The Primer: Week 13 Edition (2019 Fantasy Football)
It’s really easy to get caught up in day-to-day life and forget about some of the things you’ve felt throughout your journey in life. It happens to the best of us. Remember how you felt when you got your driver’s license? How about when you got the Christmas present you’d wished for? Maybe the first time your parents told you they were proud of you? On the opposite end of the spectrum, how about the time you lost a loved one?
It’s so easy to forget about the things that can bring on the strongest of emotions. Today, let’s remember one that many of us fall victim to.
We all remember the first time we felt butterflies for someone, right? I want you to go back to the time you first started dating. No matter what else was happening in your life, that person was the one who brightened your day. You’d do anything for them. Whether it be meeting them for dinner/drinks after a long day at work, dropping whatever plans you had to make things work for them, or driving over 100 miles to surprise them. Simply put, your life revolved around them.
When you’ve been dating or married for quite some time, it’s easy to fall into habits. You get home from work and give them a quick peck-like kiss that you didn’t think much about. You ask how their day was but might not be paying attention as much as you would’ve in the past. You stop surprising them. You simply fall into the trap of day-to-day life when the newness has worn off. It’s okay, it happens to all of us.
I had a friend ask me that a few years back about relationship advice. He asked, “If there’s one piece of advice you’d give to couples, what would it be?” It was an easy question for me to answer. I said to treat them like no one else can. It sounds so simple, but I broke it down like this. Let’s pretend your girlfriend/boyfriend/wife/husband is sitting in the other room while you read this. I want you to imagine for a second that someone was to come to your house and take them out on a date. While on that date, would they be telling themselves “wow, this is what I’ve been missing” or would they be thinking about how good they have it with you?
You’re not going to be perfect all the time and no one should expect that, but you need to set the standard. This goes for them, too. You need to feel special and know that they treat you better than anyone else ever could. Any time you’re torn on whether that’s the case, I have a simple solution. Ask yourself honestly if you’d want your children (or future children) to date/marry someone like you. Ask yourself if you’d want your kids to date/marry someone like your loved one. If the answer is no to either question, you have some work to do.
I want to stop what you’re doing right now and walk over to them. If you’re not at home, pick up the phone and call them. Tell them something you would’ve said when you started dating, and mean it. Tell them they’re beautiful and you couldn’t imagine life without them. If you haven’t done something like this in a while, it will probably feel a little odd to you, but most importantly, it will make their day and set the new standard in place. You’re eventually going to fall into the same place you are right now, but every now and then (maybe every time you read one of my articles), give yourself an assessment and don’t ever forget… treat your loved ones like no one else can.
I hope every one of you have a Happy Thanksgiving with your friends and families. We have a lot to be thankful for as we go through this gift called life, but without them, none of it would be worth it. Don’t wait to appreciate something until it’s gone. Happy Thanksgiving, my friends.
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?
**If you’re looking for the Thanksgiving Day games, we did a special version of The Primer for them. You can check them out right here.**
Tennessee Titans at Indianapolis Colts
Line: IND by 3.0
Ryan Tannehill: What a ride it’s been for Tannehill, who was left for dead by many teams/analysts. He’s now started five games for the Titans, led them to a 4-1 record during that time, and has scored at least 18.9 fantasy points in each of them. Keep in mind that two of those games came against the Chargers and Jaguars, two of the tougher pass defenses in the league. The Titans are going to need him against the Colts, as they’re a team who stops the run extremely well, and they’ve still yet to allow a 100-yard rusher under Matt Eberflus. As a pass defense, they’ve been somewhat matchup dependent. They’ve allowed Deshaun Watson (twice), Philip Rivers, Matt Ryan, and Patrick Mahomes to average 8.23 or more yards per attempt, but have held Nick Foles, Derek Carr, Marcus Mariota, Mason Rudolph, Joe Flacco, and Ryan Fitzpatrick to 6.30 or less yards per attempt. With the way Tannehill’s been playing (completing 72.1 percent of passes for 9.2 yards per attempt), it’s tough not to put him in that first group, though he likely falls somewhere in-between. What’s helped boost his numbers, though, has been his rushing totals, as he’s now totaled 38, 37, and 40 yards on the ground over their last three games, and has three rushing touchdowns in that span. The Colts have allowed 5.04 yards per carry to quarterbacks this year, which ranks as the eighth-most in the league and has allowed three quarterbacks to rush for 23-plus yards. Tannehill should be considered a high-end QB2 for this contest who’s going to throw quite a bit more than the 37 times he has the last two weeks combined.
Jacoby Brissett: He’s now thrown just one touchdown over their last four games, which is much different than the quarterback who threw 14 touchdowns in the first six games. Sure, there have been injuries in the wide receiver corps, but it’s not getting any better, as they just lost Eric Ebron for the season. The Titans matchup hasn’t been a bad one, as we’ve watched 7-of-11 quarterbacks finish as top-16 options against them. The loss of Malcolm Butler surely didn’t help them get any better, though they did hold Nick Foles to just 272 scoreless yards on 48 pass attempts (5.67 yards per attempt) last week. Brissett threw for three touchdowns against them in the first meeting back in Week 2, though he only threw for 146 yards, which is similar to what we’ve seen as of late. In fact, Brissett has now thrown for 202 or less yards in 7-of-10 games with the only three exceptions being the Falcons, Raiders, and Texans, three of the worst secondaries in the league. Relying on touchdowns is always a tricky thing, but Brissett has a few ways to get them, as he’s rushed for a touchdown in each of the last two games. The Titans are one of just eight teams left who’ve yet to allow a rushing touchdown to a quarterback, and they’ve allowed just a 4.05 percent touchdown-rate through the air, so things don’t look so great for Brissett here. He’s just a mid-to-low-end QB2 in this game, as he’s too touchdown-dependent.
