NFL daily fantasy expert Chris Raybon breaks down all of Sunday’s matchups, making his recommended cash game and GPP plays for each. He also reveals his FanDuel and DraftKings lineups at the end.
Vikings at Lions
D’Andre Swift’s shoulder injury opens the door for Jamaal Williams to lead the Lions backfield. Even with Swift active, Williams was averaging 12.6 touches per game. He’s one of the top cash game values on the board against a run funnel Vikings defense that ranks 10th against the pass but 29th against the run in DVOA.
The only Lion worth playing against Minnesota’s top-10 pass defense is Josh Reynolds, who has previous chemistry with Jared Goff and has run a route on 90% of the team’s dropbacks since being signed two weeks ago. The Vikings are 19th in DVOA vs. No. 1 WRs but 10th against TEs, so Reynolds is a decent bet to outproduce T.J. Hockenson, who caught just two of three passes for 22 yards in the first meeting between these two teams. Amon-Ra St. Brown (7/65/0) was productive in the first matchup, but is a capped-ceiling player who still has not found the end zone as an NFL pro. Kalif Raymond went catchless on two targets in 28 routes in the first matchup.
Dalvin Cook also has a shoulder injury, thrusting Alexander Mattison back into a featured role. In two starts this season, Mattison averaged 25.5 carries and 7.5 targets. He’s priced up to the point where you don’t need him in cash games, but he is a smash GPP play against a Lions defense that ranks 21st against the run and 30th on passes to RBs in DVOA. Mattison is stackable with the Vikings DST against a Lions offense that is 39th in the NFL in points per game (15.8). Minnesota is also the top cash game value at DraftKings.
On FanDuel, there is enough value at RB and TE to jam in Justin Jefferson, who is my projected WR3 this week. Jefferson should be the offensive focal point against a Lions pass defense that is ranked 28th overall and 24th versus No. 1 WRs in DVOA. He went 7/124/0 against Detriot the first time these teams met.
Adam Thielen is tied for fifth in the NFL with eight targets inside the opponent’s 10-yard line and is tied for the league lead with 10 TD catches. That keeps him in play in GPPs despite only catching two of three targets for 40 yards the first time these teams played this season. With Jefferson and Thielen both threats to go off, Kirk Cousins is in play in GPPs stacked with one or both of them. Cousins projects as a top-10 QB this week.
Tyler Conklin and K.J. Osborn combined for five catches for 39 yards on seven targets in the first meeting. Neither is viable in a game where Minnesota shouldn’t have trouble getting the ball to its top options.
- Cash Plays: RB Jamaal Williams, WR Justin Jefferson, DST Minnesota Vikings
- GPP Plays: QB Kirk Cousins, WR Adam Thielen, WR Josh Reynolds
This is an under play for me. Both teams are without their best offensive player, as Dalvin Cook and D’Andre Swift are both out with shoulder injuries. The Lions are ranked 32nd in situation-neutral pace, per Football Outsiders, and will try to shorten the game, which has led to an 8-3 (73%) under record. Both of these teams struggle on early downs, with Minnesota ranking 22nd in early-down success rate (46%) and Detroit ranking 27th (45%), according to Sharp Football Stats. And remember, these teams played a 19-17 game in the first meeting that probably should have ended 16-6 if not for some late clock mismanagement from the Vikings.
Late-season divisional unders in the early window have been a smash spot for under bettors:
This includes a 66-49-2 (57%) hit rate even when playing indoors.
Pick: Under 46.5 (to 46)
Cardinals at Bears
Chase Edmonds (IR) is still at least a week away from returning, which keeps James Conner in play in cash games. Conner faces a Bears defense that is ranked 19th in DVOA against the run.
If DeAndre Hopkins (questionable – hamstring) makes his return this week, he is a must-play regardless of whether Kyler Murray (questionable – ankle) also returns. Hopkins’ salary is at a multi-year low and he faces a Bears defense that is ranked 30th in DVOA vs. No. 1 WRs.
