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Adam Pfeifer’s Week 14 Matchups Game by Game Breakdown: Late Slate

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NFL DFS Optimizer Groups DraftKings FanDuel Saturday-Sunday Main Slate

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 NFL DFS Late Slate

Los Angeles Chargers at Jacksonville Jaguars | Pittsburgh Steelers at Arizona Cardinals | Tennessee Titans at Oakland Raiders | Kansas City Chiefs at New England Patriots

Los Angeles Chargers @ Jacksonville Jaguars

Total: 43

Line: LAC -3

Chargers passing game

Philip Rivers hasn’t scored 20 fantasy points since Week 7, as he continues to struggle. Since Week 5, the veteran passer has tossed a whopping 13 interceptions, while ranking 31st among all quarterbacks in fantasy points per dropback (0.36) during that span. It is incredibly risky to use him in fantasy because, well, he’s been awful but also because the Chargers have considered benching him. In fact, after his interception last week, Tyrod Taylor was seen on the sideline with his helmet on. One more bad stretch could lead to Rivers’ demise, which could lead to your NFL DFS demise. The matchup isn’t as bad as you’d think, as the Jaguars are coughing up the fourth-most fantasy points per pass attempt over the last six weeks (0.51) but Rivers still scares the bejeezus out of me.

After a rough spell, Keenan Allen has been much better as of late, scoring touchdowns in back-to-back games. And over the last three weeks, he’s been targeted a healthy 29 times. He is now sixth in the NFL in targets (114), while his 26.4 percent target share is the ninth-highest mark among all wide receivers. This isn’t an ideal matchup for Allen, as the Jaguars have been tough against opposing receivers, but they could be without nickel corner D.J. Hayden, who has been the best corner on this team. Still, at $6,600, he should be able to provide you with a solid NFL DFS floor.

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Mike Williams is coming off a career-high 117 yards last week, though 52 of them came on a fourth-and-11 towards the very end of the game. Big plays haven’t been hard to come by for Williams, who leads the NFL in yards per reception at 20.5. However touchdowns have, as he’s still yet to find the end zone this year. I am going to keep chasing that positive regression in NFL DFS tournaments at his cheap price tag, though this isn’t an easy spot. Jacksonville has allowed the 10th-fewest fantasy points per target to opposing wideouts and just held Mike Evans to four catches for 53 yards on 11 targets last week.

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Tight end Hunter Henry had an awful game last week, catching just two passes for 10 yards. Henry has been fantastic prior to this game, so I’m not worried, and the Jaguars have actually allowed a 70 percent catch rate to opposing tight ends this season. Keep firing Henry up as a top-six tight end option.

Chargers running game

After a slow start, Melvin Gordon is picking up steam. He’s averaged at least 4.9 yards per carry in each of the last three games and over the last four weeks, Gordon is averaging a strong 21.3 touches per game, while touching the football on nearly 48% of his snaps. He now gets an elite matchup against the Jaguars, who allowed four 100-yard rushers over their last four games. They are coughing up 5.1 yards per carry, the second-worst mark in the league, as well as the seventh-most fantasy points per game to opposing backfields. And over the last four weeks, they have allowed a whopping 638 rushing yards and seven rushing touchdowns, and they have allowed four different teams to run for over 200 yards against them this season.

The loss of defensive tackle Marcell Dareus has been huge. Per The QuantEdge, opponents are sporting a 56.1 percent run success rate with him off the field, compared to 49.5 percent with him available. Teams are also averaging 5.7 yards per carry with Dareus off the field. Gordon is one of my favorite running back plays on the NFL DFS slate.

Austin Ekeler will continue to be as efficient as any running back in the NFL, as his 6.3 yards per touch are fourth-best in the league. Over the last four weeks, he is averaging 11.3 touches per game, which isn’t a lot but given his efficiency, is enough to warrant low-end RB2 consideration in PPR leagues. And with how bad the Jags have been against the run, Ekeler could easily break one, too.

