAC | LAC vs. ARI | LV vs. SEA | LAR vs. KC | NO vs. SF | GB vs. PHI | PIT vs. IND | BUF vs. DET | NYG vs. DAL | NE vs. MIN

New Orleans Saints vs. San Francisco 49ers

Pace and playcalling notes

  • Another slow and rushing-filled game is incoming. New Orleans and San Francisco are 23rd and 30th in neutral pace and ranked 13th and 14th in neutral rushing rates.

Quarterbacks

Andy Dalton: Dalton is a QB2 in a tough matchup. Dalton is the QB20 in fantasy points per game with two QB1 outings. He’s played well for the most part, ranking 13th in fantasy points per dropback, ninth in true completion rate, and ninth in yards per attempt. Since Week 6, excluding their shellacking from Patrick Mahomes, the 49ers are eighth in passing yards per game, tenth in EPA per drop back, and ninth in explosive pass rate. They’ve allowed the seventh-fewest fantasy points per game to quarterbacks this season.

Jimmy Garoppolo: Garoppolo is a borderline QB1. He’s been a top-12 fantasy quarterback in four of his last six games. Garoppolo has been playing point guard well for the 49ers, ranking 11th in fantasy points per dropback, fourth in yards per attempt, and 13th in money throws. Since Week 6, despite their myriad of injuries, the Saints have kept quarterbacks in check. They have held passers to the seventh-fewest passing yards per game, seventh-lowest explosive pass rate, and ninth-lowest yards per attempt. A plus for Garoppolo is that the Saints rank 29th in pressure rate, so he should have plenty of time to get the ball to his playmakers this week.

Running Backs

Alvin Kamara: Kamara is averaging 18.6 touches and 99.6 total yards per game as the RB11 in fantasy. After scoring three touchdowns in Week 8, he’s returned to the touchdown dessert with zero six-point dances since. Kamara might not be at his peak anymore, but he’s still playing well. He ranks 14th in yards per touch, sixth in yards per route run, and 28th in evaded tackles. Kamara has commanded a 20.3% target share (third) while ranking third in receptions and receiving yards among running backs. Kamara is an RB1 in a brutal matchup. Since Week 6, San Francisco has been sixth in rushing success rate, fifth in rushing yards per game, and eighth in explosive run rate allowed. They have given up the third-fewest fantasy points per game in that period.

Christian McCaffrey: Since becoming a full-time starter in the 49ers’ offense, McCaffrey has averaged 19.3 touches and 110.7 with RB2, RB11, and RB11 fantasy outings. Since Week 7 (minimum 15 rushing attempts), McCaffrey is 46th in yards after contact per attempt, 15th in breakaway rate, and 44th in PFF’s elusive rating. These aren’t exactly pretty numbers. While those metrics aren’t peachy, McCaffrey’s 26.5% target share (since Week 8) and 2.37 yards per route run are still elite marks. The Saints’ defense has faltered this year. Since Week 6, they are 21st in rushing yards per game, 27th in EPA per rush, and 22nd in explosive run rate allowed. McCaffrey is a no-doubt RB1.

Elijah Mitchell: Since his return, Mitchell has averaged 11 rushing attempts and 63 rushing yards. Outside of his insane seven red zone carries in Week 10, he’s only seen one rushing attempt inside the 20-yard line. Mitchell looks explosive, though, ranking 16th in yards after contact per attempt and 16th in PFF’s elusive rating (since Week 7, minimum 15 carries). Mitchell is an RB4.

Wide Receivers

Chris Olave: Olave got back on track last week with 102 receiving yards as the WR7. Olave remains a rookie sensation deserving of all the hype. He’s 18th in target share (25.8%), 12th in target per route run rate (28.3%), and fourth in air yard share (40.2%). He also leads the NFL in deep targets while ranking 11th in yards per route run. Olave can toast this secondary that’s 31st in DVOA against deep passing giving up the 11th-highest deep completion rate. Olave will run about 71% of his routes against Deommodore Lenoir (77.3% catch rate, 101.5 passer rating) and Charvarius Ward (59.6% catch rate, 82.3 passer rating). Olave is a WR2.

Jarvis Landry: In his second game back from injury, Landry only managed a 14.8% target share, 59.4% route run rate, and 21% target per route run rate. Those marks aren’t nearly high enough to consider starting a wide receiver with a 9.2 aDOT. Monitor Landry’s usage this week, but he’s a must-sit for now.

Brandon Aiyuk: Aiyuk is up to WR20 in fantasy points per game, as he’s having a fantastic season. Aiyuk has a 22.5% target share and 28.5% air yard share with nine red zone targets (22nd). He’s been a top-20 wide receiver with at least 80 receiving yards in four of his last five games. He’s 13th in PFF receiving grade and 27th in yards per route run (minimum 25 targets). Aiyuk is a WR2.

Deebo Samuel: Samuel is the WR17 in fantasy with a 26.6% target share (13th), 30.3% target per route run rate (ninth), and nine red zone targets (22nd). He’s still operating in his short-area role with a 4.6 aDOT (96th) as he ranks fifth in yards after the catch. Samuel is a WR2 that will have some volatility, considering the low aDOT role he’s in and the 49ers limited passing volume.

