Fantasy Football is all about the matchups. Even though you drafted your team with certain hopes and intentions, your weekly lineup decisions shouldn't be determined by the order you picked your players in. You need to check who your players play and make sure you've got the right guys in -- and the wrong guys out.
It's too early to be absolutely sure on which matchups will be easy and which ones will be tough, but we can take some educated guesses based on healthy personnel, defensive schemes, track records and key details of offenses. The things we know can help us minimize the impact of the things we don't know. This should lead to better decisions being made.
We'll go through every game and highlight the players who aren't obvious starts and sits (because you don't need to be told to start Justin Jefferson). You should feel more comfortable starting or sitting players based on the information given, and feeling comfortable with your Fantasy lineup before the games start is the best feeling in the world.
All lines from Caesars Sportsbook.
SF San Francisco • #11
Age: 25 • Experience: 4 yrs.
- LAST WEEK: Was barely involved when Deebo Samuel was on the field (one target), then caught two of 10 Brock Purdy targets after Samuel's injury for 57 yards and a score. An optimist would say he had a 20% target share and a touchdown opportunity from Purdy after Deebo left; a pessimist would say the touchdown was nearly knocked away because Purdy underthrew him, and the other target only happened because Purdy had so much time to throw.
- PURDY: Five of his 67 pass attempts and two of his 45 completions have been on passes of 15 or more Air Yards. His 5.34 ADOT ranks 32nd among qualifying QBs over the past two weeks (only Sam Darnold's is lower).
- AIYUK: On the season, 68 of Aiyuk's 86 targets have come from inside of 15 Air Yards. He's caught 78% of them for 11.7 yards per catch and 5.36 YAC/reception (which actually ranks 15th among all qualifying WRs; Deebo is first at 8.90).
- SEATTLE: On passes inside of 15 Air Yards rank in the bottom-six in defensive pass EPA and catch rate allowed and dead-last in YAC/reception allowed (6.30). This is in large part because of their zone-heavy coverage -- since Week 6 they've played at least 77% of their defensive snaps in zone coverage that lets receivers catch targets closer to the line of scrimmage.
- PAST TWO GAMES WITHOUT DEEBO: Aiyuk had 6-81-1 on six targets (23.1% target share) in Week 8 of this season, and 3-55-0 on six targets (20% target share) in Week 13 last season (at Seattle). Obviously one game was amazing and the other was awful, but at least he saw a 20% target share minimum in each.
- I'm optimistic Aiyuk will snare at least a 20% target share, but nervous that Purdy won't have to throw too much. The matchup is otherwise a real good fit for Aiyuk, which makes him safest as a high-end flex in PPR and a borderline WR2/3 in non-PPR. In all formats, I would start Aiyuk over Mike Evans, Michael Pittman, Adam Thielen and Gabe Davis.
Geno Smith QB
SEA Seattle • #7
Age: 32 • Experience: 11 year
- WEEK 2: Smith completed 80% of his passes but was pressured on 42% of his dropbacks and wound up completing on deep pass and zero touchdowns. The Seahawks run game was also stymied, culminating in an offense that converted just 2 of 7 third downs and held the ball for under 22 minutes.
- SMITH: Has notched at least 23 Fantasy points in each of his past six games even though he's felt pressure on at least 32% of his dropbacks in each of his past five. It's a marked improvement from earlier this year when he struggled with pass rush pressure.
- SMITH: Has seen his pass attempts ratchet up to at least 33 per game in those six, a huge development considering who's coaching the Seahawks.
- 49ERS: Have allowed 20-plus Fantasy points to only two quarterbacks this season, and both were when their defense was missing some key starters (Weeks 6 and 7 against the Falcons and Chiefs). Only one other quarterback had more than 16 Fantasy points against San Francisco this season, and only four total have thrown multiple touchdowns on them.
- There's no question that Smith has played great for much of this year, but the 49ers pass rush and pass defense has played great for much of this year, too. They rank 12th in passing yards per game allowed, fifth-best in Fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks and third best in defensive EPA per dropback. The 49ers make it tough to trust Smith, hurting his upside for this week. I'd rather start Aaron Rodgers in much easier matchups.
SEA Seattle • #9
Age: 22 • Experience: 2 yrs.
- WALKER: Had some powerful runs in Week 12 against the Raiders, but his offensive line wound up being a pretty big liability both then and in Week 10 against the Bucs. In those games, Walker averaged 1.8 yards per rush, 0.33 yards before contact per rush and 1.46 yards after contact per rush. That's awful compared to the four games where he operated as the feature back following Rashaad Penny's injury -- 4.8 yards per carry, 1.45 yards before contact per rush and 3.36 yards after contact per rush.
- 49ERS: On the season rank first in fewest yards per carry allowed, first in fewest yards after contact per rush allowed and third in fewest yards before contact per rush.
- 49ERS: Only five RBs have 11-plus PPR points against them in 2022, only two have had 15-plus PPR, and the one who did the best is now their lead running back.
- Walker should be in line to play a lot after missing last week, but it's expected that his efficiency plummets against the 49ers' terrific run defense. If you're starting him, you're hoping he finds a way to reach 60 total yards and an end-zone visit, but that's far from certain. He's just barely inside my top 24 at running back; I'd rather start Isiah Pacheco, Brian Robinson and Zonovan Knight.
IND Indianapolis • #11
Age: 25 • Experience: 4 yrs.
