You know that targeting the highest scoring games and particularly the teams with the highest implied totals makes sense in fantasy football. This analysis will highlight exactly which situations are the best to take advantage of and which you might want to avoid within those games. We’ll also highlight a couple games to use caution with as well as some less obvious targets. All betting lines are courtesy of Westgate Sportsbook.
The high scoring games:
Tampa Bay at Jacksonville, Total 49
Expect a boom week for Jaguars ownership, as everyone knows that the Bucs are the league’s best passing matchup. Allowing the most fantasy points to wide receivers and second-most to QB and TE, the Bucs find themselves in this article quite a bit. Of course, their offense is scoring the third-most points per game thanks to the second and third best wide receivers in the league. In a game full of inconsistencies, more of which we’ll get to, the Bucs also lead the league in turnovers and allow Jameis Winston to be sacked sixth-most in the league. Jacksonville is firmly a middle-of-the-road defense, slightly more run-friendly than pass-friendly, but not a concern for the Bucs stars. On the other hand, we’ll use some caution with Leonard Fournette, because even though the Buccaneers allow the second-most points per game, they are a nightmare for opposing backs, giving up the second-fewest fantasy points to the position.
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Nick Foles is priced for the matchup more than his demonstrated ability, and for me isn’t a must play. The Jaguars have lost both of the games Foles has started since returning from his prolonged shoulder injury, and though he has attempted nearly 50 passes per game and completed 68 percent of them, hasn’t surpassed 300 yards and has thrown only two touchdowns with one interception. He could certainly break through here, as so many have before him, so regard Foles as a tournament play for sure.
If you’re into stacking, good luck. D.J. Chark, Dede Westbrook and Chris Conley are eerily similar since Foles’ return. All have over 100 receiving yards in the last two games, on between 10 and 13 catches. Chark stands out for the two touchdowns and leads the gang with two red zone targets. He’d be the cash game option for the Jags, while Westbrook (cheapest on FanDuel) and Conley (cheapest on DraftKings) deserve tournament consideration.
As for Tampa Bay, Chris Godwin isn’t the most expensive option and Mike Evans is a downright bargain this week as the fourth or fifth most expensive option. Either or both are playable in any format in this neutral matchup. Give Ronald Jones Jr. a chance in a GPP lineup with Jameis Winston, who continues to not be a terrible value despite the turnovers and sacks. Jones has seemingly not yet won the war at running back, but he is winning battle after battle with Peyton Barber in terms of YPC, targets, and touchdown opportunities.
Oakland at Kansas City, Total 51.5
The Chiefs have the highest team total of the week, which means we’re back to Patrick Mahomes being a stone lock as cash game QB for Week 13. Just do it. Tyreek Hill is currently listed as questionable, and as the most expensive receiver the team’s optimism about his playing may not be enough for me to lock him in over the place. He had the bye week to recover and it wasn’t a severe hamstring pull to begin with. Still, at this price, I’m using him in GPPs only. It was Demarcus Robinson who had the huge day against Oakland in the wake of Hill’s collarbone injury (2 ReTDs, 176 yards on six catches). The superstitious might go back to him here, but logic says that he hasn’t matched that production in all his other games combined, and that he won’t match it in Week 13. This is really not a great WR stacking situation and my favorite way to play it, unfortunately, is to pay up for Mahomes and Travis Kelce. You’re continuing to avoid the running backs for KC, as Damien Williams gets the most touches, but both LeSean McCoy and Darrell Williams have scored in the last two weeks.
This game sets up as a great game stack for Week 13 (more later in the week on this). Derek Carr can be considered a tournament target at a very reasonable salary this weekend, while Josh Jacobs, Tyrell Williams, and Darren Waller can find themselves in cash game consideration. Kansas City is the best PPR fantasy matchup for running backs, and they rank sixth vs. tight ends. Williams has been one of the more consistent wide receivers, and in a game where I expect Carr to have to throw a lot to try to keep up with Mahomes and Co., Williams and Waller should see double-digit targets.
