Stat Factors: Week 16

NFL Advanced Data is more accessible than ever, and with the power of providers like Sports Info Solutions and PlayerProfiler.com, RotoGrinders is here to bring them to your doorstep. Each week, Stat Factors will compare 99 team level metrics and hundreds more advanced player level analytics to bring you key “Stat Factors” that matter for each game. We’ll then break them down and teach you how to empower your decision making for the week using these factors. The best DFS players in the world supplement their process with sports analytics, and we’re here to help you enhance your week of research.

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Week 16 – Saturday Slate

Washington Redskins vs. Tennessee Titans

Washington Redskins Skewed Matchups of Note

Top 10 Gap Block % Matchup
Bottom 5 QB/RB/TE Fantasy Points Allowed Matchup
Bottom 10 Yards Per Drive Matchup
Bottom 10 Third Down Success % Matchup
Bottom 10 TE Target Success Matchup
Bottom 10 TD Per Drive Matchup
Bottom 10 Seconds per Play Matchup
Bottom 10 RB Target Success Matchup
Bottom 10 Points Per Drive Matchup
Bottom 10 Explosive Pass Matchup

The Redskins, despite being on their 4th QB, are in the playoff hunt with medium-high motivations against a superior but not even close to unbeatable Titans team. They are 10 point underdogs on the road and will be one of the least popular teams for DFS this week.

The Titans check in with the 10th ranked DVOA defense and are a week removed from marginalizing a dangerous Saquon in just about the most significant way possible. Rush market share data in the Premium Usage app suggest that QB Josh Johnson is driving some of the Redskins relatively run heavy skew in the past two weeks, while Adrian Peterson managed just 51 yards on 19 attempts vs. Jacksonville last game. Playing on the road as more than a TD underdog against a defense that allows the least fantasy points to RBs this season and second least in the last four weeks, there is very little reason to trust Adrian Peterson even on a short slate. Chris Thompson has received snap shares of 60%<40%<43% the past 3 weeks and target totals of 5<5<2. The Titans are the toughest team against RB receivers, allowing just a 38.37% success rate. The Redskins RBs are among the lowest probability plays this week with ownership to match.

The Titans have lost slot DB Logan Ryan but thankfully get the temporary reprieve of facing a jabroni-infused, lackluster passing attack led by a QB who has returned from his NFL grave. Zombie Josh Johnson faces a Titan defense that limits fantasy production to QBs and TEs while otherwise allowing some success against WRs. The highest concentration of targets to any Redskins WR in the past 3 weeks has been 24% to Jamison Crowder, who has a horseshoe wedged firmly in his ass as displayed with an accidental long TD two weeks ago and lucky catch last week (Credit Rotoworld’s Evan Silva for mentioning this multiple times this week). If my choices are Josh Doctson, Michael Floyd, and Jamison Crowder. I’d still take Crowder against replacement slot LeShaun Sims but I wouldn’t be happy about it. Backup TE Jeremy Sprinkle will replace the possibly inactive Vernon Davis if he can’t play. The Titans have the personnel to erase him from the game entirely, and I am otherwise looking at this as a favorable spot for the Titans defense in DFS.

The Factor: Titans DST
The X-Factor: Jamison Crowder

Tennessee Titans Skewed Matchups of Note

Top 10 Explosive Rush TD Matchup
Bottom 10 Seconds per Play Matchup
Bottom 10 Sack % Matchup
Bottom 10 RB Target Success Matchup
Bottom 10 20+ Yard Pass % Matchup

The Titans have maximum motivation to win at home as 10 point favorites vs. a depleted Titans team. They should have the edge in all phases.

Derrick Henry looks like he would be roughly the size of the Undertaker (he’s actually only 6’3’’ – The Undertaker is 6’10’’) but he certainly seems to have a similar ability to be left for dead and suddenly rise up to choke slam his surprised opponents in dominant fashion. He has an insane 50 rushing attempts in the past 2 games, including 33 last week. Neither situation (JAC, NYG) has been as good a situation as he’ll see this week against a WAS defense that ranks 29th in rush DVOA and has allowed the 10th-most fantasy points to RBs over the last 4 weeks. The writing is on the wall for another heavy dose of Henry. Using Dion Lewis in the same lineup is not out of the question, as he has still seen a sprinkle of targets and a handful of carries despite the workload of Henry. That’s going to be an under-appreciated tournament tactic on the short slate.

Marcus Mariota has 44 total pass attempts and less than 300 yards passing over the past two weeks, scripts that mirror the projected game flow of his upcoming matchup Saturday. Assuming this comes to pass, we’ll be asking for some TD luck in the red zone or a complete white washing in order for him to have the highest score on this 2 game DFS slate. Fortunately, his competition is also light from the other 3 QB starters, and he has more than a fighting chance to actually give you a slate winning score. With run formations likely more so than usual, the absence of Tajae Sharpe won’t bring anyone new into the mix. Your pass catcher pairing options are limited to the fantasy disappointment Corey Davis and the emergent but under-leveraged Taywan Taylor. Taylor has similar target volume and possibly more explosive play capability facing a defense that has allowed a middling 48 explosive passes on the season. He’s also substantially cheaper than Davis on Draftkings and should be lower owned as well. That makes him the superior option in my view despite the higher pedigree of Davis.

The Factor: Derrick Henry
The X-Factor: Taywan Taylor

Baltimore Ravens vs. Los Angeles Chargers

Baltimore Ravens Skewed Matchups of Note

Top 10 Zone Block Success Matchup
Top 10 TE Target % Matchup
Top 10 Sack % Matchup
Top 10 Rush Success % Matchup
Top 10 QB Pressure Matchup
Top 10 Plays Per Drive Matchup
Top 10 Gap Block Success Matchup
Bottom 10 Explosive Rush % Matchup

The Ravens are playing with peak motivation as they attempt to hang on for dear life to their wildcard position and possibly win the division. They are the underdog against a very tough Chargers team a week removed from defeating the mighty Chiefs. It’s a pretty neutral matchup overall.

This projects as a tight game with relatively low play volume. The punters are already stretching and the TV producers are busy creating extra filler content. The softest portion of the Chargers defense is their run defense, allowing a 51.94% rush success rate which is 3rd worst in the league. The Ravens rely on stringing together successful rush plays lately, and have been delivering against much softer overall defenses to the tune of 54% rush success rate. Gus Edwards led the charge last week with 39% of the work and 19 carries. That tells you something about the Ravens rush volume and ratio, as Lamar Jackson had 18 carries and Kenneth Dixon 11. I think the DFS decision here is pretty simple. If you think the game is close and you want to play a Ravens back, you choose Edwards. If you think the Chargers can attain a lead, then you have a tougher choice. Dixon would make sense if you believe he is the player on the field in passing situations. However, both Ty Montgomery and Javorius Allen are more capable satellite backs. The Ravens are unlikely to clue us in to a major shift in game plan nor a shift in mentality if they find themselves in the unfamiliar position of being behind. Thus, if Montgomery is inactive yet again, Allen makes for a super obscure dart throw that I don’t think a lot of people will be thinking about and nor should they be. If Montgomery is active, perhaps he is worthy of that same dart. We’re simply talking about a flyer to make yourself substantially different on a short slate here, and it’s a leap of faith at best. At worst, it’s lineup suicide.

