Week 11 2017
Mike Beers and Scott Barrett continue to do excellent work:
Graham Barfield also put together this excellent reference guide for team’s tendencies:
TEN (18.5) @ PIT (25.5)
Sharp money is on the under here as that has received only 31% of the bets, and yet the total has dropped by 1.5 points.
The Titans are a pretty bad 24th against the pass, and we have seen almost every WR1 abuse them all year as Green, Hopkins, and Baldwin have all gone over 100 yards and had 1 TD. AB also has a 33% market share on the year. Nice. He did see only 7 targets last week, however, but I’m going to count this as an outlier as the Colts have been surprisingly good against WR1s and the last time he didn’t see double-digit targets was Week 4. Secondary receivers have also done pretty well against the Titans, but I won’t be surprised if we see JuJu’s ownership match or exceed AB’s due to the discount in price and how he has played recently. While I expected JuJu to move back inside with the return of Bryant last week, he ended up running 17 routes from both the outside and slot positions.
TEN has been surprisingly stout against the run as only Miller has put up over 20 points on them – Buck Allen came very close with 19.5 – and they rank 14th in DVOA. They haven’t faced many great running teams though, and Bell will get his normal monstrous workload as the fewest carries he has seen over the last 4 is 25. He has seen at least 3 targets in each of these as well, so he continues to be one of the safest RBs in the game. Furthermore, the strongest part of his line, the right side, goes up against the weakest part of the Titans’ line, so I’m expecting him to bounce out that way a lot.
PIT has been dominant against the run and they rank 4th in DVOA. While Henry and Murray both saw double-digit carries last game, they continue to cap each other’s upside, and there are far better options on the Thurs-Mon slate, especially due to the projected negative game script.
I just talked about how much improved Joe Haden was last week and then he goes down with a fractured fibula and he will miss the next several games – get better soon, Joe! PIT is currently ranked 5th in DVOA against the pass, but Haden played a large part in this and I’m dubious that his back-up can step right in and pick up the slack. This especially seems true since Chester Rogers managed to put up a line of 6-104-1 last week, and he ran most of his routes on the outside. Thus, this does open up opportunities for Mariota though and he should have to throw it a lot to keep up regardless. As promised Davis got more snaps last week, and he ended with 10 targets on the day. He only parlayed this into 4-48-0, but I like him a lot here. He clearly seems to riff with Mariota as he now has 10 targets in 2 out of their 3 full games together and not having a monster day last week should keep his ownership down. Matthews also continues to be heavily involved and he should see his normal 6-7 targets here. He will also get Haden’s replacement for the majority of the day. While I don’t like him as much with Davis back, I certainly think he is viable if you are mass entering. Decker gets the toughest match-up in the slot against Hilton, and he has been bad for most of the year anyway, so I’m steering well clear. PIT also ranks #1 against TEs and give up 3 points fewer than a team’s average to the position, so I don’t really love Delanie here.
BAL (20) @ GB (18)
I have to give Hundley credit as he did look better last week. It would have been hard to look worse, however, after his dismal previous outing. Unfortunately for him, the Ravens are #3 against the pass, and Jimmy Smith is as lockdown as it comes at CB. Smith does play sides, however, and will see equal parts Adams and Nelson. Unfortunately for them (and Hundley), Humphrey has been pretty good on the other side as well. In Hundley’s 3 starts under center, Jordy is seeing 5 targets/game and Cobb clocks in at a hair over 4 while Adams has seen nearly 8 per game. I’m steering clear of all of them as Hundley’s tendencies don’t match up well against Baltimore’s strengths.
Aaron Jones will miss the next several weeks with an MCL sprain, and TyMont left Sunday’s game with a rib injury (it makes sense to me that this would be an aggravation of his earlier injury). As of Friday, Montgomery has already been ruled out, so Williams will have this backfield to himself. While BAL ranks a much worse 19th against the run, I don’t see myself rostering Williams here mostly due to how unimpressive he has looked so far. It also doesn’t help that they will find themselves in limited scoring situations.
