Against the Spread Picks
Washington Football Team (+3.0) at Dallas Cowboys
Baltimore Ravens (+5.0) at Pittsburgh Steelers
Kansas City Chiefs (-3.5) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Miami Dolphins (-7.0) at New York Jets
New Orleans Saints (-5.5) at Denver Broncos
Seattle Seahawks (-5.0) at Philadelphia Eagles
San Francisco 49ers at Los Angeles Rams (Over 45.0)
Minnesota Vikings at Carolina Panthers (Under 48.5)
Philadelphia Eagles at Seattle Seahawks (Over 51.0)
Matchup of the Week No. 1
DeAndre Hopkins, ARI ($8,100 DK | $8,500 FD) vs. Stephon Gilmore, NE
Along with most of the New England defense, Stephon Gilmore has not played to the level we’ve come to expect from him in recent years. It’s always possible that a nagging injury or two could be costing him a fraction of a step. However, we simply cannot completely disregard the impact Gilmore has had on DeAndre Hopkins over the last four seasons. Hopkins’ own set of nagging injuries could actually even out this confrontation. Over his last three, Nuk has seen his 22.3 FPG average drop to 14.9. We also need to remember that 35 percent of Hopkins’ 28.7 FP output in Week 10 resulted from this miraculous, game-winning43-yard TD vs. Buffalo.
Without that Hail Mary production, which is entirely analytically unreliable, Hopkins has averaged 11.5 FPG over his last three. A portion of the blame can be attributed to Hopkins forcing the second-most defensive hold and interference penalties (15). As for Gilmore, he has been able to keep his yards per coverage snap allowed (YPCS, 1.18) under the current qualified league CB average (1.23). His FPs allowed per coverage snap (FPCS, 0.25) is also just below the average (0.27). “BumpNrunGilm0re” ranks 25th out of 129 qualified CBs in allowing 52.7 air yards/game and is currently tied for 98th with eight defensive holds and interferences committed. The biggest issue for the Patriots’ secondary has been a bottom-10 pass rush. Gilmore is jamming WRs at the line of scrimmage (LoS) 38 percent above league average, but that benefit has lost without pass rushers getting to the QB.
In seven career games facing New England, Hopkins has a combined receiving line of 35/468/0 for 12.2 FPG on 55 targets. In 2020, Gilmore has played half of all snaps at LCB with J.C. Jackson playing half on the right. If HC/DC Bill Belichick opts against shadowing, we may see Jackson on Hopkins a good amount since DeAndre has almost exclusively (80-plus percent) lined up at left wideout. Either way, Belichick is likely to have spent considerable time scheming the containment of Kyler Murray’s most dangerous weapon. The combination of his matchup history, the quality of coverage, and his lingering ankle injury, Hopkins is a fade for me with 24.3/25.5 FPs required to cover floor value at $8.1K/$8.5K prices.
Matchup of the Week No. 2
DK Metcalf, SEA ($7,900 DK | $8,400 FD) vs. Darius Slay, PHI
DK Metcalf was previously featured in Week 10 as the Matchup of the Week against Jalen Ramsey. As with the extensive list of WRs before him, Ramsey held Metcalf to well below value with 2/28/0 on four targets. Last week, it was Patrick Peterson’s turn to shadow Metcalf. Seattle OC Brian Schottenheimer was finally able to isolate Metcalf on SS Budda Baker for a 25-yard TD. However, Metcalf has only managed a 3/27/0 combined receiving line in two ‘20 games shadowed by Peterson. These struggles against glove-like coverage do not bode well for his chances in Week 12. We have a near-guarantee that Darius Slay will travel with Metcalf in hopes of keeping Philadelphia in the NFC East race.
