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Fantasy Football Matchups That Matter - Week 15

By Jared Smola 10:59am EST 12/17/23

Welcome to Week 15’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 15 Rankings and your Team Intel page for customized start/sit advice.

Good luck in Week 15!

 

Highest Game Totals

1. Commanders at Rams (49.5)

t-2. Cowboys at Bills (49.0)

t-2. Broncos at Lions (49.0)

4. Cardinals at 49ers (48.5)

5. Eagles at Seahawks (46.0)

 

Lowest Game Totals

10. Giants at Saints (39.5)

11. Chiefs at Patriots (38.5)

12. Texans at Titans (38.0)

13. Jets at Dolphins (37.5)

14. Bears at Browns (37.0)

15. Chargers at Raiders (36.0)

16. Falcons at Panthers (32.5)

  

Highest Implied Points

1. 49ers (30.25)

2. Rams (28.0)

3. Lions (27.0)

4. Bills (25.5)

5. Eagles (24.75)

    

Lowest Implied Points

26. Texans (17.25)

t-27. Bears (17.0)

t-27. Giants (17.0)

29. Chargers (16.5)

30. Patriots (15.0)

31. Panthers (14.75)

32. Jets (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.

  

Fastest-Paced Games

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

1. Cowboys at Bills (23.8 seconds)

2. Broncos at Lions (24.6 seconds)

3. Ravens at Jaguars (24.9 seconds)

4. Steelers at Colts (25.1 seconds)

5. Vikings at Bengals (26.4 seconds)

  

Slowest-Paced Games

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

12. Commanders at Rams (27.5 seconds)

13. Bears at Browns (27.8 seconds)

14. Giants at Saints (27.9 seconds)

15. Jets at Dolphins (28.0 seconds)

16. 49ers at Cardinals (28.5 seconds)

  

Weather Concerns

Falcons at Panthers

Heavy rain is expected throughout this game. Winds will be around 15 mph with gusts of 25+. Both of these teams want to go run-heavy, and the weather will only push them further in that direction. This game's over/under is down to an ugly 32.5 points.

Bears at Browns

Rain is expected at least during the first half of this game. Winds of 15-20 mph with gusts of 25+. It's not a horrible forecast -- but enough to impact deep passes and kicks.

Jets at Dolphins

Sustained winds of 15-20 mph with gusts of 25+. That could impact deep passes and FGs, but we're not making any projection adjustments for this game.

Cowboys at Bills

Rain is likely during this game, but the wind is forecasted at just 10 mph. Not ideal weather for a shootout, but we're not adjusting projections for this game. The over/under has dropped from 50.5 to a still-high 49.0

Ravens at Jaguars

Wind could be a major factor in this one. 40-50 mph wind gusts are expected in Jacksonville on Sunday, although that's forecasted to taper off right around kickoff. We're still likely looking at 15-20 mph winds during the game, though, with gusts of 30+. That's certainly enough to impact the passing and kicking games.

  

Quarterback

5 Best Passing Matchups 

(sum of pass offense DVOA and opponent pass defense DVOA over the last 5 weeks)

1. Rams vs. Commanders (+111.9%)

2. 49ers at Cardinals (+89.3%)

3. Broncos at Lions (+58.9%)

4. Ravens at Jaguars (+47.5%)

5. Packers vs. Buccaneers (+45.6%)

  

5 Worst Passing Matchups 

(sum of pass offense DVOA and opponent pass defense DVOA over the last 5 weeks)

28. Patriots vs. Chiefs (-21.2%)

29. Browns vs. Bears (-26.1%)

30. Cardinals vs. 49ers (-27.9%)

31. Panthers vs. Falcons (-36.9%)

32. Jets at Dolphins (-49.5%)

  

5 Best QB Matchups 

(based on 2023 adjusted fantasy points allowed)

1. Matt Stafford vs. Commanders (+33.1%)

2. Geno Smith vs. Eagles (+27.6%)

3. Russell Wilson at Lions (+24.9%)

4. Aidan O’Connell vs. Chargers (+23.0%)

5. Will Levis vs. Texans (+21.4%)

 

5 Worst QB Matchups 

(based on 2023 adjusted fantasy points allowed)

28. Justin Fields at Browns (-20.4%)

29. Kyler Murray vs. 49ers (-21.8%)

30. Desmond Ridder at Panthers (-24.1%)

31. Trevor Lawrence vs. Ravens (-25.9%)

32. Tua Tagovailoa vs. Jets (-33.3%)

  

Sneaky Starters

Matt Stafford, Rams

This is one of the easiest calls we've had all year (which undoubtedly means it won't work out!).

Stafford rolls into Week 15 with 802 yards and 10 TDs over his last three outings.

Now he gets a home game vs. the Commanders, who rank dead last in pass defense DVOA on the season (35.3%) and have been even worse over the last five weeks (57.0%).

