Packers Run D19th DVOA/23rd Yards allowed per carry
Lions Run O4th DVOA/4th Yards per carry
Packers Pass D17th DVOA/15th Yards allowed per pass
Lions Pass O9th DVOA/6th Yards per pass
Lions Run D7th DVOA/7th Yards allowed per carry
Packers Run O25th DVOA/20th Yards per carry
Lions Pass D13th DVOA/26th Yards allowed per pass
Packers Pass O10th DVOA/5th Yards per pass
Game Overview ::
By hilow >>
- Packers RBs Aaron Jones (knee) and Emanuel Wilson (shoulder) did not participate in Monday’s walkthrough (estimated) after sustaining injuries in Week 11.
- Packers WR Dontayvion Wicks (concussion/knee) was also a ‘DNP’ on Monday’s estimated practice report – Wicks has been a steady contributor to the Green Bay offense of late.
- The Lions have a relatively clean bill of health, with only OG Jonah Jackson (wrist) listed as a ‘DNP’ on Monday’s walkthrough.
- The Packers have forced the second-shallowest aDOT on defense this season, reducing the allure of Jameson Williams and Kalif Raymond on this slate.
- Amon-Ra St. Brown has put up 100 yards or scored a touchdown in every game this season but has done both in the same game just twice, keeping him out of the discussion of truly elites at the position. That said, he has been the most consistent fantasy producer at wide receiver aside from Tyreek Hill this year.
- It remains a relative long shot, but the Packers picked up a game on the Vikings for the seventh, and final, playoff spot out of the NFC. They remain 1.5 games back, but an upset win over their division rivals on Thanksgiving would go a long way toward that bid, considering the Vikings still have to play the Lions twice at the end of the year and the Packers play the Vikings in Week 17.
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How GREEN BAY Will Try To Win ::
The Packers put the league on notice by scoring 10 first-half points against the Chargers in Week 11. Clearly I’m being facetious, as Green Bay has now scored a whopping 59 points in the first half (5.9 per game, 31st in the league) and a laughable 20 first-quarter points (2.0 per game, 30th in the league) through 10 games played. Yea, the Jets and Patriots have scored more first-half points than the Packers this season (only the Giants have scored fewer first-half points this season). As we’ve discussed previously, the first half is the part of NFL games where the team’s game plan is most prominent, shifting to a more reactive state in the late second quarter and third quarter, and devolving into an “all bets are off,” desperation state in the fourth quarter. As such, I personally point to head coach Matt LaFleur and the rest of the coaching staff for their struggles this season instead of using quarterback Jordan Love as the scapegoat. We’ve grown accustomed to seeing the Packers dominate time of possession through a methodical offense and prevent defense, forcing teams to march the field in the process. This year, however, they’re more allowing teams to march the field while struggling to sustain drives themselves. That has led to the second-most precipitous drop in average time of possession from last year to this year, ahead of only the Steelers. All of that comes together to tell the story of a team largely finding itself in catch-up mode late in games, particularly against superior opponents (which the Lions are).
With Jones and Wilson both banged up in Week 11, it looks like we’re going to see a backfield led by Dillon, with Patrick Taylor as the change-of-pace back in a difficult matchup against the Lions on Thanksgiving. Detroit has held opposing backs to just 3.8 yards per carry on a surprising 1.45 yards per carry allowed before contact, the latter of which ranks 27th in the league. Regardless of how they are schematically doing it, the Lions are holding opposing backs to just 16.5 DK points per game, good for fourth fewest in the league. Dillon is averaging 3.5 yards per carry of his own and has some of the lowest underlying metrics in the league, ranking 49th in juke rate (13.9 percent), 40th in evaded tackles (16 total, 1.8 per game), and 42nd in breakaway run rate (1.9 percent). Taylor was signed to the active roster on Monday and the team also signed James Robinson to the practice squad; should Robinson be elevated Wednesday, it would almost guarantee the absences of Jones and Wilson on Thursday.
The Packers have been utilizing a maddening six primary-pass-catcher rotation for the available four primary pass-catching positions of late, with all of Christian Watson, Romeo Doubs, Jayden Reed, Wicks and tight ends Luke Musgrave and Tucker Kraft playing meaningful snaps on a weekly basis since the team’s Week 6 bye. The concussion suffered by Wicks in Week 11 is likely to hold him out of action on the short week, which is likelier to lead to an increase in opportunity for Malik Heath than it is to condense the snap rates for the remaining five semi-starters. We know the drill by now with this unit – Watson holds one of the deepest aDOTs in the league but also has one of the lowest catchable-target rates, Doubs has a solid 25 percent red-zone target share but is targeted on just 21.2 percent of his routes, Reed has a low 72.8 percent route-participation rate while playing almost exclusively from the slot, and Musgrave has seen his snap rates lessened in recent weeks with fellow rookie Kraft taking on a larger role. The Lions have forced the eighth-highest pass play rate this season at 60.7 percent, but the Packers have been slow to adjust to matchups this season and could be left fighting for volume over two quarters worth of play.
How detroit Will Try To Win ::
Commanders Run D12th DVOA/25th Yards allowed per carry
Cowboys Run O21st DVOA/19th Yards per carry
Commanders Pass D32nd DVOA/31st Yards allowed per pass
Cowboys Pass O7th DVOA/9th Yards per pass
Cowboys Run D9th DVOA/13th Yards allowed per carry
Commanders Run O18th DVOA/6th Yards per carry
Cowboys Pass D6th DVOA/9th Yards allowed per pass
Commanders Pass O23rd DVOA/26th Yards per pass
Game Overview ::
By hilow >>
- Cowboys RB Rico Dowdle (ankle) was listed as a ‘DNP’ in Monday’s walkthrough. WR CeeDee Lamb was limited with an ankle issue as well, but recent remarks from head coach Mike McCarthy seem to indicate there is no real concern for his Week 12 availability.
- Commanders RB Antonio Gibson (toe) was limited on Monday’s estimated practice report as he tries to work his way back after missing Week 11’s contest.
- The Cowboys have been the most pass-heavy offense (in pass rate over expectation) over the previous month of play and the Commanders lead the league in pass attempts per game and pass play rate this season.
- Dak Prescott, Lamb, and Brandin Cooks are all positioned well to torch the Commanders through the air, while Jake Ferguson’s robust red-zone role keeps him in consideration.
How WASHINGTON Will Try To Win ::
The Commanders continue to lean into the pass game under offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, ranking third in the league in pass rate over expectation (PROE) this year and leading the league in total pass attempts (40.2 per game) and pass-play percentage (68.19 percent) through 11 weeks. They began the season bleeding sacks to their opponents while Terry McLaurin and Jahan Dotson worked almost exclusively downfield, but then went three straight games ceding just three total sacks as those two primary wide receivers began running more controlled routes. On that note, that recent streak of reduced sack rates was bookended by a four-sack game and a six-sack game at the hands of the Giants – both losses. Expect Bieniemy to continue with an emphasis on short-to-intermediate passing to try and help his signal-caller avoid setting the single-season sacks-taken record (which he was on pace to blow past through the first seven weeks of the season). The matchup against the Cowboys can be loosely classified as a semi-run-funnel one, but that hasn’t mattered for Bieniemy and the Commanders this season.
Antonio Gibson’s health is likely to have a profound influence on how interested we are in this backfield come Thursday. Yes, Brian Robinson is still the only running back to return multiple RB1 overall finishes this year, but he has also seen three or fewer targets in all but two games with Gibson healthy (saw six in Week 10 when Gibson left early and saw nine last week with Gibson out). The matchup on the ground is not ideal against a Dallas defense yielding 4.1 yards per carry and the sixth-fewest DK points per game to the position, again making Gibson’s gameday status of the utmost importance. Gibson was listed as a limited participant on the team’s estimated injury report Monday after failing to practice in any capacity leading up to the team’s Week 11 game, although we’ll need to see his participation level on Tuesday to get a more telling picture of what to expect on Thursday. That makes things quite simple for the fantasy expectations here – have interest in Robinson if Gibson misses and temper expectations should Gibson play.
