Divisional Matchups

Start Here ::

To an extent, even the idea of sitting down right now to write up all four of these games seems a bit silly. After all, we’ve been doing this for 18 weeks now, and I’d say it’s 99% likely that most of you already know what we are dealing with in these games. Our goal on the site, of course (like a good football team…) is to not follow some preconceived script of “how we always do things,” but is instead to maximize the value of what we are able to provide. As such, we’ll be taking the following approach this week:

>> Below ‘The Matchup’ section for each game, we’ll run through “the things we already know” — i.e., the ways these matchups set up, and the ways players from these games should be viewed as a result.

>> At the end of the final game (Seahawks at Packers), we’ll link to the ‘Interpretation’ section, in which we’ll hit two key elements :: 1) A look at how the slate sets up from a “likeliest to happen” perspective, and 2) A look at some alternate angles to consider in each game if looking to build a tourney edge with some multi-entry play.

This should set us up better than any other approach for this weekend’s slate.

Let’s get started!


Kickoff Saturday, Jan 11th 4:35pm Eastern

Vikings (
18.75) at

49ers (
25.75)

Over/Under 44.5

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Notes

Key Matchups
Vikings Run D
19th DVOA/22nd Yards allowed per carry
49ers Run O
13th DVOA/10th Yards per carry
Vikings Pass D
26th DVOA/28th Yards allowed per pass
49ers Pass O
3rd DVOA/5th Yards per pass
49ers Run D
2nd DVOA/2nd Yards allowed per carry
Vikings Run O
28th DVOA/26th Yards per carry
49ers Pass D
5th DVOA/10th Yards allowed per pass
Vikings Pass O
15th DVOA/20th Yards per pass

The Matchup ::

:: Powered by Lex Miraglia

  • As CIN’s DC, Zimmer allowed 28, 28, & 24 points from Shanahan offenses quarterbacked by Schaub & RG3
  • As MIN’s HC, Zimmer allowed 10 & 16 points from Shanahan offenses quarterbacked by Ryan & Garoppolo
  • In the 2 MIN games, Shanahan’s offense turned the ball over 3 & 4 times
  • In 2019, SF ranks 19th in turnovers with 7 games of multiple turnovers, and MIN ranks 4th in takeaways with 9 games of multiple takeaways
  • The lead pass-catchers in those 5 games averaged 10 & 7.2 targets
  • George Kittle has received 7+ targets in 10/14 games this year
  • The lead back in those 5 games averaged 16.2 attempts, and three times another back had 9+ carries
  • Raheem Mostert’s attempts last 5 games: 19 // 10 // 14 // 11 // 10
  • Mostert has been above 53 total yards and 1+ touchdowns in 6 straight games
  • While Mostert’s total snaps have been decreasing, his snap percentage has remained the same at 54% each of the last 3 weeks
  • On 9 attempts over the last 5 weeks, Deebo Samuel has rushed for 122 yards and 2 TDs
  • In Deebo’s only 4 games above 16 DK points, Kittle missed two of them and saw his lowest target total of the year in another (3 vs CIN)
  • When facing offenses ranked in the top half of the NFL for efficiency, SF has allowed 25, 27, 26, 8, 20, 46, 29, 31, & 21 points
  • MIN ranks 10th in offensive efficiency
  • Christian McCaffrey and Kenyan Drake are the only two RBs to top 20 DK points vs SF this year
  • After scoring 20+ DK points in 7 of the first 10 games, Dalvin Cook topped 20 DK points last week for the first time since Week 10
  • 5 of Cook’s 8 games over 20 DK points came in double-digit wins, and only one came in a loss (13.5 points came on one play)
  • SF has allowed multiple touchdowns to WRs in four straight games
  • The #1 WR in those four games is averaging 9.5 rec (14.5 targets) for 116.5 yards, TD
  • Stefon Diggs has not reached 100 yards since Week 11, and has only cleared 6 targets in 2 of the last 8 games
  • Adam Thielen had 8 targets in 3 of the first 6 games before leaving Week 7 with an injury
  • After combining for just 8 targets the rest of the season, Thielen racked up 129 yards on 9 targets vs NOR
  • In last year’s matchup, Diggs had 3 rec (6) for 43 yards, TD and Thielen had 6 rec (12) for 102 yards

The Game ::

