The Primer: Week 9 Edition (2019 Fantasy Football)
It’s funny. When I started writing these intros, I hadn’t expected to write a new one every week. The response to them has been great and it seems like most of you enjoy a journey through my trials and tribulations in life. Because of that, I’ll continue to write stories that I think you’ll enjoy. Believe me when I say my life is far from exciting, which makes it difficult to share crazy stories that would amaze you, so instead, it’s going to force me into sharing another embarrassing story with you.
My wife doesn’t remember the first time she met me.
Okay, that’s kind of a lie. She remembers having a conversation with a guy about a Mustang that was parked out front, which happened to be mine. While that may seem embarrassing enough, it’s not even the half of it. Here’s how I came to find out she didn’t remember the first time she met me.
Let’s start with how that conversation took place. While working for my dad’s furniture business – that I’ve shared in the past – I’d saved up enough money to buy a brand new Mustang GT off the showroom floor, but once I found out insurance was going to cost me $350 per month, I needed some extra spending money. Because of that, I got a job at Rosati’s and delivered pizza at night.
One of the nights I was there, my car was parked out front and she said, “Nice Mustang out there. Is it yours?” After letting her know that it was, she replied saying that she was a big fan of Mustangs, but that she liked the older fox body models more than the newer ones. It kind of played right into my wheelhouse.
“Funny you should say that because I have one of those, too.” I had a 1987 Mustang 5.0 at home that I was working on, though it wasn’t a daily driver. It was my project car that needed some body work/paint, so I’d been working on it when I had time to do so. We talked for a bit about the Mustangs and I didn’t think too much of it because I was in a relationship at the time (she was too). She only worked a few days a week as a student, and I worked just a couple days a week, so we almost never saw each other.
Fast forward a few months and I was sitting at my Uncle Stan’s house watching some football. He told me he wanted to order pizzas and that I should call Rosati’s to get a discount on them. I called and Tabbie (wife) answered the phone. I said, “Hey, it’s Mike the driver. I wanted to order a few pizzas.”
“Awesome, sounds good. What can I get for ya?” She replied.
I went on with my order and told her we’d be in to pick up the pizzas. You see, I hadn’t originally planned to pick them up, but once I knew she was working, I thought it’d be good to go in and say hi. I should also mention that I was now single at this point in time. On our way there, I told my uncle that I’m pretty sure the girl that works there likes me. I explained to him how she was into my Mustangs and that we had a conversation a while back.
We walked into the restaurant and Tabbie was standing at the front desk. She looked up cheerfully and said, “Hi, how can I help you?”
It caught me completely off guard and I could feel the blood flowing through my face with the embarrassment. “Are you serious?”
She looked confused, so she said, “Umm, can I help… you guys?” She over-emphasized the “guys” to talk to both of us.
“I’m Mike, the driver… I called and talked to you on the phone just a little bit ago.”
“Oh, yeah. I’m sorry, I didn’t know which Mike the driver it was.”
Once we got back in the car, my uncle was laughing hysterically. “Oh, yeah, she really likes you!” It was quite embarrassing, to say the least. He still reminds me of that car ride and how Tabbie didn’t even know who I was. To this day, I won’t let her live that down. When she says, “I love you more,” I simply remind her that she doesn’t even remember the first time we met. So, obviously, I love her more.
For next week’s edition of The Primer, I want to do something different. Head over to Twitter (@MikeTagliereNFL) and shoot me a question about anything you want to know. Whether it be about life advice, food, cars, music, whatever you’d like to know, and I’ll do my best to answer them in next week’s intro. The more I get you guys involved, the better!
In case you’ve missed it, I’ve been going back into The Primer on Saturday morning trying to update you on the injury reports that impact your decisions. While I cannot write a whole new article, I do talk about a lot of these things on our Sunday morning livestream, which is FREE to everyone. It’s where I discuss all the latest injury news and then take your questions live from 11-12am EST. Click here to be taken to our YouTube page where you can get notifications when we go live.
If you’re new around these parts, here’s what you can expect out of this article each and every week: numbers, facts, stats, opinions, and some shenanigans here and there. It’s my unbiased opinion about everyone on your roster. Whether it be season-long advice, DFS advice, wide receiver/cornerback matchups, or snap counts, it’s all covered. The idea here is to give you as much information as possible and give you as much confidence as possible when you hit that ‘submit lineup’ button each week. Who should be in your lineup this week?
