The NFL Handbook – Week 11

I’ve analyzed each of the 14 Week 11 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, or have what appear to be tough matchups, 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 11 Fantasy Football Rankings

For the betting side, I used the opening spread and over/under totals from 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:, or hit me up on Twitter: @maxingyourodds

Detroit Lions (5-4, 5-4 ATS) at Chicago Bears (3-6, 5-4 ATS)

Spread: DET -3

O/U: 44

DET 15.15 (13th) 18.80 (20th) 20.87 (19th) 7.02 (16th) 8.22 (23rd) 6.67 (8th)
CHI 13.02 (5th) 18.78 (19th) 19.51 (15th) 5.79 (5th) 10.33 (29th) 9.00 (22nd)

Matthew Stafford is 8-6 in his career against Chicago; he’s also come away with a W seven of the last eight times he’s faced the Bears. The Lions haven’t won a division crown since the old NFC Central days (1993), and if they’re going to change that this season, they’ll need to at least contain the Bears rushing attack.

The Bears have run the ball on over 50% of their offensive snaps this season, with 42% of their offensive yards and 36% of their offensive point production coming on the ground

Oh, and Mitch Trubisky ranks 35th in pass attempts.

Meanwhile, Detroit is allowing over 4 yards per carry to opposing backs on the season and have surrendered more rushing TDs to the position than every team outside of Buffalo – tied with SF, IND, KC, and CHI (more on them later). And, since Week 5 at Baltimore, Jordan Howard has alternated 100+ yard performances with sub-70 yard performances – 167, 65, 102, 54… He’s due for another 100+ yard game, and the matchup is primed for it.

Now don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Trubisky have another solid outing on Sunday as well. For starters, he’s come a long way since that 7 pass attempt clusterfuck in Week 7, the Bears passing game showed signs of life last week (as Trubisky put up the best passing numbers of his young career), and the Lions have allowed more passing yards per game than all but seven teams.

It’s just hard to trust him in your fantasy lineups.

However, if you’re looking for a cheap, low ownership QB/WR/TE stack in your DFS lineups this week, Trubisky, Inman, and Brown could produce some positive results. Matthew Stafford, though? Well, there are just fewer reasons for optimism.

The Bears 26 sacks on the season rank 7th in the league – only Jacoby Brissett, and Josh McCown have been sacked more times this season than Stafford – and Chicago has limited opposing signal callers to just 224.1 yards per game (10th) while allowing just 9 passing TDs on the season (4th).

Then, there’s that part about Antonio Brown being the only receiver to hit 100 yards against them. Nope, not Julio Jones. Not Mike Evans, nor DeSean Jackson. Jordy Nelson, Davante Adams, Adam Theilen, Stefon Diggs, Michael Thomas??

Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope.

They’ve also allowed just 2 TDs to the TE position, and haven’t allowed an opposing TE to go over 45 yards since Week 1.

Not likely Staff is out slinging the ball around the yard in this one.

There is one area to be exploited, however, and it’s this Chicago run D. True, they’ve held every RB they’ve faced under 100 yards. They’re also allowing backs to pick up nearly 4 yards per carry, and find themselves tied with Detroit having allowed the 2nd most rushing TDs to opposing RBs.

Ameer Abdullah has rushed for a TD in two straight, and is slowly working his way back into the trust zone. And, with Carlos Hyde, Run CMC, and the Jets guys all on bye, Devonta Freeman likely out with a concussion, and Zeke really suspended this time, you could do far worse than Abdullah this week.

This game should be a battle. Four of the last five have gone under the projected point total, and I expect this one to be rather low scoring as well. My gut tells me the Bears will pull of the upset, but the Lions can’t afford to let this one get away. So, I’ll take the Lions to win (begrudgingly), but I like the points with Chicago.

Lions 22 – Bears 20

Ballers: Jordan Howard

Under the Radar: Ameer Abdullah, Marvin Jones, Mitch Trubisky, Dontrelle Inman, Daniel Brown

Temper Expectations: Matthew Stafford, Theo Riddick, Golden Tate, Kenny Golladay, Kendall Wright

Bums: Eric Ebron, Tarik Cohen, Benny Cunningham

Jacksonville Jaguars (6-3, 5-4 ATS) at Cleveland Browns (0-9, 2-7 ATS)

Spread: JAX -9

O/U: 38

JAX 8.32 (1st) 19.12 (24th) 12.10 (1st) 7.09 (17th) 4.44 (9th) 6.33 (6th)
CLE 19.03 (26th) 16.68 (10th) 19.37 (14th) 10.92 (30th) 12.33 (32nd) 8.33 (17th)

And then there was one.

With the 49ers victory over the Dwarfs on Sunday, the Cleveland Browns remain the only team standing among the defeated. Will this be the week that they get their 1st W?!


