NFL daily fantasy expert Chris Raybon breaks down all of Sunday’s afternoon matchups, making his recommended cash game and GPP plays for each. He also reveals his FanDuel and DraftKings lineups at the end.
Packers at Lions
Amon-Ra St. Brown has caught eight or more passes in five straight games. It’s also worth noting he is 197 yards short of 1,000. He is a locked-in cash game play to close out the season.
The Packers play zone coverage at a top-10 clip under coordinator Joe Barry, so Josh Reynolds is a sneaky play here if his fellow former Ram Jared Goff starts. Reynolds (1.95) is averaging more yards per route run (YPPR) versus zone than St. Brown (1.63) and is a sneaky pivot play who would offer high leverage at a cheaper price tag and lower rostership. If Tim Boyle starts, Reynolds would lose his appeal, as Boyle is 2-for-10 for 36 yards and an interception when targeting Reynolds this season (Goff is 16-of-23 for 259 yards with two touchdowns).
Unlike most RBs, D’Andre Swift has struggled against zone (1.03) while shredding man coverage (2.77). This indicates receiving skills necessary to beat defenders in single coverage, but perhaps isn’t good for his receiving upside in this game. And though Swift faces a Packers defense that’s ranked 28th in DVOA against the run and could sit starters at some point, he expects the coaching staff to deploy him similarly to how he was used last week, when he played only 57% of the snaps and saw six total touches. Even if Swift touches the ball more than Jamaal Williams and Craig Reynolds, the committee caps his upside.
The Packers’ receiving corps is tough to handicap with starters Davante Adams, Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Allen Lazard potentially playing limited snaps. All three will likely start, meaning Equanimous St. Brown, Juwann Winfree and Amari Rodgers won’t be seeing a full complement of snaps, and they will likely not get any time with Aaron Rodgers. Especially since the latter three are projected to combine for more than 25% rostership, the Packers’ entire WR corps is any easy fade.
The same is true for the TE unit, as there’s no telling how snaps will be split between Josiah Deguara, Marcedes Lewis, Dominique Dafney and Tyler Davis.
The Lions are 31st in DVOA versus the run, so Patrick Taylor Jr. could be intriguing here if we get word that Aaron Jones (questionable-knee) and A.J. Dillon will rest. It’s quite possible Jones sits after being limited in practice all week. If Dillon plays but Jones sits, Taylor is still worth a dart throw, as he could still see 75% of the snaps at minimum price assuming Dillon plays only a quarter.
- Cash Plays: WR Amon-Ra St. Brown
- GPP Plays: RB Patrick Taylor Jr. (if Jones and/or Dillon sits), WR Josh Reynolds (if Goff starts)
There are slightly more bets on the Packers and the over, but more than 80% of the money has come in on the Lions and the under.
I’m staying away from his game, though, as there’s simply too much uncertainty regarding how long the Packers starters will play.
Bears at Vikings
The Vikings are a bottom-eight run defense by DVOA, setting up David Montgomery well. Montgomery is averaging 23.3 touches for 94.3 yards and 0.67 TDs over his past six games. Montgomery is a top-five RB on this slate and is cash-viable.
Due to fielding a talented linebacking and safety corps but shaky corners, the Vikings rank top-12 in DVOA against RBs and TEs, but bottom-20 versus WR1s, WR2s and non-WR1/2s. This is a spot to target Darnell Mooney, who is 71 yards short of 1,000.
Eric Kendricks is expected to be activated off the COVID list and play Sunday, keeping the Vikings linebacking corps intact and making the matchup tough for Cole Kmet. Expected to be among the most highly-rostered TEs on the slate, Kmet is an easy fade.
Allen Robinson could theoretically do some stat padding to salvage what has been a lost season, but he has topped 60 yards twice all season while scoring once. Roster him at your own risk. Marquise Goodwin and Damiere Byrd will continue to split WR3 duties and are off the radar.
At $3,700, the Vikings are the cheapest home favorite DST on FanDuel, making them the top cash play on the site. Andy Dalton, who will make another start in place of Justin Fields (Reserve-COVID-19), has thrown five picks and taken five sacks in his past two starts.
The Bears play man coverage at the fifth-highest rate, which sets up well for Justin Jefferson, who ranks sixth among 103 qualified WRs with 3.35 YPRR versus man (min. 24 targets). No other Vikings WR or TE averages more than 1.01 YPRR in single coverage, so this should be the Jefferson show to close out the season, and likely Mike Zimmer’s tenure. Unfortunately, Jefferson projects to be the most highly-rostered WR in GPPs, so there’s no use for him this week since it’s easy enough to get up to Cooper Kupp in cash games.
Tyler Conklin averages a full yard per route run less against man than zone, and K.J. Osborn is averaging nearly a half-yard less when singled up; neither profiles as a viable leverage play on Jefferson in this spot. It’s also worth noting that Kirk Cousins went 12-of-24 for 87 yards when these teams met in Week 15, so the Bears DST is worth firing up as a contrarian play.
Similarly to Jefferson, Cook has a strong matchup – the Bears rank 23rd in DVOA versus the run and will be without defensive tackle Akiem Hicks – but is expected to appear in over 20% of entries, setting him up as a fade.