Danny Woodhead plans to return for this one, but this is not official yet, so keep your ear to the ground. This is fairly intriguing as Woodhead originally looked like he would play a large part in this offense over the summer and, if he will play a full complement of snaps, could return immediate value in PPR formats. Ravens’ OC Marty Mornhinweg has already confirmed that Collins will remain the lead back, but I still assume Woodhead will spell him on passing downs. Unfortunately for them, LT Ronnie Stanley is listed as Doubtful for this one and probably won’t play. As I previously mentioned, he is the #2 run-blocking tackle on the year, so this is not good news for them and GB is stronger against the run anyway (8th in DVOA).
SS Morgan Burnett has already been ruled out for this one, and this will be a big hit to their already incredibly weak secondary as Burnett is the #15 safety on the year. His replacement, Marwin Evans, has graded out pretty poorly. As I just alluded to, GB was already only 23rd against the pass and we have seen both outside and slot receivers destroy them repeatedly throughout the year. Right before their bye, we also saw the Ravens talk about how they want to take more shots down the field, so they had all of their bye to draw up some plays and this seems like an ideal match-up to run them in. Even in this great match-up, I’m going to ignore Perriman as he grades out dead last among all WRs. He did see a season-high 7 targets right before their bye, but with how bad he has been, I’m going to treat this as an outlier rather than them trying to get him more involved. Mike Wallace will get the 95th-ranked House on the other side, and he should be able to repeatedly beat him here. Maclin somehow gets an even better match-up against Randall in the slot as Randall grades out as the 110th-ranked CB. Here are some notable lines that slot receivers have put up on GB so far this year:
|Rec TDs||DK Points|
We have also seen Maclin become more involved since he came back from injury and he had a season-high 9 targets in their week before the bye and has been targeted more consistently than Wallace. The biggest concern with the passing game here is that the winds might slightly affect the deep passing game, so monitor the weather reports. Thus, while I like both Maclin and Wallace, I think that I give the slight edge to Maclin if the weather reports hold.
ARI (17.75) @ HOU (20.25)
Drew Stanton went down with a knee sprain against Seattle, so Blaine Gabber twill get the start here. While Rotoworld speculated that he is probably better than Stanton after a decent preseason, I’m not sure if I buy that since he wasn’t able to displace Stanton as the QB2 in Arizona. Regardless, we at least need to consider him here as the Texans are allowing almost 4 points above average to opposing QBs and have let every QB who has played the full game against them other than Kevin Hogan since Week 2 to put up at least 23.5 points. Correspondingly, we have seen crooked lines to outside WRs and TEs all year. Quick question, what do Woods, Hilton, Richardson, Hogan, and Cooks all have in common? They have all scored 2 TDs in a single game against the Texans so far this year. So let’s take a look at the Cardinals’ WRs as well. After playing the most snaps out of any game on the year, John Brown got downgraded from a limited practice on Wednesday to no practice on Thursday. This does not bode well for his availability. If he cannot go, I expect JJ Nelson will replace him, but will get Houston’s best corner, Joseph. Fitzgerald just got a new contract this past week, so I assume that he will be extra motivated (I don’t normally buy that kind of story line, but with someone like Fitz I do). This week he gets a dream match-up against Kareem Jackson, the 103rd-ranked CB. I have no idea what kind of chemistry Gabbert will have with him, but I assume he will check down often and Fitz is a huge part of their game plan regardless. Jaron Brown gets an even better match-up against the 113th-ranked Kevin Johnson. There are a total of 117 ranked CBs. My concern with Jaron is his usage. I’m not sure if this is just a fluke across his last 5 games or what, but in their 2 wins during this span, Brown has seen 1 target in each. In their 3 losses he has seen 5-6 in each. If Vegas is to be trusted, the Cardinals should trail in this one, so hypothetically this will be another 5-6 target game. I think he makes for a good dart throw in general, but do not go too heavy on him.
HOU is a much stronger 6th against the run, and Arizona is bottom-10 in adjusted line yards. We know that they want to feed AP here, but I just can’t go there especially at $6000.
