- Green highllight indicates plus matchup (top eight)
- Red highlight indicates negative matchup (bottom eight)
Saints at Cowboys
- (Katz) Line: NO -7.5 Total: 52.5
Game Thoughts: Can anyone slow down the Saints? Technically,
I guess the answer is Atlanta, given the 31 points the Saints
scored last week was their lowest in their last four games. Drew
Brees is playing the best football of his career and although
he only completed 15 passes, he scored four touchdowns for the
fourth consecutive game. The Cowboys have an above average pass
defense, but allow opposing QBs to complete 69% of their throws.
They’ve also only recorded seven interceptions on the season,
which doesn’t bode well against Brees, who never turns the
ball over (just two picks all year). Michael Thomas has been fantastic,
but has a tough test against Byron Jones, who ranks as Pro Football
Focus’ top cornerback this season. With Jones on Thomas,
this could be a great spot for Tre’Quan Smith (foot) if
he is ready to return from injury. If not, we could see something
similar to last week where Brees throws four touchdowns to four
random players. I do think the Cowboys will put up more of a fight
in this game than most think. It just seems impossible to stop
Brees right now.
DAL FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.24
DAL FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.28
DAL FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.29
DAL FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.11
Running Game Thoughts: Both Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram had down
games last week in a noncompetitive contest. Worry not as scoring
opportunities will be aplenty, even against a solid Cowboys run
defense allowing 3.7 yards per carry. Leighton Vander Esch is
playing at an elite level, but he alone cannot stop Kamara out
of the backfield. Prior to Week 12, the Cowboys ranked 29thin
defending pass catching RBs. Ingram is probably going to need
to punch in a short touchdown to be useful. Kamara should see
a bunch of targets and is a good bet to return elite RB1 numbers
in a bounce back outing.
Game Thoughts: Fun fact about Dak Prescott: since Week
6, he’s been the QB10. That’s a low end QB1 for those
keeping score at home. Over the past seven weeks, you would have
been better off having Prescott than Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady.
The Saints defense has performed better recently, but they still
allow 286 passing yards per game and allow a 69% completion percentage.
Prescott has also rushed for a touchdown in five of his last six
games and is coming off his best performance of the season, which
coincides with Amari Cooper reestablishing himself as a fantasy
option. While Cooper has worked his way into the weekly WR3 conversation,
do not overreact to his monster Thanksgiving Day performance.
Cooper scored twice on essentially the same play – he caught
a pass in front of the defender, made one turn, and the defender
missed/tripped and Cooper was off to the races. The fact that
Cooper saw nine of Prescott’s 31 targets is most encouraging.
It is clear that the Cowboys are treating Cooper like their WR1,
which is what Cooper and fantasy owners need for him to get his
career back on track. No one else in this passing game has any
NO FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.3
NO FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.30
NO FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.1
NO FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.31
Running Game Thoughts: Ezekiel Elliott has taken
his game to another level. He is coming off three consecutive
games with more than 120 rushing yards and a touchdown. More importantly,
Zeke has seen at least five targets in each of his last five games.
His increased passing game usage is bolstering his floor considerably
and we know the ceiling is always there. The Saints have been
the league’s best rush defense, allowing a league low 73.2
yards per game. That number isn’t truly indicative of their
defensive ability, though, as the blowout nature of so many of
their games force opponents to abandon the run early. While that’s
certainly within the range of outcomes this week, I’m getting
a ton of 2009 vibes where the better than you think Cowboys knocked
off the seemingly unbeatable (and previously undefeated) Saints.
I think this game will be competitive, at least long enough to
keep the Cowboys running and allowing Elliott to produce another
elite RB1 game.
Game Thoughts: The Falcons have struggled against the
pass this season, allowing 273.0 passing yards per game. Atlanta
has also allowed 25 passing touchdowns, while recording only nine
interceptions. The Ravens own an odd quarterback situation, though.
Lamar Jackson will get the start again and is averaging 164.0
yards and 0.5 touchdowns on 22.0 pass attempts over his last two
starts. He is also averaging 95.0 yards and 0.5 touchdowns per
game on the ground. Joe Flacco is expected to return to the team
this weekend and has been limited in practice since Thursday.
Flacco can be avoided, but Jackson comes with more risk than normal.
The Ravens receiving group can be avoided for the most part with
Jackson at quarterback. In his two starts, they have featured
inconsistent numbers with no players seeing consistent targets.
John Brown and Michael Crabtree both come with upside, but they
should be avoided unless you’re in a pinch this week.
ATL FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.2
ATL FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.5
ATL FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.6
ATL FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.20
Running Game Thoughts: Atlanta has struggled against the run
throughout this season. They’re allowing 123.7 rushing yards
per game in 2018, and they have also allowed 13 rushing touchdowns.
Gus Edwards (ankle) and Alex Collins (foot) are both expected
to play, which could take a bit of value away from each player.
Edwards has been the featured back recently, though, as he’s
averaging 116.5 rushing yards and 0.5 rushing touchdowns over
the last two weeks. Collins has also totaled only 17 touches in
his last two games, and he could see another limited role this
week. Edwards comes with a bit more risk than normal because of
Collins looming, while the latter should be avoided.
Game Thoughts: Matt Ryan has been playing at a high level
this season, specifically in Atlanta. Through six home games,
he’s averaging 348.3 yards and 2.5 touchdowns on 36.0 pass
attempts per game. Ryan gets a terrible matchup against the Ravens,
who are allowing only 203.0 passing yards per game. With that
being said, they have allowed 15 passing touchdowns, while recording
only five interceptions. They have looked elite against quarterbacks,
but Ryan will test them, and it’s reasonable to believe
he’ll find success in another home game.
Julio Jones continues to be the focal point of the Falcons receiving
group and has been enjoying an elite season. Through 11 games,
he’s averaging 7.6 receptions for 118.6 yards and 0.3 touchdowns
on 11.4 targets. He has also scored a touchdown in three of his
last four games. Calvin Ridley has featured a plethora of ups
and downs this season, but overall, he’s averaging a 4.3
/ 56.8 / 0.7 line on 6.0 targets per game. Ridley is a receiver
that relies heavily on touchdowns and Atlanta may struggle more
than normal to score in this game. Mohamed Sanu is an efficient
receiver, who will see a few receptions each week. He’s
a relatively consistent option, but lacks upside and could struggle
in what should be a tough matchup. Baltimore has struggled against
tight ends, and Austin Hooper has found plenty of success. He’s
averaging 5.0 receptions for 43.3 yards and 0.3 touchdowns on
6.2 targets per game at one of the shallowest positions in fantasy
football. Ryan could be throwing from start to finish as this
game should be close. The only concern is that Baltimore could
utilize a run heavy gameplan to limited Ryan’s snaps and
BAL FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.31
BAL FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.32
BAL FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.30
BAL FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.16
Running Game Thoughts: Baltimore has also found success against
the run this season. They’re allowing only 92.1 rushing
yards per game, while also allowing eight touchdowns on the ground.
Through 11 games, Coleman is averaging 70.4 yards and 0.6 touchdowns
on 13.7 touches (2.6 receptions). Ito Smith isn’t an option
at this point behind Coleman. I expect the Falcons to run somewhat
of limited plays with Baltimore controlling the ball, and Coleman’s
touches will likely suffer.
Broncos @ Bengals
- (Swanson) Line: DEN -5.0 Total: 45.0
Game Thoughts: With two impressive wins over the Chargers
and the Steelers, the Broncos are playing excellent football and
have their sights set on running the table and a possible playoff
berth as a wild card team in the AFC. Denver’s defense has
not allowed more than 30 points to an opponent since Week 5 against
the Jets, and the rushing attack by Phillip Lindsay gives the
Broncos excellent balance on offense.
Case Keenum continues to play intelligent football by limiting
his mistakes (no interceptions in his last three games) while
taking what the defense gives him and involving the tight end
position more in the passing game.
From a fantasy perspective, Keenum’s play makes him a low-end
QB2 based on this limited touchdown production. The journeyman
QB has not thrown for more than 300 yards since Week 6 and only
has one game of at least three touchdowns on the year.
Wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders bounced back from three subpar
weeks with seven catches for 86 yards and a touchdown in a “revenge”
game against his old team. Sanders continues to be the top wide
receiver to own in Denver and should be an excellent start this
week against a Bengals defense that has all but quit and gives
up the most points to opposing quarterbacks and the 14-most points
to opposing wide receivers.
Tight End Matt LaCosse jumped into fantasy consideration this
week with the unfortunate season-ending rib and bruised kidney
injury sustained by Jeff Heuerman. LaCosse caught three passes
for 34 yards and a touchdown last week against the Steelers and
should see an uptick in targets this week. The Bengals allow the
second-most points to opposing tight ends. For owners ballsy enough
to roll out LaCosse in the final week of the fantasy regular season,
he could be the player that puts you over the top.
