The NFL Handbook – Week 10

I’ve analyzed each of the 14 Week 10 matchups, and this handbook is the product. Fantasy football advice, statistical analysis, betting picks… Everything you need to prepare for this week’s action.

For the fantasy portion, I’ve broken each team’s fantasy relevant players into four categories:

  1. Ballers –  Either the guys you just aren’t benching, or the ones with favorable match-ups. Either way, they should be in your lineups.
  2. Under the Radar – Guys who you may not start typically, but have a good opportunity to produce. Good for dfs (DraftKings, Fanduel, etc.) as they should have low(er) ownership.
  3. Temper Expectations – Proceed with caution. May be players you’d normally start, or guys who’ve been playing well, but might not put up the numbers needed to justify a start this week.
  4. Bums – It’s a good idea to just avoid these guys in your lineups.

Complete Week 10 Fantasy Football Rankings

For the betting side, I used the opening spread and over/under totals from sportsinsights.com. A lot of the lines have moved in reaction to the money, injury updates, etc., but picking and choosing which current odds to use felt a bit too arbitrary. If you have any questions regarding the updated odds, feel free to comment, shoot me an email: leonard@maximizeyourodds.com, or hit me up on Twitter: @maxingyourodds

New Orleans Saints (6-2, 6-2 ATS) at Buffalo Bills (5-3, 5-2-1 ATS)

Spread: NO -2.5

O/U: 48.5

FANTASY POINTS ALLOWED BY POSITION
QB RB WR TE DST K
BUF 12.93 (5th) 17.44 (17th) 17.58 (8th) 7.81 (19th) 5.63 (13th) 8.13 (18th)
NO 15.02 (13th) 17.21 (13th) 18.46 (11th) 6.35 (8th) 3.13 (7th) 7.00 (9th)

Sean McDermott? Dennis Allen? Tyrod Taylor? Cameron Jordan? Marshon Lattimore? I’m really not sure who deserves the bulk of the credit. But, I do know, someone deserves some hardware.

After allowing more points per game than every team outside of San Francisco a season ago, the Saints have allowed just 19.4 points per game thus far (9th fewest). They also rank 7th in interceptions, and 9th in sacks while holding opposing QBs to just under 230 passing yards per game.

Considering benching Taylor this week? Can’t blame you one bit.

It’s not all bad, however, as New Orleans has also allowed more rushing yards per game to opposing QBs than all but three teams this season. They’ve also allowed two rushing TDs to QBs; 2nd most. Now, you might have noticed, but Tyrod Taylor has these two stick looking things attached to his waist and he uses them to move around at at a rapid pace and this enables him to produce without the gaudy passing numbers we see around the league.

The man has thrown for more than 200 yards in just four of his eight games – going over 300 in zero – and plays for one of the league’s worst passing offenses. Yet, he currently ranks 14th among QBs in fantasy points on the season.

Oh, and New Orleans defensive numbers are slightly bolstered by the fact that they’ve faced the bad Jay Cutler, Brett Hundley, Mitch Trubisky, and an injured Jameis Winston/healthy Ryan Fitzpatrick

Just sayin’.

Meanwhile, the seven passing TDs allowed by this Bills defense are the 3rd fewest this season, and their 11 interceptions are good for the 2nd most. It is worth noting that all seven of the TD passes have come over their last five games, but still, only two QBs have managed more than 15 fantasy points against them this season with three QBs – including Matt Ryan – finishing in single-digits.

True, Drew Brees remains one of the league’s elite signal callers, but he has just six more fantasy points than Jacoby Brissett and Tyrod Taylor, and less than Josh McCown. The name value hasn’t quite matched the performance, and given the matchup, I expect less than stellar numbers this week as well.

Surely by now we’ve all heard that the Bills acquired WR Kelvin Benjamin and should be getting TE Charles Clay back any day now. Don’t let that deter you from the fact that Buffalo has the 6th most rushing attempts (3rd if you exclude the teams who haven’t had their bye). New Orleans has allowed opposing backs to average 4.2 yards per carry (9th most) to go with 52.5 receiving yards per game to the position (6th most).

LeSean McCoy happens to be pretty good.

Like McCoy, both Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara have had solid seasons themselves. In fact, McCoy ranks 13th among RBs in fantasy points this season, and sandwiched around him? Kamara and Ingram at 12th and 14th, respectively.

All three should be in your lineups this week.

Who to start at receiver is where things begin to get a bit dicey as Buffalo has allowed just four receivers to find the end zone, just one to go over 100 yards receiving, and are holding them to just 11.8 yards per reception (7th best). New Orleans has also allowed just four receivers to find the end zone (five TDs total to WRs) while allowing just one to go over 100 yards receiving.

Talk about tit for tat.

Making matters worse, Brees has been uniformly distributing his TD passes – Coleman and Ginn have 3, and Thomas has 2 – and there’s really no logic to Taylor’s target distribution whatsoever. Honestly, there’s no valuable insight to be had at WR other than, flip a coin. Although, Thomas hasn’t caught a TD since Week 4, and Coleman has seen just five total targets over the Saints last three games.

And, the aforementioned Kelvin Benjamin? Be patient. Take the wait and see approach this week.

