How Bucs D Can Shut Down Jonathan Taylor
NFL Week 12 – Happy Thanksgiving! Here is a somewhat abbreviated detailing of the players with the best and worst matchups in Week 12. I hope they can help make traditional fantasy and DFS victories a Thanksgiving tradition for you on par with turkey, family, and football.
The following tables feature the players with the best and worst matchups of the week. Each listed player shows a true-talent (TT) ranking that represents how I would rank him with a perfectly neutral game context. Then, that ranking is adjusted by adding the context of the venue (Ven)—home and road and dome and outside—the forecasted weather (Wea), and opponent tendencies (Opp). The line beneath those rankings shows how much those contextual factors move projected PPR fantasy points. That total (Tot) number gives you a comprehensive estimate of how many fantasy points the player will score this week more or less than his typical total.
You can see our full weekly projections with projected stats, matchup adjustments and fantasy points by subscribing to FO+.
|Best Week 12 Matchups – Quarterbacks|
Starting Tyrod Taylor and Andy Dalton in traditional formats may not be high on your Thanksgiving wish lists. But their matchups are enticing enough to make them considerations. Taylor draws a Jets defense ranked 32nd in pass defense DVOA and is a top-six increaser of completion rate (6%), yards per pass attempt (15%), and touchdowns per pass attempt (12%), and the No. 1 cutter of interception rate (34%). Dalton gets a Lions defense ranked 28th in pass defense DVOA and is a top-five booster of passing yards (13%) and touchdowns per attempt (24%). And both quarterbacks will play their games in domes—the former at home in Houston and the latter in Detroit—a benefit that should start amplifying now that temperatures are dipping into the 30s for some games. Compared to even average weather, domes increase passing yards and touchdowns by 4% and 8% per attempt or more, no matter if a quarterback is at home or on the road. With so many factors in their favors, Taylor and Dalton jump into or near QB1 status for the week at eighth and 13th at the position.
Best DraftKings Values: Tyrod Taylor ($1,100 underpriced at $5,300), Cam Newton ($500 underpriced at $5,600), Tom Brady ($300 underpriced at $7,600)
Best FanDuel Values: Tom Brady ($800 underpriced at $8,200), Tyrod Taylor ($400 underpriced at $7,400), Joe Burrow ($200 underpriced at $7,100)
Even in his best matchups, Tom Brady rarely sees a discount in a daily setting. But I think there is a broad misreading of the results of last week’s Bills-Colts blowout. The Colts are a top 10-DVOA defense, yes. But informed by the full season, the Colts are dramatically better against the run (second) than the pass (20th). Unsurprisingly then, they increase passing touchdown rate by 44%. The Bucs have top-five passing and rushing offenses, but chances are they will throw frequently to prey on their opponent’s relative weakness. And now that he has last week’s win over the Giants as a palate-cleanser from an uncharacteristic two-game losing streak, Brady seems likely to continue his march toward 50 touchdowns this Sunday. Feel free to stack the Bucs passing game, especially in FanDuel where Brady enjoys a bigger surplus of $800 at a modest $8,200 salary.
|Worst Week 12 Matchups – Quarterbacks|
Kirk Cousins hung 341 yards and three touchdowns on the Packers on Sunday and took the fear out of a matchup with a defense that had climbed up to eighth in pass defense DVOA—they’re down to 12th now. But keep in mind that Cousins’ outburst came in the dome in Minnesota. Matthew Stafford will face a different challenge against the Packers in the elements in Green Bay. The forecast there calls for 38 degrees and sustained winds of 13 mph this Sunday afternoon. And that projects to cost Stafford 0.8 fantasy points compared to a neutral context—and even more compared to his friendly dome stadium in Los Angeles. All told, Stafford falls from 12th in true talent to 14th at the position this week. I’m not sure I could pull the trigger on his benching for Taylor or Dalton. But I’d for sure avoid him in daily formats where salaries are involved.
