NFL

5 Daily Fantasy Football Matchups to Exploit in Week 11

In fantasy football, matchups are key to setting any lineup.

This series will take a look at a few matchups that can be exploited for success on the football field and for profit in DFS.

Saints Offense vs. Falcons Defense

The first of two New Orleans Saints-Atlanta Falcons divisional matchups this season will commence on Sunday in a game with a total of 50.0 points (per FanDuel Sportsbook). These teams have reached that total in a head-to-head game just once since 2016, but with tight-end eligible Taysom Hill ($4,500) subbing in for an injured Drew Brees (ribs), this game has a lot of fantasy appeal.

Hill has attempted only five passes in 2020 and 18 passes for his career, so he's a massive wild card on that front. We can pretty safely say Hill will do some damage with his legs, though, and with him listed as a tight end on FanDuel, Hill will be extremely popular.

The matchup against Atlanta should aid Hill's passing as the Falcons rank dead last -- by a wide margin -- in pass defense by our schedule-adjusted metrics and have allowed the second-most passing yards and most passing touchdowns in the league this season. On the flip side, the Falcons are much tougher against the run, allowing the fourth-fewest FanDuel points to running backs and ranking fifth in run D by our numbers.

Unless Hill brings the goods through the air, him getting the nod over Jameis Winston lowers the ceiling for Michael Thomas ($8,200). However, Thomas was removed from the Saints' injury report this week for the first time since Week 1, and the matchup is there. Atlanta has allowed the second-most yards and FanDuel points to opposing wide receivers this season. In eight career games against the Falcons, Thomas is averaging 10.3 targets, 8.0 catches, 97.1 yards, 0.4 touchdowns and 16.0 FanDuel points per game. But he's much harder to spend up for with Hill at the controls.

Hill's presence isn't as big of a negative for Alvin Kamara ($9,700). It may be a positive. Kamara has perhaps the highest floor and ceiling in football. He ranks sixth among all players -- first among non-quarterbacks -- in FanDuel points this season. He’s scored 15-plus points in eight of nine games, including three games of 30-plus points. As mentioned, Atlanta is good against the run, but Kamara has proven he’s matchup-proof and is well worth his lofty salary.

Vikings Offense vs. Cowboys Defense

The Minnesota Vikings' offense is a big-play machine. The Vikings rank first in explosive play rate (plays of 15-plus yards, per Sharp Football Stats). The Vikings have been highly effective in both aspects of offense, sitting in the top two in yards per play and explosive play rate on both pass attempts and rush attempts.

The Vikings have a great matchup this week against a Dallas Cowboys defense that ranks 25th in explosive pass rate allowed and 22nd in explosive run rate allowed. Dalvin Cook ($10,500) ranks behind only Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt in explosive run rate among qualifying running backs while easily pacing the league in rushing yards and touchdowns. Cook had a bit of a down week last week against Chicago's stout front seven, but he should return to dominance this week against Dallas’ 22nd-ranked rushing defense.

Rookie Justin Jefferson ($6,700) leads all eligible receivers in explosive play rate, yards per route run, Reception Net Expected Points (NEP) per target, and likely just about any other efficiency metric available. Since his first start in Week 3, Jefferson ranks seventh in FanDuel points among wide receivers despite ranking just 23rd in targets due to Minnesota’s offensive approach -- it ranks second in neutral situation run rate this season (per RBSDM.com). Jefferson’s elite efficiency makes him a strong play even with the Vikings run-first strategy, especially against a Cowboys defense that’s allowed the third-most FanDuel points to opposing wide receivers this season.

Adam Thielen ($7,900) and Kirk Cousins ($7,100) should likewise produce against Dallas’ porous secondary. Thielen leads the league in end zone targets and receiving touchdowns, while Dallas is allowing the most touchdowns to opposing wideouts. Cousins is averaging 19.1 FanDuel points per game in the past month while Dallas has allowed 20.2 FanDuel points per game to opposing quarterbacks this season (12th-most).

Panthers Offense vs. Lions Defense

The Detroit Lions' defense was highlighted in last week's column ahead of a matchup against Washington's Antonio Gibson and J.D. McKissic, as Detroit had allowed the most FanDuel points to opposing running backs through the first nine weeks of the season. That trend continued last week, as Gibson and McKissic combined for three rushing touchdowns on 21 carries as well as 11 catches on an absurd 19 targets for a total of 34.9 FanDuel points.

