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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 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
Green Bay Packers Passing Offense vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers Passing Defense
We weren’t sold on Brett Hundley’s matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers last week, but he went out and had a heckuva a game in what turned out to be a surprising shootout. He delivered his best game since taking over for Aaron Rodgers - by far - as he completed 65 percent of his passes while tossing for 245 yards and three scores. Hundley has developed a nice rapport with Davante Adams since Rodgers went down, and he’s been outpacing the rest of the talented receiving corps in targets of late. The pair is an interesting combo to keep on your radar this week, as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are coming to town.
The Buccaneers are chock full of problems that have led to an inconsistent season, but at least one thing has remained consistent. The club’s secondary is on the woeful side, and it’s been ripe for the picking this season. Only two opposing signal callers have been held to less than 262 passing yards - Cam Newton and Jay Cutler - and one of them (Cutler) left the game early with an injury, His replacement, Matt Moore, promptly came in and threw for 282 yards. The Packers offense is obviously nowhere near as efficient as it is with Rodgers at the helm, but Hundley is showing enough intriguing signs that he can be trusted to make some noise against a poor secondary.
Jacksonville Jaguars Passing Offense vs Indianapolis Colts Passing Defense
Blake Bortles had himself an interesting game in a losing effort to the Arizona Cardinals last week. While he couldn’t make much happen in the air - 160 passing yards and no scores - he was able to make some magic happen with his feet by rushing for 62 yards and two scores. Bortles is not going to be confused with a dual-threat quarterback anytime soon, and we can safely expect him to resume his pocket passing ways this week with a potentially fruitful matchup against the Indianapolis Colts on the docket.
The Colts have been a fantasy-friendly date for opposing signal callers this season. Through 11 games, the Colts have allowed five 300+ yard performances, and multiple passing touchdowns in five tilts as well. The Colts have lost top cornerback Rashaan Melvin to a hand injury, and they can’t generate anything resembling pressure. In short, Bortles should have all day to throw, and there’s a good chance he’ll like what he sees in the secondary. Marqise Lee is the safest option for stacking purposes as he leads the team in targets by a wide margin, but both Dede Westbrook and Keelan Cole have been seeing their fair share of late if you’re interested in some contrarian flavor.
Los Angeles Chargers Passing Offense vs Cleveland Browns Passing Defense
The Los Angeles Chargers have been rolling over the past two weeks, and they have completely inserted themselves into the playoff conversation in the AFC as a result. Philip Rivers has been playing lights out of late, as he’s tossed for multiple scores in three consecutive games and four of his last five. He absolutely exploded on Thanksgiving Day against the Dallas Cowboys, as he threw for 434 yards and three scores. We would imagine that he’s licking his chops after getting some extra rest while looking forward to a date with the Cleveland Browns.
The Browns remain winless on the season, and it’s no sure thing that will change before the season comes to a close. They’re a bad team with a lot of problems, and that includes on the defensive side of the ball. The Browns are actually doing a respectable job against the run for the most part, but the club is running into problems against the pass. Interestingly, they’ve found some success defending on the outside thanks to Jason McCourty, but the weak spots have been against slot receivers and tight ends. Rivers just so happens to have Keenan Allen and Hunter Henry at his disposal, so the stars align for potentially big days from both - but we’ll lean towards Allen for safety and upside.
Chicago Bears Rushing Offense vs San Francisco 49ers Rushing Defense
As expected, the Chicago Bears were steamrolled by the Philadelphia Eagles last week. It was a gigantic mismatch on paper, and the final score of 31-3 bore that out. The Bears could get nothing going on offense, and Jordan Howard was held to a paltry 19 total yards. Tarik Cohen didn’t fare any better, as he had negative rushing yards and a measly eight receiving yards. Based on that showing, it’s pretty tough to have any confidence in the Bears at this point, but the rushing offense has a potential bounce back spot in place when the San Francisco 49ers come to town on Sunday.
The 49ers were able to hold the Seattle Seahawks relatively in check last week, but the club’s run defense has been sieve-like a number of times this season. Todd Gurley and Ezekiel Elliott both had monster days against this unit - three scores apiece and a boatload of yardage - and Adrian Peterson was able to explode for 167 combined yards. Jimmy Garoppolo will man the reins for the 49ers this week, and the game projects out as a close, low-scoring affair. In short, it’s a fantastic time for John Fox to implement his preferred ground and pound game plan. Look for Jordan Howard to see as many carries as he can handle in this one, and be sure to keep him on your short list as you build your lineups.
