Friday Walkthrough

Walkthrough Week 14: Rhamondre StevenSZN

by Pat Kerrane
Updated On: December 9, 2022, 9:05 am ET

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Welcome to the Week 14 Walkthrough, outlining critical fantasy football context for this 12th, glorious week of football. 

At the end of this article, I've included an extensive list of the stats used, what they are, why they're useful, and where they came from. As a heads up, I use some terms interchangeably below: 

  • Routes per dropback = route rate = route % = route participation
  • Targets per route run = target rate

 

 

Byes: Falcons, Bears, Packers, Colts, Saints, Commanders

Already Played: Raiders, Rams

 

Jets at Bills, 1 PM Eastern, Sunday

Jets Implied Team Total: 16.5

Against the Vikings, Mike White wasn't nearly as effective as he'd been against the Bears in Week 12. But even though the Vikings don't have a great defense, that was to be expected. In his first start, White got an extremely vulnerable Bears pass defense. And frankly, he was so efficient in that game that he had no shot of maintaining his level of play. 

But White wasn't a disaster last week. He finished 21st in EPA per play and 25th in CPOE. By normal standards, you might consider that lousy quarterback play. However, White was more efficient than Zach Wilson in 4-of-7 starts this season and more efficient than Joe Flacco was in 2-of-3 starts. There's a low bar for acceptable quarterback play in New York, and White is still clearing it. We still have a small sample size on White this year, but he looks a bit like the Jets' version of Jared Goff or Derek Carr.

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Like with Goff and Carr, fantasy managers aren't generally reliant on White to point up fantasy points. Instead, we really only care whether White can support his No. 1 receiver. And White has been a resounding success in that regard.

Even as his quarterback's efficiency came back down to earth, Garrett Wilson continued to light it up. Wilson was targeted 14 times against the Vikings, seeing a 27% target share and a 50% air yard share. He posted an elite 0.75 WOPR, demonstrating that there is no doubt he is the clear top target in this passing game. To that point, all 14 of Wilson's targets came on first reads. The Jets are calling plays with him in mind, and he delivered with an elite 3.00 YPRR. And Wilson's elite efficiency could have been much, much better with one slightly more on target throw from White.

White now has an elite 2.06 YPRR and continues to lead the rookie class in ESPN's open score. With a route rate of 88%+ in six straight weeks, he's locked in as the top target in New York. The only question is if the Jets' offense can continue succeeding through the air.

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And White will face his toughest test against a Bills defense that ranks 10th in EPA allowed per dropback, 10th in coverage grade, and fourth in pass rush grade.

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But the Bills' defense was much more formidable to begin the season than it's been recently. So even though White could take another step back here, he shouldn't be a disaster—making Wilson a very strong bet. 

Wilson should also be helped by the fact the Jets are not trying to restrict passing volume quite as much with White under center. For just the fourth time all season, the Jets posted a positive PROE against the Vikings. And their 3% mark was their second highest of the year, behind only the 5% they posted with Flacco under center in Week 1. 

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Given their run-first philosophy, I expect the Jets to shift back to the run this week. But they should be more aggressive than in Week 9 against the Bills when they posted a -7% PROE and -7% PROE on 1st-and-10.

Corey Davis will likely operate as the secondary target this week. Davis has had 74% and 78% route rates since returning from injury, and he has a solid 1.61 YPRR. So he's a decent dart throw bet that the Jets are pushed to the air.

It's worth noting that Elijah Moore was up to 75% route participation last week, his highest since Week 5. He looks on track to be an important part of this offense again... at some point. However, he was targeted on only 13% of his routes, slightly above his 12% target rate this season—a very poor mark. Things are trending in the right direction, but Moore has a long way to go before being a trustworthy fantasy option again. 

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I'll also note that Tyler Conklin was down to 62% route participation against the Vikings, making him a difficult start. Conklin only has a 1.13 YPRR the season, so if he's not running all the routes, he will struggle to put up production.

In the backfield, Zonovan Knight finished second in RYOE / attempt in Week 13. Knight played only 55% of snaps and could fall below 50% if Michael Carter is back in the lineup and Ty Johnson continues getting playing time. Still, Knight likely showed enough to continue leading the way on early downs. He looks like a viable TD-dependent play.

Bills Implied Team Total: 26.5

Josh Allen ranks third in EPA per play this season but just 13th in CPOE. In other words, despite elite efficiency, his accuracy is a bit of a concern.

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However, Allen has two things going for him that aren't highlighted by the chart above. First, Allen is handling a ton of volume. Only Justin Herbert and Tom Brady have logged more plays this season. And Allen's elite efficiency is far more impressive when considering that he's able to deliver it on high-end volume. And second, Allen has been highly consistent; he leads the NFL in success rate.

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As you can see above, by EPA per game and success rate, Allen looks pretty clearly like the second-best quarterback this season, behind only Patrick Mahomes

But Allen now gets a Jets defense he struggled against in Week 9. In fact, Allen's last performance against the Jets was the only time this season that he has produced negative EPA per play.

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It makes sense why Allen wasn't at his best against New York. The Jets rank sixth in EPA allowed per dropback and seventh in dropback success rate. They are also a well-balanced defense, ranking second in PFF's coverage grades and third in pass rush grade. In particular, the Jets' pass rush could be an issue for the Bills, who rank just 29th in allowing quick pressures.

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But the Bills should be better prepared for the Jets this time around. Since they last played, the Bills have been experimenting with heavy personnel and a more balanced offensive approach. 

When the Bills played the Jets in Week 11, they were in 11 personnel (3WRs) for 74% of their offensive plays. That matched their season-long rate to that point. And through Week 10, the Bills were dedicated to operating as a pass-heavy 3WR set team. They posted a 5% PROE or higher in every game and called 75% of their plays from 11 personnel.

But in Week 11, the Bills switched things up against the Browns. They operated with a -5% PROE, delivering a surprisingly run-heavy game plan for a team so dedicated to the pass. And the Bills also changed their personnel packages. Their use of 11 personnel dropped to just 49%, and they operated out of 12 (2TEs) and 21 (2RBs) personnel on 14% and 29% of snaps. This allowed them to attack a terrible Browns run defense. 

To be clear, the Bills haven't fundamentally changed. The next week, they posted a 9% PROE against the Lions while operating out of 11 personnel on 88% of their plays. This made a ton of sense against a Lions defense that is very weak against the pass. But crucially, the Bills shifted back to power football against the Patriots last week. For the second time all season, they had a negative PROE (-3%), and their use of 11 personnel fell back down to 53%. 

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The Bills aren't quite the Eagles in terms of their ability to shift playing styles based on matchup. But their ability to deploy a more balanced identity should help keep defenses honest going forward. In that way, they can be seen as somewhat similar to the Dolphins, who, last week aside, have clearly benefited from a semi-threatening running game since trading for Jeff Wilson. If Allen has another down week against this strong Jets pass defense, the Bills can change things up and still maintain effectiveness.

And because this is the Bills, we can expect them to maintain focus on their primary advantage on offense. Even while going run first against the Patriots last week, they posted a 5% PROE on first down. This prioritization of the pass on 1st-and-10 is significant because it set Allen up for success, even in a run-first environment. So while the Bills passing game could be lower volume than we're used to, it should still be plenty efficient.

With that in mind, there's no reason to be overly concerned about Stefon Diggs this week. He went 5-for-93 on 10 targets in Week 9 and continues to be the engine of the Bills passing attack. With a 30% target share and a 38% air yard share, his 0.72 WOPR ranks behind only Davante Adams, DeAndre Hopkins, Tyreek Hill, Justin Jefferson, and CeeDee Lamb. He has a genuinely elite profile.

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Things have been shakier for Gabe Davis, who scored a TD against the Vikings and still totaled less than 10 PPR points. However, Davis is fully insulated from any personnel-related game plan adjustments the Bills might make here. He ran a route on 93% of dropbacks against the Browns and 89% against the Vikings. Even if the Bills shift to a more balanced, power personnel game plan, Davis will be on the field. In fact, Davis might benefit if the Bills move in that direction this week. In the Bills' two run-first games this season, Davis has totaled 14 targets. Fewer 3WR sets mean less target competition from wide receivers. He's been a frustrating boom/bust receiver this year, and it's been a while since we had a boom. But Davis's ceiling is unchanged this week.

Dawson Knox is also worth sticking with. He ran a route on 89% of dropbacks last week, and he could be a key chess piece for the Bills this week if they continue to utilize heavy personnel. Unfortunately, his 0.92 YPRR is... very bad. But Knox remains in play as a TD-or-bust bet.

The Bill may be experimenting with more balance because they actually have some explosiveness in the backfield. James Cook finished RB6 in RYOE / attempt in Week 11 and RB12 last week. Cook is also flashing in the passing game; his 2.15 YPRR is an elite mark, albeit on a small sample of just 70 routes. Still, he was drafted partly to add some juice to the passing game, and so far, he's doing just that. 

Cook's season-high snap share is just 43%... but he saw his most work of the season against the Vikings, and the rookie could continue to see his role grow. That's not to say that Devin Singletary hasn't played well this season. He ranks RB13 in success rate and offers some consistency that Cook isn't yet demonstrating. Both backs are in play as RB2 options. Singletary looks like the better bet for a TD, with Cook having the potential to rack up receptions if the Bills need to rely on the short game to avoid the Jets' pass rush.

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Browns at Bengals, 1 PM Eastern, Sunday

Browns Implied Team Total: 20.5

Deshaun Watson's first start for the Browns was nothing short of a disaster. He was bailed out by the Browns' defense and special teams units, which combined for three TDs. Watson managed to put the team in position for just two field goals, as the offense's only scoring drives of the day. Unsurprisingly, Watson was highly inefficient, finishing 27th in EPA per play and 29th in CPOE. The only quarterback less accurate than Watson last week... was Kyle Allen.

