No other week in recent memory compares to what we dealt with last week. Between the Thanksgiving schedule impact, the extensive list of COVID positives, and the Ravens at Steelers game being played on Wednesday afternoon following three schedule changes, fantasy aficionados were forced to remain glued to news reports all week. If you include the preposterous weekly Saturday morning inactive search involved with CFB DFS, your head was likely left spinning. Don’t get too comfortable. The late Baltimore-Pittsburgh game forced the NFL to move Washington-Pittsburgh to Monday & Dallas-Baltimore to Tuesday. And the NFL handed down six-game bans to Bradley Roby and Will Fuller V. Madness.
Before I jump into the analysis, I want to point out a few relevant components of this research. First of all, this is a guide centered around playing the percentages. No matter how much data we have in our laps, nobody can predict when Tyreek Hill will decide to go nuclear for 60.9 FPs against one of the better secondaries in the NFL (Tampa Bay). However, he did receive an up arrow when Jamel Dean was ruled inactive. Since this article is written earlier in the week, it is very important to take note of all defensive back inactives if you plan to use my recommendations or when tailing my ATS and/or over/under picks. QBs and receivers can have their fortunes flip on their heads as a result of these absences, shifting target/sit to sit/target situations.
No matter how much a player has struggled when facing a coverage shell/s, sheer volume can absolutely overcome some of that fantasy scoring downside. Before you put your fist through a wall upon seeing, for example, a receiver included in the avoid list post 100 receiving yards, it would help to (1) check the post-game injury report to see if his difficult counterpart was forced out/limited, and (2) watch the actual plays to see if that receiver was able to shake his difficult shadow -- common within significantly negative game scripts. If I mention weather as an impacting consideration, make sure you check the updated gameday forecast.
Specifically for this week, without the ability to collect my Week 12 data on Baltimore and Pittsburgh, when I mention team rankings below, that placement will be limited to their ranking in relation to the 30 remaining NFL teams where I was able to collect updated statistics. We have an exciting collection of Week 13 games, let’s dive in head first.
Against the Spread Picks (10-3 ATS)
Miami Dolphins (-11.5) vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Tennessee Titans (-5.5) vs. Cleveland Browns
Indianapolis Colts (-3.0) vs. Houston Texans
Baltimore Ravens (-7.0) vs. Dallas Cowboys
New Orleans Saints (-3.0) at Atlanta Falcons
Chicago Bears (-3.0) vs. Detroit Lions
Las Vegas Raiders (-8.0) vs. New York Jets
Total Wagers (3-4)
San Francisco 49ers at Buffalo Bills (Under 48.0)
New York Jets at Las Vegas Raiders (Under 47.5)
Houston Texans at Indianapolis Colts (Under 51.5)
Matchup of the Week
Davante Adams, GB ($9.0K DK | $9.5K FD) vs. Darius Slay, PHI
For an athlete with Davante Adams’ explosion,training regimen, it’ll either take an injury, or elite game-planning to slow him down. A bum hamstring removed Adams from play for half of Week 2, all of Week’s 3 & 4. He also dealt with an ankle injury last week may have played a role in limiting him to a 6/61/1 line. The only example we have of a team successful in their efforts to contain a healthy Adams came in Week 6 at Tampa Bay. Carlton Davis held Adams to 3/33/0 thanks to utilizing eight different schemes that included bracketing him with Jamel Dean’s assistance. The multitude of shells they threw at Aaron Rodgers led to a pair of INTs, 4.6 yards/attempt (YPA), and a completion percentage of 46 percent.
For Darius Slay, he is coming off the worst result from his 2020 season, surrendering 8/158/0 of D.K. Metcalf’s 10/177/0 total line. At this point, Metcalf is nearly matchup-proof. Especially when you consider Seattle’s disturbing trend of reverting back to their run-heavy approach, failing to #LetRussCook. On thisplay, the Eagles made the disastrous mistake of even throwing Cover 3 shells at Wilson. However, Slay is not at fault here. The blame is on FS Rodney McLeod who is caught biting down on … nothing, leaving Slay out to dry on the post when he should’ve had safety help.
