- ITM for all games will be available on Friday.
- Green highllight indicates plus matchup (top eight)
- Red highlight indicates negative matchup (bottom eight)
Colts at Patriots
- (Katz) Line: NE -10.0 Total: 51.0
Game Thoughts: We finally had a somewhat vintage Andrew
Luck game last week as he threw for 464 yards and four touchdowns,
but needed 62 pass attempts and overtime to do it. Most concerning
is the fact that T.Y. Hilton led the Colts in receiving despite
exiting relatively early due to a hamstring injury (after suffering
a rib injury earlier in the game). Chester Rogers led the team
with 11 targets and is an immediate fantasy option simply because
there’s no one else. Eric Ebron was once again, highly inefficient,
but he saw 10 targets and caught a touchdown. His stock also rises
in Hilton’s absence along with Jack Doyle continuing to
miss with a foot injury.
The Patriots are only allowing 226 passing yards per game, but
a lot of that is bolstered by Ryan Tannehill’s abysmal 100
yards from last week. The Patriots allowed seven passing touchdowns
over their first three games. Luck is going to have to throw to
keep up with the Pats offense, but it remains to be seen how effective
he can be without his top weapon.
NE FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.18
NE FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.17
NE FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.14
NE FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.31
Running Game Thoughts: Discussing this Colts rushing attack reminds
me a lot of how I described the Giants rushing attack before this
season. It’s simply nonexistent. Jordan Wilkins, Nyheim
Hines, and Jeremy McNichols combined to rush for 31 yards on 14
carries. Hines is a solid pass catcher and showcased that ability
with 63 yards and two touchdowns on nine receptions, one of which
was an extremely impressive side of the end zone toe tapper. Hines
is the most valuable RB on the team given his role in the passing
game. He’s like Theo Riddick with more volume.
The Colts were hoping to get Marlon Mack back after he practiced
on a limited basis last week, but he has been ruled out again.
With Robert Turbin returning from suspension, the waters become
even more muddied. Wilkins has been so bad that Turbin could immediately
find himself touching the ball double-digit times. The Patriots
are allowing 4.5 yards per carry to opposing rushers, but it’s
unlikely the Colts have much success on the ground in this matchup.
They just don’t have the offensive line push or the running
talent to do so.
Game Thoughts: In what was largely a bounce back game
for the Patriots, Tom Brady still doesn’t look like Tom
Brady. He threw for 274 yards and three touchdowns, but added
two interceptions against the Dolphins. Josh Gordon made his debut,
but predictably played limited snaps at just 22% but his opportunity
should increase going forward. Rob Gronkowski left the game with
an ankle injury and I wouldn’t be concerned about him being
ready to play Sunday, but this game is on Thursday. I still think
Gronk plays, but if he doesn’t, note that Brady averages
less than four fewer fantasy points per game without Gronk in
The good news is that Julian Edelman is returning from suspension.
Edelman should step right in as a target monster given Gordon’s
unfamiliarity with the offense and should provide some stability
for the passing game where Chris Hogan has failed. Dwayne Allen
caught one pass for negative four yards last week, yet still saw
more targets (two) than Hogan (one). The Colts have allowed 268
passing yards per game, but only five passing touchdowns. The
latter is not in line with the former. Given the high implied
team total (31), the Patriots should have their choice of how
they want to score this week.
IND FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.14
IND FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.18
IND FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.23
IND FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.9
Running Game Thoughts: In Sony Michel’s first game without
Rex Burkhead, he displayed true workhorse potential. Michel handled
25 carries, rattling off 112 yards and a touchdown. Unfortunately
for Michel owners, he is going to be very game script and touchdown
dependent as he was out-snapped by James White (49% for White,
41% for Michel) and did not see a single target. White, on the
other hand, led the team in targets (10), receptions (eight),
and yards (68). He is looking like an every week starter even
in Non-PPR formats.
Given the immense positive game script the Patriots experienced
last week, White’s usage is extremely encouraging. The only
potential concern is how much Edelman’s return impacts White’s
target count. Through the first three games, the Colts were one
of the worst teams against pass catching RBs, allowing 80.3 yards
per game to running backs through the air. The Colts can’t
be less competitive than the Dolphins were last week so it should
be another White game for the Patriots.
Game Thoughts: Fresh off of one of the most impressive
performances of his career in which he threw for 388 yards and
a pair of touchdowns against the Jets, Blake Bortles presents
legitimate QB1 upside this week against a terrible Chiefs defense.
Even after holding Case Keenum to zero touchdowns this past week,
the Chiefs have already given up eight passing touchdowns and
1,372 passing yards - second most in the NFL - so far this season.
They’ve also only forced two interceptions despite opposing
teams needing to pass the ball heavily to even stay in games against
Bortles always has the risk of completely flopping, but he and
the Jaguars passing game weapons could be in for a big fantasy
day if the Chiefs offense continues to put up points like they
have in other games this season. The unfortunate thing from a
pass catching standpoint is that the Jaguars have not committed
to passing the ball to anyone in specific. Five players on the
team - including tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins and T.J. Yeldon
along with Dede Westbrook, Keelan Cole and Donte Moncrief - have
seen 18 or more targets already in 2018, but none of them have
seen more than 28 targets come their way. This makes it very difficult
to predict which of the players is going to produce against this
Kansas City secondary, although all of the receivers have the
upside to finish as WR3s here in Week 5. Seferian-Jenkins hasn’t
yet reached even 30 yards this season but there is a chance he
does something against a Chiefs defense that has given up the
fourth-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends.
KC FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.7
KC FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.2
KC FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.17
KC FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.8
Running Game Thoughts: With Leonard Fournette out, it looks like
T.J. Yeldon will again be in line for a heavy touch count in Week
5. Yeldon was a bit banged up coming out of Sunday’s game
against the Jets in which he touched the ball 21 times for 100
total yards and two total touchdowns. Yeldon’s high usage
in the passing game makes him a decent low-end Flex play even
when Fournette is healthy, but when he’s also getting the
carries, Yeldon is a viable low-end RB1 even in non-PPR formats.
This is particularly true in Week 5 when he’ll be against
a Kansas City defense that has given up the most PPR fantasy points
to opposing running backs so far this season. The Chiefs have
been run over by the 49ers and Broncos in back-to-back weeks and
Yeldon will look to make it three in a row in what is one of the
best matchups he’ll face all season.
Game Thoughts: He failed to throw multiple touchdowns
for the first time in 2018 this past week, but Patrick Mahomes
is still red hot heading into this Week 5 matchup against an excellent
Jaguars defense. Mahomes finished Week 4’s contest against
the Broncos with 304 yards and a touchdown in the air along with
his first rushing touchdown of the season, and he has now scored
15 total touchdowns while still having not turned the ball over.
The Jacksonville defense is still the best fantasy defense against
opposing quarterbacks in 2018, however, and Mahomes might not
be the rock-solid QB1 that he has been in other games.
Jacksonville has given up just three passing touchdowns in four
games this season - two of which came from Tom Brady back in Week
2. They’ve held their other three opponents to a total of
just one passing score. There really isn’t a weak point
in this secondary as they’ve held opposing wide receivers
and tight ends in check as well. Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill
see too many targets to not be in fantasy lineups but it’s
unlikely both of them will be successful in this matchup. With
Hill likely to see shadow coverage from Jalen Ramsey, the downside
is much lower for all Kansas City offensive players in this difficult
matchup, but they’ve been the hottest offense in the league
so it’d be tough to find a way to bench Mahomes, Kelce or
Hill. Sammy Watkins (hamstring), however, should be on benches
this week as he still faces a very tough matchup and doesn’t
see nearly the volume that the other two do.
JAC FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.32
JAC FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.28
JAC FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.32
JAC FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.28
Running Game Thoughts: He continues to be used very minimally
in this new-look Kansas City passing game, but running back Kareem
Hunt still has plenty of upside as he showed this past week when
he took 19 carries for 121 yards and a touchdown. He hadn’t
gone over 75 rushing yards prior to this past week, but Hunt has
now touched the ball between 16 and 22 times in all four games.
That consistent workload was something we saw dip in the middle
of Hunt’s rookie season of 2017 but the Chiefs have been
set on giving Hunt his touches so far. He hasn’t been nearly
as productive as he was as a rookie, but a lot of that is due
to the extraordinary touchdown efficiency in the passing game.