Bottom line, if you can catch just one game this week, you’ll want to make it this one. I’m taking the +2.5 with Buffalo since they’re at home (and run the ball more frequently which tends to lead to more covers ATS), but this one is a toss-up and should be highly competitive.

Saints 23 – Bills 20

Ballers: Mark Ingram, Alvin Kamara, Michael Thomas, Tyrod Taylor, LeSean McCoy

Under the Radar: Deonte Thompson

Temper Expectations: Drew Brees, Ted Ginn, Jordan Matthews, Kelvin Benjamin, Zay Jones, Charles Clay

Bums: Coby Fleener

Green Bay Packers (4-4, 3-5 ATS) at Chicago Bears (3-5, 5-3 ATS)

Spread: CHI -5

O/U: 38

FANTASY POINTS ALLOWED BY POSITION
QB RB WR TE DST K
GB 15.32 (14th) 20.85 (29th) 23.75 (27th) 3.26 (1st) 8.13 (19th) 9.13 (23rd)
CHI 12.89 (5th) 18.26 (22nd) 19.08 (16th) 6.30 (7th) 10.88 (29th) 8.50 (10th)

Where were you on 12/22/08?

Me? No clue, but that date marks the last time the Bears were favored against the Packers. I don’t know what’s more impressive – the fact that it’s been 18 straight games, or that the iPhone 3G was the latest and greatest and Brett Hundley was 15 the last time it happened.

In any case, the Monsters of the Midway are back! (Not really, but their defense has been legit)

Chicago has given up just one passing TD over their last four games, and hasn’t allowed a 300 yard passer since Matt Ryan in Week 1. They’ve allowed just two RBs to reach 75 yards, and an entire zero to top 100. And for good measure, despite facing Julio Jones, Mike Evans, Kelvin Benjamin, Michael Thomas – you get the picture – they’ve allowed just one WR to put up 100 yards receiving…

His name is Antonio Brown.

Brett Hundley has two career starts, and one thing is clear, he’s not Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers was held to just 179 yards passing against these Bears in Week 4. At home (he did throw 4 TDs though). So, seeing how Hundley is averaging just 166 yards passing and has zero TDs with one interception in his two starts, there really isn’t much to induce much confidence.

He does have a rushing TD in each of his two starts, though. In case you just really needed a reason to justify streaming him…

And, there lies the end of the list of reasons.

That said, in a less than favorable matchup (along with less than favorable circumstances), unless you just have absolutely no room to drop anyone and have to start either Nelson or Adams, there’s no reason to go anywhere near this Packers passing game.

At all.

In fact, just don’t touch this offense. I mean, the Bears have allowed at least one rushing TD in six of their eight games, so you might be able to get away with Aaron Jones. But, the Bears run D is pretty comparable to Detroit’s… Jones put up a mere 12 yards on 5 carries against the Lions last week. Not to mention, Ty Montgomery was exponentially more effective.

Per usual, you’re starting Jordan Howard from the Bears. And, there’s really not much else to discuss offensively.

Packers 13 – Bears 17

Ballers: Jordan Howard

Under the Radar: Kendall Wright

Temper Expectations: Aaron Jones, Ty Montgomery, Davante Adams, Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb

Bums: Brett Hundley, Lance Kendricks, Mitch Trubisky, Tarik Cohen, Dion SIms

Cleveland Browns (0-8, 2-6 ATS) at Detroit Lions (4-4, 4-4 ATS)

Spread: DET -12

O/U: 44

FANTASY POINTS ALLOWED BY POSITION
QB RB WR TE DST K
CLE 18.70 (25th) 15.86 (6th) 18.73 (14th) 11.05 (30th) 12.50 (32nd) 8.25 (19th)
DET 14.15 (11th) 18.11 (20th) 21.16 (20th) 7.24 (18th) 8.63 (21st) 6.75 (8th)

The Browns are bad, but they haven’t been terrible. The Lions are good, but they haven’t been great.

Sounds a bit like my cooking.

Stafford, Tate, Jones, Prater, and the Lions DST should be the only players from this game that you’ve been plugging into your fantasy lineups on a regular basis. Keep it that way this week, but add Ebron.

Yes, he’s been underwhelming this season. But, in the two games since the bye, he has 10 targets and two of his better performances on the season. Combine that with the Browns allowing the 4th most yards per game to opposing TEs (67.8) and the 2nd most passing TDs to the position (6), and you have the potential for a Top-10 fantasy afternoon.

I’m done here.

Browns 17 – Lions 26

Ballers: Matthew Stafford, Golden Tate, Marvin Jones

Under the Radar: Duke Johnson, Eric Ebron

Temper Expectations: Isaiah Crowell, Ameer Abdullah, Theo Riddick

Bums: DeShone Kizer, Rashard Higgins, Ricardo Louis

Cincinnati Bengals (3-5, 3-5 ATS) at Tennessee Titans (5-3, 3-4-1 ATS)

Spread: TEN -4

O/U: 40.5

FANTASY POINTS ALLOWED BY POSITION
QB RB WR TE DST K
CIN 14.20 (12th) 15.88 (7th) 16.64 (7th) 6.46 (9th) 10.38 (28th) 9.75 (27th)
TEN 16.77 (19th) 16.94 (12th) 21.30 (22nd) 6.78 (13th) 7.13 (17th) 10.38 (31st)

I still can’t wrap my head around how Mike Evans was hit with a suspension, but A.J. Green wasn’t. I mean, if the league is factoring bitchassness, then yeah, Evans takes the cake. But, Green was out there like Terence Crawford – generously donating 2-pieces to any and all comers – while Evans just blindsided a dude with a superman shove…

I don’t get it.