- Cash Plays: RB David Montgomery,DST Minnesota Vikings
- GPP Plays: RB David Montgomery, DST Minnesota Vikings
Darnell Mooney needs 71 yards to record his first ever 1,000-yard season. Mooney has finished over his 54.5-yard prop in each of the past three games and five of the past seven, and I fully expect Andy Dalton to get Mooney to 1K with the Bears having nothing else to play for.
Pick: Darnell Mooney Over 54.5 Rec Yards (to 70.5)
Steelers at Ravens
The Ravens play the fourth-most man. Diontae Johnson (2.55) and Chase Claypool (2.20) are the only Steelers to average more than 1.24 YPRR versus man coverage this season. Both are excellent GPP plays at what is expected to be a single-digit rostership rate.
Baltimore’s secondary is extremely banged up, with Anthony Averett (out-ribs) joining Marlon Humphrey (IR-pectoral) and Marcus Peters (IR-ACL) on the shelf. The Ravens are allowing the third-most schedule-adjusted receiving yards per game to opposing TEs (65.7), which sets up well for Pat Freiermuth, who is expected to be in no more than 5% of entries.
All of those receivers likely won’t go off together, so I still won’t be rostering Ben Roethlisberger. Big Ben posted a solid but fantasy-irrelevant effort the first time these teams met with 236 yards, two TDs and no interceptions.
Najee Harris would have been priced up if the Steelers had played before this week’s salaries came out, but he still makes sense to fade this week in a tough matchup at a high projected rostership percentage. The Ravens are ranked sixth in DVOA against the run and held him to 107 scoreless yards despite him getting 26 touches in the first clash between these two rivals.
The Steelers are top-eight versus both WR1s and WR2s but 17th against TEs, their weakest position. This sets up as a potential struggle for Marquise Brown and Rashod Bateman but a smash spot for Mark Andrews, who is 141 yards away from the single-season yardage mark for TEs. In four games since Lamar Jackson (out-ankle) went down, Andrews is averaging 116.3 yards per game and has found the end zone four times. The Andrews-Tyler Huntley stack is alive and well.
Pittsburgh’s defense ranks 27th in DVOA against the run, which helps not only Huntley, but also Devonta Freeman. Last week, Freeman played 68% of the snaps and logged 15 touches. In the Week 13 meeting between these two teams, Freeman turned 19 touches into 97 yards and a TD. Freeman is expected to be in fewer than 5% of lineups.
The Steelers piled up seven sacks and an interception when these squads met in Week 13. The DST has scored double-digit fantasy points in three of the past five games. Projected to be in no more than 4% of lineups, the Steelers DST is one of the top contrarian plays on the board in a must-win spot with T.J. Watt chasing records.
- Cash Plays: None
- GPP Plays: QB Tyler Huntley, RB Devonta Freeman, WR Diontae Johnson, WR Chase Claypool, TE Mark Andrews, TE Pat Freiermuth, Steelers DST
The Steelers have gotten good news as the week has progressed, with Diontae Johnson and Joe Haden coming off the COVID list while the Ravens ruled out Lamar Jackson. The Ravens have lost five straight, and even though four of those losses were close, they don’t deserve to be giving more than a field goal right now as they’re incredibly banged-up in a bunch of key spots.
Like the Ravens, the Steelers have a minute shot at the playoffs with a win. Plus motivation shouldn’t be an issue with Mike Tomlin, who has covered at nearly a 70% clip as an underdog from Week 3 on.
It’s also worth noting that Mark Andrews’ receiving yardage prop is way too low. Andrews hasn’t posted fewer than 89 yards since Lamar Jackson went down and is averaging 116.3 over that span. He is also chasing the single-season yardage mark for TEs, which he could break with 141 yards on Sunday.
Pick: Steelers +3.5 (bet to +3); Mark Andrews Over 68.5 Rec Yards (bet to 88.5)
Colts at Jaguars
With Jonathan Taylor sitting 266 rushing yards short of 2,000, it’s possible the Colts take the air out of the ball. I wouldn’t recommend as much exposure to Taylor as the 25-26% we’re expecting the field to have, but I would look to get a small amount of exposure, as he will be a must-own if he ends up chasing 2K.
Michael Pittman Jr. faces a Jaguars defense that is ranked dead last in DVOA versus opposing No. 1 WRs. His projected rostership is less than half that of Taylor, making Pittman an excellent leverage play. He posted a solid 5/71/0 line against the Jags in the first meeting. The same can’t be said for Carson Wentz, who was held to just 180 scoreless yards on 34 attempts, rendering the rest of the Colts passing game useless for fantasy purposes.
In terms of DVOA, the Colts are top-four against WR2s and non-WR1/2s but outside the top 20 against WR1s, TEs and RBs. Unfortunately, the Colts are a zone-heavy team, and Marvin Jones Jr. is averaging a sorry 1.11 YPRR versus zone. Jones is four catches away from unlocking a contract incentive, but that’s right on his season average (4.1), anyway. Laquon Treadwell dipped to a 75% routes-run rate last week. Despite a high floor, treadwell has yet to score or show much of a ceiling. He likely won’t be able to best last week’s 87-yard performance. Laviska Shenault Jr.’s snap rate fell to 28% last week while Tavon Austin’s climbed to 66%. Shenault Jr. has been a bust of epic proportions.