This data point stuck out to me when going through my research – the Cowboys have allowed as many touchdowns to tight ends as they have to running backs this season – six to each position (and just seven to wide receivers). In all my years of studying football, I have never seen something like that this deep into the season. I have no idea if that is simply variance or if there is something in the team’s defense that points to that being a sticky statistic, as I haven’t watched every red-zone snap from the Cowboys this season (maybe someone in Discord is a Cowboys fan and can point to that data point being more signal or noise – if that’s you, give a shout in Discord!). I suppose they did give up three touchdowns to George Kittle when the 49ers stomped them earlier this season. I dunno. Either way, the Cowboys have yielded the second-fewest fantasy points to opposing wide receivers this season. Notable wide receiver box scores against the Cowboys this year:
- Garrett Wilson, Week 2 – 2/83/1
- Michael Wilson, Week 3 – 2/86
- Keenan Allen, Week 6 – 7/85/1
- Adam Thielen, Week 11 – 8/74
Yea, no wide receiver has surpassed 86 yards receiving against the Cowboys this season, no wide receiver has scored multiple touchdowns, and no wide receiver has returned a GPP-viable score against the Cowboys this season. Now consider that a Commanders pass catcher has surpassed 100 yards receiving just once this season (Dotson) and we’re left with a lot to be desired from this spot. If Bieniemy and the Commanders want to find success through the air, it is likely to come through quick hits and efficiency more than splash plays. The Cowboys have run the third-most man coverage in the league this season (almost 37 percent), against which no Washington pass catcher stands out above the rest this year. Interestingly enough, two of three Logan Thomas touchdowns this year have come against man coverage, but that is filled with noise. The truth of the matter is we’re largely touchdown hunting in this spot against a Dallas defense that has ceded just 13 total passing scores through 10 games played.
How DALLAS Will Try To Win ::
49ers Run D20th DVOA/10th Yards allowed per carry
Seahawks Run O22nd DVOA/21st Yards per carry
49ers Pass D5th DVOA/2nd Yards allowed per pass
Seahawks Pass O15th DVOA/15th Yards per pass
Seahawks Run D18th DVOA/20th Yards allowed per carry
49ers Run O3rd DVOA/7th Yards per carry
Seahawks Pass D23rd DVOA/10th Yards allowed per pass
49ers Pass O1st DVOA/1st Yards per pass
Game Overview ::
By hilow >>
- Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said QB Geno Smith is not dealing with an elbow injury but got hit on the tricep and should be fine for Thursday. He was not as optimistic for RB Kenneth Walker (oblique), saying “oblique strains usually take time to figure out” and that they “don’t think he’s an IR candidate.”
- 49ers LG Aaron Banks (toe) was listed as a ‘DNP’ on Monday’s estimated practice report.
- The Seahawks’ offensive line has allowed the third-highest pressure rate this season – not a good sign on paper against the revamped San Francisco defensive line.
- Seattle pass catchers have a grand total of one game of more than 100 yards receiving. That said, DK Metcalf holds an absurd 37.8 percent red-zone target share and has scored only three touchdowns. Variance could work in his favor at some point (although Smith’s regression to the mean plays a role in that as well after his ninth-year breakout season in 2022).
How san francisco Will Try To Win ::
The 49ers are averaging 27.9 points per game (27+ points scored in every game with a healthy Deebo Samuel) while running the sixth-fewest offensive plays from scrimmage this season (60.1), highlighting the extreme efficiency of their offense. They rank first in pass DVOA and first in yards per pass attempt while ranking third in run DVOA and 10th in yards per rush attempt. Elite, friends. We can expect this team to score points, we can expect them to efficiently move the football, and we can expect them to give their opponents fits with one of the better defensive lines I can remember in recent history. We’ve talked about the forward-leaning nature of Kyle Shanahan’s offense on multiple occasions this season, and about how much Samuel means to the offense as the primary motion man, with Shanahan’s offensive scheme capable of stressing the opposition’s defenses on multiple levels of the field through Samuel, Christian McCaffrey, Brandon Aiyuk, and George Kittle. It is highly likely that this offense finds success against the Seahawks, and it remains highly likely that one of the four primary contributors to the offense ends the day on the optimal roster when the final whistle sounds.
The offense continues to utilize elevated rates of 21-personnel through fullback Kyle Juszczyk, with Elijah Mitchell and Jordan Mason both playing sparingly all season. Those two change-of-pace options have a combined two games of double-digit snaps over the previous five weeks, highlighting the robust role of All-World running back McCaffrey. McCaffrey has the most rushing and receiving yards amongst backs this season on the second-highest snap share (81.8 percent), also leading the league in red-zone opportunities (48 with eight goal-line carries) and ranking second in total targets (47, or 5.2 per game). Elite talent plus an elite role on an elite offense is always a good combination. The Seahawks present a middling matchup on the ground, having allowed 4.1 yards per carry behind 1.25 yards per carry allowed before contact; yet, they have ceded the fifth-most DK points per game to opposing backs while allowing 52 receptions and 12 total touchdowns to the position (tied for fourth-most touchdowns allowed to backs this year). The Seahawks have also broken a recent trend and allowed a robust 72.7 percent red-zone touchdown rate at home this season against the Commanders, Browns, Cardinals, Panthers and Rams – not exactly a who’s who of offensive prowess. All of that to say, it is highly likely that McCaffrey finds the end zone in this spot, with the biggest concern on this slate being whether or not he returns a separator score you had to have at his elevated salary. That said, raw points become more important as the teams in play on a given slate decreases, making it highly likely McCaffrey finishes the day on the optimal roster. “Highly likely” does not mean “guaranteed,” which leaves the door open for some interesting leverage potential to harness the beauty of variance. More on that below.
Samuel has a low route-participation rate (77.1 percent) and low aDOT (6.8) but sees rushing usage to boost his weekly touch rates, while volume is always going to matter less for the skill-position players of this offense than efficiency and touchdown variance. Any one of Aiyuk, Kittle, Deebo and McCaffrey can become a player you need with their respective roles in this offense and, as we saw last week, the per-touch upside of all players involved can lead to some 300+/3+ games from quarterback Brock Purdy, who has averaged 314.5 yards and three touchdowns in the two games after Deebo returned to the lineup (against Tampa Bay and Jacksonville). He did so on 26 and 25 pass attempts (lolz). Kittle has surged of late, scoring a touchdown and/or going over 100 yards receiving in his previous three games, all of which were played with a healthy Trent Williams (which allows Kittle to be in a route at a higher rate and also motion out of an in-line position). Interestingly enough, his one game during that span with both 100 yards and a touchdown came on just four targets against the Jaguars, highlighting his insane per-touch upside in this offense.
Aiyuk has also gone over 100 yards and/or scored a touchdown in each of his previous three games played, doing so on just 18 total targets in that span. You have to go all the way back to Week 3 to find a game where Deebo saw more than four targets. Even so, Deebo sees a steady rushing role (2.75 carries per game) and carries the same per-touch upside as the other players in this offense. With increased rates of 21-personnel and emphasis on the primary four skill-position players, all of Jauan Jennings, Ray-Ray McCloud, Ronnie Bell and Willie Snead have seen their roles decreased of late, with the four combining for just 27 offensive snaps with a fully healthy Deebo in Week 11 (Snead was inactive). Charlie Woerner has supplanted Ross Dwelley as the preferred tight end option in heavy sets for an offense that has utilized 12-personnel around 40 percent of the time over the previous two weeks since the team’s Week 9 bye.
How SEATTLE Will Try To Win ::
Dolphins Run D21st DVOA/5th Yards allowed per carry
Jets Run O32nd DVOA/5th Yards per carry
Dolphins Pass D12th DVOA/4th Yards allowed per pass
Jets Pass O31st DVOA/30th Yards per pass
Jets Run D17th DVOA/18th Yards allowed per carry
Dolphins Run O2nd DVOA/1st Yards per carry
Jets Pass D4th DVOA/6th Yards allowed per pass
Dolphins Pass O4th DVOA/3rd Yards per pass
XANDAMERE’S SHOWDOWN SLANT
The NFL gods bring us a Friday game for an extra Showdown this week! Bit of a bummer it’s with the Jets, I’m a little tired of seeing them on island Showdowns, but I’ll take it for an extra day of football. This game has a 41 point total with Miami favored by 9.5, meaning the Jets team total is a pathetic 15.75 points. Given that the Jets have come in under that lofty total for four straight games and in 6/10 games overall on the season, it doesn’t seem unreasonable, but of course, there are other ways the game could play out.
