FanDuel Matchup Analysis: Five Matchups to Target

By Matt Johnson on Saturday, December 16th 2017
FanDuel Matchup Analysis: Five Matchups to Target

The weekend is here and we've got you covered with a new segment for FanDuel's Week 15 slate of Sunday-Monday games. In this article, we'll highlight five matchups we want to target for the upside they offer and players who should see a sizable share of your roster makeup. It will be a mix of players and specifically highlight some of the best matchups on the slate, rather than value-based targets alone.

So let's get started with our top five matchups to target in Week 15.

Dak Prescott vs. Oakland Raiders' pass defense

Prescott went through a stretch of games from Week 10-13 that caused some to raise doubts about his ability and left fantasy owners struggling as the fantasy playoffs approached. Over that time, Prescott averaged only 5.68 yards per pass attempt, didn't throw a touchdown pass and threw five interceptions. Just as concerns started to rise, Prescott found his way back and returned to form in his past two games.

This week, Prescott faces a Raiders' defense that ranks last in the league in pass defense according to Football Outsiders' DVOA. Furthermore, Oakland's defense ranks last in DVOA against opposing team's No.1 wide receiver, second to last against No.3 wide receivers and 27th against running backs. For wide receivers Dez Bryant, Brice Butler and running back Rod Smith.

Prescott will be able to exploit Oakland's defense with his legs as well, racking up additional fantasy points with the potential for four-plus fantasy points via the running game. Pair that with a game where he should have another chance to reach 300-plus passing yards or three touchdown passes and Prescott locks up his status as a top-five quarterback play this week and someone who should be started in season-long leagues and make up a good percentage of your DFS lineups.

Cam Newton vs. Green Bay Packers defense

Newton becomes a target for two reasons that will allow him to exploit Green Bay's defense. First, his rushing ability that closely resembles the form we saw at the start of his career when he could keep an RPO and take it for a 40-plus yard run or keep the pitch and dive into the end zone on a play run near the goal line. Years later, when it seemed like those days are over, vintage Cam is back.

In eight consecutive games, Newton's legs have been a dynamic factor from a fantasy perspective. Over that time, Newton either collected 40-plus rushing yards or found the end zone on the ground. Furthermore, Newton finished with 70-plus rushing yards in four of those games and 50-plus rushing yards in six of his last eight contests. An additional five-plus points, no matter the platform, is a huge difference maker in fantasy.

That only serves as the appetizer and dessert to the fantasy feast of this matchup. Green Bay's defense allowed the second-most passing yards (1,676) and passing touchdowns (13) since Week 9. Meanwhile, Green Bay also ranks 20th in pass defense by Football Outsiders' DVOA. It's a quality matchup made even better with starting cornerbacks Davon House and Kevin King out. Newton will flood Devin Funchess, Christian McCaffrey and Greg Olsen with targets in this game, delivering an outstanding performance in the process.

Devonta Freeman vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers run defense

After a concussion caused Freeman to exit on the first drive against the Dallas Cowboys on Nov.12, he wouldn't return to the field until Dec. 3 against the Minnesota Vikings. In that game, Freeman received 13 touches for 81 yards and his role as the workhorse seemed to be a thing of the past, with Steve Sarkisian turning away from one of the game's best running backs. Fortunately, we saw a positive turnaround from Freeman last week against the New Orleans Saints. In that game, Freeman carried the football 24 times for 91 rushing yards and his first touchdown in over two months.

Freeman should see 22-plus touches this game, especially with Tevin Coleman now ruled out for Week 15. As we saw last week, the talent is still clearly there and the 25-year-old running back should take advantage of the sizable workload on Monday Night Football. It should allow him to return to his dominant performances to start the year, when he found the end zone in four consecutive games.

Better yet, Freeman's matchup couldn't be much better than this. Since Week 9, the Buccaneers' defense surrendered 588 rushing yards and the third-most rushing touchdowns (seven) over that span. Tampa Bay is also dealing with numerous injuries and will be without two of its best defensive players on Monday with linebacker Lavonte David and defensive tackle Gerald McCoy already ruled out.

Atlanta should have plenty of opportunities to open up running lanes for Freeman and there should be some easier running in the second level with David out. In addition, Tampa Bay will be focusing even more of its defensive attention on Julio Jones, who obliterated Tampa Bay's secondary in their last meeting. Freeman is an elite play this week in fantasy and should be in a significant percentage of your lineups.

Kenyan Drake vs. Buffalo Bills run defense

When the Miami Dolphins traded away Jay Ajayi, the decision received frequent criticism and many questioned the team's talent at the position. Early on after the Ajayi trade, Miami experimented with the backfield duo of Drake and Damien Williams. Then just a few weeks into the experiment, Williams went down with a shoulder injury. As a result, Drake received the opportunity to put his talents on display.

In his past two games with Damien Williams out, the Dolphins have fed him consistently with 56 touches. Drake rewarded the coaching staff in a major way with 334 total yards. Head Coach Adam Gase found the running back that fits his system and with Drake bought into the offense, Gase continues to feed Drake.

Now he gets to face the Buffalo Bills, who allowed the most rushing yards (755) in the NFL since Week 10. Miami's commitment to feeding the multi-purpose back against Buffalo, who has allowed 11 rushing touchdowns over its past six games. Given the improvements made by Miami's offense, this is a matchup they should be able to take advantage of. Drake should see another workload of 20-plus touches and the ability he continues to show should give you plenty of confidence he can deliver a top-10 fantasy performance.

Julio Jones vs. Buccaneers' secondary

Buccaneers' Head Coach Dirk Koetter might have been joking when he suggested the team use a cover 10 defense against Jones, but it would at least work better than whatever strategy they employed the last time they faced Jones. In that matchup on Nov. 26, Jones eviscerated Tampa Bay's secondary for 256 receiving yards and two touchdowns on 15 targets, with an additional 15 rushing yards.

In this game, Tampa Bay will be without one of its interior pass rushers and cornerback Vernon Hargreaves is also out for Monday's game. Given Tampa Bay's poor defensive standing, including a league-high 1,169 receiving yards since Week 9 and the third-most touchdowns (seven) allowed, the matchup couldn't be much better than this for Jones.

Even if Tampa Bay focuses more defensive attention his way, they don't have anyone who can match up with him and the Falcons will look to go back to what worked the last time they faced Tampa Bay. If you can pair Jones and Freeman together in DFS, it could set up for an excellent payday.



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