Tight Ends

Juwan Johnson: Johnson is the TE13 in fantasy with top ten tight end weeks in four of his last five games (TE2, TE8, TE4, TE6). This could be another top-ten week against a tough defense against tight ends. Johnson has a 13.3% target share and ranks 23rd in yards per route run. His high-value usage has been nice, with five deep targets (ninth) and seven red zone looks (11th). The 49ers are ninth in DVOA against tight ends, but Johnson’s hybrid role precludes him from usual tight end analysis. Johnson will run nearly half his routes (48%) from the slot where he’ll meet Jimmie Ward. Ward has been dreadful at defending the slot allowing all 23 targets in his coverage to be secured with a 113.2 passer rating. Johnson is a TE1.

George Kittle: Last week Kittle crushed the ultimate matchup for tight ends, but this week won’t be like that. Kittle will need every bit of his 19.4% target share (eighth) and 15.8% air yard share (eighth) to turn in a solid day. Kittle is seventh in yards per route run and sixth in YAC. The Saints are first in DVOA against tight ends, holding them to the lowest catch rate, eighth-lowest yards per reception, and only one receiving touchdown. Kittle is a TE1, but don’t expect smash numbers this week.

TB vs. CLE | CIN vs. TEN | HOU vs. MIA | CHI vs. NYJ | ATL vs. WAS | DEN vs. CAR | BAL vs. JAC | LAC vs. ARI | LV vs. SEA | LAR vs. KC | NO vs. SF | GB vs. PHI | PIT vs. IND | BUF vs. DET | NYG vs. DAL | NE vs. MIN

Green Bay Packers vs. Philadelphia Eagles

Pace and playcalling notes

  • The Eagles will push the pace and run the ball heavily. They are eighth in neutral pace and fifth in neutral rushing rate.
  • Green Bay has always been slow (28th in neutral pace), but their neutral passing rate is falling (down to 15th).

Quarterbacks

Aaron Rodgers: Well, the news of Rodgers’ broken thumb can at least explain his play which, to be honest, has still been good. Rodgers has been a better real-life quarterback than a fantasy asset this year. He’s the QB21 in fantasy points per game with only two QB1 performances. Rodgers is ninth in PFF passing grade, fourth in big-time throw rate, and tenth in true passer rating, so the fantasy production and his real-life ability aren’t matching up. This is another week as a QB2 for Rodgers. The Eagles’ pass defense is still elite. Since Week 6, the Eagles are fourth in success rate per dropback, third in EPA per drop back, and allowing the lowest fantasy points per game to quarterbacks.

Jalen Hurts: Hurts is the QB3 in fantasy, ranking third in PFF passing grade, second in yards per attempt, and first in adjusted completion rate. Last week’s 86 rushing yards was nice to see because he hadn’t surpassed 50 yards on the ground since Week 5. Hurts is fourth in rushing yards, first in red zone carries per game, and first in rushing touchdowns (eight) among quarterbacks. Hurts is a top-five fantasy option weekly. The Packers’ defense isn’t one to fear. Since Week 6, they are 19th in success rate per dropback, 16th in passing yards per game, and 16th in EPA per dropback.

Running Backs

Aaron Jones: Jones has not played less than 66% of the snaps when healthy since Week 6. In his last four full games, he has averaged 21.2 touches and 112.2 total yards. Jones is the RB12 in fantasy, ranking ninth in weighted opportunities, 18th in fantasy points per opportunity, and 16th in snap share. Jones is one of the most explosive backs in the NFL, sitting at 11th in juke rate, fourth in evaded tackles, and fourth in breakaway runs. The Eagles’ run defense additions did little to slow down Jonathan Taylor last week, and Jones should carve them up in Week 12. Since Week 6, they are 25th in rushing yards per game, 30th in EPA per rush, and second in rushing success rate. Jones is an RB1.

A.J. Dillon: Since Week 8, Dillon has averaged 11 touches and 48.8 total yards. Dillon hasn’t scored a touchdown since Week 1. He’s remained involved in the red zone with four carries inside the 20 over his last four games. His season has been utterly disappointing, as he’s the RB47 in fantasy points per game. He’s 38th in yards created per touch, 44th in breakaway run rate, and 46th in yards per touch. Dillon is an RB4.

Miles Sanders: Sanders has seen his usage dip, with only one game over 13 carries over his last four. Sanders is the RB22 in fantasy averaging 16.8 touches and 80 total yards. Sanders is 11th in red zone touches and due for a score, as he hasn’t gotten into the end zone in the last two games. He’s 22nd in evaded tackles, 26th in breakaway runs, and 18th in true yards per carry. This is the bounceback matchup for Sanders. Since Week 6, the Packers are 27th in rushing yards per game, 25th in EPA per rush, and 21st in explosive run rate. Sanders is a strong RB2.

Wide Receivers

Allen Lazard: Lazard is the WR23 in fantasy with a 21.9% target share from Rodgers and 33.3% of the team’s air yards. He’s fifth in deep targets and ninth in red zone targets. Lazard is 27th in PFF receiving grade and 37th in yards per route run (minimum 25 targets). Lazard is a talented wide receiver, but not up to the skill level to overcome top-corner matchups. Trevon Diggs was able to shut him down in Week 10. Lazard’s best hope for a solid day is that 46.2% of his target volume comes via the slot away from Darius Slay (50% catch rate, 51.0 passer rating) and James Bradberry (44.8% catch rate, 43.7 passer rating). Lazard will run about 57% of his routes on the perimeter against this tandem, so he better make the slot targets count. Lazard is a low-end WR2/high-end WR3.

