NFL Week 7 Game by Game Breakdown

Week 7 2017

Warren Sharp and Evan Silva were just talking last week about how teams coming off of byes seem to encounter much more variance than normal. We certainly saw this this past week with the Falcons losing to Miami and the Broncos losing to the Giants. Warren Sharp has already tweeted about how, even though this is small sample size, it definitely seems like there is something to this. Oh boy, do I wish I had listened so that I would have been off of Freeman here. If I had plugged in Howard instead – I did have him on several other lines – I would have taken down a few Q’s.

Outside of my top line, I had several others that did alright, but I also had about 40% combined Rodgers and Winston, so that obviously hurt. I also had a lot of Freeman and Miller spread out through my lines, which also didn’t help. Other than that, I feel like a lot of the players that I liked did pretty well. Also, congrats to Dan on winning the prop bet and Brandon for cleaning up on every H2H he played (the prop bet is clearly more important though)!

Note – Since I’m now closely paying attention to teams returning from their byes, here is a list for this week: BUF, CIN, DAL, and SEA.

KC (24.75) @ OAK (21.75)

Cooper had a bunch of big plays called back this past week (50+ yards per Brandon), and this is definitely an encouraging sign. Furthermore, he lines up on the left side for 45% of his snaps, so he will get the immensely beatable Terrance Mitchell there (84th out of 114 qualifying CBs). On top of this, he will get the worst CB in the league, Gaines, for another 17% out of the slot. I’m going to continue riding the Cooper train here as I still believe in him, but he does grade out as the 5th-worst WR in the league so far this year. I have the shoveling money into the fire GIF pulled up and ready to go for when he disappoints. Crabtree will also avoid Marcus Peters for 62% of the day and he has averaged 9 targets/game over the past two, compared to Cooper’s 4 over this same period. These are hard numbers to argue with. Either way, OAK figures to trail here, so game script will favor their receivers, and KC has given up at least 16 points to a single WR in every single game so far this year. They have also given up multiple receiving TDs in 50% of their games on the year.

KC continues to rank a surprisingly low 30th in DVOA against the run, but game script and the RBBC approach of the Raiders make their backfield an unappealing target.

It originally looked like Hill wouldn’t clear the concussion protocol in time for this game, but he is now practicing in full, so he should be good to go. The rest of their pass catching corps are also pretty beat up, so this will be a big boost for them here. In general, OAK has experienced some problems with outside receivers this year as they have given up 3-133-0 to Mike Wallace and 4-64-2 to Kearse, but their biggest weakness is to TEs. They did just sign Navarro Bowman to shore up their LB corps, but he is a liability in coverage, so he won’t help them at all in that regard. Outside of these two WR lines, a TE has led their team in scoring in each of the other 4 games so far this year, and as you probably guessed they grade out very low against the position (25th in DVOA). This is clearly a smash spot for Kelce since he smashes everywhere regardless. In each of his last 3 games, he has seen a minimum of 7 targets, and he has a team-high 7 RZ targets as well.

Hunt is 6th in the league with 16 RZ carries already, but he saw a worrying dip in rushes last week with only 9 carries overall (this was also the first game that KC lost, so I’m willing to chalk it up as an outlier). He also saw his YPC drop for a 4th consecutive week, so I’m definitely worried that he is starting to wear down (this is something that we also saw happen to Ware last year). Regardless, Hunt’s receiving continues to give him a very safe floor as he put up 5-89-0 through the air last week to salvage his fantasy day. It is worth noting that West has doubled his RZ targets, however, 4 to 2. Either way, OAK has given an average of 25.9 points to the opponent’s lead back over their past 4, with two games of 33+ points in that time period.

TB @ BUF

Here we have the first team coming off of their bye this week – Buffalo. On paper, it seems like they have an idyllic match-up against the 30th-ranked Bucs (31st against the pass and 14th against the run). While TB does appear stronger against the run, they just gave up 26-134-2 rushing to AP’s ghost and allowed Cook to paste them for 27.9 points a few weeks ago. While Shady saw a bevy of touches before their bye, he only managed more than 3.8 YPC in a game once this year, and that was against the Jets. He definitely doesn’t seem to fit the running style that Buffalo has implemented here, but he has seen the 13th-most RZ carries in the league and still hasn’t scored a single rushing TD, so he should be in line for positive regression there. McCoy is also heavily involved in the passing game, which has saved his fantasy floor, and the Bucs are only 22nd against receiving backs. They have also given up 12+ receiving points to a single back in 3 of their 5 games so far. This is clearly a good spot for him, and I’ll have some exposure, but I’m definitely not going 100%.

