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NFL Game by Game Breakdown Week 12

NFL Game by Game Breakdown Week 12

It was a pretty solid Thursday to get us off and running for the week. The team and the Game by Game hit on a lot of the right plays, even if neither game was all that exciting. We might have 12 games on the main slate, but that seems very much in doubt because the Ravens can’t get their act together. If it plays, that breakdown is in the Thanksgiving Day Game by Game. It will be updated with any pertinent information like Lamar Jackson missing IF it plays. For now, we can focus on the 11 games that seem to be safe and get ready for who we want to play and stack up in NFL Game By Game Breakdown Week 12!

Titans at Colts, O/U of 51.5 (Colts -3)

Titans – Pace is 4th

QB – These two teams are well-acquainted since they just played each other in Week 10. That’s a game that Ryan Tannehill would just as soon forget since it was his worst fantasy game of the season, not even breaking 11 DK points. Overall for Tannehill, the numbers look pretty strong once again. He only has five turnovers on the season to go with 22 touchdown passes and one rushing score. He remains great on a pPD point of view, ranking fifth at 0.56. Tannehill’s biggest “issue” for fantasy is the Titans are 27th in pass plays per game.

That doesn’t leave him a lot of room for any inefficiency and the matchup doesn’t do him any favors either. Even after getting tagged by Aaron Rodgers, the Colts defense still ranks fourth in DVOA and fourth in passing yards allowed per game. There’s another quarterback who is $100 cheaper in a smash spot late on and even in GPP’s with more popularity, I’d probably rather play that player. Tannehill is only on the board as an MME option to me.

RB – It’s very possible that Derrick Henry comes in as a stealth option this week. Three of his last four games he’s rushed for over 100 yards and he’s hit at least 14.9 DK in those three games. Even against Indy the first time around, Henry ran for 103 and was actually at a 5.4 YPC. Once Tennessee got down later in the game, Henry wasn’t a huge factor since he only has 22 targets on the season. If the game had stayed closer he could have had an even bigger game. The tougher matchup on paper and lack of pass catching leaves him out of cash for me this week. Indy is fourth against the run in DVOA and third in rushing yards allowed per game, but they have allowed 111 yards per contest in the past three. You could catch Henry under 10% and he’s capable of going off for 30 DK here with multiple touchdowns.

*Update* Colts defensive stud DeForest Buckner is out with Covid and that is a big-time boost to Henry and honestly the whole offense. Buckner is among the best lineman in the game and he’s a key cog for the Indy defense. I know Ghost is on Henry and I’m on board with this call. Make sure to check out the live stream on Sunday at 11am to get his take!

WR – The nose for the end zone with A.J.. Brown continues as he scored again last week. He’s only been held out of the end zone just twice so far this season and one of those times was two weeks ago against the Colts. What game log watcher might not realize is AJB dropped what could have been a monster play in that game and seemed to get rattled after that. He’s back under $7,000 and despite the more difficult matchup statistically, I think he needs to be on the radar. Xavier Rhodes has been playing like one of the best corners in the league with a 1.40 pPT and 47.9% catch rate allowed but AJB is special.

Corey Davis just keeps chugging and it doesn’t seem like anyone is giving him any attention. Considering he’s the WR2 in a run-based offense, 549 yards in eight games is a pretty big deal. He turned in 19.3 DK points last week and saw his price rise by just $100. Davis actually holds a very slight edge in air yards over Brown and is only four targets behind him for the team lead. I said it last week, but the price disparity really shouldn’t be this wide. Even though Brown has four more touchdowns, he’s only out-scored Davis by 20 PPR points this season. He also gets the easier matchup on paper against Rock Ya-Sin who sits at a 1.70 pPT and a 69.8% catch rate.

TE – Indy has been fairly lethal against tight ends so far with the fourth-fewest DK points allowed per game. They have only allowed one touchdown and it was scored on a rush attempt by one Jonnu Smith, who has some serious touchdown appeal. Only Darren Waller of the Raiders has a higher RZ share, as Smith is at 30.9%. Smith is tied for the third-most RZ targets overall and fourth in EZ targets. He needs every once of touchdown upside he can get because Smith only runs a route on 59.6% of his snaps, 27th in the league. Much like the Titans offense as a whole, I don’t mind him exactly but he’s not a cash play or close to it.

D/ST – For all the good Coach Mike Vrabel has done with this team, the defensive side of the ball is just not that great. They allow right about 26 points per game and have just 12 sacks on the entire year. That’s the second-fewest in the league and the Titans are 32nd in pressure rate at just 17.5%. I’ll pass on them.

Cash – None

GPP – Henry, Davis, Brown, Smith, Tannehill

Colts – Pace is 20th

QB – The production for Philip Rivers has been better lately with seven touchdowns in the past four games, but that doesn’t mean it’s all that great. It also doesn’t mean his price should be $6,100 and I’m basically not all that interested at that salary. He does have a toe injury that was bugging him on Sunday but he’s still expected to start. Rivers just hasn’t been anything special at his position all year. He’s 25th in pDB, points per game, 23rd in touchdowns, 12th in passing yards and 13th in attempts. That’s not what we like to go after, especially at the salary. Rivers threw for 308 yards last game but only had one touchdown, capping him under 19 DK points. That would technically be a 3x return but just barely. We have better options even though Tennessee is just 25th in DVOA against the pass.

RB – Lol. I hate this backfield. After Nyheim Hines shredded Tennessee for over 100 scrimmage yards, I figured the Colts would ride the hot hand into their next game. Well, that was a swing and a miss. Hines only touched the ball nine times and played under 40% of the snaps. The somewhat good news was Jordan Wilkins was minimized with just five touches. Rookie Jonathan Taylor entered the game having been iced out of the offense the past couple weeks. Naturally, he had 26 touches and actually had a longer run called back that would have pushed him up near 30 DK.

It’s just impossible to know who’s going to get the work every week. Taylor is the most talented back and he could have a big game this week. The Titans are 19th in DVOA against the run and are 20th in rushing yards allowed per game. Additionally, they’ve given up 14 total touchdowns. It’s nice to know that Taylor was targeted in the passing game. I’m 49% sure that if you threw me in the backfield, Rivers would target me just because I was the “running back” on the play. If you think Leonard Fournette has bad hands, you haven’t seen anything. Anyways, Taylor is my back of choice but you simply cannot consider him in cash.

*Update* Taylor is out on the Covid list and Hines really jumps to the forefront with his salary. I still expect there to be some type of split between Hines and Wilkins. Hines is my priority but Wilkins could be a nice pivot off the chalkier $4,000 running back we’ll talk about later.

WR – The weapons for Indy are very difficult to figure out and that extends past the running backs. Since Michael Pittman came back in Week 8 from injury, the highest target share is Zach Pascal…at 13.89. He has one more target than Pittman, and that leads the team in that four week period. The good news for Pittman is he’s flashed big play ability, with 40 and 45 yard receptions in back to back games. Those have come after the catch for the most part and we see the blend of size and speed that led him to be a high second-round pick. Malcolm Butler isn’t a corner that makes me scared at all.

Pascal himself likely doesn’t have the same upside that Pittman does, although the RZ work is just 3-2 to Pittman’s favor. I can no longer play T.Y. Hilton as he has no touchdowns, sits 76th in yards, 65th in receptions and is 58th in air yards in the NFL.

TE – Find someone in your life that loves you like Rivers loves his tight ends. Mo Alie-Cox and Jack Doyle both played over 50% of the snaps last week, while Trey Burton was around 35%. Doyle saw six targets, Alie-Cox saw two and Burton saw five. He and Doyle both hauled in a touchdown, but Doyle finished under eight DK points and Burton barely cleared 10. It’s a mess and having potentially 7-8 players that can be involved any week is a nightmare. With the Titans being in the bottom 10 to tight ends and allowing six scores, one of these players is scoring. Burton has the most RZ targets with Pittman active so he’s the one I’d lean, though Doyle holds slight appeal in MME formats at minimum price.

D/ST – I normally don’t like using defenses against the Titans. They have the fewest giveaways in the NFL at five and Tannehill has only been sacked 14 times. The Colts have generated the third-most turnovers in the league and have 22 sacks, so they are generally cheaper than they should be. It’s just not likely to get a ceiling game in this one.

Cash – Hines

GPP – Pittman, Burton, Rivers, Pascal, Doyle

Cardinals at Patriots, O/U of 49.5 (Cardinals -1.5)

Cardinals – Pace is 2nd

QB – There has to be some lingering concerns for Kyler Murray, who injured his shoulder the last game we saw him. It seemed to affect his throws and he only ran five times, matching his season-low. Considering that game was one that they trailed, you’d have to think not running much was a choice. Provided he’s cleared and everything is fine, Murray is still the cheat code at the quarterback position. His running alone makes him a worthy choice every week but the passing upside gives him 40 DK point upside. Kyler is still first in pDB at 0.66 and points per game so the price is totally fair. If you’re scoring 20 DK points on a floor game, that says a lot in and of itself. The Pats are down to 30th in DVOA against the pass, and Kyler should be able to have his way as long as he’s healthy.