Oakland Raiders Rushing Offense vs New York Giants Rushing Defense
It’s been an interesting comeback year for Marshawn Lynch - albeit not a terribly productive one - but he seems to be finally hitting his stride as the season gets long in the tooth. Over the last three games, he’s ran for at least 57 yards in each of them and found the end zone three times. He also found some success in the passing game last week, as he hauled in three passes for 44 yards. The Raiders could be leaning on Lynch pretty heavily this week, as Michael Crabtree is suspended, and Amari Cooper looks questionable at best due to a concussion.
The New York Giants head out west for a late afternoon tilt against the Raiders with changes afoot. Eli Manning’s consecutive games streak has come to an abrupt and unceremonious end, and the Giants will be seeing what Geno Smith has left in the tank. Defensively, the Giants still have the pieces in place to be a top-flight defense, but they haven’t been playing like one by any stretch of the imagination. There have been some flashes here and there - including Week 11 against the Kansas City Chiefs - but this is an overall beatable unit. Lynch’s potential workload, improving play, and an opponent that’s looking ahead to 2018 point to a potentially productive Week 13 for the veteran back.
Matchups to Avoid
Cleveland Browns Passing Offense at Los Angeles Chargers Passing Defense
There has been a ton of buzz this week about the return of Josh Gordon, who hasn’t suited up since 2014 due to a whole world of off the field problems. While we sincerely hope that Gordon’s issues are a thing of the past, it would be wise to temper expectations for his first game back. Rust aside, the Cleveland Browns are facing off against a Los Angeles Chargers team that is boasting a defense that is rounding into one of the top units in the league. Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram III are generating a ton of pressure, and the talented secondary is giving opposing signal callers even more to think about. That’s a frightening prospect for turnover-prone DeShone Kizer. It shapes up to be a long day for the Browns, and we can safely look elsewhere for DFS purposes as a result.
Indianapolis Colts Passing Offense at Jacksonville Jaguars Passing Defense
While Blaine Gabbert and the Arizona Cardinals found some success in a winning effort against the Jacksonville Jaguars last week, we generally want to avoid playing quarterbacks against them. This week is no exception. Jacoby Brissett has actually done a serviceable job in an impossible spot since taking over as the starter for the Indianapolis Colts, but one of his worst efforts of the season came against these same Jaguars in Week 7. On the day, Brissett managed just 200 passing yards and another 31 on the ground, but there was a big zero hanging on the Colts side of the ledger when the final whistle sounded. While the same result is far from a given, it really wouldn’t be all that shocking if it came to pass. We can safely avoid Brissett and company this week.
Detroit Lions Rushing Offense at Baltimore Ravens Rushing Defense
The rushing defense of the Baltimore Ravens hit a rough patch in the middle of the season, as Jordan Howard and Latavius Murray had productive days in consecutive weeks. The unit is rounding back into form, and that can directly be traced back to the return of nose tackle Brandon Williams. Since Murray’s nice day in Week 7, no opposing back has been able to produce anything to write home about. There’s nothing to suggest that will be changing this week, especially when you consider that the running game of the Detroit Lions leaves a lot to be desired. Ameer Abdullah and company are just not getting the job done, and whether that’s a result of the scheme or not is irrelevant for fantasy purposes. When a unit isn’t producing, there’s no reason to get cute and hope you land on a breakout performance.
Indianapolis Colts Rushing Offense at Jacksonville Jaguars Rushing Defense
We’ve already noted that we should avoid playing quarterbacks against the Jaguars, and it’s getting to the point in which we can do the same with opposing running backs. Todd Gurley broke the century mark back in Week 6, but no other running back has been able to pull the same trick since then. Even more impressively, the Jaguars have only allowed five rushing touchdowns on the season, and just one in the past five games. When you consider the fact that Jacoby Brissett is going to have an incredibly tough time making things happen through the air, it’s not too hard to see the Colts running game being shut down as well. Colts running backs belong nowhere near your short list in Week 13.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Rushing Offense at Green Bay Packers Rushing Defense
We touched on the struggles of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers earlier, and the troubles have extended to the offensive line. The unit will be featuring a new center and right tackle this week, and that’s not the cohesion that you’re looking for at this point in the season. While injuries are a part of the game, this is particularly devastating for a Buccaneers line that was already ranked in the bottom tier of the league. It’s going to be tough for the Buccaneers to get things going this week, and that’s especially true on the ground. The run defense of the Green Bay Packers has improved dramatically as the season has moved along. We can safely avoid Buccaneers backs and look elsewhere for some value at the position.
Enjoy the games this weekend, and best of luck with your lineups. Feel free to hit me up anytime via email - email@example.com - with questions or comments.