Anyway, the Bengals have fewer passing yards than all but four teams this season, and A.J. Green is responsible for 37% of those yards. Add that Cincy’s run game has been deplorable, and the fact that the Titans have held opposing backs to the 9th fewest yards per game, and the Bengals dodged a hollow-point in Green not being suspended for this one.

Speaking of their horrendous run game, if you haven’t given up on Joe Mixon yet, do yourself a favor and sit him down this week. His TD saved the day for fantasy owners last week, but the Titans haven’t allowed a rushing TD since Week 4 and Mixon is averaging just 2.9 yards per carry on the season; good for 48th among RBs.

For what it’s worth, Tennessee has allowed more receiving yards to opposing backs than all but three teams; which I guess adds a bit of appeal to Bernard and Mixon. But, no thanks. I’ll be taking the road less traveled.

Back to the air.

Dalton is matchup dependent, and while it may seem as if the matchup is there this week, if we take away the games against uber-mobile, otherworldly Russell Wilson and Deshaun Watson – because, well, Dalton is nothing like them – the Titans have allowed just 13.3 fantasy points per game to opposing QBs.

Not the worst play, but no thanks.

And for the Titans, well their offense hasn’t been anything to write home about either. But hey, at least they have injuries to blame. They’re finally getting healthy, but so is this Bengals D – which is allowing the 3rd fewest passing yards per game, has given up just two rushing TDs, and has held opponents to the lowest red zone TD%; allowing six points on just 32.1% of red zone trips.

Murray and Henry figure to be busy between the 20s, but given the matchup, Delanie Walker might be the only Titan to trust in your lineup this week.

PS – Corey Davis saw five targets in his return (T-2nd most on the team).

Bengals 16 – Titans 20

Ballers: A.J. Green, Delanie Walker

Under the Radar: Corey Davis

Temper Expectations: Andy Dalton, Marcus Mariota, DeMarco Murray, Derrick Henry, Rishard Matthews, Eric Decker

Bums: Joe Mixon, Giovani Bernard, Brandon LaFell, Tyler Kroft

Pittsburgh Steelers (6-2, 5-3 ATS) at Indianapolis Colts (3-6, 5-4 ATS)

Spread: PIT -10

O/U: 43

FANTASY POINTS ALLOWED BY POSITION
QB RB WR TE DST K
PIT 10.92 (3rd) 17.39 (16th) 13.99 (2nd) 5.91 (4th) 5.50 (11th) 6.25 (5th)
IND 18.21 (23rd) 21.47 (31st) 23.44 (26th) 8.01 (21st) 11.44 (30th) 9.89 (29th)

What do you do when someone falls down in front of you?

Well, you kick them of course.

The Colts have fallen, and they’re being kicked. Repeatedly. There was a slight glimmer of hope that Andrew Luck would return this season; he’s been shut down for the year. Vontae Davis decided to have season-ending surgery on his groin; the Colts have now released him. And, just because things weren’t horrible enough in the building already, assistant coach Robert Mathis was arrested and charged with OWI.

It’s hard out here for a Colt, and a matchup against Pittsburgh doesn’t figure to make matters any easier.

If they play for Pittsburgh, start them. If they play for the Colts, good luck. The matchup is decent for Frank Gore and Marlon Mack. But, odds are the Colts will be behind on the scoreboard pretty early and it’s hard to envision either of them seeing a meaningful number of carries.

Steelers 38 – Colts 6

Ballers: Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell, Antonio Brown, JuJu Smith-Schuster

Under the Radar: Jesse James

Temper Expectations: T.Y. Hilton, Jack Doyle

Bums: Jacoby Brissett, Frank Gore, Marlon Mack, Donte Moncrief

New York Jets (4-5, 6-2-1 ATS) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-6, 1-6-1 ATS)

Spread: PK

O/U: 41

FANTASY POINTS ALLOWED BY POSITION
QB RB WR TE DST K
NYJ 18.24 (23rd) 17.67 (18th) 22.74 (25th) 9.48 (28th) 7.00 (16th) 5.33 (2nd)
TB 18.90 (26th) 20.55 (28th) 25.20 (30th) 6.26 (6th) 6.38 (15th) 7.75 (14th)

In his two seasons as the Jets starting QB, Ryan Fitzpatrick threw a remarkable 32 interceptions – only three QBs tossed more passes to the opposition over that stretch – and the Jets currently rank 7th in the league with nine interceptions.

You think they want to return the favor?

Well, they might get back at him, but Fitzpatrick has a less than zero percent chance to come out on top at the end of the day. The Jets D has allowed at least two passing TDs in five straight games while giving up 280.6 passing yards per game over that five game stretch. Oh, and of the 11 TDs the Jets have allowed opposing WRs on the season, six of them have come in the past three weeks.

