The NFL Game Breakdown this week comes on the heels of one of the best football days of the year, Thanksgiving. Despite the trio of Thursday games in Week 12, there’s still 13 more on Sunday and Monday – let’s analyze them all in this week’s NFL Game Breakdown.
Bills @ Chiefs
Point Total: 41.5
Spread: KC (-6.5)
The Chiefs have been near lockdown versus the QB and RB positions lately making this a very tough matchup for both Tyrod Taylor (assuming he plays) and Lesean McCoy. After getting torched by Aaron Rodgers in week 3 the Chiefs have only allowed more than 1 passing TD in a game once and also haven’t allowed more than 250 yards passing in a game since week 5. With Taylor banged up (shoulder) I wouldn’t expect much passing from the Bills in this game anyways and would expect a run heavy approach with Lesean McCoy and Karlos Williams. McCoy has been brilliant of late averaging 4.97 ypc in his last two games while also averaging 5.5 receptions in that same span as well. The matchup this week however is not good as the Chiefs rank amoung the best in stopping the run and haven’t allowed a TD to an RB in 5 games. McCoy is playing well enough right now to buck this trend and in a must win game for Buffalo I’d expect a big workload. At $5300 McCoy’s price actually went down considerably this week based on matchup and for that reason alone I’d probably consider him as a contrarian play in tournaments, just be aware that KC is playing as well as anyone on defense right now. It’s a risky spot even for someone who’s playing as well as Shady but I’d still consider him.
The Bills passing game on the other hand has been pathetic of late as Tyrod Taylor has only averaged 190 yards and 0.66 TDs since returning from injury. Sammy Watkins who, talent wise, is full of fantasy potential, has only caught 6 passes in his last 2 games and has been un able to produce versus more elite competition at cornerback. The secondary has been the Chiefs weakest area on defense however and in every game thus far in 2015 they’ve allowed a WR to score at least 12.4 fantasy points against them. I think targeting Watkins in this game is risky but makes a ton of sense based on matchups and the fact the Bills may be forced to throw more due the Chiefs prowess against the run. For that reason Watkins, who is the Bills only real threat at WR, is in play for me in tournaments week 12.
Here’s the passing targets for the Kansas City Chiefs receivers from the past two weeks of play:
The Bills have been up and down as a secondary versus the WR position but considering the Chiefs lack of big plays on offense I’m not sure if there’s much reason to even consider a Chiefs WR from this game. No Chief WR has gone for more than 56 yards in a game since week 7 and this matchup quite frankly has an ugly fantasy vibe about it, just avoid the Chief’s WRs altogether… At TE Travis Kelce has been the leading Chiefs receiver for the past few weeks but has still only found the end zone once since week 1. The Bills have been on near lock down versus the TE position of late and I expect versus Kelce they’ll employ a similar strategy to the one that allowed them to virtually shut down Rob Gronkowski in week 11. Kelce’s athleticism always makes him an intriguing target but as mentioned before there’s zero reason to get fancy here in my mind… just avoid the Chiefs passing game this week (and beyond), there’s just not much upside in this unit.
The Chiefs lost RB Charcandrick West last week and it’s possible the injury may keep him out for this game too. Spencer Ware filled in and definitely took advantage of one of the weakest run defenses in the NFL gaining almost 100 yards and scoring twice in limited action versus San Diego. Ware’s a FB who runs pretty well for his size (4.6 40 m) and will probably be getting the bulk of the work for the Chiefs next week (although watch the news in case Knile Davis gets activated). At $3800, even against a pretty decent Bills front, Ware is definitely in play for salary reasons. Buffalo hasn’t allowed a ton of yardage to RBs this year but they have allowed 7 TDs to running backs in their last 5 games and with Ware likely to get most of the goal line work he’ll definitely be in play for me week 12.