I would expect Pittman to see a bounce-back in targets, but his lack of involvement in high-value situations makes him pretty risky. At least the matchup is solid enough to consider Pittman a quality PPR flex, but more of a guy to avoid in non-PPR. I'd rather start Brandon Aiyuk and Christian Watson, but I'd take my chances with Pittman in PPR over Allen Lazard or a Steelers receiver.
- LAST GAME: Wasn't necessarily smothered by Cowboys cornerback Trevon Diggs, but did see Diggs line him across from him a lot. It may have been enough to deter Matt Ryan from throwing at Pittman since the wideout had only four targets, his lowest of the season.
- PITTMAN: Continued to work as a short- and intermediate-route runner lined up wide, one who has just seven red-zone and four end-zone targets on the season. He has also ran just 33 routes of 15-plus yards downfield all season according to Tru Media Sports, which ranks a cool 74th among wide receivers. Pittman has run 498 routes overall.
- VIKINGS: Rank dead-last in defensive pass EPA per dropback and catch rate allowed (74.9%) to outside receivers, and bottom-six in yards per catch (14.9) and YAC/reception (4.61) to outside receivers on the season. They have been better against receivers on those shorter passes inside of 15 Air Yards over their past four games.
J.K. Dobbins RB
BAL Baltimore • #27
Age: 24 • Experience: 4 yrs.
Dobbins might not have been the most explosive version of himself last week, but he did get plenty of opportunities and he thrived with them. He has an even easier matchup this week and should punch in for at least 15 touches again. He's a must-start No. 2 Fantasy RB ahead of Travis Etienne, Zonovan Knight and David Montgomery.
- LAST WEEK: Returned to the Ravens offense and turned 15 carries into a wonderful 120 yards and a touchdown -- against the Steelers, no less. Incredibly, he averaged 4.87 yards before contact and 3.13 yards after contact on his runs and gained at least five yards on eight of his carries.
- FILM: Dobbins truly benefitted from his offensive line, who ran counter plays like stallions. Dobbins himself didn't look quite as explosive as he once was, needing an extra half-second to gather himself when he stopped his feet while running. There was no loss of effort or power when he ran, but getting caught from behind on his 44-yard run was painful to watch.
- DOBBINS: When he came off the injury list earlier this season his playing time and his overall touches went up in his second game. If that follows suit in Week 15, he'll play more than 43% of the snaps and see more than the 15 touches he had last week. That would be incredible.
- BROWNS: Have given up 5.2 yards per rush to running backs this year and -- buckle up for this -- have yielded at least one touchdown to a running back in 8 of their past 11 games. They also put linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah on injured reserve this week and lost linebacker Sione Takitaki last week.
Nick Chubb RB
CLE Cleveland • #24
Age: 27 • Experience: 6 yrs.
It's fine to start Chubb if you don't have a respectable replacement, but understand that the matchup is incredibly tough. I'm especially spooked by the lack of inside-the-10 carries since Deshaun Watson has started -- there have been none, and he had just three total in the three games prior to Watson's return. Dial down expectations for Chubb, placing him in the weaker No. 2 running back range in PPR for this week just behind Zonovan Knight, Isiah Pacheco and David Montgomery, but ahead of Najee Harris.
- PAST TWO GAMES: Since Deshaun Watson has taken over, Chubb has curiously seen a downturn in carries per game (15.5 compared to 18.2 in his first 11 games), yards per carry (3.7 compared to 5.2) and snaps inside the 10-yard line (2.6 to 0.0). Kareem Hunt has taken on more of a role near the goal line (5 of 6 snaps inside the 10 last week).
- RAVENS: In five games since acquiring Roquan Smith, they've held all running backs to 2.5 yards per carry and one rushing touchdown (Najee Harris had it last week). They're worse against pass-catching backs (9.1 yards per catch with a touchdown) in those five.
- WEEK 7: Chubb totaled 107 yards with a touchdown in Week 7, but that was before the Browns offense and Ravens defense made changes.
- HISTORY: Chubb has one career game with over 100 rushing yards out of nine against the Ravens. He has six career touchdowns against them, but three came in one game and two came in another, both in 2020 or earlier. Chubb has averaged below 4.0 yards per run in two of his past three against Baltimore.
MIA Miami • #1
Age: 25 • Experience: 4 yrs.
After Tagovailoa's back-to-back games of being off-target and uncomfortable in the pocket, this might be a good week for the Dolphins to focus on shorter passes and the run game, both of which play into some deficiencies the Bills have had lately. If that happens then Tagovailoa's upside would be capped, but that's been the case in the past THREE weeks anyway. I'm ready to just move past Tagovailoa this week and hope for better results in Week 16 against the Packers. I'd rather start Dak Prescott, Kirk Cousins, Trevor Lawrence and Geno Smith.
- LAST WEEK: Tagovailoa was off-target on 17.9% of his throws and the Chargers found a way to unsettle the Dolphins passing game with a combination of disciplined pass coverage and a good pass rush. The Dolphins utilized Tagovailoa's legs and completed some shorter passes in reaction, both of which should be in play this week (if not run the ball more).
- WEEK 3: Tagovailoa was having a solid game against the Bills until he took a major hit before halftime, then returned. Before halftime he was 8 of 10 passing for 76 yards and a touchdown; he was 5 of 8 for 108 yards without a score in the second half (a pair of deep throws to Jaylen Waddle were clutch).
- HISTORY: Tagovailoa has never had more than one touchdown in any of three career games against the Bills.
- BILLS: Have allowed 19 or fewer Fantasy points to every single quarterback this season except Patrick Mahomes (23), Jacoby Brissett (30, seriously) and Jared Goff (21). Losing Von Miller has delivered mixed results -- their pass rush was dominant against the Patriots but took a while to get cooking against the Jets.
