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Fantasy Football Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em for Week 15 (2021)

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Welcome back RotoBallers to our Week 15 matchup analysis and Start Em, Sit Em column for fantasy football. We hope everyone is having a successful fantasy season so far! It’s playoff time, so let’s go win a championship! Let’s take a look at this week’s matchups.

For those who are not familiar, each week I’ll be analyzing every game from the Sunday slate, helping you optimize your fantasy lineups and take down your opponent. Be sure to check back regularly for any updates on player injuries or other pertinent information. Special thanks to PFF, RotoViz, RotoWire, Football Outsiders, FantasyPros, rbsdm.com, and Add More Funds for providing valuable information.

This year I will be covering the entire Sunday slate of games, and we will have separate articles for the Thursday Night Football matchups and Monday Night Football matchups. Be sure to read those as well. So join me as I help get your fantasy teams off to a strong start. If you have any additional lineup questions, follow me on Twitter @FAmmiranteTFJ and feel free to ask away. Let’s get on to the matchups!

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Matchups Analysis – Saturday Games 

Las Vegas Raiders at Cleveland Browns

UPDATE: It was announced on Friday afternoon that the Raiders-Browns game has been postponed until Monday due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Stay tuned for any changes with players being active and passing COVID-19 protocols in time for Monday.

Spread: Raiders -3.5
Implied Total: Raiders (20.75) vs. Browns (17.25)
Pace: Raiders (21st) vs. Browns (24th)
Scheme: Raiders (61% Pass, 39% Rush) vs. Browns (51% Pass, 49% Rush)
Raiders Off. DVOA: 14.5% Pass (16th), -16.2% Rush (28th)
Browns Def. DVOA: 9.0% Pass (20th), -11.9% Rush (11th)
Raiders Def. DVOA: 16.7% Pass (25th), -10.7% Rush (16th)
Browns Off. DVOA: 13.8% Pass (17th), 6.9% Rush (4th)

Matchups We Love:

Hunter Renfrow (WR, LV)

Hunter Renfrow is on a ridiculous run right now, catching 30-of-33 targets for 353 yards and a touchdown in his last three games. He’s racked up a 28.24% target share during that span. Renfrow should continue to function as the focal point in this struggling Raiders offense, especially with Darren Waller looking unlikely to suit up for this game. Renfrow should continue to see a healthy share of targets this week. The Browns rank 11th in PPR per game allowed to wideouts, but this team could be without several key contributors due to a COVID-19 outbreak. Follow the volume here and fire up Renfrow as a high-end WR2.

Nick Chubb (RB, CLE)

Nick Chubb should see heavy volume with Kareem Hunt likely out of the lineup. We could also see Baker Mayfield, Case Keenum, Jarvis Landry, and Austin Hooper all out as well, as they each tested positive for COVID-19. While key offensive linemen like Jedrick Wills and Wyatt Teller are also in jeopardy of missing this game, you have to love the potential volume for Chubb here. The Browns really need to feed him the ball, especially with Case Keenum and a limited passing offense. The Raiders rank 13th in Rush EPA, but Chubb’s efficiency and volume make him an elite RB1 in this spot. D’Ernest Johnson is also back on the FLEX radar with Hunt out. The one risk here is the Browns’ low implied total, but I still love Chubb in this spot.

Matchups We Hate:

Derek Carr (QB, LV)

It’s hard to get excited about Derek Carr in this projected low-scoring game. The Raiders have a 20.25 implied team total and this projects as an unfavorable game environment. The Browns are likely to lean heavily on the running game, which could result in lower passing volume for Carr. Carr has finished as QB19, QB8, QB22, and QB22 in his last four games. The Browns rank 21st in Dropback EPA, but this is not the time to stream Carr with the fantasy playoffs on the line. I just don’t think we’ll see enough volume.

Foster Moreau (TE, LV)

Foster Moreau has been a huge disappointment as a fill-in for Darren Waller, combining for four receptions and 47 yards in two starts. There’s no reason to go back to the well as a streamer here given the projected low-scoring game. The Browns rank 24th in PPR per game allowed to tight ends, but I’m not interested in Moreau given his low production. He’s a touchdown-dependent TE2 in this game.

Other Matchups:

Josh Jacobs (RB, LV)

Josh Jacobs continues to see an uptick in passing-game usage, catching 26-of-31 targets in his last five games. He’s racked up five or more targets in four of those games. That’s big for his fantasy value. The Browns rank 20th in Rush EPA, so we could see Jacobs find some running room here. The problem here is similar to Carr in that the game environment is not enticing. Having said that, Jacobs remains a solid RB2 given his secure role and passing-game usage.

Donovan Peoples-Jones (WR, CLE)

Donovan Peoples-Jones is coming off a solid game against the Ravens where he caught 5-of-7 targets for 90 yards. With Landry and Hooper likely out, DPJ becomes the clear-cut top option in this passing game. However, I have to leave him in the lukewarm section because I project an extremely run-heavy approach from the Browns. The Raiders have also been tough on wideouts, allowing the fifth-fewest PPR per game to the position.

David Njoku (TE, CLE)

David Njoku has a huge opportunity this week with Austin Hooper out. He immediately become a potential streamer in this spot given the lack of established pass-catchers in this depleted offense. The Raiders are allowing the second-most PPR per game to tight ends, making this a potential smash spot. We have seen Njoku show a high ceiling this season (7 REC, 149 YDS, 1 TD), so he’s definitely intriguing here.

Injuries:

CLE QB Baker Mayfield (COVID-19)
CLE QB Case Keenum (COVID-19)
CLE RB Kareem Hunt
(ankle)
CLE WR Jarvis Landry
(COVID-19)
CLE TE Austin Hooper
(COVID-19)
LV TE Darren Waller (knee/back)

 

New England Patriots at Indianapolis Colts

Spread: Colts -2.5
Implied Total: Patriots (21.5) vs. Colts (24.0)
Pace: Patriots (27th) vs. Colts (28th)
Scheme: Patriots (50% Pass, 50% Rush) vs. Colts (55% Pass, 45% Rush)
Patriots Off. DVOA: 24.0% Pass (10th), -0.9% Rush (9th)
Colts Def. DVOA: 6.9% Pass (17th), -18.6% Rush (5th)
Patriots Def. DVOA: -18.2% Pass (3rd), -16.3% Rush (6th)
Colts Off. DVOA: 13.4% Pass (18th), 12.2% Rush (1st)

Matchups We Love:

Jonathan Taylor (RB, IND)

Jonathan Taylor is currently the overall RB1 with over 1,600 total yards and 18 touchdowns. Taylor leads running backs with an absurd 71 red-zone carries. The next closest is Dalvin Cook, who has 41. That’s crazy touchdown equity. Taylor goes up against a Patriots defense that is strong in all facets but weaker against the run. New England ranks 8th in Rush EPA, allowing 4.49 YPC, which is tied for 26th in the NFL. Taylor is the best running back on the slate.

Matchups We Hate:

Mac Jones (QB, NE)

There’s really no reason to consider Mac Jones as a potential streamer during the fantasy playoffs. This is a run-heavy offense that will lean on their defense and running game. It doesn’t matter that the Colts are more of a pass-funnel defense, ranking 16th in Dropback EPA. New England has an established offensive identity as a smash-mouth running team. I’d only consider starting Jones as a desperation FLEX in SuperFlex formats.

Carson Wentz (QB, IND)

It’s also tough to get behind Carson Wentz because this is also run-heavy offense that leans on Jonathan Taylor. The Patriots rank 3rd in Dropback EPA, so it’s likely to be difficult for Wentz to get much going through the air. Wentz has finished outside of the top-20 quarterbacks in three of his last four games. For Wentz to get there as a streamer, this game would have to turn into a shootout, which seems like a long shot. Avoid him in this spot.

