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NFL Pace Of Play Week 17: 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 17.

JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA - SEPTEMBER 26: Kyler Murray #1 of the Arizona Cardinals celebrates a touchdown in first quarter in the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at TIAA Bank Field on September 26, 2021 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

Fastest-Paced Games

#1 Arizona Cardinals at Philadelphia Eagles

The Cardinals are ninth in plays run per game (65.0) over the last three games and are fourth in terms of seconds per snap (27.9) for the season. The Eagles are second in plays run per game (67.0) and 11th in terms of seconds per snap (28.7). They are also second in non-two-minute no-huddle percentage (15.9%). It’s a plus matchup for QB Kyler Murray and his WRs and a good matchup for TE Trey McBride. The Eagles’ defense is allowing fantasy points in bunches to the QB position, and, since his returning to the field in Week 10, Murray is averaging 31.1 rushing yards per game (and has three rushing TDs) to provide a safe floor. McBride will benefit as the Eagles have allowed eight different tight ends to finish as top-12 scorers against them. In what has been an incredible breakout season, he has seven or more targets in six straight games, racking up 44/456/1 receiving in this stretch. On paper, it’s not a great matchup for James Conner, but he’s too hot to sit. Over his last three games, Conner has tallied 105, 89, and 112 scrimmage yards. He has piled up four TDs in this span and was also heavily involved in the receiving game (5/67/1) last week. The Cardinals are not heavily involving their WRs, so a lot of the passing work is going to their RBs. On the other side of the ball, the Philly players have favorable matchups across all their skill positions (QB, RB, WR, TE). Jalen Hurts is coming off a good game throwing the ball vs. New York, completing 63% of his passes for 301 yards and a touchdown, while also getting another “brotherly shove” into the end zone and setting the QB rushing TD record with 15. This was already a great spot for D’Andre Swift and even more so now vs. what is a banged-up Cardinals defense, that has allowed 149 yards rushing per game since Week 9. Both WRs A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith are fantastic, as we all know, and they face a Cardinals defense that runs a lot two-high safety looks. Brown can go off at any time but interestingly enough it is Smith who has actually done better against this type of scheme. In your season-long championships, you are starting both, but from a DFS perspective, as the cheaper option, you might get some salary relief and go with Smitty. TE Dallas Goedert has earned nine targets in back-to-back games. At worst, Goedert is a back-end TE1. This game has one of the highest projected totals of the week at 48.0.

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#2 New Orleans Saints at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

On a 13-game New Year’s Eve main slate featuring 11 outdoor games, a pass-happy Florida environment is the next game to gravitate to for both fantasy Championship games and DFS. The Saints are sixth in both plays per game (65.5) and seconds per snap (28.1). They are 12th in pass percentage plus pass rate over expected (57.3%). The Bucs also are above league average and come in 13th in pass percentage plus pass rate over expected (56.9%). When New Orleans last faced Tampa Bay in Week 4, the game produced above-average play volume, as both offenses operated quickly and threw the ball nearly 70 times combined. It’s a good matchup for Derek Carr, who finally threw the ball downfield last week (9.4-yard aDOT) — resulting in two deep touchdowns and big games for WRs Chris Olave and Rashid Shaheed. The Buccaneers are allowing a league-high 284.4 passing yards per game. Olave, now finally healthy, is coming off a monster game (9/123). He has seen at least eight targets in 11-of-14 games. The Buccaneers are allowing the second-most receiving yards per game to both outside (133.3) and slot receivers (97.7). Shaheed set a season-high in route share at 88% last week. The Bucs are the league’s best at stopping the run, so it should be tough sledding for Alvin Kamara in this one; he’ll need to get it done in the passing game as he continues to be heavily involved there. PFF’s second-best-graded passer over the past three weeks, Baker Mayfield, has a downfield score in each of the last two games. He has also finished as a top-15 scoring option among QBs in 10 of his 15 starts. Rachaad White has finished as a top-20 scorer among RBs in 11 of his last 12 games. Last week was another inefficient day on the ground for White against a stout run defense, but he saved it with six receptions and a touchdown. WRs Mike Evans and Chris Godwin get a Saints defense that will likely again be without CB Marshon Lattimore and was just shredded for 9/164/1 receiving by Puka Nacua. They also gave up 6/82/1 to Demarcus Robinson, and Cooper Kupp could have scored two TDs (6/52 receiving). Evans just gashed the Jaguars’ secondary to the tune of seven receptions for 82 yards and two scores, while his counterpart Godwin went six for 78. Godwin has turned his 34 targets into 21/286 receiving over the last three weeks. In this span, Godwin has earned 37% of the targets and seen a whopping 45% of the air yards. This game has a modest O/U at 42.5 and should go over that total.

#3 Carolina Panthers at Jacksonville Jaguars

We’re going to stay on the main slate and go dumpster diving a bit with this below-the-radar game featuring two teams that have placed at a fast pace all season. A couple of other games that are great for fantasy and to target for DFS, like Detroit vs. Dallas on Saturday night and Green Bay vs. Minnesota on Sunday night, are not on the main slate, so let’s dive into this one instead. The Panthers are fourth in plays run per game (66.5) and 10th in terms of seconds per snap (28.6). They are also eighth in non-two-minute no-huddle percentage (10.9%). The Jaguars are sixth in plays run per game (65.6) and in terms of seconds per snap (28.1). They are also sixth in pass percentage plus pass rate over expected (64.4). It’s a good matchup for QB Bryce Young, his WRs, and his TEs. Young has started to play better, which is helping WRs Adam Thielen and DJ Chark Jr., and this offense as a whole. The Jags continue to struggle to slow down opposing passing attacks, so Thielen remains in focus as a solid start, with Chark as a flex option. Since Week 10, Jacksonville has allowed the fifth-most PPR points per target. RB Chuba Hubbard’s matchup is decent, and he was solid again last week with 16 carries for 43 yards and a touchdown. Since Week 12, Hubbard has been the RB13 in fantasy points per game, averaging 22 touches and 89.2 total yards. QB Trevor Lawrence is questionable, so keep an eye out if he practices today. He’s pushing to play as the Jags need a win in this one. It is a plus matchup for RB Travis Etienne, who has had a couple of real tough matchups recently. This should be a get-right game for him as Carolina has been a run funnel for much of this season. Aaron Jones destroyed this run defense last week. WR Calvin Ridley and TE Evan Engram both have seen an uptick with injuries to WRs Christian Kirk and Zay Jones, and that should continue in this one. Engram is coming off a monster game with 10 receptions for 95 yards on 15 targets. Ridley finished with a flurry last week and ended up having a big fantasy day (6/90/2), most of it done in the second half. Typically, you beat the Panthers with the run, but Carolina has been forcing teams to air it out more the past two weeks. You may find it difficult to stack multiple players from this game, but you can find some guys to play as one-offs.

Slowest-paced games
  • Atlanta Falcons at Chicago Bears
  • New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills