The Primer: Week 10 Edition (2020 Fantasy Football)
I’m a better person because of my wife, plain and simple. There are a lot of reasons why I love her, but that one stands out the most. I’m far from perfect, but I know I’m a much better version of myself because of her, and I continue to strive to be better than I’ve been in the past.
There are many life lessons I’ve taken from her, which makes it difficult to narrow it down to one or two things, but if I had to, here’s the best way to sum it up: How people treat you tells you who they are. How you respond tells you who you are.
During a time of such turmoil, I think it’s a good time to bring this up. There have surely been things in the past that somebody did that made you upset. Maybe it’s a family member. Maybe it’s someone in politics. Maybe it’s your neighbor. Maybe it’s someone on social media you’ve never met. It’s not fun being upset, I get that, but how you respond to those people says a lot more about you, and that’s something you can control.
Sadly, I come across this quite often in my job. I understand it comes with the territory; I really do. But I want you to stop and imagine for a second that you’re having a great Thursday night with your family. You’ve eaten dinner, helped your daughter with her homework, helped your son build a car out of Legos, and planned your upcoming trip with your wife. Then, you decide to log onto Twitter to see what’s going on in the world of sports, and negativity creeps into your world.
“You get paid to do this for a living? lol”
“You’re a nerd. Numbers don’t tell the whole story in football.”
“LOL. I can’t believe I listened to you and started Player X.”
These are just a few examples of the PG-13 messages I’ll see when I make a bad call. Again, I get it. There are many who rely on my analysis when it comes to who they’re starting on a weekly basis, and believe me, the last thing I want to do is let them down.
There are times where I’ll want to snap back at those people, but I try to quickly remind myself that they’ve told me who they are. Who do I want to be? Sometimes, it’s one of the hardest things to do in the moment, especially if you’ve had a rough day. Instead, I’ve started muting those people. That’s the step I’ve taken to be a better person and not expose myself to negativity that can lead me to be someone I don’t want to be.
If we want to change the world and make it a better place for everyone, it all starts with you and what you can control. It doesn’t start with negative responses to negative comments. It doesn’t start with victory laps when made to put other people down and make you feel superior. It doesn’t start by saying two wrongs make a right. We have to start treating each other with more respect. Remember, you cannot control what other people say, but you can control how you respond. At the end of the day, who do you want to be? As my friend Sigmund Bloom has told me, “This story of life has already been told. The book has already been written. It’s up to you to choose which character you want to be in that story.”
So, what does The Primer offer? Anything you could ever want. Seriously, it’ll have wide receiver/cornerback matchups, recent history against each team, comparable player performances, unique stats, and most importantly, how they should be played that particular week. The idea here is to give you as much information and confidence as possible when you hit that ‘Submit Lineup’ button each week.
On top of all that, I’ll come back by Saturday morning to update once practice participation reports are posted. Still want more? We’ll be doing a livestream on our YouTube channel every Sunday morning from 11-12 EST, breaking down the inactives and letting you know which players benefit the most from them.
Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants
Spread: Eagles -3.5
Eagles vs. Giants Betting Matchup
Carson Wentz: Our worst fears were realized with Wentz in Week 8 when he didn’t finish with anything on the ground, and he had an off day throwing the ball, which has become a regular occurrence. It surely doesn’t help that Wentz has been sacked on 9.1 percent of his dropbacks, which leads the NFL, though part of that’s on him holding the ball too long. He’s completed 58 or less percent of his passes in 5-of-8 games this year, which is extremely problematic when 40-plus attempts aren’t there. He had his second-biggest game of the year against the Giants in Week 7 when he threw for 359 yards and two touchdowns, while rushing for another. Surprise, surprise, he threw the ball 43 times in that game. The Giants have allowed a league-low 1.79 yards per carry to quarterbacks, so relying on rushing production may not be wise for Wentz in this one. The good news is that his team is getting healthy, as he’ll have Travis Fulgham, Jalen Reagor, Alshon Jeffery, Dallas Goedert, and Miles Sanders all back in the lineup for this week’s game. The Giants have allowed a 69.4 percent completion-rate and 7.85 yards per attempt, which are both above the league average, so when you factor in their 63.7 percent pass-rate (third-highest in NFL), we should expect a stable floor for Wentz. There have been four quarterbacks who’ve thrown the ball more than 32 times against the Giants, and each of them finished with at least 17.7 fantasy points and a top-16 quarterback, again highlighting a floor for Wentz who’s hit 35-plus pass attempts in 6-of-8 games. He should be considered a low-end QB1 who could flash a ceiling if the Giants put points on the board.