The Jags’ TE depth chart is a dumpster fire consisting of Dan Arnold (if activated from IR), Chris Manhertz, Luke Farrell, Jacob Hollister and Kahale Warring.
There is nobody to play on this team except Dare Ogunbowale, who has scored in back-to-back weeks while averaging 15.0 touches over that span. The Jags have scored more TDs on the ground (13) than through the air (10) this season.
The Colts DST is projected for sub-5% rostership, but I don’t think it’s wise to pay up any higher than the Patriots on such a wide open slate.
- Cash Plays: None
- GPP Plays: RB Jonathan Taylor, RB Dare Ogunbowale, WR Michael Pittman Jr.
The Colts beat the Jaguars by only six points in Indianapolis with Urban Meyer still at the helm for Jacksonville, and also failed to cover in a similar spot in the last game of the 2020 season. In fact, the Colts are 0-3 against the spread (ATS) against the Jags over their past three meetings over the last two seasons despite the Jags having won three total games over that span.
As Stuckey pointed out on this week’s Action Network NFL Podcast, favorites in must-win spots laying more than a field goal have covered at just a 31% clip. With 66% of the bets and 89% of the money on the Colts as of Saturday, you may want to wait until close to kickoff to lock in the best number.
With Jonathan Taylor just 266 yards short of 2,000 on the season, it’s also worth taking a nibble on his alt-rushing yardage market at the highest number you can find; I found over 175.5 at +598.
On the other side, Marvin Jones Jr. is sitting at 66 catches and needs four receptions for $500,000. His reception prop at most books is four, which is fine, but I found a 3.5 in the alt market, which is obviously a better bet.
Pick: Jaguars +15 (bet to +14); Jonathan Taylor Over 175.5 Rush Yards (bet to +598 or highest rushing yardage prop you can find); Marvin Jones Jr. Over 3.5 Rec (bet to 4.0)
Titans at Texans
Rex Burkhead is averaging 21.0 touches per game over his past three games, yet is expected to be in fewer than 3% of entries. He’s a smash GPP play at only $5,200 on DraftKings and $5,600 on FanDuel.
Brandin Cooks has double-digit targets in each of his past three games and should be a target monster again. He has a non-prohibitive matchup against a Titans defense that ranks 16th in DVOA against WR1s. Tennessee is 20th against WR2s, but Nico Collins hasn’t quite been getting enough snaps to be an option, hovering in the 60-70% range in each of the past six weeks. The Titans are fourth in DVOA versus TEs, so this will likely be another quiet game for Brevin Jordan.
The Titans are ranked seventh in pass-defense DVOA, so this isn’t a great week for Davis Mills.
With Jeremy McNichols waived and Derrick Henry expected back for the playoffs, the Titans have every incentive to run D’Onta Foreman into the ground against a Texans defense that ranks 26th in DVOA against the run – 14 spots worse than against the pass. Unfortunately, Foreman is expected to be in 20% or more of entries, which defeats his value.
A.J. Brown is also expected to draw rostership north of 20%. The Texans are seventh in DVOA against WR1s but 28th versus WR2s, so this is as good of a spot as any to pivot from Brown to Julio Jones, who is off the injury report and expected to be in fewer than 1% of lineups.
The Texans are 30th against TEs, but the committee of Geoff Swaim and Anthony Firkser makes both unreliable in a low-volume pass offense.
Ryan Tannehill is a nice leverage play on Foreman due to his seven rushing TDs. Tannehill ranks as a borderline top-10 QB this week, but will be hard-pressed to top an 8% rostership percentage.
- Cash Plays: None
- GPP Plays: QB Ryan Tannehill, RB Rex Burkhead, WR Brandin Cooks, WR Julio Jones
We’ve seen this movie before. The Titans had incentive to win last year against a four-win Texans team and had to stage a comeback to barely eke out a 41-38 win. The Texans also upset the Titans, 22-13, earlier this season in Tennessee.
This is also a great bounce-back spot for the Texans after being held to seven points by the 49ers last week. Since 2003, underdogs of two or more points that are coming off a game in which they scored fewer than 10 points and are facing a favorite with a winning percentage of .350 or better not coming off a bye are covering at a 62% clip.
Pick: Texans +10.5 (bet to +8.5)
Bengals at Browns
Samaje Perine will get the start in place of Joe Mixon against a Cleveland defense that sets up as something of a run funnel, ranking 20th in DVOA against the run compared to 11th versus the pass. Perine should see a massive workload given the windy, wet weather conditions. Perine is in play in cash games this week.
The Browns play zone coverage at the NFL’s sixth-highest rate, which sets up even better for Tee Higgins than Ja’Marr Chase, as Higgins is averaging 2.41 YPRR versus zone compared to 2.15 for Chase. The latter needs 45 receiving yards to break the rookie record, so that should be his floor, but the Bengals may not push it too far beyond that. Tyler Boyd is at 1.60 YPRR versus zone and has two TDs. C.J. Uzomah has been better against man (1.67) than zone (0.97) but didn’t practice all week.
