The Fantasy Football Matchups Column returns for Week 15 of the 2021 NFL season. The column will break down key matchups for the most important players each week to provide tips for NFL DFS, player prop bettors and season-long fantasy football setting lineups on Yahoo, ESPN, Sleeper and CBS. Let us dive into the all the NFL DFS tips matchups and daily fantasy football lineup decisions.
Week 15 Daily Fantasy Football Matchups & Player Props
Quarterback: Aaron Rodgers
Rodgers announced that he had had a setback with his injured toe last Sunday against the Bears, but one would have trouble finding where it affected him in the stat sheet last Sunday, as Rodgers threw for 341 yards against the Bears’ middling secondary, the third-highest yardage in a game this season. Rodgers was also highly efficient in Week 14, topping 9 yards per attempt for the third time this season. Rodgers now ranks second in the NFL in adjusted completion percentage and in total expected points added (EPA) and top five in true passer rating and Total QBR. All things considered, he is a slight positive regression candidate in terms of fantasy scoring despite a strong but sustainable 6.6% touchdown rate, down from nearly 9% a season ago. Rodgers faces the Ravens this weekend, and while Baltimore has a reputation for being stout defensively, it now ranks bottom five in the NFL in yards allowed per pass attempt. Take the over on 277.5 yards passing and 2.5 touchdowns passing for Rodgers.
Quarterback: Mike Glennon
It is tough to bet on anyone in the Giants offense right now. They rank bottom 10 in the NFL in per-play offensive efficiency and are likely without multiple receiving weapons and their starting quarterback. That means Glennon is in line to make yet another start, this time against the Cowboys, a team he faced already this season. In relief of Daniel Jones in Week 5, Glennon averaged nearly 8 yards per attempt and added a touchdown on 26 passes. Dallas has been an extremely opportunistic defense, relying heavily on turnovers in order to maintain their top-10 defensive efficiency this season, and they have a high likelihood of turning Glennon over multiple times. But with a Cowboys blowout likely impending, look for Glennon to attempt plenty of passes in a likely- utile comeback effort. Awesemo’s Player Props Tool loves the over for both Glennon’s yards passing prop (195 yards) and touchdowns passing prop (0.5 touchdowns), projecting well over both numbers this weekend.
Running Back: Najee Harris
Harris’ salary does not look like it is worth paying up for this weekend. Facing the Titans in one of the lowest-total games on the slate, Harris is a near lock for 20 opportunities and could easily see 25 looks if the game against Tennessee remains close throughout. Furthermore, it was exciting to see Pittsburgh’s offense come alive in the second half against the Vikings last Thursday night. Even without a strong offensive line (the Steelers are below average in PFF run blocking grades), if Pittsburgh is capable of putting up 25-plus points in a half, their running back should gobble up at least some of that production. But Awesemo’s tools are not so sure, indicating that the best course of action for the Steelers to take would be to pass as much as possible on a weak Tennessee secondary. Harris’ projection is also hampered by the fact that the Titans remain one of the run-heaviest teams in the league, even without Derrick Henry, which limits the number of plays in their games. It is always scary to fade a top-tier player entirely. But despite a projection hovering right around the prop line, Awesemo’s Player Props Tool suggests locking in the under on Harris’ current prop of 70.5 yards rushing. Awesemo is also bearish on 20.5 yards receiving for Harris.
Wide Receiver: Chase Claypool
Staying in the Pittsburgh – Tennessee matchup, it turns out Awesemo’s projections are simply unable to trust Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers offense. Despite the Titans ranking league average in schedule-adjusted fantasy points allowed, they are quietly ranked second best in the NFL in PFF coverage grade. While it was encouraging to see Pittsburgh make a close game out of what looked to be a potential blowout in Minnesota, they still rank among the 10 worst teams in yards per rush and yards per pass this season. And while Diontae Johnson has a massive target floor, often earning a dozen or more targets in a game, there is no such safety when it comes to receiver Chase Claypool. Despite ranking highly on a per-reception basis, Claypool has seen his usage fluctuate as Pat Freiermuth has become more involved, and even against a middling Tennessee secondary, does not look like a strong value on either DraftKings or FanDuel. Awesemo’s Player Props Tool is equally bearish, as Claypool projects for well below his receiving prop lines this weekend. The Player Props Tool suggests betting the under on both 4.5 completions and 56.5 receiving yards for Claypool this weekend
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Wide Receiver: Amari Cooper
The Cowboys did not need to lean heavily on their passing attack in Week 14, as Dallas ultimately routed a depleted Washington team with ease. In that contest, Cooper had a solid, yet unspectacular statline, catching five of his seven targets for 51 yards. He did, however, find the end zone for just the second time since week five, which helped him rank among the top-24 receivers in fantasy scoring last weekend. Cooper’s opportunity numbers have been down across the board this season, as he ranks 49th in the NFL in target share and 41st in air yards share. He is outside the top-30 wideouts in targets per route run, and yards per route run. But facing the Giants secondary this weekend, a defense that ranks at or below average in yards allowed per attempt and points allowed per play, Cooper could easily top 60 yards receiving for the first time since his Week 8, when he had eight grabs for 122 yards. Cooper projects for just under 65 receiving yards this weekend, which means smash the over on his current prop line of 49.5 yards.
Wide Receiver: Sterling Shepard
Sterling Shepard is listed as questionable for Sunday’s game against the Cowboys, but assuming he plays, Shepard is in line to be the main beneficiary of Glennon’s propensity to target short-area wide receivers. Shepard is the only player on the Giants to earn a target share and air yards share above 20% in the games that he is played this season. For fantasy football purposes, Shepard also has some sneaky upside, as he will likely be avoiding Dallas’ best wideouts by playing in the slot, and Shepard has seen a third of all Giants targets inside the opponents 20- yard line in his six starts this season. Shepard could easily soak up 8 to 10 targets, and if the game gets out of hand early could even see a dozen or more looks, especially without Kadarius Toney active, as he has been placed on the COVID-19 list. Awesemo’s DFS projections absolutely love Shepard as a value play on both DraftKings and FanDuel this weekend and Awesemo’s Player Props Tool currently suggests Shepard’s receiving yards prop line is all sorts of wrong.
Tight End: Geoff Swaim
One of the biggest edges Awesemo’s projections can give you are on lesser-utilized players within popular offenses. The Titans remain in first place in their division , and remain incredibly focused on rushing the football, despite myriad injuries to their top weapons, including Derrick Henry. And yet, it appears that much of the industry is simply assuming the Titans will increase their pass volume, in spite of failing to do so when given repeated opportunities. In this ugly, 41-point Vegas-total game against the Titans, it is not safe to assume any of the remaining Titans passing game weapons have any guaranteed workload. As such, Awesemo’s Player Props Tool is suggesting the under on the receptions prop line for a trio of Titans pass catchers. The projections indicate 2.5 receptions is too steep for part-time tight end Swaim and 4.5 receptions for Julio Jones is also too high. Nick Westbrook-Ikhine’s receptions projection is at least right in-line with his prop line of 3.5 catches, but the Awesemo tools still lean towards the under on that one as well. It is safe to say the Tennessee passing attack is a stay-away spot.
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