Every site has a fantasy football rankings column. None of them will be as charted up on a Thursday afternoon up as this one. I'll go position-by-position with the charts, matchup notes, film, and injury nuggets that I view as worth your time.
A matchup between the top-2 offenses in neutral pass rate over the last month.
Coming off 16 and 17-carry games. Hard to fail with this usage, though this matchup indicates a more pass-heavy game plan. Offenses facing the Titans have the highest neutral pass rate in the NFL. We've seen Hurts' big play ability in the air, too.
This is the lowest team total (23.75 points) of the year for Buffalo while heading to New England without PFF's No. 22 OT Dion Dawkins. Tough break against EDGE Matthew Judon, who will have to be chipped on lots of pass plays to give Buffalo's No. 20 blown-block rate OL a chance. Allen has erupted against New England in recent games (308-5-0 with 66 rushing and 314-3-0 with 64 rushing), but he hasn't played as well this year due to red zone turnovers.
He is one of "My Guys" here.
This will be Joe Burrow's 3rd game against the Chiefs in 2022. He dropped 446-4-0 and 250-2-1 already. Kinda surprised the game total is "only" at 52.5 with Ja'Marr Chase on track to play.
Tied for the highest team total of the week because Dak Prescott is playing like a top-5 QB right now. His in-pocket play is light's out, aside from some QB-WR miscommunication INTs over the middle. Even the Steelers were able to move up-and-down the field on this Colts defense. It's go time for Dak.
Lamar has missed a few deep throws over the last two months, but the real culprit is unbelievably bad WR and TE play. Look at these TD drops just from last week alone. Lamar needs Mark Andrews to play like the All-Pro he was last year to climb back into the Jalen Hurts tier.... While the Broncos defensive metrics look solid on average, they don't project as well now with EDGE Bradley Chubb (trade), EDGE Randy Gregory (IR), slot CB K'Waun Williams (out), CB Ronald Darby (IR), LB Jonas Griffith (IR), and DB Caden Sterns (IR) out and the rest of the defensive visibly frustrated in this lost season.
Name One Non-Maxx Crosby Raiders Defensive Player Challenge (Clelin Ferrell and Chandler Jones don't count because they have 1.0 combined sacks). Also, the Chargers are No. 1 in neutral pass rate and No. 1 in neutral pace. Pretty good! The negative here is the Chargers' own injuries with Big Mike, C Corey Linsley, and RT Trey Pipkins all out in addition to LT Ra'Shawn Slater (IR). Their team total has dropped to 23.5 after opening at 26.0 earlier in the week.
We'll see if CB1 Jeff Okudah (concussion) returns this week, but even with him, this is a bottom-5 defense without question. Lawrence has strung together his best 3-game stretch of his career, too. A healthy 26.5-point team total makes TLaw a QB1 streamer.
The Texans, especially without CB1 Derek Stingley (hamstring), are really bad defensively, but they've been so bad defensively that teams are simply not passing all that much against them, leading to a surprising top-5 defense against fantasy QBs. Expect a ton of Nick Chubb and some early scores for the pass catchers.
The 8th highest team total of the week at home against a Jaguars defense that's averaging +0.13 EPA per pass without CB Shaquill Griffin (IR) on the field. At the same time, the Lions are getting healthy on offense with Amon-Ra St. Brown BYKE, D.J. Chark in the lineup, D'Andre Swift off the injury report, and Jameson Williams nearing a return. With ARSB in the lineup, the Lions are averaging +0.27 more EPA per dropback according to Sports Info Solutions.
He practiced in full on Thursday but it's unclear if he'll run as much with his non-throwing shoulder injury even if active. The Packers have struggled against the run since the Obama administration, and the pass rush is without Pro Bowl EDGE Rashan Gary and CB Eric Stokes.
The Rams aren't just missing Aaron Donald now, they also placed starting EDGE A'Shawn Robinson on IR last week. After returning from injury, Jalen Ramsey hasn't played like his All Pro self this year, so this on-paper tough matchup isn't nearly as difficult. The respectable 24.5-point team total makes a lot of sense even on the "road". All Rams fans are doing Christmas carols off 2nd Street in Long Beach, CA.
The Chargers defense is without CB1 J.C. Jackson, EDGE1 Joey Bosa, DT Austin Johnson, DT Christian Covington, and DT Otito Ogbonnia right now.
Offenses facing Miami are choosing to pass in neutral situations at the 5th-highest rate, leading to the No. 28 fantasy QB defense. Jimmy G has been shredding with these elite weapons. 25.25-point team totals are hard to fade in December. ... Keep an eye out on Deebo Samuel (limited-DNP-limited) and Trent Williams (DNP on Friday) before the game.
