- Green highllight indicates plus matchup (top eight)
- Red highlight indicates negative matchup (bottom eight)
Bears @ Lions
- (Swanson) Line: CHI -2.5 Total: 43.5
Game Thoughts: Quarterback Mitchell Trubisky showed up
on the injury report on Monday with a shoulder injury sustained
in Sunday Night’s victory over the Minnesota Vikings. At
first, the injury seemed like normal bumps and bruises that come
from playing a divisional rival like the Vikings, but head coach
Matt Nagy told reporters on Tuesday that the team is cautiously
optimistic that their franchise quarterback will play on Thanksgiving
against the Lions in Detroit.
The injury sustained by Trubisky is to his throwing shoulder
and was sustained late in the fourth quarter on a hit by safety
Harrison Smith. When peppered with questions on whether or not
Trubisky will play, Nagy said “I hope he does. But it's
a day-to-day thing for us like I said. He wants to play. I know
that. And for us, we got to make sure in these situations that
we're doing the right thing.”
Trubisky is listed as doubtful meaning veteran backup Chase Daniel
will get the start against the Lions. The 32-year old journeyman
owns a career completion percentage of 65% in two career starts
with the Chiefs, with 480 passing yards and one passing touchdown.
For a guy who has been in the league for since 2010 and made a
decent amount of money, Daniel does not have much experience,
especially playing in nationally televised games.
Daniel will face a Lions defense that allows the 12th-most points
to opposing quarterbacks and the 10th-most points to the running
back position. Six quarterbacks who have faced Detroit have managed
to score at least 20 fantasy points, and five of those players
threw for at least three scores. Trubisky destroyed the Lions
when the two teams faced off two weeks ago in Chicago, with 355
passing yards and three scores, along with a rushing touchdown
for good measure.
With Trubisky out, it would make sense for Nagy to limit the
exposure of his backup quarterback in the passing game and focus
on a ground-heavy attack against the Lions, and hope that his
stout defense led by Khalil Mack can similarly torment the Lions
to what they did last week to Kirk Cousins and the Vikings. With
Daniel in, fantasy owners should downgrade each receiving option
a tad simply out of concerns of Daniel struggling in his first
start since 2014.
DET FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.12
DET FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.10
DET FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.9
DET FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.17
Running Game Thoughts: The injury to Trubisky may force the Bears
to focus more on the run than usual against a Lions defense that
ranks 10th in fantasy points allowed to opposing running backs.
The Lions have improved in run defense since trading for Snacks
Harrison from the Giants, allowing the 11th fewest points to running
backs in the last five games.
The Lions held the Panthers to just 54 yards rushing between
Christian McCaffrey and Cameron Artis-Payne, although McCaffrey
did reach double-digit fantasy points with an additional six catches
for 57 yards.
Detroit held Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen to just 36 combined
rushing yards on 18 carries two weeks ago at Soldier Field, as
the Bears focused on beating the Lions with defense and a potent
passing attack. The volume for both players should increase this
week, but the efficiency needs to improve if they are going to
be strong fantasy plays.
Game Thoughts: Matthew Stafford continues to be a borderline
droppable fantasy quarterback with two or fewer passing touchdowns
in all but one of his games. Although the former first overall
pick in the 2009 NFL draft is on pace for his second-best season
in terms of completion percentage, his 260 passing yards per game
average and low touchdown numbers in a year with so many teams
lighting up the scoreboard is a concern.
To make matters worse, wide receiver Marvin Jones and top running
back Kerryon Johnson did not prac-tice on Monday or Tuesday, and
will miss this game.
With Jones out second-year phenom Kenny Golladay received a career-high
14 targets against the Panthers on Sunday, posting an impressive
eight for 113 receiving line, including a circus-reel touchdown
catch to seal the game. Look for Golladay to continue to be the
primary target for Stafford on Thursday.
Bruce Ellington stepped up with six catches for 52 yards on nine
carries with Jones out and Golden Tate now a member of the Eagles.
Ellington is an oft-injured fourth-year player playing on his
third team, but he is a talented route runner and could be an
interesting play in DFS and deeper 14-team leagues.
The Bears are healthy on defense and proved how formidable their
front seven could be when they abused Cousins and the Vikings
on Sunday Night Football. Just like Minnesota, the Lions have
a suspect offen-sive line and will have their hands full protecting
Stafford from the pass rush of Leonard Floyd, Akeem Hicks, and
Khalil Mack. If offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter does not
design plays with tight end help in pass protection and quick
passes, it may well be a very long day for Stafford and the Lions.
CHI FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.16
CHI FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.32
CHI FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.16
CHI FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.23
Running Game Thoughts: Just when it looked like he was primed
for fantasy stardom, rookie running back Kerryon Johnson suffered
a knee injury that will likely keep the former Auburn Tiger out
for multiple weeks. Hopefully, Matt Patricia and Jim Bob Cooter
realize that LeGarrette Blount and his 2.3 yard per carry average
is not going to work well as a replacement for Johnson, especially
against a Bears team that ranks first in run defense on the season.
Chicago has been downright nasty against the run, allowing just
632 yards and one rushing touchdown to opposing running backs.
The Bears made Latavius Murray and Dalvin Cook look like they
were running behind a high school offensive line last week and
should make running the ball very difficult on Thursday.
Look for the Lions to use Theo Riddick more than usual, while
Zach Zenner may also get some carries on early and passing downs.
Of the two, Riddick carries the most value, especially in PPR
formats. The Li-ons may try to establish the run and trot out
Blount and Zenner early and often.
Redskins at Cowboys
- (Katz) Line: DAL -7.0 Total: 40.5
Game Thoughts: Happy Thanksgiving everyone! The Redskins
are traveling to Jerry World on Turkey Day for the second time
in the last three years. Making his first start since 2014 will
be Colt McCoy, as he takes over after Alex Smith who sustained
one of the worst leg injuries you’ll ever see in last week’s
loss to the Texans. McCoy is what he is – a career backup
capable of filling in when necessary. The Redskins are in the
thick of the divisional race and while McCoy isn’t the worst
option, he’s certainly a downgrade from Smith. All we have
to work with is that in 12 pass attempts last week, he threw three
to Jordan Reed, including a touchdown. We also know that McCoy
likely spent some time working with rookie slot man, Trey Quinn,
who saw his first in game action last week and posted a respectable
4-49 line on four targets. McCoy has been with the team four years
so he knows the offense. If anything, Reed’s value improves
as McCoy may lean on him more. After what Reed did with Smith,
it’s hard to imagine it gets worse.
The Cowboys defense will again be without Sean Lee, but Leighton
Vander Esch is cementing himself as one of the better linebackers
in the league. However, Matt Ryan still threw for nearly 300 yards
last week. Regardless, McCoy is not lighting it up against this
defense, especially on a short week. You shouldn’t be starting
any Redskins other than Reed.
DAL FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.23
DAL FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.27
DAL FPts Allowed vs.WRs: No.28
DAL FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.16
Running Game Thoughts: The offensive problems for the Redskins
continue to take their toll on Adrian Peterson. Yes, he fell into
the end zone twice last week, which bolstered his final line,
but 51 yards on 16 carries is far from impressive. Peterson didn’t
catch a pass, which is not surprising. The Cowboys allow the third
fewest yards per carry at just 3.7 and have only allowed six rushing
scores. The Redskins may struggle to move the ball and with McCoy
under center, the Cowboys could key in on throttling AP. It will
be another touchdown or bust day for the old man.