Here we have Slay in man, doing absolutely everything humanly possible to slow down the athletic freak of nature. It doesn'twork. On thisplay, Slay is so concerned about his opponent’s elite speed that he just hands him 14 yards on a routine slant. Finally, anotherplay with Slay gift-basketing Metcalf with a massive cushion on a crosser to bring the Seahawks down inside the five. Slay should have cut inside this fade route by Cody Parkinson to avoid the rub that pushed him further downfield.Knowing how hard “bigplay24slay” is on himself, he’ll be furious upon studying this tape.
We also have an NFL Game Pass Film Session featuring Adams. He really highlights his football IQ while describing his ability to use 4.4-speed to succeed when facing 4.3 defenders in man coverage by utilizing a nasty array of double moves. Adams may simply be the most efficient safety manipulator in the game. In the video, he explains how he crafted his techniques from the great Jerry Rice. As for this matchup, Adams missed a chunk of practice time prior to Week 12, but he showed zero signs of it slowing him down.
Slay, who you can also hear giving props to Adams’ devastating double moves in his Film Session, may find himself with another reason to be hard on himself. Adams ranks second among all WRs with 0.75 FPs/route (FPRt) -- a 38 percent spike to his overall average -- and third in yards/route run (YPRR, 3.61) over his last 23 games facing Cover 1. The Metcalf coverage really made a dent in Slay’s numbers. He’s now ranked 96th with 1.43 yards/cover snap (YPCS, CB average is 1.47), 76th with 0.28 FPs/coverage snap (FPCS, CB average is 0.31), and 34th with 0.217 air yards/coverage snap (AYCS, CB average is 0.687). I am targeting Adams for a big game in excess of the 27.0/28.5 FPs we’ll need for ROI on his $9K/9.5K salaries.
Matchups to Target
Aaron Rodgers, GB ($6.8K DK | $8.5K FD) vs. Eagles’ Cover 1
Since I’ve already revealed my plans for Davante Adams exposure, it’s likely obvious that I would also have Aaron Rodgers as a Week 13 target. Somehow, the “King in the North” comes in with the seventh-highest salary on DK, fifth-highest on FD despite ranking first in FPs/dropback (FPDb, 0.568), and second with 22.6 pure passing FPG this season. Since “Cheesus” can be found with a top QB salary each week, I’ve waited to feature him as a recommendation until he faced the perfect stylistic matchup on paper. It is precisely that time. ARod -- not my favorite of his nicknames, for the record -- is at his absolute best when facing Cover 1, 4, or 6 shells. That said, he ranks within the top-20 QBs when facing every damn scheme known to man. So, we’re kind of splitting hairs.
We can expect Philadelphia to continue to field Cover 1 at the league’s second-highest rate (45 percent). He’ll also see a mix of some Cover 0 during all-out blitzes, and Cover 2, 3, and 4 zones in extremely obvious passing situations. However, we only need to know his history when facing Cover 1 since the other shells will be game script-dependent. When facing Cover 1 over his last 29 games, “Mr. Rodgers” has provided an 8.4 percent increase to his YPA, and averages 0.42 FPDb (4th).
Kirk Cousins, MIN ($6.4K DK | $7.3K FD) vs. Jaguars’ Cover 1 | 3
If you haven’t noticed, Kirk Cousins has begun to make strides against the zone coverages that have somewhat stalled his career. I’ll save analysis on any improvements against Cover 2 and 6 for relevant matchups but, for Week 13, I’ll take a look at recent developments against Cover 3. Since facing Seattle in Week 5, Cousins has passed for a 5/2 TD/INT ratio on plays opposed by Cover 3. On the season, he’s found 7.8 YPA, and 9.4 air yards/attempt. In comparison, that’s a 12 percent increase in Cousins’ YPA, and 11 percent in air yards per attempt. If he can maintain those improvements against the NFLs second-most common secondary shell (Cover 1 being the most common), Cousins could take a step toward elite-status. The Jaguars are playing Cover 3 at the 10th-highest rate.
All of that said, Minnesota eyeballed his ludicrous Cover 1 success when they signed him to a fully guaranteed three-year, $84 million contract prior to the 2018 season. In 28 games since the start of 2019 opposed by Cover 1, Cousins ranks first overall with 0.56 FPDb, first with a 112.8 passer rating, and along with a 20 percent increase in YPA. On 22 percent of dropbacks over that same time, he’s converted 29 percent of his yardage, and 35 percent of his total TDs. His upcoming opponent, Jacksonville, is allowing the third-most FPG to QBs (22.0), and second-most pure passing FPG (18.4).