Stud LT Christian Darrisaw (concussion) remains out, but he played well without him last week.
A ranking well below his seasonal averages, but this is the toughest matchup for Tua yet, by a wide margin. Not only is this on the road against a 49ers defense that's allowing -0.15 EPA per dropback when Nick Bosa is on the field per SIS, but Tua will be without offseason splash LT Terron Armstead (pec) this week and beyond. When Armstead has missed, the Dolphins' OL pressure rate has gone from 27% to 51%. His potential replacements (Austin Jackson and Liam Eichenburg) aren't playing either. It's not a surprise to see Miami's team total down at 21.25 points.
Stud RT Tristan Wirfs (ankle) is week-to-week. He's PFF's No. 4 OT and No. 3 pass blocking OT this year. It's impossible to overstate his absence for Brady and the offense's ceiling, especially with this coaching staff. Brady hasn't been created explosive plays this year (see above) and those will be harder to create with pressure now coming from everywhere. The good news is that Chris Godwin had his best game of 2022 last week. Expect dinking-and-dunking on Sunday.
The Steelers defense with T.J. Watt: -0.2 EPA per play allowed. Without him? 0.09 per Sports Info Solutions. This is over a massive amount of snaps and is quite believable given how good he is.
The tanking Bears are without LB Roquan Smith, EDGE Robert Quinn, and FS Eddie Jackson right now (S Jaquan Brisker and CB Kyler Gordon also haven't practiced due to concussions), but the Packers slow-paced, run-heavy offense still projects for only 23.75 points with Rodgers dealing with thumb and rib injuries.
The Giants have been without LG Ben Bredeson, RT Evan Neal, and TE Daniel Bellinger since Week 7. All might return this week. They'll need them against Washington's lethal front seven. A low team total (19.0) is warranted, but Danny Dimes can backdoor into QB2 production with his 41.0 rushing yards per game.
Coming off his best game of the year, Pickett rides the Post-Bye Rookie Bump into Atlanta with a middle-of-the-pack 22.25 implied team total. This is the best he's projected all year.
Far more comfortable in the pocket, the White Guy will keep the Jets pass catchers afloat more often than Zach Wilson, who still struggles with coverages (and suddenly accuracy).
Toasted with OT Garett Bolles, OT Billy Turner, OG Lloyd Cushenberry, WR Tim Patrick, WR Jerry Jeudy, WR KJ Hamler, and RB Chase Edmonds all injured.
There is in-game benching risk.
On top of Cooper Kupp and Allen Robinson, the Rams have six (6) OL on injured reserve right now.
Read the player notes above. Rankings below are half PPR.
Nick Chubb - He has at least 22 carries in all 4 wins this year. They're 7-point favorites agains the Texans. What's the projection where you'd take the lower on his rushing yards? Does it exist???
Kenneth Walker - We discussed him in detail here. Rams missing three key starters on the DL, including Aaron Donald. Ever heard of him?
Rhamondre Stevenson - Expected half PPR points per game: With Damien Harris (12.4), without (19.1). Harris is out.
Christian McCaffrey (Questionable) - He's playing through tendinitis, which requires rest to heal. CMC had 13.3 expected half PPR points last week, but this is a more important game versus Miami and no Eli Mitchell may force their hand.
Dalvin Cook - The biggest positive regression candidate of the week according to The Fantasy Usage Model. Buy.
Derrick Henry - The volume is there regardless, but pay attention to the injury reports here with Titans C Ben Jones (concussion) and Eagles DT Jordan Davis (ankle) questionable to play.
Josh Jacobs (Questionable) - He's playing through a calf injury (limitedx3) and will need game-day warmups before officially being active, but he's expected to play. There is legitimate downside risk here. He also could total 300 yards. We're rolling dice in the afternoon window. Have a contingency plan in place.
Saquon Barkley - He's averaged 52 more total yards per game when RT Evan Neal, LG Ben Bredeson, and TE Daniel Bellinger are in the lineup. They're all due back after getting injured in Week 7.
Aaron Jones - A live look at the Bears (tanking) defense:
Travis Etienne (Questionable) - They say the foot injury is minor, yet he didn't go back in despite a tie ball game in the 4th quarter. I'm forced to believe the practice reports here. Etienne was limited all week. The upside in Detroit is massive if he's able to handle a normal workload.