Passing Game Thoughts: Dak Prescott’s streak of multi-touchdown
games ended at four last week, but he did rush for his fourth
touchdown of the season all coming in the last five games. Prescott’s
lack of overall rushing numbers rendered his fantasy performance
subpar, but it’s easy to see how just 30-40 yards on the
ground would put him in the QB1 conversation.
Amari Cooper looks as good as he has since his rookie season.
Unfortunately, the volume wasn’t there last week as Cole
Beasley and Geoff Swaim combined for nine receptions. The Redskins
are allowing 261 passing yards per game, but all that means is
the Cowboys can throw reasonably well if they want to but typically
don’t. This offense will continue to be run oriented and
with two teams that play at a slow pace, volume is going to be
a problem for Prescott and Cooper.
WAS FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.11
WAS FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.23
WAS FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.11
WAS FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.27
Game Thoughts: Ezekiel Elliott spent two weeks looking
like David Johnson before Byron Leftwich took over and fantasy
owners were rightfully alarmed. Hopefully, he’s quelled
any concerns with 173 yards over his last two games as well as
13 receptions. The Cowboys always used Zeke like a workhorse,
but now they are using him like the all-purpose back that he is.
Zeke is not a receiver the way DJ or Le’Veon Bell are, but
he can catch passes in the mold of Todd Gurley. If this continues,
Elliott will remain an elite RB1 down the stretch.
An interesting fact about the Redskins rush defense is the longest
run they’ve allowed all year is 21 yards even though they
allow 4.3 yards per carry. My guess is Zeke beats that in a game
that should feature positive game script and low scoring. Look
for Elliott to touch the ball 25+ times and get your fantasy week
off to a strong start.
Falcons @ Saints
- (Bales) Line: NO -12.5 Total: 60.0
Game Thoughts: The Saints passing defense has struggled
this season, allowing 280 passing yards per game. They have also
allowed 19 passing touchdowns, while recording only nine interceptions.
Matt Ryan has been a better quarterback at home, but he’s
still averaging a healthy 330.6 yards and 2.2 touchdowns on 38.7
attempts per game. Similarly to the first game, this one should
quickly turn into a shootout, and Ryan threw for 374 yards and
five touchdowns when these two teams met in Week 3.
Julio Jones has been hit top option this season, averaging 7.3
receptions for 115.8 yards and 0.3 touchdowns on 11.1 targets
per game. Surprisingly, he saw only six targets against the Saints
earlier this season, but he could be more of a focal point this
week. Calvin Ridley’s breakout game was against New Orleans,
totaling seven receptions for 146 yards and three touchdowns on
eight targets. While that’s unlikely to happen again, Ridley
does come with quite a bit of upside, as he owns seven touchdowns,
and this game should feature plenty of scoring. Mohamed Sanu is
somewhat of a consistent source of points, but he lacks upside
without touchdowns. On the season, he’s averaging a 3.8
/ 47.2 / 0.3 line on 5.4 targets per game, but has only scored
double-digit fantasy points without a touchdown in one game. Similarly
to Ridley, he does come with touchdown potential in this matchup.
Austin Hooper has also enjoyed a solid season for a tight end,
averaging 5.0 receptions for 44.5 yards and 0.3 touchdowns on
6.3 targets per game. Hooper has also seen eight or more targets
in four of his last six games, making him a great option at the
NO FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.4
NO FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.28
NO FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.1
NO FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.31
Running Game Thoughts: While the Saints have
struggled against the pass, they are allowing only 77.9 rushing
yards per game. With that being said, they have also allowed 10
rushing touchdowns, suggesting Tevin Coleman could possess touchdown
upside this week. Coleman has been a relatively consistent option,
although he does struggle with upside. On the season, he’s
averaging 75.1 yards and 0.6 touchdowns on 14.0 touches per game.
Ito Smith will steal a few of Coleman’s touches, but not
enough to be considered this week. With that being said, there’s
always the potential that Smith vultures a touchdown. If the Saints
get out to an early lead, the Falcons may be forced to throw significantly
more than they would like, leaving Coleman and Smith little to
do in the run game.
Game Thoughts: Drew Brees has been playing at an elite
level this season, averaging 350.8 yards and 3.2 touchdowns per
game at home. He has also caught fire recently, throwing three
or more touchdowns in each of his last three games. Furthermore,
Brees totaled 396 yards and three touchdowns through the air with
two touchdowns on the ground against Atlanta back in Week 3. The
Falcons defense hasn’t gotten any better, as they are allowing
284 passing yards per game. They have also allowed 21 passing
touchdowns, while recording only eight interceptions.
Michael Thomas has been enjoying one of the best receiver seasons
in the NFL, as he’s averaging 8.2 receptions for 104.2 yards
and 0.8 touchdowns on only 9.1 targets per game. He totaled 10
receptions for 129 yards on 10 targets against Atlanta earlier
this season, but didn’t find the end zone, suggesting he
comes with even more upside. Tre’Quan Smith is dealing with
a foot injury, but he’s expected to play this week. After
failing to record a target in Week 10, he recorded 10 receptions
for 157 yards and one touchdown on 13 targets last week. He may
not see that volume again, but he comes with elite upside as New
Orleans’ number two receiver. Ben Watson failed to record
a target last weekend, and tight end is not a position to attack
on this team.
ATL FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.2
ATL FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.4
ATL FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.5
ATL FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.21
Running Game Thoughts: Atlanta has struggled against the run
this season, allowing 121.1 rushing yards per game this season.
They have also allowed 13 rushing touchdowns on the year. Mark
Ingram has looked outstanding recently, as he’s averaging
132.5 yards and 1.5 touchdowns on 16.0 touches per game over the
last two weeks. Alvin Kamara has been used in the rushing and
passing game, averaging 112.7 yards and 1.5 touchdowns on 19.2
touches (5.6 receptions) per game. These two running backs have
proven they can work well together, and that should be the case
once again this week.
Raiders @ Ravens
- (Swanson) Line: BAL -10.5 Total: 42.5
Game Thoughts: Sunday’s game between the Ravens
and the Raiders may be the most unattractive game for passing
game skill players of the year, with the Ravens running the ball
on nearly 75% of their offensive snaps last week with Lamar Jackson
under center and the Raiders decimated by injuries and roster
Derek Carr ranks 29th in the league with an average of 19.0 fantasy
points per game. Outside of two big games against the Browns and
Colts at home in which he threw for 781 yards and seven touchdowns,
Carr has been downright dreadful. With four games of zero passing
touchdowns and three where he failed to throw for 200 passing
Oakland is a dumpster fire that is best ignored at all costs.
If you must start a receiving option on the Raiders, going with
Jared Cook at tight end is not the worst thing to do. Cook ranks
sixth among fantasy tight ends in points per game after scoring
a touchdown against the Cardinals last week. Brandon LaFell appeared
to be evolving into a low-end flex play as Carr’s favorite
wide receiving target over the past two games, but the veteran
receiver ruptured his Achilles and is done for the year.
The Ravens defense disappointed last week when they gave up 21
points to the Bengals offense at home. I anticipate that the Ravens
will look to rebound this week against Oakland by forcing multiple
turnovers and a possible defensive touchdown or two against a
dreadful Raider offense.
BAL FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.29
BAL FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.31
BAL FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.27
BAL FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.15
Running Game Thoughts: Doug Martin suffered an ankle injury and
did not play in the second half of Oakland’s win on the
road last week against the Cardinals. Martin averaged 5.2 yards
per carry before leaving the game, and Jalen Richard and DeAndre
Washington stepped in an ran well to help the Raiders win their
But playing the league’s worst run defense is a much easier
task than running the ball against Baltimore on the road at M&T
Bank. Only the Bears have allowed fewer fantasy points to opposing
running backs than the Ravens, and only four running backs in
10 games have managed to score double-digit fantasy points.