Jaguars passing game

Minshew Mania is back, as Gardner Minshew will once again start for the Jaguars. As fun as he’s been to watch this year, I don’t have much interest, as he’s a little too expensive on DraftKings, while there are better streaming candidates to choose from in seasonal leagues. Over the last six weeks, the Chargers are allowing the second-fewest fantasy points per pass attempt (0.34) and now they have both of their starting safeties back.

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D.J. Chark has struggled over the last two weeks, hauling in just seven passes for 85 yards and zero touchdowns. This is still an immense talent with plenty of big play upside, as he is third in the league in deep targets (24) and sixth in end zone targets (9). With a more aggressive Minshew under center, perhaps we see him get back to his big games, though a matchup with Casey Hayward isn’t ideal. Yes, Hayward struggled with Courtland Sutton last week, but this guy has been a top-five coverage corner more often than not, keeping Chark in the low-end WR2 range for NFL DFS.

Meanwhile, Dede Westbrook has been targeted 17 times over the last two weeks, though he’ll also see a tough matchup with Desmond King in the slot. I don’t see a ton of upside here, as the Jaguars have allowed just one wide receiver to reach the 100-yard mark against them all year long, but Westbrook should be able to provide you with a decent floor in PPR formats.

Jaguars running game

Despite being in consecutive awful game scripts, Leonard Fournette has still touched the ball 32 and 23 times, largely due to back-to-back nine-catch games. That has been the story all year long for Fournette– his uptick in passing work. Fournette is third among all running backs in receptions (65) and second in targets (81), while only Christian McCaffrey has run more routes at the position than Fournette’s 389. Look for the volume to continue this week, as opposing offenses are running the ball 46 percent of the time against the Chargers this season, the fifth-highest rate in football. I’m not entirely sure why, but Fournette’s price remains below $8,000 on DraftKings, making him one of the top plays of the slate.

Pittsburgh Steelers @ Arizona Cardinals

Total: 43.5

Line: PIT -3

Steelers passing game

The matchup is more than ideal but I’m going to have a hard time playing Devlin Hodges this week. Yes, the Cardinals are coughing up the second-most fantasy points per pass attempt (0.59) and most fantasy points per game (25.2) to opposing quarterbacks this season. However, Hodges has attempted 20 and 21 passes in his two starts this season, as the Steelers continue to rely on their defense and running game, especially with all of their injuries. At $5,900 on DraftKings, Hodges is far too expensive for my liking with regard to NFL DFS. And in seasonal leagues, I highly doubt you have to go to him.

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It looks like JuJu Smith-Schuster is set to miss another game for the Steelers, setting up both James Washington and Diontae Johnson for plenty of work. Over the last two weeks, Washington has played 75 percent of the snaps, while Johnson has played 66 percent. Washington has had consecutive strong outings, posting stat lines of 4-111-1 and 3-98-1, while also averaging 3.94 yards per route run during that span, the fourth-highest rate in football.

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Hodges has been much better than Mason Rudolph, and more aggressive, too, as 14.8 percent of his pass attempts have traveled 20 yards or more this season. Washington has also been priced up around the industry, making me second guess, though the upside is still clearly there, especially against a Cardinals defense that has allowed 60 pass plays of 20 yards or more this season, the most in the NFL. He remains in play as a boom-or-bust WR3, while Johnson is the more intriguing NFL DFS option because he has run six fewer routes over the last two weeks and is much cheaper.

It may cost me, but I will be fading Vance McDonald on DraftKings this week. Yes, I understand the tight end flow chart against Arizona but I am not willing to pay $4,300 for a tight end that hasn’t been very involved this year. His 13.2 percent target share is 23rd among all tight ends and has found the end zone just once over his last nine games. Sure, he could easily score against a Cardinals defense allowing a league-high 13 touchdowns to opposing tight ends, and he’s a fine streaming play for that reason. But at that elevated NFL DFS price tag, I am out.

