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USATSI

Fantasy Football is all about the matchups. Even though you drafted your team with certain hopes and intentions, your weekly lineup decisions shouldn't be determined by the order you picked your players in. You need to check who your players play and make sure you've got the right guys in -- and the wrong guys out.

It's too early to be absolutely sure on which matchups will be easy and which ones will be tough, but we can take some educated guesses based on healthy personnel, defensive schemes, track records and key details of offenses. The things we know can help us minimize the impact of the things we don't know. This should lead to better decisions being made.

We'll go through every game and highlight the players who aren't obvious starts and sits (because you don't need to be told to start Justin Jefferson). You should feel more comfortable starting or sitting players based on the information given, and feeling comfortable with your Fantasy lineup before the games start is the best feeling in the world.  

All lines from Caesars Sportsbook.

Start 'em
10.0-7.00
6.99 - 5.01
5.00 - 0
Sit 'em
Thu, Dec 22 at 8:15 pm ET •
NYJ -1.5, O/U 36.5
Possible Bust (Lineup Decisions)
Projections powered by Sportsline
ARI Arizona • #12
Age: 29 • Experience: 8 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
@ NYJ NYJ -1.5 O/U 36.5
OPP VS WR
2nd
PROJ PTS
12.2
WR RNK
23rd
YTD Stats
REC
74
TAR
106
REYDS
764
TD
5
FPTS/G
14.2
Jones has been the leading target-getter among Jaguars receivers, and he looked like a No. 1 receiver last week against the Cowboys, but he faces another tough matchup in what's expected to be bad weather on Thursday. I don't doubt Jones' chances to pick up short throws, but don't expect many splash plays. He should finish as a No. 3 receiver in PPR and a borderline bench guy in non-PPR -- and much higher if the wind and rain subside.

Dave's Notebook:

  • WEATHER: Forecast calls for rain with "potential for heavy rainfall" and winds between 10 to 20 miles per hour. Heavy winds (figure 15 miles per hour or more) will impact the kicking game and passes beyond 20 Air Yards. Heavy rain creates a slicker playing surface and a slippery ball, but also impacts visibility. Both heavy winds and rain will impact how teams call their plays. Please be prepared to make lineup decisions based on the weather before kickoff on Thursday. 
  • LAST WEEK: Turned eight targets into an outrageous 6-109-3 stat line. Jones ran excellent routes and exploded after the catch a number of times, making him a problem for cornerbacks to tackle. He even beat Trevon Diggs on a route that set up the game-tying field goal in regulation. Honestly, he played like a stud No. 1 receiver. Not dropping any passes helped.
  • PAST FIVE GAMES: Has seen at least eight targets four times, has caught at least six balls four times, has scored at least 14 PPR points four times and has been lining up out wide consistently (has seen three targets from the slot). It's worth noting Jones has averaged below 10.0 yards per catch three times and has been targeted beyond 16 Air Yards 10 times on the 51 targets he's seen in this span.
  • JETS VS OUTSIDE WRs: Have done very well against receivers lined up out wide all season, ranking top-five in 20-plus-yard completions allowed (eight), catch rate allowed (54.1%) and YAC/reception allowed (2.75), plus they're top-10 in yards per catch allowed (12.0) and missed tackles allowed (seven), all while seeing the farthest ADOT against (14.76). They're equally dominant specifically versus perimeter receivers on targets inside of 15 Air Yards.
Possible Bust (Lineup Decisions)
Projections powered by Sportsline
JAC Jacksonville • #13
Age: 27 • Experience: 7 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
@ NYJ NYJ -1.5 O/U 36.5
OPP VS WR
2nd
PROJ PTS
13.1
WR RNK
20th
YTD Stats
REC
73
TAR
116
REYDS
966
TD
7
FPTS/G
15.1
The matchup is good but Kirk's role in the offense seems to be shrinking. Tack on the weather being a significant factor and Kirk should be downgraded to a No. 3 receiver who may be able to hit around 13 PPR points. Obviously if the wind and rain isn't an issue then Kirk can work as a low-end No. 2 wideout.

Dave's Notebook:

  • WEATHER: Forecast calls for rain with "potential for heavy rainfall" and winds between 10 to 20 miles per hour. Heavy winds (figure 15 miles per hour or more) will impact the kicking game and passes beyond 20 Air Yards. Heavy rain creates a slicker playing surface and a slippery ball, but also impacts visibility. Both heavy winds and rain will impact how teams call their plays. Please be prepared to make lineup decisions based on the weather before kickoff on Thursday. 
  • PAST THREE WEEKS: Kirk has been overshadowed by Zay Jones and Evan Engram. Kirk has finished third in target share and has caught only one more pass than Jones (seven fewer than Engram!) and has no touchdowns. Specifically on throws inside of 15 Air Yards, Engram's target share has been 32.9%, Jones' has been 20.3% and Kirk's has been 15.2%! 
  • KIRK: Fortunately has still notched at least 15 PPR points in two of the three games. 
  • JETS VS SLOT WRs: Have struggled here, particularly on throws inside of 15 Air Yards. On the season they rank about league average in catch rate allowed (77.8%) but are bottom-10 in yards per catch (9.59) and YAC/reception (5.25). They rank similarly in their past four games, too. Offenses are finding the matchups easier away from their outside cornerbacks. 
Flex Starter (Lineup Decisions)
Projections powered by Sportsline
DET Detroit • #27
Age: 23 • Experience: 3 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
vs JAC NYJ -1.5 O/U 36.5
OPP VS RB
24th
PROJ PTS
12.7
RB RNK
29th
YTD Stats
RUYDS
253
REC
10
REYDS
68
TD
1
FPTS/G
12
Knight makes me nervous. Jets running backs not named Breece Hall have mostly struggled with Zach Wilson on the field, and Knight's matchup isn't as juicy as it seems. But it's the bad weather that could force the Jets to lean on Knight, though the Jaguars would know it and plan accordingly. I would sit Knight in favor of A.J. Dillon, Latavius Murray, Raheem Mostert and Leonard Fournette, but he has appeal over lesser backs like Cam Akers, the Lions RBs and the Commanders RBs.