Will Fuller will miss this one with cracked ribs, and Bill O’Brien has already called for Ellington to get the ball more moving forward. Ellington has also seen 8 targets in back-to-back games, so it seems like Savage likes targeting him to begin with, and he is dirt cheap. Shout-out to Dan on the Ellington call here as he actually recommended him before O’Brien had this press conference. We also know that the way to attack ARI is through their secondary receivers and TEs as Peterson will shadow Hopkins:
|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|
|Kenny Golladay||Outside WR2||1||0||0||0||4||69||2||22.9|
The other player to look at here is Fied. While I liked him last week, he only returned an uninspiring 2-10-0 line against the Rams. He did see 6 targets, however, and the Cardinals are weaker against TEs than the Rams – 13th versus 4th. A lot of people are talking up Ellington here, but Fied is going overlooked, so he makes for an excellent pivot.
Arizona is also stronger against the run, 9th in DVOA, but they have given up 20+ point games to Hyde and Gurley in 2 out of their last 3. While Miller does only cost $5000 in what projects to be a positive game script for him, he has only seen 21 total carries combined over his last 2 games and none of these have come within the RZ. While he has out-targeted Foreman 5-1 over this same stretch, this usage worries me a lot against a strong run D.
TB (21.75) @ MIA (20.75)
Here we have two very bad pass defenses going at it as TB ranks 28th in DVOA and Miami ranks 31st. Miami has given up 2+ passing TDs in 3 out of their last 4 and just seem to be imploding, and TB has allowed an opponent’s receiver to score at least 15 points in every game other than 1 this year. Even with Cutler and FitzMagic at the helms, I won’t be surprised if we see some scoring in this one. I also think that TB HC Dirk Koetter is particularly motivated to put up a lot of points here as there is talk that he might get fired due to their lackluster performances recently.
Surprisingly, Damien Williams out-snapped Drake 32-25 this past week, even though I believe Drake has looked far more explosive. Either way, this continues to be a messy timeshare and I don’t think either can really take advantage of the Bucs on limited touches now that TB’s main run defenders are back form injury.
Landry continues to be Cutler’s favorite target with a 29% market share, and this is definitely not what I expected coming into the year. He will go up against Hargreave’s replacement in the slot as Vernon will miss this one with a hamstring injury. Stills hurt his back on Thursday and then missed Friday’s practice because of it as well, so I doubt he will play this week. He would have the toughest match-up against Grimes anyway, so I will ignore him regardless. Parker is in a phenomenal spot here. He will go up against the 106th-ranked Ryan Smith for most of his day and he is averaging 8.5 targets per game over his last two. TB has also looked weaker against outside WRs all year and that is where we have seen most of the big lines come from. He will probably also be extra motivated after his coach said that he isn’t playing with the same fire that he did in training camp. Personally, I think that this is kind of bullshit as he has played over 50% of his snaps against a top-25 CB this year, and has still held his own fairly well. In this cupcake match-up, he has the potential to put up a massive line. Miami also leads the league in RZ passing rate as they do it at 73.9% of the time, so you could even think about Julius Thomas here as he has gotten more involved with the offense recently (13 targets over his previous 2 games combined). I personally prefer Kroft at the same price point, so I doubt I will end up with shares though.
On the other side of the ball, we have Evans and D-Jax getting the soft outside, with D-Jax mainly lining up across from the 75th-graded Tankersley (fits right in with Miami tanking the season, amirite?) and Evans gets literally last in the league, Xavien Howard. We saw D-Jax get 10 targets last week with Evans out, but I have a feeling that they are just going to feed Evans this week after his return from his one-game suspension and with this soft matchup. Evans also has an aDoT almost 5 yards closer than D-Jax – 14.4 versus 19.2 – so I think that the shorter game plays more to Fitzpatrick’s abilities.
While Miami does rank a slightly stronger 21st against the run, they also seem to be collapsing in that regard as they have given up either 100 rushing yards or 2 TDs to 4 backs over the previous 3 weeks. This is insane. After Martin’s absurd 8 carry outlier, he went right back to 20 carries last week. After what he did to my lines against the Saints, I feel like he owes me money, so I will probably end up playing him again in this great spot at only $4500. He should also see pretty low ownership, so I’m definitely hoping for a big game finally.
WAS (22) @ NO (29.5)
Kelley is done for the season now, so that turns the reigns over to Thompson and the so far inefficient Perine. Thompson looks like an interesting option in particular due to the projected negative game script and relative weakness we have seen NO show against receiving backs earlier in the year (I’m particularly looking at the 9-101-0 and combined 11-126-1 by CMC and White/Burkhead respectively). Kenny Vaccaro didn’t practice on Thursday and, while he normally plays slot corner, his absence will actually impact the run more than the pass as he is far better against the run than he is in coverage. Thus, Thompson seems like a decent option, but Labs pegs him at the relatively chalky 17-20% range and I just like some of the cheaper options better. Feel free to sprinkle him in as you see fit though.