Derrick Henry: We knew he’d have a big game against the Jaguars, right? He still needed to execute, and it’s fair to say 175 total yards and two touchdowns constitutes as a big game. It’s going to be a lot tougher in Week 13, as the Colts are no joke against the run. Now 27 regular season games into the Matt Eberflus defense, they’ve still yet to allow a 100-yard rusher. They’ve also allowed just 11 rushing touchdowns in that span, including just three rushing scores this year, which ranks as the second-fewest in football behind only the Patriots. Teams seem to know this, too, as running backs have averaged just 19.2 carries per game against them. It helps that Henry is getting 89 percent of the carries on the team, but that’s a very low number against a team that’s limited efficiency, too. Another part of the issue is that teams are averaging just 59.1 plays per game against the Colts, which is the fourth-lowest mark in the league. Combine that with the fact that the Titans have averaged just 58.8 plays per game, and we may have an issue for Henry if he’s not utilized in the passing game. Knowing there’s just one game he’s caught more than two passes; it seems rather unlikely. These are the reasons we’ve seen just three running backs finish as top-18 options against the Colts. Henry was one of them when he tallied 81 yards on 15 carries with a touchdown in their Week 2 matchup, though that was while at home. You’re playing him as someone who’s scored in 8-of-11 games this year but dial back expectations into RB2 territory this week. It’s not a week to attack him in DFS. *Update* Henry popped-up on the injury report with a hamstring injury on Wednesday. It could be them just looking to give him some rest, but it could be more. We’ll update as more information becomes available.
Jonathan Williams and Nyheim Hines: We heard from beat reporters that it was supposed to be a timeshare between Jordan Wilkins and Williams last week. So much for that, eh? Keep in mind that those are individuals who are with the team nearly every day. Williams is clearly the lead back in Marlon Mack‘s absence, as he carried the ball a massive 26 times in the loss to the Texans, racking up 104 yards and a touchdown. The Titans are coming off a game in which they allowed Leonard Fournette to score twice, but that’s been a rare occasion under Mike Vrabel. Coming into that game, they’d allowed just 12 rushing touchdowns over 26 games under him. Mack had a lot of issues finding room back in their Week 2 meeting when he carried the ball 20 times for just 51 yards, resulting in the RB38 performance on the week. To be fair, Wilkins broke a long run in that game and wound-up with 82 yards on just five carries. Still, there have been just eight running backs who’ve finished better than the RB24 against them this year, which isn’t the greatest thing for Williams’ floor. But we cannot ignore his back-to-back 100-yard games as the lead back in the offense, and it also helps to know he caught three passes in their Week 12 game, which provides us with a stable floor. Mack had just two games all season with three catches. Opponents have averaged 66.8 plays per game against the Titans this year, which should allow for plenty of touches for Williams, who should be considered a low-end RB2 for this game. Hines had more work in Week 12 than he has all season, totaling nine rushing attempts and three targets with Mack out of the lineup, though the ratio remained somewhat the same. The reason his touches were up was due to them running the ball a massive 35 times. He remains stuck in RB4 territory, though it helps to know the Titans opponents have targeted running backs a league-leading 94 times this year, and with Ebron out for the year, some of those targets can funnel to him. He’s not the worst play this week. *Update* Now with Hilton on the shelf, Hines will need to be heavily involved. He’s moving into the low-end RB3 conversation.
Corey Davis: He was back into the lineup in Week 12, though you would’ve preferred him to sit out another week if you knew a two-catch, 29-yard game would be the outcome. The Titans threw the ball just 18 times, so it’s not as if he was going to have elite production anyway. The matchup also wasn’t great against the Jaguars. The matchup with the Colts hasn’t been a bad one for receivers this year, as they’ve now allowed seven receivers to go for 100-plus yards, which doesn’t even include Deandre Hopkins‘ 94-yard, two-touchdown performance. Davis played them himself back in Week 2 with Marcus Mariota under center, hauling in three balls for 38 yards on five targets. Knowing they’ve allowed 15 receivers to total at least 58 yards and/or a touchdown, Davis has some appeal with Tannehill under center in this game. Quarterbacks have averaged 34.3 pass attempts per game against them, and that’s despite averaging just 59.1 plays per game. Over the last two weeks, we’ve watched four different receivers tally six-plus receptions against the Colts and all of them were perimeter receivers. Davis is far from a sure thing, but he has the looks of a WR4 this week.
A.J. Brown: He continues to do more with less, as Brown has just two more targets than Davis on the season but has 178 more yards and two more touchdowns. His average of 8.7 yards after the catch is behind only Mecole Hardman among receivers with at least 20 receptions. He also isn’t viewed as the No. 1, so he doesn’t ever see shadow coverage. The Colts won’t be shadowing in this game, so Brown will see a mixture of Pierre Desir and either Rock Ya-Sin (was inactive last week) or Marvell Tell. The return of Desir was supposed to make an impact, but instead, it led to 4/86/2 on five targets in his coverage. The Colts have allowed Deandre Hopkins, Will Fuller, D.J. Chark, and Chris Conley to all finish as top-30 options over the last two weeks, so suggesting Brown as a WR4 makes sense. One thing to note is that the Colts have limited the big plays under Matt Eberflus, allowing just 75 passing plays of 20-plus yards over the 27 games in his scheme. While that may sound like a lot, it’s not. There are just three teams that have allowed fewer over that timespan (Bills, Bears, 49ers).