Daniel Jones: After going four straight games without a touchdown pass in Weeks 2-5, Jones has thrown six touchdowns over his last four games and has also chipped in with 190 rushing yards. He’s clearly not the breakout candidate like some thought he’d be, but he’s at least starting to offer some sort of floor for fantasy streamers. It won’t help knowing the Eagles have sacked the opposing quarterback on 9.2 percent of dropbacks, which ranks as the third-highest mark in the league, something that does not bode well for Jones’ health in this game, as he’s been sacked 28 times through eight games. The Eagles have been a better pass defense than most realize, allowing the fifth-fewest yards per attempt (6.79) this year. Because of that, they’ve allowed just one quarterback to throw for more than 267 yards against them. In fact, they’ve held 5-of-8 starting quarterbacks to 200 or less passing yards, including Jones himself when he threw for 187 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception in their first meeting. There can be some rushing production against them, though. Thanks large in part to Jones’ long run where he fell short of the end zone, the Eagles have allowed a league-leading 7.11 yards per carry to quarterbacks. It’s tough to love Jones as a streamer this week considering the lack of yardage the Eagles have allowed combined with Jones’ inefficiency, but when you factor in his recent surge in rushing production, he remains in the mid-to-low-end QB2 conversation.
Miles Sanders and Boston Scott: We should be expecting Sanders to return for this game, as he’s now had almost a full month to heal up his knee injury. When on the field, Sanders has made a difference, rushing for 80-plus yards in 4-of-5 games despite a very tough schedule. Part of the reason he’s been able to be so efficient is due to the offensive scheme the Eagles are running, as he’s seen eight-plus men in the box just 4.2 percent of the time, which ranks as the second-lowest number in the NFL. The Giants matchup isn’t as friendly as most thought, as there have been just three running backs who’ve totaled more than 52 yards on the ground against them. The good news for Sanders is that he runs a lot of pass routes (ranks fifth in among running backs in routes despite playing just five games), and the Giants opponents have targeted running backs 24.1 percent of the time, which is the second-highest number in the league. That’s led to a league-high 78 targets and 503 yards through the air to running backs. Even if you removed all the production on the ground, the Giants are allowing 14.1 PPR points per game through the air to running backs. No team in the NFL has faced more weighted opportunity against the running back position than the Giants, so we should see plenty of opportunity for Sanders in his first game back. There have been 12 running backs who’ve finished top-28 against the Giants, highlighting a stable floor. The Eagles could decide to share some of the workload with Scott, which is the only thing that keeps Sanders in high-end RB2 territory, but he’s a start. Even if they do give Scott some touches, it’s tough to say it’d be more than 6-10 of them, so he’s stuck in the RB4 territory.
Wayne Gallman and
Devonta Freeman: With the way Gallman has played, you have to think the Giants give him a chance to retain the starting job, even if Freeman returns to the lineup. He’s had some brutal matchups against the Eagles, Bucs, and Washington, yet he’s scored a rushing touchdown in three straight games. The biggest concern is that Freeman comes back and turns it into a 50/50 timeshare where we can’t trust either of them as a fantasy starter. Of the fantasy production by running backs, wide receivers, and tight ends against the Eagles, just 27.5 percent of it has come via the running back position, which ranks as the fifth-lowest number in the league. This is a bad matchup for running backs, as evidenced by the lack of fantasy-relevant performances to running backs. Through eight games, they’ve allowed just five running backs to score more than 8.6 PPR points. No running back has totaled more than 81 yards on the ground against them, and there’s been just two running backs who’ve caught more than three passes. Even when there are 15 opportunities, it doesn’t mean top-20 production against them, as the 0.71 PPR points per opportunity ranks as the fifth-lowest mark in football. The glimpse of hope is that Gallman did fill-in for Freeman in Week 7 against the Eagles when he had to leave the game early, and Gallman piled up 54 total yards and a touchdown on 15 touches. The hope is that Freeman misses this game so we can find some sort of value in Gallman as a high-end RB3 with 15-plus touches, even if they’re not particularly efficient. If they both play, it’s tough to say who you should trust more, but I’d lean Gallman considering Freeman would be coming back from a multi-week injury. Still, he wouldn’t be anything more than a low-end RB3/high-end RB4, as they’d cannibalize each other’s value. *Update* Freeman had a setback and was placed on IR. Gallman is a high-end RB3 in a tough matchup.