The market share leader among Ravens WRs over the past 3 weeks has been Willie Snead. Snead has share percentages of 28.6% (6 targets), 26.9% (7 targets), and 12% (3 targets). John Brown is not far behind with 13 total targets. TEs Mark Andrew and Hayden Hurst have their most value inside 10 yards, with vultures Maxx Williams and Nick Boyle lurking. It is impossible to fully trust any of these options given how bad Lamar Jackson is at the forward pass, with just a 68.55% “on-target rate.” The Chargers are very imposing in the secondary with their CBs, and I’d be more inclined to favor a dart throw at the TEs vs. doing anything more than using a Ravens WR as a last piece.

As for Lamar Jackson, he’s a high floor option thanks to the likelihood of rushing attempts, but this matchup presents the lowest ceiling of those that he’s seen to date. In a relative sense, he’s very much in play thanks to a weak overall position on the two-game slate. 71 Yards has been his lowest output to date, and he’ll be in play with even a little less than that.

The Factor: Gus Edwards (if you think the game stays close)
The X-Factor: Lamar Jackson / Ravens script dependent RBs (if you think the Chargers lead)

Los Angeles Chargers Skewed Matchups of Note

Bottom 5 WR Fantasy Points Allowed Matchup
Bottom 5 RB Fantasy Points Allowed Matchup
Bottom 5 QB Fantasy Points Allowed Matchup

The Chargers strong offense has a status as small favorites against a strong Ravens defense. This is a neutral matchup with both teams playing at a high motivation level.

Melvin Gordon returns from injury with all the check boxes filled on the opportunity side. There is only the matchup to be concerned with, as the Ravens are the 6th ranked DVOA defense, allow just the 25th-most fantasy points to RBs over the past 4 weeks, and limit RB pass catchers to just 39% success (3rd best). This isn’t even worth a complete dissection though… Melvin Gordon is virtually unfadeable on this slate since the replacement value is equally unlikely to produce at substantially better rate… even in the flex spot.


Keenan Allen has been limited in practice but should be expected to play. It’s a terrible matchup for all the Chargers as the Ravens rank 2nd best in limiting WR success at 45.88%, and have just a 6.84% explosive pass rate (4th best). Somebody has to win this game though, and overcoming the challenge of this defense is something well within the range of outcomes for the Chargers. Pro Football’s 4th highest IQR (independent QB Rating) belongs to Philip Rivers. He should be more the capable of finding Allen, Williams (2X), and his cohort of TEs and backs to the tune of minor yet possibly slate winning success. My first choice on the week will be this passing game paired with Rivers and Gordon. The Ravens aren’t exactly weak against the TE, but in terms of soft spots that’s about the closest they have. They allow the 11th highest TE target rate and 7th-most fantasy points to the position over the last 4 weeks. I suppose that means Antonio Gates could accidentally score a TD and become a necessary TE to own on this atrocious 2-game DFS tilt.

The Factor: Melvin Gordon
The X-Factor: Philip Rivers

Week 16 – Main Slate

Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Dallas Cowboys

Tampa Bay Buccaneers Skewed Matchups of Note

Top 10 Plays Per Drive Matchup
Top 10 Pass Success % Matchup
Top 10 3WR + % Matchup
Bottom 5 WR Fantasy Points Allowed Matchup
Bottom 10 Yards Before Contact Matchup
Bottom 10 Rush Success % Matchup
Bottom 10 0-9 Yard Pass % Matchup

Tampa Bay has no playoff motivation and comes in as 7-point road underdogs against a highly motivated Cowboys team looking to bounce back after a tough week 15. It’s a neutral matchup at best here for them.

Peyton Barber is getting a fair amount of rushing work, as evidenced by his 19 carries for 85 yards last week against the Ravens. His offensive line is still creating just the 24th best rush yards before contact average and now they’ll face the 2nd toughest defense in that same stat. He’ll be basically unowned in DFS and is unlikely to matter in the grand scheme. You can avoid with confidence in the projected trailing game script and the possibility of low play volume being a factor.


The Cowboys bring a high pressure rate while the Tampa Bay offense allows plenty of pressure. 51.58% is the 3rd highest by any defense in the NFL, while the Bucs are below average at preventing pressure with a 41.67% rate allowed. It’s enough to give us confidence in the relatively affordable Dallas defense industry wide.

Desean Jackson is back this week, and it hurts the snap share potential of Chris Godwin. Just about your only worthy DFS contrarian plays here are Mike Evans and Cameron Brate. Evans is your guy if you wish to ignore a tough individual matchup with a pair of respectable outside corners. His 1870 air yards per SIS and 15.71 ADOT are enough to keep him on the GPP radar. We saw last week what high leverage targets like that can produce. Brate is a matchup play as the Cowboys allow the 12th most fantasy points to TE on the season and the 8th most in the last 4 weeks. Brate has 7 end zone targets on the season despite not being a #1 option at TE for the team for much of the season. It’s a low end, long shot play if you’re desperate for differentiation.

The Factor: Cowboys DST
The X-Factor: Mike Evans

Dallas Cowboys Skewed Matchups of Note

Top 5 QB/RB/WR Fantasy Points Allowed Matchup
Top 10 Zone Block Success Matchup
Top 10 Yards Per Drive Matchup
Top 10 Third Down Success % Matchup
Top 10 Rush Success % Matchup
Top 10 Explosive Rush Matchup
Top 10 Blown Run Blocks Matchup
Top 10 Blown Blocks Matchup
Top 10 0-9 Yard Pass % Matchup
Bottom 10 20+ Yard Pass % Matchup

The Cowboys have the chance to control this game via their special brand of offense, and have a nice edge on this low-end Tampa Bay defense.

The right arm of Ezekiel Elliot is exhausted from the amount of eating gestures he has had to make this season. He is your NFL leader in carries, explosive runs, and running back routes. He’ll take this mega volume that gets somewhat amplified in games they control to face a Tampa Bay defense that allows the highest rate of runs against them in neutral situations (46%), the second most points per drive, and the 3rd highest rate of both explosive runs and early down success rate. He’s on the Mount Rushmore of Team “Jam ‘Em In”, and in this matchup belongs to a select group of core plays viable in all formats.

Using the Advanced Receiving vs. Coverage tool here at Rotogrinders, we can see that Amari Cooper decimates that style of coverage to the tune of a 137.8 rating and 594 yards on just 52 targets. His rating vs. zone is just 85.4. From Week 1 to Week 6 while Mike Smith was the DC, Tampa saw just the 23rd highest pass attempts in Cover 0, Cover 1, and Man Cover 2. From Week 7 on, it’s been the 6th highest rate in the league with 141 attempts in those coverage types. “Credit Sports Info Solutions for the great breakdown last week to spawn this idea.”: https://sportsinfosolutionsblog.com/2018/12/13/dak-prescott-amari-cooper-face-challenge-with-colts-zone/ If Amari is likely to see more man coverage this week, he’ll have some beatable corners to go against when he does get that look. You have to put him on the GPP radar as a leverage option against the highly owned Elliott.

