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Fantasy Football Matchups That Matter - Week 16

By Jared Smola 11:06am EST 12/24/23

Welcome to Week 16’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 16 Rankings and your Team Intel page for customized start/sit advice.

Good luck in Week 16!

 

Highest Game Totals

1. Cowboys at Dolphins (48.0)

2. Lions at Vikings (47.5)

3. Ravens at 49ers (46.5)

4. Saints at Rams (45.5)

t-5. Colts at Falcons (44.5)

t-5. Bills at Chargers (44.5)

  

Lowest Game Totals

11. Raiders at Chiefs (40.5)

12. Browns at Texans (40.0)

t-13. Packers at Panthers (38.5)

t-13. Bengals at Steelers (38.5)

15. Commanders at Jets (37.0)

16. Patriots at Broncos (36.5)

  

Highest Implied Points

1. Bills (28.5)

2. Eagles (28.25)

3. 49ers (26.25)

4. Chiefs (25.5)

5. Lions (25.0)

6. Dolphins (24.75)

7. Rams (24.5)

  

Lowest Implied Points

27. Panthers (17.5)

28. Commanders (17.0)

29. Chargers (16.0)

30. Raiders (15.0)

31. Giants (14.75)

32. Patriots (14.5)

  

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. Bills at Chargers (24.1 seconds)

2. Colts at Falcons (24.2 seconds)

3. Browns at Texans (24.5 seconds)

4. Ravens at 49ers (25.8 seconds)

5. Bengals at Steelers (26.2 seconds)

  

Slowest-Paced Games

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

12. Cowboys at Dolphins (27.5 seconds)

13. Patriots at Broncos (27.6 seconds)

14. Saints at Rams (28.0 seconds)

15. Packers at Panthers (28.6 seconds)

16. Commanders at Jets (28.9 seconds)

  

Weather Concerns

No weather issues!

   

Quarterback

5 Best Passing Matchups 

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

1. 49ers vs. Ravens (+74.9%)

2. Bengals at Steelers (+56.4%)

3. Packers at Panthers (+53.8%)

4. Bills at Chargers (+51.1%)

5. Jaguars at Bucs (+46.0%)

  

5 Worst Passing Matchups 

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

28. Texans vs. Browns (-12.9%)

29. Patriots at Broncos (-22.2%)

30. Chargers vs. Bills (-32.2%)

31. Commanders at Jets (-33.4%)

32. Cardinals at Bears (-36.7%)

 

5 Best QB Matchups 

(based on 2023 adjusted fantasy points allowed)

1. Trevor Siemian vs. Commanders (+34.4%)

2. Josh Allen at Chargers (+31.6%)

3. Tommy DeVito at Eagles (+26.8%)

4. Nick Mullens vs. Lions (+22.0%)

5. Joe Flacco at Texans (+21.6%)

 

5 Worst QB Matchups 

(based on 2023 adjusted fantasy points allowed)

28. Lamar Jackson at 49ers (-20.9%)

29. Case Keenum vs. Browns (-22.3%)

30. Brock Purdy vs. Ravens (-25.8%)

31. Jordan Love at Panthers (-26.4%)

32. Sam Howell at Jets (-31.5%)

  

Sneaky Starters

Matt Stafford, Rams

Stafford felt underwhelming in a dream spot vs. the Commanders last week. But he still tossed multiple TDs for the fourth straight game.

He's at home on Thursday night, so there will be no weather problems.

And he draws a very average Saints pass defense that ranks:

  • 14th in adjusted fantasy points allowed to QBs
  • 14th in pass defense DVOA over the last five weeks

Stafford's Rams have a strong 24.5-point implied total.

Baker Mayfield, Bucs

Mayfield is coming off a season-best 381-yard, four-TD explosion last week. He, not surprisingly, earned his best Pro Football Focus passing grade of the year.

Mayfield struggled in his previous two outings, so he's certainly not a lead-pipe lock in Week 16 fantasy lineups.

But the matchup against Jacksonville helps his chances of staying hot. The Jaguars rank 27th in adjusted fantasy points allowed to QBs on the season and are down to 25th in pass defense DVOA over the last five weeks. They've allowed a 70% completion rate and 8.2 yards per attempt in their last five.

