The amount of information you need to sift through on a weekly basis to build some competitive lineups can seem overwhelming. You’re in the right place to get through all of that information in no time, and we have another tool for you to add to your arsenal. Each week, we’ll break down the best and worst rushing and passing matchups for Sunday’s main slate of games.
This will allow you to quickly zero in on the top anchors for your lineups, and we’ll also point out which players you’ll want to avoid as you fill out the rest of your roster. There’s a ton of choices to examine on a weekly basis. The goal of this article is to help you narrow the field of targets down substantially.
Let’s get right to it, starting with the week’s top matchups.
Matchups to Exploit
Carolina Panthers Passing Offense vs Green Bay Packers Passing Defense
Cam Newton hasn’t been lighting it up when it comes to yardage of late, but he’s boasting a 7-to-1 touchdown to interception ratio over his past four games. Part of the reason for the lack of yardage is that Newton is back to the point that he’s making things happen with his legs. He started off the season a little hesitant on that front, but he’s really come on since Week 6. Over that span, Newton has six games with 50 rushing yards or more, and he’s rushed for three scores to boot. He has a nice chance to make some noise through the air this week when he faces off against the Green Bay Packers.
The Packers secondary has really been struggling of late, as the club has allowed nine passing touchdowns over the past three games. Ben Roethlisberger tossed three in Week 12, and that was followed by Jameis Winston throwing for two scores the following week. Last week, DeShone Kizer was able to find the end zone three times. In short, it’s a nice spot for Newton to do some damage, but finding a target to pair with him is a little tricky. Greg Olsen is back in the lineup, but he received only a single target last week. The Packers are also relatively stingy to opposing tight ends, so Devin Funchess might be the safest choice to pair up with Newton.
New England Patriots Passing Offense at Pittsburgh Steelers Passing Defense
The most anticipated matchup of the regular season projects to be a high-scoring affair, as Vegas has dropped a projected total of 53.5 points on this tilt between AFC superpowers. The New England Patriots come into this one off of a relatively surprising loss against the Miami Dolphins, and it’s hard to bet against a bounce back performance from Tom Brady and company. Brady delivered his worst performance of the season against the Dolphins - 233 yards, one score, and two picks - and he’s had an entire week to listen to all the chatter that suggests he’s done for. To state the obvious, he’s not. He had an off game that was compounded by the fact that Rob Gronkowski was in street clothes, but he’ll head into this one with a full array of weapons.
In spite of the fact that the Pittsburgh Steelers are in the midst of an eight-game winning streak, the club has been showing some chinks in the armor of late. Most notably, the secondary is slipping as the season gets long in the tooth. The last three signal callers that the Steelers have faced have found the end zone on multiple occasions, and we’re talking about the likes of Brett Hundley, Andy Dalton, and Joe Flacco. Brady should have little trouble finding the same holes that this trio did, and he’ll once again quiet the noise that comes around anytime the Patriots lose. Gronkowski, Brandin Cooks, and Chris Hogan are the top stacking options in that order, but there should be more than enough volume to go around in a potential shootout.
New Orleans Saints Passing Offense vs New York Jets Passing Defense
To be clear, this is not the New Orleans Saints offense of old. The Saints are employing a balanced attack that features the devastating one-two punch at running back of Mark Ingram II and Alvin Kamara, and Drew Brees doesn’t have to do as much as a result. That said, Brees can still sling the rock with the best of him, and he can still tack up the yardage and scores when the situation calls for it. He’s thrown for multiple scores in seven games, and thrown for 250+ yards nine times. Brees also leads the league in completion rate and net yards per attempt, and he has some rather impressive chemistry with top target Michael Thomas.
The pair should be able to find success against a feisty New York Jets team that has had its share of struggles in the secondary. While the Jets have been much more competitive in 2017 than anyone expected, the club is still prone to some serious gaffes. Opposing signal callers have been more than happy to take advantage of them, and nine of those that have faced off against the Jets have thrown for multiple scores. There is some risk to focusing on the Saints passing attack for this tilt, as the Saints come in as a massive 16-point favorite. However, we can look for the Saints to get up big off of the strength of the Brees-Thomas connection before they call the dogs off and allow the running game to handle things in the second half.
Miami Dolphins Rushing Offense at Buffalo Bills Rushing Defense
When perfect storms pop up for DFS purposes, it’s good practice to perk up and take notice. This is one of those times. We have a running back on the rise that’s facing off against a porous run defense. While there are absolutely no guarantees when it comes to projecting fantasy performances, this is about as appealing as it gets when it comes to having visions of fantasy gold dancing through your head. Kenyan Drake has been excellent since taking over as the lead back for the Miami Dolphins, but his official coming out party occurred this past week on Monday Night Football against the New England Patriots.
