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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 item 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
New England Patriots Passing Offense vs Miami Dolphins Passing Defense
Tom Brady and company delivered another stellar performance last week against the Oakland Raiders, as the Patriots cruised to a 33-8 victory in a game that wasn’t as close as the score suggested. The Patriots passing offense was as efficient as ever, as Brady threw for 339 yards and three scores. Another appealing matchup awaits the Patriots in Week 12, as the Miami Dolphins are coming to town for a game that features one of the week’s highest projected totals at 48.5 points. The Patriots are a huge 16.5-point favorite as of this writing, but don’t let the potential lopsided affair give you too much pause.
For starters, the Patriots are not exactly known for taking their collective foot off of the gas pedal. Bill Belichick has zero problem exploiting weaknesses that he sees - even when the game may seem out of reach. Even if they do decide to pull the reins back a bit, Brady can do more than enough damage before the dogs are completely called off. The Dolphins have allowed multiple passing touchdowns in two of the last three games, and Ryan Fitzpatrick was able to pick apart the shaky secondary on deep routes last week. Brady is one of the week’s top quarterback choices, and Brandin Cooks looks particularly appealing for a stacking option. A case can easily be made for Rob Gronkowski as well, and remember to keep Danny Amendola on the radar for contrarian purposes if Chris Hogan remains out.
Pittsburgh Steelers Passing Offense vs Green Bay Packers Passing Defense
Ben Roethlisberger hasn’t exactly had his finest season ever for fantasy purposes in 2017, but the passing attack of the Pittsburgh Steelers has been improving as the season has moved along. Roethlisberger has thrown for multiple scores in three of his last four outings, including a whopping four last week against the Tennessee Titans. As we all know, the pieces are in place for this to be one of the league’s most explosive offenses, and that may finally be coming to fruition as the playoffs draw near. The Steelers offense has an opportunity to take even more steps forward this week, as the secondary of the Green Bay Packers is quite beatable.
Last week, Joe Flacco threw for only 183 yards against the Packers, but that was mainly because the Baltimore Ravens cruised to a 23-0 victory. For the three weeks prior to that, rookie Mitchell Trubisky was the low man on the totem pole with 297 passing yards, while both Drew Brees and Matthew Stafford threw for 300+ yards. Over the last six games, six opposing wideouts have gained at least 88 yards, while wide receivers have found the end zone eight times over that same time span. In short, it’s a good week to fire up some Roethlisberger stacks. Antonio Brown remains the top choice to pair with him, as he’s coming in off of an explosive 10/144/3 performance. JuJu Smith-Schuster was held relatively in check against the Titans, but that was after three consecutive weeks with a score.
Atlanta Falcons Passing Offense vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers Passing Defense
Prior to the start of the regular season, there were some thoughts that the Atlanta Falcons offense may take some time to gel with a new offensive coordinator in town. Those thoughts proved to be correct. The offense is nowhere near as efficient as it was during last year’s run to the Super Bowl, but Matt Ryan seems to be finding his stride as the season moves along. Over the last four games, the Falcons have gone 3-1 while Ryan has thrown for multiple scores in all of them. The yardage has only been there in two of the four performance, as he had a pair of 250+ yard games and another two with less than that.
Both the yardage and the scores could be there this week, as he gets to face off against the very beatable secondary of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Of the 11 quarterbacks the Buccaneers have faced this season, nine of them have thrown for at least 260 yards. One of them came last week in the form of a relief appearance by Matt Moore. While the Buccaneers were able to hold Jay Cutler in check, the defense folded up like a card table after he went down to injury. The Falcons enter the game as a 9.5-point favorite in a game with a projected total of 48.5 points, and the stars are aligning for another solid performance by Ryan. Stunningly, Julio Jones has only found the end zone once this season, and he’s crossed the 100-yard threshold just twice. His price is down across the industry due to that, and this could be a great week to take advantage of that by pairing him up with Ryan for a relatively affordable stack.
Buffalo Bills Rushing Offense at Kansas City Chiefs Rushing Defense
After looking like a serious Super Bowl contender through the first five weeks of the season, things have come crashing back to earth for the Kansas City Chiefs in a big way. The club has lost four of five, which includes an embarrassing loss last week to a New York Giants club that is having all sorts of problems of its own. Throughout the inconsistent season for the Chiefs, one factor has remained on the consistent side of the ledger: the team’s run defense is inherently beatable. While we can certainly be on the understanding side when units allow big days to backs the likes of LeVeon Bell or Ezekiel Elliott, the same can’t be said when the unit pulls the same trick against running backs such as Orleans Darkwa or Darren Sproles.