Factor:* Ezekiel Elliott
The X-Factor: Amari Cooper

Atlanta Falcons vs. Carolina Panthers

Atlanta Falcons Skewed Matchups of Note

Top 5 TE Fantasy Points Allowed Matchup
Top 10 TE Target Success Matchup
Top 10 TD Per Drive Matchup
Top 10 Points Per Drive Matchup
Top 10 Explosive Pass TD Matchup
Top 10 DVOA Matchup
Top 10 2 TE + % Matchup
Bottom 10 RB Target % Matchup
Bottom 10 Clean Pocket Matchup

The Panthers motivation is limited (other than personal job security) after losing their star QB for the season, and the Falcons likewise have nothing left to gain from the final two weeks of the season. The Falcons are road favorites but the game itself is one of the biggest wildcards on the slate.

The Falcons do have a capable back in Tevin Coleman ready to work in a contract year, but the issue of opportunity is not yet fully clear of clouds thanks to the presence of Brian Hill and to a much lesser extent Jeremy Langford. It is not a certainty to project Coleman for a massive workload considering he was giving up work to Ito Smith even when the Falcons were still in it. There is, of course, a range of outcomes that includes the Falcons carrying on business as usual. This is evident to me by Julio Jones practicing Friday and possibly suiting up to play (watch news) on Sunday. Assuming it’s all systems go, the matchup for Coleman is mediocre. The Panthers have been the 13th best DVOA defense and allow just the 26th highest rate of rush success. His ownership will likely be somewhat elevated after a quality game last week, and I fear playing him this week may be a week too late to see full profits. Still, Coleman is likely the most DFS relevant offensive factor for the Falcons given his explosive capability and the relatively low chance the Falcons actually see Hill or Langford as major cogs of the future.

Julio Jones is questionable with a hip issue, but did practice Friday on a limited basis. He’s a game time decision, and would be a pretty easy GPP play against the Panthers struggling WR defense under normal conditions. These are not normal conditions, though. Marvin Hall and Russell Gage are lurking in the shadows to steal snaps in a relatively meaningless game. With Julio not 100% clearly, I have a hard time pulling that trigger. I’d be more inclined to fire a dart at the rather boom-bust and TD dependent Calvin Ridley. He is for sure a part of their future plans, and Carolina has some lack luster metrics against explosive plays. This includes a 2nd highest 46% success rate on passes 20+ yards downfield. 14.63% of Ridley’s targets come at that distance, which is third on the team to Julio (20.26%) and Marvin Hall (23.53%).

Austin Hooper has been limited in practice but gets a highly beatable matchup if able to go. It should be somewhat concerning that Eric Saubert played 45% of snaps last week but that game was also a blowout. Many deep reserves played. If you are willing to risk the downside, the Panthers have allowed the 5th highest TE target success rate and the highest % of targets to the TE position inside the 10-yard line. There is upside for a Falcons TE here, but the wildcard nature of the situation makes it a little difficult to trust.

The Factor: Tevin Coleman
The X-Factor: Calvin Ridley

Carolina Panthers Skewed Matchups of Note

Top 5 QB/RB Fantasy Points Allowed Matchup
Top 10 Zone Block Success Matchup
Top 10 TD Per Drive Matchup
Top 10 Rush Success % Matchup
Top 10 RB Target Success Matchup
Top 10 RB Target % Matchup
Top 10 Gap Block Success Matchup
Top 10 Explosive Rush Matchup
Top 10 Early Down Success % Matchup
Top 10 DVOA Matchup
Top 10 Clean Pocket Matchup
Top 10 3WR + % Matchup
Top 10 10-19 Yard Pass% Matchup
Top 10 0-9 Yard Pass Success Matchup
Bottom 10 20+ Yard Pass % Matchup

It’s a your-guess-is-as-good-as-mine week for the technically not eliminated Carolina Panthers. My guess is that River Boat Ron comes to play with guns blazing trying to save his job and perhaps pull off a Christmas playoff miracle. I am willing to keep an open mind that this offense can function without Cam (assuming they are full throttle), and call the Panthers a slight favorite for fantasy production on offense.

Christian McCaffrey needs very little motivation to crush, but he’s once again produced at an insane level and been snubbed for an honor. This time, it’s the pro-bowl. He’s chasing some rare feats, and unlikely to lose his own personal motivation if he’s in the game. I am not presently expecting some lay-down performance where the Panthers uncork Cameron Artis-Payne for huge snaps. I think the bigger concern is if the Panthers can move the ball on offense with a backup QB. The Falcons have been god awful against running backs of McCaffrey’s prototype this season, allowing 55% rush success and 26% of targets to RBs (both second highest in the NFL) to go along with the 3rd most fantasy points allowed to RBs. CMC is a high upside GPP play at this point who will have his ownership eroded by the uncertainty, and rightfully so.

There are two ways of describing Taylor Heinicke. The first is as a career journeyman backup with near zero in-game experience that was unceremoniously dumped by his former coach and team – Norv Turner – in Minnesota after injuring himself kicking in his own window, missing time on the non-football-injury list, and wallowing deep on the bench for most of the next year. The other way you could describe him is as an 86th percentile SPARQ-x athlete with some big time college stats who hasn’t ever really had a chance to run the show. He once threw for 730 yards in a game. Those days are over of course, and we don’t really have any evidence of a downfield aggressive passing style for him since coming to the pros. He does have the advantage of having taken a lot of first team reps over the past few weeks while Cam was hurt and not practicing in full. I’m not going to have an impressive stat ready that tells us whether or not to expect a good game from him. What I can tell you is that he has rushing upside, young weapons who aren’t going to miss this game, and is priced at the stone minimum. He has a wide range of outcomes that spans million-dollar winner down to assisting the Falcons defense to a top DFS score on the week. Somewhere in between is by far the most likely, but he remains one of the most uncertain X-factors on the slate in my view.

The Factor: Christian McCaffrey
The X-Factor: Taylor Heinicke

Houston Texans vs. Philadelphia Eagles

Houston Texans Skewed Matchups of Note

Top 5 WR Fantasy Points Allowed Matchup
Top 10 WR Target Success Matchup
Top 10 WR Target % Matchup
Bottom 10 RB Target Success Matchup
Bottom 10 Blown Pass Blocks Matchup
Bottom 10 Blown Blocks Matchup

Both teams are highly motivated to win, and this should be a close game. The Texans should find success through the air, and therefore can be considered at the advantage on offense.

Lamar Miller is questionable and truly uncertain in terms of in / out news. I’ll make this easy for us all by reminding readers of this article how the Eagles are a pass friendly offense that is much tougher to beat on the ground. They’ve allowed a lot of fantasy points over the past 4 weeks, but that has come against 3 of the league’s best PPR backs. Teams attack Philadelphia on the ground at the league’s lowest rate at 34.44% in neutral situations. There is no need to be toying around with any Texans RB as short road underdogs.

Deandre Hopkins is also questionable but mostly expected to play this week coming off a massive Week 15 outburst against the Jets and their pair of fine outside CBs. The Eagles are a pass funnel featuring low-end secondary members, and Hopkins is the league leader in team target share at 32.1%. Assuming trends hold, this is a high-volume spot for Hopkins yet again with extreme upside outcomes within the range. 65% of plays inside the 10 yard line are passes against the Eagles (3rd most) while Hopkins has 20 end zone targets year to date and the Texans run the 6th most pass plays as a % inside 10. He’s a high end GPP option assuming he plays.

