Raiders Run D21st DVOA/18th Yards allowed per carry
Rams Run O24th DVOA/29th Yards per carry
Raiders Pass D32nd DVOA/17th Yards allowed per pass
Rams Pass O22nd DVOA/30th Yards per pass
Rams Run D7th DVOA/4th Yards allowed per carry
Raiders Run O6th DVOA/4th Yards per carry
Rams Pass D20th DVOA/17th Yards allowed per pass
Raiders Pass O16th DVOA/8th Yards per pass
XANDAMERE’S SHOWDOWN SLANT
Week 14 begins with the Raiders visiting the Rams for a 44.5 total game with Las Vegas favored by six. The Raiders are coming off of a win against the poor Chargers (who always find creative ways to lose games), while the Rams are coming off of yet another loss, but one in which they scored 23 points, their third-highest output of the season (lol).
We’ll start with the Rams and their confusing running back usage. After three games in a row of Kyren Williams’ snap counts increasing (27% -> 55% -> 70%) and his touches going up accordingly, Cam Akers came out of nowhere to play by far his highest snap count of the season at 72%. Akers had a season-high 18 running back opportunities (despite running for a miserable 3.5 yards per carry), while Kyren saw just four opportunities on 28% of the snaps. This was a good (but frustrating) reminder that some backfields are less certain than others, and the Rams have done stuff like this to us for years now under Sean McVay. So, who will the lead back be in this one? I have no idea but what I do see is that Akers is the second most expensive Ram on the slate, while Kyren is priced down at $5,400. To me, this is going to be an ownership-based play. I’ll want some of each of them because the matchup is fantastic, and I’ll lean in favor of whoever the lesser-owned guy is. Given the Rams incredibly low-scoring offense, I will definitely have a max two of John Wolford, Akers, and Kyren; and if running either Rams running back at captain, I will exclude the other one. I’m undecided on whether to just have a max one rule for Akers/Kyren in the flex. While I think both being in the optimal lineup is unlikely, I also think they will be paired together so infrequently by the field that it might be a long shot but still a +EV move to allow them both in a flex spot on the same roster.
Ownership updates automatically
Speaking of Wolford, I’m assuming that he’s going to play after being listed as limited on Tuesday. But if he misses, Bryce Perkins is just $6,000 and he has some rushing upside. Perkins would be a lock for cash games and a very strong play in tournaments. In the passing game, the Rams have been running out Ben Skowronek and Van Jefferson as full-time receivers with Brandon Powell and Tutu Atwell splitting the WR3 role, and then either Lance McCutcheon or Austin Trammell rotating in a bit (McCutcheon missed last week with an injury, and I assume he will get those WR4 snaps if he’s healthy for this one). The challenge here is that Wolford has passed for 390 yards in two games (with a 1:3 TD:INT ratio), while Perkins has been even worse with just 100 passing yards in his one start. The upside is that all the Rams pass catchers are cheap, with Jefferson being the most expensive at $6,400. Jefferson has the most upside here with a moderately deep role and is at least a tertiary NFL talent, while Skowronek has played a shorter-yardage role. Of the rotational guys, Atwell has some semblance of ceiling, with three catches of 30+ yards out of his six catches on the year (if one of those long catches goes for a touchdown, he probably outscores the kickers he’s priced right next to). At tight end, Tyler Higbee’s volume has stayed intact with Wolford at QB (13 targets on 62 dropbacks, or right about at a 20% target share), while Perkins didn’t look Higbee’s way once in his 23 dropbacks. This is a massive small sample size alert, of course, but I think Higbee is likely to be a highly popular play, and if you’re willing to take the risk of the small sample continuing if Perkins starts, I think that’s a reasonable risk to take in tournaments on this slate. If Wolford starts, Higbee can be viewed as a strong option with a solid market share of targets and a good red zone role (that has somehow just not translated into a single touchdown all year). TE2 Brycen Hopkins can be included in MME player pools as a thin punt option. This is a matchup of a stoppable force against movable object, as the Rams current passing offense is perhaps the worst in the NFL and the Raiders defense is 31st in overall DVOA and 30th against the pass. You can bet this game to play out any which way, of course, but it seems likely to me that a Rams pass catcher is able to get there given their prices. If Wolford starts, I’d rank the Rams pass catchers as Higbee, Jefferson, Skowronek, Atwell, Powell, McCutcheon, and Hopkins.
I cannot believe I just wrote that much about the Rams offense. Showdown life is funny.
Jets Run D9th DVOA/6th Yards allowed per carry
Bills Run O11th DVOA/2nd Yards per carry
Jets Pass D6th DVOA/4th Yards allowed per pass
Bills Pass O2nd DVOA/4th Yards per pass
Bills Run D3rd DVOA/14th Yards allowed per carry
Jets Run O21st DVOA/19th Yards per carry
Bills Pass D9th DVOA/6th Yards allowed per pass
Jets Pass O25th DVOA/11th Yards per pass
Game Overview ::
By hilow >>
- The playoff implications of this game are likeliest the highest of any game on the slate this week, with the Bills now in the top spot in the AFC after beating the Chiefs earlier this year (tied at 9-3, with the Bills controlling their own destiny for the only bye out of the AFC) and the Jets clinging to the seventh and final playoff spot, just one game ahead of the Patriots and Chargers – most notably there, the Patriots beat the Jets twice this year so they hold the head-to-head tiebreaker.
- The Jets are this week’s virus host, with four players listed as ‘DNP’ on Wednesday’s injury report – most notably cornerback D.J. Reed and wide receiver Corey Davis, both of whom are integral pieces to either side of the ball.
- Jets running back Michael Carter found himself off the injury report entirely after missing Week 13. Reports out of New York indicate rookie Zonovan Knight will maintain involvement out of the backfield.
- Jets wide receiver Garrett Wilson has seen 11.2 targets per game in non-Zach Wilson starts this season – for comparison, Davante Adams leads the league in targets per game at 11.3.
- Both teams are top 13 in overall pass rate.
- Both teams rank in the top five in overall pace of play.
- Rookie running back James Cook is coming off his highest usage of his short NFL career (20 running back opportunities) and is priced at only $4,600 on DK – almost more importantly, the Jets have filtered the eighth most targets to opposing backfields this season, fullback Reggie Gilliam missed practice on Wednesday with an ankle injury, and the Bills showcased 21-personnel usage last week through Cook and Nyheim Hines in the red zone.
How new york Will Try To Win ::
The Jets begin games near league average in pace of play and situational pass rates, but they have shown a willingness to open things up as the game progresses, with the third fastest pace of play in the second half and sixth fastest pace of play when trailing by seven or more points this season. Their overall pass rate on the season sits near league average at 60.21% but they are coming off a game that saw new starting quarterback Mike White attempt an ungodly 57 passes in his second game as the starter in a loss to the Vikings. As in, “how New York will try to win” and “how New York will adjust” are two different games entirely, which is important to understand as they are currently listed as 9.5-point road underdogs. Furthermore, their offensive game plans have appeared to be tied to game environment less than matchup, as Robert Saleh and the Jets have managed games very differently this season against various opponents (and opponent strengths). This is also important to note considering the Bills are equally as difficult to run against as they are to pass against.