- WEATHER: For several days, the forecast has consistently called for snow and cold temperatures, which is common for Buffalo in December. But there's also a chance for the wind to be a factor, and that could curtail any passing plans for Miami.
HOU Houston • #26
Age: 25 • Experience: 5 yrs.
Fantasy managers should be worried about Singletary's workload -- if he's not in line for even 12 touches, his potential really takes a hit. He's at best a No. 3 Fantasy running back who should be shelved for Latavius Murray, Antonio Gibson and Cam Akers.
- LAST WEEK: Singletary's playing time dipped for the second week in a row, falling well below the 70% range he had enjoyed through the prior two months. At least Singletary was the more efficient runner over James Cook, but he had only nine touches.
- WEEK 3: Singletary took on 73% of the snaps against the Dolphins and was used in the passing game as a check-down target, clearly because of something the Bills coaches saw in the matchup. He caught 9 of 11 targets for 78 yards and a score -- and he's caught 19 passes in the 10 games since. There's nothing that promises he'll see even four targets, especially since both Cook and Nyheim Hines are good pass-catchers.
- DOLPHINS: Run defense seems to fare better against weaker run offenses and struggles to slow down better run offenses. Studs like Nick Chubb, Christian McCaffrey and Austin Ekeler have put up nice numbers on them while backs in Pittsburgh, Detroit, Chicago and Houston didn't do well. There isn't a lean here that necessarily helps Buffalo.
Taysom Hill TE
NO New Orleans • #7
Age: 32 • Experience: 7 yrs.
If you're starting Hill, it's because you literally have no one else to trust at tight end. That's how it should be -- Hill has the upside to total over 80 yards and score, and the downside to total 20 yards with no score. In many ways, he's like the majority of tight ends you'd consider in Fantasy, but he can put up numbers through different opportunities. In non-PPR he warrants a start over Dawson Knox, Tyler Conklin and Tyler Higbee. In full-PPR, dial it back to pretty much any scrub who doesn't have an eight-point PPR floor.
- PAST FOUR GAMES: Hill has played at least 40% of the snaps. That's the most work he's seen in any four-game stretch in his pro career other than when he was a starting quarterback. Unfortunately, there's been some serious volatility in touches -- as many as 13 against the Rams, and as few as four at the Steelers.
- FALCONS: Are the easiest matchup the Saints have faced since Week 8. They're sixth-worst in passing yards per game allowed and eighth-worst in rushing yards per game allowed.
- HISTORY: Has accounted for a touchdown in each of his past two against the Falcons including Week 1 of this year when he ran for 81 yards on just four carries. Going back further, the Saints have won in each of their past five against the Falcons when Hill has scored, though that includes two starts under center in 2020.
JAC Jacksonville • #16
Age: 23 • Experience: 3 yrs.
There was a mandate this week from coach Doug Pederson that the Jaguars must improve their run game, which is possible since the Cowboys do not have a shut-down run defense. But that doesn't change the fact that Lawrence might still put up good stats because he throws 35-plus times in what should be a competitive game against the Cowboys. He's solid as a back-end No. 1 quarterback. I like him more than Tua Tagovailoa, Tom Brady and Geno Smith.
LAWRENCE: If you've heard hub-bub over how good Lawrence looked last week, it's not a lie. Specifically in the second half his ball placement was terrific. He didn't make a lot of bad decisions with the football and he did well working around the Titans pass rush all game long. Having 42 pass attempts because the Jaguars run game has suddenly withered didn't hurt his Fantasy numbers either.
PAST FIVE: Since Lawrence's bonehead interception at Denver, a play that has apparently "flipped the switch" according to him, he's top-10 in pass attempts (36.2 per game) and completion rate (71.8%) and top-five in EPA per dropback and QB rating (111.7) with 10 touchdowns and no interceptions. His ADOT leaves a lot to be desired (7.03 ranks 21st), but all in all it's evidence he's advancing as a passer.
LAWRENCE: Has attempted 25 passes of 15-plus Air Yards in his past five, a big step down from the 50 he tried in Weeks 1 through 8.
COWBOYS: In their past four games have not allowed a quarterback to get more than 16 Fantasy points. The very types of throws Lawrence throttled the Titans with, inside of 15 Air Yards, have been dominated by the Cowboys pass defense. In its past four, Dallas ranks top-five in catch rate (68.7%) and tackles missed (two) and top-10 in yards per catch allowed (7.97) and YAC/reception allowed (4.78, that's good).
COWBOYS: Rank fourth-worst in catch rate allowed (64.7%) on deeper throws (15-plus Air Yards), but they're still top-10 in YAC/reception (1.91) with zero missed tackles. They've allowed six completions of 20-plus yards in their past four and a league-best 15 on the season.
Zay Jones WR
JAC Jacksonville • #7
Age: 28 • Experience: 7 yrs.
Lawrence might not have much success throwing at Jones this week, and some of the misses might have nothing to do with the coverage or the matchup. The receiver is a risk, especially since the matchup figures to be much sweeter for Christian Kirk in the slot. Jones has some value as a PPR flex but he's otherwise avoidable. I'd rather start Christian Watson, Michael Pittman and Adam Thielen.
- LAST WEEK: Jones rebounded from a terrible Week 13 with a 12-target, eight-catch game against a zone-heavy Titans defense. It included a tipped catch for a touchdown and a dropped end-zone target that was on the money from 40 yards out.
