Start: Tre’Quan Smith, Chris Godwin in DFS
Smith has been a disaster the last two weeks. First, a late scratch on Thanksgiving night and then a one-target no-show afterward. The Saints as a team struggled badly in Dallas, and the last we saw Smith before that, he put up a 13-10-157-1 line. He remains New Orleans’ WR2. The Saints have the highest implied total this week, but admittedly Smith is more boom-or-bust than safe. Moreover, Keith Kirkwood is a sleeper, as the Bucs have allowed the most fantasy points to the slot this season.
Godwin is a star in the making, and he gets a Saints defense that ranks 22nd against the pass and 3rd against the run in DVOA. Moreover, New Orleans has actually allowed the second-fewest fantasy points to the slot over the last month but has been gashed for the most to perimeter receivers this season. This game sets up well for Godwin, who I have as a top-15 WR this week. It’s worth noting there is some concern with wind in this game.
Indianapolis Colts vs. Houston Texans
Start: Eric Ebron in DFS ; Lamar Miller
Ebron saw a whopping 16 targets last week and is now in tier one among tight ends with Jack Doyle out for the season. He gets a Texans defense that ranks 29th against tight ends and No. 2 versus the run in DVOA. It’s a nice setup with Andrew Luck also likely to rebound in a big way coming off last week’s shutout.
Miller has recorded 100 rushing yards in four of the last six games and has quietly gotten 6.1 YPC at home this season. He’ll be featured heavily again Sunday (even with D’Onta Foreman’s possible return). He’s worth starting with confidence to begin your fantasy playoffs.
Baltimore Ravens vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Start: Mark Andrews
Sit (in DFS only): Spencer Ware
Andrews has led the Ravens in receiving yards during each of the team’s last two games and gets a Chiefs defense that’s been gashed for the second-most fantasy points to tight ends this season. They have been even worse lately, so he’s an option in deep leagues.
Ware looked sluggish while replacing Kareem Hunt in the starting lineup last week, and while he’ll continue to benefit from a high-scoring offense, the Chiefs plan more of a committee approach in the backfield down the stretch. Baltimore has also ceded the fewest fantasy points to running backs this season.
Carolina Panthers vs. Cleveland Browns
Start: Christian McCaffrey in DFS ; Rashard Higgins
McCaffrey has been on quite a roll over the last five weeks and should be busy again Sunday versus Cleveland’s run funnel defense. CMC is averaging 8.7 targets, 62.0 receiving yards and 0.5 TDs just through the air while on the road this season. That’s tough not to pay up for in DFS.
Higgins had 62 yards with a score last week and is a sleeper against a Carolina secondary that’s ceded the most fantasy points to his primary side over the last four weeks. Expect a bounce back performance from Baker Mayfield this week too.
Atlanta Falcons vs. Green Bay Packers
Start: Calvin Ridley, Aaron Jones in DFS
Ridley was held in check by a tough Baltimore secondary last week but has a much more favorable matchup with Green Bay. It will be cold in Lambeau Field, but the total is still high (51.5 points), and the Falcons can’t run the ball, so Ridley has good upside this week.
Jones will be popular with the Mike McCarthy firing narrative, but it could be with good reason, as the Falcons have struggled defending backs all year, and Jones has gotten 6.4 YPC at home this season. Joe Philbin isn’t the long-term answer, but any alternative is better than McCarthy, who somehow gave Jones just five touches over the final three quarters of last week’s game. Jones could very well go crazy this week.
New York Jets vs. Buffalo Bills
Start: Zay Jones
Sit: All Jets
Jones has seen nine+ targets in two of the past three games, a span in which he’s scored three times. Josh Allen continues to improve, Kelvin Benjamin (and company) was released, and the Jets have allowed the third-most fantasy points to the slot this season. Jones is a bargain to target in DFS this week.
Buffalo is allowing fewer yards per play than Chicago this season, and Sam Darnold will be making his first start since Nov. 4 while on the road, where he’s gotten 5.9 YPA this season. New York’s backfield committee doesn’t help fantasy owners either.
New England Patriots vs. Miami Dolphins
Start: Sony Michel in DFS ; Danny Amendola
Michel’s usage was actually up with Rex Burkhead back last week, as he remains plenty busy despite being ignored in the passing game. Game flow, weather, and blocking figure to be distinct advantages for Michel during the opening week of the fantasy playoffs.
There are few enticing options in Miami, but New England has allowed the most fantasy points to the slot over the last eight weeks. Amendola has the revenge game factor if he’s able to play through his knee injury.