Some of that is bound to regress which would naturally give Hunt
more goal line touches, so the three touchdowns he’s scored
over the past two weeks seem more like the norm, rather than the
Hunt’s matchup in Week 4 against the Jaguars is a tough
one, but the Jaguars also haven’t faced much in the way
of productive running games so far this season. The Chiefs offense
is still going to go through their passing attack, but Hunt should
still be in line for a solid workload which gives him a solid
enough floor to still be a low-end RB1 in this matchup.
Game Thoughts: The Titans did play bonus football last
week, but it’s nonetheless encouraging that Marcus Mariota
was able to air it out 43 times to the tune of 344 yards and two
touchdowns against one interception. We finally got the Corey
Davis breakout game. Davis dominated targets with 15, catching
nine for 161 yards and the walk-off touchdown in overtime. Taywan
Taylor and Dion Lewis each saw nine targets as well.
It is difficult to know what to make of this matchup with the
Bills. It is safe to assume the Bills will be awful and the Titans
will not have to throw as much as they did last week. The Bills
have given up eight passing touchdowns and allow 77.2 yards per
game to opposing WR1s, but they’ve been involved in four
very noncompetitive contests. Davis should be fine regardless,
but I’m not sure there will be enough volume for Taylor
to produce as well.
BUF FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.12
BUF FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.6
BUF FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.22
BUF FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.10
Running Game Thoughts: Is it time to drop Derrick Henry? We’re
getting there. The only reason I would caution holding off is
to see how he performs in a projected positive game script situation
this week. Henry has yet to top 57 yards rushing in a game, hasn’t
scored all season, and is a nothing in the passing game with just
three receptions. He was out snapped by Dion Lewis 68% - 39% last
week. The Bills have allowed five rushing touchdowns this season
so if he can’t produce this week, you can let him go. Lewis,
on the other hand, has been much more involved, but still isn’t
a reliable weekly option. The Bills are allowing 56 yards per
game to opposing RBs through the air but I’m just not sure
how much the Titans will need to throw. There are a lot of uncertainties
here, which makes all Titans risky plays.
Game Thoughts: The entire purpose of analyzing matchups
is to focus on how the opposing defense will impact the performance
of the offense. For the Bills, the opposing defense does not matter
– they are going to make any defense look good. Josh Allen
is one of the worst quarterbacks on an NFL roster right now. He
completed fewer than 50% of his passes last week and threw two
interceptions while taking seven sacks. In addition to being terrible
himself, his supporting cast is just as bad. Kelvin Benjamin caught
just one of his six targets last week. Zay Jones and Charles Clay
led the team with four receptions each. Simply put, the Titans
defense will be an elite play as the entire Bills passing attack
needs to be on the waiver wire. There is nothing here in real
life or fantasy.
TEN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.21
TEN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.29
TEN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.8
TEN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.29
Running Game Thoughts: I still think there’s
juice left in LeSean McCoy but he’s in a bad situaion. Defenses
actually haven’t been stacking the box against McCoy, facing
off against a stacked box just 4.8% of the time and is seventh
in the league in light front carry rate at 61.9%. Unfortunately,
the Bills offensive line is 24th in adjusted line yards and just
can’t generate a push for McCoy. He has yet to see a goal
line carry this year, largely because the Bills can’t get
close enough. McCoy has played in three of the Bills’ four
games and yet to reach double-digit carries. The volume would
be there if the team wasn’t mired in negative game script.
The Titans are allowing 4.9 yards per carry, but I just don’t
know how much those stats matter against a Bills offense that
would struggle in the CFL.
Game Thoughts: It’s difficult to get excited about
anyone in the Giants passing game. Eli Manning has struggled through
four starts, most notably in a clean pocket last week against
the New Orleans Saints. While his numbers have been less than
elite, he has recorded 37.8 pass attempts per game this season.
The Carolina Panthers have been an average defense against the
pass, allowing 246.7 passing yards per game but it’s impossible
to trust Manning, even if he does come with some hidden upside,
especially in a game that New York should be losing.
Odell Beckham has struggled a bit this season, but he’s
still averaging 11.3 targets per game, including three games with
double digit targets. Beckham has failed to find the end zone,
but he ranks second on the team in red zone targets (4). Sterling
Shepard has been the only bigger red zone threat, recording six
targets inside-the-20. In his only full game without Evan Engram
on the field, Shepard posted a 10/77/1 line on 10 targets. He
should see a similar target share again this week. Rhett Ellison
has taken over Engram’s snaps, but he’s more of a
blocking tight end than a receiving threat.
CAR FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.13
CAR FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.22
CAR FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.24
CAR FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.7
Running Game Thoughts: Saquon Barkley has been an elite option
this season, scoring 22+ fantasy points (PPR) in each of his four
games. The Giants should be playing from behind, which could limit
Barkley’s carries but he ranks second on the team with 35
targets, and he is averaging 6.8 receptions per game this season.
Barkley has proven that he comes with a high floor, although this
may not be the best matchup for his ceiling. The Panthers have
given up one 100-yard rushing game this season to Tevin Coleman
back in Week 2.
Game Thoughts: Cam Newton struggled in his first game
this season, but has caught fire since. Overall, he’s averaging
215.3 passing yards and 1.7 passing touchdowns per game. He’s
also averaging 45.3 yards and 1.0 touchdown on the ground. The
Giants have found plenty of success against quarterbacks this
season, allowing them to throw for only 228.8 yards per game.
With that being said, Newton’s dual-threat ability makes
him relatively matchup proof. The only major concern for Newton
is that Carolina gets out to an early lead and runs the majority
of the second half.
There isn’t much to get excited about in the Carolina passing
attack, but Devin Funchess leads the way. He’s averaging
a 4.7 - 61.7 - 0.3 line on 7.0 targets per game. He comes with
upside because of his touchdown potential, but his lack of volume
lowers his floor. D.J. Moore, Jarius Wright, and Torrey Smith
are splitting the remaining wide receiver targets with Smith being
the most involved in recent weeks. Ian Thomas has taken over at
tight end for Greg Olsen, but he hasn’t seen enough volume
to be considered. The Carolina passing attack is one of the most
difficult to predict, and no one outside of Newton and Funchess
should be in your starting lineup.
NYG FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.25
NYG FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.11
NYG FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.29
NYG FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.23
Running Game Thoughts: Christian McCaffrey has been an elite
running back this season, and the offense is centered on him.
Through three games, he’s averaging 142.6 total yards on
22.7 touches (7.3 receptions) per game. Most importantly, McCaffrey
is averaging over 20 fantasy points without finding the end zone
this season. C.J. Anderson has stolen a few touches from McCaffrey,
but he’s averaging only 4.3 touches per game. This team,
and running attack, is led by Newton and McCaffrey, who continue
to make tremendous options on a weekly basis. The Giants were
beaten up on the ground by Alvin Kamara last week and also gave
up 100 rushing yards to the tandem of Leonard Fournette and T.J.
Yeldon in Week 1. They represent a neutral to positive matchup
Game Thoughts: After a 3-0 start that included an impressive
opening week win over Tennessee and a road victory against the
Jets at Met Life Stadium, the Dolphins came crashing back down
to Earth after a humbling 38-7 beatdown at the hands of the Patriots
on Sunday. Ryan Tannehill completed just 11 of 20 passes for 100
yards and one interception as the Dolphins managed just 191 yards
of total offense in the game.
From a fantasy perspective, Tannehill has been a serviceable
QB2 in the right matchup, but his 94 pass attempts in four games
ranks 27th among qualified starting QBs, and the Dolphins are
not sustaining drives to make Tannehill or the other skill position
players on the team strong starts.
Kenny Stills is No.1 WR on the team with 16 catches for 274 yards
and two touchdowns on 24 targets. Stills continues to be a favorite
target of Tannehill’s and the outside threat to score on
a deep pass, while first-year Dolphin Albert Wilson has made a
few splash plays with 12 catches for 161 yards and two touchdowns.
Danny Amendola gives Tannehill a security blanket but has little
value outside of deep PPR formats.
On paper, the Week 5 matchup against a Bengals secondary that
allows the 10th most fantasy points to wide receivers, including
six double-digit fantasy performances in four weeks, looks like
promising for Stills and Wilson owners. But keep in mind that
the Bengals’ stats are a bit skewed by last week’s
shootout against the Falcons, and the Dolphins pose far less of
a challenge than the Atlanta passing attack.
