Week 17 Mismatch Report: Fantasy Points Data


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Week 17 Mismatch Report: Fantasy Points Data

We’ve been working on something massive behind the scenes at Fantasy Points this year. We have an exceptional team of charters led up by Brett Whitefield and Chris Wecht — two guys we’re convinced are superstars in this field — who have been gathering data native to the website.

Eventually, that data will be available on the site in raw form and in pretty charts and graphics (everyone loves pretty graphics!), but building the foundation of the database has been the big focus for everyone.

With Fantasy Points Data — a project that we’ve had in the works for the better part of a year — we wanted to answer one big question: what if we tailored all of the data our team has gathered (hand-charted from our team of experts) directly to the fantasy player?

Based on years of playing season-long fantasy, dynasty, and DFS — and using all the charted data out there to build models and try to gain an advantage in a game where the margins are shrinking — we believe we’ve found where we can do things better. And we have tools in development that we think fantasy players will go absolutely crazy for. We believe, in all humility, we’re going to do this better than anyone else, and it will unequivocally blow your mind.

I’ll break this article every week into two sections — a macro look at offensive lines vs. defensive lines, and a micro look at wide receivers vs. secondaries — highlighting both the best and worst matchups every week.

(NOTE: All data is from a range of the most recent five weeks unless otherwise noted.)

Top Run Game Mismatches

Our “RUSH GRADE” is based simply on a formula measuring an offense’s average yardage before contact on non-QB rush attempts (a catch-all way to eliminate scrambles) versus a defense’s average yards per contact allowed on non-QB rush attempts.

Best Week 17 Run Blocking Matchups

  • Far be it from me to actually trust the Colts’ run game as this team has completely collapsed, but if you do need Zack Moss for your championship, we at least confirmed in Week 16 that he is the Colts’ lead back. Moss handled 12 of the Colts’ 13 RB carries (Jordan Wilkins got the other) and played a 69% snap share. The Giants have been a mainstay of this column as a very exploitable matchup for RBs.

  • The Lions still seemed committed to their frustrating three-man RB rotation, though Jamaal Williams suffered a knee injury last week that could potentially knock him out of championship lineups, though he did return to the lineup late in Week 16. Could this finally be a D’Andre Swift blowup spot? This week, the Lions catch a collapsing Bear defense that got gashed by the Bills last week — Devin Singletary posted 12/106/1 on the ground and James Cook managed 11/99/1.

  • AJ Dillon has hung one TD and 12+ FP in four consecutive games after hitting those marks just once — in the season opener — in his first 11 games. Dillon paced Aaron Jones in carries (11 to 6), scrimmage yards (48 to 34), and snap share (58% to 38%) in Green Bay’s victory over the Dolphins in Week 16. Jones has been a limited practice participant in recent weeks because of shin, ankle, and knee injuries, and his issues may be catching up to him with his two lowest snap shares coming in the last three games — 38% in Weeks 13 and 16. Dillon has become the more appealing fantasy option in this backfield down the stretch and he draws a great cold-weather matchup with the Vikings this week.

  • Christian McCaffrey likely underperformed expectations in Week 16, with just 58 yards from scrimmage, though a late TD applied significant deodorant to an overall malodorous day. He is in a fantastic bounce-back spot against the Raiders this week, and the 49ers’ offensive line has been opening some massive holes.

  • The Giants can wrap up a playoff spot with a win over the collapsing Colts in Week 17. You can potentially wrap up a fantasy championship with Saquon Barkley in your lineup this week, too, considering it’s a glorious draw. Barkley was limited in Week 14’s blowout loss to the Eagles with a neck injury, and at that point, there was legitimate concern that his season would come grinding to a halt. Instead, he’s been back to a full workload in each of the past two weeks and has been playing some of his best football. It was a disappointing loss for the Giants against the Vikings in Week 16, but Barkley did everything in his power to give his boys a victory. He carried the ball 14 times for 84 yards and a score, and added season-highs in catches (8), receiving yards (49), and targets (10). It was the first time since Week 8 of 2019 that he caught 8 passes or was targeted 10 times, so it was a vintage Saquon performance in a revitalized season for him.

