Evan Silva

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Silva's Week 17 Matchups

Sunday, December 31, 2017


Cincinnati @ Baltimore
Team Totals: Ravens 25, Bengals 15

The Ravens can clinch a playoff berth with a Week 17 win and will certainly go all out in this game with Alex Collins as their best means of generating offense. Bengals difference-maker WLB Vontaze Burfict (shoulder) is not expected to play, and Cincinnati’s run defense has been unglued for an extended stretch, surrendering 110-plus rushing yards in eight of its last ten games, including a 138/625/4.53/4 rushing line to enemy backs in the last four. Cincinnati has also yielded the NFL’s fourth-most receiving yards (806) to backs. Collins has 17-plus touches in six straight games and multiple receptions in all six. In last week’s win over the Colts, Collins logged a season high in routes run (15) and his second-highest snap rate (53%) of the year. … With multiple touchdown passes in four straight starts, Joe Flacco has shown significant late-season improvement after overcoming an August back injury. Flacco has been a top-ten fantasy passer in three of his last four starts, while the Bengals have allowed top-12 results to six of their last nine quarterbacks faced. Working against Flacco are tough matchups throughout his pass-catcher corps.

Flacco’s post-bye target distribution: Mike Wallace 44; Jeremy Maclin and Danny Woodhead 30; Collins 25; Ben Watson 20; Chris Moore 15; Nick Boyle 13; Buck Allen and Maxx Williams 9; Breshad Perriman 8; Michael Campanaro 6. … Just three wide receivers have topped 65 yards against Cincinnati since Week 3, while Wallace has fared poorly in each of his three meetings with the Bengals (1/8/0 > 4/33/0 > 3/57/0) since signing with the Ravens. … Maclin (knee) has been banged up and ineffective, clearing 60 yards in 1-of-12 games this year. He was listed as doubtful on Friday's injury report and will be replaced in the slot by Campanaro. … Watson has Baltimore’s best pass-catcher draw against a Bengals defense that yielded 5/83/1 to Eric Ebron in Week 16, 2/17/1 to injury-limited Kyle Rudolph in Week 15, 8/85/1 to Bears tight ends in Week 14, and 6/80/0 to Browns tight ends in Week 12. 37-year-old Watson typically has to overcome low volume, however. Watson’s last six target totals are 1 > 3 > 5 > 1 > 4 > 6, and he has cleared 50 yards twice all season.

This is a good spot for Baltimore’s D/ST and a poor one for Andy Dalton, who has finished QB18 or worse in three straight starts. The Ravens have allowed just eight passing TDs in their last ten games and logged fantasy results of DEF3 > DEF28 > DEF6 > DEF7 in their last four meetings with Dalton. … Joe Mixon (ankle) returned to practice on Thursday and will apparently give it a go. His playing time is uncertain after Giovani Bernard sparked the Bengals’ offense the past three weeks with total-yardage/touchdown results of 130/0 > 43/1 > 168/1 on touch counts of 17 > 17 > 30. Baltimore limits run-game efficiency but has allowed six rushing TDs in its last five games. Ultimately, neither Gio nor Mixon will be a desirable fantasy option if both are active for this one. … A.J. Green has the Bengals’ top pass-catcher draw against a Ravens defense that was lit up by Antonio Brown (11/213/0), DeAndre Hopkins (7/125/0), Davante Adams (8/126/0), T.Y. Hilton (6/100/0), Marvin Jones (4/90/0), Rishard Matthews (4/70/1), and Golden Tate (8/69/0) in its last seven games. Hilton got open at will versus Baltimore last Saturday night. With nothing to play for and fewer than 70 yards in six of his last nine games, Green requires a leap of faith. It helps that he has double-digit targets in three of his last four.

Score Prediction: Ravens 27, Bengals 13

Jacksonville @ Tennessee
Team Totals: Titans 22.5, Jaguars 19.5

After coughing up 44 points and turning the ball over three times in last week’s loss to San Francisco, the Jaguars say they will play their starters in Week 17 despite technically having nothing to gain. The Titans’ defense got lit up for last week’s QB1 overall finish by Jared Goff and has yielded top-ten results to four of its last six quarterbacks faced, the two exceptions being Blaine Gabbert and Jacoby Brissett. Tennessee’s 27 touchdown passes allowed are sixth most in the NFL, while Blake Bortles’ box-score production hasn’t wavered with top-ten fantasy scores in five straight starts, including three top-five finishes. Bortles is averaging 22.0 rushing yards per game since the Jaguars’ Week 8 bye, raising both his floor and ceiling. … Leonard Fournette is the Jaguars’ highest-risk fantasy gamble because of all the injuries he’s played through lately and the possibility Jacksonville opts to hold out Fournette or limit him during the game. Fournette has averaged 3.15 yards per carry over his last six appearances, while T.J. Yeldon logged his second-highest touch total of the season (12) in last week’s loss to the Niners.