Dave's Notebook:

  • WEATHER: Forecast calls for rain with "potential for heavy rainfall" and winds between 10 to 20 miles per hour. Heavy winds (figure 15 miles per hour or more) will impact the kicking game and passes beyond 20 Air Yards. Heavy rain creates a slicker playing surface and a slippery ball, but also impacts visibility. Both heavy winds and rain will impact how teams call their plays. Please be prepared to make lineup decisions based on the weather before kickoff on Thursday. 
  • LAST WEEK: Knight was completely flummoxed on the ground against Detroit, averaging lower than 2.0 yards per catch and not even seeing one target from Wilson. He saw eight defenders in the box on a whopping 38.5% of his runs! 
  • JETS RBs: Collectively are much more efficient without Zach Wilson on the field (4.9 yards per rush, 36.2% of runs gain five-plus yards) than with Wilson on the field (4.1 yards per rush, 30.9% of runs gain five-plus yards). 
  • JETS RBs: Wilson's season-long 17.6% target rate to running backs ranks 22nd among qualifying quarterbacks. He didn't target Knight once last week and only "targeted" Michael Carter on a pass because he chucked up a wounded duck when under pressure and Carter caught it. 
  • JAGUARS: Have allowed 4.2 yards per rush to running backs in their past four games with five rushing touchdowns, including at least one score in four straight. But dig deeper -- their past four have been against the Ravens, Lions, Titans and Cowboys -- strong running teams -- and their rushing average allowed is pushed up by a 50-yard Derrick Henry run. 
Start 'em
10.0-7.00
6.99 - 5.01
5.00 - 0
Sit 'em
Sat, Dec 24 at 1:00 pm ET •
CHI +9.5, O/U 40.5
Sneaky Sleeper (Lineup Decisions)
Projections powered by Sportsline
NYG N.Y. Giants • #26
Age: 26 • Experience: 6 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
@ CHI BUF -9.5 O/U 40.5
OPP VS RB
25th
PROJ PTS
11.2
RB RNK
28th
YTD Stats
RUYDS
684
REC
35
REYDS
258
TD
5
FPTS/G
11.1
If the weather isn't bad, Singletary is a modest flex. If the weather makes it really hard to pass, Singletary improves to a low-end No. 2 Fantasy running back because of the favorable matchup. I'd plan on starting him over Zonovan Knight, both Lions RBs, both Commanders RBs and both Panthers RBs.

Dave's Notebook:

  • WEATHER: Winds in the neighborhood or 20-plus miles per hour are expected with gusts into the 30s and 40s. It will also be single-digit degrees, but there's little chance of rain or snow. Please be prepared to make lineup decisions based on the weather before kickoff on Saturday. 
  • LAST WEEK: Singletary's snaps ticked up to 60% after being below 50% in each of the two weeks prior. He had 16 touches including three catches and would have scored very late if not for Buffalo coaches telling him to slide short of the end zone. Weather and game script definitely played a part in Singletary's usage. 
  • PAST FOUR: Has scored once in that span and has touched the ball at least 15 times only twice. 
  • BEARS: Statistically have been league average in run defense across the board since trading Roquan Smith, though their 4.6 yards per rush average is a notch worse than the median. They also rank sixth-worst in tackles missed (30) since the Smith trade. They also lost Smith's replacement, Jack Sanborn, to injury last week. Veteran Joe Thomas, who has missed 24.1% of his tackle attempts this year according to Pro Football Focus, will take his place.
  • BEARS: Have given up a rushing touchdown to a RB in all but four games this season. That's kinda notable. 
  • EIGHT IN THE BOX: In six games since trading Smith, the Bears rank fifth-worst in yards per carry (4.4) and fourth-worst in yards before contact (1.76) allowed when loading up to stop the run. Singletary might see more of that kind of attention if the winds are bad in Chicago, but on the season he ranks 13th-best among qualifying running backs in yards per carry (4.1), and is top-15 in both yards before contact (1.2) and yards after contact (3.3) against the stack. 
Sit Him (Lineup Decisions)
Projections powered by Sportsline
JAC Jacksonville
Age: 25 • Experience: 5 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
@ CHI BUF -9.5 O/U 40.5
OPP VS WR
16th
PROJ PTS
10.5
WR RNK
34th
YTD Stats
REC
42
TAR
77
REYDS
752
TD
6
FPTS/G
11.8
Windy weather would cement Davis as an extremely risky Fantasy receiver. Even without the wind he hasn't been great. The Bills may be able to stroll through this matchup without taking crazy chances with the football, plus it feels like Allen has gravitated toward others in the passing game compared to Davis. I'd rather start Darius Slayton, Jahan Dotson and Drake London.

Dave's Notebook:

  • WEATHER: Winds in the neighborhood or 20-plus miles per hour are expected with gusts into the 30s and 40s. It will also be single-digit degrees, but there's little chance of rain or snow. Please be prepared to make lineup decisions based on the weather before kickoff on Saturday. 
  • DAVIS: Has had 11 or fewer PPR points in five straight games and less than 10 PPR points in four straight. 
  • PAST FIVE: Davis' target share has begun fading with a rate below 16% in three of his past four. In the two of his past five where Davis did see a sparkling target share (over 20%), he caught a total of 7 of 14 targets and a fortuitious touchdown on a busted play. His route depth remains deeper than most outside receivers, which hasn't consistently meshed with Josh Allen's newfound affinity for shorter throws. 
  • BEARS: Stink against everything defensively, including versus outside receivers. No team gives up a higher receiving average to WRs who line up wide (15.4 yards per catch) and only one team gives up more than the 4.92 YAC/reception they have this year. But the Bears have allowed just five touchdowns to outside receivers in 2022, none in their past two. 
Start 'em
10.0-7.00
6.99 - 5.01
5.00 - 0
Sit 'em
Sat, Dec 24 at 1:00 pm ET •
CLE -2.5, O/U 32.5
Sit Him (Lineup Decisions)
Projections powered by Sportsline
NO New Orleans • #12
Age: 24 • Experience: 3 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
@ CLE CLE -2.5 O/U 32.5
OPP VS WR
11th
PROJ PTS
8.7
WR RNK
35th
YTD Stats
REC
63
TAR
102
REYDS
940
TD
3
FPTS/G
13.5
There's little reason to fear the matchup, but there's a lot to worry about with the wind. If the forecast is accurate, no one will be able to control how the football moves once it gets in the air and/or thrown downfield. That all but eliminates Olave as a deep threat. He would then have to rack up modest PPR numbers on volume, and he doesn't often get the chance to do that. The big-play threat who hasn't made many big plays lately should be benched for the likes of Darius Slayton, Jahan Dotson and Brandon Aiyuk.

Dave's Notebook:

  • WEATHER: Winds gusting over 25 miles per hour are expected along with a chance of some snow. Temperature will be in the teens. Please be prepared to make lineup decisions based on the weather before kickoff on Saturday. 
  • OLAVE: There's no complaining about his target share -- he's been above 22% in all but one game since Week 2. He still has a consistenly high ADOT. 
  • PAST 7 GAMES: Explosive plays have gone missing. Olave's caught half of the 16 targets thrown 15-plus Air Yards, but outside of a 53-yard strike against the Rams in Week 11, he's tallied 135 yards on seven such grabs. Naturally he's been much more efficient on shorter throws (23 of 30 targets caught), but only three catches went for more than 15 yards and none more than 21. 
  • BROWNS: Have been blasted for 14 touchdowns by wide receivers all year, which ranks in the bottom-10. The Browns are also bottom-10 in yards per catch allowed (13.2). Though their stats suggest they've improved lately against targets 15-plus Air Yards downfield (top-10 in catch rate and yards allowed), it's worth noting they shined against the lowly Texans and Ravens (without Lamar Jackson) in the past three weeks. 
  • SAINTS: Have averaged 32.0 pass attempts per game this season. Dalton has attempted 30 or fewer passes in seven straight. It's not a high-volume passing game. 
Sit Him (Lineup Decisions)
Projections powered by Sportsline
CLE Cleveland • #2
Age: 30 • Experience: 10 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
vs NO CLE -2.5 O/U 32.5
OPP VS WR
13th
PROJ PTS
10.5
WR RNK
31st
YTD Stats
REC
67
TAR
115
REYDS
932
TD
7
FPTS/G
14.3
Even if the conditions were picturesque, Cooper isn't a safe bet for even 10 PPR points given the past three games with Watson. Tack on blustery winds and he's completely impossible to trust. I'd chance it with Marquise Goodwin, Tyler Boyd or D.J. Chark over Cooper for this week.

Dave's Notebook:

  • WEATHER: Winds gusting over 25 miles per hour are expected along with a chance of some snow. Temperature will be in the teens. Please be prepared to make lineup decisions based on the weather before kickoff on Saturday. 
  • LAST WEEK: Played 30% of his snaps from the slot and saw all but one of his targets from there. It's the most he's played in the slot all season, and the 4-58-0 is (sadly) his best game so far with Deshaun Watson. 
  • WITH WATSON: Cooper has a 45.5% catch rate. He's seen three red-zone and four end-zone targets, catching a total of zero of them. He's seen four targets travel 15-plus Air Yards, catching a total of two of them for 34 total yards. 
  • SAINTS: In their past seven they've given up 15-plus PPR to a wideout one time -- to Jauan Jennings. Davante Adams, Diontae Johnson, Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, Chris Godwin and Mike Evans have all been held under 15 PPR points in this span. 
Start 'em
10.0-7.00
6.99 - 5.01
5.00 - 0
Sit 'em
Sat, Dec 24 at 1:00 pm ET •
BAL -7.5, O/U 37
Start Him (Lineup Decisions)
Projections powered by Sportsline
BAL Baltimore • #89
Age: 28 • Experience: 7 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
vs ATL BAL -7.5 O/U 35.5
OPP VS TE
28th
PROJ PTS
12.9
TE RNK
5th
YTD Stats
REC
61
TAR
99
REYDS
702
TD
5
FPTS/G
12.6
A perfect matchup should provide some opportunities for Andrews to finally breakthrough for at least a modest PPR game. If Lamar Jackson plays, Andrews is a no-brainer. But Fantasy managers should be willing to roll the dice even if Jackson is out because of how bad the Falcons defense has played. With Jackson, Andrews should start over everyone except Travis Kelce and Evan Engram. With Huntley, Andrews could be benched for Dawson Knox, Dalton Schultz and T.J. Hockenson, but not for Chig Okonkwo, Juwan Johnson or Noah Fant.

Dave's Notebook:

  • WEATHER: Forecast calls for moderate winds (10-to-20 miles per hour) and temperatures in the 20s. Fine otherwise. 
  • ANDREWS: Since coming back from shoulder and knee injuries in Week 11, Andrews has played five games and has been over 10 PPR points once. It just so happens the one game he was over 10 PPR points came with Lamar Jackson under center. 
  • FILM: Andrews really doesn't seem limited at all because of injuries. He's moving crisply and running routes past 10 yards fairly regularly. He's not really the problem here. 
  • WITHOUT LAMAR: In the past three games Jackson has either missed or barely played in, Andrews has led all Ravens in routes run but has caught just nine passes over 19 targets from Tyler Huntley or Anthony Brown. Huntley's been particularly off-kilter on throws to Andrews whenever he's covered -- he can hit the ones Andrews is wide open on, but those are pretty rare. 
  • WITHOUT LAMAR: The Ravens are calling pass plays 48% of the time and averaging 26.7 passes per game in the last three weeks. The volume is even lower than where it is when Jackson plays. 
  • FALCONS: Have given up at least 8.5 half-PPR points to four total tight ends in their past three games (including Taysom Hill last week). In its past five, Atlanta's yielded 13.9 yards per catch (second-worst) to tight ends with four scores. And last week Juwan Johnson found open space to haul in simple targets regularly against zone coverage. It's a dreamy matchup. 
Start 'em
10.0-7.00
6.99 - 5.01
5.00 - 0
Sit 'em
Sat, Dec 24 at 1:00 pm ET •
NE +3.5, O/U 41.5
Sneaky Sleeper (Lineup Decisions)
Projections powered by Sportsline
TEN Tennessee • #83
Age: 29 • Experience: 9 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
@ NE CIN -3.5 O/U 41.5
OPP VS WR
10th
PROJ PTS
10.4
WR RNK
41st
YTD Stats
REC
50
TAR
71
REYDS
690
TD
5
FPTS/G
10.9
I wouldn't reach for Boyd as a must-start or anything like that, but the expectation is that Bill Belichick will do what he can to limit Ja'Marr Chase from beating up his defense. It'll leave single coverage for Boyd on pretty much every play, which he gets in general, but in a game where Burrow could easily find his way to some big success, Boyd can help. He's not bad in a pinch over low-ceiling receivers impacted by weather like Gabe Davis, Amari Cooper and Donovan Peoples-Jones, and he's also better than Russell Gage, Noah Brown and Jakobi Meyers.

Dave's Notebook:

  • WEATHER: Forecast calls for moderate winds (10-to-20 miles per hour) and temperatures in the 20s. Fine otherwise. 
  • LAST WEEK: Made up for lost time from a week before and a dropped touchdown from two weeks before with a modest 5-35-1 stat line on five targets. He was part of the Bengals' furious second-half rally when they went from down 17-3 at halftime to up 27-17 early in the fourth quarter. 
  • BOYD: Works almost exclusively as the Bengals' slot receiver, playing 92% of his snaps there last week and 82.3% of his snaps from there on the season. 
  • PATRIOTS: Have allowed a 79% catch rate and 10.9 yards per catch to slot receivers over their past four games. The catch rate is fifth-worst in the span; the receiving average is about a yard better than league average. 
  • INTERESTING: Boyd has at least 10 PPR points in 6 of 8 games this season when both Ja'Marr Chase and Tee Higgins have played. 
Start 'em
10.0-7.00
6.99 - 5.01
5.00 - 0
Sit 'em
Sat, Dec 24 at 1:00 pm ET •
CAR +2.5, O/U 44.5
Sit Him (Lineup Decisions)
Projections powered by Sportsline
NO New Orleans • #21
Age: 29 • Experience: 8 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
@ CAR DET -2.5 O/U 44.5
OPP VS RB
18th
PROJ PTS
10.9
RB RNK
35th
YTD Stats
RUYDS
839
REC
9
REYDS
57
TD
14
FPTS/G
12.9
Williams feels like a safe bet to score, but even if he does he's not a lock for 10 points, PPR or not. He's a low-ceiling Fantasy running back who's suddenly caught up in a three-way timeshare. In non-PPR leagues he's flex-worthy, but I'd rather start the Buccaneers RBs, Devin Singletary or D'Andre Swift. Those guys would all start over Williams in PPR too along with Zonovan Knight and Chuba Hubbard.

Dave's Notebook:

  • WILLIAMS: Hasn't scored in two straight, but that's just the beginning of his problems. The RB has seen ONE target in his past seven games, so he's become a one-dimensional player who has rushed for under 70 yards in six of those seven. He actually has averaged 2.4 yards per carry in his past two games (29 attempts!). 
  • LIONS: Have been rotating D'Andre Swift AND Justin Jackson with Williams, creating a three-man headache to annoy Fantasy managers. Williams actually played one snap less than Jackson and six snaps fewer than Swift. 
  • PANTHERS: Kept the Seahawks and Steelers' running backs inefficient since the Week 13 bye, but the defensive unit missed 13 tackles last week and allowed a pair of rushing touchdowns to the Steelers. They might struggle to contain the Lions' running backs given how strong the O-line is. 
  • PANTHERS: Have given up eight rushing touchdowns to running backs from five yards or closer this year -- on 16 attempts. It gets worse for them: Offenses have scored five times on six rushes against the Panthers from the one- or two-yard line. Keep that in mind for your player props this week. 
Flex Starter (Lineup Decisions)
Projections powered by Sportsline
CHI Chicago • #2
Age: 27 • Experience: 7 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
vs DET DET -2.5 O/U 44.5
OPP VS WR
31st
PROJ PTS
13.9
WR RNK
27th
YTD Stats
REC
51
TAR
97
REYDS
678
TD
5
FPTS/G
11
If you start Moore, you're banking on his target share remaining at a dominant level, and you're banking on his matchup against a very bad Lions pass defense. Tack on that weather doesn't figure to be an issue, and you've got a flex receiver with a little more upside this week than Mike Evans, Diontae Johnson, Amari Cooper and Chris Olave.