Christian Watson: Since Week 10, Watson has had a 24.6% target share, a 75% end zone target share, a 45.4% air yard share, and 3.1 yards per route run. He’s that dude. This week’s matchup will put him to the test with his releases and using his speed versus this tough corner duo. Watson will run about 65% of his routes against Bradberry and Slay but don’t discount the Packers’ ability to move him around. Watson has three games this season where he’s played at least 40% of his snaps from the slot. Watson is a WR3.

Randall Cobb: The Packers didn’t waste any time tossing Cobb back into the mix last week in his first game action since Week 6. Cobb played 56% of the snaps with a 15.8% target share and a 63% route run rate. Cobb caught all six of his targets for 73 receiving yards. When he’s been on the field this year, he’s looked like the Cobb of old. He’s 11th in PFF receiving grade and 15th in yards per route run (minimum 25 targets). Cobb could see a spike in his usage this week to take advantage of Josiah Scott (71.4% catch rate, 120.3 passer rating) in the slot (Cobb 83% slot). Cobb is a WR4/5.

A.J. Brown: Brown didn’t look limited last week, playing 88% of the snaps and snagging five of his seven targets for 60 yards. Brown is the WR11 seeing a 29.3% target share (seventh), 30.8% target per route run rate (seventh), and 39.9% air yard share (fifth). Brown ranks third in yards per route run and eighth in red zone targets. He’ll run about 75% of his routes against Jaire Alexander (58.7% catch rate, 71.1 passer rating) and Rasul Douglas (71.8% catch rate, 87.9 passer rating). Brown is a low-end WR1/high-end WR2.

DeVonta Smith: This could be another week of Smith leading the way against soft zone coverage. Last week Alexander and Douglas operated in zone on 70.6-72.7% of their snaps. Last week against the zone-heavy Colts, Smith led the team in targets, receptions, and receiving yards. Smith is a smooth operator against zone with 58.8% of his target volume against zone as he ranks 15th in PFF receiving grade and 17th in yards per route run (minimum ten zone targets). Smith has a 25.4% target share and a 28.4% air yard share. He’ll run about 78% of his routes against Alexander and Douglas as a low-end WR2/high-end WR3.

Tight Ends

Robert Tonyan: Tonyan is a weekly TE2. Since Week 8, he has had an 11.8% target share and 53.1% route run rate. His usage has been all over the map all season without much rhyme or reason. Tonyan has one red zone target over his last six games. The Eagles are 12th in DVOA against tight ends, limiting them to the third-lowest catch rate and tenth-lowest yards per reception.

TB vs. CLE | CIN vs. TEN | HOU vs. MIA | CHI vs. NYJ | ATL vs. WAS | DEN vs. CAR | BAL vs. JAC | LAC vs. ARI | LV vs. SEA | LAR vs. KC | NO vs. SF | GB vs. PHI | PIT vs. IND | BUF vs. DET | NYG vs. DAL | NE vs. MIN

Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Indianapolis Colts

Pace and playcalling notes

  • The Steelers continue to surprise, ranking ninth in neutral pace and 13th in neutral passing rate.
  • Indy is 16th and 23rd in neutral pace and passing rate over the last two weeks.

Quarterbacks

Kenny Pickett: Pickett is a QB2 against a tough Colts’ pass defense. Pickett is 31st in PFF passing grade and 24th in adjusted completion rate with a 3:8 passing touchdown to interception ratio. His only top 12 week came against the Saints because he rushed for 51 yards with a rushing score. Pickett hasn’t crossed the 7.0 yards per attempt threshold since Week 4. Since Week 6, the Colts are fifth in passing yards per game, eighth in EPA per drop back, and 12th in explosive pass rate.

Matt Ryan: Since returning to the huddle, Ryan has QB5 and QB22 performances. Since Week 10, he’s 16th in PFF passing grade, 17th in yards per attempt, and 13th in adjusted completion rate. This is a matchup for Ryan to post some nice stats if the Colts can keep him clean. Since Week 6, the Steelers are 29th in EPA per dropback, 28th in passing yards per game, and 32nd in explosive pass rate allowed. If you’re looking for a QB to stream with sneaky upside, it’s Ryan.

Running Backs

Najee Harris: Last week, Harris played 92% of the snaps with 24 touches, 116 total yards, and two scores. This was arguably Harris’s best game of the season. Since Week 7, he’s started to show some of the form that made fantasy GMs want to draft him early this year. Over his last four games, he’s 24th in yards after contact per attempt, immediately behind Kenneth Walker, 18th in breakaway rate, and 17th in PFF’s elusive rating. Harris could flirt with 25 touches this week. Since Week 6, the Colts are 21st in rushing success rate, 17th in rushing yards per game, and 16th in explosive run rate. Harris is an RB2 with RB1 upside.

Jaylen Warren: Warren didn’t practice on Thursday or Friday. Consider him likely to be out this week.