Travis Fulgham: From the time that Fulgham came into the lineup in Week 4 up until his bye in Week 9, Fulgham had scored more fantasy points (82.0) and yards (435) than any other receiver. His 44 targets ranked fourth during that time, so it’s not solely on volume; he’s been efficient. What makes it even more impressive is that he’s done it while Wentz has struggled as a passer. He’s already played the Giants a few weeks ago, seeing 11 targets and turning them into five catches for 73 yards. That’s actually a pretty good finishing line against them, as James Bradberry has done a good job with No. 1 receivers most of the time. Prior to Terry McLaurin hitting them up for 7/115/1 last week, the best performance they’d allowed to a perimeter receiver was 5/55/1, and that includes games against McLaurin (the first time), Mike Evans, Fulgham, Allen Robinson, Diontae Johnson, Robert Woods, and Amari Cooper. McLaurin’s Week 9 performance was just the third time a receiver had totaled more than 74 yards against them, period. You’re starting Fulgham as a WR2 right now, but you’re hoping they don’t have Bradberry shadow him with Reagor in the lineup, as it would limit his ceiling.
Jalen Reagor: It was evident the Eagles want to get the ball in his hands in his first game back, targeting him six times and giving him a carry as well. Just like all Eagles pass-catchers, he’s subject to Wentz’s struggles as a passer, but the matchup against the Giants is a good one for him, as we should expect James Bradberry to shadow Travis Fulgham, which leaves Reagor with Isaac Yiadom. Throughout his short two-plus years in the league, he’s allowed 74-of-108 passes to be completed in his coverage for 969 yards and five touchdowns, including two on 20 targets this year. Reagor’s role should continue to grow, and for those concerned about Alshon Jeffery coming back, don’t be. Jeffery plays the “X” receiver role, which is the position Fulgham is playing right now, while Reagor is in the DeSean Jackson role. The Giants haven’t allowed many huge performances to wide receivers, but they have allowed 19 different receivers finish as top-48 options (WR4 territory), so Reagor should come with a solid floor. Consider him a WR4 with some sneaky upside if Bradberry shadows Fulgham.
Sterling Shepard: Another week goes by… another week Shepard has seen six-plus targets. Removing the one game he needed to leave early against the Bears, Shepard has seen six-plus targets in 20 straight games. That’s consistency that’s rare in today’s NFL, especially for a wide receiver who’s almost never ranked top-30 by analysts. Most see the Eagles and think, “eh, they’re an average pass defense who’s allowed the 14th-fewest points per game.” While that statement about them ranking 14th is true, the 162 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns they’ve allowed to receivers have skewed the numbers. If you removed them, we’d be looking at the team who’s allowed the fifth-fewest points per game to wide receivers. They’ve allowed a league-low 7.27 yards per target to the position, which is hardly ideal for someone like Shepard who’s averaged just 6.9 yards per target over the last two years. He did catch 6-of-8 targets for 59 yards and a touchdown when they played in Week 7, which offers a little bit of hope, but betting on it happening again might be playing with fire. His floor of six targets does offer a WR4 floor that is fine, but you shouldn’t be playing him with expectations of a top-30 performance, as the Eagles have allowed just four of them all season.
Darius Slayton: We’ve talked about the volatility to Slayton’s game with Shepard back in the lineup, but one target? I mentioned last week that Slayton was a risk/reward WR4 with a tough matchup and the risk proved to be too much. He’s totaled more than 56 yards just twice all season, so it’s not like he should be considered a must-play, regardless. It’s a shame because he’s seen 38.6 percent of the team’s air yards, which ranks as the sixth-highest mark in the league. The Eagles have allowed just 143.5 yards per game to wide receivers, which isn’t a whole lot. There’s been just four wide receivers who’ve finished better than WR33 against them and each of those receivers saw at least eight targets. They’ve allowed a league-worst 7.27 yards per target to wide receivers, so when you see that Slayton has had four or less targets in three of the last four games, it’s problematic. The last time these two teams met, Slayton finished with just two catches for 23 yards. Through eight games, the Eagles have allowed just 19 pass plays of 20-plus yards, which ranks as the second-fewest in the NFL, so it’s going to be difficult to rely on Slayton as anything more than a big-play-or-bust WR4 this week.
Dallas Goedert: He didn’t produce in his first game back from his fractured ankle, but that’s not the part you should be paying attention to. He played a full complement of snaps and ran 25 routes, which is more than enough for him to do damage. The Giants have allowed just one tight end to finish with more than 49 yards against them this year, but they’ve also faced just two tight ends who’ve seen more than four targets. The 7.56 yards per target they’ve allowed to them ranks as the 14th-highest mark in football, but due to the lack of volume, they’ve allowed the ninth-fewest fantasy points per game. Is it the scheme that prevents them from being targeted? They aren’t likely to see that benefit against the Eagles who’ve targeted their tight ends 27.0 percent of the time. It’s also why we saw Richard Rodgers produce in their first matchup, racking up six catches for 85 yards, including one where he was tackled just short of the end zone. Goedert should be a plug-and-play TE1 every week and this matchup shouldn’t change that.