While Taylor also has a superb match-up as the Bucs are giving up over 25 points to QBs per week on average, which is the 2nd-highest mark in the league, I’m really not sure who he will throw it to here as Clay is down for a couple of weeks. It sounds like Matthews might be able to return for this one, which would obviously be a big boost to the team, but his thumb injury is concerning as I’m not sure how it will affect him. Zay Jones has a great match-up against the 110th-ranked Hargreaves (out of 114), but Jones himself is ranked dead last among WRs per PFF. Jones has seen 5+ targets in each of his last two along with 3 RZ targets in the last game alone, but he has failed to put up more than 21 (!!!) receiving yards in any game on the season so far. He did show flashes in preseason, but this is clearly concerning. If Matthews ends up sitting, I’ll have some exposure as Jones is only $3600, but the sneakiest stack here might be TyGod to McCoy.

Jameis left early this past week with an AC sprain to his throwing shoulder, which is less than ideal. He hopes to return here and Ian Rapoport says that he can play through it, but I definitely expect limitations and don’t know how he will be able to throw deep downfield. If he cannot go, Fitzpatrick will start in his place. I haven’t heard any updates on Gaines yet, but I assume he will probably play here after getting a week of rest, so this will be another hit to Evans value. If Gaines somehow cannot play, this will put Evans on Shareece Wright, which will be a sneaky good match-up to target.

The real answer to the question about who to target here might be Doug Martin, however. BUF is slightly weaker against the run than the pass, 11th to 3rd in DVOA, and I can see TB going very run heavy here with Winston limited or FitzMagic potentially playing. While still not giving up an 80-yard rusher on the season, the Bills still have allowed rushing TDs in each of their last 3 games. Martin hasn’t yet topped 14 carries in either of his two games, and $5900 is rather expensive for this workload, but if the bye week curse strikes again, Martin could be in line for a good day. This is all very speculative, so this is strictly a GPP play.

NO (25.75) @ GB (21.75)

Smart money is on the Packers here as they have received only 39% of the bets while the line has moved their way by 0.25 points.

In the biggest news of the week, Rodgers broke his collarbone and it requires surgery to repair, which could sideline him for the rest of the season (they just put him on IR on Friday and are hoping he can return for Week 15). Hundley came in and promptly had a tough time, but I attribute this mostly to not being prepared and being away in a very tough divisional game. In his relief effort, he passed 65% of the time and threw to Adams and Nelson 10 times apiece. All other pieces of the pass game seemed to be afterthoughts with no one else receiving more than 4 targets. The Saints are giving up, on average, over 20 points per game to QBs, and Hundley has several things going for him here:

  • He will need to pass due to the Saints putting up points
  • He is a very mobile QB, so his legs should give him a solid floor
  • He has 3 years in this system, so he is familiar with it
  • He has solid weapons that he can throw to
  • While the Saints do rank 11th in pass DVOA, as mentioned, they are still giving up a lot of points (the average I mentioned includes a 6-point stinker by Cutler, which clearly skews things downward)

Unfortunately for both Adams and Nelson, the Saints best corners are on the outside, while they have been routinely torched out of the slot:

  Week Recs Rec Yards Rec TDs DK Points
Golden Tate 6 7 96 1 22.60
Chris Hogan 2 5 78 1 18.80
Adam Thielen 1 9 157 0 27.70

 

Cobb clearly seems like the optimal play here, but I’m honestly not sure how much Hundley will look his way (Brandon pointed out that Hundley was mostly a downfield passer in college). I’m probably going to have light exposure to Cobb here, but I really want to go all in.

The Saints are weaker against the run, 24th in DVOA, but they have tightened up in the past couple of weeks as they haven’t allowed an 11+ point rusher since Week 3 (granted, they have played a hobbled Ajayi and the Lions in the intervening weeks). Montgomery only saw 10 carries last week, and this harkens back to how they used him last year, so I won’t be surprised if he continues with his light usage moving forward. He also saw 3 targets to Jones’ 4, so TyMont is completely hands off for me. Jones also out-carried him with his 13 totes, but couldn’t do much against the stout Vikings last week. I do like the idea of some ownership of Jones here especially if we get some clarification about GB’s game plan for this week. Not only does he get a softer match-up this week, I won’t be surprised if he gets more carries if they take the ball out of Hundley’s hands.

The Packers are middling against both the run and the pass as they rank 18th and 19th in DVOA respectively. As I noted last week, Ingram was in an excellent spot, and he appears to be in another good spot this week. With AP out of the way, he saw 25 carries with another 5 targets, and 6 of the rushes came in the RZ. We can expect heavy volume again for him here with game flow again going his way, but he will see high ownership in this spot even at $6700. While GB grades out 27th against receiving backs, only McKinnon gashed them for more than 9.5 receiving points (and that was due in large part to his volume and the receiving TD he had). Other than the 10 target outburst he had against MIA, we should expect more along the lines of 4-6 targets/game for Kamara. It is worth noting that his carries did spike to 10 last week with AP gone, so I’m assuming that we can expect similar lines moving forward. At $5600, you really need a TD for him to approach value, and I’m not expecting the receiving volume you need for him to smash for a tournament.