Michael Pittman Jr. (WR, IND)

Michael Pittman Jr. has fallen on hard times lately, catching 22-of-34 targets for 288 yards and a touchdown in his last five games. He’s finished as WR12, WR31, WR73, WR40, and WR17 during that span. While his season totals are still solid, it’s hard to see the promising second-year wideout bust out of his slump against one of the best pass defenses in football. New England is allowing the sixth-fewest PPR per game to opposing wideouts.

Other Matchups:

Patriots RBs

Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson have formed a strong one-two punch, with Brandon Bolden mixing in on some passing downs. Harris is currently dealing with a hamstring issue, but it seems like he’ll play this week. If he can’t go, Stevenson would immediately become an upside RB2. The matchup is tough here, as Indianapolis ranks 5th in Rush EPA, but the volume will be there in this run-heavy offense, albeit split between two players. I would consider Harris and Stevenson as lukewarm FLEX options in this game.

UPDATE: Damien Harris has officially been ruled out for this game.

Patriots WRs

Jakobi Meyers and Kendrick Bourne are the two fantasy-relevant wideouts in this offense. Meyers leads in target share (23.38%), so he’s the safest of the bunch, but Bourne has put up 60+ yards in three of his last six games. New England’s run-heavy offensive philosophy limits the upside of each of these players, but I’ll leave them in the lukewarm section because the Colts are more susceptible against the pass. Indy is tied for 22nd in PPR per game allowed to wide receivers.

Hunter Henry (TE, NE)

Hunter Henry is merely a touchdown-dependent streamer at tight end. The veteran has combined for only 15 receptions and 178 yards in his last seven games. The only reason why I’ll leave him in the lukewarm section is because of the high touchdown equity. I’m not too concerned about Jonnu Smith, who has fewer than 20 yards in four of his last five games. The Colts rank 26th in PPR per game allowed to tight ends, so the matchup is there.

Injuries:

NE RB Damien Harris (hamstring)

 

Matchups Analysis – 1:00 ET Games 

UPDATE: It was announced on Friday afternoon that the Washington-Eagles game has been postponed until Tuesday due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Stay tuned for any changes with players being active and passing COVID-19 protocols in time for Tuesday.

Spread: Eagles -12
Implied Total: Football Team (14.25) vs. Eagles (26.25)
Pace: Football Team (17th) vs. Eagles (9th)
Scheme: Football Team (55% Pass, 45% Rush) vs. Eagles (50% Pass, 50% Rush)
Football Team Off. DVOA: 13.2% Pass (19th), -14.2% Rush (24th)
Eagles Def. DVOA: 15.2% Pass (24th), -10.9% Rush (15th)
Football Team Def. DVOA: 18.8% Pass (27th), -15.9% Rush (7th)
Eagles Off. DVOA: 17.3% Pass (14th), 7.6% Rush (3rd)

Matchups We Love:

Miles Sanders (RB, PHI)

Miles Sanders had a great game against the Jets before the bye, rushing 24 times for 120 yards and catching all three of his targets for 22 yards. The problem here is that Washington is much tougher against the run, ranking 14th in Rush EPA, allowing only 3.63 YPC (2nd). There’s also the chance that Sanders loses some work to either Boston ScottJordan Howard, or even Kenneth Gainwell. However, this looks like a terrific game script with the Eagles coming in as 12-point favorites. This keeps Sanders in the ‘Love’ section.

Dallas Goedert (TE, PHI)

Dallas Goedert is coming off a ceiling game against the Jets where he caught all six of his targets for 105 yards and two touchdowns. I know that was with Gardner Minshew, but this projects as a game where the Eagles pass more than usual given Washington’s strength in run defense. Goedert has an impressive 22.32% target share since Week 9. This is a player who is probably the best tight end outside of the elite tier of Travis KelceGeorge KittleMark Andrews, and Darren Waller right now. Washington ranks 12th in PPR per game allowed to tight ends.

Matchups We Hate:

Antonio Gibson (RB, WAS)

Antonio Gibson fell victim to game script and inefficiency last week, as the Cowboys jumped out to an early multi-score lead. Gibson did not play well, rushing 10 times for 36 yards, including a fumble towards the end of the game. J.D. McKissic (concussion) missed Wednesday’s practice, which means that there’s a chance that he’ll miss another game. That would result in a heavy workload for Gibson, but it’s a negative game script with Washington as huge underdogs. The Eagles also rank 11th in Rush EPA, which makes Gibson a player to avoid this week.

Terry McLaurin (WR, WAS)

Terry McLaurin has exemplified the term “boom-or-bust” this season, finishing in the Top-10 four times and outside of the Top-40 eight times. This looks like another floor week for McLaurin, as he’ll have to deal with one of the top corners in football in Darius Slay (PFF Coverage Grade: 85.6). McLaurin will also likely have poor quarterback play with Taylor Heinicke and Kyle Allen each on the COVID-19 list.

Ricky Seals-Jones (TE, WAS)

Ricky Seals-Jones joins the streaming radar with Logan Thomas out, as Washington loves to funnel targets towards their tight end. However, Seals-Jones could lose some work to John Bates. While I think that was because the latter was coming back from injury and was being eased in, it’s still concerning. The Eagles are allowing the most PPR per game to tight ends and Curtis Samuel hasn’t done much, so there is opportunity here, but it comes with someone like Garrett Gilbert at quarterback.

Other Matchups:

Jalen Hurts (QB, PHI)

Jalen Hurts is expected to return to the lineup after missing their last game prior to last week’s bye. Hopefully, his sprained ankle will feel better coming off the two weeks of rest. Hurts is in a great spot against a Washington defense that ranks 28th in Dropback EPA. The issue here is that it’s unclear if Hurts will run less coming off the ankle injury. We also need to be concerned about the run-heavy nature of this Eagles offense. This keeps Hurts in the lukewarm section despite the strong matchup.

DeVonta Smith (WR, PHI)

DeVonta Smith is coming off consecutive duds, catching 4-of-8 targets for 37 yards in his last two games. The good news here is that the Washington secondary is highly exploitable, allowing the third-most PPR per game to wideouts this season. Smith continues to have strong volume stats this season: 22.95% target share and 37.02% air yard share. This profiles as a bounce-back spot for him. While the Eagles’ run-heavy philosophy lowers Smith’s floor, the matchup is right for solid production. Consider Smith as an upside WR3 this week, especially if Gardner Minshew starts. The one risk is that the Eagles won’t have to pass as much as 12-point favorites, which keeps him in the lukewarm section.

Injuries:

WAS QB Taylor Heinicke (COVID-19)
WAS TE Logan Thomas (knee)
PHI QB Jalen Hurts (ankle)

 

Carolina Panthers at Buffalo Bills

Spread: Bills -12
Implied Total: Panthers (16.5) vs. Bills (28.5)
Pace: Panthers (15th) vs. Bills (3rd)
Scheme: Panthers (52% Pass, 48% Rush) vs. Bills (67% Pass, 33% Rush)
Panthers Off. DVOA: -18.5% Pass (32nd), -11.3% Rush (22nd)
Bills Def. DVOA: -19.4% Pass (2nd), -15.3% Rush (8th)
Panthers Def. DVOA: -0.8% Pass (6th), -5.6% Rush (21st)
Bills Off. DVOA: 20.9% Pass (13th), -5.8% Rush (14th)

Matchups We Love:

Stefon Diggs (WR, BUF)

Stefon Diggs gets a bump in value with Emmanuel Sanders out with a knee injury. Diggs is coming off a 13-target game against the Bucs. While he lived up to preseason expectations, he’s still ranked as WR12 in PPR per game. While the matchup is tough against a Panthers defense allowing the fifth-fewest PPR per game to wideouts, I’m betting on talent and volume here. Josh Allen is banged up with a foot injury, but he’s expected to play.

