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Evan Silva

Matchups

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Silva's Week 17 Matchups

Sunday, December 30, 2018



Cleveland @ Baltimore
Team Totals: Ravens 23.5, Browns 17.5

The Ravens host Cleveland in win-and-in position keyed by the league’s run-heaviest offense wherein Lamar Jackson has shown a low fantasy ceiling but ranked No. 9 in cumulative QB scoring through six starts. On a 5-1 roll over their last six games, however, the Browns are playing as hard as any NFL team and already beat Baltimore once this year, outlasting John Harbaugh’s club 12-9 in Week 5 overtime. Cleveland has held 11-of-15 quarterbacks faced to scores of QB15 or worse, while Gregg Williams’ unit shut down the two most-mobile passers on its 2018 schedule for below-expectation QB15 (Deshaun Watson) and QB24 (Cam Newton) finishes. Jackson is a fringe starter lacking DFS-tournament-caliber upside. … Albeit in a tiny sample, Cleveland’s run-defense improvement at least gives Williams’ club a puncher’s chance at containing Baltimore’s diverse ground game after holding Bengals, Broncos, and Panthers backs to 53/167/2 (3.15 YPC) rushing in Weeks 14-16. Beginning with most recent, Gus Edwards’ touch counts are 15 – 19 – 16 – 21 to Kenneth Dixon’s 10 – 12 – 9 – 9 since Dixon came off I.R./return a month ago. As neither Ravens back has exceeded two catches in a game all year, Edwards and Dixon amount to touchdown-reliant plays in the fifth-lowest-totaled contest on this slate.

“They are playing for a playoff spot,” Baker Mayfield said at his Wednesday press conference. “We are playing to prove who we are.” Even as 7-7-1 Cleveland’s playoff hopes no longer exist, their inspirational rookie quarterback’s drive and determination, and Williams’ intention of shedding his interim head-coaching tag certainly do. We can lock in an all-out Browns effort, but Baltimore’s ability to suck play-volume life out of offenses has become a major concern for all opponents, exacerbated by the Ravens’ sheer defensive dominance. Excluding Week 14’s overtime loss at Arrowhead, offenses facing Baltimore have lost 10.9 plays per game off their season averages since Lamar Jackson usurped Joe Flacco six starts ago, stymieing box-score production. … The Browns player worth the longest Week 17 look is David Njoku against a Ravens defense whose greatest vulnerability is in the middle of the field, where DC Wink Martindale’s unit yields the NFL’s tenth-most catches (5.0) and yards (56.0) per game to tight ends. Njoku’s results are all over the map, but he ranks a respectable ninth among tight ends in Air Yards (228) and a dominant third at the position in yards after catch (136) since the Browns’ Week 11 bye.

Score Prediction: Browns 17, Ravens 16

Oakland @ Kansas City
Team Totals: Chiefs 33.5, Raiders 19.5

Favored for the AFC’s No. 1 seed but also at risk of a fifth-seed finish with a loss and “help,” the Chiefs are in no position to rest starters, particularly after losing two straight to the Chargers and Seattle. As Kansas City’s highest-probability outcome remains a first-round bye with home field throughout the playoffs – and Oakland is out-matched – the Chiefs would be mistaken to take any approach other than going all out, challenging for statistical milestones, and entering the postseason on the highest-possible note. Patrick Mahomes is a Week 17 hammer play in an offense that should have 40-point aspirations. … Spencer Ware’s (hamstring) return figures to revert Kansas City’s backfield to a multi-headed timeshare, even after Damien Williams held down the fort more than capably. Williams didn’t help his cause on last week’s lost fumble, and Ware out-touched Williams 35 to 19 in the two weeks before Ware went down.