Houston Texans at Jacksonville Jaguars (In London)
Line: HOU by 2.0
Deshaun Watson: It was a miserable start for the Texans offense against the Raiders last week, but Watson turned up the heat in the fourth quarter and finished as the No. 2 quarterback on the week. Now he heads out to London to play against the Jaguars in a rematch that didn’t go so well in Week 1. Watson finished that game completing just 16-of-29 passes for 159 yards and no touchdowns through the air but did add a touchdown on the ground. Still, it was his second-worst fantasy day of the season. The defense will look a lot different this time around, though, as Jalen Ramsey is no longer with them. They’ve now played five games without him, and in those games, they’ve allowed 106-of-177 passing (59.9 percent) for 1,218 yards (6.88 yards per attempt), eight touchdowns, and seven interceptions. The only quarterback who finished in QB1 territory was… Joe Flacco. Sometimes, football just doesn’t make sense. Watson has played the Jaguars four times over the course of his young career and all have been against the Doug Marrone-led unit. He’s yet to throw for more than 234 yards or one touchdown against them. He’s also taken 15 sacks in those four games. Watson’s rushing has come to save the day in each of the last two meetings, as he scored a rushing touchdown in both games (didn’t throw a touchdown in either game). Divisional meetings are usually tough, especially the second game of the year between the teams, though the London wildcard can change things. The Jaguars did play well in London last year, holding Carson Wentz and the Eagles to just 265 yards and one touchdown through the air. You’re likely playing Watson in season-long but dial back expectations to the low-end QB1 range. It’d also be good to watch for updates on his left tackle Laremy Tunsil who left the Week 8 game with a shoulder injury (he’s been limited in practice all week).
Gardner Minshew: It was good to see Minshew get back on track last week, as he’d had two lousy games in a row. His 23.96-point performance against the Jets was easily the biggest game they’d allowed all year. Now bringing his headband and mustache to London, what could possibly go wrong? The Texans defense allowed him 18.12 fantasy points the last time they played, and as crazy as it sounds, that was the second-lowest total they’ve allowed this year. We’ve watched 6-of-8 quarterbacks post at least 20 fantasy points against them, including Derek Carr last week who threw for 285 yards and three touchdowns on just 30 pass attempts. The best part about all of this for Minshew? These are the numbers they’ve allowed with J.J. Watt. He suffered a season-ending injury in Week 8 and that’s certainly not going to help a front-seven that lost Jadeveon Clowney this offseason. Even with Watt, they were generating just a 5.78 percent sack-rate, which ranks as the 11th-worst in football. The Texans were without their three starting cornerbacks in Week 8, which certainly didn’t help against the Raiders, but you have to wonder if they rush them back knowing their bye week is right after this game. We’ll pay attention to that as the week goes on (they will be without 2-of-3 starters), but regardless, Minshew has the looks of a solid streaming low-end QB1 in this matchup whose ceiling would go up if Watson can throw some points on the board.
Carlos Hyde and Duke Johnson: We’ve watched Hyde tilt back and forth each of the last seven weeks, finishing with 4.4 or more yards per carry, followed by a game with 2.9 or less yards per carry. It’s quite odd seeing it laid out so perfectly. The touch disparity between him and Johnson continues to grow, as he’s totaled 136 touches to Johnson’s 64 touches through eight games. The Jaguars shut down Le’Veon Bell last week and did so without their best defensive tackle Marcel Dareus who was placed on injured reserve. It’s odd Bell didn’t have success against them, as they’ve allowed 4.68 yards per carry on the year, the seventh-highest mark in football. This game sets up well for Hyde’s role on the team, as the Jaguars have allowed just 34.0 yards per game through the air to running backs. The problem is if the gamescript goes south, as Hyde is not involved in the passing-game at all, seeing just 10 targets through eight games. It’s not like Hyde has the goal-line job to himself, either, as Watson has five rushing touchdowns to Hyde’s two. We did see Hyde tally 90 yards on 20 carries against them back in Week 2 though it netted an RB34 finish because he failed to record a touchdown and any receptions. He remains in the middling RB3 territory as someone who doesn’t come with a massive ceiling, but he does present a solid floor. Johnson is nothing more than a mediocre RB4 averaging just 8.0 touches per game but has caught a touchdown in two of the last three games, propping up the fact that he hasn’t topped 56 total yards in any game during that stretch. He didn’t record a single catch in their first meeting of the year.