CIN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.1
CIN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.1
CIN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.14
CIN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.2
Running Game Thoughts: Phillip Lindsay continues to prove that
he is the best running back in the Denver backfield with his second
100-yard performance of the season last week in the win over the
Steelers. The undrafted rookie from Colorado has a touchdown in
four of his previous five games and is the lead back ahead of
fellow rookie Royce Freeman.
Although Linsday is the clear-cut starter and the one who will
likely finish the day with the most fantasy points, Freeman does
have some interesting value this week against a Bengals team that
allows the most points to opposing running backs. If this game
gets out of hand and the Broncos take an early lead, Freeman may
see more carries than the six he received last week against Pittsburgh.
With Lindsay standing out and rushing at a ridiculous 5.8 yards
per carry, Freeman’s 4.2 yards per carry on 84 attempts
seems pretty pedestrian. But it should be noted that the rookie
from Oregon does have five rushing touchdowns in nine games, making
him a sneaky flex play in very deep leagues to score a TD on Sunday.
Game Thoughts: Torn ligaments in the thumb on his right
hand landed Andy Dalton on injured reserve and a place on the
sideline for the remainder of the season. The unfortunate injury
to Dalton opens the door for Jeff Driskel to take over the starting
quarterback role for the Bengals, presumably for the remainder
of the 2018 season.
Driskel played college football at Louisiana Tech before getting
selected by the San Francisco 49ers in the sixth round of the
2016 draft. After failing to beat out Christian Ponder for the
backup quarterback role with San Francisco, Driskel was released
by the 49ers and claimed off waivers by the Bengals.
In limited action this season in reserve of Dalton, including
last week’s loss to the Bengals, Driskel is 23 of 36 for
239 yards and one touchdown. As a mobile QB with excellent quickness
for his size, Driskel has added 49 yards and two rushing touchdowns.
We don’t know what to expect from Driskel in his first
NFL start. He could be sharp and shine in the moment as Nick Mullens
did in his debut with the 49ers. But he could also struggle and
bring down all of the passing game options.
On a positive note, star wide receiver A.J. Green returned to
practice on a limited basis and told reporters that he plans on
playing against the Broncos after missing a few games with a toe
injury. Fantasy owners should avoid chasing points from Driskel
until we have more information to go on, but having a big, sure-handed
target like Green back will surely help.
Tight End C.J. Uzomah could be an interesting option for owners
this week after receiving a career-high 13 targets last week against
Cleveland. It may be tough for owners burned by the Uzi to get
back into the fire, but it is fairly typical for young quarterbacks
to lean on their tight ends when making their first few starts
in the league.
DEN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.14
DEN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.13
DEN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.15
DEN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.9
Running Game Thoughts: After starting the season poorly, highlighted
by a 219-yard thrashing on the ground by Isaiah Crowell and the
Jets Week 5 and a 208-yard performance by Todd Gurley Week 6,
the Denver Broncos run defense has turned the corner and is no
longer a sieve for RB fantasy points.
No opposing running back has reached 70 yards or the end zone
on the ground since Gurley’s massive day, including stud
performers like David Johnson, Melvin Gordon, Kareem Hunt, and
James Conner. The Broncos faced the gauntlet of elite running
backs over the past two months, and more than held their own.
Joe Mixon enters the game as the 10th ranked fantasy running
back with 14.2 fantasy points per game. The second-year back failed
to score a touchdown last week against the Browns but continues
to be a multi-facet weapon in both the passing and ground game.
Mixon caught all seven passes for 66 yards last week and should
once again be active in the passing game and a reliable outlet
On the injury front, starting linebacker Shaquil Barrett will
miss the game with a hip injury. Although the Broncos will surely
miss Barrett, fellow linebacker Brandon Marshall returned to practice
after missing the last four games with a knee injury.
Rams @ Lions -
(Swanson) Line: LAR -10.0 Total: 55.0
Game Thoughts: Jared Goff and the Rams return from the
bye to take on the Lions, a team that gave up the ninth-most fantasy
points to opposing quarterbacks over the past five weeks, including
37.6 fantasy points to Mitchell Trubisky and the Bears Week 10.
Matt Patricia’s defense has been a Jekyll and Hyde unit
this season with strong performances against Tom Brady and the
Patriots followed up with monster games by Aaron Rodgers, Trubisky,
and Cam Newton.
Goff built off his breakout 2017 with 3547 passing yards and
26 touchdowns in his first 11 games of this season and currently
ranks as the No.4 fantasy quarterback with 26.9 fantasy points
per game. As an elite option as our No.2 ranked quarterback this
week, Goff is an excellent play and should be a must-start option
in all formats. The Lions do not have the defensive firepower
to match up against the trio of receivers and collection of tight
ends that head coach Sean McVay will throw at them, especially
when McVay motions Robert Woods or Brandin Cooks into the slot
against Teez Tabor or DeShawn Shead.
All Rams skill position players in the passing game are strong
starts this week, with the only concern being a negative game
script created by Todd Gurley running all over the Lions and the
defense forcing turnovers and short fields from Matthew Stafford.
This game could get ugly pretty quickly, especially if Gurley
runs as well and I expect he will against a subpar Detroit run
An interesting recent trend in the passing game for the Rams
is the increased involvement of the tight end position after Cooper
Kupp suffered a season-ending knee injury. Tyler Higbee and Gerald
Everett have a combined four touchdowns and 152 yards in the last
two games against the Seahawks and Chiefs. In a season like this
will very few tight end options on a week to week basis, starting
a Rams tight end is not the worst option in fantasy.
DET FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.13
DET FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.11
DET FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.12
DET FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.18
Running Game Thoughts: Todd Gurley once again is the No.1 running
back in fantasy football after finishing in the top slot last
year and carrying teams to championship glory. Although Gurley
enters this week on the heels of his worst game in quite some
time due to an ankle injury, he should bounce back and be an elite
start once again this week.
After starting the season allowing a 100-yard rushed in three
of the first four weeks, including 152 yards on 25 carries to
Ezekiel Elliott in Dallas Week 4, the Lions addressed a huge need
in the middle of their defensive line by trading for Snacks Harrison
from the Giants. Since making a move for Harrison, the Lions have
made great strides in run defense and allow the 10th-fewest points
to opposing running backs over the past five weeks.
Although they have done a solid job improving their rush defense,
the Rams and Todd Gurley have made a mockery of defenses over
the past two seasons and should find success once again this week.
Gurley is a lock for around 100 total yards and a score or two,
but don’t be surprised to see the team use Malcolm Brown
a bit more than usual to ensure that Gurley does not re-injure
On the injury front, the bye week came at a perfect time for
the Rams with only three players listed on their post-break injury
report. All three players listed on the report are non-injury
related, and the Rams should be near full health in the game.
Game Thoughts: An already dreadful 2018 season for Matthew
Stafford and the Lions passing game turned from bad to worse with
the news that wide receiver Marvin Jones will miss the remainder
of the season with a knee injury. Two of Stafford’s top
three wide receivers to start the season are off the roster due
to the trade of Golden Tate to the Eagles and the knee injury
With 19.7 fantasy points per game and to games of fewer than
16 fantasy points in his last two weeks, Stafford is on pace to
post the worst full 16-game slate of his career. In a year in
which passing records are being set, and teams like the Rams,
Saints, and Chiefs are lighting up the scoreboard, the Lions offense
has regressed, and Stafford is no longer a viable QB1 in most
The only positive note on the Detroit passing game is the emergence
of Kenny Golladay as the new No.1 wideout. The second-year player
from Northern Illinois leads all receivers in targets over the
past three weeks and should once again be a heavily targeted weapon
for Stafford against the Rams.
Only the Saints and the Eagles have allowed more points to opposing
wide receivers this season than the Rams. A surprising stat when
you consider the offseason move the Rams made by bringing in Marcus
Peters and Aquib Talib. Peters has been a disappointment and continues
to get burned deep, while Talib missed most of the season up to
know with a leg injury.
Talib is practicing and appears ready to return to the field
to help defensive coordinator Wade Phillips shore up his secondary.
It remains to be seen how many snaps Talib will play, but his
presence on the field in any capacity will make this secondary
LAR FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.8
LAR FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.18
LAR FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.3
LAR FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.12
Running Game Thoughts: With Kerryon Johnson out with a knee injury,
the Lions leaned on veteran bruiser LeGarrette Blount to carry
the load against the Bears last week. Blount rushed for 88 yards
and two touchdowns on 19 carries against a tired Chicago defensive
front that entered the Thanksgiving game exhausted after playing
just three days prior in primetime against the Vikings.