The New York backfield has some significant moving pieces with the likely return of Michael Carter after a one-game absence. Looking at the macro state of this backfield, no single back has managed a snap rate over 56% since the season-ending injury to rookie Breece Hall, with Carter hitting that mark in Week 8 (the first game without Hall) and rookie Zonovan Knight hitting 55% last week (without Carter). Furthermore, the Jets have utilized a three-back rotation in every game since Week 8. While we don’t know how the snap rates will shake out with Carter back in the fold, we can be fairly certain of two important aspects: (1) both Carter and Knight are unlikely to exceed 50-55% of the offensive snaps, and (2) recent addition James Robinson is likely to be the odd man out once again. That should leave Carter and Knight to handle the primary duties, likely each in the 40-45% snap rate range, with Ty Johnson and his special teams involvement likeliest to soak up the remainder of the snaps at the position. The matchup on the ground yields one of the lowest net-adjusted line yards metrics we’ll see all season at just 3.95.
Rookie wide receiver Garrett Wilson now stands as the lone near every-down pass-catcher on this offense, handling the largest snap rate in every game since Week 7. Most notably, the big-bodied Corey Davis has held down the WR2 role for the Jets in recent weeks after the falling out between the team and Elijah Moore near the trade deadline. That’s important because Davis is currently one of four starters dealing with an illness this week, presumably the same illness that has held players out or rendered them irrelevant in other spots around the league this season. We’ll have to wait and see how Davis progresses this week before making sweeping declarations, but we should expect Denzel Mims to be the player to see the largest jump in snap rate and opportunities should Davis miss or be limited. The Jets’ personnel alignments have varied based on game environment and opponent this season, with elevated 12-personnel rates in games where they are allowed to run at heightened rates and 11-personnel the base in pass-heavy environments. That has primarily influenced blocking tight end C.J. Uzomah and Elijah Moore’s snap rates during the second half of the season. Primary pass-catching tight end Tyler Conklin has been between 67% and 81% snap rates in each game since Week 3, yielding a rather tight range of expected usage. Finally, and shout out to Xandamere here, Garrett Wilson has been a completely different player with Zach Wilson at quarterback and without Zach Wilson at quarterback, basically transforming into a WR1 without Wilson this season. Furthermore, Garrett Wilson’s 11.2 targets per game in non-Zach Wilson starts would rank second in the league behind only Davante Adams at 11.3 targets per game if extrapolated over the whole season (yea, extrapolation alert!).
How buffalo Will Try To Win ::
Browns Run D30th DVOA/26th Yards allowed per carry
Bengals Run O4th DVOA/29th Yards per carry
Browns Pass D15th DVOA/19th Yards allowed per pass
Bengals Pass O7th DVOA/16th Yards per pass
Bengals Run D14th DVOA/9th Yards allowed per carry
Browns Run O8th DVOA/13th Yards per carry
Bengals Pass D12th DVOA/29th Yards allowed per pass
Browns Pass O11th DVOA/17th Yards per pass
Game Overview ::
By hilow >>
- This one carries a fairly wide range of potential outcomes, primarily due to Deshaun Watson and how poor he looked last week.
- The Bengals have shifted their defensive scheme over the previous month of play, moving away from increased man coverage rates and towards a defense based primarily from zone coverages.
- Joe Mixon started the practice week as a full participant coming off his concussion.
- Bengals tight end Hayden Hurst has already been labeled as doubtful with a calf injury by head coach Zac Taylor.
How cleveland Will Try To Win ::
There are a few different ways to look at the Browns performance in Deshaun Watson’s first game as the starting quarterback. For one, the Browns controlled the game with their defense against a far inferior opponent in the Texans, which allowed them to ride their run game for most of the game (22 Watson pass attempts to 38 combined team rush attempts). Watson looked as rusty as one might expect in his first NFL game action in almost two calendar years, making errant throws appear part of his job title. When you complete just four of nine passes to Amari Cooper, who could not be a better route runner, it tells of just how poorly you played (Watson was throwing five-yard in-routes and slants into Cooper’s feet). Another notable piece is that the Browns defense generated four turnovers and scored three defensive touchdowns, which is highly unlikely to be the case against one of the top offenses in the league. Finally, the team was without a primary piece of the offense in David Njoku yet they still called an offensive game with multiple instances of pre-snap motions, jet sweeps, and guided misdirection via the threat of a mobile quarterback. As in, there is upside from this offense once Watson settles into the speed of the NFL game again. Finally, the return of Demetric Felton to the lineup allowed the team to return to a unit based out of 21-personnel, which allowed them to move Felton all over the formation and adds to the dynamism of the offense (Felton’s increased snap rate was also amplified by the in-game injuries to rookie wide receiver David Bell and WR4 Anthony Schwartz, who suffered a concussion and was placed on IR; more on this below). I would expect this team to operate primarily from heavy personnel alignments as the season draws to an end, with increased 21-personnel usage and moderate 12-personnel usage with the return of David Njoku. For all the perceived struggles this team has had this season, they currently find themselves in the thick of the playoff race in the AFC. As in, expect them to be fighting tooth and nail against their division rivals here.
Lead back Nick Chubb has just two games all season with more than a 55% snap rate (59% in Week 12 and 63% in Week 3), which is further highlighted by the return of Demetric Felton, whom the team can move all over the formation when on the field. Felton is a running back by trade, but the team has been able to flex him to the slot and out wide, adding a layer of uniqueness to the offense. Felton’s ultimate snap rate this week is likely tied directly to the health of David Bell who was listed as limited on the team’s Wednesday injury report. While Chubb has five games with more than 20 running back opportunities, his pass game involvement is low, and the Browns just played in the top matchup for running backs in the league and still only fed him 17 carries in a game they were able to run about league average offensive plays (63). Basically, Chubb should continue having to “get there” through efficiency and multiple touchdowns, which is a tough bet at his current price tag ($7,800). Kareem Hunt should continue as the primary change of pace and clear passing down option in the backfield, with the previous discussion on Demetric Felton in consideration as well. The pure rushing matchup yields a slightly above average 4.47 net-adjusted line yard metric against a Bengals defense holding opposing backs to just 4.12 yards per carry this season.
As noted previously, the departure of David Bell after just three offensive snaps last week put this team in a bind, forcing running back Demetric Felton into increased wide receiver snaps, which is notable considering now injured Anthony Schwartz had operated as the team’s WR4. The Browns are expecting lead tight end David Njoku back this week, which is likely going to lead to increased heavy personnel alignments. Njoku has been in and out of the lineup since Week 7, but he played 80% or more of the offensive snaps in each of the first six games of the season as a true all-around tight end. Both Amari Cooper and Donovan Peoples-Jones are the clear top wide receivers, with Cooper’s role transitioning back to a short-to-intermediate one in Week 13 with Watson at quarterback. I would tentatively expect that micro trend to continue as Watson works his way back to game speed, with Cooper and Njoku the likeliest to see the most volume for the foreseeable future as the two players most capable of winning within the first five yards of the line of scrimmage. Finally, after the Bengals started the season running man coverages at an above league average rate in six of their first eight games, they have been below league average in each of the previous four weeks. Amari Cooper has long been regarded as one of the top wide receivers in the league against man coverage but has been around league average in reception grades against zone over the previous three seasons. All of that to say, the combination of personnel available, matchup, and individual skillsets sets up well for David Njoku to see increased involvement this week, and the numbers support that notion as Njoku is the top-rated pass-catcher on this offense against zone coverages this season.
