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Fantasy Football Matchups That Matter - Week 12

By Jared Smola 8:58am EST 11/26/23

Welcome to Week 12’s Matchups That Matter.

The goal of this article is to give you a look into the process that fuels our weekly projections and rankings.

The information below is all stuff that we use when formulating those rankings. Hopefully taking a look through it helps you make better lineup decisions each week.

As always, you should check the Week 12 Rankings and your Team Intel page for customized start/sit advice.

Good luck in Week 12!

 

Highest Game Totals

t-1. Ravens at Chargers (48.5)

t-1. Bills at Eagles (48.5)

t-3. Jaguars at Texans (48.0)

t-3. Commanders at Cowboys (48.0)

5. Packers at Lions (47.0)

 

Lowest Game Totals

12. Dolphins at Jets (40.0)

13. Browns at Broncos (37.0)

t-14. Panthers at Titans (36.5)

t-14. Steelers at Bengals (36.5)

16. Patriots at Giants (34.0)

  

Highest Implied Points

1. Cowboys (30.5)

2. Lions (27.5)

3. Chiefs (26.5)

t-4. Eagles (25.75)

t-4. Ravens (25.75)

6. 49ers (25.25)

  

Lowest Implied Points

t-27. Raiders (17.0)

t-27. Bengals (17.0)

t-27. Commanders (17.0)

30. Panthers (16.5)

31. Jets (15.25)

32. Giants (14.75)

  

Pass Rate Over Expected + Neutral Pace

Here's where every team ranks in Pass Rate Over Expected, neutral pace (average seconds per snap), and plays per game.

We’re now using just the past four weeks of Pass Rate Over Expected and neutral pace data to give us a fresher look at how these offenses are playing.

 

Total Points Per Game

Who's playing in shootouts? Who's playing in low-scoring games?

Here's where every team ranks in points per game + points allowed per game (with overtime removed):

 

Fastest-Paced Games

(Average of neutral seconds/snap over last four weeks)

1. Saints at Falcons (25.8 seconds)

2. Packers at Lions (26.0 seconds)

3. Commanders at Cowboys (26.2 seconds)

4. Dolphins at Jets (26.3 seconds)

t-5. Chiefs at Raiders (26.6 seconds)

t-5. Buccaneers at Colts (26.6 seconds)

 

Slowest-Paced Games

(Average of neutral seconds/snap over last four weeks)

t-11. Bills at Eagles (27.7 seconds)

t-11. 49ers at Seahawks (27.7 seconds)

13. Bears at Vikings (27.9 seconds)

14. Panthers at Titans (28.1 seconds)

15. Steelers at Bengals (28.2 seconds)

16. Jaguars at Texans (29.0 seconds)

 

Weather Concerns

Steelers at Bengals

70-85% chance of rain throughout the game. Winds shouldn't be a major factor at around 10 mph, but this looks like a sloppy one. Expect plenty of running on both sides with Kenny Pickett and Jake Browning at QB.

Bills at Eagles

85-95% chance of rain throughout the game. Winds will be light, so we're not adjusting projections for this game. But the conditions certainly aren't ideal for a shootout.

  

Quarterback

5 Best Passing Matchups 

(sum of pass offense DVOA and opponent pass defense DVOA)

1. 49ers at Seahawks (+86.9%)

2. Cowboys vs. Commanders (+57.7%)

3. Bills at Eagles (55.2%)

4. Ravens at Chargers (+46.4%)

5. Lions vs. Packers (+45.1%)

 

5 Worst Passing Matchups 

(sum of pass offense DVOA and opponent pass defense DVOA)

28. Jets vs. Dolphins (-8.8%)

29. Giants vs. Patriots (-12.0%)

30. Commanders at Cowboys (-14.4%)

31. Broncos vs. Browns (-14.4%)

32. Raiders vs. Chiefs (-33.5%)

 

5 Best QB Matchups 

(based on 2023 adjusted fantasy points allowed)