The Factor: Deandre Hopkins
The X-Factor: Deshaun Watson

Philadelphia Eagles Skewed Matchups of Note

Top 10 Pass% Matchup
Top 10 2 TE + % Matchup
Bottom 10 Yards Before Contact Matchup
Bottom 10 WR Target % Matchup
Bottom 10 Rush% Matchup
Bottom 10 RB Target Success Matchup
Bottom 10 Gap Block Success Matchup
Bottom 10 Explosive Pass TD Matchup
Bottom 10 Early Down Success % Matchup

The Eagles are short home favorites against a stout Texans defense. I struggle to see the Eagles as being correctly positioned when I examine the matchups, and would suggest the Texans are perhaps the better team and fully capable of grinding out a win here on the road. They have the slight advantage against a historically inconsistent Foles.

The Eagles have returned to their old, highly spread running back touch distribution with Josh Adams handling about 50% of carries and virtually no passing game work. Darren Sproles and Wendell Smallwood are also getting a taste of the action to a high enough degree that we should be dismissing the whole brood. The Texans rank as the second toughest rush defense in terms of rush success % allowed and thus it makes sense that they are the most effective team preventing early down success rate at just 42.76%. We can move on from this situation.

The passing game is in high consideration for the Eagles against a Texans secondary that has shown some soft spots in recent weeks. Alshon Jeffery was revived last week against the Rams, and now faces a team that allows 75% of TD scored against them through the air. He’s expected to play after missing practice Thursday, but we’ll need to monitor the news.

Zach Ertz is on a streak of games in which he hasn’t been crushing for DFS. The target totals have still been very attractive at 7<8<10<8 over the past four weeks. Now under $6,000 on Draftkings, he’s one of the clear options to consider at TE for that site. The Texans defense isn’t particularly flimsy against TEs, but they do see their opponents line up with two TEs 46.43% of the time, which is 4th highest in the NFL. The Eagles use two TEs + at the league’s 5th highest rate, which all but assures high opportunity for one of the games best TE options.

The Factor: Zach Ertz
The X-Factor: Alshon Jeffery

Green Bay Packers vs. New York Jets

Green Bay Packers Skewed Matchups of Note

Top 5 WR Fantasy Points Allowed Matchup
Top 10 WR Target % Matchup
Top 10 Explosive Rush TD Matchup
Top 10 3WR + % Matchup
Bottom 5 TE Fantasy Points Allowed Matchup
Bottom 10 Third Down Success % Matchup
Bottom 10 RB Target % Matchup
Bottom 10 Pass Behind Line % Matchup
Bottom 10 10-19 Yard Pass Success Matchup

The Packers have no actual motivation or even any reason to play their starting QB, and yet we’ll see them playing with a presumed full ambition to win against the Jets on the road as small favorites. The Packers offense has the advantage.

With Aaron Jones done for the season, we’ll see Jamal Williams with primary ball carrying duties against a relatively stingy run defense of the Jets. Williams is a sub-par athlete relative to his position who had spent a pretty healthy 21.3% of his snaps pass blocking prior to the role adjustment. The Jets tend to funnel targets to the WR position, which further lowers the viability of a hit and miss pass game role for Williams. In the last 4 weeks no team has allowed fewer fantasy points to RBs than the Jets. Williams is a volume driven play at a high opportunity cost position, and you’ll need an outcome near the top of his range to feel great about the selection. He is very much in play for GPP, but isn’t my personal favorite.

The Jets allow a league leading 69% of targets to flow to the WR group, and Aaron Rodgers is certainly not the best-case scenario QB when that happens to be the case. Davante Adams is a persistent threat against any DB, including the stingy defense of Morris Claiborne and Trumaine Johnson. Johnson has a passer rating allowed of 57 this season while Claiborne is now up to 75 after getting lit up by Deandre Hopkins last week. Adams is a WR of a similar class to Hopkins, who can win one on one with anybody in the league. He’s a great GPP option as the majority of the field will be paying down at the position. If you want to follow the field in construction but pivot away from the chalk, you can bet your ass one of the secondary WRs will come through. Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Equanimeous St. Brown, and perhaps even Jake Kumerow could be in the mix for a big game against the Jets WR funnel defense.

The Factor: Jamal Williams
The X-Factor: Davante Adams

New York Jets Skewed Matchups of Note

Top 5 WR Fantasy Points Allowed Matchup
Top 10 20+ Yard Pass % Matchup
Bottom 10 Gap Block Success Matchup

The Jets have motivation to develop their young talent for a number of reasons, which makes this game more appealing than it otherwise would have been given the records of those involved. The Jets have a slight advantage here at home.

Last week we saw a fairly healthy usage of Trenton Cannon against the Texans that should give us a stutter step of hesitation before we dive to the PC to cram in as much Elijah McGuire as we can. Cannon saw 4 targets and 22% of carries compared to Eli’s 58% of carries and 4 targets. McGuire still got the goal line work, and the matchup this week with Green Bay is far from imposing. Among the most intriguing matchups stats is the Packers 53.85% success rate allowed on RB targets, which bodes well for a Jets team that seems willing to use their current duo with relative frequency. You can’t play Cannon, but Elijah McGuire only has upside from his role from last week to see a higher share (he fumbled last week). He’s a very interesting GPP option, but it is noteworthy to mention there is risk in filling your RB position with a player who isn’t in the Elite Team Jam ‘Em In class.

Robby Anderson and Sam Darnold look like awesome plays to me this week based on price alone. The Texans defense is no push over, and Darnold showed up well in that contest last week. He was hurried 13 times and still managed to produce well for fantasy. He’s priced down on DFS sites this week and the matchup with Green Bay has seen the 7th most fantasy points to QBs over the last 4 weeks, and overall sports just the 24th ranked pass DVOA unit. The Packers, like the Jets, also tend to funnel targets to the WR position with the 3rd highest rate in the league. Robbie Anderson appears fully healthy and ready to smash, with high team shares of targets (31%<29%<23.3%) and air yards (51%<47%<50%) over the past three weeks. The combination of Darnold to Anderson seems to be picking up steam, and their chalky status will be merited on some level.

The Factor: Robby Anderson
The X-Factor: Sam Darnold

New York Giants vs. Indianapolis Colts

New York Giants Skewed Matchups of Note

Top 10 RB Target % Matchup
Top 10 20+ Yard Pass Success Matchup
Top 10 2 TE + % Matchup
Top 10 0-9 Yard Pass % Matchup
Bottom 5 WR Fantasy Points Allowed Matchup
Bottom 10 Zone Block Success Matchup
Bottom 10 WR Target % Matchup
Bottom 10 TD Per Drive Matchup
Bottom 10 10-19 Yard Pass% Matchup

The Giants have limited motivation, but don’t have significant risk of their most fantasy relevant assets being limited. They are huge underdogs against the Colts and figure to be in for a negative script in this one.

Saquon Barkley has an awkwardly low price this week and will face a defense that allows the highest % of targets to the RB position in the league. Barkley has seen an absolutely insane 104 targets this season and 18% of looks inside 10 yards. Let’s not over indulge in stats and reasons to play him: He’s $7,900 on Draftkings and seems like a stupid easy play there. On other sites, he’s still worth considering for the pass game upside. In terms of scoring, the risk here is that the Giants could get totally harpooned and left in a similar condition to the Cowboys last week. In case you forgot, Dallas was shutout by this incredibly well schemed Colts defense. Play Barkley and let other people get cute though… he can change his fantasy fortunes on any given play and is a rare talent.

