Our DVOA-adjusted Pass and Run game targets are back for Week 17!
Last week went well, with focus players TJ Hockenson, Travis Kelce, Josh Allen, Kirk Cousins, Devin Singletary, James Cook, Derrick Henry, and Baltimore’s rushing attack performing well, in line with our predictions.
Commensurate with my system, the passing attacks of the Bears and Cardinals, and the rushing attacks of the Buccaneers, Chargers, and Colts were all underwhelming.
Passing game targets
Green Bay Packers
The Vikings are very good at covering slot WR (7th in EPA), but not so hot against non-slot WR (32nd). The play here would be Christian Watson if he plays; since Week 14, he runs 72.6% of his routes from out wide, and earns 7 targets per game. If he can’t go, Allen Lazard would be my next choice (68.0% wide-aligned routes and 6.5 targets per game since Week 14). Aaron Rodgers will look to embarrass an overachieving divisional foe.
Kansas City Chiefs
I thought that the Broncos defense was in the elite tier until last week’s debacle against the Rams. With a new head coach in tow, Denver may choose to rediscover their defensive identity. They rank 1st vs non-slot WR, 5th vs slot WR, 2nd in net yards per pass attempt, and 7th in points allowed. The only play for me is Travis Kelce against the 21st-ranked TE defense (Tyler Higbee can vouch).
Played on Thursday
In the marquee matchup of the week, two playoff-bound teams meet in a possible foreshadowing game. Cincinnati’s defense does well in most aspects, but they do not defend slot WR well (29th). The play this week is whoever plays slot WR for the Bills. The problem is that there isn’t a dominant one: Cole Beasley is back, and Isaiah McKenzie is an intermittent producer. It would be a dice roll. Josh Allen is the best way to get exposure to this offense.
The Patriot defense is well above average in most categories. They rank 5th vs non-slot WR, 9th vs TE, 7th vs the run, and 5th in points allowed. The only glaring chink in their armor is slot WR defense, where they rank 23rd. Another Tyreek Hill game may be in the works. Bill Belichick usually tries to remove the opponent’s best weapon, but he will have to pick his poison between speedsters Hill and Jaylen Waddle.
Passing game fades: Titans, Panthers, Rams, Giants
Rushing game targets
Detroit is hunting for an unlikely playoff spot. Chicago wants to stop them. Justin Fields is the way. The Lions rank last in net yards per pass attempt, last in yards allowed, last in points allowed, and 28th vs the run.
The Texans might be a dumpster fire, but they are a feisty one. Downing the Titans and putting up valiant efforts against the Cowboys and the Chiefs means that the Jaguars should approach this game with trepidation. Travis Etienne is a must-play. Houston ranks 24th vs the run, allows the 7th-most points, and allows the 3rd-most first downs. Etienne catches passes and has the skills to dominate.
Jalen Hurts has practiced, but his playing status is undetermined as of this article being written. Miles Sanders makes a great play again either way, facing the 22nd-ranked run defense.
The Jamaal Williams touchdown train has slowed to a stop. D’Andre Swift has more talent and will hopefully get more opportunity against the terrible Bears defense. Chicago is 29th vs the run and 30th in points allowed.
Rookie bruiser Tyler Allgier has commandeered the Falcon’s backfield and gets a juicy matchup against a deadbeat Cardinals team ranked 23rd vs the run. Arizona also allows the 3rd-most points and 5th-most first downs.
Run game fades: Raiders, Texans, Chargers, Steelers
(Stats courtesy of Football Outsiders and Trumedia Networks)