- DROPS: Jones has FIVE in his past two games.
- JONES: Four of his 29 receptions in his past four games have been for 16-plus yards. He remains a short and intermediate volume-driven target for Lawrence.
- MATCHUP: Jones has been lining up outside way more than Christian Kirk this season and figures to draw Cowboys cornerback Trevon Diggs in coverage the most of anyone on Jacksonville. Diggs scared the Colts out of throwing to Michael Pittman two games ago and wasn't targeted very much against the Texans last week.
Evan Engram TE
JAC Jacksonville • #17
Age: 28 • Experience: 7 yrs.
It's a near-certainty that Engram won't see 15 targets again -- he might see less than half that many. His own limp receiving average and an incredibly tough matchup against the Cowboys puts him in that range of tight ends you'll start because you can't find anyone better. That's the best way to view Engram this week. I'd rather start David Njoku and Cole Kmet, but Engram is still a safer proposition than Gerald Everett, Tyler Conklin or Taysom Hill.
- LAST WEEK: The Titans didn't do much defensively to challenge Engram as he routinely found himself wide open on short routes. Hence the 15 targets and 11-162-2 stat line. Engram's previous season-high in targets was 10, and he's only earned seven or more targets in five games.
- COWBOYS: Have been exceptional against tight ends all year, holding everyone they've seen to eight or fewer half-PPR points. That list includes Dallas Goedert, Cole Kmet, Tyler Higbee and T.J. Hockenson in two different offenses. Higbee is the only tight end to have more than 10 PPR points -- he had 11.
- ENGRAM: Has over 10 PPR points in each of his past two games, but in only four others before Week 13.
JAC Jacksonville • #1
Age: 24 • Experience: 3 yrs.
It's easy to forget about Etienne's explosive style when he has exactly seven plays of 10-plus yards in his past five games. This isn't a disastrous matchup for him, but it's not favorable either, and until he or his offensive line can begin showing some consistency, expectations should be lowered. He's a modest-ceiling running back who you'll start because he should still find in the neighborhood of 15 touches. I'll give a shot to Brian Robinson, Zonovan Knight or even Isiah Pacheco over Etienne, but D'Onta Foreman, Najee Harris and the Bucs RBs fall in line behind the Jaguar.
- LAST WEEK: Etienne got plenty of touches but only 10 came in the first three quarters as the Jaguars stuck with passing quite a bit against the Titans. He did nearly score on a short-yardage carry but was stopped short; Lawrence scored on the next play.
- JAGUARS: The lack of running isn't exactly a one-time thing; the Jaguars rank sixth in pass rate (65%) since their Week 11 bye.
- FILM: Etienne looked a touch more hesitant and a touch less explosive on his runs, but the real reasons for the down game in Week 14 were a lack of opportunities and some ineffective blocking from his offensive line against a very strong Titans run defense. Etienne actually had minus-0.24 yards before contact per rush last week, a big step down from the 2.23 he enjoyed in Week 13.
- COWBOYS: Since their bye (five games) they've given up 4.2 yards per run, 1.43 yards before contact per rush and three touchdowns to RBs. Those are right about league-average when compared to the rest of the league, but only Aaron Jones (in Week 10) has spiked them for 15-plus PPR points in those five games. On the season they rank sixth-best in holding down running backs from scoring a ton of Fantasy points.
Jared Goff QB
DET Detroit • #16
Age: 28 • Experience: 8 yrs.
This will sound silly to read, but it is a risk to sit Goff in Week 15. He's played great for three straight, but if conditions aren't favorable and the Jets' pass rush bugs him, it's going to be a challenging game. You should aim to play it safer at quarterback and start Aaron Rodgers or even Derek Carr instead.
- LAST WEEK: Goff was outstanding against the Vikings, posting over 30 Fantasy points on the strength of a 300-yard, three-score game. It was most impressive to see him go off without leaning too heavily on Amon-Ra St. Brown, a shred of evidence that the Lions passing game is stronger than anyone realizes.
- JETS: Have been among the best pass defenses in the league this season, holding 8 of the past 10 quarterbacks they've faced to 19 or fewer Fantasy points. Josh Allen got to only 21 last week and 24 in Week 9, and he needed some major rushing numbers including rushing TDs in each game.
- GOFF: Has yet to put together a multi-score game on the road this season. He's had some doozy matchups (at New England, at Dallas), but he's also seen some softer defenses and still struggled (at Minnesota, at Chicago, at the Giants). His only game with a QB Rating higher than 85.0 was against the Bears, and he still only scored once in that game.
- LIONS: Have not let Goff feel as much pressure lately compared to earlier this year. The offensive line deserves credit, but the matchups have played a role. He's felt a pass rush pressure on under 30% of his dropbacks in each of his past three games.
- JETS: Rank ninth in pass rush pressure rate this year (35.2%). They're actually eighth in pass rush pressure rate without blitzing, too. It's a staple of their defense.
NYJ N.Y. Jets • #17
Age: 22 • Experience: 2 yrs.
There isn't much to dislike about the matchup, but there's no confidence with Zach Wilson at quarterback. When he's played, he's been unfocused and skittish as he moves all over the pocket without throwing until he's really sure about his read or really desperate to get rid of the ball. Could his issues from his starts be fixed after a couple of weeks? I wouldn't bet on it. Garrett Wilson has potential to catch six passes but he may not even see 70 yards with it, and his lack of touchdown opportunities from Wilson crush his upside even more. I'd rather trust Zay Jones, Diontae Johnson and JuJu Smith-Schuster.
