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NFL Pace Of Play Week 18: Games To Target And Avoid For Fantasy Football

Justin takes a look at the fastest-paced NFL games that could decide fantasy championships in Week 18.

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - DECEMBER 16: Michael Pittman Jr. #11 of the Indianapolis Colts runs the ball after a catch in the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Lucas Oil Stadium on December 16, 2023 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)

Fastest-Paced Games

#1 Houston Texans at Indianapolis Colts

Whichever side wins this game is in the playoffs as the #6 or #7 seed (at a minimum). With a win and a Jaguars loss, Houston would become AFC South champions. The stakes are the same for the Colts. With a win and Jags loss, Indianapolis would be divisional champions. The Texans are 14th in plays run per game (64.3) and are fourth in terms of seconds per snap (27.9). They are also 13th in pass percentage plus pass rate over expected and 13th in non-two-minute no-huddle percentage (8.0%). Meanwhile, the Colts are 10th in plays run per game (64.9) and are first in terms of seconds per snap (27.3). They are also first in non two-minute no huddle percentage (18.4%).

It’s a plus matchup vs. a Colts defense that has been getting gashed over the last month for RB Devin Singletary, who continued to be more explosive than Dameon Pierce last week, and it’s a good matchup for TE Dalton Schultz as well. The matchup isn’t great for the Texans’ passing game, but QB C.J. Stroud is QB6 on the year and putting up nearly 20 fantasy points per game when under center for a full game. WR Nico Collins is also firmly in play; in his last four games with Stroud under center, Collins has erupted for 30/440/2 receiving (on 40 targets).

This is also a good matchup for the QB Gardner Minshew and his WRs and TEs. His play has been erratic, to say the least, so this is more about Michael Pittman, who has seen at least 22% of the Colts’ targets in 10 straight full starts. Houston is allowing the third-most passing yards per game (281.4), so he could have a big game. In his last two games, RB Jonathan Taylor has rushed 39 times for 139 yards, with a TD in each outing. This game has one of the highest projected totals of the week at 47.5.

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#2 Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals

To make the playoffs, the Seahawks have to beat the Cardinals and need Green Bay to lose. The Seahawks are sixth in terms of seconds per snap (28.1). They are also fifth in pass percentage plus pass rate over expected (63.5%) and fourth in non-two-minute no-huddle percentage (13.6%). The Cardinals are seventh-fastest in terms of seconds per snap (28.2) and 11th in terms of non-two-minute no-huddle percentage (9.10%).

This game has great matchups across the board for the Seahawks’ skill positions, and the Cardinals’ defense has been one of the worst at stopping opposing QBs and RBs. Over their last eight games, Arizona has been hammered for the second-most rushing yards per game (140.3). Kenneth Walker, now off the injury report, and even Zach Charbonnet are in play. QB Geno Smith has played well over his last three starts, and WR D.K. Metcalf has come to life with 6/134/3 receiving (vs. Cowboys), 4/56/1 (vs. Titans), and 5/106 (vs. Steelers) in his last three games with Geno under center.

It’s also good matchups across the board for the Cardinals’ skill positions, including a plus matchup for RB James Conner, who has been sensational of late. Over his last four games, Conner has tallied 133, 112, 89, and 105 scrimmage yards. He’s also piled up six TDs in this span. Seattle’s run defense has come unglued as of late. Since Week 9, the Seahawks have given up the most rushing yards per game in the league. QB Kyler Murray, despite a lack of weapons at his disposal, is delivering 22.7 fantasy points per game. TE Trey McBride’s production hasn’t been what fantasy owners have wanted over the last few weeks, but his volume (eight to 10 targets per week) has still been steady, so the points could come this week.  This game is tied with Texans-Colts as the second-highest over/under (47.5).

#3 Buffalo Bills at Miami Dolphins

FanDuel, for some reason, left this game being played on Sunday Night game on the Main Slate, so I will do the same and put it up there with one of the best games of the week. The Bills control their own destiny. If they win, they are AFC East champs (and the #2 seed). Buffalo also clinches a playoff spot if Pittsburgh or Jacksonville loses. Miami has already clinched a playoff spot, but with a victory the Dolphins would become the AFC East champs and the #2 seed. If they lose to the Bills, the Dolphins will be the #6 Wild Card. The Bills are ninth in plays run per game (65.0) and are fourth in terms of seconds per snap (27.9). They are also fifth in non-two-minute no-huddle percentage (13.10%). The Dolphins are fourth in plays run per game (65.8) and 12th in pass percentage plus pass rate over expected (56.8%).

Josh Allen has polished off another great fantasy season with top-12 weekly finishes among QBs in 13-of-16 games, and 10 of those performances were top-six scores. It’s a good matchup for WR Stefon Diggs, who is about as due as your taxes will be in a few months. The Miami defense is banged up so if the Bills can move Diggs around away from CB Jalen Ramsey, he should be able to produce. RB James Cook’s volume has been steady, even though his production has not been of late. We always say volume is king in fantasy, especially for RBs so this could also be a bounce-back spot in this must-win situation for Buffalo.

On the other side of the ball, it’s a tough matchup on paper for the Dolphins vs. this Bills defense, but it sounds like they could get the boost of RB Raheem Mostert and WR Jaylen Waddle returning, which would lift this entire offense. Mostert and De’Von Achane should be able to get going in this one and open up the passing game for Tua Tagovailoa, who will need to keep up with Josh Allen. WR Tyreek Hill should be a bit healthier in this one; it’s too important of a game to miss, and he is always a threat to break a slate. He needs 248 yards to break Calvin Johnson’s single-season receiving record … it’s not impossible. This game should be filled with the back-and-forth coveted for fantasy. This one should be a barnburner come Sunday night in South Florida and has the highest O/U of the week at 48.5.

Slowest paced games
  • New York Jets at New England Patriots
  • Los Angeles Rams at San Francisco 49ers