Jonathan Taylor: After playing 94% of the snaps in Week 10 as a true every-down bell cow, Taylor played 75% of the snaps in Week 11 with 25 touches and 94 total yards. Taylor finally looks healthy. Since Week 7, he’s 19th in yards after contact per attempt, 14th in breakaway rate, and 20th in PFF’s elusive rating (minimum 15 carries). His yards after contact per attempt has risen (from 2.56 to 3.18) in each of the last three games. Taylor is a volume-based RB1 this week in a tough spot. Since Week 6, the Steelers are third in rushing yards per game, fifth in EPA per rush, and 17th in fantasy points per game allowed to running backs.

Wide Receivers

Diontae Johnson: Over the last two games without Chase Claypool, Johnson has seen his target share dip to 15.6%, with a 25% end zone target share, 16.5% air yard share, and 1.05 yards per route run. Johnson has been a floor play all season as the WR45 in fantasy points per game, but the floor has fallen out now. He hasn’t finished as a WR3 or better since Week 5. The Steelers have force-fed him 11 red zone targets since Week 5, and Johnson still doesn’t have a touchdown this season. Johnson is a WR4 that will run about 89% of his routes against Stephon Gilmore (59.3% catch rate, 75.6 passer rating) and Brandon Facyson (72.7% catch rate, 110.0 passer rating).

George Pickens: Since Week 10, Pickens has a 15.6% target share averaging 57.5 receiving yards with 1.53 yards per route run. He was the WR26 and WR11 over the last two weeks. Pickens only has two red zone looks over his last four games, and it hasn’t mattered as he’s scored twice in that period. Pickens is a WR3 that will run about 87% of his routes against Gilmore and Facyson. Pickens has outproduced Johnson since taking off in Week 4 with four WR2 or better weeks.

Michael Pittman: With Ryan back under center, Pittman has a 26.7% target share, 33.1% air yard share, and 2.17 yards per route run. The problem for Pittman all season is that it’s all hollow volume. Pittman has only one deep target and six red zone targets all season. Pittman has been targeted once inside the 20-yard line since Week 4. That’s egregious. Pittman is a WR3 that will run about 73% of his routes against Cameron Sutton (57.5% catch rate, 83.7 passer rating) and Levi Wallace (57.1% catch rate, 76.0 passer rating).

Parris Campbell: In Matt Ryan‘s last four starts, Campbell has a 24.1% target share, 40% end zone target share, and 1.73 yards per route run. Campbell finished as the WR9, WR5, WR11, and WR32 in those games, with at least 57 receiving yards each week. In that four-game span, he has four red zone targets. Campbell is a WR3 with huge upside running 78% of his routes against Arthur Maulet (73.5% catch rate, 119.9 passer rating). Pittsburgh has allowed the most fantasy points per game to opposing slot wide receivers.

Alec Pierce: Hello, Mr. Pierce. Last week he saw a 25.8% target share and 47.6% air yard share while seeing an 88.9% route run rate. Pierce only has a 13.8% target share this season, so he’s not someone I’m rushing to jam into lineups, but if you’re in deep leagues, he’s worth flex consideration. He’s been the Colts’ deep weapon with ten deep targets. The Steelers are ninth in deep passing yards, with the most deep passing touchdowns allowed.

Tight Ends

Pat Freiermuth: Since the departure of Claypool, Freiermuth has been a volume hog with a 29.7% target share (9.5 targets per game), 25% end zone target share, and 32% air yard share. Freiermuth’s breakout has quietly been happening all season. He’s sixth in PFF receiving grade and tenth in yards per route run (minimum 15 targets). Freiermuth is the TE7 with the second-most deep targets among tight ends. Indy is 27th in DVOA against tight ends allowing the third-highest catch rate to the position. Freiermuth is a top-five tight end.

TB vs. CLE | CIN vs. TEN | HOU vs. MIA | CHI vs. NYJ | ATL vs. WAS | DEN vs. CAR | BAL vs. JAC | LAC vs. ARI | LV vs. SEA | LAR vs. KC | NO vs. SF | GB vs. PHI | PIT vs. IND | BUF vs. DET | NYG vs. DAL | NE vs. MIN

Buffalo Bills vs. Detroit Lions

Pace and playcalling notes

  • Buffalo continues to move quickly (11th in neutral pace) while relying on Josh Allen‘s arm (fifth in neutral passing rate).
  • Detroit is middle of the pack regarding pace (17th) while they have leaned on their ground game more (24th in neutral passing rate).

Quarterbacks

Josh Allen: Over the last two weeks, Allen has still been good but not at his usual fantasy god status. Since Week 10, Allen has ranked tenth in PFF passing grade, 16th in yards per attempt, 16th in adjusted completion rate, and seventh in big-time throw rate (minimum 20 dropbacks). Even a less than 100% Allen is still a must-start weekly stud especially facing the hapless Detroit secondary. Since Week 5, the Lions are giving up the sixth-highest success rate per dropback and tenth-highest EPA per dropback. Allen should have no issues churning out big plays downfield when he fires it deep. Allen is third in deep ball attempts and sixth in deep completion rate. The Lions are seventh in deep completion rate and second in deep passing yards allowed.

