Like last week, rather than restricting my focus toward large-field GPP formats, I’ll simply be pointing out my favorite matchup plays for GPPs of all sizes. I’ll still provide anticipated ownership numbers and alternatives. I’ve already discussed essentially every player expected to make an impact on the main slate in Advanced Matchups. If you want more depth or details on the following matchups, head over to that link.
Kirk Cousins, MIN at SF ($6.3K DK | $7.5K FD | ExpOwn: 3-4%)
The value alarm went off in support of the Vikings’ passing offense for this week due to the 49ers finishing with the 17th- and eighth-highest rates of Cover 1 the last two weeks, respectively. That said, nobody should need to be reminded that a Kyle Shanahan team is not one we should be investing significant capital toward continuing with unexpected trends. The reliable expectations from San Francisco are in seeing a top-10 rate of Cover 3 and top-five rate of Cover 4. While Kirk Cousins has made considerable strides this season against Cover 4, his 0.52 FP/Db ranks second-best across from Cover 3 during 41 starts over the last three seasons. During that time, against that scheme, Cousins leads all QBs with 16 TDs, has supplied a 102.0 passer rating (eighth-best), and uses the sixth-highest rate of play action in order to aid him from distinguishing it from Cover 1.
The Bottom Line: To wrap it up, Cousins has Justin Jefferson as his Cover 3-guy, and Adam Thielen to attack Cover 4. If the ‘9ers put that Cover 1 on the field enough, all three will blow up.
Jalen Hurts, PHI at NYG (>>>$7.3K DK<<< | $8.4K FD | ExpOwn: 6-7%)
The Giants have defended QBs very well this season. Not only that, they’ve limited the position to only 2.31 FPG on the ground (10th-fewest). Since Week 7, QBs have only averaged 12.4 FPG. Adoree’ Jackson has been one of the top corners all season and James Bradberry has overcome a rough start. New York’s defense has paid particular attention toward preventing long gains. NYG has held opponents to the seventh-lowest completion rate on throws of 20-or-more yards (11.8%) and to the lowest rate of 20-plus yard runs (0.73%). Why would we ever even consider wagering against these data points?
If a QB could enter the NFL with a plan of attack in place against a single coverage, the optimal choice would be Cover 3. With the average league-wide rate of Cover 1 on the decline, defenses have utilized Cover 3 29% more than Cover 1… and any other scheme, for that matter. And Jalen Hurts isn’t simply good at attacking Cover 3, he’s one of the best in the world. During his 26-game career, Hurts has generated 0.49 FP/DB (fourth-best), a 105.5 passer rating (third), his YPA improves by 33% (the highest), and he aggressively attacks with 10.0 AY/Att (third-highest) when opposed by Cover 3. Drew Lock and Brandon Allen are equally dominant across from Cover 3. But Hurts has managed to post at least 18.5 FPs in 13-of-16 career starts by combining his elite ground production with Cover 3-mastery.
The Bottom Line: As for the Giants shutting down opposing QBs, no opposing QB has more than four rushing attempts against them this season. Not to mention the fact that none of those opposing QBs offer anything in the ballpark of Hurts’ rushing upside, Hurts has never attempted less than seven rushing attempts when he’s been the starting QB. By the way, New York is using Cover 3 at the sixth-highest rate this season.
Carson Wentz, IND vs. TB ($5.8K DK | $7.3K FD | ExpOwn: 1-2%)
Mac Jones, NE vs. TEN ($5.4K DK | $6.8K FD | ExpOwn: 2-3%)
Najee Harris, PIT at CIN ($8.2K DK | $8.8K FD | ExpOwn: 8-9%)
The Bengals had stood as a considerable challenge on the ground to RBs early in the season. That’s changed over the last four weeks. They have handed the position the eighth-most pure rushing FPG during that time (16.4). Najee Harris began his rookie season only averaging 46.3 rushing YPG through four games. He collected 92.2 YPG over the next five. With the Chargers building a 24-10 lead at the 11:50 mark of the third quarter last week, the script prevented Harris from accumulating ground volume. But an opening in Cincinnati’s rushing defense makes this matchup for Harris all-the-more cherry.
The Bottom Line: The Bengals are stocking the RB shelves with the third-most pure receiving FPG (14.6). On the off-chance that a reminder was necessary, Najee was fed with 19 targets the last times these teams met, which resulted in a 14/102/0 receiving line for 31.2 FPs.
Saquon Barkley, NYG vs. PHI ($6.3K DK | >>>$7.5K FD<<< | ExpOwn: 6-7%)
Saquon Barkley only took on what I would estimate to be 75% of the role last week that he occupied prior to injuring his ankle. Yet we saw enough from Barkley on 12 touches against a stout Tampa Bay run defense to get very excited about this matchup. Absolutely loved seeing him collect six receptions. Floor, prepare to be elevated.
The Bottom Line: I have massive stock invested in Barkley on FD for this weekend. RB14/RB13 pricing against a Philly defense allowing the eighth-most FPG to RBs this season at 26.4
Austin Ekeler, LAC at DEN (>>>$8.4K DK<<<* | $8.4K FD | ExpOwn: 7-8%)*
Damien Harris, NE vs. TEN ($6.1K DK | $6.0K FD | ExpOwn: 3-4%)
Rex Burkhead, HOU vs. NYJ ($4.2K DK | $5.7K FD | ExpOwn: 1-2%)
Mike Williams, LAC at DEN ($5.7K DK | $6.6K FD | ExpOwn: 7-9%)
Without their narrow 41-37 victory over Pittsburgh, LAC would currently be 5-5. And it was a 53-yard TD strike to Mike Williams that proved to be the decisive points. The SuperChargers need all of their Big 3 playmakers (Austin Ekeler, Keenan Allen, and Williams) to get on a roll in order to turn ‘21 into a magical season. Granted, Los Angeles took advantage of an undermanned Pittsburgh defense, but it was a sight to behold alongside a red hot Justin Herbert. In order to keep the torch lit, Williams must take advantage of Ronald Darby. During his six games this season, Darby has provided his coverage with 1.46 YPCS (15th-most), 0.29 FP/CS (26th), 0.45 AY/CS (second-most), and a 98.0 TPR (37th).
The Bottom Line: Take note of Darby being attacked with the second-most AY/CS. He’s also permitting the ninth-highest rate of completions traveling 20-or-more yards. With 33% of Williams’ FPG coming on receptions of 20-or-more yards, it should provide Williams with the perfect opportunity to go nuclear.
Jakobi Meyers, NE vs. TEN ($5.0K DK | $5.7K FD | ExpOwn: 6-7%)
The Titans are a virtual lock to make the playoffs. However, they really need to catch a break concerning their defensive backs. DC Shane Bowen has resorted to shifting his perimeter and situational DBs in a perpetual rotation as individuals succumb to-or-survive the injury report. But the purpose here is to identify the upside, not to imply any sympathy. One of those D-backs that has seen his role altered along the way has been 2021 third-rounder Elijah Molden. Forced into time as a safety early in the season, Molden has settled into his natural position out of the slot. On the season, Molden is supplying 1.39 YPCS (eighth-most), 0.31 FP/CS (also eighth), and a 108.0 passer rating (seventh-highest) to his coverage assignments.
For those unaware, the PPR ceiling for Jakobi Meyers is unknown. His route running is sharp, his hands are reliable, and he is perfectly comfortable working on the outside when the Patriots are utilizing Heavy personnel. Meyers is unlike most “slot” WRs; he has remained on the field for at least 90% of passing plays in eight-of-11 games this season. Two factors have worked against him:
- Despite drawing at least a 21% target share in seven games, he’s only found the end zone once.
- He is extremely game-script dependent. In four defeats, Meyers has averaged 10.3 targets and 14.3 FPG. In eight victories, 5.9 targets/game and 7.7 FPG.
