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Monday Night Football DFS Breakdown

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The Arizona Cardinals are all but eliminated from the postseason at this juncture, but they can still play spoiler to the New England Patriots. We don’t see this matchup very often, so there’s a different vibe to it, and it’s an interesting build tonight, so let’s get to work! 

 

Be sure to check out David Jones’ “General Rules” article for Showdown Strategy and his piece for each game, along with the DFS Showdown Strategy articles for each slate. Additionally, the FTN Livestream every game night will provide the latest insight for each slate. 

NFL DFS Monday Night Breakdown: New England Patriots at Arizona Cardinals 

Patriots -1.5, O/U 43.5 (Odds from DraftKings Sportsbook)

New England Patriots Plays for Week 14 DFS – MNF Showdown and Primetime Slates

Notable Injuries – WR Jakobi Meyers, CB Jalen Mills, OL Isaiah Wynn (O), RB Damien Harris (D)

Quarterback 

Mac Jones has popped up for a solid fantasy game or two this year, but for the most part he hasn’t been super useful and has only cleared 13.7 DK points in two of nine games. Jones isn’t exactly being given a ton of opportunity with the Patriots ranked 20th in pass rate in neutral scripts, and Jones is only 26th in points per dropback and 14th in yards per attempt. It’s a little difficult to point to what Jones does well as far as fantasy goes, and the points per game reflect that since he’s 31st

The good news for Jones is the matchup is excellent, as the Cardinals are 25th in DVOA against the pass and 31st in points per game allowed. If there is one element that stands out for Jones in a positive way, his play-action game could be a game-breaker. Arizona has allowed the highest passer rating in football at 129.5 on the play type, and Jones climbs to a 105.0 passer rating and a 78.1% completion rate when the Patriots utilize it. 

What concerns me about playing Jones is the Cardinals blitz at the second-highest rate in the league, and they have the sixth-highest pressure rate. Neither facet of the game is something that Jones handles well, since the passer rating goes to 67.5 when he’s blitzed and 11.0 when pressured. He has been awful when pressured with a 38.1% completion rate, and the yards per attempt plummets to 4.0. I’m a little hesitant to play him even though he’s under $10,000, but we’ll see how he fits into the context of the rest of the slate. 

Running Back 

It doesn’t appear Damien Harris will suit up, and that just cements the status of Rhamondre Stevenson. This was the scenario last week, and Stevenson played 98.1% of the snaps and had 10 carries along with a team-leading eight targets. He’s quite inexpensive and will likely be a core play for me because the New England offense is going to be without their top receiver and Stevenson isn’t game-script sensitive. If the Patriots are winning, he’s going to get work. If they trail, he’s going to be targeted. Even when he’s not targeted in the passing game, Arizona is 31st in gash rate allowed and 20th in yards per attempt allowed.

Rhamondre Stevenson RB New England PatriotsStevenson has been a rock for New England most of the season, as he’s RB8 in points per game, fourth in receiving yards, third in receptions and 13th in rushing yards. Arizona is not a scary matchup either, as they rank 19th in DVOA against the run and 23rd in points per game to the position. Not only that, but the Cards also are 25th in receiving yards allowed, and with the amount of work we should expect, Stevenson is going to be hard to get away from. Kevin Harris had the only other carry last week, but I don’t believe he’s someone who should be in the player pool past MME formats. 

Wide Receiver 

With Jakobi Meyers already ruled out, the receiver room is going to offer some cheaper options for us, and it would appear that Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne could both play out of the slot. Meyers was in that alignment 67% of the time, while Agholor is at 41% and Bourne is under 30%, which leaves them on Isaiah Simmons

He’s having a tough season in coverage since he’s allowing an 84% catch rate along with 0.25 points per route. We somewhat have a sample of what happens when Meyers is out, because on Thanksgiving he only played 29.1% of the snaps and Agholor stepped up with eight targets compared to four for Bourne. In the games that Meyers has sat out or left early, Agholor has a 17.2% target share, third on the team. 