The absences of Sidney Jones and C.J. Henderson the last two weeks have removed any trace of stability from the secondary. However, Jones, a bona fide breakout for the Jags, did practice on a limited basis on Wednesday.
His presence would help … a little, but Jacksonville’s non-existent pass rush will remain. The most significant barrier to the passing offense exploding on Sunday is its own ground game. Playing from the fifth-slowest pace (63.8 plays/game), fourth-highest percentage of run plays, the Vikings’ run success already shut the passing offense down in a prime spot in Week 9 against Detroit. However, Dalvin Cook is banged up, not injured, just sore. That is the type of news that could indicate an increase in passing volume. The Jaguars are already allowing the highest YPA (8.2), ninth-highest rate of 20-or-more yards completions (14.8 percent), and 10th-highest of 40-or-more (2.7 percent). Cook, possibly even Alexander Mattison, will eat, but Cousins and his receiving group should be at the very top of your DFS core this week.
Deebo Samuel, SF ($6.3K DK | $6.0K FD) vs. Levi Wallace, BUF
Difficult to even imagine the number of people who saw that Deebo Samuel produced an 11/133/0 day against the Rams, and assumed it came at the expense of Jalen Ramsey. That would most definitely be a great narrative for the 49ers’ side of reporting, but it simply didn’t happen. Ramsey tweaked his hip in pre-game warmups that limited him to 69 percent of snaps.
From the very first snap, it was entirely obvious that Ramsey wasn’t 100 percent. He wound up rotating out with David Long Jr.. That’s not to take anything away from Samuel. He showed no sign of wear following a three-game absence. In fact, he proved just as explosive, difficult to tackle as the receiver we saw during San Francisco’s Super Bowl LIV run last season.
Samuel forced six tackles during his 11 receptions. One play really stood out. While Samuel begins this play within the coverage of Troy Hill, the responsibility on thisJet Sweep to the boundary falls on the contain defender Darious Williams. As symbolically circled in red on that play, nobody in the Rams’ secondary could match Samuel’s physicality. While the Bills do roster such an athlete, Tre'Davious White, Buffalo has decided against traveling White with opposing No. 1’s.
Deebo will actually see a variety of defenders on Sunday. Big mistake. The Bills’ Cover 1 and 4 secondary did very well to limit Keenan Allen to 4/40/1 in Week 12. However, the Chargers proved to be their own worst enemy with some of the worst clock management I’ve seen all season. Considering that the 49ers essentially featured Samuel, I’d be on him this week without supplementary analytics. That said, Samuel has done his best work over his career against Cover 1 (0.40 FPRt) and Cover 4 (0.39 FPRt) shells.
Did you take notice of that schematic fit? A total of 13 targets is going to push any top-30 WR toward high upside. The fact that Samuel averaged only 0.4 air yards/target shows us he just needs a quick toss to the flat or on a Jet pitch to get it done. It should come as zero surprise to learn that Samuel leads the league with 12.93 yards after the catch/reception this season. Don’t hesitate to fire up Samuel in Week 13, just be prepared to see the savvy DFSers follow suit after his big performance.
Cooper Kupp, LAR ($6.1K DK | $6.6K FD) vs. Byron Murphy, ARI
No receiver in play in Week 13 excites me more, sans a pair of Minnesota wideouts, than Cooper Kupp. Even better, Kupp was limited to 2/41/0 last week to a San Francisco defense that just got Richard Sherman back in the fold. That down game resulted in a $300 drop in salary, $500 since Week 11. Kupp ranks outside of the top-40 WRs when facing every coverage shell … except … Cover 1. Not the worst specialty to possess. When Kupp has faced the man coverage during his last 27 games, Kupp ranks sixth in the NFL with 0.65 FPRt. In fact, that success has pushed his overall FPRt (0.46) to the 11th-best ranking.