One area that the Bengals have struggled is defending pass-catching
tight ends, with Eric Ebron, Mark Andrews, and Logan Paulsen all
catching touchdown passes this season. If there were ever a good
week for rookie Mike Gesicki to score his first NFL touchdown,
perhaps this week against the Bengals would be it. Gesicki’s
limited use in the offense (just seven targets in four games)
makes him a risky start in anything other than deep leagues and
tournament DFS. Although, if A.J. Derby is unable to play due
to a foot injury, Gesicki would be the primary tight end against
the Bengals and could garner more targets.
CIN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.4
CIN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.13
CIN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.10
CIN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.5
Running Game Thoughts: To say that the Dolphin
rushing attack has been a disappointment would be a vast understatement,
especially for Kenyan Drake owners expecting the former Alabama
running back to build on his breakout second half of 2017. The
Dolphins ranked 30th in fantasy points scored by RBs and Drake
currently sits as the No.48 RB in fantasy at 5.6 points per game.
For some reason head coach Adam Gase continues to use 35-year-old
Frank Gore in a timeshare with Drake instead of giving the younger
and more talented back a decent workload. Gore is averaging barely
four yards per carry and does not appear to have much burst left
in his legs. Although Drake has also failed to get much done on
the ground (3.2 YPC), 33 carries in four games is not enough work
for him to get into the flow of games.
Perhaps this will be the game when Drake breaks out and takes
a more significant role of the offense. Three running backs, including
Ito Smith last week in limited usage, reached double-digit points
against the Bengals. From a strategic standpoint, it would make
sense for Gase to try to establish the run and passes out of the
backfield to sustain drives and keep the potent Bengal offense
on the sideline. But the return of suspended linebacker Vontaze
Burfict should bolster the Bengal run defense, making it even
more difficult for the Dolphins to get their struggling run game
Game Thoughts: Andy Dalton is well on his way to set
career highs in passing yards, passing touchdowns, and completions
this season. The Red Rifle’s 26.5 average fantasy points
per game are nearly three points per game better than his banner
year in 2013 when he finished as the No.3 fantasy quarterback.
One of the most impressive aspects of Dalton’s performance
to date is the fact that he has been a consistent performer all
four weeks this season as the No.5 ranked QB on our FFToday.com
Two big reasons why Dalton has been successful is the improved
play of the Bengals offensive line, including new left tackle
Cordy Glenn, and the evolution of Tyler Boyd as a viable No.2
WR threat opposite of A.J. Green. Similar to how Mohamed Sanu
gave Dalton another option in the passing game three years ago,
Boyd has the ability to stretch the field and be a possession
receiver in the middle of the field.
Unfortunately for Dalton and the Bengals, tight end Tyler Eifert
suffered a gruesome ankle injury and will miss the remainder of
the season. Tyler Kroft and C.J. Uzomah will need to step up for
Dalton and give him a third option and a chain-moving big bodied
receiver on third down.
Talented pass-catching running back Joe Mixon has been a limited
participant in practice over the past few days and appears to
be on pace to make his return to the field on Sunday after missing
the previous two games with a knee injury. Mixon, along with Giovani
Bernard, provides one of the more potent pass-catching options
out of the backfield in the NFL.
Look for cornerback Xavien Howard to shadow Green on the outside,
leaving Boyd to work on the opposite side against Bobby McCain.
The Dolphins boast a talented young secondary that has allowed
just three receiving touchdowns all year to opposing wideouts.
While I anticipate Green will approach double-digit targets, Boyd’s
matchup against McCain is far more attractive, and it would not
be a surprise if Boyd finishes the game as the top fantasy performer.
MIA FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.23
MIA FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.4
MIA FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.25
MIA FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.22
Running Game Thoughts: Joe Mixon appears ready to return to the
field after missing the previous two games with a knee injury.
Giovani Bernard filled in well in Mixon’s stead with three
rushing touchdowns and 130 rushing yards against Carolina and
Atlanta. It appears as though the two players will switch places
this week as Bernard has been limited with a knee injury and is
questionable to play, while Mixon has been limited participant
in both Wednesday and Thursday’s practice and appears as
he will play against the Dolphins.
Mixon owners should be licking their chops at the prospect of
a home game against a Miami unit that allows the fourth-most points
to opposing running backs. Dion Lewis, Bilal Powell, Marshawn
Lynch, James White, and Sony Michel all reached double figures
in fantasy points against Miami. Not only have running backs found
success running the ball against the Dolphins, but Miami is tied
for second in receiving touchdowns allowed and only Kansas City,
Atlanta, and San Francisco have allowed more receiving yards to
With Eifert out and A.J. Green likely blanked by Howard, it would
be wise of the Bengals and offensive coordinator Bill Lazor to
focus on a run-heavy scheme mixed with screen passes and play
action passes to Green and Boyd.
The Dolphins enter the game bruised and broken after last week’s
beatdown in Foxboro. Starting defensive Cameron Wake is dealing
with a knee injury and has not practiced all week, while cornerback
Bobby McCain has also been out with a knee injury of his own.
Game Thoughts: Joe Flacco is quietly having his best
season as a pro with 1252 passing yards and eight passing touchdowns
through four games. The former first round pick out of Delaware
is averaging 17.1 fantasy points per game as the No.12 fantasy
quarterback, ahead of other more highly touted fantasy assets
like Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Russell Wilson, and Andrew Luck.
Flacco has yet to post a week with less than 13 fantasy points,
and he reached 360 passing yards in two of his four games. By
comparison, Rodgers, Brady, and Wilson have yet to post a single
300-yard game this season.
Although the Browns enter Week 5 as the No.25 ranked unit in
fantasy points allowed to opposing QBs, those stats are somewhat
skewed by a sloppy weather game Week 1 against the Steelers in
which Ben Roethlisberger threw three picks and a Week 3 home game
against the Jets and rookie Sam Darnold. Greg Williams’
defense gave up 437 passing yards and four touchdowns last week
to Derek Carr and the Raiders and should be a decent matchup for
Flacco and the Ravens passing game.
Look for the Ravens to lean on their trio of tight ends to exploit
an area of weakness in the Browns secondary. Jesse James posted
60 yards Week1 against the Browns and Jared Cook dominated with
110 receiving yards and two touchdowns last week in Oakland.
Three wide receivers managed to score double-digit points against
the Browns over the previous four games, highlighted by a two-touchdown
game by Michael Thomas in Week 2. Of the three WRs on the Ravens
who possess fantasy value, John Brown lined up against rookie
Denzel Ward is a matchup that Baltimore may want to exploit. Ward
has been up and down this season, and the downfield speed of Brown
may allow the speedy wideout to get behind the secondary for a
CLE FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.17
CLE FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.9
CLE FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.11
CLE FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.11
Running Game Thoughts: If the red flag was not waiving for Alex
Collins owners before Week 4’s goal line fumble against
the Steelers, it certainly was on Tuesday when head coach John
Harbaugh told reporters that Collins’ fumbling issues need
to be addressed.
With a paltry 3.5 yard per carry average on 45 carries for 158
yards, Collins would be considered a bust at this point without
the benefit of two rushing and one receiving touchdown. A perceived
fumbling issue on a team with other options at running back is
not something fantasy owners who used a fourth-round pick on Collins
want to hear.
On a positive note for Collins owners, Buck Allen is not exactly
tearing up the stat sheet as well with a 2.4 YPC average on 26
carries. Although it should be noted that a sizable number of
Allen’s carries are goal line and short yardage. Look for
Allen to continue to be the primary guy on the goal line for Harbaugh
in this game and in the near future.
Allen is an interesting RB2 or flex play in deeper leagues against
a Cleveland team that allows the 11th most points to opposing
running backs. Even more attractive is the fact that the Ravens
boast the fourth-most red zone possessions this year and the Browns
are tied with the 49ers for allowing the most red zone possessions
on defense, giving Allen a decent chance of getting multiple redzone
touches on Sunday.
Game Thoughts: Baker Mayfield’s first NFL start
was not exactly awe-inspiring based on the matchup against a Raiders
defense lacking any talent in the secondary. The 2018 first overall
pick threw for 295 yards on 21 of 41 passing, with two touchdowns
and two interceptions for 10.3 fantasy points.
In Mayfield’s defense, the Browns receiving corps did not
help out the QB with numerous drops, including a would-be touchdown
by butterfingered Antonio Calloway. Even sure-handed Jarvis Landry
has dropped a few passes from Mayfield as the two continue to
This week’s matchup is going to be the most challenging
task to date for Mayfield, as the Ravens have allowed the third-fewest
points to opposing quarterbacks this season and only five passing
touchdowns in four games. In addition, the Ravens will get some
reinforcements in the secondary with the return of starting cornerback
Jimmy Smith, who is back with the team after a four-game suspension.