Ultimately, it’s hard to trust anyone in this passing game with Brandon Allen starting for Joe Burrow (out-knee) and windy weather expected.
Even with Perine in cash game lineups, I still wouldn’t hesitate to play the Browns DST on DraftKings, as they are the cheapest home-favorite DST at $2,600.
Although the Browns offense should get a boost via subtraction with Baker Mayfield (shoulder) out, it is still a stayaway, as there’s no telling how much they will play their offensive starters with an improved draft pick on the line if they lost. Nick Chubb played only 30-of-71 snaps last week (42%). The Bengals DST is a nice pivot off the Browns in GPPs, as the former is expected to be in fewer than 1% of lineups.
- Cash Plays: RB Samaje Perine, DST Cleveland Browns
- GPP Plays: DST Cincinnati Bengals
Case Keenum versus Brandon Allen in bad weather screams “under,” but I want to see the final weather report before deciding whether to play such a low total.
Follow me in the app to find out whether I end up betting this game.
Pick: Pass for now
Football Team at Giants
Ricky Seals-Jones (concussion) has been ruled out, which should thrust rookie John Bates into an every-down role. At near minimum salary, Bates is an ideal cash-game punt play at TE.
The Giants play zone at the seventh-highest rate in the NFL. At 1.86 YPRR versus zone, Terry McLaurin represents the only Washington WR or TE to crack the 1.40 mark. McLaurin could see a lot of James Bradberry, who has allowed an NFL-high eight TDs. Expected to be in fewer than 4% of entries, McLaurin is one of the top GPP plays on the board at WR. He is also an excellent leverage play on Antonio Gibson, who projects to be in over five times as many lineups. The matchup is strong for Gibson – the Giants rank 25th in defensive rushing DVOA again– but there’s little point in rostering Gibson if he’s going to be in 20% of lineups.
The WR2 and WR3 spots have been filled by a mix of Adam Humphries, DeAndre Carter, Cam Sims, Dyami Brown and Dax Milne; there’s no reliable value in the bunch. Taylor Heinicke can unlock a contract incentive if he plays at least 60% of the snaps and Washington wins, but there’s a still chance that he gets subbed out for Kyle Allen in the fourth quarter.
The Football Team plays zone coverage at the fourth-highest clip in the league. The Giants’ top-three pass catchers in terms of YPRR against zone – John Ross (2.18), Kadarius Toney (2.06) and Sterling Shepard (1.78) – are all out. Kenny Golladay has been better versus zone (1.45) than man (1.19) but is sub-par for a supposed No. 1 receiver either way. At 0.79 YPRR, Darius Slayton has been nearly invisible against zone looks. Evan Engram is averaging an uninspiring 1.14 YPRR versus zone and is up against a defense that ranks 12th in DVOA against TEs.
The only player worthy of rostering in this pass offense is David Sills, as he ran a route on every single dropback for the team last week. A 6-foot-3, 210-pound fourth-year player who went undrafted out of West Virginia in 2018, Sills will offer some of the top value on the slate in terms of projected routes per salary dollar.
The Giants will likely rely on Saquon Barkley and Devontae Booker for offense once again. Barkley handled 21 carries last week, but his underlying usage metrics were troubling, as he played fewer than 60% of the snaps for the fourth straight contest.
The Washington DST is too expensive on FanDuel at $5,000 and projected to approach double-digit rostership on DraftKings, so I’d still rather fade them.
- Cash Plays: TE John Bates
- GPP Plays: WR Terry McLaurin, WR David Sills
Last week, the Giants started a quarterback who passed for 24 yards the entire game. This week, they will start a quarterback who couldn’t beat out an opposing quarterback who passed for 24 yards last week.
Making matters worse, Joe Judge took a cheap shot at the entire Washington franchise, namely the defense.
I’m not laying a touchdown in a road divisional game in which both teams are eliminated, but I love teasing Washington down to under a field goal here.
Pick: Tease WFT from -7 down to -1 (bet to -8.5/-2.5)
Saints at Falcons
Taysom Hill has posted a reliable floor as a starter, topping 17 fantasy points in three of four games started. Facing a Falcons defense that is ranked 29th in overall DVOA, Hill is a top-five QB option this week and is the ideal cash game play, as the Saints are fighting for their playoff lives.
The Falcons rank 20th or worse in DVOA against every position except RB, which is the position the Saints need to be throwing the most to with Alvin Kamara. With that said, the Falcons’ ranking of 13th in DVOA on targets to RBs is not prohibitive, and they clock as a bottom-three run defense, so this is an excellent spot to play Kamara at what is projected to be a single-digit roster percentage.
The return of Deonte Harris and potentially Tre’Quan Smith will put a dent into Marquez Callaway’s target share and cut into Lil’ Jordan Humphrey’s snaps. There’s no way to reliably predict which Saints WR will go off, and the most likely outcome is that none of them do, as Hill is averaging just 203.8 passing yards in his four starts. The same is true at TE, where Adam Trautman, Nick Vannett and Juwan Johnson will split work.