Matchups We Hate:

Cam Newton (QB, CAR)

Cam Newton has shown some upside due to his rushing production, but the Panthers’ coaching staff has shown a willingness to play P.J. Walker at times, which caps both floor and upside. This is a tough matchup against a Bills defense that ranks 4th in Dropback EPA. The Panthers have a low implied total at 16.5 points. Newton would need to add a rushing touchdown or two in order to warrant streaming consideration. Avoid him here.

Panthers RBs

We got some clarity on this situation last week. Chuba Hubbard (39.06% snaps, 38.46% attempts, 0% target share) is the grinder while Ameer Abdullah (59.38% snaps, 15.38% attempts, 11.43% target share) is preferred on passing downs. This is a tough matchup against a Bills defense that while gashed against the Patriots, still ranks 2nd in Rush EPA. Add in the fact that Cam Newton can vulture touchdowns and you have an uninspiring situation. Abdullah is the preferred choice because of his receiving upside.

D.J. Moore (WR, CAR)

It’s a shame that poor quarterback play has ruined what would have been a career season for D.J. Moore. It feels like ages ago when Moore was on fire to begin the season. Moore has finished outside of the Top-20 wideouts in nine consecutive games, including four finishes outside of the Top-40. This is a terrible matchup against a Bills defense allowing the fewest PPR per game to wideouts. While Tre’Davious White‘s absence is good for Moore’s outlook, this is still a situation to avoid. Robby Anderson also came alive last week, catching 7-of-12 targets for 84 yards and a touchdown. This further dampens Moore’s outlook.

Devin Singletary (RB, BUF)

Devin Singletary carried the load with efficient production last week, rushing four times for 52 yards and catching 6-of-7 targets for 37 yards. You love to see that passing-game usage, but this is a Bills team that is extremely pass-heavy. Zack Moss was inactive last week, but you just never know when he’ll factor in again. Matt Breida can also take away some touches. To make matters worse, the Panthers rank 7th in Rush EPA. Easy avoid.

Other Matchups:

Josh Allen (QB, BUF)

Josh Allen is currently dealing with a foot injury. You have to temper your expectations, especially since the injury could limit his mobility, which caps his ceiling. Having said that, Allen can still make a major impact as a passer, so you still would need to fire him up as a mid-tier QB1. He goes up against a Panthers defense that ranks 5th in Dropback EPA, so this is a tough matchup, but Allen’s upside keeps him in the lukewarm section.

Cole Beasley (WR, BUF)

Cole Beasley figures to get a bump in targets with Emmanuel Sanders sidelined. He’s coming off a decent game against the Bucs where we caught 9-of-11 targets for 64 yards. He’ll need Allen to play in order to stay on the fantasy radar for this game, as I expect Trubisky to pepper Diggs with targets if he plays. The biggest beneficiary of Sanders’ absence is Gabriel Davis, who was already trending upwards (7 REC, 73 YDS, 2 TD in last two games). Davis is now on the WR4 radar. He could be an appealing play in tournaments.

Dawson Knox (TE, BUF)

Dawson Knox continues to demonstrate why touchdown equity is so important, especially at a position with limited yardage production like tight end. Knox has found the endzone eight times this season. He’ll obviously need Allen to start in order to provide solid production, but he’ll remain in the lukewarm section regardless of the starting quarterback. The Panthers rank 11th in PPR per game allowed to tight ends.

Injuries: 

BUF QB Josh Allen (foot)
BUF WR Emmanuel Sanders (knee)

 

New York Jets at Miami Dolphins

Spread: Dolphins -9.5
Implied Total: Jets (15.75) vs. Dolphins (25.25)
Pace: Jets (13th) vs. Dolphins (10th)
Scheme: Jets (58% Pass, 42% Rush) vs. Dolphins (63% Pass, 37% Rush)
Jets Off. DVOA: -5.5% Pass (26th), -6.7% Rush (16th)
Dolphins Def. DVOA: 5.8% Pass (16th), -11.1% Rush (14th)
Jets Def. DVOA: 30.0% Pass (32nd), -0.5% Rush (31st)
Dolphins Off. DVOA: 7.0% Pass (22nd), -28.8% Rush (30th)

Matchups We Love:

Tua Tagovailoa (QB, MIA)

Tua Tagovailoa is in a smash spot coming off the bye against a Jets defense that ranks 32nd in Dropback EPA. The Dolphins running backs are currently dealing with COVID-19, which makes it likely that Tua will air it out in this game. We’ve seen a ceiling this year: QB2 finish in Week 7. This makes Tagovailoa an appealing streamer in this spot. The one risk is that this game gets out of hand early and the Dolphins take their foot off the gas. Tua’s lack of rushing gives him a lower floor, but you have to like this spot.

Myles Gaskin (RB, MIA)

Myles Gaskin has been activated off the COVID-19 list, which puts him in the ‘Love’ section because the Jets are allowing the most PPR per game to opposing running backs. You also have to love the projected game script with the Dolphins coming in as double-digit home favorites. The risk here is that veteran Malcolm Brown takes away some usage in his return from injury, but you have to love Gaskin as an upside RB2 here.

DeVante Parker (WR, MIA)

DeVante Parker returned to action in Week 12, catching all five of his targets for 62 yards. There’s a chance that the bye week helped the veteran freshen up for the stretch run, which bodes well for his fantasy outlook. Parker has put up at least 60 yards in three consecutive games. He now has a 21.43% target share on the season. It’s likely that we would have been talking about him as a weekly WR3 had he not gotten injured. This is a great matchup, especially with Jaylen Waddle likely missing this game due to COVID-19.

Matchups We Hate:

Jets WRs

How can we really trust any of the Jets’ wideouts with how poorly Zach Wilson has played this season? While Elijah Moore is out for the season, Jamison Crowder is unreliable given the struggles of this passing game. He’s coming off a poor outing against the Saints where he caught 3-of-6 targets for only 19 yards. There’s also a chance that Keelan Cole eats into his volume. Meanwhile, Corey Davis (2 REC, 15 YDS) is also on IR and out for the season. The Dolphins rank 29th in PPR per game allowed to wideouts, but this is a bet against the Jets offense as a whole.

Other Matchups:

Mike Gesicki (TE, MIA)

Mike Gesicki is coming off an encouraging game against the Giants where he caught 7-of-11 targets for 46 yards. You have to love 11 targets for a tight end. The problem here is that he hasn’t really done much in the last few weeks, catching 22-of-39 targets for 225 yards in his last six games. The Jets are tied for 25th in PPR per game allowed to tight ends, but we have to temper our expectations for Gesicki given his recent mediocre production.

Michael Carter (RB, NYJ)

Michael Carter is expected to return to the lineup this week, just in time to take on a Dolphins defense that ranks 17th in Rush EPA. Carter has shown flashes of brilliance this year, finishing as overall RB1 in Week 8. The problem is that the check-down king Mike White is no longer the quarterback. Zach Wilson loves to chuck it deep, which caps Carter’s upside in the passing game. There’s also a risk that the Jets opt to ease Carter back into action. He goes up against a Dolphins defense that ranks 17th in Rush EPA, but I’m tempering my expectations.

Injuries:

MIA WR Jaylen Waddle (COVID-19)
NYJ WR Elijah Moore (quad)

 

Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants

Spread: Cowboys -10.5
Implied Total: Cowboys (27.5) vs. Giants (17.0)
Pace: Cowboys (1st) vs. Giants (12th)
Scheme: Cowboys (60% Pass, 40% Rush) vs. Giants (60% Pass, 40% Rush)
Cowboys Off. DVOA: 24.2% Pass (9th), -4.9% Rush (13th)
Giants Def. DVOA: 3.8% Pass (10th), -1.8% Rush (27th)
Cowboys Def. DVOA: -21.4% Pass (1st), -6.7% Rush (19th)
Giants Off. DVOA: -6.2% Pass (28th), -17.9% Rush (29th)

Matchups We Love:

CeeDee Lamb (WR, DAL)

CeeDee Lamb has caught 14-of-23 targets for 150 yards in two games since returning from injury. He goes up against a Giants defense that ranks 19th in Dropback EPA. The Cowboys have a 27.5-point implied total, so they project to score a lot of points in this game. Lamb is currently 13th in Expected Fantasy Points per Game among wideouts. He’s got high upside with a nice floor as the top target in this Cowboys offense.