The only team to find success passing against the Ravens this
season was Cincinnati. Andy Dalton and A.J. Green made it a point
of emphasis to target Marlon Humphrey on the outside, Smith’s
replacement at right corner for the first quarter of the season.
With Smith back on in the lineup, look for offensive coordinator
Todd Haley to move Jarvis Landry around in both the slot and in
motion to create opportunities against Tavon Young in the middle
of the field. Landry owners will obviously start him, and the
targets will be there, but reaching the end zone against Baltimore
may be a difficult task.
BAL FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.31
BAL FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.30
BAL FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.18
BAL FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.26
Running Game Thoughts: The running game in Cleveland has been
a huge improvement for head coach Hue Jackson as Carlos Hyde,
Duke Johnson, and rookie Nick Chubb have combined to score the
fourth-most fantasy points this season, behind only the Chargers,
Saints, and Redskins.
Hyde continues to be the workhorse, and Johnson is the primary
passing-down option, while Chubb only works in as a change of
pace and rest replacement for Hyde. Those roles could start to
change, as Jackson mentioned in his press conference this week
that Chubb has been impressive and has earned more work in the
Regardless of how the carries break down, finding success on
the ground against the Ravens may be a difficult task. Only the
Bears have allowed fewer fantasy points to opposing RBs than the
Ravens, and only Pittsburgh has allowed fewer passing yards out
of the backfield.
Haley will continue to lean on his running game as a way to create
play-action passing opportunities and limit the number of passes
by Mayfield in the first half of the game. But a negative game
script created by the Ravens taking an early lead could give Johnson
more work this week than in previous contests.
On the injury front, the Ravens enter the game relatively healthy,
with the only injury of concern to starting cornerback Brandon
Carr. The veteran CB did not practice on Wednesday due to a knee
injury but is expected to play on Sunday.
Game Thoughts: Aaron Rodgers is off to a slow start of
the season with 7 passing touchdowns and 1130 passing yards in
four games. The former MVP has yet to throw for more than 300
yards in a game, and he has just one three-touchdown game on the
year. As a result, Rodgers enters Week 5 of the regular season
as the No.19 ranked quarterback in averaged fantasy points per
game, behind mostly undrafted players like Joe Flacco, Derek Carr,
and Mitchell Trubisky. Not exactly the type of production that
owners expected from the consensus No.1 ranked QB in all formats
entering the season.
Rodgers’ struggles naturally have negatively affected the
pass-catching options for Green Bay, as the wide receiving corps
led by Davante Adams and Geronimo Allison have combined to score
the 10th-most fantasy points in the league, just ahead of the
Miami Dolphins and Baltimore Ravens.
On a positive note, Rodgers appeared to be much more mobile on
Sunday as he recovers from a knee sprain. Mobility and the ability
to extend plays is what makes Rodgers so difficult to defend,
and not having the option to move outside the pocket as in previous
years has hurt Rodgers’ production.
The Lions have been a Jekyll and Hyde unit on the defensive side
of the ball so far in 2018. Week 1 they made Sam Darnold look
like the second coming of Joe Montana, only to then limit Tom
Brady to 133 passing yards and one touchdown two weeks later.
Matt Patricia’s defense then followed up with a dud performance
on the road against the Cowboys, giving up 255 yards and two passing
touchdowns to Dak Prescott.
Will we see the defensive unit that humbled Tom Brady and the
Patriots or the one that gave up 48 points at home to the Jets?
I imagine it will fall somewhere in the middle, with Rodgers and
the Packers looking to take advantage of Jimmy Graham on linebackers
Jarard Davis and Christian Jones.
Injuries to Randall Cobb and Geronimo Allison limit the effectiveness
of the passing attack this week as Cobb missed last week with
a hamstring and Allison is in the concussion protocol. If Allison
is out, Marquez Valdes-Scantling becomes an interesting sleeper
in deep formats and DFS.
On the other side of the ball, safety Quandre Diggs suffered
a broken hand last week against the Cowboys and will likely be
sidelined for a few weeks. Second string strong safety Tavon Wilson
will also likely miss the game with a back injury, leaving third-string
Tracy Walker to start.
DET FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.28
DET FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.3
DET FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.31
DET FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.16
Running Game Thoughts: As the No.23 ranked running back group
in the NFL averaging 14.6 fantasy points per game, the trio of
Jamaal Williams, Ty Montgomery, and Aaron Jones has not done much
to help take pressure off the passing game. Of the three, Williams
has been used the most with 162 yards on 47 carries, but he has
been ineffective at best and has yet to score a touchdown. Montgomery
has flashed in the passing game and could be used more as a receiver
until Allison and Cobb return from injury.
The most explosive back in the committee has been Aaron Jones,
the second-year back from UTEP who has averaged 6.3 yards per
carry in his two games back from suspension. Hopefully, head coach
Mike McCarthy will see on film what everyone else has seen and
will start featuring Jones out of the backfield.
If Jones starts to receive the majority of carries, he should
find success on Sunday against a Lions defense that has allowed
the most rushing yards on the season and five total touchdowns
to opposing running backs in four games. Isaiah Crowell, Matt
Brieda, James White, and Ezekiel Elliott each managed to reach
double figures in fantasy points against Detroit, highlighted
by Zeke’s 30-point monster game last week in Dallas. If
there were ever a week for the Packers to get the run game going
it would be this week against the Lions. Let’s just hope
that McCarthy does the right thing and let Jones take the lead.
Game Thoughts: Matthew Stafford is quietly off to a strong
start to the season, with 95 fantasy points in four games. The
former first overall pick in the 2009 NFL draft is averaging 23.8
fantasy points per game, which is on pace to be his second-best
fantasy season after his breakout 2011 campaign in which he threw
for 41 touchdowns and averaged 26.5 FPts/G.
Despite his strong start, Stafford currently ranks as the No.17
quarterback in terms of fantasy points per game, behind Andy Dalton,
Mitchell Trubisky, Blake Bortles, and Joe Flacco. The fact that
Stafford is on pace to have his second-best fantasy season and
is not ranked as a QB1 is a testament to the overall change in
scoring in today’s NFL and the changes in rules over the
past few seasons to benefit offenses.
The trio of Golden Tate, Kenny Golladay, and Marvin Jones has
flourished this season as the No.5 wide receiving corps at 34.8
fantasy points per game. The three wideouts have benefitted from
Stafford’s big yardage and touchdown totals over the past
three weeks and the absence of a viable pass-catching tight end
in the offense.
Tate leads all Lions wide receivers with 14.8 fantasy points
per game, while second-year breakout candidate Golladay is second
with 23 catches for 330 yards and two touchdowns. Marvin Jones
is well off his career-year season that he posted last year when
he scored nine touchdowns on a career-high 61 catches for 1101
yards. Of the three, Tate possesses the highest floor, while Golladay’s
big play ability gives him the highest ceiling.
The Green Bay defense under new defensive coordinator Mike Pettine
enters Week 5 ranked sixth in total defense and allows the 25th
fewest passing yards. Aside from Kirk Cousins’ 425-yard,
four-touchdown performance in Week 2, the Packers have allowed
just two passing touchdowns to Mitchell Trubisky, Alex Smith,
and Josh Allen.
GB FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.20
GB FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.24
GB FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.19
GB FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.14
Running Game Thoughts: The Detroit Lions rushing game continues
to be a frustration for fantasy owners and one that should be
avoided if all possible. Rookie Kerryon Johnson looked great last
week against the Cowboys with nine carries for 55 yards and a
score, but for some odd reason, head coach Matt Patricia continues
to give LeGarrette Blount an equal number of carries. Blount is
slow, indecisive, and often misses cutback lanes, but he continues
to be used at the same volume as Johnson despite averaging 2.7
yards per carry.
Johnson will enter high-end running back two conversations when
the Lions pull their collective heads out of their rear ends and
give the rookie more carries. Until that happens, Johnson is a
flex play based on matchups.
The Packers rank 24th in points allowed to opposing running backs
this season. Outside of a surprising 120/2 game by the ageless
Adrian Peterson Week 3, Green Bay has not allowed another rushing
touchdown or 100 yards to a running back. Dalvin Cook and Latavius
Murray failed to do much in Week 2, and LeSean McCoy and Chris
Ivory combined for 39 yards on 11 carries last week at Lambeau.