On the Jets side, they get a solid matchup on the ground against a Dolphins D ranked 22nd in run defense DVOA. Meanwhile, the Jets are 4th in yards per carry on the season. They just don’t often play in close enough games to really rack up rushing volume, and their pass game deficiencies mean even if their run game is doing well it’s still hard to sustain drives. Even so, this is a very strong spot for Breece Hall, who is comically priced all the way down at just $7,600. Hall has played 60%+ of the snaps for five straight weeks and clearly seems to be over any early-season workload limitations. His role has led to only a modest 12.6 carries per game over that period, but he’s also heavily involved in the passing game with 5.4 targets per game. 18 running back opportunities per game with strong passing game involvement at $7,600 makes Hall an extremely strong play. RB2 Dalvin Cook has seen a grand total of 13 carries and five targets in those same five games, rendering him essentially unplayable at $4k, while Israel Abanikanda also popped up to replace Michael Carter last week, playing 18% of the snaps and seeing a carry and two targets. I have no real interest in Cook, but Abanikanda is only $1,800 and it’s at least somewhat possible his role could grow at Cook’s expense, so I’ll have him in my player pool for large-field tourneys.
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In the passing game, Tim Boyle is expected to start instead of Zach Wilson. Trevor Siemian is also expected to be active. At $6,000, Boyle projects as a solid play, but just be wary here as the floor is low for a quarterback (Boyle played a third of the game last week and scored 0.42 DK points). If you think the Jets are at all competitive, Boyle is way too cheap and he doesn’t need to do much to get into an optimal lineup, but he’s also likely to be extremely chalky given his price, and so he represents a major decision point on the slate. If you choose to play him, just make sure you’re finding differentiation somewhere else. It’s not entirely crazy to play Siemian, either, thinking that if Boyle struggles for a quarter or two the Jets could make an in-game change. It is not the likeliest outcome, to be clear, but if I were running 150 rosters for this one I’d probably have at least a couple with Siemian, who has proven to be a reasonably capable backup in his career and could feasibly do enough in a half of play to land in winning rosters. The Jets will trot out Garrett Wilson, Allen Lazard, and Xavier Gipson at wide receiver, with Jason Brownlee the latest guy to get some WR4 snaps. Wilson is obviously extremely talented, and terrible quarterback play has not prevented him from averaging a reasonable 13.6 DK points per game on 10.3 targets. He’s a reasonable option who can find enough ceiling to be in a winning lineup without finding the end zone. Lazard has only reached double-digit DK points once this season and is averaging four targets per game with a high of six – there’s nothing to really point us his way except “football is funny and maybe he catches a touchdown.” I’m mostly off of him. Gipson at $800 has an ascending role with snap counts of 58%, 68%, and 79% in his last three games – it’s only come along with seven total targets in that game, but at $800, he’s a solid value option and we could continue to see his passing game involvement grow (he also returns kicks, and so could luck into a return TD). Brownlee would be a total punt option.
Tight end is manned by a combination of Tyler Conklin, C.J. Uzomah, and Jeremy Ruckert, with Ruckert’s role growing significantly last week while Uzomah played a season-low 11% of the snaps. Uzomah is an extremely thin punt. Conklin at $3,200 is a very reasonable value option who has out-targeted and out-scored Lazard at a cheaper price despite not having found the end zone yet, while Ruckert is another guy who looks like his role is growing with Uzomah trailing off and a season-high four targets last week. Lots of cheap Jets on this Showdown – basically the entire team is too cheap for their roles and volume, except Lazard.
Saints Run D22nd DVOA/27th Yards allowed per carry
Falcons Run O9th DVOA/11th Yards per carry
Saints Pass D11th DVOA/20th Yards allowed per pass
Falcons Pass O24th DVOA/13th Yards per pass
Falcons Run D16th DVOA/11th Yards allowed per carry
Saints Run O10th DVOA/28th Yards per carry
Falcons Pass D29th DVOA/19th Yards allowed per pass
Saints Pass O22nd DVOA/21st Yards per pass
Game Overview ::
By papy324 >>
- This is a battle between two teams with a combined losing record but it carries a lot of real life importance since the winner will be in the driver’s seat for the NFC South crown.
- The Falcons have the lowest pass rate over expectation (PROE) in the league by a wide margin.
- Bijan Robinson still hasn’t seen 25 opportunities in a game yet this season.
- Drake London continues to be underpriced for his role as WR1 and his prospects are heightened by Marishon Lattimore’s expected absence.
- Rashid Shaheed is mispriced for his upside as the number two target on the Saints offense.
- Saints receiver A.T. Perry played 84% of the snaps in Week 10 and could maintain a large snap share coming out of the bye.
- Derrick Carr practiced fully on Wednesday, setting him up to play this week.
How new orleans Will Try To Win ::
The 5-5 Saints come into Week 12 off a bye and must be loving life in the NFC South. In any other division, they’d be multiple games out of first place. They have a worse record than all three of the current NFC wild card teams but if the season ended today, they would finish as a clear division winner, and get a first-round home playoff game. While every other division has at least one legitimate contender, the Saints are the best the NFC South can muster. That makes what would normally be an unimportant affair between two teams with a combined losing record instead have the feel of a playoff game. Pete Carmichael Jr. has been one of the least creative offensive coordinators in the league. The Saints use motion at one of the lowest rates and run a “beat the man across from you” offense. Carmichael’s scheme may be bland but at least they move quickly (4th in pace). A fast bland scheme (Patriots and Steelers are also examples) is usually an indication of a bad coach who thinks you’re supposed to play fast to be sharp, instead of playing fast to put pressure on the defense or keep them in mismatched formations.
Built in the image of the Titans, the Falcons have become a pass funnel on defense. They’ve broken down a little recently against the run (15th in DVOA) after spending most of the season as a top ten unit in that metric. They’ve never been good against the pass (30th in DVOA), getting flamed all year through the air. The Saints offensive line has been average (17th ranked by PFF) but should be able to hold up against the Falcons (24th in sack rate) lackluster pass rush. The Saints play balanced (13th in PROE) and stay balanced (14th in pass rate) as long as their games are competitive. The Saints have thrown over 50 times twice this year, both in losses, which shows that Carmichael is willing to chase points, but against the Titans, the Saints won a close game and only threw 33 times. The Saints aren’t the type of team to adjust and come out pass heavy based on game plan and will likely stay balanced as long as things are close on the scoreboard. There is also uncertainty around the health of Derek Carr was still in concussion protocol early in the week, but coming off a bye, it seems more likely than not that he will play. Still, his absence from practice early in the week is one more factor that lessens the chances of a pass heavy approach. Expect the Saints to try a balanced attack, and to stick with that plan if the game is close.
How Atlanta Will Try To Win ::
Steelers Run D14th DVOA/22nd Yards allowed per carry
Bengals Run O19th DVOA/27th Yards per carry
Steelers Pass D7th DVOA/30th Yards allowed per pass
Bengals Pass O17th DVOA/28th Yards per pass
Bengals Run D29th DVOA/31st Yards allowed per carry
Steelers Run O8th DVOA/13th Yards per carry
Bengals Pass D19th DVOA/32nd Yards allowed per pass
Steelers Pass O20th DVOA/24th Yards per pass
Game Overview ::
By mike jOHNSON >>
- This is the first game after big changes for both teams, as the Bengals deal with the loss of Joe Burrow and the Steelers attempt to spread their offensive wings without offensive coordinator Matt Canada.
- Jake Browning will take over for Burrow as quarterback for Cincinnati. Browning has thrown 15 regular-season passes in his NFL career and 14 of them were last week against the Ravens.