Washington’s pass catching corps is starting to look pretty thin. Grant is questionable with a concussion, and both Reed and Pryor have already been ruled out. This pretty much ensures that both Crowder and Davis will see another game with high volume, but the problem is that NO is 2nd in DVOA against TEs. I had the same concerns when they played SEA, who is 8th, but he put up 6-72-0 in that one on 9 targets, so he’s in play here as well. Now back to Crowder. Over his past two, he has seen 11 and 13 targets, and NO is most vulnerable to slot receivers. He’s going to be chalky at $4300, but there is no way that you can completely avoid exposure here based on his volume, project game script, and where the Saints are vulnerable.
As Graham Barfield noted, Michael Thomas has seen 31% of the Saints target share since their Week 5 bye, which is a hefty number. Also, Norman exclusively plays on the right side, so Thomas will miss him for at least 70% of his day, and this obviously could be higher if Payton actively schemes him away. Thomas also continues to be the model of consistency as he has seen double-digit targets in 3 out of his last 4 and has put up at least 14.5 in each of these. While we did finally see him put up a 100+ yard game last week, his lack of RZ usage remains a concern as he hasn’t scored since Week 4 and has only seen 1 RZ target over his last 5. Ginn’s usage varies wildly as he has seen anywhere between 1 and 7 targets over his last 4, so I would proceed with caution there. Due to the Saints switching to such a run-heavy game plan, I’m not considering any other options.
Kamara and Ingram just continue to ball out, and NO has by far the best adjusted line yards with 5.37. Both will be popular here. Over his last 5, Ingram has gone over 19 points 4 times and has had at least 16 carries in each, but has only 1 target over his last 2. I feel like this might just be due to how convincing their wins were in their last 2 though. This might also explain Kamara’s usage as he now has back-to-back games with double-digit carries and continues to see a ton of targets as well. With Ingram’s 3 TDs last week probably making him the more popular pick this week, I think I prefer Kamara here, but both are solid options in what should be another very positive game script. Due to their dominance, you should be able to get Brees at an ownership discount here, so I like the idea of stacking Brees with Kamara or even going Brees-Kamara-Thomas.
JAX (22.25) @ CLE (14.75)
This is setting up to be the perfect storm for Westbrook:
- He should be fully healthy this week as the team hasn’t pushed his return
- Allen Hurns will probably miss this one
- Cleveland’s pass D is woeful, especially across the middle (i.e. where Westbrook will play if he replaces Hurns here)
- Again assuming that Westbrook steps into Hurns role, that should mean that his aDoT will be slightly lower than Lee (Hurns averages 11 versus Lee’s 12.4), and we are looking for a shorter aDoT in this game due to the wind. The biggest concern with the wind is that it might not matter what a receiver’s aDoT is as it might be strong enough to keep the passing attempts to a bare minimum regardless.
- In last week’s game, JAX suddenly decided to pass more and abandon the run game
As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, he absolutely destroyed everyone he went up against in the preseason. While this obviously doesn’t guarantee success since you spend part of your time against people who will be cut and all of your time against vanilla schemes, it was very promising to see.
Browns continue to be complete shit against TEs and with the wind speeds, Lewis’s very short aDoT could be the answer here:
|Week||Recs||Rec Yards||Rec TDs||DK Points|
To get back to point 5 about Westbrook from above, I’m not sure why they did this, but I won’t be surprised if the issue is Fournette’s ankle. He was limited in practice last week, and I’m thinking that the pass-heavy game script was to try and mask this. He is still limited in practice this week and then got downgraded to out on Friday, so at this point I’m not even sure that he will play here. If he does play, that makes this backfield even uglier than normal, and if he doesn’t, I really don’t want to take Yeldon against the #2 run defense. The only possible way I do end up here is if there will be at least an inch of accumulation on the field as snow greatly favors the offense.