Matchups We Hate:

Dalton Schultz (TE, DAL)

Dalton Schultz has really hit a wall lately, catching 22-of-37 targets for 227 yards and a touchdown in his seven games. He’s become the fourth option in this passing game with Michael Gallup back in the lineup. Schultz has devolved into a touchdown-dependent option at tight end. This game could turn into a run-heavy game script, which lowers both his floor and upside. I’d look elsewhere if I had a comparable option at tight end this week.

Giants WRs

Sterling Shepard caught 2-of-4 targets for 27 yards in his return to the lineup last week. He figures to lead the team in targets in this one. Kenny Golladay has been one of the biggest free-agent busts this season. Mike Glennon is starting at quarterback for a team that ranks 28th in pass DVOA. The Cowboys defense has been tough against the pass, ranking 1st in Dropback EPA. I’d steer clear of these pass-catchers, especially with New York having a 17-point implied total.

Other Matchups:

Dak Prescott (QB, DAL)

New York ranks 23rd in fantasy points per game allowed to quarterbacks, but Dak hasn’t really gotten it done from a fantasy standpoint lately, finishing as QB22 and QB26 in his last two games. We could see the Cowboys control this game throughout, leading to more rushing volume. The Giants offense is also a dumpster fire right now, so it’s unlikely that they’ll be able to keep pace. That makes Prescott a lukewarm QB1 in this spot.

Ezekiel Elliott (RB, DAL)

Ezekiel Elliott is in a terrific game environment with the Cowboys as 10.5-point favorites with a high implied total, but he simply hasn’t gotten it done lately, failing to rush for 60 or more yards in seven consecutive games. Zeke has been able to get in full practices this week, which is an encouraging sign, but it doesn’t seem likely that he’ll get enough volume for a ceiling game. He looks like a lukewarm, high-end RB2 in this game. There’s also a good chance that Tony Pollard returns for this game.

Amari Cooper (WR, DAL)

Amari Cooper has caught 13-of-18 targets for 180 yards and a touchdown in his last four games. While there’s always a chance that he pops off given his talent, we have to leave him in the lukewarm section given his recent production. He’s been significantly out-targeted by CeeDee Lamb and Michael Gallup is also eating into the target share. Consider Cooper more of a lukewarm, mid-tier WR2 in this spot.

Michael Gallup (WR, DAL)

Michael Gallup has been targeted 36 times in his last four games. While the yardage hasn’t been there (246 yards), you have to love that volume. The truth is, any of these three wideouts can go off this week in a plus matchup, it’s just that Lamb is by far the best of the bunch. Gallup can be fired up as an upside WR3, but there’s a lot of volatility here, especially if the Cowboys end up going run-heavy while controlling the game.

Saquon Barkley (RB, NYG)

Saquon Barkley needs to be considered as more of a mid-tier RB2 for the fantasy playoffs, as he’s simply not getting it done. Barkley has rushed 46 times for 184 yards with 19 receptions for 94 yards in four games since returning from injury. He’s scored one touchdown during that span. While you love the passing game usage, it’s hard to get too excited about him with the Giants’ low implied total. He’s a lukewarm option this week, especially with Mike Glennon under center.

Injuries:

DAL RB Tony Pollard (foot)
NYG QB Daniel Jones (neck)
NYG WR Kadarius Toney (COVID-19)

 

Tennessee Titans at Pittsburgh Steelers

Spread: Titans PK
Implied Total: Titans (21.75) vs. Steelers (21.25)
Pace: Titans (19th) vs. Steelers (8th)
Scheme: Titans (53% Pass, 47% Rush) vs. Steelers (59% Pass, 41% Rush)
Titans Off. DVOA: 4.4% Pass (23rd), -7.8% Rush (17th)
Steelers Def. DVOA: 11.0% Pass (22nd), -0.6% Rush (30th)
Titans Def. DVOA: 4.5% Pass (14th), -7.8% Rush (18th)
Steelers Off. DVOA: 7.3% Pass (21st), -14.3% Rush (25th)

Matchups We Love:

Diontae Johnson (WR, PIT)

Diontae Johnson has taken the leap to the elite tier of wideouts this season. He’s put up double-digit targets in seven of his last eight games. Ben Roethlisberger is playing his best football of the year. The Titans are tied for the most PPR per game allowed to wide receivers. This projects as a close game with the Steelers as two-point underdogs. The matchup and situation are good for Johnson to continue to put up elite WR1 production.

Chase Claypool (WR, PIT)

Chase Claypool has failed to meet lofty expectations this year, but he still has 47 receptions for 753 yards. What’s been surprising is that he’s only scored one touchdown this season, after finding the endzone 11 times in his rookie season. You might say that he’s due for one of those multi-touchdown games, especially against a defense that has struggled to defend opposing wideouts. Claypool has put up 80 or more yards in three of his last four games. I think that this could be the week where he pops.

Matchups We Hate:

Ryan Tannehill (QB, TEN)

Ryan Tannehill has finished as QB23 and QB28 in his last two games. The Titans have a middling 21.5-point implied total. Tannehill has attempted only 52 passes during this stretch, as Tennessee has opted to retain their run-heavy approach even without Derrick Henry. While the Steelers defense has been a shell of their former selves, ranking 20th in Dropback EPA, I just can’t trust Tannehill as a streamer in this spot.

Other Matchups:

Ben Roethlisberger (QB, PIT)

Big Ben has quietly finished in the Top-13 quarterbacks in three of his last four games, including QB8 and QB7 finishes. He goes up against a Titans defense that ranks 12th in Dropback EPA, but you have to like how the veteran is playing right now. Roethlisberger has attempted 40 or more passes in three of his last four games. With Diontae Johnson projected to have a good game, it’s likely that Big Ben can function as a lukewarm streamer in this spot.

Najee Harris (RB, PIT)

Najee Harris has come alive after hitting a rookie wall, rushing 41 times for 165 yards in his last two games. He’s caught all eight of his targets for 46 yards during this stretch. Tennessee ranks 16th in Rush EPA, so this is an exploitable matchup in an appealing game environment with Pittsburgh as only two-point underdogs. Harris stays in the lukewarm section given his efficiency concerns, but he remains a weekly RB1.

Pat Freiermuth (TE, PIT)

Pat Freiermuth has exceeded even the wildest expectations as a rookie, putting up 45 catches, 385 yards, and seven touchdowns. He’s established himself as Big Ben’s most trusted target in the red zone. You have to love that touchdown equity for a player at the most volatile position in fantasy football. The Titans are allowing the sixth-fewest PPR per game to tight ends, which keeps Freiermuth in the lukewarm section.

Titans RBs

The Steelers just got absolutely gashed by Dalvin Cook for over 200 rushing yards. They now rank 28th in Rush EPA. On paper, this looks like a phenomenal matchup for the Titans’ running game. However, this is a three-man committee between D’Onta ForemanDontrell Hilliard, and Jeremy McNichols. Each back had 30+% snap shares last week with McNichols back in the lineup. Foreman is the preferred play, but he’s nothing more than a volatile FLEX. They stay in the lukewarm section because the matchup is so good.

Julio Jones (WR, TEN)

Julio Jones had a disappointing return from injury, catching 4-of-6 targets for 33 yards in a smash spot against Jacksonville, but we can chalk that up to some rust after the long layoff. The veteran played on only 45% of the snaps last week, which also caused the low production. Perhaps he’ll see more of a workload this week. Jones takes on a Steelers defense that is tied for 20th in PPR per game allowed to wideouts. Consider him an upside WR3 here.