Slay may not receive the fanfare of his contemporaries, but he is just as much of a challenge as all sans two, maybe three other man coverage specialists. While following his opponent’s No. 1 WRs this season, “Big Play Slay” has held his responsibilities to 1.13 YPCS, 0.23 FPCS, and 64.0 targeted air yards/game. Despite those impressive metrics, he’ll face one of his biggest challenges this season from Metcalf. “Wolverine” ranks 16th with 0.44 FPs/route (FPRt) on a 22 percent target share. If Metcalf is able to shake Slay on any routes, the Eagles will find themselves in trouble since Avonte Maddox, Nickell Robey-Coleman, and Cre'Von LeBlanc have been considerable liabilities in coverage for Philadelphia.
Since the NFL is still adjusting to defending him, struggles in shadow coverage may be providing us with some evidence of Metcalf’s much scrutinized3-cone drill time at the combine coming into play. Although, it is much too early to tell, and there is a distinct reason defenses travel these CBs with opposing No. 1’s in the first place: they are that damn good. As long as he is able to avoid rubs to spring Metcalf, Slay’s official 4.36-speed is more than capable of sticking with his man in a clash of former SEC standouts. Similar to Hopkins vs. Gilmore, salaries of $7.9/$8.4K provide us with enough reasons to allocate our cap space elsewhere. At $6.9K/$7.9K, Tyler Lockett might be the intelligent pivot if his knee sprain is behind him. Outside of their control, the weather could also have a say in the outcome.
Matchups to Target
Lamar Jackson, BAL ($6,800 DK | $8,000 FD) vs. Steelers’ Cover 1 | 3
While I initially hoped to provide matchup analysis from Thanksgiving action at every position -- you’ll find those players as the first listed throughout the article, news broke (below) to disrupt those plans. From the remaining two games scheduled for Turkey Day, Deshaun Watson and Alex Smith have the best matchups.
Looking at this matchup from a defensive perspective, nearly everything points to Lamar Jackson falling short of DFS usefulness. Pittsburgh ranks first or second in nearly every defensive metric this season. Taking over the throne from the Colts this week, the Steelers are now limiting entire opposing offenses to the lowest output at 75.6 FPG. They are allowing only 12.0 pure passing (third-best), 1.46 pure rushing FPG (fifth-best) to opposing QBs. However, these teams just met in Week 8 when Jackson scored 18.8 FPs with 65 yards on the ground. As far as I’m concerned, rematches on quick turnarounds will favor the offense. While it is unrealistic to expect a poorly-equipped/coached/disciplined offense to perform miracles in a rematch after being blown out, none of those factors apply in this case.
During that 28-24 defeat in Week 8, the Ravens outgained the Steelers 457 to 221. Baltimore converted more first downs (25 to 19), had a higher third-down conversion rate (53 to 33 percent), and rushed for 265 yards compared to 48 for Pittsburgh. However, the Steelers ruled the ever-important turnover margin (four to one) thanks to a pair of interceptions and fumbles by Jackson. In spite of those mistakes, “Smiley Face” nearly led Baltimore to victory on the final drive. Those hopes were dashed by a batted pass by T.J. Watt anddeflection by Minkah Fitzpatrick on the subsequent target to Willie Snead IV that ended the game as time expired on the Pittsburgh 23-yard line.
Regardless of the outcome, the statistics speak for themselves. A reduction in his number of turnovers would be monumental. Thefirst interception was a pick-six by Robert Spillane on the opening drive where Jackson tried to force a throw to James Proche on a curl against Cover 3. Simply inexcusable. Thesecond was a misread against Cover 3 where Alex Highsmith read Jackson’s staredown to high-point an out route to an open Mark Andrews.One of the fumbles was a strip-sack by Bud Dupree. Not Jackson’s fault.
Following the game, Jackson shouldered the blame for the miscues, promising to clean up his mistakes. If he is true to his word, Jackson will be an immense value at reduced $6.8K/$8K salaries. The absences of J.K. Dobbins and, to a far lesser extent, Mark Ingram will hurt, but Gus Edwards plays the Steelers well, and the remaining carry share should go to Jackson. In recent days, Jackson has verbalized his frustrations with universal support of the team (below). Combined with his ability to sustain drives in the face of that Pittsburgh front, a chip on Jackson’s shoulder coming in is more than enough for me to invest in him surpassing ROI in excess of 20.4/24.0 FPs.
