- Damien Williams has a shot to continue his hot play down the stretch
- Seattle will need another MVP-caliber game from Russell Wilson
- A big game is expected from Aaron Jones, but will it be on the ground?
In advance of this weekend’s Divisional Round games, I wanted to isolate specific advantageous matchups that could be interesting from a fantasy and prop perspective.
Houston Texans vs Kansas City Chiefs
Houston offense vs Kansas City defense:
- Based on DVOA ranks, the KC defense ranks 29th defending the run and sixth defending the pass.
- Deshaun Watson has averaged 256 passing yards per game with a median figure of 258 yards. Watson has faced 5 top 10 DVOA pass defenses and averaged 218 passing yards per game in those games. He has only cleared 250 passing yards once in those games and it came in the first meeting between Houston and KC with 280 yards.
- The Chiefs have only allowed two QBs to throw for over 280 yards and on average have allowed 221 passing yards per game.
- Watson did run for 42 yards in the first game against the Chiefs and averaged 29.3 yards rushing per game this season. He has run the ball much more of late and in the last four games, he has rushed for 44, 32, 37, and last week 55 yards against the Bills.
- The main area that teams have attacked this KC defense is on the ground. Carlos Hyde ran for 116 yards on 26 carries in their first matchup and Hyde has averaged 16 carries and 69 yards on the season. In six games against bottom 10 DVOA run defenses, Hyde has averaged 18 carries and 88 yards on the ground. I think his performance on the ground is totally dependent on the game script. If the Texans fall behind early, Hyde will be off the field and not sniff those numbers.
- Duke Johnson has a shot to have a big role in this game Sunday as he will be facing a Chiefs defense that ranks 31st in target share and 24th in YPA to RBs out of the backfield. Duke has at least 30 yards receiving in seven games this season.
- Like last week, DeAndre Hopkins may struggle a bit against a very good secondary. On the season, Hopkins has faced five top 10 DVOA pass defenses and in those games has averaged 6.4 receptions for 66 yards and has 0 TDs in those games. He did not top 90 yards in any of those games. In the other 11 games, he has averaged 7.1 receptions and 84 yards with seven TD receptions. He averages close to 10 targets no matter what level of pass defense he faces. In their first meeting with the Chiefs, Hopkins produced a 12-9-55-0 stat line.
Kansas City offense vs Houston defense:
- The Texans defense ranks 26th defending the pass and 22nd defending the run, based on DVOA rankings. They are 20th allowing explosive runs to RBs and 22nd allowing explosive passes.
- Patrick Mahomes has averaged 288 passing yards per game but if you eliminate the Denver game where he got hurt on a QB sneak in the first half, his average numbers jump to 304 yards per game with a median figure of 315. Against bottom 10 pass defenses, Mahomes averaged 316 yards and 8.7 YPA.
- If you eliminate the two games where Tyreek Hill left early due to injury, against Jacksonville and the Chargers, his per game average is 5.6 receptions and 84.4 yards receiving. In their first game against Houston, Hill was coming back from his injury and only played 51% of the offensive snaps. He still responded with five receptions for 80 yards and two TDs on 10 targets. Houston ranks 22nd in yards per game allowed to No. 1 WRs. In four full games against defenses that are in the bottom 10 in yards allowed to No. 1 WRs, Hill averaged seven receptions for 108 yards with four total TDs. He posted receiving totals of 80, 140, 157, and 55 yards in those games. On the contrary, Hill has not cleared 72 receiving yards since an early game in November against the Titans. It should be noted that the Chiefs have faced multiple tough pass defenses and the Chiefs have been blowing out teams during that stretch.
- Travis Kelce has been remarkably consistent this season, averaging 6.1 receptions and 77 yards receiving. He has caught exactly seven passes in seven of his 16 games played this year. He has received at least 70 yards in 10 games and in 13 games with Mahomes playing a full game, Kelce averaged 81.5 yards per game. Houston is 26th in yardage per game allowed to TEs.
- What we saw towards the end of the season was the re-emergence of RB Damien Williams. In his first six games, Williams rushed for a total of 100 yards on 48 carries. He was awful. But since a November 3 game against the Vikings, Williams is averaging 12.6 carries and 76 rushing yards per game. If you eliminate the Chargers game in Mexico, where Williams only played 12 offensive snaps, Williams is averaging 15 carries and 98 rushing yards. He has received double-digit carries in five games this season and has rushed for at least 65 yards in four of those five games. Where Williams can also add value is in the passing game where the Texans rank 32nd in yards allowed to RBs and 26th in target rate. Williams only averaged 19.4 receiving yards on 2.7 receptions this season but in games where he played over 50% of the offensive snaps, he has averaged 4.6 targets, 3.7 receptions and nearly 28 yards.