Agholor and Bourne aren’t going to look great in the seasonal lens since they are outside the top 85 in points per game. However, they have a larger opportunity this week, and I prefer Agholor since he has a higher target share and should be in the slot more often. Additionally, the Cardinals are 26th in points per game allowed to the slot receiver. The loss of Byron Murphy for the Cardinals is significant since he’s been one of their better corners. It’s going to force Trayvon Mullen or Antonio Hamilton into a larger role, something that can be exploited. 

The highest target share of the receivers (Stevenson leads the team in those three weeks with a 23% target share) is DeVante Parker at 18.4%, and he’s bringing in a 36.6% air yards share. Parker is going to be on the boundary for basically the entire game since he has a 10% slot rate, and that means plenty of time against Marco Wilson

He’s been very strong for Arizona with a 60% catch rate and 0.23 points per route, but Parker has some big-play potential. His aDOT is 15.6 yards, the third highest in the league, and his target share is sure to increase with no Meyers. Lastly, Tyquan Thornton could be considered as a punt option with his salary, but the snap rate was under 40% again last week and he only saw three targets (9.4% share). 

 

Tight End 

This could be one of the ultimate tests of player versus matchup, because on the season Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith have not been fantasy relevant at all. Henry is TE30 in points per game, 20th in yards, 25th in receptions, 22nd in yards run per route and has just two touchdowns. Smith has been worse, but the catch is the Cardinals have been an absolute sieve against the position, allowing the most points per game in the NFL along with the most touchdowns per game. 

Even though Henry has an 11.1% target share, he also leads the position in yards per reception at 13.4 yards. Sure, that’s easier to accomplish when you only have 25 receptions and it’s Week 14, but the stat tells us there’s a possibility for a big game. The target share for Smith is only 8.5%, but the salary for both leaves them in play, although I much prefer Henry to exploit the same matchup we have all season. 

Defense/Special Teams 

Overall, the Patriots look like they are a great defense since they are third in total DVOA, seventh in points allowed per game and seventh in takeaways. However, they are allowing an average of 29 points per game when they haven’t faced Zach Wilson (twice), Sam Ehlinger, Jacoby Brissett, Jared Goff or Mitch Trubisky at quarterback. 

They have utterly feasted on the bad quarterbacks and struggled with the good ones, and Kyler Murray is more toward the good end of that spectrum. This isn’t to say they’re a bad defense, but I don’t believe they are quite as good as these numbers show. Arizona is only 16th in points scored, but Murray brings some mobility, and that’s something New England can struggle with. I’m avoiding this unit on the road. 

Kicker 

It feels like Nick Folk is pretty affordable for a player who is second in attempts this season with 30. Folk has made 25 of them along with all of his 24 extra points. While Folk only has two conversions from over 50 yards, he’s getting so many chances that it’s easy to put him into any lineup you want. Arizona is dead last in conversion rate inside the red zone, so if New England can move the ball, they could be able to score more touchdowns. But I’m not the biggest believer in the offense with the co-coordinator approach between Joe Judge and Matt Patricia. 

Arizona Cardinals Plays for Week 14 MNF Week 14 DFS – MNF Showdown and Primetime Slates 

Notable Injuries – WR Rondale Moore, CB Byron Murphy (O)

Quarterback  

Kyler Murray made his return from injury in the last game before the bye week and enjoyed having his top two receivers in play for the first time this season. He only threw the ball 29 times but accounted for three touchdowns, and he’s now up to sixth in points per game and 13th in points per dropback. The Patriots have had issues with running quarterbacks for a little while now, and even though Murray doesn’t have his starting tight end, he does have his top two receivers for just the second time. New England is also third in DVOA against the pass but 14th in points allowed per game.

Kyler Murray QB Arizona CardinalsMurray has struggled with the deep ball this season with a 1:6 TD-INT ratio, a 24.5% completion rate and a putrid 4.7 passer rating. That is especially horrific since he’s eighth in deep attempts this year. Not only is he bad at it, but he’s doing it more than he probably should, and New England has only allowed a 27.1% completion rate on deep balls, so that is a legitimate concern here. Another concern for Murray is his passer rating is 42.3 when he’s pressured, and the Patriots defense can put the heat on with the second-highest pressure rate in football. 

They also lead in passer rating allowed in the play-action game, so you’re going to want Murray to do some work with his legs. He’s sixth in rushing yards per game, and even though he has some warts in his profile, I want to play him because he has two excellent receivers at his disposal and is likely to be a top 3-5 scoring player on this showdown slate. 