San Francisco and Minnesota ran the ball at the third and second highest rates in the NFL this last year. (Side note :: six of the eight teams remaining in the playoffs ranked top nine in rush play rate. As we’ve noted multiple times this year: there are some flaws in the analytic community’s “running the ball is dumb” stance (that’s not the exact stance, of course, but it’s a fair encapsulation), with the biggest flaw “specific to individual teams” being that good football teams build not around a preconceived notion of how to win games, but instead around their individual personnel, strengths, and weaknesses. For example: the Saints and Patriots have bounced all over the pass play rate charts over the last few years — ranking at times near the top, at times near the bottom, and at times in the middle, based around a large variety of factors. Separating from individual teams: The biggest logical flaw of all in this line of thinking is that nothing happens in isolation in the NFL. Whereas MLB analytics directed toward increasing run production make all the sense in the world (as run production has no impact on a team’s defense), the NFL is a completely different animal, with everything working synergistically between the offense and the defense. Therefore, “winning in the NFL” is not about maximizing points, but is instead about properly managing the path to victory for your specific personnel, in a specific game environment. Coaches who understand these things — Bill Belichick, John Harbaugh, Sean Payton, Kyle Shanahan, etc. — are more consistently successful (and have greater staying power) than coaches who don’t understand this. These coaches have had successful run-heavy years and successful pass-heavy years, with their team’s approach adapted around personnel and “what it will take to win most games” with said personnel. (There are even flaws in the “don’t have to run the ball in order for play action to work” data/analysis. Maybe we’ll get to that at some point as well. But for now, we should probably get back to the games…)) San Francisco’s rushing attack will be focused on Raheem Mostert first and foremost, though as one of the 49ers’ most valuable special teams pieces, he has maxed out at 15 touches across his last four games and is still a rotational piece who will split work with Tevin Coleman (three to six touches per game in five straight) and Matt Breida (7 // 6 // 4 touches in his last three healthy games). Their passing attack will be focused on George Kittle, Deebo Samuel, and Emmanuel Sanders. Kittle sets up as the locked-in target leader against a Minnesota team that has been incapable all year of taking away tight ends, which means that the best way for one of the wideouts on San Francisco to emerge is through a big play (rather than through a volume bet — with volume considered a bonus if it shows up). Deebo’s awesome after-catch ability makes him a better bet for a big play. Minnesota is stronger against the run than they are against the pass, though San Francisco’s creative run scheme should find enough ways to move the ball on the ground that game flow (i.e., the Vikings jumping out to a big lead) would likely be required for the 49ers to go pass-heavy here, as matchup alone will not be enough.

Minnesota, of course, is going to lean on Dalvin Cook — to whom they gave 31 touches last week in one of the toughest run game matchups in the league — against a 49ers defense that is better attacked on the ground than through the air. When they throw the ball, they’ll focus on Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs (with Olabisi Johnson stepping into a shaved-down version of Thielen’s role if Thielen unexpectedly misses this week due to the cut he sustained on his ankle) — against one of the stingiest secondaries in the NFL. Volume has not been friendly to the Vikings’ pass catchers, and that should remain the case unless the Vikings fall into a big hole (and even then, volume may be tough to come by, as it’s still difficult to pass against the 49ers, and a pass-heavy approach in catch-up mode could just lead to quickly-stalled drives, and to the 49ers further controlling the clock on the ground). As such, Diggs and Thielen should only be bet on for “big plays” or for “hoping for a multi-touchdown game.” The Vikings rarely use three wide receivers (instead opting for 21 or 12 personnel), keeping Irv Smith and Kyle Rudolph in the “bet on touchdowns” conversation. Same as we said with the Patriots last week: it won’t be surprising if no player from the Vikings finds his way onto a winning tourney roster this week. If any player does find his way there, Cook as a “bet on workload and talent” bet has the best shot.

Xandamere’s Showdown Notes ::

  • George Kittle is my overall favorite play in this game and he’s only the 3rd most expensive guy!
  • Dalvin Cook is the most expensive player but the 49ers defense is more vulnerable to the run than the pass and we know the Vikings will keep it on the ground as much as they possibly can. I think he’s a fine play as long as you believe the game stays close.
  • Jimmy G is a better play than Kirk Cousins, but Cousins is fine if betting on a more contrarian game script. 
  • Deebo is, at long last, more expensive than Emmanuel Sanders. They’re seeing similar target volume but Deebo gets a couple of carries per game, which bolsters his floor and ceiling. But, he’s unlikely to score a 30 yard rushing TD every game, so I actually think I like Sanders better here at a $1k discount and almost certainly less ownership.
  • Similarly, I’ll take Diggs over Thielen at a lower price and probably lower ownership after Thielen smashed last week.
  • The value plays are thin here. Kyle Rudolph is priced up to $5,600, Irv Smith seemed phased out of last week’s game, and Kendrick Bourne is the 4th receiver on a low passing volume offense. The only value plays I really find interesting are Tevin Coleman and Matt Breida, as either of them could either be the back to run in a touchdown or just see the San Francisco running back volume pendulum swing back their way. 
  • When I don’t like the value plays, that means I’m playing more of the kickers and defenses. 