Look for head coach Matt Patricia to once again look to run the
ball early and use a quick passing game to limit the time of possession
for the Rams offense and reduce the number of times Stafford is
sacked by Aaron Donald and the L.A. front seven.
Although the Rams can be beaten on the ground, as evident by
the big rushing performances by Rashaad Penny, Chris Carson, Aaron
Jones, and Alvin Kamara, the Lions will likely be forced to pass
more than they would like in this game and sticking to the run
may be difficult.
Blount will once again be the primary first and second down back
with most of the goal line carries, and Theo Riddick will be the
primary passing down and change of pace back. Based on the projected
game script, Riddick may be the best option of the two, although
neither player is a strong start this week.
Game Thoughts: Josh Rosen’s rookie season as the
starter for the Arizona Cardinals has unfolded as one would expect.
The former UCLA star has at times displayed excellent accuracy
and football “smarts” that made him a first-round
pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, while also making questionable throws
and decisions of a player learning his craft at the highest level.
For fantasy purposes, Rosen has little to no value in anything
other than deep, two quarterback leagues. He has yet to come close
to throwing for 300 yards in any of this eight starts, and the
former Bruin has just two multi-touchdown games this season.
The change at offensive coordinator to Byron Leftwich has undoubtedly
added some positive momentum to the Cardinal offense. The days
of running David Johnson up the middle repeatedly to stacked boxes
are gone, with Johnson finally returning to form as the primary
Future hall of fame wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald has also benefitted
from the change at OC, going from a former droppable stud to a
viable low-end No.2 WR over the past month. In his last four games,
Fitz has four receiving touchdowns and 205 yards, giving him more
fantasy points per game during that span than Robert Woods, Kenny
Golladay, and Allen Robinson.
If this game were at home in Arizona and not on the road at Lambeau
Field, the Cardinals would have a chance to give fantasy owners
viable options in the passing game. Green Bay ranks fourth in
the league in fantasy points allowed to wide receivers this season,
only behind the Saints, Eagles, and Rams. But asking a rookie
quarterback to play well on the road in Green Bay is a lofty goal,
especially against a Packer team fresh off a loss to Minnesota
and with their season hanging in the balance.
Fitz is a decent No.3 wide receiver this week and is a threat
to score against the injury-depleted Packers secondary. Volume
is indeed a concern with just six targets combined in his last
two games after garnering 22 in his previous two. David Johnson
is a must-start and is one of the few running backs in the league
that is game-script proof. Other than that, starting a Cardinal
in this game is a risky proposition.
GB FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.22
GB FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.15
GB FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.4
GB FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.30
Running Game Thoughts: The Packers rank in the middle of the
pack in terms of fantasy points allowed to running backs. Nine
different players reached the double-digit plateau vs. Green Bay,
including Dalvin Cook last week off of a receiving touchdown on
a screen. When healthy up front, the Packers are a stout unit
against the run with Mike Daniels and Kenny Clark stuffing the
middle of the line while forcing teams to run outside the tackle
or on misdirections. But Daniels has been out for the past two
weeks with a foot injury and will likely miss this game as well.
Look for David Johnson to make the majority of his fantasy points
this weekend as a receiver against a Packers team that has been
exposed at times by skilled pass-catching running backs. Todd
Gurley, Dalvin Cook, and James White each posted at least 72 receiving
yards and a score this season against Mike Pettine’s defense,
and Johnson is just as talented of a receiver out of the backfield
as those top RBs.
Despite a slow start to the season that included a five-point
dud against the Rams Week 2, Johnson has reached at least ten
points in all but three games this season. The monster performances
that owners enjoyed two seasons ago are not going to be there
this year as Rosen continues his growing pains, but Johnson is
still a low-end RB1 and enters the game with the 11th-most fantasy
points per game at the position.
Game Thoughts: Aaron Rodgers is on pace to throw for
4,750 yards, 30 touchdowns, and two interceptions this season.
Although his knee injury sustained against the Bears Week 1 took
away a valuable part of his game running the ball - especially
in the red zone, his 23.5 fantasy points per game would make him
an excellent fantasy option most years. By comparison, Rodgers
finished second to Drew Brees in fantasy points in 2010 when he
averaged 22.4 PPG with 4,038 passing yards and 28 touchdowns.
But in the ever-evolving NFL with young guns like Patrick Mahomes
and Jared Goff lighting up the stat sheet, Rodgers and the Packers
look antiquated and slow. Head coach Mike McCarthy’s offense
looks like a minivan trying to win a race against high-end sports
cars driven by Sean Payton, Sean McVay, and Matt Nagy.
The Packers use very little motion. They lack deception and creativity
in their formations, often relying on Rodgers to beat defenses
by moving around with his legs and making difficult throws on
the run. To make matters worse, the offensive line is constantly
beaten up and does not do a great job protecting Rodgers.
Despite the many shortcomings for the Pack, this week’s
matchup against the Cardinals is just what they need to get back
on track with a relatively easy home game against a rookie quarterback
and struggling Arizona team. Although the Cardinals technically
allow the third-fewest points to opposing quarterbacks, those
stats are a bit skewed based on the fact that teams have run the
ball so well vs. AZ that they don’t need to pass much to
Philip Rivers posted a near-perfect game last week against the
Cardinals, completing 28 of 29 passes for 259 yards and three
touchdowns. A similar yardage and passing total from Rodgers this
week is not out of the question, although the ground game led
by Aaron Jones could eat into some of Rodgers’ touchdowns.
Davante Adams continues to be a must-start stud, even against
Patrick Peterson. One of the rookie wide receivers with three
names could have a strong performance, but picking which one is
a risky proposition. After four weeks of at least one touchdown
or 100 receiving yards, Marquez Valdes-Scantling fell off the
map with two total catches in his last two games. Equanimeous
St. Brown came on strong last week against Minnesota, but he does
not appear to have Rodgers’ full confidence as of yet.
Tight End Jimmy Graham broke his thumb against Seattle two weeks
ago but played through the injury against the Vikings. With the
Packers season quickly spiraling out of control and a playoff
berth fading away, the team may end und putting Graham on IR in
the next few weeks.
ARI FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.30
ARI FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.2
ARI FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.23
ARI FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.26
Running Game Thoughts: No team in the league has allowed more
rushing yards or rushing touchdowns than the Cardinals. The Packers
are in desperate need for a win, and the Green Bay defense could
give the Packers offense multiple short fields in what could be
a lopsided win. These two factors make Aaron Jones a very attractive
play this week and a must-start in all formats.
Since taking over as the primary tailback Week 8 against the
Rams, Jones ranks ninth in fantasy points per game, ahead of Todd
Gurley, James Conner, David Johnson, Phillip Lindsay, and Joe
Mixon. Jones has at least one score in all but one of those games,
including a 29.2 breakout performance against the Dolphins at
home Week 10. Like the Cardinals, Miami struggles against the
run, and the Packers used a run-heavy approach to take advantage
of their opponent.
Jones owners should expect a similar game plan this week against
the Cardinals, with 100 total yards and at least one touchdown
a strong probability.
Game Thoughts: Baker Mayfield has been playing at a higher
level recently, averaging 233.2 yards and 2.6 touchdowns on 31.6
pass attempts per game. While his yardage hasn’t been elite,
he has thrown for at least two touchdowns in each of those five
games. He gets somewhat of a tough matchup against the Texans,
who are allowing only 237.0 passing yards per game this season.
They have allowed 19 passing touchdowns, while recording only
nine interceptions this season, though. Mayfield has found plenty
of success on the road, and he’ll see plenty of chances,
as the Browns will likely be playing from behind for the majority
of this game.
Jarvis Landry has struggled over the last two weeks, but he’s
averaging 5.5 receptions for 57.3 yards and 0.2 touchdowns on
10.1 targets per game. While he scored double digit fantasy points
in each of his first nine games, the volume has dried up the last
two weeks with just 10 total targets. Antonio Callaway is coming
off one of his best games of the season, posting a 4/62/1 line
on five targets, but he could struggle with efficiency in this
matchup. Rashard Higgins hasn’t seen enough volume to be
considered, as he has totaled only eight targets since returning
from injury (three games). Houston has struggled against the tight
end this season, and David Njoku comes with tremendous upside.
He has seen one or fewer targets in two games, and he’s
averaging 4.4 receptions for 45.9 yards and 0.3 touchdowns on
5.6 targets per game when those two games are excluded.
HOU FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.27
HOU FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.24
HOU FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.28
HOU FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.6
Running Game Thoughts: Houston has found plenty of success against
the run, allowing only 96.8 rushing yards per game this season.