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And the Browns operated very similarly as an offense to when Jacoby Brissett was under center, posting a -17% PROE and a -13% PROE on 1st-and-10. They looked like a team trying to hide their quarterback.

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The Browns now get a Bengals defense that ranks just 26th in EPA allowed per rush and 22nd in rushing success rate. This is a well-timed matchup... assuming the Browns' defense can contain Joe Burrow, which they certainly did in Week 8.

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Nick Chubb was held to just 80 scoreless yards against the Texans last week, which is frankly embarrassing for a running back of his caliber. However, he'll have a chance for redemption against a below-average Bengals run defense. Chubb will need Watson to play far better than he did last week, but provided the passing game isn't a disaster, Chubb is fully capable of taking advantage of this matchup. He rushed for 101 yards and two TDs in Week 8, and his combination of tackle-breaking and breakaway ability is unmatched. 

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Although the passing game didn't get going against the Texans, it's clear where the Browns are looking to funnel targets. Amari Cooper saw a first-read target on 33% of his routes, with a 38% target rate and a 43% target share. Cooper has had a high-end target-earning profile all season. The big issue has been per-target efficiency. His 8.3 YPT is over a yard lower than expected for his 13.3 aDOT. I assumed better per-target efficiency would be a layup with Watson under center, but we might have to wait a few weeks for an efficiency boost to kick in. Still, Cooper's target profile remains borderline elite.

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With Watson struggling badly against a terrible Texans defense, it's hard to get excited about Donovan Peoples-Jones, who has mediocre per-route volume this season. David Njoku would be interesting if healthy, but Harrison Bryant has not shown the ability to replicate Njoku's pass-catching role.

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Bengals Implied Team Total: 26

Joe Burrow is coming off his second-most-efficient game of the season against the Chiefs. He finished third in EPA per play and sixth in CPOE in Week 13. That's an encouraging sign, considering that Burrow had his worst game of the season against the Browns' defense in Week 8.

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Despite that poor outing, Burrow is having an extremely impressive season, especially considering that the Bengals are leaning on him to drive their offense. Burrow ranks fifth in EPA per game, behind only Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, Tua Tagovailoa, and Jalen Hurts. He's also seventh in success rate.

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But we could see fewer dropbacks for Burrow this week than we're used to. The Browns rank 32nd in EPA allowed per rush, 27th in rushing success rate, and 30th in PFF's run grades. They are as easy a rushing matchup as it gets.

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When the Bengals played the Browns in Week 8, they went pass-heavy with a 12% PROE and an 11% PROE on 1st-and-10. This obviously didn't work very well. And the following week, the Bengals pivoted to the run against the Panthers with a -2% PROE. They've since gotten back to their pass-happy ways, but it would make a lot of sense for them to go more run-heavy this week, particularly with the Browns likely running the ball on the other side. I don't expect the Bengals to get carried away, but they'll likely be more balanced than they've been in recent weeks.

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The Bengals should be more comfortable with a balanced approach now that Joe Mixon will be back in the lineup. Samaje Perine has been impressive in Mixon's absence, but Mixon should see a snap share in the mid-60% range and could be in the low 70% range, which is where he's been for much of the season.

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Interestingly, Perine has been a more impressive rusher than Mixon, ranking 11th in success rate in 26th in RYOE / attempt. Perine offers nothing as a breakaway runner but can reliably churn out yards in the mold of Devin Singletary or Alexander Mattison

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Mixon theoretically offers more breakaway ability, but he hasn't flashed that this season ranking just 32nd in breakaway yards per game. And Mixon ranks 25th in success rate and 30th in RYOE / attempt. Given what Perine has shown, the Bengals may increase his snaps if Mixon is struggling. Although, Mixon will almost certainly be able to get going against this run defense. 

And critically, Mixon has been heavily involved and efficient in the receiving game, insulating him from any small snap share increase that Perine might see.

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Even if the Bengals aren't pass-heavy this week, Ja'Marr Chase looks very trustworthy. Chase appeared close to full health against the Chiefs, running a route on 92% of dropbacks and leading the team with a 27% target share and a 29% air yard share. In addition, he posted an elite 2.94 YPRR, which is higher than his season average. He's a locked-in WR1.

Tee Higgins matched Chase with six first-read targets and should continue to be a huge part of the offense... assuming he's healthy. Higgins popped up on the injury report on Thursday with a hamstring injury, which could impact his status for Sunday. Assuming reports are positive, he's a locked-in WR2. Even if his upside to dominate targets is lower now that Chase is back in the lineup, he will benefit from Chase drawing double coverage at the highest rate in the league.

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With Hayden Hurst out of the lineup, Mitchell Wilcox will operate as the starting tight end. However, Wilcox has just a 0.56 YPRR this season and is off the fantasy radar. That leaves Tyler Boyd as the No. 3 fantasy pass catcher. He could see more work over the middle of the field with Hurst out. However, Boyd's per-route opportunity has been very uninspiring this season, and this isn't an ideal matchup to dial up ancillary receivers. He'll only be an enticing start if Higgins misses the game.

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Texans at Cowboys, 1 PM Eastern, Sunday

Texans Implied Team Total: 17

Davis Mills is returning to the starting lineup this week, which makes sense. Because while Mills has been bad, Allen has been horrendously, chart-skewingly bad.

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But it doesn't really matter who the Texans decided to put out there this week. With an offensive line that ranks 29th in PFF's pass blocking grades and 30th in quick pressure rate allowed... they have no shot of protecting Mills against this Dallas pass rush.

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The Texans' only real shot at offense is to attack a Cowboys run defense that ranks 19th in EPA allowed per rush. But that plan doesn't work as well now that the Cowboys' offense is putting up points at will. And the Texans are as poorly positioned as any team in the league to shut down the Cowboys on offense. They are a lock to be in negative game script.

Dameon Pierce has run well this season, and his tackle-breaking gives him some upside for a big play or two. But Pierce isn't a huge piece of the passing game, which could limit his snaps once things get out of hand.

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And it's hard to see how the Texans will be able to move the ball downfield with both Brandin Cooks, and Nico Collins set to miss this game. Phillip Dorsett and Chris Moore are now in line to operate as the Texans' top two receivers, which is the toughest of scenes.

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Any given Sunday and all that... but this game should probably be called off. 

Cowboys Implied Team Total: 31

For much of the season, the Cowboys' defense has been the story of their team. And after embarrassing the Colts on national television, it's hard to argue that they don't have the best pass defense in the league. However, the Cowboys' offense now looks like a worthy counterpart to their elite defense. Even with Cooper Rush playing in six games this season, they are up to seventh in EPA per play.

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In the chart above, the Cowboys look like a balanced offense in the mold of the Browns. But that dramatically understates the advantage that Dak Prescott is providing as a passer. Prescott has only played six complete games this season, but he has been spectacular in his small sample. He ranks fourth in EPA per play, fifth in success rate, sixth in EPA per game, and 10th in CPOE. His level of play has been very similar to Joe Burrow's, which is an almost unfair advantage for a team with an elite pass defense.

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But although the Cowboys' offensive success is more driven by the passing game than their season-long numbers suggest, their play-calling has been built around the running game. Prescott returned to action in Week 7, but the Cowboys have yet to post a positive PROE all season and are coming off back-to-back games with a -11% PROE.

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This is something to remember when the Cowboys eventually face an offense strong enough to punish them for being overly conservative. However... this is not that week. The main takeaway from their play-calling for this week's purposes is that we can count on them to take advantage of a Texans run defense that ranks 29th in PFF's run defense grades.

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The Cowboys are well positioned to take advantage of this matchup, with two running backs averaging a combined 31 carries per game since Ezekiel Elliott returned to the lineup. Elliott has been far less explosive than Tony Pollard. Still, the fantasy community's frustration with Zeke's playing time has more to do with how good Pollard is than with Elliott being completely washed. Ranking RB15 in success rate, Elliott still has a little left in the tank as a reliable between-the-tackles runner. He should have no trouble generating chunk gains against a defense that ranks 25th in rushing success rate allowed. He also has solid TD equity, with the Cowboys certain to be salting this game away at some point.

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But Tony Pollard is the far more exciting option. He ranks RB2 in breakaway yards per game, RB2 in RYOE / attempt, RB7 in YPRR, and RB1 in fantasy points over expected. There isn't a big play efficiency metric that Pollard isn't popping in. But he's coming off just a 41% snap share against the Colts. If Elliott wasn't around, Pollard would be a locked-in elite play. As is, he's an upside RB2.

Although Dallas won't need to pass much this week, they should be plenty effective when they do. And CeeDee Lamb is dominating targets to such a degree that he can be trusted as a high-end WR1, even with limited routes likely on tap. Lamb is seeing a target on 28% of his routes, an elite mark. And Lamb moves around the formation and sees valuable over-the-middle targets. This helps explain how his elite 2.49 YPRR is perfectly supported by his target volume.

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Since the Cowboys' Week 9 bye, Michael Gallup is averaging 6.5 targets per game. He is very clearly the No. 2 wide receiver in the offense at this point. In case you're not convinced—Noah Brown is averaging just 1.75 targets per game over that period. This isn't an ideal week to fire up Gallup, as the Cowboys are likely to lean on the run. But Gallup's profile has a lot more meat left on the bone. His 6.2 YPT is over three yards lower than expected for his 12.3 aDOT. With Prescott playing well, Gallup will regress positively on his targets at some point. His expected YPRR is more valuable than Dalton Schultz's, giving Gallup more upside than it might seem.