Some groups to consider:

  • At most 1 kicker
  • At most 1 defense
  • Pair captain receivers with their QB
  • Pair captain QBs with at least 2 receivers
  • At most 2 49ers running backs
  • At most 1 of Rudolph, Smith, and Johnson

Kickoff Saturday, Jan 11th 8:15pm Eastern

Titans (
18.75) at

Ravens (
28.25)

Over/Under 47.0

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Notes

Key Matchups
Titans Run D
2nd DVOA/2nd Yards allowed per carry
Ravens Run O
2nd DVOA/3rd Yards per carry
Titans Pass D
27th DVOA/24th Yards allowed per pass
Ravens Pass O
16th DVOA/17th Yards per pass
Ravens Run D
7th DVOA/3rd Yards allowed per carry
Titans Run O
18th DVOA/17th Yards per carry
Ravens Pass D
11th DVOA/13th Yards allowed per pass
Titans Pass O
19th DVOA/13th Yards per pass

The Matchup ::

:: Powered by Lex Miraglia

  • Greg Roman’s offense has faced Dean Pees’ defense twice, scoring 29 with Kaepernick in the Super Bowl and scoring 7 with Tyrod Taylor (one week before he was fired by Rex Ryan)
  • Kaepernick & Gore combined for 172 yards on the ground, while Tyrod & McCoy combined for just 69 yards
  • Lamar Jackson has just 3 games all season below 60 rushing yards
  • 10 of 15 starting QBs vs TEN threw for multiple TDs in 2019
  • Jackson has thrown between 3-5 TDs in 6 of his last 7 games
  • TEN has allowed the 5th most DK points to opposing TEs with the 3rd most touchdowns allowed to the position
  • Mark Andrews has received 7+ targets in 10 of 14 full games he’s played this year while scoring 10 touchdowns (2nd amongst all receivers)
  • Only 2 opposing backs have rushed for 100+ yards vs TEN this year (CMC & Hyde)
  • TEN has allowed the 2nd most receptions to RBs and the 9th most yards
  • A Ravens RB has only topped 3 targets three times this year (4 targets: Ingram 2x, Hill), and no time was it Edwards (Ingram still Questionable)
  • TEN’s offense ranks 6th in total efficiency
  • BAL has faced three top-10 efficiency offenses this year, allowing 33 to KC (no Peters or Smith), 16 to SEA, and 17 to SF
  • In the 2018 matchup, Henry only saw 7 carries while Mariota was sacked 11 times
  • Only the Saints faced fewer rush attempts than the Ravens this year, but 7 teams allowed fewer rushing yards and 15 teams allowed fewer rushing TDs
  • Derrick Henry has rushed for more than 149 yards in 6 of his last 8 games, and in the other 2 games he still combined for 189 rushing yards
  • In A.J. Brown’s 5 games with Tannehill vs top-15 efficiency pass defenses, he has totaled 9 receptions for 147 yards, 1 rec TD, & 1 rush TD
  • That’s just 40.6 DK points in 5 games, and only 29.7 when removing his 49-yard rushing score

The Game ::

Titans at Ravens gives us another game with two of the run-heaviest teams in the NFL — and while the Vikings and 49ers are an interesting matchup in that both teams have similar foundational elements on offense (which means that both defenses have practiced all season against a number of the looks they’ll see on Saturday), this is an interesting matchup in that both of these teams are, in part, built around the idea that one of the advantages in the 2019/2020 version of the NFL is the fact that so many teams are built with more of a “finesse” mindset, and simply playing with a far more physical style than most teams are used to can therefore create an edge. To put that another way: both of these teams capitalize on being more sturdy and physical than their opponent, which should make for a great clash on Saturday night.

As we have explored throughout the season, the Ravens are “not bad, but are certainly not scary” against the run, while they are absolutely elite against the pass. Baltimore might not be able to line up and whip the Titans’ offensive line with a straight four-man rush, but that won’t matter, because they’ll hardly attempt that at all. Instead, they’ll send exotic blitzes throughout the game to take advantage of Ryan Tannehill’s tendency to hold onto the ball too long, and they’ll look to trap Tanny into mistakes on short-area routes when he gets rid of the ball too quickly. Same as last week for Tennessee: any bets outside of Derrick Henry are just “hoping for a broken play or multiple touchdowns.” A.J. Brown, Jonnu Smith, and Corey Davis (in that order) are the players with the best shot at tripping into a big game through the air. Henry, of course, will have almost no aerial involvement, making him a pure yardage-and-touchdown back; though he’ll be involved enough on the ground (and is beastly enough with the ball in his hands) that he still has a shot at succeeding here. If any team can “out-physical” the Titans’ run game, it’s the Ravens, so there is certainly roster-cratering potential here; but there is also top-of-the-slate potential, giving Henry one of the broader ranges of viable outcomes on the slate.

The Ravens boast the player who has been the most lock-button option in the league this year in Lamar Jackson, whose rushing prowess not only sets him apart, but who also led the entire NFL in passing touchdowns (in spite of failing to top even 240 passing yards in each of his last 11 games on the year). Expect the Titans to try to hold the point of attack with their linemen while aiming to use their linebacker and secondary speed to shut off the outside — though this is easier said than done, and Lamar is quite a bit more than just “speed.” Non-Lamar pieces on the Ravens have not been easy to forecast this year, as this team adjusts throughout the game based on what the defense is giving them — but everything flows through Lamar.

