Welcome to FedEx Air and Ground fantasy analysis. Each week, we'll highlight some favorable quarterback plays and a few running backs that could prove valuable for fantasy owners based on matchups, projected game flow, and most essentially, talent. With Week 16 in the books and another sample of fantasy points against data to work with, here are a few matchups to exploit in Week 17. These players might just win your week.
Matt Moore vs. Patriots
In fact, Miami's offense has averaged 12.4 more points per game with Moore starting compared to when Tannehill was under center. Moore also has a passer rating over 20 points higher than Tannehill's and the former has been a more efficient scorer: Moore has scored on nearly 10 percent more of his drives than Tannehill did.
All right, so Moore is playing better in two games than Tannehill did in about 13. Big deal, it's not like the bar was set very high, and Moore had a cake matchup against the Jets in his first start. So why should you consider him as a fantasy option this week against the Patriots?
Well Moore has been able to spread the ball around to his wideouts pretty evenly thus far. Jarvis Landry, DeVante Parker and Kenny Stills have 10, 10 and 11 receptions respectively through the last two games, with four combined touchdowns. Moore has also thrown two touchdown passes to tight end Dion Sims and has just two picks in that span. And in terms of fantasy production, Moore is the 10th-highest scoring quarterback over the last two weeks with more fantasy points than players like Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger and Philip Rivers.
With a dearth of healthy quarterbacks heading into Week 17, there are worse fantasy options than Moore against the Patriots this week in a game in which he'll likely be throwing a ton.
Alex Smith at Chargers
The way the Chiefs' offense has been firing lately (484 total yards last week), it's easy to see why Alex Smith makes for a frisky fantasy play in Week 17. His fantasy ceiling is capped due to his lack of touchdown passing just as it's always been. But it's a promising sign that the Chiefs have leaned more on the pass this year than in previous seasons.
Smith is averaging a career-high 231.3 passing yards per game this season and since he returned from injury in Week 10, Smith has averaged 33 pass attempts per game. The emergence of rookie Tyreek Hill and star tight end Travis Kelce have a lot to do with Smith's newfound passing success. Smith has a 110.4 passer rating this year when targeting Hill and Kelce compared to an 80.4 rating when targeting others. He's thrown over half of his touchdown passes this year to the aforementioned duo. Plus, Hill and Kelce are beasts after the catch, gaining valuable yards that pad Smith's stat line. Kelce leads all tight ends with 229 yards after the catch, while we've seen what Hill can do more than once when given the ball in space.
Smith faces a Chargers' team that he posted a season-high 363 pass yards against back in Week 1 and is playing for a division title and possibly a first-round bye. Fire Smith up with confidence Sunday.
DeAndre Washington at Broncos
Since Derek Carr is out (leg) on Sunday, the Raiders will likely lean on the run against the Broncos. And that's just fine considering the Raiders rank in the top 10 in the NFL in terms of rushing yards per game. Oakland has also posted 130-plus rushing yards in four straight contests. That means more opportunities for guys like DeAndre Washington.
With two 22-yard rushing scores last week against the Colts, Washington became the first player to score two rushing touchdowns of 20-plus yards in a single game this season. He's been much more effective than Latavius Murray on far fewer touches over the Raiders' last two games. Washington is averaging a ridiculous 7.2 yards per carry in that span with 122 rush yards and two scores on 17 carries. Murray could see his touches decline even further if Washington can keep producing against the Broncos defense, a unit which by no means is a threat to running backs.
Denver's defense is allowing 51.6 more rushing yards per game this season than last season (135.2). They've also allowed 1,609 rush yards to running backs, fifth-most in the NFL. Washington should have no problem finding room to run against Denver on Sunday.
Kenneth Dixon will be out to prove himself in the Ravens' regular season finale on Sunday against the Bengals. The rookie has seen his role grow out of Baltimore's backfield down the stretch and has shown his explosiveness and toughness on film. And in addition to his ability to run between the tackles, he has good hands and has hauled in 27 receptions despite a slow start due to a knee injury.
Over the last three games, Dixon has out-carried (32-25) his committee counterpart in Terrance West. Both backs have been about even in terms of efficiency (4.1 ypc for Dixon, 4.2 ypc for West), but Dixon has been the one finding the paint, which is obviously the most important factor in fantasy. Each back has four red-zone touches in the last three weeks, but Dixon has two touchdowns to West's zero.
Dixon may be featured against the Bengals as a sort of "tryout" for next season. The Bengals have allowed 1,460 rush yards and 628 receiving yards to running backs this season to go along with 11 total touchdowns, so the opportunity is there against a Cincinnati defense that just gave up 15 fantasy points to Alfred Blue last week. If Dixon sees anywhere from 10-15 touches in this game, expect him to have RB2-type fantasy production on Sunday.
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