Henry Makes Titans Fantasy-Relevant Again
NFL Divisional - The expanded playoffs awarded opportunities for star players such as Patrick Mahomes and Tom Brady to rack up fantasy production against teams that would not have survived into January in previous seasons. But there are no easy outs left in the divisional round. With thinner and thinner lines between fantasy options, be sure to account for the matchup considerations as you select your daily lineups.
The following tables feature the players with the best and worst matchups of the week. Each listed player shows a true-talent (TT) ranking that represents how I would rank him with a perfectly neutral game context. Then, that ranking is adjusted by adding the context of the venue (Ven)—home and road and dome and outside—the forecasted weather (Wea), and opponent tendencies (Opp). The line beneath those rankings shows how much those contextual factors move projected PPR fantasy points. That total (Tot) number gives you a comprehensive estimate of how many fantasy points the player will score this week more or less than his typical total.
You can see our full weekly projections with projected stats, matchup adjustments and fantasy points by subscribing to FO+.
|Best Week 20 Matchups - Quarterbacks|
With all four divisional games playing outdoors in the elements, the quarterback matchup gainers this week are really the smallest losers. None of their weather concerns are as severe as they can be in January with wind and snow. The 49ers and Packers should see the worst of it with single-digit evening temperatures in Green Bay on Saturday night. But other than Josh Allen and the Bills, apparently, they are the two teams that seem best equipped to handle it. The 49ers rely on their run game and shorter passes with yards after the catch, and Aaron Rodgers has consistently defied the typical trend at his position with his immunity to cold temperatures in his career. He seems like a good fit for Green Bay. They should work on that.
With venues and weather that largely cancel each other out, your best quarterback opportunities will follow opponent tendencies. Rodgers could excel against a 49ers defense that is better against the run (second in DVOA) than the pass (16th) and particularly weak as the No. 31 DVOA defense against deep throws. But the 49ers are also a top-10 cutter of pass plays by virtue of their ball-control rushing offense. As such, Ryan Tannehill tops the matchup list. And while that might surprise you with Derrick Henry poised to return to action and renew the team's run focus, Tannehill has enjoyed his best play-action passing success with Henry in the Titans' lineup. Tannehill has averaged 5.4 more fantasy points at home than on the road in recent seasons, the most extreme home/road split among the remaining playoff passers. And the Bengals have a better run (13th) than pass defense (24th) and cannot control possession the way the 49ers can on offense. They increase pass plays by 3% per game, second-most in football.
Best DraftKings Values: Jimmy Garoppolo ($500 underpriced at $5,200), Josh Allen ($400 underpriced at $7,600), Tom Brady ($0 underpriced at $6,800)
Best FanDuel Values: Jimmy Garoppolo ($500 underpriced at $6,500), Josh Allen ($200 underpriced at $8,800), Tom Brady ($100 underpriced at $7,800)
Jimmy Garoppolo can ride the fantasy successes of his running teammates when he throws them touchdowns in the red zone. And he will likely have more incentive to throw against a Packers team that tends to build leads, increases pass plays per game, and increases passing touchdown rate by 13%. But Garoppolo told reporters that a shoulder injury is affecting his ability to throw. As such, I prefer to play it safe and take a more expensive elite option such as Josh Allen or Tom Brady. Allen may not have been bothered by the cold he endured in Buffalo last week that was even more extreme than the pedestrian below-freezing temperatures in Kansas City on Sunday. But broadly speaking, Allen has averaged 3.2 more fantasy points on the road than at home in recent seasons and will likely need to throw to keep pace with his prolific Chiefs opponent.
|Worst Week 20 Matchups - Quarterbacks|
Patrick Mahomes suffered an unsustainable string of bad luck with a kickoff return fumble, an offensive holding penalty, a dropped-pass interception, and a batted-pass interception killing drives in the Bills' 38-20 drubbing of the Chiefs in Week 5 in Kansas City. He should have a better day on Sunday. But the Bills still have the No. 1 pass defense by DVOA, are No. 1 against deep passes, and cut passing yards and touchdowns by 17% and 43% per attempt, both the most in football. All told, the cold temperatures and opponent cost Mahomes a projected 2.4 fantasy points. That wouldn't sabotage him in a typical fantasy context, but it does drop him below Aaron Rodgers in my weekly rankings and makes him a poor daily option, where his $7,300 and $8,500 DraftKings and FanDuel prices remain second highest at his position.