On the ground, it will be Mark Ingram (assuming he is cleared from his calf issue) — though Ingram (recent reception totals of 3 // 1 // 2 // 3 // 1 // 2) has quietly failed to top 15 carries in 10 consecutive games. He tends to pop for big games when he scores and tends to disappoint when he doesn’t. The Titans and Ravens finished first and second in red zone touchdown rate on offense this season, but the Titans ranked 30th on defense while the Ravens ranked third, giving the Ravens a nice “in close scoring” edge. If Ingram misses, Gus Edwards will step up for around 15 carries of his own, though without Ingram’s pass game role. Justice Hill will then step into what is typically the Edwards role (usually leading to around six to eight touches), with a higher likelihood of pass game involvement than Edwards ever has.

Through the air, Mark Andrews (seven or more targets in all but five games this year) tends to become a decent play when he doesn’t score, while carrying slate-breaking potential for his big-play and touchdown-scoring ability. The Titans allowed the fourth most tight end touchdowns this year as part of their red zone woes. (This could also lead to a touchdown bleeding out to Hayden Hurst or even Nick Boyle.) Behind Andrews, this is a low-volume passing attack of simply hoping to guess right on a big play or a touchdown — with Marquise Brown the best bet for both.

Xandamere’s Showdown Notes ::

  • Lamar is incredibly expensive but he outprojects everyone else in this game by such a massive amount that I just don’t see how you fade him unless you’re building for a scenario in which he gets hurt early (don’t do that, you monster).
  • I’m pretty content to be underweight Ingram here coming off of what seems like a fairly meaningful injury in a game as a massive favorite. He’s expected to play, but he’s always a guy who gets less work than most running backs in his price range and he could see even less in this game. GusBus and Hill are interesting tourney plays if you think the Ravens lean on them more, or have Ingram take a seat in the second half if they’re up by a lot.
  • I always have a hard time figuring out the Ravens receivers. Mark Andrews is the clear top option here but you’re paying $9,200 for a guy who averaged about 6.5 targets per game in the regular season, which is pretty outrageous. Of course, it doesn’t get better with their other receivers, and the Titans receivers on the other side have the same problem.
  • If betting on a standard game script, I’ll take A.J. Brown in a more difficult matchup but with likely better volume as Tennessee chases, then Andrews, then Marquise Brown out of the top receivers. 
  • Corey Davis at $4,800 is a much stronger value play this week than he was last week in a nightmare matchup, but for the price I think Jonnu Smith at just $3,600 is my overall favorite Titan (which isn’t saying much). 
  • The Ravens pass to the tight end so often that Hurst and Boyle are, as always, in play.
  • Derrick Henry is objectively overpriced as a significant road underdog who doesn’t get pass game work, but while that hurts his floor, he still possesses a top-of-the-slate ceiling and he’s going to go relatively underowned here.

Some groups to consider:

  • At most 1 kicker
  • At most 1 defense
  • Pair captain receivers with their QB
  • Pair captain QBs with at least 1 receiver (both QBs here are fully capable of running in a score and they don’t need to be stacked as heavily)
  • At most 2 Baltimore running backs
  • At most 2 Baltimore receivers not named Andrews and Brown

Kickoff Sunday, Jan 12th 3:05pm Eastern

Texans (
20.75) at

Chiefs (
30.25)

Over/Under 51.0

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Notes

Key Matchups
Texans Run D
24th DVOA/28th Yards allowed per carry
Chiefs Run O
17th DVOA/7th Yards per carry
Texans Pass D
18th DVOA/27th Yards allowed per pass
Chiefs Pass O
1st DVOA/2nd Yards per pass
Chiefs Run D
17th DVOA/14th Yards allowed per carry
Texans Run O
32nd DVOA/30th Yards per carry
Chiefs Pass D
22nd DVOA/5th Yards allowed per pass
Texans Pass O
31st DVOA/25th Yards per pass

The Matchup ::