Injuries:

There aren’t any fantasy-relevant injuries in this game.

 

Houston Texans at Jacksonville Jaguars

Spread: Jaguars -4.5
Implied Total: Texans (17.5) vs. Jaguars (22.0)
Pace: Texans (23rd) vs. Jaguars (6th)
Scheme: Texans (55% Pass, 45% Rush) vs. Jaguars (56% Pass, 44% Rush)
Texans Off. DVOA: -17.6% Pass (31st), -42.5% Rush (32nd)
Jaguars Def. DVOA: 28.6% Pass (31st), -11.3% Rush (13th)
Texans Def. DVOA: 0.5% Pass (8th), -0.8% Rush (28th)
Jaguars Off. DVOA: -13.9% Pass (29th), -7.8% Rush (18th)

Matchups We Love:

Brandin Cooks (WR, HOU)

Brandin Cooks sure looked happy to see Davis Mills back under center, as he caught 8-of-11 targets for 101 yards last week. Mills loves to pepper Cooks with targets, which makes the veteran a borderline WR2 in this cupcake matchup. The Jaguars are tied for 22nd in PPR per game to wideouts. This defense is allowing 9.03 yards per catch, which ranks 31st in the NFL. We could see another big game from Cooks here.

James Robinson (RB, JAX)

James Robinson is finally freed from Urban Meyer, who will be remembered as one of the worst NFL coaches of all time. We can expect to see interim head coach Darrell Bevell to lean on his second-year back in this game. This is an absolute smash spot with the Texans defense ranking 28th in rush DVOA. This defense just got shredded for 137 yards (8.6 YPC) by Rashaad Penny. We could see Robinson provide RB1 production in this spot. Keep an eye on Robinson’s injury status as we get closer to Sunday.

Marvin Jones Jr. (WR, JAX)

Marvin Jones Jr. is back on the fantasy radar, coming off a game where he caught 6-of-7 targets for 70 yards. Interim head coach Darrell Bevell was the offensive coordinator in Detroit, so he has some familiarity with Jones. This could mean that we see Jones get peppered with targets in this matchup. Houston is tied for 17th in PPR per game allowed to wideouts, so this is an exploitable matchup. I really like Jones as a potential WR3 in this one.

Matchups We Hate:

Texans RBs

Royce Freeman looks like the player to roll with in this awful backfield, as he caught 6-of-8 targets for 51 yards last week, but Rex Burkhead has been getting a healthy workload, combining for 24 touches in his last two games, but is dealing with a hip injury and is questionable. This is a situation to avoid because the players aren’t suited for such workloads given their track records and Houston’s run-blocking is atrocious. Jacksonville’s defense is much better against the run than pass, ranking 13th in Rush DVOA.

Other Matchups:

Trevor Lawrence (QB, JAX)

It’s going to be interesting to see how the rookie responds to Urban Meyer finally being fired. Perhaps we’ll see a spirited effort from one of the most hyped quarterbacks in recent memory. The Texans defense has been better against the pass, ranking 8th in pass DVOA, but I’m confident that we’ll see a much better effort from Lawrence in this spot. I’m willing to put him in the lukewarm section as a potential streamer in SuperFlex leagues.

Davis Mills (QB, HOU)

Davis Mills looked surprisingly sharp last week, completing 33-of-49 passes for 331 yards and a touchdown. It’s clear that he’s much better for this Houston offense. The rookie has a terrific matchup against a Jaguars defense that ranks 30th in Dropback EPA. Despite the low total, it wouldn’t shock me to see this game turn into a shootout, with both teams having nothing to play for, along with porous defenses. Mills can be an intriguing contrarian play in DFS.

Injuries:

JAX RB James Robinson (heel/knee)
HOU RB Rex Burkhead (hip)

 

Arizona Cardinals at Detroit Lions

Spread: Cardinals -12.5
Implied Total: Cardinals (30.0) vs. Lions (17.5)
Pace: Cardinals (16th) vs. Lions (25th)
Scheme: Cardinals (55% Pass, 45% Rush) vs. Lions (51% Pass, 49% Rush)
Cardinals Off. DVOA: 32.0% Pass (5th), -14.5% Rush (26th)
Lions Def. DVOA: 23.7% Pass (30th), -0.7% Rush (29th)
Cardinals Def. DVOA: -13.8% Pass (4th), -11.4% Rush (12th)
Lions Off. DVOA: -17.6% Pass (30th), -13.7% Rush (23rd)

Matchups We Love:

Kyler Murray (QB, ARI)

Kyler Murray is back as the overall QB1 this week, facing a Lions defense that ranks 31st in Dropback EPA. Murray has rushed 17 times for 122 yards and two touchdowns in two games since returning from injury. This is a huge development because he wasn’t running nearly as often prior to the injury. The Cardinals have a 30.5-point implied total in this game, so we could see a ton of scoring from them here. He’s the top quarterback on the slate.

Cardinals WRs

It’s tough to figure out which one of A.J. Green and Christian Kirk is going off in this exploitable matchup against a Lions defense allowing the third-most PPR per game to wideouts. Green is coming off a 100-yard game against the Rams, while Kirk has been the more consistent producer throughout the season. Which wideout will step up with DeAndre Hopkins out? My money is on Kirk. We could also see more usage for Rondale Moore, but I need to see it before I buy in.

Matchups We Hate:

Lions RBs

Craig Reynolds surprisingly led the way for the Lions last week, rushing 11 times for 83 yards and catching both of his targets for 16 yards. D’Andre Swift is out for another week, but Jamaal Williams could be ready to return. We’ll have to monitor the status as we get closer to Sunday. The Cardinals rank 9th in Rush EPA, but they’re definitely weaker against the run than pass (4th Pass DVOA, 12th Rush DVOA). Having said that, the Lions have a low implied total in a negative game script. These backs will have to catch passes to provide adequate production. I’d look elsewhere this week.

Other Matchups:

James Conner (RB, ARI)

James Conner has been an absolute league-winner this season, finishing RB1, RB15, RB8, RB11, and RB2 in his last five games. This is a smash spot with the Cardinals coming in as 13.5-point favorites, taking on a Lions defense allowing the fourth-most PPR per game to running backs. The problem is that Conner is day-to-day with an ankle injury. There’s a chance that he misses this game, which opens the door for Chase Edmonds and Eno Benjamin. If Conner plays, he’s a lukewarm option. If he doesn’t, I wouldn’t get too excited for Edmonds because it’s his first game back from injury.

Zach Ertz (TE, ARI)

There’s a reasonable chance that Zach Ertz starts to see more targets with DeAndre Hopkins out for the season. The veteran has been rock-solid for the Cardinals, catching 28-of-38 targets for 321 yards and three touchdowns in seven games. The Lions are tied for 19th in PPR per game allowed to tight ends. Ertz has high touchdown equity on a prolific offense in a nice game environment. He’s absolutely in play as a streamer. Ertz is only in the lukewarm section because the Cards could just run it out and take it easy as they control this game against an inferior opponent.

Amon-Ra St. Brown (WR, DET)

Amon-Ra St. Brown has been highly impressive lately, catching 18-of-24 targets for 159 yards and a touchdown in his last two games. D’Andre Swift and T.J. Hockenson are both out for this game, with the latter now ruled out for the season. This leaves St. Brown has the clear-cut top target in this offense. The rookie has been a safety valve for Jared Goff. Arizona ranks 4th in PPR per game allowed to wideouts, but St. Brown’s volume keeps him in play as a WR3.

