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Evan Silva

Matchups

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Silva's Week 17 Matchups

Sunday, December 30, 2018


This is a somewhat condensed version of the Matchups column for the Holidays, focusing on DFS ideas with most season-long leagues in the books. Matchups columns will continue throughout the NFL playoffs.

1:00 PM ET Games

Miami @ Buffalo
Team Totals: Bills 22, Dolphins 18

Confined to the pocket, dared to throw by New England’s controlled pass rush, and held to his fewest rushing attempts (5) in months, Josh Allen returns from his worst fantasy start since early October for a prime rebound spot versus a Miami defense that has allowed the NFL’s sixth-most QB rushing yards per game (20.1) and especially high fantasy scores to dual threats Deshaun Watson (QB1), Mitchell Trubisky (QB5), Andrew Luck (QB6), and Allen himself (QB2). Allen’s ceiling is as high as any quarterback’s on the Week 17 slate. … Although Zay Jones led the Bills in Week 16 receiving (5/67/1), his production was spiked in the slot because Isaiah McKenzie missed nearly half of the game after being carted off for a concussion check. Jones’ 20 slot routes were his most since Week 9, and over half of Jones’ production (3/42/1) occurred inside against the Pats. Jones ran just 8 and 9 slot routes in Weeks 14-15, struggling in both games. McKenzie was cleared and will resume slot duties this week, pushing Jones back outside.

Robert Foster is Allen’s preferred DFS-stack partner after drawing only one fewer Week 16 target than Jones, leading Buffalo in Air Yards (148), and missing out on a big game only because Foster lost a would-be 82-yard touchdown in the sun after beating Patriots top CB Stephon Gilmore on a perfectly-thrown first-quarter Allen bomb. 49% of Foster’s targets have come on passes thrown 20-plus yards downfield, the league’s second-highest rate and particularly notable because the still-Xavien Howard-less Dolphins have been burned for the NFL’s seventh-most 20-plus-yard completions (55). … Jason Croom is a Week 17 sleeper coming off season highs in playing time (72%), targets (6), and production (4/55/0) in last week’s loss to the Pats. Miami allows the NFL’s tenth-most fantasy points to tight ends.

Score Prediction: Bills 24, Dolphins 13

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Dallas @ NY Giants
Team Totals: Giants 23.5, Cowboys 17.5

His Rookie of the Year chances threatened by Baker Mayfield, and the Giants’ No. 2-overall draft-day decision under increased scrutiny with No. 3 pick Sam Darnold finishing hot for the crosstown Jets – exacerbated by Justin Herbert staying in school -- this is a prime opportunity for the G-Men to feed Saquon Barkley heavily before the home crowd against a Cowboys team expected to rest starters. Dallas allows the NFL’s fourth-most running back catches per game (6.3), while Barkley’s 87 grabs rank second at his position behind Christian McCaffrey’s 106. Barkley is 108 yards shy of Ezekiel Elliott for third-most total yards all time by a rookie running back and 253 behind Edgerrin James for second. Barkley needs 14 receptions to tie Anquan Boldin for most ever by a rookie, regardless of position. If both Todd Gurley and Ezekiel Elliott sit, Barkley could win the NFL rushing title with 237 yards. Popping as Week 17’s No. 4 buy-low running back in Josh Hermsmeyer’s Air Yards model, Barkley is this week’s premier RB1 play.

Although Barkley is the likeliest centerpiece of New York’s game plan, Evan Engram can’t be overlooked as a high-ceiling TE1 facing a Dallas defense allowing the NFL’s fourth-most tight end catches per game (5.4) and likely to rest first-string linebackers and safeties. Engram has averaged nearly 4.0 more career PPR points in games missed by Odell Beckham (quad), including an 88.3-yard average over the past three weeks. … Sterling Shepard is also playable after pacing the G-Men in Week 16 targets (7) and receiving (6/113/0) despite staying outside with Bennie Fowler in the slot against the Colts. Perimeter CBs Byron Jones and Chidobe Awuzie are likely to rest as two of Dallas' most-valuable defenders. Slot CB Anthony Brown (back) will almost certainly sit. Shepard averages 8.5 career targets per game with Beckham inactive, versus only 6.3 targets when OBJ plays.