Jared Goff: Goff hasn’t sniffed a QB1 performance since Week 4. Over his last six games, he has only one game inside the top 16 for fantasy quarterbacks (QB14, Week 8 vs. MIA). Since Week 5, he’s been woefully mediocre and risk-averse, ranking 35th in PFF passing grade, 26th in big-time throw rate, and 37th in aDOT (minimum 20 dropbacks). The Bills have relented some in pass defense, permitting the 11th-highest success rate per dropback and EPA per dropback since Week 5. This is better news for Goff’s pass catchers and the offense overall than a trend that could push Goff into the fringe QB1 conversation. Goff is a weekly QB2.

Running Backs

Devin Singletary: The team traded for Nyheim Hines and he hasn’t remotely been a threat to Singletary’s workload. Since Week 9 he’s played at least 72% of the snaps in every game averaging 15.3 touches and 64 total yards. Singletary has finished as the RB24, RB12, and RB10 in those weeks. Singletary is a volume play on one of the league’s best offenses. Singularly he has been woefully inefficient all season ranking 41st in yards after contact per attempt, 31st in breakaway rate, and 38th in PFF’s elusive rating (minimum 25 rushing attempts). The Lions have improved their run defense since Week 9. Over their last three games they are 20th in run defense DVOA holding running backs to 3.3 yards per carry. Singletary is an RB2.

James Cook: Last week Cook saw his second-highest snap count (16) of the season with 13 opportunities (11 carries) and 86 rushing yards. Cook has quietly been one of the most explosive rushers in the NFL when he’s been called upon. Among all rushers with at least 25 carries, he’s sixth in yards after contact per attempt and first in PFF’s elusive rating. Cook is a desperate deep league flex who could break a big run and payoff or easily finish with fewer than five fantasy points.

Nyheim Hines: Hines can be dropped in all formats. Last week he saw a season-high in snaps with the Bills with just ten. Hines hasn’t recorded more than two opportunities in any game since arriving in Buffalo.

Jamaal Williams: Since Swift returned to the huddle, Williams has remained the Lions’ primary back. He’s averaged 17.6 touches and 70.1 total yards. His value is entirely based on touchdowns and early down work. He hasn’t drawn a target since Week 8. Williams has been a touchdown monster who leads the NFL in rushing touchdowns and carries inside the five-yard line. He’s scored in six of ten games with five multiple-touchdown outings. Williams has been this season’s James Conner as a touchdown-vulturing fantasy superstar. He’s 48th in yards after contact per attempt, 46th in breakaway run rate, and 60th in PFF’s elusive rating (minimum 25 carries). The Bills remain an above-average matchup for running backs despite shutting down Nick Chubb last week. Since Week 5, Buffalo has allowed the tenth-highest rushing success rate and 13th-highest yards per carry while holding backs to the fifth-lowest EPA per rush.

D’Andre Swift: Over the last two games, Swift has settled into a complementary role averaging 20 snaps, 7.5 touches, and 22 total yards. He’s saved his fantasy days in both weeks, with touchdowns pumping him up to RB30 and RB19 for those weeks. The reality is Swift’s fantasy usage is a dangerous tightrope to walk despite his five red zone opportunities over the last two games. Since Week 8, among 54 running backs with at least 15 rushing attempts, Swift ranks dead last in yards after contact per attempt and 48th in PFF’s elusive rating with only two missed tackles forced. Swift is a dice roll RB3/flex.

Wide Receivers

Stefon Diggs: After seeing a season-low five targets last week, Diggs could get he squeaky wheel treatment this week. Diggs is the WR1 in fantasy with a 29.4% target share (sixth-best) and 35.6% air yard share (14th). He’s top-three in receptions, receiving yards, and total touchdowns. Diggs remains behind only Tyreek Hill in PFF receiving grade and yards per route run (minimum 25 targets). When Allen winds up downfield, Diggs will be part of the plan as he’s eighth among wideouts in deep targets. Diggs is a WR1 that will run about 63% of his routes against Jerry Jacobs (41.7% catch rate, 64.6 passer rating) and Amani Oruwariye (75% catch rate, 137.1 passer rating).

Gabriel Davis: Davis is the WR25 in fantasy points per game with top 36 finishes (WR1, WR18, WR9, WR31) in four of his last six games. Davis has a 17.2% target share and 29.5% air yard share while ranking tenth in deep targets. In the last two games, he has seen three of his five red zone targets this season. Since Week 5, Davis ranks 37th in PFF receiving grade and 16th in yards per route run (minimum 25 targets). Davis is a WR2 that will run about 89% of his routes on the perimeter against Jacobs and Oruwariye.

Amon-Ra St. Brown: The Sun God has been burning up the usage reports. He’s tenth in target share (28.5%) and first in target per route run rate (35.1%). After seeing his red zone usage dry up, he’s seen red zone targets in back-to-back games and ranks 26th among wide receivers. St. Brown is ninth in PFF receiving grade and sixth in yards per route run (minimum 25 targets). Since Week 8, he’s played 53% of his snaps on the outside as the Lions’ depth chart has been banged up. Over that span, he’s still drawn 45.9% of his targets from the slot. When on the perimeter, he’ll match up with Dane Jackson (since Week 7: 65.2% catch rate, 103.7 passer rating) and Christian Benford (since Week 7: 57.9% catch rate, 76.0 passer rating). It would be wise to move him inside more this week against Taron Johnson (since Week 7: 82.6% catch rate, 145.6 passer rating), who has been struggling mightily. St. Brown is a weekly WR1.