- G. WILSON: In seven starts with Zach Wilson this year, Garrett Wilson has posted 17 PPR points twice and six or fewer five times. In non-PPR it's a little worse: 11 points once, nine points once, four or fewer five times. The two good games saw him get at least seven targets in each; they're the only two games he's had seven or more targets from Zach Wilson.
- G. WILSON: With Zach Wilson, he has a 68% catch rate and a 12.3 receiving average with one red-zone target and one end-zone target. With Mike White or Joe Flacco, his catch rate is actually lower (59%) but he averaged 14.8 yards per catch with a stunning 15 red-zone targets and nine end-zone targets. A lot of that had to do with the Jets moving the ball downfield much more frequently with White (and Flacco) than Zach Wilson.
- LIONS: Their pass rush has greatly increased to 38.1% in their past five games, but their pass coverage remains bottom-five in yards per catch (12.1) and downfield ADOT (9.4) in those same five. It's been a season-long trend for the Lions to witness a lot of deep throws against them -- strictly against wide receivers they've been targeted on throws of 16-plus Air Yards at the third-highest rate (6.5 attempts per game) and have given up a catch on 49% of those throws (10th-most).
- Z. WILSON: Has attempted 31 passes of 16-plus Air Yards in his 189 attempts this year. He's completed 10 of them (32.3%), half for more than 30 yards, but none for a touchdown. Garrett Wilson caught two of three such targets.
- Z. WILSON: Ranks second-to-last or dead last in ... well, I'll let the tweet tell you.
Among QBs with >175 pass attempts, Zach Wilson ranks 2nd to last or dead last in— #AskFFT (@daverichard) December 16, 2022
attempts per game
EPA per dropback
Mike White QB
MIA Miami • #14
Age: 28 • Experience: 5 yrs.
I began the week liking Mike White, but he's been ruled out by the Jets doctors and obviously is a no-go in Fantasy. Zach Wilson will start in his place, which causes all kinds of issues since he ranked as the worst or second-worst in several passing metrics through his first seven starts. Potential replacements for White this week include (in my preferred order) Ryan Tannehill, Taylor Heinicke and Tyler Huntley, though you may find someone better off waivers.
NE New England • #7
Age: 26 • Experience: 7 yrs.
Unless the Texans give the Chiefs a fight like they did against the Cowboys last week, it's safe to assume a low-volume passing day for the Kansas City offense. That really limits the upside of Smith-Schuster in any format. At best he's a full-PPR flex. I'd rather start Christian Watson, Adam Thielen, Michael Pittman and Zay Jones.
- LAST WEEK: Finished easing his way back into being an outside receiver and posted his first good game since Week 9. Getting 11 targets against heavy zone coverage helped, as did getting himself open inside the 5 to catch a touchdown.
- TEXANS: Have leaned into zone coverage more so than man, especially over their past five games (right about league average at 69.8%). They do tend to play a little more zone than the league average on third downs, but they're not married to it like some teams are. The Texans have played the most snaps of zone against the Cowboys, Jaguars and Raiders so far this year -- teams with strong-armed quarterbacks and downfield playmakers. They should figure to stick to more zone this week.
- TEXANS: Have seen the fourth-fewest pass attempts per game this season (30.3) because their run defense has been so terrible. Houston has witnessed 363 RB carries this season, the most in the league by over 30 attempts, and they're giving up 5.06 yards per rush against those backs, which is fifth-worst. It's a huge problem not only for the Texans, but for the upside of any opposing passing game.
- SMITH-SCHUSTER: Has collected eight or more targets in seven games. Mahomes threw at least 37 passes in six of those seven, meaning that he'll have to throw plenty against the Texans for Smith-Schuster to have a realistic shot at putting up good numbers.
- TEXANS: Only five quarterbacks have thrown more than 35 times against them in 2022. Also, only seven wide receivers have 15 or more PPR points against them in 2022 (one in their past five games).
CHI Chicago • #1
Age: 24 • Experience: 3 yrs.
Fields' upside as a runner makes him a must-start Fantasy quarterback, especially since the Eagles defense has been so bad against running quarterbacks without facing the likes of Lamar Jackson or Josh Allen. If he can make some plays through the air, he'll definitely deliver a good game. I'd start him over Tua Tagovailoa, Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady and Geno Smith.
- FIELDS: Obviously leads all qualifying quarterbacks in rushing yards and yards per rush, and is top-three in rush attempts and rushing touchdowns (Jalen Hurts has him beat on both).
- FIELDS: Is nowhere close to leading any quarterbacks in basic passing metrics, with one simple exception for yards per attempt where he's 11th (7.49 yards). Notably, he ranks 33rd in pass attempts per game (21.1).
- EAGLES: Gave up their first 20-point game to a quarterback in Week 14 thanks to Daniel Jones rushing for 26 yards and a touchdown. He didn't even play the entire game. Before then, every single quarterback the Eagles faced posted 19 or fewer Fantasy points.
- EAGLES: Have allowed the highest rushing average to opposing quarterbacks this season -- 6.83 yards per carry. The Eagles have also seen the fewest rush attempts by a quarterback on the year (40). Specifically over their past two games against the Titans and Giants, quarterbacks have run for 108 yards on 10 carries versus the Birds.
- EAGLES: Rank third-worst in yards per catch allowed and third-worst in passing touchdowns allowed (five) on pass plays when a quarterback leaves the pocket. This is among Fields' specialties -- his yards per attempt average is a half-yard higher when he's out of the pocket compared to in the pocket.
