NFL

5 Daily Fantasy Football Matchups to Exploit in Week 13

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.

Titans Offense vs. Browns Defense

It is officially Derrick Henry ($10,000) SZN.


Henry has annually performed better in the last few weeks of the season than any other time. Last year, Henry averaged 17.5 FanDuel points per game in the first three months of the season and then scored 23.3 per game to close the season. Last week, in his first game after Thanksgiving of this season, Henry ate up 140 yards and three touchdowns in the first half against a stout Indianapolis Colts defense.

The Colts were without starting defensive linemen DeForest Buckner and Denico Autry last week, but nevertheless, it gave Henry a jumpstart on what should be another dominating finish to the season. Henry will play the Cleveland Browns this week, and it will likely be his toughest test for the remainder of the year as he takes on the Jaguars, Lions, Packers and Texans in Week 14 through Week 17 -- all of which rank as a bottom-10 run defenses by our schedule-adjusted metrics and allow top-five FanDuel production to opposing running backs.

The Browns rank 26th in run defense but 11th in fantasy production allowed to running backs in large part because it has allowed the 10th-fewest carries, as Cleveland ranks 12th in time of possession with a lead this season (per Football Outsiders). The Browns aren’t as good as their record indicates, though. Cleveland ranks 19th in point differential (-21) despite having the fourth-most wins in the league (8), as it has benefited from playing the fourth-easiest schedule in terms of opponent efficiency (per Sharp Football Stats), including the fifth-easiest schedule of opposing rushing offenses.

In other words, the matchup is likely easier than it appears for Henry and the Tennessee Titans. Henry has reached 20 touches in all but one game this season, including 29 in each of his past two games. Ryan Tannehill ($7,800), A.J. Brown ($8,200) and Jonnu Smith ($5,700) are strong options, as well, against a Browns defense that ranks bottom-10 in FanDuel points allowed to each respective position. But considering that Tennessee has run at the second-highest rate in early-down neutral situations this season (behind only New England, per RBSDM.com), Henry should earn the most touches and fantasy points in Cleveland on Sunday.

Vikings Offense vs. Jaguars Defense

Speaking of elite running backs facing porous defenses, Dalvin Cook ($10,500) -- who joins Henry as the only running backs who have reached 1,000 rushing yards at this point in the season -- is in for a treat this week against Jacksonville. The Jaguars rank bottom-five in run defense efficiency and are giving up the third-most FanDuel points per game to opposing running backs despite having faced the easiest schedule of opposing run offenses this year.

Jacksonville allowed Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt to combine for 208 rushing yards on 29 totes (7.2 yards per carry) last week. Minnesota and Cleveland implement similar outside zone running schemes, so Cook should find success against this susceptible Jacksonville defense. Cook did suffer an ankle injury last Sunday and has been a limited participant in practice this week, so his health should be monitored, but if he’s able to suit up, he should be a strong play despite the injury risk.

Similar to Tennessee, the Vikings have an explosive passing game that relies on efficiency as opposed to volume. Justin Jefferson ($7,700) and Adam Thielen ($7,800) each rank in the top 10 in FanDuel points despite ranking outside the top 25 in targets among all wide receivers this season. The duo will likely have limited looks this week, as Minnesota is the fifth-most run heavy team and is a 10.5-point favorite against Jacksonville (per FanDuel Sportsbook). These two are still strong fantasy plays, though, against an injured and inexperienced Jaguars secondary that ranks in the bottom six in pass defense efficiency, explosive pass play rate allowed and FanDuel points allowed per game to wide receivers on the season.

Colts Offense vs. Texans Defense

The Colts and Texans have been trending in opposite directions in recent weeks. As previously noted, Indianapolis got trounced by Henry and the Titans last week with key defensive players out. Houston, meanwhile, has won three of its past four games, with the wins coming against the Jaguars (31st in team efficiency), Patriots (21st) and Lions (30th).

This presents a nice buy-low opportunity for the Colts and a sell-high opportunity for the Texans -- especially considering that Houston is now without star players Will Fuller and Bradley Roby, each of whom have been suspended.

Specifically, Michael Pittman Jr. ($5,600) is an excellent buy this week after catching just two passes last week despite seeing nine targets and nearly 100 air yards. Without Roby, Houston’s outside cornerbacks will be Vernon Hargreaves III and Phillip Gaines, each of whom rank in the bottom 30 in Pro Football Focus' coverage grade and yards per coverage snap allowed among 132 qualifying cornerbacks this season. Pittman easily paces the Colts in targets and receiving yards since his return to the starting lineup from injury in Week 9.