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Vikings at Lions, 1 PM Eastern, Sunday

Vikings Implied Team Total: 24.75

The Vikings have been a pass-first team this season, with a 3% PROE, eighth highest in the league. But the Vikings haven't always been dictating the pass like the Chiefs, Bills, Bengals, or Dolphins often are. Instead, they're sometimes pass-first in the mold of the Buccaneers and Chargers. In other words, they've sometimes been passing because the game script is tilted toward the pass.

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But their recent performances hint that the Vikings could be open to playing more aggressively in a good passing matchup. Two weeks ago, the Vikings faced a strong Patriots pass defense. They went pass-heavy anyway. Then last week, they got an elite Jets secondary. But they maintained balance, with a 0% PROE and a 1% PROE on 1st-and-10.

If the Vikings are looking to open up the passing game in a good matchup, they definitely get that here. The Lions rank 30th in EPA allowed per dropback, 29th in coverage grade, in 28th in pass rush grade. 

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Of course, the Lions are also terrible against the run, ranking 30th in EPA allowed per rush and 30th in rushing success rate. This explains why the Vikings had a -1% PROE the first time they played the Lions. You only have to pass against the Lions if you want to.

But the Lions' offense is showing quite a bit more life recently than early in the season, which could force the Vikings to the air even if they prove me wrong and roll out a run-first game plan. As a result, Vikings pass catchers have a couple outs for a high-volume passing day.

The Vikings' passing game should also be more efficient than usual. Kirk Cousins hasn't been terrible this season, but he hasn't been great, either. He ranks 22nd in EPA per play and 16th in CPOE. He certainly doesn't profile as a great fantasy option but looks capable of elevating his receivers in a great matchup.

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Cousins has the enormous benefit of throwing to Justin Jefferson, who is as good as it gets. Jefferson has an ultra-elite 2.64 YPRR, which is above expected for his target volume this season. And he's achieving that despite seeing double coverage on 31% of his routes, a 98th percentile rate. And despite overperforming his target volume, Jefferson is earning targets like the elite wide receiver that he is. With a 29% target share and a 43% air yard share, Jefferson's 0.74 WOPR is also 98th percentile.

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While Jefferson can smash regardless of setting, T.J. Hockenson could really use an efficiency boost. Since arriving in Minnesota, Hockenson has a 1.28 YPRR, down significantly from the 1.87 YPRR he posted with the Lions. Interestingly, Hockenson's underlying target volume has been very similar with both teams. However, with the Vikings, he's considerably underperforming in YPT, which is the type of thing we can expect to spike in a good matchup.

Adam Thielen's expected YPRR isn't far off Hockenson's, but Hockenson's tight end eligibility makes him the much more interesting secondary receiving option this week.

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But Vikings pass catchers aren't the only ones who can benefit from increased efficiency against the Lions. Dalvin Cook is also set up for an efficient day on the ground. Cook ranks RB12 in breakaway yards per game and RB15 in elusive rating, showing some of his signature breakaway and tackle-breaking ability. However, Cook has definitely underperformed this season. He ranks just RB33 in RYOE / attempt and RB43 in success rate. This matchup should help him improve on those concerningly low ranks.

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But Cook's path to fantasy value is fragile this week. He only has a 9% target share and isn't performing well in the passing game, with a 0.56 YPRR that ranks RB39. If the Vikings lean into the pass, or the Lions are putting up points against them, game script could get away from Cook here. Still, if the Vikings control the game with a balanced attack, Cook has an elite ceiling. He looks like a low-end RB1.

Lions Implied Team Total: 26.75

I've been complimentary of the Lions coaching staff in previous Walkthroughs because they've built an offense that sets Jared Goff up for success while also effectively hiding him. But something interesting has happened over the last two weeks. The Lions are still setting Goff up for success with a high pass rate on 1st-and-10... but they haven't been hiding their quarterback.

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The Lions posted a 1% PROE against the Bills, showing a surprising willingness to play Josh Allen on his terms... and it almost worked. They then rolled out a game plan against the Jaguars that wouldn't have been out of place in Kansas City, with a 12% PROE and a 15% PROE on 1st-and-10. The Jaguars are absolutely terrible against the pass, so this game plan was likely specifically tailored to last week's opponent. However, only a few teams have this gear at all. The Lions are now one of just eight teams to hit a 12%+ PROE this season—the others being the Chiefs, Bills, Bengals, Buccaneers, Seahawks, Dolphins, and Chargers. Ya know... the teams who actually pass the ball this year. The Lions are unlikely to repeat last week's fireworks, but it's intriguing they have that level of commitment to the pass in their arsenal.

Because while the Vikings aren't a Jaguars-level pass defense, they aren't great against opposing quarterbacks. The Vikings rank 15th in EPA allowed per dropback and 23rd in dropback success rate. And while they have a decent pass rush, they don't generate quick pressures very well, which should help keep Jared Goff upright.

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Goff's play this season has been impressive, ranking ninth in EPA per play. But there are a couple reasons to think that Goff is playing a little over his head. Goff ranks just 13th in success rate, and his accuracy has been concerningly bad; he ranks just 28th in CPOE. 

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However, this is why I harp on the Lions' first-down passing rate. Goff playing more efficiently than his accuracy would suggest is precisely what we would expect for a quarterback whose team prioritizes the pass in neutral situations when the defense has to respect the run. Of course, there are other paths to higher-than-expected efficiency. Derek Carr and Jimmy Garoppolo are achieving a similar effect by captaining offenses committed to the run in neutral situations but effective enough on the ground to keep defenses honest when they drop back. But the Lions have the benefit of keeping defenses honest without fully committing to the run... which we love to see. Goff's efficiency could regress somewhat, but he should be solid against a mediocre Vikings defense this week.

With Goff playing well and the Lions' offense willing to pass the ball more, Amon-Ra St. Brown has been a fantasy force over the last two weeks. He's averaging 10 receptions for 118 yards and 1.5 TDs on 11 targets... not bad. St. Brown should cool off a bit here, but his underlying profile has been extremely impressive all season. And his recent run of form is generally supported by his underlying numbers. If the Lions continue playing aggressively, he could turn in another spike week.

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But even if this isn't a high-volume passing game for the Lions, D.J. Chark could have a big day. Chark ran a route on 95% of dropbacks against the Jaguars and leads the Lions with an 80% route rate this season. Chark is also generating target volume when on the field. His 15% target share isn't anything special, but his 36% air yard share is. With an 18.6 aDOT—which is an insanely deep aDOT—Chark is set up to be a very boom/bust player. Unfortunately, we've seen mostly bust so far. His 7.1 YPT is nearly four yards lower than expected for his aDOT. Jared Goff's deep threat is never a great bet for high-end efficiency, but we've seen T.J. Hockenson get loose downfield this year, and Chark is certainly capable of some big plays of his own. 

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D'Andre Swift took control of the Lions' backfield against the Jaguars... but just barely. Swift played 51% of snaps, tied for his third-highest snap share this season. But he still needs more playing time to be a reliable fantasy option. Fortunately, that seems realistic. Justin Jackson played on 21% of snaps, providing additional room for Swift's role to grow. It shouldn't be a surprise if Swift is in the low 60% range this week. However, Jamaal Williams only saw a 30% snap share against the Jaguars, and the TD king isn't about to be phased out of the offense. His role could easily return to 40%+ with a more balanced game plan. So although Swift has upside for additional snaps, it shouldn't be a surprise if he sees around 40% of snaps instead. Swift's role last week was definitely nice to see, but both Lions' backs look TD-dependent this week.

 

Eagles at Giants, 1 PM Eastern, Sunday

Eagles Implied Team Total: 25.75

Last week, I highlighted that the Eagles were facing a Titans defense that made a pass-heavy game plan extremely logical. I was confident we could count on the Eagles to attack the matchup, and they came through in a big way. Against the Titans, the Eagles posted an 8% PROE and a 21% PROE on 1st-and-10. The Eagles have had a slight lean to the run this season, but they traded places with the Bills last week.

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Their game against the Titans was a lot of fun and a strong signal that the Eagles are willing and able to dramatically shift their offensive approach to suit the matchup. But this week's matchup isn't as clear-cut as last week's was. The Giants aren't great at defending the pass, but they also struggle against the run. They rank 24th in both EPA allowed per dropback and EPA allowed per rush.

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Of course, regardless of how the Eagles attack, Jalen Hurts will be an elite fantasy quarterback. Two weeks ago, he ran for 157 yards. Last week, he passed for 380. Game script is not a concern.

Hurts is having an incredibly impressive real-life season as well. He ranks fifth in EPA per play and third in CPOE. He's profiling as an elite NFL quarterback, not just a game-breaking fantasy dual threat.

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One of the nice things about the Eagles' offense is that with Dallas Goedert out of the lineup, it is highly concentrated. Over the last three weeks, A.J. Brown has a 27% target share in a 33% air yard share... and that actually trails DeVonta Smith, who has a 30% target share and a 39% air yard share. Both players are locked-in fantasy starters.

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Last week was a disappointing game for Miles Sanders. He saved his day with a late TD... but that play only occurred because the Titans lined up in the neutral zone on a short field goal attempt. Sanders had just 10 carries and was not a key part of the offensive game plan. But that was to be expected against a strong Titans run defense. He should be a much bigger piece of the offense this week. 

Sanders' outlook is definitely fragile. In three of his last four games, he's totaled just 23 PPR points. With just a 6% target share and a 0.37 YPRR, he's a complete afterthought in the passing game. He provides zero floor when things don't go his way in terms of game script.

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However, when things do go Sanders' way, he has shown a very high ceiling. Sanders ranks 10th in success rate and 18th in RYOE / attempt. He's running well this season, and defenses can't fully account for him because they also have to deal with Hurts' rushing ability. As a result, he's been able to top 29 PPR points in two games this season, including just two weeks ago. This could ultimately be a somewhat balanced game plan for the Eagles, making Sanders a high-end RB2.