PIT Pittsburgh • #18
Age: 26 • Experience: 5 yrs.
If Mitchell Trubisky starts, or even if Mason Rudolph starts, there's PPR flex appeal for Johnson in a matchup where he should be counted on to convert targets for decent yardage and little else. There's just too much of a track record to trust Johnson if Pickett starts, however. Starting Johnson means banking on volume, which makes him in line to be a better Fantasy choice in PPR than Gabe Davis, Marquise Brown D.J. Moore and George Pickens.
- LAST WEEK: Once Mitchell Trubisky entered the game, Diontae Johnson became a prominent target. That's not coincidence -- on the season, Johnson has a 28.2% target share, a 10.3 receiving average and an 8.9% explosive play rate from Trubisky compared to a 24.6% target share, a 9.2 receiving average and a 4.1% explosive play rate from Kenny Pickett.
- JOHNSON: Has six games this season with at least 11 PPR points. Four of them came in the four games Trubisky played the majority of snaps in. Johnson also had at least eight targets in each of those four and 10 targets in three of the four.
- PANTHERS: Have consistently been among the best pass defenses in YAC/reception allowed to wideouts this season. For the year they've struggled to stop completions (69.8% catch rate for outside WRs like Johnson) but they're not allowing much in the way of yardage (11.2 yards per catch on the season; 12.2 yards per catch in their past five). Cornerback Jaycee Horn has been amazing.
- PANTHERS: Where they tend to struggle is with touchdowns -- 11 allowed to all receivers and seven to outside receivers, with four of those seven coming in their past five games.
- JOHNSON: Sees most of his playing time as an outside receiver. He hasn't scored this season despite having 12 red-zone targets and 10 end-zone targets (both in the top-20 among wideouts).
CHI Chicago • #21
Age: 27 • Experience: 6 yrs.
CAR Carolina • #30
Age: 24 • Experience: 3 yrs.
Hubbard is a Sneaky Sleeper more than a must-start. The Steelers aren't a tough matchup anymore. Instead, the worries for each back are related to their ability to score -- Foreman is still more likely to plunge from short yardage than Hubbard. But Hubbard definitely has a role in the offense and should be counted on for a few catches each week -- he has sleeper appeal with an eight-point PPR floor. Foreman has a much better opportunity to rumble for solid yardage and score, putting him in the No. 2 running back convo. In PPR, I'd start Foreman over Najee Harris, Brian Robinson and both Buccaneers RBs. In PPR, I'd start Chuba Hubbard as a low-end flex over Rex Burkhead, Kareem Hunt and A.J. Dillon.
- LAST WEEK: The Panthers were able to run on the Seahawks as Foreman and Hubbard totaled 35 carries. Foreman started and worked as an early-downs back who mostly ran inside while Hubbard was a third-down back who ran to the edges.
- LAST WEEK: Foreman had two shots at a short-yardage score before turning over the duties to Hubbard, who punched it in on third down. Both of Hubbard's carries inside the 10 came on third downs, and half of Hubbard's carries either came on third downs or on long second-down plays. Hubbard also had a pair of runs inside the last two minutes of the first half, a role he typically has.
- PANTHERS: Seem to be committed to the roles they've given their backs: Hubbard on third downs and obvious passing situations like the two-minute offense, Foreman on first downs and most second downs. That really didn't change much last week, nor has it changed much since they traded McCaffrey.
- STEELERS: Were pummeled last week by the Ravens and not too good on a per-carry basis to the Falcons or Colts in the weeks before. Those past three games have seen the run defense yield 5.3 yards per carry to backs with 2.12 yards before contact and 3.22 yards after contact per rush. All three of those stats rank bottom-seven over that span. Losing defensive lineman Chris Wormley hurts their front -- he's graded out as a good run defender for several seasons.
- STEELERS: Have seen the third-most RB rush attempts over their past three games (tied with the Rams and Buccaneers). Teams certainly aren't fearing their run defense this season.
D.J. Moore WR
CHI Chicago • #2
Age: 26 • Experience: 6 yrs.
If you start Moore, you're hoping he connects on a deep target or two and scores. He was close last week, but his recent track record is troubling. This is an offense that doesn't mind running the ball a lot, and they could end up having their way against the Steelers. I don't feel good about starting Moore and would rather go with volume-driven receivers in pass-favorable matchups like Darius Slayton, D.J. Chark and Donovan Peoples-Jones.
- LAST WEEK: A bad combination of deep route-running and a good run game harpooned Moore's afternoon. He had two targets in which he could have scored but Sam Darnold was off-target on both (one was deep). Ultimately, Darnold attempted just 24 passes and focused on throwing short to Panthers who weren't drawing double-teams like Moore was.
- MOORE: Has been stuck at six or fewer targets for five straight games with one touchdown and one game with more than 30 yards in that span. It's not like it's costing the Panthers much -- they're 3-3 in those games.
- STEELERS: Rank fifth in lowest catch rate allowed to receivers this season (59.6%) but are second-worst in yards per catch allowed to the position (14.5). No one has allowed more completions of 20-plus yards to wideouts than the Steelers (41).
Derek Carr QB
NO New Orleans • #4
Age: 32 • Experience: 10 yrs.
Getting reinforcements would help Carr's outlook, but it's simply tough to trust Carr coming off of his ugliest game of the season against an improving Patriots defense. Rolling with Carr over Jared Goff or Ryan Tannehill could pay off provided he has his guys back, but quarterbacks like Mike White and Geno Smith deserve the start ahead of him.