Gameflow: This isn’t the most exciting game of the week but it does have playoff implications. The Chiefs can take control of the final wildcard spot with a win and seeing as they’ll be at home against what has been a lethargic Bills offense that seems like the most likely scenario here. I’d mostly avoid this one for fantasy and look for a Chiefs victory through tough defense and non-exciting but effective QB play from Alex Smith.
Chiefs 21 Bills 17
- Spencer Ware $3800
- Sammy Watkins $5200
- LeSean McCoy $5300
Dolphins @ Jets
Point Total: 42.5
Spread: Jets -3.5
The Jets defense has been very giving lately to opposing offenses, and with Darrelle Revis looking likely to miss this game it’s quite possible the passing game of the Miami Dolphins will be a decent fantasy target this weekend. QB Ryan Tannehill at only $5200 is definitely a “person of interest” for me given that the Jets run defense is still pretty stout and that the Dolphins may have trouble running the ball. The Jets have given up a 100 yard receiving game to a WR in three of their last four games WITH Revis in the lineup… without him a big passing day for Tannehill and co. could easily be on tap for week 12. Make sure you consider him as a cheap QB target.
Here’s how Tannehill’s targets have broken down the past couple of games:
The Jets Antonio Cromartie and Buster Skrine would likely start at CB this week if Darrelle Revis is out. Neither of these two have been good in coverage this year and so the spot for both Rishard Matthews and Jarvis Landry looks ripe for some fantasy goodness. Landry hasn’t busted out a big game in a while but he’s still been Tannehill’s favorite target and is averaging over 14 fantasy points on DraftKings over his last 4 games. At $6600 he’s not cheap, but he’s reliable with a lot more upside than usual this week and will be someone I’ll consider in HU and 50/50’s… Matthews is much cheaper at $4400 and is great value. Even with a bit of a dud last week versus the underrated Dallas D he’s posted 13 fantasy points or more in 4 of his last 6 games. That’s exceptional consistency for someone under $4500. He’ll be a target of mine this weekend too and someone I’d consider across the board.
At RB rookie Jay Ajayi saw a few more carries last week but it was still Lamar Miller getting most of the work as he played on over 67% of the snaps week 11. I like Miller this week as a tournament target as he’ll be very lightly owned considering the matchup and coming off a down week versus Dallas. His recent PPR surge gives him value in this game as there’s a chance he takes advantage of a Jets D who’s now given up 2 TDs and 12 receptions to RBs through the air the past two weeks. He’s for tournaments only but still a consideration.
The Jets offense might also be a good target in this game. Chris Ivory rushed for 166 yards and a TD in week 4 (the first time these two teams played) but hasn’t cracked the 100 yard mark since 6 versus the Redskins or scored since week 7. Ivory is much more game flow dependant with Bilal Powell healthy however and Powell was a big part of week 11 for NY as he played on 61% of the snaps after the Jets got down early. With the Jets playing poorly of late Ivory’s definitely best left to tournaments, but does carry upside versus a very exploitable Dolphins D.
As for the passing game I’ll personally be avoiding Ryan Fitzpatrick who has now had 7 games where he’s posted between 14 and 19 fantasy points on the season. The consistency is nice but I’d rather look for plays with better upside and will be avoiding him week 12… I may consider playing one or both of the Jets WRs in some lineups however. While Brandon Marshall has now scored in three straight games he’s been slowed by injuries of late and missed a couple of passes last weekend which could have easily boosted his final point total dramatically. Eric Decker has now out produced Marshall yardage-wise in 4 straight games and looks like the better player at the moment. Given that Decker ($5800) also has the better matchup versus Brice McCain, and is $1000 cheaper, he’ll probably be the man I target this week from the Jets passing game. I’d consider him a strong play in most formats.
Gameflow: This game seems ripe to possibly go over its projected point total. The Jets D has really been showing cracks lately and without their best player (Revis) it’s possible the Dolphins come in and jump on the Jets early. I don’t love or trust the Dolphins but I think this is a spot where their offense should be able to move the ball with some consistency. Expect the Fins to extract some revenge for an early season blowout loss here.