The Jags achilles heel had been their run D, but they haven’t allowed a single back to reach 45 yards while allowing just one rushing TD over their last three games. They’ve also allowed just 2.48 yards per carry in their two games since trading for Marcell Dareus.

This defense is scary good. And, the Browns? Well, they’re scary too. Just in the opposite sense.

DeShone Kizer leads the league in interceptions; the Jags D ranks 3rd in interceptions. Kizer has just 4 passing TDs (31st); the Jags D has allowed the fewest (6). Isaiah Crowell does rank a respectable 21st in rushing yards, but re-read the paragraph before last.

And, just because Browns fans need even more reason to kill themselves, LB Jamie Collins is done for the season.

Jags 27 – Browns 6

Ballers: Leonard Fournette, Marqise Lee

Under the Radar: Blake Bortles, Keelan Cole, Marcedes Lewis, Seth DeValve

Temper Expectations: T.J. Yeldon

Bums: Chris Ivory, Corey Grant, DeShone Kizer, Isaiah Crowell, Duke Johnson, Kenny Britt, Sammie Coates, Ricardo Louis, Rashard Higgins

Baltimore Ravens (4-5, 4-4-1 ATS) at Green Bay Packers (5-4, 4-5 ATS)

Spread: BAL -2.5

O/U: 38

BAL 10.03 (2nd) 19.05 (22nd) 14.72 (2nd) 8.78 (26th) 8.11 (21st) 7.89 (15th)
GB 15.38 (14th) 19.39 (26th) 23.90 (27th) 3.59 (1st) 7.56 (18th) 9.56 (28th)

Help me figure out how the Ravens don’t win this football game…

Ok, so Hundley has thrown for 457 yards while completing nearly 70% of his passes with 1 TD and 0 INTs, and appears to be finding a bit of a groove over his last two games.

Baltimore hasn’t allowed a single QB to reach 250 yards against them – just one has gone over 225 – and they’ve held opposing signal callers to 1.1 passing TDs per game; good for the 6th best mark.

Hundley has 1 TD through starts, and the Ravens are allowing 1 per game. 1 TD = 6 (maybe 7) points… There’s seven.

Soooo, the Packers will just lean on their ground game? Sure, but the Ravens have had Brandon Williams on the field for five games; they’ve limited opposing backs to just 76.6 yards, 3.7 yards per carry, and a measly 2 TDs in those contests. Oh, and Aaron Jones has been ruled out while Ty Montgomery re-aggravated his rib injury and is listed as questionable. Leaving the door open for Jamaal Williams and Aaron Ripkowski to handle the RB duties.

Good luck with that.

But, haven’t the Ravens been susceptible to opposing tight ends? Yep. Problem is, Martellus Bennett is a Patriot, and Lance Kendricks/Richard Rodgers have combined for 186 yards on the season; fewer than 36 tight ends have individually.

I mean, maybe it’s just me, but I’m not seeing how the Packers score more than 17 points in this one. And, while the Ravens offense has been bad, they’re still averaging 21.1 points per game. So, maybe the Packers D will come through?

Well, Green Bay has allowed 329.67 passing yards per game over their last three – this includes a matchup with Mitch Trubisky – and has given up 5 passing TDs over that stretch. They’ve also allowed a rushing TD in three of their last four games. Oh, and lest we forget the 2.3 field goal attempts they’re allowing per game; which just so happens to be ever so slightly above Justin Tucker‘s average of 2.2 per game – he’s converted on 85%.

Putting it all together, it’s likely the Ravens will put up around 20 points. And as mentioned earlier, the Packers will be lucky to hit 17.

You’ve reached the conclusion to my expert analysis.

Ravens 23 – Packers 16

Ballers: Jeremy Maclin

Under the Radar: Joe Flacco, Alex Collins, Mike Wallace

Temper Expectations: Breshad Perriman, Davante Adams, Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, Lance Kendricks, Richard Rodgers

Bums: Ben Watson, Maxx Williams, Brett Hundley, Jamaal Williams, Aaron Ripkowski

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-6, 2-6-1 ATS) at Miami Dolphins (4-5, 3-4-2 ATS)

Spread: MIA -1.5

O/U: 43.5

TB 18.18 (24th) 19.09 (23rd) 24.81 (29th) 6.31 (8th) 6.33 (15th) 7.44 (12th)
MIA 17.50 (21st) 19.46 (27th) 19.99 (17th) 9.08 (28th) 8.89 (25th) 7.67 (13th)

Don’t sleep on this game; there’s a lot at stake here. Being the NFL’s 2nd best team from Florida is a title which should not be taken lightly…

Except it’s kinda like being the richest dead guy.