- LAST WEEK: Threw only 20 passes and was miserable on most of them, including a game-changing interception inside the 5-yard line. Carr never seemed to really be in rhythm after the first drive of the game, and Raiders coach Josh McDaniels clung to a run-heavy game plan with the hope he'd pull out a win. Didn't work.
- BEFORE LAST WEEK: Carr hit at least 20 Fantasy points in five straight games, each with 30 pass attempts and multiple touchdowns.
- RAIDERS: Have given up a pass rush pressure on 37.8% of their offensive snaps in their past six games, a number that balloons to 44.4% when looking at just their past two. It seemed like Carr had begun handling pass rushers better until last week.
- PATRIOTS: Attack the quarterback with the third-highest pass rush pressure rate in football at 37%, and their sack total has jumped over the past two weeks because of improved play by edge rusher Josh Uche.
- HISTORY: Carr did pretty well in his 2020 meeting against Belichick's Patriots (261-2-0), but that defensive unit struggled all season. Carr was way worse in his prior two matchups against them.
- HELP?: What would help Carr's outlook is if both Darren Waller and Hunter Renfrow are activated off Injured Reserve, which is a possibility. In the only two games this season when Carr's had Adams, Waller and Renfrow, he's thrown for over 250 yards with multiple touchdowns in each (and three interceptions against the Chargers).
ARI Arizona • #2
Age: 26 • Experience: 5 yrs.
There's too much to worry about with Brown, including the matchup against the Broncos and the quality of targets he'll get from McCoy. He hasn't posted over 10 PPR points since coming back from his injury, which stinks because he was a lock for at least 11 PPR points in each of the first six weeks of the season with Kyler Murray and without DeAndre Hopkins. I'd rather start Elijah Moore, Allen Lazard and Darius Slayton.
- LAST WEEK: Saw eight targets from Colt McCoy, but only caught four for a meek 34 yards. He was stymied by press coverage on one end-zone target and watched a late throw from McCoy sail in front of him on another. A deep target was dropped.
- PAST TWO WEEKS: Since coming off Injured Reserve, Brown has manned the slot on 59% of his snaps, which is a surprising chunk given the Cardinals' other options for that role. But playing inside more hasn't changed his ADOT or his route depth from his first half of the season, which means he's not playing the same exact role as other Cardinals slot receivers have. It also means a lot of volatility, especially now that Colt McCoy is his quarterback moving forward.
- COLT McCOY: Has four passing touchdowns over his past five starts with Arizona going back to 2021. He's been above 250 yards once in those five games with an overall ADOT of 5.66 yards. His arrival is bad news for Brown.
- BRONCOS: The stats say they've had their struggles with slot receivers over their past four games, but most of the damage done there was by Davante Adams in Week 11 (they've been much tougher on slot receivers in their past three). Also, it's been high-volume receivers who have put up big numbers on the Broncos all season, not boom or bust guys.
Greg Dulcich TE
DEN Denver • #80
Age: 23 • Experience: 2 yrs.
If you start Dulcich, you're not only buying into the matchup but you're also banking on Brett Rypien to be more accurate than Russell Wilson when targeting him, which isn't really saying much. The lack of valuable targets is scary, and there is actually a chance the Broncos handle the ball with a lead, which means fewer targets to go around. But it's the upside that keeps him as a top-10 tight end, and a potential must-start in non-PPR. I'd give Dulcich the nod over Gerald Everett, Taysom Hill and Chigoziem Okonkwo.
- PAST TWO WEEKS: Dulcich had an awesome half against the Ravens, catching 5 of 6 targets for 55 yards. In the six quarters since, Dulcich has seen 10 targets and turned that into a 4-72-0 stat line with no red-zone and no end-zone opportunities. It's notable that Russell Wilson kept targeting Dulcich in Week 14 but was off-target on most of his attempts.
- WITH BRETT RYPIEN: Dulcich has a 17% target share and turned nine targets into six grabs and 51 yards with no red-zone or end-zone opportunities. That's over 40 routes/53 snaps, so it's a real small sample size.
- RYPIEN: In six career games, Rypien has targeted the tight end on 26.4% of his throws, which is a great number. He's completed three passes to tight ends over 10 yards and thrown zero touchdowns to them, which are not great numbers.
- CARDINALS: Remain a juicy matchup for tight ends. Would you believe tight ends have caught 30 of the past 35 targets in Arizona's past five games? At least one TE has hit 8.5 half-PPR/10 full-PPR points against them in five of their past seven games, including a 3-70-0 game for Hunter Henry on Monday night.
TB Tampa Bay • #1
Age: 24 • Experience: 2 yrs.
TB Tampa Bay • #7
Age: 28 • Experience: 7 yrs.
The Bucs running backs are tough to nail down for Fantasy purposes, but at least White seems like the more efficient runner of the two at this point, and he's not much worse in the passing game compared to Fournette. Still, neither one should be considered anywhere close to a must-start against a resilient defense that will probably take some liberties to get after Brady. I'd rather start D'Onta Foreman and Brian Robinson over both, and I'd rather start Latavius Murray, D'Andre Swift and Raheem Mostert over Fournette.
- LAST WEEK: White had a very slight edge on Fournette in terms of snaps but a much larger edge in rushes, gaining a respectable 4.3 yards per tote on 13 tries against the vaunted 49ers (Fournette had 3.3 and only saw four carries). Both saw a lot of work in the passing game with Fournette playing slightly more on third and fourth downs and seeing seven targets and six grabs to White's five targets and five grabs. Fournette had the better receiving average. White started for the fourth straight game.