Worst DraftKings Values: Matthew Stafford ($1,200 overpriced at $7,100), Ryan Tannehill ($600 overpriced at $6,100), Aaron Rodgers ($500 overpriced at $6,900)
Worst FanDuel Values: Cam Newton ($400 overpriced at $8,000), Matthew Stafford ($300 overpriced at $7,700), Ryan Tannehill ($100 overpriced at $7,200)
Even before the last few weeks, Ryan Tannehill would have been a tough sale for fantasy this weekend. He has averaged 5.7 more fantasy points per game at home than on the road in his Titans tenure, a top-three split among current starters. And the Patriots are hardly your typical road opponent. Even without Stephon Gilmore, they are up to second in pass defense DVOA, and they cut passing yards and touchdowns by 7% and 22% per attempt and increase interceptions per attempt by 109%, the highest rate in football. But Tannehill has a whole new set of problems since the loss of Derrick Henry. His yards per play-action attempt have plummeted by more than 3 yards in recent weeks, suggesting defenses do not play for the Titans run game the same without Henry as they did with him. Really, Tannehill’s modest ranking of 18th in true talent may be too high. But a matchup that drops him further to 24th makes it an easy decision. Bench Tannehill in all but your deeper two-quarterback leagues.
|Best Week 12 Matchups – Running Backs|
Rex Burkhead out-snapped his Texans early-down teammate Phillip Lindsay 27 to two and out-touched him 18 to one in Week 11. And while I might have leaned toward an assumption of a fluke, the Texans doubled down with their decision to release Lindsay this week. It isn’t a slam dunk; the Texans recently claimed Royce Freeman from the Panthers and still have David Johnson, who will likely lead the team in touches and definitely targets in many future weeks given their bottom-five DVOA rating and tendency to trail in games. But assuming one can trust Burkhead’s new role in the offense, his Week 12 matchup pops. The Jets increase run plays by 11% per game and increase rushing yards and touchdowns by 13% and 124% per attempt. As such, I’ve bumped Burkhead into back-end RB2 territory and like him as a value at just $4,200 and $5,700 in DraftKings and FanDuel, specifically.
Best DraftKings Values: Rex Burkhead ($1,600 underpriced at $4,200), AJ Dillon ($1,400 underpriced at $5,900), Ty Johnson ($1,000 underpriced at $4,300)
Best FanDuel Values: Rex Burkhead ($900 underpriced at $5,700), AJ Dillon ($800 underpriced at $6,900), Ty Johnson ($800 underpriced at $5,200)
Beyond Burkhead, I expect both AJ Dillon and Ty Johnson to see more work this week than their typical standards. Dillon’s case is obvious. He jumped from a 38% snap share in Aaron Jones’ last healthy start in Week 9 to a 75% share last week and out-touched his only remaining backup, Patrick Taylor, 17 to four. Dillon’s failure to score is the only reason his salaries aren’t in the top 10 where I rank him. But Dillon is 247 pounds and has a standout 2.3 yards after contact per attempt this season. He’ll be the back to score when the Packers have their red zone opportunities, at least until Jones makes his return—and you should confirm on Sunday morning that won’t be this weekend.
Johnson is more of an assumption. Lead Jets back Michael Carter sprained his MCL on Sunday, which opens the door for more work. Johnson had the same 33% snap share in Week 11 that teammate Tevin Coleman did, but Johnson has also out-targeted Coleman 38 to seven this season. With the Jets likely to trail each week, Johnson is my pick to replace the receiving work that made Carter valuable in the first place.
|Worst Week 12 Matchups – Running Backs|
Jonathan Taylor turned what I thought was a difficult rushing matchup with the Bills into 204 total yards and five touchdowns last week. It’s almost silly, then, to bring him up as facing a poor matchup this week against the Bucs. But unlike the presumably balanced Bills defense, the Bucs are stronger against the run (fourth) than the pass (seventh) and cut opponent run plays by 35% per game, the most in football. Teams tend to try to throw on the Bucs even before they fall behind in the second half. And while the Colts aren’t most teams, I can’t help but fear that Taylor has become too expensive in the daily formats even if his projected loss of 0.9 fantasy points does not cost him his No. 2 spot in the running back rankings behind Christian McCaffrey. Taylor’s $9,100 DraftKings and $9.800 FanDuel salaries are up $800 and $1,000 from last week.