Game Thoughts: It is never encouraging when your quarterback
cannot manage any sort of offense against the worst pass defense
in the league. That is what we got from Case Keenum on Monday
night. He threw for 245 yards and an interception while recording
zero touchdowns against the Chiefs. Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius
Thomas each saw seven targets with Sanders out-producing Thomas
like he typically does 45 yards to 24 yards. Thomas’ receptions
have kept him serviceable in PPR leagues, but he’s been
useless in Non-PPR formats, having last scored in Week 1 and failing
to exceed 63 yards in a game this season. Sanders is the more
explosive player and is adding value on the ground with rushes
of 18 yards and 35 yards in each of his last two games, respectively.
A name of relevance is Jeff Heuerman. Such is the state of the
tight end in fantasy football right now. Heuerman saw seven targets,
which makes him someone worth starting as any TE that can get
you’re a handful of receptions and about 50 yards is useful.
The Jets are allowing 11.2 yards per reception to opposing pass
catchers, but are one of just three teams to have recorded more
interceptions than passing touchdowns allowed. Granted, a lot
of that is due to Matt Stafford in Week 1, but the fact remains
this Jets pass defense hasn’t been terrible, despite getting
wrecked by Blake Bortles last week. It was the field stretchers
that did the damage as opposed to the underneath guys. If that
holds, this will once again be a Sanders game.
NYJ FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.22
NYJ FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.14
NYJ FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.16
NYJ FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.30
Running Game Thoughts: Royce Freeman owners may be encouraged
by the performance he put on last week, and it was impressive,
with 67 yards on eight carries. The problem is Freeman played
just 27% of the snaps, behind both Devontae Booker (33%) and Phillip
Lindsay (40%). Lindsay was nearly as efficient as Freeman with
69 yards on 12 carries. Both Freeman and Lindsay found the end
zone as well. Lindsay did catch two passes and can always supplement
his rushing totals with some receiving. The same cannot be said
for Freeman, who will continue to need touchdowns to produce.
The Jets allow just 3.8 yards per carry to opposing rushers,
but have allowed four rushing touchdowns this season. Lindsay
is an every week starter, but with the Broncos clearly trying
to hide Keenum, Freeman is always a decent bet to find his way
into the end zone.
Game Thoughts: I don’t want to bury Sam Darnold
for struggling against the Jaguars, but he’s now thrown
for under 200 yards in three out of four games and has thrown
more interceptions (five) than touchdowns (four). Somehow, despite
Darnold’s measly 167 yards passing, Quincy Enunwa still
produced. If Enunwa can manage 4-66 in the worst of matchups,
he is proving his value as a legitimate weekly fantasy starter
The Broncos have an average pass defense, but really struggle
against the TE. They are bottom three in footballoutsiders DVOA
rankings against the position. Enunwa kind of operates as the
Jets TE and he could be in for a big game as outside receivers
Robby Anderson and Jermaine Kearse continue to provide no fantasy
value. Just be sure to keep tabs on Enunwa’s status after
he showed up on Thursday’s injury report with a hip issue.
DEN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.16
DEN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.12
DEN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.27
DEN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.3
Running Game Thoughts: Erase last week’s performances from
the books. The Jaguars went ahead early and the Jets had to abandon
the run. That led to Isaiah Crowell managing as many yards as
you did on four carries. Bilal Powell led the team with 26 yards
on carries and also added 26 yards through the air on four receptions.
Powell is always the better fantasy bet because he and Crowell
split carries in neutral game situations while Powell dominates
snaps in negative game script.
At home against the Broncos, the Jets should be able to avoid
having to play catch up. The Broncos have allowed five rushing
touchdowns this season, so that gives us some hope for Crowell
to be able to punch one in, but I wouldn’t expect an efficient
game against a team allowing just 3.9 yards per carry.
Game Thoughts: With Patrick Mahomes and the high-flying
Chiefs offense taking up the majority of attention in the fantasy
football community, Matt Ryan is quietly having an MVP-quality
season and is on pace to score more fantasy points than when he
won the MVP award in 2016.
Three significant factors are helping fuel the monster season
for Ryan and the Falcon offense. First, the Atlanta defense is
decimated by injury and simply do not have enough talent to stop
other teams from scoring, which has forced Ryan and the Falcon
offense to play keep up. Second, the emergence of Calvin Ridley
has given Ryan another passing weapon outside of Julio Jones,
and Ryan is no longer forcing the ball to Jones and making suspect
throws. Lastly, the Falcons and offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian
have figured out their red zone woes and no longer rank in the
bottom quarter of teams in red zone efficiency.
With the Falcons heading north to take on a Steelers pass defense
that allows the most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks and
second-most points to opposing wide receivers, there is little
reason to think that Ryan won’t continue to build on his
impressive season. Mahomes, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Joe Flacco, and
even Tyrod Taylor, have all managed to put up at least 25 fantasy
points against Pittsburgh this season. The only player on the
Steelers secondary who has played well this season is cornerback
Joe Haden, and even he has been torched by No.1 WRs this season.
Both Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley are must-starts in all formats,
as is Tevin Coleman and Devonta Freeman, who is likely going to
make his return to the field after missing the previous three
games with a knee injury. In deeper leagues, owners should consider
taking a flyer on Mohamed Sanu, the No.3 wide receiving option
on the team. Sanu has 15 targets over his last two games, with
147 receiving yards and ten catches.
Austin Hooper is also an interesting play at tight end in deeper
leagues and DFS. The Steelers have allowed the most catches (30)
to opposing tight ends and are tied for second with three touchdowns
allowed in four weeks. Hooper is the fourth and often fifth option
in the offense and has yet to garner more than five targets in
a game, but he could be a great high risk and high reward play
for owners hurting at the tight end position.
PIT FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.1
PIT FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.26
PIT FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.2
PIT FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.2
Running Game Thoughts: Considering how well the Atlanta passing
offense has done over the first quarter of the season, the rushing
attack of Tevin Coleman and Ito Smith has been somewhat disappointing.
The duo rank 21st in fantasy points scored as a unit, with two
combined rushing touchdowns and 321 yards on the season.
The ground game should get a shot in the arm on Sunday with the
return of Devonta Freeman to the starting lineup after missing
the previous three games with a knee injury. Freeman’s hard
running style, particularly between the tackles, is something
that has been missing this season for Atlanta.
Although Sarkisian will look to establish the running game early,
the blueprint for beating the Steelers has been through the air
and not on the ground. No opposing running back has reached 100
yards in a game in 2018, and only Carlos Hyde week one managed
to score a touchdown on the ground vs. Pittsburgh.
Running backs have also failed to score many points in the passing
game, as Pittsburgh has allowed the fewest catches out of the
backfield this season. Part of this is due to the fact that teams
have found so much success passing downfield against the suspect
Steeler secondary, but also it is due to the strong outside linebacker
play of TJ Watt and Bud Dupree.
Game Thoughts: Just like his counterpart Matt Ryan, Ben
Roethlisberger is on pace to post career highs in passing yardage
and fantasy points per game. And just like Ryan, Big Ben is the
beneficiary of playing in a potent offense filled with skill position
players on a team with an awful defense that can’t stop
opponents from scoring.
Atlanta has allowed the fifth-most fantasy points this season,
with Cam Newton, Drew Brees, and Andy Dalton each scoring at least
30 fantasy points. Brees scored a season-high 44.5 points against
Atlanta Week 2, with 335 passing yards and three passing touchdowns,
along with two rushing touchdowns. The loss of Deion Jones, Keanu
Neal, and Ricardo Allen has decimated what could have been a strong
secondary, and opposing teams have taken advantage of Atlanta’s
Desmond Trufant will likely mirror Antonio Brown on the outside,
but Brown should be able to still get open and make plays for
fantasy owners. The player to watch is JuJu Smith-Schuster in
the slot against Isaiah Oliver or Brian Poole. Smith-Schuster
should once again be a target-monster for Ben and could be the
leading receiver in what projects to be a high-scoring game.
Another matchup to watch is running back James Conner catching
passes out of the backfield against a Falcon linebacking group
that has allowed the most catches to running backs over the past
two seasons. Without Jones to cover RBs, the Falcons do not match
up well and the Steelers will look to take advantage of that mismatch.
