Week 8 Game by Game Breakdown

First of all, I apologize to all of our readers who expected a write-up done for the TNF. I thought I posted it on Tuesday, but it looks like it didn’t save.

Week 8 2017

This past week was…. tilting to say the least. The Dolphins refused to give Ajayi goal-line carries all game, even after Cutler went down. I’m fairly certain that Howard scored a TD, but apparently they didn’t have cameras on the side of the field that you needed them to be on to give a definitive replay. The Broncos offense just completely imploded and D-Thom saw about 10 less targets than I expected him to get. Martavis had 2 targets and 1 catch after the coaching staff promised to get him more involved. Kittle saw less than 50% of the snaps and tied his season-low of 2 targets against one of the weakest TE defenses in the league while the 49ers were down big. The Titans couldn’t score a single TD against the pathetic Browns. Jimmy Graham dropped one TD and another long gain that could have potentially ended with a TD (thankfully he had a late TD to somewhat salvage his day). Sark could only muster his offense to 7 points against the worst defense in the league. The list goes on and on. Needless to say, I think I had my worst week on the year so far.

MIA (17.25) @ BAL (20.25)

Cutler is down for a couple of games with cracked ribs, so Matt Moore will start in his place. It is amazing to me that Kaep hasn’t received a call. Either way, we also need to monitor OT Laremy Tunsil’s health here as he might play because his knee injury wasn’t as severe as was originally thought. Obviously, if he cannot go, this is a further knock on the entire Dolphins’ offense. Even if he can play, however, I think Matt Moore is a bad QB and BAL will punish him here (he threw a pick in each of the 4 games he started last year and only went over 236 yards during that span). Moore did put up 188 yards on 13 completions for 2 TDs and 1 INT last week, but that was against the Jets. Landry does have a great match-up against Lardarius Webb, the 101st-ranked CB (out of 112), and he was again peppered with targets, but I just don’t think MIA has that much TD equity in general here. Also, if we go back to those 4 games from last year, he averaged 13 targets in two of the games and only 5 in the other two, so you are definitely hoping that they go with the game plan for the former instead of the latter.

I went heavy on Ajayi last week due to the yardage the Jets were giving up to RBs and because it seemed like he was past his knee issue. He rewarded me with 51 yards on 23 carries. Yay. BAL is weaker against the run as they have given up over 110 rushing yards in 3 out of their last 4 with 4 rushing TDs over this same period. Going into last week, I really thought that the Ravens would tighten back up against the run as they just got Brandon Williams back, who grades out as a top-20 interior defender, but Latavius had surprising success. If you think that Ajayi can have similar success, you are a braver man than I as I can’t imagine that Ajayi will have that much success here in a negative game script especially if Tunsil is out. It was also very concerning to see MIA have Matt Moore throw it at the goal-line last week instead of pounding it in with Ajayi, so just another reason to steer clear.

MIA just cut Byron Maxwell who has had a very up-and-down last couple of years. He looked awful in Philly after getting a huge payday, graded out as the 10th-best CB last year after getting traded to MIA, and was now back to bottom-5 in the league. Either way, they are probably better off without him and the Ravens’ pass-catching squad is very banged up. Wallace will probably miss this one after his concussion, but he did get in a limited practice on Tuesday, so there is the off chance that he can still clear the protocol in time. If he can go, he gets an ideal match-up against the 110th-ranked Xavien Howard. Maclin also practiced in a limited fashion with his shoulder injury, so he is also tentative here. He gets the harder match-up out of the slot, but he was seeing 5-8 targets per game before he went down (versus Wallace’s 3-5 with one 10 target game as a complete outlier). If one or both of them can go, they will be in a great spot as Miami is one of the biggest pass funnels in the league (3rd against the run versus 27th against the pass).

West didn’t practice on Tuesday, so it’s looking doubtful that he will suit up on a short week, which will leave Allen and Collins to share the load. Buck saw a whopping 11 targets last week in a negative game script and with both Maclin and Wallace down. I really don’t see the Ravens getting behind to the Dolphins though, and if one or both of Maclin and Wallace are back, I’m going to be completely hands off as I think that the coaching staff prefers Collins to grinding out the clock. Collins has seen limited touches, but he is clearly the superior runner here as he has averaged above 4.6 YPC in every game this year except last week against the Vikings. His ceiling isn’t terribly high in this offense, but I have a lot of him on my Mon-Thurs lines.

MIN (24) @ CLE (14)

Just as a fair warning, this game is over in London, so it could always turn out a little screwy (I’m not saying that I’m expecting an upset, just that I feel like an outlier in either direction is more likely).

Things just get worse and worse for Cleveland as ironman Joe Thomas finally had his consecutive snap string ended due to a torn triceps. I really wish that he could just sign with one of the SB teams for a day just so that he has a shot at getting a ring since there is a non-zero chance that he just hangs up his cleats. Hue Jackson named Kizer the starter for this week, but he has already thrown 11 interceptions this year while not even playing a full 6 games, so he has a high likelihood of getting benched midgame. I know I have called for Kessler in the past, but he came in and didn’t do anything other than throw a pick and get sacked a couple of times last week. MIN does rank only 26th against TEs, but they have only allowed 3 to score over 10 points and none to go over 17. Njoku has seen 5 targets per game in each of his last two and game script should force the ball his way. I like him as a super contrarian option on small slates, but the Browns are gonna Brown, so it’s unlikely that they will actually be able to get the ball to their best receiving option.