They have also only allowed five rushing touchdowns in 2018. Nick
Chubb has taken over as the lead back for the last five weeks,
and he has found plenty of success. Over that span, he’s
averaging 98.0 rushing yards and 0.8 rushing touchdowns on 21.2
carries per game. He’s also averaging 1.8 receptions for
18.4 receiving yards and 0.4 receiving touchdowns on 2.4 targets.
Duke Johnson isn’t seeing a large role in the rushing attack,
but he has totaled four or more receptions in three of his last
five games. While he does come with quite a bit of upside, this
is a tough matchup, and he’s well behind Chubb on the depth
Game Thoughts: Surprisingly, Cleveland ranks 29th in
the NFL, allowing 284.0 passing yards per game. With that being
said, they have only allowed 18 passing touchdowns, while also
recording 14 interceptions this season. Deshaun Watson has found
quite a bit of success this season, averaging 255.2 yards and
1.8 touchdowns on 30.3 pass attempts per game. He’s averaging
31.4 yards and 0.2 touchdowns on the ground as well. Furthermore,
Watson has been a better player in Houston, and he’ll benefit
from playing at home this week.
DeAndre Hopkins has been an elite receiver, averaging 6.6 receptions
for 93.1 receiving yards and 0.7 touchdowns on 9.3 targets in
eleven games. Hopkins has also recorded one or more touchdowns
in five of his last six contests. Keke Coutee is dealing with
a hamstring injury, but is expected to play. He’s a boom
or bust option, but is averaging a 4.7 / 47.8 / 0.2 line on 6.8
targets per game when healthy. Demaryius Thomas is coming off
of his best game of the season, totaling four receptions for 38
yards and two touchdowns on five targets. However, he isn’t
seeing enough looks to be considered in a prime target on this
team. Houston doesn’t feature any tight ends leaving fantasy
owners to look elsewhere if streaming the position.
CLE FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.9
CLE FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.6
CLE FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.9
CLE FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.14
Running Game Thoughts: Lamar Miller is another player coming
off of his best game of the season. On Monday night, he ran for
162 yards and one touchdown on only 12 carries. On the season,
he’s averaging 90.5 yards and 0.4 touchdowns on 17.4 touches
per game. He has been heating up recently, scoring double digit
fantasy points in four of his last five games. He also gets an
elite matchup against the Cleveland Browns, who are allowing 131.8
rushing yards per game. They have also allowed 15 rushing touchdowns
making Miller a sneaky option, as Houston could be leading early
in this game.
Colts vs Jaguars
- (Bales) Line: IND -4.0 Total: 47.0
Game Thoughts: The Jaguars have featured one of the best
passing defenses in the NFL this season, allowing only 206 passing
yards per game. They have also allowed only 15 passing touchdowns,
while recording eight interceptions. They could be without Jalen
Ramsey (knee) who missed practice on Thursday. Andrew Luck has
been arguably the most consistent quarterback in the NFL recently,
throwing for three or more touchdowns in each of his last eight
games. On the season, he’s averaging 282.9 yards and 2.9
touchdowns on 39.7 pass attempts per game. Regardless of the score,
Luck will continue to be an elite fantasy option with upside.
T.Y. Hilton has only played in nine games this season, but he
has looked outstanding. In those games, he’s averaging 5.0
receptions for 78.9 yards and 0.7 touchdowns on 8.1 targets per
game. He has also totaled 16 receptions for 280 yards and two
touchdowns on 19 targets over the last two weeks. Dontrelle Inman
has also enjoyed a starter’s role since Week 8. Since then,
Inman is averaging 4.3 receptions for 41.5 yards and 0.3 touchdowns
on 5.3 targets per game. Eric Ebron’s dream fantasy season
will continue with Jack Doyle landing on IR. Through 11 games,
Ebron is averaging 4.0 receptions for 46.2 yards and 1.0 touchdown
on 6.6 targets per game. He also owns a rushing touchdown on the
season. Ebron failed to record a target in Doyle’s last
fully healthy game, but we don’t need to worry about that
for the remainder of the season.
JAC FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.20
JAC FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.31
JAC FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.27
JAC FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.13
Running Game Thoughts: Marlon Mack is dealing with a concussion,
but he is fully expected to play this week after practicing on
Thursday. He has quietly been enjoying a solid season, averaging
91.4 yards and 0.7 touchdowns on 17.1 touches per game. Mack has
also scored double digit fantasy points in five of his last six
games. Jacksonville hasn’t found as much success against
the run, allowing 114.5 rushing yards per game. They have also
allowed 10 rushing touchdowns this season, and Mack could see
a good bit of work in the fourth quarter with Indianapolis in
Game Thoughts: The Colts have allowed 254.0 passing yards
per game allowing 18 passing touchdowns, while recording 11 interceptions.
Cody Kessler has been named the starter for Blake Bortles, but
Kessler doesn’t offer much in terms of fantasy. In limited
action this season, he’s totaled 156 yards and one touchdown
on 30 pass attempts. He simply shouldn’t be used outside
of dire situations.
I don’t expect much from the Jags receiving group, as Kessler
loves checking the ball down. Dede Westbrook has been their best
receiver throughout the season, while Donte Moncrief has flashed
occasional upside. With that being said, there aren’t any
receivers or tight ends on this team that truly need to be considered.
IND FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.15
IND FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.16
IND FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.25
IND FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.15
Running Game Thoughts: The Colts are only allowing 106.4 rushing
yards per game and have also held their opponents to only eight
rushing touchdowns in 2018. Leonard Fournette has been suspended
for this game, and Carlos Hyde is expected to draw the start.
This backfield will feature a committee, with Hyde being used
on early downs and T.J. Yeldon used on passing downs. Hyde has
more touchdown potential than Yeldon because of his role, but
neither make elite options. Jacksonville could rely more on the
run with Kessler under center, adding to Hyde’s appeal,
even if it is a bit limited.
Bills at Dolphins
- (Katz) Line: MIA -3.5 Total: 40.0
Game Thoughts: Josh Allen was victorious in his return
to action last week against a team somehow starting a quarterback
that might be worse than he is. Allen did rush for 99 yards and
if he is going to channel his inner Lamar Jackson, he can be fantasy
viable. Tim Tebow was one of the worst QBs to ever throw a pass
in NFL history and he was a fantasy QB1 because of rushing. It
is tough to rely on a QB that only completes eight passes in a
game. The Dolphins are a middle of the road pass defense. They
struggle against good QBs and are fine against bad ones. Allen
is a bad QB and you are not starting anyone on this Bills passing
offense. Their top two WRs are still Kelvin Benjamin and Zay Jones
but you can leave them on the waiver wire.
MIA FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.18
MIA FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.4
MIA FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.22
MIA FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.7
Running Game Thoughts: Where the Bills might have a shot is on
the ground. LeSean McCoy actually becomes interesting this week
as the Dolphins bleed points to running backs. The Dolphins allow
4.8 yards per carry and about 50 receiving yards per game to running
backs. Shady has been largely unproductive this season due entirely
to how bad his team is, but he has had his moments. With bye weeks
over, you probably don’t need to play McCoy, but he’s
not the worst option in a favorable matchup.
RB2: LeSean McCoy (low end)
Bench: Josh Allen, Kelvin Benjamin, Zay Jones
Game Thoughts: Ryan Tannehill returned as well last week
and was his usual serviceable self. For fantasy, you’re
not starting a QB throwing for just 205 yards. He threw two touchdowns,
but his score to Leonte Carroo was complete nonsense where Carroo
just Moss’d a defender that probably should’ve picked
it off, or at least knocked it down. Carroo’s one catch
for 74 yards led the team in receiving. Danny Amendola and Kenny
Stills each caught just one ball and DeVante Parker continues
to be a disappointment for his fantasy owners. The Bills actually
have the league’s best pass defense, allowing only 194 yards
per game. No one on the Dolphins passing attack is worth starting.
BUF FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.32
BUF FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.9
BUF FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.32
BUF FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.24
Running Game Thoughts: The best receiver on the Dolphins might
actually be Kenyan Drake, who was finally used like he should
be last week. Drake (shoulder) touched the ball 13 times (eight
on the ground, five in the air) and scored each way. With the
Dolphins season on the brink, it is time to stop using 87 year
old Frank Gore and put the ball in the hands of the far more capable
Drake. That won’t happen, because Adam Gase is smart and
I am just a fantasy writer so what do I know. Given the split,
both Gore and Drake’s values take a hit. Gore has an incredibly
low ceiling, but you know he never gets you zero. Drake’s
ceiling is something he’s hit many times this year, but
his floor is rock bottom. He’s always a gamble.