ATL FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.5
ATL FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.7
ATL FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.6
ATL FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.20
Running Game Thoughts: With Le’Veon Bell holding out for
a contract extension, James Connor put Steeler fans’ worries
to rest with 135 yards and two rushing touchdowns in monster 31.2-point
performance against the Browns Week 1. Since then, Connor has
looked fairly average, with just one rushing touchdown and 97
total rushing yards in his last three games combined. Game scripts
and ineffective running has drastically hurt Conner’s value,
and the news of Bell’s return to the team after the Week
7 bye will make Connor a short-term asset for the next two weeks.
On a positive note, the second-year running back should fare
well on Sunday against a Falcon team that allows the seventh-most
points to opposing running backs and the most catches to RBs out
of the backfield. Both Alvin Kamara and Christian McCaffrey posted
over 100 receiving yards against Atlanta, with the duo combining
to catch a ridiculous 29 passes in their two games. I doubt Connor
will reach double digits in targets and catches like CMC and Kamara,
but it would not be a surprise for Conner to post a career-high
in targets and catches on Sunday.
An ankle injury to defensive lineman Grady Jarrett should also
improve the chances of Connor having a big game on Sunday. Even
will the talented DL, Atlanta has struggled to keep opposing running
backs out of the end zone.
Game Thoughts: It’s been a miserable start to the
season for Oakland quarterback Derek Carr, but he finally got
things going in a positive direction this past week against the
Browns. Carr threw for 437 yards and four touchdown passes in
the overtime win and while he ended up throwing a pair of touchdowns,
he finally instilled some confidence for fantasy owners. Carr
himself isn’t worth trusting in standard one-quarterback
formats against a good Chargers defense but there is now reason
to have some hope for wide receiver Amari Cooper. Cooper has always
been wildly inconsistent, but this season has been particularly
brutal. Cooper has two games with fewer than 20 yards receiving
on three total catches, but his other two games - against Denver
and Cleveland - have produced 244 receiving yards on 18 receptions.
The bottom line is that Cooper has WR1 upside in any given week
but his downside remains a complete void on the fantasy scoreboard.
That’s why it’s wise to consider your own fantasy
situation when dealing with a player like him. If you think you
need a big game, consider starting Cooper as a WR2. Otherwise
it can often be wise to go with a more consistent option.
The player who fantasy owners have been most surprised by, though,
has been tight end Jared Cook who has re-taken his place atop
the fantasy tight end scoreboard after his eight-catch, 110-yard,
two touchdown performance against the Browns. Cook has caught
at least four passes in all four games this season and he leads
all Oakland pass catchers with 35 total targets. Cook is quickly
approaching elite fantasy tight end status and he’d already
be there if we didn’t have the long history of him teasing
fantasy owners only to disappoint us in the end.
The only other fantasy-relevant pass catcher in this Oakland
offense is Jordy Nelson, who has now caught a touchdown in each
of his past two games while totaling 218 receiving yards over
that span. Like Cooper, Nelson is still a very boom-or-bust type
of pass catcher but his upside makes him a decent option as a
WR3 or Flex play against a Chargers secondary that has given up
the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers so far
LAC FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.8
LAC FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.16
LAC FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.5
LAC FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.17
Running Game Thoughts: He might be old and he certainly has been
involved in his fair of collisions over the course of his career,
but there is absolutely no question that Oakland running back
Marshawn Lynch still had plenty of juice left. Lynch punished
the Browns for 130 yards on the ground this past week in his biggest
rushing performance since making his return to the league in 2017
and his highest total since Week 9 of the 2014 season. It wasn’t
fluky, either. Lynch showed tremendous burst and power on his
carries and has now re-emerged as a legitimate low-end RB1 option.
He’s touched the ball an average of 19.5 times per game
so far in 2018 and that number doesn’t seem likely to plummet
Fellow running back Jalen Richard is still the team’s primary
pass-catching weapon out of the backfield and Doug Martin is still
getting a handful of carries per week, but there’s no question
- Lynch is the workhorse in Oakland. The Chargers have done a
solid job against opposing running backs thus far, other than
Todd Gurley, but Lynch has a high enough floor that he should
be in most fantasy lineups this week.
Game Thoughts: Steady and reliable, Philip Rivers passed
John Elway this past week to become the eighth-most prolific passer
in the history of the NFL. Rivers has started 196 straight games
for the Chargers and while it’s been quite a few years since
he was truly an elite fantasy option, he has continued to be one
of the most trustworthy options on a week-to-week basis. Rivers
has now thrown for multiple touchdowns in all four games this
season, but perhaps the most important thing is that he’s
only thrown two interceptions. Keenan Allen has struggled a bit
this season but his 36 targets are still a sign that big things
are coming. He’s caught six or more passes in three of his
four games so it hasn’t been a disaster, but fantasy owners
should be excited about the possibility of a boom game from Allen
The Raiders have been torched by opposing passing games in 2018,
and particularly by slot receivers. Allen is the Chargers’
top pass catching option but he does a substantial amount of his
work out of the slot. Wide receiver Mike Williams is again a boom-or-bust
type of option. After catching six passes for 109 yards and three
touchdowns in Weeks 2 and 3, Williams stomped on the hearts of
fantasy owners in Week 4 when he caught just one pass for 15 yards
against the 49ers. He’s the only other receiver or tight
end who fantasy owners should be interested in this matchup, but
he’s still only a low-end WR3/Flex option until we see more
consistency from him.
OAK FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.15
OAK FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.8
OAK FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.7
OAK FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.18
Running Game Thoughts: There might not be a better one-two backfield
punch in the NFL right now than Los Angeles’ Melvin Gordon
and Austin Ekeler. Gordon has produced great fantasy games in
all four contests this season and is among the safest options
in fantasy on a weekly basis. His 24 receptions rank third in
the NFL and he’s still touching the ball on the ground at
a high rate as well. The Raiders have been beaten up on the ground
and that doesn’t look likely to stop this week. Gordon is
an elite play once again and Ekeler is even a solid PPR Flex option.
Game Thoughts: After a stinker against the Bills, the
Vikings offense bounced back in a big way against the Rams last
week. Kirk Cousins attempted 50 passes as the Vikings went pass
heavy, but this time he didn’t turn the ball over while
throwing for 422 yards and three touchdowns. 100 of Cousins’
189 pass attempts this season have gone in the direction of Adam
Thielen (56) or Stefon Diggs (44), both of whom went over 100
yards receiving last week.
The Eagles have been below average against the pass and just
gave up a 9-161-1 line to Corey Davis. Those numbers obviously
skew the average a bit, but the Eagles are allowing a league high
124.8 yards per game to opposing WR1s. While Thielen is clearly
the Vikings WR1, he runs a lot of his routes out of the slot so
Diggs could stand to benefit here. The Eagles have been lights
out against the TE though, allowing just 42.5 yards per game.
It could be another rough outing for Kyle Rudolph, who has seen
just 22 targets this season.
PHI FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.10
PHI FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.31
PHI FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.4
PHI FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.27
Running Game Thoughts: The Eagles are far more vulnerable against
the pass than against the run as they currently have footballoutsiders’
No.3 ranked run defense. The problem for the Vikings is they don’t
have a running game. After running the ball just four times against
the Bills, the Vikings followed that up with a whopping 13 rushing
plays against the Rams. Game script obviously contributes, but
the Vikings are a passing offense. Further complicating matters
is Dalvin Cook’s lingering hamstring injury. The matchup
is not great for Cook, who is coming off a 10-carry, 20-yard effort
where he played just 24% of the snaps. Latavius Murray has done
nothing in Cook’s stead. Over his last three games, he has
carried the ball eight times for a total of 22 yards and 19 of
those came in one game. If you can avoid starting Cook, you should
do so. If Cook were to sit, which I think is likely, I’m
not interested in the other Vikings RBs.
Game Thoughts: Carson Wentz looked far more comfortable
in his second game back, which is to be expected. Wentz completed
33 of 50 throws for 348 yards and two touchdowns. Zach Ertz led
the team with 10 receptions last week, but a returning Alshon
Jeffery was second with eight. Nelson Agholor saw 12 targets,
but only caught five of them. His upside is capped with Jeffery
back as Agholor will be relegated to more of an underneath guy.
It is difficult to take anything away from the Vikings defense
these last couple weeks. They had the fluky game against the Bills
and then had to endure the blitzkrieg that is the Rams offense.