- WHAT DOES IT MEAN? Probably not that much. These two figure to still split work close to evenly, even if White has been the better rusher of the two. It should also be expected that both pick up a lot of targets for the third straight week. It's a byproduct of Tom Brady getting the ball out quickly and forever leaning on his pass-catching running backs.
- BENGALS: Last week was the first time since Week 5 that they didn't allow at least 10 non-PPR points to a running back, and it was against the Browns. Holding Nick Chubb to under 2.5 yards per carry is a pretty incredible feat, and two weeks before then they slowed Derrick Henry to 2.24 yards per run. In between, they were throttled by Chiefs running backs on the ground and through the air, but it might have been that way because they were much more focused on trying to slow down Patrick Mahomes, which they were able to do.
- BENGALS: Have struggled with pass-catching backs over their past four games, giving up an 83.3% catch rate and 8.4 yards per grab (both in the bottom-12). The receiving average is boosted by Derrick Henry's 69-yard catch-and-run-and-fumble; without it they're giving up a much more respectable 5.2 yards per catch.
LAC L.A. Chargers • #7
Age: 28 • Experience: 7 yrs.
The Chargers don't use Everett the same way the Jaguars use Engram, so it's going to be really tough to expect anything close to what we got from Engram last week. Frankly, Everett is used mostly as a short-area option when the Chargers' receiving corps is at full strength. He could always score, but don't expect a particularly good game since his role has devolved and he's not separating from coverage. I'd rather start Greg Dulcich or Tyler Conklin in full PPR, and those guys plus Taysom Hill and Dawson Knox in non-PPR.
- LAST WEEK: With Mike Williams back and Keenan Allen rolling, Everett fell back into a supplemental role on offense. Though he got eight targets, he caught only five for 28 measly yards. Sadly, the 28 yards mark his second-highest total in his past four games.
- EVERETT: Hasn't scored since Week 4 and has seen just four end-zone targets since then (nine games). Worse yet, if that's possible, is an ADOT that's crashed from 7.73 through the first four weeks of the year to 5.30 since, with a 3.75-yard ADOT last week.
- TITANS: Forgot to cover Evan Engram last week and allowed one of the best TE performances of the year (11-162-2 on 15 targets). It was only the third time all season the Titans gave up more than 8.5 half-PPR points to a tight end.
WAS Washington • #8
Age: 24 • Experience: 2 yrs.
We're looking at a terrific matchup for Robinson, who should have fresh legs coming off the bye with the best version possible of his O-line. He's safe for around 10 Fantasy points regardless of format with upside to get close to 20 if he scores. That's hard to overlook this week. I'd start him over the Bucs RBs, Cordarrelle Patterson, the Lions RBs and Najee Harris.
- WEEK 13: Totaled 111 yards against the Giants with 21 carries and two receptions.
- PAST FOUR: Robinson registered 26, 15, 18 and 21 carries, huge totals for the rookie. It wasn't until two games ago when he started to run more effectively, averaging 5.8 yards per run against the Falcons and 4.6 yards against the Giants. Antonio Gibson's touches in those two matchups and could continue to be down to around 11 per game if Robinson is still running well.
- COMMANDERS: Have reshuffled their offensive line, moving Wes Schweitzer to center to replace the injured Tyler Larsen. They should also get Trai Turner back at guard to help add some beef to the interior. It doesn't hurt.
- GIANTS: Have allowed eight rushing touchdowns to RBs over their past five games with 5.2 yards per carry forfeited. Only the Browns have allowed more yards per carry in that span, but no team has allowed more rush yards overall (711), and no team has allowed more rushing touchdowns either. Getting Leonard Williams back on the D-line might help keep the big guys fresher but not necessarily make their run defense better.
NYJ N.Y. Jets • #8
Age: 39 • Experience: 19 yrs.
If you start Rodgers, you're hoping to get the best version of him attacking downfield against a susceptible Rams defense. The pressure issues Los Angeles have caused lately is a concern, but it might be the only concern, and it's one the Packers have dealt with moderately well all season. There is some potential for Rodgers to have a low-volume game, but the upside his receiving corps offers puts him in the low-end starting range. I'd try Rodgers in the home matchup over Geno Smith, Derek Carr, Jared Goff and Tom Brady.
- PAST TWO GAMES: Rodgers failed to notch 20 Fantasy points for very different reasons. Against Chicago he was a little off-target and was able to ride his run game (and Christian Watson) to a victory. Against Philadelphia he hurt his ribs and was ultimately forced out of the game after two touchdowns and two interceptions.
- RODGERS: Has struggled all year with pass rush pressure, completing 45.7% of his throws for 5.6 yards per attempt when he's under duress versus a 69.5% completion rate and 7.09 yards per attempt when not. He has 18 touchdowns when he isn't pressured, four when he is.
- RAMS: Even without Aaron Donald have stepped up in the pass rush department over their past two games, registering a ridiculous 40.9% rate against Seattle in Week 13 and an even more ridiculous 45.8% against Las Vegas in Week 14 (on four days rest!). L.A. did blitz much more against Seattle than against the Raiders, but both approaches worked.
- RAMS: Haven't been great against deep throws all season, but have especially struggled over their past two games, letting up a 63.6% catch rate, six completions of 20-plus yards, 30.6 yards per catch and 5.71 YAC/reception. All three stats rank in the bottom-10 in the past two weeks.
- RODGERS: Told The Pat McAfee Show this week that his thumb was feeling great as were his ribs.