Dave's Notebook:

  • LAST WEEK: Moore's 5-73-1 stat line looks amazing (especially since it's his fourth-best PPR stat line of the season), but it's a little fluky. His touchdown, while incredible, came on a busted play, and a 26-yard catch came in garbage time against prevent defense. It all counts, but it's not reliable production. 
  • MOORE: After getting a pathetic 15% target share in Week 14, he bounced back to a 31.6% share in Week 15. Sam Darnold attempted just 23 passes and has yet to attempt even 25 passes in a game this year. And he's obviously the best overall receiver in the Detroit offense. 
  • LIONS: Their pass rush has greatly increased to 39.7% in their past five games, but their pass coverage remains bottom-four in yards per catch allowed (14.2) and downfield ADOT (11.8) in those same five to wide receivers. Even with a quarterback tossing up deep lobs last week, Jets WR Garrett Wilson came down with 98 yards on four catches. 
Start 'em
10.0-7.00
6.99 - 5.01
5.00 - 0
Sit 'em
Sat, Dec 24 at 1:00 pm ET •
TEN -4, O/U 36
Sneaky Sleeper (Lineup Decisions)
Projections powered by Sportsline
DAL Dallas • #3
Age: 30 • Experience: 11 year
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
@ TEN TEN -3 O/U 35.5
OPP VS WR
32nd
PROJ PTS
4.9
WR RNK
32nd
YTD Stats
REC
44
TAR
71
REYDS
520
TD
1
FPTS/G
10.3
It's borderline impossible to trust Cooks beyond the No. 3 wide receiver range, but he's got a great matchup and he'll play this one without Nico Collins hogging targets. You might even like to know Cooks had 11 PPR points in Week 8 when Collins was out -- and it was against Tennessee. I think that's a good floor for him, and it makes him a more interesting Fantasy option than Jakobi Meyers, Marquise Brown and Allen Lazard.


Dave's Notebook:

  • COOKS: Is expected to return after missing three games with a calf injury. Before the injury he had 11 or fewer PPR points in six straight games with half of them in the single digits. Don't ask about his non-PPR totals, they've been grim. Cooks has one touchdown on the season.
  • MILLS: Has connected with Cooks for a 59.1% catch rate on an 18.1% target share when they've been on the field together (effectively nine games). Cooks has averaged 11.8 yards per catch, which is the only number in this blurb that is better than what these two accomplished in 2021. Then, Cooks had a 71.1% catch rate from Mills and a 25.7% target share. It's safe to say they're not connecting like they did last season.
  • TITANS: Rank in the bottom 10 in pretty much every pass defense metric against wide receivers this season. I'm not just talking about catch rate allowed and yards per catch, but the Titans have allowed 18 touchdowns to wide receivers and 38 completions of 20-plus yards to them too. It gets better for Cooks: 14 of those 18 touchdowns and 24 of those 38 20-plus completions have gone to outside wideouts, which is where Cooks figures to line up the most.
Start 'em
10.0-7.00
6.99 - 5.01
5.00 - 0
Sit 'em
Sat, Dec 24 at 1:00 pm ET •
MIN -4, O/U 48
Flex Starter (Lineup Decisions)
Projections powered by Sportsline
CAR Carolina • #19
Age: 33 • Experience: 11 year
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
vs NYG MIN -4 O/U 48
OPP VS WR
12th
PROJ PTS
12.5
WR RNK
32nd
YTD Stats
REC
66
TAR
95
REYDS
686
TD
5
FPTS/G
11.9
If you start Thielen, you're hoping he scores. That's basically the gist of it because he hasn't had even 75 yards in a game this season and has just five with six-plus receptions. And last week he was a complete non-factor for three and a half quarters in a game the Vikings were chasing points in. I'd sit him if the matchup were tougher, but it's not, so consider him flex-worthy. I'd start him over wideouts seriously impacted like weather (like the Saints and Browns) as well as over Diontae Johnson, Drake London and Marquise Brown.

Dave's Notebook:

  • LAST WEEK: We saw a combo of the past several weeks in one game. Thielen, who has become more of a downfield route-runner since the Vikings acquired T.J. Hockenson, was completely ghosted for the Vikings' first 52 plays! In the fourth quarter he finally got some attention from Kirk Cousins, first against soft zone coverage for a 19-yard gain, then for a touchdown from a yard out, and finally on a 21-yard gainer to help push the Vikes into position for a game-winning field goal. He wasn't a priority in the offense, but he still managed to come through for a decent stat line (3-41-1 on four targets).  
  • SINCE HOCKENSON ARRIVED IN WEEK 9: Thielen is third on the Vikings in target share (16%), catches (31) and second in yards (335) and touchdowns (3). He's seen just three end-zone targets and isn't doing much after the catch (2.61 YAC/reception). The only times he's topped 10 PPR points he's scored a touchdown. 
  • ALSO: Thielen isn't the Vikings' main slot receiver these days -- K.J. Osborn is. Last week Osborn played nearly 70% of his snaps in the slot while Thielen stayed along the perimeter. 
  • GIANTS: Since losing outside cornerback Adoree Jackson to injury, they've allowed a catch on 70.9% of targets to outside receivers along with 13.3 yards per catch and 4.21 YAC/reception. All three rank bottom-12 in the league over that span. And New York has allowed nine completions of 20-plus yards over their past four, including three last week against the Commanders. Two outside receivers have scored on the Giants in their past four also. 
Start 'em
10.0-7.00
6.99 - 5.01
5.00 - 0
Sit 'em
Sat, Dec 24 at 1:00 pm ET •
KC -10, O/U 49.5
Sneaky Sleeper (Lineup Decicision)
Projections powered by Sportsline
CLE Cleveland • #3
Age: 33 • Experience: 10 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
@ KC KC -10 O/U 49.5
OPP VS WR
28th
PROJ PTS
9.5
WR RNK
30th
YTD Stats
REC
27
TAR
38
REYDS
387
TD
4
FPTS/G
7.5
Goodwin is getting a golden opportunity against a beatable pass defense. Though he has just 17 career games with more than five targets, Goodwin has come down with at least 10 PPR points in 10 of them, including one two weeks ago. That should be a safe floor for him -- and he's got upside for way more. I'd start Goodwin over D.J. Chark, Tyler Boyd, Chris Moore and Marquise Brown.