How Cincinnati Will Try To Win ::
Texans Run D24th DVOA/28th Yards allowed per carry
Cowboys Run O10th DVOA/18th Yards per carry
Texans Pass D18th DVOA/27th Yards allowed per pass
Cowboys Pass O13th DVOA/10th Yards per pass
Cowboys Run D5th DVOA/17th Yards allowed per carry
Texans Run O32nd DVOA/30th Yards per carry
Cowboys Pass D3rd DVOA/12th Yards allowed per pass
Texans Pass O31st DVOA/25th Yards per pass
Game Overview ::
By Mike Johnson >>
- Houston’s offense has scored over 20 points only once all season.
- The Cowboys offense has been averaging 37 points per game since Dak Prescott returned from injury.
- Both teams prefer to build their offensive attack on the ground and have solid on-paper matchups in that regard.
- This game could get out of hand very quickly, given the efficiency of the Dallas offense and the strength of their pass rush.
How houston Will Try To Win ::
Houston is reportedly going back to Davis Mills as their quarterback after a failed two-week experiment with journeyman Kyle Allen under center. It will likely make little difference on the road against a defense that leads the league in combined sacks plus turnovers. The Texans offense has scored more than 20 points exactly once this year, and a matchup on the road against an elite defense doesn’t seem like a spot where they are likely to have the second such occurrence.
In theory, the Texans would prefer to keep this game low-scoring and attack the Cowboys on the ground. Dameon Pierce is their offensive centerpiece when games are close and even managed 18 carries in last week’s big loss to the Browns. The Texans are also middle of the pack in tempo and pace this year and are sure to bleed the clock as much as possible to keep the Cowboys high powered offense off the field as much as they can. The Cowboys have the #1 DVOA pass defense by Football Outsiders while ranking 23rd in the NFL in yards per rush attempt allowed, another data point that points us towards a healthy dose of run plays for the Texans. Now that Davis Mills is back under center, the Texans passing game should become slightly more efficient than it was with Allen, but facing a Cowboys pass rush that leads the NFL in sacks behind an offensive line that ranks bottom-10 in adjusted sack rate is a recipe for disaster. We should expect a very conservative, quick-hitting approach from the Texans on the rare occasion that they drop back to pass early in this game. However, with the Cowboys offense likely to thrive, the Texans may have no choice but to open things up much earlier than they would like.
How dallas Will Try To Win ::
Vikings Run D19th DVOA/22nd Yards allowed per carry
Lions Run O15th DVOA/18th Yards per carry
Vikings Pass D26th DVOA/28th Yards allowed per pass
Lions Pass O7th DVOA/6th Yards per pass
Lions Run D26th DVOA/30th Yards allowed per carry
Vikings Run O28th DVOA/26th Yards per carry
Lions Pass D28th DVOA/32nd Yards allowed per pass
Vikings Pass O15th DVOA/20th Yards per pass
Game Overview ::
- The marquee matchup of the slate – the only game with a game total north of 50.0 points, and one of only two games with a game total over 45.0 points.
- The Lions have surprisingly been in the top 10 in pass rate over expectation over the previous month of play, while the Vikings rank eighth over the entire season and seventh over the previous month.
- The Vikings and Lions rank seventh and eighth, respectively, in situation-neutral pace of play – Minnesota starts games fast (eighth in first half pace of play) while Detroit finishes games fast (seventh in second half pace of play).
- The Lions have been far more effective at scoring points at home this season (for whatever reason – it can’t be that Ford Field is the “Coors Field of the NFL”), putting up a gaudy 31.9 points per game at home compared to just 18.4 on the road, the largest such split in the NFL. Basically, the Lions turn into the Chiefs at home or something.
- Five members of the Vikings defense missed practice on Wednesday with the dreaded illness sweeping the league, including three members of the secondary.
- I don’t know if he suffered a setback in the Week 13 game or what the deal is (as in, there hasn’t been a single rumbling from beat reporters or Detroit staff), but D’Andre Swift found his way back onto the Lions injury report on Wednesday as he was listed as limited with his ankle.
How Minnesota Will Try To Win ::
The formula hasn’t changed much for the Vikings this season, who have been hovering near the top of the league in pass rate over expectation and overall pass rate the entire season. They currently rank eighth in pass rate over expectation and third in overall pass rate (63.14%), with quarterback Kirk Cousins finishing at or above 35 pass attempts nine times in 12 games, including games of 50, 46, 46, 41, and 40. But while the passing volume has been a welcome development, the offense overall operates primarily to the short-to-intermediate areas of the field, with Cousins’ average intended air yards value (7.1) sandwiched amongst guys like Davis Mills, Jared Goff, and Jimmy Garoppolo. Even Justin Jefferson’s elite fantasy season is coming through a modest 10.7 aDOT (he does possess an elite 29.2% red zone target share and leads the league in red zone looks for an offense that leans pass-heavy where it matters). Regardless, this has meant that the Vikings have largely been reliant on sustained drives and individual talent to generate splash plays (they rank 22nd in splash plays through the air this year with just 19 through 12 games), and a middle-of-the-pack drive success rate has kept them with a “probably less than it should be” 24.1 points per game value.
Dalvin Cook has commanded a robust 75% or more of the offensive snaps in six of the Vikings last seven games, averaging 22 running back opportunities in those six games (he saw only 12 in the 40-3 drubbing at the hands of the Cowboys in Week 11). The problem hasn’t been Alexander Mattison or a lack of opportunities, the problem has been a 27th-ranked yards per touch value (4.8) and decreased efficiency behind an offensive line generating just 4.36 adjusted line yards, which Minnesota backs are matching in their yards per carry value this season. Dalvin has gone over 100 yards rushing and scored, or scored multiple touchdowns, just three times this season, which corresponds to his only three games of more than 16.3 DK points. Furthermore, he has exactly zero games of 4x salary multiplier fantasy output at his current (and depressed) price point of $7,300 (he came close once). The matchup on the ground yields a slightly above-average 4.455 net-adjusted line yards metric against a Detroit defense allowing 4.74 yards per carry and 21.8 DK points per game to opposing backfields.
While the defensive numbers against the run are nothing special for the Lions, they have quite simply been so easy to pass on (faced 34.5 pass attempts against per game and a robust 11.4 yards allowed per completion, the latter of which ranks 30th in the league) that teams continue hunting for chunk yardage gains. The Vikings have been around 20% 12-personnel usage since they brought over T.J. Hockenson from, checks notes, the Lions at the trade deadline, mixing in about 12% 21-personnel usage as well since that time. That has primarily dented K.J. Osborn and Adam Thielen’s snap rates slightly, with Osborn seeing the biggest change in usage. Jefferson maintains the “Cooper Kupp” role for Kevin O’Connell’s offense, seeing 11 or more targets in eight of 12 games played. Regardless of what happened in the previous matchup between these two teams, Justin Jefferson remains one of the highest upside pass-catchers on the slate (surprise, Jefferson put up a whopping 4.4 fantasy points in their first meeting). Adam Thielen and T.J. Hockenson have traded off games of fantasy relevance since Hock joined the fray, with neither providing a “can’t miss score” on relatively short-area roles.