No Raiders player in this matchup in the passing or running game
are strong starts in what could be a lopsided game. If you are
hurting at running back and need a plugin player that could get
some value in PPR formats, Richard is the player to play and could
rack up some garbage catches.
Game Thoughts: With Joe Flacco on the shelf with a hip
injury the Raiders turned to rookie first-round pick Lamar Jackson
to start against the Bengals last Sunday. Jackson completed 13
of 19 passes for 150 yards while setting an NFL record with 27
rushing attempts for 117 yards.
Mary Mornhinweg designed play after play to take advantage of
Jackson’s elite rushing ability and only called for passes
as a change of pace or on third and long situations. The result
proved to work well for the Ravens as they ended a three-game
losing streak, but Jackson’s limited passing all but killed
the value of any of the receiving skill position players on the
There is no reason to expect the Ravens to change their scheme
this week against an Oakland team that allows the eighth-most
points to running backs and the most rushing yards on the season.
With the Ravens defense likely keeping the Raiders out of the
end zone for the entire game, it wouldn’t surprise me to
see the Ravens throw the ball even less this week.
Outside of Jackson starting a Ravens skill position player in
the passing game is a risky proposition. Sure, Jackson may hit
a wide receiver or tight end with a token passing touchdown, but
predicting who that will be is an exercise in futility and frustration.
Jackson, on the other hand, could be a strong start for owners
dealing with bye weeks of Patrick Mahomes and Jared Goff. Despite
passing for zero touchdowns and less than 200 yards, Jackson still
finished as QB12 last week.
OAK FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.15
OAK FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.8
OAK FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.14
OAK FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.8
Running Game Thoughts: The Gus Edwards experience came out in
full effect on Sunday with the bruising rookie from Rutgers rumbling
to 115 yards and a score against the Bengals. Head coach John
Harbaugh mentioned after the game that Edwards continued to impress
in practice and earned more touches in the game. Edwards did not
disappoint, leading the team with 17 of the 25 rushing attempts
not taken by Jackson.
Edwards is a must add waiver wire player in all formats and should
be worth the top waiver claim. Oakland allows the most rushing
yards in the league, and the Ravens defense will give Jackson
and the offense a ton of short fields.
On a negative note, Alex Collins appears to be falling out of
favor and could be a risky play this week. In a game in which
Edwards averaged over seven yards per carry, Collins managed just
over two and only salvaged his disappointing day with a rushing
Jaguars at Bills
- (Katz) Line: JAX -3.0 Total: 37.0
Game Thoughts: The Jaguars are coming off a loss purely
because they are starting a quarterback that should not be in
the NFL. Blake Bortles was hidden last week, attempting just 18
passes and completing 10 for 104 yards. Things are not exactly
easier against the Bills, who lead the league in passing yards
against at just 202 per game. It is pretty clear that Donte Moncrief
and Dede Westbrook are the top two WRs on the Jaguars, but neither
played more than 74% of the snaps. This may be a road game, but
it is against a weak offense so the game plan will undoubtedly
be to win with defense and Leonard Fournette, making all options
in this passing attack unusable.
BUF FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.32
BUF FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.12
BUF FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.32
BUF FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.24
Running Game Thoughts: The aforementioned Leonard Fournette has
returned from his hamstring injury and has compiled his way to
RB1 numbers in the last two games. Fournette’s 95 yards
on 28 carries is evidence he is finally healthy, but his inefficiency
remains a concern. Fortunately, game script should favor the Jaguars
here against a Bills rushing defense that is only slightly above
average. Fournette actually played just 51% of the snaps last
week and still touched the ball 30 times. His volume will keep
in the RB1 conversation every week.
Game Thoughts: The carousel of QBs for the Bills continues
this week as the Bills rotate back to rookie Josh Allen (elbow),
who is poised to return from a multi-week absence due to a UCL
sprain. Allen at least can spark something with his rushing ability,
but you’re not using any Bills pass catchers. Kelvin Benjamin
can’t get open against bad corners so he has no chance against
Jalen Ramsey. Zay Jones actually is at least somewhat interesting
in better matchups as he is coming off an 8-93-1 game from two
weeks ago. Not against the Jaguars though, who only allow 210
passing yards per game.
JAC FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.24
JAC FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.30
JAC FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.31
JAC FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.6
Running Game Thoughts: LeSean McCoy will handle all the touches
he can. Unfortunately, the Jaguars are pretty good against the
run as well. They rank top 10 in run stopping efficiency and are
third in the league in defending pass catching RBs. McCoy can
always volume his way to RB2 numbers, but he’s hard to trust
in this difficult matchup.
Seahawks vs Panthers
- (Bales) Line: CAR -3.0 Total: 46.5
Game Thoughts: Russell Wilson has been playing better
recently, but he’s still seeing limited opportunities. On
the season, he’s averaging 219.2 yards and 2.3 touchdowns
on 27.8 pass attempts per game. He’s also averaging 22.7
yards per game on the ground. Wilson has been relatively consistent,
throwing two or more touchdowns in nine of his 10 games this season.
He gets a solid matchup against the Carolina Panthers, who are
allowing 254.0 passing yards per game. Carolina has also allowed
23 passing touchdowns, although they have also recorded 11 interceptions.
Doug Baldwin is coming off of his best game of the season, totaling
seven receptions for 52 yards and one touchdown against the Packers.
He could see similar targets (10) this week again, but that is
far from a given. He has struggled for the most part this season,
and he isn’t as consistent of an option as he has been in
the past. He also missed practice Thursday with a groin injury
making him questionable for Week 12. Tyler Lockett has been the
best option for the Seahawks this season, scoring double-digit
fantasy points in nine of his 10 games. Overall, he’s averaging
3.8 receptions for 55.4 yards and 0.7 touchdowns on 4.8 targets
per game. David Moore is the third receiver, but he’s difficult
to use unless Baldwin is out. The same can be said for Nick Vannett
and Ed Dickson, who have been splitting snaps and targets at tight
CAR FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.7
CAR FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.25
CAR FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.17
CAR FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.1
Running Game Thoughts: Carolina has looked outstanding against
the run this season, allowing 98.5 rushing yards per game. With
that being said, they are allowing 4.3 yards per carry, while
also allowing seven rushing touchdowns. The Seahawks are going
to force the run, as they always do, and it starts with Chris
Carson. In five healthy, workhorse starts, Carson is averaging
93.0 rushing yards and 1.0 rushing touchdown on 21.4 carries per
game. He doesn’t come with much receiving potential, but
he should be gifted plenty of carries once again. Mike Davis and
Rashaad Penny are splitting backup carries, but it’s difficult
to trust either player with Carson healthy.
Game Thoughts: The Seahawks have performed well against
the pass this season, allowing only 237.0 passing yards per game.
They have also only allowed 16 passing touchdowns, while recording
10 interceptions. Cam Newton has been an outstanding fantasy option.