Adam Humphries: He’s not someone you should be considering in fantasy football, as he’s failed to top 47 yards in all but two games this year and has scored just one touchdown. His role as the No. 3 receiver on a run-first team doesn’t amount to much production unless they throw the ball a ton. Opposing teams of receivers have averaged just 18.1 targets per game, which doesn’t bode well for Humphries’ role.
T.Y. Hilton: His return to the lineup didn’t bring joy to fantasy owners, as he tallied just three catches for 18 yards. He played just 25-of-67 snaps, which is something we talked about last week. It’s always rough trusting someone off a soft tissue injury, especially when he comes back before expected. He clearly dropped one ball in that game and seemed to drop another late, though it seemed Johnathan Joseph did get a hand in there. But he left the game healthy as far as we know, which gives us confidence starting him this week. The Titans don’t have anyone shadowing, but Hilton will see Adoree Jackson more than anyone else. He’s done a fine job this year keeping the play in front of him, as his 9.9 yards per reception indicates. He has speed to keep up down the field, too. But the Titans have allowed 14 receivers finish as top-36 options, so it’s far from a daunting matchup. With no Ebron, there are more targets to go around, which should raise Hilton’s floor. He’s still yet to top 87 yards this season, and with Brissett struggling to throw touchdowns as of late, Hilton is more of a low-end WR2/high-end WR3 than the high-end WR2 he was earlier in the season. *Update* Hilton suffered a setback in practice this week and has been ruled OUT for this game. If you’re looking for a replacement, Zach Pascal is the one who’ll see the most targets among the receivers. Parris Campbell is also in the mix, who is listed as questionable.
Delanie Walker or Jonnu Smith: The Titans were not having their tight ends run a whole lot of routes against the Jaguars last week, as Smith tallied just 14 routes on the day. He did play 94 percent of the snaps, however. Walker did practice a little bit last week, though even if he returned this week, it will have been a six-week absence. Best case scenario is that Walker remains out so we can contemplate Smith, as there’s no way you can trust Walker in his first game back. The Colts aren’t a matchup to run from with tight ends, as they’ve allowed nine different tight ends to finish as top-18 options against them, including five of them in the top-12. The only issue is that it’s been a volume-based matchup because the 6.65 yards per target they’ve allowed ranks as the fourth-lowest mark in football. It seems they’re willing to allow a lot of the underneath stuff, as evidenced by the 69.5 percent completion-rate, but ultimately keep the play in front of them. They’ve also had one of the toughest schedules against tight ends, as Austin Hooper, Darren Waller, Travis Kelce, and Hunter Henry have been on the list of opponents. If Walker is out, Smith deserves middling TE2 consideration. If Walker plays, it’s impossible to trust any of them. *Update* Walker was placed on injured reserve, ending his season.
Jack Doyle: We learned earlier this week that Eric Ebron would be out the remainder of the season, which would seem to open a door for Doyle. Well, Doyle had already been playing quite a bit. He’s played 60-77 percent of the snaps all year, as he’s more of the in-line tight end while Ebron was used as more of a receiver. Just 46.4 percent of his snaps have been used to run routes. Do they move Doyle into the move tight end role now and slot Mo Alie-Cox in as the in-line tight end? It’d make sense as Alie-Cox has run routes on just 22.0 percent of his snaps. The Titans have allowed eight different tight ends to finish as top-15 options against them this year, though touchdowns are a bit part of that, as five of them required touchdowns to get there. There have been just three tight ends who’ve topped 40 yards against them, and they were Austin Hooper, Travis Kelce, and Hunter Henry. That leaves Doyle in what seems to be a touchdown-dependent spot, though targets should be relatively easy to come by. The Colts are lacking receivers and just lost Ebron who accounted for nearly five targets per game. Doyle should have a 5-6 target floor, making him a playable low-end TE1, though it is a tough matchup.
New York Jets at Cincinnati Bengals
Line: NYJ by 3.5
Sam Darnold: He’s now posted 21-plus fantasy points in three straight games. So what if they’ve been against the Giants, Redskins, and Raiders. He now gets to play against the Bengals. He’s thrown just 30, 30, and 29 passes in those games, so it’s not even volume that’s gotten it done. That’s good because quarterbacks average just 28.6 pass attempts per game against them, which is the lowest in football. Despite no quarterback throwing the ball more than 36 times, they’ve allowed 10-of-11 quarterbacks to finish with 16.3 or more fantasy points. The only exception? Mason Rudolph last week. With the Bengals unable to score points, it’s the primary thing that can hurt Darnold, as the Jets already average just 57.8 plays per game (2nd-lowest mark in NFL). If they go run-heavy, he could finish with just 25 pass attempts. That’s the reason the Bengals have allowed just the 13th-most fantasy points through the air to quarterbacks, as no one puts together a massive performance, unless they’re a mobile quarterback (they’ve allowed five quarterbacks to rush for 46-plus yards). Still, this is a defense that’s allowed 10 quarterbacks finish as top-16 options with all these factors, so why shouldn’t we expect the red-hot Darnold to do it, too? He should be considered a high-floor, high-end QB2.