Out of luck at QB? You can stream both Fitzpatrick and Cutler with a justifiable level of confidence. Every QB – not named Matt Cassel – to start (and finish) the game against either of these teams has put up double-digit fantasy points.

Frustrated Doug Martin owner? Miami has allowed 152 rushing yards per game and 4 total rushing TDs to opposing backs over their last three. Missed Mike Evans last week? Devin Funchess just had the best game of his career against this D. Wondering where Cameron Brate has been lately? The Dolphins have allowed a TE to score in five of their nine games while allowing the 9th highest yards per game average to the position.

Wondering when Jay Ajayi will get his 1st TD this season? Oh wait, he’s on the Eagles and scored in his only game donning Eagles garb after being held out of the end zone in seven games with Miami. Kenyan Drake did find the end zone last week, though – giving the Dolphins RBs their 1st rushing TD of the season. The Bucs have allowed 7 to RBs this year – tied for the 3rd most.

Jarvis Landry has a TD in five of his last six games, DeVante Parker is averaging 6 catches for 74 yards in his five full games, and Kenny Stills has 31 targets over the Dolphins last four. Only the Colts and Patriots have allowed more receiving yards per game to opposing WRs than the Bucs.

If you haven’t noticed, it looks like there will be an abundance of fantasy goodness in this game; even though it features two of the league’s weaker offenses. Sometimes, all it takes is the right matchup.

Bucs 27 – Dolphins 24

Ballers: Doug Martin, Mike Evans, Cameron Brate, DeVante Parker, Jarvis Landry

Under the Radar: Ryan Fitzpatrick, Jay Cutler, Damien Williams, Kenyan Drake

Temper Expectations: DeSean Jackson, Kenny Stills

Bums: Charles Sims, Jacquizz Rodgers, Peyton Barber, Julius Thomas

Los Angeles Rams (7-2, 6-3 ATS) at Minnesota Vikings (7-2, 6-3 ATS)

Spread: MIN -1.5

O/U: 46

LAR 12.26 (4th) 20.21 (29th) 15.74 (4th) 6.77 (13th) 1.67 (2nd) 5.33 (1st)
MIN 14.15 (10th) 12.64 (1st) 19.19 (12th) 6.79 (14th) 2.44 (5th) 8.56 (18th)

So, yeah. The Dolphins have played three straight primetime games, but this one somehow gets lost in the amidst the early slate?

Major L for the schedulers.

In any Case, is it January already? This one features two of the league’s best in what may very well end up being a preview for the NFC Championship game. Defintely must-see TV, but maybe not the most ideal matchup with regards to your fantasy teams.

Bear Bryant once said, “Offense sells tickets, but defense wins championships.” Well, what happens when you have two teams who rank in the Top-10 both offensively and defensively? I guess we’ll find out.

There’s really no need to dive into all of the numbers; both of these defenses have been dominant. Period.

The one glaring area of “weakness” is the Rams run D. Thing is, they haven’t allowed a rushing TD while limiting opposing RBs to just 73.7 rushing yards per game over their last three. Not to mention, Leonard Fournette is the only RB to have gone over 100 yards against them this season, and if you take away his 75 yard TD run, his 21 carries for 130 yards is a less than impressive 20 for 55.

Murray and McKinnon have combined to give the Vikings one of the league’s top rushing attacks. But, if you think they’re going to come out and run the ball down the Rams throats here, you might be in for a rude awakening.

Surely, there will be points scored – these two offenses are too good to be held completely in check – but good luck predicting where those points come from. LA has allowed a TE to catch a TD pass in four of their last seven, so Kyle Rudolph should make a solid play. Then there’s guys like Todd Gurley, and Stefon Diggs/Adam Thielen who’ve have established themselves as must-starts at this point… But, even they get a raised eyebrow this week.

Not the greatest advice, but if you’re deciding between two players, go with the one who’s not playing in this game. If he balls out on the bench, at least you have the numbers to make peace with the decision.

The Vikings have the slightest of edges at home.

Rams 20 – Vikings 23

Ballers: Todd Gurley, Adam Thielen, Stefon Diggs

Under the Radar: Kyle Rudolph

Temper Expectations: Everyone else

Washington Redskins (4-5, 3-6 ATS) at New Orleans Saints (7-2, 7-2 ATS)

Spread: NO -8

O/U: 49

WAS 18.11 (23rd) 17.40 (14th) 19.28 (13th) 10.87 (29th) 8.22 (23rd) 8.67 (19th)
NO 14.47 (11th) 16.37 (7th) 17.09 (8th) 6.53 (9th) 1.89 (3rd) 6.67 (8th)

Did someone mention the NFC Championship? Yeah, well we’ve all heard (or seen) that the Saints have won seven straight games. They ranking 3rd in points per game, and 6th in points allowed per. Their +103 point differential trails only the Eagles and the Rams. They boast the 3rd best rushing and the 5th best passing offenses. On, and on, and on…

They rank in the Top-10 almost universally.