Worst DraftKings Values: Matthew Stafford ($400 overpriced at $6,200), Joe Burrow ($300 overpriced at $6,600), Patrick Mahomes ($300 overpriced at $7,300)
Worst FanDuel Values: Patrick Mahomes ($400 overpriced at $8,500), Aaron Rodgers ($300 overpriced at $8,400), Matthew Stafford ($200 overpriced at $7,400)
Matthew Stafford had his best fantasy game with 343 yards and four touchdowns in a Week 3 win over the Buccaneers. But that performance came at home, where Stafford has averaged 1.1 more fantasy points per game than on the road, a typical split for a quarterback with the benefits of a dome stadium. An overmatched Eagles offense may not have tested how close the Tampa Bay defense is to its Super Bowl form. But the Bus are healthier now than they have been through most of the regular season. And even with their inconsistencies, the Bucs were a top-10 pass defense and top-five cutter of passing yards and touchdowns at 10% and 17% per attempt. Stafford offers some appealing stacking opportunities with the concentration of the Rams skill talent. But I wouldn't pick Stafford at his $6,200 and $7,400 daily prices with a balanced lineup or in a non-tournament setting.
|Best Week 20 Matchups - Running Backs|
Derrick Henry has not played since his Week 8 Jones fracture and is an obviously risky bet as my top projected running back this week. But Henry ran away from the rest of his position with 27.5 carries per game in the first half of the season. If he could withstand even 80% of that workload, he would likely excel as the only back with a clear plus matchup this week. As mentioned, the Bengals are better against the run than the pass and cut run plays by 12% per game because of it. But the general success teams have enjoyed against the Bengals defense have earned them extra red zone opportunities and increase their rushing touchdown rate by 27% per attempt. Henry could run in multiple touchdowns this week, and that is a massive upside compared a field of other backs who almost to the man face a top-12 overall defense, either over the full season like the 49ers, Rams, Bills, Bucs and Titans, or since some in-season personnel improvements like the Chiefs.
Best DraftKings Values: Leonard Fournette ($1,800 underpriced at $5,700), Elijah Mitchell ($1,400 underpriced at $5,800), Derrick Henry ($900 underpriced at $7,500)
Best FanDuel Values: Leonard Fournette ($800 underpriced at $7,000), Cam Akers ($600 underpriced at $5,700), Jerick McKinnon ($100 underpriced at $6,000)
Leonard Fournette might face the strongest of those opposing defenses in the Rams, who are ranked fifth in defensive DVOA and fifth against the run. But Fournette secured his every-week RB1 status with 6.0 targets per game, tied with Alvin Kamara for third-most at his position before his Week 15 hamstring injury. He was back in practice on Wednesday, and if he plays, I expect a heavy workload.
FanDuel bargain-hunters have a couple of excellent options at running back in Cam Akers and Jerick McKinnon at just $5,700 and $6,000. Just by playing less than six months after an Achilles tear, Akers has a remarkable recovery story. But he more than doubled his snap share from 20% in Week 18 to 53% last week and out-touched his incumbent Sony Michel 18 to 13. I think he's back to being the lead Rams back and is a volume-driven value facing the rejuvenated Bucs run defense.
I'm not projecting as featured a role for McKinnon with Darrel Williams and a possibly returning Clyde Edwards-Helaire behind him in Kansas City. But McKinnon added an explosive element to an underperforming Chiefs offense with a ramped-up 78% snap-share in the wild card round. And his speed seems to be a better fit for the team's spread offense and preferred screen game even if the Bills have had their most defensive trouble against bigger backs such as Fournette, Jonathan Taylor, and Damien Harris. With the receiving upside he demonstrated with 81 yards last week, I think McKinnon is worth the risk.
|Worst Week 20 Matchups - Running Backs|
With his versatility as a runner and a receiver, Aaron Jones can never fall too far because of a difficult matchup. But the 49ers may be the worst of those for backs in football. They not only rank second in run defense DVOA and cut rushing yards by 15% per carry, the most in football, but they have major holes in their secondary that invite passing and deep passing, and thus cut run plays by 6% per game. Jones counterbalances a bit of his projected loss of 0.7 PPR points for his opponent with small gains for the cold weather at home in Green Bay. But in net, Jones still falls from fourth to fifth at his position this week. And I would rather play Elijah Mitchell from the other sideline despite their inverted true talent rankings.