Pittman ranks behind only Nyheim Hines ($6,400) in receptions and FanDuel points in that span. Last week, Hines took advantage of Jonathan Taylor's ($6,400) absence and caught eight of 10 targets for 66 yards, adding 29 yards and 10 rushes on the ground while playing a season-high 65% of offensive snaps. However, Taylor was recently activated off the COVID list and is in line to play this week, and he is likely the better backfield option coming off one of the best games of his young career against Green Bay in Week 11 (26 touches for 114 total yards). The Texans' defense has allowed the most rushing scores and the highest yards per carry, but they sit in the middle of the pack in terms of pass-game production given up to running backs.

Raiders Offense vs. Jets Defense

Another buy-low opportunity this week presents itself in the form of the Oakland Raiders, who are coming off a brutal 43-6 loss to the Atlanta Falcons. Oakland scored 30 points in each of its previous three games before last week and should rebound against a New York Jets defense that ranks 28th in defensive efficiency and 29th in points allowed this year.

Derek Carr ($7,200) was pressured on 29.7% of his drop backs last week, his second-highest rate of the season and the most since Week 3. As a result, he tied season-high marks in interceptions and sacks taken. The Falcons rank third in pressure rate this year while the Jets rank just 22nd, so Carr -- who has just one game of 15-plus FanDuel points in his past five contests after meeting that mark in each of the previous five games in a row -- should find more success this week against a vulnerable Jets secondary that ranks dead last in passing defense efficiency.

Darren Waller ($7,000) is also in store for a bounce-back week after flopping for four catches and 23 yards against the Falcons, the team that has allowed the most FanDuel points to opposing tight ends this season. Fortunately, the Jets have allowed the fifth-most points to the position, including the most touchdowns. That’s good news for Waller, who ranks 5th in red zone targets but 17th in red zone touchdowns among all players this season and could enjoy some positive touchdown regression on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Nelson Agholor ($5,400) leads Vegas' pass-catchers in receiving yards, air yards, touchdowns and FanDuel points in the past month and is a quality flier against New York’s inexperienced secondary, one that is now starting rookie cornerbacks Bryce Hall and Lamar Jackson following Brian Poole's placement on injured reserve (assuming Agholor plays after suffering an ankle injury last week).

This would typically be a potential blow-up spot for Josh Jacobs ($7,800) considering that the Raiders are 8.5-point favorite against the Jets, but Jacobs had an ankle injury last week and hasn’t participated in practice yet this week through Thursday. It's likely safer to pass on Jacobs this week if he suits up. But if he isn’t able to go, Devontae Booker ($6,000) would be a great (albeit chalky) play against Gang Green, which has allowed the 11th-most FanDuel points to opposing running backs this season. Booker has quietly been good this season on his limited volume. Among backs with 50-plus carries, Booker ranks third in both yards per carry and Rushing Net Expected Points per carry.

Chicago Offense vs. Lions Defense

The Chicago Bears' offense has been handed back to Mitchell Trubisky ($6,900). In his first game as the Bears starter since Week 3, Trubisky completed 26 of 46 pass attempts for 242 yards and three touchdowns last week against the Packers, albeit much of that production came in garbage time.

Chicago is one of the least efficient offenses in the league. Despite this, Allen Robinson ($6,900) and David Montgomery ($6,200) are producing well relative to their environment, as they rank 15th and 16th, respectively, in FanDuel points at their positions.

Robinson had two touchdowns last week to go along with 74 receiving yards on eight catches. His 13 targets were the most he's seen since Week 5, and he should build off that performance against a Lions defense that owns the third-worst in explosive pass play rate allowed this year and has allowed the seventh-most FanDuel points per game to wideouts. Robinson is averaging 11.0 targets and 15.3 FanDuel points per game in Trubisky's starts this season, versus 9.1 targets and 12.4 points per game in Nick Foles' starts.

Due in large part to his lack of top-end speed, Montgomery ranks just 30th in fantasy points per touch and 34th in explosive run rate among 37 qualifying running backs this season, but he has still earned the 13th-most touches in the league. However, his usage and performance last week in his return from concussion protocol was encouraging, as he played a season-high 85% of snaps and totaled 143 yards from scrimmage on 11 carries and six targets. Montgomery will now face a Detroit defense that has been abysmal against running backs this year and has given up the most FanDuel points to the position.