How Detroit Will Try To Win ::
Eagles Run D19th DVOA/24th Yards allowed per carry
Giants Run O7th DVOA/5th Yards per carry
Eagles Pass D1st DVOA/1st Yards allowed per pass
Giants Pass O10th DVOA/29th Yards per pass
Giants Run D32nd DVOA/31st Yards allowed per carry
Eagles Run O1st DVOA/12th Yards per carry
Giants Pass D22nd DVOA/18th Yards allowed per pass
Eagles Pass O6th DVOA/3rd Yards per pass
Game Overview ::
By hilow >>
- Dallas Goedert remains on injured reserve and will miss Week 14 but appears likely to return when first eligible next week. Quez Watkins reportedly endured an AC joint sprain in Week 13 but was listed as limited on the team’s estimated practice report Wednesday and he appears likely to play against the Giants.
- The Giants continue to be banged up in the secondary, with Week 14 likely to mark the third different combination of starting corners in the last three weeks.
- Wink Martindale continues to employ elevated blitz rates (highest in the league at over 40%) and increased usage of man coverage schemes (the highest rate at over 50%) – not ideal against a mobile quarterback and pass-catchers that excel against man.
- The likeliest scenario for the game environment and flow has a tighter range of outcomes than most other spots on the slate (and what we’ve seen around the league this season).
How Philadelphia Will Try To Win ::
Nick Sirianni proved last week that this team can win in many different ways on offense, jumping from a neutral pass rate over expectation to the second highest rate of the week (behind only the Dolphins) against an opponent clearly presenting a pass-funnel matchup (Titans). Philadelphia has played at the fastest pace of play with the score within six points and the third fastest pace of play in the first half, but have also played at the third slowest pace of play in the second half of games this season, indicating a willingness to take their foot off the proverbial gas and slow things down when in control of the game environment. The majority of their offensive snaps have come from 11-personnel in the absence of tight end Dallas Goedert, which has primarily meant an increased snap rate for wide receiver Quez Watkins, who failed to finish the contest in Week 13 after coming down with an AC joint sprain. The Eagles only held a walkthrough on Wednesday, but it appears the injury concerns were short-lived as he was listed as a limited participant on the team’s estimated injury report. The Giants present an interesting matchup defensively as the typical run-funnel nature of their defense has become equally poor against the pass due to recent injuries to their secondary, which should allow the Eagles to remain run-balanced here.
The Philadelphia backfield has reverted to a three-headed timeshare since the team’s Week 7 bye, with lead back Miles Sanders playing no more than 65% of the offensive snaps in any game over that time. Change of pace and obvious passing down back Kenneth Gainwell has maintained a steady involvement during that span, typically held between 25% and 35% of the offensive snaps, meaning any dip in snap rate seen from Sanders has directly correlated to increased run for rotational back Boston Scott, who has typically seen his work increase in blowouts. Basically, consider Sanders the lead back but one that would likely see a hard cap in volume due to game environment, with Gainwell and Scott on hand to handle any change of pace or environment-driven volume in games the Eagles are able to control. That has kept Sanders to 17 running back opportunities or fewer in all but one game since the team’s Week 7 bye (the shootout with the Packers in Week 12 was the only exception, where he saw 24 opportunities). Furthermore, quarterback Jalen Hurts has seen double-digit carries in half of the team’s games this season (six of 12) and has scored nine rushing touchdowns through 12 games. The matchup on the ground yields a well above average 4.69 net-adjusted line yards metric against a Giants defense allowing a robust 5.11 yards per carry to opposing backfields. Finally, the aggressive blitz tendencies found in a Wink Martindale defense could force additional scrambles from Jalen Hurts in addition to opening up a susceptibility to yards after the catch whilst in man coverages.
As mentioned above, the Giants are contending with multiple injuries amongst their primary contributors in the secondary, which is likely to force the unit into a third consecutive game with different starting personnel on the back end. Their aggressive blitz tendencies have also made their defense susceptible to yards after the catch and a heightened defensive aDOT (third deepest at 8.8). Both of those data points are a boost to the primary possession pass-catcher on the Eagles offense in DeVonta Smith, who has seen his role change the most in the absence of tight end Dallas Goedert. Expect a slight uptick to his volume in this matchup. Quez Watkins has also seen a slight change in role without Goedert, whose primary downfield role has added some work around the line of scrimmage as the team attempts to get the ball into his hands in space. Expect an offense based from 11-personnel, with added ball-out-quick principles against the aggressive blitz tendencies from the Giants. Finally, the Giants lead the league in man coverage rate, running man above 50% of the time in every game since Week 3. A.J. Brown has absolutely demolished man coverages throughout his career, most notably receiving PFF’s fifth highest grade against man coverages this season (of qualified pass-catchers) and scoring the most touchdowns against the alignment.
How new york Will Try To Win ::
Ravens Run D7th DVOA/3rd Yards allowed per carry
Steelers Run O10th DVOA/24th Yards per carry
Ravens Pass D11th DVOA/13th Yards allowed per pass
Steelers Pass O20th DVOA/29th Yards per pass
Steelers Run D4th DVOA/4th Yards allowed per carry
Ravens Run O2nd DVOA/3rd Yards per carry
Steelers Pass D19th DVOA/31st Yards allowed per pass
Ravens Pass O16th DVOA/17th Yards per pass
Game Overview ::
By hilow >>
- Lamar Jackson suffered a sprained PCL which forced him from last week’s contest against the Broncos. The typical recovery time for that injury is 1-3 weeks, making it likely we see backup quarterback Tyler Huntley get the start for the Ravens.
- Mark Andrews averaged a 31% target market share and just under 100 yards per game, scoring three touchdowns in the five games with Huntley as the starter last season.
- It will be interesting to see how the Ravens choose to attack here. On the one hand, the fact that they are likely to start their backup quarterback would point to increased rush rates, but on the other hand, the Steelers present a pass-funnel matchup, allowing the sixth lowest yards per carry but most yards per pass this season.
- Steelers RB Najee Harris missed practice on Wednesday but did the same in Week 13 before playing 66% of the offensive snaps. I tentatively expect him to play here.
How baltimore Will Try To Win ::
There are a significant number of unknowns surrounding how the Ravens are likeliest to try to win here. The matchup clearly points to the potential for increased pass attempts against a pass-funnel Steelers defense, but the team will likely be starting their backup quarterback and have been neutral in pass rate over expectation (PROE) over the previous month of play. We also just saw Tyler Huntley enter Week 13 in the first quarter in relief of Lamar Jackson and attempt 32 passes against a run-funnel opponent in the Broncos. Furthermore, the Ravens currently sit at 8-4 and in first place in the AFC North with five games left to play, with their final game of the season likely to decide whether it is Baltimore or Cincinnati that play their first game of the playoffs at home (the two teams play in Week 18 after Baltimore took the first meeting). Tyler Huntley played more than 80% of the offensive snaps on five separate occasions in 2021 and finished with 31 or more pass attempts in each instance (31, 32, 36, 38, and 40). And finally, the Ravens have been able to run above league average number of offensive plays in each of their previous six contests while playing at one of the slowest paces in the league, likeliest due to a seventh-ranked net drive success rate on the year.