Russell Wilson, SEA ($7,500 DK | $8,800 FD) vs. Eagles’ Cover 1
Do I really need to convince you that exposure to Russell Wilson is a good idea? Unlikely. However, after detailing the daunting challenge ahead for DK Metcalf, perhaps it might not be a bad idea. Don’t get me wrong, Metcalf and Tyler Lockett form a tremendous one-two arsenal for Wilson. That said, “The Professor” would be in play for me this week even if both Metcalf and Lockett were held out. Even facing solid safety play at the third level, Darius Slay, and T.J. Edwards, I stand behind that statement. The weather in Philadelphia is currently calling for the second-highest chance of rain, 10 MPH winds, and 20 MPH wind gusts. Still my call. Why? Allow me to explain.
First of all, playing the Eagles on Monday Night Football, some of the best performances from Wilson have come on primetime. He has led Seattle to a 9-2 MNF record with a 19-to-5 TD/INT ratio. Next, Wilson will face an Eagles defense that has played the second-most Cover 1 (man) snaps (45 percent) this season. In obvious passing situations, they’ll fall into a Cover 2 or 4 zone. Against Cover 1 over his last 28 games, Wilson’s air yards/attempt increases by 12 percent, and he holds a 4.2-to-1 TD/INT ratio. Against Cover 2 and 4 over that same time, he ranks eighth with 0.38 FPs/dropback (FPDb), and also eighth with 0.40 FPDb, respectively.
We also have the matter of Philadelphia's missed tackle rate ranking second-to-last in the league. The Eagles may have one of the most dangerous pass rushes, but that overaggresiveness has led to allowing the 10th-highest pure rushing FPG to QBs (4.02), only increasing to the eighth-highest over the last three games. That madman pursuit will give Wilson the green flag to raise his floor with a healthy amount of rushing yardage. In addition to his 21.8 pure passing FPG, a TD on the ground could push Wilson to the top of the QB scoring chart. I’ll close out the recommendation with a coolcompilation of every TD with Wilson’s involvement against the Eagles over his career.
Taysom Hill, NO ($6,200 DK | $7,300 FD) vs. Broncos’ Cover 1 | 6
Well, the days of locking Taysom Hill into your FanDuel TE slot have come to an end. Hopefully, everyone followed my advice of 100 percent exposure to Hill regardless of any anticipated ownership percentages. The fact that the winning Week 11 FD Milly-Maker lineup rostered Hill should tell you all you need to know about not letting expected ownership percentages dictate exposure at every slot. Smash spots are smash spots. The overriding goal in DFS is to score the most points, not to lead the slate with the lowest combined ownership percentage. Do we need to have low ownership on some of our plays to bring us to the promised land by differentiating our lineups? Absolutely. But we also need to roster the highest-scoring individuals, some of which will need to be pulled with ownership baggage.
As for Hill, if you didn’t watch his performance against Atlanta, let me pass along that he was far removed from a QB with only 20 prior career passing attempts under his belt. He remained patient within clean pockets, scrambled free only as they collapsed, and didn’t rely on his receivers to bail him out from turnover-worthy throws. We need to remember that Hill is 30-years-old with three years of masterful instruction under HC Sean Payton, OC Pete Carmichael Jr., and Drew Brees. Not to mention that he possesses one of the elite WRs in all of football, Michael Thomas. During the play-by-play, announcer Kevin Burkhardt passed along that he asked Hill if he had any special receiver connections from his time practicing with the second-team offense. His response: No, I just want to get the ball to No. 13.
In Week 11, Hill targeted Thomas with a 52 percent target share. As a man who knows exactly where his bread is buttered, any hopes that Jameis Winston might be the heir apparent to Brees have been in vain. When Brees hangs up his cleats, possibly at the conclusion of 2020, Hill will be handed the keys to the kingdom. For most QBs with only 52 career passing attempts, I would advise patience before exposure. However, Hill’s ability to use his legs to lead the offense immediately catapult him past those caution barriers. It will be nearly impossible for the Broncos to contain Thomas, Alvin Kamara, and Latavius Murray. Not due to their impressive abilities alone, it’s Hill who is the catalyst toward raising that difficulty curve.