With Thomas down, I continue to be uninterested in either Crowell or DJ-lite.

CLE continues to be a strong pass funnel as they are 2nd against the run and 26th against the pass (and 30th against TEs). As such, they have not let a single back rush for more than 66 yards on them so far this year. I am also worried about how McKinnon and Murray will be used moving forward as Murray had the much better game last week, and has clearly pushed for more carries moving forward. This seems like a RBBC in a less than ideal spot to me.

When it is so tough to attack them on the ground, why not just attack them through the air? Great question, and I think any semi-competent coach will decide to go after them this way. Thielen has seen at least 8 targets in each of his last 5 with the last two games clocking in at 12 and 13 respectively. Diggs has started practicing again in a limited fashion, and I feel like if he does play, this will make things even better for Thielen. As we saw last year, Diggs is far less effective when limited, and this really opens things up for Thielen since all of the attention goes towards Diggs anyway (I’m thinking particularly of that 200+ yard game against GB). Rudolph is another fine option since the Browns are horrific against TEs:

  Week Recs Rec Yards Rec TDs DK Points
Delanie Walker 7 7 63 0 12.3
ASJ 5 6 29 1 14.90
Tyler Kroft 4 6 68 2 24.80
Ben Watson 2 8 91 0 17.10
Jesse James 1 6 41 2 22.10

 

Rudolph has also averaged over 8 targets per game over his last 3, with 3 RZ targets during this stretch. Rudolph will be chalky, especially on the small slates, but it is hard to argue with his usage or the match-up.

OAK (22.25) @ BUF (24.75)

Lynch’s one-game suspension was upheld, so he will miss this one, but I wouldn’t have used him here anyway. BUF is ranked 7th in DVOA against the run and have yet to allow anyone to go over 80 yards on them in any game, but they just traded away Dareus mid-week. Dareus is obviously a great run-stopper and I feel like it will be really difficult for his replacement to step in right away and have the same impact, especially since this happened on Friday (i.e. so he probably had limited practices with the first unit). Washington did see a season-high 9 carries after Lynch got ejected last week, so we can project low double-digits here, but even with Dareus gone, I don’t see an easy way for him to get 20 points here. Basically, I want every RB and WR I roster to have a shot at this mark, and Washington hasn’t gone over 4.0 YPC in a single game yet this year. Furthermore, no RB has put up 20 points on BUF so far, and only Coleman and Freeman went past 15, and I’m doubting that Dareus’s departure provides a +5 point boost. Richard also saw 9 carries, but I don’t think he will get that many more as he is more of the “lightning” role in this offense. If I had to choose between the two of them, I definitely prefer Washington with the slightly increased running workload and at a $200 discount.

Well, Amari finally had his big breakout last week, and that will happen when he gets 19 targets. Both he and Crabtree split time on each side fairly evenly, so they will get a bad match-up half of the time (against Tre’Davious White, the 4th-ranked CB) and a great match-up during the other half (against Shareece Wright, the 103rd-ranked CB). Both are fairly close in RZ targets with Crabtree 2 behind Cooper’s 8. While I think that we will see further positive regression for Cooper since he only has one catch and one TD on these 8 targets, Crabtree turned all 4 of his completions into TD. A 100% success rate is clearly not sustainable. Between the Bills being tougher against the run, OAK potentially trailing, and Carr perhaps throwing more anyway due to Lynch being out, one or both of them should have a good game. Cooper clearly can have absolutely massive games, and we have also seen Crabtree nab 3 TDs in a single game already this year, but I just generally prefer Cooper to Crabtree (Cooper will see more ownership by far this week, however).

Fun fact – the Bills’ defense has more interceptions than Zay Jones has receptions this year. Needless to say, I’m steering clear of him. Matthews gets the toughest match-up against Carrie in the slot, and I’m still not sure if his thumb is actually 100%. OAK is 25th against TEs, but O’Leary actually saw his targets decrease to 2 last week from 6 the week before their bye. The good news is that his snaps stayed relatively even across the two games – 59 and 54 respectively – so I fully expect him to get more targets this week. He is a super contrarian option here, but one that I like on a team with a dearth of other options and in a week where you need cost savings. We did also see Thompson come in and get 4 targets immediately last week, but he only played on 21 snaps, so it’s tough to truly believe in him here with only a single game sample size to go on (he could very well see an increased role this week though).

OAK has allowed every lead back after Week 3 to put up at least 15 points on them with both Gordon and Thompson going for over 33 (a huge chunk of this for both of them came through the air). Shady has seen 7+ targets in 4 out of his last 5, so he definitely has a great opportunity to gash them through the air again. I also mentioned last week that positive TD regression would come for him and so it did, with his pair of TDs. His price has jumped all the way up to $8700, but he is in another great spot.