Leonard Fournette: He’s now totaled 1,052 yards this season. He has one touchdown. I cannot begin to say just how improbable this is. There’s no one else in the league who’s totaled more than 650 yards who has less than three touchdowns. In fact, there are just eight running backs who have totaled 750-plus total yards this year, and all of them have scored at least five touchdowns. The touchdowns should come soon, but Fournette has been horrific on the goal-line, as he’s had four carries inside the five-yard-line and has totaled (-) 6 yards on them. The Texans had been struggling a bit more against the run this year without Jadeveon Clowney, but now losing J.J. Watt is likely going to push them over the edge. 2017 was the last time they lost him to injury, and during that season they allowed 3.66 yards per carry with him, but 4.05 yards per carry without him. Through eight games this year, the Texans have allowed 4.10 yards per carry, but have plugged up the middle around the goal-line, allowing just two touchdowns on 144 carries. They’ve still yet to allow a 100-yard rusher despite playing against Christian McCaffrey, Alvin Kamara, Austin Ekeler, and Fournette himself. Back in Week 2, he tallied a season-low 47 yards on the ground, though he added another four catches for 40 yards through the air, which has been a normal thing against the Texans, who’ve allowed more fantasy points through the air to running backs than any other team in the league. Through the air alone, they’ve allowed 14.8 PPR points per game. By comparison, the Patriots have allowed 13.3 PPR points per game to running backs as a whole. Knowing Fournette has seen at least six targets in 6-of-8 games, he has multiple avenues of producing in this game. Keep him locked into lineups as a high-end RB1.
Deandre Hopkins: It’s now three straight games where we’ve seen Hopkins get 12-plus targets and he’s turned in back-to-back 100-yard performances, though he still has just one touchdown over his last seven games. It’ll be odd for him going against the Jaguars without Jalen Ramsey, as that was a showdown we could look forward to, though it’s a welcomed change for him. He’ll see A.J. Bouye a lot of the time, who’s no pushover in coverage himself. On the year, he’s allowed just 24-of-40 passing for 336 yards and no touchdowns in his coverage, though they are playing plenty of zone coverage. This is a good thing for Hopkins, who’s been used in an underneath role this year with just a 10.8-yard average depth of target. It’s why the Jaguars have allowed 10 different receivers to rack up five or more receptions against them this year. Hopkins may have only tallied 5/40/0 on eight targets in their first matchup, but he’ll no longer have Ramsey tied to him. He’s an every-week plug-and-play WR1, and his target ceiling only goes up with Will Fuller out of the lineup.
Kenny Stills: He took over Will Fuller‘s role and played a full complement of snaps but finished with a season-low 22 yards. It was supposed to be a great matchup with the Raiders, which is likely to make many hesitant to put him into lineups against the Jaguars this week. They’ve allowed 31 pass plays that have gone for 20-plus yards, which ranks as the seventh-highest number in the league, but do playing conditions in London limit them from utilizing Stills’ speed down the field? We saw the Jaguars minimalize Robby Anderson last week, holding him to just four catches for 43 yards. A few weeks back, we watched Curtis Samuel being held to just three catches for 19 yards. Going back to their matchup in Week 2, Fuller played and totaled just 4/40/0 on seven targets, so they did a good job containing his speed in that game. Knowing Watson has never thrown more than one touchdown against the Jaguars, Stills lacks the appeal he had last week. Consider him a mediocre WR4 this week who can pay off on just one play, though we can say that about plenty of receivers.
D.J. Chark: It was good to see the Chark and Minshew connection back last week, as he saw a season-high 12 targets. The Texans were without both of their starting cornerbacks last week, and it showed as they allowed the Raiders to combined for 10 catches, 221 yards, and two touchdowns on just 14 targets. Tyrell Williams didn’t even look like he was moving that well, yet he was able to post 3/91/1 while coming off a multi-week injury. Even one of their backups (Lonnie Johnson) suffered a concussion. With the Texans bye week coming after this game, you must wonder if Johnathan Joseph (looks like he’ll play) and Bradley Roby (he’s out), who are both dealing with hamstring injuries, make it out to London to play. Whatever the case, there’s been just one game all year where the Texans didn’t allow at least one receiver to hit 18-plus PPR points against them. Over their last four games, there have been eight wide receivers/tight ends who’ve scored at least 15 PPR points. Chark should be in lineups as a borderline WR1 in this game.