Bears at Giants
- (Katz) Line: CHI -4.0 Total: 44.5
Game Thoughts: Mitchell Trubisky is reportedly healthy
enough to play, but unlike the incompetent Anthony Lynn, Matt
Nagy has elected to smartly hold Trubisky out another week, knowing
his team can beat the Giants with Chase Daniel, who was quite
serviceable on Thanksgiving. Daniel completed 27 of 37 throws
for 230 yards and two touchdowns. While that kind of performance
is good enough for the Bears, it is not going to produce reliable
fantasy options from the rest of the Bears offense. Allen Robinson
only saw four targets and is not a trustworthy option without
Trubisky. Daniel seemed to gravitate towards Taylor Gabriel, who
led the team with eight targets, catching seven for 49 yards,
but he’s still nothing more than a floor player. Trey Burton
is just another TE not named Ertz or Kelce. The Giants have only
allowed 15 passing touchdowns this season, second fewest in the
league. I expect a similar type of game to the one we saw against
the Lions. You’ll definitely appreciate having a healthy
Trubisky in a shootout against the Rams. Hopefully, his absence
this week doesn’t cost you a chance to get to the fantasy
NYG FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.23
NYG FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.10
NYG FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.24
NYG FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.17
Running Game Thoughts: Full disclosure: I outright
dropped Jordan Howard this past Tuesday in the lone league where
I rostered him. It was eye opening to see him opposite LeGarrette
Blount last week because it put into perspective how they are
exactly the same player. Each is going to hover around 10 carries
and neither is capable of even a remotely useful fantasy performance
without a touchdown. If you don’t need an RB3 entirely dependent
on touchdowns, you don’t need Jordan Howard. The Lions have
one of the worst run defenses in the NFL and Howard couldn’t
even muster up three fantasy points.
Tarik Cohen is the clear lead back, depsite playing only 38%
of the snaps. I truly believe that we saw more Taquan Mizzell
purely because the Bears were playing on the shortest week possible.
Cohen’s eight targets were the second most he’s seen
in a game this season and his touchdown was a thing of beauty.
He actually should’ve scored earlier in the game on the
same play but Daniel just missed him. The Giants rank top 10 in
defending pass catching RBs, which would be more of a concern
if Trubisky was out there. With Daniel under center, he will lean
on his electric satellite back, making Cohen a strong play this
Game Thoughts: Eli Manning threw one touchdown against
an Eagles team literally starting people off the street at cornerback.
It was so embarrassing that Odell Beckham Jr. openly called out
the offensive game plan. It turns out the Pat Shurmur era isn’t
much different than the Ben McAdoo era. NFL teams continue to
execute game plans and agendas that are suboptimal. If the Giants
were incapable of exploiting the ghost of the Eagles defense,
what hope do they have against a Bears defense that is the only
defense to have recorded more interceptions (20) than touchdowns
allowed (19)? The targets will always be there for Beckham, but
the ceiling may not. Sterling Shepard is becoming irrelevant.
He’s surpassed 37 receiving yards just once in his past
six games. Evan Engram is dealing with a hamstring injury that
will likely keep him out this week. Rhett Ellison is his replacement,
but he is not a fantasy useful option. The Giants may be less
motivated because their season is now over. It’s just an
all-around bad situation for the Giants.
CHI FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.19
CHI FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.29
CHI FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.18
CHI FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.23
Running Game Thoughts: The Bears only allow 3.6 yards per carry
and have allowed a league low four rushing touchdowns. Saquon
Barkley may not be able to be efficient this week, but he will
volume his way to RB1 numbers because that’s what he does.
Barkley probably won’t be recording his fifth 100-yard rushing
effort, but he very well may increase his average targets per
game, which current sits a hair below eight. Barkley simply does
it all and while his ceiling may not be as high this week, his
floor remains amongst the best in all of football.
Panthers @ Buccaneers
- (Bales) Line: CAR -3.0 Total: 54.5
Game Thoughts: Cam Newton has been one of the most consistent
fantasy quarterbacks in the NFL this season. Through 11 weeks,
he’s averaging 245.4 yards and 2.0 touchdowns on 32.6 pass
attempts per game. He’s also averaging 37.9 yards and 0.4
touchdowns on the ground. Newton gets an elite matchup against
the Buccaneers, who are allowing 274.0 passing yards per game.
They have also allowed a league-high 26 passing touchdowns this
D.J. Moore has seemingly taken over the top receiver role for
the Panthers, and that will likely continue, even if the rest
of their receivers are healthy. Over the last two weeks, Moore
has totaled 15 receptions for 248 yards and one touchdown on 17
targets. Devin Funchess is expected to return this week, and he
saw eight targets in his last game. While he has struggled quite
a bit over his last few games, he does come with solid upside
in a plus matchup. Curtis Samuel (hamstring) is another receiver
that can be considered. He’s only averaging 3.1 targets
per game this season, but he has turned those into 2.4 receptions
for 24.5 yards per game. Most importantly, Samuel has found the
end zone six times, including scoring four touchdowns over his
last four games. Greg Olsen has also performed well for his position,
averaging 3.3 receptions for 34.8 yards and 0.5 touchdowns on
4.6 targets per game.
TB FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.5
TB FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.7
TB FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.5
TB FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.3
Running Game Thoughts: Christian McCaffrey is coming off of his
best game of the season, and he’s an elite fantasy option.
He’s averaging 124.1 yards and 0.9 touchdowns on 20.4 touches
(6.5 receptions) per game. While he has only seen 20+ touches
in one game this season, McCaffrey has seen 7.5 targets per game.
He’s an elite option regardless of game script because of
his ability to contribute in multiple categories. Tampa Bay is
allowing 116.7 rushing yards per game, while also allowing 14
rushing touchdowns in 2018.
Game Thoughts: The Panthers have struggled at times against
the pass, allowing 260.0 passing yards per game. They have allowed
25 passing touchdowns, while recording only 11 interceptions.
Jameis Winston will draw his fourth start of the season. Overall,
he has played in six games, averaging 282.0 yards and 1.7 touchdowns
on 33.7 pass attempts per game. He has thrown for over 300 yards
in each of his three complete games, while totaling seven touchdowns
(one rushing) in those games.
Mike Evans has looked outstanding, averaging 5.6 receptions for
97.5 yards and 0.5 touchdowns on 9.0 targets per game. He has
found more success with Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback, but he’s
coming off of a big game with Winston. Adam Humphries is a player
that has quietly caught fire for the Bucs. Over his last five
games, he’s averaging a 5.2 /65.0 / 0.8 line on 6.4 targets
per game. DeSean Jackson (thumb) is currently questionable, and
he makes a great option if he’s healthy and starting. If
he’s ruled out, Chris Godwin will likely draw the start,
and be in fantasy consideration. If Jackson is starting, Godwin
can be avoided, even in a plus matchup in which the Bucs should
be passing from the start to the finish. Cameron Brate has also
found plenty of success with Winston throughout his career, and
he’s a solid option with O.J. Howard injured.
CAR FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.6
CAR FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.25
CAR FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.13
CAR FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.1
Running Game Thoughts: Peyton Barber has been playing at a higher
level over the last two weeks, as he’s averaging 76.5 rushing
yards and 1.0 rushing touchdown on 18.0 carries per game. He gets
a terrible matchup against Carolina, though, who is allowing only
96.4 rushing yards per game this season. Furthermore, the Panthers
have allowed only eight rushing touchdowns this season making
Barber a player that is better left on your bench for the time
Jets @ Titans
- (Bales) Line: TEN -9.0 Total: 40.5
Game Thoughts: Sam Darnold (foot) is expected to be a
game-time decision this week, while Josh McCown (back) is questionable,
but likely to draw the start if Darnold is out. Neither player
has flashed much this season, and they are both high risk fantasy
options, who come with very little upside, especially in a difficult
matchup. The Titans are allowing only 230.0 passing yards per
game this season. They have allowed 16 passing touchdowns, while
recording six interceptions, as well. Regardless of their health,
both of these quarterbacks should be avoided.
Quincy Enunwa and Jermaine Kearse have found success throughout
the season, but both come with risk, especially in this matchup.
Enunwa is averaging 3.7 receptions for 43.7 yards over his last
three games. Kearse has been a significantly riskier option, but
he saw 12 targets last week. He turned those into six receptions
for 66 yards and one touchdown. Neither player makes a great option,
but they will see plenty of snaps for in a game the Jets should
be passing more than usual. Chris Herndon has caught fire since
Week 6, making him a viable tight end option. Over his last six
games, he’s averaging 3.5 receptions for 44.5 yards and
0.5 touchdowns on 4.5 targets per game.