Worst DraftKings Values: Joe Mixon ($600 overpriced at $7,500), Latavius Murray ($600 overpriced at $5,000), Mike Davis ($500 overpriced at $4,900)
Worst FanDuel Values: Mike Davis ($700 overpriced at $5,900), Joe Mixon ($600 overpriced at $8,000), Jonathan Taylor ($600 overpriced at $9,800)
Latavius Murray finally returned from his ankle injury after a month-plus of infrequent updates. And while it’s possible that he eased back into things, he played just 37% of snaps and did not dent the 58% share Devonta Freeman has now had the last three weeks. I think that may be a sign of a new backfield order. Freeman may be on the back nine of his career, but he’s leading all backs with 50 or more carries with a 67.8% rushing success rate. And even if Murray can cut into Freeman’s rushing workload, he’s unlikely to make the same headway as a receiver with just seven targets on his ledger in as many games this season. Unless things change, avoid Murray in even his best matchups in DFS.
|Best Week 12 Matchups – Wide Receivers|
On this week’s waiver wire episode of the Football Outsiders Fantasy Show, scouting expert Derrik Klassen shared a pessimistic view of Darnell Mooney’s prospects of becoming an elite receiver. But Mooney may not need a better skill set to translate his Thursday circumstances into top-10 receiver production. Normal No. 1 Bears receivers Allen Robinson is doubtful to return from his injured hamstring on the short turnaround. That makes Mooney an unquestioned No. 1 receiver against a Lions team that boosts No. 1 receiver yards by 34% per target, fourth-most in football. And while Andy Dalton may not be better than Justin Fields in the broader sense, he will likely help Mooney from a fantasy perspective. The rushing-capable Fields has averaged just 24.6 pass attempts per start this season, more than 10 fewer than the NFL average. Mooney enjoyed a career high 16 targets last week in similar circumstances.
Best DraftKings Values: Laviska Shenault ($600 underpriced at $4,400), Chris Godwin ($500 underpriced at $7,000), Michael Pittman ($100 underpriced at $5,600)
Best FanDuel Values: Laviska Shenault ($500 underpriced at $5,600), Van Jefferson ($300 underpriced at $5,400), Keenan Allen ($200 underpriced at $7,000)
When DJ Chark went out for the season, I assumed Laviska Shenault would be a major beneficiary. Instead, Jamal Agnew out-targeted Shenault 28 to 26 from Weeks 6 to 10. But now that Agnew is done for the rest of the year too, the Jaguars are out of alternatives. Behind Shenault and Marvin Jones on the outside, the team is down to former draft busts such as Tavon Austin and Laquon Treadwell and journeyman John Brown on his third team in the last two seasons. Expect an uptick in Shenault target volume, and that may even translate into decent fantasy production at home against a Falcons defense ranked 29th in pass defense DVOA.
|Worst Week 12 Matchups – Wide Receivers|
Mike Williams played the hero with a 53-yard touchdown catch to beat the Steelers on Sunday. But that one explosive play shouldn’t distract you from Williams’ decline from a 25.2% target share in Weeks 1 to 5 to a 14.4% share since. I’ve dropped him to 25th in my true talent rankings, and he falls further to 31st this week thanks to a trip to the elements in Mile High. The Broncos are more middle-of-the-pack with their 17th ranking in pass defense DVOA than their reputation might suggest. But after hitting on rookie cornerback Patrick Surtain II in the draft, the Broncos are unusually equipped to deal with No. 2 receivers and cut their catch rates, yards per target, and touchdowns per target by about 15%. Keenan Allen will likely fare better running more of his routes from the slot.
Worst DraftKings Values: DJ Moore ($1,900 overpriced at $6,200), Kadarius Toney ($1,000 overpriced at $5,200), Mike Williams ($700 overpriced at $5,700)
Worst FanDuel Values: DJ Moore ($1,100 overpriced at $6,700), Mike Williams ($500 overpriced at $6,600), Davante Adams ($500 overpriced at $8,700)
DJ Moore caught a touchdown on a neat run-pass option on Sunday. But that one play doesn’t ease my concerns for his fantasy value with Cam Newton as his new quarterback. Newton is a better player than his predecessor Sam Darnold. But Newton does his best work with his legs, and that will likely lead to fewer throws—he had just 27 in Week 11 even in a loss—and especially fewer throws in the red zone, where he tends to lean on himself near the goal line. Add that to Moore’s more difficult Week 12 matchup against a Dolphins team that cuts yards by 12% to No. 1 receivers and I would leave him out of your daily lineups this weekend.
|Best Week 12 Matchups – Tight Ends|
It’s always tough to lose Travis Kelce to a bye week with tight ends as thin as they are. But Week 12 makes it a bit easier with several of the elite options at the position enjoying plus matchups. Kyle Pitts and Darren Waller may have the best of them. The Jaguars increase tight end catch rate, yards per target, and touchdowns per target by 12%, 19%, and 40%, respectively, all top-seven in football. And while Waller skews a little less fantasy friendly with his 9%, 21%, and 8% Cowboys rates, he has also seen 11, seven, and eight targets in the three weeks since Henry Ruggs played his last game. With that increased workload, Waller will likely land at my No. 1 tight end spot even in some weeks that Kelce plays. Start both as you normally would in every kind of traditional format. But I’m especially fine to pay up for Waller in DFS, where his prices remain unadjusted for his recent uptick in volume.
Best DraftKings Values: Rob Gronkowski ($1,000 underpriced at $4,400), Pharaoh Brown ($700 underpriced at $2,800), Gerald Everett ($100 underpriced at $3,600)
Best FanDuel Values: Pharaoh Brown ($500 underpriced at $4,500), Dan Arnold ($300 underpriced at $5,100), Pat Freiermuth ($300 underpriced at $5,300)
Like most of the elite tight ends, Rob Gronkowski is seldom underpriced in daily formats. But I think fantasy players caught a break with his Monday night return from broken ribs in Week 11. Gronk looked great catching six of eight targets for 71 yards and managing a 59% snap share that wasn’t far short of his 80% standard in his health Weeks 1 and 2. But the late kickoff likely influenced his stagnant prices. Gronk is just $4,400 in DraftKings and $6,500 in FanDuel this week, up just $100 and $500 compared to last week. Frankly, I might pay more than those increases for the Colts matchup that boosts yards and touchdowns by 7% and 25% per target to the position. If you plan to stack the Bucs passing game, be sure to include the team’s star tight end.
|Worst Week 12 Matchups – Tight Ends|
Dawson Knox had 10 targets and 80 yards in Week 11, and that eased the concerns I had for the health of his broken hand after he returned with just one target and 17 yards in Week 10. But while I think that latest performance secures Knox a TE1 seat, he nearly loses it this week in a difficult matchup with the Saints. They are a top-three cutter of tight end yards and touchdowns by 26% and 74% per target, and even in the dome in New Orleans, Knox loses 1.1 projected PPR points and falls from eighth to 11th in my positional rankings.
Worst DraftKings Values: George Kittle ($1,500 overpriced at $6,400), Mike Gesicki ($1,000 overpriced at $5,300), Hunter Henry ($900 overpriced at $4,500)
Worst FanDuel Values: George Kittle ($600 overpriced at $6,700), Mike Gesicki ($600 overpriced at $6,200), Hunter Henry ($400 overpriced at $5,600)
George Kittle has scored a touchdown in all three of his starts since his Week 9 return from a calf injury. And while that’s little surprise in the sense that Kittle may be the most gifted tight end in football, it is a surprise since the 49ers have relied less on Kittle as a pass-catcher in the red zone than you would likely expect. He had just 14 touchdowns in four seasons from 2017 to 2020 and has averaged just 4.0 expected touchdowns per 100 targets since 2019, the third-lowest total of tight ends with 100 or more targets. It’s a bad bet to assume a Kittle touchdown each week, and it could be an especially bad bet against the Vikings this week. They have allowed just one touchdown to tight ends all season. Only the Broncos, Cardinals, and Saints can claim the same.