As mentioned earlier, Evans will be serving his suspension in this one – which obviously has a negative impact on Fitzpatrick – but DeSean Jackson, and Adam Humphries are more than capable receivers, and are both must starts this week.

The storylines don’t end there, however, as Austin Seferian-Jenkins spent his 1st 2+ seasons in Tampa only to be waived last season following a DUI arrest (some other drama, and an injury).

You think he wants to get back at them?

Probably, but unlike Fitzpatrick, the stars aren’t aligned for a triumphant return to the Ray Jay for ASJ, as the Bucs have allowed the 3rd fewest receiving yards and just three TDs to the TE position this season. And, despite ranking 15th among TEs in targets (36), Seferian-Jenkins ranks 25th in receiving yards and is averaging just 31.6 yards per game.

If you’re still holding on after his three-game TD streak a few weeks back, and want to roll the dice on the basis of “revenge”, I won’t argue with you. However, there are probably better options on the waiver wire this week.

The Jets running backs, though? Well, you can’t ask for a much better matchup there. I mean, you could, but you’d just be greedy at that point.

Tampa has allowed 115.5 rushing yards per game and seven TDs to running backs over their last four games, and the New York backs finally got things going on the ground again last week after hitting a bit of a valley in Weeks 5-8. Matt Forte is dealing with a knee issue and might not lace ’em up this weekend. Should Forte not go, both Powell and McGuire figure to have solid fantasy days, and if he does…

Good luck figuring out the three-headed monster.

The Forte injury is concerning, but even more so for the Jets is the the recent play of this Bucs pass D. Sure, you look at the numbers and see they’ve allowed the 3rd highest passing yards per game average (278.6) with 14 passing TDs, and the 2nd most yards per game to opposing receivers, and think that McCown and co. will have a field day.

But, not exactly.

After allowing 315.3 passing yards per game over their 1st four, the Bucs have held opposing QBs to just 242 over their last four. Now surprisingly, Josh McCown is tied for 8th with 13 passing TDs on the season – and the Bucs are allowing about two per game – so no, the passing game won’t be silenced completely. The matchup just isn’t as appealing as it may seem.

This game will be entertaining on several levels, and seeing how both QBs have a propensity to throw the ball to the opposing team, it’ll likely come down to which defense can make the most plays (isn’t that usually the case?). The Bucs have lost five straight, are at home, and we’ve already seen – on multiple occasions this season – how teams step up when no one is giving them a chance.

Jets 24 – Bucs 27

Ballers: Bilal Powell, DeSean Jackson, Cameron Brate

Under the Radar: Elijah McGuire, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Adam Humphries, Chris Godwin, O.J. Howard

Temper Expectations: Josh McCown, Robby Anderson, Jermaine Kearse, Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Doug Martin

Bums: Peyton Barber, Jacquizz Rodgers

Minnesota Vikings (6-2, 5-3 ATS) at Washington Redskins (4-4, 3-5 ATS)

Spread: MIN -2.5

O/U: 43

FANTASY POINTS ALLOWED BY POSITION
QB RB WR TE DST K
MIN 12.47 (4th) 12.46 (1st) 18.51 (12th) 6.69 (10th) 3.00 (6th) 7.88 (15th)
WAS 17.37 (21st) 17.35 (15th) 16.30 (6th) 11.00 (29th) 9.13 (24th) 8.50 (20th)

I always notice the most random and irrelevant shit. For example, Case Keenum and Kirk Cousins have the same initials; just inverted. Put them together, and you have CKKC or KCCK – which evidently is a FM radio station in Iowa.

You’re welcome.

Now, things don’t look great for KC. Minnesota has allowed a scanty 167 yards passing per game over their last four with a total of 3 passing TDs. Thing is, they faced Mitch Trubisky, Brett Hundley, Joe Flacco, and DeShone Kizer. Now, don’t get me wrong, this Vikings D is one of the best. But, the numbers are bit inflated as they’ve faced one of the weaker schedules this season.

PS (is that applicable here?) – All five of the TDs which the Vikings have allowed to WRs were caught by #2/#3 receivers. Ryan Grant, and Josh Doctson would be the receivers to target in Washington.

Moving on…

KC also has very little support from his ground game, and what’s even more damning is that the Vikings have allowed just two rushing TDs on the season. Minnesota has also yet to allow a 100 yard rusher while giving up the 6th fewest receiving yards per game to opposing backs.

It’s not likely KC’s favorite target, Chris Thompson, finds much success here.

Meanwhile, CK faces a Redskins D which has allowed just 217.8 passing yards per game in games which they’ve had Josh Norman for all four quarters. Also, after not throwing an interception in his 1st four games, CK has now managed to throw the ball to the other team in three straight games. Washington is tied for 10th with eight interceptions, and seven of those have come in the five games which they’ve had Josh Norman for all four quarters.

Josh Norman is healthy.

But unfortunately, for Washington, the rest of their squad is not. Their injury report goes about 37 deep, and that’s difference number one between these two teams; health.

Difference number two is that the Redskins have allowed four receiving TDs to TEs over their last six games. Kyle Rudolph is tied for 8th with three on the season, and two of those three have come over Minnesota’s last four games. Now no, that’s not a huge mismatch to be exploited, but Washington has also allowed more receiving yards per game to the TE position than any other team in the league this season.