- Early reports out of Pittsburgh indicate that Jaylen Warren and George Pickens may have larger roles after the coaching change.
- The Steelers have a ferocious pass rush led by TJ Watt, and the Bengals have PFF’s 26th-graded pass blocking offensive line.
- This is one of three games on this week’s Main Slate with an Over/Under of 35 points or less.
How pittsburgh Will Try To Win ::
Sometimes there is a disconnect between the fantasy/analytics community and the real-life football community. At the end of the day, the NFL is often a “results” business, for better or worse. The Steelers offense, however, appears to be a spot where the two sides came together in unison and Pittsburgh’s organization made a huge change by firing Canada mid-season. The Steelers had not made a major coaching change like this in the middle of the season SINCE 1941. Usually when an outlier change like that happens, it is caused by an incredibly awful season where everything has fallen apart. The fact that the Steelers are currently 6-4 and in the thick of the AFC playoff race speaks volumes to just how egregious their offensive performance has been this year. Canada’s offense rarely used motion, ran extremely vanilla route concepts, and failed to consistently involve their most explosive skill players. It will be interesting to see how much and how quickly those things change in the post-Canada era.
The Steelers’ first order of business will likely be increasing the roles of Warren and Pickens. Rumors out of Pittsburgh in the wake of Canada’s firing have also specifically stated that those two will see bigger roles, so there is a lot of smoke coming out here. Warren has been one of the most efficient backs in the league this year but is still splitting time equally with former first-round pick Najee Harris. While Harris has not been bad, Warren pops off the screen with the ball in his hands and is clearly a player who adds juice to an offense that desperately needs it. I would expect the Steelers to truly move Warren into a “featured” role, with closer to a 60-40 or 70-30 split in favor of Warren as opposed to the 50-50 situation the backfield has been so far. In the receiving corps, Pickens was having a solid season through Week 7 but has averaged only five targets per game over the last four weeks. A big part of that has likely been the lack of scheme creativity to open things up for him, but one way or another, we should expect something in the 7-10 target range this week.
The Bengals defense has been up and down this season, but their worst performances have mostly come against high-powered offenses. They give up the highest yards per attempt on passes and the second-highest yards per carry on rushes this season, but they’ve been best in weeks where they are able to create turnovers. This is a defense that is beatable and gives up yards consistently but has been opportunistic and preyed on opponents who make mistakes against them. They have also performed best in spots where they are able to play with a lead, so the Burrow injury likely makes things tougher for them this week. Ultimately, the Steelers’ approach this week is a bit of a wild card, as they obviously want to change things, which makes past data tough to use as a predictor for their approach. I would expect a more aggressive approach and better use of their playmakers, which gives them the chance to surprise with their offensive success in a solid on-paper matchup.
How CINCINNATI Will Try To Win ::
Jaguars Run D1st DVOA/9th Yards allowed per carry
Texans Run O27th DVOA/29th Yards per carry
Jaguars Pass D8th DVOA/24th Yards allowed per pass
Texans Pass O3rd DVOA/2nd Yards per pass
Texans Run D10th DVOA/3rd Yards allowed per carry
Jaguars Run O24th DVOA/30th Yards per carry
Texans Pass D26th DVOA/25th Yards allowed per pass
Jaguars Pass O11th DVOA/11th Yards per pass
Game Overview ::
By Hilow >>
- Texans RB Dameon Pierce (ankle) is listed as questionable despite three consecutive full practices this week – I expect him to play.
- Texans WR Noah Brown (knee) has been ruled out, leaving the pass offense more concentrated.
- The Houston pass offense is expected to be concentrated, high-volume, and explosive – Stroud doubles are well within reason on this slate.
- The Jacksonville pass offense is expected to be supremely chalky despite very few 4x-type games from their pass-catchers and just one game all season over just 20.7 DK points from quarterback Trevor Lawrence, and it took two rushing scores to achieve (last week).
- This feels like a classic spot to not force a correlated bring-back from the Jaguars if stacking up Stroud (or playing Tank Dell or Nico Collins on their own).
How Jacksonville will try to Win ::
Week 11 served to reinforce our stance on the Jaguars that they largely allow the game environment to dictate their aggression and evolution during a game. We now have a 10-game sample size from this season where the Jaguars are only ever exceeding a relatively modest 32 pass attempts in losses, and even then, they have a blowout loss to the 49ers this season where Lawrence attempted only 29 passes. The only game all season where Lawrence attempted more than 32 passes in a win was their Week 5 win over the Bills in London. Same thing going back to last season. All of that to say, this offense is highly unlikely to be the driving force behind game environments overperforming expectations for as long as Doug Pederson is in town, which is exacerbated by the current talent level on their defense. Overall, Jacksonville ranks 26th in pass play rate (55.66 percent), ninth in PROE, and 22nd in pace of play.
Travis Etienne had two games out of the team’s Week 9 bye with more muted snap rates and opportunity counts than he had leading into their bye, but both games were blowouts (a blowout loss to the 49ers and a blowout win over the Titans). His 13 and 17 running back opportunities in those two games fell well short of the 23.25 opportunities per game he averaged in the first eight games of the season. That is to say, Etienne has held one of the most robust running back roles in the league in all but extreme game environments this season. He even saw 24 running back opportunities in the first meeting between these two teams, a 37-17 stomping at the hands of the Texans. All of that to say, it is much more likely that Etienne sees elevated touch counts than the recent two-game sample becoming a trend. Tank Bigsby and D’Ernest Johnson are on hand for whatever snaps Etienne leaves behind. The matchup on the ground is far from ideal against a Houston defense holding opposing backs to 3.7 yards per carry (fourth best in the league) behind just 1.10 yards allowed before contact. We’ve mentioned this before, but the Texans have allowed 21.3 DK points per game to opposing backs due to nine total touchdowns allowed to the position.
The Texans run zone coverages at a top-10 rate in the league, against which no pass-catcher for the Jaguars has seen more than 20 percent targets per route run and no wide receiver piercing the top 36 at the position in fantasy points per route run. Christian Kirk leads the team in YPRR, TPRR, and fantasy points per route run against zone this season but remains in the non-elite range in each of those metrics. Furthermore, the moderate pass volume discussed above has yielded just five total games of a pass-catcher reaching double-digit targets (three for Kirk, two for Ridley, and one for Engram), and no two have done it in the same game. As far as fantasy production, Kirk has achieved a 4x multiplier on his Week 12 salary once while Ridley has done it twice, with no other pass-catcher sniffing that level of production. Basically, this offense requires a very specific game environment to return enough volume for GPP-viable production, with no truly elite fantasy production coming from this unit through 11 weeks. I also don’t buy the “play Calvin Ridley when Zay Jones is active” narrative as there isn’t much in changing usage that would point to that being predictive in nature, more likely to simply be variance in a highly variant, downfield role. Ridley does lead the team with a robust 30.0 percent red zone target share, but he has caught just four of nine red zone targets this season. That should serve to highlight the run-focused nature of this offense when in the red zone more than anything else.
How Houston Will Try To Win ::
Buccaneers Run D13th DVOA/8th Yards allowed per carry
Colts Run O6th DVOA/14th Yards per carry
Buccaneers Pass D20th DVOA/29th Yards allowed per pass
Colts Pass O19th DVOA/14th Yards per pass
Colts Run D24th DVOA/17th Yards allowed per carry
Buccaneers Run O26th DVOA/32nd Yards per carry
Colts Pass D10th DVOA/18th Yards allowed per pass
Buccaneers Pass O18th DVOA/19th Yards per pass
Game Overview ::
By hilow >>
- Buccaneers CB Jamel Dean (ankle/foot) has been ruled out while CB Carlton Davis (hip) is listed as questionable following limited/limited/full practices.
- Buccaneers LB Lavonte David (groin) is out.
- Colts C Ryan Kelly (concussion) and CB JuJu Brents (quad) are out.
- The Colts play the highest rate of zone coverage and the highest rate of Cover-3 in the league while the Buccaneers run their defense primarily from Cover-1 and Cover-3.
- Both of those primary coverages naturally filter volume to first-read targets and top pass-catchers, something to keep in mind from a game environment that has the makings of a solid spot.