Evan Engram: For the third straight game, Engram saw at least nine targets. He also broke his scoreless streak, bringing in his first receiving touchdown of the year. The absence of Golden Tate surely didn’t hurt matters, but Engram has become the centerpiece of this offense. The last time they played the Eagles, he saw nine targets and turned them into six receptions for 46 yards, so it wasn’t a bad game, though not a great one. Tight ends have had success against that defense, though, as evidenced by the 16.5 PPR points per game they’ve allowed, which ranks as the third-most in the league. The 80.3 percent completion-rate (second-highest in NFL) bodes well for the highly-targeted Engram. The Eagles have played eight games to this point and have allowed seven different tight ends to post 9.3 or more PPR points, including top-two performances to both George Kittle and Tyler Higbee. The loss of Malcolm Jenkins has proven to hurt the back end of their defense, as the 2.17 PPR points per target to tight ends they’ve allowed (tied for fourth-most) is head and shoulders above the 1.64 they allowed last year (tied for 24th-most). With Engram seeing the targets he is, you have to keep him in lineups as a TE1 right now.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Green Bay Packers
Spread: Packers -13.5
Jaguars vs. Packers Betting Matchup
Jake Luton: He played admirably in his first NFL start, though it’s worth noting it was against a Texans defense that was without their best cornerback. Still, it was nice to see him play so competently, as it makes us feel a bit better about his receivers. Don’t expect him to rush for a touchdown again, as his spin move for the touchdown looked like he was playing Madden in slow motion, but the defender did fall for it. It helps to know that quarterbacks have completed 70.3 percent of passes against the Packers this year. It also makes things better to know that they’ve generated the least amount of pressure on quarterbacks this year. There hasn’t been a single game this year where they’ve pressured the quarterback on more than 28 percent of his dropbacks. When Luton was kept clean last week, he completed 22-of-27 passes for 244 yards and a touchdown. The issue this week could be lack of plays, as the Packers should control the ball like they usually do, limiting their opponents to a league-low 57.8 plays per game. That’s limited opponents to just 31.1 pass attempts per game, so the 8.04 yards per attempt they’re allowing doesn’t mean you’re going to get massive passing days. There has been no quarterback who’s reached the 40-pass attempt mark. This is not a bad matchup but more of a low volume one that doesn’t usually bode well for streamers. Luton is just a low-end QB2.
Aaron Rodgers: The Packers made it look easy against the 49ers last week, throwing up 34 points and coasting over the second half. Rodgers got all the production, throwing for 305 yards and four touchdowns, while there were no rushing touchdowns. He’s now thrown at least three touchdowns in 6-of-8 games this year. It’s pretty much the opposite of what was happening last year. The Packers will have similar calls to make this week when the Jaguars come to town, as teams get to pick which way they attack their defense. They’ve been equally as bad against the run as they have the pass. Teams can pick their poison against them, as they’ve allowed the third-most fantasy points per offensive snap to their opponents, behind only the Falcons and Texans, two teams that Rodgers dismantled. The Jaguars have allowed a league-high 8.49 yards per attempt this year, while also allowing a 6.34 percent touchdown-rate and 70.1 percent completion-rate. When you combine them, you get 0.571 fantasy points per actual pass attempt (no rushing), which is the highest mark in the league. They’ve generated a sack on just 2.9 percent of dropbacks (second-lowest in NFL), so knowing that Rodgers has a 131.7 QB Rating from a clean pocket is problematic for them. The Packers are going to load up on points, as they’re projected for 33.5 of them, so start Rodgers as a QB1 like you always do. The only concern for Rodgers in this game is that they turn to the running backs to score four touchdowns this game, so maybe stick to him in DFS tournaments rather than cash games.
James Robinson: The Jaguars rode Robinson with Luton under center, racking up a career-high 25 carries. He’s now received 47 carries over his last two games that have netted 218 yards and a touchdown, while seeing eight targets that have amounted to just four catches for 18 yards, though one of them was for a touchdown. He hasn’t had fewer than 16 opportunities in any game this year, and that bodes well for his chances of success against the Packers defense. Of the production the Packers have allowed to running backs, wide receivers, and tight ends combined, the running backs have accounted for 44.9 percent of it, which is the most in the NFL. Only one other team (Lions) has allowed more than a 38.4 percent share to running backs. The Packers have allowed a league-high 11 rushing touchdowns and 15 total touchdowns to running backs through eight games. Even if the gamescript goes south, which we’re expecting it to, the Packers have faced a running back target on 23.3 percent of pass attempts, which is the fourth-highest mark in the league, so Robinson’s floor should remain rather high. Removing all rushing totals, the Packers would still be allowing 15.3 PPR points per game to running backs. That’s largely because they’re one of just two teams who’ve allowed more than 1.73 PPR points per target to running backs. It’s kind of ridiculous to say they’ve allowed 2.11 PPR points per target. If you were to combine every wide receiver against the Packers and put them up against every running back against the Packers, you’d find that the running backs outscored them in a PPR format. They’re the only team in the NFL you can say that about. The 33.7 PPR points per game they’ve allowed to running backs bodes well for Robinson, who’s now scored 77.8 percent of the Jaguars running back points. All in all, Robinson ranks ninth in weighted opportunity, while the Packers rank dead-last in defending that opportunity. All logic points to Robinson as a rock-solid RB1 play this week.
Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams: It was good to see Jones back on the field last Thursday, as he twisted and turned his way to 79 total yards against a tough 49ers run defense, though he didn’t get to find the end zone while Rodgers got to have all the fun. Jones still ranks fourth in fantasy points per game among running backs, so don’t lose faith in him. The Jaguars are a team they should have plenty of scoring opportunities against, as they’ve allowed at least 27 points to each of their last seven opponents, including four games where they’ve allowed 33 or more points. Do you now understand why the Packers team-implied total is 33.5 points? Running backs have averaged a robust 30.0 touches per game against the Jaguars, so even if Rodgers is chopping them up, Jones should have plenty of opportunities to roam against a defense that’s allowed the sixth-most fantasy points to the position. We watched Duke Johnson fill in for David Johnson last week against them and deliver a top-eight running back performance, which made him the fourth running back to accomplish that against them this year. There’s blow-up potential for Jones here, as there’ve been three running backs who’ve scored two-plus touchdowns. He needs to be played as a high-end RB1. With the 30.0 touches per game they’ve seen, Williams should also have a role considering how well he’s played this year. But with Jones in the lineup, Williams hasn’t totaled more than eight carries, so we can’t automatically assume they give him a bigger role. But if this game goes the way oddsmakers think it does, it would make little sense riding Jones 20-plus times and keeping Williams fresh. I’d expect 10-12 touches for Williams here, making him a worthwhile low-end RB3 play.
D.J. Chark: We can’t say that Luton 100 percent locks onto Chark as his go-to option, but based on the evidence we do have, the chances look good, as Chark saw a massive 11 targets in the rookie’s first start. He did work with them, too, racking up seven receptions for 146 yards and a touchdown. It’s a step in the right direction, as Chark is averaging just 6.83 targets per game, which ranks 31st among receivers through nine weeks. The Packers top cornerback is Jaire Alexander, who should have plenty of time to recover from his concussion in last Thursday night’s game in order to be back for this contest. He’s almost certainly going to be asked to shadow Chark. This is not great news for him, as Alexander has been phenomenal in coverage, allowing just 16-of-27 passing for 139 yards and one touchdown this year. The only starting perimeter receiver who’s been able to post more than 12.5 PPR points with him on the field is Adam Thielen, who finished with 6/110/2 in Week 1 with a lot of garbage time production. That’s essentially what you have to hope for with Chark in this matchup, as there’ve been just five wide receivers who’ve finished inside the top-36 against them. Consider him a high-end WR3 who’s not a lock to produce as a top-30 receiver. *Update* Jaire Alexander is being listed as doubtful with his concussion, which is an upgrade for Chark, who moves into WR2 territory.
Keelan Cole: Has seen just two targets in each of their last two games. That comes after seeing at least five targets in each of their first six games. In his first game with Luton, which was a plus-matchup, that’s not very promising. The matchup against the Packers isn’t a great one, either. They’ve been tough on wide receivers, allowing the fifth-fewest points per game to them. Cole plays most of his snaps in the slot, which has not been an area to attack against the Packers, as we’ve witnessed them shut down Justin Jefferson (twice) and Chris Godwin, holding them both to less than 50 yards in each game. There was a blip on the radar when Randall Cobb tallied 8/95/0 against them, but again, that was a blip on the radar. Chandon Sullivan has done a solid job in the slot, allowing just 14-of-21 passing for 196 yards and a touchdown on the season. Given the ridiculously low volume the last two weeks, let’s hold out on Cole as anything more than a WR5/6 option.
Davante Adams: What can we say about him at this point? Stud. Over his last three games, Adams has blown the roof off fantasy matchups, racking up 30 receptions, 422 yards, and six touchdowns. That’s more than most receivers have in an entire year. Despite him missing time with injury and having his bye week already out of the way, Adams leads the league in red zone targets (13) and ranks second among wide receivers in PPR points. The Jaguars have allowed the third-most points per target to wide receivers through nine weeks, so this could get ugly really quick. There have been just two wide receivers who’ve seen 10-plus targets against them this year, which netted 8/161/1 for Brandin Cooks and 10/125/0 for Keenan Allen. All in all, there have been seven wide receivers who’ve totaled at least 83 yards against the Jaguars, and that’s despite just two quarterbacks throwing more than 36 pass attempts. Adams is a locked and loaded WR1 who should be played anywhere you can, including cash games.