The Ravens backfield carries little to no certainty with Gus Edwards back in the fold, as each of Edwards, Kenyan Drake, Justice Hill, and fullback Patrick Ricard played 24% or more of the team’s offensive snaps a week ago. Furthermore, quarterback Tyler Huntley averaged nine carries per game in the five games that he played more than 80% of the offensive snaps a year ago before carrying the football 10 times last week (of 28 total team carries). It’s fair to expect Kenyan Drake to see an increased rate of snaps and opportunities in a negative game script and Gus Edwards to see an increased rate of snaps and opportunities in a positive game script, but that’s about the extent of our certainty for this unit this week. Finally, the Ravens have targeted the running back position only 52 times this season, the fifth lowest in the league. The matchup on the ground yields a well below average 4.16 net-adjusted line yards metric against a Pittsburgh defense holding opposing backfields to just 4.16 yards per carry.
Wide receiver Devin Duvernay played the highest snap rate of any Ravens wide receiver this season last week at 94%. Furthermore, he has played 78% or more of the offensive snaps in all three games since Baltimore’s Week 10 bye after playing more than 66% of the team’s offensive snaps only twice over the first nine games of the season. As in, Duvernay is starting to see enough snaps to provide ample upside considering his athletic profile. Mark Andrews totaled just under 500 yards receiving and three touchdowns in the five games last season in which Tyler Huntley played more than 80% of the offensive snaps and continues in a near every-down role this season. The only other pass-catcher to play more than 35% of the offensive snaps last week (veteran deep threat DeSean Jackson was at 35%) was Demarcus Robinson at 76%. This is still a team that operates primarily from heavy personnel alignments (and by “primarily” I mean nearly every offensive snap), but we’re seeing far less reliance (or trust in) the tertiary options recently, keeping Andrews, Duvernay, and Robinson on the field at increased rates. When you then consider that Tyler Huntley attempted no less than 31 pass attempts in any of the five games last season where he played the majority of the game, and that he then came in and attempted 32 passes in just over three quarters last week, the newfound concentration of the Ravens pass-catchers begins to add a bit of intrigue here – particularly considering the matchup with a pass-funnel Steelers defense.
How Pittsburgh Will Try To Win ::
Jaguars Run D11th DVOA/7th Yards allowed per carry
Titans Run O18th DVOA/17th Yards per carry
Jaguars Pass D30th DVOA/20th Yards allowed per pass
Titans Pass O19th DVOA/13th Yards per pass
Titans Run D2nd DVOA/2nd Yards allowed per carry
Jaguars Run O20th DVOA/9th Yards per carry
Titans Pass D27th DVOA/24th Yards allowed per pass
Jaguars Pass O6th DVOA/19th Yards per pass
Game Overview ::
By papy324 >>
- This is a poor game environment.
- The Titans offensive line has performed below expectations.
- The Titans are likely to run even though the Jaguars are weaker against the pass.
- Travis Etienne is still underpriced but this is a brutal matchup.
How jacksonville Will Try To Win ::
The 4-8 Jaguars come into Week 14 on the heels of a 40-14 drubbing at the hands of the scarier-than-people-think (when healthy) Lions. As bad as the Jags were last week, they’ve played close games all year, and have an unlucky looking point differential (-14) for their record. For comparison, the other 4-8 teams (Colts // Panthers // Cardinals) have negative 89 // 36 // 57 point differentials respectively. It’s easy to think of the Jags as a bad team but Doug Pederson has made them better and they’re performing close to the middle of the road in most metrics, with one glaring weakness (pass defense).
The Jaguars play at a moderate pace (13th overall) but that number is misleading since they want to play faster (9th situation neutral) if the game is close. The Jags rank in the top 10 in pace in every metric except if they have a lead (31st in pace) when they take their foot way off the gas. The discrepancy in the Jags pace makes them a highly game flow dependent team. The Jags will play like a top-10 pace team if the game is close or they’re losing, but they turn into the Titans when they’re winning.
The Titans have been monsters against the run (1st in DVOA) and susceptible through the air (22nd DVOA) profiling as one of the league’s clearest pass funnels. As an OWS reader, this analysis should come as old hat, the Titans face the highest pass rate above expectation in the league. The relative weakness of the Titans defense is obvious to anyone paying attention, and their opponents can figure out it makes sense to avoid the Titans ferocious run D. Expect more of the same from Pederson, with a focus on playing quickly and passing, unless the Jags take a two-score lead.
How tennessee Will Try To Win ::
Chiefs Run D17th DVOA/14th Yards allowed per carry
Broncos Run O29th DVOA/23rd Yards per carry
Chiefs Pass D22nd DVOA/5th Yards allowed per pass
Broncos Pass O28th DVOA/15th Yards per pass
Broncos Run D22nd DVOA/16th Yards allowed per carry
Chiefs Run O17th DVOA/7th Yards per carry
Broncos Pass D4th DVOA/2nd Yards allowed per pass
Chiefs Pass O1st DVOA/2nd Yards per pass
Game Overview ::
By mike johnson >>
- This game is a matchup of the highest-scoring team in the NFL (KC) against the lowest-scoring team in the league (DEN).
- Much of this game’s tempo and flow will be determined by how the Chiefs decide to attack – to play to their strength (passing) or attack their opponent’s weakness (rushing).
- Denver’s offense continues to set new standards for ineptness.
How kansas city Will Try To Win ::
Kansas City is tied with the Bills for the lead in the AFC with a 9-3 record. However, the Bills own the tiebreaker thanks to their head-to-head victory in Week 6. Home-field advantage in the playoffs is a big deal, and the Chiefs can’t afford to mess around with a divisional road game against an opponent with a very good defense. While the storylines this season about Russell Wilson’s cringeworthy habits/comments and awful on-field play have taken control, the reality is that Denver continues to be a tough out from a real football perspective. Seven of Denver’s nine losses this season have been by seven or fewer points, and they have made life difficult for opponents and viewers alike during the long 13-week journey to get to this point.
From a philosophical standpoint, the Chiefs will have some choices to make. Kansas City throws the ball at a higher rate than any other team in the league but is facing an elite pass defense and sub-par rush defense in this matchup. Likewise, the Broncos offense has scored 20 points only one time this season, meaning that the Chiefs barrier for winning is relatively low as long as they don’t gift Denver with turnovers and free points. Head coach Andy Reid will have to decide if he wants to play to his team’s strengths or attack the weakness of his opponent. While the Chiefs are unlikely to lean entirely on the run, a more balanced approach is certainly viable, especially with the emergence of Isiah Pacheco as a consistent runner. The Broncos pass defense is legit, but they have also not faced very many high-level passing offenses outside of the Chargers. Likewise, much of the strength of Denver’s pass defense lies on the perimeter, while the Chiefs feature Travis Kelce and other ancillary receivers (RBs, TEs, gadget WRs) more than most teams. This is all to say that while the Denver pass defense is unlikely to allow a Chiefs passing game explosion, the Chiefs are well equipped to still move the ball through the air.