How tampa bay Will Try To Win ::
The Buccaneers continue to build their team and game plan from their defense forward. Speaking of that defense, Tampa Bay has blitzed at the third highest rate in the league but generated pressure at a below average 21.4 percent clip. Behind that elevated blitz rate, the Buccaneers are mixing man coverage through Cover-1 alignments with zone coverage through Cover-3 alignments, playing each alignment at top-five rates. All of that comes together to provide an environment ripe for first-read targets, which the Buccaneers have allowed at an elevated rate this season. That has also left them as one of the most pass-funnel defenses in the league through 11 weeks. From a macro perspective on offense, the Buccaneers rank near the middle of the league in pass rate over expectation (PROE), but ninth in overall pass rate (59.94 percent) and 11th in pass attempts per game (35.1), giving a clear indication of the type of games they have participated in this season.
Lead back Rachaad White has seen a top-12 running back workload across the board, ranking sixth in snap rate (76.7 percent), ninth in opportunity share (72.5 percent), 12th in carries (141, 14.1 per game), fifth in targets (44, 4.4 per game), and ninth in red zone opportunities (29 total with four goal line carries). He also has a robust 93.2 percent catch rate (first) and has committed just one drop all season. That’s the good. The bad is that White holds a putrid 3.3 yards per carry mark behind an offensive line blocking to the second fewest yards before contact this season. Even so, the elite workload and solid pass game usage keep White in the conversation each week. The poor efficiency means he typically has to score multiple times to return a viable GPP score, which he has done just once all season (his only GPP-viable score in Week 9 behind two scores on the ground and a 4/46 receiving line, returning 27.9 DK points). Chase Edmonds should continue to serve as the primary change of pace back after Ke’Shawn Vaughn was made inactive each of the previous two games and rookie Sean Tucker has played just one offensive snap since Week 3. The matchup on the ground is middling at best against a Colts defense ceding 4.1 yards per carry behind 1.33 yards allowed before contact. In what should be viewed as variance, the Colts have allowed 12 total touchdowns to opposing backfields this season, tied for the fifth most in the league.
The Buccaneers run heavy rates of 11-personnel on offense but have continued to rotate five primary wide receivers through various packages, holding Chris Godwin, Mike Evans, and Trey Palmer, the team’s three top wide receivers, to sub-elite snap rates and route participation rates this season. Evans leads the way in targets per route run (TPRR) (26.7 percent), target share (24.3 percent), targets (82), and air yards (1178, fourth in the league) but surprisingly slots in behind Godwin in red zone target share (26.1 percent to 23.9 percent). Either way, the combined 157 targets between Evans and Godwin make up 44.9 percent of the team’s total targets this season. Evans has seen a target on 28.0 percent of his routes against Cover-3 this year while Godwin holds a 25.3 percent TPRR against Cover-3 in 2023, a coverage the Colts find themselves in on almost 60 percent of their defensive snaps. It’s actually Rachaad White who ranks third on the team in TPRR against Cover-3 this season at 20.3 percent. Finally, the fact that this team runs so much Cover-3, a defensive alignment that required a lot of communication, and will be missing a starting cornerback introduces some level of potential upside through YAC possibilities.
How Indianapolis Will Try To Win ::
Patriots Run D5th DVOA/1st Yards allowed per carry
Giants Run O32nd DVOA/22nd Yards per carry
Patriots Pass D25th DVOA/14th Yards allowed per pass
Giants Pass O32nd DVOA/31st Yards per pass
Giants Run D28th DVOA/30th Yards allowed per carry
Patriots Run O14th DVOA/23rd Yards per carry
Giants Pass D23rd DVOA/29th Yards allowed per pass
Patriots Pass O28th DVOA/27th Yards per pass
Game Overview ::
By mike jOHNSON >>
- This game is one of three on the Week 12 main slate with an over/under below 35 points.
- “Bill Belichick after a bye week” has been extremely good over the course of his career and he notoriously makes life difficult for young quarterbacks.
- New England is playing things close to the vest this week on who will be their starting quarterback.
- Rookie quarterback Tommy DeVito had a “breakout” game against the Commanders struggling defense in Week 11 but should get a far different test from the Patriots.
- Saquon Barkley was the offensive engine for the Giants offense in Week 11 and his expanded role in the passing game was a huge key to their breakthrough.
How new england Will Try To Win ::
The Patriots enter Week 12 with the worst record (2-8) they have had in over two decades. That season was the 2000 season, which was Bill Belichick’s first year as the Patriots head coach. New England actually finished that campaign somewhat strong, posting a 3-3 record over the final six weeks to finish the season at 5-11. It will be interesting to see how New England handles the rest of this season, as it is clearly out of playoff contention. It appears Mac Jones is definitely not their quarterback of the future, and the 2024 draft class is full of highly touted quarterback prospects. I know it feels like that is the case every year, but 2024 appears to truly have a couple of top-notch options at the position and several other players with very good profiles as well. The Patriots are a proud organization that prides itself on always competing and executing at a high level, so we are unlikely to see them give anything but their best on Sundays in terms of effort and play calling. That being said, their current quarterback situation is up in the air, considering Bill Belichick has not named a starter and it has been quiet out of the organization thus far about what will happen Sunday.
The Patriots face a Giants team that appears to have already “hit bottom” and bounced back last week against the Commanders. The Giants defense has had an up and down season but has held its opponents below 20 points in four of their last six games. New England ranks 25th in the NFL in Pass Rate Over Expectation (PROE) but leads the league in raw pace of play, averaging only 26.5 seconds per snap. The Patriots have tried to use tempo to jump start the offense this season, to no avail. The biggest issue they have had is, quite frankly, a lack of physical talent and playmakers that would spread out a defense and stress them in various parts of the field. Opponents have been able to “squat” on New England’s scheme and crowd the short areas of the field with little worries about deep/ speed threats darting past them. Rhamondre Stevenson and Ezekiel Elliott have not performed terribly this season, but neither is the type of player with burst that breaks off chunk plays without a lot of space. Space is hard to find when your receiving corps lacks any consistent downfield threats and your quarterback does not have a very strong or accurate downfield arm. The cherry on top is PFF’s 27th-ranked pass blocking offensive line, which has been overwhelmed multiple times this season.
This all brings us back to the quarterback discussion. The Patriots could go back to Mac Jones and hope to just “win ugly”, although reports of the locker room losing faith in him and Belichick’s lack of commitment seem to make that tough to envision. Bailey Zappe has operated as the team’s top backup and replaced Jones late in their last game. Zappe performed well in a couple of starts in 2022, but he is objectively very similar to Jones from a skill-set standpoint and probably gives them a worse chance of winning this week while also not really having any chance of being their answer for the future. Behind Door #3 lies an interesting option with Will Grier. After some pre-draft hype in 2019, Grier fell to the third round of the draft, where he went to the Panthers. He looked bad in his early career starts, but he appears to have made strides and impressed this preseason. Grier has always had a lot of arm talent, and if his mind is in the right place and his understanding of the game has grown, he is probably the best option for the Patriots at this point with a small but real chance of him turning into a legitimate NFL QB. The Patriots offense will likely lean heavily on the run and once again use an elevated tempo to mask deficiencies regardless of who is at quarterback. Ultimately, the priority will be on ball control and field position as they hope to “out-execute” the Giants and win with their defense. If it is Jones or Zappe at QB, expect a similar play-calling approach to what we have seen all season. If it is Grier, the range of outcomes opens up a bit and we should expect a bit more aggressiveness downfield and some wider running lanes for the backs.
How NEW YORK Will Try To Win ::
Panthers Run D32nd DVOA/16th Yards allowed per carry
Titans Run O16th DVOA/15th Yards per carry
Panthers Pass D22nd DVOA/8th Yards allowed per pass
Titans Pass O21st DVOA/12th Yards per pass
Titans Run D2nd DVOA/6th Yards allowed per carry
Panthers Run O28th DVOA/26th Yards per carry
Titans Pass D30th DVOA/23rd Yards allowed per pass
Panthers Pass O30th DVOA/32nd Yards per pass
Game Overview ::
By hilow >>
- The Panthers are dealing with significant and impactful injuries to their secondary, with safety Jeremy Chin (quad) out and CBs CJ Henderson (concussion) and Jayce Horn (hamstring) doubtful.