Allen Lazard: It seems like he should be back this week, as he’s been practicing with the team for two weeks now. He was on the flight with the team out to San Francisco, which meant there was a chance. With him, Davante Adams, and Marquez Valdes-Scantling healthy, Lazard will move back to his slot-heavy role that had him in there 55 percent of the time over the first couple weeks. Tre Herndon has been the Jaguars slot cornerback ever since D.J. Hayden went to injured reserve with a hamstring injury, and he’s done a good job, allowing just 7-of-12 passing for 95 yards and one touchdown in his coverage. Hayden is eligible to come back this week, but the Jaguars should really consider keeping Hayden there. With Hayden in the lineup, we watched Parris Campbell post 6/71/0, Adam Humphries 5/48/1, and Tyler Boyd 7/90/0, so it was a matchup to attack. Ideally, you wait to ensure Lazard can get through a full game before trusting him, but if Hayden comes back and starts, Lazard becomes more attractive. If he plays, Lazard should be considered a risk/reward WR4/5 option. *Update* He hasn’t been activated off IR just yet, but that can come Sunday morning.
Marquez Valdes-Scantling: I debated not even including MVS this week but knew there’d be some asking about him after his two-touchdown performance in Week 9. Still, those were his only two receptions in the game, bringing his grand total to 18 receptions on the year. That’s just over two receptions per game while both Davante Adams and Allen Lazard missed significant time. With Lazard due back, Valdes-Scantling is going to lose even more opportunities, though he’ll remain a big-play threat each week, as he’s the one the Packers have used to take shots down the field with. Despite ranking 61st in targets among receivers, he ranks ninth in targets that traveled at least 20 yards in the air. The Jaguars have allowed 26 pass plays of 20-plus yards, which is near the middle of the league, so it’s tough to say you should count on one from him this week. He’ll be a boom-or-bust WR5 most weeks and this one is no different.
Tyler Eifert: Teams haven’t actively targeted their tight ends against the Packers, as just 13.7 percent of targets have gone their way, which is the second-lowest mark in the league. In fact, there’s just one other team who’s seen less than 16.2 percent. They’ve seen just 34 tight end targets through eight games, or 4.3 per game. You don’t need to contemplate Eifert.
Robert Tonyan: We went back to the Tonyan who doesn’t get targeted in Week 9, as he finished with just one target against the 49ers. He’s now seen four or less targets in 5-of-8 games, and it’s not going to help that Allen Lazard is expected back into the lineup for this game, as the target share slowly dissipates from the tight ends. Despite seeing the 23rd-most targets against tight ends, the Jaguars have allowed the fifth-most fantasy points per game to them. Because of that, it should come as no shock that they allow the second-most fantasy points per target to the position. The only team who’s allowed more touchdowns (7) to tight ends than the Jaguars are the Falcons (8). That’s a large reason for the fantasy points they allowed, as just one tight end has topped 57 yards against them. Tonyan should be considered a touchdown-reliant TE2 who has a great matchup, but he’s also had a few great matchups over the last month or so where he hasn’t really delivered.
Washington Football Team at Detroit Lions
Spread: Lions -4.5
Washington vs. Lions Betting Matchup
Alex Smith: After watching Kyle Allen suffer a season-ending injury, Smith came into the game and proceeded to complete 75 percent of his passes and throw for 325 yards and one touchdown, but also threw three interceptions. It should be noted that the first came on a play where J.D. McKissic fell down while the ball was en route, the second one was a slight overthrow, and the third one was just a bad throw. He should bounce back well in this game against the Lions who’ve allowed at least 15.5 fantasy points to every quarterback they’ve played, allowing all eight of them to finish as top-20 quarterbacks, including five of them to finish top-12. They’ve allowed 7.78 yards per attempt (10th), a 6.42 percent touchdown-rate (4th), and have generated a sack on just 3.97 percent of dropbacks (25th). It seems Smith is panicking a bit when under pressure, so the lack of pressure the Lions have brought should help him settle in a bit. There is a very odd stat I came across while researching this game, and it’s that Smith has played 14 games in a dome and has thrown just eight touchdowns to 13 interceptions in those games. Outdoor, he’s thrown 166 touchdowns to just 87 interceptions. It could be nothing, could be something. Smith should be a fine floor play in 2QB formats, but you can likely find a better streamer in standard formats.