Steelers running game

James Conner does not look ready to return to action this week, which means Benny Snell is worth a look as a flex or low-end RB2 again. After getting the start and 21 carries back in Week 12, Snell didn’t start last week but eventually took over as Pittsburgh’s lead back, finishing with 16 carries for 63 yards and a touchdown. He now has 37 carries over the last two weeks, though his pass-catching upside is extremely limited, as he’s run just nine pass routes over the last two games. Still, he should be able to get 15-20 carries again, as opposing offenses are averaging 68.4 plays per game against the Cardinals this season, the most in the NFL.

Cardinals passing game

It was a day to forget last week for Kyler Murray, as the rookie quarterback completed 19-of-34 passes for 163 yards, zero touchdowns and an interception. He added a rushing touchdown. Things won’t get much easier this week, as the Steelers and their red hot defense come to town. Pittsburgh is pressuring opposing signal callers at the second-highest rate in the NFL this year (29.2%) and over the last four weeks, the Steelers are coughing up the second-fewest fantasy points per game to opposing passers (11.02). Pittsburgh also blitzes at the sixth-highest rate in the league (32.8 percent), which doesn’t bode well for Murray, who is sporting the league’s fourth-worst passer rating against the blitz (63.2). Murray has six different games without a touchdown this season, making him someone I’m not willing to trust in the opening round of my fantasy playoffs, especially in a bad matchup.

Over the last four weeks, Christian Kirk has one huge game sandwiched between three awful ones. Of course, the six-catch, 138-yard, three-touchdown performance against Tampa Bay stands out but outside of that, he has stat lines of 3-23, 6-41 and 2-8 over his last four. Because Murray has been inconsistent, so has Kirk, who is 48th among all wide receivers in fantasy points per pass route (0.42) and 74th in fantasy points per target (1.58). Over the last four weeks, the Steelers have been a top-five pass defense and rarely surrender big passing plays, making Kirk a risky NFL DFS play this weekend.

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Larry Fitzgerald, meanwhile, has been better lately but still lacks a ceiling. He’s 57th in the league in yards per target (7.8), while seeing just 10 deep targets all year long. Fitzgerald does get the best matchup of the Arizona pass-catchers, as he lines up in the slot over 89 percent of the time, while Pittsburgh is coughing up a league-worst 27.8 fantasy points per game to the slot this season, according to Pro Football Focus. Nickel corner Mike Hilton is allowing 0.47 fantasy points per target on the year, one of the worst rates on the slate.

Cardinals running game

Kenyan Drake remains the lead back in this offense. Last week, with all three backs active, Drake led the way with an 80 percent snap rate and 15 touches. David Johnson played just 23 percent of the snaps and touched the ball six times, while Chase Edmonds was active but never took the field. It is possible that Edmonds actually takes the field this week, which would make this a three-way committee, the devil when it comes to fantasy football. And the matchup is bad, too, as the Steelers have allowed just one rushing touchdown over the last four weeks and the fewest rushing scores per game on the season (0.4).

Tennessee Titans @ Oakland Raiders

Total: 47.5

Line: TEN -2.5

Titans passing game

There is honestly nothing to not like about Ryan Tannehill right now. Since he took over as the starting quarterback, Tannehill is fourth among all quarterbacks in fantasy points per game (21.1), while only Lamar Jackson is averaging more fantasy points per dropback on the season (0.66). The Titans also lead the NFL in red zone touchdown percentage since Tannehill became the starter and per Pat Thorman of Establish The Run, the Titans have nearly doubled their no-huddle rate with Tannehill under center. He has scored multiple touchdowns in six consecutive games and is in a great spot to keep it going, as he faces the Raiders, who are allowing a 6.7 percent passing touchdown rate on the season, the second-highest rate in the league.

Tannehill is first among qualified passers in yards per attempt off play-action (12.4), while Oakland is surrendering 10.1 yards per attempt off the play type this year, the fifth-worst mark in the league. With the Raiders also ranking 30th in pressure rate (18.1 percent), Tannehill should have time to make plays down the field against a defense surrendering the second-highest average depth of target in the NFL (9.8).