How denver Will Try To Win ::
Panthers Run D18th DVOA/15th Yards allowed per carry
Seahawks Run O23rd DVOA/7th Yards per carry
Panthers Pass D26th DVOA/13th Yards allowed per pass
Seahawks Pass O8th DVOA/24th Yards per pass
Seahawks Run D25th DVOA/26th Yards allowed per carry
Panthers Run O10th DVOA/10th Yards per carry
Seahawks Pass D17th DVOA/19th Yards allowed per pass
Panthers Pass O30th DVOA/8th Yards per pass
Game Overview ::
By mike johnson >>
- Carolina enters this game off their bye week and is on a bit of a roll, winning two of their last three games.
- Seattle has backfield issues that could push them to lean on their highly efficient passing game.
- Neither defense ranks in the top half of the league against either the run or the pass.
- The Panthers handed the ball to running backs on 41-of-65 plays in their last game.
How carolina Will Try To Win ::
Despite a 4-8 record and firing their coach early in the season, the Panthers are sneakily still in the playoff hunt as they come out of their Week 13 bye. The Panthers offense has quietly come to life recently, as they have scored 21+ points in five of their last six games. As a matter of fact, their scoring during that stretch would rank in the top half of the NFL if compared to the league’s season long stats. Considering the negative public perception around this unit, being aware of these recent trends is key in examining them for this week and beyond. If the Panthers can win this game and the Bucs lose their tough road game in San Francisco, Carolina will be within a game of the division lead with all four of their games remaining against teams with losing records. Such is life in the NFC South in 2022.
Sam Darnold returned as the starting quarterback for the Panthers in Week 12 and led the Panthers to a victory. In that game, the Panthers leaned heavily on their running backs, as they had a 63% run rate and controlled the game. For comparison’s sake, the Falcons lead the NFL on the season with a 52.4% run rate. This week the Panthers get a Seahawks defense that has been very forgiving recently, giving up 300+ yards from scrimmage to Josh Jacobs in Week 12 and breathing life into Cam Akers for his best game of the year in Week 13. On the season, the Seahawks rank 28th in the NFL in yards per carry allowed and we should expect the Panthers to lean heavily on their strength and the weakness of the Seahawks in this tough road environment. When Darnold does take to the air, expect D.J. Moore to be his preferred target. Moore has struggled with Carolina’s QB play over the past two seasons, but his best play, by far, has been with Darnold under center. The pair connected for 103 yards and a touchdown in Week 12, as Moore received a 32% target share.
How seattle Will Try To Win ::
MIKE JOHNSON >>
My imagination is running wild with the possibilities for this game. It doesn’t feel real that in the year 2022 I would make that statement about a game featuring Geno Smith and Sam Darnold as the starting quarterbacks, but here we are.
Given the state of this slate with only 10 games, only one of which has a total over 47 points, finding a spot that can surprise for a high scoring game is extremely valuable and has a high chance of vaulting you to the top of leaderboards if it does hit. Along with high scoring environments, we also want to target highly concentrated offenses. When we can find situations where those things combine, and do so at relatively affordable price tags, the sky is the limit.
On the Seattle side, the backfield situation makes all of the passing game pieces viable and interesting to me:
- Geno Smith has scored 20+ Draftkings points in four consecutive games and seems likely to keep the streak alive this week.
- DK Metcalf is top-10 in the NFL in targets and with his expanded route tree and role is a relatively consistent producer. Assuming the Seahawks have a lot of passing volume this week, Metcalf seems highly likely to see somewhere between 9-12 targets this week.
- Tyler Lockett hasn’t seen the same volume as Metcalf this season, but has been highly efficient. He is also coming off a season high 12 targets in a similar situation last week against the Rams.
- Noah Fant only has two touchdowns this season and only has one game of more than 50 receiving yards, but at $3,100 and with an athletic skill set he is an intriguing play from this game. Fant has 3+ catches in each of the last four games while producing over 4x his Week 14 salary twice during that stretch.
- Travis Homer has 11 receptions on 11 targets this season, while carrying the ball only nine times. Rashaad Penny and Kenneth Walker have carried the load for the Seahawks most of the year, so Homer is likely to see a huge increase in workload this week. Assuming the Seahawks approach this game how we expect, Homer could be in line for six to eight targets and somewhere in the 10-14 carry range.
On the Carolina side, there are a couple of clear spots I am interested in and a couple of cheap options you could consider – especially on the Afternoon Only slate.
- D’Onta Foreman has three games of 19.5 Draftkings points or more in his last six games. Given what Akers and Jacobs have done to the Seahawks in recent weeks, Foreman’s ability to break tackles and beat down a defense gives him a very high price considered ceiling.
- If Foreman, who sat out Wednesday’s practice, were to miss or be limited in this game, Chuba Hubbard would be in position for a very large workload at a cheap price tag. Hubbard also has a solid pass game role and would become extremely viable in all forms of DFS contests.
- DJ Moore’s talent and role at his price tag makes him very appealing. He is in a great matchup and if the Panthers keep this game close they will need him to produce and if they fall behind he is likely to see some heavy volume.
Where this game really gets interesting for me is in its stacking potential. Just last week, Geno + Metcalf + Lockett + Fant combined for over 100 DK points in a game where the Seahawks scored only 27 points. That group’s combined salary this week is $22.9k, meaning they would need to score 91.6 points to 4x their cost. Considering the expected approach of Seattle’s offense, that threshold seems relatively attainable. I think you could add Homer to the mix as well, given his skillset, and any mix of Geno plus two or three of those skill players is an extremely viable way to play this game. Seattle has been involved in several shootouts this season and they don’t have the personnel to just ice this one away on the ground, there are a lot of paths to a ceiling for the group here.
Combining that with the Panthers side, we already have one game this year where we saw them get involved in a shootout and production condense on Foreman and Moore in Week 8 against Atlanta. We have also seen that duo combine for totals of 37.6, 65.3, and 39.1 in three of the last six games. Considering they have a combined price tag of just $10.9k on Draftkings, a 50% chance of a 3.5x return seems really nice.
Buccaneers Run D13th DVOA/19th Yards allowed per carry
49ers Run O13th DVOA/10th Yards per carry
Buccaneers Pass D15th DVOA/7th Yards allowed per pass
49ers Pass O3rd DVOA/5th Yards per pass
49ers Run D2nd DVOA/2nd Yards allowed per carry
Buccaneers Run O30th DVOA/32nd Yards per carry
49ers Pass D5th DVOA/10th Yards allowed per pass
Buccaneers Pass O11th DVOA/28th Yards per pass
Game Overview ::
By mike johnson >>
- This is a game between two teams that lead their division, but are facing a lot of question marks late in the season.
- The 49ers are down to their third string quarterback, Brock Purdy, and will have to ride him for the rest of the season.