Through 10 games, he’s averaging 244.3 yards and 2.0 touchdowns
on 32.9 pass attempts per game. He’s also averaging 35.4
yards and 0.4 touchdowns per game on the ground. His rushing ability
adds to his floor, making him a safe fantasy option on a weekly
Devin Funchess has seen the bulk of targets at the wide receiver
position this season, but he has struggled a bit recently. He
has failed to reach double-digit fantasy points in any of his
last four games, but he does possess upside, as he’s averaging
4.1 receptions for 51.6 yards and 0.3 touchdowns on 6.8 targets
per game. Funchess (back) has missed practice Wednesday and Thursday
so keep an eye on his status. D.J. Moore is coming off of his
best game of the season, recording seven receptions for 157 yards
and one touchdown on eight targets. He could see a similar workload
if Torrey Smith and/or Funchess is out again. Curtis Samuel and
Jarius Wright have been splitting slot snaps, and Samuel does
come with some upside, but he also comes with terrible risk. Greg
Olsen is one of the more reliable tight ends in the NFL, and he’s
averaging a 3.4 / 38.1 / 0.6 line on 4.7 targets per game. The
entire Carolina receiving group comes with risk, but Olsen is
the safest because of his position.
SEA FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.27
SEA FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.19
SEA FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.15
SEA FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.25
Running Game Thoughts: Christian McCaffrey is a featured back,
playing the majority of the snaps in every game. On the season,
he’s averaging 112.8 yards and 0.8 touchdowns on 19.6 touches
(6.0 receptions). He’s a safe RB play because of his ability
to dominate with any game script. Seattle has struggled at times
against the run this season, allowing 111.5 rushing yards per
game. They have also allowed eight rushing touchdowns in 2018.
Game Thoughts: The Browns enter this week’s showdown
against the Bengals fresh of the bye week and on a high after
beating Atlanta 28-16 at home in Week 10. Quarterback Baker Mayfield
threw for a career-best three touchdowns and zero interceptions
against the Falcons while completing 85% of his passes.
One of the reasons why Mayfield was so efficient against Atlanta
was the effectiveness of the run game and tailback Nick Chubb,
who set a Browns record with an 85-yard rushing touchdown. Chubb
gave Mayfield and the passing game balance while opening up play
action and keeping linebackers in the box to cover the run.
Mayfield should fare well again this week against a Bengals defense
that allows the most points to opposing quarterbacks. Only Ryan
Tannehill and Lamar Jackson have failed to post at least 20 fantasy
points against the Bengals, and four quarterbacks have topped
30 fantasy points this season against Marvin Lewis’ team.
Lewis fired his defensive coordinator two weeks ago and assumed
play calling duties for last week’s loss against the Ravens.
It is too early to tell if Lewis’ changes have any effect
on the Bengals pass defense as Baltimore ran the ball 70% of the
time with Lamar Jackson starting in place of Joe Flacco. This
week’s game against Mayfield and the Browns will show if
the change in defensive play calling makes any difference on the
effectiveness of the Cincinnati defense.
Look for the Browns to take advantage of Bengals team that in
the passing game that allows nearly a score of either a field
goal or touchdown on just over half of their drives, but the key
to the Browns winning this game will be their rushing attack with
Nick Chubb. Cincinnati ranks second in the league in allowing
runs of ten or more yards, while Chubb ranks among the best in
the league in busting runs of over ten yards.
Another matchup to watch will be Jarvis Landry against Dre Kirkpatrick.
Both are physical players with short fuses, which could lead to
some contentious moments in the game. Landry is sixth in the league
with 105 targets in ten games, but among the seven players with
at least 100 targets, Landry is last in yards and touchdowns.
CIN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.1
CIN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.1
CIN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.13
CIN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.5
Running Game Thoughts: Starting Nick Chubb against the Bengals
is the no-brainer play of the week, as Cincinnati allows the most
points to opposing running backs this season. Ten different running
backs have reached at least 10 fantasy points this season against
the Bengals, highlighted by Kareem Hunt’s 32-point explosion
Week 7 in Kansas City.
Only Hunt has more runs of at least ten yards since Chubb took
over the starting running back role in Cleveland, and Chubb ranks
12 overall in fantasy points among running backs over the past
Duke Johnson continues to be a strong play in the passing game
since the firing of offensive coordinator Todd Haley. Duke has
three touchdowns and 109 receiving yards in his last two games,
making him a nice flex play or low-end No.2 RB in deep leagues.
The Bengals have won 21 of the last 27 games between the two
teams including the previous seven matchups. The Browns have also
lost 25 straight road games and are within one of tying the NFL
record for futility. I predict both streaks will end with a Browns
victory on Sunday.
Game Thoughts: Andy Dalton threw for 211 yards and two
touchdowns last week in a difficult road matchup against a Ravens
defense that allows the fewest points to opposing quarterbacks.
It was a surprisingly solid performance for Dalton against a team
that typically gives him troubles, especially on the road.
Despite the fact that he was not terrible against the Ravens,
Dalton has not thrown for over 300 yards or more than two touchdowns
since Week 4, and two of his games in matchups against subpar
pass defenses like the Chiefs and Saints, Dalton did not reach
200 passing yards or two passing touchdowns in either game.
Needless to say, Dalton is a fringe play in standard 12 team
formats and a low-end QB2 in two-quarterback leagues, especially
if A.J. Green is out again with his toe injury. Green has not
practiced this week, but head coach Marvin Lewis continues to
be optimistic that his star receiver could play against the Browns.
The matchup for Dalton on paper appears to be a good one with
the Browns allowing the 10th-most points to opposing quarterbacks.
But Dalton did not take advantage of similar situations against
the Chiefs and Saints, two teams who rank in the top five in points
allowed, so it is not a safe assumption to think that the red
rifle will take advantage of his home game against the Browns.
Tyler Boyd continues to be the favorite target of Dalton’s
with Green on the shelf. Boyd has at least ten targets in two
of his last three games while posting no less than 65 yards. John
Ross has also seen an increase in targets over the previous two
games and has scored a touchdown in both contests despite posting
just four catches for 66 yards combined in Weeks 10 and 11.
CLE FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.10
CLE FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.6
CLE FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.8
CLE FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.9
Running Game Thoughts: The blueprint to beat the Browns this
season is to attack them on the ground. As a unit that allows
the sixth-most points to opposing defenses, including multi-touchdown
games to James Conner, Kareem Hunt, and Melvin Gordon, the Browns
struggle stopping elite level running backs.
Joe Mixon owners need to fire up their running back with confidence
in this matchup, as Mixon should reach close to 100 yards and
a score assuming he stays healthy and the game script does not
turn against him. In addition to allowing numerous multi-touchdown
games, four opposing running backs totaled at least 100 rushing
yards against Gregg Williams’ defense, including Conner’s
146 yards Week 8 in Pittsburgh.
Patriots at Jets
- (Katz) Line: NE -10.0 Total: 47.0
Game Thoughts: Tom Brady has had two weeks to think about
his worst game of the season where he completed just 51.22% of
his passes for 254 scoreless yards. Rob Gronkowski has been limited
at practice and should be considered legitimately questionable
to suit up. The Jets have allowed just 36 receiving yards per
game to opposing TEs and while they haven’t faced many quality
ones, it’s not like Gronk has been a quality one this season.
Gronk hasn’t scored or topped 100 yards since Week 1. Brady
will continue to pepper Julian Edelman with targets and no team
allows more fantasy points per game to slot receivers than the
Jets at 17.3 FPts/G. Josh Gordon is coming off a 12 target game,
but he’s been inefficient all season and has yet to catch
more than five passes in a game. The Jets are banged up in the
secondary though, so Gordon is a nice ceiling play hoping he pops
one. No one else in this passing game is relevant.
NYJ FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.21
NYJ FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.13
NYJ FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.10
NYJ FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.30
Running Game Thoughts: With Sony Michel likely 100% following
the bye, he should resume his role in a full split with James
White. With the Patriots likely to be in the red zone often, Michel
is a good bet to punch in a short touchdown. White has at least
five receptions in seven consecutive games and has proven to be
immune to game script and opponent. The Jets allow 4.2 yards per
carry to opposing backs, but you know what you’re looking
for in Patriots backs – Michel for the touchdowns and White
for the volume and receptions.
