Isn’t this great? We got to watch three games on Thanksgiving Day and we still have a full slate of games set for Sunday and the usual Monday Night game. No more bye weeks!! Week 13 is also the final week of the regular Fantasy season for the vast majority of you with the Fantasy playoff weeks beginning next week. Remember, use matchup data when trying to decide between somewhat evenly ranked players. Always play your studs! Don’t bench a top line player simply because they have a tough matchup.
Passing Matchups to Exploit
Green Bay Packers vs. NE Patriots – Both ends of this matchup are quite favorable because this game has shootout written all over it. Tom Brady and the Patriots are in the midst of a seven-game winning streak in which Brady has thrown for 300 or more yards in four of the games and was just eight yards shy of that mark in a fifth. He’s thrown 22 TDs and just four interceptions in that span, though, all four interceptions have come in the last three games. Aaron Rodgers has been nearly as hot, having won seven of his last eight, with 25 TDs in that span and just two interceptions, both in the Week 8 loss against New Orleans.
Both defenses are also playing at a very high level with very comparable statistics. The Patriots have allowed an average of 242 passing yards per game, have given up 18 passing TDs and have 12 interceptions and 25 sacks on the season. The Packers have allowed an average of 234 passing yards per game, have given up 17 passing TDs and have 15 interceptions and 27 sacks on the season. The main difference between the two defenses is that the Patriots have shut down some pretty good offenses in the past few weeks, including the Colts, Broncos and Lions, whereas the Packers have played some fairly soft competition in the Vikings, Eagles and Bears. About the only thing the Packers have going in their favor is home field advantage. Aside from that, this shootout probably favors the Patriots, who are simply on a roll of late.
Miami Dolphins vs. NY Jets – Let’s face it; the Jets’ pass defense is just bad. They’ve allowed a league-high 27 passing TDs this season (tied with the Bears). They’ve intercepted just three passes this season and opposing teams are completing 65 percent of their pass attempts against Gang Green. The Jets have allowed opposing QBs an average of 23.8 FPPG, third-most in the NFL. This could be a huge game for Dolphins’ TE Charles Clay if he can get healthy and play; the Jets have allowed an average of 11.5 FPPG to the TE position this season and TEs have scored 12 TDs against them. Ryan Tannehill isn’t anyone’s idea of a prolific passer; he hasn’t thrown for 300 yards in any game this season thus far. However, he has thrown nine TDs in his last four games with just two interceptions, and he’s averaged 240 yards per game in that span, which includes his season-high 288 yard game. The Jets defend the run as well as any team in the NFL, so the Dolphins will look to pass all day long against them in this game. This could finally be the game in which Tannehill crosses the 300-yard threshold.
Passing Matchups to Avoid
Cleveland Browns vs. Buffalo Bills – Last week, Brian Hoyer was all the rage because of the return of Josh Gordon. Hoyer didn’t disappoint either, throwing for 322 yards, his third 300-plus yard game in the last four matchups. However, he didn’t connect for a passing TD last week, only has three passing TDs in the last four games and he’s thrown six interceptions in that span, including three picks last week alone. The bottom line here is that Hoyer has been good, but far from great, and this week he is not a good start against the Bills’ pass defense. Speaking of which, the Bills pass rush is fierce this season; they’ve racked up a league-high 46 sacks thus far and have 13 interceptions. They’ve only allowed 14 passing TDs and have held teams to an average of 214 passing yards per game. Overall, the Bills are the fifth-ranked pass defense in the NFL, so Hoyer and the Browns’ receiving corps will have their work cut out for them in this game.
Atlanta Falcons vs. Arizona Cardinals – The Cardinals’ pass defense was nothing special early in the season. They managed to win on the strength of their offense but they gave up tons of passing yardage. However, since giving up 411 passing yards to the Eagles five weeks ago, the Cardinals have been shutting down passing attacks. Over the past four games they’ve allowed an average of 170 passing yards to opposing offenses and just one reception TD to opposing wide receivers. Matt Ryan started the season on fire, tossing 10 TDs over the first four games. However, he has just nine TDs in the last eight games and the lack of an effective running game leaves the one-dimensional offense exposed. Ryan has also been sacked 24 times this season because of the ineffective play of the offensive line. The Cardinals are very likely to shut Ryan down in this game.
Rushing Matchups to Exploit
NY Giants vs. Jacksonville Jaguars – The Jaguars are ranked 28th against the run, allowing an average of 131 rushing yards per game and nine rushing TDs thus far. Rashad Jennings looked pretty good against Dallas last week, piling up 120 total yards between the passing and rushing games. Andre Williams could vulture his TD opportunities unless he can take one to the house on a long run or pass play, but Jennings is a good play against the weak Jags’ D.
NE Patriots vs. Green Bay Packers – This one is more of a gut call than anything else; with Bill Belichick, one can only go with the gut because he certainly isn’t going to tip his hand. The Packers’ defense against the run is ranked 30th in the NFL. Only the Giants and Titans are worse against the run. The Packers have allowed an average of 138 rushing yards per game and nine rushing TDS thus far. The fact that the Patriots will want to control the clock, and keep Aaron Rodgers and the high-powered Packers’ offense on the sidelines as much as possible, sets the stage for some smash mouth running by the Pats. Shane Vereen has a banged up ankle and may be limited in this game, so both Jonas Gray and LeGarrette Blount could be utilized as a one-two punch. My money is on the veteran Blount to get more scoring chances if the Pats can successfully execute this plan.
Rushing Matchups to Avoid
Indianapolis Colts vs. Washington Redskins – The Colts haven’t had much of a ground game all season, and especially without Ahmad Bradshaw, who is now gone for the season and been replaced by “Boom” Herron. The Redskins’ pass defense is surprisingly stout; they’re ranked eighth in the NFL against the run, allowing an average of 100.7 rushing yards per game. Andrew Luck and company will continue their pass-first ways and look to get out in front early, only using the run game enough to keep the ‘Skins honest. That means low rushing totals for both Herron and Trent Richardson, whom you have no business starting anyway.
San Diego Chargers vs. Baltimore Ravens – The Ravens, as usual, have a stout defense against the run. They’ve allowed an average of just 88.3 rushing yards per game and just six rushing TDs on the season. Overall, they’re the fifth-ranked rushing defense in the NFL. The Chargers’ offensive line is among the worst in the NFL for both pass blocking and run blocking. Injuries and poor depth have decimated what little pass blocking they were able to muster early in the season. Ryan Mathews is back but he hasn’t been nearly as effective since returning from injury and it’s apparent that he really isn’t 100 percent healthy. Combine that with the offensive line problems and the fact that they’re working on a short week, and put them up against the Ravens’ defense and you’ve got a recipe for disaster, at least in Fantasy terms.