Despite Jerry Jones’ public claims the Cowboys will go all out, Dallas’ inability to improve its No. 4 seed suggests Jerry is fibbing. Jones made similar 2016 statements that proved false, as Jason Garrett’s team left in Dak Prescott for only two drives and didn’t play Elliott at all. The 2016 team earned a playoff bye, whereas this year’s club didn’t and is incentivized to treat its regular season finale as an opportunity to rest ahead of next week’s Wild Card Round. Most telling is the line movement; the G-Men opened favored by three, and have since been bet up to six-point favorites. In Week 17 of 2016, carries were split three ways between Alfred Morris (8), Darren McFadden (7), and Lance Dunbar (3) with Mark Sanchez doing the bulk of Dallas’ quarterbacking. Expect to see Rod Smith, Darius Jackson, and Jamize Olawale sharing the backfield while Cooper Rush takes the most snaps from center. The Giants’ D/ST is a low-cost DFS punt as a large home favorite facing what’s likely to be an expansion-level offense.

Score Prediction: Giants 27, Cowboys 13

Atlanta @ Tampa Bay
Team Totals: Buccaneers 26, Falcons 25

As Week 17’s second-highest-totaled affair with neither team at risk of wholesale resting, Falcons-Bucs sets up as safe for fantasy investments beginning with Jameis Winston, who has massive future earnings on the line. Winston is owed a $20.9 million non-guaranteed 2019 salary the Bucs still must decide to pay, or send Winston to the free agent market. In a very-winnable Week 16 game at Dallas, Winston took a step back with three delay-of-game penalties and two lost fumbles, the first returned to the house from 69 yards out and the second occurring at Tampa Bay’s four-yard line. Be it for the team that drafted him or free agent suitors, this is Winston’s final opportunity to showcase himself at the end of a tumultuous year marred by a three-game suspension, turnover proneness, and repeated benchings. It can’t hurt that Atlanta surrenders the NFL’s second-most quarterback rushing yards per game (24.3), while Jameis is averaging a career-high 31.0 rushing yards in his seven games played start to finish. Winston has carved Dan Quinn’s team for a 16:4 TD-to-INT ratio and 8.16 YPA in six career meetings.

Winston’s Weeks 12-16 target distribution: Adam Humphries 41; Mike Evans 39; Chris Godwin 29; Cameron Brate 19; Jacquizz Rodgers 18; DeSean Jackson 12; Peyton Barber 10. … Humphries has averaged 5.4 catches for 54 yards and 0.3 touchdowns in Winston’s seven full games. This week’s high-scoring projection and plus draw enhance Humphries’ PPR outlook against a Falcons team that yielded at- or above-expectation production to fellow slot WRs Sterling Shepard (5/167/0), Maurice Harris (10/124/0), Tyler Boyd (11/100/0), Larry Fitzgerald (7/82/0), Humphries (3/82/0), Jarius Wright (7/69/0), Cole Beasley (5/51/0), Randall Cobb (5/43/1), and JuJu Smith-Schuster (4/34/1) over its last 12 games. Humphries also popped as Week 17’s No. 12 buy-low player in Josh Hermsmeyer’s Air Yards model. … Evans ranks No. 5 in the NFL in Air Yards (755) and No. 7 in receiving yards (517) over the past six weeks. Albeit a long shot, Evans could pass Julio Jones for the league’s receiving-yardage lead by outgaining Jones by 121 yards. … No D-Jax (Achilles’) gives Godwin one more chance to bust his late-season slump after managing an ugly combined 4/52/0 stat line on 19 targets in Weeks 14-16 against New Orleans, Baltimore, and Dallas’ elite secondaries. Atlanta’s defensive backfield is far from elite, conceding the NFL’s third-most touchdowns to wide receivers (20) and a 6/56/1 receiving line to Godwin in these clubs’ Week 6 date. … Brate has finished below 40 yards in 15-of-15 games, and coach Dirk Koetter conceded this week Brate has played hurt all year. Brate is an entirely touchdown-or-bust option facing a Falcons defense that has surrendered five TDs to tight ends on the year.

The Falcons’ offense is short on standout Week 17 plays against a Bucs defense that has improved its scoring allowance dramatically under interim DC Mark Duffner, yielding a 20.2-point average over its last five games after hemorrhaging 32.9 PPG in Weeks 1-11. Tampa has also permitted fifteen fewer points per game at home than on the road, while Matt Ryan’s yards per attempt fall from 8.8 to 7.3 and his passer rating from 118.0 to 99.3 away from Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium. … Brian Hill has plenty at stake as a fringe-NFL player coming off a career-best 8/115/0 rushing line, albeit spiked by an individual 60-yard run and sullied by Hill’s fourth-quarter lost fumble. Built big (6’1/219) with plus speed (4.54), Hill didn’t fumble once on 357 touches as a 2016 senior at Wyoming, suggesting the loose ball was an anomaly. Hill caught only eight passes that year and has just two receptions on 54 NFL snaps in a Falcons offense that does not prioritize target opportunities for running backs. Hill’s run-game matchup is enticing, though; the Bucs got pummeled for 186/1,006/6 rushing (5.41 YPC) by enemy backs in Weeks 9-16. Unfortunately, Tevin Coleman (groin) will to try to play, severely diminishing Hill's usage projection.