Samaje Perine - Joe Mixon (concussion) remains in the protocol and will likely miss. Perine has had 14.3 and 18.2 expected half PPR points in relief, making him a fringe RB1 in a high-scoring environment.
David Montgomery - "Eruption spot" in terms of efficiency and he's had 14.6/17.6 expected half PPR points in his two games without Khalil Herbert. Upside RB2.
Jamaal Williams - In a 3-RB committee, the only one with legit value is the Big Dog who eats at the goal line. That's Gyration King Jamaal Williams right now, and we have to believe in it as a boom-bust RB2. The Lions are 8th in implied team total (25.0 points) in a home game against Jacksonville this week.
Miles Sanders - His usage has been sporadic, as the offense debates how much they want to pass, use Jalen Hurts' legs, and the other RBs on the depth chart. Last week, it was a huge Sanders workload week. The Titans are allowing the fewest runs in neutral game scripts, however. This is a Goliath vs. Goliath in the trenches. Testosterone levels are spiking.
Tony Pollard - The rotation and expected fantasy points are basically the same between Pollard and Zeke right now. Pollard needs big plays. Zeke needs goal line touches. The good news is the Cowboys high-flying offense can support both with the way Dak Prescott and the offensive line are playing.
Ezekiel Elliott - We discussed him in detail here.
Gus Edwards - He is one of "My Guys" here. Gus Bus had upside RB2 usage last week (15.6 exp half PPR) by blowing past Kenyan Drake, who dropped a pass in the flats, too. He's a positive regression candidate and was my favorite RB waiver add of the week.
Alvin Kamara - The Saints were averaging 0.8 fewer yards before contact and 1.9 fewer yards per carry without young stud C Erik McCoy (per Sports Info Solutions), and that was before last week's shutout loss!!! With Mark Ingram stealing the lone inside the 5-yard line touch last week, too, there are some environmental reasons to be worried for Kamara. Only the Rams, Colts, and Broncos project for fewer points than the Saints this week.
Cordarrelle Patterson - ATL removed Caleb Huntley from the rotation last week, leading to an increased 16.3 expected half PPR points for CPatt.
Brian Robinson - King of Big Hats, BRob is officially on the fantasy radar after starting and taking on the lead role in Washington's backfield last week. Antonio Gibson has a foot injury and missed a lot of practice this week (limited-DNP-limited).
Isiah Pacheco - He was one of "My Guys" here, but since then, Jerick McKinnon (hamstring) returned to full practice on Friday after back-to-back DNPs. Still, McKinnon's injury and poor play is bullish for Pacheco, who set season highs in usage last week due to garbage time goal-line carries. Expect similar usage in a high-scoring game.
Jeff Wilson - This assumes Raheem Mostert is back as the RB2. It's possible that OTs Terron Armstead, Austin Jackson, and Liam Eichenburg miss this game against the 49ers on the road.
Dameon Pierce - The Texans were down so bad last week that Pierce lost a chunk of second half reps to Dare Ogunbowale, who could be ahead of Rex Burkhead (concussion) for the rest of the year. While very bad, the Texans aren't likely to be down that horrendous this week, giving Pierce some no-floor RB2 hopes against a Browns defense that's last in many rushing categories.
D'Andre Swift - Nearly a full month of full practices, yet Swift is buried to between-the-20s work only. This is a performance-based benching of sorts until Swift stops bouncing plays to the outside in hopes of a home run. Swift is the NFL's version of Adam Dunn right now (for the 2010s fantasy baseball nerds out there).
Rachaad White - Leonard Fournette is expected back, but White has earned more looks in what is an average at best offense. No star RT Tristan Wirfs makes this league-worst rushing efficiency offense even worse. Can Tom Brady support two fantasy RBs right now? I'm not sure.
Leonard Fournette - Full practices this week.
Najee Harris - He was left off the injury report after DNP-DNP-limited practices, which is odd, so I'm assuming he's playing at not full health.
Zonovan Knight - Michael Carter (ankle) is out. Knight played early and ahead of James Robinson (healthy scratch) last week, while Ty Johnson mixed in, too. This likely will be an iffy 3-RB committee with Bam Knight leading the way.
Devin Singletary - Lower than usual team total (23.75 points).
Antonio Gibson (Questionable) - Limited-DNP-limited in practice.
Kyren Williams - I'm surprised the Rams project for 17.0 points to be honest.
Tyrion Davis-Price - I assume he's ahead of Jordan Mason, who has been active over TDP because of special teams. The rookie could absorb some of Eli Mitchell's (IR) recent role, and even that could grow if Christian McCaffrey's knee tendinitis flares up. At the same time, there are Tevin Coleman whispers. This is the wild west.