IND (15.5) @ CIN (26.5)

The Colts rank 30th in DVOA against the pass, just gave up 330 yards to Blake Bortles, and lost their starting FS to injury for the year. They will also be without starting LCB, Rashaan Melvin, for this one and all starting CBs have graded out as 80th or worse. Even before all of this, as Graham Barfield pointed out, the Colts have allowed 20+ plus yard catches on 16% of QB attempts over the course of the year, which is higher than every other team in the league. Part of this is due to Vontae Davis allowing the 3rd-most yards after catch per PFF (as I have hammered on for weeks, we should not fear him). AJG is clearly in a smash spot here, but his ownership will be through the roof and my main concern is that they won’t have to throw all that much after they take the lead (which will happen quickly). We saw this exact scenario happen a couple of weeks ago against the Browns where he only saw 7 targets, so I’m definitely not going 100% AJG here. John Ross is also returning from injury, so it will be interesting to see what his usage is. While I originally assumed that they would ease him into it, the ESPN Bengals’ reporter, Katherine Terrell, stated that she expects him to “see significant playing time.” LaFell has quietly doubled Green’s RZ targets, 8 to 4, and has averaged 7.5 targets per game over the last two, so he makes for an interesting contrarian option. I’m not sure how Ross’s return will impact LaFell, however, and I assume that a few targets will be siphoned off moving forward. I could also see them moving LaFell to the slot whenever Ross is on the field. Kroft is another interesting option to pair with Dalton here as he costs only $3000, should see 4-6 targets, and is utilized in the RZ (he has 4 targets here over his previous 3 games).

Mixon is unhappy with his usage after he put up 7-48 in a half against the Steelers last week, so this might be a squeaky wheel situation. Indy has given up 20+ points in 4 out of 7 games so far, with McKissic just missing this mark with “only” 19.5 points. In that win against the Browns, the Bengals had Mixon run 17 times with it and he seems to be their featured back for when they have the lead. The Colts also rank dead-last against receiving backs, and we can comfortably project 3-4 targets for Mixon here as well. If Gio ends up with a receiving TD instead of Mixon, I’m going to be incredibly tilted (e.g. see the Browns game again). The o-line woes persist, but that is my only concern here as I believe Mixon to be one of the premier value plays on the slate, and I fully expect a big day here (at last).

Mack finally out-snapped Gore last week, 32 to 22, but the Bengals rank 6th against the run and I’m not sure we can count on Pagano to have finally turned the corner here. Mack did also see 6 targets last week, so I’m really hoping that we can bank on this volume moving forward, but this is clearly only a one game sample size and he hasn’t had more than 2 targets in any other game. It is worth noting that this was the first game Turbin was out, so I feel like the odds are decent that we can count on 4-7 targets/game moving forward. This is clearly very risky, but I think Mack is in play here at only $4000. (I do wish that Burfict was suspended this week, and he should have been, since he kicked one of the Steelers last week and has a long history of horrible behavior.)

Brissett continues to have a very low ceiling and will probably get more points rushing than he does passing as he only has 3 TDs – and 3 INTs – on the season. There was talk before last week about getting Hilton more involved and, while CIN is decent against the pass (12th in DVOA), game script will be in his favor here and he only costs $5600. They did target him 8 times last week, but that predictably didn’t work well against Jacksonville, but I assume we can get another 7-10 targets here. Pacman Jones also plays sides exclusively, so they could get Hilton out of his coverage for the whole day if they wanted to (again, I don’t believe Pagano is smart enough to do this, but maybe he will pleasantly surprise me). Even if they don’t do what makes sense here, whenever he lines up on the other side, he will go against the 92nd-ranked, Dre Kirkpatrick. I’m going to absolutely have exposure to Hilton here on the off chance he can break a long TD or 2. CIN also ranks a much worse 20th against TEs, and Doyle is averaging 9 targets per game since he returned from injury two games ago. At $3500, he is definitely a volume-based option.

CAR (22) @ TB (24)

Luke Kuechly got cleared from the concussion protocol for this one and will provide a big boost to their run defense. They are plenty solid without him though as they only gave up 65 yards to Jordan Howard last week (and what should have been a TD). Martin is priced at only $5400 here, saw over 20 touches last week, is seeing a couple of RZ carries each week, and game script should be in his favor. All in all, it is a super tough match-up, but he is incredibly cheap for what he brings to the table and will see low ownership – I won’t go heavy on him, but I might roster him on a line or two and just pray for a couple of TDs.

Graham Barfield pointed out D-Jax leads all WRs in targets 20+ yards down the field per game, while CAR has been very, very good against the deep ball. Due to wind concerns, I will not be rostering Jackson here. Evans is currently tied for 8th in the league with 10 RZ targets, and he should see his normal 8-12 targets again in this one. While CAR ranks 15th against the pass, they have only given up one 20+ point game to a WR on the year, and that was to Michael Thomas (another large-body receiver). Evans has done fine in other tough match-ups, so I’m anticipating another solid day here, but I’m not expecting an absolutely massive day.