Dolphins 27 Jets 23
- Jarvis Landry $6600
- Rishard Matthews $4400
- Eric Decker $5800
- Chris Ivory $5800
- Ryan Tannehill $5200
Vikings @ Falcons
Point Total: 46
Spread: Falcons -2
The Vikings defense has been particularly good versus the QB position this year allowing only one 300 yard passing game to a QB while also allowing no more than 2 passing TDs in a game thus far. Part of the reason for this is that pace-wise Minnesota’s offense is one of the slowest in the league and is also top ten in the league in possession stats—meaning they are good at keeping the ball away from their opponents. However, while I’m not particularly fond of using Falcons QB Matt Ryan in this spot I would definitely consider Julio Jones as a play. Jones will be seeing a lot of CB Xavier Rhodes in this game who, from a coverage perspective, hasn’t been good all year. Pro Football Focus has Jones as the WR with the “most advantageous matchup” this week and even with a slower pace there’s a huge chance Jones puts up huge numbers this week. This is a monster spot for a monster fantasy player, find some room for him in your lineups if you can.
With the return of WR Leonard Hankerson the passing targets last week were extremely spread out amoung the none-Julio Falcon receivers and I personally wouldn’t advocate investing in anyone else outside of Julio in the passing game. AT RB however you could see a nice bounce back week from Devonta Freeman here who got pulled early from week 11 with a concussion (or Tevin Coleman if he plays in his stead). The Vikings defense has been solid versus the run most of the year, but they’ll be on the road here and against a Falcons team who’ve been very effective running the ball all season. At $8300 Freeman is expensive but should be in a good position to receive a big workload. With a lot of top RBs injured or in tricky spots due to opponents Freeman (or Tevin Coleman) is a consideration for me in most formats week 12.
The Vikings passing game has been a pretty poor fantasy target all season with QB Teddy Bridgewater throwing multiple TD passes in only 1 game all season. The Vikings have the 6th highest percentage of run plays out of all the teams in the league thus far and in a game with a close point spread I’d expect more of the same this week. Still before we write off the Vikings pass game completely here are Bridgewater’s targets from the last two games:
Even though the Falcons have been strong against versus the pass I would still consider both Stefon Diggs and Kyle Rudolph in this spot. Diggs has been the leading WR for the Vikings since moving into the starting lineup and will most likely be up against Jalen Collins from the Falcons in this game. This is a great matchup for Diggs as Collins is by far the worst of the Falcons CBs and presents a very exploitable matchup for the Vikings. I like that Diggs was targeted heavily by Bridgewater in a close game last week and at $4800 would consider him as a pretty nice value play in week 12… I also like the increased usage on Kyle Rudolph of late who has as many targets as Diggs over the past two games. The Falcons haven’t defended the TE well all season and Rudolph could easily take advantage of this matchup with a decent PPR game or a TD. At $3400 Rudolph’s a good target for those looking to save at TE.
The Falcons have allowed a lot of TDs to RBs this year but haven’t allowed a ton of yards against, and have yet to allow a single 100 yard rusher in a game thus far in 2015. Adrian Peterson scored last week but otherwise didn’t do much and yet still saw his price increase to $7300. With the way ATL has played of late its possible Peterson breaks through here for a big game but the trend is that he’s kept in check by a still solid Falcons front line. Either way Peterson would strictly be a tournament consideration for me in week 12.
Gameflow: This is an important game as far as playoff positioning goes. The Falcons are absolutely reeling after 4 straight losses but I think that the matchups in this game really do favour them. Minnesota will not be able to slow down Julio Jones and the Falcons defense has been mostly solid all season. I think Matt Ryan does just enough here to get the win and pushes the Falcons back into the win column.