- Panthers TE Hayden Hurst (concussion) is out.
- Titans WR Treylon Burks (concussion) remains out. This will mark the third straight missed game due to a concussion for the enigmatic second-year wide receiver – let’s hope he’s okay at this point.
- The Titans get back OT Andre Dillard from concussion while losing OT Chris Hubbard (biceps).
- This is a game against two teams averaging fewer than 17 points per game (16.8 for the Titans and 16.3 for the Panthers).
- Even so, Derrick Henry is most valuable to us in fantasy when we can project the Titans to remain competitive in game environments, which this matchup clearly presents.
- Both teams face 32 pass attempts per game or fewer, which is borderline absurd.
How Carolina Will Try To Win ::
The Panthers have been a tale of two teams this season as they fight to figure out what their future looks like after being forced by team ownership to select Bryce Young at 1.01 in the 2023 NFL Draft. Head coach Frank Reich began the year calling offensive plays before relinquishing that role to offensive coordinator Thomas Brown for a three-game stint out of the team’s Week 7 bye. He then took back offensive play calling duties ahead of the team’s Week 11 blowout loss to the Cowboys. From a top-level perspective, the Panthers rank 10th in plays per game (65.2, tied with the Chiefs), third in pass play rate (63.96 percent), and near the middle of the pack in pass rate over expectation (PROE). That should highlight the fact that the expectation for passing from this offense remains extremely high, backed up by the fact that the Panthers have ceded 27.5 points per game this year (31st in the league).
Chuba Hubbard usurped Miles Sanders as the lead back after the latter missed Week 6 with an injury. Sanders has now worked his way back into a near-even split with Hubbard after three consecutive games of Hubbard in a “lead back” role. Either way, the Panthers average just 3.9 yards per carry this season, and neither back is overly likely to see more than 12-14 running back opportunities if we take their recent snap rate splits at face value (near-even split for the previous two weeks). What’s more, the Panthers have blocked to a league-low 1.06 yards before contact value and play a Titans defense ceding just 1.13 yards before contact this season (seventh best in the league). In other words, there isn’t a ton to get excited about from this backfield in this spot.
Adam Thielen ranks ninth in the league in targets (97), 11th in target share (27.9 percent), second in slot snaps (405, 64.1 percent slot snap rate), and fourth in receptions (76) this season while in a route on 100 percent of the team’s called pass plays and seeing an elite 35.3 percent red zone target share. Rookie Jonathan Mingo joins Thielen in an every-down role but holds a low 15.7 percent targets per route rate (TPRR) and 6.5 red zone target share while D.J. Chark sees every-down snap rates in games the team plays from behind in a more downfield role. Tight end Tommy Tremble should once again slide into the starting tight end role in the absence of Hayden Hurst, who will be out with a concussion for the second consecutive game. The Titans have allowed opposing offenses to average 8.5 intended air yards per pass attempt this season, seventh deepest in the league. The one area of the field the Titans have been elite has been in the red zone, where they hold their opponents to a minuscule 37.84 percent red zone touchdown rate, good for second in the league (behind only the Buccaneers).
How tennessee Will Try To Win ::
Rams Run D23rd DVOA/15th Yards allowed per carry
Cardinals Run O15th DVOA/3rd Yards per carry
Rams Pass D14th DVOA/22nd Yards allowed per pass
Cardinals Pass O27th DVOA/29th Yards per pass
Cardinals Run D30th DVOA/26th Yards allowed per carry
Rams Run O11th DVOA/13th Yards per carry
Cardinals Pass D31st DVOA/17th Yards allowed per pass
Rams Pass O16th DVOA/4th Yards per pass
Game Overview ::
By mike johnson >>
- The Rams look forward to the return of lead back Kyren Williams but have questions about the status of star receivers Cooper Kupp and Puka Nacua.
- Arizona has had two games since the return of Kyler Murray that were on the cusp of becoming shootouts but stalled out a bit in the second half.
- The Rams are still in the NFC playoff hunt if they can “take care of business” against the easier teams on their remaining schedule.
- The Cardinals have a 2-9 record, but are still giving every week their full effort in all capacities as they try to evaluate whether Kyler Murray is their long-term answer at quarterback.
- Both defenses rank in the league’s bottom half against both the run and the pass.
How los angeles Will Try To Win ::
The Rams have played only two games at “full strength” on offense due to Cooper Kupp missing the first four games of the season and Kyren Williams missing Weeks 7 through 11. Hopefully, this week will be the third time for them to have all their weapons, although that will depend largely on the status of Kupp’s ankle after he injured it in the first half of Week 11 and didn’t return to the game. Kupp was on the sideline with his helmet on in the second half of that game and has practiced in a limited capacity this week, which provides some hope that he will be available. Still, given his recent injury history, it is hard to say whether that will lead to him being active and, if so, how effective he will be. The Rams were able to squeak out of Week 11 with a one-point win over the Seahawks and stay in the NFC playoff picture despite a 4-6 record.
Ironically, one of the two games the Rams had all their weapons also came against the Cardinals in Week 6 when Los Angeles pulled off a convincing 26-9 victory. Arizona now has Kyler Murray at quarterback and should provide a greater offensive threat. Still, the Rams were able to move the ball well in that game, primarily with Williams and Kupp combining for over 300 yards from scrimmage. Williams has missed the last four games but previously operated as the team’s workhorse. Head coach Sean McVay prefers to have a “bell cow” running back, and the team’s scheme is built around their running game concepts, so the return of Williams can’t be understated. The Rams offense struggled a lot in the first half the last time these teams met and it was their commitment to running the ball early in the second half that opened things up. I would expect the Rams to learn from that game and develop a balanced, run-leaning approach. The Cardinals rank 29th against both the run and the pass, and the Rams are likely to appreciate a reasonable running threat after playing a few weeks without it. Cooper Kupp (if healthy) and Puka Nacua will again be the primary receiving weapons. Still, the Rams offense will be back “on schedule” this week as they play in the way they are designed to operate rather than being a predictable pass-heavy offense with an inefficient running game.
How arizona Will Try To Win ::
Browns Run D3rd DVOA/14th Yards allowed per carry
Broncos Run O12th DVOA/8th Yards per carry
Browns Pass D2nd DVOA/16th Yards allowed per pass
Broncos Pass O12th DVOA/23rd Yards per pass
Broncos Run D31st DVOA/32nd Yards allowed per carry
Browns Run O20th DVOA/18th Yards per carry
Broncos Pass D28th DVOA/21st Yards allowed per pass
Browns Pass O29th DVOA/25th Yards per pass
Game Overview ::
By mike johnson >>
- This game is one of three games on the Main Slate this week with an over/under of less than 35.
- The Broncos have snuck their way back into the AFC playoff hunt thanks to a four-game winning streak that includes wins over the Chiefs, Bills, and Vikings.
- After an embarrassing start to the season, the Broncos defense appears to have figured things out, and their current level of play is much better than their season-long stats indicate.
- The Browns defense leads the league in DVOA against both the pass and the run; they have held four of their ten opponents to 10 points or less.
- Both defenses rank bottom-10 in opponent pass play rate, while the Broncos play at one of the slowest paces in the league, and the Browns slowed down their pace considerably with Dorian Thompson-Robinson at quarterback.
How cleveland Will Try To Win ::
The Broncos defense struggled early this season and looked like one of the worst units in the league. Because of that awful start, Denver’s defense ranks 31st in the NFL in both pass-defense DVOA and run-defense DVOA. Diving deeper into things, however, it is apparent that the combination of injuries to key personnel and adjusting to a new scheme had a lot to do with their struggles. Vance Joseph is in his first year as defensive coordinator in Denver, and his scheme is notorious for taking some time for players to pick up on, as it requires a lot of communication and everyone being on the same page. The Broncos rash of defensive injuries made that adjustment tough on everyone, and most people remember the embarrassing 70-point performance they gave up in Miami. They have been terrific lately, however, giving up only 17.4 points per game over their last five games despite playing the Chiefs twice, the Bills, and the Vikings during that span. This is a solid unit that is peaking at the right time and will be a tough opponent for the Browns and rookie quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson.