While we haven’t seen too many big rushing lines so far, GB has been very generous through the air, as they have allowed their opponent’s top WR to go over 15 points in every game except the first so far. In particular, we saw Julio paste them with 5-108-0, AJG racked up 10-111-1, and Dez put up 5-52-1 (and a second TD went through his hands). While Thomas saw an uncharacteristically low 6 targets last week – and I apologize for that pick – I’m going right back to the well here. Just like I mentioned previously, we are going to see a 100+ yard game with a TD or two come soon from him, and I think that will be this week. In this one, he gets the 101st-ranked Damarious Randall, and he will have his way with him. Thomas also makes for an excellent pivot off of Ingram, but game flow is a potential concern here as GB will have to put some points up in order for Brees to keep throwing it. In regards to the other WRs, Ginn also gets a great match-up, but he hasn’t seen more than 4 targets in a game since Week 2. Fleener has seen his involvement drop as he has put up just 3-42-0… over his past 3 games combined, so we can ignore him. Snead is also questionable and the team definitely doesn’t seem to be hurrying him back.

BAL (16.5) @ MIN (22)

This is probably the game that I’m least excited about on the main slate.

Teddy Bridgewater will return off of the PUP list sometime within the next couple of weeks, so this could prove huge for the Vikings depending upon how Bradford is doing (I do think that they will continue to start Keenum until he falls apart). Their pass catching corps is also hurting as Diggs is still not practicing and has been ruled out for Week 7, unfortunately. Floyd is also questionable with a calf injury, but should be good to go here. Either way, Keenum will have tough sledding this week against the #2 pass defense. Clearly the best way to attack them is via the TE as they rank dead last in the league against them, and Rudolph has seen 9 targets in each of his last two games. I will definitely have some shares at only $3800.

While BAL does rank 11th against the run and have not yet given up a receiving TD to a back yet, they have allowed opponent RBs to put up 100+ rushing yards in 2 out of their last 3 (specifically, they have given up 144 to Bell and 167 to Howard, and I nailed that call last week). It is worth noting that both of these games came when Brandon Williams was out for the Ravens and their allowed YPC drops dramatically when he plays. He is set to return here. McKinnon just saw his price jump $2200 to $6300 this week, and this price makes me a little queasy. Latavius only costs $4000 and should get around the same amount of carries, 15ish, but he obviously hasn’t looked great this year. Starting LT, Riley Reiff, also just got added to the injury report, further downgrading their run game. I don’t know what I’m going to do with these two yet, but I’m not terribly excited about either.

This stat made me laugh – Kizer is the only QB with a higher INT rate than Flacco (minimum 100 attempts), so MIN is clearly one of the best defensive options on the week. There isn’t a single player from either their run or passing game that I want here. If I entered 150 lines, I might put Collins on a couple, but I would still be <5%.

TEN (25.5) @ CLE (20)

CLE remains a funnel defense as they are currently dead last against the pass in general, 31st against TEs, and 3rd against the run. This is especially pronounced in the RZ as the Browns have allowed the highest passing TD rate while their opponents are there in the league. Walker looks very doubtful as he missed Friday’s practice, so Jonnu Smith will fill in for him here and immediately looks like an intriguing option. I’m more inclined to look at Matthews and Decker, however, as I think that they could potentially absorb all of Delanie’s volume. While most people are on Decker, I believe he will draw McCourty for most of the day, which is by far the harder match-up (McCourty is currently the #1 overall CB per PFF). Assuming this is correct, Matthews will get the immensely beatable Jamar Taylor. His usage has declined in each of the last 4 games – 4<6<8<10, however, so this play is not for the faint of heart. Decker is also by far the cheaper option here, so I don’t mind exposure to both in case McCourty ends up on Matthews.

Murray still has hamstring tightness because they keep playing him and now he has missed several practices, so we need to monitor whether he will suit up here (looks like it will be a GTD). They still haven’t allowed a runner to go over 66 rushing yards on them for the year. If Murray gets deactivated early, Henry will become one of the highest owned backs on the week, and offers solid salary relief at only $5500, but he will carry more risk than many realize. I will have exposure, but I’m not sure how much yet.

While TEN doesn’t have a great defense, CLE has an incredibly weak offense, so we will see what gives first here. TEN is weaker against the pass as they rank 25th in general and 21st against TEs. Ricardo Louis continues to get peppered with targets as he has averaged 8 per game over his last 3, and he only costs $4200 here. He also figures to get the Titan’s weakest CB here, LeShaun Sims, but I’m still not sold that he can do anything with this volume. Njoku saw a season-high 5 targets last week against the much tougher Texans D and only costs $2900 here. The problem with all of CLE is that the offense is so bad, you will probably only get a couple of TD shots each game, so you are banking almost purely on volume, which severely limits their upside.