Hargreaves was a big defensive liability on the outside so TB moved him into the slot last week. I assume that this will at least be a semi-permanent change once they get everyone healthy, but they are down their other 2 starting CBs here, so he will move back outside for this one. Even before this, TB ranked dead last against the pass and have given up an average of 22.48 points/game to QBs (and this includes a game against Glennon, which definitely skews this average lower). Fire up Cam and his receivers with confidence here. Funchess in particular looks awesome as he has seen 8+ targets in each of his last 5 and only costs $5900 here. K-Benj has seen his usage fluctuate drastically over this same period and has only gone above 6 targets once within these 5 (it was a 13 target outlier against the Eagles).

TB is also not great against the run as they have given up 4 rushing TDs over the past 2 weeks as both Shady and the ghost of AP put up 28+ points on them. While J-Stew is not involved in the pass game and Vegas projects game script to be against them, if Carolina can get the lead, he is a super sneaky play here. He is tied for 14th in the league with 12 RZ carries, but has seen 0 TDs on these, so this screams for positive regression. He is also seeing a fairly steady 14ish carries per game, so while he won’t flirt with that 100-yard mark, he could easily get 60-70 yards and TD or 2. If he ends up with 18+ points, he will be a GPP winner this week as he only costs $3600 and will see less than 2% ownership. CMC continues to see massive pass volume as he has 3 games of 9+ targets over his last 5 and has seen a minimum of 6 over this span. If CAR does end up trailing, you can project another massive workload for McCaffrey here, and he would 3x value with a very likely line of 6-60-1.

CHI (18.75) @ NO (28.75)

Since Trubisky has taken over, the Bears have run the ball almost 70% of the time. This is an unprecedented rate over the past several decades, and I’m going to keep rolling with Howard especially against soft run defenses and boy does this week count as soft. NO is one of the top runnels in the league as they rank 29th against the run and have given up big days to everyone they have faced other than the anemic Dolphins and Lions. I have concerns about the line in front of him as the only rank t-18th in the league with 3.97 adjusted line yards per Football Outsiders, but I’m going to overlook that here.

Since Trubisky has passed it only minimally – he averages only 16 attempts per game – I’m going to steer well clear of his receivers. The Saints are vulnerable to slot receivers per below, but Wright literally saw 0 targets last week and only 3 the week before.

  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

 

They did just pick up Inman, so maybe they plan on having him run out of the slot, but I don’t see them changing how much Trubisky throws in general. I also don’t expect Inman to know the playbook in under a week.

Michael Thomas sat out of Wednesday’s practice, but Sean Patyon said that it isn’t a significant injury and he was off the injury report by Friday, so I’m going to take him at his word here and assume Thomas is 100% here. CHI has tightened things up tremendously the last 3 weeks as they haven’t allowed more than 11.4 points to a single receiver over this span, but they did play the Panthers, Ravens, and Vikings over this period, so it wasn’t exactly a murderer’s row. Earlier in the year, they gave up a string of 7-93-1, 10-110-1, and 4-75-2 to Evans, AB, and Nelson in back-to-back-to-back weeks, so I’m far from sold that they are a shutdown secondary.

Ingram continues to get heavy usage without AP as he has 22+ totes and 5 targets in back-to-back weeks now, and he has rewarded owners with a pair of 100-yard days and an average of 29 fantasy points. Game script should be very positive for him again here and Chicago has given up 26.6 points to McKinnon and 21.8 to Bell on the year, so I’m not terribly afraid of this match-up. Kamara continues to see a bunch of targets along with 9-10 carries per game, but I’m not going to pay $5900 for him when they probably won’t target him as much due to game script.

ATL (25.25) @ NYJ (19.25)

In general, I have huge concerns about the Falcons as they have sucked with Sark as their OC. Even in Julio’s 13 target game last week, Sanu and Hooper still out-snapped him, which is criminal. I certainly hope that they continue to target Julio heavily as no one on the Jets can cover him (heck, very few people in the league have any chance of doing this), but I’m taking nothing for granted here. Buster Skrine will miss this week for the Jets, so Sanu gets a great match-up against replacement, Xavier Coleman. Sanu also saw 10 targets last week, but they were down big, so I think a more reasonable expectation is 6-8 this week. I feel like both Julio and Sanu are in play, but with Sark at the helm, I’m a lot more nervous about them than I was at the start of the year.

While the Jets rank only 22nd against the run, they have only allowed Shady to put up over 100 yards on them. Even though they have held opponent’s yardage fairly in check, they have given up 17+ points to DJ-lite, Fournette, Jalen Richard, and Shady (of course). Freeman continues to get a ton of RZ carries as he is tied for 8th-most on the year with 16 so far, so he is highly likely to punch one in here, but his overall workload scares me as he has seen 21 total carries over the past two weeks combined and only has more than 12 in half of his games so far this year (he saw an average of 19ish in the other 3). Game script should be good here, but I really can’t guarantee that they will own the Jets with how bad they have looked. I’m fine paying the $7200 if he will get 18+ carries, but this feels riskier to me than one would first assume when looking at this match-up. I’m completely hands off Coleman at $5000 as he hasn’t seen double-digit carries a single time this year and has seen only 1 target in each of his last two.

While ATL does rank 30th against the run, Forte and Powell continue in their frustrating timeshare, so I doubt that either will crush value.