The Browns activated Corey Coleman and Hue Jackson has already stated that he can play a full complement of snaps. No way do I take him or any other receiving option against the Jags here. While I normally don’t like playing a defense on the road, it simply doesn’t matter with Jacksonville and they are the top defensive option on the week. Not only has Cleveland already given up 27 sacks on the year, Kizer has fumbled twice and thrown for 12 INTs to 4 TDs. Those 12 INTs in an incomplete complement of games would still put him top-3 in the league, and Bouye and Ramsey alone have combined for more INTs than Kizer has TDs.
While Crowell has finally started to look better, the Jags are pretty dominant against the run at this point as well. Johnson continues to see a lot of targets, so he might have an ok fantasy day from a volume perspective, but you won’t regret not rostering him. I certainly won’t touch either of them.
DET (22) @ CHI (19)
Sharp money has also hammered the under on this game as that’s where 45% of the bets are while the total has fallen by a massive 3 points. I understand this one as this should be a fairly slow-paced game since the Bears rank 30th in pace and the Lions are only at 25th (I don’t have the exact splits, but they also run a hurry-up offense much more frequently at home, which clearly doesn’t help them here). Wind will probably also impact the deep passing game.
Outside of Ingram in Week 6, no other back has put up over 16.5 points on the Lions since Week 3. While Howard should see another heavy workload – last week’s 15 carries were his fewest since Week 1 – I’m not that excited for him here. Sure, this is a divisional game, and anything can happen, but we have also seen his passing involvement dwindle as he has gone over 1 target only once in his last 5.
The Lions have also been super solid against the pass recently as the only big game against them over their last 4 came because of a 90-something yard broken play TD to JuJu. I have no faith that Trubisky can do anything here and his receivers are wildly outclassed by the Lions’ secondary.
While the winds remain a concern, the Bears have been weakest against outside WRs all year, which should mean that MJ has another great opportunity here. I’m really not sure what happened last week, but he only saw 2 targets after reaching double-digits in each of his last 3 before that. He definitely burned a lot of people there, so you can get him at an ownership discount this week. Tate continues to be the model of consistency as he has put up at least 86 yards and 6 catches in each of his last 4. He also gets “Cre’Von LeBlanc” out of the slot, and he does not grade out well. I don’t know who the guy is as he only started seeing meaningful snaps as of Week 8 – he literally saw 5 snaps the rest of the year before that – and the RotoWorld blurb on him is from Nov 2016. Yeah…
While Abdullah grades out pretty well in the Labs model this week and the model is particularly accurate in regards to RBs, I’m not buying it here. We saw his usage dip, predictably, after he fumbled twice two games ago. I’m also fairly certain that he has never had a 20-point game in his career and can assure you that he hasn’t ever gone over 100 rushing yards, so his upside seems nonexistent to me. I’m wildly uninterested in the other running components here as well.
LAR (21.5) @ MIN (24)
Unlike the previous game, this one should see a ton of plays as the Rams are 1st in the NFL and the Vikings are 3rd. Surprisingly, at least to me, sharp money has the under on this game as that has received only 32% of the bets and has forced the line down by 0.5. I don’t think I trust the sharp money here, which is probably famous last words.
There are rumors that Minnesota thought about benching Keenum for Bridgewater here, but Mike Zimmer confirmed that Keenum will start. Overall, it sounds like he has a very short leash out there after his couple of picks against WAS last week, so if anything bad happens here, don’t be surprised if they turn to Teddy mid-game. Quite honestly, with how the Vikings have played, I don’t think that this type of talk is great for the team as it is probably distracting and Keenum has been fine for the most part. Either way, Diggs gets easily the best match-up here against the 86th-ranked Trumaine Johnson, but has seen his target share drop tremendously with the rise of Thielen (he has only seen 5.5 targets/game over his last two and was injured the 2 before that). Over this same 4 game period, Thielen has double-digit targets in each and has put up 18.6 or more points in 3 of them. This week, you get Diggs at a discount, so I’ll just roll the dice with him, but I understand why you might prefer to take potentially double the volume at only $500 more.