Game Thoughts: Even with the bye week to rest up, it
looks like Sam Darnold (foot) is not ready so Josh McCown will
get another start. McCown looked completely disinterested in playing
against the Bills, completing half of his 34 attempts for 135
yards and no touchdowns while also throwing two interceptions.
The Jets are a mess offensively. Robby Anderson (ankle) is not
going to play either, leaving Quincy Enunwa and Jermaine Kearse
as McCown’s top two options. The Patriots are allowing 64.4
yards per game to opposing TEs, which makes Chris Herndon interesting
once again. The Patriots are allowing 270 passing yards per game
and have allowed 21 passing touchdowns. The Jets should have to
throw in this one, but, to be fair, they had to throw a ton against
the Bills and it didn’t matter. The Patriots are probably
angry coming off a bad loss, which makes Jets offensive players
NE FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.6
NE FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.18
NE FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.21
NE FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.3
Running Game Thoughts: Perhaps one Jets offensive player is usable
and that man is Elijah McGuire. We got a preview of what the Jets
backfield looks like in negative game script and McGuire played
57% of the snaps against the Bills. He’s now been back for
a month and is ready to be more fully integrated into the offense.
The Patriots are allowing 56 receiving yards per game to opposing
running backs and with the lack of talent in the Jets receiving
corps, McGuire could see 6+ targets. Isaiah Crowell is still the
starter and if the Jets do get into scoring position, he’ll
be handling the goal line carries, but he’s susceptible
to being taken out of the game due to the score. If you start
him, you must be really pressed with injuries and/or byes.
Giants at Eagles
- (Katz) Line: PHI -6.0 Total: 47.0
Game Thoughts: Let’s try not to overreact to a
game where the Giants scored 38 points. Eli Manning threw just
one incompletion the entire game for a 94.4% completion percentage,
which I have to assume is his career best. It came against the
Bucs’ league worst pass defense. The good news is the Eagles
aren’t much better. They are allowing 277 passing yards
per game and have allowed 16 passing touchdowns against just four
interceptions. They were completely eviscerated by Drew Brees
last week. The Giants are touchdown underdogs so game script should
be negative enough to force Manning to throw more than 18 times,
but not so negative that the team stops trying.
The Eagles secondary has been ravaged by injury so Odell Beckham
Jr. could have a field day this week. He is always reliable, but
neither Sterling Shepard nor Evan Engram can be trusted. Shepard
is a fine play based on matchup, neither is getting enough designed
to plays to make your feel comfortable putting them in your starting
lineup. Engram played just 17 snaps last week, somehow losing
his job to the likes of both Rhett Ellison and Scott Simonson,
each of whom out-snapped the first round pick coming off the second
greatest rookie TE season of all time. Every time Engram touches
the ball, he looks like the best athlete on the field. But what
do I know.
PHI FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.9
PHI FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.22
PHI FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.2
PHI FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.29
Running Game Thoughts: For as long as I’ve been writing
this column, I haven’t had to say much about the Giants
running game because it was nonexistent. I still don’t have
to say much, but for a completely different reason. Now is as
good of a time as any to go back and read my preseason article
on why Saquon Barkley was deserving of being the fifth running
back off the board in fantasy drafts. He is getting the volume,
which is all he needed to be an RB1, but he is also proving to
be the generational talent he’s supposed to be. Barkley
rushed for 142 yards and two touchdowns on 27 carries last week,
while adding a third through the air. The Eagles allow 4.7 yards
per carry and even if game script turns against Barkley, he will
just compile stats through the air instead of the ground.
Game Thoughts: I think it is fair to say Carson Wentz
just had the worst game of his career. I don’t just mean
his young career, I mean his entire career. He will never play
football as poorly as he did last week against the Saints where,
depending on your scoring settings, you may have been better off
starting Nate Peterman. Before last week’s implosion, Wentz
had thrown multiple touchdowns in every game except for his first
game back from injury. Given how reliable Wentz has been and now
anomalous the extreme negative game script was last week, it is
well within reason to write it off as a fluke.
The Giants gave up over 360 passing yards to the combination
of Ryan Pickspatrick, who made his triumphant return (or exit,
depending on your perspective) last week, and Jameis Winston.
Although they have only allowed 14 passing touchdowns this season,
that number is a bit deceptive due to the number of weak quarterbacks
they’ve faced. Wentz threw three touchdowns against no interceptions
when these teams faced off in Week 6. The Giants could not stop
Alshon Jeffery (8-74-2) or Zach Ertz (7-43-1). Look for more of
the same this week as Golden Tate just isn’t involved enough
in the offense and Doug Pederson even came out and said it’s
been a struggle integrating Tate. Nelson Agholor hasn’t
been relevant in weeks.
NYG FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.19
NYG FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.9
NYG FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.23
NYG FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.22
Running Game Thoughts: Sometimes it takes coaches a few weeks
to catch up to the best fantasy analysts. Better late than never
for Doug Pederson to figure out that Josh Adams is the most talented
RB on his roster (and has been all season) and it’s not
even close. Adams was victimized by negative game script last
week, yet still played a season high 55% of the snaps. With the
Eagles installed as touchdown favorites, Adams could see 12-15
touches this week and is a strong bet to handle any goal line
carries. Neither Corey Clement nor Wendell Smallwood have any
value. It is Adams or bust for Eagles backs. The Giants allow
4.5 yards per carry and are coming off a game where they somehow
let Peyton Barber eclipse 100 yards on the ground. If there were
ever a week to fire up Adams, it is this one.
Game Thoughts: Nick Mullens will maintain the starting
job for the 49ers this weekend in a prime matchup. Through two
starts this season, he’s averaging 256.0 yards and 2.0 touchdowns
on 30.5 pass attempts per game. He gets an elite matchup against
the Buccaneers who allow 282.0 passing yards per game. They have
also allowed 25 passing touchdowns, while recording only one interception
in 2018. Normally, Mullens is a player we can disregard, but he
can be considered because of the elite matchup in what should
be one of the higher scoring games of the week.
George Kittle is the only safe receiving option for San Francisco.
On the season, he’s averaging 5.0 receptions for 77.5 yards
and 0.3 touchdowns on 7.1 targets per game. He has also scored
double-digit fantasy points in each of his last four games. Marquise
Goodwin has been a boom or bust option, and he can only be considered
because of the matchup. Pierre Garcon (knee) and Kendrick Bourne
will also see plenty of snaps, but neither has been playing well
enough to be considered, even in this matchup.
TB FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.3
TB FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.7
TB FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.3
TB FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.2
Running Game Thoughts: Tampa Bay has also struggled against the
run this season, allowing 113.6 rushing yards per game. They have
also allowed 14 rushing touchdowns. Matt Breida finally looks
fully healthy, as he has been featured in the 49ers last three
games. In those games, he’s averaging 73.7 yards and 0.7
touchdowns on 16.3 touches. This game is also projected to stay
relatively close, meaning Breida could be featured from the start
to the finish. Alfred Morris is backing up Breida, but he isn’t
seeing enough carries to be considered for fantasy.
Game Thoughts: The 49ers are only allowing 242.0 passing
yards per game this season, but they have also allowed 21 passing
touchdowns, while recording only two interceptions. Jameis Winston
has been announced as the Bucs starting quarterback, and he has
only played in two full games this season. Through five games
(two full), he’s averaging 276.0 passing yards and 1.6 passing
touchdowns on 32.8 pass attempts per game. In two full games,
he totaled 760 passing yards, four passing touchdowns, 84 rushing
yards, and one rushing touchdown.