   

Running Back

5 Best Rushing Matchups 

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

1. Rams vs. Saints (+23.8%)

2. 49ers vs. Ravens (+20.9%)

3. Dolphins vs. Cowboys (+9.1%)

4. Bills at Chargers (+7.2%)

5. Lions at Vikings (+6.1%)

 

5 Worst Rushing Matchups 

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

28. Falcons vs. Colts (-33.2%)

29. Browns at Texans (-33.9%)

30. Chargers vs. Bills (-39.2%)

31. Commanders at Jets (-50.4%)

32. Jets vs. Commanders (-51.3%)

 

5 Best RB Matchups 

(based on 2023 adjusted fantasy points allowed)

1. Patriots at Broncos (+42.5%)

2. Bears vs. Cardinals (+33.9%)

3. Falcons vs. Colts (+28.1%)

4. Jets vs. Commanders (+19.3%)

5. Packers at Panthers (+15.1%)

 

5 Worst RB Matchups 

(based on 2023 adjusted fantasy points allowed)

28. Vikings vs. Lions (-17.3%)

29. Saints at Rams (-17.8%)

30. 49ers vs. Ravens (-17.9%)

31. Jaguars at Bucs (-18.7%)

32. Giants at Eagles (-24.0%)

  

Sneaky Starters

Chuba Hubbard, Panthers

Hubbard has racked up 70 carries over the past three weeks. Only Kyren Williams (73) has more during that time.

The Panthers have gone extremely run-heavy under interim HC Chris Tabor. And Hubbard has handled 64% of the team's rush attempts over the last three games.

Next up is a struggling Packers run defense. Green Bay has coughed up 4.8 yards per carry to RBs over the past five weeks, ranking 27th in run defense DVOA during that span.

The risk here is the Packers jumping out to a big lead and forcing Carolina to throw more. But Hubbard has run a route on 59% of pass plays over the last two weeks, so he has the potential to contribute as a receiver.

Devin Singletary, Texans

Singletary took back a stranglehold of the Texans backfield last week:

  • 75% snap rate
  • 26 of 28 RB carries
  • 5 targets

His usage has ebbed and flowed since RB Dameon Pierce returned from his ankle injury. But Singletary has been the more effective back all season, so Houston should stick with him as the clear lead dog going forward.

Sunday brings a slumping Browns run defense that ranked first in DVOA over the first 10 weeks of the season but just 17th over the last five. Cleveland has allowed 4.4 yards per carry to RBs during that latter stretch.

With QB Case Keenum back under center for the Texans this weekend, it should be a run-leaning game plan featuring Singletary.

   

Wide Receiver

5 Best WR Matchups 

(based on 2023 adjusted fantasy points allowed)

1. Jets vs. Commanders (+36.7%)

2. Giants at Eagles (+30.3%)

3. Jaguars at Bucs (+24.9%)

4. Bills at Chargers (+21.3%)

5. Bucs vs. Jaguars (+14.5%)

  

5 Worst WR Matchups 

(based on 2023 adjusted fantasy points allowed)

28. Dolphins vs. Cowboys (-16.1%)

29. Colts at Falcons (-17.9%)

30. Texans vs. Browns (-18.0%)

31. Packers at Panthers (-20.5%)

32. Commanders at Jets (-39.2%)

  

CB Matchup Upgrades

Cowboys WR CeeDee Lamb vs. Dolphins CB Kader Kohou

Bills WRs Stefon Diggs and Gabriel Davis vs. Chargers CB Michael Davis

Eagles WRs A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith vs. Giants CBs Adoree Jackson and Deonte Banks

Bears WR D.J. Moore vs. Cardinals CBs Starling Thomas, Antonio Hamilton, and Garrett Williams

Lions WR Amon-Ra St. Brown vs. Vikings CBs Josh Metellus and Akayleb Evans

Jets WR Garrett Wilson vs. Commanders CBs Kendall Fuller, Benjamin St. Juste, and Jartavius Martin

Jaguars WR Calvin Ridley vs. Bucs CBs Jamel Dean, Carlton Davis, and Christian Izien

  

CB Matchup Downgrades

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

49ers WRs Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk vs. Ravens CBs Marlon Humphrey and Brandon Stephens

Texans WRs Nico Collins and Noah Brown vs. Browns CBs Denzel Ward, Martin Emerson, and Greg Newsome

Commanders WRs Terry McLaurin, Jahan Dotson, and Curtis Samuel vs. Jets CBs Sauce Gardner, D.J. Reed, and Michael Carter

Cowboys WR Brandin Cooks vs. Dolphins CBs Jalen Ramsey and Xavien Howard

    

Sneaky Starter

Dontayvion Wicks, Packers

Wicks is having a sneaky good rookie season, especially lately. He's averaged 3.5 catches and 59 yards per game over his last six.