Kalif Raymond: Raymond is a WR4/5 with three games as a WR4 or better. Raymond has a 12.1% target share and 15.9% of the team’s air yards. He’s garnered ten deep targets (28th). He’ll run about 56% of his routes against Jackson and Benford.

Tight Ends

Dawson Knox: Knox is fully healthy, and it’s showing. He has played at least 81.9% of the snaps in every game since Week 6, with at least six targets in three of his last six games. Since Week 6, Knox is 21st in PFF receiving grade and 20th in yards per route run (minimum 15 targets). He has red zone targets in three of his last five games. Knox is back as a strong TE1. The Lions are 22nd in DVOA against tight ends allowing the most receiving touchdowns (tied), fifth-highest catch rate, and sixth-highest yards per reception.

TB vs. CLE | CIN vs. TEN | HOU vs. MIA | CHI vs. NYJ | ATL vs. WAS | DEN vs. CAR | BAL vs. JAC | LAC vs. ARI | LV vs. SEA | LAR vs. KC | NO vs. SF | GB vs. PHI | PIT vs. IND | BUF vs. DET | NYG vs. DAL | NE vs. MIN

New York Giants vs. Dallas Cowboys

Pace and playcalling notes

  • Dallas is up to sixth in neutral pace (full season) while they have dropped to 18th in neutral passing rate since Week 9.
  • The Giants will go as far as Saquon Barkley‘s thighs can take them. They are third in neutral rushing rate (19th in neutral pace).
  • New York is fourth in red zone rushing rate.

Quarterbacks

Daniel Jones: Jones is coming off his third top-ten QB performance of the season as the QB4 last week. Danny Dimes is a weekly game manager with the rushing upside to pop off for some big games. Jones is 24th in PFF passing grade, 22nd in yards per attempt, sixth in adjusted completion rate, and 42nd in aDOT (minimum 20 dropbacks). Dallas is no pushover on defense, holding passers to the tenth-lowest success rate per dropback and third-lowest EPA per dropback since Week 5. This season, they have given up the fourth-fewest fantasy points per game to quarterbacks. A big reason has been the Cowboys’ ability to generate pressure, as they are seventh in blitz rate and first in pressure rate. Jones is 24th in PFF pressured passing grade and 17th in pressured yards per attempt (minimum 20 pressured dropbacks). Jones is a QB2.

Dak Prescott: Prescott has been playing at a high level since returning from injury. Since Week 7, he’s been the QB10 in total points, ranking fifth in PFF passing grade, seventh in adjusted completion rate, and eighth in yards per attempt (minimum 50 dropbacks). The Giants’ pass defense started the season on a roll, but they have faltered over their last two games. Since Week 9, they are 14th in success rate per dropback and 13th in EPA per dropback and now face 4-6 weeks without Adoree Jackson in the lineup (MCL sprain). Prescott is a top-end QB1 with top-five upside in any week.

Running Backs

Weeks Yards after Contact per attempt (rank)* Breakaway Rate (rank)* PFF elusive rating (rank)*
1-5 3.81 (11th) 50.7% (7th) 73.0 (24th)
6-11 2.09 (59th) 23.1% (30th) 22.7 (57th)

 

*minimum 15 carries*

Saquon Barkley: Barkley had a dud game last week, but he’s still averaging 24.4 touches and 116.3 total yards as the RB6 in fantasy. Since Week 6, Barkley has slowed down as his efficiency metrics have taken massive dips. The hulking volume he’s been shouldering could be catching up with him. Barkley still has massive touchdown equity and a high-volume floor that keep him in the RB1 conversation. He’s first in opportunity share, second in weighted opportunities and ninth in red zone touches. Dallas has allowed the ninth-most rushing yards to running backs and ranks tenth in yards per carry and 14th in EPA per rush.

Week 11

Player Snap % Rushing attempts Targets Routes Red zone opportunities
Ezekiel Elliott 29% 15 1 5 4
Tony Pollard 54% 15 6 18 3

 

Ezekiel Elliott: Last week, Elliott played 29% of the snaps with 16 touches and 47 total yards as the Cowboys’ early down volume slug. Elliott is an aging running back living off touchdowns with five scores and ten red zone opportunities in his last three games. The wheels have rusted as he’s 45th in juke rate, 37th in evaded tackles, and 54th in yards created per touch. Eliott is a touchdown-or-bust RB2/3. The Giants are 28th in adjusted line yards and 31st in open field yards allowed. They have given up the tenth-most fantasy points per game to running backs.

Tony Pollard: Last week, Pollard exploded with 54% of the snaps, 21 touches, and 189 total yards (two scores). Pollard is a high-end RB2 in a smash matchup. There’s an easy case to be made that Pollard is the most efficient running back in the NFL. He is first in yards after contact per attempt, fifth in breakaway rate, and 18th in PFF’s elusive rating (minimum 25 carries). Don’t his receiving prowess get lost in the shuffle, as he’s also eighth in PFF receiving grade and seventh in yards per route run (minimum 15 targets). If Pollard is fed 15-17 touches consistently, he’ll be a top 15 running back weekly.