All told, that’s about as far as the list of things separating these two teams goes, and this figures to be one of the more tightly contested games of the week. It also figures to provide minimal trips to the end zone.

PPS (?) – 50.5% of Adam Thielen‘s snaps have come from the slot this season. Both Doug Baldwin and Nelson Agholor have similar percentages from the slot; they combined for 11 catches, 153 yards, and 2 TDs against the ‘Skins in Weeks 7 and 9.

Vikings 22 – Redskins 19

Ballers: Adam Thielen, Kyle Rudolph

Under the Radar: Josh Doctson/Ryan Grant

Temper Expectations: Case Keenum, Jerick McKinnon, Latavius Murray, Stefon Diggs, Kirk Cousins, Chris Thompson, Jamison Crowder, Vernon Davis

Bums: Laquon Treadwell, Rob Kelley, Samaje Perine, Terrelle Pryor

Los Angeles Chargers (3-5, 3-4-1 ATS) at Jacksonville Jaguars (5-3, 5-3 ATS)

Spread: JAX -4

O/U: 41.5

FANTASY POINTS ALLOWED BY POSITION
QB RB WR TE DST K
LAC 13.62 (10th) 19.18 (25th) 20.30 (17th) 5.29 (2nd) 5.00 (10th) 8.00 (17th)
JAX 7.45 (1st) 18.10 (19th) 11.86 (1st) 7.85 (20th) 4.00 (9th) 6.25 (5th)

Everyone is crushing on the Jags right now, and I get it. I’m just not with it because I saw this coming, and if you read my preseason power rankings, you bet the over on their implied season win total of 6.5 and you’re not crushing on them either.

It’s old news.

If you’re still sleeping on the Chargers, though, it’s time you wake up from your nap. Los Angeles has won three of four – with the one loss coming at New England – and boasts one of the more underrated defensive units in the league.

They’ve also faced one of the league’s tougher schedules.

Now, you might see that the Chargers have allowed the 8th most fantasy points to RBs, the most rushing yards per game, and almost five yards per carry and think that plays right into the Jags hands. And, you’d be right. However, LA hasn’t allowed a rushing TD in three straight while allowing just 68 rushing yards per game over that stretch.

They’ll also have LB Denzel Perryman this week for the 1st time this season.

No doubt, Leonard Fournette is a different beast than they’ve faced in recent weeks, but given the talent in the secondary, the Chargers can afford to throw a few extra in the box. Not to mention, LA also has a Top-10 passing defense; the Jags passing offense ranks among the league’s worst.

I don’t expect to see much from this Jags offense on Sunday.

Offensively, the Chargers will look a lot like Jacksonville. The Jags haven’t allowed more than one passing TD in any game this season, and just one QB has gone over 225 yards passing against them. The one that did, Ben Roethlisberger, did so by attempting 55 passes; he also threw five interceptions.

If you want to bet on Philip Rivers throwing more than 55 passes in this one, I’ll gladly take you up on it, but it doesn’t take a scholar to guess that Melvin Gordon figures to be very busy. Gordon is averaging nearly 20 carries per game over the Chargers last four, and given the Jags struggles defending the run, he should be in for a nice day.

Long story short, I like +4 with the Chargers. If the Jags win (I don’t think they do) it’s likely to come down to a FG as both of these teams rank in the Top-5 in opposing red zone TD% – Chargers have allowed TDs on just 35% of opponent’s red zone trips, and that number is 43.8% for Jacksonville.

Chargers 20 – Jags 16

Ballers: Melvin Gordon, Leonard Fournette

Under the Radar: ??? The kickers?

Temper Expectations: Keenan Allen, Travis Benjamin, Hunter Henry, Marqise Lee

Bums: Philip Rivers, Tyrell Williams, Blake Bortles, Allen Hurns, Marcedes Lewis

Houston Texans (3-5, 5-3 ATS) at Los Angeles Rams (6-2, 5-3 ATS)

Spread: LAR -10

O/U: 47

FANTASY POINTS ALLOWED BY POSITION
QB RB WR TE DST K
HOU 19.34 (29th) 13.20 (2nd) 24.44 (28th) 9.29 (27th) 8.88 (23rd) 9.25 (25th)
LAR 13.19 (8th) 21.46 (30th) 16.11 (5th) 7.11 (16th) 2.00 (2nd) 6.00 (4th)

Last week, I pointed out that the Texans were allowing more yards per reception to opposing WRs than all but one team, and that T.Y. Hilton led all receivers with 18.2 yards per. Well, Hilton took advantage; catching 5 passes for 175 yards with 2 TDs.

The week prior, I mentioned that the Texans were allowing 14.4 yards per reception – which was the 5th highest clip at that time – and that Paul Richardson ranked 8th among WRs at 16.8. Yeah, Richardson also took advantage; catching 6 passes for 105 yards with 2 TDs (Lockett went nuts too).

The Texans are now allowing 16.3 yards per reception to opposing WRs – more than any other team – and you guessed it, the Rams have a receiver who ranks in the Top-10. He actually ranks 5th, and his name is Sammy Watkins (17.4 yards per reception). Now, I recommended Sammy last week, and he came through. If you didn’t trust me then, well, now you have another chance.

Trade him after this week too (if you can).