During the first half of Week 11, Hill attempted 13 passes to only two rushing attempts. Instead, he fed the ball to Thomas and let his backfield duo pound the rock. In the second half with the defense beginning to tire, Hill attempted 10 targeted passes to 10 rushing attempts. While the Saints “only” managed 24 points, I am fully confident that the gameplan will be more refined after a full game of Hill under center. Denver’s defense possesses few holes, that is, until you look at what they’ve allowed on the ground the last four weeks. They’re permitting 138.3 rushing yards over that time, which is the second-highest in the league. At $6.2K/$7.3K, we need 18.6/21.9 FPs to turn a profit. At his elevated floor, I’m anticipating much more.
Will Fuller V, HOU ($6,400 DK | $7,400 FD) vs. Amani Oruwariye, DET
Following a six-game stretch with a TD, Will Fuller V has averaged just 11.4 FPG over his last two. However, we can reasonably eliminate both performances to roster Fuller in Week 12 without hesitation. In Week 10 at Cleveland, Fuller dealt with rain, strong winds. The following week, he dealt with J.C. Jackson. Fuller will have clear, domed skies playing at Detroit against what could be considered the worst secondary in the league. If you’ve been reading this article weekly, I’ve gone over this several times prior. The Lions do not travel their CBs. Amani Oruwariye has easily been Detroit’s top CB, but will play nearly 70 percent of snaps outside right.
Without Oruwariye following Fuller, the Lions will play directly into the speedsters skillset. Fuller is a top-20 receiver when facing Cover 1 shells. On 23 percent of total routes over the last two seasons facing Cover 1, Fuller has tracked down 30 percent of yardage, and 38 percent of TDs. That’s a 23 percent spike to his yards/route run (YPRR). Detroit will play from Cover 1 at the highest rate in the NFL (47 percent). However, the reason this week’s opponent provides Fuller with his highest upside of the season is from the Cover 2 snaps he’ll see. Fuller is only behind Chris Godwin with 0.52 FPRt -- a 28 percent jump to his overall average -- when battling a Cover 2. On only 11 percent of routes over the same two-year stretch, Fuller has found 21 percent of his yardage, and 19 percent of TDs.
Keenan Allen, LAC ($8,000 DK | $8,200 FD) vs. Taron Johnson, BUF
Let’s face it, if you’re not disclosing your lineups to Keenan Allen at the target shares he’s being offered, swiftly altering that strategy is advised. Here are those generous shares since Justin Herbert took the reigns in Week 2: 33, 36, 52, 6 (back spasms), 32, 41, 31, 35, and 58 percent. Simply stating that Allen has garnered a 31 percent target share does little justice to those percentages. At 11.5 targets/game, “Slayer” leads the league to go along with the sixth-highest FPRt (0.51). He may only average 44.0 air yards/game, but he’s been putting up Michael Thomas-like reception totals.
For Week 12, the Chargers will travel to Orchard Park to face the Bills with the highest combined pace of play this season (142.3 plays/game). After some recent Buffalo weather, mild winds will be a welcomed environment for these passing attacks. Vegas is allotting 5.5 points to the Bills, setting Herbert and Allen up with an anticipated negative game script. Allen will deal with a Buffalo Cover 1 in man (29 percent) and Cover 4 zone (21 percent). Against Cover 1 during a 26-game stretch, Allen has generated 2.58 YPRR (15th), and 35 percent of yardage on 25 percent of routes. However, against Cover 4, his 0.61 FPRt trails only Julio Jones for the top mark. That’s a 33 percent jump to his overall average.