While the Rams are weaker against the run, 15th in general and 16th against receiving backs, we have seen them bottle up the Texans, Giants, and Cardinals in back-to-back-to-back weeks. Obviously, these are not stellar teams, but the Vikings rank only 20th in adjusted line yards, so I do have some concern here. McKinnon has definitely flashed at times this year, but Murray seems to have completely taken over the 1A position here and McKinnon has seen 3 or fewer targets in 2 of his last 3. Murray is by far my preferred option here as he has seen 15 or more carries in each of his last 4 with heavy involvement in the RZ, but only costs $4000. As I mentioned previously, we should see further positive regression for him as he only has 1 RZ rushing TD on the year so far on 17 carries (t-13th most).
No WR or TE has gone over the 20-point mark on the Vikings all season, which is kind of amazing, but they also have recently faced the Browns, Ravens, Bears, Rodgers-less Packers for most of the day, and Cousins down a couple of o-linemen and Reed. This week, they should get a much tougher test against Goff – I never thought I would write those words coming into the season – who has thrown for over 300 yards and 3 TDs in each of his last two games. These were against the Texans and Giants, however, so not exactly the toughest of matchups. While I’m not predicting another massive game here, I also don’t think he will do as poorly as a lot of people think he will. The first problem that we come to when looking at the match-ups is Rhodes and who he will be on. For all intents and purposes, Woods has been the Rams’ WR1, so it makes sense to me that Rhodes would shadow him. On the other hand, Watkins has the superior physical talents, so I won’t be surprised if they end up sticking Rhodes on him. Either way, feel free to throw a dart here, but I will probably stay away unless we get clarity around which outside receiver Rhodes is on. While Newman does grade out well from the slot, the Vikings do seem most vulnerable across the middle, and Kupp is still averaging over 7 targets a game over his past 3. I still don’t know what his upside truly is (it’s probably around 25 points, but that is very unlikely to come to fruition), but I can see a path to 18 points here, which would 4x him.
MIN is even tougher against the run as they rank 5th in DVOA, and only Crowell (surprise) has gone for over 20 points on them. Again, the teams that they have faced are not strong, and the Rams do rank 4th in the league with 4.63 adjusted line yards. While Gurley has had 3 straight games of 19.5+ points, he is doing this on efficiency and heavy involvement in the passing game as he has seen 16 or fewer carries in each of his last two. Like I mentioned though, he has seen 18 targets over his past 3 and is still getting a lot of work in the RZ, and he has gone below 16 points only once on the year, so he has a great chance to at least 2x his salary here. He has also fared well against other strong run D’s as he put up 28.4 and 19.6 on the Cardinals and Texans respectively (9th and 6th in DVOA). Gurley should also see much lower ownership than the other high-end backs here.
KC (28) @ NYG (17.5)
Travis Kelce currently holds a 24% market share and he goes up one of the worst TE defenses in football:
|Rec TDs||DK Points|
He has also gone over 20 points 4 times already this year and has had 100+ yard games on 3 occasions. I expect we will be able to add 1 to both of these after this weekend. He is also going to be incredibly chalky, but I’m absolutely going to have exposure to him. There was also talk about the Giants suspending Jenkins again, so feel free to fire up Hill in that case as well. Even if they don’t, I won’t be surprised to see Reid trying to get the ball into Hill’s hands more as we saw his usage dip quite a bit before their bye.
Keep an eye on Damon Harrison’s health here as he is PFF’s #1 overall interior run defender, so if he cannot go, this will obviously be huge for Hunt. As Scott Barret noted, Hunt’s usage is also hugely dependent upon whether KC is leading big or not as he has seen 21.2 carries/game where they won by 8+ points and 12.3 carries/game in the other 4. KC should easily win by 8+ here. We have also seen him become slightly less effective as the year has gone on, so I think that the bye week will have done him some good. We also know that Andy Reid is historically good after a bye week, so I’m not expecting that to change now. He will also be chalky, unfortunately, so I’m going to have a few KC team stacks here.
I’m of two minds about Shepard here. On the other hand, surprisingly, KC has been relatively strong against the area that he is most effective in (short and intermediate routes in the middle). Scott Barrett and Mike Beers put together another excellent graphic for this:
We also need to pay close attention to Shepard’s status here as he got added to the injury report on Saturday with an illness. It’s hard to argue with the volume Shepard has seen as Eli targeted him 22 times over his last 2, but he will see a lot of ownership here, and I will probably go underweight. Scott Barrett also dived into Evan Engram here and found more surprises. KC gives up a ton of points when TEs line up in the slot, but the fewest when they are in-line. Engram runs the fewest routes from the slot out of any TE. Someone will have to get targets here though, and Engram has already seen at least 9 in each of his last 3, so fire him up especially if Shepard is out.
