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Evan Silva

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Silva's Wild Card Matchups

Sunday, January 6, 2019


Sunday Wild Card Games

1:05 PM ET Game

LA Chargers @ Baltimore
Team Totals: Ravens 21.5, Chargers 19.5

After pounding these same Chargers for 159 rushing yards in a two-score win two games ago in L.A., the Ravens host Anthony Lynn’s club in a friendlier spot as home favorites facing a West Coast team headed east for a 1pm ET start. Baltimore’s weekly plan has never veered with Lamar Jackson at quarterback, going 6-1 as the NFL’s run-heaviest team, controlling clock, limiting opponent play volume, and allowing 18.1 points per game while facing some of the league’s top offenses (e.g. ATL, KC, TB, LAC). Week 17 hinted at a potential backfield shift, however; Kenneth Dixon out-touched Gus Edwards (13, 12) for the first time since Dixon came off I.R./return in Week 13, outgaining Edwards 119 to 76. Edwards still out-snapped Dixon 47% to 29% and ran well enough to remain lead back by a slight margin, but a near-even committee should now be expected. Playing mediocre run defense, the Chargers permitted a 102/439/5 (4.30 YPC) rushing line to enemy backs over their last five games. With seven targets to Edwards’ one over the past five weeks, Dixon stands to benefit more from Los Angeles’ allowance of an AFC-high 60.3 running back receiving yards per game. On Sunday-only slates, Edwards and Dixon are playable in the same DFS lineups against a Chargers defense that has lost LBs Jatavis Brown (ankle), Denzel Perryman (knee/hamstring), and LB Kyzir White (knee) to I.R., in addition to DT Corey Liuget (quad). … Lamar Jackson turned in his highest 2018 fantasy finish (QB5) in last week’s playoffs-clinching win over the Browns after tallying his lowest the week before against the Bolts (QB18). Jackson’s Week 17 peak came via two rushing TDs, landing below 180 passing yards for the sixth time in seven starts. Jackson must combine a big passing game with a big rushing game to reach his ceiling, and we haven’t seen it yet. All Ravens pass catchers remain weekly dice rolls on the NFL’s lowest-volume passing team.

Week 17’s Matchups column noted that teams facing the clock-bleeding Ravens average 10.9 fewer offensive plays per game, combining with Baltimore’s AFC-best defense to suck life out of opponents’ box-score results. The Browns proceeded to run 56 plays against the Ravens, 10.6 shy of Cleveland’s average. Another concern is Philip Rivers’ late-season funk, a tendency that dates back years. Rivers threw for 220 yards or fewer in 3-of-4 December starts with three straight multi-INT games to close out the year, keeping Baltimore’s D/ST firmly in play and rendering Rivers a low-floor DFS option. … Melvin Gordon battled hamstring, MCL, and ankle injuries from Week 6 on, costing him four full games and parts of four others. He hasn’t topped 15 touches since Week 11 and exited last week’s win with what’s believed to be a “mild” high ankle sprain on the same leg as Gordon’s knee injury. Gordon will play this game well short of 100% as a road underdog against a Ravens defense that held running backs to 81/289/1 (3.57 YPC) rushing over its final five games and allowed 80 total yards to just four individual backs all year. Baltimore also permitted the NFL’s third-fewest receiving yards per game to enemy backs (29.5). Austin Ekeler out-touched Justin Jackson eight to six and out-snapped him 15 to 12 in Week 17, and is the preferred dart throw for DFSers willing to gamble on a Gordon setback and/or limited role.

