Las Vegas Raiders (Derek Carr, Nelson Agholor, Darren Waller)
Las Vegas shocked the world once again, nearly prevailing against Kansas City last Sunday. Derek Carr is playing the best football of his career, and the results speak for themselves. He’s approaching 2,500 yards on the season, with an impressive completion percentage of almost 70 percent. His 19-to-3 touchdown-to-interception ratio is one of the best in the NFL and really speaks to his level of efficiency. Taking on Atlanta is the perfect matchup for Carr to continue to perform at a high level. Atlanta struggles in pass coverage and lacks the talent to rush opposing quarterbacks without blitzing. Carr will pick this unit apart with a clean pocket with 300-yards passing a reasonable expectation; at least two touchdowns should also be on Carr’s stat line.
At least one such score will probably go to Darren Waller. The star tight end should have no issues against this defense, who has given up the most fantasy points to the position all season. Waller has eclipsed 500 yards so far, with 60 receptions to boot. This gives him a great floor, with an extremely high upside due to the matchup. Think of Waller as more of a wide receiver you can play at the tight end slot for this week.
Nelson Agholor is having a nice bounce back season with the silver and black. The former first-round pick was largely considered a bust in Philadelphia, but has made some big plays for this Vegas squad. Agholor has become Carr’s preferred deep threat, and is averaging a stunning 18.5 yards per reception. He’s also found the end zone six times this year, which gives him a good amount of touchdown equity. Atlanta has had issues defending downfield all season long, and that will certainly elevate his ceiling. With a reasonable salary and a great matchup, Agholor is a perfect complement to Darren Waller in a Las Vegas stack.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Tom Brady, Mike Evans, Antonio Brown)
Tampa Bay has been inconsistent in recent weeks, like a rollercoaster with up and down performances. The offense has gone hot and cold seemingly week to week, and Tom Brady is a reflection of this turbulence. When the offense is clicking, Brady can rack up fantasy points with the best of them. This is exactly what needs to happen in a huge matchup with Kansas City. While Tampa Bay has a much improved defense, it will only be able to slow down Kansas City for so long. Bruce Arians knows this, and I expect some very aggressive play calling from his coaching staff. Brady will get up for a game like this, as he will be hungry to beat Patrick Mahomes in a revenge game. Plus, I’d expect him to carry low ownership compared to other quarterbacks. The matchup isn’t great on paper, and he’s coming off a bad outing last Sunday. That makes him a great “anti-optimizer” in tournaments.
Which pass catcher to pair with Brady can be tricky, especially with Brown in the mix. Brown came into this offense late in the year, but has steadily carved out a role for himself. His target share has increased each week, and Brady appears to be force feeding him at times. This is great for fantasy purposes, as Brown is the cheapest of the receiving trio. He’s yet to score a touchdown, and that could change in this big game against Kansas City. With an established floor and an affordable salary, Brown should be the first leg of a Tampa Bay stack.
Meanwhile, Mike Evans has been a steady presence on the outside for Brady. His target share has remained consistent throughout this season, and he is Tampa Bay’s top red zone threat. Evans should be heavily targeted in this high-scoring contest. I’m expecting low ownership, which will provide a great return on investment if he hits his ceiling. That would include 100 yards and two scores, so lock in Evans if you’re willing to be risky.
Carolina Panthers (Teddy Bridgewater, Mike Davis, Robby Anderson)
Carolina will take on Minnesota in what could be a very sneaky shootout game. Both teams have poor defensive units that can be exploited both on the ground and through the air. Teddy Bridgewater has had a nice season for Carolina, but missed last week’s game due to injury. He’s been cleared to return, and could go overlooked after missing some action. Minnesota has been very poor in pass coverage, and Bridgewater is an accurate quarterback who rarely misses open receivers. He should be very efficient in this game, providing him with a nice floor based on the match up. Bridgewater is a perfect quarterback for cash games, but can be used in tournament stacks as well.
It’s rare that stacking a quarterback and running back is optimal, but this could be the occasion. Mike Davis is heavily involved in all aspects of the Carolina offense when relieving Christian McCaffrey. McCaffrey is expected to miss this game, so Davis will be the bellcow once again. Not only does he dominate in rushing touches, he has a role in the passing game as well. Bridgewater likes to target him as a safety net, and Davis has done well to produce with these extra touches. With such a large opportunity share, it makes sense to stack Davis with Bridgewater and hope he scores with a receiving touchdown as well as on the ground.
D.J. Moore has gotten all the attention as of late, and deservedly so. Earlier in the season, it was Robby Anderson who was the fantasy star, but the script has flipped in recent weeks. This match up with Minnesota is a great spot for Anderson to bounce back. While Minnesota lacks talent in the secondary, it still has a good defensive head coach. Mike Zimmer will focus on stopping Moore, which should leave Anderson in softer coverage. Bridgewater will happily target him if Moore can’t get open as often. He can break a play at any time, which makes him a high-upside tournament play.