That’s not take anything away from either Darkwa or Sproles, but rather to point out something that’s missing on the 2017 version of the Chiefs: a serious contender should be able to mitigate the damage caused by lesser opponents. The Chiefs aren’t doing that, and our interest gets piqued when a top-level back faces off against them as a result. LeSean McCoy certainly fits into that category, as he has been the engine that has made the offense of the Buffalo Bills go. While McCoy’s output has been a mixed bag this season, he remains a threat to have a monster game whenever he hits the field. The workload remains consistent, and he should see more than enough opportunities to make some noise against the Chiefs.
Denver Broncos Passing Offense At Oakland Raiders Passing Defense
Paxton Lynch is taking the reins for the listless offense of the Denver Broncos. It’s time for club brass to get a handle on whether or not the 2016 first-rounder is the clubs quarterback of the future or not. There’s no time like the present to figure that out, as the Broncos are in the midst of a six-game losing streak and clearly going nowhere fast. While there’s risk inherent in rostering a young signal caller in his first outing of the year, Lynch couldn’t ask for a better opponent to take the field against.
The Oakland Raiders passing defense has been absolutely atrocious, and that’s not hyperbole. Over the past three weeks, the Raiders have allowed the most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. Tom Brady put the cherry on top last week, as he threw for 339 yards and three scores. Additionally, the Raiders have not picked off a single pass all season. Repeat: the Raiders do not have a single interception all season. While we can’t promise you that Lynch won’t be the one to break that streak, we also don’t have any faith that the Raiders will hold him completely in check. For the single lineup crowd, rostering Lynch and a pass catching option such as Demaryius Thomas may be too risky of an endeavor, but a stack along those lines makes a ton of sense as part of a multiple-lineup strategy.
Matchups to Avoid
Green Bay Packers Passing Offense at Pittsburgh Steelers Passing Defense
After two decent outings against the Detroit Lions and Chicago Bears, Brett Hundley took a step back in his development with an awful performance against the Baltimore Ravens last week. That wasn’t all that surprising as the Ravens defense has evolved nicely as the season has moved along, but Hundley looked particularly out of sorts while tossing three picks. He may have a similar look this week when he faces off against the Pittsburgh Steelers, which has been one of the top clubs in the league against the pass. On the season, the Steelers have allowed only nine passing touchdowns while holding eight of the ten signal callers they’ve faced to less than 250 passing yards. Hundley and company are easy fades in Week 12.
Chicago Bears Passing Offense at Philadelphia Eagles Rushing Defense
Mitchell Trubisky and the anemic offense of the Chicago Bears have the privilege of facing off with the Philadelphia Eagles this week. It’s a gigantic mismatch on paper, as the Eagles are looking every bit the part of a Super Bowl contender, while the Bears are struggling through another season that could lead to some changes in the Windy City. The Eagles have scored 33 points or more in four consecutive games, but with the exception of Kirk Cousins during that stretch, they’ve thoroughly held opposing signal callers in check. Over the past five games, the Eagles have managed to pick off a phenomenal 11 passes. Trubisky is not the wisest play for DFS purposes this week, but the Eagles defense should be on your short list.
New York Jets Rushing Offense vs Carolina Panthers Rushing Defense
For the season as a whole, the rushing offense of the New York Jets has been inconsistent. There have been some bright spots - Week 4 against the Jacksonville Jaguars and Week 9 versus the Buffalo Bills, for example - but the stars haven’t aligned for other potential blow-up spots. There’s no reason to be optimistic that things will work out swimmingly this week either. The Carolina Panthers boast one of the league’s top rushing defenses. Only one team has exceeded the 100-yard threshold on the ground - the New Orleans Saints in Week 3 - while the Panthers have allowed just four rushing scores in 2017. We can pass on Bilal Powell and company and look elsewhere for Week 12’s running back values.
Arizona Cardinals Rushing Offense vs Jacksonville Jaguars Rushing Defense
When Adrian Peterson joined the Arizona Cardinals and took the field in Week 9, he looked like he had found the fountain of youth in his travels. Peterson exploded for 167 combined yards while touching the ball a staggering 39 times. Since that point, Peterson has been held completely in check. That’s not entirely his fault, as the Cardinals lost left tackle D.J. Humphries during the Week 10 game against the Seattle Seahawks. Uncoincidentally, Peterson’s struggles started at the same time. There’s nothing to suggest he’ll be able to turn it around this week against the Jacksonville Jaguars, a team that has a stout run defense to complement its elite-level pass defense.
San Francisco 49ers Rushing Offense vs Seattle Seahawks Rushing Defense
Way back in Week 2, Carlos Hyde found some success against the Seattle Seahawks. Hyde didn’t find the end zone, but he produced 143 total yards. Don’t expect a repeat performance this time around. DeMarco Murray would find success the following week, but no other back has been able to make the same claim. The Seahawks run defense has improved dramatically from that point, and there’s nothing to suggest that's going to stop. The front four has been solid, and linebacker Bobby Wagner has been stellar against those that are able to make it as far as him. Hyde has had a decent season overall for a club that is clearly rebuilding, but this game doesn’t shape up to be one of his finer outings of 2017.
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.