Meanwhile, the Redskins have lost three of four, and are dealing with three season’s worth of injuries. But, it’s not all bad.

As I’ve mentioned in previous weeks, the Saints haven’t exactly faced the toughest schedule. Sure, they’ve held opposing QBs to an average of 130.3 passing yards over their last four games. They also faced three of the league’s worst passing offenses over that stretch; with the 4th team being a Buccaneers team that had to go to their backup unexpectedly.

Bradford (pre-injury), Brady, and Stafford each threw for 3 TDs and combined to average 368.3 passing yards against his D.

Now, Cousins is more comparable to Stafford or Bradford than he is to Trubisky or Hundley, but at the same time, we can’t just take it at that while ignoring the numbers this Saints D has put up.

One number not to be overlooked is the 52.1 receiving yards New Orleans has allowed to opposing RBs on a per game basis (5th most). Chris Thompson has more receiving yards than any other back this season.

Oh, and despite allowing the fewest receiving yards per game to the TE position (34.2) the Saints have allowed 5 TDs to the position; tied for the 4th most.

50% of the TD passes that Cousins has thrown this season have gone to either a TE or RB.

Just some food for thought.

On the flip, this Washington D has been far from domineering, and it’s largely the result of the injuries they’ve faced. Nevertheless, the ‘Skins have held all but three RBs they’ve faced to less than 75 yards, and the 3.8 yards they’ve allowed per carry is good for the 9th fewest rate.

Thing is, Ingram and Kamara have been ascendant recently. So, while the numbers might suggest pumping the breaks, you can’t bench either of them at this point. But, don’t be surprised if we see the pass first, second, third, and fourth Saints of old in this one. Washington has allowed 10 passing TDs over their last four games.

This has all the makings of a trap game. Yes, everyone preaches one week at a time, but if you don’t think that the Saints know they’ll face the Rams next week before getting into the meat of their division schedule, you’re playing yourself.

It won’t matter, though. The Saints are legit (even though I spent a few minutes of your time attempting to downplay their defense).

Redskins 24 – Saints 34

Ballers: Kirk Cousins, Chris Thompson, Vernon Davis, Drew Brees, Alvin Kamara, Mark Ingram, Michael Thomas

Under the Radar: Jamison Crowder, Brandon Coleman, Josh Hill

Temper Expectations: Samaje Perine, Ted Ginn

Bums: Josh Doctson, Ryan Grant, Terrelle Pryor, Coby Fleener

Kansas City Chiefs (6-3, 6-3 ATS) at New York Giants (1-8, 3-6 ATS)

Spread: KC -12.5

O/U: 44

KC 19.08 (27th) 17.33 (13th) 27.36 (32nd) 6.79 (14th) 2.00 (4th) 5.89 (4th)
NYG 20.78 (32nd) 18.89 (21st) 22.27 (23rd) 13.61 (32nd) 7.78 (19th) 9.00 (22nd)

I don’t know much, but I do know that the Giants still looked apathetic last week.

I also know that neither of these teams defend the tight end position very well, and that Travis Kelce and Evan Engram rank 1st and 8th among TEs in yards, respectively.

I also know that both of our time is better served without expounding the obvious. You’ll want to start your Chiefs in fantasy this week (Shepard, and Engram get the nod as well).

Chiefs 30 – Giants 20

Ballers: Alex Smith, Kareem Hunt, Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, Sterling Shepard, Evan Engram

Under the Radar: Demarcus Robinson, Eli Manning

Temper Expectations: Orleans Darkwa

Bums: Wayne Gallman, Shane Vereen

Arizona Cardinals (4-5, 2-6-1 ATS) at Houston Texans (3-6, 5-4 ATS)

Spread: PK

O/U: 39

ARI 19.13 (27th) 15.52 (6th) 24.09 (28th) 8.07 (22nd) 8.89 (25th) 8.78 (21st)
HOU 20.14 (30th) 13.59 (3rd) 26.76 (31st) 8.50 (24th) 9.67 (27th) 10.11 (32nd)

Blaine Gabbert vs. Tom Savage… It doesn’t get much better than this!

No, seriously. These two secondaries have been so atrocious that we might question whether Gabbert and Savage are actually decent NFL quarterbacks by the time this one ends.

Now, I’ve spent the past three weeks telling you the Texans are among the league’s worst in yards per reception to opposing WRs. And, for three straight weeks, you’ve been satisfied with your receivers production (if you listened).

Well, it hasn’t changed. The Texans are still allowing the highest average per catch, and your guy to watch this week is J.J. Nelson.

