Welcome to the Fantasy Football Forecast! My goal with this weekly column is to get you actionable information as quickly as possible, and by that, I mean with a lot of charts instead of words. The first part of the column are my league-wide charts to visualize trends in matchups, and then I take a team-by-team approach to preview matchups. As always, hit me up on Twitter @HaydenWinks if you have questions.
Friendly Fantasy Offenses: Chiefs
Unfriendly Fantasy Offenses: Packers, Titans
Minimal Pressure: Patrick Mahomes
Recommended Defenses: KC, SF
Bad Slot Matchups: Geronimo Allison
Bad RB Matchups: Aaron Jones
Chiefs (30.25 projected points, -7.5 spread) vs. TEN
Passing: Of the four remaining teams, the Chiefs have the fastest-paced offense, are projected to be under the least amount of pass-rush pressure, and are expected to score the most points (30.25). It’s safe to crown them as the best passing offense left, and it’s not even close. Patrick Mahomes should feast on the Titans’ bottom 35th-percentile pass DVOA defense as the clear-cut QB1 overall, especially with his elite skill-position weapons... Travis Kelce will bring his 10-134-3 line into a matchup against a bottom 16th-percentile defense against fantasy tight ends... Tyreek Hill and the other WRs (Sammy Watkins, Demarcus Robinson, and Mecole Hardman) face a Tennessee defense that’s allowed the most PPR points on underneath passes, the second-most PPR points on deep passes, and the most PPR points in slot coverage of the four remaining teams. It’s a DFS tournament dream.
Rushing: Damien Williams was the only Chiefs running back to register a touch in the Divisional Round and should continue operating as a bell-cow back on an explosive offense. Williams has a 4-6 target projection and will handle all goal-line work. Of the four remaining teams, the Titans have allowed the second-most PPR points through the air to RBs. I won’t be surprised if he’s the RB1 overall this weekend.
49ers (27.0 projected points, -7.5 spread) vs. GB
Passing: Jimmy Garoppolo and the passing attack are at the mercy of the gameplan and scoreboard. I have some concerns this week because the 49ers are 7.5-point home favorites against an above-average pass defense and defensive line. Green Bay is a top 13th-percentile defense against fantasy quarterbacks and is above-average in pressure metrics. Garoppolo will need big plays or a closer than anticipated game to reach any sort of a ceiling... Of the passing-game playmakers, I like George Kittle the best. The Packers were completely average against tight ends this season, and Kittle already picked up a 6-129-1 versus them this regular season. He’s just behind Kelce in tight end projections... Deebo Samuel and Emmanuel Sanders will need touchdowns or the deep ball to pay off in DFS. Green Bay has allowed the fewest PPR points on underneath passes of the four remaining teams, yet have allowed the most points on deep targets. Ian Hartitz notes that CB Jaire Alexander didn’t travel with either receiver in their last matchup... Kendrick Bourne’s matchup in the slot is average. He’s the odd man out whenever the Niners go to two-TE or two-RB sets, so expect him to run a route on just about half of Garoppolo’s dropbacks.
Rushing: Tevin Coleman was the game-breaker last week (105-2 on 22 carries), but that’s by no means a lock to continue this week. Raheem Mostert was operating as the top back prior to his Divisional Round cramp -- he’s practicing in full this week -- and Matt Breida is still hanging around in the background. Coleman did score two touchdowns, however, so he does have the easiest path to a ceiling game. I’m expecting Coleman and Mostert to handle most of the RB touches quite evenly unless one starts earning more “hot hand” carries. As for their matchup, the Packers have allowed the most fantasy points to RBs on the ground of the four remaining teams and have a below-average run DVOA defense.
Forecast: Jimmy Garoppolo QB1/2, George Kittle elite TE1, Deebo Samuel WR3, Emmanuel Sanders WR3/4, Kendrick Bourne WR5, Tevin Coleman boom-or-bust RB1/2, Raheem Mostert boom-or-bust RB2, Matt Breida RB4
Titans (22.75 projected points, +7.5 spread) @ KC
Passing: Similar to the 49ers, Ryan Tannehill and the Titans’ passing game is subject to the scoreboard and how well Derrick Henry is running. This week, the Titans should pass more than they have in recent weeks because they’re 7.5-point road dogs, but the Chiefs Defense is far more vulnerable to running offenses than passing offenses. I expect the Titans to be on team #EstablishTheRun before they’re forced into catch-up mode. The other thing to note is the Titans’ unsustainable red zone offense, so it’s an offense to bet against if you believe in regression (you should)... At receiver, A.J. Brown is obviously the best bet on the team, although he’s got an uphill battle against the No. 3 defense against fantasy receivers. For Brown to win he’ll need to take advantage of the Chiefs’ trend of giving up production on underneath targets instead of trying to beat them on deep targets… Low aDOT receivers Corey Davis and Adam Humphries (questionable) may have efficient, low-volume games as punt play options in DFS tournaments… Jonnu Smith faces a bottom 22nd-percentile defense at stopping tight ends, and he has the athleticism to make a big play as a low-volume TE2.
Rushing: Well, Derrick Henry is officially a man amongst boys right now, running the purest I’ve ever seen a back run. His rushing rates are completely unsustainable -- nobody breaks off long runs like this -- but the volume is very bankable, so he’s still a strong RB1. Henry is a near-lock for 20 touches, sees all of the goal-line work, and catches a bottom 10th-percentile defense against fantasy running backs. He’s the highest projected non-QB on the slate.
Forecast: Ryan Tannehill boom-or-bust QB1/2, A.J. Brown boom-or-bust WR3, Corey Davis WR5, Adam Humphries (questionable) WR5, Tajae Sharpe WR5, Kalif Raymond WR5, Jonnu Smith upside TE2, Derrick Henry RB1, Dion Lewis RB4
Packers (19.5 projected points, +7.5 spread) @ SF
Passing: Aaron Rodgers only has three games this season with more than two touchdowns and has just four games with 300+ passing yards. His ceiling is capped now that he has a strong running game and below-average pass-catching talent. When he faced the 49ers earlier in the year, he threw for 104 yards and one touchdown on 34 attempts. He’s the lowest projected quarterback on the slate… Davante Adams is the only pass-catcher I want to roster on Green Bay this week. Adams is the only one with a bankable target share and might be the only one with NFL talent. Adams’ individual matchup is a slight problem, however. The 49ers are extremely stingy against deep passes and were a strong defense underneath as well. Adams is a volume-based WR1… Jimmy Graham remains touchdown-dependent as a secondary target with little juice left in his legs. The Niners’ top 10th-percentile defense against tight ends makes Jimmy an easy fade.
Rushing: Aaron Jones only lost one carry and one target to Jamaal Williams last week while operating as the bell-cow back. Jones projects for 10-15 carries and 3-5 targets as a volume-based RB1 in an unfriendly matchup. The Packers’ 19.5-point team total and +7.5-point spread are working against him, as is the 49ers’ top 7th-percentile defense against fantasy backs. Jones had 38 scoreless yards the last time he played San Francisco.
Forecast: Aaron Rodgers QB2, Davante Adams WR1, Allen Lazard (questionable) WR5, Geronimo Allison WR5, Jake Kumerow WR5, Marquez Valdes-Scantling WR5, Jimmy Graham touchdown-dependent TE2, Aaron Jones RB1/2, Jamaal Williams RB4