ATL is 25th against the pass and 18th against TEs and McCown should have a positive game script to work with here. Kearse gets the easiest match-up against Alford on the outside, but will probably only see his normal 4 targets per game, which is what he has had over each of his past 3. Anderson has seen slightly higher volume as he has seen 5-6 in 4 out of his last 5, but he also does have one 12 target outlier in there. He has the much tougher match-up against Trufant, so I plan on avoiding him as well. ASJ has averaged 8 targets per game over his last 3, and this spiked to 11 in their close game against NE. While ATL is slightly better against TEs than WRs, we did see Clay put up 5-112-0 on them back in Week 4, so it’s not like they are great against the position. Assuming that the Jets are trailing, ASJ should see plenty of volume here, and you should get him at relatively low ownership as well.

LAC (20.5) @ NE (28)

Dont’a Hightower, the Pats best LB (and defensive player in general), will miss the rest of the season with a torn pec. Even before this injury, they graded out a shaky 26th against the run, but they really haven’t given up any huge games since Week 1. This really isn’t due to anything other than that it is even easier to pass against them as they are allowing a healthy 4.76 yards per carry. Gordon has seen at least 18+ carries in each of their last 3, but I’m worried about his new foot injury. He has already said that he will suit up, so I guess he is fine, but this feels risky.

Gilmore is currently questionable for this week, but he did participate in every practice this week, so I expect him to return. I’m not sure what they will do with Bademosi in this case as he has looked better in relief than their nominal starters. Either way, let’s take a look at the Chargers’ receivers now that we have a couple of weeks’ worth of data since Mike Williams returned because we know that NE is abysmal against the pass.

TyWill has seen his snaps stay steady at 44 and 43 respectively over the past two weeks – this is a drop from his average of 58.6 over the 5 games Mike Will didn’t play though – but he has only seen 4 total targets over this period, which is just 1 more than Williams’ 3. Benjamin has seen his snaps cut in half since Williams has returned, and will see another 20-22 this week assuming that this continues to hold true. He has also seen only 2 total targets over these 2 weeks, which is no bueno. Allen has seen a slight decrease in his snaps as well, but he was already seeing fairly high variance as he saw anywhere between 49 and 71 before Williams even returned. He has also seen his targets decrease in 3 consecutive weeks from 12 to 9 to 7, but I attribute this more to Henry’s rise than the return of Williams. Now on to the man himself – Mike Will saw 14 snaps last week (up from 11 the week before), and I assume that we will continue to see his usage rise moving forward.

Match-up wise, Allen has the best one against Jonathan Jones in the slot, who grades out as the 73rd-best CB. Allen has also seen 8 RZ targets over his past 4 games, so he definitely seems like the best WR option out of the group. As I have harped on continuously, the Pats are exceptionally weak against TEs as they have given up 5 receiving TDs to the position so far (and it should have been 6). Hunter Henry also has looked just awesome since he ascended to the TE1 role here. Over the past 3 weeks, he has averaged around 7 targets per game with 4 total coming in the RZ, and he has put up at least 11 DK points in each. I love stacking Rivers with either one or both of Henry and Allen here as NE has allowed six 300+ yard performances so far to McCown, Winston, Newton, Watson, Brees, and Smith. Three of these games had the QB put up over 350. In fact, the only QB to not have a 300-yard day against NE was Matty Ice last week.

The Chargers pass rush is #fierce, and Nate Solder has not done well so far this year. I’m sure that Bosa will be licking his lips for this match-up, and Brady will have to get rid of it quickly to avoid a lot of hits (we should also look for him to roll out to his right to try and avoid Bosa as well). The Chargers outside CBs are very, very strong, so I’m expecting both Cooks and Hogan to have a lot of issues here. They are weakest at their slot CB position, but Desmond King definitely isn’t bad – he grades out as the 41st-best – and Amendola isn’t seeing a ton of volume. To further rain on his parade, he also sat out most of the practices this week with a knee injury, so I’m expecting him to be limited if he does suit up. While LAC also grades out fairly well against TEs, Ertz put up 5-81 on them, so they aren’t invincible. At Gronk’s price you need at least this and a TD, which is certainly a possibility, but I don’t love the spot.

Between the Chargers strength against the pass (8th) and weakness against the run (27th), they are a top runnel to target. So far, they have given up three games of 120+ yards (Blount, Hunt, and Ajayi), and 4 counts of 17+ points. Lewis has steadily seen his carries increase in each of the last 5 weeks, and the dude looks good. He has averaged at least 4.5 YPC in each of his last 4 and has seen 7 RZ carries over this same period. He is priced at $4600 and you should project him for around 15 carries in this one, so I definitely like him due to the convergence of upside, price, ownership, game script, and opponent’s weakness. While they are relatively weak against the run, they are 5th in DVOA against receiving backs, so I’m also worried about White here. Since week 3, they are giving up 6.6-53.2-0 per game through the air to RBs, which is not really ideal (adding in Weeks 1 and 2 makes these numbers even more dismal). White has also seen his target share drop in 4 consecutive weeks, 12>9>7>5, and hasn’t seen more than 5 rushes in a game since Week 1 (he has seen 10 total carries over the previous 4 games). I’m just saying that in last week’s game, Burkhead’s first since Week 2, he saw almost as many carries as White saw in that one and the previous game combined.