Sure, Larry Fitzgerald is a volume guy, and he’ll get his. But, at 16.6 yards per reception, Nelson ranks 9th among WRs. Granted, having Gabbert on the passing end isn’t ideal, but neither is allowing receivers to put up 16.1 yards per catch.

Oh, and the Cards have allowed 14.8 yards per reception – good for the 3rd highest clip. Will Fuller ranks 3rd among WRs in yards per catch, but he’ll miss this one due to a rib injury. Sad! Look for Bruce Ellington – who’s seen 16 targets in the two games with Savage back under center – to ball all the way out.

Both of these run Ds have been dominant, however. So, just stick to the passers, and catchers of passes for fantasy purposes.

… I guess the Texans win because they’re at home. But, just flip a coin. They both suck. Over is the way to go, though.

Cardinals 20 – Texans 23

Ballers: Larry Fitzgerald

Under the Radar: Blaine Gabbert, J.J. Nelson, Jermaine Gresham, Bruce Ellington, C.J. Fiedorowicz

Temper Expectations: Adrian Peterson, Lamar Miller, DeAndre Hopkins

Bums: Andre Ellington, John Brown

Buffalo Bills (5-4, 5-3-1 ATS) at Los Angeles Chargers (3-6, 4-4-1 ATS)



BUF 13.02 (5th) 22.46 (31st) 17.29 (9th) 6.74 (12th) 6.11 (14th) 8.67 (19th)
LAC 13.92 (9th) 19.36 (25th) 21.12 (20th) 5.02 (2nd) 5.00 (10th) 7.78 (14th)

“We see your Gabbert/Savage, and raise you Peterman/Clemens” – Bills and Chargers (probably)

Listen, both of these defenses have been stingy against the pass. So, whether it’s the rookie Nathan Peterman making his 1st career start (on the road), or the veteran Kellen Clemens who hasn’t started a game since 2013…

No. Thanks.

Hopefully you listened, and picked up the Chargers DST last week. If not, well go see if they’re still out there. LA’s defense is tied for 2nd on the year with 29 sacks, and has caught six passes which were intended for the opposing team’s players over their last four games. On the season, the Bills have allowed 28 sacks; tied for the 7th most. And, did I mention they’re starting this Peterman guy this week?

LeSean McCoy is sure to see a heavy workload, but the Chargers D has been surprisingly stout against the run (despite the numbers). The 56 yard TD run from Corey Grant is a major black eye, but they also managed to hold Leonard Fournette to 33 yards despite 17 carries a week ago. In fact, they haven’t allowed a single RB to gain more than 70 yards on the ground in five straight games while allowing just two rushing TDs over that stretch.

They also got LB Denzel Perryman back last week.

On the complete opposite end of the spectrum, remember that mention of Marcell Dareus earlier? How since being traded to the Jags, Jacksonville has allowed a mere 2.48 yards per carry? Well, guess what? He was traded from Buffalo. And, in the two games since parting ways with Dareus, the Bills have allowed 237.5 rushing yards per game, over 6 yards per carry, and a total of 7 rushing TDs to opposing RBs.

Buffalo was allowing just 70.6 rushing yards per game, 3.3 yards per carry, and had allowed just two rushing TDs to opposing backs in the five games played with him in their lineup.

Coincidence? Maybe. But, if you decide to throw a Hail Mary on Austin Ekeler this week, I won’t blame you the slightest bit. In fact, I’d applaud you.

The Bills might not win another game this season.

Bills 9 – Chargers 27

Ballers: Melvin Gordon

Under the Radar: Austin Ekeler

Temper Expectations: LeSean McCoy, Kelvin Benjamin, Charles Clay, Keenan Allen, Hunter Henry

Bums: Nathan Peterman, Deonte Thompson, Jordan Matthews, Kellen Clemens, Tyrell Williams, Travis Benjamin, Antonio Gates

Cincinnati Bengals (3-6, 4-5 ATS) at Denver Broncos (3-6, 2-6-1 ATS)

Spread: DEN -2.5

O/U: 40

CIN 14.58 (12th) 17.60 (16th) 16.29 (6th) 6.67 (10th) 9.78 (28th) 9.33 (25th)
DEN 16.60 (18th) 17.66 (17th) 15.54 (3rd) 12.29 (31st) 11.89 (31st) 10.00 (30th)

What’s that you say?! Another enthralling matchup between two fabled quarterbacks? Even more gold jackets to be distributed? Oodles, upon oodles, of passing yards?!

I’m gleeful.

All jokes aside, I’d rather watch Gabbert v. Savage or Peterman v. Clemens than watch Dalton and Osweiler go at it. With the former(s), we at least get some of the unknown element… We know what Dalton and Osweiler are.

