With the early games in the books, we have compiled the afternoon slate from Adam Pfeifer’s NFL DFS matchups article into one source. Be sure to check out the full 15,000-word article every single week, published Thursday.
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Links to Week 12 NFL DFS Late Slate
Jacksonville Jaguars @ Tennessee Titans
Line: TEN -3
Jaguars passing game
Nick Foles returned to the lineup last week after missing weeks with his broken collarbone. He was serviceable, throwing for 296 yards and two touchdowns. Of course, Jacksonville fell behind pretty early, which resulted in a whopping 47 pass attempts from Foles. The Jaguars called pass 84.4 percent of the time, which is obviously an anomaly from their 60.5 percent pass rate on the season. Look for Jacksonville to get back to the ground attack, which has me off Foles for NFL DFS, especially in a weaker matchup. This should be a slow-paced game, as these teams rank 31st and 27th in average seconds per play in neutral game scripts. The Titans are also allowing 1.67 points per drive on the year, the seventh-fewest in the league.
After a week of gushing over the connection between Foles and Dede Westbrook, it was Jacksonville’s constant WR1 D.J. Chark who made the most noise. He continued his magical season last week, hauling in eight of a whopping 15 targets for 104 yards and two touchdowns against the Colts. Chark is third in the league with 21 deep targets and fifth in end zone targets with 13, giving him plenty of NFL DFS upside that puts him on the map as a WR2 each week. He’ll line up against Adoree’ Jackson, a talented but very inconsistent cornerback. I won’t have much exposure to this slow-paced game in NFL DFS but Chark should not be on any seasonal benches.
Jaguars running game
It was weird to see such a low-volume game from Leonard Fournette, as he carried the ball just eight times with Jacksonville falling behind. If this was last year, Fournette would give you absolutely nothing if he had just eight carries in a game. However, because he is second among all running backs in routes run (311), Fournette salvaged his day with seven catches for 34 yards. Head coach Doug Marrone recently stated that the team needs to get Fournette the ball more, although we aren’t complaining about his 88.2 percent opportunity share, the second-highest rate among all running backs. The matchup against the Titans, who are set to get Jurrell Casey back, isn’t fantastic but Fournette is a lock for 23-25 touches and is slightly underpriced over on DraftKings.
Titans passing game
Coming off the bye, the red hot Ryan Tannehill will host the Jags. Since taking over as the starting quarterback, Tannehill is averaging 0.60 fantasy points per dropback, tied for the sixth-most in the NFL. And during that same span (since Week 7), he is third in 300-yard passing games and eighth in touchdown passes. He’s been using his legs a bit, too, rushing for over 35 yards in each of his last two starts, while adding a rushing touchdown back in Week 9. The matchup against the Jaguars is as mediocre as it gets, as Jacksonville is 16th in fantasy points per game allowed to opposing passers, while still generating a top-five pressure rate (25.7%). Tannehill should be able to post top-17 NFL DFS numbers but his ceiling is capped in this slow-paced affair.
Corey Davis missed Week 10’s game against the Chiefs with a hip injury but practiced in full and is set to return. As you know, I rarely play Davis in NFL DFS because he always gets the opposition’s top corner and doesn’t get enough targets to mask his inefficiency. Meanwhile, A.J. Brown is the more explosive player, especially after the catch, but his price is flirting with $5,000, making him someone I won’t target in NFL DFS, either.
Honestly, my favorite Tennessee receiver might be Adam Humphries, who scored in the team’s last game and continues to operate out of the slot 87 percent of the time. Tannehill, meanwhile, is targeting the slot 50.7 percent of the time this season, the second-highest rate in the NFL. Humphries and Brown could make some plays once the ball is in their hands, as the Jaguars are allowing the third-most yards after the catch this year.
It looks like Delanie Walker is set to return from his ankle injury that kept him sidelined for three games. Assuming he’s back in action, you obviously can’t play Jonnu Smith in any NFL DFS formats, while Walker would serve as a low-ceiling tight end play.
Titans running game
Derrick Henry ran all over the Chiefs back in Week 10 to the tune of 188 yards and two touchdowns. He has been fantastic this season, averaging five yards per touch, 83.1 rushing yards per game and sporting a 31.5 percent juke rate. Henry also leads the league in yards after contact per attempt (3.78) and the Jaguars are inside the bottom-10 in missed tackles on the year. With a healthy 81.1 percent opportunity share, Henry makes for an elite NFL DFS play this week against a reeling Jaguars run defense that just allowed two different 100-yard rushers last weekend against the Colts.
They are allowing 48 percent of all carries from inside the five-yard line to be converted into touchdowns, the third-worst mark on the slate, while Henry has handled 100 percent of Tennessee’s carries from that area of the field. Henry has been a top-10 NFL DFS back in half of his games this season and I think he makes it a sixth this weekend. He’s one of my favorite running back plays of the week.
Dallas Cowboys @ New England Patriots
Line: NE -6.5
Cowboys passing game
This should be interesting. We have the best pass defense in the NFL hosting the top-rated pass offense. Dak Prescott is on an absolute tear, throwing at least three touchdown passes in each of his last three contests, while throwing for 444 and 397 yards over his last two games. Prescott’s schedule has been favorable for a quarterback, while New England has played a ton of bad offenses, so I’m excited to see how this plays out.