The Browns will almost certainly look to control this game with their defense and ball control in a similar manner to how they beat the Steelers in Week 11. Denver’s offense has been middling this year and really hasn’t done anything special lately, so Cleveland is going to trust that their top-ranked defense can keep this a low-scoring game. As long as the Browns can avoid turnovers, they should be able to keep this game within reach and prevent DTR from having to try to do more than he is currently capable of. The Steelers defense was terrific last week and slowed down Cleveland’s running game to the point where DTR had to attempt 43 passes, but those passes were extremely inefficient, and he averaged under four yards per attempt. The Browns leading receivers last week were slot man Elijah Moore and tight end David Njoku, as their passing game plan focused on the short areas of the field. Njoku set a career-high with 15 targets last week, although he caught only seven of those passes for a sub-50% catch rate as many of them were off target or in heavy traffic. The Browns will once again work at a methodical pace and have a balanced game plan that is conservative by nature and simplifies things in the passing game. Denver’s defense faces the third-highest rush rate from their opponents, and Jerome Ford and Kareem Hunt will likely be busy again this week, likely combining for 30+ touches.
How denver Will Try To Win ::
Chiefs Run D27th DVOA/28th Yards allowed per carry
Raiders Run O29th DVOA/31st Yards per carry
Chiefs Pass D3rd DVOA/5th Yards allowed per pass
Raiders Pass O29th DVOA/19th Yards per pass
Raiders Run D21st DVOA/27th Yards allowed per carry
Chiefs Run O17th DVOA/17th Yards per carry
Raiders Pass D14th DVOA/10th Yards allowed per pass
Chiefs Pass O5th DVOA/16th Yards per pass
Game Overview ::
By mike johnson >>
- Kansas City attempts to get back on track on a short week after a tough loss on Monday Night Football against the Eagles.
- The Chiefs have not scored in the second half of three consecutive games and the Raiders failed to score in the second half last week against the Dolphins.
- The Chiefs defense has been elite this season, holding the Dolphins and Eagles to 14 and 21 points in their last two games while allowing over 21 points only once all year.
- Patrick Mahomes needs some wide receivers to step up and give him consistent play for the Chiefs to make another Super Bowl run.
- Josh Jacobs should be very busy against Kansas City’s 27th ranked run defense.
How kansas city Will Try To Win ::
This is the first matchup of the season between these divisional rivals. Kansas City has been struggling mightily on the offensive side of the ball lately, and unlike past seasons when they have had offensive funks that appeared more fluky, this year there appears to be legitimate systemic issues that they are dealing with. The lack of talent and production from their wide receiver room appears to be at the top of the list for things the Chiefs need to fix as another game full of drops and poor separation allowed the Eagles to find a way to a comeback victory on Monday night. This is, by far, the best defense Kansas City has had in the Patrick Mahomes era, but the Chiefs offense has been sputtering lately and has surpassed 21 points only once in the last five games. That is notable considering in 2022 the Chiefs scored 24 or more points in 14 of 17 regular season games. This is simply not the type of team that ignites game environments like the Chiefs we had become accustomed to.
The Chiefs still rank 2nd in the NFL in pass rate over expectation (PROE) this season, but their efficiency has taken a major step backward. This week, the Chiefs will be without Mecole Hardman and Jerick McKinnon, which should leave Kadarius Toney and Skyy Moore in the “short area schemed touches” role. Isiah Pacheco is clearly the Chiefs lead running back and they have had a more traditional and productive running game this year. Pacheco will likely see a big workload against a Raiders team that ranks in the bottom-third of the league in most run defense metrics. The Raiders defense has had some rough spots this year and isn’t a world beater by any means if you look at their statistics, but they have been much better than most people probably realize. They have allowed only two of their last seven opponents to score more than 20 points and have held their opponents to under 13 points per game since Antonio Pierce took over as their head coach in Week 9. The first two games of the Pierce-era were against the Giants and Jets, so it would be easy to dismiss those results as stemming from their opponent’s ineptitude. However, after holding the high-flying Dolphins to only 20 points in Week 11 we have to take this Raiders defense seriously. Kansas City is going to continue their pass-heavy but mostly short area game plan this week with Travis Kelce and Pacheco as their primary playmakers and a variety of personnel packages being mixed in as they look to spark something. They are going to move the ball and are unlikely to be held down by the Raiders but are also unlikely to pop off for a vintage Chiefs offensive explosion as they are simply not that team at this point.
How las vegas Will Try To Win ::
Bills Run D14th DVOA/29th Yards allowed per carry
Eagles Run O5th DVOA/16th Yards per carry
Bills Pass D16th DVOA/6th Yards allowed per pass
Eagles Pass O8th DVOA/10th Yards per pass
Eagles Run D4th DVOA/12th Yards allowed per carry
Bills Run O6th DVOA/8th Yards per carry
Eagles Pass D21st DVOA/11th Yards allowed per pass
Bills Pass O2nd DVOA/8th Yards per pass
Game Overview ::
By mike jOHNSON >>
- The “Game of the Week” features two high-profile offenses coming off big wins.
- Buffalo enters this game fresh off its dismantling of the Jets, which was the Bills’ first 30-point offensive performance since Week 4.
- The Bills are in the thick of the AFC playoff race and have a brutal remaining schedule.
- The Eagles are in the middle of the hardest part of their schedule as well, coming off the Chiefs game and facing the 49ers and Cowboys over the next two weeks.
- Philadelphia’s running game and Buffalo’s passing game are in great spots to succeed this week.
How buffalo Will Try To Win ::
The Bills offense responded to the firing of Ken Dorsey with one of their better performances in the last few weeks. Facing a tough Jets defense, the Bills dropped 32 points and accumulated nearly 400 yards from scrimmage. Josh Allen was sharp and only turned the ball over once, while Buffalo’s running backs combined for nearly 200 yards from scrimmage as they avoided a New York secondary that is strongest on the perimeter. There were several plays that were extremely well designed and provided a possible glimpse into a more creative and difficult-to-defend Bills offense we may see for the latter half of the season.
This week, Buffalo faces an Eagles defense that has been terrific against the run this year but has been burned repeatedly through the air. Last week against the Chiefs, they handled themselves well, but that is not the same KC team we have seen in the past, and they will have their hands full this week against Buffalo. Rookie tight end Dalton Kincaid and Buffalo’s running backs took the lead last week against the Jets, as the focus was on the short middle of the field and taking advantage of the Jets linebackers in coverage. Khalil Shakir has emerged as the clear-cut third wide receiver for the Bills as well and had a monster game in Week 11, giving Buffalo a legitimately scary arsenal of weapons with their top offensive personnel on the field. This week, the Eagles secondary will likely be tested by the Bills, as Buffalo enters Week 12 ranked fifth in the NFL in pass rate over expectation (PROE), near the top of the league in average depth of target, and playing at one of the quickest situation-neutral paces – especially in games with significant offensive threats on the other side. Philadelphia faces the league’s highest opponent pass rate and the Bills are likely to totally air it out in this one, either by design or necessity. When they do so, Stefon Diggs and Gabe Davis are going to have the opportunity to make some big plays down the field, as the Eagles have given up some big plays on several occasions this year. Just last week, they would have lost if Marquez Valdes-Scantling had caught a ball in his hands on the last drive of the game. Don’t expect Philadelphia to get bailed out by mistakes from this high-powered Buffalo receiving corps in Week 12.