The only player you’re considering on Houston is Lamar Miller. But, given the fact that the Texans will fall behind fairly early (and the Rams will likely sell out against the run), no thanks. Yes, DeAndre Hopkins still managed 6 grabs for 86 yards and a TD in his 1st game (kinda) with Tom Savage

The Rams are not the Colts.

Texans 10 – Rams 45

Ballers: Jared Goff, Robert Woods

Under the Radar: Stephen Anderson, Malcolm Brown, Sammy Watkins, Tyler Higbee

Temper Expectations: Lamar Miller, DeAndre Hopkins, Todd Gurley, Cooper Kupp

Bums: Tom Savage, Will Fuller

Dallas Cowboys (5-3, 5-3 ATS) at Atlanta Falcons (4-4, 2-6 ATS)

Spread: ATL -3

O/U: 50.5

FANTASY POINTS ALLOWED BY POSITION
QB RB WR TE DST K
DAL 17.07 (20th) 16.83 (11th) 22.64 (24th) 6.71 (11th) 2.50 (5th) 7.63 (13th)
ATL 16.14 (17th) 18.20 (21st) 17.75 (9th) 5.61 (3rd) 5.50 (11th) 10.38 (31st)

There’s an old fable about this boy who had a flock of sheep. The boy would yell and plea for help over a wolf which was attacking his flock. But the thing is, there was never actually a wolf. The boy was just a little trickster who found watching the villagers scurry over to help him entertaining. Well one day, there actually was a wolf. So, the boy yelled and cried for help, but guess what happened?

The wolf had a buffet of mutton.

You see, no one came to help the guy because they thought it was just another trick. And, that’s exactly how I feel about this damn Ezekiel Elliott suspension.

He’s suspended, no wait, never mind. Oh, he’s suspended! Wait, nope. He’s playing again. I was scrolling through my Twitter feed and saw that he’s suspended again, something about him not being eligible until December. And, guess what I did?

Kept scrolling.

Until I actually don’t see Zeke on the field, I’m not believing it. Problem is, I have no choice but to assume it’s real this time for the sake of this preview. And, with that said, it’s Alfred Morris, Rod Smith, Darren McFadden; in that order.

This week, however, the Cowboys face a Falcons D which has been pretty stingy towards opposing backs in recent weeks. They’ve allowed just one rushing TD over their last six games, to go with an average of 93.9 yards per game on the season. I’d avoid the Cowboys backfield until we have some clarity (or a more obviously favorable matchup). Especially given how the Cowboys offense looked with and without Zeke on the field a season ago:

With Without
Yards/Play 6.2 5.4
Yards/Rush 5.1 3.8
Rush Play % 56.0 35.5
Pass Play % 44.0 64.5
Passer Rating 113.5 88.1

Notice the significant dip in Dak’s passer rating? Well, the Falcons secondary has been respectable this season, and I’d expect we see a drop in his performance this season as well. Yes, the Cowboys have thrown the ball a bit more this season, and Dak has looked lights out. So, maybe not the 25 point drop we saw a season ago. But again, until we know what the Cowboys offense will actually look like, it’s probably best to proceed with caution.

You have to start Dak at this point, though.

Now, the Cowboys D has also been surprisingly respectable, and it’s time to start giving Rod Marinelli some credit. I look at their roster, and I just don’t comprehend how he keeps pulling it off. Nevertheless, the Cowboys have allowed just one 300+ yard passer, rank 3rd in sacks, are allowing the 8th fewest rushing yards per game at 79.4 (RBs only), and have allowed just three WRs to go over 75 yards on them.

Damn.

Oh, and maybe you’ve noticed, but this Falcons offense has been struggling just a bit. I’m semi-comfortable with Freeman and Coleman in PPR leagues this week, because just four teams have allowed more receiving yards to backs than Dallas, but I’m cautiously optimistic on this Atlanta offense as a whole.

Cowboys 22 – Falcons 26

Ballers: Dak Prescott, Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Devonta Freeman, Tevin Coleman

Under the Radar: Rod Smith, Terrance Williams

Temper Expectations: Alfred Morris, Dez Bryant, Cole Beasley, Jason Witten, Mohamed Sanu, Austin Hooper

Bums: Darren McFadden, Taylor Gabriel

New York Giants (1-7, 3-5 ATS) at San Francisco 49ers (0-9, 4-5 ATS)

Spread: NYG -1

O/U: 42

FANTASY POINTS ALLOWED BY POSITION
QB RB WR TE DST K
NYG 20.25 (31st) 18.39 (23rd) 21.76 (23rd) 13.73 (32nd) 8.25 (20th) 9.13 (23rd)
SF 19.63 (30th) 25.81 (32nd) 21.20 (21st) 5.97 (5th) 9.33 (26th) 10.22 (30th)

You ever experience something so terrible that you begin trying to come up with ways to convince yourself that it really wasn’t as bad as it seemed? Well, if you haven’t (but plan to watch this game), that’ll likely soon change.

