2023 Week 12 Fantasy Mismatch Report


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2023 Week 12 Fantasy Mismatch Report

With Fantasy Points Data — a project we’ve worked on for nearly two years and launched in 2023 — 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. That is the Fantasy Points Data Suite.

Using Fantasy Points Data, I’ve identified the biggest mismatches in all of this week’s games in an effort to make your fantasy and wagering decisions easier.

First, a note on some of the tools I’m using here.

All offensive/defensive line data is from the last five weeks, unless otherwise noted, in an attempt to reduce noise.

Rush Grade

Our “RUSH GRADE” offensive line stat is based simply on a formula measuring an offense’s average yardage before contact allowed on running plays — not including out-of-structure scrambles, trick plays, QB kneels, or QB sneaks. We call this statistic “adjusted yards before contact per attempt” (aYBC/A), and the Rush Grade applies to both an offense’s aYBC/A created and a defense’s aYBC/A allowed.

The darker the green, the better the matchup. The darker the red, the worse the matchup.

Pass Grade

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

The darker the green, the better the matchup. The darker the red, the worse the matchup.

WR/CB Tool

Our WR/CB Matchup Tool is 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.

If I do believe there will be a “shadow CB” situation, I’ll mention it and break down the matchup.

All times Eastern

New Orleans at Atlanta (Sun, 1 PM)

Saints OL vs. Falcons pass rush

The Saints feature our #1 Pass Grade of the week against an Atlanta defense that lost its best rusher, DT Grady Jarrett, to a torn ACL early in Week 8. The good news for Atlanta is that if anyone has an argument to be a better rusher on this team than Jarrett, it’s DT David Onyemata, who should be back from an ankle injury this week. The Saints are likely going to have QB David Carr back from a concussion, and Carr should have time to throw against the Falcons. However, Carr is 23rd among qualified QBs in ANY/A when under pressure, and 22nd when not under pressure, so he’s been a mediocre player from either a clean pocket or a muddied one. And he also doesn’t have Michael Thomas (knee) for at least four games.

Falcons OL vs. Saints pass rush

The Saints have had one of the most disappointing pass rushes in the entire NFL, with no single game with a QBPROE above 4.07% this year, and six games in the negative, including their last tilt with the Vikings in Week 10. So the Falcons check in with our #5 Pass Grade of the week, though I can’t imagine it’s going to make anyone feel good about playing Desmond Ridder for fantasy. Hey, at least he’s better than Taylor Heinicke, and maybe Arthur Smith realized over the bye

Pittsburgh at Cincinnati (Sun, 1 PM)

Steelers OL vs. Bengals DL in the run game

The Steelers have made their fans thankful this week by firing OC Matt Canada, the first time they’ve made a major coaching move in-season since the FDR administration (seriously, that’s a fact). And for those who are high on Jaylen Warren and want him to get more work than Najee Harris, it’s possible new OC Eddie Faulkner — promoted from RB coach — is the secret sauce. The matchup is good too, as the Steelers feature or #2 Rush Grade of the slate, and the Bengals have given up a league-high 2.13 aYBC/A over the last five weeks. Meanwhile, the Steelers have promoted road-grading rookie tackle Broderick Jones to their full-time starter at right tackle. I’m high on Warren this week, though I certainly anticipate Najee Harris — who was critical of the offensive approach under Canada — to get his work as well.

Bengals pass rush vs. Steelers OL

Our trench metrics suggest the Steelers should run the ball a lot this weekend, because they have our #2 Rush Grade but our 3rd-worst Pass Grade. That shouldn’t be surprising, considering Kenny Pickett has been pressured at 7% or more above expectation in all but two of Pittsburgh’s games this year, and the Bengals have the 2nd-highest QBPROE over expectation on this weekend slate defensively. Moreover, Cincinnati will see DE Sam Hubbard return from injury this weekend. It will be interesting to see if new OC Eddie Faulkner has anything up his sleeve to try to reduce the constant heat Pickett has been under this season.