Evan Engram will see elevated target shares in the absence of Odell Beckham and facing the 3rd highest TE target share defense in the league. The Colts also allowed the second highest rate of success on those targets at 64%, and for me this just screams that the Colts are willing to give up the TE production in exchange for shutting down more dangerous and win probability lowering plays. He’s priced to move industry wide, and will be one of the biggest winners in my next ownership projection update. With Beckham out, he’s the chalk.

The Factor: Saquon Barkley
The X-Factor: Evan Engram

Indianapolis Colts Skewed Matchups of Note

Top 10 Total Plays Matchup
Top 10 TE Target % Matchup
Top 10 Sack % Matchup
Top 10 Blown Pass Blocks Matchup
Top 10 Blown Blocks Matchup
Bottom 10 WR Target % Matchup
Bottom 10 Pass Behind Line Success Matchup
Bottom 10 Holding Calls Matchup

The Colts are huge home favorites with all the motivation in the world to crank out a win. They are at a big-time advantage in this spot.

Marlon Mack reminded fantasy owners that athletics matter last week, cranking out a GPP winning performance against a stout-on-paper Cowboys defense. Mack was aided by game script, but the situation should be similar this weekend against a Giants team that is probably somewhat less dangerous than the Cowboys. Mack was the beneficiary of 27 carries, which was also a season high in market share percentage, and the Giants allow the 4th highest rush TD share in the NFL. Mack isn’t an easy play with so many good options available at RB, but I am having a hard time seeing how he is a terrible one outside of opportunity cost. He certainly has a great matchup and tangible upside.

The Giants are friendly to TE targets, allowing the 6th highest rate in pro football as well as a top 12 rate of production over the past 4 weeks. Eric Ebron disappointed last week, but figures to be in line for a rebound in target volume (just 3 vs. DAL). He’s easily among the better options at the position.

T.Y. Hilton returned to practice today, which is a great sign for his availability this weekend. Hilton is humming along with team air yard shares of 63%>42%>36% over the past three weeks to go along with target shares above 24% for 6 straight games. The Giants have been effective at limiting WR fantasy points thanks to skewing TDs to the running game, but have also faced the 10th easiest schedule of opposing passing games. Hilton is a fine GPP play if you’d like to go that route, but is better in game stacks where you feel the game stays close in my humble opinion.

The Factor: Eric Ebron
The X-Factor: T.Y. Hilton

Minnesota Vikings vs. Detroit Lions

Minnesota Vikings Skewed Matchups of Note

Top 10 WR/TE Target Success Matchup
Top 10 Pass TD Ratio Matchup
Top 10 Pass Success % Matchup
Top 10 10-19 Yard Pass Success Matchup
Bottom 5 QB/WR Fantasy Points Allowed Matchup
Bottom 10 Explosive Rush Matchup
Bottom 10 Explosive Pass Matchup
Bottom 10 Blown Run Blocks Matchup
Bottom 10 2 TE + % Matchup
Bottom 10 10-19 Yard Pass% Matchup
Bottom 10 TE Target % Matchup
Bottom 10 Explosive Rush Matchup

The Vikings have huge motivations to win this week. They are at the advantage as big road favorites against the eliminated Lions.

Dalvin Cook showed up big time at home last week when we all expected him to, but this week he’ll have a much tougher time against the improved run defense of the Lions. The Lions have only allowed 32 explosive runs on the season, and the 23rd highest rush TD ratio. Cook was in a fantastic game script last week, but still only saw 47.5% of rush attempts while Latavius Murray was still heavily involved. There is certainly some chance he continues to play well, but I would call him a relatively unattractive option for the week with matchup and price considered.

The Vikings are expected to win this game, and this makes the use of their passing game a relatively interesting GPP angle. The Lions allow the 3rd highest WR target success rate at 57.74% the second highest rate of explosive passes at 13.38%. Kirk Cousins is surely in line for an elevated volume of pass attempts as compared to last week’s 23, and we are far more likely to see the Vikings TDs to come through the air. The overall pace and total scoring could be an issue in this game, but should the Vikings hit or exceed their 24-point total, Cousins will be in a great shape to surpass his salary based expectations. As for Diggs and Thielen, their team target share has fallen down to 50% between them on the season. They could still rise up in any given game to see a massive share of the passing game workload, and in that circumstance become potential week winners. Roster construction issues will make this double stack uber-contrarian, and that doesn’t seem right against a defense that skews pass and allows too much success on deep and intermediate targets. Pay up to be contrarian if you dare.

The Factor: Kirk Cousins
The X-Factor: Adam Thielen / Stefon Diggs

Detroit Lions Skewed Matchups of Note

Top 10 Pass Behind Line % Matchup
Bottom 5 QB/WR Fantasy Points Allowed Matchup
Bottom 10 Explosive Rush Matchup
Bottom 10 Explosive Pass Matchup
Bottom 10 Blown Run Blocks Matchup

The motivation is minimal for this Lions team with reduced weaponry and nothing to gain from wins. The Vikings defense is in a favorable spot.

We can’t seriously consider a Zack Zenner led attack against this Vikings front on a week with too many viable RB options already. The Vikings come into this game 7th in rush DVOA and allowing just 1.69 yards before first contact on average (27th highest). Zenner is a TD dependent plodder with a team total under 20 and facing a top 6 defense in the NFL. This is not what we want.

Kenny Golladay scored points for team opportunity share last week by engulfing Tre’Davious White and company in flames. He registered 146 yards on just 8 targets. His contested catch ability was on full display, and he’ll need that again this week if we expect him to torch the likes of Xavier Rhodes. We can’t honestly expect a true repeat performance, but we can say with confidence he’s the only Lions skill player even remotely resembling factor status on a loaded slate.

The Factor: Vikings DST
The X-Factor: Kenny Golladay

Cincinnati Bengals vs. Cleveland Browns

Cincinnati Bengals Skewed Matchups of Note

Top 5 TE Fantasy Points Allowed Matchup
Top 10 Sack % Matchup
Top 10 QB Pressure Matchup
Top 10 Pass% Matchup
Top 10 Pass Behind Line % Matchup
Top 10 Explosive Rush % Matchup
Top 10 Blitz Pressure Matchup
Bottom 10 Rush% Matchup
Bottom 10 Blown Run Blocks Matchup

The Bengals motivation is reduced, but we should expect a strong effort anyway with the coaching staff fighting for their lives. They are still big road underdogs to a tough Browns team.

Any chance of success by the Bengals is going to hinge on a remarkable performance from Joe MIxon and the running game. They are facing a Browns defense that hasn’t been exceptional year to date at preventing rush success, allowing the 9th highest rate on the season as well as the most explosive run plays. The last four weeks have proven that the Browns can limit the damage from RBs, keeping Phillip Lindsay in check and preventing Joe Mixon from exploding at a maximum level. McCaffrey and Mixon were both able to produce at a level we’d be satisfied with in that 4 week stretch though, and I don’t see any reason to outright dismiss the idea that MIxon can perform above the expectation implied by his ownership level. He’s a GPP pivot that checks the boxes of opportunity and matchup, but simply lacks the public confidence in his team to allow his ownership to rise excessively.