Dave's Notebook:

  • WEATHER: Forecast calls for moderate winds (10-to-15 miles per hour) and temperatures in the teens. Fine otherwise. 
  • GOODWIN: Expected to become the Seahawks' No. 2 receiver with Tyler Lockett sidelined this week. He's reliably been among the league's shiftiest, speediest receivers, but not one who dominates competition (otherwise he would have been a premier receiver at some point since 2013 when he came into the league). 
  • GOODWIN: Is averaging 14.3 yards per catch this season with a 71.1% catch rate, both of which are excellent but come at a small sample size -- 38 targets in 12 games. He has experience lining up all over the field with Seattle, and his ADOT coming into this week sits at 10.18, which is not too far off of Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf's ADOTs. 
  • GOODWIN: Has caught 8 of 11 passes of 15-plus Air Yards this season for 179 yards and three touchdowns. 
  • GENO SMITH: Leads the NFL with a 56.6% completion rate and 14 touchdowns on pass plays of 15-plus Air Yards. 
  • CHIEFS: Be it because of defensive personnel or the nature of their games, their pass defense struggles against wide receivers. Bottom-five in Fantasy points allowed to the position, the Chiefs have allowed at least 150 receiving yards just to wideouts eight times this year (and another with 149 yards), along with over 200 yards passing five times (and another two with 198 yards). No defense has allowed more receiving TDs to WRs (19), and only three defenses see more passes per game against them than the Chiefs (36.1). 
Possible Bust (Lineup Decisions)
Projections powered by Sportsline
SEA Seattle • #87
Age: 26 • Experience: 6 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
@ KC KC -10 O/U 49.5
OPP VS TE
19th
PROJ PTS
6.6
TE RNK
10th
YTD Stats
REC
42
TAR
53
REYDS
414
TD
3
FPTS/G
7.2
I actually don't mind taking a chance on Fant this week, but it's based on the hope he finds a few extra targets with Lockett out. That's not guaranteed since he already sees fluctuating targets from week to week. Remember, QB Geno Smith has eyes downfield frequently, and Fant usually stays close to the line of scrimmage. The matchup is a negative, too. I'd start him over Cole Kmet or Chig Okonkwo, but not over Dawson Knox or Darren Waller.

Dave's Notebook:

  • WEATHER: Forecast calls for moderate winds (10-to-15 miles per hour) and temperatures in the teens. Fine otherwise. 
  • LAST WEEK: Fant turned six targets into a 5-32-1 stat line as a short-area target for Geno Smith. He scored against busted coverage when he was left wide open in the middle of the end zone. It came late in the game when the Seahawks were down 21-6. 
  • WEEK 14: Fant turned one target into a 0-0-0 stat line. 
  • WEEK 13: Fant turned five targets into a 4-42-1 stat line. He scored against busted coverage when he was left alone in the back right corner of the end zone. 
  • CHIEFS: Have held tight ends to eight or fewer half-PPR points in eight of their past 11 games. Two tight ends scored on Kansas City last week -- Teagan Quitoriano and Jordan Akins -- but neither had more than 11 full PPR points. They are the first tight ends to score on the Chiefs since Week 7 (George Kittle).
Start Him (Lineup Decisions)
Projections powered by Sportsline
KC Kansas City • #1
Age: 32 • Experience: 10 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
vs SEA KC -10 O/U 49.5
OPP VS RB
31st
PROJ PTS
12
RB RNK
14th
YTD Stats
RUYDS
274
REC
46
REYDS
429
TD
6
FPTS/G
10.9
McKinnon's role as the high-leverage situational running back figures to stick, especially after Pacheco had a fumble last week. There is a little worry about how the Chiefs operate inside the 10-yard line with receiver Mecole Hardman back, but any impact there could happen in Week 17 after Hardman takes a week to get re-acclimated. Pacheco isn't a bad option, especially in non-PPR leagues, but McKinnon shapes up as a quality starter with upside to finish as Fantasy's No. 1 RB, just as he's been each of the past two weeks. I'd start him in PPR over Kenneth Walker, Joe Mixon, Ezekiel Elliott and Alvin Kamara.

Dave's Notebook:

  • PLAYING TIME: Since Week 10 when Isiah Pacheco became the primary running downs back for the Chiefs, McKinnon has played 47% of the offensive snaps including 56% of their snaps inside the 10 and 84% of their third- and fourth-down snaps. But over the past two weeks, McKinnon's played 59% of the offensive snaps including 82% inside the 10 and 92% on third- and fourth-downs. All of the valuable touches we want from our Fantasy rushers have gone to McKinnon lately. 
  • PAST TWO WEEKS: McKinnon has one fewer touch than Pacheco (32 to 31) but has turned 16 rushes and 15 catches into 256 yards and four scores. Pacheco has 190 total yards and no scores. 
  • SEAHAWKS: In their past eight games they've been sped over at a 4.8-yard rushing clip with 10 touchdowns on the ground (at least one per game except against the Cardinals). They've also afforded 7.7 yards per catch to RBs. Four straight lead rushers have scored at least 15 non-PPR points against the Seahawks.  
Start 'em
10.0-7.00
6.99 - 5.01
5.00 - 0
Sit 'em
Sat, Dec 24 at 4:05 pm ET •
SF -7, O/U 38
Sneaky Sleeper (Lineup Decicisions)
Projections powered by Sportsline
WAS Washington • #1
Age: 24 • Experience: 3 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
@ SF SF -7 O/U 38
OPP VS WR
20th
PROJ PTS
8.7
WR RNK
43rd
YTD Stats
REC
23
TAR
41
REYDS
338
TD
6
FPTS/G
10.6
The Commanders are a safe bet to struggle running the ball on the 49ers, which means it's likely that Heinicke will attempt more than the 29 passes he's maxed out at in five of his past six starts. Dotson should cash in on that volume for the third straight week, not solely as a deep-ball receiver, but as a playmaking speedster who can skip past defensive backs for big gains. I'm willing to trust his skill-set, even in a tough matchup. He's flex-worthy over Brandon Aiyuk and Diontae Johnson.