The Pats have played the easiest schedule in the league this season. That changes this week. Even without Derrick Henry, Tennessee is not a team to take lightly. Yes, they hit a road bump against Houston last week. But the Titans will give the Pats hell in Week 12.
The Bottom Line: Meyers will work against a secondary that is encouraging the most receptions (15.5), yards (200.1), red zone touches (2.36), and fifth-most TDs (1.27) per game to opposing WR units. All told, the Titans are allowing 43.3 FPG to WRs (obviously the most).
Allen Lazard, GB vs. LAR ($3.8K DK | $5.2K FD | ExpOwn: <1%)
Allen Lazard is questionable with a shoulder injury and I have next to nothing to present as evidence in support of exposure. Here’s what I can offer:
He’s playing at home.
It’s not set in stone, but Davante Adams could draw significant attention from a certain someone.
When that certain someone devoted his attention toward Adams during the Divisional Round of the playoffs last season, Lazard posted a 4/96/1 line on eight targets… a game also played on Lambeau Field.
The Bottom Line: With anticipated ownership at well under 1%, if Lazard is active and post’s another 19.6 FPs, he’ll prove to be one of the top values on the slate.
Ja’Marr Chase, CIN vs. PIT ($7.3K DK | $7.7K FD | ExpOwn: 8-9%)
Chase Claypool, PIT at CIN ($6.0K DK | $6.5K FD | ExpOwn: 3-4%)
Courtland Sutton, DEN vs. LAC ($5.4K DK | $6.0K FD | ExpOwn: 2-3%)
Scotty Miller, TB at IND ($3.0K DK | $5.0K FD | ExpOwn: <1%)
Pat Freiermuth, PIT at CIN ($4.3K DK | $5.3K FD | ExpOwn: 6-7%)
During the pre-draft process, I pounded the table with my opinion that Pat Freiermuth should be a first round selection due to his athletic twitchiness. But Ben Roethlisberger’s limitations ultimately decide who will succeed. And the current version of Big Ben fears pocket pressure so much that he literally snaps the ball and releases it. If a receiver actually requires the opportunity to run an NFL route, he will complete said route too late to receive a target. The snap-instant release method is not to be applauded. But the short-stem route tree Baby Gronk utilizes fits perfectly within Roethlisberger’s 15-yard vision limitation.
The Bottom Line: Freiermuth will see a bump in volume with Eric Ebron unable to play. It may not be an offense harmoniously orchestrated, but Freiermuth is getting the ball, and that’s mo0re than enough reason to pounce.
Mike Gesicki, MIA vs. CAR ($5.3K DK | $6.2K FD | ExpOwn: 2-3%)
Number of TEs on the field for at least 77% of team passing snaps: 7. Number of TEs with a target share of at least 18%: 6. Mike Gesicki is found in both of those groups. Number of qualified TEs who block on a lower percentage of team passing snaps than Gesicki: 0. Number of TEs averaging more air yards/game than Gesicki’s 61.7: 5.
The Bottom Line: Is the matchup perfect? No. However, if our goal is to discover the TE options with the most opportunity, upside, and ownership low enough for GPP consideration, Gesicki is toward the very top of the list.
Dan Arnold, JAX vs. ATL (>>>$4.0K DK<<<* | $5.1K FD | ExpOwn: 3-4%)*
C.J. Uzomah, CIN vs. PIT ($3.4K DK | $5.2K FD | ExpOwn: 1-2%)
Tyler Higbee, LAR at GB ($4.2K DK | $5.4K FD | ExpOwn: 3-5%)
New England Patriots, NE vs. TEN (>>>$3.9K DK<<< | $5.0K FD | ExpOwn: 1-2%)
Los Angeles Chargers, LAC at DEN (>>>$3.4K DK<<< | $3.6K FD | ExpOwn: <1%)
Philadelphia Eagles, PHI at NYG ($3.2K DK | $4.3K FD | ExpOwn: 4-5%)
Los Angeles Rams, LAR at GB ($3.3K DK | $4.4K FD | ExpOwn: 1-3%)