Running Back 

Just like the New England side of things, we have another workhorse running back for the Cardinals in James Conner. After he got his legs under him in Week 9, he’s played in three games and has racked up 60 carries, 11 targets and just under 90% of the snaps. Former backup Eno Benjamin was cut three weeks ago, so that has helped Conner seize the reins, while the only other running back to carry the ball here is Keaontay Ingram with just eight carries across three games. 

Conner also has 11 red-zone carries, but his matchup is tough on paper. New England has the sixth-highest stuff rate and the fourth-lowest gash rate, which is backed up by ranking seventh in DVOA against the run. Conner has dealt with injuries this year but is RB20 in points per game and 26th in yards created per touch. However, the volume lately is erasing any real concern about any inefficiencies. I would prefer to play Stevenson, but I’m going to bet the rest of the field agrees, and Conner is an interesting pivot in a difficult matchup. 

Wide Receiver

In some respects, this receiver room is a little tough to figure out. But at the same time, the passing game is going to be concentrated between three players (at least in theory). This will be only the second game DeAndre Hopkins and Marquise Brown have played together. In the first game that happened, Brown led the team in targets with eight while Hopkins had six. Both receivers cleared a 32% air yards share and played over 74% of the snaps, but both also went under their points per game averages.

They have some tougher matchups on the boundary, as Hopkins is going to face a lot of Jonathan Jones, and Brown will have to face Jack Jones. Both of the New England corners are under a 60% catch rate and 0.28 points per route. Hopkins and Brown are likely to go under their respective target shares of 30.6% and 26.7%, but they are still going to be the focal points of the passing game. 

Even if they come down in points per game, they are both in the top 10 currently. I’m going to play a lot more Brown simply because he shouldn’t be $4,000 cheaper than Hopkins on DK. That makes very little sense, as we just saw he led the team in targets coming off a foot injury.

I  believe one of the most popular players on the slate could be Greg Dortch, who’s going to take over the slot role for Rondale Moore. He’s played close to 75% of his snaps in the slot and Moore has commanded a 19.5% target share in his healthy games with 41 receptions on the year. While Brown didn’t play in Week 11, we saw Moore leave after the first drive and Dortch went 9-103 in his stead. Myles Bryant plays the slot for the Patriots and is allowing a 69% catch rate, and Dortch is far too cheap because of the tight end situation for the Cardinals as well. This offense is going to almost wholly depend on these three players and Conner in the passing game.  

Tight End 

The Patriots are only 23rd in points allowed per game to the tight end position this year, but with the loss of Zach Ertz to an ACL injury a couple of weeks ago, Trey McBride has taken over the snaps and has not done much of anything through two games. He’s only earned a 10.1% target share since Ertz went down, and his aDOT is just 2.0 yards, which is just not appealing. 

McBride has only scored 6.5 DK points and frankly hasn’t looked like the first tight end taken in the 2022 draft. Maxx Williams and Stephen Anderson have both been under 18.5% of the snaps and only have one target each, but Williams just came off IR before the bye week. I believe he’s going to get some more snaps, and it’s not impossible to think he’ll take the lead now. He could be an interesting punt at a minimum salary, but it’s just so easy to play Dortch in a role he’s been successful in this season. 

Defense/Special Teams 

I think the Arizona defense is a solid play, even though they aren’t the best defense in the league. We talked about the blitz and pressure rates, and New England has allowed the eighth-most sacks this season while ranking 20th in points per game scored. Arizona is only 24th in total DVOA, 31st in points allowed per game and tied for 28th in takeaways, so they haven’t performed well on the field. The Patriots are still going to give them chances to score some fantasy points, and they are under $4,000. 

Kicker 

Matt Prater has only been healthy for eight games this year, but when he’s been on the field he’s been worth playing. Prater has hit 10-of-11 attempts and all of his extra points, and we know that ranking seventh in yards per game allowed from New England could be a little misleading. The Patriots are just 16th in red-zone conversion rate allowed for touchdowns, so I certainly don’t mind Prater, but the Arizona defense could be a strong pivot in GPP settings. 

Core Plays 

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