- The Bucs are playing off a short week after pulling off a dramatic come from behind victory on Monday night.
- This is a matchup of two very good defenses facing offenses that have many issues, which is shown by this game’s second lowest over/under on the slate.
How Tampa bay Will Try To Win ::
The Bucs rank sixth in the NFL in both situation-neutral pace of play and pass rate over expectation, yet 27th in the NFL in points per game. This shocking lack of efficiency comes on the heels of the Bucs sporting one of the top offenses in the league since Tom Brady arrived in 2020. A big part of the issue has been the offensive line, which has not provided the high level of protection against pass rushes this year that it has in the past and can’t get much of a push in the running game. This has forced a lot of the Bucs passing game to be focused on the short areas of the field to keep Brady upright and resulted in Tampa Bay ranking bottom-three in the NFL by most rushing efficiency metrics.
On the surface, this matchup for the Bucs offense is very difficult. The 49ers boast one of the top defensive units in the league and have been stellar in nearly every game this year. The one thing about this matchup for the Bucs is they already can’t run the ball, so facing the No. 1 run defense in the league should make it relatively easy for them to bypass even trying in this spot. Leonard Fournette and Rachaad White are splitting the running back duties now, and the duo should see a healthy dose of targets in this game after combining for 12 receptions against the Saints on Monday night. Also, stud wide receiver Chris Godwin appears at or near full strength again in his return from last season’s ACL tear, but his role has changed to basically an extension of the running game as he is bottom-10 in the NFL in average depth of target for receivers. Further highlighting the lack of big plays from the Bucs, red zone and deep threat specialist Mike Evans has not scored a touchdown since Week 4. The Bucs will likely have to pass often in this game and that passing will primarily be short area work trying to matriculate the ball down the field as they will become relatively predictable for their opponent, who also has some stellar pass rushers. The 49ers play primarily zone coverage, meaning Godwin, the running backs, and the tight ends should be heavily targeted in short areas of the field as they try to sit in holes in coverage for easy completions. While this 49ers pass defense was beaten handily by the Chiefs and had some struggles containing the Dolphins last week, the Bucs passing game is no longer on the same level as those teams and will likely struggle to string together first downs.
How san francisco Will Try To Win ::
- Godwin has seen recent target counts (starting from Week 6) of 12 // 13 // 11 // 10 // 8 // 13 // 13, making it stunning that he has topped 19.1 DraftKings points only once in this stretch, and has topped 15.5 only twice. The 49ers have been bottom-five in slot production allowed over the last month and a half, and it’s unlikely the Bucs decide that testing San Francisco on the ground is their best means of winning this game, all of which points toward another high-volume game from Godwin. He’s the only piece on the Bucs who is interesting to me. I believe I have only played Godwin once during this stretch of high-volume popularity (when I was mixing and matching Bucs stacks against the Steelers way back in Week 6), so it’s hard for me to see myself pulling the trigger on tighter builds against an elite defense that isn’t likely to give up a ton of points to the Bucs — but on this “small slate that feels even smaller,” Godwin is at least a guy I’m seeing. I’ll probably build in a bit of exposure to him in large-field play. Outside of Godwin, I expect to leave the Bucs alone.
- You could make a case for literally any of the elite weapons on the 49ers, but I’m likely to avoid these guys on tighter builds and use them only sparingly in large-field play. The player who most draws my eye is Christian McCaffrey (he requires the least to go right in order to hit), but given the matchup and the quarterback situation, it’s still hard to see a “had to have it” score at his price tag.
- I do like both defenses in this game — but outside of those units, on tighter builds, I’m likely to stay away.
MIKE JOHNSON >>
It’s hard to see this game turning into a shootout, but there are some big names at reasonable price tags who could hit in a big way. On the San Francisco side:
- Christian McCaffrey is in an elite role once again. Assuming full health, his workload is as great as any running back on the slate. Running back isn’t a spot I’m looking to pay up for on Draftkings this week, but CMC is certainly viable in tournaments there and I am especially high on him on Fanduel.
- Deebo Samuel is in a spot to potentially pop after having great usage a week ago. His price has declined significantly from its peak and we know Deebo is capable of big plays.
- George Kittle’s price is shockingly low and he shouldn’t have much ownership. While his usage last week wasn’t great, after a week of practice with Purdy and head coach Kyle Shanahan getting the chance to game plan it wouldn’t be a shock to see Purdy pepper the ultra-talented tight end with short area targets and let him make plays after the catch.
Looking at the Tampa Bay side, their offense has been wildly inefficient in moving the ball this season. After ranking 3rd and 7th in yards per play over the last two seasons, the Bucs rank 25th in that category this year while scoring over 22 points on only one occasion. Facing the best scoring defense in the league this week, who also faces the lowest play volume from opponents of any team in the league, an offensive explosion seems unlikely here. That being said, there are also some individual plays on this side who make sense based on salaries::
- Chris Godwin is as good of a bet as almost any other receiver on the slate for double digit targets. His yards per catch have not been great, but just two weeks ago he had a 12 // 110 // 1 game and that is well within his range of outcomes here.
- Rachaad White and Leonard Fournette are splitting backfield duties, which makes both project poorly, but given the receiving volume and low price tags it wouldn’t be surprising for one of them to put up a 20-point game here.
- Mike Evans hasn’t scored a touchdown in his last eight games and only has two games of 100+ receiving yards this season. There aren’t a lot of data points that would put you on an Evans blow up game this week but I would guess things correct themselves in both departments before the end of the season and he’s the type of talent and skill set that you want to take some chances on in GPP’s.
Dolphins Run D9th DVOA/11th Yards allowed per carry
Chargers Run O22nd DVOA/30th Yards per carry
Dolphins Pass D25th DVOA/12th Yards allowed per pass
Chargers Pass O17th DVOA/26th Yards per pass
Chargers Run D29th DVOA/32nd Yards allowed per carry
Dolphins Run O14th DVOA/19th Yards per carry
Chargers Pass D10th DVOA/27th Yards allowed per pass
Dolphins Pass O2nd DVOA/1st Yards per pass
XANDAMERE’S SHOWDOWN SLANT
Sunday Night Football brings us the highest total game of Week 14 as the Dolphins visit the Chargers for what Vegas thinks will be a full-fledged shootout. The game has a total of 53.5 with the Dolphins favored by 3.5 (also a nice healthy team total of 25 for the Chargers and an elite 28.5 for Miami). It should be a fun one to build lineups for and a fun one to watch (unlike a lot of these island games this year).
On the Chargers side, Austin Ekeler is, as always, the best skill position option. While he’ll lose some rushing work to Josh Kelley, Ekeler will see rushing work and also has strong odds to lead the team in targets. Of mild concern is that Ekeler played just 60% of the snaps last week and saw only 16 opportunities while Kelley played a season-high 43% of the snaps with eight opportunities of his own. Ekeler’s awesome but the matchup on the ground is tough (Miami is 9th in run defense DVOA but 23rd against the pass) so he’s likely going to have to get there via a combination of volume through the air and visits to the end zone. While he’s fully capable of that, the larger role for Kelley last week is at least a slight cause for concern, and if you wanted to take a big stand by fading one of the highest-owned players on the slate due to high price and challenging matchup, I wouldn’t think you were crazy for doing so. Kelley fits into the “RB2 in Showdown” bucket in which he’s viable if Ekeler gets hurt or if he lucks into a touchdown, but at his price, he doesn’t really have a viable path to putting up a tourney-worthy score on his normal volume alone.
