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  • The Jaguars run-funnel defense and the Eagles relative struggles with receivers are two facts you need to know about while building your DFS lineups for Championship Week.
By Chris Raybon
January 19, 2018

This is it. It’s the 20th and final week of NFL DFS (or the 25th week if you also dabble in the preseason like I do). With four strong defenses on the slate, situations to exploit are harder to come by than a tissue for Mike Tomlin’s beard, but here are five facts to help you find an edge.

1. The Jacksonville Jaguars rank seventh in schedule-adjusted fantasy points allowed (aFPA) to quarterbacks, but 24th to running backs

The Jaguars have been a run funnel this season, ranking first in net yards per pass allowed (4.8) but just 26th in yards per carry allowed (4.3). On top of that, Jacksonville gives up essentially the same amount of yards per target to running backs (6.2) as wide receivers (6.3) and tight ends (6.4). The Patriots have been known to attack opponents’ weaknesses all season, so Dion Lewis, who has at least 24 touches and 130 yards from scrimmage in each of his past three games, should continue to operate as the lead back with James White and Rex Burkhead likely in for bigger than normal workloads, as well.

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2. The Jacksonville Jaguars pass defense has struggled against “heavy” personnel this season

According to Warren Sharp, the Jaguars allowed 5.0 yards per attempt when facing three or more wide receivers, but 9.6 yards per attempt when facing two or fewer wide receivers. There are many examples this season of the Patriots precisely tailoring their game plan to exploit the opposition’s weakness—throwing twice as much as they ran and targeting running backs at a higher rate against the Tennessee Titans, or running more than throwing against the Buffalo Bills, for example—so we should expect the Patriots to explore using more heavy personnel than usual. Doing so would increase the opportunities for the running backs and tight ends at the expense of the wide receivers.

3. Dede Westbrook and Marqise Lee operated as the Jacksonville Jaguars’ top two wide receivers in last week’s playoff win at Pittsburgh

Westbrook led the team with a 69% snap rate, and Lee was second with 64%; Keelan Cole played only 35% of the snaps, while Allen Hurns was at just 28%. On a slate with limited options, Westbrook and Lee have to be in consideration—their matchups versus cornerbacks Malcolm Butler and Stephon Gilmore are tough, but they’ll likely get opportunities in single coverage as the Patriots look to slow down Leonard Fournette.

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4. Wide receiver is the only position where the Philadelphia Eagles rank outside the top-five in schedule-adjusted fantasy points allowed

The Eagles rank just 21st in receiver aFPA, which sets up well for both Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen. Diggs has been heating up down the stretch, with five straight games with at least five catches, and four straight games with a touchdown. Thielen has been hot all season, hauling in at least five catches in 14 of his 17 games. With the Eagles defense allowing just 3.8 yards per carry on the season, Diggs and Thielen may end up as Minnesota’s primary means of ball movement on Sunday.

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5. Jay Ajayi’s 18 touches last week were his season-high with the Philadelphia Eagles

Ajayi is still in a committee with LeGarrette Blount and Corey Clement, but his 18 touches in the win over the Falcons were double that of Blount, and triple that of Clement. Ajayi looked like his team’s most explosive player last week, and his 98 yards from scrimmage are more impressive when you consider the Falcons allowed the fewest schedule-adjusted fantasy points in the league to opposing running backs. The Vikings pose another tough matchup, ranking third in running back aFPA, but Philadelphia will need to ride their prized trade deadline acquisition if they have any hope at an upset.

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