Injuries:

ARI RB James Conner (ankle)
ARI WR DeAndre Hopkins (knee)
DET RB D’Andre Swift (shoulder)
DET TE T.J. Hockenson (thumb)

 

Matchups Analysis – 4:00 ET Games

Atlanta Falcons at San Francisco 49ers

Spread: 49ers -9.5
Implied Total: Falcons (18.5) vs. 49ers (28.0)
Pace: Falcons (18th) vs. 49ers (26th)
Scheme: Falcons (57% Pass, 43% Rush) vs. 49ers (51% Pass, 49% Rush)
Falcons Off. DVOA: -1.5% Pass (25th), -31.5% Rush (31st)
49ers Def. DVOA: 9.1% Pass (21st), -21.4% Rush (3rd)
Falcons Def. DVOA: 22.7% Pass (29th), -5.2% Rush (23rd)
49ers Off. DVOA: 30.8% Pass (7th), 3.3% Rush (5th)

Matchups We Love:

George Kittle (TE, SF)

George Kittle has been otherworldly of late, catching 22-of-27 targets for 332 yards and three touchdowns in his last two games. He’s retained his role as the focal point of this passing attack with Deebo Samuel functioning as more of a defacto running back lately. Kittle goes up against a Falcons defense that ranks 15th in PPR per game to tight ends. This is a good game environment with San Fran having a 27.75 implied total.

Matchups We Hate:

Matt Ryan (QB, ATL)

Matt Ryan has finished as QB23, QB28, and QB17 in his last three games. San Francisco ranks 22nd in Dropback EPA, but can you really trust Ryan as a streamer with how he’s playing right now? Atlanta also has a low implied total at 18.25 points, so the touchdown upside is limited. We’ve also seen the 49ers sustain long drives with their running game, which could limit passing volume. Pass on Ryan here.

Other Matchups:

Jimmy Garoppolo (QB, SF)

Jimmy Garoppolo has quietly been rock-solid in fantasy lately, finishing as QB3, QB8, QB11, QB15, QB20, QB15, and QB12 in his last seven games. He takes on a Falcons defense that ranks 27th in Dropback EPA, so this is a smash spot in terms of matchup, especially with the 49ers’ high implied total. The problem here is that San Fran is already run-heavy as it is and we could see more rushing volume in this positive game script, which would limit passing volume for Jimmy G. For that reason, he stays in the lukewarm section.

Elijah Mitchell (RB, ATL)

Elijah Mitchell has a chance to return this week, but he’s going to face a Falcons defense that ranks 3rd in Rush EPA. Having said that, San Fran’s running game is good enough to overcome any matchup. If Mitchell is able to go, you’re firing him up as an upside RB2. The 49ers project to score a lot of points here as heavy home favorites. The volume should allow Mitchell to get there with solid production in this spot.

Deebo Samuel (WR, SF)

Deebo Samuel continues to put up absurd efficiency, scoring 11 total touchdowns this season. The problem here is that he’s become more of a running back for the 49ers. Samuel has caught 3-of-7 targets for 49 yards in his last three games. He’s been able to continue to put up strong fantasy production because of his rushing output, but what if that hyper-efficiency starts to regress? That’s my concern here, so I’ll keep him in the lukewarm section. However, if Elijah Mitchell is able to play, we could see Deebo return to dominating as a wideout. Perhaps he was only seeing running back touches due to injuries to the team’s running backs.

Brandon Aiyuk (WR, SF)

Brandon Aiyuk continued his dramatic turnaround last week, catching 6-of-10 targets for 62 yards and a touchdown. He’s now finished as WR6, WR55, WR11, WR27, WR40, and WR13 in his last six games. Aiyuk goes up against a Falcons defense that ranks 16th in PPR per game allowed to opposing wideouts. With Deebo used more in the running game, we could see Aiyuk continue to provide strong production. He’s only in the lukewarm section because of San Fran’s run-heavy philosophy.

Cordarrelle Patterson (RB, ATL)

Like Deebo, Cordarrelle Patterson has seen his receiving volume dry up recently, catching 8-of-15 targets for 60 yards in his last four games. During that stretch, Mike Davis has 18 targets. It boggles my mind how Atlanta would take away Patterson’s role in the passing game, but that’s where we’re at right now. The 49ers rank 10th in Rush EPA, so they’re better against the run, which keeps Patterson in the lukewarm section.

Russell Gage (WR, ATL)

Russell Gage has really come on strong to close out the year, catching 26-of-33 targets for 305 yards and one touchdown in his last four games. He’s been much more of a consistent option than rookie Kyle Pitts. The 49ers are tied for 20th in PPR per game allowed to wideouts, so this is an exploitable matchup, especially when you factor in that Atlanta will have to air it out while playing from behind. Gage looks like a rock-solid WR3.

Kyle Pitts (TE, ATL)

Kyle Pitts has really struggled to get it going of late, but he did show some signs of life last week, catching 5-of-6 targets for 61 yards. We’ve seen how high the rookie’s ceiling can be (7 REC, 163 YDS), so I’d be inclined to continue throwing him out there, even with the recent struggles. I’ll keep him in the lukewarm section against a 49ers defense allowing the fourth-fewest PPR per game to tight ends. Pitts is just too talented and plays such a weak position that I keep having to go back to the well.

Injuries:

SF RB Elijah Mitchell (knee/concussion)

 

Cincinnati Bengals at Denver Broncos

Spread: Broncos -3
Implied Total: Bengals (20.5) vs. Broncos (23.5)
Pace: Bengals (30th) vs. Broncos (31st)
Scheme: Bengals (58% Pass, 42% Rush) vs. Broncos (53% Pass, 47% Rush)
Bengals Off. DVOA: 4.0% Pass (24th), -10.4% Rush (20th)
Broncos Def. DVOA: 7.6% Pass (19th), -3.9% Rush (25th)
Bengals Def. DVOA: 7.2% Pass (18th), -12.9% Rush (10th)
Broncos Off. DVOA: 21.8% Pass (11th), 0.4% Rush (8th)

Matchups We Love:

Tee Higgins (WR, CIN)

Tee Higgins is on fire right now, catching 20-of-29 targets for 366 yards and two touchdowns in his last three games. He’s finished as WR4, WR3, and WR20 during that span. Higgins now ranks 22nd among wideouts in Expected Fantasy Points per Game. He goes up against a Broncos defense allowing the eighth-fewest PPR per game to wide receivers, but this hot streak is too good not to love him right now. Fire up Higgins as an upside WR2.

Matchups We Hate:

Broncos WRs

It’s crazy that such a talented receiving core has been so underwhelming in fantasy. Jerry Jeudy hasn’t finished inside the Top-30 wideouts in six of seven games this season. Courtland Sutton hasn’t eclipsed 30 yards in five consecutive games. Tim Patrick hasn’t gone for over 30 yards in four straight. To make matters worse, the Broncos are going more run-heavy lately, as Teddy Bridgewater has fewer than 30 attempts in two of his last three games. There are too many mouths to feed in this slow-paced and run-heavy offense. Look elsewhere.

Noah Fant (TE, DEN)

Noah Fant has also been underwhelming, catching 23-of-29 targets for 202 yards in his last six games. The Bengals rank 23rd in PPR per game allowed to tight ends, so this is a good matchup on paper, but how can we trust Fant right now given such mediocre production? Add in the fact that Albert Okwuegbunam is a talented tight end in his own right and you have a situation to avoid here. Look towards the Broncos running game.

Other Matchups:

Joe Burrow (QB, CIN)

Joe Burrow is coming off a good game against the 49ers where he completed 25-of-34 passes for 348 yards and two touchdowns. This is a tough matchup on the road in Denver against a Broncos defense that ranks 9th in Dropback EPA. We have also seen the Bengals go a bit run-heavy in the past, which could potentially be the case here as road underdogs with a modest implied total. Burrow looks like a lukewarm play in this spot.