Listen, if you’ve been waiting to stream Beathard or Manning, this is the week to do it. The Giants run D has actually been impressive in three straight, but you’re starting Carlos Hyde. Orleans Darkwa? Absolutely. The 49ers have allowed more receiving yards to opposing backs than any other team, so hell, throw Shane Vereen out there if you wish. Not sure why you’d have a Niners WR on your roster, but if you need a streamer, the Giants are allowing 13.3 yards per reception (12th most); Marquise Goodwin ranks 3rd at 19 yards per…

The Giants should have a few starters back in the lineup for this one, but who cares? Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. And, word on the street is that the players don’t respect McAdoo. Regardless of whether or not that’s true, the film doesn’t lie, and the Giants have regularly avoided tackles while looking largely apathetic on Sundays.

At least the Niners lose passionately.

Giants 24 – 49ers 27

Ballers: Sterling Shepard, Evan Engram, Carlos Hyde

Under the Radar: Eli Manning, Orleans Darkwa, Shane Vereen (PPR), C.J. Beathard, Marquise Goodwin, George Kittle

Temper Expectations: Wayne Gallman, Pierre Garcon, Aldrick Robinson, Trent Taylor

Bums: Paul Perkins

New England Patriots (6-2, 4-4 ATS) at Denver Broncos (3-5, 2-5-1 ATS)

Spread: NE -7

O/U: 46.5

FANTASY POINTS ALLOWED BY POSITION
QB RB WR TE DST K
NE 21.58 (1st) 19.53 (26th) 26.83 (31st) 8.60 (23rd) 1.25 (1st) 5.25 (1st)
DEN 15.66 (16th) 14.95 (5th) 15.91 (4th) 11.54 (31st) 11.75 (31st) 9.88 (28th)

Tom Brady has a history of struggles in the Mile High City, and Denver has allowed the 5th fewest passing yards per game (204.9) and the fewest receiving yards per game to opposing WRs (100.9).

So, is there cause for concern this week?

None.

Denver has also given up the 2nd most receiving yards per game to opposing TEs, has allowed a TE to score in five of their eight games, has allowed seven passing TDs overall in their last three games, and Brady has this guy named Rob Gronkowski.

Thing is, outside of Brady and Gronk, you might not want to trust anyone else from New England in your fantasy lineups. Yes, Philly rushed for three TDs on this Broncos D a week ago – Denver has now allowed three rushing TDs on the season.

That was an outlier; not the norm.

Yes, Denver has allowed a receiver to catch a TD in six of their eight games, but they also don’t allow much yardage. TDs are one of the toughest things to project, so if you’re willing to risk four fantasy points, by all means, roll with Cooks or Amendola.

The odds just aren’t in their favor.

56% of the TDs which Brady has thrown to his receivers this season have gone to Chris Hogan; he also leads the team in red zone targets. So, if you’re looking to go with a Pats receiver in dfs, Hogan is your man. If you own him in your season long leagues, you’re starting him. But with Cooks and Amendola, I’d risk them balling out on the bench.

If you have viable alternatives, of course.

Meanwhile, Brock Osweiler is starting at QB for the Broncos who’ve lost four straight.

*Update: Chris Hogan has been ruled out*

Broncos 16 – Patriots 27

Ballers: Tom Brady, Chris Hogan, Rob Gronkowski

Under the Radar: Devontae Booker, Demaryius Thomas

Temper Expectations: C.J. Anderson, Emmanuel Sanders, Brandin Cooks, Danny Amendola

Bums: Brock Osweiler, Jamaal Charles, A.J. Derby

Miami Dolphins (4-4, 3-3-2 ATS) at Carolina Panthers (6-3, 5-4 ATS)

Spread: CAR -9

O/U: 39.5

FANTASY POINTS ALLOWED BY POSITION
QB RB WR TE DST K
MIA 15.26 (14th) 16.79 (10th) 18.56 (13th) 9.05 (26th) 9.75 (27th) 7.38 (12th)
CAR 13.14 (7th) 13.29 (3rd) 18.29 (10th) 6.71 (11th) 9.22 (25th) 7.33 (11th)

Only two teams have allowed opposing QBs to put up a higher passer rating than the Dolphins; Oakland and Cleveland. Miami has also held all but two QBs under 300 yards while giving up multiple TD passes in just two of eight games.

They’ll also have S T.J. McDonald for the 1st time this season.

Meanwhile, Cam Newton ranks 20th in completion percentage, and leads the league in interceptions. And, from the fantasy perspective? Well, he’s had four good games, three blah games, and two flat out bad ones; not exactly a must-start at this point.

In fact, I’d avoid him like the plague just week.

For starters, he’s averaging less than 225 passing yards, and last week – the 1st without Kelvin Benjamin – Cam attempted just 24 passes and finished with 137 yards. He also has four rushing TDs on the season, in the five games he hasn’t found the end zone with his legs, he’s averaging just 14.2 fantasy points.

Granted, they haven’t faced the most mobile of QBs, but Miami has allowed the fewest rushing yards to opposing QBs. They’ve also held opposing RBs to the 8th fewest receiving yards per game; sorry McCaffrey owners.

This Panthers offense has averaged 13.3 points per game over their last three, and it doesn’t appear they’ll be in for an offensive breakthrough this week.

Miami won’t either.

On the year, the Dolphins are averaging the fewest points per game, and they’ve put up less than seven points in three of their eight. The matchup suggested a decent performance last week, and Cutler and co delivered… The key words there were matchup. They didn’t figure things out, or anything of the sort, and the Dolphins we’ve seen all season will be back this week against this Panthers team which has limited opponents to 17.7 points per game.

As a fan of defense, I’m looking forward to this one. But, this isn’t the game you’ll want to target in your fantasy leagues.

At all.

Dolphins 13 – Panthers 23

Ballers: *shrug*

Under the Radar: Jonathan Stewart, Ed Dickson

Temper Expectations: Jay Cutler, DeVante Parker, Jarvis Landry, Kenny Stills, Cam Newton, Christian McCaffrey, Devin Funchess

Bums: Kenyan Drake, Damien Williams, Julius Thomas

As always, thanks for reading! Be sure to subscribe, and follow on Twitter (@maxingyourodds) for all of the latest insight.

 

*Thursday Night Football*

Seattle Seahawks (5-3, 3-5 ATS) at Arizona Cardinals (4-4, 2-6 ATS)

Spread: SEA -6.5

O/U: 43

FANTASY POINTS ALLOWED BY POSITION
QB RB WR TE DST K
SEA 13.24 (9th) 16.00 (8th) 20.35 (18th) 7.20 (17th) 2.25 (4th) 6.63 (7th)
ARI 19.10 (27th) 16.36 (9th) 25.14 (29th) 6.96 (15th) 8.63 (21st) 8.75 (22nd)

Doug Baldwin, COME ON DOWN!! You’re the next contestant on “Get Shut Down!” – Courtesy of Patrick Peterson.

Here are a few highlights from Season 7 of “Get Shut Down!”: T.Y. Hilton – 6 targets, 4 receptions, 49 yards; Dez Bryant – 2 targets, 2 receptions, 12 yards, 1 TD; Alshon Jeffery – 4 targets, 3 receptions, 31 yards. Mike Evans dropped 95 yards, and a TD in Week 6… P2 left that game due to a quad injury.

So, you’re benching Doug Baldwin this week, right?

Not exactly.

You see, Peterson excels on the outside, and doesn’t frequently shadow receivers in the slot. In Week 1, Golden Tate grabbed 10 passes for 107 yards against this Cards D, and he’s cut from the same cloth as Baldwin – similar build, similar style, frequents the slot. And, per playerprofiler, 54.3% of Baldwin’s snaps have come from the slot this season…

Maybe you’re not the next contestant Mr. Baldwin. Sorry, Steve Harvey moment.

As a matter of fact, over his last five against Arizona, Baldwin has averaged 7.6 receptions and 106.6 yards per game with 2 TDs (20.7 fantasy points per game in PPR scoring). Oh, and lest we forget, only five teams have allowed more passing yards per game to opposing WRs, while just three have allowed more fantasy points per game to the position.

Aka everyone not named Patrick Peterson has been getting torched… Aka Baldwin is a safe play this week… Aka Paul Richardson looks to be the unlucky contestant.

Now, last week I mentioned Pete Carroll’s claim of making Eddie Lacy the primary back, and he stayed true to his word out the gates. Problem is, Lacy went down with a groin injury and is doubtful for this one. Based on their post-Lacy injury offense, Rawls is likely to be the one who sees the bulk of carries this week. Thing is, Arizona is allowing just 3.5 yards per carry to opposing backs; 7th fewest.

Good luck with that.

It also looks like C.J. Prosise will be back this week – limiting the prospects J.D. McKissic and further convoluting the hell out of this backfield. Unless, of course, you’re in some kind of must play a Seahawks RB league, it’d be wise to avoid this backfield altogether this week. And, if you are in a must play a Seahawks RB league, well you’re a wee bit too vested in fantasy football and you should probably seek help. Immediately.

On the flip, if you want to ignore the fact that Stanton completed just 50% of his passes while putting up numbers we’re likely to see in a half (almost weekly)… Or the fact that the coaching staff trusted him so much that Adrian Peterson received more carries than he’s seen in any game over his entire 11 year career (37)… Then yes, the Cardinals offense straight on Sunday.

Peterson should be in for another busy game, but the problem is, the Seahawks are not the Niners. Yes, on the season, the Seahawks are allowing 4.1 yards per carry to opposing backs (12th most). However, the 54 yards from Lamar Miller are the most they’ve allowed on the ground over their last five games. And, over that same five game stretch, backs have averaged a microscopic 2.9 yards per carry.

Now, they’ve also allowed three rushing TDs over their last two games, and will likely be without DT Sheldon Richardson. So, while the odds are against another 100+ yard game for Peterson, he still should produce enough to justify a start this week.

Surprisingly, Drew Stanton is 7-3 as the starter for the Cardinals (9-5 in 14 career starts), and three of the last four between these two have been settled by seven points or less. However, Seattle hasn’t lost two straight in 753 days; don’t expect an upset here.

Seahawks 23 – Cardinals 16

Ballers: Russell Wilson, Doug Baldwin, Jimmy Graham, Adrian Peterson

Under the Radar: Tyler Lockett

Temper Expectations: Thomas Rawls, Larry Fitzgerald

Bums: C.J. Prosise, J.D. McKissic, Paul Richardson, Drew Stanton, Andre Ellington, Kerwynn Williams, John Brown, Jaron Brown, J.J. Nelson, Jermaine Gresham

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