Chris Conley: We’ve quietly seen Conley tally 14 targets over the last two weeks and knowing Westbrook is dinged up, we may continue to see him play a bigger role versus the injured Texans secondary. Knowing they’ve allowed seven top-18 wide receivers in the last four games, you want to take a closer look at Conley. He’s playing the majority of his snaps on the perimeter with most of them coming at LWR, which is a great place to be. The Texans top cornerback Johnathan Joseph stays planted at left cornerback, which matches up with the RWR. The Texans newly acquired Gareon Conley would likely be covering Conley (that odd moment when you realize it’s Conley vs. Conley). While Conley has flashed at times in his career, he hasn’t been good this year, allowing a 126.9 QB Rating in his coverage. Conley is far from a sure thing, but if Westbrook is held out, he’d get a bump in the rankings. He’s teetering on the WR4/5 radar right now.
Dede Westbrook: It was a tough matchup with Brian Poole last week, though nobody could’ve predicted just one target for Westbrook. It’s clear his injury (neck/shoulder) is impacting him, as he played just 30-of-74 snaps last week, which was a season-low. Knowing the Jaguars bye week is coming after this game, they could choose to keep him out and play Keelan Cole in his place. Whoever is playing the slot for the Jaguars has a good matchup, as they’d likely see 2018 sixth-rounder Cornell Armstrong in coverage. He’s yet to play 100 snaps in the NFL and has allowed two touchdowns on 10 targets in his coverage. The Texans even had safety Justin Reid come down and cover the slot at times last week, so it’s clear they’re scrambling to find solutions. If Westbrook practices and is active, he’s a risk/reward high-end WR4. If Westbrook sits out, Cole would become an interesting streaming option, though Conley would likely be the primary beneficiary of target share. *Update* He’s been limited in practice, but appears to be on track to play.
Darren Fells: While this continues to be a timeshare between Fells and Jordan Akins, it’s Fells who’s been having success on a semi-regular basis. He’s now tallied at least 69 yards or two touchdowns in three of his last four games, and currently sits as the TE8 in PPR formats. What a year it’s been, eh? The Jaguars are coming off a game in which they allowed Ryan Griffin to score two touchdowns while racking up four catches for 66 yards. The odd part is that they haven’t been a great matchup for tight ends this year, as the Fells/Akins combo combined for just three catches for 34 yards in their Week 2 meeting against them. Despite allowing that performance to Griffin, they’ve allowed just the 17th-most points to the position. Fells still has yet to see more than three targets in back-to-back games, which makes him far from a sure thing, though this is the reality of streaming the tight end position in 2019. He’s a middling TE2 but not one who’s in a smash spot or anything.
Josh Oliver: The Jaguars tight end split is nearing 50/50 between Oliver and Seth DeValve, though nothing worthwhile is coming out of it. The duo has combined for just five targets over the last two weeks, which have netted just two catches for 17 scoreless yards. If they were playing the Cardinals, we’d want to do a deep dive into who might get more playing time, but you really shouldn’t be considering either of them right now. Oliver is trending in the direction of the leader, though, and that’s why the Jaguars drafted him in the third-round. The Texans have allowed just 1.40 PPR points per target to tight ends on the year, which ranks as the fourth-lowest mark in football.
Chicago Bears at Philadelphia Eagles
Line: PHI by 5.0
Mitch Trubisky: He may have played one of his better games of the year last week, though that’s not saying much. The Bears have clearly indicated they want to go with a run-heavy approach, though in this game against the Eagles, that’s not going to be very smart. The Eagles allow just 3.41 yards per carry and have been a brick wall for running backs. It’s why we’ve seen 288 pass attempts (36.0 per game) against the Eagles through eight games, which is the sixth-most in football. Considering all the injuries they’ve dealt with in the secondary, their efficiency hasn’t been horrible, allowing 7.58 yards per attempt, though the 5.56 percent touchdown-rate is rather large. There have been just two quarterbacks who’ve failed to finish as top-12 options against the Eagles this year (Matthew Stafford and Luke Falk), so you definitely want to look closely to see if there’s streaming potential. The Eagles did get cornerback Ronald Darby back last week, providing somewhat of a boost, though he hasn’t been particularly good when on the field. The biggest issue with streaming Trubisky is his lack of mobility, which is what would provide a stable floor in a matchup like this. He’s yet to rush for more than 11 yards this year, which is odd because he rushed for at least 16 yards in 11-of-14 games last year. These two teams met in the playoffs last year when Trubisky tallied 303 yards and one touchdown on 43 attempts. His lack of competence through eight weeks cannot allow you to stream him with any confidence, but he should be able to produce top-20 numbers in this game.