Giants Implied Team Total: 18.75

The Giants have been a run-first team this season, but if they had another gear to their offense, last week would have been the time to show it. Instead, the Giants leaned heavily into the run with a -7% PROE and a -10% PROE on 1st-and-10... against a Commanders run defense that is one of the best in the league. 

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In fairness to Brian Daboll, the Commanders are also strong against the pass, so perhaps last week's game plan was the best he could do with Daniel Jones at quarterback. However, last week is still a strong indication that we can count on the Giants to pound the rock. And this week, they get an Eagles defense that has been a run funnel.

Teams are averaging a -4% PROE against the Eagles and are shifting 2% to the run. They are having a similar effect on opposing offenses as the Packers. This isn't surprising, considering that the Eagles rank second in EPA allowed per dropback but just 27th in EPA allowed per rush.

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But the Giants will have to contend with the version of the Eagles' defense that has a healthy Jordan Davis. Davis was back in the lineup against the Titans, and his presence certainly seemed to help. Despite playing the Derrick Henry-led Titans, the Eagles were the most efficient run defense of Week 13. 

But Davis can only do so much. Even with the defensive tackle in the lineup from Weeks 1-8, the Eagles ranked 31st in EPA allowed per rush. So the Giants should be able to move the ball more efficiently on the ground than the Titans did.

But whether the Giants produce an efficient rushing day will likely come down to just a few plays. Saquon Barkley ranks just RB34 in success rate and RB37 in elusive rating. He's not breaking tackles well and is not consistently delivering positive gains. However, Barkley ranks RB3 in breakaway yards per game. He's still an elite big-play threat. I can't tell you if Barkley will pop a long run this week, but he definitely still has the ability to.

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And Barkley's 16% target share (RB5) and 82% snap share (RB1) will keep him involved regardless of game script. He's a solid RB1 play this week.

If the Eagles are aggressive about putting the Giants away this week, we could see Daniel Jones passing much more than the Giants would prefer against a high-end pass defense. That's not likely to go great.

Jones ranks 17th in EPA per play, so it's not like he's been horrible. But his role in his offense isn't dissimilar from Ryan Tannehill's. Tannehill ranks 11th in EPA per play, but, like Jones, his team is refusing to lean on him. Still, Jones is producing solid efficiency with decent accuracy this season. If the Giants can get the running game going, he should be able to support at least one receiver. 

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And the Giants increasingly look to have a true No. 1 receiving option in Darius Slayton. Slayton is producing an elite 2.19 YPRR, which is mostly backed up by his target volume. He's definitely running hot with an 11.1 YPT, so not all of what Slayton is doing is sustainable. But his overall profile looks very encouraging. Slayton has had to deal with extra defensive attention this season, seeing double coverage on 24% of his routes. Still, he is getting open, ranking 93rd percentile in ESPN's open score. And the Giants have been calling plays with him in mind; Slayton has a first-read target on 19% of his routes, which ranks 83rd percentile. I wouldn't go so far as to call him trustworthy in this matchup, but he's definitely FLEX-viable.

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Those desperate at tight end should also keep an eye on Daniel Bellinger. The rookie logged 83% route participation in his return from injury. His mediocre 15% target rate was in line with his season average. But he had an elite route rate for a tight end, which is impressive considering it was his first game back in the lineup. 

 

Ravens at Steelers, 1 PM Eastern, Sunday

Ravens Implied Team Total: 17.25

With Lamar Jackson suffering a PCL injury, Tyler Huntley is set to take over at quarterback for the Ravens. Huntley has a similar skill set to Jackson and hasn't been horrible for a backup quarterback, ranking 29th in EPA per play over the last two seasons. But that's still a significant downgrade from Jackson, who ranks 17th. Moreover, the gap between the two quarterbacks grows when looking at success rate and EPA per game. Jackson ranks 12th in success rate over the last two years, with Huntley at 30th. Jackson's consistency helps keep the Ravens' offense on track; they could struggle to sustain drives without him. Jackson also allows the Ravens to do more on offense through the passing game. He ranks 14th in EPA per game, with Huntley at 29th.

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Fortunately, the Ravens are facing a Steelers pass defense that is far from imposing. They rank just 22nd in EPA allowed per dropback. They're also only 20th in EPA allowed per rush and should allow the Ravens to successfully deploy a balanced attack.

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And even with Lamar Jackson out, the Ravens appear likely to keep things balanced. In Huntley's five games with 15+ attempts in 2021, the Ravens had a -3% PROE. This is generally in line with what they've shown this season; they have a -1% PROE. Baltimore can be counted on to lean on the run when possible, but with a 5% PROE on 1st-and-10 this year, they should also be smart in setting up Huntley for success in neutral situations. He should be an effective quarterback streaming option.

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And even with Huntley under center, there are no concerns for Mark Andrews in this matchup. If you do have concerns... keep in mind that Andrews leads all tight ends in ESPN's open score and operates downfield with an 11.0 aDOT. Although the Ravens don't really have any other receiving options, that's not why Andrews has been getting fed targets. Sure, it's helped a bit. But fundamentally, Andrews is a downfield receiver who gets open at a very high rate. That won't change with a different quarterback under center.

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Although the Ravens are likely to shift at least somewhat to the run this week, this backfield is a true head-scratcher. After Gus Edwards handled 50% of snaps in Week 12, Kenyan Drake led the way with a 47% snap share last week. Edwards saw just 24% of snaps, which tied Justice Hill. Huntley seem like the best way to bet on Ravens rushing equity for now.

Steelers Implied Team Total: 19.25

If you've been hoping that Kenny Pickett would emerge as a viable fantasy option, this is one of the matchups you have circled. The Ravens aren't terrible against the pass, but they're definitely vulnerable, ranking 16th in EPA allowed per dropback and 22nd in dropback success rate. 

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And the Ravens are far better against the run than the pass, ranking fifth in EPA allowed per rush. This dynamic has made the Ravens a slight pass funnel. A few weeks ago, this matchup offered the potential for Kenny Pickett to be chasing points against Lamar Jackson, who would've been set up well against a weak Steelers pass defense. However, the Steelers are far less likely to be forced to the air now that Tyler Huntley will be quarterbacking the opposition. As a result, it matters far more how the Steelers would prefer to attack this matchup. And the Steelers have been quite clear since their Week 9 bye that they want to run the ball. Over that span, they have a -4% PROE and have been run-heavy in 3-of-4 games. 

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This approach has produced good results for the Steelers, who are 3-1 since their bye. So while they may be balanced rather than run first of this week, they are unlikely to lean into this plus passing matchup.

But while the Steelers aren't putting a ton on Pickett's plate right now, the rookie has definitely improved over the last four weeks; Pickett ranks 17th in EPA per play and 18th in CPOE. Before Week 10, Pickett was highly accurate, ranking fourth in CPOE, but his efficiency was a borderline disaster; he ranked just 37th in EPA per play. Even with his accuracy falling off somewhat, he looks far more reliable than he did to start the season. Over the course of the full season, he now looks like a slightly better version of Mac Jones.

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But if the Steelers aren't going to run their offense through Pickett, he will have trouble supporting fantasy wide receivers. Pickett has shown zero connection with Diontae Johnson, who continues to be absurdly inefficient on a per-target basis. He currently sits at a 5.4 YPT, which ranks 8th percentile. Johnson is getting open, ranking 96th percentile in ESPN's open score. But I'm not interested in betting on the volume-dependent receiver until I feel more confident we can count on passing volume in this offense.

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George Picken's 14.9 aDOT makes passing volume far less critical. He can make his day with a single contested catch, his signature move. Unfortunately, contested catches are Pickens' thing partly because he can't get open. The rookie is in just the 17th percentile in open score, which helps explain his poor 1.18 YPRR. Despite Johnson's extreme underperformance, Pickens has been even less efficient on his routes.

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With both Steelers wide receivers struggling, Pat Freiermuth remains the best option in this passing game. He is tied with Diontae Johnson for the team lead in first-read target rate and leads the Steelers with a 1.93 expected YPRR. Unlike Johnson, he's doing something with his targets and leads the team with a 1.88 YPRR. His efficiency isn't quite to an elite level for a tight end... but when looking at his overall profile, you start to wonder if Freiermuth is emerging as an elite option.

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Najee Harris was back in the lineup against the Falcons and saw 66% of snaps, which matches his snap share for the season. After being an absolute workhorse last year, Harris is down to RB12 in snap share. It's not hard to understand why the Steelers have scaled back his workload, given that he ranks ahead of only Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Cam Akers, and Melvin Gordon in RYOE / attempt. He's producing the type of efficiency that gets running backs phased out of an offense... or cut. The fact that he's still operating as a clear lead back is as good an outcome as one can hope for. 

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In a bad rushing matchup, Harris' only real path to value is to get in the end zone. He ranks RB34 in breakaway yards per game, so long plays look like a very thin bet. And he also ranks just RB34 in YPRR, so big plays in the receiving game are unlikely. With a 9% target share, Harris should be involved if the Steelers dropback more than expected. But he'll be involved mainly in a PPR accumulator type of way. With a sub-elite snap share, that is far from an ideal path to value. He profiles as a TD-dependent RB2.

 

Jaguars at Titans, 1 PM Eastern, Sunday

Jaguars Implied Team Total: 18.5

Trevor Lawrence is coming off a very disappointing game where he was held to just 179 passing yards and 5.8 YPA. And Lawrence's day was especially disappointing considering that he was playing a Lions defense that is not strong against the pass. Lawrence's poor day was driven in part by inaccuracy. He finished 26th in CPOE, ahead of only Matt Ryan, Tua Tagovailoa, Deshaun Watson, and Kyle Allen. I've noted in the past that Lawrence's accuracy has been inconsistent this year. It was a bad time for him to miss throws... but like Tagovailoa and Watson, we can expect him to bounce back. 