The Bears play the seventh-most man coverage in the league, which makes Christian Kirk the best play among non-Hopkins Cardinals pass catchers. Kirk leads Arizona in targets (15), catches (12), yards (159) and yards per route run (2.74) vs. man coverage. Zach Ertz (1.26 Y/RR), Rondale Moore (0.69) and A.J. Green (0.37) have struggled to produce yardage on a per-route basis when singled up. Chicago’s man-heavy scheme would in effect dare Murray to run, but I can’t see the team playing him if he wasn’t able to scramble without risking further injury, so he is in play in GPPs if he suits up.
Against a Bears offense that ranks 29th in points per game and will be starting Andy Dalton for the second straight week, the Cardinals DST is one of the top DST plays on the board and a superior option to anyone in the Bears passing game except Darnell Mooney. The second-year pro should be a target hog with Allen Robinson (hamstring) expected to miss and Marquise Goodwin (foot) already ruled out. This is not a spot to target Cole Kmet, as the Cardinals are ranked second in DVOA against TEs and allow the third-fewest schedule-adjusted receiving yards per game to the position (35.2).
The only hope for the Bears offense is to get a big game from David Montgomery, who hasn’t seen his snap count dip below 84% in a game since returning from injury three games ago. An RB1 play in season-long fantasy, Montgomery is too cheap at $5,600 on DraftKings and $6,500 on FanDuel. He faces a Cardinals DST that rates as elite in DVOA against the pass (third) but middling against the run (15th).
- Cash Plays: RB James Conner
- GPP Plays: QB Kyler Murray (if active), RB David Montgomery, WR Christian Kirk, DST Arizona Cardinals
The Cardinals are 8-3 against the spread (ATS) while the Bears are 4-7, but there’s no telling how Kyler Murray could look in potentially his first game back, as we’ve seen a lot of marquee QBs struggle in their first game back after a long layoff. This could be a sloppy game on the road for Arizona, especially with Murray being a game-time decision.
Buccaneers at Falcons
With Josh Allen playing on Monday Night Football, Tom Brady is the overall QB1 on the main slate in terms of per-game fantasy scoring. He is also my overall QB1 this week with Allen in tough matchup. Leading the league in attempts (457), completions (300) and passing TDs (30), Brady is set up to shred a Falcons defense that ranks 29th in pass defense DVOA.
My unscientific TD projection for Mike Evans this week is 2.5. That’s based on him being held below 48 yards receiving for just the third time all season. The first time came in Week 1 (3/24/0), which he followed up with a 5/75/2 stat line in Week 2. The second time came in Week 6, which he followed up with 6/76/3 in Week 7. On second thought, maybe I should be projecting him for 7/77/4. Evans faces a Falcons defense that is ranked 25th in DVOA vs. WR1s and 30th vs. WR2s.
Chris Godwin also has a plus matchup vs. Falcons slot cornerback Richie Grant, who has allowed a 141.8 passer rating on 92 coverage snaps this season. Nothing about Rob Gronkowski’s matchup stands out, as the Falcons are 15th in DVOA vs. TEs, but he ran a route on a season-high 83% of Brady’s dropbacks last week. I’m projecting Gronk to run a route on only two-thirds of Brady’s dropbacks this week, and he’s still my projected TE2. The player to avoid here is Tyler Johnson, who could see the most of standout Falcons cornerback A.J. Terrell. Johnson could also see his playing time get cut into as Scotty Miller gets healthier and Breshad Perriman gets re-acclimated into the offense.
Leonard Fournette is a top-10 RB play this week after demolishing the Colts for four TDs last week. However, he’s a fade from a game theory perspective, as his price and rostership percentage are likely to be at their respective peaks this week.
Although the Bucs pose a tough matchup for opposing running games, ranking sixth in DVOA, this isn’t a spot to shy away from Cordarelle Patterson. The Bucs play zone at the fifth-highest rate, and Patterson’s 3.42 yards per route against zone coverage ranks second among 136 players with at least 19 total targets.
Russell Gage is a fade here. He’s averaging just 1.03 yards per route against zone compared to 2.35 versus man. Kyle Pitts has been better against man (2.85 yards per route) than zone (1.68) and is not worth spending up at TE for in this spot. Tajae Sharpe is operating as the No. 2 WR but has struggled to find open spots in zone coverage, averaging just 0.94 yards per route. Olamide Zaccheus has fared slightly better (1.31) but is only playing roughly two-thirds of the snaps. Matt Ryan is averaging just 215.2 yards, 1.0 TDs and 1.2 interceptions per game without Calvin Ridley. He’s been unplayable without his top WR. Tampa Bay’s defense is up to sixth in overall DVOA. This is a spot to fade Ryan and target the Bucs DST.