SHADOW ALERT! Steelers CB Joey Porter, Jr. vs. Bengals WR Ja’Marr Chase

Look at Peezy Junior! The Steelers have used him as a primary shadow corner in back-to-back matchups with Pro Bowl veteran NFL WRs, and he’s been fantastic. He covered DeAndre Hopkins in Week 9 against the Titans on 76.5% of his routes, and ceded just 1 catch for 17 yards on 4 targets. Then, in Week 11 against the Browns, he matched up with Amari Cooper on 80.5% of his routes, and surrendered just 4/34 on 6 targets. There is obviously a huge caveat here — both the Titans (Will Levis) and Browns (Dorian Thompson-Robinson) were starting rookie quarterbacks. But this week, when we expect Porter to match up to Chase with Tee Higgins (hamstring) out? Well, the Bengals are giving Jake Browning his first career start.

Jacksonville at Houston (Sun, 1 PM)

Texans DL vs. Jaguars OL in the run game

The Texans haven’t given up 100 non-scramble rush yards in a game since Week 4, and that’s largely because they’re winning at the point of attack — their 0.77 aYBC/A allowed over the last five weeks is the lowest on the slate. And the Jaguars have had their own offensive line struggles, which is why they feature our 2nd-worst Rush Grade on this slate. Despite Travis Etienne being one of the true bell cows of fantasy football, his team has really struggled to open holes for him. Jacksonville has averaged under 3.0 YPC on non-scramble runs in four of their last five games, and hasn’t had an explosive run since Week 6.

Texans OL vs. Jaguars pass rush

The Texans have our #4 Pass Grade of the week, which shouldn’t be surprising considering how well they’ve protected CJ Stroud this year. Stroud hasn’t been pressured at a rate above expectation since back in Week 6, and the Jaguars have had a wildly inconsistent pass rush this year. The Jags have had three games this season with a QBPROE above 13%… but their other seven games have been at 0.40% or under, including a -4.94% against these Texans in Week 3, when Stroud went 20/30 for 280 yards and 2 TD, with no INTs and no sacks taken in his first career victory. Stroud’s 9.41 ANY/A when pressured this year is behind only Brock Purdy for 2nd-best in the NFL.

Tampa Bay at Indianapolis (Sun, 1 PM)

Colts WR Michael Pittman vs. Buccaneers perimeter CBs

The Bucs are a phenomenal matchup for outside WRs anyway — their +4.0 schedule-adjusted fantasy points per game surrendered to wideouts over the last five weeks is 4th-most on the slate. But on top of that, Tampa won’t have CB Jamel Dean with a foot injury, and CB Carlton Davis is questionable with a hip injury. Pittman has averaged over 10 targets per game in his last five contests, and I can’t imagine he’ll fall under that number with a hobbled Davis following him around. Start him with confidence.

New England at NY Giants (Sun, 1 PM)

Patriots pass rush vs. Giants OL

Hey, credit to Tommy DeVito, who treated the Commanders’ defense like they had 11 Billy Bats out there in Week 11, but since, Washington got shredded by Dallas and DC Jack Del Rio is now out of a job. The Giants still feature our 2nd-worst Pass Grade of the week, but mostly because their offensive line has been so bad — the Patriots’ pass rush has actually been poor all year, generating a positive QBPROE in just two games, and only once since Week 3. If the Giants get LT Andrew Thomas (hamstring) back this week, DeVito should actually have some decent protection. But again, it’s Tommy DeVito.

Carolina at Tennessee (Sun, 1 PM)

Titans DL vs. Panthers OL in the run game

Frank Reich took playcalling duties back from Thomas Brown in the Panthers’ last game, and it marked their first 100-yard non-scramble rushing day since Week 11. That’s the good news. The bad news is Chuba Hubbard and Miles Sanders split the backfield work about evenly, and neither reached 10 FP in a PPR. And now they have the worst Rush Grade on the slate, in large part because their offensive line is opening up a slate-worst 0.53 aYBC/A over the last five weeks. And Tennessee, after some midseason struggles, have held the Bucs and Jags to below 3.0 YPC on non-scramble rushes the last two weeks. I can’t imagine anyone is excited to play Hubbard — my preferred of these two backs — as anything more than a desperation FLEX.