Anyway, let me extend my utmost condolences if you’re having to start either Dalton or Osweiler in any fantasy league that doesn’t require 2-QBs and/or isn’t 16 teams deep. However, Dalton has been serviceable (for the most part), and draws a Denver D which has allowed at least 2 TD passes in six of their nine games – with 32% of the TDs receptions going to the TE position, and 42% landing in the hands of WRs…

A.J. Green and Tyler Kroft are responsible for 8 of Dalton’s 13 TD passes this season.

No receiver has gone over 90 yards against this Broncos defense, though. So, Green is a TD dependent play. But, at the same time, he’s A.J. Green. Meanwhile, Kroft appears to be relatively safe across the board; Denver has allowed more receiving yards to the TE position than any other team.

Speaking of TD dependency, Joe Mixon now has a rushing TD in two straight games. He’s also rushed for just 31 yards in each of those contests, and has failed to exceed 75 yards in a game this season. In fact, his 62 yards in Week 3 are the most a Cincy RB has put up on the season, and his 2.9 yards per carry rank 99th among RBs.

Denver has allowed just four rushing TDs on the season.

But, for as good as this Broncos run D has been, their rushing offense has been its antithesis. As a unit, Denver’s RBs have failed to reach 100 yards rushing in three of their last five games, and have a total of three rushing TDs on the season.

Meanwhile, Cincy has allowed just two backs to go over 75 yards rushing on them, and has limited them to just three trips to the end zone on the ground – including DeMarco Murray’s two last week.

Points will likely come at a premium for this Broncos offense.

I mean, if you want to put weight in Emmanuel Sanders‘ 6 receptions and 137 yards last week, then be my guest. But, the Bengals have allowed just one WR to go over 100 yards on them. And, it came as the result of a 72-yard pass in OT.

Osweiler + Stingy secondary = No thanks

Cincy’s offense has been bad, but Denver’s hasn’t fared much better. So, shifting the focus to the defenses, the numbers suggest the Bengals are more likely to score… Give me the +3 with Cincinnati.

Bengals 20 – Broncos 16

Ballers: A.J. Green

Under the Radar: Tyler Kroft

Temper Expectations: Andy Dalton, Brandon LaFell, C.J. Anderson, Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders

Bums: Joe Mixon, Giovani Bernard, Brock Osweiler, Devontae Booker, Jamaal Charles, A.J. Derby

New England Patriots (7-2, 5-4 ATS) at Oakland Raiders (4-5, 3-5-1 ATS)

Spread: NE -5

O/U: 50

NE 20.38 (31st) 18.74 (18th) 26.61 (30th) 7.71 (19th) 0.78 (1st) 5.78 (2nd)
OAK 17.36 (20th) 19.91 (28th) 18.87 (11th) 8.89 (27th) 6.00 (13th) 9.56 (28th)

This one is being played in Mexico City, and if last season was any indication, the Raiders will have the “home field” advantage. They’ll need any advantage they can glean as the Pats have rattled off five straight Ws, and appear to be regaining their dominant form.

After allowing each of the QBs they faced in their 1st five games to throw for more than 300 yards – and giving up 10 passing TDs over that stretch – the Pats have limited their last 3 QB foes (Matt Ryan, Philip Rivers, and Brock Osweiler) to just 222 yards per game with three total TDs. Coincidentally, after failing to exceed 275 yards passing in his 1st five games, Derek Carr has thrown for 343.3 with 5 TDs over his last three.

Something has to give.

Thing is, TE Jared Cook is averaging 96.7 receiving yards over the Raiders last three games, and has been the main contributor to the Carr renaissance…

The Patriots have completely erased opposing TEs over their last three games.

  • Austin Hooper: 1 target, 1 reception, 6 yards
  • Hunter Henry: 2 targets, 2 receptions, 11 yards
  • Antonio Gates: 2 targets, 2 receptions, 25 yards
  • A.J. Derby: 1 target, 1 reception, 2 yards
  • Jeff Heuerman: 3 targets, 1 reception, 4 yards

Not exactly murderer’s row, but impressive nonetheless.

Needless to say, Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper – who have been largely disappointing – will need to perform at the level we’ve seen in years past. And, after seeing Brock Osweiler connect with Emmanuel Sanders 6 times for 137 yards Sunday night, Crabtree figures to be the guy to look out for.

Unfortunately for the Raiders, Carr’s improvements through the air haven’t translated to much success with the rushing game. Since Marshawn Lynch put up 76 rushing yards in Week 1, no Raiders RB has managed to reach 65 yards on the ground, and just five teams have rushed for fewer yards on the season.

Look for that to change this week.

Yes, the Pats have allowed just 4 rushing TDs on the ground to opposing backs this season, but they’ve also allowed them to pick up 5 yards per carry. Marshawn Lynch could be in for the most yardage he’s seen in the black and silver.

… You’re starting your Pats.