Crowell has sucked and DJ-lite continues to see light usage, and they also suffer from the offense.

NYJ (17.5) @ MIA (21)

Parker is still a no-go at practice even though he reportedly feels “much better” and this screws my dynasty team as I literally cannot field 3 WRs due to injuries and byes if he sits. Either way, if he goes down, Landry will see massive volume here (he saw 14 last week) and the Jets have given up multiple receiving TDs in 3 of their 6 games so far. Most of the receivers that have put up big lines against the Jets have been either TEs or outside receivers, though. Landry figures to be pretty popular here and costs $6800 for a possession receiver on a #fairlybad offense, so there are plenty of reasons to hesitate here.

While Ajayi didn’t do much the last time these two teams met, he was injured, and they are still weak against the run as seen by their game logs and 25th ranking per DVOA (I’m including the notable committees here):

Week Rsh RshYD RshTD Rec RecYd RecTD FantPt
Duke Johnson 5 6 20 0 3 63 1 17.3
Leonard Fournette 4 24 86 0 4 59 1 24.5
Jalen Richard 2 6 58 1 2 51 0 18.9
Marshawn Lynch 2 12 45 1 1 4 0 11.9
LeSean McCoy 1 22 110 0 5 49 0 23.9
Mike Tolbert 1 12 42 1 1 12 0 12.4

 

Ajayi has quietly returned to his workhorse status as he has seen 25+ carries in each of the last two weeks and put up 130 yards on the Falcons in their last one. At $6200, I much prefer him to similarly priced McKinnon.

MIA is a super sneaky defense to target this week as they haven’t allowed any opponent to put up more than 20 on them so far this year, and they have faced some good teams so far (e.g. ATL and NO). With that being said, we did see Robby Anderson put up 3-95-1 on MIA when they met in Week 3, so there are weaknesses here. I would prefer to target Kearse against Xavien Howard, however, as Howard ranks 104th among CBs. Kearse has only seen 4 targets in each of the last two even though they have come in great match-ups against CLE and NE. ASJ will continue to get peppered with targets as we have seen his share rise 4 to 8 to 11 over the past 3 weeks, but the Dolphins aren’t horrible against TEs and we have seen his price climb to $5000.

JAX (23.25) @ IND (20.25)

Fournette twisted his ankle in the last game, but even though he said that it was nothing major, he didn’t practice all week. If he cannot play, this will become the Chris Ivory show. So far, Fournette has averaged 21.7 carries per game along with a handful of targets, so I expect Ivory to step right into this workload if Fournette sits. I always liked Ivory as a runner earlier in his career, but his brutal style took a toll on his body as the year ran on as his YPC dropped each consecutive month. While we are in late October now, Fournette has kept Ivory fresh, and I expect him to run with the same power that we normally see from him early in the year against the 20th ranked rush defense. He should also be able to get several chunk plays through the air as IND ranks 31st against receiving backs. As you have probably inferred from these numbers, the Colts have given up five games of 18.5+ points in 6 weeks, with only the bad Cardinals run game and SF without a healthy Hyde not being able to meet this mark. (The Colts decided that they had to have 2 backs meet this point threshold last week hence the 5 for 6.)

Indy ranks an even worse 27th against the pass, but the main concerns are a) can Black Bortles take advantage of his limited opportunities and b) will they actually need to throw. While Lee didn’t practice until Friday, it looks like he will be fine here. Assuming that he is fine to go, he will go up against the 99th-ranked Vontae Davis. How the mighty have fallen. Regardless, this is an exceptionally volatile option as Lee has seen his targets range from 3 to 12 throughout the year. We do see dramatic splits in their wins versus their losses, however, as he has averaged 5 targets per game in their wins to 8.3 in each of their losses. I have doubts about whether Indy can put up points here though, so it might be another low volume day. If Lee cannot end up suiting up, Hurns is one of the sneakiest value plays on the week as he will line up against Nate Hairston in the slot and will get peppered with targets.

As I have mentioned repeatedly before, there is a greater chance than a lot of people think that Luck just won’t play this year, and the Colts front office just mentioned the possibility of shutting him down at this point. We will see if this comes to fruition, but either way I don’t want Brissett against the #1 pass defense in the league. Fun fact – through 6 games so far, opposing QBs would have a higher rating if they threw it away on every play instead of targeting either Ramsey or Bouye. Chuck Pagano also just announced that Hilton needs more targets, but he better not think about doing it here. He is clearly channeling his inner Todd Haley right now.