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And interestingly, Lawrence's week doesn't look all that bad by EPA per play, ranking 16th in Week 13. That's not great by any means, but certainly better than I expected from his raw stats. This could be related to the fact that the Jaguars don't always set up Lawrence for success. Or, at least, they aren't maximizing his chance of success. The Jaguars rank just 16th in situation-neutral pass rate. And although the Jaguars rank 10th in PROE, they have been run first on first down, ranking 19th in PROE on 1st-and-10.

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This trend is slightly concerning entering a matchup with the Titans. The Titans are the second-biggest pass funnel in the league behind the Cardinals. But their status as a pass funnel has as much to do with their elite run defense as with their pass defense, which is more mediocre than terrible.

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When teams face Tennessee, we want to have confidence that they'll be willing to abandon the run and relentlessly attack the Titans where they are most vulnerable. This played huge dividends for Philadelphia last week. With that in mind, it's encouraging to see that in Week 9 the Jaguars shifted heavily to the pass against the Raiders—another matchup that calls for aggressive game plans. 

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The Jaguars definitely look overly conservative on first down, and there's some real risk that they throw away good neutral-situation passing opportunities by running into the teeth of this Titans defense. But they're unlikely to ignore this pass funnel matchup entirely. Lawrence might not be at his most efficient, but he's set up for a solid bounce-back game.

And even after last week's dud, Lawrence is still having a strong season. He ranks 13th in EPA per play and 14th in CPOE. And the Jaguars are asking more from him than many teams are asking of quarterbacks with similar efficiency. As a result, Lawrence ranks 10th in EPA per game. His efficiency per play might not stand out from the pack, but he's handling more dropbacks than similarly efficient quarterbacks like Ryan Tannehill and Andy Dalton

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And, as you can see above, Lawrence really stands out when looking at success rate. Only five quarterbacks are producing positive EPA on a higher percentage of their plays: Josh Allen, Patrick Mahomes, Geno Smith, Tua Tagovailoa, and Dak Prescott. Joe Burrow ranks just behind Lawrence at seventh and is the only other quarterback with a success rate over 50%. That's a pretty good group to be a part of.

Lawrence is frustrating to bet on because of his inconsistent accuracy and penchant for big mistakes. But his success rate points to a high ceiling for this offense in games when he's on target and avoiding major errors.

Last week was a very disappointing game for Zay Jones, who had two receptions for 16 yards. And it was a solid week for Christian Kirk, who had six receptions for 104 yards. But... there was very little separating the two in terms of target opportunity. Both receivers had 85% route participation, and each saw five first-read targets. Kirk saw seven overall targets to Jones' six and had a slightly deeper aDOT (9.1 to 7.3). As a result, Kirk's opportunity was stronger, but not significantly. Instead, his big fantasy day resulted from a 14.9 YPT, while Jones was at just 2.7. That type of per-target efficiency gap... is what we call noise.

And Kirk's and Jones' roles weren't just similar last week; they've been in the same ballpark all season. In terms of expected YPRR, the two look remarkably similar.

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They are also getting open at a similar rate per ESPN's open score. So while Kirk's 1.90 YPRR is meaningfully higher than Jones' 1.46, they look like similar bets for production this week.

As you can see above, Evan Engram is also underperforming his expected volume. His 6.5 YPT is over a yard lower than expected for his 7.5 aDOT. He could benefit from positive regression if Lawrence can get going this week. With 80% route participation this season, he remains a viable TD-dependent tight end starter.

Travis Etienne was the biggest fantasy disappointment against the Lions. But thankfully, his health did not appear to be an issue. Etienne played on 88% of snaps, his highest snap share of the season. Unfortunately, he ran very poorly, producing 12 fewer yards than expected. And he was only expected to produce 66 rushing yards in a game where the Jaguars were forced into a pure comeback script. Etienne isn't a total afterthought in the passing game, but that's not what drives his fantasy success. With a 0.96 YPRR, he ranks RB21. He's been more effective as a rusher, ranking RB5 in RYOE / attempt and RB9 in success rate.

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This matchup sets up poorly for him, given that the Jaguars are most likely to have success on offense if they shift to a firmly pass-first game plan. Still, he ranks RB7 in breakaway yards per game and can make his day with a long run or two. Expectations should definitely be downgraded here, but he profiles as a high-end RB2.

Titans Implied Team Total: 22.

The Titans are facing a Jaguars defense that is extremely vulnerable to the pass... yet they are in very poor position to actually take advantage of this matchup. With Treylon Burks suffering a concussion on the Titans' second drive of Week 13, their other wide receivers left them hanging. Robert Woods and Nick Westbrook-Ikhine combined for just 10 receiving yards. With Burks unlikely to clear the concussion protocol in time for this game, the Titans could struggle to take full advantage of a Jaguars defense that ranks 28th in EPA allowed per dropback.

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But the Jaguars' defense really is terrible against the pass. They've somehow had one of the easiest schedules of opposing passing games, which underlines their inability to stop opposing quarterbacks. Given that Ryan Tannehill has played well this season, there should be at least some value in this passing game.

Tannehill isn't delivering the elite efficiency he managed in 2020, but he ranks a respectable 11th in EPA per play and 12th in CPOE. He's actually remarkably similar to Trevor Lawrence in both metrics, although the Titans are less inclined to pass the ball than the Jaguars.

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But the Titans haven't been quite as run-heavy this year as we're used to. Excluding their two games with Malik Willis under center, they have a -5% PROE and a -10% PROE on 1st-and-10. So... they're definitely run-heavy. But they're more in the mold of the Giants, Cowboys, and Browns than the Bears or Falcons.

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With that in mind, it's worth thinking through Chig Okonkwo as a punt play option. He ran a route on 57% of dropbacks, which was a season-high for the rookie. He's admittedly a thin bet at that level of route participation, but there's a chance he sees additional playing time if Burks can't go. And given his role in the offense, Okonkwo can deliver fantasy value on fewer routes than most tight ends. He has an elite 25% target rate and has seen a first-read target on 17% of his routes, which trails only Burks. Admittedly, Okonkwo is probably a few games away from fantasy relevance, and his per-route numbers are undoubtedly inflated because he's only run 100 routes. Still, he should be on your radar.

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The more reliable way to bet on the Titans' passing game is to bet on an efficient chain-moving attack to set up Derrick Henry for a big game against a middling run defense. Henry's efficiency hasn't been great this season, but he ranks RB8 in breakaway yards per game and is still flashing big-play ability. Even better, Henry is continuing to see work in the passing game. With a 10% target share, Henry could get a piece of the passing game action if the Titans are aggressive. His 2.25 YPRR leads all running backs. He's a locked-in RB1.

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Chiefs at Broncos, 4:05 Eastern, Sunday

Chiefs Implied Team Total: 26.75

The Chiefs are coming off a disappointing loss to the Bengals, but it's hard to blame Patrick Mahomes. Mahomes ranked fourth in EPA per play in Week 13, behind only Jalen Hurts, Jared Goff, and Joe Burrow. He also ranked 10th in CPOE.

Mahomes wasn't as productive as usual, mainly because he wasn't dropping back as frequently as usual. His 31 dropbacks were his lowest of the season and well below half of the ridiculous 78 dropbacks he had against the Titans in Week 9. Likewise, his 27 passing attempts were also a season-low.

But it's tough to blame Andy Reid for shifting away from the pass against the Bengals. The Chiefs ranked third in rushing efficiency in Week 13 and were actually more efficient on the ground than through the air. And Reid didn't get carried away with a run-heavy game plan. Even with the run game cooking and against a Bengals run defense that ranks 26th in EPA per play, the Chiefs were still balanced with a -1% PROE. Last week's loss was disappointing, but my takeaway for this week is that Mahomes shouldn't have any trouble producing efficiently against a difficult Broncos pass defense.

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The Broncos rank third in EPA allowed per dropback and first in dropback success rate. But they've had an easy schedule this season and look more like a very good pass defense than a truly elite one. Against Mahomes, they could look average.

Mahomes ranks second in EPA per play this year using Ben Baldwin's adjusted EPA (which is what I typically reference). But in the unadjusted version, he now ranks first after Tua Tagovailoa's down game against the 49ers. And regardless of which EPA per play measure you use... Mahomes' season has been far more impressive than Tagovailoa's. Unlike the Dolphins quarterback, Mahomes is pairing elite efficiency with high-end volume. That combination is what makes him so special and is why he leads the NFL in EPA per game.

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Mahomes has also been highly consistent this season. He is second to only Josh Allen in success rate. So to say that the Broncos' defense might look average against Mahomes isn't a knock on Denver. It's a way of conveying just how much better Mahomes is playing than the quarterbacks they've faced this year.

Although the Chiefs went away from a pass-heavy game plan last week, that was likely a one-off. The Broncos' defense isn't bad enough against the run for them to take the ball out of Mahomes' hands this week. The Chiefs lead the NFL in pass rate over expected and are passing from a position of strength rather than simply as a result of game script. If they operated in line with game script expectations, the Chiefs would have a pass rate similar to the 49ers, Ravens, and Browns.

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The Chiefs are very unlikely to be pushed by a reeling Broncos offense. But even still, they should be able to top last week's 31 dropbacks. After all, this team called 42 dropbacks for Mahomes against Bryce Perkins.

With more passing volume on the way, we can expect big things for Travis Kelce. Kelce leads the Chiefs in target rate (24%), target share (25%), and first-read target rate (18%). He has to deal with excessive defensive attention; only Darren Waller has seen a higher double-coverage rate. But Kelce is still getting open. His open score ranks 96th percentile among tight ends.

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This is technically a difficult matchup, but I don't have any worries about Kelce this week. His profile is too good, and his quarterback should return to a high dropback rate.