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Deciding which receiver to play from the Titans is a bit trickier. A.J. Brown is always my preferred option, as he’s the most explosive player, averaging 8.4 yards after the catch per reception this year, the highest mark among all wide receivers on the season. However, his NFL DFS price is getting up there and Tannehill has been spreading the ball around quite a bit. The matchup is obviously favorable, as the Raiders are allowing the fourth-most yards after the catch in all of football, as well as the second-most yards per completion (12.2). And although he has been awful from a fantasy perspective, we might have to consider Corey Davis at just $3,900 if Adam Humphries sits out. The veteran slot man has missed the last two practices with an ankle injury.

Titans running game

It’s the most wonderful time of the year and I’m not talking about Christmas. No, I’m talking about the late-season surge that we see from Derrick Henry every season where he just dominates. Over the last three weeks, Henry has accumulated 496 rushing yards and five touchdowns on 68 carries. The lead back in a run-first offense, Henry is now third in the league in carries (232) and fourth in opportunity share (82 percent). The Raiders have been better against the run this season and Henry’s price has now skyrocketed over $8,000 on DraftKings, making him a tougher sell, especially since he still isn’t catching a ton of passes. But I still don’t see this improved Oakland run defense shutting him down completely.

Raiders passing game

Derek Carr is coming off a brutal game in Arrowhead where he typically struggles. He threw for 222 yards, two awful interceptions and one touchdown that came with 30 seconds left of a blowout contest. In a below average matchup, it is tough to get excited about Carr, as the Raiders are content with just establishing the hell out of the run. They are calling pass just 54.4 percent of the time, the seventh-lowest rate in the league. The only case I can make for Carr for NFL DFS in Week 14 is that he’s $5,000 on DraftKings.

It was great to see Darren Waller finally have another good game last week, catching seven of nine targets for 100 yards. It was his third 100-yard game of the year, as Waller benefited from the absence of slot receiver Hunter Renfrow, who operates in the same area of the field as Waller. The breakout tight end is third at his position in targets (87), deep targets (eight) and target share (24 percent), while also ranking inside the top eight in yards per catch (12.2), yards per target (9.3) and yards per pass route (2.81).

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The only knock has been his lack of red zone usage, as Waller hasn’t scored a touchdown since Week 8 but you still can’t complain about the production he’s given you, especially since he was likely picked up off waivers. Tennessee, meanwhile, just allowed 76 yards and a touchdown to Jack Doyle last week and are now allowing the seventh-most fantasy points (10.9) and fourth-most touchdowns (0.5) to opposing tight ends.

Tyrell Williams has fallen off a cliff lately. Since Week 9, Williams is the WR62 in fantasy with just three end zone targets during that span. On the bright side, the Titans will be without their top two corners in Malcolm Butler and Adoree’ Jackson for this game but it’ll be hard to trust him in the opening round of the playoffs.

Raiders running game

Josh Jacobs has apparently been playing with a fractured shoulder and has now missed practice both Wednesday and Thursday. Jacobs has been limited in practice since Week 7 but still active and full-go come Sunday but it appears he could actually be in jeopardy of missing some action this week. If he suits up, you continue starting him as a high-end RB2, as the Raiders are feeding him the rock, calling run at the seventh-highest rate in the league. Tennessee is allowing 4.0 yards per carry, the seventh-best mark in football, as well as 102 rushing yards per game, the 10th-fewest, making a banged up Jacobs a mediocre daily play this week. If he can’t play, Oakland would likely start DeAndre Washington and mix him in with Jalen Richard on most passing downs.

Kansas City Chiefs @ New England Patriots

Total: 49

Line: NE -3

Chiefs passing game

I was expecting a huge game from Patrick Mahomes last week but a combination of bad weather and bad opponent kept him from reaching his full potential. Now he heads to Foxboro to take on the league’s top pass defense and while some may contemplate sitting him, I’m not. He’s too good and he’s had success against this defense so far in his career. I actually really like Mahomes in NFL DFS tournaments because when the Patriots have gotten beat through the air, it’s been deep down the field.