- Cash Plays: QB Tom Brady
- GPP Plays: RB Cordarrelle Patterson, WR Mike Evans, WR Chris Godwin, TE Rob Gronkowski, DST Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Bucs should roll here, but you still don’t want to lay double-digits on the road in the division.
Colts at Texans
As a double-digit road favorite against a run-funnel Texas defense that (somehow) ranks sixth in DVOA against the pass but 25th against the run, this game sets up to be a record-shattering version of the Jonathan Taylor show. Taylor has hit the century mark in six of his last nine games and is the No. 1 play on the board. There’s enough value at RB that you don’t need to unbalance your lineup by playing him in cash, but he’s likely to be a GPP winner if paired with the right players.
Despite garnering mostly positive reviews in his first year in Indy, Carson Wentz has led the Colts pass offense to the 31st-ranked early-down success rate (46%, per Sharp Football Stats). The Colts pass offense is a fade except for T.Y. Hilton and Michael Pittman Jr. Hilton owns the Texans: He had his best game of the year (4/80/0) against Houston in the first meeting in Week 6 and is averaging a 5.4/94.6/0.6 line against them for his career. After posting just two catches for 35 yards in the first meeting, Pittman is in play purely for leverage purposes on Taylor, as he’s still the Colts’ likely leader in targets. Zach Pascal has cracked 50 yards only once this season. Jack Doyle posted a 6/81/1 line last week, but prior to that hadn’t topped three catches or 31 yards since Week 2.
The Colts pass defense is ranked 20th in overall DVOA and 28th vs. WR1s, so this is a spot to stack Tyrod Taylor and Brandin Cooks, particularly in “bring-it-back” lineups with Jonathan Taylor. Tyrod Taylor has multiple passing plus rushing scores in four of his five starts this season. Cooks is averaging a 5.6/64.0/0.27 line on 8.4 targets per game this season.
Rookie Brevin Jordan has earned enough of a role at TE that the franchise is now making former starter Jordan Akins inactive. Jordan is a contrarian GPP option against a Colts defense that is ranked 27th in DVOA against TEs and allows the most schedule-adjusted targets per game (9.6) to the position.
I’m expecting a Nico Collins breakout at some point. He is headed in the right direction after running a route on a season-high 78% of dropbacks last week. However, the Colts are fourth in DVOA vs. WR2s, so his breakout may have to wait at least one more week. Jordan is the better play among Texans rookie pass catchers. Chris Conley and Chris Moore will split the rest of the WR snaps but aren’t realistic options based on their production to date.
David Johnson (questionable – illness/thigh) missed practice all week. If he is ruled out, Rex Burkhead is a dart throw option even in a tough matchup against a Colts defense that ranks third in DVOA against the run (though it did just get smashed for 137 yards and four TDs by Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones last week). Burkhead is averaging 16.5 touches per game over the past two weeks.
- Cash Plays: None
- GPP Plays: QB Tyrod Taylor, RB Jonathan Taylor, RB Rex Burkhead (if Johnson sits), WR Brandin Cooks, WR Michael Pittman Jr., WR T.Y. Hilton, TE Brevin Jordan
The Texans are dealing with a non-COVID illness going around the locker room so we might get an ugly game from them, but you still don’t want to lay 10 on the road in the division.
Eagles at Jets
The ankle injury Jalen Hurts is dealing with casts doubt over just how effective the Eagles offense can be even against the Jets joke of a defense. A hobbled Hurts led the Eagles to only even points in a loss to the Giants last week.
This is a spot to target Miles Sanders, who will likely see the majority of the backfield work against a Jets run defense that ranks 31st in DVOA after Boston Scott (questionable-illness) missed practice all week.