1. Lamar Jackson at Chargers (+38.4%)

2. Dak Prescott vs. Commanders (+33.4%)

3. Josh Allen at Eagles (+24.2%)

4. Derek Carr at Falcons (+19.9%)

5. Jordan Love at Lions (+18.6%)

 

5 Worst QB Matchups 

(based on 2023 adjusted fantasy points allowed)

28. Aidan O’Connell vs. Chiefs (-22.4%)

29. Will Levis vs. Panthers (-24.6%)

30. Tua Tagovailoa at Jets (-26.1%)

31. Russell Wilson vs. Browns (-28.2%)

32. Justin Herbert vs. Ravens (-30.8%)

 

Sneaky Starter

Gardner Minshew, Colts

The Bucs have emerged as one of the best matchups for opposing passing games.

Tampa Bay ranks 20th in pass defense DVOA and 30th in yards per pass attempt allowed.

But the run defense is good, sitting third in DVOA. The Bucs are allowing just 3.7 yards per carry – fifth lowest.

As a result, Tampa Bay owns the league’s third highest pass rate over expected against. In other words, teams are smartly opting to go pass-heavy against the Bucs.

If the Colts follow suit, Minshew should deliver nice fantasy production on Sunday.

 

Running Back

5 Best Rushing Matchups 

(sum of rush offense DVOA and opponent rush defense DVOA)

1. Ravens at Chargers (+23.6%)

2. Dolphins at Jets (+9.1%)

3. Titans vs. Panthers (+7.8%)

4. Steelers at Bengals (+4.9%)

5. Lions vs. Packers (+3.0%)

 

5 Worst Rushing Matchups 

(sum of rush offense DVOA and opponent rush defense DVOA)

28. Broncos vs. Browns (-33.0%)

29. Vikings vs. Bears (-35.2%)

30. Panthers at Titans (-37.8%)

31. Texans vs. Jaguars (-41.4%)

32. Giants vs. Patriots (-44.6%)

 

5 Best RB Matchups 

(based on 2023 adjusted fantasy points allowed)

1. Browns at Broncos (+65.4%)

2. Buccaneers at Colts (+30.8%)

3. Titans vs. Panthers (+29.8%)

4. Dolphins at Jets (+25.0%)

5. Rams at Cardinals (+23.6%)

 

5 Worst RB Matchups 

(based on 2023 adjusted fantasy points allowed)

28. Commanders at Cowboys (-19.4%)

29. Broncos vs. Browns (-20.2%)

30. Raiders vs. Chiefs (-23.2%)

31. Colts vs. Buccaneers (-31.6%)

32. Bills at Eagles (-36.7%)

 

Sneaky Starters

Zach Charbonnet, Seahawks

With RB Ken Walker out with his oblique injury, Charbonnet could handle close to 100% of Seattle’s RB touches on Thanksgiving night.

The rookie has already been controlling passing-down work in the backfield. Now his only competition for carries comes from RBs DeeJay Dallas and Kenny McIntosh, who are both more pass-catching specialists.

The matchup is not good against the 49ers (although it’s worth noting that San Francisco ranks just 23rd in run defense DVOA).

But Charbonnet should see enough volume to deliver top-24 fantasy production this week.

Najee Harris, Steelers

Harris is coming off a Week 11 dud. RB Jaylen Warren remains the better fantasy bet – but Harris is a strong bounce-back candidate. 

He still handled 12 carries and two targets on a 57% snap rate last week. 

He’d finished as a top-22 PPR RB in four straight games prior to last week.

And he draws a bad Bengals run defense on Sunday. Cincinnati ranks 30th in run defense DVOA and is coughing up 4.6 yards per carry to opposing RBs.

In what should be a low-scoring affair against a Jake Browning-led offense, expect a run-heavy attack from Pittsburgh.