Dennis Allen’s defense plays man coverage at the seventh-highest rate in the NFL. Kyle Pitts’s 2.57 YPRR versus man would be a major asset if he is able to suit up after practicing Thursday and Friday despite a hamstring injury. This type of coverage should also lead to success for Russell Gage, who is averaging 2.57 YPRR versus man compared to 1.69 against zone. No other WR or TE averages even one yard per route in single coverage. Marshon Lattimore split his time between Gage and Pitts when these teams met back in Week 9, but he has not been a cornerback to fear this season, allowing a passer rating above 100 for just the second time in his five-year career while surrendering a career-high 16.5 yards per reception. Olamide Zaccheaus popped for two TDs in the first meeting but still totaled just three catches for 58 yards. It stands as his only fantasy-relevant game of the season and is highly unlikely to repeat. Tajae Sharpe has been a on-factor despite playing over Zaccheaus most weeks.
Matt Ryan completed 23-of-30 passes for 343 yards, two TDs and no interceptions in the first meeting. In what amounts to Atlanta’s Super Bowl, I like Ryan as a contrarian dart throw against a pass-funnel Saints D.
Cordarrelle Patterson was used heavily as a WR in the first matchup, catching six passes for 126 yards. Unfortunately, he has been used as more of a true between-the-tackles runner as of late, making him a fade against the league’s best run defense. Mike Davis is averaging 10.8 touches per game and has scored just four times all year. He is also an easy fade in this matchup.
- Cash Plays: QB Taysom Hill
- GPP Plays: QB Matt Ryan, RB Alvin Kamara, WR Russell Gage, TE Kyle Pitts
As Stuckey points out in his excellent piece on final-week motivation, teams that need to win in the final week of the regular season to get into the playoffs (or would need help with a loss) have gone 16-26 (38.1%) ATS when playing teams with zero incentive since 2003.
The Falcons probably shouldn’t even be underdogs at all at home against a team they beat outright as 6-point dogs on the road earlier in the season. The Saints’ biggest strength is their run defense, which doesn’t really factor in here, as the Falcons average the fifth-fewest rushing attempts per game (23.8). Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore is having one of his worst seasons, and Matt Ryan had one of his best games of the season in the first meeting despite Lattimore splitting time on the Falcons’ two best receivers, Kyle Pitts and Russell Gage.
The Saints’ incentive is way overpriced here, as the Falcons will likely be just as motivated to end their division rival’s season just as their own was ended by the Bills last week.
Kyle Pitts can break Mike Ditka’s rookie tight end receiving yardage mark with 59 yards, so I would also look to bet the over on his yardage prop. Pitts’ prop is around 60-61 and he posted 62 yards in the first meeting, but I bet an alt market at 58.5 just to be safe.
Pick: Falcons +3.5 (bet to +3); Kyle Pitts Over 58.5 Rec Yards (bet to 61.5)
Panthers at Buccaneers
Tom Brady has seemingly taken a liking to Cyril Grayson, a fifth-year undrafted free agent out of LSU. Grayson has played four games this season, and has recorded 80-plus yards and/or a TD in each of the past three. With Antonio Brown no longer on the team, Grayson will likely start alongside Mike Evans and Tyler Johnson. Grayson makes sense as a cash-game punt play with more upside than usual for players of the sort.
The Panthers are a top-five team in DVOA versus TEs, but I expect Brady to force-feed Rob Gronkowski here, especially down another top pass catcher in the wake of Brown’s release. Seven catches, 85 yards and three TDs will each unlock contract incentives for Gronk, who is expected to be in fewer than 5% of entries. Evans’ only known incentive in this game is that he could post his eighth straight 1,000-yards season with 54 yards. He has an easy matchup to boot, as the Panthers are ranked 26th in DVOA versus opposing No. 1 WRs. Like Gronk, Evans projects for a sub-5% roster percentage.
Brady has an outside shot to set the all-time passing yardage mark if he throws for 488, so I wouldn’t hesitate to fire him up in GPPs.
After suffering a rib injury in Week 17, Ke’Shawn Vaughn practiced in full all week and was not listed on the final injury report. With Ronald Jones out, Vaughn will lead the backfield and has an outside shot at seeing Leonard Fournette-like usage. Le’Veon Bell will likely mix in, but the Bucs want to win this game, so I doubt a washed Bell plays a substantial role with Vaughn healthy. Vaughn is a strong GPP play at what is expected to be sub-5% rostership.
The Bucs held D.J. Moore to 5/55/0 on 12 targets two weeks ago. He is expected to be one of the most highly-rostered WRs on the slate, making him an easy fade. Robby Anderson (5/58/0) was just as unproductive on 10 targets. Brandon Zylstra had been sharing the WR3 role with Terrace Marshall, who has since been placed on IR, but played just three snaps last week. With Shi Smith not activated off the COVID list, Zylstra will likely be an every-down player with Anderson (questionable-quad) iffy after not practicing all week.
Tommy Tremble is back off the COVID list and will continue to split irrelevant reps at TE with Ian Thomas.
Scam Darnold has been exposed for the player we thought he was in New York, topping two TDs in only one of his 10 starts. Unfortunately, the Bucs DST is too pricey on DraftKings at $4,000 and projected to be too highly rostered on FanDuel at 14-15%.