With either a banged-up Hurts or backup Gardner Minshew starting, it’s unlikely that the Eagles will have enough volume through the air for more than one pass catcher to go off. The top candidates are DeVonta Smith and Dallas Goedert. Smith has topped 60 yards in more than half of his games and faces a Jets secondary that ranks 20th in DVOA vs. WR1s. Goedert has played upwards of 90% of the snaps more often than not since Zach Ertz was traded, clearing 60 yards in half of those games. He faces a Jets defense that enters Week 13 rated dead last in DVOA against TEs. Quez Watkins and Jalen Reagor have each cleared 50 yards only once all season.
The Jets will start rookie No. 2 overall pick Zach Wilson for the eighth time on Sunday, which means it’s time to fire up the Eagles DST. In seven pro starts, Wilson has thrown 10 interceptions and taken 23 sacks.
The only one of his pass catchers worth playing is Elijah Moore, who should be able to avoid Darius Slay, as Moore most often lines up against right cornerbacks while Slay has been exclusively a stationary left corner for each of the past three weeks and lined up there on 78% of his snaps on the season. Moore’s downtick in production with Wilson compared to other Jets QBs is concerning, but he’s too talented for the trend to hold up over a large sample. Moore has seen six or more targets in eight of 10 games and has scored four TDs over the past four weeks.
Corey Davis will likely see the most of Slay if he suits up. Some combination of Jeff Smith, Denzel Mims and Braxton Berrios will fill in for Keelan Cole (COVID-19). Ryan Griffin will start at TE but hasn’t cracked 40 yards in a game. Tevin Coleman led the Jets backfield last week with 18 touches but played only 45% of the snaps. Coleman lucked out because the Jets were never out of it against the Texans, but his production would take a huge hit in negative game script, with Ty Johnson seeing the field in passing situations. The Jets backfield is a fade against an Eagles defense that ranks 16th in DVOA against the run and seventh in passes to RBs.
- Cash Plays: None
- GPP Plays: RB Miles Sanders, WR DeVonta Smith, WR Elijah Moore, TE Dallas Goedert, DST Philadelphia Eagles
I’m banging the under here. You have a newly run-heavy Eagles team whose defense has held three of its past five opponents to 13 points or fewer and could be without Jalen Hurts on one side, and a Jets team that is averaging 14.4 points in Zach Wilson’s starts on the other.
The Eagles are also on their second straight road game, which has historically been a profitable spot to play the under.
Pick: Under 45.5 (to 43)
Chargers at Bengals
Keenan Allen has seen double-digit targets in eight of 11 games and fewer than eight only once. He has posted at least 10 DraftKings points in every game and at least 10 FanDuel points in all but two games. He’s a locked-in cash game play against a middling Bengals pass defense that ranks 19th in DVOA.
Mike Williams has been a boom-or-bust play who is perfectly suited to tournaments. He’s had five games with 80-plus yards and a TD and five with under 40 yards and no scores. The Bengals are ranked 18th in DVOA vs. No. 2 WRs, so Williams has a slightly above-average matchup.
Jalen Guyton and Josh Palmer split snaps 60-40 as the team’s WR3 last week, rendering both useless. Jared Cook is a sneaky play here, as the Bengals are ranked 26th in DVOA vs. TEs.
Overall, this is a good matchup for Justin Herbert, as Cincinnati sets up as somewhat of a pass funnel, ranking ninth in DVOA against the run but 19th vs. the pass. With that said, Austin Ekeler is still a top-three fantasy play at RB this week. Ekeler is averaging 16.9 touches for 97.9 yards and 0.64 TDs per game.
Whereas the Bengals defense sets up as a pass funnel, the Chargers set up as a run funnel, ranking 11th in DVOA against the pass but 32nd vs. the run. This is a smash spot for Joe Mixon, who is averaging 21.3 touches, 101.5 yards and 1.18 TDs per game.
As this game is one of the highest totaled of the week and could turn into a shootout, Joe Burrow is still playable here. Burrow is due for a bounce-back spot for a TD luck standpoint after starting the year with eight straight games with multiple TD passes before failing to throw for multiple scores in his last three games.
The receivers to stack Burrow with are Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins and C.J. Uzomah. After beginning the year as a zone-heavy outfit, the Chargers are now playing the eighth-most man coverage in the league. Chase (3.93), Uzomah (2.25) and Higgins (2.14) each average north of 2 yards per route vs. man coverage, which is excellent. Tyler Boyd lags well behind at 1.20.