The Commanders have allowed multiple passing TDs in 9 of their past 10 games.

The Rams' 28.0-point implied total is second-highest on the week.

Jordan Love, Packers

This is a less comfortable play after Love's Monday night dud vs. the Giants.

But he'd been awesome in the previous five games, completing 66% of his passes at 7.9 yards per attempt with 11 TDs vs. two INTs. Love finished as a top-15 fantasy QB in all five of those weeks, including four top-12 finishes.

He finds a prime bounce-back spot this weekend against the Bucs' 26th-ranked QB defense. Tampa Bay just coughed up a career-high 347 passing yards to Desmond Ridder last week.

   

Running Back

5 Best Rushing Matchups 

(sum of rush offense DVOA and opponent rush defense DVOA over the last 5 weeks)

1. 49ers at Cardinals (+35.5%)

2. Lions vs. Broncos (+30.9%)

3. Saints vs. Giants (+15.9%)

4. Steelers at Colts (+12.2%)

5. Patriots vs. Chiefs (+9.5%)

  

5 Worst Rushing Matchups 

(sum of rush offense DVOA and opponent rush defense DVOA over the last 5 weeks)

28. Titans vs. Texans (-23.8%)

29. Colts vs. Steelers (-26.4%)

30. Commanders at Rams (-30.7%)

31. Chargers at Raiders (-32.0%)

32. Jets at Dolphins (-62.1%)

  

5 Best RB Matchups 

(based on 2023 adjusted fantasy points allowed)

1. Lions vs. Broncos (+48.4%)

2. Steelers at Colts (+32.1%)

3. 49ers at Cardinals (+29.8%)

4. Falcons at Panthers (+19.3%)

5. Rams vs. Commanders (+18.7%)

  

5 Worst RB Matchups 

(based on 2023 adjusted fantasy points allowed)

28. Jaguars vs. Ravens (-15.3%)

29. Packers vs. Buccaneers (-17.9%)

30. Bengals vs. Vikings (-19.1%)

31. Bills vs. Cowboys (-22.4%)

32. Seahawks vs. Eagles (-27.1%)

  

Sneaky Starters

Ty Chandler, Vikings

Alexander Mattison's expected absence will leave Chandler as Minnesota's lead back vs. the Bengals on Saturday.

Minnesota's running game has struggled all year, but this matchup should help. Cincinnati ranks 27th in run defense DVOA and has coughed up 4.4 yards per carry to RBs this season.

Antonio Gibson, Commanders

Brian Robinson will likely miss Sunday's game with his hamstring injury, leaving Washington's backfield to Gibson and Chris Rodriguez.

Gibson and Rodriguez carried seven times apiece after Robinson exited Washington's last game back in Week 13 -- although three of Rodriguez's carries came on the final three plays of a 45-15 loss.

We're expecting Gibson to lead in carries this weekend.

More importantly, he's a lock to dominate passing-down work. Gibson is already averaging 3.7 targets, 3.1 catches, and 27 receiving yards per game this season. Robinson leaves behind another 2.8 targets per game.

 

Wide Receiver

5 Best WR Matchups 

(based on 2023 adjusted fantasy points allowed)

1. Rams vs. Commanders (+35.1%)

2. Seahawks vs. Eagles (+33.0%)

3. Packers vs. Buccaneers (+23.2%)

4. Ravens at Jaguars (+19.0%)

5. Texans at Titans (+15.6%)

 

5 Worst WR Matchups 

(based on 2023 adjusted fantasy points allowed)

28. Lions vs. Broncos (-15.8%)

29. Panthers vs. Falcons (-17.0%)

30. Bears at Browns (-18.2%)

31. Falcons at Panthers (-19.1%)

32. Dolphins vs. Jets (-41.5%)

 

CB Matchup Upgrades

Rams WRs Puka Nacua and Cooper Kupp vs. Commanders CBs Kendall Fuller, Benjamin St. Juste, and Jartavius Martin

49ers WRs Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel vs. Cardinals CBs Kei’Trel Clark and Antonio Hamilton

Saints WR Chris Olave vs. Giants CBs Adoree Jackson, Deonte Banks, and Cordale Flott

Chiefs WR Rashee Rice vs. Patriots CBs J.C. Jackson, Jonathan Jones, and Myles Bryant

Ravens WR Odell Beckham vs. Jaguars CBs Montaric Brown and Gregory Junior

Packers WRs Jayden Reed and Romeo Doubs vs. Bucs CBs Carlton Davis, Zyon McCollum, and Christian Izien

Giants WR Wan’Dale Robinson vs. Saints CB Alontae Taylor

 

CB Matchup Downgrades

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

Colts WR Michael Pittman vs. Steelers CB Joey Porter

Bears WR D.J. Moore vs. Browns CBs Denzel Ward, Martin Emerson, and Greg Newsome

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

Ravens WR Zay Flowers vs. Jaguars CB Darious Williams

Jaguars WRs Calvin Ridley and Zay Jones vs. Ravens CBs Marlon Humphrey, Brandon Stephens, and Arthur Maulet

Titans WR DeAndre Hopkins vs. Texans CBs Derek Stingley and Steven Nelson

 

Sneaky Starters

Jayden Reed, Packers

The rookie has become a featured part of the Packers' offense -- both through the air and on the ground. Reed has averaged 7.3 targets plus 2.3 carries over his last four games.