Drake ran for 114 yards and hauled in five passes for another 79 yards. He didn’t find the end zone, but he has three scores on his resume since taking over as the lead back. We would imagine he has to be licking his chops as he prepares to face off against the Buffalo Bills, a club that has given up a staggering 781 rushing yards and nine rushing touchdowns over the past five games. The current forecast for Buffalo calls for chilly temps and overcast skies, so it doesn’t appear that we have to worry about a repeat of last week’s snow globe game to slow things down. Drake remains affordable across the industry, and he deserves a spot on your short list for Week 15.
Philadelphia Eagles Rushing Offense at New York Giants Rushing Defense
A substantial amount of air came out of the Philadelphia Eagles balloon when Carson Wentz went down with a season-ending injury last week, but the club is far from down and out. Nick Foles is one of the league’s better backup quarterbacks, and he should have no problem jumping in and efficiently running a system he’s quite comfortable with. To make things even better, the Eagles also have some serious talent in the backfield that they can lean on more heavily as the temps get colder, and that could start this week when they face off with the New York Giants.
It’s been a long season for the Giants, and the club’s run defense is getting weaker as things move along. Over the past three weeks, Samaje Perine, Marshawn Lynch, and the duo of Alfred Morris and Rod Smith have had their way against them. The stars align for Jay Ajayi and LeGarrette Blount to do the same this week, especially when you consider that the duo could see even more work now that Foles is at the helm. Ajayi received the bulk of the carries last week, while Blount and Corey Clement received a similar amount in secondary roles. Now that Ajayi has had some more time to pick up the offense, the split could remain the same. He looks to be the safest choice among Eagles backs this week, and he could be in line for a productive day.
Matchups to Avoid
Cincinnati Bengals Passing Offense at Minnesota Vikings Passing Defense
The Cincinnati Bengals offense looked to be in line for a productive day against the Chicago Bears last week, but the wheels fell off as the club mailed in an embarrassing performance. The Bengals are not in line for a bounce back performance with a road trip to visit one of the league’s top teams on the docket. The Minnesota Vikings have been doing a fantastic job of holding opposing signal callers in check, as only three of the 13 they’ve faced have managed to throw for 250 yards or more. The talent is still there for Andy Dalton and company to be productive on occasion, but it’s hard to see this game turning into anything other than another rout.
New York Jets Passing Offense at New Orleans Saints Passing Defense
When we have an inexperienced signal caller heading into a hostile environment, we need to cross that quarterback off the list and move along. That’s the situation at hand as Bryce Petty takes over for the injured Josh McCown to lead the New York Jets for their road date against the New Orleans Saints. This is not the porous Saints defense of old by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, the Saints are where they are off of the strength of the unit and the club’s imposing running game. Rookie Marshon Lattimore has been a revelation in the secondary, and he’ll give Petty plenty to think about before he chucks it downfield. The Saints are a huge 16-point favorite in this one, but we’re not optimistic that will lead to a ton of garbage time fantasy points for Petty and company as they play catch up.
Houston Texans Passing Offense at Jacksonville Jaguars Passing Defense
The stout passing defense of the Jacksonville Jaguars was put to the test last week by Russell Wilson, who managed to throw for 271 yards and three scores. Wilson was also picked off three times and dropped twice by the ferocious Jaguars defense as the Seattle Seahawks went down to defeat by a score of 30-24. It was an impressive victory for the Jaguars, and that always opens up the risk that a let down game is coming the following week. We’re not too concerned about that happening, as the struggling Houston Texans are coming to town with a new quarterback behind center. T.J. Yates mans the reins for a club that has lost three straight, and there’s nothing to suggest he’ll find any success against the Jaguars. We can safely take a pass on Yates and company this week.
Cleveland Browns Rushing Offense vs Baltimore Ravens Rushing Defense
The run defense of the Baltimore Ravens has really come along as the season has evolved. The Ravens have not allowed an opposing back to crack the 100 yard threshold since Week 7, and they were even able to hold Le'Veon Bell to just 48 rushing yards last week. Of course, Bell did some damage in the passing game and found the end zone three times altogether, so this is far from an infallible defense. That said, the unit can easily hold weaker offenses in check, and that’s the situation at hand when they take on the Cleveland Browns. Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson Jr can be productive under the right circumstances, but this is far too risky a spot to bank on that happening.
New York Giants Rushing Offense vs Philadelphia Eagles Rushing Defense
The New York Giants haven’t been able to get much of anything going on the ground in recent weeks, and that’s not going to change when they face off against one of the league’s top run defenses. Todd Gurley was able to find some success against the Philadelphia Eagles last week, but the club has been smothering opposing backs on an overall basis. Orleans Darkwa showed some flashes earlier this season, but he’s been less than impressive over the last three tilts. Wayne Gallman saw some more work during last week’s loss to the Dallas Cowboys, and we could see more of the same as the season winds down. Regardless of which way the running back rotation breaks down, we can take a pass on Giants backs this week.
Enjoy the games this weekend, and best of luck with your lineups. Feel free to hit me up anytime via email - firstname.lastname@example.org - with questions or comments.