Andy Dalton: Did you know Ryan Finley finished with more fantasy points than Russell Wilson last week? Sometimes fantasy football can be the worst. Still, it’s not like it was a good performance out of Finley, as he totaled just 207 yards, one touchdown, and three interceptions. Fortunately, Zac Taylor has decided to go back to Dalton. The Jets defense had allowed 12 passing touchdowns to the combination of Gardner Minshew, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Daniel Jones, and Dwayne Haskins prior to completely shutting down the Raiders pass attack last week which ultimately got Derek Carr benched. As bad as the Jets have been, they’ve only allowed three quarterbacks to finish better than the QB12, but Carr was the first quarterback to finish outside the top-20 against them. Carr and the Raiders had traveled across the country, which could’ve contributed to it. The Bengals pass-play percentage is 66.6 percent, which ranks as the third-highest percentage in the league, which bodes well against a team whose opponents average 65.7 plays per game. On a level playing field, that would amount to 43.8 pass attempts. Dalton should have some extra motivation and focus in this game, and it’s much easier to move the ball through the air than on the ground against the Jets. He should be considered a middling QB2 with a decent floor and some upside.
Le’Veon Bell: So, it appears the limited snaps for Bell is a real thing after all. After playing at least 83 percent of the snaps over the first eight games, he’s watched his snap percentage go down into the 55-57 percent range over the last two weeks. The good news is that he’s still netted 37 touches in the two games, which is what matters to us fantasy owners. The Bengals have faced a massive 30.2 running back touches per game this year, allowing for even the ugliest timeshares to find production. It’s not just volume, either. Efficiency is also extremely high against them, as they’ve allowed a massive 4.73 yards per carry (5th-highest) and 7.68 yards per target (2nd-highest). We’ve watched 13 different running backs finish as top-20 options against them, even though there’s been just 11 games this year. Seven of them have netted top-12 numbers. There have been nine running backs who’ve totaled 16-plus touches against them, and eight of them were able to finish with 15-plus PPR points. The only one who didn’t was Benny Snell, who finished with 103 total yards on 22 touches. Bell should be in lineups as a rock-solid RB1 who might have his best game of the season.
Joe Mixon: The offensive line continues to be a massive problem, and it’s to the point where it’s just comical now. Starting guard Alex Redmond was injured in pre-game warmups last week and had to be ruled out (he’s now out for the year). Left tackle Cordy Glenn finally returned to the lineup, though he didn’t play a very good game. Mixon had been a focal point of the offense with Finley under center, as he’s racked up 63 carries in three games, so you must wonder if that continues with Dalton. He’s turned those carries into 279 yards and a touchdown, but again, the lack of production in the passing game crushes all hope. He’s caught just three passes in the last three games. Seriously, someone needs to tell Zac Taylor that Mixon’s not LeGarrette Blount. The Jets have been a brutal matchup for running backs who aren’t involved in the passing game, as they’ve allowed just one running back more than 76 yards on the ground this year, and that was Ezekiel Elliott who carried the ball 28 times. There have been four running backs who’ve totaled double-digit carries against the Jets and still finished with 8.1 PPR points or less, including Saquon Barkley a few weeks ago. They’re allowing a league-low 3.01 yards per carry on the year, which has led to just 64.6 rushing yards per game to opponents. If Mixon can’t get much yardage, he needs touchdowns. If he can’t get touchdowns in this offense (one rushing touchdown all year), he needs receiving. He has received much more targets with Dalton than he did with Finley, so that’ll help. Mixon should be looked at as a high-end RB3 who’s in a tough spot this week.
Jamison Crowder: Just when you started to trust Crowder as a high-end WR3, he goes and finishes with just two catches for 18 yards against the Raiders. It’s just one week, but this is likely to happen when Darnold is throwing just 29 times a game. It could be an issue again in Week 13 because as crazy as it sounds, the Bengals have allowed just seven receivers to finish with more than four receptions. The Bengals have allowed a league-high 10.41 yards per target to wide receivers but have allowed just the 10th fewest points per game to them. Why is that? It’s because receivers are averaging just 15.5 targets per game, which is the lowest number in the NFL. Over the last eight games with Demaryius Thomas on the roster, the targets have gone Crowder 49, Thomas 47, and Anderson 40. If that holds true, we’d be looking at 5-6 targets for Crowder. He should offer a stable floor in this game as a high-end WR4, but he lacks upside in this game.
Demaryius Thomas: He’s now finished with 44 yards or less in three of the last four games. He’s also seen a dip in targets, while Anderson saw an increase in Week 12. As someone who’s 32 years old, his body is naturally going to deteriorate as the season goes on. There are other receivers who have less competition for targets available on the waiver wire, as Thomas still hasn’t scored, and he doesn’t offer one-play potential. Knowing the Bengals have allowed just seven receivers finish with more than four receptions, it’s unlikely Thomas offers a ceiling worth his floor. He’s just a mediocre WR5.
Robby Anderson: As stated in the Crowder paragraph, the target split among the Jets receivers since Thomas joined the team is Crowder 49, Thomas 47, and Anderson 40. That’s a problem for Anderson this week, as the Bengals have faced an average of just 15.5 receiver targets per game. Week 12 was the first time since back in Week 8 where he had more than four targets or two receptions, so we don’t want to automatically assume that Anderson is back on the fantasy radar. He’s going to be matched with William Jackson for most of the game, the Bengals best cornerback on the roster. He’s struggled more than he typically does due to the lack of talent around him, but he’s still allowed just one touchdown on 39 targets in coverage. He also hasn’t allowed a pass to go for more than 27 yards since back in Week 2. Anderson is still nothing more than a boom-or-bust WR4/5-type option.
Tyler Boyd: He complained after he saw just three targets in their Week 11 matchup and it obviously helped considering he saw a team-high nine targets against the Steelers that he turned into 5/101/1. It was all on him too, as Finley simply threw the ball up to him in one-on-one situations, hoping he’d win those battles. The Jets have allowed the sixth-most fantasy points to wide receivers this year, but the downside is that much of that production has gone to perimeter-based receivers. Boyd runs almost 70 percent of his routes in the slot, which means he’ll see Brian Poole most of the day. Poole has allowed just 29-of-43 passing for 223 yards and one touchdown on slot targets this year, which amounts to a miniscule 5.19 yards per target. Still, the Jets have allowed seven wide receivers to finish as top-10 options against them, and another 11 receivers to finish as top-36 options. That should present some sort of floor for Boyd, though he does have the toughest matchup on the field. He should be considered a mid-to-high-end WR3 with a decent floor.
Auden Tate: It was surprising to see him play last week after dealing with what seemed to be a bad neck injury in Week 11. He played his normal number of snaps, too. He only saw three targets, though that was the first time since joining the starting lineup where he saw less than six targets. It may have been due to missed practice time, so we should pay attention to his participation this week. The Jets are a great matchup for perimeter receivers, as they’ve allowed 18 receivers to finish as top-36 options against them, with 15 of them being primarily perimeter receivers. The Jets are trotting Bless Austin and Arthur Maulet out at cornerback with Trumaine Johnson on injured reserve and Darryl Roberts on the shelf, which sounds bad, but it has worked out well the last two weeks against Dwayne Haskins and Derek Carr, as no receiver finished with more than 10.3 PPR points. Because of that, it’s tough to trust Tate, though the return of Dalton certainly helps. Knowing what his target floor had been and that he has finished with at least 9.0 PPR points in every start with Dalton, he remains in the WR4 conversation.
Ryan Griffin: Despite having just seven targets over the first four games with 17 scoreless yards, Griffin has turned on the jets and caught 23-of-26 targets for 265 yards and five touchdowns. The issue with expecting his production to keep up is the fact that he’s seen more than four targets just twice all season. The Bengals have allowed a league-high 9.61 yards per target this year, though the issue is that tight ends have been targeted just 5.6 times per game against them. There’s been just three tight ends who’ve seen more than four targets against them this year, and those were guys who continually see large target shares (Mark Andrews twice, Darren Waller). Griffin should be efficient with the targets he gets, but it could be a 2-4 target game that could leave him with a lower floor than most in the high-end TE2 conversation.
Tyler Eifert: We’re now entering Week 13 and Eifert has had just one game where he’s totaled more than 27 yards. He totaled just nine targets over the three starts with Finley, which is not nearly enough for him to be considered, even if he had a good quarterback throwing him the ball. The Jets are also not a team to target with tight ends, as they’ve allowed the fourth-fewest points per game to the position. They’ve allowed three top-12 producers against them this year, and each of those tight ends saw a minimum of six targets, a number Eifert hit just once all year. If you’re thinking of streaming Eifert, you clearly embrace the bad.
Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers
Line: CLE by 1.0
Baker Mayfield: The addition of Kareem Hunt to the offense has made a world of difference to Mayfield, as he’s thrown seven touchdowns over the last three games, which comes after he threw seven touchdowns over the first eight games. In fact, his emergence goes back to Week 6, as he’s tallied at least 17.1 fantasy points in five of the last six games. Heading into Pittsburgh is going to be no joke, though. This is obviously a rematch of the game that took place in Week 11 where Mayfield completed 17-of-32 passes for 193 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed for a touchdown, propping him up to the QB9 on the week. That was the first time since way back in Week 2 that the Steelers allowed a quarterback to finish better than the QB16 on the week. Still, seven of the last nine quarterbacks have finished with less than 245 yards passing against them. Mayfield has struggled under pressure this year, as his 61.6 QB Rating in those situations would indicate. The Steelers have pressured the opposing quarterback an average of 42.6 percent of the time, which is the best mark in the league. That’s the most concerning part for Mayfield, though his weaponry has proven to be very helpful. This is the last brutal matchup on his schedule, so don’t drop him, but lower expectations into middling QB2 territory for this game.
Devlin Hodges: Some will come forward and anoint Hodges as someone who’s clearly better than Mason Rudolph because Hodges came into the game and immediately threw a touchdown, but if you were to watch that play, you’d see it wasn’t really that great of a pass, but more horrendous defense with Washington a lot of work after the catch. It was also against the Bengals, so the competition couldn’t have been worse. The Browns are certainly not a tough matchup without Myles Garrett on the edge, though they’re more middle-of-the-pack than anything. There are just two quarterbacks who’ve failed to net at least two touchdowns (either passing or rushing) against them, with one being Rudolph two weeks ago, and the other being Luke Falk. We can’t forget that Hodges already started a game back in Week 6 where he wasn’t trusted all that much, as he threw just 20 passes for 132 yards, one touchdown, and one interception against the Chargers. That was a brutal matchup on primetime, so this matchup should net better results. Still, no quarterback has thrown for 300 yards against them, while 10-of-11 have been held to less than 270 yards. Relying on touchdowns from Hodges is not something you should aim to do in Week 13. There are better streaming options available.
Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt: We now have a three-game sample size with this backfield, which is enough to understand each running back’s role. Chubb has totaled 68 carries to Hunt’s 18, which is essentially an 80/20 split on carries. It’s been Hunt who’s received 20 targets though, while Chubb has just nine. So, in the end, Hunt’s role will have a lot more value in shootouts or in matchups against teams who stuff the run. The last time these two teams met, Chubb tallied 92 yards on 27 carries but finished with fewer PPR points than Hunt, who netted just 12 touches, though six of them were receptions. The Steelers are one of the best in the NFL at stopping the run, as they’ve yet to allow a 100-yard rusher all year long. In fact, the only running backs who totaled 80 yards on the ground were Chubb and Marlon Mack, who both totaled 21-plus carries. Here’s a crazy stat: The Steelers have not allowed a top-16 running back against them all season. No running back has been able to amass more than 13.8 PPR points against them, which includes games against Chubb, Mack, Chris Carson, Mark Ingram, Melvin Gordon, Todd Gurley, and Joe Mixon. You’d have to go all the way back to Week 3 to find the last time they allowed more than 104 rushing yards in a game. You’re starting Chubb but lowering expectations into high-end RB2 territory. Hunt isn’t even a great play, either, as the Steelers have allowed just 1.20 PPR points per target to running backs, which ranks as the second-lowest mark in the league. They are one of five teams remaining who’ve still yet to allow a receiving touchdown to a running back. Hunt should be considered a high-end RB4 who does have a stable floor in PPR formats.
Benny Snell and Jaylen Samuels: I mentioned here last week that Samuels was at risk of losing his early-down work with how poorly he’s played this year, but there was no way I saw him falling down to the third or fourth option on the depth chart. The carries in Week 12 went Snell 21, Kerrith Whyte 6, Trey Edmunds 2, Samuels 2. It’s definitely worth noting that Samuels saw three of the four running back targets, but that makes him something like a Nyheim Hines to the Steelers offense. The Browns have allowed a rather-high 4.64 yards per carry on the year but have faced just 20.5 running back carries per game, as teams have just not run many plays against them. When you have a messy timeshare like this, it’s impossible to fully trust anyone. For whatever reason, the Browns have not faced a running back who’s totaled 10 carries since back in Week 8. Each of the last four teams they’ve played have run the ball exactly 14 times with their running backs. Knowing that Snell isn’t involved in the passing game, it decreases his appeal in a big way, as he can get gamescripted out. He’s someone who belongs in the RB3 conversation as he likely needs to score in order to finish better than RB4 territory. But given his workload last week, we should be able to rely on at least a dozen touches. Samuels has still been targeted 41 times over the last six games, which has value, and he did score a touchdown in the last meeting with these two teams, though his 45 total yards is nothing to get excited about. Samuels should be in the high-end RB4 territory who has a role regardless of gamescript. *Update* As expected, James Conner is listed as doubtful.
Odell Beckham: It was a solid game for Beckham last week, but a disappointment when you think about the fact that Landry outproduced him yet again. Beckham has seen at least six targets in every game and has seen at least eight targets in 7-of-11 games, so volume isn’t the issue. The matchup with the Steelers two weeks ago netted him just four catches for 60 yards, though he was inches away from a touchdown. The Steelers didn’t shadow him, but rather played sides with Joe Haden and Steven Nelson the duo that’s done a great job in coverage this year. Tyler Boyd was the first receiver to record 100 yards against them this year, though that required him to win a few jump ball scenarios. There have been just eight receivers who’ve totaled more than four receptions against them this year, and that’s despite 16 receivers seeing six-plus targets. There have been just three receivers all year who’ve finished top-12 against them, so it’s not a week to expect a Beckham explosion. He’s totaled at least 52 yards in each of the last six games, so he’s seemingly in John Brown safety territory, but outside of WR1 territory. Consider him a WR2 this week who’s apparently battling with Landry to be the top fantasy receiver on the team.
Jarvis Landry: We’re now 11 games into the 2019 fantasy season and Landry has been the best Browns receiver. Here are the numbers side-by-side:
The crazy part of all this is that Landry was extremely inefficient as Mayfield’s receiver in 2018, as he finished with just 976 yards and four touchdowns on 149 targets. Maybe it just takes some time? Whatever the case, Landry is an every-week starter who’s seen at least seven targets in each of the last five games, including 10-plus targets in four of them. Unfortunately, his worst game of the bunch was against the Steelers, as he finished with just four catches for 43 yards, though his fantasy performance was salvaged with a touchdown. The Steelers have been tough against slot receivers ever since acquiring Minkah Fitzpatrick, and though there was a hiccup to Tyler Boyd last week, that was not a performance that would be repeatable by Landry, as Boyd won on jump-ball-type situations. Since the start of Week 3, the Steelers have allowed just 48-of-77 passing for 492 yards and three touchdowns in the slot. Those are not great marks, but you can’t bet against Landry right now, who’s as hot as they come, finishing as a top-36 receiver in seven of his last eight games. He’s a low-end WR2 this week, but it’s a tough matchup.
JuJu Smith-Schuster: It’s tough to say what to expect with Smith-Schuster, who has not only been trying to get cleared from his concussion, but also rehabbing from a knee injury he suffered on the same play. Even if he does play, are you able to trust him? The one game Hodges started earlier this year netted just four targets for Smith-Schuster that amounted to just one catch for seven yards, his worst game of his NFL career. It hasn’t even mattered who’s started for the Steelers, though, as he’s now been outside the top 45 wide receivers in five of his last seven games. To give you an idea as to how bad it’s been, here’s a few receivers who have more fantasy points than him in 2019: Darius Slayton, A.J. Brown, and Deebo Samuel. The Browns have allowed two massive games to slot-heavy receviers, as both Cooper Kupp and Julian Edelman both finished as top-five receivers against them. It’s worth noting they both saw 11-plus targets, something Smith-Schuster hasn’t sniffed this year. Even if he plays, it’s tough to count on him as anything more than a WR4, though he does have the best matchup among Steelers receivers. *Update* He’s been ruled out for this game. He’s cleared the concussion protocol, but his knee injury is what will keep him out.