Robert Turbin will miss the rest of the season, so regardless of whether Chuck Pagano thinks that Mack is ready or not, Mack will get a bigger role moving forward. I assumed that Mack would get more run last week regardless, and he started out with a couple of runs that averaged 9.0 YPC, but Pagano brought in Turbin later in the game for inexplicable reasons. I assume that Mack will see 8-10 carries this week with another 5-7 targets, but I would love for him to get more. Sadly, you will need him to be hyper-efficient with these touches for him to approach value, and that is always a dicey bet at best.

ARI (21.25) @ LAR (24.25)

Rich Hribar had a very interesting observation in regards to Ellington – only 2 of his 41 targets on the year have come when the Cardinals had the lead (i.e. make sure that you only think about him where Arizona figures to trail). Regardless, Ellington has also not practiced as of Friday, so he will probably sit here. I don’t really expect AP to get additional targets as he has never been good at receiving, but he has a good situation here anyway. The Rams rank 22nd against the run and have given up 24+ point performances in every week since Week 2 except when they played Seattle. I personally still think that AP doesn’t have much left in the tank at this point and it was just a convergence of good circumstances for him last week, but it is tough to fully discount the 20+ carries he will get at only $5800 here. If you do decide to roster him, just know that a lot of other people will as well.

The Rams are much tougher against the pass as they rank 6th in DVOA and they have only allowed 1 WR to put up more than 15 points on them all year (Garcon put up 24.2 in Week 3). With that being said, John Brown gets the 96th-ranked Trumaine Johnson for most of the day, has averaged 6 targets per game over his past 3 with a couple coming in the RZ, and still costs only $4900. Vegas also projects them to trail, so they should have to throw here (with that being said, NFC West games are always crapshoots as they all play each other so well, so I’m taking this line with a grain of salt). I’m going to #stayonbrand here and definitely have some shares of Ole Smokey.

As I have harped on before, WR1s do not do well against Arizona. Last week, we saw Evans do fairly well, but I’m going to chalk that mostly up to Peterson’s quad injury that I mentioned and TB’s game plan being thrown for a loop with Jameis going down:

Player Position Week Rsh RshYD RshTD Rec RecYd RecTD FantPt
Cameron Brate TE 6 0 0 0 6 76 1 19.60
Mike Evans WR1 6 0 0 0 3 95 1 18.50
Nelson Agholor Slot 5 0 0 0 4 93 1 19.3
Zach Ertz TE 5 0 0 0 6 61 1 18.1
Torrey Smith Outside WR2 5 1 -3 0 3 70 1 15.7
Brice Butler Outside WR2 3 0 0 0 2 90 1 17
Jack Doyle TE 2 0 0 0 8 79 0 15.9
Golden Tate Slot 1 2 7 0 10 107 0 24.4
Kenny Golladay Outside WR2 1 0 0 0 4 69 2 22.9

 

I’m going to go right back to avoiding Watkins this week, but really love Woods here since he will see the 95th-ranked Justin Bethel. Woods has seen at least 6 targets in each of his last 4 and costs only $4000. I feel like salary is fairly tight across the board this week, so you need to take the best salary-saver options that you can find.

Arizona is also strong against the run as they rank 4th in DVOA, and they haven’t allowed an opponent to go over 19 points on them so far (Zeke put up 18.4 in Week 3). Gurley has still topped 100+ yards in 3 of his last 4, and these 3 also correspond to the times when he has had 23+ carries (he only had 14 in the outlier). He has seen his targets tail off over the last two as he only has 5 combined there, but he did have 15 combined in the previous two before that. I’m not sure if this will average out to a more normal 4-5 per game, which I assume it will, or if they actually are interested in limiting him in the pass game. Either way, he is very expensive at $8200 and you have to have him put up 24+ points here to exceed value, but he has scored over this in half of his games so far this year. He will have low ownership here and will be in a good game script, but the match-up is still very difficult.

CAR (22) @ CHI (19)

Luke Keuchly will probably miss this one, which is a huge hit to the Panthers run defense. Scott Barrett crunched the numbers on this from 2015-2017 and came up with them allowing +5.5 PPR/game and +4.4. rush points/game to RBs with him out. The Bears will most likely ride Howard hard here as he has seen 18+ carries in each of his last 4 and is a very reasonable $6400, so I’m going back to the well.

The Bears pass game remains unexciting.