SF (16.25) @ PHI (28.75)

Philly just got a divisional win on MNF, but it came at a very high price. LT Jason Peters tore his ACL and MCL and MLB Hicks tore his Achilles. Both are high-impact players and both are now out for the season. Their slot corner, Robinson, also went down, but I haven’t heard any injury news about him, so I guess he is fine? Stuff like this always worries me, because it could just be lost in the shuffle with all of the other big injury news here and Robinson could end up being limited if he was in fact injured last week. Robinson also currently grades out as a top-5 CB, so any limitations will hurt this secondary. If he is indeed limited, this won’t affect things too much for Garcon as he only runs 22% of his routes out of the slot and will avoid him most of the day regardless. Speaking of Garcon, he will see the 83rd-ranked Jalen Mills for most of his day, but he saw his targets dip to 7 last week with Beathard under center. This could absolutely be a 1 game anomaly, but it definitely isn’t ideal since that is the lowest target total he has seen since Week 1. Goodwin, on the other hand, saw his targets spike to 8 with 2 of those coming in the RZ. Goodwin was very limited in practice this week with a back issue, so I’m not sure how that will affect him here. If he seems good to go and the winds aren’t too bad – definitely check on this – he could be a very interesting play here as he is only $3900 and we desperately need value this week. Another thing to monitor is if Ronald Darby will come back or not and, if he does, which starter gets demoted (i.e. so we can project which side he will be on for most of the day). Between Shanahan not using Kittle against a bad TE-covering team and the Eagles’ relative strength against TEs, I’m not really interested in going back to the well here. Speaking of this usage last week and just how players have been utilized in general so far this year, I feel like being a HC might be out of Shanahan’s league, at least at this point in his career. I really liked Shanahan as the OC for the Falcons, but some coaches just make better coordinators (a great example on the other side of the ball is DC Jim Schwartz – failed as a HC, but awesome DC).

While Hicks is a big loss for the unit, specifically in coverage, he actually didn’t grade out all that well against the run, so this probably won’t open things up for Hyde as much as you might first expect. The Eagles’ d-line is really solid and the 49ers o-line is not great. While they do rank 14th in DVOA as a whole, they are middle of the pack with adjusted line yards and rank 21st in the power department and 25th for their stuffed rate. It will also be even weaker this week as starting RT, Trent Brown, will miss this one. With all of this being said, Hyde has seen 14 targets over the past two weeks, so he has a very solid floor here, but his ceiling looks capped since he has only seen 27 carries over this same period. At $6000, you need to think about him due to his involvement in the passing game since 6-60-1 takes him to 3x his salary, and the Eagles have given up at least 13.6 points receiving to backs in each of the last 3 weeks.

Vaitai will replace Peters at LT and I have only seen him play RT, so we will see how he performs here (he isn’t great at RT, so here’s to hoping that he is better on the other side). Unfortunately for him, he goes up against the stronger half of San Fran’s d-line, so I’m expecting a lot of quick passes, chip blocks, and Carson rolling out to the right. So far, Jeffery has been a huge bust and has failed even in good match-ups (see last week against WAS without Norman). He gets another awesome match-up here against the 103rd-ranked Rashard Robinson, but it is super tough to trust him especially in a potential blow-out. He has also averaged only around 7 targets over the past 5 games, and that is skewed a little high anyway due to a 10 target outlier game. Jeffery is also seeing very limited RZ involvement as he only saw 3 total RZ targets during this same 5 game stretch. I don’t think I can justify him at $6700 for all of these reasons. Smith grades out even worse as he is a bottom-10 WR so far, and only saw 3 targets over the previous 2 weeks combined. You are hoping that he catches a bomb and puts up something like 2-70-1, but he is another one that I just don’t think I can stomach rostering. Agholor looks very interesting, however. As Scott Barrett noted, QBs targeting the slot in SF have put up a combined line of 26-390-4 with 0 INTs so far on 37 targets. The 49ers have apparently noticed this as well as they literally just brought back Leon Hall to start as their slot CB, but Hall has not played a snap this year. Over his past 3 games, Agholor has averaged just about 6 targets per game and has scored at least 14.5 in each. This is mainly due to his 3-game TD streak, which is clearly unsustainable.

Blount has seen 14-16 carries in each of his last 4 and has had a whopping 12 of these come in the RZ. None of these have been converted into a rushing TD though. Over this same period, he has also averaged 4.8 YPC or better in 3 of the games. Obviously, we should expect positive TD regression moving forward, and SF has been laughably bad against the run (and they cut one of their best run stoppers, Navarro Bowman, right before Zeke trucked them for 147 rushing yards last week). Over their past 5, the lead RB has scored at least 16.3 points on the 49ers, with two performances of 40+. Even if he just hits that 16.3 mark, he is already over 3x his salary, and I feel like he has a solid chance to put up 20 here in what should be an exceptionally positive game script. The two concerns I have about Blount is 1) Peters is down now and 2) Smallwood is back now after missing two and looked decent last week. His return didn’t seem to affect Blount’s workload, so I’m just hoping that we can continue counting on 14+ carries.