New England is allowing the fourth-highest average depth of target in the league (9.3). Mahomes, meanwhile, is third in the NFL in intended air yards per pass attempt (9.5). I think he goes right at this Patriots defense and could have a way bigger game than many are expecting, especially since the speed that Kansas City has on their offense could cause problems for New England’s man coverage scheme. Keep him in your lineups.

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Tyreek Hill didn’t have to do much last week and now gets a tougher matchup. However, the Mahomes/Hill stack is my favorite GPP combo of the week, especially because Hill isn’t going to be followed around the field by Stephon Gilmore, who hasn’t shadowed him in any of their meetings. And even if he does occasionally see him in coverage, Hill’s speed is unmatched and Gilmore is a bigger corner.

Perhaps the Patriots but Gilmore on tight end Travis Kelce, especially after head coach Bill Belichick was talking him up earlier in the week. Kelce has reached the 60-yard mark in every game this season and the 80-yard mark six times, serving as a model of consistency at the tight end position. Still, he has two touchdowns in five career games against the Patriots, going over 40 receiving yards just twice. DraftKings priced him all the way down to $6,200 but it appears that he is the player Belichick looks to take away when these teams meet. That likely inhibits his NFL DFS value, regardless of price.

Chiefs running game

Surprise, surprise. The Kansas City backfield remains messy. Darrel Williams is now on injured reserve, while Damien Williams still isn’t practicing with a rib injury. If he were to sit, that would leave the Chiefs with LeSean McCoy, Darwin Thompson and recently signed Spencer Ware. Thompson got 11 carries last week, all of which came with the Chiefs up 28 points, but he looked like the most explosive back we’ve seen out of Kansas City all year long. The Patriots have allowed just two rushing touchdowns this season but if Williams sits, Thompson will likely have Darrel’s role of last week, which is plenty of pass-catching work in a very good offense. McCoy, meanwhile, will still likely be limited to 12 or so touches, regardless of who is in or out, making him nothing more than a flex play at best.

Patriots passing game

Tom Brady’s final numbers looked solid last week but we have once again reached the point of the season where we question how much he has left. He is averaging 6.7 yards per pass attempt, a career-low, as the Patriots are really lacking a big play receiver on the perimeter. And since Week 6, he is completing less than 60 percent of his passes with just eight total touchdown passes. New England’s offense as a whole has been below average, as they are averaging 5.1 yards per play, the ninth-lowest mark in football. This is an okay matchup against the Chiefs, who are allowing the 12th-most fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks and the 14th-most fantasy points per pass attempt.

This offense is running through Julian Edelman at the moment, who has now seen double-digit targets in each of his last seven games, operating as the clear top option in this New England passing game. Sporting the sixth-highest target share in football (26.7%), Edelman should remain plenty involved against the Chiefs this week, a team allowing the 21.2 fantasy points per game to the slot this year, according to Pro Football Focus, the seventh-most in the league. Edelman is also quietly leading the NFL with 18 red zone targets, too, making him a top-tier receiver play for the NFL DFS week.

Patriots running game

James White went ballistic last Sunday night, rushing 14 times for 79 yards, adding eight receptions for 98 yards and two touchdowns. Most of it came with the Patriots chasing points throughout the second half but with the lack of pass-catchers in this offense, New England needs White to remain a factor. He actually trails Edelman for the league-lead with 17 red zone targets of his own. White has been a very consistent PPR back, finishing as a top-30 option in all but one game this season. He’s in another good spot this week, facing a Chiefs defense that is allowing the second-most red zone drives in the league this year, as well as the seventh-most receptions (5.9) and second-most receiving yards (63.6) per game to opposing backfields.

It is hard to project how much work Sony Michel will get in a given week but this seems like a spot for him for NFL DFS. We’ve seen teams beat the Chiefs this year by running the football and keeping their offense on the sidelines. That could happen with Michel this week and if he gets the work, he could have a very strong game, as Kansas City is stuffing just 12 percent of carries at the line of scrimmage this year, tied for the lowest rate in the league. The Chiefs are also allowing the most total yards per game to opposing running backs, as well as the second-most fantasy points per game to opposing backfields.

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