 

Wide Receiver

5 Best WR Matchups 

(based on 2023 adjusted fantasy points allowed)

1. Cowboys vs. Commanders (+50.4%)

2. Bills at Eagles (+33.7%)

3. Jets vs. Dolphins (+22.0%)

4. Ravens at Chargers (+21.8%)

5. Panthers at Titans (+21.2%)

5 Worst WR Matchups 

(based on 2023 adjusted fantasy points allowed)

28. Raiders vs. Chiefs (-19.7%)

29. Commanders at Cowboys (-19.9%)

30. Broncos vs. Browns (-22.6%)

31. Titans vs. Panthers (-25.3%)

32. Dolphins at Jets (-38.8%)

 

CB Matchup Upgrades

Bills WRs Stefon Diggs and Gabriel Davis vs. Eagles CBs James Bradberry and Darius Slay

Cowboys WRs CeeDee Lamb and Brandin Cooks vs. Commanders CBs Kendall Fuller, Benjamin St. Juste, and Danny Johnson

Rams WRs Puka Nacua and Tutu Atwell vs. Cardinals CBs Marco Wilson, Starling Thomas, and Garrett Williams

Panthers WR Adam Thielen vs. Titans CB Elijah Molden

Bears WR D.J. Moore vs. Vikings CBs Akayleb Evans and Byron Murphy

Colts WRs Michael Pittman and Josh Downs vs. Buccaneers CBs Carlton Davis, Zyon McCollum, and Christian Izien

  

CB Matchup Downgrades

Dolphins WRs Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle vs. Jets CBs Sauce Gardner and D.J. Reed.

Raiders WR Davante Adams vs. Chiefs CB L’Jarius Sneed

Chargers WRs Keenan Allen and Quentin Johnston vs. Ravens DBs Brandon Stephens, Marlon Humphrey, and Kyle Hamilton

Jets WR Garrett Wilson vs. Dolphins CBs Jalen Ramsey and Xavien Howard

49ers WRs Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel vs. Seahawks CBs Tariq Woolen, Tre Brown, and Devon Witherspoon

Browns WR Amari Cooper vs. Broncos CB Patrick Surtain

Jaguars WRs Calvin Ridley, Zay Jones, and Christian Kirk vs. Texans CBs Derek Stingley, Steven Nelson, and Tavierre Thomas

Broncos WRs Courtland Sutton and Jerry Jeudy vs. Browns CBs Martin Emerson and Greg Newsome

   

Sneaky Starters

Rashid Shaheed, Saints

With WR Michael Thomas exiting early in New Orleans’ last game, Shaheed registered an 81% route rate – his fourth highest mark of the season.

Thomas is now on IR, so Shaheed should get a bump in playing time – and volume – against Atlanta this weekend.

The Falcons rank seventh in adjusted fantasy points allowed to WRs but are tougher on outside WRs than slots. That makes this a good spot for Shaheed, who’s played 48% of his snaps in the slot this year.

He posted a 3-95-1 line on four targets vs. Atlanta last season.

Gabriel Davis, Bills

Davis has been useless lately, finishing outside the top-40 WRs in PPR points in three straight.

But remember that he’d finished as a top-24 WR in four of his first eight outings.

Week 12 brings a prime bounce-back spot against a flammable Eagles secondary. Outside CBs Darius Slay and James Bradberry rank 43rd and 81st, respectively, among 105 qualifiers in Pro Football Focus coverage grades.

The matchup looks particularly strong for Davis because Philadelphia has allowed the sixth most catches and 12th most receiving yards on throws 20+ yards downfield.