*Update* The Cardinals are having discussion about making three quarterbacks active just in case. Murray would not be a player I’d use in that scenario and Mahomes $200 cheaper would be the play about 98 times out of 100 for me.

RB – Ever since Kenyan Drake has come back, he and Chase Edmonds have split snaps almost 50/50. However, Drake has the advantage in touches in a pretty major way at 32-17. New England isn’t much to fear on either front with being ranked 31st in DVOA against the run and allowing the 21st most rushing yards per contest. I actually like Drake a decent amount here. Yes, Murray has the chance to tilt you every single trip to the red zone but Drake has a 7-4 lead in RZ attempts the past two weeks. Folks could see the snap rate being so close and assume the workload is the same, but that hasn’t been true at all. Give me the touches when the prices are about the same. If Murray isn’t running to protect the shoulder, I think the ceiling really takes off for Drake. He might well be one of my favorite GPP plays of the entire slate.

WR – I’m going to be very interested to see where the perception is on DeAndre Hopkins this week. He’s coming off one of the more single disappointing games of the year, flopping against the terrible Seahawks secondary. Now he gets to face Stephon Gilmore and it needs to be said that Gilmore has been way worse this season. Nuk is still third in raw targets and has a 28.8% target share on the season, so the price is justified. If we can get him sub-5% I’m going to be interested. Gilmore has been far worse in 2020. Through 38 targets, he’s allowing a 13.8 YPR and a 105 passer rating.

Hopkins wasn’t the only player that disappointed last game as Christian Kirk didn’t break double-digit DK points. Kyler was content to dump the ball to Larry Fitzgerald all night so Hopkins and Kirk suffered a bit. That’s not a fear this week because Fitzgerald has Covid, so the Cards lose his 17.1% target share. We normally fear Bill Belichick taking away the primary weapon for the opposite team, but I’m not convinced the Patriots are capable this year. Kirk should see J.C. Jackson, who can be picked on as well with a 2.10 pPT. Andy Isabella enters as a GPP target with Fitzgerald out, but just remember he’s not exactly draped himself in glory in limited chances this year.

TE – Unless it’s a showdown slate, we can safely ignore any Cardinals tight end.

D/ST – Quietly, the Arizona defense is ninth in total DVOA and have 12 takeaways and 25 sacks. They are priced fairly with the Patriots having 15 giveaways and they allow the second-highest pressure rate in football at 27.7%. The Cards are in the upper half in pressure rate even with the loss of Chandler Jones. This is not a bad play at all.

Cash – Drake (I feel safe with him but he’s not needed), D/ST

GPP – Kyler (pending health updates), Hopkins, Kirk, Edmonds, Isabella

Patriots – Pace is 21st

QB – I guess Cam Newton heard me say he lacked passing upside because all he did was go out and throw for 345 yards this past week. He only ran three times against the worst rushing defense in football, because 2020. My concerns with Newton still run deep. He’s just 13th in pDB, 15th in points per game and 36th in passing touchdowns. Rushing production can overcome some of these numbers but the matchup is significantly tougher this week. Arizona is 13th in DVOA against the pass and 18th in yards allowed, to go with an 18:8 TD:INT ratio. Newton has multi-touchdown upside every game but I’m not a fan of the price and the risk he brings as a quarterback. Those weapons are still not good.

RB – The Pats are down a back with the injury to Rex Burkhead, which opens up some potential for James White. He was targeted nine times this past week and of course the game script played a big part in that. We might have a similar spot as far as script if New England has to chase points with the Cards. White isn’t likely to do much on the ground with just 21 attempts on the season, but Burkhead had an 11.6% target share. We know that White is accomplished in the passing game and this spot sets up for him to be my favorite Patriots back. He might even be one of the better cheap backs on the entire slate if projected game script goes right. One player I won’t be looking at is Damien Harris. Not only does he not catch passes with a 2% target share, Sony Michel is likely to be active this week. Harris and Michel occupy he same style of role for New England, and I don’t want to play a back with no pass catching upside at almost $6,000.

WR – I talked myself into Jakobi Meyers last week with his salary and the fact he was getting roughly 40% of the targets since he came back in Week 7. Of course in true Patriots fashion it was Damiere Byrd who went bonkers for just about 30 DK points. Even after the dud, Meyers still has a 29.8% target share and nearly 50% of the air yard share in this offense. As we were sharply reminded of last week, there is some significant volatility to this passing game. Byrd should face a healthy bit of Patrick Peterson. Byrd has the ability to get behind him as P2 was getting roasted all night against Seattle. However, to say there’s a difference between D.K. Metcalf and Byrd is the understatement of the year. Meyers should face Byron Murphy who has been solid this year with a 1.40 pPT. I don’t love either player this week.

TE – Ryan Izzo is under a 7% target share on the with 12 receptions and has one RZ target.

D/ST – They’re playing the seventh-best scoring offense and have no real means to contain Kyler. Even at the bargain price and the fact they’ve gotten their pressure rate up to 26.5%, I can’t see reasons to playing them this week. That would change if Kyler isn’t all that healthy.

Cash – White

GPP – Meyers, Byrd, Cam

Browns at Jaguars, O/U of 49 (Browns -6)

Browns – Pace is 24th

QB – The Browns may finally get a game that doesn’t involve weather, but that doesn’t mean I’m looking to play Baker Mayfield in any real capacity. He’s almost fantasy irrelevant and sure looks like he’s overrated with each passing week. The pDB is under league average at 0.45 and the points per game is 28th. Sure, some of that has been out of his hands these past few weeks but the production hasn’t been there outside of one anomaly game all year. He’s thrown 15 touchdowns and five came in one game. That means he’s barely averaging one touchdown per game otherwise.

Even when he had a four week stretch where he threw two touchdowns in every game, he never topped 17.5 DK points. The matchup is glorious. Jacksonville is 31st in DVOA against the pass, allow the fourth-most yards and 21 touchdown passes so far. However, the projected game script is likely very run heavy and the floor for Baker is palpable.

RB – How some folks treat Nick Chubb this week is an interesting Rorschach test, if you will. There’s a circle of analysts who dislike playing a back like Derrick Henry due to lack of pass catching and general floor outcomes in cash. Well, Chubb is about a $500 cheaper version of Henry. If anyone thinks Henry is a poor cash play, Chubb isn’t much better.

He’s played six games so far (five full games) and has four targets. FOUR. In the two weeks he’s come back, Chubb only has two RZ attempts to nine for Kareem Hunt. Even if some of that is a little bit of bad luck, that’s eye-opening. On the season as a whole, it’s 32-12 for Hunt. If that trend continues, Chubb appears to be cheap but is actually quite expensive. Assuming he gets zeroed in the pass game, he needs roughly 120-ish yards with the three point bonus and one touchdown to hit 3x. That’s a lot, even if the 21st ranked DVOA runs defense doesn’t seem daunting.

It’s going to be tempting to not just plug in Hunt if you want exposure. We should expect Cleveland to control this game, which means a lot of run plays. In the past two weeks with Chubb back, Hunt still has 32 attempts and four receptions. The touches are near equal, and Hunt has the aforementioned RZ work going for him. Hunt’s price dropped dramatically and I may actually prefer him to get exposure to this backfield. I also think Hunt is the better cash play at salary.

WR – With the ceiling so low for Mayfield this year, it’s not easy to love the receiving options. I will say that even though the results have been putrid, I can’t come away from he 29.0% target share for Jarvis Landry since Odell Beckham tore his ACL. Now that they actually have weather that can not kill the passing game, Landry could be stealthy on DK. What is a little surprising is the 45.9% slot rate. That’s not as high as we’ve come to know with Landry but that doesn’t hurt him either. He’s barely over $5,000 and that target share typically isn’t so cheap. The matchup with Tre Herndon isn’t an issue since he’s allowing a 118.2 passer rating.

Rashard Higgins has been the deep threat in this time frame with a 15.7 aDOT and unsurprisingly, it’s been a bit of a struggle. He has 7/127 in three games which doesn’t look like much but the matchup is why you possibly chase. Sidney Jones is the Jags best corner with a 54.5% catch rate allowed but he’s also only played six games. There’s a super low floor if the Browns run 40 times here.

TE – Is it maybe Austin Hooper week….again? I know, I’ve said it for about three weeks running but remember – this is mostly written on Tuesday. We’ve had reasons to bail on the Cleveland game for the last three weeks. Hooper has an 18.9% target share in his two games back and the Jaguars are tied for the lead in touchdowns given up to tight ends this year at eight. They rank seventh in yards given up and every team that has given up more yards have also given up more receptions. Landry, Hunt and Hooper are the only players with RZ targets in the past three weeks and I like Hooper to have a shot to score here.

D/ST – I need to know who’s starting at quarterback here. If it’s Gardner Minshew, I’ll pass because the Browns are still without stud lineman Myles Garrett. You can make a fairly strong case that the Jags with Minshew are a better offense than Philly and Carson Wentz. There, I said it.

*Update* It is not Minshew…..