No one can stop the Rams so let’s not hold that against
the Vikings. This is still a good defense and Xavier Rhodes is
a lockdown corner, who struggled with Davante Adams in Week 2,
but has otherwise been dominant. Jeffery no longer has the ability
to flat out beat defenders one on one so Wentz may look to Aghoor
and Ertz more this week. The Vikings are allowing 61.4 receiving
yards per game to opposing TEs and this includes the whopping
nine that Gerald Everett had last week as the Rams don’t
throw to anyone other than their top three WRs and Todd Gurley.
MIN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.6
MIN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.23
MIN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.9
MIN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.15
Running Game Thoughts: With Corey Clement and Darren Sproles out
of action, Jay Ajayi and Wendell Smallwood shared the work last
week in an even split. Ajayi saw 51% of the snaps and Smallwood
47%. The Vikings are allowing 3.9 yards per carry to opposing
rushers, but have only allowed two rushing touchdowns this season.
After a hot start to the season, Ajayi has cooled off (and missed
a game in the process). He only has three goal line carries on
the season. He did see four targets last week, which is encouraging,
but it was still one less than Smallwood. The Eagles offensive
line is playing at a high level when it comes to run blocking.
They are 10th in adjusted line yards and have a 92% success rate
in power runs. This bodes well for Ajayi, who should see 12-15
carries again this week. The problem for Ajayi is if he doesn’t
score, at best, you’re getting very low end RB2 production.
Smallwood is a usable option, but very low upside in what isn’t
a great matchup and situation for the satellite back.
Game Thoughts: It wasn’t an amazing fantasy day
for rookie quarterback Josh Rosen in his first NFL start this
past week, but Rosen seemed to breathe new life into the Arizona
offense. The Cardinals scored 17 points - all in the first half
- after scoring a total of just 20 points in their first three
games combined under Sam Bradford. What makes Rosen’s debut
more impressive is that he was playing with a banged up Larry
Fitzgerald who continues to battle his way through a hamstring
injury. Fitzgerald is incredibly tough but this group of pass
catchers is simply not good right now. Rookie Christian Kirk is
the healthiest option who has the most upside, especially if Fitzgerald’s
hamstring and now back injuries force him to miss playing time.
Still, Kirk is only a PPR flex option at best and should probably
remain on most benches until we see more. Tight end Ricky Seals-Jones
could find himself into fantasy lineups given the complete wasteland
that is the tight end position, but he only has 10 receptions
on the season and his upside isn’t particularly strong.
The San Francisco defense does have some serious gaps, but even
that shouldn’t give fantasy owners much confidence in this
Arizona passing game, at least not until we see Fitzgerald practicing
and playing at full capacity.
SF FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.9
SF FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.10
SF FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.13
SF FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.4
Running Game Thoughts: The fantasy season hasn’t started
off great for Cardinals running back David Johnson, but things
seem to finally be taking a turn in the right direction after
this past week’s performance when Johnson touched the ball
25 times for 112 yards and a touchdown. One of the most important
aspects to this heavy workload has to the be the game script of
that Week 4 contest, which the Cardinals still lost, but only
by three points. They were blown out in two of their three of
their previous games this season and that led to low usage from
Johnson in the running game. We’d like to see him utilized
more as a pass catcher, especially with Fitzgerald hobbled, but
for now it’s just good to see the Cardinals coaching staff
committing to getting him the ball when the game is close. That
should be the case again as the 49ers don’t have a particularly
high-powered offense, which should allow the Cardinals to at least
stay close on the scoreboard. Look for Johnson to get around 20
touches again this week and that alone would make him a solid
RB1 regardless of format.
Game Thoughts: The 49ers shocked many by staying in the
game on the road against the Chargers in Week 4, in large part
due to quarterback C.J. Beathard’s performance. Beathard
threw for nearly 300 yards and a pair of touchdowns and while
he also threw two interceptions, his performance has to be more
than what fantasy owners expected. Beathard connected six times
with tight end George Kittle, who he actually targeted more on
a per-game basis than Garoppolo did during their time playing
together, and Kittle turned those six catches into 125 yards and
a touchdown. Pierre Garcon also showed signs of life, but there’s
not much upside at wide receiver for San Francisco wide receivers
for now. The Cardinals defense is also one of the best against
the pass so far this season, so it’d be wise to steer clear
of this passing game aside from Kittle.
ARI FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.29
ARI FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.1
ARI FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.30
ARI FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.19
Running Game Thoughts: Aside from Kittle, the player who benefits
most from Beathard being behind center might be running back Matt
Breida. Breida is dealing with a couple different nagging injuries
which have hurt his overall workload, but he’s still by
far the back with the highest upside in this San Francisco offense.
After seeing 12-or-more carries in each of his first three games,
Alfred Morris fell down to just four carries this past week. His
upside was never particularly high, but the volume he was seeing
made him a viable low-end Flex play. Now that is even in question
as Morris himself deals with a minor knee injury. Breida is simply
the much more explosive player and a significantly better option
in the passing game, which plays right into Beathard’s skill
set. Beathard is among the most checkdown-prone quarterbacks in
football and it wouldn’t be out of the question for Breida
to average five-plus catches per week in this offensive system.
That type of usage makes him a risky play in non-PPR formats,
but he’s a low-end RB2 in PPR, even with the injuries. The
Cardinals have given up the most fantasy points to opposing running
backs in the league this season, including huge games to the likes
of Adrian Peterson, Chris Thompson, Todd Gurley, Jordan Howard
and most recently Seattle’s Mike Davis in Week 4. This looks
like a high usage game for the San Francisco backfield and we
could realistically see a combined 30 touches out of Breida and
Game Thoughts: The target consolidation in Los Angeles
continues to produce incredible fantasy production for Jared Goff,
Cooper Kupp, Brandin Cooks and Robert Woods. This past week’s
five passing touchdown day was the culmination of everything Sean
McVay has been building toward and it came against one of the
league’s best defenses, the Minnesota Vikings. This week
they’ll be on the road, but it’ll be against a depleted
Seattle secondary that is now without all-world safety Earl Thomas.
Seattle has been quite good against opposing passing games so
far this season, but their opponents haven’t been in particularly
high-powered offenses. Case Keenum, Mitch Trubisky, Dak Prescott
and Josh Rosen simply do not play in anywhere near as powerful
of an offense as the Rams. Goff is a QB1 and all three of his
top receivers are solid WR2s.
SEA FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.26
SEA FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.21
SEA FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.20
SEA FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.24
Running Game Thoughts: A quarterback throwing five touchdown
passes in a game rarely means a great fantasy day for that team’s
running back, but Todd Gurley has become such a reliable weapon
that he even a monster game from Jared Goff didn’t stop
him from producing as an elite RB1. The Seahawks have had a tough
start to the season, facing off against the likes of Royce Freeman
and Phillip Lindsay, Jordan Howard, Ezekiel Elliott and David
Johnson. And now they get the pleasure of facing perhaps the league’s
best fantasy player, Todd Gurley. Gurley should be one of, if
not the top player on the entire board this week. Play him with
Game Thoughts: Offensive line problems continue in Seattle
and it’s now gotten to the point that Russell Wilson is
looking like a non-starter for fantasy purposes right now. Wilson
was awful in Week 4 against the Cardinals, completing 19 of his
26 pass attempts, but for just 172 yards and no touchdowns. Wilson
has had these types of poor passing performances in the past,
but it’s usually been complemented by a productive day running
the ball. That simply has not been the case for Wilson in 2018.
In fact, he’s ran the ball just 11 times for 42 yards thus
far, putting him on pace for just 168 rushing yards for the season
with no touchdowns. His previous careers low was 259 rushing yards
and that was in a season when he was battling injuries that severely
hampered his mobility. Unless there’s something that’s
not being reported, Wilson is relatively healthy right now and
that should actually be a major red flag for fantasy owners. If
he’s not running the ball now, with the passing game not
working particularly well, when will he?
There are reasons to have some hope if you’re a Wilson
owner, however. First, we’ve seen these types of prolonged
struggles from Wilson, particularly early in seasons, in the past.
He has typically been able to turn those bad situations around
and still produce as a solid QB1 by seasons’ end, so don’t
give up on him quite yet. Also, he now has wide receiver Doug
Baldwin back on the field, whom he connected with five times in
Week 4. Baldwin might not be fully healthy, but he’s still
by far the most seasoned pass catcher in this offense and a player
who fantasy owners can have some confidence placing back in their
lineups as at least a WR3.