Overall, Chicago has a better defense than many people realize, but they still do rank only 14th against the pass, 19th against the run, 11th against TEs, and 14th against receiving backs. While Benjamin did miss practice early in the week, Ron Rivera said that he is more “probable” than “questionable” here. Big-bodied WRs and TEs have hurt the Bears throughout the year as they have given up big lines to Nelson, Hooper, Evans, and Rudolph, so I’m certainly intrigued by all of Benjamin, Funchess, and Dickson here. Funchess has averaged 9 targets/game over his past 4, while K-Benj has only averaged 6.25 over this same period. His usage appears on the upswing though as he has seen it increase each week over this period as well, and it topped off at 13 targets last week. Between the two of them, I prefer the $900 discount I can get for Funchess as Benjamin is all the way up at $6900. I also feel like everyone is overlooking Dickson here. He had his monster game against the Lions, but then faced a very tough Eagles squad. In that one, he still saw 8 targets though, so he clearly has Cam’s trust and they are trying to get the ball into his hands. At only $3500 you can sign me up as I fully expect him to have a bounce back week here.

CMC continues to see massive volume in the pass game as he has gone over 10 targets in 2 of his last 4. He continues to be fairly uninvolved with the run, however, as he is only getting around 4 carries per game over this same period. He has a high floor and he can get over 20 points, but I’m just not that excited with him at $6100 with Ajayi right there. I could be wrong about this, so if you like him, feel free to fire him up as I don’t have a great reason for not liking him.

DAL (27.5) @ SF (21)

Hoyer has now been benched for CJ Beathard. Exciting stuff seeing as how Beathard couldn’t really do much at Iowa, so I’m not sure how this will translate into him succeeding in the NFL. Dallas is not great against either the pass in general, 23rd, or TEs, 29th. While I’m uninterested in many of the pass-catching options with Beathard at the helm, we absolutely have to consider Kittle here as they played together in college, will have a very positive game script, and has seen 8.5 targets per game over the last two. He has also already seen 9 targets in the RZ (t-7th in the league).

Sean Lee will be back for this one, and this will provide them with a much needed boost against the run as they have dropped all the way to last in the league. I really want to chalk up Hyde’s bad games to his injury, but I’m not sure if I can fully do that as he was off of the injury report last week and still saw only 13 totes for only 28 yards. He did have 5 catches and multiple rushing TDs, which gave him a very solid 24.5 points on the day, but I would love to get some clarity around this as I’m still not 100% confident that he won’t be benched mid game.

Zeke gets another stay of execution this week, and finds himself in an excellent match-up. While I have talked about SF being better against the run than most people realize, they are 13th in DVOA, they did just cut one of their best run-stopping LBs, Navarro Bowman. SF has also seen a fairly easy schedule so far as they have played WAS (without Kelley), Indy, ARI, LAR, SEA, and CAR. When they faced off against Gurley, they gave up 28-113-2 rushing and another 5-36-1 through the air for 40.9 points. While I’m not going to predict 3 TDs for Elliott here, I think that he is premier pivot off of Bell and should see half of his ownership.

Other than game script, Dez also gets an ideal match-up here as SF has given up three 20+ point receiving games over their last 4. In every week where he hasn’t been shadowed by Peterson, Dez has seen at least 8 targets and also has 9 RZ targets on the season.

SEA (21.75) @ NYG (18.25)

As TJ Hernandez noted, no team has thrown at a higher rate in the RZ than Seattle, and the Giants continuously get destroyed by TEs:

Week Recs Rec

Yards

Rec TDs DK Points
Jeff Heuerman 6 2 24 1 10.40
Hunter Henry 5 3 42 1 13.20
Cameron Brate 4 4 80 1 18.0
OJ Howard 4 2 63 1 14.3
Zach Ertz 3 8 55 1 18.5
Eric Ebron 2 5 42 1 15.2
Jason Witten 1 7 59 1 18.9

 

Jimmy Graham has seen at least 6 targets in each of his last 3, and this spiked to 11 against the Titans. He has also seen 5 RZ targets over this period and this is a smash spot for him.

I don’t really like Seattle’s run game as I assume it is still in disarray after their bye.

SEA remains a premier pass defense while ranking a lowly 26th against the run. The Giants turned to Darkwa last week and gave him 21 carries, which he turned into 117 yards against Denver. While this might be an outlier number of touches, I’m willing to roll the dice here as he clocks in at only $3700 and, if he can get 20+ touches again, he is a premier value play that no one is talking about.

SEA ranks 8th against TEs, but Engram is a monster as we saw last week, and he put up 5-82-1 on 7 targets. I kind of assume that SEA will end up putting a CB in coverage on him as his speed will let him blow by either safety or their LBs.

DEN (20.25) @ LAC (20.25)

Both Thomas and Sanders injured their legs this past week, but it sounds like Sanders’ injury is more severe, and he will miss at least a week or two with an ankle sprain. Thomas should be fine to play here and will most likely get force fed targets. While he does have a tough match-up against Hayward and I don’t have high hopes for the offense in general, I’m fine rolling the dice on Thomas for only $5800.