Ownership updates automatically
In the passing game, Mike Williams is returning, bringing the Chargers back to full health in their receiving corps for the first time all season. We can expect to see the primary wide receivers be Keenan Allen, Williams, and Josh Palmer, with Deandre Carter the likeliest to be in the WR4 role, and Michael Bandy may snag a small handful of rotational snaps. While we know that on full slates, OWS generally has a perspective of “Allen is more of a floor play than a ceiling play,” in this Showdown, he’s priced at just $8,200, and I think he has sufficient upside to make him viable at that price. Williams is going to be highly popular in tournaments as the highest ceiling option of the receivers at just $7,000, but as always, his floor is minuscule (four games of at least 21.6 Draftkings points, but then three games of 8.5 or fewer points, not including the game he got hurt in). Williams becomes an ownership play to me, as I generally want to come in underweight highly volatile plays at high ownership, and I expect he’ll be quite owned at a bargain price (the cheapest Williams has been all year in Showdown is $8,200 in Week 1, and every other week after that he’s been at least $9k). Josh Palmer is likely to be the forgotten man from an ownership perspective, and I’ll confess to somewhat forgetting about him too when the Chargers played the Chiefs in Week 11 . . . and then Mike Williams got hurt early and Palmer went off for 8/106/2. The point here is that Palmer has established himself as a solid member of this receiving group, and while I think his median projection is going to be lower than Williams (which should result in much lower ownership given that they’re priced just $200 apart), Palmer’s ceiling is strong and I’m expecting that low ownership (say, anything under 30%) will make him a really strong tournament option. Carter is overpriced for what should be a WR4 role but can still be included in MME pools. At tight end, Gerald Everett has been fairly mediocre this season, with a season-high of 17.1 Draftkings points. At $5,000, that would likely get him in the optimal lineup, but it’s the only score he’s put up this year that would be highly likely to do so. You probably need a touchdown for Everett to pay off, and the Chargers are so deep that he only has two on the season. He’s fine and should be included in tournament pools but there’s nothing that really makes him stand out here. Donald Parham was flagged to return from injured reserve, and if he does this week (I’ve seen no news nor is it likely we get any until Sunday), he would make for a reasonable punt value option all the way down at $200 – albeit with a very low floor (he’s only played in two games on the year, with 38% and 20% of the snaps and a total of four targets). If Parham misses, as seems likely, Tre McKitty will play the TE2 role in what will be primarily a blocking role with just 14 targets on the season (you can toss him in MME pools as a “hope for a touchdown” play, but it’s very thin).
Patriots Run D10th DVOA/8th Yards allowed per carry
Cardinals Run O27th DVOA/17th Yards per carry
Patriots Pass D3rd DVOA/14th Yards allowed per pass
Cardinals Pass O29th DVOA/32nd Yards per pass
Cardinals Run D27th DVOA/23rd Yards allowed per carry
Patriots Run O21st DVOA/21st Yards per carry
Cardinals Pass D19th DVOA/7th Yards allowed per pass
Patriots Pass O25th DVOA/20th Yards per pass
XANDAMERE’S SHOWDOWN SLANT
Week 14 wraps up with the Patriots visiting the Cardinals for a 43.5 total game in which New England is favored by a point and a half on the road. So, with modest team totals, and a close spread, it’s likely to be a somewhat grindy game. Let’s figure it out.
On the Cardinals side, James Conner has a monstrous role of late, playing at least 71% of the snaps in every game since returning from injury in Week 9 and even getting up to 96% of the snaps in two of those four games. In those four games, Conner has handled 12, 24, 19, and 28 running back opportunities, with an average of four targets per game. That, my friends, is an elite role. Backup Keontay Ingram has a total of eight carries and zero targets since Eno Benjamin was released, while Corey Clement saw a single target in Week 12 (you go Corey!). The matchup here is awful against a Patriots D that is 3rd in overall defensive DVOA, 7th against the run, and 3rd against the pass, but the role here is so robust that it gives Conner a high floor and also access to a very high ceiling, should he find his way into the end zone. Conner is not the most efficient back in the world and is highly unlikely to get to 100+ rushing yards, but his touchdown equity is huge. He’s a strong play here based on role and volume, while Ingram is priced cheaply enough to be a viable “hope for a touchdown” RB2 punt who would become very strong should Conner get hurt.
Ownership updates automatically
In the passing game, the Cardinals told us Marquise Brown would be on a snap count in his first game back from injury, and then he played 97% of the snaps and led the team in targets with eight. I guess it’s safe to say he’s fully healthy. Brown and DeAndre Hopkins will be the primary pass catchers for the Cardinals, and while Hopkins is going to project higher than Brown, given the massive $4,000 price difference between them, I think Brown is a significantly better play. Both are viable, of course, and Hopkins is in a weird spot price-wise. Hopkins is the most expensive skill position player on the slate by a wide margin, but people are going to want to play Kyler and they’re going to want to play Rhamondre Stevenson, so I’m curious where Hopkins’ ownership lands. I don’t think he’s going to go overlooked or anything because people will see a strong projection and that nice big 21.7 number in the fantasy points per game column on Draftkings, but if pricing drives people away and he comes in under 35% or so, that’s a bargain from an ownership perspective. Brown is an absolute smash play at $7,600, to me, despite the tough matchup. We generally don’t see guys on the WR1/WR2 border priced at that level (Brown is averaging 17.6 DK points per game, which is 10th in the NFL). Everyone else is going to be a secondary option here, with one other real point of interest: Rondale Moore didn’t practice on Friday and seems likelier than not to miss, which would open up Greg Dortch at $2,200. We haven’t seen how Dortch’s role would work with both Hopkins and Brown active, but what we do know is that in the four games in which he’s played at least 71% of the snaps (the four Moore has missed except for last week, when both were inactive), Dortch has a total of 33 targets with 29 catches for 301 yards and a touchdown, scoring at least 13.3 Draftkings points in each game. Not bad for $2,200, and my guess is if this scenario plays out, Dortch would run primarily in the slot with Brown and Hopkins on the perimeter, while A.J. Green and Robbie Anderson would see their snaps get squeezed. Green is somehow $5,200 despite averaging just 3.8 Draftkings points per game. I’ll pass except for a tiny sprinkle in tournaments. Anderson seems to have no upside left at this point in his career (or in this role in the offense), having a high score of 2.7 Draftkings points since joining the Cardinals. He can also be a tourney sprinkle. At tight end, Trey McBride is in a big role since Zach Ertz got hurt with at least 76% of the snaps in those three games, but it has only come with eight targets for a 6/22/0 receiving line; he’s just not really being used in the passing game. Given that he’s on the field so much, I think he’s a bit more than a punt option (I would not be surprised to see him more involved at some point this season – he was a 2nd round pick, after all), while backup TEs Stephen Anderson and Maxx Williams are pure punts.