Worst DraftKings Values: Clyde Edwards-Helaire ($600 overpriced at $5,200), Sony Michel ($500 overpriced at $5,300), Zack Moss ($200 overpriced at $4,100)
Worst FanDuel Values: Derrick Henry ($600 overpriced at $9,000), Darrel Williams ($400 overpriced at $5,500), Devin Singletary ($200 overpriced at $7,200)
The theme of the overpriced backs is job losses. Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Darrel Williams seem likely to face reduced workloads after Jerick McKinnon's Sunday outburst. Sony Michel looks like Cam Akers' backup. And Zack Moss has played just 16, 18, and six snaps the last three weeks since Devin Singletary wrestled control of what had previously been a backfield committee for Buffalo. I would avoid that quartet in most fantasy contexts.
Singletary and Derrick Henry make a lot more sense in many situations. But I dislike their value propositions and $7,200 and $9,000 in FanDuel this week. The former faces a 10% cutter of run plays and 38% cutter of rushing touchdown rate in the Chiefs. And the latter will need to immediately return to his first-half 84.0% carry share to justify his $1,200 markup from the rest of the position. That could happen, and Henry is a reasonable tournament building block. But I wouldn't include him in every lineup I play this weekend.
|Best Week 20 Matchups - Wide Receivers|
The middling 49ers pass defense has been a bigger boon to No. 1 receivers than to No. 2 and slot receivers this season. They promote the former group's catch rate, yards per target, and touchdowns per target by 7%, 11%, and 10%, all top-13 in football. But the 49ers also saw a key reinforcement in the wild-card round in the return of cornerback Emmanuel Moseley. And now I'm unsure whether Davante Adams or field-stretcher Marquez Valdes-Scanting faces a more appealing fantasy matchup. I guess there's no need to choose. With a forecast of cold temperatures that typically depress passing, the Packers receivers net out as neutral matchup gainers. But compared to most players at the position this week with concerns for winter weather and exceptional pass defenses, Adams and Valdes-Scanting pop. Adams even jumps receiving triple crown winner Cooper Kupp for first in my weekly receiver rankings this week.
Best DraftKings Values: Jauan Jennings ($800 underpriced at $3,400), Isaiah McKenzie ($700 underpriced at $3,500), Davante Adams ($400 underpriced at $8,500)
Best FanDuel Values: Isaiah McKenzie ($800 underpriced at $4,800), Jauan Jennings ($600 underpriced at $5,000), Breshad Perriman ($400 underpriced at $5,100)
Jauan Jennings and Isaiah McKenzie haven't matched Cam Akers and Jerick McKinnon for workload increases. But Jennings and McKenzie went from single-digit snap counts for much of this season to 51% and 34% snap shares last week and are compelling gambles at $3,500 or less in DraftKings and $5,000 or less in FanDuel. If I had to pick, I would take Jennings. He has seen five or more targets in five of his last six games, and his emerging role as a third-down converter could be highlighted if the 49ers fall behind the Packers and must pass to catch up.
|Worst Week 20 Matchups - Wide Receivers|
The best receivers have almost universally bad matchups this weekend. The Bucs, Bills, and Rams are all top-10 in pass defense DVOA, and the Chiefs were from Week 8 to the end of the regular season. That symmetry keeps Cooper Kupp, Mike Evans, Tyreek Hill, and Stefon Diggs in close to their normal pecking order at second, third, fourth, and seventh at the position—as mentioned, Kupp is the only rankings loser with his switch with Davante Adams. But those players do lose a projected 0.6 to 1.8 PPR points for the matchups. And that may be daily consideration for you.