- Cash Plays: WR Keenan Allen
- GPP Plays: QB Justin Herbert, QB Joe Burrow, RB Austin Ekeler, WR Ja’Marr Chase, WR Tee Higgins, WR Mike Williams, TE CJ. Uzomah, TE Jared Cook
This is a good buy-low spot for the Chargers, who are desperate for a win after dropping three of five since the bye. The Bengals have played the NFL’s easiest schedule by point differential (-4.0 points below-average) and sixth-easiest by DVOA, while the Chargers have faced tied for the fourth-most difficult schedule by point differential (1.3) and the most difficult, according to DVOA. As a result, it’s the Chargers that rate as the slightly better team by overall DVOA, ranking 16th while the Bengals clock in at 18th. The Chargers won’t magically become a better defense, but Justin Herbert is one of the few QBs capable of winning a shootout with Joe Burrow.
It’s also worth noting that lines tend to be inflated for East Coast teams hosting teams making the cross-country trip from the West Coast.
Pick: Chargers +3 (to +3)
Giants at Dolphins
Miami runs man coverage at the second-highest rate. Darius Slayton leads all starting Giants pass catchers with 2.23 yards per route run vs. man coverage this season. Considering salary and projected rostership, Slayton is a better play than Kenny Golladay, who is averaging 1.53 yards per route against man.
The Dolphins are 25th in DVOA vs. TEs, so this is a good matchup for Evan Engram, kind of. Engram is averaging just 0.68 yards per route vs. man this season but averaged 1.90 vs. man last season. The hope is that newly promoted offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens can alter Engram’s route tree and allow him to take advantage of being singled up.
Saquon Barkley has (predictably) been a disappointment this season, but he’s still got 100-plus yards and at least one TD in two of seven, or 29%, of his games. The Dolphins represent a fairly tough matchup, ranking 12th in DVOA against the run and 10th on passes to RBs, but one of Barkley’s big games came against the top-ranked Saints run defense, so this isn’t a spot to fade Barkley, especially with Kitchens’ first full week to prepare after taking over on a short week last week.
The Dolphins are favorites in the lowest totaled game of the week, so this is a spot to fire them up in cash games on FanDuel at $4,000. In GPPs, pairing the Dolphins DST with Myles Gaskin is a high-upside move. While it looked like Gaskin may be losing his stranglehold on the backfield with the addition of Phillip Lindsay last week, Lindsay is doubtful to play with an ankle injury, which should entrench Gaskin in a featured role against a Giants defense that ranks 31st in DVOA against the run. Gaskin is averaging 19.8 touches over his last six games and has found the end zone seven times over his past eight games.
Tua Tagovailoa has played well lately, but the Giants defense is well-schemed under Patrick Graham. The Giants are ranked 11th in DVOA against the pass and have only allowed one QB — Tom Brady — to throw multiple scores against them since Week 7. The Giants play zone coverage at a top-10 rate, so this is a spot to buy low on Mike Gesicki and sell high on Jaylen Waddle. Whereas Gesicki is averaging more yards per route run against zone (1.75) than man (1.08), Waddle is averaging more against man (1.96) than zone (1.63). The return of DeVante Parker could also eat into Waddle’s target share.
- Cash Plays: DST Miami Dolphins
- GPP Plays: RB Saquon Barkley, RB Myles Gaskin, WR Darius Slayton, TE Mike Gesicki, TE Evan Engram
This line opened at Giants +3 and has been bet all the way up to +6.5 with the news that Mike Glennon will start for Daniel Jones. In what world is Daniel Jones worth 3.5 points over replacement-level?! Jones is 26th in passer rating (84.8) and QBR (41.0) this season. He’s 12-25 as a starter in his career and has thrown 21 TDs in his past 25 starts. The career passer ratings of Jones (84.3) and Glennon (83.0) are nearly identical. The Giants have beat the Saints, Panthers, Raiders and Eagles as underdogs while losing to Washington by one and Atlanta by three. Their last four losses are against top-shelf teams: the Cowboys, Rams, Chiefs and Bucs. Even against a surging Dolphins team, this is too many points — especially in a game with a low total (39.5) that should be a rock fight between two well-schemed defenses.