:: Powered by Lex Miraglia

  • Andy Reid’s Chiefs vs O’Brien & Crennel’s Texans have gone 3-2, scoring 27, 30, 12, 42, and 24 points in the five games (4 with Smith, 1 with Mahomes)
  • In the 2 losses, KC turned the ball over a combined 5 times, including a Mahomes INT while up 17-9 that was hotly debated due to a picked-up penalty flag
  • In those five games, Smith & Mahomes combined for three games of 3 TDs, and KC RBs scored 4 times through the air
  • In 2019, HOU has allowed seven QBs to throw for 3+ TDs and is tied for the most receiving touchdowns allowed to RBs with 8
  • Damien Williams has the most rushing and receiving production of all KC RBs this year, and in his last four full games he has touch totals of 14 // 26 // 19 // 19
  • HOU ranks 26th in pass efficiency defense
  • In 6 games vs bottom-12 pass efficiency defenses, KC’s offense has scored 40, 28, 27, 24, 32, and 33 points
  • Travis Kelce has received under 8 targets in just three games all year
  • Texans starting safety Tashaun Gipson has been placed on IR
  • WRs to clear 100yds vs HOU: Thomas, Ginn, Allen, Pascal, Edelman, Perriman, AJ Brown (x2)
  • Tyreek Hill has only topped 13 DK points once in his last six games, but he did score 25 DK points vs HOU in a game he only played half the snaps
  • KC is ranked 6th in pass efficiency defense
  • Watson’s DK point totals vs 2019 top-12 pass efficiency defenses: 12.6 // 31.4 // 6.0 // 28.9 // 10.1 // 29.4
  • In those 6 games, Watson has a 5:5 TD:INT ratio, and has thrown for under 200 yards in half of them, been sacked 27 times, rushed 41 times for 157 yards & 4 TDs, and caught a TD
  • Watson has been at 6+ rush attempts in his last 4 games with at least 30 yards in all 4
  • KC is one of only 2 teams all year to not sack Deshaun Watson
  • After having just 1 sack and 3 QB hits in the first 6 games, Frank Clark has 7 sacks and 11 QB hits in his last 8 games
  • Only the Patriots allowed fewer DK points to WRs in 2019 than the Chiefs, and both ranked ahead of the next lowest team by over 43 DK points
  • In the last month, KC allowed notable slot-usage WRs Edelman & Allen to both top 8 receptions, 80 yards, and a TD
  • Hopkins spent more time in the slot vs BUF last week than he had all season (although, all of his production in the game did come when lined up on the outside)
  • DeAndre Hopkins has between 8 and 13 targets in every game but one, in which he still had 7 targets
  • KC allowed the 3rd most RB receptions and 87 more receiving yards to RBs than any other team
  • Duke Johnson has topped 30 yards receiving in 7 games this year
  • Hyde and Johnson have topped just 18 DK points a combined 5 times this year

The Game ::

Texans at Chiefs could end up as anything from a Chiefs blowout win to a close, back-and-forth affair (with only “a Texans blowout win” far outside the range of likely outcomes), as the Chiefs should have no trouble moving up and down the field against the Texans defense, while the Texans will look to attack the soft run defense of the Chiefs for as long as they can before (likely) eventually handing the ball to Deshaun Watson and asking him to create more magic against this stout Kansas City secondary. In spite of the Chiefs leaning pass-heavy on offense (with a number two DVOA ranking in passing offense compared to number 14 on the ground), they were still able to control games this year — allowing the sixth fewest opponent drives per game. Houston ranked 30th in opponent drive success rate, while the Chiefs ranked second in drive success rate on offense. Kansas City ranked sixth in plays per drive, while the Texans allowed the fifth most opponent plays per drive. “Big plays” is a better bet to make on the Houston offense than “volume.”

Similar to Lamar Jackson, Patrick Mahomes has been able to produce elite DFS scores without necessarily carrying individual pass catchers up with him, as this offense will focus on Travis Kelce (recent target counts of 8 // 9 // 7 // 10 // 9 // 9 // 13 // 9 // 5), Tyreek Hill (2 // 8 // 8 // 7 // 5 // 5), and Damien Williams (recent healthy touch counts of 14 // 24 // 19 // 16), though they will also bleed out valuable touches to Mecole Hardman, Sammy Watkins, Demarcus Robinson, LeSean McCoy, and Darwin Thompson. The Chiefs’ offense is built around speed and spacing — with these speed/spacing pieces occasionally schemed looks to keep the defense focused on all areas of the field, and with further opportunities given to these background players when plays break down and Mahomes is forced to freelance outside the pocket. Kelce has a solid matchup against a Houston defense missing stalwart Tashaun Gipson, while Hill has both “slate-breaking upside” and “a low price-considered floor” to his name (there is nothing in the matchup that should scare us off Hill, so the only real question is “does he break off a couple big plays, or doesn’t he?”). Williams is also a standout option with the Texans struggling to handle pass-catching backs all season (McCoy should be active, and should finally see some more work, but Williams has performed well enough lately that he should remain a featured piece, with a chunk of his value coming through the air) — leaving us with three players who are “likeliest” to take advantage in this spot (Williams, Kelce, and Hill — in that order, though with Williams/Kelce close), and with a number of other pieces on the Chiefs that could either A) do enough to limit the ceiling on the core pieces for this team, without quite doing enough to matter themselves, or B) less likely, but still possible: do enough to matter themselves.

When these teams last met, Carlos Hyde carried the ball 26 times and rushed for 116 yards — one of only three games this year with 100+ yards on the ground for Hyde (and one of only six games with more than 73 yards on the ground). Across his last 13 games combined, Hyde has six receptions for 39 yards, making him the absolute definition of a yardage-and-touchdown back, so the big question here — in a game that sets up well for production on the ground — is how game flow will ultimately set up for the Texans’ run game. If the Chiefs jump out to a lead, it will be difficult for Hyde to produce, but Hyde has a shot at turning into a useful piece on this slate if the Texans are able to control this contest.