Rivers’ Weeks 16-17 target distribution: Keenan Allen 15; Jackson 10; Mike Williams 9; Antonio Gates 7; Gordon 6; Tyrell Williams 5; Travis Benjamin 4; Virgil Green 3; Ekeler 1. … Allen returned from his Week 15 hip pointer to lead the Bolts in targets, catches (9), and receiving yards (122) in their final two regular season games, running over 70% of his routes in the slot. The best area to attack Baltimore’s defense is in the middle of the field, where fellow slot WR Jarvis Landry (5/102/1) had his way with the Ravens last week. … DC Wink Martindale’s defense kept Allen (5/58/0), Tyrell (1/12/0), and Mike (1/7/0) in check in these clubs’ Week 16 meeting. Although both Williamses are high-risk Wild Card plays against sturdy Ravens perimeter CBs Jimmy Smith and Marlon Humphrey, Mike is the preferred option after collecting four more targets and 107 more Air Yards than Tyrell with Allen back in Weeks 16-17. Even rotational shot-play specialist Benjamin (81) and geriatric Gates (51) drew more Air Yards than Tyrell (32) in the final two games. Ultimately, Chargers pass catchers beyond Allen are all tournament-only DFS gambles with painfully low floors and touchdown dependency. … The same goes for Hunter Henry, who apparently has a chance to play on a “pitch count” against the Ravens after not appearing in a single 2018 game following May ACL surgery. Assuming he plays – hardly guaranteed -- Henry would work in a three-way rotation with Gates and Green. Gates would become a touchdown-or-bust punt if Henry sits.

Score Prediction: Ravens 24, Chargers 20

4:40 PM ET Game

Philadelphia @ Chicago
Team Totals: Bears 23.5, Eagles 17.5

Mitchell Trubisky makes his playoffs debut against an Eagles defense that struggled versus dual-threat quarterbacks all year, yielding fantasy results of QB1 (Dak Prescott), QB2 (Deshaun Watson), QB3 (Cam Newton), QB7 (Marcus Mariota), QB9 (Dak again), and QB12 (Blake Bortles) to fellow mobile passers. Despite missing two games, Trubisky finished fifth at his position in rushing yards (421) with a 6.2 per-carry average, higher than every QB who out-rushed him save Josh Allen (7.1). His pass-catcher corps intact after a late-season injury swoon, Trubisky’s ceiling is as high as any signal caller’s on this slate. Trubisky accounted for 27 all-purpose touchdowns this season; 21 came at home and just six on the road. … Philadelphia’s run defense was a Jekyll & Hyde unit down the stretch, clocked for 5.76 yards per carry and seven rushing TDs by enemy backs in Weeks 10-15 before easily eliminating the Lamar Miller-less Texans and dead Redskins in its final two games. Even if the quality of his matchup is unclear, Jordan Howard’s spot and usage are straightforward as by-far Week 18’s biggest home-favorite lead runner averaging 19.3 touches in Chicago’s last four games with four rushing scores in the last three. As a 230-pound power back capable of wearing down defenses late in games and late in seasons, it may not come as a surprise Howard averages 4.56 career yards per carry and 0.8 rushing TDs per game in December and January. His per-carry average is just 4.21 with 0.4 TDs in September, October, and November. … Tarik Cohen remains coach Matt Nagy’s most-lethal matchup-exploiting weapon. The Eagles were hurt by catch-first running backs all year, permitting the NFL’s fourth-most receptions (6.9) and seventh-most receiving yards (52.8) to Howard and Cohen’s position. As Cohen finished 2018 third among NFL running backs in receiving yards (725) and fourth in touchdown catches (5), he is every bit stackable with Trubisky in DFS lineups.