Carson Wentz: There’s been a lot of trouble with the Eagles offense this year, though the biggest problem is the lack of a receiver to stretch the field. Will he get DeSean Jackson back this week? Don’t hold your breath. The Bears defense is hardly the unit they used to be without Akiem Hicks, though his loss has affected the run defense a bit more. Through seven games, the Bears have still yet to allow a top-12 quarterback performance. They’ve allowed seven touchdowns through seven games, though that number could’ve been bigger had Mike Williams and Keenan Allen not dropped would-be touchdowns last week. Even the Bears sack-rate of just 6.9 percent is the middle of the pack among defenses, so Wentz shouldn’t be under any more duress than he was last week against the Bills. There’s still yet to be a quarterback who’s averaged more than 7.7 yards per attempt this year, which is problematic for Wentz, who has totaled less than 30 pass attempts in four of the last five games. The 2.71 percent touchdown-rate they’ve allowed doesn’t bode well for someone with limited pass attempts, either. The truth is that Wentz hasn’t finish as a top-16 quarterback in three of his last four games, and now has to go against a team who’s yet to allow a top-12 performance. He’s stuck in the mid-to-high-end QB2 conversation. Remember that both Matt Nagy and Doug Pederson understand what each offense is trying to do.
David Montgomery and Tarik Cohen: The Bears said they were going to run the ball and they did… for a week. They racked up 33 rushing attempts against the Chargers and it amounted to 147 yards and a touchdown. The issue is that they’re now going against the Eagles, who have been a brick wall up front while allowing just 3.41 yards per carry. Without the game against Ezekiel Elliott when they were down to just two linebackers, they’ve allowed just 396 yards on 127 carries (3.12 yards per carry). Elliott is still the only running back who’s been able to tally more than 63 yards on the ground against them, which doesn’t bode well for Montgomery’s role. It’s not due to a lack of attempts, either, as Dalvin Cook, Le’Veon Bell, and Kerryon Johnson all tallied at least 15 carries, yet failed to crack 43 yards. The good news is that Montgomery did see a season-high five targets last week, which should make him somewhat usable for those with bye week issues, but understand his ceiling is very limited in this game, making him a mid-to-low end RB3. Cohen should be heavily utilized in the short passing game to help neutralize the Eagles pass-rush. We have seen four different running backs rack up at least six receptions against them, and that Cohen has hit in two of the last three games. The lone concern is that Nagy didn’t use Cohen much against the Eagles in the playoff game between these two teams last year when it was an easy point of attack. Cohen should offer low-end RB3 numbers, particularly in PPR formats.
Miles Sanders and Jordan Howard: We don’t know the availability of Sanders after he hurt his shoulder in last week’s win over the Bills, so stay tuned for updates. The snap counts for Howard over the last five weeks have been as solid as it gets for an Eagles running back (33-29-40-23-53), and you now have the revenge narrative against his former team. The Bears run defense without defensive tackle Akiem Hicks has been… well, not good. Over those last three games, they’ve allowed 311 rushing yards on 74 carries (4.20 yards per carry) with six rushing touchdowns. Keep in mind they’d allowed just five rushing touchdowns over their previous 20 games. Knowing the Bears offense is struggling to put points on the board, the Eagles should be able to run the ball a lot in this contest. Combining the Bears struggles to stop the run, with Sanders’ injury, with Howard coming off a season-high 23 carries, and the fact that he’s received nine of the 12 available carries inside the five-yard-line, he has the looks of someone who can be played as a high-end RB3. If Sanders is able to play, it lowers the safety of Howard, but not by much, as Sanders has not played more than 28 snaps in five of the last six games, and he’s received just 21 touches over the last three weeks combined. His ridiculous efficiency has kept him afloat and he’s earning more trust in the passing game, but with those touches, he’s nothing more than a high-end RB4 who needs to break a big play.
Allen Robinson: If only we were able to see Robinson with a top-tier talent at quarterback. While watching Robinson, I find myself continually rewinding the film to watch how he made a catch happen. He’s winning contested catch situations, which is important with Trubisky chucking balls his way. He’s now finished as a top-24 receiver in 4-of-7 games and has only finished outside the top-40 receivers once, and that was against Chris Harris Jr. Knowing he’s done that with Trubisky struggling should give you an idea of what his ceiling could be if Trubisky puts it together. The last time the Bears played the Eagles (playoff game last year), Robinson racked up 10 catches for 143 yards and a touchdown. They don’t have a cornerback on their roster who can cover him. While Ronald Darby came back last week, we can’t pretend he’s been good this year while allowing a 100.5 QB Rating in his coverage. Robinson moves all over the formation, so he’ll see a mixture of Darby, Jalen Mills, and Sidney Jones (or Avonte Maddox) in coverage. The Eagles as a whole have allowed 42.5 PPR points per game to wide receivers, which is behind only the Texans. Through eight games, they’ve allowed nine top-18 wide receiver performances, and Robinson is the only logical one on the Bears to get there. Consider him a high-end WR2 for this contest who should be in consideration for cash lineups.
Anthony Miller: It’s now been three straight games where Miller has totaled at least 52 yards, though he hasn’t scored this season. He appeared to be on the right track while seeing 16 targets in the two games leading up to Week 8, but after seeing just three targets in that game, we have to temper expectations. The Eagles have been a unit to attack through the air, though they’ve been solid against slot receivers. Of the nine top-18 performances they’ve allowed to receivers, none of them were to slot-heavy receivers. One thing that should be noted, however, is that they have allowed touchdowns to three of them. Geronimo Allison, Trey Quinn, and Cole Beasley have all crossed the white line for six points, though none of them totaled more than four receptions, either. Will they get cornerback Avonte Maddox back in the slot? He’s been out since Week 4, though he’s not an impenetrable force or anything (he appears to be returning). Miller should be considered a WR5 with his recent surge in production and might even find the end zone this week, but his fluctuating targets don’t make him very appealing.
Alshon Jeffery: It was pretty shocking to see Jeffery has finished as a top-36 receiver in 5-of-6 games this year, as it’s seemed worse than that. I’m not counting the Falcons game he left in the first quarter with no targets, obviously. He had a brutal matchup last week with Tre’Davious White combined with 40 MPH wind gusts yet was able to post double-digit PPR points. The Bears cornerback duo of Kyle Fuller and Prince Amukamara were made to look better than they were last week when Keenan Allen kept slipping all over the field and dropped a surefire touchdown, while Williams also dropped a would-be touchdown. There have been six wide receivers who’ve tallied six or more receptions against the Bears this year, with five of them being primary perimeter players, which Jeffery is. He obviously has a good idea as to what type of player Kyle Fuller is, as the two were teammates in Chicago and practiced against each other. Jeffery was able to tally six catches for 82 yards in their playoff meeting last year and that was with Nick Foles throwing to him. It’s not a matchup to expect a high ceiling out of Jeffery, but he’s shown a solid enough floor to play him as a WR3 in this contest.
DeSean Jackson: Stay tuned for updates on Jackson, as we must assume he’s not playing until we have reason to believe he is. He did return to practice in a limited fashion but he’s been out since Week 2, so it’s likely a long road back. *Update* Jackson has been limited in practice all week, so there’s a chance he plays. The Bears haven’t been the type to allow big plays, but the element he brings to the offense is significant and upgrades everyone around him. If you own Jackson, it’s probably best to ensure he makes it through a full game before putting him into lineups. Jackson said he’ll be cautious when taking the field this week.
Nelson Agholor: Despite DeSean Jackson being out of the lineup the last five weeks, Agholor has averaged just 3.6 targets per game. He’s not on the fantasy radar with that volume. The Bears haven’t had any issues covering the slot, as the biggest performance they’ve allowed to a slot-heavy receiver was Keenan Allen‘s seven catches for 53 scoreless yards, and it took 10 targets to get there. He’s not a recommended streaming play.
Trey Burton: You’d think that with so much uncertainty at the tight end position this year that we’d be able to rely on Burton for streaming production, but no, that hasn’t been the case. While he has seen four targets in four of the last five games, he’s failed to top 20 yards in every game this season, and has scored as many touchdowns as you have. The Eagles have been one of the best teams in the league at defending tight ends under Jim Schwartz, allowing just 12 touchdowns since the start of the 2016 season, a span of 56 games. That’s not going to make you feel better with a tight end who’s struggled to gain yards. On top of that, Pederson/Schwartz understand how the Bears want to use Burton, as they run a similar offense. Burton should not be used as anything more than an emergency TE2.
Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert: It hasn’t been a great year to own Ertz in fantasy but hear me out. If you were to have said before the season that Ertz would be No. 2 in targets among tight ends through eight weeks and that Carson Wentz remained healthy, you’d have no concerns, right? If you were to remove the two weeks Goedert didn’t really play, Ertz has run 166 routes while Goedert has run 100 routes in the other six games. Ertz has out-targeted him 41 to 26, so it adds up. Ertz is still the one you want and the one who’s due for some positive regression. The Bears haven’t been a good matchup for tight ends, though. Dating back to the start of last year (a span of 23 games), the Bears have allowed just one tight end to record more than 49 yards against them, and that was George Kittle who posted 7/74/0 on 12 targets. Throughout that time, there’s also been just two tight ends who’ve recorded more than four receptions. So, when you consider tight ends are lucky to finish inside the top-12 against the Bears in general, how do you feel about two of them? Ertz should remain in lineups as a middling TE1 who’ll snap out of his funk soon enough while Goedert is nothing more than a touchdown-dependent TE2.
