It’s the most wonderful time of the year!
With fantasy players tilting and rosters are wilting while titles are near!
It is week 16 and Christmas is knocking on the door. While children dream of snowflakes falling and presents flooding the Christmas tree, fantasy degenerates like me are jonesing for the satisfaction that comes from winning that elusive title!
I mean, honestly, my wife and I are going to welcome our first child into the world in early 2024. So parents who play fantasy, help me out here. What’s more satisfying? Making Christmas magical for your children or rubbing your success on the fantasy gridiron in the face of your friends and coworkers?
This is a safe space everyone.
While you mull over the answers before arriving at the obvious conclusion, let’s dive into the WR matchups to exploit this week!
FAVORABLE WR MATCHUPS
Dontayvion Wicks vs. Carolina Panthers
To quote the Fantasy Footballers, managers are going to have to strap on their steel underpants before sliding either of these options into their flex spots.
Christian Watson continues to spend more time on the sidelines than on the field as the injury bug continues to plague his up-and-down career. Meanwhile, rising rookie Jayden Reed is nursing an injury and joins Watson as questionable to play.
With the emergence of Reed, Dontayvion Wicks has slid between the cracks. The 5th-round pick brings a YAC skillset and promising route running to a blossoming Packers aerial attack against a soft matchup.
In fact, 16 of Wicks’ 31 receptions have qualified as an explosive catch (16+ yards) and he leads all rookies with 15.8 Y/R.
“He’s always asking questions, always asking if he’s in the right spot,” said quarterback Jordan Love of Wicks. “I think he’s a really good route-runner, really shifty guy, catches the ball really well and he’s making plays after the catch. He’s getting a lot of YAC right now. He’s just a tough guy. He’s doing a lot of really good things.”
Wicks is slated to see a healthy dose of Jaycee Horn, whose tendency to be over-physical with his assignments makes him prone to being burnt for big plays. Horn has allowed 0.51 FP/RR and has been targeted on 29.2% of his routes in coverage.
Since week 8, Wicks ranks 4th in Y/RR vs. zone coverage and, according to Fantasy Points, the Panthers play in zone coverage around 84% of the time.
In other words, Wicks shouldn’t have a problem returning value as a flex option after seeing 13 targets in the last two weeks.
DK Metcalf vs. Tennessee Titans
This does not make me feel good to write.
It makes me uneasy relying on Geno Smith and especially DK Metcalf but, if opportunity is king, matchup is queen.
Sean Murphy-Bunting and Tre Avery have stunk this year, Avery in particular (104/117 in PFF coverage grade). In other words, big play opportunities should be plentiful.
Speaking of opportunity, Metcalf has seen at least 8 targets in three of his past five games and has scored five of his seven touchdowns in that span. He’s the first-read on 29% of the pass attempts and runs a route on 81.7% of team dropbacks.
Tying it all in a little bow, the Tennessee unit ranks 25th in the rate of explosive pass plays allowed, 27th in catch rate, and 30th in yards allowed per snap in coverage (13.4) per PFF.
As long as Metcalf can keep his cool on the field, fantasy managers should be able to stay cool while score watching!
DeVonta Smith vs. New York Giants
It’s been brutal starting DeVonta Smith the last two weeks. Philly’s pass offense looks broken. Schematically, there’s little motion used and receivers routinely fail to create separation.
So why the optimism? The Giants pass rush is not scaring anybody. PFF projects Jalen Hurts to often have a comfortable pocket to work with, as the Eagles boast a 19% pass-blocking advantage. Hurts ranks 9th in big-time throws while not under pressure.
The Giants corners rank 28th and 29th respectively in yards allowed per coverage snap and explosive pass rate allowed against first-read targets. Smith is the first read on 26.1% of the Eagles’ pass attempts.
Smith’s opportunity projects to 12.7 xFP/g and a lucrative 0.36 xFP/RR. With half the league banged up, Smith has a good path to a WR2 floor with WR1 upside on the week.
Other exploitable matchups: Jameson Williams vs. Minnesota, Garrett Wilson vs. Washington