Falcons 24 Vikings 21
- Julio Jones $9400
- Devonta Freeman $8300
- Stefon Diggs $4800
- Adrian Peterson $7300
- Kyle Rudolph $3400
Saints @ Texans
Point Total: 48
Spread: Texans -3
The Saints defense has been of the best targets for fantasy over the past 3-4 weeks and have now given up an average of 344 yards and 4.25 TDs to QBs over their last 4 games. It sounds strange but Brian Hoyer has been a QB you can trust for fantasy this year as three of the last four games that he started ended with him scoring 21 points or more on DraftKings. The Texans as a team have run the most plays per game in the entire league this season and with a run game that has been below average to non-existent all year, using Hoyer this week at only $5000 seems like an almost automatic decision considering the savings you get. He’s a great target in all formats for week 12.
Here’s the passing targets for the Texans over their past two games:
It goes without saying that DeAndre Hopkins should be a main target of yours this weekend. While Hopkins will be matched up with Delvin Breaux, who’s been the Saints strongest cover man all season, it’s still not a matchup I fear especially considering that other elite WRs Odell Beckham and TY Hilton were recently able to put up a combined 5 TDs versus the Saints and Breaux. Hopkins has much upside as any WR week 12 and is someone I’d recommend getting exposure to… At the moment it also appears that Nate Washington could be a decent value target in this game too as he’s set to go up against Brandon Browner in coverage who’s been consistently bad all season. Washington has been seeing more targets than Cecil Shorts over the last two games and would be a fine tournament play if you needed a cheap WR this weekend. The Texans pass game in general has a lot of upside this week.
I normally stay away from the Texans run game altogether but this could be a spot where Alfred Blue breaks out a big game. Blue is a simple straight ahead runner but against the Saints crumbling D his battering ram style could be more effective than usual. At $4500 I consider Blue a great tournament option as game flow could be heavily in his favour and afford him a ton of touches.
Don’t look now but the Texans defense might have finally awoken. In their last three games they’ve allowed opposing QBs an average of 194 yards and .33 TDs a game while also recording 4 INTs in that same span. In his last two road games Drew Brees has failed to throw for over 260 yards and also has 3 TDs versus 3 INTs in that same span. At $7300 there’s simply better value at QB this week and with the Texans D playing so well Brees won’t be in my week 12 plans.
The Saints Running game has been a bit of a black hole for fantasy purposes of late. Mark Ingram has either been ineffective or killed by the Saints getting behind early and CJ Spiller simply isn’t seeing enough work to be effective. With the Texans D only allowing an average of 54 yards on the ground to RBs in their last two games I’m also fine avoiding the Saints run game and looking for better spots elsewhere. At $6400 you’d need a big game from Ingram to pay off his salary and right now that seems like an unlikely scenario given the matchup and recent trends of these two teams.
At receiver for New Orleans Brandin Cooks is only averaging 5 receptions per game over the past three weeks but he’s also scored 5 times in that span and averaged over 80 yards per game. The big plays have finally started to drop for Cooks and even though the Houston secondary has been better of late Cooks will likely be able to find some room versus rookie CB Kevin Johnson in this game. I think there’s a possibility for another big game here as the Saints might have trouble moving the ball with their RBs and slower secondary receivers versus a stout D. I’d consider Cooks as a WR of interest for fantasy this weekend.
Gameflow: The Texans have seemingly turned the corner with two wins over very solid teams and will look to make it three in a row by knocking off the floundering Saints. I expect the Texans to at least limit the Saints on offense and be able to make enough big plays of their own on offense to seal up a win. This is definitely a game you could consider stacking for fantasy as a big final score here wouldn’t surprise me, lots of garbage time stats could be incoming for both sides.