Washington Redskins at Buffalo Bills
Line: BUF by 10.0
Case Keenum: While it seems likely Keenum will be available for this game given the 10 days in between to clear protocol, that’s not a given when you think about Redskins who have entered the protocol (Jordan Reed, Vernon Davis). But here’s the thing: Does it really matter? The Bills defense has allowed just five passing touchdowns all season and has held 6-of-7 quarterbacks to 250 yards or less. The Redskins are projected for just 13.5 points which tells you everything you need to know. The only reason Keenum’s availability matters is to McLaurin’s potential. *Update* Dwayne Haskins will start for the Redskins this week. You’re not considering him for fantasy.
Josh Allen: After playing in a game where there were 40 MPH winds, Allen’s conditions should be much better in Week 9. It wasn’t a bad game last week, though, as Allen made it work, finishing with another top-15 finish. He’s done that in 6-of-7 games but has finished better than the QB10 just once. There has yet to be a quarterback who’s averaged less than 7.2 yards per attempt against the Redskins. However, over the last three weeks, we’ve watched three quarterbacks hit that number, yet none of them have topped 11.6 fantasy points. Why’s that? Well, the games have slowed down considerably with Bill Callahan stepping in as interim coach. Ryan Fitzpatrick threw just 18 pass attempts (though he was benched), Jimmy Garoppolo 21, and Kirk Cousins 26. That type of volume will obviously hurt production out of fantasy quarterbacks, though Allen is a bit different. There have been eight games over Allen’s career where he’s thrown the ball 26 times or less. In those games, he’s averaged 21.7 fantasy points, which is higher than when he throws the ball more than 26 times. It’s even bigger splits when his team wins, as he’s averaged 25.2 points in wins, but just 15.1 points in losses. Knowing the Bills are big favorites while at home, there’s not much to worry about with Allen here. It also doesn’t hurt to know that Dak Prescott rushed for 69 yards against the Redskins, while Daniel Jones was able to tally 33 yards. Allen should be considered a low-end QB1/high-end QB2 in this contest who should offer a stable floor.
Adrian Peterson: We see flashes of the old Peterson at times but in the end, he’s just a volume running back playing on a bad team. The Bills are a great defense, but if there’s one weakness, it’s against the run. There have been eight different running backs who’ve totaled at least 60 yards on the ground against them, which amounts to more than one per game. I’ve mentioned this stat before, but for good reason: Under Sean McDermott, the Bills have now allowed 42 rushing touchdowns in 39 games. If there’s a goal-line opportunity for the Redskins, who are projected for just 13.5 points, Peterson is going to get it. The other good news is that under interim head coach Bill Callahan, Peterson has averaged 20.3 opportunities and has finished as a top-28 PPR running back in all three games. We watched power-back Jordan Howard rush for 96 yards and a touchdown against them last week, though he plays in a much better offense behind a much better offensive line. Peterson should be in the middling RB3 conversation, though he’s not someone who comes with a high ceiling.
Frank Gore and Devin Singletary: The snap counts were quite lopsided in Week 8, though you wouldn’t know it by the touch counts. Singletary out-snapped Gore 40-17, but Gore led the duo in touches, 9-7. This is an ugly timeshare at the moment. There have been four top-10 running back performances against the Redskins this year, though each of those running backs totaled at least 19 touches, something that’s been hard to come by when both of these running backs are on the field. The 33.5 running back touches per game against the Redskins highlights why some may be tempted by these Bills running backs, but what’s the upside? We’re now halfway through the season and the top five performances out of this backfield have ranged from 10.9 to 16.9 PPR points. And keep in mind the 16.9-point performance came against the Bengals, who’ve allowed a robust 4.91 yards per carry. The Redskins have allowed their opponents to rack up at least 108 rushing yards in 6-of-8 games, so there is a solid floor to be had with Gore, but his lack of upside leaves him in the low-end RB3 territory. Singletary seems to be the option they’ll use when they fall behind, as he’s seen six targets in two separate games. He’s still yet to top nine touches in an NFL game. Because of the hold that Gore has in carries, combined with the gamescript, Singletary is a high-end RB4 at best who needs to break a big play with his limited touches. Will the Bills start to move the early-down work to him? It doesn’t appear so.
Terry McLaurin: After the Vikings game started out promising where he tallied three catches for 49 yards in the first half – and should’ve had a touchdown if not for massive pass interference – McLaurin didn’t catch a ball the entire second half once Dwayne Haskins took over for Keenum. It’s important to monitor Keenum’s status for this game, as he has to make it through the concussion protocol. The Bills matchup is a brutal one to begin with, as the Bills have allowed just two top-24 performances to wide receivers this year despite five different wide receivers seeing 10-plus targets. The lone piece of good news is that McLaurin is going to see a lot of Levi Wallace in coverage, as the Bills have not shadowed with Tre’Davious White this year. Wallace has allowed two touchdowns in his coverage this year, though that’s over a span of 50 targets. Still, he’s not nearly as worrisome as White, and McLaurin is on his side about 52 percent of the time, while seeing White just 30 percent of the time. If Keenum is under center, McLaurin should still be able to offer mid-to-low-end WR3 value, though his ceiling isn’t there. If Colt McCoy or Haskins is under center, you can likely find a better WR4-type option. *Update* Haskins is starting for the Redskins this week. He destroyed McLaurin’s value last week, though it should help that they’re actually preparing for him to start. McLaurin played at Ohio State with Haskins, so there is a connection, though it hasn’t showed on the NFL level just yet.
John Brown: I was prepared to wipe away the Eagles game with Brown after we found out there were 40 MPH winds but seeing him finish inside the top-36 was a pleasant surprise. We haven’t had a shortage of fantasy relevant receivers against the Redskins, as they’ve allowed 13 of them to finish as top-40 options against them. The issue is that just three of them have come over the last three games since they’ve been under Bill Callahan. That’s due to a lack of pass attempts, as they’ve faced just 47 pass attempts over the last two weeks. The Redskins aren’t going to be use anyone to shadow Brown, as they’ve simply played sides with Josh Norman struggling. Brown lines up on Quinton Dunbar‘s coverage about 50 percent of the time, who’s been their best cornerback in coverage this year. He’s allowed just a 57.6 percent catch-rate in his coverage while allowing just 10.7 yards per reception. Needless to say, he’s kept the play in front of him. The lack of targets to go around against the Redskins is the biggest problem, though. Given the solid floor Brown has had while totaling at least four receptions and five targets in every game, you have to plug him into lineups as a WR3, even if the matchup isn’t ideal. The craziest part is that Brown hasn’t hooked up with Allen for more than a 38-yard reception yet.
Cole Beasley: There’s been a lot of variation in Beasley’s year, as he’s seen as many as 12 targets, but he’s also seen as low as three targets. He’s not the go-to option that John Brown has been, but he has been somewhat stable in PPR formats and has scored a touchdown in each of the last two games. He’s scored at least 9.0 PPR points in 6-of-7 games, which is what some will look for during bye weeks. The Redskins have allowed just three top-40 receivers over the last three weeks, though much of that has come from limited pass attempts. They faced the 49ers in the game we describe as a mudslide, then played the Vikings in a game where Kirk Cousins attempted just 26 passes. So, maybe it was the competition? Prior to their last three games, they’d allowed 10 top-40 receivers through five games. Plenty of that production has come via the slot, as Jimmy Moreland and Fabian Moreau have combined to allow 27-of-29 passing for 267 yards and a touchdown when covering that area of the field. The matchup is not a reason to avoid Beasley this week. He can be considered a semi-decent floor WR4 option.
Vernon Davis or Jeremy Sprinkle: It’s now been over a month since we’ve seen Davis on the field, so we should prepare to be without him once again. Not that you’d be trusting him or Sprinkle, but we touch on every player here. The Bills have yet to allow a tight end more than 48 yards this year, and that’s despite playing against Zach Ertz, Evan Engram, and Delanie Walker. Even going back to the start of last year, no tight end has topped 55 yards in a game against them. Look elsewhere no matter who takes the starting spot at tight end.
Tyler Kroft: Now that he’s back from his multi-week injury, it appears he’ll take over as the primary tight end for the Bills, though it’s still a timeshare. The snap count in Week 8 was Kroft 33, Dawson Knox 28, and Lee Smith 19. Despite the overall passing production they allowed early in the year, the Redskins have yet to allow a tight end record more than 54 yards. Keep in mind that’s despite playing against Zach Ertz, George Kittle, and Evan Engram. They’ve allowed a measly 1.57 PPR points per target, which ranks eighth-best in the league. This is not a matchup you need to attack with a Bills tight end.