His Cover 1 accomplishments include the fifth-highest average YPRR (3.26) -- a 61 percent bump, and 16 percent increase in air yards/target. On 21 percent of routes facing Cover 1 over that same time, Kupp has found 34 percent of his yardage, and 33 percent of TDs. He ranks eighth with a 26 percent target share, 12th with 8.8 targets/game in 2020. While I’ve listed Byron Murphy across from him, it will not be a shadow. The Cardinals are permitting the tenth-most FPG to WRs (39.4) that has worsened to second-most (51.3) over the last four. With a reasonable ownership percentage, it would be wise to get a piece of Kupp in this excellent matchup.
Michael Thomas, NO ($7.0K DK | $7.2K FD) vs. Darqueze Dennard, ATL
Speaking of WRs whose production from the previous week led to a salary drop, Michael Thomas fits the bill. The odds are stacked against seeing a repeat of what happened with the Broncos’ offense in Week 12. Having the entire Denver QB room forced onto the reserve/COVID-19 list was nothing short of jaw-dropping. To see a player who completely face-planted as a college QB, Kendall Hinton, switching to WR, then using that WR experience to earn a practice squad spot, and ultimately start an NFL game is outlandish. However, that is precisely what took place.
We ended up with the Saints running the ball on two-thirds of offensive snaps. Increasing that involvement curve, Taysom Hill only attempted 16 passes during the 31-3 blowout. Nobody from either passing offense succeeded from a DFS perspective without supplemental rushing statistics. Although, Thomas did continue his stranglehold of the Saints’ targets with a 46 percent target share. Only adding to our preparation, these teams just met in Week 11. That contest was actually Hill’s first career start, and resulted in Julio Jones’s current hamstring ailment.
Why should we expect anything different from a second clash between these teams? To be honest, for Thomas’ outlook, nothing needs to change. “CantGuardMike” constructed a 9/104/0 line within the coverage of Darqueze Dennard and A.J. Terrell. A repeat of that result would more than cover floor value on both platforms. But I am anticipating an even better result. Now that Thomas has four-straight games behind him, he’ll be able to call upon his 0.71 FPRt when facing Cover 1 (5th), 0.48 vs. Cover 2 (5th), and 0.53 vs. Cover 3 (8th). Atlanta’s secondary features Cover 1 (34 percent), 2 (20 percent) and 3 (34 percent) shells.
Justin Jefferson, MIN ($6.9K DK | $7.7K FD) vs. Tre Herndon, JAX
Adam Thielen, MIN ($ DK | $ FD) vs. Luq Barco, JAX
As alluded to above, these are the two WR plays I’m most excited about for Week 13. That shouldn’t come as a surprise at all after explaining the reasons why I’m also on Kirk Cousins. If we even get a hint of the possibility of Dalvin Cook being limited late in the week, we would have the green flag for Cousins-Adam Thielen-Justin Jefferson triple stacks. Since not much has changed to their Cover 1 metrics, gohere for specific success analytics against the man coverage shell for Jefferson and Thielen.
For a perfect representation of how this duo has abused Cover 1, check out these Next Gen Stats’ (NGS) graphics from Week 10 forThielen, and Week 11 forJefferson. The keys for both TDs are separation. Thielen is able to separate (0.7 yards) and work to the outside of Buster Skrine’s outside leverage … a big no-no. For Jefferson’s TD, he flows with the direction of Anthony Brown’s outside leverage, toward the single-high safety, but is able to sprint past him for 0.8 yards of separation, and back to the boundary on the fade.
We may see a couple snaps from Jacksonville within a Cover 2-Man scheme, but these examples will make up the bulk of looks from the Jags. Very specifically, Thielen and Jefferson have utilized go’s, posts, fades, and blaze routes to deconstruct Cover 1 at 20-or-more yards. Inside 20 yards, they’ve gone with outs, crossers, digs, and slants. Regardless of who Jacksonville populates their secondary with, these Vikings’ WRs will have a distinct advantage. It doesn’t hurt that the Jaguars are allowing the eighth-most FPG to WRs this season (40.4).
Jonnu Smith, TEN ($4.1K DK | $5.7K FD) vs. Karl Joseph, CLE
I’ve been very critical of Jonnu Smith’s outlook in recent weeks. Considering he’s faced the Colts twice, Ravens, and Bears over the last four weeks, I stand firmly behind that analysis. Smith is finally heading into a spot with arrows pointing upward. A date with the Browns should provide Smith with plenty of room to work. Cleveland’s Cover 3 and 4 schemes have permitted opposing TEs to average the second-most FPG (15.7).