Matthew Stafford: He suffered a concussion in Week 9, though some said they thought he was benched due to poor play. Stafford hasn’t lived up to expectations this year, but Week 9 was just the second time he didn’t score at least 16.1 fantasy points. It’s really odd because the game was against the Vikings, who’ve really struggled against the pass, while his first game he failed to hit 16.1 fantasy points was against the Jaguars, another team that’s struggled mightily against the pass. Both of those defenses rank in the bottom-seven against fantasy quarterbacks. This week is the opposite of that. When you think of Washington, do you think of an elite defense? If you answered no, you may want to start rethinking your answer, as they’ve allowed the fourth-fewest fantasy points per game to opponents. The only teams who’ve allowed fewer points are the Colts, Rams, and Bears; not matchups you want to target in fantasy. You’re not hurrying to start quarterbacks against the Steelers, right? Well, Washington’s 10.5 percent sack-rate is second to only the Steelers, while the 7.18 yards per attempt they’ve allowed is less than the 7.23 the Steelers have allowed. Teams have started to realize that, as they’ve chosen to pass the ball just 51.8 percent of the time against Washington, which is the second-lowest mark in the league. Just one quarterback has thrown for more than 286 yards, while no quarterback has thrown for more than two touchdowns. If you look at strictly passing production, Washington has allowed the fourth-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks. Stafford is nothing more than a low-end QB2 in this matchup.
Antonio Gibson and J.D. McKissic: Coming out of their bye week, it’s still a timeshare. Gibson fumbled early in the game, which led to McKissic playing a season-high 45-of-54 snaps and racking up a ridiculous 14 targets. It’s still just one week and we shouldn’t change our opinions on who each running back is. The Lions have allowed the fourth-most fantasy points per offensive snap to opponents this year, behind only the Falcons, Texans, and Jaguars. Through nine weeks, there’s been no team in the league who’s allowed more fantasy points per game to the running back position. In fact, the 35.0 PPR points per game they’ve allowed to them is 3.7 percent more than the closest team (Packers). There are just two teams who’ve allowed more than 11 total touchdowns to running backs this year, and the Lions are one of them. They’ve allowed 15 total touchdowns (10 rushing, 5 receiving) to them. Even if you remove the production they’ve allowed through the air, the Lions have allowed 21.0 fantasy points per game on the ground to running backs, which is more than 10 teams have allowed to the position as a whole. They’ve allowed a touchdown every 16.7 touches to the running back position. If Washington can keep this game close (or have the lead), Gibson should smash. Even if you start looking at what the Lions have allowed through the air, it doesn’t look bad for McKissic, as they’ve allowed a league-high 8.26 yards and 2.17 PPR points per target to running backs. The 186.5 total yards per game they’ve allowed is the most in the NFL, and running backs have managed to average 31.3 touches per game against the Lions, so there should be enough to go around between these two running backs, though gamescript will determine just how good either will be. Gibson should be played as a strong RB2 this week who could explode if they hold a lead/keep the game close. McKissic should be played as a solid floor RB3 who has a chance to hit much more than that if Washington were to fall behind against his former team.
D’Andre Swift and Adrian Peterson: This backfield split has been a bit different since their bye week, though they’re still running a three-way timeshare. Below is a chart of their weighted opportunity since the bye in Week 5:
It’s essentially a 50/35/15 split between them in weighted opportunity, which is fine when they get a lot of work. Will there be a lot of work this week? We’ve already talked about how quarterbacks have struggled a bit against Washington, so what about running backs? Well, it’s not great for third-down backs, as Washington’s allowed just 6.7 PPR points per game through the air to running backs, which ranks as the third-fewest in the league. It makes sense when you see the tiny 4.08 yards per target they’ve allowed, which ranks as the second-lowest number in the league. They’ve allowed 4.04 yards per carry on the ground, which is hovering just below the league average. When you take these numbers in, Washington has allowed the third-fewest PPR points per opportunity to running backs. Running backs have averaged 27.5 touches per game against them, which if it held true, we’d have 13-14 touches for Swift, 8-9 for Peterson, and 4-5 for Johnson. Every one of the five running backs who’s scored more than 10.7 PPR points against Washington has totaled at least 15 touches, including four of them with 18-plus touches. We need things to continue trending Swift’s way for him to deliver RB2 numbers this week, though it’s not looking great. He should be considered a low-end RB2 this week. Peterson will be playing against his former team, but as we saw last week, that doesn’t mean much. He’s nothing more than a low-ceiling RB4.
