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Fantasy Football: Top smash plays, upgrades and fades for Week 18

Jacksonville, Florida, USA; Buffalo Bills running back Devin Singletary (26) runs with the ball in the first half against the Jacksonville Jaguars at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Week 18 of the NFL season is here, and so is the weekly look at the top smash, upgrade and fade plays for fantasy football. I'll integrate NFL totals, spreads, implied points and proprietary PFF matchup data each week, looking for players who score highly or poorly across all metrics.


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We will also look at the projected DFS rostership for additional context for building tournament lineups.

KEY:

  • SOS: PFF's Fantasy Strength of Schedule (SoS) metric provides a league-wide, season-long view of opponent matchups for each fantasy position.
  • OL Pass Block Advantage (OL PBA): offensive-line pass blocking matchup; derived from the OL/DL Matchup tool (pass blocking advantage — the higher the percentage, the better the matchup for the offensive line, and vice versa).
  • OL Run Block Advantage (OL RBA): offensive-line pass blocking matchup; derived from the OL/DL Matchup tool (run blocking advantage — the higher the percentage, the better the matchup for the offensive line, and vice versa).
  • WR/CB Matchup Advantage (WR/CB MU): wide receiver versus cornerback matchup; derived from the WR/CB Matchup tool (matchup advantage grade — the higher the grade, the better the matchup for the receiver, and vice versa).
  • TE Matchup Advantage (TE MU): tight end versus linebackers and safeties; derived from the TE Matchup tool (matchup advantage — the higher the percentage, the better the matchup for the tight end, and vice versa).
  • Projected PPR Points (PPR Proj)

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QUARTERBACKS

For quarterbacks, we are looking for big point totals and implied points. The spread doesn't matter as much for pass-heavy teams, but we are looking for trailing scripts that could cause run-heavy offenses to throw more than usual.

Smashes
Player Opponent Total Spread Implied Points QB SOS OL PBA PPR
Josh Allen NYJ 41.0 -16.0 28.50 7.8 12 25.9
Kyler Murray SEA 48.0 -6.5 27.25 7.0 19 24.2

Allen will likely be one of the most-rostered quarterbacks (13%) on the Week 18 slate, but for good reasons. The Buffalo Bills continue to throw the ball more than the NFL average in all game scripts, and they need a victory to ensure their status as AFC East champs. Additionally, the New York Jets allow the sixth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks over the last six weeks (22.4).

Murray and the Arizona Cardinals can still take the NFC West with a win over the Seattle Seahawks and a Los Angeles Rams‘ loss to the San Francisco 49ers. The third-year quarterback is using his legs more than any other time this season, opening the possibility of a slate-breaking performance.

Note: Aaron Rodgers would have also made the smash section, but the Green Bay Packers have the No. 1 seed wrapped up. He will likely push for as much playing time as he can get with a few incentives and the MVP race hanging in the balance, but at some point, Green Bay will likely sit their starters against the Detroit Lions.

Upgrades
Player Opponent Total Spread Implied Points QB SOS OL PBA PPR
Taysom Hill @ATL 40.0 -3.5 21.75 6.4 11 19.1

Hill and the New Orleans Saints can make the playoffs with a victory over the Falcons and a 49ers' loss to the Rams. The Atlanta Falcons are the type of opponent the running quarterback could crush. Atlanta has allowed the sixth-most regulation rushing attempts per game (29) over the last six weeks.

Hill currently projects under 10% rostership on DraftKings at $6,200.

Fades/Downgrades
Player Opponent Total Spread Implied Points QB SOS OL PBA PPR
Mac Jones @MIA 39.5 -6.0 22.75 4.3 17 15.9
Tua Tagovailoa NE 39.5 6.0 16.75 3.4 -21 15.0
Matt Ryan NO 40.0 3.5 18.25 1.0 -25 17.0

In the last seven games, Jones has four top-10 finishes, but the Miami Dolphins are good in pass coverage. Miami utilizes man coverage more than any other team (47%), and the New England Patriots don't have elite man-beaters. New England will likely look to beat the Dolphins on the ground as the Tennessee Titans did in Week 18.

RUNNING BACKS

We are looking for high-scoring games with big implied point totals. In addition, we want close or leading game scripts for backs who do most of their damage on the ground. For passing-down backs, shootout and trailing game scripts can help.

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