While I initially liked CJA a lot here due to the Chargers ranking 28th against the run and giving up several large games already, both starting tackles for DEN will be out, so this will be really hard for them to work around. At $7200 and with questionable usage, I’m going to have to ignore him here.

Over 30% of the receiving yards allowed by DEN have gone to opposing TEs and the only other team north of 30% is WAS. The Chargers are also finally starting to use Henry like they should as he has seen 7+ targets in each of his last two. Furthermore, Keenan Allen got injured during Thursday’s practice. While he says that he is hopeful that he can suit up here, mid-week injuries are always scary, and I’m very worried about his availability. Thus, if he sits, Henry should absorb a good chunk of his targets. I really like Henry here.

As Scott Barrett mentioned, in the games where Gordon has not been on the injury report, he has averaged 21 touches for 130+ yards per game. Unfortunately, he is questionable again this week, so I’m going to steer clear especially since DEN ranks 1st against the run (it is worth noting that they showed some cracks against Darkwa last week, however).

CIN (17.5) @ PIT (23)

Martavis Bryant has requested a trade apparently because he is being criminally underutilized. I really want to believe that this is a squeaky wheel situation as he gets a beautiful match-up against Dre Kirkpatrick, but I’m can’t make any guarantees about what will happen here. I’ll probably end up with light exposure just in case they decide to get their head out of the sand and see the light about him. Adam Jones will probably miss this one, which is a big boost for AB as Jones is the only CB Brown has had some trouble with previously. Regardless of what happens with Bryant, AB will still get fed in this one as he has seen double-digit targets in every game other than the one against the Ravens. While CIN does rank 7th against the pass and haven’t given up any 20+ point games outside of to both Jordy and Geronimo Allison in Week 3, I think that this more speaks to the quality of opponent they have faced as they also went up against BUF, CLE, HOU (before Watson started), and BAL. I sadly cannot say that Big Ben is all that much better, but his weapons are clearly a huge upgrade.

CIN also ranks 7th against RBs, but they have given up 6+ catches to McCoy, DJ-lite, and TyMont in each of their last 3, so Bell will maintain his massive floor here. Much like the passing game, Cincy looks good on paper as they haven’t given up more than 80 rushing yards to a single back all season, but all of the teams that they have faced have been fairly talent-bereft. The only back close to Bell is McCoy, but as I mentioned, his running style just doesn’t seem to fit the team this year.

PIT currently ranks as the 2nd overall D per Football Outsiders as they grade out 4th against the pass and 12th against the rush. This feels wrong to me as they haven’t’ actually been all that impressive outside of holding KC to 13 points last week. They gave up 30 points to the Jags (yes, I realize that half of these came from DST returns), let CHI put up 23 on them, and also faced the Ravens, Browns, and Minnesota after Bradford got hurt. While I’m not going to target any Cincy RB here, I’m sure as hell going to target AJG. Green figures to line up against Haden a lot, and I expect him to win this match-up all of the time. Throw in the fact that Dalton should have to throw quite a bit with most of these going to Green – he has averaged double-digit targets so far this year – I really like AJG to have a big day here.

ATL (26.5) @ NE (30)

Get your popcorn ready, we have the 25th ranked defense on one side versus the 32nd ranked defense on the other. As you probably guessed from this, the Pats continue to allow an otherworldly average of over 29 points per game to opposing QBs. They are also without starting CBs Stephon Gilmore and Eric Rowe this week. Shocker on this one, after an embarrassing loss to MIA at home last week, the Falcons have diagnosed that their problem is that they haven’t gotten Julio the ball enough. It took you until Week 7 and a loss to the Dolphins to figure this out??? Just to really hammer this home, Josh Doctson has more TDs than Julio so far this year. I’m going all in on Julio here even though Sanu figures to be back. If Sanu somehow continues to keep eating into Julio’s role, I’m pretty sure every offense coach in Atlanta should be fired. The Pats also continue to be bled dry by TEs, so Hooper makes for another excellent option here (the Pats continue to give away TDs to TEs like candy as it has happened in 5 out of 6 games so far this year).

NE is slightly better against RBs as they grade out as 23rd in DVOA, but they are truer to form against receiving backs as they rank 28th in that regard. Outside of Hunt’s big Week 1, however, they haven’t given up any crooked lines, but I’m still chalking that up to their pass defense just being horrible. I certainly don’t hate taking either Coleman or Freeman here on the small slates.