Mike Evans has been enjoying a great season, but he’s struggled
for the most part with Winston at quarterback. This is a plus
matchup, though, and Evans is coming off of a 6/120/1 line against
the Giants. DeSean Jackson is averaging 3.7 receptions for 73.1
yards and 0.4 touchdowns on 6.2 targets per game. Chris Godwin
is another receiver that has found success, averaging 4.0 receptions
for 53.3 yards and 0.4 touchdowns on 5.7 targets per game. O.J.
Howard (ankle) was recently placed on injured reserve, leaving
Cameron Brate to play the majority of the Tampa Bay tight end
snaps. He has seen a limited role for the most part this season,
but the absence of Howard will thrust him into consideration this
SF FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.17
SF FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.16
SF FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.12
SF FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.19
Running Game Thoughts: The 49ers defense has found some success
against the run, as they are allowing only 102.2 rushing yards
per game. They have also allowed only seven rushing touchdowns
this season. Peyton Barber is coming off of a great game against
the Giants, totaling 110 yards and one touchdown on 20 touches.
Ronald Jones could potentially return this week, which could steal
some carries from Barber. Overall, the Bucs running game is something
to avoid unless you’re desperate given the 49ers have allowed
only one RB (Melvin Gordon) to rush for 100 yards in a game. No
other RB has topped more than 67 yards in a game against this
Game Thoughts: Josh Rosen had the first three-touchdown
performance of his career this past week against the Raiders,
but was still not able to put together an overall quality fantasy
day as it was accompanied by just 136 yards passing and two interceptions.
He also remains one of the least-mobile passers in the game, which
doesn’t give him those extra “bonus” points
that so many other quarterbacks contribute. Rosen will again be
one of the worst starting QB plays on the board as the Cardinals
head on the road to face the Chargers and their eighth-ranked
fantasy defense against opposing quarterbacks.
The Chargers haven’t given up a passing touchdown in either
of their past two games and it seems like a decent possibility
that they’ll make it three straight in what should be a
pretty easy matchup. Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald has been heating
up in recent weeks, but it’s worth considering that he’s
been a bit lucky with his production. He scored two touchdowns
this past week on only two total catches for 23 yards. In fact,
he’s caught four touchdowns over his past four games on
just 20 total catches. That’s simply not a rate that Fitzgerald
is likely to continue to score at so relying on him to do so is
a risky proposition. He’s still a decent option as a low-end
WR2 or Flex, but anything beyond that is asking for disappointment.
The same applies for rookie receiver Christian Kirk who has scored
two touchdowns on just eight receptions over his past three games.
This offense is simply not good enough to trust secondary weapons
within, so it’s probably best to avoid Kirk and tight end
Ricky Seals-Jones who caught just one pass for five yard this
past week in what should have been a great matchup.
LAC FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.25
LAC FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.14
LAC FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.25
LAC FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.20
Running Game Thoughts: David Johnson finally cracked the 100 rushing
yard mark this past week as he blew up for 137 yards and a touchdown
on 25 carries against the Raiders. The performance marked the
third straight contest in which Johnson reached 20 touches in
a game. That type of usage would make almost any back fantasy
viable, but a player with the skill set of Johnson can become
an elite option if he’s given 20 touches per week.
The potential issue is that the Cardinals are on the road against
a quality Chargers team who are capable of putting up big points,
which could realistically put the Cardinals in a tough spot offensively.
If they find themselves behind on the scoreboard, Johnson is going
to have to be utilized heavily in the passing game. We saw this
happen in Week 10 when the Cardinals played the Chiefs in Kansas
City, as Johnson ended up catching seven passes for 85 yards and
a touchdown, leading to by far his biggest fantasy day of the
season. Don’t expect that type of production again, but
Johnson is still a solid fantasy RB1 given the offense’s
high usage of their star running back.
Game Thoughts: He hasn’t been an elite option most
weeks, but Philip Rivers remains one of the most consistent fantasy
quarterbacks of the 2018 season. The Chargers QB has thrown multiple
touchdown passes in every game this season but hasn’t eclipsed
three scores in any game, thus him falling between roughly 18
to 25 points most weeks. This looks like another matchup where
he’ll likely fall within that range as he faces an Arizona
defense that has given up two touchdown passes in each of their
past two games. The Cardinals also haven’t conceded more
than two passing touchdowns in any game this season, however,
so an explosive game out of Rivers seems unlikely.
The player who we should be most excited about in this passing
game has been wide receiver Keenan Allen who again seems poised
for a huge second-half of the season, just as he’s done
in previous seasons. Allen has caught 26 passes over his past
four games, including nine this past week against the Broncos’
highly-regarded secondary. He’ll likely see a good bit of
attention from cornerback Patrick Peterson, but Allen lines up
all over the field which will likely keep him from seeing total
shadow coverage from the all-star cornerback. The high volume
he’s likely to see is enough to make him a WR1 for fantasy
this week even in what seems to be a difficult on-paper matchup.
Fellow wide receivers Mike Williams and Tyrell Williams remain
low-volume touchdown-or-bust options, as does tight end Antonio
ARI FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.31
ARI FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.3
ARI FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.26
ARI FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.26
Running Game Thoughts: The monster season for Melvin Gordon continued
this past week as the Chargers running back had a bit of a down
week on the ground but was able to supplement with another big
day in the passing game, catching six passes for 87 yards. He
didn’t score a touchdown for just the second time this season
in a game he played, but he still produced an RB1 fantasy day,
which he should be once again this week against the Cardinals
who have given up the third-most fantasy points per game to opposing
running backs. The 1,286 rushing yards they’ve given up
are second-most in the league, behind only the Raiders, and they’ve
given up 11 rushing touchdown, which is also third-most in the
league. Gordon is an elite play in this home matchup in what should
be a positive game script situation.
Dolphins @ Colts
- (Bales) Line: IND -7.5 Total: 51.0
Game Thoughts: Ryan Tannehill (shouilder) will return
to action this week, and he flashed upside early this season.
He struggled in his last two games before his injury, but averaged
229.0 yards and 2.3 touchdowns on 24.7 pass attempts per game.
He may be forced to throw the ball more in this game as the Colts
are sizeable favorites. Tannehill also comes with rushing potential,
topping out at 44 yards in Week 2. Indianapolis is allowing 259.0
passing yards per game this season, which ranks 23rd in the NFL.
They have also allowed 16 passing touchdowns, while recording
11 interceptions this season.
Albert Wilson and Jakeem Grant are out for the season, while
Danny Amendola and DeVante Parker are questionable this week.
Kenny Stills is the only healthy starter, but he has recorded
three or fewer targets in each of his last four games, making
him an impossible player to trust. Leonte Carroo and Brice Butler
could see snaps if Parker and Amendola are out, but neither make
great options. On the season, Amendola has been the best receiver
for the Dolphins, as he’s averaging 4.7 receptions for 45.6
yards and 0.1 touchdowns on 6.1 targets per game. He has also
scored double digit fantasy points in four of his last five games.
Parker has recorded 11 and 9 targets in two of his last three
games, totaling 11 receptions for 177 yards. He should continue
to see a plethora of targets, if healthy. The Dolphins tight ends
can also be avoided, as they aren’t involved in the offense.
The Miami passing attack is one of the most inconsistent in the
NFL, and it’s difficult to trust anyone, although some players
do come with upside.