Through the air — as we know — the Texans will take on a Chiefs defense that ranked sixth in DVOA and allowed the eighth fewest pass plays of 20+ yards, while allowing the fifth fewest yards per pass attempt, the fewest wide receiver catches, and the fewest wide receiver yards. DeAndre Hopkins — as explored throughout the last half of the season — has been operating as a target hog (with more of a downfield role) when Will Fuller misses, while operating as more of a “1A” than a true alpha when Fuller plays (with his aDOT shortened up as well). Hopkins will be a bet-on-talent-and-volume piece if Fuller misses, while he will be a bet-on-talent piece if Fuller plays. If we played out this slate a hundred times, Hopkins would disappoint at his price tag far more often than not, but he would still sneak a few big games in there as things break down and the Texans send prayers his way in the hopes he can make something happen.

Fuller, of course, dropped multiple long touchdowns against the Chiefs when these teams last met, which speaks to his upside if he plays. He’s also a fairly one-dimensional player with a low floor when he misses, and the Chiefs are excellent at defending what Fuller does well, making him a classic boom/bust piece if he is out there. (If you want to take a shot on Fuller: potentially working in his favor is the Chiefs’ loss of stud rookie free safety Juan Thornhill, who has been one of the key pieces in the turnaround for this defense on the back end. It only takes one mistake for Fuller to post a big game.) Behind Fuller and Hopkins, it will be Kenny Stills as a “close your eyes and hope a downfield shot turns into a touchdown” option, alongside Darren Fells and Jordan Akins as short-area, “hope for a touchdown” options against a Chiefs defense that has struggled against tight ends on the year.

Xandamere’s Showdown Notes ::

  • This is the game with the highest total on the week, though that’s largely because of the Chiefs, as the Texans are only projected for around 20 points (remember, as always, that the Chiefs pass defense is quietly elite).
  • The Texans will want to run the ball here. Have fun playing Carlos Hyde (but seriously, while I wouldn’t want to go all in here, I’ll remember that running backs with goal-line roles always carry value in showdown as it just takes one PI call in the end zone to get them a score and make them relevant).
  • Duke Johnson’s role has, maddeningly, not really expanded when the Texans are behind (or at least not much; he generally gets his 3-6 targets per game no matter what). Maybe that changes in the playoffs with the season on the line, which is much more likely if Fuller misses, but it’s a risky play. 
  • Speaking of risky plays: every receiver on the Texans except Hopkins is at risk of a truly disappointing score, while even Hopkins is likely to bust more often than not in this matchup. If Fuller plays, Hopkins sees less volume but more attractive targets, as Fuller stretches the field, while if Fuller misses, Hopkins sees more volume but more defensive attention. Fuller, of course, has massive ceiling at a very reasonable price, but also a barren floor and a very real in-game reinjury risk. 
  • Travis Kelce is my favorite Chiefs receiver in this game. Tyreek Hill is, of course, also great, but with a more volatile range of outcomes. Sammy Watkins is “averaging” 10.2 DK points per game but has only exceeded 13.3 points once in the entire season, all the way back in Week 1. The rest of the Chiefs’ rotational receivers are pure dart throws (I hate Mecole Hardman with the fire of a thousand suns). 
  • Damien Williams is, hands down, my favorite skill position player in this game. He’ll come with massive ownership as an $8k home favorite running back with pass game work in a positive matchup, so you can always lean on touchdowns going the other way; Damien could be as high as 70% owned in the showdown tourney for this one, which creates an awful lot of leverage on the field should he stumble into a poor game.

Some groups to consider:

  • At most 1 kicker
  • At most 1 defense
  • Pair captain receivers with their QB (you could consider breaking this rule for Hopkins, especially if Fuller is out, and bet that he gets there via volume while the Chiefs smash but in a more spread out fashion)
  • Pair captain Watson with at least 1 receiver and captain Mahomes with at least 2 receivers
  • At most 2 Chiefs running backs
  • At most 1 of the Chiefs rotational receivers
  • At least 1 of Tyreek, Kelce, and Damien Williams

Kickoff Sunday, Jan 12th 6:40pm Eastern

Hawks (
21.5) at

Packers (
25.5)

Over/Under 47.0

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Notes

Key Matchups
Seahawks Run D
25th DVOA/26th Yards allowed per carry
Packers Run O
3rd DVOA/11th Yards per carry
Seahawks Pass D
17th DVOA/19th Yards allowed per pass
Packers Pass O
15th DVOA/21st Yards per pass
Packers Run D
32nd DVOA/29th Yards allowed per carry
Seahawks Run O
23rd DVOA/7th Yards per carry
Packers Pass D
8th DVOA/23rd Yards allowed per pass
Seahawks Pass O
8th DVOA/24th Yards per pass

The Matchup ::