TEN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.25
TEN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.27
TEN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.7
TEN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.32
Running Game Thoughts: The Titans have struggled at times against
the run, allowing 116.5 rushing yards per game. With that being
said, they have allowed only eight rushing touchdowns. Isaiah
Crowell has been the top running back for New York, but Elijah
McGuire has been stealing his snaps over the last few weeks. Neither
back makes a great option in a tough matchup with the Jets likely
playing from behind.
Game Thoughts: The have been an average defense against
the pass, allowing 246.0 passing yards per game this season. They
have also allowed 19 passing touchdowns, while recording 10 interceptions.
Mariota has quietly been playing at a higher level recently, throwing
for two touchdowns in three of his last four games. He also scored
20+ fantasy points in each of those three games. This is a sneaky
good matchup for Mariota, who makes a solid QB2 option.
Corey Davis has been a volume monster this season, as he’s
averaging a team-high 7.6 targets. He has turned those into 4.5
receptions for 63.8 yards and 0.3 touchdowns per game. Davis has
also scored 20+ fantasy points in two of his last three games.
Tajae Sharpe and Taywan Taylor have also been playing plenty of
snaps, but neither is seeing the volume to consistently make an
impact. Jonnu Smith has also caught fire over the last four weeks,
averaging a 3.3 / 46.3 / 0.8 line on 3.8 targets over that span.
NYJ FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.21
NYJ FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.12
NYJ FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.10
NYJ FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.28
Running Game Thoughts: Dion Lewis and Derrick Henry continue
to split snaps at running back. Henry should not be considered,
while Lewis comes with some upside. On the season, Lewis is averaging
67.2 yards and 0.2 touchdowns on 15.6 touches (3.9 receptions).
New York has struggled against the run, allowing 128.2 rushing
yards per game in 2018. They have also allowed 10 rushing touchdowns,
and Tennessee could be leading early in this game making Lewis
and uncomfortable RB2 in Week 13.
Game Thoughts: A week off to heal up and prepare for
a truly bad Oakland Raiders team has the Chiefs listed as a big
betting favorite heading into this Sunday’s contest. Quarterback
Patrick Mahomes is again among the top options on the board as
he’ll face a Raiders defense that has given up multiple
passing touchdowns in all but two games this season, and one of
those two games was this past week against Lamar Jackson when
they allowed one passing touchdown, one rushing touchdown and
a huge 26-point overall fantasy day to the rookie QB.
Mahomes has been an elite option all season, throwing for three
or more touchdown passes in eight of his 11 games thus far, putting
him on pace to contend for Peyton Manning’s 55-touchdown
single-season record. Wide receiver Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce
are also, once again, top options at their positions and it would
be disappointing to see them not put up big numbers in this great
The player that is up for discussion is Sammy Watkins, who has
been hit-or-miss this season, and has remained sidelined as of
Thursday with a foot injury. Watkins would be a reasonable option
as a WR3/Flex this week if he’s able to suit up, but it
might actually be more interesting if he rests up this week and
we’re given an opportunity to see more of Chris Conley.
Conley caught seven passes for 74 yards and two scores in Week
11’s shootout against the Rams as he played 89 percent of
the Chiefs’ snaps in relief of Watkins who played just five
total snaps. Conley is a big play specialist with physical ability
to put up decent fantasy numbers in this Chiefs offense. He’s
probably too risky to start in typical fantasy leagues, but he’s
a deep league option and certainly a low-priced DFS tournament
boom-or-bust sleeper candidate if Watkins is out.
OAK FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.12
OAK FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.8
OAK FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.17
OAK FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.8
Game Thoughts: Kareem Hunt has scored seven touchdowns
on the ground this season, but he’s also added seven touchdowns
as a receiver on just 26 catches. His usage in the passing game
hasn’t been as prevalent in the Patrick Mahomes-led offense
as it was in 2017 under checkdown king Alex Smith, but Hunt is
still producing monster fantasy numbers. Typically touchdown rates
like this are unsustainable, but the Chiefs offense as a whole
has been absurdly efficient and they’re shattering a lot
of the usual fantasy molds that we’ve become accustomed
to. For that reason, Hunt remains an elite option in just about
any matchup - but especially when he’s facing an embarrassingly
bad defense like the Raiders. Oakland has given up the more rushing
yards to opposing running backs this season than any other team
and Hunt has to be chomping at the bit to get a chance at his
second 100-yard rushing game of the season. Hunt is an elite play
this week and should be considered one of the safest options on
the board with high upside to go along with it.
12/1/18 Edit: The release of Kareem
Hunt from the Chiefs roster has cleared way for Spencer Ware to
re-assert himself into the fantasy picture as the presumed starter
in Kansas City. Ware missed the 2017 season which allowed Hunt
to become an RB1 in fantasy, but don’t forget that Ware
himself has been a fantasy producer in the past when given the
opportunity. He compiled over 1,300 total yards on under 250 touches
in 2016 and has rushed for a 5.6 yards per carry average here
in 2018. Make no mistake about it - there is a talent drop off
here, but it might not be as much as some think it will be. Ware
knows the offense, he’s been successful in it and he’ll
get an opportunity here in Week 13 to face an Oakland defense
that has been embarrassingly bad. Oakland has given up the more
rushing yards to opposing running backs this season than any other
team and Ware has an opportunity to prove himself as a potential
bell cow back down the stretch with a nice performance in this
contest. Look for Ware to get between 15 to 20 total touches,
which makes him at least a viable RB2 with RB1 upside in this
matchup. Damien Williams might also get some touches, but we should
view this as the Spencer Ware show until further notice.
Passing Game Thoughts: With just three total
touchdowns in his past four games, Oakland quarterback Derek Carr
is a very tough player to trust in fantasy right now. Tight end
Jared Cook continues to produce at a top-five level in a weak
season for the position overall, but the rest of this passing
game is just awful, especially now that Amari Cooper is gone.
Jordy Nelson hasn’t caught a pass since Week 9, Seth Roberts
hasn’t been productive enough to be considered a serious
fantasy option and Martavis Bryant continues to be out with knee
injury. This passing game is one we should be attempting to avoid.
The only way to justify playing Carr or any of his pass-catchers,
aside from Cook, is by predicting the game script. We assume that
the Chiefs will win this game relatively easily, but it could
lead to a lot of pass attempts from Carr if they fall behind by
multiple-scores early in the contest. That doesn’t necessarily
mean that they’ll be productive with those pass attempts,
but sometimes volume is enough to make a player like Carr into
a low-end QB1 option when it’s all said and done. We won’t
be predicting that, but it’s not out of the realm of possibilities
if you’re absolutely desperate.
KC FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.4
KC FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.3
KC FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.19
KC FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.5
Running Game Thoughts: If we assume that the Chiefs are going
to be ahead early in this game, then we have to seriously examine
what that means for the Raiders backfield. Veteran running back
Doug Martin has been getting between 10 to 15 carries per week,
including the majority of goal line touches, but he’s barely
used in the passing game. Meanwhile fellow running back Jalen
Richard is barely used as a runner but ranks fifth in the league
at the position with 53 receptions on the season. A negative game
script typically leads to more passes to running backs, especially
with an offense like the one we’re seeing in Oakland, so
there’s a real possibility that Richard not only leads the
Raiders’ backfield in fantasy production this week, but
he could also lead the entire team in catches. That obviously
means a lot more in PPR formats than standard formats, however,
so pay attention to your scoring system and plan accordingly.
Vikings at Patriots
- (Katz) Line: NE -5.0 Total: 49.5
Game Thoughts: Kirk Cousins has been more disappointing
than not this season. He showed well against the Packers last
week and now finds himself in a projected shootout with the Patriots.
The last time Cousins was involved in a shootout – well
– we all remember that Thursday night duel he had with Jared
Goff. Cousins should throw the ball a bunch this week, specifically
to the best WR duo in the league. After two down weeks (and by
down, I mean weeks where he didn’t reach 100 yards), Adam
Thielen once again eclipsed 100 yards. What’s interesting
is Thielen doesn’t have a single multi-touchdown game. He
has scored exactly once in all but three games this year.
The Patriots are allowing 16.5 FPts/G to opposing WR1s and 15.6
FPts/G to opposing slot receivers. Thielen is the Vikings WR1
and he also frequents the slot. When Thielen is in the slot, the
de facto “WR1” for purposes of tracking fantasy points
against is Stefon Diggs, who now has a touchdown in three straight
games. Diggs also has double digit targets in all but one game
this season. Cousins locks in on his two elite WRs, leaving very
little for the rest of the team. Kyle Rudolph had a usable game
last week for the first time since Week 5 but given the state
of the TE position, you could do worse.