Panthers DL vs. Titans OL in the run game

The Titans feature our 3rd-worst Rush Grade of the week, as they’ve run for fewer than 50 non-scramble rush yards in two consecutive games. The good news for Derrick Henry is he averages 5.6 YPC in the two games in which the Titans have been favored this year, and just 3.93 YPC in the eight games in which they’ve been underdogs. That extends to 4.39 YPC in games the Titans won, and 4.04 YPC in games they’ve lost. They’re favored by 3.5 points this week against Carolina, so despite Derrick Brown and company holding opposing running games up decently at the line of scrimmage — a 3rd-lowest 0.91 aYBC/A allowed on the slate — Henry is projected to have opportunity here. For one of the most gamescript-dependent players we’ve ever seen, that’s important.

LA Rams at Arizona (Sun, 4:05 PM)

Rams WR Puka Nacua vs. Cardinals CB Starling Thomas

It’s hard to tie down Nacua to one WR spot since he moves all around the formation, but with slot WR Cooper Kupp (ankle) expected to play in Week 12, my guess is Nacua will be outside most of the time. Nacua runs 75% of his routes from the perimeter, and the majority of those routes are at RWR. That’s where he’ll likely see either Thomas — a UDFA rookie — or Kei’Trel Clark, a 6th-round rookie. The Cardinals have a big injury in the secondary with Antonio Hamilton expected to miss, and with Kupp dinged, I wouldn’t be surprised if Nacua goes nuts this week.

Cleveland at Denver (Sun, 4:05 PM)

Browns OL vs. Broncos DL in the run game

The Broncos’ defense has been worlds better of late and is a key item to their turnaround and four-game win streak, but their run defense has shown cracks lately, as the Bills crushed them for 186 non-scramble rush yards in Week 10, and then the Vikings (who have struggled to run it all year) got them for 154 last week. Both of those teams feature mobile quarterbacks, and well, that might be the only thing Dorian Thompson-Robinson does well at this stage of his young career, so Browns coach Kevin Stefanski would be wise to watch what’s worked for Buffalo and Minnesota and then try to employ it himself. The Browns feature our #4 Rush Grade of the week, but as Scott Barrett pointed out this week, it’s hard to know exactly who to trust — Jerome Ford was finally allowed to touch the ball inside the red zone. He played on 5 of 6 snaps inside the 10-yard line and handled all 3 of the team’s carries. Across the previous seven weeks, Ford saw just 2 such carries (4 fewer than Kareem Hunt). The bad news – Hunt saw an uptick in usage in all other areas. Hunt earned season-highs in snap share (42.5%), carry share (41.4%), and route share (35.6%). I consider both guys low-end RB2s/high-end flexes in a good matchup.

Browns DL vs. Broncos OL in the run game

The Broncos had been starting to get Javonte Williams a lot of carries in recent weeks, but even in a close game against the Vikings in Week 11, they couldn’t run the ball — their 45 non-scramble rush yards and 0.46 aYBC/A were both season-lows. That was discouraging, considering their previous three games were the three highest non-scramble rushing totals they had posted all year. They feature our 5th-worst Rush Grade of the week against the nasty Browns run defense, but it’s funny, because the Browns theoretically got gashed on the ground by the Steelers last week. Pittsburgh torched ‘em for 161 non-scramble rush yards… though 151 of those yards came after contact. That was the most rushing yards Cleveland had surrendered this year, and the 2nd-most — 132 by the Colts in Week 7 — featured 119 yards after contact. So while the Browns are good at the point of attack, nearly half (49.8%) of the non-scramble rushing yards they’ve surrendered this year came on explosive runs of 15 or more yards, which is by far the highest rate in the NFL. The Browns are tied with the Bengals for most missed tackles defensively per non-scramble rush (0.34). So teams are unlikely to generate a consistent run game on the Browns, but big plays are there to be had.

Browns pass rush vs. Broncos OL

The Browns might have the NFL’s best defense, and they certainly have the NFL’s best defensive player in Myles Garrett, so it’s no surprise to see them rank so highly in our trench metrics this week. The Broncos have our worst Pass Grade of the week against a Browns defense that has precisely zero games this year with a negative QBPROE… though it is worth noting a little bit that their last two games against the Ravens and Steelers were two of their four “worst” in that department (and again, we’re grading on a curve here). But here’s the thing — believe it or not — Russell Wilson’s 5.26 ANY/A when pressured this year is 2nd-best among all NFL QBs! Sean Payton has done a good job coaching him up, and credit to Wilson for responding. Nonetheless, this is a brutal matchup that shouldn’t be underestimated.