The reason that Browns DST will be the factor in this game has everything to do with talent. They have a lot, and The Bengals are essentially out of it in the passing game. It’s hard to rely on a team to have extreme success when your top pass catcher is a 3rd string TE. The Browns allow the second lowest pass TD Ratio in the NFL, and expecting any Bengals player to crush here without the aid of touchdowns is wishful thinking. With no Green, Boyd, Eifert, Dalton, and Kroft… the Bengals are looking like sitting ducks barring the execution of a world class game plan.

The Factor: Browns DST
The X-Factor: Joe Mixon

Cleveland Browns Skewed Matchups of Note

Top 5 TE Fantasy Points Allowed Matchup
Top 5 RB Fantasy Points Allowed Matchup
Top 5 QB Fantasy Points Allowed Matchup
Top 10 Total Plays Matchup
Top 10 Explosive Rush Matchup
Top 10 Clean Pocket Matchup
Top 10 Blitz Pressure Matchup
Top 10 2 TE + % Matchup
Top 10 10-19 Yard Pass% Matchup
Bottom 10 No Huddle % Matchup

The Browns are big home favorites playing with a small but powerful glimmer of playoff hope. They will be highly motivated and at the offensive advantage in this contest.

In 4 of the last 6 weeks, Nick Chubb has 20 carries or more. He has at least 3 targets in 5 of those games. He’s not sharing a big slice of the opportunity pie with anyone, and now finds himself in potentially positive game script against the second most favorable matchup for RBs. The Bengals allow the second highest rush yards before first contact average in the NFL at 2.46
Yards, and generally speaking don’t have any stats to suggest they’ll put up an outstanding effort in run defense this weekend. Chubb appears to be a high floor, high ceiling option that lacks the huge passing game volume for cash but has the multi-td upside to recover from that in GPPs.

Baker Mayfield tossed 4 TD in week 12 against the Bengals, and looked pretty damn good in the process. The Bengals are now totally devoid of talent in their passing game and facing even worse odds to produce on their offensive side. While Baker is in fine position to do well if the situation calls for it, the concern here is that the situation just won’t call for it. The Bengals allow the highest pass success rate in the NFL and the 4th highest volume of explosive plays, but the game script concerns relegate Baker to GPP only status. Antonio Callaway is cheap enough that you might consider leaning his direction with 5 or more targets in 3 of the last four weeks, and many of them last week were within a short distance of the line of scrimmage. He’s a viable punt with multiple outs if his role continues to evolve in this fashion.

The Factor: Nick Chubb
The X-Factor: Antonio Callaway

Buffalo Bills vs. New England Patriots

Buffalo Bills Skewed Matchups of Note

Top 10 Gap Block % Matchup
Top 10 3WR + % Matchup
Top 10 20+ Yard Pass % Matchup
Bottom 10 Zone Block % Matchup
Bottom 10 WR Target Success Matchup
Bottom 10 Points Per Drive Matchup
Bottom 10 Plays Per Drive Matchup
Bottom 10 20+ Yard Pass Success Matchup
Bottom 10 0-9 Yard Pass % Matchup

The Bills have no playoff motivation but also have young talent to develop. They are close to two TD underdogs on the road, and at the disadvantage in this game.

The Patriots are somewhat vulnerable to backs and in particular struggle with preventing rush success. They allow 51.53% success against the run, and it’s not going to matter in this game for a few reasons. Firstly, the Bills are extremely likely to be trailing and will eventually have to get away from the run more than they’d like. Secondly, they still don’t allow the successful run plays to translate into rushing TDs often. The Patriots have allowed just 6 all season to RBs. Thirdly, we’ll need the combination of a Chris Ivory absence and a marginal role from Keith Ford in order for LeSean McCoy to even have a chance at DFS relevant volume. McCoy has the juice to get it going and says that he wants to in this game. The matchup would allow it if got the chance, but we can’t currently feel good about using him in DFS due to the contextual factors.

Robert Foster has an out of control average depth of target (24.05 yards). 54.55% of his targets come 20+ yards downfield, and he’s been getting big time targets in the past 5 weeks (11>1>9>10>6). The Patriots have allowed 52 such deep balls this season, and on paper there is at least some hope Foster can come through again. In reality, the Patriots have very little else to focus on taking away in the Bills offense, and thus I can’t say with confidence I’m high on the idea of loading up on Foster. I’d rather play the Patriots defense, who benefits from home field and an inaccurate rookie QB dealing with Gillette in December.

The Factor: Patriots DST
The X-Factor: Robert Foster

New England Patriots Skewed Matchups of Note

Top 10 RushTD Ratio Matchup
Top 10 Rush% Matchup
Top 10 RB Target % Matchup
Top 10 2 RB+ % Matchup
Top 10 10-19 Yard Pass Success Matchup
Top 10 0-9 Yard Pass Success Matchup
Bottom 5 TE Fantasy Points Allowed Matchup
Bottom 5 QB Fantasy Points Allowed Matchup
Bottom 10 WR Target % Matchup
Bottom 10 TE Target % Matchup
Bottom 10 Pass TD Ratio Matchup
Bottom 10 3WR + % Matchup
Bottom 10 20+ Yard Pass Success Matchup

The Patriots have as much motivation as ever in Week 16, and we can expect them to have a huge advantage as monster home favorites.

The Patriots aren’t super likely to punch Buffalo in the mouth with the run game, though they have the tools to do it if they were dead set on it. I’d point to the Bills 3rd highest rate of RB targets (26.29%) and 5th highest rate of RB targets inside the 10 (25.93%) as potential justification for a GPP flyer on James White. White has 20 targets in the last 3 weeks already, and now could benefit from the redistribution of Josh Gordon ’s target share on some small level. Given that the Bills are allowing just the 25th highest success rate to standard rush attempts and rank 21st in Rush DVOA, I can see this matchup favoring the skills and ability of White over the versatility of Rex Burkhead and between the tackles grinding of Sony Michel.

Julian Edelman has double digit targets in four of his last 6 games, and has an important role to play in this game if we are to believe the Bills will lose by two TDs. The pass game will need to be operating in full effect, and that means 15+ fantasy points from Julian Edelman. 59.79% of passes against the Bills are within 0 to 9 yards, the 5th highest rate in the NFL. Edelman receives 53.85% of his targets in that range. It’s a great matchup fit, and the loss of Gordon only enhances his potential.

The Factor: Julian Edelman
The X-Factor: James White

Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Miami Dolphins

Jacksonville Jaguars Skewed Matchups of Note

Top 10 Pass Behind Line Success Matchup
Bottom 10 Seconds per Play Matchup
Bottom 10 No Huddle % Outside 4 Min Matchup
Bottom 10 No Huddle % Matchup
Bottom 10 Gap Block Success Matchup
Bottom 10 Blown Pass Blocks Matchup
Bottom 10 Blown Blocks Matchup

Jacksonville has thrown in the towel, playing with what appears to be lower intensity than the max. It makes me far less surprised that their metrics surpass Miami’s in most ways, and they are still underdogs on the road. It’s a neutral matchup as a result.

If we knew Dave Williams was the starting tailback set for a big workload, he might be pretty popular at minimum salary. Instead, we have Leonard Fournette appearing with a foot injury on early injury report, only to be removed after full practices late in the week. Cryptic quotes about the Jags “Wanting to have a 100-yard rusher” have come from their coaching staff, and yet we have no clue which of their backs they have intentions on trying to get there. The matchup with Miami seems like the perfect place to try that, as they got blow torched by Minnesota last week and for the season allow the 6th most fantasy points to RBs despite the 6th easiest schedule of opposing rush efficiency offenses. I know the Jags are at the advantage, but I honestly have no clue which RB will get the work. Sounds like a fade unless we get word.