NE FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.7
NE FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.21
NE FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.20
NE FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.4
Running Game Thoughts: Dalvin Cook scored a touchdown on a reception
last week. Otherwise, he was his typical unproductive self. Cook
managed just 29 yards on 10 carries, which is par for the course
considering the bad offensive line he’s running behind.
The Patriots have only allowed four rushing scores this season,
second fewest in the league, but they do struggle against pass
catching RBs. The thing is, The Vikings aren’t peppering
Cook with targets in the passing game. With Thielen and Diggs
around, there are very few designed throws to Cook. He is averaged
fewer than four targets per game. There’s also the problem
of workload. Latavius Murray actually saw one more carry than
Cook last week. While Murray cannot be used when Cook is healthy,
his presence is rendering Cook nothing more than a lower end fantasy
option, especially in a game where the Vikings may have to abandon
Game Thoughts: Let’s get the obvious out of the
way first – Tom Brady is not an every week must start QB1.
He hasn’t been for quite some time now going back to the
second half of last season. He has just three 300-yard passing
games this season. With all that being said, I think we’re
in for a true battle between Brady and Cousins this week. Rob
Gronkowski owners have to be happy with the touchdown he scored
last week - his first since Week 1. The targets are also there
as he has 15 over his past two games. The problem is he is still
exclusively reliant on touchdowns as he only has more than four
receptions in a game twice this season. The Vikings only allow
8.8 FPts/G to opposing TEs, but when adjusted for schedule, they
actually rank 27th in defending the position.
The real problem will be with Julian Edelman as the Vikings allow
the third fewest fantasy points to slot receivers. Regardless,
Edelman is a lock to see more than the five targets he saw last
week in what will be a far more competitive contest. Josh Gordon
is also on this team and will likely get to avoid Xavier Rhodes,
who strained his hamstring last week. Gordon has exactly four
or five receptions in each of his last six games. He’s a
safe option that has yet to show any sort of ceiling.
MIN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.28
MIN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.26
MIN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.31
MIN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.21
Running Game Thoughts: Sony Michel dominated last week, relegating
James White to nothing more than an RB3. It is amazing how quickly
things can change in the NFL landscape. As if Michel’s involvement
wasn’t enough, the Patriots activated Rex Burkhead from
IR earlier so he is sure to see a handful of snaps. This backfield
has once again become a nightmare. The Vikings have been one of
the worst teams in the league at defending pass catching RBs and
given the high projected point total in this game, White has a
decent shot to return to form. Michel should still be the man
on early downs and at the goal line, but the reality is we have
no idea how the Patriots will use Burkhead. If you have White
or Michel, you can’t really bench them, but you must be
prepared for a wide range of outcomes against a team allowing
just 3.6 yards per carry.
49ers at Seahawks
- (Caron) Line: SEA -10.0 Total: 46.0
Game Thoughts: Nick Mullens had an impressive NFL debut
against the Raiders back in Week 9, but it’s been all downhill
since as the 49ers have lost each of their past two games against
the hapless Giants and Buccaneers. Mullens has thrown a touchdown
and eclipsed 200 yards in each of those two games, but he’s
accompanied those numbers with two interceptions in each of those
games and he’s been an irrelevant fantasy option.
What he has done is continued to focus on tight end George Kittle
who is enjoying a breakout season. Kittle has gone for 19 total
catches for 239 yards and a touchdown in the three games Mullens
has played and he’s again an elite option this week as he’ll
be up against a Seahawks defense that has given up three touchdowns
to the tight end position over their past three games. Seattle
has been good against opposing tight ends throughout most of the
season, but they’ve also played a pretty weak schedule.
Kittle will be the best fantasy tight end they’ve faced
all season and he should enjoy a healthy target share again this
week with plenty of touchdown upside.
With Marquise Goodwin away from the team, dealing with personal
matters and Pierre Garcon still hobbled with a knee injury, the
49ers will again likely be relying heavily on wide receivers Dante
Pettis and Kendrick Bourne. Neither player is a great fantasy
option, but Pettis’ target share is something to keep an
eye on. He could see plenty of passes come his way and may be
worth a flier as a cheap option in DFS tournaments.
SEA FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.26
SEA FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.14
SEA FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.16
SEA FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.25
Running Game Thoughts: Running back Matt Breida
is still dinged up with an ankle injury but has been able to suit
up and perform well on game days as of late. Despite the 49ers
losing each of their past two games, Breida has been able to eclipse
100 rushing yards along with 30 receiving yards in each of those
two contests. The big thing to note is that veteran running back
Alfred Morris - who had been seeing a significant number of carries
this season and pulling down Breida’s fantasy value - was
a healthy scratch from the 49ers’ 53-man roster this past
week. That may not happen again, but it shows that the 49ers coaching
staff has confidence in Breida to not only stay healthy, but be
the team’s bell cow back.
A matchup on the road in Seattle isn’t ideal, but Breida
is the kind of player who may only need 12 to 15 touches to produce
a solid fantasy day. We’ll consider him an RB2 in this matchup
against the Seahawks’ middle-of-the-road fantasy defense
against opposing running backs, but Breida does have some upside
against this defense as they’ve given up three 100-yard
rushing days over their past four contests.
Game Thoughts: He hasn’t been the elite fantasy
quarterback that he was in 2017, but Russell Wilson has settled
in as at least a serviceable and trustworthy weekly starter down
the stretch this season. The Seattle QB has thrown for multiple
touchdown passes in all but one game, including this past week’s
contest against the Panthers when he threw for a season-high 339
yards. The problem for Wilson’s fantasy upside has actually
been his lack of rushing, which has been his biggest asset throughout
the early years of his career. Excluding the big Week 10 performance
against the Rams when he rushed for 92 yards, Wilson has been
held to an average of just 14 yards per game on the ground. That
means he might as well be a standard pocket-passing QB, which
really reduces his overall fantasy appeal.
His receivers have benefited from this new pass-focused Wilson,
however. In particular, wide receiver Tyler Lockett has continued
to put up big numbers and he’s now scored eight receiving
touchdowns despite catching just 43 total passes. That touchdown
rate of nearly 20 percent of his catches is seemingly unsustainable,
but he just continues to do it; so it’s tough to deny that
he’s got a good chance to score each week. The 49ers have
given up four touchdowns to opposing wide receivers over their
past two games, so that’s another check in the favor Lockett.
Fellow wide receiver David Moore has been quietly emerging in
this Seattle offense as well, and actually eclipsed 100 receiving
yards for the first time in his career this past week against
the Panthers. Moore himself has scored five touchdowns on just
22 receptions, which puts him right along the same pace of Lockett
in turns of unsustainable touchdown rate.
Doug Baldwin, on the other hand, now has 35 receptions while
scoring just one touchdown - a touchdown rate that is far below
league average and should theoretically be in line for positive
regression - but he’s dealing with a groin injury that has
held him out of practice and is clearly hampering him on the field.
Baldwin is likely still the top weapon in this passing game in
terms of target share, but he’s been much less efficient
than Lockett and Moore with his chances when he’s been healthy,
let alone now that he’s dealing with an injury.
SF FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.16
SF FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.17
SF FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.11
SF FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.19
Running Game Thoughts: The Seahawks continue to be intent on running
the ball, even when it’s been at the detriment of their
overall success. Running back Chris Carson has seen 33 carries
over his past two games and while he’s still practically
a ghost in the passing game, he’s been effective enough
as a runner to be a viable fantasy option in a matchup like he’ll
see here in Week 13 against the 49ers. San Francisco has given
up 11 total touchdowns to opposing running backs, including one
this past week to Peyton Barber in Tampa Bay. The Seahawks have
been fairly outspoken with their plans and things seem to be pointing
to another heavy workload for Carson this week, who is a better
option in standard-scoring formats than he is in PPR, but should
be an RB2 in either scoring system.
Game Thoughts: Philip Rivers enters Sunday Night’s
matchup against the Steelers as the No.13 ranked quarterback with
23.6 fantasy points per game. In a season filled with amazing
fantasy performances from Patrick Mahomes, Drew Brees, and Jared
Goff, Rivers is easily posting the best season of his 16-year
Rivers is on pace to throw for 4500 yards, with a career-high
37 touchdowns and just eight interceptions. Perhaps the mark of
eight interceptions is the most impressive aspect of Rivers’
game this season as turning the ball over has always been something
that ate into his fantasy value.
The wide receiving corps of Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, and
Tyrell Williams rank tenth in combined fantasy points. Allen continues
to be the primary weapon for Rivers and the main focus on the
passing game, while Mike Williams has developed into a dangerous
red zone threat with seven receiving touchdowns in 11 games, and
Tyrell is the favorite downfield threat when Rivers wants to take
a shot deep. The latter Williams continues to be limited with
a quad injury and could miss this game, opening up the possibility
for more targets for Allen and Mike Williams.