Stefon Diggs, BUF ($7,600 DK | $7,900 FD) vs. Chargers’ Cover 3
When deciding on your Week 12 stacks, a combination that includes either Josh Allen, Stefon Diggs, and Keenan Allen as the run-back option, or Justin Herbert, Allen, and Diggs make a ton of sense. If you haven’t been keeping score, eight-of-11 DraftKings Millionaire, six-of-11 FD Sunday Million winning lineups have featured a stack consisting of a QB with at least one of his receivers, and one of their opposing WRs. While he’s only expected to see the Cover 1 he devours at the fourth-lowest rate (14 percent), Diggs will face the NFLs highest-rate of Cover 3 shells (52 percent).
At 0.44 FPRt, Diggs ranks 17th-best, fueled by a 12 percent increase in air yards/target. Without Derwin James, Casey Hayward Jr. has been a shadow of the former All-Pro defender. Hayward ranks 79th among qualified outside CBs with an average 95.7 targeted air yards per game, proving that opposing offenses are not respecting his coverage. Chris Harris Jr failed to make the active roster last week after being designated to return from IR. His presence would certainly be a welcomed boost to their secondary. With a 28 percent target share, Diggs ranks third with 10.4 targets/game, and third with 66.4 air yards/game. Coming off their bye, expect to see another heavy dose of “Diggsy” following 14 days of valuable rest provided to the team.
Jakobi Meyers, NE ($5,300 DK | $5,800 FD) vs. Byron Murphy, ARI
Following Julian Edelman’s knee surgery, Jakobi Meyers seemingly came out of nowhere to collect target shares of 61, 64, and 100 percent from Weeks 8-to-10. Then he met Eric Murray in Houston to spoil the Meyers love parade. Whereas I predicted that Meyers would be shadowed by Bradley Roby last week, Roby actually traveled with N’Keal Harry. Nevertheless, Murray proved to be more than a match for Meyers, limiting him to 6.8 FPs. With Week 11 behind him, Meyers will play host to Arizona in Foxboro as 2.5-point home dogs.
The Cardinals play man schemes at the NFLs fifth-highest rate, the third-highest rate of Cover 1 (44 percent). Despite some solid defensive performances this season, Arizona is graciously permitting the fourth-most receptions (15.6), ninth-most YPG (178.5), and fifth-most TDs (1.3) to opposing WRs. That number is compounded further when facing slot receivers, where they’ve allowed the second-most FPG. What must be maddening for DC Vance Joseph is that slot production has come in the face of Byron Murphy actually standing as his most consistent coverage defender.
In order for a Cover 1 to work, the LBs and the strong safety need to lock down the short-to-mid range center of the field. 2020 first-round LB Isaiah Simmons has been a coverage liability (1.59 YPCS and 0.38 FPCS) thus far, and the Cardinals safety unit lost star FS Jalen Thompson to a leg injury in Week 11. To top that off, Deionte Thompson was added to the reserve/COVID-19 list today. We don’t have a ton of numbers on Meyers, but he has collected 2.92 YPRR against Cover 1 shells this season. Between the injuries at safety for the Cards, Cam Newton’s trust, and his recent production, Meyers is in a smash spot in Week 12.
Nelson Agholor, LV ($4,900 DK | $5,200 FD) vs. Darqueze Dennard, ATL
Easily the most unexpected WR recommendation I’ve handed out, Nelson Agholor went from unwanted man in Philly, to becoming the No. 1 WR in Las Vegas in a matter of months. To be clear, Agholor will never find himself higher than third on the totem pole for touches behind the Raiders’ run-heavy offense led by Josh Jacobs, and then Darren Wallerbeing the first to eat from the target plate. When facing inept run defenses, Agholor can find himself as an afterthought. However, against teams capable of stopping their ground game or when they stall it themselves, Agholor has shown the ability to generate in the neighborhood of 15-to-20 FPs.
It just so happens that their Week 12 opponent, Atlanta, has been tough on the run all season. The Falcons are allowing the third-fewest pure rushing FPG to RBs, ninth-fewest YPG. Their pass defense is another story. Atlanta is authorizing the most pure passing FPG to QBs (19.9) and third-most to WRs (43.6). Since he didn’t get much love with the Eagles, we need to focus on his numbers in 2020. The Falcons will play mostly Cover 1 (31 percent), 2 (21), and 3 (30) schemes. Against Cover 1, Agholor is averaging 15.4 air yards/target, and 1.57 YPRR. We don’t have enough snaps against Cover 2 for reliable predictions, but he’s shredded Cover 3 to the tune of 13.4 air yards/target, and 3.31 YPRR. Facing that porous Atlanta secondary should be more than enough for the Nigerian-American to cover 14.7/15.6 FP value.