This week, Carolina's Mike Davis ($7,400) will have the honors of feasting against the Lions' league-worst rush defense. Alex Smith's checkdown habits certainly aided Washington’s backfield production last week, but the Panthers also pass to their running backs at a high rate -- the fifth-highest in the league, in fact. Davis has scored just 6.7 FanDuel points per game in the past month after averaging 17.2 in the first five games of the season, but this matchup should be enough to get him back on track.

Davis is likely to thrive in his role regardless of who’s behind center, but Teddy Bridgewater's ($7,200) availability (he’s questionable with a knee injury as of Friday morning) could cap the production of Robby Anderson ($7,100) and D.J. Moore ($6,300). Carolina’s offense ranks ninth in explosive pass rate while Detroit’s defense ranks 28th in explosive pass rate allowed, so if Bridgewater does play, Anderson and Moore would both be nice options, as each ranks in the top 10 in yards after catch and in the top 15 in air yards among all wide receivers this season.

If Bridgewater isn’t able to suit up, former XFL MVP candidate P.J. Walker ($6,500) would be an interesting -- albeit bold -- flier against a Detroit defense that ranks 30th in defensive passing efficiency and 20th in FanDuel points per game allowed to quarterbacks. A stack of Walker and one (or both, depending on how dangerous you feel) of Anderson or Moore could be a

Ravens Offense vs. Titans Defense

The Baltimore Ravens' offense has fallen back to Earth this season. After setting numerous NFL records in 2019, Baltimore currently ranks 21st in both offensive efficiency and yards per play. Lamar Jackson ($8,400), Mark Andrews ($6,500) and Marquise Brown ($5,900) have all fallen short of fantasy and “real-life” expectations this season.

Baltimore dropped its third game of the season last week, losing to the New England Patriots in a rainy Sunday Night Football game, but they have a great opportunity for a bounce-back game this weekend against the Tennessee Titans. The Titans rank in the bottom-half of the league in FanDuel points allowed per game to every skill position, including bottom-eight against quarterbacks, wide receivers and running backs.

There isn’t a trustable fantasy running back in Baltimore right now, as J.K. Dobbins ($5,500), Gus Edwards ($5,500) and Mark Ingram ($5,900) all split carries amongst themselves and Jackson.

Jackson is much more trustable against a Titans defense allowing the third-most pass attempts, completions and touchdowns this season. Jackson has yet to have a true boom game this year -- he has zero games of 30-plus fantasy points after recording seven in 2019 -- but this week presents a great opportunity for just that.

Similar to Jackson, Brown has yet to have a huge game after showing the potential for plenty of them last year. But considering that the Titans have allowed top-four production to receivers in terms of targets, completions, yards and FanDuel points, Brown is worthy of a flier play in the hope of a slate-busting performance despite his relatively disappointing season thus far.

Patriots Offense vs. Texans Defense

After a mid-season offensive lull, Cam Newton ($7,600) and the New England offense is humming again. The Patriots suffered a lopsided 33-6 loss to the San Francisco 49ers in Week 7, but in its three games since, New England ranks fourth in passing efficiency and eighth in rushing efficiency.

This week, the Patriots will face the Houston Texans, a team ranks 26th in passing defense efficiency and 30th in rushing defense efficiency. Houston is allowing the 14th-fewest FanDuel points per game to opposing quarterbacks, but Newton’s legs give him a high floor, as he is averaging 10 carries and a rushing touchdown per game.

With the Texans allowing the third-most FanDuel points per game to opposing running backs, Damien Harris ($5,800) should be in strong consideration. Harris’ ceiling is capped by Newton’s goal-line vultures and a lack of passing game involvement, but he’s averaging 5.5 yards per carry on the season (fourth-best among running backs) and will face a Texans defense that is surrendering 5.2 yards per carry (league-worst). Harris’ low salary and plus-matchup make him an intriguing stacking option with the New England D/ST in the assumption that the Patriots are able to keep control via their slow-paced, run-heavy attack.

New England’s recent offensive surge is due in part to the play of second-year receiver Jakobi Meyers ($6,000). Meyers played 79% of offensive snaps in his second game of the season in Week 7 but has played at least 98% of snaps in the three games since while averaging 10.3 targets, 7.7 receptions and 95.3 yards in that span (in addition to a gorgeous passing touchdown). Meyers should be Newton's go-to target against a Texans defense that has allowed the third-most touchdowns and 12th-most FanDuel points to opposing receivers this season.