SHADOW ALERT! Broncos CB Patrick Surtain II vs. Browns WR Amari Cooper

In Week 12, I’m expecting Cooper to draw his second consecutive shadow from the son of a former NFL Pro Bowler. Last week was Joey Porter, Jr., and this week it’ll be Surtain. The Broncos have used Surtain to follow around five receivers on more than 60% of their routes this year. That included Denver, hilariously, shadowing Skyy Moore in Week 8, and as you might imagine, the underachieving Moore didn’t catch a single pass in Surtain’s shadow coverage. And two weeks ago, Stefon Diggs fell just under the threshold at 57.7% (Diggs often will move inside). Surtain hasn’t allowed a single receiver to catch more than 3 passes on him when he was the closest defender this year — Diggs had just 1 catch for 11 yards on him — though he has also been responsible for 2 touchdowns to guys you wouldn’t consider great WRs — Robbie Chosen and Romeo Doubs. With Dorian Thompson-Robinson starting at QB, I wouldn’t anticipate Cooper having much success in this draw.

Kansas City at Las Vegas (Sun, 4:25 PM)

Chiefs OL vs. Raiders DL in the run game

The Chiefs were the first team to put over 100 non-scramble rush yards on the Eagles this year when they did it on Monday Night Football in Week 11, their first such game offensively since Week 4. And now they feature our #3 Rush Grade of the slate against a Raider defense giving up 2.05 aYBC/A over the last five weeks, 3rd-most defensively on the slate. The Raiders managed to hold Miami to under 100 non-scramble rush yards last week, which was a bit of a surprise, but keep in mind Miami lost De’Von Achane early in the game and Raheem Mostert’s efficiency has taken a hit with his increased workload of late, and Miami had some interior OL injuries. I like Isiah Pacheco in this matchup, with the Chiefs heavy favorites and the wide receivers non-functional.

Raiders pass rush vs. Chiefs OL

The Chiefs feature our 5th-worst Pass Grade of the week, as Kansas City is coming off a game against Philadelphia in which Patrick Mahomes was pressured on 50% of his dropbacks, the second time in three games that has been the case. While Kansas City’s big, lumbering tackles can have issues with speedball pass rushers, like the Eagles have, I assert Mahomes has been under pressure so much because no one can actually get open for him. Even the best quarterbacks need receivers, and despite Mahomes’ 2.85 average time to pressure this year — highest among all NFL QBs — his inability to find open receivers within that window has led to some abnormal pressure rates. The Raiders’ pass rush has been good recently — Maxx Crosby continues to be one of the best defensive players in the NFL — but I think this poor Pass Grade is fueled by the Chiefs’ struggles on the perimeter. It obviously gets a lot better for Vegas if Crosby (knee) can’t play.

SHADOW ALERT! Chiefs CB L’Jarius Sneed vs. Raiders WR Davante Adams

Sneed shadowed AJ Brown on over 70% of his routes last week and held him to just 1 catch for 8 yards on 4 targets in sloppy conditions, including an interception on a miscommunication — Brown got behind the defense on a dig route, and turned his route upfield to head toward the end zone, but Jalen Hurts threw the ball to where Brown’s route was originally supposed to be. Nonetheless, Sneed did a great job holding the record-breaking receiver in check, and he’s been a solid shadow corner all year. It’s worth noting that Sneed and Adams matched up on 16 routes last season when these two faced off, and Adams didn’t catch a pass in his primary coverage. It’s not like you’re sitting Davante, but Sneed will shadow him, and has had a lot of success shadowing this year in general.