Inside-outside threat Keelan Cole leads the Jags in targets (22), catches (13), and receiving yards (294) over the past two weeks, running higher-percentage routes than Dede Westbrook. Cole also has a better Week 17 matchup against a Titans defense that limits big plays but is vulnerable on the interior, where they’ve been damaged by Doug Baldwin (10/105/1), Jeremy Maclin (8/98/0), Brandon LaFell (6/95/1), Allen Hurns (6/82/1), Braxton Miller (4/71/0), Cooper Kupp (4/65/1), and Jarvis Landry (5/44/1). … Westbrook is Jacksonville’s superior big-play threat, yet Tennessee has allowed the NFL’s fourth-fewest completions of 20-plus yards (36). Whereas Cole has settled in as the higher-volume weapon, Westbrook’s recent usage and results suggest we should anticipate more volatility. ... Finally due back from his six-week high ankle sprain, Allen Hurns' game participation will be worth monitoring for potential DFS use in the NFL playoffs. Hurns' return will send Jaydon Mickens back to the bench.

Even as Marcus Mariota has flashed late-season improvement in a Titans offense that took far too long to embrace spread and up-tempo concepts, his Week 17 matchup is prohibitive against a Jaguars team hell bent on finishing strong. 13-of-15 quarterbacks to face Jacksonville have logged fantasy results of QB14 or worse, while Mariota himself has been a top-14 weekly scorer in just 4 of his last 13 starts. … DeMarco Murray (MCL) was ruled out on Friday, and it would be a surprise to see him even should Tennessee sneak into the Wild Card Round. This will be the Derrick Henry show against a Jaguars defense that has sprung just enough recent leaks to make this a passable matchup for Tennessee’s run game. In Weeks 13-16, enemy backs combined for a 90/403/4.48/2 rushing line versus Jacksonville. Volume is forever king at the running back position, and Henry's workload projection is as high as any back's on the Week 17 slate.

Mariota’s post-bye target distribution: Delanie Walker 57; Corey Davis 50; Eric Decker 40; Rishard Matthews 37; Murray 26; Henry 10. … Only six wide receivers all year have cleared 60 yards against the Jaguars, and only five have topped 70 yards. Davis, Decker, and Matthews have all had productive moments in recent weeks, but none of them stands out as a quality Week 17 play. … Tennessee’s best bet for receiving production is Walker, who enters Week 17 with 60-plus yards and/or a touchdown in seven of his last nine games. The Jaguars gave up 3/42/1 to 49ers rookie TE George Kittle last week, although Jimmy Graham (0/0) and Jack Doyle (3/16/0) were stymied by Jacksonville in two of the three weeks before. On the season, the Jags have yielded the NFL’s fourth-fewest yards (603) to tight ends.

Score Prediction: Jaguars 23, Titans 20

New Orleans @ Tampa Bay
Team Totals: Saints 28.5, Buccaneers 21.5

The Saints still have playoff seeding at stake in this road trip to Tampa Bay, which has yielded eight rushing TDs in its last five games and got trampled by Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara for 231 combined all-purpose yards and two touchdowns when these teams met in Week 9. Ingram is always a good bet to hit pay dirt with the NFL’s fifth-most carries inside the five-yard line (13) and has taken on an enhanced passing-game role lately with three or more receptions in five of the last six weeks. Only the Bills (18) and Lions (15) have allowed more rushing TDs to running backs (14) than Tampa Bay this year. Kamara stole the Week 9 show against the Bucs, however, turning 16 touches into 152 yards and two scores. … Drew Brees has been a high-floor, low-ceiling play all season and should continue to be viewed as such against the Bucs, who have allowed top-16 fantasy results to 11 of their last 14 quarterbacks faced and should give Brees a clean pocket with the NFL’s eighth-fewest QB hits (72) and a league-low 20 sacks.

Perhaps the biggest concern for Brees’ Week 17 upside is Michael Thomas’ hamstring injury, which limited him to season lows in snaps (64%), routes run (23), and targets (5) in last Sunday’s win over Atlanta. It is unclear whether Thomas will return at full strength this week after he was a limited participant in practice. Although Tampa Bay was a sieve for enemy wideouts most of the season, Bucs DC Mike Smith’s unit put clamps on Marvin Jones (3/64/0), Julio Jones (3/54/0), Davante Adams (4/42/0), Mohamed Sanu (3/23/0), and Devin Funchess (3/11/0) in the last month. … Ted Ginn is the only other Saints pass catcher worth discussion at this stage. Back from his rib injury against the Falcons, Ginn went off for 4/76/1 receiving on five targets, victimizing Desmond Trufant for a 54-yard score. The story is always the same with Ginn; he is a big-play-dependent WR4/flex option who lacks a safe floor.