Diontae Johnson: Like Smith-Schuster, Johnson is feeling the wrath of the Steelers quarterbacks. He has now finished with less than 30 yards in five of the last seven games. Johnson also doesn’t play in the slot, which will hurt him against the Browns as their perimeter cornerbacks are Denzel Ward and Greedy Williams, the strength of their secondary. The duo has combined to allow just 35-of-75 passing (46.7 percent) for 458 yards and two touchdowns in their coverage. He has more floor appeal if Smith-Schuster sits (he’s since been ruled out), but Johnson is nothing more than a WR5 this week.
James Washington: For those simply looking at the yardage and end results of Washington over the last month, he appears to be a good play. He’s totaled at least 49 yards in each game and has totaled 90-plus yards with a touchdown in two of them. We’ve learned the valuable lesson with both Diontae Johnson and JuJu Smith-Schuster that you cannot continue to rely on big plays for production in this offense. When they go away, so does their fantasy floor. Washington has a play of 22-plus yards in each of his last four games, including two of 40-plus yards. Meanwhile, Denzel Ward hasn’t allowed a reception of more than 22 yards in his coverage since back in Week 2, and Greedy Williams has allowed just one play over 21 yards in his coverage all season. Those are the matchups Washington will have this week, as he runs just 15-20 percent of his routes from the slot. He’s not someone you should be relying on this week as anything more than a big-play hopeful WR5.
David Njoku: It seems like the Browns wanted his conditioning to get up to speed before activating him to the roster, but it should be expected that he rejoins the team this week. It’s still rough to rely on a player who’s been out since Week 2, especially now that they have so many targets accounted for. The Steelers have been extremely hit-or-miss, allowing six tight ends to finish as the TE13 or better, but then the other five to finish as the TE33 or worse. Targets have dictated much of the success, as the only tight end to see four-plus targets and not finish as a top-13 option was Tyler Eifert, who… is Tyler Eifert. The Steelers have allowed just 12 touchdowns to wide receivers this year on 209 targets but have allowed six touchdowns to tight ends on just 77 targets. That’s one every 12.8 targets, the fifth-most often in the league. We know better than to count on touchdowns, though, right? Let’s give Njoku a week to ensure they have him back in full-time role before starting him.
Vance McDonald: With Smith-Schuster out of the lineup in a matchup against the Bengals, who’ve allowed the most yards per target to tight ends, McDonald finished with one target, one catch, and one yard. He’s still yet to top 40 yards this season and has caught more than three passes just twice. The Browns have allowed 12.49 yards per reception to tight ends and have allowed a touchdown every 10.8 targets (3rd most often), so they’re hardly a bad matchup, though McDonald finished with just three catches for 33 yards on seven targets in their first meeting. He was the only tight end who finished outside the top-16 tight ends while seeing more than three targets against them. In the two games where Hodges played the whole/majority of the game, McDonald has totaled two catches for six yards in those two games. He’s been bad enough where it’s impossible to trust, even in a great matchup.
Washington Redskins at Carolina Panthers
Line: CAR by 10.0
Dwayne Haskins: We’re now three full games into the Haskins experiment and it’s fair to say it hasn’t gone well. He’s completed just 54.6 percent of his passes and we’ve watched his yards per attempt decline in each of the last four weeks, all the way down to just 5.4 in Week 12 against the Lions. That’s led his team to be projected for just 15.3 points in this game. The Panthers are coming off the first game this year where he they’ve allowed more than two passing touchdowns, as they’ve been simply buried by the run to the point where teams don’t need to throw in the red zone. They’re generating a sack on 9.3 percent of dropbacks, which ranks second to only the 49ers. They lost an important member of their defense last week, though, as defensive tackle Dontari Poe tore his quad and is done for the season. Still, they’re likely going to bring pressure to Haskins, who has a 20.0 QB Rating under pressure. How bad is this? If you throw the ball into the ground, you have a 39.6 QB Rating. You’re not starting Haskins.
Kyle Allen: Just one week removed from a game where he threw four interceptions and no touchdowns, Allen went out and threw three touchdowns with zero interceptions against a strong Saints defense. They were without Marshon Lattimore, but it was still a good performance for him to regain some confidence moving forward. The Redskins have allowed a massive 70.6 percent completion-rate (2nd-highest) and a 5.76 percent touchdown-rate (5th-highest) to opposing quarterbacks, but they’ve faced just 31.5 pass attempts per game due to their lack of offensive firepower. If the Panthers don’t have to have Allen drop back to pass more than 30-34 times, they won’t. He’s someone who doesn’t offer anything on the ground, so you need him to throw for 300-plus yards or three-plus touchdowns in order to get into the high-end streaming conversation, but it’s just tough projecting him for enough attempts to get there this week, as we’ve seen just two quarterbacks total more than 31 pass attempts against the Redskins. He’s just a mid-to-low-end QB2.
Derrius Guice and Adrian Peterson: It appears these two are going to cancel out each other’s upside. Over the last two weeks, we’ve seen Peterson get 19 carries and three targets while Guice has received 17 carries and four targets. The snap count is even uglier, as Guice played 24 snaps, Peterson 20 snaps, and Wendell Smallwood 16 snaps. That’s in a game they won. They’re now double-digit underdogs and we might even get Chris Thompson back in the lineup this week. It’s an ugly situation, and that’s too bad considering how good of a matchup this is. The Panthers have allowed the fourth-most fantasy points per game to running backs, thanks large in-part to do with the 19 running back touchdowns they’ve allowed. On the year, they’ve allowed a rushing touchdown once every 14.9 carries while no other team has allowed one more than every 19.3 carries. The Panthers also just lost interior lineman Dontari Poe to a quad injury, which certainly won’t help. This matchup certainly favors the early-down backs, as they Panthers have allowed just 27.0 receiving yards per game to running backs. The upsetting part is that we don’t know which running back will get the goal-line carries, as the Redskins have totaled just one touch inside the 10-yard-line over the last two weeks. They’re both low-end RB3 options who are likely to wind-up right next to each other in the rankings, though Guice would be the preferred option as a better receiver. *Update* It appears Thompson will play this week, which cloudies an already ugly situation.