IND FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.13
IND FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.20
IND FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.24
IND FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.10
Running Game Thoughts: The Colts have featured
an average defense against the run this season, allowing 105.7
rushing yards per game. They have also allowed only seven rushing
touchdowns this season. Kenyan Drake and Frank Gore have split
carries, taking fantasy value away from each other. Drake is the
better fantasy option of the duo, but he has totaled only 17 touches
over his last two games. Gore has seen significantly more touches,
totaling 36 over that same span, but he doesn’t carry much
value unless he scores a touchdown. This is a situation that is
likely best to avoid if possible.
Game Thoughts: The Dolphins have struggled at times against
the pass, allowing 250.0 passing yards per game. They have also
allowed 18 passing touchdowns, while recording 15 interceptions.
Andrew Luck has been one of the most consistent fantasy quarterbacks
this season, as he’s averaging 276.9 yards and 2.9 touchdowns
on 40.0 pass attempts per game. He has also thrown three or more
touchdowns in seven consecutive games. Luck is the focal point
of this offense, and he’s an elite option once again this
T.Y. Hilton has struggled at times, but he’s averaging
4.8 receptions for 73.1 yards and 0.8 touchdowns on 7.9 targets
through eight games. He’s also coming off of an elite game,
posting a 9/155/2 line on nine targets against the Titans. Dontrelle
Inman has also taken on a new role recently, as he has totaled
14 receptions for 127 yards and one touchdown over the last three
weeks. He isn’t an elite option, but he does come with quiet
upside if you’re in a tough spot. Jack Doyle is another
major part of the passing attack, as he is averaging a 4.4 / 45.8
/ 0.2 line on 5.8 targets per game through five games this season.
Eric Ebron is another tight end that can be considered, but he
failed to see a target last week. He’s a touchdown threat,
but makes a risky option.
MIA FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.20
MIA FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.5
MIA FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.22
MIA FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.14
Running Game Thoughts: Miami has featured one
of the worst run defenses in the NFL, allowing 142.0 rushing yards
per game this season. They have also allowed nine rushing touchdowns.
Marlon Mack has been injured, but he has been featured when healthy.
Through six games, Mack is averaging 90.7 yards and 0.8 touchdowns
on 17.2 touches per game. He has been playing at a higher level
over his last four games, and this is an elite matchup for Mack,
especially considering Indianapolis should be leading early on.
Steelers at Broncos
- (Caron) Line: PIT -3.0 Total: 46.5
Game Thoughts: It was a rough road game against a good
Jacksonville defense this past week for Ben Roethlisberger and
the Steelers’ passing game, as the veteran QB threw multiple
interceptions for just the second time all season. Despite the
turnovers, Roethlisberger still turned in a quality fantasy day
due to his 314 yards passing, two touchdowns through the air,
and one on the ground. This week he’ll face a Denver defense
that has been great against the pass in recent history but they
haven’t been quite the dominant force this season. In fact,
they’ve given up a combined eight touchdown passes over
their past three games against Patrick Mahomes, Deshaun Watson
and Philip Rivers. Playing on the road in the mountains of Denver
is always a difficult task but the Steelers’ high-octane
offense should still be in line for a decent fantasy day.
Wide receivers Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster continue
both produce excellent fantasy seasons and were both able to contribute
100-yard days this past week against the Jaguars. They should
be started in all formats, as usual, but tight end Vance McDonald
is another potential fantasy starter this week. McDonald has scored
in back-to-back weeks and is one of the more athletic tight ends
in the league. With the position lacking talent overall, McDonald
makes for an interesting play against the Broncos who have given
up the seventh-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends this
season, along with a touchdown to the position in each of their
past three games.
DEN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.18
DEN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.11
DEN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.20
DEN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.7
Running Game Thoughts: We had to expect that the magical James
Conner season would have some down weeks and Week 11’s game
against the Broncos just seems like it was one of those. The Steelers’
running back ran the ball just nine times for 25 yards and while
he was able to at least salvage the day in PPR formats with six
receptions for an additional 24 yards, it was still a pretty disappointing
day. Some fantasy owners will likely be concerned about Conner
after the disappointing game, but understand that even the elite
fantasy backs have down weeks from time to time. Conner’s
touching the ball too often, especially in the passing game, to
be considered anything other than a rock solid RB1 here in Week
12 against the Broncos. Denver has struggled against running backs
in the passing game as of late and they’ve already conceded
multiple 200-yard rushing days this season, so Conner is a very
Game Thoughts: The Denver passing game continues to be
a fairly low-upside option on a weekly basis as this unit has
not scored more than two touchdowns in a game since all the way
back in Week 1. The nice thing is that they continue to consolidate
their targets to two players - wide receivers Emmanuel Sanders
and Courtland Sutton. Tight end Jeff Heuerman did have a shocking
10-catch performance back in Week 9, but fell back to reality
with a four catch, 20-yard day coming out of the bye in Week 11.
The big issue for the Broncos’ passing game might actually
be their matchup, however. The Steelers have given up just one
touchdown to an opposing wide receiver since Week 6 and they haven’t
given up more than 60 receiving yards in a game to any wide receiver
over that stretch. It’s true that they haven’t played
against the best passing games, but the Steelers secondary is
clearly playing well enough that we should be concerned about
playing anyone in the Denver passing game.
PIT FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.14
PIT FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.24
PIT FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.18
PIT FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.13
Running Game Thoughts: Running back Royce Freeman returned to
the field this past week and while he did not take his starting
role back, he did pull enough touches away from Phillip Lindsay
to make us pause about the backfield going forward. The Broncos
rookies are a solid duo from a real-life standpoint but their
constant vulturing of one another has made it difficult for either
of them to truly have a breakout game. One thing to note, however,
is that Freeman’s return in Week 11 led to very little playing
time for Devontae Booker. Booker was on the field for just 20
percent of the Broncos’ offensive plays and he saw just
one touch on the day against the Chargers, so he is no longer
a fantasy option even in deep formats. Lindsay is clearly the
best of the bunch, but he’ll have a tough matchup against
a top-10 Steelers fantasy defense against running backs.
Packers @ Vikings
- (Swanson) Line: MIN -3.0 Total: 47.5
Game Thoughts: Aaron Rodgers is on pace to throw for
just under 5000 passing yards, 30 touchdowns, and only two interceptions.
In any other year, he would be an MVP candidate and top-5 fantasy
quarterback. But in the ever-changing NFL landscape with Patrick
Mahomes and the Chiefs, Drew Brees and the Saints, and Jared Goff
and the Rams lighting up the scoreboard, 5000 passing yards and
30 passing touchdowns is almost a disappointment.
Rodgers’ 24.4 fantasy points per game place him 10th among
quarterbacks this season, nearly eight full points per game behind
Patrick Mahomes. By comparison, Rodgers would be a top-five quarterback
in each of the past five seasons, and the No.2 quarterback in
three of the past eight years. 2018 is the season of the quarterback,
and those fortunate enough to land Mahomes in the back of their
drafts are likely already in the playoffs or close to clinching.
The Vikings enter this game ranked 22nd in fantasy points allowed
to quarterbacks. Over the past five weeks, only the Steelers and
Bills have allowed fewer fantasy points. The Vikings are once
again relatively healthy on the defensive side of the ball and
Mike Zimmer has the team playing much better football.