Jordan Mason - A special teamer to date.
Darrell Henderson (Questionable)
Read the player notes above. Rankings below are half PPR.
Amon-Ra St. Brown
Amari Cooper - Texans CB1 Derek Stingley (hamstring) DNP on Wednesday.
A.J. Brown - Revenge game + TEN is 31st vs. WRs.
DK Metcalf - Major positive regression candidate.
Christian Kirk - He is one of "My Guys" here.
Ja'Marr Chase - Chase said he's preparing to play vs KC, "we're going to see how I feel later in the week, but I'm expecting to take some reps." It sounds like there could be some limitations but things are trending up ahead of a potential shootout against the Chiefs. He was limited-limited-full in practice.
Garrett Wilson - His expected half PPR points go from 6.3 with Zach Wilson to 17.5 with everyone else. This week, a domed environment against the high-scoring Vikings, who are missing CB Cameron Dantzler, FS Lewis Cine, and CB Andrew Booth in the secondary.
Mike Evans - Major positive regression candidate.
Brandon Aiyuk - This assumes Deebo Samuel isn't 100% healthy.
Christian Watson - Despite missing time, Watson's 3.9 TDs over expected are leading all WRs. This is both good and bad news. The good news: it means he's a big play threat. The bad news: this isn't sustainable. That being said, Watson is still top-20 in expected half PPR points because where he is used is valuable for fantasy football. Boom-bust WR2 is fair, especially if Romeo Doubs (ankle) returns this week.
JuJu Smith-Schuster - We discussed him in detail here. This week, a matchup with the Bengals, who are without CB1 Chidobe Awuzie. Without him, the Bengals have allowed 1.0+ yards per target and a +4.4% completion rate.
Terry McLaurin - Leading the NFL in deep targets (again).
DeVonta Smith - We discussed him in detail here.
Joshua Palmer - We discussed him in detail here.
Chris Olave - Let's see if Bucs safeties Antoine Winfield and Logan Ryan play, but the Saints OL play has dropped to an unwatchable level.
George Pickens - We discussed him in detail here.
Zay Jones - We discussed him in detail here.
Nico Collins - Brandin Cooks (calf) is out.
Treylon Burks - We discussed him in detail here.
Allen Lazard - Romeo Doubs (limitedx3) returning could move Lazard to the slot or sideline more often.
Donovan Peoples-Jones - He is one of "My Guys" here.
Deebo Samuel (Questionable) - He's very questionable after limited-DNP-limited in practice due to a quad injury but Sunday reporting suggests he'll tough it out. ... Between more target competition, natural regression, and injury, Deebo's fantasy value has (predictably) plunged this year. One other reason: fewer deep targets, the kind that are very valuable for fantasy. His aDOT has dropped bigly:
Michael Gallup - We discussed him in detail here.
Jakobi Meyers (Questionable) - Limited all week in practice after dinging up his shoulder last week.
Courtland Sutton - Jerry Jeudy returns.
Van Jefferson - 10.7 expected half PPR points in his first game without Cooper Kupp and Allen Robinson. The disgusting WR sleeper of the week.
Isaiah McKenzie - We discussed him in detail here.
Read the player notes above. Rankings below are half PPR.
Mark Andrews - Play Like An All Pro Instead Of Dropping TDs Challenge.
George Kittle - Deebo Samuel may miss, and CMC is playing through an injury.
Dalton Schultz - Tied for the highest team total of the week.
Pat Freiermuth - The Steelers team total is higher than normal this week, which is a welcomed sight for Freiermuth. He's been buried in TDs and expected TDs in this below-average offense, but Freiermuth is a good player on a potentially ascending offense.
Foster Moreau - At least one more week without Darren Waller, who the Raiders staff and Derek Carr seem frustrated with.
Dawson Knox - No LT Dion Dawkins against EDGE Matthew Judon likely means Knox stays in to block more often and could mean the Bills offense isn't as potent in general. He is completely TD-or-bust.
Taysom Hill - No Juwan Johnson.
Harrison Bryant - Has vastly underperformed in the absence of David Njoku (out) this season.
The defenses of the week are the Cowboys, Ravens, Packers, Seahawks, Commanders, Eagles, Bucs, Bills, Browns, and Steelers.
To me, this is the most beatable DFS game out there, as drafters too often go off the default rankings. Simply add one or two players who are commonly undrafted to get a unique DFS team. And of course, stack. I truly believe my readers/followers would enjoy the game theory (and the edge) of this contest.