Worst Week 17 Run Blocking Matchups

  • The Bengals have been throwing the ball above expectation at an extreme rate — since Week 6, no team throws the ball at a higher rate when not “expected” to than Cincinnati. This week’s matchup with the Bills gives them all the more reason to lean on Joe Burrow’s arm and away from Joe Mixon’s legs. (Though, in encouraging news, Mixon tied a season-high with 7 catches last week.)

  • Royce Freeman had 16 carries for 32 yards last week. Next, please.

  • Alvin Kamara had his first decent game in a long time in Week 16, scoring his first TD since dropping three of them in Week 8. Unfortunately, this week he gets a pissed-off Eagles team and a defense that was the first to hold Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard under 100 combined rushing yards since Week 4.

  • It’s, unfortunately, a brutal matchup for Najee Harris in championship week. Harris carried just 12 times for 33 yards against the Ravens in Week 14, his lowest yardage performance of the second half of the season (when he came out of the bye healthy). Like in Week 14, he may need a touchdown to come through for fantasy.

  • For the first time since Week 4, Cowboy RBs Zeke Elliott and Tony Pollard were held under 100 combined rushing yards in Week 16 against the Eagles. Pollard (thigh) is dinged — though expected to play — and Dallas draws an on-paper brutal matchup here, but the Titans have absolutely nothing to play for in Week 17. Their Week 18 game against the Jaguars will decide the AFC South whether or not the Titans lose this week, so they can rest some of their many injured players.

Top Pass Game Mismatches

Our “PASS GRADE” is a formula developed using “QB Pressure Rate Over Expectation.” It measures how much a quarterback should be expected to face pressure, adjusted for the quarterback’s average time to throw (a quarterback with a 3.0-second aT2T should be expected to be pressured more than one with a 2.0-second aT2T, for instance).

The higher the number, the worse it is for an offense, and the better it is for a defense.

Best Week 17 Pass Rush Matchups

  • The Lions have an absolutely glorious matchup on the ground and through the air this week. Despite the Lions losing a disappointing game against the Panthers last week, Jared Goff threw for 355 yards and 3 TD as Detroit was in a huge early hole. This week, he should be able to throw to get ahead, and plenty of fantasy finalists will be starting him this week.

  • The Packers are suddenly live, and Aaron Rodgers gets the matchup this week. The Vikings ceded 334 passing yards to Daniel Jones in Week 16. Rodgers might not have Christian Watson (hip), which is a concern, but look at the names Dan Dimes was throwing to last week.

  • Tom Brady makes his weekly appearance in this section. Once again, guys, we have to marry the eye test with the numbers. Brady is getting the ball out quickly because of his bad offensive line, but that doesn’t mean the throws are good or efficient. The Bucs were without LT Donovan Smith (foot) last week, and his backup Josh Wells tore his patellar tendon and will miss the rest of the year. At least the Bucs got RT Tristan Wirfs (ankle) back.

  • As of publication, we don’t know if Jalen Hurts (shoulder) or Gardner Minshew will be the Eagles’ QB in Week 17. We do know the Saints have a mediocre pass rush, but also that Philly will be down RT Lane Johnson (abdominal) until the playoffs start. Johnson is the best right tackle in football and hasn’t allowed a sack in two years, so that’s a big loss for either Hurts or Minshew. The Eagles can lock up the NFC’s #1 seed — and some much-needed rest — with a victory.

  • The Browns’ pass rush, with the very notable exception of the elite Myles Garrett, has been a disappointment in an overall disappointing year for the entire team. Washington’s offensive line has been performing well recently, but these metrics are mostly with Taylor Heinicke at QB. However, given Wentz’s history of being a play extender and a guy who occasionally holds the ball too long, you might be surprised to learn Heinicke’s aT2T of 2.76 seconds is far higher than Wentz’s (2.42) this year. Why? The line has generally performed much better since Heinicke got into the lineup, allowing pressure at an average of 2.6 seconds as opposed to 2.2 with Wentz.