Dave's Notebook:

  • DOTSON: May have needed a few weeks to get back into the Commanders offense, but he is indeed back. Playing 79% of the snaps in each of his past two games against the Giants, Dotson has caught 9 of 15 targets for 159 yards and a touchdown per matchup. Not only has he impressed with his speed and downfield skills, but Taylor Heinicke has proven he can connect with him on long throws and in close quarters like on his touchdown last week.
  • 49ERS: Their amazing defense definitely stretches to their pass coverage, but they're susceptible to receivers. Speed merchants like Tyler Lockett, Tyreek Hill and Chris Olave have notched 11-plus PPR points on them over the past four weeks (Hill way more). On the season, 10 receivers have hit 15 or more PPR points on the 49ers, many on teams with high-volume passers. 
Start 'em
10.0-7.00
6.99 - 5.01
5.00 - 0
Sit 'em
Sat, Dec 24 at 4:25 pm ET •
DAL -4.5, O/U 47
Sneaky Sleeper (Lineup Decisions)
Projections powered by Sportsline
LV Las Vegas • #15
Age: 28 • Experience: 6 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
@ DAL DAL -5.5 O/U 47
OPP VS QB
8th
PROJ PTS
16.5
QB RNK
12th
YTD Stats
PAYDS
34
RUYDS
-2
TD
0
INT
0
FPTS/G
0.4
Minshew has all the qualities you look for in a Fantasy quarterback: In a strong offense with good receivers against a defense that isn't going to completely crush him. If there's a concern, it's that the Eagles may try to run the ball a little more than last week (14 running back carries). That could lower the passing volume for Minshew, but any success from the Cowboys offense would push the game into being relatively high scoring. That would help Minshew. I wouldn't expect any more than 21 Fantasy points, but that's a heck of a lot better than what you should get this week from Jared Goff, Derek Carr, Daniel Jones or Deshaun Watson. I would start Tom Brady over Minshew.

Dave's Notebook:

  • WEEK 6: Dallas had a 40% pass rush pressure rate on Jalen Hurts, helping them slow down Philadelphia's streaking offense. Hurts was sacked four times, but he still connected on touchdowns to A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith over 25 passes. Three extra possessions off of Cooper Rush interceptions, two in the second quarter, helped. 
  • EAGLES: Rank 10th in lowest pass rush pressure rate allowed this season (30.3%), and it's actually been lower in their past four games (24.4%). The O-line has done a good job protecting Jalen Hurts all season and will do the same for Minshew. 
  • MINSHEW: Played well in one start and a little less so in another -- he delivered a buttoned-up 22 Fantasy points without any turnovers against a not-good Jets pass defense in Week 13, then stumbled in a meaningless Week 18 game versus the Cowboys when he didn't have anyone to throw to. Minshew will now take the helm of an offense with the best receivers he's ever played with. 
  • COWBOYS: Has begun to show some cracks defensively after Jags QB Trevor Lawrence gutted them for four passing touchdowns last week including three against cornerbacks playing opposite of Trevon Diggs. In addition to the cornerback conundrum they now have, linebacker Leighton Vander Esch isn't expected to play and defensive end Dorance Armstrong could also be in jeopardy of missing time. Vander Esch could open the door to an easier matchup for returning tight end Dallas Goedert. 
Start Him (Lineup Decisions)
Projections powered by Sportsline
PHI Philadelphia • #88
Age: 29 • Experience: 7 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
@ DAL DAL -5.5 O/U 47
OPP VS TE
5th
PROJ PTS
12.1
TE RNK
3rd
YTD Stats
REC
43
TAR
53
REYDS
544
TD
3
FPTS/G
12.6
There's always trepidation in starting a player in his first game back from injured reserve, but Goedert should be in good shape coming back from a shoulder problem and not a lower-body problem. He's a huge target who won't run too far downfield, giving Minshew someone easy to lean on. The only tight ends I'd consider over Goedert are Travis Kelce, Evan Engram (weather permitting), Mark Andrews (quarterback permitting), Dalton Schultz and Dawson Knox (weather permitting).

Dave's Notebook:

  • GOEDERT: Will play in his first game since Week 10 when he left with a shoulder injury. Before he got hurt, he had scored in consecutive games. 
  • COWBOYS: Had been outstanding against tight ends all season until Week 15 when Evan Engram scored 14 PPR points. Only one tight end (Cole Kmet) has scored on Dallas this season, and only Engram and Tyler Higbee have posted north of 10 PPR points. 
  • COWBOYS: Will play without linebacker Leighton Vander Esch, who is among those who cover tight ends. He's actually good at it and figures to give Goedert an upgraded matchup on Saturday. It certainly was the case last week for Engram. 
  • 2021: In Gardner Minshew's only start with the first-team Eagles offense, Goedert caught all six of his targets from Minshew for 105 yards and two touchdowns. It's something. 
Start 'em
10.0-7.00
6.99 - 5.01
5.00 - 0
Sit 'em
Sat, Dec 24 at 8:15 pm ET •
PIT -2.5, O/U 38.5
Start Him In PPR (Lineup Decisions)
Projections powered by Sportsline
PIT Pittsburgh • #88
Age: 25 • Experience: 4 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
vs LV PIT -2.5 O/U 38.5
OPP VS TE
24th
PROJ PTS
11.8
TE RNK
13th
YTD Stats
REC
53
TAR
82
REYDS
630
TD
2
FPTS/G
9.8
No one should be jazzed about starting Freiermuth, and expectations should only be high-ish in PPR compared to non, but he should be in position to have a decent game compared to others at his position. I'd take the chance with Noah Fant over Freiermuth, but I'll start the Steeler over Juwan Johnson, Chig Okonkwo, Gerald Everett and Cole Kmet.