HOU (19.25) @ SEA (26.25)

Well, the Houston owner is a moron as he just managed to alienate his entire team. Hopkins took a personal day on Friday to protest, and the coaching staff had to talk the rest of the team off of walking out as well. Players have already stated that this issue is not over, and I can’t imagine that they will put forth their best effort here.

Assuming Hopkins plays, he will already miss Sherman on 70% of his routes, and could miss him all day if the coaching staff plans this out accordingly. So far, Hopkins has seen 12+ targets in 4 out of 6 games his year, and the only one in which he saw less than 8 was against the Browns (i.e. they didn’t have to do much). He also has 5 TDs over his previous 3 games, which is clearly unsustainable. Also, much like with Crabtree, Hopkins’ season-long RZ numbers beg for regression – on his 6 targets, he has 5 TDs. I originally liked Hopkins a lot here as a high-volume, contrarian option in a receiver-friendly game script where he would either mostly or completely avoid Sherman. With the ongoing ownership imbroglio, however, I’m much more hesitant. You could also try and make the argument for Griffin at only $3100 because he has seen around 6 targets per game since Watson has taken over, but SEA is 6th in DVOA against TEs. They have given up back-to-back receiving lines of 6-60-1 and 4-98-0 to Evan Engram and Tyler Higbee respectively, however, so they very well could be weakening. In general, I really think that a rookie QB who was already seeing an unreasonably high TD rate will struggle mightily going into SEA here.

Miller continues to see 14-19 carries per game, but he has only gone over 4 YPC in one game this year. Just to confirm, Foreman has achieved 4.9 YPC or greater in each of his last 2 games. While SEA does rank 23rd against the run in general, they are tops against receiving backs, and have tightened things up in general since Week 3 as no RB has gone over 11 points on them since then. To be fair, in 2 out of these 3 games, they have faced the Giants and the Colts.

Between the mess that is their RB situation and how often SEA throws in the RZ, I don’t feel like any RB here has upside. SEA also has a bottom-10 unit in Football Outsider’s adjusted line yards metric as they are only creating 3.70 yards per carry.

HOU ranks 7th against the pass, but I feel like some of this is smoke and mirrors as they have faced the Browns, the Jags, Andy Dalton in one of his “bad” games, and Mariota in a game where he only threw 10 passes. If we look in the games against KC and Tom Brady, however, the Texans have given up 5 separate receiving lines of 16.8+ points.

I’m not sure how HOU will align their CBs as SEA runs a lot of routes with 2+ guys coming out of the slot positions (Baldwin lines up there 70% of the time and Lockett is there another 59%). Whoever lines up against their main slot man, Kareem Jackson, will find themselves in an ideal position as Jackson grades out as the 84th-best CB. I’m not interested in Richardson here as he has 3 or fewer targets in 2 out of his last 3 games, and you are hoping that he breaks a long TD. I’m a little more interested in Lockett, however, as he has averaged a little over 5 targets per game over this same 3 game period and we have seen him put up 25+ point games last year. Unfortunately, he seems somewhat capped this year as he hasn’t gone over 70 yards once even though they have faced a couple of very bad pass Ds. Baldwin seems like the play among the WRs as he has averaged 10 targets per game over his last two and has that sweet, sweet match-up I already hit on. Jimmy Graham is also in play here as, even though HOU ranks 3rd against TEs, Kelce and Gronk put up 17.8 and 22.9 respectively on them. Graham is also seeing 7.75 targets per game over his last 4 – this is skewed a little high by an 11-target outlier – and he has seen 8 targets in the RZ over this same period. As I mentioned earlier, while a late TD did salvage his day last week, he almost had a completely massive line last week due to a couple of dropped passes. He has had a lot of those this year, however, so I’m not sure when the problem will get fixed.

DAL (24.75) @ WAS (22.75)

Smart money is on WAS here as they have received only 28% of the bets, but the line has swung their way by 0.5 points.

Norman resumed practicing this week, and it seems like he will return for this one, which is a huge downgrade for Dez. Both of these teams grade out very poorly against TEs as WAS ranks a lowly 28th in DVOA, and they have been abused week in and week out so far:

Week Recs Rec

Yards

Rec TDs DK Points
Zach Ertz 7 5 89 1 19.9
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

 

If this one stays close, Witten will make an excellent option, but if DAL goes up big, he might see very limited action (e.g. he only saw 4 targets in last week’s blowout of SF). In general, WAS is soft across the middle, but Beasley has seen his targets swing between 1 and 6 over the previous 4 weeks, so I don’t think I can go there.

WAS grades out as a tough 10th in DVOA against the run, but Hyde, Hunt, and Gurley all put up 19+ point days on them (Hunt is the only one to go over 100 yards on the ground on the year though). Zeke is going to be wildly popular here after his 3 TD outburst last week and the general population projects game script to be in Dallas’s favor, but that smart money has me worried. Regardless, I definitely cannot recommend a full fade here as he has put up at least 17.2 points in each of his last 4 and only has one game below that all year.