Cash – Landry, Hunt, Hooper

GPP – Chubb, Higgins, Baker

Jaguars – Pace is 6th

QB – Please, please let Minshew get back for this game. His pDB is not great at just 23rd, but he was 14th in points per game at the time of injury and he has 13 touchdowns in just seven games. Jacksonville was top 10 in pass attempts with him active and the matchup is juicy. Cleveland is 15th in DVOA against the pass but their pass rush is blunted right now. Additionally, they are 21st in passing yards allowed and are tied for fourth in touchdowns given up. Jake Luton has looked like a sixth-round rookie outside of one massive play to kick off his career. Yes, the Steelers are one of the best defenses in football but a 2:6 TD:INT ratio is tough to stomach, even at $5,200. If it’s Minshew, I’m very interested. If it’s Luton, I’d rather play Baker.

*Update* Mike Glennon will be starting Sunday and I have absolutely no interest. He’s played 29 games in his career and while the 36:20 TD:INT ratio isn’t bad, he averages under 200 yards per game. He hasn’t seen any real game action since 2017 and there’s an incredibly low floor for Glennon here.

RB – I don’t appear to be giving James Robinson enough credit lately. This dude touches the ball all the time no matter what. In the last four weeks, he has 95 total touches and has churned out a least 11.4 DK points. That might not sound great for results, but the Steelers game drags it down some. If you can pencil him in for at least ~18 touches, he has to be considered at this salary, even if it’s just for GPP. No running back has a higher percentage of the position’s carries on his team, 96.1%. Cleveland is once again dead average in DVOA against the run at 15, but they are eighth in rush yards allowed per game. It’s not a sparkling matchup but the floor seems pretty safe for Robinson.

WR – To make matters tougher for Glennon, his entire receiving corps is questionable right now. D.J. Chark hasn’t practiced this week, an ominous sign. Laviska Shenault was limited, but that’s all he’s been able to manage after missing two straight games. Even Chris Conley was limited. Look, none of these players are going to be the highest priority. We need some clarity before figuring out matchups so look for an update as we go.

*Update* We have a lot to cover here. Firstly, Chark and Conley are both out. That’s a 20.9% target share and a 12.9% target share, not to mention a combined 13 RZ targets and 10 EZ targets. Not only that, but the Browns are down their best corner, Denzel Ward. Both Shenault and Keelan Cole will step into much bigger roles this week. I will prefer Shenault with an aDOT of just 5.6 to Cole’s 10.4 and I would expect Shenaul to get a rushing attempt or two. Glennon is scary for a ceiling game for either player but they are perfectly fine punts. Cole has been much more in the slot this year but I don’t think that holds up with the limited bodies they have.

TE – Regardless of quarterback, I’m completely uninterested here. Tyler Eifert is going to catch a random touchdown here and there but that’s not something we should chase. His target share is barely 11% and he has seven RZ looks. With just 19 receptions, the floor is scary low.

D/ST – They’re dead last in sacks, have only 10 takeaways and can’t really stop the run. Hard pass.

Cash – Shenault

GPP – Robinson, Cole

Dolphins at Jets, O/U of 44 (Dolphins -7)

Dolphins – Pace is 30th

QB – Coach Brian Flores is playing a dangerous game of quarterback roulette right now, in my eyes. He took Ryan Fitzpatrick out of the starter role despite Fitz playing mostly well. Eight interceptions isn’t great, but the Dolphins were 3-1 and fighting for the AFC East when he made the move. Tua Tagovailoa started that past four games but got yanked in Denver in the fourth. Flores said it was performance-based, but Tua would still start.

I will stress that Tua is not a cash game play with one cheaper than his $5,900 BUT he could be an elite pivot in GPP. This is the Jets defense that is atrocious at every level. They are dead last in DVOA against the pass, third-worst in yards per game and have surrendered 19 touchdown passes. If Tua can’t get it done here, we should be worried about his fantasy production for the rest of the way. He’s only at a 0.41 pDB so there is a floor to be had. It’s just hard not to bet against the Jets right now.

RB – This is a pretty cut and dry position for the Dolphins. I worried that the return of Matt Breida last week might muddy the waters. After all, Salvon Ahmed is an undrafted rookie the Dolphins picked up from the 49ers. Breida might get the benefit of the doubt. That didn’t happen at all, as Ahmed played over 65% of the snaps and racked up 17 touches. Breida had two for the game, so Ahmed is still very much a cash play here. The pricing hasn’t exactly got up to the workload yet. Having said that, the Jets actually rank ninth in DVOA against the run but they’ve given up non total scored and the second-most receptions in the league. Ahmed got involved in the passing game this past week with six targets. If that sticks around, he should be able to approach 3x at this salary.

*Update* Maybe this isn’t cut and dry. Ahmed has now missed practice both days this week. Myles Gaskin is working, but still in a non-contact jersey. Ahmed is now out, so this backfield could be down to Breida and Patrick Laird. Let’s just hope Gaskin is back for Sunday.

WR – Since Tua has been the starter, DeVante Parker leads the team in target share. It’s only 22.9% which is a little lower than I’m in love with but he’s also not over $6,000. With the Jets secondary that is just getting pummeled by any receiver imaginable, Parker is going to be difficult to turn away from. It appears that the chemistry could be growing a bit with seven, seven and nine targets in the last three games which brings him up to a 26.4% target share. The air yards are encouraging at 26.2% and he leads in RZ and EZ targets at five each. Blessuan Austin isn’t going to hamper Parker with his 12.4 YPR and 97.3 passer rating allowed. Parker may well wind up in the Core before it’s all said and done.

Knowing how bad the Jets are, Jakeem Grant is in the conversation again but it needs to be understood as to where the floor is. He’s gotten five, five and six targets the past three games but has only broken double-digits once because he scored. It’s a thin play that’s there solely because of matchup. Grant has at least seen five targets in three straight games and that’s about all that’s needed against the Jets.

TE – Mike Gesicki always seems just too expensive to really get excited about. The good news is he’s running routes on 85.6% of his snaps, but he’s also under 62% for his snaps rate not the season. Gesicki has been third in the pecking order with Tua under center but Parker has been hoarding the RZ and EZ work, leaving just one of each target for Gesicki. He’s always fine, but I can’t get excited past the matchup. New York has allowed seven scores to the position, so maybe in a GPP I’ll throw in Gesicki and hope he finds the paint. Really, who can’t against New York?

D/ST – I don’t always like to go after the most expensive option on the board but you can’t argue the flow chart of good defenses against the Jets. Miami has forced the third-most takeaways this year and matched it with 22 sacks. The Jets actually only have 11 giveaways but they are the lowest scoring offense in football by almost five full points. There’s nothing wrong with playing the Dolphins here.

Cash – Parker, TBD in the backfield

GPP – Grant, Tua, Gesicki, D/ST

Jets – Pace is 9th

QB – Sam Darnold looks like he’ll be back under center and this would be about the lowest I would consider going for quarterback. Even then, it’s particularly gross. No, I take it back. I can’t play Darnold. The Jets offense is singularly bad this season. The 0.30 pDB is 34th and honestly, I just can’t wait to see him on a new team this time in 2021. Miami is 11th in DVOA against the pass and has only allowed 13 touchdown passes all season.

RB – With the news that rookie La’Mical Perine having a high ankle sprain, someone might want to try and take me into Frank Gore ….and I guess I could listen. I don’t love this play and want to be crystal clear about that. I much prefer James White. It has to be pointed out that Miami is 29th in DVOA against the run, ranks 27th in rushing yards allowed per game and they’ve given up over 1,400 scrimmage yards with nine touchdowns. If this was any other back, we’d be interested at this price. We know FOR SURE that Adam Gase loves Gore and his 3 yards, cloud of dust skill set. The matchup is there and the workload is likely there as well, if the Jets can stay competitive. Don’t shoot the messenger here!

WR – Jamison Crowder has been a ghost since coming back from injury and I can’t help but wonder if that’s quarterback related. Flacco has been at the helm for both games and he’s focused on Breshad Perriman and Denzel Mims. Crowder has seen five targets while Mims has seen 16 and Perriman has seen 11. Perriman has scored three times in these two games but the Dolphins matchup is soft on the inside and difficult on the outside.

Byron Jones and Xavien Howard wait on the boundary while Nik Needham is in the slot. Crowder should have a field day there as Needham has allowed a 60% catch rate. Before the injury (with Darnold), Crowder had a 31.5% target share. I’d love for that to come back this week. I’m out on Mims and Perriman this week, as those corners are going to get the best of them for most of the game.

TE – I’m just pretending that Chris Herndon didn’t score last week. He’s been totally uninvolved all year and we don’t chase fluky touchdowns.

D/ST – Honestly, Tua hasn’t been so good that I couldn’t understand a punt of the Jets defense. They have negative points in their outcomes but they do have 11 turnovers forced. That’s about the best I can say for them because the unit is not talented.