The most significant factor against Smith’s success will be his health after missing practice on Wednesday with a new knee injury. When Smith has faced Cover 1 schemes since Week 1 of 2019 on 23 percent of routes, he’s collected 24 percent of yardage, and 31 percent of his total TDs. With the way Derrick Henry has been running the ball, Smith will be an afterthought of the Browns’ defense next to A.J. Brown and Corey Davis.
Kyle Rudolph, MIN ($3.4K DK | $5.0K FD) vs. Andrew Wingard, CLE
Irv Smith Jr., MIN ($3.2K DK | $4.9K FD) vs. Andrew Wingard, CLE
My love for the Week 13 Minnesota passing offense wouldn’t be complete without their TEs. To be clear, I would NOT consider stacking both TEs. This tout begins with Irv Smith Jr.. Smith has been held out the last two weeks with a groin injury. However, this news dropped this afternoon:
Not a very compelling outlook for Smith. One man’s loss is another man’s opportunity. In this case, we have Kyle Rudolph. While I would not hesitate adding exposure to either option, the supporting metrics aren’t the best indicators of these favorable circumstances. It’s simply an opportunity to tail our exposure to Kirk Cousins and one of his WRs in cash/SE, or in a GPP quadruple stack with a TE punt. You could do much, much worse.
Other matchups to consider:
Ryan Tannehill, TEN ($6.2K DK | $7.8K FD) vs. Browns’ Cover 3 | 4
Taysom Hill, NO ($6.3KK DK | $7.7KK FD) vs. Falcons’ Cover 1 | 2 | 3
Jared Goff, LAR ($5.8K DK | $7.2K FD) vs. Cardinals’ Cover 1
A.J. Brown, TEN ($7.6K DK | $8.2K FD) vs. Browns’ Cover 3 | 4
D.J. Chark, JAX ($5.4K DK | $6.3K FD) vs. Vikings’ Cover 2
Sterling Shepard, NYG ($5.3K DK | $5.6K FD) vs. Seahawks’ Cover 2 | 3
Matchups to Avoid
Deshaun Watson, HOU ($7.5K DK | $8.2K FD) vs. Colts’ Cover 2 | 6
The NFL was not kind to the Texans following their 41-25 Thanksgiving Day victory over the Lions. Six-game bans were handed out to both Bradley Roby and Will Fuller V. Outside of Deshaun Watson, Laremy Tunsil, and J.J. Watt, no other Houston player would be a more significant loss to the team overall. The secondary can now be targeted across all fantasy formats as very likely the worst unit in the league. For the offense, Watson should be fine over the ROS. But his Week 13 outlook is not good without his most dangerous receiving threat.
All things being equal, no single receiver is going to stall Watson as one of the top-four QBs in the NFL. All things are not equal. The Texans will face the Colts’ feared zone secondary in Week 13. After facing the Packers and Titans the last two weeks, some of their metrics have softened slightly. Some uncharacteristic mistakes were made in Week 11 to Green Bay’s offense in allowing them to score 31 points during Indianapolis’ three-point victory.
Last week, the absences of DeForest Buckner and Denico Autry opened up a massive hole for Derrick Henry to rack up 178 rushing yards, 41.5 FPs. Both DEs returned to practice on Wednesday, leaving zero vulnerabilities for Houston to exploit. Indy’s defense is limiting opposing QBs to the third-lowest FPG (14.8) and WRs to the seventh-fewest (33.0). Much of that success can be attributed to top-five tackling efficiency and a seamless combo collection of zone shells. Watson is priced as though he is in a smash spot. He is not. Far from it.
Matt Ryan, ATL ($5.6K DK | $7.4K FD) vs. Saints’ Cover 1 | 4
Should Matt Ryan get a healthy Julio Jones back on the field, it’ll be tough to bet against him. That said, the New Orleans defense has been a graveyard for fantasy production this season. The Saints are allowing the third-fewest FPG to entire offenses in 2020. They’ve limited opposing QBs to 15.5 FPG (4th-fewest), RBs to 16.7 FPG (3rd), and WRs to 33.9 FPG (9th). DC Dennis Allen’s crew has put a stranglehold on ground attacks, limiting them to only 76.6 YPG (2nd), and 0.45 TDs/game (1st).