Worst DraftKings Values: A.J. Brown ($900 overpriced at $6,200), Stefon Diggs ($700 overpriced at $6,500), Van Jefferson ($500 overpriced at $4,200)
Worst FanDuel Values: A.J. Brown ($1,200 overpriced at $7,600), Stefon Diggs ($1,000 overpriced at $7,800), Mike Evans ($300 overpriced at $8,300)
Evans faces the scariest cornerback in Jalen Ramsey of the Rams. Ramsey allowed a meager 4.9 yards per target this season, which was fourth-lowest among qualifiers at his position and earned him his third All-Pro distinction. And while Evans has not struggled as much against the Rams as he has against Marshon Lattimore and the Saints the last two seasons, Evans saw Ramsey in coverage on just two of his 10 targets in Week 3 this season. I expect shadow coverage for Evans this Sunday without Chris Godwin and Antonio Brown to draw defensive attention. And so I wouldn't count on another eight catches and 106 yards for Evans this weekend.
|Best Week 20 Matchups - Tight Ends|
George Kittle had a quiet game with one catch and 18 yards on Sunday. But the Cowboys were the No. 1 pass defense and No. 4 pressure defense per Pro Football Reference. And Kittle can make as big of an impact as a blocker as he can as a receiver. It made sense that he spent more time at the line last week when the Cowboys entice their opponents to run the ball. The 49ers may have the same strategy this Saturday. The Packers rank 15th against the pass but just 28th against the run. But the Packers seem unlikely to falter offensively the way the Cowboys did last week. And with their tendency to build leads, the Packers cut opposing run plays by 15% per game, third-most in football. As such, I expect a bunch more targets for Kittle this weekend. And as a neutral opponent for tight end catch rate, yards per target, and touchdowns per target, the Packers stand out as a relative plus matchup to the defenses the other elite tight ends face this weekend.
Best DraftKings Values: C.J. Uzomah ($400 underpriced at $3,400), Anthony Firkser ($300 underpriced at $3,100), Tyler Higbee ($200 underpriced at $4,000)
Best FanDuel Values: Cameron Brate ($500 underpriced at $4,500), Marcedes Lewis ($300 underpriced at $4,200), Tyler Higbee ($200 underpriced at $5,400)
Tyler Higbee has yet to live up to the TE1 standard he flashed with 11, 14, 11, and 12 targets in his last four games in 2019. But he was undoubtedly unlucky to miss the top 12 at his position this season. Higbee finished fourth at his position with 6.4 expected touchdowns, just between Hunter Henry (6.8 expected) and Dawson Knox (6.3). But unlike those positional touchdown loaders, Higbee suffered a 1.4-touchdown shortfall. That total will almost certainly improve if Higbee continues to see two end zone targets every three games. And this week isn't as terrible a chance for that regression to start as one might expect. The Bucs rank 10th in pass defense DVOA, but they are neutral for tight end catch rate and yards per target. And they are by far the biggest cutter of run plays at 47% per game. The Rams may prefer to avoid smashing Cam Akers and Sony Michel into Vita Vea at the goal line, and Higbee would likely be a beneficiary of that decision.
|Worst Week 20 Matchups - Tight Ends|
I'm not sure it's fair to say that the Bills contained Travis Kelce in their Week 5 matchup. The star tight end caught six passes for 57 yards and a touchdown. And but for a Patrick Mahomes overthrow and an offensive pass interference penalty, Kelce would have more than doubled that yardage total. Still, every tight end has to fear a Bills defense that cuts catch rate and touchdown rate by 15% and 37% for the position. And if All-Pro cornerback Tre'Davious White's late-season ACL injury opens a door for any Chiefs receiver to play better in his encore, it seems likely to be wideout Tyreek Hill. Kelce doesn't lose his No. 1 ranking for the matchup. He never does. But his projected loss of 1.1 PPR points is nearly double that of any other player at his position.
Worst DraftKings Values: Rob Gronkowski ($800 overpriced at $5,800), Travis Kelce ($500 overpriced at $6,500), Dawson Knox ($200 overpriced at $4,900)
Worst FanDuel Values: Travis Kelce ($1,300 overpriced at $8,200), Rob Gronkowski ($900 overpriced at $7,100), Dawson Knox ($400 overpriced at $6,500)
Dawson Knox may have proved his matchup immunity with a pair of touchdowns in the bitter cold against a Patriots team ranked third in pass defense DVOA. But as just a 4% cutter of touchdowns per target to the position, the Patriots were relatively weak to tight ends on defense. And as a 7% cutter but No. 23 pass defense overall, the Chiefs may be relatively strong. In truth, I wouldn't fade the Chiefs matchup. But I still think Knox is overpriced at $4,900 and $6,500 in the daily formats. With his pair of touchdowns last week, Knox is up to a 3.9-touchdown surplus to his expected total of 7.1 touchdowns this season. That surplus is second-highest among all tight ends.