New York Giants vs. Washington Redskins
Start: New York defense, Adrian Peterson
Washington figures to run an extremely safe offense, and it will help Mark Sanchez getting starter reps throughout practice all week, but this is still a disastrous situation for the team down to its third-stringer at QB who was out of the league just a few weeks back. The Giants’ pricing was out before Colt McCoy went down, so they are a cheap way to spend at defense this week.
Peterson became just the second player ever to have a 90-yard run in a game yet fail to reach 100 yards last week. That said, he’ll be the centerpiece of the Sanchez-led offense Sunday against a New York front seven that’s struggled mightily against running backs over the last five games.
Denver Broncos vs. San Francisco 49ers
Start: Courtland Sutton, Dante Pettis
Sutton is going to see a big target share increase with Emmanuel Sanders out for the season and should mostly avoid Richard Sherman’s side Sunday. San Francisco has been extremely vulnerable on deep passes this season, making Sutton a top-20 WR this week.
Pettis has struggled as a returner during his rookie campaign but has come to life as a receiver lately, going for 206 yards and two scores over the last two games. Last year’s second round pick has impressed while doing so, and he gets a huge boost facing the Broncos this week without Chris Harris, as Denver will have its hands full now covering the slot. Jeff Wilson Jr. is another start in this game. He’s a fine RB2 as San Francisco’s feature back with Matt Breida out.
Cincinnati Bengals vs. Los Angeles Chargers
Start: Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson
Sit: Tyler Boyd
Ekeler will likely remain the starter and is the favorite for touches, but Jackson clearly outplayed him last week. Both backs are fine RB2s this week as 14-point home favorites against a Bengals team that’s ravaged by injuries and has yielded the most fantasy points to running backs this season.
No A.J. Green has hurt Boyd in the past, and he gets a Chargers secondary this week that’s allowed the fewest fantasy points to the slot this season. And he still has Jeff Driskel throwing to him. It’s a tough setup for Boyd.
Detroit Lions vs. Arizona Cardinals
Start: Larry Fitzgerald
Sit: Kenny Golladay
The Lions have allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to the slot over the last eight weeks, and Fitzgerald will be extra busy with Christian Kirk out.
Golladay has a bright future and should again lead Detroit in targets Sunday, but the Lions’ offense is miserable right now, running the slowest pace in the league (situation neutral), and he’ll be shadowed by Patrick Peterson, which has spelled doom this season.
Philadelphia Eagles vs. Dallas Cowboys
Start: Michael Gallup
Sit: Alshon Jeffery
The Eagles’ injury-ravaged secondary has curiously not been tested much over the last two weeks but will be busy with Amari Cooper on Sunday, possibly freeing up Gallup. Philadelphia has allowed the most fantasy points to his primary side over the last month (and that’s while facing Mark Sanchez).
Alshon Jeffery hasn’t reached 50 receiving yards or scored in any of his last five games. He now gets a Cowboys secondary that’s yielded the fewest fantasy points to his primary side this season. Byron Jones isn’t the solution to Jeffery’s problem.
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Oakland Raiders
Start: Vance McDonald
Sit: Derek Carr
McDonald is coming off a quiet stretch but saw seven targets last week. He gets a Raiders defense that’s allowed the most fantasy points to tight ends and ranks last in DVOA against the position.
Carr has gone seven straight games without throwing a pick but gets an angry Pittsburgh team coming off a bad home loss that’s shutdown quarterbacks like few other teams recently.
Los Angeles Rams vs. Chicago Bears
Start: Anthony Miller
Sit (in DFS only): Robert Woods
The Rams are going to be tough on the outside with Aqib Talib back, but they have allowed the most fantasy points to the slot over the last month, where Miller runs 72 percent of his routes. Mitchell Trubisky’s return should help Miller as well in what should be a high-scoring game, despite the cold.
The Cooper Kupp injury has moved Robert Woods to the slot, which is a definite downgrade Sunday night. Over the last month, the Bears have allowed the fourth-fewest fantasy points to the slot and the most to the perimeter, so fire up Josh Reynolds after last week’s dud.
Minnesota Vikings vs. Seattle Seahawks
Start: Dalvin Cook, David Moore
Cook hasn’t seen more than 10 carries in a game since Week 1, but he got 9.3 YPC last week, and Seattle can be attacked on the ground. Downgrade Adam Thielen, as Seattle has allowed the fewest fantasy points to the slot this season.
The Vikings shut down the run, the slot and the right side of the field, yet have ceded the fifth-most fantasy points to Moore’s primary side over the last month. Doug Baldwin has also missed practice this week and looks iffy, so Moore is a sleeper one week after he failed to record a target.