Despite missing Week 17 with a rib injury, Allen Robinson led the Bears in Air Yards (220), targets per game (7.7), and receiving yards (181) in the month of December and is the top DFS play in Chicago’s wideout corps against Philadelphia’s depleted secondary. The Eagles start diminutive fourth-round rookie Avonte Maddox at left corner, journeyman Cre’Von LeBlanc at slot corner, and 2017 third-rounder Rasul Douglas at right corner after losing their entire first-team nickel package to injury. … Trey Burton’s 191 Air Yards ranked second on the Bears in Weeks 14-17, and his 5.8 targets per game were also second behind Robinson. Facing his former team, Burton is purely an opportunity-based play after the Eagles allowed the NFL’s eighth-fewest yards per game (41.1) to tight ends. … Taylor Gabriel averaged 4.3 targets for 36 yards in the last month, ranking third on the team in Air Yards (118). He is a low-cost, matchup-based option with 4.4-flat speed facing a Philly defense that permitted the league’s third-most completions of 20-plus yards (60). … Anthony Miller re-dislocated his shoulder in Chicago’s regular season finale. As Nagy incorporated more of No. 2 TE Adam Shaheen in two-tight end sets and used less three-receiver personnel, Miller took a late-season backseat before the re-injury, managing 16 total Air Yards in all of December. … Shaheen’s playing time rose steadily in Weeks 13-17 (29% > 31% > 45% > 45% > 57%), mostly blocking and averaging 9.8 routes run per game. At 6-foot-6, 278, Shaheen looks the part of a touchdown vulture, but just one of his six targets came in the red zone in 2018.

A top-15 fantasy passer in just 1-of-5 starts, Nick Foles will gut out bruised ribs to face a Chicago defense that permitted top-15 scores to one of its last ten quarterbacks faced, including notable shutdowns of Jared Goff (QB32), Kirk Cousins (QB20), and Aaron Rodgers (QB18) in the last month. Only the Vikings and Bills allowed fewer fantasy points to signal callers over the course of the year. With almost no data points working in his favor, Foles is a hope-based DFS-tournament play with a basement-low floor who did show he is capable of outkicking expectations during last January’s magical postseason run. … The Eagles went with a full-fledged three-way RBBC down the stretch. In Foles’ Weeks 15-17 starts, Wendell Smallwood’s touch counts were uneven (12 – 5 – 16), Josh Adams (15 – 11 – 14) was touchdown reliant with minimal passing-game involvement, and Darren Sproles (6 – 12 – 9) ran a backfield-high 55 pass routes, playing 40.6% of the snaps. The Bears allowed the NFL’s fewest fantasy points to running backs in 2018. Sproles would be the best sleeper of the bunch with the Eagles projected to play from behind.

Foles’ Weeks 15-17 target distribution: Zach Ertz 27; Alshon Jeffery 18; Nelson Agholor 15; Golden Tate 14; Sproles 13; Smallwood 10; Dallas Goedert 8; Adams 5; Jordan Matthews 4. … Just one tight end all year cleared 50 yards against the Bears – George Kittle, who managed 74 scoreless yards on 11 targets in Week 16 – while Ertz’s 2018 receiving lines were all over the place in Foles’ starts at 5/48/0 – 11/94/0 – 3/22/0 – 12/110/2 – 3/15/0. Ertz is a fade-matchup, bet-on talent Week 18 play. … As DC Vic Fangio will likely assign double teams to Ertz, ex-Bear Jeffery should have single-coverage opportunities in this revenge game. Whereas Foles has completed an absurd 76% of his passes at 11.6 yards per attempt with an 8.6% touchdown rate on targets to Jeffery over the past two seasons, his rate stats are 67%, 6.6 YPA, and 3.8% to everyone else. Alshon has 80-plus yards and/or a touchdown in 6-of-8 career games with Foles. Nails against tight ends and running backs, the 2018 Bears quietly permitted the NFL’s fifth-most catches per game to wideout units (13.9). … Agholor ranked third behind Ertz and Jeffery in Air Yards (132) in Weeks 15-17 and even led the team in touchdowns (3) in that span, giving Agholor some sleeper life against a Bears secondary that lost stud slot CB Bryce Callahan to a broken foot in Week 14. Agholor ran a team-high 53 slot routes in Foles’ final three starts. Tate ran 42. … With Fangio likely scheming to take Ertz away, Goedert is a sneaky DFS-tournament play on a brutal Wild Card tight end slate. As the Eagles resumed embracing two-tight end sets down the stretch, Goedert out-snapped Tate 130 to 91 with Foles at the Weeks 15-17 controls, catching 8-of-8 targets for 69 yards and a touchdown.

Score Prediction: Bears 27, Eagles 17



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



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