Joe Mixon (RB, CIN)

Joe Mixon has hit a bit of a wall lately, as he’s been dealt with an illness. He’s coming off consecutive inefficient rushing performances where he failed to eclipse 60 yards. He also only racked up three targets during that stretch, using some work in the passing game to Samaje Perine. The good news is that Mixon does not carry an injury designation for this game, facing a Broncos defense that ranks 22nd in Rush EPA. I’m leaving him in the lukewarm section given his recent stretch, but this could wind up as a good spot for Mixon. Consider him as a low-end RB1.

Ja’Marr Chase (WR, CIN)

Ja’Marr Chase busted out of his slump last week, catching 5-of-8 targets for 77 yards and two touchdowns. The reason why he’s in the lukewarm section is that I don’t see a great game environment here, so it’s likely that only one Bengals wideout will have a big game in this situation. I’m betting on Higgins because of his recent dominant production, but it wouldn’t shock me to see Chase building on last week’s strong production.

Broncos RBs

Despite Javonte Williams‘ huge game in a bellcow role two weeks ago, Melvin Gordon led in touches in his return last week. Now, Williams is dealing with a knee injury that puts his status in question for this game. If Williams is out, Gordon would become a high-end RB2 given his solid production this season. If Williams plays, there’s a risk that he’s a bit more limited than usual, but we still have to play him as an upside FLEX given his talent. The Bengals rank 15th in Rush EPA, so it’s not that tough of a matchup.

Injuries:

DEN RB Javonte Williams (knee)

 

Green Bay Packers at Baltimore Ravens

Spread: Packers -6
Implied Total: Packers (25.0) vs. Ravens (18.5)
Pace: Packers (32nd) vs. Ravens (29th)
Scheme: Packers (58% Pass, 42% Rush) vs. Ravens (51% Pass, 49% Rush)
Packers Off. DVOA: 37.1% Pass (2nd), -2.4% Rush (10th)
Ravens Def. DVOA: 18.5% Pass (26th), -19.3% Rush (4th)
Packers Def. DVOA: 4.2% Pass (13th), -5.1% Rush (24th)
Ravens Off. DVOA: 8.0% Pass (20th), -0.6% Rush (7th)

Matchups We Love:

Aaron Rodgers (QB, GB)

Aaron Rodgers is playing his best football of the season right now, finishing as QB2, QB2, and QB3 in his last three games. He goes up against a depleted Ravens defense that is currently without defensive backs Marcus PetersMarlon HumphreyDeShon Elliott, and now Chuck Clark is on the COVID-19 list. That’s bad news for a defense that already ranked 23rd in Dropback EPA. Rodgers is an elite QB1 in this spot.

Davante Adams (WR, GB)

Davante Adams also has to be licking his chops for this matchup. Adams has similarly been on fire, finishing as WR2, WR15, and WR1 in his last three games. He’s racked up 25 receptions, 340 yards, and two touchdowns during that stretch. He looks like the overall WR1 in this spot. Baltimore ranks 13th in PPR per game allowed to wideouts, but that really doesn’t matter given the current state of their secondary. Adams has a good chance at hitting his ceiling here.

Matchups We Hate:

Lamar Jackson (QB, BAL)

Lamar Jackson’s status is unclear for this week, as he’s currently dealing with an ankle injury that has kept him out of practice this week and caused him to leave last week’s game early. If he does play, you have to think that his mobility will be limited given his ankle injury. That’s bad news considering we need Lamar to run in order for him to deliver as an elite QB1. Jackson takes on a Packers defense that ranks 10th in Dropback EPA, so this is a matchup to avoid.

Other Matchups:

Packers RBs

Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon have been turned into a two-man committee, with the latter out-touching the former 35-to-18 in the last two games. Jones is currently dealing with a knee issue and illness, which kept him out of Thursday’s practice. If Jones can’t go, Dillon would immediately move to the ‘Love’ section as the bellcow of this offense. Baltimore’s defense is better against the run, ranking 6th in Rush EPA, but that doesn’t matter too much because of the projected volume Dillon would see as the lone back. Keep an eye out for any updates.

Marquez Valdes-Scantling (WR, GB)

MVS disappointed in a good spot against the Bears last week, which keeps him in the lukewarm section, but he has a chance to bounce back against a depleted Ravens secondary that is allowing 8.63 yards per target (26th) to wideouts. There’s a good chance that we see MVS get loose downfield in this game. That puts him in play as an upside WR3, especially since he’s racked up 24 targets in his last three games.

Devonta Freeman (RB, BAL)

Devonta Freeman now has 76 touches in his last four games, including 20 targets. This keeps him in play as a volume-based RB2 every week. The Packers rank 25th in Rush EPA, so this is where teams need to attack their defense. Perhaps we see more usage and checkdowns to Freeman with Lamar dealing with an ankle injury. This would also be the case if Brett Hundley starts. I’ll leave Freeman in the lukewarm section given the modest implied total, but he’s a solid play in this game.

Marquise Brown (WR, BAL)

Marquise Brown has failed to hit 60 yards in four consecutive games, but he’s racked up 38 targets during that stretch, so the volume has been there. If Lamar plays, he might air it out more than usual, which bodes well for Brown. However, the Packers have been tough on wideouts, ranking 10th in PPR per game allowed to the position. There’s also a good chance that Lamar’s restricted mobility hurts him as a passer as well. That keeps Brown in the lukewarm section.

Rashod Bateman (WR, BAL)

Rashod Bateman came alive last week, catching 7-of-8 targets for 103 yards, showing solid rapport with Brett Hundley. Perhaps this could be the start of a strong finish for Bateman in his rookie season. He now has three games with eight targets, showing the ability to command targets, which is an important skill. It’s a tough matchup for Bateman, but it would not surprise me to see him out-produce Brown for a second consecutive game.

Mark Andrews (TE, BAL)

Mark Andrews continues to put up elite production, coming off a huge game against the Browns where he caught all 11 of his targets for 115 yards and a touchdown. He takes on a Packers defense that ranks 13th in PPR per game allowed to tight ends, so this isn’t an easy matchup, especially with a limited Lamar or Hundley under center. For that reason, Andrews stays in the lukewarm section, but this is an elite TE1.

Injuries:

GB RB Aaron Jones (knee/illness)
BAL QB Lamar Jackson (ankle)

 

Seattle Seahawks at Los Angeles Rams

UPDATE: It was announced on Friday afternoon that the Seahawks-Rams game has been postponed until Tuesday due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Stay tuned for any changes with players being active and passing COVID-19 protocols in time for Tuesday.

Spread: Rams -4
Implied Total: Seahawks (20.5) vs. Rams (24.5)
Pace: Seahawks (14th) vs. Rams (11th)
Scheme: Seahawks (56% Pass, 44% Rush) vs. Rams (62% Pass, 38% Rush)
Seahawks Off. DVOA: 21.0% Pass (12th), -6.3% Rush (15th)
Rams Def. DVOA: -0.4% Pass (7th), -21.8% Rush (2nd)
Seahawks Def. DVOA: 20.8% Pass (28th), -14.3% Rush (9th)
Rams Off. DVOA: 32.4% Pass (4th), -4.6% Rush (12th)

Matchups We Love: 

Rashaad Penny (RB, SEA)

Rashaad Penny delivered in his huge opportunity last week, rushing 16 times for 137 yards and two touchdowns, demonstrating the ability to break long runs. We can expect the Seahawks to continue to lean on him as their lead back, especially with Alex Collins on the COVID-19 list. Seattle loves to establish the run, so you’ll likely see a lot of work from Penny here. He takes on a Rams defense that ranks 4th in Rush EPA, so this is a tough matchup, but I love the projected volume with Collins likely out for this game.

D.K. Metcalf (WR, SEA)

D.K. Metcalf continues to put up underwhelming production, but Tyler Lockett has a chance to miss this game since he was placed on the COVID-19 list. Metcalf should dominate targets in a game where the Seahawks will likely be forced to play catch-up against a prolific Rams offense. The Rams rank 19th in PPR per game allowed to wideouts, so there’s a chance that we can see Metcalf get loose downfield in this spot.