Gruden will ride the hot hand between Pryor and Doctson at the “X” receiver position, which is very frustrating from a fantasy perspective. Pryor has looked bad for most of this year, and Doctson is a huge target, but Cousins now seems focused on Reed in the RZ (he took over in the second half last week). Over the past two weeks, they have made a concerted effort to get Crowder more involved as he has seen 5.5 targets per game over this period, but this might be the week that we actually see him put up some points. Kupp, Fitz, and Sanders have all already abused Dallas out of the slot position so far this year as each has put up 17+ points. I definitely don’t recommend going too overboard here, but with his ownership falling at sub 2%, you don’t need much to go over the field. Getting back to Reed, while DAL does rank 31st in DVOA against TEs, they haven’t given up a single 10+ point game so far to the position. After diving into this a little further, I think that this is another case where they have just gotten lucky due to the quality of their opponents and their opponent’s play calling. We have Shanahan targeting Kittle only once last week, then we have the 3 Packers TEs putting up a combined 5-93-0 line on them, which is then followed by the string of the Rams, Cards, Broncos, and Giants who all feature either suspect QB play or light TE involvement. Reed finally looks healthy and turned 10 targets into a huge 8-64-2 line last week, so I think that we have a very good chance to see what happens when a heavily involved TE with a good QB goes up against them here. Just as a quick warning though, Reed will be heavily owned.

Chris Thompson has averaged 16.6 yards after the catch per reception and, per Mr. Barrett, this is the best among all players over the last decade. This just screams regression as does his 5 TDs on very limited touches. DAL does rank a lowly 31st against the run, but they immediately tightened things up when Sean Lee came back last week and they held Hyde to 68 rushing yards and an overall 12.8 point day (Hyde did still average 4.9 YPC though, so it’s not like all of their woes were cured). It’s hard for me to really love any WAS RB here.

PIT (24) @ DET (21.5)

Tomlin said that “he will deal with the [Bryant] situation,” and it sounds like he is going to bench him for this game. Bryant’s benching doesn’t really impact us at all since he was seeing very light involvement beforehand and there isn’t a huge redistribution of targets that is about to occur. JuJu was in the concussion protocol, but has now cleared it and is good to go for this week. I’m very curious about whether JuJu will continue to line up with the slot with Bryant out or if they will move him outside. At this point, I’m going to assume that he stays in the slot as he has run 123 pass routes from there from Week 3 onwards compared to 34 on the outside. This unfortunately puts him in a very tough match-up against Quandre Diggs, who has really turned it around this year. While I normally don’t actively seek to roster a WR going up against Slay, Brown is just ridiculous and should have no problems creating separation. He will also see his normal double-digit workload here and I won’t be surprised if he puts up something like 8-100-1 by the end of the day. Fun fact – AB is the only player to see over 30% of the team’s targets over the past 6 weeks.

DET currently ranks 8th in DVOA against the run and 3rd against receiving backs, but I feel like these numbers aren’t quite accurate again due to what has happened in their games. DJ and Cook both got injured mid-game, and they were both at 13.4 or more points when that occurred, so I feel like they both could have easily topped 20 points if they had stayed in. CMC put up over 14 points on them just through the air, and Bell can certainly match that. Freeman and Ingram both had 100+ yard days and put up 25.8 and 34.0 points on them respectively. Sure, the Lions held the Giants to minimal rushing points, but we all know that the rushing game for the NYG is terrible. I think Bell has the highest ceiling out of any back this week – I know I’m not really going out on a limb with this call – and is my favorite pricey option, but I can’t roster him on the main slate in DK. Great, grand, wonderful.

Tate was originally supposed to miss this one as his injury should have kept him sidelined for several weeks. It seems like the bye week did him a lot of good and he will try and suit up. I’m not going to roster him as I think it’s going to limit him here, but this will hopefully take some of the attention away from the outside. Golladay had a setback, so he will miss this one, which will force TJ Jones into another start here. I’m more interested in my man MJ on the other side. We have seen his usage rise recently, which culminated in a 14-target game last week. While I’m definitely not projecting that many for him here, I won’t be surprised by 8-10 in a negative game script, and I think he has a good shot at putting up over 20 points. I am worried about the PIT pass rush here as the strongest part of their line will face off against the weakest part of Detroit’s, so we might end up seeing a lot of short dump-offs for Stafford. In general, while PIT does rank 2nd in DVOA against the pass, like I mentioned last week, I just feel like they haven’t actually been tested all that much.

The Lions’ backfield continues to be a mess and their line has graded out as dead last in the league per FO with only 3.0 adjusted line yards per carry. Needless to say, I’m staying away.

Quick Hits for Bye Teams

ARI – Carson Palmer will miss around 4-8 weeks with a fractured arm (the large range is due to Carson thinking he can return earlier than anticipated, while 6-8 weeks is a more reasonable estimate from a medical perspective).

TEN – Murray now has a bruised shoulder as well as a balky hamstring, so this bye week should do him a world of good. Walker also avoided a serious injury, but bone bruises can still be fairly serious, so we will touch base on him later.

JAX – The Jags just traded for Dareus to help shore up their run D. This D is so, so scary.


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