Without the ability to move the ball on the ground, offenses are forced to take to the air. I wouldn’t consider the New Orleans secondary to be airtight, but they are much more efficient when facing offenses desperate for passing success. Reverting to their Cover 4 zone in reply, they force offenses into taking unnecessary risks. Unless the Falcons’ RBs are able to achieve in the face of what no other rushing attack has been able, Ryan appears to be walking into a trap. Taking a tourney dart on a Ryan stack isn’t the worst idea. Otherwise, it would be sensible to steer clear of him this week.
DeAndre Hopkins, ARI ($7.8K DK | $8.0K FD) vs. Jalen Ramsey, LAR
At this point in the season, maneuvering your way through the injury report is vital. That applies to defensive injuries, as well. The last we saw Jalen Ramsey, he was clearly hobbled by a hip strain against the 49ers. However, it appears his hip is feeling much better:
As for DeAndre Hopkins, after being held to 6.6 FPG over his career when facing Stephon Gilmore, Nuk was again limited to under seven FPs (5.6) in Gilmore’s coverage (10.5 FPs overall). Issues with the shadow coverage of Gilmore do not bode well for Hopkins’ chances against Ramsey.
The Ferrari of NFL zone shadow CBs, Ramsey has limited his WR1 responsibilities to 0.60 YPCS (5th), 0.14 FPCS (4th), and 0.145 AYCS (6th). If Hopkins were priced outside of the top-15 WRs, maybe. Priced at $7.8K/$8K, not a chance in hell.
Tyreek Hill, KC ($9.1K DK | $8.6K FD) vs. Bryce Callahan, DEN
What is this guy drinking? Right? Tyreek Hill just racked up 60.9 FPs on a 13/269/3 line against the Buccaneers in Week 13. An argument could even be made that Tampa Bay’s secondary is superior to Denver’s. That said, we don’t need the Broncos’ secondary to be better. We only need Bryce Callahan to be better, which I think he is. The reasoning behind my listing of “Cheetah” as a Week 13 fade is that he’ll face a much stiffer challenge from Callahan than he did from Carlton Davis. On top of that, Hill will need to generate 27.3/25.8 FPs before we see a single bit of value.
Do I think Tyreek holds 27.3/25.8 FP-upside? Of course. He’s gone for 25.8, 36.1, 30.0, and the obvious 60.9 FPs over his last four games. However, he failed to reach 22 FPs in any of the previous seven games. We could wager behind the idea Hill is simply hitting his stride, or that he faced the Jets, Panthers, Raiders, and banged-up Bucs during those four games. As for Callahan, he may be the most underappreciated CB in the entire game. He’s only allowing 0.52 YPCS (2nd), 0.12 FPCS (2nd), and 0.181 AYCS (30th). That latter statistic only highlights the lack of respect from opposing QBs. Do what you will with your cap dollars, I will be avoiding Hill like the plague this week, and especially on DK.
Update: Unfortunately for the Broncos, Callahan injured his left foot in Week 12 against the Falcons, and was placed on injured reserve. The injury is to the same surgically-repaired foot that caused him to miss the entire 2019 season. However, HC Vic Fangio claims it is a different injury. Regardless, we have the green light for exposure to Hill, especially on FanDuel.
Jarvis Landry, CLE ($6.2K DK | $6.0K FD) vs. Desmond King II, TEN
Woohoo! Jarvis Landry finally gave us a big game with an 8/143/1 line for 31.3 FPs. Is it time to get out Baker Mayfield-Landry stacks revved up? No, not even close. In fact, I threw up a bit in the back of my throat at the thought. It’s usually a pretty good idea to consider the opponent in these situations. The Jaguars were without both Sidney Jones and C.J. Henderson in Week 12. They were forced to defend Landry with the master coverage skills of Luq Barcoo. There’s zero shame if you’ve never heard the name mentioned in your lifetime.