Patriots 31 – Raiders 23

Ballers: Tom Brady, Brandin Cooks, Rob Gronkowski, Derek Carr, Marshawn Lynch, Michael Crabtree

Under the Radar: Rex Burkhead, James White, Phillip Dorsett, Jalen Richard/DeAndre Washington

Temper Expectations: Danny Amendola, Jared Cook

Bums: Martellus Bennett

Philadelphia Eagles (8-1, 7-2 ATS) at Dallas Cowboys (5-4, 5-4 ATS)

Spread: PHI -3.5

O/U: 47

PHI 16.50 (16th) 13.56 (2nd) 20.56 (18th) 8.22 (23rd) 3.44 (7th) 7.22 (11th)
DAL 16.79 (19th) 16.98 (11th) 22.63 (24th) 7.29 (18th) 4.11 (8th) 8.00 (16th)

It’d be easy to view the Cowboys performance last week, and say this team is dead without Ezekiel Elliott. Easy, but inaccurate.

Obviously, the offense will not flow the same without Zeke, but the bigger issue last week was the loss of LT Tyron Smith – who remains questionable heading into this contest. If you watched any of the game, saw a highlight, heard a play-by-play, read the paper… Odds are, you came across Dak Prescott being sacked or running for his life.

Fletcher Cox, Vinny Curry, and Derek Barnett have combined for 10 of the Eagles 25 sacks.

The Cowboys need Tyron Smith.

Now regardless of whether or not Smith plays, you’d be wise to avoid the Cowboys backs in your lineups this week. The Eagles have allowed just 43.6 rushing yards per game (fewest), 2.9 yards per carry (fewest), and 3 rushing TDs (3rd) to opposing backs on the season.

Don’t be foolish.

In fact, the complete list of Cowboys you’ll want to consider this week goes: Dak Prescott, and Dez Bryant. Maaaybe Jason Witten.

… You’re starting your Eagles.

Eagles 24 – Cowboys 20

Ballers: Carson Wentz, Jay Ajayi, Zach Ertz, Dak Prescott, Dez Bryant

Under the Radar: Corey Clement, Nelson Agholor

Temper Expectations: Alshon Jeffery, Jason Witten

Bums: Mack Hollins, Torrey Smith, Alfred Morris, Rod Smith, Darren McFadden, Terrance Williams, Cole Beasley

Atlanta Falcons (5-4, 3-6 ATS) at Seattle Seahawks (6-3, 3-5-1 ATS)

Spread: SEA -3

O/U: 45

ATL 15.82 (15th) 17.08 (12th) 16.90 (7th) 5.64 (4th) 5.22 (11th) 9.22 (24th)
SEA 13.44 (8th) 15.47 (5th) 19.98 (16th) 7.78 (20th) 2.78 (6th) 6.44 (7th)

In case you didn’t know, the seahawk is actually a real bird. Except it’s not. It’s an osprey. But, real nonetheless.

Moving on…

If this game were being played three weeks ago, it’d be a heavyweight battle. Instead, the Falcons will likely be without Devonta Freeman while the Seahawks will be missing the services of Richard Sherman, et al.

On the Atlanta side of things, the Freeman/Coleman duo has been more of a 1a/1b type situation than a Zeke to Morris type situation. The loss of Freeman just means more touches for Coleman, and isn’t necessarily damning for this offense. Problem is, Seattle’s run D has allowed just 78.7 yards per game and 3.8 yards per carry to opposing RBs; they’ve also allowed the 2nd fewest receiving yards to the position.

Freeman or not, good luck with that.

For Seattle, losing one of the top corners in the league is obviously a punch to the gut. However, they should have Earl Thomas back this week; so it’s not all bad. I mean if you had two $100 bills, and lost them both. Would you rather get one back, or just go about your day with neither?

Julio Jones was going to get his regardless.

On the flip, all we ever hear about is Seattle, and Denver (now Jacksonville) when it comes to secondaries. But, this Falcons team ranks among the league’s best in defending the pass. Robby Anderson is the only WR to drop over 100 yards on them this season, and they’ve allowed fewer passing yards than all but four teams. They also happen to be tied for 7th with 26 sacks.

Russell Wilson has been sacked 23 times – more than all but seven QBs.

So, are you benching Wilson this week? Absolutely not. True, Atlanta poses arguably the toughest test Wilson has seen this season, but the Falcons faced Cam and Dak in their last two games; each of them scored a rushing TD and they combined to put up 128 yards on the ground. Wilson ranks 2nd among QBs in rushing yards.

The passing numbers won’t likely be gaudy in this one, but he’ll do enough with his legs to be a serviceable play this week.

That said, if you have viable alternatives for Graham and/or Baldwin, it wouldn’t be the worst idea to bench either guy. Depending on format, of course. Baldwin is a PPR machine – averaging 6 catches per game – and Graham hasn’t put up single-digit fantasy points in PPR scoring for seven straight weeks now.