Buffalo at Philadelphia (Sun, 4:25 PM)

Bills OL vs. Eagles DL in the run game

I gotta admit, it’s very surprising to me that the Bills have the highest Rush Grade on this slate… mostly because the Eagles have been so good against the run all year… though the 130 non-scramble rush yards Philly gave up to the Chiefs last week was the first time they’ve given up over 100 such yards all year. Meanwhile, Buffalo has gone for 186 and 127 in their last two games. Their best back is James Cook, and while Cook didn’t play an abnormal snap share in Week 11, posting a 59% rate, in his first game under new offensive coordinator Joe Brady, he tied a season-high with 21 opportunities. Cook carried 17 times for 73 yards and added 3/29/1 receiving on 4 targets, marking the second straight time and the third time in his last five games that he’s topped 100 yards from scrimmage. Cook has had a good year by almost all accounts, so the Bills’ refusal to truly commit to him is baffling, especially since he can help take some of the pressure off of Josh Allen, who has more on his shoulders than any quarterback in the NFL. Cook is a great RB2, and we hope the Bills start giving him more goal-line work — but Latavius Murray and Ty Johnson are still lurking here. Nonetheless, the Bills’ 2.17 aYBC/A over the last five weeks is 2nd-best on the weekend slate, and the Eagles’ 2.11 aYBC/A allowed is, surprisingly, 2nd-worst. The numbers suggest we can continue to play Cook in the event Brady keeps feeding him.

Bills pass rush vs. Eagles OL

Yeah, seeing the Eagles as having a bottom-5 matchup on both sides of the ball in the trenches is something I’m sure I’ve never seen in my two years of following our trench metrics. But that’s what the numbers are saying, as the Eagles have our 4th-worst Pass Grade of the week. A lot of that has to do with matchups, as the Eagles have played the Cowboys and Chiefs in back-to-back games, and both units have been exceptional at dialing up pressure this year, but Jalen Hurts’ big-play-hunting style also invites pressure into the equation. And the Bills have generated a positive QBPROE in all but one game since Week 3, so they should find themselves in the backfield.

Baltimore at LA Chargers (Sun, 8:20 PM)

Ravens OL vs. Chargers DL in the run game

The Ravens have our #5 Rush Grade of the week, on the heels of some great OL play — their 2.29 aYBC/A generated over the last five weeks is most on the slate. I should note that the Chargers have been mostly a pass-funnel defense, as they’ve given up over 100 non-scramble rush yards once in the last seven weeks, when the Lions crushed them for 196 in Week 10 (the Lions crush everyone on the ground). And the Ravens also still have a Ronnie Stanley injury problem, as they always do. But the Chargers are also down DE Joey Bosa (IR). With the explosiveness of Keaton Mitchell, the reliability of Gus Edwards in short yardage, and the constant threat of Lamar Jackson’s legs, the Ravens can run it on just about anyone. With TE Mark Andrews likely out for the season, they may have to run it more, to boot.

Chicago at Minnesota (Mon, 8:15 PM)

Bears DL vs. Vikings OL in the run game

The Vikings ran the ball extremely well against the Broncos last week, with a nice even split of Alexander Mattison and Ty Chandler, something I expect to continue. Their 123 non-scramble rush yards were their 2nd-most of the season, though a large portion of that yardage came after contact — 78 of the 123 yards (63.4%). And of course, our trench metrics don’t take into account yards after contact, since the blocking and scheme can’t control for that. So Minnesota has our 4th-worst Rush Grade of the week on Monday Night Football, against a Bears defense that gave up 2.95 YBC/A on non-scramble runs last week against the Lions — the first time they’ve given up more than 2.0 all year. Of course, that’s against a Lions team that has run on everyone this year, while Minnesota hasn’t. I think Mattison and Chandler are both on the low-end RB2 radar.

Vikings OL vs. Bears pass rush

The Vikings have our 2nd-best Pass Grade of the week. While the addition of Montez Sweat has certainly given the Bears a much-needed boost, they’ve still generated a positive pressure rate above expectation in just two games this year, one with Sweat in the lineup. Minnesota LT Christian Darrisaw is quietly developing into one of the best pass protectors in the league, and as a result, our trench metrics think this is a good game for the Vikings to lean on the arm of Josh Dobbs.

Bears OL vs. Vikings pass rush

I’m pretty sure this is the first time this year the Bears are checking in with one of our top-5 Pass Grades of the week — #3. But there’s a good reason for it, as per our trench metrics, the Vikings’ five worst games in terms of QBPROE have all come in the last five weeks. And that’s good news for Justin Fields, whose 0.90 ANY/A when pressured is ahead of only Bryce Young of quarterbacks starting this week. Fields, when not pressured, has an ANY/A of 8.82, 4th-best in the league. No quarterback has such wild splits this year.

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.