Unfortunately, Kelce is the only Chiefs receiver seeing high-end volume on a per-route basis. JuJu Smith-Schuster comes the closest to reliable target volume with a 1.43 expected yards per route run... but that is a thoroughly mediocre mark.

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Smith-Schuster does have a couple things going for him, though. His first read target rate (15%) is the second highest on the team. And with an 81% route rate last week, he was the only receiver other than Kelce, with route participation over 65%.

We should see more wide receiver routes this week, at least. The Chiefs went with a lot of heavy personnel against the Bengals as part of their more balanced attack. That created limited route participation for Marquez Valdes-Scantling (61%), Justin Watson (52%), and Skyy Moore (32%), who were splitting time. MVS will likely be back in the mid-70 % range this week, but with an open score that bests only Robbie Anderson and A.J. Green, he's hardly an exciting bet.

In the backfield, Week 13 was disappointing for Isiah Pacheco. Sure, the rookie totaled 82 yards and scored a rushing touchdown for the second straight week. But in a game where the Chiefs were actually establishing the run a bit, he still saw only a 45% snap share. And as Sam Hoppen points out, the Chiefs are still leaning on Jerick McKinnon on third down. The veteran has seen 79% of third down snaps over the last two weeks.

Pacheco has upside to salt away this game. There are plenty of scenarios where the Broncos simply don't show up on offense, and the Chiefs lean on their rookie running back to close things out. But he literally has a 1% target share this season and is as game-script-dependent as it gets. In order to pay off, he needs his offense to be fully in control of this game... but for things not to get so out of hand that Ronald Jones starts seeing snaps.

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Broncos Implied Team Total: 17.25

Last week I lamented the fact that Nathaniel Hackett continues to roll out the same game plan week after week after week. Seemingly regardless of the situation, the Broncos play balanced or with a slightly into the run. I'm now convinced that Hackett is trolling. Because the Broncos mixed things up last week but in the exact opposite way that the matchup called for. The Broncos were facing a Ravens defense that ranks 23rd in dropback success rate but ninth in rushing success rate. The geniuses in Denver pivoted to the run.

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And look, I get that Russell Wilson has been really bad this season. I'd have a hard time putting my trust in him to win games as well. But you simply cannot convince me that going run-heavy in a good passing matchup is smart football when you have a bottom-three rushing offense

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Last week's shift to the run didn't add any efficiency to that facet of the game. They finished 29th in EPA per rush in Week 13. But hey, they did at least try something new.

This week they're going against a Chiefs defense that is more vulnerable through the air than on the ground, ranking 25th in EPA allowed per dropback and 14th in EPA allowed per rush.

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However, the Broncos have opened things up in terms of pass rate over expected just once this season. And that was in their Week 5 loss to the Colts when they managed just nine points in a game that went to overtime. Even with Patrick Mahomes pushing them this week, we cannot count on the Broncos to put up points here. This team is averaging less than 14 points per game—and they've been to overtime three times.

The only way we could possibly find fantasy value in this offense is if there was somehow a deep threat wide receiver with tight end eligibility—you're never gonna believe this but... 

Greg Dulcich's chances of fantasy relevance were starting to look pretty dim. Sure, he was running a bunch of routes, but for one of the worst offenses in the league and alongside two players who are better at earning targets. However, against the Ravens, Sutton and Jerry Jeudy were both limited to 38% route participation by hamstring and ankle injuries, respectively. With the wide receivers injured, Dulcich stepped into a more prominent role. He was targeted on 33% of his routes and saw a first-read target on an elite 24% of his routes. Jeudy has been able to practice this week and will likely return to the lineup, but Sutton looks set to miss. Jeudy's role in the offense is significantly more valuable than Dulcich's. However, we can't play Jeudy at tight end. Given that Russell Wilson has just eight passing TDs on the season, that's the only way I'm excited to start a pass catcher on this team.

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Still... I should mention that Jeudy might not be who you think he is. His 13.4 aDOT is second on the team to KJ Hamler (24.9). With Sutton out, he could see an additional deep target or two. And as a result, he is not a volume-based PPR play. Like Dulcich, he is a bet on a couple downfield shots connecting. He burns a valuable spot on your roster, but there are worse FLEX options this week.

With the Broncos shifting to the run last week, you might think that Latavius Murray's outlook would be on the rise. However, he played on 68% of snaps, down from 82% in Week 12. Mike Boone returned to the lineup as a rotational back with a 23% snap share. But with very little overall value in this offense, those lost snaps will hurt. Murray ranks RB19 in success rate, so he's been decent in that regard. But he offers little big play ability, ranking RB37 in RYOE / attempt. Starting him is a prayer for a TD.

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Panthers at Seahawks, 4:25 Eastern, Sunday

Panthers Implied Team Total: 20

We have a small sample of just 21 plays for Sam Darnold this season, but his performance was a big improvement on the quarterback play we've seen so far in Carolina. Darnold currently ranks sixth in EPA per play, which of course, is small sample-size nonsense. And even within that small sample, we saw flashes of the real Darnold. He had an unimpressive 43% success rate, and his efficiency came within the context of his team trying to hide him as much as possible. He looks far less impressive from the perspective of EPA per game.

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But look, even if Darnold is essentially Carolina's version of Mitch Trubisky or Joe Flacco... after what we've been through with the Panthers, we'll take it. Mayfield was in a completely different tier of terrible this season. Walker had his moments but was also extremely inconsistent. Darnold has a legitimate chance to elevate this offense simply because the bar has been set so low. 

But the Panthers weren't exactly champing at the bit to unleash Sam Darnold in his first start. They posted a -21% PROE against the Broncos with a season-low -23% PROE on 1st-and-10. This was their second-most conservative performance to date for a team that has been very conservative since Steve Wilks took over in Week 6.

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But in fairness to Darnold, the Panthers were hiding him in his first start against a very talented Broncos pass defense. He will once again lead a run-heavy Panthers team this week, but things should open up at least slightly more in his second start. Because while the Seahawks aren't terrible against the pass, they are significantly more vulnerable through the air than the Broncos.

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The Seahawks rank a respectable 14th in dropback success rate, but they are allowing big plays, which is why they rank just 26th in EPA allowed per dropback. Seattle has allowed 15+ yard passing plays at the 10th highest rate this season. If you're betting on a receiver in an unreliable low-volume offense, a susceptibility to big plays is exactly what you want to see.

And D.J. Moore does still look worthy of FLEX consideration. Moore leads the NFL with a 45% air yard share. Hit very poor 7.5 YPT is an indication of what we already know... that there is an abundance of prayer yards in his target mix. However, he is at least getting plenty of opportunities to make plays downfield, which is exactly how a Panthers wide receiver would pay off in this matchup. 

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In the backfield, D'Onta Foreman has missed practice with a foot injury. He split time with Chuba Hubbard in Week 12, seeing a 52% snap share to Hubbard's 43%. It will likely be a similar split if Foreman suits up, making him a TD-dependent RB2. If Foreman were to miss the game, Hubbard would be a viable RB2 starter against a Seahawks defense that also allows big plays on the ground.

Seahawks Implied Team Total: 24.5

Last week, I put my faith in the Seahawks coaching staff to attack the Rams through the air. Given that the Rams are very stout against the run and given how well Geno Smith has played this season, it was clearly the logical way to approach the matchup. And... although they played less efficiently than I expected they would—Pete Carroll delivered. Seattle posted a 9% PROE and a 7% PROE on 1st-and-10. The Seahawks are up to sixth in PROE this season, and only the Bills have been more pass-heavy on first down.

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It's pretty easy to understand why the Seahawks are willing to trust Geno Smith. Smith ranks eighth in EPA per play and has been the most accurate quarterback in the league by CPOE. It's been an extremely impressive season for Smith. And given how accurate he's been, it's hard to say that what he is doing is unsustainable.

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This week the Seahawks may need to lean on him again. They are facing a Panthers defense that is slightly stronger against the pass than the run, ranking 11th in EPA allowed per dropback and 15th in EPA allowed per rush. However, the Seahawks will be without Ken Walker, who hasn't practiced because of an ankle injury. Receiving specialist Travis Homer is likely to split time with journeyman Tony Jones. The Seahawks won't completely abandon the run, but they're unlikely to be efficient when they hand the ball off. Instead, it would make sense for them to attack a middling Panthers defense through the air.

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And the Seahawks don't just have Smith playing well; they have two elite receivers in DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett. As good as Smith has been this year, he may have peaked in Week 13 by pulling off something we were starting to think was impossible: allowing Metcalf and Lockett to hit together. Against the Rams, Metcalf went 8-127-1 on eight targets, and Lockett slightly outdid him with 9-128-1 on 11 targets. It was the fourth game this season that both players have scored a TD... but the first time Lockett and Metcalf have hit 100+ yards in the same game since Week 3 of 2020.

Metcalf remains the slightly better bet this week because he is seeing more target opportunity. But Tyler Lockett is a star in his own right. He gets open at will and is tied with A.J. Brown for the NFL lead in open score.

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Unfortunately, they're still not much else here beyond Metcalf and Lockett. Noah Fant got in the end zone last week but ran a route on only 48% of dropbacks; he remains off the fantasy radar.

Buccaneers at 49ers, 4:25 Eastern, Sunday

Buccaneers Implied Team Total: 17

The Buccaneers are 3-1 over their last four games, but the way they've gotten there has been pretty concerning if you're invested in this offense in any way. The Buccaneers are averaging just 17.8 points per game over their last four games and have shifted to prioritizing the run.

To be clear, the Buccaneers aren't run first. They've been perfectly balanced since Week 9, with a 0% PROE. However, they are calling plays on first down like a team trying to hide its passing game, with a -6% PROE on 1st-and-10. 