 

Barring Julio Jones (hip, rib) missing Sunday’s game – he is fully expected to play – Mohamed Sanu and Calvin Ridley’s big Week 16 box scores are tough to chase after both did so much damage on Panthers coverage busts. Ridley gained 83% of his yardage on a wide-open 75-yard TD, and over half of Sanu’s production came on an unguarded 44-yard score. … Julio enters Week 17 first in the NFL in receiving yards with a 114-yard lead on DeAndre Hopkins and 121-yard head start on aforementioned Evans. It’s unclear whether Jones intends on playing the whole game; due to the injuries, Julio’s snap rates were 48% and 52% the past two weeks. The NFL receiving-yards crown is a significant enough milestone that we can expect Jones to position himself for at least 60 yards.

Score Prediction: Buccaneers 28, Falcons 23

Jacksonville @ Houston
Team Totals: Texans 23.5, Jaguars 16.5

Despite losing at Philadelphia last week, the Texans clinched a playoff berth in last Sunday night's Steelers loss. Houston remains in danger of losing a first-round home game and falling to the AFC’s sixth seed with a Week 17 loss, so Bill O’Brien’s team won’t lack motivation. A top-12 QB1 in 10 of his last 14 starts, Deshaun Watson is coming off consecutive top-two scores in road tilts with the Jets and Eagles to now face a Jekyll & Hyde Jaguars defense that has remained stout when going all out but flashed inconsistent effort in road losses to Buffalo and Tennessee. Jacksonville allows a league-high 27.0 QB rushing yards per game, noteworthy for Watson, who ranks fourth at his position in rushing (485). This is a higher-variance but still elite-upside spot for Watson. Simply having the word “Jacksonville” on the schedule is certain to keep his DFS ownership low. … Lamar Miller (ankle) will return after effectively missing two games. Even as a six-point home-favorite lead back, Miller’s trust factor is low with shaky health behind poor run blocking and inefficient-yet-trustworthy Alfred Blue and D’Onta Foreman available in reserve if Miller falters. The Jags’ run defense righted its ship since Week 14’s Thursday night Derrick Henry destruction, holding Dolphins and Redskins backs to a putrid 38/102/0 (2.68 YPC) rushing line in its last two games.

DeAndre Hopkins escaped his last four Jalen Ramsey meetings with receiving lines of 3/50/1 – 4/80/1 – 7/55/1 – 8/87/0, demonstrating a high floor even in one of the NFL’s toughest cornerback matchups. His Week 17 ceiling comes into play via immense target upside with Demaryius Thomas (Achilles’) joining Will Fuller (ACL) on I.R., leaving reserve slot man DeAndre Carter, UDFA rookie Vyncint Smith out of Limestone College in Gaffney, South Carolina, and perhaps hamstring-hobbled Keke Coutee to round out Houston’s wideout corps. Already entering Sunday’s regular season finale with double-digit targets in four straight games, Hopkins’ sheer volume projection is as lofty as any receiver’s on this week’s slate.

Back under center in place of going-nowhere Cody Kessler, Blake Bortles is worth DGAF discussion as a DFS-tournament spin facing a Texans defense that has yielded top-13 fantasy results to five straight quarterbacks, including Sam Darnold, Nick Foles, and Andrew Luck’s top-three scores. Although facing J.J. Watt, Jadeveon Clowney, and Whitney Mercilus behind a Jaguars line missing 4-of-5 starters keeps Houston’s D/ST firmly in play, Jacksonville’s likely inability to grind rushing success versus the Texans’ AFC-best run defense should force more onto Bortles’ plate, increasing his scrambling potential along with high-variance passes against a beatable Texans backend. … Bortles’ best DFS-stack partner is Dede Westbrook, the Jags’ lone skill-position player still playing at a high level late in a lost year. Westbrook leads Jacksonville in targets (66), catches (42), yards (517), and touchdowns (4) on passes thrown by Bortles in 2018, and popped as Week 17’s No. 4 buy-low player in Josh Hermsmeyer’s Air Yards model.

Score Prediction: Texans 24, Jaguars 23


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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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