Under second-year head coach Joe Judge, the Giants are 6-8 (43%) ATS at home but 9-4 (69%) ATS on the road.
Pick: Giants +6.5 (to +4)
Football Team at Raiders
J.D. McKissic (concussion) is out, which means we could finally see Antonio Gibson unleashed in a true featured role. Gibson had 29 touches and seven targets last week and has 30-touch upside yet again. Gibson is yet to run a route on more than 50% of the team’s dropbacks this season, which is almost certain to change with McKissic, who ran a route on 51% of dropbacks, out of the picture. Gibson faces a Raiders defense that is ranked 17th in DVOA against the run and 25th on passes to RBs. Because pricing came out prior to the conclusion of Monday Night Football, Gibson is severely underpriced. He is a must-play in cash games.
Raiders defensive coordinator Gus Bradley is one of the league’s foremost proponents of Cover 3, which has led to the Raiders playing zone coverage at the highest rate in the league. This could be a blowup spot for Terry McLaurin, whose 2.24 yards per route vs. zone ranks in the 86th percentile among 97 qualified WRs. The Raiders have given up a number of productive games to opposing No. 1 WRs: Michael Gallup 5/106/0 (Week 12), Ja’Marr Chase 3/32/1 (Week 11), Tyreek Hill 7/83/2 (Week 10), Courtland Sutton 8/94/1 (Week 6), Diontae Johnson 9/105/0 (Week 2) and Marquise Brown 6/69/1 (Week 1). They’ve also allowed high-floor games to DeVonta Smith (5/61/0 in Week 7), Keenan Allen (7/36/0 in Week 4) and Jaylen Waddle (12/58/0 in Week 3).
Taylor Heinicke-McLaurin stacks are in play this week. Logan Thomas is also in play, as the Raiders are 29th in DVOA against TEs. Thomas was eased in with a 79% snap rate in his first game back from injury last week, but played 100% of the snaps in each of his three fully healthy games. DeAndre Carter, Curtis Samuel, Adam Humphries, Dyami Brown and Cam Sims will continue to split work at the other WR spots and aren’t viable options.
The Washington defense sets up as a pass funnel, ranking seventh in DVOA on the ground but 30th through the air, so this is a spot to fade Josh Jacobs and target Derek Carr and company. Foster Moreau posted six catches for 60 yards and a TD in his lone start for Darren Waller (out – knee) and is the top cash game value at TE. Washington plays zone coverage at the eighth-highest rate, so this is also a good spot for Hunter Renfrow, who leads all Raiders WRs and TEs with 2.43 yards per route run vs. zone coverage. Bryan Edwards has caught only eight passes vs. zone coverage all season and is a fade. DeSean Jackson is worth a dart throw after posting a 100-yard game on Thanksgiving. In 10 active games, Jackson has posted a 100-yard game twice, or 20% of the time, which is a fair expectation going forward.
- Cash Plays: RB Antonio Gibson
- GPP Plays: QB Derek Carr, QB Taylor Heinicke, WR Terry McLaurin, WR Hunter Renfrow, WR DeSean Jackson, TE Logan Thomas
This is a toss-up game where the line is spot-on.
Ravens at Steelers
The Ravens play zone at the fourth-highest rate, so this is a spot to target Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool. Both rank top 20 in yards per route run vs. man coverage among 98 qualified WRs. Johnson has drawn double-digit targets in eight of 10 games and has to be locked into cash lineups. Pat Freiermuth is also in play after clearing the concussion protocol. Freiermuth is third on the team in yards per route run vs. man (1.30) and faces a Ravens defense that ranks slightly below average in DVOA against TEs, at 17th. The Steelers have been more efficient on a yards per attempt basis vs. man coverage than zone this season, so I don’t mind Ben Roethlisberger as a dart throw this week. He has attempted at least 40 passes in more than half of his games and could end up in a shootout with a pass-funneling Ravens defense that is ranked fifth in DVOA against the run but 24th vs. the pass.
At $8,000 on FanDuel and $7,700 on DraftKings, Najee Harris is a poor value this week. Harris’ monster workload seems to be finally catching up to him, as his snap rates have gone from 87% to 75% to 58% over the past three weeks, while his touch count has gone from 30 to 17 to 11 over that span.