Outside of the crazy six-touchdown game by Patrick Mahomes in
Week 2, the Steelers pass defense has done a solid job limiting
big plays from their opponents. No quarterback has thrown for
more than 300 yards against Pittsburgh since Week 4, and only
Patrick Mahomes and Ryan Fitzpatrick have managed to throw for
more than three passing touchdowns.
Case Keenum, Blake Bortles, Cam Newton, and Baker Mayfield were
all held below 200 passing yards against the Steelers, a unit
that continues to improve as the playoffs quickly approach.
One area in which opposing teams have found success in the passing
game against the Steelers is at the tight end position. Pittsburgh
ranks 10th in fantasy points allowed to the TE, with five receiving
touchdowns and 705 yards allowed on 63 receptions. Starting veteran
Antonio Gates may take a bit of intestinal fortitude, especially
after he burned owners with one catch for 18 yards last week.
But this matchup dictates that he could be a sneaky start and
should garner some consideration in DFS.
PIT FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.17
PIT FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.23
PIT FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.21
PIT FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.10
Running Game Thoughts: Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson will
be asked to share the rushing load for the interim with starter
Melvin Gordon out for a few weeks with an MCL strain. Jackson
rushed for 57 yards on seven carries last week after Gordon went
down, while Ekeler added five carries for 35 yards and a touchdown.
Ekeler is the better play in both formats, especially in PPR as
a favorite target of Rivers’ out of the backfield, but Jackson
should also be considered as a strong flex play.
The Steelers allow the ninth-fewest fantasy points to opposing
running backs and do not present a solid matchup for either player.
Phillip Lindsay and the Broncos rushed for 110 yards and a touchdown
on 14 carries last week in Denver, but he was the only running
back to top 100 yards vs. Pittsburgh and defensive lineman Stephon
Tuitt was out with an injury. Tuitt was a full participant in
practice on Thursday and looks primed to return to the lineup.
An injury to watch that could have a significant effect on the
way the Chargers run their offense is a pectoral injury to pass
rush specialist Bud Dupree. If Dupree is not able to play this
week the Steelers will be without one of their best pass rushers
opposite of TJ Watt.
Game Thoughts: Death, Taxes, and Ben Roethlisberger having
a big game at home in primetime are things that are certainties
in life. Big Ben has won just over 80% of games played at night,
with a passer rating nearly seven full percentage points higher
than during the day. For his career, his passer rating at home
is a full ten points higher than when he plays on the road, and
his touchdown to interception ratio is significantly higher when
playing at Heinz Field. Unless Big Ben is playing against the
Jaguars, you pretty much have a high floor and a monster ceiling
when he plays and home in front of a national audience.
An interesting fact that I discovered while researching this
matchup, Big Ben and the Steelers are barely over .500 when playing
the afternoon time slot on Sunday. Not much help in this game,
but something to consider in future matchups and for betting purposes.
Fantasy owners will want to start Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster
in all formats, as they are auto starts who should never be benched.
Brown will likely be covered by Casey Hayward for most of the
game. Hayward is one of the better cover corners in the league
and has done a solid job limiting No.1 WRs this season, but Brown
should still be viewed as a high-end WR1 and started regardless.
Two of the biggest games of the year have come from routes run
out of the slot by Tyreek Hill and Robert Woods, giving Smith-Schuster
owners hope for another big game.
It initially looked like Vance McDonald would miss this game
with a leg injury sustained last week against the Broncos, opening
the door for the outlaw Jesse James to have sneaky value in deeper
leagues. McDonald was a full participant in practice on Thursday
after a limited designation on Wednesday, making him a likely
start on Sunday Night against the Chargers. A few players have
found success against Los Angeles with tight ends, but nothing
stands out as a strong matchup for either McDonald or James. You
never know when a massive breakout game could happen for a Steelers
tight end, especially in prime time, but they could also burn
owners in a critical Week 13 fantasy matchup.
The Chargers continue to get healthy on the defensive side of
the ball with the return of pass rush star Joey Bosa. Over the
past three games, only the Vikings and Bills have allowed fewer
points to opposing quarterbacks.
LAC FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.29
LAC FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.19
LAC FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.26
LAC FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.22
Running Game Thoughts: After a monster first
half of the season that included three 30-point performances,
James Conner has been a disappointment as of late with two single-digit
performances against the Jaguars and Broncos. His touches have
gone down drastically during that span to just 17 or fewer, and
his average of 48 yards per game in his last three games is half
of what he was doing earlier in the season.
Conner will look to right the ship in a primetime matchup against
a Chargers team that ranks the middle of the pack in points allowed
to running backs. Todd Gurley found great success with 105 yards
and one rushing touchdown Week 3, but one can take that will a
grain of salt as Gurley and the Rams run over everyone. The Broncos
duo of Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman combined for three rushing
touchdowns two weeks ago, while David Johnson was held to just
63 yards on 17 carries last week.
There is little from the matchup, injury, or momentum standpoint
that suggests Conner is in line to break out of his funk. If you
buy into the primetime game narrative he could be pumped to deliver
on the big stage, but the fact is the Steelers need to give him
more touches, especially on the ground, and he needs to be more
efficient with those touches. It would also be helpful for him
to not fumble the ball or drop easy touchdown passes like he did
against the Jags.
Redskins at Eagles
- (Katz) Line: PHI -6.0 Total: 45.0
Game Thoughts: This is an extremely important game in
the NFC East and the Redskins will once again be relying on Colt
McCoy to pull off an upset. McCoy was actually a serviceable option
last week, throwing for 268 yards and two touchdowns, but his
bugaboo has always been his propensity to give the ball to the
other team, which he did three times against a Cowboys defense
that struggles to generate takeaways. The positive side of the
coin is that the Eagles secondary is absolutely decimated by injury.
They are down to fifth and sixth string cornerbacks. Even a weak
receiving corps led by Josh Doctson and Mr. Irrelevant, Trey Quinn,
are in consideration in this matchup.
With the Redskins as touchdown underdogs and the absence of a
running game, McCoy will have to throw. McCoy targeted Jordan
Reed eight times last week and he now has back to back “best
game of the season” efforts with McCoy under center. The
Eagles have been a top five team at defending the TE, but much
of that occurred back when they actually had NFL caliber defenders.
The Eagles are allowing 276 passing yards per game and have forced
just five interceptions. McCoy is a desperation streaming option
along with a potential sneaky game from Doctson, who saw 10 targets
PHI FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.11
PHI FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.20
PHI FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.2
PHI FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.29
Running Game Thoughts: The Redskins offensive line is about as
injured as the Eagles secondary. That has been a problem for Adrian
Peterson, who has been arguably the most game script dependent
RB in the league. Peterson is averaging just 25.8 rushing yards
per game in losses. This game projects as a loss. Additionally,
Chris Thompson looks like might return this week and could see
a fair amount of usage if the Redskins are trailing as we would
expect. The Eagles struggle against pass catching RBs so if CT
does play, he might be worth Flex consideration. The Eagles allow
4.9 yards per carry, but, unfortunately, I don’t think that
fact will help AP this week.
Game Thoughts: What happened to Carson Wentz? After being
one of the most reliable QB1s in the league for two months, he
has now spent two weeks looking like a rookie. Wentz has just
one touchdown pass in his last two games while turning it over
three times. The Redskins just allowed a season best performance
to Dak Prescott so this appears like a great spot for Wentz to
get back on track. Of course, so was last week against the Giants.
Since Golden Tate joined the team, everyone on the offense has
taken a hit. Zach Ertz is still an elite TE1, but Alshon Jeffery
hasn’t surpassed four catches or 48 yards in four straight
games and Tate himself has a high game of 5-48. Nelson Agholor
and Jordan Matthews have been rendered irrelevant. It is difficult
to trust anyone on the Eagles outside of Ertz, even against a
Redskins defense allowing 18.6 FPts/G to opposing WR1s.
WAS FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.10
WAS FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.22
WAS FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.8
WAS FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.27
Running Game Thoughts: The Josh Adams takeover is complete. He
is the man going forward and a legitimate weekly RB2. Adams didn’t
see a target last week, which was unfortunate, but he carried
the ball 22 times for 84 yards and a touchdown. He also had another
long score erased on a holding penalty. Adams is always capable
of busting a big play, which is an area the Redskins have been
excellent in. The Redskins have not allowed a rush longer than
21 yards all season, which is best in the league. Regardless,
volume should be there for Adams, which is not something we have
been able to say about any Eagles RB in the Doug Pederson era.
Combine that with projected positive game script and Adams is
a must start this week.