Because Prescott has been so good, ranking third in both fantasy points per dropback (0.57) and game (23.2), it may be tough to bench him here. And I honestly wouldn’t unless I had a very strong alternative option. But the Patriots pass defense remains elite, sporting the lowest passing touchdown rate in the NFL at 1.2 percent. Prescott is a low-end QB1 for NFL DFS this week and while he’s been outstanding, he doesn’t exactly have to be in your lineups.
Amari Cooper continues to deal with that knee issue. He has been seen limping to the sideline in each of the last three weeks but Cooper will keep playing through it. That on top of a meeting with Stephon Gilmore make him more of a WR2 than surefire top-seven NFL DFS option like he normally is. The Patriots are allowing an impressive 48.1 percent catch-rate to opposing receivers this year, largely due to Gilmore’s elite play. He is allowing a 40.3 passer rating in his coverage, the best mark in the league, along with 0.20 fantasy points per cover snap and 0.97 fantasy points per target, numbers that rank second and third, respectively. You are still starting him this week but you should definitely be lowering your expectations.
With Cooper banged up and followed by Darius Slay when on the field, Michael Gallup had the big day for the Cowboys, catching nine of 13 targets for 148 yards. The sophomore receiver continues to make a ton of big plays, as he is 15th in yards per catch (16.1), 16th in yards per target (9.8) and 14th in yards per pass route (2.68). If Cooper struggles with Gilmore, we could see more targets funnel to Gallup again this week, though the matchup is much more difficult. But when New England does get beat, they get beat deep, allowing the fourth-highest average depth of target in the league (95). That keeps Gallup in the mid-range WR3 discussion for NFL DFS, especially with his 23 percent target share in a very good offense.
Randall Cobb has been targeted seven times in each of the last three games and has now reached 100 yards and a touchdown in two consecutive contests. I’m not buying into it, though, especially against the Patriots, who have a pretty damn good nickel corner in Jonathan Jones. I understand picking him up off waivers but Cobb is still nothing more than a WR4 this weekend.
Cowboys running game
A lot of people are upset over Ezekiel Elliott’s lackluster NFL DFS production. But as long as he continues to get the work and score touchdowns, I really don’t care. Elliott scored twice last week, giving him eight touchdowns on the season. He is sixth in the league with a 78.6 percent opportunity share, while averaging just under 20 carries per game. You are still starting him as a top-five option each week but I think people might be off him in tournaments this week. I am interested, especially at his decreased NFL DFS price tag. We have seen the Browns and Ravens find success on the ground against the Patriots this season and we know Dallas is built to run the football.
Patriots passing game
Did you know that New England currently ranks 25th in the league in yards per play (5.1)? Because their defense has been other-worldly, no one has really talked about how below average this offense truly is right now. Tom Brady really struggled last week, completing 26 of 47 passes without scoring. He’s now thrown just four touchdowns over his last five games and since Week 6, Brady is 29th (!) in fantasy points per dropback. It is weird because he is currently on pace for a career-high in pass attempts, averaging 40.2 per game. Dallas isn’t New England but they are only allowing a 3.2 percent passing touchdown rate this season, the eighth-best mark in the league, as well as the sixth-fewest fantasy points to opposing signal callers. I have very little interest in Brady this week in NFL DFS.
Julian Edelman has seen double-digit targets in each of his last five games and got there last week by throwing a touchdown pass, something you obviously shouldn’t count on. Still, that floor and volume is so trustworthy and you should keep rolling him out there, even against a Cowboys defense allowing the third-fewest fantasy points per game to opposing wide receivers. They are also surrendering the third-fewest receptions per game to opposing wideouts, making this a poor matchup for Edelman. But with the injuries to the Patriots receivers and lack of play-makers in general, 10 targets seems to be a lock at the moment.
I was all over Mohamed Sanu last week but that clearly didn’t work out. He apparently suffered an ankle injury during the game and with he and Phillip Dorsett shaken up, there is a path to meaningful snaps for rookie N’Keal Harry, who played 32 offensive snaps last week compared to 19 for Jakobi Meyers. Keep an eye on the injury reports out of New England over the next few days.
Patriots running game
Over the last three weeks, the Patriots are running the football just 32.6 percent of the time, the fourth-lowest rate in the NFL. We’ve seen them abandon the run quite often this year, which has led to Brady attempting over 40 passes per game. If they continue to throw the ball a lot, that obviously benefits James White, who is fourth among all backs in both receiving yards (420) and receptions (48). The Cowboys, meanwhile, are allowing the fifth-most receiving yards to enemy backfields this season (51.9), as well as the third-most receptions per game (6.5). White has been a top-30 PPR running back every week, giving him that safe floor for NFL DFS.
The pass-heavy approach has obviously hurt Sony Michel, who has just 14 total carries over the last two weeks. You are hoping New England gets back to running the football and Michel doesn’t get vultured by Rex Burkhead or someone because the matchup isn’t too bad, as Dallas is allowing one rushing touchdown per game on the year, while 47.6 percent of all touchdowns surrendered by the Cowboys this season have been via the run, the sixth-highest rate in the NFL.