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Fantasy Football: Week 13 mismatch manifesto & top blow-up picks

Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Browns running back Nick Chubb (24) runs with the ball as Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Joe Tryon-Shoyinka (9) pursues during the first half at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

  • Don't be surprised if Nick Chubb is the latest back to eviscerate a Texans front-seven that has been torched by the heavy majority of running backs they have faced off against this season.
  • Aaron Jones is a top-15 option with serious boom potential against the league’s sixth-worst defense in PPR points per game allowed to opposing running backs.
  • Terry McLaurin is his usual upside WR2 self against a Giant defense expected to be without CB Adoree’ Jackson (knee) for a few more weeks.
Estimated reading time: 28 minutes

The NFL is a matchup-driven league. Offensive coordinators are always looking to scheme their playmakers into one-on-one situations against a defender, while defensive coordinators will attempt to do anything in their power to upset the timing and rhythm of the opposing QB.

Despite the obvious impact that defenses have on opposing offenses, fantasy players and fans alike are often left with one-way metrics to describe offenses and defenses that they are then forced to compare against each other in an attempt to identify mismatches.

The goal here is to provide easy-to-decipher charts and notes to define each week’s key matchups and advantages on both sides of the ball in:

  • Explosive Plays
  • Pace
  • Pressure
  • Yards Before Contact
  • Pass yards per dropback
  • EPA

The following charts display matchup-specific information meant to highlight the largest mismatches in these ever-important facets of football to ultimately gain actionable betting and fantasy takeaways. And, of course, to have fun.

Explosive Plays

Big plays make the football world go round. Matchups between explosive offenses and leaky defenses are exactly what we’re looking for when compiling game stacks in DFS, or when betting an over.

  • Explosive Pass Rate: The sum of an offense’s rate of 20-plus yard completions per pass attempt and the opposing defense’s rate of 20-plus yard completions allowed per pass attempt. A higher percentage is better for offenses (blue is good, red is bad).
  • Explosive Run Rate: The sum of an offense’s rate of 15-plus yard gains per rush attempt and the opposing defense’s rate of 15-plus yard runs allowed per rush attempt. A higher percentage is better for offenses (blue is good, red is bad).

These offenses breed explosive plays: Four offenses are averaging an explosive pass play on at least 10% of their dropbacks: Patriots (11.1%), Chiefs (10.5%), Dolphins (10.4%) and Lions (10.2%).

Is this the best version of Patrick Mahomes yet?: Pretty close!

Year PFF Pass Grade Passer Rating YPA aComp% BTT% TWP%
2018 92.8 113.8 8.79 78.8% 7.8% 3.2%
2019 81.9 105.3 8.33 76.4% 5.7% 2.5%
2020 90.4 108.2 8.06 76.7% 7.4% 3.2%
2021 73.2 98.5 7.35 78.3% 3.3% 2.8%
2022 88.7 105.3 8.1 78.2% 4.8% 2.3%

While Mahomes still doesn’t quite boast the same gaudy efficiency measures as his breathtaking 2018 campaign, he’s still been awfully incredible while putting the ball at risk at a career-low rate.

At the end of the day: Nobody is averaging more points per game (29.6) than the Chiefs this season, which is kind of the goal. The MVP frontrunner will look to keep on keeping on in Week 13’s AFC Championship rematch against the Bengals.

Good offense beats good defense in today’s NFL: Offenses set up to thrive in their quest to create some explosive pass plays: Packers, Falcons, Lions, Texans and especially the Chiefs.

Is Christian Watson suddenly an every-week starter in fantasy land?: You had better have a DAMN good reason to put him anywhere near the fantasy bench at this point. Overall, Watson has peeled off 4-107-3, 4-48-2 and 4-110-1 receiving lines over the past three weeks. Yes, Watson has only seen eight, six and six targets in those games. Also yes, the rookie has objectively been one of the position’s most efficient performers this season on a per-route basis.

Most yards per route run in 2022 (min. 25 targets)

The Bears’ 28th-ranked defense in PFF coverage grade is hardly a group to fear: Jaylon Johnson (64.4, 70th) is their highest-graded cornerback in pure coverage this season among 138 qualified players. Aaron Rodgers has thrown 18 touchdowns against zero interceptions in seven games against the Bears since joining forces with Matt LaFleur in 2019; don’t be surprised if Watson finds his way to the end zone for the seventh time in four weeks this Sunday.

Our one true Sun God: Amon-Ra St. Brown puts up big numbers pretty much anytime he’s healthy enough to suit up. Overall, the Sun God has finished with fewer than six receptions in just one of his last 13 non-injured games:

  • Week 13, 2021: 10 receptions-86 yards-1 TD (12 targets, PPR WR6)
  • Week 14, 2021: 8-73-0 (12, WR26)
  • Week 15, 2021: 8-90-1 (11, WR6)
  • Week 16, 2021: 9-91-1 (11, WR6)
  • Week 17, 2021: 8-111-1 (11, WR2)
  • Week 18, 2021: 8-109-1 (10, WR9)
  • Week 1, 2022: 8-64-1 (12, WR12)
  • Week 2, 2022: 9-116-2 (12, WR4)
  • Week 3, 2022: 6-73-0 (9, WR37)
  • Week 8, 2022: 7-69-0 (10, WR23)
  • Week 9, 2022: 4-55-0 (9, WR31)
  • Week 10, 2022: 10-119-0 (11, WR8)
  • Week 11, 2022: 7-76-0 (8, WR16)
  • Week 12, 2022: 9-122-1 (10, WR3)

Wait before overly trusting anyone else in this passing game considering Josh Reynolds (back) should have a bigger role in his second game back from injury, while Jameson Williams (knee, PUP) also has a chance to suit up for the first time of his NFL career this Sunday against the Jaguars.

Moral of the story: Kings stay kings, and St. Brown’s production has been awfully royal for the better part of the last 12 months.

Offense is easier when the defense sucks: The only three defenses allowing an explosive pass play on at least 10% of their opponent’s dropbacks: Texans (10.6%), Raiders (10.3%) and Steelers (10%).


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