Chuba Hubbard and Ameer Abdullah are mired in a near-even committee, with Hubbard logging 52% of the snaps last week while Abdullah handled the remaining 48%. Neither have a 20-point ceiling against a Bucs defense that is allowing 91.4 yards per game, third-fewest.
- Cash Plays: WR Cyril Grayson
- GPP Plays: QB Tom Brady, RB Ke’Shawn Vaughn, WR Mike Evans, WR Brandon Zylstra, TE Rob Gronkowski
Two weeks ago, the Bucs beat the Panthers 32-6 at less than full strength. Bruce Arians has come out and stated that he will be playing to win in order to get the Buccaneers a franchise-record 13 wins. I’m not willing to play -8 after the shaky performance against the Jets last week, but I love teasing the Bucs down under a field goal.
There’s also a major prop angle in this game, as Rob Gronkowkski can make $500,000 with seven more catches, another $500,000 with 85 more yards, and another $500,000 with three more TDs. I haven’t seen a reception prop for him as of writing, but if his yardage prop is still more than 15 yards short of 85, smash it. I may also look to bet on Gronk in the alt-TD market, so be sure to follow me in the Action Network App.
Pick: Tease Bucs from -8 down to -2 (bet to -8.5/-2.5); Rob Gronkowski Over 66.5 Rec Yards (bet to 84.5)
Seahawks at Cardinals
The Seahawks are 27th in DVOA against the pass but eighth versus the run, so this is a week to fade James Conner as potentially the most highly-rostered RB on the slate. Kyler Murray is expected to be in only two-thirds as many lineups and makes for an excellent leverage play.
Seattle plays zone coverage at the league’s third-highest clip, which should lead to a big day for A.J. Green, who leads the team’s active pass catchers with 2.32 YPRR versus zone. It’s also worth noting that Green could unlock contract incentives with another 10 catches and 75 yards. Christian Kirk is second with 1.94 yards per route against zone, but he’s expected to be one of the most highly-rostered WRs on the slate. Zach Ertz is averaging a better YPRR mark versus zone (1.45) than man (1.26), and the Seahawks are 23rd in DVOA versus TEs, but is an easy fade as the TE projected to be in the most tournament lineups on the slate. Antoine Wesley is better against man (1.20 YPRR) than zone (0.96) and will likely be the odd man out in this matchup.
In what could possibly be his last game as a Seahawk, Russell Wilson is projected to be in just 5% of lineups. The Cardinals are third in defensive passing DVOA overall but 22 on passes to the left, which is where D.K. Metcalf sees the majority of his targets and leads Seattle with 57. Metcalf is 91 yards short of his second straight 1,000-yard season. The Wilson-Metcalf stack is a prime Week 18 play. Even in a tougher matchup, Tyler Lockett is still in play, as he is projected for rostership in the single digits. The Cardinals are third in DVOA versus TEs, so this is not the week to play Gerald Everett (it almost never is).
The Cardinals rank fifth in rushing DVOA, so this is a week to fade Rashaad Penny, whose price has jumped $1,000+ over the past two weeks.
- Cash Plays: None
- GPP Plays: QB Kyler Murray, QB Russell Wilson, WR D.K. Metcalf, WR Tyler Lockett, WR A.J. Green
A.J. Green can unlock a $250,000 incentive with 75 yards and another $250,000 with 10 catches. The former is doable, especially since he is facing a Seahawks defense that lives in zone, playing it at the NFL’s second-highest rate. Green leads all Cardinals pass catchers with 2.32 yards per route run versus zone coverage (min. 5 targets). There’s a nice 20-yard cushion between the incentive and his yardage prop.
D.K Metcalf’s yardage prop is also in play here, as he is 91 yards short of his second consecutive 1,000-yard season. Despite a strong pass defense, the Cardinals rank just 22nd in DVOA on passes to the offensive left, which is where Metcalf sees the majority of his targets.
Pick: A.J. Green Over 54.5 Rec Yards (bet to 74.5); D.K. Metcalf Over 56.5 Rec Yards (bet to 90.5)
49ers at Rams
Cooper Kupp is 136 yards away from breaking Calvin Johnson’s receiving yardage record and 12 catches away from Michael Thomas’ all-time receptions mark. Kupp should be locked into cash game lineups this week.
The 49ers play zone at the ninth-highest rate in the NFL, which reveals a clear second-fiddle option to Kupp:
- Van Jefferson: 1.77 YPRR vs. zone, 0.66 YPRR vs. man
- Odell Beckham Jr.: 1.47 YPRR vs. zone, 2.04 YPRR vs. man
Matthew Stafford has a top-four ceiling projection and has a chance to land in the single digits in rostership percentage. He’s one of the top plays on the board at QB. Tyler Higbee is in a tough spot against the league’s second-best defense against TEs by DVOA; he’s a fade.
Cam Akers is expected to make his return from an Achilles injury he suffered in camp. Akers was not listed on the injury report, so it begs the question of just how much he will cut into Sony Michel’s role. Michel is expected to draw double-digit rostership against a 49ers defense that is ranked second in DVOA against the run, so it makes sense to fade him this week.