Cash – Crowder

GPP – Gore, D/ST

Raiders at Falcons, O/U of 54 (Raiders -3)

Raiders – Pace is 29th

QB – I’ve made a couple references to the quarterback that I liked especially in cash so far it’s Derek Carr. He’s playing lights out right now and has been through most of the year. The completion rate is almost 70%, he’s 10th in completion rate under pressure and seventh with a clean pocket. There have been a few bumps in the road but he’s in full control of this offense and the Falcons are one of the biggest pass funnels in the league. They are 26th in DVOA against the pass and only the Seahawks give up more yards per game. Only the Cowboys have given up more touchdown passes and Atlanta sits at 22 for the season. Carr is seventh in RZ attempts and 11th in touchdowns despite being only 18th in attempts. He’s far too cheap for the upside and he’s almost surely my cash game option.

RB – This is not an exaggeration, I almost spit out my water when I clicked on Josh Jacobs. $7,200 is an eye-popping price for a back that has seven of 10 games fallen short of the 21 DK required for 3x. I’m…I’m honestly not sure how he’s this expensive. There’s certainly nothing inherently wrong with Jacobs. The Raiders are favorites, he’s third in carries in the NFL and he’s involved in the passing game with a 10.3% target share. However, Atlanta is good against the run. They’re only ninth in rush yards allowed per game and they have allowed the third-fewest rushing yards to just running backs. Where they can be had is in the passing game, but that’s not the calling card for Jacobs. He could have 100 yards and score and still fall short of 3x. Too many things have to go right for Jacobs and I’m more fading the salary than the player.

WR – Nelson Agholor is very likely to gain a lot of traction in this spot and he could be the “Jakobi Meyers” of last week. I mean that he could be very popular in cash game settings since he’s under $5,000 and coming off a big game against the Chiefs. The target rate isn’t crazy high at 15.1% but he does lead in air yards at 26.7% and is tied with Darren Waller in EZ targets. The 14.5 aDOT can lead to some volatility but this is a good spot to trust him as much as you can. The salary is too low and rookie corner A.J. Terrell has allowed a 75.5% catch rate and a 2.30 pPT on 53 targets.

One of the biggest failures of the Raiders offense so far has been not having any real role for Henry Ruggs. He’s barely over an 11% target share and has been far more bust than boom so far this season. Right now, he’s just a player that can run fast. It only takes one play but his floor is zero. He’s only in consideration with 20 or more lineups. The emergence of Agholor has seemingly helped cap Ruggs and Hunter Renfrow, especially with Waller as the alpha.

TE – I’m not sure if I’ll have the luxury to spend on him yet, but Waller would be my preferred tight end in cash to go with Carr. Part of the Falcons being a pass funnel is they are the worst team to tight ends. They’re tied for the most touchdowns allowed, second-most yards and the third-most receptions. It legitimately could not line up better for Waller. Setting aside Travis Kelce who is the TE1+++, Waller is the only other tight end with at least 60 receptions, at least 500 yards and he owns a 27.7% target share. Play Waller in any format you like and he will undoubtedly be a piece of a Raiders stack for me this week.

D/ST – Vegas only has 11 sacks on the season, a 21.4% pressure rate and 11 turnovers. The Falcons got rocked by the Saints defense this past week but the talent level is quite different between these two. I’m not particularly interested here.

Cash – Carr, Waller, Agholor

GPP – Jacobs, Ruggs

Falcons – Pace is 8th

QB – For as much as I like Carr, I’m going to be tempted to go right back to Matt Ryan. There’s no denying he was terrible on Sunday and he’s showing signs of not being what he used to be. However, Ryan is 21st in completion rate under pressure at 39.7%. When he’s kept clean, that goes up to 77.5% and Vegas is not getting home to the quarterback. Ryan’s 0.42 pDB is a concern as is his 15.3 points per game. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t have ceiling games in him with a 23, 27, 28 and 32 DK point efforts this year. The Raiders are 18th in DVOA and 28th in passing yards allowed per game. One of the only things somewhat saving them at this point is the 16:8 TD:INT ratio allowed. This game could turn into a track meet the attention is likely to be on Carr and his passing game. That and the combo of a bad taste in folks mouth from last week could turn Ryan into a gem this week with not many on him.

RB – We’ve had to be pretty picky with the spots to use Todd Gurley but this one does check most of the boxes. For starters, the Raiders have a tough time defending the run. They are 32nd in DVOA against the run and have given up 12 rushing touchdowns. The yardage given up to backs looks strong at just 906 through 10 games, but they’ve also faced the seventh-fewest attempts in the league. If teams stick with it, they’ve not shown a ton of resistance. I do wish Gurley had more of a passing floor since Vegas is bottom 10 in receptions and receiving yards to backs, but there’s reasons that Gurley is so cheap. You’re not playing him for his 6.4% target share, you’re after his 42 RZ attempts which is second in the league behind Derrick Henry. I can’t quite get there in cash but Gurley checks in as a GPP option.

*Update* Gurley is a bit of a surprise inactive and enter Brian Hill? He has two games with 10 or more touches this season. One has turned into 15 DK and one has turned into 8.4. With him being minimum for the position and in a shootout-style game, it’s hard to not plug him in and go. He actually has 20 targets on the season, four fewer than Gurley. With a bit of passing game chops to go with his resume this year, I’m in.

WR – The situation here is a little hard to read. Julio Jones injured his hamstring again last week and only played 35% of the snaps. He didn’t look like a player that would suit up this week. He’s being called limited in practice, as is Calvin Ridley. Right now, I’d guess Julio is out but Ridley is in and Ridley becomes fascinating. He gets Trayvon Mullen who has given up three touchdowns, a 100.3 passer rating and a 63% catch rate. Ridley also has 37.2% of the air yards share and a 31.6% red zone share even with Julio. That rises without him.

Russell Gage has to enter into the conversation here as well. He jumped to about 80% of the snaps last week after weeks of being around 55%. Ryan also fed him 12 targets and at $4,800 he could be a staple of cash lineups. Raiders corner Nevin Lawson isn’t anything to worry about either with a 106.3 passer rating allowed. Really, if Julio is out it seems far-fetched that Gage wouldn’t see at least 5-6 targets. He’s at a healthy 16.7% target share as it is.

TE – You would have thought that Julio being in and out on Sunday would have led to a Hayden Hurst game, but you’d be wrong. He went for the goose on Sunday on just two targets. Hurst is only fourth in targets on the team and fourth in RZ looks, which is an issue. Outside of Travis Kelce, the Raiders have been good to tight ends. This is a crazy stat – Vegas has given up 47 receptions, 523 yards and four touchdowns. Kelce in two games has 22/235/2. He’s responsible for borderline half the eight end scoring against Vegas! That doesn’t leave me too excited for Hurst, Julio or not.

D/ST – The Raiders only have 10 giveaways and Carr has only been sacked 14 times. Vegas and their O-Line have only given up a 16.4% pressure rate, seventh-best in football. There’s not a lot to hang on to here since the Falcons only have 17 sacks themselves. They can’t really generate a pass rush and are likely to get carved up.

Cash – Ridley, Gage if Julio is out

GPP – Ryan, Gurley, Hurst

Giants at Bengals, O/U of 44 (Giants -6)

Giants – Pace is 18th

QB – Through this season, Daniel Jones has been a pretty easy pass for me. He’s played all 10 games and six of them he’s failed to reach 15 DK points. Two of those games he’s not even hit 10, which is beyond crippling from a quarterback. Danny Dimes sits 30th in pDB at 0.35, 26th in points per game, 27th in touchdown passes, 21st in yards and this is all despite being third in RZ attempts. Yikes. The matchup is phenomenal with the Bengals ranking 28th in DVOA against the pass and 23rd in yards allowed per contest. This team had their hearts ripped out last week too with the loss of Joe Burrow. Maybe you can construct a narrative that makes you want to play Danny Dimes, but there’s enough options under $6,000 that he won’t be in play for me.

RB – We mentioned Salvon Ahmed as a nice cash option and I think Wayne Gallman falls into that same exact category. Since Devonta Freeman was hurt in Week 7, Gallman has been the man in this backfield. He’s handled 54 attempts and been targeted 10 times with eight receptions. I do kind of wish the target share was bigger than the 7.7% he’s sporting, but he is so cheap for what’s likely to be 15 touches or more. Both of these teams are not good, so I’d be surprised if it’s not competitive.

Of the 12 RZ attempts since Week 7, Gallman has nine of them and he’s scored in every game. Cincy is 23rd in DVOA against the run but they’ve given up the fourth-most rushing yards to backs. They’ve been lucky to only allow six rushing scores so far and Gallman need only a score, 60 rushing yards and a couple receptions to hit 3x. His low-water mark was 13.2 DK against the Bucs, one of the better run defenses in football.

WR – Sterling Shepard came back to the lineup in Week 7 as well and since that point, he and Evan Engram are identical with 32 targets and 208 air yards each to lead the team. Shepard leads in receptions and yards, all while playing only 31.4% of his snaps in the slot. Shepard will Riley line up against LeShaun Sims who has gotten smacked for a 2.30 pPT on 46 targets. He’s also allowed four touchdowns and Shepard’s price is attractive. Since retuning, he’s hit at least 10.7 DK in all four games and has had some tougher matchups in there against Tampa and Washington.

Darius Slayton is still the wild card in this offense. Since Shepard returned, he’s had three, nine, one and seven targets in those four games. When he’s gotten targeted, he’s broken 10 DK points. When he hasn’t…well, that speaks for itself. Slayton should snag the tougher matchup against William Jackson but this isn’t a shutdown corner either. Jackson has still allowed a 14.8 YPR and a 92.1 passer rating on 55 targets. Golden Tate is still an avoid for me as the fourth option in a flawed passing game.

TE – The price and matchup seem attractive for Engram, not to mention the metrics we talked about. He just can’t seem to put it together though with another dud the last time we saw him. Engram is not even a top 15 option at the position on the year but is priced as the TE4 on the slate. Figure that one out. The Bengals is a good spot for Engram as they’ve given up the fourth-most DK per game, six scores and almost 600 yards. There’s just little reason to have faith in Engram and he’s not a cash play.

D/ST – I was hoping they would be a bit lower-priced, but DK did a nice job here. With the loss of Burrow, the Bengals offense becomes a prime target every week. They’ve allowed the third-most sacks and their quarterback play just fell off a cliff. On the year, New York has generated 25 sacks and 15 turnovers. The DVOA doesn’t look strong at 28, but they can make splash plays, have a backup caliber quarterback on the other side and can be afforded in just about any build.

Cash – Gallman, Shepard, D/ST

GPP – Slayton, Engram

Bengals – Pace is 13th

QB – We saw three games from Ryan Finley last season and what we got was not pretty at all. His completion rate was 47.1%, he didn’t pass for 475 yards total and he had a 2:2 TD:INT ratio. I wouldn’t get too fooled by his lone rush attempt on Sunday because he had four last season. The Giants have only given up 15 touchdown passes and even with some better weapons this year (namely Tee Higgins), this is just a super easy pass for me. There’s not any need to get cute to this extent.

The Bengals announced that Brandon Allen will be starting this week, elevated off the practice squad. Just like Finley, he’s a quick pass. His NFL sample size is only three games as well, but he has a completion rate under 48%, a 3:2 TD:INT ratio and averaged under 175 yards per contest. The Giants aren’t the worst defense and we can just play Carr or Tua in amazing spots.

RB – When you have a potential non-functioning quarterback, the running backs could suffer. That’s the case for Gio Bernard even though Joe Mixon is now on the IR. It’s a really solid matchup since New York has given up almost 1,400 scrimmage yards, 10 touchdowns and are tied for the fifth-most receptions. You just can’t help but worry Bernard faces the teeth of this defense the entire day. Seeing as how he’s almost $6,000, this is another player I’m just not really looking at. It could be a long day for the Bengals.

WR – DK is trying to tempt me with Higgins and Tyler Boyd. The former went dropped $800 in salary and while the results were tough last week, he still saw 10 targets. Boyd saw 11 and is very likely to be the safety blanket for Allen. It’s debatable if that matters but Boyd runs in the slot just under 77% of the time. That leaves him on Darnay Holmes who has gotten smacked in limited action. His snap rate is under 50% but if he’s called upon to face Boyd he’s allowing a 73.7% catch rate. Boyd has an aDOT of 8.3 so Finley could hone in on him pretty easily.

Higgins is just six targets behind A.J. Green from taking over second on the team and has more RZ targets. Higgins also draws James Bradberry which is a big issue here. The Giants corner has only allowed a 77.5 passer rating on 69 targets this season. Both receivers are both risky with super low floors with Allen under center but I do prefer Boyd at the salaries.

TE – With the Bengals offensive line issues, Drew Sample has fallen down to running a route on just 68% of the snaps. That’s down to 20th in the NFL and unless something changes with Finely, he hasn’t been involved at all. I tend to doubt he’s suddenly a big part of the plan for the Bengals.

D/ST – You can play the “Daniel Jones turns it over” card because he has 13 in 10 games. The Bengals only have 10 takeaways on the season and 13 sacks, in part because they dealt Carlos Dunlap to Seattle. I don’t want to play a defense that doesn’t have splash play ability.

Cash – None

GPP – Boyd, Bernard, Higgins

Chargers at Bills, O/U of 53 (Bills -5)

Chargers – Pace is 11th

QB – This game should be one of the better ones on the entire slate and I’m looking forward to it. Justin Herbert got over his stumble against the Dolphins pretty fast, going for 30 DK this past week. Herbert has thrown 22 touchdowns already and that’s sixth in the league. The scary part is he’s played in one fewer game than anyone else above him. In his first two starts, Herbert only threw two combined touchdowns. Since then, he’s thrown for at least two every time out and is averaging right at 300 yards per contest. Only Patrick Mahomes is higher by about five yards. He’s at a season-high salary but he absolutely should be. Buffalo is not nearly the defense they were last year, ranked 14th in DVOA against the pass and 17th in yards allowed per game. Herbert really hasn’t let you down yet.

RB – If Austin Ekeler is back this week with no restrictions, it’s all systems go. Buffalo is 26ht in DVOA against the run and they’ve given up over 1,400 scrimmage yards to the backs. A dude like Kalen Ballage has seen 18 targets in three games with the Chargers. Ekeler is vastly underpriced for the game environment if he’s healthy and there’s not much else to say about this one. He’s part of an excellent offense that loves to target the backs with inferior options. We just have to make sure we know what we’re looking at.

WR – It’s about time Keenan Allen got priced up. He’s been a terror with Herbert under center and these two have been unstoppable for the most part. He’s had a 30.1% target share and that’s behind only Davante Adams in the league. Allen is in the slot still a little under half the time and that leaves him on Taron Johnson a good bit. Johnson has allowed a 101.3 passer rating and a 1.70 pPT so far this year on 60 targets. He’s still the primary stacking option with Herbert and there’s little reason to think Buffalo stops him in this contest.

Mike Williams will see the majority of Tre White and that would have sent me running the other way in 2019. Now White is a shadow of himself and not the good kind of corner shadow. He’s been targeted 40 times and is allowing a 72.5% catch rate, 131.6 passer rating and a 2.70 pPT. Those are sky high numbers and Williams has a good four inches and 20 pounds on White. I will not argue in the least if you double up Herbert with Allen and Williams in this spot.

TE – Even with all of Herbert’s success, Hunter Henry hasn’t exactly come along for the ride. As Herbert has gotten comfortable, Henry has mostly turned into a touchdown or bust option. The first two games Henry had at least five receptions. After that points, he’s not been over four and the 48 yards from this past week was the highest yardage since Week 3. Herbert has broken the mold as far as rookie quarterbacks and the only time Henry has scored more than 10 DK points has been when he scored. However, Buffalo is one of the better matchups on the board. They’ve allowed the most yards, most receptions and six scores on the year. If stacking Herbert, I’d rotate Williams and Henry as the second option after Allen.

D/ST – The Chargers defense has been rougher this year with over 27 points allowed, just nine turnovers and only 17 sacks. With a game that is projected to be very high-scoring, I’m not sure they have the ability to cash in on the added opportunities these games can give out.

Cash – Herbert, Allen

GPP – Williams, Henry

Bills – Pace is 22nd

QB – The Chargers are mid-pack in DVOA against the pass and that doesn’t make me worry about Josh Allen here. He finished strong right before the bye week with 39 and 29 DK point games, combining for six touchdowns. Allen is sixth in pDB at 0.55 and fantasy points per game, seventh in yards, fourth in air yards and eighth in passing touchdowns. Allen has been given the keys to the offense as well, sitting eighth in attempts on the season. LA is fourth in touchdowns allowed and Allen leads in rushing attempts inside the red zone and rushing touchdowns. He’s another player that can be used in any format. I tend to lean Herbert and save $400 but this is a very tough call.

RB – Zack Moss has surpassed Devin Singletary in salary and workload the last two games. Moss has 16 rushing attempts and three receptions to just six attempts and four receptions for Singletary. There’s not a ton of touchdown upside with Allen ready to poach any work near the paint. Moss has the lead there as well at a whopping 2-1 ratio. The Chargers are 27th in DVOA against the run and have given up over 1,300 scrimmage yards with 10 touchdowns. Even though the prices are bargains, I can’t bring myself to like either player. If you go this route, it almost has to be Moss.

WR – This matchup is set to be a blast since Stefon Diggs should face a good bit of Casey Hayward. The Chargers corner is typically an avoid for me, but Diggs is a different type of player. Hayward has been targeted 66 times but has allowed a league-best 45.5% catch rate. Now, he has also allowed a 1.80 pPT and a massive 18.6 YPR. Diggs has a 28.6% target share and a huge 36.1% of the air yards share. Allen will have no fear about Hayward and neither do I in this spot.

The decision between Cole Beasley and John Brown might be out of our hands. Brown didn’t practice once again on Thursday, casting serious doubt about playing on Sunday. If that’s the case, Beasley and his 18.8% target share look pretty appealing in a stack. Tevaughn Campbell guards the slot for the Chargers now and in only 18 targets, he’s allowed a 66.7% catch rate. Beasley as the clear-cut number two is at a solid price for his potential upside here.

*Update* Hayward is out for the Chargers and Brown is out for the Bills. To steal a Stix phrase, this is a wheels up scenario for Diggs and Beasley is a great value in my eyes. You could take a GPP shot at Gabriel Davis as well. In Week 5, Davis saw nine targets and Week 7 he saw three. It’s a wild card play but if he gets more than five, he could turn into an incredible value.

TE – There’s not a tight end that is worth considering on this team. Nobody is over a 6.2% target share and the top two options have a combined eight RZ targets.

D/ST – The Bills sort of fit the prototype of a defense in a shootout that could get a couple turnovers and sacks, but it’s not the route I’m looking at. They’re only 17th in overall DVOA and Herbert has only thrown six picks through nine games.

Cash – Allen, Diggs, possibly Beasley

GPP – Moss

Panthers at Vikings, O/U of 51.5 (Vikings -3.5)

Panthers – Pace is 31st

QB – The fact that Teddy Bridgewater was close enough to almost be the emergency option last week leaves me feeling good about his chances of playing this week. That’s awesome because this is a great spot. Even Any Dalton put up 22 DK on this Vikings defense and Teddy could do the same. Teddy B is 17th in attempts even missing a game and 14th in yards. Nothing exactly pops out with the 0.47 pDB and 13 touchdowns, but the Vikings erase a lot of issues. I will say I wish Bridgewater was cheaper, needing about 20 DK to hit 3x. Minnesota might be 12th in DVOA against the pass but the 22 touchdowns allowed erases any good facets. Teddy Two Gloves has talent around him and this is the type of spot we should be targeting him.

RB – Only 10 teams have given up over 1,000 rushing yards to running backs and Minnesota is one of them. Christian McCaffrey is already doubtful for the week which means it’s the Mike Davis show again. He put up just under 16 DK last week with only two receptions. That is kind of a concern as he’s not had more than five receptions since Week 5. His price is a bit high and I don’t believe I would go there in cash. Week 5 was also the last time Davis has hit 3x at this current price. The ceiling has gotten sketchy so even in a good spot, Davis has a wide range of outcomes.

*Update* CMC is questionable but not expected to play

WR – One of the reasons the receptions have dried up for Davis is the 22% target share for Curtis Samuel compared to 12.4% for Davis. Samuel is still priced as the WR3 in Carolina but since Week 7, Samuel has 74.2 PPR points compared to 56.2 for Robby Anderson and 75.9 for D.J. Moore. The latter two are close in price but Samuel really stands out as a value. Aside from a dud against Tampa (excusable against a good defense) Samuel has scored at least 17 DK points in every game.

He’s run 53% of his routes from the slot and Jeff Gladney has been awful. He’s allowed a 108.5 passer rating and a 14.5 YPR. Anderson should get Kris Boyd and he’s allowed a 1.80 pPT while Moore should square up with Cameron Dantzler who returned Sunday. Dantzler has been the worst of the bunch with a 138.4 passer rating and a 73.8% catch rate this year. Samuel is the best value of the pass catchers and Moore should be worth the extra money from Anderson, especially if the field hasn’t caught up with the changes in the passing game.

TE – The Panthers do not utilize the tight end at all since Ian Thomas is under a 5% target share.

D/ST – I did seriously underestimate this unit against a short-handed Lions offense last week, but I’m filing that under fluky results. They won’t shut anyone out again and five of their total 16 sacks came last week. Again, fluky.

Cash – Samuel, Moore, Bridgewater

GPP – Davis, Anderson

Vikings – Pace is 25th

QB – Kirk Cousins isn’t playing bad lately, considering he only has two turnovers in the last four games. In two of those games, he’s been over 20 DK points but he’s needed to throw there touchdowns to do so. Cousins sits fifth in pDB at 0.55 which still makes me double-take every single week. Being 23rd in attempts really hurts he predictability of his production. If you catch him on a game where he throws around 35 times, you’re likely to be happy. If he’s in that 20-25 attempt range, you have issues. This week he could be down Adam Thielen so I’m likely to avoid Cousins if that’s the case. I’d bet the Vikings try to run the ball down the throats of Carolina and get out of dodge. The Panthers are 21st in DVOA but have only allowed 16 touchdowns so far. The range of outcomes is wide but he makes some sense in GPP.

RB – The only question with Dalvin Cook is if I can afford him. Cook is only off the rushing title by 10 yards and he’s one game behind Derrick Henry. The Panthers have allowed the fifth-most rushing yards and are 22nd in DVOA aghast the run. They are also tied for fourth in rushing touchdowns allowed so this is beyond a smash spot for Cook. There is some cache that he won’t hit 3x at this price. Last year, we paid $10,000 for CMC often but he had a massive receiving floor. Cook has a 13.3% target share and might even get more looks without Thielen. Just remember, he needs to hit about 30 DK for 3x. The floor is immense but the ceiling is not a sure thing at this price.

WR – If Thielen is out, attention is going to shift heavily onto rookie Justin Jefferson. He’s already been wildly productive but it’s a question how he’ll react if he’s the true one. Jefferson likely squares off against Rasul Douglas in this scenario. Douglas has allowed just a 1.50 pPT and a 10.4 YPR. Even in not the best matchup, it would be hard to turn away from Jefferson in cash formats I believe. Thielen has accounted for a 29.1% target share, 41.4% air yards share and has a 51.9% RZ share. That’s an immense amount of the passing game and Jefferson has to get some of that. Thielen may have had just a false positive test, so let’s not get attached to Jefferson yet.

*Update* Thielen is likely out, and Smith is as well most likely. If he Vikings passing game is down both targets, Rudolph and Jefferson should see around 50% of the targets if not more. I wouldn’t be too heavy on Olabisi Johnson with the other value receivers we have in front of us.

TE – Neither Kyle Rudolph or Irv Smith have more than a 10.3% target share so they’re not on the radar much unless Thielen is out. If he is, both players would have higher touchdown equity as they should help fill the RZ void left by Thielen.

D/ST – This unit has been besieged all season and are under 20 sacks on the season and have 12 turnovers. If Bridgewater is starting on the other side, I won’t have any interest. If it would be P.J. Walker….maybe I could get there but even then it’s not the best play.

Cash – Dalvin if we can afford him, Jefferson

GPP – Rudolph

Saints at Broncos, O/U of 43.5 (Saints -6)

Saints – Pace is 27th

QB – I’m ecstatic that DK bumped Taysom Hill’s salary all the way up to $6,200 so he’s not the chalk agains this week. We only have one full game to go by, but Hill played about as well as he could have. He ran 10 times for 50 yards and two scores while completing 18 of his 23 attempts. He had a long touchdown passing nullified and if he keeps running like this, he’s going to still be in play. This is a tougher matchup on the road and against the eighth ranked DVOA against the pass. Hill will need to continue to play well to live up to the price unless he rushes for two scores again. I don’t believe he’s really needed at this salary this week because I’m not convinced he can carry the production as teams get film.

RB – So….that was a terrifying sample for Alvin Kamara. The Saints kept his attempts down like always with just 13. He’s only had one game with more than 14 rushing attempts all year. What makes Kamara the weapon that he is was literally non-existent on Sunday. For the first time in his career, Kamara did not record a reception. He was only targeted one time. He’s tied for 12th in targets across the league, not even just wide receivers and tight ends. Hill not using Kamara in the passing game turns Kamara into just another running back. For one of the first times in memory, Kamara is not a cash play in my eyes and a back with just 12-16 rush attempts would have issues at $5,000. It does need pointed out that Kamara was nursing a toe injury last week but I’m not sure that’s an excuse here. Even Latavius Murray got targeted twice along with his 12 rushing attempts. Let’s hope this was a blip on the radar and leave Kamara for deeper GPP.

WR – One player that didn’t suffer with Hill under center was Michael Thomas, who was targeted 12 times. It was just like the good old days and we haven’t seen a game like this since last season. MT scored more Sunday than his other three games combined. He’s also back to a 27.8% target share and would be incredibly cheap if this can keep up. Thomas has mostly been outside with just a 15.4% slot rate and that means likely a good bit of A.J. Bouye for Denver. He’s not been targeted a ton and has missed some time but the 74.1% catch rate plays right into what Thomas does best. He’s the one Saints player that I’m still pretty happy to play in this game.

The game for Emmanuel Sanders would be looking a lot different if he got to keep the long touchdown but 10.6 DK wasn’t the worst outcome. Six targets isn’t exactly great but Sanders is under $5,000 and does have a tough matchup on paper. Bryce Callahan has a 1.10 pPT which is the second-best among corners. I’m most likely to stick with just Thomas here as we continue to learn how Hill reacts as the starter.

TE – I’m struggling to find much of a reason to go after Jared Cook since he’s under 12% for his target share and now he has to worry about Hill in the red zone. Cook does have a 17.3% share in that area of the field but I think that’s going to drop with Hill. Denver has only allowed two touchdowns on the season so I really feel there’s better options.

D/ST – They are expensive after the past three weeks, where they have scored at least 14 DK in all three. I would normally not chase the production, as they’ve racked up 13 sacks and nine turnovers. On the season, they only have 15 turnovers and 32 sacks so a large percentage has come lately. The catch is the Denver offense has turned the ball over the most in football at 23 times. They’ve matched that with 23 sacks so there’s a lot of opportunity for the Saints here.

Cash – Thomas

GPP – Hill, D/ST, Kamara, Sanders

Broncos – Pace is 3rd

QB – I’m not sure where we are on the “Is Drew Lock any good?” question but I’m not looking to find out this week. I believe we’ve played him once so far this year and were rewarded with a 30 DK point effort. However, the matchup is different and the recent play of the Saints have shot them up to fifth in DVOA against the pass. Lock has had injury issues with himself and has been missing his number one receiver for basically the entire year but he’s sitting at a 0.35 pDB, 30th in the league. Lock hasn’t hit double-digit touchdowns yet despite finishing seven games. Other than a two game spurt against the Chargers and Falcons, Lock has scored under 15 DK in his other five contests. This just doesn’t seem like a wise play, even if they chase points.

RB – I wish I had been a bit more bullish on Melvin Gordon last week. We talked about the matchup being perfect for him but I ended up passing on him for other options. I won’t be able to rectify that play this week because I’ll pass against the Saints. They are second in DVOA against the run and have allowed the second-fewest rushing yards to backs. Additionally, they’ve only given up five total touchdowns and under 1,000 scrimmage yards. Gordon is sort of like Todd Gurley where you have to catch him in the right spot. This is decidedly not it in my eyes. The same pretty much goes for Phillip Lindsay. These two split carries evenly last week at 15 for Gordon and 16 for Lindsay, but neither were targeted in the passing game. The floor is quite low for both of them.

WR – I don’t think there’s much of an argument over Jerry Jeudy not being more talented than Tim Patrick, but Jeudy is nursing a foot injury. Patrick continued his streak of productivity this past week with a 19.9 DK showing. He’s right next to Noah Fant for the second-most targets on the team and they’re tied for second in RZ targets. He’s playing almost exclusively on the outside with just 73 snaps in the slot and that puts him mostly on Janoris Jenkins. Statistically, he’s actually been better than Marshon Lattimore. Jenkins is at a 1.60 pPT and a 78.0 passer rating compared to Lattimore’s 2.30 pPT and 125.0 passer rating. The targets have been almost equal as well. If I knew Jeudy was 100%, I’d love to roll him out there. I do prefer Patrick and if you play 20 or more lineups, maybe have a share of Jeudy.

TE – Fant himself continues to tempt me at the price. His production has been very average but there’s been points where the Saints have struggled against the tight end. They’ve given up six scores on the year and Fant has showed upside when healthy. His first two games were fantastic and it seems like ever since then he’s been banged up to some degree. The health of Jeudy seems to be a huge piece of this puzzle. Fant just seems far too cheap right now to not have some exposure in this game where the run game for Denver is not likely to be the answer.

D/ST – I honestly don’t mind the Denver defense as a punt. Sure, the Saints offense is talented but Hill is making his second career start. The Broncos have 28 sacks and are up to the third-highest pressure rate in football. The turnovers aren’t anything major with just 10 but we could see a much different New Orleans offense in this one. At $2,200 they fit into any build you want.

Cash – Patrick

GPP – Fant, Jeudy, D/ST

49ers at Rams, O/U of 45 (Rams -6.5)

49ers – Pace is 26th

QB – I’ll have exactly zero Nick Mullens on this slate. The Rams are seventh in DVOA against the pass and are second in yards allowed per game. While I think Coach Kyle Shanahan is a top-five offensive coach in the league, there’s only so much he can do with this group of players. Mullens is a backup for a reason with a 0.37 pDB and only 11.6 fantasy points per game. Additionally, the Rams sit at an 11:10 TD:INT ratio. This is just too poor of a matchup when a player like Carr is only $500 more.

RB – We’ll need to see what this running back room looks like closer to lock. Raheem Mostert seems to have a shot to come back from his injury as he’s being labeled “day-to-day”. The Rams are tough agains the run as well, sitting 12th in DVOA. They’ve also only given up six total scores but they are over 1,100 scrimmage yards. Mostert has he speed to take any touch to the house and he’s fairly inexpensive as a GPP option.

If he remains out, I’m pretty scared to touch Jerick McKinnon unless he’s the last man standing. Shanahan has been evil with running back rotations this season. Jamycal Hasty is on IR, but it’s possible Jeff Wilson is back as well. If McKinnon, Coleman and Wilson are all active this is not even in consideration for me. We’ll double back here later in the week.

*Update* Coleman is out for Sunday but Mostert will be active and Wilson is likely to be active for the game. With three potential options, we need to tread extremely light here. Mostert is my favorite, but you’re not getting some massive discount on him coming off an injury.

WR – Another position that looks muddy right now, the receivers from the 49ers are up in the air. Brandon Aiyuk is on the Covid list but we’re unsure why. He could just be a close contact and have a good chance to play. Deebo Samuel is fighting back from another leg injury. You’d have to think he needs to be 100% before the 49ers let him back on the field. Jalen Ramsey would likely see most of Aiyuk and that’s not really the best spot for the rookie. Ramsey hasn’t been perfect, but he does have a 1.30 pPT and can kick into the slot. He’s gone there about 19% of the time this year. Kendrick Bourne might be a nice salary saver as he should get more of Troy Hill. Bourne has a target share right under 15% and 20% of the air yards share, while Hill is at a 1.50 pPT. None of these options are anything more than GPP since the Rams defense should be able to control them a good bit.

*Update* Deebo will actually be active, but it looks less likely for Aiyuk. That means Samuel should see mostly Ramsey. I can’t find much of a reason to challenge that scenario with Mullens slinging the ball.

TE – Provided the missed practice on Thursday for Jordan Reed turns out to be nothing, he might be my favorite 49er. He’s the cheapest at a tough to fill position and he bumped up his snaps last game to about 44%. He’s garnered a 14.4% target share in limited playing time and actually has the third-most EZ targets. When we last saw him, Reed got six targets and that could be in the realm here again. If the receivers are struggling, Reed could see something like eight targets in this game. He’s too cheap if he’s healthy for his role.

D/ST – They are really a middling option here. It shouldn’t be a surprise with the injuries but they’ve only generated 18 sacks on the season. The Rams do have 15 turnovers but they’re also much healthier. I’m likely to pass here.

Cash – Reed (if he’s cleared from a non-Covid illness)

GPP – Bourne, Deebo, Mostert

Rams – Pace is 17th

QB – I did not see Jared Goff going bonkers Monday night. He threw the ball 51 times which is an immense amount. It would be foolish to project that again since he’s only gone over 40 attempts twice. The San Francisco defense might be a little better than perception. They’re 17th in DVOA against the pass but have only given up 17 touchdowns. In addition, the 49ers are in the top 10 in yardage allowed so it’s tough to pinpoint where the spot is for Goff to hit them. He’s been fairly average this season at 0.43 pDB which is 19th. He chews up yards with the eighth-most but he’s only 15th in touchdowns and 16th in RZ attempts. The price is nothing horrible but it doesn’t move the needle a ton for me either.

RB – Cam Akers might have scored on Monday but he didn’t do much else. The Rams are still sporting a frustrating three man RBBC. Darrell Henderson had the most snaps and touches on Monday but maxed out at 46% and 10 touches. The 49ers have been excellent against the run, ranking inside the top 10 in yards allowed and DVOA. Once you throw in touches for Malcolm Brown, this backfield is a pain to predict and not really worth the headache. Henderson would take the lead here simply because he has 30 RZ attempts to 15 for Brown and seven for Akers. That’s about the only facet to hold on to.

WR – I’ll admit I totally missed on Cooper Kupp for showdown Monday. His snap rate from the previous week really concerned me at barely 50%. Kupp answered with nearly 80% this past week and is my favorite Rams receiver again. He spends the majority of his time in the slot which should leave him on Jamar Taylor in that formation. Taylor has been pressed into duty and has allowed a 2.70 pPT on 15 targets so far. Kupp leads the team in targets, is second in air yards share and has the most RZ targets as well.

Robert Woods draws the tougher assignment on paper, going against Jason Verrett. The veteran is surging this season with just a 87.5 passer rating allowed and a 1.60 pPT. He’s not lock-down but there’s little doubt Kupp has the easier path. Woods trails in targets by 17 but he does have 19 rush attempts on the year, a nice little bonus. Josh Reynolds has the lead in EZ targets and maybe he’ll get a few looks this week. Kupp and Woods hugged just about everything Monday night. Kupp had a miserable game the first time these two teams met. I hope folks don’t realize that he was a few inches away from having a huge game and had a couple poor drops. I don’t expect that to repeat.