There are better options out there than the Giants backs.
BUF (17.75) @ LAC (23.75)
Welp, the Bills have just tossed in the towel on the season as they just benched Taylor for rookie Nathan Peterman. While I don’t really hate the move long-term just so that they can see what they have in him, I still feel like they had a shot at getting the second wildcard spot this year. Also, while Tyrod did look terrible this past week (like 9/18 for 56 yards terrible), the Saints defense has been very strong, and the Bills have set him up for failure all year. Welcome to the week of the Chargers being the chalk D. Bosa and Engram should have a field day with a rookie QB getting his first full start and with starting LT Cordy Glenn out.
The Chargers are 22nd against the run, but they haven’t given up a big game since Week 3 to Kareem Hunt, and not having a mobile QB (or the starting LT) is going to hurt Shady here. I assume someone will get some garbage time points here, but I’m not going to try and guess on that.
On the other side of the ball, Phillip Rivers was in the concussion protocol, but practiced in full on Thursday and then got cleared on Friday. He has looked pretty bad all year and goes up against a good Bills’ secondary here. Allen gets the easiest match-up in the slot, but his usage has taken a nosedive since Mike Williams returned and he hasn’t seen a RZ target in either of the last 2 games. Hunter Henry has also seen a precipitous dive in his usage as he has only 2 targets in each of his last two games. In the 3 games that they won, they targeted him more heavily and it worked out. It is just horribly coaching that they refuse to utilize him.
Ekeler looked excellent last week as he had two receiving TDs, but he had a very costly fumble at the end of the game. I can’t imagine that he will see much work here as he will probably be punished for the fumble, so I’m expecting Gordon to get heavy usage. At this point, Buffalo only ranks 31st against the run, and have given up the following recently:
|Week||Rushes||Rush Yards||Rush TDs||Recs||Rec
|Rec TDs||DK Points|
NE (31) @ OAK (23.5)
Remember, this game will be in Mexico City, so it isn’t a true home game for Oakland.
Gareon Conly just placed on the IR, and I hope that he can come back next year as he showed a couple of flashes earlier in the year. Amerson hasn’t practiced so far this week with his foot injury and is officially Doubtful, so between the two of them, the Raiders are looking very thin at CB. They already were pretty awful as they rank dead last in DVOA and just gave up over 300 yards to Jay Cutler in their last game, so Tom Brady should absolutely demolish them here. While Hogan won’t play again this week, this opens up a massive opportunity for Cooks who saw season highs in target share (30%) and air yards (45%) last week. Gronk’s last game was also very tilting for me after they ruled his TD as not a touchdown, which stopped me from advancing on Draft. Either way, he is in another excellent spot here as Oakland is also very bad against TEs, 30th in DVOA, and just gave up a 6-84-1 line to Julius Thomas. Use all of them and Brady extensively here.
As Warren Sharp pointed out, the Raiders have faced by far the weakest string of RB-pass offenses since Week 4. Over this same period, the Pats have faced the hardest schedule and yet still rank 3rd-best in the NFL. This points to the Pats receiving backs burning down the Oakland defense in Mexico this weekend. One area of concern in general is that David Andrews, the #2 C overall, will miss this one for the Pats, which will obviously be a blow in both regards to pass and run protection. I still like both Burkhead and Lewis here and you can’t beat their prices. I will probably have a line or two with both of them as, while it is sub-optimal, they could both put up 4x their salaries and you have a lot left over to make a killer rest of your team.
Raiders RT Marshall Newhouse might miss this one with a hip injury. Labs also noted that we have seen the Raiders line Cooper up in the slot much more over the previous 3 games, and he has seen 5.66 more targets per game over this period than Crabtree has. The Pats have also given up the 2nd-most pass plays of 15+ yards on the year.
|Rec TDs||DK Points|
Both big bodies across the middle and outside fast guys have torched NE repeatedly, so go ahead and roll out Cooper and/or Cook here. Crabtree is also fine, but I have him 3rd on this list based on ownership and price. Carr is also a fine option to stack with here.