Dede Westbrook was provided with a 56.6% share of team air yards last week and continues to be a top target for the team. I keep finding myself disassociated with the Jaguars offense and Dede, but at low prices across the industry I suppose you could consider attacking the 27th ranked DVOA pass defense that has allowed the 4th most explosive pass plays against the easiest schedule of pass efficiency offenses. I’ll still be hesitating to pull the trigger given the Jaguars lost season and 17 team total.

The Factor: Dede Westbrook
The X-Factor: ??? Jag RB ???

Miami Dolphins Skewed Matchups of Note

Top 10 Explosive Rush TD Matchup
Top 10 20+ Yard Pass % Matchup
Bottom 5 WR Fantasy Points Allowed Matchup
Bottom 5 RB Fantasy Points Allowed Matchup
Bottom 10 Yards Per Drive Matchup
Bottom 10 Total Plays Matchup
Bottom 10 Third Down Success % Matchup
Bottom 10 Seconds per Play Matchup
Bottom 10 QB Pressure Matchup
Bottom 10 Plays Per Drive Matchup
Bottom 10 Pass Success % Matchup
Bottom 10 Explosive Rush % Matchup
Bottom 10 Explosive Pass % Matchup
Bottom 10 Blitz Pressure Matchup
Bottom 10 20+ Yard Pass Success Matchup
Bottom 10 0-9 Yard Pass Success Matchup

The Dolphins are in the playoff hunt, but face a tough challenge in the Jaguars defense. It’s not going to be easy to trust them offense for DFS purposes.

Relying on rookie Kalen Ballage this week is a leap of faith that assumes he is ready to take on the 7th ranked defense and top ranked rush success rate preventer in just his first full game without Frank Gore in front on him on the depth chart. Ballage had 13 touches last week that he turned into solid production against a very tough opponent, and he’ll need to do it again before I’m willing to jump on board in a bad on paper matchup. Ballage has 96th percentile height adjusted speed, and can really fly once he gets space to do so. He’s slated for the Frank Gore role this week, and for me that’s not enough in this specific matchup. I’ll take my chances not playing him even though I like him in general.

I can’t even muster the strength to invent a reason to like the inconsistent and wide spread target share of the Dolphins. Danny Amendola qualifies as a dart throw with PPR upside, but the matchup is poor if the Jaguars come to play, and the Dolphins are looking exposed as an over-performing team that has benefitted from a weak schedule. The Dolphins are poor at allowing clean pockets for the QB and face a Jags D that ranks lowest in clean pockets allowed at 69.36%. I can’t rubber stamp anyone here with confidence.

The Factor: None
The X-Factor: Kalen Ballage

Los Angeles Rams vs. Arizona Cardinals

Los Angeles Rams Skewed Matchups of Note

Top 5 RB Fantasy Points Allowed Matchup
Top 10 Yards Before Contact Matchup
Top 10 WR Target % Matchup
Top 10 Total Plays Matchup
Top 10 RushTD Ratio Matchup
Top 10 RB Target Success Matchup
Top 10 RB Bounce Rate Matchup
Top 10 QB Pressure Matchup
Top 10 Points Per Drive Matchup
Top 10 Pass Success % Matchup
Top 10 Pass Behind Line Success Matchup
Top 10 Explosive Rush Matchup
Top 10 Blown Run Blocks Matchup
Top 10 Blown Pass Blocks Matchup
Top 10 Blown Blocks Matchup
Bottom 5 TE Fantasy Points Allowed Matchup
Bottom 10 TE Target % Matchup
Bottom 10 RB Target % Matchup
Bottom 10 Pass TD Ratio Matchup
Bottom 10 Gap Block % Matchup
Bottom 10 20+ Yard Pass % Matchup
Bottom 10 2 TE + % Matchup

It’s a high motivation spot here for the Rams, and they are two TD road favorites at the moment. They have the edge regardless of who lines up behind Goff.


Imagine a cold glass of water being thrown directly in your face, and that’s how I took the news yesterday that C.J. Anderson could be the primary early game back for the Rams and not John Kelly, assuming that Todd Gurley does not play. Pass protection is the primary concern but Anderson is also a proven commodity in zone block schemes, which the Rams run at a league high 87% clip and at a very successful rate of roughly 55% (2nd best). I’d rather lose than play C.J. Anderson, who we mercifully don’t have to consider thanks to being a mid-week signing. As for Gurley, that’s a pretty easy pass all things considered as well if he goes. The only play here is a GPP dart on Kelly, who could get second half run if the Rams passing attack does its job in the first half.

Patrick Peterson is questionable, which would only dump gasoline on a bon fire being built underneath the posteriors of Jared Goff, Robert Woods, Josh Reynolds, and Brandin Cooks. These four guys need to be the engine of this offense in Week 16, and come up with some productivity that looks more like what we saw earlier in the season. Arizona allows a 64% rate of targets to the WR position, which is good for 2nd most in the NFL. Without Peterson, a Gurley-less Rams will be certain to leverage a game plan centered around the passing attack and those WRs. Woods has been lining up slot and should be the primary weapon, while Josh Reynolds is priced well for jamming in stud RBs elsewhere in your roster. If we get the news that Peterson won’t be following Cooks, he’ll be available at depressed ownership in GPPs.

The Factor: Robert Woods
The X-Factor: Josh Reynolds / Brandin Cooks

Arizona Cardinals Skewed Matchups of Note

Bottom 10 Total Plays Matchup
Bottom 10 TE Target Success Matchup
Bottom 10 RB Target Success Matchup
Bottom 10 QB Pressure Matchup
Bottom 10 Plays Per Drive Matchup
Bottom 10 Pass Success % Matchup
Bottom 10 Pass Behind Line Success Matchup
Bottom 10 Clean Pocket Matchup
Bottom 10 Blown Pass Blocks Matchup
Bottom 10 Blitz Pressure Matchup
Bottom 10 0-9 Yard Pass Success Matchup

We can avoid this horrid Cardinals offense as massive home underdogs. They don’t have any change in motivations.

If David Johnson isn’t obliterating against the Falcons, we can basically just cross him off an move on until this team improves its offensive line and QB play. They are dead last in explosive rushing, which is one of the better ways to attack this Rams D. They are also the least successful team on early downs at a sad 37% rate. Third and long is no place to live against the Rams pass rushers, and I see sacks and punts in their future.

Hell no.

I thought about just stopping there, so here is a stat to convince you that would have been merited. The Cardinals allow almost 58% QB pressure (think about it) which is obviously highest in the NFL, while the Rams bring the 10th highest rate of QB pressure. The Cardinals will be trailing, under pressure, and in need of a lucky charm in order to produce well in DFS this week.

The Factor: Rams DST
The X-Factor: None

Chicago Bears vs. San Francisco 49ers

Chicago Bears Skewed Matchups of Note

Top 10 Total Plays Matchup
Top 10 RB Target % Matchup
Top 10 Points Per Drive Matchup
Top 10 20+ Yard Pass % Matchup
Bottom 10 Yards Per Drive Matchup
Bottom 10 TE Target Success Matchup
Bottom 10 TE Target % Matchup

The Bears are chasing a first round bye, and therefore should be unloading the full Monty on San Francisco. They are at the advantage here.