TE – I’ll be honest, I barely even glance at Tyler Higbee anymore. He’s playing 78% of the snaps which is fine but he runs a route on 51.3% of them. That’s 30th among tight ends and he has a just a 10.7% target share. On top of everything else, he has three RZ targets and one EZ target on the season. A player like Reed is cheaper and a player like Hooper is only $100 more.

D/ST – They’re expensive but that’s perfectly fine. They should be as they have 32 sacks on the season which was tied for third-most before Thanksgiving. San Francisco is tied for the fourth-most turnovers on the season so there’s plenty of chances for the Rams to make a difference.

Cash – Kupp, Woods

GPP – Goff, D/ST

Chiefs at Buccaneers, O/U of 56

Chiefs – Pace is 14th (and they have been playing super fast lately)

QB – It’s kind of crazy how a player like Patrick Mahomes can have just an average fantasy game for a while and then bang, he ends with 348 yards and two touchdowns. That red number in the matchup looks daunting, but A. it’s Mahomes and B. Tampa has started to show cracks lately. Over the past three games they have allowed an average of 260 passing yards per game. That number would be 26th on the season. They’re only four touchdowns away from the league lead in that category as well. With a stout run defense, Mahomes can really put it to them through the air. He’s up to third in pDB, fourth in points per game and third in touchdowns. Oh, he leads the league in passing yards as well. He’s a great option in any format and if he comes in under 10% in GPP….well to quote The Fiend, “Yowie wowie!”

RB – This backfield might be a touch messier than it looks. Clyde Edwards-Helaire was barely over 50% of the snaps and since Week 7, CEH has 33 attempts to 23 for Le’Veon Bell. The rookie does have a 14-5 target lead and that’s where the Tampa defense has struggled. They’ve given up the most receptions at 70 for 442 yards. Otherwise, they are the top ranked DVOA and yards per game rushing defense. I’m not really interested in Bell with only about 25% of the snaps and feel CEH might be a bit too pricey for just receiving work.

WR – Since Bell has entered the fray, Tyreek Hill has owned the targets on this team with a 30.2% target share and 42.2% of the air yards. Now, Bell doesn’t have a real effect on Hill but it’s just an easy point to pull from. Even over the course of the season, Hill is right around a 37% air yards share and trails Travis Kelce by four total targets and one RZ target. Here’s the really exciting part. Hill plays almost 40% of his routes from the slot. That gets him to Sean Murphy-Bunting in coverage and this man just got pantsed on Monday night. He’s allowing a 2.40 pPT, 137.1 passer rating and a 13.3 YPR. If you think Andy Reid doesn’t know that, think again.

Sammy Watkins could be on the comeback trail here. He practiced Wednesday, but did suffer a setback last week. His availability dictates how viable Demarcus Robinson is as a punt. We need to check back towards the weekend. Mecole Hardman got lapped in snaps las week by Byron Pringle last week so I don’t believe we can go to Hardman. Pringle himself is on IR but if Watkins is back, Hardman is buried on the depth chart.

*Update* Not that it mattered, but Bucs corner Jamel Dean is out this week. That lessens the chances even more that Hill will be held in check. Watkins is fully healthy and he could be a fantastic GPP option in a Chiefs stack. He still has a 23.1% share of the RZ targets and he’s under $5,000.

TE – I can’t ever tell you to not play Travis Kelce. I do prefer using Hill to stack with Mahomes and you can always pull the double stack if you’d like. That would get you another 24% of the target share, the most targets among tight ends, and the second-most RZ and EZ targets. Kelce is a nightmare to guard and matchup proof. Tampa has also allowed six touchdowns and over 500 yards, so they aren’t shutting down this position.

D/ST – I actually like the Chiefs defense here. The offense may force the Buccaneers to throw plenty and while KC only has 19 sacks, they get pressure at a top 10 rate. We’ve seen a bunch of times this season that Tom Brady does not handle pressure all that well. He’s 29th in completion rate under pressure at 31.2% and is capable of giving up the ball. Similar to what we tried to hit on for Thursday’s slate, more drop backs means more mistake chances. The Chiefs are capable of making those chances count with 15 turnovers forced.

Cash – Mahomes, Hill, Kelce (though none are necessities), D/ST

GPP – CEH, Watkins

Buccaneers – Pace is 10th

QB – Maybe this makes me look foolish, but I’m not excited to play Brady this week. I believe the Chiefs turn this into a shootout (I know, really sticking my neck out there). If that happens, the Chiefs are going to be able to pin their ears back and wreak havoc. KC is 10th in DVOA against the pass and have a 14:10 TD:INT ratio. The completion rate certainly gives me some pause here, not to mention the 15th ranked 0.48 pDB. Just watching the offense the past couple weeks, it seems like there’s maybe too many cooks in the kitchen. They beat up on Carolina but that’s not anything to write home about. The past two decent defenses they’ve faced have punched them square in the mouth. Brady has all the weapons he can ask for and is ninth in touchdowns, but I don’t love him this week all that much.

RB – If the Bucs can stay committed to the ground game, Ronald Jones should have a great week. Leonard Fournette has basically three fewer games but Jones has him in attempts to a 153-66 advantage. Fournette dropped roughly 3,867 passes Monday night (yes I’m still bitter) and Jones is just the superior back at this point. The Chiefs are 30th in DVOA against the run and 26th in rushing yards allowed per game. This is the weak spot in the armor but teams have to keep it close and have the mentality to be patient with it. My fear with Jones is not the matchup. It’s the ego of Brady and Coach Bruce Arians. They will NOT want to be out-done by Mahomes and Reid. If you told me RoJo gets 15+ carries, he smashes. I just don’t trust the Bucs to not put it into Brady’s hands.

WR – Much to my surprise, the arrival of Antonio Brown didn’t have the effect I assumed through three weeks. My thoughts were AB and Chris Godwin would see a ton of targets while Mike Evans would be the third banana. Brown and Evans are actually tied at 26 targets with Godwin at 22. Brady has attempted at least 38 throws in these three games which is actually just about his average. It’s possible to support all three of these guys to some extent on those amount of attempts. Pittsburgh does it, mind you.

AB has been almost totally outside, which should leave him on Charvarius Ward. He’s been a part-time player but they’ll need all hands on deck. In 41 targets, he’s allowed a 106.8 passer rating and a 14.8 YPR. Brown hasn’t wowed yet production-wise but Brady has also missed him multiple times (and he’s dropped one or two). It really feels like a breakout game is coming. Bashaud Breeland is slated to try and handle Evans, and he’s giving up a lot of height and weight. With Brady not shying away, Evans really looks like a solid play as well. Even with AB, he has nine RZ targets and five EZ targets. Godwin is no slouch and I’ll bet Tyrann Mathieu kicks into the slot a good bit. He’s played there on 37.6% of the snaps and has only allowed a 1.40 pPT. I have this trio ranked AB, Evans (toss-up between the two) and then Godwin.

TE – At his price, it’s tough to get excited for Rob Gronkowski. He’s now fourth in line for targets and Evans is taking ALL of the valuable RZ work. He only has one RZ and one EZ target in the last three games and to no shock, has one game over five DK points. It took a touchdown to get him there and I’m not a huge fan of playing a touchdown or bust tight end at this price. We could play Fant, Gesicki or Engram with better odds at success.

D/ST – With the way they’ve been playing lately and Mahomes on the other side? No thank you.

Cash – AB, Evans

GPP – Godwin, RoJo, Brady

Core Four

Brian Hill, Dalvin Cook, Nyheim Hines, Stefon Diggs

I’m glad I waited to decide on a Core because the Jonathan Taylor news changed the game. With one of the three Colts backs decidedly out of the mix, Hines will surely get at least 10-12 touches even if Wilkins plays well. This is the same spot that Hines just torched Tennessee for two scores and over 100 scrimmage yards. That outcome is certainly in play again. Hill enters the fray as a likely chalk option and I was fine not playing the high-end backs this week. Chubb has issues in my eyes and Cook is really, really pricey. However, Cook is tracking chalky. That shouldn’t be too much of a shock with cheap backs. Ghost got me onto this play more than I was and he’s dead on the money with the thought process. I’m loving the spend on receivers like Diggs who is in a shootout with the Chargers and an easier matchup with no Hayward.

Primary Game Stacks

KC/TB – Mahomes, Hill, Kelce, Evans, AB, Watkins, RoJo, Godwin

LAC/BUF – Herbert, Allen, Diggs, Beasley, Williams, Henry, Davis, Allen (stack two options with whatever quarterback you choose and it’s not an easy choice)

LAV/ATL – Carr, Waller, Ridley, Agholor, Hill, Gage/Julio, Hurst, Ryan

Secondary Game Stacks

CAR/MIN – Cook, Teddy B, Jefferson, Samuel, Moore, Cousins, Anderson, Davis

TEN/IND – Henry (potential slate-breaker), Brown, Pittman, Davis, Tannehill, Taylor, Hines, Rivers, Burton

CLE/JAX – Landry, Hunt, Chubb, Viska, Cole (mostly going to be a one and one stack in part of the main stack, not going overboard here)

Let’s get after it this week my friends! 

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