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Fantasy Football: Top smash plays, upgrades and fades for Week 15

October 11, 2020; Santa Clara, California, USA; San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle (85) warms up against the Miami Dolphins before the game at Levi's Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Week 15 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.

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

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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)

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
Kyler Murray @DET 47.5 -12.5 30.00 10.0 10 24.9

Murray and the Cardinals are heavy favorites against the Lions, and Arizona is willing to run the ball when leading. Those two factors are typically enough to keep a player out of smash status, but Murray has 139 yards on the ground with two rushing touchdowns over his past two games. His designed rush attempts and scrambles combine to account for 32% of the Cardinals' attempts. Murray and Chase Edmonds could shoulder more of the rushing load with James Conner questionable for Sunday.

Upgrades
Player Opponent Total Spread Implied Points QB SOS OL PBA PPR
Matthew Stafford SEA 45.0 -4.0 24.50 6.8 33 21.4
Kirk Cousins @CHI 44.0 -5.5 24.75 8.7 6 14.7
Jimmy Garoppolo ATL 46.5 -9.5 28.00 7.7 34 18.5

Stafford makes the upgrade list tentatively, given the impact of COVID-19. The Rams have a league-leading 25 players on the list — only three of which are offensive starters (Rob Havenstein, Odell Beckham Jr. and Darrell Henderson).

The offense remains in a good spot, assuming that Stafford has the rest of his offensive line and his remaining receivers. Los Angeles may need more points from their offense, with Von Miller, Troy Reeder, Jalen Ramsey and Jordan Fuller on the list.

  • Scoring Environment: the fifth-best game total and No. 8 implied points
  • Matchups: seventh-ranked QB SOS and the second-highest OL PBA

Cousins didn't have to do much in Week 14 with Dalvin Cook running wild, but the Vikings' quarterback has a top-12 finish in five of his past six starts. Minnesota is on pace to throw the ball 12% more than in 2020 when the game is within three points, and the Vikings play in close scripts the second-most (47%). They aren't a pass-heavy team, but this improvement has been enough to protect Cousins from poor dropback totals.

  • Scoring Environment: average game total and seventh-highest implied points
  • Matchups: top-four QB SOS and ninth-best OL PBA

Garoppolo's scoring environment and matchups are elite, but the 49ers are the third-heaviest run team in the NFL, running the ball more than the NFL average in all game scripts. San Francisco could be without Elijah Mitchell (questionable) again, and the veteran quarterback has three legit playmakers in the passing game, providing spike week potential. He currently projects for 6% rostership on DraftKings.

  • Scoring Environment: third-highest game total and implied points
  • Matchups: sixth-best QB SOS and No. 1 OL PBA
Fades/Downgrades

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