Wide Receivers

Darius Slayton: Since Week 5, Slayton is 14th in PFF receiving grade and 11th in yards per route run as the WR34 in fantasy points per game. Overall he has a 15.8% target share and a 24.8% air yard share. The biggest knock for Slayton outside of the Giants’ run-heavy offense is he only has five deep targets, and three red zone looks this season. The lack of high-value usage and capped volume in many weeks keeps him in the WR3 realm. Last week Slayton handled a season-high ten targets as the Giants were in catchup mode. That could easily be the case again against a high-powered Dallas offense this week. Slayton will run about 66% of his routes against Trevon Diggs (60.8% catch rate, 77.9 passer rating) and Anthony Brown (56.7% catch rate, 96.0 passer rating). Slayton could be shadowed by Diggs, who followed Allen Lazard and A.J. Brown on 62-67% of their routes, limiting them to four targets, two receptions, and 20 receiving yards.

CeeDee Lamb: Lamb might be coming off a quiet game, but he’s still a super stud. Lamb is the WR10 in fantasy with a 30.6% target share (fifth-best) and 33.1% target per route rate (third-best). Lamb is 12th in PFF receiving grade and 11th in yards per route run (minimum 25 targets). He’s tenth in deep targets. Lamb is a WR1 that will run about 55% of his routes against Darnay Holmes (62.2% catch rate, 80.5 passer rating).

Michael Gallup: Gallup has been invisible this season. He’s still waiting for his first game above 50 receiving yards. He hasn’t finished as a WR3 or better since Week 4, which was his only time this year accomplishing that feat. Gallup has a 16.7% target share with 23.2% of the team’s air yards. Gallup will run about 95% of his routes against Fabian Moreau (53.5% catch rate, 88.2 passer rating) and Nick McCloud (62.5% catch rate, 80.7 passer rating) as a WR5/6.

Tight Ends

Dalton Schultz: Last week’s trouncing of the Vikings was Schultz’s first game outside the top-12 tight ends since Prescott’s return. Over the previous three weeks, he was the TE12, TE5, and TE3 in fantasy. Since Week 7, Schultz has been fifth in targets, fifth in receiving yards, and 18th in routes among tight ends (minimum 15 targets). Over his last four games, he’s eighth in PFF receiving grade and four in yards per route run (minimum 15 targets). Schultz is a top-five tight end this week against a Giants secondary that’s 30th in DVOA against tight ends. New York has allowed the position’s sixth-highest catch rate, fifth-most receiving yards per game and seventh-highest yards per reception.

TB vs. CLE | CIN vs. TEN | HOU vs. MIA | CHI vs. NYJ | ATL vs. WAS | DEN vs. CAR | BAL vs. JAC | LAC vs. ARI | LV vs. SEA | LAR vs. KC | NO vs. SF | GB vs. PHI | PIT vs. IND | BUF vs. DET | NYG vs. DAL | NE vs. MIN

New England Patriots vs. Minnesota Vikings

Pace and playcalling notes

  • The Vikings continue to rock the highest red zone passing rate in the NFL.
  • Kevin O’Connell loves to operate speedily (fourth in neutral pace) and put the game in Kirk Cousins‘ hands (sixth in neutral passing rate).
  • New England has made Rhamondre Stevenson the focal points of their offense. The Patriots are 29th in neutral pace and seventh in neutral rushing rate.

Quarterbacks

Mac Jones: Jones is an interesting QB2 this week. Jones had easily his best game of the season last week against a talented New York Jets secondary. His 65.7 PFF passing grade isn’t electric, but it’s his best of the 2022 season. Jones also logged an 85.2% adjusted completion rate and 9.1 yards per attempt, while his aDOT was still insanely low (4.6). The Vikings’ pass defense has been abysmal. Since Week 5, they have surrendered the eighth-highest success rate per dropback. Over their last three games, they are seventh in yards per attempt and passing yards per game. Jones peppering the short and intermediate is exactly how you attack this team. They are 30th in DVOA against short passing, giving up the 11th-most YAC.

Kirk Cousins: Cousins is coming off a dreadful game against the Cowboys, and his prospects don’t look any better in Week 12. Cousins’ struggles against pressure are well known. He’s 20th in PFF pressured passing grade, 26th in pressure-adjusted completion rate, and 25th in pressured passer rating (minimum 30 pressured dropbacks). New England’s secondary is stout and suffocating, ranking first in pass defense DVOA with the lowest EPA and success rate per dropback since Week 5. Their pass rush is second in pressure rate. Cousins is a scary QB2.

Running Backs

Week 11

Player Snap % Rushing attempts Targets Routes Red zone opportunities
Rhamondre Stevenson 78% 15 6 26 2
Damien Harris 24% 8 2 5 0

 

Rhamondre Stevenson: This is Stevenson’s backfield. Over the last two games with Harris back, Stevenson has averaged 75% of the snaps with 19.5 touches and 76 total yards. Stevenson is the RB9 in fantasy this season and has been an RB1 in each of his last five games. Stevenson is a tackle-breaking Hulk ranking fourth in juke rate, third in evaded tackles, and 12th in breakaway runs. Stevenson will have trouble getting going on the ground against a Vikings run defense that’s allowed the sixth-lowest rushing success rate and third-lowest EPA per rush since Week 5. Overall, Minnesota has allowed the seventh-fewest rushing yards to running backs, but they can be beaten through the air. The Vikings are 20th in DVOA against receiving backs giving up the sixth-most receiving yards per game and seventh-highest yards per reception. Stevenson is a weekly RB1.

