• Joe Mixon is locked in as top RB in a perfect matchup
  • Courtland Sutton looks to prove he got snubbed by the Pro Bowl
  • The Dolphins will continue to rely on DeVante Parker on Sunday

In advance of Sunday’s games, I wanted to isolate specific advantageous matchups that could be interesting from a fantasy and prop perspective. 

21-10 (68%) ALL-TIME

Running Backs

Joe Mixon

  • After a very slow start to the season, Mixon has been hot lately, receiving at least 18 carries in the last four games and 48 carries in the last two games combined.
  • Mixon has done a great job taking advantage of his opportunities, gaining 282 yards on the ground in the last two games while also adding 60 yards receiving on 6 receptions.
  • It’s clear the Bengals are relying on Mixon to carry the offense down the stretch. Now he gets to face a Miami run defense that ranks 29th in success rate allowed, 29th in DVOA run defense, have allowed the ninth-highest percentage of explosive runs and rank dead last in adjusted line yards allowed.
  • Mixon has faced three bottom 10 DVOA run defenses this season and had two excellent games against Oakland and the Browns, gaining 86 and 146 yards on 38 combined carries with 2 TDs. He struggled against Jacksonville with 2 yards on 10 carries. I will be betting on Mixon having a big game and not a repeat of the game against Jacksonville.
  • An underrated injury is the loss of Raekwon McMillan at LB for the Dolphins. Based on PFF, McMillan ranks sixth-best at LB in the NFL in “stop percentage,” meaning the percentage of tackles that result in an unsuccessful play for the offense. He also rates as the ninth-best LB in terms of PFF run defense grades. McMillan is by far the best run defender among all Dolphin LBs with a grad of 77 while his replacement Sunday is Deon Lacey with a 60 run defensive grade. Mixon is in for a monster game up the middle.

Marlon Mack

  • Mack has really struggled since coming back from his injury but between a great matchup against the worst rush defense in the NFL and a back to the basics scenario for the Colts, I really like Mack on Sunday.
  • We have highlighted RBs against this Carolina defense the last few weeks and have hit on Chris Carson and Devonta Freeman.
  • Carolina ranks dead last in DVOA run defense has allowed the highest explosive run percentage in the NFL.
  • After getting embarrassed against the Saints on MNF with Jacoby Brissett struggling, I expect Frank Reich to get back to the Colts’ strength, which is the run game and offensive line.
  • A great matchup plus the opposing team starting a rookie QB in Will Grier on a team that is a sinking ship, makes Mack an excellent play on Sunday.

Tight Ends

Zach Ertz

  • Seems fairly obvious but the key to beating Dallas most likely lies in the ability of the Eagles to get Ertz the ball as often as possible.
  • Dallas is 25th in target percentage allowed to TEs this season and in the last six weeks, the Cowboys rank 31st in success rate allowed to TEs.
  • Ertz has received at least 10 targets in five of the last six games and has scored 5 TDs during that stretch.

Jacob Hollister

  • Going back to the well with a TE facing this Arizona defense that ranks last in yards per attempt allowed to TEs and has allowed a 23% target share this season.
  • In the Week 4 matchup against Arizona, Seattle TE Will Dissly was targeted a team-high 8 times with 7 catches and 57 yards. 
  • Hollister has received 17 targets with 13 receptions in the last three games.
  • Last week against a Cleveland team down to its backup TEs, the Cards allowed Ricky Seals-Jones to catch three passes with two going for TDs.

Wide Receiver

Courtland Sutton

  • After inexplicably being snubbed from the Pro Bowl, look for a big statement game from Sutton.
  • Not only are the Lions the 29th-ranked pass defense according to DVOA, but they have been burned by the deep ball all season. Detroit’s secondary rates dead last in average depth of target (ADOT) per pass attempt. 
  • As pointed out in my column last week, Breshad Perriman was set up for a monster game because of the deep ball and he came through big time.
  • Now it’s Sutton’s turn. He ranks 17th in 20+ yard targets, fifth in receiving yards on those 20+ targets, and has the fifth-best in catch percentage on deep balls. 
  • The weather is expected to be perfect in Denver with temperatures in the 60s and no wind.

DeVante Parker

  • Parker has been excellent this season and hopes to continue his play with Ryan Fitzpatrick under center. Since Preston Williams went down with injury, he has received 40 targets (8 per game), 26 receptions (5.2 per game), 486 yards (97 yards per game), and 4 TDs.
  • The Bengals are 27th in DVOA pass defense, 28th defending the deep pass and dead last in YAC per reception allowed. 
  • Parker ranks 14th in deep targets and 11th in deep receptions.

Greg Ward

  • Ward broke out last week for the Eagles with 7 receptions, 61 yards, and a game-winning TD catch.
  • He has received 9 targets in back to back weeks and has become Wentz’s second favorite target outside of Ertz.
  • Ward has spent over 53% of his snaps in the slot the last two games and has responded with 7 receptions on 11 targets. Jourdan Lewis for the Cowboys has been burned lately defending slot WRs.