Week 17 NFL Matchup Manifesto: Patrick Mahomes, C.J. Anderson Poised for End-of-Season Success

Week 17 NFL Matchup Manifesto: Patrick Mahomes, C.J. Anderson Poised for End-of-Season Success article feature image

Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15).

  • Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes has one of the most favorable matchups of Week 17 against the Raiders.
  • Rams RB C.J. Anderson can follow up a monster performance from Week 16 if Todd Gurley sits out vs. the 49ers on Sunday.

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 quarterback.

Despite the obvious impact that defenses have on opposing offenses, fantasy players 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 identify each week’s key matchups on both sides of the ball in:

  • Explosive Plays
  • Pace
  • Pressure
  • Trench Battles
  • Turnover Margin
  • Passing Game

Last week’s manifesto correctly forecasted underwhelming performances for Lamar Jackson and Ryan Tannehill, solid rushing days for Chris Carson and Christian McCaffrey as well as uber-efficient passing performances from Drew Brees and Ben Roethlisberger.

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.

Note: This data is based on games from Weeks 1-16.

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. We can calculate this with help from NFL.com’s team-based statistics.

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

  • The Chiefs’ league-best offense in explosive pass play rate easily has the week’s best matchup against the Raiders’ league-worst defense in explosive pass play rate allowed.
  • Additional pass offenses that are set up exceptionally well to create big plays through the air include the Saints, Chargers and 49ers.
  • Of course, the Saints don’t have much to play for at this point and could rest their starters against the Panthers. You can check out the level of motivation for each team in Week 17 here.
  • 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan won’t have Matt Breida (knee) or Dante Pettis (knee) at his disposal, so expect a healthy diet of targets for No. 1 receiver George Kittle.

  • Matchups featuring offenses on both sidelines that are set up well to complete long passes include the Raiders-Chiefs, 49ers-Rams and Bengals-Steelers.
  • Ryan Tannehill, Kirk Cousins and Lamar Jackson stand out as the quarterbacks who could have the most trouble creating big plays through the air this week.
  • Cousins’ matchup would obviously improve if the Bears choose to rest their starters, but Chicago’s league-best defense in overall DVOA is dealing with injuries to both stud slot corner Bryce Callahan (foot, IR) and PFF’s No. 1 overall safety Eddie Jackson (ankle).
  • Be sure to monitor our Week 17 Injury Report for daily practice participation along with estimated and official statuses for every fantasy-relevant player.
  • Additional offenses that aren’t set up all that well to create big plays include the Browns, Colts and Titans.
  • Matchups featuring multiple offenses that could struggle to make explosive plays through the air include Cowboys-Giants, Jaguars-Texans, Bears-Vikings, Browns-Ravens, Cardinals-Seahawks and Colts-Titans.
  • The likes of Tevin Coleman (groin), Sony Michel, Melvin Gordon and Damien Williams stand out as the running backs with the best matchups to bust off big runs in Week 17.
  • Running backs that aren’t set up as well include Leonard Fournette, Josh Adams/Darren Sproles, and Marlon Mack.


Fast-paced games lead to more plays, which lead to more points. There are several games that could resemble a track meet based on their combined situation-neutral pace ranking (Football Outsiders).

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