Travis Kelce, KC ($7,000 DK | $8,000 FD) vs. Buccaneers’ Cover 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 or
Darren Waller, LV ($6,000 DK | $7,100 FD) vs. Deion Jones, ATL or
Mark Andrews, BAL ($5,200 DK | $6,800 FD) vs. Robert Spillane, PIT
As you might be able to guess from the three-tiered heading, this is not the week to punt the TE position. For Travis Kelce, we have the benefit of essentially fielding a massive WR into our TE slot. Kelce is two routes away from doubling up on the No. 2 TE for most routes run from out wide. With the flexibility to be utilized at every receiver position on the field, “Zeus” is a walking mismatch for every defense lacking a physical shadow corner. His 0.47 FPRt not only paces all qualified TEs, it ranks sixth against all WRs. The exact same mentality that calls for Kelce to be drafted in the first round of fantasy drafts applies to paying up for him in DFS. No other healthy TE can hold a candle to his upside.
Speaking of that TE running the second-most routes from out wide, Darren Waller has pushed his way to becoming the second-most valuable TE at the position with George Kittle lost for the remainder of the season. However, there’s a significant dropoff between him and Kelce. In order to justify Waller’s salary, we need the right matchup. We have it. Atlanta is permitting the fourth-most receptions (5.7), second-most YPG (62.2), and the most TDs (0.8) to TEs.
Finally, we have Mark Andrews. In order for my theory on Lamar Jackson possessing immense Week 12 value to come true, “MANdrews” would play an integral role. After Robert Spillane pick-sixed Jackson during their last outing, Jackson is likely to have studied that game footage extensively to find his inconsistencies. Part of the reason for Andrews' poor output in that game was a torrential downpour that led to no less than seven fumbles, most recovered by their own team. In this rematch, we have the added opportunity for Andrews exposure at reduced salaries.
Will Dissly, SEA ($2,900 DK | $4,500 FD) vs. Jalen Mills, PHI
Should you decide to punt TE, Will Dissly is a fine option with Greg Olson being placed on IR. We still don’t know who will take on Olsen’s 10 percent target share, it could also be Jacob Hollister. While 10 percent isn’t much, it would be if it were to go to one of these two on top of their current five percent target shares apiece. I landed on Dissly based on coverage shell history. When facing Cover 1 over his last 16 games, Dissly ranks 12th with 0.46 FPRt. On 17 percent of routes against the man coverage, Dissly has accrued 21 percent of his yardage, and 43 percent of TDs.
Other matchups to consider:
Alex Smith, WAS ($5,400 DK | $6,700 FD) vs. Cowboys’ Cover 4
Philip Rivers, IND ($6,100 DK | $6,800 FD) vs. Titans’ Cover 1 | 2
Derek Carr, LV ($5,700 DK | $7,100 FD) vs. Falcons’ Cover 1 | 2 | 3
Terry McLaurin, WAS ($7,000 DK | $7,900 FD) vs. Cowboys’ Cover 4
D.J. Moore, CAR ($6,200 DK | $7,300 FD) vs. Vikings’ Cover 2
Justin Jefferson, MIN ($6,300 DK | $7,000 FD) vs. Pathers’ Cover 3
Chris Godwin, TB ($6,000 DK | $7,400 FD) vs. Chiefs’ Cover 0 | 2 | 4
Matchups to Avoid
Andy Dalton, DAL ($5,600 DK | $6,800 FD) vs. Washington’s Cover 3 | 4
You hopefully took advantage of Andy Dalton against Minnesota’s Cover 2 last week. If you avoided him, you’ll want to do so again against the WFTs Cover 3 and 4 zones in Week 12. Washington has allowed the fifth-lowest pure passing FPG to QBs (12.4) and lowest to opposing WRs (29.1). Over his last 18 games against Cover 3, Dalton’s 0.28 FPDb ranks 32nd, and he’s thrown for eight percent of TDs on 25 percent of dropbacks. Against Cover 4 on 10 percent of dropbacks, his FPDb decreases by a disheartening 53 percent, and he’s found three percent of TDs. Move on from Dalton on Thanksgiving.
Carson Wentz, PHI ($5,600 DK | $7,600 FD) vs. Seahawks’ Cover 3
Unlike Dalton, Carson Wentz deserves a bit more explanation facing one of the most charitable secondaries in league history. The Seahawks have allowed the most FPG to combined offenses (114.4), second-most to QBs (24.5), and most to WRs (54.9). However, Wentz has been a walking nightmare on HC/OC Doug Pederson when facing any coverage with more than two deep defenders. In Week 12, Seattle will bring the second-highest rate of Cover 3 (46 percent). For those unaware, a Cover 3 drops three defenders deep.
When opposed by Cover 3, Wentz has actually been able to collect 32 percent of his yardage on 26 percent of dropbacks, but only eight percent of TDs. Looking deeper, he has a 0.625-to-1 TD/INT ratio. Not only that, his air yards drop across the board, and he ranks 25th with 0.32 FPDb. Since he’ll face a good amount of Cover 4 and 6 snaps out of the remaining 54 percent of dropbacks, short of kicking the young man while he’s down, I’ll just pass along his TD and INT numbers this season against the three schemes combined: one TD compared to 12 INTs. Feel free to expose your lineups to Wentz on Sunday, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Matt Ryan, ATL ($5,900 DK | $7,600 FD) vs. Raiders’ Cover 2 | 6
This fade recommendation is contingent upon Julio Jones missing Week 12. Actually, even if he plays, if he follows the same pattern of running a few routes, then leaving, returning for a few routes, leaving, rinse-and-repeat … the endorsement to avoid stands. In the four games when Matt Ryan has either been without Jones entirely, or in a limited capacity, he’s averaged 10.0 FPG. Making matters more discouraging, the Las Vegas defense that has only allotted the 14th-most FPG to QBs (16.4), and which has only allowed 14.9 (25th) over their last three. The absence of Jones doesn’t seem to impact the production of Calvin Ridley, but it places Ryan into the must-fade category.
Allen Robinson II, CHI ($6,400 DK | $6,800 FD) vs. Jaire Alexander, GB
The warning was sent two weeks back that the usefulness of Allen Robinson II would dry up after facing Tennessee. He certainly didn’t blow up in that spot (15.1 FPs), but the QB play for Chicago has simply been appalling. Over that last two weeks, HC Matt Nagy relinquished play calling duties to OC Bill Lazor, and now shade is being thrown around on who will even be under center in Week 12.
Unless they have an unknown gem stored on their private -- not real, made it up -- practice squad, does it make a single bit of difference if it’s Nick Foles or Mitchell Trubisky? Unlikely. ARob will most likely draw the shadow coverage of Jaire Alexander. When healthy, Alexander is simply one of the most dominant defenders in the game. He’s only handing out 0.70 YPCS (9th), 0.16 FPCS (8th), and 0.151 air yards/coverage snap (9th). Find another WR.
Diontae Johnson, PIT ($6,200 DK | $6,800 FD) vs. Jimmy Smith, BAL
Easily the most volatile sanction in the article. When Ben Roethlisberger gets it into his head that he wants to target a certain WR, he’ll fire 15-plus targets in his direction no matter who is covering him, or what scheme stands in his way. Unfortunately for them, if he wants to target Diontae Johnson, he’ll need to do it defended by the most dominant coverage corner this season, Jimmy Smith, on around half of his routes. Smith is conceding 0.35 YPCS (1st), 0.08 FPRt (1st), 2.7 FPG (2nd), and 0.107 air yards/coverage snap (1st).