The low scoring games:
LA Chargers at Denver, Total 38.5
Denver is scoring the fourth-fewest points per game (15.9), and the Chargers aren’t much better, sandwiched between the Raiders and Giants with about 20 points per game. The Denver D/ST is one of my favorites this week, given that the Broncos allow the ninth-fewest points per game, and LA turns the ball over at a high rate (20 turnovers, T-fifth most). They are bargain material. I’m not into the Denver offense when there are so many quality games to choose from.
If you go another way with defense, I think that Austin Ekeler and Melvin Gordon are both interesting tournament plays and the best chance LA has to keep drives alive vs. this stifling pass defense. Keenan Allen and Hunter Henry are risk/reward options at reasonable price points. The Chargers D/ST has been something of a disappointment for fantasy this season, and are on the road here, but Denver’s conservative and ineffective offense, combined with their fifth-highest QB sack rate makes them playable this Sunday.
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Cleveland at Pittsburgh, Total 39.5
Pittsburgh’s defense had all the momentum this season, until they ran into the Browns in Week 11. The Browns won that game, and the Steelers D/ST was a failure fantasy-wise, but they bounced back in Week 13 with four sacks and two turnovers vs. the Bengals (who else?). The Steelers now rank second in takeaways this season and third in both sacks per game and sack percentage. The game is home at Pittsburgh and I think we see a very different script this weekend. Bad blood aside, though I don’t guarantee Mike Tomlin can force his guys to take the high road, I think the Steelers actually win this game.
How to handle such a low scoring affair? I’d absolutely be willing to roster the Pittsburgh D/ST at their reduced cost; in addition to the stats I mentioned, they’ve had double-digit fantasy points in eight of their nine most recent games. Cleveland players make for a contrarian tournament stack, coming off the game we’ve been waiting for all season but this could be so low scoring that it might not be worth considering them in cash.
On the Steelers side, Hodges and James Washington seem to have a nice connection going, but big plays aren’t reliable or predictive in this game. JuJu Smith-Schuster and James Conner are questionable, Vance McDonald is a non-factor, and that pretty much leaves Benny Snell. I don’t love Snell at his inflated price and worry that his 11-ish fantasy points vs. the Bengals on 21 carries is pretty much his ceiling. Bottom line: Steelers D, and maybe a Hodges-Washington mini-stack if Juju is out.
High team totals you might miss:
Philadelphia at Miami, Total 46
The Eagles’ D/ST is the one most people will be on, despite their high price tag. In the last four games they’ve allowed no more than 17 real points while recording 14 sacks, now ranking ninth-best in sack percentage. That’s a dream stat when combined with Miami’s No. 1 ranking in sacks taken per game. Miami is also a Top 10 matchup for QB, WR and RB, with the best matchup for running backs. If you’re a sane, logical person who doesn’t get bitter from disappointment after disappointment, you could certainly roster Carson Wentz this week, but I am so out on him after last week. Zach Ertz is the only Eagle I’ll rely on, as I’ve also come to terms with the fact that no Eagles running back can be trusted. Even with Jordan Howard out, Miles Sanders has failed to live up to the hype and Howard is probably going to be back this week. If forced to use one, and Howard is back, it’s him.
Davante Parker and Ryan Fitzpatrick are connecting pretty consistently if you’re looking to go in a very different direction in GPPs. Together, they hardly put a dent in your salary cap and are the best bet to score against a Philly D that has been much more generous to receivers than running backs this season.
Washington at Carolina, Total 40
If you consider Christian McCaffrey a must play, and he pretty much is, your cash lineup is pretty strapped at this point. On FanDuel, with Mahomes, Kelce and McCaffrey, you’re down to $5500 per player. On DraftKings, it’s $4150. We’ll address this in the bargains article out Wednesday. D.J. Moore is coming off an amazing game, but shouldn’t be counted on as a guaranteed repeat even with a nice team total here. Although his previous production was fine when he was in the $5K range, now he’s at $6800 on both sites, and I’m out. It could be a buy-low time for Curtis Samuel, who has been on the downward slope the last two games. Overall, it’s safest to go with McCaffrey alone, then McCaffrey with Kyle Allen, and only consider Samuel or Moore in tournament lineups. Panthers D/ST is in play here given that Washington is still the lowest scoring team in the league and rank fourth in sack percentage. Carolina racks up the sacks on defense at the second-highest rate, behind only San Francisco.