Christian McCaffrey: Whenever in doubt, McCaffrey RB1 no matter what. Even in a brutal matchup with the Saints, he finished with 133 total yards and two touchdowns. He was the first running back who finished top-10 against them all season. There’s been just one game all season McCaffrey hasn’t scored at least 21.7 PPR points. Now onto a matchup with the Redskins, who have faced a league-high 33.0 touches per game by running backs. McCaffrey has totaled 289 of the 315 touches among Panthers running backs, so he could very well see 30 touches in this game. The touches against the Redskins haven’t been outrageously efficient, as the 0.76 PPR points per opportunity ranks as the ninth-fewest in the league, but the Saints were a team that was top-10 before McCaffrey got ahold of them. Knowing the Redskins have allowed five running backs to finish as the RB9 or better tells you everything you need to know. Play McCaffrey everywhere humanly possible.
Terry McLaurin: The good news is that he saw a team-high 12 targets versus the Lions despite being mixed up with Darius Slay most of the game. That accounted for 41.4 percent of Haskins’ attempts. It was actually the first time all year McLaurin reached double-digit targets. The Panthers are one of the most zone-heavy teams in the league, which hasn’t been the best thing for McLaurin, as he’s someone who’s been much better versus man coverage. On the year, quarterbacks have an 84.1 QB Rating when targeting him in zone, but a near perfect quarterback rating of 140-plus against man. He’ll see a good mix of James Bradberry and Donte Jackson in coverage, a duo that’s combined to allow just a 59 percent completion-rate, 13.2 yards per reception, and four touchdowns on 104 targets in coverage. The Panthers have allowed 15 receivers to finish as top-36 options, so it’s not all bad, though they can really be beaten in the slot, where McLaurin runs just 23 percent of his routes. Of the 14 wide receivers who finished inside the top-30 against the Panthers, 13 of them had seven-plus targets, so he’s going to need the high volume to continue. Consider him a mid-to-low-end WR3 who comes with some risk.
D.J. Moore: It’s now been seven straight games where Moore has seen at least eight targets, and the touchdowns finally caught up with the yardage. He now sits as the No. 11 wide receiver on the year. The Redskins chose to bench Josh Norman last week and it made sense after his on-field performance, both in-coverage and on special teams. That left the starting cornerback duo to Quinton Dunbar and Fabian Moreau. The better of the two is definitely Dunbar, and unfortunately, that’s who Moore will see in coverage about 60 percent of the time. Dunbar has allowed just a 54.5 percent completion-rate in his coverage with just one touchdown while intercepting four passes. That’s obviously not great for Moore but he’ll have a plus-matchup whenever he’s out of Dunbar’s coverage. The Redskins as a whole have allowed a 71.8 percent completion-rate to receivers, which is the highest mark in the NFL, while the 2.03 PPR points per target ranks as the fourth highest. The issue has been volume, as receivers have averaged just 16.5 targets per game against them. The Panthers unit is very top-heavy, so it shouldn’t be too much of an issue. Moore should be slotting in as a solid WR2 almost every week and this one is no different.
Curtis Samuel: The four targets that Samuel saw in Week 12 was his lowest total since way back in Week 1, as he’d totaled at least six targets in every Allen start this year. They did give him four carries, which did turn out to be beneficial, as he totaled 40 yards on them, which is more than he’s had receiving in each of the last three games. Despite his long touchdown pass to D.J. Moore last week (that was underthrown by a ton), Allen has posted a 42.9 QB Rating on balls that travel 20-plus yards in the air. That’s the worst mark in the NFL and it’s clearly hurting Samuel’s efficiency, as he has the deepest average depth of target on the team. With Moore in Quinton Dunbar‘s coverage for the most of this game, Samuel could have a breakout game. The combination of Fabian Moreau and Jimmy Moreland have combined to allow 51-of-62 passing for 588 yards and two touchdowns in their coverage. The Panthers may not throw the ball a whole lot in this game, but Samuel clearly has the best matchup on the field, but can Allen take advantage? Consider him a low-end WR3 with some upside if they can connect on a deep ball.
Jeremy Sprinkle: On the year, the Redskins tight ends unit as a whole have combined for just 48 targets, 29 receptions, 296 yards, and two touchdowns. That amounts to just 6.4 PPR points per game as a unit. That would rank as the No. 1 defense against tight ends, so they’re worse than the worst matchup can be. You’re not playing a Redskins tight end.
Greg Olsen: He’s become much more of a focal point in the offense over the last six weeks, totaling at least five targets and 40-plus yards in five of the games, with the only exception coming against the 49ers, who are the best defense in the league when it comes to defending the tight end position. The Redskins have struggled defending both slot receivers and tight ends over the middle of the field, as we’ve watched eight tight ends finish with 8.0-plus PPR points against them, including a 21.9-point performance to Ryan Griffin just two weeks ago. Every vital sign for tight ends against the Redskins is slightly above average. It’s not a smash spot like the Cardinals or anything, but it’s also not one to be concerned about, either. Tight ends have seen 21.9 percent of the targets against the Redskins, which is a high number. Knowing his target floor is stable, Olsen should consistently be in fantasy lineups as a mid-to-low-end TE1.