Rodgers threw for 281 yards and a touchdown when the two teams
faced off in Week 2. In 20 career games against Minnesota, Rodgers
owns a 12/7/1 record, with 40 passing touchdowns and six interceptions,
with a 110.7 passer rating. The Vikings are a tough defense and
present a difficult challenge, but Rodgers has been one of the
few QBs who has found regular success against Mike Zimmer’s
A matchup to watch in this game will be Davante Adams outside
against Xavier Rhodes. Adams caught six passes for 84 yards and
a touchdown when lined up against Rhodes in Week 2, and has had
his way against the Pro Bowl corner in the past. Look for Rodgers
to lean more heavily on Marquez Valdes-Scantling this week after
not looking his way much last week against Seattle. Of the seven
receiving touchdowns scored against the Vikings this season only
two of them were scored by No.1 wide receivers.
Jimmy Graham left last week’s game against the Seahawks
with a broken thumb. The veteran tight end did not undergo surgery
and plans on playing through the injury. It seems to me that a
broken thumb would make catching an Aaron Rodgers pass all but
impossible, so avoiding Graham until he proves otherwise would
be a smart move.
MIN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.22
MIN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.26
MIN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.30
MIN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.18
Running Back Thoughts: A balanced rushing attack with Aaron Jones
will be a key for the Packers to upset the Vikings at US Bank
Stadium. Jones has been a revelation of late for fantasy owners
and Packers fans now that head coach Mike McCarthy has come to
his senses by making Jones a featured back in the offense. Only
Kareem Hunt, Alvin Kamara, Todd Gurley, Christian McCaffrey, and
Melvin Gordon have more fantasy points per game than Jones over
the past five weeks, and Jones’ increased usage in the passing
game during that span has made him even more valuable for fantasy
Fantasy owners will want to start Jones regardless of the matchup,
and his dual threat as a runner and receiver make him a threat
to score on any play. But the Vikings do allow the sixth-fewest
fantasy points per game to running backs and no RB has reached
100 yards rushing this year against Minnesota. Jones is a must-start,
but owners need to temper their expectations a bit based on the
Game Thoughts: After a hot start to the season that included
two 35-point performances against the Packers and the Rams, Kirk
Cousins looked primed for a monster fantasy season and looked
to be well worth his monster offseason free agent contract. Cousins
and wide receiver Adam Thielen were on pace to set NFL records
for receptions and targets, and the usually tough Minnesota defense
continued to put Cousins and the offense in game scripts that
required high scoring performances on a weekly basis.
The magic for Cousins and his fantasy owners did not last long
as the Vikings defense improved and no longer forced Cousins to
throw the ball at a high rate, and Latavius Murray provided some
much-needed balance in the running game. Cousins has not thrown
for more than two touchdowns in any game since Week 4, and currently
ranks on the fringe of QB1 territory through 11 weeks.
On a positive note, one of Cousins’ big games came against
the Packers and the majority of his big passing performances have
come at home. The Packers rank 26th in fantasy points per game
allowed to opposing quarterbacks after limiting Tom Brady, Russell
Wilson, and Brock Osweiler to fewer than two passing touchdowns
in each of the past three weeks.
A big focus of this game will be the play of the Vikings offensive
line in both pass protection and run blocking. The offensive line
was putrid last week against the Bears, failing to open up holes
for Dalvin Cook in the run game and the Bears tormented Cousins
from the opening snap with a ferocious pass rush. The Packers
do not have the pass rushing specialists that the Vikings boast,
but they still can create pressure on the quarterback in complex
blitz Packages from defensive coordinator Mike Pettine.
Running Game Thoughts: Dalvin Cook may be the most frustrating
fantasy player this year not named Le’Veon Bell. After missing
most of the season with hamstring ailments, Cook flashed his explosive
ability two weeks ago against the Lions with a 75-yard run, only
to give fantasy owners a negative game on Sunday Night Football
against the Bears after fumbling the ball near the red zone.
GB FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.26
GB FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.15
GB FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.7
GB FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.28
Running the ball this week should be much easier for Cook and
the Vikings against a Packers team that ranks 15th in fantasy
points allowed to running backs. Seven running backs have reached
double digits against the Pack and two backs, Adrian Peterson
and Todd Gurley, topped 100 yards on the ground.
Top run-stuffing defensive lineman Mike Daniels missed practice
again on Wednesday with a foot injury and isn’t expected
to play. As a result, look for the Vikings to find more success
running the ball between the tackles.
Titans vs Texans
- (Bales) Line: HOU -6.5 Total: 41.5
Game Thoughts: The Texans have featured one of the better
pass defenses in the NFL, allowing only 235.0 passing yards per
game this season. They have allowed 17 passing touchdowns, while
recording nine interceptions, as well. Marcus Mariota is questionable
with a neck injury, but he stated that he feels like he’ll
be able to play this week. Still, he isn’t a great fantasy
option in a tough matchup, especially with an injury that could
be aggravated at any point in the game. If Mariota is out, Blaine
Gabbert will step in as the quarterback, but he can also be avoided
Corey Davis has been a target monster this season, but there
has been very little consistency in the Tennessee passing attack.
On the season, he’s averaging 4.5 receptions for 60.6 yards
and 0.2 touchdowns per game. He can be considered, but he also
comes with terrible risk. Tajae Sharpe is coming off of a big
game against the Indianapolis Colts, but only recorded one reception
in the two games prior. Jonnu Smith has quietly stepped up recently,
scoring double-digit fantasy points in three consecutive games.
He isn’t an elite option, but he can be considered because
of the volatility at his position this season.
HOU FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.28
HOU FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.21
HOU FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.29
HOU FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.12
Running Game Thoughts: Dion Lewis has disappointed in his last
two games despite seeing 33 touches. The volume has been there
- over the last four weeks, he’s averaging 94.3 yards and
0.3 touchdowns on 18.8 touches per game. He remains the back to
own in Tennessee but he’s difficult to trust given the state
of the Titans offense as a whole. Derrick Henry has also seen
an increase in value recently, but he’s a touchdown dependent
running back, who is impossible to trust. Houston has featured
one of the best run defenses in the NFL this season, allowing
only 96.0 rushing yards per game. They have also allowed only
five rushing touchdowns in 2018 making Lewis an uncomfortable
Game Thoughts: Deshaun Watson has featured a plethora
of ups and downs throughout the 2018 season. Through 10 games,
he’s averaging 259.7 yards and 1.8 touchdowns on 30.9 pass
attempts. He’s also averaging 27.5 yards and 0.1 touchdowns
on the ground this season. He gets a tough matchup against the
Titans, who are allowing only 235.0 passing yards per game. They
have also allowed only 14 passing touchdowns, while recording
six interceptions this season.
DeAndre Hopkins has been one of the best receivers in the NFL,
averaging 6.8 receptions for 95.0 yards and 0.8 touchdowns on
9.6 targets per game. He has also scored double-digit fantasy
points in every game this season. Keke Coutee returned to action
last week, totaling five receptions for 77 yards on nine targets.
He should continue to see plenty of targets as the number two
option behind Hopkins. Demaryius Thomas is has only seen four
targets in two games since joining the Texans. Furthermore, Thomas
only saw one target last week with Coutee in the lineup. The Texans’
tight ends can also completely be avoided at this point.
TEN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.30
TEN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.29
TEN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.6
TEN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.32
Running Game Thoughts: The Titans are only allowing 100.0 rushing
yards per game. They have also allowed only six rushing touchdowns
and only 5 TDs total to running backs making it difficult to trust
Lamar Miller. Miller is averaging 82.0 yards and 0.3 touchdowns
on 17.9 touches per game. He isn’t the most efficient player
in the NFL, but he’s a solid option because of his role,
especially in a game where the Texans could be leading early.
Alfred Blue has also seen some touches behind Miller, but not
enough to be considered.