Elijah Mitchell has at least 17 DraftKings points in each of his past three games and has been held to single digits only three times all season. He’s way too cheap at $6,000 and is cash-viable there. The Rams are ranked fourth in defensive rushing DVOA, but that didn’t stop the 49ers from piling up 156 yards on the ground when these teams met in Week 10.
The Rams play zone coverage at the second-highest rate in the league, behind only the Raiders. Among 103 WRs with at least 24 targets, Deebo Samuel ranks No. 1 with 3.59 YPRR versus zone coverage; no other WR has more than 2.93. George Kittle’s 2.83 YPRR versus zone also ranks tops among the 41 TEs with at least 15 targets this season. Kittle is also 91 receiving yards shy of 1,000. Brandon Aiyuk’s 1.95 YPRR versus zone is sold, but he hasn’t caught a TD in zone while Samuel has four and Kittle has two.
Jimmy Garoppolo (questionable-finger) will be an intriguing option at sub-1% rostership if he gets cleared to play. Trey Lance will draw a much higherrostership percentage if he starts, but is still worth playing given his salary.
- Cash Plays: RB Elijah Mitchell, WR Cooper Kupp
- GPP Plays: QB Jimmy Garoppolo (if starting), WR Deebo Samuel, WR Van Jefferson, TE George Kittle
Kyle Shanahan simply has Sean McVay’s number.
Shanahan is 6-3 ATS against McVay, covering by an average of 4.8 points per game. The 49ers have won each of last five straight up, including a 31-10 beatdown in the first meeting this season. In that game, the 49ers outgained the Rams 335-278 and scored on four of eight drives (excluding kneel-downs) while the Rams scored on just two of 10 drives. The 49ers won despite committing nine penalties to the Rams’ five, and with Cooper Kupp going off for 122 yards on 11 catches.
Despite the addition of Odell Beckham Jr., Matthew Stafford has been indecisive as of late and has struggled over the second half of the season, perhaps due to the loss of Robert Woods.
- First eight games: 68.9% completion rare, 9.1 YPA, 118 rating, 22 TD, 4 INT, 2.53 time to throw
- Last eight games: 65.9% completion rate, 7.3 YPA, 90 rating, 16 TD, 11 INT, 2.76 time to throw
Shanahan made a cagey move with his own QBs, forcing the Rams to prepare for both Jimmy Garoppolo and Trey Lance. Regardless of which one starts, I expect Shanahan to keep up his success against McVay with a playoff berth on the line.
Speaking of Kupp, he is 136 yards away from Calvin Johnson’s all-time single-season receiving mark. According to Football Outsiders, San Francisco’s defense allows the most schedule-adjusted receiving yards per game to opposing No. 1 wide receivers (87.1).
Everything is lining up for the over in his yardage prop to cash.
Pick: 49ers +3.5 (bet to +3); Cooper Kupp Over 118.5 Rec Yards (bet to 135.5)
Jets at Bills
Devin Singletary has seized control of the Bills backfield late in his Year 3 campaign, totaling 235 rushing yards on 57 carries with four TDs over his past three games. Singletary is a locked-in cash game play against a Jets run defense that has been shredded for an NFL-high 27 TDs while allowing 136.3 yards per game, fourth-most.
The top play in the Bills passing game is Stefon Diggs, who needs six catches to reach 100 and unlock contract escalators for 2022 and 2023. Diggs has positive Leverage Plus Minus scores on both sits in our models, meaning that he ranks higher in projected ceiling than projected rostership.
Despite hiring a defensive-minded head coach in Robert Saleh, talent deficiencies have caused the Jets to be abysmal in pass defense against every position – none more so than TE, where they rank dead last in DVOA. I think this is a sneaky bounce-back spot for Dawson Knox, who projects for sub-5% rostership.
The Jets are 12th in man coverage rate, so this doesn’t profile as a Cole Beasley game, as he is averaging 1.13 YPRR versus man compared to 1.71 against zone. Given that this is the final game of the regular season, it wouldn’t be surprising if Beasley cedes snaps to Isaiah McKenzie, who likely won’t see enough snaps for consideration on the main slate but is an excellent option for one-game slates and a solid contrarian dart in afternoon-only contests.
Gabriel Davis leads the Bills in YPPR versus man (2.32), but the weather could limit his production downfield. Davis is also expected to push for 20% rostership on FanDuel and 10% on DraftKings, putting him in fade territory.
Josh Allen’s two worst games this season have come in inclement weather. Coupled with the fact that he is the most expensive QB on the slate and is expected to also be one of the most highly-rostered QBs, it makes sense to lay off him this week.
Michael Carter had 20 touches for 82 yards and a TD in the first meeting between these two teams, but that type of ceiling isn’t high enough to warrant rostering him as a double-digit road underdog. Despite registering a solid rookie campaign, Carter has cracked 20 fantasy points just once.
The Bills play man coverage at a top-10 rate, which does not bode well for Jamison Crowder, who is averaging just 0.79 yards per route versus man coverage this season. With Crowder out last week, Jeff Smith played 59-of-61 snaps (97%) – more than Keelan Cole (50; 82%). Smith is worth a dart throw at near minimum price based on usage; he was one of the cheapest sources of pass routes on the slate.
The Bills are annually one of the top teams versus TEs and rank 13th in DVOA this year, so this will be a tough matchup for Tyler Kroft.