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This shift to first down runs feels more ideological than tactical. Tampa Bay ranks dead last-in EPA per rush this season. And while things have been slightly better over the last four games, things aren't going great. They rank 21st in EPA per rush since Week 9. The passing offense hasn't been great either; they rank just 17th. But you'd much rather prioritize a mediocre passing attack than a below-average running game.

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The Buccaneers' recent offense of approach is essentially designed to hide Tom Brady rather than set him up for success. It's an odd way to run an offense since hiding Brady comes at the cost of revealing an uninspiring running game. With that in mind, it's not surprising that the Buccaneers only seem to be clicking when they are in game-winning drive mode. In those situations, Tampa Bay's coaches cannot burn valuable first downs on inefficient running plays.

To that point, when looking at the Buccaneers' expected pass rate versus their actual pass rate, you can see that the Bucs are passing more than expected but are doing so from a position of weakness. 

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The Buccaneers' expected pass rate is the eighth highest in the league, behind the Cardinals, Colts, Texans, Rams, Jets, Raiders, and Saints. They aren't fighting against game script like the Raiders, Saints, and Jets. But they also aren't a pass-first team because they want to be... they're pass-first because game script is forcing their hand.

But in defense of Todd Bowles and Byron Leftwich, it's not like Brady has been great this season. He ranks 18th in EPA per play and 19th in CPOE. So leaning on him to carry the offense is a far more uncertain proposition than we are used to. 

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But if the Buccaneers want to win this week, they really have no choice but to put the ball in Tom Brady's hands as much as possible. The 49ers rank third in EPA allowed per rush, second in rushing success rate, and fourth in PFF's run grades. They are more than capable of completely shutting down Tampa Bay's weak rushing attack.

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The run game should be spearheaded by Leonard Fournette, who saw 60% of snaps against the Saints, with Rachaad White at 41%. But Fournette is a poor bet this week on what will again be a split workload. He ranks RB25 in success rate, which isn't awful. But the rest of his rushing profile is.

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But it's not like White has been any better. In fact, he's been even worse. White ranks just RB39 in RYOE / attempt... which is his best showing in the key rushing metrics below.

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Todd Bowles, please abandon the run—the analytics are begging you. Abandoning the run would make so much sense, especially because the only thing Fournette and White are doing well is operating as receivers. Fournette ranks RB18 in YPRR, and White ranks RB15. Both backs are PPR RB2s as bets on catch volume accumulation. But even falling into the end zone could be difficult this week against this 49ers defense.

But the 49ers are also strong against the pass, ranking fifth in EPA allowed per dropback and seventh in dropback success rate. They cover well, ranking fifth in PFF's coverage grades, and get to the passer ranking seventh in PFF's pass rush grades. This defense is going to make life difficult for Brady.

With an emphasis on getting the ball out quickly, Chris Godwin could see quite a bit of work. Against the Saints, Godwin was the clear focal point of the offense, with a 29% target rate and a first-read target on 24% of his routes. Godwin had just a 5.2 aDOT, though. As I noted last week, Godwin has a career-low aDOT (6.1), making him more of a PPR accumulator than he's ever been. Godwin's 22% target share gives him reception upside, but his 18% air yard share severely limits his opportunities for big plays.

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Mike Evans leads Godwin in YPRR this season and has seen slightly more valuable per-route target opportunity as well. But he's a difficult bet this week, with the Buccaneers having a lower implied team total than even the Broncos. Evans is a big enough part of the offense to be in FLEX consideration, but you honestly might have a better option.

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49ers Implied Team Total: 20.5

With Jimmy Garoppolo out with a broken foot, the Brock Purdy era has begun. And if his locker room nickname is any indication, it's off to a pretty good start.

But although Purdy captained the 49ers to a win, he was significantly less efficient than Garoppolo this season. Garoppolo ranks sixth in EPA per play and seventh in success rate. Purdy's early results in both metrics were far worse; he essentially looks like a slightly less efficient version of Mike White.

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The Mike White era has been fun, but keep in mind that our expectations almost could not have been lower. Elijah Moore, a sixth-round fantasy pick, has remained completely unstartable, and we don't even care. We're too busy boisterously celebrating Garrett Wilson's emergence. By comparison, if Purdy can only support one weapon in San Francisco, that will not be very fun.

On a positive note, the 49ers were not overly focused on the run against the Dolphins. They posted just a -1% PROE. However, this was likely related to the fact Miami is much stronger against the run than the pass. The 49ers were still looking to prioritize the run game with a -13% PROE on 1st-and-10. Passing volume was up last week, but it does not look like a sign that the 49ers are shifting gears.

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And the 49ers now get a Buccaneers defense that has been much weaker against the run than the pass. Garoppolo and Purdy combined for 41 passing attempts last week; Purdy could easily be below 30 attempts in this matchup.

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And with the potential for both passing volume and efficiency to be down this week, 49ers skill players look extremely risky. We are already seeing very flat target opportunity for 49ers receivers. This offense is about as spread out as it gets.

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The only player who looks exciting this week is Christian McCaffrey. McCaffrey can obviously benefit from a run-heavy script, particularly now that Eli Mitchell is out of the lineup. CMC saw an 82% snap share against the Dolphins, which topped his Week 8 snap share of 81%, setting a new high in San Francisco. McCaffrey can also benefit from Purdy's proclivity for underneath throws. Only Matt Ryan and Colt McCoy have a lower aDOT than Purdy. While the rest of the 49ers look like TD-dependent options, McCaffrey remains an elite RB1.

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Dolphins at Chargers, 8:20 Eastern, Sunday

Dolphins Implied Team Total: 27.25

Last week was a very rough outing for the Dolphins. But it was also fairly predictable, given they were without LT Terron Armstead and facing one of the best defenses in the league. However, there are a few reasons to feel good about the Dolphins going forward. 

First, Mike McDaniel showed a new level of pass-heaviness against the 49ers, despite the Dolphins' offensive line issues. Miami posted a 21% PROE with a 25% PROE on 1st-and-10. Only the Bengals have gone more pass-heavy in a game this year.

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Obviously, last week's game plan was a symptom of a broken offense. The Dolphins surely don't want to be as pass-heavy this week, nor should they, given that they only managed 17 points by committing fully to the pass. However, it is still a positive sign that McDaniel was willing to lean on his highly efficient quarterback when the chips were down rather than sacrificing his offensive outing to the altar of a balanced offense.

Because while the Dolphins will undoubtedly be more balanced than last week, an aggressive passing attack should be far more successful if they double down on that approach.

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The Chargers ranked 21st in EPA allowed per dropback, but more importantly, they have not had a pass rush since losing Joey Bosa. They rank just 27th in PFF's pass rush grades and 27th in quick pressure rate. Armstead has a chance to return this week, but even if he misses, the Chargers won't be able to take advantage of Miami's poor pass blocking the way the 49ers did.

Better protection will be key for Tua Tagovailoa because last week was a disaster. He ranked 29th in EPA per play, ahead of only Kyle Allen. The thought may have just crossed your mind that Tua couldn't have been less efficient than John Wolford... but he was.

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Still, Tagovailoa has been extremely impressive this season. He ranks third in EPA per game and fourth in success rate, and only Geno Smith has been more accurate.

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And although there remains some risk that the Dolphins still aren't able to protect Tagovailoa, the Dolphins' offense is so concentrated that we can live with a mediocre performance at quarterback. 

With Jaylen Waddle dealing with a leg injury, no other Dolphins receiver stepped up last week. Instead, targets condensed even further to Tyreek Hill. Hill saw a 39% target share and a 45% air yard share. Of Tagovailoa's 27 first-read targets, 41% went to Hill. If Waddle is at all limited this week, Hill is a lock to be the engine of this passing game. His 3.56 YPRR literally breaks my chart. Things are a bit shakier than usual in Miami, but Hill still has an unreal ceiling.

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Waddle is a riskier bet as he recovers from injury. However, he's been practicing this week and has an extremely strong target profile. With an elite 2.56 YPRR, Waddle can deliver a strong fantasy day without running every route.

Similarly, this looks like the type of matchup where a Dolphins running back can succeed without total control of the backfield. The Chargers rank 29th in EPA allowed per rush and 28th in success rate. As a result, the Dolphins should be far more efficient on the ground than they were last week. They should also be more willing to run the ball after totaling just eight rushing attempts.

And volume wasn't the only issue in the Dolphins' backfield last week. We also saw an unexpected playing time split, with Raheem Mostert seeing 61% of snaps and Jeff Wilson just 37%. That's obviously a major red flag for Wilson. However, Wilson has been the far more effective back this season, ranking RB6 in RYOE / attempt and RB18 in success rate. Mostert ranks RB43 in both metrics.

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I expect a split this week, and things could be tilted toward Mostert once again. However, Wilson has a much better chance of actually taking advantage of this matchup. My bet would be that his playing time at least matches Mostert's in a setting where the Dolphins are actually looking to run the ball at a normal rate.

Chargers Implied Team Total: 24.25

Last week, Justin Herbert totaled 335 passing yards, but he did so inefficiently. In Week 13, Herbert ranked 21st in EPA per play and 18th in CPOE. That's not a horrible showing under normal conditions. However, Herbert was against a Raiders pass defense that is arguably the worst in the NFL. The fact that he couldn't take advantage of that matchup is not a good sign. Herbert now ranks just 20th in EPA per play, one spot below Marcus Mariota... who was just benched.

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But Herbert gets another good matchup this week. He's going against a Dolphins defense that ranks 18th in EPA allowed per dropback and 25th in dropback success rate. His efficiency might not be a better than last week, but he should still be able to accumulate yardage. 