The 49ers have been stingy in run defense at times this season and rank 12th in rush DVOA. They allow a limited rushing success rate (22nd highest), but also tend to allow fantasy points to RBs. A deeper dive here reveals they have allowed 121 targets and 90 receptions to the RB position. None of us wanted to play Jordan Howard anyway, and that points us at Tarik Cohen if we want to target the 49ers with a RB this week. The position is absolutely loaded, and we can only consider that in GPPs and he’s not currently near the top of my list.

The 49ers have not been allowing teams to walk all over them in the pass game, and in fact allowed the 3rd lowest rate of success. The loss of Witherspoon hurts them, and perhaps the outside coverage opposite Richard Sherman will soften up to allow some production. The Bears spread the ball and it’s been a challenge identifying who can help you win a week from their team, but Mitchell Trubisky seems to be consistent thanks to his rushing floor (5 or more attempts in 8 games) and better than expected passing upside (4× 300 yard games). Pairing up Trubisky and Cohen is an ultra-low owned move that has some merit.

The Factor: Tarik Cohen
The X-Factor: Mitchell Trubisky

San Francisco 49ers Skewed Matchups of Note

Top 10 RB Bounce Rate Matchup
Top 10 Pass TD Ratio Matchup
Bottom 5 RB Fantasy Points Allowed Matchup
Bottom 5 QB Fantasy Points Allowed Matchup
Bottom 10 TD Per Drive Matchup
Bottom 10 Sack % Matchup
Bottom 10 Rush Success % Matchup
Bottom 10 Points Per Drive Matchup
Bottom 10 Early Down Success % Matchup
Bottom 10 DVOA Matchup
Bottom 10 Blown Pass Blocks Matchup
Bottom 10 Blown Blocks Matchup
Bottom 10 20+ Yard Pass % Matchup

The 49ers have been playing well enough that we can’t call them unmotivated. They are still fighting an uphill battle against the best overall defense in football.

Last Week, Matt Breida out-rushed Jeff Wilson 17 to 7. He’s clearly the lead dog but has to contend with #1 defense in rush DVOA and explosive rushing. The game total is low and they are implied for under 20 points. I can’t endorse using Breida even though I love his talent… the cost of that roster spot is too high in terms of theoretical raw points, and it’s not easy to imagine needing him. Defense kinda-sorta does matter at the extremes, and the Bears = the extremes.

The Bears pass defense is stout enough that they could make it hard for Mullens and company early on. Even if that is true, Dante Pettis is skilled enough and should see enough volume to be on your week 16 radar at low price tags. His target volume of 5 last week was his lowest since Week 10, and Pettis is behind only Kittle in the target pecking order on this team. The Bears are a middling 20th against TEs in terms of fantasy points allowed and Kittle is in a league of his own athletically. It’s low priority for me this week to use Kittle, but if you want to correlate a Bears player with somebody, Kittle should be more lightly owned than Pettis and has more upside.

The Factor: Dante Pettis
The X-Factor: George Kittle

Pittsburgh Steelers vs. New Orleans Saints

Pittsburgh Steelers Skewed Matchups of Note

Top 5 WR Fantasy Points Allowed Matchup
Top 5 QB Fantasy Points Allowed Matchup
Top 10 Yards Per Drive Matchup
Top 10 WR Target % Matchup
Top 10 TD Per Drive Matchup
Top 10 Pass% Matchup
Top 10 Pass Success % Matchup
Top 10 Gap Block Success Matchup
Bottom 5 TE Fantasy Points Allowed Matchup
Bottom 5 RB Fantasy Points Allowed Matchup
Bottom 10 RB Bounce Rate Matchup
Bottom 10 Explosive Rush Matchup

The Steelers are surprisingly healthy underdogs on the road despite their high motivations. They still have the edge in an elite offensive environment.

Jaylen Samuels is a near perfect fit for this matchup against a pass funnel Saints defense. The Saints allow just the 28th highest rush success rate and a paltry 26 explosive runs. A back who has versatility to participate in the passing game is far more valued against them, and that’s why Samuels is a rock-solid play on Yahoo! where his price tag is laughable. On Draftkings, they priced him up and he’s just a low priority GPP option.

It’s worth noting that the Saints allow more of their TD scoring through the air, as they rank 26th highest in rush TD rate at 28.57%. If you think the Steelers succeed here on offense, than members of the passing game will be heavily involved. Juju Smith-Schuster was added to the injury report as limited on Thursday, and there is some concern he might not be able to go. It would be a huge loss for the team and would require a rapid ascension from James Washington if they hope to succeed. Washington has the physical tools to win, and has shown glimmers of hope. If we add opportunity to that mix, he’s a very intriguing GPP play priced well below Smith-Schuster and it’s not impossible his volume escalates to Juju levels. It’s probably safer to assume something less than that, but given his size and the Saints pass TD funnel he’s got the upside we’d be looking for. Of course, Antonio Brown has to be boosted as well… and you don’t need me to remind you what he’s capable of for DFS. His price tag is prohibitive, but his upside is huge if you want to pivot from chalk construction methods.

The Factor: Jaylen Samuels
The X-Factor: James Washington

New Orleans Saints Skewed Matchups of Note

Top 10 Zone Block % Matchup
Top 10 Explosive Pass TD Matchup
Top 10 2 RB+ % Matchup
Bottom 10 RB Bounce Rate Matchup
Bottom 10 No Huddle % Outside 4 Min Matchup
Bottom 10 No Huddle % Matchup
Bottom 10 Gap Block % Matchup
Bottom 10 3WR + % Matchup

The Saints are highly motivated and ready to roll as decent home favorites. They have the edge.

It’s an Alvin Kamara game against a Steelers defense that allows just a 44% rush success rate and a very low ratio of rushing TDs allowed (27th best). Of course, they have also been very stingy to RB receivers allowing the second lowest rate of RB targets and very few RB targets inside the 10 yard line. Kamara is a different beast, capable of running short interior routes to find underneath zone mismatches against the Steelers linebacker corps. I fully expect him to be a big part of the New Orleans game plan, and falls just below Zeke, Barkley, and CMC in priority against this otherwise tough Steelers group.

Michael Thomas has seen 59.84% of his targets within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage, which is presumably good against a Steelers defense willing to surrender such short area targets in exchange for limiting the deep attack. They have faced a tough schedule of opposing pass offenses, and unfortunately will see another one in the Saints. The lid is a bit tighter these days with no Ted Ginn and Tre’Quan Smith yet to show up with too many huge blockbuster deep balls, but I still expect Thomas to have plenty of action in this game and be a high floor option. His ceiling is debatable, but I expect he is viable in GPPs as well despite high ownership expectations.

The Factor: Alvin Kamara
The X-Factor: Michael Thomas

About the Author

  • Chris Gimino (ChrisGimino)

  • Chris Gimino is a top mind in the DFS industry and one of the primary contributors at RotoGrinders including one of the most accurate ownership projection systems in the industry. A multiple time live-finalist, Chris delivers actionable tools and advice for RotoGrinders Premium subscribers that helps them make informed decisions for their lineup builds.

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