A top-13 fantasy passer in six of his last eight fully-played games, Jameis Winston’s Week 17 appeal is tied to his recent box-score consistency – he has multiple touchdown passes and/or 360-plus yards in four straight starts – and this game’s shootout potential with the highest total (50.0) on this week’s slate. … Peyton Barber remained the Bucs’ Week 16 lead back with 15 touches on 40% of the snaps, but Doug Martin returned to siphon six touches, while Charles Sims and Jacquizz Rodgers combined for three. Tampa Bay’s rushing inefficiency and this backfield’s committee distribution render Barber a low-end flex play regardless of matchups. Game flow will become another obstacle if the Bucs fall behind.

Winston’s Weeks 13-16 target distribution: Mike Evans 27; Chris Godwin 17; Cameron Brate 16; Adam Humphries 15; DeSean Jackson 11; Sims and Barber 10; Martin 3. … Saints CB Marshon Lattimore has gotten “his” with pass breakups and interceptions, but he shadowed Julio Jones in two of the past three weeks and Jones emerged with productive stat lines of 5/98/0 and 7/149/0. Lattimore dominated Evans (1/13/0) when they matched up in Week 9, although Ryan Fitzpatrick quarterbacked most of that game. Lattimore’s coverage increases Evans’ risk but doesn’t lessen his upside; Winston is willing to throw to Evans even when he is “covered.” … Godwin’s stat lines in two 2017 starts are 5/68/0 and 3/98/0 on target counts of 10 and 6. Saints No. 2 CB Ken Crawley is no slouch in his own right, of course, having allowed just one touchdown since Week 6. Unfortunately, with both Godwin and Jackson nursing ankle injuries, Bucs complementary wideouts are tough Week 17 sells with uncertain health and usage. … Slot man Humphries’ role has not increased in Evans (suspension) or Jackson’s absences, seeing target totals of 4 and 3 in those two games. … With O.J. Howard (ankle, I.R.) out in last week’s loss to the Panthers, Brate drew only four targets but did play a season-high 68% of the snaps and ran 31 routes, his third most this year. The Saints have allowed NFL lows in catches (49) and yards (529) to tight ends and stymied Brate (1/9/0) in Week 9. Brate is best approached as a touchdown-or-bust streamer option.

Score Prediction: Saints 27, Buccaneers 24

Cleveland @ Pittsburgh
Team Totals: Steelers 24.5, Browns 13.5

The Steelers can still earn the AFC’s No. 1 seed with a win over the Browns and a Patriots loss to the Jets. The latter seems unlikely, of course, and conventional wisdom is that Mike Tomlin & Co. will keep close eyes on the Jets-Pats score, then rest top players if/when that game gets out of hand. Thus, Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and Martavis Bryant’s playing time is up in the air. If you’re intending to make fantasy investments into Steelers players, you have to embrace the probability that they won’t play the full game. On Thursday, Steelers RT Marcus Gilbert told reporters that both Big Ben and Bell will sit against the Browns. If true, Landry Jones would start at quarterback, and Stevan Ridley and Fitzgerald Toussaint would handle running back duties.

Isaiah Crowell is worth consideration as a contrarian play after flaming the Steelers for 168 total yards in a similar spot last Week 17. This is the final game of Crowell’s contract season, and he has averaged 5.45 yards per carry over the past eight weeks. Pittsburgh’s run defense has fallen apart down the stretch, giving up an 89/505/5.67/5 rushing line to enemy backs in its last four games, a trend that can be tied directly to the loss of ILB Ryan Shazier (neck, I.R.). … The other Browns player worthy of theoretically high-upside discussion is Josh Gordon, who has out-targeted Corey Coleman 36 to 19 since coming off his multi-year suspension. DeShone Kizer’s erratic passing always poses a major obstacle, but Gordon’s matchup does not. The Steelers figure to limit top CB Joe Haden’s snaps and have been rocked by enemy wideouts, notably allowing big games to Marvin Jones (6/128/0), Rishard Matthews (5/113/1), Chester Rogers (6/104/1), T.J. Jones (4/88/0), Golden Tate (7/86/0), Davante Adams (5/82/1), A.J. Green (7/77/2), Mike Wallace (3/72/0), DeAndre Hopkins (4/65/1), Brandin Cooks (4/60/1), Donte Moncrief (1/60/1), and Chris Moore (3/48/1) in the last eight weeks.

Score Prediction: Steelers 17, Browns 16


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Evan Silva is a senior football editor for Rotoworld.com. He can be found on Twitter .
Email :Evan Silva



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