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Herbert should also be helped by the fact that the Chargers have maintained their commitment to the pass. With a 5% PROE, only the Chiefs, Bills, Bengals, and Dolphins have been more pass-heavy. The Chargers' philosophy will be especially helpful this week against a Dolphins defense that is stout against the run. Herbert might not be playing well, but the Chargers will at least lean on him for production.

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However, Herbert could be in for a long day against a Dolphins pass rush that ranks fifth in pass rush grade and fourth in quick pressure rate. The Chargers' offensive line is played very poorly this season. In particular, they have been susceptible to quick pressures, ranking 31st in quick pressures per dropback. 

If the Dolphins' pass rush is getting home, we should see plenty of dump-off passes to Austin Ekeler. Ekeler had a disappointing game against the Raiders, but he's set up for a bounce-back game here. Ekeler might not deliver as much as a rusher in a tough rushing matchup, but he should be busy in the passing game. Only Christian McCaffrey is a higher target share than Ekeler (22%) among running backs this season. And Ekeler ranks RB5 with a 1.67 YPRR. Even after last week, he ranks RB1 in expected fantasy points per game and remains an elite RB1.

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But for the Chargers to really get going on offense, they need to be able to threaten downfield. With that in mind, it's a very bullish sign that Mike Williams was able to get in a full practice on Thursday. Williams' 12.4 aDOT is the highest on the team, and he's tied with Keenan Allen for the team lead in double coverage rate (26%). He should be able to draw downfield targets and downfield coverage, which should help open up the offense and add some much-needed explosiveness to this passing attack. In that sense, Williams' improving health should be seen as a positive indicator for Allen. Allen's target share would likely be higher with Williams on the bench. But his chances of putting up a big fantasy day are better if Williams can help this offense more effectively put up points. Both receivers look like WR2 plays in what could be a high-volume passing environment.

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At tight end, Gerald Everett is a viable bye week fill-in as a bet on overall passing volume. However, he ran a route on just 63% of dropbacks against the Raiders and is at just 62% this year. He's in the mix but not a particularly strong start.

 

Patriots at Cardinals, 8:15 PM Eastern, Monday

Patriots Implied Team Total: 22.75

The Patriots have been a run-first team this season with a -2% PROE and a -3% PROE on 1st-and-10. However, the Patriots haven't been overly ideological about their commitment to the run. In most games, they have a tilt toward the ground game, but it's not unusual to see them go pass-first. They've had a positive PROE in 42% of their games.

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That game plan flexibility is nice to see, given that they are going against a Cardinals defense that ranks as the biggest pass funnel in the league. The Cardinals aren't great against the run, ranking 16th in EPA allowed per rush and 24th in rushing success rate. But they are even worse against the pass, particularly in terms of consistency. They rank dead last in dropback success rate.

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Although, it's unlikely that Mac Jones can take full advantage of this matchup. He ranks just 30th in EPA per play and 28th in success rate. His accuracy has been pretty solid this season, but he's playing like a slightly less efficient Kenny Pickett.

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In fairness to Jones, with Jakobi Meyers likely out for this game, he doesn't exactly have much help this week. His top receiver is likely to be DeVante Parker, who cannot get open. Only Corey Davis, Marquez Valdes-Scantlin, Robbie Anderson, and A.J. Green rate lower in open score among all wide receivers and tight ends.

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However, Parker and Hunter Henry were the only Patriots receivers other than Meyers to see 55%+ route participation last week. Henry is in play as a TD dart throw in a decent passing matchup, but otherwise, there just isn't much here.

With Damien Harris also missing practice on Thursday, Rhamondre Stevenson profiles as an absolute smash. Stevenson played 53-of-54 Patriots snaps in Week 13 and will have a total workhorse role this week. But, more importantly, he should be a staple of the passing game. Against the Bills, Stevenson ran a route on 87% of dropbacks. Only Christian McCaffrey (93%, Week 11) has had a game with higher route participation this season.

And Stevenson isn't just running empty routes; he's a critical feature of the passing game. His 19% target share is the fourth highest among running backs. He's also been efficient as a receiver, ranking RB9 with 1.50 YPRR.

Stevenson having a valuable workload is nothing new. His 17.2 expected points per game, per PFF, rank RB6. But his workload could be far more valuable than usual as the last playmaker standing in the Patriots' offense. 

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Cardinals Implied Team Total: 21.25

Hopefully, the Cardinals sorted some things out during their bye week because Kyler Murray has not been good this season. He ranks just 23rd in EPA per play and 26th in CPOE. He's been a slightly more efficient but less accurate version of Russell Wilson.

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And the Cardinals have been doing what they can to hide their passing game. They have a -2% PROE and a -7% PROE on 1st-and-10. They are operating very similarly to teams like the Jets, Raiders, Saints, 49ers, and Packers.

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Even if the Cardinals play better after a week off, it's unlikely that they operate with a different philosophical approach. The Patriots have a strong pass defense that ranks fourth in EPA allowed per dropback and second in dropback success rate. They are also fairly strong against the run, ranking eighth in EPA allowed per rush, but it would be a surprising week for the Cardinals to pivot to the pass.

However, the Cardinals running game is unlikely to power a ton of offensive success. They aren't a terrible rushing offense by any means. On the contrary, they rank far better than teams like the Colts, Broncos, and Buccaneers, who view throwing away high-value downs on low-efficiency running plays as a sign of vitality. But still, their running game is less efficient than the Broncos' passing game. So... it's not going to put up a ton of points on its own.

Nevertheless, James Conner should see plenty of volume this week. Conner had a 77% snap share in his first game without Eno Benjamin on the roster. And that jumped to 97% in Week 12. He might not be able to efficiently power the Cardinals' offense, but honestly, if you're starting him in fantasy, who cares. He'll have more than enough volume to turn his mediocre efficiency into a low-end RB1 performance.

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But I bring up the efficiency of the Cardinals running game to point out that the Cardinals will have to pick up first downs through the air to sustain drives. Murray's go-to receiver will, as always, be DeAndre Hopkins. Hopkins will likely face a lot of double coverage this week, but that shouldn't be a major concern. He has an ultra-elite 4.31 YPRR when facing extra defensive attention. And he's been double-teamed fairly frequently, with a 23% double coverage rate. It might not be Hopkins' best week, but his 31% target share keeps his ceiling intact in this difficult matchup.

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Marquise Brown also looks like an interesting bet after running route on 97% of dropbacks in Week 12, which led the Cardinals. Interestingly, Brown manned the slot with both Rondale Moore and Greg Dortch out with injuries. With Dortch practicing in full, we can expect Brown to be back outside and operating deeper downfield. As a result, he should have as much big-play upside this week as at any point with the Cardinals. With Hopkins drawing coverage, it'll be hard to take him away. And Brown will be a major upgrade on A.J. Green and Robbie Anderson on the outside, both of whom are not getting open.

At tight end, Trey McBride can be trusted to be out on the field. He's logged route rates of 80%, 72%, and 71% in his last three games. His route participation isn't quite elite, but it's definitely an encouraging sign for the rookie. However, McBride has yet to flash any real indications that he can be an effective receiver at the NFL level. His per-route target volume is reminiscent of Ian Thomas—the ultimate tight end cardio specialist. The book isn't written on McBride yet; he's run only 150 routes. But I'd prefer another dart throw option this week if you have one.

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Sources

To write this article I relied on the following stats, metrics and grades.  

  • Expected Points Added per Play (EPA/Play).
    • Efficiency metric based on how much a play improved a team's likelihood of scoring. 
    • I use this metric primarily for QB efficiency, but also for defensive efficiency.
  • Completion Percentage Over Expected
  • Pass Rate over Expected
    • Measures passing decisions against what would be expected given the game situation.
  • Situation Neutral Pass Rate
    • Measures pass rate on downs and in situations when a team truly has the choice to pass or run.
  • Situation Neutral Seconds per Play
    • Seconds between plays in neutral game script.
    • Faster play generally means more plays, which provides more opportunity for fantasy scoring.
  • Adjusted Line Yards
  • Snaps and Snap Share
    • Probably the single most important stat for running back opportunity.
      • Teams check in and out of runs with only one back on the field. Being on the field is critical.
      • Data from Pro Football Focus, AddMoreFunds and RotoViz
    • Third down and Red Zone Snaps from Sam Hoppen's Player Stat Explorer at 4for4.com
  • Target Share and Air Yard share
    • The combination of these is called WOPR. Created by Josh Hermsmeyer, this metric scales from 0-1.
      • Data from Pro Football Focus and RotoViz
  • Routes run per dropback
    • Snap share for receivers... since I'm not concerned with who is playing run-blocking snaps.
      • Data from Pro Football Focus
  • Yards Per Route Run
    • A YPRR of 1.8+ is good and anything 2+ is very good. 
    • This metric is particularly useful for young wide receivers whose role could grow as a result of strong play.
    • It can also help identify truly elite wide receivers.
    • It filters out in-game injuries and blowouts much better than target share does.
      • Data from PFF 
  • Expected YPRR
    • Derived from Ben Gretch's Weighted Targets per Route Run calculation
      • Scaled to 0 - 3.5, in line with YPRR instead of 0 - 1 scale.
  • Target per Route Run
    • TPRR and Yards per Target combine to make up YPRR. 
    • TPRR is especially useful for tight ends.
      • Some offenses and quarterbacks prioritize throwing to the tight end much more than others.
      • Some tight ends are far better at getting open than others.
    • TPRR is much more stable than YPT, so in small samples especially, I'd rather know who is drawing targets than what happened afterward.
  • Expected Fantasy Points. 
    • Both RotoViz and PFF have similar Expected Points metrics that adjust opportunity based on the context of each play.
      • I am referencing PFF's metric unless otherwise stated.
  • A number of other PFF stats including Time to Throw, Play Action Rate, Pressure Rate, Screen Passes and Defensive Grades.