Tight end Will Dissly started the season off hot but an injury
has placed him on the IR. Nick Vannett should see the highest
uptick in work with Dissly out but he is not a fantasy option
at the moment. Tyler Lockett is the only other pass catching option
in this offense that fantasy owners should be concerned with in
any way, but even he should be on benches this week as the Seahawks
host the Rams. The Rams have given up the sixth-fewest fantasy
points to opposing passing games so far this season and while
their secondary is a bit banged up, they’re still a good
enough defense to not test with your borderline fantasy options.
LAR FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.27
LAR FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.25
LAR FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.21
LAR FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.13
Running Game Thoughts: The complete ridiculousness that is the
Seattle backfield continued this past week as Chris Carson was
a late scratch prior to Sunday’s contest, which would have
seemingly led the way to Rashaad Penny finally getting his opportunity
to shine. That didn’t happen, however, as Penny was left
on the bench for most of the afternoon. Penny carried the ball
nine times while playing just 24 percent of the Seahawks’
offensive snaps. Meanwhile, veteran Mike Davis played 74 percent
of the team’s offensive snaps and carried the ball 21 times
for 101 yards and two scores. Davis also caught four passes. While
it is believed that Carson will be back on the field this week,
this entire situation just goes to show us that the Seattle coaching
staff seems to have zero confidence in the running back they took
in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft. Penny is an afterthought
and can be dropped in most formats until we see some signs of
Assuming Carson is back on the field in Week 5, he’ll face
a Rams defense that has conceded the eighth-fewest fantasy points
to opposing running backs this season and held the Vikings’
backfield duo of Dalvin Cook and Latavius Murray to a combined
22 rushing yards in Week 4. The only back to rush for even 50
yards against the Rams so far this season has been Melvin Gordon
and only Jalen Richard back in in a Week 1 blowout Raiders loss
was able to secure more than five receptions against this defense.
Carson is not much of a pass catcher and with the Seattle defense
as diminished as it is, there’s a good chance that the Rams
get out to an early lead, forcing a negative game script and high
pass volume from the Seahawks. Carson is only a Flex play in this
matchup and his upside isn’t particularly high.
Game Thoughts: Dak Prescott and the Cowboys passing attack
has been one of the worst in the NFL this season, but they get
an elite matchup. Houston is allowing 288 passing yards per game
and big fantasy days were had by Tom Brady, Andrew Luck and even
Eli Manning against this defense. Unfortunately, Prescott is averaging
only 188.3 passing yards per game and has also thrown only four
touchdowns this season, making it hard to trust the Cowboys QB
despite the positive matchup. Prescott lacks playmakers on the
outside and lost his security blanket over the middle (Jason Witten).
There aren’t any Cowboys receivers that can be considered.
Tavon Austin has scored double digit fantasy points in two games
this season, but he scored less than 1.0 fantasy point in his
other two games. Cole Beasley is the only other receiver to score
more than 10 fantasy points in a game. TE Geoff Swaim is coming
off his best game this season, but there is no reason to consider
him on this slate.
HOU FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.11
HOU FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.15
HOU FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.15
HOU FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.6
Running Game Thoughts: Ezekiel Elliott is essentially the entire
Cowboys offense. He’s averaging 137.8 total yards and 0.8
total touchdowns per game this season. He has also been featured
in the passing attack, as he’s averaging 3.8 receptions
on 5.5 targets per game. Elliott has seen at least 18 touches
in every game, and comes with an extremely high floor. Houston
has only allowed 94.3 rushing yards per game, but Elliott is somewhat
of a matchup proof given his usage. This game is projected to
stay relatively close, meaning Elliott could see four quarters
worth of touches once again.
Game Thoughts: The Dallas Cowboys have featured an elite
defense against the pass, as they are only allowing 209 passing
yards and 1.3 passing touchdowns per game. Deshaun Watson has
been playing at an elite level over his last three games though,
as he’s averaging 356.7 passing yards and 2.0 passing touchdowns
over that span. He has also added 40.3 yards and 0.3 touchdowns
per game on the ground. Lamar Miller is banged up, while D’Onta
Foreman is still out, suggesting the offense could be a bit more
one-sided towards the passing attack this week.
The Texans don’t feature their tight ends, and they don’t
have any that are worth mentioning to start. Instead, they feature
three wide receivers, and all have produced at some point this
season. DeAndre Hopkins is the most obvious option, as he’s
averaging a 7.5 / 110.8 / 0.5 line on 11.0 targets. He gets a
tough matchup against Byron Jones, who has been enjoying an elite
season. In two healthy games this season, Will Fuller has totaled
13 receptions for 214 yards and two touchdowns on 20 targets.
He also posted a 4/49/1 line last week before injuring his hamstring.
Fuller is still dealing with the injury, but he’s fully
expected to play. Keke Coutee suited up for the first time last
week, and Houston manufactured touches for him. He saw 15 targets,
recording 11 receptions for 109 yards. The Cowboys will likely
slow this game down a bit, but Houston has been outstanding with
manufacturing touches for their receivers.
DAL FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.24
DAL FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.19
DAL FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.26
DAL FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.25
Running Game Thoughts: As mentioned above, Miller is injured,
and is questionable for this week. If he starts, he’ll likely
split time with Alfred Blue. If Miller is out, Blue should take
the majority of the running back snaps. If that’s the case,
he could make a decent option based on volume, but he has struggled
in extended roles throughout his career. I expect Houston to rely
heavily on their passing attack, and Blue’s value will rely
almost exclusively on Miller’s health.
Game Thoughts: Alex Smith is one of the most overlooked
quarterbacks in the NFL, but he continues to play at a high level.
Through three games, he’s averaging 255.7 passing yards
and 1.3 passing touchdowns per game. He has yet to flash his known
upside, but he gets an elite matchup against the New Orleans Saints
this week. On the season, the Saints are allowing 323 passing
yards and 2.75 passing touchdowns per game. The Saints have been
in high scoring shootouts with Tampa Bay and Atlanta this season,
and this week should be no different.
The Redskins don’t have a traditional offense, as their
top two target leaders are Chris Thompson and Jordan Reed. Paul
Richardson has been the top receiver, scoring 10+ fantasy points
in each of his last two games. Josh Doctson (heel) is dealing
with an injury, limiting his potential in this game. It’s
impossible to trust anyone outside of Reed, who has scored double
digit fantasy points in each of his three games this season. Richardson
and Jamison Crowder also come with upside, especially in this
matchup but are more dart throws given their limited production
NO FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.3
NO FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.27
NO FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.1
NO FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.32
Running Game Thoughts: The Saints have looked outstanding against
the run, which is a bit concerning for the Redskins’ rushers.
Adrian Peterson has quietly looked outstanding through three games,
as he’s averaging 112.0 total yards and 1.0 touchdown per
game. He could see negative game script this week, though, making
Chris Thompson the better fantasy option. Thompson struggled in
his third game against Green Bay, but he scored 22.3 and 24.8
fantasy points in his first two games. He should see plenty of
targets if the Redskins get into a shootout or are forced to play
from behind, making him a great option.
Game Thoughts: Drew Brees gets a tough matchup against
the Redskins who are allowing opposing quarterbacks to throw for
only 187 passing yards and 1.3 passing touchdowns per game. Brees
has found plenty of success through the first four weeks, averaging
323.8 passing yards and 2.0 passing touchdowns per game. He’s
coming off of a tough game against the Giants, but in a good spot
for a bounceback performance at home.
Michael Thomas only saw four targets last week, but he’s
still averaging a 10.5 / 111.3 / 0.8 line on 11.0 targets per
game. Thomas also ranks third in the NFL in red zone targets.
Ted Ginn Jr. had a solid start to the season, but only saw three
targets last week. Cameron Meredith, on the other hand, saw four
targets after struggling to find snaps earlier this season. Ben
Watson hasn’t seen more than 6 targets in any game and has
yet to find the endzone making him more of a TE2 option.
WAS FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.30
WAS FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.20
WAS FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.28
WAS FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.21
Running Game Thoughts: Alvin Kamara has been the best running
back in the NFL this season, averaging 152.8 total yards and 1.5
total touchdowns on 22.8 touches (8.8 receptions) per game. Kamara
also leads the NFL in red zone targets. Mark Ingram returns to
the field this week after his four-game suspension, but it’s
difficult to imagine he sees a major workload with Kamara playing
so well. The only real concern is that Ingram is a threat to Kamara’s
touchdowns. In a matchup against the Redskins, who are allowing
opposing running backs to record 4.5 yards per carry, Kamara makes
an elite option again, while Ingram owners would be wise to wait
a week and see how he’s integrated back into the offense.