On the season, Wicks leads Packers WRs and ranks 27th among 84 qualifiers league-wide with 2.0 yards per route. His 20% target per route rate trails Jayden Reed but is tied with Christian Watson and ahead of Romeo Doubs.

Reed and Watson are in doubt for Sunday's game vs. the Panthers. If they both miss, Wicks should be a full-time player and will be the best fantasy bet in this WR corps.

  

Tight End

5 Best TE Matchups 

(based on 2023 adjusted fantasy points allowed)

1. Steelers vs. Bengals (+27.0%)

2. Patriots at Broncos (+21.4%)

3. Bills at Chargers (+20.1%)

4. Browns at Texans (+18.1%)

5. Cardinals at Bears (+14.9%)

 

5 Worst TE Matchups 

(based on 2023 adjusted fantasy points allowed)

28. Ravens at 49ers (-17.0%)

29. Bears vs. Cardinals (-18.7%)

30. Packers at Panthers (-24.2%)

31. Texans vs. Browns (-27.2%)

32. Seahawks at Titans (-31.7%)

  

Sneaky Starters

Tyler Conklin, Jets

Conklin has been a steady floor play throughout the season, with 4+ catches in eight of 14 games and at least three grabs in all but three outings.

The ceiling is raised this week against the Commanders' league-worst pass defense. Washington is worse against WRs than TEs ... but still ranks 21st in adjusted fantasy points allowed to TEs.

Pat Freiermuth, Steelers

Freiermuth has only had two useful fantasy games all season. But one of them came against the Bengals, who he gets again on Saturday.

Cincinnati ranks dead last in adjusted fantasy points allowed to TEs and 31st in TE coverage DVOA. In three games since allowing the big one to Freiermuth, the Bengals have coughed up:

  • 9-82-1 to Evan Engram
  • Eight catches for 65 yards and a score to Colts TEs
  • 6-63-0 to T.J. Hockenson

Although he hasn't posted big numbers, Freiermuth has registered a strong 85% route rate and 18% target share over the past two weeks.

  

Defense/Special Teams

5 Best DST Matchups 

(based on 2023 adjusted fantasy points allowed)

1. Eagles vs. Giants (+86.2%)

2. Commanders at Jets (+85.9%)

3. Jets vs. Commanders (+66.9%)

4. Packers at Panthers (+50.3%)

5. Cardinals at Bears (+49.5%)

  

5 Worst DST Matchups 

(based on 2023 adjusted fantasy points allowed)

28. Giants at Eagles (-30.7%)

29. Saints at Rams (-33.6%)

30. Dolphins vs. Cowboys (-41.6%)

31. Chargers vs. Bills (-47.5%)

32. Ravens at 49ers (-65.4%)

  

Sneaky Starters

Bills

Chargers QB Easton Stick was not nearly as good last week as his final numbers suggest. He ranked 21st in Pro Football Focus passing grade for the week. He took three sacks, tossed one INT, and lost two fumbles.

Stick's Chargers are implied for just 16.0 points vs. the Bills on Saturday night.

Broncos

The Broncos are six-point home favorites on Sunday night for a Patriots team with a 14.5-point implied total -- the lowest of the week.

After his surprising three-TD performance in Week 14, QB Bailey Zappe managed just 180 passing yards last week with one INT and four sacks taken.

Eagles

Here are the number of sacks taken by QB Tommy DeVito in his five starts:

  • 5
  • 9
  • 6
  • 0
  • 7

And that's despite averaging just 26.6 pass attempts per game over that stretch.

DeVito figures to throw it more on Sunday with his Giants 13.5-point underdogs in Philadelphia. That means more sack opportunities for the Eagles defense.

New York's 14.75-point implied total is second-lowest on the week.

   

Kicker

5 Best K Matchups 

(based on 2023 adjusted fantasy points allowed)

1. Jason Myers at Titans (+43.1%)

2. Greg Zuerlein vs. Commanders (+37.1%)

3. Matt Gay at Falcons (+31.1%)

4. Joey Slye at Jets (+30.8%)

5. Younghoe Koo vs. Colts (+27.4%)

  

5 Worst K Matchups 

(based on 2023 adjusted fantasy points allowed)

28. Cameron Dicker vs. Bills (-17.7%)

29. Anders Carlson at Panthers (-18.1%)

30. Jason Sanders vs. Cowboys (-26.6%)

31. Daniel Carlson at Chiefs (-29.7%)

32. Ka’imi Fairbairn vs. Browns (-29.9%)

   

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