Lamar Jackson is in a funk but still ranks as a top-five QB play on this slate against a Steelers defense that has dipped to 26th in DVOA against the pass (and 24th against the run). Rashod Bateman’s snaps dipped to 44% last week with both Marquise Brown and Sammy Watkins healthy, which renders Brown and Mark Andrews as the only realistic stacking options with Jackson. Andrews has the better matchup, as the Steelers rank 19th in DVOA against TEs but 10th vs. WR1s.
Last week on Sunday Night Football, Devonta Freeman played 49% of the snaps while Latavius Murray played 44% and Ty’Son Williams mixed in for 2%. This is a backfield to avoid unless/until Freeman or Murray separates themselves.
- Cash Plays: WR Diontae Johnson
- GPP Plays: QB Lamar Jackson, QB Ben Roethlisberger, WR Marquise Brown, WR Chase Claypool, TE Mark Andrews, TE Pat Freiermuth
Since John Harbaugh became the head coach of the Ravens in 2008, only nine of the 26 matchups between these two teams, or 35%, have been decided by more than four points. Lamar Jackson has struggled in his past five starts, throwing seven TDs to nine interceptions while failing to pass for more than 266 yards in any game. He also hasn’t rushed for a TD since Week 2. Going into a hostile Pittsburgh environment with T.J. Watt potentially activated off the COVID list is not exactly a get-right spot.
Meanwhile on the other side of the ball, the Steelers match up well with the Ravens. Baltimore is better at stopping the run (fifth in DVOA) than the pass (24th), but Pittsburgh’s offensive success isn’t predicated on the run given their line’s struggles to move people off the ball. The Ravens also play man coverage at the fourth-highest rate, and the Steelers have been more efficient vs. man coverage than zone this season.
And despite Mike Tomlin letting us down last week, he’s still 44-36 (56%) ATS off a loss, 38-16-2 (70%) ATS as a dog from Week-on, and 29-8-1 (78%) as a dog vs. an opponent with an equal or better winning percentage.
Pick: Steelers +4.5 (to +4)
Jaguars at Rams
This has all of the makings of a get-right game for Matthew Stafford. The Jaguars defense has been solid against the run, ranking 14th in DVOA, but is dead last vs. the pass. Running back Darrell Henderson is also dealing with a quad issue and could split work with Sony Michel. In their first game out of the bye, Cooper Kupp (100%), Tyler Higbee (100%), Van Jefferson (98%) and Odell Beckham Jr. (98%) each played 98% or more of the snaps. All are top-tier GPP options stacked with Stafford.
The Jaguars passing game is a fade this week, as the Rams pose a tough matchup for Trevor Lawrence, ranking 12th in pass defense DVOA and allowing the fifth-fewest passing TDs per game (1.27). The Rams run a zone-heavy scheme, which in theory should benefit Laviska Shenault Jr., who leads all Jaguars WRs with 1.91 yards per route run vs. zone, besting Laquon Treadwell (1.37) and Marvin Jones Jr. (1.17). However, Shenault has topped 58 yards in a game once all season and is yet to find the end zone. New starting TE James O’Shaughnessy has done well against zone this season in a small sample (1.98 Y/RR), but struggled last season (1.41) and faces a Rams defense that is ranked eighth in DVOA vs. TEs. James Robinson (questionable – heel) is a fade as well, as the Rams have allowed just 3.2 yards per carry to RBs with one rushing TD since Week 8. This is a spot to target the Rams DST as a pay-up-for-differentiation play.
- Cash Plays: None
- GPP Plays: QB Matthew Stafford, WR Cooper Kupp, WR Van Jefferson, WR Odell Beckham Jr., TE Tyler Higbee, DST Los Angeles Rams
There’s a chance this could be a sloppy spot for the Rams, as west coast teams returning hoem from a multi-game road trip are just 57-88-5 (39%) ATS. Still, urban Meyer’s team is sloppy every week.