Worst Week 17 Pass Rush Matchups

  • Yes, the Broncos might get the “fired coach bump” after Nathaniel Hackett was sent packing, but Russell Wilson is coming off perhaps his worst game of the season, and Kansas City is a nasty matchup for any offensive line right now.

  • The Rams embarrassed Russell Wilson last week, and Justin Herbert is coming off an incredibly disappointing 0-TD performance against the Colts (the Chargers, alas, didn’t need anything more). But Aaron Donald is out for the rest of the year, so this is an easier matchup than is typical. Nonetheless, the Chargers have locked in a playoff spot and have only seeding to play for. The AFC’s #5 seed could be very valuable, as the Wild Card draw will be against the AFC South’s champion.

  • The Titans have nothing to play for this week, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see them rest some injured players. In theory, these are very valuable reps for Malik Willis, but given how Willis creates his own pressure, Dallas is potentially the worst matchup in the league for him.

  • While the Titans have nothing to play for this week, the Jaguars technically do — they can still qualify for an AFC Wild Card even with a Week 18 loss if a number of things go their way. Winning in Week 17 would be among those things that need to happen. Trevor Lawrence had arguably his worst game of the year all the way back in Week 5 against the Texans, going 25/47 for 286 yards and 2 INT in a rough loss. The Texans’ defense is surprisingly tough against the pass, but Lawrence is playing significantly better football than back in October.

  • The Texans are a dead football team for fantasy, and this matchup isn’t great for Davis Mills, which could make it tough for Brandin Cooks to come through again.

Top WR/CB Mismatches

NEW on Fantasy Points is our WR/CB Matchup Tool, sortable with loads of matchup data!

A note on our process: there are very few situations in the NFL in which one receiver will match up with one corner for the vast majority of his routes. So honestly, WR/CB matchups in the traditional sense are perhaps the most overrated form of fantasy analysis.

We aim to do them better: our process breaks down how many routes a receiver runs from a certain alignment, and assigns a weighted score based on how much that receiver is expected to see a given defender based on those alignments. So it will measure how often we expect a receiver to face all defenders in a matchup, not just one particular defender, and weigh a score by those expected percentages.

So really, this is more of a WR/Secondary breakdown, as opposed to individual WR/CB matchups. And if we do believe there could be a shadow situation, I will mention that.

I will write up what I feel to be some of the more interesting matchups, not necessarily every top or bottom matchup.

Best Week 17 WR/CB Matchups

Greg Dortch and Marquise Brown (Ari) vs. Atlanta — This might not matter if Trace McSorley starts at quarterback, but both Dortch and Brown draw the easiest of the Falcons’ thin secondary, with AJ Terrell potentially following around DeAndre Hopkins. It’s particularly interesting for Dortch, who has done nothing but produce when given the opportunity this year. The Falcons often have S Richie Grant patrolling the slot, though it’s possible he played so much more than Isaiah Oliver last week (11 coverage snaps to 5) because the Ravens use so many tight ends.

Richie James vs. Indianapolis — At this point, the Colts are a disaster, and there’s no use in rushing slot CB Kenny Moore back into the fold from a foot injury. James has three or more catches and 41 yards or more in five of his last six games, and a TD in three of those contests. He finished with 8/90 receiving on 12 targets in Week 16, which gives him 13+ FP in four of his last six games. The Colts have been hemorrhaging points out of the slot since Moore went down. Over the last two games, the Colts have allowed the 5th-most FPG (8.1) above season average to opposing slot WRs. They’ve turned safety Julian Blackmon into their primary slot defender.

Dallas WRs vs. Tennessee — Tennessee has been well-documented as the league’s biggest pass-funnel defense with a horrifically injured secondary. On top of that, the Titans have no reason to risk injured players given their Week 17 game is meaningless — they will be playing for the AFC South title in Week 18 no matter the result of this game. The only question is how much Dallas will actually have to try given the Titans are likely to be very conservative with their approach to this game.