Damien Harris: Harris is an RB3/4. Over the last two games, he’s averaged 32.5% of the snaps with 11.5 touches and 73.5 total yards per game. The big problem for Harris is he has nearly zero pass-game involvement (two targets per game) and has had zero red zone touches since Week 8. This week’s matchup is abysmal for a back whose value is tied to early down work. Harris has remained efficient with his touches ranking third in juke rate and 26th in yards created per touch.

Dalvin Cook: Cook has averaged 17.8 touches and 94.5 total yards as the RB13 in fantasy. Cook could be leaned on heavily this week with Cousins under pressure. Cook has only three games this season with at least 20 carries, but he could easily sniff his fourth in this matchup. Cook’s efficiency numbers have been climbing as the season has moved along. He’s sixth in yards after contact per attempt, seventh in missed tackles forced, 21st in breakaway rate, and 16th in PFF’s elusive rating (minimum 25 carries). Cook’s biggest obstacle is a Patriots’ run defense that’s found its legs. Since Week 6, they are seventh in rushing yards per game, first in EPA per rush and seventh in explosive run rate allowed. They have allowed only two touchdowns to running backs all year. Cook is a bet on talent and volume in this matchup. He remains an RB1.

Alexander Mattison: Before last week’s blowout, Mattison had crested 20% of snaps played only once in his last four games averaging 3.3 touches and 15.8 total yards. Mattison is just a premier handcuff.

Wide Receivers

Jakobi Meyers: Meyers is the WR19 in fantasy points per game, remaining a quiet stud this season. Meyers has a 24.5% target share (7.1 targets per game) with a 26.6% target per route run rate (20th). All five of his red zone targets have come in the last three games. Meyers is 23rd in PFF receiving grade and 19th in yards per route run (minimum 25 targets). Meyers is a WR2 that will run about 70% of his routes against Chandon Sullivan (83.3% catch rate, 115.8 passer rating).

Justin Jefferson: Jefferson is a weekly must-start. It doesn’t matter the matchup. He’s the WR5 in fantasy with a 29.3% target share (eighth) and 38.6% air yard share (eighth). Jefferson is fifth in PFF’s receiving grade and fourth in yards per route run (minimum 25 targets). He is also 18th in deep target and first in red zone looks. Since Hockenson’s arrival, Jefferson has seen his aDOT rise from 8.9 to 15.2, and his deep target rate climb from 13.2% to 23.3%. Jefferson will run about 74% of his routes against Jonathan Jones (41.4% catch rate, 44.0 passer rating) and Jalen Mills (57.5% catch rate, 77.7 passer rating). Since Week 8, the Patriots have deployed their corners in zone coverage on 55.9-61% of their snaps. Jefferson is second in PFF receiving grade and yards per route run against zone coverage (minimum ten zone targets).

Adam Thielen: Thielen is a WR3/4 that needs a touchdown to pay off. Thielen is the third fiddle in this passing attack behind Jefferson and Hockenson. He has an 18.7% target share (44th) and a 24.1% air yard share. While he’s ninth in red zone targets, he’s only ranked 76th in yards per route run. Thielen has seen 49% of his target volume against zone, ranking 42nd in PFF receiving grade and 51st in yards per route run (minimum ten zone targets). He’ll run about 66% of his routes against Jones and Mills.

Tight Ends

Jonnu Smith: Smith is my random matchup-based tight end streamer of the week. Since Week 8, Smith has played at least 54% of snaps in every game running a route on 51% of passing attempts. He is second on the team with a 12.5% target share, leads the team in yards per route run (1.69), and is second with a 26% target per route run rate. Minnesota has allowed the eighth-highest catch rate, 13th-highest yards per reception, and 11th-most receiving touchdowns (tied) to tight ends.

T.J. Hockenson: Since joining the Vikings, Hockenson has had a 23.9% target share, 20% end zone target share, and a 26% target per route run rate (79% route run rate). Hockenson has finished as the TE5, TE7, and TE11 with at least nine targets in each game. Since Week 9, he’s 17th in PFF receiving grade and yards per route run (minimum eight targets) with six red zone looks. New England is tied for the most receiving touchdowns allowed to tight ends while ranking 17th in yards per reception. Hockenson is a mid-range TE1.

TB vs. CLE | CIN vs. TEN | HOU vs. MIA | CHI vs. NYJ | ATL vs. WAS | DEN vs. CAR | BAL vs. JAC | LAC vs. ARI | LV vs. SEA | LAR vs. KC | NO vs. SF | GB vs. PHI | PIT vs. IND | BUF vs. DET | NYG vs. DAL | NE vs. MIN

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*All data utilized in this article is courtesy of FantasyPros, PFF, SharpFootball Stats, Football Outsiders, FTN, 4for4, Rotoviz, RBdsm.com, The Edge from the 33rd Team, and Playerprofiler.com unless otherwise specified.*

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