But matchups hold a bit more weight in leagues which don’t award points per reception, and this one isn’t exactly favorable.

All told, I don’t expect this to be a shootout (even with the injuries to Seattle’s D). Both of these teams have gone under the implied Vegas point total in 66.7% of their games (6-3), and rank in the Top-10 in points allowed per game. So, take the under. But, as far as the winner? Neither team has really impressed this season, but the ‘Hawks are tough to beat at home.

Falcons 17 – Seahawks 19

Ballers: Julio Jones, Jimmy Graham

Under the Radar: Matt Ryan, Austin Hooper

Temper Expectations: Tevin Coleman, Mohamed Sanu, Thomas Rawls, J.D. McKissic, Doug Baldwin

Bums: Taylor Gabriel, Paul Richardson, Tyler Lockett

As always, thanks for reading! Be sure to subscribe, and follow @maxingyourodds on Twitter to stay up to date with the latest fantasy insight.


– Thursday Night Football –

Tennessee Titans (6-3, 3-5-1 ATS) at Pittsburgh Steelers (7-2, 5-4 ATS)

Spread: PIT -7

O/U: 43.5

TEN 16.53 (16th) 16.63 (9th) 22.78 (25th) 6.07 (6th) 6.67 (16th) 9.44 (26th)
PIT 11.44 (3rd) 16.42 (8th) 15.88 (5th) 5.36 (3rd) 5.44 (12th) 6.22 (5th)

The Steelers have won four straight, with just two losses to their name on the season. However, one of those losses came to the Bears, and two of their wins – the Colts and Browns – came by a combined six points. They could very easily be 5-4, with three losses at the hands of three of the league’s worst teams.

I’m crowing them the best worst team of 2017.

One thing that has been the best best, though? Their pass D – which has held opposing QBs to the 3rd fewest passing yards per game (205.7) while limiting them to just 8 passing TDs (3rd fewest), and a 76.5 QB rate (4th lowest). Problem is, CB Joe Haden is out for this one while S Mike Mitchell is listed as doubtful.

Not to mention, they’ve been human over the past two weeks.

Great news for Marcus Mariota; who’s having a less than stellar season (and, that’s putting it lightly). His 62.1% completion rate ranks 19th, he has fewer passing TDs than Joe Flacco, Trevor Siemian, and Jacoby Brissett, and his 83.1 QB rate is lower than all but 8 qualified QBs.

Another plus for Mariota is this Steelers run D. Sure, on the season, Pittsburgh has generously allowed opposing RBs to pick up 4.4 yards per carry. But, they haven’t allowed a rushing TD while holding opposing backs to an average of 52 yards per game and just 3 yards per carry over their last four.

Oh, and DeMarco Murray has gone over 75 all-purpose yards in just four of the Titans nine games, and that number is just two for Derrick Henry. These two have also combined to average just 17 carries per game over the Titans last two…

Seems pretty likely that Mariota will carry the brunt of the load for this Titans offense on Thursday night, and taking the over on his season average of 15.4 fantasy points seems like a relatively safe bet.

That said, you also have to like Rishard Matthews and Corey Davis this week. Since Davis’ return, the duo has combined to see over 70% of Mariota’s passes which have targeted his WRs (41 total: 15 targets for Davis, 14 for Matthews), and Delanie Walker – who leads all Titans in targets this season – will be dealing with a Steelers team which has allowed the 4th fewest yards per game and just 2 total TDs to the TE position on the season.

And for the Steelers offense? Well, it’s looking like this might turn out to be a battle of the QBs.

The Titans have allowed just one rushing TD to an opposing RB over their last five games while holding them to 66 yards per game and 3.3 yards per carry. They’ve also allowed 53.3 receiving yards per game to opposing backs – more than all but one team. So, no. Don’t bench Le’Veon Bell. He’ll see more than enough volume on the ground, and through the air to be effective, just don’t be surprised to see his rushing total fall below 100 for a 3rd straight week.

But, Roethlisberger, Brown, Smith-Schuster?

Yes. Yes. Yes.

The major weakness of this Titans D is their secondary. A secondary which has allowed an average of 190.5 receiving yards per game to receivers over their last two.

Overall, I believe the Steelers are the more talented team. Plus, they’ll have the advantage of playing at home. Now, the players might not like them, but the Thursday Night Football games have been largely competitive this season. This figures to be yet another. So, while I like Pittsburgh to come out on top here, the Titans have more than enough talent to keep this one within a TD.

Titans 20 – Steelers 23

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

Under the Radar: Corey Davis, Rishard Matthews

Temper Expectations: DeMarco Murray, Derrick Henry, Delanie Walker

Bums: Eric Decker, Martavis Bryant, Vance McDonald