While NE is also very bad against the run, 29th in DVOA, I hate this RBBC and it is even easier to pass on them, so I’ll probably ignore everyone here.
CIN (17.75) @ DEN (20.25)
Here is another place where sharp money is on the under as 46% of the bets has driven the total down by 2 points. Both defenses are in play as neither QB is all that good.
An interesting play here is Tyler Kroft as we have seen TEs victimize the Broncos repeatedly this year (Gronk’s line from last week should have an additional TD catch as well):
|Rec TDs||DK Points|
In regards to their other WRs, I fully expect John Ross to be benched for this one as he gave up on a route last week and Marvin Lewis is not happy with him. If he does play, I’ll be surprised if he gets a target. You could take AJG, but the Denver d-line is going to get pressure on Dalton all day and I expect Bad Andy to show up here.
On the other side of the ball, Sanders gets the 102nd-ranked Dre Kirkpatrick and I always recommend playing Sanders. Thomas will get the much tougher match-up of William Jackson on the other side, but we know that Osweiler has a tendency to look towards Demaryius regardless. I’m going to cross my fingers and ignore him/hope that Sanders does more.
CIN is stronger against the run, 11th in DVOA, and they have only given up one 100-yard game on the season to this point. CJA barely out-touched Booker 11 to 9, and Charles clocked in with another 8 touches, so this backfield is a mess. I’ll probably avoid everyone here as well.
PHI (26.75) @ DAL (21.25)
As I mentioned last week, Sean Lee is a huge boost to the Dallas run D. Unfortunately for them, they do not have him this week. John Daigle actually calculated out YPC with and without him, and the split is even more drastic than I thought – 3.5 with and 5.3 without – which translates into 80.3 rushing yards per game with Lee and a whopping 153.3 without him. Ajayi has had the bye week to completely learn the playbook and the Eagles’ OC is already talking about how he will have an expanded workload here. The Eagles are also averaging the second-most runs per game with 31.4. Ajayi also grades out very well per PFF and has some great advanced metrics from them as he ranks 7th on the year in missed tackled forced/attempt and 7th in yards after contact/attempt. Philly also grades out 3rd in run-blocking per PFF, but are only 18th with 3.93 adjusted line yards per FO. Either way, I’m excited for what Ajayi can do here and will absolutely have exposure to him here.
The Eagles will also get Zach Ertz back this week and was taken off of the final injury report on Friday. If you played the Thurs-Mon slate, I definitely recommend heavy exposure as it should be lower than normal due to the “Q” he had next to his name at lock (very few people will go back and update their lines on these slates, so you should take advantage of that). While I discussed Sean Lee’s impact on the run game, he is also a huge loss in coverage against TEs. As Graham Barfield pointed out, Dallas goes from 2nd-fewest yards per target to TEs with 5.84 when he is in there, to 2nd-most with 9.86 when he isn’t. Outside of the TE position, Dallas is most vulnerable in the slot as we saw Crowder put up 9-123-0 on them a few weeks back. I also feel like Agholor will go severely overlooked here with the other weapons available, but he definitely merits small exposure to as well. Needless to say, Wentz is a top QB option on the week right along with Brady, and both of them are slightly above Smith and Carr.
LT Tyron Smith is considered “day-to-day” but the Cowboys have already ruled him out. The Philly d-line is licking their chops in anticipation, and this does not bode well for Dak’s chances of staying upright. Ronald Darby is practicing in full ahead of this week and was even taken off of the final injury report. This is less than stellar news for Dez as he is still minding his injuries and sat out early in the week. The good news for him is that he has a 30% market share this year. They are going to have to throw it here, and the Eagles are strong in the slot and against TEs, so Dez or a random shot with Williams will be your best option here.
Not having Smith will also be bad for Alf Morris and the ground game, but with the projected game script here and how often Rod Smith got targeted last week, we should look at him here. As I previously noted, the Eagles have allowed a lot of big games to receiving backs so far this year, and they have given up the 3rd-most receptions overall. They recently gave up lines of 13.9, 13.6, 21.6, and 15.5 to Breida, Thompson, CMC, and Ellington respectively. For the Thurs-Mon slate, Smith makes an excellent pivot off of Burkhead at a similar price point.
Quick Hits for Bye Teams