Zach Wilson has just one three-TD game all season. He is not in consideration with his team implied to score fewer than 13 points by the Vegas odds.
The Bills DST is obviously in a great spot but is projected to appear in roughly a quarter of entries, making it an easy fade on the 13-game slate.
- Cash Plays: RB Devin Singletary
- GPP Plays: WR Stefon Diggs, WR Jeff Smith, TE Dawson Knox
Winds upwards of 15mph and rain or snow is in the forecast — conditions we’ve already seen the Bills offense struggle in: Josh Allen completed just 15-of-30 passes for 145 yards and one touchdown in the wind against the Patriots in Week 13, and was even worse in the snow against the Falcons last week, going 11-of-26 for 120 yards, no TDs and three interceptions.
Allen is ranked 21st with a 74.5% in adjusted completion rate — a PFF metric that removes drops, throwaways, etc. — and his inaccuracy has hurt the Bills in inclement weather. Zach Wilson is 35th in adjusted completion rate, so offense will be tough to come by for both teams.
According to our Action Labs data, divisional unders with a total of 39.5 or more in Week 10 or later have hit at a 58.2% rate since 2003.
Pick: Under 40.5 (bet to 39.5)
Patriots at Dolphins
Only the Broncos play man coverage at a higher rate than the Patriots. Jaylen Waddle leads the Dolphins with 1.95 YPRR versus man (min. 5 targets), but is likely to get the Bill Belichick treatment — the Patriots clock in with the second-best DVOA against No. 1 WRs. DeVante Parker goes from 1.84 against zone to 1.56 against man. Mike Gesicki goes from 1.69 against zone to 1.19 versus man. Overall, Dolphins pass catchers are averaging just 5.9 yards per target in single coverage.
Tua Tagovailoa is likely to struggle against this defense, which is second in the league in passer rating allowed (72.4).
The Patriots DST are a smash GPP play given the matchup and their sub-5% projected rostership.
Myles Gaskin has officially sunk into the frozen pond as the Dolphins backfield has devolved into a three-way committee featuring Gaskin, Duke Johnson and Phillip Lindsay. Last week, Johnson led the way with a 58% snap rate, followed by Gaskin at 24% and Lindsay at 11%. All three are liable to bust against a Pats defense that ranks seventh in DVOA against opposing ground games.
The Dolphins play nearly as much man coverage as the Patriots, ranking third in the league. In terms of YPRR versus man, Kendrick Bourne (2.19) edges out Jakobi Meyers (1.75), Kristian Wilkerson (1.67), Hunter Henry (1.25) and Nelson Agholor (0.78). Meyers, however, will have the best matchup against Nick Needham in the slot while Bourne and Co. have to contend with Xavien Howard and Byron Jones, who both rank in the top-42 in PFF’s cornerback grades. Projected for a sub-5% rostership, Meyers is a solid GPP option. Henry is also an option, as the Dolphins are ranked 29th in DVOA versus TEs and Henry is expected to garner a sub-5% rostership. You’re better off playing either of them solo rather than stacked with Mac Jones, who has thrown just five TDs in seven road games.
Patriots backs ran 29 times for 119 yards in the first meeting between these two teams back in Week 1. That’s not enough production to warrant rostering Damien Harris or Rhamondre Stevenson, who will likely split early-down will while Brandon Bolden handles passing situations. The Dolphins also pose a fairly tough matchup, clocking in at 13th in defensive rushing DVOA.
- Cash Plays: None
- GPP Plays: WR Jakobi Meyers, TE Hunter Henry, DST New England Patriots
The Patriots are still playing for seeding and should handle an overrated Dolphins team. Yes, the Dolphins won seven straight before losing 34-3 to the Titans last week, but six of those wins came against Tyrod Taylor, Joe Flacco, Cam Newton, Mike Glennon, Zach Wilson and Ian Book.
The Patriots outgained the Dolphins 393-259 when these teams met in Week 1 but lost on a fluky Damien Harris fumble while setting up for the winning score.
I’m not willing to lay six points on the road, but I love teasing the Patriots down to anything under a field goal.
Pick: Tease Patriots from -6 down to 0 (bet down to -8.5/-2.5)
DFS Cash Lineups
QB Taysom Hill $6,200 at ATL
RB Devin Singletary $6,000 vs. NYJ
RB Samaje Perine $5,300 at CLE
WR Cooper Kupp $9,700 vs. SF
WR Amon-Ra St. Brown $6,800 vs. GB
WR Cyril Grayson $4,400 vs. CAR
TE John Bates $3,000 at NYG
FLEX Elijah Mitchell $6,000 at LAR
DST Cleveland Browns $2,600 vs. CIN
QB Taysom Hill $7,700 at ATL
RB David Montgomery $7,600 at MIN
RB Devin Singletary $6,700 vs. NYJ
WR Cooper Kupp $10,000 vs. SF
WR Amon-Ra St. Brown $7,500 vs. GB
WR Cyril Grayson $5,600 vs. CAR
TE John Bates $4,600 at NYG
FLEX Samaje Perine $6,500 at CLE
DST Minnesota Vikings $3,700 vs. CHI