That said, Marcus Peters will man LCB with metrics on par with humans who can “only” limit coverage responsibilities at top-30 such rates. We all have a collection of tough choices to make every Sunday. When I am evaluating where to spend $6.2K/$6.8K, I will be able to find at least a baker’s dozen of better alternatives to Johnson facing the defense that limited him to 1.6 FPs in Week 8. Over his career, Diontae has generated 6.2 FPG against Baltimore over three games. No thank you.
Deebo Samuel, SF ($5,400 DK | $6,000 FD) vs. Jalen Ramsey, LAR
As with every recommendation to fade that has landed across from Jalen Ramsey this season, this won’t take much of your time. Ramsey is permitting 0.63 YPCS (7th), 0.15 FPCS (5th), and 0.154 air yards/coverage snap (10th). News flash: Jalen Ramsey is pretty good. Deebo Samuel passed along on Twitter (below) that he intends to play this week. Perhaps Week 13 would have been the more optimal target date.
Marvin Jones Jr., DET ($5,500 DK | $6,000 FD) vs. Bradley Roby, HOU
Another of the unheralded -- unless you’ve been reading my articles, that is -- shadow corners quietly wreaking havoc on WR upside. Bradley Roby has done his All-Pro level work without the benefit of much surrounding assistance. That hasn’t stopped him from limiting his No. 1 WR shadows to 0.75 YPCS (12th), 0.21 FPCS (29th), and 0.192 air yards/coverage snap (24th). When he’s faced Cover 1 shells over the last two seasons, Marvin Jones Jr. ranks 52nd with 0.37 FPRt. He’ll face Cover 1 from Houston at the 10th-highest rate with Roby traveling with him throughout. You can do better.
Tyler Higbee, LAR ($3,700 DK | $5,300 FD) vs. Fred Warner, SF
When it comes to coverage LBs, only a few can hold up to the ability of Fred Warner. He’s permitted 0.58 YPCS (11th), 0.17 FPCS (16th), and 0.05 air yards/coverage snap (17th). Considering Tyler Higbee has been unable to manage at least 10 FPs since Week 2, his Week 12 matchup is not going to help matters. During the offseason, many felt the Rams’ would shift to 12 personnel to accommodate both Higbee, and Gerald Everett. That assumption has not come to fruition. With sub-11 percent target shares in six-of-seven games since that Week 2 explosion, we need to face the reality that the WRs rule the passing attack within 11 personnel for Los Angeles.
Dalton Schultz, DAL ($3,800 DK | $5,300 FD) vs. Cole Holcomb, WAS
If you watched the Cowboys in Week 11, you’ll have witnessed Dalton Schultz scoring his third TD of the season, and garnering another target share around 20 percent. He’s seen at least 19 percent over his last four games. However, in addition to Andy Dalton’s struggles against the Cover 3 and 4 zones he’ll face, the Washington defense is pretty damn good. While they’ve allowed the 13th-most FPG overall to TEs (13.5), they’ve refined their technique to limiting the position to the 18th-most (9.9) over their last three. Whatever chance Schultz had for forcing some production is nullified by facing Cole Holcomb. The former University of North Carolina walk-on is limiting his coverage responsibilities to 0.50 YPCS (5th), 0.10 FPCS (3rd), and 0.043 air yards/coverage snap (13th).
Other matchups to avoid:
Ben Roethlisberger, PIT ($6,600 DK | $7,700 FD) vs. Ravens’ Cover 0 | 1
Ryan Tannehill, TEN ($5,800 DK | $7,500 FD) vs. Colts’ Cover 2 | 6
Nick Mullins, SF ($5,200 DK | $6,600 FD) vs. Rams’ Cover 4 | 6
Drew Lock, DEN ($5,100 DK | $6,700 FD) vs. Saints’ Cover 1 | 4
A.J. Brown, TEN ($6,700 DK | $7,500 FD) vs. Colts’ Cover 2 | 6
Amari Cooper, DAL ($5,700 DK | $6,900 FD) vs. Redskins’ Cover 3 | 4