Seattle Seahawks vs Green Bay Packers
Seattle offense vs Green Bay defense:
- The Packers defense ranks 10th defending the pass and 23rd defending the run, based on DVOA. The Packers are 24th in percentage of runs going for 10+ yards and 24th in percentage of passes going for 20+ yards.
- Russell Wilson has put up MVP type numbers and has averaged 261 passing yards per game. Interestingly, Wilson performed his best against good pass defenses, averaging 283 yards against 10 top 13 pass defenses. Russ has rushed for 23 yards per game, but that number has jumped for 37 yards in the last two games with both Chris Carson and Rashad Penny out.
- It’s hard to focus on Marshawn Lynch in this game seeing as how bad Lynch has been since he has come back. But there is a good chance Lynch out carries Travis Homer and is going up against a bottom 10 run defense and one that ranks dead last in adjusted line yards allowed. I think Homer’s explosiveness would be better served on Sunday and he could pop a few big runs if given the chance.
- What a breakout game from D.K. Metcalf last week against a weak Eagles secondary. Now he faces a tougher secondary that is 17th in yards per game allowed to No. 1 WR. He has averaged 3.8 receptions for 62.4 yards. It’s hard to imagine Metcalf will be able to match what he produced last week but it’s obvious Wilson is more comfortable with Metcalf than any other WR when it comes to the deep ball. Green Bay is 21st in average depth of target allowed and 29th in explosive passes allowed to WRs. Sometimes all it takes is faith in your WR when tossing the ball up on the outside.
- Tyler Lockett is averaging 5.1 receptions for 65.8 yards per game. His numbers have been volatile all season and he has been hit or miss a lot. He has produced 4 games of 100+ yards but also nine games of under 52 yards receiving. His median yardage figure of 51 yards shows how up and down his season has been. Since Week 10, Lockett is averaging only 44 yards per game with one 120-yard game sprinkled in between five games of under 63 yards. Lockett is being targeted heavily in the red zone as he leads the NFL in targets in the red zone with 13 since Week 14.
- Jacob Hollister has done a nice job filling in at TE and since Week 9, when he started playing at least 69% of the snaps, Hollister has averaged 4.2 receptions for 36.3 yards. Hollister has had some tough matchups this season and has played five games against defenses that rank in the top 6 in fewest yards allowed to TEs. Green Bay is 20th in TE yardage allowed, 22nd in target share and 27th in yards per attempt. Against all other teams not in the top 6, Hollister’s numbers jump to nearly 40 yards per game.
Green Bay offense vs Seattle defense:
- The Seahawks defense ranks 15th defending the pass and 26th defending the run, based on DVOA.
- Aaron Rodgers averaged 250 passing yards per game on the season. He did this while only clearing 250 yards five times all season. His median numbers for the season sit at 234 passing yards. He had two games over 400 yards but also had under 200 passing yards three times. He has faced top 20 pass defenses nine times this season and has thrown for over 235 yards only twice in those games.
- All signs point to a huge day from Aaron Jones, as long as he gets a majority of the carries on Sunday. Seattle allowed 4.8 ypc on the season and against top 10 DVOA run offenses allowed RBs to rush for 5.12 YPC. This was against a set of RBs who would average 4.87 ypc on the season. Against six top 10 run offenses, the Seahawks allowed 100 rushing yards per game to RBs on 19.7 carries.
- Jones averaged 67.8 rushing yards per game on 14.8 carries and a 4.6 ypc average. He did so against a tough set of opponent rush defenses that in aggregate allowed 4.3 YPC on the season. In the last four games, Jones has been on a tear rushing 19 times for 110 yards per game, good for a 5.7 YPC average. He faced five bottom 10 run defenses, like Seattle, and averaged 74 yards on only 12 carries per game.
- Jones could have a major impact in the passing game against a Seattle defense that ranks 26th in yards per game allowed to RBs through the air and 29th in yards per attempt allowed to RBs. Jones has averaged only 29.6 receiving yards on 4.3 targets per game but if you dig a little deeper, it is clear he takes advantage of certain defenses. Against the six pass defenses that he faced that rank in the bottom 10 of the NFL in yards per game allowed to RBs, Jones received 6.7 targets per game with five receptions and 63.5 receiving yards. Even if you eliminate the 159-yard outlier game against the Chiefs, Jones still averaged 44.4 receiving yards against those bottom 10 defenses. He has at least four receptions or 33 yards in all but one of those games. What’s amazing is against all other opponents, Jones is only receiving 1.9 receptions and 9.3 yards per game. It’s crystal clear Rodgers and the Packers know which defenses to attack with RBs.
- Davante Adams was second in the NFL in targets per game at 10.1. He caught seven passes per game for 83 yards. Adams has received at least 10 targets in all but one of his last nine games. With 78.5 median receiving yards per game, you essentially know what you are going to get with Adams on a weekly basis. Seattle ranks middle of the pack in terms of yards allowed to No. 1 WRs.