Matthew Stafford (QB, LAR)

Matthew Stafford is back to balling out, finishing as QB5, QB3, and QB6 in his last three games. He gets to take on a Seahawks defense that ranks 24th in Dropback EPA, so we could see him approach his ceiling in this game as well. The one risk is that the Rams are dealing with a ton of COVID-19 cases right now, including wideout Odell Beckham Jr, which limits Stafford’s pass-catching group. I’ll still fire him up as an elite QB1 though.

Cooper Kupp (WR, LAR)

Cooper Kupp is having a historic season, putting up 113 receptions for 1,489 yards and 12 touchdowns. When it’s all said and done, we’ll look back on this year as one of the best seasons for a wideout of all-time. Kupp is a Top-2 wide receiver every week with Davante Adams as the only player capable of challenging him for the throne. He takes on a Seahawks defense allowing the ninth-fewest PPR per game to wideouts, but Kupp is too good to worry about a matchup.

Matchups We Hate:

There aren’t any matchups to hate in this game.

Other Matchups:

Russell Wilson (QB, SEA)

Russell Wilson might have to deal with this Rams defense without his favorite pass-catcher in Tyler Lockett, which keeps the veteran quarterback in the lukewarm section. The Rams rank 13th in Dropback EPA, allowing the seventh-fewest fantasy points per game to quarterbacks, making this is a tough matchup. Having said that, Wilson will likely have to air it out to keep pace in this game, which keeps him in the lukewarm section.

Gerald Everett (TE, SEA)

Gerald Everett has some sneaky streamer appeal against his former team with Lockett likely out of the lineup. Everett has put up fewer than 40 yards in six of his last seven games, so this is a risky play, but he’s worth the look if you’re desperate at tight end. The Rams rank 14th in PPR per game allowed to tight ends, making this a tough matchup, but I like the potential uptick in volume for Everett here.

Rams RBs

Darrell Henderson Jr. is currently on the COVID list, which could force Sony Michel into the lead role once again. If that’s the case, Michel would move to the ‘Love’ list as a high-end RB2. The Seahawks rank 12th in Rush EPA, but they’re allowing the second-most PPR per game to running backs this season. If Henderson does play, this situation becomes more difficult to project because they might split carries. Keep an eye out here.

Van Jefferson (WR, LAR)

Van Jefferson could be in line for a nice uptick in volume with Odell Beckham Jr. on the COVID-19 list, but I’m keeping him in the lukewarm section until we know for sure that OBJ is out for this game. Jefferson has found the end zone in three consecutive games, putting up 11 catches for 192 yards during that span. He has the ability to get loose downfield, which fits nicely with Stafford’s skill set, making him an upside WR3 every week.

Tyler Higbee (TE, LAR)

Tyler Higbee had a big game by his standards last week, catching 5-of-6 targets for 48 yards. There’s a chance that he sees a greater workload with OBJ likely out of the lineup, but we have to keep him in the lukewarm section because of his underwhelming production this season. The Seahawks rank 29th in PPR per game allowed to tight ends, making this a nice matchup for Higbee. He’s a sneaky streamer in this spot.

Injuries:

SEA WR Tyler Lockett (COVID-19)
LAR RB Darrell Henderson Jr. (COVID-19)
LAR WR Odell Beckham Jr. (COVID-19)

 

New Orleans Saints at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Spread: Buccaneers -11
Implied Total: Saints (17.75) vs. Buccaneers (28.75)
Pace: Saints (20th) vs. Buccaneers (5th)
Scheme: Saints (52% Pass, 48% Rush) vs. Buccaneers (67% Pass, 33% Rush)
Saints Off. DVOA: 14.6% Pass (15th), -11.0% Rush (21st)
Buccaneers Def. DVOA: -2.2% Pass (5th), -8.7% Rush (17th)
Saints Def. DVOA: 3.9% Pass (11th), -30.3% Rush (1st)
Buccaneers Off. DVOA: 45.4% Pass (1st), 10.2% Rush (2nd)

Matchups We Love:

Tom Brady (QB, TB)

Tom Brady looks like the frontrunner for MVP, which is incredible considering his age. Brady has finished as QB2 in consecutive weeks. He takes on a Saints defense that ranks 7th in Dropback EPA but is tied for 25th in PPR per game allowed to quarterbacks. Remember that New Orleans upset these Bucs earlier in the season, so you can bet that Brady will come out firing and looking to avenge that loss here. Brady is an elite QB1 in this spot.

Chris Godwin (WR, TB)

Chris Godwin is balling out right now, catching 25-of-32 targets for 248 yards in his last two games. He’s become the clear-cut target hog in the most prolific passing offense in football. Godwin goes up against a Saints defense that is tied for 26th in PPR per game allowed to receivers. The last time these teams met, Godwin went off for eight catches, 140 yards, and a touchdown. He’s a high-end WR1 in this spot.

Rob Gronkowski (TE, TB)

Gronk slowed down a bit last week against the Bills, catching 5-of-9 targets for 62 yards, but that’s still rock-solid production from a tight end. He’s ranked in the Top-3 among tight ends in PPR per game this season. The Saints rank 9th in PPR per game allowed to tight ends, but this is a pass-funnel defense given how stout their run defense has been, which means that the Bucs will likely air it out all game. Fire up Gronk with confidence.

Matchups We Hate:

There aren’t any matchups to hate among fantasy-relevant players in this game.

Other Matchups:

Leonard Fournette (RB, TB)

Leonard Fournette continues to put up elite RB1 production, especially in the passing game, where he now has 62 receptions for 421 yards and two touchdowns. The problem is that he’s currently dealing with an ankle injury that could keep him out of the game this week. That would mean that Ronald Jones would likely carry the load. Jones would be an upside RB2 because he does not have the same upside in the passing game. The Saints rank 1st in Rush EPA, so this is a tough matchup.

UPDATE: Fournette practiced in full on Friday, and is expected to be fine for this game.

Mike Evans (WR, TB)

Mike Evans has taken a backseat to Godwin in recent weeks, but he’s still put up 90+ yards in consecutive games. We all know how he has challenges with Saints corner Marshon Lattimore though, which keeps Evans in the lukewarm section for this week. Evans is still worth a look as an upside WR2, but he’s more volatile than usual because of the matchup. This keeps him in the lukewarm section.

Taysom Hill (QB, NO)

Taysom Hill has been a terrific fantasy producer since taking over as starter finishing as QB8 and QB4 during that span. The problem here is that the Saints are 10.5-point road underdogs with an 18-point implied total. This means that there projects to be fewer scoring opportunities in this matchup. Add in the fact that Hill is still dealing with a finger injury that limits his passing and you have a lukewarm spot here. He’s still a QB1, but temper your expectations.

Alvin Kamara (RB, NO)

Alvin Kamara returned to the lineup and rushed 27 times for 120 yards and a touchdown, catching 4-of-5 targets for 25 yards. The Bucs have shown some cracks in the armor as a run defense, ranking 18th in Rush EPA, but I still think this is one of their strengths as a unit. Kamara will have to make an impact in the passing game in order to approach his ceiling in this game, which is definitely possible given Hill’s finger injury, which could force him to check it down more often. Kamara is a lukewarm RB1 in this spot.

Injuries:

NO RB Mark Ingram (COVID-19)
TB RB Leonard Fournette (ankle)

Win Big With RotoBaller

Be sure to also check out all of our other daily fantasy football articles and analysis to help you draft those winning teams, including this new RotoBaller YouTube video:

https://www.rotoballer.com/fantasy-football-start-em-sit-em-week-15-matchups-analysis/975308 Fantasy Football Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em for Week 15 (2021)

Britta Zeltmann

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