Terry McLaurin: He leads the NFL with 45.3 percent of his team’s air yards, while no other receiver is over 42.6 percent. Despite being in a tough matchup with James Bradberry last week, McLaurin overcame that and another quarterback change to post 7/115/1. Despite already getting his bye week out of the way, McLaurin sits as the No. 12 wide receiver in fantasy. It surely helps that he’s averging a massive 9.83 targets per game, which ranks sixth among receivers. There are just six teams who’ve seen at least 60 percent of their opponents pass attempts go to the wide receiver position, and the Lions are one of them. The downside is that they’ve allowed tons of production on the ground, which has led to their opponents taking the air out of the football against them, throwing the ball just 51.8 percent of the time. This is hardly an untouchable matchup, though, as the Lions have allowed four different receivers to top 20 PPR points against them and another four receivers who’ve topped 15 PPR points. They don’t have a shadow cornerback, so Washington will be able to get the matchup they want with him. Start him as a WR1 every week until he gives you a reason not to.
Marvin Jones: We lucked out last week, as Jones found his way into the end zone. In a game that looked like it could present a big performance, he saw just four targets and hauled three of them in for 43 yards. He’s now played three games without Kenny Golladay this year, and those games have netted just 4/55/0, 4/23/1, and 3/43/1. So, you’re essentially saying touchdown or bust. Of the production that Washington has allowed to running backs, wide receivers, and tight ends, just 42.0 percent of it has gone to receivers, which is the lowest mark in the league. They are one of just two teams in the NFL who’ve held receivers to fewer than 1,100 yards this year (Rams are the other), as they’ve allowed just 132.0 yards per game to the position. They’ve also allowed just three touchdowns to wide receivers on the year, which is tied with the Bears for fewest in the league. There have been just three top-30 wide receivers against them through eight games, and those receivers were Amari Cooper, DeAndre Hopkins, and Robert Woods… all receivers out of Jones’ league. Knowing he’s the No. 1 receiver for another week, he should be considered, but this matchup isn’t close to as good as last week’s. He’s a low-end WR3/high-end WR4.
Danny Amendola: He’s actually the one who’s benefited most from Kenny Golladay being out of the lineup, as he’s finished with 7, 7, and 10 targets in the three games Golladay has missed, while totaling just 4, 3, 2, 4, and 4 with him in the lineup. He made them count last week, turning his 10 targets into 7/77/0 in a plus-matchup against the Vikings. This week’s matchup isn’t nearly as good, as Washington has allowed just eight wide receivers his double-digit PPR days this season. By comparison, the Vikings have allowed 14 of them. If there’s a sliver of hope for Amendola, it’s that three of those receivers they’ve allowed double-digit points to were slot-heavy receivers. Jimmy Moreland is the cornerback holding things together there, allowing 16-of-23 passing for just 134 scoreless yards. Amendola should offer a decent floor for those in PPR formats with bye week issues, but he’s nothing more than a WR5 in a tough matchup with a low ceiling against this defense.
Logan Thomas: Just when Thomas started to vibe with his quarterback and show some efficiency, Kyle Allen gets hurt. The good news is that Thomas saw six targets in that game, and we have a long history of Alex Smith producing fantasy-relevant tight ends. Knowing that Smith/Allen targeted running backs and tight ends on a ridiculous 59.0 percent of attempts last week, it’s not a bad thing for Thomas. While the Lions have struggled in a lot of areas this year, though tight ends haven’t really been one of them. They’ve allowed just 5.67 yards per target to the position, which ranks as the third-lowest number in the league. It does need to be noted that they’ve allowed five touchdowns, one every 9.8 targets, but those are much less sticky than yards per target. Hayden Hurst was the only tight end who’s finished with more than 40 yards against them, and that was in a game he saw seven targets. Thomas should remain in the middling TE2 conversation until we see he has chemistry with Smith. This matchup doesn’t tempt us to find out too much.
T.J. Hockenson: We figured Hockenson would see a bump in targets last week with Golladay out and that’s exactly what happened. With Golladay out pretty much the last two games, Hockenson has seen 18 targets, turning them into 12/104/1. Against Washington, teams have targeted their tight ends a massive 25.7 percent of the time, which ranks tops in the league. It’s not just targets, either, as 25.1 percent of the fantasy production they’ve allowed to running backs, wide receivers, and tight ends, has gone to the tight end position. That also ranks as the highest mark in the league while no other team is above 23.1 percent. Not only have five different tight ends scored against them (Mark Andrews scored twice), but four tight ends have totaled at least 48 yards. If you’re looking for a reason to avoid Hockenson, you won’t find it here; this matchup is a good one, as evidenced by the 2.09 PPR points per target they’ve allowed to tight ends, which ranks as the seventh-highest mark in the league. Start Hockenson as a rock-solid TE1 this week who should offer a stable floor and high ceiling. *Update* Hockenson popped up on the injury report on Thursday with a toe injury leading to a DNP, which is never a good sign mid-week, though he did return to a limited practice on Friday. He’s listed as questionable.