Dave's Notebook:

  • WEATHER: Forecast calls for moderate winds (10-to-20 miles per hour) and temperatures in the 20s. Fine otherwise. 
  • LAST WEEK: Dealt with a foot injury that kept him out of practice leading into Week 15 against Carolina, then ran just 16 routes over 38 snaps and didn't see a single target from Mitchell Trubisky. 
  • THIS WEEK: Practiced in full all week and seems to be better. There's also a chance Steelers receiver Diontae Johnson is limited or does not play as he deals with a turf toe injury. 
  • WITH PICKETT: Has an 18% target share and a 70% catch rate on the season with nine-plus PPR points in four of the eight games the rookie started and finished. Weirdly, the two have yet to connect on a touchdown. 
  • RAIDERS: Have actually done well against tight ends, giving up 10 or fewer PPR points to a tight end in eight of their past nine straight games. The competition in those games hasn't been particularly great -- Gerald Everett, Greg Dulcich, Evan Engram and Juwan Johnson are pretty much the best guys they've seen, stopping some and limiting others. 
Start 'em
10.0-7.00
6.99 - 5.01
5.00 - 0
Sit 'em
Sun, Dec 25 at 1:00 pm ET •
MIA -4.5, O/U 49.5
Start Him (Lineup Decisions)
Projections powered by Sportsline
MIA Miami • #1
Age: 26 • Experience: 5 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
vs GB MIA -4.5 O/U 49.5
OPP VS QB
10th
PROJ PTS
20.8
QB RNK
5th
YTD Stats
PAYDS
3238
RUYDS
70
TD
24
INT
5
FPTS/G
22.3
Will the Dolphins keep Tagovailoa to a strict game plan of getting the ball out quick, focusing on first downs and running the ball with Raheem Mostert and others, or will they let Tagovailoa cut it loose like they tried to do before they got exposed by the Chargers a few weeks ago? Expect a mix, which means there should be at least a few deep targets for the Dolphins receivers to take advantage of. I'd start Tagovailoa for his upside in the best matchup he's seen in a month, ahead of Kirk Cousins, Trevor Lawrence and Dak Prescott.

Dave's Notebook:

  • LAST WEEK: Tagovailoa braved the elements and the tough Bills defense to put up a modest 21 Fantasy points on the strength of long touchdowns to Jaylen Waddle and Tyreek Hill. He was off-target on only 6.7% of his throws and took steps to get the ball out quickly. And despite the deep touchdowns, Tagovailoa's ADOT of 8.27 was his lowest in a month and second-lowest on the season. 
  • PACKERS: Have given up 19-plus Fantasy points to four of the past five QBs faced with Baker Mayfield the outlier (eight Fantasy points lol). All five of those games have come since the season-ending injury to stud pass rusher Rashan Gary. The Packers pass rush pressure rate has slid to 31% in their past five, and that's pushed up by their numbers against the Rams' awful offense last Monday (40.7% pressure rate against them).
  • PACKERS: On targets of 15-plus Air Yards to wide receivers in their past five, Green Bay has allowed a 61.5% catch rate, 5.31 YAC/reception and eight completions of 30-plus yards with two scores. Each stat ranks in the bottom-three in that span. 
Start 'em
10.0-7.00
6.99 - 5.01
5.00 - 0
Sit 'em
Sun, Dec 25 at 4:30 pm ET •
LAR +2.5, O/U 36.5
Start Him (Lineup Decisions)
Projections powered by Sportsline
BUF Buffalo • #28
Age: 34 • Experience: 11 year
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
@ LAR DEN -2.5 O/U 36.5
OPP VS RB
14th
PROJ PTS
9.2
RB RNK
22nd
YTD Stats
RUYDS
567
REC
21
REYDS
95
TD
5
FPTS/G
11.8
Murray isn't as good as Aaron Jones or A.J. Dillon. He's not really that good at all. But he's in the right place at the right time against an opponent who shouldn't be in a spot to contain him fully for four quarters. He's got a shot to score and get decent yardage. That's more than enough to be a No. 2 Fantasy running back this week over Travis Etienne, Isiah Pacheco, Brian Robinson and both Lions RBs.

Dave's Notebook:

  • LAST WEEK: Murray pounded a defeated Cardinals run defense for 130 rush yards and a touchdown (and a 12-yard catch!). It was easily his best game of the season and his best game since last January. It may have had more to do with the Cardinals defense than anything else. 
  • MURRAY: He's locked in as Denver's lead running back. Since Melvin Gordon's release after Week 11, Murray's played at least 53% of the snaps every game and has had at least 14 touches in three of the four games. And he's certainly been matchup-dependent -- not involved much when the Broncos face a tough run defense or are chasing points, and involved plenty otherwise. 
  • RAMS: Are coming off a game on Monday where they were streamrolled by the Packers to the tune of 141 rush yards, 71 receiving yards and three total touchdowns. That piles on to their numbers since losing Aaron Donald to injury over the past three games: 4.1 yards per rush, four total scores and 8.7 yards per catch to running backs. 
Start 'em
10.0-7.00
6.99 - 5.01
5.00 - 0
Sit 'em
Sun, Dec 25 at 8:20 pm ET •
ARI +6.5, O/U 41.5
Flex Starter (Lineup Decisions)
Projections powered by Sportsline
BUF Buffalo • #5
Age: 29 • Experience: 7 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
@ ARI TB -7.5 O/U 40.5
OPP VS RB
26th
PROJ PTS
11.6
RB RNK
23rd
YTD Stats
RUYDS
568
REC
59
REYDS
410
TD
6
FPTS/G
14.7
If I'm making the call based on the film, Leonard Fournette is the Bucs RB I'd want to start. He's solid for them and has produced consistently for Fantasy managers. There's also the possibility this game becomes so lopsided that both backs end up doing well, but I'm not hanging onto that hope for White. I'd start Fournette over Isiah Pacheco, Devin Singletary and both Lions RBs, but I'd start all those players over White.
Sit Him (Lineup Decisions)
Projections powered by Sportsline
TB Tampa Bay • #1