 

Tight End

5 Best TE Matchups 

(based on 2023 adjusted fantasy points allowed)

1. Ravens at Chargers (+35.2%)

2. Cardinals vs. Rams (+29.5%)

3. Jaguars at Texans (+27.9%)

4. Vikings vs. Bears (+25.5%)

5. Buccaneers at Colts (+24.1%)

  

5 Worst TE Matchups 

(based on 2023 adjusted fantasy points allowed)

28. Bengals vs. Steelers (-23.6%)

29. Titans vs. Panthers (-25.8%)

30. Rams at Cardinals (-27.4%)

31. Panthers at Titans (-35.5%)

32. Broncos vs. Browns (-48.8%)

  

Sneaky Starters

Isaiah Likely, Ravens

This is not a safe play. Likely has one and two targets in the two games TE Mark Andrews has missed all of most of this season.

But Likely has registered 76% and 89% route rates in those two games, so there’s certainly potential for strong volume.

We also saw Likely have a couple of big games with Andrews out last year (although that came under a different OC and with a much weaker Ravens WR corps).

The best argument in favor of Likely this week is the matchup. The Chargers have allowed the third most catches and second most receiving yards to TEs this season. No surprise, then, that they rank dead last in adjusted fantasy points allowed to TEs.

Cade Otton, Buccaneers

Likely is the high-ceiling Week 12 sneaky start. Otton is the high-floor option.

He’s run a route on 76+% of Bucs pass plays in every game this season, topping 82% in seven straight.

Otton is averaging 4.6 targets and 3.4 catches per game and has 4+ grabs in four of his last five outings.

He gets a plus matchup on Sunday against the Colts, who rank 28th in adjusted fantasy points allowed to TEs.

 

Defense/Special Teams

5 Best DST Matchups 

(based on 2023 adjusted fantasy points allowed)

1. Cowboys vs. Commanders (+87.5%)

2. Patriots at Giants (+85.3%)

3. Titans vs. Panthers (+62.6%)

4. Vikings vs. Bears (+60.5%)

5. Dolphins at Jets (+55.6%)

 

5 Worst DST Matchups 

(based on 2023 adjusted fantasy points allowed)

28. Eagles vs. Bills (-38.8%)

29. Jaguars at Texans (-40.2%)

30. Commanders at Cowboys (-44.5%)

31. Ravens at Chargers (-56.9%)

32. Seahawks vs. 49ers (-67.9%)

 

Sneaky Starters

Patriots

Giants QB Tommy DeVito is coming off a 246-3-0 passing line. It barely counts against a pathetic Commanders pass defense.

DeVito also took a whopping nine sacks last week and is now up to an absurd 21.6% sack rate through four appearances.

The Giants’ 14.75-point implied total is lowest of the week.

Vikings

A defense we were attacking early in the season has become a defense to consider starting in fantasy lineups now. 

The Vikings are up to ninth in defensive DVOA, ranking ninth against both the run and the pass.

This blitz-heavy unit has racked up 16 sacks and 11 takeaways over the last six games.

QB Justin Fields played well in his return last week, throwing zero INTs and taking just two sacks. But he still has a career 3.5% INT rate and 13.1% sack rate. 

I still believe Fields is a QB to attack with opposing defenses.

  

Kicker

5 Best K Matchups 

(based on 2023 adjusted fantasy points allowed)

1. Brandon Aubrey vs. Commanders (+46.1%)

2. Jason Sanders at Jets (+36.2%)

3. Chase McLaughlin at Colts (+35.8%)

4. Matt Prater vs. Rams (+34.3%)

5. Eddy Pineiro at Titans (+27.6%)

 

5 Worst K Matchups 

(based on 2023 adjusted fantasy points allowed)

28. Tyler Bass at Eagles (-27.5%)

29. Matt Ammendola vs. Jaguars (-27.9%)

30. Wil Lutz vs. Browns (-34.9%)

31. Joey Slye at Cowboys (-35.7%)

32. Daniel Carlson vs. Chiefs (-48.5%)

 

Sneaky Starter

Brandon McManus, Jaguars

McManus is kicking in a dome in the game with the week’s third-highest over/under.

Jacksonville’s 24.75-point implied total is sevent-highest on the slate.

The Texans rank a middling 17th in adjusted fantasy points allowed to kickers.

  

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