49ers at Seahawks
In six career games without Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk is averaging 8.5 targets, 5.3 catches, 57.5 yards and 0.5 TDs compared to 6.2/3.8/52.2/0.3 in 16 games with Samuel. Aiyuk is cash-viable on DraftKings at $5,600. George Kittle should also tee off on a Seahawks defense that runs zone at the third-highest rate in the NFL. Kittle is second among 39 qualified TEs with 2.41 yards per route run vs. zone coverage this season. With two pass catchers in plus matchups and facing a Seahawks defense that is ranked 27th in DVOA through the air, Jimmy Garoppolo is a sneaky play. Elijah Mitchell is in play for leverage purposes off Aiyuk. Mitchell has a tough matchup against a Seahawks defense that ranks 11th in DVOA on the ground, but Mitchell has been fed 27 carries in back-to-back games and is averaging 17.9 for the season. Jauan Jennings will start for Samuel, with Trent Sherfield and Travis Benjamin mixing in, but none are realistic options.
Russell Wilson is set up with a pass-funneling matchup, as the 49ers are ranked second in DVOA against the run but 22nd against the pass. Wilson continues to look like a different QB than the one he’s been his entire career, but that should keep his rostership low in a plus matchup. Both D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett have huge upside, but Metcalf has the better matchup, as he’ll likely face off the most against Josh Norman, who is ranked 103 of 111 qualified cornerbacks in PFF’s grades. If Wilson faded Freddie Swain as much as DFS players did, the Seahawks would likely have a better passing offense. Swain has cracked 40 yards once all season. Although the coaching staff has made a concerted effort to get Gerald Everett the ball more, he’s a fade in this spot, as the 49ers have allowed just two catches for 25 yards to the position over the past two weeks with safety Jaquiski Tartt back in the lineup.
To Pete Carroll’s chagrin, the Seahawks are 25th in the NFL with 92.5 yards per game rushing. Against a top-two run defense, the entire backfield is a fade. Adrian Peterson has been added to this mess, so don’t be surprised if Alex Collins or Rashaad Penny is a healthy scratch (Travis Homer and DeeJay Dallas have roles on special teams).
- Cash Plays: WR Brandon Aiyuk
- GPP Plays: QB Russell Wilson, QB Jimmy Garoppolo, RB Elijah Mitchell, WR D.K. Metcalf, WR Tyler Lockett, TE George Kittle
Seattle has not been kind to bettors (read: me) lately, dropping 6-of-7 against the spread and three straight since Russell Wilson returned from a finger injury. Still, Seattle is one of the top plays on the board this week as a home underdog against the 49ers, for a number of reasons.
First and foremost, the 49ers are dealing with injuries to some absolutely key players. They will be without wide receiver Deebo Samuel (groin), who leads the team with 1,209 yards from scrimmage and 10 TDs this season. They also won’t have linebacker Fred Warner, who leads the team with 92 tackles and ranks 14th at PFF among 83 qualifiers at his position.
And despite a 1-2 ATS record as an underdog and a 1-3 ATS record off a loss this season, Russell Wilson is still 24-12-2 (67%) ATS as a dog and 27-16-4 (64%) ATS off a loss in his career. Kyle Shanahan, meanwhile, has led his team to just a 10-19-1 (34%) ATS record as a favorite on normal rest, including a 28-21 loss as a home favorite to the Seahawks earlier this season.
Historically, it has been profitable to fade teams coming off three-game streaks of scoring 30-plus points like the 49ers have.
Pick: Seahawks +3 (to +3)
DFS Cash Lineups
- QB Tom Brady $7,200 at ATL
- RB James Conner $5,900 at CHI
- RB Jamaal Williams $5,400 vs. MIN
- WR Keenan Allen $7,500 at CIN
- WR Diontae Johnson $6,800 vs. PIT
- WR Brandon Aiyuk $5,600 at SEA
- TE Foster Moreau $2,700 vs. WAS
- FLEX Antonio Gibson $5,700 at LV
- DST Minnesota Vikings $3,200 at DET
- QB Tom Brady $8,100 at ATL
- RB James Conner $7,300 at CHI
- RB Jamaal Williams $6,500 vs. MIN
- WR Justin Jefferson $8,000 at DET
- WR Keenan Allen $7,300 at CIN
- WR Diontae Johnson $7,200 vs. PIT
- TE Foster Moreau $5,000 vs. WAS
- FLEX Antonio Gibson $6,200 at LV
- DST Miami Dolphins $4,000 vs. NYG