Worst Week 17 WR/CB Matchups

Jacksonville WRs vs. Houston — The Texan CBs have been a regular and surprising feature in this column, but their pass defense has been legitimately good. As noted above, it can be argued that Trevor Lawrence played his worst game of the season back in Week 5 against the Texans. In that game, Zay Jones and Christian Kirk combined for 3 catches for 23 yards on 11 targets. Lawrence and this offense are absolutely humming now, so we have to reassess this entire matchup, but it’s also worth pointing out that the Jaguars are most likely playing in a winner-take-all game with the Titans in Week 17, so they don’t exactly have to floor it in this one (they do have an outside shot at an AFC Wild Card, but it is highly unlikely).

Seattle WRs vs. New York Jets — The Seahawks have been mired in a bad slump, losing five of their last six games. But DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett have managed to avoid being dragged down too much by that, ranking as the PPR WR11 and 12, respectively. But Lockett (finger) is questionable for this week after missing last week, while his replacement Marquise Goodwin is coming off a goose egg after injuring his wrist during Week 16. All of the Seahawks have ridiculously tough matchups with the Jets’ awesome secondary this week.

Chiefs WRs vs. Denver — The last time these two teams played, the Broncos’ defense had Patrick Mahomes on the ropes. While he threw for 352 yards and 3 TD, he also chucked 3 picks. Of his 28 completions, only 11 went to WRs — 9 of those 11 went to JuJu Smith-Schuster, who is obviously the only WR who can be played in this matchup.

Week 17 Potential Shadow Situations

DeAndre Hopkins (Ari) vs. AJ Terrell (Atl) — Unfortunately for those counting on Hopkins in fantasy playoff matchups, Trace McSorley is not an NFL QB. Now, McSorley at least knows where his bread should be buttered — he targeted Hopkins 10 times in Week 16 — but actually getting it buttered is a different story. Hopkins caught just 1 of those 10 targets for 4 yards in a loss to the Bucs in one of the ugliest games of the year. There’s really nothing else to say here. If you managed to withstand this horrible performance, you need to pray for Colt McCoy to be back in Week 17 against the Falcons. The problem is Hopkins could catch a shadow from Terrell. Since Week 1, when Michael Thomas (remember him?) put 2 TD on Terrell, the young corner has shadowed five different receivers at a 68% route share or higher: DK Metcalf (Week 3, 2/19 on 8 targets in Terrell’s primary coverage), Amari Cooper (Week 4, 1/9 on 3 targets), Mike Evans (Week 5, 4/81 on 6 targets), Terry McLaurin (Week 12, 1/3 on 2 targets), and Chris Olave (Week 15, no catches on 1 target). Terrell has almost entirely shut down his shadows this year, and he’s somewhat of a unicorn because he will occasionally travel into the slot.

Ja’Marr Chase (Cin) vs. Tre’Davious White (Buf) — White is likely still getting his feet under him, so this will be a big challenge for the Bills’ top CB if indeed he does shadow Chase. Given the numbers this year and Chase’s pedigree, it isn’t something that should scare us off of using the Bengals’ star WR. White has “shadowed” twice this year, meaning he’s covered two different receivers on 60% or more of their routes in a given game. Garrett Wilson hung 4/51 on 5 targets on him in Week 14, while he did an excellent job on Jaylen Waddle in Week 15, with 2/47 on 5 targets.

Terry McLaurin (Was) vs. Denzel Ward (Cle) — Ward has cleaned up a bunch of his early-season struggles, but still has been beatable from time to time, as Ja’Marr Chase showed in Week 14 (6/80/1 on 9 targets in his primary coverage). And McLaurin is a shadow killer. Most of the Commanders’ opponents have chosen to follow F1 around this year. In the five highest route share shadows this season — two by Fabian Moreau and one each by Jaire Alexander, Darius Slay, and Stephon Gilmore — McLaurin has caught at least 4 balls on his primary defender, totaling 25/380/2 on 33 targets. He’s the anti Amari Cooper.

Joe Dolan, a professional in the fantasy football industry for over a decade, is the managing editor of Fantasy Points. He specializes in balancing analytics and unique observation with his personality and conversational tone in his writing, podcasting, and radio work.