4 Daily Fantasy Football Matchups to Exploit in Week 11
The beauty of daily fantasy football is that, unlike a season-long draft where someone is tied to their top players all year, any top players in the NFL can make their way into your lineup. While that can be a blessing, it can also be a curse.
Although you're able to roster Christian McCaffrey, Jonathan Taylor, and Najee Harris all at once if you want, it is unlikely that all three running backs are optimal plays at their respective salaries for a particular week. There are many elements to decide which players are the best plays, and a large aspect of daily fantasy is the matchup a player has.
While usually encompassed in some respects inside the salary figure, a soft matchup can carry a good running back to a great week. On the other hand, a tough matchup can make superstars suboptimal to roster.
Which matchups are lurking in this weekend's games that we can take advantage of on FanDuel?
Bengals Passing Attack vs. The Las Vegas Secondary
The story of the week in the NFL was that Patrick Mahomes is back on track. I'm close to pulling a Lee Corso and tossing on a mascot head.
Not so fast, my friend.
The Raiders are struggling as mightily as you'd assume a team whose 1) coach was canceled 2) star receiver was jailed and 3) 2020 first-round pick was released. The defensive side has been especially ugly. Las Vegas has allowed 0.43 Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per play to opposing offenses the past three weeks. That's worse than the Jets, who've allowed 121 points in the span.
This weekend, Derek Carr may have to keep up again. Joe Burrow and the Bengals enter off a bye week, and they're well equipped to torch Vegas once again. Cincy's 67% situation-neutral pass rate is the second-best mark in the NFL to Buffalo. They're willing to air it out, and the Raiders haven't proven able to stop that.
Of course, that success means very little if the scores are dispersed to random dudes. The Bengals have kept things tight the past three games, as no players besides Tee Higgins (28.8%) and Ja'Marr Chase (26.1%) have greater than a 16% target share. The pair also have a combined 81.8% of the Bengals' end-zone targets in this time. Burrow feeds his guys.
All three -- plus a touchdown equity boost for Joe Mixon -- are in play as the Bengals head to Sin City. Just keep Zac Taylor off the craps tables until Sunday evening.
Ezekiel Elliott vs. Kansas City's Run Defense
Specifically here, the Kansas City run defense will have their work cut out for them. Ezekiel Elliott enters scorching hot. Zeke had seven straight games with at least 70 scrimmage yards -- yes, even the "burn the tape" game against Denver -- until last week. He made up for his early afternoon off in the blowout of Atlanta with a pair of scores instead.
The Chiefs' run defense, despite several decent weeks in a row, is still the second-worst run defense (0.12 Rushing NEP per carry) in football. They've not exactly been challenged by Jordan Love, Daniel Jones, and the dysfunctional Raiders missing their head coach, either.
Even if the Chiefs' front seven is better with Chris Jones back, Elliott has a 52.3% share of Dallas' red-zone running back carries and 9 red-zone targets. He can pay off a bad week with touchdowns in any conditions -- much less in the highest-totaled game of the week.
Zeke is a building block in a game that quite literally should be stacked seven ways to Sunday.
Dawson Knox vs. Colts Linebackers and Safeties
Dawson Knox got one target on Sunday against the hapless Jets, and he wasn't needed for any more.
There's still reason to give him a long look at the nauseating tight end position in this matchup with Indianapolis. According to Brandon Gdula's adjusted fantasy points allowed model, the Colts are ceding 1.75 Adjusted FanDuel Points per target to opposing tight ends -- second-most in the league to the aforementioned Chiefs.
Knox also played 83.3% of the snaps last week. That was the most of any Bills' pass catcher, and his 20 routes only trailed Stefon Diggs (28) and Emmanuel Sanders (24) on the team. There are a lot of mouths to feed in this offense, but Cole Beasley only ran 8 routes in Week 10, and the Bills' 70% situation-neutral pass rate can easily support multiple receiving targets.
At just $5,600, he can be a source of salary relief to squeeze in Josh Allen and Jonathan Taylor if one is inclined to stack this game. The salary increase for Diggs even further justifies Knox and Sanders as ancillary, yet dangerous, options.
Baltimore Pass Rush vs. Justin Fields
That doesn't mean that the D/ST matchup "golden goose" of 2021 has dried up, and many may stay clear of the Baltimore Ravens D/ST this weekend as a result of that narrative.
Even making progress, Fields has been sacked at least three times in the past three weeks. Chicago has allowed 33 sacks this season -- most in the NFL. It's not exactly trending down, either.
Baltimore's defense is more than capable. They have just 19 sacks as a team, but they're due for some significant regression with a 34% pressure rate. That rate is the second-highest mark of any team playing this weekend.
The Bears give up plenty of sacks, and Baltimore is due to cash in on their solid team pressure before long. This isn't -- on the surface -- a matchup to target, either, which means the Ravens at $4,500 may go overlooked with Cleveland, San Francisco, and Miami all facing more obvious spots with quarterbacks struggling worse than Fields.