:: Powered by Lex Miraglia

  • In 3 games vs Mike Pettine, Russell Wilson is averaging 220.7 passing yards, 2.3 TDs, & 32.3 rushing yards, in 3 Wins with point totals of 28, 30, & 27
  • Against top-10 pass efficiency offenses, GB has allowed point totals of 16, 24, 24, 26, 37, & 10, with both games under 20 coming vs MIN
  • SEA ranks 4th in pass efficiency, averaging 25.3 ppg and scoring 27+ in 10/17 games
  • In 5 games without Duane Brown, SEA has scored 32 vs CLE, 16 vs BAL, 13 vs ARI, 21 vs SF, and 17 vs PHI
  • With G Mike Iupati vs SF, Travis Homer totaled 92 yards on 15 touches in his first start
  • Without Iupati vs PHI, Homer totaled 17 yards on 12 touches
  • Tyler Lockett has as many games under 10 DK Points (6) as he does games over 17 DK Points
  • 2 of Metcalf’s 3 games above 20 DK points have come in the last 2 weeks
  • Only CAR allowed more rushing TDs to RBs than SEA (18) in 2019
  • Aaron Jones tied for the most rushing TDs in 2019 with 16, and his 19 total TDs led everyone
  • Jamaal Williams left the game vs MIN in W16, and Aaron Jones recorded 48 carries for 254 yards in the last two games 
  • Jones had only received more than 13 carries once since W5 before the last 2 games
  • WRs to clear 100 yards vs SEA: Ross, Kupp, Odell, Julio, Evans, D Samuel x2, DJ Moore
  • Ross, Julio, and Evans all cleared 150 yards vs SEA
  • Tyler Boyd is the only receiver to receive double-digit targets vs SEA and not eclipse 100 yards
  • In his last 9 games, Davante Adams has only received fewer than 10 targets one time
  • On 42 targets over the last 3 games, Adams has amassed 312 yards and 2 TDs
  • The only QBs to throw for over 300 yards vs SEA in 2019 are Dalton, Goff, Schaub, and Winston
  • Rodgers has almost as many games under 200 yards (3) as he does over 300 yards (4)

The Game ::

Through the first three games, things stack up pretty easily ::

Lamar Jackson and Patrick Mahomes are the quarterbacks likeliest to hit, while Deshaun Watson has an outside shot at “magicking” himself into the discussion.

Dalvin Cook and Derrick Henry are “bet on volume in bad spots for their offense, but good individual matchup” options at the higher end of the price range, while Mostert // Ingram // Williams are all players who have capped touches but can produce on big plays, touchdowns, and (in the case of Williams) pass-catching — with Hyde on the fringe of all this for his yardage-and-touchdown role as a big road underdog.

Wide receivers are fairly ugly, with volume expected to be low for the Vikings, 49ers, Titans, Ravens, and Texans wideouts, and with the Vikings, Titans, and Texans having poor matchups to boot. With Tyreek Hill the main wide receiver on the only remaining passing attack — and with Hill generally failing to top eight targets — it would not be even a little bit surprising if no wide receiver from the first three games sees more than nine targets, making wide receiver the best spot to “bet on upside and hope things click in place.”

Tight ends give us plenty to like, with Kittle // Andrews // Kelce all likely to see seven to 10 targets, and with each guy in a good spot. There are even outside “bet on touchdown” cases to be made for tight ends from the Vikings, Titans, and Texans.

Seattle at Green Bay, then, becomes the least straightforward — if only for the fact that neither of these teams does a great job of maximizing their talent from a stats-driven standpoint, with the Seahawks (as explored throughout the year) content to “play for the fourth quarter,” and with the Packers set on dividing work in the backfield between Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams when both guys are healthy, in spite of Jones’ clearly superior skill set.

We’ll start on the Green Bay side, where the mention of wide receivers above leads us to the one wideout on this slate with a clear shot at double-digit looks: Davante Adams. Adams has seen double-digit looks in eight of his last nine games, with 12+ looks in five of those games. The Packers do a good job adjusting his routes for coverage, and Aaron Rodgers’ ability to “run the offense at the line of scrimmage” (as well as his comfort level with Adams, and the raw nature of the other options in this pass game) almost guarantees a high share of the Packers’ available targets in any given game. Adams is the most straightforward skill position player on the slate — which obviously doesn’t “guarantee” that elite production will follow; but it does mean that he enters this slate with the fewest paths to a dud and the most paths to a high-end score of any player available. Behind Adams, Allen Lazard has been the clear number two option for Rodgers lately (recent target counts of 3 // 3 // 9 // 8), while Geronimo Allison (1 // 4 // 2 // 4), Jake Kumerow (0 // 1 // 1 // 2), Marquez Valdes-Scantling (0 // 1 // 1 // 7), Jimmy Graham (5 // 4 // 1 // 7), Marcedes Lewis (1 // 1 // 1 // 1), and even Robert Tonyan (1 // 2 // 0 // 3) all mix in behind him (with the running backs involved in the pass game as well). A fundamental understanding of how this offense is run — with most play designs flowing through Adams and the running backs, and with Rodgers running the show at the line of scrimmage as much as any quarterback in football and having a long history of leaning on the guys he trusts the most — reminds us that the best way for players outside the running backs and Davante Adams to produce is by getting open when Rodgers goes off script. This is where much of Lazard’s production has come of late (making this production viable, but less bankable than it might appear), and this also opens the door for a random big play or touchdown to come from an unexpected source. Ultimately, of course, the only bankable bets on Green Bay are Adams and the running backs — and with Jamaal Williams set to return (recent healthy touch counts of 13 // 18 // 14 // 8 // 9, compared to touch counts in those games for Aaron Jones of 13 // 13 // 15 // 22 // 13), even the backfield has its question marks. As broken down above in The Matchup section :: this is a solid spot for the Packers’ backfield as a whole — so compare the touch counts on the Packers’ backs to the other running backs available on the slate, and ask if you want to bet on volume for other guys, or if you want to bet on efficiency for Packers backs.