As I mentioned last week, I liked Lewis more than Gillislee as he has looked more explosive and he came through. Gill has now sealed his fate by fumbling (and probably his family’s since I suspect Belichick keeps every RB’s family hostage at gunpoint somewhere on gameday). While Lewis continues to see his carries rise, he still hasn’t had more than 11 on the year, and White has maintained his stranglehold on the passing work. While ATL does rank 29th against the run, they have only allowed Ajayi to put up over 80 yards on the ground on them. They did, however, give up some crooked lines early in the year through the air as TyMont and Cohen put up 6-75-1 and 8-47-1 receiving lines respectively. The Falcons seem to have tightened this up somewhat, but they just missed giving up another receiving TD to Riddick in Week 3. Burkhead will be back for this one, but I’m really not sure if I should classify him as a RB or a WR as he was running a decent number of his snaps out of the slot before he went down.

Hogan is also good to go for the Pats here and he gets the best match-up against Alford on the outside. He is also 3rd in the league with 11 RZ targets so far, so fire him up with confidence. I also like Amendola here as we have seen the Falcons give up receiving TDs to the opposing slot receiver in 3 straight weeks. Finally, while ATL does rank 19th against TEs, I’m not scared of them as Gronk is Gronk and the Falcons still gave up 5-112-0 to Charles Clay a couple of weeks ago. Gronk is clearly much better than Clay.

WAS (22.25) @ PHI (26.75)

Bashaud Breeland might miss this one, so with him potentially down and Norman definitely out, the WAS secondary is getting very thin. This makes Jeffery an outstanding play on every slate that has this game, but he might not be as sneaky as I hoped that he would be since the Norman news broke on Friday. Last week I mentioned that he should breakout soon and they promptly gave him 10 targets in a far easier match-up than he has seen the rest of the year. He gets another great match-up here, so I assume that we will again see him peppered with targets. Torrey has a tougher match-up on the other side against Dunbar who has graded out well so far, but he doesn’t have enough snaps to officially rank, so this could just be small sample size. Regardless, you are getting minimal targets here, but he can always put up something along the lines of 2-90-1 on them (he does grade out very poorly among WRs though). Agholor also has a relatively difficult match-up in the slot against Fuller, but he has seen his targets rise in 4 straight, so you might get 6-8 targets out of him regardless. The other main weapon here is clearly Zach Ertz as WAS ranks 27th against TEs and have given up several large games already, including one to Ertz:

Week Recs Rec

Yards

Rec TDs DK Points
Travis Kelce 4 7 111 1 27.4
Jared Cook 3 4 43 1 14.3
Gerald Everett 2 3 95 0 12.5
Zach Ertz 1 8 93 0 17.3

 

While I normally avoid the Eagles run game like the plague, I definitely think that there is merit to rostering Blount on the small slates at only $4500. The Eagles should lead this one and he will get his normal 14-16 carries in a positive game script, and he has a greater likelihood than any other RB on the Mon-Thurs slate to get a TD (save Ajayi and even that is iffy).

The WAS run game is up in the air with Kelley still questionable, but he was able to practice last week in a limited fashion, so I assume that he will be fine here unless he suffers a setback during warmups. Regardless of whether he plays or not, Philly is very strong against the run, 9th in DVOA, and I’m not excited about rostering either him or Perine. Between the two, I would definitely take Kelley just because Perine is a horribly inefficient runner so far, but I don’t really want either of them. Thompson had a season-high 16 carries with Kelley down last week and, while he can always bust a long run, he is also very inefficient as he was under 4 YPC in 4 games so far this year. He is electric as a receiver, however, and he has scored 15+ on 4 occasions. They will probably give him 5-7 targets here, and he always has the potential to 3x value, but my bold stand on the Mon-Thurs slate will be to fade him completely since I expect him to have relatively high ownership versus the likelihood of him actually reaching 3x.

While I am very hesitant on the WAS running game, I do really like their pass game since the Eagles are weaker against the pass and WAS figures to play from behind here. I’m going to ignore Crowder as he gets a tough match-up against Robinson in the slot and they only gave him 5 targets last week after promising that they “would get him more involved.” Ryan Grant and Josh Doctson are going to split targets on one-side with Doctson receiving around 3 and Grant probably getting 4 or 5. Both are seeing involvement in the RZ and I really love Doctson in that area in particular, but the team doesn’t want to fully commit to him as Grant seems to be a pet project for them. This is very frustrating. I think both are worth flyers on this small slate depending upon how many lines you plan on entering, but I prefer Doctson with his slightly higher TD equity. On the other side, we have Pryor, who will probably be at least 80% owned here. While I definitely had hope for him last week after finally showing some chemistry with Cousins the week before, he only put up 3-23-0 against SF. He goes up against Jalen Mills again here who, while no longer literally the worst CB in the league, still ranks only 85th out of 111. I think a reasonable target expectation here is 7-9 targets as I fully expect him to start getting more than 4-5 he has seen over the previous weeks, but I don’t expect him to get the same 11 targets he saw Week 1 when these two teams played.

Quick Hits for Bye Teams

DET – Golden Tate will miss a few weeks


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