Mahomes’ Weeks 11-16 target distribution: Travis Kelce 55; Tyreek Hill 50; Chris Conley 26; Damien 20; Demarcus Robinson 16; Demetrius Harris 13; Ware 6; Kelvin Benjamin 4; Darrel Williams 3. … This is a slump-busting spot for Kelce after consecutive disappointing games, the latter caused when Mahomes overthrew Kelce for a wide-open would-be 36-yard TD in the first quarter at Seattle. Kelce dismantled Oakland (12/168/2) in these clubs’ Week 13 game, and no team has allowed more fantasy points to tight ends than the Raiders. Kelce needs only 53 yards to break Rob Gronkowski’s single-season record for receiving yards by a tight end (1,327). Kelce also must hold off George Kittle, however; the 49ers’ tight end lurks 46 yards behind Kelce and 99 behind Gronk. … Although Hill (foot) may be less than 100%, he ran a pass route on all 41 of Mahomes’ Week 16 dropbacks, played 95% of the snaps, and tied Kelce for the team lead in targets (9). This is a redemption game for Tyreek, who posted his lowest yardage total (13) all season at Oakland in Week 13, highlighted by dropping a would-be 52-yard touchdown bomb. It’s Tyreek’s lone drop since Week 7. The Raiders have allowed a league-high 21 TDs to wide receivers. Hill is a lock-and-load play as Week 17’s No. 3 buy-low player in Josh Hermsmeyer’s Air Yards model.

Visiting Arrowhead on a short week, this is a letdown spot for Jon Gruden’s Raiders after last Monday night’s home win over the Broncos on the back of Doug Martin’s tough running and Dwayne Harris’ clever 99-yard return-game score after Denver failed to down Colby Wadman’s punt at the one-yard line. The Raiders have significant home-away scoring splits, averaging 22.4 points per game at The Black Hole versus 15.4 on the road. Kansas City’s scoring allowance is even more lopsided, permitting 34.3 PPG outside of Arrowhead versus 20.1 in K.C. The Chiefs’ fantasy D/ST is a better Week 17 play than most Raiders skill-position players; 9 of the last 12 defenses to face Oakland tallied top-11 scores, while the Chiefs rank second in the NFL in sacks (49), and the Raiders have allowed the league’s fifth-most sacks (49). … Albeit scoreless since Week 5, Jordy Nelson established himself as Derek Carr’s go-to guy in the last month by averaging nine targets per game, out-targeting Jared Cook 36 to 26, and ranking 23rd among wide receivers in Air Yards (322) with six catches in four straight, including a ten-catch, 97-yard Week 13 effort against Kansas City. Underpriced on DFS sites relative to his WR2-caliber usage, Nelson is my favorite game-stack option on the Raiders’ side in what may be the 33-year-old’s final NFL game.

Score Prediction: Chiefs 40, Raiders 17

LA Chargers @ Denver
Team Totals: Chargers 24, Broncos 17.5

Phillip Lindsay’s broken wrist narrows the Broncos’ backfield from three to two, with Royce Freeman promoted to lead runner and Devontae Booker handling passing downs. Freeman’s Week 17 matchup is unimposing; depleted by defensive line and linebacker injuries, the Chargers permitted a crisp 80/365/5 (4.56 YPC) rushing line to enemy backs in their last four games. Freeman’s nonexistent receiving role makes him one of the NFL’s most game-script-dependent backs, however, with just 10 targets in 13 appearances and two receptions since Week 5. Freeman likely needs the Broncos to stay close on the scoreboard to pay off. Booker is a PPR sleeper with 33 catches on 44 targets facing a Chargers defense allowing the NFL’s sixth-most receiving yards per game to enemy backs (54.7). The Bolts are favored by nearly a touchdown, and Booker will benefit if his team is trailing. … Whereas outside WRs Courtland Sutton and Tim Patrick have swapped productive games and will catch Bolts top CB Casey Hayward on more snaps, DaeSean Hamilton has been Case Keenum’s steadiest weapon with a team-high 30 targets in three games since Emmanuel Sanders’ Achilles’ tear, catching six-plus balls in each. Hamilton’s Week 17 matchup is also most forgiving against Chargers slot CB Desmond King, who has big-time playmaking ability but has been charged with the NFL’s seventh-most receptions allowed (55) by PFF. Hamilton is the top PPR play in the Broncos’ pass-catcher corps and, like Booker, would benefit if they fall behind.

As the Chargers still stand a long-shot chance at the AFC’s No. 1 seed with a win at Denver and Raiders upset of the Chiefs, Anthony Lynn’s team will play Week 17 at full tilt, especially important following last week’s home loss to Baltimore. Denver has been reduced to spoiler after barely showing up for last Monday night’s embarrassing Black Hole defeat, while soon-fired Broncos coach Vance Joseph is already being talked about as Cincinnati’s next defensive coordinator. … Melvin Gordon returned from his three-game MCL sprain for 15 touches on 67% of the snaps against the Ravens, losing situational passing-game work to Justin Jackson as part of being eased back in but dominating carries with 12 to Jackson’s one. Austin Ekeler’s (stingers/concussion) return will likely render Jackson irrelevant again. Gordon draws a Broncos run defense that has come undone lately, surrendering 80-plus rushing yards to an individual back in four straight games, including Doug Martin’s season-best effort (21/107/1) on Monday night. His passing-game role likely to expand going forward, Gordon’s DFS ownership rate will likely be lower than his ceiling warrants as a feature back on a team favored by nearly a touchdown in an unimposing matchup. Gordon pounded Joseph’s defense for 156 yards on 24 touches in these clubs’ Week 11 date.