The Seahawks’ backs are even less straightforward, as this team is all but certain to lean toward the run against this Packers team that finished the season 23rd in DVOA against the run but 10th against the pass, and that allowed the second fewest wide receiver catches in the league. Unfortunately, Marshawn Lynch is going to operate as the short-yardage + goal line + clock-killing back, while Travis Homer is going to operate as the more traditional “lead” back, but with his touches capped (15 // 11 in the last two) by the presence of Lynch, and with his chances for a touchdown much slimmer. Furthermore — as explored throughout the year — the Seahawks tend to set themselves up in scoring position on the ground, but then tend to score through the air. Either of these backs will need to bust out a couple big plays or multiple scores in order to rise up the slate.

The note about the Packers having allowed the second fewest wide receiver catches can be a bit misleading if taken out of context, so to frame it in the proper context :: Green Bay allowed a monstrous 15.84 yards per reception to wideouts this year (with a ridiculous 13 teams allowing fewer yards to wideouts than the Packers, in spite of this team giving up the second fewest catches) — so while targets were not plentiful for wideouts in this matchup (eighth fewest in the league), production was still plentiful in this spot around big plays. D.K. Metcalf (recent target counts of 6 // 7 // 6 // 4 // 1 // 12 // 9) has become the preferred target for Russell Wilson, but Tyler Lockett (2 // 3 // 6 // 9 // 7 // 7 // 8) is still very much involved, and his big-play upside (13.01 yards per catch this year — not on the same level with Metcalf’s 16.31, but still solid) remains more than theoretical. Each player scored eight touchdowns on the year, making each an interesting option to consider in spite of the Packers doing a good job tightening up against wideouts in the red zone (fifth fewest WR touchdowns allowed). Although the Seahawks are likely to lean run-heavy, this attack is concentrated enough that Metcalf and Lockett both see fairly steady volume. Joining these two will be Jacob Hollister as a “hope for a touchdown on his short-area role” option and some rotation/combination of David Moore, Malik Turner, and Jaron Brown (the latter two of whom are expected to return this week).

JM’s Interpretation ::

The full-slate Interpretation can be found here.

Xandamere’s Showdown Notes ::

  • Not the highest total game but the closest spread, which gives the best opportunities to build in different ways, from a beatdown to a shootout.
  • Jamaal Williams is, infuriatingly, back and likely to resume his very nearly even split with Aaron Jones, which means Jones is likely to be overowned relative to his median expectations (though still possessing a massive ceiling). Williams himself has a strong floor but without a tremendous ceiling.
  • Davante Adams, as always, is the safest Packer (and, given the Seahawks’ tendency to split work in weird and unpredictable ways, the safest skill position player overall).
  • Lazard has taken over the WR2 role but note that Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Jimmy Graham both saw 7 targets last week (which is completely out of nowhere for MVS as he saw a total of 2 targets the prior 3 weeks combined). I don’t know how this is shaking out but don’t forget about the ancillary receivers in MME.
  • The Seahawks’ run game has become far less playable of late, with Travis Homer’s pass game role diminishing last week in spite of playing more snaps than Marshawn Lynch. Lynch is the best bet for a touchdown, while Homer is likely to see the field more if the Hawks are behind. Both are priced reasonably but, overall, I think Hollister, Lazard, and Williams are all more attractive plays in the same price range.
  • D.K. Metcalf is likely to go overowned compared to Tyler Lockett despite having very similar overall expectation as people tend to chase recent production. Both are fine and both can certainly pop off here, but I want more exposure to Lockett at the discounted price.
  • David Moore’s lock on the WR3 role is set to vanish as Jaron Brown and Malik Turner are expected back. Both are significantly cheaper than Moore, while all are highly volatile and essentially just MME targets.

Some groups to consider:

  • At most 1 kicker
  • At most 1 defense
  • Pair captain receivers with their QB
  • Pair captain Russ with at least 1 receiver and captain Rodgers with at least 2 receivers
  • At most 1 of Lynch and Homer
  • At most 1 of Moore, Turner, and Brown
  • At most 2 of all Packers receivers aside from the running backs and Davante (you could even consider at most 1 here)