Texans 30 Saints 24
- DeAndre Hopkins $9100
- Brian Hoyer $5000
- Brandin Cooks $6400
- Alfred Blue $4500
- Nate Washington $3800
Giants @ Washington
Point Total: 47
Spread: Giants -2
The Washington defense has been in a downward spiral the past few weeks and it culminated with a drubbing at the hands of the Carolina Panthers in week 11. WASH has now given up a sickly 9 TDs to the WR position over their last 5 games and are in a tough spot this weekend with the pass happy Giants coming to town. Eli Manning has been terrific over his last three starts and now has 10 TDs versus just 2 INTs in that span. Because teams have been able to run the ball on Washington (6 straight games giving up 100 yards or more to opposing RBs) you might see less yardage from Eli this week but I still think that he makes for a decent tournament play in week 12, as a big game is possible here.
One of the main reasons why Manning is intriguing to me this weekend is because he gets to throw to a stud WR in Odell Beckham on every play. As already mentioned the Skins are awful in defending the WR position and have allowed other big name WRs in Brandon Marshall, Brandin Cooks and Mike Evans to score 27 fantasy points or more against them in 3 of their last 5 games. Beckham’s actually been getting more work lately and is up to 14.5 targets per game over his last two starts. I love this matchup and think Beckham has every chance of being the top scoring player in fantasy this week. The Skins simply do not have the personnel to stop him.
At RB the Giants backfield has been a spot to avoid for fantasy most of the year but the increased usage of Shane Vereen of late has him at least on my radar as a tournament play in week 12. Vereen’s seen the most snaps of any Giants RB the past two games and with WASH giving up 3 TDs and 5.5 receptions to RBs through the air in their last four contests it’s quite possible a decent game could be had here by the Giants passing back, at only $4200 he’s definitely worth considering.
Kirk Cousins had a day to forget in week 11 as he turned the ball over three times and got knocked down and consistently pummeled by the Carolina D line. The good news for him this week is that the Giants are near the bottom of the league in sacks and have also been pretty giving to opposing QBs allowing the third most fantasy points to the position on DK thus far in 2015. With the WASH running game still sputtering (outside of one explosion by Matt Jones versus the Saints) it’s conceivable that a bounce back game is on tap here for Cousins. I like the matchup and the higher point total, and would consider Cousins as a cheap tournament play for week 12.
Here’s the passing targets for the Washington receivers from their past two games:
While the return of Desean Jackson has meant a more even spread in the pass game, Jordan Reed continues to be Kirk Cousins main receiving target. Reed has a fantastic matchup this week as the Giants are weak at the linebacker position and have already given up three games of 25 points or more to a TE this season. Reed posted a 6rec. 96 yard performance versus the Giants in week 3 and quite honestly, if not for a few errant throws by his QB, could have had a much, much bigger day. At $5100 I still think his potential in this game outweighs his price increase and he’ll be one of the highest ranked TE’s for me in week 12 and my main target from the WASH offense … With the return of Prince Amukamara the Giants now have two solid CBs and that could limit the fantasy potential this week for Desean Jackson. Jackson showed he was back to full health last week, as he outran the Panthers secondary on a long TD, but he’d once again just be a tournament play for me. Consider him in a game stack or as a correlation play with Cousins but don’t overexpose yourself in a not great matchup.
At RB the Skins continue to split carries between their three RBs. Chris Thompson led the way in snaps last week, but game flow was a large factor as the Skins were down big most of the day. I’d personally just avoid this spot but with the Giants run D being pretty mediocre you could consider Matt Jones in tournaments. A big run or another long screen catch and run TD is possible and at $3900 he’s still cheap enough as a flyer play.
Gameflow: This should be a close game. The Redskins were not great last week but have been a better team at home for most of the year. The Giants on the other hand are coming off a close loss to NE in week 10 and could seize control of the division with a win here. I think ultimately the weakness of the Washington secondary will be the deciding factor as Odell Beckham and Eli Manning should be able to move the ball enough to squeak out a close W.
Giants 27 Washington 24
- Odell Beckham $8700
- Jordan Reed $5100
- Eli Manning $6500
- Kirk Cousins $5400
- Shane Vereen $4200