He was especially busy last week with WR Christian Watson out. Reed set season highs with 10 targets and four carries.

Watson will likely be out again this Sunday. And Reed gets an excellent matchup against the Bucs' 30th-ranked WR defense.

Odell Beckham, Ravens

Over a pesky shoulder injury, Beckham busted off a 4-97-1 line on 10 targets last week.

He's been targeted on a whopping 35% of his routes over his last three games and is rocking a 20.2-yard average depth of target during that stretch.

It's a high-upside role. And Beckham gets a high-upside matchup on Sunday night against the Jaguars' 29th-ranked WR defense.

Jacksonville has particularly struggled against outside WRs, which is where Beckham has played 88% of his snaps this season.

 

Tight End

5 Best TE Matchups 

(based on 2023 adjusted fantasy points allowed)

1. Vikings at Bengals (+31.9%)

2. Commanders at Rams (+21.6%)

3. Titans vs. Texans (+21.6%)

4. Raiders vs. Chargers (+19.0%)

5. Steelers at Colts (+17.9%)

 

5 Worst TE Matchups 

(based on 2023 adjusted fantasy points allowed)

28. Cardinals vs. 49ers (-21.5%)

29. Saints vs. Giants (-24.9%)

30. Falcons at Panthers (-25.1%)

31. Bears at Browns (-29.7%)

32. Texans at Titans (-33.4%)

 

Sneaky Starters

Pat Freiermuth, Steelers

Freiermuth has totaled only six catches for 47 scoreless yards over his last two games.

So why consider him this week? Three reasons:

  1. Freiermuth drew seven targets for a 19% share last week.
  2. He spiked to an 83% route rate last week -- his highest since Week 2.
  3. He gets the Colts' 28th-ranked TE defense on Saturday.

Logan Thomas, Commanders

Thomas has mustered just two catches on five targets over his last two games, so there's not much of a floor here.

But he comes fresh off a bye for a nice Week 15 spot vs. the Rams, who rank 29th in TE coverage DVOA and 31st in adjusted fantasy points allowed to TEs.

The Rams have allowed 13+ PPR points to a TE in five of their last six games.

  

Defense/Special Teams

5 Best DST Matchups 

(based on 2023 adjusted fantasy points allowed)

1. Saints vs. Giants (+88.6%)

2. Dolphins vs. Jets (+73.9%)

3. Rams vs. Commanders (+66.8%)

4. Falcons at Panthers (+59.2%)

5. Chiefs at Patriots (+50.3%)

 

5 Worst DST Matchups 

(based on 2023 adjusted fantasy points allowed)

28. Titans vs. Texans (-34.4%)

29. Commanders at Rams (-39.2%)

30. Cowboys at Bills (-41.4%)

31. Bills vs. Cowboys (-49.4%)

32. Cardinals vs. 49ers (-60.9%)

 

Sneaky Starters

Falcons

The Panthers have reached 20 points just twice in games started by QB Bryce Young this season -- and none since Week 6.

Carolina's 15.5-point implied total for Sunday's game vs. the Falcons is third-lowest on the week.

Atlanta is a high-floor Week 15 DST spot start.

Vikings

The blitz-happy Vikings are up to 14th in the league in sacks. They've gotten to the QB 3+ times in four of their last six games. And they're produced 10 takeaways over that stretch.

Bengals QB Jake Browning has played well over the past few weeks. But there's still upside to this matchup for Minnesota.

  

Kicker

5 Best K Matchups 

(based on 2023 adjusted fantasy points allowed)

1. Lucas Havrisik vs. Commanders (+39.7%)

2. Ka’imi Fairbairn at Titans (+34.5%)

3. Chris Boswell at Colts (+34.1%)

4. Eddy Pineiro vs. Falcons (+30.7%)

5. Jason Sanders vs. Jets (+26.7%)

 

5 Worst K Matchups 

(based on 2023 adjusted fantasy points allowed)

28. Daniel Carlson vs. Chargers (-17.3%)

29. Justin Tucker at Jaguars (-18.7%)

30. Cairo Santos at Browns (-29.1%)

31. Tyler Bass vs. Cowboys (-30.1%)

32. Chad Ryland vs. Chiefs (-33.9%)

   

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