How PHILADELPHIA Will Try To Win ::
Ravens Run D7th DVOA/21st Yards allowed per carry
Chargers Run O23rd DVOA/22nd Yards per carry
Ravens Pass D2nd DVOA/1st Yards allowed per pass
Chargers Pass O6th DVOA/18th Yards per pass
Chargers Run D26th DVOA/19th Yards allowed per carry
Ravens Run O1st DVOA/2nd Yards per carry
Chargers Pass D27th DVOA/28th Yards allowed per pass
Ravens Pass O8th DVOA/5th Yards per pass
XANDAMERE’S SHOWDOWN SLANT
Sunday Night Football brings us an interesting game as the Ravens visit the Chargers. We get a nice 48 point total with Baltimore favored by 3.5. On the one hand, the Chargers have been riddled with injuries (as seems to be the norm for them) but have continued to put up offense, scoring 20+ points in all but two games. They’re 8th in the NFL in scoring at 25.9 points per game but their defense is pretty awful, allowing 23.8 points per game and also allowing the most opposing passing yards per game at a whopping 291.6 (over 20 yards above Tampa, who are 31st). The Ravens, on the other hand, have the best of both worlds: they’re 4th in scoring at 27.6 points per game and are allowing just 16.1 points per game. They’re incredible on both sides of the ball, giving us a matchup that could turn into a shootout if the Chargers can find ways to put up points but could also be something of a snoozefest if Baltimore’s defense is able to clamp down.
On the Chargers side, Austin Ekeler has one of the strongest roles in the league, playing at least 63% of the snaps in all but one healthy game. We know he’s rarely going to get to 20 carries, but his passing game role is elite with roughly 5.5 targets per game to go along with about 15 carries. That’s a lot of high-value opportunities. Ekeler has struggled to find the kind of ceiling we normally expect from a $10k player, surpassing 20 DK points four times but not yet hitting 30. Still, in a Showdown, getting into the 20s gives him strong odds of being optimal. Of the four $10k+ players in this Showdown, Ekeler might be the weakest, though. It’s either him or Herbert. All four of those guys have elite ceilings, so you’ll have to pick your poison on who you want to be underweight on since you can’t be overweight everyone. Personally, Ekeler and Herbert are the two I’ll likely have less exposure to, but I wouldn’t blame you for going a different direction here, and I might even change my position if it looks like ownership is going to be skewed significantly away from Ekeler. Behind him, Josh Kelley is handling 4-6 carries or so per game with no real passing game role. Kelley will need a lucky touchdown or Ekeler getting injured in order to have a chance at finding a ceiling.
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In the passing game, the Chargers are down to Keenan Allen and rookie Quentin Johnston as their main wide receivers, with Jalen Guyton most likely returning this week to a WR3 role. If Guyton misses, it should be Alex Erickson based on what we saw last week, while Derius Davis will play a few WR4 snaps. With the lack of other passing game options, Allen is being absolutely bombarded with targets – he has games of 14, 16, and even 20 targets this season and has gone over 30 Draftkings points on four separate occasions. That’s why I prefer him to Ekeler. While normally we’ve thought of Allen as more of a floor than a ceiling guy, the combination of ridiculous volume as well as a more diverse route tree than we’ve seen in the past has given him a monstrous ceiling. Everyone else on the Chargers is dirty cheap. Poor Johnston really hasn’t shown much in his rookie season, but at $3k for a guy who’s on the field almost every snap for a good offense, he’s a solid value option. At some point, Herbert will have to throw to someone other than Keenan, right? Guyton brings more volatility than Johnston at a similar price, but it’s telling that he saw six targets in just his second game with the team this season, including a red zone look that went for a touchdown. He was, of course, on the Chargers last year and is familiar with the offense and with Justin Herbert, and seems to have quickly slid into a trusted role. It’s a coin flip between Guyton and Johnston, really, so I’ll just lean into whichever is projecting for lower ownership. Erickson turned 78% of the snaps last week into a single target, so even if Guyton is out and he’s called up again, he’s a shaky MME pick.
I’m assuming Gerald Everett will return this week, which sends the Chargers tight end position back into fantasy oblivion. Everett has a grand total of 167 receiving yards in eight games. Yay. TE2 Donald Parham has almost no work outside the red zone when Everett has been healthy but he’s second on the team with 10 red zone targets (Allen has 13, and nobody else has more than six). If I’m taking shots on a tight end, I’ll go with the guy who has the huge red zone role. Assuming both are healthy, I prefer Parham. If Everett misses, Parham becomes a much stronger play – last week he played 72% of the snaps and saw plenty of work outside the red zone with six targets. Stone Smart is also in play as a thin punt option – he’s seen three targets each of the last two games (including a game in which Everett played, at least for part of the game). He’s only caught one of them, but it went for a 51 yard touchdown – he’s a very thin option, but he’s in the pool.
Bears Run D11th DVOA/1st Yards allowed per carry
Vikings Run O30th DVOA/25th Yards per carry
Bears Pass D27th DVOA/15th Yards allowed per pass
Vikings Pass O14th DVOA/17th Yards per pass
Vikings Run D8th DVOA/4th Yards allowed per carry
Bears Run O9th DVOA/9th Yards per carry
Vikings Pass D9th DVOA/3rd Yards allowed per pass
Bears Pass O23rd DVOA/21st Yards per pass
XANDAMERE’S SHOWDOWN SLANT
Week 12 finishes with the Bears visiting the Vikings for a 44 total game in which Minnesota is favored by three. The big news, of course, is around Justin Jefferson and if he will play. I’m guessing that with the Vikings on bye in Week 13, they will wait and make sure he’s fully recovered, so I’m writing this as if he’s out.
On the Vikings side of things, Alexander Mattison returned the week after a concussion and handled 65% of the snaps compared to 31% for Ty Chandler, with 18 carries and two targets to Chandler’s 10 carries and four targets (pretty close to the split we envisioned for this situation last week). The challenge here is a matchup against a Bears D that is allowing the fewest yards per carry to opposing rushing offenses while being 27th in DVOA against the pass, leading to a 7th-highest in the NFL 61.8% opposing passing play percentage. Teams just aren’t running much against Chicago. At just $7,400, Mattison is priced for the matchup, though. While the ceiling might be tougher to come by, it’s hard to find a back who can get to 20 touches in Showdown at this low salary so I think he’s still in play despite the unfavorable matchup. He kind of just fits into the “fine” category, though, as he hasn’t shown a lot of ceiling this year and now he’s contending with a rushing quarterback who can vulture him in the red zone, which obviously Kirk Cousins was not much of a threat to do. Chandler is overpriced for an RB2 role in a tough matchup but can still be considered as an MME play.
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The Vikings passing game is where we can get excited. The Bears are a truly horrible pass defense, and the Vikings pass catchers have been priced down since their last Showdown, likely because of the possibility of Jefferson returning. Jordan Addison has the WR1 role, and unlike last week when he had to face off against Patrick Surtain, this matchup is much more favorable for him. $8,200 for a WR1 who has gotten into double-digit DK points in all but two games in his rookie season? Sign me up. KJ Osborn fills the WR2 role and is not any sort of special talent. He’s on the field almost every play, but it’s concerning that so far Josh Dobbs has only targeted him four times in two games. We want to bet on guys who are on the field a lot, but we also want to bet on guys who can actually earn targets while they’re on the field. Osborn is a tough one for me to evaluate because everything says he should be a strong on-paper play except that Dobbs has not looked his way at all. Consider him a volatile option, and for me, this will become an ownership-based play. If people flock to him, I’m happy to come in underweight, but if people ignore him, I’ll bet on the playing time winning out. WR3 Brandon Powell is on the field less but has nine targets in Dobbs’ two starts. At $2,000, that’s a value spot I’m willing to invest in (earning targets is a skill!).
Where the real excitement for the Vikings comes, though, is at tight end, because we know that Dobbs targets the tight end position at the highest rate in the NFL. TJ Hockenson has 12, 15, and 7 targets in three games with Dobbs at quarterback. Even backup TE Josh Oliver has six, close to Powell and more than Osborn. If you’re willing to lean hard into some risk, it would be reasonable to play at least 1 Vikings tight end on every roster, and just hope the trend of Dobbs hammering the position continues, but either way, Hockenson is my overall favorite skill-position play in this game. At $9,000, he’s really operating more like an alpha receiver right now but isn’t priced like one. He’s an elite play, while Oliver can be considered more of a reasonable value option than just a pure punt play.