It is also a good idea to consider the impending opponent. If you take a look at the Titans’ success against the slot, you’d find they’ve been somewhat relaxed. That said, Tennessee traded for Desmond King II right before the deadline. Within the same top-five of the most underappreciated CBs with Bryce Callahan, you’d find King’s name. Who’s this King guy? Just someone who has limited his responsibilities to 0.62 YPCS (6th), 0.12 FPCS (3rd), and 0.047 AYCS (1st). No Landry exposure for me in Week 13.
Brandin Cooks, HOU ($5.6K DK | $6.5K FD) vs. Colts’ Cover 2 | 6
With a recommendation to avoid Deshaun Watson, it would be within reason to apply the same to Brandin Cooks. However, as mentioned in the opening, enough volume can always trump the matchup. Should Watson send 12-15 targets Cooks’ way, he could actually be a tremendous value. That’s especially true for Cooks since his salary is modestly-priced compared to his running mate.
Since Cooks has run nearly half of his routes from outside right, he’ll receive a good amount of coverage from Rock Ya-Sin, the Colts’ most generous CB. But we’ll need Cooks to actually see that huge target share. We only have his Week 5 total of 12 targets as an example of reaching double-digits. Unfortunately, he’ll be defended by Indianapolis rather than Jacksonville. I’m not betting against Cook becoming the new No. 1 WR for Watson. I actually think it will happen. I am simply avoiding his Week 13 opponent.
Hunter Henry, LAC ($4.8K DK | $6.0K FD) vs. Kyle Duggar, NE
We finally saw some game-changing mistakes from Justin Herbert in Week 12. His over-reliance on Keenan Allen turned around to bite him, and his extremely poor mismanagement of the game clock cost the Chargers a chance for a comeback win. You’d think the return of Austin Ekeler would’ve actually given Herbert a boost. You’d be right. Ekeler was all over the place, putting maximum effort into every opportunity.
For Hunter Henry, he turned 10 targets into a 7/67/0 line. An entirely acceptable 13.7 FPs from the barren wasteland of TE production. Unfortunately, he’ll not be defended by the Buffalo defense that’s allowed the fourth-most FPG to TEs (15.4) in Week 13. In their place, the New England defense allowing only 9.2 FPG to TEs (sixth-best) and, specifically, Kyle Duggar. The rookie strong safety out of Lenoir-Rhyne has had an up-and-down season. However, he’s played a huge part in shutting opposing TEs out of the end zone over their last three games. We simply have better value TEs apart from Henry’s rising salaries.
Hayden Hurst, ATL ($4.0K DK | $5.6K FD) vs. Malcolm Jenkins, NO
Running 80 percent of team routes in nine-of-11 games, in addition to run blocking responsibilities, it’s not surprising that Hayden Hurst has become a weekly listing on Atlanta’s injury report. Hurst was clearly in considerable pain after landing awkwardly on his ankle in Week 11. Wednesday’s injury report indicates he’s now dealing with a knee injury. Hurst is a gamer, no doubt about it. We can expect the former first-round selection to play his full allotment of snaps in Week 13.
That said, playing at less than 100 percent is not going to help his chances in this spot. One of the most significant improvements from the New Orleans defense has been in coverage of TEs. They may be allowing 12.4 FPG to the position overall (18th-most), but they have simply shut down TEs over the last four. During that time, they are allowing 2.5 receptions (28th), 25.3 YPG (29th), and zero TDs/game. Hurst managed to see three targets in Week 11 against Malcolm Jenkins and these Saints, leading to a 0/0/0 line over 41 snaps. No thank you.
Other matchups to avoid:
Andy Dalton, DAL ($?K DK | $?K FD) vs. Ravens’ Cover 0 | 1 | 3
Carson Wentz, PHI ($5.4K DK | $7.3K FD) vs. Packers’ Cover 2 | 4 | 6
Daniel Jones, NYG ($5.5K DK | $7.1K FD) vs. Seahawks’ Cover 2 | 3
Alex Smith, WAS ($5.1K DK | $6.6K FD) vs. Steelers’ Cover 1 | 2 | 3
Stefon Diggs, BUF ($7.5K DK | $7.9K FD) vs. 49ers’ Cover 3 | 4 | 6
JuJu Smith-Schuster, PIT ($5.8K DK | $6.2K FD) vs. Washington’s Cover 3 | 4