Keenan Allen returned from his hip pointer as a full-time Week 16 player, drawing eight targets on his usual 94% playing-time clip. Allen’s box-score results disappointed as the Ravens’ defense harassed Philip Rivers into year lows in yards (181) and yards per attempt (4.9), failing to throw a touchdown pass for the first time since Week 3 of last season. A Week 17 bounce back is likely; Rivers torched Joseph’s defense for his second-highest yardage total of the year (401) in Week 11 with Allen capitalizing for 9/89/1 receiving on a team-high 12 targets, even as stud slot CB Chris Harris chased him for most of the game. Harris (broken leg) is done for the season, forcing the Broncos to play musical chairs in the slot. S Justin Simmons took a Week 15 turn, then was replaced by career perimeter CB Bradley Roby last week with journeyman Tramaine Brock and rookie Isaac Yiadom on the boundaries. For Allen, this is a plus draw in a spot where one of the NFL’s best receivers appears likely to go overlooked in DFS. … Antonio Gates is worth mentioning based on his low DFS cost, matchup, and increasing role. The Broncos have surrendered the NFL’s fifth-most fantasy points to tight ends, including Gates’ season-best 5/80/1 line in Week 11. Kept in bubble wrap all year, Gates’ stretch-run role has expanded dramatically. He set season highs in snaps (67%) and routes run (31) in last week’s loss and has five targets in back-to back games.

Score Prediction: Chargers 27, Broncos 20

Chicago @ Minnesota
Team Totals: Vikings 22.5, Bears 18

The Vikings win and they’re in after taking care of Week 16 business in 27-9 fashion over Detroit, setting up Mike Zimmer’s team to control its own destiny. Conceivably, the Bears could rest starters if the Rams put a big early number on the 49ers, thus locking Chicago into the NFC's No. 3 seed. Pragmatically, the Vikings are 2018’s most-desperate team, facing a Bears squad that maintains No. 2 NFC-seed aspirations if the Rams choke. … Over the last month, Dalvin Cook’s touch counts improved to 17 > 18 > 20 > 19 following a sustained-underutilized period. Cook has also caught at least three balls in eight of his last ten games. As running-back matchup advantages are nonexistent against the Bears, Cook is purely a bet-on-volume RB2 play on a 20-plus-touch projection. … Both Vikings wideouts are in underrated Week 17 spots, but Stefon Diggs’ historical production against the Bears stands out as vastly superior to Adam Thielen’s. Whereas Diggs has torched DC Vic Fangio’s defense for receiving lines of 13/126/1 – 6/65/1 – 8/76/1 – 3/55/2 – 6/95/1 in five career meetings, Thielen’s corresponding box-score results versus Chicago are 7/66/0 – 6/61/0 – 5/34/0 – 1/7/0 – 3/40/0. As Fangio’s defense is missing stud slot CB Bryce Callahan (broken foot) and has quietly allowed the NFL’s fourth-most catches (14.0) and tenth-most yards (170.2) per game to enemy receivers, both Diggs and Thielen are playable WR2s at likely-low DFS ownership.

No Bears skill players stand out as enticing Week 17 DFS plays in tough matchup at Minnesota choosing from a deep offense where Chicago fields a toolsy but up-and-down quarterback (Mitchell Trubisky), two running backs (Jordan Howard, Tarik Cohen), three wideouts (Allen Robinson, Anthony Miller, Taylor Gabriel) and two tight ends (Trey Burton, Adam Shaheen) all capable of sporadic box-score noise. In these clubs’ Week 11 date, Howard led Chicago in rushing (18/63/0) and Gabriel in receiving (7/52/0). Robinson (ribs) was listed as doubtful on Friday, forcing Josh Bellamy into three-receiver sets.

Score Prediction: Vikings 21, Bears 20


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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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